Four questions: Spiny Norman, Crust

[Spiny Norman - Crust]


Spiny Norman



Original Release Date


Purchase Date


What is the memory you most associate with this title?

Before I moved to New York City in 1992 to spend two semesters on an exchange program, Honolulu had two classic rock radio stations. When I came back in 1993, one of those stations had turned into an alternative rock station.

Suddenly, it seemed like everyone had always been into Björk and R.E.M. when I knew for a fact I got confused looks whenever I mentioned these artists to my friends.

Despite my bitterness, I did feel somewhat gratified that people came around to my point of view. But the year I spent on the mainland also revealed I was actually pretty mainstream. It just took six months for Hawaii to catch up with the rest of the country.

What was happening in your life when it was released?

As much culture shock I felt moving to New York City, recalibrating to Hawaiian time was just as hard. I don’t think I managed to feel remotely realigned for at least a year.

Having tasted that independence, I asked my parents whether they would spring for me to live on campus. They agreed.

Honolulu isn’t nearly as walkable as New York City, and public transportation isn’t remotely as frequent. But I held onto as much independence as I could muster till I moved to Austin, Texas in 1997 for work.

What was happening in your life when you bought it?

I bought the album at the time of its release, so same answer as above.

Living on campus did confer a lot of conveniences, though. If I wanted to watch an arthouse movie at the now defunct Varsity Theatre, I could just walk from campus housing. A visit to Tower Records was a 20-minute bus ride to Ala Moana Center. Living on campus probably made it easier for the student newspaper to get its hooks into me.

No, it wasn’t like living in New York City. But I probably would have gone crazy commuting back and forth from the suburbs.

What do you think of it now?

The EP still ranks highly in my favorites for 1993. I listened to it a lot at the time, and I tried to catch Spiny Norman as much as I could, which wasn’t much given how few rock venues were available in Honolulu.

The chip on my shoulder about Hawaii’s lack of an independent rock scene probably got exacerbated by this EP. It was of such stunning quality that I held out hope my hometown wouldn’t be so much a backwater.

The band, of course, broke up, and my music tastes got increasingly esoteric as I explored that thing called the Internet (back when publications still capitalized the “I”.)

But the music on Crust still holds up well. Play it alongside other music of the era — your Siamese Dreams and your In Uteros — and you’d be hard-pressed to think Spiny Norman was a regional band.

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