July 31st, 2014
dynamitehemorrhage

MIDDLE CLASS advertisement courtesy of Waitakere Walks, who wrote up a nice piece on non-Hollywood punk rock here.

Read my 2006 interview with The Middle Class’ Mike Atta here.

July 29th, 2014
dynamitehemorrhage
I’ve decided to interview a tiny handful of music curators who continually blow my mind with new discoveries. I’ve written in the past about curation and its crucial role in separating wheat from chaff; my entire music appreciation history has been spent following the superlative taste of others, while attempting to position myself in a similar space. The aim of the interview series is to figure out how music is curated in the digital space, and how things have evolved in finding music for others to listen to just in the last four or five years alone. To kick off this project, I sent over a few questions to Matt Thornton, aka UrbanKill. You’re already following UrbanKill on Tumblr, right? If not, you’re missing the most dedicated, lightning-quick curation zealot out there, a guy who digs deeper than just about anyone to find you the obscure and intense. His tastes are, shall we say, “sub-underground” – just the way we like it. UrbanKill has turned Dynamite Hemorrhage onto a good dozen or more bands just in the past year alone; we thought it only appropriate that we kick off this series with a few questions for him. It’s long – but you’ve got the time. Here goes: DH: What’s your true, non-internet name; where do you reside; and how long have you been in the sub-underground rocknroll curation game (and where/how, if you’ve been online or offline elsewhere)? UrbanKill, aka Matt Thornton: Matt Thornton. I was named after the first governor of New Hampshire, who was also the last signer of the Declaration of Independence. According to my aunts I am his decedent. They apparently did “rigorous research”, but I do not believe them, at all. One of them has a business designing Nutcrackers, and the other cried for three days when JFK Jr. died. Untrustworthy people if you ask me.I’ve bounced around quite a bit, but I grew up in North Kingstown, RI, and I live in Rhode Island currently. Also lived in Ohio, San Francisco, and Italy. I have been obsessive about music since I was little. My sister would play lots of Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett. For whatever reason, I took to some of that, as well as The Beatles, The Stones, The Who, The Kinks, etc, early on, which also stemmed from my dad always having classic rock radio playing. My parents were separated, so when I visited my dad on the weekends he’d let me explore music and comedy and lots of things that were probably not suitable for a child. He’d tape Letterman segments and SNL for me, and take me to Providence to buy records on Thayer St (an important place due to its proximity to RISD and Brown University). I owned a lot of vinyl when I was a kid.As far as the impulse to share music, the kids in my neighborhood didn’t really appreciate me putting my “Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy” tape in their boomboxes. I managed to make a single kid laugh once by playing him a song from Roger Waters’ “Music From The Body” that solely consisted of flatulence. I remember that being very calculated on my part. I wanted to connect my musical world to the kids around me, and actually borrowed that record from a sister as a way to lay down a path for them. But after the farting noises ceased, so did the interest. DH: Are you, or were you, a physical “record collector” at any point? What insight can you offer into the state of music accumulation and curation in the digital age, how it’s evolved in the last 15 years of wide mp3 availability, and what it’s done to any taste for vinyl or other formats you may have had or still have? Matt Thornton: I was a collector as a kid. I had a rough few years going into adolescence that included my mother dying, getting kicked out of school, getting arrested multiple times, drugs, etc. Suddenly rock and roll music didn’t speak to me at all, nor did punk or hardcore, and I think a lot of teens felt that way in the 90s - specifically those who were financially disadvantaged. All of the punks I knew seemed to live in nice houses, in nice neighborhoods, and I couldn’t understand what any of them were angry about. I think by the age of 15 or 16 I started to straighten out, and ended up getting a job at a restaurant. All my money from work went towards vinyl - entirely Hip-Hop 12” singles and LPs, aside from the one token Portishead album that every Hip-Hop kid seemed to have. Skippy Whites in North Providence and Newbury Comics in Warwick were two stores I spent a great deal of time in. Hip-Hop was my primary thing from about 11 all the way until early adulthood. I had a few years after that of blindly buying rock, punk, and indie records, and I think by the time I was 23 I figured out exactly what I liked. Hearing Cheater Slicks for the first time, with no knowledge of their history or fanbase, kind of kicked down some doors for me too. Hip-Hop is still the music that has the greatest effect on me emotionally though.Vinyl remained constant in my life until a few years ago. It was always an unhealthy addiction for me personally. I never had the kind of money to afford the habit, but I’d drop ridiculous money on a single record and end up short on rent. It was foolish. I’ve spent the last few years trying to break bad habits and unhealthy behavior. I’m not suggesting that record collecting is unhealthy in general, but it was for me. I still buy records but I try to keep it within reason.DH: Tell me a little about the process you go through to find obscurities from across the web: key sites you use; other curators you trust; links you follow; how quickly you post stuff; where you post it and so on. Matt Thornton: My RSS feed is my main source. I add record label and band sites to it. Sometimes local city blogs that will post upcoming concerts also include stream links alongside artists, so I’ll add those. And then I just listen when records pop up. I try to keep reviews and opinions out of the way, at least with new music. Not because they shouldn’t be valued, but because I don’t want the interference in the process. The great writers will alter how I experience a record. I tend to want to make up my mind first and then see what they have to say. I end up being influenced by regular, short-form blogs more than critics, but there are definitely writers I love.There are people who offer quite a bit, on Tumblr specifically. Arturo from Convulsive Records aka isitanart has turned me on to quite a bit, beyond just music. He’s posted art and poetry that have changed how I think about the world. There’s fuckinrecordreviews, who is a gateway to a world that I know little about, and has access to history that is incredibly valuable. Ozkar-Krapo is a genius at sorting through life’s oddities and the obscure. I have always enjoyed your various blogs. You’ve turned me on to a lot of music. There are tons of people. But I’ll just stop there because I’d end up forgetting people.I never set out to be a curator with Tumblr. I would do this whole routine on my own, for my own satisfaction. Tumblr was just a service that kept me properly distracted and amused during work. But if that’s how others are going to regard me - if they do in fact see me that way - then great! I’ll go ahead and use that. To maybe help some band get a chance to tour and visit other cities, countries. These are experiences we should all have and they are valuable and life-changing. Living in Italy for six months was the greatest experience of my life and it stays with me every day. So if I can play a very small role in a system that enables this culture to keep moving, while the infrastructure around us is crumbling and making it harder than ever to dedicate yourself to art or travel, then I’m happy. To dedicate yourself to music isn’t easy or inexpensive, and I respect anyone who wants to go down that path, especially if they are talented, and have good intentions. If they’re being overshadowed by hype, I want to help. I absolutely enjoy turning people on to new music. But the idea of being curator is more complicated. When I noticed I was becoming an “mp3 blogging personality”, I started to throw down more roadblocks in between the music posts, to avoid branding myself. The idea of branding is weird and uncomfortable. I don’t want to have a fake version of myself online, and I’m not a good enough writer to take the more esteemed route. I avoid aesthetic consistency as much as I can. I want people to have to get used to me, because I’m not an easy sell in real life. To have a version of myself online, that everybody could hypothetically like, wouldn’t actually be that hard at all. It would also be a lie. And if I can’t hold my own simply as a writer, then there’s no reason to present myself as an expert. All I have is taste. Beyond that, I can maybe be entertaining and honest.It doesn’t take much time for me to want to post a song. Whether or not I like a record is pretty immediate. It’s all pop to some degree, or at least what I’m drawn to has that basic structure. I certainly like when people experiment with it, or subvert it, but I’m not listening to drone records. I’ve had great experiences at both drone and noise shows though. But I can’t sit down and listen to either genre, no. And especially not on drugs. I used to listen to Trick Daddy when I did hallucinogens.DH: What modern tools do you use to turn streams into mp3s - and can you say a few words about your personal ethical stance on doing so? Matt Thornton: I use add-ons in my browser that auto-download streams. If a band has the stream up on bandcamp, the only reason I’d want to grab it with an add-on is due to presentation. I rotate how I’ll present music, for reasons I mentioned previously. So in that specific case, it makes no difference. Maybe the difference is arbitrary when you’re talking about a record streaming for free online, that people are accessing from their phones on their way to work vs something being shared on slsk. But just support the bands you love when you can. I can’t take a moral high ground or talk about what’s ethical. I haven’t always been a completely ethical person. Perhaps it’s unethical to rip records and make the decision for the label on your own, yes. But there’s a communal aspect outside of labels, between fans, and I understand where people are coming from when they share new music. It’s not vampirism entirely. There were times when I was dead broke and dying to hear a new record, and certain people always had it there, waiting for me to hear. I love those people. I always wanted to give back to those people. I stopped ripping vinyl some years back, but my motive was always to return the favor.DH: What musical sub-genres do you explore to find the rare and weird stuff you’re frequently posting, and what have been some of the best “finds” you’ve come across via what I assume is some pretty relentless digging? Matt Thornton: I don’t necessarily look for specific genres, and certainly try to avoid adherents to genre. Hardcore has weirdly grown on me in the last few years, but it’s usually the groups that have a distinct worldview or sound and can dodge the clichés. Whatever outfit you have on doesn’t matter. Go ahead, wear stained white jeggings, I’ve gotten over my judgment of your filthy white pants. I just want to know how you interpret the world, and not from within an isolated bubble of reality. Stand outside of your comfort zone and tell me what you see and how you feel about it, or put that feeling into the music. Whether you’re serious, funny, ironic, doesn’t matter, but just have a point of view. It doesn’t matter if we agree, I just want to know who you are, and I want you to put your own stamp on the music your making. Dress it up however you like but the foundation is what’s important. You can also, you know, just write a good song, and I’ll be happy too. After years of digging around, you tend just develop the ability to zoom in on the right bands.Right now I’m obsessed with BnP from New Zealand. Lowercase ‘n’. They’ve maybe a small but loyal following over there. No one cares stateside. I haven’t had any luck getting people to pay attention to them anyway. They’re a punk band. Maybe hardcore roots. A great combination of reckless and smart. Legit and morbid sense of humor. They have a song called “In The Key of Love”, that sounds like something people slow danced at the prom to in 1971 - until they start screaming at the end of the song, anyway. The live clips of them on YouTube are mayhem. Wild energy being let loose with no one trying to control it, with maybe everyone in attendance having a basic trust in each other that things won’t get ugly. They have two full-lengths, two singles, and a live album on Bandcamp. All free. Other recent discoveries? I’ve gone on and on about Human Abfall from Germany on tumblr. Positive Disintegration from Germany are promising, although they’ve only a couple of songs on Soundcloud. One, “Ruby Cabernet”, is mind blowing and begging for a 7” release. Also: Ivan The Tolerable (UK), Telstar Drugs (Calgary), Taulard (France), Ralph (NZ), Expert Alterations (Baltimore). Not recent, but I still listen to a tape from 2012 by a short-lived Polish noise-punk band, Pustostany, pretty regularly. think people would have - and still would - love that record over here and elsewhere. I’ve listened to Sleaford Mods and Schoolboy Q more than anything recently, though, which places me in the same boat as a lot of folks.DH: What parallels do you see to the days of flipping through stacks of records in crates, if any - and what sort of mindset does a modern digital curator need to bring to the search for the best obscurities? Matt Thornton: There’s no real parallel. Digging through music online is not on par with being in a record store, flipping through records, interacting with people, etc. Real life anything wins over the online replacement. But whether one is better as an experience doesn’t mean much to me. We can allow the digital world to replace real-life, or we can grow up and juggle both and use everything to our advantage.The hype cycles that were built by the record industry still linger and it’s annoying. Everyone can go find music on their own, and I think the music world specifically would be better if we all went down our own paths and brought things back for each other. There’s no need for a fucking chorus line of bloggers pushing some Burger rock, that we all know is going to be rendered worthless within months. And they’re not even making any money. It’s for blog hits. Who cares? Go look around! The internet NEVER ENDS! Find something on your own and develop your own experience with it and share it with the few people that matter to you. I have total and complete sympathy for people who have busy lives and can’t dedicate time to finding new music, or just have different priorities. But there’s no industry machine for music bloggers to be a part of any more. I don’t get why 300 of them are competing with each other to tell me the same exact thing. I understand why large record companies assault the public with a barrage of advertisements and hype. But why are we willingly trying to replace that system on our own with one that acts the same way, and feeds off people the same way? As much as I despise most music blogs, good music critics will always be important. If you’re not equipped with the tools to be one, develop a different approach. There’s no shame in that. More people should experiment with how they present music, instead of writing a generic paragraph-per-record where they claim their face gets melted by every record they hear. But good music critics are generally valuable to me because they’re good writers, first and foremost. I can read Daniel Stewart no matter what record he’s talking about, and I’ll generally be more interested in how he presents his ideas than the record he’s talking about. There’s always going to be a place for writers like that, right?

I’ve decided to interview a tiny handful of music curators who continually blow my mind with new discoveries. I’ve written in the past about curation and its crucial role in separating wheat from chaff; my entire music appreciation history has been spent following the superlative taste of others, while attempting to position myself in a similar space. The aim of the interview series is to figure out how music is curated in the digital space, and how things have evolved in finding music for others to listen to just in the last four or five years alone.
 
To kick off this project, I sent over a few questions to Matt Thornton, aka UrbanKill. You’re already following UrbanKill on Tumblr, right? If not, you’re missing the most dedicated, lightning-quick curation zealot out there, a guy who digs deeper than just about anyone to find you the obscure and intense. His tastes are, shall we say, “sub-underground” – just the way we like it. UrbanKill has turned Dynamite Hemorrhage onto a good dozen or more bands just in the past year alone; we thought it only appropriate that we kick off this series with a few questions for him. It’s long – but you’ve got the time.
 
Here goes:
 
DH: What’s your true, non-internet name; where do you reside; and how long have you been in the sub-underground rocknroll curation game (and where/how, if you’ve been online or offline elsewhere)?
 
UrbanKill, aka Matt Thornton: Matt Thornton. I was named after the first governor of New Hampshire, who was also the last signer of the Declaration of Independence. According to my aunts I am his decedent. They apparently did “rigorous research”, but I do not believe them, at all. One of them has a business designing Nutcrackers, and the other cried for three days when JFK Jr. died. Untrustworthy people if you ask me.

I’ve bounced around quite a bit, but I grew up in North Kingstown, RI, and I live in Rhode Island currently. Also lived in Ohio, San Francisco, and Italy. I have been obsessive about music since I was little. My sister would play lots of Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett. For whatever reason, I took to some of that, as well as The Beatles, The Stones, The Who, The Kinks, etc, early on, which also stemmed from my dad always having classic rock radio playing. My parents were separated, so when I visited my dad on the weekends he’d let me explore music and comedy and lots of things that were probably not suitable for a child. He’d tape Letterman segments and SNL for me, and take me to Providence to buy records on Thayer St (an important place due to its proximity to RISD and Brown University). I owned a lot of vinyl when I was a kid.

As far as the impulse to share music, the kids in my neighborhood didn’t really appreciate me putting my “Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy” tape in their boomboxes. I managed to make a single kid laugh once by playing him a song from Roger Waters’ “Music From The Body” that solely consisted of flatulence. I remember that being very calculated on my part. I wanted to connect my musical world to the kids around me, and actually borrowed that record from a sister as a way to lay down a path for them. But after the farting noises ceased, so did the interest.
 
DH: Are you, or were you, a physical “record collector” at any point? What insight can you offer into the state of music accumulation and curation in the digital age, how it’s evolved in the last 15 years of wide mp3 availability, and what it’s done to any taste for vinyl or other formats you may have had or still have?
 
Matt Thornton: I was a collector as a kid. I had a rough few years going into adolescence that included my mother dying, getting kicked out of school, getting arrested multiple times, drugs, etc. Suddenly rock and roll music didn’t speak to me at all, nor did punk or hardcore, and I think a lot of teens felt that way in the 90s - specifically those who were financially disadvantaged. All of the punks I knew seemed to live in nice houses, in nice neighborhoods, and I couldn’t understand what any of them were angry about. I think by the age of 15 or 16 I started to straighten out, and ended up getting a job at a restaurant. All my money from work went towards vinyl - entirely Hip-Hop 12” singles and LPs, aside from the one token Portishead album that every Hip-Hop kid seemed to have. Skippy Whites in North Providence and Newbury Comics in Warwick were two stores I spent a great deal of time in. Hip-Hop was my primary thing from about 11 all the way until early adulthood. I had a few years after that of blindly buying rock, punk, and indie records, and I think by the time I was 23 I figured out exactly what I liked. Hearing Cheater Slicks for the first time, with no knowledge of their history or fanbase, kind of kicked down some doors for me too. Hip-Hop is still the music that has the greatest effect on me emotionally though.

Vinyl remained constant in my life until a few years ago. It was always an unhealthy addiction for me personally. I never had the kind of money to afford the habit, but I’d drop ridiculous money on a single record and end up short on rent. It was foolish. I’ve spent the last few years trying to break bad habits and unhealthy behavior. I’m not suggesting that record collecting is unhealthy in general, but it was for me. I still buy records but I try to keep it within reason.

DH: Tell me a little about the process you go through to find obscurities from across the web: key sites you use; other curators you trust; links you follow; how quickly you post stuff; where you post it and so on.
 
Matt Thornton: My RSS feed is my main source. I add record label and band sites to it. Sometimes local city blogs that will post upcoming concerts also include stream links alongside artists, so I’ll add those. And then I just listen when records pop up. I try to keep reviews and opinions out of the way, at least with new music. Not because they shouldn’t be valued, but because I don’t want the interference in the process. The great writers will alter how I experience a record. I tend to want to make up my mind first and then see what they have to say. I end up being influenced by regular, short-form blogs more than critics, but there are definitely writers I love.

There are people who offer quite a bit, on Tumblr specifically. Arturo from Convulsive Records aka isitanart has turned me on to quite a bit, beyond just music. He’s posted art and poetry that have changed how I think about the world. There’s fuckinrecordreviews, who is a gateway to a world that I know little about, and has access to history that is incredibly valuable. Ozkar-Krapo is a genius at sorting through life’s oddities and the obscure. I have always enjoyed your various blogs. You’ve turned me on to a lot of music. There are tons of people. But I’ll just stop there because I’d end up forgetting people.

I never set out to be a curator with Tumblr. I would do this whole routine on my own, for my own satisfaction. Tumblr was just a service that kept me properly distracted and amused during work. But if that’s how others are going to regard me - if they do in fact see me that way - then great! I’ll go ahead and use that. To maybe help some band get a chance to tour and visit other cities, countries. These are experiences we should all have and they are valuable and life-changing. Living in Italy for six months was the greatest experience of my life and it stays with me every day. So if I can play a very small role in a system that enables this culture to keep moving, while the infrastructure around us is crumbling and making it harder than ever to dedicate yourself to art or travel, then I’m happy. To dedicate yourself to music isn’t easy or inexpensive, and I respect anyone who wants to go down that path, especially if they are talented, and have good intentions. If they’re being overshadowed by hype, I want to help.
 
I absolutely enjoy turning people on to new music. But the idea of being curator is more complicated. When I noticed I was becoming an “mp3 blogging personality”, I started to throw down more roadblocks in between the music posts, to avoid branding myself. The idea of branding is weird and uncomfortable. I don’t want to have a fake version of myself online, and I’m not a good enough writer to take the more esteemed route. I avoid aesthetic consistency as much as I can.

I want people to have to get used to me, because I’m not an easy sell in real life. To have a version of myself online, that everybody could hypothetically like, wouldn’t actually be that hard at all. It would also be a lie. And if I can’t hold my own simply as a writer, then there’s no reason to present myself as an expert. All I have is taste. Beyond that, I can maybe be entertaining and honest.

It doesn’t take much time for me to want to post a song. Whether or not I like a record is pretty immediate. It’s all pop to some degree, or at least what I’m drawn to has that basic structure. I certainly like when people experiment with it, or subvert it, but I’m not listening to drone records. I’ve had great experiences at both drone and noise shows though. But I can’t sit down and listen to either genre, no. And especially not on drugs. I used to listen to Trick Daddy when I did hallucinogens.

DH: What modern tools do you use to turn streams into mp3s - and can you say a few words about your personal ethical stance on doing so?
 
Matt Thornton: I use add-ons in my browser that auto-download streams. If a band has the stream up on bandcamp, the only reason I’d want to grab it with an add-on is due to presentation. I rotate how I’ll present music, for reasons I mentioned previously. So in that specific case, it makes no difference. Maybe the difference is arbitrary when you’re talking about a record streaming for free online, that people are accessing from their phones on their way to work vs something being shared on slsk. But just support the bands you love when you can. I can’t take a moral high ground or talk about what’s ethical. I haven’t always been a completely ethical person.
 
Perhaps it’s unethical to rip records and make the decision for the label on your own, yes. But there’s a communal aspect outside of labels, between fans, and I understand where people are coming from when they share new music. It’s not vampirism entirely. There were times when I was dead broke and dying to hear a new record, and certain people always had it there, waiting for me to hear. I love those people. I always wanted to give back to those people. I stopped ripping vinyl some years back, but my motive was always to return the favor.

DH: What musical sub-genres do you explore to find the rare and weird stuff you’re frequently posting, and what have been some of the best “finds” you’ve come across via what I assume is some pretty relentless digging?
 
Matt Thornton: I don’t necessarily look for specific genres, and certainly try to avoid adherents to genre. Hardcore has weirdly grown on me in the last few years, but it’s usually the groups that have a distinct worldview or sound and can dodge the clichés. Whatever outfit you have on doesn’t matter. Go ahead, wear stained white jeggings, I’ve gotten over my judgment of your filthy white pants. I just want to know how you interpret the world, and not from within an isolated bubble of reality. Stand outside of your comfort zone and tell me what you see and how you feel about it, or put that feeling into the music. Whether you’re serious, funny, ironic, doesn’t matter, but just have a point of view. It doesn’t matter if we agree, I just want to know who you are, and I want you to put your own stamp on the music your making. Dress it up however you like but the foundation is what’s important. You can also, you know, just write a good song, and I’ll be happy too. After years of digging around, you tend just develop the ability to zoom in on the right bands.

Right now I’m obsessed with BnP from New Zealand. Lowercase ‘n’. They’ve maybe a small but loyal following over there. No one cares stateside. I haven’t had any luck getting people to pay attention to them anyway. They’re a punk band. Maybe hardcore roots. A great combination of reckless and smart. Legit and morbid sense of humor. They have a song called “In The Key of Love”, that sounds like something people slow danced at the prom to in 1971 - until they start screaming at the end of the song, anyway. The live clips of them on YouTube are mayhem. Wild energy being let loose with no one trying to control it, with maybe everyone in attendance having a basic trust in each other that things won’t get ugly. They have two full-lengths, two singles, and a live album on Bandcamp. All free.

Other recent discoveries? I’ve gone on and on about Human Abfall from Germany on tumblr. Positive Disintegration from Germany are promising, although they’ve only a couple of songs on Soundcloud. One, “Ruby Cabernet”, is mind blowing and begging for a 7” release. Also: Ivan The Tolerable (UK), Telstar Drugs (Calgary), Taulard (France), Ralph (NZ), Expert Alterations (Baltimore). Not recent, but I still listen to a tape from 2012 by a short-lived Polish noise-punk band, Pustostany, pretty regularly. think people would have - and still would - love that record over here and elsewhere. I’ve listened to Sleaford Mods and Schoolboy Q more than anything recently, though, which places me in the same boat as a lot of folks.

DH: What parallels do you see to the days of flipping through stacks of records in crates, if any - and what sort of mindset does a modern digital curator need to bring to the search for the best obscurities?
 
Matt Thornton: There’s no real parallel. Digging through music online is not on par with being in a record store, flipping through records, interacting with people, etc. Real life anything wins over the online replacement. But whether one is better as an experience doesn’t mean much to me. We can allow the digital world to replace real-life, or we can grow up and juggle both and use everything to our advantage.

The hype cycles that were built by the record industry still linger and it’s annoying. Everyone can go find music on their own, and I think the music world specifically would be better if we all went down our own paths and brought things back for each other. There’s no need for a fucking chorus line of bloggers pushing some Burger rock, that we all know is going to be rendered worthless within months. And they’re not even making any money. It’s for blog hits. Who cares? Go look around! The internet NEVER ENDS! Find something on your own and develop your own experience with it and share it with the few people that matter to you.
 
I have total and complete sympathy for people who have busy lives and can’t dedicate time to finding new music, or just have different priorities. But there’s no industry machine for music bloggers to be a part of any more. I don’t get why 300 of them are competing with each other to tell me the same exact thing. I understand why large record companies assault the public with a barrage of advertisements and hype. But why are we willingly trying to replace that system on our own with one that acts the same way, and feeds off people the same way?

As much as I despise most music blogs, good music critics will always be important. If you’re not equipped with the tools to be one, develop a different approach. There’s no shame in that. More people should experiment with how they present music, instead of writing a generic paragraph-per-record where they claim their face gets melted by every record they hear. But good music critics are generally valuable to me because they’re good writers, first and foremost. I can read Daniel Stewart no matter what record he’s talking about, and I’ll generally be more interested in how he presents his ideas than the record he’s talking about. There’s always going to be a place for writers like that, right?

July 29th, 2014
dynamitehemorrhage

(Originally posted on my Agony Shorthand blog in March 2004)

ARE YOU SWA OR NOT SWA?

One of 2004’s “Top 5 most promising Australian newcomers” is blogmeister Dave Lang, who forced me to chortle out loud this week with his continuing reviews of his dust-collecting cassettes, most notably the SST “Program: Annihilator” compilation tapes of some 15-20 years ago. His gratuitous mention of SWA, universally regarded as one of the absolute, no-question-about-it Worst Bands of All Time, got me remembering my own 1988 encounter with this loathsome combo. I mean, I’ve seen some atrocious bands in my day – Ethyl Meatplow, Hole, The Gargoyles, Stone Temple Pilots, Doggy Style – but I’m pretty sure that SWA were the worst (all right, Ethyl Meaplow were the worst). Dave was dumbfounded after I emailed him my kudos for his piece: “I can’t believe you saw SWA!!!”. 

Some background, all reconstructed from memory. By 1988, after three years of fruitless toil, SWA had been a huge scene joke for years. The band was one of several post-Black Flag, Los Angeles-based outfits for Flag co-founder and bassist Chuck Dukowski, all of whom were – when thought about at all – considered to be unarguably awful. But SWA took the cake. Tuneless, hookless, arduous and hideously overdone pseudo-metal with rotten vocals and a generally meatheaded persona was not a recipe for success in 1985-88, even with the Flag pedigree and the SST banner unfurled behind them. Countless fanzines mocked them. Steve Albini, in a piece listing the 50 Worst Things a Person Could Do (or something like that), had two SWA-related entries: “Listen to SWA” and “Be SWA”. Any association with the band could be deadly. SYLVIA JUNCOSA, having played guitar in SWA for a period of time, was instantly disowned by a large percentage of rock fans and had to resort to giving titles to her songs like “Lick My Pussy, Eddie Van Halen” in a vain effort to recover what little credibility she’d vainly squandered. A guy from my college radio station was hounded mercilessly for weeks and ceremoniously “kicked out of the scene” simply for the transgression of playing SWA on his show – once. Even Southwest Airlines were boycotted for years by a substantial contingent of underground rock tastemakers for the crime of having the offensive toll-free reservations number of 1-800-I-FLY-SWA. 

Seeing them open for DAS DAMEN at LA’s Anti-Club in ’88 was the culmination of years of trembling anticipation – I mean, how bad could they really be? Oh my goodness yes, that bad. In front of 10 people in a dank, dark, dirty club with a 2-foot stage, Dukowski violently slapped his bass, puffed out his cheeks like a blowfish, and leapt around like he was headlining at Wembley. It was so ridiculously over-the-top and 100% uncalled-for that I’m willing to at least entertain the theory that SWA was actually a drawn-out, years-long joke from the Andy Kaufman school of humor (supporting evidence for this notion can be found on one of those Harvey Kubernick “spoken word” compilations, on which Dukowski gives a long rant asking people to choose if they’re “Swa” or “Not Swa”). But I doubt it. Lead vocalist “Merrill” writhed and winced and sweated through their bombastic barrage, and even transported his mic outside onto the patio to berate the poor patrons who just needed an escape from the band’s horrors. It was pretty amazing chutzpah, but the band must have figured, what did they have to lose? I am willing to state for the record that there was A.) not one person there to see SWA and B.) that of the 10 who watched, not one liked them, not even a little bit. 

Yet the band soldiered on for one more album (of five total, including a compilation!) the next year, before vanishing in complete and utter disgrace. I had repressed them fairly successfully until Dave Lang brought them screaming back to life. One of the hallmarks of progress in therapy is the willingness to confront your innermost demons and slay them publicly, with a circle of close friends or relations you can trust. I’d like to think that I can share the horror of SWA with you, my friends, and in so doing can perhaps bring my rock therapy to a close. It all depends on how I sleep tonight, because I just may have woken something up that had wanted to stay buried for a long, long time.

July 28th, 2014
dynamitehemorrhage

NEGATIVE APPROACH, live (full set and goofin’ interview!) in 1982 on the “Why Be Something You’re Not” cable access TV show.

July 28th, 2014
dynamitehemorrhage
It appears to have been out for a couple of years now, but this "BRAVE WORDS – NZ INDIE 1980-1995" fanzine, put out by one April Welsh, is a great DIY overview of New Zealand’s flourishing underground of rocknroll/pop during that era. Flying Nun primarily, not Xpressway nor the long tail of 80s NZ bedroom weirdos we worship over here. I don’t know how to procure a print copy, but you can read the whole thing for free right now on Issuu.

It appears to have been out for a couple of years now, but this "BRAVE WORDS – NZ INDIE 1980-1995" fanzine, put out by one April Welsh, is a great DIY overview of New Zealand’s flourishing underground of rocknroll/pop during that era. Flying Nun primarily, not Xpressway nor the long tail of 80s NZ bedroom weirdos we worship over here.

I don’t know how to procure a print copy, but you can read the whole thing for free right now on Issuu.

July 28th, 2014
dynamitehemorrhage
I scanned this 1978 San Francisco punk rock fanzine on my other blog a few years ago - thought I’d do you a favor and let you see it here as well.
Read: New Dezezes post on The Hedonist Jive.

I scanned this 1978 San Francisco punk rock fanzine on my other blog a few years ago - thought I’d do you a favor and let you see it here as well.

Read: New Dezezes post on The Hedonist Jive.

July 28th, 2014
dynamitehemorrhage
Desperate Living
Useless Eaters
"Desperate Living" EP

The new USELESS EATERS 45 is pretty swank, a fine return to tip-top doofus form from one of modern punk rock’s finest group of soldiers. That’s what moving to San Francisco will do for ya.

Buy it on Slovenly Records if you like what you hear.

July 28th, 2014
dynamitehemorrhage
July 27th, 2014
dynamitehemorrhage

(Originally posted on my Hedonist Jive blog back in April 2010)

I spent large chunks of my junior high and high school experience circa 1981-85 alone in my bedroom, awash in the sounds of an life-changing college radio station from Los Altos Hills, California called KFJC coming out of my clock radio. I had previously been a young music freak who tuned into America’s Top 40 every Sunday, as well as a budding “new waver” discovering Devo, The B-52s and Adam and the Ants; and to some extent, I remained (and possibly still remain) something of a new waver. Through KFJC, and through KPFA’s “Maximum Rock and Roll Radio Show”, I discovered punk rock, which was then in the throes of branching into its full-on, light-speed hardcore phase. I discovered English DIY and dark/gothy stuff, and some early favorites of mine were Siouxsie & The Banshees, Bauhaus, The Delta 5 and the Au Pairs. The station helped turn me from a music fan into a music obsessive, and to think that I’d be joining my DJ idols there in a few years was unfathomable at the time.

