Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Few Wishes for the New Year

  • Seattle's Mayor's Office of Film and Music drops music from it's scope and becomes just the Office of Film. This office is a perfect example of government bureaucracy. We don't need our music clubs overregulated and government involvement in the music community stifles creativity. Government is not the solution to our problems, it's monolithic, inefficient and expensive. Things like an 80K+ Club Czar position, industry happy hours and public relations concerts at The Paramount are a huge waste of taxpayer dollars, especially in tough economic times where we see public hospitals and schools forced to take major funding cuts. Focus the office on film and generating income for the city by making it cheaper and easier for movies to be shot here, instead of everyone going to Vancouver BC. The best thing government can do for the music community is keep it's hands off it. Allow artists, labels, promoters and clubs to follow their own path to success or failure.

  • The beard fashion trend will end. I thought it was played out a year ago, yet it seems more and more band members are growing facial hair. Today's hair bands don't have teased out long hair, they have big bushy hippie beards. It's trendy, it's cool, it's hip... why not grow one, everyone else is? To me it just says you're a trendy hipster or you're too fucking lazy to shave. And gross, I can see what you ate for lunch on your face.

  • Ticketmaster, who charges up to 50% over the ticket price in "convenience fees," will face greater competition from alternatives like Brown Paper Tickets (and Live Nation, even though they are also evil), driving handling fees for a concert ticket back down to the $2-$5 range.

  • Nationwide concert venue owners and promoters like AEG and Live Nation lose power, money and influence in tougher economic times, allowing more competition and locally-owned venus and concert promoters to more easily flourish.

  • People get over cocaine. I can't believe so many people are still doing coke all the time in Seattle, especially people in their 30s and 40s, it's like a Bret Easton Ellis novel for aging hipsters. I can understand "partying" occasionally, but this town is packed full of wide-eyed, jaw grinding, figidy people with an inability to carry on a real conversation. Disappearing into back rooms at parties for hours or bathrooms at bars and clubs all the time is annoying to everyone hanging out with you that isn't high. Stick to the booze baby, you're much more fun to be around on it. And in case you haven't looked into the mirror lately, your drug use has aged you five years in the past five months.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Icki from StyZine and ex-MRR coordinator is now a full time photographer and photo editor. He pointed out a few weeks ago that The Boston Globe added a great section to it's online edition called "The Big Picture" that highlights a world event with a large photo essay. I've been looking at it every few days and the photos are just blowing me away, they capture so much emotion and energy, they make you feel in the moment much more than words describing an event can usually do. Check out this photo essay of the Greek riots. You think Seattle blew up big when the WTO came to town, but we got nothing on the Greeks. They took to the streets in huge numbers and fought back way harder with the police after police shot an killed a 15 year old punk kid Saturday, December 6th. Each day the protests have grown, the reaction has been huge:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Seattle's new rockin' punk forum!

Seattle's newest music forum is only about a month old, but it's taken off faster than The Stranger's forums with over 5,000 posts in it's short existence. And for good reason, Seattle's mammoth punk community has needed a good forum for years, something along the lines of the Northwest Hardcore forums for fans of punk rock. There have been plenty of local punk forums in the past... The Northwest Punk-list is the longest running, had a good couple year run, there were some Tribe, MySpace and Yahoo Groups (Northwest Punk Rock Tavern or whatever it was called), but there really hasn't been a good, big, easy to use forum with lots of bands and fans until now since the hey day of NW Punk. And it's on now, so sign up and join the conversation at! You know the cool thing about it? While still in it's infancy, it's not full of assholes. Everyone is playing nice, wanting to meet new people, helping each other's bands out, and making shit happen. It's refreshing to see such a positive and active community blossoming, so let's keep it that way!

The Jesus Lizard return!

Check out this 1994 live footage of The Jesus Lizard, around 45 seconds in David Yow gets knocked out when a bottle is thrown at him. Eventually he gets back up, they clean the glass off the state, the band starts up again, and a now pissed off Yow belts out the rest of the song. Both lame (the bottle throw) and awesome (his recovery and willingness to continue).

For fans of Yow and The Jesus Lizard, this performance isn't very surprising. For a full decade from 1989 to 1999, David Yow would bring it 110% live fronting The Jesus Lizard. And the good news is we all might get to hear it and see it again! From Touch and Go Records:

The Jesus Lizard to reunite, seminal albums remastered and reissued!

In what has to rank as one of the most unlikely developments in rock, the awe-inspiring primal force of the Jesus Lizard will return, briefly, in 2009. The original lineup of David Yow, Duane Denison, David Wm. Sims and Mac McNeilly will reform for a very limited series of live dates in 2009, starting with the All Tomorrow’s Parties event dubbed The Fans Strike Back in Minehead, UK on May 9 and 10 and ending with a final appearance in Chicago in late November. These shows will be the Jesus Lizard’s first since disbanding in 1999 and the first in twelve years to feature the original storied quartet. As anyone who has experienced the Jesus Lizard live can attest, they are one of the most intense and visceral musical assemblies to ever stalk a stage. This fleeting reunion offers an incredible opportunity to either be blown away all over again or to immerse yourself in the sweaty power and driving mayhem for the very first time.

In celebration of this event, Touch and Go Records will reissue four full-length releases and one EP from the Jesus Lizard in May 2009. Remastered recordings of Head (still to include the remastered Pure EP on CD), Goat, Liar, and Down will be available on both LP and CD - plus a remaster of their 5-song EP Pure on vinyl, all with expanded packaging and liner notes. Bob Weston is heading up the remastering process with Steve Albini, the original session engineer, sitting in.

