Monday, October 14, 2019

Completing my UFO ride with Last Orders tour in Las Vegas

Andy photo in Las Vegas


By Andy

I thought I was going to die at a UFO show.

It was 1986 and my favorite rock band was rolling through its set at Fender's International Ballroom in Long Beach, CA, during its "Misdemeanor" tour.

I don't remember the exact song, but vocalist extraordinaire Phil Mogg and his gang were shredding, probably on one of their mammoth tunes I first latched onto in the 1970s. I recall the crowd being mellow up until this point, but all of a sudden things packed in tight up front where I was situated.

A row of lunchroom-type tables separated the band from the crowd, and I was soon pinned against one of the tables while the band rocked on. My body then twisted around and I was facing the crowd once behind me as the table flipped and landed on top of me. I was petrified, and for a few seconds I thought I was a goner. It happened so quickly, so the band didn't have time to witness the scenario or react. Suddenly, a plethora of hands grabbed at me and lifted me to safety and I was back on my feet again.

I was shaking. I was alive. And I got the fuck out of the front. I watched the rest of the show near the side of the stage and knew I had yet another gnarly concert story to tell one day.

That was UFO show No. 2 for me. No. 1 was seven years earlier at the epic Califfornia World Music Festival at the Los Angeles Coliseum, and that story will come later.

As the years wore on, I ticked off two more UFO shows with Cat in tow -- the 1995 reunion with Michael Schenker at the Edge in Palo Alto, CA, and a solid gig sometime in the 2000s at El Corazon in Seattle, WA, with our friends Zero Down.

When the 2019 Last Orders 50th anniversary USA shows were announced, I knew this would be my last chance to witness the band live and I needed one more notch on my UFO concert list to complete my five-decade run. We were going to hit up one of the shows, for sure. Since they weren't playing in our city of Seattle or nearby Portland, Cat and I nailed down tickets -- with five of our good friends -- for the Las Vegas House of Blues show on Oct. 11.

When Cat and I met up with Linda, Kevin, Erin, Sun Min and Francisco at the Excalibur hotel nearly five hours before opener Armored Saint took the stage, we knew we had something special in store for the evening.

While we reminisced about all of our wild adventures over the years, we journeyed toward the House of Blues and couldn't wait for UFO's first chords to ring out and Mogg to unleash his vocals that have been ingrained in our ears for what seems like forever. You know you're in a good place when Mogg lets go and sings his guts out.

Finally, the Last Orders bell rang on stage and we were off and running.

From opener "Mother Mary" to closer "Doctor Doctor," UFO were on point and gave us a night for the ages. I was especially stoked that they included more obscure songs like "Cherry," "Venus," "Makin' Moves" and "Fighting Man" in the set along with the unforgettable favorites. "Only You Can Rock Me" kicks me in the midsection every time and "Love to Love" stands as the band's ultimate amalgamation of the various musical styles they've shot fans' way over the last 50 years.


From the TSHIT archives.


During my live moments with UFO, I've seen Mogg hold down the vocal spot, of course, along with approximately four different guitarists and drummers, three bassists and two guys on guitar/keyboards. Insane!

When I first witnessed the band live in 1979 with my dad at the LA Coliseum, I was a wide-eyed early teen who had just won tickets to the show on the radio. It was my first rock concert, and I'll never forget walking into the place while Eddie Money sang "Two Tickets to Paradise." Then came Cheech and Chong wearing pink tutus, followed by UFO -- minus Schenker (damn!) -- who tore it up as a fan waved the best homemade sign of the day: "UFO kicks ass!" 

Van Halen and Aerosmith rocked out afterward, completing a solid day for a kid who played a Little League game that morning and then attended the big rock show into the night.

I would finally get to see Schenker manhandle his six-string in 1995 in Palo Alto, and it was everything I hoped for as I treaded along my rock 'n roll path. Metallica's James Hetfield stood nearby Cat and I at that gig and he looked just as stoked as we did. Linda and Kevin were there, too, and that made it even more special that we got to share our most recent UFO happening with them and our other pals.

Rock on!












Thanks to Francisco Ortiz for the videos.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

RIP, Kim Shattuck



Kim Shattuck in 2014. (All Cat Rose photos)


The following story appeared on this blog on July 13, 2014 and we are reposting it in honor of Kim Shattuck, who passed away today at age 56 due to complications from ALS. This interview simply rocked -- it was funny, insightful and honest. 

Also included are Cat Rose's unseen photos from the Burger Boogaloo from that year. At the Boogaloo when we met, Kim joked about how she forgot to bring her tennis racquet while we stood by some courts alongside her best pal, Melanie Vammen. 

After I handed her a There's Something Hard in There sticker, Kim sang the name of the blog with her familiar scream. 

RIP, Kim.

======================

Andy, text -- Cat Rose, photos


Kim Shattuck missed her band.

When she was playing bass for the Pixies and was glancing at drummer Dave Lovering, her mind often wandered. She was thinking about The Muffs.

She'd ponder: "'Dammit, I wish that Roy was playing the drums with me right now instead of Dave,'" Shattuck said over the phone from her North Glendale, Calif., home on a recent Tuesday afternoon. "Roy is an amazing drummer and any other drummer you play with that's not as good as Roy, you're gonna know it, you're just gonna notice it. My favorite drummer in the world is Roy."

Guitarist and vocalist Shattuck can now dig on Roy McDonald's drum beats and Ronnie Barnett's bass lines with The Muffs again. And she was grooving on it big time during the band's raucous set at the Burger Boogaloo on July 6 at Mosswood Park in Oakland, Calif.

"Getting fired was like, 'Oh, good, now I can concentrate on my band again,' which I was probably chomping at the bit to do anyways," said Shattuck, whose 11-month stint with the Pixies began in January 2013 and ended in late November 2013.

"I'm really happy to be doing (The Muffs) because we've been together a really super long time. The record we're about to put out was already done before I joined the Pixies," she added.

The Muffs unleashed their blistering brand of punk/garage/'60s/jazz/rock/pop, etc. onto the Los Angeles scene in 1991 and they'll continue their rampage with the release of their "Whoop De Doo" album on July 29 on Burger Records and Cherry Red Records. Last month, the digital single "Up and Down Around" saw the light of day. According to Shattuck, Burger selected the poppiest tune on the album to get things rolling, and it was a solid choice: "I love the song so much," she said.


EARLY TUNEAGE, INFLUENCES

Turning back the clock, Shattuck's childhood life didn't include much rock 'n' roll since it wasn't her parents' thing, but she did get a taste of The Beatles from her aunt and uncle.

When Shattuck began compiling her own record collection, she initially leaned toward the kid-friendly rockin' tunes about cartoon favorites like Yogi Bear, The Flinstones, Felix the Cat and others. Today she laughs when mimicking the bouncy guitar sounds on those records that paved her musical path. As she grew older, early Kinks "started getting under my skin," along with early Who and Beatles and then the Sex Pistols.

"As long as it had a melody... and Sex Pistols were completely and totally melodic," she said.

While attending college to study photography, Shattuck began playing guitar, became interested in songwriting and formed a band that never garnered a moniker.

She pokes fun at herself when reminiscing about the experience: "I wrote really super terrible songs. I tried to write them on sheet music and they were just really awkward and over thought out. We never knew how to end a song -- it would just peter out. It was so sad."

Shattuck put her voice out in the open from the get-go, but it wasn't well-received by one of her bandmates.

"I broke up the band when the drummer finally said, 'Why can't you sing more like Siouxsie Sioux?' And I was just like, 'Fuck you!' And I had this big old complex that I didn't have a good voice... whatever," she says laughing.

When Shattuck hooked up with garage rockers The Pandoras in 1985, the bassist was reticent about contributing backing vocals, but she went for it anyway.

The Pandoras' singer Paula Pierce (RIP) influenced Shattuck with her melodic and screamy style that she brought to the table when The Muffs took action. Shattuck used Pierce's vocals as a template and then went all bombastic on us, making an impact from Day One and continuing to rattle listeners' cages today.

It all comes back to The Beatles when Shattuck digs into her singing bag of tricks.

"For the melodic stuff, I always wanted to sound and sing like John Lennon. The way he sang with kind of a screeching (tone), but the melodic bits that he would do, the growls that he would put on the high notes -- I still am a huge fan of that. So anyone who sounds at all like that is inspiring to me," she said. "Jeff McDonald from Redd Kross, he has a very Lennon-esque voice."

Aside from Pierce, Shattuck said she sticks to the guys when it comes to vocal guidance, but then notes that Joan Jett creeps into her vocal style, as well.

"I don't even think of (Jett) as a woman. I think of her as like, at times, dude-ish -- she has a dude-ish sounding voice and I guess so do I," she said.





AT HOME ON THE STAGE

Shattuck's voice remains stellar after 30-plus years of playing in bands. At the Burger Boogaloo, she sang, joked with her bandmates and the crowd and gave her guitar a serious workout. She's a shot of energy, aggro, confidence and joviality. She's a rock 'n' roller to the hilt.

Nowadays, Shattuck is in her comfort zone once a gig begins, although she used to be a nervous wreck prior to strumming that first chord.

"Is it worth it to get this nervous about something that's fun?" she asked about the old days. "I wrapped my head around the fact that I'm just not gonna get nervous ever again... never ever, ever, ever, ever again. I couldn't take it anymore. And it worked out well when I was doing the whole Pixies thing because the manager kept trying to make me nervous, just saying things to me that were really obnoxious, like, 'Oh, billions of people are going to be watching you, so you better be perfect.' And I'd be like, 'Good thing I don't get nervous then' ... whatever."

Speaking of the Pixies, Shattuck said it was a fun experience playing their songs in front of enthusiastic audiences, but replacing original bassist Kim Deal was also a tough job. After nine months of learning their songs on her own and enduring intense rehearsals, Shattuck played her first gig on Sept. 6 in LA. Her tenure included a 17-date, sold-out European tour, which began in Vienna, Austria, and finished with a pair of dates at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, England.

"Their songs are not easy, they're not typical blues-based songs," said Shattuck, noting that playing some of the "weird" song structures challenged her to improve her skills. While singing backup vocals, she toned down her wild side and went the lighter route, which she said was good training if she wants to tackle other musical styles.

On the downside, Shattuck didn't get paid for the lengthy rehearsals and had to deal with a clash of personalities.

"I always liked the Pixies and was excited to be a part of it, (but) you don't know what people are like until you're around them on a tour -- or a trip or a vacation -- that's my opinion," she said.

So why was she fired?

"They never told me why. They never even talked to me," she begins. "I was pretty shocked being fired after everyone acted like I was still in the band. So I was only left to speculate. It was pretty obvious when I was first in the band, I got really enthusiastic and I jumped into the pit at a show. Right then was exactly when Dave Lovering stopped talking to me -- completely would ignore my ass. Unless I asked him a direct question, he would just grunt something. The only time he would talk to me was when he had a criticism and about the show or something."

Following the feet-first stage dive at The Mayan in LA, Shattuck apologized to the band and said she got carried away. She knew it wasn't a Pixies-type thing since they're a more reserved bunch -- not a frenetic Muffs group.

"I'm like a toddler, I push my boundaries for a few minutes and then I realize that no one's pleased," Shattuck said. "I know Charles (Thompson IV aka Black Francis) liked my stage presence. I know that after I played with them live, Joey (Santiago) said that he needed to up his game."

Shattuck was obsessed with the stage-dive situation and located footage online. She laughs when describing herself landing, popping up and then hugging people in the crowd.

"It's so not a big deal, because I'm not really a stage diver cuz I don't like to get groped all the time and I don't wanna break my neck...just little preservation things" she said.

At age 50, Shattuck is enjoying her music career and her life more than ever.

"Wow. I don't even think I thought I would be alive this far into the future. I wasn't taking amazing care of myself or anything. I didn't have a deathwish, either, but I didn't think that far into the future. I think that's typical of a 20 year old to not really think about it. I think when I thought about my old age, I just figured I would have kids and be a grandma and do all that stuff, and it didn't turn out like that. It's fine, I'm good. I'm glad it lasted this long. I'm having a ball," she said.





DODGER BASEBALL FANATIC

When Shattuck's not doing Muffs stuff, at least seven months out of the year she and her husband can be found at Dodgers Stadium, rooting on their favorite LA baseball team.

"We're so close and we have such a good view. We're behind the net, so we don't get foul balls in our face, which is kind of nice," Shattuck laughed about their season-tickets spot.

On June 18 (a day after this interview), the couple witnessed Dodger lefty Clayton Kershaw toss a no-hitter. She said it was the best game she's ever seen and that fans were moved to tears and were screaming at the game.

It may seem very un-rock 'n' roll, but Shattuck enjoys the slower, more methodical aspects of baseball and golf.

On baseball, she said: "It's like a suspense movie, like an Alfred Hitchcock movie as compared to a Bruce Willis movie where it's just action all the time."

As a kid, she watched Dodger games on TV and finally made her way to the majestic confines of Chavez Ravine to watch the team in person as a teenager.

It was a love-hate relationship with the team in those early years.

"I got mad at them after they lost the World Series twice to the Yankees (in 1977 and 1978) when I was a little kid, so I stopped liking baseball for a couple years. I rejected it," said Shattuck, who watched slightly from a distance when the Dodgers got revenge on the Yankees and won the World Series in 1981 during the "Fernando-mania" days.

Following her time in The Pandoras, Shattuck returned to the Dodger-fan fold and hasn't looked back. If you're at a game these days, you might even hear her Muffs vocal scream fill the air when her team is on point -- or off.

"They can hear us yelling. If you really are mad at them, you go, 'Hey, what was that?'" she said, noting that some expletives may fly now and again. "There's too many little kids, I don't wanna be a bad influence. We do swear, but we try not to swear loud."

Shattuck saves that for the stage.



Saturday, September 7, 2019

Gettin' down at the Fifth Annual Rock 'n' Roll Freak Out

The Hauer Things. (All Cat Rose photos)


"Get outta your town and outta your mind!"

That crucial mantra burst forth from the mouth of The Hauer Things' vocalist Luke Strahota as his band made its way from Portland, Ore., to the rockin' confines of Darrell's Tavern in Shoreline, Wash., on Aug. 24 for the Fifth Annual Rock 'n' Roll Freak Out.

Also givin' it a whirl were The Mants from Victoria, BC, The Vicious Cycles MC from Vancouver, BC, and hometown Seattle rippers The Wild Swings. Much thanks to Ted Cogswell for booking the gig and DJ Brother James for spinnin' the righteous tunes in between bands.

Cat Rose delivered the photos. Cheers!



THE WILD SWINGS





















THE VICIOUS CYCLES MC

























THE HAUER THINGS


























THE MANTS












GROOVIN' AND SPINNIN'





Sunday, September 1, 2019

Getting swallowed into the mayhem with Sandrider / Interview

Screams in the night: Sandrider's Jon Weisnewski. (All Cat Rose photos)


By Andy

Some things are tough to describe. When a band clicks its proverbial power button on and they suddenly unleash their arsenal of decibel weaponry on you, it's almost too late to think about what you're in the middle of. You just lean into the fray and let it claw you into its realm while the players are raging away as if it's their final night on stage. It's a fucking crucial time to be part of the music world.

That's Sandrider for you.

The Seattle pummel unit consists of Jon Weisnewski (guitar/vocals), Jesse Roberts (bass/vocals) and Nat Damm (drums) and they've been leveling venues for the last eight years or so. We've been welcome victims of their bombastic musical barrage. We're still standing and ready for more.

Here's an email interview with Weisnewski:


** How did you guys find each other? What do each one of you bring to the band that forms the cohesive unit?

Nat and I have been close friends and playing together since we were teenagers in high school just learning our instruments. We've kinda just been attached at the hip since then. We've both played in a number of other bands with different people but I can't really imagine not playing with him full time. He'll always be my first pick for a band mate for any project. We met Jesse way back when Akimbo and The Ruby Doe used to play together a lot around Seattle and that put him on my radar as a great player. Jesse is also a talented tattoo artist, and when Sandrider was looking for a bass player he was working on my sleeves. One day at a rippin' tat sesh, I just asked if he wanted to come play with us. He chose wisely.

Nat and I bring beer to the band. Jesse brings weed.

I'm actually having a hard time isolating the individual things we bring to the group. We're all very much on the same page about a bunch of important stuff... We want to play loud, we want to always be crushing, we want the band to always be fun for us and the audience, we don't take ourselves super seriously or force ourselves to "work hard" when it comes to the rigors of practice and playing shows, we hate loading gear yet refuse to play small amps, we all just want to make records and explode stages.


** What was the first practice like? Did you know then that something cool was in the making?

Nat and I had been playing for a while trying out different people, some went great but the people were too busy, some didn't go so well, and some were just him and I figuring out a sound. The first practice where Jesse played there was definitely some tangible magic in the air that wasn't there before. Again, Jesse is such a solid musician that he just picked up the songs right out the gate, and he's also such a positive, easy going, fun person to be around... Yeah it felt awesome. Definitely like the vibe clicked in and we all were pumped to keep playing.


** What about the first gig? What were people's reaction to the pummeling sound? 

My memories of our first show weren't actually all that great. Nat and I were still doing Akimbo full time and I had just started playing guitar seriously again, so I was playing on pretty broken guitar gear for a long time as the band was starting. I had a lot of gear problems for most of our early shows. Our second show was at The Comet Tavern with Saviours, and that show was extremely sick but we still kinda sucked. I wasn't confident as a guitar player for a while. I think the first show that felt truly triumphant was one of our early shows at Black Lodge. Played with a ton of good bands and we just had a good night ourselves... people started seeming really excited about the band and we were seeing a lot of repeat faces from show to show. That felt nice. Still does.


Nat Damm lets loose. (Cat Rose photo)


** What keeps the Sandrider machine rolling? Are you just as stoked on the recent album as you were the first one?

Playing music with Nat and Jesse is just such a joy. I can't not do it. That's what keeps it rolling for me.

As far as the records, I'm a very harsh self critic. There are songs and/or elements of all of our records that I think could have been much stronger, so with that in mind, yes, I'm just as stoked but I'm also just as critical. I think on "Armada," Matt got the best drum tone he's ever gotten out of Nat. Like "The Corpse," I think "Creep" is one of the best songs we've ever written, and like "The Judge," "Lineage" is one of the best songs we've ever recorded (in my opinion when we play it live, it's not as strong as it is on the record).


** How would you describe your sound? Was it what you were looking for at the start or did it evolve into how we know Sandrider then and now?

I've always described the band as "loud rock". To me that's what it is, how I think about it, and what I'm shooting for when writing a song. I know it's extremely vague and doesn't help anyone, but that's been my consistent lens for how I see the band.


** You've played all over, from small clubs to Bumbershoot to being featured on Monday Night Football with your decibel levels shown in relation to a Seahawks crowd. What are you personal highlights? How did the football thing come about and what was your reaction to that?

I think one of my favorite shows was the "Godhead" release show at Neumos. The show sold out which was just a huge deal to me personally because I didn't think we'd ever do that. We also played really well that night and the vibes around "Godhead" were super positive, and I remember glowing for weeks after that show. Bumbershoot with Red Fang was also great. About a year ago, we played the Highline with Whores and I loved that show too. Linda's Fest last year with Helms Alee, Wild Powwers and Trash Fire was really great. Funny enough, I'm consistently surprised at shows that I assume will be "just another night in Seattle" that end being really really cool. The show last summer at Nectar with Gl0se was crazy good. I love Gl0se and was excited to play, but I didn't think it would be so great.

The football thing was actually just a happy accident. We found out via a forwarded email chain that they didn't necessarily want US, they just wanted any loud "grunge band" in Seattle for their bit. The weekend their camera crew was in the city just happened to be a night we were playing, and someone local said that our show would probably be the best bet for their TV spot. We got lucky!


Jesse Roberts lays it down.  (Cat Rose photo)



** When you're in full rage mode on stage, the band is thrilling to watch. How does it feel to be a part of it all?

Haha, pretty awesome. At almost no point during a set do I feel in control. It's like catching a hurricane with a butterfly net and trying to hold on and not fuck up too badly along the ride. We have a rule where if the band fucks up, just play to the drummer. It's the best way to get back on track and not completely train wreck the song. Maybe some day I'll have more time to practice my instrument so I can actually play like I know what I'm doing... but on that note, philosophically I think we prioritize putting on a good show more than we do hitting every note just right. The studio is the right place to really focus on the playing. The stage is the right place to spit some gas on the fire and get wild.