After four years DJing in college at KCSB in Santa Barbara, I moved back to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1989 with enough confidence to approach my formative heroes at KFJC with a proposal for my own show. It wasn’t that difficult – after a few weeks of toil in the 2-6am time slot, I landed first a decent morning show and then a fantastic Monday night gig from 6-10pm. KFJC was among the most creative of radio stations, drawing upon yearly traditions started by long-retired DJs. Two of their best traditions, both of which continue to this day, are the annual “format change” on April Fool’s Day and the subsequent “Month of Mayhem”, where DJs put together hours-long overviews of particular artists, neglected genres of music, and all manner of musical ephemera, strung together in a manner not conducive for a typical radio slot.

April Fool’s was always a blast, and I remember being a stung listener several times during my teenage years when I forgot what day it was. There was the time that the format change was reduced to a rotation of only six songs, played back-to-back in sets, then started over again – an exaggerated version of some awful Top 40 station programmed by a corporation. Except the two songs I remember from this particular day of mirth were pretty cool - “Start!” by The Jam and “Watching The Detectives” by Elvis Costello – placing it around 1982 or so. There was another time where the format changed to all reggae, and all the DJs talked in a bogus Jamaican patois. More recently, KFJC switched frequencies with New Jersey’s WFMU for the day, which must have been absolutely baffling for listeners on both coasts.

In my brief time at KFJC from 1989-1990, I got in on one April Fool’s day. We decided to change the station’s format on 4/1/1990 to an “oldies” station, except the oldies here would be alternative/college rock songs that were no more than ten years old. I got a key slot on Sunday night from 6-9pm this particular day, taking the place of a wacked-out radical left/conspiracy theory show hosted by a guy named Dave Emory. (I believe this show was later syndicated, though Emory worked out of our Los Altos Hills studio). I totally hammed up the format, announcing in my most weasely of milquetoast DJ voices after a song would end, “Ohhhh yeah, don’t that just make you feel so GOOD hearing that again? Going allllllllllll the way back to 1984, that was a real golden classic from the Meat Puppets”. 

Then I’d do a fake “traffic report”, where I’d spin a sound effects record of a helicopter in the air and then play a pre-recorded tape we’d made of some phony, deliberately wrong traffic update. It would start off talking about local freeways (“problems in the MacArthur Maze, heavy backup at the Bay Bridge, metering lights are on”), and then would segue matter-of-factly into Los Angeles freeways that were seven hours away from us (“Injury-accident on the 405”) – keeping in mind, of course, that it was Sunday night at 7pm and there was likely no one on any freeways. 

The best part of this particular prank was that I got to make up new time slots for all the popular DJs our new format was displacing. I acted like this was now my new slot, and that these were the songs I was going to play every week in this slot. I then would announce stuff in my stupid hack DJ voice like, “Don’t worry, Dave Emory fans, Dave’s still got a home on KFJC. You can now catch his show each and every Sunday morning from 4:45-5am, only here on ‘The Wave of The West’”. I invented new slots for every show that day, all at preposterous times like 1:30-2am and the like – and then the calls started coming in. The lines just lit up like a Christmas tree after the “Emory timeslot change”. And then I realized how unhinged some of Emory’s listeners were. They called me one after the other, totally freaked out, asking for clarification, begging KFJC to reconsider, completely not in on the joke. 

This went on for about an hour before I got a call from Emory himself, who told me I needed to cut it out for my own safety – “You don’t know how dangerous some of these people can be – they’ll come down to the station”. Based on my previous calls that hour from modern-day birther types (the big controversies/obsessions of the day were Reagan’s “October Surprise” and still, 27 years later, JFK’s assassination). I decided he was probably right, and cut this part of my shtick as my show was winding down. Of course, the station reverted to its normal free-form format the next morning.

I also only got one “Month of Mayhem” special in, because I quit the station in July 1990, fed up with the depressed, insular frathouse of lost souls that seemed to make up station personnel. Oh – that, and the commute from my new apartment in San Francisco. Yet I did get to do a three-hour special on THE FLESH EATERS, no mean feat when the band only put out four forty-minute albums in the 1980s and one single in 1978, and whom I never saw live and only heard for the first time a year after they’d broken up. My four years in college in the late 80s, however, turned me into a rabid, posthumously worshipping fan of the band and their genius singer, Chris Desjardins, who I was by then seeing play in his new bands The Divine Horsemen and Stone By Stone. 

At that point in my life The Flesh Eaters were easily “my favorite band of all time”. When I conceived of doing this special back in March 1990, I wrote a letter to Chris D (we didn’t have email back then, you kids) and asked him if I could interview him on the show. I gave him my work phone number so we could work out the details (we didn’t have cell phones back then, you kids). Well, two months went by and I’d heard nothing from him, and figured that the lack of interest from him was in keeping with his publicity-shy, disinterested persona. 

One hour before I was to leave my job at Monster Cable and drive down to KFJC and do the special, I got a call on my work line, and whoa - it was Chris D himself. He’d love to do an interview. Uhhh…..OK. So I hustled down to the station, corralled an engineer to help me figure out how to patch him in, took Chris’s call live on the air, and proceeded to do what I remember as the most botched, hurried, unprepared, nervous interview I’ve ever done – with my idol, no less. And of course – I didn’t tape it, so there’s no historical record for me to check and assure myself that “it wasn’t so bad after all”. In my mind it was a friggin’ disaster – but Chris DID break the news on our call that he was re-forming the Flesh Eaters that year, which was totally exciting until I realized that all it meant was that he had a new band put together, and he just slapped on his old, more reknown band’s name on top of it. (As it turned out, this new Flesh Eaters were actually really good for a few years, and played live and recorded albums up into the 21st Century).

