Friday, August 31, 2012

LIFE DURING WARTIME #9 - CD-R - 2010

   I'm a big fan of used record stores, street sales, yard sales and just plain looking through the trash for treasures. Some of the records I've found while digging though collections in the past have blown my mind, like the time I found the FRED LANE LP for $8. Or the time I came across the first MELVINS LP on Alchemy Records in a used bin for $2. I can't even begin to describe how happy I was when I stumbled upon a yard sale where every record was $1 and I walked away with first pressings by THE DEAD BOYSTHE 101er'sGANG OF FOUR and 27 others. It was mindblowing. I actually checked in with the guy selling the stuff to make sure he wasn't about to commit suicide. (He said he was moving and couldn't afford to ship it.)
    A guy named Warren Hill also likes to dig through record collections, but he found a real one of a kind. While searching through records at a yard sale, he found a lost acetate of the VELVET UNDERGROUND and bought it for 75 cents. It contained alternate versions of VU songs that possibly had never been heard by the public. What follows on this download is the story of finding that record and figuring out what to do with it. The interview is conducted by Erin Yanke in her long-running audiozine, Life During Wartime and the story is interspersed with audio from the acetate. I'm not gonna tell you anymore because it would just ruin the whole thing for you.
Download LIFE DURING WARTIME

If you would like to hear more episodes of Life During Wartime, be sure to click on the "Audio Zine" tag below.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

SHITHEAD JONES - Tape - 1997

SHITHEAD JONES was a teenage punk band from the bowels of Huntsville,AL who were known by very few during their brief existence. Like many teenage punk bands in Alabama, they probably started because this group of friends was bored and there were some instruments sitting around. Ramesh played the bass, Kevin sang, Jay Kaos played the guitar and Ryan (who had the unfortunate nickname "Pube") banged on the drums.  I saw them play shows at Gorin's Ice Cream in downtown Huntsville numerous times, playing to almost no one. Even though it seemed frustrating to the band that no one really wanted to watch them, they played with an energetic determination that I found inspiring. 
     I read once that BLACK FLAG showed up to a show in the middle of nowhere and hardly anyone came to see them. Henry Rollins started complaining about how he didn't want to load their equipment out to play to a handful of people. Chuck Dukowski said that they had to. They had to load out and play their hearts out whether it's 5 people or 500 because that's what they do. They give their all in every performance no matter what. SHITHEAD JONES never had the option of playing to 500 people...maybe not even 50. Still, they played their hearts out to empty rooms and I sometimes think of them to this day when my band is playing a less than stellar show on tour. 

   This download contains everything I know of by the band in all of its falling-apart, ramshackle glory. The first 5 songs are from a random tape they made at home (turn it up fukkin' loud...bad quality) and it is followed by an "interview", where their bass player, Ramesh talks to the singer, Kevin at a show in Huntsville. The last two songs are from a recording "sesh" in Harvest, AL when I asked the band to record some songs for a tape comp that I was releasing. All of the sound quality is pretty awful, but this is what happens when you get 4 broke punk kids together who want to spend absolutely nothing on their band. I love it.
   This is the hard part that I don't wanna write...because I'm sick of writing about dead friends...because it exhausts me to think about all of the things that I (and we) could have done as a community to keep an old friend on this earth a little bit longer. It's too late though. Ramesh Narayanan took his own life a little over a week ago in Chattanooga, TN and it breaks my heart. I met him at a show at the Tip-Top (a bar in Huntsville that let kids in for some reason) back in 1993 (I think) when he was hanging out with his friend, Blair, who I also met that night. I soon realized that being friends with Ramesh meant it was a package deal and I would also spend the same amount of time hanging out with Blair. It was fine with me since they were both fun to be around, usually had good ideas and had excellent musical tastes. There was absolutely nothing to do in Huntsville, so sometimes they would pick me up in Blair's car and we would just drive around town listening to RANCID. I felt like I was part of some weird, secret special pact when they invited me to be in their home recording project, A.O.A. I appreciated it when they would come over to drag me out of my house and go do anything. They were fun to be around.
   Like many teenage friendships, people tend to move away and start doing their own thing. I moved away and started touring a lot. Blair moved to Asheville and did the same. I soon ended up in Chattanooga, sharing a living room as a bedroom with Ramesh. Our relationship became complicated and difficult at times, but he still remained close and one of my oldest friends. Over the years, our paths crossed a lot. I moved a lot and he did too, but we kept in touch where we could. We even started another band together in the early '00's, but we were so scatterbrained that we couldn't even keep it together long enough to play one show. 
   I started trying to reach out a little more to him when I heard that he had moved back to his mom's house to take care of her, but I could never get much information out of him. I couldn't tell if he was embarrassed to move back home or if he was just to busy to talk about it or just thought it was a non-issue. We only corresponded through the internet for the last few years and when I ever returned to visit Chattanooga, the lack of his presence was always felt. When I heard that he was gone, I didn't want to believe it. I still don't. I didn't want to believe that he could feel so alone with such a large community of friends at his disposal, although I know that feeling as well. I don't know what was going on, Ramesh, but I do want you to know that I miss you. I love you. You made a huge impact in my life in a lot of different ways and I wish you would have known how many lives you have altered in this world. Since his passing, a lot of people have gotten in touch...people that I didn't expect and I forget that he knew so many folks: artists, freaks, parents, norms, queers, a rock star who shared the stage with The Boss, gutter punks and more. What can we do to reach out when our friends are in trouble? How can we offer a hand when we feel so far away? I know that I'm going to try harder to let my friends know that I care about them and try to be there when they need me, but what can we all do? It's impossible to always know what is going on in someone's head. I just feel so lost.

