Posts Tagged ‘Punk

03
May
19

The Martin Atkins Interview

Martin Atkins Extravagant Behavior Interview and photo shoot. Photos © Billy Bennight all Rights Reserved.

On a Tuesday afternoon, I join longtime friend Austin’s cultural arts and SXSW insider Peggy Ellithorpe with her friends for drinks at the Hampton Inn and Suites’ balcony for happy hour. I had been in Austin since Saturday for SXSW and it seemed to be the perfect time to get together and catch up. The balcony overlooked the Austin Convention Center from the east along with clubs, bar and venues interlaced and resting around the nexus of SXSW activities. It was a lazy and friendly affair as introductions were offered and conversations developed between us. Soon a stately gentleman with a definitive Rock and Roll persona and a young lady joined us for drinks. This was when the energy in our circle ramped up. The gentleman was Martin Atkins and his manager, Molly. Martin Atkins has legendary status as the drummer for Public Image Limited besides being a producer, a creative and driving force in Brian Brain, Public Image LtdMinistryNine Inch NailsPigface, and Killing Joke over the passing decades. We enjoyed an introduction and brief chat then I struck up an enjoyable conversation with Molly and arranged an interview with Martin the following day. 

Monday through Thursday the Hampton Inn has a happy hour starting around 4 and going till 7. The second floor of the hotel is a comfortable space with a welcoming interior and the “NOLA styled balcony” outside with big picture windows offers a satisfying view of the city. It was there I met up with Martin again and slid to a quieter corner of the hotel’s common area for our meet-up. Over the years I’ve met many people who were associated with the Sex Pistols or PIL. Among them were Steve Jones, Jah Wobble, Glen Matlock, Dennis Morris, and producer Nick Launay. The former three I’ve had extensive conversations with about those early heady days about the Pistols and PIL. So it is understandable I was excited to get yet another authoritative point of view from a key member of this musical watershed that spun out in so many directions changing music and the relationship of music to its audience forever. Martin is a smart and detailed individual keenly focused on his work with his own artistic and business contributions offering me a compelling insightful view of the workings of the Post Punk phenomenon of Public Image LTD. He further honed in my understanding of those tumultuous years with Johnny Rotten (aka John Lydon) at the helm of these musical juggernauts with portraiture and analysis of who Johnny is as a person and as an artist. Martin’s many gifts outside of being a talented drummer is an entrepreneur, an engineer/producer, head of his own record label, a writer, a college instructor among other things. To say the least he is busy and has his fingers in many different pies. 

We sat down for the better part of an hour and chewed the metaphoric fat and got down to a very matter of fact discussion of PIL, the music business and the creative forces that drive a creative genius like himself. Dig in folks because this is one hellacious wild ride and one interview I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. It’s that cool!

Extravagant Behavior: The first thing that came to mind when I was reading the article… I spoke to Nick (Nick Launay) when he was there (in the studio for Flowers of Romance years ago) when him and John locked out the producer. It brought back that memory. I thought, were you there when that happened?

Martin Atkins: I’m not sure. I remember some of these stories and I have my own stories I remember.

Extravagant Behavior:…and you can tell those stories.

