Thursday, March 31, 2016

LEAVING CALIFORNIA REDUX


I originally wrote this piece almost two years ago. A few months later, I returned to California for an abbreviated stay. I deleted this entry at the time and then headed out again, and again. I currently call Las Vegas home. I would like to say that happiness comes from within, but it usually comes from whatever is in a 10-mile radius of me.

If I were a building, it would be a luxury high rise that rents outs the penthouse for porno. This is the death of a teenage dream: a dream that ran its long mile with brutal delusions, stuttered impulsiveness, and not-so-glamorous dares of death always in the air. The insidious narcissism and superficiality that burn bright in the Los Angeles County sky operate like an amoral compass. Something was missing in my quest for unending seediness and uncensored relationships. I was chasing an illusion, the famous one that used to lead struggling creative types to hang themselves from the Hollywood sign.

I wasn’t comfortable with the suicide thing because I have so many places and people to meet, but not in Long Beach or Los Angeles. Empty relationships are considered business or networking possibilities. All the while, you’re slowly losing your mind while trying to follow the lead of overachievers, workaholics, irritating alpha males, and poor little rich girls. I couldn’t take the loneliness of it all. What fucking happened to me? Why does purgatory seem like such a good idea? I realized I didn’t have much in common with these people or many other people in the various cities I had lived in.

I had been in and out of a bitter and twisted marriage for five years or so. I was trying to align my visions of a bloodthirsty gypsy existence with a world of heavy money, fast cars, false egos, and deadly doses of OCD. At the end of the day, my only accomplishments were primarily auspicious beginnings. But that’s just the thing, you know? Aspiring this and aspiring that, potential and possibility, pieces of an unreality that embraces you with betrayal and psychic vampires.

My psyche was maxed out, my libido was in limbo, and my passion was rotting away. I packed my clothes, records, laptop, and two guitars into my small two-door cruiser. It was time to travel into the unknown, the direction of wherever, that would be the starting point. Goodbye California and goodbye yellow brick road. Goodbye to the good times I wouldn’t let go of and the bad times I used for repetitive stagnation. Goodbye to the dreams of living in a Bret Easton Ellis novel and goodbye to the imaginary city that should’ve been overcrowded with classy decay and punk rockers worshipping at the altar of the Masque.

It all made sense as I finally crossed the California state line to depart into the future. Those ambitions and goals were based upon someone else’s scene, someone else’s memory, and someone else’s retelling of history. I have my own history, my own memories, and my own scene. My own scene is whatever I want it to be, and it exists when it’s supposed to. I’m a slacker, a writer, a musician, sometimes-scumbag, and I have some of the coolest friends in the world. You can react to reality or create your own. I like unknown destinations and my favorite place to live is between somewhere here and somewhere there.
-Kevin McGovern--

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

EUREKA CALIFORNIA - VERSUS (INTERVIEW-VIDEO-REVIEW)


Eureka California’s Versus is the underground breakthrough album this decade has been waiting for. Clever and cunning in its deconstruction of personal ambition and self-destruction, a ringing distorted blast of cerebral rock smashes and scorches its way through dead-end jobs, insidious self-doubt, the dumbing down of our population, and bureaucratic hypocrisy we all endure every day as we watch our future slip away. Harmonious anarchy and chic songwriting stubbornly co-exist in a collection that plays like a “greatest hits” album of a legendary cult classic. Fortunately, every song is brand new on the third full length by this Athens, Georgia duo. The introverted punk-pop of Superchunk’s On the Mouth does a futuristic dance of death with early Violent Femmes. Over caffeinated self-awareness and Big Star style chord phrasing are amplified to the point of no return among the devious tempos of these short but bittersweet snap shots of the human condition. A huge wall of distorted guitar reigns supreme with tasty splashes of reverbed vocals and sleek single noted rhyme. “Sign My Name With An X”, “Sober Sister”, and “Cobwebs On the Wind” rock fearlessly with the jagged grace of Kryptonite-era Gaunt. The acoustic numbers, “Everybody Had A Hard Year” and “Fear and Loathing In The Classic City”, are unforgettable twisted reflections of disillusionment and solitude. The new Five Easy Pieces: Five out of five stars. The future is here and the time is right for getting blackout drunk in the street. (release date March 25, 2016) Keep scrolling to see their premiere video and read the interview we just did last week...

VIDEO PREMIERE: EUREKA CALIFORNIA'S NIGHT IN



INTERVIEW WITH EUREKA CA's Jake Ward and Marie A. Uhler:

What made you decide to go with the band name “Eureka California”?


J: It sounded like a good name and I had to call the band something. However, a lot of people get confused or assume that we’re from California... so, ya know, I’d probably rethink it if we were starting the band now.


Why do you think people feel so hopeless and isolated in 2016?


J: Trump is ahead in the polls. King of the Hill isn’t on Netflix. You can work a full time job (40 hours a week which is already ridiculous), have a degree and still just skate by above the poverty line. You’re only as good as your Instagram account. But it’s really easy to get hung up on the negative. Glass half full, glass half empty, glass is broken and water is everywhere.

M: You can work full time, not get benefits, have multiple degrees, and live below the poverty line. I love how social media can connect us, and I really love seeing photos of everyday life stuff from my friends and family I otherwise wouldn’t get to see, but it does make you compare yourself to people a lot of the time, unintentionally. I think people feel pressure to always put their best face forward, and when you never see people having a bad day, it can make you feel even more isolated if you’re having one. But everyone has bad days, everyone struggles with something. Those should be as acceptable to talk about as successes.



I’ve been listening to your latest record “Versus” non-stop, it feels more aggressive in its musical attack and lyrical content. How did the recording and writing of these songs come together?


J: The recording was like a dream. We recorded it at Suburban Home with MJ and it was such a pleasure to work with him. Honestly. I really can’t say enough great things about the experience. We recorded it in about 4 days after coming off a two week tour of the UK. It took a lot longer, obviously, to write the record. I think we started writing around the summer of 2014? I remember there were periods where it seemed like nothing was coming together and then we’d have days where something great would pop up out of nowhere. “Realizing Your Actuality” spontaneously came together during practice and the whole thing was written in about 30 minutes. But then things like “Sober Sister” took about 6 months to really get to where it is now. “Another Song About TV” is another one where it was written but it really changed after we started playing it live. I consider that an extension of writing. The songs don’t really reach their potential until we’ve played them in front of people.

M: This one was a bit weird because we had a deadline on when it had to be finished, and we only had a maximum of five days in the studio. We recorded it in Leeds and we going to the UK to play a festival, so the dates were set in stone for a long time. It was a big change from recording in whatever house one of us lived in where we could be loud. MJ was amazing and the nicest person to work with and spend time with and knew exactly what to do to make things sound the best way possible. He is so talented. While we were in Leeds and afterwards we couldn’t stop talking about how wonderfully dreamy the recording process was.


Is the slacker lifestyle an influence on your music and personal lives?

M: I don't really identify with being a slacker, except maybe sometimes it's hard to devote 100% of my attention and focus to what I'm working on in the moment, even if it's music, or leisure time or something for fun. We both work multiple jobs and struggle to make ends meet. Usually at any given moment one or both of us is over-caffeinated and trying to do a million things at once.

J: I don’t consider myself a slacker but lately I’ve enjoyed being labeled ‘Slack Rock’ so go figure. We’re constantly working, whether be that on the band or at either of our multiple jobs. I personally don’t see anything slacker-ish about the band or our music.


What are the pros and cons of self-destruction in your opinion?

M: I guess the biggest pro of self-destruction could be an opportunity of re-birth.

What types of personalities bore you?


J: Opportunists, cynics, and Carolina Panthers fans.

The band writes some extremely catchy hooks that are super addictive, what influences your songwriting and is it usually a fast or slow process?