The Octabites

2003-2004 seemed to be the peak for Seattle-based surfy punk band The Octabites. They put out a self-released CD, played a lot of local shows and got a bit of a buzz going for them. The band featured Lea Nichols on guitar and vocals, Henry Leinonen on bass, and Aimee Tubbs on drums and backing vocals. Their music was somewhat unique, the played a mix of surf, punk and psychobilly, in the vein of X and Deadbolt. But what really set The Octabites apart was Lea's voice and singing style, she could go from pissed of screaming to powerful high notes on a dime, her vocal range was much more than you'd expect from a punk rock singer. She also had somewhat crazy antics on and off stage that were always entertaining. The band still has a MySpace page up here with a few songs, but they haven't been around for a couple of years, if I had to guess I'd say their last show was in 2005. Here are a couple songs off their self-released CD:

Sold My Soul
Wake Up and Dream
Burning Sand

Photos by Amy Halligan. If anyone from the band isn't into me making a few songs available, just let me know.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Spits return!

The Spits are back... well, sort of. They played a packed show at Funhouse in Seattle last night. Derek from The Catheters was on keys. Sean Spits said they are looking for a permanent drummer and keyboard player and want to record another album, it's been five years since their last one. He also said after the album comes out, they want to tour the States at least one more time, or as he said, "Give it one last shot!"

The show was a blast, but I hate it when people bring a birthday cake to a punk show. It inevitably turns into a cake fight and the floor gets insanely slippery, which happened during one of the opening band's sets. My jeans smelled like frosting when I got home thanks to Vas stage diving on me and knocking me to the ground. Whoever found my camera in the pit and handed it back to me, thanks! I was freaking out for a second, it's a fairly new and expensive camera. Good turn out and a fun show!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Murder City Devils reunion show!

The Murder City Devils will be doing a reunion show Thursday, February 12th at Seattle's Showbox Theater. Tickets go on sale this Saturday at 10am, but there will be an Internet presale starting tomorrow morning 10am via Ticketmaster (password is "showbox"). Since this show will sell out, if you plan on going, I'd get tickets tomorrow. And sorry kids, it's 21 and over.

Shorter sentence for Mia Zapata's murderer?

When local Gits singer Mia Zapata was found raped and murdered it devastated the local music community in Seattle. She touched so many of our hearts. Even if you didn't know her personally, just listening to her songs or seeing her perform live made you feel like you knew her. Mia had a way of laying her emotions out there in front of everyone with her songwriting and delivery. There was a rawness and soul to her songs, something you can still hear listening to The Gits a good 15 years later.

When she died it was so tragic, and the pain and hole in the music community went on for so long because the police were unable to solve her murder. Benefits were held, funds were raised, and her friends ended up hiring a private investigator to try to solve what the police could not... but still, the murder went unsolved. It wasn't until ten years later with DNA testing that a fisherman in Florida named Jesus Mesquia was caught and matched to the scene. Mia finally got her trial and Mesquia was convicted of the horrendous crime. Because of the circumstances surrounding the murder, the judge was extra tough in sentencing and gave Mesquia 36 years. 36 years seems way too short a time for taking Mia's life, the bastard should have got a life sentence, but the judge actually gave ten years more than the usual sentence because of the heinous nature of the murder.

A recent US Supreme Court ruling has overturned the sentence however. The court ruled that only juries, not judges, can hand out exceptional sentences. For Mesquia, that means he will have a new trial for sentencing and will probably get shortened jail time. This totally blows, especially since in an odd twist, Mesquia himself has said he thinks he deserves the longer sentence and shouldn't be let out any earlier. The trial date hasn't been set yet for the new sentencing, but I'll update you all when I hear more about this. It's another sad day in a really sad story.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Punk and Hardcore beer!

I stopped by Seattle's Big Star Beer Market last night. It's an unassuming store just off Aurora on 105th that looks like your run of the mill mini-mart from the outside, but inside features Seattle's largest selection of beers from around the world. This place treats beer like a fine wine, importing hundreds and hundreds of beers from all over, the variety and depth of their beers is almost staggering when you walk in. How do you pic out a Lambic when there are 80 different ones to choose from? If you're scratching your head wondering what a Lambic is, it's a beer brewed only in the Pajottenland region of Belgium by a process of spontaneous fermentation. Lambic's aside, you'll find about every beer you're looking for at Big Star, along with hundreds, if not thousands, you aren't. And sometimes you stumble upon ones you just have to buy... like Punk IPA and Hardcore IPA, two beers from Scotland's BrewDog brewery. At $12.95 per 22 ounce bottle because it's a very new and limited import, not too many punk rockers are going to be buying it, but I just couldn't pass it up after reading the back of the bottle:

Ha ha ha, awesome. The brewery's website is and it looks pretty popular in the UK. While they have one distributor in the US, they seem quite small making it about impossible to find, except locally at Big Star. Besides Punk IPA ("a post modern classic ale"), BrewDog also makes Hardcore IPA ("An explicit imperial ale"), Riptide ("a twisted merciless stout"), Paradox ("whiskey cask aged imperial stout"), The Physics ("a laid back amber beer"), Hop Rocker ("a statuesque lager"), and Tokyo (a 12% imperial stout brewed with jasmine and cranberries). Brewdog's naming and marketing has gotten them in hot water with The Portman Group, the UK's self-regulating alcohol industry body. From the UK Independent:

An "aggressive" beer sold under the name Punk IPA faces being banned after a ruling that it would promote irresponsible drinking.

The drink and two others made by BrewDog in Fraserburgh, Hop Rocker and Rip Tide, were found to have breached marketing rules in a provisional decision by the Portman Group, a self-regulating industry body.

It decided Rip Tide's description as a "twisted merciless stout" would be associated with antisocial behaviour, while the claim that Hop Rocker was a "nourishing foodstuff" and that "magic is still there to be extracted" implied that it would enhance physical and mental capabilities.

BrewDog, which was set up 18 months ago by two former law students, reacted angrily to the decision, saying it threatened to put the firm, which sells to Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Oddbins among others, out of business. The company is given the chance to respond before a final ruling.

