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Old Pike were a five-man rock & roll band from Bloomington, IN, whose music was heavily influenced by Bruce Springsteen (most obviously apparent in frontman Tim Jones' phrasing and stage presence) and fellow Hoosier John Mellencamp. Anthem-like choruses, sentimental wordplay, murmuring organ, and a steady backbeat anchored Old Pike's somewhat alternative country take on rock music until they disbanded in the year 2000, after which point guitarist/songwriter Carl Broemel joined My Morning Jacket and frontman Jones formed Truth & Salvage Co.
Old Pike's origins can be traced back to a chance meeting between Jones and Broemel, who were introduced by future Old Pike bassist Jason Brammer when all three musicians were still in high school. They formed a band together, Planet Earth, and quickly amassed a large youthful following in the Indianapolis area while opening shows for their friends in the band Split Lip. Planet Earth disbanded in 1995, with Broemel and Jones next uniting as an outfit called Pony Boy while Broemel also played in the band Neena Foundry. Neena Foundry drummer Eric Hopper and Brammer joined forces with Jones and Broemel and Old Pike materialized in the fall of 1995.
They recorded a demo cassette, called The Night I Spent, with their friend Mike Flynn (of the Bloomington, IN-based band Showermast) playing piano and keyboards on two tracks. They also started performing on Monday nights at the local Outback bar. Flynn began appearing at more and more shows, and eventually on the band's half of a split EP with Chamberlain (formerly Split Lip), which surfaced on Toledo, OH's Doghouse Records. He soon joined the band full-time, and in the summer of 1996 Old Pike began traveling to New York City to showcase for major-label recording companies. Around the same time, they recorded six songs at Bloomington, IN's Echo Park Studios. The tracks were compiled by Indiana-based label Flat Earth Records and released as a self-titled EP that soon became known as the Video Saloon EP, due to the cover shot on the record. Ben Goldman of Sony 550 took notice of the band at the College Music Journal conference in 1997. While discussing Old Pike with singer/songwriter Ben Folds of Ben Folds Five — then another Sony 550 act — it became clear that Folds was also a fan of the band. Ben Folds Five took Old Pike on tour, a major turning point in a career that would also see them share stages with Heather Nova and Soul Asylum.
In January 1998, Goldman decided to sign the band after catching another performance at Brownie's in New York City. They signed the deal during the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, TX, on March 20, 1998. By that summer, Old Pike were in the studio making their major-label debut album with producer Jim Scott in Indiana, Minnesota, and California. Ten Thousand Nights — a moody, contemplative, and storytelling album full of heartland rock — was released on April 13, 1999, although Hopper left the group that January before its release. He was replaced by powerhouse drummer Pat Spurgeon, who joined the band in an unrelenting round of national touring in support of the record, which, despite receiving some warm reviews, never really took off. Some reshuffling happened at their label, which resulted in Old Pike being asked to record some demos in order to keep their record deal. Unsatisfied with the band's new songs, Sony 550 decided to drop the band from its roster, and Old Pike disbanded shortly thereafter. Jones relocated to California, returning on occasion to play with former Chamberlain singer David Moore in the band Chevy Downs. Broemel went on to tour and record with a couple of major-label acts, most notably My Morning Jacket. ~ Ryan J. Downey, Rovi