Saturday, February 29, 2020

Church of Misery, Doug and the Slugs, and TSOL: whatta weekend

Like, basically all three major food groups in my musical diet are represented by shows this weekend. Metal was yesterday, pop is today, punk is tomorrow. Hasn't been this much music in a single weekend of my life in... weeks!

The major one is tonight: Doug and the Slugs. I have tried to do justice to their story in a current Straight article, interviewing Simon Kendall, but I didn't even begin to get into how brilliant Doug Bennett's early lyrics are, since it seemed Kendall is as confused by some of them as I am! (There were a couple of "what does this mean" moments in the conversation where the answer was, "I have no idea"). People reading the Kendall piece should also check out my obit about Doug Bennett, written very early on in the history of this blog. I think you literally have to be about my age to really understand the whole Doug Bennett thing - it was really there in spades on the first two albums, but the band was already opting for something simpler and more radio-friendly by Music for the Hard of Thinking. I like some of that, still - and Kendall stuck up for Popaganda, too, which I've bought for the first time as a result. It was interesting to learn that Doug wrote "Day by Day," a song far too radio-friendly for me, about the death of his father, and that people still tell Kendall that the song helped them through rough times, but it's really all about the first two albums for me. I mean, if you don't like "Not On the Corner," if you can't appreciate the wit and style and potency of that song... I prolly can't help you. And a line like "it doesn't matter who's got the light/ when you're not on the corner..." It's like Dashiell Hammett writing doo wop, or a Zen Koan as translated by Raymond Chandler. I have no idea what it means, but it has resonated in my psyche for forty years. I'm sorry as heck Doug isn't here to be singing it, but I am very keen to see what the band does tonight.

And I really want a t-shirt of that slug on a motorcycle.

Enthusiasts for local music planning on going to a show should also note: Mecca Normal has an early concert at Moberly Park this afternoon. You could do Mecca Normal for an appetizer and then head to the Commodore for the Slugs. See my Jean Smith post a few posts down. The show is FREE and you can buy some of Jean's paintings there (tho' the best ones seem to sell in five minutes on Facebook these days!).

On a radically different note, Church of Misery was great yesterday (is anyone in Seattle reading this? They play there tonight!). I don't really know them well - only found out about them a few days ago, but it took about two minutes of the "Brother Bishop" video on Youtube to convince me I needed to see them, since I'm partial to stoner doom, haven't heard any current Japanese examples of that, and they immediately put me in mind of Electric Wizard (though Church of Misery is more into murder and serial killing than occultism as a topic). (Incidentally, if you're reading this you might also enjoy my Electric Wizard review from a few years ago at the Rickshaw; it's one of my favourite recent articles). I hope I can interview these guys at some point. I have always wondered how Japanese audiences reacted to the Blue Oyster Cult's "Cities on Flame with Rock'n'Roll," which seems to have a bit of a Hiroshima/ Nagasaki vibe to its lyrics, so it's pretty interesting that they cover it. And I want to find out if they've written a song about Robert Pickton (or if they're aware of him). I got some great pics, and shot one video yesterday. Very cool band - "sugoi omoi," as I said to them at the merch table, to their delight...

Note: these are NOT the best of the pics, but they're fun.

Finally, there's TSOL, tomorrow at the Astoria, with Dead Cells and Bootlicker and storc, all of whom I am excited to see. In truth, TSOL were one of those bands I didn't ever explore that deeply. I think I first saw them in Penelope Spheeris' Suburbia, which I love (read my interview with Spheeris here), but I never had their first EP, which you just couldn't find, so songs like "Property is Theft" were simply not on my radar. Back as a suburban teenaged punk in the 1980's, I owned and loved Dance with Me, and one of their non-Grisham albums, Change Today? But the album that came between those two, Beneath the Shadows, just confused me at the time,with its artful Gothiness; I gather it is being claimed as a classic today, but I never really dug it at the time. Then AFTER Change Today?, they started to move in what seemed a more radio-friendly direction. I bought their next album, 1986's Revenge, and while I like some songs off it (like "Nothin' for You") I wasn't entirely comfortable about punk's movement towards the mainstream and just didn't dig the overall sound. Their next album apparently took them even more towards hair metal - I mean, look at the fucking album cover art, they look like Motley Crue wannabes or something. It might be good, I dunno - never heard it! - but I did NOT care at the time, and tuned the band out. By the time the band (apparently) returned to punk (and brought Jack Grisham back), with 1991's disappear, I was onto other things, like, say, TAD; then I'd go into a noise rock/ free jazz tailspin for much of the 1990's. I gather some songs off that still pop up in their setlists, but I do not know it well at all.

