Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Hunger Artist.

After a pretty stressful five-week full US tour (with an extra week or so at the beginning for me, Eric and Chuck while PROMIS was out with The Faeries) and due to some miscommunication, lack of communication, and generally poor social skills--Dear Diary I Seem to Be Dead decided to call it quits. I got tagged at some point as the reason for the split, and Chuck, Dave, and Steve started A Hunger Artist and asked Eric to play bass. He wasn't into it, although he did end up filling in on guitar for Dave on their tour with Rat in a Bucket and playing third guitar on a show or two. Instead of Eric they got Greg Stein (Gathered Here / Hatchback). That was probably a better move because Greg is an incredible bass player with a very tight style that fit in more with what they were doing here--which is basically a continuation of the last couple of songs Chuck wrote in Dear Diary, departing a bit from the large City of Caterpillar influence and taking on more of a later days Majority Rule or Neurosis sound. A lot less straight forward, a lot jammier, and a little bit more dynamic with the vocals.

About a year after the Dear Diary break up and just a few weeks before the first A Hunger Artist show, we had finally squashed all the pent up hard feelings we had toward each other. There was some talk of adding me and Eric into this band, but after a failed practice and some reluctance from the new guy, we just dropped the idea.

I was supposed to go out on the one A Hunger Artist tour with Rat in a Bucket, but I bailed at the last minute. It's probably a really good thing that I didn't go because there were a bunch of flakey promoters who made the trip somewhat frustrating at times and whom I certainly would not have been able to bite my tongue around. There was supposed to be one more tour out to the west coast the summer of 2005 right before Hurricane Katrina, but I think Chuck couldn't pull through with getting a van, so they ended up canceling. And after the storm, folks were moving all over the place, so they ended up disbanding.

Luckily, A Hunger Artist ended up on plenty of great shows in New Orleans while they were together, mostly at my old house The End of Banks. Aside from that space, they played a few shows at the old Howlin Wolf space (now the Republic), the infamous Dixie Taverne, (now Lookers) and even a house show up in Baton Rouge. They played shows with the Wrangler Brutes, Requiem, the Spectacle, Holy Mountain, Cobra Noir, Magrudergrind, La Chance, Haram, Mare, Skitsystem, Flowers in the Attic, This Scares Me, and a ton more. Some true New Orleans classics.

Unreleased LP:
Light a Torch
See Through
Blood on the Walls
From Point B

Dissatisfied with the Proceedings (demo):
See Through
Shallow Water

Above is an image of the shirts they had. I think Chuck drew the design--which I guess is supposed to be the Hunger Artist at court. Steven Springer silk screened these.

While Chuck was living in Sterling, Virginia, he played in Pizza, and I think he also had something going with the Taylor brothers for a bit. When he moved back to New Orleans, he started the Lovey Dovies with Little James; he's since left that band and has something a little more punk rock / Recess Records with Eric Martinez and Adam Bebee (both from Rougarou) called Opposable Thumbs. Greg is still recording bands here and there with Capstan Studios, though he doesn't have much of a home base these days. Steve has been playing with the newest incarnation of Chopsley (though shows are few and far between); both he and Dave lend their services to Secret Passage which is a solo project from Scott Francioni (Chopsley / Head Pro).

Monday, May 18, 2009

Thou mixtapes I & II.

Although we've enjoyed a lot of success so far with Thou, we've also made a towering mountain of mistakes. One of our most glaring errors was trying to rush the writing and recording process to have records done in time for tours. There was no greater example for us than the comedy of errors that was our tour in the summer of 2008. Some regretful layouts and art choices aside, we had three records that we were getting piecemeal along our way, getting the vinyl one day, jackets another, inserts another. Parts got shipped to the wrong place, things came out wrong, etc etc. Even more foolishly, we decided to sell records without all the parts, take down folks' addresses, and mail them the remainder later on. This was a horrible idea! In the chaos of some of these shows, we didn't correctly list everything we needed to mail out, didn't always check to make sure we could read folks' chicken scratch, and sometimes missed taking down info. And then when we got home from tour, it took another five or six months before our printer could catch up on the work he was supposed to have done before the tour. And us being as busy as we are (read, "slackers"), we put off the packing and the mailing until we had just about everything and could do it all in one fell swoop. If you could have seen the colossus of vinyl and paper and cardboard, scowling at ineptitude, filling the foyer of the Iron Rail from floor to ceiling. The insanity of those five or six hours it took us to rectify certain packing mistakes, sort through emails and notes... A nightmare!

Along with the extra patches and pins and junk we always throw in orders, I had put together these "mixtape" CDrs as a sort of apology to a lot of the folks who had been waiting for so long for stuff they had ordered from us. They also served as a way for us to spread the word about bands we had played with or knew from Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Volume I - Punk Noise.
Our friend Sean spraypainted the tops of these pilfered CDs black, and I put a wolf stamp on top of that in silver--which didn't dry after the week I let them sit out in my apartment, and probably still haven't dried yet. Beware! Most of the bands on this one we played with on that 2008 summer tour.

