Saturday, May 31, 2014

Singing along with 7 Seconds

The crowd goes off to 7 Seconds in Seattle at Rainfest.

Andy: text -- Cat Rose: photos

As the guy in front reached up onstage and pulled the microphone stand down into the crowd last Saturday in Seattle, I couldn't help but smile, shake my head and sing along to myself while 7 Seconds ruled the night.

You see, I did the same thing about 32 years ago when I first saw the band play at Lazarro's Ballroom in Los Angeles alongside Social Distortion, Youth Brigade and SVDB.

While the Reno trio of Kevin Seconds, Steve Youth and Troy Mowat launched into "Racism Sucks," another punk and myself grabbed Youth's mic stand, lowered it to our mouths and sang every word with Seconds. Youth bent down to sing with us in spots and seemed to approve of our vocalizing -- and was OK with our "thievery." At age 15, that was a cool moment for me and I got some nods of approval from our crew. (Per usual, my brother Ed was in the 7 Seconds live photo from that gig in Flipside, just like he was in live pics with Minor Threat and in BAM magazine with the Bad Brains and Henry Rollins … so, I got my shot for once!)

7 Seconds has been through many changes, music-wise and personnel-wise, over the years and I've stuck with them the whole way. I told Seconds backstage in Seattle that Cat and I celebrate their whole catalogue (as said about Michael Bolton in "Office Space") and the singer laughed and gave us a thank-you clenched fist in the air.

The band's hardcore fare is always addicting -- as evidenced on the solid, inspirational new album "Leave a Light On" (Rise Records) -- but I'm a sucker for their more rock-styled tunes, as well. In fact, when my band Sorex played with 7 Seconds in 1985 in Sparks, Nev., I remember hearing "Catching" for the first time and being stoked on it. Same thing happened when they played "Leave a Light On" in Seattle with longtime guitarist Bobby Adams alongside the aforementioned trio. It's another non-stage-diving and calm-the-slam-pit-down song that has you humming along, but still floors you with just as much intensity as the hardcore anthems.

I've made friends and bonded with people over 7 Seconds tunes and lyrics ... and I've argued with people over the hardcore versus rock tunes. But in the end, we always agreed that 7 Seconds is a vital band -- and a formidable crew.

Steve Youth's tattoo on his left leg.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Bl'ast! and Destroy!

Bl'ast! off in Seattle: Clifford Dinsmore, top, and Mike Neider, below.

Andy: text -- Cat Rose: photos

It would be too easy to let the expletives fly when describing the two gigs Bl'ast! rampaged through in Seattle over the weekend.

Irish writer Roddy Doyle once told a crowd at a book reading in Palo Alto that if you're gonna cuss, don't overdo it because it gets old after awhile. Use it to your advantage by placing it in the right spots, making the reader really feel your emotion instead of slathering it all around and becoming predictable.

So, here you've got Bl'ast! vocalist Clifford Dinsmore, guitarist Mike Neider, bassist Nick Oliveri and drummer Joey Castillo really laying it on full bore ... just crushing it each night ... sweating profusely ... screaming to the hilt ... Bl'ast and Destroy!

Fuck yeah.

Nick Oliveri

Joey Castillo

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Catching up with San Jose's Ray Stevens II of The Faction, Los Olvidados, Drunk Injuns

Ray Stevens II with The Faction in San Jose on May 10. (All Chris Shary photos)
By Andy

Ray Stevens II: Solid player of bass, skater, upbeat and positive guy ... and DJ at my cousin Eric's wedding to bride Laura. If there was a King of San Jose, he'd surely be in line to grab the crown.

Not a bad resume, right?

This Saturday, Stevens will handle bass duties for THREE bands -- The Faction, Drunk Injuns and Los Olvidados --  at the Volume One Skate Punk Reunion at the Atomic in Las Vegas. Other groups on the bill are JFA, Minus One, Johnny Rad and the Eggplants and McRad.

On May 10, The Faction cranked up the tunes '80s-style for a reunion gig at the Blank Club in San Jose. We heard that the crowd ate it up and our man Chris Shary was on hand to capture the band with these here photos.

Following is a Q and A with Stevens, whom Cat and I know from back in our San Jose days before we took off for Seattle, where we caught The Faction and Los O at the Hey Punk! Fest in 2003. Stevens' other skate punk band Clay Wheels featured cousin Eric on drums and Jonny Manak on the six-string -- now that's a power trio.

Let the Q and A commence:

* What was it like playing with The Faction in the early days?

I was super stoked to play with all of the bands I have played with. The Faction had developed into a pretty good band by the time I joined and I would like to think I made them sound even better.

The Faction's Gavin O'Brien, top center, and skate dude/guitarist Steve Caballero, bottom.

* What were the guys like in the band back then?... describe the various personalities that made everything come together for the band live and the studio.

Stevie (Caballero) and Gavin (O'Brien) are awesome friends (as well as people in general) and the drummers were pretty much always cool to me. It was the lead guitarist that bummed us out to the point of breaking up. When we regrouped in the early 2000s, we made changes to make it easier to deal with. Things are better this time around, though.

* You've got some reunion shows these days... does the band seem just as vital now as it was back then? What's it like playing these tunes 30 years later? 

The sound remains the same. I love playing with those dudes and the songs still rule.

* You've been around music forever... what have you learned from being in bands? Does it ever get old?

To play like every time might be the last. Play better than the last time. Get Rad, Stay Rad! Music, to me, will never get old.

* Describe the recent SJ gig.

Sold out -- crazy packed. Real energy mixed with nostalgic emotion made for our best gig there.

The Faction's Adam "Bomb" Segal.
O'Brien with the wild SJ crowd.

* You've got Vegas on tap with the big skate show ... what are you looking forward to with that one? You'll be playing in three bands! Will you survive the evening? ha ha
I have played the same situation in Seattle, but I had to pick up my fingers from the hospital the next morning!! No, I am hella ready...Helen Reddy!! heheheh.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Mom and Peter Criss

By Andy

When I was in grade school in the mid-1970s, KISS was usually on the tip of my tongue whenever I talked rock with some of my classmates.

A handful of us at Our Lady of Guadalupe School (OLG) in Hermosa Beach, CA literally bowed down to the Catman, Starchild, Demon and Spaceman. On the playground and in the classroom, we spoke of everything KISS. One time, I told my buddy Tony that I saw KISS ... he shook his head in disbelief ... but I meant I checked out the band on the cover of "Alive!" the night before at Best Records in Redondo Beach.

My KISS obsession was so deep that I nearly dropped the cake I'd won at our Friday afternoon carnival because I was walking home so fast to watch the band on the Paul Lynde TV show that night. The show wasn't on until later that evening, but I had to get focused early. I know, dumb kid stuff, but it was a big deal then. My sister, Kristin, was a huge Catman fan, as well, when she wasn't digging on the Bay City Rollers guys.

So, would any of us have believed then that the Catman -- Peter Criss himself -- would someday make several appearances at our school? Hell no.

But it happened in the late-'80s -- no lie.

With my Mom teaching second grade at OLG, Criss' daughter, Jenilee, enrolled in her class. She was a good student, Mom recalled recently.

When Criss' wife at the time, Debra, swung by the school to meet with my Mom about Jenilee's progress, she mentioned that her husband was the Catman, the former drummer of our heroes, KISS.

"I asked her what her husband did, and she said he was in KISS," Mom said. "I said, 'Oh, yes, KISS, we're crazy about KISS!'"

Later that year, Mom finally got to meet Criss. He popped by OLG for a parents' meeting about his daughter. Mom said he was softspoken when they talked about Jenilee.

Mom doesn't remember if she ever mentioned KISS to Criss, but that's OK because she was having a one-on-one meeting with the Catman.

She saw him at school a few more times after that and went up to him and chatted for a bit.

It was either at an open house or a talent show when Mom spotted Criss sitting alone at the edge of the crowd. She went up to him, patted him on the shoulder and made him feel comfortable at old OLG.

Well done, Mom.

P.S. I bought Mom Criss' book "Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of KISS" for Christmas a few years ago. It's a good read, she says.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Zero Boys go all 'Vicious Circle' on us in Seattle ... the new 'Monkey' tunes are stellar, too

Paul Mahern of the Zero Boys.

Andy, text -- Cat Rose, all photos

You knew you were gonna get it.

Not just a few songs, but the whole damn thing.

I'm talking about the Zero Boys' crucial "Vicious Circle" LP in its entirety, mixed in with a smattering of thumping new tunes off the band's latest LP, "Monkey."

On Thursday night at Seattle's Chop Suey, singer Paul Mahern, drummer Mark Cutsinger, bassist Scott Kellogg and guitarist Dave Lawson plowed the crowd with one song after another, rarely giving any of us time to catch our breath. And it was good ... you've got the ZBs here, folks, and we can rest up later, right?

The band kicked things off with "Anti Breakdown" from the new album and threw down from there. As each "Vicious Circle" tune popped up, the crowd got more rowdy at the front of the stage. Those tunes still sound vital in my ears, 32 years after hearing them on record and at the legendary ZBs gig with the Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, MDC and the Detonators at Alpine Village in Torrance, CA. (I once wrote in a letter to Mahern that they blew Minor Threat away that night -- he thanked me and said he wasn't sure if they did. Oh, they did.)

While the "Vicious Circle" songs have clearly stood the test of time, Mahern told me afterward that he hopes the "Monkey" tunes will be on the tips of people's tongues in the future.

They fucking better be!

Mahern and Lawson

Cutsinger, top, and Kellogg, below

Cutsinger sings and Mahern drums on their cover of Magazine's "The Light Pours Out of Me"


Opener Deadkill's singer Bryan Krieger and bassist Michael Loftus. We got there late and missed The Lucky Boys -- another great Seattle band.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fu Manchu / Electric Citizen / Ancient Warlocks in Seattle

Fu Manchu's Scott Hill. (All Andy photos)

By Andy

Fu Manchu's ride was not so kind to the band during the opening round of its recent U.S. tour.

While driving to Reno, the Fu's longtime trusty van took a digger in Vacaville, CA. They canceled the Reno gig, headed back to San Francisco to grab a new van and they were off to Portland ... and then my gig of choice in Seattle on Sunday.

They're a resilient foursome -- touring and splitting rock fans' skulls for 25 years.

Fu Manchu was in fine form on Sunday, plowing through old faves like "Boogie Van," "King of the Road" and others alongside some hammering new tunes off its latest release, "Gigantoid."

They were accompanied by Cincinnati's Electric Citizen and Seattle's Ancient Warlocks, who both delivered some pounding rock for the hungry headbangers in the crowd. Electric Citizen -- on tour with Fu Manchu -- is the winner of the 2014 Cincinnati Entertainment Award in the rock category and they definitely held their own in our fair city.

It was a powerhouse lineup, for sure.

I took some tips from TSHIT chief photographer Cat Rose, who couldn't attend the gig, and handled behind-the-lens duties.


Bob Balch

Scott Reeder

Brad Davis


Laura Dolan and Nate Wagner


Anthony "Oni" Timm

Aaron Krause