Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Top Ten Albums of 1997 and What I Think of Them Now...

Sophomore year of high school. I'd finally begun to write about music in the student newspaper and was more focused on music than ever before. I still had my list caveat where the last two spots would be records I'd merely "discovered" that year...not necessarily released that year.

(I'm somewhere in there)

1. TastyDemolition Doll Rods
The Doll Rods were hard to not totally dig as a 15-year-old. The white dude from the Gories, tasty garage rock riffage, primal drums and barely-covered tits is a pretty solid combination. With Mick Collins and Jon Spencer splitting the production duties, this record is still important to me. I remember hearing stories of the album release show (at the Magic Bag in Ferndale) where the band wore copies of the LP as their stage costumes. Totally fucking genius. Wish I had been there. I loved the vinyl so much that I actually went out and bought a CD copy too, certainly one of my earliest concessions in the battle of coolness versus ease/frequency of playback.

The cavalcade of hits here is undeniable…"Motor City Dragway", "If You Can't Hang", "Queen Bee, Drag Racin'", "Maverick Girl", "Raw", "This Little Monkey", "Psycho Kitty"…there's nary a dud on here. Now if they'd included the (still-unreleased) studio version of "I Wanna O.D." (the best song the Doll Rods ever had by a mile) the album would surely equal perfection. Still, for me, this album is, well, tits. The cover, with sunglassed Mick devouring the girls on a hot dog…it's so camp and the colors so vibrant, easily one of the most memorable album covers of the decade. And to view it on the full-color gatefold LP that almost bankrupted In the Red Records is all the more tantalizing. I'd challenge anyone to argue the Doll Rods were ever better than on Tasty. Matador is where In the Red bands go to die and it was clearly shown on TLA. After that they seemed to play the same set in Detroit for the next three years.

As I listen to the album ten years later, I detect a whole other layer of complexity to it all. There's a braveness to the tempo on these songs. The temporal Link Wray slob of "Raw" is begging to be sped up, but the Doll Rods soldier on with what could almost be called an anti-tempo. Same could be said about the plodding, chiming "Motor City Dragway." In the same way Flipper killed hardcore music by playing as slow as possible when everyone else in the underground was battling to be the fastest band in the world, the Demolition Doll Rods debut album is a proud middle finger to everything else happening around it.

As a teenager I'd thought that Tasty was a loose concept album about drag racing as no less than three songs deal with the subject. With perspective, it's clear that while drag racing is rote lyrical fodder for garage rock, its meaning takes a subversive bent with the Demolition Doll Rods. With the confrontational cross-dressing outfits worn by Danny Dollrod, (including, but not limited to, pasties, g-strings, wigs, make-up) the duality of the word drag and its conflicting definitions in terms of racing and dressing becomes the perfect summation of the Demolition Doll Rods and Tasty itself. The fact that Dan had wholly intentioned this and that just yesterday admitted he doesn't remember anyone ever making the connection previously is all the more beautiful.

The lyrics to "If You Can't Hang" capture it brilliantly. Dan sings "If you want you can call me a fag" as if without a care in the world. In that one line, where he succinctly pays no mind to one of the harsher put-downs one could level to an American male, he stakes a claim against all the misogynistic, empty and tired mid-nineties garage rock cliches (think naked devil girls, flame decals, songs about beer) and renders them impotent. To not only attack but destroy the basis of an entire genre under the guise of that which they hold sacred...drag racing, is unheard of. It's akin to waltzing into enemy territory in broad daylight with your colors flying high and taking the motherfuckers out with their own weaponry.

This record deserves far more props than it has ever received. It put all that bullshit Estrus Records, Coop artwork, hot-rod driving pathetic garage schlock into a coffin and paved the way for more-cerebral, ultimately more pleasing bands of the era to take foot. And for that, I think we all owe the Demolition Doll Rods a small thank-you.

It's rare to have an album still be fresh and interesting and revealing new facets after ten years of listening, but Tasty does all those things. In my opinion, it's still the best album of 1997.

2. Retreat From the Sunthat dog
I still regret going to see the Melvins at the Shelter when I could've seen that dog opening for blur (talk about the lowercase utilizing band pairing of the century) at Clutch Cargo's. I actually thought the Melvins might be on their way out. Anygay, I bought this at Musicland (or was it Sam Goody by then? Does anyone know?) during their legendary "dog" sale. If you don't remember, anything remotely dog related was automatically $7.99 or $9.99 or some fairly low price. So if there was a song that had dog in the title or was a picture of a dog on the cover or anything dog anything you got this super deal. Big huge posters of dogs all around the store, signs notifying customers of said promotion plastered every three feet…it did seem to be the most subversive a national music chain ever got. Anyway, I bring the disc up to the counter and somehow, the skin wastes there tried to ring up the CD at full-price (which was usually $16.99 there). I politely reminded them of the omnipresent sale going on and I got my discount. Seriously, how many copies of Alice In Chains' self-titled album did they sell during this disastrous promotion? Whatever. The music here is classic. I still love it…"Hawthorne" and "Did You Ever?" both still particularly enjoyable. "Minneapolis" is filled with cultural landmarks (the Jabberjaw, 7th St. Entry) that would become familiar in my coming years. "Long Island" is shimmering and stellar. I remember seeing the video for "Never Say Never" on Mtv. Oh youth…the harbinger of infatuation and dedication.

3. The Colour and the ShapeFoo Fighters
The first time I heard "Monkey Wrench" on the radio is one of the few true "holy shit!" musical moments I've ever had. I literally had no idea what would come next with that song…the weird stops, frolicking guitar weedle, the final verse screamed impossibly without Grohl taking a breath. "Doll" was perfect on teenaged mixtapes and "My Poor Brain" (apparently known on early live tapes as "Chicken Derby") is how I imagined arena rock could be good. Still a good album, but I've kinda soured on the production in my old age.

But the b-sides here kill…

I've written here before how badass the song "The Colour and the Shape" is and how cool it was not to include the title track on the album. Add covers of Vanity 6's "Drive Me Wild", Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street" and Gary Numan's "Down in the Park" were all treats back then and collectively solidifying when compiled for the quickly overlooked/forgotten tenth anniversary reissue of this.

I saw them live at Clutch Cargo's on this tour. It was the first live show I'd witnessed where I was a little let down, thus preparing me for years of seeing local openers play before the Dirtbombs.

4. HonkyMelvins

Merely on the list because it is a Melvins album. I dug "Mombius Hibachi" as the ascender to the throne abdicated by the live absence of "Honey Bucket." Anyone around here know that Dan John Miller of Blanche makes a cameo in the video for said song? Search it out on YouTube. "Lovely Butterflies" is pretty swank too. But this album would most definitely not make my list if I made it with ten years hindsight.

5. Ghettoblaster Vol. 1 – V/A
The inclusion of two "Dirtbombs" tracks (really demo shit Mick was doing for Warner Brothers) makes this aces. "Wheatland" is inspiring in it's two-chord magnificence and retarded drum fills. We keep threatening to record this and as much as I want to, I don't think we'll ever top this version. "Encrypted" is cool too. The Hentchmen doing the Oblivians "90's Girl" and their own "Yesterday's Trash" are both vital. Jim Diamond's Pop Monsoon "Personality" is the best thing he's ever done. They gave away free copies to the first 25 (50?) people in the door for the release show. I wasn't there.

6. Ghost of Tom Joad – Rage Against the Machine
I guess I thought there was a lack of decent full-lengths this year. I resorted to the free 7" the Rage fan club mailed me. The cover version of the Springsteen call-to-arms is re-crystallized as genuine and moving here.

7. Hype Soundtrack – V/A
I was going by the 7" boxset, not the CD issue. And for me, you could really just limit it to the first two slabs…U-Men, Soundgarden, the Wipers, Mudhoney and Nirvana. I mean, are you fucking kidding me? How awesome is that shit? I don't care it's all old, re-released junk. The combination of those bands alone on a single release in 1997 warrants their inclusion on my list. Colored vinyl too? Forget about it.

If I had known about the CD release at the time…shiiiit.

