Two friends named Andrew and Travis got together and wrote some 100% no-shit-sick-ass hardcore riffs. Then, they hauled all of their gear into the legendary Dub Master Avery's Atomic Spliff Bunker (okay, it's a windowless hut on Dore Alley in San Francisco...or space...I think) and the two of them played all the instruments to make this incredible demo. As soon as they put it into the world, punks were banging down their door (or more likely, politely texting them) to get the band to play some shows, but the only problem is that there was no band to speak of.
Originally, they got Michelle to play bass. She's a woman who has never been in a hardcore band and once played on a record that got rejected from Maximum Rock N Roll for being "not punk", but she has more attitude and anger than most of the tourists who have clumsily tried to attach a stud to a leather jacket. They asked me to play drums, even though my history with hardcore is spotty at best. We both lasted one whole practice before they hastily replaced us with more suitable candidates. Robert is now their bass player. If you have even a passing interest in excellent DIY hardcore, there's a good chance he played on a number of records in your collection. Motherfucker has a really good idea about what he's doing. Ben is now their drummer and, unlike me, probably tunes his drums and can play a mosh breakdown beat that will ruin you. They sound fucking tight,
I've liked this tape since the day I heard it, but yesterday I pointlessly drove to Oakland so that I could sit in traffic (long story. I'll spare you) and listen to this thing over and over again. I might have listened to it 20 times in a row and it was good every fucking time. I'm not gonna sit here and tell you that STERILE MIND is breaking any kind of mold or going out on limbs, but I will tell you that they play compact, blazing, pissed-off, insanely memorable hardcore better than most.
Also, this band has turned down more jaw-dropping shows than most bands have played in their existence.
The tape is sold out from the band. They've got some new shit on the way "soon".
Totally unrelated: I put out a tape by one of my favorite Oakland bands, SBSM. I love them. I think what they're doing is magical and loud and confusing and weird and haunting and cacophonous and destructive. Sometimes, I have no clue what they're doing and that is part of their beauty. I feel lucky to have a part in putting their music out in the world. Please look for them on their upcoming US tour and you can buy a tape here.
Stardate: 1998. The location was Maxie, MS. The whole town consists of a mobile home, a house, a church and a graveyard. Some drunks lived in the trailer and didn't seem to give a shit about anything. The house was inhabited by three or four punks who invited touring bands to play in their living room. The other neighbors were dead or only around during church services. Even though the only punks in town lived in that house, the shows were always good and people flocked to them from around the state of Mississippi. Some bands that played there were THE GRUMPIES (Starkville, MS), ONE REASON (Cleveland, MS I think they played their first show ever in Maxie), SUDDENLY SUBHAN (Starkville), LES TURDZ (Biloxi), FYP (San Pedro, CA), OPERATION CLIFF CLAVIN (Bloomington, IN) and many, many more. The people who lived in that house were dedicated to making a scene happen in their town, even if they were 4 of the 9 people who lived in the town. Some of the best shows I ever played in my life were in that house...even the show where someone smacked me in the face with a full beer while I played drums, giving me my first black eye.
At one of these shows, I was breaking down my drumset on the front porch while making small talk with a member of the (kind of bad) funk/punk band from Hattiesburg, a town 30 miles north with a population of almost 46,000. At the time, all I knew about Hattiesburg is that it was a town that had a really stupid speed trap on the interstate where police had pulled me over at least three times and searched our tour vehicles, looking for any remnants of the pounds of illegal drugs we were sure to have. I asked the dude, "Where do you guys have shows in Hattiesburg?" He said, "Aw man, we don't have nothing like this in Hattiesburg! They've got it made down here." I looked down the street to the graveyard and the empty streets as the crows cawed and the crickets chirped. "Yeah, this is excellent, but surely you've something going on...house shows, bar shows, local bands....something?!" "Naw man. We like to jam out down here. It's all set up."
