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Patti Smith interviews David Lynch
11.22.2014
07:30 am

Topics:
Movies
Punk
Television

Tags:
Patti Smith
David Lynch

psdl123.jpg
 
Though I’m sure your thoughts are probably on higher things than mine, I couldn’t help but consider the benefits of hair dye while watching this interview between Patti Smith and David Lynch. Is there a point when life can be enhanced by a teeny drop of Nice ‘n’ Easy? I was a tad surprised this question wasn’t raised during the interview, however, Ms. Smith and Mr. Lynch did share their thoughts about singer Bobby Vinton and the film Blue Velvet, the series Twin Peaks (which Smith claims “reconnected [her] to the world and art”) and the feminist band Pussy Riot, of which Ms. Smith says:

These girls did something absolutely original. As even a mother or a grandmother, they are in my prayers.

The interview is taken from the “Encounters” strand of BBC’s “flagship” news and current affairs program Newsnight,  in which two notable people interview each other about issues relating to their work. If you’re a fan of either Ms. Smith or Mr. Lynch, you will surely enjoy this.
 

 
H/T NME

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Punish or be damned: LA punk legends The Screamers live at the Whisky A Go Go, 1979
11.20.2014
07:48 am

Topics:
Punk

Tags:
Screamers


Gary Panter’s iconic Screamers logo
 
High-quality recordings of the Screamers, the legendary LA synthpunk band fronted by the late Tomata du Plenty, have always been elusive—the band’s entire audio legacy consists of demos and live recordings. So this crisp, color, clear-sounding video of the Screamers’ May 1979 engagement at the Whisky a Go Go is a real treat.
 

 
By this point in the Screamers’ career, the band was working with director Rene Daalder, who shot the Whisky shows. Part of the reason the Screamers never recorded an album is that Daalder convinced the band to forget about the LP format and make a “video record” instead. Of course, they never got around to doing that, either. Drummer K.K. Barrett, keyboardist Paul Roessler (the brother of Black Flag bassist Kira Roessler) and Daalder provide a bit of context in the L.A. punk oral history We Got the Neutron Bomb:

K.K. BARRETT: Following a nine-month hiatus the Screamers returned to the Whisky in May ‘79 for six sold-out shows over three nights. We augmented the regular lineup, which now included Paul Roessler on keyboards, with two violinists and a backup singer named Sheila Edwards, sometimes known as Sheila Drusela.

PAUL ROESSLER: [The Screamers] thought they’d never really be able to capture the experience of the Screamers just with recordings. They wanted to do film and video years before MTV. They hooked up with Rene Daalder, but in the process it broke up the group, after he tried to turn it into something that was no longer a rock band.

RENE DAALDER: We were assembling a sort of repertory company that would become the cast for the movie Mensch, which would take place in a Cabinet of Dr. Caligari-like German expressionist setting. Musically it was going to be a reinterpretation of the original Screamers material. The cast would be the Screamers, Penelope Houston of the Avengers, and many other stalwarts of the punk scene, as well as Beck’s grandfather, Fluxus artist Al Hansen. As we were waiting for everything to come together I directed a bunch of videos art-directed with great economic resourcefulness by K.K. We didn’t have the financing for the movie, so we were reduced to shooting scenes on and off. It seemed high time to do some live shows again after a nine-month hiatus.

 

 

Tomata and Sheila kiss during “I Wanna Hurt”
 
The Screamers gradually disintegrated over the next few years while Daalder directed du Plenty in the ill-fated movie Population: 1, not a project beloved of the surviving Screamers (Roessler: “It’s retarded”).
 

“I Wanna Hurt”
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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Joan Jett and The Jam’s Paul Weller talk New Wave on ‘The Tomorrow Show,’ 1977


 
In October of 1977, Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow Show hosted one of US media’s early attempts at a thoughtful discussion of the then-new phenomena of punk and New Wave. Disappointingly, but still understandably, the discussion mostly features establishment figures, whose basic understanding of what was actually even happening varied wildly. Legendary concert promoter Bill Graham, perhaps unsurprisingly, doesn’t get it at all. He’s here representing the old guard, and all his knowledge of the new noise appears to derive from sensationalistic rumor, though at least he admits to limited first-hand knowledge. (At one point he talks about bands burning Stars of David and wearing KKK uniforms. Wuuuuuuuut?) Also unsurprisingly, LA Times music writer Robert Hilburn offers some of the most thoughtful and informed comments. The Runaways’ producer Kim Fowley is obviously approaching the discussion from a knowledgeable position, but he clowns around and snarks incessantly—he claims to see the trend-orientation of the discussion as a farce that diverts attention from the artistry of the bands and their music, but he’s hardly one to talk about that, now, is he? Though his remarks are often too insidery to actually be informative to the civilians watching this, at least he knows what makes for good TV.

B+ for effort, seriously, but it’s all pretty dry and speculative until the real marquee names arrive. You can see the beginnings of the discussion on YouTube in three parts (1) (2) (3), but it was really only once the RunawaysJoan Jett and the Jam’s Paul Weller joined the conversation that things got significantly more interesting and relevant. It’s one thing to hear oldsters blather on about music they’d never even heard (to his credit, Snyder came around to a deeper understanding of the stuff), and another to hear about the music from the people making it. And amusingly, after Jett and Weller started talking, everyone else’s comments improved. It’s a good deal harder to throw around bullshit about swastikas and self-mutilation when you’re talking face-to-face with thoughtful artists who defy the stereotypes you’ve been fed. Watch it here, it’s good stuff.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Clash manager Bernie Rhodes seeks young ‘Reb Rockers’ through his very ugly website
11.18.2014
06:52 am

Topics:
Punk

Tags:
the Clash
Bernie Rhodes


Bernie Rhodes, Clash manager
 
If you’re a Clash fan who has 20 minutes to kill, check out the website of their former manager, Bernie Rhodes. It promises “Punk, pop philosophy, interesting stories, rare music and debate,” and delivers post-Situationist rants about the economic crisis, revisionist accounts of the punk years (“Many years ago under similar circumstances, I formed the Sex Pistols/Clash etc”), and a seriously busted web design that is a joy to behold. I think the reason the average page uses about thirty different fonts in about forty different colors is that it’s supposed to approximate Jamie Reid’s ransom-note typography, but what do I know? Rhodes says the site’s design is old-fashioned punk social realism: “So if it doesn’t flicker*flash*fast*, following the latest glitzy graphics, it’s as real life!” Wake up and smell the sans serif, you glitz-guzzling poseur!
 

 
In the “Did You Know” section, you’ll find a full-throated defense of the Clash’s almost universally despised final album, Cut the Crap:

1985’s “Cut The Crap” was the final album The Clash released. At the time the album received harsh reviews and the album sold less than expected. The original reviews are still remembered, and since relatively few people have actually heard the album, “Cut The Crap” has been unjustly neglected. This is, in fact, a solid punk masterpiece. It is what it was intended to be: an all-out return to the punk ethic that the band had recently been straying from. They perform with a raw aggression tempered with progressive musical growth; this is definitely a great band at work. The songs are all brilliant, addressing the political issues of the day exclusively (almost; a few copies of this have included their raucous, dirty cover of ‘Louie Louie’).

On the homepage, there’s a short URL reproduced as a graphic, so you have to type it into your browser.
 

 
This takes you to the single video YouTube user “Frank Fresh” has uploaded, a totally blown-out recording of the Clash’s “This Is England” overlaid with samples of Joe Strummer praising Rhodes. “I think it was good luck to meet Bernie, the best bit of luck I ever had,” Strummer says; this particular sample is repeated twice, in case you missed the point. Mr. Fresh uploaded this video yesterday (November 17).
 

A not-quite-subliminal message flashes toward the end of the video’s montage of council estates, Clash photos, pirate ships, motorcycles, and English celebrities:
 

 
Ouch. But the real scoop is that Rhodes is (I think) scouting fresh new talent! Alas, I am too old to take advantage of this exciting offer, but younger Dangerous Minds readers who have hot demo tapes and experienced lawyers on retainer might want to join Rhodes’ “Young Rockers Club.” He doesn’t promise fame or fortune, but how could he possibly pay worse than Spotify? If that’s even what this means?
 

 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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Listen to Fugazi’s 11 original demo tracks, four days ahead of time
11.14.2014
01:08 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Fugazi
Dischord


This is the handbill for Fugazi’s first-ever show, at the Wilson Center, on 15th Street and Irving. “5 Dollars to Benefit Positive Force Compilation Records”—do you think they knew then how sick they’d get of hearing the phrase “five dollar show”?
 
The demos that the legendary DC punks Fugazi cut at Inner Ear Studio in January 1988 have led a fan-friendly, DIY existence as a tape distributed for free at shows, but with the exception of a single song, “In Defense of Humans,” which appeared on the State of the Union comp in 1989, they’ve never seen an official release. Inner Ear Studios got a bit of extra exposure last month when the D.C. episode of Sonic Highways came on HBO. Dave Grohl visited Don Zientara, owner of Inner Ear Studio, as well as Ian Mackaye of Fugazi and Dr. Know and Darryl Jenifer of Bad Brains.
 

 
That all changes on November 18, when Discord releases First Demo, but you can listen to them right this minute on Dischord’s Grooveshark account. (Actually, “Turn Off Your Guns” wasn’t included on the original cassette, but the rest of them all were.)
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘Jesus died for somebody’s sins’: Patti Smith invited to perform at Vatican Christmas concert!
11.14.2014
10:13 am

Topics:
Belief
Current Events
Music
Punk

Tags:
Patti Smith
Pope Francis


...in excelsis deo

You have to commend Pope Francis for his good taste in music—it’s been announced that Patti Smith is slated to perform at the Vatican Christmas Concert in Rome—but you have to wonder if he’s ever heard The Patti Smith Group’s cover of “Gloria”?

You read that right, the poet/singer who shocked an entire nation nearly forty years ago singing “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine” on Saturday Night Live back in 1976 was asked to take part in the festivities at the Auditorium Conciliazione on December 13th after Pope Francis personally invited her, according to The International Business Times.

Obviously Smith, who shook hands with the Pontiff at St. Peter’s Square last April, is an odd choice of performer for the Catholic Church to make and already certain groups are up in arms about it.

The Holy See’s announcement of Smith’s participation comes as one Catholic group is trying to ban “blasphemous” Smith from playing a gig at the Basilica of San Giovanni Maggiore in Naples set for four days prior to the Vatican concert.

The entire event is set to be broadcast live on TV.

Below, Smith on SNL in 1976. I saw this as it went down on live TV when I was ten years old. It might not seem as shocking now, but back then it was absolutely inconceivable that someone would do or say something like this on television. The date was April 17, 1976 and since Smith didn’t go on until after midnight, this meant that she technically sang this on Easter Sunday!
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Knockin’ ‘Em Down in the City’: Iggy Pop rocks the Cleveland local news, 1979


 
Not sure how or why this happened, glad it did: Cleveland-by-god-Ohio’s blandly caucasoid time-filler news magazine show Afternoon Exchange visited Iggy Pop during his rehearsal/soundcheck at the Agora Ballroom one day in November of 1979. Iggy’s touring band that year featured founding Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock and guitarist Brian James in-between his stints in the Damned and Lords of the New Church. Further name-drop action: the video was posted by Zero Defex bassist turned Zen Master (I’m not kidding) Brad Warner.

This all-star band performed “Knockin’ ‘Em Down in the City” from the then-forthcoming LP Soldier. Iggy being Iggy, he put on a full show for the local news cameras to benefit an afternoon audience of homemakers, unemployed, and shut-ins, all of whom surely changed their plans for that evening to come out for the concert. Iggy also gracefully endured the goofily clue-deprived questions from milquetoasty interviewer Bob “The Real Bob James” Pondillo, whose enthusiasm is appreciated, but seriously, safety pins in the cheeks? It’s amazing that so many suburban normals seemed to think that kind of thing was standard practice. And how weird is it that he couldn’t name-check the Dead Boys or Pere Ubu, but he knew who the Lepers were?
 

 
Iggy’s performance after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Billy Idol says punk ‘didn’t make a dent in the political system’
11.12.2014
07:31 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Billy Idol


 
In an interview with The Big Issue, Billy Idol, punk rock’s biggest mainstream apostate, gave some blunt answers to questions about punk’s early days and its impact.

Was punk really the revolution it is supposed to have been or was it a natural evolution of what was going on at the time?
It did come in the form of a revolution but at the same time it was rock ‘n’ roll music forwarding itself into the new age. There was a lot of prog rock in the ’70s, which was cool and everything, but there became a glut and it was very difficult for anything else to break through. There were great guitar pieces but a dearth of songs.

Punk was not just about music though, was it also redefining politics and protest?
Punk rock opened the door to people like me – the marginalised. We got a chance to do something artistic with our lives. Everybody was exploring the artistic side partly because the Pistols said there is no future, there’s no future for you. That was a rallying call. That was the revolution.

The Pistols sang about there being no future, were they proved right?
I think they were to be honest. There was so much unrest. We believed in mixed communities and race mixing, not a country just for the white English. You got your head kicked in for it but that’s England sometimes! In some ways what’s going on now is reminiscent of those times.

So when you became famous and commercially successful, did you feel you had betrayed where you had come from?
Punk had done what it set out to do to a certain extent and it didn’t make a dent in the political system. Margaret Thatcher got in! That was scary. You went, “Fuck all that shouting, nothing happened!” It was demoralising. I didn’t see it as betraying anything at all. I saw it as moving on as an artist. I don’t think I did anything except follow my heart and that’s what punk was all about.

In his dismissal of punk’s political impact and his handwaving of sellout accusations, you kind of have to allow that the man has a point. Never mind what you think of his music, Thatcher DID get in. Thousands of “I Hate Reagan” bands made not even a tiny dent in Reagan’s horrifying 1984 landslide victory. And Fugazi, at last count, stopped ZERO wars, though Ian MacKaye’s brave anti t-shirt stance remains proudly unblemished. (No, it doesn’t.) It’s painful to allow this, but as populist music movements go, punk may think it has a lock on righteousness, but hippie was infinitely more effective in the realm of politics. Still, fuck hippies, though, don’t get me wrong…

There’s more to the interview. Not to spoil, but it turns out that “Dancing with Myself” actually was just about dancing. Far less surprisingly, Idol’s recently published memoir shares its title with that song.

Here’s a look at Idol when he sorta mattered some, as singer for Generation X. Marvel at the video editor’s complete disregard for synchronization!
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Murder By Guitar: San Francisco punk band Crime live at San Quentin prison, 1978
11.12.2014
07:21 am

Topics:
Crime
Punk

Tags:
Crime
San Quentin


A 2012 reproduction of Crime’s San Quentin flyer.
 
So if anyone has been looking for an index of how the world has changed since 1978, here’s one valuable piece of data. That Labor Day, the San Francisco punk band Crime played a show in San Quentin State Prison. The members of the band wore matching dark blue police uniforms, and as they played such originals as “Crime Wave,” “Piss on Your Dog” and “Rockabilly Drugstore,” inmates waved flyers that screamed “CRIME,” the band’s block-letter logo, above a drawing of a leather-clad dominatrix in a jail cell. I’m no expert, but I don’t think any festivities along these lines are planned for San Quentin this year. I bet they’re lucky if the warden lets them watch a rerun of The Voice.
 

 
How did this supremely unlikely event come to pass? Drummer Hank Rank told an interviewer from Amoeba Music a few years ago:

Contrary to popular perception, there were not many venues for early punk bands. Bill Graham publicly declared that he would never allow a punk band to play any of his venues, and many smaller clubs were scared by what they read about the goings-on at punk shows. That’s why we were open to the idea of Museums Without Walls that put art and music in unlikely places, so when we were contacted with the opportunity by Lynn Hershman (now Leeson), we jumped. We were the only punk band on the show that hot sunny day in the exercise yard at the Q, and neither the prisoners nor the guards knew what to make of us. The window of the cell where Sirhan Sirhan was in solitary was directly opposite where we played, and I’d like to think that our show was the worst punishment of his life.

 

 
Hank Rank and singer/guitarist Frankie Fix described the show in a contemporary interview with New York Rocker:

On Labor Day of this year, Crime entered San Quentin and performed for over 500 prisoners. “It was something we had wanted to do for a long time,” said Rank. “We knew we’d be playing for a crowd that was really into crime.”

As the prison gig approached, Crime almost got cold feet. “As it got closer,” said Rank, “things we were hearing got scarier. They said we couldn’t wear blue jeans or a work shirt ‘cause in the event of a riot, they wouldn’t want us to get shot, mistaken for prisoners. Then they told us about the no-hostage rule which is that if you’re taken hostage by a prisoner, they will not bargain for your life. If he says he’s going to kill you if they won’t let him out, they’ll say ‘Fine, kill this person. We don’t care. We’re not letting you out.’”

According to the band, the San Quentin gig was not their best. “It was in the daylight,” explained Fix, who rarely rises before 5 p.m.

“It was blazing heat,” said Rank, “and they had a little speaker for a PA. And imagine, you’re looking out there at a mass of 500 people and all I could see were crimes written on their faces: rape, murder, mutilation. All the disgusting side of humanity was sitting there looking at us.”

 

 
Gimme Something Better, an oral history of Bay Area punk, gives a few more details:

Hank Rank: There was sort of a demilitarized zone between the stage and the prisoners. There was a rope, and then the prisoners were all behind that. And they really divided right down the middle, blacks on one side and non-blacks on the other. When a black group would play, all of the non-blacks would stand up and move to the far side of the yard. When a non-black group would play, the exact opposite would happen. So when we hit the stage, they all got up and moved away [...] It was a tough crowd. They didn’t exactly get the music, and the guards up on the tower with their guns, looking down, shaking their heads. Nobody there knew what to make of us.

Joe Rees [of Target Video, who filmed the show]: Up on the walkway was a black female guard with a high-powered rifle. She had an afro, and it was bleached blond. You’d think that she was part of the show. Policemen performing the music. Inmates with their eyes hanging out. It was so bizarre.

Johnny Strike [singer/guitarist]: Frankie was so nervous, he was popping Valiums. By the time he hit the stage, I looked over at him and I was like, “Oh man. He’s totally out to lunch, he’s singing the wrong song.” Somehow we pulled it off.

Murder By Guitar 1976-1980, released last year, collects all of Crime’s original studio recordings. Superior Viaduct put the album out on vinyl and MP3 this summer.

According to at least one Crime discography, Target Video released the whole show on VHS, but YouTube only has this great clip of “Piss on Your Dog.”
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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When Iggy Pop was on ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’


 
In 1998 Iggy Pop guest-starred on an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as a Vorta overseer named “Yelgrun” from the planet Kurill Prime. Admittedly I never watched the Deep Space Nine series, but had I known back then that James Osterberg was going have a small role on it, I would have definitely tuned in.

Producer Ira Steven Behr was a massive Iggy fan and had always wanted him to be on the show. According to Memory Alpha:

...Behr made a point of visiting the set during production of the episode, which was something of a rarity due to his busy schedule. “For Iggy I would not be denied!” Behr joked. “I was a happy boy.” Similarly, Hans Beimler recalled, “Ira was thrilled! For cryin’ out loud, Iggy Pop has been a hero of his for years. I’ve heard about Iggy Pop since I’ve known him. I’ve seen Iggy Pop posters in his home. What can I say? The man was in heaven.”

Though he was excited to have Pop onboard for the episode, Behr did have concerns that the character perhaps wasn’t the best match for the singer, known for his wild stage presence. “I knew that the role was going to be tough for Iggy, because he’s a very kinetic performer”, Behr commented. “His physicality is certainly part of who he is, and unfortunately we cast him as a Vorta, one of the most immobile of characters.”

Behr declared that Pop was wonderful to work with and thought he nailed “...that demented quality the Vorta have, like Weyoun has-think Caligula! He was just a delight.”


Ira Steven Behr and Iggy Pop

Below, a video montage of Iggy’s most memorable scenes as “Yelgrun” from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “The Magnificent Ferengi.”

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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