Fiona Apple is one of the few artists we can agree on as a band. A Pearl Jam / Fiona Apple / Thou tour is probably the only one that could satisfy us all. Look for it in your dreamscape.

Barghest - Lapse
A practice / demo track from Matthew and Terry's black metal band with our friend Jason. Really, raw, intense stuff. What some folks would call "true," although I think it's devoid of the tired pagan notions that permeate the genre and is more of a direct channeling of pure despondency and misanthropy.

The Faeries - Your Milk is My Poison
I'll definitely be making a full Faeries post someday soon with all of their recordings. This is off the full length I helped release on One Eye with McCarthyism and Waking. They were a terribly amazing group. This is the track that really gave them that Nirvana rock-out feel while still retaining the elements of Born Against and Page Ninety Nine that made them so brutal. The Stupid Man rendition of this the other night was the highlight of the evening.

The Separation - Damnation
Ben from The Separation added us onto a fun show at a record store in Redding on our first west coast tour. Our friends in Die Young were also playing. It was funny to see Catharsis Jr. (Die Young) playing a show with Gehenna Jr. (The Separation). One of the guys from Dangers was also there singing for a band called 32 FPS that sounded like Avail meets the Bouncing Souls. Nuts. After the show, we stayed at Ben's house, and put together Tyrant LPs all night.

Atakke - Leviathan / Behemoth
Great female-fronted punk / thrash / metal from New York. Bill from Atakke set up a nice, if overly long, show for us at some hipster club with a bunch of crust lord bands. There are some scathing guitar solos on this track--a wreckoning for the bouncer who almost wouldn't let our merch wizard Jonathan Mudge into the show to smite the audience with his Sales Craft.

Salome - Black Tides
Our good friends from Virginia. We've played with them twice now in DC and are finally finishing up a split 12" with them. Kat's vocals are monstrous. She's literally a monster with multiple hands reaching out from under your bed like in The Gate. She's literally the size of a Cthulhu god and she literally levels entire regions with her screams and bellows. She's also singing for Agoraphobic Nosebleed these days.

Haarp - Fog Cutter
Our brothers from New Orleans. I've known Keith and Shaun for about eight years now. Great guys. And the rest of the guys in this band are just the same. All of these guys are really solid and super down to earth--burly and grizzled old men, but really a bunch of teddy bears. You wouldn't know it from the music though. This is the heaviest thing in New Orleans. And all five of these guys are brothers! That's where their band name comes from; Haarp is their last name. Five brothers in one of the strongest bands around. Look out, Housecore! Down fans will weep.

Vaast - In Homage
Tim and Jeff picked up the slack for us when we were having some trouble getting a show booked in New Hampshire. What a wretched, boring place is New Hampshire. It's the place where screamo and other watered down drivel lives and dies. The art space we played at, however, was incredible. And my two days at Crush Head's house dedicated to a Necromancer party in Final Fantasy I proved most satisfying--along with the holy reign of terror I brought down on the heads of all who thought they could best me in the lost Arts of Dr. Mario and Puzzle Fighter.

We Need to Talk - I'd Rather Die Twice Than Be Born Again
I sent our friend Ian one of these CDs and he wrote in his blog that WNTT "totally sucks" (you can read his full review here). Sorry, Andy! This is some great hardcore stuff from one fifth of Thou, from the Troll Fifth. I always think of these guys as some sort of cross between Left for Dead, Scrotum Grinder, and Memento Mori; but I think this song might have more of a "southern" feel. Thou's first tour only even happened because I had already set up the WNTT tour, I was driving them in my van, and they needed to borrow all of our gear. So we just got the other three guys to hop in and made it happen. I also helped to put out their 7" and did the layout. Thank you. You're welcome.

Adobe Homes - Relocation Was Bound to Happen
Only a minute ago, I was writing disdainfully about "screamo" and now I load up a track that is unmistakably so. Still, these guys are great--very heavy and discordant. And while there's a definite nod to the Circle Takes the Square / Majority Rule / Page Ninety Nine of yesteryear, these guys are obviously from Albuquerque and could very easily draw some comparisons to more obscure late 90s bands like The Hareste or Para la Guerra.

The Devil and the Sea - My Soul is My Abacus
Lafayette, Louisiana sellouts gone Austin turkeys. But we still love them...? One of the best bands to come out of this state. And as good as their record is, it just cannot compare to their live set which is incredible. I liked Ryan's music all the way back to the Icepick Revival days, and this picks up right where that left off for me. They sound like they would've been on Hyrdrahead Records back when that label was still putting out good, heavy hardcore.

