Friday, April 9, 2021

Pezzati chats about new Naked Raygun album, band's history / Feature story

Jeff Pezzati lets loose during a Naked Raygun gig. Courtesy of MXV Photography. www.punkvinyl.com. 


By Andy

Jeff Pezzati probably wouldn't be surprised if a raccoon poked its head into the room while he was working on some new Naked Raygun tunes. 

Perhaps the scratching of claws could inspire a riff or two.

Yes, a far-fetched scenario, but in all seriousness, Pezzati's fiancee rehabilitates raccoons in their home nestled in the small farming community of Amboy, Illinois. The approximately 3,000-resident town sits two hours west of Chicago. 

"We bought a really old house. It's kind of statuesque. It's built before the Civil War and needs a lot of love and we're just fixing it up," he said over the phone at high noon on a recent Sunday. "We have a lot of animals always around," he reiterated.

At age 61, Pezzati has a couple of new songs knocking around in his head as he's in the process of moving his portable home studio into another room in their house. Set it up, crank it out, he added.

"I think as long as we have good new songs, it gets me excited again," said vocalist/songwriter Pezzati, whose longtime band will release a pair of 12-inch EPs before unleashing a fresh, full album, "Over the Overlords," on the revitalized Wax Trax! Records in June.

The songs within the grooves are culled from recordings from last year and reach as far back as 2016. The tunes are strong and well-thought out, said Pezzati, adding that the album was engineered and mixed by Steve Gillis and mastered by Ted Jensen, who worked on the Eagles' "Hotel California" album.

"The record actually sounds better than we can play. It's pretty frightening," Pezzati said.

One song penned by guitarist Bill Stephens, "Treat Me Unkind," is a stunner: "It's got harmonies on it that are just perfect -- we can't do them that well. It's just stinking perfect. It sounds like a machine or something," the singer added.

Pezzati said his poignant song "Suicide Bomb" features Aramaic singing: "That was the language of Jesus Christ. Kind of like hanging these notes and then hum and then we break off into some sort of like little chant thing. It's very different, very chant-ish, and in the background, it's kind of funny 'cause there's this girl singing 'Baby a-oooh' at the right times," he said with a laugh.

Former Naked Raygun bassist Pierre Kezdy, who passed away from cancer last year, wrote some songs and played on the album. One song that's included they used to call "Robert Mitchum Song," and now it features the title of "Soul Hole Baby."

Pezzati said that the band is pleased that Kezdy is represented on this album and it's crucial that they release it for him.

"He told us before he passed it was important that we get it out and we're doing our best to get it out. And the fact that he wrote a couple of songs for it is really great because he was such a great songwriter. He wrote 'Vanilla Blue' and he wrote 'Treason' by himself and he wrote 'Home' and some really great songs along the way," Pezzati said.

Naked Raygun, which hopes to play an album release show in June or July, performed an array of new and old songs recently for a livestream-only event at the House of Vans in Chicago. Pezzati said the band and his voice sounded rough during the eight-song set because their practice time/travel was hindered by ice storms, but they pulled it off. Dan Wleklinski from 88 Fingers Louie joined the band on second guitar on a few songs to put some extra roar in Raygun.

During COVID times, Pezzati, who was born in Chicago, released a five-song solo EP titled "Pezzati," which is available digitally on most formats. He's proud of the tunes he had kicking around for a long time and noted that "Make Me Whole" is one of his faves.

The current Raygun lineup features longtime drummer Eric Spicer and bassist Fritz Doreza. In recent years, Kezdy sometimes joined the band on stage while playing a "ba-tar," a bass/guitar mixture that Stephens constructed. It was difficult for Kezdy to move, but he played well, Pezzati said.

Kezdy was soft spoken, full of life, creative and easy to work with, Pezzati noted.

While playing a gig at Northern Illinois University, Pezzati said with a laugh that the usually mild-mannered Kezdy displayed a wild side. When the stage made of strapped-together folding tables started falling apart, someone ran into Kezdy while stage diving. The now-fumed bassist launched into the crowd after the guy and Pezzati thought the diver was toast. There was no brawl, and Pezzati thought the whole ordeal was kind of funny.

Pezzati's entrance into the rough-and-tumble punk world began with a gig featuring Chicago crazies Meaty Buys. He witnessed the Ramones early on, and Raygun ended up sharing a bill with them at the Aragon Ballroom in 1987. Along with those shows, bands like Cheap Trick, Rockpile, the Romantics and new-wave bands were on his concert list. 

Naked Raygun was hatched in 1980, when Pezzati's brother Marko formed the band with Santiago Durango. At that time, punk music was inspiring, exciting and dangerous, said Pezzati, noting that on more than one occasion, normal types would scream at him in the street and want to pick fights.

"So we knew we were doing something right, you know?" he said.

Pezzati got in on the Raygun action when he was invited to attend some practices and give his vocal cords a workout. He doesn't remember them having a drummer at the time of his entrance into their world, but the truncated band played on. Pezzati got the job, and they would soon find a new drummer as well.  

Durango was a songwriting machine, Pezzati recalls.

"Santiago was just so inspiring, he was so pumped about writing songs. He would write so many songs. He would change every song every time we came to practice. Something completely different -- he would call it the same name, though," Pezzati said. "He had a million songs up his sleeve and each one was better than the next one."

In 1983, the band released the "Basement Screams" EP and they were off and running.

By the time the "Throb Throb" album hit the scene in 1985, only Jeff Pezzati and bassist Camilo Gonzalez remained from the original lineup. John Haggerty, who honked some sax on "Swingo" on "Basement Screams," was now manning the guitar for the band with a crisp and crunchy Buzzcocks-like tone.

"'Throb Throb' was a great record, it's got some great songs on there, it's got 'Rat Patrol' and 'I Don't Know,'" Pezzati said. "I was told by a soundman that works at Cobra Lounge, not one week goes by where some band doesn't cover ('Rat Patrol') -- no matter what kind of music they play, even if they play like death metal or ska or whatever -- everybody plays 'Rat Patrol.' It's funny."

Durango was still present on the recording through songwriting credits on "Stupid" and "Only in America" (co-written with drummer Jim Colao).

When Raygun hit the road at that point, Pezzati recalls them often having to win over crowds that didn't have a clue who they were when the set kicked off. People especially went bonkers during a gig with Squirrel Bait in Kentucky, the singer said.  

Kezdy and Spicer came on board the Raygun express for "All Rise" in 1986. Pezzati penned eight of the 11 tunes -- including standouts "Peacemaker" and "Home of the Brave" -- as the band hit a solid groove and began garnering more attention. 

For "Jettison" in 1988, Raygun switched from Homestead Records for its first of three outings with Caroline Records. 

Sterling gigs during that timeframe were a New York rager with Primus, Bad Religion and others; and killer hometown shows at the Metro and the Cubby Bear. Later on, Raygun would pack in 3,000 people at the Riviera in Chicago. 

"We were just wanting to try and get our music out to as many people as possible that could hear it, that's what our drive was. If that meant bigger shows, that meant bigger shows. Some shows, we'd go out of town and play little shows," Pezzati said.

Now standing in front of larger crowds, Pezzati said he wasn't fazed at all while belting out song after song to the masses. 

"It was really natural. I'm not really affected by crowds like that. Doesn't matter. I can go out and play in front of anybody, million people or one person. And because I'm singing, you know, I've been there so many times it's just by rote, you know, it's just no problem -- I have this down," said Pezzati, noting that in high school he developed near-sightedness. 

"So everything's a little blurry out there. So past the first couple of people in the row, I can't see. I can see the person but I can't see their face necessarily. So it's kind of a nice blur. So it doesn't matter to me how many people are blurred," he added with a laugh.

When "Understand?" came around a year later, Pezzati felt the band was grasping for straws a bit while bringing those songs to life.

"I thought that were kind of niche writing at that point, kind of reaching for something we had written in the past and kind of trying to recreate that a little bit. And I think the album suffers a little bit because of that," he said.

However, with powerhouse songs like "Treason," "Hips Swingin'" and "Entrapment," that album is the band's top seller and Pezzati has royalty checks to prove it. "Hips Swingin'" makes an appearance in the 2018 movie "Tag," which is weird, but cool, he said.

With Stephens now on guitar after Haggerty left to form Pegboy in 1990, "Raygun...Naked Raygun" kicks open the door with Kezdy's "Home" and flows from there. Although Pezzati doesn't feel the engineer got a grasp of Stephens' big guitar sound on the album, the 11-song collection has grown on him over time. 

"Some people really like that album, they relate to that album more than the earlier ones," Pezzati said.

With "Over the Overlords" on deck along with those EPs, Naked Raygun will surely have fans stoked to sing along -- at home and in the crowd when it's safe to do so. 

Pezzati can't wait to once again deliver songs new and old to the Raygun faithful.



Naked Raygun songlist from when TSHIT saw them live at El Corazon in Seattle on Nov. 30, 2007.




Monday, March 1, 2021

Talking Toxic Reasons with Stuckey / Feature story

 

Bruce Stuckey hammers it out at TT the Bear's in Cambridge, MA on Dec. 27, 1985.
Photo by Rocco Cipollone for the cover of Al Quint's Suburban Voice #18.



By Andy 

All Bruce Stuckey could do was keep an eye on the guy who was bashing the shit out of the seat in front of him. 

"Aahhhhhh! Aahhhhh!" was what the Toxic Reasons guitarist/vocalist remembered the guy screaming, while the girl occupying that pummeled seat three rows from the front was probably wondering what the hell was happening.

All this went down during song No. 3 of the Toxics' opening set during an unlikely pairing with Echo and the Bunnymen in 1985 at a movie theater gig in Milwaukee, WI. The opening band canceled, the Toxics needed the dough, and they snagged the gig. 

Playing it safe at first, the Toxics rolled into the first two songs of their mellower "Within These Walls" album -- "Then Came the Rain" and "It's So Silly" -- before bursting into the raucous "No Pity" from the non-mellow "Kill By Remote Control" album. 

"And it was just like, 'You gotta be kidding me!' and everybody was just like staring aghast at us," Stuckey said of the gig packed with kids in the 15-17-year-old age range. But that one crazed kid who was murdering that seat was on board to the hilt.  

The Toxics' floodgate had cracked open with a vengeance and they unleashed a tidal wave of blistering tunes on the shocked crowd -- except that one guy, of course -- like "Mercenary," "Drunk and Disorderly," "Powercrazed" and more, but slowing it down a bit with the reggae-punk number, "Ghost Town." That was probably still too hot to handle for the teenyboppers.

Stuckey recalls now -- 36 years later from the confines of his home in Indianapolis, IN -- that a magazine review ragged on the Toxics and said it was insulting to have them open for Echo.

"Hooray, punk rock wins again!" said a proud Stuckey, now 61, who added that the band collected their $500 fee, ate Echo's food, drank their beer and more in the process. 

Just another wild night in the life of a band that kicked things off in 1979, telling Vancouver, BC's roughhousers DOA that they'd be ready to open for them the next time Joey Shithead and crew trekked to the Dayton, OH area -- home base for the soon-to-form Toxics.

After watching a compilation of funniest game-show moments on YouTube while relaxing on the couch with his two dogs on a recent Sunday afternoon, Stuckey grabbed his phone to talk Toxics. 

YouTube has been his friend as of late, and who knows, it may provide some lyrical ideas for the man who last strapped on his guitar alongside his fellow Toxics bandmates Tufty Clough (bass), JJ Pearson (drums) and Vess Ruhtenberg (guitar) about a year ago. They're itching to set up on stage and crank out some tunes, just like every other band in the universe who's had their instruments sidelined during the pandemic.

"I'll find a conspiracy theory and I'll just trace it down to its most absurd moment," Stuckey said of his YouTube-watching spree with his Shih Tzu Milhous and Chiweenie Gitmo. During the interview, one of the dogs leaps on top of Stuckey: "What is it buddy, what's the matter with you?" he playfully asks the canine.


Stuckey on a recent day with his guitars and albums. (Photo courtesy of Bruce Stuckey)

Guitars are also Stuckey's playmates, and he's got a load of them at his home in Indy, a city where he's rested his head since 1984, the year the Colts footballers moved there as well, he noted. Looking around the room, Stuckey counts six Gibson Les Pauls, an Ibanez, a Fender and more. His go-to guitar is a Chibson -- a Chinese forgery of a 1957 Les Paul -- that Clough bought for him.

Randomly, Stuckey peeks out the window and says that they accumulated about 10 inches of snow in three days, and his gutters have 6-foot-high icicles hanging off them.

Back to the matter at hand: Toxic frigging Reasons, right?

They were supposed to play the Rebellion Festival in Blackpool, UK, again in October after touring Europe, but the pandemic put a squash on that trip. Stuckey notes that he recently wrote a song for Clough to sing and sent the music and lyrics to the bassist and Pearson.  

"I've got at least two albums of material I've written over the last seven years. At least," said Stuckey, who notes that the Toxic Reasons records hanging on his wall each represent a different period of his life. There's eight studio albums and a batch of singles and EPs that fired out of the band's cannon.

"Honestly, I am happy with what I've done in the past. I would actually, honestly, like to make one more fucking record. I don't care if anybody gives a fuck, if they like it or not. As long as I like it and put it out, and actually tour it again. Maybe not the way we used to. I honestly don't think I could take that," he said with a laugh.

Bringing his Toxics journey full circle, Stuckey chuckles again when recalling a time two years ago when DOA crashed at his house and he gave up the bed and futons and slept on the hardwood floor. It reminded him of the old days when they would sleep anywhere they could find on their seemingly endless tours throughout America, the United Kingdom and other European countries. 

Stuckey's 59-year-old body was racked with pain when he woke up the next morning, but figured he owed it to Shithead, whose place they stayed at for many days back in 1980.

While DOA was one of the first bands Toxic Reasons played with, it was the Sex Pistols who kicked open the punk doors for Stuckey.

The guitarist cut his teeth in his first band, the hard- and soft-rockin' Exodus at the age of 15. Stuckey began playing guitar a year earlier, first on a Silvertone acoustic and then he entered electric land with a Crestwood green-and-black sunburst model. His initial goal was to play Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf," and then he upped the ante by playing eight hours a day on that Crestwood and Kingston amp, which his mom purchased for her son for painting the garage. He just wanted to make a racket at first, but then the Noise Boy improved his skills along the way.

Toxic Reasons came into play about five years later in 1979 when Stuckey and fellow guitarist Joel Agne -- who both became enthused by punk rock two years prior -- were ripping through their version of the Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen" when future vocalist Ed Pittman banged on the front door. Stuckey managed to make his way to the door with his guitar still strapped on and cord stretched to its limit.   

Stuckey cracked the door open and there was Pittman: "And he goes, 'God Save the Queen!' I said, 'Come on in!' He had a 12-pack of Stroh's under his arm."

Toxic Reasons began playing Clash covers and later started penning their own tunes, including "War Hero" and "Somebody Help Me," which were featured on the band's first single. Stuckey played bass on that 45 while Agne handled guitar duties. The single was birthed in 1980 because a Dayton radio station employee told the band they needed a record to snag some airplay. They spent $500 to make 500 copies, but that damn station still wouldn't give it a spin.

"I would be stunned, like 20 years later, being in Germany or something and somebody goes, 'Can you autograph this for me?' and I look at them and go, 'Where the fuck did you get this record?'" Stuckey said of the "War Hero" single, which has fetched its highest bidding price of $675 over the years, according to popsike.com, while the following year's "Ghost Town" EP (backed by "Killer" and "Noise Boys") has reached a top bid of $191.


Stuckey receives a beer blessing from Jello Biafra. (Photo courtesy of Bruce Stuckey)

After a ton of touring and experiencing tortuous times -- Stuckey was homeless, the band slept on whatever floors they could find and they were jailed for a bit for working illegally in Calgary, Canada -- the Toxics released the "Independence" album in 1982 with Zero Boys vocalist Paul Mahern and John Helms handling engineering duties and Terry Hammer and the Toxics producing. 

Mahern would lend his studio expertise in the engineering and producing realms to four more Toxics albums. Speaking of the ZBs, their bassist Clough eventually joined the Toxics' ranks, as did guitarist Terry Howe and drummer Mark Cutsinger for a spell. In fact, the ultimate ZBs/Toxics conglomeration was when Clough, Howe and Custinger played on one song, "It's a Lie," on the "Bullets for You" album.

When "Independence" hit record-store shelves -- I bought my copy at Zed Records in Long Beach, CA, when it was released -- Stuckey liked what they unleashed to the punk scene. The songs still hold up in today's world.

"Oh, I like them. I mean writing songs is what I always like doing... Honestly, I've never been a very good guitar player. I like to work really hard and do really simple things. All the songs on that record are really good," said Stuckey, noting that the songs are a half step out of tune because they didn't have a guitar tuner.

Following Pittman's departure from the now-San Francisco-located band in 1984 to join his girlfriend back in Dayton, Stuckey stepped up to the microphone for the "Kill By Remote Control" album and every platter since then. During this time, bassist Clough joined, which also featured Pearson and Rob Lucjak on guitar (he was part of the band for the "Independence," "Kill By Remote Control" and "Within These Walls" years).

Stuckey had evolved as a songwriter and the songs were more demanding this time out (Clough and Lucjak were writing as well). Becoming the singer was tough for Stuckey at first and he referenced the band's performance on Target Video: "That is a terrified young man who's only sang maybe once or twice in his life in front of people -- and this place is packed and they're going fucking apeshit."

Clough -- who also sang on some tunes -- became a crucial cog to the Toxics' wheel when he stepped into the fold.

"When he started playing, I was like going, 'Oh, this is how you're supposed to play bass, Oh, I get it,'" said Stuckey, noting that he felt the Zero Boys with Clough smoked the Toxics when they played on the same bills. 

If "Kill By Remote Control" was an evolution in the band's sound, "Within These Walls" turned the screw in full melodic mode for one album. Stuckey felt he penned some of this best lyrics on that album and pieced chord textures together well. However, the punks didn't dig it, and Stuckey recalls having only "Within These Walls" merchandise left at the end of one massive gig. Kids swooped on the "Independence" and "Kill By Remote Control" merch and left album No. 3 lonely at the table.

The Toxics toured the hell out of that album and every one that has come forth from their sturdy hands. They experienced good times, tough times and non-eating times. But they've survived while raising the punk flag all the while. They're fucking warriors. And the band was truly an international unit, with members from the US, Canada, UK and Italy over the years.

The back-cover photo of "Within These Walls" shows four guys looking a bit ragged, but Stuckey remembers them feeling fine at that point in 1985, probably a few months away from that intriguing Echo gig.

"After a while, you get used to sleeping sitting up, sleeping on floors, sleeping on a stage, sleeping on a concrete floor. I couldn't do it now because I'm fucking 61 years old," Stuckey said.

One more album, though, that's all he wants. And some touring ... but give the man a bed this time.


Toxics on  tour in the 1980s. From left to right, Pearson, Clough, Stuckey and Lucjak. (Photo courtesy of Bruce Stuckey)

Monday, February 15, 2021

Photo flashback: Eyehategod and friends / Cat Rose

Eyehategod. (All Cat Rose photos)



Since gigs have been a bust for nearly a year, we're digging into the TSHIT archives for mostly unseen Cat Rose photos of this blockbuster bill from 2019 in Seattle. #wemissshows

How many screamers can you take ramming their lyrics into your face in one night?

Correct answer: Six.

That was the scene at El Corazon in Seattle on Oct. 23 when Eyehategod, Negative Approach, Sheer Terror, Final Conflict, Accused A.D. and Heiress invaded the stage and absolutely pummeled the Wednesday night crowd. The ears were not happy while toiling away at the job the following day, and the voice was hoarse as shit from yelling along. BUT it was fucking worth it! You CANNOT pass up on a powerhouse bill like that, even on a work night.

Cat Rose owned the front row while taking photos and here's her offerings from the evening:


EYEHATEGOD














NEGATIVE APPROACH






SHEER TERROR












FINAL CONFLICT










ACCUSED A.D.










HEIRESS




Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Gunner plays it heavy with End of Hope / Feature story

 

Vocalist Davey Gunner leads End of Hope through a set. (Photo by Joe Bottari)




By Andy

When he first heard the band name, Davey Gunner was immediately on board.

No full songs were written. No lyrics were penned. The moniker End of Hope was in the air and entrenched in Gunner's mind -- and it was fucking go time.

"I guess, because in a lot of ways, I'm a pessimist. You know, gloom and doom sort of, I guess gives me my fuel. So I heard that, I was like, 'That just nails it, you know?' But in the same sense, you got to have hope -- that's the one thing that keeps you going," said the 55-year-old former Kraut vocalist over the phone from his home in Astoria, New York on a recent evening.

End of Hope is the brainchild of guitarist Ken Wohlrob, who fired the band name and musical style off to Gunner in the summer of 2017 while they tossed back their drinks after watching a gig at the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn. 

Gunner continued with enthusiasm: "He said to me, 'Listen, I got this great idea. This is what I want to do. I want to make (a) cross pollination of like Black Flag meets Motorhead." He wanted Gunner on vocals, and they entered the studio within two weeks with bassist Davis Schlachter and drummer Dave Richman.

Wohlrob -- who also slings his guitar in doom metal band Eternal Black -- presented parts of 2-3 songs during that first session and Gunner came armed with lyrics typed into his phone.

"That's the new way. I used to write 'em in a book with a pen," laughed Gunner, adding that now everything's spelled correctly and he doesn't have to battle to read what he scrawled onto the page. "You know, not like 'Seinfeld' -- 'What's this, Clippers 119, Lakers 109?'"

Soon, they began writing songs with a fury and had a full 10-song set ready to unleash on crowds.

"Everything's been going great. We've been really fortunate," said Gunner, noting that End of Hope banged out 25 gigs before the pandemic hit.

"Everybody just took a liking to the sound. I think we created something a little bit different because of his background and the way he writes. And then the way I come in and I interpret the songs as I'm singing them. I sing punk, and he's not writing a punk song. He's writing just something, whatever it is, just heavy."


Gunner. (Photo by Dan Long, danlongphoto.com)


In an old Flipside interview, guitarist Doug Holland described Kraut as a "punk rock hardcore rock and roll band."

"I would say End of Hope is a punk metal band, to be honest with you," said Gunner, echoing Holland's sentiment that it's all rock and roll to him, even though Kraut was part of the original 1981 hardcore movement. They could slow it down or speed it up on stage or even on MTV via the "All Twisted" video. 

"People would say, 'Oh, Kraut, you're a punk band or you're a hardcore band.' (Holland) would be like, 'We're just a rock and roll band.' That's Doug Holland. And he's right, it's just all straight rock and roll. And the guy grew up on the Beatles and T. Rex, this guy, and Mountain, so he's a great songwriter, Doug Holland."

Nowadays, Gunner is stoked with what End of Hope is knocking through the speakers on its "Cease and Destroy" CD and limited green vinyl release on Chain Reaction Records. For order information, visit https://endofhope.bandcamp.com/

"It just came out very organic and very cool," Gunner said. He noted that they don't want to bum anybody out with the band's name, adding that there is some sarcasm slithering between those three words. When people delve into the music, it will all make sense as there's a theme running through the songs, he said.

Gunner recites the opening line of the band's namesake scorcher: "It's so hard to survive. We call this being alive. There is so much divide. Now we're just choosing sides. End of Hope. Stretch the skin."

"I think everybody feels that way -- unfortunately. And then this happened (pandemic). You saw the shirts we put out. We printed those shirts with the gas masks and everything before this happened. We just nailed it. And the whole concept of the album, I think. It's almost like this band has been right on top and topical right from the beginning. We've just been charmed," he said.






During the pandemic, Gunner and his bandmates are missing invading the stage and expressing themselves and releasing their pent-up energy. However, End of Hope recently added five new songs plus a cover of Motorhead's "Iron Fist" to its recorded resume. They also have a tune, "Nothing to See Here," coming out on Drew Stone's A7 compilation "Back to the NYHC Roots."

Gunner, who is married and has a 7-year-old daughter, said his wife digs his music while his youngster leans more toward the pop side of the music realm. No rock and roll -- yet -- but his daughter is proud of dad.

"My daughter told me before, I asked her about it: 'So when Andy calls me, what do you want to say?' And she's 7 and she said, 'Well, I think it's really awesome that you're a rock star.' I said, 'OK, I'll tell him that.' So that's what she thinks, so that's cool," Gunner said with a laugh.

Gunner's life behind the microphone in a live setting began at the age of 17 when Kraut opened for The Clash at Bonds International Casino in New York City in the summer of 1981.

At age 55, Gunner is still roaring away like he did when Holland, Don Cowan and Johnny Feedback were in his Kraut crew.

"Well, I got to be honest, it's something I've always done. So it seems very second nature to me. And I love it," said the man who now sports longer hair and a beard, which he says is a good fit these days. "I'm a different person, but I'm the same musically. I haven't changed a bit in the way I feel. I feel like the same I was when I was 17 as far as the things that affect me in everyday life. And what I want to write about, what inspires me."

On the lyrical side of the equation, the End of Hope vocalist noted that his friends say, "No Joe Strummer, no Dave Gunner." It's the truth, he said, adding that Strummer inspired the New Yorker with his social and political commentaries. That style has stuck with Gunner since day one until now.

"I hate corruption. I get just pissed off at politicians and the way things are done," he said. 

He added that humans and their hypocrisy also spark his interest in the lyrics department: "That's what drives me. Every day when I see it -- it gives me fuel. Why another person would ever have the nerve to point fingers and judge another person, I find it fascinating and ironic. Because the person that's doing that usually is the person that's doing something creepy or wrong."


End of Hope in full rage mode. (Photo by Dan Long, danlongphoto.com)


Looking back on his life and music career, Gunner has developed a patience that he didn't possess in his younger days, and he doesn't stress out over the little things that might not be meant to happen. His writing has been a constant companion to guide him along life's path.

"I don't have any complaints. I mean, you know, some would be right to say that I got shortchanged when Doug left to join the Cro-Mags. So fate would have been different if Doug didn't leave Kraut, which was the band he started," Gunner said.

"So it really doesn't make any sense. Some can say that. But then on the other hand, it's like just to have the opportunity to even get to do all those things, you know, have the record out ("An Adjustment to Society") so soon and be sort of like a pioneer and then be on MTV and have all the opportunities to play with The Clash and all the great bands from California," he added.

Gunner said that being in Kraut paved the way to where he stands now -- with his feet firmly entrenched in End of Hope territory. It's a journey, and he's learned copious crucial lessons while logging his 10,000 hours, he added.

Persistence is perhaps the most vital aspect of Gunner's life as he straddles the midpoint of age 50 and 60, all the while eyeing the future.

"It wasn't easy because I had to reinvent myself. I mean, I could have played hardcore, if that's really what I felt like I had in my heart that I wanted to do," he said. "And that would have been easier to play, just a hardcore band. I could still play balls lightning, I can still sing that way, that's not the issue. It's just that 'whacka, whacka, whacka, whacka, whacka,' I don't wanna play that.

"I want to play stuff that has a little bit of a groove to it, a little bit of a change -- and I love heaviness."





Monday, January 25, 2021

'Something Better Change': New DOA, Keithley documentary in the works

Joey "Shithead" Keithley in Seattle. (All Cat Rose photos)




By TSHIT staff


We've seen Joey "Shithead" Keithley do it all.

From playing a toilet-seat guitar, to swinging a chainsaw on stage, to banging out tunes on an acoustic six-stringer in a bookstore.

In London, we saw the mighty DOA share the stage with Rudimentary Peni in 1993. In Los Angeles, there were gigs with Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Bad Brains and more in '81 and '82. In Seattle, they paired up with the Fastbacks for a rousing gig in '13. Those are just a handful of our DOA live experiences and we hope to add some more notches to our Shithead belt in the future.

You're always guaranteed a rollicking good time with DOA as they belt out the classics, like "Fucked Up Baby," "The Prisoner," "Smash the State," "General Strike," "Slumlord" and countless others, along with later songs, like "Marijuana Motherfucker" and "Just Say No to the WTO."

When Keithley cocks his head, hand-points, snarls and does a kick-spin with his old-reliable Gibson SG in hand, it's a blast. 

Thankfully, the Burnaby, BC, Canada, man and his band will now be the subject of a documentary, "Something Better Change," which is in the hands of lauded filmmaker Scott Crawford ("Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC” and “CREEM: America’s Only Rock’n’Roll Magazine). Crawford will direct and team up with producer Paul Rachman (director of “American Hardcore” and co-founder of Slamdance Film Festival).

"Punk is actually a really progressive, like a really great force that could help change the world," Keithley said in the doc's trailer. 

The 64-year-old added that people laughed at DOA when the Vancouver punks began kicking up a racket in 1978. Well, fuck the naysayers: DOA has always let its music and voices be heard while standing strong in its fight against racism, greed, war and sexism.

Keithley took DOA's slogan of "Talk-Action=0" into the political realm and narrowly won a seat on the Burnaby City Council in '18. The Burnaby Green Party member emerged victorious -- by just 215 votes -- along with seven other councillors who were all members of the Burnaby Citizens Association. Once again, Keithley stood out from the crowd in true punk fashion.

He ran for council because he believes in grassroots democracy where people have a say and input into what's going on, Keithley said in the trailer. The filmmakers tagged along with Keithley as he served on council, and they, of course, picked his brain about his DOA journey.  

On Jan. 21, they launched a Kickstarter campaign at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cra/something-better-change?ref=7fjt19&token=94384e72&fbclid=IwAR23GRkmLlqEHyLc966bZDrPsWUgEG8TOjuKtj5GiUY1hbrHSENtoJvtEI8

Below are some excerpts from our interview with Keithley in '13, who at the time was continuing his campaign for a spot with the BC New Democrats. He was running to be a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), which is similar to a U.S. state congressman. He lost that nomination, but kept rolling with both DOA and his political aspirations. After an unsuccessful run for provincial office as part of the BC Green Party in the Burnaby-Lougheed riding in '17, he still kept plugging away.

You clearly can't keep a good man down, and Keithley finally bulldozed through the council doors three years ago.


-- How has being in a band all these years prepared you to jump into the political realm. Was it a good learning experience, a natural progression type thing?

Well, it made sense. People in Canada, and I think people in North America and in Europe somewhat know DOA for a political stance-- I'd really call it being a social activist. You know, kind of fighting for people power, that's kind of what I call it. So with people in BC, I'm really well known here, so it isn't like a big leap to do that, so it kind of fits because I've been kind of working on helping people with stuff, trying to help the regular person all my life. I guess another thing, too, is when I was 18, I went to university to become a civil-rights lawyer. Then DOA started, and obviously I never got my law degree (laughs) ... that goes without saying, right?


-- So is that when you first started getting interested in politics? When did it strike a chord with you?

It was actually when I was 16, Greenpeace organized this protest against testing of nuclear weapons by the U.S. military, and what was happening in the Amchitka islands, which are part of the Aleutian Islands chain of Alaska ... underground testing of nuclear bombs. So, Greenpeace urged all these kids in high school here, in different areas, to leave their school and march downtown Vancouver where the American consulate was and march around and protest. We did, we left the school, the principal tried to stop us with his arms across, trying to physically block us. That didn't work, obviously, and about a thousand of us marched downtown. An interesting thing about that was Dimwit -- rest his soul, my old drummer, who drummed in The Subhumans, The Pointed Sticks and The Four Horsemen -- he brought a bass drum that day, so he was at the head of the parade with his bass drum, beating as the students moved along toward the consulate.


-- If you could look into a crystal ball, how do you envision your future?

Ahhhh... (laughs) ... I wish I could look into a crystal ball. You just gotta keep trying to do what you think is right in life and carry on the best way you can, that's really the only philosophy I've really got is that you've got to believe in yourself and be positive.





Tuesday, January 12, 2021

10 years of interviews: From DOA to Girlschool and beyond

Joey Shithead of DOA (Cat Rose photo)



Kim McAuliffe of Girlschool. (Cat Rose photo)



By Andy

Interviews are always a journey. You step into the conversations armed with your usual knowledge and questions, but you still never know where things will twist and turn along the path. You just settle in for the ride and listen, but also guide the discussions to a spot where you'll hopefully be offered some key insight. When that occurs, it's a victory for you and the readers. Maybe the interviewees will delve into something that they didn't expect to touch upon and come away from the experience enlightened as well.

Here's some quotes from our interviews from 2011-2020:

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2020

Suzi Quatro on advice for up-and-coming musicians:

First of all, this is not a business for the faint-hearted, it's a hard business. You have to be so focused. It's not sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll -- it's being a professional. If you can't be that, then don't get in the business. Go join a hippie commune or go get stoned somewhere, but don't litter the tracks. And if you're gonna play an instrument, make sure you play it, learn it. You should learn properly at least one instrument. I know two that I read and write and play, which is percussion and piano. I play classical piano, taught myself bass, but once you've learned piano you can learn anything -- it's kind of like your orchestra. If you're on the stage, leave your ego there, 'cause that's where it belongs.


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2019

Brendan Canty on drumming in the Messthetics:

Yeah, well most of it is just about communicating, right? If you're in a moment, if there's non-verbal musical communication, and so Wayne is great at it, Bob Mould's great at it. And Anthony is fucking great at it, so is Joe. So being able to do stuff on the fly, very fluidly. In Messthetics, we've been able to come up with things very quickly (snaps his fingers) and that's a real key -- not just the writing, but you can improvise together. Everybody's excited about it equally, everybody (has) a different but equal job to do in that band. And that makes it really balanced and lovely. So yeah, it's been nice. I really cherish this group for that reason.


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2018

Andy Cairns of Therapy? on writing lyrics:

I've got a certain way of writing and what I do is I write constantly. I've got two or three notebooks and I've got notes on my phone that I write. For example, we finished the album, as I mentioned, just last week, it's all done. So I've started writing other things again. For example, when we go in to do the next record, I'll have maybe, say, a year's worth of little notes, material, songs, song titles and things. And then we decide what the theme of the record's gonna be, so I'll look through all my notes and lyrics and find out what's relevant, and put the rest to one side. And then once we record them, I take every single piece of note that's in my phone, and I delete it and then I get all the booklets and the books and the notebooks and papers that I've written over the last year on one of the new albums and then I throw that in the trashcan. And that's the most cathartic moment, 'cause I know that I can move on to something else. That's done, it's almost symbolic.


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2017

John Haggerty of Pegboy on his guitaristry:

To this day, I try to practice every day and there's really no substitute for it. Some people have more aptitude towards it, but I think in the end, how good you are is directly proportional to how much you practice. I hope that I'm a better guitar player every day -- I try to be. There's always something new to learn. It's really a wonderful instrument in that you can play it all your life and still not know everything. It's always a challenge and it's always fun.


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2016

Brian Baker on playing with Dag Nasty:

Simple is best. That's the thing, the whole excitement for me is being in a hardcore band and doing things (that way). I'm incredibly nostalgic for what I remember as everything being a great time, which of course back then was not true. But now I'm old, so I think, 'Oh it was just this fantastic (thing), everything was so cool. It's so effortless.' So we're trying to just do all the good stuff.


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2015

Kim McAuliffe on playing with Girlschool:

You don't really think about it, you just do it. It's fun -- and what else would we do? Funny enough, when I was having to write for the new album, yeah, I'd be sitting out in the garden going through stuff. We didn't get anything (inspiration) from the trees or anything. I'm not that hippy-ish.


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2014

Carrie Akre of Hammerbox/Goodness on developing her voice:

(Mrs. Woolridge) had us do training. She had you really think about what can you do with that voice of yours? 'Here's what we can get out of it' or 'here's how you sing this song.' A lot of choir parts can be really difficult: it's breath, it's tone, it's projecting, it's how do you make those notes and how do you come up and high and down and all over the place?


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2013

Joey Shithead on DOA's longevity:

DOA is really held together all these years by many rolls of gaffe tape (laughter). It's really a political philosophy, I guess. One of the big things about DOA, there always had to be a sense of camaraderie, being friends with the other people in the band. My philosophy really is just to get up there and try and enact change. One that I really take as my example is one of my heroes would be Pete Seeger. That guy has been going at for a good 70 years doing great things for people from being an activist, to being a great songwriter, to teaching people music, reviving folk music at various times. Just doing a lot of really, really cool stuff with his voice and his banjo and his ability. So if I can end up doing a quarter of what he did, I think I'd be doing really, really well.


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2012

Ian MacKaye on his career:

I don't think, 'Wow, I've really accomplished so much' or, 'Wow, I've really affected culture' (laughs). I just can't think like that, because my work is always in front of me. I think at the time, all we were doing was putting out those singles, because that's what was in front of us. And now I'm trying to finish this record with Amy and work on the archives stuff. It's what's in front of me. I just do the work, that's all I've ever done.


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2011

Franz Stahl on the dynamic when rocking out with his brother Pete in Scream:

I don't think about it too much, it seems like it's always there. It can be really heady sometimes with my brother. Our relationship is a lot different than with the other guys. The other guys are your wives -- your brother is your brother.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Quotes of Note for 2020

Alice Bag revs it up in Seattle in March 2020. (Cat Rose photo)




We honestly didn't think we'd get much out of 2020, but we did manage to nail down some interviews and write a bunch of stories for this here blog. We're fucking 10 years old! We made it and we hope to continue the ride for a while (10 more? Let's see, shall we?).

We wish you all a happy new year, and thanks for reading TSHIT. Cheers!

Here's some of our quotes of note from 2020:


Alice Bag:

The album is called "Sister Dynamite." "Sister Dynamite" was inspired by a group of women that I'm working with called Turn It Up, it's an organization of women who are all somehow involved in music, but it's to support each other, to help amplify the voices of women in music. Just getting together and talking about issues that they faced in the past and talking about brainstorming solutions, really made me feel like it was a time of change and that we were gonna create that change. And then I was also inspired by the women who took over the House of Representatives, and I was inspired by the vision of them walking in in their suffragette white suits. It was inspiring for me and I wanna see more of it and I feel like change is on the horizon. So "Sister Dynamite" is this character, this super hero that exists in my imagination, just comes and like is just not gonna put up with being put down anymore.


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Suzi Quatro:

I have a little theory that I live by my whole life. Let's say you're upset with somebody else about something and you're reluctant to say it and they're reluctant to say it. It's so funny... you stick it on the table, 'Boom, there it is.' You know, it loses it's power because nothing is that important. It's such an important lesson to learn. I've never been afraid of the truth, and I've been a walk-through-the-fire kind of girl my whole life. 'There's the fire. OK, I'm gonna go through it. I know it's gonna burn me, but I will come out the other side.'


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Joe Nolte, The Last:

That's been the goal since I started playing guitar in 1967. And that remains, I want my music to live on and to be heard and enjoyed by as many people on the planet as possible. And they can call it what you want because you gotta figure that I'd written like about 30 songs for The Last before the Sex Pistols released their first single, and, of course, "Anarchy" was the obvious signpost. "Anarchy" was pointing the way where everything was going to have to go, it was just such a brilliant record. But I already had my own take on punk rock, which decidedly was somewhat different and had a much stronger pop element and keyboards. Back in the day, we weren't just, "Yeah, they're a pop band, but they play with the urgency of punk rock," ... no.


Joe Nolte leads The Last through a gig about four years ago. (Elise Thompson photo)



---------------------------------

Sean Elliott, Professor and the Madman:

I'm a believer in the album revealing itself eventually. We're working on it and moving forward and sometimes we don't know what's going to come out of it. So as far as what were we thinking, we didn't, it was just instinct to do it and see what happens.


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John Haggerty, Pegboy, on Pierre Kezdy (RIP):

Besides being a great player and a brilliant songwriter, he was a lot of fun to be in a band with. He had a great sense of humor and would give you the shirt off of his back, without hesitation. He was a great card player and could drive massive distances without a break. He could do an interview in the afternoon, play a show at night, load gear like a longshoreman then drive us safely back to the hotel. He was the MVP of our band and one of my favorite people in the world.


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Keith Morris on the Circle Jerks' beginnings:

When we first started, our situation had us skipping out on the learning to crawl and walking bits and going directly to a swift paced run. Everything was moving fast and we didn't have time to dwell upon the events that were happening to us. The CJs were just going for it! 


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Ceasar Viscarra, Stains, about an epic gig with Black Flag, FEAR, Caustic Cause and Youth Gone Mad on Sept. 11, 1981 at Devonshire Downs in Northridge, CA:

I remember just looking out, 'cause the stage was probably 5 1/2-foot height, I remember being able to look at the very back of the auditorium and seeing people as far as I could see, and just the mosh pit while we were playing was ... it seemed to me like it was a half of the audience. Right in front of the stage, there was just so many people moving in a circle. It was crazy.


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Palmyra Delran, DJ on "Little Steven's Underground Garage" on Siriusxm:

Within my Trash Pop Treasure, I try to hit my favorite types of music. I do a lot of power pop because there's a lot of power pop bands that are like, 'Who the hell is that?' Like I just played The Miamis last week and it was like, 'Only New York people remember those  guys,' you know what I mean?


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Amy Farina, Coriky, on her band's music:

I hope it brings something to somebody somewhere, (that) would be really amazing. I feel just lucky to have been able to make some music. I guess it's all pretty surreal. I think when I was younger and I was in bands, everything was so immediate -- you know, you write a song and you play it for your friends or you play a house party. The energy was instant, and it's not that way now. For us, it's really, we do a lot of toiling by ourselves and it's hard to know if it's even music, it's hard to know what it sounds like or what effect it has.


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Jon Wurster, on drumming for the Bob Mould band:

The great thing about playing with Bob is, because it's so intense and it's so physical, I had to train to tour. So I'm already in good shape to tour, and then the touring is just like an Ironman challenge. So by the end of that, I'm in the best shape of my life. Luckily we do it fairly often, so I have to maintain my health, which is a great byproduct of the gig.


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Barry Henssler, Necros:

It wasn't like we had career aspirations, it was just we wanted to be able to travel and get gas and a place to stay and maybe food, enough for that day. It wasn't like there's bags of gold at each stop just waiting for you to pick 'em up (laughter)... You're playing some shithole in Tucson, right?


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DJ Bonebrake, X:

I'm proud of everything we've done. Some records are are better than others, some shows were better than others, but overall I think our percentage is pretty good. We've all had our lows personally and artistically but I'd rather think about the highs. I think the string of albums at the beginning of our career were definitely in the high-point category. Also, I think our live shows over the years, although always inspired and intense, have improved. I think we're better now than we were 40 years ago.


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Steven McDonald, Redd Kross, on recording the band's debut EP:

I was going for it. I'm sure I probably had a little bit of insecurity, but also just was like empowered by my youth. Also I had my brother encouraging me, and Jeff was like, 'Amazing! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!' He loved my high screaming voice (laughs), and he's always encouraged me to approach the nether realms of my capabilities. To reach far beyond what I should be reaching for, particularly in a high vocal range.


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Jeff McDonald, Redd Kross, on the band's beginnings and their parents' reaction:

We were very serious about (the band), and they were OK, they were reasonably supportive. We didn't have these aspirations of a career in music, we just were doing things in the moment. They were cool, but we didn't really want them coming to any of our shows, 'cause we were horrified if they saw some of the conditions that we were playing in that it would be shut down, and rightfully so. We had a few friends that were older like Keith Morris and my friend Ella who drove, so they were OK with those people being kind of chaperones, but what would they know? (laughs)


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Matt Gentling on Archers of Loaf's musical style(s):

There's a lot going on. There's a good bit of dissonance in there and stuff. Structurally, I guess, it's pop music, but it's pretty obscured by all kinds of stuff going on and intentionally weird... We weren't trying to be pretentious or anything, it was just sort of, you get engaged and you wanna throw the kitchen sink at every idea.