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Sunday 28 February 2010

Night of the living (brain) dead. (30 Seconds to Mars) Glasgow SECC

I hate the SECC as a venue.
It’s a cavernous hall that sucks all that is good about live music from the atmosphere.
It’s just a big square multi-purpose box that you can shove anything in.
There is no connection between the venue and the events that are held in it.
Honestly, it has no real history and zero character to it.
Its purpose is to be a blank space and nothing more.

Occasionally a band can manage to distract the crowd from their surroundings by delivering a memorable show, but the bands that can do that are the legends with decades of experience and a back catalogue of excellence to dip into.
The rest, while possibly riding high in popularity, and able to draw a large crowd, fall short in creating the right atmosphere.

Part of the problem most definitely lies with the crowds they attract to.

At this show I was surrounded by people who I had nothing in common with.
The sort who have probably never ever been to a gig in a bar or a club and only start to key into a band once they reach platinum status.
The sort whose CD collection reflects the top ten album chart with some compilations thrown in to shake things up a bit.
The sort who discover bands from hearing adverts on the television.
The sort who honestly believe that the band they are watching are the best in the whole wide world until the next band who are the best in the whole wide world come along a week later.
They treat music like fast food. It’s for instant consumption and always disposable.
Their appreciation of music is the polar opposite of my own.

Is that a rather scathing view of them?
It probably is, but when you have stood with a teenager behind you talking about how hot Jared of 30 Seconds to Mars is in a loud and abrasive whine, and how she is going to see this band and that band, with all of them being currently massive, it’s difficult to dredge any other opinion up.
Add in that this sort of conversation is being had no matter where you stand and it becomes depressingly repetitive.

A million and one little things were starting to notch my stress levels up bit by bit and the gig hadn't even started.
Then the lights dimmed and the crowd roared like a pack of Pavlov’s dogs conditioned to react at the slightest sign that the show is about to begin.
It’s mass hysteria.
I could close my eyes and imagine a chicken drumstick being thrown into a pit of pin heads and then open them and fail to see what was different.
A huge chunk of them are only screaming because other people surrounding them are.
They probably have no idea what just happened. I doubt they are even screaming out of excitement. It’s just that it seems to be the done thing to do.
I'm at a gig and people are screaming ergo I must scream to.
Then the lights came back on.
After that they dim and rise a few more times and the reaction is the same each time.
Someone is taking the piss.

It’s fair to say, and pretty obvious, that even before the first band appeared I was already disinclined to enjoy myself.
So it’s also fair to say that Lost Alone were already going to struggle to win me over, but I didn't expect them to go hell for leather to make an already crap night worse for me.
I went from being suicidal to homicidal by the time they hit the midway point of their first song.
As they are signed to Sire/Warner I can only presume that they are a tour buy on as there is no way that they got the slot based on talent.
They are possibly the worst band that I have ever seen in my entire life and for some strange reason some people were cheering them.
Okay I can accept that we don’t all like the same things, but these guys are an atrocity of a band with no saving graces at all.
The people who are cheering could be sectioned off into three groups.
Friends and relatives, semi conscious drunks and fuckers whose ears are painted on.
They introduce their bassist as originally coming from Glasgow and claim that the gig is like a homecoming for them.
Do I care?
Do I fuck.
There is a reason the bassist no longer lives in Glasgow and I suspect it’s because he was run out of town for being a skinny cunt with a stupid haircut and no taste in music.
Lucky for him that’s the criteria for being a member of the band though.
Three songs in and I'm thinking that if I murdered them then a judge would be sure to be lenient if he was aware of what they sounded like.
It could even be argued that I was doing the public a service.
The drummer thrashes away like he has tourettes of the wrists, the lanky bassist fannies about raising his fist in the air doing the devil horn thing so often that it could be an involuntary twitch and the singer/guitarist is just a fret wanking prick.
That someone from a label has listened to these guys and signed them is proof that being deaf ddoesn'thave to be a barrier to working in the music industry.
By the time they did their shit ‘we love you Glasgow’ and fucked off I was a seething ball of hate.

Then over the monitors they started to play Janes Addiction and they acted like a salve to my aching ears and psych.

Next band up were the Street Drum Corp who are probably responsible for stopping me going on a spree killing with my bare hands.
They’re hard to hang any one influence on. They start of with three members playing drums at the front of the stage like a tribal intro to the Nuremburg Rally before settling into a set that touches on industrial noise, dance rhythms, punk rock guitars and glam punk vocals.
They really are a singular concept and one that pushes convention to the limits.
If this is what they can bring to a large venue then a small club would barely be able to contain them.
By now the edge is starting to come off my rage, but their set is far to short to completely relax me.
No sooner have the left the stage and the crowd start getting on my tits again.

I’d have drowned myself in alcohol, but you would need a bank loan for a pint and a second mortgage if you wanted to get a buzz on so I stood still and seethed inwardly until 30 Seconds to Mars come on.
Once they do it’s text book big band schtick though.
Lighting, check, screens, check, can I hear a fuck yeah, check, Blah, blah bah de fuckin’ blah.
Here is a band who can play, the singer can carry a tune and they have bags of energy, but all they are doing is the same old same old clichéd bollocks.
Then Jared asks for a circle pit and people comply, then he asks for people to move out five feet, and they do and then another five and like sheeple they follow his commands.
He must have been hard at the power he commanded.
A little latter he asks everyone in the auditorium to take three steps forwards and I’m pushed forward by the mindless drones.
Then it’s back to working on the size of the pit again. Yaaaaaaaawn. Oh, and in between this they separate the crowd for a bit of shouting and singing a few times to.
Strangely enough for a band who want people to be environmentally conscious and to question the policies of the world leaders they seem to get off on crowd control, and the audiences passive acceptance of this is really at the crux of what pisses me off about them.
Kelly can’t see anything due to being a vertically challenged even more so than myself so we exit the crowd and go to stand at the back of the hall.
Coincidentally enough this is when Jared decides to appear in the seating for an acoustic rendition of one of their songs.
He’s only about 12 feet away from us and Kelly films it all on her phone.
It’s the highlight of the night for her. For me, well I was thinking that I could probably scar him with a well aimed pound coin from my pocket.
Then there was more of the same stuff and just as I was thinking that I was going to have to go outside and wait for Kelly for the sake of my own sanity it ended.
I don’t think that I will be back at the SECC and if I am then it is going to have to be a band that I am willing to put all my reservations of the venue aside for.
Utterly shit.
There you go. You don't get a review like that in the NME do you?

Saturday 27 February 2010

Charity never sounded so good.

Memory Lane - part two

Inspired by finding an envelope of tickets and Kenny from Days of our youth waxing lyrical on the Swinging Utters I thought I'd have another stab at sharing some memories.

Rancid had already played Glasgow previously in the basement of a bar called Nice and Sleazy's, but as I'd missed that I wasn't going to body swerve their return. This was for the Out Comes the Wolves tour and although I've seen the band a few times since then I don't consider that they have matched this gig. It had a pretty mixed crowd, from older punks to the skater kids, and the place was heaving. In hindsight if I had to choose one concert that reignited my love of punk then it was this show.
This one is a bit fuzzy in the memory bank. All I really remember is how loud it was, how fast the played, how fuckin' great the horns sounded and buying a Sludge Nation 7". In the aftermath of this I was pretty disappointed to read an interview with the band where they showed themselves up to be ignorant homophobes. Since then I've given them a miss. let's just say that I'm intolerant of intolerance.
Over the years I've lost count of the times that I've seen the Vandals. So what is it that had me going back time after time? Basically it's because they're a band that you can guarantee to have a good time going to see. Grab some beers, hit the venue, dance like a fool with good mates and just leave all the hassles of everyday life at the door. The Vandals deliver every gig. For this style of punk I reckon they are seriously underrated. Great tunes and great humour.
...and here's one for Kenny as the Utters are his mates. What a gig this was. There wasn't a single down point to it. All the bands were up for it and the pace didn't slacken from the moment the Suicide Machines stepped on the stage to No Use For A Name stepping off it. I was there with a fella called Budgie who while pissed decided to grab the 'see you Jimmy' hat from Johnny Bonnel's head resulting in a wee game of 'chase me' around the small venue. I found it funny, but in hindsight most of the punters there probably thought we were acting like drunken cunts........and they're probably right.
Strange gig this one. I mean Avail and Lagwagon were strange touring partners. It didn't ruin my enjoyment of the night though. Bouncing Souls were a bit hit and miss and I've seen them better. They gave the impression that they had indulged a tad too much pre gig. Avail however were very tight and very powerful and set the benchmark high for Lagwagon to follow them. Lagwagon were just as entertaining, but were pissed off as so many of their younger fans had been turned away at the door. They thought it was an all age gig, while in fact it was for over fourteens and they had to be accompanied by an adult. I lost count of how many teenagers got a knock back from the venue and you could see the impact this had on the size of the crowd. Bit of a rip off really. Selling tickets to kids and then refusing to let them in and failing to provide a refund.
This was the first time that the DMs had played Glasgow and it wasn't in the 13thNote as the ticket says. Due to demand it was moved to the larger capacity Cathouse. (Note the ticket number)
Scotlands own Newtown Grunts stole the show and as their CD is out of print I may add it to the blog at a later date. They really blew the place apart and then Belfasts Oi boys Runnin' Riot ripped the roof off. By the time The DMs were to appear it was touch and go whether they could match their supports. I'd say they matched them, but didn't surpass them. I was a bit disappointed in Als vocals as he seemed out of breath most of the time and urged the audience to sing along to cover the bits that he wasn't up to. This doesn't mean that they weren't good though. They were. Unfortunately since then it's been a case of diminishing returns in my opinion.
As it stands I wouldn't cross the street to see them now. Many Americans with Irish roots miss the point of the sectarian troubles. There is a romaticized view that is the polar opposite of the reality. The west coast of Scotland has been blighted by bigotry, with the are you a proddy or you a tim shite raising its ugly head far to often to mention.
I now consider The Dropkick Murphys are a prime example of this missing the point. A few years ago they turned up at Parkhead, home of Celtic Football Club, played for the crowd and then handed out free CDs to them. In one fell swoop they managed to alienate anyone of a Protestant descent and all the other people who don't want sucked into the bigoted crap that goes on here who were previously fans.
I've had plenty an argument about this over the years with people pointing out that they don't sing sectarian songs.
I've never said they have, but they do pander to a republican crowd by releasing the Irish Folk song 'Fields of Athenry' about the potato famine, a firm favourite of Irish Catholics and a song sung at every Celtic game, and gearing everything they do towards pouching Pouges fans. This sends a less than inclusive message.
Even their forthcoming date in Glasgow it falls on the same day as the Rangers/Celtic match. (What a coincidence) A game that is notorious for being a powderkeg of sectarian hatred from both sides of the divide.
It's a shame that they have chosen to go in this direction as I actually thought they were a bit more sussed than that, but then again there is a prifitable market for that niche crowd.