But you know what, they'll be playing "Sounds of Laughter," and maybe they'll do "Funeral March," and I want to see the opening acts, so whatever! I am there.

Oh, hey, Church of Misery fans in Seattle: if any of you read this, you should know that Calgary basically cleaned up all the cool merch, and all they had in Vancouver was small t-shirts (no CDs, no LPs, just small t-shirts). I dunno if they plan to re-supply, but just a word to the wise, if you want to get them to sign a record or something, you probably should buy one at a store and bring it to the gig!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Clash soccer game in 1979: outtakes from the Montecristo story

Gerry Hannah was the one who told me about the Clash soccer game that took place in Kits back in 1979 (which he played in). I honestly forgot why I wasn't recording the conversation at the time; Gerry and I did talk occasionally on the phone, back when the Subhumans were playing, without it being for an interview per se, but for some reason, that day, my recorder was off.

Gerry wasn't among the people I spoke to last month for an article I did for Montecristo magazine, but Nick Jones, John Auber Armstrong, and Phil Smith were. There was actually a fair bit of stuff all three men told me for the article that I didn't end up using - of necessity, since I interviewed about eight people.  

Pointed Sticks at Richards on Richards, 2017, photo by Cindy LeGrier

Nick Jones had some great stories - but I mostly only used the ones directly related to the game. Like Nick, who said at one point that "for me, the Clash was Joe Strummer, plain and simple," I've always been mostly a Joe Strummer fan, so it was interesting to hear his tales of other interactions with Joe, for example when they played the Combat Rock tour  at Kerrisdale Arena, which he told me, "was the best Clash show I ever saw, by the way. Which most people would disagree with, but for me, that was them at their absolute peak, they were just majestic that night, riveting. And there was a party at one of my old girlfriend’s house’s, on East 12th in Vancouver, and I don’t think Topper came, but Joe and Mick and Paul came, and Joe actually tried to steal my jean jacket that night."

Sometimes you leave things out of a story because they just would prove disruptive to where the story is going, make it impossible to do justice to the other stories. This is one of those times, since Nick went on to speculate that "that was Joe possibly in the throes of heroin addiction – he was doing a bit of nodding." (Hadn't ever heard of Strummer using heroin before, but I haven't read and don't have any of the bios written of him; his ever having been an addict would put his later firing of Topper Headon for heroin use into a somewhat unflattering light. And then there's the attempted theft itself: "he saw my jean jacket; it was a Lee Stormrider, he commented on it, and the first time I put it down, and the next thing I knew, he was wearing it. He was nice enough to give it back to me, when I pointed out that it wasn’t actually his, so – I don’t know what he was thinking of the time, he was pretty out of it. But that show was phenomenal. And I think most people who was the Clash the four times they played in Vancouver would agree that that was probably the best show they did here.”

Later, as a merchandiser, Nick told me, "I did see him at a Rolling Stones show once, when I was working for the Stones, Joe came to a show in Paris, and we actually talked about how, at that point, Michael Cole had offered them a million dollars each for ten shows in the United States. This was in 1995 – probably the Voodoo Lounge tour? I don’t even know if this ever became public, but Joe told me that Cole had offered them ten million dollars to do ten shows in America, which seems a ridiculous amount of money at the time. I don’t know how he would have gotten that money back. But I may have the story wrong – maybe it was ten million for twenty shows? But Joe was not interested in re-forming the Clash at that point. I think that was probably the peak of the personality differences between Joe and Mick and Paul."

It's "probably just as well that it never happened," Nick continued. “It might actually be better that there never was. If you had to go see a Nirvana reunion now, would it be any good? Probably not. If you had to see the Doors play at age 70, would that be any good? Probably not. Sometimes these things are just better left sort of preserved in amber for everybody to look on. Would you want to see a 70 year old Jimi Hendrix, at this point? I don’t think so. But what you really want to see is a 62 year old Pointed Stick playing. That’s different!”

John Armstrong with the New Modernettes, at the Rickshaw, Dec 7, 2019, by Allan MacInnis

I also left out quite a bit of a conversation with John Armstrong, some of it because it duplicated stories John had already told in Guilty of Everything. (I mean, Nick, John, I'm sorry, but the article I submitted was over twice my actual wordcount, and, like, I hadda get Jon and Phil and so forth in, too!). 