Link updated Feb 2017

With this entry, this blog has been viewed over 100,000 times. Thanks for reading and paying attention to my ramblings as well as listening to all of these crazy recordings that I have. I appreciate it. 


Monday, August 20, 2012

THIS BIKE IS A PIPEBOMB - Comedy Tape - 2004

   My thoughts on the music of TBIAPB have already been documented before, but if you missed it, I'm not a big fan. That said, I am a big fan of the actual people in this band. I believe that their hearts are made of gold (not literally) and their ideals are unfuckwithable. A friend of mine referred to them as "one of the worst bands of all time", which I will respectfully disagree with. Sure, they helped pave the way for one of the worst musical genres of all time (folk-punk), but they didn't mean to do that and they felt burdened by the path that they were on. When I would go on tour with them, we would drink whiskey drinks in the van and complain about the caliber of opening bands at their shows. We would discuss how it's important to try and support young musicians as they are starting out, but we just wished there would just be a fucking punk band on the show...and not a timid kid playing a uke while staring at the ground. I remember getting to a show in Tucson and seeing a burly looking hardcore band set up. I got excited. When they played their cover of GORILLA BISCUITS' "New Direction"  Rymodee and I were right up front singing along.
    What does this have to do with this tape? Well, nothing really, but I don't think TBIAPB is the worst band of all time. Far from it. Have you heard....well, nevermind....There's a lot worse bands out there.
   This tape was recorded without their knowledge when they played very drunkenly at the first Plan-It-X Fest back in 2004. I was working "security" for the fest and I was in charge of making sure that all of the bands from the south didn't get too drunk to play....and to make sure they weren't drinking openly in the venue. What that translated to is that I would go backstage and drink with the bands for a while and then say "Oh yeah, don't get caught doing this." The band was given one hour to play and as evidenced by this tape, they talked for a full 30 minutes of that. All the music was cut out and you're just left with their often funny stage banter. I still believe that VENOM and IRON LUNG provides better laughs, but I still find some parts of this to be really funny. Regardless of how I feel about most of their music, you can bet that I will be front and center (or just drinking their drinks when they are onstage) when TBIAPB embarks on their upcoming West Coast tour in a couple of weeks.


Tape originally released by I Win Tapes.

Something important to remember is that they were playing in front of 600-700 people.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Remote Outposts on Youtube.



   I started a Youtube page to post videos of bands. You can link to it right here. Thanks!

SHOTWELL - "For The Devil Has His Day" - Tape - 2011

   SHOTWELL has put out so much stuff that it's ridiculous. They released this tape back in 2001, which was supposed to come out as a CD on S.P.A.M. records, but that never actually happened. It was released later as a CD on Plan-It-X and packaged in an elaborately sloppy, glued together sleeve. Among many SF SHOTWELL fans, this one is not as popular as their others, but I love it. It starts off with "We're Not Alone", one of my favorite SHOTWELL slow jams to date. It features Jimmy's famously sloppy guitar skronk, Buzz and Jimmy's lax harmonization and even an accordion. Buzz's friend, Ken came out from Delaware and ended up as drummer #10 (or so), lending his own style to the band and helping to make a different sounding record altogether. It's good. Just listen to it.


