October 2010

Brainbombs: Play This for Your Mother

The first time anyone is awarded the pleasure of hearing Anal Cunt, there should be some sort of epiphany about a thirty seconds into the endeavor. Music can be an awful clatter, rife with mocking condescension accompanied by lyrics just about anyone in the ‘slow’ English class could muster and it’ll still be kinda awesome.

Listening to Anal Cunt on a regular basis is probably one of the most rare occurrences on the face of the earth. And, granted, there’s a reason for that. But as offensive – and purposefully so – as that group is, there’s a clutch of Swedes that have been kicking around for just about twenty five years who rival that better known pseudo-metal group.

The Stems: Not a Monumental Achievement

The Saints, after hearing the Ramones, reportedly, figured the New Yorkers had ripped them off.

Apart from that being a weird and endlessly hilarious commentary on how the dissemination of media’s changed in the last forty years, there’s really no way to figure out who did what first. It’s too much to figure that anyone involved with the Ramones or the Saints cataloged dates for initial practices or impromptu jam sessions.

A Minute with Chris Gunn from the Hunches (Part Four)

K: I grew up in Cleveland so there were old punkers around all the time, but whata you gotta say ‘bout the Electric Eels? How’d you find out about ‘em and why “Accident” instead of some other cover? (That’s a song with a vacuum on it, right?

CG: The Electric Eels are one of the best bands ever and they were a huge influence on us. Any singer or lyricist worth a shit should study Dave E’s lyrics religiously. Brian McMahon is the only person in the history of In the Red Records to demand royalties for our cover of Accident. Larry has to send him about twenty cents a year or something like that. One time Brian came to our show in Chicago so we thought that was pretty cool. I’m pretty sure he came just to make sure we weren’t ripping The Eels off too much. I was too drunk and nervous to meet him but Hart says he was there.

The Oblivians: An Historically Relevant Garage

The import of Memphis, TN’s the Oblivians extends beyond its music even as the group issued countless singles and long players over its five year career.

For whatever reason, Memphis has long been a weird conglomeration of music styles, labels, recording studios and Southern misfits. Cobbled together from the Compulsive Gamblers and a stray record store clerk, the Oblivians counted as one of the innumerable bands combining garage and punk stuffs during the early nineties in contrast to all the Seattle styled stuff that was going on.

Simple Minds: Early Stuff that Won't Make You Wretch

"Don't You (Forget About Me)" made Simple Minds a boat load of money. And while band members can’t be bummed out about that or being internationally famous, it’d be an easy bet that the group is well aware that most of its music is nonsense and only a slim portion of its catalog is worth examining at this late date.

That’s a pretty pervasive view of most eighties, one off groups. Raking in a profit for some inane pop song must have been worth the time – and even if touring didn’t wind up being something of modernity’s orgy, no one would be complaining.

A Minute with Chris Gunn from the Hunches (Part Three)

I am glad that we are largely ignored or written off by these ego monsters. Most of our immature behavior can be seen as a way to keep this type of dipshit away from us. That song “I’m an intellectual” is very much about that. Hart screaming I’m an intellectual over and over like a baby that needs attention. It’s like any music review in the Wire or whatever. Look at me, look at me, I have a trust fund and have never worked a real job and now I attach ridiculous masturbatory meaning to boring music that should never be given a second glance.

Scritti Politti: Worse than You'd Think. And You Already Knew it was Bad.

The awful thing about post-punk, well one of ‘em seeing as there’s a litany of troubles with the tag, including everything from bands pre-dating punk getting lumped in here, is that there’s so much eighties’ tripe lumped in her as to obfuscate the better efforts.

Beyond just that – as if it wasn’t enough – bands cropping up after the first wave of punk was receding were saddled with the label and subsequently moved on to work in overt pop tones (that was a good reference right there, I hope you caught it).

A Minute with Chris Gunn from the Hunches (Part One)

Klat: When’d the band first get together? Did you release any singles prior to the release of Yes. No. Shut it!? 