Armstrong is among those - as, I think, was Tom Harrison, who I also spoke to at much more length than appears in the interview - who agrees that American producer Sandy Pearlman vastly improved matters for Give’Em Enough Rope, the album the band was then touring. “It was kind of a surprise at first, but I thought it sounded a lot better than the first record. I still don’t think the first record sounds any good; it succeeds just through its sheer balls – the intensity and enthusiasm of it win you over, but it really sounds awful. But Pearlman’s production – it’s a little kinda ‘American FM radio,’ but it’s the same as Jimmy Iovine doing Patti Smith, right? He turned the Patti Smith Group into a rock band, and Pearlman turned the Clash into a rock band. But it’s nice to hear Topper’s drums sound that good. I think possibly too there was a lack of material – y’know, second album syndrome: you’ve got your whole life to write your first album and six months to write the second. The best songs on there that are just fucking stellar. There’s a few that I don’t think would have made the cut if they’d had more than six months. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s just not them at their best. But no, I never hated it the way some people did. I just kinda thought, ‘Well, what do you expect? Have you ever heard Blue Oyster Cult? Why are you surprised?”

I actually agree that Pearlman did big favours for the Clash, though if I recall correctly, so did everyone else with whom the topic came up. It's one of those opinions, not widely held at the time, that is pretty commonplace now. (For the record, at least one other person - Tom Harrison, I believe - agreed that that album runs out of material at some point. The first side, up to and including "Julie's in the Drug Squad," is momentous, but there's not much memorable about side two of Give'Em Enough Rope. "Stay Free," I guess - one of Mick Jones' best songs. But the rest is all stuff I can take-or-leave. Second album syndrome? You bet).

Mostly the conversation with John focused on Mick Jones. John remembers, for example, that at the Clash concert, "Mick came out, stepped on his phase shifter, and left the fucking thing on for the rest of the show! Which was a particularly early-to-mid-70’s thing to do."

For those who don't know phase shifters, "It’s a guitar pedal, and it makes the sound go like this" (John went "woosh, woosh" And it cycles at whatever frequency you’ve got it set at. Keith Richards fell in love with it, he used it for a long time on everything because it fills up the sound, it makes your guitar sound like its covering more of the spectrum than if you’re just playing without one. It does have that weird (woosh) thing to it. I think that he found, playing live, he needed to fill up more sound because, I mean, Joe’s guitar playing was pretty rudimentary at best. And I don’t know how much he was actually coming through the mains. Like, I don’t think he was a particularly good guitar player, at least not as the rhythm guitar player for the Clash. I think Mick felt like he was the guitar player, so he had to get a bigger sound, not necessarily something louder or dirtier but something that filled up more space. I couldn’t believe that he came out and clicked the thing on and just left it on for the whole show. That was all I could hear was this fuckin’ phase shifter – but British guys seemed to all love that.”

Armstrong, of course (for those who have read his memoir) got his welfare card signed by the Clash, which we tried, to no avail, to include an image of in the story. “I know I’ve got it, it’s either glued and taped into a book I’ve got. I wanted to get an autograph – obviously we thought of them as being stars; I never wanted anybody’s autograph, but I didn’t have anything on me. And the only thing I could think of was, ‘fuck, my welfare card, here!’ It’s also my sense of humour.”

How did that come about? 

“We invited Joe for a beer across the street from the Windmill at the Nelson Place Hotel, and I think the pub was called the Captain’s Quarterdeck or something like that. A nautical motif. So we went over there and bought some beer and he just emptied his pockets out and said, ‘I don’t know how much this is, just buy whatever it buys.’ So we ended up with a tableful of draft. And I think he took one sip – do you remember, back in those days, the little hourglass shaped glasses with the white fill line around the top? He picked up one of those and took a slug and looked at it: ‘What is this shit?’ I don’t think he was impressed with Canadian draft beer. I know I wasn’t!”

But most of his stories were about hanging out with Mick Jones. (If you haven't read Guilty of Everything, you really need to). “We talked about Johnny Thunders Les Paul Special that he has on the back of the second Dolls album, then we talked about the Les Paul Junior that he had in the Heartbreakers, and solo… We bonded over that – over guitars and amps, Mott the Hoople, and Keith and Johnny. You know, you meet someone, and they’re from a different place, and there’s stuff that you and he are both crazy for, and it’s like – ‘brother! Kinsman!’ Well-met!’ It was like that." 

And Jones and Armstrong "really bonded over Mott the Hoople," a band also mentioned as coming up in conversations both Phil Smith and Tom Harrison had with Jones, who, according to Armstrong, "had been one of the guys that followed Mott around and slept on the floor in their hotel rooms, and then – it’s funny, because Mott the Hoople was famous for opening up doors and letting in kids who didn’t have money for tickets, and after the show they’d go and talk to the fans, and if somebody had travelled to see them, they didn’t have a place to stay, the band would let them sleep on the floor in their hotel room, and years later, the Clash did the same thing. I gotta think that’s where it came from.”

The most entertaining story, which John also tells in the book, is that "Me and Mick Jones and someone else were sitting in someone’s car that was parked outside, and the first thing was, we could not believe the amount of dope these guys smoked. They could smoke so much ganja, and it was business as usual. It was just a way of life. So everybody is really seriously stoned, and we’re sitting in this car, and Mick is turning the wheel and pretending to shift gears and going ‘vroom, vroom,’ making squealing-around-the-corner-on-two-wheels noises. And either he told me or I’d just figured it out, but he’d never driven a car in his life. He’s from London – it’s like Manhattan: who owns a car? It would cost more than the car was worth just to park it for a month, so for him, sitting in a car playing at driving was huge fun.”

Phil Smith also ended up talking with Mick Jones at a pub during that stay in Vancouver. It was at the suggestion of the band, as Smith recalls it, that, “interviews take place in a pub, being British and all. As you might remember, you could count the non hotel-beer-parlour pubs back then on one hand. So I guess Bimini’s came up, and it was kind of a somewhat discordant setting, of a pre-Yuppie Kitsilano pub, before the word Yuppie even existed, and the Clash, but, you know, it was a pub, and there was beer, so it was all good.”

If I've got it right, that conversation was with Mick Jones (and perhaps Topper Headon). Smith definitely remembers talking with Jones, and recalled him being sharp, “in both quickness and style of wit. I definitely remember that he gave some very good, pointed answers to questions. He was very personable and very responsive.” 

Compared to that conversation, he doesn’t remember “any musical conversation” while the game was on. “I think one reason musicians love to play sports is so they don’t talk about music, so I don’t remember any musical conversation. It was more game talk, weather talk, Vancouver talk.”

I actually used most of my conversation with Phil - though I didn't transcribe part of it, about the Clash concert that *I saw Phil open for the Clash at* back in 1984. I remember Corsage getting booed by the audience - this being back in the days when audiences were often very intolerant of opening acts they didn't know, something I'm glad to see is not so common these days. I had thought it pretty unfair, and totally enjoyed Corsage's performance - most of which I now forget, but I wondered why people were being so mean (an impression Jade Blade had backed up in a Dishrags feature I did a few years ago for Big Takeover). 

Smith's own memories, understandably, were sharper than mine, but he recalled being warned by Payola's drummer Chris Taylor, that for stadium shows, you had to play only your very best material, not try anything new or less known, in order to keep the audience with you. They did okay, Smith recalled, as long as they followed Taylor's advice!
I will save Phil Smith's other stories about that night in case I ever have cause to write about that specific Coliseum show again (the only time I saw the Clash, if you call that Clash the Clash; some people seem not to). Some of my favourite things to come out of the process of writing this story actually ended up being about that concert, which took place May 31st, 1984. I hadn't recalled, for instance, that the Clash at that point had not released Cut the Crap. I share people's disdain for that album, which has some bizarre, even horrifying, missteps on it, and which smeared some of its detritus on my memories of that concert (which I had totally enjoyed!). 

But as a result of thinking about that album again, I had the following pleasant discoveries:

a) Thanks, I think, to Erik Iversen (and maybe Doug Smith?) I learned that in fact, the wreckage of that album had little to do with Joe Strummer, who eventually walked away from the project; a lot of responsibility for everything that's bad and wrong with the album can be laid at the feet of Bernie Rhodes. The Wikipedia page about the recording of it is actually pretty interesting. I had always felt like there were some potentially excellent ideas on the album, songs I wanted to like, even one or two that almost survived the terrible presentation, like "This is England." Check out this Youtube clip where someone has adjusted the pitch on Joe's voice... At the time, my other favourite song was called "Are You Red...y?" which turns out to be a mangled form for "Are You Ready for War." 

b) I discovered there's a bunch of fan-traded bootlegs out there of shows from that tour, one of which, on Rhode Island if I recall, has pretty good audio (find it!). There are also demos that give you a glimpse of what the album was going to be before it was, uh, Rhodes'd.

c) And finally, I had my once-a-decade-or-so relisten to to Cut the Crap, to see if it's gotten better with time or distance. It hasn't, but I discovered a song that I had forgotten about, "Three Card Trick," actually is kind of fantastic, flashing forward to the kind of music Joe would be making on Earthquake Weather or with the Mescaleros. 

There is some possibility I will write about the 1979 Clash soccer game again, depending on who else's stories (or photographs) surface. Nick Jones had said, “I seem to remember that we took team pictures. Like, there was a picture of them, and a picture of us, and then there’s a picture of all of us together." He described the pics as "absolute gold," but didn't know who had them, and it proved beyond my reach to track them down. I did talk to a few people about whether they took pics - Bev, Lynn, and Don didn't, and other leads proved fruitless. Eric von Schlippen - I dunno if he wanted his real name in print, so there's his nom de plume again - said he had photos, but we didn't actually connect (maybe he's got his own plans for said pics; I hope so). I ran out of time, and had to focus on the writing (plus Heather Ewasew's photos are pretty fantastic), but if other people know where those photos are, they should dig them up. 

Anyhow, the real article, over at Montecristo, is a pretty fun read - check it out. Thanks to Nick Jones, John Armstrong, Phil Smith, Jon Williams, Susan McGillivray, Jade Blade, Tom Harrison, Grant McDonagh, Heather Ewasew, bev davies, Gerry Hannah, and everyone else who provided background and helped stoke my enthusiasm for the piece! 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Eugene Chadbourne this weekend!

Eugene Chadbourne with Shockabilly in Vancouver, Oct. 1, 1983. Photo by bev davies, not to be reused without permission

“I think somebody should make a movie about Eugene, if they haven’t already. I think he’s an absolute American treasure. He’s an American original and has his own kind of iconoclasm, that’s not everybody’s most digestible kind of iconoclasm. I just find him completely delightful and remarkable.” – Nels Cline, 2006

Legalization has been very good for my appreciation of the music of Eugene Chadbourne. The ease of access to music-enhancing compounds has meant a few pleasantly baked excursions into some of my favourite Eugene Chadbourne homemades, like The Intellectual and Emotional World of the Cockroach or ChadKlappMuntz or New Directions in Appalachian Music or Don't Burn the Flag, Let's Burn the Bush or the amazing Pachuco Cadaver, a collaboration with Jimmy Carl Black consisting entirely of Captain Beefheart covers. It's been some time since I've seen him, at the Kozmic Zoo back in 2011. Life got serious for awhile, with my father's death, my mother's death, my cancer surgery, various employment issues, and (thank God for) my marriage, so the vast perceptual freedoms and somewhat unhinged pleasures of Doc Chad weren't a good fit for me for awhile there. Looks like I'm just in time to revisit his music, though, since he plays Pat's Pub this Saturday (alongside Ford Pier and Stephen Hamm Theremin Man).  

My first interview with Doc Chad appeared - shortly before I first saw him live - in a 2006 issue of the Nerve Magazine. There, we talked about how his covers of country and western songs have a particularly special place in my heart. At that point, I wasn't a big fan of Merle Haggard or Willie Nelson or Johnny Paycheck or Roger Miller, and to the extent that I knew their songs, it was because Eugene Chadbourne had covered them, alongside the deranged acid-freakouts of Shockabilly or his more avant-garde/ improvised moments. I had his album There'll Be No Tears Tonight, which is a great place to start with his music, if you don't know it (and features an all star band, including John Zorn, Tom Cora, and Shockabilly's David Licht) and it's still the only way I know some of the songs on it (I don't think I've ever tracked down the original of "The Last Word in Lonesome is Me," in fact; I'd probably prefer Eugene's reading of it, anyhow. What about Eugene's treatment of these songs makes them so accessible to non-country fans like me, though? 

I put the question to Doc Chad. “I don't know the answers to any of this for sure,” he wrote, “but I do hear a lot of it. In the '80s, I would hear that albums such as There'll be No Tears Tonight and Country Protest ‘turned on’ punkers to country music. I just assumed they hadn't heard anything they liked yet in the genre and I just happened to be that.” 

Quoting my Nerve feature: 
A propensity for covering songs that may not be warmly received by certain contingents of his audience is something Chadbourne has in common with a musician whom he describes as a “huge inspiration,” Phil Ochs. “I saw him several times when I was a teenager,” Chadbourne says. “I always had to go alone because all my friends hated his voice.” The idealistic folksinger, who was initially the equal of Bob Dylan, but whose career ended in the early 1970s in a shambles of mental illness, alcoholism, and, finally, suicide, had, at one point, taken to coming onstage in a gold lame suit and interspersing his anti-war songs with surprisingly respectful renditions of “Okie from Muskogee” and medleys of Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley tunes. The one recorded document of this stage of Ochs’ career – often regarded as a sign of his decline – shows an audience that is definitely not receptive to his song choices.  “I thought it was weird when that Gunfight in Carnegie Hall disc came out with the audience getting upset,” Chad says. “I thought New Yorkers must be really uptight. In Boulder, Colorado, he did his rock and roll shtick and nobody objected at all.” The tragedy of Ochs’ death is only augmented, Chadbourne feels, by the “several stupid biographies that came out after he killed himself.”
It’s tempting to call Chadbourne a postmodernist, given the diversity of his musical influences, but I somehow doubt he would take to the label. “I like that comment of Captain Beefheart's, ‘my bottle doesn't have a label on it;’" he tells me. “I prefer the kind of labels that relate to buildings: garage rock, chamber music, loft jazz, bedroom tapers...” I asked him about his rather unique fusion of high and low culture, and he responded that he knows the separation “is there in the minds of some people but that is not where I live,” adding that the “worst aspect” of both the highbrow and lowbrow worlds “is the distaste they might have for each other... I am proud to say I relish both.”
I have a current interview with Eugene Chadbourne online on the Straight website, but I have various outtakes - stuff I just couldn't easily jam in to the article without making it overbearingly huge. For instance, I asked if Doc Chad preferred spaces like the Western Front - which boasts a bit of an artier, more sophisticated, but maybe less expressive crowd - or if he'd rather play bars (where things are a bit more raucous, but not always in good ways). "I am afraid my answer about venues might not be that interesting," he replied. "All I care about is that there is a music stand there or they can get one and there is enough light in the facility to see what I am doing, i.e. it is not lit like a bordello. As stumbling around in the near dark is apparently a cool life style for many, I am not sure I will ever solve this problem..."

Having chatted with Noelle at the Black Lab about what to me seems like the weird underground resurgence of cassettes - and knowing that for years, Doc Chad distributed his home-recorded albums in that format - I asked if he ever got requests for cassettes, these days. The answer is yes. "One thing that is amusing is collectors are looking for actual copies printed in the 80s, which quite often won't even play anymore. They are disappointed, some of them, that I make new copies, often with added material and each completely unique."

Eugene does have a few of his old cassettes, including some that he gave people years ago, which find their way home again. "Some people that bought lots of them years ago show up and just give me a box when they are cleaning up their place." But Doc Chad, who labours hard to make unique and intriguing covers for his CDr releases, doesn't really feel any nostalgia for the technology.

So what about recent vinyl releases? There have been some, it turns out, but he doesn't always list them on the House of Chadula website, "because I don't have endless supplies...Feeding Tube has done a series of solo material spanning the late 70s to early 90s, none of which was released before other than on my House of Chadula series. Amish records released the two record set 3 Characters with me and the Sunwatchers several years ago." (This is the album of Minutemen covers I mention in the Straight piece). There's also "Pleasures of the Horror, a collection of songs about and from horror movies, was released I think three years ago by the French Bisou label."

That's all I have for outtakes, but here's something from an interview I did with the Skinny, where we talked about Chadbourne and Jimmy Carl Black's “Jack and Jim” tour of Japan in the summer of 2008. 
Only available through Eugene, this disc includes some Captain Beefheart tunes, a cover of “Smoke On The Water” (“done for the Zappa night in Tokyo, because I was looking for songs that mentioned Frank,” Chad explains on his site) and the original, “I Got More Pussy Than Zappa,” about Jimmy Carl’s success with the ladies. Contrary to rumours that FZ had a ridiculous number of notches on his bedpost, Chad tells me that he thinks “just about everyone got more pussy than Zappa, from the sound of it, but Jimmy for sure.” I asked Dr. Chad if he had any stories about Jimmy Carl.  “I do not really know of one story,” he responded. “It’s the man's whole life that’s so fascinating. He’s the only friend I have had that was not only a drummer but ran a donut shop, painted houses, was in the Air Force, rode in a rodeo... and back to pussy, lost his virginity in Juarez at the age of 12 in a place called Paris de Noche to a woman named Big Bertha.” 
Jimmy Carl Black is no longer with us, sadly - nor are Frank Zappa nor Captain Beefheart - but Vancouver audiences have a very valuable opportunity this weekend, to see music from an iconoclastic, singular genius, and they shouldn't waste it. Eugene doesn't tour up here as often these days, and - I mean, with Ford Pier and Stephen Hamm on the bill, how could this be anything short of an amazing night of music?

Apologies to Rich Hope and the Vicious Cycles, playing down the street at the Rickshaw, but I'll be at Pat's Pub Saturday for sure. 

Visit Eugene Chadbourne's website here; Facebook event page here

Friday, February 14, 2020

Welcome back to Vancouver, Bobcat Goldthwait!

I am not paying much attention to the JFL Festival otherwise, but I am DELIGHTED to have two opportunities to see Bobcat Goldthwait tomorrow (in conversation at the Vancity Theatre and doing a rare standup thing, I guess, at the Rio). Here we are when Willow Creek, his bigfoot film, played at the VIFF a few years ago (photos by Erika Lax). Welcome back to Vancouver, Bobcat!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Jean Smith and Mecca Normal: shows coming!

