“I’d come around / But I’m not allowed / These dreams govern me…”
I think Split Lip was one of the first underground bands outside of Louisville that I ever heard rumors of. They were Indiana boys with a connection to the Louisville scene, but there was also some kind of weird controversy. They started out as hardcore kids, but had changed their name to Chamberlain after releasing their second LP (Fate’s Got a Driver) and had actually re-recorded some of the vocals and remixed the record itself. It’s a familiar story in the underground scene of the 90’s: band gains a following, gets accused of selling out when they try to grow beyond where they started. That’s all a distant memory now, of course. Their work as Split Lip was outstanding (especially for a bunch of teenagers), but their work as Chamberlain was even better.
Fate’s Got a Driver is a glorious LP, a unique blend of DC post-punk and Mellencamp-ish Midwesternism. On paper it sounds like a clash of concepts, but in execution Chamberlain was up to something brilliant. Lord, I loved Fate’s Got a Driver, but at 8 songs, it left you wanting more far more quickly than they were able to deliver it. There was of course the split release with Old Pike that yielded 2 solid tracks, but we wanted that big followup, the band to deliver on the promise of that sound, that fresh-as-spring eternal optimism.
Eventually, we got The Moon My Saddle. Now, I love that record at this point, but at the time it did feel like a sellout, venturing a little too far into what seemed like Matchbox Twenty territory (seriously, mea culpa guys). “Infinity to the County Fair”, somehow, got left behind, but it stands now as a testament to the incredible creative place the band was in circa 96/97.
Part of a 4 song demo the band cut in 1996, this track is the epitome of what made Chamberlain special. The fact that they could leave a track this great behind says a little something about the kind of greatness they were capable of.
To my knowledge, there are no official lyrics for “From Infinity to the County Fair”, and that’s a shame, because David Moore was an outstanding rock lyricist, like, seriously, probably too much of a poet to be a successful rock lyricist.
Looking back, I’m not really sure how things could’ve been any different for Chamberlain. For crying out loud, Moore’s lyrics were all about the starry-eyed loser. How did his band ever have the chance to succeed?