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.


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.'


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.


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.


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! 


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.


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?


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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)


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.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

10 photos for 10 years: Cat Rose spotlight

Elijah Nelson, Black Breath

To mark our 10 years in the blog realm, we've decided to showcase Cat Rose's top 10 photos for the decade to snuff out a jarring 2020. Cat put in a superior effort to nail these stellar shots, in which you can absorb the emotions displayed from each player. 

RIP Kim Shattuck and Elijah Nelson.

Kim Shattuck, The Muffs

Dimitri Coats, OFF!

Nate Wagner, Electric Citizen

Scott Hill, Fu Manchu

Nancy Wilson, Heart

Gregg Emley, Holy Grove

Dan Kubinski, Die Kreuzen


Captain Sensible, The Damned

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Bass in your face: Four-stringers discuss their craft, jokes

Ron Martinez of the Lower Class Brats. (Andy photo)

By Andy

I am not a bass player. 

However, I do feel that I can tug at the strings a bit to make a cool noise every once in a while.

The first time I played a bass was at my friend Joe's house in Hermosa Beach, Calif., circa 1981. He phoned me up one Saturday and said he had been given a bass and it was sitting right there in his bedroom. I immediately relived the moment when I saw DOA's raging four-stringer Randy Rampage manhandling his instrument and then chucking it against the back wall of the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium a few weeks earlier. I want to play a bass, no doubt.

"Play 'Six Pack,'" my brother, Ed, told me as I headed out the door toward Joe's bedroom where the magical bass now resided.   

I tried to mimic Chuck Dukowski's snaky moves and play the intro to Black Flag's "Six Pack," but I fell short, of course. At least I got the chance to hammer away at the bass for the afternoon. Joe tried, too, but it sounded awful. We soon pushed the bass aside and headed down to the beach for the rest of the day. We'd watch some real bass players do the job right at the next gig, we thought.

Face it, those major ragers on the four-string motherfuckers are the unsung heroes of bands. There are jokes and memes that rag on every band member, but the bass ones are certainly the most widespread cracks over the 'net. Why is that? 'Cause they only have to handle four strings as opposed to six? Not all bassists hide out at the back of the stage, either, like Judas Priest's Ian Hill, who can deliver the chops better than your local steakhouse any day. So why are they the butt of copious jokes? Who cares, right? As long as they're getting the job done, that's all any band requires.

A pair of gems from The Hard Times newsdesk can garner a load of chuckles: "Irresponsible Musicians Leave Bassist in Hot Van" and "Band Photographer Suggests One Photo Without Bassist Just in Case."

Bassists find these jokes funny, and how can you not laugh at yourself as your days in this world fly by? 

There's Something Hard in There tackled the hard-pressing issue of bass jokes with our friends who make things thump. We also delved into their craft, which hopefully they'll be able to bring to a stage near you soon.

Seriously, there's so much covered within these nine players' insight that this could work as a sort of guide for new and veteran bassists. It's serious, funny and inspiring all in one.

Ron Martinez -- Lower Class Brats

** Do you get a good laugh out of those jokes?

What’s the difference between a bass and an onion? No one cries when you chop up a bass.  

We’ve all seen the memes and jokes about how useless a bass player is in band food chain. I didn’t choose the bass 'cause I thought it got me more attention. Truth be told, I bought one 'cause I assumed it would be a lot easier to come up with music ideas to then show to my bandmates (2 less strings!!). I never intended to play the damn thing in a band. That changed when my buddies' group needed a quick replacement and I was asked. I guess they assumed I was going to be easier to get along with than the previous guy who was a pretty wild card. To be honest, I like playing bass more than being a frontman. I get to create and perform music and not have to be the center of attention for the live audience. Win/win. 

And boy if you ever wanted to be treated like a red-headed step child by your band's fans... definitely play the bass or drums!!! No one wants to talk to the rhythm section. Everyone wants to hang out and speak with the singer or guitarist (in that order), it’s pretty hilarious. 

I actually get a kick out of the memes and jokes, 'cause most are goddamn hilarious and if you can’t laugh at yourself then find a new line of work/hobby. Besides any real music fan knows the importance of bass.  Any critics who honestly think my 4-string brethren are irrelevant have shown they don’t know jackshit about music, period. You don’t read countless amounts of commentary about the lack of kick drum or guitar on Metallica’s “And Justice.. “ LP do you? Imagine the Stranglers without JJ Burnell on the bass... (actually don’t, forget I ever said that.) 

** What are the qualities that make for a solid bass player?

I couldn’t imaging hearing The Jam without Bruce Foxton’s cleverly placed fretboard acrobatics.  Real Talk: For most rock music, bass doesn’t need to be flashy. Heck.. AC/DC’s bass lines are basic as hell, but they provide that much needed bottom end to the timing foundation that helps push the music. Any musician will tell ya, a group with a solid bass/drum section is going to deliver their music (complex or basic) with more drive and power. I call it the Tom Warrior factor.. making the music go “Hey!!!”  “Ughh!!”.  A solid punch in the gut. 