Stasis Death - Graceful Sketches
Great kids from Oklahoma City. They threw us a really amazing show at an incredible infoshop up there. And they and Flood were both really awesome that night. That was just all around a nice, fun show with good bands. I mean, limiting the show to three bands, playing at a killer all ages space, having delicious food--sounds PERFECT. A great way to end the tour. And we got to hang out with our friend Chris Presly afterwards in his amazing art compound / warehouse, finish off Scrubs, eat more delicious food, take showers.

A Hunger Artist - From Point B
Another underrated local band whose discography I'll soon be posting. This was basically Dear Diary I Seem to Be Dead without me and Eric and with Greg Stein from Gathered Here on bass. This song is from the last recording they did for an LP before Katrina broke them up. The closest thing they've done to this sort of thing since this band is Dr. Scott Head Pro's solo project Secret Passage that they basically all play in.

Mania - Collapse of Spiraling Iteration
Nate from Leech's solo project. More Salem, Oregon Cascadian black metal malarchy. This one is a haunting, esoteric invocation to spirits and dark magi. It's very raw. You can rely on these guys to always bring some good music to the table in all their various guises (Leech, Vault Dweller, Ancestor Tooth, Munn, etc.) and pretty much everything they release under the Woodsmoke and Eternal Warfare monikors.

Pygmy Lush - The Lonesome Waltz of Leonard Cohen
One of our favorite bands doing a Page Ninety Nine cover ripped from their live radio CDr they sometimes have on tour. It's this kind of weirdo, circus drone that makes me think that the Bywater wizards and Big Ship acolytes would go nuts for this band--eyes closed, mouths agape, heads hanging, bodies swaying, dreadlocks bouncing, feathers rustling, jester bells ringing.

Volume II - Criminal-Minded Chaos Warriors (Magick. Madness. Mayhem.)
I did these to go with the third run of Smoke Pigs hoodies and the remainder of Earth First! benefit hoodies we were mailing out. I used plain white CDrs on this one and kept them free from hyper destructive ink stamps.

Turboslut - Invoking
Our sisters from DC. Fellow weavers of wyrd and conjurers of chaos. If they hadn't broken up recently, I'm sure they would've gone on to become an intensely followed classic hardcore band along the same lines as Born Against or Bikini Kill; now they're destined to be highly sought after cult sensations.

Gathered Here - They Say We're Not Alright
Obscure and underrated New Orleans punk. I wrote about them extensively here. This was the hit--where Jonathan bridged the gap between his coarse yelling in Structral Damage and his melodic singing in The Ghostwood. I can see Darin squeeling into his guitar as I listen.

Mohoram Atta - Dreams of Phanatos
Here's an unmastered song off the split 12" we're doing with our west coast pals. This is epic and heavy hardcore the way it should be, sort of crusty but still retaining that 90s west coast feel. You can also find their demo tape in this post.

Moloch - Green Pills
Heavy sludge from Nottingham. This is a track off of their demo. I posted the whole thing here. We're doing all of our UK dates with these guys this summer and releasing a split LP with them. Soon, we'll be making fun of their accents and they'll be making fun of ours. We'll be forging worldy friendships to last.

Starve - Catfight
Mostly female hardcore / punk band from the DC area. I think the one guy who is in this band was also in Attrition. Pretty good stuff--noisey and dirty.

Marrow - Water Liver Fire (Second Movement)
Adam set up both of our shows at Camp Nowhere in Seattle, and they were both incredible. The second one included his newer band Marrow who were simply amazing. The drummer was just an absolute pleasure to watch. A joy of joys. He really went to town. And while I'll often times compare Die Young to Catharsis, this is where it's really at for a band to pick up that torch. Their whole demo is here.

Rat in a Bucket - A Perfect Pass
Another underrated New Orleans band whose discography and history I'll eventually get to in these pages. This was Keith and Shaun's band before Haarp, but it's in the exact opposite direction, evolving from a straight up Charles Bronson / Spazz power violence band to something more along the lines of the controlled chaos of Coalesce or Botch. And yet both incarnations were still very southern. Very much of The Parish.

Samothrace - Cacophony
Spinks from Samothrace set up our Lawrence, Kansas show, but they ended up not playing, since he and another one of the guys were out on the road. Still a great time, and these guys are a really great band. I managed to catch them in New Orleans last fall, and I was not disappointed.

This Scares Me - K is for Kate Who Was Killed by an Axe
My old friends from Athens, Georgia. I did more shows for them in New Orleans than I did for some local bands. And with the exception of the couple of promoter flakes we ran into, going out on tour with them was one of the funnest and easiest tours I've ever been on.

Seven Generations - Ritual
Andy gives me a lot of grief for adding these guys to the mix since they're more of a straight forward hardcore band, but I think their LP was one of the best records of 2008. Although super nice guys, I was never really impressed by what they were doing until they put out this newest release. Still appalled that they went with New Age over Crimethinc, but I guess they're living the west coast dream.

The Helm - Lament
Great metal band from Tacoma / Seattle. Every time we tried to play with these guys in the NW or for the shows I had set up in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, we were met with catastrophe. But we finally made it happen in Birmingham. Success. And I wear their tshirt to work all the time now.

Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire - Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh
Ethan set up both of our Denver shows and I repaid him by pawning him off onto a horribly attended show at the Saturn Bar. Sorry! At least they got to play with Pygmy Lush and The Lovey Dovies.

Fall of Efrafa - Pity the Weak
Watership Down was one of the few books I read in high school that I really enjoyed. I think I've read it twice since then. I got turned onto these guys by Cory from Protestant / Halo of Flies the first time we played in Milwaukee. And luckily, this band is amazing enough to live up to my love of the text that they draw so much from. Hopefully, we'll get to do at least one show with them in the UK this summer.

Aphelion - The Tide
Our second show in New Orleans was supposed to be with these guys, but they broke up instead of making it down. Too bad because they're great. The CDRs they made for that tour look pretty amazing and were definitely a huge influence on what we ended up doing with our demo CDRs on that first west coast tour.

Frogskin - Necklace of Snakes
Intense doom from Finland on Streaks Records. That label was supposed to help me get the split 7" out with Haarp but got bogged down doing too many other awesome projects. This band and Austrasian Goat are definitely two to check out.

People take it to the next level at a Black Sabbath concert. If only this would happen at our shows instead of people whining that our 30 minute sets are too short. Maybe if we can get Derek to start talking more scratch between songs. Rock around the clock.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tem Eyos Ki.

For the first few years that I started doing shows, all ages spaces were in short supply. The Faubourg Center shut down in the summer of 1998, and the only other consistent space was Movie Pitchers--a great space, but one that took half the door which cut into a chunk of money for touring bands (especially for me back then when I was still trying to grasp the idea that people don't want to come out for bands they'd never heard of and that I would have to trick them into coming out to shows by putting on terrible local bands). The Dixie Taverne was an option since there was an unspoken agreement that carding didn't need to be overly enforced, but doing late night bar shows could be taxing at times. I set up shows briefly in the basement of my apartment on St. Charles and Burdette, but that was destined to fall apart. Nowe Miasto was doing shows back then, but the folks there were so insular, it was hard enough finding out about a show they were doing, let alone setting one up.

Luckily, my persistent attendance and and fervent search for punk shows across the city led me into the good graces of Icky Apparatus and a few of the other Nowe Miastos. In late 2000 or early 2001, Icky ended up putting on an amazing show with Tem Eyos Ki, Them of Delphi, Living Under Lies, The Tree of Knowledge zine distro, Tom Sweet, and I think maybe a local band. This was also my first introduction to the Ark which would become the home for a large amount of my future shows. I think I was most interested in catching Living Under Lies, since it was the new band from one or two of the Talk is Poison folks, who had blown me a way a couple of years before with their show at the Dixie Taverne. But my pal Steven Springer was amped up about Tem Eyos Ki, whom I had never heard of. But, like introducing me to Avail at the Faubourg Center or Dropdead at the Ranch, he would lay his christian hands upon my heathen brow and bless me with another amazing band in an intensely DIY space.

Tem Eyos Ki is one of those short-lived and hugely underrated punk bands like Sicarii, One Eyed God Prophecy, Holocron, or Ire. Imagine a bunch of Peter Pan, pell mell hippie bike punks somehow combining Judas Priest-like guitar leads with early 90s emotional hardcore; now throw in an accordian, a cello, and some singing. Sincere, creative, energetic--this band certainly embodied all the best aspects of DIY punk culture. When they broke out that accordian on "Tigris / Euphrates," it literally blew my mind--not to mention the packaging for the tour CDR (tranparent image set over an old map cutout) had as much of an impact on my graphic design senses as Dan Fox's typewriter-based, cut-and-paste take on flyers; and the packaging for the LP is one of the direct influences for the layout and packaging of the Thou Tyrant LP.

Tem Eyos Ki never made it back down to New Orleans. I was supposed to do a show with them, This Scares Me, and Dear Diary I Seem to Be Dead at Nowe Miasto in 2003, but their tour ended up getting canceled. I did get the pleasure of doing a couple of shows with their other band Soophie Nun Squad before they broke up--the first of which is still listed in my top shows ever. The one Tem Eyos Ki show I did get to attend stands out as one of the most influential shows I've ever been to.

tour CDR:
Drinking Gourd
Tigris / Euphrates
Letter to the US Marshalls
Blind Guardian
Stop Action
John Parker's Iron Wheel
Grinding Rogue Honest
Kaput Mortem

seven inch:
Annie Mae

split seven inch with Hundred Years War:
Kids Kill Kids

new unmastered mix of the LP (aka Argenta Roughs):
Portrait of Agatha Bas
The Lion, the Roach, and the Naked Mole Rat
Last of the Mastadons
Wolf and Moon

The original mix of the LP with the rest of the tracks:
Wolf and Moon
The Lion, the Roach, and the Naked Mole Rat
Pulpit and the Pallbearer
Drinking Gourd
Potrait of Agatha Bas
John Parker's Iron Wheel
Last of the Mastadons

All the Days are Numbered So compilation:
Blind Guardian

Nate Powell has some info up on the Harlan site and a few pictures on his flicker, and there are a few good pictures up on this fan myspace page. This guy from Goleta also mentions them in his blog. And if you do a YouTube search, you can also find a number of awesome videos. And here are the rest of my pictures from that show at the Ark.

Here's Maralie's site for her art, other bands, projects, etc.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pygmy Lush live.

Since Page Ninety Nine broke up, these gentlemen from Sterling, Virginia have gone through a number of bands: Mannequin, Malady, Hissing Choir, Haram, etc. By far, this is the best band of the lot. The quieter side of Pygmy Lush is on par with if not surpassing Page Ninety Nine, and the loud stuff is the closest these guys have ever got to rekindling that young, punk energy.

To back track a little, in July 2000, Josh Sisk--who would later start McCarthyism Records and then sell out punk rock to become a modern day raver / hipster documentarian--asked me to set up a show in New Orleans for Page Ninety Nine. He lived in Baton Rouge at the time, and spaces were hard to come by up there. I had bought Document #5 at Krazyfest earlier that summer and then caught them up in DC on an Earth Crisis show, so I was already a big fan.

I threw the show at Movie Pitchers with the Chopsley of that era. Decent turnout, OK flyer, great music: not too many complaints on this one. This is probably where my love of the two band bill comes from. This was the Page Ninety Nine tour when Brandon from Kilara first joined the band. Back then, their thing was to dress all in black, so Brandon dressed all in white. At that show, he was already covered in dirt and blood. There was some crowd surfing of the couches in the show space. The set ended with "By the Fireplace in White." Brandon ended up completely underneath that old, foot-high stage at Movie Pitchers, throwing trash out and screaming like a maniac. Chris just stared at the audience through the ten minute drone jam, slowly rocking back and forth until the vocals kicked back in and then he started violently freaking out. It was pretty intense.

The next couple of Page Ninety Nine shows were both at the Dixie Taverne, one with Waifle and one with Majority Rule. The second time they played Dixie is still one of my all time favorite shows. A bunch of the guys from Crestfallen were at this show going nuts with the Majority Rule guys. There wasn't a mosh pit as much as a heaving pile of punks, like a writhing mass of maggots. I should also mention that it was the posters that my half brother Dan Fox made for these two shows that led to me ripping off his cut-and-paste, black and white xerox, typewriter flyer style--the one that made me famous.

There were two more Page Ninety Nine shows in New Orleans before the break-up, both at the Ark. The first one was George Krumm's birthday, so all the guys got polluted out of their minds before they were supposed to play. They got back to the space late. Johnny could barely set up, let alone play, his drums. They got through about 10 or 15 minutes (not far off from their usual set time) before they had to just call it quits. Chris made up for the short set with a good 30 minutes of drunken ranting on the microphone, culminating in him being complete naked and just screaming at people as they left. I think they all felt pretty bad about their shennanigans, especially Mike, so the next show they played completely sober and maybe a little longer than usual.

I also caught them in Tampa and Birmingham; on tour with Eat a Bag of Dicks in Orlando, Tampa, and Tallahassee; and then the last three shows up in DC. Fun times. Here's a video from a show they did in Savannah shot by Pat from Hyperrealist. Page Ninety Nine remains one of my favorite hardcore bands.

The next band from these folks started was Mannequin. They never really did it for me, but were always the beloved revivalists of grunge enthusiasts the world over. The first time they came through New Orleans, I did two shows in a row for them--Dixie Taverne with Murder by Death then Mama's Blues with Exit 86. The Dixie show went great, but the turnout for the Mama's Blues show was pretty weak. Dear Diary played with them a few times on our final tour, and they played over at the 829 House in Baton Rouge while we were gone. I think that show was the one that finally got the house shut down. Ironically, their last show in New Orleans was supposed to be at my old house on Banks Street, and that ended up getting shut down by the cops (and then moved to the Dixie).

Before that last Mannequin show, the Taylor brothers made it through with their side band Hissing Choir, playing one of their few out of town shows--one of their few shows period! It was a pretty good show at the Banks Street Warehouse with them, NOLA-Memphis legends Masters of the Obvious (MOTO), The Ghost Mice, and The Faeiries. Despite there being a trash can within arm's reach, one of the old men who came out for Moto tried putting his empty beer can in a hole in our ceiling. So I yelled at him in front of a room full of people and made him feel like an asshole. One of those rare times that my wrath was justified, I think.