Martin Atkins: Right… I do remember we recorded, I think Nick could be talking about something called “Home Is Where The Heart Is”. I think Nick has talked about doing a couple of dub versions. One extremely insane dub version, which was his first credit. When you listen back, you’re like “oh my god”, it’s like anything you overuse some tools when you first discover them. Then he re-did “Home Is Where The Heart Is” that was kind of chilled out. Around that period I also remember an assistant engineer that we put in the vocal booth and say okay we are going to have you test the mic. But he wasn’t testing the mic, he wasn’t testing it with the track. (the engineer called out) “Hahaha!, I had the oven repaired. Home, home is where the heart is…” and John just took whatever he was saying and turned it into a song. Which then they miscredited to Jim Walker the original drummer. Then Quintin Hailen (sic), who I will see in Tulsa Oklahoma, he wrote a book called “Rise and Fall” about PIL (Public Image Limited). He then dissected my drumming and juxtaposed it with Jim Walker’s drumming showing evidence that my drumming – Jim Walker was so much better than I was because of my drumming on “Home Is Where The Heart Is”. Which I drummed on and co-wrote was miscredited. I’m just like… yeah! But I know that was a really special time for Nick. It was his first 10 weeks in the business and part of my first 10 months in the business. The relationship I had then with Nick was kind of gleeful… would be the word I’d use. Gleeful children, because we were. I think I was 19, maybe twenty. I don’t know how old he was, probably the same age. Gleefully in the studio where Phil Collins recorded “In The Air Tonight” – just me and him! I’ve heard, and I talk about this in my book a bit. It’s about memories and how we remember things. John now thinks he was the mastermind behind the stuff as does Keith. The truth is, Nick and I laid down the basic tracks, if not, 90% of the musical part of “Home Is Where The Heart Is”. “Banging The Door”, “Four Closes Walls”, (it was in) 1981 and this was released as part of the “This Is What You Want” sessions. But this was released as part of the Flowers Of Romance recording sessions. For one reason or another Keith, John didn’t choose all of those tracks to be on Flowers that might have been more cohesive than it ended up being. I might put a Spotify playlist together of… 

Extravagant Behavior:…of what it might have sounded like?

Martin Atkins: Yeah! I do remember we, I just did a bunch of tracks and left on tour with my punk band Brian Brain in the US. I know there is a song called “Vampire” which was released on the 40th year box set. And I just thought, “Oh shit!” I’ve been holding onto this track for 40 years, maybe 35 years. So I went to Spotify to listen to it with just my drums. I don’t know what they’re doing by releasing that because I have the version with bass. keyboards and fully formed vocals. “Why wouldn’t they say hey Martin?” Because they know I’m gonna say, “what are you going to give me?”

Extravagant Behavior: Because it’s still works, and it’s still your artistry.

Martin Atkins: Yeah, and I’ve held on to it and they didn’t, so fuck off!

Continue reading ‘The Martin Atkins Interview’
17
Apr
12

J Devil Spins A Top The Cahuenga Corridor At Dim Mak Studios

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Let ‘s saunter down memory lane for a little history of the Cahuenga corridor as I move to my story of J. Devil‘s DJ set and KoЯn’s The Path To Totality listening party. My mind glides to the dark part on Ivar where an old brick warehouse, now known at Space 15 Twenty, was used by Taime Downe of Faster Pussycat and Ricky Rachtman, both put together this badass party full of Rockers and Scensters of the period, that included Motley Crew and members of the Pandoras. In a secret room the members of the Crew were sticking to the Porn Stars while those on the outside sucked down booze from the bar. I remember stealing a bottle of Tequila, I was essentially caught, but I owned it and walked away with the spirit of giving bouncing around in my head. The Tequila proved a little strong for me after a recent incident where Tex of Tex and the Horseheads challenged or taunted me into downing a fifth of “Takillya” leading to me vomiting and passing out on the floor of my Hollywood apartment. In the course of the night’s events I ran into Melanie Vammen of the Pandoras and passed it on to her, much to her glee! You could say that’s my first blurry night in the Cahuenga corridor. At this time and for many years to come the Cahuenga corridor was a dangerous drug soaked area with potential crime at every corner. Making it perfect for an underground music scene to flourish!

