IMPRACTICAL COCKPIT play at a little neighborhood bar. They were the only band on the bill and they played a great, sprawling hour-long set that literally cleared the room of every paying patron in the building. They had opened up the doors to the bar and the torrential downpour outside was blowing into the building. We thought that the burly biker-looking bartenders and door-guy were gonna be pissed off that the band had driven away their customers and left them with a weirdo band, their friend (me, who wasn't buying anything), the guy who set it up (Kris) and the one other spectator (hi Christina!). After playing the last note of the set, the dudes at the bar, who had been staring sternly the whole time with their arms crossed, asked "So, are you guys into SUN RA and BEEFHEART?" It turns out that the guys at the bar were stoked to hear improvisational noise and skronky sounds. They didn't give a fuck that we ran everyone off and they gave us a lot of free drinks. We went back to Kris' house afterwards to see his insanely huge record collection and talk nerdy about FRED LANE and DAVEY WILLIAMS until the wee hours. He said that he helped with a collective called Black Velvet Fuckre that had just put out a triple LP by his group VALLEY OF ASHES that had already sold out before it even got pressed. I knew that this guy must be up to something good if he can manage that.
After getting back home to Bloomington, I found this LP by a band called JACKWACKER and bought it for these two reasons: They were a local band from the early 90's and Black Velvet Fuckre had put it out. When I got home, I was not prepared for the weird, mega-distorted, totally fucked onslaught that greeted my ears. At first, I couldn't really tell what the hell was going on, but I knew that I liked it. The band consisted of only two guys, but it sounded like three or four. The guitarist was playing a guitar that had 3 bass strings and 3 guitar strings on it. The drummer was playing...well, a drum set. There was some intermittent howls and yelps, but most of the vocals were minimal. Some hacks in the music journalism field keep comparing them to LIGHTNING BOLT, but I don't really think it's an apt description. For one, they predated LIGHTNING BOLT by years and they were far more minimal, more jazzy and way more drone-y at times. A lot less freak-out and a lot more straight-up improv.
I had a really hard time finding out any info about them when I got this record. From what I could tell, they lived in Bloomington, Indiana in the early 90's and recorded a lot of these songs live in basements around town. Then, they moved to Madison, WI and recorded the rest before breaking up. I asked people around town if they knew anything about the band and no one really did. I asked old-timers and lifelong residents, but no one I asked had ever even heard of them.
I played 3rd guitar (!!) in a doomy sludge band called GOURMET SCUM and we were invited to play with a lot of other folks on a local radio show where each band was asked to do one original song and one cover by a local of any era. We chose to "interpret" a JACKWACKER song ("Hashslinger") live and in front of an audience at a downtown auditorium. After our ramshackle barrage of drop-D sludge, a guy walked up to me, said he appreciated the JACKWACKER cover and he didn't think anyone remembered them. I asked if he ever saw them and it turned out that he was the drummer, Rob. He said that they played a lot around Bloomington, but no one ever seemed to "get" them or appreciate what they were doing. After moving to Madison, they broke up after a year or so and life led Rob back to Bloomington, where he stopped playing punk/noise and got more into free-form jazz and improv. I didn't ask him much more about it because he seemed wholly uninterested...and there was a noise nerd around town who kept completely fucking hounding him for info...so I backed off (also, after this show, the noise nerd assumed we were a JACKWACKER cover band and was trying to get us to play shows as JACKWACKER, which we never did or acknowledged...because we were our own band.)
This record came from out of nowhere for me and I am really glad to see that this kind of noise was going on in the Midwest in the early 90's. It's destructive, cathartic, and insane. I love it.