Monday, August 26, 2013

Circle Jerks! 7 Seconds! The Yobs! ... and who?? Sorex

By Andy

Insolents: Out. Sorex: In.

I was loafing around home one afternoon in October of 1985 -- probably planted in front of the television watching the classic hoops series "The White Shadow" and scarfing my beloved sour cream and onion Doritos and gulping down a Dr. Pepper -- when Sorex drummer Dave phoned. He had just received word from a gig promoter in Reno, Nev., that San Diego's Insolents had canceled their appearance at an upcoming show with the Circle Jerks and 7 Seconds. He wondered if we could play the gig. Hell yes, Dave replied.

Gigs were scarce for our little band back then, so we were primed -- and a bit nuts, I suppose -- to drive the 532 miles from our Redondo Beach home to play one show. But this was a gig. Period. And it was with two of the premier punk bands of that era. How could we pass this one up? Destiny was in the air, we figured.

Oh yeah, the gig was a week away, so we had to do some quick planning to make this happen.

Committing to play was the easy part. The seemingly Gargantuan tasks were finding a vehicle or two on short notice that would survive the eight-hour drive to the gig location in nearby Sparks, Nev., and usher us back home safely; get time off work; make sure there was nothing crucial on tap in our classes at junior college, since we'd be missing a day by leaving early Friday morning for that night's show. I secured my parents' Subaru hatchback for the journey, since my car wasn't in shape for a long haul, and guitarist Korky obtained a suitable car from a friend, I believe, so we were set. Bring on the open road!

The drive was a breeze, with bassist John and I in the Subaru with Dave's drum kit in back along with some amps. We were powered by Mountain Dew and the sounds of Husker Du's "Flip Your Wig" and "New Day Rising" on the tape deck ... as the kids say these days, those were our jams. The other guys -- Korky, Dave and guitarist Jerry -- zipped along the highway in their ride with the guitars and sundry items.

We made it to the promoter's house at about 1 or 2 in the afternoon, hung out at his sketchy friend's filthy house (there was a trash can in the kitchen with flies buzzing around it) for a while, but then retired to the car for a nap. We spent some time acoustically rehearsing songs with Korky (our new guitarist) on the steps of the house while sipping on Budweiser tall boys and wondering what the night would bring.

When we arrived at the Sparks Rec Hall, some locals informed us that it was a former church and the bands would play on the old altar. John and I cracked up. How fitting, since we used to be altar boys at our Catholic church in grade school. One question: was there any sacramental wine left over in a cupboard somewhere?

We opened the gig to a decent-sized crowd of about 100 people, all of whom seemed to dig our sounds. I went off -- jumping, singing and even running at the crowd, pretending that I was going to knock into people but then stopping on a dime, faking them out and drawing smiles from the punks. We did make a few mistakes, like me singing the wrong lyrics to one song because it was so loud on stage that I couldn't tell which number we were playing; Korky couldn't remember some of his guitar parts, so he turned down his amp at one point and stuck his guitar between Jerry's legs like some cheesy Sunset Strip hair band's antics. Nobody knew our songs, anyway, so what the hell, right?

The Yobs from Reno rocked, and about 15 minutes after their set I visited with Kevin Seconds in the parking lot. He missed our rock show, but said The Yobs guys told him we were good. I traded records with Kevin: our "Portrait of a Prisoner" EP for his band's "Blasts From the Past" EP. (I ran into Kevin at a 7 Seconds gig in San Jose two years later, and he said he still had our record. He handed me the microphone that night to sing a chorus or two with him.)

The 7 Seconds hometown boys were next and stoked the crowd with their punk anthems and new poppy-styled tunes. I fell victim to one of Belvy K's flying drum sticks just under my left eye that night. I reached down, picked up the piece and stuffed it in my pocket for a keepsake. I didn't have clenched fists, but I had a bit of a black eye, for sure, that next morning.

The Circle Jerks got the crowd raging, as well, and it brought back memories of the first time I saw them with TSOL at the Starwood in April of '81 -- my first gig at age 14. We didn't visit with any of the CJ's guys that night, but I did see guitarist Greg Hetson cruising through the living room of the sketchy house with a six-pack of Bud tall boys at a post-gig soiree.

As for accommodations that evening, Dave, Korky and Jerry stayed at sketchy house, while John and I befriended a nice fellow, Tim, who invited us to stay at his house. I got the rec room all to myself and slumbered on a comfy couch. Score!

The next day, John and I bragged about our crash pad as we grabbed breakfast at a casino with the promoter guy. Instead of heading home, we trucked through to Berkeley, hoping to hop on the CJ's gig at Ruthie's Inn, a place we played about a year earlier with Broken Bones, Special Forces and others. No dice gig-wise, but we did spot Metallica's Cliff Burton hanging outside with his buddies drinking beers, just like us.

Since we wouldn't be playing that night, John and I filled the gas tank with our share of the $150 the band earned and headed home. We made it back to Redondo without a hitch, blasting those same Husker tapes along the way. (I tossed those tattered Radio Shack cassettes in the trash the next day ... they had done their job and it was the end of the road for them.)

The band didn't last much longer after that jaunt, but at least we got a memorable road trip under our belt --- and at least we got to play a goddamn gig!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

One hell of a good time at Darrell's Tavern

Stag! (All Cat Rose photos)

It was Hell on Wheels off stage and Raucous Rockin' on stage last night at Darrell's Tavern in Shoreline, WA.

Bands, burlesque, comedy, bitchin' custom cars and motorcycles ... and walking Rainier bottles (!!) ... what more could you ask for?

Here's some Cat Rose pics to document the event:






Sunday, August 18, 2013

You asked for it... You got it: Mudhoney live under the Space Needle

Mudhoney's Mark Arm. (All Cat Rose photos)

Talk about perfect timing.

Cat's best friend Bridget from high school and her boyfriend Greg visited us in Seattle on the same weekend when Mudhoney stormed the Mural Amphitheater, under the Space Needle. Cat and Bridget witnessed the wonders of Mudhoney several times back in the day in the Los Angeles area -- and it was time to rock out again last Friday.

Beach balls flew through the air and onto the stage. Mark Arm played slide guitar with one of the green-and-white objects. While singing with just the microphone, he leaped in the air for a perfect soccer head shot when one of the balls came near him. "Beach balls are really big this year," he wisecracked.

Fans of all ages dug the show... including a pair of senior citizens, one of whom pushed her friend in a wheel chair through the raucous crowd. Not sure if they had dementia or if they were actually into it. Hope they made it through unscathed to continue their journey.

As always, Cat Rose pics:

Steve Turner

Dan Peters
Guy Maddison

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Bl'ast!: 'Blood!' will spill with release of 25-year-old recording session

Bl'ast! in action: From left, Clifford Dinsmore, Mike Neider, Dave Cooper and William "Kip" Duvall. (Courtesy photos)

By Andy

Musical maniacs... and super nice guys -- the perfect concoction.

That's Bl'ast! for you -- the shredding, gut-busting, eye-gouging band hailing from Santa Cruz. I've seen them play live and hung out with them in bars ... they live large wherever they go.

While on a mini tour with Corrosion of Conformity in Boston in 1986, Bl'ast! first dismantled people's minds at the Rat and then introduced me to the wonders of Bass Ale at the Fathers, Too pub. These guys devoured the stuff by the pitcher, were friendly with most folks but were intimidating to a few patrons... it was fascinating to watch them in action. By the end of the night, singer Clifford Dinsmore and COC guitarist Woody Weatherman were standing on a table, rocking it back and forth and singing at the top of their lungs as Black Flag's "Nervous Breakdown" blared from the jukebox. Some wooden crates were kicked to shreds by end of the night somewhere along the way from the bar to our resting place at Mike Gitter's apartment.

In Albany, NY, on the same tour, the younger punks in the crowd got an in-your-face introduction to Dinsmore while drummer Bill Torgerson, bassist Dave Cooper and guitarists Mike Neider and Steve Stevenson chugged away in the background. The guitarists bent back and forth, first planted on two legs and then balancing on one as the music pummeled the youths.(Nowadays, the Bl'ast! guys' stage presence even reminds me of those flailing air balloons you see in front of car dealerships.)

From left, Stevenson, Cooper, Neider and Dinsmore. (Alison Braun photo)

In New Haven, Conn., on the final night, Dinsmore pounded a blue plastic milk crate into the stage while I rushed forward to unleash a long-winded scream into the microphone at the end of one song. "Was that you, man?" Weatherman asked me with a laugh later.

Once at Gilman Street in Berkeley, Torgerson smiled wickedly at me from behind his kit with the word "dirty" scrawled on his forehead in black marker.

In June 2013, Neider and Dinsmore invaded Dave Grohl's Studio 606 in Northridge, CA, to give a final stamp of approval to Grohl's remixing job on "Blood!," recordings from 25 years ago that will be released on Southern Lord Recordings on Sept. 3. The album features William "Kip" Duvall on second guitar; as most people know, he's the former Neon Christ guitarist who now sings for Alice in Chains.

Here's an email interview with Neider and Dinsmore about their recent Bl'ast! experiences -- and check the bottom of this post for some extra insight:

--How did this new release, "Blood!," come about?

Neider: I've been working with Greg Anderson (Southern Lord) with our businesses (Neider owns rrise merchandising) the past 10 years. I told him I had these tapes and he wanted to see if they were usable. As soon as he found out that they were.....

--How did you get Davd Grohl on board?

Neider: As soon as (Anderson) found out the tapes were good, he told Dave Grohl about what has transpired and he wanted to check it out for himself at his studio. (It's) one of the reasons he built a studio. Dave says this was a rare and amazing opportunity and he was going to do the same to Nirvana after Bl'ast! was done.

--What took place during the visit to Grohl's studio? I've seen photos of you guys with Scott Hill, Anderson and Grohl ... was it a gab session about guitars or did you get some work done on the album?

Neider: Well, we wanted good friends and people who've always been stoked on our band through the years to check out what was happening and Grohl and Lou (Lousteau) had this album sounding amazing before I even got to the studio. They started on "Only Time Will Tell." Walked into the studio with an amazing greeting with an old friend and a 25-year-old recording that was fucking amazing sounding. Throughout the week, we had friends stop in to check out how cool this was. At the end of the session, Dave popped open a bottle of Brennivin, this crazy juice from Iceland, and cranked the shit out of the record through the Sound City board. Awesome.

Grohl, Anderson, Neider (with Brennivin) and Dinsmore. (Courtesy photo)

--What were your feelings upon hearing the "Blood!" session after all these years?

Dinsmore: When we walked into the studio, Greg asked if we were ready for a little trip down memory lane ...and man, what a trip it was! It sounds huge, and it was so rad to hear all the lost tracks. It was great to be in Dave's studio amongst old friends, and another highlight, that really took the cake for me, was talking to Will Duvall for the fist time in 25 years!

--What does Duvall think about all this Bl'ast! resurgence?

Neider: He was excited to get his part of Bl'ast! heard and brought to the surface.

(Courtesy photo)

--Looking back, what was your time in Bl'ast! like? What are some top memories?

Neider: The generosity at Studio 606 and Dave Grohl was one of the best things. We never have been treated that good. Meeting the people we have met through the years. Having the release of the assaults of Bl'ast! live ... ha ha

Dinsmore: I always had a lot of fun back in the Bl'ast! days, and somehow, a lot of the best times seemed to involve C.O.C. I think it would be rad to play some shows with them, and try to relive our sordid past....I might even shave my chest for that one!

--Why is now a good time for this Bl'ast! release? Is the world ready to be pummeled again by your tunes?

Neider: Oh yeah, this is the way it should of sounded -- we never had a great studio experience until now. It's better than ever.

Dinsmore: Now is a great time for this to be released-- it was very unique music for that time period, and the world really needs a breath of fresh air in the form of a severe ass kicking!

--What does the future look like for Bl'ast! Are there plans for any reunion gigs to coincide with the "Blood" release?

Neider: Yeah, if all goes as planned, we want to release a new record and play shows and make it overseas, finally. We have yet to do that. Looking forward to playing some Bl'ast! will be up soon.

Here's what a few Bl'ast! friends have to say about the band:

-- "They were always a massive powerhouse, an intense wall of awesome noise." -- Woody Weatherman, COC

Andy, left, and Woody watching Bl'ast! in Chapel Hill, NC, in 1986. (Courtesy photo)

-- Scott Hill from Fu Manchu weighs in:

"From the minute I got Bl'ast! "It's in My Blood" back in 1987, I think I've listened to that record about 500 times or more. I love that record about as much as Bl'ast! "The Power of Expression," and anyone that knows me or Fu Manchu knows that those are two HUGE records that influenced me a lot!

I still watch this live show that me and a friend of mine videotaped of a Bl'ast! show at the Anti-Club in Hollywood, CA back in 1986 with the lineup on this record and it's insane! My first hardcore band, Virulence, got to open a show with Bl'ast! / Agent Orange in Santa Barbara, CA back in 1986 and it was still one of thee heaviest shows I've witnessed.

Sorry for the this record!!!!!"

-- Brian Walsby, artist/drummer:

"I still listen to Bl'ast! They were super cool guys and they certainly out-Flagged Black Flag on occasion. Loved the original five-piece version the best, but did see them with that ex-Neon Christ fellow "Kip" Duvall-- and you know what?... they were awesome. William was really good. It's a shame no one will ever hear all of the Neon Christ songs he had written before that band broke up. William is super talented and has always been a really cool guy. PS...Look up the footage of his and Mike Dean's brief band afterwards, the Final Offering."

Neider, Hill and Dinsmore. (Courtesy photo)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sub Pop Records' Silver Jubilee / Photo essay

Tad Doyle of Brothers of the Sonic Cloth ... and TAD. (All photos by Tim Harvey Pekar Clarke)

You can't watch 'em all.

We attended Sub Pop Records' 20th anniversary in 2008 at Marymoor Park in Redmond, WA and dug the sounds of Green River, Seaweed, Les Thugs, The Fluid, Mudhoney, Pissed Jeans, Kinski and more.

Cousin Eric's wedding ceremony alongside his bride Laura took top billing on July 13. We traded Seattle for Saratoga, CA and handed over the baton to our trusty photographer pal Tim Harvey Pekar Clarke for Sub Pop's Silver Jubilee in the Georgetown area.

Here's some evidence that he survived the pit and lived to guzzle more of his beloved 40-ounce beer bottles! Cheers, Tim... and Sub Pop.

J Mascis
Jack Endino's Earthworm
Mudhoney... one of three.

A closing note from Mr. Doyle, whose band was joined by TAD guitarist Gary Thorstensen.

Also on the bill were Built to Spill, METZ, Pissed Jeans, Father John Misty, Greg Dulli, Tom Price Desert Classic and more.