When Smegma first formed—I’m referring here to the avant garde improvisational free music noise group, not that other stuff—in Pasadena, California in 1973, the collective’s membership came together in the back room of the Poo-Bah record store. The Poo-Bah was located in a basement next door to a sleazy porno theatre and the owner encouraged some of the shop’s patrons (who coalesced around a shared love of Zappa, Beefheart and the Residents) to utilize his space. The Poo-Bah later merged with the Los Angeles Free Music Society or L.A.F.M.S., a parallel group of local freaks into the same things, to release records, cassettes, newsletters and a fanzine, and to promote live events and art happenings, including those of Smegma.
Smegma’s cast of characters took on goofy pre-punk pseudonyms such as “Ju Suk Reet Meate,” “Dennis Duck,” “Cheez-It Ritz,” “Amazon Bambi,” “Chucko Fats,” “Pizza Rioux,” “Iso,” “Dr. Id,” “Dr.Odd,” “Foon,” “Ace Farren Ford,” “Electric Bill,” “Borneo Jimmy,” “Burned Mind,” “Oblivia,” “Victor Sparks,” and “Harry Cess Poole” and members overlapped with L.A.F.M.S. which might be considered the loose umbrella organization representing a scene of freaky people who were into making freaky head music. Their sound incorporated tapes, free jazz, power electronics, the Ventures, drones, proto-Plunderphonics tape loops and encouraged inspired amateurism rather than musical prowess. “NO HIPPIE MUSIC” was their guiding motto. Their disgusting name is a pisstake on le nom de French prog-rockers Magma. It should come as no surprise that Smegma were included on the infamous “Nurse with Wound list.”
In 1975, Smegma’s loose center of operations moved to Portland, Oregon where they became an important part of that city’s musical history even if most of that burg’s residents were and are still blissfully unaware of this fact. Over the decades they’ve recorded with noted oddballs like Frank Zappa discovery Wild Man Fischer, Boyd Rice, and Japanese noise prankster Merzbow (on the dual release Smegma Plays Merzbow/Merzbow Plays Smegma.) During the late 1990s, the noted pioneer rock scribe and literary cult figure Richard Meltzer served as the group’s lyricist and frontman.
More Smegma after the jump…