Inner Sanctum, Virden, IL.

Inner Sanctum

Inner Sanctum

Inner Sanctum was a teen rock band from Virden, a small southern Illinois coal mining town with a fraught history.  For the members of the group learning to play music was an escape from their modest backgrounds and small town boredom of the time.  Two brothers were the core of the group, a rhythm section of Joe Hogan on drums and Dave Hogan (known to all since birth simply as Hogan) on bass. Hogan would also double as the band’s rodie / manager.  Larry Clark played guitar and organ, Gene Skeen played guitar and sang lead vocals and Mike Bates was the lead guitar player.  The group would switch off organ / guitar responsibilities depending on the song.  The Hogan brothers’ father, D. Hogan, was their agent and mentor. They practiced in their garage sometimes even recording themselves with a cheap recorder.

The group came together in 1966 while the members were in high school all around the ages of 14 to 16, at first mostly as a way to meet girls. Things however became much more serious and the band quickly found they were practicing two nights a week and spending three more nights playing shows.  Such a busy work schedule saw the guys making more money playing local shows than their teachers were earning per week!  They would encounter some real resentment on the part of the teachers who saw these wild kids with long hair and new found earnings. Hogan was a really big kid and would have been an asset to any football team.  He said “they let me play my senior year of football with long hair but then for the second semester they told me I would have to cut my hair to conform to the dress code.”  He went to his father who said to comply and cut it so he did.  Apparently the trim wasn’t enough for the coaches, who demanded a shaved “burr” cut.  He went back to his father who told him not to put up with the schools abusive demands.  This combined with the band’s increasing success lead to the bass player becoming a real rock n roll drop out.    What use was there to be in school if they already had their dream jobs? 

Inner Sanctum would record at Golden Voice three times.  They initially learned about the studio via Randy Baldwin a dj at the local radio station, WCVS.  They needed to make a recording to use as an audition tape for the amateur band contest on ABC’s Happening ’68 TV show.  Arrangements were made for the guys to record at Golden Voice.  They would record on a weekend because the studio’s rates were cheaper on weekends.  They would set off at six in the morning to arrive by eight and record three songs for their demo tape. This was still the early days of the studio and they grouop recorded on the four track set up using their amps and playing live in the studio.  Hogan recalled how Jerry let them know it was their time and they could use it how they would like and that he would do what he could to bring out the best in their music.  The results were three cover songs including their amped up version of Gimmie Some Lovin’.    The recordings were a success and Inner Sanctum was selected to play the show.  In 1968 they would travel to Los Angeles for a week to perform Gimmie Some Lovin as part of the battle of the bands contest, where they would achieve a respectable 2nd place.  As a result of this trip they were able to see a lot of the really great west coast bands and experience the music scene in LA in the late 1960’s.  They also were able to make connections for a second return trip to play on the west coast later on in 1969.  They also played two stops on the way out and three on the way back to finance the trip. 

The group would return to Golden Voice two more times.  On their next trip they would record their lone single: Inner Sanctum – Can’t Make It without You / The Times Are Getting Better.   The record was produced using the Golden Voice house label: Thunder.  The 1967 copyright date on the label reflects the label design and a number of the records on Thunder were released in 1968.  Thunder was used in the first few years, along side the eponymous Golden Voice label, as a option for people who were looking to create the feel of a proper releases on an established label for their self-released projects.

It was on the occasion of recording their single that the band would forgo the live method of playing for a more highly produced sound.  It was the first time the band would plug directly into the console instead of using amps.  They also used headphone monitors for the first time at this session.  Some of the members had trouble adapting and had to play with one side of the headphones off of their ear to hear the room sound.  According to Hogan, Jerry took time and showed them how the studio worked as he took them through the mixing process of the record.  Jerry was able to use the studio’s echo chamber and high ceiling with very early acoustic sound treatments to craft the psychedelic sound of their record.  

Inner Sanctum Times Are Getting Better

On their third trip to Golden Voice they would get to experience the conversion to an eight track studio.  The band’s goal this trip would be to record three songs. The trouble with that idea was that they had only two songs written when it came time to go to Pekin.  They were undaunted and when they set out at six AM that day the group was able to come up with one on the trip north.  Unfortunately for posterity, all of the tapes of their Golden Voice sessions were destroyed in a flood years ago.  The group would continue to play locally for years and in 1976 the members went their separate ways. 

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