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Stereo Embers The Podcast: Seth Tiven (Dumptruck)

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“For The Country”

By the time Seth Tiven formed Dumptuzrck in 1983, he’d already had a few bands under his belt, including Saucers, a band he was in with fellow Connecticut pal Mark Mulcahy who would go on to form Miracle Legion. Tiven had relocated to Boston after graduating from Wesleyan and the supporting cast of Dumptruck had a few personnel changes, but changes aside. their first two albums D is For Dumptruck and Positively Dumptruck–both issued on Big Time–were two very strong entries to begin a career. Moody, dark and filled with jangle and melodic smarts, the band were lumped in with folks like R.E.M. and the Connells and rightfully so, as they were all kind of in the same sonic pocket. But it was 1987’s For The Country, which featured new guitarist Kevin Salem who replaced singer/guitarist Kirk Swan, that really was their apotheosis. A stirring and angry collection that explored isolation and the geography of loneliness, For The Country bristled with confidence and indie rock grace. Tracks like Going Nowhere and Carefree demonstrated that Dumptruck were one of the most vital and stinging outfits out there. They played with the Replacements and Husker Du, had a growing fan base and were poised to take the next big step forward to the big time. And then the big time took that step forward and pushed it ten steps back. Not the big time, as in THE big time, but the big time as in Big Time Records. Dumptruck were crushing it but Big Time was getting crushed and were in tons of financial trouble. The label was free falling so the band’s lawyer tried to sell their contract to Phonogram, Big Time got pissed and decided to sue Dumptruck for 5 million. This became a protracted legal battle and all the momentum Dumptuck had going for them was devoured. The resolution took years and a lot of money and in the end, Dumptruck prevailed. If you think most bands would have had a hard time recapturing the momentum that sidelined them after a thing like this went down, you would be right. And Dumptruck fell into that category. They never really found their swing again and broke up in 1991. Tracks they recorded during the legal battle were released as the Days of Fear album in ’94, they put out Terminal in ’98, Lemmings Travel to the Sea in 2001 and Wrecked in 2018. All great records, but it’s hard not to think about what would have happened if Dumptruck had been allowed to maintain the momentum they’d managed. One never knows, but one thing I do know is that Seth Tiven is a truly nice guy and I’m so happy he answered the indie rock bat signal and came out for a chat.

Stereo Embers The Podcast

Twitter: @emberseditor
IG: @emberspodcast

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