In seizing the opportunity to rejoin his old friend, Nicholas became the final piece of the puzzle. The newly-christened Chum soon thereafter began composing the material that would comprise their live stage show. The bands first Huntington performance was alongside the mighty Clutch at the defunct Gumbys, a local venue founded by the late Jon Kerwood. Chum plowed ahead and played as often as possible, generating an enthusiastic fan base, honing their skills and fine tuning the sound with which they would forever be synonymous. Armed with the raw material and a new-found confidence, the band set out for Barrick Recording, a Glasgow, Kentucky, recording studio owned and operated by David Barrick, who had previously helmed Black Cat Bones Truth in 1992. (Chums involvement with Barrick would produce two, self-financed, cassette-only 1994 EPs, Postblisstheory and Godgiven, and, ultimately, the album that would put the band on the musical map Dead to the World.) With recorded product readily available to those interested listeners, Chum set out for the open road, determined to bring their distinctive sound to East Coast audiences.
That trek led to a showcase performance at New York Citys infamous punk haven, CBGB, a show that was attended by Monte Conner, A&R of Roadrunner Records. Conner liked what he saw in the band, but didnt feel that Chum would quite gel with his labels roster that, at the time, consisted of such extreme metal acts as Sepultura, Obituary and Death, among many others. Rather than taking a complete pass on the band, Conner decided that Chum might actually be a better fit for the Santa Monica, California-based Century Media Records, and contacted his friend and fellow A&R representative, Borivoj Krgin. An excited Krgin offered the band a modest recording contract and Chum, after flirting briefly with representatives from Sony Records, who had also attended the same New York City show, inked the deal that would make Century Media Records their only recorded home.
Century Media then put up the money that was needed to get Chum in the recording studio and at work on their debut album. After entertaining offers from Fudge Tunnel main man Alex Newport, Kings Xs Doug Pinnick and renowned noise merchant Ross Robinson to produce, the band settled on familiarity and selected Barrick. The recording of Chums debut, Dead to the World, began in November 1995, and much of the material that would comprise the album was culled from Lancasters own personal experiences. Dead to the Worlds opening track, Stepping on Cracks, one of the albums many standout tracks, is a particularly revealing portrait of child neglect that he had witnessed first-hand. Before Dead to the World would even arrive on record shelves the following April, however, Nicholas jumped shipped and joined West Virginia contemporaries, Karma to Burn, who had recently signed their own record deal, with the aforementioned Roadrunner. Chum soldiered on by recruiting Kent, Ohio, native, Elliot Hoffman.
His tenure was short-lived and the band then drafted Durham, North Carolinas Carlos Torres who, ironically, had auditioned for the vacant drummers slot following Nicholas departure. With the lineup again stabilized, Chum began writing and recording the material that would comprise their second album. Some of that new material, Embracing the Eyesore, Raise Your Broken Glass and Route 60, began finding its way into Chums live sets, whetting the appetites of the record-buying public hungering for a new album. Those hopes were dashed, however, when the band was unceremoniously dropped by Century Media. Following their split from Century Media, Chum received offers from a few North American record companies, none of which seemed keen on how to market such a unique-sounding band.
Frustrated by the lack of forward progression, Tackett and Walker left to pursue other projects, leaving Lancaster as the sole, remaining original member. Torres fellow Durham native, Phil Scoggins, was then brought in to replace Walker, and Temper bassist Phil Collett settled into the vacant bass slot. This lineup had a brief run, but Scoggins and Collett were gone just as quickly as they had arrived. Tony Rorbough (of Byzantine fame) then joined up and the trio of Lancaster, Torres and Rorbough promptly relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio, leaving behind Collett, who had opted to stay in West Virginia.
Rorboughs tenure may have well been the bands shortest, as he also soon departed, resulting in Lancaster becoming the bands lone guitarist. In a strange twist of fate, original drummer Myers again joined the fold, this time as bassist but, he too, was quickly gone, to be replaced by Chris Sprinkle. The three-piece Chum lineup of Lancaster, Torres and Sprinkle finally fizzled out in 1999, and Chum was put out to pasture. By that time, Tackett had already resurfaced in the rockabilly outfit The Heptanes, while Lancaster opted to stay in Cincinnati, where he formed Dead Letter Room and, later, Semi-Automatic.
