TEOTWAWKI: The end of the world as we know it! Whoopie-ding. Oh yeah, got one last newsletter out, added a bunch of stuff to my discographies, tweaked a few other things, bought 1000 rounds of ammunition, got a 1000 gallon water storage tank, a 1-year supply of dehydrated military rations, barred the windows... let's rock! (Kidding.)
Hey, I finally got a new newsletter out! Check it out for the latest hot meat from Seattle. Tomorrow in the studio: return of the Monkeywrench.
Man, way too damn much work; my apologies to subscribers for getting no newsletters out since January. I will soon remedy this.
Finished the Titas album (my third) for Warner Brasil; I had the privilege of mixing it at Seattle's own Studio X. The place is not cheap but it is worth the money, for those who are able to spend it. An SSL board with moving faders is a wonderful thing; I do not like VCA automation (the kind where the faders don't move). In fact I generally don't like automation systems at all for this basic rock-and-roll stuff I often do; but for Titas, it was necessary, because we had as much as 40 tracks going at times, what with strings, horns, multiple percussion parts, 3-part backing vocal harmonies in some places and a band with 7 guys, 4 of whom are lead singers! Since I have a ton of photos from the sessions I will post a separate article on this site about the details of this very substantial (and very enjoyable) job. Technically, I did stuff I've never tried before, much of it involving (drum roll please...) Digidesign's Pro Tools. I guess it had to happen. I even got to fly to New York at Warner's expense to watch George Marino master the record at Sterling Sound. George has some pretty impressive gold discs on his wall, like for instance the remastered Zeppelin box, remastered Hendrix albums, Metallica's "Black" album, "Appetite for Destruction"... obviously I was in good hands. The album is excellent, being an album of cover songs. After 13 albums or so, Titas had never tried an album of cover tunes, and these are very special tunes, many of which were hits in Brasil over the last 30 years, but some of which were obscure. Many will be interested to note that we did a cover of a song from a Mutantes album from about 1969. This classic Brazilian psych band was brought to my attention on my first trip to Brasil in 1993, and with David Byrne's Luaka Bop label releasing a "Best of Mutantes" comp last month here in the States, suddenly everybody is talking about 'em... 'Bout time some people started paying attention to the "other" land down under! Strangely enough, one of Mutantes' ex-bass-players, Liminha, has also produced several excellent albums for Titas.
In the interim between recording and mixing the Titas album, Burning Heads came over from France and we made a seriously rippin' punk rock record. I can't wait to hear the mastered version of it. Great stuff, one of the best such albums I have ever worked on.
Right after completing Titas, with nary a break, I was back at Hanzsek Audio mixing a record I started back in early June for the Seattle band Speed Twin. Some excellent Cheap-Trick style heavy rock-pop. We originally tracked it at Bear Creek studio, with house engineer Ryan Hadlock assisting me and doing much of the grunt work while I got to sit back and be a, er, "producer" rather than doing everything myself like usual. It was a good working relationship and the results will speak for themselves.
Promo copies of the new Nebula and Zen Guerrilla albums are out, and I just got a mastered CD ref from John Golden of the Quadrajets record, which is noisy, screaming, Southern garage rock with three guitar players. Oh, and there's a new Bell CD out this month, "A New Kind of Rome", which I did some work on but was unable to complete due to the above enormo-jobs taking over my life. No matter, Stu Hallerman at Avast! took over and did a fine job wrapping it up. As I write I am about to head out to the Bell record release show at Seattle's Breakroom... a rare night out. I missed the Melvins ('cuz of work) when they came through a while ago, and am still kicking myself.
Coming up? This weekend, flying to NYC (hurricanes and canceled flights notwithstanding) to see the big Sub Pop CMJ showcase at CBGB's (woo! woo!) and then to spend Sunday at a studio called Avalon to record three tracks for the Hellacopters for a Pre-Y2K single, said to be Sub Pop's last release of the millenium. I will bring the tapes back with me and mix it here while the band continues their tour.
