Month: October 2011

Lou Reed and Metallica – “A cavalcade of indulgence and half-formed ideas. Why wasn’t anybody around to tell them ‘NO'”

Regular readers of my work (hahahahah!) know that I always prefer to represent something I love, rather than bag on something I hate. That said, sometimes something so odious, so indulgent, so absolutely TERRIBLE comes around that you just have to come down off the mountain and give it what for. That is what I did for Lulu the Lou Reed and Metallica collaboration. And lo! What a stinky turd on the coffee table it is folks.

I direct and all interested parties to check out the piece I wrote
Lou Reed & Metallica – Lulu (Son Of Kurtz)

on the incredibly prestigious Collapse Board. Pretty much one of the only sites that has true music criticism on the internet, run by the cantankerous but lovable Everett True. How the likes of yours truly got involved with such a renowned establishment is a seriously interesting story in and of itself, but i’d be remiss if I didn’t say that this review speaks for itself. Please check it out and consider sharing it on the appropriate shareable social networking sites.

Shorthand review: This is the indulgent sound of the angst of millionaires.…

V&A tour – “The secret to success is just as simple as this, you just hang tough and have fun with it.”

I’m about to go on tour. You probably don’t know me, you probably don’t know my band. We’re not famous, hell we’re not even quasi famous. But that’s ok, it’s still once more into the breech and it’s still totally worth it.

I’ve done this a lot. If you count all three of my bands, it’s been 11 years now. Hundreds of shows playing to hundreds of people and to nearly nobody, almost certainly more of the latter than the former. And here I come for more with my 3 brothers from another mother, 3 monsters of rock so rad I still get a little surprised I was able to talk them into associating with me. We’re storming the northwest and getting in the van like thousands of bands before us. Still, it’s not so bad. For 20 or so days out of the year I get to be this guy:

instead of this guy:

Not bad at all.

Yet, after a certain point careening against the brick wall stops being a laudable expression of perseverance, and more of a sign of mental illness. As my peers and friends settle into domestic living, bearing and raising children. Advancing in their careers. I’m somewhere in between, I live, breathe and exude rock, but I have a day job and “career” that pays me a living wage. I’m luckier than most, compared to many other folks who play music I have it soft. Honestly, if not for some a few costly bad calls in my personal history and some bad happenstance (including a lengthy and costly stint of unemployment) I’d actually probably be comfortable. I don’t think you have to give up music to do “real life”, but it can be difficult sometimes.

The only time I was even reasonably striking distance for getting out to the musical “next level of success” or whatever. I fucked up, pushed way too hard, too fast and I ended up hurting some people that didn’t deserve it and breaking the whole thing apart. That sucks, and it’s something that I have to live with every day. I’ve tried to take ownership of that without letting it rule me completely, all of the also ran, near miss and “almost got him” stories in the world doesn’t amount to much but the appearance of pettiness if you aren’t careful. It’s humbling to start over. Yes, humbling.

To most people I do not appear like a very humble kind of guy, but believe me, I’ve taken some punches and taken some kicks. I have been knocked down off my high horse and trampled by it too. I just refuse to wallow in it and tend to answer pain and failure with more action. Because of that I can sometimes come off like some domineering runaway id, or like an Asperger’s stricken raving lunatic. I promise you that is not the case. If you prick me, I bleed. Sometimes clarity of purpose is easily mistaken for pomposity and irritation at overexposure can give way to outright annoyance. I’m not a an easy guy to be around sometimes, even those closest to me will say so. Nonetheless, I do try to bring the Awexome.

Hence, Victory and Associates. And our record These Things are Facts… which tend to be almost relentlessly positive and earnest (even when it’s being smart assed) because: That’s what I need to hear right now myself and what we think the world needs to hear. It’s a about finding what you love in life and doing it and loving it as hard as you can. Which is what we try to do. We’ve grown, we’ve changed, we’ve improved as a band, as players. And I think what we’re doing is worthwhile, some other people agree. Obviously, it wouldn’t be worth the trouble of leaving your comfortable home to try and bring that out into the world. And even so, there’s always the thought, “I’m wasting my time, I’m wasting my life” But then you realize that it’s a fine line between idiocy and awexomeness, and you get ok with it. And it makes a difference, whether you’re making music for 3 people or 3,000. A changed or bettered life is a changed or bettered life. Plain and simple. Even if there are 53452912878972342 crappy bands with no purpose, direction, function or competing for the space and attention as yours, I still believe music makes a difference. Hell, I know it does.

I’m always astounded by famous people that talk about the hassles and hardships of the road, people that earn a living from it and still complain. “Oh, you’re just jealous”. You’re god damn right I am. They don’t have to save money to tour, they don’t need to worry if anybody will show up. They maybe have to deal with the strain it puts on their relationships, but also: Fuck them. Anybody in the upper class of music should strongly considering shutting the hell up, a minimum wage janitor that busts his ass 10 hours a night on the swing shift doesn’t think you should be complaining and neither do I. Being able to present your art to a willing audience and be paid from it is such an incredible thing. Breaking even is usually the best that a band at our level can hope for. To be honest though, these huge bands are a whole lot of not my thing anyway. It’s not my oeuvre. I’m comfortable where I am at: You probably don’t know me, you probably don’t know my band. But if you listen to our album or see a show we play, you just might love it. Maybe not too, and that’s fine. It’s not for everybody. But it does matter. Just because it isn’t known by everybody doesn’t mean it holds less merit, just that it’s known by less people. We’ve been fooled to equate fame with value, and it’s good to be able to to divorce those …

Hurry Up, Dicks – A treatise on one of the best bands you’ve probably never heard: Hurry Up Shotgun on the day of their cd release.

Hurry Up Shotgun release their second album tonight, 10/7/2011. It’s self-titled. The show is at the Hemlock Tavern in San Francisco. If you had any sense, you’d be there. Actually you should be there even if you don’t have any sense. Because it is a great album and they are a great band.

There are so few bands I know out there that truly grow. Sure they’ll try new things, maybe change, but actual growth as a band is somewhat rare. One of them is Oakland’s Hurry Up Shotgun. One of the very, very few bands that I’ve personally witness getting consistently more vital, better, and growing in stature, skill and presence over the years. It’s worth paying attention to, and I don’t say that lightly as I have played on bills with them for years. Mostly in my bands and for 4 or 5 shows, *IN* their band. A fleeting moment that still confuses the bite size friendship of the Internet age even now.

I’m rarely a sideman in other people’s bands, mostly because most people never ask, probably because they’re afraid I’ll take over the operation and instigate some level of order to their soft-bellied Tom Foolery. Something that could be a concern, considering my reputation for Control Enthusiasm.

I said yes.
After all this was Hurry Up Shotgun. One of the few bands from the SF Bay area I can truly say that I love that is doing something vital and fantastic. At some point I was asked to fill in for departing guitarist Will Funner. It’d be more of a question of shoring up the awesome bits, giving it my heart and soul and just being along for the ride with a band I truly love full of people that I truly love. No problem. So I did that. Part of that was being the Chuck Dukowski and putting it together, partly just driving them, partly bringing the aforementioned thrang, and part of that ended up being the bullshit detector that I have a somewhat deserved reputation for.

“Austin, I love you, and I love what you do, but please turn that god damned amp down. Yes, right now. No, I am not kidding. Yes, it is too loud.”

So I did that tour, and I had a blast doing it, playing Austin’s songs and rocking with all of those guys. There was faltering on their part before hand, and I think they’d be the first ones to admit it. It was a band without a solid foundation anymore that could go either way. I daresay that I brought a bit of fun and sweat and clank to the proceedings that served the songs well. Doing dual backup vocals with Craig and such. It felt good. And more over, it worked because the songs and the band were really good. And you know what? It made me really miss playing guitar, and that’s another story. But this one is theirs, so let’s stay on task, shall we?

After I left and went back to my passion and my band. They decided to stay a three piece, a choice that surprised me at first. But something had changed; they had become a stronger more purposeful unit. I match makered them with Toshi Kasai from Big Business. Producer of the Melvins, Helmet and a ton of other stuff, and a fellow traveller of limiting pointless shenanigans and general silly flippant non-productive behavior. It was a George Martin/Beatles style collaboration/pairing and they made a fantastic record.
Do yourself a favor; push the “play” button now as you read this:

just do it, turn off the Pandora… mute, Pause your Rdio or Mog. Come back to that episode of Marc Maron’s podcast or This American Life later.
Go on, I’ll wait.

Do you think I am fucking around?
I am not fucking around.
Hit play on that button please.

Ok, cool.
So this record is great, one of the best of 2011, which is saying a lot because it’s been a great year for records. It’s the crazy thing where it’s an awesome record, but it’s kind of hard to sum up to. It used to be easy: Hot Snakes + Husker Du. Check please. Not so much this record. There’s crazy vocal harmony stuff that I really didn’t think Austin was capable of. No dis to him, it’s just a quantum leap forward. It’s melodically more mature, a terrible word, but sure, mature. I guess I should have known when rock impresario, drummer and photographer extraordinaire Shannon Corr was actually rendered relatively speechless at trying to describe it before I heard. The only person less likely to be at a loss of words is myself.

As it said in the V and A world: Shit is legit.

So yeah, blown away.

Austin, Craig and Adam, you did something wonderful.

Ok, not only have I been a peer, friend, fan, and hired gun of and for these dudes for a long time. I guess you could say that I’m their “label guy” We have a sort of loose non-monetary affiliation. I help them along with things that they are not so hot at, most of which involves me being a persistent force of advocacy for awesome things. As much as I loathe it, a lot of the thankless grunt work comes a little easier for me than some. I’ll tell you this: you can call it a label if I get some resources. Until then it’s a collective of piss, vinegar, adrenaline, force of will and a dogged determination to bring the awesome as hard as we can. With a cool logo.

So if you are the kind of person that will immediately dismiss a passionate testimonial because of a loose professional affiliation. Click on. I’m sure there’s plenty of other middling hackery out there trying to pass itself off as journalism out there that is waiting for that click through. Otherwise… just deal with it, because …


“She said it’d happen when pigs fly, I shouldn’t have been surprised that she shot me down even after they did.”

Oh man! Are you kidding me?
THis is one for the record books.
Damn right you are jealous.
Damn right you want to see these shows.
Epic rock is going to ensue pals, this I promise.