DOWNLOAD
Re-uploaded 3/17

To learn more about SHOTWELL and hear more of their stuff, you can check hereherehere and even here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

GIANT BAGS OF WEED - First Demo - Tape - 2001

    GIANT BAGS OF WEED started in Bloomington, IN back in 2001 when Billy (probably) hitchhiked there to hang out for a few weeks with friends. Matte, who appeared to exist on a strict diet of stale bread, Dr Pepper and Skittles, was always around and always ready to play drums (the latter is still true to this day). They got their friend, Chris to play bass but his car broke down 45 miles away and he couldn't make it to their first show. So, they got Matte's roommate Jim to fill in, which started a long tradition of the revolving door of bass players in this band. Other people who passed through that door were Chris (a different one), Jrd, Zack, Daniel and me.

   This tape sounds pretty rough and unrehearsed, but still contains my favorite GBOW song to date, which is the first one...aptly titled "One". The band was really prolific and threw songs away left and right. When I joined the band a year after this tape was made, I asked if we could play that first song. Matte and Billy had no recollection of it and didn't remember how to play it. During my time in the band, we would sometimes write a song and drop it a week later.
   These days, Billy plays in the excellent band, FUTURE VIRGINS and Matte can be found behind the drums with LANDLORD (the guitarist, Chris is the very first bass player of GBOW) or at a huge fest with NANA GRIZOL. Both are still winners in my book.



FUN FACTS
   1, We planned to go tour one time, but no one had a driver's license or a van. We made a plan to get a new band member who could drive. I left town for a while and re-joined the band when I came back playing second guitar. Our new bass player, Chris also didn't have a license. Total fail.
   2. I watched GIANT BAGS OF WEED play a show once in a kitchen where the floor later caved in.
   3. GBOW begged their way onto the final show at a sXe house in Bloomington, even though the residents of the house were very afraid that the band would try to sneak in alcohol. When the band DID sneak in drinks, they almost kicked them out...but didn't. Later the straight-edgers kicked out one of my friends in a very homophobic way. Later still, I watched each one of those guys break edge as they sat in bars trying to cover up their large sXe tattoos. 
   4. When the band was named, no one in the band smoked weed...and Billy was straight edge...and vegan.
   5. After quitting the band, I dumpstered a trash bag completely full of weed plants behind a bike shop in Knoxville, TN.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

