FREE DECEMBER 2005

FOO FIGHTERS o BRIAN EWING o LYNNS RAGS o JOE ESC AL ANTE o BANG SUGAR BANG o THE 88
DECEMBER 2005 FREE
DECEMBER 2005
C O N T E N T S
03
EDITOR’S NOTE
“B.Y.O.B.”
05
R U M O R S > S TA F F P I C K S
THE ADOLESCENTS RECLAIM THEIR ADOLESCENCE
SUBCRAWL.NET: TOMORROW’S ZEITGEIST TODAY
06
THE 88
PREVIEW: WORKING OUT THE ‘KINKS’
08
SYSTEM OF A DOWN
MADE IN AMERIC A
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JOE ESCAL ANTE
“Helmet Poster” art by Brian Ewing.
BARELY LEG AL R ADIO
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LYNN’S RAGS
COVER PHOTO: SYSTEM OF A DOWN : ROBERT SEBREE
WEAR ABLE NOSTALGIA
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CD REVIEWS
GREG L ASWELL : BRIDE ORDAINED
GOGOGO AIRHEART : TONY DA SKITZO
SHAOLIN PUNK : CHILDREN OF NUGGETS
24
BRIAN EWING
CULTURE: POSTER ART ’S POSTER CHILD
28
BANG SUGAR BANG
BACKSTAGE: FULLY LOADED AND TOTALLY SWEET!
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FOO FIGHTERS / WEEZER
BACKSTAGE: ANCHORMAN: DAVE GROHL
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THE GOODS
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T H E L O C A L P Y L E BY TIM PYLES
M U S I CM AT T E R S
01
editor’s note
M Ua S gI C M
Az T iT En R Se
m
a
editor
creative director/photography
copy editor/staff writer
editorial writers
contributing writers
contributing photographers
advertising
JEN HILBERT
KIMBERLY LOSTROSCIO
MARY SMEDES PIKE
TIM PYLES
MICHAEL CALDWELL
KEVIN FARR
DRYW KELTZ
BART MENDOZA
JEFF PENALTY
KIM SCHWENK
WILL K. SHILLING
PETE SKOVILL
MIKE WAX
JOHN GILHOOLEY
JEANEEN LUND
ROBERT SEBREE
RACHEL WOLFE
[email protected]
office: 619.749.7669
cell: 619.251.3346
webmaster
KEITH DRIVER
distribution
BEAU’S DISTRIBUTION SERVICE
publisher
GREG PASSMORE
MUSICMATTERS MAGAZINE
Please send all submission queries, CD’s, and any other questions for review/publication.
ATTN: JEN HILBERT
4901 Morena Blvd. Suite 211 San Diego, CA 92117
phone: 858.490.1620
fax: 858.490.1622
email: [email protected]
MUSICMATTERS Magazine, issue December 2005. Copyright © 2005
by MUSICMATTERS Magazine. Reproduction in whole or part without
permission is prohibited. Letters to MUSICMATTERS Magazine are assumed intended for publication in whole or part without permission from
the writer. MUSICMATTERS Magazine does not necessarily endorse the
lifestyles depicted in these pages. This magazine is intended for mature
audiences, and both the magazine publisher and staff encourage you to
live a responsible, healthy and balanced lifestyle while supporting your
local community and abiding by its laws. Please don’t become one of
the many tragic statistics of musicians overdosing, harming others or
generally behaving like an idiot.
02
M U S I C M AT T E R S
o
JEN HILBERT
editor
SYSTEM OF A DOWN HAS BEEN STEADILY GAINING
fans for a number of years now. But the strength of their
current popularity didn’t really hit me until shortly after the
release of Mesmerize. It was during that time period that I was
invited to stop by a local radio station and play some of my
favorite songs. I was sitting in the station after announcing
the first song on my playlist when a listener called in to request
System of a Down’s “B.Y.O.B.” Unfortunately, “B.Y.O.B.”
was not on my playlist. When the DJ and I tried to explain
that “B.Y.O.B.” would not be the next song, the perturbed
listener angrily instructed me to do things to his private parts
(something about “sucking”) that I wouldn’t do if he paid
me. And quite frankly, if he paid me it would be illegal. But
anyway - you get my drift. So why am I telling you this? Well,
other than my surprise at the caller’s obvious sensitivity to
all that is politically correct (yes, I’m being sarcastic), what
struck me most was just how adamant he was about hearing
this song. So adamant, in fact, that he called a couple more
times during that one-hour show. And he wasn’t the only
one. Several other listeners called in to request “BYOB” too.
Of the dozen or so calls the DJ took from listeners during
my visit, I’d say about half had something to do with System
of a Down. That’s pretty impressive - even if the callers are
making you offers that’d make a sailor blush.
Released in May of 2005, Mesmerize debuted at No. 1 on
the Billboard Charts and has continued to keep a place on
the charts for 24 weeks,
probably longer by the
time you are reading
this. In late November
System of a Down
released the counterpart
to Mesmerize, entitled
Hypnotize. I expect
that it too will blaze
up the charts. It seems
so unlikely that a hard
rock band known for its
satirical and politicallycharged lyrics would resonate with so many people, but
obviously System is filling a much needed role. They are
voicing the concerns of others and have thereby created a
very loyal fan base.
Speaking of loyalty, I’d like to take the opportunity to
thank all of you for supporting MusicMatters. Sadly, this
will be our last issue. Publishing MusicMatters has been
an amazing experience. We hope you have enjoyed the
magazine and we look forward to supporting the local
music scene in future endeavors.
o Jen
M U S I CM AT T E R S
03
o
JOE HARRISON OF WRECKING CREW : DAVID HARRISON
LESLIE HALL : GEMSWEATER.COM
OPPOSITE: SARA PETITE PHOTO: KIM LOSTROSCIO
THE ADOLESCENTS RECLAIM THEIR ADOLESCENCE
04
M U S I C M AT T E R S
THE 15-YEAR-OLD ENCINITAS
lead guitarist for a young local
band, Wrecking Crew, was asked
to fill in on tour with punk rock
legends the Adolescents this past
summer. Joe Harrison accompanied the band on their East Coast
tour, performing with them in
New York (at CBGB), Washington
D.C., Boston, Philly, Atlanta, and
Florida, and then returned for a
performance at Street Scene in
San Diego. It’s quite a site to see
this teen hold his own on stage
with the seasoned Adolescents,
most of whom are in their 40’s.
They kicked off a West Coast tour
with this rockin’ lad and played
San Francisco, Seattle, San Jose,
and Vancouver, Canada. Mom/manager Paula Harrison joined up with the tour to
keep an eye on things in the mosh pit but reported, “He’s having the time of his
15-year-old life.” Joe is continuing to fill in for the Adolescents when needed and
has also been asked to sub for Narcoleptic Youth on their upcoming mini-tour (SF,
Sacramento, Hollywood, etc.) and with the Adolescents during Christmas break.
Joe’s hoping he’ll have earned enough to buy his own car by the time he turns 16
next year. In the meantime, his local band, Wrecking Crew, released their new EP,
Static Dream, on Finger Records in November. The local record release show/party
will be at the Jumping Turtle in San Marcos on Sat., 12/17, 6pm. Future bookings
include 12/29 @ the Galaxy in OC w/ the Adolescents, Cadillac Tramps, etc.; 1/7
@ SOMA or HOB in SD w/ the Adolescents; and 1/29 @ HOB in SD w/ the Dead
Kennedys, Angry Samoans. Not too bad for a bunch of local teenagers...
SUBCRAWL.NET : TOMORROW’S ZEITGEIST TODAY
WHAT DO WEIRD
sweaters, pet cemeteries,
female KKK members,
Little Nemo, Egyptian
curses, and Pirates of the
Caribbean have in common? They’re all fodder
for conversation on the
new informative blog
site called subcrawl.net.
Subcrawl’s aim is to alert
its readers to the most
curious and intriguing stories and information circulating out there in cyberspace
before anyone else does. Created by Kim Cooper, editor of Scram, a journal of
unpopular culture, the website is a group link blog with the slogan “tomorrow’s
zeitgeist today.” Its crew of contributors/spelunkers includes novelists, journalists, and media consultants who post something new, weird, and cool every day.
Check it out for yourself at www.subcrawl.net and impress your friends by telling
the strangest story at your next dinner party!
rumor
STAFF PICKS
Bang Sugar Bang
Thwak Thwak Go Crazy!!
SOS Records
Released - December 2005
Listening to Bang Sugar Bang is like pouring a whole packet of Pop Rocks
candy into your mouth - it’s sweet AND explosive! The LA trio combine
glad pop melodies, old school punk riffs, and witty lyrics that’ll have you
in stitches. Thwak Thwak Go Crazy!! is a powder keg of power punk fun!
www.bangsugarbang.com
Six Foot Deathtrap
Vindication
Self-Produced
Released - December 2005
All things metal are certainly vindicated on Vindication! This CD is
pure aggression. It launches an attack on your senses that compels you
to stop playing the victim, get off your ass, and go make a difference. A
punishing, blistering metal masterpiece, Vindication’s tracks would be
right at home on your local hard rock station played alongside some of the
band’s own influences like Pantera and Tool. www.sixfootdeathtrap.com
The Clock Work Army
A Catalyst For Change EP
Banter Records
Released - September 2005
The most exciting new group of up-and-comers in the San Diego
scene, The Clock Work Army have released their first four-song EP
entitled A Catalyst For Change. The EP title may be a forecast for
this band’s potential to make its mark. They mix haunting melodies
with dancy beats and layer new wave elements like pulsing guitars,
keyboard, and hand-clapped rhythms; a formula that has a way of
drawing you deep into each song as it crescendos to its height of
emotion and musical complexity. Vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist
Emily Neveu can both whisper and belt her unique poetry equally
convincingly. Keep an eye out for a full-length album, due out January
2006. www.banterrecords.com, www.theclockworkarmy.com
Cape May
Cape May
Calico Cartel Recordings
Released - May 2005
A significant accomplishment for a first-time D.I.Y. effort, Cape May’s
full-length, self-titled album mixes classic rock and indie rock sounds,
bridging the gap between distinguishing elements from both genres.
Admitted influence from The Strokes, The Smiths, The Doors, collides
with the sounds of Louis XIV, Franz Ferdinand, and even flecks of
Interpol and Oasis. Vocals tend to veer the sound toward a darker,
weightier rock, but the instruments mellow the songs back to their
intended territory. Each track stands alone, allowing for a multiple of
favorites. Keep an eye out for a new six-song EP! www.capemayrocks.com
M U S I CM AT T E R S
05
preview
o
The 88’s Carlos Torres, Anthony Zimmitti, Keith
Slettedahl, Adam Merrin, and Brandon Jay.
volume knobs, while the acoustic “You Belong to Me”
sounds as if it could have been a Nick Drake outtake or
an old Chris Bell demo. MusicMatters recently caught up
with The 88’s Keith Slettedahl.
What’s the inspiration behind the name The 88?
We found the name in a French Kicks song. They have a song
called “The 88,” and I think Brandon (the band’s guitarist)
wrote it down. We had hundreds of names to choose from, and
it was the only one we could all kind of get behind. The first
recognized rock and roll song is called “Rocket 88,” which is
an Ike Turner song, and also there are 88 keys on a piano, and
we’ve always been a piano-based kind of band.
Was there anything you guys intentionally set out to do differently for this album than you did on the first album?
We set out to work with a producer, which we didn’t do on the
first one. We wanted to work with somebody who wanted
to let all of us just play music and not have to worry about
engineering and being on the other side of it.
How does your songwriting process work?
I usually bring a song in varying degrees of completion, and
then we mess around with it. The guys in the band bring a lot
of different parts to the songs. Adam plays things on piano that
I would never think of playing. I used to try to write complete
songs and parts, but I stopped doing that because they come
up with a lot more interesting stuff than I do a lot of times.
THE 88
WORKING OUT THE ‘KINKS’
by Dryw Keltz
photo: Jeaneen Lund
AMIDST A SEA OF POSITIVE PRESS, L.A.’S THE 88 JUST RELEASED
Over and Over, the follow-up to their much lauded debut Kind of Light. Over and
Over finds the band in the same mindset and seems to live and die by the ancient
credo, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Once again, the Kinks comparisons are gonna be flying fast and heavy. As if
lead singer Keith Slettedahl’s voice sounding nearly identical to that of Ray
Davies wasn’t enough, the band’s keyboard-heavy instrumentation only serves to
solidify the comparison. But these guys are far from being a Kinks revival. Songs
like “Head Cut Off” display a sonic palette that reaches beyond such obvious comparisons. On this track the band produces a powerful anthem that combines the
soaring chorus of Oasis’ better work alongside a punchy vaudeville-esque bass
and piano-driven verse. In fact, pianist Adam Merrin’s contribution to the band
can in no way be understated. It’s nice to hear the piano being used in a primary
role as opposed to simply providing extra hooks. Ben Folds would be proud.
As usual, the band throws pristine power-pop offerings into the mix. “All Cause
of You” is a catchy rocker that shows these guys aren’t afraid to turn up the
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M U S I C M AT T E R S
So do you come in with the verses and chorus, and then the
other guys add a bridge or something?
In general I come up with most of the parts and definitely all of
the melody ideas. I think that’s my area of expertise, and then
as far as arrangements and adding parts to the songs, they all
do a great job with that.
There’s obviously a heavy Kinks influence in your
sound. Can you think of a less obvious influence that
might surprise people?
The one band that we’ve mentioned a bunch is The Band.
Did you grow up listening to pretty much traditional
classic rock or were you into any of the SST bands or punk
or alternative stuff from the 80’s?
When I was young I liked the heavy metal stuff, and then I got
into Led Zeppelin. Once I got to The Beatles, that was pretty
much it. I was never into punk rock. I’m embarrassed to say
that I don’t know that stuff at all.
Well I figured you were into heavy metal from the way the
album sounds. (Mutual Laughs) It always seems to be The
Beatles that are the big revelation.
Well, you know, I think there’s a reason - they’re the best. o
M U S I CM AT T E R S
07
MADE IN AMERIC A
by Michael Caldwell
photos: Robert Sebree
WHILE WATCHING THE SLIME OOZING from your TV set, it
might be hard to believe, but America still works. System of a Down
is proof. Comprised of three immigrants and one alien, (vocalist
Serj Tankian and drummer John Dolmayan were born in Lebanon,
bassist Shavo Odadjian is from Armenia, and guitarist/vocalist
Daron Malakian came from another planet altogether - Hollywood)
System of a Down is a living example of the idealistic, and too often
theoretical, American philosophy, “It’s not where you come from
but what you do that matters.”
Of course in the media it can be hard to find mention of the band
without the reductive, hyphenated “Armenian-American” tag. It’s
as if to say they’re American, but in a subtracted sense. A hyphen
looks a lot like a minus symbol, don’t you think? We, Americans,
are constantly sorting people by color or category: “underprivileged” vs. “privileged” and
“blue” vs. “red” are two recent instances. No
one said America doesn’t have issues - in this
case with race and ethnicity - but all musicians
have cultural and ethnic influences. What’s
Armenia got to do with it?
Founded ten years ago in Los Angeles, System of a Down actualized the American dream
when Rick Rubin signed them to his record
label (the aptly named American Recordings).
System’s slice of the pie grew sweeter when
their self-titled 1998 debut went platinum.
Since then, the band has gone on to sell 10
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M U S I CM AT T E R S
09
system of a down o
million albums, with each release achieving platinum status: 2001’s Toxicity (which
sported four top ten singles, including the #1
hit “Aerials”), 2002’s Steal This Album!, and
their latest, 2005’s Mezmerize/Hypnotize
(one album released as two separate discs,
six months apart. Hypnotize just hit stores
November 22).
