Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hanging with Henry, the Huskers and the SST Records crew in Redondo Beach

Henry (Black Flag), HR (Bad Brains) and brother Ed, seated far right. Anna Summa photo

By Ed and Andy

When 20-year-old, muscled and shaved-head Henry Rollins hit Los Angeles with Black Flag in 1981, we soon found ourselves befriending and hanging out with the razor-blade-throated vocalist and the SST Records crew.

Here's how it all went down:  

Ed: We were at the Hollywood Palladium for that Youth Movement '82 show on Feb. 11 with TSOL headlining and Social D, Wasted Youth, Adolescents and a couple other bands. That was the show when some dude dove (or did he fall?-- Andy) off the balcony -- the next one-upmanship from diving off the speakers at Godzilla's because a stage dive just wasn't cutting it anymore.

There were rumors of a new singer for Flag named Henry, and Andy and I were pretty sure that meant Henry from Washington, DC -- the most rad frontman for SOA -- and only a few SoCals knew of the DC scene at the time. Luckily, Andy and I had "discovered" the DC scene, so when I spotted that fit bald guy in the shadows by himself taking everything in -- even a little intimidated -- I knew I should say something. As I approached (something I couldn't do with a young Suzanna Hoffs...), I noticed his Vans right away and knew he'd be cool. I led with -- "Hey, aren't you Henry from DC/SOA -- the new singer for Black Flag?" His intense, defensive scowl
"Backstage" pass for Olympic gig
slowly changed and we began to chat. I was throwing around band names such as Teen Idles, Gov't Issue, Youth Brigade and, of course, Minor Threat and he realized I knew more than your average shaved head, flannel- and jeans-wearing beach punk. He told me how he got recruited and couldn't stop talking about the Bad Brains and Trouble Funk.

He told me about SST and that it was in North Redondo Beach on Phelan Avenue. Strange coincidence -- we lived in North Redondo on Steinhart Avenue. He told us to swing by, and that was all we needed to know. I think we went there the next day and began the Black Flag experience. I believe Dave-O (Clausen) was the guy we eventually really hung out with and who would get us on the lists. Of course, Andy took that in to a new level. I knew this was something cool -- Andy knew there was much more...

Andy: I remember when Ed told me who the guy was, I was stoked and remember Henry saying, "You gotta listen to the Necros, you gotta listen to the Necros!" in a wild and excited tone.

First time we visited the Phelan office, Henry played us SOA, Teen Idles and Faith demos and some killer Bad Brains live tapes. He dug into his boxes and gave us some DC fliers, one of which had a personal note from Ian Mackaye to him on the back (pictured). When the DC compilation "Flex Your Head" came out later, I borrowed it from Henry to tape it at home ... I guess I held onto it too long and he chewed me out over the phone -- "Get that to me ASAP, I'm making some DC tapes for a friend of mine" -- I did, and I've been prompt in returning things I've borrowed from friends from that day on.

Ian-to-Henry note
Those early Phelan days opened the doors for us in hanging out with the folks in Flag, Minutemen, Saccharine Trust and Husker Du. When Bob Mould visited my house to play records and shoot some basketball on our backyard court, my mom jokingly asked him, "Which one are you -- Husker or Du?"

My parents never met Henry ... if they did, it would have been a very interesting moment. Carrie sold Henry a greeting card when she was working at Guild Drugs on Artesia Boulevard in Manhattan Beach ... the stories go on and on.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Free Doom For the Masses

Nickle Pierce (All Cat Rose photos)

 By Cat Rose

Doom Fest:  Our friend Nickle's brilliant idea that came to fruition on August 1, 2010 at Magnuson Park, Seattle, WA. Here is Nickle (above) before the action as we and many others were helping him set up. The calm before the storm. 

DoomSower
DoomSower:  enough said --just two guys (at that time) and a whole lot of noise.  From Portland, OR, they kicked ass. Favorite part: notice the sword microphone stand.


Roareth
Fuck Knuckles
Roareth:  from Edmonds, WA they said, who'da thunk it? Edmonds being a pretty sleepy town, would never have guessed that's where they were from. Had not heard of them before this, but they turned out to be one of our favorite bands of the day.

Fuck Knuckles:  Russell Brand look-alike on acid (not that that is a stretch). Solo artiste from Birmingham, England. Nickle's little British import for the day. He basically plays feedback which, some may think is genius, some others may wonder "why?" Best part: our friend Diana Mivelli asked when he was going to start playing when we realized that he apparently already had.      

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth:  Hell ya! Tad Doyle at his best with his wife Peg Doyle on bass, catch them if you get the chance. 
 


Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, here and above



Witchburn
Witchburn:  Jamie (Nova) rocked the crowd as the lead singer for the headliner. She also hails from Hell's Belles (Seattle all-female AC/DC cover band). An awesome ending to a delightful doom day.

Other acts were H.C. Minds, J9 Fierce (Nickle's wife and bellydancer), Noel Austin and Pure Cirkus (a freak show deal) and Crowned by Fire.  

Nickle hopes to have another one coming up again this year and we hope so too!  We will be helping him however we can and he is also looking for bands and anyone else that can help. Cheers to Nick for putting this all together!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Faking sick paid off in seventh grade ...

Califfornia World Music Festival program pages.

By Andy

What happens when you fake being sick and stay home from school? As a seventh-grader in 1979, that meant listening to hard-rock tunes on 94.7 KMET in the Los Angeles area and hoping to win the big prize: tickets to the Califfornia World Music Festival.(Yes, they spelled it with two F's.)

My "stomach ache" miraculously disappeared after mom left the house, and I got the phone into a vice grip and continuously called the station when they announced the tickets were up for grabs. Yes, I won, and on April 8, I headed to the L.A. Memorial Coliseum with my dad to check out Aerosmith, Van Halen, UFO, Cheech and Chong and Eddie Money.

Highlights:
* My dad having to return to the car to put back his pocket knife, which didn't make it past security. While he was away, I waited by the front gate and saw several guards pin down a screaming, shirtless, long-haired man who appeared to be strung out on drugs.

* Entering the Coliseum to the sounds of Money's "Two Tickets to Paradise" and the smell of pot -- lots of it.

Paid $1.19 for this in '79. Price tag still on back.
* Sharing my program with the strangers around me who spoke with slurred words, but still seemed cool to me.

* Cheech and Chong dancing about in pink tutus.

* UFO shredding the stage, even though guitarist Paul Chapman replaced golden-haired and -handed guitarist Michael Schenker for the gig. One person's "UFO Kicks Ass" sign was the best of the day.

* Van Halen opening with the brilliant "Light up the Sky," David Lee Roth telling the security guards to "Get the fuck off my stage" and Eddie Van Halen raging on the "Eruption" guitar solo. My dad commented: "That guy sure gets a lot of mileage out of his guitar."

* Aerosmith were OK, actually a bit of a letdown following the mighty VH. However, the film of fighter planes gunning away and crashing on two large screens before the band took the stage was stellar.

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon and evening. Not bad at all.

On a current note, a friend of ours recently left his pocket knife in our car during a Neurosis/Black Breath gig. We safely returned it to him the following day. Talk about coming full circle.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Look back and laugh: A three-day journey with Minor Threat in the summer of 1982



Minor Threat in 1982. Brother Ed, sitting far left. Flipside photo

By Andy

I've never seen Fugazi -- Carrie has. I've never witnessed Junkyard -- Carrie's gigs once again.

With singer/guitarist Ian Mackaye at the helm, Fugazi rose from the ashes of Minor Threat, Embrace and Rites of Spring in Washington, D.C. Guitarist Brian Baker grew out his Minor Threat and Dag Nasty bleached-blonde hair even longer to team up with former Big Boys and Decry guys in Hollywood's whiskey-rock outfit Junkyard.

My story ...

It all began with, "Hey, you, with the Minor Threat sticker on your flannel."
I turned around to find a sweaty Battalion of Saints guitarist Chris Smith looking me in the eyes as he packed away his gear after a raucous set at Bob's Place in Los Angeles, June 11, 1982.

"We're playing with them July 9 in San Diego," Smith added.

I tucked that date away in my mind -- I simply had to go. But how?
At age 15, I didn't drive -- and if I arranged the trip with someone who did -- I would have to come up with one brilliant, convincing story to get my parents on board with my quest to see my two favorite bands.

Eventually, my friend Mike Paul became the driver man -- with his bitchin' Camaro -- and I informed my parents that I would be sleeping over at his house in Torrance that Friday evening. I did, but we also managed to make it to San Diego, locate the gig space and see Minor Threat, the BATS and Husker Du (!), before trucking it back to Paul's home and getting some well-deserved punk-rock rest.

We pulled it off -- and that began a memorable trifecta of Minor Threat gigs, which also included a near riot at HJ's in San Fernando Valley and a wild, sing-along, dog-pile-on-top-of-Mackaye show at Dancing Waters in San Pedro.

SAN DIEGO: JULY 9
"What's your names? Merrill (Ward) said we've got to put you on the guest list," Mackaye asked us while pointing at Ward, whom I knew from hanging around SST Records' office, which was a quick skateboard ride away from my Redondo Beach home.

Not bad, we thought, but it would get even better.

A while later, as we were sitting in front of the club, a gregarious man stumbled by and sang a Beatles song a cappela in a raspy yet melodic tone. We later recognized him as Grant Hart behind the Huskers' drum kit.

In short (as I noted in my Flipside #34 review back then), openers Men of Clay's keyboard/guitar punk fusion was enjoyable, the Huskers ripped through their ultracore set and blew us away, the BATS turned up the punk/metal to headbanging volume -- and Minor Threat, well, the crowd ate up every second of their in-your-face, hardcore bursts of energy.

After Minor Threat's set, Mackaye was spent and, with head down, trudged out of the club and into the night.

One gig down, two to go.

SAN FERNANDO VALLEY: July 10
I've got my brother and dad to thank for this one, no doubt.

With DOA's "Hardcore '81" blasting on the cassette player, my brother Eddie drove our Gremlin up the freeway toward HJ's. However, the car suffered a flat tire about a half hour into our journey, and we were stuck on the side of the road -- majorly bummed, of course. After calling my dad, he soon arrived in family vehicle No. 2, a VW bus, that saved the day. Thankfully, dad was into the switch-off, and as he waited for Gremlin help, we took off in the bus toward the valley.

After arriving at HJ's, a country bar complete with sawdust on the floor, we were confused as to whether they were going all-ages on that night or 21-over. I do remember seeing Susannah Hoffs of the then Bangs there and some guy with a homemade "Miner Threat" shirt (yes, Miner, ha ha).

While everything was being sorted out, Eddie and I had a lengthy conversation with Lyle Preslar and Baker of Minor Threat about school, punk scenes and various other topics. Nice guys.

And that's when the first bottle was thrown by a punk at the HJ's building. Apparently, the club owners were canceling the show and some folks were downright pissed off.

In mid-chat with the Minor Threat boys, Mackaye came over and spoke of an alternate venue -- nearby Stone Fox Studios -- and they bolted for their van to get the hell out of there before the cops arrived. We followed in our bus and tore through the night and wound up at Stone Fox, a spot secured by the Youth Brigade guys.

With about 20 folks on hand, both bands played, with Minor Threat blasting through their set at breakneck pace, never tiring and giving us lucky ones a show for the ages. 

SAN PEDRO: July 11
Next morning, word was out about another Minor Threat gig at Dancing Waters in San Pedro.

Camaro Mike was back for this one, and Manhattan Beach punk characters with names like Chriso, Hank, Fletcher (Pennywise) and Dougie (Dag Nasty, Descendents) also made appearances.

Upon arrival, I noticed the Minor Threat van, and Baker emerged from it, gave me a nod and a smirk and headed into the club.

Black Flag played a short set that night, and Henry Rollins was in full force during Minor Threat's set, as well, piling onto the stage with the rest of us to share vocal duties with Mackaye, who was more than willing to hand off the mic.

It was another killer show, and probably the best of the three in a row (and certainly more intimate than the massive July 3 gig at The Barn at Alpine Village, where you could barely see the band on the stage because of the constant stream of divers and slammers. Mackaye's bald head popped up every once in a while, so you knew he was there).

Bumps, bruises and hoarse voices aside for all involved, the ride home after Dancing Waters was bliss, knowing that we were witness to something special that night.

Thanks to the Manhattan crew, they brought a cassette tape and had the sound guy record the gig, which I still have a copy of today and still play often. It still sounds as loud, clear, angry and vital as it did then.

I drove by the area where Dancing Waters stood recently with my wife and parents, and I remember smiling as I looked over at the spot, still hearing those songs echo in my mind.

(This story ran recently on the Double Cross and Sparkplug Magazine Web sites.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mike Ness and Social Distortion: Past and present -- good and bad

Ed Colver photo
 By Andy

A mysterious man -- ghoulish face, all dressed in black -- appeared from behind the blood-red curtains and grabbed me by the shirt.

I skittered past a crowd of punks and the woman working the backstage table, nearly falling into a pole, and found myself on "the other side." It all happened so quickly. I wasn't sure where I'd end up, but I knew I was heading somewhere exciting. A place that would turn my 14-year-old normal existence into a raucous, but also enlightening, world of screaming singers, magical guitarists and hard-drinking, hardcore music cravers.
"Count me in," I seemed to say under my breath.

"Hey, man, I got you in ... you're all set," the black-clad man said to me in a hoarse voice, one obviously soaked in beer and stained with tobacco.

"Thanks, who are you?" I shyly asked, smoothing out my black gym shirt emblazoned with a gold anarchy "A" that I'd spraypainted on there earlier in the day.

"I'm Mike, I sing for a band called Social Distortion," he lobbed back, staring at me with piercing eyes blotted with black makeup.

I'd never heard of the band, but I had a gut feeling that I'd dig them. I was at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium that night in the summer of 1981 to check out Black Flag, Adolescents, DOA and the Minutemen -- and I knew that if Mike was there, trolling the backstage area, that he was musically on my side.
"Cool, do you have any records out? When are you playing next?" I said, wanting to know everything about my new favorite band.

Mike gave me a quick lowdown on Social D, and then he headed off to find his buddies.

A few weeks later, I heard the strains of a song called "Mainliner" ooze out of my radio on Rodney Bingenheimer's show on KROQ 106.7. What the hell? The Clash- and Johnny Thunders' Heartbreakers-inspired tune was a bit rough, but it was amazing nonetheless -- and there was that voice. Sure enough, Rodney announced that it was Social Distortion. Just perfect, I thought.

I soon picked up the "Mainliner/Playpen" single at Recycled Records in Hermosa Beach, and later was floored by the band's "1945" on Rodney's compilation record.

Over the next year and a half or so, I saw the band (as both a three- and four-piece) around the Los Angeles area at spots like the Whisky, Hollywood Palladium, Florentine Gardens, Lazarro's Ballroom and the Cuckoo's Nest in Costa Mesa. All stellar gigs, as was the band's debut album, "Mommy's Little Monster."



I spoke with Ness a few times during that time period, and he was always a cool guy. As the years wore on, though, the band went through some rough patches and apparently Ness even served some jail time for drug problems, which inspired the "Prison Bound" record. It was way toned down from the heavy-hitting "Monster," but still had some decent tunes.

Subsequent SD records were a mixed bag of roaring songs and country-tinged ones -- sometimes the song structures and lyrics were generic, sometimes spot-on. Perhaps if Ness still had early bandmates like Dennis Dannell (brain-aneurysm death) and Brent Liles (cycling-accident death) with him, the songs would be solid all around.

But Ness has grown considerably since those early years and has kept his guitar riffs and gravely voice intact, and this brings me to SD's new record, "Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes," released Jan. 18.

At first listen, Carrie noted that only two songs captured her ears, the single, "Machine Gun Blues," and the Hank Williams cover, "Alone and Forsaken." A few others are decent, as well, but it seems like SD has taken its punk-rock torch back after the band passed it on to Green Day -- not a bad move, but the tunes still scream generic.

However, "California (Hustle and Flow)" is just plain bad, and Carrie said with a smirk: "Sounds like Mike Ness has been hanging out with Bret Michaels, and the 'booty-shaking' Tina Turner backup vocals are lame.'"

As for the grueling ... droning ... depressing ... 6-minute, 24-second "Bakersfield," Carrie said: "It's about as exciting as being in Bakersfield."

RIP: Bukowski

We figured our first post should be in honor of Buk, since he inspired the name of our blog.
Cat Rose photo
Cheers ...
Especially to Brian Mello for the killer logo.