The Promise Ring

  (Redirected from Falsetto Keeps Time)

The Promise Ring is an American rock band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin that are recognized as part of the second wave of emo.[6][7] Formed in 1995, they first split up in 2002 and have reunited occasionally since 2005. The band has released four studio albums, plus various EPs and singles.

The Promise Ring
OriginMilwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
Genres
Years active
  • 1995–2002
  • 2005
  • 2011–2012
  • 2015–present
Labels
Associated acts
Members
Past members
  • Tim Burton
  • Scott Beschta
  • Ryan Weber

HistoryEdit

Formation (1995)Edit

The Promise Ring were formed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin from the aftermath of several Midwest emo groups[8] in February 1995: guitarists Jason Gnewikow and Matt Mangan (both formerly of None Left Standing), drummer Dan Didier and bassist Scott Beschta (both formerly of Ceilishrine). Mangan moved to Indianapolis soon after the group formed,[9] resulting in them inviting Cap'n Jazz guitarist Davey von Bohlen as Mangan's replacement after he had moved to Milwaukee.[10] Von Bohlen was friends with Gnewikow prior to this, but Didier and Beschta became new acquaintances to him after joining the group.[9] The band recorded a three-track demo which included "Jupiter", "12 Sweaters Red" and "Mineral Point" that March,[11] and played their first show shortly afterwards.[12] In June, the group went on a 10-day tour of the East Coast; after a brief five-day rest, Bohlen went back on tour with Cap'n Jazz to support the release of their debut. After the ninth day of the tour, Cap'n Jazz broke up,[9] and Bohlen was able to focus his time on the Promise Ring.[8]

Early releases and 30° Everywhere (1996–1997)Edit

The band released a 7" vinyl single through Foresight Records, which contained the tracks "Watertown Plank" and "Mineral Point".[8] Foresight was owned by a friend of theirs.[13] The band then went on tour, performing in church halls and basements across the US.[13] Texas Is the Reason guitarist Norman Brannon acquired copies of the group's demo and 7" single and gave them to Jade Tree co-founder Tim Own.[9] Shortly afterwards, the band were signed to the independent label for a three-album contract.[14] After further touring at the start of 1996,[13] the Falsetto Keeps Time EP was released in February,[15] and was followed by a split single with Texas Is the Reason in May.[16] Both releases were successful, with the band continuing to tour and work on material that would feature on their debut album.[13]

The Promise Ring's first studio album, titled 30° Everywhere, was released by Jade Tree in September 1996.[17] Retrospectively, band members have voiced their dislike of the record; according to Bohlen, the album was recorded in only five days. The band additionally was confused about how they wanted to approach the music on the new record; Bohlen described the situation as one "where we had no idea what we wanted to do or how we wanted it to come out."[9] Didier later spoke of his dislike of Casey Rice's engineering on the record, as well as Bohlen's illness during the recording: "it was the wrong recording at the wrong time with the wrong person."[9]

Despite this, the release was an underground success, earning the group attention from independent publications.[8] The attention was drawn and aided by the inclusion of "A Picture Postcard", which had earlier appeared on Falsetto Keeps Time and would go on to become a staple of the emo genre.[18] The song again appeared as part of an EP titled The Horse Latitudes, which effectively reissued the band's earlier work in early 1997.[8] Although the band had 500–600 copies of 30° Everywhere to sell over the course of several gigs, they managed to sell all the copies in one show when they reached CBGB's.[9] The band further promoted 30° Everywhere starting with a six-week US tour with Texas Is the Reason,[13] followed by a European tour in April and May 1997.[13]

Nothing Feels Good (1997–1998)Edit

Immediately following the European tour's conclusion, the band began writing new material for their second album,[13] sometimes jamming for inspiration.[19] The group went to Memphis, Tennessee and recorded the album, titled Nothing Feels Good, at Easley McCain Recording with producer J. Robbins of Jawbox.[13] The group opted for a cleaner, more pop-oriented sound with the help of Robbins, which contrasted 30° Everywhere and the punk rock-like approach Bohlen used in Cap'n Jazz.[18] The relationship between Didier and Beschta throughout the sessions progressively deteriorated.[9] Around the release of Nothing Feels Good,[20] Beschta was replaced by Tim Burton for the album's supporting tour. Burton was a former bandmate with Gnewikow in None Left Standing.[8] A music video was made for the album's fourth track, "Why Did Ever We Meet"; it was directed by Darren Doane.[21] Though the sessions were marked by turbulence, the album received excellent critical reception,[22][23][24][25] and was featured on best-of album lists for the year by the likes of The New York Times and Teen People.[13]

