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KARP/The Whip's Scott Jernigan Passes Away

Catherine Lewis reports:
With heavy hearts, we report that Scott "Maniac" Jernigan, drummer for KARP and The Whip, was killed on June 10th in a boating accident on Lake Washington. He was 28.

KARP (Jernigan, Jared Warren, Chris Smith) formed in 1993 and released several full-length albums on K Records, along with stacks of singles, perhaps most memorably a split 12" with New Jersey's Rye Coalition on Troubleman Unlimited (young'uns without turntables, never fear: this gem was re-released by Troubleman on CD with a live session on KXLU from April 1995, complete with KARP's on-air taunting of yuppie Los Angeleans stuck in their Jaguars in rush hour. Priceless).

The word most often used to describe KARP's sound is "heavy"-- not surprising for a band whose influences included Black Sabbath and The Melvins: they were distorted, they screamed, and, as anyone who saw them live will remember, Scotty was relentless on his drumkit.

After KARP disbanded in 1998, Warren joined Tight Bros from Way Back When but recently teamed back up with Jernigan and Joe Preston (Thrones, Melvins) to form The Whip in late 2002. They recorded their debut 7" with Justin Trosper (Unwound) at his studio, and it was released by Missoula, Montana's Wantage USA. At the time of Jernigan's death, The Whip were finishing a tour-only EP for their first national tour, which has since been cancelled.

We recently had the chance to chat with Jared, who shared with us some memories of Scott.

Pitchfork: How did you initially meet Scott? How did you decide to form KARP?

Jared: I met Scott in the 7th grade. We were in an art class together. I thought he was obnoxious and loud. He apparently thought the same of me. We avoided each other that fall until we ended up in home economics together the following quarter. A few weeks into the class, the two of us were made to sit at a table together to complete all the worksheets and homework we hadn't bothered to do while our classmates went off to bake cookies and shit. We spent the hour drawing unflattering pictures of our teacher and telling fart jokes. We've been friends ever since.

KARP was originally an acronym for Kill All Redneck Pricks. We grew up in a hick town full of assholes, so it seemed appropriate. It started as a newsletter that we would make and hand out at school. In hindsight, I'm amazed we never got our asses kicked for writing it. I think if you wrote something like that now you'd get expelled and the FBI would want to talk to you. We all had instruments laying around for various reasons, so when we were 15, were started making noise in my mom's carport.

Pitchfork: How do you want people to remember KARP?

Jared: I've never really put much thought into it. I hope people enjoyed it. Hot. I want people to remember us as being hot.

Pitchfork: Tell me about Scott. What was he like as a person, as a drummer?

Jared: Knowing or meeting Scott was an enlightening experience. Nobody that ever met him walked away with an indifferent opinion of him. They were either confused, annoyed, charmed, or completely in love. Sometimes meeting him was unsettling for people. I loved watching the confused looks on peoples faces-"Is this guy for real?" Yes, and then some. Scott was the funniest person I've ever met, he always had me in stitches. He could do incredible impressions of people. He would master people's most distinguished mannerisms and mimic them with amazing subtlety. He had an infectious cackle, you could hear it for blocks. He was also the most loyal friend I've ever had. I trusted him with my friendship, love, and livelihood, and he never let me down.

As a drummer he was unstoppable, at the top of his class. He was cocky about his talents but charming enough to make it work, not to mention that he delivered the goods. Over the years, he really developed his own style. He hit his drums HARD. He was always breaking shit, be it sticks, drum heads, cymbals, pedals, you name it. He would pull off fills and rolls that left you with your mouth open. I never got tired of watching him play, and he never got tired of you watching him play. There was a time when he was going to play a solo show- just drums- but it never panned out. I remember everyone talking about how self indulgent and awesome it was going to be. It was truly an honor to have played with him for so long. I'd love to share stories, but I wouldn't know where to stop.

Pitchfork: How did the Whip form? How'd you end up playing with Scott again, and how'd you team up with Joe Preston?

Jared: I moved up to Seattle a few months after Scott with the hopes of starting a new band with him. After almost a year, I finally got up the nerve to ask him if he wanted to play again. We were both playing in other bands, but the time seemed right, and neither of our bands we were playing with was doing much in the way of touring and getting things done. We got drunk one night and I just asked him. A few days later I saw Joe in Olympia and told him that Scott and I were starting a new band. He mentioned that he'd be interested in playing guitar if we needed someone, and we did. The name came from Scott, I don't know where he came up with it. We were going to start a band after KARP broke up and that was to be the name. We got busy with other things and it never got off the ground.

Pitchfork: I heard you were in the process of recording a tour EP for the tour, how far along were you, and what do you plan to do with those recordings?

Jared: We recorded four songs for a tour only CD in Joe's basement. We mixed it real hasty like to get it out for tour, so I think Joe and I are going to remix it. We have plans to release it as a full length, with the two songs from the single, and maybe some cleaned up box recordings as well. We're going to release whatever sounds halfway decent. It should be out in a few months.

Pitchfork: What are your plans for future music? Continuing to work with Joe Preston?

Jared: I don't know, things are pretty confusing right now. I'll start playing again when it feels right I guess. The thought of playing with other drummers is daunting, but I can't imagine relying on a drum machine for the rest of my life. We haven't talked about it yet, but I'd love to continue to play with Joe in some capacity. He's also a fine, funny man, and a hell of a musician to boot. Baby steps, you know.

.: Pitchfork Review: Karp: Action Chemistry
.: Pitchfork Review: Tight Bros From Way Back When: Lend You a Hand
.: K Records:
.: Wantage:
.: Scotty Jernigan Obituary:
.: Originally published: 9 July 2003
.: Items mentioned above on Mustaches Wild (KARP, 1994); Suplex (KARP, 1995); Self-Titled LP (KARP, 1997); KARP/Rye Coalition Split (1997); Runnin' Through My Bones (Tight Bros from Way Back When, 1999).