THEE CELLAR DWELLERS – AN INTERVIEW WITH JIM BAETZ

“Dwellin”

Well we’ve entered a new decade and it’s well over 25 years since the worldwide garage revival which is a very scary thought. Just where did those years go? My blog is now almost 3 years old and still going strong with over 200 thousand hits, an incredible achievement really because I’m a bit of a lone wolf and hardly ever bother to link my blog with others. I’m very choosy who I want to link up with.

Anyway, back to business. Jim Baetz from Thee Cellar Dwellers checked out ’Opulent Conceptions’ some months back and kindly answered some questions I sent him about his old garage band who recorded a single in the mid 80s for Get Hip Records. It was one of the first batch of releases that the Get Hip label put out. I reviewed this 45 earlier this year.

What made you decide to form Thee Cellar Dwellers. How did you all get together?

My band in high school played a show with a few other local bands. Mark and Eric were there and they helped me haul some equipment back to my house. I didn’t see them for a while. Went off to college. Saw Mark again after I dropped out of college. He said he played guitar, his girlfriend played organ, his brother played drums and he knew a bass player. We got together in early 1986.

How long was the band active?

We started in early 86 and disbanded in December of 89.

Where did the band play?

We played locally at show organized by us or friends. Clubs in the area weren’t friendly to bands playing 60s stuff. We also played in Pittsburgh PA, New York City and Washington DC. Great scene in DC.

Who were your local competitors?

There were a few bands doing 60’s stuff. I think the scene was pretty friendly. The Cool Italians and The Pall Bearers were two local groups.

Was there any garage revival scene going on in Carlisle, PA?

Carlisle is a pretty small town. I made the 30 mile drive to Harrisburg to see everyone. We were only 2 hours from DC and 3 hours from New York. We did have quite a few bands from those areas come to town for shows.

How did the 45 deal with Get Hip come about?

The Cynics played a show locally. We went. We were some of the only people there. We talked with them, played a few shows with them and the record happened.

Were there any plans to release further records following your debut 45?

We did sessions at a local studio, Studio 213. The plan was to record half and hope Get Hip would pick up the tab for the rest. They didn’t like the recording much. Which angered us a bit. We did sessions in our practice room and he wanted to release those. We didn’t want them released. This was several month before the band split.

Why did the band split?

I wanted to move on and do something different. Mike wanted to also. He went onto college full time.

Did you form or play in any other bands after the demise of Thee Cellar Dwellers?

I was in a power pop band called Needle Jack. I thought it was a really great band. Mark, Susan and Eric formed The Omega Men with Jonathan Sipes. Great band.

4 songs by Thee Cellar Dwellers that were either given away to fanzines of the day or have remained in Jim’s basement gathering dust since the mid 80s.

’Please Don’t Cry’ is a cover originally recorded by English mod band The Eyes. You’ll find the 1965 version on the flip of ’Good Day Sunshine’.

’Just A Little Bit’ is a cover originally recorded in 1965 by Irish band Them from their first album.

’I Know It’s True’ is an original song from the Studio 213 sessions.

’Cryin’ In My Beer’ is also an original song recorded very early in Thee Cellar Dwellers existence.

4-track demo tape

DWELLIN’

THEE CELLAR DWELLERS – ’Wonderin’ Why?’/’Dwellin’ (Get Hip GH-105) 1987

One of the early releases on Get Hip Records was by this neo garage band from Carlisle, PA.

The sleeve is a beautiful thing but the music is a bit of a let down. ’Wonderin’ Why?’ written by Jim Baetz doesn’t quite lift off like it could have done with some 60s punk style snarls but worse to come is how the record just kinda fades out to a whimper. Blame the production on this?

The flip ’Dwellin’ is a fuzztoned & organ swingin’ instro with the odd ’Hey!’ thrown in for good measure. It’s obviously a much better side but again I don’t think the production is that great. The fuzz guitar pans from one channel to another in an annoying stereo way. This would have been more powerful and purist in a mono mix.

I found some information online from a mod fanzine called Top Gear. This is from issue 4 circulated in 1988:

THEE CELLAR DWELLERS- WONDERIN’ WHY? / DWELLIN’
GET HIP RECORDS

I was a little disappointed with this single. I like the band a
lot, and their live shows are always a blast, but they didn’t
seem to capture their live excitement on this release. I don’t
even feel that the choice of material is a good representation
of their style. However, for some good news, read the next
review. DANIEL GEDDES


THEE CELLAR DWELLERS
6 SONG DEMO CASSETTE #2

If you remember last issue, I reviewed Thee Cellar Dwellers\’
demo cassette. Well, this is their second demo cassette, which
contains rough mixes of their forthcoming ep. This blows away
both the single and the previous demo cassette. Much closer
to Thee Dwellers live sound.

My favorites are the Beatlesque cuts ’Girl In My Dreams’
and ’I Know It’s True’. There are also some excellent instrumentals.
My copy of the tape includes an additional track,
which is a cover of The Eyes’ \’Please
Don’t Cry’. This will not be included on the EP, but released
on a compilation tape put out by Sound Affects fanzine in San
Diego. These tracks are more like Thee Cellar Dwellers I know.
Get this tape by sending either $2.00 and a blank cassette, or
$4.00 to:
THEE CELLAR DWELLERS
c/o JIM BAETZ
Sunset Drive
Carlisle, PA 17013
DANIEL GEDDES

I’ve not heard these demo tapes and didn’t know they existed. I don’t think any EP was released after this 45 for Get Hip as the reviewer suggested. If you know any better let me know.

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