Monday, October 13, 2014

THE MUFFS: INTERVIEW WITH KIM

Kim, Ronnie, and Roy have been blurring the lines between punk, garage, and pop since the band’s first inception in 1991. By now, you have heard of their latest masterpiece “Whoop Dee Doo”, the first record release in about 10 years for this legendary band. With a loyal following and a brand new generation of kids getting hip to their catchy and tempestuous sounds, the Muffs are better than ever. This past summer, Muff’s leader Kim Shattuck, hung out with me and answered everything I ever wanted to know about all things Muffs…

(FNL) Were the Muffs ever officially broken up?

(Kim) No, we were never broken up. Actually, in 2000 when after we did a bunch of stuff, we went on the Warped tour but we had temporarily quit because Roy needed to make real money and have a real job. He was tired of it being it really hit or miss. So I did some online thing and said “People, Roy quit, tell him how much he means to you”. I got a gazillion emails and forwarded them all to him. He called me up crying and eventually came back to the band, so now he has both job and band. After that, we did the 2004 record and toured that for maybe 2 months. In 2005 we had finished the support for that album. In 2005-2006, we were just playing random shows and were doing a few new songs, felt off, and were thinking, what’s the point? We were really depressed about it, so we took a really long break where I went back to school for photography.

When did you start playing guitar and form your first band?

When I was in college, I had never played guitar ever. I played piano and a little bit of violin very badly. I grew up in a musical family and when I got to 18, I fell in love with the guitar, but it didn’t fall in love with me. I sucked, I was terrible. I took one lesson and learned two chords, open chords. After that, I just picked people’s brains and I figured it out for myself. When I was 19, me and a couple of people from college tried to start a band but we never played out. We played in the garage; we were literally a garage band.

We could never finish songs; we would start a song but could never get it done. We wrote songs but they were terrible, we didn’t know how to end a song. I am notoriously bad at ending songs. I like it to end on a major chord but if you do it too much it sounds the same. Like the Go-Go’s at the end of “Our Lips are Sealed”. I like that kind of ending... In our first lineup of the Muffs, our drummer Chris Crass, always wanted to end every song with some drum thing. I hate doing the “hard ending”, it’s so pretentious.

Back in 89-90 I was still in the Pandoras and starting to get better at writing songs. My first songs I didn’t think were good. With the Muffs, “New Love” was our first single and might’ve been our first song actually. Everyone said it sounded just like the Sex Pistols… I was actually listening to them the other day at the gym and thought “Anarchy in the U.K” is amazing! This is a really good one to walk to!


When I had my first place, tracks like “Funny Face” and “Lucky Guy” were permanent fixtures on my stereo. What is the story behind those classic songs?

Funny Face is so hard for me to sing that we’ve never done it live. It’s so high up. We try to do it every once in a while at practice and the guys say “you’re gonna wreck your voice”. I sound like I’m trying to take a shit when I do it (laughs).

What about "Lucky Guy"? I always loved the chord progression and lyrics, who is it about?

That song is about Ronnie because we went ou together for a little while and he is absolutely frustrating to go out with. He’s the most frustrating guy to date ever. We’re awesome friends but to go out with him is just no way, no way. At the time it was very tempestuous, and he was pissing me off constantly, I guess I was pissing him off too. I was writing songs a lot to just get things off my chest and so of course, they all started coming out about Ronnie. That whole first album, that song “Saying Goodbye” is all about Ronnie. I presented it to the band as “Saying Goodbye to Phil” and that it was a fictional account about Phil Spector.

Lucky Guy is basically about the fact that even though Ronnie never tries, has no ambition, he falls into good situations. He just falls into it, like random and I’m jealous, honestly. Like he doesn’t have to lift a finger to do anything. Anyways, this is what I thought at the time, this is what the song is about.

There’s this guy who’s totally useless but gets into great situations and does well with it. Lucky…he’s lucky… It’s a little sarcastic because I’m like fuck that, you’re lucky, and I have all of this hard work on my end. There are a lot of nasty, nasty lyrics on that first album when you think about it (laughs).

What’s your approach to writing in general?

I narrow a lot of feelings through writing songs so that’s like my therapy. When I write a song, I don’t think of what it’s going to be about. It’s automatic writing almost and then later after I’m done with the song and it sits for a while, I go through whatever emotions. I realize that the song is about what I was just going through and I had no idea I was writing about it. Usually there’s one verse that’s a little more me thinking about it. So it’s always the dumb verse that I hate, this awkward verse. My subconscious writes better songs than I do. Blonder and Blonder is a lot more about the things I was going through with Melanie. We split, we also had a tempestuous breakup. We broke up as friends but we’re buddies again. So a lot of that record is about that time.

Looking back, when the band gained immediate attention with the first 2 records, what are your thoughts on the 90s?

The 90s were cool. I have really good memories of the 90s but I was really immature about a lot of stuff. Now that I’m older I look back and I’m like whoa, what was I doing? I was like a pirate; I was like an animal almost. Just my reactions to things were so big and grandiose. I got stuff done. I don’t think I dealt well with authority. Now I’m just fine with everything. I’m easy going. I still get stuff done but now I can be relaxed.

Do you prefer that time period to the times we’re in now?

No, I wouldn’t say it prefer it. I see it as being a really cool time but there are other cool times too. I’m really excited about right now. This is a more exciting time than back then, we used to always be at the mercy of someone else to put out records. We couldn’t do a lot ourselves and now we do everything ourselves. I used think that I knew everything and know I admit that I don’t. I’m more relaxed but there’s still a lot to do.

What current trends bother you?

Every trend does. Like the terrible melodies everyone has that all sound the same. Like bad hip-hop and robot voiced music. What the hell is that about? It’s so terrible to listen to. I don’t even think it’s real.

Like the auto-tune effect?

It’s not even auto-tune’s fault, it’s the people that control auto-tune. I won’t use auto-tune, when I do vocals I do a ton of takes. I go through the mind numbing task of picking through them. I’m like the Marilyn Monroe of doing a million takes. Roy is the Frank Sinatra of takes. He only wants to do it twice. Recording with Roy is awesome because he is amazing and improvises.

So, what went down with the Pixies and what is the deal with their “mystique”?

They do have mystique, artificial mystique maybe but whatever. How it started? Randomly they asked me to play a couple of songs with them at a benefit because Kim Deal couldn’t do it. So they were getting together a bunch of bass players to play with them at this benefit. This was back in 2009. I lost track with them and then, seriously, out of the clear blue sky, Charles “Black Francis” got a hold of me through social media. Twitter messaged me and Facebook messaged me. He asked if I wanted to hear some music and I said yeah, as long as you’ve written it because I didn’t want to hear some random person that he thought he was cool. And then after a while he finally blurted out “Would you ever be interested in being the bass player for the Pixies?”. I was shocked because up until then all he wanted me to do was listen to some music.

I thought someone must be playing a joke on me because I had met Kim Deal briefly and we talked a bunch and when she found out I was in the Muffs she stopped talking to me. This happened right before I first heard from Charles so I thought is Kim Deal playing a prank on me?
Because if she is, she should be applauded. But then Charles asked if he could call me and he did and I asked, what is the deal with the Pixies?
Kim Deal had left during their recording session in Wales. I had to audition in LA and learned all of the songs but the other guys didn’t like me that much which is fine with me, fuck them (laughs).
After I had played with them, the final words from their manager was that I get my passport renewed for the next tour. I just wish they would've told me I was getting fired before I left. I wouldn’t have wrecked their shows and they have amazing fans. Those guys… they are who they are.

Did you want to stay with the Muffs sound on the new record or were you considering something different musically?

No. Stylistically it’s still very similar. I only like what I like. I’m not ambitious in one of those creepy ways where I think I should change my music every time. I don’t like to trend follow. I live under a rock when it comes to trends.
I pretty much think that everyone has terrible taste but me. I know there are a few with good taste and I have to search them out. It’s almost ill to think like that but at the same time I look at people’s taste and I’m like- I don’t get it, I don’t get it, I don’t get it.

I think the same, and always think that there must be something wrong with me.

No…no, it’s the other way around (laughs)! It’s them. Everyone has their own tastes and that’s the way it is. Some people are fed and they just like what they’re fed. I dislike what I’m fed usually. So I’m constantly trying to find what truly really moves me, and not a lot does. But some things do and when they do, my head just explodes, I like it that much more. It’s rare, it’s a rare gem.
-Kevin McGovern
FEAR AND LOATHING LB OFFICIAL SITE
THE MUFFS FACEBOOK







































Tuesday, October 7, 2014

SCATTERBOX: RITUAL


In my experience and travels, smaller and relatively unknown cities produce the best punk hardcore thrash bands. When you’re not in an overpopulated city singing about scenes and paying excessive amounts for practice pads, you’re left to really write about your surroundings. Whether you’re pissed off, bored, or wasted, it gets a lot more real. Angst without a pose and screaming volumes minus “noise-permits” sharply come to life in all of their brutal candidness. Such is this case with Scatterbox’s brand new full length “Ritual”.

This thing rips from beginning to end, no apologies and no breaks on the tempo speed. This radioactive thrash blast comes courtesy of the Washington/Idaho border and sounds like a mutated update of Gang Green, Toxic Reasons, and classic Suicidal. A pounding and frenetic rhythm section highlights the Crash-esque vocals of singer Tom White. The punchy production shows off the sinister chops of drummer Scott Rozell and bassist Ryan White. From the opening car bomb of “Mining for Mold” and the blood soaked roar of “Fear, Profit, and Puppetry”, you know that you are never coming off this trip alive.

The band has some moodier moments with the burning “Something’s Gotta Give” and deathly delivers with the hard-hitting anthems “Born To Rule The World” and “Dance”. Hyperactive skate thrash with just enough melody to provide the perfect chaser for these high-octane double shots. The guitar interplay of Justin Smith and Mark Cogburn lays on the riffs heavy and catchy, bringing to mind the six string wizardry of NOFX on their classic “Ribbed” album. The vitriol of small town America screams loud and clear on this uncompromising effort of safety-pinned sophistication.
-Kevin McGovern
SCATTERBOX
BLACKHOUSE RECORDS
FEAR LOATHING LB OFFICIAL

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

INTERVIEW WITH TUNABUNNY


I love your latest record Kingdom Technology. In my opinion, it’s a primal
garage scream of electronica, erotica, and neurotic impulse. What impact
did you seek with the compositions and accompanying album artwork?

Our friends Chris Nelms and Jason Matherly did the artwork, and aside from
thinking they’re wildly talented we’re big fans of each other’s work so it
seemed natural to ask them to do the cover. We don’t necessarily make
music to have an impact—if anything, we have an impact because we make
music. But if we could control the results of our intended impact, we’d
all have swimming pools shaped like palm trees.

You have referred to pop/rock as a “played-out corpse” with Jack White
being the best example of a derivative formula based musician. Do you
feel that the inclusion of ear pleasing melody and harmonizing throughout
your own compositions resembles pop/rock in anyway?

We think our compositions resemble pop/rock in every way. But you know,
all our pop friends think we’re hopeless weirdos, and all our avant-garde
friends think we’re rock stars. Which is probably the best place to be.

You have addressed modern music as “over privileged boys and girls
looking to manufacture an identity…” I personally think there are many
unaddressed personality disorders clogging the creative air of unique
artists and musicians. Why do music listeners pay so much attention and
money to generic retreads of the past?

Because they’re generic retreads of the present? More likely they’re just
responding to a conservative music press/music industry. With so much
music being made these days, it requires a lot of determination to sift
through it on your own, and as a result people are dependent on
websites/critics/etc. to recommend stuff to them. If that stuff is
backwards-looking and easily digestible, it’s more the fault of the music
press/industry than the music listener.

What is the typical reaction to Tunabunny that you encounter the most?

Confusion and/or adulation. Also, an increase in the use of thesauruses.

Do you think music in general should always be undefinable or
unpredictable? Does it benefit the band or the listener more?

We don’t think there’s that much of a split between band & listener. We
were (and are) music fans before we were musicians. And as listeners,
yeah, we tend to get excited by music that sounds different than what
we’re used to (recent examples of this would be Bastards of Fate, Blanche
Blanche Blanche, and Micachu) than something that sounds like, say, The
Stone Roses (though we all unabashedly love their 1st album). But should
it always be undefinable or unpredictable? Not if you want a bigger
swimming pool, apparently. But it’s good to keep in mind that owning a
swimming pool increases your risk of skin cancer.

How did dumpster diving through the kingdom’s technology (recording equipment) affect the way the songs evolved or devolved throughout the recording process?

During recording we’d hear the songs played back and marvel at how pro
they sounded (like The Go-Go’s or something), but a lot of critics have
written about the $3000 piece of equipment as if that means we recorded it with lower quality equipment, which may say a lot more about the class
background of your average music writer or expectations surrounding the
cost of making music/recording than it does about our album. Having said
all that, we enjoyed going back and trying to warp the resulting clean
recordings, more so than those that were recorded with a $25 microphone on
reel-to-reel (which is already kind of distorted/phased by its very
nature). So yeah, we had a lot of fun with our new toy. And as we’ve
already started working on the next record (a double album scheduled for
summer/fall 2015), we’re having even more fun with it.

In your individual experiences growing up, did Top 40 music have a
bigger impact than avant-garde or underground music?


Of course it did. Our parents didn’t play Stockhausen around the house.
Having said that, top 40 was/is great training for the ears to respond to
avant-garde music. This idea doesn’t originate with us, but the line
between Missy Elliott and Steve Reich—or Britney Spears and Pere Ubu—is a
thin one, and is easily traversed. I think our listening habits tend to
ping-pong back and forth between melody and dissonance and that’s
reflected in our music.

If you had to cover an entire album of either the Carpenters or ABBA,
which one would you pick and why?


Carpenter is the queen of suburban soul, the Nina Simone of the overclass,
but Abba would be more fun because they’ve got more better songs and they
know how to bring the hooks.

Do you think that the current American climate of low paying jobs,
unemployment, and overreliance on technology is a blessing or curse for
the modern artist?


Anytime people can’t afford to make a living that’s bad, and we would
trade any artistic benefits from the current gilded age we live in if it
meant the average US worker could get paid a living wage. But politics
aside, you would think that this newfound access to vast catalogs of
music, whole entire genres that would’ve set you back hundreds and
hundreds of dollars 15 years ago, would have resulted in music that was
super-eclectic, bravely transversing boundaries and blowing people's minds. In a commercial sense, that hasn’t been the case (this is as true
of the underground as much of the mainstream), and that’s probably because of the financial hemorrhaging the music business is going through.

A mood of barely concealed fear runs through the music industry, and when people
are afraid they tend to play it safe, and that’s probably most music you
hear is the sound of someone hedging their bets, and most music writing is
the sound of someone interlocking their fingers in prayer. Which is a damn
shame because there’s lots of cool, passionate interesting music out there
being made. You just have to dig a little bit harder to find it.
Guess that’s it. Thanks for the interesting questions, Kevin. Keep fighting the good fight.
-Kevin McGovern

FEAR LOATHING LB OFFICIAL SITE (more interviews and reviews)












Friday, September 26, 2014

INTERVIEW WITH FOLK LEGEND RUTHANN FRIEDMAN

Ruthann Friedman is best known for penning the 1960’s hit single “Windy” for the Association. She played an integral part in the folk and hippie movement of those turbulent times. She was crashing in David Crosby’s basement when she wrote the tune. Hanging out with the likes of Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, and Van Dyke Parks she was at ground zero of a musical explosion that would blur the lines between acoustic folk and psychedelic song structure. She released one lone album during the end of that decade, “Constant Companion”.

During the mid-2000s, much of her unreleased material from 1965-1971 began to receive reissue on various indie labels. She recently released her first new recording in 40 years “Chinatown”. “Chinatown” is essential listening. Her latest recording is a brooding and shadowy introspection that sophisticatedly blends intricate acoustic strumming with darker psychedelic melodies. She took some time and spoke about her past and recent return to the burgeoning folk revival.


What made you decide to record new music (Chinatown) after 40 years?

People wanted to hear it. I started playing out, writing new songs, and people like them. A friend of mine from San Jose, John Miller, heard the song “The End” and told me I needed to record it. I then went to San Jose and started recording. This process would become “Chinatown” which took a few years to do.

I started writing new songs about 7 years ago when I was called back. I received a call from Water Records and they told me that they were going to reissue the “Constant Companion” album from 1969. Shortly thereafter, I received a call to participate in a festival. I was playing only my old songs and they were not so relevant. Some of them are but not to me. I began writing songs that reflected how I feel now. The songs are much more complex and the lyrics more worried-over than they used to be. My songs used to be about how I wanted things to be and now, they are about how I really feel about things.

In the Long Beach area and across the globe there is a resurgence in the folk movement. How would you describe the essence of folk to someone just beginning to play in the folk scene?

It depends where you are. Folk music is the music of the people. It’s thematic and has some relevance to the culture that it’s in. A need to express just what the hell is going on… “Springhill Mining Disaster” on my new record is a good example I think. Folk is about community and one circle or group of people blending with another, like a Venn diagram. I came out of folk and now many things including folk, jazz, show tunes, literature, and country influence me.

Did you have any exposure to the Beat Generation in your teens?

My sister was ten years older than I was and she went to the University of Chicago. When she would come home on vacation, she would bring her Bohemian friends who brought banjos and guitars. This was pre-Beatnik and my first exposure to Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. Allen Ginsberg is brilliant. Reading “On the Road” in junior high was like… I don’t have to do this… I can get out of here! (laughs). It set me free in a way.

Do you feel that your idealism as the time conflicted with the radio success of “Windy”, which you had offered to the Association to record?

No. I was poor. I had no money. I was living because of the kindness of others. It happened and my reaction was to take off and form a rock n roll band.

Did artists like Janis Joplin or Jefferson Airplane influence you musically or chemically?

Chemically? (laughs), they had the best acid. I think we were all influenced by the same people and happened to be coming out at the same time when it all happened.


I just saw the 1971 cult classic movie Peace Killers, what do you think of the movie and how did you get involved with the soundtrack?

The worst movie ever (laughs)! I did the songs for the movie and my lawyer at the time got me involved in it. The Drag City label just released the songs on a white label 7” in fact. The movie is so bad it’s good.

What is the biggest misconception about the counter culture of the 1960s?

That we were any different from any other people… we did things differently but we were just people. There were different rules and we broke the rules. We took LSD and saw that societal rules were things that were imposed upon us by whatever society we were in. Different cultures have different sets of rules and why were ours right and theirs wrong? We smoked marijuana and realized that this isn’t the devil’s weed. This is one thing they’ve lied to us about, now what else have they been lying about?
I lived in Big Sur for a year and we had squatted a cabin. It was a very primitive situation. All the stuff I saw going on around me…it was still people cheating on wives and girlfriends just like suburbia. It was a suburban existence but with flowers, no underwear, and hairy legs. The ideas at that time are what were important. We changed the world but we didn’t change people. People will always have the same desires, needs, and wants. They did then and they do now, just like all throughout history. Only the rules change.
Kevin McGovern


FEAR AND LOATHING LB OFFICIAL

WORLD'S SHORTEST PODCAST

I have attempted to create the world’s shortest podcast. I like to keep it at three songs like a single and ramble away, with whatever is crossing my mind. I’m planning on doing more as I am extending the scope of the zine/blog with broader ideas. Thanks for tuning in and keep making lefts.
-Kevin



FEAR AND LOATHING LB OFFICAL SITE

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

HOBBES FANCLUB: UP AT LAGRANGE



The spaces in between have a duplicity, they can surge momentum or deliver dream crushing confusion. When people talk about doing something new, changing their lives, or even their wardrobe, a sickening doubt always hangs in the air. Is it worth risking everything you’ve ever known and distrusted to give into the lustful motion of endless nights of pleasure and complete intoxication of all senses? Music has a way of guiding waves into the unknown through haunting melody, self-reflecting rhythms, and the masochistic strumming of road weary chords.

I used to think nostalgia was deadly. It can sting if you don’t bring the ghost into the present to see what captured your intellect and sex drive in the first place. Sometimes looking into the looking glass reveals the disappointing over exaggerations of our imagination or an opportunity to resume unfinished business. Stay in the sludge of complacency or drift and drift into the night with an insatiable appetite for unsolicited purity. The kind of pure that purrs with bite marks and bruises to remind you of how not invisible you really are.

Within the collection known as “Up at Lagrange” by Hobbes Fanclub, the reverberations of these feelings are breathing in distorted waves. Twisting and turning with seductive reverb and lucid solos that scream with Velvet Underground balladry, the empty spaces pop and spark with sugar coated heaviness that relies on nuance and power equally. This sequencing of airy vocals, sweet scattered guitars, and a pulsing bottom section grinds the shoegaze genre with a flirtatious bite of early 80s post-punk. A silver-tongued cocktail brimming with enough emotional turmoil and indifference to keep you awake all night but never promises you the memory of what you’re about to experience.

A dreamlike tornado of “Pleased to Meet Me” Replacements twists into a decadent pose with Galaxie 500 and the Jesus and Mary Chain. Tracks such as “Into the Night” and “Outside Myself” highlight what this band is capable of while providing an album that’s in perfect balance with itself. Standout tracks include the hypnotic “Stay Gold” and the feverish “Up at Lagrange”. This is definitely a band I will keep an eye on and one that keeps it hot coolness with each repeated listen.
-Kevin McGovern

FEAR AND LOATHING LB OFFICAL SITE
HOBBES FANCLUB

Thursday, September 18, 2014

DEATH OF A TEENAGE DREAM

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. One that ran its course through my nervous system with brutal sensuality, precise dares of death, and impulsive urgency. Just weeks ago, I was going to have a mass distributed rock n roll magazine, a new band with raging songs, and bragging rights that I somehow overcame the insidious narcissism and superficiality that burn bright in the Los Angeles County sky.

Something was missing in my quest for refined seediness and uncensored relationships. I was chasing an illusion, the famous one that leads 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? Where did I go? Why am I still here? 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 sick and twisted marriage for five years or so. This so-called relationship was so excruciatingly nauseating that dry heaving felt like breathing to me. I was trying to align my visions of rock n roll suicide 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 North 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 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 am now in it. I hope this makes some kind of sense to someone out there.
On a side note, I think I have to change the name of the blog and zine...I really really should...catch you guys the next time around.

-Kevin McGovern
FEAR AND LOATHING LB OFFICIAL SITE (READ)