System’s achievement is a good example of
this country’s propensity for producing unlikely success stories. Their music is a melting pot
of anomalous progressive metal, bubbling over
with jack hammer guitars, precision drumming, faux-operatic-falsetto wails, demented
warbling, twist-on-a-dime time signature
changes, and any other stimulus that has ever
crossed one of the band members’ synapses.
Add to all of this a steaming heap of humor. Case
in point, lyrics on Mezmerize include: “My shit
stinks much better than yours” from “Cigaro.”
While on the cut “This Cocaine Makes Me Feel
Like I’m on this Song,” Malakian and Tankian
repeatedly scream, “Gonorrhea gorgonzola!”
In short, System of a Down is the bastard son of
Frank Zappa - another unlikely musical success
with a penchant for thick, dark facial hair.
And…if you’re prone to believe in such
things, you might find the relationship between
Zappa (who passed away in 1993) and SOAD
to be more than a matter of mere musical influence. In a 2002 interview conducted by author
and infamous “super-groupie” Pamela Des
Barres, Zappa’s wife Gail had this to say about
her husband’s music, “You’d give Frank a
piece of information, and that thing comes out
transmogrified in a way that you never imagined, and it belongs to him. He f--king owns
it in a way that no one else ever could.” Mrs.
Z. went on to say, “For those of us that believe
in reincarnation, the good news is that I think
Frank is gonna come back, hear his music, and
write more.” One listen to Mezmerize/Hypnotize (saturated with insightful, satirical, social,
and political commentary, executed with a
kick-in-the-pants musicality) and it’s easy to
think Frank has already returned.
That millions of Americans have been able
to relate to the uncompromising juggernaut
known as System of a Down speaks positively
(and at times disturbingly) about the nation’s
mental health – at least that portion that comprises the band’s base. Like their musical
father Frank, System of a Down make the most
of their first amendment rights, speaking freely
and openly through their lyrics. Take, for example, two antiwar protest songs from Mezmerize: “B.Y.O.B.” (“Why don’t presidents fight
the war/ Why do they always send the poor?”)
And: “You and me/ We’ll all go down in history/
With a sad Statue of Liberty/ And a generation
that didn’t agree” from “Sad Statue.”
Not merely content to talk the talk, the band is
also active in trying to persuade the American
government to officially recognize the death of
an estimated 1.5 million Armenians between
the years 1915 and 1923 at the hands of the
Ottoman Turks. This atrocity, though not yet
formally acknowledged by the United Nations,
has been called the first genocide of the 20th
century. In October of this year Tankian and
Dolmayan walked the walk when they traveled
to Batavia, Illinois. Alongside members of the
Armenian Youth Federation, Axis of Justice,
the Armenian National Committee of America,
and SOAD fans, the two musicians rallied in
an effort to get the attention of Illinois Representative J. Dennis Hastert. As Speaker of
the House, Hastert has the power to allow legislation recognizing the Armenian Massacre
to be voted on in Congress.**
The importance of history being remembered
in order for future atrocities to be prevented is
not a cliché. A link from SOAD’s website leads
to theforgotten.org, where an archival 1999
ABC News broadcast with Peter Jennings summarizes the circumstances surrounding the
massacre. According to Jennings’ report, Armin T. Wegner, an officer in the German army,
photographed the horrors perpetrated against
the Armenians. When in the 1930’s Adolf Hitler was preparing his annihilation of the Jews,
Wegner asked Hitler to leave the Jews alone.
Hitler’s response was, “Who remembers what
happened to the Armenians now?”
The members of System are doing more than
entertaining music fans. They are educating in-
dividuals and sparking thought and discourse.
Tankian, however, has stated that he doesn’t
feel any particular responsibility in discussing social or political matters – it’s just a part
of who he is. “I’ve always had a problem with
injustice, whether it’s personal, national, international, or universal. It’s just always bothered
me to the point where I have to say or do something. I think action is worth a million words
though, as far as that’s concerned.”
The band is still raging against the machine,
only now they’re working within the system
to bring down injustices. As they’ve matured
over the years, the group has rounded out (if
not softened) their delivery. SOAD no longer
relies exclusively on blasts of lyrical and musical buckshot to get their message across.
They’ve learned that on occasion a wellplaced harmony can create a bigger bang
than a scream. And increasingly, their sense
of humor adds levity to their deep and heavy
subject matter. As Tankain says, “If there’s
one thing I’d like to do more than anything
else, it’s not to take this life too seriously.”
However, it’s plain to see that System is
serious about being true to themselves and
their music. “We’re really an honest band that’s why people are listening to us,” Malakian has said of the group. Practicing what
they preach, System operates as a democracy.
They’ve acknowledged that they don’t always
agree, but when someone is making a compelling argument everyone listens - even if that
person is in the minority.
Hopefully more societal systems will operate
in a manner similar to and with the success of
System of a Down. The system is not down - it
is up and running. There’s no reason not to ask
what your country can do for you, but we’ve all
got to do our part as well. That’s the only way
America works. o
**More information regarding the Armenian Genocide can be found by visiting systemofadown.com, aremenian-genocide.org, and
genocide1915.info.
“I’ve always had a problem with injustice, whether it’s personal,
national, international, or universal. It’s just always bothered me to the point
where I have to say or do something. I think action is worth a million words
though, as far as that’s concerned.”
10
M U S I CM AT T E R S
System of a Down: John Dolmayan, Daron
Malakian, Serj Tankian, and Shavo Odadjian.
M U S I CM AT T E R S
11
o
spotlight
JOE
ESCALANTE
BARELY LEGAL RADIO
by Jeff Penalty
photo: Kim Lostroscio
JOE ESCALANTE. BASSIST FOR THE VANDALS.
Founder of Kung Fu Records. Matador. (Yeah, that’s
right - matador. Look it up!) And now: host of “Barely
Legal,” a weekly radio show offering free legal advice
on L.A.’s Indie 103.1 FM.
“Actually, my original idea was a TV show that was
part Judge Judy and part American Idol where I would
settle disputes in a robe,” Joe jokes…I think. “But that
was crazy talk. I eventually realized it worked better as
a talk radio thing. Call-in legal advice for the entertainment industry, with wanna-be’s welcome.”
And that’s basically it, at least on the surface; a call-in
show for people who are trying to break into the music,
film, or TV industries and are, therefore, too poor to afford (but desperately in need of) a lawyer. But Escalante’s sense of humor, honest and well-informed advice,
and ability to make the dry realities of the law accessible
to flaky musician types make the show so much more.
It probably helps immensely that he’s a musician type
himself. Joe attended law school - undergrad at UCLA,
post-grad at Loyola Marymount University - while
playing bass for the class clowns of punk rock, The
Vandals, on the side. “I decided I wanted to add more
to this world than just mediocre bass playing,” he says,
“so I took the plunge and went to law school. It was
three of the funnest years of my life, and I came out with
a bunch of info in my head... but a $100,000 student
loan bill.” He adds the following advice for those who
are currently in or applying to law school: “The job of
lawyer sucks big time, unless you are a prosecutor or
a couple other rare exceptions. Going to law school,
however, is a big party. Use your own judgment.”
Later, Joe went on to found Kung Fu Records, one
of the most successful independent punk labels in existence today. “That turned out to be a great decision
because the label flourished, and The Vandals got to
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M U S I C M AT T E R S
finally have a real career playing all over the world
over and over and making friends everywhere.” It also
exposed him to every aspect of the music industry from
every angle, giving him practical experience beyond
what anyone might ever hope to learn in a classroom.
And his practical experience in the independent film
world was subsequently supplemented by the fact that
Kung Fu Records branched out into Kung Fu Films,
which has released a series of live concert DVD’s called
The Show Must Go Off! as well as two independent
films, That Darn Punk and Cake Boy, the former of
which starred and the latter of which was directed by
Mr. Escalante himself.
Joe’s entertainment law expertise comes not only
from running his label, but also from being lucky
enough to land a dream gig making talent deals at
CBS immediately after graduating from law school.
He had a hand in making deals for shows ranging from Rescue 911 to Everybody Loves Raymond.