Friday 26 February 2010

UK Subs news

UK Subs - Dance and Travel in the Robot Age
Loved and maligned in equal measure the UK Subs carry on regardless. I can’t think of another band like them.
Through Charlie’s refusal to lay down the punk flag they have become nothing short of a institution in counter culture circles, and deservedly so in my humble opinion.
So it’s always a pleasure and never a chore when something is released by them, and although this is as rough as you would expect from a CD release of a bootleg from 1980 it’s still a worthy addition to any fans collection.
It’s also for a good cause as it's the first release from the time and matter label that has been created to raise money for charitable causes. 100% of the profits goes straight to a deserving individual. So for the bargain price of a fiver you can get a bit of Subs history and help someone out to.
As far as I can see there are no losers here and everyone is going to come away from the transaction happy. So what are you waiting for. You better be quick as it’s limited to 300 copies.

Thursday 25 February 2010

The Cherrykicks

I love the way one thing links to another and another building up a thread. This time it was from jawing with Nekrodad about The Loyalties. From that I dug out the split that they did with Radio Dead Ones and discovered that The Loyalties drummer was originally in a Scottish band called The Cherrykicks. Now let me tell you. There was a time when in my opinion The Cherrykicks were the band to watch. Live they were streets ahead of the competition and you just knew that if Lady Luck smiled upon them then the future would be bright. Unfortunately Lady Luck was sitting about with her thumb up her arse and failed to offer any help. Regardless of that they did leave the memory of some great shows and even made it into the studio to lay down some promising tracks.
So here's the original promo ep they did. The disc is worn, old, and looks like someone took a dump on it, but audio wise it's alright.
I guess Lady Luck was on my side tonight.

Wednesday 24 February 2010

Variety Suite

Unfortunately I’ve just found out that a local band have decided to call it a day.
It’s unfortunate as I truly believe that they had the makings of something a bit special. They were labeled as indie pop, but to my ears there was a lot more going on. I would have personally described them as a power pop combo with the vestige of the garage hanging around their west coast jangly guitar driven tunes. They seemed to have it all, well crafted songs with four part harmonies being used to the best possible effect, the musical chops and a greater degree of stage presence than many of their young peers possess.
The reason for their demise is that the drummer has been offered the drum stool for a signed band and while some might boo and hiss his decision it’s a hard fact of life that sometimes you have to look after number one.
At the moment it would appear that they are now all going their different ways, but it would be nice to think that they will all look back on their time as Variety Suite with fondness.
Here’s their demos. I hope that you enjoy them, but please keep in mind that they only tell a small part of the story as it was live where these young guys really came into their own. I guess it’s true that sometimes you do actually have to be there.
Good luck to the guys in all their future endeavours.
PS. Please feel free to repost the link as the guys have always upped their demos for anyone to grab. It would be cool to see some interest, even if it’s posthumous."

While I'm here I may as well post the review from the last gig I seen them perform. I'll keep The Tragic City Thieves part in as they are going to featured here in the forthcoming weeks and Har Mar can hang around to, as let's be honest, Har Mar is always welcome to hang around.

Har Mar Superstar / Tragic City Thieves / Variety Suite - King Tuts - Glasgow (6/12/09)
It’s par for the course that support bands will compliment the headliner. They’re the starter before the main course and a promoter is treading in dangerous waters if they want to mix things up and experiment a bit.
It’s normally best to just stick to giving the punters what they know. This is why it would have been unlikely to have seen Motorhead opening for Pavarotti.
It’s one of those unwritten rules that ensures narrow minded punters aren’t too offended by having their musical palates stretched beyond what they can handle.
Yet every once in a while caution is cast to the wind and the support slots are filled by bands who are judged on merit rather than any ability to fit into a confining niche.
When this happens then at the very least you know you are going to be in for a different evening and at the most a special one.
This was one of the special ones.

Opening act Variety Suite are without a shadow of a doubt the very best unsigned indie pop band that Scotland currently has to offer, and the only people who will doubt that statement are the unfortunates who so far haven’t had the pleasure of being introduced to them.
Within the next year I seriously think that it is entirely possible that they will crash into the wider consciousness of the music loving public. They simply have mass appeal stamped all they way through them.
In all my years of watching bands I’m finding it hard to remember ever seeing one with so much precocious talent on display.
In an era where pop music has become synonymous with disposability Variety Suite are the band who are stepping up and showing us how it used to be done by writing classic pop songs and delivering them with a confidence and passion that others strive for but never quite manage.
If you go and see one unsigned band in 2010 then do yourself a favour and make it Variety Suite.

It could be argued that glam rock was sullied in the eighties by bands like Poison, Motley Crue and their ilk. They may well have started off in the gutter with a punk attitude, but the majority soon succumbed to the lure of MTV and the dollar. The fire that initially drew certain people to them was certainly lost in the rush to grab a slice of the pie from the man. By diluting the sound and the attitude for the masses they morphed into a different beast and dragged the glam moniker along with them.
It was a short step from dealing in the unexpected to dealing in slick choreographed moves that hinted of debauchery but never delivered. The real element of danger was replaced by the illusion of danger and it sucked.
Thankfully there are still some bands who peddle in gutter rock and roll with style and panache and Glasgow has one of the best in the Tragic City Thieves. There is a huge fuck you attitude that exudes from them. They walk it like they talk it and if they told you they were the best band in the whole motherfuckin’ world then even if you disagreed you would see in their eyes that they believed their own hype.
The thing is that although they obviously aren’t the best band in the whole wide world they might be one of the best in what they do.
As a unit they are tight. Like the Clash they could be the last gang in town. It’s them against the world and they’re taking no prisoners. It’s that do or die attitude that I love about them.
When they step onto a stage you can see people looking and ‘what the fuck’ is lit like neon on their faces.
The guitarist, Stuart Firefly, is a man mountain with a beard and eyeliner and we all know that you don’t mess with big men with facial hair and make up on. It’s a rule that some people forget, but big men in beards and make up are usually willing to set people straight on the matter if you have an issue.
Once he starts playing you forget all that though as the man is a guitar god. Nimble fingers dance over the frets and wring out solos effortlessly. He sounds immense.
Meanwhile on the opposite side of the stage Jim Rider struts his stuff. Outwardly he’s all sartorially elegance with a coiffure teased to perfection, but start the music and he’s Lord Byron on the bass. Mad, bad and dangerous to know.
In the background Div thrashes away bare-chested wearing of all things a black sequined cape. He’s like a demented Duracell monkey on amphetamines.
Fronting this mad circus is CJ. He’s sporting crack whore make up and channelling Iggy Pop into his performance. I’m sure in his head when he is in the audience during ‘Lady Machine’ he’s serenading men and women alike. The reality is that a six footer is nose to nose with punters growling couplets of darkness into their face.
This is tightly controlled madness, but it’s hard to tell if the band know this themselves.
Collectively they are a potent mix. There is no middle ground with them. You either love or hate them. No matter what one of the two it is you will certainly remember them.
What Tragic City Thieves deal in is unadulterated rock and roll that’s not for the faint of heart.

