Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Major labels should take note of the Fat way of doing things!

In recent years major music labels have pushed buying songs online as their great hope to save them from declining sales. One of the major problems they've discovered is that by attempting to maximize profits by cutting CD and vinyl manufacturing costs and pushing people to buy songs individually on iTunes instead of entire albums (as well as pricing digital downloads barely belowe CD prices when they should be half the price), is fans cherry pick a hit song or two by a band instead of buying their full album. Pop bands sell a lot less records this way and we've seen the CD market decline steadily and even online album sales not do so great, even if individual song sales continue to go up.

So what's a record label to do in these times of market and format change? The majors seem to really be floundering around. By almost abandoning album sales for singles they've really shot themselves in the foot, they totally missed the vinyl resurgence (vinyl sales have steadily climbed the past two years), and they are pricing their products even higher in a declining economy (iTunes and Amazon are both jacking their download prices).

What the majors should do is look towards the indies. In a shitty economy, it's where the innovation lies. The smaller more nimble indie record labels can adapt and change faster to music fans needs and their shrinking paychecks. Take Fat Wreck Chords for example, the label owned by Fat Mike of NOFX. Fat has ridden the vinyl resurgence by doing what other indie labels like Sub Pop and Am Rep did before them, creating a collectors market and buzz for their vinyl 45s by making singles clubs, limited edition colored vinyl, hand numbered editions, etc. They also do their own distribution through their website.

Take the new NOFX record for instance. For their "Coaster" CD that was released yesterday, they named the vinyl "Frisbee" and gave it a completely different cover. Plus they included with the vinyl a code to download the MP3 version of the album online from their website. But they took it even further, the first 1500 people that pre-ordered the album online from Fat directly got a hand numbered hand stamped free single... and if you know anything about limited edition NOFX singles, you know that it will be selling for $50+ on Ebay within a few years. They sold out of the first 1500 vinyl copies + single a month or two before the album even came out, I just got mine in the mail last week. That's a fucking marketing plan.

With the release of the CD version of the album came a new announcement from Fat. The album will be priced under $10 in every store in North America. Heck, why not? The economy is lowering music fan's buying power. Plus the manufacturing costs for CDs has drastically dropped in the past decade while the retail prices have actually increased. But once again, Fat went even further:

"This is not a sale. This is how much this CD costs, and not only that, but EVERY CD on Fat Wreck Chords will now be under $10 and most will be under $8. No, we are not crazy. We just think that having a very low CD price is a fair way for scene supporting music fans to support their favorite independent bands and labels. Sound crazy? I think it sounds reasonable. We make less profit, but bands hopefully will sell more CDs to more people, which is why we started doing this in the first place."

Crazy, a record label lowering retail prices for fans and bands, even if it means lowering their profit margin. But it's not really that crazy at all, it's what's happening all across America. Union workers are agreeing to pay cuts to keep their jobs and businesses afloat, employees aren't getting cost of living increases or bonuses, most state agencies are dropping services and letting go of staff, and there are massive layoffs. To survive in the faltering economy, businesses have to lower their profit margins, which really got out of hand in the last couple of years anyway. I know at my work we've spent the past six months pouring over budgets and services and determined where we can cut, even if it means people losing their jobs. And people are doing this with their own lives at home, trying to cut expenses to make ends meet. This is a reality check after all the wasteful spending on credit/debt days during the Bush Administration.

Cheers to Fat Wreck Chords for leading the charge with both innovation and price dropping in the music industry, lets hope both the big guys and other indie labels follow suit. I think those that don't just might find themselves out of a job one of these days.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Davey Havok

Remember when Davey Havok was just another punk kid singing for AFI?

Now you can buy his designer hipster t-shirts for $63 plus shipping with a techno beat!

Seattle hardcore legends Trial's reunion show

This is the first two songs of the Trial reunion show at the Vera Project last week, pretty awesome:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Brown Derby's adaption of "The Goonies" is fucking hilarious!

Sloth and Chunk triumphantly catch back up to the rest of the Goonies and foil the Fratelli brothers in Brown Derby's adaption of "The Goonies":

Last night I went to Ian Bell's Brown Derby adaption of "The Goonies" at Re-bar. Totally fucking packed and totally fucking hilarious. Seriously. And tonight is the last night, you should go. And I'd recommend getting there when the doors open at 6:30pm, when I got there a little before 7pm the line was 50 people deep and I wasn't sure I'd get in.

