Somewhere in the dusky afterglow of the 80s Detroit underground, Brad Horowitz and Odell Nails stumble into the live show of local post-punk outfit Grief Factory, fronted by the enigmatic singer Bob Sterner. Unbeknownst to these three players, this encounter would lay the groundwork for the formation of one of Detroit’s most preeminent musical secrets, Spahn Ranch.
Blending the moody goth minimalism of their art-punk predecessors with the unique lo-fi drone intuition that had forsaken most hardcore punk audiences, Spahn Ranch became a staple curiosity in Detroit, opening for one of The Jesus & Mary Chain’s first North American shows, and always searching for their place within the 80s underground circuit. In 1986, the band’s singular album output entitled “Thickly Settled” was released on Insight Records run by kindred spirit Eric Cope...the front man of seminal 80s post-punk outfit Glorious Din and publisher of the likeminded fanzine Wiring Dept. After the album’s initial release, Spahn Ranch would take on bassist Hobey Echlin and perform alongside countless luminaries such as Killing Joke, Swans and Psychic TV.
Once the decade came to a dramatic close, Spahn Ranch’s brief touring stints would wind down to a halt and their ranks dispersed into the various avenues of adult life, taking with it the memories and experiences of its reserved members. Sadly, the year 2008 brought with it the passing of singer Bob Sterner, leaving the legacy of Spahn Ranch to its surviving cast.