The Moldy Tapes Pt. 1: Schizoid’s 1989 Reunion in St. John’s

Within the last few weeks, a bedraggled VHS tape surfaced containing some vital footage of Newfoundland’s punk rock history. Though recovering the previously unseen video was anything but a clean process, our pal Alex Rumboldt got his hands dirty for the greater good of archiving this fundamental tape.

The first section of the video contains incredibly rare footage from the 1989 reunion of the band Schizoid. Best known for their highly sought after 1987 Beer Thief 7″ EP, Schizoid were of the first generation of hardcore punk bands in Newfoundland, and the first to master the unsubtle onslaught of the punk / thrash crossover variety.

Formed in 1985, Schizoid have remained one of the most noteworthy names in Newfoundland’s punk history. Recovering the footage of the 1989 reunion show was fundamentally important as the digitized result of the operation is one of the first publicly available snapshots of Schizoid. With little in archived media to back up that specific era of Newfoundland music, every last salvaged second counts.

The Moldy Tapes

The tapes belong to Ian Nightingale. Nightingale approached Alex Rumboldt, a collector/enthusiast/archivist who works at Fred’s Records, after Rumboldt had been on a digitizing spree with VHS that he owned, found, and borrowed. When Rumboldt agreed, he said he “didn’t quite expect the goldmine it turned out to be”.

Upon first inspection, the physical condition of the video tape was suspect, and the potential of the preserving its content was questionable.

“When Ian lent me the tapes to digitize, he warned me they were in bad shape”, says Rumboldt. “That’s fine, I’ve seen tapes in various states of degradation, but the tape inside these shells were caked in a hefty layer of white mold”.

So what do you do with a moldy VHS tape?

“Usually, when i come across movies in this state, I just toss them and look for a better copy” explains Rumboldt. “Knowing I had to see if it was salvageable, I began the cleaning process”.

Rumboldt’s meticulous DIY restoration process went like this, in verbatim:

“If you jam this in your VCR as-is, the mold will clog up the innards and probably mess up your machine. So I took a junked old player from Dad’s house, popped the top off it, and gave each tape a good fast forward and rewind a couple of times to help shake out the dust. If I was an intelligent person, I would’ve put on a dust mask, because there were particles clouding the room. After that, I fast forwarded it again, and took the screws out of the tape shell itself to take it apart and clean the empty plastic reel inside. When I put it back together and put it in the machine, I rewound it again, onto the newly-cleaned reel, with the tape sandwiched between two cotton pads soaked in rubbing alcohol. This cleaned any remaining particles off the tape while it is spooled onto the fresh cleaned reel. When I finished that, I opened the shell once more to clean the reel the dirty tape just came off of, and presto, mold-free VHS!”

Dust mask or not, we’d like to thank Alex Rumboldt for his service in making this piece of tape available. Check out the footage of Schizoid’s 1989 reunion in St. John’s:

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