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Just say GNOD: Fighting the Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine
04.10.2017
01:42 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Manchester
Punks
Noise
Experimental music
Gnod


 
Remember back to the heady days of December 2016 when the phrase “President Trump” still felt like a waking daydream as opposed to a crushing, numbing nightmarish reality?  When everyone’s favorite avant-garde whipping girl Amanda Palmer went on record as stating that “the Trump presidency will make punk rock great again”? You do?! Great! So where is all this awesome punk rock music, huh? Contrary to Ms. Palmer’s prediction, the re-flowering of great punk has been pretty thin on the ground so far. In all honesty, it seems like the only contemporary music genre willing to go on the record with outright “Fuck Trump” statements is hip-hop (which IS heartening if not particularly surprising.)

Well, fear ye not, as here come one of the UK’s premier noise-experimental-electronic-rock-whatever collective-cum-bands, Salford’s Gnod, who have just released their latest album, and boy, is that album’s title quite a statement! It’s called “Just Say No To The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine”. Let’s be honest, we’ll be hard pushed to find a better album title than that all year (never mind a political statement.) It’s not just the album’s title that lays it on the line: the music too is a blistering squall of white-hot intense noise that veers from claustrophobic soundscapes to straight-up punk aggression. It feels perfectly suited for those aggrieved at the state of the world just now.

Check out the album’s lead track “Bodies For Money” for a taste:
 

 
While the name Gnod might be new to many, the band have been plowing their own unique furrow in Manchester/Salford for a decade now, first coming together as an experimental jam collective, as founder member, guitarist and producer Chris Haslam explains:

“The first Gnod rehearsals were freeform jams that were recorded and listened back to, trying to come up with a set for our first gig at The Royal Oak in Chorlton on 21st March 2007. We decided in the end to just jam the gig out & invite anyone who wanted to join us onstage to jam along. The first few gigs carried on in this format, usually playing with around 10-16 people on stage. We recorded most of the shows and made CDRs of the recordings to sell at the next shows. Abstehen Der Ohren, Live: Birth, Lord Fears Dream, Bulletproof Awareness, Pixiedust & Gnod LP01 were all made during that first 6 or 7 months of Gnod.

At the time we were influenced by 70s krautrock bands like Can, Faust, Neu, Amon Duul, etc and also the ‘New Weird America’ bands, especially Sunburned Hand of the Man who we took a lot of ideas from of how to be a functional jam band. We liked the way Sunburned worked, making music without fixed lineups, a kind of communal project between a group of friends & interested contributors, handmaking CDRs and selling them at gigs, jamming with repetition as a means to transcend into the other. We were also watching & reading a lot of esoteric stuff at the time like the Zeitgeist films, Money Masters, David Icke, etc. Our interests overlapped in lots of areas, they still do.

Gnod also gives you a chance to branch out and explore other areas in the sound. There aren’t many other bands where you could just wake up one day & decide you’re going to play a new instrument at rehearsal. As long at it fits in with the vibe it’s all good. We also like going back to live drums & guitars too, especially for tours.”

The band are about to embark on a mammoth two-month tour (their biggest yet) which unfortunately for our readers in America doesn’t get to the States, but which does take in many major European cities (check out this post the on the band’s website In Gnod We Trust for dates and locations.) A gorgeous, super-limited vinyl edition of Just Say No… is available to buy from Rocket Records (see image below) and you can hear and buy lots more of the band’s music (including the digital release of Just Say No… ) at the Gnod Bandcamp page.

And as for that album title? What was the inspiration? Chris Haslam sums it up:

“Frustration at the selfish stupidity of humanity.”

A-fucking-men.
 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
The entire print run of classic punk Slash magazine is now online
07.06.2015
09:13 am

Topics:
Media
Music
Punk

Tags:
Punks
Slash
magazines


 
I have excellent news for the world. Ryan Richardson, one of the United States’ foremost collectors, archivists, and dealers of punk rock records and ephemera has given us a most welcomed gift.

Richardson has uploaded the entire print run of the classic L.A. punk magazine, Slash, to his website Circulationzero.com.

A true Internet saint, Richardson has previously blessed us with free online archives of Star magazine, Rock Scene magazine, and Fanzinefaves.com, a repository of various early punk zines. Richardson also hosts the exhaustive punk info blog Break My Face.

Unlike crucial, pioneering magazines such as Touch and Go and We Got Power!, which have recently gotten deluxe anthology treatments, Slash magazine has remained hidden from public view since its demise in 1980, save for the surviving copies in the hands of primordial punks and collectors with the scratch to afford valuable originals on eBay.

