Thursday, September 13, 2018
I have some things for sale if you want to buy them.
-- I wrote a zine about 70's punk band ICE 9 / COUNT VERTIGO. I'm very happy with it.
-- SBSM, an Oakland band playing destructive synth, put out their 2nd tape with me.
-- My old band RICE HARVESTER reunited in August to play one show in Chattanooga, TN. We have some ridiculous shirts left over if you want one.
Nowhere on this record does it say "Monster of Rock", but that has become the (un)official title of this record because all three of these bands toured together upon the release of this record and that was the name of the tour. I set up their final show of the tour when they came through Cleveland, MS where I was living at the time. JACK PALANCE BAND, after being one of the best region bands for the last ten years, were on shaky footing and didn't even make it to this show. Nevertheless, we drained the better part of two kegs and still had an amazing show out in the middle of nowhere in the Mississippi Delta.
When all the bands left, the next day, I layed on my floor and listened to this record over and over. As the years progressed, these songs felt darker and stranger than I initially felt them to be. In my mind, their hometown of Chattanooga (and my former home) had taken a dark turn and I was afraid it might stay that way forever. I'm being purposefully vague because this is just my interpretation, but I got in touch with Daniel from ADD/C for info about this record and I think I was mostly right. I'll keep it simple so that you can just enjoy the thing. Pretty much, the whole record is about drugs (and not really in that fun way) and losing friends. "Now and Never" is about our friend Allison and sometimes I like to imagine that the song is just simply an ode to drugs themselves so I don't have to think about how they took Allison away from us just a few short years after this song was written. And I'll leave it at that.
Notes on the recording quality: It's not great. It sounds like an alien transmission to me. I always thought it had something to do with the mastering, but Daniel told me that all the bands recorded on a broken 4 track (or maybe an 8 track with only 4 working tracks) with 1/4" tape on the top floor of the tree house, which was a long running freak abode in north Chattanooga. He blames that. Still, this record retains some weird, dark magic. QUEERWULF and ADD/C went on to do a lot more, but this was JACK PALANCE BAND's final release. Enjoy.
Monday, September 3, 2018
Portland, Oregon's SHARKS KILL may already be familiar to some readers of the blog because I have mentioned them in posts with ALL IS LOST and PUNKY ROCKIT...or maybe you lived in Portland in the mid-90's and saw them playing house shows during that time. If this is your first introduction to them, welcome.
I haven't had this tape since the mid-90's, but it was mailed to me by a longtime Portland resident who shall go unnamed...because when I received it in the mail, the manilla envelope that the tape originally came in (pictured above) was still sealed, meaning that the previous owner had probably never listened to it. My friend Harry used to play this tape in our shared house in Alabama and he always liked it a lot more than I ever did. Still, it's funny to say that you don't really like a tape, but there are still certain lines from songs that stick in your head for decades, even though you truly haven't heard them since 1998. There's some kind of weird power in that. So, when I pulled this tape out of the envelope and played it in my room in 2018, I was immediately mouthing the lines "Welcome to Portland...it gets dark and dreary here..."
SHARKS KILL walked that line between catchy indie-punk and emo. Since this is a place where I try to be brutally honest (in a way that has led to many, many awkward conversations with friends and dead friend's parents over the years), I will tell you that I am a fan of being in touch with your emotions, but I am an enemy of emo. SHARKS KILL crosses too far over the line for my tastes in a few circumstances, like "Forever 17", but I would be lying through my teeth if I didn't say that I have flown down dark hills alone on my bike late at night yelling the line "Rock and roll forever!!" "Crush Song" is the kind of song that you can only write in 1996 and even then, maybe not.. Still, it's lodged in my brain and I kinda love it. "Postcard" is such a time-and-place song and really catchy...I couldn't believe it wasn't on the band's 7" from a year later. Something about the otherworldly and tinny recording adds to the charm of this whole thing.
On this tape, they're a two piece, but they added Tasha on bass for their later 7" record. They didn't last long after that. Members went on to be in HOPE & ANCHOR, VEGAS THUNDER, TOUGH LOVE, BOYS OF SUMMER, DARK SKIES, FUTURE WEST and more.
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Rice Harvester was a zine I made for 20 years. A zine is a bunch of paper that someone scribbled on, photocopied for free at a chain store, and then stapled together to hand out on the street so that someone might understand their feelings. For the fourth issue, I compiled a cassette of punk bands to go with the issue. A cassette is a piece of plastic that houses quarter-inch magnetic tape that somehow magically holds music onto it. You put these cassettes into an even bigger piece of plastic or metal with big clunky buttons. These bigger pieces of plastic or metal used to be found for almost nothing at thrift stores or on the street. Anyway, you push down one of those big, clunky buttons and, if everything is right with the world, actual music comes out...or whatever it is that someone recorded onto that cassette.
SO, like I was saying, I put together a compilation tape that was given out for free with the free zine. I stole every last cassette from chain stores, sometimes just walking right out the front door with a few boxes of tapes in my arms because fuck capitalism and What Is Anything? The tape consists of some local favorites at the time (local at that time meant Huntsville, AL), bands that I wrote to for a song and some far-flung punk bands that were culled from my friend Joey's compilation LP that he never, ever intended to release. Imagine sending off your exclusive song with the intention of having it appear on this cool LP comp, but then it comes out on a free tape with some crappy zine from Alabama. Fuck yeah life!
THE CRUMBS, from Miami, FL start it off. They were a RAMONES-loving punk band from Miami. They were all fun and everything, but we stopped setting up shows for them once our friend stopped playing drums for them and they said some sketchy shit about women.
THE SLOBS, from Cincinnati were a weirdly underrated band from the mid-90's and they played sloppy basement punk. They put out a slew of shit, mostly in 1996 and this song, "Politician" did not appear on any of it, as far as I can tell. It's a funny concept for a song. "I don't wanna be a politician!!" Yeah, that's pretty easily avoidable, but a great thing to sing along to.
JABBERJAW was a Huntsville punk band who always sounded better live than on tape. I saw these three teenagers play a bunch of different shows around town. They were always great, but could never really channel their enthusiasm onto the recording. I asked them to be on this comp and remember being impressed that they knew how to dub a plane crash sound onto their song. I still am. I can't do that shit....still. I love that this song is about being a dead pilot.
FUN GIRLS FROM MT PILOT were from Nashville, TN and featured four guys who dressed in drag at their shows. The Huntsville scene really liked them, but I was kinda over them by this point. They were really fun and a good band...super bouncy punk and always a good live show, but I just wasn't too enamored like other folks were. What IS interesting is that they broke up and their singer, Cat went on to be a wrestling manager...like total WWF showman style, but on a DIY level. He wrote some articles in zines about it and seeing the similarities to DIY punk was really interesting. This song might be exclusive, but I'm not sure.
PROPERTY is from Huntsville. They started in 1994(?) and they're still a band. I'm not sure if they've ever left the southeast US. At that time, their shows often included members of the band running headlong into other members of the band and knocking them across the room, completely ending the song. The 5 members of the band brought a lot of styles to the table, but mostly settled into hardcore and catchy punk. They were always great and fun to watch. I bet they still are. I love this song because the teenage singer's voice (Shane) is cracking and the song is just plain great.
THE GRUMPIES have been discussed at length here, here and here so I will spare you. The two songs on this tape are from their original demo, which I loved so much that I jumped at the chance to be their drummer when the original one quit.
SWEATER PUNKS were another Huntsville band and their inclusion here is a mystery to me. I don't remember ever seeing them when I lived in town, but their guitarist Seth was always a solid fixture in bands so I probably trusted this new band of his to be good. My friend Jack (also from AL) did some minor detective work (meaning he asked Seth) and came up with this info: The band only recorded once when Jack went over to try out for the band on drums. So, that's him on this recording. The rest of the band was Seth on guitar and vocals and Greg (not me) on bass. This recording never got vocals put onto it, but the song on here was intended as an instrumental. Later, Joey from the 3D's heard this song and asked Seth to join the band. They re-recorded this song as "Spontaneous Human Combustion". Thanks to Jack and Seth for the info!
THE CRIMINALS were from Oakland / Berkeley and they recorded an exclusive version of their song at Gilman. That's all I'm gonna say because why do you need to know more info about posers?
JOEY TAMPON AND THE TOXIC SHOCKS was my old band There is more info about the band here.
WHITE TRASH SUPERMAN wrote the best punk song of the 90's and I asked if I could put it on this tape. They said yes. You can and should find more info about them here and here.
THE RICKETS were from Olympia, WA and were maybe the only spikey drunk punk band at that point in the town's history. While everyone else was concentrating on twee pop, minimalist punk and feigning pre-teen innocence even though they were pushing 30, THE RICKETS sang about getting drunk, hating their job, destroying Olympia and getting drunk again. Here. they contribute a song about my friend Janelle because it was the 90's and that's what bands did for some dumb reason.
CHICKENHEAD was a drunken, chaotic machine. This is the last song they ever recorded on the day they broke up. You can find more info about them here.
That;s it. Enjoy or don't.
Tuesday, August 28, 2018
Ever since receiving the excellent LP "I've Got the Bible Belt Around My Throat", I've been on a bit of a tear though music from my home state of Alabama. The record is a document of Alabama punk and it is an excellent collection of early punk and hardcore from all over the state. If you see it, definitely pick the record up. It had me going back through recordings by GNP, THE KNOCKABOUTS, THE JAWAS and so many more. One of the bands that never seemed to get any recognition at all anywhere, ever (except one other blog and now, here) was DECATUR! Decatur is a town in north Alabama that is barely a blip on the map and this band was from there, singing songs about their town and their friends. Their theme song has always been my favorite and is so bouncy and fun. I love it when bands sing about where they're from and name specific locations. With lines like "where Randy's mom runs cheap hotels, where all of my friends end up in jail, Decatur!!", you can't really lose. Once, I was listening to this at the punk house I lived at in Huntsville, AL. My roommate walked in during the line "Carl Stratman was our biggest fan, we owe him one because he let us use his guitar" and then my roommate said "Oh, hey, I bought that guitar off of Carl Stratman" and pointed out a beaten up guitar in the corner. My mind was kinda blown.
This isn't going to mean a lot to a lot of people who download it, but I think it's definitely worth your time. It's a product of the 90's and there are some clear cut nods towards SUPERCHUNK and that era of pop-punk. Here's what Heath, their singer / guitarist had to say about the band (taken from the now-defunct blog Nostalgia Isn't What it Used to Be...
All four of us grew up in Decatur. Then, all four of us went to Auburn (not because of the band. just coincidentally.) When we formed the band, since we were all from Decatur, we thought it would be funny to name the band that. We put an exclamation mark on the name to differentiate ourselves from the town. :) But yeah, your assumptions were pretty much dead on. All of the songs were about Decatur, and more specifically, about the dynamic between the two high schools. Rob, Eric, and I went to Decatur High, and Lisa went to Austin (we had a song that most Decatur people would get called "I Don't Work at the Rockin' McDonalds and You Don't Hang Out at Morningside" talking about it). It was all supposed to be goofy, and we were definitely a part of the early Green Day, Jawbreaker, Superchunk-influenced bands. The 7" doesn't really give a good cross-section of our style or our sound really, but it is what it is. We were a band from Oct. '94 to Oct. 31,1995, when we played our last show ever at the 40 Watt in Athens, GA, opening for our friends from Auburn, Man or Astroman.
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Upon arriving for our last show of tour in Zarautz in the Basque Country a couple of weeks ago, our band was tired, kinda sick and frazzled. After playing close to 30 something shows, mostly in a row with only 2 days off, it's a little hard to feel excited about another punk show.....but we were and the Basque punks did not disappoint. Our host Juanma told us that the venue would have dinner ready for us in a few minutes, but if we ate then, we would miss the first band and something about his tone helped convince me that we would be making a huge mistake by doing that. (sidenote for punks from the states: If you've never toured Europe, every venue, every squat feeds you dinner before your show and this simple act makes such a huge difference in the day to day brain decay of tour. The US could learn a thing or 5 from punks there) So, we held off on dinner and I'm glad we did. When ARROTZAK played their first song, something was off. It didn't feel right. I was starting to doubt Juanma, but the members of the band adjusted the amps, moved a drum or two and -- BAM -- way better! They played the kind of punk that I'm sick of describing...the kind of punk that you can't make sound good on paper (or a screen) but still sounds so good when it's done right in front of you. Melodic and gutsy and wonderful.
When they finished their set, our band ran upstairs to scarf our food and get back into the show before MANAGAITZ played their first song, who were also great.
This ARROTZAK tape is a couple of years old and features a different singer (and maybe even a different drummer). The live set was better, even though this tape is great but I hope they record some newer stuff soon.
Yes, someone made matchbooks for our show.
Thursday, April 19, 2018
Just how many times can one write about a forgotten band from the 90's and still pass themselves off as a sane individual? I gave up on passing myself off as that at least 20 years ago, so who cares? Recently, my old friend Jack unearthed this recording and digitized it to share with me. He said that the tape just had "Marsh" written on it in sharpie (Marsh played guitar in WTS). Jack thinks that this tape was mailed to him by the band when they were trying to get shows in Alabama back in the early 90's. When I played the first song, I immediately recognized it as "Clock" off of the band's self-released cassette from 1994, but it sounded different. I soon realized that it was maybe a demo version and then I got goddamn giddy as fuck when I found that this version didn't fade out like the "official" version and went on for another 2 minutes and included an extended chorus!! No really, I was jumping up and down in my room like a teenager when they did the extended chorus. It was so ridiculous that I laughed at myself.
Next up is "Wheaties" from their two song 7" and I'm pretty sure it's the same version. After that is the unfuckwithable "Couldn't If I Tried", which contains the exact same musical track with a slightly different vocal take. It doesn't diminish from the greatness of this song at all. Many well respected punks-of-a-certain-era of the 90's have named this song as the best punk song from the 90's and I will not dispute that. The tape ends with "Can Man", which has an almost identical bass line as "Wheaties" and I've never understood that. I think this might be a slightly different take than the "official" version but I can't really tell.
I understand that I didn't tell you anything about what they sound like, but I've just talked about this band a lot and I love them and I'll let you figure out the details. You can read more about them here.
I have not been updating the blog much in the last year, but I intend to change that. I just went on tour throughout Europe and talking to people in person in places like Greece, Basque Country, Serbia and Poland (among many other locales) helped me remember what a large impact music has on people's lives. People had really thoughtful and interesting things to say about the music on here. Knowing that someone far, far away from me is listening to my friend's band from 1994 who didn't have the resources to make more than 10 tapes is a really incredible thing.
And as long as I'm here, I wrote a zine about the 1979 Portland punk band Ice 9, which includes interviews with 2 members of the band. You can order it directly from me at Remote Outposts.
Thanks to the people who continue to support this blog, near and far. I hope you're still finding things that you enjoy. And I hope White Trash Superman doesn't take me to the people's court.