Issue 14 aka The Mad Magazine Issue aka The Cease & Desist Issue Features include What’s The Most Rock Thing You’ve Ever Done? Survey, How To Be Annoying At Monopoly, Pomo Spy vs. Spy, Heckling and General Show Etiquette, Bill Pullman, The Moog Wave, Guided By Voices vs. Star Trek, The Billions Corporation, History of Duophonic Super 45’s, The Clears, The Most Overused Samples, and of course, the Indie Cred Test along with a smattering of reviews. Featured with this issue is a compilation CD (entitled It’s Only Four Dollars Every Five Minutes…do you get the reference, you supposed hipster?) with exclusive tracks by: Portastatic, The Delta 72, Tranquil, The Green Pajamas, Amp, the Minders, Brother JT, Operation Reinformation, Irving Klaw Trio, Therisphere (Mazarin side project), Log, Neutrino, The Melted Men, The Low Numbers, The Causey Way and Daphne Diaphonous (from The Clears).
My first introduction to the world of Duophonic/UHF Disks was in one of the downstairs dressing rooms at the old 9:30 Club (back when the “930” actually denoted their location on F Street in DC). Arcwelder was opening up for The Jesus Lizard that December evening, and upon peeking into drummer Scott McDonald’s bag, I saw a new Arcwelder single! “Oooh! Can I get one of those?” And, of course, five dollars later, I held in my hands my first Duophonic Super 45’s single which was the label’s third release. Over the proceeding months and years, I would come to realize that not only was Duophonic (and their more “legit” label Ultra High Frequency Disks) the label run by Stereolab, but also, they put out some tremendous records when the urge hit them.
The real clincher was the Spring of ’95 when the unbelievably stellar 12″ by Tortoise (“Gamera” b/w “Cliff Dweller Society”-DS33-09) was released by Duophonic. I was fortunate enough to get one of the initial copies which, over the years, has spent time in more than a few dear friend’s collections. Moreover, “Gamera” unquestionably serves as Tortoise’s most shining moment showing them in an artistic growth spurt placing the first fifteen minutes somewhere in between This Heat, ’87-era Eno produced U2 (I’m totally serious here, folks!), and the more shimmering moments of Nick Drake, with the remainder of the 12″ quickly drifting from the former’s anthemic leanings and stumbling into a melodious, yet more abstract tape collage temper tantrum that serves as a fine preface for the band’s later (and decidedly less essential) series of remix 12″s. For Duophonic, “Gamera” further cemented their place in the small yet prestigious pantheon of great (yet regretfully obscure) labels to emerge in the 90’s. Duophonic’s disinterest in widely distributing their releases, combined with their apparent indifference towards promotion, doesn’t seem to bother the label’s trustees. As if that weren’t enough, two of the label owners (Stereolab’s Tim Gane and Laetitia Sadier) have touring and recording to contend with, while the other one-third owner (Martin Pike) manages Stereolab and Broadcast along with supervision of the label’s day-to-day operations. After being originally slated for inclusion in issue 12, I quickly found out that getting in touch with Tim, Laetitia or Martin was going to be virtually impossible. Eventually, after persistent attempts to contact them, I got a grand total of one fax from Martin outlining the release history for both Duophonic and UHF. However, getting a one-on-one interview – which would serve as the major focus of the article – proved totally fruitless. Elektra kept wanting me to do phone interviews (which I loathe) and still, no word from Duophonic. Of course, anybody who would stop just because of this bleak situation is just a sissy-assed quitter. Me? I went deeper.
December 1997. Stereolab played the Coca-Cola sponsored Roxy in Atlanta. Meathead security. All-access tour laminates. $5 Budweiser drafts. How much more need I elaborate? I went to the show with four friends, all of whom were totally convinced that there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell that I’d get to interview the band’s bus driver let alone Tim or Laetitia. And in a way, I sort of had to agree with them. Still, through a small miracle combined with proper celestial alignment, I was able to wedge my way backstage after the show (no small feat, mind you), and through a chain of events that still have me baffled, I found myself sitting on the Roxy stage asking Tim Gane questions about the label while he took down his guitar gear. He shoots! He scores! The interview was conducted amidst autograph seekers, well-wishers and a tour manager who pointed at his watch and glared at Tim (and me) every four minutes in an attempt to get him on the bus. As a side note, Tim eluded to the possibility of a Stereolab single that would have potentially accompanied this issue, but of course, that never happened. But Tim, if you’re reading this, we’re still interested!
Seeing as how the clock was ticking, I got right down to business starting with how the label actually began:
Martin [Pike] used to sell T-shirts for McCarthy. We first knew him in 1986 when he used to do a fanzine in England called Diana Rigg. After McCarthy stopped, me and Laetitia wanted to do a group and Martin wanted to help us, so we decided to do the group and the label ourselves all in one go. Always from the beginning the label was there. It wasn’t like we sent off any demos or didn’t get any replies. So we borrowed 1,600 pounds from Martin’s dad in 1991, and with that we financed the first 7″.
And so the principal owners are still Martin, Laetitia and yourself?
Owners, yeah, I suppose so. We run it. Duophonic is the non-profit label. It’s just the mail order and small run releases. Nothing is registered. It does other bands as well. It also does the more uncommercial Stereolab records. Whatever money we make just goes into making another record. We’ll also sell them at a few select specialty shops like Intoxica, Rough Trade or Other Music. UHF is a limited deal which is more legalized because it does the bigger records that we do through Elektra.
Why are all of the Stereolab records that aren’t on your label shown as being explicitly licensed from Duophonic? Was this influenced by previous experience?
Sort of. It was done because in the beginning we gave out records to anybody who asked. For instance, Sub Pop gave us $700 to record the Lo Boob Oscillator single for them. When we were getting the latest singles compilation ready [Refried Ectoplasm], they said we had to give them $2,000 to license it. We recorded that single for nothing! We even lost money on it! So now we license our recordings and just give them to people, then we don’t have to ask for permission if we want to use it. We just want to be in control of our own music. We didn’t know that in the beginning, and would give out tracks, and all of a sudden they would own the track. So we record out of our own money and then give it to them. That way it’s cleaner. I’m not that annoyed with Sub Pop, but that’s an example of a situation where we made a mistake. But now the single’s done, and they can’t get any more out of it.
Are there labels that have served as examples for Duophonic?
Actually, it’s really bizarre example because our music is nothing like it, but both Sarah and K Records I really did like a lot. They did 10″s and that’s what we wanted to do. I wasn’t particularly keen of their music as such, but more importantly, I hated 12″s. I thought they were really boring and they were the only labels I knew that were doing 10″ records. In a weird way, we began getting a lot of people started doing 10″s a couple years after we started. I thought it was a great format.
Have you ever considered rereleasing some of the more rare or out-of-print Duophonic releases?
What? In their original forms? All of Stereolab’s early releases are available on compilations. There’s none that isn’t available. Some people ask why we don’t release them in their original forms, but why go back to do that? We can’t artificially do that. The sleeve to the first Stereolab single had a fax paper sleeve. We didn’t have any money to do it on anything else, but now it’s like “Oh, the original sleeve!” It’s just a cheap piece of paper that looked like crap.
Is everything done spur of the moment?
Yeah, pretty much. We fancy doing what we fancy doing at that particular point. We’re looking forward to the future. I don’t want to be bogged down with doing reproductions of what we’ve done in the past. I’m not interested in the legacy of rock music or recreating great moments of our records. It’s pointless because they’d lose. I’m interested in what I’m doing now, not what I was doing then. I’m not an archivist or a librarian. The bottom line is, all of our records are meant for everybody, but not everybody’s meant to have one of our records. For instance, our tour only singles are available only to the people who come see the gigs. We’re not going to suddenly rerelease them in ten years time to let people pretend they were there when they weren’t. Not all of our records are meant for the collectors in England. That’s the thing people must understand. I’m a music fan, and buy more records probably than anybody who buys our records. I buy six to ten albums a week, every week of the year, every year. I completely understand that people want our records, but at the same time we need to make all different types of music or we’d just stagnate making one album every two and a half years. People wouldn’t like that. If it adds an element of excitement for collectors then that’s cool. At the same time, we don’t do it to irritate people, but it’s an unfortunate by-product. We can’t afford to make everything available. If 5,000 people want a track by us, we need to print up 30,000 copies to enable all those 5,000 people to easily obtain that record because it doesn’t add up that you make 5,000 records and it goes exactly to the 5,000 people who want it. It doesn’t work that way because you need to make up six times as many copies which we can’t afford, and we don’t have the interest either.
I’d like to know how you met some of the bands whose records you’ve released. Like Tortoise?
We knew the guys in Tortoise for about two years before the “Gamera” 12″ came out, and one day John [McIntyre, Tortoise drummer] rang me up and said “we’d really like for you guys to put this record out.” They sent us this track that we thought would fit on a 7″ and in fact it was “Gamera.” I rang John up and said “Are you sure you want us to put out this amazing piece of music?” And he said “Yeah, no problem.” Up to the new record, I think it’s the best thing they’ve ever done.
How about Nurse With Wound?
I have been a long time Nurse With Wound fan since 1981. I wanted Steve [Stapleton] to produce Peng!, so he came down to see us play, but we were pretty all over the place, and he thought we were too rocky. So two years later, a friend who runs Clawfist asked if we would want to do a split single where two bands do cover songs. We wanted to do the split with Nurse With Wound and decided we wouldn’t do covers or anything. Instead, we wanted to do original music which Steve would record, and then do whatever he wanted. That was the idea. In fact, on that first collaboration, we did sort of a homage to Faust. We did that on purpose because we knew Steven really liked that and he then made it even more Fausty.
I read one review stating it was a contest to see who could out-Neu! each other.
Some people think everything we do sounds like Neu! and I think a very small percentage sounds like it. Maybe two or three tracks on earlier records. “Super Electric.” “Motorik” doesn’t have the Neu! two note chord, but I love that rhythm. It was unusual back in the early 90’s.
How did you meet Labradford?
Carter [from Labradford] is a fan of ours and came to see us the first time we toured America. In fact, he got us our Farfisa. Labradford then toured with us. They wanted to do a 7″, so we did it.
They made a demo cassette and sent out two copies, one to us and one to Too Pure. We weren’t interested in signing them, but we got in touch with them and said that we really liked the cassette. We went down to see them live and thought they were amazing. Martin now manages them.
What about the Duophonic logo?
What? Cliff? In 1969, there was this Swiss underground comic. There’s a six piece thing with this guy reading a right wing Swiss newspaper and Cliff points his finger at him and he’s saying “Don’t do this, don’t do that, get your hair cut, blah blah blah.” In the end, the finger eventually turns into a gun and the last frame it says “Peng!”. I thought it would look like the Ralph Records [owned by the Residents] logo, which is one of my all-time favorite labels.
Does Duophonic have a long term vision?
No. We don’t have ambition or long term goals.
Is there a label motto?
I’d like to teach the world to sing?
So with that ended my semi-scattered, yet wildly informative interview with Mr. Gane. Since this interview, I’m sure Duophonic has put something out which will eventually find its way into my mitts, but as Tim said, they’re moving full steam ahead. I know there’s upcoming singles with both Colm and Dymaxion. But you can rest assured that whatever happens at Duophonic, it will continue to be nothing short of amazing.
Contact Duophonic Super 45’s at:
Post Office Box 3787
London SE22 9DZ
DS45-01 Stereolab Super 45 10″ Stereolab’s first ever release. A mail order only 10″ 880 copies (40 with handmade sleeves)
DS45-02 “Stunning Debut Album” 7″ tracks featured are “Doubt” and “Changer” 985 copies on clear vinyl and 200 on multi-colored vinyl all w/an insert
DS45-03 Arcwelder “Favor” b/w “Plastic” 1000 copies on black 300 on amber
DS45-04 “Harmonium” b/w “Farfisa” 7″ 1306 copies on amber vinyl all came w/a flourescent orange sticker
DS45-05/06 Shimmies in Super 8 Double pack with a fold out sleeve. Each band had a side and they were: Stereolab with “Revox”; Huggy Bear with “Trafalgar Square,” “Godziller,” “More Music From Bells,” “Snow White Rose Red”; Colm with “Soundtrack”; Durlin with “Cindy So Loud” and “Darlin'” 800 copies of which 400 had stickers. all copies were numbered. One 7″ was green vinyl, one was white.
DS45-07 Herzfeld “Two Mothers” and “Who the Scroungers Are” 1000 copies
DS45-08 Herzfeld “The Sack” mini LP 1000 copies
DS45-09 Tortoise “Gamera” b/w “Cliff Dweller Society” 12″ 1500 on red vinyl 1500 on clear 1500 on black and 1000 on flourescent yellow
DS45-10 Split tour 7″ with Yo La Tengo “The Long Hair of Death” by Stereolab and “Evanescent Psychic Pez Drop” by Yo La Tengo 3000 on flourescent yellow vinyl with a flourescent yellow sticker
DS45-11 Stereolab/Nurse With Wound “Simple Headphone Mind” 12″ 3000 on black vinyl, 1000 on translucent yellow vinyl A limited run of promo CDs were also pressed
DS45-12 Labradford “Scenic Recovery” b/w “Underwood 5ive” 10″ 2500 copies on black vinyl
DS45-14 broadcast “Living Room” b/w “Phantom” 3092 copies on black vinyl DS45-15 pram “Music For Your Movies” CD-EP/12″ 1488 copies on black vinyl 2213 copies on CD
DS45-16 broadcast “The Book Lovers” CD-EP/12″ 1968 copies on black vinyl 2882 copies on CD
DS45-17 splitting the atom “Splitting The Atom Parts 1 and 2” b/w “Monkey Brain” 7″ Features Andrew Ramsay and Simon Holliday augmented by Mary Hansen and Sonic Boom 3234 copies on black vinyl
DS45-18 turn on s/t LP/CD Features Tim Gane, Sean O’Hagan and Andrew Ramsay
THE ULTRA HIGH FREQUENCY DISKS DISCOGRAPHY IS AS FOLLOWS [NOTE THAT ALL ARE STEREOLAB RELEASES]
D-UHF-D01 “Jenny Ondioline” b/w “Fruition” 10″/CD D01P featured a new version of “French Disco” which be-came “French Disko” and an alternate version of “Golden Ball” CD only 1000 copies with handmade sleeves and 3000 with printed green and white sleeves
D-UHF-D02 Transient Random Noise Bursts With Announcements Double vinyl LP/CD/Cassette 1500 had a catalogue number of D-UHF-D02x and this was on gold vinyl
D-UHF-D03 “French Disko” b/w “Golden Ball” sold during European tour with Pavement “Golden Ball” is version from D-UHF-D01p 1500 copies
D-UHF-D04 “Ping Pong” b/w “Moogie Wonderland” 7″/10″/CD 7″ pressed on green, black and pink vinyl 10″ and CD had “Pain et Spectacles” and “Transona Five (live version)” as extra tracks
D-UHF-D05 Mars Audiac Quintet Double vinyl LP/CD/Cassette
D-UHF-D06 Free clear vinyl 7″ or CD which came with initial copies of Mars Audiac Quintet
D-UHF-D07 “Wow and Flutter” b/w “Heavy Denim” 7″/10″/CD All copies (appx 2000) of the 7″ had handmade sleeves A 10″ and CD were also available and these had “Nihilist Assault Group (parts 3, 4 & 5)” and “Narco Martenot” as extra tracks
D-UHF-D08 The Amorphous Body Study Centre CD release intended for use with Charles Long art exhibit. “First Edition” was CD only. subsequent edition was on CD and 10″ with a yellow sleeve
D-UHF-D09 Refried Ectoplasm (Switched On Volume 2) Double LP/CD/cassette Initial run of 6000 on amber vinyl. Drag City version was on clear vinyl
D-UHF-D10 Cybele’s Reverie 7″/10″/CD Both the 7″ and 10″ were limited to appx 2500 copies
D-UHF-D11 Emperor Tomato Ketchup Double LP/CD/Cassette LP on black vinyl with a limited run with glitter
D-UHF-D12 Stereolab/Tortoise split tour 7″ Stereolab track is called “Speedy Car” and the Tortoise track is “Yaus” Appx 4000 copies on blue or flourescent orange vinyl
D-UHF-D14 Flourescences 7″/12″/CD D-UHF-D15 “Metronomic Underground” remixed by Luke Vibert and “Percolations” remixed by John McEntire 12″ 2500 copies on black vinyl
D-UHF-D16 Miss Modular 7″/12″/CD 7″ and 12″ limited to approximately 2000 copies each
D-UHF-D17 Dots and Loops Double LP/CD/Cassette Initial copies of LP had first disk on green vinyl and the second on white vinyl d-uhf-d18 “iron man” b/w “The incredible he woman” tour single red vinyl
You Can Read the Interview
Not that anyone admits to such things, but those who have seen the Spice Girl’s video for “Viva Forever” were graced with a cameo appearance by the 1980’s most famous inert celebrity – the Rubik’s Cube. Despite being a glorified hula-hoop for the mind, its imprint on the collective psyche remains strong, while other superstars from the decade of greed – Alf, Mr. T and Steve Guttenburg – can’t get arrested in Hollywood.
All but forgotten from the puzzle fad are the “How to Solve the Cube” books which prevented millions of people from going insane. Many were anonymous rush jobs designed to make a quick buck before the gravy train derailed, but “You Can Do The Cube” was brimming with personality since it was written by thirteen year-old “schoolboy cubemaster” Patrik Bossert. I found myself wondering what had happened to Patrik. Had he become an alcoholic paparazzi punching brat-packer?
I managed to interview Patrik in August of 1998 via e-mail and discovered that fame has been quite kind. Now married with two children, 30-year-old Patrik is the Technical Director of WSP Business Technology Ltd. Luckily, he hasn’t forgotten his roots and was kind enough to elaborate on cube sex appeal, drinking too much beer and American merchandising absurdities.
Did you write all of the Cube book yourself? I ask only because you were 13 at the time.
Yes. Entirely by myself, including the diagrams. I got my dad to check it, and he pointed out a couple of edge-piece ‘tricks’ I had failed to cover, but I filled in the blanks.
How many copies did the book end up selling?
It sold 1.5 million worldwide. It was top of the US and UK best seller lists in 1981.
Did you get much money from it, considering the low price of the book?
The cover price was 85p. I received a small royalty and was taxed heavily, so, you might say for a schoolboy I earned more than I could ever have dreamt of but for a businessman it would be small change.
How did your schoolmates react to your book?
Mostly supportive. A bit of piss-take was inevitable, but it was a good (local comprehensive) school so the possible bullying scenario you hear kids who are a bit “different” being subjected to never came about. I bought the school its first three computers (Acorn BBC/Bs) which went down very well with both staff and pupils. I tended to hang out with a slightly geeky set of friends in those days.
Did it make you popular with the ladies?
Cubes… sexy? Nope… not at all. A good haircut, new wardrobe and a complete change in lifestyle at 16 or 17 sorted that one though.
Yours was one of the only cube books with a person on the cover. Do you think this helped your book’s success?
Penguin specifically played on the “schoolboy whizz-kid” image to market the book, so yes it did help. They even straightened out my bowl haircut for me. How nice!
Who is that guy on the cover with you? Do you still keep in contact with him?
He’s called Jake Wherry. I sold the solution at school in a photocopy form for 50p a shot, and it was Jake who bought one and showed it to his dad, who happened to be a talent scout for Penguin Books. It was by way of a thank you for the introduction that I included him on the cover. I haven’t seen him in about 15 years or so.
Did you ever get a chance to meet Erno Rubik?
Yes, on many occasions, both during radio and TV interviews and socially. He is a charming man – very modest and an engineer of the very best kind. I have an original “Ideal” cube autographed by him, which as close as I can get to a genuine family heirloom.
Did you do any in-store appearances? Any book signings?
Lots. I toured the UK, and was invited to judge all sorts of competitions, endorse new puzzles, and do the full media circuit stuff. Publishing was pretty set in its ways back then. A book signing tour was obligatory.
How did you handle the attention at such a young age? What was your parent’s reaction to the book?
I took it as it came, as I didn’t know any different. Penguin helped keep it manageable. My parents were proud and amazed, and did what they could to help. Most of the time that meant my mum getting in the way of television crews or accidentally appearing “in shot” with a pot of tea (we had a 10-man crew from CNN in our conservatory one day. It was a huge squash and my mum was trying to feed them her home-made biscuits), but they must have found it fun too.
Any other comments on the book?
The publicity was unreal – I have loads of clippings, and I must have done over 100 interviews in three months. I also made an award-winning video, “You too can do the cube” for Thorn EMI/Goldcrest, which was a weird thing. The producer and director fell out big time because they were sleeping with the same secretary/assistant, and I ended up suing the makers for non-payment of royalties. That opened my eyes to what the video media industry is really like.
What are your hobbies and interests?
Mountain biking, finding fun things to do with my children – two boys aged 16 months and almost four. I used to play guitar (15 years, many bands, and an indie-chart single) but I have no time for that any more.
Have you given your children a cube?
Yes. Harry (the eldest) is still working on it.
I saw a cube in Hamley’s (the largest toy store in London). Do you think the cube will ever be as popular as it once was?
It is very “in vogue” with all the 80s stuff at the moment. The cube image is being used on magazine covers, posters, and even one of the Spice Girl videos. It is more of an icon than anything else. The future is on the net. Kids aren’t into brain teaser puzzles they can carry around with them, unless they are wired to the Internet or have Internet “cool” factor about them.
When was the last time someone contacted you regarding the Cube book?
I get letters from time to time. I received hundreds in the years following the release of the book. Many letters were addressed to “Patrick Bossert, London.” That is the best address I have ever had in my life. I bet it doesn’t work these days.
Did being a young, semi-celebrity shape you in any way?
It broadened my mind to what you can achieve if you have good ideas and know how to use the media. Politicians and corporates market themselves using PR companies to give the right “spin” and create a brand image. Engineers are useless at it, and wonder why engineering has such a poor image or why they don’t do well. I love engineering – I am a scientist to the core – but I have learned how to run a business and use the media to my advantage.
America is famous for the instant celebrity, and the instantly forgotten celebrity. Do you think things would have been different if you had lived in America?
I thank my lucky stars I didn’t go through the same experience in America. I love the country and have many friends there, BUT, the American media is full-on and stops at nothing. I turned down several trips and loads of merchandising deals with US companies, which included having my book (including a picture of me) printed on bathroom tissue, amongst other things. I could have made more out of those than out of the book royalties, but I’m pleased with the decisions I made, even though such frivolities would have been long-forgotten by now. Fame is transient at the best of times, regardless of the country.
Can you still solve the cube?
Yep. It takes me several minutes because I’ve forgotten all but the most basic sets of moves. Too many beers in the last 17 years I think.
Why All Booking Agents Are Evil
So many people I meet on the road have dire misconceptions about having their band booked by a third party. Some people may wonder why an article on a booking agency would be of any particular interest. With all earnest candor, I believe musicians tend to stay extremely ignorant of the concepts at work within a touring band. Though honestly, not to retrace any vital steps in my explanation, ignorance may actually be a rather ideal situation. If you can find continued existence without dealing on any business levels, there’s obviously not a more perfect position. Often this means you either have a fat trust fund or are an extremely dedicated individual that already has lots of friends and contacts. In all the tours I have ever done, I’ve never once been told when, where, or how long to go out on the road. There are people involved in independent music who provide a genuine service, and still have a love for the music itself. For whatever reasons, booking agents often take a lot of flack for their position, and many probably should. A large portion are schmooze kings and queens who have little dedication to the bands they represent, but as with any occupation (minus A&R reps), there exist some who are respectable and honest, but rarely get a chance to discuss their philosophies. One such notable individual is Boche Billions whose involvement with bands like the Jesus Lizard, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Pavement, Six Finger Satellite and Southern Culture on the Skids has laid a path to provide an outlet for extremely efficient, well planned tours, and has garnished the respect of having some of the best live acts around. Seeing as Boche probably won’t be allowed a MRR editorial column in the next 400 years, I thought I would let him defend some of his own conceptions and philosophies about the music industry. I pulled him away from his normal cartoon viewing one Saturday morning for the following exploration into the intriguing, pressure-filled world of running a company as far up in the high numbers as The Billions Corporation.
To commence, I wanted to ask you a somewhat loaded question, and surely you won’t take offense to this, but why do you think it is that all booking agents are evil? What do you think creates that perception?
I think you are referring to a relatively select group of people who have that opinion. It’s certainly not widespread throughout a giant cross section of the population because most people are unaware of our existence, and many have no opinion whatsoever.
Do you think that it’s mainly just kids that have these opinions?
I think it also spreads out into the territory of bands. I think there are a few places that you would find someone holding a strong negative opinion about booking agents. It would be either kids coming from a DIY, punk rock kind of perspective, who think that anybody who works professionally in the music business is unnecessary and parasitic. Then there are certainly plenty of agents who are disliked by promoters who work full time with them. Generally speaking they don’t dislike the concept of an agent in general, because of course an agent is necessary for them to be able to do their job properly. Nobody wants to run a club or promote shows that does business directly with bands all the time, because it’s just a very inefficient way to get things done.
Sure, without consistent contact strange things tend to happen, but with an agent there’s a bunch of unrequited love with that too. Not getting a show you want, that is.
Well, you won’t find a promoter disliking good reasonable agents. And then of course, there’s bands, and most of the time a band is going to dislike an agent for one of two reasons: either it’s because they dislike their agent, and they can’t get a better one, or they’re someone who would like to have a booking agent, and they hate some agent because they can’t get him to set up their tours.
I wanted to ask you to unveil a little bit of an origin theory here. As the story goes, this guy named Dave Viecelli that started out as an anarchist, crazy-like derisive hippie guy sleeping on Steve Albini’s floor, and then started working with the Jesus Lizard and branched out from there. How close to the truth is that?
I would say it’s not that close to the truth by any means.
That’s the story that is always told whenever I’m around third parties.
The actual story would start in ’77-’78 when I was about 16. I was pretty much a normal mainstream music listening kid from a nice home who would occasionally get into trouble. Started listening to punk rock about then, kind of moved into a very different circle of friends in high school, then started hanging around, playing guitar, getting involved in putting on local punk rock shows and things like that. I probably didn’t actually start doing anything until about 1980, but probably listening to punk rock from ’77 on.
So did you ever play in a band yourself? Did you ever have a punk rock band?
Yeah, I’ve been in punk rock bands.
What was the worst name of a punk rock band that you’ve been in? Or you can tell me the best. It might be synonymous.
Well, the last band I was ever in was called Big Fish and I was actually the singer of Big Fish.
Like Reel Big Fish without the reeling?
(Laughs) Uh no… And then there were a whole bunch of different bands. The first band that I ever played in was sort of like this weird bunch of people who were called The Bunny Game. That was probably the best band I was ever in, but I don’t remem-ber what I did. I think that was the band where we used a tiny little toy Casio organ all the time.
There’s the Hard Copy sell.
I played guitar in the Palindromes, I think.
Did you ever have a band that released a 7″ or anything?
That would be good to delve into those archives. What’s the next step in the evolution?
In 1984, Negative Approach, who were one of the first punk rock bands on Touch and Go, were about to go out on tour. They were trying to figure out who was going to go out and manage the tour because Larissa [Strickland, Laughing Hyenas] who at that time was in a band called L7, not the current L7, a much better L7, couldn’t go out on the road. She and John [Brannon] from Negative Appraoch were a longtime couple, and Corey and Lisa [Rusk, then husband and wife, co-owners of Touch & Go Records] suggested me. I wasn’t in school at that time, and not that hell bent on finishing my degree anyway. I’d been putting on shows for mostly different Canadian bands and some American bands in a couple of bars. So Larissa calls me, and it’s summer, and I had nothing better to do, and I was like “fuck yeah” because I hadn’t traveled very much. So we went out and the tour routing was kind of funny because it started in Michigan and Ohio and went northeast and down the East Coast and then after New Orleans we were supposed to go up to Memphis and then down to Texas. Along the tour, everybody was being driven crazy by John. This band had actually gone through several line-ups with this particular line-up together for maybe six months before that tour. The band decided to say “fuck you” to John in Memphis because they knew it was the closest they were going to be to home for a long time and it made more sense to go back to Detroit from Memphis than Albuquerque.
Well, that makes sense in some form of twisted logic.
So they broke up and I came back, but the guy that played bass in that band the next year joined the band Angry Red Planet, and when they started touring they called me. I started helping them with the booking because it just seemed like the natural thing to do. That was the first booking I was doing. That was in ’85.
That was all really before hooking up with any of the guys from the Jesus Lizard?
Oh yeah, long before. That was before I had even met Scratch Acid.
What’s the bridge then between Negative Approach and you meeting Scratch Acid?
The first time I met David Yow and David Sims [from Scratch Acid] was when Corey, Lisa, our friend Gil and I went to New York in ’86. I think…my memory for dates is total crap. It was the first time that I went to New York City. In late ’86 Touch and Go moved to Chicago, and Corey tried to convince me to go with them, because they knew they needed somebody to work at the label in addition to themselves. But at that time, I had a rather cozy situation going where I was a cab driver for a few years and, later a dispatcher…
…which is kind of like a booking agent.
Sort of. Anyway, a year later he was bugging me again, so in January of ’88 I move to Chicago. I moved into Corey and Lisa’s house, and helped run Touch and Go. I started all the Touch and Go direct retail accounts. I was the guy who sold the first Rapeman single. Sold the whole pressing direct only to store accounts without telling them what it was. Totally blind. I would call them up and say “I’ve got this single and you can have up to ten of them if you take all ten.”
And did most stores do it? That’s rather hard to find these days.
Oh yeah. I was just ready for a change of pace. Steve [Albini, Rapeman/Shellac] and I had become pretty good pals, shooting pool all the time and everything else. Nate [Kato, Urge Overkill] moved out, so there was this empty room, so I lived there for three years.
I don’t want to turn this into the Boche vs. Steve Albini article, but you guys had a falling out.
We have not spoken to each other in four or five years.
Without too much slinging of the mud, what happened?
It’s hard for me to kind of cut it short. He does a lot of nice things for people, and I can say a lot of great things about him. However, he can find a reason for anyone who makes money in the industry to be evil, except him and Corey Rusk. Somehow, Steve thinks that what I do is dishonorable, but if anyone presses him for ideas on booking agents, I think he would probably recommend me before anybody else, at least he did for a long, long time. There’s absolutely no problems between me and Corey. I don’t know what it is, [Albini] knows how I do business and he knows enough people that I know…
…that he would have seen the respect and dedication.
Yeah, he should know. He can’t think that I do scummy things. A very touchy subject was my negotiating the deal for the Jesus Lizard when they decided to leave Touch and Go. Steve was heard as saying that he felt that the way I conducted myself was extremely fair and honorable and very respect-able. We were very mindful of Corey and his opinions and we kept Corey very much involved. It wasn’t just “hey buddy, so long.”
Corey’s always told me if you’re going to have a booking agent, Billions is the one that will handle everything honestly.
Right, that’s kind of it. I don’t know why [Albini] thinks that somehow the service I perform is less worthy or necessary than the service he performs. It’s the same thing. A band can learn to record themselves just like they can learn to book themselves. Granted, it’s a more technical, higher skill.
From Boche who was doing punk rock shows in 1984 to the Boche now, what do you think your feelings of that person would have about what you’re doing in present function with Billions? Do you think you would have had a strange reaction to a person like that?
Well, my guess is if the guy I was in ’80 saw the guy I am now, I would probably harbor some of the same suspicions that some of the kids you referred to harbor now. The idea concerning how someone gets to be that “big”, you know how it happens. It’s luck. It’s hard work. It’s a lot of different things. It’s being able to have good relationships with good people who you enjoy working with. I’ve been extremely fortunate in that area. We just don’t have episodes of people freaking out and people firing people and people running all over the place suing people. It just doesn’t happen. By and large, 99% of the time, it just goes nice and smooth, and everybody’s happy most of the time.
Do you think that a lot of booking agents out there don’t really ever get their shit together enough to be able to sustain a decent reputation? You see a lot of new agents get 20 bands in two weeks and then just fall apart.
Yeah, there’s many ways that you can basically screw up. A lot of people decide that they want to be a booking agent and that it’s an attractive thing to look at in many respects. Booking agents, in many respects, are in short supply. I would also say that good workable established managers are in short supply, too. But, there’s a million record labels out there, and there aren’t enough booking agents, so when someone begins booking, what they quickly realize is they’ve got to make a certain amount of money to pay the rent. If you’ve got a bunch of bands that don’t have anything going for them and they’re going out playing $100 shows, you realize the only way to make money is if you do it in volume. I need to have 20 or 30 bands. I would have never thought that we would, but we have 43 on the national roster. Three years ago, I would have told you we’d never have that many, but the thing is that with Tom [Windish], Ali [Hedrick], and Meggean [Ward, all Billions employees], and with this new software that we’re using, we have built our abilities to handle work beyond what we could have been five years ago, even technologically.
Is it that great concept of technology not providing more free time and relaxation, but just allowing you to do more work?
Yes, that’s it. I had a meeting a few days ago where [Windish] was talking about expecting to be much busier this year than last, particularly because he is now going to be managing Low. I said, “Tom, to do this job right, you never know how much more work it’s going to be. You’ve got to be more cautious with your time than ever before in terms of any new bands you take on, because this is going to take a lot of time, and I will not have you doing this in the name of this company.” When we get in a more settled atmostsphere and find that we have more time, and all systems are running smoothly, let’s say six months from now, I don’t necessarily want to run out and pack that time up again. I’d like to maintain some flexibility. Instead of using this time to book more bands as well as book bands now, I’d rather reinvest that time into finding more ways to spend time helping the other bands we work with now. Let’s stop doing some things by rote practice, reexamine some things, and utilize some new ideas for our existing clients. Let’s increase the quality instead. We just don’t need to have more clients. If we can better manage our time and find more good things to do with it, that’s great. I don’t think we need to have more clients.
I may be getting too far from the central radius here, but it’s astounding that say with Ali, she works all day, then a lot of times with the volume and frequency of shows in Chicago by Billions bands, she could end up doing band related crap from 10 in the morning until 1 at night.
Oh absolutely, and that’s the thing a lot of people don’t realize. You hear people saying “oh there’s that booking agent guy, always hanging out with the band backstage drinking.” Yeah, you’re enjoying it to some extent, but it is part of your work. With the notable exception of this year’s New Year’s Eve, I never stay home when someone we book is in town. This New Year’s Eve I stayed home, but we had so many New Year’s Eve shows going on I couldn’t have been everywhere at once anyway. So I decided instead to honor my wife Theresa’s wishes and had this dinner party that we normally do, but we didn’t do last year because we all went to D.C. Otherwise, I go out.
Getting back more into this stigma that people have with independent music when connected with booking agents, does it bother you at all if you are indeed ostracized by the whole punk rock, all ages, Maximum Rock and Roll scene?
You’d like to be able to have relationships with as many people there’s reason for you to have relationships with. I don’t find that I run into the problem where I want to do something with some kind of DIY all ages scene in a particular town with Pegboy or Man or Astro-Man?. That doesn’t happen very much. I think that sometimes with those people it can be frustrating when you do try to set up shows. I’ve got no problem with people having different perceptions or having values that are maybe not particularly well informed, but what bothers me is when people don’t do things well. That’s what a lot of people don’t realize. A lot of people think the big promoter is an asshole or a scumbag. Just because he makes a living off what he does doesn’t make him a scumbag. If you’re going to do something professionally, you’re probably going to need to get paid for it. That doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. Without the time or dedication, it won’t do it so well. Like Seth Hurwitz [a DC promoter], for example, is a hell of a character, and I’m sure there are people who think he is an unconscionable prick. There are certainly people in the DC scene that think he’s Satan, but the fact is that he does business 95% of the time honorably. We have a good relationship with him. What we like about him is that he knows how to put on shows right and he knows how to put together a club. And that stuff is valuable because we do our share of holding kid’s hands through promoting shows, but what you end up getting out of that whole punk rock attitude is a kid who ends up thinking that everything’s cool, everybody’s a good buddy, and nothing’s at stake and they go do things irresponsibly. They take one show they can’t really handle and then they bail on their responsibilities. They don’t live up to their agreements, and you know that happens a lot. That’s frustrating because my job is not to deal with people who are gonna think I’m a cool, popular guy. My job is to make good shows happen for bands.
What do you tell a kid when he calls up and says “Hi, I’m a huge fan of the Jesus Lizard, and I’ve got this armory, and we always have great shows, every band always likes us. We had The Oblivians, Unwound, whoever, but I can only afford like $300.” What do you tell a kid at that point, who seems very honest and enthusiastic?
In some cases, I’m not going to be able to talk to someone right away, and they may leave a couple messages and we certainly always take down their information, and whenever I can talk to them I do. If I picked up the phone and someone said that I would tell them the band’s situation. For example, the band’s not touring for six months, or they’re touring and the show in your town’s already done, or I would ask them to tell me about their situation. One of the problems is that we might have an established relationship with somebody else in their town and that makes it kind of difficult to just suddenly, after five or eight years, to go give them to someone else. However, I’ll take down their information, and see what we can do. If they stick around and are doing this for a while, we’ll probably be doing some shows together one way or another. But so many of those guys come and go in a couple of months and I’m never anxious to jump out, unless this guy fills a hole, then I’m not going to be anxious to do a show with a guy who’s young and obviously of limited means and limited experience in the first couple of months he’s trying to do shows, because he may well not be there by the time the show happens. And that’s the thing you worry about. When it comes to money, it’s just a very pragmatic approach. If someone says they can only afford $300, and I’m confident that situation is the right place for the band, production is decent, the room is decent, then as long as they’re cutting me a good deal on the back end, and I’m confident the band is going to draw there. I will certainly say, “The Jesus Lizard rarely plays for a guarantee of less than $1500 and it’s usually $2000 to $4000.” I won’t very often say that there’s no way, because there are still situations in which we still book door deals on occasion. If someone says to me that I can have a $500 guarantee plus 80% of the gross after $1250 or just have 90% of the door with no guarantee, if I know the band is going to fill that room, I’m taking the 90%. You don’t have the security of the guarantee, but if you have faith in your ability to draw, and you know the promoter’s going to do his job to let people know you’re coming so that it’s no big secret, then you go that way. Assume the risk. I have no problem assuming risk, you just need to be able to know what risk you’re assuming. Some of our best shows have been from kids with extreme enthusiasm.
Since we’re talking about punk rock aesthetics, why should all bands play all ages shows for 5 dollar door cover or less? Why do you think people have that attitude, and do you think it’s relevant for all your bands?
Again, I think the key is that you’re talking about a very small segment of the population that holds those beliefs. It comes from bands like Fugazi. There is nothing wrong with doing shows on that kind of basis. I have total respect for an operation like that. It can work. What people have to realize is that most bands that are really good are full-time endeavors. There aren’t very many bands who tour on a regular basis and who put out records on a regular basis that are of any value whatsoever. Most bands take three weeks off from their day job every year to tour. Being a musician, you’re an artist. You’re full-time, it’s a real thing. When you’re a kid it’s easy, rock ‘n’ roll is one big party. As if anyone who gets to be in a rock band is just incredibly lucky. And in some respects it’s true. It’s a hell of a lot better than a lot of jobs. But it is a job. There is work involved, and there are down sides to it. It isn’t just one big party. I think that’s where people get hung up. As a kid you think, “God, can you imagine if you could be in a rock band and that’s all you had to do?” So you kind of think people should already be apologizing. If, on top of that, you add the, “we think our ticket price should go up and we should be making more money and we should do this and we should do that,” I think some people perceive that as insult to injury.
Yeah, definitely. It’s the amount of bands out there trying to get shows and exist. It’s often difficult to make anything happen yourself.
I don’t view it that way. I see how hard people work, and obviously some work harder than others. Does the Jesus Lizard work harder than Pegboy? Yeah. There are differences in those respects.
Boche, what band in the world could you say that against Pegboy and not have it be true?
Uh, that’s pretty tough. I mean there may be a couple here and there. (laughs)
Now, I’m really gonna get beat up. I shouldn’t have ever said that one. They’re all big, ugly guys.
You know the title they wear at Touch and Go? “The Laziest Band Ever.”
Before Pegboy squashes me for making fun of them, do you think there is an inherent problem with major labels? The Jesus Lizard and Southern Culture both drew extremely disparate channels, but both have been kind of brought up and weaned on independent music. Do you think that there indeed is a market beyond that initial independent level at its most extreme? Do you think there is a potential for bands who start on those channels to break out into much wider outlets?
While staying independent?
Well, no, not even staying independent, but do you think there is an appeal for things like that in more mainstream music?
I think that any number of bands cans start up through “independent channels.” Southern Culture and The Jesus Lizard are very different bands. In many respects, they are very similar people in that they are by and large adults who have worked hard and who have reasonable expectations to responsibly carry out what they need to do. They both started out on indies and are now with majors, but had very different experiences with indies. Actually, that’s not entirely true. Scratch Acid had a horrible initial experience with Rabid Cat, and ended up on Touch and Go. As everyone knows, Touch and Go is the greatest punk rock oriented independent label ever. On the other hand, some bands have had a long series of bad experiences with labels which were just ineffectual or went out of business right away or lied to them or whatever else. By and large, Geffen has dealt with Southern Culture more graciously and more respectfully than Safe House ever did. As far as audiences go, it depends. For example, Albini would make fun whenever Rick Sims (The Didjits) would be agitated at Touch and Go trying to creatively market the band. Steve would just mock him. He would honestly say “do you think there’s anybody out there who could possibly like the Didjits who don’t already know them and have heard them?” I would just stare at him and say “yeah.” Steve seemed to think that anybody who would like the Didjits is already in the core audience reached by Touch and Go routinely. I think that there are all kinds of bands that could conceivably sell ten or twenty thousand records whose music just isn’t available enough or promoted well enough to do that. It’s like this weird thing where Steve likes to think that all the good people with diverse musical tastes in the world are a subset of the population that exactly mirrors him. If you look at the Didjits and Green Day, can you really honestly say the Didjits couldn’t have done 10% of what Green Day did? I don’t think so. So who’s right and who’s wrong? Is the massive popularity of Green Day a passing thing? No one said that if you looked at the five thousand hardcore Didjits fans. I surely wouldn’t argue that if the Didjits got a half million fans that all of them would be as dedicated and stick around as long as the five thousand. However, I do think it is possible to interest many more people in it. So for the Didjits to want to go from selling 5 or 10 thousand to selling 50 or 100 thousand wasn’t futile or stupid. I don’t think that all marketing is trickery. Everybody does something that is marketing. It’s a question of where you want to arbitrarily draw your lines. If you really want to be puritanical about it, Man or Astro-Man? has got all that stage shit, and all that crap and they do all that bullshit. Well, what is it? A-it’s fun, B-it’s part of the entertainment and C-it’s marketing. It’s something that identifies these people as purveyors of a unique entertainment product.
How is your relationship with major labels? A lot of people are interested in the bands and keep up with the Billions roster. I know the first Southern Culture record did great. In fact, it possibly did better than anyone expected, but the second record doesn’t seem like it’s received the same attention. With the Jesus Lizard, it seems like there was almost more interest in the band before they had signed and put out a record than there has been since they actually released it.
I think both are different situations. Southern Culture’s new record is actually selling faster than Dirt Track Date, but it doesn’t look like it is. Dirt Track Date had been out for like three and a half months actually, and it hadn’t sold anything more than about fifteen thousand copies and we have scanned thirty three thousand total. In the first three and a half months, Plastic Seat Sweat has sold between forty five to fifty thousand copies. What happened is this really fucked-up thing that goes on in the music industry where Southern Culture got lots of national press last year because it was obvious that the band was this well-loved underdog that was on the rise and was selling some records. People were excited to write about the band. Now people listen to the record and like it and say that they’d like to write about the record, but now Southern Culture has got to prove that they can sell records because they can’t afford to go out on the line with a positive piece about a band that’s not going to sell. And that’s what goes on. So we have this problem where we haven’t been able to get national press precisely because they were underdogs before and got lots of press and now press and radio are sitting back with their arms folded. It’s ridiculous. And, of course, it means that it’s a longer, harder, much more difficult road. Southern Culture is definitely in one big fight with Geffen right now, but that’s part of what goes on. You have to remember that the major labels are all about business. There is no puritanical relationship with the label. And whether you can be friends, it’s all about whether the label is equipped and skilled to accomplish what you would like to do with your music. There are a couple of important things to realize about major labels. First, do not forget that they are funda-mentally a company that is trying to turn music into a profit. They are primarily interested in either flat-out profit or bands that will enhance their reputation. Also, you’ve got to understand that they’re not there to be your buddy. Now given that, I don’t think that major labels are just stocked with all these disloyal, ne’er do well bloodsuckers. There are lots of people on majors who develop real relationships and who really do get excited about some music on a personal level. Are there people who just sort of drift from job to job as the offers change? Yes, of course there are, but there are also other reasonable people who you can deal with on a reasonable basis. And, like anything else, it’s not black and white, it’s gray.
Do you think there would be a point where you would tell a major label that it’s a headache to work with them?
In Southern Culture’s case, no. There will never be any regret for having signed a major label deal. Dirt Track Date has now scanned over 225,000 copies, and there’s just no way they would have done that without going to the majors. Let’s say that Plastic Seat Sweat stops dead at 50,000. That’s still enough to keep them touring which is where they really make money. There’s just no way it’s a bad situation. With the Jesus Lizard, it’s a different thing. Certainly, timing-wise there was a problem with Shot. Again, it’s a press thing. The Jesus Lizard don’t get radio, so what they are going to get is press. They’ve always received great press and for seven years, lots of the same big and small press have said mostly the same great things about them. So when they switched to Capitol, some people thought there was a perceived hypocrisy there because people thought David Yow had said things that got twisted into this false belief that the Lizard were like Fugazi, Jr. And they never said that. Basically, what they said was, at the time, there’s no place they’d rather be than Touch and Go. There was no place that made more business sense, but we got to the point where it made more sense to be somewhere else. They were hitting their heads on the ceiling. They weren’t going to be able to sell more records on Touch and Go because they needed to be revitalized. They needed to stir up, and make a record that was a little different. A new way to market the band to a different audience. So that’s the reason we went with Capitol. Has the Jesus Lizard made more money in the last two years than if they stayed with Touch and Go? Yes. So, you know it can be a mistake? No. Did Shot sell worse than the last Touch and Go records? Maybe very slightly. Basically about the same. It looks a lot smaller because you’re playing in a much bigger pond. And the difficulty was instead of the press coming out and saying the same great things, it was like oh, here’s the band that said they would never sign on a major label and so people thought the Jesus Lizard suddenly shat in their own soup. A lot of the music press is just copycat bullshit. Now, I still can not think Shot is a bad record. It’s still very simple, very clean, it’s just cleaner, it’s a technically better recording than Steve ever managed. If you listen to say Head or even Liar, you’re dealing with a little Yugo compared to a Lincoln. It’s a bigger, brighter, more expansive, more ballsy recording. There was an aesthetic to the stuff Steve did, but it was an aesthetic that was carried out despite technical mediocrity. They would never have been able to make this new record with Andy Gill [Gang of Four] if they were on Touch and Go. The money wouldn’t have been there.
You started off as Billions and Billions, was that from the Carl Sagan book or McDonald’s?
No, it was actually sort of a joke. Boche is a name I’ve had forever and ever, Billions was like a nickname Nate [Kato, Urge Overkill] gave to me not long after I moved to Chicago because I liked to play cards and go to the horse track (I don’t do that stuff much anymore, but I used to do it a lot) so he thought it made them seem more romantic and intriguing and he thought Billions would be a good gambling nickname for me. So it sort of became this other nickname, and then it sort of became a full name [Boche Billions] and Billions and Billions actually became a father and son company like Smith and Smith. That was actually the way it started. That was actually the initial gag, but even I forgot it was that in time. It just became this kind of dumb name so when I incorporated I thought, “well, I want to change it, but then again I don’t want to lose the one name we’ve sort of established some sort of track record with.”
I’m glad that at least this interview allows you an opportunity to state your philosophies directly.
The other thing you might want to put in is the fact that I get between 30 and 60 packages in the mail every week. Bands that want to tour with our bands, more frequently bands that want us to book them, that kind of thing. I say there isn’t a week that I don’t get at least 30 or 40 packages and often more than that. I do listen to at least a couple of tracks off everything that I get. I really want to stay connected to the possibility of some unknown band doing something great. It’s just it takes so much time…I may have the stuff six months before I get to it, because if I spent time listening to each and every one of those sixty packages every week, guess what, I can’t do any work for the bands, and if I write letters to all those people or take those people’s phone calls again, I can’t do my job for the clients I represent.
What about if a band personally invited you to a show?
There would have to be a reason for me to do it. So some things get to the head of the list if they come from a manager we already work with recommends. Like the Quadrajets. Did it take me six months to listen to them? No. It was recommended by somebody we worked with. People have to realize it may be a while before we listen to it and if they call I’m not going to pick up the phone call. I already work on the laptop at home evenings and weekends. I only have so much time. You can’t blame people for not understanding, nobody can see how busy I am. You know, they think that’s the only package you got that week.
Everyone likes you when things proceed flawlessly in the background, but when you fuck up, not even the hot dog boy will be your friend. Hey, speaking of fucking up, our last directions to the Grog Shop in Cleveland were totally screwed up.
Yeah, alright, I’ll see what I can do about getting that fixed.
A lot of people don’t realize what’s going on with booking a band. For instance, I know when I had just gotten out of high school, living on my own, working, paying my rent, I booked a band from Florida and they needed a $250 guarantee and I thought that was the most presumptuous, absurd request in the greater existence of evolved man. I didn’t have to answer to anything, just get by making salads, running sound and going to school. I just sat around watching fucking science fiction movies and didn’t really have to deal with reality of sustaining myself as a musician. But I do hope that some people see the logic behind running a band efficiently and financially, within the realms of screwing no one over. I really think the business side of independent music, if that’s not a contradiction in terms, is based on ignorance, and I think the corporate record industry likes to keep it that way. Bands should learn the business side of things if for no other reason than to know who’s screwing them over and how often. I really think it’s the most pure when a band can function and control all facets of the bands to do, but from my feeble attempts, it’s been impossible to do this and not have other elements, like practicing and playing, not completely falter.
The Most Rock Thing I’ve Ever Done
The one thing that I had to recount countless times while getting this article together was the most rock thing that I did. Well, here it is in all of its glory. Yep, I now dust off the mothballs from Chunklet 8 (four years ago, fer Chrissakes!) and recount what happened to me one magical weekend back in July of 1994. It was the 5th Anniversary of Merge Records and there was one helluva party being held at the Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill. And hey, I’m not one to be scared of a drive out of state (I mean, what’s 8 hours anyway?) so I packed up and went to North Carolina to make a complete doofus out of myself. And wouldn’t you know it, I wasn’t the only out-of-towner who decided to show up. You guessed it, MTV’s very own Tabitha Sorren was in the hiz-owse complete with film crew. The Mergefest was winding down day number two on Saturday night, I was jacked up on cheap beer, and coincidentally, I had my tape recorder on me! The minx extraordinaire and airhead cum journalist for Generation X was standing no less than five feet from me. For the sake of my readers, I went in for the kill.
Uh, excuse me, are you on MTV?
Can I ask you a couple of questions?
Sure, but you’ll have to make it quick, my ride is leaving soon.
No problem. First off, do you have to share a dressing room with that Pauly Shore guy?
Does he get on your nerves?
He gets on mine.
(look of disinterest)
So what’s the deal with that guy you do the news with? Is his name Don Loder?
Yeah, Bob Loder, is he a dick or what?
I mean, I watch him and it’s like I want to reach through the TV and smack the ever loving shit out of him.
He’s very intelligent.
Yeah, yeah, who cares how smart he is, he acts like a jerk.
(another look of disinterest)
So do you get a cut of the Beavis and Butthead action or do you….
What do you mean?
Well, do they give you free Beavis pillows or anything like that?
It’d be cool if they did. I like Beavis and Butthead, do you?
Do you have anything else to ask? I’ve got to be going.
Okay, one last question. I heard about the pencil rumor.
Yeah, you and that guy from Pearl Jam, was it? You were doing it with him and you asked him to stick a pencil up your butt. What’s up with that?
(stands there for a second, gets a look of horror on her face, immediately turns, runs to the MTV van and is whisked away)
After interviewing Ms. Sorren and making my way back to my place in Athens, I found myself talking on the telephone to a friend of mine in Chicago about the Tabitha incident that following week. Before one word about it left my mouth, he asked me “Did you ask her about the pencil up the butt?” As you can see, the “rumor” (nee’ legend) is pretty wide spread about Tabitha Sorren’s number two and a number two. Looking back on it, I wonder “What in God’s name was I thinking?!”, but hey, Pabst Blue Ribbon will do strange things to guy like me. And yes, you’re right, I could’ve been nice to her, but then again, I could’ve hopped into the MTV van with her to see if the pencil thing was true, but I’m no idiot!
“No, because my ears are extremely valuable to me so I need them. I need them to fulfill my underground profession. And my ears hurt because I’ve been to too many shows where it’s been too loud. I wear them only when I’m seeing a show”
Jason Knight, The Azusa Plane
“Yes, and I wear them because I value my hearing because it’s most important to my profession and my well being and health as a human in general.”
Quentin Stoltzfus, The Azusa Plane
“Pete Townshend didn’t use them, I’m not using them.”
Jerry Wick, Gaunt
“Well, Henry you mentioned that to me earlier and it’s a hard question to answer because many years ago, I said they were when I went to alot of shows. And I’d see these guys wearing earplugs all the time and it used to piss me off. I’d say “Why are these geeks wearing earplugs?” Then about 8 years later, my ears ring every night when I go to sleep. So now I know why those guys wore earplugs. I still don’t wear earplugs. Some times I put rolled up napkins in my ears if it’s too much and I want to be close to hear the band. So I think you are sort of a pussy if you wear earplugs but if you don’t, you end up losing your hearing and it’s not worth it. So I recommend wearing the, even though you’re a pussy if you wear them. If you’re 17 years old and wear earplugs, you’re a pussy. If you’re 30 years old and wear earplugs, that’s okay. And that is the definitive answer.”
Jason DiEmilio, The Azusa Plane
“They’re for smart pussies.”
Chris Rice, 27, consultant
“Yes, because then anybody else can’t enjoy your music although I use them so I must be a pussy.”
Sean Ward, 23, cheese steak engineer
“Definitely. They’re just lame. There’s just no excuse for them.”
James Apt, Six Finger Satellite
“No, they’re for the weak.”
Jerimiah Frances Ryan, Six Finger Satellite
“Well, they’re for pussies with hearing.”
Rob Thornton, 27, abstracter/indexer
“Practical pussies. The Who’s the loudest band in the world and said “Hope I die before I get old,” right? No need for earplugs.”
Christian Eglund, 30, salesman
“It depends where you put ’em.”
Ben Goldberg, Ba Da Bing Records
“I’m wearing them. No. Earplugs are smart.”
Tim Ross, 23, jack-of-all-trades
“No, I think they’re for your ears. You’re supposed to put them in your ears.”
John Gibbons, Bardo Pond
“No, because loud music damages your ears. I have tinnitus. My ears ring 24 hours a day. When I go to bed at night, I hear this enormous high pitched squealing noise so I need them. I damaged my ears back in high school playing in the garage. Some people don’t get that kind of damage easily and some people do. I should’ve had the protection.”
Bill Kellum, VHF Records
“I have a bad habit of not wearing earplugs when I should. I wouldn’t say they’re for sissies. I’d say they’re for people who are concerned about a very real thing which is losing your hearing and I’m terrible with it. No they’re not for sissies. They’re for practical people.”
Mark Dwinell, Bright
“It’s your choice, I guess. I didn’t consider myself a sissy. I wear them on the side that faces the amp. If I’m seeing a band up close I wear them. So no, they’re not for sissies.”
Chuck Johnson, Spatula
“I have to wear them because my ears hurt more than they used to due to certain sound sources. I don’t know if that means that I have the beginnings of tinnitus but they hurt more than they used to so that’s one reason I wear them. The other reason I wear them is because I say “What?” a lot more than I used to. And the third reason is because I play so much louder than nearly anyone else it would just be silly to not wear earplugs. If the stage sounds good enough, and I can get off without hurting myself, I won’t wear them. The earplugs I’ve been wearing lately, I used to have a $100 pair of earplugs that I lost and I’ve worked myself down to wet toilet paper and that seems to be just as good. The fourth thing about earplugs is that even if you have these obnoxious looking earplugs coming out of your ears and you’re on stage and everybody’s watching you saying “Man, look at those earplugs” if the band you’re in kicks so much fucking ass that nobody else could even touch what you’re doing, then the earplugs thing is that much better.”
Damon Che, Don Caballero
“The only kind of earplugs that are for pussies are wax earplugs because if you’re at a Mighty, Mighty Bosstones show moshing and it’s really hot in the club, they’ll melt.”
Beck Bruzette (Eric Topolsky), 19, Storm & Stress
“Yes, but I’ll take that back when I’m sixty.”
“They’re for sissies, basically. If you just don’t wash your ears and allow some earwax to build up, it’s natural earplugs in itself, and it’s got to be better for you than plastic in your ears. Spending more money for acoustic earplugs which filter out certain frequencies is a scam. Just put some cotton in your ears.”
Russell “Tripp” Lamkins III, Grifters
“No. I wear earplugs, and it’s kind of lame being around people that have already lost the ability to be subtle because they can’t hear.”
Lance Bangs, 25
“Yeah, they are for the most part. They cut down on frequencies and you can’t really hear what’s being played. I don’t mind earplugs if it’s so overwhelmingly loud that you’re hurting yourself. If it just sounds like muffled bass noises on stage, I don’t like them at all.”
Chris Arrison, Trinket
“No, sir. Whenever I have any degree of money, I’m going to invest in a hearing aid company because everybody in our generation is going to be stone deaf very soon. I never wear earplugs but it’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that they’re real hard to hold on to. So if anything, to slam earplug wearers, it’s for those who are anal enough to hold onto them.”
Tara Jane O’Neill, Sonora Pine
“No, no, no. They’re very nice. Because just before we started recording this record in April, I had this strange buzzing in my ears. I was driving in the car and it was like a bee was in my ear. It really bothered me and it persisted. I get really nervous if I don’t wear earplugs because [that sound] may be permanent and that would suck to have that in your ear for the rest of your life.”
Kristin Sue Thompson, Tsunami
“No. If I hadn’t worn earplugs with all the bands I’ve played in I’d definitely not be able to hear you right now. I had to wear earplugs in Pussy Galore. Banging on that fucking metal. Are you kidding me? I didn’t wear them for one day, and I couldn’t hear for one month.”
Bob Bert, Chrome Cranks
“Yes. Unquestionably. Now what were you saying again?”
Patrick Thompson, 29
“No. I always wear them when I see other bands and some times when I play. I don’t like loud music.”
“No. If you want to wear them, then you should feel free to wear them without being labeled a sissy. However, if you wear them, you’re a total faggot, but that’s different though. Sissy is a guy who will go to prison and sell his ass for favors. A faggot is a guy who likes it any way.”
Jim Wilbur, Superchunk
“You’re damn right.”
Chris Lopez, The Rock*A*Teens
“Yes, I wear them every day.”
Jason Kourkounis, The Delta 72
“Yes, and I wear them.”
Matt Jencick, Hurl
“Earplugs are absolutely for the biggest pussy ass motherfuckers available and I am among those ranks because I would be completely deaf instead of mostly deaf right now.”
Noah Leger, Hurl
“No, you need them. Please wear them to all shows except for stuff that’s not amplified. But for rock and roll that’s amplified, kids, wear earplugs. Because even the musicians making the music are wearing earplugs when they possibly can.”
Will Hart, The Olivia Tremor Control
“Absolutely not. You’re a sissy if you don’t wear earplugs because you have some machismo attitude that says my ears can take this kind of pounding, but in actuality they can’t. Unless you want to hear Tony Conrad forever. And you will hear one note of an orchestra for the rest of your life until it drives you mad and you jump in the river. So if you have any sort of intelligence or brain cells, you’ll wear earplugs.”
Bill Doss, The Olivia Tremor Control
“Two words: I’m deaf.”
Eric Harris, The Olivia Tremor Control
“I think so, yeah. I don’t wear them.”
Tim Gane, Stereolab
“No, just look at Pete Townsend, is he a sissy? No, I don’t think so. Try playing through two full stack Hi-Watts and tell me you don’t want earplugs.
Jerome J. Jerome, Vineland
“Oooh, that’s a tough one. I’m gonna say that sometimes I’m a sissy and obvoiusly so. I wear them sometimes so I don’t know what else to say. If you’re in my band, you’re not a sissy because you have earplugs. It just means you have a little bit of a brain. Three guitars? I mean seriously….”
Pudd Sharp, Quadrajets
“Yes, absolutely. Along with condoms and prosthetic limbs.”
Zowie Fenderblast, Lee Harvey Oswald Band
“Yes, they are. Because only sissies wear earplugs. That answer was so lame.”
“No, earplugs are good.”
Andrew Rieger, Elf Power
“No, earplugs are for longevity of hearing.”Chris Freeman? (Pansy Division)”No, because we wouldn’t hear anything without earplugs so we have earplugs for two years now and it’s very important.”Marcos (Notwist)”Look at the back of the latest Misfits album, the drummer’s wearing earplugs. Bright yellow earplugs. What a fucking ninny. To get your photo taken with earplugs is a bigger catastrophe. And a Misfits album?! You really have to feel the music, and you can’t do it with earplugs. Playing loud music with earplugs is like bunjee jumping.”
Paul Chavez, Tranquil
“No, the thing about it is it’s a choice you make. Listening to a small amount of noise is as valid as listening to alot of noise and if yo listen to what’s actually happening in something like Oval or Microstoria, the sound that they make is actually a very small sound because it’s so filtered. So that’s a whole different way of listening to noise. You can make a choice: Listen to something really loud with earplugs and you only hear certain frequencies and that’s a sort of interesting way of listening to sound.”
Sean O’Hagan, High Llamas
The first time I heard a synthesizer was on the Beatles’ Abbey Road album. I had heard about this new instrument, although I didn’t quite understand what it was supposed to sound like. Bubbling along in the background of the song “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” was a buzzy little synth line that sounded a little like a saxophone, but I knew that it was not. Later I Iearned that the synthesizer in question was none other than the Moog, developed only a few years earlier by a Dr. Robert Moog (rhymes with “Vogue” in case you still don’t know!), and was the forerunner of the synthesizers that would forever change the sound of rock music. To this day, that album features some of the more tasteful examples of a device that has been abused and misused more than any other, with perhaps the exception of the electric guitar. Over the last 30 years, hundreds of flavors of these pesky electric sound boxes have come and gone, with the current crop featuring innards as sophisticated as the most modern computers. Ironically, bands from mainstream to garage have recently begun to turn their back on modern digital equipment (more on this distinction later) and are now using the old original analog synths in studio and on stage.
The name “synthesizer” is a little limiting, because it implies that the device merely imitates natural sounds. The earliest synthesizers actually sounded anything but natural; they created totally unique tones, and it was not until the late 1970’s that devices evolved that could do a decent job of tricking your ears into thinking that an electric piano was being played and not a digital music box. Excluding the vibrating monster movie sounds of the Theremin (used from the 1920’s on), the first true synthesizers were cobbled together in the 1960’s by a bunch of electrical engineers more interested in electronic specs than rock and roll. Don Buchla in 1963 and Robert Moog in 1965 developed a series of components with names like Voltage Controlled Filters and Voltage Controlled Oscillators that could be connected together to make sounds that were really “out of this world.” These modules were bolted together in panels and interconnected with long cables, the end result looking more like a telephone switchboard than a musical instrument. The eventual addition of a keyboard to this behemoth is what changed everything because it made the thing playable. The sounds it made were totally new: ultra deep bass tones with a raspy buzz, warbling filter sweeps, outer space blips and bleeps, and dive-bombing tone bursts that went from subsonic to supersonic with the twist of a knob.
In 1966, the real problem was that nobody really knew what to do with the damn thing. Moog and associates were engineers, not rock stars (or even business men). Eventually, Moog prototypes were peddled to recording studios, and bands began to discover them and tinker around with them on recordings. Along with the Fab Four, British groups like Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones started adding synth tracks on records that began to be categorized as “psychedelic.” The sounds reached the public, and musicians everywhere took notice. Originally, Moogs were in the hands of only mainstream musicians, since they were expensive and unwieldy. A full-blown modular Moog synthesizer was 4 to 8 feet wide, 4 to 5 feet tall, and weighed about as much as refrigerator, so they rarely were seen outside the recording studio. With every new invention comes the fallout, and this came in the form of the “Moog Records” of the late ’60s. While a few of these were outstanding for their quality of performance and originality (e.g., Walter/Wendy Carlos’ Switched-On Bach and A Clockwork Orange soundtrack), most were such pedestrian garbage as “Big Band Moog,” “Moog Indigo,” and “Music to Moog By.” Once modular synths became readily available, thousands of these recordings were made to capitalize on the latest gimmick, the synthesizer. Neither before nor since has a single musical instrument created its own category, and one that has been so heavily abused! For every rock group like Roxy Music or Pink Floyd that used the synth tastefully, there were the abusers that blasted the listener with pompous, overblown sound effects and the dreaded Moog solo. Witness the recordings of Patrick Moraz (Yes), Utopia (Todd Rundgren) and the dreaded Styx for examples of synth rock that does not stand the test of time.
Within a few years, a whole industry of new-and-improved synths emerged, with many brands, sizes and prices available to the adventurous musician or studio owner. Moog was joined by names like EMS, Oberheim, and ARP, among others, and along with them came a whole new breed of music. Bands like Tonto’s Expanding Headband, Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream (the latter of which exists today as purveyors of tame new age slop) began recording albums and performing live using only synthesizers. The performances and recordings tended to be rambling, spacey constructions of every sound these mad composers could squeeze from their cable-laden panels of synthetic instrumentation. Thus, the moniker “space rock” was born. This genre thrived heavily in Europe of the early 1970’s, a direct descendent of the psychedelic and drug-culture music of the ’60s.
In the mid- to late 70’s, “improvements” in the synth continued, especially in the area of size. Moog and ARP began making small, portable, performance-oriented synths that were affordable and pretty easy to use. They did away with patch cables and bulky panels and created instruments like the classic Minimoog and ARP Odyssey that could be taken to a gig like a guitar or organ. Bands began incorporating the synth as a major instrument along with the guitar, bass, and drums. Groups like Uriah Heep, Gentle Giant, and Yes were cranking out what was called Progressive Rock, or Art Rock. The very nature of the synth, with its outer space styling and cool electronic waveforms was a perfect complement to the cerebral notions of these early ’70s Euro-rockers. Even old mod-rockers like the Who used the ARP to good effect. Peter Townsend’s use of the ARP 2600 on Who’s Next is an example of excellent synth work that enhances and drives the music without calling undue attention to itself. Jazz musicians also employed ARPs and Moogs: witness Weather Report and the Mahavishnu Orchestra (featuring future soundtrack guru Jan Hammer on Minimoog) as groups that helped create the style known as fusion. Hammer, in fact, became the Jimi Hendrix of the Minimoog, touring with his own guitarless power trio and blowing minds from coast to coast with his crazed virtuostic solos. Hammer’s note-bending style that imitated rock guitarists is widely mimicked to this day.
ENTER THE JAPANESE
While ARP and Moog enjoyed market dominance for many years, a new breed of electronic keyboard was brewing across the Pacific. Yamaha unveiled the DX7 synthesizer in 1982 and offered the musician the first affordable digital synthesizer. Up until now, we’ve been talking about analog synths, which are to synthesizers to what LPs are to CDs. The DX7 featured a wide selection of sounds and was programmable – a first. With it, the musician could craft her/his own sounds from a bank of controls that replace the buttons and sliders of the old analog synths. This also allowed the live musician to have 100’s of different sounds at the touch of a button – previously a rock keyboardist had to stack synths in a heap to have access to a variety of tones at once (remember Vangelis or Rick Wakeman and their bunkers of keyboards? It makes my back hurt to think about moving all that crap). At the same time, high quality digital drum machines and sequencers were coming on the market, and with it, totally new styles of music were born. Sequencers are devices that can “record” entire drum and bass lines, creating a real one-man-band effect for the user (e.g. Nine Inch Nails). The 1980’s took the digital synth to the studio, and everything from urban dance music to industrial was never the same. Most of the industrial, techno, rave, and trance music of the 90’s owes the digital revolution a big tip of the hat – without them, they would basically not exist.
The digital and polyphonic shakedown came too hard and fast for Moog and ARP – by 1981 both companies were bankrupt, and those two pioneers of music synthesizers closed their doors. Their chunky, simple instruments sounded great, but they were too much trouble to use and too limited. Even though a digital synthesizer cannot produce tones as fat and rich as a Moog, the variety of sounds and ease of use made analog synths seem like Model-Ts compared polyphonic units like Sequential Circuits’ Prophet 5 (used by the Talking Heads) and the Fairlight and E-mu’s that were light-years beyond the humble Minimoog.
The two other major innovations that emerged at the same time were MIDI technology (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) and digital sampling. To make a complicated story short, MIDI allows many different models of synthesizers compatible; that is, a Roland keyboard can be hooked up with an Ensoniq keyboard and be played at the same time using only one keyboard to control both synths. This was impossible with analog equipment, which lived in a self-contained non interactive box. Some nostalgic souls retro-fit Minimoogs and ARP Odysseys with MIDI in order to have those authentic fat sounds as part of a rack-mounted stage setup. Sampling allows the user to “record” any sound and play it back using a keyboard, guitar, or whatever as the controller. Samplers, though, are really not synthesizers in the true sense of the word, since their sounds are not electronically derived.
Today, synthesizers are as common as light bulbs, and their technology continues to evolve at a geometric rate. The guts of modern synthesizers are more like a computer than a keyboard, and many even come with built in disk-drives and SCSI (“scuzzy”) outputs that allow them to be controlled by computers. Ironically, as synthesizers continue to become more sophisticated at an exponential rate, many bands are turning back to vintage synthesizers to grab that fat sound of the original modular Moogs and ARPs. Groups like Labradford, Stereolab, Experimental Audio Research (aka EAR), Bowery Electric, Fuxa, The Rentals, Slipstream and Spiritualized are using analog synths to fatten up their recordings. Even mainstream rock acts are buying up old Mellotrons (the original tape-driven string synth), Moogs and ARPs to get those dense analog sounds of twenty-five years ago. The attraction, I think is threefold: purity, control, and quality. The original synths had simple, rich tone that was easily manipulated by knobs, sliders, and patch cords. So many of today’s synths feature a bank of sounds pre-programmed by some studio ween; the old Moogs and ARPs had an infinite variety of combinations at the player’s fingertips. Plus the sound of the old synths is so big and fat; no digital synth to date can come close to a Minimoog’s bad-ass bass lines. So head to the nearest pawnshop while the gettin’ is good. Of course, it could be too late. And what about those soon to be “Vintage Digital Synths” of the 80’s? Buy now before the next nostalgia wave hits!
Looking back at the most attrocious movies of the nineties a certain trend seems to develop. There seemed to be quite a number of television shows that somehow made it to the big screen in adaptations only the mentally damaged could appreciate. They seemed to be chosen with neither rhyme nor reason, simply picked out of the pickle barrel of television history and plopped onto our plates. This attempt at a retro-cash-in, or nostalgic buy-out is nothing more than an outright money deal.
Sometime it’s hard to remember that Movies, no wait Films, are just a business. That’s right a business. Yeah every now and again some foreigner scrapes together a touching film about how his people are suffering, and once in a blue moon some kids manage to make us laugh with a couple of dirty words, but in reality it is all about the buck. There will always be examples of independent thinking and solo efforts that seem like they involve a world of art. Fine. And there are some people out there who are making pictures because they love the medium, people who don’t expect anything back in return for their entertainment. These people are called amateurs. Professionals make some dough. In entertainment it’s important to use old school Olympic rules.
So, if we assume that the bulk of movies with wold-wide distribution come from the destructive hills of Hollywood, and the movies that they create are made for the sole purpose of making money, it is easy to see why there is no originality left. If you were a producer why on earth would you invest in anything but a sure thing? And how do you get a sure thing? Give the public what it wants, give them what they know. And then give it to them again in a sequel. When you have exhasted that well, remake the same movie with the hot new actors of tomorrow.
Hollywood has perfected the art of regurgitating material from once tasty treats, in order to get their sure thing. Look at foreign film rip-offs like Point of No Return (Originally La Femme Nikita), or Three Men and A Baby (Originally Three Men and A Baby in French) and you’ll see dull remakes that grossed more than the originals. Nothing in the history of entertainment is safe. There have always been film adaptations of books (The Ten Commandments, etc.) but to me it seems that there is a need for illiterates to be entertained. The same people who belive that every Stephen King story is a born winner have decided that anything in television history should be redone. Eventually every TV show that any of us can think of will have been made into a movie.
How in the world could the live action comedy Mr. Magoo make more money than the Cohen Brother’s classic film Miller’s Crossing? If any of you reading this have seen Mr. Magoo and not Miller’s Crossing, I invite you over to my house anytime of the day for a swift flogging and then popcorn and a movie. This is truly a world that makes no sense. There must be more old people and kids out there, with a lot of time to kill in the malls. When television arrived Hollywood scoffed at another medium taking their slice of the pie. And when it did the studios made films that were bigger and badder than before. They invented larger theaters and wider screens. And when that didn’t work they bought the stations. People went to the movies. Then cable came around, with satellite TV no less. People went to the movies. Then the fucking Internet and video games. And People still go to the movies. There are thousands of technological distractions which the world can entertain itself with, and yet going to the movies has never been so popular. Hollywood knows the score. They have realized that no matter what then hell they put up on that screen people will go to see it. And if they don’t see it here, they’ll see it on video, and if not in this country, they’ll see it in a foreign theater where people tie their yaks up on the popcorn line.
The only real solution to this whole game is a complete boycott of first run, uncool, non-art films. I personally have been doing this ever since walking out of Transylvannia 6-5000, and most recently with Independence Day. If we could all just get together, create a worthy cause, start the movement, get up off our asses and go play some pool on Friday Nights instead of going to the movies, none of this will continue.
If you thought Sgt. Bilko, Mission Impossible, Dennis the Menace, and Leave it to Beaver, were the only TV shows put onto the big screen, here’s a sample of some of some upcoming titles. The A-Team, The Avengers, Babalon5-The Movie, Battle Star Gallactica (The New Movie), Bewitched, Green Hornet, Hawaii 5-0, The Jetsons, Lost In Space, Love Boat-The Movie, Magnum PI, Mr. Ed, Mission Impossible2, My Favorite Martian, Red Dwarf, Scooby Doo, The 6 Million Dollar Man, The Tick, Wonder Woman.
Through an extensive search of the dust bins of multinational corporations I found the following Pre-views and Spec. Scripts of films coming to a theater near you. Beware faint of heart, some of these get fairly gritty.
Title: I Love Lucy – The Movie
Directed By: John Frankenheimer
Staring: Harvey Keitel as Ricky, Jenny McCarthy as Lucy, and Robert DeNiro as Fred Murtz.
Plot: In the inner city, a ruthless band leader and his tortured, yet comedic wife struggle to pay the rent of a modern day slum lord. Rated R for language.
Title: Baywatch-The movie
Directed By: David Hasselhoff
Staring: David Hasselhoff, Naomi Campbell, Kathy Ireland, Monica Lewinski, and Billy Baldwin as “The Surfer”
Plot: How many bodies can you fit on one screen, in this Film adaptation of Hasselhoff’s book “The Big Wave,” we find all his familiar characters in an all too familiar setting- the beach. Rated Pg-13 because it is fun for males of all ages.
Title: Gilligan’s Island
Directed By: Gus Van Sant
Staring: Steve Buscemi as “Gilligan”, Minnie Driver as “Marianne”, Anthony Hopkins as “Thurston Howell III”, and Keeanu Reeves as “The Professor”
Plot: Filmed in a remote location off the coast of Hawaii, this Thriller/Comedy mingles the horror of The Island of Dr. Moreau with the impishness of Lord of the Flies. See what happens when the island sun turns strangers into just friends. Rated R for violence.
Title: Wheel of Fortune
Directed By: Gilbert Godfried
Staring: Albert Brooks as “Pat Sajack” and Mira Sorvino as “Vana”, and Robert Deniro as “The Wheel”
Plot: In this directorial debut Godfried takes us on a ride wild ride across America, where the turn of a phrase becomes the focus on an incessant journey to fight illiteracy. Rated R for nudity Violence, and slight nausea.
Directed By: Betty Thomas
Staring: Howard Stern as “Andy”, Tony Randall as “Les Nesman”, Lawrence Fishburne as “Venus Flytrap,” and Anna Nicole Smith as “Jennifer”
Plot: The trailer of the movie begins with Andy berating Les on the Air, in the now famous quote, “Les, face the facts just because you are gay doesn’t mean you get your own office.” Rated OH-no, because no one in the Cincinnati area is allowed in.
Title: What’s Happening Here!
Directed By: John Singleton
Staring: Will Smith as “Raj”, Cuba Gooding Jr. as “Dwayne Wayne,” Oprah Winfrey as “Shirley”, and the late Biggie Smalls as “Rerun.”
Plot: Three men growing into adulthood in the heart of America, constantly confronted by the rising price of Hamburgers and Dance contest entrance fees. Rated G- good wholesome fun for anyone
Directed By: Kevin Smith
Staring: Matt Damon, Roger Waters, David Duchovney, Ben Goldberg, Pamela Anderson Lee, Rex the dog, and Robert DeNiro as “The Naked Mole Rat”
Plot: In this Action/Comedy Matt Damon plays a man capable of changing into any animal he wishes, although he only chooses a tiger, eagle, or on really special occasions a shark. Rated NC-17 for crimes against animals.
Title: The Magic Garden
Directed By: John Woo
Staring: Ellen Degeneres, Elizabeth Shue and Arnold Schwarzenagger as “Mr. Squirrel”
Plot: A non-stop action adventure, which pits an unlikely couple together against the forces of evil. Music by Rage Against the Machine. Rated R for violent Lyrics.
Sad Freaks of the Nation:
Pollard or Kirk? Trekkies or Blowfish? Spit or swallow? Whatever. Remember: fanboys are fanboys. Even when they’re girls.
I’ve just gotten to work, and I’m walking towards my register, groggily sipping my coffee. Suddenly, I’m blind-sighted by two lanky young men, dressed head-to-toe in Star Trek uniforms. One was the resident Christian geek/ROTC poster boy from my freshman dorm; the other looked like his face could have been used as the “before” picture in an acne cure infomercial. “Holy Leonard Nimoy!” I muttered to myself. After a moment, I noticed that the dude who played Scottie on Star Trek was at our store to sign copies of his latest book. A little while later, I wandered over to the book signing to scope out the dork scene. The Scottie groupies stood proudly, stoically, as though they came directly from central casting and not the 30-degree cold of this early Sunday morning. My mind was abuzz with jokes about these geeks for quite some time until it occurred to me that I would be doing the same thing if it had been Bob Pollard here instead of Scottie. Well, except for the uniform.
If you calculated the time I’ve spent listening to, trying to find, traveling to see, and discussing the band Guided By Voices, you’d…uh…come up with a really big number. I’m not the only one, though. In fact, my devotion to the band is miniscule when compared to the hordes of other fans around the world who have spent five times the energy (not to mention cash) that I have on this band from Ohio. We fans call ourselves the Blowfish, after the song and the Internet mailing list of the same name. We range from doctors and lawyers to students and slackers with one thing in com-mon. We’re all just totally insane. However, our obsession with GbV was preceded by another group’s devotion to something else entirely.
One word. Trekkies.
Seemingly, GbV fans and Star Trek fans have little in common. The former spend their time in smoky bars and hip record stores; the latter traverse the country in search of conventions, book signings, and acne treatments. Star Trek has been around in various forms for several decades, and instantly gained praise from critics and fans alike. GbV has been toiling in the basements and drive-thru beer stores in Dayton, Ohio since the early 80’s, but aren’t nearly as well known.
But after a bit of investigative journalism on my part – not to mention a few long-neck bottles of domestic beer – I found that there are indeed some similarities.
See for yourself.
STAR TREK FANS: Fans can rattle off long lists of characters with funny names (Spock, Kirk, Picard, Riker, Worf, the Klingons, Sulu)
GUIDED BY VOICES FANS: Fans can rattle off long lists of songs with funny titles (My Valuable Hunting Knife, Deathtrot and Warlock Riding a Rooster, The Ascended Master’s Grogshop)
STAR TREK FANS: Hard-core fans debate the merit of the original series (Star Trek) versus the newer spin-offs (The Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager)
GUIDED BY VOICES FANS: Hard-core fans debate the merit of the “original” members (Pollard, Sprout, Mitchell, Fennell) versus the newer lineups (whoever Pollard can con into playing with him)
STAR TREK FANS: Fans from all over the world communicate via Internet mailing lists, including one exclusively for Swedish fans
GUIDED BY VOICES FANS: Fans from all over the world communicate via an Internet mailing list, which is currently being taken over by crazy people from Finland
STAR TREK FANS: Fans call themselves “Trekkies”
GUIDED BY VOICES FANS: Fans call themselves “Blowfish”
STAR TREK FANS: The only people on the Internet not downloading naked pictures of that chick from Lois and Clark
GUIDED BY VOICES FANS: The only people on the Internet not referring to “7-inches” in a sexual manner
STAR TREK FANS: Fans seek moral instruction in the plots of various episodes (i.e., the human race is destroying itself)
GUIDED BY VOICES FANS: Fans seek moral instruction in the lyrics of various songs (i.e., rock n’ roll may seem like a silly thing to devote ones life to, but without it we wouldn’t be the same)
STAR TREK FANS: Fans spent majority of high school years locked in bedrooms with Sci-Fi novels and/or Dungeons and Dragons
GUIDED BY VOICES FANS: Fans spent majority of high school years locked in bedrooms playing The Who’s Next and/or the Pixies’ Doolittle
STAR TREK FANS: Fans make fun of William Shatner’s god-awful hair piece
GUIDED BY VOICES FANS: Fans make fun of Bob Pollard’s ever-expanding Afro
STAR TREK FANS: Fans greet one another with that Vulcan “Live Long and Prosper” hand signal thing
GUIDED BY VOICES FANS: Fans greet one another with a bottle of Bud and a waist-high leg kick
STAR TREK FANS: Hard-to-find memorabilia fetches high-prices
GUIDED BY VOICES FANS: Hard-to-find albums fetch high prices
STAR TREK FANS: Has inspired legions of fans to explore technology, astronomy, and philosophy
GUIDED BY VOICES FANS: Has inspired dozens of fans to explore thrift stores, 4-tracks, and alcoholism
STAR TREK FANS: Fans have no life
GUIDED BY VOICES FANS: Ditto
We asked the ne’er-do-well publisher of Cimmaron Weekend to write us a clever and insightful set of instructions about how to behave (or misbehave to some poor suckers) in the modern rock club setting. He ignored our wishes, and obliged us with the following.
Please allow me to paint an all too familiar scenario. A small group of serious music fans are trying to enjoy one of their favorite Mathrock bands when some local alcohol sponge can’t seem to stop screaming “Freebird!!” or “Skynyrd!!” at full volume. The man is clearly unaware that he has exhibited one of the more unclever public attempts at humor which in turn should be written off by everyone in the room. This is not the case however, because now the backpacks are all in a tizzy over the fact that one of the most innovative guitar rock ensembles of our time has to compete with the town drunk. This is simply an example of the wrong cooks residing in the kitchen. It is possible to establish yourself as the right cook in the kitchen, and turn the situation into a favorable one for all. Following these easy steps will turn the existing Pot Pie Of Mediocrity into an Action Casserole!!!
As you already know, anyone who yells something pertaining to the Van Zandt clan during a show should be tied up and driven to a rural field. Originality is not a difficult aspect of heckling. Studies have shown that bands become dizzy, confused, and may actually urinate down their respective trouser legs when things like “Firefall,” “Ambrosia,” “England Dan and John Ford Coley,” “Hothouse Flowers,” “Professor Griff,” “Old Skull,” “Manowar,” and “The Sanford-Townsend Band” are screamed at the opportune moment.
For around $1,000, the illustrated item above can be assembled in just under a week as long as you possess the desire to visit such retail havens as Radio Shack and AutoZone. Some welding is required, so you may want to consult Mr. Billy Gibbons on the whereabouts of some cheap sunglasses. The Blare-A-Tron 2080 consists of two import car batteries directly powering a set of two 100-watt riot-control megaphones. The external microphone outputs are combined into one hand-held receiver featuring a special ergonomic grip. The Blare-A-Tron’s chassis/frame is constructed of .12 gauge industrial piping and four weatherproof nylon fastening straps. Though entirely fireproof, the Blare-A-Tron 2080 comes complete with dual fire extinguishers in case any non-fire related issues occur with bouncers and/or other music fans. All in all, the Blare-A-Tron 2080 weighs in at less than 192 lbs. and can be transported by foot or in the backs of most station wagons.
Many independently owned sporting goods stores and/or Army surplus outlets carry a self-defense device commonly referred to as a “Tazer” or Stun Gun. Please take a minute to imagine that there is an individual standing in the corner of the club exclaiming: “I saw Belle and Sebastian play the Louvre!” This comment is delivered at a volume far exceeding the audio range established by the two friends that are actually paying attention. Following this comment are others that concern the bands that he knows, the bands that he has met, and most likely some information regarding a Stereolab single he bought on the internet for $50. With the help of the aforementioned item(s), you can easily add up to 10,000 volts of electricity to this man’s constitution – from as far as twenty feet away!! Make sure and purchase the models that have the “wired projectile” feature. A note of caution: You must target loudmouth’s frontal area, because otherwise his backpack will shield any and all voltage delivered. Many clubs and/or bars serve food, and though the band may not look like they’re hungry, you sir however, are hungry for entertainment. Last but not least, preparation for the big show is of utter importance. Begin by eating a very light breakfast, accenting your meal with a side order of Percocet. You should then skip lunch in favor of two or three double Vodka Tonics and a bike ride to the grocery store. The remainder of the afternoon should be spent pacing yourself with a combination of beer, wine, 7.5 mg Lortabs, and the occasional slice of bread. Shortly before the show, you should make sure and consume at least three White Russians. This drink is rich in calcium, which will supply you with the extra strength needed while outfitted with the Blare-A-Tron 2080. These tips should help transform not only your immediate surroundings, but your life as well. Lastly, you may be unsure of what particular shows will warrant your giving the people what they really need. Since Ben Lee likes to sing about the trials of touring Bob Seger-style at age 19, next time he passes through your burg, show his Loudon Wainwright III aspiring ass what life on the road is really about. Also, I once witnessed the Promise Ring stop in the middle of a song in order to plead with a heckler. It should be painfully obvious that these criminally-overrated-whiny-ass-indie-rockers-who-somehow-manage-to-appeal-to-a-punk-rock-audience are a prime target for you and your newly acquired social skills.
For more information:
Bumps For Breakfast (168p, paperback) is available via mail order for $650.00 + postage and handling.
Upon a recent visit with my sister Kathy who was “vacationing” back in York, Pennsyltucky from Seoul, South Korea, we proceeded to get our sibling rivalric juices flowing and (as we have done in previous get-togethers) pulled out the ol’ reliable Monopoly board. And of course, as you can imagine, many of the following items are not so much satire as they are reality. That isn’t the really sad part, but rather that my sister was the one who initiated and, for the most part, wrote this article. Of course, I will site myself as the major inspiration, which my sister will no doubt vehemently deny, but I’m the publisher, so believe me!
As an aside, that night my sister and I participated in the most heated game of Monopoly that either of us had ever witnessed in our entire board gaming careers. After hours of stalemate, we both decided to take a “break” around two in the morning leaving the board, pieces, money and hotels where they lay, thinking that we could complete our head-butting in the morning. When we woke up, the breakfast table, a Monopoly battleground just six hours earlier, had been cleaned up and put back in its box thanks to our mom. Here she was thinking she was doing us a favor when in reality she decimated what would have settled the argument as to which of us is better. No hard feelings, Mom, but dammit! So in light of the previous anecdote, my sister offers:
1. Set up a TV next to you and play instructional videos on how to improve your Monopoly game
2. Flip Through a Spiegel catalog during the game, occasionally showing pages to the female players and saying you’ll buy them something if they start calling you their “Sugar Daddy.”
3. Hand out performance appraisals after the game.
4. Call the policeman in the “Go To Jail” square “Whitey The Pig”
5. If somebody else joins you in jail, ask them what they’re in for.
6. When close to losing, ignore your turn
7. Serve Cheetos. Get orange cheese dust on all parts.
8. Constantly ask “Is it my turn?”
9. After it’s well known that all properties are bought, keep asking “Does anybody own this?”
10. On your way to jail, keep saying that you were framed and are waiting for an appeal.
11. If you’re the wheelbarrow, push it around like a real one.
12. Make other players push your game piece no matter where it is, stating that you can’t reach it.
13. When you’re the real estate agent, tell everybody that all properties were under-valued and taken off the market indefinitely for further “analysis.”
14. Keep trying to go out of turn.
15. When collecting money from other players, say “Ka-Ching!”
16. When people are collecting rent from you, defiantly state “Yo Mama!”
17. Count other people’s moves out loud in French.
18. Make your own set of Chance/Community Chest cards that “only you can use.”
19. Accept a call from a telemarketer and ask the other players to hold.
20. Once everybody’s money is laid out, turn on a fan.
21. When the car passes you, ask if you can clean its windshield for extra pocket change.
22. Come to the game with your face painted in camouflage. Before the game even begins, start nudging people saying “I’m ready to win!”
23. Upon landing on “Go To Jail” ask the other players to drop you a line from time to time because you’ll be “lonely.”
24. When in jail, start yelling “Where’s the warden?!” If somebody claims to be the warden, try to pawn a piece of jewelry. Tell him/her it’ll be like the “Shawshank Redemption,” and that you want your time to go as smoothly as possible in the joint.
25. When the other players go to jail, tell them “Don’t bend over for the soap.”
26. Insist that your parents owned the original Boardwalk so you get it for half price.
27. When you pick up a Chance card, read it to yourself not letting other people see it and make up what it actually says (i.e. Everybody pays me $500).
28. Refuse to pay any medical bills from Community Chest stating “that bitch Hillary” was supposed to take care of it.
29. Keep a magic 8-Ball on the board at all times and refer to it as “your advisor.”
30. After rolling the dice and landing on an opponent’s space, just pretend you didn’t see it and keep moving until you move on one of your own spaces.
31. In your best Cliff Clavin impression, recount the origin of the word Monopoly and say that it means one “poly.”
32. Haggle. Ask if opponents take coupons.
33. Take a poll regarding the correct pronunciation of Reading Railroad. After you tally the results, start singing (ala “You Say Tomato, I Say Tomato”) “You Say Reading, I Say Reading.”
34. Violently throw the dice against the wall when it’s your turn and say that it’s the way the original version had you do it.
35. Purchase Baltic and Mediterranean. Place your hands on your hips and confidently state that “I’ve got big plans for this place.”
36. Every time you land on a “State” street, try to immitate the dialect of that state. If you land on Tennessee, speak Southern. On Pennsylvania Ave, act like you’re Amish. On Oriental Avenue, make “slint” eyes and sing the “Me Chinese Me Play Joke Me Put Pee Pee In Your Coke” song.
37. At some random point during the game, ask rhetorical questions like “If I’m not driving the car, why does it matter if there’s free parking?”. Then say, “Just asking.”
38. Whenever players land on your property, start jumping up and down chanting “Show me the money!” and get fellow players to join you. Continue to do it even after people stop laughing.
39. After passing B&O Railroad, pinch your nose and state that it’s more like the “BO Railroad.”
40. When passing another player, nudge their piece off the board. Ditto for home and hotel pieces.
41. Make appropriate sounds for each playing piece. “Vrooooom” for car. “Ssssss” for the iron, etc.
42. Wear a poker visor and smoke a cee-gar.
43. When rolling the dice, pray to God and ask for double sevens.
44. Upon landing on Free Parking, ask if they validate.
45. When you land on Atlantic Avenue, start singing Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue.” When people try to correct you, state that you just really like that song.
46 At some point during the game, try to practically use the pieces. For example, wear the hat, try to iron your pants with the iron, etc.
47. If you’re the thimble, ask players if they need their socks darned.
48. Use the green houses and red motels in your Christmas nativity scene.
49. If you’re the banker, blatantly embezzle money and when caught, fall to the ground and act like you were fouled. Then proceed to tell other players that your father is the President and he’ll get you off the hook.
50. Suggest splitting off into discussion groups to delve into why (for instance) Marvin Gardens is green, Park Place is blue, etc.
51. Constantly reiterate that you’re saving up for the Collector’s Edition of Monopoly because you’re sure it’ll be worth something.
52. Bring your own playing piece. Try dryer lint and state that it’s good luck and that the piece has been in the family for generations.
53. Whenever staying at Baltic, make sure the owner of the property knows what kind of a shithole it is.
54. When passing Go and collecting $200, insist it be paid all in ones and declare it’s because you’re a heavy tipper and need singles.
55. When you buy a hotel, let other players know that after some heated number crunching, you plan to rent out the rooms by the hour.
56. If you’re losing badly, ask the other players if they would like to see your own personal variation of the game “52 Card Pickup.”
57. Towards the end of the game if you’re winning, coax the more losing players into calling you “Godfather,” and have them bow and kiss your ring in exchange for not throwing them out on the streets. (note: wear ring)
58. Constantly tip people and insist it’s because you want to make sure you get plenty of soap in your room. When giving the tip, whisper “This is for extra soap….”
59. Always carry extra Monopoly money in your sock “just in case.”
60. Keep money in a roll with the $500 bills on the outside. When asked why, tell people you like to spend big.
61. Buy up both of the utilities and contantly threaten to turn off people’s power even when they don’t land on a property. Then ask “Who’s the man?!”
62. Yell “Chugga Chugga Chugga Chugga Woo Woo” every time you land on a railroad. Get people to join you.
63. When you land in jail, hum “Nobody Knows” until you are released.
64. When people start buying hotels, say that the place is going to hell in a handbasket.
65. Paste Ed McMahon’s face in the Free Parking space stating “You may already be a winner!”
66. Stage a rally to reduce the income tax. Incite a riot if you don’t get your way chanting “No new taxes my black ass!”
The digital sampler. A revolutionary technological creation which has literally cut and pasted what is modern music, redefining its boundaries and limits, unarguably the vehicle that has molded the whole of rap and hip-hop. Ever since 1979 when the Sugar Hill Gang sampled Chic’s “Good Times,” the constant direction of sampling creativity has most often been downward and with spiraling velocities. Unfortunately beginning with its conception, and especially in the mid-80’s with the Adai S612 in hearty supply, the digital sampler has been used relentlessly through imitation after reimitation with the same copy-cat approach, nearly at CD quality rate-44,100 times per second. Now don’t misconstrue my intentions; some sample sources are holy and will never lose their value – a Clyde Stubblefield drum loop from a James Brown number or an electronic blip off Kraftwerk’s Man-Machine LP will eternally have its respected merit when embraced inside someone else’s song – the nature and context of such created music makes it so. This is more intended to catalog the efforts of narrow-minded, consolation prize winning studio producers who have overstepped latest technology with bad taste, as well as the rest of us who made fart noises on our Casio SK-1’s some Christmas morning long ago. While perusing the following, please realize that I am no irreproachable aristocrat of the digital age. Myself and some strange fellow named Coco have often partaken in these primitive rituals. I hope you, the extra-dorky elite, will correspond with me and let me know all that I missed via Chunklet hate mail, as a supplemental list may need to be provided.
1. Star Trek bridge door opening sequence.
2. Gyuto Monks chanting.
3. Tracy Lord’s groaning.
4. Kung Fu noises used to replace “stereotypical” drum sounds.
5. Anything from A Clockwork Orange.
6. Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells.
7. Dance instruction records.
8. Jane Fonda or similar workout albums (especially lame: anything relating to the Jazzercise concept).
9. Bad “classic” punk rock guitar lines that are supposed to show the particular artist’s connection to his G.B.H. leather jacket wearing days (see Atari Teenage Riot discography).
10. Japanese anime especially from Akira or Ghost in the Shell.
11. Tie-fighter noise from Star Wars.
12. Any Vietnam documentary or news footage…sorry pal, Paul Hardcastle beat you to it with “Na Na Na Na Na Nineteen”.
13. John Barry Orchestra horn blast off a James Bond movie soundtrack.
14. Atomic explosions that end a song or album.
15. 808, 303 drum sounds.
16. Cricket noises to connotate a calm, pastoral aura.
17. Tabla drums or, more simply put, “world music”.
18. Anything from Pulp Fiction.
19. Personal answering machine messages.
20. Bonham’s kick drum.
21. Rudy Ray Moore.
22. Casey Kasem.
24. Schlocky, campy B-movie dialogue.
25. Anything associated with David Lynch.
26. Using a well-known Top 40 pop song and unapologetically not altering its original integrity and melody line (turn on MTV – Puff Daddy awaits you).
27. Classic rock live album in-between song banter (specifically after the Beastie Boys’ Live At Buddokan opening).
28. Anything off a house sample CD, especially “X-Files of House”.
30. Tuning-in the radio sequences.
31. Car engine noises of any model or year.
32. Police sirens.
34. One techno (excuse me, “electronica”) act sampling another (i.e. Future Sounds of London sampling Meat Beat Manifesto).
35. Ennio Morricone, especially The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
36. Glass breaking.
37. Old super hero records like the Power Catalog.
38. The repeated sampled word “ecstasy” in a techno song.
39. The repeated sampled word “energy” in a techno song. This is remarkably sad as it puts you in the same league as the band Information Society.
40. NASA Apollo II dialogue (cool acts use other missions).
41. Scratched record noise.
42. The Fugazi bell or drum loops.
44. Anything associated with Timothy Leary.
45. Televangelists (come on, that stopped being ground breaking with “My Life in the Bush of Ghost” or at least with “Welcome to Paradise” by Front 242.
46. An indie band sampling a Quiet Riot 80’s hair metal solo thinking they’re being remarkably funny.
47. Anything proceeded by the statement “Man, that’s awesome. It’s just like that part on the Beck album.”
48. Anything from Wild Angels (do you really want to use the sampling taste of Mudhoney?).
49. Atari 2600 game noises.
50. The most common sample of all time: the sound of Henry Owings jacking off.
Over the course of six months, countless smoke filled rock clubs, and even the odd e-mail here and there, we were able to surmise that most rockers aren’t, well, really all that rock.
“We were playing in Washington, DC, playing “Our Caballero” and I do this slide guitar solo. So I was playing it, picked up this guy’s beer bottle and did the solo. After the solo, I threw [the bottle] up in the air and smashed it on the floor. The guy gave me a $100 tip. A $100 bill!”
Mike Banfield, Don Caballero
“I was bass player for my friend’s hard edged heavy ass band. The only reason I did it is because they supplied me with a bass and an amp. That’s my big dark musical history secret.”
Carl Hultgren, Windy & Carl
“I helped Nine Inch Nails destroy their dressing room.”
“I took a shit on GG Allin’s face.”
Andrew Rieger, Elf Power
“I’m not sure if I want this to go down on tape because my wife will kick my ass. Okay, a long time ago, I did speed for about a week. I got some really kick ass crystal meth in NYC and sped for about a week. When you stay up for a whole week, you start hallucinating and I just kept doing it. It was a good thing. Good and bad. And Heather, that was a long time ago.”
Pierre Kezdy, Pegboy
“I got drunk at the Whiskey a Go Go in March, 1993 shortly after playing drums in a rock band that very night.”
Mike Greenlees, Luckyj/Ex-Chittle/Tar
“When we were in Switzerland, I did crystal meth for five hours and then tried to ride a donkey. I’m allergic to donkeys, so my face puffed up and I was up for 24 hours straight.”
Jerry Wick, Gaunt
“When I was a kid, I pissed in my mother’s bath water. She had a bubble bath, and I was wondering if she would notice. I felt real bad and it made me scared.”
Blaine Cartwright, Nashville Pussy
“I got really, really drunk and then did an interview with MTV. I was totally out of my mind and I don’t remember what I said, but it was on TV.”
Matt Jencick, Hurl
“Henry, one time I was sniffing some “Dixie Crystals” off the ass of an under-aged prostitute right before showtime, and man am I speaking the gospel when I tell you this was some extra fine granulated blow! Good mother fuckin’ nose goodie. Anyway, everyone was yellin’ at me to play so I made her get off my lap, and went to take the platform. Goddamn ironical thing of it was that I forgot to wipe my face off. With all that snort and lipstick, I looked like a powdered sugar doughnut that had just been attacked by the Revlon lady. Coco keep doing that “you got something on your face” motion during the breaks of the song, really man! Causin’ an onstage ruckus, and that ain’t no good for the fanbase, if you know what I mean. Suddenly, I remembered about the nostril fertilizer and the Bolivian girl, and tried to clear my face of the make-up and the sugar smack during mid-song, and fucking get this brother, I actually got off time for a couple beats. Oh shit, do we laugh about that now. You get it, I fucking was partying so diamond-hard I actually made a mistake in my playing. Goddamn was that a nut-cracker. That just barely beats out the time I actually played the drums with a needle still in my arm.”
Birdstuff, Man…or Astro-Man?
“I hung out back stage with Van Halen on their Van Halen II tour at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. Alex Van Halen stuck his fingers up my nose. David Lee Roth was drinking Jack Daniels out of the bottle and telling us about Eddie “fucking” Valerie. It was cool. I was about 10 years old!”
Jason DiEmilio, The Azusa Plane
“I don’t do rock things.”
Jason Kourkounis, Delta 72
“I befriended Tommy Lee of Motley Crue when I was in high school in California. Actually talked to him and drew a t-shirt for him with a magic marker at home. He then came to my high school the next day and got it. For five minutes on campus, I was big shit. It was all downhill from there.”
Brian Walsby, Polvo
“I stagedove at the end of our set and I had never stagedove before. This was around 1984 at CBGB. Everyone moved out of the way and I slammed my chest into a table full of bottles and glasses and i was fucking hurt. I guess that’s more punk than rock.”
Thurston Moore, Male Slut
“Well, most rock things could be: wearing make up, twirling drum sticks, drugs, saying “You know who I am?,” throwing drum sticks in the air, wearing extremely tight trousers, tucking pants into boots, drinking whiskey straight from the bottle, staying backstage the entire time the opening band is on stage, hanging out with Dio’s road crew in Champaign, IL, selling backstage passes, meeting strippers after the show. Maybe some un-rock moments to balance things out…: driving around in a cramped station wagon on tour, playing Mexican restaurants, getting paid in beer, not getting paid at all, having gear stolen, crying at the bus station, sleeping next to John Humphrey, not shaving, liking Burt Bacharach, not trashing rooms, touring with Man or Astro-Man?, playing in either Richmond or Nashville on a Monday evening…”
Scott Giampino, Cash Money
“I used to like to publicly expose myself against censorship. I stopped soon after I started. Somebody showed a Polaroid and it all stopped. It’s alright, but I made the point about censorship.”
Will Hart, The Olivia Tremor Control
“It involved working with the TRS80 model 200 that I have. And I sat down and programmed it for 10 hours straight. I made a basic program that allowed me to make music with a TRS80 and I’ve got to say that I was rockin’ out because the TRS80 has such a crappy lo-fi sound system that it was raw. Right at the heart of raw music.”
Dr. Spanglestein, O. R. I.
“That would be looking for uranium samples in the old mines below Lower Arcum in Pittsburgh.”
Agent Vogtan, O. R. I.
“I tackled a guy off stage at the Whiskey. [He] kept getting on stage and knocking my mic stand, so I tackled him with my guitar on. Just straight off the edge of the stage.”
Mac McGaughan, Superchunk
“Well, hanging around in Athens at the Hayride house after a concert, we all had Led Zepplin symbols markered on our arms and I fell asleep in a chair in Nick’s bedroom listening to David Bowie’s “Heroes.” Passed out. And when Nick woke me up to put me to bed, I got up and walked over to his dresser drawer, opened it and unzipped my pants. I was about to commence to whizzin’ into his drawer before he stopped me. I’m not sure if he touched my dick or not. He might have, but I don’t remember it.”
Chris Lopez, Rock*a*Teens
“I took a fire extinguisher in my ass during a set without missing a fucking beat.”
Noah Leger, Hurl
“Are you referring to the time I stoned a human to death? Your magazine is a sad excuse to interact with other humans. Soon you and all other sad indie-rock, overly mothered sissy boys shall perish.”
Proto Unit V-3, Servotron
“We had a band called Fuck Kids when I was about 22. We thought we were being extremely clever and really funny, and of course it wasn’t clever or funny at all. We used to do stupid things like death metal songs, and we’d all play in a different key. We’d do it perfectly, but in different keys with three guitars. We thought we were clever, but it was really smart-ass bullshit.”
Sean O’Hagan, High Llamas
“Probably getting up in front of 20,000 bored New Zealanders and crushing a watermelon over my head. I don’t like rock. I like roll. Rock sucks. Roll is godly. The most roll thing I’ve ever done is my life.”
Chris Knox, Tall Dwarfs
“In Wisconsin, we were supposed to have a show put on by this girl at her house. We get there, walk upstairs, and it’s her and a couple of friends with dyed hair just sitting on their couches looking all fucked up and stoned. She said “Yeah, the show got cancelled.” We asked her “Well, you couldn’t have given us a phone call or gotten in touch with us to let us know it was cancelled?” And she was just a bitch. She didn’t offer us a place to stay, didn’t offer us any food, didn’t offer us any money as consolation for cancelling the show. Nothing. So we go out to the van and we had brought firecrackers and a fire extinguisher with us. So we walked up these steep stairs to her place. Me, Geoey (Cook) and Kyle (Spence) opened their door, lit the firecrackers, threw them in their apartment and unloaded the fire extinguisher into their apart-ment. Then quickly got in the van and left.”
Bruce Bohannon, Fiddlehead/Galanas:Cerdd
“Played a set in Seattle, got in a van at four in the morning, drove 36 hours straight and got right on the stage in Minneapolis.”
Bob Bert, Pussy Chrome Honeymoon Youth
“Drink five bottles of beer, then go to bed without brushing my teeth.”
Markus Acher, The Notwist
“Probably the stupidest trendiest thing is snort a bunch of heroin in Miami and throw up all over the beach. I’m afraid I’m not very rock as it were. But that’s the most r-a-w-k thing.”
Chris Freeman, Pansy Division
“I watched Green Day throw a 27″ television out of a hotel room window. Punk rock.”
“I fucked a really fat girl while she stuffed herself into a hotel ice dispenser.”
Zowie Fenderblast, Lee Harvey Oswald Band
“One time Screeching Weasel played Auburn, and they stayed at my house. Between me and my roommate Hardy, we kicked Ben Weasel out of our house. I thought that was pretty rock. He was making fun of my Run-DMC poster, man. I swear to God. I told him to sleep out on the stoop.”
Pudd Sharp, The Quadrajets
“I had “Kiss My Rebel Ass” written on the back of my shirt, took a chunk of a beer can out with my mouth, threw the can at the audience and then spit the remaining piece of aluminum out at the crowd.”
Jerome J. Jerome, The Quadrajets
“I took a circular saw to my guitar during a performance and scared people away. It cleared the club. I was never invited back. Can you believe that?”
Paul Chavez, Tranquil
“I kissed an audience member. When we were in England, we had this guy in the audience who started throwing beer on us, so I spit on him and then he came up on stage and I kissed him, and got into a fight over it. It was a man actually, and it turned out to be a whole band fight. He came on stage and pushed me, and so I pushed him back and finally he started throwing beer on our guitar player and drummer. It turned out to be a full on fight.”
Ralph Cuseglio, Rye Coalition