The next manifestation to hit New Orleans was Malady about nine months later. I really liked these guys live. They reminded me of the older City of Caterpillar songs--more straightforward, less of the Godspeed! You Black Emperor jam out parts. It's too bad they were so short lived. Before the show started, one of our roomates Theresa was moving out of the warehouse. Since she felt like she was leaving on bad terms, she decided she wanted to destroy the walls she had built for her room. Paul begged her not to do this, but she did it anyway, taking a hammer to the sheet rock. I don't think I've ever seen Paul so mad in my life--not even when he gets to that point in his drunkeness where he becomes ornery and violent. We were all in the kitchen laughing about it and shaking our heads, secretly afraid that he would knock her out. Luckily, Paul calmed down, took away the hammer, and Theresa and her cronies left. A happy ending for everyone. Except Little James who had to move into her trashed room.

About a year later, Mike and Kevin came through with Haram. I loved the first stuff they did. It reminded me a lot of the later Majority Rule songs, which were my favorite. They came through again a little bit after Katrina and played the Darkroom in Baton Rouge. This was when I was living in Oakland, so they figured I wouldn't be able to do the show. Fools! I was in town on vacation and putting on shows. Could've hooked up a rad show at Coach's house. Pretty much no one was at the Baton Rouge show, and I think they got screwed on money which was a pretty typical story for touring bands who played at the Darkroom. Luckily, the next time they came through in 2007 I was back in town and throwing shows at the Green Project.

I caught them the night before in Pensacola, and that was my introduction to Pygmy Lush. They pretty much blew me away the first time I saw them. It was really refreshing to see my good friends doing another band that I could get into as much as their first efforts.

To hype the pile of shows I'm throwing for these guys this year, I did a short run bootleg CDR of the live radio set they released. The actual CD also has the quiet tracks off of Bitter River and Mount Hope (without repeating the ones they played on that show), but you should just go ahead and get those records; they're amazing. The titles on these tracks might be a little off. Let me know if you catch a mistake.

Dead Don't Pass

Throw the Jockey
No Feeling
Butch's Dream
Hard to Swallow
The Lonesome Waltz of Leonard Cohen (Page Ninety Nine cover)
I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend (Ramones cover)

I must have accidentally hit the "mirror image" option when I was making these copies, so the text came out backwards. I wasn't trying to be arty, that's for sure. Special thanks to my pre-fiance Emily McWilliams for helping with the cutting, stamping, folding, and collating of these.

As soon as I can get a copy of the recording, I'll post the songs that Eric Martinez recorded live on WTUL last time I did some shows for Pygmy Lush on the Ghastly City Sleep tour.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gathered Here.

I met Jonathan West through James Whitten when they were playing together in Structural Damage. I started seeing Jonathan around at a lot of the Plan It X type shows like This Bike is a Pipe Bomb and the Devil is Electric and a handful of hardcore shows. He started coming out more and more, and we became pretty good friends. After Gathered Here, Jonathan went on to start The Ghostwood with James. All three of us moved out to Oakland together after Hurricane Katrina, lived in the same building, and played together in Path of Daggers Crown of Swords. When we moved back to New Orleans, Jonathan played a few solo acoustic shows doing some unused Ghostwood songs and some other stuff he had written. Right now, he's not playing with anyone, but I think there's still hope.

After Structural Damage had broken up, I was doing a show at Cypress and Jonathan told me he was starting a new band with Greg Stein and Steven Roussell from Hatchback with this nutty kid Darin Acosta from Norco. Hatchback had been one of the greatest bands to come out of New Orleans, and Greg and Steven are incredible musicians, so I was pretty excited about seeing them in a new band. I knew Darin from his sister Megan and from my friend Steven Mudge. He also came out with us on the Eat a Bag of Dicks, so I think at this point, I was pretty familiar with his antics. After Gathered Here, Greg went on to play bass in the post Dear Diary band A Hunger Artist. He's not playing with anyone right now, but still occasionally records bands. Darin is now in an acoustic band called Sorority with Nathan Jesse (The City is the Tower), and sometimes Eric Martinez (Rougarou, PROMIS, Chopsley, etc.) and Emily Hilldore (local classical musician).

I remember when Jonathan was first talking to me about Gathered Here, I thought it was silly that he was going to just sing in the band when he sort of knew how to play bass. At that point, it seemed like good musicians were few and far between in New Orleans, so it just seemed like a waste to use someone who could be playing an instrument on vocal duties. What a fool I was! His vocals in Gathered Here were a huge leap forward from Structural Damage. He really blew me away when they started playing out. Really, the whole band did. Steven's drums had always had that sort of jazzy / clicky French emo sound to them, really fast with tons of fills, and Darin's guitar work really complimented that, seeming to draw an obvious influence from bands like Anomie and Fingerprint. On a whole they sounded like an amalgamation of the straightforward Refused hardcore songs, the start-stop / brevity of Kid Dynamite, and somehow the melody / noise dynamic of Fugazi. They were also a really tight live band, had a ton of energy, and kept their sets short and simple.

Gathered Here never toured, but I think they played some shows in Pensacola and maybe Athens. They were supposed to meet up with Dear Diary on our last tour, but ended up breaking up a few days before they were going to hit the road. We tried getting them to come out anyway with Steve Wiegand and/or Eric Martinez filling in on drums, but they didn't want to do it. I think Darin went to Mexico or something instead. I also tried to get them to play the last Dear Diary shows with Majority Rule, but their differences were irreconcilable, so it never happened. The Dear Diary / Gathered Here 7" that was supposed to come out on Deadtank was also scrapped after both bands broke up, but it might end up still seeing the light of day as a split 12" on One Eye.

Along with the Faeries, Gathered Here remains one of my favorite hardcore bands and one of the best bands to come out of New Orleans period. I wish these guys would get back together or start new bands with a similar sound. Here's everything they recorded:

2.5 Years
Good Intentions
Here Come My Friends
Killing Friends
They Say We're Not Alright

Monday, January 12, 2009


Many were the ghosts who haunted the End of Banks Street warehouse--Black power Mike from next door, Fat Brian who squatted our couches, the guy from out of town who called a house meeting because of his scabies, the crazy lady who planted small crosses on the neutral ground--not to mention some of our grave-robbing, drug-dealing, gun-wielding, Funck-denying roomates.

In September of 2004 while I was living at the warehouse on Banks Street, just months after the future Mrs. Emily McFunck had foolishly spurned my affections, three traveling punk ladies from Winnipeg stayed at my house: Morgan, Janelle, and Natalie. Nice ladies all, into hardcore, and flirting with straightedge (UPDATE: that playful love affair has now turned into a life long marriage). They wound up getting stranded in New Orleans for an extra week or so because of Hurricane Ivan. When they eventually made it home, Morgan mailed me her band's CD. It was amazing gothic black metal stuff. Totally brutal and melancholy. And here it is in it's entirety.

Down Forever
Like the City
Hooker with a Heart of Gold
Dead I Will Not be Forgotten
After Derbie Died
Chapters Coming Forth by Day
Where He Goes

That's the back of the CD below. The Slug & Lettuce style pictures are scans from Winnipeg's weekly "Uptown" paper. And there's also a poster from one of their shows below.

In the summer of 2006, a few of the folks who lived at the warehouse and I went on a two-month road trip in the summer that finally took us up to Winnipeg. We finally got to see these folks in their natural habitat, stay at Morgan's house, and buy a bike rack from Natalie's mom. Morgan took a ride with us to Banff and tried to grill some food on the side of the road with eternal handy man, which is probably even funnier and more amazing than you can imagine. Banth, on the other hand, was a total letdown. Don't go to the "hot springs" there. It's just a glorified public bathtub.

From Morgan:
"And after you dropped me off, I hitchhiked to Calgary, flipped a coin in a back alley of the main drag. It was heads, so I got on the junk train that was chugging through town fell asleep in a grainer and woke up in a field in saskatchewan. I trudged through the field, slept (it was 8 degrees C, didn't even have a hoodie, food or more than a half bottle of water, let alone real shoes. All for the sake of letting chance determine my path!!), got back to a highway, and hitched a ride to Winnipeg with a Bosnian refugee / trucker who tried to tell me about watching his wife and kids get slaughtered. Then he tried to get me to have sex with him. I refused, he let me know he wasn't going to rape me (how nice!!), and we parted ways. A month later I moved to Montreal."

A short update on the band members:
In addition to Fuckmorgue, the Morgan that I know also played bass in Vernix and is now living in Montreal, playing a little music, and spending time as a student and tattoo artist. The other Morgan in FM played guitar in Kursk and now lives the married life in NYC. Nancy is living in Vancouver, is a carpenter, and played in Witchking. Erica is living in Brandon, Manitoba at school for music. And Sean is somewhere in BC, laying low, living a life shrouded in mystery.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Big Baby demo

I first met Dan Fox in 1998 when he was helping our friend Kelly McGittigan put on shows at their house uptown on Robert Street called The Ranch and then down at the Audubon Hotel. Offhand, I can remember them putting on some amazing shows with Dropdead, Crispus Attucks, Fat Day, and Casket Lottery, but I know they did a ton more than that. Local bands like Hatchback, Community, and Dogapillar were also in constant rotation on their shows. I think Dan was officially just a "sound guy" or maybe just helped Kelly out, but it definitely seemed like he was always on hand at those first Kelly shows I started going out to. Dan played with Templeton Peck and Indignation (a personal favorite) and would later go on to play guitar in Hatchback, bass in Stupid Fucking White Man (the precursor to The Faeries), MC in The Interview, and a few instruments in the brief but amazing Gretna Sewing Circle. I should also note that I pretty much ripped off Dan stylistically on the flyers I make. I remember him making fun of the computer-generated flyers I was scamming and then taking me to kinkos with him and introducing me to the world of broken typewriters, cut-and-paste, the "negative image" button, and staying overnight in the 24 hour copy shop. I distinctly remember a couple of cool posters he did for me for two of the Page Ninety Nine shows and one he did for the This Bike is a Pipe Bomb / The Wednesdays / Hatchback show at the Mermaid Lounge (That show was the same night as Creation is Crucifixion / As They Wept at Dixie Taverne, and I missed both shows because I was at the computer lab literally writing six papers the day before they were due! A fool's errand!).

Although hailing from the cancerous suburbs of Destrehan, Justin Grisoli was a veteran New Orleans punk of the Faubourg Center and Jimmy's days by the time we started running into each other. I caught his old pop punk band The Santa Smokes a few times at those shows and later on when Eric Martinez was briefly putting on shows at Movie Pitchers. I think the first time I really talked to him was at the big Avail / Propaghandi / Leatherface / Hot Water Music show at Southport Hall. Not long after that, I was throwing a lot of shows at the Dixie Taverne, and he had moved into one of the apartments above the bar. I started seeing him more and more and eventually joined a band with him called Eat a Bag of Dicks. While that band was still around, Justin had a lot of different musical projects going on--Stupid Fucking White Man (and the Faeries after that), The Black Sun, Gretna Sewing Circle, Marx Marvelous, Christ Reverse Psychology Experiment, Mean Day, and probably some others that I'm forgetting. He would also go on to help found the seminal, post-grunge Red Beards. Pretty much every band Justin has been involved with has been amazing, original, and influential on some level, not to mention being a versatile musician, having mastered drums, bass, and guitar.

Brian Serpas was a good friend of Justin's from Destrehan. I don't think he really got into punk until he was 23 or so, and the first stuff he started listening to was Page Ninety Nine, His Hero is Gone, and all the other really extreme, fringe stuff that Joey Gates and Justin were feeding him. I think that gave him a pretty interesting perspective on things and sort of shaped his music writing. He's always had a penchant for writing really strange and original, non-traditional punk guitar riffs--which I've always thought have been pretty amazing. Brian started coming around more and more when Stupid Fucking White Man started. Later on, he would live with me and Justin at the Banks Street Warehouse.

Although a few other folks have come and gone (James Hayes, Chris Prince, Jay Steigner), these three gentleman make up the twisted, maniacal soul of Big Baby, a wonderfully hard band to describe. The first couple of shows they did as an instrumental band, and the music closely resembled early 90s, southern California, emo/hardcore like Downcast and Universal Order of Armageddon--a lot of repitition, that vague Rage Against the Machine type riffing, but still somewhow in the outer realms of punk. After they started adding vocals, things started getting a little stranger, more experimental, a bit more 90s alternative influenced. These days, their sound is a sort of post-punk, grunge-worship slowly making its way back from a long and bizarre sojourn into the far reaches of space and time. It's the sort of music Kang the Conqueror would listen to. Or Mike "Prophet" Taylor and Rebecca of the High Order or the Turboslut.

Despite all of my difficulties with these guys (and by that I mean my brother Dan), I love them to the death. They're certainly one of the most original bands to come out of New Orleans in a long time, and they are all very talented musicians. I know they recorded fairly recently with Greg Stein at the Studio in the Country, but I'm not sure if that stuff is going to be released. They also recorded a recent show (where they covered Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl"), but that apparently came out too poorly to ever be heard again.

Here's their demo from 2007:
Goblin Church
Roach Laughter
Bleeding Assholes
Creepy Alone Time
Warlock Adventures
Storm Dog

The collage picture above is from a few different pictures that Lauren Goldstein took. Justin and Dan are both at the Outer Banks. It looks like Brian is too, but for some reason, I keep thinking that his picture is from the Banks Street Bar.

You can find updates on Big Baby via their myspace, the only website they have (one of those bands).

In other news, the three have started a separate project with Stupid Fucking White Man / The Faeries vocialist Joey Gates called Stupid Man. They've done a 2008 update on songs from both bands and should be playing out very soon. I think this is definitely something for folks in New Orleans to look forward to, as both of those bands were personal favorites of mine in both a local and global sense. I think the Faeries record is one of the best hardcore records--not to mention the great chemistry that these guys have together and their amazing live performances--so Stupid Man will definitely be something to look out for.