Atom Bomb Pocket Knife: The Knoxville Years

by Atombombpocketknife

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about

Atom Bomb Pocket Knife: The Knoxville Years

Ben Martin – Drums
Jason Morris – Guitar on 2, 3, 7-10
Justin Sinkovich – Guitar and Vocals
Scott Westmoreland – Bass

1, 4, 5, and 6 record June 1996
2,3 7-10 recorded March 1997
Recorded at Underground Recording Knoxville TN by Matt Lincoln
Mixed by Matt Lincoln and Justin Sinkovich

Thank you: David Burns, Stephen Schmidt, Bill Gillespie, Patrick Mull, Lisa LeeKing, Lisa Morrow, Shelly Ridenour, Jay Nations, Benny Smith, Chuck Pettry, Beton Brut, The Satellite Pumps, The Scenesters / The Blame, 30 Amp Fuse, Superdrag, The V-Roys, and all of our dear friends.

RIP Scott Westmoreland

Atom Bomb Pocket Knife: The Knoxville Years
by Justin Sinkovich

I first met Scott Westmoreland my sophomore year of college at University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Our girlfriends were good friends, and we found ourselves very quickly spending a lot of time together double dating. His friends from high school quickly became good friends of mine as well and vice versa. At this time I was also starting to tour a lot in my band Thumbnail. I lived with my band mates Jason Morris and David Burns in the “Thumbnail House.” David went on tour with his band Chino Horde for the summer. Jason and I had the house and practice space in our kitchen to ourselves, invited Scott over to play drums, and started a band called Frosty strictly for the purpose of opening for Chino Horde at their Knoxville show. It was a somewhat jokey noise punk band inspired by the band Crackerbash and maybe Fugazi as well.

Once David was back, Thumbnail was back in full swing, but also Scott started coming over to to play drums with me on guitar and vocals. We started recording these really quirky indie rock demos – just the two of us. One local show Thumbnail was scheduled to play, David hit his head, ended up in the emergency room, and couldn’t play. That was the catalyst for the unexpected debut of Scott and me as “Atom Bomb Pocket Knife” to fill in.

Soon after the ABPK debut, David went to study abroad for a semester and Thumbnail went on hiatus. Scott, myself, Jason Morris from Thumbnail, and our good friend and often roommate Bill Gillespie who traveled with Thumbnail a lot formed New Action Four. We played a few shows and went into the studio to record three songs which were released on Sound on Sound Records and later by File 13 Records. David came back and that band broke up. Bill and Scott started a great noise punk band called 21 Ace Jalopy with a kid named Beau. I sang for them at one local show, as did Jason, I think Ben from ABPK did as well?

After finishing school, we stayed in Knoxville but started moving away from campus. My friend Lisa Morrow was moving out of a great little house a few miles away. I moved out of the Thumbnail house, Scott and I moved into that house together and immediately built out a great rehearsal space with blankets, box springs, mattresses, and other furniture as the interior wall. Atom Bomb Pocket Knife continued to play as a duo for a while and eventually and decided to expand to a trio. We had become friends with Ben Martin, a fantastic drummer and wild character from the band Chugalug Donna. We wanted to expand ABPK and wanted to play with Ben so we switched it up with Scott on bass, Ben now on drums, with me on guitar and vocals. Scott started playing bass with no real previous experience, we went into the studio a few months later and he never dropped a note. Most people probably forget or never knew he was a great bass player. I believe that was the only time he was in a band, not as the drummer.

Jason from Thumbnail then joined ABPK as the second guitarist. Thumbnail was deep into the math noise punk scene, traveling a few months a year, and dealing with a sizeable and not always agreeable label. ABPK was a nice break from Thumbnail when we were home, and it was more melodic playing shows with bands like Superdrag, Spoon, and Palace Brothers. Both Thumbnail and ABPK were part of a super diverse and collaborative scene where we did everything from wild house parties to large club shows with everyone like 30 Amp Fuse, the V-Roys, Scenesters / The Blame, Beton Brut, Satellite Pumps, and so many other great local bands. David and Steve from Thumbnail formed a band with Matt from Chugalug Donna and Steve’s girlfriend called Kissing Virus. David, Steve, and Bill formed another great garage rock band called The Lonely Heart Killers. ABPK and the Scenesters even merged for a show with 30 Amp Fuse forming a one-off sonic rock band called Whiskey Crucifix.

