Sunday, November 27, 2011

Kill or be killed with the monster that is Black Face

By Andy
Someone mentioned the other day that OFF! has about 33,000-plus more Facebook “likes” than Black Face.
Upon listening to the band’s newly released “I Want to Kill You/Monster” seven-inch on Hydra Head Records, do you think Black Face is counting? The band’s legion of 500 or so will surely grow in time, but the numbers game is not what’s important here, folks.
For their kind, Black Face is -- how bassist Chuck Dukowski would say -- “nice and friendly.” They’re right up in your mug -- hollering and pounding away. That’s a true friend, indeed, someone you’ll never forget and who won’t let you go despite what’s “trending” at the moment.
“You can try to hide, but you won’t get away,” singer Eugene S. Robinson unleashes on “I Want to Kill You” (Side Death), which possesses a nasty, swirling guitar riff from Milo Gonzalez that plays off his dad Dukowski’s creepy bass – a loving father-and-son duo, for sure.
“I enjoy your misery,” Robinson continues, as his voice claws into your neck.
But, with drummer Tom Dobrov steadily keeping the death ride on course (or off?), Black Face gives the listener a halftime break of sorts, decelerating the song … before building it back up again. It keeps sticking you.
And in the end, there’s a warning: “You can’t close the door on me.”
On “Monster” (Side Trip), Dukowski digs in again to a song that appears on SWA’s “Winter” 1989 record.
Like a good friend, he gives this one a second chance—leading in with that spine-tingling bass and adding a demented psychedelic guitar riff and layered fucked-up screams. It’s a slow-breathing song that hits hard at spots, but never gives you a chance to turn away. You’re trapped.
“I need a soul, and I want yours,” Robinson offers on the remake, which isn’t as twisted as the original, but still carves out a chaotic path. “I love you … there’s nobody else in here, but me for you.”
Black Face is waiting for you. Come inside, friends.


More Black Face bloggage:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Punks venture into the metal slam pit with Exodus, Metallica and the rest of the 'bangers

Exodus' raging vocalist, Paul Baloff (RIP). (All William L. Tuck III photos)
By Andy

I'd heard some Motorhead and Venom from my friend Pat (aka Adam Bomb-- DJ and bass man) in the early '80s, but when bands like Metallica and Slayer came across my path soon after, it was game on.

I grew up a rocker -- UFO, Van Halen, Thin Lizzy, KISS, Cheap Trick, etc. -- and then hooked onto the power, chaos and lyrical inspiration of punk in '79-'80 and let it rip from there. (I'd heard the Sex Pistols on the family AM radio in '77 or so and seen some punk specials on TV, but I remained a rocker for a while longer.)

After testing the headbanging waters with Metallica and Slayer (the latter of whom my buddy John and I hung out with on Pat's show, "The Final Countdown" at LMU in the Los Angeles area), my friends Corrosion of Conformity came to town and unleashed their walloping hymns into my brain in the summer of '84 at the Cathay De Grande. Although punk was my primary thing, I was ready for more clenched-fist metal, for sure.

So I -- along with others in the punk scene -- soon got caught up in the speed/thrash-metal scene a bit, mixing in with the longhairs at gigs featuring Possessed, Exodus, Hirax, Detente, Dark Angel, Savage Grace, etc.

COC, DRI, Dr. Know, GBH and other punk/metal hybrid bands were usually on the bills, as well, so those raucous gigs were begging to have us in attendance.

"You guys are fucking raging," Exodus singer Paul Baloff (RIP) screamed to a crowd at the Balboa Theater one fine evening.

Exodus' Baloff and Gary Holt at the Country Club.
Speaking of Exodus, my pal Jim (nowadays known as "Bobo" on TV's "Finding Bigfoot") and I took in a gig with the Bay Area's premier thrashers at the Country Club in Reseda in April of '85. They were sadly backed by the horrible, glammy Ruthless, but Baloff and company tore the place apart with their crucial tunes from the "Bonded By Blood" LP.