Upon my return to Los Angeles in the nineties I found myself once more in this uneasy neighborhood on Cosmo, Ivar and Cahuenga. I believe at the time Josh and Solomon were calling their club Gas Light and then the Opium Den. Many a night had gone well but on this one occasion outside Gas Light these girls pissed off this trucker with some red neck comments. He then threatened to shoot us. He went to the cab of his Simi-truck to fetch his gun. In no time he was brandishing it with his own insult towards us. He was easily in our view, gun swinging, near the front of the truck. I advised all in attendance to move on. That was my last night there for some time to come. I didn’t visit the area for another 5 years. By this time Cosmo had expanded and the neighborhood generally safer. That night Perry Farrel was doing a solo performance in the grand room behind Cosmo or the front that was exposed to Ivar that is now known as The Ivar. This night the freaks were out! I had my Moroccan henna tatoo I had picked up in Venice Beach the day before still dwelling on my arm. A true sign of the times. As I stood in the crowd waiting for Perry to hit the stage this woman passed me. It was a tight squeeze. This woman made a point to run her hand firmly across my chest, cruising my nipples. When she was in direct contact with me, face to face, she made a number of lude sexually charged comments to me, while allowing me feel every inch of her body, as she slowly squeezed by. Funny, I was in love with a Texas girl, named Julie, who introduced me to KoЯn while I lived in Dallas. The KoЯn show was in late 94 in Deep Ellum. I called her this night in 97 after Perry’s show because she loved Jane’s Addiction. We used to hold hands and sing “Jane Says”, walking in the cool evenings on the streets of Deep Ellum. So this woman’s pass at me was more irritating than satisfying at the time. Although, it registered on my perv meter strongly as pretty pervy.

Other events that occurred at the Cosmo would have been the time this guy was hitting on Linda Perry, next to me, as we huddled close together in a conversation on the stair steps, ha! In the course of our conversation he offered to us both some lines in the bathroom from his bindle of coke. That was a high moment of hilarity! Linda is gay and sober. I was sober at the too. Another time I saw Bernie Taupin‘s Farm Dogs. This time Solomon Mansoor of Zen Cowboy opened for Bernie Taupin. That was a special night because I hadn’t seen Solly in tens years. It was such an amazing pleasure to have seen him after all those year from the old Shake Shack and Dirt Box days. It was like a family reunion. Zen Cowboy rocked the house too! I was in too much awe of Bernie Taupin to speak to him, a hero of my youth, but I so wanted to say something. It was a marvelous night. There was the time I saw Harry The Dog with Tequila Mockingbird and John X Volaitis (sound engineer for Marilyn Manson) with my friend Irene Liberatore of The Puppies. I was a big fan of the draggon ice sculpture slide that delivered shots of ice cold Jaggermeister sliding directly into my mouth. Then there was the time I was with my posse of Patrick Mata, Sherry, The Slutters of Retail Slut and Roz Williams of Christian Death celebrating Michael Stewart’s release party of a compilation of Bowie covers songs by local Goth Bands. Kommunity FK was one of the bands who covered Bowie‘s “Panic In Detroit“. The back story on the recording had Kommunity FK, Patrick, Sherry, Roy and then myself (I’m not in the band. I’m a band-aid) soaking up 40’s at The Sound Factory and putting on the finishing touches on KFK’s version of Panic In Detroit. I’m on the clap track. The only recording I’ve ever been on with international distribution. Michael Stewart through a slamming party for that CD release with the KFK cover. Nuttiness reigned throughout that night. Before it was all over at Cosmo, someone had been hit on the head with a full bottle of beer, while I ended up on my knees in front of a pay phone in the hall way surrendering to my temporary, yet very demanding, dominatrix. Snaps that was a crazy one at Cosmo that night. Sadly, with in the month Roz Williams of Christian Death committed suicide. Sometime there’s a cost to burning brightly.

The next move came to the Cahuenga corridor when Cinespace and Starshoes dominated the area. Kimberly Browning was Artist In Residence at Cinespace with her Hollywood Shorts program to Cinespace. Stepphen Hauptfuhr was revving up the heat at Star Shoes solidifying what is now known as the Hipster movement. Those were drunky days for me indeed. Lots of open bars and skirt chasen as the area became hipper and safer.