“Without a doubt, [it was] the best job you could
ever hope to land as an attorney,” he says. Among his
fond memories of working at CBS is when he convinced Chuck Norris to sing his own theme song for
the show Walker: Texas Ranger. “Chuck sent me a
copy of this song that one of his black belts wrote and
asked me what I thought,” he recalls. “I said it kicked
ass and it reminded me of an old school TV theme like
The Beverly Hillbillies, which was also a CBS show.
I told him we gotta get in the studio and make some
Hollywood history, and we did. That’s my TV legacy.
Whenever that song pops up all over the world it’s a
good feeling. I’ve worshipped television since birth,
and it was fun to be a part of it.”
Beyond that, Joe says he misses being a lawyer “like
I miss my teenage acne.” Joe’s brutal honesty about the
legal profession is one of the more endearing elements
M U S I CM AT T E R S
13
spotlight
o
of the show. For those whose eyes roll involuntarily every
time someone starts speaking in legal jargon about statutes
or copyrights, it is refreshing to hear an experienced attorney discuss the “unofficial” side of entertainment law. “Too
many lawyers I know are so unhappy with their miserable
jobs they seem to ruin deals. They advise their clients to only
make deals if you can take advantage of the other side and
brag about how powerful you are. Then there are the lawyers
that really want to be vice presidents of labels or managers.
They have a lot of influence over the decisions of their clients, and when they have this other agenda the client always
suffers in the end.” He finally concedes, “There are a few decent lawyers out there. When you find one, stick with that
person and make sure you pay them.”
“Barely Legal” also features weekly guests from different
areas of the entertainment industry who lend their advice
and experience to the show. “Maynard [Keenan, vocalist
for Tool] was the best because he was the first, and it sent a
jolt around the industry for a couple days because he didn’t
tell any of his handlers that he was going to do it, and everyone got all paranoid that [L.A. rock station] KROQ might
punish them or their other clients for being connected with
such a scandal. There’s a lot of fear out there, I’ve found.
I [also] enjoyed having Jon Cryer, ‘cause who doesn’t like
Duckie.” Joe’s other favorite? “Paul Williams, because he’s
my brother-in-law.”
And then there is the final element: the callers. For the
most part, people call in with questions that most people
in creative professions need answered but rarely think to
ask. No legal topic goes undiscussed, from rights to royalties, from contracts to corporate status, and Joe answers
each question in a way that benefits the listeners in general
as much as the callers specifically. Even in the course of my
interview with Joe he offers some sound advice: “I get a lot
of calls from people wanting to know how they can screw
someone, like it’s okay to do that and just because I’m a lawyer I’m going to think that’s cool and tell them how to do
it… I spell it out for them. Don’t screw people, it will come
back to bite you. You always have to treat people as if you are
going to have to deal with them and their friends over and
over again. Everyone must win in every negotiation or it’s
shortsighted and evil.”
On every level, the show is enjoyable and essential. It
takes a special blend of humor and accessibility to make
entertainment law entertaining, but the frank attitude of
“Barely Legal” makes it work and is best encapsulated
in Joe’s answer to my final question: Have your matador
skills ever translated into your legal wranglings?
“No,” he says, “there’s too much emphasis on stabbing
your adversary in the front.”
“Barely Legal” airs on Fridays at 11am PST on L.A.’s
Indie 103.1 FM or on the web at www.indie1031.fm. Read
more and listen to archived programs at www.barelylegalradio.com, and send your legal questions to [email protected] o
14
M U S I C M AT T E R S
M U S I CM AT T E R S
15
fashion
o
o
fashion
Lynns Rags
photography by Kim Lostroscio
modeled by Alissa
make-up by Quinn Kerrigan
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M U S I C M AT T E R S
Lynn VanBrocklin is the creative force
behind Lynn’s Rags, an innovative, D.I.Y.
fashion line that works vintage concepts
into modern, wearable nostalgia. After
six years’ experience as a resale buyer,
Lynn has launched her own successful
online store and has begun supplying
her designs to local resale stores. Each
piece is one-of-a-kind and inspired by
the memories of Lynn’s youth, such as
80’s cartoon sheets, lacy nightgowns,
and her mom’s outfits from the 70’s.
Her inspirations generally come from
the past, and she re-envisions them in a
modern context. “My vision is simple,
to take vintage clothing and turn it into
something modern and wearable. In a
society ruled by trends, I fight for individuality. I value the power of expressing
oneself through what you wear. Selling
my clothing allows me to give young
men and women a sense of joy when they
wear something completely original and
nostalgic.” www.lynnsrags.com
M U S I CM AT T E R S
17
18
M U S I C M AT T E R S
S D M U S I CM AT T E R S . C O M
19
cd review
o
cd reviews
o
GREG LASWELL
THROUGH TOLEDO
SELF-PRODUCED
Rated:
oooo
GREG LASWELL IS ONE OF THE MOST SOUGHT-AFTER PROducers/engineers in San Diego by singer/songwriters and is well
seasoned in the studio. It doesn’t hurt that his studio also happens to be
his home - a comfort zone thoroughly evident on his recordings. His selfproduced and recorded 2004 album, Good Movie, won a San Diego Music
Award for “Best Local Recording.” He also enjoyed plenty of radio airplay
and touring experience as frontman for Shillglen (voted one of the “Best
Unsigned Artists”, SLAMM, ‘00). Laswell is a self-proclaimed jack of all
trades and has the track record to prove it. On his new CD, Through Toledo, he acts as singer, songwriter, one-man-band, engineer, and producer.
Through Toledo was delivered to me during two rare weeks of rain in
San Diego, and the timing could not have been more fitting. Pounding
rain on a windshield is the perfect accompaniment to Laswell’s raspy
voice telling tales of heartbreak and self-redemption. Laswell’s tendency
to paint himself the constant protagonist on Through Toledo reminded
me of Pete Yorn’s nonchalant delivery on his Music For The Morning After. With song titles like “I’m Amazed,” “I’m Hit,” “Do What I Can,”
and lyrics to match, Laswell is seemingly the good guy done wrong and
wants you to know it. He paints vivid scenes through his narrative style
and constant references to the gray cityscapes of Seattle and San Francisco. Each track melts into the next with such ease, Through Toledo
plays more like a short film than a full-length album.
The production along with Laswell’s controlled delivery gives the
album a seamless feel. However, his studio experience definitely allows
Laswell to compensate for some lyrical shortcomings. Laswell throws
out his fair share of clichés (“even stevens”?), but the combination of
his grave delivery and depth of production manages to make them somehow sound heartfelt. These little trip-ups often go unnoticed because on
Through Toledo the mood is more important than the message.
o “SNEAKY” PETE SKOVILL
BRIDE ORDAINED
SO, NOW COMES SALVATION
SELF-PRODUCED
Rated:
oooo
YOU KNOW THOSE SMALL, SCENE-LOOKING KIDS WITH THE
too-small-for-them t-shirts and tight pants? Those kids that all the old,
bitter punks call “emo”? This is them, except that they aren’t emo,
despite what the bitter old punks would have you believe. I think it’s
because the old punks aren’t down to give it a chance, so they group
these bands into one easy-to-define category of disgust.
I was one of those over-categorizers. Until one day Nathan Black and
I went to Ground Zero (in San Diego) to see Until Fest (www.untilindustries.com), my first hardcore show ever. If you’ve never been to a
hardcore show... you have to go. These kids are KILLING it! Bride Ordained came on stage and completely destroyed my ear drums. It was
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M U S I C M AT T E R S
very surreal to see how much energy they were putting into the crowd.
When the first breakdown hit the crowd went ape shit! Floor punching,
side stepping, and throwing roundhouse kicks. I swear on everything
there was a fucking ninja there! I’m not just talking about the way the
hardcore kids dance, I’m talking about dressed in all black, wearing
taboo shoes and a mask with an eye slit mother f---ing ninja! Needless to
say the show was awesome and, much like every band in the world, they
have to be seen live for their power to really be felt.
Because of them I’m now into bands I wouldn’t have otherwise given
the chance, like Black Dahlia Murder, Bleeding Through, and Burnt by
the Sun. If you like the influences of good old metal, like double bass
drums, tight breakdowns, and cookie monster vocals, or you just generally like to rock the hell out, then buy this. And turn it way up!
Disclaimer - Don’t get me wrong, Emo still sucks, and I would
NEVER, EVER condone listening to it... but the moral of this story is
that not all those kids are emo. And that Bride Ordained rules! myspace.
com/brideordained o MIKE WAX blackwaxonline.com
GOGOGO AIRHEART
RATS! SING! SING!
GOLD STANDARD LABORATORIES
Rated:
ooo
“GIVE ME A GOOD RHYTHM AND YOU CAN USE ANY KIND OF
melody on top of it,” Mike Vermillion, guitarist-vocalist of San Diego
eclecto-indie-rock heroes GoGoGo Airheart, has claimed in the past. And
with Rats! Sing! Sing!, Vermillion - along with longtime bass partner
Ashish “Hash” Vyas, drummer Andy Robillard, and guitarist Ben White
- pushes that dubious maxim to the outer limits of pop listenability, underground experimentalism, and pure artistic indulgence. The results,
with fleeting chunks of sheer guitar joy, sheets of lo-fi art-pop sheen, and
no small dose of useless aimlessness, are surely not for the safe at heart.
If you’re looking for easy-to-understand sing-alongs, formulaic song
structure, or memorable, sentimental lyrics, look elsewhere, Virginia.
But (and this is one big BUT), if you don’t mind your indie rock songs
coming with “an inherent cost of admission,” the self-described sonic
inscrutability the band seems to revel in to the point of exclusion, then
by all means dive into Rats! with ears and pharmaceutically-addled mind
wide open. There’s enough style-jacking to last art-pop fiends a long,
cold winter of trying to decipher which progression owes more to Wire
or Gang of Four, whether or not Vermillion is trying to channel John
Lydon or pre-World Music David Byrne, and just how in the hell a bunch
of disjointed, sonic cul-de-sacs and incomplete song ideas can grow so
addictive over just a few repeated listens.
The only thing truly “punk” (a label often thrown GGGAH’s way)
about the record is Vermillion’s complete aversion to melodic progression, and this can certainly wear on one’s expectations, but some think
that’s a good thing. Then again, when a completely surprising (and welcomed) bridge comes to an abrupt halt, as it does on the more pop-leaning opener “Lie with the Lamb,” or when an otherwise gorgeously jagged
guitar riff is needlessly derailed by a puerile, atonal rant from Vermillion
on “Taxi Up,” one can’t help but wonder just how appealing a more disciplined, song-straddling version of this otherwise striking, challenging
underground masterpiece could have been. o WILL K. SHILLING
M U S I CM AT T E R S
21
cd reviews
o
TONY DA SKITZO
THE GOOD THE BAD THE SKITZO
SIZE 12 RECORDS
Rated:
ooo
TONY DA SKITZO’S THE GOOD THE BAD THE SKITZO, IS AN
average album with various points of potentiality sticking out like
something really ugly or beautiful that you can’t help but notice. The
album tries to deliver a reinvented version of that old skool feel. It’s got
a certain dirty, grimy basement feel to it. The basement feel is tight,
providing a good foundation for da Skitzo’s sound, but the album just
couldn’t hold my attention.
A lot of the beats are simple loops in heavy rotation. Almost every
track has rough transitions in the intro or when the beat changes up
or progresses. The beats drop off quickly on a lot of tracks. The album
isn’t wack on any level, its just kinda boring in totality. This is mainly
due to the beats. The lyrical content is mediocre.
Like I previously stated, some of the cuts have choppy transitions between parts of the beat. This occurs frequently when samples are mashed
up against different samples and repeated too many times. It’s as if these
cats are making beats with an old skool analog tape deck, rocking the
play, pause, and record buttons.
The standout track on this album is the instrumental beat “World
Wide/Yao Ming?” This beat is sick. All of the elements of the track
work in harmony with each other. The piano line, the samples, the
rhythm, the beat... the track flows. If each cut were of the caliber of
“World Wide,” the album would be the shit.
Some cats might feel this album on different levels specific to their
taste. It’s got some tight samples and some decent bars, but overall it’s a
sleeper. There’s too much repetition with samples and not enough flow
in the beats. The album stays positive, with some abstract and ethereal
ideas thrown about. Nevertheless, this album evoked a feeling of fatigue
as my mind wandered and my attention fizzled away. o KEVIN FARR
SHAOLIN PUNK
EVERYTHING DISEASE
SELF-PRODUCED
Rated:
oooo
JUST WHEN YOU THINK THE MINDS OF THE INSURRECTION
have yielded to gluttonous fortune-stop, dear music consumer, and
pick from the tree of the copyleft. Believe it or not, there are bands out
there, even in San Diego, that distribute music freely, consent acknowledged, in hopes to disrupt a general dominance of corporate media. All
you have to do is click.
Local industrial-metallists Shaolin Punk take a political and personal
cause against industry mongers with the latest downloadable full-length
album Everything Disease - a surreal leap into a swarm of indecipherable
heaviness cradled in the arms of delicate meditation. The six-piece collective on this album has stepped up a notch with elements of cohesive
production to create an ominous and polished sound product. Guitarist
Miriku speaks adamantly about the time investment for Everything
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M U S I C M AT T E R S
Disease, saying, “There’s a lot more details, layers, and ornamentations…. ‘Secondary Scum’ has 36 stereo tracks in it… stuff barely at the
human hearing range.” Likewise, rather than piggyback predictably on
the sounds of classic industrial like Skinny Puppy or Machines of Loving
Grace, Shaolin Punk has rearranged structures and shuffled tempos to
verses, again “each time adding another little bit of complexity.”
Evidently, experimentation is key on Everything Disease, translating from a conscious effort to interpreting the definition of aggression
through a wall of guitars and grinding data beats. The album is entrenched deeply within the threat of an audio arsenal but vocally quietly
dips down with a lick and a kiss of fetishized intimacy both a saint and
a sinner would appreciate. In this prudent time, a little sensual subversion can’t hurt.
Rather than ponder everyday disillusionments, Shaolin Punk manages to take on audible presumption, enforced censorship, and gentry
mores and package them in a convenient clip ready to be consumed by
the minds of the disenfranchised and discontent. The message is: Don’t
just do... think, then do. www.shaolin-punk.com o KIM SCHWENK
VARIOUS ARTISTS
CHILDREN OF NUGGETS
RHINO RECORDS
Rated:
ooooo
RELEASED IN 1973, THE ORIGINAL NUGGETS SERIES WAS A
compilation of obscure garage band tracks from the mid sixties. While
the album didn’t sell much when originally released, like other famous
discs that didn’t make an impact initially (Velvet Underground,
Stooges, etc.), the music’s influence is registered in something much
more important than chart positions - inspiring a new generation of
artists to take up guitars. Now comes a 100-track box set of bands
that were influenced by the original set.
This collection ranges from the late seventies to the mid nineties with
the bulk of the tunes coming from the genre’s golden era, 1981-88. For
the casual music fan, these four discs include tracks from many of the
genre’s obvious bigger names like The Cramps, The Bangles, The La’s,
The Smithereens, The Plimsouls, and others. But what makes this an
absolutely essential collection for fans of either rock or pop is that, in
keeping with the original’s theme of spotlighting lesser-known indie
gems, the set’s primary function is to unearth a lot of amazing groups
that flew just under the radar.
While there is no rhyme or reason to the sequencing, the set is compiled with the songs in mind, resulting in a great listen with one choice
cut after another. The Rain Parade’s lazy, psychedelic “You Are My
Friend” rubs shoulders with the Soft Boys’ punk-tinged “I Wanna Destroy You,” and The Posies’ melancholy lament “Apologies” contrasts
with the Church’s jangly guitar rocker “The Unguarded Moment,”
adding up to an almost alternate history of the past 25 years of music.
Just scratching the surface here of course, but even at 100 tracks, the
obvious care spent in compiling this set makes it one of the few box sets
that actually leaves you wanting more. Perfect for music historians or
simply anyone wanting to crank up the stereo, Children of Nuggets is an
indispensable collection of songs that deserve this wider opportunity to
be heard. o BART MENDOZA
M U S I CM AT T E R S
23
o
culture
Brian
Ewing
Poster Art’s Poster Child
by Mary Smedes Pike
art by Brian Ewing
photo: Kim Lostroscio
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M U S I C M AT T E R S
“ALL YOU DO IS DRAW SKULLS AND BLOODY EYEBALLS,”
Brian Ewing recalls his mother saying to him once. “I’m like,
yeah mom, that’s exactly what I do.” At first glance, yeah, Brian
Ewing does draw a lot of skulls and even a bloody eyeball now
and then. But anyone who has been exposed to his artwork, and
most of you probably have, knows that this is not exactly the case.
If it were, Brian might still be working at a Kinko’s somewhere
in Middle America. But instead, he just returned home to Los Angeles after a summer on the Warped Tour doing meet and greets
with bands and signing his artwork; artwork that has essentially
become the face of the Warped Tour brand name over the past
two years. His monumental yet humble success is an inspiration
to poster artists everywhere as well as to those who simply aspire
to break free from the nine-to-five world.
Brian, surprisingly, is somewhat diminutive in stature and
not at all like the brooding young superhero types he pens in his
posters. He may be shy and he may be, as he claims, “a social
retarded,” but he’s certainly not artistically challenged. Even
though he’s a two-time art school dropout and he’s never even
had a driver’s license, Brian Ewing is a modern day success story.
Raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he attended a Catholic grade
school where there were no art classes. His older sister went to
the local high school for the arts and would bring home her art
projects, which Brian would copy and trace to entertain himself.
He did the same with his brother’s comic books. This early experimentation with drawing sparked an interest in the young Brian
and prompted him to follow in his sister’s footsteps and enroll in
that same high school for the arts. But it turned out there was one
startling peculiarity about the school… “Oddly enough, Jeffrey
Dahmer ate two of my classmates,” Brian reveals. Apparently,
Dahmer lived only a couple blocks away from the high school and
lured in his victims at local gay bars. “It was really easy for kids
to get into gay clubs back then because it didn’t matter how old
you were, they would just let you in. So a lot of these kids would
just go to these things. That’s how they met him.” Brian seems
rather un-phased by it all, but it’s certainly a memorable page out
of his childhood and perhaps an unspoken influence for some of
his more bloody imagery?
Brian got his start doing poster art in the Milwaukee punk and
metal scenes. He had friends in bands and wanted to be a part of
it all but couldn’t play an instrument himself, which he blames
M U S I CM AT T E R S
25
culture
o
“...I didn’t feel like I was carrying a flag for the music scene, it was just
something I wanted to be a part of, and I wanted to do it on my own terms.”
partly on being left-handed, so he took an
alternative approach. “I didn’t understand
what a music scene was, I just really loved the
packaging and all the t-shirts. Growing up I
was listening to bad metal and bad punk… I
had friends who were in bands in Milwaukee,
and I would just do flyers for them. You know,
we’re underage and we go to these bars and
the owner’s like, ‘Hey, flyer guy, come on in,’
you know, he’s givin’ me beers and stuff like
that. So you’re just kind of like, ooh hey, this is
kind of cool, I can get free beers and I can get
into shows. I didn’t feel like I was carrying a
flag for the music scene, it was just something
I wanted to be a part of, and I wanted to do it
on my own terms.”
After high school Brian attended art school
in Chicago for about a year before dropping
out. “I got really stressed out because I thought
about how expensive it was. If you grow up in
Milwaukee it means you don’t have any money.
So I took out a lot of my own expenses. It was
sink or swim, and I didn’t wanna go back [to
Milwaukee] because I didn’t want to feel like
I failed.” So instead he moved to Minneapolis, took a job at the local Kinko’s, and tried
to make ends meet. He quickly got familiar
with the popular music venue in town, First
Avenue. “They used to just bring in all these
really crappy flyers, and one day I said, ‘Hey,
if you guys give me free tickets to shows I’ll
do flyers for you.’ That’s where it started getting kind of interesting. It was just really fun
to see someone take your artwork and plaster
it everywhere... and people started wanting to
buy the stuff… so I started producing limited
editions of the posters, and then bands started
contacting me.” After a serious girlfriend convinced him to move to Los Angeles, he decided
to give up having a day job altogether and get
more serious about art. He translated his
previous strategies from Minneapolis to L.A.
and started working with a couple of music
venues including the Troubadour. Pretty soon,
bands were recognizing his work and requesting his flyers when they would come through
town to play shows.
What is it about Brian’s art that makes it so
appealing? Maybe it’s the fact that many of
his characters seem to portray the music fans
they attempt to engage. They tend to be sort of
dark and brooding and somewhat mysterious.
26
M U S I C M AT T E R S
Some of the protagonists in his posters seem to
have jumped off the pages of the comic books
of his childhood, and his heavy usage of black
and red makes me wonder whether those old
metal t-shirts he used to wear didn’t rub off
on him. But he’s certainly not afraid of bright
colors either. He contrasts colors to manipulate the visual impact his artworks make on
their surroundings, using color schemes that
“pop.” He also employs the use of loaded imagery like skulls, angels, hearts, devils, roses,
and blood, as well as symbols of his pop culture
demographic. Where does this subversive imagery come from? “It’s something that always
entertained me, you know, like Nightmare Before Christmas, those things where it’s tongue
in cheek, it’s creepy, but it’s not brutal, it’s not
gory. I don’t really like gore at all, I like film noir
and stuff like that [where] it was always suggested but never shown. Like skulls nowadays,
it’s already an icon that’s out there, I’m just using that kind of imagery. I already know what it
means to people and I’m just putting my own
spin on it, but I’m not reinventing anything.”
Another conspicuous influence from Brian’s
younger years lies in the religious iconography he was exposed to from a young age. “We
had to go to church every day, I was an altar
boy, so you get bored and you start staring at
everything on the walls, and there’s a lot of religious art. So a lot of that’s been influencing
me now. It’s also a lot of the tattoo culture as
well; they use a lot of religious imagery.”
Appropriately, Brian is making his own
mark on that same tattoo culture. Fans of his
work have immortalized his images on their
bodies. “This piece [see page 24] so many
kids have tattooed on them. It’s really bizarre;
can you imagine someone taking some of
your writing and having a quote from that
tattooed on them?” Whoa Brian, you just
blew my mind. Brian himself has personalized one particular design that recurs in his
drawings. He shows me the work in progress
around his left wrist; stars fade into flames
as they creep up his forearm. It’s identical to
the ones that adorn the wrists of the masked
character on this year’s Warped Tour poster
[see opposite]. For Brian, wearing this highly
visible tattoo around his wrist is his way of
proclaiming that he’s never going back to a
nine-to-five job. “People get like safety tattoos
so they can cover them up. I kind of know what
I’m gonna be doing for a long time, so I’m done
with the office jobs.”
These days, Brian doesn’t send out portfolios,
he doesn’t advertise his work other than on his
own website… people simply come to him. Each
poster he completes is a calling card. “They’re
just big ass business cards. You make a couple
dollars selling ‘em, and the bands really appreciate it. A lot of bands are really just stoked that
someone took the effort and actually drew something for that event, specific to that event.” Bands
typically trust Brian to do his own art direction.
“The bands just say hey, spell our name right, get
the date right, and get it to us sometime.”
Rarely has Brian gotten a negative response
from a band regarding one of his designs, but it
does happen every now and then. “This, (Brian
points to the image of a dark, winged youth who
wears his bloody heart stitched on his suit jacket,
see page 24), was originally sketched for Taking
Back Sunday’s album cover, and we went back
and forth over it. They’re like, yeah, we don’t
know… I was like, you know guys, I’ve got this
Warped Tour thing coming up, so I gotta go. Everything was cool, and then they ended up getting signed on to Warped Tour. They’re like, oh
yeah, you have to do something for Taking Back
Sunday... Oddly enough, this thing has taken on
a life of its own. There are kids who dressed up
last year for Halloween as the thing, and, like I
said, kids were getting tattoos… it’s an iPod cover now.” It’s a good thing Taking Back Sunday
changed their tune, or they’d probably be eating
their words right about now.
In terms of his future, Brian sees no end to
the possibilties in sight. “I wanna explore what’s
available to me... a couple years ago I had no
clue. I didn’t think I could really go anywhere
with this stuff.” But Brian challenged himself
and found a way. He’s got some exciting projects
in the works including more iPod cover designs,
skate decks, a sponsorship by Atticus Clothing,
a possible clothing line, and an art book, which
he predicts won’t be out for at least five years, or
whenever he feels his artwork has “matured.”
As for Brian’s mom? “She didn’t really understand what I did until I took her to the Warped
Tour in Milwaukee and I walked her around and I
introduced her to bands… and I’m like, okay, look
around you. See what these kids are holding? I
designed that. She was just blown away.” o
M U S I CM AT T E R S
27
backstage
o
o
backstage
BANG SUGAR BANG
FULLY LOADED AND TOTALLY SWEET!
by Jeff Penalty
photo: John Gilhooley (www.johngilhooley.com)
Bang Sugar Bang’s Pawley Filth,
Cooper, and Matt Southwell.
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M U S I C M AT T E R S
WHEN I WAS FIRST EXPOSED TO BANG SUGAR
Bang a few years back, they sucked. Luckily, however, I was forced to attend a number of their shows
(since they kept playing shows with other bands I
liked), and over the course of a year I watched them
debut new material, grow into their stage personae,
and earn a supportive and devoted fanbase. And
now you can’t tear me away from one of their shows
because they’re FUCKING AWESOME.
Equally well-represented on record and onstage,
to hear Bang Sugar Bang is to love them. And
thankfully more people will be hearing and loving
them soon since they recently signed with S.O.S.
Records and will be hitting the road with the Adicts
in October. The punks will love the raw energy.
The mods will love the melodies. The popsters will
love the male/female vocal harmonies and catchy
hooks. The sarcastic fucks will love the lyrics. The
glam rockers will love bassist/vocalist Cooper’s
stage outfits. The fart-joke fans will love drummer
Pawley Filth. And the beer enthusiasts will most
definitely love guitarist/vocalist Matt Southwell.
If you’ve looked for local L.A. music beyond the
Sunset Strip in the past year, you’ve likely already
heard of Bang Sugar Bang, since they adhere to a
relentless gigging schedule and are also the driving
force behind “Kiss or Kill” night, a weekly showcase of local rock bands currently in residence at
The Echo on L.A.’s east side. Or you may have
caught them opening for Dead Kennedys, 45
Grave, Nina Hagen, The Dickies, The (International) Noise Conspiracy, or on one of their recent
coast-to-coast D.I.Y. tours.
Musically, their sleeve-worn influences include
X, The Jam, The Replacements, and Cheap Trick,
but if you listen closely you’ll also hear The Clash,
The Pixies, Blondie, and countless others. Any
good band should have a healthy range of classic and time-tested bands in their roster of influences, and this mix comes naturally to Bang Sugar
Bang. What separates good bands from great
ones, though, is the X-factor known as attitude,
and Bang Sugar Bang pours out attitude from industrial-sized bulk containers. They deliver their
songs like Nicholson delivering blows of an axe to
a bathroom door, while their onstage (not to mention offstage) banter is the rock ‘n’ roll equivalent
of an unscripted Three Stooges skit. Their mix of
fierce and farce translates into undeniable force.
S.O.S. Records’ first order of business is the
re-release of THWACK THWACK GO CRAZY!!,
Bang Sugar Bang’s sophomore LP. It’s anyone’s
guess as to which song will be pushed as a single,
since the album is comprised of wall-to-wall hits,
with a minimum of five close contenders. “The
Machine Gun Song” is one of the first possibilities
that jumps to mind, since it was the first song to
clue me in to the band’s potential way back when.
Right out of the gate the lyrics capture your heart,
presented delicately over an arpeggiated D chord:
“If I could be anything I’d be a machine gun/
‘Cause every time I see you I’m sorry I don’t own
one.” Delicious… Other standout tracks include
“Major Label Interest,” a laser-guided sniper shot
at the endless parade of self-important phonies
who populate the L.A. music scene, and “Kill the
Radio,” which is, quite simply, a pop masterpiece.
Stop making them work for your attention: believe
me, they deserve it. Check Bang Sugar Bang out on
Myspace or at www.bangsugarbang.com, and I’ll see
you onstage for their traditional end-of-set-audienceparticipation toast at their next performance! o
Bang Sugar Bang just wrapped up a fall tour in
support of punk legends the Adicts. Thwak Thwak Go
Crazy!! is scheduled for re-release on SOS Records
December 6, 2005. The band is currently recording
the followup to Thwak Thwak Go Crazy!! this winter
and they expect to release it in the fall of 2006.
M U S I CM AT T E R S
29
backstage
o
o
ANCHORMAN:
DAVE
GROHL
AS ARENA ROCK SAVIOR
Foo Fighters : Weezer
Cox Arena : September 27, 2005
by Will K. Shilling
photos: Kim Lostroscio
THERE’S AN OLD ADAGE IN BOOKING LIVE MUSIC SHOWS:
to increase the appeal, and therefore the “pull,” of an evening’s
audience total, do NOT book stylistically identical acts. Book acts that
are just divergent enough, both in fan base and sound, to draw the
most patrons from both sides of the fence. In investment banking it’s
called diversifying your portfolio. In rock it’s called just plain smart.
And fun, too. Especially if you can play matchmaker with the
right acts. The geniuses behind the Foo Fighters-Weezer marriage
- said to be the musicians themselves - couldn’t have demonstrated
this maxim better, albeit with a fair amount of good-natured irony,
wink-wink self-consciousness, and having-their-cake-and-eatingit-too self-satirization to boot.
But what’s to be expected of any bill that includes über-ironists
Weezer, they of the bespectacled King of the Dorks/ Harvard alum
frontman Rivers Cuomo? Entering the fairly fan-friendly (if any
arena rock show can be called that) and relatively acoustics-ample
Cox Arena to a near capacity crowd and the PA-pumped strains of
“When You Wish Upon A Star,” the “four and a half”-piece Weezer
(they had a guitar tech sit in on many of their tunes) launched into
“My Name is Jonas” with as much geeky gusto as any arena-rocking classic rock band might, much to the pogoing delight of their
equally energetic minions who peppered the basketball arenaturned-rock hall.
We all know it’s never hard to spot a True Weezer Fan: she/he’s the
one in the homemade t-shirt or “Sweater,” eyes closed, dyed hair
flopping, mouth screaming the lyrics to the hits and the cult hits
alike - as they did on this night with “My Name is Jonas,” “Say It
Ain’t So,” “The Sweater Song (Undone),” “In the Garage,” “Island
In the Sun” - even swooning to songs off the band’s latest release,
Make Believe, like the campy, emo-sleaze-pop chorus of “We Are
All On Drugs.” While the bulk of the crowd didn’t take to the latter
quite as prodigiously or enthusiastically as one might expect of such
a rawk-ready bunch (we were, after all, at perennial Playboy party
campus SDSU, c’mon), nor to the gracious inclusion of a Foo Fighters cover song (“Big Me”), the set’s beautifully stoned integrity was
restored with scorching closer “Hash Pipe.”
As expected by the “odd-couple” billing, post-rock’s yin to
Weezer’s yang was the working-class hard rawk of the headlining
Foo Fighters. As if a thematic rejoinder, Dave Grohl’s faux stoner
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backstage
rock god persona could hardly be contained by SDSU’s Cox Rox
Box. At earsplitting levels, the energy radiating from the Foo Fighters’ short but intense headlining set was at once a repudiation of
and a traditional commitment to the arena rock dinosaurisms of the
monsters of rock bowl-dom past. Obviously idealistically grounded
and loyal to the punk rock ethos, and yet shamelessly indulgent in
the long-loved clichés of cigarette-lit stadium ballads and embarrassingly bad crowd shout-alongs, the Foo Fighters live can both embrace
and explode one’s ideas and expectations of the A-list modern rock
show. Once the sole creative propriety of former Scream and Nirvana
drummer Grohl, the foursome, now rounded out by two practically
faceless guitar sidemen who frame formidable face / god-skins
maniac Taylor Hawkins, FF circa 2005 have amassed just the right
mix of thrashing metal, punk spunk, radio melody, and ambiguous
angst to satisfy just about any ticket holder between the head-banging ages of 12 and 42 (and the cell-camera-phone wielding masses
almost perfectly fit that formidable demographic).
