Thursday, April 10, 2014
Vocalist Joshua Evans screams, “Another white ego, another good gone bad, to overcompensate for everything you lack” in the blistering and twisted fray of “White Ego”. Equal parts Saccharine Trust and Lost Sounds, this band brandishes an updated cacophony of freeform punk that is ready to start a blood-spattered intellectual revolution. Contempt, hostility, and self-loathing fill the concise blasts of frantic vocalization, the sounds of solitude amplified by menacing bass and guitar interplay.
The album opens with the foreboding dissonance of “Cyclothymia I” and rips into frantic rock mode with “Human Error”. The high hat driven beats highlight the insane guitar action that infect and terrorize with a steady bass driven undertow. Side one of this pristine platter flies by in the blink of an eye with non-obvious hooks planted throughout the poisoned compositions. “What isn’t” and “She Bursts” have a cool Nation of Ulysses vibe running through them.
Side two opens with the fitting “Cyclothymia II” and demonstrates that this modern symphony is a virus in full bloom. Complete with its own orchestral movements firmly rooted in early SST releases, the rage goes into the red with “Virus Evolves”. This tune in particular shreds with a ferocity I haven’t heard from a band in quite some time. The rage gets moody and groove oriented with tracks “Dust” and “Frigid” providing icy post-apocalyptic anthems. The lights go out as your nervous system shuts down during the guitar feedback frenzy of the title track “D.Y.I”. As the dust clears, a beautifully sad piano gracefully leads you to the exit. –KPM
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FEAR AND LOATHING IN LONG BEACH - OFFICAL SITE
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Watching shows with high school as the backdrop makes me wish I‘d had the super cool weird girlfriend instead of the irrelevant relationships I had absolutely nothing in common with. My point is…. from all of this pent up frustration of state capital high school life, my rage was born and my energy ignited once I left that place. I still have a nightmare every now and then… I am there, in this dilapidated auditorium, and they will not let me graduate. I run to my locker to grab my car keys to leave and I can never remember what the fucking combination is. I panic, I am stuck, and I wake up feeling out of sorts. Maybe that’s a bizarre metaphor for my life but it sounds like Mr. Phreek experienced this as well in the transitional summer of 1996.
Mr. Phreek's Anokist Emporium was the creation of rock journalist and screenwriter Chuck Foster. This raw spit in the face is the Grindhouse version of punk. Sometimes we need that musical knockdown like we need that brutal and beautiful woman that teases for eternity. MPAE achieves just that with a 17 year old Mr. Foster playing every instrument on a 30 track album recorded with a classic Fostex XR-11 four-track. Nothing is sacred in this nihilistic brew of Nardcore, NYHC, and Killed by Death noise- extremism. The guitars are distorted beyond hell, the drums shriek like nails down a chalkboard, and the stripped to the bone vocals scream with perfect and pure teenage rage. The fancy trappings of traditional “punk” records are nowhere to be found.
The anger is addictive and the dark humor lets the acid rain fall steadily on your uncombed hair. This is pure deviant art of the highest caliber, spilling its guts all over you. Within the claustrophobic atmosphere is some excellent versing, chorusing, and a swinging syncopation of wild vocal attack. This is the way punk was meant to be. Shortly after recording this time bomb in his bedroom that summer, Foster would move across the country and never look back. The main catalyst of contempt is a strict Catholic prep school upbringing. How punk is that? Life can be cruel, hilarious, indifferent, and a total high. High school anger and boredom is a complex subject in itself, maybe screaming your heart out and taking the next train out of town is the best way out.
-KPM, Fear & Loathing LB
Friday, March 28, 2014
Modern rock, what is it? I have no clue as to what that definition implies in terms of sound. Moderate rock is not something I personally care for. When it comes to creating living and breathing music, restraint and moderation should never be included in the equation. Tunabunny diabolically crosses conventional boundaries with “Kingdom Technology” to fuse together an album like no other in the current musical wasteland that pollutes us. A concoction of 80s Paisley Underground, NYC No Wave, and electro damaged melody infiltrate these alluring and unstable compositions of hypnotic back alley fuzz-pop. A memorable experience akin to that mysterious someone who comes onto the scene and no one can figure out what secret agenda is lurking within their coy interactions.
“Airless Spaces” starts the album with a sugary nightmarish drone that haunts with an undignified grace while the static noise and intense understatement of rhythm pushes this movement along. Tracks such as “Good God Awful” and “Canaries In Mineshafts” provide a more linear post-punk process that remains spikey yet steady in its composition. The overall effect is one of electro diversity that sounds like Siouxsie and the Banshees hijacked the recording session for Iggy Pop’s “Zombie Birdhouse”. If it’s possible to combine Avant-Punk, symphonic spaciousness, and trance inducing electro beats, this band accomplishes that lofty musical mission on all levels. “Save It Up” and “Bag of Bones” crush and seduce with their relentless automated hallucination sequences. Brigette Herron and Mary Jane Hassell provide the lush and carnal atmosphere with Jesse Stinnard providing the percussion, electronica, and analog recording of the band’s finest hour.
If you dig ABBA Gold, 4AD releases, and the erratic output of The Fall, you’ll be all over this band. The vocals stand above and beyond with a certain sweet-sinister harmony that focuses outward by making itself another instrument for the band to deconstruct with. If Dancing Queen was playing in the background of your bad dreams last night, this album is calling you. A new approach that sounds massive captures recordings taking place in the band members’ living rooms using obscure audio devices and homemade sound manipulation. My pick for the “hit” off this album is definitely the Paisley Underground influenced “Coming For You”. The fourteen tracks contained on here follow a logical sequence that uses irrational daydreaming as a guide. Even better is that this album is available in its proper format of vinyl, so it plays as a real record should. “Kingdom Technology” flows from beginning to end with its own interludes and subplots of electro-damage, vocal beauty, and jagged guitar chording. I would definitely keep your eye on this band. This entity is onto something that the rest of us don’t know yet. Get a taste while it lasts...
FEAR AND LOATHING IN LONG BEACH
Monday, March 24, 2014
“On the guest list” is your latest CD with a ton of guest appearances celebrating 37 years (wow!) of non-stop punk rock n roll, how did the making of the CD happen and proceeding tour come together?
KNOX: Brian Perera, head of Cleopatra Records, thought that it would be a good idea to get lots of other people involved singing and playing on the record, make it a bit different. Also I’d stopped doing the band (to go solo) and I think Brian had worked out that doing an album like this might be a good way for the band to reach for new fans.
Pure Mania is still considered one the greatest punk LPs of all time, do you think it’s because the band was well versed in writing rock n roll structures before the punk explosion? When I listen to every Vibrators track up to the latest release, there’s a lot of attention given to riffs and hooks instead of a band that is just coasting because of its popularity. Quite an accomplishment!
KNOX: I think the song writing benefited because we were a bit older than most of the other bands. I was very influenced by Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, plus a lot of 60s music, as were the others, and I think that really helped. I love song writing so I pay a lot of attention to getting the songs right.
Eddie: Knox, Pat and John had been writing for a while, especially Knox so they knew how to write a good song. Popularity had little to do with it, as we were not popular when writing and rehearsing those songs. It was the songs that made us popular!
Where does the band currently call home and is the non-stop touring a way of life, as long as I can remember the Vibrators have been on tour non-stop (so it seems). Most bands do not have the energy to keep up this kind of momentum, where does the energy and motivation come from.
KNOX: The band is London based. I’ve actually had to give up as I’ve got a bit ill, but I’m still writing and demoing songs at home. I actually left the band in April 2011 to go solo but it didn’t happen as I sort of derailed myself and got ill from over-working. I’m still motivated to write and record, in fact I’m about to start work with Charlie Harper (UK Subs) making a new Urban Dogs album. Touring is a great way of life. My friend who has a record shop sometimes has Robert Plant come in, and he said he loves touring with his smaller band, doing smaller gigs than Zeppelin, and he loves travelling around in the back of the van/tour bus.
Eddie: Being a musician means making records and playing live. If you don’t want to do that then don’t be a musician!! When it stops being fun and we have no fans, I'll give up. Home for me is in the wonderful Brightlingsea,UK.
The lyrics of Pure Mania still stand the test of time because they address everyday subjects instead of sloganeering. The topics of an uncertain future, girls, and looking for an escape from the bores of daily life keep the music alive. When you were recording the first album, were you just keeping it solid with the set list you had… getting it put to tape.
Eddie: This is department of Knox, John, and Pat, they were good then and still as good today.
KNOX: We basically just recorded the songs we were playing live, and the album was produced by our then sound guy Robin Mayhew who had been working with David Bowie before us. I think the only totally new song we did in the studio was “You Broke My Heart”. So we knew all the songs from playing them live every night. This was very different to how we record now.
Out of all the Vibrators releases, which album is one you would like fans to hear, that doesn’t receive as much media recognition as the first three outings?
KNOX: I currently like the band’s new album “On The Guest List”, and my favourite song on that album at the moment is “My Stalker” which Eddie Spaghetti from The Supersuckers sings. He does a great job. I also think the album “Hunting For You” is pretty good too.
In the recording process, is there a special way the Vibrators have always approached the studio process? Some bands excel in the studio and others seem to get lost and lose direction. The Vibrators songs are always catchy and self-assured. Is the recording process a fast one for you guys?
KNOX: I usually have finished demo’s, with most of the instruments on them, which essentially the band copy as we never get to rehearse before going into the studio. I’ll have a load of songs demo’d up and the band choose which ones they want to do; plus the others in the band often have a song or two as well. The band puts the tracks down very fast, hopefully with a few changes as it’s good to get input from the band on the songs, as it is a band and not my solo project. You’re always running against the clock in the studio so there’s not much time for experimentation which is a shame, but you accept the process for what it is. I’m a bit of a perfectionist so it can be quite stressful to rush against the clock and not have the songs finished exactly as you’d like. But c’est la vie!
Eddie: This is always a struggle between doing it fast to get the energy and enthusiasm but taking enough time to get the detail in. Also studios cost money so that is a big factor in how much time you have. Basically we try to get drums ,bass , guitar down in one and overdub vocals guitars etc but the new single was done live, we recorded everything in one take only Knox overdub gtr. It's called Slow Death.
With the 37-year anniversary, are there any special vinyl re-releases that are in the works?
KNOX: I’m not completely up to date with all that’s happening with the band (they’re currently touring the USA) but we recently had a new compilation out: “Greatest Punk Hits” on MVD Audio.
Eddie: Not sure on this, but Pure Mania, V2, Alaska 127, Guest list, Slow Death and Baby Baby are out on Vinyl at the moment and Under the Radar has sold out on vinyl. Hope we get some more next year.
Has the digital age made it easier to connect with current fans or more difficult to reach new ones?
KNOX: I’m sure it’s easier, but there’s so much more stuff for people to look at and hear so I’m not sure if that’s so good. I mean there’s only so much time in the day and there are millions and millions of songs out there..... and The Vibrators are just another little fish in the big punk ocean as it were....
Eddie: I know very little about this digital stuff so it's no good asking me! But my children tell me that it works very well. We get them all from 17 to70 at our gigs so the young kids are catching on for sure. They like a bit of rebellious music and not that TV pop stuff served up for the masses.
What’s it like hearing every punk band over the years cover “Automatic Lover”, “Baby, Baby”, and “ I Need a Slave”? The chord structures are intense and always a crowd pleaser… Do you mind these being songs that people associate with you? Is there a concept?
KNOX: I’m not sure there is a concept in them, I just write them. I have quite a broad area of writing; in fact, I’ve got dozens of non-punk songs which we could never really do in The Vibrators. There is a romantic element in a lot of songs, the love songs, which I think comes from being around in the 60s and hearing all those sort of songs then. I think The Ramones also had quite a good grasp of, and were very influenced, by 60s melodies.
Eddie: I very rarely hear bands covering our stuff live 'cause they don’t do them when they play with us but there are lots of recorded stuff. Good on them. The more the merrier I say.
I’ve always loved Alaska-127 and the track “Amphetamine Blue”, where did the song come from and what was the recording and writing of that album in like in the year of 1984?
KNOX: That’s very Buddy Holly and Bobby Fuller influenced. I got the title idea from a song called “Cocaine James Dean” I think, but I never found out who the band was. When I first wrote it the song was just called “Turning Blue” and I thought it needed to sound more exciting. I remember some amphetamine pills were a blue colour so I put that in the title. Also around that time I was making an album with some of Hanoi Rocks (called The Fallen Angels) and we recorded that song as well. That project came about as I had all these songs and my manager at the time had the idea to put me together with Hanoi Rocks, probably to keep them out of trouble, to make an album, and around the same time, The Vibrators reformed and recorded the song as well.
Eddie: This was done at Pat's Alaska studios in about 10 days and I think Amphetamine had been done by Knox before but I figured out was a really good song and we could improve on it. Punish Me with Kisses features me whipping the floor with a leather belt as sound effect, you had to pause for the trains to go over doing the vocals as the studio was under the train lines in Waterloo arches. They left off the 2 songs about Jesus when it was released in the USA but we didn’t know till after!! I thought that was weird.
Do you still see and feel the same enthusiasm in 2014 as you did in 1976, or has it changed?
KNOX: I think I might have more enthusiasm now, or what I have is better directed, more concentrated on the songs, though I kind of miss having those insane ‘teenage’ ideas you have when you’re younger. Funnily enough, I think the newer songs I’m writing, (but yet to be recorded), are getting more political. It’s like when you see the state of the world and the terrible plight millions of people are in, you feel it’s only right to make a statement about it. When I was a kid and people were being blown up and displaced, it didn’t have any real meaning or interest to me. But as you get older you develop more empathy and those situations you now see as terrible, and you feel in a tiny way that you have to draw attention to them so something will be done about them.
Eddie: - I just get up every day and get on with what has to be done. It's still fun for me and we make good friends so we’ll carry on touring and recording for few years.
-Kevin McGovern, Fear & Loathing LB
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Hello to the new indifferent world and our current population of mental breakdown cases out on sick leave with a handful of Xanax. I always thought people should spend more time making music and hanging out in record stores instead of chasing “job opportunity”. Careers, strategic relationships, and retirement plans are fleeting in nature, creating the perfect distraction from actually having to live your life. By living, I don’t mean the drudgery of career building. I’m talking real life shit, things that inspire and compel you to take part in your most absurd dreams.
With that in mind, I recently had the awesome opportunity to interview Nate Mitchell from Cars Can Be Blue from Athens, Georgia. I reviewed their awesome new release a few weeks back and needed to see what the deal was with these garage-punk noisemakers. Some amazing insight and scathing observations are here for your reading enjoyment. This is an excellent overview of what’s taking place throughout the underground music community and American culture in general. - Kevin
Cars Can Be Blue Interview with Nate Mitchell
Your latest release is more musically aggressive than in the past, what got the band so worked up to crank out this new full length of garage punk hysteria?
Well, I think the musical aggression actually increased more between album #1 (“All the Stuff We Do”) and album #2 (“Doubly Unbeatable”). The first album was written & recorded when Becky and I were listening to stuff like Tullycraft & Dressy Bessy & Go Sailor, so it definitely had more of a classic indie-pop feel to it, but with plenty of dick jokes and Moldy Peaches/Dead Milkmen-type “funny” songs. The second album was less twee and generally faster and more punked up, but still catchy & poppy, even though it’s kind of a “break-up” type album. So, to me, the new album (“Trace the Tension”) is more a continuation of the last one, but with only one hilarious dick joke song (“I am a Slut”) to prove we haven’t totally sold out on the funny stuff.
The song I sing (“Should Be Begging”) on the new album was a 21-gun salute to the music of Mr. Billy Childish and is probably the most overtly “garage punk” song on the record, but Becky doesn’t really care for that scene. A lot of times we’re writing songs with two completely different sensibilities clashing and that tension is what drives the band forward.
We bicker and argue constantly like a goddamn old married couple.
Your lyrical topics range from serious, I would say interpersonal dilemmas, to the everyday absurdities of life. What compels you to write the lyrics and is there a “heavy” underlying meaning?
I think right from the start of CCBB, it was firmly established that our stock in trade was singing foul/bleak/depressing lyrics over the simplest chords and catchiest possible melody and that the words had to be “real talk”, not pretentious cryptic poetry.
I would say that there is a lot of bile-venting going on, which I think is in accordance with the punk tradition, being negative and spiteful, but also giving you a great, catchy, sing-along tune. Right now, pop-punk is kind of a pejorative term, but isn’t that what the Buzzcocks and Ramones were?
Anyway, to answer your question, yeah, I’d say there is definitely some “heavy” shit going on in the lyrics department….depression, alcoholism, waking up everyday next to someone you can’t stand and wishing they would just drop dead, etc. and it all comes from a very real place, but we sugar-coat it with catchy melodies for your listening pleasure.
How does the current economy affect the outlook of the band in regards to selling records and playing shows?
Well, we’ve basically stopped doing both of those things. Athens, GA is a wage-slave paradise where literally everyone you know is struggling financially because they work a minimum wage shit job in a bar or restaurant or whatever. Our song “Poor For Life” sums up the general attitude of our peer group here in town. It’s pretty defeatist. CCBB can’t tour because we can’t afford to take time off from our crappy jobs, so we have boxes of records at home that will probably never sell.
What’s the scene like in Athens, GA? Do you ever tire of the city always being mentioned with REM and the B-52s?
I’m aware that Athens spawned The B-52’s & REM and I think that’s cool, so it doesn’t bother me at all…you can’t fuck with those first two B-52’s albums! I’ve heard recordings of the fourth REM show ever and they are tight as hell, the songs were catchy & great & they kicked ass live & paid serious dues playing total shitholes, so mucho respect for early REM.
I’m actually more encouraged by Athens’ music scene in the last couple years than I have been in a long time, even though the highest profile stuff is generally not my cup of tea. Athens is musically supersaturated with Americana crap, bland “indie” stuff that sounds like a composite of Pitchfork Best New Music bands, bad jam-band/fratty shit, weak dance-pop crap, paint-by-numbers thrashy hardcore and cliché-ridden stoner metal, but if you dig a little deeper, there’s a nice little pocket of good stuff. Bands I would encourage folks out there to check out would be The Humms, Mother The Car, The Cryptides, Timmy & the Tumblers, Axxa/Abraxas, New Sound of Numbers, The Rodney Kings, Sex BBQ, Monsoon, The V.G. Minus, The Fuzzlers, and I guess I will shamelessly plug the other bands I play in: Free Associates, Swag Dick Cats, The DeLux Interiors (Cramps cover band where I imitate Lux) and the band where I write & sing all the songs, which is Nate & the Nightmares.
How did each member get started in music and how did the band meet?
Becky pretty much failed everything in high school except for chorus. She has a really good voice and put a lot of effort into developing those vocal techniques back in the day. We met in the summer of 2000 at the place she was working, Video headquarters in Keene, New Hampshire, when I was renting the GG Allin documentary “Hated” and she pointed out that it was one of her employee picks. She basically picked up the guitar right before CCBB started, so all of the early CCBB songs are the first ones Becky ever wrote. I had played drums in some shitty high school bands, but hadn’t played for about five years until CCBB officially started in September of 2002.
How many releases have you put out so far and which is your favorite?
CCBB has three full-length albums. I don’t know exactly why, but Becky was never much interested in making seven-inch singles. Completists might like to know that we have a split single with the All Girl Summer Fun Band and an upcoming single on the UK label Oddbox Records.
Right now, the first album sounds too wimpy compared to the other two. The second one probably has two songs too many on it. The third one was probably thought about too much, but it’s the right length and has a good mix of songs. Maybe someday we will re-record some old songs and put together a career retrospective “greatest hits”-type package and that will probably be my favorite album of ours.
Do you swear by vinyl, cassette, CD, or none of the above?
I work at Wuxtry Records here in the heart of downtown Athens, GA, so I encourage the kids out there to keep buying vinyl, if only for my own job security.
What are some things that bother you in everyday life and in the music scene?
Oh jesus…where to begin? Becky and I are both crabby people, perhaps downright anti-social…not like violent, but prefer to avoid the masses as much as possible. At the same time, I tend to over-analyze everything, especially “scene politics” and observe a lot of regrettable behavior that transpires in a hipster mecca like Athens.
For one thing, I’m older than most of the UGA/Gen Y/20-somethings here and tend to agree with folks like Doug Stanhope who say that this generation is the first to be significantly less hardcore than their parents were. I don’t think kids really have any clear-cut thing to rebel against anymore. Any legit youth movement is cannibalized by marketing departments, you can dress as ridiculous as you want, tattoo & pierce yourself silly and it’s fine. Nobody cares. “Cool” really has no meaning anymore, cuz you have the internet making everything accessible & easy, but also making people and culture more self-conscious. Drugs are mainstream and ubiquitous and there’s so much pleasant-but-vapid music that reflects that, chillwave/shoegaze-type stuff that just sounds like Xanax and anti-depressants. Like, back when everything was hair metal & spandexed out, a boring band like Galaxie 500 really stood out, but now you got a whole generation that grew up on the internet and know that Galaxie 500 and MBV and Slowdive are “cool” and ape that sound, but it’s hollow because the cultural climate is totally different. It’s a copy of a copy and it’s tasteful and restrained and perfectly graphic designed, but it’s just more shit coming down the pipe with no genuine personality attached.
I hate how careerist bands are these days, although I guess it’s really the only way to claw yourself above the fray: hire a hotshot publicist, boost your numbers on Facebook, amass a Twitter following, etc. etc.
Sometimes a band like White Mystery will come along where I can tell that their hard work & dedication is finally paying off and they’re awesome folks, but most of the time it’s just your generic bunch of bespectacled dipshits with tousled hair.
I could go on and on for hours, but I’ll spare you.
What are your thoughts on the distinctions between punk, garage, and indie rock?
Well, “indie” is a fairly nebulous term, but to me it means Pitchfork Best New Music and a full decade of bands that sound like they are consciously aiming for that accolade and will fit in nicely on the in-store playlist at Urban Outfitters.
Punk is too fractured. I hate the current crop of hardcore bands who are just cookie-cuttering all the classic ‘80s-era stuff, especially preachy P.C./political stuff, but also crust punk/thrash/grind stuff that you typically find featured in MRR. I hate Warped Tour/Fat Wreck/Epitaph-type shit, I hate street punk, fashion punk, whatever you wanna call it.
I grew up in NH, so I saw The Queers play a lot when I was just out of high school and they would bring a lot of bands through town when it was kind of the golden era of the Lookout Records roster: Groovie Ghoulies, Mr. T Experience, The Nobodys, The Hi-Fives, The Parasites, so I do have a soft spot for pop-punk of that era. I like a short, fast, catchy tune with decent lyrics & a good melody, either that or a total fucking mess of genuine antisocial weirdos like GG Allin or the electric eels, who are the punkest band of all time.
Garage rock as a local scene was something that I didn’t really experience until I moved to the south, right when the Black Lips were starting to really blow up and I thought they were great!
There were a few bands like Mr. Airplane Man that would play in the Boston area that I liked, but I didn’t make a connection with a garage scene until I started going to shows in Atlanta and found people who dug ‘60s Back From the Grave-type stuff, but also ‘90s bands like Supercharger and Thee Headcoats. Maybe that scene existed up north, but I just never knew about it.
We played shows with The Coathangers when they were still just starting and those shows were always a blast. Atlanta bands like Baby Dinosaurs Vs. Extinction were folks I felt we had a lot more in common with than the vast majority of Athens groups.
There’s a lot of sameyness in the garage scene, a lot of stuff that’s pretty played-out, like the whole pizza party/beach bum/beer bong aesthetic, but I’ll take a fun, sloppy party band over some boring, mopey, indie band any day.
What does the band have in store for the summer and are you working on a new release?
I don’t really know what’s going on with us. I think we’re on hiatus or something right now. We’re not practicing or writing new songs or playing shows or touring, so right now I think it’s safe to say we ain’t doin’ shit. Becky’s in beauty school and that’s her main thing. I play in all those bands I mentioned earlier, so I’m hoping to have some stuff come out soon with some of them, tapes, a seven-inch, something before this summer. If you liked the song “You Should Be Begging” on the new CCBB album, you’ll probably dig the Nate & the Nightmares stuff.
CARS CAN BE BLUE FACEBOOK
FEAR AND LOATHING IN LONG BEACH OFFICIAL SITE
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
I’m a little late to the party on this one so let me get caught up. Many years ago, I was staying with my friend Jami from the Sleazies in Providence, Rhode Island. I was sleeping, drinking, and entertaining in the band’s small merch room located on the second floor. I didn’t have many belongings and remember using Jaime’s old cell phone as an alarm clock. I guess I was in a constant of recklessness where time and day of the week or year didn’t seem to really matter that much to me. I would always hear him blasting the latest CDs from Rapid Pulse Records. He was their site designer. During the time, I had some of the most memorable blackouts of my life, if that’s possible. It was a rock n roll free for all in which I could hang out with the Sleazies and Midnight Creeps in a world surrounded by punk ferocity and passion 24/7. Not to mention I was writing a record there and learning some cool guitar tricks from everyone around me. I felt like a little kid in a candy store and highly recommend visiting the city if you’re looking for something memorable in your next getaway.
A band on constant rotation was Young People With Faces. I was totally floored the first time I heard their recording and thought it was a lost artifact from 1978. The snotty female vocals combined with raw melody and a crude band delivered the required aural sucker punch to implant these tunes in my head permanently. Turns out that the band was coming into the area for a few shows… That blistering hot summer had a lot of wild times and unpredictable silences wrapped in vivacious music and personality. The band eventually came into town; I hung out in the “band” van with them drinking relentlessly waiting for their time slot to come up. As always, the cops showed up and shut the show down before they had a chance to play, underage age drinking, permits, blah blah... While hanging out with the drummer and her Dad, this was also my first meeting with their singer Sophia Dilley, who had this cool aloofness going on with her friendly demeanor.
Cancel the band’s performance? No way, the crew took the show to the” basement” back at the house and the band kicked ass. They fiendishly rumbled through their set with such perfect ease I was jealous. Jump to the future…It is now March 2014 and I came across a review of a band called “Chain Letters” that claimed it had members of YPWF. Sure enough, it’s the unmistakable vocals of Sophia Dilley. I immediately had to initiate contact and it turns out that she is currently in Los Angeles. Strange how these things happen. This two-song vinyl masterpiece is one of those singles you will keep playing on your turntable until the grooves are worn out. With an airtight backing band and the electric guitar mastery of Chris Parker, we have 2 explosive gems in the vein of Dangerhouse Records and those cool BOMP releases, harnessing the perfect blend of pop sensibility and punk rock fury.
The band is tighter and more influenced by moody power pop like the Nerves and certain Weirdos tracks. Sophia’s vocals have progressed into a bittersweet blend of Jennifer Miro and Josie Cotton. “Bad Reflection” is the instant hit off the single with its infectious verse and chorus that has these subtle vocal nuances that turn into hefty hooks after repeated listens. Now that’s songwriting if you ask me. The B-Side “Boulevard Girls” is a sickly sophisticated mix of the Buzzcocks and Blondie power/punk style. Actually, I’m getting addicted to the “Boulevard Girls” as I can’t seem to stop listening to this track. If you’re looking for seriously good influences of real punk rock in your power-pop collection, you need to get this. I think it’s sold out. I need to know when the album is coming out. This is one badass record with no apologies for its style that outsmarts others trying to mine the same vein. Unlike those wannabe’s, this doesn’t suck one single bit. Get with it and listen to the tracks below, I’m also including YPWF to make my point. Until next time….
Chain Letters Facebook
Fear and Loathing in Long Beach- K.M.
Fear and Loathing LB Facebook
Friday, February 21, 2014
(F&L) At this point in the game, who is currently in the Dwarves? What can we expect on the new album you are recording?
(Blag) Hello Long Beach! There are more Dwarves than you can shake a stick at. The new record is coming together as we speak, celebrating three decades of sickness and sonic skullduggery.
My name is Blag Dahlia- Rock Legend. I’m joined on this ninth full length record by what can only be described as the greatest rock n roll band of all time. Long Beach native Josh Freese is on there, as is SWAT Team King Nick Oliveri, the Fresh Prince of Darkness, Chip Fracture, Gregory Pecker and Andy Now are joined by punk heroes like Dexter Holland and Spike Slawson. It’s the record other punk bands would make, if they didn’t suck!
Kids today are going back to definitive bands such as the Dwarves and swearing off new music. As a songwriter, author, and producer, where has modern rock n roll dropped the ball Blag Dahlia? Why does it suck so badly?
I’m not very nostalgic. There has been sorry shite ever since I’ve been playing music. Often it comes and goes without making much of a dent. Sometimes, it achieved great success by mining that gold that collects in the middle of the road. The good shit stands out in bold relief to the wack.
“Blood Guts & Pussy” was a landmark album. In the late 80s to early 90s, music in the punk world was underwhelming and bland. I heard “Back Seat of My Car” and knew it was my calling! From your garage/surf beginnings, at what point did you go GG Allin on your musical assault?
We first heard GG around 1987 or so. He was an influence for sure. We visited him in federal prison where he was doing time for assault. He shaved his head in patches so the black inmates would think he had AIDS. What a kook!
I always liked real rock n roll more than the punk version to listen to. Live it was the other way around. Rockabilly and 60s folks sucked live, but punk bands were fun. It took the Dwarves to combine them.
Which GG album do you consider his best?
The double LP Dirty Love Songs had most of his good stuff on it, lots of mid period singles and eps. The Eat My Fuc album was great, but someone stole mine!
On such classic tracks such as “Demonica”, “Detention Girl”, and “Dairy Queen”, who is the girl and what pleasing toxicity does she represent?
Detention Girl is a chaotic fuck up. Demonica is a prepubescent wonder girl. Dairy Queen is mostly tits and sugar.
What types of girls do the Dwarves attract?
Gluttons for punishment.
With self-mutilation, on stage sex, and hardcore drugs rampant in the band’s résumé, how much is true and why do you think other bands avoid going for the jugular?
Most bands pre censor themselves just by being boring. We just never shrunk from the excesses of being a rock band and the honesty of being a punk band.
What’s your favorite Dwarves recording from the last two decades? Is there any album that didn’t produce the results you wanted?
I was really happy with the Dwarves Must Die. It was an attempt to conquer every genre of hard rock and it worked. Most punk bands struggle in the studio, but we got really great records working with Eric Valentine and Andy Carpenter and a bunch of people who could actually produce. How To Win Friends has cool recordings, but most of them came out in earlier versions, so that one is for completists I guess.
There has been a resurgence of interest in the Sub Pop label and its 90s output, what do you think of the label and how did SFTRI differ in their handling of the Dwarves?
Sub/Pop put out lots of slow boring records by people with long hair. Why people called it punk grunge or anything besides mid tempo rock is beyond me. Sub/.Pop gives mediocrity a bad name.
Sympathy is one of the coolest labels ever. No contracts, no giving up your masters, no marketing, no staff. It’s the label of the future!
On the Dwarves Must Die and Born Again, there’s some intensely fucking cool production going on, are you producing your own records and is there a Zappa influence anywhere?
Eric Valentine was a huge help in production. We lucked out meeting him. And we have really good songwriters and players, which is where good production starts. My first rock concert was Frank Zappa at the Uptown Theater in Chicago 1980. He’s an inspiration.
Who are the biggest enemies of the Dwarves?
People who have never heard of us.
What’s your opinion on Queens of the Stone Age?
If Donald Trump played bad guitar and had bingo flaps he’d be that guy.
What’s the key to keeping your world alive? (Fucking shit up, getting high, and the continuous worship of sluts…)
I just keep abusing myself and folks keep cheering me on.
Thoughts on religion and Satan?
No and Yes.
Your opinion of Southern California?
Attractive folks, cool cars, retarded people.
-Kevin McGovern, 2014
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