Monday, January 30, 2012

Flash Metal Suicide: Fuzzbox

We've Got a Fuzzbox (And We're Gonna Use It)
Bostin' Steve Austin 
1986, WEA
By Pepsi Sheen

Speaking of girls who can't play, four foxes from Birmingham, England (Hometown of my top fave popsters, Duran Duran, the Jacobites, and Gunfire Dance) -Vickie Perks, Jo Dunn, Tona O'Neill, and Maggie Dunne parlayed their enthusiastic amaterism, and kooky fashion sensibilities into a brief but vibrant flash of pop glory in the mid-eighties. They were one of the many groups, along with early Redd Kross, and Jesus & Mary Chain, who gave our ramshackle rock punk crew, the courage to suck brazenly in front of people, back before we could really play. They were total Wendy James/Primal Scream media darlings way back in the new wave eighties, and we dug their whole trashy bubblegum, psychedelic punk-pop vibe, they seemed related somehow to other groups we dug back then, like Doctor & The Medics (who also covered "Spirit In The Sky", Dead Or Alive, and the Cult. I spent my early years in the land of sportsfans and child abuse, and really took a shining to anything that smacked of weirdo, rule defying individuality. The Fuzzbox girls really meant alot to me at the time. We used to pore over Melody Maker & NME from England and were utterly transfixed by alot of stuff that maybe hasn't held up so well, like uh, Scritti Politti, Kid Creole & The Coconuts, and Baltimora.

Prince and Rick James and everybody had their own girl groups that they produced and wrote songs for, so in a fit of my teenage megalomania, I briefly tried to get several of my witchy death rock girlfriends to learn instruments, and was billing them as Ruby & The Skate Pirates, it was a bad idea, primarily because it was a dumb name, I thought I was pandering to the thriving Ft. Wayne, Indiana punk scene that was full of Thrasher nuts and skate bettys, but also because none of these girls liked the same kindof music-one was into ethereal gothic wailing, and one was into hair-metal, one liked hardcore punk, the drummer was an abraisive,butch dyke who hated my misogynistic/cavalier way with these girls she also lusted for. It didn't help matters that I was seeing three out of four of them at the time. My narcissism knew no bounds back then, alot of them are still mad at me, and I don't blame them, but I am sorry.

I never hear much about Fuzzbox anymore, even though they cleared the land for alot of those fey K Records girlgroups Cobain & Co. liked so much. I dug 'em because they had a great sense of fun, and unapologetic abandon. Songs like "What's The Point?", "Love Is The Slug", "Rules & Regulations", etc., etc., just brimmed over with a gloating and cheerful disregard for weedling boys club musicianship, they were likeour own X-Ray Specs, or a goofier, dumbed down Slits. Punk and new wave were nowhere near to being mainstream in '86. Grown men used to become violent in the midwest when they saw Boy George on the cover of People Magazine. Billy Idol, and the Cure, Adam Ant, and Siouxsie & The Banshees were still extremely threatening to people, then. Four Cyndi Laupers drunk on their own frivolity, bravado, comaraderie, and laughs. Ade Edmonson from the Young Ones (*who also directed Zodiac Mindwarp's "Prime Mover" video) co-starred in their video for "International Rescue", and they were definitely a part of my Flash Metal Suicide teenage sleazegrinding years. But so was Bananarama.

-Like Tigers On Pepsi Sheen

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Movies About Girls Episode 132

Hey Sleaze-fans! Check out Sleazegrinder's weekly podcast!
This week, a short-but-sweet hour-ish long podcast wherein the gang shows up, cracks wise, and then splits.
Also, we revisit that time Jimmy Ether and I flipped out on menthol sticks.
And I talk a little bit about this movie:

You should see it!
Anyway, bite-sized fun!
Download/listen HERE!
Goodbye song by Bobby McClure 
See you next week! 

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Cheap Dates

The Cheap Dates
Self-titled EP (2008)

Four tracks and one’s a Joneses cover, which means the Cheap Dates have – bless ‘em – graced us with the gift of brevity. Extra points for that. Anyway, four went-nowheres from Columbus, Ohio, raised on Bomp and Creem, serving up effortlessly out-of-it NY trash rock in the classic Heartbreakers tradition. Teenage Crimewave sticks out as the hit of the set, but it’s not like the other three sound any fucking different. It’s just got the best title. So, yeah. Listen, they’re one of us. Support ‘em. Buy a t-shirt, if they have them. Ply them with booze if they stumble through your town. And don’t stab them in an alley. Unless they deserve it.  Disregard the last few sentences if they broke up already.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Three Day Threshold

Three Day Threshold
Lost in Belgium
I Scream Records

So, somewhat inexplicably, Boston twang-pushers Three Day Threshold find themselves with a sizable and fervent clutch of fans in Belgium. New York or Milwaukee would have been easier, but what the fuck, a fan’s a fan, so they pack up their three-legged dogs and moonshine jugs and head east. The result is this lo-fi, hi-octane collection of live cuts from various pissholes in Belgium and Holland, complete with intros sputtered out in foreign tongues. If you are unfamiliar with 3DT’s heartbreak bluegrass, well, it’s pretty simple stuff. This is a band created solely to provide a proper soundtrack for that one night when you puked on your shoes and made out with your step-sister. In front of everyone. And bragged about it for weeks. How do you think that’s gonna sound?

So yeah, imagine that, only recorded through condenser mics on weird nights one million miles from home. They play Folsom City Prison and attempt their signature cowpunk stomper Gone at least three times. And they do a smashing versh of the shuffling Black River Gold that almost had me in greasy drunken tears, even though I haven’t had a drink in decades. Great stuff.

Bonus: buy the CD, and you get a free recipe for Flemish Beer Stew. Haha, what?


Monday, January 23, 2012

Flash Metal Suicide: Glorious Bankrobbers

Glorious Bankrobbers
Dynamite Sex Doze (1989)

The Glorious Bankrobbers were Swedish way before it was cool, man. They played sleazy glampunk way before it was cool, too- before it was even invented, practically. And, ya know, they named themselves the GLORIOUS BANKROBBERS – in 1983, no less- which just about every born-again redneck motherfucker punk n’ roll band woulda given up their Skynrd belt-buckles to have thought of first. Oh, and they looked and sounded like Guns N’ Roses, too. Before there was a Guns N’ Roses. Fuckers oughta be soaking up the retro-rock glory like the cock n’ roll pioneers that they are, but instead, the GB’s remain less than a footnote in the annals of rock n’ roll. Stupid fuckin’ annals.

Precious little skinfo remains about the early daze of GB’s existence, due in no small part to the fact they remained a homegrown entity throughout most of their career, but the facts of the case are that they released their self-titled debut in 1984 onSwedish label Planet, and then waited five years before releasing it’s follow up, Dynamite Sex Doze. Why? Who knows? Maybe they were just waitin’ for rock n roll to catch up with them, or something. The original GB’s album is a scarce commodity indeed, so’s all I can really tell ya is that they covered the Sex Pistols obscurity “Did You No Wrong” on it, and they had some truly bitchin’ song titles, like “The Best Speed (is rock n’ roll)”, “Psycho Asshole”, “Bloodshed Twist”, and “Young Alcoholic” (parts 1 and two- and part 3 was on ‘Dynamite’- mebbe that explains where they were for 5 years, in rehab).

Anyway, five years later- exactly at the time that glam metal was disappearing completely in a sea of flannel - the Glorious Bankrobbers released “Dynamite Sex Doze”, a might wallop of full-throttle cock n’ roll rife with rattlesnake daddy guitars that borrowed from Johnny Thunders and Steve Jones almost as much as they did from Andy McCoy, and the kinda spandex sex god vocals that was currently making Sebastian Bach a boorish tattooed millionaire. Ok, so lyrically they weren’t exactly cutting edge- “Hairdown” is about, simply, having long hair, and the chorus goes, “He’s got hair down to his knees/Whoa-oh!”- but at least they were consistent, as every fuckin’ song is about rock, and chicks, and booze. Usually all three. Songs like “Highway Raceway” (“Highway Raceway/Rockin’ all night and day!”) and “Spitfire” are punchy sleaze metal  scorchers with hooky choruses and blazing rock star guitars, “Crazy Sioux” is a shameless- and, fuck, pretty goddamn successful- Hanoi Rocks rip-off, complete with a blazing harmonica solo, and gratuitous or not, they also do an entirely snarly cover of “I’m Eighteen” that nearly out-slithers the original. A couple of the tracks- “Good N’ Bad”, “Small Operations” - devolve into gooey pop metal, but what the hell, it was the 80’s after all. Mostly, it’s all killer, no filler, and it rocks like crazy- and not even in the “It rocks for 1989” kinda way, either, brother- it ROCKS LIKE CRAZY RIGHT FUCKING NOW. If ever there was a drop-everything flash metal suicide obscurity to dig up, it’s this one.

Unlike the debut, “Dynamite Sex Doze” did manage to get the GB’s a little attention from the rest o’ planet rock, which sparked the ballsy but ill-starred decision to leave Sweden and regroup in New York City. If they could “make it there”, right? Well, despite self-releasing a live album, “Live at CBGB’s NYC” in 1991, the Glorious Bankrobbers could NOT make it there, and sadly, they broke up soon after.

A year later, the entire band, minus lead singer Olle Hillburg, re-emerged in the Swedish psyche-grunge band Mental Hippie Blood, who released two albums before imploding in 1995.Hillburg joined that other Swede proto-sleazeglam band, Backstreet Girls, but quit by 1993. Dunno where the GB’s are today, but somethin’ tells me a reunion is just around the corner. Wink.

Oh, and if they were so fuckin’ bad ass, where’s the Flash Metal Suicide come in? Dude, they went GRUNGE and changed their name to MENTAL HIPPIE BLOOD. If that’s not a bullet to the spandex brain, I dunno what is.

- Sleaze

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Advanced Demonology Podcast Lesson 3!

This month's lesson: Winter. Here at Advanced Demonology East, we are balls-deep in snow, ice, freezing temperatures and darkness. It's a bizarre, awful, terrible way to live. Swilson got smart and moved to the West Coast. I am not that bright. I don't know what my problem is. And neither did a lot of tonight's performers, as you will soon hear. This episode, we present you with songs about winter, performed by a variety of artists from genes as far ranging as 80's acid punk to  60's soul. We've also got Mexican psychedelic rock, French femme-pop, dusty country, fragile folkies, and of course, all the proto-metal and occult rock you can handle as you favorite sorcerer-slash-broadcasters take you on yet another journey into the darkest corners of rock n' roll.

All this and more in Lesson 3 of Advanced Demonology!

Download/stream/listen HERE!

Stay warm (and evil) out there!

Friday, January 20, 2012


*Note*": I began my professional writing career (after 20 years of fanzines!) in 2000. I'm pretty sure the first pro-published review I did was for this band. The interview is from 2001.

In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream
Like looking out the window to find planet Earth hanging there in the yellowed sky, like a million dollar paycheck in a world without banks, like a television that bites, the music of 5ive is genetically engineered to stimulate confusion and bliss in equal measures. Earthlings, in their desperate search for gravity, might label 5ive's music as "Stoner Acid Trance". But in space, where robots weep and galaxies implode on a whim, they call it a soundtrack for interstellar love scenes.

After many brain fever nights searching among the circuitry of the Matrix, I locate the geometrically skewed duo of 5ive, and they agree to a clandestine organic interface under the shroud of darkness.

A Crazy Man’s Utopia
Much like the infamous 'House of Long Shadows', the Pounding Room of 5ive may look like Purgatory's forgotten linen closet on the outside, but within it is vast and ornate, casting a warm aura of forbidden knowledge and nary a tinge of regret. Lit like an opulent opium den, hulking rawk machinery throbs throughout the space, it's angry red lights punctuating the murk. 5ive's mad tinkering of exotic squeal boxes have resulted in a pile of malformed circuitry that suggests ancient futurism, their black umbilical cords like watchful serpents, their gentle hum belying the raw power now sleeping lightly within. The walls are covered in crude pencil scratchings that appear to be Sanskrit. Nothing is as it seems. The 2 of 5ive notice my fly-to-the-web trepidation upon entering.
"the lights fuck everyone up", drummer Charlie Harrold ( not his real name) confirms.
"Yeh," laughs guitarist Ben Carr ( an anagram), we have people flowing through here all the time, but they don't stay for long. They say, 'I gotta go, I think I'm going to go blind, I need some light', but I think it's just perfect. I could stay in here all night. I bet you could, too." An invitation, a challenge, a warning.
On the dark side of the gloom, an array of plush couches in varying states of disintergration. It is explained that one of them belonged to infamous Satanist Anton Levay, and that he had made love to Jayne Mansfield on it amidst chanting and candles. But they will not disclose which couch possesses the essence of powerful sex majick, and we end up simply crouching on the corrupted, carpeted floor like conspirators around a campfire. Ben reaches behind him and plucks a guitar string. The sound filters through a squat tentacled Moog keyboard and shoots out with a corrosive squawk, tearing around the walls of the room as if trying to escape. "This is what we listen to instead of the radio", Charlie offers.

I've got to know what I'm dealing with here. Ben drives a sparkling white van. Only two kinds of people use these vehicles - Columbian drug lords and kidnappers. I ask 5ive about their criminal records. Significantly, Ben stares off into space, waiting for the next qustion. But Charlie’s toothy grin gleams with gunrack-for-Christmas mischief, and in an instant, it's obvious. Charlie is a motherfucker. The good kind, the kind that drags you out of a burning building, hoses you off, cracks open a beer, and lights a cigarette without the slightest bit of irony. "I've been arrested many times. You know, for having fun." The lights flicker again. The chuckling of knowing ghosts. And this terrible true tale begins to unfold.

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space
"We don't play weddings, we make art." Ben boldly states, and it's true. The music of 5ive resembles the bursting of Gas Giants and the laughter of insects, hardly the fodder of easy classification. "If I was talking to 'Joe Asshole' on the street", he says, "I'd tell him we play Stoner Rock. But it's bigger than that. It's vast. It's infinite."
Certainly, concepts like heat, madness, and the silent marching of wolf spiders all figure into the 5ive sound, but what of more terrestrial pleasures? Charlie lunges. "Dude, do you want to hear this?" That's what I'm hear for, Jack. "I am the fucking king of classic rock, man. Straight up. Records upon records upon records. After a show, we go home and play some Brainbombs first." I don't know from no 'Brainbombs', but Ben quickly straightens me out. "They reek of their own..." he's too excited to finish the thought. "They're serial killers, they're tough as nails. You gotta get jacked into the Brainbombs. I don't know if they're Swedish, but they're Swedish to me." Well, alright. Charlie continues. "Definitely some Stones, and as the night rolls on and the buzz kicks in, the Who 'Live at Leeds' always comes on. Metal. Pink Floyd..." "Ummagumma", Ben interjects, "will fry your brain." I knew it. At the heart of any band that gets tagged 'Space Rock' is a Pink Floyd fetish. Personally, I have a few problems with the prog rock kings. Like the way they dress, for one. "But they were a completely different band before 'Dark Side of the Moon'", Ben explains. "'Saucerful of Secrets', 'Ummagumma', they were tough, brutal records. And that's at the core of the 5ive sound. That's our roots."
"But our sound is always changing and evolving," Charlie adds. "A piece of artwork is never really finished."
I can't help but to notice 5ive's penchant for finishing each other's sentences. It's obvious that they're close. Maybe too close, like evil conjoined twins. Both are quick to agree.
"I wouldn't do this with anybody else", Ben says. "This is the first band for both of us."
"We’ve played with other people in the past, but nothing worth mentioning", says Charlie. "We have a pretty open studio, and people jam with us all the time, but 5ive will always be just the two of us."
Another free floating blast of space junk bursts from the speakers as Ben offers some advice. "If someone wanted to form a band, I'd tell them to find your friends, people that share similar interests and musical backgrounds. It makes the whole process so much cooler."
Charlie adds some 5ive history. "We've been together two years. We started playing acoustically, but stringed instruments weren't enough, and I picked up the drums. It just progressed from there."
"And every time we learn something new about ourselves, it gets added to the mix", says Ben.
The sleek 21st century 5ive live experience is a low lit, high decibel, blissed out orgy of exotic sound, half strategy, half improvised atmospherics. But what of last century's model, the birthing of 5ive into screaming life? A sly smile forms on Ben's face. "We don't remember our first gig, any of it. I think I was on my knees at one point. A friend of ours said it was almost too rock'n'roll. I know it was too loud, but I don't remember the rest of the night at all. I'm glad we rose out of the murk of obscurity, but I'm also glad that no one remembers what we were before what we are now, because there's no need to. We keep changing all the time, and I don't always know where we’re going, because it's bigger than us. 5ve music has a life of it's own."

You Are Mistaken If You Thought It Was Dr. Jeckyl Under This Mask
Like supersonic crank dealers, 5ive have specific rules of engagement, and little room for compromise. Ben testifies. "People need two things, unfortunately, from bands, which I have no interest in providing. They need lyrics. They need to associate the songs through lyrics and titles. The other thing they need is pictured of the band, to relate the people with the music. Well, I'm not interested in that jazz. I mean, I'm all for pictures. Just not necessarily of us."
"Yeh", Charlie agrees, "we don't need our pictures on the records, or any bullshit promo shots. We're not here to dictate visuals. It's open to interpretation."
The analytical reader will be quick to point out the fatal flaw in 5ive's shroud of secrecy. Unless they plan on unveiling a new look incorporating wrestling masks or corpsepaint, when attending a 5ive show you will, in fact, be staring at our heroes for 45 minutes. "We like to play in the dark", Ben offers. For the record, and to satiate the curious, Charlie looks like trouble. Ben doesn't, but Pontius Pilate had short hair too.
The duo have recently released a 3 song ep to prepare the unsuspecting populous for their upcoming album. Keeping in step with their brazen attempts at commercial suicide, the cd and it's songs remain nameless. Should the band really expect fervent Mega City 5 rockers to shout "Track 2!" above the din at O'Brien's? "Oh, we've got titles", Ben dismisses, "We just don't use them." Charlie adds, "we name them so that we know what we're playing, but we didn't bother putting them on the record. I forget why."
"Because", Ben explains, " we have 8 or 10 songs, but they're only recognizable up to a point. Then they reach a crossroads, and who knows where we'll go with it? So they won't ever be the same anyway."
I begin to wonder if a straight answer is even possible at this late hour. Throwing caution to the wind, I decide to ask the one question they informed me was off limits - the band's name. 5ive consists of Charlie's drums and Ben's guitar. Even if you count the enchanted moog that serves as 5ive fuzzy electric pulse, the band is still two members shy of their namesake. What kind of madness is that? "Damn it." Ben spits. "That cannot be disclosed." Charlie's lips are looser. "A few years ago, I was experimenting with these bizarre art forms..."
"Stop right there!" Ben demands. "You're going to blow his mind. Just make up your own story, man. It'd probably be closer to the truth anyway."
A Planet Where Death Shows Movies
Ben picks up his guitar again. Suddenly, bizarre noises begin spinning around the room. He plays the familiar opening riffs to Black Sabbath's "Electric Funeral", but like a Supernaut gone haywire, it quickly fragments into a different beast entirely. Building new rockets with old parts.
"We have no interest in making money playing music", he continues. Sure it'd be nice if we did, but we're artists."
"Boston's such a punk rock town anyway", Charlie says. "Every band in town plays Misfits covers."
"we don't play any covers", Ben adds. "We can't, really. And even if we did, they'd come out so fucked up, we'd have to tell you what they were."
So far, in the two years that 5ive have occupied this puny planet, the live immersion has been conducted about a dozen times. I ask them what the parameters of audience reaction have been to their unique sound.
"People have thrown bottles at us", Ben states.
"Recently, we played a rock show at the Linwood, then got in the van and drove to Providence to play Deep Heaven, a psychedelic space show, all in the same night. That was our first real 'rock'n'roll' experience."
"It was awesome", Charlie remembers. "At Deep Heaven, we just set up and started jamming. People sat on the floor with their heads right in front of the drums. Even the people that were in the back drinking came up front to rock out."
"we definitely like having people up front when we play", Ben says. "I don't really care what they do, as long as they don't touch my gear. People get stoned and they come up and start grabbing at my fucking pedals. Then it's not so cool. But we can hang with lots of different kinds of bands. One of our favorites is Warhorse. Nobody goes to see them, either. (laughs)"
That, of course, is all about to change. Tortuga recordings will be releasing 5ive's full -length album. Just as soon as they stop recording it. Tales of marathon, all-night, drug fueled madness in the studio are circulating around town like a computer virus. Charlie does nothing to dispel the myth. "We just recorded a song with Mike from Warhorse", he tells me. "It's 63 minutes long."
Meanwhile, the band continues to carve out new sonic landscapes while maintaining the standard lifestyle of esoteric excess. "The 5ive lifestyle?" Charlie ponders. "Drink all day, hang out all night."
"Stay out until 3:30 in the morning, get up for work at 5", adds Ben. "Every weekend of my life is a rock'n'roll weekend."

I'm starting to feel as though days have past since I entered the snaky lair of 5ive. I've got to break the Voodoo trance, lest my mind wander into some terminal freak-out alley that I cannot escape from. The rest of the questions I had prepared are spilling out of my mind like rose petals raining on a dead man's hands, and I think I'm going to go blind. I can easily imagine hapless truth seekers trapped here forever in 5ive's cruel labyrinth, crawling on their knees through the deep pile carpeting, searching feverishly for drugs that don't even exist, lost in the wooshing swirl of possessed feedback. Before fleeing, I ask for any last words. Ben doesn't hesitate.
"Our music takes you somewhere else. Even if you don't want to go there."

The spaceship leaves in 5ive minutes.

- Sleaze

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Too Hot to Handle: The Story of UFO (2005)


Initially, the idea of a whole DVD’s worth of vintage live UFO performances and talking head clips just sounded exhausting to me. I mean, besides Pete Way’s stripy spandex ensembles, there’s not a whole lot to actually see with this band. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how vital UFO actually were to rock n’ roll in their ludicrous amount of years in operation. I mean, nobody really thinks about UFO very much these days, do they? Certainly not in the US, where only a handful of tracks (Too Hot to Handle, Doctor Doctor, Lights Out) ever got any radio play. But the UFO legacy does not rest in hit singles or even it’s numerous spin-off bands (Motorhead, Fastway,Waysted, MSG, Mogg/Way, etc.), but in it’s Spinal Tap-esque crotch-grabbing grandeur. Whenever we think of 1970’s ‘arena rock’ these days, it is difficult to peg down exactly who we’re talking about. The prototypical arena rock band in our mind had to have lots of guitar solos, crazy lighting rigs, groin-exhibiting shiny trousers, flowing manes, and many, many songs about girls who give good head. Now, who do you think that describes, Triumph? Too Canadian. REO Speedwagon? Too many satin shirts. Nuge? Nuge wasn’t a band, it was a right wing maniac in a loincloth. No, the arena rock band of our mind was UFO. They even had a cowbell-heavy song called “Rock Bottom”! And we gotta thank ‘em for all that. It’s not easy being THAT GUY, never mind THAT BAND, you know?
So, with my newfound respect for these shirtless Brit show-offs, I dove into Too Hot to Handle, hoping for a few tinfoil-wrapped cucumbers or “cold sore” outbreaks to justify my above rant.

I did not find any instances of either. What I did find was about 5,000 hours of German ruff tyrant Michael Shenker’s noodly solos, and three very sober band members (Shenker, Mogg, Way) methodically drawling out their less-than-gripping history. There’s also a few quotes scattered about from various members of Def Lep and Iron Maiden. Both bands lay claim to heavy UFO influence, and since both bands have lots of noodly guitar solos, we can safely assume they mean it, maan. Otherwise, you get seventeen live perfs, shot in various, ahem, arenas, and spanning a good portion of their early-mid career. The interview bits were shot much later; “The Story of UFO” was originally released in Japan in 1994, and that looks to be the era of the yakkity-yak. I imagine that this whole package is boner-popping to hardcore UFO-heads, but to the Plebian viewer looking for the arena rock in their mind, this may prove a little underwhelming.

Hmm. Maybe it was Nazareth we were thinking about. Supertramp? Bloodrock?!


Friday, January 13, 2012

Rock City Crimewave

Here's some local sleazy rock journalism I bashed out a decade ago. I don't know what happened to Sticky, but she's probably still hot. Rock City Crimewave broke up, Roadsaw's still together, and it's still not a good idea to talk about the Masons....

"I don't pray in churches, baby" - Iggy Pop

"Rock and Roll tried to ruin my life." - Supagroup

It all started because Tim Catz wanted to bang Sticky. Tim is the former/future Roadsaw magnate who recently emigrated to Los Angles to become Tinseltown's latest Bukowski in training. But at the time, he was just another sleazy rock journalist thinking with his dick. We were sitting around the 'Weekly Dig' offices, pitching story ideas, when he came up with the notion that we ought to write up some features on local rock artists. He would, of course, take on Sticky, the statuesque, raven-haired rock goddess that supplies lucky Boston bands with hallucinatory sex monster gig posters. Going with the ruse, I volunteered to interview Ian Adams, Rock City Crimewave's psychotronic front fiend and noted flyer and t-shirt man. The interview was conducted with typical smarm :

"Well, we were all in the same church group, it was a beautiful thing. See, my dad, he started the first snake handler church in Massachusetts. He got bit by a copperhead snake in the backyard while gardening..."

So, your dad is a snake handler?

"No, my dad is a Presbyterian minister. But I was in this bar once, and I was really loaded, and I started the snake handler myth, and I went into detail about, like, the folding chairs, and I was going on and on, and I couldn't let myself off the hook, and it was Rob from Quintaine Americana's girlfriend, and...."

At some point, we eventually got around to discussing the inspiration for his rather cryptic art.

Hey, my editor said not to mention the Masons.


Well, why did he say that?

"Because whenever we're at a party together, Joe and I get to talking about how, when I was young, I visited a Masonic temple. My dad was a grand knight in the Knights of Columbus and he took us to an Ecumenical pancake breakfast one morning. My sister and I were bored, so we snuck into the temple. There were things that I saw there that related to events that transpired later in my life. And I don't think he can handle it."

Wild. Does Masonic imagery crop up in your artwork?

"Absolutely. The Rock City Crimewave logo is a good example. It's pretty much all Masonic symbolism. The skull and crossbones is from the Knights Templar, and in a lot of Masonic rites the skull is there to represent secrecy, but also in a deeper sense, it symbolizes rebirth. So it comes from this encoded myth, where one of the Knights Templar supposedly had sex with a corpse, and came back to the body to find the head of a baby between the crossbones of the legs. And it's supposed to represent some ancient cult's belief in resurrection..."

That's deeper than I thought, man. I figured you just jammed as many tattoo cliches as possible in one logo.

"Well, the whole thing is structured like that. Even the angles of the thing are symbolic. It's Hermetic, in fact."

Is any of it so secret you can't even talk about it?

"Yes. I'm letting all this stuff out slowly, so that I don't blow too many minds at once."

I slapped a pseudo-provocative title on the thing (Fuck Art, Let's Fuck: Ian Adams on the aesthetics of lesbians with machine guns), and everybody was happy. Until the week after the piece ran, when the following letter to the editor appeared in the next issue:

"To those parties affiliated:

I have been reading your publication for some time now and I find it quite enjoyable. However, I have noticed a trend in, shall we say, "esoteric hearsay." In this weeks issue, the article "Fuck art;Let's fuck" caught and held my undivided attention. Clever title aside, "Sleazegrinder" and Joe of the Weekly Dig, and artist musician Ian Adams should be forewarned. There will be - and always have been - those that oppose your views and will try to silence you.

The organization, of which you speak, Mr Adams, go far deeper that even you may realize, regardless of your father's involvement. I am pleased to note that you are knowledgeable when it comes to this particular subject matter. Well informed, you are not. The Grand Order of Masons, the Knights Templar, the Knights of Columbus and any other ancient society of this nature may not appreciate you speaking freely in regards to insider information. Perhaps when Joe told "Sleazegrinder" not to mention the Masons, the interviewer should not have pressed the topic. The question was even raised as to whether some of this information was "so secret you can't even talk about it." Perhaps, Mr Adams, you should have stated your assent to this idea much sooner during the interview and left your audience to wonder in ignorance.

I am aware of at least two members of the Weekly Dig staff being involved with said organizations. Being something of a researcher, I know their status, their affiliations, and even their particular areas of expertise. However, I am one of impeccable decorum and will not reveal any connections or identities here in this correspondence. Nor will this information ever be used for malevolent purposes. Nevertheless, because of these particular affiliations, I find it necessary to suggest that no further mention be made of this topic. My Organization does not mind the offhand arcane reference, but we would greatly appreciate the same level of decorum from you that we have shown those on your staff involved with us.
Please understand that this letter is in no way to be taken as a threat to yourself or anyone affiliated with your publication. One of your staff, actually, has proven themselves highly valuable to our efforts. Because of this, I am writing merely to caution you with the age-old adage: "Loose lips sink ships."

Respectfully yours in esoteric pursuits, Illiel "

A couple of days later, I'm at work, when I spot my arch nemesis, Norm. I won't get into the specifics of why I don't like the guy; let's just say that he's a jackass on many levels. He also happens to be 33rd degree Mason. He's not nearly hip enough to read the Dig, so I knew it wasn't him that actually wrote the letter, but it was, after all, one of his people. So I harassed him about it. Two weeks before, Norm and I were standing in the middle of a Mercedes dealership parking lot, waiting for a ride. It was so hot, the asphalt was bubbling at our feet. To distract myself from the nagging thought that I was going to die from heat exhaustion waiting for the stupid van, I started up a conversation with him, with typically disastrous results. I was talking about how the Masons had killed Kennedy, a half-baked theory I picked up from the book "Apocalypse Culture" when I was a teenager. That's when he causally mentioned that not only was he in the brotherhood, he was, in fact, a grand poobah. Which did nothing to bond us. So here I was, with this weird pseudo- threat hanging over my head, when I confronted him. "Hey motherfucker, you better call off your dogs in that secret society of yours." He claimed to not know what I was talking about, so I showed him the letter. "Listen", he says, "In any group of people there's going to be renegades, people that go against the established order. I don't know who this guy Illiel is, but I wouldn't worry about it." "So", I say, "the Masons don't really have any interest in me?" He smirks. "Oh, I wouldn't say that." The next day, Norm hands me an email that he'd gotten that read, in part, "Subject 18999435, Ken McIntyre, observed on Saturday, 7.14 at 5:20 p.m. on Mass. Avenue in Cambridge, accompanied by unidentified blonde female, approx. 5'9". Step up observation on female subject?" I laughed it off. I mean, I'm easy to find, after all. Norm laughed too, saying it was some greasy joke, but who really knows how far the tendrils of the Masonic conspiratorial octopus stretch? Meanwhile, Ian was conducting his own spin control, and the next week, his rebuttal was printed in the 'Dig':

"In response to the letter that appeared in your last issue [ the strange potentially veiled threat potentially from a Mason or member of another secret order]:
Dude, Any of the Masonic, Hermetic, or otherwise esoteric beans I may have spilled can easily be found in your local library. Please try to remember the purpose of the brotherhood is to enlighten, not to threaten outsiders. That's precisely why organizations like the AFAM, AMORC, Templars, etc get so much heat. As a matter of fact, years ago, the worshipful master of the Tri-town temple suggested that I start my journey with the book "Born in Blood", I think it's a good one for anyone interested to start with. Above and beyond that, chill out.

Ian Adams Grand Archeteuthys, CC "

So far, no black cloaked assassins have dragged either Ian or myself into the nearest alley to silence our cult busting derring- do forever, but the night is young. I only hope that with all our efforts, Tim scored with the chick in the leather pants, and that it was delicious.

- Sleaze

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Flash Metal Suicide: Vain

No Respect 
Polygram, 1990

For some reason, I was immediately captivated by this sleazy San Francisco hair lot and their big budget video for "Beat The Bullet", which saw these primped out metal models poncing around some big city sidewalks, checkin' their make-up in the shop-front windows, and frolicking about, pursing their lips, under neon lights, like ya do, and well, I was initially impressed with their singer, Davy Vain's nasally, Vince Neil-influenced, gutter whine and poses.

"Hey you! I'm no fool!/What you got going? What you got going?/You've got temptation eyes
What you got hiding? What you got hiding?
You've got a way to make me feel- Like I want to be with you!
Just a little more than hypnotized, But if I do what I wanna...
Get down on my knees/Praying to the lord that I beat the bullet/Get down on my knees
Praying to the lord that I beat the bullet
New York, L.A., Frisco
Boy, they got something- boy, they got something

Now I've been around this world/What's it got for me? What's it got for me?
You got temptation in your eyes/Now one and one is two
Just a little more than hypnotised/But if I do what I wanna
Baby baby what you got hiding/What you got going? Will I beat the bullet?
Oh you got more you got more more/Than a man could want..."

..Looking back now, I'm pretty sure I mostly just liked their clothes. I paid hell for it, too, cos yasee, at the time, I was already caterwauling, myself,  in this band called VAIN DAMAGE, and well, the guitar player was this dangerous art-rocker curmudgeon, who slept in a rodent infested basement, on some canvas drop cloths, and smelly piles of black G.B.H. t-shirts. At the time, he was listening to stuff like Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel, P.I.L.'s "Metal Box", Skinny Puppy, Big Black, White Zombie, early Raging Slab, "Hear It Is" by the Flaming Lips, and the Fast. He had a cat named Acid and a tarantula named Darby, and extremely little patience for glamour puss poseurs from the West Coast. We were kind of having our own cultural war, back then, as he was a bit older, and therefore, understandably more knowledgable and partial, to the English rose glam rock of the seventies, than the whining corporate sleazesters of the late 80's. I was somewhat redundantly always trying to get him to see the validity of Van Halen, Hanoi Rocks, Faster Pussycat, and Guns 'N' Roses, while he was always digging out rare pictures of Hanoi Rocks for me, "Young, Beautiful, Talented, and Rich?" from old N.M.E.'s and Melody Makers he kept stashed in the closet, but always trying to teach me more about the Clash, and Patti Smith, The Wanderers, and theVelvet Underground. In a way, I figure we both won, cos he eventually took to Faster Pussycat, and I ended up learning to dig most all of his Forced Exposure stuff, not involving Steve Albinior Ogre and Dwayne (RIP). He now plays in a glammish, high octane, NYC sleaze-rock band, while I sleep in a rodent infested basement on some canvas drop cloths, and smelly piles of black concert t-shirts. Sometimes, life is weird like that. Oh, yeah, so we ended up havin' to change the name of our band, too.

VAIN came outta the S.F. glam-metal scene that also gave the world JETBOY and the SEA HAGS. They played shows with Guns 'N' Roses, Poison, and Skid Row, and took the world, or at least the pages of all the heavy metal magazines, like Metal Forces and Kerrang!, by storm, with their pin-up looks and yep, infectious, whiney sleaze rawk. Davy Vain, also somewhat strangely, produced two albums for Bay Area thrash-merchants Death Angel at the time, and has continued to work in that capacity with young bands like Romeo Is Dead.

No Respect appealed to the same legions of fans worldwide who'd embraced Guns 'N' Roses, Poison, Skid Row, Ratt, and the Crue, but their follow-up album, "All Those Strangers" was abruptly dropped by Island Records, who were getting their asses kicked by the hair-metal corporate juggernaut, Geffen Records. DAVY VAIN went on to form ROAD CREW with ousted Guns 'N' Roses drummer, Steven Adler (Rumored to be righteously back in the studio,working with Izzy Stradlin, as I type this!) using the old name of one of Steven's early bands with Slash. Steven, God Bless 'Im, carried a bit of a reputation with him in those daze, and had sadly been reduced to a smarmy Dennis Miller punch-line: "How fucked up do you have to be to get KICKED OUT of GUNS 'N' ROSES? For doing too many drugs?!!" Davy Vain replaced Adler with former Lords Of The New Church drummer Dany Fury (Also of Kill City Dragons!) and made a third album called "Move On It", I believe.

Altogether, there have been at least four or five albums worth of Vain material, or solo Davy Vain material, featuring ex members of Vain and Road Crew, some released on obscure Japanese labels, but all widely available on-line. Try Glitzine's message board if you're thoroughly interested. Glam rock fans really do split hairs over which bands were "authentic" "Sleaze", as opposed to which bands are "poseur" "hair bands", don't we? Davy Vain has somehow maintained a passionate following throughout all these years of ups and downs, releasing "In From Out Of Nowhere" a few years back, and I remember the big buzz it generated in the mascara'd underworld.. If you find "No Respect" in the cut-out bins somewhere, you might as well snap it up, cos  it  WAS loaded with catchy, well-produced snotty sleaze metal, ("Icey", "Beat The Bullet", "1,000 Degrees", "Laws Against Love") and they're better than TUFF or ROXX GANG...Me, I'm still a hold-out for old Junkyard or Cinderella!

- Savage Henry

Monday, January 09, 2012

Holly vs. Rikers: The Sleazegrinder "Interview"

Any self-respecting music journalist knows that interviews are best conducted when all participants are well-rested, well-hydrated, and well-prepared. But this isn't music journalism. This is motherfucking rock 'n' roll, man, and the following interview with Rikers, a great new band from Toronto, Ontario, was drunkenly scribbled down on the backs of old Matadors band flyers with a green medium-point Sharpie that I borrowed from the bartender. (As an aside, I am a fine-point girl myself.) So strap in, fellow sleazesters, and let's do this, shall we?

I just looked over my green Sharpie notes. Yikes. It appears as if a little exposition is necessary before we begin...

I had given the first Rikers EP (which you can download for free here) a quick listen, and I liked the lush, shimmery, sway-and-stare-at-your-Chuck-Taylors vibe the band had going on, and, since my dude was out of town last Thursday night, I grabbed my motorcycle boots and a couple of hot girlfriends and headed downtown to check out the band.

A band was playing when we got there. (I don't know who they were; we were drinking.) And then Rikers hit the stage at 11:20. The keyboardist wore sunglasses, the lead guitarist wore a sweet 70s 'stache, and frontman Ryan Kennedy wore a fur collar over a beer t-shirt. Very rock 'n' roll. (As an aside, some of these details may be erroneous. The bass player may have been the guy with the mustache. And Kennedy's t-shirt may have been a tank top. I was well on my way to hammered by this point. Some nights are just like that, can I get an amen, brothers and sisters?)

Despite the fact that the winter school night crowd was minimal, Rikers played an amazing set of 80s-inspired new wave (including a panty-dampening cover of "So Alive" by Love and Rockets) led by Kennedy's dreamy vocals and veteran stage presence. I don't know how old he is because he wouldn't tell me, and I don't know what other bands he has been in because I forgot to ask, but my money's on a few years spent in dirty basement clubs honing his craft. And the band was tight, man. Tight.

After the show I used my not-inconsiderable Sleazegrinder credentials (along with the fact that one of my hot girlfriends is the Music and Promotions Director at the local university radio station) to wrangle this drunken "interview" out of Ryan Kennedy.

Pre-"Interview" Interview:
Holly: Do you feel comfortable representing the band?

Ryan Kennedy: Haha! Did you see me up there?

H: Excellent point, sir.

RK: Where do you want to do this? Should we go upstairs?

H: Sure. It's pretty noisy down here. [The four of us tromp/stumble upstairs to the bandroom and sit/collapse onto various secondhand seating options.]

H: So, did you get your shirt out of a case of beer?

RK: No, I got it at [something about a relative's secondhand clothing store in Peterborough].

H: Did you deliberately choose to wear a t-shirt that at one point came out of a case of beer?

RK: I hadn't planned on it because I pulled it out of my bag. [I'm not really sure what this means, or if
I'm deciphering my Sharpie scribbles accurately. Let's move on...]

H: How old are you? Or is it not fair to ask?

RK: It's not fair to ask.

H: Haha. Okay. [At this point, recognizing my imminent doom, not to mention being an old pro at the interview gig, my radio girlfriend jumps in.]

Radio Girlfriend: What is your favourite place to play?

H: [thinking] Good question!

RK: I like the El Mo [that's the El Mocambo] and the Horseshoe [which I always type as "Horseshow"-this was no exception. These are both excellent dirty clubs in Toronto, although the Horseshoe Tavern may be the smelliest in the country. Rock 'n' roll is many things, but freshly-scented it is not.]

H: What items are on your rider?

RK: In all seriousness, [For some reason, that's as far as I got in my notes, although I had lots of
room. There may have been something about sandwiches. Possibly some fresh fruit. Also, at some point during the interview, the guy with the mustache came into the room to grab something out of his bag. I told him I liked his mustache. He might have thought I was joking, because he left rather quickly. I was serious. I really like mustaches.]

Radio Girlfriend: [Coming to my rescue again.] Are you planning on releasing a full-length record?

RK: We're working on a couple of EPs that will be released in March.

H: Cool. I liked the first EP, but it is more mellow and shoegazey than your live show. Man, you were so great! Were you impressed that we recognized "So Alive"?

RK: Ha! Yeah.

H: That was an awesome cover. By the way, how do you feel about the penises in the bandroom?

[This deserves an aside. The bandroom at Call The Office is painted black to cover the countless cock-and-balls drawings made by drunk boys in bands. Visible beneath the paint, like the crouching woman in Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," is a gigantic arching penis. Since I was sitting directly across from it and Kennedy was sitting directly under it, I found it rather distracting. Plus, I don't know if I've mentioned this or not, but I was pretty drunk.]

RK: [laughing] Yeah, that is a big penis, isn't it? [Or something like that. I forgot to write it down. We did talk about dicks for quite a few minutes.]

H: Do you have an Eiffel Tower penis? [In silver marker below the Gilman arch is a rather creative drawing of a cock-and-balls shaped like the Eiffel Tower. The workings of the male mind never cease to amaze me.]

RK: Yes.

That's it. That's all I have. Sweet mother of fuck. I did manage to keep the sleaze in sleazegrinder, though, so, you know, there's that.

Thanks to Ryan Kennedy for being a good sport, and thanks to Rikers for putting on a great show. During the month of January, the band is playing residencies in Toronto at The Garrison on Wednesdays and in London at Call The Office on Thursdays. Do yourself a favour and check 'em out if you're anywhere near Downtown Canada in the next month, download the Easter Eyes EP, and watch for two new EPs this March. This band is going places, trust me. I'll keep you posted...


Boomtown Gems

San Fransicko partying pouters come in compact fun-sized packet that yuss, early seventies camporamic glam in any damn colour you want, darling, and a few yet to be invented. Bypass any notion of the similarities to Bob Geldof’s Rats, though there is slight resemblance to their superb second Tonic For The Troops album, and    never once will you have to pause to reflect on what one tit or tat was nicked from (well, ok not exactly true but you gonna argue with Wooly Bully or Psychotic Reaction) though you can place them proudly in the silkily polka dot n’ paisley pantheon of Brats, Dolls, Ramones, Alice, even The Gun Club and biker fumes. Snarling n sniping this is a swaggering glitterball from gutter to groin that will make you touch your hips and maybe even wish they’d let you.

- Stu Gibson

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Flash Metal Suicide: Alien

Comic Fantasy
Mongol Horde, 1983

"Earth to Alien, Earth to Alien- Aaargh!"
- from the inner-groove inscription on "Cosmic Fantasy"

There has gotta be so much more going on with this band then what we’ve been left with. The problem is, ya see, that at the time they were around, no one really gave too much thought about Alien and what they were up to, because there were zillions of other flash metal bands running around with tattered spaceman threads and loony cosmic-headbanger lyrics, and who could tell one from the other? I mean, nobody coulda predicted that Alien’s lead singer would go on to front one of the greatest rock n’ roll bands of all time, before flaming out completely in a fatal bike wreck a few years later, or that their bass player would end up bein’ the only prime-time actor currently sitting on death row in Florida.

Most assuredly, even Alien themselves woulda chuckled at that far-fetched notion. But goddamn if that ain’t EXACTLY what happened, Fred.

Mongol Horde was a short-lived but quite memorable New York-based heavy metal record label that released only 4 EPS before folding- Alien’s “Cosmic Fantasy”, Takashi’s“Kamikaze Killers”, Thor’s “Unchained” , and Virgin Steele’s “Wait for the Night” (all 1983). All 4 records have become highly-sought after collector’s items, and all 4 were popular at the time of their release, so it remains a mystery why the label closed up shop within a year of its formation. I dunno who the Mongol Horde dude was, but the fucker’s gotta have some good stories. At any rate, whilst all four bands had some degree of flash to their image, none of ‘em were glam-metal in the traditional LA “party rock” sense. Thor, of course, was a part-time superhero from Canada, who blew up hot water bottles and bent steel bars between crunchy, Sweet-inspired cartoon-metal tunes. Virgin Steele boasted an authentic guitar hero in Jack Starr, and an alarmingly high-pitched soprano, Dave Defeis, on vox, and a ‘classic’ metal sound that had more in common with the British Maiden-baby bands then with anything stateside. Takashi, despite the Japanese name, were a buncha white guys, and they also played ‘true’ metal, i.e. powerful, Judas Priest-inspired stuff. The only band on the label that flirted with outright Flash Metal was Alien, and that was mostly cuz of their outlandish stage attire.

Speaking of the Sweet, they are a good reference point for Alien’s look, if everyone in the Sweet was as off-the-charts flamboyant as their bass player, Steve Priest, was, and if they lived on the set of an old sci-fi flick from the 60’s.

Traditional metal-wear like spandex, studs, and leather crashed headlong into capes, shoulder pads, purple jumpsuits and space-boots to create some sorta half-assed ‘cosmic glam’ look that resembled a mangled Angel after a long, hard night. But what the hell, it was 1983, and stuff like that was acceptable.

The band consisted of Frank Starr on vocals, Brian Fair and Rikk Kristi on guitars, DamienThe BeastBardot on bass, and Roxann Harlow on drums. Although it’s kinda hard defining gender in these kind of circumstances, Roxann really was a girl, and having a female drummer was not only extremely rare, but rather progressive-thinking for a metal band in 1983. I suppose you’d expect that from highly-evolved visitors form another world, tho, right? Musically, they vacillated between glammy cock-rock and chugging heavy metal, usually in the same song. Frank Starr’s vox were much higher then they would be in subsequent bands- high-pitched caterwauling was big amongst the spandex faithful in the early 80’s- but otherwise, for low-budget, regional metal, it’s pretty solid, fulla fire and energy and a predilection for seamlessly melding contemporary thundercock songs and lyrics into weirdo space-sex themes- see “Star Lover” and the climactic (ahem) title track for evidence of such. But classic? Oh, fuck, no. This is a Flash Metal SUICIDE, after all.

The EP starts with a minute and a half of bubbling, sci-fi synths called “Space Prelude”. The writing of this intro is credited to “Alien”, but there’s no mention of synths on the back cover- mebbe they just lifted it from an old episode of “Outer Limits”, or somethin’. At some point in there, the machine-gunning flash metal riff cuts through the murk, and “Cosmic Fantasy”, part 1, takes shape. Although Bardot’s fussy bass-lines step on the rest of the song for most of it’s running time (Bardot produced the rekkid, natch), the dueling guitars are pretty fuckin’ amazing, as is Starr’s dramatic upper-register screech. Ok, so it sounds hopelessly dated 21 years later – my wife actually winced when she heard it- but for crusty ol’ headbangers, it rock the way you remember it.

Star Lover”, about fucking space girls, of course, is more straight-ahead flash metal, crashing, bashing cock rock with a 70’s arena-ready chorus. Side one’s closer is a 4 minute ode to Alien’s own rockability, “Headbangin’” : “We’re a hard rockin’ band, we play as loud as we can”, etc. Some great twin axe-action on this ‘un, and yeah, I know, it’s pretty stupid, but as I have mentioned before, all METAL bands had to have songs about how METAL they were. That’s just they way it was, man.

Don’t Say Goodbye” was Alien’s stab at commercial success, a woeful pop metal number that finds Frank and Roxann trading off vox, and the band sounding exactly like Journey. And I mean exactly. Maybe this is what killed off Mongol Horde. Anyway, it’s probably only awful if you plunked down yr $8 (more like $80 now) expecting METAL, cuz I kinda like it now, in a wobbly, “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” soundtrack sorta way, but I absolutely hated it in 1983.

Crazily enough, the EP ends with “Cosmic Fantasy”. That’s right, the song you just heard 3 tracks ago. It might be a little different, possibly a little longer, but it’s the SAME SONG. I can’t imagine what the reasoning for this was. I mean, any band can come up with more than 4 songs, can’t they? Umm, maybe THIS is what killed Mongol Horde.

Oh, and the EP finishes with a short burst of backwards-masking. To keep ya from pacing the floor all night, the message is thus: “We are Alien, we are Alien, we are Alien, we are Alien...Alien, the intergalactic gods of heavy metal, we are here to imbed our music in your minds…”

Now ya know.

Sin - Starr and Kristi on the right

Soon after this EP was released, Alien broke up. Seein’ as they only had four fuckin’ songs, I guess that wasn’t so much of a loss. Frank Starr and Rikk Kristi both left New York and headed to LA, where they joined a flash metal band in progress called Sin, led by ex-Steeler/WASP bass dude Rik Fox. A demo tape of ‘em is floating around the planet, but they never officially released anything (a two-song pic disc, “On the Run”, was released on Azra in 1983, before Starr and Kristi joined the band), and Sin, too, soon folded, re-emerging in ’86 as Jagwire without Starr, Kristi, or Fox. Alien’s other guitarist, Brian Fair, joined New York thrashers Hittman with ex-members of Takashi and nuclear-metal goons Attila.
Roxann Harlow quit the music biz and became a successful business woman. Frank Starr, of course, went on to join the biker-boogie legends the Four Horsemen, where he took his business of rockin’ a little too seriously, resulting in a series of lengthy jail sentences and several motorcycle accidents, the last proving fatal. Frank Starr died in 1999.

And what of Damien “The Beast” Bardot? After Alien, Bardot went to Florida and started a successful acting career, eventually landing a role on Miami Vice, as well as in the ’86 film “Band of the Hand”. Although details are sketchy, Bardot somehow found himself involved in a violent robbery in 1987, and was charged, and convicted of first degree murder. Although he maintains his innocence, Bardot was sentenced to death, and remains on death row in Florida. Which is officially the weirdest end that any ex-flash metal cat has come to so far. Talk about living up to yr nickname…

In terms of pure listening enjoyment, “Cosmic Fantasy” is not worth the exorbitant collector-scum prices it’s currently fetching, man, no way. But as a weird, tragic rock n’ roll artifact now tinged with death and murder? Well, then I guess it’s worth plenty. Fuck, I guess you better own this, just in case.

Oh, and Mongol Horde dude, please write in. I have so many questions!


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Sleazies

Trite Ditties and Meaningless Crap
Pelado Records

Obviously, any band with the gall (balls? whatever) to name themselves “The Sleazies” are all right with me. If I had kids, I betcha that’s what everybody would call ‘em, the Sleazies. Also, these cats are from Providence, a mob-riddled, run-down city that appears to be held together by duct-tape and steam, which I like. Can’t be a Sleazie without comin’ from somewhere sleazy, right? Anyway, after a bitchin’ single or two, the sleazy ones managed to stop snorting anything on the top shelf of their parents’ medicine cabinet long enuff to lay down 11 tracks worth of funny, snotty, kinda-evil punk-junk to really spazz out to, baby. Fans o’ the Dwarves, the Pagans, the Sex Pistols, and lotsa other really cool ‘The’ bands are gonna go nuts with this one, cuz it’s exactly what used to make punk rock so much fun – chemically damaged terminal adolescents playing catchy speed rock and saying ‘fuck’ a lot. Their pogo-frenzy hit from a few months back, “I Wanna Operate on Myself”, cracks this ‘un open like a ripe skull, and it’s all Meatmen-style gross-outs and Generation X headboppin’ teenpunk swagger from there. Highlights? “My Kid Drank Poison”, the most rockin’ ode to accidental infanticide since Alice Cooper’s “Dead Babies” and the savage porno punk of “I Wanna Fuck Your Mom”. Dude, my mom’s like 60, ya know. Guess that’s they they call ‘em the Sleazies.

- Sleaze

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Flash Metal Suicide: Blackboard Jungle

Blackboard Jungle 
I Like It Alot
1992, self-released
By Stu Gibson

LA's Blackboard Jungle are contenders for the ultimate FMS, especially among the US contingent.
Having being unsigned puts them up there with the UK's Soho Roses. Before it all gets Euro (or Pan-world) vision, I'm not saying that the unsigned status qualifies them for retrospective glory above and beyond anyone else, but that both the Roses and the Jungle put out excellent, dribblesomely great sleazepopglampunk type records on their own with no help from any fucker but themselves. Their fairly brief website offers few tales in terms of biogs and events and things, and at time of writing I've not heard back from the guys to see about filling in the gaps, so shall we plunge headlong into the heady heartland of downtown LA and sift thru the smog and wheezing winos to the time a wee CD was pressed up after some demos were produced by one Mr Brett Muscat of Faster Pussycat fame, sometime in the early 1990's?

H-o-okaaay then.

Fast forward a few years to the not quite as smoggy streets of Manchester, England, circa 1995 and a young would-be wino (tho he didn't know it then) had, unfortunately as it turned out - tho the small factor of this record was the only good thing - met another young chap called Nick (sort of, as we shall soon see) through the eternal swell of adverts for aspiring musicians that plague every town. We had a chat and a 'jam' or two with a guitar player by the name of Roger before hooking up with a drummer called Simon. The long and the short of it is I ended up trying to sort out a band with Simon for longer than was necessary in the stubbornness of youth, or idiocy, or the stubbornness borne of general stupidity, who knows at this fair and far remove. Bloody good drummer tho. The other two fell by the wayside but it was this character called Nick that was the catalyst for this piece and who we should be centering on for the time being for 'twas he, dear sleazoids, that had a taped copy of the Blackboard Jungle record. Now I was intrigued by the name (he, naturally, as you may soon be able to discern, had never heard of the insanely famous and pivotal film from whence their name derived) so didst copy said tape, which I still have, and then over the years enquired of folk who passed me by (by that I mean people I knew legitimately. I didn't take to wandering about Manchester with a sandwich board on asking if anyone had heard of Blackboard Jungle. They'd have thought it was advertising some new doomsday cult.), none of which could help me discover who this intriguing, and bloody damn good I tell you, band were.

'You Talk Shit About Me. I Talk Shit About You...'
This Nick guy wasn't too keen. He was far too gone down the road of stupid glam. He had a tattoo of 'Nax' on his shoulder, top of his arm, and when asked why, he would come out, as you do, with some deluded dreamtime garbage about how he was called Nick Andrew Smith but thinking that Smith was too common changed the 'S' for an 'X', giving himself the all too rock'n'roll cool moniker of 'Nax'. Way to go, man. The drummer bloke, Simon, used to love it, and laugh and shake his head in wonder why he wanted to name himself after a make of crisps AND THEN TATTOO IT on his person!!! (I enquired after Sleaze as to whether you Statesiders have these - Nik Nacks - and apparently not. Not in New England, any road. They famously, and rather fabulously, come in really stinky flavours like Scampi and Lemon; Nice 'n' Spicy (the best); Spare Rib and putrid cheese feet (made that up, but ya get the picture?)). We went to Manchester's 'premier' Rock club Jilly's Rockworldone summers night and, hell, I thought I wore daft clothes - creepers, drape coats, winkle pickers, vomit paisley patterned shirts, and at that time, disastrously long hair - but never ever did I think that anyone actually wore zebra skin lycra pants. Pleeeeease. Shiny PVC, ohhhh yes, super slinky, slippery and fine. C'mon, look in the mirror, son.

Zebra print! It was the end of a strange, mad day, maybe I was stoned, or too young and stupid to shout out how bad it was, but I'd had an afternoon of him playing me 'songs' so maybe I was simply speechless. Without any hint of embarrassment, or self-effacement, or anything approaching a sense of realization that you sucked, I had this barrage of songs that could, really, looking back, have slightly altered the course of history as they might have made Davy Vain blush and become an alt. country crooner. Perhaps I'm too English or something, but there's, I dunno, there's Paul Stanley, and then there's Nick Nax from Bath, y'know. 'Nuff said. I wanted to be in a band like The Dogs D'Amour, who were unique, have a bit of spin 'n' style of your own, not bullshit sub Motley Crue Sunset Strip shit about, 'Ooooo She said I wore her out / I banged her on the bus and I made her shout' without any sense of humour, tongue in cheek silliness at all. Oh well, it was fun looking back for a moment. He didn't actually write that line, but pretty close, ad infinitum, for a whole double album or so's worth. Man, how dumb am I? We coulda done a Manics! At least an '...Illusion'!

'I Was Just A Fresh Young Thing...'
Maybe that was the problem, and I'm been too harsh. I wrote shit songs in my younger days (hem hem, yuss opinions still vary!) and still can't anywhere near sing so who am I to say? Well, so what, it makes me laugh looking back. And anyway, plenty of bands wrote, and write, horn-rimmed Rocka's but they had, or have, the ability do it well, whether it'sSoho Roses or Danko Jones. The Blackboard Jungle guys weren't quite so fresh but hell, the played like it. I couldn't believe it when I read that this album is a self-release during my googling around after these guys recently. This is quite simply a very, very good record. Deceptively clever, very well written and put together songs (were they session guys? Hmmmm, I wonder). What staggers me, and has done for the last 10 years, is that they sound so of their time and place but in the songs and the lyrics have a sensibility, or -ilities, at least a few steps removed from the general wanna-be scumbucket guff of 'The Strip'.

The album opens and closes with place-name songs, opening with 'Chicago', which underneath it's bruised black belly of lost boy dirty psychedelia lies a lovely, gently rollin' country stroller that wouldn't be looked at sideways by Steve Earle. Fact is, he'd probably marry the fucker. It's a cold-kissed hungover dawn, deliciously melancholic causing you to kiss the can and toast another wasted day, as the skin tightens round the bones on your face.

This glam darkside is one of their great strengths. The whole record is kinda sombre, yet stirring, a coastal Harley ride in Big Sur, wind and seabreeze flowing through your hair...or have I been sucked into an advert for 'The 25 Greatest Biker Tunes for Stockbroking Cowboys'?...Almost at times not a drag strip away from where Faster Pussycat were thrown off the train as they twisted from 'Wake Me When It's Over' into the 'Whipped!' record with songs like 'Jack The Bastard' yet then doing 'Friends' and the AOR 'Non-Stop To Nowhere'. Similarly our boys from the Jungle piledrive their way through the burning bins, murdered devils and dolls, knife sharp nightmares and smokin' sleaze of downtown Chicago and take a drive out to the country blastin' Skynyrd and sippin' spirits on 'Forever You And I' and 'My Old Friend'. Just on the right side of mawkish - 'An old friend on the telephone calling up to say 'Hi / Man I miss you hope you're doing fine'. Anyone who's ever been there screwed up and over for whatever sin or reason and has a call outta the blue will know right off that it ain't sickly sweet pseudo sad eyed heartstring tugging country sap. And you. Yes you, Mister Bassist Britt, I can hear you rehearsing 'Ziggy Stardust' riffs on the fadeout. Tsk! 'This Time Last Year', a mournful tale slumped on the throne of remembrance - 'Oh this time last year a friend of mine was still alive' - too rattles along on a moonlit cruise through desolate small towns of wee small hours sadness and again I hear a hearkening keen like Mr Earle yet also here the melancholic minor chord musings of Tyla's best solo work (like 'Nocturnal Nomad') flowing silently through the sun-tinged long-grasses with witchdoctor whisperings like 'Oh this time last year so many memories were born / But today my blood drips from their thorns...' They wend in and out of these on some slick somersault-inducing rockers like a big-budget matrix-type car chase sequence.

'Generations', a Rose Tattoo chantalong and tailor made for the drummer to do some arm in the air stick-twizzling that introduces itself like a SWAT team coming round for a chat and 'I Like It A Lot' are purpose built for the Rockclub and as such are sturdy little blighters that have lasted the test. The title track been a turn of the 90's Chilli Peppers funkmetalglam work-out that is, unfortunately, one of the few, and minor, disappointing moments on the record (along with 'River Of Love' which is just too hackneyed LA barrel-scraping shit fron the shoe for me), despite it's almost slipping into Love/Hate's 'Slave Girl', as it were. (Strangely 'River Of Love' almost enters GN'R's 'Rocket Queen' for a slight slip of a whip at the beginning. What is it with them and other bands song girls? What is it with my head?!).

Only a slight setback, purely cos it's not up there with the likes of 'Chicago' and 'Paint A Picture'. Oh yeah, did I not mention that yet? 'Paint A Picture', which is downloadable from their wee website, is verily 'n' forsooth a roadmasterasphaltblaster, to nick a few words from Steve Earle. A scorched black tale of bad love for a 'psychotic little thing' - 'Paint you a picture of myself / Paint it from the inside out / I ain't no Picasso / This'll have to do / Psychotic little thing / I still want you' - it further shows off their winning way with a pop melody and hook, nevermind their mantra-chanting choruses, Andy McCoy woulda given up smack for it. Almost. Weirdly, disturbingly so, makes me think of Mike Patton dancing like a chicken on fire in the 'From Out Of Nowhere' video. 'Prettiest Ones', as in 'The prettiest ones always hurt so bad...' is a similar case in point too. The 'Under The Bridge' style guitar work here either shows the RHCP influence mentioned above or shows the prevalence of Kiedis and co's intrusion without invitation into the lives and ears of us mortal millions. For the record, tho, and actually on the record itsgoodgodself, Mr The Guitar Player Dave Zink is pretty damn impressive.  Nothing too ridiculous and so bad it's not even comical a la CC Deville wannabe flash, but some well-placed flash noisescapes and carcrash chunksolos and harmonic helicopter rotor blade riddles of economic splendour and deft touches (there's one, just one, little bent/slide note on the breakdown of 'Forever You And I' that is springy light Thai beef salad exquisite). Similar to the prevalence of the Chilli-bloody-Peppers is the extent of Waxl's all-encompassing effect on people up and down lands of all shapes and sizes. Singerman Kerry Price has a touch of Axl's singing form the back of somewhere round his top jaw and nose style, which Kiedis has a bit too. There's even the odd drop of Mike Patton about it too, and I remember a whileback thinking the vocals were at times hinting at Dan Reed. But thankfully it's been so long since I heard the little I've ever heard of Dan Reed and his fucking Network that I'm not sure if that's the case anymore. See? sometimes being a Flash Metal case helps, as time goes past and you get looked on even more favourably.*

As it started the record closes with a placename song. This time 'California', about, as untold millions of people have done before and since, heading way out west to 'lose myself in California'. This is a really nice atmospheric tune, shuffled along on tickertape train drums and like the Harley ride before is something akin to some vampires flying about the moon-soaked coast looking for those fresh stockbroking biker boys to feed on, as waves break and roil hundreds of feet below. Creates some mythic twilit half-world that would have worked well soundtracking the vampire film 'Near Dark'. And how many LA hairmetal strip assholes (or strip-searching assholes for songs) woulda written something so Johnny Cash/ Earle of Steve country as 'Caught a tear in my Dad's eye as I left home'? I'm not sure if it had a particular effect on the younger me as I'd only just vacated the premises a year or so before that, and I didn't 'lose my faith' to a girl in a topless bar, as this chap did. (was he ripped off? A weird euphemism for virginity? Or was she so dumb it made him lose his faith in the human race?). My run ins with strippers have always been insanely irritating, mainly because the one that used to, and maybe still does, frequent The Salisbury that I used to venture in for an afternoon tipple and sweaty sandwich, was always on the verge of some breakdown or other.

'Sometimes I Think This Town Talks Too Much...'
So the Blackboard Jungle tale closes after a short and sweet sojourn to the last days of sleazepopmetallin' - Hollywood style. A shame but an apt demonstration of the old adage of luck 'n' pluck, and the fact that there's always some tosser that'll get there instead. Such as Roxx Gang, who, if memory serves, were still able to put out a record in 1991, and these guys couldn't get a deal. Tragic. At once one of the best LA streetjunk bands (indeed, they apparently won best unsigned band awards a few times) whilst been pretty unique in that slender stabling, they were perhaps a year or so, or maybe even a few months too late off the block as the grunge Godzilla was stomping down on LA from Seattle and wildhaired AandR arseholes were, well, inverting themselves to move their asses and turn into some sanshoed, slacker cipher. And it was a time BC too,** , where anything remotely Rockin' and glam tinged was just excised from media attention. A whole wad of demos and records, live and studio, and vids are available, which makes me think I should update my old muffly tape, nicely priced from their website and the guys all play still in various Cali bands***, reuniting for a show once a year to commemorate these rather great tunes. Bless 'em. 'The biggest littlest band to ever come out of Los Angeles'.


-Stu Gibson
*To be perfectly honest, and probably quite boring, I actually saw some Dan Reed Network on a vid someone had of old VH1 metal shows and Power Hours and so on. Horrific.
**BC =Before Crue. Before they were literally rehabilitated in the general publics mind and are now feted and worshipped for being shit, talentless muppets, kinda like a sleaze Spice Girls, or Big Brother contestants. Cos it's funny and oh so post-Crue now, ha ha.
***Including the awesome Substitutes, who are probably the most criminally unsigned band in California 10 years later. These fuckers have no luck.
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