By this time, Nicholas had concluded his tenure with Karma to Burn, and had been replaced by Rob Oswald. Eventually, The Heptanes morphed into Milk of Napalm, which then featured Walker on guitar. In January 2002, the various members of Chum crossed paths once again when Lancasters Semi-Automatic was booked to perform at The Stoned Monkey, a venue in Huntington. Also on the bill was Tackett and Walkers Milk of Napalm, and the trio announced that Chum would, for one night only, reunite for a homecoming set.
(Semi-Automatics Dave Becknell filled the drum seat as Nicholas was unable to attend.) It was a triumphant return that left fans hoping for a possible, full-scale reunion. Those wishes were put to rest, however, when each member forged on in their respective band. Though the seed had been planted, a proper Chum reformation would only be possible with the addition of Nicholas, who had seemingly moved on and left music behind him. As had been the fate of their other post-Chum projects, Tackett and Walkers Milk of Napalm soon disbanded, as did Lancasters Semi-Automatic. Disheartened by the state of the current musical climate, Tackett decided to confine himself to his surroundings and started recording new material for his own amusement.
Those recordings would eventually mutate into the crushing Hyatari. Walker returned from a short stint working as an engineer and the duo then added long-time Chum confidant Brett Fuller to the mix. Hyataris doom-laden riffs and monolithic wall of sound got the band noticed by stoner rock insiders and they were asked to appear at the Stoner Hands of Doom Festival in September 2003. The bands performance led to a recording contract with Earache Records subsidiary, Codebreaker, who agreed to remaster and then re-release Hyataris self-released, debut album, The Light Carriers.
The response to this new outfit was overwhelming, with European music critics, in particular, frothing at the mouths, begging for the chance to plaster Hyataris likenesses across the pages of their magazines. It was during one of these interviews that it was revealed that the members of Hyatari had cut their teeth playing in the little-known, but much-respected Chum. Jochen Boellath, proprietor of a German record label known as Daredevil Records, was, at the same time, compiling his wish list of prospective bands to be featured on the third volume of his Burn the Street series. When Boellath heard that the members of Hyatari had previously operated as Chum, he contacted the band about the possible inclusion of an unreleased Chum track for the compilation.
The idea was a stretch, at best. Chum, however, were still sitting on a number of unreleased recordings that were to be featured on their never-released, second full-length album. Tackett felt that, if reworked and perhaps re-recorded, one of those tracks, Embracing the Eyesore, would fit perfectly on a compilation that would also feature friends Disengage, Hermano and Nebula. Ironically, Lancaster had recently returned home to Huntington, just in time to field a phone call from his old friend about the possibility of re-recording the track.
Having settled down as a family man, and with no musical projects looming on the horizon, Lancaster jumped at the chance. The lineup of Tackett, Walker and Lancaster then convened at Stonehenge Audio and, with the aid of a drum machine, laid down Embracing the Eyesore. (Drummer Nicholas was unable to join the threesome due to logistical problems.) With the camaraderie at a fever pitch, it was then decided that perhaps they should give Chum another go, and a full-scale reunion was announced in the summer of 2004. Nicholas, who had been residing in Indianapolis, Indiana, agreed and began commuting to Huntington to join his old mates.
With all the principal players back in place, Chum was booked to appear at Huntingtons Monkeybar in September. They followed that performance with a slot at (Huntington radio station) WAMX-sponsored X-Fest in October, which also featured Monster Magnet. Both shows were met with a resounding response and the band has since commenced writing new material to be featured on their long-awaited sophomore album. The details of that, as-yet-untitled album, have been sketchy and, in spite of the accolades that have showered Tackett and Walkers Hyatari, Chum, who have been performing sporadic, local live shows, are still hopeful that those recordings will eventually see the light of day.
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