Punk, pop, alt-country, whatever, the genre didn’t matter, the friends and the spirit of fun and making music as much as possible. Everyone supported each other and had a blast in those times. We also hosted a pretty amazing array of bands from back in that time. We went from hosting shows in our kitchen for bands like Harriet the Spy and Second Story Window, to producing shows at Gryphon’s Laundromat and bar for bands like Cap’n Jazz, Rye Coalition, and Universal Order of Armageddon, to shows at Underdog Records for bands like Antioch Arrow and 8 Bark to finally booking shows at the Mercury Theatre for bands like the Monorchid, The Delta 72, and Blonde Redhead. Lisa Morrow and I opened a record store for about a year in 1995 and we had shows there as well including The Make Up and Pansy Division.

It was during this time while Scott and I were living together that we grew the closest. We lived together several miles from all of the bars and the rest of our friends. We still remained social going to parties and shows, but we also had a mutual appreciation for staying home. We would hang out together for days without talking to anyone else. We would write music, listen to records, play video games, and watch football. Most of all, we would sit out on our front porch, drink beers and talk for hours and hours. We had this mortuary across the street and it had this illuminated horse drawn hearse in the front yard. We would just stare at this funeral home and talk. A couple of times Scott, after a few too many, saddled up on that hearse, I was too scared to ever do it, but I cheered him on. Speaking of which, we were supposed to mow the yard to our house, but we hated it, so the grass kept getting out of hand. The funeral home managers gave up and started having our yard mowed each week. We thought this was amazing and loved to sit inside and watch them mow our yard through the window. It was a victory for us.

I was equally as close to my band mates in Thumbnail as I was to Scott. Thumbnail had these unbelievable adventures in beat up vans tour usually a few months each year. Scott was the one who would still play music with me, but didn’t have to deal with the travel, the record labels, the logistical and financial details of the art form. We just chilled and talked about music, our future plans, our fears, and our dreams. He was so kind and laid back and so good of a friend to me, and always intently listened to my usually dumb and insignificant problems. We often joked about how we were like a married couple out there in the house behind the Krystal fast food joint – as we sat on the porch and listened to the echo of the drive thru window and the crickets.

In 1997 the Thumbnail guys and I had been out of school for a couple of years and decided it was time to move on and out of our college town. We scouted cities on our last tour and decided on Chicago due to its proximity, our friends there, the strong music scene, and relatively inexpensive cost. I wanted Scott to move with us so badly, and he seriously thought about it, but he was accepted to graduate school, ironically in my hometown at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN. MTSU is where my Mom taught for over thirty years. I was sad but, I knew that I would see him all of the time when I went home, which I did. My Mom saw him quite a bit as well and absolutely loved Scott, she thought he was the smartest and sweetest guy.

Thumbnail broke up about a year after moving to Chicago. I started a new band called Atombombpocketknife, same name as with Scott just one word. We signed to Southern Records, released three albums, many singles, and toured the world. We paid tribute to Scott in every thank you list of course, and also included some of his poetry in our second album God Save the ABPK. One song was about him from that album as well, and many other lyrics.

These songs are from the last couple of years of us all playing together in Knoxville with Scott on bass. They were originally intended to only be demos for a label we were talking to, potentially to record the songs again later more properly. We played through most of the songs only once, then I quickly overdubbed the vocals, so you can hear some sloppiness. We never signed to the label and we all moved away from Knoxville six months after recording the second batch of songs. They were later released on CD by a small and short-lived label from the Bay Area called Sound on Sound, so they were readily accessible for me to distribute online for the first time. I hope to dig through some of the earlier recordings with Scott on drums and add them soon as well.

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released February 5, 2016

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Atombombpocketknife Chicago, Illinois

Formed in 1997, Chicago's Atombombpocketknife broke up in 2005 after multiple US and European tours, two albums and an EP on Southern, and a third album on File 13. After final performances including ATP + SXSW, the band stopped, but remained close friends.

ABPK reunited for a week this summer (2011) to play a wedding at The Empty Bottle. The show inspired the new singles and rarities collection.
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