I recently had a conversation with Javier Van Huss, who runs several blogs including The Best Of Times, and who formerly played bass for Eighteen Visions about how perfect the Until The Ink Runs Out album was. He quit not long after this album was released and was probably better off for doing so. It's well-documented that I'm a fan of all things 18V, however the legitimately good material is what we'll be covering in this post.
"Until the Ink Runs Out was not 18 Visions first record, though it is arguably its best. It was the first record that really garnered national attention for the band.
We had recorded Lifeless at some Christian-run studio in Los Alamitos (xChorusx had also recorded there) and decided to record Yesterday is Time Killed at Doubletime studio in San Diego. Jeff Forrest was an interesting guy to say the least, but he had recorded Life Love Regret and Cheshire Cat, so we knew he was the shit behind a mixing board. I believe we had even done two other sessions there, one that never saw the light of day and one for the No Time For Love 7". I don't remember much about the recording of Until The Ink Runs Out except that as always, we were all open to trying new shit.
It was our first recording session with Keith and he was such a powerhouse. Say what you want about his voice, but the dude can riff like nobody's business. Song writing for the record was primarily done by Brandan and Keith, but everyone contributed, even James (who would jam out tunes on his broken acoustic and Ken would be left to translate). I'd say that I contributed the least to the actual writing of the songs, but heavily contributed to arranging them and adding aesthetic changes. To me, it wasn't about what you played, but how the fuck you played it.
Having signed with Trustkill, we entered the studio with every song written and mapped out, including samples and keyboards. I had written an insane keyboard part that was all but obliterated by a phaser effect and I also played piano on the last song. Being so prepared allowed us to complete the entire record in 4 days. Yesterday Is Time Killed was recorded and mixed in 20 hours for 600 dollars, and I think Until The Ink Runs Out was made for just over 1000. Everything ran smoothly in the studio. Ken had all of the samples prepared on his Korg Dr. Sample beforehand. I remember thinking the Back To The Future sample was silly, but it worked and I hear people all the time say "there's that word again..."
The Shining sample was interesting. Ken and I were huge Kubrik fans and Full Metal Jacket was constantly on in the tour van. The noise behind it is me playing my bass with a screwdriver and twisting the tuning pegs. The sample would prove invaluable in the event of a broken guitar string while playing live. Ken had been experimenting a lot with effects pedals and 808s, and could make his snare sound like a frog's ribbit. Brandan and Keith together were a massive and solid sound, with 5150s and Sonic Maximizers. We built 2 speaker cabs which we painted gold, to match the mic stand. My bass cabinet was 2 18's and 2 12's, and was a pain in the fucking ass to haul. We sounded massive, at least to ourselves.
Our live show/stage antics would solidify during this era; the imagery, hair, clothes, doll heads. James and I were in/graduating from beauty school at the time. We had to wear all black every day. Ken and James worked at Banana Republic and got amazing discounts on nicer clothes. We were visually influenced by the band Orgy. The Virgin Megastore was on our way to school, and we'd see the giant heads of Ryan Shuck and his posse and think about how cool they looked. We just wanted to get away from what everyone else was doing; the jerseys and headband flavor that dominated the scene. It was never intended to be serious or to start "fashioncore". We just wanted to have fun and be different. Really, how many bands sounded exactly the same as 18V in that era?
My swansong with 18V would be the summer of 2000. We toured with Throwdown, and had a pretty amazing time. We were friends with bands and kids all over the country. But the tour was plauged by lots of mechanical troubles and bickering. We missed 9 shows in 4 weeks due to breakdowns (not the kind you dance to). I remember one particularly heated argument between Brandan and myself in northern Florida that proved to be the beginning of the end.
In El Paso, Texas the Throwdown van broke down. We were on our way home, and I was riding in the TD van as I had much of that tour. People went in both vans, but somehow I was more comfortable in that van. I had some problems at home that had been building in me and had not eaten since Florida. 18V made the decision to head home. I started loading my stuff in the van and was met with a "what are you doing? You're staying here". And so I stayed with Throwdown for 2 days while the van got fixed.
I got home and was told by a girl that one of the members had told her "tell your friend Javier that the guy from xCLEARx is taking his place". I played two more shows with the band, one headlining show at Chain Reaction which was my "funeral" show, and one supporting Converge at the Showcase Theater.
I saw 18V four times after that. The release show for the "Best Of" CD, in Santa Cruz with Poison The Well, at a Warped Tour, and their last show. Over the years I had many ups and downs with the members, but I'd like to say things are cool now.
I tried my hardest to get everyone together to play with the "classic" lineup with Disembodied this coming June, and the attempt proved unsuccessful due to James' dedication to his new band Burn Halo.
I don't own a physical copy of Until The Ink Runs out, although I do have it on my iPod and crank it somewhat regularly. I am proud to have played on that record. It totally stands the test of time. I had the "master" copy from Doubletime but when my car was broken into it disappeared. I still get recognized for being in the band, which 9 years later to me seems crazy to me. But I'm happy that I have those time and I can say I played on an amazing, brutal, and fun album."
All I can say on top of this is that Eighteen Visions slayed 99% of the metalcore coming from this era but never got the recognition due to their "own hardcore fashion". Obviously the band got their fair share of recognition for doing so, but at the same time were dismissed by so many of the "true hardcore kids" (including myself at the time) which was obviously quite a shame. Watch the Hell Fest 2000 DVD (or VHS) and try to tell me that Eighteen Visions isn't every bit as intense as Buried Alive or Converge or any of the other bands from that era who get the respect they deserve.