Like many people, I read the name before I heard the music. "Springhouse" (as in spring + house) initially implied to me warm, dense, relaxed, "feel good" music. The first bands that popped into my head when I read the name were Bob Marley and Jimmy Buffet. Yee-haw! Beach week music!
I finally heard Springhouse at a Mark Burgess gig at the 9:30 club (Washington D.C.) back in 1994. Springhouse was reuniting for the Burgess tour, after having been broken up for a year. Their music was anything but laid-back and tequila-soaked. Instead, it was post-punk like the Chameleons (Mark Burgess' former band) but lighter, higher, and closer to what I'd heard categorized as "shoegazing."
It wasn't until a couple years later that I found out from reading an article that a "springhouse" really means an early type of refrigerator. Ahhhh... Cool and clean... Now the name's starting to make sense.
Springhouse songs have one foot grounded solidly in early 80s post-punk and one floating in ethereal guitar-swirl heaven. Their earlier material tends to be more driving and energetic, while their later material is more soothing, eerie, and reflective. Power and beauty. That's Springhouse.
Perhaps the best way to get an idea of what Springhouse sounds like is to listen for yourself! For that reason, I've put some audio samples on the Sounds page to whet your appetite.
Springhouse is an American band, although you might not guess it from their strong UK influences. They formed in the late 80s/early 90s, the lineup consisting of Mitch Friedland (guitar and vocals), Larry Heinemann (bass, guitar, vocals), and Jack Rabid (drums, vocals). Other instruments include the dulcimer, mandolin, keyboards, percussion, cello, and the Chapman Stick. Springhouse also had help in the studio from Mike McMackin (keyboards, percussion, guitar), Stuart Hake (cello), J'Anna Jacoby (violin), Kim Bullard (keyboards), and Jim MacGrath (percussion).
Their debut single was "Menagerie Keeper" (1990), followed by two EPs, Eskimo and Springhouse. Their two full-length albums were Land Falls (1991) and Postcards from the Arctic (1993).
Sadly, Springhouse disbanded shortly after Postcards was released. They reformed briefly in 1994 in order to open for the American leg of the Mark Burgess and the Sons of God tour. After the tour, they disbanded again.
Happily, the Springhouse story doesn't end there. In 1998 the band started playing together again, and ten years later released their third album, From Now to OK (2008).
Meanwhile, Jack is the editor for The Big Takeover, which is a brilliant magazine devoted to alternative music. He is also a reviewer for other magazines and books, and a contributor of liner notes, typically for re-releases of his favorite bands' material.