Rounding the corner to this new decade on the Cahuenga corridor, soon after my return from 2012 SXSW, I received a generous invite from Alexandra for a special event at Dim Mak Studios located pretty much where Cinaspace was in dominance in another time. The night was put together by Cornerstone Entertainment and Dim Mak, as listening party for KoЯn’s The Path To Totality. This brought back memories of seeing KoЯn from Deep Ellum many years before in Dallas. Julie was the one who connected me to this show. Julie was more into Metal than I, but I do love me some brunette bobs and quirky ex-Catholic bi girlies. I can’t helps myselfs! Julie filled that bill! It was around the time of KoЯn’s first release. I didn’t know it but I was witnessing the beginning of Nu Metal. There was a lot of buzz around KoЯn then.They were more raw than polished but their show had all the earmarks of a solid band that was on their way. Their fan base was motivated and dedicated as they shook the walls of this small Deep Ellum club and my hearing suffered because of it. I arrived late for the listening party but early for J Devil’s DJ set. I met the 2 Katherines from Cornerstone Entertainment who were generous and gave me The Path To Totality CD. The DJ was spinning in the back room if you entered from Cosmo or the back room if you entered from Hollywood Blvd. In attendance was Mickey Avalon and Randy Mathias of London After Midnight. I drifted after my orignal sizing up of the room to the back area leading to the area of red velvet lounging sofas. I had a brief chit-chat with Alexandra then rested in the mid area watching a young band play Juke Joint inspired Hipster tunes. Then the witching hour rumbled forth as the Dubstep pounded or exploded against the walls and formidably shook the floors of Dim Mak Studios. The introduction was made and J Devil was in the HOUSE! J Devil had a stage presence that appeared to be channeling Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon with his maniacal stance, arms splaid lifted above his head (as if he was in mid cackle) or that of Dr. Morbius studied glare of deep concentration when he was in DJ mode on the wheels of steel. J Devil was mercurial to say the least, as he drove the crowd to a frenzy hitting the mic invoking all to dance or when he was giving a shout out to Steve Aoki. He kept it live! When he wasn’t lighting the turntables (aka Mac Book Pro) on fire from behind, he would charge to the front with the mic in hand keeping the action going and engaging the fans. A pit broke out during a particularly heavy part of the set, endangering me and my camera. It was a hot and sweaty freak zone for all involved. For over an hour as J Devil delivered. You could hear the influences of Skrillex, Excision and Downlink as he worked the Dubstep synthesis of Rock, Hip Hop and Punk. Rolling into 1:30 J Devil was winding things down and sending out the love before he exited the stage. Soon J Devil was passing by me to the back area with the red velvet lounges. Of course, I drifted back to get a few more shots as the evening was ending.  Everyone was cool from Dim Mak and his management. I waited while the man caught a breather after a rigorous set. He removed his J Devil contacts and then cleaned of his J Devil teeth. Taking him from dark musical force to Jonathan Davis singer of  KoЯn. Soon we exchanged pleasantries and he gave me a few moments of his time to pose for photos invoking the Illuminati to keep it witchy after serving some pretty crunchy grooves at Dim Mak Studios. It was a night well spent.

28
Mar
12

Alejandro Escovedo and Friends at the Continental Club: Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

I found myself for the first time in days able to take the morning on a slow start path. My host Mike was up and was kind enough to make coffee for us both. He had hooked me up with a great place to stay and inadvertently introduced me to new friends. We finally had time to get to know one another. Of course we related to one another how crazy Southby is and each of us recounted stories as it related to the previous weeks events. We stumbled upon the topics of Rhett Miller. Mike is a fan and a friend. We concurrently experienced The Old 97’s during the 90’s in Dallas. He remembered and recounted things I had long forgotten as he elaborated on Rhett’s career and talent to me. I could only endorse his sentiments with occasional flurries of my own observation of that time in Dallas. There was a part of me that wished we’d had this conversation 2 days earlier but it was such a good feeling to have this connection right then and there as we traded stories in his living room. It appears that Rhett played his last Austin-ish gig in Willie Nelson‘s cowboy town 40 miles outside Austin. That show would have been a sweet ride! Mike was totally cool and it was really nice to get to visit during the decompression part of SXSW.

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My next move was more exploration. I had Mexican food on my mind. It was the return to the taco theme I had earlier in the week. I cruised South Congress diverting to South 1st Street on a deeper level of exploration to happen upon El Tacorrido. The only Taco joint I know of that has 2 drive thrus. I was smitten! I wanted to use the drive thru but after a bit of a wait and a keen desire to hook up, I settled for the walk up solution. The menu was slightly different form most Tex-Mex feeds and that really drove my curiosity. I ordered a gordito and a breakfast taco. I explained it to my friend Jonas like this: “This taco stand is really different for Mexican food in Texas. I can’t say it’s truly Tex-Mex. I’m having difficulty pin pointing exactly the style but it’s more south and inland. Or in other words it’s not the kind of food you find on the border or made for American taste buds.” I was completely satisfied when I headed over to Bouldin Creek for my morning coffee. I spent a few hours organizing photos on my computer as a way to bide my time before the big send off show.

Soon the hour was upon us and I headed over to pick Karen up and to share a little pre-celebratory happy hour at her hotel. I have to say, I was a bit antsy now knowing how both Mike Mills and Peter Buck were showing for tonight’s performance at The Continental Club. I count myself extremely fortunate that the first year I attended SXSW I was made aware and got to experience Alejandro Escovedo and Friends at The Continental Club. I have Karen to thank for that! It’s a cozy environment and the place is ran well. Now it’s an irresistible tradition. It’s such a great way to say farewell to Austin and SXSW. As we rolled up Alejandro was outside visiting with folks. He’s very approachable and a nice guy. It was nice to be inside The Continental Club where Karen and I turned into fans. Miss Melvis was playing. We enjoyed the show but we considered another Happy Hour moment was in order out at my car. We scored the cups at Zen next door and we were on our way. You could hear the sound of clunking paper cups and a toast if you were close or maybe, just inside the red Ford Focus. It was a nice bottle of red wine. Usually, I’m not so inclined to drink red wine but this was pretty good stuff. We then joyfully returned to the club locked in for the rest of the night.

