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Riot Grrrl: Allison Wolfe of Bratmobile talks about zines, feminism and her new band, Sex Stains

Allison Wolfe
Photo by Connor Collins
 
Allison Wolfe, iconic 90s riot grrrl and Bratmobile member hasn’t stopped playing music since their break up in the early 2000s. In fact, she has gone on to be in several other bands such as Cold Cold Hearts, Partyline, Deep Lust, Cool Moms and most recently Sex Stains (whose debut album comes out September 2nd.)

I chatted with Wolfe about her new band as well as zines, Bratmobile, being a 90s female musician and an inspirational feminist.
 
Girl Germs
 
Before Allison Wolfe and Molly Neuman started Bratmobile, they had a riot grrrl fanzine called Girl Germs:

“Molly and I met in the dorms at the University of Oregon. We weren’t in the same room but we shared a wall and we would knock on the walls. We became best friends and started plotting to do all of these things. We were fairly young girls who were getting politicized who wanted to have a voice and participate. We really wanted to have a girl programmed radio show but it turned out that the University of Oregon didn’t have a college radio so I think Tobi Vail encouraged us to do a fanzine. We started the fanzine before we started playing music or did the band. It was a good way to have a voice when we didn’t have any other means at the time. We didn’t really know what we were doing but it was fun. Our first issue had an interview with Calamity Jane. It had scene reports and a lot of it was a reaction to grunge which had completely taken over the Northwest and was too male dominated. We wanted to have a girly voice.”

 
Bratmobile
 
From there they began travelling to Olympia often to hang out. “We were a band in theory. We had been travelling up to Olympia on weekends and telling everyone we were in a band called Bratmobile.”

Calvin Johnson called them and told them he had set up a show for Valentine’s Day 1991 and wanted them to play with Bikini Kill. At this point they were not truly a band so they had to scramble to get songs together. “We went to our friend Robert Christie and were like ‘What do we do?’ He loaned us his practice space and let us use their equipment and but we didn’t know how to write songs. He said to listen to a bunch of Ramones records but I thought if all bands listen to the Ramones in order to start bands then I wouldn’t and I vowed to never listen to them which isn’t exactly accurate but I never owned any Ramones records or listened to them that much.”

Allison said she listen to a lot of female rap and hip hop before the band started such as Salt n’ Pepa, Yo Yo, Bytches with Problems, TLC and others. “That was a big influence on us, all these really awesome, kinda goofy but politicized women in rap and hip hop that weren’t commercialized yet. It was more politicized. They had messages that were pretty important. Also, the first Batman movie had come out and Prince did the soundtrack and the Batmobile was an influence on us naming the band Bratmobile.” Their first show, which was just her and Molly at the time, was pretty much a capella. “There was a little bit of guitar and drums going on but not much… We jumped off stage and Kurt Cobain walked in right then and I walked up to him and said ‘You missed us!’ and handed him one of our fanzines.”
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Izzi Krombholz | Leave a comment
Attention rock snobs: New Holy Sons single will burrow its way into your brain like an earworm
08.23.2016
11:37 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Andrew Loog Oldham
Emil Amos
Holy Sons
Del Shannon


Photo of Emil Amos by Eliza Sohn

I’ve probably played this new Holy Sons’ track, “It’s My Feeling”—a stunning cover of a song originally recorded in 1967 by the great Del Shannon and produced by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham—about 600 times since I first heard it last week. About 300 of these plays were in my head.

And so I must duly warn you: Unless you want to have an absolutely gorgeous, shimmering pop song take up residency between your ears, stop what you are doing now and click off the page. Just fuck off now, okay?

If you’re still with me, Holy Sons is the one-man band project of Emil Amos (who also plays with Om, Lilacs and Champagne and Grails) and “It’s My Feeling” is the lead off single from his upcoming album In The Garden which comes out on October 21st on the Partisan Records label. In The Garden was produced by John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile, Phosphorescent, Sonic Youth) with the aim of adopting “the authentic mindset of a 60s era artist.”

Amos explains:

In The Garden is essentially John Agnello and I carving out the sound of a classic 70’s record if it had been made by a band with all its players being very focused in the hey-day of their career… but we ‘faked’ that vibe using one player. That’s basically how I learned 4-tracking in the 90’s… how to replicate live-sounding recordings where a band is reacting and playing off of each other in real-time.”