J: Really it’s influenced by everything - books, movies, television, other music, conversations, mishearing lyrics, etc. You kinda just take everything in and never know what it’s going to be that influences you. You just have to keep your eyes peeled. It really depends on the song with how fast it takes to write. “Cobwebs”, “Hard Year” and “Potomac” were all written in the same afternoon. However, “Fear and Loathing” took a while to write and rewrite. I spend a lot of time on the lyrics and pride myself on those. Still, the songs don’t really take life until we play them together. With the music, we take an economic, no-frills approach. We won’t repeat a part just for the sake of repeating it or making a song longer. I think self-editing is very important.

Do you get pissed off when people say things like “music is dead’ and “new music sucks”?

M: In Athens I don't really hear that a lot, but I think people that say those things aren't really listening to what's around them. Now you can internet search any combination of genres or words and find multiple bands and artists that you've never heard of, that are making music now, or maybe made one album a few months ago and stopped, or maybe just put a song on Bandcamp every once in awhile...there are so many people doing so many things. You can walk down the street here or in any city with a music scene and see any kind of band any night of the week. Maybe it's not all to your liking but every imaginable and unimaginable genre has never been more accessible for listeners or artists.

J: Not really. I think when people say things like that it’s just incredibly narrow-minded and it’s actually easier to just write those people off. It’s a huge, wide-sweeping, misinformed generalization and, ya know, who has the time to put up with that? Every generation has had people who are like “what is this shit? I’m telling you, music hasn’t been good since…(insert: George Gershwin, Elvis, The Beatles, The Supremes, The Smiths, Public Enemy, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Spice Girls, Nicki Minaj, etc).” I don’t really pay it any attention. I work at a local music venue and at one show, a very drunk gentleman came up to me and was like,“This sucks!” All I could say was, “Why’d you pay to get in?”

“Fear and Loathing in the The Classic City” has some of the greatest lyrics I’ve heard in a long time. What’s the story behind this awesome song?

J: First off, thank you! That’s really nice of you to say. It started off with the “I’ve got no time for Eureka California” line which was all it was for a long time and that was just me trying to mimic Brand New. After a few weeks, a John Cale reference, a lot of coffee and some chord changes, I had the final version you hear on the record. I would work on it almost every night until I had all the words/chords exactly as I wanted them.

You have a ton of live gigs coming up in many different cities. What do you like about touring and what are the biggest problems you face when touring?

M: I love touring. I love playing a show every night, which you can't really do in one place, so you have to tour to do that. Seeing new places and meeting new people is wonderful, and returning to the places that are good to you is wonderful too. I love seeing new bands every night and not knowing what to expect. It's interesting to see which places start to feel like a second home after awhile.

J: I have a lot of fun touring. Getting to meet new people, travelling to different places every day, trying new food, going to museums, seeing the world. I can’t imagine being in a band and not touring.

M: Booking is hard and as a two-piece, being around one other person 24/7 can be challenging, no matter how well you get along. If it wasn’t worth it we wouldn’t keep doing it.


Any plans to hit Vegas (where I live) or the West Coast in the future.


M: We have only been out to the west coast twice and are trying to plan our next time. If you know anyone that puts shows on in Vegas we would love to play there.

What do you think about the retro 90s movement and did the music of that decade have an influence on you?

J: I grew up in Raleigh and got really into bands like Superchunk and Guided By Voices in my teens. Still that was in the early 2000s, but you get the idea. I was 12 in 1999 and wasn’t really into music at that point -- or was just starting to get into it and then it was mostly Black Sabbath and Metallica. I’m definitely enjoying it though and I’m being exposed to artists that I definitely missed out on the first time around.

M: I'm really into it. I grew up in the 90s but I was a little too young to participate in a lot of aspects of the culture at the time -- plus I lived in a very rural area with kind of strict parents. I wasn't allowed to watch PG-13 movies or listen to the same music everyone at school did and I wore a lot of hand-me-downs. But I was really into The X-Files. It is fun to have an opportunity to participate in certain things that I wasn’t able to the first time. We had a Superchunk cover band for a hot minute and played in a 90s cover band with a couple of our friends called the Clinton Years. Post-90s I’ve really enjoyed listening to The Breeders, Superchunk, The Amps, Throwing Muses, Guided By Voices, and everything I had only heard of or missed or didn’t get enough into before.


Last question: What are your top three favorite albums of all time and why?

J: 1. The Who - Quadrophenia
It was 2001. I was 13 years old at a Turtle’s music. My dad held up this record and a Frank Zappa album. He said I could pick one. The record I chose was Quadrophenia and it started my absolute obsession with The Who. I remember, being bored in class, writing out the words to “Sea And Sand” all over my notebooks. I would blast “The Real Me” from the passenger seat. I remember riding the buses in college, with nowhere to go, and just listening to “I’ve Had Enough” on repeat. This was probably the first record I ever owned that had me completely captivated. In fact, Pete Townshend is one of the biggest reasons that I even play guitar. I’m 28 now and still fucking love this album.

2. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor
I slept on this record for a long time. It’s funny thinking about it now because when this finally clicked, I fell for this album hard. Initially I was put off by the name of the band. Then I remember finally listening to “A More Perfect Union” thinking it was good and then for whatever reason, I didn’t listen to the rest of the record. I would just listen to that song on repeat and then move on to something else. Finally I sat down, listened to it in it’s entirety and was blown away. The writing is top notch and I identified with this record on so many levels. Then Mike (at HHBTM records) got me The Monitor on vinyl and I fell in love all over again. I know for a fact that I drove Marie insane constantly playing this record on the road. In fact, “The Battle of Hampton Roads” was my go to anthem for the drive home after tour. I consider this one of the most uniquely ‘American’ records ever made along with Camper Van Beethoven’s Key Lime Pie.

3. The Damned - Machine Gun Etiquette
In my humble opinion this is the best ‘punk’ record of all time. What’s not to love?

M: I never have a running list of my favorite anythings at any given time so here are three that come to mind:

Sleater-Kinney - Dig Me Out
This was the first Sleater-Kinney record I ever heard and I felt kind of uncomfortable hearing it. But I couldn’t ever stop listening to it, and now it’s one of the most comforting things for me to hear, and that circle of how I feel about this record is reflective of how I felt and feel about a lot of other things...it was ideal timing for it to come into my life. There isn’t a time I don’t want to listen to this record. I’ve blasted it in the car, I’ve yelled the words, I’ve learned the drum parts, I’ve cried to it, I’ve shared it with anyone I could get to listen, I think it’s perfect.

Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits
I feel like this is a weird thing to have here but for a long time when I bought my van I only had two cassette tapes for it -- this and Purple Rain (which I also love), which I found together at a thrift store that only had one tiny box of cassettes. So I’ve listened to it over and over and over again. It’s currently been on repeat in the van for over a month. It contains every feeling. I keep coming back to it. It’s a great album to listen to while driving around America.

Cowtown - Dudes Versus Bad Dudes
The first time I heard this record I was absolutely blown away. I couldn’t stop talking about how amazing it was while listening to it. I took it home and listened to it on repeat, and listened to it at work on repeat, and in the car, and while walking around town, for months and months. When I put it on it’s hard to take it off. I think all the songs on it are outstanding. And really good artwork. It’s so catchy and the drums are ridiculous. We kind of tried to cover one of the songs once and it was, um, a fun challenge for me.

EUREKA CALIFORNIA FACEBOOK
HHBTM RECORDS


--Kevin McGovern--
FEAR/LOATHING





















Tuesday, March 8, 2016

NEW PLANET TRAMPOLINE - DARK RIDES AND GRIM VISIONS


It was all just a dream. It was only a movie. No one was watching you that closely. The psychedelic burn that comes with the fever of living never seems to reveal the unexpected twists that land us in the future we never saw coming. 2008 was a bizarre year for me, filled with animalistic inebriation and pharmaceutical elation, feeling completely secure while losing myself in the sparkling purgatory of Southern California. That time eventually passed and the reliable decadence of Las Vegas became my new artificial high a year ago. In 2008, the birth of a new cosmic psychotropic symphony was taking place in Cleveland, Ohio. Almost a decade later, it is finally complete and its DNA mysteriously altered by the strange times that have passed.

Dark Rides and Grim Visions is a fantastic voyage through hedonistic hallucinations, euphoric black holes, and the unpredictable shades of gray that live within the human condition. New Planet Trampoline wants to expand your mind, disintegrate your perception, and infect you with capricious lysergic rock heavily drenched in psychedelic double vision. The unhinged soul of Syd Barret seethes through this vinyl maze of calming acid rock madness. Vibrating Manzarek organ lines and reverb-singed vocals spin like diabolical clockwork feeding off the ruins of Pink Floyd’s The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Second Hand’s Reality. Guitars spin in and out of orbit while the hyper-focused rhythm section adds a spark to the themed compositions with creative tempo changes and gritty garage rock dexterity. The band exists in many dimensions on this double album, floating through psychedelic pop, avant-garde garage, and primal progressive rock. The artwork of the gatefold packaging on this double LP is just as intriguing as its contents… tune in and drop out.




Stow House Records

New Planet Trampoline

--Kevin McGovern--
FEAR/LOATHING

Thursday, February 25, 2016

WITCHING WAVES and GREAT LAKES

The lingering stale smoke of haunted hotel rooms and doomed romance share a beautifully tragic quality, the same backwards on/off switch that resides in serrated sunrises and elusive sunsets. Heavy emotions and hollow memories swaying in an obscene motion while creating more questions than answers. Who else has stayed here? Why do I feel chained to something that I despise? Why do I keep returning to this place? Disheveled reflections and an aggressive unease saturate the latest releases by Witching Waves and Great Lakes. Mental music, expanding and contracting, painting complex electric portraits that disintegrate when touched.
Witching WavesCrystal Cafe (HHBTM Records)

Witching Waves bash the bleak mid-decade slump with raging pristine minimalism and slithery post-punk tunefulness on their latest creation Crystal Cafe. This album grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. The pounding tribal punk beats, chunky bass lines, and scratched fuzz guitar lay the foundation for the insanely catchy noise pop vocals of drummer Emma Wigham and guitarist Mark Jasper. Aggressive art punk and experimental garage noise collide, creating a new animal born of anger, despair, and frustration. The grungy symphonic grind of Pink Flag era Wire blends into the white-hot intensity of early no-wave and Vaselines grandeur on this 11 track full length of manic rock meditation.

Heavy with hooks and rawboned single noted phrasing, tracks such as “Twisted”, “Seeing Double”, and “Make It Up” deliver pleasantly eardrum-piercing candy. The intense and deliberate detachment in “Pitiless” and “Flowers” offers a somber detour into the band’s more introspective moods. The red-hot single off this collection is the irresistible and unnerving “The Threat” with its new-wave inspired melody and sophisticated dirty pop production. This is one of my favorite albums of the year so far and definitely a worthy addition to your vinyl or digital library. If the end of the world sounds this good, I hope that it comes tomorrow.


WITCHING WAVES – THE THREAT

Witching Waves Facebook

Great LakesWild Vision (Loose Trucks)

Ben Crum, with his latest incarnation of the long running Great Lakes, mischievously remodels Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky with the subtle abandon of Whiskeytown. The singer-songwriter sheds the psych-folk of earlier releases in favor of a darker roots rock approach sprinkled generously with whispered indie intensity. An uplifting melancholia guides the exposed mid-tempos and edgy alt-country ballads. “Swim to the River” and “Kin to the Mountain” demonstrate a firm grasp of mid-70s Neil Young and Rolling Stones country tinged laments. “Bird Flying” and “Blood on My Tooth” are notable standout tracks, extended harmonies fueled by decadent chord changes and brooding percussion.

“Wild Again” perfectly captures the essence of this record with its hallucinogenic slow burn and sweet but bitter psychedelic country choruses. Vibrant but low-key female harmonies accentuate Crum’s unique understated vocal delivery throughout this collection of song, adding to the strength of the refrains and nuanced transitions. Wild Vision is a warm reinvention of Crum’s subliminal artistic vision, every song a crucial component in its soothing shadowy stroll.

Great Lakes Facebook

--Kevin McGovern--
FEAR/LOATHING








Friday, February 19, 2016

SUSAN SURFTONE - 2016 SINGLES

I love the feeling of driving through dimly lit desert roads late in the night. A hallucinogenic purity fills the air, as it pulses through the mind creating attractive patterns of confusion and secrecy. The endless road going on and on, like the waves crashing where I used to live. A steady stream of jangled rhythm that rewrites itself whenever the mood strikes and the timing is right. As always, my mobile soundtrack is essential. I got lost along the way. I didn’t mind and I didn’t forget the cool new sounds that were coming out of my car stereo speakers.

The swift beat of loose spontaneity cracks the frozen ground of preconception on the two latest singles by legendary surf guitar maestro Susan Surftone. As a leader in the third wave surf revival, beginning in 1995, she continues to boldly venture into areas not commonly visited by surf guitar purists. With a love of 60s garage rock and 70s NYC punk, it’s obvious why Surftone has a renegade attitude when it comes to making instrumentals that rock and songs that madly swing.

Brimming with a mysterious musical sexuality and grooving in a hot cold trance, “Little Bit Lied To” is an exceptional single. Combining the suave grit of Mink DeVille and the earnestness of Broken English era Marianne Faithful, this surf-wave pop bomb keeps the melody flowing with a rocking staccato backbeat. Susan’s vocal performance on this number is instantly memorable with its sweetly detached and punky delivery.


“ShadowLand” kicks out the jams with an unapologetic Thunders style six-string aggression that rides a rockabilly wave of bouncy percussive bashing. Spastic and fun, this titillating track flies by way too fast. A nice and volatile slice of surf-garage finesse combined with punk purist simplicity. Both of these singles complement each other by accentuating the different dimensions that always make any Susan Surftone release a required listening experience. These singles are now available on her official site. Support independent music and check out her unforgettable live show when she comes through your town.

SUSAN SURFTONE OFFICIAL SITE



--Kevin McGovern--
FEAR/LOATHING

Thursday, February 18, 2016

RADIOHEARTS - TELL YOU

With heroin overdose deaths beginning to reach levels of the AIDS epidemic at its height, I can only come to one conclusion, people are seriously bored in the USA. I don’t blame them. I totally understand that there is nothing fun about paying bills and planning your own cost-effective funeral. Where have all the good times gone? Brilliant minds ignored while the nauseating cycle of political sloganeering takes center stage. Winners and losers, black and white, and an ornery public obsessed with emphatic expression about nothing.

During times like this, the brightest people I know use this opportunity to dive into their passions, their art, their music, and their dreams. Uncertain times are a fertile ground for the creative mind and its temperamental disposition. I’ve had a severe craving for some raw garage power pop and the Radiohearts are the best dealer in town. Back with a new EP after just releasing the scorching Lot to Learn EP a few months ago, this masterpiece of garage pop art insidiously crashes the backyard party of underground music, burning bright and burning fast.

“Tell You” kicks off the festivities with its revved up Barracudas meets Modernettes uppercut. Gnarly single noted riffs and crunchy string amplification crackle and spin. The production packs a severe solidity lacking in most modern garage creations. “So Low” follows next with its Top of The Pops hit single sounds, haunting the earbuds with the ghost of Buddy Holly and the hyper angst of the Nerves.

The rhythm section of Jason Cordero and Mike Yager locks in tight with a thunderous boom and snap that gives this record an addictive underlying rumble. “My Heart Has an Obituary” masterfully highlights how the bass and drums play a huge role in the controlled recklessness of the band’s hook-filled compositions. “Who Are You?” wraps up this quick fever of classy madness with the surefire guitar interplay of Ed Stuart and Tony Ferralez. The glue holding the heart of the Radiohearts together is the unique croon and snarl of vocalist Ed Stuart. An ambitious and appealing urgency shines in the vocals throughout these tunes. This is the band’s second release on the infamous No Front Teeth Records. These Long Beach boys are moving fast and with their current momentum, I can’t wait to see what’s coming next. Vinyl is limited to 300 copies, sleek colors and two different covers, so move fast.


--Kevin McGovern--
FEAR/LOATHING

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

RETRO INTERVIEW: SCOTT "DELUXE" DRAKE

I was first introduced to the Humpers courtesy of a feature in Flipside magazine in the early 1990s. What caught my interest was the comparison to the Dead Boys and the action packed photos of a drunken live set that seemed unreal at the time. I was only getting my fix of garage rock n roll through reissues that were coming out, of bands that no longer existed. Other than that, it was an underground world filled with Fugazi, Screeching Weasel, and math rock hardcore bands taking up space in my favorite zines. This sound and intoxicating wildness was something I craved and when I got ahold of Journey to the Centre of your Wallet, I was officially hooked. Scott “Deluxe” Drake was the charismatic front man that held this loaded gun of a band together. The Humpers ruled the 1990s garage scene and became bigger with their signing to the Epitaph label. As the decade ended so did the band. Drake continued with the Vice Principals, an impressive solo career, and his latest and greatest, the Lovesores. The following is an interview I did back in the summer of 2014 for Fear and Loathing LB magazine. This is the official digital blog reissue of that interview, one of my most enjoyable too. -KM

What was your first experience with the LA music scene and what led you to start playing guitar and singing?

SDD: Well, like most people, I started out as a fan, buying records and going to gigs. I moved to Southern California in 1980 (from Central California), so it was a great time for music. Black Flag, X, Adolescents, Weirdos, Flesheaters, Social Distortion, etc etc etc. There were so many great bands. I sang with a band in Merced called RH Factor, but we only played live one time at an Air Force party. The first band I joined in SoCal was The Naughty Women in 1983, playing guitar,barely hahaha. I joined them because I liked that they were a cross between punk and glam (not Sunset Strip style glam, but 70’s trashy stuff like Dolls, Stooges, Runaways, etc).
What was the atmosphere like at the time… filled with debauchery, exciting, or dull?

Suicide Kings started around 1984, after Naughty Women broke up. Mike Crescione (guitar player from Naughty Women) and I started it. The scene itself wasn’t debauched, but The Suicide Kings certainly were! Around that time most groups were either playing Hardcore or trying to be Red Hot Chili Peppers, so there weren’t a lot of punky rock and roll bands around, especially not in OC. We were based in Stanton.

I was first introduced to the Humpers through your landmark album “Journey to the Centre of your Wallet”, how did the band form and what was your favorite early release?

The Humpers started when I broke up Suicide Kings. A couple of the guys were really strung-out and we just weren’t moving forward. I wanted to do something more high energy musically as well. At first, I intended The Humpers to be all new people, but Jeff Fieldhouse came over to my place and said PLEASE let me be in this new project,so I said okay, which is one of the best decisions I ever made! We met Jimi Silveroli through a mutual friend (I think it was Kerry Martinez?) and Jimi had no background in punk rock at all, he was into Rush and stuff like that, but I guess he had fun playing with us, because he ended up drumming with the Humpers for good.

Billy Burks we got through an ad in The Recycler (the only time that THAT ever worked) and on bass at first we had Jaybird Blake, who became another drug casualty…and then Billy’s friend Mitch Cartwright took Jaybird’s place. We picked-up guitarist Mark Lee alongside the road in Sioux City, Iowa. He was a stowaway hahaha. I didn’t really like many of our early recordings to be quite honest. I’m very self-critical, the songs were good, we just didn’t know what to do in the studio. I don’t think we really started to get into a recording groove until “Journey…” which was our 3rd LP.
I remember seeing the band early on, on tour in Philadelphia playing to a small crowd and at the end; you were playing to packed houses. What do you think led to the band’s rise to mass underground popularity?

I think we appealed to a wide range of people. We always wanted to be “inclusive”. Like, if you like loud guitars with memorable riffs, 3 chords, maybe some funny / smartass lyrics, you’ll like us. You don’t have to dress a certain way, or have any certain politics, all you need is a love of high-energy rock and roll, and a few drinks probably helps.