In February 1998, the band were traveling back home from a show,[26] while on tour with Hum,[9] in the midst of a snowstorm.[8] Their van flipped over after Bohlen hit a bump on the road;[26] Bohlen flew head-first through the windshield. Bohlen (who had head trauma), Burton (who had broken bones)[18] and Didier, were released from hospital the following morning. Gnewikow, however, was in the intensive care unit for three further weeks due to a broken collarbone and other injuries.[26] Following the van accident, the band decided to replace their guitarist once again, hiring Scott Schoenbeck in favor of Burton.[8] The band took a six-week break to recover from the van accident before resuming shows with Jimmy Eat World in the East Coast of the US,[9] and a European stint with Jets to Brazil. The band again toured with Jets to Brazil across the US in October and Japan in November.[27]

Boys + Girls, Very Emergency and Electric Pink (1998–2001)Edit

In October 1998, the band released the Boys + Girls EP, which contained the two tracks "Tell Everyone We're Dead" and "Best Looking Boys".[28] These two tracks showcased the band move in a more pop-oriented direction.[29] In March 1999, the band performed new material during a few shows, leading up to their European tour that April. Following that stint, the group began recording their next album Very Emergency, at Inner Ear Studios in Washington, D.C.[30] J. Robbins would return as producer of the new album, but production credit was this time split between Robbins and the band.[31] Robbins, Jenny Toomey and Smart Went Crazy member Hilary Soldati made guest appearances on the album. The recordings were mixed at Smart Studios, before they were mastered by Alan Douches at West Side Music.[31] The sessions resulted in an album which moved much more towards power pop than emo,[32][33][34] much like its predecessor Boys + Girls.

Jade Tree released Very Emergency on September 28, 1999.[35] Around the time of release, they went on a brief tour to promote the album on the East Coast and in Canada with Euphone.[36] Darren Doane returned to film the music video for "Emergency! Emergency!";[12] the band agreed to make the video because Doane volunteered to do it for free.[37] It premiered on 120 Minutes in October.[38] The band reconvened with Robbins to tour the US with his band, Burning Airlines, through October and November;[13] they were joined by Pele and the Dismemberment Plan, among others. Further shows were added with Burning Airlines, pushing the trek into early December.[39] The band performed in Japan in February 2000,[40] before taking a break. They went on an American East Coast and Midwest tour the following month[41] with Rich Creamy Paint, the Explosion and Pele.[42]

In May and June, the band were scheduled to go on a European tour with Burning Airlines,[43] however, on the day they were due to leave to begin the shows,[44] Bohlen was diagnosed with meningioma, a brain tumor variant. The tour was immediately cancelled[45] and Bohlen underwent surgery on May 8.[46] Up to this point, he had been suffering from strong headaches whenever the band performed for a year and a half.[44] Two outtakes from the Very Emergency sessions were included on the Electric Pink EP, released in mid-May.[47] The band took the next few months off to recuperate.[48] They began playing shows again in September, when the band supported Bad Religion[49] for three weeks on their US tour;[44] however, Bohlen developed a post-operative infection during this stint that resulted in the group dropping off.[45] They played shows in February 2001 to make up for the cancelled shows they had planned for December.[50]

New record label, Wood/Water and disbandment (2001–2002)Edit

After finishing the rescheduled tour dates in February, the Promise Ring went and worked on material with Kristian Riley of Citizen King.[51] The sessions with Riley resulted in yet another stylistic turn, differed from that of Very Emergency.[52][53]

By March 2001, the band had parted ways with Jade Tree, as the label was unable to give the amount of financial support that the band was looking for.[54] After being courted by Epitaph Records,[55][56] the group signed with their imprint Anti- later that year.[44][57] With Anti-, the group were looking to move even further away from emo, which the band had become increasingly known for while on Jade Tree. Bohlen would liken his band and the label to each other as stylistically synonymous.[58][59] The group also experienced licensing conflicts with Jade Tree, resulting in difficulties distributing the Promise Ring's releases to labels in other countries, including European releases of Electric Pink and album releases in Japan.[14]

With Didier, Bohlen and Gnewikow being fans of the Smiths and Blur, the band chose Stephen Street to produce their fourth album, as he had produced for both of those groups.[60] The band ran into budget issues after Street went on vacation and were unable to contact him,[61] so they instead decided to split the recording between Street in the London and Mario Caldato Jr. in Los Angeles. "Say Goodbye Good" was produced by Caldato during this period, but the majority of the record ended up being produced by Street at Jacobs Studios in Farnham.[62][52] Schoenbeck was unhappy with the stylistic change during the Los Angeles sessions, and left before working with Street.[56][63] He was replaced by Ryan Weber of Camden for the remainder of the album's recording.[64][65] The sessions resulted in an alternative country,[64][66] indie rock,[67][68] and pop album,[69] with elements of roots rock, alternative pop,[22] and psychedelic pop.[60]

The title, Wood/Water, was announced in December 2001; it would be released on April 23, 2002.[70] It was preceded by an online release of "Get on the Floor" in March,[71] as well as an appearance at South by Southwest later that month.[45] During this performance, Bohlen fainted; he had additional surgery over the next few weeks involving a plate being implanted in his head.[72] Wood/Water was made available for streaming in its entirety on March 26, 2002 via a microsite before its April 23 release.[73][74][75] The album spawned a single and music video for "Stop Playing Guitar". The video was posted online on May 3, and it was directed by former GusGus members Arni + Kinski.[76][77] The song was also released as a single on July 9 on 7" vinyl and CD.[78][79][80]

To promote the album, the Promise Ring began by delivering two acoustic in-store performances. Former Camden member William Seidel was drafted as the band's touring keyboardist,[53] and they then headlined a US tour in April and May of 2002, being supported by the Weakerthans.[81] On May 24, 2002, the band performed on Late Night with Conan O'Brien,[82] then moved on to a supporting slot on Jimmy Eat World's tour of the UK. Wood/Water was released in the UK during this stint on May 27, 2002.[83][84] The Promise Ring's supporting slot for Jimmy Eat World continued into some US dates in late July and early August of 2002.[84] In September and October, the band made what would be their final appearances as part of the 2002 Plea for Peace tour.[85]

Although the Promise Ring planned to film a video for "Suffer Never" after Plea for Peace,[56] Epitaph and Anti- announced on October 14, 2002 that they had broken up.[86] The band explained the following week that they had decided to focus on other projects, and had considered parting ways for several months.[87]

ReunionsEdit

The band reunited for the Flower 15 Festival in late November 2005 in Chicago, at Metro Chicago.[88]

In mid-June 2009, a hidden webpage was discovered on the Anti website detailing an upcoming Promise Ring greatest hits compilation entitled, It's Not Brain Surgery: The Best Of. The page was subsequently removed and no official release information has yet surfaced about this posthumous compilation.

On November 18, 2011, The Promise Ring alluded to a second reunion via their Twitter, writing: "Hello again...".[89][90][91][92] Four days later, the band announced that they would be performing live on February 24, 2012 at Turner Hall in Milwaukee, which was followed by a Chicago date at the Metro on February 25.[93] Drummer Dan Didier said that there would likely be more shows. To coincide with the reunion, The Promise Ring announced they would be releasing a rarities collection in the summer of 2012 on former (and reunited) manager Jeff Castelaz's record label, Dangerbird Records.[94] As of October 2015, the collection has not been released.

The Promise Ring performed at the 2012 Bamboozle Festival in Asbury Park, New Jersey with Foo Fighters, Blink-182, Jimmy Eat World, and others.[95]

The band played at the Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin on November 4, 2012.

The performed again in 2015 on New Year's Eve at Metro Chicago, playing their second album, Nothing Feels Good, in its entirety.

On August 14, 2016, The Promise Ring played the second Wrecking Ball festival in Atlanta. This event was the last to be held at The Masquerade.

DiscographyEdit

Studio albums

Title Details
30° Everywhere
Nothing Feels Good
  • Released: October 14, 1997
  • Label: Jade Tree
  • Format: CD, CS, DL, LP
Very Emergency
  • Released: September 28, 1999
  • Label: Jade Tree
  • Format: CD, DL, LP
Wood/Water
  • Released: April 23, 2002
  • Label: Anti-
  • Format: CD, DL, LP

Extended plays

Title Details
The Promise Ring
  • Released: March 1995
  • Label: Self-released
  • Format: CS
Falsetto Keeps Time
  • Released: February 9, 1996
  • Label: Jade Tree
  • Format: 7" vinyl
The Promise Ring/Texas Is the Reason (split)
  • Released: May 10, 1996
  • Label: Jade Tree
  • Format: 7" vinyl
The Horse Latitudes
  • Released: February 10, 1997
  • Label: Jade Tree
  • Format: CD, DL, 12" vinyl
Boys + Girls
  • Released: October 27, 1998
  • Label: Jade Tree
  • Format: CD, DL, 7" vinyl
Electric Pink
  • Released: May 16, 2000
  • Label: Jade Tree
  • Format: CD, DL

Singles

Title Year Album
"Watertown Plank"/"Mineral Point" 1995 Non-album single
"Stop Playing Guitar" 2002 Wood/Water

Music videos

Title Year Director(s)
"Why Did Ever We Meet" 1997 Darren Doane
"Emergency! Emergency!" 1999
"Stop Playing Guitar" 2002 Arni + Kinski

Other appearances

Title Year Album
"Ooh Do I Love You" 1996 Ooh Do I Love You
"Pink Chimneys" 1997 (Don't Forget To) Breathe
"Red Paint" (live) The Basement Recordings – Live At Cicero's
"Gouge Away" (Pixies cover) 1999 Where Is My Mind?: A Tribute to the Pixies
"You Are So Unreal" (Metroschifter cover) 2000 Encapsulated
"Holiday Adam" A Very Milky Christmas
"Easy" 2002 Location Is Everything Vol. 1

ReferencesEdit

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