I didn't really feel like it was my place to explain DIY to the guy, so we both walked back in as another rowdy band started their set. Fast forward seventeen fucking years and this tape is sitting in my post office box. It's really the first time I've heard of or even thought of Hattiesburg since then, even though I've lived more than half of my life in the south. BIG BLEACH and BAGHEAD are two bands from that town. Both bands are basically all of the same people, but sound different from each other. BIG BLEACH is fun, straightforward punk with female vocals. It sounds like exactly what you want to hear in a moldy ass living room. (I wish the vocals were louder). BAGHEAD is uglier, rawer sounding hardcore punk with male vocals that is lurchy and mean. I'm sure that there's been a rich history of punk and hardcore in the south Mississippi scene between that bad funk / punk band and these two bands, but if you're looking for that history here, you're in the wrong place. Big shout out to BAGHEAD and BIG BLEACH for making (and sending) these tapes, putting on house shows in their town and keeping it real.
One night, I walked over to a show in north Chattanooga at a house with a falling in kitchen (one night, that kitchen's floor fell in during a show, but not this one). I showed up because PANTY RAID was playing, but they were with these two total fuuuuucking goofballs who immediately decided that we were friends and, yes, we were all going to get wasted together. It was a dark period in my life when I lived on a weird, filthy houseboat (no shame. that boat saved my life) anchored in the stinky ass Tennessee River. I was ready to get drunk and die at the drop of a hat. So were these two guys, so we got along great. It wasn't until I saw them tuning up that I even realized that they were in a band playing that night. I thought, "These guys can barely stand. Will they be able to play?" This situation is not uncommon in Chattanooga, but is usually best executed by locals. The touring bands almost always fail and pull off one of the worst sets of their tour. SEXY did not fail. Joined by Baby Ian on bass, they played the best set of the night. The floors were so unstable that their mic stands were bouncing all over the place, but Ashley and Chris (my two new friends) just followed as best they could while wildly pounding out some of the catchiest songs I had heard in years. I didn't buy their demo tape and I still regret it.
When I moved out to the Bay Area a year later, I hung out with these two fools when I could, at shows, on the street, getting booted out of breweries, on the waterfront, etc, I trekked up to Pacific Heights (aka Specific Whites) to see them play in a cool teen's parent's house (whassup Chloe Puke) and everything seemed wrong. They played two songs and looked at each other...."This sucks. Why do we sound so bad?" Chris pulled a huge jug of wine out of his bag and started chugging it. He passed it to Ashley, who followed suit. As they kept playing, they sounded better and better until they were (as usual) completely annihilating the show.On the bike ride home from the show, I watched Chris get sideswiped by a city bus. He sat on the ground for a second and said "Aw man..." before getting back on his bike and continuing on with us.
I kept watching them everywhere I could: in shitty bars, in humid Florida warehouses, on the street and in the women's bathroom at Gilman. Once, I yelled "NOOOOOOOOO!!" at them for the entirety of their true-to-form cover of THE BAND'S "Up On Cripple Creek". They almost always seemed to harness that sweet spot of perfect abandon. almost-too-drunk and true freedom when it was all at it's breaking point.
When I heard they recorded an LP, I wanted to hear it immediately, but I was skeptical. Could this band actually harness the sound of ridiculous, unhinged, drunken abandon? Yeah, they did. This record sounds exactly like SEXY live. Better, even...and to actually read the lyrics made you understand that this band was pretty funny...and fucking sad. Metaphors are few on this LP. They talk about writing songs on the bus, smoking crack while watching the ships roll in, breaking down in Kettleman City (a shithole if there ever was one), shotgunning 50 beers in the shower to dull the pain, etc. This record also came into my life at a perfect time...when I felt terrible...when I felt okay about listening to songs about pain and heartbreak without thinking too terribly much about how my actions caused serious pain and repercussions to the people around me...when I didn't think too much about how you can write an unforgettable, classic song about someone, but that someone is actually someone, you know? They're a living, breathing human being that has to endure idiots like me blabbing on about this wonderful shit, while they're like "Great...that dude gets to be validated for the rest of his life for being a drunken guy who broke my heart and stole my SMOKING POPES record." That is a simple over-analyzation of a bigger thing, but you get where I'm coming from, right? I love this record. I always will, but I think too much.