After being signed to Epitaph, the band went into the studio and re-recorded fan favorites from past albums, what made you decide to redo certain songs?

Well, the LPs we put out before only pressed 1 or 2 thousand copies, Epitaph was pressing 40,000. So the vast majority of people who bought that LP had never heard us before. We figured it would be wise to stack the thing with our best songs.
What are your thoughts on the last Humpers record you did with Epitaph? I’ve always loved “Ghetto in the Sky” and the different approach that song took.

The last LP had some good songs on it, but it was pretty unfocused. We were burned out from touring and the band was on the verge of splitting up, so there were starting to be musical differences and everyone was just sick of each other to some extent.

If I remember correctly, at a show in the mid-90s you told me that the band was going broke touring and owed the label money. Is it true that Epitaph wouldn’t let you record under “The Humpers” name after you left the label?

Well, they stopped supporting us MID-TOUR on our last tour. Our van broke down and we called them and asked for help and they said NOPE. So, their patience with us ran out and they cut-off the cash. But, no, they never said we couldn’t use the name or anything like that. We had a contract with them for 3 LPs and we gave them 3 LPs,then the band broke-up and that was that.
How do you feel about the Vice Principals recording you did after the Humpers? Was it cathartic or a change of pace in any way?

Well, the whole point of the Vice Principals was for my brother (Jeff Drake) and I to do a record together. I see it as an opportunity lost. To me, the expectation was that we’d write a bunch of new tunes together, but we ended-up only writing 2 or 3 together and the rest of the LP was covers and things that we wrote individually. So it was a bit frustrating, but it’s a pretty fun record anyway.
I know so many fans that love your solo record “Grand Mal” and treat it as a long lost Humpers record. How did your approach differ with this album than your other solo releases?

Well, the main difference is that I wrote EVERYTHING on “Grand Mal” (except 1 cover) all at the same time. It’s sort of a concept album, really. All about the dangers of love and crap like that hahaha. My other solo records have been more “patched-together”, old stuff and new stuff, with no over-riding theme.

Your newest band the Lovesores kicks ass! What made you decide to get back into the band racket again?

Cheers! The main thing that made me want to start a real band again was collaborating with Jeff Fieldhouse again. He’s by far my favorite person to write songs with, so when he expressed interest in starting something new I was very excited. He’s no longer with The Lovesores (he left due to some family medical issues) but I’m really proud of the stuff we wrote together. And I really like all the other guys in the band. It’s a way more relaxed experience than being in The Humpers and everybody pitches in, which is cool.
Do you prefer writing your own material or collaborating on songs with a band? I know that on such Humpers classics as “Fast, Fucked, and Furious”, you were the sole writer.

I like both. Sometimes I come up with a complete idea and it’s fun to flesh it out by myself, but other times I’ll have a lyrical idea and I’m stumped for music. So it helps then, to have some input.

Will the Humpers make another record? Do you enjoy doing the occasional reunion gig?

Ahhh... the $64,000 question. I really don’t know. It’s up to the other guys. I’ve told them if they put some music together, I’ll write the words and, so far, nada. Meanwhile, I have a working band in The Lovesores, so that’s where my energy is going. I have no qualms about recording with The Humpers, but there’s more expectation attached to it. I don’t want to put something out just to put something out. It’s got to be good. And, yeah, I always enjoy playing with those guys, they’re my brothers, even when we’re pissed off at each other!

What made you decide to leave California?

It was just time. My wife, Jeannie, and I wanted a change. Sometimes you have to shake things up a bit to keep it fresh. So, not one thing in particular, maybe we were just bored!

Any words of wisdom after serving your time in the rock n roll machine?

Hmmmm, words of wisdom. Well, if you go to the grocery store to grab a few items, and you need milk, get all the other stuff first and get the milk last. Because that gallon of milk is pretty heavy to carry around while you’re shopping...That’s all I’ve got. Cheers!


THE HUMPERS - MUTATE WITH ME

THE HUMPERS - WAKE UP AND LOSE


--Kevin McGovern--
FEAR/LOATHING