Ian Bell has a 10 Things connection too. Back in the early years of the zine, before I was raking in enough ad revenue and sales to afford to have a printer fully assemble the zine, Parker and I brainstormed the idea of "assembly parties." We'd buy a keg and let everyone drink for free if they would collate, fold and staple 100 issues. Realize 10 Things was up to 60-80 pages by then, so it would take about and hour of walking around a table putting them together. But the promise of free beer worked great. Sure, we ended up getting underage kids drunk and had some sloppily put together issues (and yes, a few with porn stapled in them and there was the time someone stage dove the table full of zine pages), but it turned out to be a fun way to put the zine together. And a bunch of friends and contributors lived in a U-District house and volunteered to host a few of the parties, which was awesome, Ian was one of the housemates and always a fucking crack up, even back then. I know, totally random.

Anyway, I'm a huge Goonies fan, as well as a fan of irreverent, goofy, over-the-top, humor full of sexual innuendos. Throw in some low-fi sets and costumes, half-assed acting reading from scripts, drag queens, intermittent dance numbers or full cast lapsing into quoting commercials, and you have one funny play that will leaving you laughing out loud more than groaning when the jokes start rolling.

The Goonies run into Ma Fratelli (played by Jackie Hell) as they try to track down One-Eyed Willie's treasure:

The Re-bar is located in downtown Seattle at 1017 Stewart Street. The Goonies is $14, doors open at 6:30pm, show starts at 7:30pm and runs about two hours with one intermission. 21 and over, full bar.

Pat Moriarty's show at Tigertail

This photo is of Port Orchard, Washington artist Pat Moriarty and his son playing at the opening party for art show at Tigertail. Pat and his son did a dozen covers, including Johnny Cash, Stiff Little Fingers, and the Young Fresh Fellows, it was pretty awesome.

Throughout the 1990's Moriarty was an underground comic book and poster artist, as well as the art director for Fantagraphic Books. Today his work focuses on drawings and cartoon-work. His exhibit up at Tigertail should last through the month of May. Tigertail is a bar and restaurant located off Phinney Ridge in Ballard at 704 NW 65th Street.

Here are a few pieces from the show:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Northwest Punk Board

A while back I plugged, a local forum for punk rock discussion and show announcements. Today I want to plug another similar board, with a larger regional outlook and a way goofier sense of humor, the Northwest Punk Board. I love seeing more regional forums for punk/underground rock popping up and people networking and supporting often smaller venues, labels and bands. Check it out.

Monday, April 20, 2009

More X Photos!

I've finally had some time to edit the rest of my X photos. I'm pretty happy with how they turned out, hopefully you'll dig 'em:

Hey Seattle, Half-Price My Bloody Valentine Tickets!

They are selling a limited number of 2-for-1 tickets to My Bloody Valentine at the WAMU Theater on April 21st. Get them here, when you click buy tickets, enter the password "EASYSTREET" for the half price offer. This will only be good Tuesday April 21st at 10am through Wednesday April 22nd at 10am.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The sparkly goodness of The Heels

I talked about The Heels when they first started out in 2007 and a few months later in 2008 published a bunch of live photos here. Last weekend knowing they were going to open up for X, I wondered how they would do on the biggest stage of their two year career... and opening for a veteran band like X. Needless to say, they owned the stage and fucking rocked the joint. Heck, they were so much more energetic than Steve Soto's band which followed, I heard quite a few people in the crow saying they thought the band order should have been reversed because the punky mostly female energy of The Heels was a perfect primer for a band like X. If you haven't checked this band out live yet, do yourself a favor and go to their next show. And in the meantime, hop on over to their MySpace page and give the band a listen!

"This new raging primal grunge band... is called Mudhoney"

British writer, drunk and blowhard Everett True gets a lot of praise from those outside Seattle for making "The Seattle Sound" or "Grunge" famous. I always laughed at that shit because it was the bands and fans of Seattle that made it famous. Sure, True gave the scene some British press, but he was a bit of a Johnny come lately in 1989 when he started covering our music scene for Melody Maker. Case in point with the article below from a 1988 issue of Puncture, a SF music magazine, that did a lead feature about the emerging Northwest rock scene a full year before True came to town. They call Mudhoney grunge in this article... which may have been one of the first uses of the word to describe a Seattle band. But by 1988 the bands coming out of Seattle were definitely already noticed nationally, from Green River, Soundgarden and Mudhoney, to other Washington bands like The Screaming Trees, Girl Trouble and Melvins. Pretty much anything coming out on Sub Pop was getting bought up instantly nation-wide, but labels like K also had a lot of fans even outside of Washington. This article is a pretty good read if you're into NW rock history or want to see how things felt back in 1988 when the whole music scene that got famous was in it's early years... (click on the pix for full size)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Record Store Day

This Saturday is "Record Store Day," a chance to highlight the importance of a thriving (and in some cases dying) breed of indie record stores across America. 21 years ago if you were record shopping you would have picked up these records... I did. And I sold many of them for assloads of cash on Ebay later (seriously, me and hundreds of other people made thousands of dollars reselling Sub Pop records when the Seattle music thing blew wide open). That's the thing about vinyl, then, and vinyl now. It's limited, cool, and it's sought after. Underground, indie and punk vinyl is not only fun to buy, it really doesn't go down in value.