8. Singles # 1-12Melvins
I think I was just pissed that I didn't know how to get in on the Melvins Singles Club. Still missing a few of these singles and decent offers will be entertained. The first one, "Lexicon Devil" b/w "Pigtro" is the best of the bunch. And "Theresa Screams" is beautiful in its own demented way. But really, two Melvins albums on my top ten list? I could've joined a cult at that point. The singularity of my musical vision was only rivaled by my undying loyalty and dedication to the artists contained therein.

9. The Jet-Age Genius of… - Goober and the Peas
Bought this one used at Hot Hits original Roseville location. You'd be surprised how good some of these songs are…"Loose Lips", "Cordially Invited", "Moanin'" and "One Last Kiss" are all legitimate…whether you dig the schlocky humor or not. Never saw 'em live but the vids proved it was a riot. Honestly worth the money you'll have to pay to get on on eGay. But what about the boxes upon boxes of sealed copies in Dan Miller's garage?

10. Ask For ItHole
I dug the Wipers cover ("Over The Edge") ignored the Velvets cover ("Pale Blue Eyes") and totally frothed over the demonic live spout of "Drown Soda" (rhyming "soda" with "Minnesota" blew my mind) while covering the Germs and Beat Happening with the medley assault of "Forming" and "Hot Chocolate Boy" is one of my favorite moments of anything ever. But honestly, had I been aware, the (w)Hole compilation My Body, the Handgrenade would have easily knocked this EP off the list.

(the actual hand-written list courtesy of the Smithsonian National Archives)

If I had to make the list today, it would read something like this…

1. Tasty – Demolition Doll Rods
2. Wolf Songs For Lambs – Jonathan Fire*Eater
3. The Colour and the Shape – Foo Fighters
4. Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space – Spiritualized
5. Retreat From the Sun – that dog
6. Dig Me Out – Sleater-Kinney
7. Broad Appeal – The Hentchmen
8. OK Computer – Radiohead
9. Planet of the Wolves – Guitar Wolf
10. My Body, the Handgrenade - Hole

What would your Top Ten of 1997 look like?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Australia 2002 Print Tour Diary Part Two...

As promised, here's the second part of my tour diary of the Dirtbombs inaugural Australian visit in November 2002. I think I've over-compensated with the scans of ephemera, but at least it breaks up the text nicely. A link to part one can be found on the right-hand side of your screen. All writing originally appeared serialized in four parts in Wayne State University's student newspaper, the South End. I have no idea why they let me write this shit.

Friday in Sydney was spent returning to Egg Records and buying all the stuff I passed on two days prior. Rich, the cordial man behind the counter, gave me a bunch of records on the Citadel label, the premier Australian garage imprint of the 1980's. Hit a few other hip boutiques to buy presents for my mom and sister...because that's the kind of nice guy I am. Ate another doner kebab and could feel my arteries clogging.

Second show at the Metro in Sydney was exciting. I tackled fuzz player Tom during the last song whilst bassist Jim poured beer all over us. After our set I slept on the cigarette and beer soaked floor of the dressing room, only because of the lack of couch. Had two different people comment after the show that I had good hair. What a joke. I thought it was great because they didn't say anything about my drumming, which is nowhere near the "good" level of my hair.

Saturday morning I got a call from Jim telling me I had to check out the spider in his room. I arrive to see something the diameter of a White Castle hamburger. It was a huntsman spider, apparently because it hunts men. You've never seen a group of supposedly "grown" men scream, flinch and act so girly in your life. We ended up trapping it in a pot and throwing it off the 5th floor balcony, but only because he scared us so.

Show that night was the Wollongong RSL (see VFW). Slept on the floor of the main room, only because of the lack of a couch anywhere in the building…anywhere in the country for that matter. Tour manager Tim had the day off to attend a wedding (I'm pretty sure it wasn't his). I want to take this time to mention that Tim looks nothing like a Tim, but his timidity and good manners make him more Brian-like.

Stage tech Gareth took the driving/soundman duties while Andy from You Am I was cool enough to tune guitars like a smart stage tech would. With nothing better to do, I fell to the evil grasp of the pokies (see slot machines). It's hard to put to words the feeling of playing penny slots in Australia, realizing that each credit is less than one cent of good ole' American money, but I wasn't complaining when I walked away (as K. Rogers would say "know(ing) when to fold 'em") with $20. Fuzz Tom managed to make $250 that night off the pokies, but then again, I'm sure he drank just as much that night.

Wollongong is out in the sticks, so the crowd was filled with yobbos and bogans (see white trash). Best part was that they totally dug the show like a bunch of moles. I climbed on top of a 5-meter speaker column during our last song and started dancing. I think it was the twist, but it just as easily could've been Mickey's monkey, the jerk, or the hullabaloo. While perched in my funky dance nest, Tim from You Am I commandeered my drums and held down the beat until I jumped over the kit and scared him away. Signed my first drumstick ever that night...those things sure are cylindrical.

The drive back to Sydney was laugh-filled. I kindly asked Jim to moon a car as we were passing it and Gareth, who's been more silent than Calvin Coolidge on this tour responds with "he won't be able to fit it all in the window." The rest of the band was laughing like the Cosby kids.

Sunday was movie day for Ben. I watched "Jaws", "28 Days", "Say It Isn't So", and some made for TV drama explaining the horrors of teen gambling (I know, I know...but they were only penny slots). That's really all I did all day. What a waste. Monday was spent on the 10-hour drive from Sydney to Melbourne, so damn near nothing happened. Got to our hotel and met up with Bruce Milne, the man who released our latest album, Ultraglide in Black, here in Australia. I was quite impressed. He's done records with all my favorite bands...Sonic Youth, Mudhoney, the Gories...needless to say he was quite cool.

I awoke Tuesday morn to the loudest rain I'd ever heard. It would flood the Tote, the club we were set to play that night. I spent the morning exploring the Melbourne suburb of St. Kilda, with some record shops and vintage clothing stores. I never thought I'd say it, but I'm sick of these places. I didn't buy too much. Jim, a man quite partial to the Asian ladies had a plum of a time at a local Vietnamese restaurant. While staring at the beautiful young lady behind the counter, he wanted "prawn and pork rolls" but instead asked for "porn and pork rolls." Sigmund Freud is laughing somewhere in hell.

The Tote was a nice change of place. It being our first scheduled headlining gig, it was a much smaller venue and felt more like a show we'd do back home. As we walked into the club, some deep cut off of Ultraglide in Black was playing on the jukebox. This whole tour has been awkwardness after awkwardness of walking into a room while our record is playing, or on a more exciting level, hearing it on the radio. Which brings up another point...Australian radio is amazing. In the two weeks we've been here, I've heard the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Velvet Underground, Sleater-Kinney, the Dirtbombs (duh) and countless other artists who never get the joy of airtime in the states. Our country has lots that can be improved upon.

The Tote had carpenters reinforcing the stage because of the flood and huge heaters drying out the carpet. The show would end up being sold out at 350 heads. The first half of our set went off without a hitch. But as soon as Jim Diamond grabbed the guitar for his usual wanking on "Little Miss Chocolate Syrup" the amp took a shit. So Jim sat there holding a guitar that was making no noise and generally just looking like a dumbass. We did an impromptu version of ESG's "Moody" to keep things moving. Gareth to the rescue managed to borrow an amp from the opening band, and we then covered the Who's "Can't Explain" with relative ease, seeing as we'd never covered it before.

We destroyed our equipment during "I Want, Need, Love you" a song by Australian unknown band the Black Diamonds, and I scaled some cross beam in front of the stage and began screaming nonsense into the mike. Encored with Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" which finds me on lead vocals and Iggy Pop impersonations. I was dumb enough to pin Tom down on the ground and unbuckle his belt. As he wiggled away I was able to tug his trousers down just enough to expose his lilywhite ass to all of Melbourne. I was about this close (pinching air) to sticking the microphone up his butt. They ate it up like chocolate cake.

Having a stage tech is weird when you push your drums down, because when you come back out, they're all put together. That being the case, the fans wanted another encore and we gave them what they wanted.

Traveled to an animal sanctuary early Wednesday and scoped some of the native wildlife. Saw kangaroos (who incidentally do NOT wear boxing gloves), wombats, wallabies, duck-billed platypi, Tasmanian devils and hooded honeyeater (which pat claims he's been called). Wednesday night found us at Corduroy records recording a 45 direct to acetate (recordings are usually done to magnetic tape). Jim and Mick wrote the song "Pray for Pills" a few minutes before we recorded it and it came out ok. The flip was another ESG cover, this time their song "My Love For You". Yeah, it was all good.

After recording I got to see where they actually press records, the only place in all of Australia that does vinyl. Too cool. Had to wake at 8:30 am Thursday to record a live set for PBS radio. We were all too dead to know any better. Our performance was half-assed. Jim, Mick and I then rushed over to do a radio interview with RRR across town. Was "chuffed" as the locals say, to see that our album was their designated "album of the week". Too cool. Spent lots of money at Au-Go-Go records but am still sick of record stores.

What follows is a continuation of my differences list.
-Australians use the word "bloody" alot. Unfortunately, "ouchy", "gooey", and "milk-chocolaty" are used with less frequency.
-It is illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving in Australia unless you use one of those hands free headsets. Thing is, once your friends see you wearing it, they won't really want to talk to you anymore.
-XXX pornography is only available in the Australian capital city of Canberra. Lucky for you, lesbian kangaroo fisting videos are available everywhere.
-Australians can get by with one word sentences like "shocking" or "unlucky" while most American one word sentences are "fuck", "shit" or "bootylicious".
-Vegemite is great to relieve sunburns and remove stains from your tiles, but by no means is it to be used for human consumption.
-Do not mistake a Kiwi (New Zealander) for an Aussie. It's the equivalent of saying Detroit is really from Toledo.
-Forget everything you've heard. Dingoes do not eat babies. They eat vegemite.

Sound check on Thursday was a bummer. As I climbed onstage, my jeans got snagged on a loose nail and ripped…when earlier that day I was marveling at the fact that I'd maintained said jeans for so long. Shows me to marvel. So after we check, I scoot back to the hotel and change into a different pair of Levi's…because I had done my laundry earlier that week like a good boy.

On the way back to the club I grabbed Thanksgiving dinner. The ¼ pounder with cheese meal avoided the depression associated with eating alone at McDonald's because I chose to eat and walk to the club at the same time. My milkshake tasted kinda funny and I realized that people should be more vocal about even the slightest difference in taste about anything. Something along the lines of "Hey, if I die from some weird bacteria in a few days, that milkshake I had at McDonald's yesterday tasted funny…tell the feds to start there."

Opening band the Sailors had a "gimmick" in that they pretended they were gay. I use pretend loosely because I'd later find out two of my band mates would end up making out with two Sailors later in the night. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I'm just saving myself for Pelle from the Hives. Our set that night was well received, the crowd with their head-bobbing and toe-tapping letting us know we were doing our job.

Early in the set I noticed a red blotch building on my left leg. Turned out that I'd cut the knuckle of my pinky finger and that every time I hit my hi-hat (which is on my left) my hand would land on my thigh and deposit like the Red Cross. Just great…two pairs of jeans ruined in one day. So after the show, I skip out on You Am I's set and walk back to our hotel. The houses in Melbourne are so pretty, like a hybrid between Key West gingerbread-style and New Orleans French terraces. Quite beautiful.

Once I returned to our hotel, I pulled out my mad laundering skills and soaked my jeans in cold water. With no detergent to speak of, I worked it out with a bar of soap. Presto chango…when pulled out of the dryer the next morning there would be no signs of blood. I know my mom is proud.

Woke up too early on Friday so we could sound check at the Cherry Bar. Owned by the drummer from Australian hard-rock stalwarts the Cosmic Psychos, this show was added to our agenda only a week earlier to replace a show that had been cancelled with You Am I. The unique part about the Cherry is that the owner's mother, Janet, is in charge of hospitality. So the whole time we sat and chatted with the sixtysomething transplanted Scottish woman who addressed me as "love". Would you believe that a boat ride from Scotland to Australia in the 1960's took five weeks?

The whole band ended up falling asleep at the Cherry waiting for the sound check, and once we were done there we headed out to dinner with You Am I and their road crew. Everyone in the band and crew were just as nice as possible and made the whole tour a delight. Went to the club after dinner and found the fellows from Corduroy Records putting together the "Pray for Pills" single that we'd just recorded two days earlier. They had cheap photocopied covers with pictures from the recording session and hand-stamped labels. It was a limited edition of 100 hand-numbered copies. The folding, numbering and bagging of the 45's was fun to do backstage. We probably gave away more than we sold, but that's usually how band merchandise works.

Russell, drummer for You Am I, gave me the records on his Illustrious Artists label, and even though I dislike their rendition of Outkast's "Miss Jackson", the Vines second 45, entitled "Hot Leather" is honestly good. Believe me because I'm the first person in line when it comes to trashing the Vines. In honor of the good folks who brought us down for the tour, all us Dirtbombs wore You Am I t-shirts for our last show with them. As soon as we exited the stage, we were quickly shuttled to our show at the Cherry Bar.
Ah yes…two shows in one night, just like the Beatles, even though they were known to play the much easier five shows a night. The Cherry show was just one big party. The club was sold out and we just messed around on stage, playing songs we'd never played live (Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up") and even letting Davey Lane from You Am I join us for a few songs. It felt like we were playing in a high school basement and that we could do no wrong.

We left the Cherry at 5 a.m. and were quickly driven to our hotel where we packed and showered. We'd left our hotel by 7 a.m. and had no trouble at the airport. Said our goodbye's to Tim and Gareth and even gave them hugs…but only because they're so cuddly. Our flight left at 10:45 a.m. Saturday. Auckland to Los Angeles was me sandwiched in the middle seat and sleeping a total two of 12 hours. Tortuous. But the worst part was that the cabin services director turned off "Stuart Little 2" in the middle of the big chase scene. You'd never seen a group of supposedly "grown" men act so disappointed. Arrived in Detroit at 7:30 p.m. Saturday to temps of 50 degrees less than what we'd left in Melbourne. In the end, I'd lost a Wednesday, but I'd gained a Saturday.

-Australia doesn't have MILFs. They're called yummy mummies.
-Fanny is not slang for your butt, but rather it's slang for the female genitalia
-People magazine in America contains all the relevant news about your favorite celebrities. People magazine in Australia also pertains to celebrities, but only if they're not wearing any clothes.
-Australia was started off as a penal colony for England. That being said, keep your belongings close to you at all times and speak slowly when telling a joke.
-A bottle of beer is called a stubby. The big seller at You Am I's merch table was stubby holders.
-Many Australians look down upon the episode of "The Simpsons" that takes place in Australia. This further cements the notion that they have no sense of humor.
-Netball is a sport played by women in Australia that's similar to basketball. The main differences are that the baskets have no backboards and that players are restricted to certain sides of the court according to their position. This is actually how basketball started for women in the United States, but we soon climbed out of the stone age and gave women the right to go anywhere on the court.
-They don't have bell peppers in Australia. They're called capsicums.
-Australian slang for Americans is "seppo cunts". Seppo comes from "septic". Cunt is just their idea of poetic license.
-Australian slang for English people is either "pom" or "pome". It's heavily debated whether is comes from uniforms worn by English prisoners originally sent to Australia (emblazoned with the words "Prisoner of Mother England") or whether it's short for pomegranate. I propose that they just call them "Queen-loving drunkards with corn teeth". You have to admit it has a ring to it.
-Australia has speed cameras on its freeways. They take a picture or something to that affect at one location and take another 50 miles (or so) later. They have a formula figured out that it should take you x minutes to travel that 50 miles, so if you arrive in less than x minutes, you receive a ticket in the mail.
-Sambo is Aussie slang for a sandwich. That being said, I propose pasta be nicknamed wop and that rice be called chink so that they piss off everyone equally.