By the time we returned Jesse Malin of D Generation had taken the stage and was entertaining everyone. I continued my Happy Hour on a little longer by drifting to the back bar that I favor the most. I bumped in to Lenny Kaye as the star-studded event bubbled with a who who’s in the back. Again I moved up front I staked my place near the front when the young musical team called Ghost Wolves started a short and energetic set. Konya on drums/vox and Carley on guitar. They started out their set on each other’s instruments and then flipped after the first song. Karen wasn’t feeling it, but I was kind of feeling it. It was like Loretta Lynn singing for the White Strips. By this time Kimiko had join us. It was good to see her. She’s got a cool way about her. She was representing Rosie Flores who would play later that night. This was her reason to be at The Continental Club on this fine evening. She smartly drifted to the back to await for Rosie appearance. Karen and I were up front when Garland Jeffreys took the stage: I mean he took the stage hostage! This man knows what he’s doing! Photo op after photo-op. I’m not familiar with the man’s material but was I was surprised how much his music sound like early to mid Rolling Stones. He did a riveting version of “? and the Mysterian” 96 Tears. He was one of highlight of the evening: a ball of energy and passion. I drifted to the back as did Karen, eventually, where we sat near the threshold of the door. It was time to cool off from the hot and tightening room. Tommy Stinson was taking the stage, I guess, just fresh from the G&R’s tour. I was drinking beer in the back again. I managed to come up for Barfirld (The Tyrant Of Texas Funk). The brother was funky with ranch fresh Cowboy look. He kept it funky and showed us his James Brown dance, except no leg splits. It was good stuff: comedic and entertaining. Damn good drinking music. So I headed back and drank again. At this point Karen spotted David Fricke, I saw him too, from Rolling Stone at the back door. Before long Kid Congo Powers (The Gun Club and The Cramps) would attach himself to the stage and I was all over that! I’ve been wanting to see Kid Congo for years and tonight it would be consummated. How romantical! Kid Congo spread his freak flag far and wide in the Continental Club as I squeezed to the front to catch his much of anticipated act. The former Cramps alumni kept us all completely entertained. He refered to Lux Interior, no, not Nick Cave, at one point when he said there was visionary who told me, “One day Kid you will have your own band and you’ll call it Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds”. I think his time in the Cramps were well spent because he kept us engaged in much of the same way the Cramps would have had they been there. After Kid Congo left the stage was about the time the lock down happened: no ins or outs! There was some speculation Bruce Springsteen would appear. I now believe it was for Mike Mills and Peter Buck. I headed to the back where I had to say hi to Kid Cango and take a few photos. I mentioned to him that Lux had jumped a couple of rows of people one time at the Spirit Club in San Diego and had tongued me. Then I told him that after that people thought I was pretty cool. That made him laugh. Then when I tweeted it, I found later, he had re-tweeted it on Twitter. I was honored he’d bother to do it and it made me laugh too. Then a little later I spotted Rosie and asked her for a photo or two. Once again I drifted to nostalgia. Rosie was at one time very much part of the LA Rock scene. She was one of the main forces in the Screamin’ Sirens. I know I’ve seen them perform. I think if was at Janice DeSoto’s club or maybe Cat House. But what was on my mind at that moment was the Hollywood Hillbillies. The band had a chicken in it. I loved it at the time. I mentioned Hollywood Hilllbillies to Rosie. Her response to me was she was in that band early on, for 3 weeks. I hadn’t remembered she was in the band. Then she qualified it by saying, “I was in the band before the chicken”. She knew about the chicken! That was a great moment. Only someone in the scene would know that! I chuckled. We finished and I decided to hang towards the back in stalker fashion. I was thinking when Mike and Peter enter I’d spot ’em. At this point we’d entered the home stretch where Alejandro and the Sensitive Boys played till they closed the place down. It’s always one of the best parts of the whole proceedings. I had seen Lenny Kaye learning the word to a song while leaning up against a car. I know because I ask him. I thought he’d gotten a ticket and he informed me other wise. It must have been one of Neil Young songs because he performed an engaging version “Like a Hurricane”. I found myself singing along to “Like a Hurricane”. Then Rosie Flores was announced and join the fun up on the stage. Rosie sang, “If I Could Only Be With You” and then followed it up with a duet with Alejandro with a her and Dave Alvin wrote together called, “Goodbye Again”. The crowd was enthusiastic and riveted. In this time some how, some way, both Mike and Peter got past me. Strangely, Mike Mills started doing this hula move during the cover of a The Troggs “Love Is All Around”. Peter Buck was channeling Michael Stipe hiding in the back corner when Mike Mills strapped on his bass to lead us in a sing-a-long of “Don’t Go Back to Rockville.” I had waited all night for this moment and was pleased I’d made it. As quickly as they had arrived they departed. I pushed through the crowd to catch them, but poof, they were gone, gone, gone! Sniff! Alejandro finished the set with Waco Brothers member Jon Langford for a rousing version of The Clash‘s “Rock The Casbah”. Karen found me and indicated it was a good to leave. I agreed. It was a long week followed by a long day capped off by many amazing performances. It was now time to take the gold home and prepare for long travel day before us both. Here’s to next year: a bigger better SXSW and going for more Hipster Olympic gold!

09
Oct
11

Culture Collide Blowing Up the International Indie and Alternative Music Scenes in Silver Lake: Saturday

After making a late night and an early morning of it crunching a blog, sifting through, optimizing photos and making concert video I met up with Sandra at Taix. It was considerate of Sandra to save a place for me at Taix’s bar. We had just missed the Swedish showcase because we were running late. Thus missing the complementary Swedish beers. We caught up on the latest and discussed the upcoming line up for the next 2 days at Cultural Collide . Lanksies had a false start, which we found startling and funny. Then finally The Lanksies jumped in with their French version of Brit Pop: like Bloc Party, Adam Ant, XTC and Blur. It was hella fun! They were clever talented musicians that wrapped everything in a smirk and a wink. It was also very fun to hear the lead singer talk English with a slight French accent with an even heavier Scottish brogue. His pronunciation cause major confusion between Sandra and myself in the midst of our deducing Lanksies’ point of origin, even though they were introduced to be from France.  They gave a lot of bang for the buck. The closing song was a funny ditty called Client Eastwood is Dead. It was a snappy performance that made them memorable.

