Page 1

SMOKES CRACK AND REPS FUBU. JUST KIDDING • ISSUE NUMBER 2 • $5

THE STOOGES • SIX FT HICK • MY PRECIOUS • FURTHER • THE SCARE BLACKLEVEL EMBASSY • THE MC5 • REVEREND KRISS HADES • THE SAILORS EVERY TIME I DIE • ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT • HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS


PAGE

24

THE BRONX

BRUTAL LA PUNK SLAYERS THE BRONX CHAT WITH US WHEN THEY SHOULD BE FINISHING THEIR ALBUM INSTEAD. BY DIANNE WEST.

PAGE 6 - THE FRONT BIT

PAGE 36 - MY PRECIOUS

PAGE 16 -THE DEVIL WEARS CLODHOPPERS II

PAGE 40 - REV. KRISS HADES

PAGE 20 - BLACKLEVEL EMBASSY STUDIO DIARY

PAGE 40 + 41 - CENTRESPREAD

Starring Guitar Wolf, The Sailors, Lubricated Goat, Takashi Miike, Group Seizure, The UNBELIEVABLY Bad News and more. Part Two of a never ending interview with trash cinema legend Herschell Gordon Lewis. By Mil Mascaras.

Whilst recording an album with Bob Weston in the USA, Blacklevel Embassy guitarist/vocalist Adam Cooper kept this secret girlie diary.

PAGE 32 - FURTHER Getting to know the boys in Further behind each other’s backs. By Big Bubba Headbutt.

THE PAGE

49

STOOGES Ron Asheton on the reformation of punk's grandaddies. By Matt Reekie.

Spine-chilling Singaporean hardcore with an UNBELIEVABLY intense dual-female vocal attack. By Danger Coolidge.

Metal guitarist, futuristic artist, summoner of spirits, Renaissance man. By Ivan “The Terrible” Bonghead. The UNBELIEVABLY twisted artwork of Rev. Kriss Hades.

PAGE 46 - MC5

Brother Wayne Kramer opens up about the UNBELIEVABLY Bad old days. By Danger Coolidge.

PAGE 52 - EVERY

TIME I DIE Hard rockin' hardcore dudes stomping on the clones. By Nutso Ward.

PAGE 60 - THE SCARE

UNBELIEVABLY sexy kids from Briz kidnapping young girls for weed. By Osama Smith.

PAGE 64 - ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT (R.I.P.) Memories of the last ever RFTC shows by someone who was there. By Dianne West.

PAGE 68 - UNBELIEVABLY

OPINIONATED CDs, Films, DVDs, TV, Books and 'Zines reviewed.

PAGE 82 - MY

FAVOURITE FREAK Freak of the week, Johnny Eck The Half Boy.

SIX-FT HICK 56

PAGE

The indomitable Corbett Brothers nail each other in a one-on-one interview. By Ben and Geoff Corbett.


BADDER THAN WORSE Fuck me dead, we made it to issue #2.

And to tell you the truth it wasn't even that hard. We just kinda rode the wave of hostility that flowed on from UNBELIEVABLY Bad #1, and here we are a few months later spilling just as much precious bodily fluids as last time. If you were one of the many offended and outraged citizens who picked up a copy of issue #1 under the suspicion that UNBELIEVABLY Bad was “cool”, we sincerely apologise and await your application for financial compensation (we need a good laugh). The fact of the matter is, us pack of slobs just don't have the energy to attempt to “look at pop culture from an edgy and alternative point of view”, don't have the intellect to “produce creative works that are stimulating and challenging”, and simply couldn't be fucked coming up with any kind of mission statement for this pile of trash. UNBELIEVABLY Bad sucks way harder than you and we both know it, so how 'bout we just get on with the words and pictures… Danger Coolidge

(UNBELIEVABLY) Shitty Metal Band Names

ou really have to wonder what goes through some fucking metalheads' heads sometimes. Y'know, it's Y understandable that not every metal band can have a name as great as Melbourne grind merchants Fuck…I'm Dead, or Mexican extremists Paracoccidioidomicosisproctitissarcomucosis. But some bands just don't seem to have made any effort at all. Here's a list of the main offenders.

DOKKEN

When a band is named after one of its members you can just about expect that that member is going to be a mincing big-haired ponce in leopard-skin tights and a tassled vest. The Don Dokken-led Dokken were neither the best nor the worst of 'em - in every regard they were very fuckin' average. Guitarist George Lynch later broke away and front ed his own very average group, adop ting the diabolically obvious moniker of Lync h Mob. Other MOR fags that named their bands after themselves include Dio, Van Halen, Bon Jovi, Bonham, Danzig and Winger.

BUDGIE

If you were going to go the bird route with a band name (ala Radio Birdman, Bird Blobs, The Eagles or The Flying Emus), would Budgie just be the fucking last thing you'd pick or what? Still, these Welsh gits wrote “Crash Course In Brain Surgery”, so I'll cut 'em some slack. Animal names have obviously been popular in music since The Beatles. Some of the UNBELIEVABLY dumbest animal metal band names are Ratt, WASP, Scorpions, Jackyl, Lynx, Papa Roach, Whitesnake, White Lion, Def Leppard and Iron Butterfly.

EUROPE

Armed with the dumbest name you could possibly think of, Europe flew the flag for Swedish rock before The Hellacopters and Hives made everyone realise they should've been listening to Union Carbide Productions in the eighties instead of these flatulent poodle-haired fuckstickles. Originally called Force, they changed their handle to Europe, following in the footsteps of other bands named after places like America, Boston, Chicago and Asia. Others notables in the metal genre include Danzig, Nazareth, Brazil and The Colytons.

KORN

Kabbage sounds Korn? On the kob? n't they go with did heaps cooler, why ed to Savage en pp ha r ve ate Wh that? vage Cabbage Sa uld co y Cabbage? Wh t name, yet ho a come up with such tal band has me nu rse e-a lam every at was going such a shit one? Wh record-buyer's ge through Joe Avera idas-endorsing Ad se the ing nd se mind charts back in the of top clowns to the t's enough tha t, intless nu metal the nineties? Alrigh er UNBELIEVABLY po l, Staind, Oth w. no for g nin tio rm, Papa Roach, Too ques Fa t An en Ali , kit Biz p on. d Lim e an lud on inc es s go band name the list just k, Puddle of Mudd, Mudvayne, Hoobastan

TROUBLE

When I was 7-years old me and my friends had this tennis racket band. None of us owned musical instruments so we'd just hang out in my room miming to Uncanny X-Men songs. We thought we were such little badarses, it was only natural that we'd call our imaginary band Trouble. We didn't even know there was already a band called that. It's a typical 7-year olds idea of a really great PROSTITUTE “heavy” name. Other “heavy” words posing as UNBELIEVABLY DISFIGUREMENT shithouse monikers include Dungeon, Tool, Extreme, Cathedral, Sleep, Anthrax, Death, Pentagram, Hurricane, Mountain, Prong, etc. Like a Cannibal Corpse for a new generation , Prostitute Disfigurement are another death metal band trying real hard to be offensive because otherwise all they'd be is generic. Among this wholesome Dutch death combo's RAINBOW repetoire are such firm family favourites Richie Blackmore as “Cadaver Blowjob”, “Skinned & Sodomized” and “Cum Covered might have been Stab Wounds”. Some other deliberately depressed and under offensive metal bands names are Anal Cunt, Cattle Deca the influence of drugs pitation, Torsofuck, Gorerotted, Cliteater, Vaginal Incest, Disgorged and alcohol when he Foetus and The Excrementory Grindfucke left Deep Purple, but rs. there's still just no excuse for Rainbow. Blackmore was trying to pay homage to the famed Hollywood bar & grill where he spent most of his waki ng hours, but he overlooked one critical fact: it had a shit name like The Rainbow. This falls into the category of uncategorisably bad. Also immortal in the Bad Metal Band Name Hall Of Shame are Accept, Rush, Yes, Styx, Kix, Trixter, Autograph, Tigertailz, Enuff Z Nuff, Bang Tango, Wizzard, Journey, you could go on forever.

ISSUE #2 UNBELIEVABLY BAD is proudly excreted by: Von Helle 10 Unwin Street, Bexley NSW 2207 Australia. Editor Danger Coolidge. Layout Faye Kinnitt, Ron Dayview. Cover Design Joby J. Ford. Text Dianne West, Matt Reekie, Lord Lexicon, Mil Mascaras, Ivan “The Terrible” Bonghead, Osama Smith, Arse-Lick Nick, Nutso Ward, Adam Cooper, Sir Dugless, Bill Carson, Big Bubba Headbutt, Angelica Von Helle. Photography Silvana Macarone, Nic Bezzina, Mel Gathercole, Rod Hunt, Blacklevel Embassy, Dianne West, Darren Hawthorne, Dewie Marie. Illustration Angelica Von Helle, Marty Spacejunk, Rick Chesshire, Hugh Ford, Rev. Kriss Hades. Production Bra Fazaratti. Thanks All our beloved advertisers, all our contributors, the weed growers Australia-wide, Fahri Cantas, Jay @ AViVA Print, Lenore Lamore, Missing Link Records, Rick Chesshire, Robbie Buck, Unwin Street crew. Send all material for review to: UNBELIEVABLY Bad c/o Von Helle HQ 10 Unwin Street Bexley NSW 2207 Australia. UNBELIEVABLY Bad is published every now and then. For advertising rates please email unbelievablybad@optusnet.com.au. All material contained herein is copyrighted to its owner. Please don't reproduce any part of it (except the bits we've stolen) without asking first. The opinions expressed in UNBELIEVABLY Bad are almost definitely those of the publisher and editorial staff, but you never can tell sometimes, so don't jump to any conclusions, okay?


UNBELIE VABLY Co mmunicati ve

Death Threats To Danger The response to our first issue was very encouraging. Many people went out of their way to email or text message their positive sentiments, while other, more cooler types wrote letters. Plenty of fellow 'zine creators and comic artists took the time to send their stuff, Missing Link Records wrote up some kind words on their website (see right), and Ian MacKaye sent a postcard!

.missinglink.net.au> Posted 27 Sep 2005) (From Missing Link Records' website <www

HOUSE KILLER NEW SYDNEY FANZINE IN THE t one of this country's original fanzine coabou all talks below item news the Well, in Bruce Milne published Pulp in Melbourne with along who er, Walk on conspirators (Clint and Self Abuse (NSW), Spurt with Along ). world the d aroun 1977 as punk rock took off of the etc. they shaped the underground press Remote Control (Perth), Suicide Alley (Qld) new a and , 2005 to rd forwa Fast . they went late 70s, virtually creating subcultures as of up the torch and runs with it in the spirit Sydney fanzine UNBELIEVABLY Bad picks LOOKS good and only not which issue t debu ing crack a what has come before to deliver in-depth chats with a diverse range of local gives up great graphics and pics, it offers great piddly sum of FIVE BUCKS! It really is a the for all â&#x20AC;Ś worth of s and overseas band in. Dig ort. supp effort & well worthy of your

WIN UNBELIEVABLY DECENT SHIT In an effort to encourage better communication between you - yes, you, the cool cunt reading this - and us - yes, us, the sad cunts who couldn't come up with anything funnier than this half-arsed spiel - we've decided to resort to bribery. What better incentive do you need to send us a letter - yes, a real hand-written letter, not a text or email or some bum chum myspace backstabbing best buddies bullshit - than this mega prize pack containing a bunch of the coolest product around, all personally recommended by the team at UNBELIEVABLY Bad. One lucky letter-writing UNBELIEVABLY Bad reader will win:

1 x Lancelot Link Secret Chimp 4-disc DVD set 1 x Goons Of Doom - Bikey Zomby CDEP 1 x At The Drive-In - This Station Is Non-Operational 2-disc CD 1 x copy of Futurama Comic #15 1 x Blood Brothers - Crimes CD 1 x Ichi The Killer (animated version) DVD 1 x The Mars Volta - Frances The Mute CD 1 x Team America Soundtrack CD 1 x Beat Street DVD 1 x The Stooges - The Stooges 2-disc reissue CD 1 x The Stooges - Fun House 2-disc reissue CD 1 x Blood Feast DVD 1 x Two-Thousand Maniacs DVD 1 x Color Me Blood Red DVD 1 x Children Collide - We Three, Brave And True CDEP 1 x Megadeth - Greatest Hits 2-disc CD 1 x Death From Above 1979 - You're A Woman, I'm A Machine CD 1 x Mint Chicks - Anti Tiger CDEP 1 x Great Rock And Roll Swindle DVD 1 x Steve Towson & The Conscripts/My Precious - Venom In My Veins Split CDEP 1 x Year Of The Horse DVD 1 x Group Seizure - Group Seizure CDEP 1 x The Flairz - Rock And Roll Ain't Evil CDEP 1 x Black Assassins - Greatest Hits CD 1 x Various Artists - Punkorama Vol. 10 CD Best letter, as judged by Heir Danger, wins all this shit. Send letters to: UNBELIEVABLY Bad (c/o Von Helle HQ) 10 Unwin Street, Bexley NSW 2207.

06

UNBELIEVABLY BAD


UNBELIEVABLY Unforgotten Albums #2 Lubricated Goat

Plays The Devil's Music - 1987

I

By Danger Coolidge. (Black Eye)

n November '88 Lubricated Goat made an appearance on Andrew Denton's ABC TV show Blah Blah Blah miming to “In The Raw” from their second record, Paddock of Love. Fittingly, they were stark-raving naked. The uproar this flagrant exhibitionism caused is now the subject of a documentary, also called In The Raw, which is currently in the process of seeking additional funding to complete post-production. If and when the film surfaces I hope it rightly paints Lubricated Goat as the phenomenal band they were, not just a one-off publicity stunt. With a name like Lubricated Goat it's easy to argue that they never wanted to be taken seriously, but one listen to this seriously demented and debauched bunch of rock 'n' roll guttersnipes and you'll concur the outrageous moniker is nothing if not apt. Like the name, the sound invokes wild reactions in all who lay ears on it. Once you hear Lubricated Goat you can never go back. The songs won't necessarily be stuck in your head, but the overall feeling will haunt you, like the smell of a family pet scraped off the highway and brought home to be buried in the backyard. Trouble is, more people have seen footage of them playing an average song naked on TV than have heard their records. While the Blah Blah Blah appearance is perfect for illustrating the complete detachment of Lubricated Goat from the rest of normal society, it is, in actual fact, quite boring. The impact of seeing them disrobed lasts about half the song - you might get a laugh or two out of seeing rock stars trying to look cool with their limp cocks flapping about - but before long the repetition of the track's only riff starts to grate and it's lights out. Repeated viewings are a chore. “In The Raw” is such a tedious song. If Lubricated Goat should be remembered for one thing, it's their astonishing debut LP, Plays The Devil's Music. “Our music is music for people to perform obscene sex acts to and to put on even when they're having normal sex,” leader Stu Spasm (real name Stuart Gray) told B-Side Magazine in 1988, just prior to the release of Paddock of Love. “[It's] music for impressionable teenagers to kill themselves to. It's much removed from just playing for people to have a bit of a dance or whatever, even though we have really strong rhythms. The actual sounds we make are intended to create atmospheres. The lyrics sort of create the atmosphere and the music swoops and swirls...” With Lubricated Goat, Spasm had stripped rock 'n' roll of its dignity, dosed it up on unmanageable amounts of psychedelics, barbiturates and amphetamines, then dragged it unmercifully though hellish quagmires of multi-coloured excrement. Like the Blah Blah Blah incident, Plays The Devil's Music is raw, unfettered and perverse, but unlike that showing, it's thrillingly inspired and not the least bit contrived. It's what rock 'n' roll, or punk rock, is always striving to be - fearless, confronting, emotional, interesting, dangerous, visceral, unique, and utterly preposterous. Issued in July 1987 by Red Eye Records owner John Foy, Plays The Devil's Music was among the first batch of releases for Foy's offshoot Black Eye label, the others being the compilation album Waste Sausage and Thug's Mechanical Ape/Proud Idiots Parade (as well as Thug's “Fuck Your Dad” 7” single).

Recorded in September 1986 in two separate sessions, Side One was done in Perth by a three-piece line up consisting of former Zulu Rattle, Salamander Jim, Singing Dog and Beasts of Bourbon member Spasm (guitar, vocals, bass, synths), backed by ex-Kyrptonics duo Peter Hartley (guitar, bass) and Brett Ford (drums). Side Two is comprised of mostly lyric-less recordings made by Spasm and (future Monkeywrench and Bloodloss) drummer Martin Bland in the living room of Bland's place in Adelaide. Of two killer sides, Side One does the most damage.

Kicking off with the skittish, hypnotic and hilarious “Jason The Unpopular”, it lurches into the otherworldly “Beyond The Grave”, a herking, jerking, drunken, fuzzed-out nightmare about a guy who haunts the lover who murdered him. Fast-paced and muffled psych-beat track “Guttersnipe” leads into my personal favourite, “Nerve Quake”, a crude and decrepit psychedelic stormer with a surreal sci-fi lyric that typifies Spasm's acute sense of the absurd and suits the crooked and mangled sound perfectly. “Evil prying microscope, All across this alien thoughtscape / Vultures circling overhead, signal now it's time for a lunchbreak / Yeah though your walkin' through the valley of the shadow of death, like you own the place / You'll bend, you'll start to shake… Nerve Quake!” Side One closes with the darkly kitsch, “Anal Injury”, which sounds like a fully-Mandraxed Jimi Hendrix trying

to poke fun at the Inspector Gadget theme accompanied by a chorus of convulsing epileptics playing balloons to simulate sphincter tears. It would be almost cartoon, if it weren't so gritty and fucking evil. Sweeping you up in a slightly different putridsmelling gust of noise, Side Two is like demented carnival music, or perverted punk rock swing recorded in someone's bedroom on a cocktail of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals and played back through a busted speaker. Less structured than Side One, more experimental and almost entirely instrumental, Side Two is equivalent to being forced to endure a series of hellish theme park rides designed by HG Lewis. Whereas every song except “Anal Injury” on the first side had lyrics, on the second only closer “Can't Believe I'm Really Making Love” has any. And even then there's only three lines, and one of them is, “Feel my penis burning inside you baby.” “Hornraiser” is like an out-ofcontrol orgy dominated by a distorted toy saxophone that sounds like it was simulated on a Casio-keyboard somebody had salvaged from the rubbish tip. “Frotting With Ennio” is like Devo got hammered and wrote the score to a bestiality film. With its big band jazz swing, finger-clicks and all, “Goats and the Men Who Ride Them” doesn't quite live up to the brilliance of its title. While the stab at wah wah-induced sleaze, “Can't Believe I'm Really Making Love”, sounds like a crappy Barry White pisstake with backing by the Residents. It's an end that admittedly cannot hold a candle to its beginning, but consistency and complete insanity never did make comfortable bedfellows. It's almost unthinkable that a band a precariously balanced musically, socially and mentally as Lubricated Goat could hope to make even one more good record, but a line-up of Spasm, Hartley, Ford and (current Mudhoney bassplayer) Guy Maddison returned a year later with a second deplorable masterpiece, Paddock of Love. After that the band began to splinter apart, and, though Spasm kept the name alive, the junkie jams he and assorted cohorts churned out don't match this here devil's music.

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

07


UNBELIEVABLY Gone R.I.P. The Sound Garden, Hurstville

20 UNBELIEVABLY Bad Questions for Seiji Wolf of Guitar Wolf. 1. Who invented rock 'n' roll? Tyrannosaurus Rex. You should've known that. Their wildness remains in our DNA codes. 2. What were they wearing? They are lizard. Their skin is leather. They were wearing the leather jackets. 3. Three-part question: What was Jerry Lee Lewis shaking, what g? was he rattling and what was he rollin . The medal for the real men. The balls ening? 4. Describe your rock 'n' roll awak was during the history class in I remember that moment very well. It k by the idea "I'm going to live struc was I the high school. All the sudden, through telepathy. It was alien the for R&R!!" It must be a message from e. rienc expe a strange, weird e and how did the chorus go? 5. What was the first song you wrot the Ramones' “R&R Radio”. like ed "Let's Go Godzilla!!" It sound song of them all? Wolf r Guita test grea the is t Wha 6. . All of them ression comes 7. In your experience, what chord prog closest to causing female orgasm? G chord. you've ever 8. Describe the biggest musical high had. of the When the moon was full, I jumped out ing. build the of floor nd seco played. 9. Describe the worst gig you've ever bottles When the moon was full, I emptied some bed. of Ronico. When I woke up I was in the in your 10. What songs have you had stuck head lately? "Girl In Trouble" by Shampoo. 11. Who do you hate the most? No one. me? 12. What is the greatest film of all-ti n - No Back to the Future 1,2,3., Enter the Drago . reason for the great films not to be loved could go 13. If you had a time machine and would you gig what , time in ards back or forw most like to attend? Of course, I'd go back, Elvis Presley. music 14. Who is the biggest imposter in today? Me. 15. What is the greatest game ever invented? The Origin of the Earth. the one 16. List the following in order from one you you most want to watch on TV to the porn. c) b) . tling wres a) h: watc to want least CNN. d) Big Brother. e) paint dry? 1993: Wolf Rock! b-a-c-e-d. 1995: Kung Fu Ramone ? time all of on 17. What is the worst cover versi 1996: Missile Me! ing. Noth 1997: Planet Of The Wolves your at d playe like you d woul 18. What song 1998: Jet Generation funeral? Guitar Wolf. 2000: Rock 'N' Roll Etiquette "All Through the Night Buttobase!!" by for? 2000: Live! 19. How long can you keep rocking 2003: UFO Romantics Probably another 150 years or so. y's 20. Who put the dope in Shapelle Corb 2004: Loverock boogie-board bag? 2005: Golden Black - Best Of Who is she?

GUITAR WOLF DISCOGRAPHY

08

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

O

c stores in Sydney's ne of the last truly independent musi 10th December 2005 day Satur outer suburbs has gone. On d to close its The Sound Garden at Hurstville was force tunes to the good the up ng servi of years 20 y doors after nearl my in ds recor good want kids in the 'burbs. You go to the city. neighbourhood now, bad luck - you gotta closure are many The reasons for The Sound Garden's toward internet and varied, from the public's moves of malltion infec the to ng loadi down shopping culture that enables the s corporate Sanity and HMV chain store inside the nearby Hurstville Shopping Mall to out-price the little guy every time. Basically the shop wasn't making enough money, and, while owner Peter (sorry I don't know his last name) stuck it out as long as he could, he was eventually forced to . face the harsh facts and shut up shop Employee Matt Allison, who had served behind Sound Garden's counter for more than seventeen years, was obviously gutted by the news and expressed his dismay at the string of commiserators who had popped into the store during its final days. “People have been coming in and saying how sad it is that we're closing and all Seiji Wolf that, and yeah, that's nice, but where were those people when we were open? They just come in here and pick up the Drum [Media] every week and never buy anything.” I've Since the death of The Sound Garden c musi chain a in foot set decided not to even don't give two outlet. The corporations that run them with the major ots caho in are them of all c, fucks about musi of most record companies, and the employees could just as easily be working at Burger King for all their knowledge of good sounds. Indie stores might struggle to match them on price, but I figure the piece of mind I'll enjoy when society crumbles will be worth the extra couple of bucks.


H “Back in The Closet” seems to be a particularly poignant tune since there is way less gay action on your new album Viva La Beaver, is that how you were all feeling? I don't know, we never sat down and decided to do more or less [homoerotic songs], it was just the way it worked out with the songs everyone had. I remember when I came back from overseas we had a band meeting and we said, “No more homo songs.” Whether anyone in the band is homosexual or not we just decided we were done with it. Then about a month later we had a rehearsal and Vernon came in with his new song and it was called “Set Your Ass On Fire”. Fuckin' that lasted a long time didn't it!

aving built a (mostly bad) reputation based on gay-themed By Danger Coolidge. lyrics and a fuzzed out garage swing, Melbourne retrogressive rock 'n' roll foursome The Sailors have really taken things forward on their latest politically incorrect treasure Viva La Beaver. Their third full-length album and the follow-up to 2003's Failure. Depression. Suicide. EP, Viva La Beaver contains the Sailors' most cohesive, complete and catchy set of tunes yet. Deviating from the theme of old favourites like “I Punch You (With The Fist Of My Cock)”, “Faggot From China”, and “Girls That Look Like Boys (Really Are The Shit)”, the Sailors bury their homoerotic-obsession once and for all with the song “Back In The Closet”. Obviously hoping to attract the ire of a wider cross-section of the population with the new album, The Sailors choose to walk a precarious race-related line with a cover of Lou Reed's “I Wanna Be Black”, and their very own “Cracker In The Niggertonk”. Just to clarify The Sailors really are the cunts you think they are, here's a quick chat with drummer Hector (aka Daniel Dempster). Viva La Beaver is out to offend on Dropkick Records through Shock. For other shit check www.thesailors.biz.

So you're not losing touch with your gay selves, it's just become a boring subject? It's boring. Every interview we'd get asked, “Are you guys gay?” And it's not about that, whether we are or not, just get on with it and enjoy the music. Blacks are fair game this time though; I bet that has put a few noses out of joint. It has man, but most people get it. Before the album was released we were playing “Cracker In The Niggertonk” at the Espy and some councillor from St. Kilda was in the audience and she decided to take offence. She wanted to kill us and ban us from playing Melbourne ever again. But most people get it. People aren't that fuckin' dumb. But if you listen to the lyrics “Cracker In The Niggertonk” is just about being out of place and being an outsider, being not normal, not being mainstream. What was a councilwoman doing at the Espy? That's what I don't fucking know! If you're fucking going to the Espy and you're going to see the Sailors then you fucking know what you're in for. If you don't fucking like it, don't go to the show. It's fucking ridiculous. There was a thing in some local paper, I think she wrote a letter to the local paper and the local paper just made her look like a fuckhead.

I read somewhere that The Sailors replied to her letter. Viktor did. Viktor wrote her a letter and just explained the situation and basically made her look like a dickhead. Why did he even bother? I don't know, that's his thing, I wouldn't have even given her the satisfaction of an explanation.

THE SAILORS DISCOGRAPHY

2000: Teenage Homosexual Blues 7” 2001: Violent Masturbation Blues 2002: Turning The Other Cheek 2003: Good Karma/Cop-Porn 7” 2003: Failure. Depression. Suicide. EP 2005: Viva La Beaver

So what other complaints have flooded in lately? Actually, we probably don't get as much shit as we used to. People are more intelligent than you give them credit for most people, some people. Most people get it. We don't have any kind of mission statement or anything; we're not a political party. But look at rock 'n' roll these days, there's nothing dangerous about it. When I go see a band I want to feel it, whether I love it or hate it I just want to get some emotion out of it, get moved. It's just so fucking boring at the moment, there's nothing dangerous or exciting at all. We were in Sydney the other week and had a night off so we went to see the Cops with some friends and I couldn't give a shit about them, I don't hate them, I don't love them, but I just couldn't believe how mundane and fucking boring it was. I was like, “I wish I could hate these guys and get pissed off,” but it wasn't even like that. To me if you're going to make art or play music then you've gotta try and extract some emotion out of it. There's just so much shit around now that's supposedly alternative or rock 'n' roll and it's basically just middle-of-the-road. The Sailors: (LtoR) Geronimo, Hector, Viktor, Vernon


OUR VERY OWN LORD OF CHAOS By Nutso Ward.

L

ocal newspapers and heavy metal news websites the world over were jizzing themselves recently over the story of 19-year old Melbourne black metal fan Novak Majstorovic, who burnt a 135-year old church to the ground in late August 2004. On September 26th 2005 Majstorovic was sentenced to three years youth detention after admitting to torching the 1896-built St. Albans Uniting Church in Maribyrnong Road, Moonee Ponds while drunk on bourbon. In sentencing Judge Jeanette Morrish said Majstorovic's crimes of burglary and arson were serious and had caused more than $3million in damage. But since he was an impressionable young man who had admitted his guilt, apologised to parishioners, and agreed to undergo counseling while in detention, she decided to let him off light. Maybe she's got a thing for young boys in black? Earlier the court had heard that Majstorovic had told police at the time of his arrest: “A lot of the concepts of my ideologies and stuff would sort of stem from heavy metal, from the imagery of heavy metal, from the metaphors that heavy metal uses with the like Christian sort of metaphors of good and evil and such.” The sole carer of his schizophrenic mother, Majstorovic was described in court as a social outcast who had adopted the anti-Christian beliefs espoused by one-man Norwegian black metal outfit Burzum. Judge Morrish was regaled with tales of the murderous exploits of Burzum leader Varg Vikernes (aka Count Grishnackh), and a juvenile justice worker from the NSW Department of Human Services, Steve Riordan, testified: “Novak has been seduced by black metal music. He believes the doctrines and has yet to be challenged over that.”

The media ran riot with the old Devil Made Him Do It angle. At the www.hyperactive.com.au forums under the topic “Dickhead burns Australian Church - Blames Black Metal”, internet nerds were divided, with opinions varying from flat out admiration for Majstorovic's fine zippo work (the lads at www.nazi.org were well impressed too), to anger at the negative publicity it had attracted. What's that? Black metal… getting a bad name? Well paint my face and call me Euronymous, I thought black metal was supposed to have a bad name - isn't that kinda the point? Varg and Euronymous and Samoth and Dead and Faust and the whole lovable Norwegian posse were burning down churches (not to mention stabbing each other, eating ex-band members' brains, making jewellery out of pieces of friend's skulls, etc.) when Novak Majstorovic was still in third grade. Compared to that ghastly crew, this lad's practically an alter boy; a sorry St. Albans schoolkid who read Lords Of Chaos (1998) one too many times, got a bit too sloshed on Beam one night and decided to play around with fire. It was an impulsive act from a teenager fucked off with the world (the best kind of teenager by the way), and it burnt him straight back. Getting caught was bad enough, but the media's portrayal of him as a blind follower of Varg Vikernes was apparently worse. Just prior to his incarceration the long-haired whippersnapper debated the issue publicly at several online message forums including www.nuclearblast.de, www.metalunderground.com and www.blackmetal.co.uk, where he claimed sole credit for the blaze. “Church Arsonist Blames Norwegian Black Metal Hero is a snappy title,” Majstorovic wrote at one forum, where he posted under the name Desolitary, an alias he uses in his band Schwarzreich. “If you knew anything about the papers you would know that headings are what grabs people's attention. Nowhere in the article is this heading backed up. At no point was I quoted as saying anything of the sort. I did not do it for Varg, I do not masturbate to Varg.”

“The Age took my confession completely out of context,” Majstorovic continued, “And represented me as some manner of bumbling, thumb sucking, frightened fool who thought that he was doing Varg a personal favor by razing this crumbling bastion of Varg Vikernes decrepidity to the earth. “I do not blame anyone, I merely accepted the possibility that in my inebriated state the choice of burning down a church was more than likely influenced by the aesthetic of black metal.” Another reason he claimed to have lit the fire was because “I had WAR coursing through my veins.” Novak Majstorovic “That church was built on caprice and pig-headed callousness,” he said, “And it exits from this world in a likewise fashion, ashes to ashes.” So much for that apology to the parishioners! Majstorovic is the guitarist in little-known Melbourne black metal band Schwarzreich (sounds like Spinal Tap meets Mel Brooks doesn't it?). Surfing their website, www.schwarzreich.cjb.net, is a rather enlightening experience. On the front page they claim: “We are the destroyers of kingdoms and the solvents of order. We seek not to propagate the ends of established institutions but to instigate our own upon the material and human objects of your society. And to your society we are the blackest of the black, the vilest of the vile. We are not of your world, but rather a world to ourselves, an empire - a black empire. We are rogues, vagabonds, charlatans, tricksters, liars, thieves and representatives of all those who drift wayward and anonymous throughout the world, glaring at life's contradictions and seeking to contradict life itself.” Elsewhere their bio explains in hilariously overblown fashion that the band members went to school together in Hoppers Crossing. “We returned together to the crossing of Hoppers and made the educational facilities there our home and for some years we inspired the wonder of mortals with our oddity.” I think that's fancy talk for, “We went to school and everyone thought we were a pack of stupid fuckwits.” Clicking to the “Releases” page reveals that in 2004 Schwarzreich released something called The Battle of Footscray TAFE, and it's here that I get the sneaking suspicion that these kids might be taking the piss just a bit. I'm sure the old St. Albans parishioners who now have to travel over to St Paul's Anglican Church in Ascot Vale aren't laughing much, but the joke's on those cunts twice 'cos god never existed to begin with.

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

11


Group Seizure: (LtoR) Pete Dickinson, Bry Gagliardi, Jack Furphy

GROUP SEIZURE

Wanna get real spastic together? By Lord Lexicon.

G

roup Seizure are a unique commodity. Their source material draws from a wealth of influences, none of which contain similar themes, yet share a linear connection. Echoes of Kraftwerk, Suicide, Big Black, Nirvana and like Chrome resonate through the sound as they sway from controlled to chaotic a fucked metronome. Their self-titled debut EP is but a glimpse of what this band is capable of and as a stand alone document is complete at just over thirteen minutes. “Love Recovery” is the blueprint for the rest of the EP, where the clipped the backbeats of the drum machine provide loose stitches for the hooks that bind cascading the being sharpest the sharp some blunt, Some songs together. the sheets of noise that emanate from the keyboard, that are the foundation for of toxic riffs. One minute and fifty-seven seconds with an intro that spans a third

the song and one verse and one chorus. Group le. Seizure don't rely on repetition to convince you what they write is worthwhi “Piece of Me” is pure confrontation. There are points where the human instruments dissolve into white noise and the immediacy of the words, even of the though presented in a disaffected manner, coupled with the lo-fi pounding machine generate genuine exhilaration. “Three Steps” is as laid back as the EP gets with toy drums and buzzing bass “Bry line. “Smoke is a Poison Kiss” is Group Seizure at their most angular, while is High” is anthemic white noise. Group Seizure pay no mind to current trends and as such have created a hoards sound of their own that sees them stranded alone without refuge from the from of preening “punk” bands who cower together in Vogue embraces to shelter ng: the cold, grim reality that Group Seizure have been charged with proclaimi Your time is up, your ideas are redundant and you hair is ridiculous. A truly powerful and individual release from a great new band. Group Seizure's self-titled EP is out now on Solar/Sonar Records through Shock.

TAKASHI MIIKE

Jap genius stretches celluloid

way too far. By Bill Carson.

T

akashi Miike is a genius. He is a direc tor, notorious for directing Ichi The Killer, Audition, Visitor Q and tons more. He directs around five movies every year, which is unheard of (look at Tarantino). He'll fuck you up in the wors t way, too. He'll flip your mind over and over again and you won't know which way is up. If you're a mentally unstable person there's no tellin g what his films will do to you. Take Ichi The Killer (2001) for example. The film starts and the camera soars through the streets of Kabu ki-cho in Japan, while the staff and cast credits are scratched across the screen. Eventually we focus on an apartment and watch as a pimp beats the ever-loving shit out of his girl for not bringing home enough cash . Her face becomes more and more deformed as the camera turns and now centres on a peeping tom (the hero of the film) who jerks off while spying the torture through the window. He cums, the camera zeros in on the dripping sperm as it changes shape to reveal the title of the film, Kuoshiya Ichi - translated in English to “Ichi The Killer”. That's just the intro, the main title sequence. It gets worse - oh, does it get worse. Audition (1999) is another brilliant, brillia nt film - great for the Sunday night movie with mum and dad.

ESSENTIAL TAKASHI MIIKE FILMOGRAPHY 1996: Fudoh: The New Generation 1999: Audition 1999: Dead Or Alive: Hanzaisha 2000: The City of Lost Souls 2000: Dead Or Alive 2 2000: MPD Psycho, aka Multiple Personality Detective Psycho 2001: Visitor Q 2001: Ichi The Killer 2002: Dead or Alive: Final 2002: Shin jingi no hakaba 2003: Gozu

About two-thirds of it is a sort of nice drama - a lonely businessman obsessed with a woman he can't get out of his head. You're thinking, “this is fucking boring”. Then, all of the sudden, a guy's getting his feet cut off with piano wire. What the fuck?! Torture mate. Be careful what you ask for because she might be a FUCKING PSYCHOPATH. Brilliant film. Visitor Q (2000) is my favourite though, with its high level sex scenes (a father fucking his prostitute daughter), adult themes (mum only gets off when milking herse lf), drug use (mum's also a smackhead) and sexual violence (the journ alist father gets his microphone shoved up his arse, then later fucks a corpse!). This is one of the funniest films I've ever seen , but it also has a touching, conservative underlying message that demonstrates how important a family structure can be, no matter how bad life can get. What? Fuck it. There's no way to desc ribe it because Miike's films affect people differently. The only thing that's constant is the imprint left on your mind. You will not forget his films.

12

UNBELIEVABLY BAD


great punk shits O

k creeps, this column isn't intended as anything other than a celebration of the dishwater left over after the Stooges dirtied the sink and the gunk that Obscure Treats of the “Punk Rock” Era. grew from between the toes of the Pistols Part One of an irregular series by Sir Dugless. and the Clash: basically the lowest common denominators of a scorned music movement… the music press would have us believe that this punk rock thing was something that hung around in the trendy clubs of London and New York in the late seventies until people got tired of heroin and self-hate and got back into cocaine and going to discos. The reality is that before and after the mass media “punk heyday” (i.e. punk started with the Ramones and ended with the Pistols at Winterland) in thousands of garages and awful dives, people were hammering out an amazing array of punk related music that crawls out of the speakers like so much toxic gunk. Now, raise your tankards scumbags and stick your heads in the mire… THIS ISSUE'S CANDIDATES FOR THE HALLS OF PUNK ROCK VALHALLA….

CRISIS

THE SCREAMING MEE MEES

By '79 the Clash were bona-fide major label rock stars with all the trappings of success. Crisis on the other hand were their polar opposite, a real street level socialist punk band who manned the barricades for the Socialist Workers Party's demonstrations and regularly got into “scraps” with the local Nazi boneheads and even the pigs. Some might even argue that Crisis were more “authentic” than Strummer and Co., but really “authenticity” has no place in rock 'n' roll - that's for fuckin' stamp collectors man. What Crisis are is a great band who do what they do with ruthless efficiency and this scabrous blast of Commie rock 'n' roll is poetry in motion and probably their best song. The title says it all; it's a minute and a half of tight, feisty punk rock with great sneering vocals. The lyrics are pure poetry, there's a great line about the coppers being given “the freedom to tread on your balls” and it is the most perfect use of the word “balls” in a rock 'n' roll song ever. Unfortunately Crisis would disband after one “ruck” too many and most of 'em would go on to be grumpy goths in Death In June, sad really. Crisis

“HOT SODY”

“COMMITTED TO SUICIDE”

Hot damn! Imagine a bunch of kids left in a stinkin' basement with nothing to drink but the most foulest of warm sugar water as relayed through a kind of formless folk rockism, the ineptitude of which surpasses that of the most clumsiest of Mekons or Fall songs. This is the kind of sound that the noted scholar, Johan Kugelberg, refers to as “primitive shit music”. It's probably an apt term but the very innocence and lack of pretence of “Hot Sody” really makes it a candidate here. The Screaming Mee Mees are oblivious to everything except that their soda can is half full and has been left in the sun. As they say, “It Ain't No Fun”. Not to be confused with eighties Kiwis The Screaming Meemees.

When I was a wee fucker, I moved to Melbourne and The Sick Things were THE legendary group. Forget The News or any of those private school art groups, The Sick Things sounded like a huge mental prolapse. Their set of songs recorded to various unfortunate tape recorders over a 12 month period are guttural in the extreme. However, above the cacophony is a melodic resonance that places them beyond the realms of pure noise. If, as Lester bangs says, rock 'n' roll is a “raw wail from the guts” then “Commited to Suicide” is a whacking great tumour in the very same gut.

“PC 1984”

THE SICK THINGS

[Next issue we'll be paying a visit to THE NUNS, NY NIGGERS, DETENTION and DIETER MEIER.]


The

Devil s r a e W Clodhoppers Part two of a never-ending UNBELIEVABLY BAD interview with the wizard of gore Herschell Gordon Lewis. By Mil Mascaras.

I

HG LEWIS ONLINE

II

www.herschellgordonlewis.com Herschell's homepage, which is mainly for his Direct Marketing business. Has a HG filmography, but it's a bit all over the place, neither in alphabetical nor chronological order. www.phillyburbs.com/HGL Great resource with a lengthy and thorough Lewis bio plus long reviews of many of his films. www.imagesjournal.com/issue09 /reviews/hglewis Images Journal's extensive exploration of the cinema of Lewis. Highly recommended. www.imdb.com/name/nm0507267 The Internet Movie Database's HG page, listing all his credits as a director, producer, cinematographer, writer, composer, actor and god knows what else. www.geocities.com/Hollywood/ Cinema/9901 The Shrine to Herschell Gordon Lewis. It's enthusiastically presented but the design is amateurish and the content not very enlightening. www.somethingweird.com The homepage of Something Weird Video, the company that releases many of Hersch's films on DVD. www.sirenvisual.com.au Siren Entertainment, the Australian distributor of Something Weird Video. www.birdmanrecords.com The site of Birdman Records, the label who released The EyePopping Sounds of Herschell Gordon Lewis, a CD collection of the best songs from Hersch’s films.

f I were forced to take just one film to a deserted island (assuming all copies of Castaway were out at the video store) it'd have to be Two-Thousand Maniacs. It's got just about everything you need in a movie, and yet it's unlike anything else you've ever seen. With an atmosphere as surreal as Buñuel, violence that (literally) slays Penkinpah, and a theme song so genius that even John Williams and Danny Elfman combined could never have penned it, Two-Thousand Maniacs is an intoxicating cocktail of terror, nausea and hilarity. After the runaway success of the rough-as-guts gore masterpiece Blood Feast (1963), HG Lewis and his partner, producer Dave Friedman, wondered how much money they might gross if they “made a decent one”. 1964's Two-Thousand Maniacs took the raw carnage of Blood Feast and added something quite new - a plot to tie all the senseless violence together. The “tongue” scene in Blood Feast is Ripping off the main gist of the Broadway play Brigadoon - about a widely regarded one of the most mythical Scottish town that emerges from the mist only once every 100 shocking moments in cinema years - Lewis and Friedman wrote their screenplay about a mythical history, but I was always more southern American town full of psychotic rednecks that emerges from shocked by that bit where the the mist intent on extracting revenge on a few Yankees on the 100-year chick's arm gets hacked off in anniversary of the civil war. Two-Thousand Maniacs (1964). Two-Thousand Maniacs was shot in the second-half of 1963 for Well, you see, we went one step US$65,000, which was more than twice the budget of Blood Feast but beyond. The tongue scene is regarded still probably less than a quarter of the catering bill on any Marlon as the beginning of gore. There were Brando film. Keeping costs down was the fact that Friedman had found other things in Blood Feast, obviously, the perfect location for the shoot, St. Cloud, Florida - Population: 500. but that individual scene was so Having been kept in the dark as to the heinous nature of the plot, the nauseating and so disgusting that the residents of St. Cloud bent over backwards to accommodate the cast picture was gauged on that scene and crew, granting them permission to alone. The early reviews of Blood film wherever they wanted, lending Feast, and as you could imagine they them equipment, and appearing as were mixed, some were astonished, some were astounded, some extras free of charge. were horrified, some felt it was the worst movie ever made - which Like Blood Feast, the only thing is not a bad judgment by the way; it certainly is one of the least more appalling than the violence is expensive movies ever filmed in 35mm colour. And the reason I was the acting of Connie Mason, but able to make it in 35mm colour was that my partner, Dave Friedman, several other performances rank right and I were pretty much the whole crew on that. I was the director up there with the best in any HG Lewis and cameraman; he was the producer and soundman. We had two flick. Besides the greatest theme song more fellas to help us pick up the cables but they literally helped us ever (written and sung by Hersch pick up the cables. We paid the actors next to nothing and they himself. Is there anything the guy can't didn't know what we were doing. When we'd go to a location to do?), what makes Two-Thousand shoot and passersby would ask what we were shooting, we'd say, Maniacs stand out is the near perfect “Oh, we're shooting an orange juice commercial.” When we saw the cohesion between all the classic business that Blood Feast was doing - and it shocked us as much Lewis trademarks of sickening as it shocked the industry - I said to Dave Friedman, “What if we violence, inappropriate humour Def Leppard gets a new drummer (Two-Thousand Maniacs) made a decent one?” And so that's when Two-Thousand Maniacs and gallons of flowing claret. took form and to this day it is still my favourite of all the films I've Out of the 30-something films he has made, HG names Two-Thousand made. Now, you mentioned the arm getting hacked off, and there's a case where Maniacs his all-time personal favourite. It's mine too. today if I was to remake Two-Thousand Maniacs I would have a rubberized arm. I Here's Part Two of my never-ending interview with Herschell Gordon Lewis… didn't have that kinda thing. I had a department store mannequin! So when he

16

UNBELIEVABLY BAD


picks up that arm it's stiff. It would have been a lot more shocking if that arm had been rubbery, but there was no such thing. Today you can go into any magic store and pick up a hand where the fingers writhe around - oh what I would've given for that! But that's how the thing has progressed, and we started it all. Two Thousand Maniacs has always been my favourite. Oh, well then I love you even more.

reassembling the cast and he told me that the old hotel is still there, which is surprising. They must've at least painted it over the past 40 years. I read a review that said the blood colour was too light in Two-Thousand Maniacs and not as realistic as Blood Feast, did you change your supplier? I would call that over-analysis, but you might say to these people that it shouldn't be so and I'll tell you why: we compounded our own blood for Blood Feast. I had made a movie in black and white called Living Venus (1960), and in black and white it didn't make a lot of difference because we bought stage blood but I felt it looked too purple. So after that we made our stage blood ourselves at a cosmetics laboratory called Barfred Cosmetics in a town called Coral Gables, Florida, just near Miami. And we bought gallons of the stuff and I used the identical blood in Blood Feast and Two-Thousand Maniacs, so it should have looked the same. It might have been in the print people saw? The funny part is we didn't tell the actors that the base of this stuff is Kaopectate (Anti-Diarrheal Liquid), because some of them had to take it in their mouths. So if I told one, she could them it was Kaopectate they wouldn't have done it.

There's a somewhat lighter tone, despite the more imaginative forms of violence, and the bizarre atmosphere of the town full of rednecks is unsettling in a fun way. It's done subtly. I've sat in audiences, and this is one advantage that the director has that people in the cast don't have, and that is to sit anonymously in a theatre and be part of the crowd and get the reactions. And when they came out of Blood Feast it was like, “Oh my god what the hell was that!” But when they come out of Two-Thousand Maniacs it's quiet. They're thoughtful, and I'm sure that the problems next morning they're still masticating on what they not remember lines. saw last night.

“Connie Mason's biggest problem - well she had two

The other

How did you come to work with Connie Mason, because as a Playboy model she was obviously another selling point to Blood Feast and TwoThousand Maniacs, but such a terrible actress? Connie was another of Dave Friedman's discoveries. d er Connie was certainly decorative; she was a Playmate of the Month or something of the sort for Playboy Magazine. Her biggest problem - well she had two problems - one, she could not remember lines. In fact, when we put her in TwoThousand Maniacs, you can tell when you watch it that she's reading her lines off camera. And some of the lines for her character we gave to Bill Kerwin - Thomas Wood was his screen name - or we'd give her lines to other people because she could just not remember her lines. The other problem we had with Connie Mason was she would trash her hotel room until they'd ask her not to stay. Connie Mason has not disappeared. I went to some film festival in Cleveland or Pittsburgh or somewhere and Connie was there. She has got to be in her sixties now and she was selling photographs of herself as she appeared in Playboy Magazine. I was uneasy seeing her doing that, but I guess she sold a few photographs.

problem we had was she would trash her hotel

The town that you shot it in really adds to the surrealism of it all. That was the town. That was St. Cloud, room until Florida, which is now part of the Disney empire. not to stay.” And to bring this whole story full circle, as you may be aware I don't own these movies anymore, all I own is the music to Two-Thousand Maniacs and Blood Feast, which I wrote. I didn't know at the time that the music is a separate set of rights…

they' ask h - HG Lewis

My favourite of the songs are the Two-Thousand Maniacs theme and the She-Devils on Wheels (1968) theme. I wrote that too, but I don't own that - “Get Off The Road” it's called. A fella named Jim Maslon, M-a-s-l-o-n, now owns just about all these movies and he is one of the nicest people I have ever met in this business. And he just sent me an email today saying that he is planning to shoot a documentary about me. It makes perfect sense. That's what he said. He and I are thinking of giving a speech in Orlando and taking a camera crew and we are all going to go down to St. Cloud, which is right there next to Orlando, and somehow he has been advertising in the Orlando newspaper asking for people who might have been extras or worked on the set of Two-Thousand Maniacs and he already has rounded up a few. We are

There are some good character performances in Two-Thousand Maniacs, Jeffrey Allen as the Mayor for one is brilliant. His real name was Taalkie Blank but he went by the name of Jeffrey Allen. The reason he used that name is because we were not signatories to the Screen Actors Guild, and he was a member of the Screen Actors Guild so he couldn't use his own


name. Actually it was T-a-a-l-k-i-us, Taalkius, but we called him Taalkie - an absolutely fine character actor. I used him in about a half a dozen pictures and he was always marvelous on camera. Why did you decide to move to Florida permanently before making Two-Thousand Maniacs? When we made Blood Feast I was living in Chicago, and Chicago climate in the winter is not conducive to happiness. The winds blow cold and damp, I'm a tennis player and yes we had indoor courts there, but you'd always find a reason to get out of town. When the winds started to blow cold we'd always find a reason and I had an ancient, ancient Volkswagen bus cramped with obsolete equipment. In fact, the bus was so old that to put the thing in reverse we had to get under it and pull a rod to bring it into reverse. We would drive that bus down to Florida, me and the crew - I had a crew of two - and we would make a movie. It made no difference what kind of movie we made because it was warm in Florida. So my goal had been to live in Florida, and for the last 27 years that's where I've lived.

The kaopectate strikes again (Two-Thousand Maniacs)

It's great that you've started to make films again with Blood Feast 2 a few years back. What is this upcoming project I've heard about Win, Lose or Die? Win, Lose or Die is a title that was superimposed on my movie, which I call Grim Fairytales. But I also had an alternate title, which was Uh Oh! Because the script is based on a TV show and the TV show is called Truth or Uh Oh! and it's a game show where contestants are asked questions and if the person gets the answer right he gets a Mercedes Benz, he gets a villa in the French Riviera, he gets a trip around the world, or she will get six million dollars in cash, but if they get it wrong… Uh Oh! One of the questions for example is, “Beethoven wrote nine symphonies and Mozart wrote forty one. In every one of these symphonies there is a part for the clarinet but there is not a part for the saxophone. In how many of these symphonies is there a part for the saxophone? We know it's a tough question so if you answer it in 10 seconds we'll give you all these prizes...” So the guy's is thinking about it, “Ah…ah… 25?” The audience goes, “Uh Oh!” “Gee, I'm sorry, Mozart died in 1791 and Beethoven died in 1827, the saxophone wasn't invented until 1848 so the correct answer is zero!” Anyway they take them over to this board and they spin the wheel and it has things like ‘Right Arm’, ‘Left Leg’ or something like that, then when that gets whacked off it's, “You want to come back next week and try again?” Once again, the area is black humour. A fellow named Chris Tuffin who owns a company called Bloodworks, these are the people who remade Two-Thousand Maniacs, which they called 2001 Maniacs, with which I have had absolutely nothing to do. They have negotiated to

use the music from the original film, but I have no relationship with 2001 Maniacs. So in the course of conversation they asked if I had any scripts sitting around. Well, as you are probably aware, everyone in this business has scripts sitting around. If you go to Los Angeles every cab driver has two scripts in the front seat. So I told them I had this script called Grim Fairytales, that's G-r-i-m, not double m, it's a play on Grimm Brothers. So I emailed him the script and he asked if we could negotiate and I came to the conclusion that he wanted to make this movie; to the point where they were sending people down here looking for locations and so on. And then they disappeared. So I have no idea if Grim Fairytales will come to life or not, but if some Australian producer wants to pick that up I'd be delighted. You see, they stuck the title Win Lose or Die on there. Win Lose or Die is the title of a failed James Bond novel, so I can see no reason for using that title, it didn't make sense to me. But I figured, okay if they're going to make this movie then I'm not going to intervene with something as minor as that, hopefully if we get into production I can pull out some muscle and try to get that changed. Uh Oh! is a classic HG Lewis title. I think it would look good on the theatre marquee, the big Uh Oh! on the front of the theatre, that'll bring people in.

HG Lewis in the sixties

REVIEW

TWO-THOUSAND MANIACS (1964)

Y

eeeeaaaaahhhhaaaaa!!!!!! Oh the South's gonna rise again! A town full of psycho southern rednecks rises out of thin air exactly 100 years after the American civil war with the purpose of taking revenge on some random northerners for a mass slaying that took place back in 1865. Led by the overly cheerful Mayor Buckman (Jeffrey Allen), the confederate flag-waving townsfolk of Pleasant Valley lure two carloads of Yankees off the main road and into town using a homemade detour sign. In the main street they greet them and, amongst much whoppin' and hollerin', pronounce them guests of honour at the town's centenary “celebrations”. These celebrations include hacking off one of the guest of honour's arm with an axe and cooking it on a spit at a town BBQ. Putting one guest of honour inside a barrel before hammering nails into the sides and rolling it down a hill. Tying the arms and legs of one guest of honour up to four horses who then gallop off in separate directions. But the piece de resistance is undoubtedly strapping one guest of honour on a board beneath a gigantic suspended boulder connected to a “Dunk-the-Fool” style

18

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

target. In film's most memorable scene, various rednecks take turns trying to hit the target with a baseball until one guy finally nails it, triggering the boulder, which lands with the sickest splat imaginable. Eventually the two main characters, Tom White (Thomas Wood) and Terry Adams (Connie Mason), cotton on to the fact that they better get the fuck out of Dodge, which they do by offering a delinquent inbred kid some lollies and telling him they'll let him drive if he shows them where their car keys are hidden. The pair then ditch the kid and flee the angry mob to tell their sensational story to the authorities. However, when they return to the scene with a cop, Pleasant Valley has vanished into thin air. Two-Thousand Maniacs was freshly released on DVD recently by Something Weird Video, distributed locally through Siren Entertainment. Having grown up on shit 3rd generation video copies struck from scratchy washed-out prints, seeing it look so vibrant added a new perspective and a heightened appreciation for what is one of the greatest treasures in motion picture history.

This is what the film must've looked like on those southern drive-in screens all those years ago, in glorious, bright, unapologetic blood colour. If you only see one HG Lewis film in your life, make it Two-Thousand Maniacs.

Night Of The Living Rednecks (Two-Thousand Maniacs)


BLACKLEVEL

EMBANOSTESSY TOUR

November/December 2005

By AC

In November 2005 Melbourne trio Blacklevel Embassy embarked on a month-long expedition to the USA for the purposes of recording their debut album at Chicago’s Electrical Audio Studios with engineer Bob Weston of Shellac. Guitarist/vocalist Adam Cooper kept this UNBELIEVABLY Bad tour diary...

11.11… THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN

L

et's just set the tone for a minute… I am a sick person sitting on a plane enduring 18 hours of, well, a plane. Funny how it rhymes with pain. This socalled band I am in is embarking on an international takeover bid of bombastic proportions. NO ONE in our collective country of birth has offered us any money to record what we see as the most important Australian musical statement since Whispering Jack. We ARE the voice, try and understand it. It's a damn shame really, since Australian currency is so much prettier and easy to manage than the almighty greenback. To cut a long story lengthwise, we have hocked ourselves to the hilt for a ticket down the rotundulating path to musical glory. Our destination is Chicago, our mood a mixture of ailment, airline food and anxiety. I am unwell to say the least. In fact, I haven't slept for four days, but goddamn I've got one inspiring cough! Every other passenger onboard can't help but be impressed. Immigration is an unnervingly relaxed experience considering how much cocaine we've got stashed in our cases… The most difficult part was freeing Dave from the clutches of the world's biggest Neil Peart fan posing as a customs official. Goddamn drummers bring that shit upon themselves, I say. Sometime during the flight the bridge riff of Thin Lizzy's “The Boys are Back in Town” seems the funniest thing ever. Ah, the wonders of jetlag…

20

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

12.11… STAGING A MUTINY For the next three weeks we will live and work with Mr. Bob Weston. Our agenda will revolve around Bob's van, Bob's favourite café, Bob's cats and Bob's favourite TV shows, with musical interludes in between. Bob himself is like a cross between a brown bear and a cup of cocoa. All that scary aluminum-necked bass guitar bravado is a complete sham kiddies, trust us. Bob is laughing at all your punk rock expenses, Ha! Bob's van should be preserved in some sort of “Can't believe it's still holding together!” car museum. Surely it's the fact that it's red that keeps it kicking over each day. Bob's mastery of the reverse park is a vision to behold, and all bailing in and out of the one operational passenger door definitely makes for a bonding experience. Bob takes us to his favourite café, Lula, for breakfast, where drinking coffee from stein-sized jugs seems to stir Brett's medieval roots. I am hoping that all the caffeine might pep him up a little. So far there has been very minimal action happening in the spare bed we are both sharing… that mole never puts out, goddamnit! The evening brings with it our first show ever outside of our beloved convict homeland, at a bar called The Mutiny (pause for irony)… Bob has never heard of it, and anyone we ask laughs at its


mentioning - two great signs pointing towards one hot night of rock. As we enter the establishment the boss is reclining in the dark across two barstools watching the football and smoking a fat Cuban. He cards us using his trusty maglite/patron pacifier and informs us how much beer we can drink for free. He's a real swell guy. Here's the lowdown on the gig… The Mutiny is where you play when all your Chicago mates are meatheads and have dragged themselves away from the PS2 for beer on tap. That said, the show goes down well. There is a fire escape running between the two halves of the stage (yes, of course the most obvious place for it) so I play and wave to the rhythm section from across the other side of the room. “Dudes! Doesn't this Dual Rectifier sound ORRSUM!!”… I know, I know, never stare a gift horse in the chops, but really borrowing shit gear is the pits… We finish an average set by our standards, complete with jetlag vox, only to be inundated with high fives and “Man you guys are fucking badass!” Not bad for a bunch of first-on-nobody's we guess. Chalk one up for the visitors. We lie about needing our beauty sleep and make a superb getaway to watch ISIS support Tortoise at The Metro. Despite our deception every fucker in the place shakes our hands on the way out… even the fat Cuban.

13.11… THE ANTIQUATED, YET HIGHLY OPERATIONAL MIC INCIDENT Electrical Audio Studios is a fun place. They have a billiard table there. Some guy called Steve shows me his cue-to-cue ball stylings. He's not bad, but for some reason he refuses to hand the cue over. As a school teacher, I think this is a very half-baked way to instruct someone on the finer points of the game. He should get out into the community more. Number one rule when at Electrical Audio: “Never assume that an object looks so antiquitous that it does not have a working purpose.” In short, if you see a microphone that looks like it belongs in The Thunderbirds and couldn't possibly be connected to anywhere, DON'T make a wisecrack into it… you never know which renowned indie recording engineer might be listening. So AC ain't the most popular dude at the moment (see previous paragraph) coupled with the fact that I am sleeping with another member of the band (always a bad policy) and coughing a lung and a half up into his face every night, it seems as though having my throat slit could be just around the corner. What's worse is, I've never officially recorded a full-length album… EVER… and the whole experience is proving a little overwhelming, being under the Chicago alt-rock hammer 'n' all. In short, tracking is taking a lot more attempts than anyone could want or need, especially “Settle Down, John”. Ironically, the song is about a dude as frazzled as what I'm feeling at present, so go figure. Thus the fairytale continues…

16.11… SNOW, SNOW AND MORE SNOW

to the opposite extreme, basing our lyrical motivations upon rather mundane everyday occurrences. So far we've chosen particularly humorous or memorable persons or events to describe. Our lyrics are cryptic enough to be read in a number of ways and we always welcome alternative interpretations. This record will contain songs about a failed road trip, a mentally unstable neighbour, a crucifixion mural, a singer being electrocuted onstage… and Pantera, amongst others.

18.11… REDRUM We are now relocated to SOMA Studios up the road for a vox and overdub party. The control room walls are reminiscent of a sixties space movie, all super-synthcharged blinking lights and dials and patch leads and shit. I'm half expecting Stanley Kubrick to appear in some crazed supercomputer voice singing “Daisy, Daisy” over the monitors. No such luck, however. The closest we get is Dave in the corner mumbling “redrum, redrum”. Tonight is Bob's night to drag us around Chicago checking out bands. But not just any bands. Tonight is a smorgasbord of notable local musical talent. Up first is Black Taj, the latest incarnation of ex-Polvo members. They rollick along in and out of a seventies-infused blues jam, guitars plucking and jangling and wah-wahing over the solid thump of rhythm section complete with bright orange earmuffs. At times it sounds like your mates hacking along to Electric Ladyland in the garage, yet there's enough vocal nous to excuse the fact that they seem to be enjoying their unoriginal slant more than us. It's no Polvo, but it's warm, fuzzy and familiar enough to be no sweat for all involved. A quick getaway and we're off to take on another act. This time the CV reads exCome/ex-Codeine/ex-Rodan so Dave is very excited. This is an intimate performance on the floor of the concrete box that is the Odum Rehearsal Space. Bob uses this place to record bands on the cheap, which he takes great pride in informing us. It sounds great. The band steers along the rails of a more folk-orientated ride. There's enough maths strewn amongst the drums to keep the exfans happy, and one hell of an impressive spectrum-drenched psychedelic design on the shells. The bass is solidly unassuming, setting the platform for Chris Brokaw's pale gold vocals and superb double-handed guitar rasping. Hearing him sing reminds me of how oddly comforting the sound of a performer with a genuine handle on the traditional American guitar song can be. Everyone is in appreciation of the event, especially the band. Afterwards we get talking to some locals. It's late and cold and we are all buggered from the studio grind. Douglas McCombs lightens the load with his genius lyrical suggestions including the words “shrimp”, “barbie” and “Fosters”. We can afford to forgive him since he's loaned us one of his guitars to track with.

Lo and behold…the tracking suddenly takes a positive turn… snow, hotdogs and 40-ounce coffees have helped to power some impressive takes. At some stage Bob decides to accidentally spill an organic cocoa over the upstairs console, turning EA into a hive of damage control. It helps take the edge off myself feeling the biggest cad in the place right now. Hairline fractures are beginning to accumulate in the whole band-living-with-engineer-whilst-recording relationship. Bob maintains that his role in the process is merely to document the band whilst in motion. No one argues that this is indeed his forte, the sounds we have so far are monstrous. Part of the appeal of finally documenting the fruits of 18 months creative labour for us, however, is having the flexibility to layer our sounds and to augment the basic tracking with “interesting” aural appendages. You could call it adding some “finesse” to the menace that is the band's natural sound. Somewhere along the line drum sounds and overdubbing become an issue. Bob's not entirely keen and doesn't mind showing it. Eventually he and Dave agree to disagree.

17.11… FINE TUNING No matter what any idiot who's put words to music tells you, a lyric will only come when it comes. That said, we are opting for a lyrical caesarean on a couple of tracks. This involves Brett and I sitting around on our day off proposing lines of genius that are required within the next 24-48 hours before vocal recording. We've been given a slumber reprieve, individual beds, and our relationship is blossoming as a result. On this record we've consciously decided to be less introspective in our approach, so alternatively we have gone

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

21


19.11… CHERYL AND THE LOST DIGIPICS This particular episode could be prefaced with “The best of times, the blurst of times.” Imagine Geelong were transplanted into South Chicago and turned into a venue and you may come close to the glory that is Champs Rock Bar. After a forty-minute ride out of the city the four of us roll up in the red beast and proclaim, “Hey, fuck it, our name's on the billboard out the front so how bad can it be?” Ha! During the course of the evening we are impressed with the quality of female patronage… especially with one particularly amorous vixen named Cheryl. Cheryl's shtick is to saunter her way up to your dudes' table in her own personally stylised take on the word “provocative”, complete with midriff tribal tatts… hot!... at which point she gargles bourbon in your ear that resembles the words “Hey, the band's shit… I can play g'tar y'know… I rock.” None of us could wholeheartedly disagree, in fact it was looking as though Bob's van may come in handy. She proceeds to target Dave's face with some wild flicking of her flowing mane of “Tru-Blonde no.43”, before spitting phlegm convulsively on our table in a primitive gesture of seduction. Needless to say, we were all dutifully impressed, especially Bob, who thought Christmas had come early. Just when we thought things could not get any better, Brett decides that with a push of a button he can irrevocably erase every photo from his camera in one hit… a gutsy move considering we'd yet to back them all up on Dave's laptop. We vow to buy him a manual for Xmas. And make him read it. All this hi-jinx made for one impressive headline show. How could it not? All thirteen punters were so enthused that they decided to pummel each other with an empty beer tub. Our music is certainly bringing out the best in these U.S. crowds.

24.11… THANKSGIVING CHILLS So today is Thanksgiving. Trapped within my usual cubicle of ignorance I've forgotten to ask anyone just exactly what it is we are giving thanks for. It would be a fair call, however, to say that the three of us are giving thanks for a warm house to chill in while the snow piles outside. It has gotten VERY cold in the last 48 hours and NOTHING is open. Bob and his wife Carrie have taken leave to Texas to visit her family, leaving us to run amok in their house and to medicate their invalid cats. We spend the day sleeping in, cooking, eating, washing clothes and raiding Bob's DVD collection. It's a ghost town outside, and the three of us opt for some headspace over the burnin-rubber-hell-for-leather-baby-yeh-yeh-yeh potential that comes with rock-dudes given a free house.

Blacklevel Embassy: (LtoR) Dave, Brett, Adam

20.11… OF COURSE I KNOW WHAT I'M DOING Brett is still licking his wounds from the digipic incident, and we are vocally spent after last nights' show, so today is my limelight for guitar dubbing. I power through most tracks, throttling Bob's new SG and burning a hole in SOMA's array of tiny combo amps. Bob is warming to my ideas with each take and by the end of the day I'm almost convinced that he thinks I know what I'm doing. By day's end I have used every amp in the place, including a tiny Z-FEX Nano the size of a cigarette pack which I am particularly tempted to pocket. We head home with a thousand takes of feedback wavering from one side of my head to the other.

22.11… POWERFUL SHIT When you're the guy running the studio it's easy to not give a shit what the band does so long as they're paying the rent. Not so with our friend Mr. John McEntire. We'd floated the idea of enlisting a piano player for the track “Closing Comment”, but by this stage we were running out of takers. John decided to appear at the studio tonight on his evening off to throw his talents into the ring. With no more than a lo-fi video render of the dub cued off of Dave's laptop to go by, he had the parts transcribed and tracked within an hour. Powerful shit to witness, people. When you travel halfway round the world and no one knows you from squat, it's easy to assume that those you encounter may be less than indifferent to your cause. Fortunately for us we found the complete opposite to be true during our stay in Chicago. At this stage I should say that our gratitude to Mr. Weston goes without saying. Differences in studio approach aside, not many people would put a band of strangers up in their house for three weeks while spending every day locked in a recording studio with them. It's definitely a tough call in anyone's book and we do admire him for it.

22

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

26.11… A HIT WITH THE KIDS Our new friend, Elliot, has agreed to drive us to two gigs in the one night while Bob is away in Kentucky recording the fifth Burn to Shine DVD. His regular gig is doing live sound for Tortoise, so we are in good hands. However, it turns out that he's overqualified for the first gig when we arrive at room 131 at DePaul University. The gig is in a classroom in front of thirty students sitting at desks. While most bands would baulk at the chance to perform a rock lecture, we embraced the opportunity wholeheartedly, receiving an A for our efforts. The venue for the second gig is the back half of a taco bar. The fact that it is called The Big Horse makes me dubious about indulging in the culinary offerings out front. While the gig starts out as refried beans when the first band bans us from altering any tone controls on their amps (Dave plays without any rack tom), it manages to turn into a double beef enchilada once we unleash upon the crowd.


27.11… LIKE-MINDED Cut to next night… We are finally on a bill with two sonically compatible bands and are revelling in the chance to play through some decent amplitude. This is our most relaxed show yet. Bear Claw's drummer pounds mechanical math groove from a bright orange transparent perspex kit lit with floodlights from below. Coupled with twin basses hammering train reck riffs either side this is the visual and aural equivalent of a volcanic eruption. Quatretet angle along through more punk cutand-run territory. They are choppy and abrasive with edgings of dirge-like rock and howl. Both bands comment that they feel unnerved taking the stage after us… a somewhat unnecessary compliment, yet appreciated nonetheless. This was a great night.

5.12… VIVA LA FAREWELL! Bob farewells us at the station. He's off to the gym to work out to our record. He suggests we make another record in France next year. Viva La Workload! we say. Communal man-hugs all round. The red beast disappears around the corner and once again it's the three of us left with six roadies worth of gear to lug.

28.11… CLASSY HONKYTONK SUIT Mixing begins. For the uninitiated, mixing is very long periods of waiting for very brief moments to happen. Brett fills the spaces with “short walks” up the street. Little does he know that we are onto the true nature of his little jaunts. You see, Brett has a serious cowboy apparel addiction, so serious in fact that he is willing to brave 5º below temperatures to get his fix. The jig is up when he brings back a belt buckle the size of a shorthorn steer and can't fit it in the door. It prompts the album title suggestion Classy Honky-Tonk Suit. Recording and mixing to analogue tape means NO second chances… no latest version of ProFools to mop up your failings and fumbles. It's a challenge that we've chosen to meet head on, and in doing so humility and compromise is required on behalf of all parties. We had decided right from the outset that we would push ourselves to be good enough to rise to the occasion and so far the sounds we have from Electrical Audio are great. It seems as though it will all come down to a question of balance since little EQing is necessary to enhance what we already have.

30.11… DINOSAURS The biggest motherfucker of a tour bus is parked outside of the Metro. It has carried Dinosaur Jr. to Chicago to do a golden oldies set. Bob sneaks us in the side door to watch. The place is packed and we are in side stalls upstairs with what we assume to be some sort of Chicago gig-going/playing collective. Bob's Boston homeboy Lou Barlow is playing bass and playing the pants off of J. Mascis. His sound rocks like a fatted calf. It had want to, considering the ludicrous array of amps sat at the back of the stage. After the show we sit amidst the anti-climax that is the “backstage” area. Short of holding a sign reading “anyone wanna sign our record?” we quietly observe the proceedings in humble mode.

2.12… LADY LUCK We need a female vocal for “Closing Comment”. At one stage Bob suggests his wife Carrie though he's a little unsure as to whether she can sing. A knock at the SOMA door interrupts our dinner. In walks Tanya Bowers, a SOMA regular, and quite possibly the only Australian musician living in Chicago. Not shy of grasping opportunity as it presents itself, we ask her if she would like to have a crack at the track. She agrees and blows us all away. As we're milling around the control room we establish that years ago Tanya's band SPDFGH played shows with both my first band and Brett's first band. Fate has a funny way of rearing its head at times, eh?

3.12… TICKS AND SLASHES

With two days to go some amazing things happen. First of all we are ahead of schedule. The “to-do” chart is rifled with ticks and slashes. It's the home stretch. Brett's cosily timed recording programme has paid off and even he has to admit that he's impressed with himself. There are enough gaps in the proceedings that he and I crank our credit cards all over the local record store. While we are out Dave and Bob share a percussive epiphany across the console. When we return we find that a collective subconscious relief is upon us. The drum sound God guides all forty of our fingers along the console manipulating faders on the fly. Some sonic bonding ensues and gives us all an ascending leg up the learning curve. Suddenly drums become thunderclaps, guitars a flurry of crystalline blades, the bass a tidal wave of iron-clad strapping. Bob plugs in his new monitors and we experience the final studio listening session. The three of us feel each song being unclenched from the last 18 months of grip and finally out of our hands. Scary shit.

10.12… EPILOGUE With four days left on our visas till a U.S. customs smack-down, we tackle the pit of cess that is LA, the city of angels. We are located in a hotel room in West Hollywood. There's a constant underlying sensation here that suggests that at any moment someone on the street may unhinge themselves from the realm of sanity, like a strung-out, hung-over, unbalanced kind of impending peril. There are some highly odd noises at equally peculiar times coming from adjacent rooms that we would rather not have to investigate. At the very least we are out of the record-breaking cold of Chicago and back in T-shirt weather, much to Brett's dismay. Two shows to go. With nothing left to lose and even less left to conserve we pour three and a half weeks worth of studio dementia into each set. Our newest allies, SaberTooth Tiger, are equally devastating. They are a searing, rattling verve of chordal strokes dashed against a rock of vocal desperation. Nursing a broken ankle, bassist Chris marks time from his stool as the guitar shreds a furrow down an agitated punk rock path while being pummelled by classic LA sweatbox drums from behind. They leave red-raw dents in our ears each night. Qui also impress us with their alternate take on a drum-guitar dynamic duo-ism. Hypnotically syncopated drummer vox overawes some well-oiled jazz-dirge blues-barrelled guitar. The sound vibrates between three dimensional psychedelic drones and a drop tune stomp-a-thon. Great. With un-mastered digital burns of our efforts in tow, and a zillion photos to remind us of the event, we call it a day and lay this trip to rest. Having been soldered together for the past month of our lives there's not too much left to discuss other than how reluctant we each are to wire ourselves back into listening mode. Instead we spend our remaining daytime hours entering into the vapid heart of illreality that is the Hollywood vacuum, having photos taken in the presence of culturally puerile landmarks stained with the zeal of a billion other bedazzled tourists. We pound the boulevards as the last of our funds evaporate into Xmas presents. This is the end, beautiful friend, the end.

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

23


k c a t t A t r Hea

s n a c i r e Am

T. ES W E N N IA D Y B S EW VI R TE IN . X N O R B E TH


E

ver wanted to give school kids the finger, start drinking before midday, prank call, chrome, bum smokes off hookers, break into a church, skull the blood of Christ and piss in the holy water, steal your sister's friend's Mercedes, drive to Centrelink and fuck in the back seat, or just generally get down and dirty and UNBELIEVABLY Bad? Whenever I want to seriously fuck shit up I know I've been listening to way too much Bronx. The only thing saving me is there's not enough Bronx to listen to. They've only released one album, plus some kind of exclusive Australian-tour single thing that doesn't count. They only get on stage for half an hour before destroying everything so they can't possibly come back. Go looking for Bronx interviews online and you won't find much. Those shitty net-zinesters all ask the same questions, and they only ever talk to Joby and Matt (because Joby writes most of the music and Matt writes the lyrics). But surely someone wants to hear from James or Jorma, right? In April last year when Danger told me he was starting a 'zine called UNBELIEVABLY Bad I said I wanted to interview The Bronx because their music makes me feel UNBELIEVABLY bad-arse. I didn't want to do a normal interview. I wanted to interview all four members separately, at different stages of the making of their new album. What I ended up with is this series of UNBELIEVABLY incoherent phone conversations. Read on if ya wanna. If not just wait, and wait, hammering nails into your baseball bat, waiting for the new record to come out.

James

So it hasn't been released over there? No, it was just put out by Livecast Production Studios, they were the dudes who put it out down there, and I don't think it's been released anywhere else. We're thinking of putting it out over here, mailorder or something. It's a pretty fun show, performances aside.

Being a bassplayer myself, I decided to kick things off with Bronx bassplayer James Tweedy…

I liked it because I was at that show... and you know how sometimes when you've seen a band while you're really drunk, and you say to your friends “That was a fucking cool show,” then they say “No it wasn't, you were just drunk!”... So you have proof that the show really was good? You watched it over and you're like “No, it WAS good!” I'm glad we stand up to the test of sobriety. I think it's fair to say that a lot of our spectators during the shows are somewhat anebriated.

I didn't interrupt anything important did I? We were on this soundtrack for this new video game called Need For Speed, and I thought I would start playing it to y'know to hear our music in context and see how badly we'd prostituted ourselves and I ended up getting addicted to the video game. Is it like Vice City where you get in the car and it's playing music on the radio station? Yeah, it's pretty much the exact same thing except it's actually the soundtrack of the game. It's kind of like the same concept of driving around as Vice City is, but it's not really as exciting in terms of being able to pull people out of their car and shoot them in the face. But you've got to make money when you're not on tour so this is good. You get a free game and you get a little bit of extra help. There was this kid in Japan who died from playing video games because he got so into it that he didn't eat or shit or sleep or anything and so he just exploded after three days. Wow, that's amazing. That's like a story you always hear about if you get a little too obsessed with video games. I assure you that I have both eaten and shit today, so there's no concerns whatsoever.

Pic: Silvana Macarone

[Wednesday 20th of April, 2005. 10am. Dianne (hepped-up on caffeine, Brisbane) calls James (playing computer games, LA) to get the dirt on all things Bronx.]

Have you ever had anyone have a big accident in the crowd? Umm, not really, I think the closest we had to a big accident was when that kid jumped off the balcony at, where was it, the last time we were there... Gaelic Club... at the end of the show. I think Matt coerced him to. I don't know what happened to him but I don't imagine it worked out well for whoever he landed on. There were a couple of people to support his fall. We haven't had anything too detrimental happen at shows, what with all the rock energy and whatnot. So yeah, knock on wood for that one. What about yourselves? I'm trying. I haven't hurt myself too bad at shows, I don't think. I mean, we all do stupid stuff every once in a while. Matt's taken a mic to the teeth, and Joby's fallen over a bunch of times, and yeah, there's just small mishaps, but we're starting to get less clumsy interacting with each other onstage and starting to overcome the awkwardness of a live show.

“Nobody's stopping and catching their

breath and daring to make a classic

rock record anymore. Nobody's daring

to make truly, truly great records.

The Bronx: (LtoR) Joby J. Ford, Jorma Vik, Matt Caughtran, James Tweedy

- James

Okay, because I'm sure everyone would be disappointed if you just exploded! Especially from playing the game that your music was on the soundtrack of. Talk about bitten by the hand that feeds you, maybe? Is that even an expression? I don't think it is. Haha. No, that's not quite how that one goes. So are The Bronx coming back to Australia? We try to spend as much time in Australia as we possibly can, actually. Of course we're going to come back, the question is when though. We're looking to come back, we're just working on finishing up songs for the new album right now. And we've got a bunch of songs that we've been writing for the last three months. But we're just taking a bit of a break after about two and a half years of touring, and we're starting to feel like normal, functioning people again for a small little window of time before we go back out and kill ourselves for another two years. But as soon as we get the album wrapped up we'll be hitting the road and Australia will be part of that. I'm sure everybody who does an interview with Australia says it's their favourite place, but it is legitimately our favourite place to play. So if somebody asked your favourite venue you would say the Annandale? Well, the Annandale is amazing. I'm actually looking at my DVD sitting on my coffee table right now that the guys over at the Annandale put together. We're going to try to re-release it over here somehow.

Pic: Silvana Macarone

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

25


have been are few bands that you can point out that ng the ebb doing that or that will do that that are defyi d for recor half, a and year a for g tourin of and flow good three with d recor shitty a out put three weeks and t. So in the time songs on it, y'know, wash, rinse, repea our breath, we've had off we're stopping, catching best record the make to itting comm and down sitting high. really bar the g puttin just and we possibly can Fuck! deceive me. It should be good, y'know, lest my ears with a lot of the I actually think a lot of the problem fere with the shit music is A+R people trying to inter tic control? artis lete comp have guys you Do artists. blanche carte with ed bless we're that I wouldn't say an A+R guy control over everything we do. We have as to his own who's looking to our best interest as well control ive creat 100% a have ly exact so we can't seem to be we e wher tion situa a in situation. But we're knowing what is trusted by our label and our A+R guy in has gone so far. in our best interest and that's where it on saying that and back go to going not I'm fully And hope time about years five in story jaded a I won't be telling d, or something. how he made us make a horrible recor And made you all wear silver suits. Yeah, exactly! Silver suits and so choreographed dance routines won't be I much of a joke anymore. But we'll see. t think there's something to be said abou state s guou ambi an such in being c musi 2003 Bats! EP right now. Even the A+R guys who 2003: The Bronx traditionally knew what worked and what 2004: La Muerte Viva EP (UK/Australia only release) sold, like it's not really working anymore. 2004: False Alarm 7” Nobody knows what direction music's 2004: Live @ Annandale DVD going. Or where anything's going. It's giving e 2004: They Will Kill Us All 7” artistic licence back to certain artists wher 2006: The Bronx they're free to do whatever the hell they want because even if they do use the results as it used to. Y'know, there's no same the get to going formula then it's not um record or whatever. There is no platin a or d, solid way of getting a gold recor are the bands that don't have a eding succe formula anymore. The bands that are ve sold a million records in the States. They' formula. Like Modest Mouse have just that they just have a hit has fact the and now, years eight or been around for seven st nce. If you told me five years ago that Mode propelled them into a worldwide audie ed. laugh 've... would I Mouse would be an MTV staple in 2004

THE BRONX DISCOGRAPHY

Like choreographed dancers? ographed routine, I mean, you can tell Yeah, we're taking up a bit of a chore haha. out all our moves ahead of time. Haha that's the kind of band we are. We plan with tour on been e We'v s. too many band Aaaah, unfortunately that's too true of stuff every night, and they do like the same bands and they say the same shit like lous. ridicu so at the same times and it just gets

? a gap into a song so they can all jump And do that thing where they write like “No, dude. Stop!” I it's and g swin r guita a or ps -jum Yeah, they do like punk letely in Australia where you're being comp don't know if you guys are in a state overtaken by horrible music, but... It's everywhere!! e. old and salty, or it's actually getting wors It really is! I don't know if I'm getting to idea new a really not it's c, of musi Everybody complains about the state that s are that are out there. But in the time complain about how crappy all the band and watch a couple down sit to y rtunit oppo the had lly we've been home and actua have about three that are dedicated at of music channels here - because we are e ever seen into our living rooms - there pumping the worst garbage that you'v just I'm part most the for in a while, but good programs and good videos once s who bands; bands who are ripping off band overwhelmed by the amount of shitty bands. It's off rip of ration gene ninth the in ripped off other bands. It's like we're thing that I think that we've been going just thoughtless crap. And that's some ure. because there seems to be this press d, recor this g writin through while we're back on tour?” going you are when out, ng comi d It's like, “When is the recor ? Is that pressure coming from the label gh. We are signed to a major here in the No, not really, actually, surprisingly enou y mellow about it. They're totally cool. totall re they' and rds, US, we're on Island Reco d to work with them is because starte we n reaso We're just taking our time and the y, this is what we want to “Oka , them told they trusted our vision and we basically them whatsoever in terms of from ure press no had e We'v it. into do.” And they were in this itely is a time in music where we are getting our record done. But this defin - in terms ntly insta so thing every gets body every instant gratification society where if you video games, TV, Teevo... I don't know of music, downloading, getting music, and save it on a hard drive? TV live d recor can you e wher yet, guys have got Teevo It's called IQ here. name like army intelligence. Apparently It's called IQ? That seems like a kinda cells than sleeping, so your brain is brain more burns you s watching TV make TV than when you are sleeping, or doing hing watc are you actually less active when anything else. TV you're actually waking up? So when you fall asleep in front of the thing scientific going on there. But I think some bly proba 's Umm... maybe?? There right now is because people are rushing there out that a lot of the crappy music that's make a and catching their breath and daring to their way though it. Nobody's stopping There ds. recor great truly truly, daring to make classic rock record anymore. Nobody's

26

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

out at home have you been going out Now that you've had the time to chill and watching bands? g becoming homebodies. I've been payin A little bit. I think we're kind of guilty of t abou for here was I and tour on been that I've rent on my apartment for an entire year per 0 $500 t abou being to has worked out two and a half months last year. My rent e, spent in it. It's not quite that much of cours month in terms of how much time I've hella Coac the had just We out. gone have but we've definitely chilled out a bit. We st us went down there. Coachella is the close Festival on the weekend, so a couple of ing or Leeds or Big Day Read as while worth as al festiv a ng maki the US has come to e tion of Warped Tour, which I think is a plagu Out or something like that, with the excep good. I saw was hella Coac ely. tunat unfor , world Kevin Lyman spread to the rest of the years fantastic. I saw The Stooges play like two Gang of Four and they were absolutely see, but Gang of Four, they really to stic fanta was it and great were ago there, and they p of the whole festival. It was cool. The line-u pulled it off. It was probably the highlight Nails Inch Nine . Fire.. e Arcad . there s band was good. They had a bunch of great was too drunk to enjoy it though. But aah, it played, which was interesting. I got a little on two occasions maybe. think I e hous my left I've s, band some good times. I've seen s! not leaving the house for two week Now you should reward yourself by s. No. movie some h watc s, game video I think that's what I'm doing. Playing some at it for quite a while, pretty been e We'v ule. sched ice pract lous It's been a pretty ridicu ones. day. Working out old songs, writing new much every day for six to eight hours a It's the dream! That's hilarious. It's something a lot of It's been great. This is my full time job. being able to do this full time. This of ept conc the rock bands take for granted, now, and before that we were all in years band's only been going for about three week and then somewhere around that bands and we'd work 40, 45 hours per It's try to book tours together. It's tough. and band the with we'd try to rehearse the dream! living we're , good it's So time. same tough if you're working at the

place in Brisbane called the “3am Lock There's a new law that's coming into past 3am, but the people who in new ne anyo ing allow not are Out”. All the bars until they close at 5. are in there are allowed to stay in there ? So can you drink while you're in there


they're between bars between 3 and 5, so You can drink, but you can't move ng between bars at that movi be ally norm d woul who le hoping that the peop time stop beating each other up. alia, that you guys are just kicking each Is that a big problem right now in Austr other's arses? This law is actually only in place in You live in the shit part of town?

my neighbourhood!!

t appearance at Sad Hour. DJ Bum-Out could do a special gues You'd get to hear a lot of that really shitty stic. fanta be d woul That y. totall Yeah a bit of The Allman Brothers. Maybe some hear You'd stuff. ative early nineties altern it. be d Grateful Dead. That woul y would That's a very short set, and everybod BumDJ sure I'm so ted, be very disappoin Out would be a success. Hopefully they'd all be locked inside! album? Are you allowed to talk about the new Who's going to record it? going to We've got some ideas as far as who's daily so I ging chan s keep just thing Every record it. who g sayin by ing anyth jinx don't really want to ising to we're talking to but it's been quite surpr out of the see some of the people who've come and want band the of fans the are that woodwork going to be to work with us. So whoever it is it's very good.

I live in the Valley. Valley over here. That's I think that's a little different from our come from. A lot of the Girl y Valle like of s otype stere the e wher s in Hollywood resides rich kids live there, everybody who work rich folk live. the all e wher s over, across the hill. That' Well our Valley is like a slum. ours. Your Valley sounds a little bit cooler than 3am lockout in LA? So what would happen if they did the 'cos the problem is Well nobody can drink past 2 o'clock, bars close, last calls now we have this drinking curfew. The of a raw deal. I kind it's So two. to are about 1:30, quarter here as long as think that you could lock anybody in anyw the lock-out rule. If they can keep drinking. I'd actually love . A lot of people great be d woul that later bit a we could drink speakeasy e whol the like kinda do that here anyway, it's a bar or whatever thing. If you know somebody who owns and you can stay inside and they lock the front doors at 2am figured out. I gotta lot a have to seem guys and drink. You itely think we defin I alia. Austr in say I have a lot of fun s. Whatever you should follow your lead on a lot of thing guys suggest... the Government. I suggest a liquor allowance from nt? For personal alcoholic consumption? A liquor allowance from the governme Isn't that what being on the dole is? ” ay night event at Ric's called “Sad Hour That's exactly right! There's a Sund play sad only They ol. alcoh of ent paym the where two sad alcoholics DJ for y , Roland S. Howard, because it's prett slow songs - Johnny Cash, Nick Cave est sadd the play they Hour , so at Sad raucous every other night of the week songs. If you had to do your own DJslowest drink-yourself-to-death kinda what music would you play? and night night what would you name the get someone else. See we have this could I It depends if I have to DJ it myself or if “Oh, ams the songs in the van. He'll be like thing where Joby gets drunk and progr him DJ Bum-Out, amed nickn we've But t.” swee so It's check out this next song. itely probably give him the night, and I'd defin because he bums everybody out. So I'd g gettin just stic, fanta s sound That Hour. like to piggyback off the success of Sad c. them the shittiest, most depressing musi everyone drunk and miserable and play

Joby

James I Over six months after my interview wither of a own d prou the with up h catc to decided out if clear perspex guitar, Joby J. Ford, to find ything they the completed Bronx album was ever had hoped for. It was, in fact, just a few days after Halloween, when I'd seen them play in San Diego supporting Rocket From The Crypt. I guess I could've interviewed Joby at the show but damned if I was going to stand around talking to a guy in a skin-tight yellow lycra wrestling leotard.

it's out? So are you not playing any more until writing Probably not. We were supposed to start ed we could the album last September and we assum we weren't write and play shows but we realised that schedule the but are, we mean I that. of le really capab we'd is en happ would what is a little too much. So make take two weeks off and start writing and up and we'd progress but then the tour would come we kept and tour, the for rsing rehea have to start of progress. So shooting ourselves in the foot in terms ary, we we played our last show this year in Febru hs or so. But mont two good a in show a d playe 't haven h - it's called we did this local bar here in Long Beac boat Alex's, and we did a show with The River s for a while. 300 show g playin ed stopp we'd se becau Gamblers, and that was great a great. It was like a total mess. It was like people, sold out, it was amazing. It was had. ever has place that show . The best bomb went off in that place. It was great on ing the record, and then going back So you're just hanging out a bit, mak tour? how mid-July or so, we'll see. So we'll see Our goal is to be back on the road like our time because nobody g takin of kind we're g sayin was I it all works out. Like going to really solid records anymore. So if it's really dares to take the time to make there's think don't I .. then. d recor r bette even take us an extra month to make an the next Bronx record. anybody really holding their breath for what happened to the kid in Japan. They'll just explode! That's probably ng for our new album! waiti Exactly. He was really actually just

d? So have you guys finished the recor Aaah, no. You've finished recording it though? finish the The music we have. I go in with Matt to need to finish vocals on Friday. There's few things we shelve it for a up. Y'know, get it done and then kinda little bit and go, “We want to change that and change this.” The shitty final things that don't even really matter, but matter to us. Was that a bunch of new songs in San Diego? Yeah, we played a few. I thought we played them okay.

Awesome show the other night! There were a couple of people up the front saying “Oh my god, that lycra is too much.” Yeah, there were four people on stage who thought that lycra was too much!

Pic: Silvana Macarone

[Wednesday 2nd of November 2005, 8:20pm. Dianne (drunk in an alley outside the Knitting Factory, New York) calls Joby (stuck in traffic in LA) for a friendly chat.]

Fuck yeah, so what's next? You guys haven't played for eight months right?

Umm, as The Bronx, no. Other bands have

played.

? You've been doing stuff with The Drips , Matt and I Yeah, we finished up The Drips album new sort of and the other guys. And we started a l Club and Socia d calle It's . weird really it's thing, uh, umm, that, s song x Bron of it's kind of a big mess h of people, didn't make the cut and there's a bunc come in to do y'know kinda musicians in LA, that have town down in o studi ding recor little a built stuff. We . thing every doing we're and that's where So who are these other people? know what's It's Keith Morris from Black Flag - you daries. It's boun ut witho is that c cool is making musi you can do kind of an ultimate environment where er to some anything you want without having to answ ands of thous g puttin body some or ead, label fuckh thing for some want they and band dollars behind your cares! it. And if you fuck up then it's like, who be able to do It's cool that you have the luxury to do. to want you cts whatever other proje y either. I Well, I don't think we really have that luxur to snaggle the think it's more of lack of sleep and trying ideas, which just rest of the band into my fucking crazy end of the day the at But . arses completely kicks their the more music we all got into this to make music, and There is this you make the better. It's more exciting! ay with a flat freew the of le midd the in fucking truck traffic! 's there so over tyre, and it hasn't pulled

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

27


Pic: Silvana Macarone

The Drips So you're stuck, are you at a stand still? Yeah, in the middle of fucking LA. Swearing and smoking! I should've just come and interviewed you in LA. We went to Tiajuana yesterday. WHY?! Just to get fucked up really cheap. If you want to go to Mexico you gotta go south! TJ isn't really Mexico, it's just a big fucking waste of time and space - shitty everything. The farther south you go the better it gets. Good fishing, good surfing, good food. But Mexico's a weird place. Unless you know what you're doing you don't really want to go there unless you go to TJ. But TJ just sucks. What was the best Halloween costume you saw the other night? The best costume I saw was my costume I think. I definitely looked the best out of everybody there. Wouldn't you agree?

I don't know, there were a few good ones around! Well thank you for the compliment. I thought I looked the best. I'm just kidding. I really can't remember, I was pretty gone. There was a bunch of good stuff. As a general Halloween it was definitely the best group costumes I've seen. I've been to some really shitty Halloween extravaganzas with some really shitty costumes. But that one everyone really went out of their way, and everyone put a lot of time into their costumes for a good reason. It was really cool. I've never done the Halloween thing before. You guys don't have it in Australia? No, we don't have it. It's your licence to do whatever you want. It's the one day a year you can be retarded and no one cares. Were you one of those people crying while Rocket From The Crypt were playing? No I wasn't. I was actually having a good time.

Did you see anyone crying? No, and I don't really equate that with having a good time. I think crying means you're sad, and it's not fun to be sad. It was really great man. I've known those guys for a long time and I was really honoured that they asked us to play with them. It felt really cool to be included in the last thing that they did. And I spent the rest of the night with Speedo drinking Tequila, woke up the next day and wanted to kill myself. I actually had to wake up really early hour - 9:30 in the morning and get back to LA to finish a bunch of artwork. Really, is that for other bands? Yes, I get paid a lot of money to do a… well… a good friend of mine's album, and he's pretty popular, but I have a lot of deadlines so I had to go back up. It doesn't help being in traffic. How's Danger? He's awesome! Did you read UNBELIEVABLY Bad, the first one? No. I'll make sure you get it. Well, y'know, he asked me to design the cover for issue #2, and I did. Really fucking weird. It looks cool though. I'd buy it. Thanks Joby, for the cover, and thanks for the interview!!

“We started a new sort of thing, uh, it's really weird. It's called Social Club and it's kind of a big mess of Bronx songs

that, umm, didn't make the cut and there's a bunch of

people that have come in to do stuff.” - Joby 28

UNBELIEVABLY BAD


Jorma

now but it's taking a lot longer than expected just because there was some gear in the studio that was broken, and it took a while to fix that stuff, and then once something got fixed something else broke. So it was kinda a pain in the butt. We've never recorded like this before. When we did our first record it was so thrown together. But this was way more thought out, and we put a whole lot more energy into song-craft and dynamics and it just made for a much more interesting experience than the last record.

Six weeks after the chat with Joby, I called up Bronx drummer Jorma Vik hoping the album was mixed so I could get some kind of exclusive copy to crap on about in my article. Turns out Matt and Joby were getting so comfortable in the studio that the vocals STILL weren't complete. And Jorma was getting so comfortable on the phone that he took his clothes off halfway through our conversation. Bad Bronx. UNBELIEVABLY bad Bronx.

Who did you get to engineer it? This guy Ross Hogart engineered it. I think he did a record for Sheryl Crowe, and his name was kind of around the late eighties early nineties LA Sunset Strip rock scene. And he was awesome to work with. He was in there for like a week setting up stuff making sure everything sounded right. Then Michael Einhart took over from there.

[Thursday 15th of December 2005, 3pm. Dianne (sober, killing time at home in Brisbane) calls Jorma (possibly drunk, on his way to a party in Dallas) to find out what the fucking hold-up is.]

Pic: Silvana Macarone

Hi!!!!! YAY!!!! So are ya finished the record yet? No, not yet. Matt's still doing vocals. STILL doing vocals? Yeah, should be done within the next week, week and a half I think. Is that what he's doing today? I would imagine. I'm in Dallas right now actually. My friend has a tattoo shop out here and they have this really big Christmas party every year. So he chartered a jet from LA to Dallas and back to LA and got a whole lot of people on it. So we're out here partying in Dallas. That's why I've been unavailable. I've been either drunk or on my way to getting drunk.

And it's rad and you're excited? I'm SO excited. 'Cos me and James finished all of our tracks about three months ago, so I took some time away and let Joby and Matt work in the studio so it didn't get too confusing with too many people in there. And I went back in a couple of weeks ago to hear it again and I was just like “Oh my god!!” like I was so stoked. It sounds so good. I might leave you to get dressed in peace now. Thanks for doing the interview. Yeah, no sweat. That was easy. Thanks for being nice to me. I fucking hate doing interviews

“I fucking hate doing interviews more than anything in the world. I've done two or three in the entire time I've

been in The Bronx. I'm absolutely

So let me get this straight, the party wasn't a party on the jet, it was just a jet-load of people flying to Dallas to party? Yeah, it was pretty interesting. It's just people in the tattoo industry. I think I was the only person on the plane without neck tattoos. And then there were one or two people on the plane who were just regular people and they were just scared for their lives.

worthless at them.” - Jorma

That's hilarious. I guess the Bronx don't get reactions like that on flights normally... Hahaha, actually somebody gave us this sleeping drug, I think it's called Adovan, and Joby took it on a flight once and started to drink rum - one of the flight attendants gave us a bottle of rum. I think we were going to Australia or Japan, I remember the flight was really long. It was one of those flights where you go to sleep for eight hours and wake up and you're still on the fucking flight. Which sucks. So Joby got all fucked up on this thing, and went to sleep. And started sleepwalking. And just started walking down the aisle and grabbing people and staring into their eyes and just freaking them out. We had to take him and sit him down and strap him in.

more than anything in the world. I've done two or three in the entire time I've been in The Bronx. I'm absolutely worthless at them, like people ask me stuff and I'm like “Uh, I don't know, ask Matt.” I think the trick is not to ask questions. Hahaha!! Yeah, it really should be more like a conversation, not like you're on fucking trial for something! Yeah. Take care Jorma. All right, bye.

Hahahaha!!! Yeah, poor Joby. He's getting married on Saturday. Really? Are you guys going to play? No, but we're definitely going to be very intoxicated. He's getting married in Vegas so it's going to be fun. So did you really see us in San Diego with RFTC? Yeah, I was there in the front row going “Woooh!” Wow! That was the first time we’d played in almost a year. It was fun. I mean it was obvious that we hadn't played in a while but because of that it was like… Sorry, I'm getting dressed while I'm talking to you… You're taking your clothes off - right now? Heh, yeah… So because of that it was nine months worth of frustration and not-playing coming out. We actually did a little secret show in a bar in Anaheim a couple of weeks ago and it was amazing. Really fun. So when you put the record out, finally, are you guys going to start playing more? Is that what you're waiting for? Yeah, we were actually supposed to be on tour right

Pic: Silvana Macarone

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

29


Pic: Silvana Macarone

Matt

Danger has been hassling me to get this 4-part Bronx interview completed and I'm blaming it on the Bronx guys for not answering their phones. It's true. I tried calling Matt Caughtran, Bronx singer/screamer, for an entire week straight and he wouldn't pick up. I texted. Left messages. I started feeling really lame. Really really lame. I asked James why Matt wasn't picking up. James said, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Your number comes up as 'private', which is scary 'cos those numbers are either debt collectors, ex-girlfriends or stalkers. But keep trying, Dianne. Midday LA time is the best time for Matt.â&#x20AC;? Midday LA time is also 5:30am Brisbane time. So for a whole week I was setting alarms to get up at cunt o'clock. Then Friday night rolled around, I got fucking shitfaced, my friends and I got kicked out of the local bar, went back to my place for vanilla vodkas, and before too long it was time to leave my daily message on Matt's answering machine.

[Sat 24th of December at 5:30am. Dianne (staggering around the lounge room drunk) calls Matt (hungover, lying in bed, presumably in LA) for some serious interrogation.] Hello. [Matt's voice is really croaky] Hi Matt, it's Dianne from UNBELIEVABLY Bad. So I finally got through to you!!! Did I wake you up? No. [His voice is more croaky than any voice ever] Is it okay if we do this interview then? Yeah. Are you sure I didn't wake you up, should I just call you back in a few minutes? No, no I'm fine. Did you hurt your voice doing all the vocals? No. Yeah. Yeah I gotta like take days off, I'm so exhausted and tired, it's ridiculous. Not just me but the whole band. [My friends are clanking glasses and playing music really loud and I'm finding it hard to hear Matt] Shoosh!! What?? No, not you. The guys in my house, they're being really loud. Sorry, what were you saying? Just that the rest of the band worked on the music for two months straight. Is it true that The Drips are coming to Australia. Oh god, I can't wait. We're definitely coming. We're going to be there in March or something.


Hey, my friend Rory is here. He want s to ask you a question. [I pass the phone to Rory. He's really drunk] Rory: Hey Matt, how ya going? Good.

'Cos when I saw you guys in San Dieg o you said it was eight months since you played. And you could tell too, I mean that show wasn't very good. But it was so much fun, I can't wait. We're doing this tour with this band called High On Fire.

Rory: At this time of year I usually think of the Pogues' “Fairytale in New York”. So my question is what song reminds you of Chris tmas? I usually watch that movie Lethal Weap on.

High On Fire? Oh, they're amazing. They're like this stoner-metal band. They're unbelievable. But umm yeah, we leave on January 15th for that tour.

Rory: Lethal Weapon reminds you of Christmas? You know what, that movie opens up with that chick naked on the balcony, and that song “Jing le-Bell Rock”. I fucking love that song! “Jing le bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock…” [Rory passes the phone back to me while Matt is still singing “Jingle-Bell Rock”. I have no idea what is going on!]

So you're doing a little tour pre-recor d release? Yeah, we're doing a little pre-tour, then we come back from that, then The Drips are going out, and then The Bronx are going on tour.

Do you know what time it is in Aust ralia? It's 5:30am 'cos James told me it's the best time to call. I asked James, 'cos I couldn't get through to you.

Are you going to make it all the way around the states on The Bronx tour or are you just doing the west coast? No, it's pretty gnarly. We play every singl e night for like 35 nights, and there are no days off.

Rory: James doesn't know shit, dude

So how are you going to entertain yourself for one entire month in Australia? That won't be hard at all. We've got a lot of friends in Australia. There's a lot of great bars and people and clubs and women and drugs and all that stuff. I'm sure the month will be amazing. I can't wait. I just want to live in Australia. Well, I'm sorry to be the one to tell you, but since the last time you came there's been a shortage in drugs and women. Really? The last time we came there I just remember getting pulled out of a club on like three hits of ecstasy, and like not even know ing where I was, and getting thrown into a cab and being driven to the airport. And when I came to I was in the middle of a thirteen-hour flight. I was drunk! Have you guys ever been to Perth? No, y'know I hope we get to go there this time. You know who I'm looking forward to seein g? My friend Mel, you know Mel Bampton from Triple J? She is really, really great every time we come there. She takes us out, gets us drunk, she's awes ome.

No! There's this guy who lives in Brisb ane called James Straker. I don't know. Maybe I know him?

So Jorma told me about this time that Joby took all these painkillers and then dran k all this rum on a flight? Yeah, he was on a flight and there was this steward who was gay. Y'know, nothing major, but he took a liking to Joby. So what happened was Joby and this guy get talking and then he brings over this bottle of rum. And during the flight he drank almo st this entire bottle of rum, and plus he'd taken all these Zanex and he just turned into a fucking zombie. And then when he got off the flight he was a total mess in front of customs. We had to put his headphon es on and tell him not to talk. He couldn't even walk , it was fucking hilarious.

That's not one of our questions, by the way. So what's the question?

What country you were entering? I think we were coming in to Australia,

.

No, Rory, not James Straker, I mea n James from The Bronx. Hey Matt, do you know this guy from Brisbane calle d James Straker? What? James Straker. Am I a streaker?

I heard you were planning on doin g two weeks in Australia with The Bronx and two week s with The Drips. Hopefully. I was DJ-ing at this bar the other day and this drunk guy was asking if I have any punk rock. He was saying “Hey, have you heard this band called The Drips? They're fucking AWESOM E!!” That is so cool, man. I like it man. We never thought we'd get to tour with The Drips, we just wanted to put a record together. So you did The Drips record, and then The Bronx record? We've got two more songs to go on The Bronx.

“W e' ve got a lot of

friends o ver in

Australia. There's a

lot of great bars and people and clubs and women and drugs and all that stuff.” - Matt

actually.

So that's how you get through Aust ralian customs? Just put headphones on and don't talk? Yeah, I'm pretty sure it was Australia. Don't tell that to the “terrorists”. So when do you think you're going to finish your voca ls? I want to have everything done by Janu ary 1st. So you only have a few more days , so rock it, dude. Thanks for doing the interview . Thanks.

For all I know The Bronx's new albu self-titled just like their first one wasm, which is incomplete.... Review in UB #3. Maybe., is still

Is that what you've been doing the last week? That's what I've been doing the last mont h. Is that why I keep thinking you're asleep, 'cos you've been singing too much on The Bronx album? Yeah. Do you... like it? I wouldn't have it any other way, I love

it!

Did you go to Joby's wedding? Yeah, it was so cool. He got married, and then we all got very drunk. It was the perfect wedding. He's in Jamaica right now smoking a whole bunc h of pot. I wish I was in Jamaica right now. Yeah, me too. So what are you looking forward to when you come on tour? I'm just looking forward to everything . I just can't wait to get out and start playing again , I miss it.

Pic: Silvana Macarone

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

31


H T E R INSIGHT R U F A r Furthe

Photos by Mel Gathercole. adbutt. Interviews by Big Bubba He

T

hey issued one of the most addictive albums of 2005 but Further don't have an “angle” to sell it. Critics seemed to be all over Further! (that's the album title by the way, not the band), just as they were all over this Sydney foursome's phenomenal 2002 debut Punkrockvampires. But since Further (the band not the album) don't do their hair up nice or wear costumes or throw tantrum or suck cock or whatever these prissy and preened “cool” bands do to steal spotlights and column inches from real, honest, hard-working ones, they remain grossly under-appreciated by the public at large. The dudes in the band, god bless 'em, don't like to talk it up too much either. I mean, as far as they're concerned, what's to talk up? When writing songs and playing music is as natural to you as breathing you feel pretty stupid trivializing it, right? Further's chief spokesperson has

32

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

always been their songs, which are capable of conveying way more about them than any slick sales pitch or sexy band photo ever could. The songs, like the band members themselves, don't come out all extroverted and brash and try to bash you upside the head to get your attention. It's almost sleight of hand the way they plant hooks all over the place that slip you by on the early listens, revealing themselves over time as the true depths are explored. To my ears it's some of the greatest pop music made in ages, but obviously not formulaic enough to be considered for airplay on that fucking stinking heap of shit that calls itself radio at the moment. I was, and remain, a hopeless Further! addict. It was easily among my most played CDs of last year, along with another local experimental indie/post rock act Tucker B's and their incredible new full-length album Chubby. On 17th December, 2005 Further were lending their support to Tucker B's at Spectrum for the B's boys' Chubby launch, so I arranged to hook up with the four Further dudes after soundcheck. Tramping down to Oxford Street with my hand on my Dictaphone, I was determined not to do the typical “Where was your album recorded at?” interview. No. I had divide and conquer strategies on my mind. Since Further don't believe in angles I had to come up with one. So I devised a scheme whereby I would interview the four members separately and discuss the other dudes behind their backs. I reckon it worked out pretty well. Provided they don't break up over it. At the very least I just hope it keeps you interested for the next little while...


DARREN “DANG” TALENT (DRUMS)

Who is the leader of the band? I think there are two leaders of the band and that's just because they share blood. It would have to be the brothers Coyte. Basically Leo and Matt already had the band and me and Andy joined their band. Who is the most likely to stand up to them? That'd be me. Andy is quiet-spoken, he won't say a word sometimes, even though you know what he's thinkin'. If there's some decision to be made Andy will speak up at the last moment.

'MATT'S FASHION SENSE SWINGS RADICALLY' SOMETIMES HE GETS IT RIGHT, SOMETIMES HE GETS IT REALLY WRONG.' - DARREN

Who collects the money and pays for rehearsal? Andy is the money man. But for rehearsal we all split it. We've been rehearsing at Zen Studios for a long time and they already have our payments split up four ways so we can pay separately. They work it out for us. But if one of us is low on funds we'll lend each other money and get it back later. I think Leo still owes me for about five rehearsals. Who is late for rehearsal most often? That'd be Matt Coyte, what with his working duties and stuff. I'd come a close second to that, just through slackness and general drumkit hassles. It's such a hassle getting your drums around. So I reckon I'm late sometimes but Matt is the latest. Who is usually the most nervous before a show? Probably Leo gets the most visibly nervous, but Andy is actually the most nervous. Leo is fine once he's up there but before we play he has to have his scotch and cola. Andy looks calm and collected but then he plugs in and the way he plays I can just tell he's nervous but he doesn't let on. Who is most likely to fuck up a song onstage? I guess I have the potential to fuck up a song the most out of anyone. The boom crash of the drums means that it's noticeable and if you make a mistake or drop a stick it stands out. So I'll say myself. Who has been the drunkest onstage? I think it was probably me, on a cocktail of all sorts of different things, not just being drunk. Me and Matt Coyte had some good times when we were down in Adelaide on tour with The Mark of Cain and over in the UK as well. We were playing sixteen shows straight so we needed some help. We had some great nights over there, drinking pints and… having fun - I won't go into details. The punters, though, some of the punters in little places we played in England were just smashed! The bouncers don't chuck them out, more like encourage them to get up onstage and hassle the band. So they jump up onstage, they try and grab your microphone, they sing soccer songs in between songs - so sometimes it's the fans who are the drunkest people onstage. Who does the most driving on tour? We share it between me and Andy. Matt usually sits in the back and plays with his laptop, his Nintendo, his PSP, his iPod; he's always got some little gadget. Leo refuses to drive. There was one tour where he was on his P plates and he asked for a drive, but because he was on his Ps I just didn't think that he was experienced enough so I said, “No.” So since then whenever I've asked him to drive he says, “Well you said I couldn't drive that time so I'm never gonna drive.” It's so fucked! But anyway Andy does most of the early morning stints because he gets up nice and early because he goes to bed early and he's usually the most refreshed. But I love driving, I've always loved driving, I drive for work and stuff as well. Who does the most sleeping in the van? Have to be Leo.

Who controls the music in the van? It's a tough one because we have a core of music that we all like but then we branch off and all have really different tastes. So we have to take turns. When we go on tour is when you get a chance to play all your new CDs to the boys; showcase what you've been listening to the last couple of weeks. I get really impatient thinking, “I really wanna do my set now.” You have your own set and you get to talk it up and go, “How good's this?” Sometimes they like it or sometimes it's like, “This is crap I want to play my songs.” Matt has got the iPod so he's probably got the biggest collection. Who eats the most? Me. I love food. Can't you tell? Andy has got the most exotic tastes, he likes a bit of vegetarian; he likes to mix it up. Matt could quite easily hoe down on a McDonalds or Hungry Jacks burger, and I could too. But Leo has got a real sensitive stomach so he's gotta eat good food. He couldn't eat Hungry Jacks before we played a set because it'd make him vomit. Who has the worst taste in fashion? Andy wears almost the same T-shirt at pretty much every gig, this green horizontal stripy shirt. On the other hand, Matt's fashion sense swings radically. One day he'll wear a vest, a brimmed hat and these white leather shoes, the next day he'll have a headband in like a Bruce Springsteen look, cowboy boots. And he's always trying something different. Sometimes he gets it right, sometimes he gets it really wrong. Who is most likely to start a fight with another band? Me. If something shits me I've been known to heckle bands or threaten to run up and do something stupid, push their amps over or something. Sometimes I'll throw out a dare for myself, like say to the other guys, “How much would you give me if I just ran up onstage and unplugged all their guitar cords?” Who is the easiest to get along with? Andy - he's such a sweet, nice personality. He can be really personable and nice to everyone and that's why he has been the main contact for Further for a while now. He was managing us for a while but we all decided we didn't want him to do that role and try to play as well. He was stressing out before gigs organising the door and the money and the merch and all the shit that goes on, then he'd have to jump up onstage and try to suddenly think about playing. Who is the funniest? I'd say me but it sounds conceited. When we're in the van and it's a bit slow or boring I get requests for stories. But the thing is, they aren’t just stories but actual true stories from my life - stories from my school days and stuff. It usually gets them going. Sometimes Leo just loses it, like almost wets himself. We all crack each other up.

LEO “THE KID” COYTE (GUITAR/VOCALS)

Who is the leader of the band? I'd say it'd have to be Pig Balls, aka Andy, just for the pure fact that he sends us text messages four times a day about where to be, when to be there... Like today, I got a text, “Zen closes at 7, get your gear out. Be at Spectrum at 7. UNBELIEVABLY Bad interview at 7:30…” I reckon that's a good enough reason for him to be leader, plus he drives everywhere. Who is the most likely to stand up to him? Darren or I will shoot our mouths off pretty quickly. Who collects the money and pays for rehearsal? Pig Balls. We all pay our share at rehearsal but Andy collects all the money at the end of the night, he gets the merch money and everything. Who is late for rehearsal most often? Probably me because I'm the only one who has to catch public transport. Matt will be late because he's working. No one really cares too much though if anyone is late. Who is usually the most nervous before a show? We played a big show at the Gaelic Club the other week [supporting Sons and Daughters] and we haven't played a big room for ages and I was shitting myself.

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

33


'ANDY IS PRETTY STANDARD, HE'S GOT A COUPLE OF STRIPY T-SHIRTS AND A COUPLE OF PAIRS OF JEANS AND HE JUST STICKS TO THAT - THERE'S NO RISK WITH ANDY.' - LEO I was asking the other guys if they were scared and they weren't, so it's obviously me. I usually have a couple of scotch and drys before I play, but once I've got the guitar on I'm switched on and ready. Who is most likely to fuck up a song onstage? We've all had our fair share. Given that me and Shit Nuts, aka Matt, sing, we've got more chance of fucking something up. So I'd say me and Matt. Who has been the drunkest onstage? Definitely not Andy because he's gotta drive home. Matt hasn't been drunk for a while because he's on his P plates and he's gotta drive me and my gear home. So probably me or Darren. Darren is a big guy though, he can take it better than I can. At Club 77 a couple of weeks ago I was just there mashing away at the strings… I don't know, it sounded pretty terrible to me. I was so drunk because we'd gotten there at 5 in the afternoon and we didn't go on until 1 o'clock and that's Andy's fault because he makes us get everywhere so early. Who does the most driving on tour? Andy and Darren. Andy will do it all if he can, but sometimes he gets tired and Darren will have to take over. I don't drive because I have a car, I've been driving around, I'm almost on my blacks, but once I offered to have a go on tour and they told me, “Oh no, you can't drive.” So then there have been other times since when they've needed me to drive and I just won't because for some reason Darren thinks that I can't drive. He's forgotten the fact that I have my own car and I can actually drive. I'm a 29-year old guy but Darren thinks I'm 17 or something. Who does the most sleeping in the van? That'd be me. I try and sleep as much as I can to forget about being on the road. Who controls the music in the van? Matt is the only one with an iPod so we just stick that in the stereo, put it on random and then I put earplugs in and try and go to sleep. I get sick of music really quickly. If it's on for two hours straight I can't hack it. They've given me my time to put on what music I wanted and I've said, “I just want an hour of silence please.” Who eats the most? Probably Steak & Two Veg, aka Darren. Matt likes a good meal too. Who has the worst taste in fashion? I'd say Steak & Two Veg is pretty conservative, he's like a Surf Dive N' Ski kind of guy. Matt will come out with some pretty wacky shit, like he'll just rock up in normal clothes but with a sailors hat, just for no reason. Then we go, “What's with the sailors hat?” and he'll go, “I kinda like it” and we don't want to upset him too much before the gig and tell him not to wear it so he'll wear it and then his girlfriend or other female friends of ours will go, “Matt, what's with the fuckin' sailors hat?” and he won't wear it again. Andy is pretty standard, he's got a couple of stripy T-shirts and a couple of pairs of jeans and he just sticks to that - there's no risk with Andy. I work in Darlinghurst so I'm up with it. Who is most likely to start a fight with another band? I'd say Darren. Not intentionally, but he'll speak before he thinks. If he doesn't want to go on first, even if we're booked to go on first, he'll ask the tour manager if he could switch the line-up or whatever, just generally make trouble for all of us. There's been a few times where it's been like, “Sorry about Darren.” He got pissed off at the Club 77 show because there was an extra band added to the line-up and it messed up all the playing times. The extra band were unaware that they'd fucked things around and they're nice guys, we know 'em, but he had to go and have a word with 'em. He's gotta learn to adapt. Who is the easiest to get along with? You don't have to talk that much with Andy and I don't like to talk a hell of a lot so me and Andy can just sit there and grunt at each other for a couple of hours. Who is the funniest? Probably Matt, only because he talks more than anyone else in the band so he has a higher chance of being funny. We get pretty delirious in the van, I guess that's where it's at its funniest because it's just the four of us and we're completely comfortable with each other. We have our own language and shit, everything is based around balls.

34

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

ANDY “WC” COWLAND (BASS)

Who is the leader of the band? I think on the surface it's Leo but really it's me. They'd fall apart if I wasn't there. We all have our roles though. Who is the most likely to stand up to you? I'd say the first person to stand up to anyone would be Darren, sometimes just on spec. But I never listen to him. Whatever he says I just let it go over. Who collects the money and pays for rehearsal? I collect the money for gigs but we all pay separately for rehearsal. We pay a quarter each and if somebody can't pay well then someone else will cover it. We're pretty decent like that. Who is late for rehearsal most often? It would be Matt and Leo, because they normally turn up together. Matt is the one with a car so Leo can't go anywhere without him. They normally text and let me know if they're running late, whereas Darren will text me just to see if we're still rehearsing even though he knows we are. Who is usually the most nervous before a show? I'd say Leo. He doesn't show it sometimes but then afterwards he'll tell you, “Man I was shitting myself before going on.” But it's not that often now, only if it's a big gig and he knows people are going to be there that we have to impress or whatever. Who is most likely to fuck up a song onstage? Darren. He's got a way of putting different shit into the songs to try and keep it interesting, which works sometimes, but it's bad when it doesn't work. He knows in his mind what he wants to do so he goes for it and it might not get there. The rhythm section generally though, like if I fuck up, everyone knows about it. Everyone makes the odd bungle with vocals; Leo has forgotten the words a few times.

'I THINK DARREN IS A DIFFERENT CHARACTER TO EVERYONE. THE OTHER THREE OF US HAVE A BACKGROUND IN CERTAIN THINGS AND AN AWARENESS BUT HE DOESN'T QUITE HAVE IT..' - ANDY Who has been the drunkest onstage? I'd say Matt. There's been times where him and Leo have done stupid things onstage to each other but usually Matt starts it because he's pissed. Who does the most driving on tour? I like doing it because at least I know we're going there, we're getting there. It's also due to restrictions on people's licences and stuff as well, but pretty much Darren and I are the only ones licenced to drive a hire vehicle and licenced to drive at 110kms an hour. The other guys have got a couple of years to go. Who does the most sleeping in the van? Probably a toss up between Leo and Matt. Leo sleeps a bit more and Matt goes off and plays his games and watches movies. Leo watches movies too. It's


like husband and wife in the front, being me and Darren, and the kids in the back with their DVDs keeping them amused. It's good though, we hook up the sound through the speakers and even though we can't see it we can hear what's going on, so if it's one of those movies that is more about the dialogue then you can get the humour too. It was freaky driving along while they were watching Wrong Turn. It's this movie where these people are going on some weekend away and they take a wrong turn and these three carnies basically kill them, steal all their shit and chop up the bodies and put them in freezers and stuff. Who controls the music in the van? Darren can be a Nazi, especially when he's playing his own stuff. He'll play you stuff he's been working on and then fuck around with the tone knobs while it's playing. Whereas I'll stick a CD in until someone says turn it down, which is usually him. Normally it's driver's choice with controlling the music in the van. I try and keep it varied, chop it up so no one has to listen to the one style all the time. Who eats the most? I'd say Darren does, but not by a lot. He has to though, he's a big boy and he's also doing the most physical part of the playing. Actually, last time we went away he had the idea that he was going to do a SuperSize Me Tour, like he was only going to eat McDonalds the whole time he was away, but I think it only lasted a day and he goes, “I'm fucking sick of it.” I like Brett O'Riley from Blacklevel Embassy's idea of putting a book together where he can point out the best places for bands traveling interstate. He thinks the only decent thing about Sydney is Saray's [in Newtown]. Who has the worst taste in fashion? Darren. I think he's a different character to everyone. The other three of us have a background in certain things and an awareness, but he doesn't quite have it. That's fine, I can't stop him and tell him what to wear and what not to wear. Who is most likely to start a fight with another band? That's Darren. He pretty much just speaks his mind, and he always means well, but also he should think about things a little bit sometimes. The rest of us might give a situation a bit of extra thought and try to deal with it in a more diplomatic way. Who is the easiest to get along with? Me. I guess I have always had to deal with people. Managing the band there's still people I don't want to have to deal with but I just try to forget all that and deal with the stuff I have to. If things are not right I'll say so, but I think shouting at people is never a way to solve a problem. If someone wants to get the shits with me for whatever reason I'd just prefer to pick apart their reason. Who is the funniest? That would be Matt. I'm looking at it in terms of someone being consistently funny and being consciously aware that they're being funny. As opposed to not being aware that what they're doing and saying is providing amusement for everyone else at the expense of themselves.