When I quit the station in shame and disgust on July 4th, 1990, I remember driving back to San Francisco, straight to a FLIPPER reunion show at the Covered Wagon Saloon, totally angry and bummed about the circumstances surrounding my decision. I drank fairly heavily at the club. That day I’d done my final show, and as it turned out, it was my final show anywhere as a behind-the-glass, guy with 2-3 turntables disk jockey. To this day I still have anxiety dreams where the song on Turntable 1 is about to end, and there’s nothing queued up on Turntable 2 – and gasp – we’re about to have some “dead air”!!! I still love KFJC and the ethos behind KFJC, and there’s a whole new generation at the station now who are keeping it among America’s most vital musical institutions. Sometimes I still wish I was there, just so I could cook up more pranks and Month of Mayhem musical OCD specials – then I wonder if anyone even listens to the radio at all anymore. Anyway, that’s enough blog reminiscing for now. If anyone taped that May 14th, 1990 KFJC Flesh Eaters special - or the April 1st, 1990 6-9pm show - please do get in touch.

July 27th, 2014
dynamitehemorrhage

thefallthings:

The Fall in New Zealand flyer by Chris Knox

Reblogged from THEFALLTHINGS
July 27th, 2014
dynamitehemorrhage
WELL WELL
BLACK BUG
S/T LP/CD

Here’s some intense synth-driven squall from the Swedish band BLACK BUG, from that 2010 album they did that’s about half hits to misses. This one cranks up the nerve-ometer and’ll make ya sweat something fierce.

July 24th, 2014
dynamitehemorrhage

dynamitehemorrhage:

Dynamite Hemorrhage Radio #41, broadcasting from a cramped bedroom in Oslo, Norway, is now on the proverbial air - and is available for streaming or download in all the usual places. We attempt to explore all nooks and crannies of the sub-underground rocknroll music “scene”, and to that end, we think we were fairly successful in this forty-first edition of the pod. 

You’ll thrill to new sounds from THE NOTS (pictured), CCTV, COLD BEAT, ROACHCLIP, USELESS EATERS, SEX TIDE, PIECE WAR and several more of your new favorite bands. You’ll gasp at reissues from X__X, Monkey 101 and The Spies. You’ll start stocking your Paypal accounts for rare records from The Petticoats, Fireworks and the Desperate Bicycles. And you’ll weep when you hear just how good “fogey rock” like Alex Chilton, Green on Red and True West sounds when sandwiched between some of today’s hottest young hitmakers.

I invite you to get this thing while it’s fresh, new and maybe - just maybe - the best 70 minutes of music ever assembled in one place. 

Download Dynamite Hemorrhage Radio #41 right here.
Stream or download the show on Soundcloud here.
Subscribe to the show on iTunes right here.

Track listing:

THE NOTS - Fix
COLD BEAT - UV
THE PETTICOATS - Paranoia
DESPERATE BICYCLES - Advice on Arrest
C.C.T.V. - Mind Control
PIECE WAR - We Are At War 
MONKEY 101 - I Wait in the Ground
ROACHCLIP - Master’s Den
TRUE WEST - Lucifer Sam
CARETAKERS OF DECEPTION - Cuttin’ Grass
NICE STRONG ARM - Life of the Party 
THE SPIES - The Star and Us
USELESS EATERS - Dungeon
HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Girls FM
BO-WEEVILS - That Girl
FIREWORKS - Silver Moon
X__X - Dolly Boy (live)
SEX TIDE - Never Get To You
SLOTH - Fetch The Wedge
ALEX CHILTON - Hook or Crook 
GREEN ON RED - Death and Angels
MEN OH PAUSE - Tight Chest

Some past shows:
Dynamite Hemorrhage #40    (playlist) 
Dynamite Hemorrhage #39    (playlist) 
Dynamite Hemorrhage #38    (playlist) 
Dynamite Hemorrhage #37    (playlist) 
Dynamite Hemorrhage #36    (playlist) 
Dynamite Hemorrhage #35    (playlist) 
Dynamite Hemorrhage #34    (playlist) 
Dynamite Hemorrhage #33    (playlist)
Dynamite Hemorrhage #32    (playlist) 

Just reminding in case you missed our most recent podcast last week.

Reblogged from Dynamite Hemorrhage
July 24th, 2014
dynamitehemorrhage

Check out Indoorsman Records for many of your sub-underground weirdo rock needs. www.indoorsman.net

July 21st, 2014
dynamitehemorrhage

suicidewatch:

Thee Headcoats & Thee Headcoatees

Terrific photo set

Reblogged from afogofideas
July 21st, 2014
dynamitehemorrhage

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Music wordage and shareage - punks, pop, garage, freaks, proto-punkers and more.

Dynamite Hemorrhage #1 is also a 68-page print fanzine, with multiple interviews (Chris D./Flesh Eaters; Sally Skull; Household; Sex Tide; Bona Dish), 50+ record reviews and loads more. It's available via various online retailers and in stores. We're unable to sell it directly to you due to massive summer travel, but we'll be back mailing them out in August 2014 - with a 2nd issue due a couple of months later.

Dynamite Hemorrhage is also a bi-weekly podcast that you can subscribe to on iTunes.

Drop me a line at dynamiteh(at)outlook.com.

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Read my other blog too:
The Hedonist Jive

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