It gets better... Those of you wondering what Mark and Steve from Mudhoney will do next (now that they are Lukin-less) will be interested to hear that we have booked time in November to record a new Monkeywrench album, this time for Estrus. Monkeywrench, you may recall, is the "supergroup" with Tim Kerr (Poison 13, Big Boys, producer himself), Mark, Steve, Tom Price (Gashuffer, U-Men) and drummer Martin Bland (Lubricated Goat, Bloodloss), who recorded one album back in 1989 or so for Sub Pop. Everyone involved is pretty psyched.
Forgot to mention working with the Quadrajets right before Titas because we did the record so fast that I hardly remember doing it! (Sorry Chet, I'm a space cadet sometimes, it's these 14-hour days.) Tim Kerr (an icon of Texas punk) more or less produced it and I more or less engineered it, and it was fun watching someone else harangue the band while I concentrated on getting sounds. He said I reminded him of Spot...
(These sessions followed a weekend of craziness in the form of Garageshock, in Bellingham, Wa. Three days, too many bands, all of 'em good... but due to work I was only able to make one night. The bill: Hellacopters, Nomads, Sugar Shack, Insomniacs, Sewergrooves, and The Flaming Sideburns. Terrifying night, everybody was amazing; it was as much rock as I could take.)
The Titas record is pretty much made, but a slave reel is in New York right now where Eumir Deodato (a former Brasileiro) is adding some strings to several songs (band's idea!). For you young'uns, Eumir had an actual hit single, an instro version of the theme from "2001", which I bought in 1973 and still have. You may notice his name on the credits of some recent Bjork records. He seems like an interesting cat and has worked with Titas before. After he finishes and the reel is returned to me, we mix the record here in August at Studio X. I wish more people could hear Titas (and my work with them... this is my third record) but their records seem to stay in Brazil. They are covering a Mutantes tune on this record, if that means anything to anyone; Titas turned me on to this late-60's Brazilian psych band back in '93, and it looks like the rest of the world is finally discovering this band too. Now if only they would discover Titas, who have been around since 1982...
Currently at Ironwood Studio in Seattle with French band Burning Heads, with whom I worked in 1994 in Paris. They are now on Epitaph Europe and we are making a slamming album. Zeke better watch out.
Just out: the Watts album , ex-Mono-Man Dave Crider's new band, on Estrus of course.
The Nerves record I did in Chicago back in January is out too, entitled "New Animal", on Thrilljockey. Good stuff. My wife thinks it sounds like the Voidoids; another guy I know thought it sounded like Mission of Burma. Someone else mentioned the Zombies. (Ya can't lose!)
Work, along with certain other aspects of my so-called life, has been unrelenting. Right after finishing Nebula I went into Stone's Studio Litho to record Zen Guerrilla (note: two r's, two l's) for Sub Pop. After most of the tracking we moved to Hanzsek Audio to continue tracking and commence mixing. Aside from the fact that the band raged mightily, the sessions were somewhat clouded by the fact that we all, every one of us sequentially, got sick. Now, in Portugal, the singer for MRM was sick, but we managed to get the vocals done at the last minute and my health held out. Nebula's Eddie Glass was initially sick and ended up re-singing some of his vocals right as I was about to mix, but it worked and I got it mixed and my immune system resisted. But Zen Guerrilla, god bless 'em, was the last straw, and I resisted until the day before mixing was to start, and finally, at the worst possible time, found myself with plugged up ears and consuming boxes of Kleenex. The singer Marcus, meanwhile, had gotten over his cold, and on the final day of mixing, we were actually recutting vocals at 5AM, and I stayed in the studio until 3 PM the next day, a record 26-hour day. Upon finishing I totally relapsed, and have been coughing horribly for the four weeks since; but we finished the damned record on time. Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet...
Having just yesterday finally commenced a course of antibiotics, I find myself about to begin my third record for Brasil's Titas. Drummer Charles Gavin arrived in Seattle a few days ago, and we have been doing preproduction and gathering borrowed/rented gear for the band to record with. Sessions begin at Ironwood Studio B tomorrow.
Apologies to all my subscribers that I have had no time for a newsletter since my January one; I have the material, just no time. Even worse, my mailing list grew completely out of control, and I just recently learned how to manage it with Filemaker Pro. It appears my last newsletter ("How to overproduce a rock record") has been circulated widely on the web, not always with my name attached, unfortunately. But such is the web.
Still too much work. Not complaining though. Just finished new Nebula album, to be called "To The Center". Amazing stuff, seriously. Went to Portugal in March and did a self-financed indy record for a band called More Republica Masonica in an all-ADAT studio. I prefer analog but it was all the band could afford; at least I have managed to become familiar enough with ADATs to make them work well for me when necessary (as with Guillotina). Portugal was pretty cool (as were the Portuguese, including my friend Nuno, a DJ with whom I stayed), except that my acquired Brazilian version of Portuguese didn't really work; the accent is very different. Oh well, at least they spoke good English. MRM is still looking for a deal in Portugal and I will master the record when they get it sorted out. I have some cool pictures which I may eventually post. In a few days, starting sessions for the new Zen Guerrilla album for Sub Pop. My French friends from '94, the Burning Heads, have announced their intention of coming to Seattle and recording with me in July. They are now signed to Epitaph Europe. Records by Elevator Through and Black Halos and two new Nebula EP's are all out now, see my discography.
(Later) Hey, whoopee, they let me out of my cage long enough to see some live music. Had to split my time between two shows. Mona Diesel, featuring several ex-Gruntruck members including singer Ben, played their debut gig tonight to a packed house, and it was very excellent. Stay tuned for more news on them. I had to split halfway thru though to run across town and say hello to old pal Helios Creed and his longtime partner/keyboardist Z Sylver. Helios, for all you young'uns, made ten albums or so with a legendary San Francisco-based underground band called Chrome from 1976 to 1982, and has had his own band ever since. I did one of his records back in 1989, The Last Laugh, which you should check out if you ever find a copy. The Skin Yard rhythm section played on it with him.The guitar damage is like nothing you've ever heard before. And, oh yeah, ran into Brian Wood, who says he in fact does not have a new band. Oh well! S'all for the moment, over and out...
Whew... too much work. Good, I guess, except for anyone waiting for me to update this website. Just got mastered test CD's of the Elevator Through ("Strange Premonition") and Black Halos (self-titled) albums; they sounded fabulous. John Golden has delivered the goods once again. From his old days working at the now-defunct Kdisc Mastering (alongside other unsung greats like Carol Hansen), to his present plush digs at John Golden Mastering, John has mastered a zillion of my records... for SubPop, SST and lots of the other indy labels I've worked for.
At the same time I'm doing more mastering myself these days (see FAQ: "Mastering"). Just mastered a CD for a new Seattle outfit called Bullet Train to the Sun. An excellent band, extra special for me by the presence of ex-Skin Yard alumnus Pat Pedersen on bass. Of course they sound nothing like SY, and any attempt to describe 'em would be useless. Suffice it to say that they are rock, not punk, and extremely good at what they do, singer Mia Boyle especially so. Production of their CD was courtesy of another young-un who will undoubtedly steal all my clients, Alex Kostelnik, working out of Barrett Jones' Laundry Room studio. Sure like this record. They're putting it out themselves; I'll inform in due course.
Just got word that Brian Wood has a new band called Numb Thumb. No other info as yet.
Just spent two freezing-cold January weeks in Chicago recording the Nerves for Thrilljockey, at a studio called Uber Studio. Great live drum room and two huge plate reverbs, making this the first record I've done since whenever where I can actually say "no digital reverb used". The band makes tense, tightly wound garage punk with crisp, shrill guitar, fat, oozing bass, frantic drumming and vocals reminiscent of Fred Cole from Dead Moon. The record will be called "New Animal" and it does indeed rock. Chicago, however, was DANGED cold.
Over the holidays recorded a CD by another local band called Us of All. Like Bullet Train, they have an excellent female singer/guitarist with a hot band supporting. Good songs too, again not punk but quite engaging. Didn't get to master it though, as I had to go to Chicago right then. (No matter, Chris Hanzsek did it in my place.) This album will also be self-released... long live indy rock.
And THIS week, worked on new records for Dave "Estrus" Crider's new band, Watts, and for Bell, featuring Vanessa Veselka on vocals/guitar and ex-olympian Damon Romero (ex-Treehouse, Lush) on guitar. Both bands rock like hell. Upcoming: Zen Guerilla, Nebula, Quadrajets, and Seattle bands Speed Twin, RC5, I forget who else.
I guess I make ROCK RECORDS. Anyone got a problem with that?
Man, what a month! First, 10 days spent in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada to mix a record for the band Elevator Through for Sub Pop. This excellent band contains former members of Eric's Trip, and rather than the punk stuff I've been inundated with lately, they have more of an early-Pink Floyd vibe. Good stuff. The studio, amusingly enough, was in the basement of Moncton's only strip club, but was more than adequately equipped. Then commenced some work on the next Bell record, which we will do a little bit at a time over the next few months. Then an album for the Die Young Stay Pretty label by another Canadian band currently known as the Black Market Babies, but soon to become the Black Haloes (Halos?) because someone else had the name first. Excellent 77-style punk rock but extremely hooky. Kurt Colfelt, formerly of Shark Chum and Zeke, has a new band called the Load Levellers, and we did a day's worth of quick and dirty recording so they could start getting some shows with a tape. Their drummer used to be in a band I recorded back in '87 called Subvert, and he informed me that some label had in '93 "posthumously" released all that stuff we did on a CD; but he couldn't remember the label name or even the exact CD title! So I guess I get to add another record to my discography, though I don't have any info about it at all! At this point 98% of everything I've ever recorded in a studio has been released somewhere; weird. Recently did a demo for Ben (Skin Yard/Gruntruck) McMillan's new combo, Mona Diesel, who of course forgot to bring money to pay me, but I have first dibs on his firstborn male child, the weasel! Good stuff; imagine Gruntruck without the metal guitar sound. Also, Scott McCullum (ex-Skin Yard/Gruntruck) drums for 'em, a good thing. Stay tuned.
Accumulated about a million new CDs, meaning to review a bunch of 'em here, but no time to actually listen to the damn things yet. Even got a tape of the forthcoming new Wellwater Conspiracy album, label yet to be determined, from John McBain himself... thanx John! I will review these soon.
Some shows: in past months I have seen a bunch of shows but the only ones I can recall right now are the Altamont show I saw a while back (this band features Dale Crover, Melvins drummer, on guitar and vocals, and they are quite decent, very heavy), and the show I just witnessed a few hours ago. Funny; a year ago I did a combined review of two records by Fu Manchu and the Hellacopters, and tonight they played together in Seattle, along with Dave (Mono Men) Crider's new band, Watts, who I will be recording in late January. A night of rock was had by all. The 'Copters (who hail from Sweden) are one smoking live band, and though Scott Hill from Fu earlier admitted to me that he had some trepidation at going after the 'Copters, Fu came on and definitely held their own with a likewise smoking set. In attendance was a veritable galaxy of Seattle rock luminaries (do you really want me to list 'em all?), all of whom were indeed rocked. (In fact, it was so incestuous it was positively sick. Hey, Tony Slug played me the Hellacopters a year and a half ago, but does anybody listen to me? Heck no!) Earlier, found myself and my wife Dawn in a restaurant with said 'Copters and two members of the San Fran band Zen Guerrilla, another upcoming project for me; plus Peter Bagge and two Sub Pop folks; one of the topics of conversation was the news-just-in about the sad breakup of fellow Scandinavian punk-rock icons Turbonegro. Sigh.
Coming up: a trip to Chicago to record the Nerves for the Thrilljockey label. Yeah, I've been informed that there was another band by that name some years ago; please tell somebody who gives a shit! I don't name 'em, I just record 'em. And... tomorrow, recording a local band called Us of All.
Just managed to put up a page (with photos) describing my adventures in Mexico City with Guillotina; check it out! Also, finally revamped my photo album, and some new pictures have been added.
Just got back from Mexico City where I did a third album for the band Guillotina. Had many amusing adventures and even a bit of tourism, seeing the Grutas de Cacahuamilpa (enormous limestone caves) for instance. On a previous trip they took me to the pyramids of Teotihuacan, and when I get a scanner, some pictures from that are going up too. Saw a bunch of great mexican bands. Panted and wheezed in the thin air (7500 feet altitude!). Ate lots of mangoes. I'll detail my trip in an article I'll put up pretty soon in the Archives section of this page. Lots of pictures from this trip too, including a whole series of shots of completely-unknown-here old mexican tube guitar amplifiers. The studio owner loaned me his Casio digital camera... phew, those things are great. When the quality increases in just a few years there will be no need whatsoever for old-fashioned film cameras.
Guillotinais a spanish-speaking heavy rock band that sounds vaguely, superficially SG-ish for lack of a better comparison, but unlike a million bands up here they actually are original and have their own style which is a good one. No stadium bombast or rock-star schtick, just good songs/playing and very good singing. Killer live band too. If I had a record label I would figure out some way to release their records here in the US. No one is going after the hispanic rock market here at all from what I can see... there's what, 40 million hispanics here in the US? Somebody needs to wake up. See my comments from 21 July below.
Saw the offices of the Opcion Sonica record label, which looks exactly like all indy record offices everywhere, and just like Sub Pop did 10 years ago. You know, posters everywhere, boxes of records stacked even in the bathroom, earnest-looking young people filling out orders. They seem to have been the happening "alternativo" label in Mexico for some years, with a huge catalog and some licensing deals with labels outside Mexico. They apparently distributed Sub Pop in Mexico before the Warner deal put an end to all Sub Pop's indy distibution arrangements. Typical, that: I've long noticed that indies get better international distribution that majors do, because the major label affiliate in each country prefers to deal only with stuff from their own country. Warner Mexico has shown no interest in distributing Sub Pop in Mexico, therefore they don't get distributed...
On a lighter note, Edmundo from Opcion Sonica informed me that the compilation album tribute to El Tri that I mastered for him a few months ago is going to be released in the US. El Tri could be considered the fathers of Mexican Rock; the band is celebrating their 30th anniversary right now. Their leader and founder, Alex Lora, fully supports the tribute album, he thinks it's pretty cool. Apparently it's the first "tribute"-type album to ever be released in Mexico! God knows we don't need any more of them here. But not being familiar with the original versions of these songs I found it a pretty interesting record. It's called "Tri....buto", and if you want a representative sampling of how wierd Mexico City rock can be, check it out if you see it. Remember I only mastered it, I did not record or mix it... see my FAQ if you're not sure of the difference.
Busy. Recently recorded a few songs for Nebula, who you might call an "offshoot" band from Fu Manchu; all three members were in Fu at one time. They came through Seattle on a little West Coast tour, playing a blazing show at the famous Crocodile Cafe. From what I understand these songs are going to go to various singles, comps, bonus cuts and things. Great fun to see Nebula guitarist Eddie Glass again; in the late eighties he was drummer in a band called Olivelawn for whom I cut two albums.
Other stuff: finishing the recording (on the old Reciprocal eight-track) of my friend Steve Detray's all-acoustic solo album. Steve was in a band in the Eighties called Actual Size, for whom I played bass briefly in 1984-85; the band continues to play occasional Seattle gigs with Rand Miller on bass. Even stranger, in the sixties Steve went to Oberlin College, and had a band there called The Ant Trip Ceremony, who recorded and self-released one record which is now an ultra-rare high-priced mega-collectible artifact of the psychedelic era. (I kid you not! If you could just see this record...) An Arizona reissue label called Cycadelic Records is preparing to do an official CD reissue of this long-lost album; anyone who might have any photos taken of the band back then should get in touch with me, and I'll hook you up with Steve.
More: Recently finished the final editing and remastering of that Skin Yard "singles and rarities" comp, since Daniel at C/Z Records is planning to finally release it. Also mastered another CD for Mexico's Opcion Sonica label, this one by a band called Escarbarme. New album by Murder City Devils is out Sept. 20th. S'all for now...
Decided to get out of town with my wife this weekend; we stabbed randomly at a map of Washington and said "Hmmm. Anacortes. Looks good." Anacortes is a small port town on Puget Sound about an hour-and-a-half drive north of Seattle, in rural Skagit County. After settling in at our motel we, uh, cruised the town, which has one main street; very conspicuous was a cool-looking record/book/antique store called "The Business". Upon entering, we spent over an hour browsing, all the while wondering what this cool store was doing in such an out-of-the way place... the used record selection was just too good, and there was plenty other stuff. Turned out, one of the partners in the business is Brett who used to play guitar for Beat Happening! Suddenly it all made sense. The people there run a modest indy label called Knw-Yr-Own, featuring Brett's new band D+ and lots of other Skagit County bands/artists. Phil, the D+ drummer who also works there, showed us their little 8-track studio in the back of the store, right behind an aisle of books. We were invited to come back in the evening to see a live gig out on the patio behind the store!
After a day spent hiking around Deception Pass State Park we returned to The Business and were led into the back patio area. Turns out there are no residential neighbors anywhere near the store, so they can do these occasional low-key OUTDOOR gigs without bothering anyone. We were entertained first by D+, featuring Brett on gtr/vocs, who played a most enjoyable set; then by a fellow named Nate Ashley up from Portland; and finally a solo acoustic set by one Karl Blau, who also played bass in D+. All were affiliated with Know-Yr-Own, and it seemed everyone in bands/audience knew each other. A truly heartwarming, classic DIY mini-scene. Afterwards Brett fixed us up with some CDs from the label. What a cool time.
and Knw-Yr-Own Records: http://www.anacortes.net/biznest
Mark Arm just sent me a promo CD of the new Mudhoney album. Thanx Mark!!
See my review on my "stereo" page.Hint: Buy or die!
The Vancouver B.C. band I recorded a while back, Crush Groove, just sent me down a few promo CDs they made themselves. This stuff is bludgeoning, heavy, pummeling riff-rock with a great singer, good playing and some cool lyrics, and No Wanking. I'm thrilled with my work on it too, technically speaking, considering we only had about a week. These guys are hard workers and the nicest bunch I've ever met; will someone please give them a goddamn deal so I can make more/better records for them?
Oh yeah, saw a Makers show a while back, and they about ripped my head off. (This is a compliment.)
Finally got my "Garage Sale" page up and running, check it out. As I think of other stuff that you Seattle-o-philes might be looking for, I'll be adding to it.
Been working with Joe Ross on remixing the old Green Pajamas "November" sessions I engineered back in 1987, for eventual CD issue. The Pajamas were about to undergo a lineup change, so they came into Reciprocal to document some songs that might have been otherwise lost, including songs by charter member Jeff Kelly and by departing members Steve Lawrence and Bruce Haedt. The session was literally "live" with an audience of friends/fans in the studio, with Green Monkey Records head honcho Tom Dyer as the executive producer and master-of-ceremonies. This was the lineup that recorded the "Book of Hours" album shortly before. That makes this one sort of the great lost Pajamas album...
Through my friends in the band Guillotina I have begun doing some mastering for a label from Mexico City called Opción Sónica. First they sent me a tribute album to a Mexican rock band called El Tri who just celebrated their 30th anniversary! Called "Tri-buto" of course, it featured 17 bands from the whole spectrum of Mexican underground rock. Then they sent me a CD to master by a band called Riesgo de Contagio, which was rocking but really wierd. There is nothing like Mexican indy rock. Every now and then there is an article in Billboard, or wherever, about "Hispanic Rock" and how it is starting to get attention in the US, but I have noted with annoyance that this generally means exclusively "norteño" or Tex-Mex styles, often rooted in traditional forms and coming from the areas near both sides of the US/Mexican border. Mexico City is a thousand miles further south, and it's a whole different ball game down there. The underground bands from the "Distrito Federal" mash all kinds of rock styles together with wild abandon, and show gleeful disregard for any commercial considerations. Too bad that with all the "Hispanic Radio" stations on the US side of the border, there is as yet no Hispanic "rock" radio anywhere to be found.
Had time to see some shows: Saw Ten Minute Warning again a couple weeks ago. What a difference a year makes! Phew! One very tight and impressive band, and singer Chris has finally gotten comfortable on stage. Also on the bill: Green Apple Quickstep, recently escaped from Sony/Columbia, presumably looking for a new deal. Haven't seen them in a number of years, and was likewise impressed. Opening this show was Crime Family, whose CD "Rock Cartel" should be out August 1st. A few days later, saw a new band of some note: the Ya-Yas, consisting of Lance Mercer, well-known rock photographer; Charlie Ryan, ex-drummer for the very-legendary U-Men; Eddie Huletz who used to sing for a band called the Silly Killers; and the guitar player from Green Apple, whose name I have forgotten due to my advancing senility. Duff McKagan says they remind him of the Vibrators; I can't vouch for that, but they played some decent old-school pre-thrash punk rock, like circa 1977. A new but promising band. Also caught a band recently from Silverdale, Wa (i.e. nowhere) called Hafacat. New band, still getting their shtick down but not bad.
The Methodists new CD "Cookie" is out;
go to their website to buy it. Some of the RC5 sessions I recently did will come out on a 4-song 7 inch from Small Town Records in Redmond, Oregon. The Makers have a website too.
Haven't had time to update this in 7 weeks! Much detail will have to be left for the next newsletter, but briefly: did an excellent new record for the Murder City Devils, for Sub Pop, that I think lives up to the hype they seem to be getting around here. Went to the very cool Terrastock West festival in San Francisco, saw 38 bands; see my separate review of the event. Acquired about 100 new CD's and demo tapes, few of which I've had time to listen to yet. Finished a very rocking record for Crime Family (see below), and another equally slamming punk rock record for Seattle's own RC5, fronted by Robb Clarke who once fronted the late lamented Zipgun. Missed the Sub>Pop 10th anniversary party because I was recording my old pals Ain't from San Francisco, but it was apparently a truly fine wing-ding; Sub Pop gave ticket holders a coupon redeemable at local record stores for a copy of a super-secret surprise 7 inch, which turned out to be two of the Dickless tunes mentioned below. Guess I get to add to my singles discog... Pete Krebs (from Hazel and Golden Delicious) came up from Portland to play some steel guitar on Aint's cover of Brenda Lee's hit "Break it to me Gently", on which I got to play bass... Let's see, what else? The Ten Minute Warning CD is out, and it's a pretty slick looking package with some very nice Charles Peterson photos. (No, I don't know how to reach him on the web, or elsewhere.) The Makers' Psychopathia Sexualis is out very soon. Bell has been touring the US following the release of the EP I recorded for them, "Perfect Math", and have sent some hilarious postcards from the road. Zeke is touring for two months for their new Epitaph album "Kicked in the Teeth"; go and see the new kings of punk rock. Three of my guitar amps have fried during studio use for unknown reasons so there's some summer projects ahead...
The online garage sale hasn't materialized yet because I just haven't had time to do the HTML, not to mention my laundry, dishes, vacuuming, lawnmowing, answering snail mail etc... But just quickly I'll say that I now have copies of every Skin Yard CD for sale except "Hallowed" (which I can tape for you, we own the rights), write if you're interested; eventually I'll get a web page up with the details. Also have "Earthworm" CDs, and colored vinyl of the first album, and I'll have more stuff when I get organized.
And, oh yeah, Mudhoney have a new 7 inch out on Steve Turner's Super Electro label, with two songs that may or may not be on their upcoming album, which was produced by Jim Dickenson and mixed by David Bianco. I've heard most of the songs live, and have very high expectations.
The CD by The Day I Fell Down is out now, and I want you all to go and buy it. Got it? It's POP, damned good pop, not the usual crap you've been hearing at all. You gotta hear it to believe it. That's all I'm gonna say.
Hot tip: saw a new local band I liked a lot, called Eureka Farm. Hard to describe: young guys, G-B-D trio, very good players, decent three-part harmonies, some fairly abstract but still pretty interesting arrangements, some of it kinda low-key, some odd meters; some subtlety, praise the Lord, but not dull. Doubtless, not "accessible" enough for some people; but definitely not the same old crap, so I like 'em automatically.
Another hot tip: another new band I liked! Name: Comb-Over. Have to call it sarcastic pop for lack of a better description. Very catchy tunes, very funny at times. They sort of have a shtick but it's a very good one. They were opening for those immortal garage-Godzillas: Girl Trouble, Tacoma, Washington's gift to Northwest rock history. GT has been around for, yeesh, 13 or 14 years now, and it was nice to see 'em still doin' it. Their greatest record in my opinion, for those who are curious, came out a few years back, titled New American Shame... it's their most recent record but I think they are working on some new stuff. They also put out an excellent 'zine called Wig Out.
Opening for both at this show was Crime Family, featuring both the songwriter/players who masterminded (if that is the right word) the band Swallow oh those many moons ago: Chris "Creep" Pugh and Rod "Deranged Diction/Spike" Moody. What a difference a few years and a better rhythm section makes. We're recording right now, and it's sounding pretty good.
Recently had another Brazilian band take my suggestion to "come to Seattle and record cheap". In Brazil, there's the expensive "mothership" studios (complete with armed guard!) and then there's the two-ADATs-in-a-basement type studios; not much in between. Babá Cosmica flew up here with some tapes and had me mix 'em down at Hanzsek Audio, quick and dirty, with excellent results. Strange, but sometimes I enjoy mixing other people's stuff more than my own; likely because I avoid being worn down by the recording process.
By the way, the mighty Tad Doyle now has a personal web page, at
http://members.aol.com/TDoyle8288/index.html.taddoyle.com. Check it out.
Still crazy here but settling down. Just spent some time at Hanzsek Audio going thru everything the band Dickless ever recorded. Of course you all know that in their illustrious history ('88-'90) they only released 4 songs; well, there's plenty more where those came from, even one with guest vocals from a certain Mrs. "Marcia Arm". Up Records is going to be issuing their, uh, complete works on CD. About goddamn time. I remixed a couple of forgotten oldies, and compiled the rest from a variety of sources. This continues the current "punk rock" streak around here...
A Ten Minute Warning website has appeared already, and the record's not even out yet!
Other news: C/Z will be releasing a new [final] Love Battery record, and Mark Lanegan has reportedly FINISHED his long-aborning 3rd solo album. Mike Johnson plays on it, and so does Paul Solger from Ten Minute Warning; I forget who else. Can't wait to hear it, don't know the release date, but it will be Sub Pop. In my future: a Murder City Devils record for Sub Pop! And another AIN'T record in April... Still more punk rock! When will it stop?
Whew... It's been crazy around here. Finished the Makers' new album; great band, should be out on Estrus in April or May. Probably one of the best bands I've worked with in a long while... a "garage" band on the surface, but way more underneath. The record covers a lot of new territory for the band, but they pulled it off with some very tasty singing/playing, and oh yeah, it rocks too... Definitely the least "lo-fi" of their recordings to date, but they assured me they had never WANTED to be known as a lo fi band, it was just a product of past time/money constraints. (Unlike some other pretentious posers in this neighborhood. To quote rock critic Dawn Anderson, "striving for authenticity" is an oxymoron) We took eight days, as much time as it took in TOTAL for them to make their previous four records! (Ooh, the big sellout!)
It's official, Gruntruck has broken up. Guitarist Tom Niemeyer and Bassist Tim Paul already have a new project, Lye, with a 4-song EP out on FT Records.
Just finished an EP for an up-and-coming Seattle band called Bell, including singer Vanessa Veselka, and guitarist Damon Romero (formerly of Oly-Wa band Treehouse). They are releasing it through their own label, Yeah It's Rock. This record needs to be heard. It will be called "Perfect Math", though math-rock it ain't.
Upcoming projects: Seattle band Crime Family, featuring some Seattle stalwarts who've been out of action for a while: Rod Moody and Chris Pugh of seminal Sub Poppers Swallow. Zipgun has also threatened to do a reunion single. The Zeke record should be out on Epitaph in April.