MATT “CIBOT” COYTE

(GUITAR/VOCALS)

Who is the leader of the band? At any given point it's Leo, me or Andy. If there is something that needs doing tourwise or with organising it's Andy. Leo fucking dictates all the time. And if anyone needs to have a talk or a meeting, it's me. Darren just does what he's told. Who is the most likely to stand up to you guys, I suppose Darren is the only one left? Darren is troublesome, for sure. He'll stand up and whinge about something. He'll be the one coming out of leftfield. He's chronic. He'll just come out with the most random shit for the sake of talking sometimes.

Who collects the money and pays for rehearsal? Andy does all that shit. We don't do any of it. I used to, but not anymore because Andy loves fine detail. He doesn't like anything to be random. He'll do all that kind of organisational shit. He hates being late, he hates being unorganised… Who is late for rehearsal most often? Me or Leo. Actually, me and Leo usually because I pick him up. Sometimes though Dang can be up to an hour late, maybe because he has forgotten. Who is usually the most nervous before a show? Leo or Andy, Leo mostly though. Leo does the toilet run and goes for a shit before a show. Andy organises things to deal with it, like curling up his leads and getting everything ready for the gig. Who is most likely to fuck up a song onstage? Me and Darren; always. Leo and Andy do a little bit, but Darren and I have done some show-stopping things. Darren drops a lot of sticks, like six or seven sticks a show. Who has been the drunkest onstage? Me. When we were in England, me and Darren got really fucking trashed and we did some drugs and we were fucked. I remember pushing my guitar against the roof of the venue, mashing it along and thinking, “I reckon I can push this through the concrete.” And then I thought, “Fuck, I'm hammered!” Darren can get fucked up. If he gets stoned the songs can be really slow.

'LEO HAS THIS HALF SLEEP, LIKE HE LIES THERE WITH HIS EYES SHUT AND RECKONS HE GETS CARSICK. THEN WE GET SOMEWHERE AND HE RECKONS HE HASN'T SLEPT BUT HE'S HAD HIS EYES SHUT FOR TWELVE HOURS.' - MATT Who does the most driving on tour? Andy. He'll drive more than humanly possible. He has to be really fucking tired before he'll hand it over to someone else. Who does the most sleeping in the van? Leo. He has this half sleep, like he lies there with his eyes shut and reckons he gets carsick. Then we get somewhere and he reckons he hasn't slept but he's had his eyes shut for twelve hours. Who controls the music in the van? Darren or Andy. I put my iPod in the front of the van and those two manage to find shit in there that I hate and didn't even know was even in there. Then Darren will play tapes of his bands or old bands he was in and the whole time he's like, “Listen to this bit, listen to this bit.” Andy will play these doom CDs that he makes, doom compilations discs with Entombed and Neurosis on there, and that's all right, but he uses them at two o'clock in the morning to keep himself awake. Who eats the most? Leo or me. Darren doesn't eat that much, he just stacks it on. Who has the worst taste in fashion? Darren. He's got no fuckin' idea. He gets Leo to go shopping with him or his girlfriend; there's always this huge rigmarole whenever he goes to buy something. He's getting a lot better. Who is most likely to start a fight with another band? Darren. Easy. He's pretty bad, he just doesn't know when to shut up. We'll be away and he'll just decide that we should be headlining so he'll go up to the dude and go, “Can we headline?” Who is the easiest to get along with? Andy. He's a bit of a champ. Who is the funniest? Probably Dang, but it's not for the same reasons he thinks it is. He thinks he's a real pisser, but that's kinda why he's funny, 'cos he thinks he is. He tells these stories and it's just the way he tells them. They're not really funny at all, but the way he says it is just hilarious.

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

35


S I E R O C NO

E R O C D O O G

M

y Precious play “no core”. They inven ted that genre for themselves because other tags like thrashcore, hardc ore, screamocore, metalcore, grindcore and spazcore didn't quite fit. That automatically makes them the greatest fucking no core band in the world. Schooled in the likes of Fingerprint, Unwo und and Refused, theirs is an intense and emotive brand of experimental hardc ore played out of compulsion and with complete conviction. In the cloned-fill ed sludge-pit that poses as today's HC scene, My Precious offer something uniqu e and honest. They hail from Singapore, where no famo us bands come from, and are fronted by a dual female vocal attack capable of curdling your blood. But those two factors shouldn't be mistaken as gimm icks. If anything they are just several more reasons why My Precious stand out from the wishy-washy clonecore wannabes flooding America, Australia and most other parts of the globe. A quick history: They formed in 2001 after guitarist Dyn and drummer Ronn y, both formerly of Singapore thrash band Kindred, decided to reunite to play “Kindred-type music”. After recruiting bassist Dinslife they completed the line-u p with their not-so-secret weapons, screa ming dual vocalists Rina (ex-Obstacle

36

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

Upsurge) and Kyn (ex-Janicide). After a handful of shows Dinslife quit and Zool (ex-Standardised) stepped in to play bass, and it was this line-up that recor ded My Precious' 2003 debut self-titled album . In late 2004 a split CD was issued with Tokyo band Gauge Means Nothing to coincide with My Precious' first visit to Japan, while 2005 saw them split another release, this time with Queensland DIY warrior Steve Towson, a guy who has done much to enhance their profile in this country. A six-tracker entitled The Veno m In My Veins, the split was issued by Tows on through his CrimInAll Records label . The three My Precious' tracks represent the last recordings made with original drummer Ronny, who had been repla ced by new guy Hairil by the time the MP hit Australia for a tour in September. Their whirlwind Aussie jaunt took them from Toowoomba to Brisbane to Sydn ey to Melbourne in four days, playing a show every day and driving all the way. Seein g them at Bar Broadway in Sydney was like being in some sort of weird dream . I'd never laid eyes on a band from Singa pore in my life, let alone one that blow s minds on borrowed equipment. With such a grueling schedule, an interview was out of the question, so a few months after the Austr alian trip I got Kyn on the phone...

Pic: Dewi Marie

by Danger Coolidge. My Precious. Kyn interview


I wanted to start off by asking abou t Kindred, what was that band all about and how does it relate to My Precious? Ronny and Dyn were from Kindred and the rest of us were just followers of the band. We were all friends. Let's see, I think the line-up was Dyn on guitar, Ronn y on drums, Yamani on bass, Nizam on guita r, and on vocals was Adiek, his nickname is Adiek but his real name is Zahir - he is actually the one who desig ned the tour shirts for our tour with Steve Towson. I can't really put a finger on what kind of music Kindred played, it was kinda like My Precious in that they were sort of experimental and they had different types of influences, but it's safe just to say they were a hardcore band. They had been around since the mid-nineties and then they disbanded maybe a year or two years before My Precious got together. Where can I hear recordings of Kind red? The only thing they ever released was a split CD with a Malaysian band called Tabaraka (Straits Records/Strange Cultu re Records). After that, Kindred recorded and hoped to release an album but it didn't come true. They had problems with the lineup - people were leaving. But they still have recordings they have not released and record labels have offered to release the stuff but they had to wrap up some parts of the recording, like some people had to come back in and record extra parts, but, despite trying really hard, the vocalist could n't get the others to do it and it just died out. It's kinda sad.

in the final mix are things that came out in the process… accidents. For example, “I Love Daddy (for Baghdad)” and “Bliss” from the Gauge Means Nothing release, we never knew we were going to have singing parts for them, but because of Dyn's guitar, actually the riff and the drumbeat together, it just felt right, and we always go with our feeling. There have been a couple of line-up changes, what does it take to beco me a member of My Precious? You just gotta be nice. As a band and as friends we are pretty laidback people and we don't like too much fuss. I was talking to our new drummer Hairil when we were in Australia and I was telling him how it felt great to have him in the band , even though it's different - we have to get used to his style, he has to get used to us. And we both agreed that what made it all so much more pleasant was the fact that it felt so right and we felt like a family; we were beyond friends and we were beyond bandmates. Inside and outside the studi o we have a certain chemistry and a bond that we can't really put our finger on. We feel so comfortable with one another. I sensed that from being around you guys when you were in Sydney. Also , I was talking with Dyn about how I thought Hairil was not as good a drummer as Ronny and he told me that Ronny had expressed interest in rejoining the band but there was no way you would ever do that to Hairil. I agree with Dyn.

“Prior to joining the band I had never scream ed anywhere except in amusement parks.” - Kyn But Dyn and Ronny still had some noise they wanted to make together. Dyn and Ronny go way back, even befor e Kindred. They didn't go to the same scho ol but they have been friends ever since secondary school. They grew up listen ing to the same type of music, going to the same type of shows, they have a lot in comm on with music and stuff related to their scene. So I guess because of that connectio n they really enjoyed playing music together and that's what they hoped to do when they formed My Precious. It was more the breakdown of the relationships in Kindr ed was why they couldn't carry on in that band .

So how did you meet those guys and form My Precious? When I was younger I got to know this schoolmate of Dyn's called Mafidz throu gh a course I went through and he introduced me to punk rock. He'd go, “C'mon, you're this kind of girl, you have to listen to this kind of musi c and ride a skateboard…” Yeah, he got me into skateboarding and he would take me to his friends' jammings and I just got sucked up into it. Ironically, Mafidz now has nothing to do with the music scene. He threw me into the pit and he left. He was so excited by everything, he got me really excited, but in the end I had to skate around with people I hardly knew because he wasn't around. But the band was started by Ronny and Dyn and our original bassist, Dinslife, and up until now the actual details have been really sketchy, I'm not sure who was the one who came up with this brilliant idea. But anyway, I think it was Dinslife who suggested they should try Rina on vocals because she used to be the vocal ist for Obstacle Upsurge, this local all-girl old school hardcore band . Then after they decided to call Rina, Dyn thought that having two vocalists would be something different and he just called me. How did he know you could scream? The thing is nobody knew. Prior to joinin g the band I had never screamed anywhere except in amus ement parks. I had a band and we mainly just played punk rock and I was just singing or ranting but never screaming screaming. But Dyn was like, “You just have to go, I know you can do it.” So we had a practice and I had a really sore throat after that. I think you can hear the difference between our first album and the later recordings, there has been a change in our vocals, I feel like me and Rina have really grown into something else. For her, she used to sing old school hardcore, so she was used to growling or doing low kind of vocals, so when we were in My Preci ous she had to adjust to me because I scream higher and we had to work our way. Being in a band with two screaming vocalists is not as easy as people think , like you just scream and la la la. If you only have one vocalist they have contr ol of everything but because there are two of us we have to compromise and work together. It's kinda fun actually. One thing I noticed was that you sang a bit instead of screaming on the split with Gauge Means Nothing, but the latest stuff on the Steve Towson split is back to full screaming hard er than ever. When we write songs we do not have preconceived ideas, we really just like to work it out in the studio and see what comes out. A lot of the things you hear

Pic: Nic Bezzina

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

37


Most bands would've just been ruthl ess about it and taken Ronny back , because honestly, Ronny was like the star of the band for me sometim es. I guess a lot of people have said that too, but then you don't know how it feels to be in a band with Ronny. In some ways I do miss his drumming style because he is more versatile and also he just gets what it is Dyn is trying to do on the guitar and he just falls in nice and perfe ctly. But Hairil joining the band at this time has made us reflect back on our sound and to realise that this change that has come about is not necessarily bad. In fact, having Ronny there we almost had gotten too comfortable in ourselves. We would always know Ronny would be able to pull something off; he would be the one who would wrap up everything. We got too comfortable with that, so with Hairil coming in it has changed the band and hopefully it will change the soun d in a positive way. I can tell that the new stuff you will come up with will sound different. Ronny can almost be overbearingly good sometimes. He is like that. Public relations-wise, when Ronny was in the band, it's like you said, he was the star of the band , and it just got a little too much some times. People would think My Precious = Ronn y, and they'd forget about the other people in the band. That's fine, but I think everyone in the band is deserving and everyone has a role to play. But I can't blame Ronn y for that; I can't blame him for being good and having people worship him. But it became a factor in why it was good for him to leave the band . It went too much to his head. With Hairil in the band , it's a lot nicer, there's less tension, less grief.

not a big Lord Of The Rings fan or anyth ing. Actually the name came not from Lord Of The Rings but from The Hobb it, I still haven't read Lord Of The Ring s. So I was reading the book and I got right into Gollum's character; I just thought he was really cute and how he's walk ing around going, “My precious, my precious, my precious.” So this was aroun d the time we were looking for a band name and nobody offered anything else - actually, this is kind of a boring story but we were just thinking we needed a name and I was like, “Oh, oh, oh, pleas e, please, please, My Precious, please!” And everyone was just like, “Sounds cool.” No objections, no other suggestions, just, “Okay.” How long had you been together befo re you recorded the debut? Maybe about a year. We did three show s with the first bassist and then when Zool joined the band we played quite a few shows over the year and then we released our album. Where was the album recorded? TNT Studios. It's actually a practice studi o space owned by our producer, Ah boy, I can't remember his real name. He is a veteran in the underground musi c scene. If I'm not wrong, he was the guy to organise the first hardcore gig in Singapore. So he set up this music studio and he allowed all types of music to practice there. There are other studios that have big signs saying, “No Hardcore, No Metal, No Screamo.” But Ah boy is really supportive of the local music scene and he has been really supportive of our band. This spac e that he has, he rents out for practice sessions and he also offers his services to record band's music.

“Playing in Malaysia helped us financially because they pay their international acts well. In Singapore they hardly pay any bands at all, you tend to play for free.” - Kyn

With choosing the name My Precious , who was the Lord of the Rings fan? That was me, My Precious: (LtoR) Kyn, Zool, Hairil, Rina, Dyn although I'm

Pic: Dewi Marie

Where did you get the money to reco rd the album? When we first started out I was working, as far as I remember I was the only one working full-time. Ronn y was, but he never had money. So I was funding the recording initially and then later on Dyn helped me out. We split the recor ding into two sessions and so the first one I paid most of it and the second one I paid with Dyn, and then we had to go into mixing and that would cost us a bit more so we printed T-shirts and by that time we had mixed the first batch of songs so we sold those on a three-song demo at shows. We also had a very raw live video recording of one of our shows, which we also sold for fun. Then we had our first show in JB [Joho r Bahru], Malaysia and from there word spread and we had people calling us to play KL [Kuala Lump ur] and playing in Malaysia helped us financially because they pay their international acts well. In Singapore they hardly pay any bands at all, you tend to play for free. It's rare that you get any money at all. When we started playing Malaysia that boosted our band fund. How do you feel about the album now, because it seems like your sound is developin g all the time? I think I sounded like a screaming chick en then. I had a chat with Ah boy and he told me that having been the

MY PRECIOUS DISCOGRAPHY My Precious

My Precious (Jahil/Karatekore)

Bleak, fast and uncompromising, what this debut lacks in dynamism it makes up for in gutwrenching emotion and utter intensity. This is the raw early My Precious sound captured in all its spine-chilling glory on a full-length effort released cooperative ly by Singapore's now defunct Jahil Records and Malaysia's Karatekore Records. Packaged in a modest cardboard sleeve , it comes with a fourpage booklet carrying lyrics and credit info. 13-tracks in all, including phenomenal live set staple s, “Dark Light” and “For Virgins Sake”. Now almost completely sold out, there is presently a re-issued jewel case versio n in the works from Steve Towson’s CrimInAll Records.

38

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

My Precious/Gauge Means Nothing

Missing Tom Split EP (EndlessNameless)

A split issued to coincide with My Precious' December 2004 Japanese tour with Gauge Means Nothing, this sixtracker comes with a fourpage booklet housed rather cheaply inside a soft-lined plastic CD sleeve sans jewel case and inlay card. Included is a folded-up A4 lyric sheet with both bands' words transl ated into Japanese and English. My Precious kick off the disc with three tracks that explore a poppier side to their sound , with sung vocals breaking up the barrage of chaotic screams. Tokyo 's Gauge Mean Nothing have a sound that is quite off-putting at first, especially the singer, but after repeated listenings they do have a certain unique charm. They'll never be My Precious though.

Steve Towson & The Conscripts/My Precious

Venom In My Veins Split EP (CrimInAll/MGM) Queensland troubadour Steve Towson met My Precious on one of his trips through Asia, and if he hadn't, you probably wouldn't be reading about them right now since he was the one who told me about them. Towson gets this split underway, doing his raw Aussie Billy Bragg thing with added bass, drums and cello provided by his latest and greatest backing band The Conscripts for his most accessible work yet. The My Precious tracks, while not their most accessible, are definitely their most adventurous and exciting. 27-second belter “Stars” is like an all-action fast-burning firework packed with colour and light, while “Middle Finger Jeopa rdy”, out of anything they've released, best displays their stupefying dexterity and precision.


Pic: Dewi Marie sound engineer on all our recordings he can hear the difference, even dynamically. On the first album we all sounded individual, and it was obvious that we sounded separate, but from the Gaug e… recordings onwards, and especially the latest one, the one we released with Steve Towson, he said we sounded one whole as a band. And I agree with him. How did the Gauge Means Nothing split CD come about and how did you establish your Japanese connectio n with Yuichi Kasanuma who does endless/nameless Records? I think it was in 2003 I received an emai l from Yuichi saying he had heard abou t our band and that his band Gauge Mean s Nothing was touring in Malaysia and he wanted so much for us to go to Malaysia to perform with them. But it was a busy time for us and we couldn't get time to be part of the trip in Malaysia so I said, “Why don't we just put on a show for you in Singapore?” because there were three Japanese bands touring together, so we just put on a show for them in Singapore. Steve Towson was part of that show as well because he was in the area. So it was this international show. And because we put them up for accommodation and everything and they were really happy, when they left I was joking to Yuichi, “Hey why not someday we come over and play in Japan?” And he was actually serious about saying yes. From the moment he got back to Japan he followed up plann ing our Japanese tour. That was really nice because it's rare that you meet people like Yuichi and Steve Towson who actually mean what they say. Sometimes you get people saying, “We'll do this and we'll do that,” and often things just don't fall into place. We have been really lucky as a band to meet all these wonderful peop le.

training schedule would depend on what post they are given. If they are lucky they get a 9 to 5 post where they can come home everyday, so that's not so bad. But if not, they stay in camp and get to go out on weekends. Zool had a stayin post, and also he was a training spec ialist who had to train up new recruits, so sometimes he would be away for two weeks on an outfield camp or something . I heard many Singapore bands are broken up by military service. Yeah, there has been. Especially an all-gu y band who started out when the members were all really young, one by one they go to national service and priori ties change and the band suffers. But gene rally national service is not all that bad because I have seen a lot of boys really grow up because of national service. Like everything, it has its pros and cons. One of the worst things is that it disrupts their studies. Imagine you get your diploma then go into national service for two and a half years then when you come out, let's say you're in IT, the whole thing would have changed and your diploma is not so much relevant as it was two years ago. What kind of venues do you play in Singapore? Mainly studio shows, which is when you play in a practice room, so it's really small and cramped and hot. The bars are really worried about having bands beca use of damage - track record and all that but even when they do allow it they tend to take a lot of money from you. Last time we would be able to perform at space s such as little community centres, schools, polyt echnics and stuff, but then sometimes you have a band on the bill, like a ska band or a punk band or something, and unfortunately they bring the wrong kind of crowd. I don't want to say the wron g type of crowd, because who determines a good or a bad crowd, right? But when they're young kids they tend to be sometimes a bit too irresponsible and they want to show people how punk they are and they start trashing public property and stuff and then you get banned from holding shows at those places ever again. It's no wonder touring Malaysia is such an attractive option. Well, even though we've played in Mala ysia we've really only played in Joho r and KL, but we have been discussing about going further up north into other states. We would like to see more of Malaysia instead of just playing in the same places. We want to reach out to other audiences. But it's hard to find the time, right ? Isn't that why your Australian tour was so fast and grueling? Yes. We could only come for five work ing days plus the weekend. Rina and Zool, who just started work, could not get any more leave than that. Most of the time Dyn and I are tearing our hair out trying to organise the band.

How did you meet Steve Towson? I first met Steve in 2003, when he first came to Singapore I think. He was performing at a studio show and my friend had helped him organise his tour and he just told me, “Come check this guy What new material are you working out, he's Australian, one-man show, blah, on? blah, blah.” So I thought, why not, and We had planned for something to happ we went and saw him and we were blow en with recording in December but n away. We were like, “Wow, we've neve Hairil's other band were recording in Dece r seen anything like that before!” He mber so we're just trying to write a few was so full of energy and that's what musi more new songs. We have not been c is about. So we met him that day and then when the Japanese bands were pract icing much ever since we came coming through my friend asked was it okay if Steve was added to the bill and back [from Australia] because the from there we stayed in touch with each other and he went back to Australia with moment we came back I had a few of our demo CDs. assessments to prepare for So how did you like Australia? and now Dyn has We all didn't want to come back to Singa assessments and Rina has pore; we didn't want to leave. Everything about that Australian tour was great. It's some conventions she has always nice to meet new people. And we were really touched that some bands came to plan so we have been together to play a benefit show to get us out there. It was really mindblowing, we really busy running our didn't expect it to be as big as it was. The day that Hairil and I first landed in Brisb lives. But we are working ane we were straight away whisked to a radio station, 4ZZZ - like three hours after we towards another album. And had landed and we were already in a radio station doing a live interview. Then we also we might be re-releasing were walking down the street and we saw ourselves in magazines, we had our pictu an Australian version of the re in street magazines stuff and it was just too much because we do not get this kind first album because of attention at all in Singapore. we have run out of Is it tough being a musician and livin copies. So we g in Singapore? Definitely. None of us can imagine living might be back the life Steve is living. He is just doing his music and revolving his life around for the music all day all the time. We can't afford to do that at all. If we could, we would proba release bly be playing some Chinese pop rock or something. In Singapore we have some of that thing we call a “paper chase”, we work really hard to get good qualifications to next get a good-paying job so as to sustain our living, because the cost of living in Singa year. pore is very high. We were talking to some of the guys from The Wastas in Australia and they were saying how their waite ring jobs pay 15 bucks an hour or something . For the same job in Singapore you woul d only be paid, if you're lucky, $7 an hour. There is a big difference there, so that is why we try to go to school and get a diplo ma in order to get good jobs. And with that it's very hard to put our full comm itment into the band sometimes. On top of that, all the guys have to go through natio nal service.

Pic: Nic Bezzina

My Precious is probably lucky to have two girls in the band just because of the military service thing. We are also lucky because by the time we formed the band both Ronny and Dyn had long gone for national service. When Zool joined was when he first went into NS, so we had to readjust our sche dule to help suit his army life. How long are the boys gone for? I'm not really good at this but they have to go through basically military training for I think three months, and then after that they are posted somewhere according to whether they are specialists or whether they are going to carry on and become an officer; how long they spend inside the camp and the

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

39


n a m e x AThe

“I can't talk about twice the bastard. readers' imaginations kicked in.”

Rev. Kriss Hades. Interview by Ivan The Terrible Bonghead.

40

UNBELIEVABLY BAD


Dave Slave, he's put me in hospital We'll have to leave it up to the because I don't want to get my head - Rev. Kriss

Cometh

t

he self-proclaimed “#1 Extreme Metal Avant-Garde Electric Guitarist Of The World”, Rev. Kriss Hades has been one of Australia's finest exponents of extreme metal for more than ten years. Slinging axe for insanely brutal and pioneering Sydney death act Sadistik Exekution, Hades forged a reputation for face melting fingerwork, hacked-up fretboards and taking the stage wea fifty safety pins through his skin. ring A notoriously deranged and highly volatile group, Sad Ex remains something of an enigma, infamous much for their antics both on and as offstage as their excruciatingly loud certifiably insane blasts of extreme and metal terror. Rev. Kriss has featured all of the band's albums since 1994 on classic We Are Death… Fukk You, 's the latest being FUKK II in 2004. In addition to Sadistik Exekution who have not played live since 2002 Hades has also spent time in seve ral other groups, most notably supreme black metal outfit Nazxul, as well releasing his own solo album of haunting fukked-up ambient meta guitar called The Winds Of Orion. l A unique artist with a tweaked visio he has begun blending his frightenin n, guitar-playing skills with his talent g visual art and animation at his live for gigs, which are best described as solo guit multimedia performance-art instillatioar But I'll let his holiness the Reverendns. explain all that… You started off with Sadistik Exekution and you're still in it, how would you sum up being in that band for fifteen years? Difficult. I was living in Melbourne doing solo stuff before I met them and I answered an ad in a store in called Pipe Import - now it's called Extreme Aggression, or Modern Invasion. Pipe had a real eclectic selection of records, from Eno to Skrewdriver, and I'd look for all the strange music I was into. That's where I discovered death metal. So I saw the ad for an audition for Sadistik. I was warned

by the people in the shop not to go near the band because they ate their own vomit and drank their own urine but I went to the audition anyway. Really it had nothing to do with music, it was more like… I don't even know what it was about.

Dave Slave (bass) and Rok (vocals) had gone to Melbourne specifically to find members, right? Yeah, they left Sydney, because there was a scene in Sydney with Slaughterlord and Mortal Sin and a few other bands, but they wanted a bit more fame and glory so they took off on a tour of Australia to find a guitar player, or anyone really. No one would join them because they were just too mental, just too freaky. I didn't mind that idea so I went along to the audition and I basically didn't run away like all the other people who tried out. In the end it was a toss up between me and another fella who was six-foot tall so they thought they'd get me because I'd be easier to push around. So they got me to make coffee for them and I put poison in it and they never got me to make coffee again after that. I tried to kill them; they thought that was cool. They gave me the name Reverend Kriss Hades, which I fuckin' hated, I thought it was the dumbest thing I ever heard but I suppose it was appropriate at the time. I was ranting and raving Revelations a lot, reading them out in the streets, the seven-headed demon and all that, very Monty Python. I was still at high school. I remember you guys always had a fierce competitive streak amongst you. Yeah that was quite exciting, all that competing. It'd usually end up in a fight somewhere along the line, usually onstage. It was always about who was the fastest and to me it was obvious that I was the fastest, but it would make Dave and Sloth (drums) get all upset. It was all about notes-per-second. Yep, notes-per-second, we'd have stopwatches to see who was the fastest. I think I was one note faster than Dave and he couldn't accept it, he couldn't handle it. What is the most insane thing you've ever seen Dave Slave do? I probably couldn't say that in print 'cos he'll want to smash me. I can't talk about Dave Slave, he's put me in hospital twice the bastard. Once at the St. James Tavern he broke my leg in a fight, and the other time was when I broke my hand on his head in Europe. We'll have to leave it up to the readers' imaginations because I don't want to get my head kicked in. He gets really violent Dave. Do you remember his “Dave Saviour” period? Totally, Dave Saviour was gonna save the world. He's the new saviour okay? He wore all white and he

had his hair slicked back and big gold-rimmed Elvis glasses and a big cigar and these white pointy shoes with little gold pentagrams painted on them with a gold plastic angel around his neck and a laughing clown hidden in his sock and he'd kick the nose button and it'd laugh like, “He he he ha ha ha.” If anyone touched the angel he'd kick the clown and it'd spook people out. That went for a while the Dave Saviour thing. Then after Dave Saviour it was normal, that's right, I'm normal now.

What is the most insane thing you've ever seen Rok do? Rock fishing I suppose. He takes that more seriously than his music, I suppose that's why he's doing that now. He's sort of an evil Rex Hunt. It's a real Aussie thing to go fishing so he goes on fishing tours around Australia and writes about it. Actually, I remember when The Magus came out Danny Caleda, the guy from Vampire Records who put it out, came over to our house with a whole stack of vinyl for us to sign. He'd pre-sold about fifty signed vinyl copies and Rok immediately smashed them all into tiny little pieces. So Danny came back to get his autographed copies and Rok's going, “Yep, they're ready, here they are,” and it was just a big fucking pile of rubbish. But Danny sent them out like that, smashed to pieces! What is the most insane thing you've ever seen Sloth do? He got arrested for being a terrorist once. I think he was just having an argument with his girlfriend. Sloth was really full on, especially in the early days, they took everything really serious. He became some sort of witch with a little crystal ball in his room, then he was Born Again, then he was Born Again Again, then he became a gambler. He'd leave the band every gig. He's the most leaving band member in history I think. What's Sad Ex's status now; will the band ever play live again? Well we'd organised to play live just last year. Dave Slave said, “Let's do another show.” Then he gave me all these rules, like everybody has to obey his rules or else it's not gonna happen. He wanted $20,000 to do it so we actually found someone who was willing to pay $20,000 and they wrote it all up, it was quite a serious thing, and then Dave rings me up going, “What's all these goings on about some gig, who are these people?” like he's completely forgotten about what he said before. It's basically his band at the moment and I don't think anyone else cares anymore. We'll do it or we won't do it. But if we did come back now it would have to be extremely exaggerated. It would have to be extreme, as in we would have to up the ante. We'd have to get some weaponry. [cont’d page 44]

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

41


“I never really got involved in the art community. That would be just as bad as the music industry.” Rev. Kriss Sadistik or whatever so you have to go out and start all over.

Will there be any more albums? I wrote a follow-up to our last album FUKK II called Total Fukken Cunt. I doubt that will turn into an album unless I see the band members again. But I'm really happy with the way FUKK II turned out. If that's going to be the last Sadistik record then I don't mind. Not that anyone knows about it. If someone offered us even just a normal amount of money we'd probably do another album. It depends on Dave. If we can convince him he's gonna get laid then he'll probably do it. A lot of the gigs we did were for some girl he was trying to impress. The thing is when they saw the band they were horrified. Another reason I wouldn't totally write us off is that now I've been getting into filmmaking and animation and eventually I want to make computer games so it would be good to have a Sadistik Exekution shoot-'em-up y'know. Hack and slash. You joined Nazxul around '98 or something, right? I don't know, I can't remember. But Steve Hughes (ex-Slaughterlord, Mortal Sin), the drummer, asked me what I was doing at the time, which was nothing so I joined Nazxul. Nothing was happening with Sadistik as usual and I wanted to go and play gigs and I loved touring Europe and I wanted to go again. But it was just the same old shit being in a band; you get close to the goal and everything falls apart. It was good for a while, we made the (Black Seed) EP, but it was crap management, we had to sack the management, then the management came back - it was all just bullshit, nothing to do with metal at all just rubbish. Just politics, and that really fucks everything. What was the problem getting Morte (Beastianity) in on vocals? They wanted him in the band after the original singer Dalibor (Backovic) left, and I warned 'em not to get him because he's a bit mad and he was a full alcoholic. He was more of an industrial or punk rock kind of singer but he was into the Church of Satan so they sorta thought that was a good idea. And it worked for a while, he didn't fit the ideal of a black metal singer but I thought that was good, it set us apart. But then there was personality clashes and they got him drunk and he didn't stop drinkin' and someone played him a GG Allin video and so he had to be GG Allin after that and it doesn't function that well when you've got someone who thinks they're GG Allin in the band. But being on the other side of the world it's difficult to get the ship moving - it's sinking before it's left the harbour. I just had to leave Nazxul. That kind of music is a bit taxing on your sanity after a while. People's personalities start to fray. I just left but didn't tell anyone I left. So you went back to doing solo stuff? I just went back to doing what I was always doing. I just tried to get things happening as far as getting taken seriously in a solo career, but that was like starting from scratch again. People just want

44

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

So was Winds Of Orion in 2002 your first solo release? No, there was Meditations of the Midnight Candle Practice, that came out some time in the early nineties and there are other tapes that I've put out. So I thought I'd put some of that onto CD so Winds Of Orion is half of …Midnight Candle Practice and half new stuff. Winds Of Orion is not a concept album it's more like a demo and that's what my new three-track CD [Paganini - Bloodlust Static Age] is, a demonstration of three different live recordings. “Paganini” was recorded at an art exhibition straight into ProTools with no effects other than what I used on the night. “Bloodlust” is from the Bloodlust gig at Blacktown RSL and “Static Age” is from a noise gig I did in Melbourne called Static Age. I've written about five albums that are just waiting for me to get enough money to put them out. I've got this ultimate trilogy album prepared. The first album is Damascus Orthodox which is about magick. And then there's Astral Orthodox of Ouija which is more along the lines of EVP and ouija board and contacting the dead. And the last one is called Orthodox Infinitis; Pyramids of Mars and that's about mathematics. Those are the concepts: black magick, ouija boards and mathematics. You've managed to combine your artwork and guitar playing in your solo multimedia instillations, tell us about that. The ideas I have about music and images cross over so I thought I'd combine them. I did as much as I could with just pictures on a piece of paper and with music, so I'm trying to join them together in this animation film I'm making at the moment. I like the idea of bands making films, like in the old days The Who and Pink Floyd made films. At the moment what I do is make the film and the music, then I'll take the guitar element out of the backing music and then play along live so that the changes line up with the changes on the screen.

Steve Hughes at a Nazxul rehearsal once. Steve has a crazy temper and he'd blow up at rehearsal and smash his drum kit. He's the most violent drummer; if something is wrong with his drumkit he'll just start smashing it to pieces. He's quite a big guy. So one day I decided, “Fuck this, I'll join in too, you want to see someone smash something?” So I smashed all my stuff too. The other band members were a bit shocked by that. I remember you had an art exhibition years ago off Glebe Point Road somewhere… Yeah that was in '95. What else have you done in the art world? I never really got involved in the art community. That would be just as bad as the music industry. And it is, it's a bit of a closed shop. So I just do it myself. Trying to survive while you're doing it is a very difficult thing. I don't want to be one of them artists who complains about Australia so I don't know what to say. It isn't really shit, it's just that the opportunities are very small. But I don't think about that. I just go off into my own world.

How has your art progressed? I've got a whole lot of different styles I've explored, they're like little theories, like Picasso's got his Blue Period or some fuckin' thing like that. So I've done different styles and I do a whole stack like that for one year and then the next year I'll do a whole stack of a different sort of thing. I was even burning my pictures at one stage. I spent about a year drawing all these detailed pictures 1994: Sadistik Exekution - We Are and then I burned them. I'd have a Death... Fukk You witness every now and then or I'd 1997: Sadistik Exekution - K.A.O.S just burn them without showing 1998: Nazxul - Black Seed EP anyone - getting power over the 2002: RKH - The Winds Of Orion image. Then I started doing the 2002: Sadistik Exekution - FUKK Auto Fellatio Series. I did what 2002: Nazxul - Live Picture Disc everyone does when they get a [Recorded in 1999] digital camera and took nude 2002: Dangerous Curves photos of myself. I took that to the High Heel Hooves extreme. Auto Fellatio is where you 2004: Sadistik Exekution - FUKK II try to suck your own dick. 2005: RKH - Paganini -

REVEREND KRISS HADES DISKKOGRAPHY

Bloodust - Static Age EP 2006: Bain Wolfkind Confidential Report 7”

How have some of your recent shows gone? Recently people have been putting my name in the papers without really confirming that I'm going to do the show and it just happened again for a show with Dismember. So I'm in a position where it's like, “Do I do the show or do I pull out?” Because people will come to see me and pay money and then I'm not there. This shit happens a lot and it's bullshit. So I went down to the venue early to check out the situation to see what I could do, like “Can I set up these visuals for my multimedia stuff?” - and it could've worked - but they're like, “Nuh, nuh, nuh, can't do this, can't do this, can't do this...” So I basically had to just do a raw, bare guitar solo and I'm wondering how I could make it entertaining. They didn't give me a soundcheck and the engineer was like, “I'll give you a good mix, shut-up and get out there.” But it sounded like shit, I couldn't hear myself and it sucked so I had to make it good so I just dismantled my guitar. It was expensive but the audience seemed to like it. That same guitar has been broken in half before and fixed. I broke it with

Sloth was famous for that. Yeah, and then there was Marilyn Manson who they said had some ribs removed so he could do it and I saw Ron Jeremy doing it so I thought, “Seems like a good idea, I'll spend couple of years doing that.” So I spent a couple of years doing that and got video footage and photographed it. But I'm over that; it's a pretty dumb idea. Are you going to exhibit that? I already did, it got pulled down. It was at a library. I set all the photos up and when they saw them they took them straight down. Then there is the EVP Series I did, Electronic Voice Phenomena. It's where you contact the dead through electronic devices, like tapes. It's sort of like having a séance and it's a technique where you ask a question and it comes back through the white noise on the tape and then you've got to search through the tape for the answers. It scares the crap out of you. Who were you trying to contact? Anyone. No one in particular. But you get answers, sometimes it takes months to find the answers, usually you have to enlarge the sound. People get really obsessed by it. It was a really big thing in the


like they do with modern

Sadistik Exekution: (Clockwise from top left) technology today, bamboozle them Sloth, Dave Slave, Reverend Kriss Hades, Rok with technology. I like to use modern technology for music and art. I'm sure if Beethoven and all those composers had ProTools they'd use it, synthesizers and electronic sampling.

Tell me about your artwork on the cover of Massive Appendage's Severed Erection. That was the first album cover I did for a Sydney band. The first one I ever did was for a band called Needle Park and it was a guy crucified on a syringe with syringes everywhere. I have a phobia with syringes, I draw them but I wouldn't stick them in my arm like everyone else was doing in Melbourne at the time. It must've been fun though otherwise they wouldn't have done it. But with that Massives cover they wanted an orgy of women or something. I knew they were pretty twisted individuals so I just got a whole stack of pornos and copied the girls. That cover was a bit shit and it wasn't done for money or anything. I never got my artwork back or a copy of the record. I heard Big Bird (vocals/guitar) has got a box of 'em under his bed. Well I'd like one. But I haven't seen those guys for years. Last time I saw Jed (Starr - guitar) he was a street person. I used to be a fan of Massive Appendage when I was learning to play. I used to go and watch guitarists and Jed was one of the guitarists I used to go and check out. I saw him years ago and he's in Melbourne and a big rock star in Mantissa, or Killing Time, then the

fifties; they contacted Hitler. It was a big thing in the papers: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Hitler Talks From The Graveâ&#x20AC;? and no one wanted to touch it ever again. It's like one of those underground phenomena but they still conduct it. It's like all that psychic warfare they were getting into in the fifties and sixties, the Russians against the Americans with their remote viewers. It'd be like the enemy having something similar to a meditation and being able to see their opponents' plans. The government has put a lot of effort into these things. So that was another series of art that I got into and made recordings and I did an Australian tour with EVP around the pubs and stuff. Would you say art and guitar are your two main loves in life? Art would be number one, above guitar. There's lots of other things, just living is a good idea, breathingâ&#x20AC;Ś

next time I see him he's on the street trying to get an acoustic guitar out of me so he can do some busking. He had a big beard, he looked like a hillbilly. Who are your major influences? In the early days it would've been the Van Eyck Brothers, these painters who do religious paintings but they look like photographs. With religious paintings you could only paint a certain way. That was like modern technology back then. And it was propaganda for the people in power, because religious people run the country. So when they got enough technology to make a building without walls they made stained-glass windows. So they've got the choir singing away, the stained-glass windows, it all looked very impressive to the dumb farmers in the pews. They tried to scare the crap out of them,

You also did the cover for Massappeal's The Mechanic as well. That cover was based on a picture by Ben Brown. He had done this flyer drawing of a Madonna with arms and they put Luna Park in the background and all this stuff coming out. Massappeal had an argument in front of me about what they actually wanted in the picture. They just wanted everything, more things than you can think of. It was quite silly watching them arguing. But I just don't like doing stuff for bands. I did a few things but bands would steal the artwork and they wouldn't pay me.

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

45


“W

e are a lonely desperate people, pulled apart by the killer forces of capitalism and competition,” MC5 manager John Sinclair had written on the inner-gatefold to the '5's empyreal 1968 live debut, Kick Out The Jams. “And we need the music to hold us together. Separation is doom.” Just a few years later, however, The MC5 were doomed. Killer forces had divided and destroyed the most inspired rock 'n' roll band the world had ever known, and the devastation would resonate for years to come. By the time of the split, Wayne Kramer was already well on his way off the rails. The group's final concert on New Year's Eve 1972 signified the end of what had been a mostly frustrating trip for all concerned. Crippling debt, bad press, drug use, rampant egomania and the pressure of being politically outspoken at the time of the underhanded Nixon administration had all contributed to the disintegration of the band. What had once burned white hot was now completely burnt out. The '5's legacy lives on today in the three monumental albums they left behind (not to mention the countless bands they have either directly or indirectly influenced), but in 1972 you could not find five less triumphant musicians. They were broken and disheveled, in debt and on drugs, their personal relationships in ruins, all semblance of ambition completely sapped. “We are free men,” Sinclair's Kick Out The Jams rant had read. “And we demand a free music; a free high energy source that will drive us wild into the streets of America yelling and screaming and tearing down everything that would keep people slaves.” Sadly, though, Wayne Kramer would become enslaved. The fiery guitarist's involvement with drugs led to a bust in '75 that landed him in prison for two and a half years for dealing cocaine. 24-years old at the time, his incarceration was merely the next logical stop on a path of personal destruction that had continued since the break up of the band three years earlier. But Brother Wayne found a way back. He got out of prison and started to make records again (including the autobiographical “Cocaine Blues”), though it was many years before he would start to reconnect himself with the legacy he had been a part of in The MC5. The deaths of MC5 singer Rob Tyner in 1991 and guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith in 1994 had a massive effect on his emotional rehabilitation. But it wasn't until the DKT/MC5 revival tour last year that Kramer seemed to have finally arrived full circle. Reuniting the surviving MC5 brothers, Wayne Kramer, Michael Davis (bass) and Dennis Thompson (drums), the DKT/MC5 wound its way around the world, taking the songs of The '5 to a new generation using a revolving cast of well-known fans to flesh out the lineup. For the Australian leg Sonic Smith's axe duties were handled by Radio Birdman's Deniz Tek; playing the famous white Epiphone Crestwood that once belonged to Sonic. Vocals were shared between Mudhoney's Mark Arm (who was inspirational) and Evan Lemonhead (who sucked). When the tour hit around July, Kramer looked like a man who had left his demons long in his wake. Maybe the paycheck just really was that good, but he could barely keep the smile off his face. Stirred up with the emotion of old memories, and elated by the fact that this DKT/MC5 Sonic Revolution World Tour had created so many precious new ones, Brother Wayne Kramer was testifying his arse off… What was a typical show like for The MC5 back in the day? We would play anywhere, anytime - anytime anyone gave us the opportunity to play we'd take it. Like any young band would. You're young, you're enthusiastic about what you're doing, and you want people to hear what it is you have to say.

on our live show. And with the benefit of thirty years to look back on it, I also know it was cheaper for the record company. We did it consciously, but I think they [Elektra] knew it would work out cheaper.

There were also certain United States government agencies that were interested in what The MC5 had to say, right? I'm proud that the government has a file on me. I'm happy that they thought we were so dangerous - a rock band - a bunch of guys with nothing more powerful than electric guitars and big mouths. They had to tap our phones; they had to follow us around because we were such a threat to the established order. All because they didn't want to admit that they were wrong. All we said from the beginning was, “You're wrong, we just want people to listen to us.” But people didn't listen to us and they are still not listening, even today. They won't listen until it's too late.

So why did Elektra fire the band, just because of the "Kick Out The Jams, motherfuckers" thing? They fired us because we were the people we represented ourselves to be. We told them who we were, we told them what we were all about, then when we went and did what we said we would, they said, “Oh, you can't do that.” We said, “But we told you this was what we were going to do!” We said we were totally committed, we were maniacs - we told them we were maniacs. I've wondered sometimes if somebody got to them, somebody from the FBI or the White House. Did somebody say, “You need to distance yourself from these people?” I don't know that, it's just an amusing thought. I'm not a conspiracy theorist but we know today what was going on back then, dirty tricks, harassment, agent provocateurs.

Did the band let the victimisation get to you? Oh yeah. It's not a fun life to be followed and harassed and oppressed methodically. Fighting in the courts, fighting in the streets - that's not fun, it's stressful. Making a live album as your debut [Kick Out The Jams] was gutsy, why did you decide on that? Playing live was what we did best. We worked hard

y that they “I'm proud that the government has a file on me. I'm happof guys h thought we were so dangerous - a rock band - a bunc hs.” with nothing more powerful than electric guitars and big mout - Brother Wayne

MCC55 DDKKTT//M LLIIVVEE CCDDSS

onary technology to deliver While on their Sonic Revolution Australian Tour, DKT/MC5 utilized revoluti rne and Coogee Bay Melbou in Palace the At ances. perform the of two of gs instant live CD recordin after the end of the minutes five CD the ing purchas of Hotel in Sydney attendees were given the option their slicks. Some sign on Thomps and Kramer Davis, have to queue the joining then show, with many mostly sat around looking lonely. people even let Mark Arm and Deniz Tek sign theirs. Evan Lemonhead

THE PALACE, MELBOURNE (23.7.04)

One of the drawbacks of this instant release caper is the fact that both the Melbourne and Sydney shows have identical preprinted artwork, which makes owning them both very frustrating. I was actually happy when I cracked the jewel case of this Melbourne

one because now I can at least tell them apart. The first ever performance in this incarnation of the DKT/MC5, this recording represents a somewhat tentative start to the tour. Sound-wise, though, for something that was mixed on the s singing “Ramblin' fly, it sounds fairly decent and clear. Kramer rightfully opens proceeding the day) and Michael Rose” (only in a normal voice and not in the cool falsetto he did back in coming off like an Davis follows up vocalising on “I Can Only Give You Everything”, both songs MC5 cabaret tribute show, cheesy horns and all. on “Sister Anne”, Mark Arm and Evan Lemonhead (of all people!) make an ineffectual start In The USA in “Call before things start to come alive slightly with a decent double-dose of Back takes the lead on that Me Animal” and “Shakin' Street” (the latter being the only song that Evan g and revival band actually suits his droll voice). In a set marred by out of tune caterwallin As far as lowlights go, sappiness, “Call Me Animal” and “Over And Over” are two brief highlights. School” or Evan “High butchering Evan X”, “Miss butchering Evan you can take your pick from butchering “Looking At You”.

COOGEE BAY LIVE, SYDNEY (30.7.04)

is the fact that it Another drawback to this instant release and pre-printed artwork caper on the night. Halfway order track the change to decide band the when up things fucks completely be available right after the through, Kramer announces, “We're recording this tonight and discs will of the time. And so they show, but I want to warn ya: we're not a band that follows the rules a lot Yeah, we're funny like made us write a setlist for the artwork… well… we changed the setlist. that.” Then they launch into a killer (unlisted) version of “Baby Won't Ya”. an unexpected Having played an inspired set at the Gaelic Club several nights earlier (featuring into full gear at Coogee cameo by Rob Younger on “Looking At You”), the cavalcade really kicked seemed slightly distant Bay. With the whole cast putting in a fine ensemble effort, Kramer, who had him, elevating the through flow to everything allowed and forward stepped show, at the Gaelic performance to a new level. But (unlike that Nobody would've picked Mark Arm to make a good Rob Tyner - and he doesn't. energy so inspiring and Dandy Lemonhead bloke) the Mudhoney man's voice was so adaptable, his makes “Over And his performances so riveting that I think he surprised everyone. Here he practically When they did “Rocket Over” his bitch. It's a shame none of the encores made it onto these discs. Fa” sing-along as the band Reducer No. 62” Kramer led the crowd in a three-part “Rama Lama Fa Fa no instrumentation, no came to a complete stop. With just human voices zinging around the room, - both times I experienced g spine-tinglin totally was it but fuck), as cheesy sounds (this n amplificatio a crowd. it. Made me think how little idea most bands today have about how to work

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

47


Pic: Rod Hunt

DKT/MC5 - Australia ‘04: (LtoR) Mark Arm, Michael Davis, Deniz Tek, Dennis Thompson, Wayne Kramer

Tell me about the hardcore MC5 fans, the Motherfuckers as they were called. You mean back in the day? That was a different time, there were a lot of very angry people around and they were willing to use violence. As I look back on it I realise it was a mistake. Noam Chomsky says, “The best way to fight terrorism is don't participate in it.” We used the language of violence, we used the image of the gun and we didn't think these things through. What it got the MC5 was arrested, gaoled, and thrown out of the music business. What it got the Black Panthers was death squads. Y'know, this is not a joke. We used the image of the gun - that's not a joke. The MC5: (LtoR) Michael Davis, Dennis Thompson, We made a lot of mistakes. Wayne Kramer, Fred “Sonic” Smith, Rob Tyner Gun culture is a fairly popular subject still in hip-hop music, is that a bad thing? That stuff doesn't concern me. There's been violence in literature since there has been literature, endorsing violence as a way of life and a methodology. I understand violent thinking. I understand how a young Palestinian kid who has always known Israeli troops in his neighbourhood and he sees his neighbour's houses being blown up, I understand how that kid would see violence as a reasonable thing. There are degrees of fuzzy logic, it's not that one is right or one is wrong. But in my life and the things that I do and the things that I represent, I make a decision, I pick a side, and that side is that I don't endorse violence. I don't think it's an answer.

“We used the language of violence, we used image of the gun and we didn't think these the things through. We made some mistakes.” - Brother Wayne The MC5's message seemed an intoxicating mixture of love and violence. Well, we were caught up in the romance of the rhetoric. We idolised the Black Panthers and we grew up watching television with cowboys and cops & robbers, which gives you an aberrated sense of what violence really means. To get away from the TV violence and to the real violence, the world of crime and prison and what guns really do to people, this is not good stuff; this is not stuff that I want to promote. But the message was aspirational, without all the nihilism that came later. Lots of times the art reflects the culture and the culture became very selfcentred. Today it's all about where's mine and what's in it for me? The MC5 would probably never get signed to a major label today. No, I don't think so. But Rage Against The Machine did. Or, what's our boys from Sweden called, the (International) Noise Conspiracy, they're an overtly political band. It's not necessary that everybody takes a progressive political stance, but for me it's important to stay connected. Everybody doesn't have to do it, they can do whatever they want, I don't give a damn, but I have to do it. I'm the only thing I can do anything about. The only person I have any influence over is Wayne Kramer, and even that's limited.


REVISITING THE

THE STOOGES. RON ASHETON INTERVIEW BY MATT REEKIE.

FUNHOUSE

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

49


I bet The Stooges didn't even think about coming to Australia back in the day. No, we never left the United States really, until the Raw Power version of The Stooges when we played one show in England. But ever since we got back together I've been goin', “We gotta go to Australia.” So finally it's happening. It is great to finally be back and be able to play after the long break. Even though I played in bands all the years in between, I really never thought that The Stooges would get back together again. But it did and we're having a great time and we just got back two days ago from Brazil actually. We had a few shows in Brazil and it was great crowds, all the crowds have been great and we've been having a really wonderful time doing this. It's fun hangin' out with everyone - we have a great time. We always go to dinner together, we go out, we have our beers after the show, and I'm just really enjoying hangin' out with the guys. Things are good. You've been to Australia before, of course, with New Race and with Dark Carnival. What are your memories of those tours? New Race was '81 and I had a great time. Deniz Tek (Radio Birdman) had told me how much he enjoyed Australia and how much he thought I would like it, so the time came when we could take this opportunity. It was myself and Dennis Thompson (MC5) who went - originally Deniz had asked my brother… Why did Scott say no, did he think it'd be lame? No, he wanted too much money. So I went with Thompson and that was great because I had known him and I was in the New Order band with him and I really enjoyed it. We got to play all over, we did lots of shows, and the band was great - Rob Younger (Radio Birdman), Warwick Gilbert (Radio Birdman), Deniz Tek, myself and Dennis Thompson - and Chris Masuak (Radio Birdman) got up and played with us a couple of times. But I fell in love with Australia; I actually hated leaving. I contemplated maybe marrying this woman just so I could get citizenship, but then I thought, “What

Iggy Pop: Then (main) and now (inset)

Pic: Rod Hunt

I

n this day and age of retro revivalism, where CBGBs shirts are sold in Coles and Ramones logos are slapped on everything but patio furniture, there’s enough money around to entice almost any old band with surviving members back onto a stage. These past couple of years there have been reformation tours by The Pixies, Gang Of Four, New York Dolls, Slint, Dinosaur Jr., Motley Crue, and, the granddaddy of them all, The Stooges. Influentially speaking, The Stooges are not only the most important band in that list but also the most important band in punk rock history. Punk rock - how those words have been pillaged and bastardized, beaten and sodomised into complete subservience. The term no longer contains any meaning worth laying claim to. And indeed, The Stooges never did. They'd laid the cornerstones and broken up long before the famous English safety-pin fashion parade of '77. Seeing The Stooges, even a reformed and haggard Stooges fronted by a 60-year old ball of sinews and wrinkles, is one of those things that only comes along once every Halley’s Comet - the chance to lay eyes and ears on what guitarist Ron Asheton modestly calls “the original.” You can tick off another box on life's checklist after seeing that one, buster. Disappointingly though, The Stooges didn't schedule any club dates when they visited Australia recently, forcing fans to fork out for tickets to the rather large, rather soulless and rather expensive traveling Big Day Out '06. Drowning in a seething crowd of sweaty sunburnt jocks with their shirts off and green hair colouring running down their backs while they jump up and down drunkenly screaming along to whatever parts of “No Fun” they can decipher on the day is not the way you want to see The Fucking Stooges! It's been said that a big part of the enjoyment of seeing them back in the day was the tension of not knowing whether Iggy would live to see the end of the gig. The stunts he was pulling shocked the shit out of people back in the late sixties. Can you imagine anyone coming along in this day and age and outraging people the way Iggy, and indeed The Stooges did? No. That shtick has long been turned into something safe and easy to market, CBGBs shirts in Coles being the end result. Yet, ironically, that's also why there's so much money around for promoters to pay old dudes to strap on guitars instead of back braces. Coachella Festival 2003 marked The Stooges' triumphant return to action. Consisting of original members Iggy Pop on vocals, Ron Asheton on guitar and Scott Asheton on drums, the place of long deceased bassist Dave Alexander (R.I.P) was taken by former Minutemen/Firehose bassist Mike Watt. Since the resurrection they've conquered most continents, but in January and February 2005 it was Australia's turn. I got Ron Asheton on the phone just prior to the band's arrival to discuss the antipodean expedition, a new Stooges album, and seafood pizza…

am I doin'? I gotta go home, I got a girlfriend, I got a life, I got cats!” That's how much I loved it, I was just mesmerised. So then I got to go back in '91, ten years later, with Dark Carnival. That was fun also, we played a bunch of shows and I had a good time playing with Lime Spiders and the Psychotic Turnbuckles. So here we go again, another great span of time has passed until I get to come back, but this time it will be extra fun because we're bringin' back the roots, the original. Because with Dark Carnival we had our originals and we played some Stooges songs, and I don't think we did any Stooges songs in New Race, there was a Destroy All Monsters song. New Race did mostly Radio Birdman songs, a Destroy All Monsters song “November 22nd”, an MC5 song, and we wrote that song, “Hail Columbia”. But I'm lookin' forward to seein' everyone. I haven't seen Rob or Warwick or Mark Sisto (Visitors) or Pip (Hoyle - Radio Birdman)… Well you know The Visitors are playing a reformation show here this week. Yeah I know. I haven't spoken with her because I've been in Brazil but I got a couple of messages from Angie Pepper/Tek who told me. Isn't Angie getting The Passengers back together as well? I believe so. Everyone's getting back together man. Yeah, I guess we started a trend. Well The MC5 are sort of partly back together. The DTK, there's only three of those guys, but then Deniz Tek played with them on the Australian leg… And Rob got up and sang “Lookin' At You” one night. Ah, I didn't know that. Well that was the song we did in New Race.

“They used to throw brassieres and joints and bags of pills and hotel keys, then it got ugly. It got really ugly and they really tried to hurt us.” - Ron Asheton

50

UNBELIEVABLY BAD


So what do you think of the other bands on the Big Day Out bill, I think The Stooges are the only thing I'm interested in seeing, what about you? I don't really know the line-up other than White Stripes. I haven't really gone that far. Usually we just go to the show an hour and a half before we play because you can't sit too long, it's too tedious. I'll probably only catch a little White Stripes. You keep your edge and then once you get there you start getting keyed up. So as we count down to the show we get more and more geared up. Everyone will stand up and start pacing or limbering up, my brother will beat with his drumsticks on his kneepad, everyone is chain-smokin' and drinkin' lots of water. It's only Coca-Cola and water before the show. Hydration is important, especially for Mike Watt, he downs the waters because he really sweats out. Then we go and we do our thing and it's a wonderful thing. There are lots of days off in between Big Day Out festivals in each city too, so it's like a big traveling party. And that's what I like; I'll get a chance to hang out. I was gonna hook up with Niagara (Destroy All Monsters, Dark Carnival) because she is playing in Melbourne and also has art shows on in Sydney and Melbourne. I thought that was funny that she was going to be there at the same time as I because we were there together in December of '91. But I don't think our paths are going to cross at any point. So I'm looking forward to having the days off to be able to see people who I have not seen for years. And, oh, the seafood, I love getting good fish. Barramundi is a favourite fish down there, and oysters and sand crabs and giant prawns, I love seafood. I had a seafood pizza down there with Rob Younger and Warwick Gilbert. Even though I love seafood I was like, “A seafood pizza, whaaat!? Oh dude it can't be good.” But it was awesome! Lobster, crab, oyster and shrimp, smothered in cheese. I imagine it's very different playing huge outdoor festivals, like what was the biggest show you can remember playing with The Stooges previously? Well back then we did do festivals, like Bruce Lake (Canada) was 100,000 people and Stevens Point (Wisconsin) was 50 or 60,000, and we did Soldiers Field (Chicago). But mostly we played theatres or clubs. But this is way different, getting used to playing outdoors. My brother was goin', “Ah, I hate playin' outdoors.” Then after we had done that a while, when we finally went back and played a show indoors he was like, “Playin' indoors sucks!” You know, it's easier playing for the big crowds than being in a club with twenty or thirty people standing there, because it's so big it doesn't seem real. I'm so focused on what I'm doing that I'm kinda oblivious to the crowd other than checking on Iggy and catching some of his antics. I'll hear him say something and it's like, “Okay, what's going on here?” One thing I'm grateful for is that no one has been throwing bottles and stuff. That's been really good. Like the old days they used to throw brassieres and joints and bags of pills and hotel keys, then it got ugly. It got really ugly and they really tried to hurt us. But this has been great; nothing has been tossed up except maybe empty plastic water bottles. The crowds have been really appreciative and I love looking at their faces. I know when I do pay attention and focus in on the crowd it's fun to see people watching and enjoying the show and participating in it.

we'll go and relearn and revamp all the things we've written in the past and then write some more. I went down to Iggy's house by myself and I wrote twelve songs in four days. It was just comin' out, a diarrhea of music. Is Mike Watt (Minutemen, Firehose) the logical choice for a bassist since Dave Alexander is no longer with us? I'd been playing with Mike Watt with J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.) and a few years back we started playing a few Stooges songs. I was coming in on the end of these five songs, then we went to Europe and did a whole Stooges set. And it was shortly after that that Iggy called me up and asked me if I wanted to do a project, that project being what I wound up doing on [Iggy's 2004 solo album] Skull Ring. I was only going to do a couple of songs but I wound up coming up with the music to “Skull Ring” and I wrote two other songs and we wrote another song together. So it was during that period that the word got out and the offer to play Coachella came through. So Jim [Iggy] is going, “Yes, no, yes, no, yes, no,” he couldn't make up his mind, and we were kinda disappointed 'cos we wanted to. And he goes, “You guys really wanna do this don't ya?” And I'm going, “Yeah man I wanna do it.” And he says, “Okay.” So I finally got Mike Watt, after convincing Iggy to let him play the bass, and then after we played the show Iggy just came up to all of us in our trailer and said to Mike Watt, “How would you like to be in the band and play some more shows?” I'm like, “Cool!” That was the beginning because Iggy had fun and the crowd enjoyed it. We gotta wrap this interview up so I'll see you when you get here. Yeah, we'll hook up. Where do they have the Big Day Out in Sydney, like a soccer stadium or something? Yeah, a big soulless concrete and plastic wasteland, which is actually a fairly accurate description of Sydney itself these days - it's so sterile. That's what I've heard, everyone's saying that. I always liked Coogee Bay [NSW], that's where we stayed. The coastline is still beautiful but all the buildings and pubs have given up their character along with their heritage through refurbishment. That's what I've been hearing and you've just confirmed it. It's like this place is losing its soul, even day-to-day living is becoming more cutthroat when it was never really like that. Well yeah, Australia has always been seriously a good party and the shrimp on the barbie mentality. Australians start out on the Friday night and they like to party through to Sunday. And when I was there I actually did throw some shrimps on the barbie. We had a party at one of the guys' house and he had the big ol' grill in the backyard and everyone brought something, so I brought giants prawns just to say, “I put the shrimp on the barbie.”

“I had a seafood pizza down there with Rob Younger and Warwick Gilbert... it was awesome! Lobster, crab, oyster and shrimp smothered in cheese.” - R o n A s h e t o n

I've often thought about James coming into the band and wonder what it is that you possibly did wrong on those first two albums. At the time there were bad feelings. I wanted to play the guitar. I really enjoyed playing the bass though. I had fun but it was really frustrating that I was never able to get back on guitar. It was going to be that we had two guitars but there was a clash, James didn't want another guitar player so they got a piano instead. I had assumed, as I was told in the beginning, that it would go back to dual guitars eventually, but y'know the course it took, it all broke up in a short amount of time, just a couple of years. That incarnation only lasted a couple of years; they were short-termers. But now we're gonna stick for a while, we've got plans and we've got lots and lots of new songs. I'm just writing songs like crazy. We've got 31 things I've written and I can write more, and Iggy's written lyrics to all of them and I can just keep kickin' them out. That's what our plan is, after Australia I'll probably get back together with Iggy and

Pic: Rod Hunt

I noticed on the Live In Detroit DVD that you don't play any of the songs from when James Williamson took over on guitar, not even “Search and Destroy”, was that an issue at all or something that was understood? Yeah it was just no questions asked, Iggy had said he just wanted to do the old band. I mean I played bass on those tunes and I'm sure I could learn them but it's not the same, we're doing the original Stooges. I always refer to that Raw Powerera as “Iggy & The Stooges”.

Left - Ron Asheton, 2006 Right - The Stooges, 1970: (LtoR) Dave Alexander, Iggy Pop, Scott Asheton, Ron Asheton

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

51


DIE!

DIE! FUCKING

EVERY TIME I DIE. KEITH BUCKLEY INTERVIEW BY NUTSO WARD.

A

ngrier than a sodomized tiger. More deadly than a full-strength batch of Red Mitsubishi. Able to leap all genre boundaries in a single song. Look! Up in the sky! It's Converge, it's Thin Lizzy, it's… Every Time I Die! In case you had your back turned, hardcore is now hard rock. Say goodbye to last season's staunch straight edge ideals, and hello to double-shots of Jack, lines of coke off hooker's titties and shredding Les Paul solos. Better get that “X” tattoo changed into a skull & crossbones, 'cos you're on the Nightrain now, kiddo! In the past few years metal has virtually raped hardcore's arse right out of existence. The whole so-called “hardcore” scene has gone metal thrashing mad, plundering the

52

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

thrash and death genres to point where you'd swear blind the godfathers of HC were Slayer, not Black Flag. Just lately, classic eighties metal and hard rock have dared rear their pompous heads, with Number Of The Beast currently gunning for the mantle of the new Reign In Blood. Wearing an Iron Maiden shirt to a hardcore show back in the day would've probably gotten you your head kicked in. Now that shit's worth scene points - heaps of 'em. Judas Priest riffs are the latest thing at Warped Tour thanks to pussies like Avenged Sevenfold. And don't even get me started on those fashioncore fags Eighteen Visions. To cut a long rant short, the lines between hardcore, metal and hard rock are now as blurry as James Dean's windscreen. Yet most of

the bands trying to blend the styles are doing a turd-sucking job of it. But that's to be expected. For every Guns N' Roses you're gonna get a shitload of Pretty Boy Floyds, for every Metallica an army of Testaments. One of the only groups in the whole overloaded menagerie worth any time at all is Every Time I Die. Not too many other bands can marry the past and present as succinctly as this brutal 5-piece from upstate New York. They don't just play retro hard rock or thrash metal and dress it up as “hardcore”. Nor do they juxtapose one riff next to another ad nauseum in an attempt to feign math metal complexity like every band on Equal Vision. Instead, they embrace their pure rock roots and entrench them deeply into a sometimes complex metal/hardcore amalgam to produce a fresh


hybrid that puts every eighties metal rehasher in eyeliner to shame (not that they shouldn't be fucking ashamed already). Every Time I Die's breakthrough 2003 LP Hot Damn! was a supreme blast of rockin' aggro metalcore lying somewhere in the scape between Converge and The Bronx. It helped Every Time I Die stand out as one of the best new bands among a sea of clones, one capable of crafting good songs instead of just a string of cool riffs. Doubtlessly many “hardcore” fans would've been hoping for a heavier, more complex follow up to Hot Damn! But ETID realised that pandering to that kind of expectation would be painting themselves into an uncomfortably tight corner. For their third and latest full-length effort, the Buffalo

! E DI

quintet favoured the instinctual over the cerebral, hemmed in the excess technicality, cranked up the string-bends and artificial guitar harmonics, washed down some speedy pills with several litres of malt whiskey, and birthed a retarded sleazedripping heavy rock monster which they called Gutter Phenomenon. Released in late August, Gutter Phenomenon is an album built to stand the test of time, one with which Every Time I Die can confidently preach beyond the converted and challenge Hot Damn! fans to open their minds. Hooky but still not what you'd call catchy, melodic but not totally bubblegum, tough when it wants to be without degenerating into meatheadedness, emotional without ever losing its cool; Gutter

Phenomenon is destined to be in a lot of folks' best records of 2005 lists. Of course, it's pissed a hell of a lot of old fans off, but that's “hardcore” for ya. Every Time I Die don't give two flying fucks what anyone thinks. Most of the time they will go out of their way to give the wrong impression. The only thing you can truly be sure of with these guys is a strict adherence to the creed of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Notorious for their partying ways - and too goddamn ugly to buy into the hardcore fashion stakes - they'd much rather spend their cash on drugs and alcohol than white studded belts, tasselled vests and eye makeup. Here's an interview with vocalist Keith Buckley conducted just prior to ETID's first Australian visit in November/December…

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

53


“Hey, does the wordg 'Buckley' mean anythin over there? It's my last name and I heard it means like if you

You must be seeing the increase in kids at shows since Gutter Phenomenon came out? If there isn't an increase in kids then it's definitely an increase in enthusiasm. The kids coming out are really stoked about it and really responding well to the new songs, which is all I can ask. Actually, up until a month ago all I could ask is to go to Australia just once, now we've got that coming up so... You have no idea how excited we are for Australia. Coming there, we talk about it, like we just wake up in the morning and giggle when we think about it, we're like little kids on Christmas morning.

haven't got a chance

in hell.” - Keith Buckley

Are you gonna be ready to party when you get down here? Oh yeah definitely, I want to party with wild animals. I want to be in the middle of the outback with just wild animals all around me. We got some of the deadliest fucking animals in the world. I know man, I study up on poisonous animals. I watch the Discovery Channel man, I know! I want to come down with a disease from an animal that I can't get in the States - get bitten by some weird animal that I've never heard of. Hey, what's a Dik Dik? Do people get the wrong idea about Every Time I Die and your paryting ways or is every word true? They have absolutely the right idea, it's the perfect idea, they're picking up what we're putting down so they're pretty right on. It's just that some days I don't want to do it. I hate the pressure of feeling I have to because that's what people expect. But those days are few and far between. It's not often that I feel like, “Oh, nah, I don't feel like drinkin'.” Is there any member of the band who is responsible, who isn't likely to be arrested at any minute or whatever? No. We'd like to think our tour manager, Biggie, is the only responsible one. We rely on him and he's the most responsible, even though normally he's the one encouragi ng us to get in trouble. It's a delicate balance, knowing where to draw the line. Have you learned to curb it at all or just got better at going harder? That's exactly it, you just get better at going harder. It's like, at first you've gotta pace yourself, not give in to the excitement of just being on tour. But the more you do it the more you get used to it. Until you start to reach the point where you don't trust yourself. I'm approaching that point now.

54

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

I don't know? It's some kind of animal from Australia [Actually, Keith, we looked it up and it's some kind of native African deer - Ed]. Maybe I watch more TV than you do? I don't think I've heard anyone say a bad word about, Hot Damn!, but this time it's different, I'm hearing people from everywhere rave about Gutter Phenomenon. It's great that we have branched out. I think there are certain bands who try to nail themselves down to one fanbase but with us I think across the board anyone who is just into music will find something to appreciate about us. But you know, it's put us in the position where now more people are paying attention so there's more people to make fun of us if they want to. So there's obviously some people backlashing. But they are people that were never really around before, which is funny. But I expect that, the more people keep an eye out for you the more people are gonna say shitty things. There's a couple of people who think this is our first CD, or people who have never seen us play live who want to say bad things, so I don't let it bother me. I think some people wanted another Hot Damn! and they didn't get it and that's kinda bumming them out but I think those people will be persuaded the more they listen and pay attention.


Every Time I Die: (LtoR) Chris Byrnes, Keith Buckley, Jordan Buckley, Andrew Williams, Michael Novak What does the typical ETID fan look like? Just super overweight. Wasted and fat. With the title Gutter Phenomenon, you were referring to Bloom's theories about rock 'n' roll, right? Yeah. It was basically a theory about society that this guy, Allan Bloom, had written [in The Closing of the American Mind - 1987] and he said that rock 'n' roll was a gutter phenomenon and that the people who were listening to it were sinful and that it was responsibl e for American culture going down the drain. I thought it was funny. People originally thought it would be a flash in the pan but it's still here. It sort of sums up our whole approach towards it too. I read somewhere that you are a high school English teacher, is that right ? I was. I am officially a teacher, but I don't have a job right now. I'm doing the band full-time, but if I wanted to I could go and teach.

EVERY TIME I DIE DISCOGRAPHY

But you don't like high school kids? Actually that's the problem is that I do like high school kids. I was so young when I did it, but, especially in America, it has sort of become more about making sure kids don't hurt each other. You're more of a referee than an actual teacher. Nobody wants to take responsibility for kids anymore. If you're not their parents then you don't want anyth ing to do with it, you just want to make sure they get on and off the bus without a scar and that's it, and that's too bad. Some day I'd like to go and teach at a college level where peop le are working towards a career and hopefully I can offer them something.

You've made the music a little 1999: Burial Plot Bidding War EP catchier, given people 2001: Last Night In Town more to hook onto, whereas before it 2003: Hot Damn! was stick and move kinda warfare. 2005: Gutter Phenomenon Yeah, it's not even parts that stick, it's more the vibe and emotion that sticks. People get a certa in vibe off a certain song so they react to it. We're not going for things that are going to get stuck in your head all day, we're going for things that when you see us Don't you think you can make a diffe live you're gonna remember what every rence to kids' lives, give them some one was doing during a certain part. thing different to what a normal thinking person would. It was awesome because I did it a few years ago befor e the band really took off There are not many bands who can and since some of the kids in my class reach back to the past and still soun were graduating I would see some of d like those a new band the way ETID do, and beca kids at bars in my hometown. They woul use of that I think you have the d come up to me and tell me I was the potential to appeal to a cross-section best teach er they ever had and what ever but maybe they were just saying of listeners, is that the point? that because Yeah, that is absolutely the point. A lot they liked me because I wasn't that strict of bands are throwbacks to the eighties on them beca use I was like four years metal scene or whatever, but we go back older than them so I couldn't really be even further to the stuff that we were a dickhead to 'em. I'm really proud of the actually raised on before we even knew stuff I did and I'm really grateful that what we were listening to. Not the stuff I got the opportunity but to make that my that our friends got us into but the stuff that whol e life I woul dn't be willin g to do that unless it was with adults our parents got us into, things that we at a college level. were hearing as infants. That's the stuff that I think we are bringing to the table and hopefully people are appreciating it. What are you expecting of this Aust ralian visit? Oh man it's going to be so amazing. It's something I've always wanted to What stuff did your parents listen to? experience. I want to meet as many peop le and do as many things as possible. Hey, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin; does the word “Buc kley” mean anything over there? It's my last my Dad liked stuff like The Eurythmic name and I heard it s and weird stuff like that. But the first conc means like if you haven't got a chance ert I went to was Iron Butterfly, I saw in hell. Pink Floyd when I was 13 or 14 years old, my parents took me to that. Yeah, we say you've got Buckley's chance, which means no chance. Or we Do you think a lot of kids go to show say, you've got two chances, none s 'cos it's the fashion now? and Buckley's. Yeah, but I think we've really done as That' s great ! We were in Europe and this guy that much as we can to get away from that. worked at a club was saying, We tour with a lot of bands where that is your chances of getting laid are zero sort of their key, and we're and Buckley's and I thought, what the hell does not talking shit on that, we understan d that it's just as important that mean? So I looked into it to look entertaining as to be entertainin g, but I think people that and I asked my Dad about it know us personally know that we have really no idea of what is and he had some Australian fashionable at all. friends who told him what it meant. There's also a Do you care if people Buckley's wine over there call it hardcore or hard that I would like to drink. rock? I don't care at all, Fuck, it would make whatever makes them sense if your relatives happy, whatever were convicts over here. category they have to put That's what I'm thinkin' it in to better understand man. They were probably it is fine. But I don't even shipped there a long time know where I put it. ago. My whole objective is to hang out and make What's the best the most of it, play a few description you've ever shows… heard for what Every Time I Die do? And what should we I have no idea, maybe expect? Trashcore or something, Probably the drunkest White Trashcore. Keith Buckley you've ever seen in your life.

“People that know us personally know that we have really no idea of what is fashionable at all.” - Keith Buckley

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

55


ear of the unknown is something a Six-Ft Hick fan understands all too well. Go to a show and watch the evil grin wash over the faces of knowing punters as the Queensland fivesome walks out on stage. Even before they've played a note, the thrill of anticipation is as stifling as a fat guy's farts. Nobody knows what's about to happen, but they know it's gonna be somethin' they'll need a hell of a lot of alcohol to forget. Having whooped up storms and stomped down boards for close to ten years now, most folks are wise to Six-Ft Hick's dangerous dueling vocalists, the Corbett brothers, Ben and Geoff. Gig-goin' folk have seen (or at least heard about) astonishing feats of rock 'n' roll performed by this pair of masochistic siblings for years, and they acknowledge that they're putting their lives at risk just being within ten metres of that stage (even ten metres is still no real guarantee of safety - mic chords stretch you know). Blood is likely to be shed; heads could get cracked open; someone could lose an eye. Luckily Ben and Geoff will usually cop the brunt - you'll probably just get your drink spilt. The first time I saw the Hick I was scared of 'em. It was the middle of the day inside a tent pitched in the centre of Erskineville Oval for '99's Hootenanny Festival. Ben was like this bleeding, sweaty maniac with a sleazy look in his eye and his pants undone. Geoff had these mangy wooly mutton-chop sideburns that made him look for all money like a purebred hillbilly psycho; or someone John Waters would cast in a film. On guitar was Karim, coming off, as he always did, like a redneck version of Angus Young. Playing bass was Dan Baebler, looking much the same as he does now, only these days he plays guitar. Back then I thought he looked like one of the dudes out of Deliverance, but when I finally met him years later I discovered how nice, wellspoken and articulate he is. It's probably those greaser sideburns and piercing little eyes? And speaking of eyes, Fred was on drums, as he still is, with his all-seeing, all-knowing eye, which would almost be capable of upstaging the Corbetts on its own if it weren't so damn lazy. Together the Hick took the relaxed, corn-eatin' country vibe of Hootenanny '99 by the scruff of its bowling-shirted neck and shook that tent like absolute motherfuckers. They had the looks to intimidate, but the intent with which they threw themselves into the music was something else. As I said, it was plain frightening, and at the same time exhilarating. For some reason the albums they've released so far, while great, have not managed to replicate that exhilaration. But

SICK Corbett Six-Ft Hick. Geoff and Ben Corbett. interview by Geoff and Ben Intro by Danger Coolidge.

HICKS

56

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

with their new Loki Lockwood-produced album, Cane Trash, due real soon, my hopes are higher than Willie Nelson. With Dan switching to guitar and Tony Giacca joining on bass, their murderous intent has become more murderous, and more intentional. Did somebody say revitalised (and spell it the Australian way)? The thrust behind those loose Corbett cannons is now so all-consuming that the brothers are comfortable scaling back their insanity to strike a balance between singing well and still putting on an explosive show. No matter how much they try and make you believe they're a couple of brain-fried sons of a poultry farmer, their intelligence cannot go unnoticed. Riding on unpredictability has

become second nature, but it's clear they've put a lot of pre-thought into what they're doing without allowing any part of it to become contrived. Most of the time an audience doesn't know what's going to happen next, and neither do they. And that's the way everyone likes it. On Geoff's birthday at the end of October the Hick played the Annandale and I went along to record him and Ben interviewing one another for UNBELIEVABLY Bad. Unfortunately, Geoff was celebrating a little too hard and the interview never happened. A few weeks later, though, I got a package with a Queensland postmark with a cassette inside labeled in scrawl: “CORBETT ON CORBETT”. I was scared. I jammed it in the tape deck, pressed play, and felt that familiar fear of the unknown rising…


Pic: Silvana Macarone

“The doctor didn't believe my excuse about banging my head into a foldback wedge and started talking about Fight Club.” - Ben

G: Really? B: Well you were there. G: While you got fingered by a beautiful lady doctor? B: That was nice. G: It woulda been! She like stuck her little finger in your wound. B: Mt. Gambier was the best too because we had that great schizophrenic woman there who thought she was dying in the next cubicle. And then the doctor didn't believe my excuse about banging my head into a foldback wedge and started talking about Fight Club. G: I'm sure they get a lot of that in Mt. Gambier. B: You'd just admit though. Why make up a story like that? G: Well, at least you got fingered by a really nice lady doctor, I'm at the age where I'm only going to get fingered by really nice men doctors. B: I'd just like to point out that she was fingering me in the wound, which was in my rib area, not my man clam. Anyway, Geoff… If you can remember any of the time Six-Ft Hick has spent in the studio, what is your favourite studio memory? G: I think it was recording Chicken. B: Can you be more specific? G: Um… no. I'm not sure if it was a really good record or not, but if I had to remember a time that was “rock 'n' roll” it was then. It was spending a lot of money, not getting much done, and not sleeping for a week. B: Yeah, it's amazing how little we got done considering how little sleep there was. G: Totally. Tony Cohen (producer) was fantastic, and I'd do it all again tomorrow if I had the chance. B: If you would be able to survive it. G: Yeah, if my teeth wouldn't snap off every time I opened my mouth. Um, Ben… If I'm Dean Martin who are you, Frank Sinatra or Sammy Davis Jr.? Or are you like a morph of both? B: Sammy Sinatra Davis Frank Jr.? G: Or are you Frank Sinatra with Sammy Davis Jr.'s cock? B: Yeah that's me. G: Why am I Dean Martin? B: I don't know, 'cos you're a drunk idiot? Charming nonetheless. G: Nice save, cunt. B: Geoff… When they create a new ARIA Awards category to accommodate your, in inverted commas “music”, what will they call it and who will you be nominated alongside? G: Hmmm. B: Adult Cunt-emporary? G: Skrunk. B: Ah, the category of Skrunk. Best Male Skrunk, Best New Skrunk… G: I think the nominees would be Capital City from WA, King Daddy from South Australia, Spencer P. Jones from Melbourne, The Holy Soul from Sydney and me. B: Jeez, give yourself a wrap! G: And I'd take it out. B: With your explosive-laden gack pack? G: With my explosive-laden gack pack because I'm the queen of Skrunk. B: For the uninitiated, gack is cocaine. G: Ben… They've turned the swamp behind our family farm into a wakeboarding park, which did you prefer? B: I do enjoy wakeboarding. But I enjoy wakeboarding with a tiger snake strapped to each foot. So seeing as how all the tiger snakes are now dead because of the fucking wakeboarding park, I can't

Pic: Silvana Macarone

arone Pic: Silvana Mac

Pic: Silvana Macarone

Geoff: Rolling. You are listening to Corbett on Corbett, an interview with Geoff Corbett and Ben Corbett. Ben: Of the Corbetts. G: Um… Ben… B: Yes Geoff? G: We've been playing in this band, Six-Ft Hick, for ten years now, what are your fondest memories? B: I'll always remember watching Fred (drums) ask Beck if his name was short for Rebecca at the Summersault Festival. That was fond. And all the other stuff. All the other stuff I've enjoyed. G: All the stuff that you're fond of. B: So Geoff… What do you consider to be your number one taunt to a heckler? G: It would have to be the classic Hopetoun Hotel retort circa 1999 to a young rockabilly man when I said, “Fuck off, Boathead.” B: I thought it was “Shut the fuck up, Boathead.” G: Oh yeah, it was. B: Wow, you have destroyed your brain. G: Ben… You've been to the emergency room several times, which has been your favourite emergency room? B: Hmmm. G: You can talk if you want, you don't have to sigh. B: My favourite emergency room I think would be the Mt. Gambier Base Hospital emergency room.

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

57


Pic: Silvana Macarone

Six-Ft Hick live: (LtoR) Dan Baebler, Geoff Corbett, Fred, Ben Corbett, Tony Giacca

58

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

HICK RELATED RELEASES... 1994: [Fred] The Fred Band - Country Rockers And Proud (Splurt) 2003: [Geoff & Dan] The Tremors - Can I Get A Whiskey? EP (Dew Process) 2004: [Ben] Gentle Ben and his Sensitive Side - Beginning Of The End (Spooky) 2004: [Geoff & Dan] The Tremors - Cash Up Front No Kissing (Dew Process) 2005: [Ben] Gentle Ben and his Sensitive Side - Sober Light of Day (Spooky)

beautiful young lady. I won't go into details. G: You don't have to, it's a straightforward fucking question, just answer it. B: Geoff… We've done a few road trips and clocked up a few frequent driver points, describe your favourite Newell Highway near-death experience. G: I think the best one was the Fred layback piss. B: Fred's quite good at pissing in moving vehicles and then having a story to tell afterwards. G: Like the time he pissed all the way across the Sydney Harbour Bridge on a train. B: He was in the toilet, started pissing at one pylon and got to the other side of the Harbour Bridge and he was still pissing. G: I think hanging out of the window going around a sweeping bend at 130kms was the best. With a road train coming the other way. B: When the road train's high beams hit the piss it created a beautiful rainbow. Actually, it was more of a pissbow.

Pic: Silvana Macarone

pursue my childhood dream of being the World Swamp Tiger Wakeboarding Champion. G: I haven't seen a swamp tiger on the farm for seventeen years, they used to be around all the time. B: You still get a few browns. They're everywhere. G: Yeah but brown snakes are pussies compared to swamp tigers. Swamp tigers are way up there with the deadliest snake in the world - that's the roughscaled snake to the uninitiated. I remember in the cow bales, me and Brett Canning uncovered heaps of shit down the back there because we were looking for snakes and we counted like seven of 'em. B: They're a good not stepping-on snake. G: Yeah, you don't want to step on them 'cos they'll kill ya. They'll fuckin' kill ya. B: Geoff… In the proposed Six-Ft Hick tele-movie, Children Of The Big Pineapple, who would play you, and who would play all the other cunts? G: I'd like to have, who's the guy in Wolf Creek? B: John Jarratt. G: I'd like to get John Jarratt to play me. B: As Mick Taylor from Wolf Creek. G: I reckon he'd do a good job of me. B: I think he would. He actually spent months studying you to get his character for Wolf Creek down. G: Let me think, who would play the other cunts? I think you'd be played by one of those brothers. B: The Baldwins? G: Yeah, you'd be played by Alec Baldwin. Fred would be played by Fatty Vautin. Tony Giacca (bass) would be played by anyone from the cast of The Sopranos. B: Or Al Pacino. G: Al Pacino would make a great Tony! And Dan (guitar), I don't know who could play Dan. B: Sammy Davis Jr.? Or Cuba Gooding Jr.? Anyone with Jr. at the end of their name could played Dan Baebler Baebler Jr. G: Now Ben… My first ever job was working as Pineapple Pete at the Big Pineapple, yours was stacking books at the Nambor library. Was there any library chicks there, and if so, describe them. B: The hottest girl at that library was actually Karim, our old guitar player's little sister. She was a

G: Have you ever had an onstage spew or blackout? B: I've had a number of small blackouts, a lot of dry reaching, and had a lot of bile come up. G: I've had a few. I think the worst was at The Gabba where I walked offstage thinking, “Shit, I'm gonna spew, I better walk back here and chill out.” But soon as I smelt the bins back there I threw my guts up everywhere backstage. I'm probably better off onstage. B: So, Geoff… Speaking of venues like The Gabba, what has been your favourite venue and why? G: I'd have to say in all honesty, The Espy when it was workin' at its peak. When Trish was livin' out the back and we could get up to all amount of mischief and there would be that close spot to completely pass out. Everything was at hand - it's rock 'n' roll close to shops and amenities, you know what I mean?


B: I know what you mean. G: Ummm, hey, Ben… B: Yes Geoff? G: What’s the worst gig you've ever done? B: Mooloolaba Hotel was one of the worst. G: Yeah I hated Mooloolaba Hotel too. B: There wasn't anything spectacular about it except for the fact that I stuck my thumb into my eye so hard and far that I turned bright red, and they had one of those decibel limiters on the PA so it kept switching off three times a song and the people who worked there were cunts. I'm glad they knocked it down. G: I think that's one of only three shows in ten years that we've never actually been paid for. And they were cunts. B: We weren't worth it, let's face it, we've never been worth it. G: Certainly not on the North Coast. B: So, Geoff… The use of drugs is stupid and dangerous, which ones do you like the most? G: At the moment, cocaine. B: Everyone says cocaine. G: Well you can't get into trouble with it really. It should be made legal. I challenge anyone to become addicted to it. It's fantastic. And if my boss read that I would probably get the sack so quick it's not funny. B: You wouldn't care as long as the sack was full of cocaine. A gack sack. G: Okay Ben… From a non-drug users perspective, when I'm high, which drug am I the most glamorous and beautiful on? B: Does your own sense of self worth count as a drug? G: Power? B: Is power a drug? G: Yes, yes it is. B: Well you've got none of that. G: Oh, okay, thanks. Let's say a big fistful of antidepressants then. B: Let's say a combination of alcohol and gack. But it's gotta be good alcohol, it's gotta be like brown spirits, I reckon that's what does it. G: Yeah, brown spirits are the way to go. B: So Geoff… If playing rock 'n' roll hadn't ruined all your prospects and taken up all your time, what

“Is straight-edge like when you just do speed but you don't inject it?” - Geoff would you be doing right now? B: I'd like to have G: Ahhh, I don't know. Next “Autoluminescent” by Roland S. question. Howard, which I think you've B: You ask the next question. already got dibs on. G: Ben… You work a shit job in G: Yeah, nah, we can share that. 1997: Cousins EP (Valve) Fortitude Valley making coffee, B: And I don't know, I'll write 2000: Daddy's Home EP (Valve) what's so shit about this job? something. I better do it quickly, 2001: Chicken (Valve) B: It's not that shit. In fact, it's I've only got a couple of weeks. 2001: “Jesus Give Me Peace” / really good coffee. Everyone So, Geoff… When the Hicks break “Innocence In Me” Split 7' should drop in and argue with me up in a couple of weeks due to my w/ The Del-emmas over the price of a four-dollar death, how will you spend your 2002: Lap of Luxury (Valve) breakfast. Next question. retirement? 2006: Cane Trash (Spooky) G: How much is a four-dollar G: I'll go to Maclay Island and 2006: Train Crash - Live at the Annandale and Tote (Spooky) breakfast? buy the smallest pair of shorts… B: Hey Geoff… What songs do B: Smaller than the ones you've you want me to play at your been wearing lately? funeral? G: Smaller than them, they're like fag shorts, they're G: I think if you could do the Johnny Cash version like skater gear they're so long. I'll take the hems up on of “Hurt”, or the Johnny Cash version of “I See A those, move to Maclay Island and just go fishing and Darkness”, there wouldn't be a dry eye in the room. write rock 'n' roll songs, come back to the mainland and That would be nice. What songs would you want me be like the gnarly 57-year old guy that goes on tour and to play at your funeral? fucking kicks the arse of all the emo bands in the world. B: Ahhh… B: Yeah, emo is still going to be around then. G: I don't think I'd be able to do them anyway. I'd G: I can remember when we were straight-edge, give them a go. seventeen years ago. B: I'm much the same. You could press play on a B: I don't know that we ever called ourselves tape recorder maybe? straight-edge though. G: I reckon I'd be so off my chops on valium I'd do G: Is straight-edge like when you just do speed but a really good version of anything. you don't inject it?

SIX-FT HICK DISCOGRAPHY


he Scare have made a lot of noise since they started touring just over a year ago. But while their two EPs (2004's Masochist Mimes and 2005's Vacuum Irony) have made their share of the impact, it's everything else about The Scare that seems to be celebrated (or criticised) the most. With their art-scene graphic design, sophisticated looking promo photos and debauched party antics, the Brisbane six-piece have managed to attract attention quickly. But while their brash striking look has opened the band up to a lot of fans attracted to their aesthetic, the fact that more people seem intrigued by what the band is about rather than what their songs sound like comes with the territory. And who am I to argue? The Scare ARE an intriguing band. They are a mess of dangerous (im)morals, scattered influences, cheap alcohol and twisted rock. They come across as glamorous and fucked up at once, and they have enough rock star attitude to be accepted as the real deal. They are consistently inconsistent. Sometimes seemingly intelligent and witty, sometimes inane and dismissive, their attitude seems to flash between not giving a fuck and trying their hardest to prove people wrong. I've seen the band back up a poor, stale effort of a live showing with one of the most killer messes of a performance you'll ever see, back-to-back, seemingly unconcerned with what the crowd situation was like. And when the rumour mill runs wild - stories I've heard range from band members getting paid for sex to The Scare ruining the hardcore scene, people claiming they are rockstars and stories like the one about the band getting held at knife point by the host of a house party they'd just played - the band members don’t seem in any great hurry to douse the chatter. It’s almost like they thrive on the things people say and think about them. At times it all seems so effortless, other times it seems like hard work. Either way, they keep audiences watching, and they fill rooms with people who either love or hate them, the haters making sure they make it known every time the band is brought up. The following interview was done in a small terrace house in an alleyway off Oxford St. where all six members and their tour manager were staying while down from Brisbane, crammed together into a small space with a bong, ash trays and empty beer bottles strewn everywhere. Drummer Sam was off with said tour manager trying to find the keys to the van that they'd lost the night before, which left me with KISS (vocals), Trad (keys), Liam (guitar), Brock (guitar) and new guy Wade (bass), only recently recruited from Sydney hardcore band Taking Sides. Later that night The Scare will put in a performance at Spectrum supporting kindred spirits Plot to Blow Up The Eiffel Tower from San Diego. Amidst the drinking and smoking, the band's van will be broken into and they will lose and good portion of their equipment. KISS will get in a fight and hurt his knuckles. The next day they'll drive 10 hours to Melbourne for another show.

Where did the name for the new EP, Vacuum Irony, come from? Wade: Snorting speed with the guy interviewing us? Liam: It's kinda just a statement on the requirement of being ironic to be socially accepted. And the vacuum concept is just not wanting to be ironic anymore, because I think a lot of people took the first CD as something ironic, which it wasn't. Is there anything ironic about The Scare? Or just sarcastic? KISS: Well I wrote all the songs and they're all sarcastic and they're all tongue in cheek, I'm pretty much burning myself. When I write the songs I just write down what I'm thinking and it's the total opposite of what I am. What about your image? You have these promo photos where you look all sophisticated but when I see you you're so different to that onstage. Wade: The thing that makes it ironic is that people talk about it so much. “Oh they've got expensive haircuts.” And somehow expensive haircuts translates from living on zero, well no - minus 17 bucks in my bank account, sharing a room with KISS and having no job and no money. So it's like we've got this deadshit thing going on but people still think it's like classy. KISS: The way we are perceived is the total opposite to the way we are. Do you like the way you're perceived? KISS: Sometimes. Either way there's nothing we can do about it.

e r a c Sis a Mess the

The Scare. Interview by Osama Smith.


Pics: Silvana Macarone

(LtoR) Wade Keighran, Kiss Reid, Liam O’Brien Brock: Well those people are thinking about it more than we are, and talking about something that's not even relevant. Trad: I think when people see us they feel like we do whatever we want and so they can do whatever they want. You've got a pretty good cross section of every kind of loser at your shows. KISS: I think a lot of the people that like us and come to the shows are pretty mental.

defend itself with its horns. So she's kinda like a noble, or a strong woman. Wade: That shuts people up. You guys play with a lot of different kinds of bands - from The Used to Wolfmother to Die!Die!Die!. Where do you see yourselves in the Australian scene? Brock: Nowhere. We don't fit anywhere, but it's good because we can play anywhere and it doesn't matter. Trad: We get on with members of bands, but not musically. KISS: We just like to tour with bands that like to get drunk really. Trad: Blood Brothers and Plot [To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower] - both those bands, they do what they want totally and it's an inspiration.

“Below Par is shit. I seriously do not like any band on that label, they are all shit.” KISS

Why do you have naked half naked girls on the covers of both your records? How does that fit in with everything? KISS: Because we're very sexual. Wade: Because you're not meant to do it. Liam: It fits in with the concepts of the records. The first one (Masochist Mimes) is about masochism and you've got a fairly sexy looking girl in a body bag, meaning she's dead or about to be dead. The second record (Vaccum Irony) is irony. Again you can see it as misogynist, but really it's like a positive statement about a female with deer horns in front of her private parts. Saying she's defending herself, kinda like a deer would

Is that why you've felt the need to relocate overseas, because things seem stagnant here? KISS: Yep, Australia is a really dead scene. You go up and down the coast to the same cities and the same places and the same faces. It's too boring to keep doing that.


You said you don't really feel akin to any bands, so why does that matter? KISS: Yeah but I just don't wanna be associated with those bands, because especially in that scene you just get given a label and everything immediately says you're a pop punk or screamo band. So in that way you do care what people think about you? KISS: The only thing I care about is that we don't get pigeonholed. I don't care what people think about me I just don't want to be stuck in that scene because I hate it. Wade: We're keen observers of what we don't like, more than what we do like. Why did you change your name to KISS? KISS: Because it means I have an excuse to go and be a cunt and that's always a good thing. It's like building an ego. You don't give people a choice to decide whether you're a rock star or not, you tell them you are and you can do what you want. Do you think anyone is gonna call you KISS? Wade: I call him KISS every day! His Mum even calls him KISS. I found out the other day his name isn't even Lucas, it's actually Luke. That's the first time I've even heard that.

“In five years time I'll probably be a crack-whore giving blowies, I dunno.” KISS

You've already had two member changes since you started, in like a year. KISS: We're building an army you see, there's no weak links. If you're weak, you're cut. You're fired.

So how's the new guy fitting in? Wade, block your ears. KISS: He's okay (laughing). Wade: Do you want me to leave? Trad: He's the perfect match. How did that come about? I mean it's kinda like the perfect fit now, but who even thought of it? Trad: We didn't think about it really, it was weird. KISS: We'd just kicked Benny out, or sorry, he was dismissed, and Taking Sides were playing a show and I went down just to hang out with Wade. But when I got there I was standing near the back door just talking with him and all the other guys kinda just turned up and we were standing there. And then a friend of ours, Andy, saw Wade and said, “You look like you're in The fucking Scare.” And we all kinda laughed and then we kinda just kept talking until we'd figured Wade should actually join the band. And then we got all really excited. It was pretty quick. He kinda moved up [from Sydney] the next week and we were recording and touring the week after that. Trad: You have to explain your situation too, Wade. KISS: Yeah, his life sucked... Wade: I was pretty much burning holes in everything in Sydney, you know the story. And there was probably even a whole lot of stories I don't even know that were going around. And I was hating it. I'd been drinking buddies with these guys ever since I met 'em and I'm a big fan or whatever, and yeah when they asked me I said I'd think about it. But straight away I knew that it was I wanted to do. I'm still really close to the Taking Sides guys, but I'm happier now. Brock: And that's how The Scare ruined the hardcore scene anyway!

(LtoR) Sam Pearton, Trad Nathan, Brock Fitzgerald

62

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

How do your tours work? With six dudes all drinking way too much, how does it stay together? Wade: Well we have a babysitter now. Phil is our roadie and he's the official seventh member. He's even coming to London with us. KISS We're fairly used to touring now. I just love it, I love being in a band and I hate it when I'm at home. Every time I'm not on tour I'm just bummed out. Wade: I've been getting cabin fever. Me and KISS share a room now and we've just been bored out of our brains waiting for this tour to begin and now that it's on I feel... *KISS starts singing a song about being alive*. Yeah, but once we get in the van, it's just party time. Though I've only been in the van like four times. KISS: And we've never had a fight, because we're all too pussy so we keep the fights in our heads. There's times where we all sit there hating each other, but there's no psychical fighting. Wade: That's because you'd just get naked. Tell me the story about holding a girl hostage for weed? Wade: I haven't heard this one either! KISS: We were in Melbourne and about to go to Canberra but we figured out we had no weed so we all freaked out and cried and shit. So we were going to housing commission areas and trying to find places to buy weed. Trad: We went to some place where you had to knock a certain way and then this guy opens a little hatch with a tiny hole in it where you have to put your money through. Anyway, we went to all these places and had no luck at all so we were driving along… KISS: … we found some window washer chick and asked her if she has any weed. And she's like, “Yeah, can you give me a lift home?” So we give her a lift home and she rings this dude and we meet him up at the gas station. He seemed nice for a dirty looking crackhead so we let him in the van. Three of us stayed back at the service station to keep an eye on the girl across the road and the others went with him in the van and gave him the money and stuff. And they were gone for like half an hour and they rang us and were like, “Dude he's gone, he's not coming down, he hasn't come back yet.” So we looked out over at the girl and she started running off and so we chased her through all the housing commission and stuff and we lost her. So we're sitting there all pissed off and then I saw her and I'm like, “There's the girl.” And so we just ran after her and basically just trapped her. And were like, “What the fuck is going on with your friend? Why isn't he coming down?” And she's like, “Oh he never does this?” So I grabbed her by the arm and said, “You're coming with us.” And we took her to the service station and she called him and we kept her there for ages. Trad: Meanwhile I'm stuck in the van waiting for him and we realised we had his number. So I kept calling him and saying, “Hey where's our weed, what have you done with our money?” And he just kept saying, “I dunno what you're talking about. Who the fuck is this?” and we'd given him money for quarter (of an ounce). KISS: Anyway we're all standing there with the girl and we've all got skateboards and shit. And she eventually just bolted and took off and we're like, “Fuck”. So we started driving around and we got a hold of the guy again, and he was off his face and he tells us to meet him at some place and we're like driving around for half an hour and we couldn't find it. And we got outside his house and call him again and we're like, “Dude, come down right now, we're outside of your house, we've got your girlfriend, we're gonna kill her. Just get your arse down here now. We're across the road, you know we're here.” And he's like, “I don't want any trouble,” and I said, “We will seriously kill your girlfriend.” *At this point everyone is laughing* And he starts saying, “I'm gonna get all my friends with baseball bats, if I come down I'm coming down to crack skulls.” And we're like, “Yeah, fucking come down, we've got guns!” So we're all sitting there in the van clenching our skateboards waiting for them to come. Trad: But they never showed…

Pics: Silvana Macarone

You released Vacuum Irony through Below Par Records, but it's a new imprint of the label called OK!Relax. Why did they start a new label for you? KISS: Because Below Par is shit. I seriously do not like any band on that label, they are all shit.


So did you even get any weed? Trad: No, we didn't get any weed, after four hours of bullshit we had to leave. But when we got to Canberra it was a very different story. KISS: But we kept his number and every time we're in Melbourne we just prank call him with some lame shit. I saw him on a tram once too and I was like, “Fuck that's the guy.” But we didn't get to him. What happened with you guys and Irrelevant on tour? Trad: Oh that was the worst ever. KISS: It was the first night of the tour and we were in Coffs Harbour, the dodgiest place on earth. And some guy gave Benny a pill and Benny just fucking lost his head. He ran off and disappeared for like an hour and we were all just sitting outside really stoned and he comes bolting down the path really fast and there were these chairs just sitting there. Like, really thick ones and he just runs straight into them and snaps the arm off, and does a front flip and lands on his back. We're just like, “What the fuck?” And then he gets up and keeps on running and falls face-first into a palm tree. He gets up and he's like, “What the fuck are you doing to me man?” Like talking to the tree! And he turns around and just runs into Irrelevant's room, slams the door and just jumps into one of their beds. I think it was Mick (Anderson)'s bed. And Benny is like, “What the fuck are you doing in bed?” and Mick just goes, “This is my bed.” And Benny just kept freaking out at them. So all the Irrelevant guys just took off their shirts and their pants and starting dancing around him and trying to spoon him and shit. Liam: And yelling, “It's a gay party everybody!” KISS: And we're just outside laughing so hard. They kept pushing their nipples up to the window and stuff. I was so stoned I was just in the garden laughing so hard I almost dug a hole in the garden. Pic: Silvana Macarone Trad: Benny was freaking out so hard though, we just had to get him out of there.

KISS: He comes out of the room and they came up behind him and like whispered in his ears and licked him and stuff. And he turns around and kicks like the biggest guy, Mick, in the arse. The dude's just like freaking out trying to fight them all. So we had to get him into a headlock and drag him back into his own room and put him to bed. Trad: Every time he got drunk he'd do shit like that. Brock: I've had to take him on a couple of times. Wade: All I know about the guy is watching him play air drums to Converge at Mona Vale Hotel. Tell us about Mona Vale. Trad: Oh fuck, that was weird. When we arrived there I just remember thinking, “I'm going to hospital tonight.” We were on tour with Kisschasy and the place was full of jocks and big Maori guys and shit. I walked in and the bouncer goes, “What the fuck are you boy?” Everyone was telling us not to play the show, saying they'd still pay us. Wade: I was thinking you shouldn't play either at some point. KISS: And the whole time we played there was a big jock dude staring at me and sticking his finger up at me. So I blew him a kiss. It was my birthday too so I just partied with everyone. What was the cinema commercial you guys did for Brisbane Tourism? Trad: We were there for 20 minutes and we got paid three and a half grand to do it. We just had to play our instruments for a bit. KISS: I didn't even have to sing I just had to stand there and look like Jesus on a cross. Trad: So now it gets played in cinemas and shit and we're in the ad for Brisbane tourism. So where do you see The Scare in five years? KISS: I'm just gonna be in a band and play for a couple of years and just ruin myself and die. Wade: The Scare is a time bomb. KISS: We could be fine now and in five minutes time could just fall apart. We're just not that together. In five years time I'll probably be a crack whore giving blowies, I dunno.


. WESWTTHORNE. E N A N Y DIA RREN H

B DA TRIEWSEST AND N E RY NNE

DIAS BY DIA PIC

Dear readers, ree jobs Have you ever gotten paid for thCK ME, I FU at once and thought to yourself A HOLIDAY HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO GO ONht FUCK IT, OR SOMETHING and then thoug airport and I'M OUTTA HERE!, gone to the bought a flight? I have. nt to the Last October I spontaneously wecket From r Ro States to see the two last eve bunch of The Crypt shows. I also saw a y adventures. other bands and had many crazthe shows If you want to know what EVABLY LI were like, and what other UNBEllowing pages Bad stuff I got up to, the fory are taken directly from my dia unbelievably uncensored. Kisses, Dianne.

WED 26th October 2005

Left Brisbane International Airport. Eighteen hours later I checked into a shitty Manhattan hotel that was just like the Great Northern, Byron Bay, only there's no venue downstairs (but no hippies, thank Christ). Tried to drink enough duty free vodka to get some sleep.

THU 27th October 2005

Jetlagged. Walked aimlessly around New York City until I found myself on 53rd and 3rd and suddenly felt really cool. Decided to walk south. Hung out for a few hours in Cake Shop Records Café / Bar thinking “Why isn't every record store licensed?.” There was a band hanging out downstairs, so I asked when they were playing. It was just The Gossip doing a photo shoot. I found a flea market of second-hand American crap. One stall was selling a bulletproof vest! Thought I'd better head back & get some sleep before the Rocket From The Crypt show tomorrow. I'd been added to the door list at the last minute, pretending I write for this made-up magazine called UNBELIEVABLY Bad, and was paranoid that maybe they'd forgotten about me, so I called the Rocket guys to make sure. Me: Hi, It's Dianne from UNBELIEVABLY Bad. Thanks for the door spot tomorrow.

64

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

Speedo: No worries, Dianne. We can't believe you came all the way from Australia. We just arrived in New York. Come out drinking with us! They had a few friends out on the town celebrating the last Rocket east coast show. One guy had come from Canada, he'd written the first ever article on Rocket From The Crypt. Perhaps mine will be the last? There was also their sound guy, and some other guy with a cum stain on his pants that he swore was from antacid, but I know a cum stain when I see one. He was hanging closely with a girl who I thought was his girlfriend, but turned out to be his sister. One guy by the name of Thaddeus was the guitarist from The Heartaches, who would be playing with RFTC at the San Diego show. He said when I'm in San Diego I could stay at his house (in your face, Danger!!). He also said I could marry him if I wanted a green card.

We partied in the oldest bar in New York, Lucy's, where Lucy poured the drinks. Lucy parties harder than any other 85-year old I've ever met. We drank in three other bars just like Lucy's. Lots of beer. Lots of shots. Maybe I got a cowboy shot up my nose, but it seemed like everything smelled like Maple Syrup. We found ourselves getting kicked out of Manitobas (owned by Handsome Dick Manitoba of The Dictators) with the classic, “You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here.” Walking to the hotel via Times Square, the sun was coming up and a TV news team were recording a story. They called me over for an interview. “Ma'am did you smell something in the air tonight? Smelled like Maple Syrup?” I said “Yeah, but I just thought the Canadian guy farted.”

FRI 28th October 2005

(LAST EAST COAST ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT SHOW.)

Slept all day. Jetlagged. Walked to the Hard Rock Café in the evening. Everyone thought it was a stoopid place for Rocket From The Crypt to play. And I must admit it wasn't a very rocking venue. All Hard Rock Café's are the same. Sterile. The bands aren't loud, just boomy. And the beers are warm and expensive. I had my first Bud. It sucked. And in the lame VIP mezzanine area, the security moved me along for standing in front of someone. Apparently you're not allowed to obscure anyone's view. I said, “Oh, I'm sorry. I thought I was at a rock 'n' roll show.” But it's not a rock 'n' roll show, it's a “Halloween Extravaganza”. Spooky decorations covered up the tacky Hard Rock Café crap on the walls (wooh!), but no-one dressed up, which pissed the Rocket guys off as they went all out Voodoo-style with their costumes. They put the hard word on me to get dressed up for the San Diego show. One of the supports was the original guy who wrote “The Monster Mash”. He was up onstage singing it with a girl-gang of hot back-up singers. It was fantastic. The other support was not so great: Gluecifer. They'd brought a pedestal fan all the way from Scandinavia to blow their hair around onstage while they played the most obvious ROCK chord progressions that have ever been played in leather pants. Between bands the stage curtain closed and twelve of the worst dancers I've ever seen (sometimes in underpants, sometimes in skeleton suits) go-goed in front of projections of the sixties Batman TV show. They reminded me of Splendour In The Grass '04 when Dizee Rascal pulled girls out of the crowd for an impromptu dancing contest. Everyone was just so embarrassed for these pissed idiots and didn't know whether to cringe and look away, or watch and laugh. Here at the Hard Rock everyone just wanted


them to stop obscuring their view of Batman. It was 2am when Rocket From The Crypt finally graced the stage. Only a band who have spent 15 years rocking the fuck out of everything and everyone could transform this awkward environment into a fucking rad farewell show. Strapping the crowd in with “On A Rope” and “Born in '69”, they shook the uptight New York City hipsters until they were loose enough to dance and sing along. And laugh. And not take themselves so seriously. It was like Rocket were dishing out Electric Current Therapy to the crowd: reprogramming them to have some fun. Someone even offered to buy me a beer! And they were in control, alright. I've never seen Speedo interact in such an evangelical manner before; preaching better than those guys who sell God on TV, only Speedo was spreading the powers of rock 'n' roll. Sharing his faith that rock 'n' roll will continue even if Rocket From The Crypt will not. Any one of us can do it, Speedo told us so. “Ladies and gentlemen, you're just as capable of being as full of shit as any band!” RFTC and the entire crowd climaxed in unison with “Take That!” and “Everybody Smoke Pot”, but it was over far too soon - I guess because the whole evening had run late. The Hard Rock Café announced that the crowd could take home any Halloween decorations they wanted, so I scored a huge glow in the dark skeleton, almost as tall as me.

SAT 29th October 2005

I saw a real Coke truck today, doing its Coke delivery rounds. Drank some booze and walked around Manhattan drunk just laughing at the retards dressed up in Halloween costumes. Halloween is just a licence for every guy to dress like a girl, and every girl to dress like a prostitute. We should do it in Australia.

SUN 30th October 2005

Went to look at Ground Zero where the Twin Towers once were. It's just like a hole with a fence around it. Drank three beers at CBGBs, then I couldn't find a toilet for forty blocks. Felt like my bladder and kidneys were rupturing. When I finally had a piss I felt like I was on ecstasy. Drank more. Went to my 5am flight to San Diego so drunk I wasn't sure if they'd let me on. But they did, suckers.

MON 31st October 2005

(THE LAST ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT SHOW. EVER.) Thaddeus from The Heartaches picked me up from the airport and drove me to his house - known as the Stabbin' Cabin. I opened the door to find Mandy and Melanie: two girls with messed-up beehives, hungover and asleep on the couch. That's when it sunk in that I was in San Diego. “Why's it called the Stabbin' Cabin, Thaddeus?”. He said “Oh, I don't know. Coz it's a cabin, and it rhymes.” But Mandy told me later that it was named by an old housemate who would only fuck his girlfriend out in the back cabin so no one could hear. There'd been a huge party the night before down at Thaddeus' bar as Rocket From The Crypt fans from around the world arrived in San Diego for the official farewell. By all accounts it was a totally messy night and the bar sold out of absolutely everything. The girls put their beehives back up, and I gave them Beroccas (They don't have Berocca in the States). Then we drove around San Diego looking for Halloween costumes. Mine was simple - I dressed as a cat - but Thaddeus had to find four white hats for The Heartaches. They all dressed in white and painted X's over their eyes - so

they'd look like dead milkmen. But the X's looked fucked, so they scrubbed them off and went as living milkmen instead. The show was in a ballroom on the ground floor of a four star hotel, The Westin. Rocket From The Crypt had arranged a deal with the hotel where tickets were $30, but a ticket and a hotel room was $175. Any extra people in your room was $25. The tickets and hotel rooms were pre-released to the Swami Records email list and almost sold out immediately. So for one night only this extravagant hotel was completely taken over by one thousand rockers dressed in Halloween costumes. I've never seen anything like it. It was like some kind of global rock 'n' roll horror convention. Everyone put so much effort into their costumes. And everyone was so friendly. A guy dressed as a witchdoctor gave us some prescription pot. I asked “What makes it prescription?“ He said “The fact that I got a prescription from a doctor saying I smoke it for medicinal purposes.“ I said “Wow. I didn't know medicinal marijuana use was legal in the States!“ “No, only in California. So if I get caught by a federal cop I'm fucked.“ The witchdoctor's weed was very fucking strong, so we just kinda bugged out on the crowd for a while. There was a Bronx fan / jogger who'd been hit by a car, cowboys, Indians, skeletons, zombies, adult babies, way too many full-body animal suits for the hot Californian weather. All these people dressed up and dancing in front of the bands. Crazy awesome atmosphere.

The Heartaches' amps buzzed with natural distortion having been sent into overdrive from their speed-tweaked rock 'n' roll. They cranked out a 20-minute set of pure punk fucking rock, and I fucking loved it. They're all about the tunes, not the 'tude, though their singer had some great moves (and looked the best in white pants). The Bronx jogged onstage in matching tracksuits to Queen's “We Are The Champions”, then stripped down to full lycra wrestling suits (those things that are like bike pants and a leotard combined). Jorma was even drumming in a wrestling helmet. It was impressive, if totally fucking repulsive. There was nothing left to the imagination with the bulge in Matt's pants only a few feet from my face. Joby and James were rocking out, bending over, slamming their guitars into their amps, but all I could see was arse. At many times I nearly forfeited my front row position for the safety of the bar, but I hung in there, covering my eyes and watching through the cracks between my fingers, thinking “Must review show for Danger. Must review show for Danger. This new song is great, easily as intense as any track on their first album. Oh no, James is holding his bass up in the air and I just saw his dong through the lycra. Happy thoughts. Happy thoughts. Rocket will be on soon.” It was The Bronx's first show in eight months. They played for almost half an hour and fucking nailed it. As Jorma trashed his kit and the four of them jogged back off stage I could only look forward to hearing their new album... And them all putting their clothes back on. And Rocket From The Crypt! I wanted to buy a “RIP RFTC” shirt but all night the queue was fifty people long. So I waited until just before Rocket were onstage to get my shirt. The merch guys swear they've never held so much money in their hands before. I ran into the packed ballroom just as Speedo and the gang walked on in their Voodoo Halloween costumes. I got myself down the front, but got sucked into the middle of the pit. The crowd was going so fucking nuts. During the second song an entire beer was thrown all over me - and that's not the one Speedo threw into the crowd. It took me a few songs to get to the safety of the front/side of the crowd. This was worlds apart from the New York show. RFTC, fuelling off the manic crowd, were super-charged - five hundred times more energetic than in New York. I was so thankful I could make it to both shows. They worked the crowd into an absolute frenzy. People were throwing shit around, parts of their costumes were breaking off and surfing over the crowd. I found a great cowboy hat, but mostly these miscellaneous objects ended up on the stage. Speedo was hit in the face with a toy gun, prompting him to try to settle everyone down. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is not the lost and found. Do not throw your cheesy motherfucking costumes up here!” San Diego's Santa Ana conditions (meaning that the sea is sucking hot wind out from the desert and dragging it over the city) combined with one thousand manic fans, overheating stage lights and a gutful of booze to create a dizzy and disorienting feeling. Was this dehydration or the realisation that this is the very last time Rocket From The Crypt will ever be on stage? They played for over two hours, seeming to touch on every RFTC song ever recorded. You name it, they played it. They did over an hour of encores, each time coming out in a new costume: matching white cowboy shirts with embroidered red roses; black and silver glitter shirts. All uniforms from past tours. And with each encore the crowd only got more and more crazed and emotional.

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

65


THU 3rd November 2005

Someone had told Mandy that Thurston Moore's noise band Massachussexx were playing at a place called Delancy and gave her the address. We went, but there was no club there. We walked the block five times. It was deserted. No numbers, no signs. We eventually found an open door set back from the street. It looked very dark in there but we walked in to find a country yokel guy playing solo. Mandy said, “We're so in the wrong fucking place, but let' s get a drink anyhow.” Looking for the bar we went through another door and stumbled into a room with Thurston Moore and three other people on stage ringing out this super loud, sub-grinding drone that sounded like a high-speed car crash if you could take the very moment of impact and stretch it out to half an hour. This was Massachussexx, all statue-like, with their backs to the audience, just holding their guitars. Occasionally the bass girl would rub her strings on the amp, and the guy playing the pedals would twist a knob. He had about 30 guitar pedals resting on an amp and was somehow controlling the drone - but really, who knew what he was doing? Who knew what any of them were doing? Who knew this place existed or this gig was even on? Towards the end the drone morphed into a high-pitched squeal. Then it either rang out, or reached that supersonic register that only mice and dogs can hear. Thurston did a little wave and they all walked off.

FRI 4th November 2005

TUE 1st November 2005 I don't know whether he was acting or suddenly overwhelmed with the finality of the band, but during one encore Speedo began to cry. He moved between each member of the band, patting them on the back and whispering in their ears. He broke down in a heap onstage, until in a total James Brown moment a skeleton man carried his cloak out and put it over his shoulders, restoring Speedo's rock powers and enabling him to complete the song. People in the audience were crying. Hugging. Screaming. After the final encore, when the lights came up, everybody just milled around for a while looking lost. What do we do now that our favourite band is over? What do we do now? We party! The hotel security were not very tight. I just walked to the elevator, chose a floor and stepped out. The door to every room was open, people were pouring in and out looking for their friends, making new friends, drinking their alcohol, smoking their drugs and cigarettes in this lush non-smoking hotel. This was the epitome of the rock 'n' roll hotel-trashing party. The Rocket guys were walking in and out of rooms too, trying to party with everybody at once. It was a great, messy night until 4am when the hotel manager systematically went through every room kicking people out.

66

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

It was Day Of The Dead so we went to Tijuana to see the festivities. Thad drove the Beehive Twins and I to the border and we walked the rest of the way. There were no Day Of The Dead celebrations whatsoever, not even one skeleton to be seen, so we drank tequilas and coronas in a cave-like bar, throwing dice with the bar tender, betting for free drinks. Every time I won the fat Mexican bartender would say “Holy sheet, this girl's good!”

WED 2nd November 2005

Mandy was flying home to New York. She said I could come with her, stay on her couch and she'd show me around. So I bought a ticket and slept the whole way there. Poor Mandy was stuck next to a balding woman who spent the entire seven-hour flight panting and scratching her chest while looking her up and down. We caught the A to the O; the O to the L, got off at the second stop, dumped our luggage at Mandy's Brooklyn flat and headed straight back out. Old Time Relijun played an absolutely killer jazz/punk set at the Knitting Factory. Of course, we were completely inebriated by the time they got on stage. The support band was so horrible that I heckled them. Mandy was holding my mouth shut. She said I'd better stop or I'd get kicked out. You're not allowed to heckle shit bands in New York. I met a guy called Noah who claimed to be the Hold Steady's merch dude. He said he'd take me to their show on Monday.

Mandy told her friend Johnny to hang out with me while she was at work. Johnny's housemate Jay has a cool car so the three of us spent the day cruising around Brooklyn, trying to find the part that looks the most like Sesame Street. Jay is like Beavis. He plays guitar in a band called Kapow!, a sixties pop kinda band with two singers - one being Toshi the old bass player/keyboardist from The Fiery Furnaces. I chose a good weekend to be hanging around 'co both Kapow! and The Fiery Furnaces were playing in Brooklyn the following night. Johnny is like Butthead. He gave me a gift: a switchblade with the American flag and an eagle on it. What kind of a fucking gift is that? I accepted it, so as not to hurt his feelings, secretly thinking, “FUCK! I gotta get away from this dude.” I called Mandy at work. “Have you heard of wings?” she asks. “Wings?” “Free chicken wings every Friday night. Meet me later and we'll go have wings.” She took me to a small bar in the village with an allyou-can-eat buffet of spicy chicken wings that was free if you bought a drink. They came with blue cheese dipping sauce. This was the most disgusting meal I've ever eaten, but you don't pass up free food in New York City. All of Mandy's friends were there. We ate wings until we nearly spewed. I only did it 'cos for me it was a cultural experience, but they do this every week. We went to the Mercury Lounge to see a solo guitar/singer guy Miguel Mandez, only he wasn't really solo, he had a whole band. I think that's what made him better than most solo guys. That, and his songs weren't sooky heartbroken ballads. They were tributes to booze and drugs, and I dig that.


SAT 5th November 2005

Johnny took me out to a Japanese restaurant where we ate sushi off a miniature model of the Williamsburg Bridge. That was very nice of him. I had the switchblade in my pocket just in case. We went to the North Six and drank. A lot. I was just getting drunk when the seven members of Kapow! filed onto the stage (two singers, two guitarists, a bassist, a keyboardist and drummer) to deliver their frolicky pop tunes. I gotta say, Kapow! shit from great heights on all the other Kinks/Beatles influenced bands out there. The more I watched, the more I liked, and the more disturbed I became as I pieced together their story from random lyrics and betweensong banter. If I'm to believe what they said and sang, Kapow! are all gay brothers who live and tour in a VW van. Both singers have a lisp, and quite impressively sing in a lisp (which I've never heard done before). They introduced one song by saying, “I wrote this about when my brother and I were young and we would play.” Then the sugary sweet, catchy chorus, which is still stuck in my head to this day, went something like, “And when I kiss that girl her lips will taste just like yours.” Unfortunately, not many Fiery Furnaces fans clued on to how cool Kapow! are. They were more interested in watching the Fiery Furnaces set up. Eleanor Friedberger was arranging her lyrics on a music stand (it's not surprising she can't remember all the words as their new record is more like a novella), when some guy turned to me and said, “Oh, there's Eleanor. She's a goddess among women. Though what is she doing dating the singer of Franz Ferdinand? That band is just awful. She really is getting too skinny now, don't you think?” Typical idiot observation. What is this, the hair dressers? I played along, “Oh yeah, too skinny. And look at what she's wearing. A white shirt, with white pants. And look, she's tied a yellow piece of rope around her waist. What is that? A rope-belt?” My nerd friend agreed. Rope belts suck. But The Fiery Furnaces ruled. They completely rework their songs live: whole parts are rewritten and other sections are shuffled together resulting in a medley played with no gaps in between. Tonight their songs were even further adapted having just broken in their new rhythm section on a six week European tour. New drummer Bob D'Amico (Minaret) brought much more power to their signature schizophrenic quirk-rock, while bassist Jason Loewenstein (Sebadoh) opened out the arrangements, offering more room for Eleanor's vocals and leaving all keyboard duties and freakouts up to her brother Matt. After a few warm-up songs Eleanor announced that they had recently released their new album Rehearsing My Choir and would now play every song from it. Rehearsing My Choir is for its entirety a duet between Eleanor and her grandmother, but live Matt sings her parts, which works well as his grandmother's voice is at least as deep as his. The new songs went down well, with highlights being the catchier “Guns Under The Counter” and “A Candymaker's Knife In My Handbag”. They ended the set with frantic renditions of more popular Fiery Furnaces songs. During “My Dog Was Lost But Now He's Found” Eleanor forgot the lyrics and made the band start again. At that point they revealed they were recording the show for a possible live release, so

everyone can re-live their fuck-ups forever. The Friedberger siblings returned for a brief guitar and vocals-only encore, and then it was time for me to get back to my drinking.