captions (in order of which they fart down the screen)
1) the first time the Dirtbombs were ever graced with tour-encompassing backstage passes. I don't think we sincerely needed them once the entire tour. You Am I's laminates read "Sinner" while everyone else on the crew, opening band, etc. read "Saint."
2) a real live ticket for the Tote show. Thought to be extinct.
3) one of my better-timed photo captures. Mick hurtling down the stairs of Melbourne's Au-Go-Go records. I bought lots of shit there...bootleg Sonic Youth 7"s, an issue of Careless Talk Costs Lives...all the choice stuff was upstairs and I felt privileged to be allowed there, as it wasn't open to the public. (the same actually happened at Red Eye Records in Sydney, I now recall) But I got nothing as remotely as cool as an unnamed friend who, a few years prior, would grab copies #'d 1-7 of the Gories 7" on Giant Claw almost 10 years after its release Lucky.
4) scan from a physical copy of the December 9 2002 issue of the South End because the scan of the photo is long lost to the binary recesses of this archaic desktop. It's actually a photo of a poster for the shows at Prince of Wales
5) live photo from 2nd nite at Prince of Wales. I have no idea who took this pic, I just happened to find it in the aforementioned recesses.
6) posed photo from 2nd nite at POW with Dbombs all dorked-out in matching t-shirts. Rejected for inclusion to the booklet of our 2xCD singles compilation by the record label for "taking the 'if you don't already have a look' idea to its heterosexual limit."
7) live photo from the Cherry Bar show the same night. Photo taken by the same person who probably emailed these to me 5 years ago and I'm apologizing here for forgetting who they are and will give proper credit if you just let me know who you are.
8)a juicy treat for all y'all wondering how these crazy budgets work. I really dug the interview with Sean Astin in Rolling Stone where he openly talked about his finances. Whey everyone else gotta pussyfoot? The only dough we got for this tour was our per diems and maybe some minimal profits off the t-shirt sales (at this point, I don't remember exactly). Notice my mom's hand-written note that "Baker will see you in Melbourne" along with my personal reminder to guestlist Bob Bacic and some name Potter scribbled down at an airport.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Doing All I Can to Help the Emotionally Disturbed...

Below is the complete unedited, uncorrected text of a Myspace message sent to the Cass Records account from the page for the band Freer. Enjoy.

hello Mr. White Stipes Historian

I'm not a scencester fuck like you, most of your friends and the majority of unoriginal bands you support. Bands who obviously could care less about good lyrics or any kind of real emotion.(I do like a few of the bands you like though. The Sights, Terrible Twos, Siddhartha, ).

Alot of people have told me that responding to your little jabs aren't worth my time. But little spoiled brat scenster fucks like you are the kind of people who ruin music. And I would die for music.

I don't want you to start liking our music. I've never been a part of your little scene and I never want to be. But I'm not going to keep quiet when a fellow local musician(and I'm stretching to call you a musician)starts trashing my band in his blog and making clever little jabs in the MetroTimes. Especially some little shit who doesn't know the meaning of sacrificing for his art.

I can't wait to make-out with you again.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Dirtbombs Print Tour Diary in Australia 2002...

These originally ran as three separate pieces in Wayne State's student paper The South End. I've tidied them up a bit, but am still somewhat embarrassed reading it all. This is the first of two installments with the next to run tomorrow or soon thereafter. I already used a bunch of my better Aussie photos in my "Interview with Jim Diamond Post" so look there for more visuals. I got my wisdom teeth yanked today, so I don't have the stomach to put any more effort into this now. Remember this is the week-long celebration of Tremble Under Boom Lights' one-year anniversary and I've been doing a post a day for the entire week. I'm really proud of the previous postings too (you can find them on the right-hand side here, especially dig on The Most Important Singles in Detroit History) so please check them out and feel free to make fun of me in the comments. Otherwise, enjoy.

So we left of Tuesday November 12th. 5 hours to LA, 12 hours to Auckland, and 3 hours to Brisbane. Somewhere in the midst of "Men in Black 2" and staring over the pure darkness of the Pacific, it was Thursday the 14th. What the hell happened to my Wednesday? I want it back! '

We arrive in Brisbane without the necessary work permits and a suitcase full of t-shirts, CD's, buttons, gee-gaws and yo-yos for the kids, all of which should be taxed heavily if the Australian Uncle Sam had his way. Mick, lead singer, alpha male, feeds the feds some bullshit story of us being on a "promotional" tour and that we were giving all of this stuff away. To quote the late great Ferris Bueller "they bought it". Suckers.

We met up with our tour manager/soundman/superhero Tim, and were off. We all fit snugly in the Toyota Tarago, which is Australian for "snugly". We ended up filling out paperwork so that we could get our work visas, driving to a drug store to take pictures for our work visas, and then eating at a nice outdoor restaurant that evening. The bathrooms in this country are kinda creepy. Most of them have boxes for people to dispose of their used needles. Heroin is fairly easy to get here, but I'm more of a Kit-Kat man myself, so no track marks here. Spent the rest of the night avoiding Kate and Leopold on the TV and reading the latest issue of McSweeney's.

Woke up ungodly early, 5:30 am or so. Started watching The Royal Tenenbaums at 6. What a brilliant movie. Got Elliot Smith's "Needle in the Hay" stuck in my head for the next few days because of it. The toilets here are interesting as well. They have two buttons on them, one a half-darkened circle, and one fully darkened circle, for a half-flush or a full flush, an idea that our country could benefit greatly from. Took a ferry to the downtown area and drifted around there.

Went to a record store and the guy behind the counter recognized us...too strange. I was overjoyed to buy a suave pair of zipper boots that are impossible to find in the states. Ordered a hamburger at a mall food court-type place and it came with a fried egg, a beet and a cucumber on it. I was thoroughly disgusted. We did a quick radio interview before heading to the club in Brisbane, the Arena, which holds about 1900. It was sold out.

The band we're opening for, You Am I, are huge in Australia, so we're lucky to be playing for such crowds. We're spoiled down here. When we tour in the states, we don't have a tour manager, we don't have our own soundman, and we don't have all of our equipment set up when we arrive at the club. We can usually be found lugging impossibly heavy equipment or tending to infrequently selling merchandise. We don't have to do any of that this tour. It almost feels wrong. I sleep after the sound check and wake up a few minutes before we go on. The crowd seemed to like it and we had fun on stage, so I went back to sleeping backstage. Yeah, I know, I need to curb back on the rock star excess.

Next day's show was in Nambour at an RSL hall, the Australian equivalent to a VFW hall. The drive is 2 hours and it rains for a bit. The show wasn't too packed, but we enjoyed ourselves and left soon after our performance.

Sunday would be all driving...12 hours straight. Sucks for Tim, but I had a fun time sitting in the back and even managed to catch a glimpse of a kangaroo that no one else was fortunate to see. So far, those marsupials are pretty scarce round these parts. Pulled into Sydney around 12 last night, got to our hotel...more posh than I can handle, and watched The Don King Story. Fascinating. What an articulate man he is...only in America!

Spent this morning staring at Sydney opera house and walking up and down Bondi beach. Tops there are optional and Jim, the bass player was ecstatic, whispering to me "I just saw her booby," and following that up a few seconds later with "I think there's going to be an international incident in my pants." Quite the gentleman Jim is. We have no show tonight, Monday, but spend the next few days here in Sydney.

(this happened a few days later...check the previous post for good Australia pix as I'm too lazy to dig up any more right now)

So two more days with not much more to report. We played the Sydney suburb of Eastwood on Tuesday to a crowd response similar to that of watching water evaporate. Even jumping over my drums and running into the crowd with snare drum in hand to try and stir up some action resulted in total ambivalence from those who paid to get in. But I did find an amazing doner kebab place down the street from our hotel, which made up for all the heartbreak.

A good doner kebab is better than sex. Not that I've ever had sex, I'm just assuming here, but the sliced meat (I think it's beef, maybe lamb?) with garlic sauce and cheese and onions slathered all over the place is terribly non-existent in our country so I must indulge here while I can. Wednesday found me at Egg records spending $150 Australian on a Guns 'n' Roses bootleg double LP, a Victims compilation (in my mind the best punk band ever) and an official White Stripes clock housed in it's original pizza box packaging. I'm a sucker.

Our show that night was in Carringbah and the crowd was slightly less comatose. They seemed somewhat amused when I jumped off of my drums onto the lighting rig overhead and swung around like a curious George who's more mischievous than curious. Tim Rogers, the lead singer of You Am I told me when I got off stage "I was worried about you, young man."

Thursday I got caught in the mind-numbing grasp of cricket. What a way to waste 3 hours. But on the positive side, I think I finally understand the game. Just try and stump me on what a googily is. We got to spend time in downtown Sydney and do more record shopping. I only spent $65 Australian at Red Eye Records, but I got two Scientists 45's, a Sonic Youth Australia-only EP, two back issues of the Detroit magazine Motorbooty and the latest 45 from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

On the walk downtown I passed the Sydney city hall. Now I'm "supposed" to find an Australian government meeting to attend so I can keep up in my public affairs reporting class, but then again I'm "supposed" to eat vegetables, "supposed" to drive the speed limit and "supposed" to bathe regularly. Our show in Sydney was probably the best yet, the crowd slowly got into dancing and shaking and all the stuff that was considered lascivious in Elvis' time. After our set, I ate alone at McDonalds. Nothing is more depressing than eating alone at McDonalds. Avoid it at all costs.

The rest of this is a list of the differences between Australia and the United States that I've slowly been working on
-some Burger Kings here are called Hungry Jacks, some are called Burger King. It depends on which province you're in.
-Ford Falcons are still produced here
-if you think you see a child or a dog driving a car, relax, the steering wheel is on the right side of cars
-the drains drain clockwise...what haven't the Simpson's taught us?
-slot machines are called pokies. So if someone asks if you wanna go for a pokie, rest assured it's not a sexual advance.
-Fosters, you know, Australian for beer, is non-existent on this continent. Having been here a little over a week and having spent most of my time in bars, I haven't seen a single person drink one.
-American chocolate sucks. Evil corporations like M&M/Mars might as well just admit that they're selling the American public wax in candy bar form. Go anywhere outside the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and buy yourself a Kit-Kat. It is the most perfect specimen of chocoholic withdrawal suppressant known to man. But the recipe for America might as well include fecal matter.
-they use the metric system here. But living in Detroit, I've become familiar with the metric terms myself like gram and kilo.
-the electric outlets here are different. That means I'm too dumb to spend $7 on an adapter for my electric razor and instead learn firsthand the fun of shaving cream, razor burn, and bleeding necks.
-the design in Australia is amazing. Everything from bathroom door handles to the skyscraper architecture is so much more colorful, more whimsical, more visually pleasing. Imagine an entire continent furnished by Ikea. It makes America seem like a gulag.
-the money here is much more interesting. Never mind that an American dollar is about $1.50 here, meaning you can buy more and more records, but all the bills are different color. They even have clever little nicknames. The $10 is the blue swimmer, the $20 is the red lobster, and the $50 is a pineapple. And you thought "benjamins" was cool? On top of that, all of their bills have a little 1/4 inch spot that's totally transparent, to help foil counterfeiters. There's something for everyone to enjoy.
-the serving sizes of food over here is much more practical than in America (I believe coca-cola just introduced a 3-gallon container at home). At the Australian McDonalds, there's no such thing as a supersize. It's pick a size, small, medium or large. And the large isn't something that requires a bathroom break in the middle of its consumption either. It's reasonable. On top of that, a large value meal here in Australia will run you about $5.99, which comes out to about $3 American after you do the conversion. The burgers and fries are approximately the same size, so how come the mark-up on 20 more ounces of soda is $2 in America?
-we get per diems of $30. Per diem is Latin for "not enough to go record shopping."
-Australians really like to over-use the letter "z". To look at something is a "squizzy", their nickname for the country is "OZ" (pronounced "ozzy" with devil horns in the air a must) and sleeping is referred to as "catching z's". That's totally weird.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Interview with Jim Diamond 12/31/03...

Make your own impression of the guy. I think he's a dick, but whatever. To date, this is the only interview I've ever done that's been filed as evidence in a court of law. Take that Pitchfork!
Conducted backstage at the Magic Stick before a Dirtbombs show for use in Everett True's book The White Stripes and the Sound of Mutant Blues.

B: What made you first play guitar and what were you listening to back then?

J: Back when? (laughs) I started listening to rock and roll music in 1969. The Beatles made me want to play guitar…and the Shocking Blue and Creedence Clearwater Revival and Steppenwolf ‘cause they scared me.

B: What was your first guitar?

(Diamond, shirtless, backstage in Scotland, 11/25/01)

J: My first guitar? Well, my parents bought me a classical guitar when I was eight and I took classical guitar lessons

B: What about electric?
J: Oh, my first electric guitar, I saved up lawn-mowing money and when I was fourteen I bought a Vox 12-string ‘cause I really liked the Byrds and Jefferson Airplane.

B: What was your first band like and what kind of covers did you do?
J: Oh, my first electric bass, I bought a bass in 1978 when I was thirteen and my friends, these guys in middle school/junior high had a band called Inferno and we did Ted Nugent covers, Kiss covers and Aerosmith covers. That was my first band, Inferno, and we played a show at our junior high and we made a cassette of it and the singer lost it.

B: Tell a story from your childhood to explain why you are the way you are like where did you grow up…maybe the story about you at the Brownie meeting, I think, personifies a lot about you…

J: Yeah, well in 1968 I was at a Brownie meeting…Brownie’s are little girls like Girl Scouts or Bluebirds. So it was ’68, I was three I was pretty excitable and there were these girls all talking in this church basement, my sister, my mom, they’re all just going “blahblahblahblahblah” you know, making all kinds of horrible racket and I was playing with a wooden train set and I’m sitting in this little room and I couldn’t stand the way they all sounded like yapping crows so I walked out in the middle of the room and I screamed “SHUT UP!” And everyone was silent and my mom took me upstairs and spanked me. That’s a good story.

B: How did you get into producing and who are your producing influences and how would you describe your recording technique?

J: Well I got into working at a studio because I always wanted to work in a studio, or I always liked music and liked messing around with microphones and recording things as a kid. But, I always had these horrible bands to work with when I got out of college, a lot of Christian metal. But I never really produced anything, I just would kinda go “does that sound okay?” because I hated all the music so I didn’t even care. I wanted to go home. I wanted to get my $6.50 and hour and go home. So it just eventually sprang from that…being frustrated working with bands I hated.

B: So what would you say for producing influences and recording technique?

J: I guess for recording technique I’ve been pretty lucky actually because everyone I worked with never had much money because they would get those Sympathy (for the Record Industry) Record deals, they’d get like two-three thousand dollars and go “oh my god, we gotta make a record!” And I’d go “ok, I’ll charge you $35 an hour” I think I started at $25 when I started the studio and I inched it up to $30 and then $35 and you could make a record for $2000 or like $1300 as in the Clone Defects’ case. So that got me to do it really quickly but do it well at the same time. So that was really great practice. People go “How many records have you made? A million?” I go “I don’t know…fifty.” Because everyone would only spend a couple of weeks on each one. But as far as other producers, I never really listen…

B: Did you ever notice, like George Martin and say “Wow, he’s a good producer” or you just noticed a record you thought sounded good?

J: Yeah, I never really thought about George Martin like “Oh my god! This kick drum sounds amazing!”

(the so-called "classic" Dirtbombs line-up, Sydney Opera House in the background, 11/2002)

B: Tell us a lie about the first time you met Mick Collins, or the truth…whichever is more interesting.

J: I was working with Bob Mulrooney, Bootsey of Bootsey X and the Lovemasters and we were at the Tempermill, this studio I worked at in Detroit, in a suburb of Detroit, where I had to do a lot of music I didn’t like. Bob Mulrooney was one of the people I actually liked so Bob and I were working on something and this guy Mick came in and I didn’t know who he was. He was just some guy. And he came to pick up a record that Bob Mulrooney had because Bob Mulrooney worked in a record store. So I introduced myself and we started talking, I had just moved to Detroit and I said “hey, I’ve got this little 8-track at this space where I’m living” Mick said “Hey, maybe I’ll give you a call, I’ve got to do some recording” Well he just got a bunch of money from Warner Brothers and he spent it all so he needed some place really cheap to do it at to finish his Warner Brothers demos which he didn’t pay me for like a year for.

B: Did anything ever come of those Warner Brothers’ demos?
J: No. He charged the bill to Larry Hardy (In the Red Records owner) I found out later. So that’s how I met Mick. And I had a dog’s playing roulette poster…painting on the wall and that really attracted him to the studio (imitating Mick’s voice) “Well I really thought that was something special when I saw that painting.”
B: What is your motivation?
J: For what?

B: Is your motivation paying bills?

J: Well, my motivation is a combination of things of course I want to make some money and I like having a decent car that is not falling apart and I would like to get a ’69 Alfa Romeo at some point. But my motivation is to make records that I like and to work with bands that I like, personally, because I spent some long times working with bands that I hated…and if you know who you are, fuck you anyway, ‘cause I still hate you.

B: What do you think about on stage?
J: Oh, all kinds of things. Sometimes nothing, sometimes I listen to what the drums are doing so I play in time, listen to what Mick’s doing to hear how out of tune he is…I’m looking at girls. Usually I’m thinking about the music (first) and girls second.

B: Describe Dave Buick

J: Dave’s a great guy, we’re not real close friends but I know him, I can say “Hey Dave, what’s happening?” and he’ll say “Aw Jim, I’m drunk.” No, he’s not drunk all the time, he’s a great music fan and he’s knowledgeable about music and he’s got quite a fashion sense. Yeah, he’s a good guy, he’s never done me wrong. Ever.

B: Describe Mr. Collins

J: Mick Collins is talented with…you know, there’s some parameters there, I’m not gonna say “Oh my god! Mick Collins is a genius!” Mick Collins is not a genius. Mick Collins is a musically-talented guy and I’ll tease him about this as long as I know him that he’s the inventor of punk-blues. And he’ll hate that and he’ll claim that he’s not garage.

B: If Mick isn’t a genius, who would you claim is a genius?
J: No one I know.

B: Give us a genius on any level

J: I don’t know if there are any geniuses

B: Would you say Paul McCartney is a genius?
J: No, I think he’s a good musician, he writes catchy songs…I guess Einstein is a genius, you know?

B: Describe Mr. Blackwell

J: Who, Ben? Ben is a very enthusiastic kid. You know, becoming a man, he’s very enthusiastic and that’s probably the greatest thing about him being in the band (Dirtbombs) because he’s more enthusiastic than Mick or I ‘cause we’re all jaded old guys. Ben collects music and he’s very knowledgeable about music…should practice drums a little more.

B: Tell us something about Ben that most people don’t know

J: He likes to drop his pants all the time.

B: Describe Jack White

J: You know, I just know Jack from working in the studio mainly. He’s got some talent too, and he knows how to channel it, I think that’s why a big part of it is being successful…he and Meg have a good sense of style and fashion and I think once you put that all together with musical talent and good songwriting, then that’s a pretty winning combination.

B: So describe Meg apart from what you already said.

J: Meg’s really sweet, I probably hang out with her more than I do with Jack, just seeing her in a bar or something and she’s super down to earth and her drumming’s sky-rocketed from what it was when I first met her, which is great.

B: Describe Jason Stollsteimer

J: Jason, you know, he and I have had fine times together in the studio, you know, sometimes he can talk some shit, but he’s never been malicious towards me and he’s always done right by me, so I never have anything bad to say about him. He’s using the garage rock thing right now to his advantage, which is great, so we’ll see how their record goes…I’m sure everyone is curious.

B: What would you say is the best part of Detroit, and conversely, what do you think is the worst part of Detroit?
J: The best part is the livin’ is easy, ‘Cause I can live downtown and I won’t even tell everyone what I pay for rent. It’s easy to live in, it’s a small town, there’s a definite clique and if you’re in that clique then that’s great. You know I’m not in the clique, bands like Illegal and Forge are in, thank god. No, it’s great because it’s really tight-knit and most people are friends…not as much as they used to be before money got involved. Money and big egos. The worst part about Detroit is that it’s so miserable and it’s so ugly, aesthetically. But the good thing, on that same hand, is when you go to any other city in the world, that city is beautiful…

B: Well do you think it being ugly maybe is something that keeps people away that people who may be superficial, people who go to LA or New York wouldn’t come to Detroit because it doesn’t seem like a pretty place?

J: Possibly. Detroit’s horrible. Every time I go out of town I come back and say“This place fucking sucks. I hate this.” You know, there’s some one-legged guy outside my door saying “gimme some change” and I go “all I have are euro’s and pounds” and he said “I don’t care” so I gave it to him anyway. But yeah, it’s just really ugly here. And depressing.

(Diamond, Detroit Metro Airport, 11/2003...Dirtbombs myth has long-said Jim's luggage for this trip was just a garbage bag with his clothes in it, but I will honestly say he was doing the dirty work of smuggling Dirtbombs t-shirts into the UK, a job no one likes)

B: Are you punk rock? If so, could you please explain why?
J: No, I’m not punk rock…what’s punk rock? Is John Lydon punk rock?
B: What about spray painting “Helter Skelter” on your front door?

J: I don’t think that’s punk rock, I thought that was funny.

B: What about drawing the Black Flag logo and writing “My War”?
J: No, I’m gonna write “My War: Johnny Bob Goldstein”, “Chavo” or “Robo”. No, I’m just gonna write “Robo” on my front door.

B: What are the mechanics behind your songwriting? How do you create a song and particular vision, not necessarily Dirtbombs songs, but anything you write.

J: Anything I’ve written, I usually come up with the melody and the music right away. So I can do that in a second. But putting words…I’m not a real wordsmith, as they say. But I can come up with a melody very fast.

B: Who are your favorite singers and guitarists?
J: Probably one of my favorite guitar players, I’ve got a few favorite guitar players, Jorma Kaukonen is one of my favorite guitar players. He’s from Jefferson Airplane, but he’s a great acoustic finger-picker too. And I liked Eric Clapton up until pre-“Layla”, up until ’69…up until Cream broke up Eric Clapton was amazing. After Cream I’m not really into him. You know Jimi Hendrix, he’s alright but sometimes he gets a little over-rated. Actually I like the lead guitar player from Big Brother and the Holding Company a lot, it’s either Sam Andrew or James Girly…I can’t remember.

B: Do you want your parents to be proud of you?

J: Yeah, actually they are. I’m very happy that they’re proud of me because I spent a lot of years where I don’t think they were very proud of me.

B: When do you think it finally clicked over?
J: Well, I’ve been pretty lucky because my parents have always been supportive of what I did, because my dad had his own business for years. So I think, even though they didn’t really understand what I do…I was in Austin, Texas working in a studio and I said “you gotta come in, this is what I do” and it was a 48 input Neve board, all computerized and the faders would move and my dad’s like “woah jimbo! This is like a rocketship in here!” And I said “That’s right” and he said “You know how to operate this?” and I said “Yeah” and he couldn’t believe and said “ Huh.” And then I finally started making money and they see my name in the paper and they say “You know, you should really try to get more local press out of all your travels” and I say “Mom, who cares? They know who I am in Holland now”

B: Is there anybody you openly hate?
J: God…probably the closest I come to hating anyone is Chris Fuller, manager of the Electric Six. He’s just a moron.

B: There’s specific events that have happened between you…would you like to bring that up?
J: He’s just lied a bunch of shit about telling his band “We paid Jim for playing that saxaphone” when he really didn’t.

B: This is for “Danger! High Voltage!”?
J: Yeah, “Danger! High Voltage!”
B: So what did he say and what did you say?
J: I said, “Look man, let’s get something in writing, this song is getting big, we gotta take care of this, legally”, because I basically produced the song with them and played on it and he said “We’ll do this when we feel the time is appropriate” I said “The time is now” and basically had to threaten to sue them, just to get something in writing and they still wouldn’t respond so I’m like fuck you. I didn’t have to sue anyone, thank god, ‘cause I didn’t even want to do that, but yeah, the guy’s a moron and I’ll say that’s for the record.

B: Talk about recording the White Stripes first record, their self-titled record and just tell me what you can, off the top of your head about that.

J: It took awhile because they were just a beginning band and they had one of those Sympathy for the Record Industry deals where I think they got $2500 or $3000. So it took a while because Meg had barely been playing the drums. So we had to do a lot of takes because she’d fuck up…she’d just started playing.

B: Did you save every take or would you re-use tape…

J: We couldn’t afford to keep going through reels of two-inch tape, that would’ve used up their whole budget.

B: So this was January/February of 1999?

J: Was it? Or was it ’98?
B: The record came out in’99, so…

J: I don’t remember…

B: So the geek stuff, what kind of mixing board did you use and what kind of tape machine…

J: Well I hate talking about this shit because all you fuckers are gonna go try and buy one of these mixing boards but they’re mine, if you see one, sell it to me, at a decent price. They have this mixing board called an Electrodyne, it was made in Los Angeles in the late sixties and early seventies and they’re totally awesome.

B: How did that become yours? Did you search out a bunch of different mixing boards or what?
J: I got it on accident. I bought a 16-track tape recorder from this music school in northern Michigan called Interlochen and they said “Hey, you want this old mixing board?” I said “Yeah” and I got there and it was huge and ridiculous and it weighed 500 pounds…it was made of wood and ¼ inch aircraft aluminum and stuff and big VU meters and knobs and I’m like “Wow, this thing is incredible!” and I plugged it in and it worked…it’d been sitting in a barn since 1980. And I got in in ’98. So yeah, then I realized this thing is really amazing. Hmm…so I kinda lucked out.

B: So at that time, was Jack just using his red hollowbody…

J: Yeah, his red hollowbody…

B: or did he use any of the guitars you had lying around the studio?

J: He had a Silvertone, I think we used…Mick had a 100-watt Silvertone that he bought with Dirtbombs’ money way back that he embezzled from us…you can print that too. So Mick embezzled money from the band, Jack used his 100-watt head through a cabinet, through like, a 15-inch Electrovoice speaker in that cabinet and I miked it with two Shure SM-57’s.

B: And Jack, for singing, wouldn’t he just sing through a guitar amp?
J: Yeah, cause I’d go “Hey Jack, try this mike” and he’d be like “It sounds like we’re in a studio.” He was very self-conscious of being in a studio and having it sound polished like you’re in a studio. But I said “You ARE in a studio, if you want to make a field recording, dig up Alan Lomax and have him go hook up his Ampex”
B: What do you think when Jack has said in interviews before that the first album is favorite one, that he doesn’t think they’ll ever top it?
J: I don’t know, I mean, the first record…everyone’s first record is usually really good because they’ve had a while to get ready for it. And then the other one’s they’re pressured to repeat or do better. So the first one rocks the hardest out of all of them, I think. It’s tough sounding.

B: Were they drinking?
J: I think Meg drank tea, because she was cold.

B: Do you remember anything that they did for that album that didn’t make it on the album? Do you remember them doing “My Little Red Book” and “Let’s Build a Home”…

J: Yeah, they did do that stuff…I forgot about that.

B: But that never got released…
J: No, I forgot about it. I guess I’ve got copies of that somewhere

B: Or maybe you don’t.

J: I have the DAT…I’m sure I’ve got the DAT.

B: I shouldn’t have told you that then because you would’ve forgot…

J: Oh my god…it’s going up on eBay!

(the author and Diamond on Bondi Beach, Australia 2002)

B: How would you describe Jack as a producer…after he recorded “De Stijl” and “Sympathetic Sounds” at his house you did the mixing on that, what would you say about his recording technique?
J: He’s got some specific ideas on how he likes things to sound, and that’s good. Some of it’s different from what I would do…he likes things too loud, I’m like “I cannot sit here anymore” so, I hope that boy’s ears are working in ten or twenty years. He’s got his own ideas and that’s good, because most people have no ideas.

B: What would you say about, the early shows you went to, the early punk and hardcore shows, do you ever see that translate, or how does that feel nowadays, especially the fact that you went to the shows down the street from where you now live…

J: In 1982 I went to go see Black Flag, there used to be this place, City Club or Clutch Cargo’s…right next door to where I live now, where the studio is. And I remember it being 1982, the summer and I was like “wow, it’d be really cool to live down here, it’d be like cool, punk rock guy” and so I’m sitting there, next thing I know I’m thirty-one going “aw fuck, here I am. I’m broke next door to that place I dreamed about as a teenager.” Those punk rock shows, I mean, going to see Black Flag in 1982 was amazing.

B: What about when you saw Minor Threat?
J: Minor Threat at the Serbian Church Hall in Ecorse, Michigan. I lost my shoe and Ian Mackeye, I said “Hey Ian…” I tugged on his jeans and said “Ian, I lost my shoe” and he said “Hey hey hey…this guy lost his shoe down here, anyone find his shoe?” And from the back of this little Serbian Church hall, the black shoe was thrown over people’s heads and we caught it and I put I back on and I waved and said “thanks everyone.” And then we kept slam-dancing.

B: Anything more to say about dealing with “De Stijl” and “Sympathetic Sounds”…did you have to fix those up or…
J: No, “De Stijl” was fine. Jack’s good at recording his own band…he’s not a recording engineer, he’s a guitar player and a singer and a songwriter.

B: Do you get sick of people going up to you saying “Oh, you recorded the first White Stripes album, you must be rich.”

J: Yeah, I don’t like that at all. I made $2000 on the damn thing. No, probably two reels of two-inch, that was $150, so I only made $1700 off the thing. But I’ve gotten good props out of it, people go “Cool man, you did that record” and I go “Yeah, I did 50 others too, you wanna hear those?”
B: Well, it’s the idea that one of them is going to stick out more than the others…

J: Obviously…

B: What would you say about recording the latest stuff on the Von Bondies new record?
J: Uh, that was fun. I mean, Jason let me go “Hey, try this” or “Don’t do that” but he wanted everyone to be producing it equally which I don’t think is the best idea.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

How to Tour Europe on Zero Dollars a Day...

Last year I did a brief tour in Europe and England playing drums for my friend Kelley Stoltz. I kept a tour diary that ended up being printed in the unparalleled UK magazine Plan B. I've added some pix here and will also let it be known that this tour was a total financial nightmare. I would scam as much free fruit from hotel lobbies as possible while usually subsisting on one trip to a gas station for a huge bottle of water, some flapjacks and a microwaveable bowl of noodles. And Kelley wasn't getting paid diddley, so I wasn't really in a place to ask for a salary or per diem or whatever (he later made up for it by paying to have my laptop fixed, so I was happy in the end). It was an interesting month. The account below is fairly short-winded due to my limited space in Plan B so I didn't really get in to my week spent rehearsing in San Francisco, what I did for most of the days off, quick visits to Stonehenge and Nick Drake's grave, how I sped through more than 20 books on the entire trip, our time spent at the wonderful Bernie's house in Manchester, how our driver Milan could seem like he was retarded at times and a whole bunch of other shit that maybe some day I'll transcribe from the hand-written journals.

(the band, our day off in Edinburgh)

The whole thing started with me getting picked up from San Francisco International Airport in a vintage bright orange Volkswagen minibus.

My first thought was, “Fucking hippies.”

With Kelley Stoltz needing a drummer for his European tour I was more than happy to help him in the month-long process of losing money.


Sixty people on a Thursday night is the kind of crowd a MOJO magazine darling can expect in London? Jeez. Felt surprisingly comfortable for our first show. Must confess that prior to rehearsals in SF I had only tried to play any of Kelley’s songs once.


Two days off in this nowhere town. Slept until 5pm the first day. County fair is both exciting and desperate. Four guys sharing a room starts to literally and metaphorically smell like a manhole. With my bedside lamp still bright at 5am reading Consider the Lobster, Kelley kindly asks me how much longer I plan on reading. I took consideration and finished in the bathroom.


End of the Road Festival and was excited to meet up with Holly Golightly. Her tunes are comfortable like an old pair of jeans and Bruce Brand is a drummer’s drummer. Ryan Adams “compliments” me on my drum fills for Words saying each one was a leap of faith, somehow managing to come in at the right spot. While I’m still not sure of my intention on said fills, I just don’t like this dude. After saying I reminded him of Bill Kreutzman from the Grateful Dead it took all I had in me to keep from punching Ryan Adams.


Kelley did a hilarious ten-minute mock interview with himself (complete with misappropriated Scotch accent) onstage, somewhat bummed that his BBC Radio interview earlier in the day was cancelled. Someone nailed it as “George Harrison meets George Carlin.” Easily the longest I’ve been onstage without playing music and the hardest I’ve ever laughed.


Low-point of the tour. As if playing a place called the Flapper and Firkin wasn’t degrading enough, the promoter snuck out without paying us. Fine…we’d still play for the six people there. But at 10:45, before we’d even set up our equipment, we’re told there’s an 11pm curfew. We barely muster through two songs before Kelley gets frustrated and walks off. The first (and only) time I ever played wearing a hat. Spent two hours driving trying to find our hotel only 10 minutes away. Briefly considered doing heroin.

Walked through town singing Arctic Monkeys songs to myself. I love the Arctic Monkeys. You would too if you didn’t live in the UK.


Finally a kickass show. Tons of people showed up and we delivered. Made up a meandering psych-jam on the spot. Kelley hammed up Iggy’s Nightclubbin’ and convinced the crowd to sing along. Someone made a birthday cake for Kelley and we handed out slices at the merch table.

Two days off in this nothing town. Saw Clerks 2 and forgot where I was for two hours.


Crowd was worse than sparse. Didn’t affect us as we just smiled and had fun. Definitely the best version of Link Wray’s Rumble we’d play the whole tour.


Walked around town singing Franz Ferdinand songs to myself. Found my way to MONO record store and splurged on Magik Markers and Rita Lee CD’s.


A record store dedicated to U2? You’ve got to be kidding me. Bought Everett True’s Nirvana biography. Finished it in less than two days. Utterly brilliant. Show was whatever, highlight being bass player Kevin (engineer for the Residents…or is it member of the Residents?) getting schizophrenic electric piano from a state of utter non-working to almost perfect by heating it up with a hair dryer. Wow.


Last show with tour and equipment support from Kendall’s Seven Seals. Great dudes whose songs felt “eh” at the beginning but ended with me singing along every chance I got. First week of uni and the city streets are a veritable flesh parade. I miss my girlfriend more than ever. Watching drunken couples argue in the streets is the closest I will get to actually experiencing an Arctic Monkeys’ song besides “Despair in the Departure Lounge.”


After cancelled shows in Aldershot and Cardiff, the first continental show was amazing. The Juke Box Shop is my favorite record store of the year and I dropped a quick 100 euros on 7”s (Jacques Dutronc, Elliott Smith) but make the trip pay for itself by finding the Kurdt Kobain Go Team single for a fiver. Free internet, five star hotel and a gourmet dinner…it was like England never happened.


Radio/webcast of a 5-song set made me imagine playing on “Beat Club” or some other long-forgotten German television broadcast. Mom watched it live and said I needed to shave. Following day off we visit the Rijks Museum and the Van Gogh museum and I left feeling cultured. Subsisted almost exclusively on Febo automat burgers and fried snot.


Spent two hours at Da Capo record store and still didn’t get through all the 7”s. Found myself racking my brain whether or not I really needed a bootleg Sonic Youth 7” or a Kelley Deal 6000 single. With the Dirtbombs I would just buy both. The show featured excessive smoke machine use. Afterwards we cruised the “Red Boat” district, a kilometer-long stretch of prostitutes stationed in houseboats. Brilliantly fascinating.

Take Root Festival in Assen was awkward. Kelley and Kevin got shocked relentlessly onstage and the performance suffered terribly for it. But the food was worth it. Hopped in the van and made the trek to Rotterdam. Second show of the day fared much better, with a decent crowd and a fulfilling effort on our part, though loading out through a sea of idiots at a disco is one of the more frustrating things I must do in my life.


A semi-festival in both rooms of the Paradiso, including the Hidden Cameras, I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness (more like ‘I Love You But I’ve Chosen to Play in this Shitty Band’) and to my surprise, Dan Sartain. Spent every free minute I had with Dan, catching up as if we were old friends. His set was nothing short of breath taking and his new record Join Dan Sartain is flawless. Night ended with Dan gobbling a hash brownie way too quickly. He wore ripped up bath towels for socks the next day.


Days off driving are boring, resulted only in an argument with Kelley whether gummy Cola bottles or gummy bears are better. I say cola. He say bears. A friend of Kelley’s handed me his cell phone when I asked if he had spare original pressings of the first two Dungen lps. I find myself leaving a voicemail for the guitar player in the band. Watched the Detroit Tigers destroy the Oakland Athletics live on Swedish television. Probably the best thing to happen the entire tour.


The Kelley Stoltz act may single-handedly bring down the socialist arts-supporting government of Sweden with paid attendees of the show totaling seven. After-hours swimming and sauna at posh hotel is the perfect ending to a confusing but enjoyable month.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Best Songs I First Heard in 2007...

As day four of the Tremble Under Boom Lights one-year anniversary celebration (where I've promised the unthinkable with a post here every day for a week) I'm listing the best songs I first heard this year. Feel free to trail through the previous three posts to find out what I was doing approximately 8 years ago, what sessions for the new Dirtbombs album looked like and what the ten most important singles in Detroit history are.

Anyturd, all of these songs get my HIGHEST approval and I strongly suggest you click on the links for downloads. The shit is can you go wrong? Enjoy!

Temptation Greets You Like A Naughty Friend – Arctic Monkeys
Dizzee Rascal grimes up this Monkeys B-side with all kinds of wicked flow. I reviewed this earlier this year, search out what I said then.

Gloves – the Horrors
A simple garage chord progression does wonders. Coupled with Rotter's lyrics about collecting gloves he finds in the street (bothy creepy and great for lyrics) and the syncopated organ stabs and what you get is the most-played song on my iTunes jukebox.

Politicians in My Eyes – Death
While I'd known about this band and their single on Tryangle for a year or so, I just heard the song a little over a month ago. The band consisted of three black brothers from the east side of Detroit who only ever played a few house parties and unleashed a monster of a single that draws equal parts of the Stooges, Blue Oyster Cult, the MC5 and all kinds of scorched punk recklessness before grasping onto a funky ending that all needs to be heard to be believed. Shit, just download it here... there's five unreleased songs I'm not airing out here and those are equally as badass. And it's from 1976!!! Dirtbombs are totally gonna cover some of this shit.

I Won't Look Back - Tall Birds
These guys have two utterly impeccable 7"s under their belts, but this jam off their Psychic Scam self-released CD-r is flawless. Cass is still working hard in hopes of releasing this as a 7". You can hear the almost-as-awesome live version at

Your Reverie – Kelley Stoltz
I like the way you can hear (what I assume to be) the Echoplex drag the guitar along.

Alleys of Your Mind – Cybotron
If you haven't heard this already, I give up.

Tears Dry on Their Own – Amy Winehouse
While "Rehab" is cool and all, I really dig the lyrics on this one on top of the fact that it musically references "You're All I Need to Get By" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Shows how much people will really dig something when you use a real band to record.

Honey, We Can't Afford to Look This Cheap – The White Stripes
Y'all gonna flip when you hear this one. It tells a simple story with a poignant and piercing turn of phrase. A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, Jack rocking a "Finding it Harder to Be Gentleman"-style piano romp, Beck on the slide can you go wrong? Dare I say I think this, coupled with "It's My Fault For Being Famous" are two B-sides that are as good as anything found on Icky Thump.

See Me Mariona – Brian Olive
Wicked awesome to finally something emerge from his solo efforts. I reviewed the 7" for Metro Times, so dig it up at their website,

Girl From the Mountain – Ghetto Brothers
So in Jeff Chang's book Can't Stop, Won't Stop he lists the Power-Fuerza album by New York's slightly gang-affiliated Ghetto Brothers as a starting point for the inception of hip hop sound in NYC. Intrigued, I found the CD reissue and couldn't disagree with Chang more. Nowhere do I feel even a remote resemblance to what hip hop would turn into. In spite of all that, what we do have is a brilliant Latino-infused pop song with ample percussion backing and a searing fuzz solo. Dig it here...

Bigger Hole to Fill – The Hives
Shit, Pelle just nails this one with his non-plussed vocal and the rubbery bassline sounds like something Dave Buick would come up with. Should've opened the album though.

Clear Island - Liars
Uh, if you don't like this you don't like music. At all. Just give up now. You'll never understand.

RIP The Night Train with Mick Collins. Equal parts Liars and pagan birth ritual. Rock it here...

Broadzilla – Turbo Fruits
Not even recorded yet and it's the best thing they've ever done. Shit.

And what are the best songs you first heard this year? Don't be shy now...if you just finally heard "A Day in the Life" be proud of yourself and just let us know. Everything will be fine.