Posted on October 14, 2013
A tale of two cities
I grew up listening to comedy records: Woody Allen, Bob Newhart, Seinfeld, Cosby, etc. It was actually thanks to Weird Al’s “Smells Like Nirvana” parody that I first found an interest in music. After a month of listening to “Smells Like Nirvana” over and over again, I finally picked up Nirvana’s Nevermind (after my mother had removed the cover with the baby’s penis… seriously). My friends and I bought any magazine with Kurt on the cover. We pooled our money and started buying records from any of the bands he would mention in an interview (sebadoh, Melvins, Jesus Lizard, Bikini Kill) and started analyzing them for a bigger picture of what life was like outside of our little southern town, Lewisburg, TN.
In 1991 we started rocking Sonic Youth’s Dirty on our daily ride from High School to our band’s practice space. To say the three of us were naive of the world around us would be an understatement, so when we heard “Chapel Hill” for the first time, we just naturally assumed it was a song about Chapel Hill, TN, an even smaller town just north of Lewisburg. A few lines about great battles, rednecks, and the KKK helped confirm our suspicions but never really explained why Sonic Youth picked such a remote location for their song.
As the year went on, we started ordering zines from Olympia, NYC, and San Francisco and kept coming across mentions of a really awesome punk scene happening in… Chapel Hill! “How have we need heard of this?” We’d ask. Being the only punk band in town we actually felt a little butt-hurt we’d never been asked to play.
So we started driving through Chapel Hill, windows down and radio off, listening for any signs of this sleepy little town’s secret music scene. We’d read that Pavement, REM, and Minor Threat played shows here regularly, so why the fuck couldn’t we find a single person in a Dinosaur Jr shirt?!
It was about a year later that we discovered there was another Chapel Hill, a college town in North Carolina.