Headphones #22, by Jean Smith (sold)

Haven't seen Mecca Normal in ages, though I follow Jean and David on Facebook, occasionally consider buying one of her paintingshave interviewed Jean a little about the most recent Mecca Normal studio album, and interviewed David about one of his previous graphic novels. Excited that they have upcoming shows with Bikini Kill (but not here!); Mecca Normal's tours down south were a big inspiration on the riot grrrl movement, so they're a very fitting opening act. They have a new album - a vintage Brave New Waves recording, out on vinyl; an upcoming gallery show in Portland; David has a new graphic novel, offering a history of the Winnipeg General Strike; and there's a new interview out there with Jean about her paintings and the proposed Free Artist Residency for Progressive Social Change. There will also apparently be a Vancouver show on February 29th, as a sort of warm up for the bigger shows supporting Bikini Kill. If you don't know Jean Smith (or David Lester, or Mecca  Normal) and you plan to catch one of the Bikini Kill shows, here's a chance to play catchup. This is still my favourite Mecca Normal song, informed by Jean's past experiences of dating... vive le cheap tea!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Wet'suwet'en support from my comfy desk

I am not on any blockades. The last few days, I've been going to work as usual. I have had opportunities to join in protests, to block access to ports or city hall or so forth. I applaud the gesture, but I need my job, and I'm pretty sure there's nothing in my collective agreement that allows me to just stop working so I can protest (maybe I should read it more carefully?).

The barricades are a great idea, though. I suspect the people manning them will be proven to be on the right side of history. Both Premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Trudeau are not on the right side of history, whatever they might say: by the nature of their actions, they're already on an old side of history - the side where the Canadian government says one thing and does another, when it comes to First Nations.

Take John Horgan's recent statement about reconciliation. This is the same Premier who, when he was in the area last month, would not meet with hereditary chiefs to discuss the ongoing standoff. When he writes that his government is focused on First Nations "rights, title, self-government and self-determination," recent actions at Unist'ot'en add an asterisk to his statement: "*just don't get in our way." When Premier Horgan writes, "No single one of us decides what reconciliation can or should look like," similarly, it brings other images to mind. I agree that no single one of can decide what reconciliation should look like, but a) this is not about any single one person, and b) pretty much EVERYONE knows that RECONCILIATION SHOULD NOT LOOK LIKE THIS:

The situation has degenerated to to the extent that the United Nation has felt compelled to weigh in. From that article:

...the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has issued a triple-barrelled decision calling on Canada to immediately suspend work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline, the Trans Mountain pipeline and the Site C dam until “free, prior and informed consent” is obtained from Indigenous peoples.

The committee urged Canada to immediately cease the forced eviction of Wet’suwet’en peoples who oppose the Coastal GasLink pipeline and Secwepemc peoples opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline, to prohibit the use of lethal weapons — notably by the RCMP — against Indigenous peoples and to guarantee no force will be used against them. It also urged the federal government to withdraw the RCMP, along with associated security and policing services, from traditional lands.

In a two-page decision statement, the committee said it is alarmed by the escalating threat of violence against Indigenous peoples in B.C. and disturbed by the “forced removal, disproportionate use of force, harassment and intimidation by law enforcement officials against Indigenous peoples who peacefully oppose large-scale development projects” on their traditional territories.

I have nothing much to add to this (though it is an interesting side note to learn that the Tsilh'qotin' nation has just opened a sizeable sustainable energy project, a solar farm, which I stumbled across when looking to see if they'd made any headway in the Taseko Mines case, another project on unceded land that has had a complex history). I applaud anyone who is out there showing solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en, anyone out there risking arrest to send the message that RCMP forcibly removing First Nations from their lands on the behalf of ANY oil, LNG, mining or logging interest,  is shocking, embarrassing, horrifying, and wrong, and something that Canadian history books need no further examples of.   

Saturday, February 08, 2020

The Black Halos: Rock and Fucking Roll

Black Halos by Allan MacInnis

Sometimes I feel embarrassed of past interviews I've done. They don't go away, either: when I fuck up, when I phrase something in a way it turns out my interview subject doesn't like (and, it's like, on the Straight site, so I can't tinker with it), write something of deeper-than-average stupidity, or when I ask a question that ultimately is revealing of an incorrect attitude towards my subject, or my ignorance, or so forth (but don't realize I'm doing this until after the piece is out there)... my embarrassment lives on in my writing. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's out there for all to see.

I don't know if it made it into either interview I did with Billy Hopeless, but I kinda feel embarrassed about the attitude I had about Billy before last night. It's not altogether unlike my attitude towards Nardwuar before I got to see him at work up-close: I thought of Billy as a colourful local character, of some talent, but, like, when he invited me to shoot pinball with him for our first interview (or suggested we go for German sausage at our third), I wasn't really thinking I was in the presence of someone quite as fucking AMAZING as he was last night, you know? I mean, he probably preferred it that way, like Lemmy, I think, prolly preferred hanging out with people who were just people with him, which was definitely the vibe I got off him backstage at the Vogue. I tried to stay normal, on the outside, but I was nonetheless going I AM IN A ROOM WITH LEMMY! the whole fucking time, inwardly, probably with a slightly elevated heart rate, in much the way, say, that the guys who were shooting pool with Flipper at the Astoria last year were going, I'M SHOOTING POOL WITH DAVID YOW!!! inside them, even while trying to be all casual about it.

I confess, I stand embarrassed to admit: I was not going I'M PLAYING PINBALL WITH BILLY HOPELESS, you know? (I mean, I even beat him one game, and wasn't that impressed with myself). Or, say, BILLY HOPELESS IS EATING SAUSAGE WITH STINKY CHEESE ACROSS FROM ME! ...I was more like: gotta hand it to the guy, he has cool ideas for an interview setup. Most people I interview in person just suggest a coffee shop somewhere. I was positive, respectful, etc., but still, you know? I dunno if it came through in the article, I don't think it did, but there MIGHT have been at least a smidgen of condescension in my attitude.

So I guess I need to adjust my attitude, here. The Black Halos (it turns out) are a phenomenal fuckin' rock band, best experienced live. Last night at the Rickshaw was great. And much as I enjoyed hearing Rich Jones play - I actually bought the new Michael Monroe Band album; it's kinda great, tho' at the moment a pricy special order - it was ALL about Billy last night. That is one charismatic and compelling frontman, WAYYYYY more compelling and memorable than he was the few times I saw him with the Bonitos, where he seemed a bit, I dunno, full-of-himself and debauched...?

I mean, he still seemed kinda debauched last night, but his charisma was fucking turned ON. It wasn't the same experience at all. He seemed stronger, healthier, way fucking more convincing, even a bit terrifying, you know? Holy shit, Billy, I hardly knew ye.  

Anyhow, I don't feel embarrassed so much of the written artefacts now - I can live with them, I think! - as I do about not realizing just how stunning a bandleader Billy is when I was doing them. Never saw him quite like I did last night, probably because I'd never seen the Black Halos before. If it is in any way unclear: they were fucking amazing! I was unsure about the wisdom of having two Black Halos shows back to back, and, before last night, not certain I was gonna go to the second show, and now I feel a bit dumb about that, too. (Particularly since the Rickshaw was pretty packed, suggesting everyone knew better than I did).

If you missed last night, and you like punk rock, you should come tonight. Only rarely do we get second chances in these matters. It'll be a show you'll kick yourself for missing, otherwise, and I believe there ARE tickets available. I shot some video - go find it, if you need convincing. There was even a special guest - Bruce Wilson of Tankhog/ Sunday Morning joining Billy onstage for a Dead Boys cover - though I have no idea if the band plans something different for tonight... I would hazard a guess they do.

Actually, come to think of it, the Bonitos were pretty fucking cool that night at the Venue for Japanese Earthquake relief, where Billy and Alexa Bardach, I think it was, back when she was in Piggy, squared off around a Stooges cover... that was pretty fucking compelling too, but mostly because Alexa was so intense in her energy, stalking Billy like she was just as likely to pounce on him as sing, albeit unclear if that would have been to eat him alive or fuck him or maybe both, like Beatrice Dalle in Trouble Every Day. I think Billy was kinda surprised by her too, as I remember it... Not quite sure what was going on there (I suspect large quantities of alcohol were involved), but it was pretty damned memorable!

Sunday, February 02, 2020

A fine night out

Just a few pics. Managed all three headliners in three different locations over the course of about two hours. Also shot a bunch of vids of Alien Boys (part two here), the Judges (part two here), and Bison, all of which are on Youtube. I think Bob and I enjoyed Alien Boys the most!

I have stuff to do so no more writing for awhile. See you at the Black Halos! (All photos by me, but no good ones of the Judges).

Me and the other old guy in the Alien Boys shirt! 

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Crazy gig trifecta plan: Alien Boys, Judges and Bison, in THREE DIFFERENT VENUES

Just altering this a bit to say - I saw three bands at three different venues tonight and got three different stamps on my wrist. A productive night!