This is something Amos can do frighteningly well. If you didn’t already know it was the same guy, multitracked, playing everything, there’s no way you could tell this from listening.

The original “It’s My Feeling” was recorded by Del Shannon in London with musicians assembled by Andrew Loog Oldham that included stellar session pros like John Paul Jones, Nicky Hopkins and Jimmy Page. It was written by Dave Skinner and Andrew Rose, a Peter and Gordon-esque songwriting and singing duo who went by the name of Twice as Much. Oldham’s Immediate Records signings P.P. Arnold and Madeline Bell provided backup vocals for Shannon. The Immediate sessions were shelved for many years before being remixed and coming out in the late 1970’s as And The Music Plays On. In 2006, nearly 40 years after they were recorded, Capitol Records would finally release the London sessions as Home & Away, the originally intended title.

I was already nuts about the original Del Shannon number, but have a listen to the Holy Sons’ version of “It’s My Feeling” –which I think is far superior and, to my ears, has elements reminiscent of both The Zombies and even John Barry. It’s crazy good stuff, but I’ll warn you: One listen and you’re going to be hearing this in your head for… weeks.

Listen to “It’s My Feeling” after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Raw Power’: The vintage ‘zine run by teens who took on rock & punk (and won) back in the mid-70s


The cover of Raw Power magazine featuring Iggy Pop, 1977.
 

“I’m gonna die anyway and I’d prefer it to be at my leisure.”

—Iggy Pop on his admission that he only planned to live “two more years” back in 1977 in an interview with Raw Power magazine

Founded by the sixteen-year-old duo of Scott Stephens (who wrote under the name “Quick Draw”) and Robert Olshever (aka “Bobalouie”) the LA-based ‘zine Raw Power got started in 1976 and almost immediately got the attention of major record labels who would give Stephens and Olshever an all access pass to rock and punk stars like Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, DEVO, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Van Halen, the Ramones and other musical luminaries that the average sixteen-year-old only got close to by way of their poster-covered bedroom walls.
 

The teenage masterminds behind Raw Power Magazine (L to R): Robert Olshever (Bobalouie), Scott Stephens (Quick Draw) and Murray Schwartz.
 
Joined later by Murray Schwartz (who would take photographs for the magazine) Raw Power would publish for about three years and routinely featured all the stuff you’d expect to find in a magazine that fused the worlds of rock and punk together like interviews, album reviews and that—according to an archive of the magazine run by Stephens—LOVED to publish unedited “letter to the editor” many of which were laced with obscenity. And here’s a rather mind-blowing revelation from Stephens which took place during an interview with Ozzy in 1979 right after Osbourne (who repeatedly “teared up” during the interview) had been given his walking papers by Black Sabbath. According to Stephens it was the boys of Raw Power who recommended pint-sized guitar virtuoso Randy Rhoads to Osbourne for his new band which at the time Ozz was considering calling “Son of Sabbath.”

Ozzy was quite depressed during this time but had recently met Sharon Arden and was in the process of putting together a new group that would eventually record “Blizzard of Ozz”. It was during this interview that members of Raw Power suggested to Ozzy that he consider auditioning a guitarist by the name of Randy Rhoads. Randy was the guitarist of Quiet Riot and Raw Power had interviewed them for a cover story for the 2nd issue in 1977. Shortly thereafter Ozzy auditioned Randy and hired him on the spot. The rest is history.

When the 2000 film by Cameron Crowe Almost Famous came out many of folks in the trio’s circle immediately thought that the flick was about them—which should help put some perspective on how much of an impact Raw Power made in its short run despite its humble design and young founders. As I mentioned Stephens runs an archive for Raw Power where you can read through three issues in full, which I did and I can’t lie—it was a blast. I’ve posted a few images from the magazine as well as some fantastic vintage photos of Stephens and his cohorts cavorting with the likes of Ronnie James Dio, Iggy Pop, Geezer Butler and Ozzy among others. Raw Power was also one of the only publications to have the opportunity to get some great live shots of Van Halen (taken by Murray Schwartz) while they were still performing in the LA club scene back in 1977. These had never been seen outside of the magazine until they were posted over at the Van Halen News Desk in 2014.
 

Scott Stephens of Raw Power Magazine with Iggy Pop, 1977.
 

Stephens with Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath.
 
More ‘Raw Power’ after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Three words: Drum. Crotch. Pants.
08.23.2016
09:39 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Science/Tech

Tags:
electric sexy drum pants


 
“Single Stroke Roll,” “Flam Paradiddle,” and “Swiss Army Triplets” are among the names of percussion rudiments that could pass for sexual acts, but Japanese multimedia artist and experimental pop music composer Kaoring Machine has answered the question: why can’t they be both? He’s crafted a pair of “Electric Sexy Drum Pants” with a synth drum trigger for a crotch, and a few days ago uploaded a demonstration video, which is amusing as all hell despite sorely lacking any overtly suggestive moves involving mallets or kick pedals. Still, given the possibilities, of course we want these. Perhaps one could combine them with those Converse high-tops with built-in wah pedals and this theremin bra to form the most physically awkward one-person band ever.
 

 
Many thanks to Sarah Lee for this find!

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Dolled Up: Bizarre fashion photos of Marianne Faithfull as a toy doll
08.23.2016
08:53 am

Topics:
Art
Fashion
Music
Politics
Sex

Tags:
Marianne Faithfull


 
It was the unveiling of Pitchfork’s Top 200 songs of the 1970s yesterday that got me thinking about Marianne Faithfull. Pitchfork happened to position Faithfull’s “Broken English” in the final slot, #200, and when I dialed up Jamieson Cox‘s highly helpful Spotify playlist of the Pitchfork 1970s singles, it turned out that “Broken English” was the first song I listened to.

And what a song! I couldn’t get it out of my head all day, mentally positioning it alongside Peter Gabriel’s “Games Without Frontiers” and Nena’s “99 Luftballons” as the deathless post-punk Cold War anthems. The song drew me to investigate her 1979 album of the same name as well as her rich career before that.

At some point I stumbled on a picture of Faithfull in a French fashion magazine called Mademoiselle Age Tendre, and eventually I found these strange pictures of Faithfull literally “dolled up,” posing as a kind of real-life Barbie doll being taken out of its box. The date is hard to read on this magazine cover, but it appears to be January 1967:
 

 
So, yeah, it’s a cute idea for a shoot and all, certainly an innocent idea, and one might argue that we shouldn’t be too hard on the magazine personnel of that era, impose our perception of gender equality on them, who could not know better and all that. But you know what? Naaah. We don’t have to crucify the people behind that shoot to point out that some ideas date well and others do not, and objectifying women is a pervasive problem in our society that is always best avoided. The pictures may not have played as creepy then, but they play as creepy today.
 

 
By the way, above you can see a picture of Faithfull from 1979, the year she released Broken English. Note the absence of a box for her to come out of.
 

 

 

 
More of these odd pics after the jump…...
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Pulp’s witty program for the ‘His ‘n’ Hers’ tour
08.22.2016
12:42 pm

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
Pulp


 
It’s an oversimplification to say that Pulp hit the big time in 1995, but it will always seem to be so because of the international success of the album Different Class and especially the single “Common People,” frequently cited as one of the decade’s best songs (in 2010, for instance, Pitchfork somewhat perversely placed it at #2 behind Pavement’s “Gold Soundz”). But by that time Jarvis and Co. had been slugging it out for in excess of 15 years, with four albums and who knows how many gigs on its ledger. Just a year earlier, His ‘n’ Hers made a significant splash, reaching #9 on the U.K. charts and narrowly failing to outpace Elegant Slumming by M People (right, them) for the 1994 Mercury Music Prize (weirdly, Different Class wasn’t even nominated for 1995).

In other words, if Different Class was Pulp’s Thriller, then His ‘n’ Hers was its Off the Wall. Now Pulp has never been quick to bless the United States with a surplus of live dates, but they did support His ‘n’ Hers with eight North American dates in 1994 opening for Blur, who were in the middle of a genre-defining apotheosis all their own, although still a year away from a hugely overhyped feud with some Manchester band whose name I cannot currently recall.

That was in fact Pulp’s first foray into North America, and those residents of Boston, Atlanta, New Orleans, etc., who made it to the gigs were treated with an opportunity to purchase a Pulp tour program spanning 100 pages positively bursting with clever-clever content of a certain kind.