SUN 6th November 2005

Mandy's housemate took me to a burger shop, not just any burger shop, the oldest burger shop in New York. The menu was just three types of burger. I nearly choked.

MON 7th November 2005

Noah wasn't selling The Hold Steady's merch at their show tonight so he took me to a bar near Webster Hall called the HiFi. It had a fantastic jukebox, free nibbly food and twofor-one margaritas. The walls were covered in 12” vinyl sleeves, there were pool tables and video games. What more could a girl want? I'd never heard The Hold Steady, but I'm a huge Lifter Puller fan. They split up before making it outside the US, so I never saw them play, but then their guitarist Tad Kubler and singer Craig Finn formed The Hold Steady. I was just excited to be about to witness the closest I would ever get to seeing Lifter Puller.

We forfeited the support bands in favour of more margaritas. When we got to Webster Hall we pushed to the front of the crowd and secured a prime position. And waited. I've always imagined Craig Finn's bands would attract a nerdy crowd of creative writing students (as his lyrics are like beat poetry for the ecstasy generation), and sure enough the guy standing next to me at the front row was reading. Casually propping his book up against the stage. What the fuck? OK, I've read in pubs before. Sitting alone, drinking red wine or perhaps gin. I even read in a few New York pubs, but I haven't included that in my UNBELIEVABLY Bad diary 'cos that's not exciting. Rock shows are exciting! And this guy was at one. I said, “Hey, what are you reading?” He showed me the cover. “I have to finish it in time for class tomorrow.” He had a long way to go. I read to him so he could relax and soak up some rock club atmosphere. And then The Hold Steady come on. I shoved the book back in his hands. No need for reading now, buddy. Hold Steady! Hold Steady! It's not on the setlist I nicked, but “Positive Jam” was the opening song, and what a cool opening song it was. The first verse is about two minutes of just one guitar strumming softly under typical Craig Finn spokenword vocals. Many in the audience were still chatting, unaware that the band had begun. Finn was recounting the American history of the drug underworld through each decade of the 20th century, until he reached the present. The sudden impact of the guitars and drums all kicking in at once with that slow, heavy swing hit the audience like a baseball bat to the chest. Everyone was knocked on their arse, stunned and hooked in until the final note. Finn has the stage presence of a nervous director eagerly pitching the synopsis of a film to a room full of studio execs: holding eye contact with everyone at once; cramming way too many words into each sentence; painting pictures in the air with his hand that isn't holding the microphone. And while for the most part The Hold Steady are straight up rock, what raises them to the perfect position to piss in the eye of every other rock band is their “fuck you I'm doing this right now” arrangements, compulsively turning corners in their songs, compelling the audience with their stories of infected sluts whoring for drugs, and Bobby Drake's goddamn hot, sharp drumming. But they would never acknowledge they're up there, and they sure wouldn't piss in anyone's eye. The first people to understate The Hold Steady is The Hold Steady. At a moment when Finn had the audience's undivided attention, Kubler casually swung his guitar around his neck and continued playing. I threw my hands up in the air and looked around but no one else had seen it. As they walked off I pushed a girl out of the way, climbed up onstage and got the set list, whereupon security removed me from the venue. I found Noah out on the street; he'd been kicked out earlier for dancing too crazy. We found a bar called The Library and drank some more. Now that's where that reading guy should have been - the walls were lined with books. We were too drunk to read.

TUE 8th November 2005

The flight home was thirty hours thanks to stopovers and security checks. Picked up my luggage, cleared customs, knew I was in Australia when a bug flew into my mouth. And it's fucking hot. R.I.P RFTC.

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

67


Children Collide

AGAINST ME!

SEARCHING FOR A FORMER CLARITY (FAT/SHOCK)

The third full-length from Gainsville foursome Against Me!, Searching For A Former Clarity matches the brilliance of its predecessors without an almost deceptive effortlessness. While the debut full-length, 2002's Reinventing Axl Rose, thrived on youthful energy, political bravado and catchy sing-alongs, its masterful successor, 2003's …As The Eternal Cowboy, was more ambitious, more collected and more accessible, its politics underplayed as songwriter Tom Gabel (guitar/vocals) became momentarily distracted from the shitty state of the world and drowned his broken heart in drunken tales of regret. Not a massive shift in style, Searching For A Former Clarity is nonetheless a mature progression that sees the band playing to their strengths as an awesome live unit. Recorded by Jawbox guy J Robbins, it has a ground-in grit that heightens the tension of Gabel's lyrics, which are his most sophisticated, deep, cynical, frustrated and brilliant thus far. The sing-along choruses are still there, but they are not leaned on as heavily for impact. Instead, tempos have been slowed slightly to accentuate the significance of these fourteen songs exploring relationships, personal degradation, governmental manipulation and music industry exploitation. One of the best of 2005 and one of the best albums Fat Wreck Chords have ever, or will ever release.

ALIEN CHRIST S/T

(ENDGAME)

The second self-titled disc from Alien Christ documents the death throes of the original line-up of this ethereal Sydney

experimental rock quartet, who released a debut EP back in '99. Now revamped with a fresh line-up, this collection of old recordings is issued as a purge to enable the new look Alien Christ to move onto the next phase of their noisemaking. While wild explosive rock ruled their EP, here there seems to be more of a focus on introverted tracks that wallow in a dense emotional atmosphere. Sounding a bit PJ Harvey in some places, Sonic Youth-y in others, vocalist Kym Blattner goes all Debbie Harry on “I Want To See You Going Down”, but the band don't come across as emulators. In fact they have a strong identity, forged through an unselfconscious honesty and a will towards experimentation. The enthralling stripped-back six-minute “Softly Softly” and the gentle “Star” showcase the best of Blattner, the rather pointless “Desert Song” the worst. The naked recording captures an inherent musical looseness that starts with the idiosyncratic drumming of Stu Olsen (ex-Box The Jesuit, Mothra, Viva Knievel) and flows downward to the fuzz bass of Jasmine Guffond (exAlternahunk, Minute, Seven Golden Vampires, Baka, Hiss) and the guitar sonics of Matt Bright (ex-Distant Locust). Honest, fearless and bloody intense.

AS MERCENÁRIAS THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF THE WORLD (SOUL JAZZ/INERTIA)

São Paulo all-grrrl post-punk group who existed between 1982 and 1988, As Mercenárias are something of a timely rediscovery what with retro post-punk tightening its grip on the guitar pop charts. The first chance Australian ears have had to hear this South American offspring of Gang Of Four and The Slits, this comp brings together As Mercenárias' 1986 debut, Cadê As Armas? and the best bits of its '88

follow-up, Trashland. I've always loved hearing punk sung in another language, but the enthusiastic Brazilian-Portuguese ranting and raving of Rosália Munhoz is something else. With just a twinge of kitsch, she projects a spine-tingling power, spitting lyrical bile in the direction of then Brazilian presidente João Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo over the top of short, sharp catchy tunes that are playful yet at the same time forceful, passionate and direct. Any retro reprobates currently trawling back through the eighties, here's a spot you might have missed.

BLACK ASSASSINS GREATEST HITS (REVERBERATION)

Balaclava-clad psychos who billed themselves as Brisbane's Ugliest Band, Black Assassins' were a pack of 4ZZZFM radio presenters in the eighties putting on overtly theatrical and utterly anarchic live performances that mirrored their dirt-poor and distasteful anti-social punk rock stylings. One might even stoop as low as to call them the proto-TISM. Far from being as puerile and brainless as outward appearances would suggest, their songs stitch political and sociological themes up in rhetoric that is as outwardly offensive as it is catchy. Their most popular song at shows, “Fuck Me Fuck My Dog”, is a none-too-subtle dig at the Queensland Police Dog Squad. While “Drugs” uses the kind of subtle sarcasm that will still have every smackhead and his dealer singing along: “Drugs, drugs, drugs, yeah, yeah. Drugs, drugs, drugs, yeah, yeah. Drugs, drugs, drugs, yeah, yeah. Drugs, drugs, drugs, yeah, yeah.” Boasting twelve originals written between 1980 and 1981 plus a cover of the Fleetwood Mac classic “Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In”, this relic of Aussie punk was recorded in one six-hour-long stretch. The pants-pissingly funny liner notes - with details of every outrageous gig Black Assassins ever performed (all 14 of 'em) are worth the price.

THE BLACK STARS S/T EP

( T H E B L AC K S TA R S )

Against Me!

68

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

Stuck up in Lismore, NSW, The Black Stars are a law unto themselves. With no city style code to obey and

no indie cred to uphold, this first-rate rock trio have been kicking it out in isolation since 2002 and doing a friggin' good job of it too by the sounds of this EP. It's difficult to sum up their sound in simple genre terms since they are capable of such diversity, but basically they play a solid form of pop-infused rock that is expertly crafted and reminiscent of many things without ever sounding like a deliberate smash and grab. Recorded in Sydney with Phil McKellar (Grinspoon, silverchair, etc), the nice warm production takes the edge slightly off the guitars in the faster tracks, but in many ways the songs are calling out for this kind of sheen. If The Black Stars lived in either of the two major capitol cities and schmoozed at all the right parties you would've heard of them by now.

BLACKLEVEL EMBASSY/ SABERTOOTH TIGER SPLIT EP

(DEPOT/SHOCK)

A split between quite possibly the best unsigned band in Australia, Blacklevel Embassy, and Los Angeles post-HC noise rock crew SaberTooth Tiger, this limited edition (I got 12 of 500) four-tracker came as a result of the superb networking skills of former Custard guitarist, Depot Records owner, and Queensland rock identity James Straker. Straker released Blacklevel Embassy's utterly essential debut EP Fear Like Young on Depot last year, and apparently knows the SaberTooth Tiger dudes from a previous visit to America. With shouted vocals, gnarly rhythms and guitars that stab with the urgency and insanity of Norman Bates, SaberTooth kick off this split with a bit of Alex Newport (ATDI, Mars Volta, Some Girls)-engineered goodness called “Argentina” featuring a guest drum turn by the godlike Jon Theodore (Mars Volta, ex-Royal Trux). Blacklevel then bring their bad-arse touch with the tight and frightening “Get Crowned”, previously released on Fear Like Young. SaberTooth reply with the confronting mixed-up post-HC delirium of “Pyramid”, which prompts Blacklevel to go all silly and jam the fuck out of the blues with a cover of ZZ Top's “Waitin' For The Bus”.


BLOODHOUND GANG

Gentle Ben & His Sensitive Side

HEFTY FINE

(GEFFEN/UNIVERSAL)

Yet another great big whopping Up-Sized Super Jumbo Deluxe endorsement for the Wipe All Americans Off The Face Of the Fucking Planet Campaign, this makes the latest Presidents of the USA album seem almost worth the effort. Shittier than a kinky widow's dildo.

BRISK

HELL OR HIGH WATER (BUILDING/SHOCK)

It's like someone's jammed a rocket up Brisk's arse this past year. This Canberran setxet have undergone a phenomenal growth spurt, and now they deliver an eight-track debut of sizable heft. Doin' the crazy rhythms and aggro screaming vocals thing, Brisk build up high-tensile walls of a strange atonal melody then pulsate them with a forceful and relentless attack. The keyboards are the big, doomy, atmospheric variety that blend into the general fabric of the song rather than dominate like Blood Brothers or something. My favourite track, “At Least I've My Fucking Health”, starts off with an insane two-minute-long burst of crazy screaming punk before unraveling into a tense middle section where guitar chords explode and drone on into feedback before the whole thing degenerates into some percussion rhythm that could be someone paradiddling on their shoe. Recorded at Sydney's Megaphon Studios with Building Records owner Damian Coward acting as co-producer with Gordon Wood, Hell Or High Water is a quality release and one that sets Brisk apart from anyone else in the screaming post-HC field.

CHILDREN COLLIDE

WE THREE, BRAVE AND T R U E E P (REVERBERATION) Propulsive Melbournebased indie rock trio Children Collide write songs you can really latch onto (or maybe they latch onto

you?). Simplistic danceable drumbeats from Steph, hypnotic new wave-ish basslines from Heath and guitars from Johnny that either gorge themselves on low down guttural noise or soar skyward with sonic inspiration all conspire to get your arse shaking, meanwhile their fairly basic but undeniably catchy vocal melodies are enveloping your psyche. I was captive by the second listen and still haven't escaped. Several months later and it comes as quite a shock when I’m singing along one day and suddenly realise, “Hey, none of these songs have choruses!” It's beautiful! Opener “In The Clouds” has a distorted vocal and ringing indie pop chords and a throbbing bass. The tense and uneasy “You Look Good On Paper” drives along at a steady pace, with spoken lyrics building up to intense screams. “Say You're Wrong” has verses that grow into a heavy riffing instrumental section that could pass as a chorus, though “Fire Engine” is completely instrumental. “Amphibious” is an awesome indie pop track with an intense bridge section and a repeated lyric that’s catchier than Aids in Africa. Six of the best pop tracks without choruses I've heard in ages.

DIE!DIE!DIE! S/T

(OK!RELAX/INERTIA)

I've said it before (last issue in fact) and I'll say it again: what hope has a Die!Die!Die! recording got of matching the danger and cacophony of the band's live show? They even went to Chicago and got Albini to help this time and still didn't get there. If seeing Die!Die!Die! live is as good as good sex, then this rates as a satisfactory wank (i.e. not the real thing, and you have to use your imagination a bit, but still not a bad thing). A self-titled full-length debut to follow-up last year's self-titled debut EP, this fires off ten short, stabbing, petulant, spazzy post-punk songs without taking a breath. With enthusiasm to burn and an energy that hits you in the face like a hot gust of wind, it doesn't really delve far enough to distinguish itself too much from the crowd. And the fact that my favourite three tunes already featured on the EP (“Ashtray! Ashtray!”, “Auckland Is Burning” and “Shyness Will Get You Nowhere”) shows that either the other seven songs will grow on me eventually, or Die!Die!Die! were really struggling for decent material to flesh out the modest twenty-two minute running time.

DOOMRIDERS BLACK THUNDER (DEATHWISH INC.)

Doomriders

A most brutal band of hard rockers, Doomriders are a Boston supergroup of sorts serving up a fist-banging feast of stoner rock, death metal and skate punk. A side-project featuring Converge bassist Nate Newton on guitar/vocals, There Were Wires' Jebb Riley on bass/vocals, Cast Iron Hike's Chris Pupecki on guitar and Hallraker's Chris Bevalaqua on drums (since replaced by Cave In's JR Connors), they sound like Motorhead stewed with Bathory and Aerosmith. Actually, there are plenty more tasty influences bubbling away in Doomriders' evil cauldron, mostly all meat, bone and gristle of course. With the ferocity of a pack of jackals on a fresh

carcass, and more groove in their metal than a corrugated ironworks, Doomriders wreak a havoc that is simple, timeless, and headbangable as all fuck. Recorded by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou at his Godcity Studios in Massachusetts, Black Thunder sounds absolutely monstrous - if it were anymore straightforward it would be embedded in your pineal gland. One of the coolest and heaviest rock 'n' roll records around it may (or may not) appeal to lovers of High On Fire, Entombed, Blood Duster and Every Time I Die.

THE DRIPS S/T

(WHITE DRUGS/SHOCK)

Fans of the absolute unbridled intensity of The Bronx might be slightly bummed by this tuneful punk rock debut full-length by side-project The Drips. But if my vibe on the much-anticipated second Bronx album is correct, they are about to branch out and bum all those tough guys out anyway. Incorporating a more melodious, old school approach, the voice of Matt Caughtran gives The Drips an unavoidable similarity to The Bronx, with the two bands also sharing a certain vivacity and vitality. While the rhythm section consists of brothers David Hildago Jr. (drums) and Vincent Hildago (bass) of Los Lobos, there is no noticeable Latin influence on the sound. Likewise, it feels like Bronx guitarist Joby Ford has written every one of these riffs and second guitarist Tony Bradley of The Distillers just played along. The mellowest and most commercial of the tracks, “16 16 Six”, is also the most different, showing The Drips' uncaring attitude toward genre in its upstroked reggae-style verses and infectious chorus. Of the punkier tracks, “I'm Gone” brings the raucous energy and tough melody together best of all. Thrown down with minimal care and little afterthought, while tracks like “Triplets” and “Wasted Time” have that bleak Bronx aggression, this 25minute explosion is not a slamfest as much as it’s a throwback to the days where a good punk tune was one you could dance like a grinning idiot to.

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

69


bringing together Holy Molar's cheaply recorded debut 7” from 2001 (which they claimed was recorded “Live at the San Diego Metropolitan Correctional Center”) and its superior 10” picture-disc followup from 2002.

THE HOLY SOUL SIGN OF THE TRIANGLE

(REVERBERATION)

GENTLE BEN & HIS SENSITIVE SIDE THE SOBER LIGHT OF D AY (SPOOKY)

The Latin-inflamed alter ego of Six Ft Hick's Ben Corbett, Gentle Ben returns with the follow-up to his and His Sensitive Side's brilliant 2004 debut The Beginning Of The End. Living up to the Gentle tag, Corbett suppresses the demonic violence and aggro that spews out of the 'Hick to dish up a batch of smouldering, sweaty swamp songs, his unmannerly words softened by the gorgeous tunes they're carried by and the ultra-smooth way he delivers them. Produced by Loki Lockwood (Drones, Digger & The Pussycats), this second effort is moodier in tone than the debut, and oozes sleaze, sorrow and salvation in equal measure as it staggers confidently through smoky cantinas and dusty barrooms before collapsing in the gutter. Seductive swamp sung by a guy who could charm the eyes out of a rattlesnake, this is one for all you rock nerds to tune chicks by.

GUITAR WOLF GOLDEN BLACK

(IN-FIDELITY/SHOCK)

The time has come, the hour is neigh, the bell has tolled… Let all who hath never laid ears on the extreme good-time noise of Guitar Wolf go forth and purchase this Best Of collection lest they suffer in bad eighties karaoke hell for all eternity. Blasting out of Tokyo with two and three minute bursts of completely unrefined, excruciatingly trebley and unapologetically distorted fifties-informed noise with killer titles such as “Murder By Rock” and “Kawasaki ZII 750 Rock ' N' Roll”, Guitar Wolf invented lock 'n' loll. Their power is equal to Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan and Ghidorah combined. Golden Black is an untamed assortment issued to mark the passing of former bassist Billy Wolf (Hideaki Sekiguchi - R.I.P) who died of a heart attack in March last year and features twenty-six ultra-distorted eardrum-perforating favourites.

THE HATCHETMEN S/T

(WEATHER)

If you have no idea who The Hatchetmen are, don't worry. Neither does the Pommy git who introduces them onstage for this part live/part studio release through Melbourne's Weather Records. “Henchmen? Axemen? No, it's not, is it? What? Hatchetmen! You

70

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

knew that, I knew that…” This has seven tracks running nineteen minutes, with four recorded in a London studio in August 2004 by the two core Hatchetmen, Perthborn Iain McIntyre (ninetynine, Thee Stag Nights, Kokoshkar, etc) on guitar and screaming, and Mark Parsons on drums. The three live songs are taken from a set recorded in Amsterdam a month later supporting Subhumans, where Moog player Gavin Sullivan helps flesh out the duo's extremely rough and raw garage sound. Live closer, “Arrrrgggghhh”, sums up how I feel about a lot of things.

HOLY MOLAR

THE WHOLE TOOTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TOOTH (THREE ONE G)

A wicked double three-inch release by yet another San Diego noisecore supergroup featuring bassist/vocalist Justin Pearson (The Locust, Some Girls, Swing Kids, Crimson Curse, Headwound City), The Whole Tooth… is an adorable repackaging of the works of the now dormant Holy Molar, a project whose ranks included current and former members of Antioch Arrow, Heroin, Charles Bronson and others. Playing in a similar spastic jackhammer style to the aformentioned bands, they have some weird dental concept happening and are all dressed like dentists in the band photo on the inside gatefold of the sleeve. This mini twin-CD set is a reissue

The Holy Soul

When I hear The Holy Soul I imagine tumbleweeds tumbling down a desolate Bourke Street past The Hopetoun on a cloudy weekend afternoon. The debut album from this young Sydney foursome and the follow-up to their 2004 EP, Love Has Left The City Limits, Sign Of The Triangle is a moody, evocative downcast slab of reverbed-out rock 'n' roll. Recorded once again in a cavernous beekeeping shed owned by guitarist Tim Malfroy's Dad, it explores swampier bluesier terrain, brooding more than snarling, submerge itself in a wry and lecherous Birthday Party-style humour. The Delta blues and country of skinny white Sydney kids, it staggers wearily like a weathered old barfly, a kindred spirit of Beasts Of Bourbon, The Gun Club, Hank Williams and The Drones. The cheeky bastards steal the classic riff to Link Wray's “Rumble” for “Mary's Tainted Lemonade”, and close proceedings with an unlisted cover of a rare Peter Laughner (Rocket From The Tombs, Pere Ubu) track, “Roadmaster”.

HYTEST

THE LITTLE BAND THAT COULD EP (HYTEST)

This self-released digipak from Hytest looks so much like a Little Golden Book it'll be a wonder if these Wollongong deadbeats don't cop a Cease and Desist from Random House. Such cool goddamn artwork, even

the disc itself features a replication of the label artwork from those old Disney 45s like “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. Produced by Jonboyrock (Front End Loader, Grand Fatal, Further) and featuring guest keyboards by Elea Logon (Gazoonga Attack, Tremors), The Little Band That Could is a menacing rock 'n' roll storm of high energy riffs and low gravelly singing. Imagine The Melvins playing The Hives and you're getting somewhere. A fivetracker packed with sweat and real rock passion, if you're looking for innovation steer well clear - there's not a single riff here that has not been played at least once before. About original as its cover art, this EP is almost as cool.

JAKS

HERE LIES THE BODY OF… (31G) Time of death has been pinpointed to 1995. The location; Chicago, where they had moved after forming in Ann Arbor, MI. The cause is still yet to be determined. Maybe they died of loneliness and neglect as a result of being born roughly a decade too early? Maybe they just hated each other's guts? Either way, on the evidence contained on this disc (a complete career retrospective), the break up was a tragedy. Traveling backwards chronologically this kicks off with Jaks' triumphant parting two-track single, Damn Bloodsuckers from 1995, a fitting swansong of dark and twisted no wave and post-punk. The next ten tracks are taken up by the group's one and only full-length, '94's Hollywood Blood Capsules, which, like Damn Bloodsuckers, was recorded by Albini, while the final four comprise their 1993 raw punk 7” debut, Five-Nine. With a petulant aggression, a high-tensile tension, and a screaming female vocalist in Katrina Ford, Jaks probably freaked a lot of people out back then. These days kids go nuts for this shit. Here lies the body of Jaks. R.I.P.


Japanther

JAPANTHER

YER LIVING GRAVE EP (MENLO PARK)

A noisy New York duo that visit Australia fairly regularly (well, they been here twice at least), Japanther are a band that never seems to stop touring or pumping out the fresh product. It’s no wonder they've started to combine the two pursuits. This latest effort on Menlo Park was recorded by the pair (Ian Vanek and Matt Reilly) “in the midst of some tour, far far from home,” or so the liner notes state. An eight-track EP of endearing energetic punky lo-fi noise pop, Yer Living Grave takes simple bop-along melodies, speeds them up faster than they'd like to go, then drenches them in a downpour of distortion and amp

squelches. With movie samples and additional sounds downplayed more than on previous releases, it taps the band's live essence as raw bedroom anti-pop stars who turn bubblegum pop into noise art and back again.

JELLO BIAFRA & THE MELVINS SIEG HOWDY!

(ALTERNATIVE T E N TAC L E S / S H O C K )

If you thought Jello and The Melvins getting together was nothing more than a novelty, go to the head of the class - Cynicism 101. The second effort from the collaboration between the former Dead Kennedys singer and the Seattle sludge-meisters, Seig Howdy! suffers from, among many

things, a distinct lack of inspiration. After a passable debut in Never Breathe What You Can't See (2004), the partnership seems to have entered phase two of their relationship, the bit where the spark is gone and they just make up all the songs at rehearsal and jam them out in the studio. Adam Jones from Tool makes appearances on many of the tracks and there is a live version of “California Uber Alles” entitled “Kali-Fornia Uber Alles 21st Century” with the lyrical focus shifted from Governor Jerry Brown to Governor Arnie Schwarzenegger. Loved the Jello man's DKs work (and some Lard and Tumor Circus too), and I'll back the Melvins to the hilt, but this collaboration should stop right here because it's going nowhere fast.

KES

T H E J E L LY S I N T H E POT ( U N S TA B L E A P E / S TO M P )

Kes is the story of Barnsley boy Billy Casper, an academic failure and eternal victim who finds comfort and a sense of personal identity through training his bird. But that Kes is not this Kes. That Kes is a feature film, this Kes is ex-Bird Blobs bassplayer gone solo and sounding like Tiny Tim and Ivor Cutler collaborating on a Deerhoof tribute - or Australia's answer to Devendra Banhart. Peaking out shyly from behind a rock on the cover of this, his debut full-length, Kes mirrors an apprehensiveness inherent in his music. Sparsely accompanied by whistles, accordion, recorder, harpsichord and other organic instruments, he plays acoustic guitar and

sings in a voice like a bashful heliumaddicted pixie. I think he's a bit mad - or at least he wants me to think he is. Also comes with a bonus 15-track CD of Kes recordings made between 1999 and 2002 which are less imposing and more subtle in their quirkiness.

MISFITS MEET THE NUTLEY BRASS FIEND CLUB LOUNGE (MISFITS/STOMP)

Something for the Misfits fan who has everything (i.e. albums, singles, T-shirt, hoodie, shoes, ciggie lighter, chain wallet, belt buckle, wristband, guitar strings, alarm clock, fridge magnet, dildo, etc.), this either sends me into hysterical laughter or uncontrollable sobbing. The creation of Nutley, New Jersey resident Sam Elwitt, The Nutley Brass return to follow-up their '99 Ramones tribute with a set of less inspired though no less cheesy lounge interpretations of Misfits classics. It's the kind of thing that would be mildly amusing to hear playing over the PA in between bands at a show. But if you listen to this in your home you're either fucked in the head or the Misfits fan who has everything - probably both.

THE MONSTERS HIDE AND SEEK (OFF THE HIP)

Pack of Switzerland garage fuzzmonkeys who dress like Bill Haley and The Comets but sound like a killer Bgrade Mummies, The


Monsters promise “Noise rockin' terror trash garage mayhem 60's punk dance music!” - and they fucking-well deliver it too. Based around a lineup of guitar, bass and the highly inventive “clonedrum” (two standing drummers sharing the one kit), The Monsters have been going for years now, touring to Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Austria, England, Denmark, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, America and Japan, but have never had a release in Australia. A highly worthy CD compiled for the Jap market, Hide And Seek is a veritable Monsters Best Of, serving as a fine introduction to the loose, dirty garage sounds they excrete. To the obviously well-educated people at the Off The Hip label, all I can say is, it's like Ollie said many times to Stan, “Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into.”

MORTI VIVENTI

AKA THE LIVING DEAD EP (TIMBERYARD/SHOCK)

Melbourne group Morti Viventi sound like a gothic Hot Snakes; or maybe The Bronx if they were more sensitive types; or a straighter shooting The Icarus Line; or Edgar Allan Poe if he knew how to rock out with his cock out. Employing sheets of grating feedback to serve a sultry, sulky, pulverising brand of screaming rock, their aggressive, uncommercial hooks burrow into you like a hungry scabies mite. My soul is now completely possessed. Vocalist Jordan Bloomer yells ad screams pure songs of the dead about cold fingers scraping your insides and demons with blood dripping from their fingertips with titles “Roman Polanksi

Discotheque” and “Curse These Black Hearts”. So how do these morbid fucks celebrate such an amazing debut? By breaking up, that's how. Death is so hot right now.

MUDHONEY

UNDER A BILLION SUNS (SUB POP/STOMP)

Went and saw Mudhoney when they toured here last year. Right in the middle of a set populated with classics from their glory days, Mark Arm (guitar/vocals) stepped up to the mic and announced that the band were going to play a new song, one they hadn't recorded yet. But rather than all rushing towards the bar en masse, the audience went wild for it. That incident showed the amount of respect Mudhoney have from their fans, which is a big part of the reason they've been able to keep it going when most of their Seattle Sound peers (Melvins aside) have faded away completely. The song was “I Saw The Light”, from this, their seventh studio album in a career spanning almost twenty years. They've slowed down as they've grown older, nudging their Bigmuffed sound into some new areas on each subsequent release, but it still always sounds like Mudhoney. Here they tinker around with a horn section ala Funhouse, and throw a few political-jibes into the lyrics of songs like the rerecorded version of “Hard On For War”, which appeared on Buddyhead's superb 2003 comp Gimme Skelter. After a few listens I'm right into it, but I felt the same way about Now We've Become Translucent (2002), and I never listen to that anymore.

Powder Monkeys

The Monsters

NEON BLONDE

CHANDELIERS IN THE SAVANNAH (ROGUE/INERTIA)

Electro thrash is a decent description of Neon Blonde, the lovechild of Blood Brothers' scream queen Johnny Whitney and drummer Mark Gajadhar. The follow-up to this side-project's debut EP, Headlines, Chandeliers In The Savannah is a fulllength that should satisfy more openminded Blood Brothers fans who just cannot get enough from the supersonic Seattle spastics. With Whitney's distinctive otherworldly shriek dominating over a sparse synth, guitar and drum machine base, at times this sounds like the more keyboard-orientated material Blood Brothers explored on last year's Crimes, at other times it's like some otherwordly minimalist cabaret. “Crystal Beaches Never Turned Me On” is some weird form of minimal electro-beat salsa, “Chandeliers and Vines” is like mellow show tune with a violent tick, while “Dead Mellotron” sounds like Kraftwerk and The Magic Band gangraping a squealing pig.

POWDER MONKEYS

O U T TA C O N T R O L ROCK 'N' ROLL (DROPKICK/SHOCK)

Yet another posthumous Powder Monkeys release serving to keep the memory of the great Tim Hemenseley (R.I.P) alive, this seven-song effort delivers yet more treasure from the vaults of guitarist John Nolan. Featuring three unreleased Powder Monkeys originals recorded live at the 2001 wake for deceased God/Yes Men guitarist Sean Greenway (R.I.P) as well as four cover versions from a '95

72

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

studio session, the sound quality is little better than a bootleg. In terms of both sound and performance, the live material here pails in comparison to the '98 liveto-air recording released a while back as Blood, Sweat and Beers. While that release was a fine introduction to the untold power of the 'Monkeys, this is not. The saving grace of the release is the four roughly-recorded studio covers, which rock along very nicely while illustrating the kinds of stuff that got Powder Monkeys off - “Lucille” by Little Richard, “Cock In My Pocket” by The Stooges, “Black Tea” by The Dogs and “I Like Pills” by The Sick Things.

RAMONES

W E I R D TA L E S O F T H E … (RHINO/WARNER)

I understand materialism is an evil thing, but fuck it, I can't help feeling ten times cooler just for owning this. Three CDs, one DVD, a comic book, a pair of 3D glasses, a Joey Dee Dee& Johnny postcard and some of the greatest rock 'n' roll tunes never to top the charts. Not too many other bands could really justify a package this extravagant, kitschy and cool (KISS being one obvious exception), a sturdy hard-bound case that opens like a book to reveal the four discs on the right and a sleeve containing a comic book and other extras on the left. Drawn by some of the masters of comic art past and present, the 54-page perfect-bound book features stunning Ramones-themed strips and artworks - including the three-page 3D piece Too Tough To Die - all reproduced on thick, high quality stock. These three CDs don't offer too much of worth that can't be found on the cheaper Ramones Anthology double-disc, but occasionally you get alternate versions of tracks, and there's one (previously released) demo called “Slug”. The DVD is nothing special


either, a basic compilation of clips for tracks mostly recorded well past their peak. Based on the content alone this is a solid instant Ramones collection for the kid who just bought the T-shirt yesterday, while the additional ephemera renders it an essential purchase for the biggest Ramones freak. And then there's the inbetween guys, like me, who just feel cool to have it.

THE SCARE

VACUUM IRONY EP (OK!RELAX/INERTIA)

The Scare look so fuckin' good it's perfectly understandable that they're one of the most hated bands around. Not that the six members could care less. I've seen people hassle their clothes to their faces and they just think it's funny. They play up to the whole thing. They really don't give a fuck. And why should they when there's five rows of hot little chicks at every show wanting to run their fingers through some of that well cared-for Scare hair? Live The Scare can be either hit or miss (admittedly though they've been hitting more than missing lately), unlike their recordings, which are all topshelf shit. But while their 2004 debut EP, Masochist Mimes, caught them in the throes of Blood Brothers and Icarus Line fever, Vacuum Irony is different. More rhythmically accessible, melodically ambitious, and generally better structured, The Scare lock into hyperactive danceable grooves as dualguitars slash over the top colliding into the sung/spoken/screamed vocals of frontman KISS Reid. Post-hardcore and post-punk blended with a trashiness that belies the thought behind it - a perfect example of that being the manic yet brilliantly constructed guitar interplay between Liam O'Brien and Brock Fitzgerald - The Scare could look like The Seekers for all I care, I'm backin' 'em.

SOME GIRLS

HEAVEN'S PREGNANT TEENS ( E P I TA P H / S H O C K )

Like Converge in a sickening head-on collision with The Locust, Some Girls storm into the Epitaph Records stable with all the elegance

Test Icicles

Some Girls of a crash of rhinos in your dining room. Featuring members of Unbroken, The Locust, Give Up The Ghost and Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower, this San Diego spastic hardcore “supergroup” return with the follow up their 2004 EP, The DNA Will Have Its Say, their barnstorming, skullcrushing, take-no-prisoners second fulllength, Heaven's Pregnant Teens. With songs of usually no more than a minute and a half in length, each its own dangerous package of complex brutality and untold imagination, Some Girls pay no regard to regular structure (or regular anything really). They could be playing music or beating your skull with hammers, either way they'll knock you senseless and not stop the barrage. You just better pray you can last the whole 25 minutes. This is brutal, twisted hardcore with flourishes of the power-violence and grindcore of The Locust and a generous helping of tough guy style thanks to the screaming and yelling of Give Up The Ghost vocalist Wes Eisold. Mostly flat-out, chaotic and unapologetically brutal, they slow down a bit to deliver a bloodthirsty cover of PiL's “Religion II”, and then again for the hypnotic nine-minute closer “Deathface”, catatonia personified.

THE STOOGES

S/T [RE-ISSUE] FUNHOUSE [RE-ISSUE] (ELEKTRA/RHINO/WARNER)

What can you say about the first two Stooges records that Lester Bangs ain't said already? Remastered more than 35 years after they were recorded, each of these masterpieces has been reissued with a whole extra disc full of alternate takes and mixes. Produced by the Velvet Underground's John Cale, The Stooges 1969 self-titled debut was an attempt at harnessing a savage beast that failed in the most wonderful way possible. Sounding as raw and powerful as the day it was released, the debut's bonus second disc is comprised of all unreleased material, including several mixes that Elektra rejected at the time for being too out there. Funhouse is, to put it mildly, one of the most quintessential rock 'n' roll records ever made. If you don't own it you oughta be ashamed. While the comprehensive seven-disc Complete Funhouse Sessions boxset released by Rhino Handmade a few years ago has cancelled out any chance of unreleased material, the bonus disc included here serves as a kind of Best Of the Complete Funhouse Sessions. The birth of punk rock, repackaged just in time for Christmas.

TEST ICICLES

FOR SCREENING P U R P O S E S O N LY (DOMINO/REMOTE CONTROL)

Suffering from hepatitis is nothing to be proud of, but that shit is contagious after all, so why should I feel guilty? Same deal with Test Icicles. Who doesn't want to hate the latest style band from England playing energetic post-punky kinda stuff and being lauded by the press? But fuck it, no matter how much I try I can't hate this.

I almost hate myself for how much I love it. It's a pastiche of a bunch of stuff with absolutely no poise or subtlety, so really it should be topping the charts. But it isn't. And now I've got it stuck in my head and meanwhile I'm taking flack from all sides for it. Mixing up so many styles, Test Icicles are asking to fall flat on their faces, but they don't because despite bursting at the seams with young man's energy and rage, they are utterly tasteful and rarely frivolous in their utilization, cross-pollination and flat out decimation of “genre”. Subtlety might not be in their repertoire, and they probably ain't gonna flip your world upside down with any true originality, but Test Icicles will rock your party non-stop till the break of dawn and beyond. I'm proud to say I love this album and I don't care if I go to hell for it.

TIGER BY THE TAIL S/T

( T I G E R B Y T H E TA I L @ A A N E T. C O M . A U )

Only 200 copies made of this Dave Thomas (exBored!) project which also features the talents of drummer Dan Dempster (aka Hector of The Sailors), bassist Michael Evans (Detonators), and guitarist James Saunders (ex-Red Shift), Tiger By The Tail is one for the true believers. Obviously made with very little regard for commercial viability, the sound is quite a long way removed from the ballsout grunge fury of Bored!, with a more controlled, moody indie rock vibe that recalls the wicked wah-soaked guitar noise of Dinosaur Jr. With distorted loudhailer vocals handled by Thomas, he is assisted by In Vivo bandmate Fiona Lee Maynard (ex-Have A Nice Day) on the track “Generator”. Recorded for the right reasons and played in the right spirit, I feel like a cunt admitting that this failed to grab me in any kind of meaningful sense. Maybe 200 is a good estimate of how many of these things they're likely to shift?

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

73


Tucker B’s

THE THOUGHT CRIMINALS

CHRONO-LOGICAL (DOUBLETHINK/SHOCK)

One long-mytholigised band in the annals of Aussie punk, Sydney group The Thought Criminals recently reformed for a reunion show - as seems to be the trend these days - in addition to releasing this double-disc career retrospective. Their complete recorded output from 1977 to '81 as well as other odds and sods, Chrono-Logical is packed to the memory banks with energetic thinking man's punk tunes such as like “I Won't Pay (For Punk Records)” and “More Suicides Please”. Staunch DIYadvocates back in the day, Thought Criminals showed they still believe in the sentiment behind “I Won't Pay (For Punk Records)” by offering every track as a free download at their website. And it's probably a good idea to have a listen before you fork out the dosh. As someone who was two-years old in 1977, I really reckon you had to have been there to appreciate this fully. I mean, some of it is okay, but there is a stand-offishness (I think mainly in the pantywaist vocal effort of Bruce Warner) as well as a dated quality (especially some of the later keyboard-heavy stuff) that renders it powerless to transcend the twenty-nine year time lapse.

TUCKER B'S CHUBBY

(POMPOUS/INERTIA)

How fucking sad is Perth, patting itself on the back all the time about soft middleof-the-road turds like Eskimo Joe and End Of Fashion while forcing its greatest band Tucker Bs to get the fuck outta town. Tucker B's last album, Bish Bosh II: The Bosh Bosh (2003), was an absolute monster - an epic, an all consuming dirge-filled indie masterpiece. But did anyone give a fuck? Did they fuck! Tucker B's had to move to Sydney, but not before they recorded a second masterpiece Chubby while still residing in Perth. With more complex arrangements, a heightened melodic ambition, and the most ferocious blood and thunder riffs you'll hear on an indie rock release, Chubby carries you through unfamiliar sonic peaks and valleys, terrifying and beautiful at the same time. Masterfully executed and breathtakingly innovative, it builds up to these roaring epic summits then cuts back to nothing in the twinkling of an eye. One of the greatest albums of 2005 (no fucking

question about it), if success in music was really about expression, innovation, fearlessness and all that good shit, Tucker B's would probably still be too weird to get a look in.

THE TURBO A.C.'S AVENUE X

(GEARHEAD/REVERBERATION)

Following their hearts and guts all the way, Turbo A.C.'s have fought their way up from New York's mean streets pouring out sweat and blood on pissy stages in tiny shitholes the world over. Their fifth long-player, Avenue X, is the culmination of all that shit. A fueled-up and focused, greasy and sleazy, down and dirty, rockin' and rollin' smorgasboard of non-stop thrills and carnage, it's as derivative as anything they've done, but it rocks harder. Fueled by Motorhead and Ramones riffs, Ventures and Dick Dale licks, trashy eighties movie samples and way too much alcohol and speed, Turbo A.C.'s put on an end-of-theworld style punk 'n' roll party - uncouth, uncultured, unrefined and unpretentious. The Ramones would've been proud to have written “C-Ya” and “Incognito”, while. “1(800)EAT-SHIT” is so contagious real rock fans (not the haircut variety born yesterday) will be singing it at their boss after just one listen. A choice sample from Repo Man introduces “Anthem of United Humanity”, while the song itself requires just two lyrics to make its point - “Fuck You”. Turbo A.C.'s aren't reinventing the wheel, just smoking up the tyres from the starting line right to the chequered flag. Climb aboard or fuck off outta the way.

WEEN

SHINOLA VOL. 1 (CHOCODOG/SHOCK)

A comp of assorted Ween rarities delivered through the band's own Chocodog label, Shinola is the first in a series of purges by this genius Pennsylvanian duo, a random mix of what Dean Ween calls “all the odds, ends and leftovers from around our studio.” Without the full-band snazziness of the past couple of Ween records, this studio-based material is a throwback to the early days of Ween, or, the glorious lo-fi years. “Tastes Good On Th' Bun” would've fit snugly on '91's The Pod, while “Big Fat Fuck” would've worked on any one of Ween's first three albums. Loaded with loose, kitsch drum machine loops and Casiotone backing tracks, this very informal collection will please fans

of Ween's pre-Chocolate and Cheese (1994) albums, from back in the days when even half an idea was good enough justification for a ditty.

XBXRX

SIXTH IN SIXES ( P O LY V I N Y L )

Tight and twisted schizophrenic rhythms, hacking discordant posthardcore guitars and fucking intense banshee screeches dominate this already messy second effort from deranged Alabamans (now Cali-based) Xbxrx. The long-awaited successor to 2000's Steve Albiniengineered debut Gop Ist Minee, Sixth In Sixes is eighteen tracks of headfucking unpredictability clocking in at a very tidy twenty-five minutes. Crashing one-minute song after one-minute song into one another like high-speed musical dodgems cars on acid, it's difficult to tell where anything begins and ends. All you can do is be dazzled by the speed, precision and punk attitude with which they play. Coming at a time when many bands have wised to the ways of Gop Ist Minee's noisy mathy abrasive new wave post hardcore punk rock sound, Xbxrx rise to the occasion and prove themselves among the best in the spazcore game, delivering record that messes with your head then mashes it in.

VARIOUS ARTISTS INNER CITY SOUND (LAUGHING OUTLAW)

A double CD designed to enhance your experience of Clinton Walker's newly reissued book, Inner City Sound: Punk And PostPunk In Australia 1976 - 1985, this comp does that, and occasionally it does

the opposite. When you're reading about The Saints as you're listening to them tear through the Missing Link's “Wild About You”, it gives an extra kick to the writing. However, there are several bands who are exposed through the CD as being an utter waste of space in the book - though I really didn't require any further illustration of how dull the GoBetweens were/are. In terms of sounds covered, this collection falls somewhere between Can't Stop It: Australian Post-Punk 1978-82 (2002) and Tales From The Australian Underground: Singles 1976-89 (2004). Even without the book, as an audio document of early Australian stuff, this stands on its own. However, unless you lived through that era and care to remenisce, quite a large chunk of this fails to stand up. There are still a few worthy highlights, though, and they are mostly to be found on Disc One. “Sex Crimes”, a rare Boys Next Door demo first issued on the recent Alternative Animals compilation, is number one; a fast punky Stooges homage that if released today would force a lot of pretenders to just give up and take up lawn care. Whirlywirld's “Red River” is another mindblower of a track, starting out like some zany protoelectro Birthday Party before peeling back for an extended muddled Residents jam. Also from that same Melbourne “Little Band” scene, Primitive Calculators sound fresh as anything, almost like they could be playing today with My Disco, or Spod, or The Presets, or… I was going to say Bit By Bats, but they've ripped the Calculators off so hard they'd probably be too ashamed to show up. But easily the most eye-opening thing on here is a short barrage of jazz punk noise called “Study For Falling Apart”. Performed by a criminally unknown trio from Canberra called *** *** (pronounced by couching twice), I swear it's so fucked and weird that even The Locust would be proud of it. And it was released in 1981!

*** ***

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

75


THE CRAMPS LIVE IN NADA STATE MENTAL HOSPITAL

(MVD/WARNER VISION)

Surviving on shitty third generation bootleg videos since it was shot in 1978, this rough black & white one-camera oddity comes to DVD for the first time. Captured on what must've been one of the earliest portable home video cameras, this is The Cramps cutting loose in '78 and driving a room full of mental patients crazier. While the quality could still be classified as shitty, with glitches in the pictures and a distorted audio track, it's clearer than any VHS I've yet seen, though it still has the annoying “TARGET VIDEO” title stuck fast across the bottom. For the first time I can actually make out the patients' faces and get a true sense of how much effect The Cramps were having on their increasingly uninhibited audience. Some patients boogie-down to the primordial sound with not the slightest concept of rhythm or self-consciousness. Others stand back in fear, shock and awe. A few adventurous and enthusiastic nutcases get up to share the mic with Lux Interior. The Cramps look visibly inspired, Lux especially seeming hellbent on giving the Nada State residents a lesson in part-time lunacy. This is some of the crappiest footage you could ever spend money on, but worth it if odd curios are your thing.

the downfall of modern mechanized civilization a full twenty years before the advent of Paris Hilton. Devo shoved a mirror in the face of society and reflected back its dysfunction. They emulated the sound of the machine breaking down, dousing their misanthropic lyrics in hilariously demented irony that rings even truer in this golden age of coldness, plasticity, terror and hate. Filmed on August 17th 1980, exactly one night after the original Devo Live album was recorded, this captures Devo at what was arguably their live peak. Dark stage lighting was possibly the reason this has never been released until now, with opener “Whip It” being performed in quasi-darkness. As the show gathers momentum the lights are brought up gradually. There are a few average songs that make the set lag, but when it's good, it's really good. “Satisfaction” (one of the most interesting covers ever done) is fucking awesome, but it's shaded by the mid-track costume change in “Uncontrollable Urge”.

DEVO LIVE 1980

KILL ROCK STARS VIDEO FANZINE III

(RAJON)

De-Evolution is real. Devo predicted it, time has proven it. With this DVD we can go back to see and hear these visionaries theorising on the regression of mankind and

(KRS/INERTIA)

From the Kill Rock Stars label comes a weird and wonderful visual representation of their weird and wonderful artists. Actually, some of their artists aren't that

wonderful, but they're all pretty weird. The best shit on here is the live stuff. Straight up, the now defunct Unwound hit you with a hot burst of untamed posthardcore, and later Sleater-Kinney show just why (Gazoonga Attack aside) they're regarded as the best all-chick band in the world. But easily the best of the whole disc is the showing by spazcore froot-loops Xbxrx. After seeing this fleabitten live collage of their insane, volatile retardo-core attack, this band have gone straight to the top of my list of “Must See” bands.

PLASTER CASTER THE MOVIE (AV CHANNEL)

Self-confessed cock-lover Cynthia Plaster Caster was one of rock's most celebrated groupies in the late-sixties and seventies. But unlike Pamela De Barres and others who just wanted to suck rock stars off, smoke their pot and let them insert red herrings into forbidden orifices, Cynthia wanted to “immortalize” them by making plaster moulds of their stiffies. With her medical attire, plaster kit and team of reliable “platers” (that's a fluff girl to all you porn stars out there), she chased rock's biggest male stars with the aim of getting them to crack whopping great horns and plunge them headfirst into a bucket of wet plaster. Made in 2001 this lo-budget doco is interesting enough if a little patchy in places. It jumps all over the place without really making a clear point about anything. And Cynthia's downcast eccentricity can really start to wear you down after a while. Interviewees include Wayne Kramer, Jello Biafra, Eric Burdon, Noel Redding and Ian Svenonius from The Make-Up. Going the extra yard though is the utterly shameless Danny Doll Rod (Demolition Doll Rods), who is not only immortalized in plaster on camera, but gets all steamy with the ageing Cynthia beforehand to arc him up. For more Cynthia Plaster Caster action check out the documentary Groupies, which recently scored a local DVD release.

NEW YORK DOLLS ALL DOLLED UP (MVD/MRA)

Documentary on the Dolls that sticks exclusively to old footage shot by NYC photographer Bob Gruen and his wife Nadya on one of the earliest professional video cameras on the market. With no narration and no interviews from today, it's not a Filth and The Fury or End Of The Century-style retelling of their exploits, but a treasure

Devo

76

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

trove of joy and wonder for Dolls freaks nonetheless. Though sometimes flawed (whenever anyone smokes a cigarette it's like they're holding a ball of flame), this black and white footage offers a window straight into the past through which all of us who weren't yet born can see what the Dolls were like at different venues in different cities on different nights in front of different crowds with different high heels on. You see them being interviewed, hanging backstage, drinking in bars, doing whatever they did when a camera was pointed at them. Cut down from 40 hours of tape, Gruen delivers 95 minutes to enthrall a Dolls fan and bore anyone else.

JOHNNY THUNDERS LIVE IN COLD BLOOD

(MVD/WARNER VISION)

Living up to the fucked-up junkie persona that served him so well before taking his life, ex-New York Doll and Heartbreaker Johnny Thunders (R.I.P) is seen here with a ramshackle band (including Heartbreakers guitarist Walter Lure) at Irving Plaza, NY in 1982. Thunders is so out of it his guitar strap comes off repeatedly during the first two tracks, “In Cold Blood” and “Too Much Junkie Business”. However, he proves to be quite an able smackhead by continuing to sing while reattaching it, even if you can't understand much of what he's mumbling. His backing band rock out in trashy style while proving versatile enough to adjust quickly when Thunders comes in singing a couple of bars early or late (like Bob Dylan's band). It's 30 minutes of Johnny Thunders on the junk at his trashiest one for the voyeurs rather than lovers of fine music.


New York Dolls

NAKED WOMEN'S WRESTLING LEAGUE VOL 1: BUSH VS HUSSEIN (SIREN)

With barely a mild passing interest in McMahon's monopoly's meek, melodramatic version of what modernday wrestling should be the discovery of the NWWL has been a personal revelation to outshine John's Apocalypse. With Carmen Electra's name attached I should've known this was going to ooze class all the way to the top turnbuckle. Sadly, for whatever reason (surely it couldn't be dignity), Carmen doesn't hit the canvas herself. All she does is help stretch out the painfully long and hammy lead up segments that preclude a couple of naked girlies (relatives of George Bush and Sadam Hussein apparently) body slammin' and suplexin' each other. This no-clothes twist the NWWL have put on things has completely changed my opinion of women's wrestling, which, like other non-naked women's sports, always seemed a bit of a waste of time. This belongs alongside Beyond The Mat, Hitman Hart and The Rise And Fall of ECW in the wrestling DVD hall of fame.

SODOM LORDS OF DEPRAVITY PART 1 (S P V / R I O T ) As a fucked-up metal head kid I was so into Sodom. I got sucked into them initially simply because they seemed evil, but I found the rawness and dodginess of the

music quite endearing. Sodom could never reach the level of technicality of most other bands so instead they invented some evil sounding names for themselves, strapped on bullet belts and as many studded wristbands as their puny little teenage arms would allow, drank loads of cheap beer, and bashed out faster, heavier, sloppier versions of Motorhead songs with evil titles inspired by Venom like “In The Sign Of Evil” and “Outbreak Of Evil”. If one thing comes across loud and clear in this doco, besides former drummer Christian Witchunter's complete inability to get along with any guitarist Sodom recruited, it's their utter devotion to drinking and partying. If they weren't so into evil they could've easily become Tankard. Lords Of Depravity includes interviews with members of Tankard and Kreator, as well as roadies, managers and former Sodom associates. Mainly it revolves around the recollections of leader Tom Angelripper (vocals/bass), who dodged a career down a mineshaft with thrash metal. Made in Deustchland, it's in German with English subtitles, but the subtitling seems like it's been done by a German crackhead who learned English via correspondence. There is also a second disc jammed full of live material, but disappointingly, it’s all recent stuff featuring the current line-up of Angelripper, Bernemann (guitar) and Bobby Schottkowski (drums).

Sodom


PROFOUNDLY DISTURBING: SHOCKING MOVIES THAT CHANGED HISTORY JOE BOB BRIGGS (PLEXUS)

[Tarantino] not call it 'homage' or 'stealing' but, taking a word from the music industry, 'sampling'. He is, after all, 'the first rock-star director,' according to Jeff Dawson, author of Quentin Tarantino: The Cinema Of Cool.” Profoundly Disturbing is a good, fun read and also the coolest book I have found in Hurstville Library so far.

1001 ALBUMS YOU MUST HEAR BEFORE YOU DIE

COMPILED BY ROBERT DIMERY (ABC CLASSICS)

INNER CITY SOUND: PUNK AND POST-PUNK IN AUSTRALIA 1976-1985 COMPILED BY CLINTON WALKER (VERSE CHORUS PRESS)

With a 10-Gallon hat, pronounced Texan drawl, and tongue sharper than Jeffrey Dahmer's switchblade, Joe Bob Briggs used to crack me up as the guy who introduced many of the Herschell Gordon Lewis films I had on VHS in the nineties. Later I was disappointed to find out that he's not actually a drunken redneck but one of these scholarly types who has a diploma or two and has worked on magazines and newspapers all over America. (He's also appeared in films, the most famous being John Woo's Face/Off). With Profoundly Disturbing, Joe Bob probes into some of the most significant psychotronic films of alltime. Set out as a series of lengthy essays, Briggs offers a mixture of fact, insight and critique as he examines the impact of his selected films, not only on the world of cinema, but on society at large, often applying a wit keen enough to slice your sides open. He thinks laterally about his subjects and researches thoroughly, determined not to merely re-write synopses or churn out the same clichéd opinion on already heavily scrutinized movies like The Exorcist, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Blood Feast. While his choice of films is mostly spoton (few could argue with the inclusion of Shaft, The Wild Bunch, Deep Throat, The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, etc), David Cronenberg's Crash is at least one film that seems a little out of place as far as significance goes. But the psychology behind the film (not to mention the weird sex) gives Briggs plenty to waffle on about. His piece on Reservoir Dogs is particularly insightful, as he addresses Quentin Tarantino's blatant theft of ideas from Ringo Lam's 1989 Chinese action flick City On Fire. “My suggestion,” writes Briggs, “Would be that, in future,

Joe Bob Briggs

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

78

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

Clinton Walker was there, and thank god someone was. That's the best you can say about the majority of Walker's body of work on the subject of the seeds of Australian underground music. He's no Lester Bangs (and in a way it's better that he never tried to be), but he's all we've got.

Credited alongside Bruce Milne with starting Australia's first punk fanzine Pulp in 1977, Walker has published many books on Australian culture, from punk rock (Stranded) to Aboriginal country and western music (Buried Country) to Bon Scott (Highway To Hell) to muscle cars (Golden Miles). Inner City Sound was his first book and brought together contributions from a wide group of writers and photographers. Using material previously published in a variety of local publications, this cut & paste snapshot of Australian punk and postpunk first published in 1981 has served as a fine resource to both the people who lived through the era and those that were born tragically posthumously. This re-issued edition (with an extra chapter that covers up until 1985) is well presented and features a vast array of black and white pictures of obscure, barely remembered local punk acts from the time, interspersed with articles and interviews with the biggies, The Saints, Radio Birdman, Boys Next Door/Birthday Party, X, Go-Betweens, Scientists, Hunters & Collectors, as well The Saints as a wad of lesser-knowns. Though he may be reluctant to admit to the bias, this is history according to Clinton Walker and should not be taken as the bible. In many ways it's admirable that Walker allowed taste to guide his editorial hand, however, if, like me, you find his taste dubious, you might want to just borrow this from the library instead. Having said that, there are huge chunks of this book that make it worth the 30 bucks or however much this retails for.

Lists of music are a crock of shit and should not be taken seriously ever. Yet funnily enough, almost every one I read makes my blood boil. Like when I see a book on 1001 albums I must hear before I die that finds a spot for Britney Spears but not Radio Birdman. What the fuck is that about?! But I digress, everyone is going to have their own gripe or ten about what records didn't make the cut, so how about I just concentrate on the entries I was pleasantly surprised to see included in what is a quite safe, mostly quintessential “Mojo” sorta list voted on by critics from all over the world. The Monks - Black Monk Time (1966): All-time garage classic recorded by five US servicemen stationed in Germany in the mid-sixties. Issac Hayes - Shaft (1971): I don't even own this record but it was cool to see the soundtrack to the most famous (though not necessarily the best) Blaxploitation flick ever get a guernsey. Bad motherfuckers unite - and get those wah wah pedals workin' overtime. The Saints - Eternally Yours (1978): We are all aware of its fucking brilliance, but Australian music is criminally under-represented in this book (he says, draped in the Australian flag eating a Vegemite sanga while wanking over a photo of Dawn Fraser). Venom - Black Metal (1982): Crudely conceptualized, crudely played, crudely recorded masterpiece from UK dark lords of taking the piss. Napalm Death - Scum (1987): The soundtrack to my adolescence and the start of the grind explosion, like Venom, Napalm Death’s inclusion indicates an apparent English bias on the make-up of this list. Drive Like Jehu - Yank Crime (1994): Rocket From The Crypt's Scream Dracula Scream is a no-brainer walk-up start in anyone's language, but Drive Like Jehu is an unexpected inclusion because no one would give them the time of day when they were around. Hot Snakes didn’t make the cut though - was that because they haven’t been broken up long enough? Lightning Bolt - Wonderful Rainbow (2003): Unusual that they'd select this album over the more lauded Ride The Skies (2001), but I suppose it was Lightning Bolt’s “commercial breakthrough”. The Icarus Line - The Penance Soiree (2004): Instant classic that did not do the business it should have. It's good to see the old guard can still recognise some quality danger when they hear it.


SPIDER BABY (1964) Spider Baby is undoubtedly one of the coolest titles for a film ever, but a more apt description of this idiosyncratic oddity from the mid-sixties is provided by its working title, The Maddest Story Ever Told. Written and directed by one of Roger Corman's many protégés, Jack Hill (who also went on to make the awesome Switchblade Sisters), there is not a film genre invented that Spider Baby's insanity does not transcend. It's a kooky lo-budget black & white classic - a jet black comedy beyond definition. A certified B-grader that come across as anything but a cheap and nasty exploitation hack job, Spider Baby is inventively shot, smartly edited, and (in several cases at least), inspirationally acted. Suiting the whacked-out humour that underscores the gruesome plotline, the cast tests the precipice of normality to see how much they can get away with. They relish taking too far all the way, and it's beautiful to watch. Lon Chaney Jr. in one of his last roles puts in an excellent performance as Bruno, the large but tender family chauffer who is honouring the dying wish of his deceased employer by taking care of his three children, Ralph (Sid Haig), Virginia (Jill Banner) and Elizabeth (Beverley Washburn). The children, like their father before them, are afflicted with a rare illness called the Merrye Syndrome, a mental condition that only affects members of the Merrye family. The syndrome, we are told at the start of the film, causes a mental regression that eventually leads the sufferer back to an animalistic, pre-human state of being. As the eldest of the Merrye siblings, Ralph shows the most advanced symptoms, resembling a gangly, loping, drooling, bald-headed ape-child thanks in no small part to a young Sid Haig's overthe-top portrayal. Next eldest, Virginia, a spider-obsessed brunette, is the most dangerous of the three due to the fact that she has regressed to the point of developing uncontrollable murderous

urges, however is yet to reach the childlike stage that currently keeps her older brother in a state of quasi-sedation. Played astonishingly by novice actress Jill Banner, Virginia is the cutest little slasher film star in history*. Her almost telepathic interplay with blonde, pigtailed younger sister Elizabeth is both the creepiest and coolest thing about Spider Baby. Like the film itself, the two younger sisters project an unpredictable blend of innocence, viciousness, detachment, passion, adorability, sensuality, ghoulishness, cunning, and, above all else, total insanity. The basic storyline goes that Bruno and the Merrye children's reclusive existence is

Horror Picture Show (1975), Eraserhead (1977) and Eating Raoul (1982), while the image of knife-wielding, wild-eyed Elizabeth and Virginia storming down the front steps of the Merrye house in nightgowns could've very well been a dress rehearsal for the Manson murders several years later. If Susan Atkins, Patricia Crenwinkle and Leslie Van Houten had've jumped up on the stand in '69 and testified that Spider Baby made them do it Charlie would've been let off in a second. The authorities probably would've locked up Jack Hill instead. Surviving as a cult classic on video in the eighties transferred from scratchy 16mm prints, the original 35mm answer print was re-discovered in the latenineties and the soundtrack remastered to coincide with a mini relaunch. The highly recommended DVD edition (with commentary by Hill) is probably the most convenient way of seeing what is an undisputed high watermark in horror comedy. If Spider Baby ain't The Maddest Story Ever Told, it's right up there. * Jill Banner (real name: Mary Kathryn Molumby) died in a car crash in 1982.

disturbed when two distant relatives, Emily Howe (Carol Ohmart from The House on Haunted Hill) and her brother Peter (Quinn Redeker - the dude later wrote The Deer Hunter) show up with designs on staking claim to the family's apparent fortune. Accompanying the pair is their lawyer, Schlocker (Karl Schanzer), and his secretary, Ann (Mary Mitchell from Dementia 13), who help complete a perfect little quartet of ripe victims - “fat, juicy bugs,” as Virginia would call them. Touching upon themes that had already been explored in the drawings of Charles Addams as well as films like Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), The Bad Seed (1956), Psycho (1960) and Children of The Damned (1960), Spider Baby is its own original slice (no pun intended) of horror and offbeat humour. Its dinner scene preempts similar scenes in The Rocky

DEADLY WEAPONS (1973)

DOUBLE AGENT 73 (1974) Two atrocities from the greatest bad female film director of all time, Doris Wishman (R.I.P), starring the most untalented bigbreasted actress of all time, Chesty Morgan (billed here as Zsa Zsa, though born Lillian Wilczkowsky), an unattractive and completely untalented Polish lass who just happened to be blessed with gazoongas from outer space. If you're thinking there's some sex appeal here, don't - Chesty is as hard-on deflating as seeing your naked grandmother spread-eagle. In Deadly Weapons she stars as Crystal, an ad executive who avenges the death of her gangster boyfriend by tracking down his killers (one of whom is porn legend Harry Reams) and smothering them with her grotesque oversized chest. Later she finds out her own father was behind the whole thing and they shoot each other dead. In Double Agent 73 she plays female secret agent, Jane Genet, who snuffs out every member of a communist-run heroin

ring one by one and snaps pictures of their corpses with a spy camera implanted in her left bosom. The catch is, the camera is a time bomb inside and if she isn't back at HQ by the allotted hour her mammaries are going to be blown sky high. That's one mess you wouldn't want to be around to clean up. Both flicks are out separately on DVD through Something Weird/Siren Entertainment.

ALSO SAW: PARADISE LOST (1996)

The '96 doco that shed light on the plight of the West Memphis 3, Paradise Lost is now available as a double disc DVD set packaged with its 2000 sequel, Revelations. A pair of emotion-charged films that focus on the court hearings that convicted Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley of the brutal slaying of three young schoolboys in a sleepy town in Arkansas, the filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky (who later made Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster) compel you to believe the three accused were guilty of nothing more than wearing black and listening to metal in a town, like many in America, where everything bad is blamed on Satanism. The apparent bias of the filmmakers and the sympathy they offer the defendants is liable to stir up a certain cynicism towards the production, but regardless of any spin that has been applied - indeed, regardless of whether the WM3 are even guilty or not - there's enough courtroom footage here to convince you that the police “investigation” was at the very least botched, and that there was nowhere near sufficient evidence to convict these three trashy metalheads. They're out now on DVD as a package through Warped/Inertia.

CHARLIE & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (2005) I went in watching this with a chip on my shoulder already because of Tim Burton dissing Willy Wonka (1971) and calling it trite. Well call me sappy and give me a double helping of treacle, Tim - extra saccharine motherfucker because no amount of mushy flashbacks with Christopher Lee can ever touch Gene Wilder's performance in that film. I couldn't understand a fucking word Burton's oompa loompas were saying. And as for switching the golden geese to nut-cracking squirrels, well it's obvious those egg council creeps have got to him too. I know which version Channel 7 will still be carting out in 20 years, and it won't be this sickeningly maudlin Disney pap.

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

79


PUNK: ATTITUDE

(2005) Is there anything better than watching old footage and listening to stories about the importance of The MC5, Stooges, New York Dolls, Ramones, Sex Pistols, etc? If you answered â&#x20AC;&#x153;noâ&#x20AC;? to the above question then the first half of this much-publicised doco by dreadlocked Clash associate, DJ and filmmaker Don Letts, will have you in orgiastic raptures. Letts even chucks in snippets of pre-punk bands like The Count Five and Question Mark & The Mysterians for your masturbatory pleasure. A highly professional production that does a decent job of re-telling the generic history of the punk movement, Punk: Attitude is let down by several factors, the first of which is its restrictive feature-film running time. While Letts does his utmost to cover as many bases as possible, there are still so many bands only mentioned in passing or not mentioned at all (The Saints, Devo, Butthole Surfers

Velvet Underground

Sex Pistols

all come instantly to mind) that a 12-part series might have been a more appropriate than a 90-minute film. With an overabundance of material to draw from, Letts is able to leave you wanting more most of the time. The decisions about what to include and what to leave out would've probably caused anyone sleepless nights, and it's only occasionally that Letts gets it wrong. Most regrettably, he lets his vanity get in the way and includes a bit about how important he was(!), employing several willing interviewees to talk up the fact that he spun some vinyl in a dodgy English disco and created a shitload of white Rastafarians. The Specials, who actually wrote some music (and please don't mention Big Audio Dynamite in Don's defence), tragically, get bugger all. Still a highly welcome addition to the annals of punk rock, Punk: Attitude is out now on DVD through Shock with a bonus disc that includes a series of mini-docos on specific aspects of the phenomenon.


BETTER DONE THAN BETTER SAID VOL. 2

www.sound.jp/bdtbs_fanzine Email: better_done_than_better_said@hotmail.com Cost: Free. Format: A4(ish) size. 44 pages - b&w.

If you read issue UB#1 you may remember the email from Better Done Than Better Said editor Takumi Shouji where he told me that he would post us this back issue of his awesome 'zine and that: “Money is unnecessary because mail has been sent by Australia it is happy!!” This is an amazing perfect-bound 44-pager with a glossy cover and a free 13-track CD-R featuring many spasticated Japanese screamo and post-hardcore bands. Like the 8-page Vol. 2.5 reviewed last issue, the whole thing is in Japanese except for the band names, which are in English. Spotting the cross-references in the interviews with local Jap bands was fun. Fugazi is mentioned in just about every interview, with usual suspects Sonic Youth, Superchunk, Weezer and Mogwai scattered about the place. Mie group Amok namecheck Radiohead, Deep Purple, Mars Volta and Thee Michelle Gun Elephant among others, while Tokyo’s Black Line Fever throw Planes Mistaken For Stars, Converge, Elliott Smith, Nomeanso and Love Like… Electrocution (Jordan from Black Line Fever is an Aussie who played in Love Like…) into the conversation. I can even make out one bit where they're obviously saying they got the name Black Line Fever from Motorhead's “White Line Fever” - at least that's what I think they're obviously saying! Another good game for non-Jap speakers to play is found in the back section featuring several pages of live pics. What you do is read the band's name, look at their picture, then try to imagine what they sound like. How do you reckon a band called Fountain Of Rich Aroma would sound? What about My Head Swims, or We Are!, or 3nd? Thankfully the CD-R allows you to hear some of these crazy-sounding bands, the best of them being Amok, Black Line Fever, What Ever Film and Crow Dragon Tea.

BIZOO #22 - #23

PO Box 2269 Toowoomba QLD 4350 www.bizoo.com.au Email: info@bizoo.com.au Cost: Free. Format: A5 size. 48 pages - b&w w/ 4-col cover.

Bizoo from Toowoomba is one of the finest little 'zines around, surviving to help its local scene and expose many Queensland and Australian rock bands. They usually squeeze in an interview with an impressive international name or two, Dillinger Escape Plan, The Dwarves, The (International) Noise Conspiracy and My Precious being a few recent standouts. I found it amusing that they included an interview with Jay Blurter in one of these issues, just because Bizoo is almost the complete opposite of the Blurtman's trash-talking Straight Up 'zine. This is one of those 'zines where almost every interview starts: “What are

the members' names and what do you all play?” and has a lot of nice reviews for really shitty records like Transplants and Cog. I have no beef with someone backing what I believe to be a shit record, but there are some reviews here where the reviewer obviously thinks the record is a steaming heap of excrement, yet they pinch their noses and tiptoe around half-heartedly talking up its good points. Presidents Of The USA get a polite thumbs-down when really they deserve to be literarily mauled to death. Editor Jeremy even goes easy on UB#1 in the 'zine reviews section!

FRIEDCAT #5

PO Box 1518 Geelong VIC 3220 www.chesshire.com.au Email: friedcat@rock.com Cost: Free. Format: A4 size. 16 pages - b&w.

I'd consider moving to Geelong if it meant decreasing the chance of ever missing an issue of Friedcat. Boasting the sharp wit and hand-scrawling skills of ex-Tassie lad Rick Chesshire, this is one helluva cool free 'zine that blends rock music, comic-book art and off-the-wall humour (very much like Chesshire's previous 'zine Clunk). Past Friedcat covers have boasted the likes of Melbournians The Specimens and Spencer P. Jones, but issue #5 had some band called The Holy Curse. Thinking I must be losing touch, I quickly opened up to see why I hadn't heard of them before when the first paragraph of the article informed me they were Radio Birdman and Saints fans from France touring Oz. How cultural. Poppin' Mommas have been around since I was barely old enough to be sneaking into pubs, and, according to the interview in this issue, they're still going. Rick's doodles accompany most of the articles and his comic strips are hilarious - the one-page Iommi Vice starring Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler is pure gold. Send Rick money and ask for some back issues 'cos you really need to get Fried.

FUNNY SHIT #1

POO Box 983 Darlinghurst NSW 1300 Cost: $3. Format: A5 size. 20 pages - b&w.

It is assumed that one will outgrow poo humour sometime in the primary school years, or more realistically in the latter years of high school. But if we are to be totally honest with ourselves, you’re never too old to enjoy the inherently funny nature of faeces. Poo is something universal - a fact capitalized on by the creators of Funny Shit ‘zine. Although flimsy in size, Funny Shit is deep in levels of depravity and embarrassment. Stories that one may normally keep hidden in the dark bowels of one's mind are offered up as a form of catharsis as in the story of a young boy publicly shamed after defecating in a neighbour’s pool. The ubiquitous travel diarrhea story is imbued with pathos in the story of a love sick young man who met his future Chinese in laws after spray painting their bathroom walls with shit. And then there are the tales of revenge. Suffice to say there are more creative ways to be spiteful with shit than leaving it in a burning paper bag on someone’s front

door step. Funny Shit is double sided with a section for both the runny and hard varieties and a pull-out special poster. I don't know a human alive who couldn't relate to this. [Angie Von Helle]

MESS+NOISE 03 - 04

GPO Box 2440 Melbourne VIC 3001 www.messandnoise.com Email: hello@messandnoise.com Cost: Free. Format: A4 size. 74 pages - b&w w/ 4-col cover.

A bi-monthly magazine version of the popular website and message boards for bitchy indie kids formerly known as mono.net, Mess+Noise is yet another great vehicle for local bands to get exposure. Mainly covering Melbourne bands on an indie tip, the writing is usually of a good standard without trying to be Vice, and the makers seem to be ironing things out with each issue. Intelligently, they've dropped the bloated industry guff spouted by Phil Tripp on how to get your songs on the radio. And, though still permeated with desperate attempts at being “arty” and “cool”, they've started to run a few photos that are actually in focus. If you think seeing a gig in squat or warehouse is just like the coolest, most rebellious thing in the world (yeah I'm D.I.Y, take that John Howard!) then M+N is your mag. Who am I kidding, with pieces on The Drones, Tucker B's, The Nation Blue and Group Seizure in these two issues alone, it's my mag too.

PEE #34 - #35

PO Box 238 Marden SA 5070 www.peerecords.com Email: zine@peerecords.com Cost: $6.50. Format: A4 size. 64 pages - b&w w/ 4-col cover.

Pete Pee has been pumping out this everreliable Adelaide punk zine for many issues now, always offering a ton of bonus stickers and a label sampler CD (or two!) for the kids to lose their dog water over. First thing that hits you when you open Pee is the opinions. Columns and columns of opinion pieces - most of which are quite entertaining. The international bands interviewed are often the Epitaph/Fat Wreck Chords variety, while on the local front it's Resist Records-style (with a few Pee Records bands thrown in) now that the punk scene has caved in to the hardcore/metal sound. I only ever rate a

small percentage of the bands interviewed in Pee. I seriously would not piss on Atreyu or The Matches or Day Of Contempt if they were on fire. But I've always liked the 'zine thanks to Pete's wicked sense of humour. Dudes like him do things for the right reasons and ain't gonna shed tears if you don't dig it. Cheeky self-depreciating bastard even promotes Pee using a two-word quote from Maximum Rock And Roll's review of a past issue: “This sucks.”

WHAT WE DO IS SECRET #1 - 4

PO Box 504 South Carlton VIC 3053 www.whatwedoissecretmagazine.com Email: wearesecret@gmail.com Cost: Free. Format: Comic book size. 40 pages - b&w.

Where do you start with What We Do Is Secret? It's a D.I.Y effort out of Melbourne that came out in its first issue with this long bullshit spiel on page one about documenting the disaffection with D.I.Y culture and all this garbage that sounded like the uptight panting of a private school kid who’d discovered punk rock and literature but not masturbation. That first issue supposedly pissed so many people off with its arrogance that the second issue came off almost like an apology from the editors, Daniel Stewart and Benjamin J Mitchell. I was disappointed with that. It showed that for all their crapping on about, “It is not a part of the DIY culture. Or the punk culture. Or the rock n roll culture. It is the What We Do Is Secret Culture,” they were willing to bow to pressure from soft little whingers and compromise their mag. As if telling the world about My Disco and Bird Blobs is something to be ashamed of! The thing is, while their choice of content is usually great, the self-righteous drivel they frequently spout is enough to drive anyone insane. A spade is never a fucking spade; it's always heaps more complicated than that. Reviews of mosh hardcore gigs that try and solve Freud's most disturbing problems are taking it way too far (And besides, wouldn't the apes in the circle pit be of more interest to Darwin than Freud?). By issue #3 they'd started to show signs of the plot being lost, as they began to lower the standards to fill editorial space to meet deadlines. If I ever start running reviews of Jade Macrae records can you kindly hunt me down and garrot me?

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

81


By Danger Coolidge.

J

ohnny Eck had no legs, but the dude never crawled to anybody. He was literally half a man, yet in terms of achievement he stood taller than a giant. Sideshow performer, actor, artist, photographer, magician, puppeteer, model maker, racecar driver, swimmer, saxophonist and gymnast, Eck's most amazing skill was his ability to retain a bubbly and positive outlook in the face of such a horrific physical affliction. Friend and fan Anton LaVey once commented, “Johnny was extremely intelligent, always good-natured and one of the best people to be with I've ever known. There are very few normal people I have such a high regard for.” Johnny entered the world on August 27th, 1911 at 622 North Milton Avenue, Baltimore. He may have been screaming, but he certainly wasn't kicking. His parents, John and Amelia Eckhardt, a hard working couple already with an eightyear old daughter, were expecting a normal baby, which they duly received in the form of a healthy bouncing boy they named Robert. However, not long after Robert’s arrival, Amelia delivered an unexpected “half” twin. The midwife assisting the birth described the child as looking like a doll that had been snapped off at the waist. Alive against all reason, this mucus covered medical marvel was bestowed with his father's name, John Eckhardt. He was not expected to live very long, much less become the main breadwinner of the household, but the tenacity and optimism of this amazing half boy knew no bounds. “What can you do that I can't do, except tread water?” the quotable little freak of nature once asked. In late 1923, at twelve years of age, Johnny was “discovered” by a third-rate traveling magician called John McAslan, who shortened his surname to Eck and introduced him to the freak show life. Enduring shabby conditions under McAslan, Johnny nonetheless took a shine to traveling and performing. Not content to merely be gawked at for his sawn-off status, he developed his act from a miniature trained rat and cat circus to one involving magic, acrobatics, juggling, trapeze and the projection of “trick pictures”. Wresting himself free of the highly questionable McAslan in 1924, Johnny signed on with a carny named Captain John Sheesley and in the next few years would go on to work for Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey and many other carnivals. A talent scout from MGM Studios discovered Johnny in Canada in 1931 while casting for Tod Browning's classic 1932 film, Freaks. Though happy with the film and the time spent making it, Eck expressed little affection for his co-freaks. “All of the freaks started wearing sunglasses and acting funny… in other words, they went Hollywood,” he quipped. MGM also used him in costume as a hideous bird-like creature in Tarzan, The Ape Man (1932), with the footage used in several subsequent Tarzan flicks. But that was the end of Johnny's brief film career. With the coming of the Great Depression the Eckhardt's were faced with the foreclosure of their home, which prompted Johnny to accept a gig in the first Ripley's Believe it or Not Odditorium at the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago, where he was billed as “The Most Remarkable Man Alive”. In 1937 Johnny and Robert appeared together in Raboid Rasha's vaudeville show, Miracles of 1937, where the twins contributed to what has been described as the most amazing version of the sawing-inhalf illusion ever. “When the upper half walked down the stage, it created a panic,” Johnny later recalled. “The men were more frightened than the women - the women

82

UNBELIEVABLY BAD

couldn't move because the men were walking across their laps, headed for the exit. Two ambulances were parked outside for those who passed out.” The Great Johnny Eck retired from the freak business in 1940 and he and Robert moved back into 622 North Milton and opened a penny arcade. After that went broke they bought a miniature train ride, which they operated at parks and picnics for children. The resuscitation of Freaks as an underground classic in the sixties led to renewed interest in Johnny, who by then had become a respected local artist for his window screen paintings and would spend his days on the stoop of his house with his dog, Major, happily entertaining visitors with stories of his past exploits. However, by the time Freaks was issued on video to yet another generation in the eighties, Johnny had grown to bitterly despise the attention. Worse than autograph hounds and prying fans, though, were the neighbours. Urban decay, violent crime, drug-addiction and poverty had spread throughout the twins' once friendly working-class neighborhood, and many of Johnny's writings and correspondence from the time were focused on his repugnance for a black neighbour he referred to as “Gaffer”. In an interview conducted around that time Johnny was asked: What would you do if you could be a full human being for a day? “I'd get my brother's baseball bat and beat the hell out of that sonofabitch next door who makes our lives so miserable!” he replied. In 1988, Johnny and Robert were subjected to a violent and prolonged home invasion that destroyed their trust in the outside world forever. Adopting a life of seclusion, their remaining years were weighted with anger, bitterness, paranoia and depression. On January 5th, 1991, Johnny Eck died of a heart attack in his sleep, aged 79. Robert died four years later and the pair are buried together at the Greenmount Cemetery, Maryland. Several years back there was an announcement of a big screen biopic of Johnny's life, with ex-heart-throb Leonardo DiCaprio taking on the dual role of Johnny and Robert. A project from veteran producer Mark R. Gordon (Speed, Saving Private Ryan), the script was being developed by Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands), but with no new updates for several years you'd have to think the flick was on some distant Hollywood backburner. The Brothers Eck: Johnny and Robert


UNBELIEVABLY Bad #2  

Issue #2 of Australia's cruddiest music rag. Features stuff on The Bronx, The Stooges, SixFtHick, Reverend Kriss Hades, The MC5, Further, Ev...

UNBELIEVABLY Bad #2  

Issue #2 of Australia's cruddiest music rag. Features stuff on The Bronx, The Stooges, SixFtHick, Reverend Kriss Hades, The MC5, Further, Ev...

Advertisement