Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Quotes of Note

Carrie Akre with Goodness last January in Seattle. (Cat Rose photo)

Lots of interviews again this year and loads of insightful and humorous quotes.
Here's a few of our favorites:

Goodness' Carrie Akre about returning to the stage to sing a tune with Candlebox (who were on tour together in the '90s) in front of some guys who heckled her earlier that night:

I feel like it was extremely cathartic. And that's the thing about being in music, too, is you kind of gotta love a little bit of that crazy and conquering. You gotta love it as your experience and your war stories. You gotta put it somewhere in your heart.

Bad Religion bassist Jay Bentley discusses Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister:

He's just a badass. Everyone from Gene Simmons to Sid Vicious were just wet puppets compared to Lemmy. Not the best, but the loudest, not the most technical, but will smash your face with sheer brute force. The epitome of a rock and roll bass player. Untouchable and unfabricated, unapologetic and quite frankly one of my ideal role models.

The Muffs' Kim Shattuck about conquering on-stage nervousness:

Is it worth it to get this nervous about something that's fun? 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.

Corrosion of Conformity's Woodroe Weatherman on writing songs:

You gotta put those twists in there. When you're learning it, some of it seems a little hard to grasp sometimes, but once you get it in your head, it's like, 'OK, I'm in the groove now.' Especially some of Mike's riffs, man, he tosses some doozies out there that can be hard for me to get a hold of sometimes. But that's part of the challenge -- if everything was 4-4 and the same three chords, I guess we would have already gave up a long time ago.

Orange Goblin guitarist Joe Hoare about his musical guilty pleasures:

I really, really love early Elton John -- you can't get much better than that for the time. I love The Beatles, I love anything that's got a good musical hook. I draw the line at Katy Perry, but I'm a real sucker for a good sing-along song, whether it be acoustic or whatever. There's quite a few there. I probably wouldn't mention a lot of them because I don't want to get lynched. For me anyway, I can't constantly listen to real heavy rock all the time -- it will drive me mad. I even had classic FM in the car today, it's just classical music. It was one of those days, the kids were screaming. I enjoy (music) like that, as well -- real calming, relaxing music.

Necros/Laughing Hyenas' Todd Swalla drums up these thoughts about the Who's Keith Moon:

It’s hard to describe in words the epic proportions that come to mind when one talks about the drumming of Keith Moon. You can talk about the manic prankster and chemical intake, but what really stands apart is his playing. Pete Townsend always made a point of describing his playing as going forward as opposed to left and right like most drummers, and this is oh so true.  Many have tried and no one really comes close if you think about it, not even myself, Ginger Baker or Dave Grohl.

Steve Miller of The Fix on playing gigs in the early '80s:

It had to be loud, it had to hurt, and we loved the volume in our own ears.

Zero Boys' Paul Mahern on the band's recent album "Monkey":

I hope that fans of the old stuff will like this record. It is certainly coming from the same place -- it's just 2014 and not 1982. I think the melodies are tight and poppy, the guitars are full of hooks and the rhythm section is spot-on amazing.

The Adolescents' Tony Reflex about Little Richard:

From the moment I heard the wail of Little Richard and saw that crazy hair, I was in. Little Richard’s voice,  the catchiness and double entendres and the wild, over-the-top performances appealed to me as much when I first heard him as it does right now. I think he’s one of the greatest rock and roll singers of all time.

Stiff Little Fingers' drummer Steve Grantley about playing with Jake Burns:

Jake and I are first and foremost friends. We are mates and would seek out each other's company whether we were in a band together or not. We go right back -- through good times and bad. Playing with Jake is a pleasure because he's serious, but not pretentious. We work hard and then have fun. He's a lazy git when he writes, but it's always worth the wait.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Rikk Agnew | Top guitarists series Part 3

Rikk Agnew on tour. (Courtesy of Rikk Agnew)
By Andy

If you dig through our record collection and find The Adolescents' "Blue" album, the vinyl is pretty tattered and it won't play the whole way through without a plethora of skips.

That's a good thing.

It means that we spun that aggressive and melodic classic LP to its fullest -- and that was probably within the first year that we bought the Frontier Records platter when it was first released in 1981 and it immediately made a major impact on our world.

The tag-team, gutsy guitaristry of brothers Rikk and Frank Agnew helps put that album near the top of the all-time punk-rock heap. With songs like "Kids of the Black Hole," "Amoeba," "No Way," "Rip it Up," etc. within its grooves, all copies -- original or reissued -- of the "Blue" album should be ready to snap at any moment from constant play.

"It was and is the Orange County sound. Rikk is pure genius on guitar - Frank is no joke, either. They are like MY generation's Angus and Malcom Young!" TSOL guitarist Ron Emory recently told There's Something Hard in There.

So, here we've got Rikk Agnew on board with us for his top-10 guitarists' list, sent to us via email. Over the last 36 years, Rikk has also honed his six-string craft with Christian Death, D.I., Social Distortion, The Detours, 45 Grave and others... and currently the Rikk Agnew Band.

1. Jimi Hendrix - Jimi made me want to play guitar. I feel he guides my hands and provides me with a clear and powerful connection to the universal muse. I watched him on TV and had a spiritual awakening like never before or after. He taught me to become "one" with the instrument, To "make love" to it.

2. Jimmy Page - Jimmy influenced a lot of my writing (his sloppy approach to solos especially), how to use "silent breaks" in riffs for maximum dynamics, as well as single-note riffing.

3. Tony Iommi - Show me a rock guitarist who says he was not influenced even a bit by Tony and Black Sabbath, and I call LIAR! His dirging riffs were and always will be the epitome of HEAVY. When I was in a cover band, we wanted so bad to cover Black Sabbath songs, but I could never figure them out, until years later I was restringing my guitar, and as I twisted the key to tighten the low E, I accidentally ran into DE-TUNING DOWN. I think I might have cried.

4. Ted Falconi - I love his hit/miss go-as-I-may style. He most definitely has a very unique approach to playing, and it WORKS beautifully.

5. Sickie Wifebeater - Another mind-blowing guitarist who influenced my guitar "hand acrobatics."

6. Keith Levene - Very heavy influence on what I did on the "Only Theater of Pain" LP.

7. Brian James - His work on "Damned Damned Damned" and Lords of the New Church is epic. This man rocks anything he touches!

8. Greg Ginn - His fuck-all music theory attack on guitar is as nihilistic as it gets. Fuck keys, just bash that fiddle, kill it, angst, anxiety, it totally compliments the text of the songs.

9. Dr. Know - What an artist he is, from punk/metal shredding to clean reggae bursts. One of the best ever.

10. Me.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Down, Orange Goblin and King Parrot storm Seattle

From top, Down, Orange Goblin and King Parrot. (All Cat Rose photos)

Text: Andy; Photos: Cat Rose

King Parrot's Matt Young was on the loose.

It was as if the manic frontman for the punk/metal grinders from Melbourne, Australia had just escaped from the loony bin and was running amok, seeing what kind of trouble he could get into after being locked up for so long.

After a few songs, Young seemed to say "fuck it" to the several feet of space and a barricade that separated the band from the crowd. He leaped off the stage, barreled into the barricade, was soon on top of the helpless wooden structure and crowd surfing. All the while, he hammered out his vocals to the destructive beat, which was supplied by his equally energetic mates, heads riveting and faces demonically grinning as they attacked their instruments.

Every time Young returned to the stage, he was already looking for another way to leave it and CREATE SOME CHAOS. Soon, he was running around on the dance floor and singing, mugging it up for the drinkers near the bar.

Security couldn't keep track of Young at first, and when they did see what he was up to, the burly men swarmed the area and tried to keep things orderly. He was challenging the boundaries -- fucking cool.

THAT SET THE TONE for the evening of pummeling rock that was also spewed forth by New Orleans powerhouse, Down, and London, England steamrollers, Orange Goblin, last Wednesday at the Showbox in Seattle.

If your ears weren't throbbing by the end of the night, you clearly weren't close enough to the stage -- where all the crucial shit went down.

In the vocalist department, Down's Phil Anselmo and Orange Goblin's Ben Ward let their voices howl and growl as if this would be their last night on stage. Full effort all the way from the aggro Anselmo and the towering Big Ben, both of whom had the crowd raging and smiling the whole way.

Down's Pepper Keenan and Bobby Landgraf and Orange Goblin's Joe Hoare all gave their guitars a serious workout, and it's amazing that their fingers didn't snap off with all the INSANE RIFFAGE happening.

On the bass side, hair flew and hands gouged the strings as Down's Pat Bruders and Orange Goblin's Martyn Millard took the songs for a manic ride while drummers Jimmy Bower and Chris Turner glued the whole deal together as band members and fans raised their fists triumphantly.

Now that's a PROPER, SCORCHING gig for ya.

Photos galore below:




Monday, December 8, 2014

An Interview with Spot about his New Photography Book, 'Sounds of Two Eyes Opening'

Posted on Nov. 29 in the Los Angeles Beat 

By Elise Thompson

Most LA musicians know Spot from his years working as a sound engineer and producer for bands like the Minutemen, the Misfits, and Black Flag. A talented musician, Spot also played bass for Panic, the precursor to Black Flag, and Nig Heist, a comical and super edgy band that bordered on performance art. These days he is doing the acoustic guitar singer-songwriter thing and performed to a packed house at last weekend’s Punk Rock BBQ.

Something people may not know is that Spot was also an avid photographer, even working for a time with the Easy Reader, the South Bay’s free paper. Sinecure Books has just released a collection of Spot’s photography, which captures the dichotomy that was the South Bay in the '70s and '80s, a juxtaposition of hardcore punk bands and girls with feathered hair skating on the Strand.

“Sounds of Two Eyes Opening” is a 272-page hardback “printed on matte art paper, with 4-color black-and-white printing and a lay flat binding.” It is available at record stores, bookstores, and Amazon. A special slipcase edition with extras is available online from Sinecure.

Spot was kind enough to answer a few questions for us. (Interview after the break.)

Courtesy of Spot. Used with permission.

What years does the book span?

 I started taking photos in 1969. My first camera got stolen in ’72 and I didn’t get another one til ’76 when I was living in Hermosa and writing for the Easy Reader. Then it became photo-journalism. I lost my darkroom in 1981 when Media Art closed down. But all that damn musical punkin’, rockin’ and sockin’ had happened and I didn’t have time or facilities for photography anymore.

Mostly color or black and white?

 I primarily did available-light black & white. I was hugely into LIFE Magazine as a kid when they had some of the best photographers in the world working for them. Then in ’67 I saw the movie “Blow-Up” and I knew I had to try my hand at it.

What is our favorite place or subject to shoot?

 There’s no definitive answer for this. I never really chose a specific thing to shoot but I seemed to gravitate toward action. Mostly, I just shot what was there. I will say that, aside from the journalistic style, I’m a big fan of guys like George Hurrell and that era in the '30s when Hollywood’s film and lighting guys were creating a whole wide world of grayscale and depth perception. Nothing like that exists today and it’s impossible to duplicate it digitally.

When did you leave LA?

 I got out in 1986. I was sick of being stuck on the freeway and having to deal with everyone else’s problems. Had almost no time for myself. Went to Austin and had plenty of time for myself. It was great til all the Californians moved in and suddenly it was LA all over again. I’d had enough, sold my house and got out of there in early 2012. Been living on Lake Michigan in Wisconsin since. And, yes, on Nov. 10 folks up there do commemorate the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Do you still take pictures?

Only with an iPhone. Still got my old Nikon system tho. Maybe one of these days I’ll find a way to get back into it.

Are there any stories in the book?

 Other than the photos themselves? I have two essays in it and some notes, wisecracks and explanations in the back.

Why should people buy it?

 Cuz it’ll make me feel like it was worth all the sleep (and skin) I lost creating the images in the first place. It’s photos of things that no one wanted to consider at the time and, for a long time after that, no one seemed to care. And, honestly, it might help me pay the rent.

Courtesy of Spot. Used with permission.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ron Emory / Top guitarists series, Part 2

Ron Emory in the '80s. (Courtesy of Alison Braun)
By Andy

Just look at the above photo of Ron Emory.

I can't offer much more than this: He is a guitarist who is clearly passionate about his craft. (And he's a snappy dresser to boot.)

I had the pleasure of seeing him belt out songs with TSOL, Lunch Box and The Joykiller in the early '80s through the '90s. I was always mesmerized by his guitar playing on those early TSOL releases and wished I could sound that superb.

Here at There's Something Hard in There, we allow people to carve their own path ... and so Emory gets a top-15 list of his influential guitarists. We're just nice that way!

"Sorry I couldn't narrow it down to 10. The thing is, they all have a sound and style that is purely them. You know who they are after two chords," Emory wrote in an email. "They ALL (and many more) have molded me into the guitar player that I am."

15. Johnny Ramone - The Ramones 
When I first heard The Ramones, Johnny's straight-forward guitar playing gave me hope that I could someday bash out those same types of chords and create something out of it!

