Does anybody know??

The mighty Spears from Florida made my summer last year.  Their first LP, “Shove” was hardly off my ipod.  Every track was a stormer, and the combination of sleazy punk riffing and Chris Barrows’ tremendous voice, both pissed and whiny at the same time, was unbeatable.

So I have discovered that the band have, as promised, recorded tracks for a new album [although I don’t know whether the rumoured Gregg Ginn cameo happened]; and below is one of them.  The band’s Facebook page reveals that the tracks are all locked up and playfully teases that they ‘may never be released’.

Below, an advert for a show states:

“The spears are doing our final show on saturday jan 19 at mojos records and books on fowler ave in tampa (mojos is in the plaza just east of university sq mall). There are 7 really good bands and it is FREE. The spears play around 9 pm”

So can anybody wise me up?  Have the band split?  I know that there are various ‘other’ projects going on, most notably Down by Law.

Leave me a comment if you’re any the wiser.

Poison Heart – Surviving The Ramones

Y’know, rock biographies/autobiographies are a funny affair.  You have the benchmarks, the real classics written by articulate, often unhinged genii such as Julian Cope with his fantastic two parter, ‘Head On / Repossessed’.  When the writer is so gifted at storytelling, the concept of reading about a rock n roll life becomes compelling and you find it hard to put it down.  Then, you move down the scale and encounter the milquetoast-ish puff-pieces, an example of which, [quite a strange one you might think] is the biography of Paul Heaton, formerly of the Beautiful South.  Singularly failing to dig deep or challenge the egotistical, contradictory Heaton, the toadying writer just piles on the content, with no attempt made to dig beneath the obvious and let us know what makes the subject tick.  Finally, we arrive on the literary skid row, where you find the memoirs of those who, ironically, are probably the truest rock n rollers of the lot – the drug-soaked, addled lifers who didn’t pose, they just went out and did it.  And this basement level is where we find Poison Heart – an unembellished, full speed romp through the short and unhappy life of one Douglas Colvin, better known to you and me as the late great Dee Dee Ramone.

Now DeHud lent me this recently when I called in on our trip to watch NoMeansNo.  He has also just digested the other new-ish book from a late Ramone, Johnny’s ‘Commando’ – which I haven’t yet read and so won’t mention here.  So, what do we learn about Dee Dee?

Let’s let that question hang in the air for a moment.  Two years ago, I called in to the Ramones Museum in Berlin during a nice week long visit to the city.  My partner gamely accompanied me, even though she has rather different musical tastes.  But what became clear very quickly from the cuttings, articles and general Ramones detritus on display was that, contrary to my youthful image of the band as a bunch of pretty dumb, fun filled guys making speedy punk rock that was always the same yet always different, they were in fact a collection of misfits who shared almost no common ground, whose increasingly hostile relationships with one another hardly qualified them to be known as the ‘Brudders’, and who descended into drug and alcohol dependence, mental illness and ultimately untimely deaths.  A happy bunch they were not.  This came as something of a shock to me, and Dee Dee’s short book confirms this view uncompromisingly.

So, back to the book.  Dee Dee was perhaps the most wayward member of the band, a qualification which is all the more remarkable when you consider what damaged personalities the other two [Johnny and Joey] were.  His early childhood in the vicinity of various US Airforce bases in Germany was defined by alcoholic, absentee parents, the classic bunking off school, no discernible interests or talents, and a drift into drug abuse that was initiated the day he found two phials of methadone in a park [as you do….].  I shan’t repeat the story here, but suffice to say we get a reasonable view of his childhood and youth, but then, once the Ramones come along and begin to attempt to play, things get very confusing.

Dee Dee, who had the help of Veronica Kofman [I am not sure of she was the ghostwriter or just tried to arrange Dee Dee’s random, rambling thoughts into a digestible whole], is disarmingly frank about his state of decline.  Outwardly a punk rock hero who hob-nobbed with Johnny Thunders, Stiv Bators, Jerry Nolan and other greats of the era, Dee Dee in fact portrays himself as a pathetic drifter who was unable to form any kind of lasting relationship and who attracted abuse, violence and the exploitative attentions of those more manipulative and intelligent than him wherever he went. To try and deal with this, he adopted an increasingly paranoid and self defensive attitude to everybody he dealt with. Sadly for him, no industry contains more of those manipulators and exploiters than the music industry.

Dee Dee describes in blunt, unadorned terms the effect of his constant struggles with opiates, relationships and alcohol, but the most difficult thing for the reader to deal with is the way in which he darts from subject to subject, peppering his story with random conversations and thoughts which just make no sense at all.  Here is a passage from the chapter dealing with his later life in London:

“Once, near the Canal Street brige, I noticed a group of skinheads.  They looked great, dressed in their Doc Marten boots and lightweight army trenches.  They were all amped up and ready to swarm in on a possible victim.  I am seeing all this and notice how gleeful they become when they spot a ‘vic’……….[there follows a description of the skinheads roughing up a drunk that they encounter]….As I am watching this, I thought that maybe I should shave my head too.  This is England, right? And this is a grim society which I live in.  I am going to have to live by a few rules here, just as I did when I was in the Ramones.”

These grandiose, yet totally illogical pronouncements occur regularly throughout the story.  You are left with the impression that maybe Dee Dee was operating on a slightly different level to most people; I mean, if I saw a group of skinheads beating up a drunk, I’m not sure my first reaction would be to think that perhaps I should shave my head….

I took two evenings to get through this book.  I’ve read a few drug books, and a lot of New York books.  ‘Junky’ by William Burroughs is perhaps the most articulate and stark, whereas some of Nick Kent’s writings about characters like Sid Vicious and Johnny Thunders are similarly bleak.  The same old themes shine through in Dee Dee’s story – the hopeless drug addict’s basic lack of morality and any semblance of concern for others caused by the constant need for dope, the paranoid, ‘me against the world’ philosophy, the total absence of self esteem, the sense of humiliation he feels on a daily basis as things go wrong for him time and time again.  Yet at the same time he also experiences awful self awareness which he shows during his moments of lucidity: he realises the inevitability of his fate at the hands of the dreaded heroin, yet like all addicts is unable to take the decisive action necessary to change his destiny.

You get the feeling that this guy was a none too bright, but basically nice person, but his dysfunctional upbringing and the constant sense of failure that it brought him meant that he never really stood a chance, especially after he was brought together with three other equally disturbed and inept people in the Ramones.  But then, compared to the absolute nihilism and self-absorption that took down lesser contemporaries like Sid Vicious, Thunders, Stiv Bators, Nolan and the likes, Dee Dee displays remarkable integrity.

‘Poison Heart’ is a sad story, and it confirms my sad discovery that, despite their legendary status and major league popularity, the Ramones were a collection of sad, empty, unhappy people – victims in every sense in an industry of wolves, which is all the more sad given that they created music that was so influential and ground breaking.  Dee Dee’s death from an overdose just over a decade ago in Los Angeles was predictable given the story.  In fact, sadly, you wonder how he lasted as long as he did. RIP.

Deranged!

Think about the most punk record you ever heard.  I mean, not the heaviest, or the fastest, or the band with the biggest mohawks, but the most all-out, fuck you punk rock sounds you could imagine.  Got one yet?  Here’s a starter – ‘What we do is secret’ by The Germs.  Another one? ‘The Number One’ by Poison Idea.  But there are loads.  Anyway, you go and make up your own list – I want to tell you about a label which has a few punk rock gems lurking on it – the label in question being Deranged Records from Canada.

The lead singer of Brain Tumours being hit by a chair, photo by Adam deGross.

Let’s not beat about the bush here – let’s get right down to business.  Starting with recent release [8th September 2012] ‘Fuck you Forever’ by Brain Tumours.  This is just fabulous – full on, all out punk rock in which the band members can barely keep up with each other, such is their level of pissed-offness.  This is a six track ep which boasts only one song clocking in at over two minutes – like a furious version of The Ergs.  Just get this – pure punk up your ass!

Ok, keeping up the pace is the eponymous ep by Total Trash – which sounds like it was recorded in somebody’s smoky bedsit with the drummer playing Huntley and Palmer biscuit tins and the guitar sounds as if it is played via a transistor radio,  Barely discernible vocals complete the picture – the two tracks available here, ‘Josef K/Opiates’ and ‘Hollow Eyes/The Last Man’ sound a bit like early Extreme Noise Terror crossed with early Stupids in a bizzarre wrestling match at Murrayside Youth Club.  These guys are playing punk by rules that nobody has got round to inventing yet!!!!  All I can say is, this is utterly, utterly wonderful.

Next, and perhaps most notably because of the fact that there are 28 tracks on the album, is a release by Sweden’s D.S -13, entitled ‘Vad vet vi om Kriget?’  What can I say?  I’m running out of superlatives as I sit here at the Mac with a massive grin on my face – this is just bloody great!  Never has a label been more appropriately named.  All-out, barely controlled thrashy punk in the good old Swedish tradition.  Just play it ok?  Yes, all 28 tracks! Loud!

Finally, and again released early September, ‘Criminal Code’ by Criminal Code, who I believe hail from Tacoma.  Basic, tightly played punk rock with chiming, almost Killing Joke style guitaring singes the listener’s ears, yet at the same time pleases.  Cracking stuff again.  I just implore you to spend some time stocking up on Deranged! releases…..you heard it here first!

How could Punk be any Worse?

I remember many years ago in MRR there was a feature on a band from San Fransisco I think, their name escapes me – if I remember I’ll pop it up here.  They lamented in the interview because each member’s personal life was beset with disasters, and the bassist had ‘recently been mauled by a dog, and his life severely damaged’.  Their lp, I think, was called ‘How could life be any worse?’ which seemed to be a genuine sentiment on their part.  Now we have this release from Madrid’s fantastic ‘No Ways’ – who have asked ‘How could Punk be any Worse’?

By the way, since you ask the injuries sustained in the horrific vacuum packing machine accident are healing nicely now.

Check this out – it reminds me of a whole load of stuff, including Ohlo Seco, Black Flag, a hint of Disorder from waaaay back in the 80s.  It should be re titled ‘How could Punk be any Better?’…..and it’s free ferfuckssake!  Also, click on the player to get their other releases off Bandcamp too.

Naughty Girls Rule!

I’ve been doing my usual thing, following links from one place to another.  And the weird looking beetle that crawled out of the latest stone I moved was another band from Canada, this time from Montreal.  Naughty Girls, who are by all accounts buddies of the band I featured earlier today – Toronto’s excellent School Jerks, have put out a couple of slabs of fuckin’ great, basic, fast punk rock.  Get this!

Rarely have I been so excited by one day’s worth of band discoveries.  If you imagine the following, you might get an idea of how I felt.

You sit down on a garden chair, the sun blazing down on your head.  You crack open a can of cold beer, and slap The Germs on your stereo, just loud enough to annoy the neighbours.  As Darby Crash wails through another basic punk classic, you fumble around and, as the beer hits, you change the track to The Stooges, and play a bit of Metallic K.O., the bit where Iggy, covered in blood, gets attacked on stage by some angry bikers.  Then, as you pop another can, you move on again, this time to The Plasmatics, then The Ramones, then some Poison Idea, then ‘Police Story’ by The Partisans…..by now you’re getting out of control, a kind of one man [or woman] punk rock riot. 

Yep, this is the stuff.  No pretensions, no ‘look at me I’m in a punk band’, just punk played the way it should be.  Dig it!

Guerilla Factions!

When I asked the question ‘why do we never hear about any French punk bands?‘, I didn’t expect to be answered so convincingly. You may recall that I discovered a lot of great stuff released by Parisian label Guerilla – Asso, which you can get hip to by clicking the link. Well Till, who runs the label, has been in touch and has very kindly caused a nice, thick package of punk rock to plop onto my doormat – and so I thought you should know about it here.

Till has sent me a package containing real vinyl records, which in these days of digital everything is exciting news indeed. And what I found when I ripped the envelope open excitedly was two pristine 7″ releases, both with beautiful packaging, inserts, inner sleeves and lovely coloured vinyl. It bode well for my listening. So here goes:

First to emerge, like a writhing pupa from the dying shell, is ‘The Clownwars‘ ep by French band Pink Flamingos. A 5 track release, this is a few months old but showcases this Le Harvre based three-piece, who have knocked out a set of mid paced energetic hardcore. The band, comprising Bertrand on Guitar/Vocals, Gilou hitting Drums/Vocals and Jiel on Bass/Vocals, started up in 2008. Offering a melodic, pop-influenced sound that brings to mind Dopamines/Banner Pilot style tunes, they have popped out a decent ep.

The other 7″ that emerged blinking confusedly from the bubble wrapped envelope is a ‘fuck-you, I don’t care about your opinions’ kind of punk rock record that can only please the listener. ‘Maladroit Goes to Pouzza‘ is the title of this 4 tracker, by the band Maladroit. The motif used repeatedly by Maladroit on their sleeves is a chap wearing a duck mask [although it has in the past been a pig’s face as well], which is kind of like a low budget punk rock version of Deadmau5′ big mouse head, but of course far cooler. The lyric sheet reveals songwriting of a level that goes beyond what is required of a band – including the line ‘True punks play mini golf in the dark’.

Basic, raw and without pretension, this four piece, which seems to include label dude Till in its ranks, lays down fast, early Weasel style punk. It brings a smile to your face and you are forced to nod your head as the geeky lyrics, chugging guitar and irrepressible drumming assault you. It sounds exactly like music made by guys wearing duck masks would sound like. Just great!

So, for some really great punk rock, go check out Guerilla Asso’s site!

Something in the Water in Chicago?

Where catchy punk rock is concerned, there’s no avoiding it – the mere mention of Chicago makes you think of Screeching Weasel.  I still clearly recall a record buying trip to London in 1988 when DeHud bought the first Weasel album from Vinyl Solution, the great hardcore label/shop that is now sadly ancient history as far as today’s scene goes.  Spinning it excitedly on a cheap stereo yielded a tinny, fast blaze of utter punk glory – dumber almost than The Ramones, yet somehow just as catchy.  This led us, later on in the year to interview the two leading lights at the time – Ben and John Jughead.  You know the rest of the story, and I have no desire to plough into it here.  I want to mention instead, No Enemy! – a band who hail from the same city and have just put out a new Four track ep which crackles with a similar energy.

Dying American‘ is the name of the release, and it’s the work of the four piece whose real names, most assuredly, are Riff Damage, Modern Maggio, Rhythm X and Dr. Slow.  This seems to be their fourth release as far as I can ascertain, and so they’ve been fairly prolific in the last few years.  Each release seems to offer the same buzzsaw punk rock which bounces along at a fair clip, with all the right ingredients – drums just about catching up with vocals, which themselves are just catching up with guitar, whilst chanted choruses and harmonies make it all complete.

I hooked up with Andy “Modern” Maggio, to ask him a bit about how they began:

“We started No Enemy! simply because we wanted to write and record a ton or material before the perils of age and regular life/jobs prevented us from being able to. After we recorded our first release “Life Waster” though, our good friends in another Chicago band, Shot Baker, (their bassist also recorded both “Life Waster” and “Unwind”) started pushing us to play more shows and tour a little with them. From there it grew and we were a full functioning band”

(C) Patrick [msigarmy.com]

With a maximum song length of 3 minutes and 9 seconds, these boys are never going to give King Crimson a run for their money – they’re all about short sharp shocks.  The more I listen to this – and some of their older stuff – the more I’m breaking into a smile and travelling back in time to the days when I still had hair, I could still maintain my place in the pit, and I could still recover from a hangover and be ready to drink the same amount the next day.

The band has a really refreshing DIY attitude – reflected in the fact that, as you might notice, all their releases are on a pay what you want basis:

“We just want to write and record good music and get it in the hands of as many people as possible. That’s why our releases are free, and we intend to keep it that way for as long as possible. As of the last two releases (Disagree to Disagree, and Dying American) we have taken over the recording duties ourselves and record mostly in the flower shop that we practice in. By not having to pay a ton of money in studio time, we can give our music away rather than hustle just to make our money back.”

Marvellous stuff, boys, and it’s pay what you want so I’d advise you to crank it up and feel the wind in your hair….and check out their other releases.

Wrong on Every Count! No.2 – Grow Up Already!

It was about 9 o’clock.  Ears still ringing from the array of support bands, DeHud and I had been waiting for this for a while with excitement.  The inevitable tedious milling around on stage had finally ceased, and the band was in position, poised, ready to go.  Shiny nylon hockey shirts reflected the harsh stage lights.  I stood on a velvet bench seat stage right, my phone camera at the ready, swaying slightly, on account of yet another afternoon of Olympian beer consumption.  Then, you know how at a show, just before the main band starts playing, there is a sudden, short silence – rather like in the classroom when the teacher looks up purposefully and everybody just stops…….’1,2,3,4′ went the cry……

The Hanson Brothers launched into another fast, slick, loud set and we smiled expansively.  At least three of the guys on stage were in their mid/late 50s.  That’s a full decade older than us, I remember thinking.  But, with grey hair appearing almost everywhere on my increasingly exposed head, that thought meant something.  You see, there’s a strange thing going on with ageing, and while my personal view is ‘bring it on’  [you can’t really do much about it after all…], I do sometimes feel a nagging residue of conflict in my head regarding the fact that I am a] proudly into punk rock and b] 45 years old with an 11 year old child who often appears to be more mature than me.

So, why do I feel this occasional insecurity? Well I think the answer is two fold.  One, Punk Rock was about sweeping away the old guys; these being of course the self indulgent, flabby and ageing 1970s rock musician elite that blocked the pipes of vitality and creativity for so many years, with the results being all to clear for folk to see – for example, Your Honour, Rick Wakeman’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth.  Nuff said.  But the other strand of thought is that, just like in wildlife programmes and indeed The Simpsons, young lions want to get old lions out of the way.  It’s natural selection I guess.  And I admit these days to seeing groups of young shavers at gigs and, while part of me thinks ‘I could tell you lot a thing or two’, another part of me thinks ‘they wouldn’t know what I was talking about, and they’d want me out of the way anyway….’.

I mean, it’s like when you get on a bus and the driver is an ageing Teddy Boy, with a sparse, greying quiff and fading swallows tattooed on his hands.  You think ‘Sad old git’ as you pass over your change, because it’s one of the most ungraceful things you can be seen to do – to get old but still cling to symbols of your youth like a slowly drowning man clinging to lifeboat wreckage.

But it’s also an interesting discussion from a more general point of view.  Society in the West is increasingly ageing.  People are living longer, people are not dying of TB in their 40s like they may have used to do in less sanitary times.  Older folk are living longer but also being active longer, and it’s no longer – thank goodness – a given that just because you’re a pensioner you are destined to wear Clarks shoes, brown slacks, a beige Marks & Spencer blouson and a tweed trilby whilst shambling about being henpecked by your blue rinsed wife.

In other words, there are two opposing forces massing.  One is the natural – call it arrogance – of the young.  I recall the feeling of being indestructible as a teenager.  Nothing could possibly unseat me.  Everybody else was in the way.  Old folk knew nothing – hell, I was out to discover it all for myself – although of course I knew it all already!  The other is the older folks who have suddenly opened their eyes after adopting the brace position, expecting the impact of age to hit them, but instead they look around and see…possibility.  Plenty of cash, kids left home, knowledge of what is a dumb thing to do and what’s possibly not….hey! This is alright!  But instead of getting out of the way as their predecessors did, these cats are saying ‘No, we’re fine, thanks, youngin’! We’ll do what we want thanks!’.

So let’s get back to the personal.  I said earlier that I feel the occasional flicker of doubt about my position as a middle aged guy who still digs punk rock.  Why so, you goon?

Well, it’s like this, see.  Long ago the realisation hit me that you need a job to get by.  Living in a punk house might be great when you’re 23 and able to get drunk every night, but when you’re approaching 30 it begins to suck.  Wearing studs and spiked hair might look the part for a GBH show, but on a Monday morning it won’t pay the rent.  So you have to play the game.  I wear a suit certain days during the week, I travel the country and sit in occasional meetings.  I know it’s work, and I treat it as such.  But I also know that none of the people I’m dealing with have a clue about my real view and attitude – which is still rebellious, although tempered by experience.  And that keeps me going.

So if you met me on a weekday you’d take me for a straight, middle class working kind of guy.  But when you’re living that lifestyle, and I’m away in hotels a lot because of my job, I’m with other people my own age generally speaking.  And while I get along fine with most of them on a day to day level, I keep my punk rock credentials as a badge of honour.  I rarely if ever discuss the subject of music and culture with them, but I see these people, who are the mainstream pretty much, talking about playing golf, watching football, aspiring to have affairs, moaning about their wives, what kind of car they’re going to get next…..and I smile.  Because I have a Zen-like calm within me that removes me from all this humdrum. These people are generally unhappy, stressed, two or three stone heavier than me, and on their way to the humiliation of middle age and disappointment.

Then periodically, as is our custom, in some random northern city usually, DeHud [the same age] and I will hook up for a punk rock show.  The format is that I book a hotel [you can get points for staying during the week which enable this to be cheap], we meet, slump into  aged leather chairs in a slightly down at heel pub with glasses of foaming German pilsner, and we talk punk.  This goes on for a pleasurably long time until, compelled by the need to see the band, we saunter slightly drunkenly to the venue and stand and soak up the bands.  These days it’s rare that either of us indulges in the pit, not because of any worries, but because there comes a time when you don’t need to be slamming in order to enjoy a show.

I watch the crowd with interest.  Whereas once it was a seething mass of spiked hair, studded leathers and Doc Martens flailing, now I see floppy fringes, v-neck t-shirts, skinny jeans and tattoos.  Quite why the tattoo has become such a  mainstream fashion accessory I don’t know, but suffice to say I have never, and will never, be getting one of those ‘modern day’ tatts on my body [although I understand and respect the old time concept of tattoos].  But it all makes me crack a wry smile.  These youngsters have the same cocksureness we once had; seeing Trash Talk last week [the support band at the OFF! show] made me realise that this younger generation have their own bands and that whilst they sit, technically at least, in the same genre as the music I love, they are a world apart.

I reviewed Deviated Instinct’s new EP [their first in 25 years] last week, and there we have four blokes of my age or thereabouts, having done their time, played raging hardcore in every flea pit going, learnt their chops through the school of hard knocks, split up and come back ten times stronger than before.  Age has nothing to do with it.

But I also hope that those younger folk I mentioned would take the time to read a publication like Rip It Up because at the end of the day we’re all into the same thing – great music.  Hell, we might even teach them a thing or two about their heritage – here’s hoping.

So, I still wear Doc Martens and I also have a leather jacket, although a less in your face one these days.  I have consciously toned down my look, although that’s not just because I fear piss-taking, it’s also because I don’t want to wear ripped jeans and such like any more.  But you can still make a small, personal statement.  And the abiding thing I’ve learnt over all these years is that it’s all about attitude, not appearance.  It’s about what’s going on up here, not out there.  You just have to take a look at people like John and Rob Wright, Larry Livermore, Keith Morris, Mykel Board, the late great Tim Yohannan….and realise that us old guys may have been round the block, but hey! We know a few things and [most of the time], we can still cut it!

Guest Column: Too Old to Stagedive, Too Young to Die

This piece is reprinted from The Sun Burns Cold, and is the first guest contribution from Rip It Up’s Stateside buddy Dave, author of said website.  You should check out his blog because it’s a truly immersing read – not always easy reading but pretty incredible in terms of the author’s ability to tell a story.  As you’ll see from the article, Dave knows his punk rock stuff.

I remember my first pit, it was a L.D.S. w/ Sustained Agony show in an apartment above a pottery shop in Spokane Wa. back in the mid eighties. I posted footage of Sustained Agony playing that night a few months ago, some old VHS action that was on You Tube I found when perusing the Spokanarchy! doc site. Anyhow, it wasn’t like a “big show”. This guy, Harry, just let bands play in his living room. It was a much D.I.Y. punk by definition venue. Everything got cleared out, and the bands showed up, there was flagrant and unbridled teenage drinking…and of course, dancing.

Thats what it was called. Metalheads, and later, frat boy types, used the term “moshing”. You don’t mosh. You dance, or slam, but not “slamdance” unless your idea of punk rock came from the televised warnings about the latest miscreant delinquent trend of violence taking the nation called “slamdancing”. And anyways, that’s what it was called in the 70′s I guess, and nobody readily acknowledged that punk really existed before Black Flag’s Nervous Breakdown ep. Cause, after all, we were 80′s kids and were more into skateboarding and the Short, Fast, Loud rules of hardcore than safety-pin accoutrements and dress up punk.

Dag Nasty

So, you know, you go to a show and see some bands and you dance in the pit and that kid who knocks you over gives you a hand back up and everybody has a bitch-en time. That’s pretty much how it went. Unless there were a lot of heshers or skinheads at the shows cause they were all about throwing elbows and being dicks. But the pit was generally a recipe for fun for all. That and stage diving. The end all be all of homemade punk t-shirts was made by Subvert’s original singer-white t-shirt, magic markered with ” Q: What Do You Want To With Your Life? A: Get Drunk And Stage Dive”. To this day I still remember my first stage dive. It was when I saw Dag Nasty, Subvert and Coffin Break at the Community World Theater in Tacoma. That was like 86 or maybe 7. It’s hard to remember exact years back then-the mid and late eighties are just a big blur of acid damage, liver abuse and all that shit about marijuana affecting your…what the fuck was I going to say? Memory. Yeah, thats it, memory. Yeah anyways, I was at the show and I saw people just getting up on the stage and bailing into the crowd and I was all “ohfuckyah. I’m there”. I did it and my friends were all stoked for me and they did it and I was all stoked for them and it was like when you pop your first really big Ollie on a skateboard or something. It’s like a fucking sense of accomplishment and shit. Shit was fun. I came home, a little worse for the wear after the nights expenditure of energy and consumption of Schmidt we got a drummer in one of the bands to buy since he was of age. My mom asks, “Where were you?” cause it’s like one in the morning. “Oh, nowhere. Just went and saw some bands”.

I recall one show at the Community World, I don’t remember who was playing, it might have been the Dayglo Abortions show when they got denied entry at the border and only the opening bands on the bill played. Oh, wait, one of the Dayglo’s made it and was trying to sell tour t-shirts but nobody would buy them because it would be lame to own a tour shirt from a band you never saw play on tour. Fuck, today people wear band shirts of bands they’ve never even fucking listened to. But the show was during the time when all these skinheads from Gig Harbor would come to the Community World just to start shit. Well there’s this one skinhead girl, I remember her because she didn’t sport the skin chick “fringe” haircut but instead was bic bald and rocking a pink ballerina tutu. Nazis in tutus, I’m surprised no one has used that for the name of their ‘zine, or blog. At any rate she tried to dive and no one caught her and she landed right on that bald fucking head. Ambulance came and everything. She was all fucked up. There were unsubstantiated broken neck rumors. I suddenly found myself feeling really bad for her, Nazi or not. I mean that just kind of sucks, fuck all the ideological interpretations. Kid goes to a show, leaves on a stretcher. Never a good thing.

Dayglo Abortions Live

The whole Skins vs. Punks thing started broiling over when Youth Brigade (then touring as Brigade) played and stopped their set because the skins were being fucktards. Some, er, “peer pressure” via the application a body check or two and various pairs of ten hole DM’s  and the skinheads left en masse. The band came back on and finished their set, with a rousing 15 minute jammed out version of “What We Gonna Do About The Man in Blue?” ending the night.

The next show was Christ on Parade and Neurosis. To this day I think that is the number one “FUCK I WISH I WOULD HAVE FUCKING GONE TO THAT ONE!!!” on my list of shows I missed. At the time I was in custody of the authorities though, living in a “placement” in Seattle’s Seward Park district-after I got in enough trouble with the cops in Auburn that I was pretty much labeled an incorrigible juvenile drug fiend or what ever they refer to major fuck ups as in polite circles. But apparently, from everything I’ve heard the C.O.P./ Neurosis show at the Community World was the big square off between the Nazi skins and the anarchist punks. Showdown in Dodge city or whatever. The Skinheads never really came back after that. My one buddy had a swastika ring that was quite unwillingly, and as the story goes, painfully taxed from its previous owner that night. He never wore it or anything, he just kept it as a trophy. So much for all that hippie pacifism people like to equate anarcho-punk with.

Of course, I went to lots more shows through the years. By the mid ninetys I was living here in NEPA when things started getting stupid though. Guys would come to shows and do like these silly martial arts Kata routines in the pit. But that was when the “tough guy” capital-H Hardcore thing was going on big time. The last band I was in, we had to go up to play in Binghamton to get away from the behoodied/wallet chain/backwards baseball cap crowd. Up there it was a good old time though, surrounded mostly by “ancient ones” like ourselves-the over 25 crowd.

Then everything fucked up and I spent eight years in the stone hotel on a robbery beef. I got out and I was living in Erie. It is of my opinion that Erie is one of the finest places I have ever lived. Given the choice of going back out to the Seattle area or going back out to Erie, I would pick Erie hands down. It’s just rad for so many reasons, the least of which not being it’s punk scene-which is fucking great. Even the capital-H “814″ Hardcore bands from Erie are formidable as fuck. And even more important, I never went to a show there where people were anything less than friendly. And yes, they knew how to dance.

So it all came full circle, as in circle pit. And then I moved back here. I am generally unaware of any shred of evidence pointing to the existence of a zone, temporary or not, wherein punk/hardcore bands might play thus leading to the spontaneous eruption of a pit and/or stage diving activities. Of course, I’m way too old for the latter. But, y’know, just saying. Generally speaking, if a type of music that inspires violent bodily frenetics and the leaping off of indoor structures is played…well, I’d just like to be there to hear it.

Not that it really matters. Blasted and The Wallrides could be touring this summer and making their only stateside appearance in Scranton and unless it was on a Monday I wouldn’t be able to go because I work six nights a week.

But, y’know, I’m just saying and all. There’s a time when a motherfucker just gets the itchin’ to put on his dancing boots.

Accelerators: Netherlands Punk Rock

Back in the day, as it were, the Dutch ‘scene’ was always quite an active one, with classic bands such as B.G.K. making a name for the low country, whilst the increasingly DIY ethos that the Dutch applied to their squat scene and their general social liberalism filtered through to make a hardcore scene that all visiting UK, European and US bands would remark upon.  However by the early 90s, the Dutch music scene appeared to have become subsumed in Techno and its various offshoots, with all the high profile musical commentary being directed towards the dance scene.  So it’s refreshing to see that The Accelerators, from Rotterdam, are on the way to releasing a new LP later in the year.

I got the tip-off about the band via the Twitter feed from Andrea, the leader of Italian band The Manges, and checked them out.  Formed in 2003, The Accelerators have traded in a brand of high energy punk rock that makes bands like The Manges, Weasel, The Queers and others their natural peers.  The band, comprising Ox – Vocals, Bass, Marlon – Guitar, Vocals, Simon – Guitar, Vocals and Erik – Drums, released their eponymous debut album in 2009, giving the world 12 tracks of crackingly tuneful Ramones-y punk with short, direct songs that hit the mark due to their buzzsaw guitar, stacatto drums and joyful tuneage.

And, after a UK and European tour this summer, we will be treated to the sight of their second album, on Shield Recordings.  Entitled ‘Fuel for the Fire’, the album is another 12 tracker – featuring 11 new original tracks as well as a cover from Cheap Trick’s Southern Girls. The top notch cover art is by the Riccardo Bucchioni from La Spezia, Italy, hometown of The Manges.

Check out the video to preview the new album, and also make sure you get hold of the first one, whose Bandcamp widget I have included below for your background research!

Finally, if you do get a chance to catch the band live, here are the latest tour dates:

UK
25-02-2012: London (UK) @ Underworld w/ Anti Nowhere League
26-02-2012: Brighton (UK) @ Prince Albert w/ Authorities
27-02-2012: Bristol (UK) @ The Croft w/ Dead To Me

GERMANY
29-02-2012: Mannheim (DE) The Mohawk

ITALY
01-03-2012: Faenza (IT) Capolinea
03-03-2012: Fidenza (IT) @ Taun
04-03-2012: Bresso (IT) @ Blue Rose