Chris Gunn: We have been a band since 2000 or so. We have put out four albums on In the Red and a bunch of other singles. In the Red put out our first release which was a 7”. Touring was never that difficult geographically, the difficulties arose in other areas like alcohol consumption, anxiety, and motivation. We all worked together to write songs. This is our last tour and our last shows. Exit Dreams is our last real album and it was made knowing full well that we were going to break up.

K: Can you explain what the titles of your albums – Exit Dreams and Hobo Sunrise – are intended to mean?

Ari Up: RIP

Well, Ari Up's gone. That's a bummer seeing as she hadn't reached as many folks as need be with that last Slits' reunion tour. But at least her two earliest albums are still kicking around.

Scream: More than Dave Grohl. By Alot.

In the future Dischord Records is going to be looked upon as something of a Smithsonian of hardcore. The label really documented just about everything of note happening in the hardcore scene from DC to Virginia. It assisted in giving rise to whatever metal and hardcore birthed, but also, obviously, spurred on straight edge, accidentally or not.

Ian MacKaye isn’t an historian. But his label is going to help proper history buffs suss out what was happening in the States during the early eights. Just wait and see.

Flogging Molly, "Drunken Lullabies"

Celtic punk is an interesting kettle of fish. I’m not sure who came up with the idea of mixing elements of traditional Irish music with the dirty, nasty sweat stains of punk music, but it’s a combination that has proven wildly successful and hellaciously fun, bringing the heartache and beauty of Ireland to the pubs and colleges of New England. Flogging Molly gave us their second album,
Drunken Lullabies, in 2002, an entertaining, rousing collection of songs that cemented them as one of the mainstays of the genre.

A Minute with Johnny Witmer from the Stitches (Part Three)

JW: 95% of the Stitches songs are about getting fucked up. When we started out we were doing tons of Meth, and drinking Mickey’s 22 oz stingers. After the 12” came out some people started doing heroin, and we moved on to cocaine and imported beer. It was just a natural progression when you get paid.

PM: Was Twelve Imaginary Inches the last thing the Stitches recorded?

JW: No, we have an unreleased 7” in the can. It should be out soon. We also did a total New Wave LP of Stitches songs. Maybe that will come out soon too.

PM: Was there a different approach to recording or music in general when putting out Twelve Imaginary Inches? It seems slower and not new wavey, but it’s leaning in that direction kinda. And it’s certainly not as stripped down as 8 x 12.

The Orphans: Too Early and Too Late

There was a renaissance of punk in the early to mid nineties that expired by the turn of the century. ‘Alternative’ represented a culmination of underground sounds that ended up in the ears of youth who would soon start new bands, expanding on the sounds then current and whatever was being dug up for decade’s past. The critical mass of underground music, in this country, represented by SST, Dischord and Touch and Go, led many to dig deeper still into the past to discover the British punk bands, obscure and chart topping acts both. While the resultant acts, its musicianship and lyrics were more commonly trite than not (here and in Britain), a few bands managed to pull it off.

On Tony Rettman and Killed By Hardcore (Part Two)

Maintaining an assessment of the market place in positive terms, whoever’s behind dispensing the Killed By Hardcore compilations understands that culling a product, perhaps meant to tug at old dude’s heartstring’s, isn’t a bad idea. And while the impetus for such a project – no doubt gaining rights to some of this material in addition to figuring out the pressing and distribution of it all can be a bummer – stems from a love of the music, making a buck isn’t usually a bad idea.

But if these compilations didn’t exist, we’d either not have this music to listen to at all, or be necessitated to shell out some ridiculous prices to hear it. Rettman gets all that and spits it out in bits and pieces. More importantly, though, he’s got some historical (and personal) sense of the music.

A Minute with Johnny Witmer from the Stitches (Part Two)

PM: How does the band function differently than the Stitches? I don’t know what your voice sounds like and that Teenage Frames cd is in a box somewhere. So how are the vocal duties and songwriting split up?

JW: We actually practice every week. In The Stitches, we haven?t practiced in over 10 years. We just play live. I’m singing about half of the songs in The Crazy Squeeze. You can hear my voice on the songs on our myspace page. Frankie and Sleeper sing the other songs, but we haven’t recorded them yet. We all write the songs, but usually whoever writes the lyrics will sing the songs. 

PM: Are the Stitches still active in LA?