Richardson has collected the entire print run of 29 issues from 1977 to 1980.

The importance of Slash to the L.A. punk scene, and really to the worldwide punk scene in general, cannot be overstated.  The writing of Claude “Kickboy Face” Bessy, Jeffrey Lee Pierce, and Chris D. helped to define the attitude and outlook of the nascent subculture, while the imagery of illustrators Gary Panter and Mark Vallen established punk as an art movement working outside of—but in conjunction with—the music scene. Photographers like Ed Colver and Jenny Lens provided essential documentation of the era, making names for themselves producing some of the most important rock photography ever captured.
 

 
The layout design, graphics, and writing put Slash spiky-head-and-shoulders above most any other punk fanzine before or since. And in terms of being a historical record of a cultural time and place, this print run is priceless. We hope you have several hours to kill. You can download the entire archive right here or from Circulationzero.com.

The zip-file download of the complete run is free, but Richardson asks that those taking advantage make a charitable donation to Electronic Frontier Foundation, Doctors Without Borders or Austin Pets Alive. He has provided donation links on Circulationzero.com.

While you’re waiting on this large file to download, here’s a gallery of covers and pages included in the archive:
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Salad Days: A talk with the former fanzine kids behind the new 80s DC punk documentary
11.04.2014
09:43 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Punks
Washington DC

Salad Days
 
During the ten-year timespan that encapsulated the Reagan presidency and the emergence of Washington, D.C. as the nation’s murder capital, the1980s DC punk underground became a hotbed of incendiary youth activism. The 1980s saw the birth of Dischord Records and DC bands like Minor Threat, Beefeater, Fire Party, Soulside, Rites of Spring, and Fugazi as the harDCore scene matured around community action groups like Positive Force that advocated for punk rock to take direct action against societal injustice.

The early scene was not without its critics, and was sometimes derided by music reviewers like Robert Christgau who, according to Positive Force founder, Mark Anderson, in his seminal history of DC punk, Dance of Days, once called the emerging aggressive breed of young punks “muscleheads.” As a counterpoint, according to Anderson, the comment lead to the title of Flex Your Head, a compilation of DC punk released on Dischord Records in 1982.

The DC underground’s fiercely D.I.Y and, often, cerebral take on traditional punk rock continues to resonate. 

A new documentary about the era called Salad Days: The DC Punk Revolution, is set to make its debut in a few weeks. Created by Director Scott Crawford, a then very youthful fanzine chronicler of the 1980’s DC punk scene and Jim Saah (Director of Photography and Editor), a now professional photographer who taught himself the art in large part by shooting DC punk performances, the Kickstarter-funded film will begin seeing the light of day in November after being in the works for nearly four years. Salad Days features interviews with DC punk and post-punk luminaries Ian MacKaye, J. Robbins, Brian Baker, Kenny Inouye, Dante Ferrando and many others. DC post-punk outfit Soulside, three members of which went on to form Girls Against Boys, will reunite for a handful of shows in conjunction with the NYC and DC premiers.
 
Soul Side St. Vitus
 
I sent both Crawford and Saah a few questions via email recently and asked them to discuss the upcoming release of the film, their backgrounds as young fanzine creators, and what the 1980s DC hardcore scene meant to them.

DM: Scott, tell me about your years of making underground publications and what drew you to the Salad Days project.

Crawford: My love of magazines started as a kid when I published a fanzine called Metrozine that was focused on the DC punk scene. I did that for almost three years until I started playing in a band. Years later, I started two other zines that focused on the indie rock world at the time and I worked with some amazing writers and photographers (including Jim Saah). In 2001, I started another consumer music magazine out of my basement called HARP that was eventually bought by another publishing company. I worked as the Editor and Creative Director for seven years—and the focus was independent music and culture. Unfortunately once the economy bottomed out, so did the magazine industry and we were a casualty.

I’d been wanting to document the DC punk scene in the 1980s somehow and just thought a documentary film was the best way to tell the story. Speaking with a lot of the people that I’d spoken to almost 30 years ago (as a fanzine kid) provides a type of perspective that I think offers a unique take on the story. Honestly, after the magazine went under, I was floundering a bit personally and professionally. While the film took almost four years to complete, it’s been therapeutic, humbling and incredibly satisfying.

DM: This music was literally life changing for so many young people, but there have always been haters out there about it from critics to other punks who thought the scene was overly earnest and self-righteous. As you pointed out in your Kickstarter campaign, so much is misunderstood about DC punk in the 80’s. What’s the biggest misunderstanding?

Crawford: The DC punk scene in the 1980s was polarizing. Whether it was straight edge, socio-political issues or “emo”, they all provoke a reaction of some sort—which speaks volumes for the impact that this city has had not just on independent music but the culture at large. My eight-year-old daughter has never heard an Embrace song, but she uses the word “emo” on a daily basis. But as the film explores, not everyone was straight edge, humorless and pious. It was a diverse community and while it had its share of disfunction, it was made up of incredibly creative, hard-working people that created a thriving music scene at a time when there was no real local radio support or music industry infrastructure to help support it. That’s no small feat.
 

In this clip from Salad Days, Ian MacKaye talks about still addressing the straight edge issue.
 
DM: Talk about the Soulside reunion shows that are coming up in conjunction with the film’s release.

Crawford: I’d been talking to the band for a while about doing a reunion show when the film was ready to come out. They haven’t played on a stage in over 25 years so I really wasn’t sure if it’d actually come together, but I think the timing just worked for them. Personally speaking, they were always a favorite of mine, so it’s particularly meaningful to have them onboard. It’s going to be a really special weekend.

DM: Is there still a movement mentality in the D.C. underground?

Crawford: I think that’s part of the DNA of folks living in DC and active in the underground music community. I think having organizations like Positive Force in the city helps keep the activism alive.

DM: Jim, How long have you known Scott Crawford and how have you guys worked together over the years?  How’d you get involved in the Salad Days film?

Saah: I’ve known Scott since he was twelve years old. He called me and asked if he could use my photos in his fanzine. Then later on I would shoot photos for the various music magazines he would do over the years, Noise Works, Bent and Harp. I did fanzines of my own that Scott wrote for as well. In the 80’s I did Zone V which was a photo/fanzine, then in the 90s I did about a dozen issues of Uno Mas, which was more of a culture fanzine. I’ve thought about doing a book from time to time about DC punk rock but not a film. Scott came to me with the idea to make a film. He actually had to talk me into it a bit because I thought it was a daunting task. And it was! But since we have a long friendship and have collaborated on many things over the years it was very easy falling into a good workflow for the film.

DM: You shot everybody from the DC underground in the early 80’s including Faith, Government Issue, Scream, Black Market Baby, Iron Cross, and Minor Threat (including their last show at Landsburgh Center in 1983) to name just a few. How old were you in 1983? Did you feel like these bands were making history?

Saah: I turned eighteen in March of 1983. I didn’t have a sense of history being made at the time, but there was a sense that we found something special, something that spoke to us and wasn’t what everyone else at school was into. It was special. I was incredibly excited by the whole thing. I discovered older punk rock first; NY and British stuff from the late 70’s. But then I quickly found out that people were making incredible punk rock right now in my backyard! So we went to every show and drank it all in. I didn’t start a band but I did start a fanzine and took photos at all the shows and loved the community and camaraderie. It was a beautiful thing to be accepted by like-minded people.

(I asked both Crawford and Saah the following) What’s the underlying message of Salad Days and what do hope for young musicians and artists to take away from it?

Saah: For me the underlying message is that this music scene and community taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to, that I didn’t need anyone’s permission to be a photographer. I just needed to do it. It set me on a path that I’m still on. I took pictures of bands for my fanzine, then for the City Paper then for the Washington Post. The punk ethos taught me to believe in myself, and also taught me how to not settle for what’s put in front of me in regards to art and culture. It taught me that it may take a little work to find a band or book or movie that’s not easily found on the radio or in the library or at the Cineplex at the mall, but people are making incredible, moving and inspiring art that’s off the mainstream radar and it’s extremely rewarding to go find it. I’m still on the hunt to this day. And now my kids turn me on to cool shit that I didn’t know existed.

Crawford: Salad Days isn’t about nostalgia for me. It’s about looking at that period in my life and applying the things I learned then to my life now. In other words, my best days aren’t behind me—they’re ahead of me. Hell, they’re right now.

DM: How can people get their hands (or at least eyes) on the film once it’s released?

Crawford: We’re premiering the film over the November 14, 2014 weekend at DOC NYC Film Festival in NYC, and in the Midwest (the same night) at the Sound Unseen Film Festival in Minneapolis, MN and on Sunday, November 16 at the Olympia Film Festival in Olympia, WA. Then our Washington, DC premier begins on December 19 at the AFI Theater and runs through December 22. After that, we’ll be doing a few more film festivals followed by a theatrical run and DVD/VOD.

Look for updates on the film’s Facebook page and check out the trailer for Salad Days below:
 

Posted by Jason Schafer | Leave a comment
Destroy All Monsters: Niagara’s femme fatale pop art paintings

Niagara
Niagara during an early Destroy All Monsters show
 
I’m never quite sure how familiar folks outside the midwest are with Destroy All Monsters, but if you haven’t given them a listen yet, I highly suggest you do. There are no “real” albums, but in 1994 Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore released everything they recorded on a three-disc set called 1974-1976. Unfortunately, the Detroit punk outfit is most often mentioned in passing, usually as a reference to a more famous band; guitarist Ron Asheton of The Stooges and bassist Michael Davis of the MC5 were also members of Destroy All Monsters. The late Mike Kelley did his time in the band as well. Jim Shaw, too. Destroy All Monsters were an art/rock supergroup of sorts, albeit an awfully obscure one.

But not only did they produce some really interesting music, DAM boasted one of the great punk frontwomen in Niagara, who still performs in various projects. The only Punk Magazine centerfold besides Debbie Harry, Niagara has an incredibly compelling, raw presence, and she’s a total fox. It makes perfect sense that her paintings depict beautiful, brazen, dangerous women. In a 2010 interview, she said her work was a response to “women in art being treated like still life,” going on to say, “I wanted them to start saying what they are thinking, I wanted to see that mix of beauty and hardness in incredibly caustic women. And there is humor, you can see the humor.”

Niagara’s first exhibit was in 1996, with the fabulously misandrist title, “All Men Are Cremated Equal.” While her noir femme fatales are her most popular work, her most recent stuff evokes more of a “dreamy, druggy ladies in absinthe ads” kind of vibe. Still, the super-saturated colors, campy, menacing femininity, and an old school sign-painter’s instincts give Niagara’s canvases the same exciting and distinctive edge she brings to the stage.
 
painting
 
painting
 
painting
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Kill the Pigs or How I Stopped Worrying and Took a ‘Punk Vacation’
07.25.2013
11:32 pm

Topics:
Movies
Punk

Tags:
Punks
Vinegar Syndrome
Rednecks
Punk Vacation

New Cover Art for Vinegar Syndrome's Punk Vacation
 
There is something so delirious about punks (of the DIY-art-music-outsider variety, not the prison-wagon-train variety) being depicted in cinema. Some filmmakers got it close enough, like Penelope Spheeris with both Suburbia and the very-underrated Dudes coming immediately to mind. But for every Suburbia, there have been a LOT of interpretations of this initially diverse alternative culture that have been straight up from Mars. The way “punks” started popping up in movies and TV in the 80’s was akin to the whole juvenile delinquent craze in the 1950’s.

This trend was already starting to fade by 1990, but there was at least one more film to tackle this, creating a strange hybrid between The Wild One and your typical revenge flick with a splash of the great outdoors. The result? Punk Vacation. A title that instantly makes me think of Johnny Thunders’ “Sad Vacation,” the film begins in pastoral, small town California. Deputy Steve Reed (Stephen Fiachi) is target practicing with some old Pepsi cans when he gets a call to check an alarm at a nearby gas station. It ends up being a false one, but it gives Steve a chance to scoop on his old flame, Lisa (Sandra Bogan). Her little sister, Sally (Karen Renee), thinks it sweet, while their gruff dad glowers in the background.

While Steve gives Lisa a lift home, Sally notices a young man outside, wigging out and wailing on their already battered looking soda machine. Everyone has an anger trigger and for this particular freakazoid, Billy, it is the twin combo of no orange soda and having his change devoured. Unfortunately, Sally and Lisa’s dad is kind of a reactionary redneck and immediately greets the young man with a rifle. Seems a bit extreme and sure enough, Billy is a punk rocker and the rest of his friends, led by the fierce Ramrod (Roxanne Rogers), arrive for some revenge. After some friendly car windshield destruction via baseball bat, things get decidedly nasty. By the time Steve finally arrives, Dad is dead and Sally is near-catatonic. Everyone but Billy leaves the scene, with the latter getting hit by Steve’s police vehicle head on.

What emerges from there is Lisa wanting vengeance for her father and little sister, Steve and his fellow officer Don (Don Martin) trying to do the right thing despite their hugely incompetent co-workers and Ramrod and company plotting on how to get Billy out of the hospital. The culmination ends up being the “punks” versus the “rednecks,” including the uber-dumb Sheriff (played by former Warhol actor Louis Waldon?!?) and his crew of future Tea Party members, with Lisa and Steve separate from the two herds.
 
Ramrod & Co
 
Punk Vacation is one fascinating film. On one hand, there are all these non-campy elements. The editing, of all things, is subtly creative and lends a serious tone to the proceedings. The whole brutalization of sweet Sally is certainly no fun to watch either. Then there’s the whole semi-nihilistic angle. The punks are all prepped up to be the villains, but then with the Sheriff, who is loud-mouthed and constantly ranting about “fascist communist pinkos” and his rogue gang of ball-scratching, gun club touting merry dumb asses, the lines become blurred. One punk takes the time to fasten his newly dead comrade’s metal studded wristband in the middle of a life & death chase. All of which is interesting since there is this whole earlier build-up of the punks identifying heavily with Native Americans, giving you this false illusion of some kind of metaphorical old West battle. Instead it ends up being a more anti-climatic rumble between the young, restless and ignorant and the middle-aged, inbred and idiotic. Not quite the epic moral battle, but really, isn’t more interesting that way?

On the other hand, there are some really goony things here. For starters, there is some of the more cherry dialogue, with my personal favorite being “I think he looked like Gomer Pyle’s Grandfather,” uttered by one of the punkettes regarding the man they killed the night before. Even better is that she utters this like it’s a positive thing. Speaking of the punks, holy hell, about 90% of these cats would be devoured at any hardcore punk show of your choosing. They range from looking like extras from the nightclub scenes in Purple Rain to college dudes scuzzing it up. The girls fare a little bit better with Ramrod and her French girlfriend looking very punk meets goth. That said, the other women are one article of clothing away from New Wave Hookers, so there you go. And for the record, what was it with so many movies and TV shows making “punks” look like some kind of New Wave/heavy metal mutant? It’s so strange, not to mention most punks are not going to kill your father and terrorize your sister. If they’re like some of my friends, your 12 pack of Natural Ice and copy of Black Flag’s Who’s Got the 10 ½? might be in danger, but your family will probably be fine.

The absolute best bit of weirdness is the premise itself. The idea of these street gang punks, complete with faux-hawks, leather and ripped fishnets, taking some time off from LA living to go fishing and camping a hundred miles away from the city, is definitely novel. It’s a literal punk vacation.

Vinegar Syndrome
have done a fantastic job of taking this fairly obscure title, that had one VHS release, to my knowledge, on Raedon Video back in the day. The print looks very good and there are some nice extras on the DVD version, including some funny interviews with star/producer Steven Fusci and producer’s assistant/stuntman Steven Rowland, a gallery and Fusci’s earlier action film, Nomad Riders. Wisely, they also changed the artwork to something way more striking and less Gouda. (Anyone that has seen the Raedon Video cover, which looks like a Betsy Bitch cover-band from Hell, understands.)


Punk Vacation
is an entertaining hybrid, capturing a moment in time where punks were depicted as the nastiest of JD’s, with lots of fuchsia eyeliner, hairspray and character names straight out of a Class of 1984 name generator.
 

Posted by Heather Drain | Leave a comment
‘A Film About Punks And Skinheads’

image
 
The 1983 documentary UK/DK: A Film About Punks And Skinheads features some great live performances from The Exploited, Disorder and The Adicts, among others. It does a solid job of capturing the tail end of the British punk scene as it was being supplanted by hardcore and the pop elements in the music replaced by something faster, more aggressive and humorless.

Featuring lively interviews with band members, journalists and fans… and lots of Crazy Color and mohawks. One of the better documentaries on the subject I’ve seen.

Exploited – Fuck The USA
Vice Squad – Stand Strong Stand Proud
Adicts – Joker In The Pack
Blitz – New Age
Business – Blind Justice
Adicts – Viva La Revolution
Varukers – Soldier Boy
Chaos UK – No Security
Disorder – Life

The Damned provide comic relief.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Cool BBC documentary on British pop fashion: Teddy Boys, Mods, Punks and more

image
 
Fashion, tribalism and a sharp suit. BBC documentary “The Street Look” connects fashion to pop music and back again. We proclaim our allegiance to the music we love in the clothing we wear. I’ve run through the whole gamut. My girlfriend says I’ve got more shoes than any man she knows: from winklepickers to creepers to sandals and Pumas, to cowboy boots, Beatle boots and leopard skin loafers. I’ve always been a fashion shapeshifter and it’s always been in relationship to whatever new social/cultural scene I feel a passion for. I like to wear my colors. It’s a declaration of what I believe in. Suit up and get ready to rock and roll.

In the late 70s, I started a company called Shady Character. I sold skinny ties and wraparound shades to stores that in turn sold them to kids in towns like Laramie, Wyoming and Brownsville, Texas -  places where there wasn’t a punk or new wave scene but kids wanted to align themselves with the movement. I really wasn’t doing it for the money, much to the chagrin of my partners, I was doing it because I wanted to provide kids with a freak flag to fly, a uniform in the rock and roll army. A groovy pair of Italian wraparounds can change the world for a 17 year old in a town without pity.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment