Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mike Watt: Whisperin' while hollerin' with the Missingmen / Interview

Mike Watt plays Seattle. (All Andy photos, except where noted)
By Andy

Mike Watt was dizzy, he was slammed with a fever. But for the econo-man, king of the bass jam... the show must go on.

And he's an ultra-busy man, as well. During the last week, Watt joined Iggy Pop to belt out Stooges tunes in front of massive crowds in France and Italy. He got sick along the way, but pulled together and traveled to Seattle with fellow Missingmen Tom Watson (guitar) and Raul Morales (drums) to perform their "Hyphenated-man" opera at the Tractor Tavern on Friday. They'll be on the road through November.

I met Watt in the early '80s while hanging around the SST Records office on Phelan Avenue in Redondo Beach. He was with the Minutemen then, and he and the SST guys had a big influence on me with their extraordinary work ethic.

Thanks to friend Travis, he set up the following interview with Watt after Friday's gig in "return" for helping to haul some of the band's gear into the van. Bobo and Cat get credit for sticking it out after the gig while I got the job done backstage.


You see that piece, man, it's got I don't how many hundred parts. It's one big song, 30 main parts, but then each part has parts-- there was parts when I fucking didn't know where I was.
I don't wanna make excuses. In Vaudeville, I would sit on the stage and you work the room. It ain't a top-40 band anyway, we've got the unique flavor.

Crowd, very kind-- for one thing, to tolerate a piece like that "Hyphenated-man"... (they may say) "What the fuck's that about?" And they're interested, they wanna see where it's going-- they become part of it.

That's the difference in recording the thing and playing it for people-- they were really with it. Yeah, there was some yamming, there was a bar over there and sometimes we whisper... You know what? That's part of the reality. Any farmer would tell you, "You want a good crop, use a lot of manure." You don't get mad at people for that, you just say, "Wow, that's the situation and let's try to grow something in this petri dish." Maybe some of that stuff made people uncomfortable, like, "Why is he whisperin'?"

What's a gig without people to play to? (Otherwise) It's just a prac.


It's part of the journey, like driving around the U.S., Europe, too, or Canada or wherever, Japan ... there's mountains, there's bayou, there's beach, hills and valleys. You know, if it got all same-ol, same-ol, it would probably be lame. But you get dealt a hand, and I think it's up to you to either shirk or give it your best shot....

One good thing is one life hopefully is many gigs. And I learned from my buddy getting killed, D. Boon in the accident, you never know when the last gig is, so do you really wanna go down on one where you tried half way?


You know coming from them SST days, that's where I learned a lot of this.

If that rubbed off, that means you were open minded enough to let some crazy guys (influence me, as in Andy)...It was all about people being open enough to check out other stuff-- it was not a popular thing. So I don't even have to explain... you know and you feel it and that's why you're writing about music still-- cuz it's in you, right? You're compelled, right?

Well, that's why Watt's in it. It's work, it's my job--- work ethic, it's not just a master-slave thing, it's like, "Whoa, I'm here to learn, everybody's got something to teach me." OK, I'll bring some stuff, but that's only half that equation..... (Editor's note: A guy from the opening band, Hounds of the Wild Hunt, comes in and shakes Watt's hand and thanks him for playing with them... Watt: "Thanks for sharing the stage, that was very kind of you-- your band's great.")


We're still touring on the circuit Chuck Dukowski built-- I wish they could get a lot more acknowledgement, Black Flag (Editor's note: At that point, a woman comes in and tells Watt that her name is Kira; she was named after Black Flag bassist and Watt's ex-wife, Kira Roessler)...

What you saw out there, in a weird way, is a product of that movement. It's just the weird Pedro-Watt-via-the Minutemen-D. Boon-Georgie (Hurley) kind of thing. I'm a part of that--- It was not a stepping-stone thing, it was the get-go, it was the shove.

Even when I doubt myself, when that fever got me tonight, the momentum of those days -- and it's not a "Happy Days," Fonzie and Potsie and that shit -- it's the kind of ethics that were built with that shit, still apply now, and that's why I do call it a movement... there's a lot of autonomy, not much hierarchy. There would have been no "Double Nickels" if Husker didn't do "Zen Arcade" -- shit like that.

(Editor's note: Speaking of "Double Nickels on the Dime" -- Watt and the Missingmen cranked out a few Minutemen tunes to close the set, including "The Glory of Man.")

George Hurley and Mike Watt in fIREHOSE. (Cat Rose photo)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cheers, Artcore, for putting us in print

Thanks to Welly of Artcore fanzine out of Cardiff, Wales, a pair of There's Something Hard in There entries have made it into print in issue #30.

Piggy's Ron Reyes (former Black Flag singer) and the Faith/Void interviews get the nod. One of Cat's Reyes photos is also featured, bottom right.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mould and company kick out solid tunes from the past and present in Seattle

Bob Mould lets loose in Seattle. (Andy photos)
By Andy

The first time I saw Bob Mould live 30 years ago with his Husker Du trio, the band charged through its set and throttled the crowd with its ultracore tunes in San Diego.

When the Minneapolis men were finished, they simply unplugged their instruments, tossed drumsticks aside and exited the small stage.

I can't remember much clapping from the attendees, maybe a few yells of approval -- certainly one from me.

Last Tuesday night, the former scenario was toppled upside down with full force when Mould and his current bandmates Jason Narducy on bass and Jon Wurster on drums performed at the Showbox Market in Seattle.

And after the band completed its 20-song set of Sugar, Mould Band and Husker songs, the man with the blazing guitar and howling voice was left on stage -- alone.

He was face to face with the loudly cheering, massive crowd. There was no usual guitar and microphone to act as a security blanket.

As he stood there smiling, the 51-year-old had a look of pride and appreciation in his eyes. Although his hands were tightly clasped together, they managed to shake a little and it seemed as if he was even a bit nervous in the moment.

After about 20 seconds, Mould stepped back, gave the crowd a thumb's up and strolled off stage.

The events leading up to that moment were stellar and brought me back to my first Husker show three decades ago.

First up was the entire Sugar "Copper Blue" album, which the trio laid into with a vigor that the crowd matched song by song.

Five songs from Mould's latest album "Silver Age" came next, and the energy level rose even higher when the band unleashed "Star Machine," "The Descent," "Round the City Square," "Steam of Hercules" and "Silver Age."

As if the up-in-front slammers and pogoers weren't getting enough, it was Husker song time. "I Apologize" and an extended "Chartered Trips" came first, and then Mould wedged the new Husker-like "Keep Believing" in there to seam the past and present together.

"Celebrated Summer" and "Makes No Sense at All" were the perfect closers. For those who hadn't experienced these songs live before, it was a treat ... For me, I will never tire of having those tunes firmly placed into my eardrums.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ladies and gentlemen: Chixdiggit

K.J. Jansen of Chixdiggit. (All Cat Rose photos)
By Andy

Henry Rollins may be no fun, according to a Chixdiggit song, but the former Black Flag singer surely knows how to hold a microphone properly.

At Friday's Seattle gig at the Funhouse, Chixdiggit frontman K.J. Jansen's white Gibson SG rebelled against him with some broken strings and the singer had to go guitarless for two songs.

Jansen pulled it off and continued to work the crowd into a frenzy, but after the gig, he joked: "I hate that, I don't wanna do that again. A couple times it happens, but it's not my thing... I don't know, I can't dance. There's got to be on You Tube, a tutorial on how to wrap a microphone around your hand, and I'll take that tutorial. I should probably learn that, I should probably do a little bit of homework if we're gonna be doing this still."

From left, Tyler Pickering, Mark O'Flaherty, James Gamble and Jansen.

And the Calgary, Alberta, Canada, pop-punkers are still doing it well, about 21 years into their career.

On Friday, an enthusiastic crowd jammed onto the dance floor during the band's raucous set -- some folks threw beer cans on stage, slammed into each other and some even got rammed into the monitors and plowed head-first onto the small stage.

All the while, Jansen, lead guitarist Mark O'Flaherty, drummer Tyler Pickering and bassist James Gamble served up their infectious, spirited and humorous tunes, like "Spanish Fever," "I Should Have Played Football in High School," "I Wanna Hump You," "Gettin' Air" and much more.

"We did not expect this," said Jansen, whose band last played Seattle opening for Me First and the Gimme Gimmes seven years ago. "Somebody on the Internet was betting that nobody was gonna come tonight. I was like, 'Fuck, I kind of hope that happens,' just to see what happens, but it didn't -- we're a super lucky band."

Jeff Stone, former lead guitarist for the Best Kissers in the World, was on hand and smiled the whole time while watching his former tour mates.

"They're amazing!" he said. "It doesn't seem like anybody's aged at all, and that was a long time ago. They're awesome. I'd forgotten how great they are. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I knew I didn't wanna miss it."

Seattle is a special, memorable music city for Chixdiggit, which released its first album on Sub Pop Records back in the day. Jansen remembers playing great gigs with the Fastbacks, Best Kissers, Flop, Supersuckers, Presidents of the USA and Model Rockets.

Speaking of the Fastbacks, Jansen reveres the legendary band and was bummed he couldn't attend one of their reunion gigs in West Seattle and San Francisco about a year ago.

"They played these shows, and honestly, if I would have known, I would have been here," he said. "I saw pictures and I cried. I love Kim Warnick so much it's insane... she's the sweetest, fuckin' most awesome, talented, amazing person in the world-- that's bar-none."

Perhaps it's the spirit of bands like the Fastbacks that keeps Chixdiggit going. Jansen said they threw in the towel for a while after releasing "Pink Razors" in 2005 because the band had run its course.

But the band wouldn't die, and last year they dusted off their guitars and returned to the music world by releasing the "Safeways Here We Come" EP.

"When we started doing it again, every single thing, we're always totally surprised and totally charmed," Jansen said. "We're fucking lazy, we never do anything... and we don't deserve a night like this, but it happens. I don't mean to get all maudlin or anything."

"We still get to do this," he added. "We're in Seattle right now playing rock and roll-- still, you know? This shit should have ended years ago. I get to travel around with my best friend (O'Flaherty), get drunk and be a jackass and do interviews... it's like, fucked up."

Pickering and Gamble are new to the Chixdiggit fold, joining founders Jansen and O'Flaherty for the ride. (Jason Hirsch and Mike Eggermont were the original drummer and bassist, respectively; Dave Alcock drummed for six years and Kepi Ghoulie even handled bass duties for a spell.)

With some younger guys on board, Jansen said that he and O'Flaherty now call Chixdiggit tours "the father-and-son fishing trip." They all work regular jobs when they're not playing some Canadian gigs, traveling to Europe a few times a year and jumping into the U.S. for occasional shows. Next on their docket is a Calgary hometown New Year's show.

Jansen said road trips are a blast with the Chixdiggit guys.

"Every day is like today, you know? We show up, we walk around, we make stupid jokes and laugh, have dinner together. The shows are great and everything, but the all-day-long bullshit is just as good, if not better," he said.

And new songs are on the way, according to Jansen, who is married to Kathy Camaro of the pop-punk trio the Riff Randells. They have a 2-year-old girl, whom Jansen has been trying his new songs out on, believe it or not.

"So I have all these songs, cuz I just keep playing to her and she just loves it," he said. "They will be Chixdiggit songs, but they're all about diapers and poop now."

"I'll have to change the lyrics around a little bit -- that's the difficult part. I can't just get used to singing: 'I gotta diaper that needs changing.'"

In true Chixdiggit fashion, Jansen air guitars while singing those words. And he's smiling.
Sounds like a good one, however the lyrics end up.


Chixdiggit's first tour with the Best Kissers in the early '90s featured an "over-the-top food fight" on the last night in Sacramento that left both bands covered in beer, soda, eggs and more, Stone recalled.

Earlier that evening, Chixdiggit exacted revenge on the Best Kissers guys, who had been playing pranks on them the whole West Coast tour. The Best Kissers knew their van would be a target, so they parked it five blocks away in a residential neighborhood, hoping it would be safe.

"They looked and they looked and they were about to give up... and they found it and they just destroyed it," Stone said. "It was covered in blown-up condoms, duct tape and peanut butter-- just shit everywhere. You couldn't see out the windows."

Stone joked that he and another former Best Kisser who couldn't attend Friday's Seattle show "talked about just coming down here and just fucking up their van and then leaving."

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bob Mould's 'Silver Age' is pure gold / Review

By Andy

"Whenever Bob calls, I'm ready."

That's what Jason Narducy told me about a year-and-a-half ago after he finished a gig with Telekinesis at the Crocodile in Seattle.

Bob Mould summoned Narducy about a year later to get his bass gear ready for some rock action. Drummer Jon Wurster got the nod, as well. And here we are with "Silver Age" in our faces -- and smiles are spread across them as far as Mould's guitar-worn hands can reach to dig into his past for inspiration for these 10 golden nuggets.

Mould is surely smiling, too, as he delivers these Sugar-coated, fierce tunes into our eardrums, and might as well be asking, "Do you remember... how it's properly done?"

To me, this album celebrates the past, but can also act as a companion piece in paving the path to where one stands today and hopes to journey in the years to come. It's uplifting yet forceful, as one often has to push to be heard and appreciated. 

"Star Machine" is the perfect opener, rolling along smoothly at the start, packing a wallop soon after and then reaching high above the roar with fists of vintage Mould vocal melody that transition into classic Mould guitar-solo work. If that isn't enough, there's nine more essential songs on the docket.

The crunchy "Silver Age" -- containing the older, wiser but still angrier line, "I'm never too old to contain my rage" -- paves the way for "The Descent," a song I would have begged my non-Husker-listening friends to check out alongside "Celebrated Summer" and "Makes No Sense At All" back in the day. "The Descent" and track nine, "Keep Believing," would have surely thrown a monkeywrench into their world (in a good way, of course) as the twosome roams into one's needful-things category. Hell, my non-Mould-listening friends should be on board with this pair ASAP.

Other standouts include the towering, bludgeoning "Steam of Hercules," which treads on Sugar's "Explode and Make Up" terrain; the crackling "Angels Rearrange" ("Don't be scared of change, because it may be time to rearrange"); and the fragile "First Time Joy," which closes the set in soul-searching "Workbook"-like fashion.

It's been a while since Mould's rocked this hard and really nailed it with each track on one of his albums. When he asks on "The Descent" ... "Can I try to make it up to you somehow?" ... we can only answer, "You've just done it."

(Merge Records)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Saturday in Seattle -- metal up your ass: EyeHateGod, Black Breath & Prong at Bumbershoot

EyeHateGod... on fire. (Angela Steel photo)
By Cat

Usually, Andy and I avoid Bumbershoot in Seattle like the plague... the crowds, the long lines for EVERYTHING, the posers, etc.

The last time we attended B Shoot (or BS, which really explains it better) was in 2007 for a Seaweed reunion gig. We avoided most of the crowds that time by hanging out across the street at our favorite punk dive the Funhouse, ran in for Seaweed, then left (we had not seen them in years, so we felt it was worth the Bumbershoot torture to get to see them, and they, of course, did not disappoint).

The BS we went to prior to that was for the Pixies in 2004.  That show was extremely annoying as they played in the large stadium. You had to wait a long time in line to get in, and there wasn't any beer in there.  Every poser who never saw the Pixies in small venues like we used to, and/or never knew who the Pixies were before Nirvana touted them, were in there. Good thing we weren't allowed to bring in any firearms --ha ha. 

So, BS 2012 was coming up and I took a peek at the lineup for the hell of it... and lo and behold, on Saturday (Sept. 1), several great bands were playing in the same area all in a row with some kick-ass comedy nearby.  When you see bands like Black Breath and EyeHateGod playing at this BS festival, we couldn't help but be intrigued.  I had visions of these bands playing outside with flying hair and many amps and people covering their children's ears and running away screaming-- some heads were gonna roll.  Right at the time we were looking at the festival ad, we got a text from our friends Jeb, Angela and Bowie, stating they were going, too, so it was a sign and we got those tickets. 

But, of course, BS would not allow this music to be for the outside masses, and we were directed to the Exhibition Hall, which was down a flight of stairs, way underground. Frankly, that was perfect for us vampires, anyway -- we prefer the pits of hell.  We ended up staying down there for 6 hours, avoiding the sun, crowds and lines-- they had a beer garden down there, too, so what more could you ask for?  It never got too crowded down there and in between bands it was wide open.
The Spittin' Cobras were the first ones on-- a Motley Crue-esque band, circa '88 on the Sunset Strip, so we weren't too into that (clearly too much cowbell).

Black Breath's Eric Wallace. (Andy photo)

Black Breath was next. Due to the signs that stated "absolutely no crowd surfing or moshing" warning you before you came in, it was not your normal Black Breath gig with everyone slamming around.  But this did not stop my head from banging into oblivion and not being able to move the next morning.
Prong's Tommy Victor. (Andy photo)

Next up was Prong. While Prong did "Snap your fingers/Snap your neck" during a lot of their set, some of the newer songs may be more like treating your neck to a gentle massage with essential oils. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Then EyeHateGod came on and blew out what was left of my eardrums with their dirty, sludgy metal/punk concoction -- a perfect end to our fun times in the metal cabal.

EHG's Mike Williams and Gary Mader, top. Jimmy Bower, below. (Andy photos)

Then we emerged from our underground lair to walk across the patio to the building next door to check out the comedy stylings of Brian Posehn----whom Angela saw earlier descending into the hall to enjoy some of the metal himself. 
All in all, a great day and night...Horns up, BS!