** Who are your influences?

I like bass playing that doesn’t overdo it with dancing all over the fretboard trying to show up the rest of the band. JJ Burnell does it just right... he knows when to keep things simple and when to add a little somethin’ somethin' to the song. Peter Hook is another fave... so many iconic baselines yet very primal. Rainy from Discharge is drastically overlooked as well, I like his playing a lot. 

** What's your go-to bass?

Currently my go to basses are a '80s Japanese Fender J Bass and a Squire Jaguar. I’ve modded both basses with improvements to the neck, bridge and use Lace pickups. Eventually I’m gonna get an American P Bass -- Olympic white just like Dee Dee Ramone, it’s my bucket list bass. 

** What's the best bass line you've ever heard?

Best bass line I’ve ever heard?? Hard to choose, but a few that quickly come to mind: Geezer Butler’s opening on Sabbath's "N.I.B," has been known to make me play air-bass, the intro to Black Flag's “Six Pack” I really like the bassline on Elvis Costello’s version of “What’s So Funny Bout’ Peace Love and Understanding” too. I could go on forever...  


Heather Millward -- The Riffbrokers

(Cat Rose photo)

** Do you get a good laugh out of those jokes?

 I’m absolutely in love with bass player jokes. I tell them often myself, but I’m hella self deprecating in general, so those are right up my alley. My favorite one is so oddly specific: How many bass players does it take to change a lightbulb? 5? 1? 4? Terribly nerdy, I know.

** What are the qualities that make for a solid bass player?

As far as bass playing qualities, my intent is always to be as rock solid as possible. Despite my deep admiration for Mike Watt, my bass playing instincts couldn’t be more different. I’d say I’m much more informed by bass playing such as Toody Cole’s and Kim Deal’s. The strange thing about my own bass playing is that my approach sounds like someone who plays with a pick, but I don’t. I really chalk that up to growing up and going to shows in Boise. There was this weird unspoken thing in the early '90s there with bass players. No one really played with a pick, and when I got my first bass I just assumed that as a rule, you played with your fingers. Because of that, my few attempts with it has a real sensation like I’m attempting to play with a prosthetic foot. Woo! 

** Who are your influences?

Like many people my age, when I first heard the Pixies “Gigantic,” I was leveled. It was so beautifully economic and melodic. I wanted to play bass. Really bad. I was in the 8th grade and my friend’s older brother had given us each a copy of "Surfer Rosa" and "Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars.” My own older sister had introduced me to Bauhaus and MDC a couple years earlier, so I’d already had my first taste of punk and such. This all made me feel like I’d landed on a treasure chest. I couldn’t ingest music fast enough. I’d proclaimed to anyone who listened that my favorite bass player was Kim, and my favorite guitar player was Mick Ronson. I was in the 8th grade, as I noted, so I felt deeply sophisticated in small town Montana. Oddly enough, my first instrument was guitar, but bass was always my true love. 

** What's the best bass line you've ever heard?

There are so many bass lines that strike me that I don’t know where to start, but I’d like to also mention that one of my most favorite players I know personally is Jim Sangster. His approach is so bloody perfect and powerful; absolute melody. 


Marc Maxey -- Sloth Fist, Justice League, Pollen Art, Blender and The Killing Flame

(From Maxey's Facebook page. Craig Dobie photo)

** Do you get a good laugh out of those jokes?

Bassist memes are funny. I just put on my guitar / vocalist hat when reading them!

** What are the qualities that make for a solid bass player? 

Rhythm and timing, and locking in with the drummer. To me the right hand is more important than the left (for right-handed players).

** Who are your influences? 

Lemmy, Brian Baker, Dee Dee Ramone, Keith Brammer from Die Kruezen.

** What's your go-to bass? 

Fender P-Bass, all I've ever played.

** What's the best bass line you've ever heard?

"Sold Out" by Gang Green. I warm up with this every show.


Erin Mountain -- Society Dog

(Cat Rose photo)

** Do you get a good laugh out of those jokes?

I think those jokes are funny as hell! My favorite is the death metal band that resorted to cannibalism and ate their bassist because they were stuck on the side of the road for a couple hours with van problems.

** What are the qualities that make for a solid bass player?

You know it when you hear it. It's not technical proficiency or the notes played, it's how they are played. James Brown called it, you gotta hit "the one." They must be effective. Some wank too much as if they wish they were a guitarist, and that often sacrifices efficacy and power while interrupting the frequencies of the other parts. Maybe we're made fun of because to some, the bass lines can be seemingly simple or an afterthought. Fuck that.

** Who are your influences?

The Ox (Entwistle) was an early favorite when I was a kid, and later seeing that footage when he wore that skeleton suit was so rad. Geezer tears it up on "Fairies Wear Boots" and "Hand of Doom," those hit me early on.

