Friday, December 21, 2018

Quotes of Note from our 2018 interviews

 Tony Kinman (RIP), left, and Chip Kinman, right, with Ford Madox Ford. (Lisa Reed Kinman photo)

Chip Kinman, Ford Madox Ford and The Dils: "With The Dils, it was full speed ahead (like other punk bands), it was a lifestyle, that's all we did. You woke up, it wasn't like I'm gonna wake up and I'm not in The Dils until I go to rehearsal, I'm not in The Dils until I go to a show. You woke up and you're in The Dils. We lived in San Francisco, so it was really easy to have the feeling of revolution inside you -- musical, cultural and otherwise. Everything was new: the smell of roasting coffee was new, pesto was new, beatniks and poets who still lived in North Beach, that was new, Chinatown, all of that was new and all of that added to the sense of (cultural) revolution, like moving forward and this is real and I'm a young man and this is what I'm supposed to be doing. And that gave everything a real sense of urgency, a real sense of getting it done. And that lasted us for about a thousand nights, about three years and that was it. You always gotta know when to leave the party, and that's the trick."

(Chip's brother, bass-player and low-end vocalist extraordinaire Tony, passed away from cancer this year. Chip has some gigs planned with The Dils in the new year.)

James Williamson on his new album with the Pink Hearts: "Maybe the beauty and the strength of this album is that it's kind of old school in a lot of ways, but by the same token, it sounds oddly current at the same time.

"It's very diverse in the material and very listenable, which really to me is key because there's so many albums that you listen to three or four tracks and that's all you'll ever listen to. This one, I feel like you can listen to the whole thing, and you can keep listening to it and it doesn't really get that old."

Andrea Vidal, Holy Grove, on their new album: "For me, the album is a celebratory one despite the heavier sound and darker lyrics. I think when you listen to the album, you get a sense of just how excited and grateful we all were to be able to write this album. We’re not firmly entrenched in any one genre -- so for ‘II’ each of us were able to explore and create a sound that naturally represents Holy Grove as a band, and gives you some insight as to where we intend to take it."

Andy Cairns, Therapy?: "I can sometimes look at my parents or some other parents' friends or even contemporaries of mine who are nothing to do with music and they've got themselves in such a stale rut. Samuel Beckett the writer said one time that habit is a terrible deadener. It deadens all your senses and it deadens all your energy. I think he's true, if you just get into such a routine habit, then the attrition of just the everyday, the normal, it can just eat away at your soul, and you don't learn anything new, you don't feel as if you've grown.

"I love it whenever I see like people that are 60-70 taking up new languages or deciding to go free-falling from an airplane or deciding to run a marathon or something like that. These are the things that keep you active and keep you alive."

Lee Lawrence, Arctic Flowers: "For me it's rewarding to hone your craft and create with others. We've all become good friends and it feels great to create something that belongs to all of us. Performing is just fun and always a challenge to make it better each time, so I'm always motivated by trying to do better. I also like to create a feeling and an energy that can be shared with the audience. Seeing live music that's meaningful to be has been core to my existence and ability to survive in society and I love being able to catalyze that for others too."

Alfie Agnew, Professor and the Madman: "We decided, 'You know what? We don't care if nobody else on the planet likes what we do.' We're gonna do what we want, exactly how we want it, with who exactly we wanna do it. If we could get Paul Gray and Rat Scabies, that's because they're the perfect people for the music we're writing. Not because of anything else. You know, it's funny, because that's what Social D, the Adolescents and all those early bands did that made them so popular. They did what they wanted to do, there was no punk guide at the time, it was being invented. That's what I think has informed me the most."

Taiga Miyama, Criminal Code: "I think we all like writing songs, which is the plus of it. Also, I think we can all lock in on ideas of what we want and it's easy to talk about how we want to do a song or an album. I love punk songs, but it's easy to write them, so it's always a challenge to do something completely different. I think that's the important thing of being in a band, instead of just becoming a cookie-cutter, just writing the same stuff over and over."

Kenny Chambers on reforming Moving Targets: "It's kind of funny, I hadn't played Targets songs, and then when I did 'Less Than Gravity,' that kind of got me thinking, 'I gotta try and play these songs again now.' I was just out in the back yard with the electric and I started playing punk shit, because I was thinking when I was writing these songs and playing these songs, I was listening to punk rock. Started playing the first Dead Boys record and stuff like that.

"I'll be 55 this summer, so I gotta get my chops back."

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Record reviews: Western Star and Silver Screams

By Andy

Western Star: "Any Way How" LP

Saustex Records kingpin Jeff Smith told me this was gonna be a good one. After digging Western Star’s “Fireball,” my ears pricked up at the news of “Any Way How” cracking its way into existence. Simply put, this is crucial rock n’ roll with a razor-sharp country edge that can kick the shit out of most stuff on the planet these days. With J. Robbins on the Baltimore unit's side in the producing, engineering and mixing seat, WS’s Max Jeffers, Justin Myers, Bob Shade and Matt Milner have put themselves in a red-hot spot with these 10 tunes. The lyrics stick with ya, too, and “Part of the Deal” drives things home: “Once you spin the wheel you can never go back; You might land on red, you might land on black; But you learn real fast, you gotta be quick; And you’ve got to stick to your part of the deal.” (Saustex Records)

Silver Screams: “Alive in the Afterlife” EP

You can’t go wrong with Silver Screams. Whenever the Boston-based trio punches the clock, they deliver a batch of gritty, fist-pumping punk n’ roll tunes that leave you amped and ready to attack your day. Hammering on the heels of their stellar “Defective Machines” LP from 2017, the band uncorked the three-song “Alive in the Afterlife” EP in August and you’ll want to hit the repeat button a ton on this gem. The title track and “Stitches Up” jump into the fray first, and then comes the killer cover of Government Issue’s “Understand.” Yes, John Stabb (RIP) would be on board to the hilt with this choice from GI’s rockin’ “Joyride” LP from 1984. (Voodoo Lodge Records)

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Going 'Straight to the Hunter' with Arctic Flowers / Interview

Alex Carroccio unleashes her emotions with Arctic Flowers. (Cat Rose photo)

By Andy

It was one of those magical "fuck yeah" experiences.

Two-fold, in fact.

Arctic Flowers was slashing through its formidable docket of thought-provoking, emotion-clawing post-punk tunes at a packed Seattle bar. People were caught up in the moment, swaying and stomping along with the band, which was giving it back -- full force. And then the Portland group digs into a song I didn't expect to hear. Is that what's really blazing its way into our ears? I believe it is. "Dreamer" from Toxic Reasons from their unsung "Within These Walls" record, one that I thought nobody celebrated but me.

And now that song has taken on new life as part of the Arctic Flowers canon on its just-released album "Straight to the Hunter," and it bristles nicely alongside infectious numbers like "Glass on Ice," "Whip Hand," "Cabinet of Masks" and seven others. The album's got fervor and melody stamped all over it and the band has taken its genre-traversing sound to new heights on this one.

Here's an email interview with guitarist Stan Wright, bassist Lee Lawrence and singer Alex Carroccio regarding "Straight to the Hunter." Cliff Martin supplies the drums for the quartet.

** What does the new album mean to you?

Stan: "Straight To The Hunter" is our third full length LP over the 10-year existence of the band. It means perseverance through years of practicing, writing, playing shows together all coming together into this representation of our ideas, struggles and love. I feel like it's our best music and some of Alex's most moving lyrics.

Lee: It feels really good to see our process come to fruition. It means a lot to me that as a group we can create a piece of art together through a collaborate process.

Alex:  "STTH" is a culmination of our personal, and more than ever before, shared experiences in and out of the band space.


Arctic Flowers in action. (Cat Rose photo)

** What was the experience like from the songwriting process to the finish product?

Stan: It was a longer process this time. We experimented and took more time with songwriting and arrangement. Some songs came together right away while others were revisited over a year or more until they felt right.

Lee: We usually start from a basic verse and chorus framework and build around that. Usually, we develop bridges, intros and endings together by just trying different things and refining it over time. Once the song parts are flushed out, Cliff and I focus on making the drums and bass as synched up as possible. I also try to throw some weirdness in there for good measure. Other times, songwriting is pretty straight forward and comes together without a lot of extra nuance. When we recorded, though, we were still refining parts of "Husk," while other songs like "Glass on Ice" we'd been playing for more than three years.

It took a while to finish the record after we recorded in May and we decided to put out the record ourselves as we are able to distribute record fairly independently with good networks and knowledge of our musical genre. Stan and Alex both are involved in putting out other records and distributing them through their own labels and distros.

Alex: I think the hard times that set on for me during this album made the whole process warp into some sort of dreamy haze. It probably manifested lyrically into more personal lyrics.


** What makes being in the band special? What drives you to write and then perform your songs?

Stan: Being in a band in general is such an awesome thing to me. I love being in Arctic Flowers with three other creative, fun people so much.

I love the writing process and practice is something I look forward to every week. I've written and performed music in different capacities over the past 25 years. I can't imagine not making music. I think we're simply trying to convey and share emotions and ideas with others and have some fun. Performing live is the best feeling in the world, totally unlike anything else I've experienced. I love sharing the music we've made with others and interacting with the crowd.

Lee: For me it's rewarding to hone your craft and create with others. We've all become good friends and it feels great to create something that belongs to all of us. Performing is just fun and always a challenge to make it better each time, so I'm always motivated by trying to do better. I also like to create a feeling and an energy that can be shared with the audience. Seeing live music that's meaningful to be has been core to my existence and ability to survive in society and I love being able to catalyze that for others too.

Alex: Being in the band is special because I’m with my friends working on something that belongs to us. I feel the need to be creative for many reasons but the emotional health benefits have maybe been the most surprising.


** What have you learned on a personal level from being in the band?

Lee: I've learned (and am still learning) to be open and flexible in a collaborative process. I think it's important to be reflective on how you impact others and working on a project in a band is where collaboration is really tested. Things don't always turn out like you think they will in the songwriting process and that's not a bad thing. It usually turns out better through the collaborative process. It just takes time to see it through.

Alex: Since I’d never sang (sung? Lol.) in a band before…I have learned that I can get that personal in a public forum. It’s taught me that the scariest stuff is usually the stuff that ends up being the most satisfying or sticks with you the longest.

fox in coop, capsule in wine
all of the sudden I feel as though I have no spine
snake in grass, glass on ice
once great beast taken by the heist

I am but skin on bones
frightened to be alone
hot coal ash and stone
into the wind I'm blown
into dark water thrown

pretty birds sing a devious song
shadow play carries on
a simple wish to become strong
but in the snare I'm already strung
in the snare I'm already hung
in the snare I've already run straight to the hunter

what can you trust when instinct has you flee
straight to the hunter

one step to the left and it all goes away

oh how I've felt it in my bones
you must have known, no way to hide my insides my face it always shows
this curse, curtains, the lows this blow that blight
the ones who struggle everyday just to feel alive

next time wont be the last time
one step to the left and it all goes away
a pace to the right and I embrace another day

toeing the line, sun hit my face
constantly walk with one foot in my grave

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Machine Animal and Shark Jump at the Shanty Tavern / Cat Rose photos

Machine Animal. (All Cat Rose photos)

Man, we hadn't stepped foot into the Shanty Tavern on Lake City Way in Seattle for a while, not since roaring country and punk shows from The Shivering Denizens, Criss Crass and others.

It was time for TSHIT's return to that hallowed ground, and how can you refrain from witnessing the stompin' and hammerin' garage-rock-surf pairing of Bellingham's Machine Animal and Shark Jump? The walls are surely still shakin' from the Megalodon-sized sounds. We thought The Fonz would be DJ'ing, but he wasn't to be found. Next time, huh?

Here's some Cat Rose photos from the evening of Nov. 16: