Punk Does Not Owe You a Living/Alive with Pleasure!
I think the best thing I have listened to this month has been the last song on side two of the Beef People 7" that came free with Artcore zine. Mutant teenage shitbag sounds from mid-’80s Virginia outsiders; includes sounds of a paper cutter as well as melting brains, doomed times, and the true sound of youth hardcore damage... As a kid I spent a good portion of my time making tapes at random dudes’ houses. Sitting on living room floors, C30, C60, C90, GO! Putting Septic Death next to Rites of Spring, Mekons next to Necros, just consuming vast histories of music, finding one thing that resonated maybe, then using that as a key to figure out a way into other similar bands and sounds. The Fury 7" leading to Swiz and so forth. DC to the Midwest to Boston; you know the drill. One of the first records I got obsessed with upon becoming a shitworker here was The Left Hell 12" which was recommended me as a contemporary band of the Revolution Summer sound and scene, and the first thing I thought was “if only I had heard that record as a kid.” But back to the mutant sound...
I have and have always had this obsession with finding bands that represent that total miscreant sound as exemplified by the aforementioned Beef People song. Just to get that feeling continually… The first time you heard Die Kreuzen or Void or Neos; there must be a million mystery bands out there that will give a girl that feeling, right? Right? I think I already talked about Malefice and United Mutation. There’s Media Disease, too... I dunno, I have this weird tape loop in my head of my voice harassing collector scum endlessly since my youth: “The song Explode by Void is my favorite thing ever; what else is there? What else???”
One thing I was thinking about in regards to the above incoherent ramblings is that now random music nerd girls don’t have to go to said dudes’ houses to make tapes anymore—the internet opens a world up that definitely didn’t exist when I was a kid. Just the access to music you would never have heard of unless you were involved in some crazy tape trade with a Swiss punk circa ’82... Speaking of which, have you seen the new book, Hot Love: Swiss Punk & Wave 1976-1980? It sounds like a very specific book in terms of subject matter—I mean, Swiss punk? Really?? And this is a huge tome, more than mere coffee-table book—it’s the size of a fucking coffee table.
When you think of Swiss punk, maybe Jack and the Rippers comes to mind, Liliput/Kleenex too, but is that enough to justify buying a $69 object that’s just about the size of a phone book?? It’s way more compelling than more “conventional” punk books about less specific scenes. Aesthetically it works like a more minimalist Fucked Up and Photocopied, with tons of zine and flier reproductions, but also old shirts, homemade bondage footwear, and yes, actual interesting interviews, some with bands and people you’ve never heard of and probably never will get to actually hear! And it doesn’t even matter. The roundtable with Marlene from Lilipit/Kleenex, Sylvia from Mother’s Ruin, Sara from TNT, Marie from The Bastards, and various female fanzine editors was unsurprisingly one of my favorite parts of the book. The subtext of the discussion doesn’t revolve around the trials and tribulations of being a woman in punk. It’s just about being a young punk, about discovery and disgust, degenerate parties and disrupted political rallies, which was kind of refreshing in the face of endless wimmin in rock boredom. So many rad photos; the one of Marlene in a Bazooka Joe t-shirt, leopard pants, and Jean Sebereg haircut... Also I had no idea that Ramona from The Mo-dettes was Swiss; there’s an incredible interview/oral history that covers her move from Geneva art school troublemaker to London punk scenester. That sounds trite; we’re talking nazi stage invasions, redneck attacks in OC bars, and the story of one of the coolest girl punk bands of that era. The Mo-dettes 7"s are fucking great—sarcastic pop-edged punk that isn’t overly arty or sanctimonious.
Hot Love sums up the random adventure that is punk: pictures of scummy practice spaces, dada-vomit fanzine excerpts, endless random anecdotes and ephemera. I think it’s being marketed in an art-world context (I picked up a copy at oogaboogastore.com), which is weird maybe, considering the very particular subject matter, but not really in terms of the general aesthetic of the book. It just covers so evocatively and eloquently what it means to be a punk, in a way that’s less glass-covered exhibit and more “We did it, why don’t you??” It’s difficult to write about an era of a subculture and depict it without being dismissive of what came after or dogmatic about how things should be, and this book makes you feel part of a continuum rather than reading about something that you could never achieve.
I am gonna do some sort of a History Lesson Part 2.5 in regards to some recent and not so recent all-girl punk discoveries. Secret code message to thee ladies: Tape these records. Start bands.
1. The Nixe were an all-girl band from Utrecht in the early ’80s, formed initially in reaction to their boyfriends starting a punk band. They produced a 7” with hand-made covers and were on a live comp LP that I think I’ve played on the radio. In fact, I know I played it on the radio; Golnar told me she went out and found a copy of it and formed a band as a result. Just to fill you in on the type of music that awaits and what it’ll do to you! Their sound reminds me of The Mo-dettes; it’s less polished and more rambunctious however; not quite as crazed as, say, Kleenex; rawer and less artsy. Just to reference the same three bands over and over and over!! For all eternity! It’s how I do. The 7" is incredible—a total explosion of fierce yet bratty intensity. The MRR copy is in a red envelope with a black scrawled cover, no lyrics, no images, no band info... Finally having an entire LP (gatefold!) available with all of the above, so those without eBay millions can have access to the jams, is the best... It’s on Polly Maggoo Records.
2. Chin Chin were from Switzerland. They were around post-Hot Love—a mid ‘80s band I think. They’re definitely on the more sweet pop/punk end of things, but not like C86 indie-pop style at all—they are distinctly punk, they actually kind of reminded me of a less saccharine Go-Go’s... The songs are really catchy, much less ‘difficult’ to listen to than most music by art school girls from the same era. I sound dismissive maybe, I don’t mean to be, it’s a killer 7” but I guess right now I am searching out more mutant fucked up music and this isn’t that. The “hit” is “Don’t Want To Be Prisoners,” which actually has a watchable video if you use the power of the internet. I am not sure what else they have out, but that 7” is worth seeking out
3. Nog Watt were fucking raging Dutch thrash with the best hardcore girl vocals I have heard (sorry Sacrilege fanz.) The Fear 7" may have some of the coolest, genuinely creepy packaging ever—some for-real Manson-girl-style-now. I really, really want this record. I wanna hear No Pigs, too, which was the drummer Ingrid’s other band, just because it’s a killer band name and if it’s half as good as this... Which is to say this record is kind of perfect; someone needs to reissue it so random teenage girls in boring towns can hear it and realize the possibilities that being in an all-girl hardcore band can offer. Like, I honestly feel Riot Grrrl would have been ten times more interesting musically if girls had gotten into Nog Watt rather than Sleater Kinney. Seriously. Maybe Nog Watt and The Raincoats or whatever… I dunno I just don’t get why there aren’t hundreds of rad weirdo girl bands like this, maybe there are. Where are they? I have this theory that Sleater Kinney made girls into indie rock fans instead of making them wanna make their own sound. Nog Watt is the answer and the question.
4. The Nurse—Japanese hardcore. There are two flexis and the first one is the best. The band is rockin’ full on Siouxie style on the cover; the music is tough and relentless. It’s really heavy without being a formulaic hardcore or metal record, just the coolest sound, like the aural equivalent of a sneer. I dunno how to really describe it except to say that all you need is this and the Nog Watt and you’re ready to start your own fuckin’ secret society of girls... Do it! Kreepkrawl style.
Top Ten Jams
1. Outlets – Best Friend 7"
2. Cro-Mags – demo boot 10"
3. Marginal Man – Identity 12"
4. Rain 12"
5. Beef People – “Industrial Jelly” (the song)
6. Tar Babies – Respect Your Nightmares 12"
7. Abgas 7” (now THIS is Swiss punk-endtimes collapse in on itself stylee)
8-10. Shit, I dunno. Mexican aggro-synth. Busy boredom. Pizza.
layla at maximumrocknroll.com