James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog with Martin Dickie, denied the advertising would encourage irresponsible behaviour. The label on Punk IPA, the main seller of the three, says "this is an aggressive beer, we don't care if you don't like it", which Mr Watt said highlighted the contrast in taste with light lagers.

"Our branding, our packaging, is a little bit edgy. The word 'aggressive' is used because of the biting bitterness in it. It's a heavily hopped beer. It's not something you can drink a lot of," he said.

"We could [change the label] but should we be pushed into changing our approach by our competitors? I think what they [the Portman Group] are doing flies in the face of anti-competition laws."

He said irresponsible drinking was more likely to occur as a result of strong lager produced by the major brewers being sold for a third of the price of his beer.

The Portman Group has also made a provisional ruling against Skull Splitter, a beer produced for 20 years by the Orkney Brewery and named after Thorfinn Hausakluif, the seventh Viking earl of Orkney, who had that nickname. It was decided the phrase was associated with violence and also could be a reference to its effect on the drinker's head.

Wacky Brits! I can't believe the name or a witty description can get a beer banned!

Carl from Tigertail says they'll be stocking Punk IPA and one other Brewdog beer starting tomorrow... and they will be priced at about half what I bought mine for! So if you want to try it out, hit Carl and Tim's (ex-Fallout Records owner) fine establishment later this week!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Heaven on a Bun? I don't know, but it has beef, ham, cheese and eggs on it!

I wrote about my fondness for Centralia, Washington's Country Cousin in a diner review back in July. Over Thanksgiving weekend I stopped there again in route back to Seattle from the Portland area and low and behold, they had a new burger on the menu. 2 quarter pound patties, cheese, ham and a fried egg on a cibatta bun. Protein overload and seriously really tasty. It goes great with a beer and pulltabs:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Screamers' KK Barrett is Helping Make Roads Sing

From October 24th's Wall Street Journal, a pretty interesting and weird article involving K.K. Barret from the legendary synth punk band The Screamers and pavement cut so it plays music when you drive over it:

A California Road That Plays 'Rossini'
Drivers Heard the Music and Approved; Neighbors Grumbled About the Rumble

LANCASTER, Calif. -- In early August, this quiet desert community got an odd request from Honda Motor Co. The car maker wanted to cut a pattern of grooves into a stretch of road so people in passing cars would hear the theme from "The Lone Ranger." Footage of Honda Civics "playing" the famous tune would be used in an advertising campaign.

Eager to attract business to the Antelope Valley, Mayor R. Rex Parris gave the project the greenlight. "It was a way of singing the city's praises," said Mr. Parris, wearing black cowboy boots with his business suit on a recent sunny afternoon.

Instead, the novel "singing road" bitterly divided this city of 145,000 people. Residents living within earshot complained of constant noise from the song. "Why don't I come to your house at 3 a.m. and butcher the 'William Tell Overture' and see how you like it," grumbled Brian Robin, a 43-year-old public-relations consultant who lives in a two-story house with his wife, two kids and four cats a quarter-mile from the musical road.

Opponents like Mr. Robin pushed to fill in the grooves, posting homemade signs around nearby neighborhoods. Proponents, however, saw the stretch of asphalt as an American icon -- the country's first melodic sequence of rumble strips and thus a piece of history for their town and their children. They urged the mayor not to give in to the will of a small minority. In the past few weeks, both groups have had their way.

Singing roads first flourished in Asia. Built in three locations in northern and central Japan, they were the product of a team of researchers at Hokkaido Industrial Research Institute. After driving over the marks on a road left by a bulldozer, the Japanese scientists determined that cutting grooves at measured intervals onto a road's surface created vibrations producing notes up and down the scale.

A similar road in South Korea plays "Mary Had a Little Lamb," according to a video on More than a decade ago, in Denmark, another road used a technology that made use of buttons above the road's surface.

The idea that led to Lancaster's rendition of the cavalry charge in Gioacchino Rossini's "William Tell Overture" came from Honda's Santa Monica advertising agency, Rubin Postaer & Associates. Advertising executives there were inspired by a YouTube video of a man playing Mozart by attaching rods to his Rollerblades that hit water-filled bottles as he skated down a street.

RPA hired a production company that enlisted former punk drummer K.K. Barrett and his mathematician-musician friends to tune the pavement. Mr. Barrett, whose career began as the drummer for the Screamers, a Los Angeles techno-punk band, went to work on the Rossini piece.

By cutting ¾-inch deep grooves set 2 inches apart into asphalt, he was able to find a high F. With the same grooves 4 inches apart, he got a low F. From there, he measured his way to find all the 12 notes in between.

The width of the grooves determined the loudness of the sound. Half an inch was too soft, Mr. Barrett said, so he made it an inch. In retrospect, he says, that may have been too much. "We wanted to make sure it was loud and it was," he said. Nobody measured decibel levels, but city officials found the music could be heard half a mile away.
[Honda Civic musical road] American Honda Motor Co

The noise catapulted the Civic Music Road, as it was called, from civic attraction to civic dispute.

The road was completed in early September. And just days later, residents began posting videos of the 30-second drive online, attracting thousands of hits and hundreds of visitors to this quiet dusty city about 70 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The new popularity of the stretch on Avenue K soon created traffic problems and lots of illegal U-turns made by listeners who wanted to hear the masked Texas Ranger's theme over and over again.

