In the early 2000’s, there were a big group of us doing local bands in the San Francisco Bay Area, CA, including The Damage Done, For The Crown, Allegiance, Breaker Breaker, Hoods, All Bets Off, etc… And all of a sudden, all of these younger kids from the North Bay started coming and out and supporting the shit out of every one of our local bands. It was awesome. A bunch of them eventually started Life Long Tragedy and Ceremony. I remember the first time I saw Ceremony play – it was in the lobby of their “hometown venue”, the Phoenix Theatre (where I would continue to see them play many, many times). I knew they were going to be awesome because they were young, energetic, pissed, and… crazy. I always thought Ross was ultimately going to severely injure himself, and that would be the only thing that could ever stop them. Knock on wood, but despite near misses, that hasn’t happened (yet). Shortly after the first few Ceremony shows, one of my best friends, Ryan Mattos, joined Ceremony. That pretty much linked me to those dudes forever. Ryan used to help me out at Rivalry Records, and we eventually even started a screen printing business together called Arctic Ink. Over the years, I’ve spent countless hours in vans, at shows, in warehouses, in Las Vegas (???) with Ryan (you know him as Toast), Anthony Anzaldo (you know him as Avocado), Ross Farrar, J.D., and Jake (Jakin’ Care Of Business, at times). I could go on and on, but in the spirit of Ceremony, they’d prefer me to keep things in the simple North Bay vernacular: Ceremony is sick.
On to the records/shirts… Up through the “Still Nothing Moves You” LP, I had every single Ceremony record and t-shirt that ever existed. Records are bad enough, but t-shirt wise, that was probably literally 80-100 Ceremony t-shirts. I guess that’s what happens when you own a screen printing business with the guitarist of a band. The real gems for Ceremony are their shirts, not the vinyl. There’s like a billion different shirt designs, they’re almost all 1-sided only, and they’re usually cool black-and-white-only, cut and paste looking punk shirts. Cool shit! As I’ve been weeding out my life over the last 2 years, I’ve gotten rid of most of my Ceremony records and t-shirts, just keeping one of each release, and only the best t-shirts (the “Bush/Cheney” shirt? C’mon, I will never get rid of that shirt). So unfortunately the pictures below will never do my Ceremony collection justice – this is pretty much just what I had left at the time I started doing this blog. I did include photos at the bottom of this blog entry of some of the best/funniest Ceremony shirts that I’ve definitely kept.
Ceremony – “Ruined” 7″I remember when Ryan told me that Tru and Linas wanted to release a Ceremony record on Malfunction – he was so pumped! Ryan had been the Nerve Agents roadie, and always ran with the AFI crowd. So Ryan knew Linas through all of the artwork that Linas had done for Nerve Agents and AFI, so he was especially pumped to be working him. The day that the “Ruined” 7″s came in, I happened to stop by Ryan’s apartment to work on some screenprinting stuff, and there he was, drooling over boxes of red and yellow records. He told me I could snag whatever I wanted, so we sat there trolling through 800 yellow records, checking out all the cool yellow variants. I pulled out the 3 basic variations that I ran across – lime greenish yellow, banana yellow, and almost transparent orange-yellow. My favorite was the lime greenish looking one! The 1st pressing was basically 200 on red vinyl, 800 on yellow. Originally it had been intended for the red lettering covers to be 1st pressing, and blue lettering to be 2nd pressing… But things got weird when red lettering was used on the 200 red vinyl, and blue lettering on the 800 yellow. So that left a ton of red lettering covers, which got used on 2nd pressing black vinyl later, along with the ~200 or so remaining blue lettering covers. Basically, the lettering on the covers doesn’t really differentiate anything. The 2nd pressing was 1,000 copies, all on black vinyl. The bulldog cover is a Turbonegro rip-off test pressing cover, out of 15 copies. I got mine from their bassist, J.D..
Ceremony – “Violence Violence” LPThe 1st pressing of “Violence Violence” was 300 on white vinyl, 700 on splatter vinyl. There was also a “pre pressing” for Sound And Fury Festival out of 200 on black vinyl. The 2nd pressing was 200 on purple vinyl, 800 on a different splatter vinyl. Later when Deathwish, Inc bought Malfunction Records, they did a new pressing on white/grey splatter vinyl. There were a couple of different configurations of the Deathwish splatter, with splatter appearing (or not) on either side (or both) of the white/grey split vinyl. I used to have everything, but the 2 copies above are all that I’ve kept. The 1st pressing of the “Violence Violence” LP had a billion test pressings because of a bunch of confusion around the pressing of Side A and Side B. There were 3 different configurations of the test pressings. The first reject was pressed with 8 songs on side A and 5 songs on Side B. Since songs 1 and 9 are both called “Violence”, the idea was that both sides could start with “Violence”…. “Violence, Violence”, get it? Well, in practice, 8 songs and 5 songs was just kinda weird, so they ran another set: this time with all 13 songs pressed on both side A and side B (because the record is so short), so both sides are identical. The problem was, no one fixed the master, so songs 8 and 9 still had a huge 30 second+ gap between the songs (originally to denote side A and B). So, these were rejected as well. Finally, there was a 3rd set of test pressings run, this time with just the small usual gap between songs 8 and 9. I think it was originally thought that there were 5 of each configuration, for a total of 15 copies. So Malfunction made these test pressing covers with a little numbered square pasted on (shown above), numbered out of 15. Later I think we all realized it was probably more like 15 of each configuration – so there’s probably 45 of these things… ouch. Over time, Malfunction made some other covers, like the “Ross” cover, and some didn’t have a cover at all. If you ever want to figure out which one you have without listening to it, one day I went through and figured out all of the matrix etchings:
- Reject with 8 songs on SIDE A and 5 songs on side B. Matrix A: Pirates Press MAL025 A 65966M1/A, Matrix B: Pirates Press MAL025 B 65966M2/A)
- Reject with 13 songs on both sides and a BIG gap between songs 8 & 9. Matrix A: Pirates Press MAL025 65966M1,2/B , Matrix B: Pirates Press MAL025 65966M1,2/B)
- Accepted with 13 songs on both sides and only a TINY gap between songs 8 & 9. Matrix A: Pirates Press MAL025 65966M1/C, Matrix B: Pirates Press MAL025 65966M1/C)
Here’s a look at the original test pressings that got the “out of 15” number on them… Mine is #14/15 and is one of the 8 songs/5 songs rejects (which is by far the coolest variation, because there’s only 5-15 slabs of vinyl with this configuration in existence!). At one point I also owned #3/15, but the jacket was white, and it was an accepted version. I’m thinking the black jackets were rejects, and the white jackets were accepted.
This is a “Ross cover” that started to pop up over time on test pressings when Malfunction found a bunch of other copies. This one was an accepted test pressing, with 13 songs on each side, and only the tiny gap between songs 8 and 9. Notice that the ” /15″ never even got a number……. Yeah, that’s why.
Depending on who you originally got a test pressing from, it might not even have a cover. This was one of the rejects that had all 13 songs on each side, but had the BIG gap between the songs. It never had a cover of any kind.
Check out the cover art in the bottom left hand corner of this promo poster. That isn’t the cover of the album! The actual cover art has a rose in bloom, a slightly different logo with less distress, and a repeated symbol in the background to give it some texture. Linas obviously changed the cover a couple of times, but must have forgotten to update the promo poster. Along the way someone wrote “Pressure” (the band) with a marker on the kid’s Minor Threat shirt – that isn’t part of the actual poster, haha. Oh, PS – for a number of different reasons, this poster is very hard to find… 😉
3rd pressing again, but notice this one only has the splatter on the grey side. There was one more variation where the splatter went the other way – only onto the white side. These were all part of the same pressing, but were notably distinct variations within that pressing – must have been some kind of miscommunication at the pressing plant.
Ceremony – “Scared People” 7″I used to own all the different black and white variants of the Scared People EP, but at this point I only have the 2 coolest versions. The “Easter Egg” green/pink was purposely made as ugly/bright as possible, just for fun. A few were thrown into mail order via B9, the rest were given to the band, and sold randomly at shows to unsuspecting kids. The copy on the right is the record release cover. I remember showing up at the Arctic screenprinting shop one day, and Ryan was in there gluing all of these lottery tickets on the 99 record release covers, haha. As always, Ryan’s mind is a clever, quirky labyrinth full of awesome shit! This record release cover was one of his witty creations. Below are some closer photos of the record release cover / lottery ticket, explaining what that was all about… Classic shit. The rest of the 1st pressing was 301 on black vinyl with regular cover, 1,000 black/white swirl, 1,500 white. 2nd pressing was 1,000 half white / half black split. 3rd pressing was 1,000 grey.
Here’s the back of the record release cover. I purposely snagged #99/99 before we left for the show. I remember Let Down playing in the lobby of the Phoenix Theatre that night. They were fucking awesome.
Here’s a cool hippie patch that Ryan printed at the shop right around the time they released this 7″. Another day where I walked in the shop, shook my head, smiled, and was pumped on whatever ridiculous work was going on in there. I’m telling you, that shop is/was always a source of serious gems.
Ceremony – “He-god-Has Favored our Undertakings” 7″Crazy name for this 7″, which was kind of a “single” that came out before the “Still Nothing Moves You” LP. Very simple pressing info: 300 on black, 700 on grey. I had a copy of both, but only kept my black copy, to stick with the stark contrasted layout. The labels are cool too – labeled “Lightning” and “Thunder”.
Ceremony – “Still Nothing Moves You” LPIf you thought the 7″ single for this release had a stark layout, check this one out. All black, with a photo of a wall that is spray painted all black, except for one small brick in the upper right. Wanna know what’s cool that most people don’t notice? Look closely at the back cover of the gatefold. That same image of an exposed brick appears there, all by itself. Cool huh? If you bought this LP at a show when it first came out, you probably got a copy of vocalist, Ross Farrar’s, zine called “Week”. He has done several zines over the years, and they’re always cool. Also shown in this photo is a CD, because most LP’s that were sold at shows had a copy of the CD thrown in. As for the pressing info – what you see here is a cool green marble vinyl that isn’t even listed in the B9 discography. These were secret-ish, given to friends, etc. I would imagine there’s 100 of them, but I don’t know for sure. I had every other version of this, but have since gotten rid of them… Here’s a list of everything. 1st pressing/pre-pressing on black vinyl with blank labels: out of 500. 2nd pressing: 900 on grey, 1,500 on white. 3rd pressing: 1,000 on olive green vinyl. 4th pressing: 1,000 on yellow vinyl.
Here’s the inside of the layout, with a photo of an empty/open notebook. The lyric sheet is separate. The lyric sheet is a photo of old dot matrix printer paper – the kind with the holes up and down each side.
Ceremony – “Sick” 7″This was the single for their “Rohnert Park” LP. Rohnert Park is a small college town in the North Bay where most of them grew up. “Sick” could mean many things here. But the best interpretation is, “Dude… Rohnert Park is sick.” (or better yet, “Murda Park” or “Murda”). If you know, you know. 1st pressing = 300 on white vinyl, 700 on clear vinyl. 2nd pressing = 500 on black vinyl. PS – That’s Anthony (Anzaldo / Avocado) in the photo, hair and Flag tattoo.
Ceremony – “Rohnert Park” LPLike I said, Rohnert Park is the small college town in the North Bay where most of them grew up. So, that’s their bassist, J.D., skating….. In RP, duh. To the right is the record release cover. That was one of those street drawings, done while the dudes were on tour in Japan (I think). It’s kind of perfect. 1st pressing: 300 on red, 700 on clear, 1,000 on blue (99 had the record release cover, 901 with regular jacket). 2nd pressing = 1,000 white vinyl. 3rd pressing = 1,000 black vinyl.
Ceremony – “6 Cover Songs” LPA simple 12″ EP with Ceremony performing 6 cover songs by Urban Waste, the Pixies, Crisis, Eddie & the Subtitles, Vile, and Wire. The coolest thing about this 12″ is the screen printed b-side, featuring the classic Ceremony “Roses” design. The rarest version is on red vinyl, and there is also a screen printed version on clear vinyl. The black vinyl does not have a screen print, instead the Roses are etched into the b-side vinyl (basically the same formula that B9 used on The Hope Con: File 03 7″). Cool shit!
Ok, here we go… Like I said at the very top, I literally used to own 80-100 Ceremony shirts. But here’s a few of the best ones that I’ve kept after weeding out my life for the last 2 years.
The “Bush” shirt, designed by Linas Garsys. This thing is awesome because it’s one of the most offensive things you could ever wear, on almost every level. It depicts Dick Cheney as devil tongued Virgin Mary, coddling George Dubya sucking at her tit, with guns pointed at Cheney’s head and atomic bombs exploding in the background. Amazing. Linas out did himself with this one.
Printed the week Jerry Falwell died, designed by Adam Rossiter. Posted and sold directly on the B9 board. You don’t even want to know how many of these things we blew through in about a week. People loved this fucking shirt, and so do I.
A fresh take on the Ceremony “Roses”. Ryan called this “Fire Roses”. This was a waterfall style print where you put a couple different ink colors in the screen and they obviously mix as you spread the ink on the shirt. Some of the shirts had a lot more mixing than this one did.
One of Ceremony’s coolest and weirdest shirts. The symbol on the front is the image that Linas used as the repeated background on the Violence Violence layout. Look closely at the photos of the Violence Violence LP, and you’ll see this small image repeated over. I also like the charcoal grey color with subtle black ink. So… All of that is the “cool” part. See below for the “weird, but even cooler” part.
The back of the shirt just has the band members names written on it. Hahaha, for some reason I thought this was so sweet and/or ridiculous. I love this shirt, and still wear it all the time. Also, one of the few Ceremony shirts that was two-sided.
Ceremony @ Rivalry Showcase 2008
Ceremony @ Rivalry Showcase 2008. Click above to watch, or watch on Vimeo for a larger version.
The End. Ceremony is cool, ok?