I also grew up around a lot of old soul. I really liked the groove of the early Eddie Hazel guitar era of Funkadelic, which featured Billy "Bass" Nelson on bass and before all the fart synth sounds. The Meters (George Porter Jr.), Sly & the Family Stone (Larry Graham), so killer. You know, the deep groove stuff that sounded so bad ass, scare a square. The simplicity of the '70s dub/reggae players like Flabba Holt is so damn powerful.

Chuck Dukowski, damn. "American Waste" "What I See," "Modern Man" or "No More" are huge.

Dave Chavez is the ruler from here in the bay. Every band he's been in is solid and he's been in so many great ones (Verbal Abuse, Sick Pleasure, Code of Honor, Hot Rod Shopping Cart, SOSA, etc. etc.) plus he's a cool guy and killer skater. "Play like you skate," he told me years ago.

** What's your go-to bass?

I love the Peavey T-40. I've had my 1978 for almost thirty years and it's all I need. It's a big heavy fucker (so am I, I guess), and a bass should be. Good deep tones, I suppose similar to the original p-bass. I'm not a gear guy or collector. I bring my hammer to work. If my hammer were to break, I'll have to get another one.

** What's the best bass line you've ever heard?

I bet most will throw down some fluid hardcore dude or even a jazz guy. I'll  go with the first time I saw Flipper, Will was still alive but I can't remember if Will or Bruce was on bass that night. But they opened with "Life" and it blew my young mind. Early show for me, and I still get chills in a good way when I hear that tune. Simple, overdriven, and nasty with an excellent beat.


Gregg Emley -- Holy Grove

(Cat Rose photo)

 ** Do you get a good laugh out of those jokes? 

Yeah, I don't really mind 'em. If you can't laugh at yourself, well...

** What are the qualities that make for a solid bass player? 

For me, it's feel, note choice, and the ability to lock in with the drummer.  

** Who are your influences? 

Not all of these find their way into my playing, but my faves are: Cliff Burton, Geezer Butler, Scott Reeder, Al Cisneros, Geddy Lee, Rick Danko, Aston Barrett, John Wetton and Phil Lesh.

** What's your go-to bass? 

My main is a 2002 Rickenbacker 4003. I've replaced the bridge with a Hip Shot for increased sustain and punch. My back-up is a '76 Fender Jazz.

** What's the best bass line you've ever heard?  

Hmmm....too hard to pick one, but some favorites are Geddy's playing on "Cygnus X1", Joe Lally from Fugazi on "Joe #1", and most anything Scott Reeder plays on "Sky Valley"


Bill Tuck -- Diyu

(Cat Rose photo)

** Do you get a good laugh out of those jokes?

Honestly many of those joke are justified. Many bass players act very self involved as if they are the most important musician ever, just watch some bass-centric videos on YouTube (tutorials, equipment reviews, etc. I even saw a guy wearing a shirt of himself!)  and you will find a treasure trove of douchebaggery at its finest (or worst depending on your viewpoint). Generally speaking, I could care less about the jokes because I know they’re not about me.

** What are the qualities that make for a solid bass player?

Qualities for a solid bass player are those who know how to lay in the pocket and follow the drummer at the most important times of a song and add a little extra at the appropriate time. This quality, in my experience is mainly found in hardcore/punk circles and hard bop jazz. Busy bass players don’t really work for me but boring, unimaginative are way worse.

** Who are your influences?

I have so many but here are a few guys who really influenced me to play bass:

Paul Zamost -- The Effigies.  When I first heard the "Haunted Town" EP, I was completely blown away by his chops. His style and swing is unmatched. His playing only continued to become a more important part of The Effigies sound as they progressed in future recordings.

Geezer Butler -- Black Sabbath.  Geezer has a way of bringing out his personality through his bass playing. He is a classic Brit who played guitar moving to bass (like Noel Redding) and brought the bass to a whole different level especially during the Dio period of Sabbath where Geezer’s playing really shined through.

Mikey Offender -- The Offenders.  Just listen to MDC’s first album (he played bass on that record) and the "Endless Struggle" album. Mikey was a solid yet highly skilled player that had a lot of finesse in his playing. It shined without overshadowing the rest of the band.

Eric Wood -- Man is the Bastard. Eric’s playing is akin to the free jazz era of Coltrane set to fast as hell beats. One could consider it chaos, but with a more refined ear you will hear a player who is consistently trying to bring it next level in terms of skill and chops with his own originality.

Scott Carlson -- Ancient Altar.  Scott’s playing is while original, evokes influences of Steve Harris and Geezer Butler. He really knows how to play the right notes to anchor the guitar and drums without all the bells and whistles that others might inject into their sound.

** What's your go-to bass?

1983 B.C. Rich NJ Bich Bass with GZR Pickups and an early '80s Custon FalCar Bass also with GZR pickups (they sound killer!)

** What's the best bass line you've ever heard?

It’s definitely Geezer Butler on "Sign of the Southern Cross." His minor but important solo really grabs my ass and starts shaking it not to mention the rest of the song!


