Sunday, December 26, 2010

Part-Time Whore "Home" LP

     This post is for Nate the guitar player for Part-Time Whore.  I posted the PTW demo a few months ago.  Here are the recordings for what became known as PTW’s proper debut release.  The album entitled Home was “commercially” released as a vinyl LP pressing only.  No CD's were ever pressed.  The mp3’s here are taken from the CD master we sent to the record pressing plant when it was originally released in 1999.

     When I say it was “commercially” released I mean we put it out on our own label guaranteeing it would rarely if ever be heard or seen outside the Las Vegas valley.  I think if we'd ever got around to touring on this record we might have caused an underground ripple but that wasn't to be.    We only pressed 500 copies and I’ve still got like 5 or 10 copies sitting in my parents house.  Which is a pretty good distribution for a DIY release.  Sadly enough.      

     There are so many stories I could share about my experiences with this group.  As far as live shows went we must have played only about 2 or 3 dozen shows in our entire 2 years together.  Somehow all the big shows we played were disastrous.  But when we played to a house full of 10 or 15 people we were like thunder!  Although I do remember playing a big show with the Hellworms and their bass player remarked at how tight he thought we sounded.  Which meant a lot coming from him as he was the bass player for Victim’s Family.    

     There was a riot at our first show.  No joke.  We played some shitty rehearsal hall run by the glam rock idiot from Bangkok Shock.  But it wasn't through the power of our music.  Instead that ugly glam  bastard kept hitting on every girl in the place until finally someone punched him two songs into our set.  I couldn't see much from the stage but I want to say he was assaulted by a few people in the audience.  Anyway the Cock Bangin Bangkok Cock Mock Shock Jock guy rushes to the stage after getting punched and starts flicking his taser which basically cleared the room.   I heard later that someone eye gouged the Bang Cocker I don't know if that's true.  We hurriedly packed up our shit and got ready to leave.  As we loaded the van someone threw a rock through a huge expensive window for the hall.  It felt great hearing that sound after what that idiot did.  And it was a great start to our “career.”

     We played with a bunch of different touring bands including Damad, Word Salad, Hellworms, Quadiliacha, 12 Hour Turn, shit there were several more.  Next time I visit my folks I’ll grab all the flyers I made for those shows and post them here if they haven't already thrown them out. 

     Part-Time Whore was made up of an odd mix of personalities who added up to a unique band.   Everyone had their own musical tastes and agendas for being in the band and none of it seemed to overlap.  When we finally got it together it was a clash of styles based on compromises staked out along lines of musical tastes, talent, or lack thereof, and passion.   

     It’s easy for me to toot the horn for PTW now but when we were together it was often a volatile mix.  I would be hard pressed to say we were a close knit group.  We were friendly but we were partners in crime more than friends.  There was laughter but tension was just as much a part of the mix.  As a result it was mostly business that kept us together and so our work ethic was really solid.

    Nate had just come from uber LV punk combo Boba Fett Youth.  Rob the drummer for PTW was also a fill in drummer for the last stint of BFY’s last tour.  Judd the bass player was in other bands previous to PTW but I couldn’t say much about him as he never seemed to say much himself. 

     After Boba Fett Youth Nate and Rob were eager to go in a more commercial direction with this new project.  They wanted a vocalist who would really sing.  I dare say they looked with some interest to the mainstream music happening at the time.  When I joined I more or less torpedoed their ambitions to be closer to the mainstream mostly through my vocal abilities.  Or lack thereof.  I wanted to be a real vocalist as well and I didn't want to be boxed in to a certain style.  It was mainly a question of finding out how to sing.  More than anything it was important to me that people understood what I had to say.  That's one of the few things we as a band agreed on.  It was my persistence showing up to each practice and making a serious effort and the fact that I kept those dudes entertained and laughing in the first few weeks of the band which turned the tide.  Three weeks in I had officially joined up.

     My vocals created an uneasy nervousness to the music the band was creating.  I'd go so far as to say it barely fit the music at all!  It was a strange combo which made the listener curious as to what the fuck was going on.  We had our pop moments but we didn't have hooks in the traditional sense.  As for my own ambitions I hoped to border on a commercial sound of some sort  just like what the rest of the guys but I didn't want to follow the blueprint of "alternative" crap nor did I want to sound like the bullshit the underground was churning out at that time.

     It was a crappy time for music back then.  In 1998 Nu Metal was king on the radio.  Death Metal  had dug it's own grave full of cliches.  Hardcore was still festering and splintering into even more nonsense genrefications.  Nobody could explain what it was but Emo seemed to be sprouting from hardcores manure stench.  We didn't fit into any of these camps.  So we knew we were doing something right.

     I’ll never claim to be the best singer but just like Ozzy Osbourne I rose to the challenge of being a damned good front man.  For live shows I made a point of composing and reading a new poem for each and every show.  I made it a point to try and break the wall between audience and performer and I actively shook hands with anyone who was watching.  I tried my best to make the shows memorable events.  We were confrontational and totally in your face.  And yet we were friendly about it.  In the beginning I think the idea of hand shaking was a tactic to deal with my own nervousness about being in front of people.  It was my intent to shift the focus from my self back to the audience.  Later on I think this actually helped our audience identify more with us and maybe made them like us more.

     It's really fucking hard to get people to give a shit about your band.  Over the next few months we slowly made some in roads.  We recorded the demo.  We practiced 3 times a week.  We got better.  We started getting noticed.  But internally things got weird.  We all got along on the surface but when we would talk about what the band's direction there were disagreements that kinda blindsided me.

    There were arguments about my poetry, about my shaking hands with the audience, about my abilities as a singer.  There were veiled threats about finding a new singer.  There was pressure to write lyrics for every song.  Even if some songs worked better as instrumentals (Giant Slug).  In short there was a line going up between those who made the music, namely Nate, and the one guy who stepped in to take the music somewhere else once the music had been written.  Me.     

     At that point I felt like I became the whipping boy for the group.  Internal politics became a part of each practice along with writing new songs.   And I didn't have much to stand on.  Because I really was just the singer.  I thought it was obvious that my role was just as important as anyone else in the band.  Instead I became the person who needed to try harder.  Nate was the instigator and the other guys were quick to follow suit.  At that point we were going in a great direction.  I thought about quitting.  But I wanted it so bad and we'd developed such momentum.  I couldn't quit now.      

     I’m not trying to paint the picture of me as the victim and those guys as tormentors.  I am not the easiest person to get along with.  It was only after these initial heated moments that I think we all began to understand the dynamic tensions within the group was what made us so original.  If not for that friction between me and the group we would never have made the incredible musical statement that we did.  While it worked on many levels it was also dysfunctional and that would later prove to be our undoing.  

     It irked me even more when I did the lion’s share of the booking for every show.  I made flyers  that weren’t good enough.  I wrote a grant to release the album through the Nevada Arts Council.  Which strangely pissed them off.  They were against the idea of putting out a record.  They wanted to put out a CD.  They hated the idea that the record was considered a work of “art.”  They hated the idea that we could be considered an “art” band through the writing of the grant. 

     At the time I was really proud of the “art” moniker and I thought we were scoring one for the under appreciated world of rock music but I think they saw it as me getting more credit than I deserved.  I hate to speculate that this was the case.  It's also possible they were just disgusted by the pretentious world of art and didn't want to be associated with it.  I thought it was sexy at the time especially a fucked up ensemble named Part-Time Whore kicking down doors.  Maybe it was a bit of both that pissed them off?

    As history unfolded it’s unavoidable to discuss this album without making mention of the A word.  I can’t deny the appeal the concept of “art” always had for me up til that point.  I did creative stuff and had romantic notions of being an "artist" even if I didn't know what that meant.  

     It was never that big of a leap for me to believe that putting out records by underground bands was an artistic pursuit.  I had been inspired for years by the work of Very Small and Bucky Records.  Their output was art to me.  The music was creative and cutting edge.  The artwork on the sleeves was inspired.  The fact that they released only vinyl records was a statement unto itself.  

    Putting that grant together I found that if you can convince yourself what you are doing is art then you can convince anyone.  With that in mind I wrote a received a grant from the Nevada Arts Council for $800 to release Home as an LP.  We christened the label Battle Born Records since half the money came from Nevada.   

    Greg Telles and my brother Mark screen printed all 500 of the covers.  I spent months creating the lyric sheet which was printed inside the record sleeve.  The first 200 were printed with black ink.  The last 300 had green ink.  I asked several friends to submit artwork and the drummer Rob,  Karl Jessen and Matt the Fuck Bowker made great drawings.  I became pen pals with Dierdre Luzwick.  Her work is amazing.  She wrote back and granted us permission to use some of her charcoal drawings.

    We played a great record release show at the CafĂ© Espresso Roma.  We played the first Zinecon.  We sold or gave away most of the records.  The triumphs we achieved were genius and something I will never forget. 

     But the strain between me and the rest of the band couldn't last much longer.  When I think about it now I can see it as a power struggle between Nate and I.  Which I can understand to a certain degree.  They, more like he, would write the music and I would have the last say as to what the songs would mean.  That had to be an uneasy union for Nate to deal with.  But he never came out and told me he didn't like my lyrics which were the cornerstone of what I was contributing.  Since I was making a concerted effort to make the lyrics understandable it was important that they be intelligent lyrics so i didn't look like an asshole.  Instead he took issue with my delivery and the theatrical trappings I was bringing to the live show.  Things which seemed to be helping the band more than hurting.  It got confusing.

     Nate wrote all the music and the band was obviously his.  No one else wrote the music although we all collaborated.  The band would always see me as the new guy.  Not just the new guy but perhaps the least important member of the band?  That was certainly how I was treated.  Even though outside of actually making the music I was responsible for many things including opening myself up to the world through my lyrics, booking every show, getting money from outside the band to press a record, handling the creation of the record... I'm looking like an asshole to beat this into the ground.  As you can see things would eventually come to a head and since I was the vociferous one with a microphone it had to come from my big mouth.    

   We were scheduled to play a show at this comic book store on Flamingo.  We had just released our record a few weeks before.  We were riding high and I was full of myself.  I had the worst attitude ever.  I can see now the release of the record marked the beginning of the end.  The record was done.

    It all rose to the surface.  I would always talk at length on stage.  If it wasn't poetry it was describing the context of songs.  I never censored myself.  That night I had a grudge.  I got on the microphone and bad mouthed another local band.  Something we all agreed I’d never do.  I did that intentionally to piss the guys off.  Plus I just hated that other local group.  I bad mouthed Star Wars.  Which was directed with venom to Nate who considered Star Wars a religion.  I talked an incredible amount of shit in front of dozens of people.  I couldn't have been more foul, ignorant, or disrespectful.  

    This all happened while they guys were setting up.  As we went into the first song I realized how  stupid I sounded.  How much the rock star I was acting.  I really fucking blew it.  It was already too late when I realized how wrong I had been.  We got through the set.  Nate freaked out and we got into a huge argument on stage.  We basically broke up in front of the biggest audience we’d ever played to.  

   It should have ended there.  In front of a crowd of people with me and Nate choking each other to death.  Ok I'm overly dramatic but I gotta say it came close to that for me.

    Somehow weeks later we got back together.  I don't remember the exact words that were said but staying true to the disfunction I assumed all blame.  How could I not?  I shouldn't have exploded in front of a crowd.  But my arguments were pointless against a group who could never validate my point of view.  I was the outsider.  And when I think about it now I say perhaps that was the only way for me to be heard within the group?

   With so much work invested we all felt it was wrong to throw it away.  Just like I'd felt after the first round of arguments developed.  But it was an uneasy truce that wouldn't continue for long.

    We limped along.  We played a few more shows.  Judd took a trip to Europe.  We got my friend Drew to fill in.  This brought even more allusions to the balance of power that was ripping the band apart.  And then it just ended.  I never went back to see if they were practicing.  They never called to ask if I was on my way over.   Instead Part-Time Whore ended silently with a whimper instead of with guns blazing, drama, and fury that it should have been.  

   This project was over in my mind.  Although we had a handful of great new songs which again broadened our style.  I don't know if I would have come back if they'd asked me.  Maybe I would have?  I can't say for sure ten years later.  The record was done and so was the artistic statement.  I made moves to go onto the next project.  Which became Free Radio Las Vegas, later N.O.T.B.A.D.  I wonder to this day if my "artistic" pursuits since Part-Time Whore have been valid, meaningful, or even worthy of me dedicating so much of my life to them.  Since I continue to do them I guess my answer is yes.  At least that's how I feel about it today as I write this here.

      It was a year later that Rob got in touch with me to inform me that the group actually did continue without me.  It turns out my fears were not without foundation.  They did see me as the least important person in the band.  I was replaceable.  I still wanted to show them I supported them so I offered to help them record their new band.  While we were able to lay down a few tracks the tensions again proved to be too great and they never returned to mix the results down.  

      There were never any hard feelings afterward and I like to think I remained friends with Nate and Rob even if we rarely spoke.  I was always closest with Rob and we're still in touch today.  I'm still in touch with Nate as well.  Judd was always a distant person.  I'm not sure what happened to him over the years.

       The Part-Time Whore story doesn’t end there.  Sometime later the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno got in touch with me and asked if I’d like to submit a work of art for their Nevada Now Touring Exhibit Initiative.  I said fuck yeah.  In 2002-03 the record got the tour it truly deserved and finally the record did leave the Las Vegas valley.  The Part-Time Whore record was framed and a CD of the music was played on display in museums all over Nevada including Winnemucca, Pioche, and Goldfield!  As big time as you can get in Nevada.  

    It toured the state for two years.    The citizens of Panaca and Ely must have thought that shit came from another planet.  As a result I started a myspace page so people could hear the songs if they stumbled upon it at a museum.  I forgot the password and the email to that myspace account so it'll probably go away sometime in the near future.  At least this blog post will serve as an internet reminder of what that group did.  And that group did a lot.      

    I’m sure I seem like a cry baby telling this story the way I have.  But I don’t know how else to tell it.  If we weren’t battling it out in that practice space in the way we did then there’s a good chance Part-Time Whore would have sounded like any number of shitty NoFX/Green Day/Engage clones or god knows what other kind of shit making the rounds in 1998.  That’s not fair.  Nate is an incredible song writer/composer.  Anything he would have made without my input would have sounded unique.  I’m just glad we were able to collaborate on something which doesn’t sound too dated to these 2010 ears.  I learned a lot from him.  I hope he is as proud of this record as I am.  And it's my hope that he doesn't think I'm an asshole for sharing those experiences, warts and all, here.  

    Since this story is told entirely from my own point of view I think it might do somewhat of a disservice to the whole Part-Time Whore story.  With ten years of hindsight this is the picture that comes to my mind.  I think the other guys would agree with me at least up to a point.  I can only share what I learned and once again mention that I am forever grateful to Nathan for letting me join his band.      

     Some notes on the sound.  Keep in mind this is not a major label recording.  The sound and representation of some songs leave a little to be desired.  I posted the demo a few months ago because I thought we nailed some songs performancewise on the demo even though that demo was even more lo-fi than this record turned out.  This was recorded on an 8-track cassette.  So it's not gonna blow your speakers.  

     It's not a concept record but from an aesthetic point of view we tied the record together by adding sounds and audio collage which would give it a concept feel.  I'm glad to say that everyone in the band thought this was a good idea at the time.  The inclusion of these sounds was an unusual step for a band at that time.  Sure there were a million bands mining movies or TV for samples on their records but none that I know of who did their own recording of sounds to produce a cinematic storytelling vibe.  The record has more personality as a result and I think it makes it more of an experience rather than just being another collection of songs.  

    I wrote all the lyrics.  So I gotta say something about them.  As mentioned in the demo post it was important that I bring something substantial to the table since I didn’t play an instrument.  Plus I didn't want to look like a jack ass screaming about some shit I didn't actually feel strongly about.  I'm obviously not on the level of Bob Dylan but I’m proud of what I wrote for this band.  Looking back I still live by the words written in the song This Is It.

    I never tried to make politics a centerpiece to PTW although it's easy to see an agenda with a song like Outside of Town.  But who in their right mind thinks a Nuclear Waster Repository at Yucca Mountain is a good idea?  Only a politician I guess.  

   Even though it's a bit heavy handed Communication Is a Weapon seems more philosphical to me rather than being overtly political.  But what's the difference anyway?  All these words stem from personal experience which I think make them more real.  
    I cringe when I think of the stupidity and naivete of Ultimately It's All About Fucking but I think it was worth it to try and do something completely different from what was happening in the underground at the time.  In one of the few reviews written on this record this song was picked out as being different and somewhat daring.  So yeah I think it was worth the embarrassment even all these years later.        

    Will I ever be in a band again?  I’ll never say never.  For all the grief and drama it meant the world to me to stand up against the world with those guys.  I’ve missed that feeling of camaraderie ever since.  No matter what our differences might have been off stage when we were on stage it was us against the world.  I've never been able to duplicate that chemistry, and honestly I’ve tried to make it happen two times since Part-Time Whore broke up.  Neither project held a candle to what we did and I quit shortly thereafter or was kicked out before anything could be recorded from either of those groups.  

    I’m am happy that Nate has taken up the mantle again with his new band Elements of Now.  His talent deserves to shine again.  I wish him only the best and I thank him for making Part-Time Whore such a memorable band.

Download Part-Time Whore "Home" LP

1. It Is To Laugh
2. This Is It! (The Song That Should Have Changed the World)
3.  interlude
4.  I Haven't Got the Courage To Care
5.  If Only...
6.  Communication Is A Weapon
7.  You (Whoever That May Be)
8.  Outside of Town
9.  interlude #2
10.  Kevin Kidd
11.  Ultimately It's All About Fucking
12.  Technocracy 
13.  Giant Slug

    I am not the most computer savvy guy in the world.  I am including two pdf files of the lyric sheet because I obviously feel the lyrics are an important part of what the band did.  I have not gone into a lot of detail on what these lyrics meant to me here because I did enough of that shit with the PTW demo post and because I did enough of that shit on the lyric sheet which was printed at great cost on the inside sleeve of the record.

    The jpeg of the lyrics posted above isn't the best quality.  That's why I'm hoping you'll download the lyric sheet and give it a closer inspection.  The files are rather big.  If you know of a way to shrink these files which will still make them readable please let me know.  I also have a Photoshop file of the lyrics if you have a way of reducing their size while maintaining readable quality.  Thanks for reading.

     I have no video or photographs of Part-Time Whore.  If you have video of us playing please share it with me.  

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Keep Laughing One Year Anniversary

     Another year down the tubes.  And I find myself here.  I challenged myself to  keep this boat floating for a whole year and I stuck to it somehow squeaking by with a post for every month in the last year.  It’s not all genius in fact many would argue the opposite.  I’ve even come clean admitting that I go back and edit posts well after publishing.  I admit writing is my weakest link.  But I can see I'm getting better and I know it's through my efforts with this blog.   

     It has become somewhat difficult these last few months.  My enthusiasm waned.  I questioned why I’m doing it.  I beat myself up over it.  I patted myself on the back.  I ran through the whole gamut of emotions.  I’m glad I made it a whole year.   

     What have I learned so far from this project?  Did you learn anything?  What does the future hold for KL?  All fair questions.

     I thought I’d be more engaged in writing through this blog but I have to admit it’s become more of a media outlet than anything else.  Every single post has included a download or link to some relevant information which relates to the writing and I’m convinced that few if any are reading the words.   It doesn’t hurt my feelings.   Maybe this was the point of the whole endeavor anyway?  To get these pieces of media out there for the world.  From there the public will decide if they want to experience them.  But it’s more than that.  Especially when you consider the musical side of what this blog has tried to “archive.”

     History is a strange thing.  We are living it everyday.  Some days I wish I’d kept a journal.  There are so many memories I’ll never be able to trigger again.  It makes me sad when I think about it.  Like so many others I can’t be bothered.  This blog has become a launching pad for me to try and retrieve those pieces of the past that are easily walked over as we move forward everyday. 

     While I’ve gone through some steps to try and carve out a “mission statement” I’ve by and large kept KL loose and flexible because honestly I’m figuring it out as I go.  Looking back it’s easy to see two distinct motivations behind the blog.  So in the interest of making things clear for myself I will declare:

     KL is a vehicle to spur a dialogue to make available, archive, and preserve historic music that cannot be found online.  The focus has mainly been recordings made by Las Vegas musicians from the 80’s and 90’s.  But I’m also interested in any audio or video from Las Vegas, NV over the last 30 years.    
   Also KL is a medium for me to publish my own creative endeavors including films, animations, photographs, drawings, and writings. 

     I never wanted to be the authority figure on Las Vegas underground music.  It just pissed me off that I couldn’t find the Fuck Shit Piss “Seven Song Demo” anywhere on the world wide fucking web.  There’s a million and one blogs out there devoted to the crappiest crust bands ever created.  You can find any jazz song recorded between 1930 and 1973.  But if you want to hear Substance D you are shit out of luck because everyone who had that demo threw it away back in 1995? 

     It was my sincere hope that others might see what I’m doing and perhaps make some of those artifacts available for me, and the world, to hear again.  Some people have stepped up.  Are others close behind? 

     A few people have come forward telling me about the buckets of demos they have.  Some have even mentioned sending me copies so I can make them available here.  So far all those people have flaked.  I won’t name names and bitch them out but I will let you know that my supply of local LV demos is dwindling.  This part of Keep Laughing may well be falling off the map in the next few months.  I still have a few records I’m considering making available here but we’ll see how it goes.   

     Once again I will post my wish list here in the hopes that someone out there still has these demos and can make them available to me as either mp3 files or as a hard cassette copy from which I will make mp3 files.  If you have access to any of these audio treasures please get in touch.

Substance D -demo
Catapult- First demo
Foot Long -Demo
Hairball/Forehead -split demo
Disrupt- demo
Nice Sucks- demo
Blue Ruin- demo
Generics- LP? EP?
OI ALTO- demo
Lady- Vicki Campbell demo
Propeller- demo
Organic- 7” & CD
Area 51- demo
System Rejects- demo
Sampson’s Army- LP
Any recordings of KUNV’s Rock Avenue
Any recordings of Fuck Shit Piss on KUNV
Recordings of the Hardcore Show on KUNV
Recordings of Lunch w/ PMRC on KUNV

     There are many many recordings I am forgetting I’m sure of it.  This is just the ones coming to mind today.  If you have access to these recordings please make them available before you die and your stuff gets thrown in a trashcan and hauled out to the LV dump.

     Other things I’ve learned from KL in the last year?  I admit it’s a bit unusual for me to try and combine these efforts to archive and preserve history as well as showcasing my own work in film, music, and other arty bullshit expression.  No one has come out and said they think it’s wrong for me to be doing it this way although someone did stop following KL after I published the photos of the flag I burned on top of Lava Butte. 

     Fuck em.  It all goes back to my main motivation.  I want to be a better writer.  I write and create where the inspiration leads me and I won’t stray from it to please anyone.  My writing is shining a light on a corner of the world that is fading away.  If anyone has taken offense to the criticism I’ve written about a band they were in that existed 20 years ago I can’t apologize.  If you want to set the record straight please write your own blog.

     I see no problem mixing my artwork and perspective with this mission of preserving history.  I follow a long line of obscurity that will never be pushed over into the mainstream.  Putting it all together in one lump on the internet only makes sense as I am more and more aware.  My worldview, expression, and history only has meaning to a few dozen people.  If that.  But it’s important to those few people.  They're told me how important it is.  So KL will continue into 2011.  

     Just the fact that I’m making available music from such disparate scenes as 5150 and Civic Minded 5 is a strange brew unto itself.  The only thread between those two besides Las Vegas locality is the fact that I saw them and understood why they’re both important.        

     This is all of the top of my head here December 14, 2010.  It’s bullshit that I would go back and edit these posts I know.  Eventually I’ll get to the point where I’ll have several articles being written concurrently so that my edits will be happening prior to posting them for the world to see.  I’m learning.  I hope you are too.

     On a side note.  I haven’t mentioned this but I am currently running for Vice President of the Union for which I am a member.  This union being IATSE Local 28 the Stagehands Union based in Portland, Oregon.  I mention this in closing for two reasons.  I wrote a great deal of material in my campaign for which I am most proud.  The year I've spent writing for this blog has helped me immensely in composing that campaign material.  If you are curious check it out.

     Secondly.  I find out the outcome of that election today.  I haven’t been nervous the whole time of this campaign.  But today my nerves are wracked.  Thankfully this blog and what I’ve written just now has calmed my nerves a bit.  Wish me luck.  

     Thanks for supporting Keep Laughing in this the first year.  Can another full year of laughter follow?  Only time will tell.

     I made the above stop motion video last night in honor of KL’s anniversary.  I was hoping to add audio but once again I'll go back and edit it later.