Monday, December 19, 2005

Hi, We're The Popes!

Last week, A Million Miles Away had our first visitor from Vatican City. In honor of such an esteemed visitor, here’s something about a North Carolina band called the Popes.

HI, WE’RE THE POPES showed up in my mailbox sometime in the fall of ’88. I hadn’t ordered it, I’d never even heard of the band. There was a note saying that they had gotten my address from a mutual acquaintance in Chapel Hill. The band was going to be playing a show in Chattanooga and hoped I would come out to see them. Chattanooga was boring in the late eighties, I’d go to see just about every band that came through so I would’ve gone anyway. But after I played the record, I knew I wasn’t going to miss the Popes. This thing is one of the best free records I’ve ever gotten in the mail!

After making sure I would be there, The Popes almost didn’t make it to the show. Some friends of mine were playing the same night and we were sitting around the club drinking and waiting for the band to show up. Around 8, the bartender said that one of the guys from the Popes was on the phone and that they were on the way. They had gotten their dates mixed up and had driven right through Chattanooga to Huntsville where they had already started setting up at the club they were scheduled to play the next night! The band must not have gotten any red lights on the trip back to Chattanooga. They broke down their equipment and made the 110 mile trip in less than 2 hours.

The Popes never made any other records. There were some tracks on some comps, including a song for an Alex Chilton tribute. The Popes broke up in 1991. They had just recorded an LP for First Warning Records that was never released. Anybody got a copy that they'll send me? I promise I’ll come see your band if you play in Huntsville!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an absolutely incredibly ironic post. Firstly, it was posted December 19th, which is my birthday. Secondly, I have my own strange tale involving the "Hi We're the Popes" record.

I was about 14 and my Dad was taking me record shopping in Greenwich Village. When I got home, I realize I had some merchandise that wasn't mine. I later figured out that a record store must have combined my purchase with something they were holding for someone else. Anyway, now in my possession were 2 Doors cassettes, and the Popes record.

I didn't listen to it for years, then one day I threw it on. I immediately fell in love with the EP, and even digitized the tracks to high quality MP3 recently. I knew about the ill fated LP they recorded, and still hope to hear it one day. For now, however, I see you have a link to a comp track, so I am off to discover a new (to me) Popes recording. Thanks so much for this post - I looked for Popes info on the web a while back and found nothing. If you ever track the LP down, lemme know. Good luck!

18/1/06 8:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting. I am listening to the unreleased Popes album (which I digitized) and was trying to find the track listing of the EP (which I only have on vinyl) and stumbled across this blog. I think it's quite possibly the best album recorded by an NC act (including other faves from Let's Active to Superchunk,) so I'm happy to make copies and spread the gospel...

gboothe3 at earthlink dot net

ps: another interesting point - can't remember if this happened or not, but being friends with the band, I advised them to just send copies to Sounds in NYC gratis in hopes that someone in the music biz might stumble upon it...sounds like you literally stumbled on to.

Speaking of, after the Popes, the members for a short-time played under the name Stumble. Wierd...

22/1/06 1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of the Popes ended up in Atlanta in the early to mid 90's. After playing a couple gigs as Stumble (which was also the nickname of their drummer,Jim Rumley) they changed their name to The Lovely Lads. In 1996 they released an LP (Lovely Lads vs the World) and an EP (Lucky Jim) on Put It On a Cracker, a Gainesville, FL label. I think they played around for a year or so before moving on to other things.
I'd never actually heard the Popes, until running across the "She's You" mp3 on NC Music History Dot Com. The Lovely Lads discs have a similar, yet slightly updated sound. I have no idea if the label still exists or the discs are still available. If you're a Popes fan, they're definitely worth pursuing.


19/3/06 10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to run First Warning in the early 90's, and the inability to get a deal done with the Popes is still my biggest regret. They were such an amazing band, and even better people. Great recent news is that John and Steve (and Henry? Jim?) are writing again and are starting to put gigs together. John and Steve are both living in the DC area.

I don't have any copies of the unreleased Popes album that Glenn refers to, but I do have a box of Stumble 7"s that Glenn and I released with our friend Marc on our short-lived Rockamundo label in the mid 90's. If you want a copy, email me at with your address and I'll send you one, while supplies last.

24/2/07 11:04 AM  
Blogger SouthJaw said...

Yes, three of the four old Popes are now "The Public Good" and are doing a live show Thursday March 1 at the Grog & Tankard in DC:

24/2/07 3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Public Good are currently playing on the East Coast, mostly in the DC area. The band features former Popes/Stumble/Lovely Lads members John Elderkin and Steve Ruppenthal (who is now playing bass), Sam Esquith on guitars, keyboards, and other stuff, and drummer Chris Garges, who recently replaced Jim Rumley. There is one album already in the can (featuring Jim, mixed by Brian Paulson) and they just started second one with Chris (who is also producing and engineering). Hopefully, this newly-finished album (currently titled "Number One") will be available some time in 2009. The songs sound great as ever.

You can check up on them at their myspace page, and they'll have a website up soon, too, at

Good stuff!

27/3/09 3:37 PM  

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