The years of 1996-2004 were full of activity for Antietam, but it was activity that was not necessarily visible, leading to the oft-repeated fiction that the band broke up in 1994, after the release of Rope-a-Dope, and that TK opted for a solo career. The truth: the band rarely missed a rehearsal for the ten years between Rope-a-Dope and Victory Park, we continued to play shows, we learned to marshal the resources available to us, to take responsibility for reproducing our own sounds; we released several songs in several guises. We weren't a broken-up band. Just one without a label...
After touring behind Rope-a-Dope and Ear and Echo as a combo tour to the West Coast and back, Antietam began writing material for a new record. We returned to the north woods of Vermont to the Vortex to record a single, "Alibi"/"Pegasi 51", the winter of 1996 and released it ourselves.
The Vortex had been the site of mind-bending experiences that changed the way we thought about recording. After aborting the release of a set of songs recorded there in 1997, Antietam's "Lost Album," it was becoming clear that we were being pulled in a different direction. The main thing the Vortex taught us was "pay attention" -- to sounds, to the right time for catching sounds -- and the truth was, for all the spontaneity that country recording had given us for the first time, now we needed even more. As we were made aware of how to capture soul on tape, we wanted to do it ourselves, on our own time in our own space. We were drawn inexorably back to the city and to making recording less of a special event and more of the normal fabric of our creative lives. Now we invested in some good mikes with Jon Williams's counsel and a means of recording. We set about learning to get what we wanted from ourselves.
We made several recordings for compilations. We recorded other people, were able to capture the sound they wanted and, in the process, learned even more. We had been playing with the notion of expanding our band and playing a little fruit basket upset with our roles in the 1997 recordings, but ultimately, settled on a newly focused tight trio and began writing, in 1998, what would become Victory Park in 2002, for release in 2004.
So, to forever lay to rest the idea the band broke up, a timeline for the woodshed years.
1996: Antietam has finished touring for Rope-a-Dope and Ear and Echo.
We record and release a single at Vortex, “Alibi”/”Pegasi 51.”
1997: Antietam records the “Lost Album” at the Vortex.
1998: “701” by the Barton Boys (Wolf, Tim and Tara) recorded for Louisville compilation Sour Mash and “Second Chance” recorded for a split single, and later, a CD devoted to pinball songs released by the publishers of Multiball magazine. Retsin single recorded at Chessie Studios. Antietam starts writing songs that become Victory Park.
1999: Dark Edson Tiger by Rizzo/Key and Deathwhisker by the Naysayer recorded at Chessie Studios.
2000: “Out on a Wire” recorded at Chessie Remote and released on a Dead Moon tribute album, In the Cole Mind: a Tribute To Fred Cole.
2002: Victory Park recorded.
2003: "Ginevra's Eyes" recorded for Esopus magazine.
2004: Victory Park finds a home at Carrot Top Records and is released in the spring.
Touring ensues, woodshed ends.