For some of the hundred homes within half a mile of the road, that was a problem. Debra White Hayes couldn't sleep through the noise, which she described as incessant droning "like monsters." Thinking it was local teenagers partying, the retiree called the sheriff. But the noise didn't stop. With each interrupted night's sleep, her asthma got worse, she says. When she discovered the tune was to be a permanent fixture in her neighborhood, Ms. White Hayes says she wrote Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Mr. Parris says it wasn't the complaints of nearby residents that caused the city to decide to repave the road. "Quite frankly, I would have saved the road if it weren't for the safety concerns." After the mayor ordered the repaving, he said City Hall got 500 phone calls from residents demanding that the musical road be saved. Fans lined up for two miles on the desert highway to experience the final days of the melodic rumble strips. David Gilroy, whose house is about 500 feet from the road, painted a sign to get people to call City Hall and advocate to keep the road. "It's history for our kids," said Mr. Gilroy, downing a Bud Light behind his house. His daughter and a 12-year-old friend collected three-and-a-half pages of signatures at their school to save the attraction.

"Of all the things you think people will react to," mused Mr. Parris. "It was immediate." The campaign "was vitriolic and it even had a level of organization. Their complaint: How dare you cave in to a few complainers."

On the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 23, 18 days after the musical road was created, construction crews steamrolled fresh new asphalt over the music-making grooves. Honda footed the $20,000 bill. A day later, passing cars produced nothing but a gentle hiss.

Mr. Parris, however, didn't want to give up the tourist attraction and the marketing potential for his city. He marshaled city officials to find a new location -- a stretch of road out toward the airport with a median to make U-turns safer, and no nearby residents. He reached out to Honda to finance a repeat performance. But, this time, the car maker wasn't interested.

The city went ahead anyway and 24 days after the first road was paved into silence, a new one had been put in, with 1,270 feet of grooves tuned to Rossini's score. The city paid $30,000 for the job, and officials are confident they'll find a new sponsor, or even "a revenue-generating application," Mr. Parris says, "like a jingle."

In this video you can see and hear the road in action, pretty cool!

Weird: Vampire Weekend+Fucked Up covering Blitz

I can't decide if it's cool or annoying, or both, but it's Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend singing with Fucked Up doing two punk covers, Blitz's "Someone's Gonna Die" and The Descendents' "Parents." During a twelve hour marathon gig by Fucked Up in a record store, they had a number of guest vocalists join them for a few songs, including Moby doing a song by his old punk band Vatican Commandos (and "Blitzkrieg Bop" by The Ramones and Wire's "12XU") and Dinosaur Jr's J. Mascis doing a song by his old punk band Deep Wound. But it was the Vampire Weekend/Fucked Up songs that seem to have drawn the most attention of the crowd that was there:

There's an article about the show here that's worth reading if you want more info about it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Poison Idea's Slayer Hippie arrested for armed robbery!

The Crime Stoppers police report:

The Portland Police Bureau, in cooperation with Crime Stoppers, is asking for your help in finding an armed robbery suspect. On Wednesday, August 20, 2008, at 3:24 a.m. a lone male armed with a knife, entered the Walgreen's pharmacy, located at 940 SE 39th Avenue, demanding opiate drugs. After receiving several hundred Oxycontin pills, the suspect walked out the door onto SE Belmont Street. On Monday, September 8, 2008, at 9:32 p.m. the same suspect entered the Walgreen's located at 3909 SE Holgate Boulevard, armed with a knife and a demand note. The suspect approached an employee and was told that their pharmacy had already closed. The suspect left the store. At approximately, 9:50 p.m., the suspect walked into the Walgreen's at 940 SE 39th Avenue, approached the pharmacy counter, armed with a knife, and demanded prescription drugs. The suspect is described as a white male, late 30's, 6'0" tall, 200 pounds, with gray hair and brown eyes. The suspect walks "hunched" over and appears to be wearing a wig with a long ponytail.

Somehow this slipped below my Poison Idea radar when it happened last month. The suspect in this crime was later caught on a tip and it turned out to be Steve Hanford, AKA Thee Slayer Hippie, ex-drummer for Poison Idea and Final Warning. Hanford was responsible for a string of pharmacy robberies in the Portland area over the past Summer. Oh how the mighty have fallen... maybe the downfall to drugs and crime are karma for the Ian Mackaye EP Posion Idea put out. Ha ha ha! I think I've gotta go listen to PI's "War All The Time" album now.

Friday, November 21, 2008

2night in Ballard: Partman Part Horse & Le Shat Noir

Like a little chocolate in your peanut butter? Sure you do, you are tired of the same old thang and like to shake it up a little. Tonight's show at the Bit Saloon in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood may be just they type of thing for someone like you. Why? Because the bands are all fucked up. Sure, you could try to call them art punk or post punk, but really they combine noise, keyboards, punk, art, rock and all bring something unique, and sometimes something kinda scary, to the table. If there's one thing you can expect to see with headliners Partman Part Horse, it's flesh, the lead singer tends to take a lot of his clothes off. And if you've every seen the Gloryholes, you know their spastic singer Doug White? Well he fronts Le Shat Noir and is backed by some of the dudes from the Cripples--which to me sounded like an instant success story even before I saw them tear it up live. $5 bucko, that's a bargain for your entertainment dollar.

"Skank or Die" 1984 article from Playboy

I posted an illustration from this June 1984 Playboy article on punk last week, promising to scan the full article in soon. Here it is! There's some good info and quotes in here along with the writer's commentary. Click on the images to get the bigger readable version of each page. I'd love to hear your opinions on it...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gainsbourg, Seattle's newest bar opens tonight!

