The Mats Files (i.e., everything else)

The Story Behind The Shit Hits The Fans

The following was posted to the newsgroup by a person who claimed to be Bill Mack, a roadie for The Replacements. Bill Mack was purportedly the person who confiscated the still-recording tape from a would-be bootlegger at a Replacements show in November 1984 in Oklahoma City that became the Twin/Tone release, The Shit Hits The Fans. At this point in time, the out-of-print live album has only been officially released on cassette, although bootleg CD versions exist.

Some spelling and formatting corrections have been made for readability.

Melissa, Charles and all,

 I really would be surprised if Twin/Tone actually made 10,000 copies of SHTF [Shit Hits The Fans]. The figure of 2000 is more realistic and also strikes a strong chord in my memory. You must remember that the 'Mats were not a large money making v enture for Twin/Tone and during late 1984 when the SHTF tape was released, Twin/Tone was somewhat reluctant to put any more dollars into the 'Mats during that (fiscal) year. I won't quote exactly how many SHTF tapes were made because I wasn't involved in that part of the process (and besides, I don't know).

All this talk about CHW [Can't Hardly Wait] made me go get the MASTER (YES the MASTER of The Shits Hits The Fans, it's on a Maxell XL II-S) out of storage and listen to it again just so I could be clear on the facts.

(BTW, a few months ago, I had a person ask around here about the desire for SHTF CD's. There wasn't enough demand to justify the running of a few hundred CD's. If there is a new interest, let me know. Remember, this is the ORIGINAL cassette the tape wa s made on!)

For the live version of CHW, Paul and I had serious contention about the echo that was to happen during the two stops. Paul wanted the echo to do this: Capital letters are echoes, lowercase are sung words.

...and i can't hardly wait.WAIT

He wanted an eighth note slap back echo. I disagreed with the placement of the echo against the streaming guitars which had always been there. I suggested a quarternote and placed a quiet quarternote slap on his voice throughout the song. Paul's point is driven home when he can be heard cussing me out at the end of the last stop saying "Mack!"

 Ooops! I fucked up again! He didn't hear his eight note and I was in trouble. In either case, every version I had ever heard live before the song was recorded ALWAYS had the guitars streaming thru the stops. Bob played the streaming guitar exactl y as Paul requested. It worked that way and I was sorely disappointed when the recorded version turned out so vastly different from the live version.

 BTW, before the cut of CHW on SHTF, Paul can be heard saying: "Guys wanna move up closer? Don't gotta, but, man..."

This was because there were about 25 people in the Bowery [in Oklahoma City, OK]. This place is about as large as First Avenue (Sorry for those who haven't been to either place.)

Before the cut of Sixteen Blue on SHTF, Paul can be heard saying: "Give me some echo Mr. Mack." This song was a strong contender for my favourite and I mixed the hell out of this song. I remember having tears come to my eyes in Columbus, OH while Pete Buck squeaked out a mandolin solo and Paul seared his soul on a microphone before his guitar solo. I have many memories of Columbus and one is when X and the Mats shared a stage in a club that can't recall the name of. (anyone?)

There is another tidbit about the SHTF tape that I can share. During 'I Hear You Been To College', a break in the recording can be heard. This is Paul listening to the cassette on a Walkman and him accidentally pressing record. The fuck! I shoulda never given him the tape. Listening closely, he says "Stop, 's'enough"

 I remember hearing the dropout and nearly crying. This was the best live bootleg tape I had ever heard. (I was only 20 at the time) I had confiscated tapes at the 611 in Atlanta, at CBGB's in NYC and the Disney College of Art and Design in Califo rnia. None were like this one.

 Now you may all be asking how I may come about this knowledge. Am I just talking out my lower windpipe? Nope. Sorry. For those who haven't caught on yet, I am the very roadie that Charles Robinson is talking about in his recent posts. During late 1983 and 1984 I was the Replacements soundman. The story goes like this (while there is a little coloration for flavor, the facts remain the same):

 While sitting at home playing Lode Runner on my Apple II plus one evening I received a call from a friend who was at the time the manager of Duffy's. Duffy's was a fantastic place to see bands in Mpls primarily because of the excellent booking agent but also because of the welcome atmosphere that the band felt, most who played there had done GREAT shows there. The results of this phone call were to get me off of my couch and earn a few bucks ($20.00 maybe?) for an evenings work. I didn't even ask who the band was, I just knew I would be doing sound for a local band that night and asked a friend to drive me down to the gig.

 I arrived and being the cocky 19 year old that I was, I attempted to be cool. For the individuals who have known me for a long time, they knew I was a crazy daredevil who would try anything but had one odd 'fault'. I had never been high or drunk. Period. This is still the case and I often wonder where my life would be if I had gone down a different path.

 So here I am, at the loudest beer drinking rock bar in Mpls and I don't drink. (First Ave is loud and alcohol gets consumed in mass quantities, but Duffy's was a like a college bar that was kicked off campus for being too far gone too many times. ) The band gets onstage and starts the evening festivities. I am lucky to keep up with them. They are pushing the system to the limit and I struggle to keep my head on straight during the following two hours.

Luckily, I already knew Peter Jesperson and he stood by my side, guiding me through the necessary changes and solos. The show was a huge success and I went home feeling happy and $20.00 richer.

After the show I got a ride home from some friend of a friend of a friend. Peter was in the car and asked if I could do another show for the Replacements in two days. I said sure, what the heck. I needed the money. Peter asked if I could drive. "Yeah, I don't have a car, but I love to drive". He said, "Okay, we leave at 9:00 am, I'll pick you up at your place, you can drive from there on". "Where?" I asked. "Madison", he said.

 This was the beginning of a very satisfying time in my life.

 Now, the story of the SHTF tape.

 It goes like this, let there be no more LIES about the origins of the tape!

At the Bowery, there were about 25-35 people at the end of the night. It was a COLD November evening (for Oklahoma) and most of the students who usually hung out at the Bowery were home for Thanksgiving. There was a balcony and directly above my mixing position was where the famous tape deck was.

As usual, I wandered during the show to hear how the system sounded around the club and staggered upstairs to hear how bad it sounded up there. Up to this moment, the band had been imbibing more and more and was getting louder and louder. Being curious as to how the sound was up on the balcony, I walked over to the front edge and saw this tape deck and a man standing nearby gives me a smile and nod. I walk up and listen at the spot he was recording from.

 It sounded absolutely fucking GREAT! I walked over to the deck and opened it. I took the tape out. The way you hear it end on the distributed release (and many bootlegs), is how it ended in real life. I cut the taping during Let it Be. Synchronicity had struck. I put the tape in my pocket and walked away. The guy was flabbergasted. I knew he had no permission to tape the show. He may have known who I was, he may not have. I told him bluntly that the taping of Replacements shows was not permitted and I was confiscating the tape. Period.

 I had confiscated many tapes during that tour. None had come close to this tape. I would like to hear the Live at the Lingerie, if it's in the right time period. Anyone know?

That's it. There's nothing more to it. No fist fights, no bribes, (that's another tour) no pleading, (no more than the usual). The following morning we got up and I started driving. I recall being told to PULL OVER!, we gotta make a stop. I pulled over and the band and Peter hopped out. A camera came out and the picture of IOWA was shot. [the picture Bill Sullivan and the band in the inside cover of the tape]

The rest is history. Someday I would like to meet the person who made this tape. I would like to thank him and I'd even pay the $3.95 to him myself.