“In 1995, Mike Knott was unstoppable. His bands L.S. Underground and Bomb Bay Babies had grown to become staples of the southern California rock circuit. Through his successful indie label Blonde Vinyl, he had produced and released over 20 albums. Most notably, his group Aunt Bettys had been signed by Elektra Records after a bidding war between labels and was primed for wide success.
Knott also released three critically-acclaimed solo records. Each showed a distinct style and approach, with influences ranging widely from Bauhaus to Tom Petty to Dinosaur Jr. And while his band Aunt Bettys were preparing their major label debut, he sat down and wrote his fourth, Strip Cycle.
Strip Cycle is unlike anything Knott has released before or since. While some of the lyrics call back to the deranged storytelling of his album Rocket and a Bomb, they quickly take a more personal turn, with a heavy emphasis on the challenges of being a new dad and struggles with alcohol. The musical shift is more obvious, recalling the sound of early Violent Femmes with its all-acoustic instrumentation. Shortly before recording began, Knott’s daughter Stormie found his guitar and messed with the tuning knobs. Knott like the weird sound it created and made it an intentional aspect of the record (dubbing it “Twisted Toddler Tuning”); it yielded a very unique sound, with the loose strings frequently snapping against the fret board in a percussive manner.
The album features a strong lineup of songs, performed by capable Knott collaborators Brian Doidge and Chuck Cummings (Aunt Bettys) and drummer Ed Benrock (Starflyer 59). There is a sound of spontaneity throughout the album, with Knott himself playing drums—poorly—on “Super Girl” and another song cutting off mid-chorus amidst screaming. It was ultimately released by fledgling indie label Tooth & Nail (a spiritual successor to Knott’s own label Blonde Vinyl). The artwork matched the grittiness of the music, featuring grainy high-contrast images from photographer and musician Matt Wignall, and a handwritten scrawl for the titles and credits.
Lost in Ohio is pleased to reissue Strip Cycle on vinyl for the first time. True to the original, the album is presented in all black and white packaging, with freshly-restored copies of Wignall’s original photos, including never-before-seen images from the photo shoot. Great care was taken to preserve the highest quality possible sound, with lacquers cut by hand at The Vinyl Room in the Netherlands, and processed at Pacri Group in Italy, before being lovingly pressed by Precision Record Pressing in Toronto.