14. Billy Zoom - X
Calm, cool and full of style! First saw X at the Hong Kong Cafe in Chinatown in Los Angeles in 1979 .... Billy left a huge impression on me. Two brown Fender Combo amps and that Gretsch Silver Jet. Not to mention the silver leather biker jacket. But his playing and sound were what did it for me. Still looks and sounds the same 35 years later.

Billy Zoom with X in 2013. (Cat Rose photo)

13. Guy Days - 999
1950s Les Paul Jr. and a JMP Marshall - simple and to the point. Mega style points!

12. Keith Richards - The Rolling Stones
Since we are talking style here.... The way he places notes and chords in his songs is incredible. And the riffs for days! I was a late bloomer on the Stones bandwagon.

11. George Harrison - The Beatles
His chording and songwriting to this day blow me away. Every time I pick up my favorite little ukulele (1926 Roy Smeck vita uke), the first thing that comes out is "Here Comes the Sun" and it makes me happy. 50 years later and I'm still smiling. Thank you, George !!!

10. East Bay Ray - The Dead Kennedys
Having been East Bay Ray's guitar tech in the past, I studied his every move from behind his amp. What I found amazing is, Ray would play a total piece of crap guitar - every show it was a different one - yet it ALWAYS sounded the same ..... What I learned from Ray was .... "It's not the guitar or amp .... It's you." I have held that near and dear for a lot of years and try to abide by that. I just haven't figured out how to make a Strat sound like a Les Paul Jr. Ray knows!!!

9. John McGeoch - Magazine, Siouxsie and the Banshees
Never got to see Magazine, but listened to "The Correct Use of Soap" over and over when I was teaching myself to play. Got to see John play with Siouxsie at the Whiskey or Starwood several nights. I'm still trying to steal his sound from those shows!

8. Bob Andrews - Generation X
The songs off that first record were so good.... I still don't know how he made a Strat sound like that. Tight and tasteful. Oh yeah, they were like 17 when they recorded "Kiss Me Deadly." Give me a break!!!

7. Frank and Rikk Agnew - The Adolescents
Not only because Rikk is wearing a TSOL shirt on the back of their debut record, but because the way the two of them (along with the great Steve Soto on bass) created this angry, melodic, driving chaos with their instruments. It was and is the Orange County sound. Rikk is pure genius on guitar - Frank is no joke, either. They are like MY generation's Angus and Malcom Young!

6. Andy Gill - Gang of Four
Seeing Andy play live, I wasn't sure if he was having a seizure or what! But his choppy, sporadic, abnormal playing style was mesmerizing. (I tried to copy it on "Love Story.") Huge influence on me!

5. Bob Bogle and Don Wilson - The Ventures
Having learned most of my chops from "Learn to Play Guitar with The Ventures," I have to include them in my list. The way the two of them played together rhythm and lead was so outstanding!!! I've always had a surf influence on my guitar playing because of those two. And those records are great.

4. Jimi Hendrix
Again, a late bloomer on Jimi.... My friend Skatemaster Tate turned me on to Jimi in 1983. I love listening to "Axis: Bold as Love" with headphones... So great!

3. Pat Smear - The Germs, Nirvana, Foo Fighters
I cut my teeth on "What We Do is Secret" and "GI." The guitar riff on "Richie Dagger's Crime" is it! Pat currently just plays in the background of the Foo Fighters .... I wonder what they sound like without him? I owe a lot of my sound to Pat. I actually had a Germs cover band called Germ Warfare: It featured Nicky Beat on drums, Abbey Roads on bass, Dick Rude as Darby and me as Pat Smear. Pat came up to me after a show and said, "Ron, we NEVER sounded that good"!!! I'm still trying to sound as good as those records.

2. Joe Strummer/Mick Jones - The Clash
When The Clash walked on stage at the Santa Monica Civic in 1979, I knew that I wanted to play guitar. They were not like any of the rock bands from the '70s. I believed what they were saying and that they meant what they were singing about. Joe and Mick (and Paul) seemed to intertwine together so well: Joe's choppy guitar, Mick's single notes and those great bass lines are why I started playing!

AND ...

The Captain ...Cat Rose photo from April 2017.

1. Captain Sensible - The Damned
Listen to these two masterpieces: "Machine Gun Etiquette" and "The Black Album."
Enough said!

Now, without Jim Kaa (The Crowd) and Mike Rubin (The Accidents) taking time to show me my very first chords, not sure what I would be doing right now. So, to them I am eternally grateful. All of the above mentioned artists are what I still strive to be.... Just not there yet!

Emory in 2015. (Cat Rose photo)