After playing a series of keggers, they quickly
gained a following as a band that "sounded like R.E.M. with balls."
Eight weeks after their first gig, Such Sweet Thunder released a cassette of seven
home-recorded originals. Within three years they would release three more as they
became a staple attraction at Omaha, Lincoln, Kearney and Grand Island bars.
by R.E.M., Such Sweet Thunder made the most of minimal arrangements that featured
Roth's broad, soaring vocals over Ostdiek's Peter Buck-style guitar lines. Though
the world was about to enter an era of metal-influenced Seattle grunge, Such Sweet
Thunder's sound was pure Athens rock.
Their style would bring them their
share of success and failure, all the while quietly influencing a handful of future
Nebraska bands. They even had a brush with the big time.
"In 1991 we
were approached by some wealthy British guys during a broadcast convention in
Lincoln," Ostdiek recalls. "They liked our sound and wanted to bankroll
us in England. We told everyone we were going to postpone our last year of school
and be big rock stars."
But it wasn't to be. At the time, the Manchester
scene was burning white-hot in England. The British businessmen asked the band
to fire Deepe and get a drum machine or someone who could play dance beat. "We
told them to fuck off," Ostdiek said. All four were back in school the following
fall. Bastin, who was from Britain, was so embarrassed that he left the band and
shortly afterward moved to Seattle.
Such Sweet Thunder carried on six months
later with new bassist Steve Streit, a "heavy metal god" who lived on
a farm 40 minutes outside of Kearney -- a perfect, isolated practice space.
selling 1,200 copies of their Burning Ditches cassette in '91, the band branched
out and released their first CD, Redneck, on Ism Records in the fall of
'92, selling 500 copies only days after playing a series of CD release shows in
Omaha, Lincoln and Kearney.
Despite regional success, the band never caught
on nationally. They sent copies of Redneck to college radio and record labels.
"They all said we rocked live and sucked in the studio," Ostdiek said.
"Putting headphones on neutered us. They wanted us to tour the country for
10 years like The Beat Farmers and build up a cult following."
the furthest the band ever toured was Denver and Des Moines. A bad experience
in Denver at a venue that booked acts like Warrant tainted their taste for the
road. "All the other bands were fighting over the dressing room," Roth
said. "They had us set up our gear behind a curtain because they didn't want
anyone to know we didn't have roadies. They ended up pulling the curtain on us
before we finished our set. It really bothered me."