Ruthless, once again, were so lame that one young Exodus fan chucked pieces of ice at the singer and was yanked from the gig by a security guard. Much to his dismay, the headbanger missed the band he saved up his pennies to see that night, but the rest of us raged with Exodus tenfold.

In March of that year, I brought my friend Roween along for the metal ride for Metallica and Armored Saint at the Hollywood Palladium.  (Speaking of Roween, Carrie thinks it’s funny that he went to a metal show. She used to carpool with him in high school and he would always drill her about music, stating she had to pick either punk or metal. One or the other, but you could not like both. Carrie would say punk, even though she loved the metal also. )

Metallica actually opened that night and hit us with blast upon blast from the "Ride the Lightning" LP along with earlier tunes. From the initial strains of the melodic intro to "Fight Fire with Fire," some 'bangers in the crowd were already slam dancing... and then when the song kicked into gear, the place fucking erupted, with bodies flying everywhere, voices and fists raised and noggins properly banging -- it was a beautiful sight.

Metallica's James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett tear up the Hollywood Palladium.

William L. Tuck III, another punk from back in the day, also joined in on the thrash/speed-metal action. Here's his story about Metallica and Exodus and those killer gigs of '85:

My experience with Metallica started when I saw an ad for them in BAM magazine back in 1983 when they did a national club tour with Raven. My thought was, "Who the hell are these country-rock-lookin' dudes?" --especially Lars Ulrich with his beard and Levi's jacket. Then "Kill 'em All" came out at the same time I was getting into Venom (I already was a strong Motorhead fan by this time). I saw that same picture on the back cover of the album, but when the needle hit the wax, I realized how wrong and way off I was in my assumptions of this band.

It wasn't that much time from "Kill 'em All" and "Ride the Lightning," and, for the most part, checking Metallica out live flew under my radar because I was so ensconced in the hardcore scene at that point that I had no desire to "hang" with the metalheads.

What a difference two years makes. With the advent of thrash and speed metal, I could not wait and craved for live shows by this new breed of bands. Metallica were, in my opinion, at the vanguard of this new movement. By 1985, things were going pretty good for them. They had just secured a deal with a major label and they were big enough to play a place like the Hollywood Palladium, a far cry from the places they used to play.

Metallica wasn't even mentioned on the ticket ... Andy scribbled them in.
I was quite stoked to finally witness the band that I grew to love over the last two years. Walking into the Palladium as a full-blown punk rocker was an experience in itself. Some of the metalheads were throwing looks our way as if we didn't belong there. With a bit of hubris, we felt that they borrowed the good aspects of "our" music and felt this music belonged to us as much as it did to the metal guys. Based on that, we knew damn well that we belonged there. 

The opening band was a proto-glam dude named Adam Bomb (not the aforementioned Pat!). We conveniently missed that as to not cloud our minds and be able to witness Metallica to the fullest potential. We made our way up to the front of the stage so that I could take pictures with my trusty 110 camera. 

Your mother cuts hair in hell: metalers had to look good, too
As the lights went down, we suddenly heard the acoustic intro to "Fight Fire with Fire" and out comes the band. I go crazy as does the crowd. The pit was unreal-- it was as if the entire place erupted. I remember being at the bottom of a giant dogpile and being scared shitless, thinking I was going to die like those people at that Who concert did a few years earlier. Fortunately, that didn't happen because everyone was on the same vibe and we were all helping each other. This was a first for me because up until this point, there was always a strong division between punks and metalheads. Longhairs were picking me up and patting me on the back. The band ran through all the select songs from the first two albums and the whole show was spot on. 

I think for Metallica, it was an amazing experience, too, because up until this time, L.A. had dissed them pretty hard and when they came back, they came back in a big way because people were finally getting it. The amazing thing was that Armored Saint were pretty big at this point, big enough to headline, yet after Metallica played, there was but 200 to 300 people left in the audience. A pretty good sign that things were changing in metal music.

This was the first and last time I saw Metallica. A year-and-a-half later, Cliff Burton was dead and they were playing bigger and bigger venues with higher ticket prices. I had no interest in being a part of that. That being said, I feel fortunate to have seen a band of this magnitude at a good place at the right time and I will always remember it being one of the best shows I've ever witnessed. 

Exodus' Holt with an evil stare.

I had started listening to Venom in the summer of 1983, and a year later got turned on to Slayer by these kids I met at Tower Records in West Covina and I was hooked. Reading various metal zines and by word of mouth, I started to hear about the burgeoning Bay Area thrash movement. Bands like Possessed, Metallica and the band I was told was the most extreme: Exodus.

Slayer's Tom Araya


Exodus already had a name for themselves as THE band that hated false metal (ie: Ratt, Motley Crue, etc.). Also, Kirk Hammett was a former member, and if that wasn't a stamp of approval, then I don't know what is. Without even hearing the band, we caught news that they were playing the Country Club and drove out to check these guys out.

They were sandwiched in between two bands called Ruthless and Savage Grace. By Bay Area standards of the day, these two bands would be considered false or posers. 

Ruthless came out in Motley Crue-style leathers and makeup. The crowd, for the most part, was not pleased with this-- they not only began booing them, but spitting on them, as well. It got so bad that one guy went up and tried to punch the singer and was quickly ejected from the club by a huge bouncer. I think they cut their set short in fear of the onslaught that could have potentially ensued had they gone further. I don't remember the music being too bad, just a bit of Priest worship in all the wrong directions.

Up next was the band we came to see: Exodus. They came out with a fury. Five regular dudes that came out and owned the stage with powerful riffs and an angry troll of a vocalist named Paul Baloff. Paul really knew how to work the crowd into a frenzy with his classic in-between-song banter about "killing posers" and "kicking ass." Though not tall in stature, he made up for it by being very intimidating in his demeanor. He was probably 5'6" in height, but carried himself like he was 7 feet tall. The band blazed through their set, which consisted of the songs from "Bonded by Blood." I remember Gary Holt doing the intro to "No Love," a little traditional Irish folk ditty that blew up into a heavy-ass riff. By the time the show was finished, we were believers of not only this band, but Bay Area thrash.

The headlining band was L.A. local posers Savage Grace and we were in no mood for that shit. We promptly left with great memories intact.

In a final twist of irony, I recently bought some tickets to see Saxon from the singer, Sammy, of the reformed Ruthless who were opening the show. I spoke to him a bit about that '85 show and he was pretty embarrassed about how they looked and acted. He told me that in L.A., you pretty much had to look like that to get gigs, but he wasn't too proud of it. I saw them open for Saxon and they were without the makeup and corny leathers. Hell, they even have Jim Durkin from Dark Angel in the band now. Much different band now-- and in a good way.....

Ruthless in '85 ---- ugh.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's in my mail, it's in my mail: Minor Threat correspondence from the '80s

By Andy

Remember pen pals? It seems like everyone had one or two back in the day, whether it was through a school project (I had one in France) or gabbing back and forth with people in punk-rock bands.

I frequently exchanged letters (and some phone calls) with folks in Minor Threat, CIA/76% Uncertain, Battalion of Saints, Zero Boys, Corrosion of Conformity/No Labels, SSD, Husker Du, Even Worse and more. Some became good friends along the way.

As for Minor Threat, here's a few bits of information, which can either fill some holes to the band's story or give you a laugh or two.

* On May 28, 1982, drummer Jeff Nelson revealed this bit of juicy gossip in a letter to me:

"I don't think we'll be staying at SST. Black Flag (except Dez) are being real jerks. It's going to be weird enough playing May 31st with them on Long Island."

* Here's a note from Nelson to me dated Sept. 13, 1982, regarding the band's switch to a five-piece, adding Steve Hansgen on bass and moving Brian Baker to second guitar:

"We are trying playing with a new bass player. Brian decided he really wants to play guitar, so now we have 2 guitars. Who knows if it'll work. Brian's a very rock 'n rolly guitarist, and if he keeps it up we're either going to go back to him on bass or just call it quits. Who knows? Maybe we'll add a brass and woodwinds section, too!"

* Here's a tidbit from guitarist Lyle Preslar in a letter to me dated May 20, 1983, following the band's nationwide tour:

"As for the two guitars, I have some interesting news. Upon our return, the 4 original members (Ian, Jeff, Brian and I) decided that Steve would have to leave the band for reasons of personal incompatibility..... Thus, we are again a 4 piece and we feel a bit more comfortable with it. "

Minor Threat's later personal issues have been well-documented, so I don't think any of this information will be hurtful. I've actually edited some stuff out that was too personal.


Edited letter from Preslar.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Punk Presents: Santa Monica Civic and the bands ready to hit the stage this Xmas

By Cat and Andy

Santa Monica Civic Auditorium: This place brings back a lot of memories for us and we are just missing these shows by a week (as we always fly down to LA for Christmas). So here are a few thoughts and some of our memories of the place and bands:

Andy: First time at the Civic in the summer of 1981 for the mammoth Black Flag, Adolescents, DOA and Minutemen gig. Highlights for a 14-year-old me included running into Mike Ness from Social D backstage, watching Flag and Adolescents from side stage and seeing Flag rehearse backstage.
A few years later, the Misfits tore it up and broke a guitar in pieces before Flag's June 11, 1983 set, featuring Rollins, Cadena and Reyes on vocals. (Minor Threat "were going to fly to LA for (this gig), but we have to play on the 12th in Boston -- but we'll be back -- I promise," according to a letter from guitarist Lyle Preslar to me. They never made it back.) Further down the road, SLF and Social D turned in memorable performances on a powerhouse double bill.

Cat: My memory is not as good as Andy's in regards to all the shows I have seen at the Civic, but one that I remember the best is Soundgarden and Danzig in 1990. I have had some other experiences there including my metal friend bringing me to a show there of a band that cannot be named in this blog. That show ended with me pouring my beer atop the head of a chick wearing white pumps. Needless to say, I did not belong at that show, but did love the place.

Social D:

A: "Mainliner" burst out of the speakers during a Rodney on the Roq radio show --- I was hooked.

C: Saw them once only at the Hollywood Palladium, but they will always remind me of the group of friends that I hung out with when the self-titled album from 1990 came out. "Story of My Life", "So Far Away" and She's a Knockout" were our theme songs.

A: Speaking of that album, when I worked as a messenger in LA in 1990, one of our guys delivered the master tapes to Epic Records. Lucky guy --- who knows where those would be now if I handled them.


A: It's all about the "Decline of Western Civilization" ... and seeing them at Disneyland's Grad Nite 1985.

C: I think I have said enough about X in past entries--(Andy happened to be at my Grad Nite for my high-school graduation)--my favorite band, 'nuff said.


A: Watching my uncle check out the "blue" album's lyric sheet and proceed to read some of the lyrics out loud. Funny.

C: I did not get to see them until the "Hey Punk!" festival in Seattle in 2002. Quite a festival -- in fact, lost my phone at the gig: when we arrived home, the Adolescents were in the background on the voice mail we received from the security guy who found it.
Saw them again at Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas in 2008. Always loved the "blue" album also and bummed I never got to see them before that.

Bad Religion:

A: Grabbing the first EP at Zed Records in Long Beach, and then finally seeing them play at Godzilla's in the valley. I had a major stomach ache that night (food poisoning, I think), but I made it through, and then rode home lying down in the back of a friend's pickup truck.

C: "Suffer."

Youth Brigade:

A & C: Not big fans ... but the Washington, DC, Youth Brigade's EP on Dischord is always a pleasure to listen to.


A: TSOL, 45 Grave and the Dead Kennedys at Florentine Gardens ... Jack sporting a skinhead and white-painted face, just raging to the beat. With a couple of malt-liquor tall boys in me, things were good.

C: Had a huge crush on Jack, just as every other young punk lass. Also saw him later at Scream when he was with Tender Fury (when he sported the long locks).

A: Saw Jack in Cathedral of Tears ... ughhh.


A: Pop punk at its finest -- not the crap that passes for that genre nowadays. Saw them play at the beach, a house party and everywhere in between. They've definitely sold out a telephone booth by now by playing massive shows.

C: As I have said before, "Milo Goes to College" was my soundtrack for junior and senior years of high school.

The Vandals:

A: Don't know much about these guys other than the "Peace Through Vandalism" record. But if our friend, Jaguar Bullet, and his daughter dig them ... then they get the nod.

C: Besides the Descendents, The Vandals were a close second as far as soundtrack songs in high school. Many a pre-party in the car involved us drinking our favorite California Coolers, as always, and singing along to "Urban Struggle" --we definitely wanted to be cowboys. In fact, we would run down the halls of our high school and just yell "aaww -- a -- aaww" at each other in between classes.


A: "If Stuart Could Talk" ... he'd say the Dickies are one of the most fun and energetic bands on earth. And that cover of "Paranoid" is top notch... hearing it blasting in my friend's pickup in high school was an eye opener.

C: Fuck those puppets on Mr. Rogers, a singing penis puppet kicks their ass any day.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A chaotic night with Sirhan Sirhan, Rabbits and more at Seattle's Funhouse

Booze from Portland's Rabbits attacks his guitar. (All Cat Rose photos)
One band definitely offered up songs about drinking lots of booze and hating people.

Another group may or may not have unleashed a batch of tunes about pretzels and cocaine.

In the grand scheme of things, who cares, right? What counts is that Sirhan Sirhan, Android Hero, Rabbits and Deadkill brought the noise last night to Seattle's Funhouse. Punk, metal, doom and tons of gloom in the Black Flag, No Means No, St. Vitus and Fugazi veins made it for a worthwhile night out on the town.

Here's some Cat Rose pics to exhibit the madness:

Bryan leads Seattle's Deadkill.

Rabbits' Sethro.
More Rabbits: KG and Booze.

Android Hero from Sequim, WA: McFly, left, and McNulty.

Android's Nell gets some air.
Final four: San Diego headliner Sirhan Sirhan -- Jason, Alex, Jeremy and John.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Husker Du album poll: They're all solid, but 'New Day Rising' takes top spot

Definitive Husker Du live shot. (Steve Wainstead photo)
Do you remember Husker Du?

Answer: How can you forget them?

We at There's Something Hard in There conducted a poll on our Facebook page, asking readers to chime in with their favorite Husker album. Cat went with "New Day Rising," and Andy tagged "Everything Falls Apart."

A mere twenty-three votes overall, and "New Day Rising" took the top spot with six votes.

To round out the list, "Zen Arcade" (5), "Flip Your Wig" (5), "Warehouse: Songs and Stories" (3), "Candy Apple Grey" (2), "Everything Falls Apart" (1) and "Metal Circus" (1). Sorry "Land Speed Record" and "The Living End" -- but no one will deny that Husker was a blazing live act ... one of the best around.

Here's a few comments from our voters:

* There's only one correct answer: "ZEN ARCADE"! (Mike Vinikour--Downers Grove, Ill.)

* It seems unfair to pick against most of these albums, but "New Day Rising" gets my vote because it completely opened up the Husker Du catalogue to me. (Mike McNulty--Waltham, Mass.)

* "Metal Circus" for me, although impossible to choose really... but I really like the guitar sound on "Metal Circus." (Simon Way --town unknown, but he's a guitar-pedal aficionado)

* Love the entire "Metal Circus"-"Zen Arcade"-"New Day Rising"-"Flip Your Wig" sequence, but I'm going with "Wig" for sentimental reasons. (Paul Hilcoff--Boxborough, Mass.)

As a bonus, here's some of Andy's Husker reviews from his high-school and college papers from back in the day... remember, this was a long time ago, so forgive any mistakes. Enjoy.

Quote courtesy of Flipside fanzine

Quote from Andy's conversation with Bob outside of Roxy.

Check out our other Husker entries: