Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Schizoid- Disco In Frisco demo


       This post is dedicated to Checko Salgado.  Even before I met the guy I saw him as an inspirational figure and if I’m being honest I must admit he’s always been a hero to me.  We seemed to orbit near each other in the Las Vegas underground for many years but it wasn’t until the late 90’s that we became good friends and collaborators.  It means a lot to me that he would consider me a friend.  I could go on like this for hours but if you’ve met Checko then you already know he is one in a million and you’d have to agree his intellect, his compassion, and his smart ass demeanor has done a lot to change the lives of everyone who surrounds him.

       I hate to make this a rush job but this will be a short post to share an amazing find that Checko brought to my attention; namely the Schizoid- Disco In Frisco cassette demo.  Schizoid was among the best of the late 80’s hardcore punk bands to be bred in the Las Vegas valley and while I've mentioned my hard on for Fuck Shit Piss, I will say that Schizoid is certainly in the same league as FSP insofar as being musical mavericks.  They veer off from the LVHC pack, and from pop culture in general by being pioneers in the field of subversive sarcasm long before it became an American lifestyle.  It’s hard to tell if these guys are bonafide geniuses or merely a collection of smarmy pricks.  Either way this is by far the most entertaining demo I’ve come across birthed from the Las Vegas underground. 

        But it wasn’t all Checko’s idea.  It couldn’t have been as incredible a band without the inclusion of fellow genius/asses Greg Higgins on vocals, Jason Paulucci on guitar, and Kevin Kettell on drums.

      Again, I hate to make a rush job out of this post, and I hope to write more later regarding this amazing band.  But for now I’ll let the music do the talking.  This demo will have you laughing your ass off.  And it’s solid, tight late 80’s hardcore.  Recorded off the board at the Gilman Street Project in Berkeley, California in like 1988 I wanna say. 

     The reason for the rush job?  Guess who’s getting back together for a reunion show?  Yep.  Schizoid and several other bands from this time period are playing a one off show in Las Vegas in a few days.  So download these tunes quickly so you can hum along with these smart ass characters as they reveal a blast from the sass.

Download Schizoid- Disco In Frisco below
(Shit.  I forgot to write down the names of some of these songs, expect song titles to follow sometime soon, or just download the whole cassette demo as two files i.e. side one and side two) 
or download each song individually below
Here's Side one:

Okay so it looks like I have the song titles for Side two.  Download side two below:


Haven't heard about the reunion show?  Go here.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

me and YOU


           My brother and I have a strange relationship.  We’re different on almost every level.  We were estranged for a few years.  Maybe we still are?  We barely talk beyond small talk and we usually won’t talk until we’re drinking.  Oh yeah did I mention we bought a house together?  Yeah well we did. 

            It probably wasn’t the smartest move but we’re both poor and I couldn’t have done it solo, so my choice was to partner up with this guy or buy a fucking condo and I couldn’t do that shit.  The reality is it was a smart thing for us to do financially.  We own an unbelievable house in North Portland, Oregon.  We got an incredible price without fucking anyone over and the house has polished up nice.  There’s no denying we’re lucky.  Still I think he’s an irresponsible, selfish, ingrate and I don’t trust him as far as I can throw the prick.  But hey I don’t like almost everyone so maybe I’m the one being unreasonable?   

            In any event we’re currently living together and I hope this doesn’t destroy what little relationship we got.  I guess time will tell?  Anyway this post is for that cocksucker. 

            Something most people might not be aware of is the fact that Mark has continued to make music over the last decade or so.  You probably wouldn’t know anything about his music unless you knew him personally because like most musicians he’s got his head firmly lodged in his ass when it comes to business.  Promoting yourself isn’t the fun part of being a musician but it’s something you have to take a stab at if you want people to know your music exists.  I know very few musicians or artists who want anything to do with the business side and there’s good reasons for that.  It feels really self indulgent.  And no one likes to feel that way.  Least of all an artist who is already by nature self indulgent and buried in their own ego. 

            To be fair I must admit that we both fall into that familiar subcategory of modern middle class Americans.  We both have a passion to make marginalized art that will forever be unknown and obscure and we don’t give a shit.  We keep doing it because I guess we can afford to and we don’t have kids which could prevent us from following these passions.  We both have a distrust and disgust with the modern machinations that are called the “entertainment” or “artistic” industry.  We don’t have any connections with said industry and if we did we’d fuck em up because as was already stated we’re disgusted by the pretension, the prostitution, and we’re disgusted by large parts of humanity to boot.  In this regard we must appear to be masterbating while looking into a mirror.  This is a fast growing subcategory of America as I seem to know many artistic types that fit the profile.  Is it masochism or narcissism?  That’s a hard call.  But whatever you do don’t call us artists.  Them’s fighting words.

            We’re both determined to live with our feet on the ground, and like Casey Casem said “reaching for the stars.”  Although the awareness that the stars are fake is always omnipresent.  I guess me and my bro are more similar than I let on. 

            Anyway Mark has continued to grow and change as a musician.  He has been in the pseudo metal/hardcore band DEAD BY DAWN for over 10 years.  Through numerous lineup changes I’m proud to say that Dead By Dawn is finally coming into their own as far as having their own unique sound within the genre.  When they started out I felt like they were ripping off the Oakland band El Dopa what with that metallic post hardcore darkness.  Later when they got a new guitarist they seemed to be ripping off the band Yes if you can believe that.  That is to say if Yes were scarier, slightly ghetto and twice as fast.  Now I have a hard time pigeonholing Dead By Dawn.  It’s not Metal nor is it anything approaching punk.  I like what they’re doing that’s all I can really say about them.  They have since lost their progressive rock minded guitarist and have switched things up considerably.  Also when the last guitarist bailed they made a wise decision not to be concerned at all about their band’s career moves and have made a concerted effort just to compose new songs and play out once every few months.  They may never tour again unless a record label shows interest.  Which could happen.  There are worse metal/punk bands in Portland,Oregon who find themselves with label support.  I’d even go so far as to say that Dead By Dawn may be broaching “Outsider Artist” status within that respective genre just by nature of them trying new things with their music.  So few bands in that genre are trying to branch out.  Just off the top of my head I can only think of a handful: Goreguts, Melechesh, even Rudimentary Peni who have surprised me by being the only anarcho-punk band who have continued to be relevant into the 2010’s.  But that’s probably just because Nick Blinko is fucking insane.  Not to mention wildly entertaining.       

            I’m getting off subject here.  This post is about my brother Mark’s foray into pop music territory.  He’s been involved in a few projects over the years which have pointed towards a more melodic if not commercial direction.  The first serious “Pop” band he joined went by the name of Re-Up. 

            I wanted to believe.  I really wanted to believe.  But the reality is I hated Re-Up.  Everyone in that group hailed from a more hard rock musical background and they claimed to be crossing the dark pop void.  Instead it felt like they over worked their songs and it came off as mediocre artsy indie rock.  It didn’t speak to me.  In fact it made me wretch.  I kept going to the shows to support the guys because I could hear the hooks lurking in some of their songs.  But they just couldn’t stick to the formula.  The most important “Pop Music” rule: keep it fucking simple.  So the hooks were buried under hours of tinkering in the garage.  I couldn’t hear the rock or the pop.

            We’ve all been in the situation where you go to see your friend’s band and they totally suck.  Sometimes you blow smoke up their ass, but if you really care you know you should be honest in so far as you’re entitled to your opinion.  Mark got pissed when I tried to be honest. Artists are a fickle sort.  I’ve always welcomed any type of response to my work.  Even a negative one.  I can’t even get that so I’ve stopped caring about getting a response of any sort.  I’m totally stroking my own joke just like Mark and his bands but I don’t even have bandmates to share that emptiness with.  At least these guys can play the occasional show to a round of applause.  Once again I will wonder out loud why I’m continuing to do this shit? 

            Anyway, after seeing them over the course of a year I couldn’t fake it anymore.  I was relieved when they finally broke up.  I didn’t have to make up excuses for missing their shows.  Plus now maybe all those players would go back to making good hard rock instead of fake soft rock which is how I always perceived it.

            Some time passed and eventually Mark got another project going with two former members of Re-Up.  I held out hope.  Maybe with less cooks in the kitchen these guys could make simplicity work for them.  Turns out my hunch was right.  The name of their new band: You.  Simple.  I started to get excited.  After a few shows my enthusiasm built up.  And after their first recording I was hooked.  They recently finished a second recording and I’m diggin it as much as the first. 

            I wouldn’t be doing my job as a writer and interpreter of reality without making comparisons and trying to categorize the band YOU.  So here is my take on their sound.  And I might sound like I’m full of shit when I say this but I think that YOU is accidentally following a roundabout trail towards pop bliss that they’re forging alone in the dark.  Sure it takes elements that are already established.  The pop hooks are front and center.  By the end of the song you are able to sing along to a degree.  It verges on Powerpop but doesn’t fall into the same established pattern.  It’s definitely pop, but it’s pop with a unique identity.  Which is a welcome relief from what you think you may have heard before.  I know I’m trying to hype them but the truth is the music does the talking pretty well on it’s own.  It’s not Beatlesque, and it’s not shitty indie pop.  They seem to be moving forward while keeping their feet on the ground.  I suppose I could keep blowing smoke up your ass but I might as well come clean.  I like the direction that YOU is headed and I’m sharing this because I care about Mark and I think that these works of art that we all seem to be “wasting” our lives making need to be heard by more than just our close friends.  Instead this feels like a gift to those who are willing to take the time to listen.  Just like all these blog posts are turning out to be.   
  
             I don't want to be misleading so I should mention that not all the tunes are upbeat.  A few are slower paced and somewhat sorrow filled but they still got some fire. 

            I have a music video in the works for one of their songs.  You might see that video posted here later in the year.  I also made a video using one of their songs a few years ago.  You can see that and read the story about that bullshit by going here. 

            Of course there is bad news.  According to recent reports from Mark, the band You appears to be currently in a state of flux.  They don’t seem to be breaking up but they might change from their power trio format.  That bums me out a bit but I’m still hoping they’ll keep up that momentum.  And hey, if you got a label and you want to help out YOU keep in mind all these songs have yet to be released in a proper format.  In fact I’m pretty sure you can only find them by downloading them here.               

             They have several songs recorded from two separate recordings.  I'm including just my favorites.  Download them for free below:

YOU- the first recording session (whoops don't have names, sorry!)

YOU- the second recording session (yep with names for songs)
3.  Starting Over Again

I should mention that Mark, as usual is on the drums.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Citizen Fish Inc.

       In 1996 the "ska" band from Britain known as Citizen Fish came to Las Vegas, Nevada and played a show out in the desert.  I had a Hi8 camcorder at the time and I was more than happy to record portions of the event for posterity.  They played with a shitload of great bands including the Lizards, the Automatics, Tedio Boys, and the Independents.  I shared these video as a free download on this blog.  

          Last month I got an email from someone who claims to represent Citizen Fish.  They claimed that they were the creators of said video and since it was their property it was my responsibility to cease and desist the sharing of their property.    

         Look, I got no qualms with people trying to make a living doing what they love.  But this is pure comedy.  I created this video and none of the other bands videotaped on that night have had their lawyers get in touch with me for allowing people to download the clips free of charge.  I won't talk shit about Citizen Fish.  Their mediocre music says more about who they are as opposed to any opinion I might have against the limey bastards.  

       I filed a counter complaint with Mediafire but since I don't have the time or inclination to fight Citizen Fish Inc. I will no longer be providing the clip of this band playing live in the deserts of Las Vegas to their adoring "fans."  

         Personally I never cared for Citizen Fish.  I thought it was cute that they would jump on the "Ska" or at the very least "Ska-inflected" band wagon back in the 90's.  More than anything they added to the shame of the 3rd wave of Ska revivalists which watered down ska to the point where you couldn't even hear the Jamaican roots anymore.  Just a bunch of white boys yanking their wanking.  

        I won't be posting this video clip to download ever again.  So don't ask.  For whatever reason they didn't ask me to take down the short interview I did with their singer Dick Cheese.  Or whatever the chaps name is.  Pip, pip spot of tea and all that sort of duff.  Although I will add that they didn't seem to fight youtube about the clip.  If you are interested in viewing these shit heels go check it out here.  Otherwise please spit on these douche bags if they come through your town to pick up a paycheck.  Punk fuckos.  

        If you see this clip released by Citizen Fish in a future DVD please note that you will not see my name in the credits as the cameraman for this clip.  I guess I'm the idiot for sharing this video for free to anyone interested in these goons.  I could have copyrighted the material to protect myself but why would I spend the money to copyright a video from a band I could care less about.  Perhaps more of my video content provided here will be pilfered and sold to unsuspecting music lovers?  Let's hope the other band videos seen here will not be marketed to you dear reader in the near future.  I highly doubt the other bands are of this ilk, you would think no one could be that stupid but just in case perhaps you should download as much as you can before anymore of these videos goes away?

        Here's a copy of the email sent to me:


Dear MediaFire User: 
MediaFire has received notification under the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") that your usage of a file is allegedly infringing on the file creator's copyright protection.
The file named Citizen Fish live Las Vegas,NV 1997 PART 1.mov is identified by the key (j0wydj3tntv).
As a result of this notice, pursuant to Section 512(c)(1)(C) of the DMCA, we have suspended access to the file.
The reason for suspension was:
I have a good faith belief that the items or materials listed below are not authorized by the above IP Owners, their agents, or the law and therefore infringe the IP Owner's rights.
Information about the party that filed the report:
Company Name: Remove Your Media LLC
Contact Address: 4760 Preston Rd Ste 244-227 Frisco, TX 75034
Contact Name: Eric Green
Contact Phone: 8665415173
Contact Email: infringement@removeyourmedia.com
Copyright infringement violates MediaFire's Terms of Service. MediaFire accounts that experience multiple incidents of alleged copyright infringement without viable counterclaims may be terminated.
If you feel this suspension was in error, please submit a counterclaim by following the process below.

        

Friday, May 3, 2013

DON'T STOP


          I’ve been sitting on this video for a few months but I haven’t been motivated to put it out until now.  I decided to post it tonight as a tribute to Jeff Hanneman the guitarist for Slayer who passed away yesterday.  He would have hated this but who gives  shit?  Since his most important contribution to society (Reign) came out of Def Jam records this is somewhat fitting. 

            I will always have love for the heavymetalvomit party but my true love is hip hop.  I keep coming back to it because it always seems to be coming back to me.  I’ve given up on it several times.  Long stretches.  But I always seem to return.  It’s like that I’m like that leave me the hell alone if you don’t think I’m a brother then check my chromosomes. 

            I was dating this black girl years ago and she made the observation that all her white boyfriends in the past would recite rap lyrics like they were singing but her black boyfriends would never do that kind of corny shit.  She was probably right.      

            I’ll tell you a secret.  Listening to hip hop sometimes makes me feel like being violent.  In exactly the same way hardcore used to make me feel violent.  Instead of acting on that impulse I usually channel it into dancing.  Or smoking weed.  Just like I did with hardcore. I have to admit that violent paranoid feeling degrades over time.  When I first hear music of that nature it becomes a primal influence.  But once I’ve heard that same song time and time again that rush seems to fade.  I still believe that hiphop can bring about that feeling.  And I’ll admit hardcore still has that ability.  Thank god Slayer put out one more solid album before it ended.  I still wish they had put out one more.      

            Yeah I still got love for the hardcore, grindsnore, thrash blast bullshit, but I’m just sick of listening to white people so much.  I digress. 

            Anyway this whole mixed metaphor/build up leads to the reason for this post.  I made this one minute video as my first and possibly last homage to the style I love so much.  Hip hop!  Don’t worry I’m not kicking off my new career as a hip hop producer.  But I did all the beats, words, and vandalism.  Although the "animated" sequences were photographed on the streets of Athens, Greece when I traveled there last year.  Since this video contains material that is legally questionable I will not be uploading this shit to fucking youtube.  I don’t need videos of me perpetrating out there circulating.  It's only available here as a download but don't shit yourself with cyber worry it's only 60 megabites and it runs just over one minute.  Maybe I’ll post it on youtube eventually.  I mean you can’t prove shit right?

             After the old man/nostalgia/memory lane video I presented in the last post I like to think of this video as more in touch with the moment being lived today.  Perfectly representing where I stand as a 41 year old man.   

Jeff Hanneman RIP.  

The name of the short is DON'T STOP.  Download it below:

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Vegas that don't change



            I’ve long wanted to take an art shit with the Vegas I remember as the centerpiece.  I’ve had an impulse to go back on one of my visits and take pictures of all the nothing places I remember.  The real home I had in there.  In all the years I lived in Las Vegas it never seemed like I lived in LAS VEGAS.  LAS VEGAS was a million miles away from my life pretty much the whole time I lived there.

            There are still a few places in that town which haven’t changed at all over the years and chances are good they’ll never change at this point, except maybe in degradation as the sands eventually envelop the town.  You know the spots I mean if you live there.  It’s a filthy city.  The daylight has always been the enemy of that town in more ways than one.  It’s a tribute to the graveyard shift lifestyle since no one has to see the shit because everyone gets up at noon anyways.  At least I did.  When I look back on my time there it seems like I cut mornings out of my schedule for over a decade once high school was done.  Another tradition that my Vegas citizenship gave me.  My inability to sleep before 2am. 

            That place is becoming more and more a distant memory that I’ve really started to cherish in a masochistic way.  Mornings in Las Vegas.  The shivering winter mornings, and the blistering Summer ones.  Dusty, barely holding on grass in the bone dry schoolyard.  Playing football in 110˚ sunshine.  All day.  The chicken wire and stucco houses, the roach infested apartment buildings, the parking garages which reappeared in my dreams for years.  Piles of huge rocks.  The broken glass and gun shells everywhere.   Apocalyptic playgrounds.  We’d burn the shit to ground.  That’s what the environment is for in Vegas.  There’s just so much of it.  Or at least there was.  Now I’m a little hard pressed to find the vacant lots or long expanses of desert within the valley.  I found out if you go to the east side there’s still a few pockets here and there.
  
            I lived in Vegas for over 20 years so it’ll always be under my skin.  I’ll never be able to wash that dirt off.  Visits to the city have been infrequent and mixed over the years but every time I return I feel like I never even lived there at all.  Which doesn’t surprise me.  When I lived there I wasn’t really there.  Shit I’m barely here right now.      

            But I consider myself lucky for experiencing all the shit I did while living there.  I got away with a lot and somehow managed to survive relatively intact.  It feels like no one should be able to escape that place alive but I’m just feeding into Vegas own myth saying shit like that.  Or maybe it’s just that I’m still wondering why I’ve lived so long myself.  Tearing yourself to pieces was always the favorite pastime of the Vegas people and it’s a tradition I’m still trying to crawl out from under.    

            The things I’m most obsessed with are things that don’t exist anymore in that town and in the world at large.  That’s probably why history has become such an obsession of late.  And maybe these are the things that don’t exist in myself anymore?  Innocence.  Youth.  Destruction for destructions sake at a moments notice.  Easy answers.  Deep shit.  The small time hustle.  Ok maybe I still got the connection to the small time hustle.
    
            Anyway, I was in Vegas in January and I wanted to make some progress on an art idea with what little time I had, which ended up being a few hours.  I hoped to find those things in my mind which were still out there in the real world to photograph and remember.  It was a chance to photograph my memories of the places that are still around.  The real places I touched one time, the places which used to brush up against me.  I went out knowing I would never have the time or patience to find Old Ladies Cave, Hell Town, Mr. Wuji’s house, the fucked up ditches we vandalized, or the dozens of other rat’s nests that filled my brain, I decided to just fucking drive and stop to take photos at whatever was fucking cool.  Go art!

            I’ve always been straight up east side.  So I gravitated East of Eastern stopping here and there.  After a while it got to be too much trouble so I opted to videotape my ride.  These short videos are the result.  There’s not much effort that went into filming this but there was some time taken in the editing process.  Maybe this is just an exercise to keep my mind occupied.  I don’t know.  I think it’s cool so fuck you.
      

            I’m not trying to impose glamour on a subject that’s obviously lacking, nor am I trying to be ironic.  This was an active attempt to make memories “real” if capturing images digitally from a moving vehicle can make things any more “real.”  Twenty years from now maybe these vids will be memories for some but I wonder if much can change in these neighborhoods which haven’t changed much in thirty years time or more.    

            It’s not my intention to make some social/economic/political statement here.  It’s too easy read this as such and so to me that’s boring.  It’s impossible not to divorce those thoughts from your head if you contrast this with the usual images that come to mind when we collectively envision LAS VEGAS.  Instead I hope that I’m helping to open up a world that has been tucked away even though it’s in plain sight.  I hope this video will help to reintroduce viewers and creators to the beauty of the ordinary.  How’s that for being fucking profound.         
            The editing isn’t too complicated but some will find it annoying.  Jump cuts abound, as well as manipulation of the time and space.  I’m going for a combination of reality and trickery that plays into the unreliable nature of memories.  It’s also an homage to the hundreds of films shot in Las Vegas where the geography is completely out of whack.  

            I’m sure a lot of people come to this blog with an overwhelming sense of nostalgia and I’ve certainly played into that.  This is probably the most blatant wax of nostalgia I’ve done so far here on the blog but there’s still time for me to do more cliché observations and inane arts fuckoffs.   Instead I’ll rationalize that I see this as an exercise in making a history where there isn’t one.   Another cute tradition of Vegas that makes me laugh to keep from puking. 

       There’s no final destination in these videos so for me the road going nowhere is dripping with anxiety.  It would be easy to say there’s nowhere to go in the middle of nowhere.  But if you’ve spent anytime in Vegas you’ll believe you been somewhere special.  And you’re right.  There’s no pace like it in the whole fucking world.  There’s no place like Tokyo either.  No place like Tecumseh, Missouri.  No place like Kabul.  Or y’know shit like that.  I know it’s hard not to but don’t get a swelled head Vegas.
     

            Since I’ve spent a little bit of time on this short project I can make the observation that this video was maybe an attempt to follow the long bus route we took going from Quanna Mcall 6th grade center back to the far east side.  Now I wish I’d continued going down Carey Avenue to see that school as it is today.  Also City View park.  Damn!  I wonder if that Star Trek spaceship is still there.  Jesus fuck that park was ghetto.    

            A soundtrack would be distracting and pointless.  Yay for fucking art.  Feel free to download this art below.

Download All six files below:
Vegas that don't change •2•

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Clay


            Clay Heximer has been a huge part of the Las Vegas underground having served time as drummer for the Heroines, Civic Minded Five, The Impotents, the Mapes, and I’m sure several more great bands I might have missed along the way.  He’s a complete smart ass full of whimsy as well as other things from time to time.  Or maybe I should say he full of whiskey?

            He’s responsible for the cassette compilation I posted here a few years ago which unearthed some incredible Vegas based music which could have been lost forever without his efforts.  I haven’t seen the man in forever but I’ve always liked and respected him. 

            In case you are unaware Clay was recently diagnosed with cancer.  Sadly this kind of thing seems to be happening more and more as me and most people I know become older.  A fund has been set up to help him with his medical bills.  If you can please take the time to help a guy who’s been there for many other people.  Go here to help.


            I’m also including with this post a video that was made available by Rockin’ Chris Crud.  I think Clay had a hand in digitizing this video which doesn’t surprise me.  The video features Boba Fett Youth’s and Leap Frog Society’s first show which happened at the Rainbow Caves in May of 1994 I think?  Also included is a rockin set by Boba Fett Youth inside the Rainbow Caves as well as a set by an early incarnation of the Heroines when they had their first singer.  The video is fucking amazing in some parts and incredibly blurry is other parts but the audio is pretty fucking good.  Eat a cookie bitch.