Doug Carrion -- Field Day, Dag Nasty and Descendents

(Photo by Josh Coffman)

** Do you get a good laugh out of those jokes?

I’d agree musicians are generally a funny bunch and also I recognize there are zillions of variations that constitute a decent musician and or player. Although bass players can end up on the wrong side of a joke, it is after all a joke and I’m not overly rattled in any way by the jab. If you spend your day creating “why did the chicken cross the road jokes” who am I to judge?  Generally speaking in life I have a tendency to stay in my own lane and the same can be applied to my style of bass playing. The question I constantly ask myself is “how best to service a particular song?”

** What are the qualities that make for a solid bass player?

That depends on the genre of music, time, budgets, needs, on and on.

Let’s break it down into major parts: 90% is personality and professionalism, and 10% is actual skillset and playing ability which must equal dragon's layer status.

Example -- Paul McCartney kills it in both areas: Regarding the 10% skills and ability, you might not even notice he’s a great bass player because he’s staying in his own lane and servicing the songs based on what’s needed. That’s the genius part of his playing. Tina Weymouth would be another example. Less is more = MORE :)

Simplicity vs. busy -- Right hand vs, the left hand (assuming you’re a right handed player). DeeDee Ramone: the right hand does all the work, which is perfect for their band. Matt Rancid: both right and left hands working overtime, which is perfect for breaks and counterpoints to the songs.

Listen to Rufus & Chaka Khan "Tell Me Something Good": The genius to this part is the lack of notes, which creates the solid pocket. It takes discipline to stay in your own lane and play simple.

Bernard Edwards from Chic, listen to Le "Freak." They start with a chorus intro -- he is literally playing and repeating 2 notes for the first 25 seconds of the song, but once the verse kicks in, the bass part is rock solid. He's playing a crazy complicated bass part in the verse only to come back to the 2 notes in the chorus, which makes it feel like a breakdown. FUCKING GENIUS - if you like funk.

** Who are your influences?

Players I appreciate can range depending on the style of music I’m listening to but that’s not necessarily how I play, it’s just what I notice. Carol Kaye, Mike Watt, Charlie Hunter, Charlie Porter, any of the above bass players they all rock. My influences are more based on a “what” vs. a “who.”  I’m influenced by simple minimalistic lines on paper, in art, in a song, in a photograph, it’s the balance within the song that I’m striving for.  

** What's your go-to bass?

As of late, a Fender Mustang bass with the PJ pickup configuration. It’s amazingly light and growls just enough to cut through distorted guitars both live and in the studio. Winner!!

** What's the best bass line you've ever heard?

Not sure, but the best bass line I heard today is Kool and the Gang's "Jungle Boogie."


Pat Hoed -- Santa Sabbath, Nip Drivers, Down By Law, Left Insane, God's Gift to God, Black Widows, Slowrider and Foreign Object.

(Courtesy of Hoed)

** Do you get a good laugh out of those jokes?

I get a tremendous kick out of those jokes. Offense is never taken! I always liked the bass player jokes better than the drummer jokes. In fact, my recent favorite is the one about the band forgetting about the bass player and he or she was still locked up in the van. You know the old saying, "If you can't laugh at yourself..."

** What are the qualities that make for a solid bass player?

I think the most common answer you'll hear is that a solid bass player has good "feel." Yes, that's cliche at this point but it remains true! Learning to play and interact well with different drummers helps to develop that skill. And when it comes to heavy, aggressive music, the bass player has no choice but to lead the charge. A good example of this is Tufty Clough's playing on the classic Zero Boys LP, "Vicious Circle." To quote the great SST roadmaster Davo Claasen, "You are the drivah!"

** Who are your influences?

James Jamerson, Geezer Butler, Graham Maby, Jeff Berlin.

** What's your go-to bass?

Fender Precision hands down!!

** What's the best bass line you've ever heard?

Toss up between "Teen Town" (Weather Report) and "Darling Dear" (Jackson 5). I'm sure I'll think of others long after I've sent this but these are the ones that came to mind first. Cheers!


Mike Catts -- Redshift

Catts in the center. (Cat Rose photo)

** Do you get a good laugh out of those jokes?

I think it's always important to not take yourself too seriously, so memes like that are cool -- especially if they're on point. Some of my favorite musician jokes make fun of bassists. That said, there's never been a shortage of people taking cheap shots, so I think (as bass players) we're pretty used to taking it all in stride. 

** What are the qualities that make for a solid bass player?

The best players are always focused and listening to the rest of the group, not just tearing through the songs. Bass is kind of unique in that it helps to establish/advance both the harmony and rhythm and there can be a lot of opportunities to overstep your bounds. Keeping that balance by really paying attention to what's happening on stage and only trying to add what's needed is important, in my opinion. And showing up on time and not causing problems are also key, even though that's super basic.

** Who are your influences?

When I was a kid I listened to a bunch of early Motown with my Pop, so James Jamerson and all that usual type of stuff for sure. Also, coming from a jazz background, I'm always trying to channel a little Monk, Mingus, P. C., Ron Carter and Christian McBride, no matter what I'm playing. When it comes to harder/funkier stuff, I'd have to say players like Tim Commerford, Flea, Adam Yauch, Bootsy Collins, Vic Wooten and Thundercat. 

** What's your go-to bass?

For all things rock, I had really been enjoying my '77 Fender Musicmaster. It's really fun to play, light weight, and sounds great in those live settings -- but since the start of the pandemic most of my recordings at home have been on my late '90s Warwick Thumb bass. 

** What's the best bass line you've ever heard?

That's a tough question, but I'd have to say the song "Flash Light" by Parliament because that tone is so nice and that track still hits every time. I've seen all types of folks get down to that bass line, so there has to be something to it.

Monday, December 7, 2020

I and I Survive: New Bad Brains reissues coming your way

HR may not be back-flipping in your kitchen or diving on top of you near the living-room couch, but the Bad Brains' music will soon be roaring at you full throttle after receiving the restoration and remaster treatment.

After winning the rights back to most of their catalog, the Bad Brains have formed their own label, Bad Brains Records, and have partnered with Org Music to reissue a handful of hardcore gems. Dave Gardner mastered the audio at Infrasonic Mastering and the records were pressed at Furnace Record Pressing. Org will manufacture, distribute and market the records.

So, if your original "Bad Brains" yellow cassette tape has finally broken in half from copious runs through the machine, or if that "Rock for Light" album is scratched to hell, this is your place to reload on some crucial tuneage. You can attempt a back flip while reliving your glory days at the front of the stage if you want, but that's your call.  

Here's the formidable list of offerings:

* "Pay to Cum" single

* "Bad Brains" album

* "I and I Survive" EP

* "Rock for Light" album

* "Quickness" album

* "The Youth are Getting Restless" (Live 1987 at the Paradiso, Amsterdam) album

* "Omega Sessions" EP

* "Live at the Fillmore" 1982 album

The self-titled, "Rock for Light" and "Quickness" albums will also be available in a limited “Punk Note” edition with alternate packaging artwork from designer John Yates (Stealworks) on a special color pressing. The Blue Note-style covers recognize that label's influential artists Reid Miles and Francis Wolff and transport fans visually back even further in music history. From jazz to punk and reggae -- not a bad ride.

For full details, visit

Saturday, December 5, 2020

The Avengers and Mudhoney / Unseen photos

The Avengers (All TSHIT photos)


Since most of 2020 has been a bust for shows, we've dug into some of our unseen photos of the double-trouble bill of The Avengers and Mudhoney on Feb. 9, 2019 at the Ritz in San Jose.


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Looking back -- and forward -- with The Last's 'Look Again' album / Joe Nolte interview

By Andy

There was a time in the 1980s when Joe Nolte from The Last lived just a block away from my family in Redondo Beach, Calif. We lived on Steinhart Avenue and Nolte resided on Goodman Avenue in the north area of the city near the mysterious sump.

I didn't know this until I spoke with Nolte on a recent Monday morning over the phone, but it would have been cool if the local musicians' guild had informed me of this back then (haha). 

When we were kids, our crew called itself the "Steinhart Stompers." We referred to our neighbors down the hill as the "Goodman Geeks." Just dumb kid stuff, and obviously, pre-Nolte, so he wasn't part of our heckling in the '70s. He probably would have kicked our asses back then.

Anyway, in nearby Hermosa Beach, The Last began churning out its multi-pronged pop-punk-surf-garage amalgamation in 1976, knocked out a few solid singles and then unleashed the classic "L.A. Explosion!" album in 1979.  

The band recorded a second album, "Look Again," in 1980, but it never officially saw the light of day -- about 80 copies were pressed, with 40 going to fans and record labels. That long-lost gem finally has its day in the sun after being remixed and remastered and eventually released on Nov. 20 on House Arrest/Fat Possum Records. It features a dozen songs, plus a pair of bonus tracks, that have been itching to wedge their way into listeners' ears for the last 40 years. 

Nolte (guitar/lead vocals) wrote eight of the songs, Vitus Mataré (keyboards, flute) penned four of them -- they collaborated on one -- and The Gun Club's Jeffrey Lee Pierce (RIP) chipped in with one. It's a stellar package of tunes that jolt the emotions and bring you right back into The Last's lair at the turn of a new decade in 1980. Joe was originally joined in The Last by his brothers Mike (backing and lead vocals) and David (bass and lead vocals) along with drummers Jack Reynolds (original era) and John Frank ("Look Again" era).

With The Descendents' Bill Stevenson and Karl Alvarez drummin' and bassin' in The Last, along with Joe and Mike, in 2013, the band powered through "Look Again" and another 1980 track "Difference" on the "Danger" album. That was some full-circle action since Stevenson was a disciple of The Last in the early days. Still is.

The Last's current lineup features Joe, James Nolte (keyboard, vocals), Philo Van Duyne (guitar), Lisa Torres (bass) and Paul Rucker (drums). James is David's son and Joe's nephew, and Torres is Joe's wife.

When I spoke with Joe, 64, he was nestled in his San Pedro home, not far from where he grew up in Palo Verdes before his family moved to Hermosa.

Let's roll the tape on this lengthy trip into the world of The Last:

*** So I guess the main thing is, why release the record now?. "Look Again," it's been sitting there for a while. 

Yes it has. 

I've been trying and this is something I've wanted to do for, oh I don't know, 40 years. (laughs) Oh gosh, yes. Where and how to start the story. Let's see, I'm taking you with me as I go grab a sip of coffee because, I must. 

Let's see. Well, basically, "Look Again" was going to be our follow up to "L.A. Explosion!" We recorded it in the spring of 1980. Greg Shaw, we were still with Bomp! You know, Greg had been great about getting "L.A. Explosion!" out, didn't have the resources to fund a second studio album. And so we decided to kind of do it independently and see what kind of deal we could cut.

And so we cut a deal with the new studio, new producer and (long pause) that's kind of why it's taken 40 years, basically, it didn't work out like it was supposed to.

"L.A. Explosion!" I'd kind of dominated. I had pretty much arranged frequently note for note most of the parts on the album, for most of the instruments and everything. I had done the lion's share of the production supervision. And, you know, Vitus felt bad about that. And so I said, "OK, you get the next album, I'll just stay out of the studio, I'll just let you do it."

And so I set him up for a horrible experience because I didn't even find out for a while that what happened was the producer would not let him touch the console. He was kept to a silent sideline role.

It was awful. The excuse the producer later uttered was it was for insurance reasons so nobody could touch the console, which was of course, bullshit. 

*** So that didn't happen. And then you guys took a break probably not too long after that, right?

It was the beginning of the end, see "Look Again" was like the culmination. I was writing some of my best stuff. We were at the top of the clubs in L.A. For a very brief moment in time, that is, but everything was was going really good. And it was just like leading up to "Look Again" and then "Look Again" didn't turn out. I did a lot of double-tracked vocals and guitars that, put together would create the effects I wanted, only to be led to believe that they mostly were not kept. So that was a great disappointment. Producer had the great idea that we'll have a guitar on one side, on one speaker, and then we'll have the organ on the other speaker. Idiot. 

Well, basically, we ended up with a record that sounded terrible. And the L.A. Times ran an article subsequently on why aren't all these bands getting record deals. Referencing the top, you know, sort of like pop-punk bands like X and us and people. Somebody actually said that their record, which sounded horrible, set them way back.

We made vinyl discs of "Look Again" and sent them out as demos to all the labels. And there was, I think even a few, some went out to longtime fans and stuff, too. But anyway, it was a disaster. We didn't like how it sounded and apparently none of the labels did, either. So that was it, it was a horrible disappointment. And basically that just killed me. That was my Brian Wilson "Smile" moment. It's like I was on top and going, going, going, and all of a sudden, "kaboom," you know, the rug was pulled out from under me. We had failed. And it was just going to end. All of a sudden, instead of a unified band under my autocratic control, we had five different guys with five different ideas on which direction to go in.

And I lost a lot of control. There were a lot of fights. And it's nobody's fault because we suddenly no longer had a direction. (In the early '80s) we're able to headline the Whisky and stuff frequently, and then do other shows, so we appear to be like a still successful band, but we're getting worse by the week.

***How many of those copies did you send out?

Oh, gosh, I'm not sure, maybe 40. I mean, there were under a hundred there. I think there was only like 80 that were pressed. 

We ended up making a deal to like finish off our contract with Bomp!, where they put out an EP consisting of three songs, which we had our "LA Explosion!" producer came in and remixed the three songs that we chose from the unreleased "Look Again" album. And then we had also recorded the song "Fade to Black," which was supposed to be in the movie and didn't make the final cut.

Yeah, that was the "Fade to Black" EP that came out on Bomp! in '82 and we gave them that and that took care of the contract, and by this time we've been able to gain possession, which we hadn't had, of the "Look Again" tapes. Unfortunately, the tapes that were used were bad. It was like, 1980 was a particularly bad time for recording tape and the tapes were already degrading severely. So we didn't dare even try to play 'em.

And so they sat, and I mean, they sat and they sat, gosh, there was, you know, SST, I talked to Greg (Ginn) in the mid '80s about maybe putting the thing out, that didn't quite pan out. By the '90s, there were good baking techniques by which you can run the tapes once and transfer them digitally.

And that's basically it. You know, it's your one chance to save them, save the mixes and so I wanted to do that. And that became just a question of financing, and is anybody going to put it out? So we get to the early aughts, around 2002, I think. Anyway, Greg Shaw and I had gone from like almost daily phone calls and then to a period of animosity because he was the label guy that couldn't deliver what we needed, which is sort of like putting out releases and promotion and stuff because, well, he just couldn't because the realities of the business.

And by 2002, all that was water under the bridge. And we were emailing each other regularly. Well, we actually had given Bomp! "L.A. Explosion!" to put out properly on CD. And so now Greg and I were in talks about "Look Again." Let's do "Look Again." And so we were talking about what form that would take. And one night I was writing him a really, kind of a long email about my current thoughts about what could be done with "Look Again."

And my email server just like crashed, died. Died forever. I couldn't recover any of our correspondence and found out subsequently that that very night Greg Shaw had died. I hadn't even realized that there had been anything wrong. So that was devastating. And so that killed "Look Again" at that time. Anyway, my wife Lisa, who's also our current bass player, suggested that it would be appropriate to try to get "Look Again" out for the 40th anniversary. Yeah, that sounds good. 

And I said, let's just make a copy of the demo album, because again, I figure how much better could we make it sound?

That was my idea just to go ahead, burn the disc and get it out, and so I ended up getting Vitus and Randall (Wixen), who was our manager back in '79 and '80. And so we were all sort of like involved in trying to figure out how to do this. And Vitus was stubborn and adamant and said, "No, no, we need to clean it up. We can make it sound good." And, oh, I am forever grateful to Vitus for being so stubborn and adamant. Jonny Bell did the mixing, the restoring and did an amazing job. (John Strother did some baking and transferring as well.) 

Vitus and Jonny had just completed the baking and submitted some preliminary mixes when the pandemic hit. I've been out of the house once since February. So basically, "Oh, crap." It was gonna be mixing by email. So it's like, Jonny would do the mixes. He actually did 'em and I thought, "I guess this is as good as it's gonna get. It is what it is."

And my wife again said, "Nah ... If it's not right, try to get it right." And I'm thinking how I've been a failure for 40 years (laughs). But anyway, as it turned out, Randall wasn't happy with the mixes, either. So, I gave instructions: bring this up, bring that down, get rid of this, add this -- just a few things for Jonny to try.

And then he mentioned something. He said, "Yeah, there were a lot of extra vocal and guitar tracks, but I'm assuming those are just duplicates." Ah, ha. Oh my God, the lost tracks, they didn't get erased. So, what I said was, "Put 'em all in, put everything in, let's hear what we've got, and then we can, like, mess around." And I really, honestly, I didn't know what to expect and how much was going to have to be done balance-wise.

But, yeah, it's impossible to convey how I felt when subsequently I get these mixes of "Look Again" that I've never, ever heard. It was insane and it was good. It was like premixed, although I suspect that Jonny had to have done some fader action here and there. But my God, yeah, it's like the added parts suddenly made everything make sense.

We had one song called "Weekend Girl," which is on the "Look Again" album now as a bonus that we left off of the demo because it sounded so bad. Now it's one of the strongest songs. But it's like every song is greatly improved. Every song has something that wasn't on the original mix. I'm ecstatic. We're not likely to be teen idols any time soon (laughs).

***How great to give this album, this 40-year album, to give it new life and to have it even better than what you thought it would have been back then. That's insane. 

Oh, way, way better. Yeah. This is vindication, you know, because I couldn't remember having not had a chance to even hear the tracks. I didn't remember what I'd done. And just indications like, "Oh, we hadn't lost our minds." We could make music that sounded like music. I was so ecstatic, and I remain ecstatic. The hardest thing was to kind of keep it under wraps, not tell anybody, you know, so it's not like to kind of blow the surprise prematurely.

We had to wait for manufacturing. And we've got a nice CD booklet. And if I hadn't had to edit what everybody contributed to the booklet, it would have turned into an actual book. So obviously we had to severely curtail what we wanted to say, which you, as a journalist, know that all too well. And you say, and I'm sure you get to the point rather quickly, where you start self-editing, knowing how it's going to end up.

***This is interesting because this album, it took a while for it to finally become realized. Do you ever think back? You know, what could have been, at that time, if everything would have worked out and the album came out back then the way it is now?

Who knows what would have happened. One always has to fantasize about, "Oh yeah, we could have been Beatles" or whatever.

***The point being is that it's here now and it sounds amazing in your ears and I'm sure people are gonna love it.

You know, what I was going to say is like if we had made it back then, we'd be has-beens anyway by now. If I'd made a lot of money back then, I would have spent it by now. It does end up working out, but, yeah, I'm really happy it's coming out. Mostly it's vindication that we were for one brief shining moment on the right track.

*** Sometimes you just need to wait it out until it finally kind of falls into place. You know, life is kind of weird that way.

It's just a stroke of luck that the tracks were not removed. Because the existence of those extra tracks just made all the difference. I can hear traces of them even on the original bad mix, but not all of them, and not nearly to the extent that they ended up being in there. The producer, I think, just wanted to get done with the thing as quickly as possible.

***So when you heard that final mix coming in, the one that's on the album, what was it like hearing those takes that you'd never heard before, you know, 40 years later and a young Joe singing back at yourself? That had to be just a weird kind of scenario there for you.

Yeah, although not so weird because I revisit and listen to a lot of high school recordings. I do a lot of stuff from time to time. So I'm used to hearing my younger voice, as it were. But to hear the mixes improved and better than I thought they were gonna turn out, when I thought we still had the tracks back then, it's just impossible to describe.

As far as revisiting my 1980 ghost, we've kind of been in touch regularly (laughs). 

***And, obviously, nobody's been able to play a gig for a long time here. And I imagine you've got to be, and especially when you say you've only been out of the house once, you've got to be itching to get out there some day and bring these songs back out there on the scene.

Yeah. And everything's up in the air. You know, it depends on if everybody's still alive. And I'm not ruling anything out, I could see doing a series of shows with everything from the original lineup to the new and current lineup or something in between. It's just a matter of who is available, who is willing, and the circumstances when we're finally able to get out and play.

I'm at extra high risk. So, again, I just don't leave the house just because I do intend on remaining alive for a while, partly so we can do some gigs (laughs). 

2018 photo by Apryl Cady

***Do you and your wife, are you guys constantly still playing at home, you know, making music, that type of thing?

We do, not nearly as much as we would ordinarily. There's not a lot of motivation when you can't do anything. But we do. We get together and we've done some online stuff with Philo, actually. 

***Have you written any new songs during the pandemic, anything new to add to the repertoire? 

No. Short answer (laughs). I should. I've still got so many older songs that have never been recorded that I'm kind of working on. I think I'm stuck in '76; currently I've been going on to sort of like the pre-"L.A" Explosion!" era, just 'cause there's, "Hell, if they like that, they'll like this stuff, too." 

*** Yeah, why not? If you've got some stuff still there in the hopper from back in the day, why let it sit around? You might as well bring it out. 

Exactly. Because now I'm in especially an archiving mode, there's a lot of stuff that exists from back then and only in my head that needs to be laid down, at least for archival posterity sake, if not for the actual edification of some sort of audience.

So yeah, there's a lot of stuff that I'm going to be very excited (about) when we're able to get back to work. But I'd say Vitus and I and Randall and Jonny Bell and Don Brown (graphics artist)... I'm not convinced that we've seen the last of that group. We may be working together on some other stuff, hopefully in the future.

***Now that we're talking about The Last, you know, past, present, future, whatever... How would you like the band to be remembered? What kind of mark have you guys left and would you like to continue to make?

Yeah, that's a tough one. I mean, it's like what sort of band are we, huh? Longevity is key because the longer I live, the easier it is to lie (laughs). I think my role in the sort of origins of the pop-punk thing has grown through the years in my various interviews, and I figure, give me another 15 years, I will have invented music (laughs).

***You guys resonated with people. And you continue to over the years. And so that's got to feel good to have your songs still be meaningful to people and to yourselves.

It is. It is. It is. I would be happier if slightly more people experienced that sort of resonating. There is hundreds of people, not much more, who are very hardcore fans. And then the rest of the world does not actually know we exist. So the ratio's a little off, but hopefully this release is going to reach a few more people. I think the main thing is I really want people to hear my music.

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.

We had a self-destructive sort of authentic punk attitude and feel going on, especially live, but we had the pop thing going on, too. We were an actual hybrid, kind of like what the Go-Go's were at the very beginning before the album. And yeah, and then that's made it tough. We were at the top of the heap in '79 and the first part of 1980 when everybody was going to everybody's shows and you'd see new wave types at hardcore shows and punk rockers at pop shows.

And then as of about by mid-1980, that changed and you start to get all these jocks who came in, and, "Oh yeah, punk rock, that means I can go beat up people, get away with it." You know, all the people that we started the scene to get away from, suddenly came in. It increased the numbers to the point where people could actually make some money. But it was absolutely wrong as far as sort of creative development, because all of a sudden, you know everything, the dichotomy, it's like you dress this way, you go to those kind of shows and buy those records and that's it. Or you dress this way, blah, blah, blah. There was no longer any sort of communal fraternization. We'd sort of always straddled the fence. And suddenly, the two sides split and we just fell, impaled on our own attempt to be inclusive.

*** I look for the day when I can go back down to the South Bay and visit my parents and hopefully having you guys play a gig someday. So we'll cross our fingers that we'll be able to do it sometime.

I don't see why not. So actually, there's going to be competition because every band in the world is going to be just wanting to play all over the place when this is over.

***Well, I'm glad to see that "Look Again" is finally happening for you 40 years later. So, you know, sometimes we've got to wait 40 years. Hopefully we won't have to wait 40 more years for the next step. But then who's going to be around then, right?

Yeah. This has been kind of a grim interview. And mostly it's my fault (laughs). Although the comment about where are we going to be in 40 years kind of really hits home. 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Fucked and Bound / Cat Rose unseen photos

All Cat Rose photos

Since most of 2020 has been a bust for shows, we've dug into some of Cat Rose's unseen photos of the raucous and unhinged Fucked and Bound on Jan. 25 at the Clock-Out Lounge in Seattle.

The band recently signed to the Quiet Panic music and art company, and details on its mid-December reissue of F&B's "Suffrage" LP can be found here: