June of 44 – Live 1 (485 Robinson, Atlanta ’97)
June of 44 – Live 2 (485 Robinson, Atlanta ’97)
June of 44 – Live 3 (485 Robinson, Atlanta ’97)
June of 44 – Live 4 (485 Robinson, Atlanta ’97)
June of 44 – Live 1 (485 Robinson, Atlanta ’97)
Arcwelder – Captain Allen
Arcwelder – Raleigh
Arcwelder – White Elephant
So I went to graduate school in Pittsburgh in 1990. To most people, this wouldn’t mean anything, but to those with a passing knowledge of the town’s taste in music, they know exactly what music was huge there……music that wasn’t popular anywhere else in the country.
Only in Pittsburgh could you see Nice Strong Arm or Steel Pole Bath Tub play to a full room where they couldn’t get arrested elsewhere in the country. A few of those bands that were godhead in Pittsburgh eventually grew into more mainstream acceptance: Bastro, Slint, Codeine and Bitch Magnet.
I remember seeing Bitch Magnet along with Lubricated Goat (another Pittsburgh fave) and Sludgehammer (featuring future Don Caballero guitarist Ian Williams on drums and the mope-core genius Karl Hendricks) at the Upstage Lounge in the Oakland neighborhood in 1991 and man, what a study in opposites. On one hand, you had the junked out rockers in Lubricated Goat looking for drugs and wanting to get fucked up before the show (probably with Kris K) while the studious nerds in Bitch Magnet sat at the bar sipping on Sprites watching college basketball. The irony was further reinforced by the fact that Bitch Magnet swept the floor with the Goat. Hands down. And that night started my totally hardcore, yet totally platonic love affair with Soo Young Park.
Bitch Magnet broke up shortly after I saw them, and by the time Seam started up with BM mastermind Soo Young Park, I had moved to Athens. And in 1993, Georgia was fortunate enough to have Seam perform SIX TIMES that year. After becoming quick friends with them at their first show at the Shoebox (on Washington in Athens, formerly the Uptown and Chameleon Clubs) I continued to house Seam over the next few years as they chalked up quite a few miles on their van. I should mention that their van suffered from great disrepair in 1993 and required Soo Young and I to go to a metal shop in West Athens to get a fixture on the alternator fixed. DIY autowork in the Georgia summer blows. But I digress…..
The Georgia shows in 1993 (if I may jump back) were simply incredible. Soo Young’s then girlfriend Lexi was playing bass, Craig from Repulse Kava was on guitar and the jovial Bob Rising (fmr. Poster Children) on drums. Two shows at the Grooveyard in Atlanta, two shows at the Shoebox, one at the 40 Watt and one at the Masquerade in one year?! Christ, did anybody know how fortunate we were? Half of those shows were before Seam were to release their T&G masterpiece "The Problem With Me" leaving many to marvel that they were already beating the pavement on a record that wasn’t even released. Such road dogs.
And performing live? Man, Seam might’ve gone thru a number of line up changes, but that didn’t stop the band from being one of the true gems of the Touch & Go crown in the early 90’s. Over the years, I sadly lost touch with most of the folks in the band, but I know they play the occasional show even though geographically they’re all over the place.
For the live recording this time, I’m including 4 tracks from their final Georgia appearance of 1993 at the 40 Watt when they had Spent open for them. Such a great show! I remember Soo Young backstage just pacing around with his guitar strapped on saying "I wanna jam! I wanna jam!" and so he went out and opened for Seam doing a quick 3 minute jam by himself. Of course, for fear of embarassing Mr. Park, I’ve included that little sonic exploration.
I don’t know if Georgia will ever have the fortune of having Seam here again, but I can say that for a few years there, we got our fill many times over.
Seam – Noise jam (40 Watt ’93)
Seam – Atari (40 Watt ’93)
Seam – Rafael (40 Watt ’93)
Seam – The Wild Cat (40 Watt ’93)
Texas was a very last minute addition to the Overrated Book tour to serve as a quasi-excuse to go see Scratch Acid in Austin. And how did it go? Great! I mean, how can’t it?
Outstanding BBQ in Houston courtesy of Thelma’s and the pipe-totin’ mofos in the Fatal Flying Guiloteens. DOMY was terrific except for showing a room of people the Steve Vai Pussy Candle video and not noticing 2 small children in the crowd. Oh well. Sometimes these things happen. I also purchased an extraordinary book called "Neubauwelt" which I’m looking forward to ripping off in the near future. Immediately afterwards, I got the chance to see Don Caballero (accurately, yet depressingly, called "Don’t Cab" by Bellini‘s Matthew Taylor) at Walter’s and pick up a Blunderbuss CD. Interesting observation: Don Cab neither sold any of their (what I’d deem essential) releases on Touch & Go nor played any of the T&G canon (at least while I was there). Wish I could’ve said howdy to Damon, but from what I could gather, he was pretty shit-hammered on stage and more importantly, I was starving. Went for pancakes and Shipley Donuts with Mike from the Guiloteens and got to bed by 3am for the drive to Austin in the morning.
So in recent months, I’ve had Mapquest lie to me. Especially on tour. Really bizarre instructions. For example, it added 2 1/2 hours (!!!!) to my return drive from Chicago on the ComOCom tour in April. Anyway, when going to Austin, I was looking at the Mapquest-generated map and thought I was besting the internet. I took I-10 to I-35 (ignoring 71 which goes straight into Austin) which on a map looks really short, but it basically put me in San Antonio and (more importantly) made me late to End Of An Ear in Austin. Showed videos, bought some records (including a sealed copy of the Servotron 9000 7" I put out in ’97!), then went to Waterloo for more record buying goodness. Eventually ended up with in-laws for dinner at the exceptional Magnolia Café and then made my way to Emo’s to see Scratch Acid (see other entry).
Special thanks on this tour go to: Roy, Mike, Shawn and all those Fatal Flying Guiloteen kids, Russell and all at DOMY, Dan and his awesome staff at End Of An Ear, the lovely and vivacious Alice Berry, The Duhons (Lita, Jackson and David) and all Dr. Pepper that I drank that was made with pure cane sugar (it never ever gets old).
Whew! Another successful week on the road, but the last to promote the book until Baltimore after the comedy tour! Be ready Baltimore! And take me for good crabs this time, dammit. I’m tired of the locals that don’t know where to go.
Don Caballero – Mmmmm Acting, I Love Me Some Good Acting
Don Caballero – And And And He Lowered The Twin Down
So as many of you know, I’m going to be gone for the next month on tour with the Comedians of Comedy. However, I desperately want to update as much as I can and provide the T&G25 goodies I promised. So here we go…..
In 1987, I had just graduated high school and lived in southern Alabama. It wasn’t until 1989 when I lived in south central Pennsylvania that Scratch Acid became part of my lingo. As with many, living in the sticks (at least then, maybe not now) was a big limitation in knowing what was going on. Zines, mainly, kept me informed. Siltbreeze, Forced Exposure, Your Flesh and (obviously) Conflict were my crib sheets and hey, I was in college in the late 80’s. There wasn’t anywhere else to find out about anything. Except CMJ. But really, have they ever been tastemakers?
So where does Scratch Acid fit in this puzzle? They don’t really.
I found out about The Jesus Lizard’s first EP, and then as with everything else, I cross referenced back to find Scratch Acid. Lucky me. As many of you are well familiar with Scratch Acid, I’ll refrain from writing a review. However, I do think it imperative to mention that Touch & Go reissued of SA’s Rabit Cat releases along with Berzerker on The Greatest Gift CD back in the mid-90’s. Obviously, I hope that if you don’t own this, you’ll figure out a way to get it. Although they cribbed heavily off their influences (namely Birthday Party), I think I’d be hard pressed to think of a more impressive body of work for a bunch of yokels from Austin in the mid-80’s other than Big Boys, Dicks and the Butthole Surfers.
And so as luck (or perceived coincidence) had it, I was in Austin this past weekend and saw Scratch Acid’s first show in 20 years. As much as I like Emo’s, I really don’t like sweaty Texas venues in late summer. However, it didn’t take long for Scratch Acid to make me forget about how much I hate being wet and sticky. Starting off with "Mary Had A Little Drug Problem", the band didn’t really wow me as much as just make me really happy that I got to see one of their three shows. By the third song, Yow was leaning on the post in the center of the stage (seemingly) to catch his breath. You can’t fault the guy. He’s a bit out of practice. Brett flubbed a lot. However, Rey Washam and David Sims (probably the best rhythm section ever, other than maybe Sims and Mac McNeilly) didn’t miss a single beat. And I never get tired of seeing Sims on stage. He just held it down without so much as acknowledging the crowd. God, I love that sort of animosity. But anyway…..
The show got the better of me after the encore and I had to sit down and relax my legs. On the encore, Yow hoisted his body over the crowd and clocked the show in at around 50 minutes. A perfect set.
The recordings this time are from Scratch Acid’s 2nd to last show from back in 1987 in Pittsburgh at the infamous Electric Banana. This tape came to me straight from Damon Fitzgerald (neé Che) when he camped out at my house in Athens back in 1995 for a few weeks. God, time flies. The great b-side to this tape is Sonic Youth at the Banana the next nite. Ah, yes, those were the days.
Scratch Acid – Mary Had A Little Drug Problem (Pittsburgh ’87)
Scratch Acid – This Is Bliss (Pittsburgh ’87)
Scratch Acid – Skin Drips (Pittsburgh ’87)
Scratch Acid – Live (VPRO ’87)
We’ve never hidden our love for Aquarius Records. It might be the best record store in the country that specializes in the special blend of musical geekery that we love here at Chunklet. And understandably, they love our new release. We’d also love to know who is planning to re-release the masterpiece that is "My Love…." if anybody knows.
So without further ado…..take it away, Andee….
So it took the rest of the world a while to catch on. Don’t be too hard on them. Harvey Milk are one difficult proposition. Don’t blame us though. We’ve been there all along trying to convince everybody just how brilliant this bafflingly bizarre sludge combo really was. Andee even reissued their seminal Courtesy And Good Will Toward Men album on his tUMULt label. And don’t blame Henry at Chunklet, the man responsible for this here document. In fact he was right there every step of the way, a one man Harvey Milk archivist and booster club. And of course we don’t blame you, loyal AQ list readers, cuz we know you feel the same way we do, you just can’t get enough of Harvey Milk’s pummeling, crushing, obtuse and confusional heaviness. Well for you, and for us, and for the heavy music lovers of the world who have yet to discover the difficult joy of Harvey Milk, life is is about to get a whole lot sweeter.
Courtesy And Good Will is getting reissued again, on Relapse, any day now, there’s a BRAND NEW Harvey Milk record due sometime in the next month or so, there are rumors of a deluxe reissue of the long out of print Harvey Milk debut, a serious holy grail, My Love Is Higher Than Your Assessment of What My Love Could Be, maybe with an extra disc, and then there’s THIS. Four long years in the making, and it was worth every single second. Most of us who dig Harvey Milk, even those of us who might go so far as to say we are obsessed, never actually got to see the band play live. And this three and a half hour DVD collection of live shows spanning over 12 years is just as much a revelation as we knew it would be.
From super grainy early live footage, when the band was much more of a punk rock, Touch And Go / AmRep sort of beast, you can, out of the corner of your eye, see the sludginess and fuckedupness creep up through the music, slowly and subtly infusing every song and sound with some ineffable something, that helped turn Harvey Milk into a band that sounded unlike any other band, then or now. Theirs was a career trajectory based entirely on getting weirder and sludgier and more obtuse and WAY more difficult and fucked up, a bit like the Melvins, but without the unexpected mainstream success and major label deal. Harvey Milk also unexpectedly shifted gears for a while, letting their ZZ Top obsession take control, and becoming impossibly groovy and rocking, which only lasted a single record before the band returned EVEN MORE damaged and slow and brutal, as if that was even possible.
The band look so unassuming, frontman Creston Spiers just an every day Joe until he opens his mouth and unleashes that impossible low banshee-like howl, bass player Stephen Tanner, with his weird, fey, Doogie Howser look, goofy smile and even goofier sexy hip swivel. And the drums, the drummers… Harvey Milk’s songs are so full of space, so slow and stretched out, the drums are often the only thing holding the songs together. Whether they are shuffling in the background, or pounding out a massive slow motion throb, it’s the drums that allow the guitars to spin off into space and the songs to unfurl into confusing super spacious epics.
Probably the most amazing part of the disc is when Creston wields a sledgehammer, pounding an anvil in time with the downtuned bass and pounding drums, while howling in that anguished banshee wail of his. Normally it would be weird to see a band set-up like that — bass, drums and sledgehammer — but somehow, for Harvey Milk it seems perfect. Creston swaying back and forth, cradling the hammer like it was a guitar, while the band pounds out a sludgy dirge behind him. So good! Woven in to the older material are plenty of long slow drawn out moody post rockisms, with drifting simple mournful melodies, and mumbled crooned vocals that eventually build into the epic whirls of swirling sludge we hold so near and dear to our hearts.
The biggest surprise here is how much footage there is from the band’s "ZZ Top period," a stretch that on record only lasted a single album, but live seemed to have spanned several years. A wild and hair twirling, head banging super groovy sort-of-Southern rock with howled and yelped superrock vocals, less obviously sludgy, but still ultra heavy. This was never really a favorite sound for lots of Milk fans (although it is Allan’s favorite) but seeing these songs performed live is enough to convince us that maybe we were WAY off and this stuff is some of the best Harvey Milk EVER!!!
It sounds like southern rock filtered through the Melvins. Or Ram Jam played by the Corrupted. It’s just so awesome to watch with drummer Kyle Spence’s massive Boham-esque kit (complete with Bonham’s logo on the bass drum head) a huge gong, just tearing it up Bill Ward style holding the whole thing together… And because of the film stock and the sound and the style, it’s almost feels like watching some recently unearthed German television footage of some ultra heavy long lost proto metal band from the seventies, they even whip out a little "Pinball Wizard!" Someone needs to reissue The Pleaser now. C’mon!! Maybe we just weren’t in the right frame of mind when it first came out, but we’re pretty sure that record would kick our asses now!
After that, the band sort of drifted off and disappeared, before resurfacing in 2005, as a much grungier, hairier looking Milk, all jeans and long hair and Voivod t-shirts, and they sound like it too. A return to the impossibly glacial dirge of Courtesy, but even heavier and somehow more even more fucked up sounding. Like Sabbath at 16rpm, massive lumbering, blown out sludgerock divinity. How many ways can we say it. WE LOVE HARVEY MILK!!! THEY ARE WITHOUT A DOUBT ONE OF THE GREATEST BANDS OF THE LAST 20 YEARS!!
There’s also a DVD Easter egg (thanks Jace!): just go to the credits menu and push up until "40 Watt ’93" is highlighted, for some footage from an April Fool’s show where the band tackle three R.E.M. covers, taken from a show where the band covered R.E.M.’s Reckoning in its entirety. Seriously! (the also once did a whole set of Hank Williams covers, let’s pray someone has a tape of that stashed!) It’s pretty dang cool to see one generation of Athens rock take on another. And they don’t really sludge it up all that much, playing ’em pretty straight, but managing to make them -almost- sound like Harvey Milk originals!
Also included is a four song 3"cd containing previously unreleased, super rare tracks, one of which is their version of R.E.M.’s "South Central Rain"!!!
And of course the packaging is breathtaking. Designed by Stephen O’Malley and Henry Chunklet, it’s a gorgeous oversized DVD style, fold over interlocking cardstock sleeve, greenish brown, with O’Malley’s instantly recognizable graphic shards in dark brown, the title in embossed reflective silver, inside copious liner notes from Henry printed in metallic silver, the back has an angular H and M diecut, through which you can see the inside sleeve, a black folded cardstock gatefold with silver metallic ink which houses both the DVD and the 3" cd affixed to the inside on little nubs. So awesome!
Scott Sosebee, the cover illustrator to The Overrated Book, just sent me this. I think this is one in a continuing series of him at different retail establishments with the book in the background. And, of course, I’m more than willing to promote him and his contribution to Chunklet’s first book.
Hey, wait, what am I saying? Go and buy the book now. We only have a few hundred left here at the house……. And while I’m at it, I’ll be in Houston and Austin this weekend promoting the book at Domy (Houston) and End of an Ear (Austin) so come by and let me scribble inside your copy. And obviously, I’ll be seeing Scratch Acid at Emo’s on Saturday. I’m as giddy as a little girl.
Washington, DC. New Year’s Day, 1993.
This show was the first I had heard of GVSB, and at the time, they hadn’t yet put out a record on Touch & Go. It was New Year’s Day in DC and Jawbox was playing at the ‘old’ 9:30 Club on F Street. Even though the infamous support beam that was directly in front of the stage is blocking a third of the shot, I’m really glad I took this photo. This whole show was really something. Girls Against Boys (aka GVSB, aka Girls Versus Boys, aka whatever) were really dense and had a very confident swagger. To GVSB’s credit, I was so thoroughly blown away that I went to The Rev in Baltimore the next night to see them with Holy Rollers. And again, another GVSB home run.
"How were Jawbox?" you might be asking. As a 4-piece, Jawbox were, as usual, pretty effin’ awesome.
To be honest, I kinda drifted away from GVSB after Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby, but I know they definitely went bobbing for pavement when the "sexy" angle became their M.O. Soon after that, they signed to a major, put out one too many New Wet Kojak albums, were sighted doing DJ sets by Rolling Stone journos at trendy clubs and kinda petered out. And plus, the artwork to that major label record suffers from stereotypical late 90’s Mac Attack eyesore foofery.
GVSB picked themselves up by the bootstraps and put out an album on the respectable Jade Tree and then obviously were cut a large check to back up a certain unnamed celeb in a regretful reality show. Even with their missteps, for a few years there, they deservedly were kings of the roost at Touch & Go.
Oh, and if you don’t have any recordings by their band prior to GVSB, Soulside, I strongly urge you to pick up their compilation CD on Dischord.
GVSB 1 (live at the 9:30 Club ’93)
GVSB 2 (live at the 9:30 Club ’93)
GVSB 3 (live at the 9:30 Club ’93)
GVSB 4 (live at the 9:30 Club ’93)
For lack of actually being able to attend, I hope to spend the better part of this week prior to leaving on tour to giving a little bit of a tribute to Touch & Go. I’ve had a pretty lucky streak over the years of supporting – and thru the process getting to know – many of the label’s formidable artists. So in honor of that, I thought that I’d dig thru my boxes of photos and tapes to give yet another glimpse of the label. For this time, well…duh, I have to give it up to the undeniably mighty The Jesus Lizard.
After graduate school, I moved back to my mom’s house in Pennsylvania and subsequently spent countless hours driving all over the east coast to see The Jesus Lizard. The early tours (’90-’92) were great for me because they’d do a routing like, Richmond, DC, Newark, Baltimore, Philly, Trenton, Hoboken and New York. To think about it now is mind-numbingly impossible, but thanks to a shit-box car and no real life to speak of, it was easy to go see them. And why the fuck not?! They were (and some would argue still are) one of the best live bands to ever walk on the planet.
I remember the first time seeing them was at the Upstage Lounge in Pittsburgh on their second tour with Pegboy (who’d just released their astounding debut 12" on T&G, still a classic in my mind) and the Northern Bushmen (featuring Pat Morris, later of Don Caballero) opening. It kind of became a blur for a few years there. I was lucky enough to see the Lizard probably 40 times and I would always try to be front and center whenever possible. The photos for this entry were taken at Max’s on Broadway in Fells Point which butts right up to the Chesapeake Bay. This particular show had Arcwelder and Liquor Bike open and was notable primarily because the low ceilings allowed Yow to literally walk on the ceiling during their set….. Yes, walk on the ceiling. To this day, I’ve never seen another human do that stunt with such dramatic flair. But then again, that’s Yow for you.
I really don’t know if I ever became a peer to The Jesus Lizard during their original (and some would say only "true") line-up, but I certainly became more friendly with them toward the end of their career. The most surprising realization was that David Yow was not only a pussy cat off stage, but usually the first one to say a joke that everybody would laugh at. Then again, I still hang out with folks who think fart jokes are high comedy, so what do I know?
Since the band’s demise in ’98, I’ve kept in touch with Yow and Duane. Duane went on to be the guitarist for Hank 3 (whose popularity can only be explained by genetics and not by talent amazingly enough) and Tomahawk and we’d always catch up when he’d be in town. Yow was (and continues to be) a high-end photo retouch stud who now lives in Los Angeles. I heard Sims is an accountant in New York (no surprise there) and Mac lives in Evanston on the same block as Mr. John Mohr from Tar and is an at-home dad (thanks Mouse).
In recent years, Yow has been seen doing the rare performance on stage. Around 98, he performed Sex Pistols songs with Shellac. And as many know, he’s also made a few cameos on stage with The Melvins. Upon seeing him at ATP a year or so ago while filming the Buckshot Boys DVD, Yow and I spent over an hour talking Photoshop and then he confided in me about the impending Scratch Acid reunion… I heard Yow’s doing sit-ups to condition himself, but well, when you’re Yow……well, you know……
The Jesus Lizard – Boilermaker (live in Baltimore 92)
The Jesus Lizard – Mouthbreather (live in Baltimore 92)
The Jesus Lizard – Seasick (live in Baltimore 92)
The Jesus Lizard – Dancing Naked Ladies (live in Baltimore 92)
Chunklet has a long history with these knuckleheads. In fact, it’s a history so long that I’m kinda at a loss for words when I got to watch them practice today.
But if it weren’t for an unfortunate set of circumstances, I’d be at both of their shows this coming week. Sometimes, it feels like I miss all the fun stuff, but at least I’ll be on the Comedians of Comedy tour. And I think I’ll be in Asheville!
There’s still the remote possibility that I’ll be making an appearance of some kind at the T&G25, but all things being equal, I don’t think I’d count on it.
Man Or Astro-Man? – peel session
Man Or Astro-Man? – Peel interview
Man Or Astro-Man? – Put Your Finger In The Socket (Peel Session)
Man Or Astro-Man? – The Miracle Of Genuine Pyrex