Greetings folks, here I go again.
As a result of wide-ranging and whimsical interests I find myself on lots of wacko (snail-) mailing lists, from far left to far right: books, politics, economics, conspiracists, quack medicine, yowie zowie! Recently I got an unsolicited sample copy of some "financial advice" mag called "MoneyWorld" that I never heard of before. Perusing it I found the following investment pitch:
"Investment Resorts and Entertainment Group, Inc. (IRAE) is a fast-growing, award-winning showbiz and time-share conglomerate that is about to take the world by storm. While the resort and time-share operation goes from strength to strength and provides an increasing revenue flow, the theatrical and television properties offer even greater promise over the next few months.... The most exciting of the projects is Team Amazon, an animated action series. The main characters, four young female school teachers, return from a trip to the Amazon as Super Heroes with amazing powers that they use to fight crime. In addition to the cartoon characters that offer phenomenal licensing and merchandising opportunities, IRAE is also launching Team Amazon as a pop group. The female singers will wear the same costumes as their cartoon characters and a team of writers is already working on the numbers for their first release. The group has the potential to be even bigger than the Spice Girls because of the accompanying television series that could attract worldwide screening. Talks are already at an advanced stage with Sony and Granada Television in the UK...." The blurb goes on to describe "almost limitless merchandising and licensing opportunities ranging from clothing and toys to music rights and theme restaurants".
Manufactured-from-above popular culture... read it and weep.
Amusing times in the studio of late with Ten Minute Warning. See the "what's up" part of my page for an introduction to who these guys are. Suffice it to say that after the 15-year-old Duff McKagan had left his job as the Fastbacks' drummer ('80?) but before his later career with G'n'R, he was a guitarist in a VERY INFLUENTIAL Seattle band called Ten Minute Warning, 1982-83. Stone from Pearl Jam has said that if it wasn't for TMW he wouldn't be playing guitar today. Duff may be the famous one now, but the rest of the band kicked ass. Greg Gilmore went on to drum for Mother Love Bone, lead guitarist Paul Solger later played in a band here called Meddaphysical (he also co-wrote the Green River song "Rehab Doll"), bassist David Garrigues went to India, came back, and is now a yoga teacher. Duff was/is the second guitarist. All of them never stopped playing, and kept their chops up; so when Duff decided to get it back together a couple years back, they all found they were a way better band than they were, oh, 14 years ago... and all clean'n'sober too. Unfortunately their original singer Steve was, well, let's just say "unavailable"; so they found a new guy named Christopher to sing, and he has a heck of a voice, really great. Hearing these guys reminiscing about the old punk days in Seattle circa 1981 was a trip...
Interesting thing is that they were almost the first Seattle band to make the shift from doctrinaire, fast punk rock to something slower, heavier and more varied. TMW caught all sorts of crap for it, but on the other hand their live shows were legendary and they attracted quite a following. When they opened for Black Flag, Henry Rollins, in a widely quoted remark, approvingly called them a "punk-rock Hawkwind". I don't quite see it, but I have heard that there were a lot of, shall we say, psychedelic INFLUENCES floating around at those shows. Really, the big operative word in those days was "Stooges". (Another operative word in Seattle was "acid.") The only other bands covering similar post-punk territory in the early 80's were the equally-legendary U-men (look for their "Stop Spinning" and "Step on a Bug" records) and the haphazard but at-times-inspired Malfunkshun. (The whole thing didn't really get going until the "Deep Six" bands in 1985, but that's another story...)
The problem was that TMW left no record of their existence. In those days there were almost no indie labels in Seattle (or anywhere else), and while they made several attempts at recording, nothing came together and they finally fell apart in 1984, right before their last bass player Daniel House met up with me and we started Skin Yard. There were no singles, not even a compilation track, and judging from the old recordings I've heard (yeesh!), no engineer in town was capable of capturing TMW in the studio. So there was always a feeling that their story was unfinished; I guess the time was right for them to get back together, and prove to themselves and everyone else that they hadn't just imagined the whole damned thing.
Sitting in the studio the past week listening to (and mixing) the tracks for their upcoming SubPop EP (ably recorded by Stu Hallerman at AVAST!), I was repeatedly struck by how much Green River (and even Pearl Jam) copped from these guys. From my description here, one would be forgiven for being a bit skeptical (I was!) but in fact these tracks are pretty cool, and just crackle with live energy. I'm pretty psyched about this, and so is Jon Poneman at SubPop, not least because you couldn't release a LESS-HIP record right now, when it's considered rather tacky to rock out.
Duff had some amusing words about this. He recently went to a 311 concert with his fiancee, and while it was impressive, he came out of it wondering: "Is this slacker shit what kicks these kid's asses today? Do they have anything that truly KICKS THEIR ASSES? What the heck is up with music right now?" You know, like where's the beef? And I'd been thinking the same thing, and offered my theory. I've been listening to the Beck "Odelay" album, and while I think it's great, I've been struck by how essentially PLACID it is, and so much other, popular music right now. PLACID! (Hey, and Pavement=Grateful Dead!) My theory is that it is music for good economic times. The popularity of "cocktail nation" music... all that trippy drony techno stuff... happy-bouncy ska bands... punk-pop... irony overload... low unemployment and inflation... biggest stock market boom in history... it all fits in. Jon Poneman from SubPop jumped on that thought instantly, saying he's been thinking the same thing. My conclusion: what we need right now is a WORLD-WIDE ECONOMIC COLLAPSE; it would be great for punk rock. (I'm not entirely joking: Keep an eye on Japan, there should be some GREAT punk rock coming out of there soon. R we next?)
(Incidentally, if anyone cares, Duff says he's finally "legally" out of G'n'R; Axl just became too hard to work with. Axl of course is now the only one left, and owns the name, so he can do whatever he wants to and call it G'n'R. Pretty obvious that the "band" is completely finished but the nature of the record business being what it is, too many industry leeches are desperately hoping that the goose (i.e., the G'n'R "brand name") will lay one more golden egg, so they can't let on that it's over with! So Axl, sole owner of the brand name, is coddled and pampered... Ain't the music biz great?)
Thought you would be amused to hear that a very-stodgy Seattle magazine (called, remarkably, "Seattle") recently called Zeke "possibly the next Soundgarden" or something like that. I laughed my ass off but nearly as much as they will when I show it to them!
S'all for now...