Once "North of the channel" in Seattle was a cultural wasteland for Seattle's nightlife scene. Areas like the U-District might have been great for record stores and there were short-lived all-ages venues on the Ave and in Lake City, but the bar scene was mostly dive bars, college bars and sports bars. In the past decade though, things have changed. The Monkey Pub came on strong as the punkest bar in North Seattle with live shows and an alternative crowd. The Blue Moon got a lot more rock'n'roll and the Galway Arms also started doing shows (it's pretty punky these days, although they don't really advertise their shows). In Ballard the Sunset, Hattie's, the Tractor and Hazlewood brought a thriving nightlife (and now the Bit Saloon is in the game!). In Fremont the High Dive and Nectar brought music to a once fairly quiet artist neighborhood (although the bars still mostly suck there). Off of Phinney Ridge on 65th the Tin Hat and Tigertail are bars thriving with a hip younger crowd. So North Seattle is doing pretty good these days, but it's about to get better! The newest edition is Gainsbourg:

Gainsbourg is a lounge/bar on Greenwood just North of 85th that has it's grand opening tonight. It's owned by Scott Kannberg, JJ Wandler, and Hannah Levin. Levin's name you probably recognize from her writing at The Seattle Weekly and previously The Stranger, she's also on the air on KEXP. Behind the bar you'll spot bartenders from the recently closed McLeod Residence, The Sunset and Tigertail--all great drink servers that know their shit and are fun to talk to. And on the public side of the bar, your side of the bar, you'll find a dark, cool place with a rock'n'roll vibe and good drinks. I hit a soft opening private party a few weeks ago and really liked the look and feel of Gainsbourg, y'all should check it out! Levin said they may not have a full food menu or liquor when they first open, but both would be coming soon. So expect a small menu, beer and wine for a week or two before the full blown action happens.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pretty in Punk: 1985 News Story on Boise Punk Scene

I love stuff like these clips below. If anyone out there has on videotape the news editorial on Seattle's Channel 7 by Lou Guzzo railing against Seattle's punk rock scene (immortalized in The Dehumanizers' song "Kill Lou Guzzo") you gotta get that on YouTube. Meanwhile, here is a three part news story on the Boise, Idaho punk scene circ 1985. Check out a young Mark Hanford! Ex-Haggis, writer for MRR, and long time 10 Things writer:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Holy Crap! Johnny Rotten in a butter commercial!

Much has been said about punk songs being used in commercials, whether the original music loses some of it's integrity or not when it's being used to sell goods or services. I myself have flip flopped a bunch on the issue. In my twenties I was super into DIY and non-corporatism, I had the almost militant fervor of a letter writer to MRR. I think as I've gotten older I've learned to let go and feel more like it's none of my business what other bands choose to do with their music and careers... and frankly, punk bands pushing 50 probably do need to be cashing in on their old careers a little to make some money. You can't tour in a van across the US playing club shows when you're 40 or 50 like you did when you were 18. I also kinda get a kick out of realizing how songs I grew up listening to wormed their way into mainstream culture, although more than likely most people hearing Iggy Pop's "Lust for Live" on a cruise commercial or The Buzzcocks' "What Do I Get?" on an AARP commercial have no clue who the bands are. It's more than likely it's some 30 or 40 something punk rocker worker for an ad firm that made that stuff happen. For better or worse though, it will continue to happen.

That brings us to this, not just punk music being featured in a TV commercial, but punks starring in TV commercials. Johnny Rotten has been spearheading a butter campaign in the UK. I know many of you will think it's horrible, but I actually think it's pretty funny and totally not surprising, Rotten has always given the fuck you to convention and the punk scene.


Woah, OG UK crusty punk band Amebix has reformed and is going to tour the US in January. You can almost smell the unshoweredness from the crowds at their shows months in advance. I'm pretty stoked, I listened to them a fair amount in the latter half of the '80s and had the requisit Amebix patches on my crusty jeans and jacket. I don't think I've listened to 'em in twenty years though, so it's time to dust off the old vinyl and see how they held up. With most crust punk, I tended to be a bigger fan of it live than on record, Amebix, Nausea and Discharge being the biggest exceptions. The wierdest part of this whole deal is the Seattle show is going to take place at Neumos... a venue not exactly known for hosting punk shows:

January 27th @ Neumos
Mass Graves

Nirvana's "Nevermind" record release show

Live at Beehive Records in the U-District
9/16/91, free and all-ages

Nirvana was already a somewhat big band around Seattle before the release of "Nevermind" rocketed them onto the world's stage. Their debut album "Bleach" had sold a couple thousand copies, local college radio station KCMU would regularly blast "Recess," and they were getting bigger drawing shows, including huge crowds at University of Washington HUB and International Sports Garage in 1990. The same year, while local heavies TAD were recording in the studio and left for a dinner break, members of Nirvana with Dan Peters of Mudhoney drumming laid down a few tracks on TAD's equipment. Those songs became 1990's "Sliver" single (the flipside was "Dive"), which was decidedly more pop than Nirvana's debut album. The "Grandma take me home" line repeated again and again at the end of "Sliver" pretty much got stuck in the head of anyone that listened to it. So it was no surprise that the "Sliver" single (released in the US by Sub Pop and Glitterhouse in Europe) really jumpstarted the band's career outside of the Northwest. It broke the top 100 in the UK, was written about in Melody Maker by Everett True, and started getting airplay outside of college radio in the US. Nirvana had gone from an opening band to headlining band pretty quickly, but that was nothing compared to what would follow.

I was working in the mailroom of the Seattle monthly music paper The Rocket when we got an early review copy of Nirvana's "Nevermind." There was cassette tape of the album making the rounds through The Rocket staff and everyone was dubbing a copy. Funny sidenote: the paper's owner Charles Cross later went on to write a Nirvana book, but I swear he didn't like "Nevermind" at the time and had to be talked into featuring Nirvana on the next cover by the younger staff at the paper. The new album definitely followed in the path the "Sliver" single had hinted it and seemed like a really catchy album blending heavy rock and pop. The single "Smells Like Teen Spirit," was released to the public, I'm pretty sure first being played by local station The End. It was an instant hit. Then an announcement came out that the band would play a free record release party at Beehive Records in the U-District. Sweet! Beehive Records for most of it's lifetime had been Peaches Records, but had recently been bought out. I was going to school at the nearby University of Washington and had a shit ton of friends that worked there and pretty much visited daily to rent movies and record shop. I remember it being the place where I bought my first Dwarves album, "Toolin' for a Warm Teabag," the one with the skull and crossbones on the cover, only the crossbones were made of giant cocks, ha ha ha!

So anyway, the free show was announced in a few days and everyone on the planet was planning on going. Great. It was about 8 blocks from my apartment, so my girlfriend and a few friends and I drank some beers, then cruised over for the show about an hour before Nirvana was to play. The place was packed solid. The record store staff barely knew how to deal with the situation, I'm sure tons of shit got stolen that day. By the time Nirvana played the place was chaos, kids were crowd surfing over the record stacks, the whole store became a moving mosh pit. My girlfriend couldn't handle it anymore and went across the street for a beer at the Blue Moon, so I squished up front and rocked out. Fun, crazy show!

Afterward the band hung around for an hour in the parking lot talking with kids and signing autographs. I watched a girl pull out one of the coveted white vinyl copies of "Bleach" (the first 1000 were on white) to have the band sign and then drop it in a big mud puddle. Ooops. I had brought two records with me to have them sign, a live bootleg 7" and the "Sliver" single. What kind of idiot brings a bootleg to have a band sign? Why, that's me! Kurt Cobain signed it: "I hate fucking bootlegs... Kurt" and then stabbed a pen through the cover where the hole in the center was. Awesome! For some stupid reason I sold the bootleg about a year later for $17 to some kid when I needed beer money. I hope he held onto it, it's probably worth a ton now. I still have the "Sliver" single signed by everyone in the band that day and cherish it, as well as the memories of that day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mainstream interpretations of punk in the '80s

While digging around in my piles of old zines and punk flyer archives this weekend, I stumbled upon a folder simply labeled "Clippings and Reviews" that had a hodge podge of article clippings in it. There were old reviews of 10 Things, interviews with me in other zines and papers, letters I'd written to the editors of various papers, articles on punk and other stuff I'm sure I thought was super important at the time. This illustration come from a Playboy magazine article that ran June of 1984... it actually looks like my dad cut out the article and gave it to me, it's his handwriting with the citation and date in the corner of the first page. Awesome. I'll scan in the whole article some time this week, but this is a little teaser, clearly showing a mainstream writer's idea of what punk rock fashion was like circa 1984. It's pretty ridiculous, even if it touches on a lot of real punk fashion, but it seems like a pretty jaded and snide attitude like you'd expect from a yuppie writer looking down at punk rock in the '80s, while still admiring elements of it. The article is actually pretty decent with lots of quotes from Jello Biafra and the Dead Kennedys' manager Michael Vraney.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Pirate punk with Portland's Rum Rebellion

For the past decade or so there has been a loose association of bands flying the Pyrate Punx banner, in the past couple years they seem to have gotten pretty organized into chapters, putting on events, parties, and more, with an emphasis on DIY, drinking, supporting each other and having fun and trying to shake off some of the drama and violence that can plague the punk rock scene. It's become a healthy DIY network down the West Coast (and elsewhere) of punk bands that help support each other on tours... plus, there is the added bonus of pirate speak and pirate accouterments!

The thing is though, most of the Pyrate Punx bands aren't really that piratey, they are straight up punk bands. There's nothing wrong with this, but when along comes a band like Rum Rebellion from Portland, the tag of pirate seems way more fitting. Offstage the band members look like anyone else you'd see at a bar like Funhouse, but onstage they pick up acoustic guitars, a bouzouki, and tin whistle, along with more traditional rock/punk instruments and blast out a mix of sea shantys, Irish music and punk rock. Awesome! Growing up listening to a lot of traditional Irish music, I love this kinda sound. They are more in the vein of The Pogues or Mutiny than anyone else, with a much more traditional feel than a band like The Dropkick Murphys, who only flirt with traditional Irish music in their sound. Live they do covers of both Stiff Little Fingers and The Pogues, clearly wearing some of their influences on their sleeves. And I love that the biggest guy in the band plays the smallest instrument, their whistle player completely dwarfs his instrument, which totally works with the rebellious feel to their music.

Rum Rebellion have one CD out, "Cruisin For A Boozin'," which I picked up at a recent show they played in Seattle and have been rockin' the past few days. It nicely captures their sound and is still rough around the edges how I like it (which is where the sea shanty feel really comes in, as opposed to the Irish records my dad played all the time while I was growing up, which were sometimes too polished sounding). For more information about Rum Rebellion, check out their website.

ps- Blogger is being lame and no longer automatically resizing my photos to fit the page. Click them for the full pics, more of the band members are actually in them!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Skill Shot pinball zine

Skill Shot... In the game of pinball, a skill shot generally is a shot that scores bonus points when your ball first enters the playfield. Pulling the plunger back just the right distance can land the ball in precisely the right place to score maximum points, be it Rudy's secret hiding place on Funhouse or the ball getting grabbed by Thing's hand on Addams Family. It's a shot that takes practice and skill by playing the same machine over and over. Even on the same game at a different bar or arcade, the skill shot will be slightly different. In Seattle, however, Skill Shot can mean something different, for it's also a fanzine dedicated to Seattle pinball.

Skill Shot, like most zines, has a sloppy homemade feel to its layout and is published fairly irregularly. When you spot a new issue at Shorty's or in a record store on the shelf of free publications, it's like a special treat. And it's free! Upon opening an issue of Skill Shot, you can tell it's a labor of love. For pinball fans, it has a guide to the various neighborhoods of Seattle and the pinball machines that can be found in their bars, coffee houses and clubs. For the pinball fanatic like me (geek alert, I own and collect pinball machines and am currently ranked as the 890th best pinball player in the world), it's also got pinball news, trivia, graphics, game reviews and playing hints.

The latest issue to hit the streets is #6, pictured above, which features two different covers (both from the same pinball game, bonus pinball fan points to any of you that can name the game the artwork is from and/or the pinball machine I set them on for the photo shoot). Issue #6 has reviews and breakdowns for playing Champion Pub and the new Dark Knight games, Seattle pinball locations, pinball news, and suggestions for new ways of playing pinball with your friends. What's amazing is how positive the writing is, which in zineland is pretty unheard of, zines far too often are a platform for whining and melancholy. It's a cool little zine for pinball fans, keep an eye out for it! More info on Skill Shot can be found on their MySpace page.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

All roads once led to The Dog House

If you've read some of my small town diner reviews, you've probably realized I have a soft spot in my heart for the greasy food and Americana nostalgia that gets served up in these fine establishments. Even in the big cities of this wonderful country a few holdouts remain that hearken back to an era long gone. This time I turn your attention to one of those establishments that is now long gone from Seattle, but still, is fondly remembered by many...

The Dog House (also known as Bob Murray's Dog House) was a Seattle institution for nearly 60 years. This lead photo is of some friends of mine hanging out drunk out front on an excursion there one night in 1985. For 24 hour diner food downtown in the '80s, and I presume the couple decades before it, The Dog House was the place.

The Dog House was located at 2230 7th Ave, the corner of 7th and Bell. The Hurricane Cafe now operates in the original building, and the outside appearance really hasn't drastically changed. It was built in 1940 and originally housed a paint store called General Paints, but in 1954 the building began down the path of serving up hot meals to hungry Seattle citizens when it reopened as Clark's Restaurant. In 1958, a restaurant called Bob Murray's Dog House relocated over from Aurora Avenue to the space and a Seattle legend was born (or continued, it sounds like the original log cabin-style restaurant on Aurora was pretty popular, although I can't find much information on it). Here's a great picture from the UW photo archives of the original Dog House from 1938, and here's what it first looked like at the 7th and Bell location:

This is a scan of the menu, circa the early '90s (courtesy of John Hubbard):

Here's my friend Sarah back in the '80s holding the menu when we were grabbing some late night grub:

For goth, punk and club kids, The Dog House was just a few blocks away from Skoochies (which later became The Oz and Club Amp) and City Beat, so it was a spot people would hit before or after a night of clubbing (or drug buying/selling). Check out the cool '60s chairs behind my friends playing around with their french fries:

Somewhere I have some more photos of the organ player, waitresses and inside, when I dig them up I'll scan them in too. When you'd go to the Dog House you were always guaranteed a few things: lots of cheap diner food often with dog-themed names (like the Mutt Burger), a wide variety of clientele, drunk singing and organ playing in the bar, and old-school waitresses with names like Ethel and Bernice. Good times! In college in the early '90s we'd go into the bar area because they were a little slack on IDing people. Older guys around the bar would buy our girlfriends drinks, Dick Dickerson would be playing the organ, and everyone would sing along. It was almost like some David Lynchian timewarp back to a time long gone--with a vintage '50s styled diner (one actually from that time, rather than a modern one made to look that way) and a bar and clientele that seemed to have been beamed in from 1965. And you know what? As young people getting to experience this little slice of Americana mostly long-gone, we loved it!

The Dog House closed it's doors January 31st, 1994. And while The Hurricane opened a few years later in it's place, I just haven't had the heart to visit it, I want to keep my memories of hanging out in the old restaurant pure, for it was one of the last vestiges of old Seattle to go, an era that gave way from unique and original businesses to Starbuck's and other chains throughout the more modern city.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Celebrate Seattle music with Mayor Rock'n'Roll!

Long thought of as Seattle's Mayor of Rock'n'Roll because of his overabundance of support for the local music community, Mayor Nickels wants to give you, Seattle music fans, even more! How about a free celebration honoring our music community at the Paramount next week!

Sarcasm aside, I'm not really sure what's up with this. Mayor Nickels has been a rock and club hater, going so far as to hire a "Club Czar" to police local music clubs, but recently he announced he'd try to reduce club taxes. So maybe there is a glimmer of hope that his cold dark heart towards music clubs is thawing just a little. And now this! Some vaguely worded event announcement that the city is throwing a celebration of local music next week. It may just be a way to get all the music fans, club owners, bands and bookers all together to take 'em out in one spot, it may just be a political move where they trot out a few grunge rockstars from the '90s, or who knows, it may turn out to be something cool (like say when Rocky Votolo and a bunch of kids staged an all-ages dance at the public hearing on the Teen Dance Ordinance, much to the dismay of city counsel members!). While I doubt the latter, it's free if you RSVP ahead of time. Click the pic for the big readable version with all the details:

A little more info:

"Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and dozens of music-related entities - both private and public - are coming together to celebrate and honor Seattle's rich music history and its ongoing importance in our city's economy and culture. On Wednesday, October 29, from 5pm - 7pm at The Paramount Theatre, Mayor Greg Nickels will host a celebration of music and announce a strategy to make Seattle a destination for musicians and music-related business in the coming decade. The night, which replaces our typical monthly Happy Hour event, will include performances by a variety of Seattle musicians young and old, from Pike Place Market to Benaroya Hall, including a spectacular finale! The event is free to the public, but an RSVP is required."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The last days of the McLeod Residence at 2209 2nd Ave

Belltown's unique gallery/club/bar/lounge/community the McLeod Residence is set to shut down in it's current location at the end of the month. In it's final weeks the bar is still open, art is still hangin', and lots of events are going on, so stop by before it's too late! The event calendar.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Do you remember rock'n'roll radio? Remembering Seattle's KCMU

KCMU was the University of Washington's radio station from 1972 through 2001. In 1971 UW undergraduates John Kean, Cliff Noonan, Tory Fiedler, and Brent Wilcox started talking starting talking about and planning a college radio station at the UW. The Communications Department agreed to host the station, the FCC was petitioned by the University for a broadcasting license, and in 1972 it began broadcasting at 90.5. The CMU in KCMU, as most current students or alums of the UW know, was the abbreviation for the Communications Building where the station broadcasted from. The station was student run and grew slowly throughout the '70s. In 1981 after a funding cut, KCMU started running on-the-air fundraisers and asking listeners to help support the station.

During the '80s, the station was able to boost it's signal (400 watts was a milestone they'd talk about during fundraisers constantly) and the station moved to 90.3. KCMU became one of the first radio stations to play hip hop music and it also dove heavily into alternative rock, featuring bands like Green River and Soundgarden long before the mainstream knew who they were. The station was called "one of the most influential commercial-free stations in the country" by Billboard Magazine, and this is long before it morphed into KEXP.

In 1992 there was a powergrab at KCMU that forever altered the station's future. Volunteer student and community DJs were fired and syndicated programs were run in their place. The DJs that were retained, got strict guidelines about what music they could play. Many of the remaining volunteers quit in protest and formed an organization called CURSE that put on a bunch of benefit shows, sued the station, and tried to raise awareness about what was happening to public radio in Seattle at the time. The lawsuit failed, but the station administration did listen and drop the syndicated programming, but they bitterly would not rehire the fired volunteers.

After a big donation from Paul Allen in 2001, the station moved off-campus down to Allen's Experience Music Project and adapted it's name, KEXP. It became almost a commercial station at that point with paid DJs, a less eclectic format, and was no longer run by the college students and University that birthed it and helped it grow. Don't get me wrong, I love KEXP, but it's sad that to get KEXP, Seattle, and the University of Washington in particular, had to loose KCMU.

For a great insider's history of KCMU, check out JC Coleman's account of attending the UW and becoming a volunteer during the mid-'90s. He talks of what working at the station was like and peppers his stories and information with all kinds of scans of old stickers, station artwork, playlists and more. For anyone into local music history, this guy's archive of KCMU is a goldmine for good info!

An update on the Crocodile Cafe soundboard recordings

The Stranger recently finally reported on a story I wrote about back in March concerning the archive of the soundboard recordings from the Crocodile Cafe getting donated to the University of Washington by soundman Jim Anderson. Check out their blog story here, Anderson chimes into the conversation and provides a little bit more information.

Not much has moved along in the project since I mentioned it seven months ago, Anderson says the official announcement that it's happening is coming soon. Apparently it's taken a long time to organize the files, which are on a series of hard drives, and their has been some discussion of how they will be hosted at the Undergraduate Library Media Center. For music fans anxiously awaiting this awesome resource, I think you have to cool your jets. It's possible this project could take a long time, possibly years, to get up and running. Funding something like this may prove hard as the state squeezes the University of Washington's budget, plus it's fifteen years of live recordings to organize, convert to a streaming format, and to serve to the public in a way that won't be ripe for bootlegging.

Let's hope the project gets rolling soon though! I know Nirvana fans especially are dying to hear the recordings of the band on stage, as well as the banter between band members and the crowd between songs and during set up that often isn't present on the crowd-recorded bootlegs of their shows. Anderson explains, "What makes this collection unique is that in archival recordings from other clubs, there’s not a whole lot of the between song banter. I did blanket recordings, and was able to capture everything... Bands and people talk about politics, sports, events, the environment, equipment issues, technology, and so on. There’s a lot of stuff that gives you the flavor of what people were thinking and talking about at that point in time."

Plus, the sound quality I've heard on the recordings Anderson gave to bands (he'd offer to burn a copy of the show for a band for a small fee) were excellent. The Nirvana live music in particular should be a lot better than bootleg recordings done from the crowd that most people have heard of Nirvana playing at the Crocodile Cafe.

The Bronx release first song from new album!

Next week The Bronx will be playing CMJ with Seattle's Akimbo, I'd love to see that show! The Bronx will release their third album in less than a month, on November 11th. This week they released the first song from the album to the press as a preview, check out "Young Bloods" here. It's not totally rocking my world yet after two listens, but it's a good song, and dare I say, it has a bit of an Against Me! feel to it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Love Me Nots at Bop Street Records

Saturday after work I drove over to Ballard to catch The Love Me Nots a second time, they were playing a free all-ages show at Bop Street Records. Man, I'd never been to Bop Street before, while it's a pretty bad place to watch a show because the floor is dominated with record bins and there is no people space, I need to go back and crate dig! So much vinyl, although I'm sure lots of it's crap. The full wall of cassette tapes seemed ridiculous, I can't imagine people still buying tapes, this place needs to thin out the stuff no one will ever buy.

I got there around 6:30pm and a band that was a little too pop for me was playing, so I walked over to Hattie's for a drink. I came back right before The Love Me Nots hit the record store's small stage. Under the bright lights in a toned down booze free environment I wasn't expecting too much, the venue just didn't seem very conducive to The Love Me Nots' brand of sultry soul and garage rock. And while the show was a bit more subdued than the night before, the band still brought a lot of energy to the show and kicked the crowd's ass. Super rockin' and fun. I wish I could have stuck around for The Greatest Hits, but when I headed for a drink on the break, I realized I hadn't eaten since noon and was starving and had to grab some grub. A few pix:

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Love Me Nots photos from Studio 66 last night!

The Love Me Nots rocked last night at Studio 66. What a fun night, I hadn't been to one in a while and I'm sorry I've missed the past couple because it was great. Lotsa people dressed up kinda '60s/mod, the bands were great, there were funky old Radley Metzger movies from the '60s playing in the DJ room, and the joint was rocking. If you missed the band, they'll be playing a free all-ages gig at 6pm today at Bop Street Records with The Greatest Hits and will also be on KEXP's Audioasis show. Here's a taste of their live show: