Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Zeke

Zeke You! (DVD)
Dead Teenager

Zeke is just a bunch of yelling and screaming, really, but it's yelling and screaming with all the right references, which is why Zeke get a posthumous DVD for their efforts instead of a scathing review in Maximum Rock and Roll and a disastrous stint in a free-care rehab as a parting gift. I mean, they might get those things too, but a DVD is pretty swank, right? So let this be a lesson to you- you really don't have to stray one berserk Bo Diddley riff away from Motorhead just to make it in rock and roll. All you really need is to get a Rat Fink tattoo on yr neck, and wear Venom t-shirts onstage, and slowly let yr hair snake out from short haired punk boy to scraggly, drug-damaged rock n' roll savage in the dizzy span of half a dozen wasted years. I know, that sounds like a lotta effort, but what else are you gonna do with the rest of the decade?

Thirty eight days is all takes in order to lose all common sense from lack of sleep. It's no wonder after watching this documentary on Zeke, that half the battle is distinguishing their blank stares and impaired speech. Amid the numerous live performances, you'll gain a brief insight of the band backstage or pit stops in pawn shops. While the camera focuses in on 9mm, it overlooks the real reason they're there - to bail out their equipment they pawned for weed. Keenan Kelly, also risking his life and sleep, interviews the band and fans that range from gutter punks to women who will and do cheat.

Aside from the brief, and amusing segment when they ask a buncha cowboys and sour-faced girls what 'good time rock and roll' means (drugs, sex, and beer appears the be common consensus), the 'documentary' aspect of Zeke You mostly involves some choppy clips featuring low-level in-jokes and drawling commentary from the band; rolling hi-8 snapshots taken in motel parking lots and chick-less parties at various stops on the lonesome highway. I think the idea here is to really get to know Zeke, ya know, beyond the public image they've cultivated as snarky nerds-gone-wild. Umm, this really didn't do that, tho. I learned that monosyllabic drummer Donny Paycheck looks, and acts, just like the drummer from the Rock School comic, and that they like eatin' cheeseburgers, but I cannot tell you whether they believe in a vengeful or merciful God, or whether any of them have ever killed anything bigger than a box turtle. These are the kind of probing interviews I would've asked. Unless I was as drunk as everybody else, of course, which completely explains the inscrutable, and largely uneventful, interview segments. Drunk band, drunk cameraman, drunk cowboys, drunk, drunk, drunk. Well, ok. So, scratching the 'documentary' aspect, we are left with one vital component- the Rock.

Personally, Zeke's soupy speed trials have always left me cold (I love their 70's superrockin' offshoot Camarosmith, tho, so save yer invective- at least until the new Speed Dealer record comes out), so it's not like I expected to get fully rocked by a handful of ramshackle live recordings- however, I gotta say that when Zeke slow down to a highsteppin' thunderboogie gait, they absolutely blaze, and they do that at least a couple times here. Mostly, tho, it's chaotic, hardcore rock n' roll flailing, and even if that's not my particular cup of tea or poison, I know that Smutstrutter, and just about every other in-the-know 23 year old with sex and chemical addictions and propensities for violence and hazardous driving can't get enough of this stuff. And fuck, it's for them anyway, right? For all the crazy girls and their biker boyfriends, this has gotta be the home video of the fuckin' year, because there's tons of turbo-charged Zekenoise here. And they appear to wear the same t-shirts throughout their tour, which is pretty cool. You might as well smell like rock and roll, too, ya know?

I am still unsure whether Zeke are officially broken up or not (they just signed to metal label Relapse, so I'm guessing no), but they supposedly fractured into brittle splinters during their 2002 European tour, and "Zeke You" proper ends with a few segments from that fateful trip. The most amusing has to be Zeke's hassling of a couple of overly-polite locals in Stuttgart, Germany. Apparently that town didn't rock enough for Zeke.

Girl: Was sagt er?
Guy: Eh, he says our hair is too nice.

As with any DVD released just before Xmas, Zeke You contains it's share of 'extras'. There's a very nicely shot mini-doc shot at one of Seattle's famed and fabled "Pain the Grass" outdoor festivals, in 1996. The band looked like baby-faced punk rockers at that point- it's fun to compare and contrast with the surly, freak-bearded burnouts they've become- and although the interviews didn't illuminate much even back then, the live footage is sharp, the crowd wild, and it looks like everybody had a blast putting it together. There's also a low-budget video for "Highway Star" (certainly one of their best songs), filled with plenty of live footage, and two more even lower budgeted videos, featuring lots of blurry, out-of synch, black and white, super 8 footage. Total fan stuff, really, but who the fuck else would be buying a Zeke DVD? Oh, and I gotta mention the original drummer's KISS t-shirt in the '96 footage. On the back of the shirt it says, "I wanted the best, and I got the best." I swear to God, I fuckin' hate KISS.

Seattle, for some reason, is not on my top ten places to see. It reminds me of a cold dark, moist place, kind of like what a shroud would provide me. Good Time Rock N' Roll is what the band claims to be, but in no inch of this footage and audio that was shot on mini and HI-8 is the theme song for Dukes Of Hazard played. When fans are asked what 'Good Time Rock N' Roll' means, many reply with the same thing. Never once after abusing women, alcohol, and cocaine has this lead to many good things. Usually I end up broke, lonely, or (for instance now), with a blistering bruise on my knee. If you asked me, Zeke arouse octane fury even without cocaine. Chicks willing to bare their tits naturally do not come without the supply of speed. Speed, as in both meanings. Up-your-ass Rock N' Roll, to me, would be a more suitable name. I can't help butt to be anal about labeling the band's sound correctly. Like my knee, it's a blistering bruise that doesn't hit you hard until days later,and just when you think they'e over, there's always some table corner or new trick up Zeke's sleeves.

The idea of an upstart, low budget indie Rawk label like Dead Teenager releasing a DVD, which was formerly the domain of big money majors, is a huge step in the right direction. What with downloading chewing a big hole into the profits of just about every label, outfits like Dead Teenager and, well, Sleazegrinder Records, are gonna have to a lot more inventive if they wanna stay afloat. Me, I'm gonna offer pills and free blowjobs from low level porn stars on my next few records, but a visual document like this is a pretty nifty package, as well. If yr not already a Zeke fan, than this exercise in blown out audio and shaky, guerilla filmmaking is not gonna make you one; but if you're down with their AC/DC-gone-wrong thrasharama, then Merry Fuckin' Christmas, baby.

- Sleazegrinder & Smutstrutter

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