The song is called "Thank You Dead and Gone" because the wood block and percussion used on that song was found in the trash outside of DEAD AND GONE's practice space.
Yes, this is a record...not a tape. It was a request.
The original press of this LP has a pressing flaw and it has skips in it. The band kept giving me copies of it when I kept telling them that my copy skipped a lot. At one point, I had 8 copies of this record. Thrillhouse Records repressed the LP and made new plates so it doesn't skip. You can still order it from them.
If I wasn't clear, this is one of the best records of the last 15 years. If you've never heard this record and like melodic punk on this blog, this is essential.
WORK/DEATH is an entity that has been sitting on the back burner of Remote Outposts for quite some time now...not because it's any less important or sonically pleasing than other tapes on this blog, but because I just don't know how to talk about it. I don't really know how to tell you why this might be relevant to your life or even life-changing, but I really, truly think it is.
I remember one night, Pars and I were trying to explain the importance of WORK/DEATH to a friend, which is always an exercise in futility, because if people don't like something, they just don't like it...and that's fine. If you were to combine both of our explanations into one big glob, it would go something like this: WORK/DEATH is noise, but it's more than noise. It's calculated. It's intentional. It's no fucking joke and there is no fucking around. Also, to some extent, it's the modern day equivalent of classical music for our era.
I didn't really "get" WORK/DEATH until I saw it live. Scott, the core member of W/D, stepped up to his mess of pedals, keyboards, homemade gear and wires to start his set without fanfare. Watching him compose for the next 25 minutes, creating a wall of noise that completely enveloped every inch of the room, floored me. Many times when I see people create noise music live, I'm bored to goddamn tears and I can't wait for the idiot with the fucking pedals to stop wasting my time. That feeling doesn't even begin to surface with WORK/DEATH.
This tape may not be the best start for your journey with WORK/DEATH, if this is your first time hearing them, but this is what I'm giving you. I got this one delivered to me in a stack of tapes from Providence, RI. When I opened up this tape for the first time, a toenail fell out. It seemed fitting, somehow.
Scott told me in an email that he believes that part of the process of listening to music is engaging and interacting with the physical object. I agree. His tapes are sometimes difficult to track down, but maybe you can send some money to Three Songs Of Lenin at P.O. Box 29680, Providence, RI 02909 and see what you get.
THE WHIP was a band from Olympia. It's what happened after KARP. Joe Preston, Jared Warren and Scott Jernigan. They didn't play that many shows, but they did put out a 7", which is great and K Records might still have a few copies of it (?) (ed note - Wantage has copies of it here). These two shows have only 5 songs. I think the ReBar show was their first show? I recorded both of these on a handheld tape recorder and don't even remember being at the Backstage show. Whatever. Enjoy.
"Sounds like BAD BRAINS"
"Internet hype band"
"I don't listen to hype bands"
A copy of their tape sold for $75 dollars on Discogs. $75. A demo tape. This stupid demo tape. What fan of BIG ZIT has that kind of money to throw around on a little piece of plastic that is bound to break?
Whatever. This tape is great. I spent almost nothing on it. It has a homemade cover by the band that is too difficult to scan. If you like completely frenetic, lo fi hardcore, you should already be downloading this...or already have it. I don't care about hype. I just like good music.
Last night, I went to see BORN play at a record store in Oakland. Honestly, all I wanted to do was lay in bed all day sipping fizzy water, but if a great band can come all the way here from Iceland, I can drag my lazy ass out of bed and take the train over to see them. Plus, their drummer, Fannar hooked me up with a wonderful place to stay in his country when I went there. I wanted to shake his hand in person since I couldn't in Iceland, because he was in the hospital.
