Monday, November 28, 2011
One of the things that sucks about coordinating this magazine is sitting down at the end of the month, after working a seven day week of zillion hour days making sure the magazine is OK to get in to the printer on Friday AM, then having to pull a column outta that brain freeze malaise collapse. Things that have been occurring round these parts include staying up until the morning with oldest and best Bay Area friend and others yelling about music discoveries via the internet as opposed to older more “authentic” ways such as having to hang out with creepy dudes so you can tape their record collections when you were thirteen. The idea of punk being the possibility of DIY, the olden days of kids in Poland and Brazil making their own shit because of rumors and random discoveries as opposed to instant MySpace style connections and message board battles. But not like one is the good thing and the other is the bad... also the idea of punk as being something that you make and do, not something you dress as. Not who you know or what someone says about you behind your back, but what you fucking do! The this that presents itself to you is an adventure, freedom from boredom and a possibility or is it a rulebook, tyranny of expectations, dress codes and D-beat is the only beat. You know the eternal conversation. Off the pigs!
People who think punk should just be an outfit and a specific replication of a sound from 1982, 1976, 1979, 1992 people who think punk should be without content just an image they can adapt to their needs... Listen to “Bullet Proof Nothing” by Simply Saucer with coffee’d out brains and wooden fingers and wonder what it all means. If anything at all. If you exist for reasons other than being a fake GG or Wattie or all of the Seeds at once. Brian Jones hair cut, winkelpickers, bad breath, early death. “Dust to dust, dust to dreams, noise to stone.” If you exist to make sure the authentic Sports Bar Bro mentality is present in all situations you run rampant in, to make sure that girls are aware that they are only welcome if they can pretend to laugh at your jokes and let everything slide because they are cool like that... Weird attempted Raymond Chandler/Raymond Carver constructions, a street light flickers, cigarette ash falls, the myth of the private eye, the Hubert Selby Jnr character that’ll kill us all for being weak or indifferent, of identity and a vision that is not your own. Just an imagined take on grittiness with all those that make up the grittiness wiped out and recreated as ciphers. Tabla Rasa. The word “hipster.” So grim, it’s all so meaningless. Talking about punk constantly. Outlining what it is and isn’t, what the possibilities are and aren’t. Making it less and less appealing until one day you find yourself listening to Esplendor Geometrico and Psychic TV and wondering what that phase was all about... Can a punk get a break? When the ground is taken out from under you and you get defensive remember that that is what it’s like for punks of color and lady punkers on the regular. On the defensive, having to back up everything with fifty nine pieces of evidence because what do you know man, you’re supposed to be “cool” so things don’t get “weird.” Relax babe.
I got a hair cut, in the MRR courtyard, by columnist and general delightful human Ariel Awesome, my last hair cut came courtesy of another columnist Bryony Beynon, when she was visiting from das UK. Homemade hair cuts in desperate times! What is the reason for all this... endless discussion of not very much. The continued existence of mankind. I am leaving the country for a month, so the next issue of this mag you are reading is gonna be all Mariam Bastani creations... Edited, laid out and finalized by her fine hands. In other MRR news, we have a new distribution coordinator, Fred is handing over the reigns to Amelia, who just moved here from NYC and is not quite ready to give up the studs and spikes for Birkenstocks and the Grateful Dead... And we started figuring out the next photo issue, it’s gonna be mostly “classic” era punk photography, and we have some doozies lined up along with some that took killer pix but get no modern day recognition so watch out for that next year. I am gonna leave these bouts of insanity and give you a top ten of sorts!
1-See my review of the Vixens demo in the demo section this month. Band blew my brains out and didn’t bother to put em back. Vixens.bandcamp.com
2-Staring Problem tape: I feel as if I am gonna fall into a lake of my own hyperbole but this is totally great nervous sounding post-punk that’s quiet and unsettling, Allison Stratton vocals and really, the person that is writing these words out is so psyched that there are ladies making sounds as transcendent and rife with possibility / fear / otherworldliness as this. Moderntapes.bandcamp.com
3-Ke Mal Vivimos tape: Beautifully put together compilation of obscure ’80s world punk from Uruguay’s INSURRECCION to Norway’s TERROR, lots of classic Basque punk, in short this is a ahem, world class compilation of punk and hardcore, it’s not for sale, rather you have to make Teo a mix tape or send him a tape of your band’s noise destruction and he will send you this in return. Do it or lose! email@example.com
4-Household are gonna have a 12” on Dull Knife and a tape on Wild Isle, and you should get both. Even though they are done as a band, their music is so good, like Christina Billotte bands, seriously, Autoclave!!! Who can capture the unease of post-punk girls with their own identity and take on the ideal, it makes me psyched to know such band ideas exist! And also Talya from Household is in a new HC band called In School that is gonna be by new band to lose my brainz over I can feel it. Household.bandcamp.com
5-Brainwaves tape! Also in demos section, just so good...
6-The song “I Don’t Wanna Work For BA No More” By Scissor Fits. Why fly for free when complaining creates such works of punk? Kill yr boss.
7-“Bullet Proof Nothing” by Simply Saucer. Outer spaceful.
8-The song “You Take Time” by Bleached from LA. I have to say my fave post-Mika Miko band is Crazy Band, who just put out a killer LP if you like falling apart punk made by snotty FU skater girls from LA. But this song is so good! Jennifer and Jesse Clavin’s new band. “You take time / To go nowhere.” Like a punk girl’s take on “So tired / tired of waiting/Tired of waiting for you...” by the Kinks with added Zeros/Ramones dreamy snot...
9-Alex Ratcharge! Visiting columnist attack!
10-The song “Milo Minute” from the last Grass Widow 7”. Not a huge fan of this band, but some of their songs are just transcendent...
Friday, November 18, 2011
I used to skate with a bunch of girls, there were between four and six of us depending on different factors, we met up after school or at the weekends and went to various skate parks and parking lots around London. I started skating when I was a kid, I got a Vision Gonz board as a birthday present when I was eight, but I didn’t actually learn any tricks until I was in my teens and started skating with other girls. Initially I felt really self-conscious about the fact that you couldn’t instantly be the Bones Brigade, so would just skate around rather than risk embarrassing myself in front of the “dudes.” I got serious about skateboarding during the height of riot grrrl, my friends and I had formed a band when we were thirteen and would go hang out and flip through the 7” racks in the Rough Trade basement, conveniently located under a skate shop called Slam City Skates. We used to scurry through the store heads down, and rush down the stairs, assuming the skaters were all meathead hater bros. I started writing this girl Tulsie, we traded zines, and it turned out she worked at the “scary” skate shop, and she encouraged me to pick up skating again. She actually helped name my band too; I sent her a huge list of band name ideas, and she said Skinned Teen was the best one. This was the era of flip tricks and tiny wheels and huge pants; me and my friends were more into looking like mod girls mixed with the girls from Kleenex... But we were teenagers so we adapted. Learned to ollie, switched to Dickies so we looked like the rest, and so forth.
We skated in a pack, were very defensive and assumed all the other skaters thought we were “pro hoes” or posers so just didn’t talk to them for the most part. I remember one really humiliating incident where I tried to interview Ed Templeton for my zine at a skate contest. He blew me off and treated me like a piece of dirt, as if I was trying hit on him. Rather than being the goofy sixteen year old skater that I was, I was just some chick. These girls had told us that Deanna Templeton, his wife, ripped on vert, (which totally was not true), so I had expected him to sort of be on the side of girl skater dorks. At that point we had pretty much stopped trying to engage with the norm skate boys, we had a few male friends we skated with but there were endless similar incidents which for over-sensitive teenagers were too much. To the point where we camped out in these skaters’ backyard for one out of town contest, when they asked us if we wanted to sleep in the living room on the floor, we declined... My favorite place to skate was a vert ramp in a sort of underground walkway where a railway track used to be, it was on the other side of London and took three million years to get to, but because it was the era of tech flip trick ’90s, no one skated there. Plus it was out of the ears and eyes of squares, just below the street.
I was thinking about all of this because I still sort of have the same attitude, of not wanting to be a blind part of something. Wanting to do something on my own terms, separate from the “scene.” I remember going to a hardcore show where the singer asked the crowd, “do you wanna be part of the scene or part of the scenery...” I wanna be neither! I have been listening to punk since I was thirteen, starting out with Sham 69 and Patti Smith and moving through Huggy Bear and Bikini Kill, the Nation of Ulysses and Heroin onto His Hero is Gone and Capn Jazz (yes, at the same time), then Skull Kontrol and the Wrangler Brutes and then onto discoveries in the MRR library (Power of the Spoken Word! Rutto! Foams! So much more!) when I moved to the Bay Area in 2003. A million different shifts in perspective, mix tape fodder, going from only listening to punk tapes from Woolworths to only listening to Gravity, KRS and Dischord, then discovering old punk and hardcore that was not available on tapes for sale in the Woolworths music department, from Prag Vec to the Avengers. I have been an obsessive music nerd for my entire life, and until I reached my thirties have been stuck in relationships mostly with skaters, where I have had to listen to fucking Rancid and then onto turgid shit like the Hold Steady and have kept my mouth shut... One teenage paramour used a tape I made for him to impress another girl; his record collection was mostly sourced through Big Brother and nineties era Thrasher so was pretty much just shitty corporate punk and Slayer. I made fanzines to connect with punks in different places who felt the same way about skating, feminism and music that I did. Outside f my small group of friends, most of the kids in London when I grew up were totally alien to my idea of a good time. Either they just wanted to go to raves, or if they were hardcore kids they only wanted to play music that sounded like a fifty ninth rate Policy of 3, or some really generic NYHC.
The point to all of this self-indulgent rambling is what we do is secret, and uh, what we want is free. I do not wanna be part of a united front of punks who all listen to the same thing, who all wear the same outfit, not interested in “cool” or scene status, message board sausage parties. Not interested in “free” gifts from corporate entities, write ups in magazines that also run “cool hunting” departments for various corporations.
Punk has always appealed to me because of the beginning of the song “Explode” by Void, because of how the music transports a human out of the reality of walking to a shitty minimum wage job. The music that grabs me is the music that creates its own world, its own universe, the first Die Kreuzen LP, the Huggy Bear and Frumpies 7”s, Bobby Soxx, Germs, Electric Eels, Screamers and onwards to the end of time. Music that was created for other reasons than to sell beer and cars and get you laid at the bar. The fact that people are up in arms because MRR won’t cover their band if they start putting out records with car corporations is embarrassing. DIY punk is not ad fodder for corporations, end of story.