I headed over to the Methodist Church to catch my ole pal Carina Round who was supported by the amazing keyboardist Zac Rae. I love to hear her sing. She has such a beautiful and powerful voice. Her song writing and her composition are always superb. She was in fine voice this night; although, Zac had a buzz in one of the processors of his keyboard affects that was more distracting to them than the crowd in the church. It was an acoustic set with electric piano. Her fans were entranced and eating up the whole thing. She finished her set with Back Seat. It’s truly one of her most beautiful songs. She asked everyone to sing along. Then everyone joined in. I find that Back Seat is a powerfully sweet and sentimental that I choke up on it every time I sing a long. It was a great closer. I went up and got my free hug and briefly chatted. She had fans a waiting and who am I to stand in their way. Keep you eyes open for the upcoming Puscifer tour of which Carina will be an essential part of Puscifer’s show.

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Then I was off to Descartes a Kant. I had no idea what to expect. Woa, was I in for a surprise! The easiest way to describe them would be to compare them to The Plastics meeting The Tubes. They mix Doo Wop, orchestral mayhem, avant garde performance art and theatrics. I was bamboozle, flummoxed, befuddled by their colorful stage antics. The girls in the band through glitter on the crowd and sprayed eveyone in the audience with sudsy stuff while they pantomimed pouting, rage, surprise, horror, evny, wicked joy and revenge with all the mellow drama that could be mustard by three overly emotive gals. At times it was a drowning oral cacophony assault similar to the Locust with hyper amounts of estrogen poured on it. I found them thrilling, enthralling and hilarious! They had us by the balls and they were squeezing them tighter and smirking! There whole set was like listening to Gang of Four‘s He’s Send In The Army tied to a laugh. They are a must see performance on anybody’s book.

I then hunted up and down Sunset looking for the elusive space called 826LA. I was lucky enough to receive misdirection many times. But then I struck gold finding You Say France and I Whistle from Sweden. They were a mix of Love Is All, Weekend and Everything But The Girl with one exception, the male singer sounded like Robert Smith. So I would imagine when he sang I listening to Love Is All with Robert Smith would joining in for harmony at pivotal points in the sings. Odd,  but not repulsive, just odd. They had 3 singers two keyboards, a bass, a guitar and drums laying some smooth tasty Pop down with a little edge. I enjoyed the set and the crowd kept close and focused in this tight space as the music pumped out. It wasn’t a dramatic end to the evening, as I had hoped for, by finally seeing Isobel Campbell after 3 year of waiting. It was still a fabulously relaxing thing to do at the end of a long day of running around Silver lake.

31
Aug
11

Butthole Surfers Rolled Out Saturday as Sunset Junction Shimmers Away

As Sunset Junction melted away on a Wednesday afternoon, as much as, the prospect of my blogging and photographing of the event dripped away that day as well. Of course, there was a constant running dialog within a tight circle of friends on the Topic of Sunset Junction with it’s very much anticipated line up for Saturday and Sunday. This year’s line up was to be the  best and most concentrated ring of talent to have ever grace the streets of Sunset Junction in my memory. As the prospect of this inclusive weekend event broke into smaller fragments spreading amongst the various Eastside clubs, businesses and even local homes, I got a life line from my friend, Chris, who desperately wanted to see the Butthole Surfers and Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah. Sadly, only one was to come to pass. Chris invited me to review and photograph the Butthole Surfers at the Echo Plex with the lure of dinner and drinks. This was an easy sale!

Come Saturday, we planned to get together and as the plan developed we nested at Taix, which is within spitting distance of the Echo Plex. The week had been hectic and chaotic for me with moving and travel, while putting a video package, EPK, together for artist and one man band “Ricky Lee Robinson” at a special party and showcase Heidi Margot Richman put together with a group of music publishers. Fatigued, exhausted and hilariously immobilized by an accident earlier in the week I managed to joined Chris for our drinks anyway. We started our Rock N’ Roll quest by ramping up the fun level at Taix with drinks and gossip. We started with a round of beers and a shot of whisky followed by another round of beers and then finished up with the same and one last shot of whisky a piece. Our Taix waitress managed to serve some rather large shots. We were both very afraid of those shots and happy about it at the same time. So we delayed gratification by sipping gingerly the whisky presented and continued talking about music. Chris is an exhaustive collector of tunage, who’s interest spans from the early Seattle scene, exotic Pink Floyd releases, Peruvian Psychedelics and a host of alternative bands of note. His interest is more perfectly represented in his eBay Store Vinyl Piper. So our conversation was peppered with obscure and trivial details about music and the music business.

We had agreed upon a strategic hit at the Echo Plex, thus avoiding local favs, 400 Blows. This is not the British 400 Blows of the late 80’s who’s focus was experimental: cut and paste found sounds, beats and noise delivered with social conscious grooves. I have the greatest respect for their work. The British 400 Blows had a brilliant adaptation of Charles Manson‘s interview with Tom Snyder; which was a supreme twisty mind fuck. This LA based 400 Blows preform boring, dullish and unimaginative rock n’ roll fare: always to be avoided!

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Chris and I easily scooted through the line of the Echo Plex to enter in to the “Sold Out” land of the Butthole Surfers! It was nice to run into Bert Ferguson and Iris Tower-y to pow wow for a minute before the show got started. During my exploits I ran into Anthony Ausgang, Marialyce Pedersen, Amanda Sherren and the lovely Satanica Batcakes as the evening progressed. The crowd moved with urgent zeal as the band took the stage for a very anticipated show. By this time I had completely lost Chris, who was eager to see the Butthole Surfers, for the first time, as I was for this Texas based band. The fans were entrenched, vacuumed sealed, you might say, as I tried on a few occasion to drive deep to the center to get better photos of the band as they performed. I should say I’m far from being a devotee, my impressions of a Butthole Surfers’ performance aren’t that of a manic band or a high energy ensemble, but more of a band that is jammy and thinky by nature. They’re as much performance art as Laurie Anderson. The Butthole Surfers show consist of slides and snippets of sub-pop counter-culture collages-images and video installations. This propel the lyrical narrative with spliced psychedelic Dadaist approach to words/images, using hypnotic trance flavored tonal rock that puts them in a category and in ideologically alignment, with ideas and thinking that is more in line with Sonic Youth. Although, Sonic Youth is very different musically than the Butthole Surfers. I dipped into my Butthole Surfers brain trust of devotees, Marialyce  Pedersen and Satanic Batcakes to get a read on the performance. Marialyce was cooing the praises of the Butthole Surfers magical set. Satanca had a very different perspective of the Butthole Surfers show. She pointed out that the sound mix was sub par and muddy. She also claimed that the Butthole Surfers were best when two drummers were playing. This round King Coffey, only one drummer this round, was with the band as Satanica pointed out. She said the Butthole Surfers were best when two drummers were present, which included the drummer Teresa Nervosa, as the Butthole Surfers had had in San Francisco at the Filmore in 2008. The sound was muddy on the parameters of the crowd and in the pit the sound appeared to clear up: meaning there was a sweet spot. So there was poor sound design by the sound man at this show. The Butthole Surfers played there mid 90’s hit “Pepper” that faded between being the recognizable hit and defused oblivion, bringing home Satanica’s take on their performance. Other songs covered in the set were, Hey, The Shah Sleeps In Lee Harvey’s Grave, Creep in the Cellar and they encored with 22 Going on 23. The show had it’s compelling moments, but because Gibby spent most, if not all, of his time at the Vox and that static presence tended to created a stillness in middle the stage. Paul Leary and Jeff Pinkus had their volleys of action on either side, yet I found it hard for them to peak the stage energy in a synergistic way with Gibby’s Vox monolith between both. This lowered the overall energy of their set. I found I could hear in my mind where they wanted to go, but on a few occasions I couldn’t figure out with my ears where they were ending up. For true fans and devotees this a was a truly great performance. Hitting lots of high notes, digging deep from their older catalogue to the fan’s satisfaction. That all being said there were few defectors from the crowd at the Echo Plex during the performance: all lingering on every last morsels of delivered dosage by this siminal ground breaking post punk neo-psychedelic band. You can sign me up for another trip when the Butthole Surfers roll around again.




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