We talked. We laughed. The band was wonderful. I was dumbfounded that the show was poorly attended, which was directly impacted by the fact that JESUS AND MARY CHAIN and GREEN DAY were playing the same night. Whatever. Fannar asked what band(s) I was playing in these days and I said I was just playing in SILENT ERA. He said he'd try to remember to look us up, but I should just put it on the blog because he reads it all the time. It's always nice to know that people read this thing, especially in other countries, so Fannar, this one is for you.
I believe SILENT ERA was a band for a couple of years before ever playing a show. I'm not really sure because I wasn't there. Hardly any of us were, because by our 4th show, Matt (guitar) was the only original member. The band was originally Matt, Noelle (bass) and Mackey (drums). They were having a hard time finding a singer and I think a friend from Oakland named Fernando sang for a short time. After that didn't work out, our good friend Michelle came into the fold and the line up seemed pretty solid. The band (finally) played a show in a garage in Oakland and then Mackey quit the band, unceremoniously and without warning.
At the time, Matt was my roommate. We were sitting in the kitchen one day and he asked me to play drums. I saw how much time and energy the members were putting into the band, which I respect and told him to give me some time to think about it because I didn't want to join if I wasn't going to match that energy. Long story short, I joined. Plus, I was already playing music with Michelle in three other bands, so why not? (All of those are inactive/defunct besides STERILE MIND...but to say that we were ever full members of that band is a misnomer. I just wanted to mention them because they rule.) We hastily got our shit together, played a couple of shows, recorded this demo and then Michelle and Matt went to Europe for six weeks with THE NEW FLESH. Noelle went to South America. I worked at my job. Everyone came back besides Noelle, who now lives in NYC. We wasted no time....okay, that's not true...we definitely wasted some time....we got our friend Julia Booz to play bass and now, finally, things seems solid.
The band is working on a bunch of new stuff that we plan on recording in September and releasing in some form. This demo was recorded over a weekend in our practice space by Jonny Tsagakis on his large analog tape behemoth. We paid him in alcohol and snacks (and money). I like these songs a lot, but I think our new ones are even better. We have politics that are strong, but I don't feel like I need to explain them right now. I like these people. I like this band.
This is the 511th post on this blog, which is a large number but by no means a milestone. I just wanted to take a moment to say thanks to all of the folks who find their way to the blog and either read all of this silly bullshit I have to say or simply download the music and get the fuck out. When I started this thing, I just wanted to share a lot of my friend's bands...bands who put out only a few copies of their tapes and just shared them locally. I really didn't think anyone would pay attention, but they did. I don't know why, but they did.
The internet is a strange place full of sad men who like to fill their time asserting their dominance with useless knowledge of shit no one cares about. I'm not saying that I'm any different (besides the dominance part...I don't care about that), but I like that this small section of the internet has been largely devoid of brashness and outright hostility. I appreciate the fact that most of the people who comment on these posts and contact me in other ways have been largely positive experiences. So thank you. Thanks for taking your precious time to look at this or engage in any way. Thanks to bands (and not-bands) for sending me tapes, whether I like them or not. Thanks to 99% of the bands who have been okay with sharing their music for free throughout the world, including such faraway places as India, Russia, The Ukraine and....Canada.
Also, I feel like I've been slacking on the politics lately. It's been more like "the personal is political", so just in case there's any confusion, here we go with some of my personal guidelines: This is not a review site. If I like a tape, I share it. I don't talk about tapes I don't care for. DIY all the way. I don't even write about bands who use Kickstarter. Fuck Vice. Fuck Pitchfork. Fuck the cops...including the one in your head and people who just film illicit acts on the street and turn it over to law enforcement. DEAD MOON is the best band. I share a lot of bands comprised of men but I make an effort to make room for more marginalized voices as well, including women, people of color, trans people, genderqueer people, total fucking outcasts of society, freaks and disabled punks. I do my best to not promote anyone who has sexual assaulters in their band. I've definitely slipped up on that one, but a goddamn sad fact is that it's hard to keep track and I'm sorry for that. Is that it? That might be it.
Anyway, thanks for being here and thanks if you read this far. Thanks if you didn't too.
"What's more society and normal than being a misogynist prick? That's totally mainstream culture, so why would you be a punk if you were interested in doing that?" - Erin Yanke.
Onto the music....Speaking of people who get in touch, Elaan is a supporter of the blog and got in touch to tell me about WOUNDS. Lots of people tell me about bands, but truthfully, it's usually the band they play in. I don't fault people for that. It's cool to be stoked on your own band. Why bother otherwise? Elaan said they'd send me their own personal copy of the tape if I wanted to digitize it for the blog. I was hesitant because what if this person sends me their tape from across the country and I absolutely hate it and I'm like "Oh thanks.."....and then I'm just sitting here with this tape that I don't care about...taking up space with the 999 other tapes in my tiny room? Luckily for all parties involved, it was not a waste of time. WOUNDS was a (I think) short lived band from Portland, OR that featured members of heavy hitters like DEFECT DEFECT (r.i.p. DEEF) and RED DONS. It's dark and urgent and has hooks that sneak out of the mire to stay in your head all day. Their singer does this thing with his voice that reminds me of Nick Blinko on Cacophony...It threw me off at first but I think it's okay now. I'm also totally jealous of how fast their drummer plays sixteenth notes, but I can live with it.
Basically, everything I wanted to write here could be a re-hash of all of the things I wrote in the previous entry, so I'll spare you. The only real difference is that the people I was going to talk about are (in my eyes) still relevant players in the DIY and art community....still active in the scenes they claim to be a part of...still creating and trying to move forward in a world that probably wishes they would just play the hits and let us all have fun.
The short version: I walked over to the LIGHTNING BOLT show in my neighborhood, which has been sold out for two months. I tried to get in anyway, but it was solidly sold-the-fuck-out. The venue and area around it is....boring. It caters to money and power. It's an old, stale tale and I'm sure you already know it front to back. I would gladly give my money to LIGHTNING BOLT to entertain me for a spell but not that venue. (I hate being vague. It's called The Chapel.)
Out front, I clicked on the LIQUIDS tape and started walking...and kept walking and walking away from the crowds, the douche bros, the bars, the cars and the Friday night crowds until I realized that I'd probably listened to the fucking tape nine times in a row and now I was on the top of Potrero Hill overlooking all of the city of San Francisco. It got me in a zone. The tape is hyperactive, hook-laden straightforward punk...the kind of shit that you can't explain or make it sound good in print, but once you hear it, you realize it's everything you've been missing. It's the kind of thing I would expect from members of CONEHEADS and OOZE. You can download it for yourself and decide if that description is correct for your worldview or not.
I'm not a person who looks at messageboards (actually, do people still use these?) or tries to pay attention to the arguments that people have about the current state of punk because my eyes just glaze over. (trust me, I can see the hypocrisy of that statement.) BUT, I've seen the term "hype bands" being thrown around when referring to some current bands and their sudden popularity, such as CONEHEADS, G.L.O.S.S., BIG ZIT, etc.... The thing is, these bands are hyped for a reason...because they're fucking good. Sadie from G.L.O.S.S. told me that when her band was getting ready to press tapes, they had no idea how many to make and they all thought that 600 was a stupid, insane amount of tapes to make., so they made 300 and it sold out immediately. Plus, we're fucking punks and we don't have the money to be throwing around to make a shit ton of stupid tapes that could potentially just sit in a band member's room for years to come. Is this even making sense? I'm just saying that bands just do their thing. Sometimes people latch on to it and sometimes people don't. It's a big world and we have the capacity to enjoy lots of different shit..from CONEHEADS to every single thing ever played on KPOO to TENDER TANTRUM to old scratchy jazz records to harsh noise. Hyped or not. Don't deny yourself great music just because other people like it. And don't lose your shit because you can't track down the original tape because some band doesn't have the money or resources to cater to your every need. I'm done. Enjoy this tape.