I'll be the first to admit I don't shop at record stores every day like I once did. Sorry record store geeks, but I put my time in for decades. Hell, now a days it might only be once a month. I've moved towards digital formats mostly these days. But I still have piles of vinyl I love to play, and it's mostly what I bring when I DJ. And I still seek out rare and limited editions of records new and old through record stores, tiny distros and Ebay. This Saturday, there will be a slew of limited vinyl hitting indie record stores across America. Here in Seattle, I implore you to hit Easy Street, Satisfaction, Sonic Boom or the handful of other record stores participating. You definitely will pick up something cool, they are going to have sales galore. And who knows, you might just pick up the next "Super Fuzz Big Muff," which 21 years ago I picked up because it looked cool, and today is still one of my top ten records ever.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Living Past Lives in the present

After the Blood Brothers ended, ex-BB members Jordan Billie, Mark Henderson, Mark Gajadhar, and Devin Welch moved in a less abrasive direction and formed Past Lives. They've got an EP out on Suicide Squeeze and there is a talk of an album this Fall. In the meantime, they seem to play about once ever two months in Seattle as an opener for pretty big shows. I still think a lot of people don't know who they are locally, or they know them as my co-worker does... "Oh, you mean those waaaay to skinny guys that opened up for Murder City Devils?" Expect more from them in the future. If you wanna here some tunes, roll over to their MySpace page. I shot these photos at that aforementioned Murder City Devils show.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Billy Zoom's pick

Who signs their guitar picks before they play a show? Billy Zoom does! Which to me is all part of his cheesiness shtick that includes smiling the entire show and winking at girls in the audience constantly. At the end of X's set Friday I caught Billy Zoom's guitar pick, which is awesome. But I do have to wonder how many he throws out if he's signing them in advance on the back.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Last night Seatte was rocked by both X and The Freeze

Two great bills, the same night, luckily both downtown. I was on the fence about seeing X originally. But for 24 hours the Showbox offered half price tickets that made them cost about what the originals would have with all the unnecessary fees Ticketmaster adds in, so I jumped and bought a pair. Glad I did! It was a fun show. Locals The Heels rocked it, photos of their performance will follow. I was a huge Adolescents fan, so I was intrigued to hear Steve Soto and the Twisted Hearts. Ouch, they were like Los Lobos crossed with a more mellow bluesy bar band. But hey, I ran into lots of friends, so it was time to talk and catch up with friends, rather than suffer through a second rate bar band that seemed out of place on the bill. X were awesome. There were times where I couldn't quite hear Exene loud enough, but over all they played great, were all laughing and smiling on stage, and put on a great performance. And since the set was all requested by fans, it wasn't exactly as you might expect, they did some of my favorite slower songs that they might not normally do live. It's funny, the last time I saw X it was also the original line-up, and it was *gulp*... 24 years ago. 1985, I was in highschool, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers opened up for them at The Moore. That show was packed. This time around they played a smaller venue, the club was maybe 2/3rds full, and it was a lot more intimate. You could get within about 10-15 feet of the band. Totally great, everyone around me had big smiles on their faces the whole show:

X ended before midnight and I knew I had time to cruise over to Funhouse to see The Freeze. The Freeze were mostly off my radar growing up, but I picked up their best of CD that came out a few years ago. They began in Cape Cod, MA in 1978 playing snotty punk and later were adopted by the Boston hardcore scene that grew in the '80s. They are pretty damn fun, and surprisingly this was the first time they've made it to Seattle in their 31 years. Funhouse was packed for the event and the crowd went apeshit. It was awesome. Here are a few pix:

It was pretty cool two 30 year old punk bands the same night, one that got huge and now plays pretty mellow shows for people mostly in their 30s and 40s and then to go to see another one that never got big, but puts on a way more energetic show in a small, packed dive bar to a younger and more energetic crowd. Loved both, it was a fantastic night!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Peelander-Z live live at Funhouse 4/5/2009!

Peelander-Z, the premiere Japanese action comic hero band!

Tuesday night I saw Peelander-Z for the fourth time. I swear, every time they play live the bring their all. They have to be one of the best live bands in America. I have a bunch of photos I'll put up soon, but for some background on the band for the uninitiated to the cult of Peelander, here's an article I wrote about them in 2005 for Tablet. Click for the full, readable size:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Le Shat Noir

I wrote about Le Shat Noir, the keyboard/noise/punk band featuring members of the Cripples, Gloryholes and Hot Rollers back here in November. They put on a crazy good show Tuesday night at Funhouse, including singer Doug singing on song from the guy's bathroom. Check out the action:

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hudson Falcons, live at the Galway Arms

I caught aging street punkers Hudson Falcons a week ago at the Galway Arms in Seattle's U-District. They put on a great show to an enthusiastic crowd:

A few more old Seattle area punk show ticket stubs

Bad Religion Against the Grain tour 1-3-91 Seattle ticket stub. More about the show back here.

Mudhoney, Beat Happening, and Thee Headcoats ticket stub from a 7-14-90 show at Motorsports International Garage in Seattle. More about the Motorsports International garage back here.

An old Fugazi ticket stub from the 5-6-93 show at OZ. This is the show where Courtney Love yelled at me for about 10 minutes for printing gossip in my zine about her, while a slightly amused Kurt Cobain looked on. The whole story was back here.

Old Northwest punk show ticket stubs

Social Distortion ticket stub from 6-16-89 show at Lake City Music Hall in North Seattle. More info on this show back here.

Violent Femmes ticket stub from 1-25-85 show at Gorilla Gardens in Seattle. More info on Gorilla Gardens back here.

Circle Jerks and 7 Seconds ticket stub from 6-28-88 show at Community World Theater in Tacoma, WA

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hmmm.... another book on Grunge

The press release below is for a new book about grunge by some New York author. I'll wait to pass full judgment until I've read it, but... the press release says "Never before has a book attempted to examine the scene as a whole" and goes on to describe a book that sounds almost exactly like Clark Humphrey's "Loser" but not near as completest. And I have a hard time seeing this as being that great when it's a New York writer that seems to focus on the arena rock bands that got called grunge, rather than the bands that were a lot rougher around the edges and slugging it out in Seattle's dark and dirty club scene. At least they actually interviewed Mark Arm and Jack Endino.

Long Island-based Author Releases Grunge Tome on 15th Anniversary of Cobain Suicide

Fifteen years after Kurt Cobain's suicide on April 5th, 1994, comes the authoritative story of grunge. 'Grunge is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music' (released April 1, 2009, via ECW Press) by Greg Prato is the definitive story of the Pacific Northwest music scene of the late '80s and early '90s. Never before has a book attempted to examine the scene as a whole. Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament says, "Finally, a book about the early years of our little scene in Seattle. I can't wait to hear all the different perspectives from the people that were actually there, not the so-called experts, who didn't show up until the '90s."

Prato will sign copies of his new book at The Book Revue in Huntington, NY on Wednesday, 8-April at 7pm (313 New York Ave), and also at Easy Street Records & Cafe in West Seattle on Saturday, 25-April at 6pm (4559 California Ave SW). These events are free and open to public (for more information, visit and

Taking the form of an oral history, Prato's tome contains over 130 original interviews conducted for the book over a three-year period. No outside interviews are included and most of the interviews are published here for the first time. Some of the original interviews include:

Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam singer
Jeff Ament, Pearl Jam/Mother Love Bone bassist
Kim Thayil, Soundgarden guitarist
Susan Silver, Soundgarden/Alice in Chains' manager, ex-wife of Chris Cornell
Duff McKagan, Guns N' Roses bassist
Jerry Cantrell and Sean Kinney, Alice in Chains guitarist and drummer
Nancy Layne McCallum, mother of late Alice in Chains singer Layne Staley
Mark Arm, Mudhoney singer
Chad Channing, Nirvana drummer
Jack Endino, producer Nirvana/Soundgarden/Mudhoney
Charles Peterson, photographer
Bruce Pavitt & Jonathan Poneman, founders Sub Pop Records

'Grunge is Dead' begins with a retrospective of the '60s and '70s that explains the rise of the Seattle music scene. Additionally, a large number of previously unpublished photographs appear in color and black and white throughout the book. The result is the complete first-hand history of grunge. 'Grunge is Dead' will allow rock fans to discover a unique chapter in music history, through the experiences of the people who were actually there.

Greg Prato is a Long Island, New York-based journalist whose writing has appeared in All Music Guide, Classic Rock Magazine, and Goldmine Magazine, and is the author of the books 'A Devil on One Shoulder and an Angel on the Other: The Story of Shannon Hoon and Blind Melon' and 'Touched by Magic: The Tommy Bolin Story.' He has interviewed many noted rock musicians over the years, including members of Rush, Kiss, Jane's Addiction, The Ramones, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and others.