I’ll let you peruse some of the pages below, but not before presenting this typical .... well, let’s call it a “blurb,” which is credited to Melody Maker (the original list, which was actually a a review of a Paris gig, was originally quite a bit longer and was written by David Bennun).
 

HEREWITH SOME REASONS TO LOVE PULP:

A. Pulp understand the minutiae of our dreary little lives.
B. “Babies” sounds like kinky sex doom disco.
C. Pulp are unique and brilliant. This is almost unheard of.
D. Jarvis Cocker is a truly bizarre frontman.
E. Pulp are a very good live band.
F. Pulp are a very good live band.
G. Jarvis writes lyrics like “Hey! You in the jesus sandals, would you like to come over and watch some vandals smashing up someone’s home?”
H. That’s enough.

 
The lyric quoted in G are from “Joyriders,” the first track of His ‘n’ Hers. Plenty of similar wit to be found below, especially in the “Catchphrases” slot.
 
See scans from the program, right after the jump…...
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Posers’: Vintage doc takes a stroll down the King’s Rd. looking for New Romantics, 1981

01visblit1.jpg
The Blitz Club where the Eighties were invented.
 
Punk was boring. Punk was dead. Punk stopped being interesting when it became chart music. In its place came New Wave—which was really just more of the same played with jangly guitars by bands with a taste for Sixties music. The next really big thing was the utter antithesis of punk. Elitist, pretentious, preening, vain, camp yet utterly inventive.

It was called “the cult with no name”—because nobody knew what to call it. It didn’t fit any easy categorization. There were soul boys, punks, rockabillies, with a taste for dance music and electronica all in the mix. It was the press who eventually pitched up with the tag New Romantics which stuck.

I was never quite sure what was supposed to be romantic about the New Romantics. They weren’t starving in garrets or brokenhearted, writing poetry, indulging in absinthe or committing suicide by the dozen. They were all dolled-up to the nines, flaunting it out on the streets—demanding to be seen.

It had all started with Rusty Egan and Steve Strange running a club night playing Bowie, Roxy Music and Kraftwerk at a venue called Billy’s in 1978.

Egan was a drummer and DJ. He was in a band with ex-Sex Pistol Glen Matlock called Rich Kids which featured Midge Ure on vocals.
       
Strange had been inspired to move to London and form a punk band after he saw the Sex Pistols in concert. He moved out of Wales and formed The Moors Murderers. The band included punk icon Soo Catwoman, guitarist Chrissie Hynde and Clash drummer Topper Headon. Together they recorded one notorious single “Free Hindley.”

The same year, Egan, Strange and Ure formed Visage—which was to become a catalyst for the New Romantics in 1980 with their hit single “Fade to Grey.”
 
02vistrio2.jpg
Visage: Steve Strange, Midge Ure and Rusty Egan in 1978.
 
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, so let’s be kind and rewind.

1978: Egan and Strange move their club night to a wine bar-cum-restaurant-cum-dance-club called the Blitz. Egan was the DJ. Strange was on the door. Strange has a strict door policy. No one gets in unless they dressed like superstars.

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The best worst metal song you’re gonna hear today
08.22.2016
09:02 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music

Tags:


 
I had to think twice about posting this Maelstrom Vale song because it’s kinda like shooting fish in a barrel to hold a video like this up for mockery—it’s just too easy, and I’m not really that mean.

I reconsidered, though, when I realized that I actually sort of love this track and its accompanying video clip, and I think some of our readers might also get the same sort of perverse enjoyment out of it. I love this in the same way that I love The Shaggs or Wesley Willis, or the movies Dangerous Men or The Room—it’s not because the product is simply out-and-out laughably bad, but because its heart is in the right place and it’s rather charming in it’s ineptitude.

Bless their hearts, they’re trying.

One thing I can say for the “Doomed Traveler” video here is that I’ve watched this thing about ten times, which is about 9.5 times more than I watch most YouTube videos of new metal bands. There’s something to be said for making something interesting over something technically proficient. And this video is, if nothing else, interesting.

At times when watching you may ask yourself “can this possibly be for real?”—and the answer is “yes,” Maelstrom Vale is a “real” band (from Canada, if that counts as “real”). Here’s their Facebook page.

Count here with me, the most epic moments of “Doomed Traveler”:

0:05 First off, let’s consider this double-bass. It’s the foundation of everything wrong/right with the track.

0:14 The “foreboding” spoken intro.

0:20 Almost nails that guitar lick.

0:43 Death hanging out at the Metal dumpster. It’s a metaphor for the song itself.

1:00 The bass player’s “melodic” vocals.

1:27 Turn to the left, turn to the right!

2:15 This guy again.

2:25 Chocolate-milk-mustache dirtbag pleads with death near the fuse-box at the warehouse where someone in the band obviously works.

2:41 That head-bob.

3:05 Holmes is straight up channeling Greg Ginn here.

3:31 The bass player gets a bit worn out, needs a break.

4:10 Dual vocal attack!

4:44 “THE LIES!”

5:06 P.S.A. from Maelstrom Vale.

After the jump, the best worst metal song you’ll hear all day…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Van Halen wanted to crush a Volkswagen Beetle with a tank in 1979… just to piss off Aerosmith
08.22.2016
08:59 am

Topics:
Amusing
Heroes
Music

Tags:
1970s
Van Halen
Aerosmith


Van Halen on top of a Sherman tank at the CaliFFornia World Music Festival in LA, 1979.
 
Today’s rock and roll history lesson comes courtesy of David Lee Roth’s highly entertaining 2000 autobiography Crazy From the Heat in which DLR recalls the details about the time VH rented a Sherman tank so they could destroy a vintage VW Bug—all to spite Aerosmith. According to Roth the occasion would mark the last time that he would ever speak to Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and the rest of the boys in Aerosmith. Say what you want about Aerosmith but if you’ve got Boston blood flowing through your veins then you also know how to hold a wicked long-term grudge, pal.
 

Van Halen at the CaliFFornia World Music Festival, 1979.
 
The story goes that back in 1979 were a part of the CaliFFornia World Music Festival held at the LA Coliseum and on the second night of the two-day festival Van Halen was co-headlining the gig with Aerosmith—who would to on to temporarly implode six-months later after the release of their sixth record Night in the Ruts (or as we called it back in the day in Boston “Right in the Nuts”). In an effort to one-up Aerosmith, the troublemakers in Van Halen cooked up a plan that involved renting a Sherman tank from a local Hollywood prop shop and the purchase of a couple of yellow VW Beetles. The idea was that announcements made over the Coliseum’s PA system would lay the groundwork for folks to think that one of the members of Aerosmith parked the Bug illegally and were asking for it to be moved. The “punchline” in all this excessive craziness was that the tank would roll out just as Van Halen took the stage, crushing the Bug to bits. Sadly someone in VH’s camp must have been a Boston native because Aerosmith caught wind of Van Halen’s shenanigans and had already come up with a plan of their own to one-up the tank gag and VH aborted their awesome caper.

Since Van Halen does not fuck around when it comes to fucking around they actually tested out the prank by having a hired driver roll the tank down some stairs over one of the yellow Beetles which sent debris hurtling in all directions including one of the doors that Roth still has in his massive collection of Van Halen related artifacts. Luckily a few images of the mighty VH riding on top of the tank and Roth taking a swipe at the pile of rubble that was formerly a VW bug like the charming ringmaster of mayhem that he is exist which I’ve posted below. In my mind if VH had actually pulled this one off the already dangerously drug-addled Aerosmith might have called it a day right then and there and we never would have had to endure the shambolic record that is Night in the Ruts (full disclosure—I love that record and I welcome your hate mail). I’ve included some other photos taken at the festival like the little people security detail “employed” by Van Halen and a few other gems that will make you wish you were there yourself (though I’m sure that at least a few of our DM readers probably were).
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Turn your favorite concert ticket stub into a floor mat
08.22.2016
07:50 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music

Tags:
home decor
ticket stub


 
You know all those concert ticket stubs you’ve held onto for so many years? (I’ve got a pretty big collection myself and didn’t really know what to do with them.) Well now you can walk all over your concert-going memories with these personalized ticket stub floor mats. The Internet has everything, right?

You can create these one-of-kind floor mats through Lakeside Photo Works. Depending on size, each mat averages around $34. According to the website, the best way to ensure quality of your mat is to mail in your ticket stub. Apparently your ticket stub will be mailed back to you once your mat is completed. 

Now get to it and start wiping your dirty shoes all over your treasured Gun Club or Gang of Four ticket stub!


 
via Das Kraftfuttermischwerk

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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