Har Mar Superstar is everything people say about him. A diminutive pervert going to seed who parades around in his underwear for the entertainment of a disparate group of weirdos. He’s also a funky genius with more talent in his little finger than most would care to admit, but why let that get in the way of a good character assassination.
In Glasgow he has nothing to prove though. He’s playing in front of his people. We love him, he loves us and it’s just a big love in. Fantastique.
Mainly drawing from his latest album ‘Dark Touches’ he breakdances, struts and strips across the stage backed by one of the funkiest bands that I’ve seen.
Highlights were the latest single ‘Tall Boy’ and a cover of the Libertines ‘Don’t look back into the sun’, but to pick them out as such doesn’t mean that the rest of the set paled into insignificance next to them. They were just the jewels in a glittering crown.
From start to finish the entertainment just got better and better and I am left wondering why all gigs couldn’t be like this. I’m still on a high from it.

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Memory Lane

Once upon a time I had every single ticket for every single gig I had attended from the age of 14 upwards. Unfortunately many years ago when a relationship came to an end the majority of my tickets left with with my then girlfriend. I'd like to be charitable about it, but basically it was a low blow. There was no need to do it, but what can you do?
Anyway today I was searching through my music collection and found an envelope of tickets from the late 80's and early 90's. Not everything was there, but there was a few that brought back some cool memories.
Here's just some of them.
This was pretty special. The original line up had buried the hatchets and decided that they would tour again. Vanian had dropped the vampire styled look and instead was resplendent in leathers and a quiff, the good captain was wallowing in being his usual over the top self, Scabies was a powerhouse and Brian James was simply the dogs bollocks. What a gig. It's unusual for me, but I haven't a clue who was supporting. maybe I was at the bar, or still being pulled out of the gutter. In fact truth be told I don't even remember who was there with me. All I remember is the gig. Everything else is a blank.

The Ramones were everything I thought they would be. I had been a long time fan, but for one reason or another I never seemed to make it to any of their gigs prior to or even after this one. This was a singular, one night only experience and I grabbed it with both hands. I remember clearly thrashing away down the front and on leaving the crowd a mate asking what was wrong with me. I'd dislocated a thumb and chipped half of my front tooth off and hadn't even noticed. A sure sign of a good gig.

Mikes first solo UK tour. About five of us went to this and had a blast. My mate Grotty and myself enjoyed ourselves so much that we slept in the bus station overnight, in what felt like sub zero temperatures, to catch a bus to Newcastle and do it all over again the next day. The Stage Dolls were the support band and rounded it out a bit. A good solid package. Newcastle was actually the better gig of the two mainly due to a very emotional Mike Monroe dedicating you can't wrap your arms around a memory to Razzle and the crowd taking over the vocals from him.

We met Johnny before this and he was smacked out of his face. Barely able to string a coherent sentence together, but in a strange way that was what we were expecting. The gig itself started off in a shambolic enough manner, but by about the third song it all clicked into place and Johnny played a set that confirmed him as the legend we thought he was.

This was my first time of seeing the Wildhearts, Although I had seen Ginger before with The Quireboys when they toured with Wolfsbane. This, however was a whole new ballgame and had nothing to do with the cocksure swagger of the Faces styled rock that the Quireboys played. This was balls to the wall rock and roll that owed more to the late seventies punk scene than anything else. Another gig that I can clearly remember leaving bruised and exhausted from.

Mission Accomplished - The Rezillos

ElD - Thirty years since the Knutsford Dominators became The Rezillos. A long time by any ones reckoning. Do you ever take a second, and think “What the hell are we doing”?
Joe Callis - A second? I sometimes take hours or even days thinking that. I deliberate on that question with every aspect of my life, “what the hell am I doing” but I just keep doing it regardless, we’ll never learn. I guess “it’s the way it is“, to quote Run DMC!

ElD-There is great deal being said and written about punk at the moment. Do you collectively even consider the Rezillos as a punk band? I always thought that you were much more multi faceted than most. Later on punk started to spread its wings, but at the outset your lack of nihilism definitely threw up an opposing option to many.
JC-Yes, due to the current national obsession with “anniversaries“, which I’m sure in many cases are publicised more to stimulate various sectors of the retail trade than for nostalgia or celebratory purposes, we now have the 30th anniversary of “punk” this year. We ourselves played at the BBC6 punk anniversary party at the 100 Club in London just a couple of weeks ago (30th March) and great fun as it was, and a good opportunity to thank BBC6 for their ongoing goodwill towards us, I don’t think that it would have given anyone there a true taste of what the edgy excitement of those old days was really like. No, we never really considered ourselves then to be a “punk” group, new wave perhaps, but now “Punk” is more a simple reference to a genre of music than anything else, in the “old days” it had the mostly misunderstood
connotations of an unsavoury rebellious lifestyle, much like Rock and Roll in the 1950’s and Hip Hop in more recent times. We don’t mind so much being called “punk”
now, it is a great word, especially when prefixed with “two bit” -as in the American vernacular. I think we’re probably more nihilistic now anyway.

ElD-I always thought that as a band you didn’t really get the acclaim, and fame that you deserved. On hindsight do you think that here were missed opportunities? Specifically, why didn’t you move to London, and why the lack of touring out with the UK?
JC-I’m sure there are missed opportunities in most endeavours, unfortunately for us due to our youth and inexperience we crashed at the first real hurdle, and the major
opportunity we missed was simply to resolve our differences and carry on as a band, but you live and learn I guess. I think the naive dream of the late 70’s/punk era was
that the music industry came to you if you made a big enough noise, and nationally reported scenes were springing up in Manchester, Leeds and all sorts of places, and
with the “local” independent label situation being probably the healthiest it’s ever been, decentralisation was the issue of the day, so like fucking idiots we just stayed put in Edinburgh. doh! I¹m not sure why we never got abroad more, I guess we thought to “crack” the UK first then spread our wings, but we ended up splitting up instead.
Strangely enough though, we now seem to have a lot more “legendary” status than many of the more successful groups of our day. It¹s the James Dean syndrome

ElD-Your association with Sire records must have been like a dream come true initially, yet they sat on the album for months. What was their reasoning for this, and how disillusioning was it for you all?
JC-Yes, which begs the saying; “Be careful what you wish for“. We were on top of the world about it at the time though, when the record (Can’t Stand The Rezillos) was ready for release Sire were in the process of changing their European distribution from Phonogram (now part of multi national “Universal“) to Warner Brothers, we had to wait till Sires deal with WB was signed sealed and delivered before the album could come out. Ultimately though, as Sires first release on Warners, along with latest The Talking Heads album, we and The Talking Heads did score with a lot of promotion, and high profile in-store displays etc in most of the major record shop chains. So although initially a frustrating situation, we probably benefited from the brief hiatus.

ElD-Do you feel that they were holding you back from maximising on the interest that you were generating from live shows?
JC-Not over here I don’t think; The whole punk/new wave thang was growing fast and becoming part of the mainstream whilst by and large remaining “cool“. By 1978/9 “The
Jam” for example would probably have generally been considered more a “pop” group than a punk band (It’s a shame that “pop” has become such a dirty word these days).
Likewise, we had only ever really wanted to be a self contained pop group, much like The Beatles or The Rolling Stones were in the 60’s, so the transition to the
commercial arena would have presented no problem for us, it would have been almost part of the plan. In the US however, I don’t think that Sire really knew quite which
was the best way to market us. I think they saw that we perhaps had the potential to “crossover” into the American mainstream, like the way that “Blondie” ultimately
would, more so than The Ramones, who at the time were probably the biggest US “punk” band, and in those pre Green Day/Offspring etc times The Ramones had probably reached the limits of the existing market. In a way, we have often felt that we are taken much more seriously in the US.

ElD-Why did you go for Sire? Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t there some interest from CBS and Decca?
JC-I don¹t know about CBS, but we did have some interest from the newly reactivated Decca, and also from Bearsville, which was Todd Rundgrens label. Being a Todd fan
myself, that definitely appealed but I think the Sire thing just moved along much more quickly, with Seymour his “bad” self flying over here to woo and charm us. I think we quite liked the idea of being on a cool US label which would give us some unique mystique and individuality!

ElD-I’m sure that you are tired of this, but indulge me. What was it honestly like appearing on top of the pops. As a music show it’s a bit of a joke now, but this was the highlight of the week for many at the time.
JC-Man, for me, and I’m sure for the rest of ‘em, this was a dream come true! We’d grown up with that show. Everything stopped on a Thursday night for it -corporation bus timetables had to be tailored to accommodate the rush to get home by 7.30. The very thought of Pans People still gives us a funny schoolboy/schoolgirl trouser tingle. It was usually a long day but doing TOTP was fucking great, you’d get to meet some of your heroes, chat to “Legs and Co” and I’d just join in with the audience after we were done, dodging the psycho cameramen who’d flatten you with the huge cameras like Panzers if you didn’t get out the way. Fucking brilliant! The job was a good ‘un. I¹ve still got my little red TOTP flag, which I captured during my days with The Human League, proudly on display in my home studio.

ElD-I‘m interested in the whole cult of celebrity thing. Was there a vast difference in how you were perceived as individuals pre top of the pops, and post top of the pops?
JC-Yeah, all of a sudden everyone thinks you’re stinking rich, so in stingy freeloading Edinburgh everyone thinks you ought to buy them a drink, and if you don’t then you’re the stingy cunt. People who would profess to disliking hippy’s would accuse you of “selling out” (man). Some would make a point of ignoring you in in fear of their friends thinking them posers for talking to you, some people who had previously snubbed or look down at you all of a sudden think they’re your best friend. But it was a helluva lot easier to pull, so fuck the lot of ‘em. Oh yeah, and people expect you to listen their tedious “Demo” tapes all the time, like you¹ve got nothing better to do; “Yeah mate, that’s brilliant, I’ll get you a deal with EMI records tomorrow!”

ElD-I don’t recall any promotional videos for your material at the time. Was this an artistic outlet that you would have wanted to explore? Did you have any ideas kicking about?
JC-We did actually do a promo video for “Destination Venus” when it was released as the follow up single to Top Of The Pops. The whole promo video thing was very much in
it’s infancy at the time, Sire/WB had booked a photo studio type room for an afternoon for us somewhere in London on November the 5th 1978 I think it was. The entire film crew consisted of one guy with his 16mm movie camera! The same chap incidentally that had filmed our recent London Lyceum gig for use on BBC’s “The Old Grey Whistle Test”. It transpired that we all got along well with our Producer/Director/Cameraman, and by bouncing a few ideas about and pretty much making things up as we went along, by early evening we had all our footage in the can. We then went back to our grubby Paddington hotel room and set off all the fireworks that we had purchased earlier in the day, from the balcony window and even in the room, much to the consternation of the hotel management. When the thing was edited together, we were all very pleased with the result, and even the record company seemed happy with it. Considering many of today’s “no expense spared” video promo’s, we are still quite proud of what was achieved in a single afternoon on a budget of next to buggar all. Unfortunately, as we had pretty much split up by the time “Destination Venus” was released, the video received very little airing and we’d now dearly love to get hold of an original master if one still exists. There are some bootleg copies knocking around but mostly 3rd or 4th generation domestic VHS jobs. I’d love to see it again as I don’t even have a dodgy video copy, and it would be great to have it to re-release on DVD perhaps along with some other archive footage. So yeah, this is an artistic outlet that we would still love to explore, and we¹ve got loads of ideas kicking about for such endeavours. -Bring It On!

ElD-To jump from then to now, do you want to give us your highlights from then, and highlights since reforming?
JC-I guess our first highlight was the surprise at getting encores at even our first ever gigs - we’d never experienced anything like that before. So much of it is a highlight, because when all is said and done, we just love doing it, we even perversely get off on the rows and arguments. Recording in New York had to be a highlight from the early days, and going back to the US to tour some 23 or 24 years later was a more recent highlight, we seem to get on with America, and America seems to get on with us, at least within those that know us there. Highlights! -why, we could write a book.

ElD-I was at the last gig that you played in Glasgow (Garage). While at the bar I got talking to a couple who had traveled from Japan, and based their holiday around some nights of your tour. Does this type of adulation seem surreal to you?
JC-I think this kind of thing is quite usual for most bands who have a bit of a following -even a “cult” one. Adrian Wright, who I was in The Human League with during the 80’s, used to follow The Ramones everywhere whilst at the same time professing to “hate” Rock and Roll, now that’s pretty fucking surreal to me, but he was a nuttier, and hopefully still is (bless ‘im). At our most recent gig at The 100 Club in London (30th April 06) I was talking to a Spanish guy who had last seen us in his home town of Guadalajara in 2003.

ElD-You played some new songs that night, but as far as I’m aware they haven’t seen the light of day. What’s happening with new material? Has there been any recording
done, and what’s the current situation with label interest?
JC-We¹ve only recorded our newer material as either “Demo’s” or on live radio sessions so far. We would love to put new stuff out but have no noticeable label interest at present, at least none that we are aware of. We do intend to record a new single this month, and we’ll put it out ourselves if we have to. Also at some point we'll put some mp3s up on our website, these will include some of the newer songs. Well, it worked for The Arctic monkeys!

ElD-There have been sporadic shows here in the UK, but will there be a tour? How difficult is it to actually commit to touring, as I’m sure you all have other responsibilities that need your attention.
JC-It is difficult to tour with people having other commitments, I’m the only person in the group who is full time “in the business” so to speak, we’ve been trying to arrange to get back to the States for a tour for over a year. We did do a summer tour of UK dates last year though. Being an unsigned band, it’s difficult to tour without losing money, especially abroad. We do need that new record out so we have something to promote and hopefully sell and also to raise our profile a bit, aye it’s tough at the bottom.

ElD-So in closing is this going to be the year that the Rezillos finally reap the rewards?
JC-Well here’s hoping! Rock ‘n’ Roll isn’t rocket science, basically you put out records, do gigs/tours etc. hoping that things get promoted properly, then get wasted and smash up your hotel room, oh -and the internet helps a bit to these days, we are at the moment in the process of giving our site ( ) a major overhaul. So the plan, as much as there is one, is; Get some records out, get some dates lined up (hopefully including Glasgow again soon, -we like Glasgow) get the website overhauled, and just get rockin‘!

Monday 22 February 2010

Warrior Soul

It’s cold outside. It’s very, very cold and I’m on the phone to Johnny H asking if someone can let me into the Barfly.
Thankfully he doesn’t leave me hanging and the small warm dressing room is a welcome relief from the weather.
Ricky Warwick is in the corner holding onto the flu and looking like death warmed up, and to my shame it didn’t even click who he was until a little later.
He’s not saying much though and reserving his voice for his set.
Most would have called in sick, but huge kudos have to go to Ricky for sticking with it.
We all have a couple of beers and chat away before Kory and myself head upstairs for the interview.
Everything is all very easy and relaxed.
There‘s no rock star egos on display from any of Warrior Soul.
They’re like a gang who are all comfortable with each other and know that they don’t need to impress anyone.

Kory himself is very approachable, and after a couple of minutes gets into the flow of talking.
I get the impression that while he is happy to promote the band and the new album he is actually happier when he’s just engaging with people.
He want’s to know what’s going on and will jump in with his take on everything that’s touched on.
I was expecting a New York rocker, but what I got was a nomadic man of the world who has a far greater grip on a world view than most.
A pleasant surprise.

El Diablo- When you reformed the new Warrior Soul was it initially a short term project, but with the renewed interest you thought you would just run with it?
Kory - Yeah. It was pretty much like that.
ElD - …and with what’s currently going on in the world politically has that put the band and yourself in a position that the material has far more relevance?
K - It’s certainly more relevant now. People are ready to listen I think. They’re in the correct frame of mind now and they seem to be ready for someone to say something.
ElD - The message hasn’t really changed though.
Were you really just before your time in what you were singing about?
K - Probably. The message was on time before
ElD -….but people weren’t listening
K - Exactly. Yeah, no one cared. They were off in their own fantasy world or something, but now more and more people realize what’s going on. So the message we were putting over has been completely validated. Right now I’m concentrating on saying what’s going to be coming up next, and that‘s what I‘m going to be doing.
ElD - Warrior Soul has always been your vehicle. In hindsight do you think that you slipped between the cracks a bit.
A band out of place and time.
Too political for the mainstream heavy metal fans and too rock and roll for the punk fans. Would that be a fair assessment?
K - It could be. It could also be that I wasn’t from Seattle at the right time.
ElD - Yeah. The whole grunge thing seemed to be about dressing down, while you guys were pushing a political message more flamboyantly, and living to the excesses of a rock and roll lifestyle at a time when it was no longer fashionable.
K - When we did the first four albums we certainly didn’t fit in at all, but with Space Age Playboys I was more anticipating Green Day and The Darkness (ironic)
ElD - Do you feel you opened the doors for a lot of bands, and they had an easier ride as the way had been paved for them?
K - Probably not an easy ride, but we were there first a lot of the time.
ElD - So you had a bit of the pioneering spirit
K - Yeah, yeah. I’m guess I’m just too smart for my own good and out of my time. I just deal with what interests and entertains me.
ElD- ….and hopefully others will key into that.
K - Yeah and if they don’t, well whatever. What can you do? but here we are eighteen years later and people are starting to get it. I just keep making progressive music.
ElD We seem to be on the cusp of the downfall of capitalism, but what do you think is going to fill the vacuum. Is the Fourth Reich coming?
K - The Fourth Reich is already ready. The banking cartels in London and the banks that run America have stolen all the money, even though the money is all made up anyway, but they’ve stolen it all and what they are planning on doing is creating a huge economic downturn that will lead to food shortages and then riots, and then allow them to introduce martial law, and then we’ll not be far from detention centres for those who speak out.
ElD - I’d agree with you. We already have new laws being drafted that erode our civil liberties. In the US there’s the homeland security being used and here in the UK it would appear that there is something new every day. It all supposedly to protect our rights, but…
K - That’s it exactly. That’s what they did in Nazi Germany.
ElD - History is circular isn’t it? We just see it repeating on itself.
K - Did you know Bush’s grandfather was a Nazi and things like the Skull and Bones were instrumental in creating the federal reserves. The federal reserve were instrumental in bringing us world war one and two, the depression, the cold war. It’s got everything to do with what’s going on.
ElD - It’s not a great conspiracy theory that a minority are orchestrating world events to line their own pockets and garner power.
K - It’s not a conspiracy at all. The stock market has been rigged since it’s conception. Why do you think they made it?
ElD - To screw the majority.
K - Yeah.
ElD - I used to think that there was a veneer in place and those in power paid lip service to us, but that’s gone. They don’t even pretend that we are in charge now. They don’t give a shit and are displaying a level of arrogance that wasn’t previously there. They’ve forgotten that they’re still actually the minority though.
K - Well, they’ve made several mistakes. Iraq is a prime example. They thought they were going to get their piplline through Afghanistan to the Caspian. Then the resistance came on and they didn’t get it. What they forget is that some people aren’t controlled by the Rothschild banking cartel. Like Russia, China and all the middle eastern countries, and they aint going to listen to them. They just got rid of the Oligarchs that the US/UK banks put in after the fall of the soviet union so Putin’s not going to let them in.
ElD - On the subject of dissent. Do you ever see a time when Warrior Soul material will be blacklisted?
K - I don’t know why they would
ElD - Well they can go to extremes and at that point it’s a case of anyone who speaks out against them is silenced.
K - Well they could introduce mind crime laws. You know such as people saying you said it. I can see that coming.
ElD - We’ve seen that already in the recent past with poets being locked up in Gulags, The East German Stasi targeting people, etc. It’s not too much of a reach to see that it’s coming around again.
K - They don’t like the way things are going do they? There will be resistance movements, militias etc. It’s all coming.
ElD - Would you describe it as a pivotal moment in history just now with the battle lines being drawn?
K - Oh yeah. I believe they are, and I believe that everyone is making up their minds. It’s so weird. There’s just so much shit going on right now out there.
ElD - What’s your responsibilities in all this? Do you feel you should be motivating people, or are you just being bloody minded and speaking out about what you want without being censored?
K - When I’m making music I want to sing about things that mean something and I want people to react you know.
ElD - A catalyst for thought?
K - Yeah, like on the Fourth Reich track. The title is taken from Jim Marrs book, The rise of the Fourth Reich, I’m listening back to it and thinking ‘yeah this is heavy duty’ and when people hear it back they’re like ….fuck. And that’s good. That what keeps me doing this.
ElD - I suppose no interview would be complete without mentioning Chinese Democracy
K - Of course.
ElD - A couple of bands were trying to do similar, but got warned off due to the legalities. The Offspring were one. How did you guys get around it?
K - We never released it commercially. Just through gigs and direct. The thing is a band this size doesn’t matter. It’s only going to help them by keeping the name being mentioned. They don’t care, why should they care?
ElD - Exactly. Years ago when your first album was out you made some comments about Sebastian Bach whose Skid Row was a big band at the time, and I’m sure history will level the field there, but he took great offence
K It was nothing. All that does is promote them and us. It’s a game man. It was funny. If you read the interviews I did about how I came up with the name for Chinese Democracy it’s funny. I was watching the Olympics and I thought to myself about the so called democracy and that was it really. It was a two fold idea. When I was asked if I would change the name I said not for all the democracy in China. The best part of the whole things was that it got everyone so wound up. Everyone takes that shit so seriously, but for what?
ElD - Do you like to instigate.
K - (Laughing) Don’t we all?
ElD - It’s got to be done. The band at the moment are predominately European
K - They’re all European.
ElD - Do you feel that we have a greater appreciation for your material here than you do back in the states?
K - I guess just that more people know about it right here. More money was put into my promotion here than anywhere else
ElD… and that helps
K - A lot, yeah. I just don’t like living in America right now. It’s not cool.
ElD - It’s a scary country
K - It really is.
ElD - People seem to blindly accept what they are told. That’s just an outsiders view, but is that fair?
K - There’s just too many religious people. It’s just crazy dude. I just want to chill, catch fish and go out on tour. I don’t want to worry about anything else.
ElD - Let’s change tact. How do you feel about the new album?
K - It’s a fucking great record
ElD - As an old fan that wandered off onto the wilderness I was pretty impressed with the new material and now I’m thinking I missed out.
K - Well it’s a new Warrior Soul album put out by Warrior Soul. I sing in a band Trouble and I sing in another called Mob Research and I’m producing a band called the Stoned that’s more like a tv show, but with this I put that hat on went into the studio and laid it down, went back and did some over dubs and that was it in two weeks. That’s how you make rock records.
ElD - Did you find it easy. Did it flow.
K - It did. I mean right from the top. We spent about four or five days working on it. That’s it. I went in and we nailed it. I wanted seven or eight songs with there parts and we did that and then went and sat in a cabin and just sat down and knocked out all the vocal melodies, all the choruses that night. Next day I couldn’t talk and I flew back to Stockholm and at that point we went to an apartment and just set up a four track with the two tracks on it and I would do the vocal tracks and they would do the over dubs. ElD - What’s your expectations for it.
K - I don’t know. We’re getting record deals all over Europe starting in January. A release in February. I’m starting writing the new album in January with the guys. So I’m thinking about dropping every six months. We’re going to kick ass. I got to get out there before the whole world goes into meltdown.
I mean there are always other markets that I think would appreciate me.
ElD - The time does seem to be right. Going back to the early days you were doing spoken word poetry in New York. Do you think of going back to that?
K - I haven’t. I did do an acoustic show the other day, but I’ve always doing things like drumming, having everything on track and singing and doing poetry. I like performing with the band that better than strictly doing spoken word.
ElD - Maybe it’s something for the future.
K - Maybe, but just now I just want to rock out. I might do it on some odd nights, but I’m not carrying my poetry books around and I’m cool with that
ElD - Saying about rocking out. Is ‘She’s Glaswegian’ about Jayni.
K - Yeah. It’s about her and all her friends. It a sexy and positive song.
ElD - It encapsulates Glasgow as a city. As someone that was born here I can listen to it and I don’t think there’s some yank who thinks he knows what Glasgow is like. It actually is Glasgow and it’s strange that a New Yorker get’s it.
K - I’ve got history here. For the last twenty years, and it was just time to write something and it came to me and I was carrying it around for two years in my head. We just racked it out. It’s cool
ElD - I’m not that territorial but Glasgow really is a fantastic city.
K - It’s great man.
ElD - A friend from New York said that they are very similar cities. Flip sides of the same coin. Sort of cities of extremes.
K - They are. More so than London is for sure. People are more real. This is my kind of folks.
ElD - …and you are playing with Gun in the Carling in a few weeks.. You do realize that you are going to piss all over them.
K - Well they are going to realize it on the first night.
ElD - I think they have the singer from Little Angels fronting them now. I seen them years ago and they are a good band, but let’s be honest. They’re not Warrior Soul. It’s a strange pairing.
K - Well some people say it’s great, other say no, but most are saying it will work out good.
ElD - I like a mixed bill, but in this case there will be people there to see you and others to see Gun, but very few will be there to see both.
K - Hey. I like going on first. I hope we get good lights and PA and shit and we wake people up.
ElD - Are you still playing the whole first album for it.
K - That’s what they want to do. I want to play ‘Glaswegian’ I’ll slip it in.
ElD - I hope you mean the song
K - (Laughing) Maybe both man, maybe both.
ElD - Well if you can’t enjoy yourself in Glasgow you may as well be dead.

So that was it. The gospel according to Kory. It was really just the start of the evening though.
Next was Ricky doing a short sound check, but as it’s him and an acoustic it’s an easy process getting the levels right.
His take on the Motorhead classic Ace of Spades is something to hear.
Warrior Soul rattle through a couple of songs and rip out the ‘She’s Glaswegian’ track to a smattering of applause from those hanging about. It’s all sounding good.
There’s time to kill and the pub is beckoning so Kory and myself head around to the Crystal Palace were we get acquainted with Mr Jack Daniels and Ms Stella Artois before sampling the delights of something called a frilly tutti that was a pitcher of something that had alcohol and fruit juice in it.
Rille joins us for a couple, but then goes upstairs to meet some friends from Glasgow.
It one of those nights when time just vanishes.
I got a few missed calls on my mobile and when I checked it was Johnny H looking for Kory and Rille. There might have been a hint of panic there as when we returned to the Barfly the supports had finished and it was as if we just came in the door and Kory and Rille had to get on stage.
Not long now to the Gun gig in the Carling Academy where those who missed out on the Barfly can get a chance to play catch up and see what all the fuss is surrounding Warrior Soul.
Bring it on!!!!

Sunday 21 February 2010

For the love of Ivy

In the world of garage punk there was no one like them. Like a Colossus they straddled genres and crossed over garnering fans all through the alternative rock world. I still feel a sense of loss now that they are gone, and similar to the Clash and the Ramones, their albums have served to be the soundtrack to my life. However instead of going over old ground and posting albums that most of us will have I thought I’d go down the less trodden path of the compilations that have been made in homage to them.
First up is the rather eclectic ‘Goddamn RocknRoll’ compilation that has a global line up on it. It most definitely serves to highlight just how far and wide the influence of the Cramps crept over the years.

The second is a more recent release by Texan band The Flametrick Subs. A band who very obviously sipped from the cup of Lux and Ivy. If this rings your bell then I would urge you to go out and buy anything else they have released. Primal rock and roll always sounds good, but sometimes some bands just do it better and these guys are one of those bands.

The last has a tenuous link to the Cramps but I reckon some people would happily buy me a pint for posting it. It’s the Fur Bible ep that featured Kid Congo Powers on vocals.

I recently went to see Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds playing a gig in Glasgow. A damn good night that apart from featuring tracks from his current and forthcoming albums also had a run through of Gun Club and Cramps tracks. If anyone is interested I can up the review from it. Just leave a request in the comments.


Okay. No one asked for the review, but yer gettin' it. :)

Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds - Soundhaus (26/11/09)

My name is Kid….and I am from Mars……

It sometimes felt that this was the gig that was never to be.
It’s a tale of double bookings, incompetent local promoters and a hero who rode in to snatch victory from the jaws of ineptitude.
It all started as these things often do as a random run of events.
I slipped on Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds latest platter and midway through giving it a spin thought ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if the band were to play Glasgow’.
That thought rattled about inside my head for a while. An itch that I couldn‘t scratch.
So I let my fingers do the walking across the keyboard only to find serendipitously that the band were indeed playing.
Coincidence? Kismet? Does it really matter?
Then when I read on my initial excitement was cruelly dashed.
Kid Congo was explaining that due to a double booking at the Captains Rest the band were without a venue for the gig and the show was in the lap of the gods.
I rushed off a message to the band throwing a Glasgow promoters name forward in the hope that a last minute salvage job could be worked out.
CJ of ’The Tragic City Thieves’ jumped aboard and frantically called around looking for a venue to host the band. Unfortunately, just like Joseph and Mary in the lead up to little baby Jesus being born, there were no doors open to him and he came up empty.
It wasn’t looking good.
Then out of the blue a bulletin appeared on myspace. A new venue was secured and it was happening.
Details were sketchy.
All I knew was that the show was going ahead in the Soundhaus and the doors would open at 10pm.
That was enough. The bare bones is all you need. Everything else is just meat.
On arriving KelC and myself were the first in the door and my paranoid self jumped forward laughing and whispering that no one was going to turn up and the gig would be cancelled.
Then the hero of the hour stepped forward, a guy name Alan, and introduced himself.
This was the fella who sorted everything out last minute. Not a promoter, or a chancer looking to make a quick buck, but a simple fan.
The whole night was his baby from start to finish and everyone who was there owes this guy a drink. Fuck it. I’d buy him two simply for reaffirming my faith in the goodness of people.
There is a small feeder bar/chill out room adjacent to where the bands play and it is in here we are ushered for a pre gig DJ set.
The sounds hit the spot.
From classic 60s R and B to the some proto punk rock with a bit of Bo Diddley telling us he’s a gunslinger, it was all good, and as the time drew closer to Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds playing we were treated to a plundering of tracks from ’Songs the Cramps taught us’.
By now my negative outlook on the attendance figures was slipping away as people started to crowd the bar.
Two acquaintances arrived from my home town. Christ knows how Gav and Billy found out about it, but including ourselves that was four brave souls from deepest darkest Ayrshire that had made it.
Not bad for a place that thinks jungle drums are at the cutting edge of communication technology.
The crowd swelled some more and this was a testament to Kid Congos pulling powers as there was barely any time to promote this show. A good portion must have been there through word of mouth alone.
We finish our drinks and head in for showtime.
It’s only a couple of minutes before The Pink Monkey Birds wander through the crowd and take to the stage resplendent in their mariachi suits. A sense of anticipation ripples through the crowd and Kid Congo joins them.
I had a preconceived idea that as a front man he may have been workmanlike, possibly even a tad uncomfortable assuming the role of focal point for a band, but I was so wrong.
Kid Congo controls the stage. Up front is where he should be. He has the mojo going on.
Psychedelic garage is pumped out and we are lapping it up.
By the time they reach ‘I found a Peanut’ from ‘Dracula Boots’ everyone is singing along.
The band are weaving magic up there on the stage and the audience are spellbound. Events become blurred. Kid Congo tells us that they already have a new album finished.
It’s coming out early next year and we should watch out for it being released as five seven inch singles. They give us a taster by playing a song that may or may not have been called ’When I was a punk’. A track that is blisteringly good.
As would be expected there was a strong contingent of Cramps fans in the audience and they were in a lather when Kid dedicated ’I’m Cramped' to the memory of Lux before following that on with the Gun Clubs ‘For the love of Ivy’.
Someone leaned in and said that it doesn’t get any better than this. I think he was being specific, but when I agreed I was meaning the gig in its totality. The covers, or audience pleasers if you want to call them that didn’t overshadow the bands own material at all. The quality of the show started on a high and refused to dip throughout regardless of where the songs played came from.
For me this year has been one of the best ever for gigs and this one has just rocketed into the top five.
The cover of Ronnie Cook and the Gaylads Goo Goo Muck finished me off.
In hindsight the Captains Rest couldn’t have handled this and the larger Soundhaus was a far better option.
I’m tired now. I’m emotional. I’ve waited a long time to see this guy and his band and my high expectations were more than matched.
There are more UK dates and then they are crawling through mainland Europe. So don’t be square daddio and make it your mission in life to catch one of the gigs. You will not be disappointed.

Thursday 18 February 2010

Look into my eyes.

After highlighting the Jim Jones Revue on here I got a heads up that pre JJR there was the band Black Moses who also rocked out at max power. All amps to eleven sort of thing.
Returning the favour I threw in that before Black Moses, whom I hadn’t heard of, there was Thee Hypnotics.
If there was ever a band that was out of space and time then it was these guys. Critical plaudits and blistering live shows sometimes don’t translate over to mass acceptance and these guys proved it.
Plundering the harder edge of the seventies they took all the best shizzaz from the Detroit scene and dragged it kicking and screaming over to the UK and beat the shit out of it then released it on an album called ‘Come down heavy’.
So here’s the genesis of The Jim Jones Revue in all its glory, but in all honesty it‘s worth checking out everything that Jim Jones has fronted.

Friday 12 February 2010

Earn your wings

Up until a few months ago this had slipped under my radar. As a Hanoi Rocks fan I thought I had, or was close to getting, virtually everything that they have done. Yet here was a whole album that if truth be told could be described as a Hanoi Rocks release with Knox of the Vibrators providing direction and vocals, and I knew nothing about it.
Initially it was the band sans Andy and Mike that went into the recording studio, but as the making of the album got underway they jumped on board to add their skills to the mix to. So here it is. Knox, Sami, Razzle, Nasty, Andy and Mike as The Fallen Angels.

and I guess that while we are on the punk trip with Hanoi Rocks then this would be the ideal time to bring up Demolition 23. Originally a band formed with one of the guys from Star Star it was a vehicle for them to play a bunch of covers in the clubs and just let things rip.
By the time they hit Europe Nasty Suicide was involved though and we were as close to a Hanoi Rocks reformation as we were going to get at the time. Albeit in a punkier and more aggressive form.
I always thought that they could have went on to better things, but Mike called it a day when Nasty left and that, as they say, was that
Hopefully we are about to see a new dawning of this punchier style from Mike as he is currently back with Sami (Bass) and Jimmy Clark (Drums)with his new project The Mike Monroe band.
Meanwhile you can get your teeth into this and wait with bated breath for what the new band can come up with.

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Free and legal music just for you and you and you

Some friends of mine are in a band and have been hammering away at the old music business for a few years now with limited success.
They have had rave reviews in all the alternative press and a fair bit of praise in the mainstream rock magazines to, but this has never translated to them selling many albums.
So what has happened is they have had a major rethink about how they promote themselves and along with some of us who are happy to give a helping hand the end result is basically to provide people with 9 tracks for fuck all as a taster.
There isn't a catch and it's just a simple case of downloading them.
If you like the band then that's great and if you don't then all you have lost is the length of time to download and listen to the tracks.
The other thing is that this isn't a limited offer. Please feel free to email the links or add them to your blogs as you see fit.
In fact the wider that these links can spread the better.
The band are Devilish Presley and some of you mainland europeans may have already heard of them as they have featured on a few magazine mounted CDs, while maybe some of the UK readers will remember them from when they supported the Damned on the English leg of a tour.

Here's the links. Spread them far and wide my friends.

If you want to know more about the band them I'm more than happy to fill you in, or you can have a look at their forum here :


Here's some class music that's kicking around youtube. Comments would be welcome regarding what you guys think.

Tuesday 9 February 2010

The Jim Jones Revue

I'm not going to post the album that these guys have just released. Just watch the footage and if you like them then go and buy it.
So who are they? Well if you get off on Little Richards amphetamine fuelled primal take on rock and roll then these East London chappies are going to be just the ticket for you.
Tour dates are posted on their myspace and with any luck later today I'll grab myself a ticket to see them in a sweaty club very soon.

Monday 8 February 2010


The media hype that surrounded the London punk explosion is usually seen in a negative light, but with the benefit of hindsight we can all see that the ripples of what was being reported on in the capital sent shockwaves through the provinces and gave us all an excellent 2nd wave.
A 2nd wave that in many cases equalled and even surpassed the efforts of the bands who initially kicked the doors down.
It’s a personal opinion, but one of the best scenes that built up in the aftermath was the Northern Ireland one. Even without the benefit of rose tinted glasses I doubt that many would refute that they had a high quota of frankly shit hot bands that defied all the odds to make their mark in the punk history books.
Here’s just one of them. Touted as lightweight at times they may be, but for energetic power pop there is no denying that The Tearjerkers had it nailed down,
If you want to find out more then I can recommend ‘It makes me want to spit’ a definitive account of the NI bands

The Star Spangles released a debut in 2003 that would rock my world.
In the intervening seven years I have revisited this little gem on what must be a monthly basis. If I was to compile a top ten desert island disc list then this album would feature on it. That they didn’t become huge off the back of Bazooka will always be a mystery to me and once you have given this a listen then I’m sure you would agree that they should have broken through big time with it.
Unfortunately for them the window of opportunity for bands who court debauchery and can be found wallowing in the gutter reaching for the stars was never open for long and they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
However if you have a penchant for sleazy rock and roll with a punk attitude then these are the guys for you.
Strangely enough for one reason or another I never picked up the sophomore release called ‘Dirty Bomb’. I guess I should rectify that.

Sunday 7 February 2010

The Members/Department S/Edward Tudor-Pole - 100 Club 5/2/10 (LONDON)

When a band decide that they want to take a trip down memory lane then it’s maybe a good idea to ensure that the spark they had in bygone days can still be fanned into a flame.
Unfortunately no one appears to have told JC Carroll and Chris Payne this. It’s glaringly obvious that without Nicky Tesco to take the lead The Members are without a doubt a very pale shadow of their former selves.
For every scant highlight there is an extended vacation in the doldrums. Hints at greatness proliferate the set, but time after time the band fail to deliver on the promise and instead find a safe haven in mediocrity.
Meanwhile former Stiff label mates Department S are a rock and roll revelation. There is little effort expended on looking into the past with the band preferring to careen forward into the unknown revamped and rejuvenated. Their material from yesteryear is punchier, brighter and more urgent, while the live debut of the cover of My Coo Ca Choo and new song Wonderful Day are met with an ecstatic response from the crowd.
Those looking for a fix of unadulterated nostalgia may be sorely disappointed, but for the rest of us this was a glimpse into the shape of things to come in the Department S camp and it was tantalisingly promising.
As for Edward Tudor-Pole, well the larger than life and eccentric front man of Tenpole Tudor and erstwhile Crystal Maze presenter never fails to entertain. Hammering on an acoustic that has seen better days he defies anyone to take him seriously, and therein lies the magic of his performance. Swords of a thousand men, Wunderbar and madcap ditties on moustaches are all rolled out to the crowds pleasure. Regardless of whether you are laughing with him or at him the response is everything.
Everyone should see this national treasure at least once.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Mike Davis (MC5) Interview 2006

Every once in a while I was thinking I would up an interview I've done in the past.
Here's one I did with Mike Davis in 2006. He was very gracious with his time and his wife was the very helpful in securing the interview.

Prior to meeting Rob in '65, had you seen, or even heard of THE MOTOR CITY FIVE?
MD: No, I had no knowledge of them. I wasn't into rock music, pop music, whatever, because at the time my ambition was still to be a painter and I was trying to return to my studies.

At the time you were attending university, had already traveled about a bit, lived in NY, and even married. Did you initially think that you had much in common with the rest of the band?
MD: Not much. I thought of them as suburban drifters, trying to distance themselves and impress their world by being celebrity neophytes. I had taken a big chance at my own independence and I had a lot to tell about. These guys were just breaking out of Lincoln Park, Michigan.

How did the first meeting go when Rob introduced you?
MD: Great. I wasn't expecting to become a part of their world. Wayne was the most outgoing of them, more so even than Rob, and I was welcomed into the fold, but that is typical of Kramer. If Wayne deems you have something to offer that he can use, he will put you on his guest list. I had new brown Beatle boots, and I looked bohemian to top it off. I guess it was a style thing that he hadn't seen before. I wasn't like anybody else. He wanted to get a handle on it. Yet, the character that gave off the most vibe in the band was Fred. His mystique was what impressed ME. I thought the rest of them were pretty common as characters go.

I read that Rob described you as a pretty heavy dude. What do you suppose he meant by that?
MD: Ha ha…A heavy dude was someone who was bringing the hip street philosophy that became known as alternative subculture. It's just a tag, like saying someone is cool, etc.

Was it a bit of a bloodless coup when you joined the band?
MD: More or less. The only bit of fuss was Fred being put off that Wayne installed me as the new bassist without so much as asking anyone else how they felt about it. This pattern continued to be a basic part of the MC5 story. That's just the way it is. It went something like this; Wayne to Fred; "So, is he in or out"? Fred to Wayne: "Well,…I guess he's in". Meanwhile Tyner is nervously shaking his foot and puffing away on a cigarette as his career takes shape in front of his eyes. It should be said that Rob initially wanted me to be in the band. So we can blame him.

The MC5 are as well known for their political stance as the music. Can you draw parallels from Vietnam to the current situation with Iraq?
MD: A lot of people do. Certain things for sure are the same as they always have been. Like the CIA being used as a task force for a presidents' agenda somewhere in the world. It's what gives us a bad name. As a people who are concerned about what we do as a people, it gives me the shivers that the nation can stand by and watch as successive presidents corrupt our values with brutally lame policies. I know the world is most complex, but come on now, haven't we learned anything?

What do you feel is the difference with the kids then and now? Do you think the tail end of the sixties promoted a more radicalized youth culture compared to now, and if so, was that a good thing?
MD: It's this; the kids of then are the parents of the kids of now. That's about the size of it. Otherwise, kids are kids, basically. If these kids were faced with the same world as the one we had in the sixties, the reaction would be the same as then. Everything that led up to the sixties being the sixties created a powder keg socially. Now we have a new powder keg, and I'm wondering how it will play out. It's all just history anyway, isn't it? It was, as you say, a more radicalized youth culture. Unfortunately, when someone tries to perform radical behaviour nowadays, they do it like the radicals of the end of that era, the ones who led it into chaos and defeat. The better tact was to let the authorities come off as the villains, but somehow that method was abandoned in favour of aggressiveness. Problem is, that is the core of terrorism, and that's bad.

The White Panthers stance was a call for some form of unity, but do you consider that the Black Panthers had their own agenda, and viewed your rhetoric with suspicion?
MD: Ha ha. They viewed us as a joke. Those guys regarded white people in general as untrustworthy. They were sick of being abused and wanted to come off as superior to the white world that imprisoned them. If they had been really smart they could have used our camaraderie very effectively, but they couldn't manage it. The talk was turning me off.
I thought we had lost sight of the mission. I wasn't thinking we could overthrow the government. I was thinking we could turn enough people on to the MC5 message that after awhile, we would just become the government. I always thought if anything was possible, we had a chance to bring it about by staying cool instead of forcing it. I was a minority of one.

The US way of life, as promoted by your government, is not garnering much favour globally. What direction do you see this taking?
MD: Yo, until George Bush and his group of crusaders are removed from office, either by election or eviction, we've got a problem. Understand that presently people are just coming around to the fact that Bush-whacker is a liar, and a heartless little bully without humility. Up until now, I think the common American lunkhead was still trying to believe all this war business was justifiable. The entire thing has backfired into the faces of those whom are its promoters. What's also interesting is that the whole nation is suffering internally and is on life support. But it's different from the sixties, because no one can believe it's really happening. "You know something's happening, but you don't know what it is…do you, Mr. Jones". I can see a revolt in the making. I think Bush's days are numbered. If he can't wriggle out of the fiasco gracefully, the Democrats will retake the government by default. They aren't much better, but they are better. The big picture is always what I care about. I still think the only sane world is the rock and roll world. As long as I can play and bring the "heavy dude" message to my fans, there is hope.

While touring with DTK, did it open your eyes to the worldview regarding your countries foreign policies?
MD: Believe me, I knew what was up for some time. I did a lot of touring in Germany and Europe with The Luminarios in the late 90's prior to DKT/MC5 and got the picture right away. But remember, when you play rock and roll, you are more than an American in people's eyes. You are the carrier of the torch, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Do you feel misrepresented by your government?
MD: Absolutely.

As I've now mentioned DTK now, how was the tour, what was your personally highlights, and was there a downside?
MD: DKT is the name. For me, it was inspiring that our story, legacy, whatever you want to call it, is so globally, universally important. We went everywhere you can imagine with this show. It seemed there wasn't any place that MC5 wasn't as revered as if it were Detroit or New York or London or Tokyo. Just unilaterally too important to be overlooked and forsaken. In Russia, Croatia, Serbia, Scandinavia, Greece, Brazil, all of Europe, all of the US, the Orient, Down Under, we are known throughout the world as the brief but bright flame that changed everyone forever. More than any other band, the MC5 left a growing legacy that continues today to astonish people and inspire them. This is what I learned from touring the past couple of years. That is a great feeling for me. Working with great players who gave their all to the performances, meeting the many fans and promoters who were so unabashedly honoured to bring us to their venues, and living the life of a road warrior traveling without end to the next crowd of excited revelers. The downside is a bit more difficult to tell. There is a small conspiracy that feels the MC5 should be immersed in a jar of formaldehyde, or encased in a glass tomb for a Smithsonian exhibit. That's their problem. I'm glad we did. So there is the final chapter. The fact that we can walk away and end the tour of DKT/MC5 is not as much a downside as it is an upside, in my opinion. I feel free to go on a new quest, without the leftover incompleteness that was formerly the case. We did it, it's over, let's move on. The MC5 was only one stage in my career. In a sense, the tour of DKT/MC5 was a healing experience all around, both personally and professionally. I thought of Fred Smith often. I thought of Rob Tyner often. I didn't write the script, just the songs. I only played my part. By the time we ended the tour in Los Angeles at UCLA's Royce Hall, I was not digging the animal that DKT had become. It was more like KKK, and it felt like time to get out again.

I was at the Glasgow show (Garage) and was blown away with the energy. Was it tough keeping it going? (Shameless fanboy question)
MD: Not really. It's what we do. The MC5 is all about the energy. It's not tough for me. I revel in it. In fact I felt sort of held back...

On that night in particular there were two other big name bands playing in Glasgow, Velvet Revolver and another I can't recall at the moment. I was worried that there would have been a poor turnout for DTK, yet it was a sell out with the majority of the crowd being under thirty. Did the age of the crowd, and the success of the shows come as a surprise for you?
MD: Velvet Revolver isn't doing anything particularly new or inspiring. If you are looking for something to ring your bell, the MC5 is your huckleberry. I never noticed the age of any crowd. They are pretty equal to me in that they all come expecting what we deliver. I don't regard them as young or old or any of that. I don't care if they are all grandpas and grandmas. I wouldn't be surprised if whole families showed up. The spirit of what we are is in the music we play; it knows no age.

I'm sure you have been asked a thousand times, but how does it feel playing the songs without Rob and Fred?
MD: I really wish they could have been there. I remember when Fred and I lived in the upstairs attic of an old house in Detroit. We would dream about being big stars and having an ice box full of Coca Colas or beer or whatever, and how we stumbled around with our attitudes and dreams and suffered through outrageous disappointments. Here I was, some 38 years later, living the glory of those dreams without him. I almost cry thinking of it. We meant a lot to each other, I don't care what anybody else says about it. All these people who claim to have made the MC5 what it was are blowing their own trumpets. It takes a big commitment to have a real band. You bond for the whole trip, not just awhile. You become "one".

I thought Nicke Royale was outstanding. Do you think you will work with him again, and is there any further plans for DTK?
MD: I think yes. I would like to work with Nicke. He and The Hellacopters have been great boosters of Detroit style music. As far as DKT goes, I'm comfortable to put it to bed until another public demand is made to bring back MC5 a-go-go. So, no there aren't any plans at this time.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you left MC5 in '71. Was it a difficult decision, and how did it come about?
MD: The decision was made without my participation. Much like the way in which I was brought in, my departure was brought about behind the scenes. By that time, we were no longer functioning as a real band. Tyner was slightly desperate to keep on going because he was getting the business at home about the lifestyle that had taken us over. Tyners' big kick was weed, coffee, cigarettes, fat chicks, and beer. He was kind of a lightweight compared to the rest of us. Kramer, Thompson, and me were addicts. Smith was a user, but not to the point of being strung out, at least not as I recall. 1971 was the last year we were a band. Sinclair had done everything in his power to deride us in print, calling us all sorts of names and trying to instigate anti-MC5 sentiment. As we attempted to forge our way into the business on a professional level, critical errors were made. We had no management to speak of, only Dee Anthony, a high profile New York pro who did Stevie Winwood and a host of English rock bands. He was our record company guy, so management wasn't his bag - he was on the label's side. We were listening to but not accepting offers presented to us by prospective real managers. We were burning down the forests as we went along. I was caught in a trap, unable to pull myself out, sinking further and further away from the connection we had started in 1966. In my disappointment I turned to dope as a way to avoid all the crap. When I got to England late enough to miss the first gig of an anaemic tour, Kramer made the push to get rid of me. My behaviour didn't convince any of the others this was a bad move. I am one of the only two people to ever be kicked out of The MC5 for being a drug addict. The pot was calling the kettle black here. It was just a desperate move by desperate people. I was relieved beyond description. The weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders.

If it hadn't disintegrated, do you think a continuation would have been detrimental to the bands' legacy. I suppose what I'm asking is, is it better to burn out, than fade away?
MD: It wasn't burn out. It was crash and burn. I think the rest of them got caught in the ghost yard and never could get over it personally. Actually by me being terminated, I was spared the trauma of the end. I've been virtually free of MC5 jet lag over the years. Others may have not been so fortunate.

How did the DTK idea come about? Who approached who?
MD: My but you are getting into all the restricted areas, aren't you? I wanted to call the band Renegade Party, but someone thought we needed to be recognized as the MC5 without calling it the MC5. So it came down to using our initials as the band name along side MC5
so that the audiences knew exactly what they were getting. Who did what first is a can of worms. I'd rather not even talk about it. It's a lot of explaining this and that, and everyone wants to be credited with the good stuff and no one wants any part of the bad. A short time after Gary Grimshaw and Becky Tyner authorized the use of the mark on t-shirts for Levis, my manager was tipped off and stepped in to negotiate on behalf of Dennis and me because when Levis learned that Grimshaw does not have authority to license use of the MC5 mark, they wanted approval from all of the surviving band members and the estate of Fred Smith too. All I know is that then I got a call on my cell phone from an English guy who proposed the idea of getting together with the other former original members of the MC5 and coming to England for a one-off performance. He asked if I thought that it had any possibility of succeeding. I told him that from my standpoint it was very exciting and I would jump at the chance to play with my former mates. I couldn't speak for the others, but told him he should go for it and that he would need help. I referred him to my manager, who picked up the ball from there, and eventually got the whole thing rolling in spite of a hoard of conflicts that developed at the beginning. No one has ever given Angela any credit for pulling the band back together when there were personalities and demands from all corners. Well, she did it! (While I am giving credit where credit is due, Margaret Saadi Kramer thought to film the show at the 100 Club and produced Sonic Revolution; A Celebration of the Music of the MC5. She and Angela have worked very closely and very hard to do a lot of repair work where old and new MC5 business are concerned and move it all forward in a businesslike and ethical way. The members of the MC5, the families of the survivors, and a lot of other people have all benefited a great deal from their work.)

Was there a moment when you thought "What the hell am I doing"?
MD: I always knew what I was doing. It was the curtain call of a lifetime.

It might be a cliché, but was the reaction from the fans worldwide something that made it all worthwhile?
MD: You know, it meant so much to get it from the people themselves, not the press or the book writers. The real folks that go out and buy it and collect it, and listen to it every day for that one more new thing they hadn't heard before. You guys mattered! You guys made this a better place. If only Fred and Rob could have heard those crowds cheer for them…maybe they did.

Obviously all the guest singers were exceptional, or they wouldn't be doing it, but did any stand out and just blow you away?
MD: I thought they were all great, but one guy was stratospheric by himself. I wasn't completely sure what he was doing half the time, until I saw the playback of The Craig Kilborn Show. He was out front doing a sync baritone octave vocal with Mark Arm on Kick Out The Jams, and I realized what he brought to the sound was uniquely his own interpretation of that song. His name is Evan Dando. The press derided his presence with the band from even before day one, but for me he was a true original. That's something I value above most everything else. That's just a personal favourite moment.

You have had a varied career, MC5, Destroy all monsters and Lumarios, what's next?
MD: A lot more than ever before. Angela and I own and operate Svengirly Music, Inc., an artist management, music publishing and merchandising company for punk and garage bands. Among others we manage a great band from L.A. called The Lords of Altamont. We have a killer record just out right now in the U.S. and in Europe called Lords Have Mercy. I most likely will join the Lords on tour in Europe sometime in February. We are playing SXSW after the tour. Then I'm off to Italy to produce a great band called OJM. We also have been working on a photo book project and will travel to Japan for an exhibition related to that. That's the immediate schedule. A bunch on the horizon, things are coming along nicely.

In closing, if you had to give a personal mission statement for 2006, what would it be?
MD: I'm in the midst of treatment for Hep C. Treatment is also going very well. I've left the old ways of drunk and disorderly behaviour behind for a relatively calm life as a healthy being. The healing process is slow by some standards, but I can feel improvements on a variety of levels. My goal is to reclaim my health and physical strength. My goal is to fulfil the promise of youth eternal. My goal is to unite a rock and roll culture into a self-aware meaningful society. Most of all my mission is to take good care of my happy family. Also to give strength and love to others and hope for the best outcome. It's never to late to bring it all back home.