Literally screaming (though always on pitch, no small feat)
through a set of their hits like “This is a Call,” “Breakout,” “My
Hero,” “Learn To Fly,” and the always engaging “Everlong,” Grohl
& Co. flourished even amidst stadium clichés like letting the frontman roam throughout the crowd during an otherwise drawn-out
“jam,” letting the drummer get some (Hawkins dedicated his frontman turn to a brother and sister who did their undergrad years at
SDSU), and the obligatory stage-rushing-diving fan - to which
Grohl dedicated his turn as the evening’s sudden standup comedian
savant, quoting the San Diego-set Will Farrell comedy Anchorman
(“As we all know, San Diego actually means ‘a whale’s vagina.’”)
and telling a balls-out story from San Diego Street Scene. You really
had to be there for that one, I guess. It was the closest to cock rock
anyone got that night, and that was a good thing. o
(above) Grohl entices the crowd.
Foo Fighters drummer Taylor
Hawkins.
OPPISITE (from top)
Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters
Rivers Cuomo of Weezer
Weezer guitarist Brian Bell.
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the goods
o
CBGB & OMFUG:
THIRTY YEARS FROM THE HOME OF UNDERGROUND ROCK
PRIOR TO PICKING UP THIS BOOK, I KNEW VERY LITTLE
about the legacy of NYC’s legendary music venue, CBGB. Not
only did I finally learn what CBGB and OMFUG stand for (Country, BlueGrass, Blues & Other Music for Uplifting Gormandizers),
but I caught a glimpse of an era that was just about as important to
music as 9/11 was to Bush’s presidency. Without the venue, the
creative pool of New York’s 1970’s underground bands may not
have been stirred to fruition.
The book contains about 80 pages of rare and candid photos taken
at the venue by various musicians, fans, and photographers between
1975 and 2003. It’s an intimate photo documentary with quotes
from some of the musicians and club regulars who regarded CBGB
fondly as defining an era. CBGB owner Hilly Krystal reminisces
about the beginnings of that era in his introduction to the book, and
Talking Heads guitarist David Byrne closes with a thoughtful afterword in which he sums up “The Creative Algorithm” of a successful music venue. With this book, as Tina Weymouth of the Talking
Heads remarks on its pages, “Here the artist’s camera has become
my only eye and the photograph a permanent memory of a moment
I have never seen before.” o MARY SMEDES PIKE
VIDEO iPOD
I ADMIT IT, SPINAL TAP ON YOUR IPOD SOUNDS A LITTLE CHEESY. With a pocket full
of skepticism I went to the Apple store and bought a video iPod for testing (I love my job). What I
found was a very cool device that plays music videos and, with a little effort, can play just about any
video I want. Using QuickTime Pro ($35) you can compress video specifically for the iPod. If copying
commercial DVD’s to your iPod seems like fair use, then a DVD ripper can export commercial DVD’s
to QuickTime Pro (Cinematize and MacTheRipper). So therefore, any commercial DVD can be played
on your video iPod. The screen is crisp and the video quality amazing. You can even buy an optional
cable to drive your TV. I now use the video iPod for presentations, passing the time on airplanes, and
yes, now you can even carry your porn flicks with you. o SAM PORES
SUICIDE GIRLS:
THE FIRST TOUR
ACCORDING TO SUICIDE GIRL TEGAN, “The whole world is about boobs.” So is
this DVD. Suicide Girls: The First Tour follows the sexy punk/goth/glam pinup girls
of suicidegirls.com as they tour the country to take their own brand of burlesque/striptease to the masses. Pretty much any hot-blooded male with a pulse will love this
DVD. And for everyone else there’s a cool Probot video included with the DVD too.
o JEN HILBERT
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the local pyle
o
Check out casbahmusic.com for The Local Pyle &
MusicMatters farewell show on 12/21 with Deadbolt, The
Creepy Creeps, Thee Corsairs & The Starlight Sirens...
Part of the Casbah’s “12 Days of Christmas”.
Expect a DVD from Rocket From The Crypt in 2006 with their
final show caught on tape for posterity. That and a Hot Snakes
DVD in the same year, wow! Check www.rftc.com or www.
swamirecords.com for the scoop...
Michael Tiernan of North County recently won an award at the
15th annual LA Music Awards for “AAA” Album of the Year for
Jumping In! Way to go! www.tiernantunes.com
The “12 Days of Christmas” returns to the Casbah starting on
December 18th with a John Waters Christmas Extravaganza (yes, John Waters, the director). It continues with great
shows from Gary Shuffler’s Birthday Circus (12/19), a MusicMatters show with Deadbolt, The Creepy Creeps, Thee
Corsairs, The Starlight Sirens, and Matthew Kerr in the
Atari Lounge (12/21), 91X Loudspeaker presents a Holiday
Blues Party with Lady Dottie & The Diamonds (12/22), and
the legendary “Exile On Kettner Boulevard” (12/24). Plenty
more, so go to www.casbahmusic.com
There are also some pretty big reunion shows of some of SD’s
finest bands at the Casbah! December 10th: Uncle Joe’s Big
Ol’ Driver, The Dragons, and fluf. On December 26th we have
the return of Carnivorous Lunar Activity or C.L.A. Long live
Steve Foth - we miss you buddy! Old guys can still rock!
Oh yeah, and by the way, just in case you didn’t know (shameless self-promotion coming up) - I am the new host of The Local 94/9, heard every Sunday night from 8-10pm on 94.9fm. I
support local music, do you? Tune in! www.fm949sd.com
WITH THE PROLIFERATION OF STARBUCKS DEEP-DEEP INTO our
communities, I think it’s going a bit too far. I prefer the independently owned
coffee house since the money stays in our community, but I admit even I occasionally go to the McDonald’s of coffee, the T Rex of coffee - Starbucks! Most
recently it has infiltrated some of our most artistic communities - Golden Hill
and North Park. This has made quite a few people pissed off, as you can see by
the graffiti and vandalism at the new stores. Don’t destroy - just boycott - support Claire De Lune, Krakatoa, or Chicano Perk. Support local music, local
art, local poets, local culture, and local businesses! Keep it local!
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I’m The Local Pyle and I’m out...
[email protected] o TIM PYLES
POSTER: KIM LOSTROSCIO
Speaking of coffee houses... Check out the aforementioned Chicano Perk
(129 25th Street) for coffee and cultural events. They host monthly music
and art events and are very close to Chicano Park. One ongoing event they
have: Open Mic @ Chicano Perk, Wednesdays 7pm-9pm. Hosted by Michel
Madrigal, “Open Mic” is a collection of spoken artwork through the genres of
song, storytelling, spoken word, poetry & monologues. This is the only truly
Spanglish open mic in San Diego: work is accepted in Spanish, English, and
everything in between. www.chicanoperk.com
Well, I guess this is goodbye. It’s been a blast, and I can’t thank
the staff of MusicMatters enough! Why do all the good things in
San Diego always come to an end? We surely miss Fahrenheit
Weekly (which created The Local Pyle), and now we have to say
goodbye to MusicMatters, sort of - you can still find it online
(www.musicmattermag.com). I know, I know, it just isn’t the
same. Well, next time do whatever you can to fight for something like this - we need it! I like magazines that say something,
not just one with glossy club pictures of a Southern California
I personally don’t feel a part of! Fight for your right to have
something that relates to you! Local bands will surely miss this
great magazine, soon to be just a memory of a happier time!
Support local stuff!
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