REPLICA - Demo - Tape - 2011

   When I was growing up in Alabama, one of the first punk bands I got into was THE MINUTEMEN (unless you want to count the first VIOLENT FEMMES LP, which I got in 4th grade and thought was punk then). They opened up a whole new world to me and I soon started digging around and asking about any other punk bands. I soon discovered MINOR THREAT, who introduced me to the world of hardcore and split my mind open. I was coming out of middle school and the 1980's. Up until that point, the only aggressive music I had ever really heard was METALLICA......no, really (remember...Alabama...pre-internet...). MINOR THREAT changed everything for me in a number of ways that still holds true today. I wanted to see bands in my town who played that fast and sounded that pissed off. I started going to punk shows in my hometown, but I was usually greeted by so-called "emotional" hardcore, shitty bro-metal or just the worst pop-punk. Don't get me wrong...Alabama had a wealth of decent punk bands, including the weirdness of GNP, the straight up punk of WAFFLE HOUSE RIOTERS, the teenage punk band of Will Dandy (who later went on to play guitar in ORCHID and AMPERE...I don't remember the name of his old band but they were really good) and much more. Also, I was lucky enough to see bands back then like AUS ROTTEN, OI POLLOI and BLOWNAPART BASTARDS, who helped me to realize that there was something else out there. For the most part though, a lot of the bands that I saw who called themselves "hardcore" were just a bland soundtrack for shitty dudes to beat people up. Not knowing how to find out about the good bands with substance, I drifted more and more towards the melodic side of punk (yes, there are lots of pitfalls on this side of it too, but I was lucky enough to align myself with some real winners) while still keeping an ear out for true freaks playing vicious, inspired hardcore.
   Many of the towns I've lived in over the years didn't really have a hardcore scene to speak of. It usually consisted of one or two good hardcore bands set adrift in a sea of melodic punk. You could see the pain in their faces as they watched their friends go apeshit over every new pop-punk band that came to town. Meanwhile, they struggled for an audience, as they would end up playing with Christian metal bands since no one else would book them.
   It wasn't until I moved back out to the Bay Area that I found a hardcore scene that really piqued my interest. A lot of other places have better melodic punk, better garage rock and better indie rock, but (as fas as I'm concerned) the Bay Area has the best hardcore bands I've seen in years. Take REPLICA, for instance. I kept missing their shows for months. I would either walk in to a show as soon as they hit their last note or just miss them altogether, but everyone is always talking about how good they are. I bought their tape without ever seeing them and I was blown away. REPLICA is everything I like about hardcore. They are nothing like MINOR THREAT (at all), but they took me back to that feeling I had when I first heard hardcore. It's intense, ripping and destroys everything in its path. From the first crushing guitar riff of "Sycophant" to the last desperate growl of "Sandy Bottoms", REPLICA pulls me back into the world of hardcore for only five short minutes, but makes me wish that I had never placed that scene on the back burner for all those years.
  When I was on tour in Europe, my friend Flo asked me if there were any new Bay Area bands that I really loved. I looked at the ground for a short second and then replied, "REPLICA!" When we got back in the van, I blasted their demo on the stereo and before it was even over, Flo wanted to know how to get in touch with them to put out a record.
     Along with NO STATIK, HUNTING PARTY, OPT OUT,  EFFLUXUS, and PERMANENT RUIN (and many more), REPLICA is reinvigorating the hardcore scene in a way that I haven't seen in years. You would be a fool to miss out on any of these bands.


Features members of INFECT, DUCK AND COVER, NO STATIK and fuckin' JUD JUD. Their demo was released on a flexi by Radical Punks Never Die, but I think it is already sold out.

EDIT 8/12/12: Here is also a link to a live radio show that REPLICA did in Portland last month. Right here on KBOO

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?! - "The Loneliness of a Part-Time Dishwasher" - Tape - 2003

  ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?!! thrashed around Richmond for the first few years of the 00's, playing manic hardcore that was informed by shitty kitchen jobs, falling down in shit and the fucking pigs. What more do you want to know? Two of the people in this band are some of the cooler people I have met in my life. You can read about one of them here. You can go hang out at the Bamboo Cafe in Richmond to meet the other one. Put it on your headphones and run down the street screaming the chorus to "Are You Fucking Serious?!!".



Wednesday, August 1, 2012

COPYCATS - Demo - CD-R - 2011

   As I have said before, I agreed to write demo reviews at MRR a while back because their stacks of poorly recorded, shitty CD-R's were piling up and no one really cared to talk about them in print. Oddly, not many of the punks there are too excited to listen to the new 3 song demo by BUTT SMELLER or  the bedroom project of DON'T FREAK OUT THE BEARDED DRAGON (the latter is real, by the way). For some reason, I'm into it. A good friend of mine once said that the beautiful thing about punk is that anyone can start a band, but that doesn't mean that they should. I think that's a terrible thing to say, but it pains me to admit that I agree with her.
   In addition to the piles and piles of crap that MRR gets every month, there are also hundreds of incredible punk songs that fly out of their stereo speakers. One of the bands making those sounds is COPYCATS from Granada, Spain. They definitely wear their HEARTBREAKERS, WIPERS and GUN CLUB influences firmly on their ripped sleeveless t-shirts, but they do it well. While never reaching the greatness of the aforementioned bands (who can?), they still manage to crank out quality rock 'n' roll that sounds both timeless and crucial. When music like this is done badly, it can be the worst thing ever, but when a band pays attention to the details like this, it really shines. This is perfect nothing-to-do-all-day-but-sit-in-the-park music. Alternately, it also works well for a 5 am last-drink-of-the-night album or just to get you up in the morning. Take your pick.


For fans of the aforementioned bands, FROZEN TEENS and good, straightforward punk.