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‘Population: 1’: The post-apocalyptic art punk film that starred Tomata du Plenty of The Screamers
11.16.2018
09:04 am
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The Screamers may have never released any music, but their punk legacy lives on through the rough bootleg tapes and high-energy video recordings that have resurfaced over the years. And lest not we forget the lingering rock appropriation of Gary Panter’s notorious “screaming man” logo. When citing them as a major influence, Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys once referred to the electro punk outfit as “the best unrecorded band in the history of rock ’n’ roll.”
 
A raucous force of dystopian, feral energy with a timely, but uncanny absence of guitars, The Screamers set into motion a new era of punk rock and showmanship in the few years that they existed as a functioning band. In its heyday, they were considered the biggest band in Los Angeles without a record contract, known to sell out multiple nights at the Whiskey a Go-Go and headline the Roxy (something previously impossible for an unsigned band).
 

 
As forward-thinking as their synths were futuristic, The Screamers, led by the eccentric frontman Tomata du Plenty, weren’t interested in putting out just a record. Nearly predating MTV, the band envisioned its full-length debut to exist strictly in video format. Not only would it allow them greater control over the aesthetic and message being conveyed, but if the TARGET videos were any indication, it would’ve been really fucking cool. Sadly, The Screamers dissolved before the rest of the world was able to catch up with them.
 
But it was video that also ‘killed’ the synthpunk stars. In 1979, The Screamers teamed up with Dutch filmmaker Rene Daalder for a series of mixed media, highly theatrical live shows. In doing so, Daalder and Du Plenty had hoped to develop their idea of a music video concept, but it didn’t necessarily pan out. What did result, however, was the 1986 sci-fi art punk musical, Population: 1.
 

 
Using footage shot over the years layered-in and chroma-key’d with additional scripted content filmed at Tomata’s Hollywood Blvd apartment, Population: 1 is one man’s rambling hour long monologue at the end of the world. Du Plenty stars as mankind’s sole survivor, who has somehow survived both a nuclear holocaust and a bizarre plague-induced suicide pact. Restricted to his personified fallout shelter reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic Pee-wee’s Playhouse, Tomata presents a distorted, beatnik memoir depicting his time on Earth and the final vestiges of civilization.
 
Part warped history lesson, part devoted tribute to his lost love Sheela (Edwards), the hypothetical narrative is sprinkled with musical numbers throughout and plenty of impressive punk rock cameos. See if you can spot appearances by members of Los Lobos, Penelope Houston of The Avengers, Vampira, Carel Struycken (the giant from Twin Peaks), El Duce, Al Hansen, his grandson Beck (the Grammy Award-winning musician), among many others.
 
Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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11.16.2018
09:04 am
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Legendary ‘zine Ben Is Dead turns 30: ‘We’re just gonna do it’
11.06.2018
09:20 am
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The fanzine Ben Is Dead was, and still is, a fucking LEGEND as far as ‘zines go so, interviewing founder Darby Romeo about her life and times was other-level-cool for me. Growing up in Los Angeles, certain things remain indelibly printed in my memory: driving by the enticing Anti-Club sign just before my mom got onto the 101 South, the sexy smell of leather jackets from rock shops on Hollywood Blvd, and this principle: comic book stores and coffee shops could be judged on quality based on whether you could find a copy of Ben Is Dead in their publications area. So therefore the mighty Bourgeois Pig, on Franklin Ave., rocked.

Ben Is Dead had collaborators from all walks of life, featured punk bands, performance artists and gender activists and didn’t believe that there was anything that couldn’t be talked about. It was an honest read and they had fun. Mostly run by women—and men who respected women—that, in itself, was something that my friends and I noticed. Ben Is Dead was a glowing engine that couldn’t be stopped—celebratory and wise-beyond-its-years, that ‘zine was a reflection of people, places and movements that were forces in and of themselves and could (and would) never be repeated again. It served as an unintentional documentary of life, art, culture and human existence in El Lay. And it was fucking cool, man.
 

Lorraine Mahru, left, one of Darby Romeo’s many Girl Fridays from Ben Is Dead, and Darby Romeo, right.
 
Ben is Dead’s founder, Darby Romeo briefly went to Pierce College, studying to be a graphic designer but quit school to get a job. She was temping and developing computer skills with the MacSE40 that she got from her father when she ended up temping as a secretary at Grey Advertising. She told the art director at Grey that she had graphic design training, and they ended up hiring her as an art director. I asked her about the beginnings of Ben Is Dead.

Darby Romeo: In the late 80s, I was already making $25/hr at Grey Advertising, and my only good friend there was this comic and the guy in the mailroom who sent out all the Ben Is Deads for free. But that’s basically what paid for Ben Is Dead. So I got the computer from my dad, I got this job at Grey, and that was it because you didn’t really make money on it [Ben Is Dead and ‘zines in general] you just spent money on it. So Grey Advertising kinda started Ben Is Dead. And the LA Times doesn’t really know this but they kinda helped us do our first issue for us! My dad would’ve hated that we did this but I kinda considered it to be like pro-bono and that they should be supporting zines, y’know? But I remember that this was right before the first issue came out and I was talking to someone at Flipside [another well-known and beloved LA punk-rock fanzine]  and I was like, “We’re gonna make 1000 issues!” or something like that and they [seemed unimpressed]. Cuz I didn’t know what I was doing! So someone from the LA Times snuck us in there at two in the morning and we printed another 1000 on the LA Times’ huge copy machines. So, thank you, LA Times! I don’t know what the statute of limitations on that is but, there’s a little known story!


How do you feel now that there is now a dedicated space at the UCLA Library Special Collections Punk Archive for the preservation and archiving of the entire Ben Is Dead collection?

Darby Romeo: I’m really thankful that this nerdy librarian lady came—what year did she come?—I think her name was Julie Graham, I can’t remember, but she would come over to the Ben Is Dead offices, I can’t remember the hook-up, but we would go through all the issues and I was looking at the archive and there were 78 boxes of ‘zines. We went through each one so that she could archive it. Like who would be that patient? We even archived the [letters to the editor] and included those, just knowing that there are people who are willing to do stuff like that—especially for ‘zines since they’re not online mostly, like 95% of the ‘zines are not online, and these libraries and people like her are vital! Having UCLA treasure these and keep them safe is amazing. So many of them are fading or falling apart or getting thrown away and in a few more decades those are going to be the only places besides your grandpa’s collection in the attic where you’re going to find them.

And we’re working on putting ours online but you can’t trust online as much as you can trust an archive that isn’t going to get tossed. Libraries are so important. And it’s so funny because in creating Ben Is Dead, we created it before there was an Internet. There was no Internet to find a photo, there would be a whole long process to print a photo! So it was a whole different thing creating ‘zines back then and having them in a place where we don’t have to worry if the Internet goes down, they’ll always be there, y’know?
 

A “Retro Hell Party” complete with Hostess HoHos. Party people include: Darby (blue dress), Reverend Al Cacophony (in black), Noel Tolentino of Bunnyhop (wearing a McDonald’s Grimace party hat)
 
What’s the difference between analog and digital research and how important were libraries to the creation of Ben Is Dead?

Darby Romeo:: We used the libraries much more back then than people do now… I just remember how much time I would spend in the microfiche section. I loved microfiche! I loved just sitting there and looking for old stuff and just going into the basement of the downtown LA Library and that smell and the old bookstores. But the libraries were important and the photos from Ben Is Dead—a lot of them were because my friend ran the photo department of AP. He was the archivist, basically of AP, so he’d slip us a bunch—so thank you AP for supporting Ben Is Dead!
 

 
While BID had many striking qualities, one unique aspect was the way it platformed the symbiotic connection that LA punk rock has with local queer icons and performance artists like Ron Athey and Vaginal Davis. Tell me about the Sean deLear video tribute that will be playing at the 30th anniversary Ben Is Dead Festival.

Darby Romeo: Stuart [Swezey, from Amok Books] was going to show Desolation Center [but then it was unable to be shown] and he came up with this bright idea and it’s so awesome and so touching because everyone loved Seande [Sean deLear] and Seande was such an influence in the scene and was such a big part of Ben Is Dead and played one of my favorite shows at Al’s Bar during our “Gross” issue. I love chickens now so I feel awful but everything was gross—we had chicken feet in bowls at the bar, and I remember people were throwing them at Seande and he was throwing them back during his set with Glue. Yeah, he was really vital. And we were all really shocked when he passed last year and we are really honored that Stuart is going to put together a documentary about his life because he did some interviews with him just before he passed for Desolation Center and stuff, so that will be playing early on in the day at the Zine Fest on Saturday.
 

 
Tell me some of your wildest Ben Is Dead stories…

Darby Romeo: A crazy story? Probably when Kerin wanted to interview Anton LaVey. I mean, you grow up goth dancing at Phases and Odyssey [local LA dance clubs] and all but I’m not into the REAL darkside or whatever. So [Kerin] was planning with Anton and his wife at the time a Ben Is Dead interview and he really liked the magazine. It was supposed to be me and her going [up to San Francisco] for the interview but at the last minute I’m like: Um, I don’t wanna meet Satan, nope, uh uh, I’m not going up there, nope nope nope! So I call up [Germs drummer] Don Bolles and I tell him that he has to go up there and do the interview instead and I’m just like freaking the fuck out. I just tell him “Go with Kerin and do this interview. She wants to do this interview.” And he said, “Okay, cool.” And then Anton said, “Nope.” It was like he knew I was petrified! He could just sense it! He was like we’re not doing the interview without Darby. And I was like “Nooooo!”

So we get to his house and they sleep by day and are up all night so we get there at night and he has this old house and it just smelled like Europe. We go in and we’re in the waiting area and his wife—Blanche was her name—she has her new baby with her and she leaves the baby alone in the room with us! So we go and check the baby to see if there’s a 666 on top of its head. We really did! They were so sweet and nice but Anton would not allow me to record the interview and that was like the worst nightmare because now you have to take notes and remember everything!  The Anton LaVey interview was the only interview we ever did that we gave someone permission to approve. And the thing was, he didn’t ask for any changes, he just approved it!
  

 
So we go to his favorite restaurant—Olive Garden—and I’m still distraught, I remember begging them to let me use my tape recorder, I remember hiding it for a little bit at one point, I remember having it in the bathroom at one point talking into it, saying some of the stuff he’d already said, documenting it out of my mouth. Then we go back to the house and his other favorite thing was animal cookies—the frosted ones [Mother’s brand, pink and white with little sprinkles]. So we’re sitting there, he’s playing the organ, we’re eating animal cookies, and I’m trying to write notes and it’s going on all night because that’s their daytime because they sleep all day and I’m wishing that we still did drugs! But the piece came out great and he was happy and he was a really nice guy but I never ended up joining the Church of Satan or whatever. 

You’ll probably never think of Olive Garden in the same way again.

There were a lot of stories around the “Sex” issue too [Most issues of Ben Is Dead had themes: the “Gross” issue, the “Broke” issue, the “Black” aka “Death” issue.] That’s when we actually started selling it and when we realized that we had a lot of fans. Like Jon Spencer was like, “Your “Sex” issue really inspired the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion,” um, what? Okay. Then we interviewed Malcolm McLaren and gave him the “Sex” issue and the same technological issues that just devastated us every single day—our voicemail system would sometimes just eat our voicemails—our voicemail being our Ben Is Dead Hotline which was how you found out about shows every week. So he calls and in his British accent he says, “Darby, this is Malcolm McLaren, y’know that ‘Sex’ issue I just want to tell you…” and it gets cut off! Fuck! What about the “Sex” issue? I go into the voicemail place and tell them that I need this voicemail back, where is this voicemail, and I think I got three months free and that was it! 
 

 
Is it true that you promised Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran that you would find him a massage therapist?

Darby Romeo: I told him I would get him a masseuse and the one lady that I thought I hooked up cancelled! I had a couple Girl Fridays over the years, and Jessy, Jessica Jones, was one of them—so I was like “Jessy! I have to go over to Simon LeBon’s! Help me get dressed!” And I put that red velvet dress on and the Elvis Penis [a wig Darby nicknamed the Elvis Penis—it was huge and bouffant-style], she stuck flowers from the vase that we had that we had gotten from Mrs. Gooch’s [a local LA health food store] in my hair and I go and I get in the car and the wig is hitting the top of the car and I go and I drive over to the Beverly something—they always stayed there.

So I get there and I’m valeting the car and I didn’t even know at the time that you’re supposed to have a massage table, right? That would make sense? So I have sunglasses on, and the car guys are like what the fuck is this? And I think I had my Fluevogs on—yeah, my Fluevogs, it was tragic—with (of course) this bright red lipstick, and I go to Simon’s door, and I knock and he opens the door and he looks and I’m like [in fake European accent] “Hello, I’m your massage therapist,” and he looks at me and he’s like what the fuck is this? And he didn’t know what to do so he opened the door and he’s like, what the fuck? And he sees that I don’t have a massage table but I don’t know that that’s a thing.

I later go on to become a massage therapist—I’m now a licensed massage therapist, by the way—so I’m sitting there on the couch and he knows me but I’m all dressed up with the glasses and everything and we’re having this full on conversation and he’s just trying to figure out what to do with me. Like “Who sent you? Darby knows you? What are you…?” And after about ten minutes I just busted out laughing and told him, “I couldn’t get you a massage therapist, I’m sorry!” and the fucker made me massage him anyway! I’m in this velvet dress with this Elvis Penis wig, he takes off all of his clothes, puts a towel on the floor, lays there, and I’m like: I have no idea what to do so I’m just kinda mushing him and stuff? And I don’t even think I had massage oil? Anyway, he had a cute little butt and he was a very sweet guy but…he didn’t even tip me!
 

 
And of course I have to ask about I Hate Brenda…

Darby Romeo: The thing about I Hate Brenda—and people never got it right then and the only reason we did it—was that we were on the side of the victims. The victims were like security guards at clubs who were like, “God, we’re getting abused because she [actress Shannen Doherty who played “Brenda” on TV’s Beverly Hills 90210]  was at the door, yelling at us because she’s not on the list and she’d be like, ‘Don’t you know who I am?’” and we just kept getting these stories and different stories [of Doherty terrorizing people] from labels and people in the scene and they just kept coming to us and we had no plans on doing a newsletter… at the time the fax machine was like social media so we made our version of a flyer or our version of a meme and it had Brenda on it and it said “I wash my hair in Evian” which was her thing and we pretended it was the “I Hate Brenda Newsletter” and we sent it out to everyone and they were like, “Oh my God! When is the I Hate Brenda Newsletter coming out? Oh you gotta include this and you have to interview Eddie Vedder! Oh you have to do this and dadadada and this story and this happened to me and all this stuff!” and that’s how that ended up happening. It’s not like we were really going to do anything but yeah. And what’s kind of weird in the scheme of things is that we would all go to bars or knock on the neighbor’s fucking door just to watch 90210. We’d be working in the offices and there was some model next door and we’d bang on her door and say, “No, you have to let us in! 90210 is on!”
 
Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Ariel Schudson
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11.06.2018
09:20 am
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The NYC hardcore episode of ‘Regis and Kathie Lee’


Raybeez, Jimmy Gestapo and Lemmy at the Ritz, 1986
 
This video of two members of Warzone on The Morning Show with Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford has been circulating due to the recent death of Todd Youth, whose improbable career connected Agnostic Front and Glen Campbell. When Todd was 16, he and four other members of the scene shared an enormous couch belonging to WABC. He’s sitting next to Natalie Jacobson, the show promoter and writer then attached to Jimmy Gestapo of Murphy’s Law; to his right are a Pratt student named Christine, Todd’s late bandmate Raybeez and fanzine writer Debbie. 

Natalie complains about her treatment on a recent episode of Donahue (“I’m sorry Phil, but you really blow”) and the way Peter Blauner portrayed her in a New York Magazine profile of NYHC bands and fans. But what may seem like a friendly reception from Regis and Kathie Lee is really just the inability to listen, see or think that made the hosts favorites of the morning-show audience. Kathie Lee wonders how the HxCx crew is different from the beatniks of her childhood; Regis asks Dr. Joy Browne to explain the hardcore phenomenon from a psychiatrist’s point of view. If you need any more proof of Schopenhauer’s doctrine that perception is an intellectual faculty, just watch Regis and Kathie Lee trying to size up the struggle and the streets.
 

 
via Reddit

Posted by Oliver Hall
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11.02.2018
09:47 am
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Hey! Ho! Halloween! Ramones fans decked out in costume at a gig in a college gym, October 1978
10.30.2018
08:45 am
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A flier for a Halloween-themed dance party in a gym belonging to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) on October 28th, 1978.
 

“The Ramones are on the verge of making it big. Their dreams will come true in their quest for stardom. Now that bands like Black Sabbath and Foreigner are letting the Ramones be their opening act, it will eventually lead to the others’ demise and the Ramones’ rise. Johnny is confident that the kids will see the difference in energy, and finally let bands like Black Sabbath fade and die.”

—the words of a journalist for the Commonwealth Times going by the name “Million Dollar” Gamble in a review of the Ramones’ Halloween gig at the Franklin Street Gym.

In September of 1978, the Ramones released their fourth album, Road to Ruin which included the sing-along anthem, “I Wanna Be Sedated,” a song Joey Ramone often referred to as his favorite recording with the band. It was also the band’s first record with Marky Ramone (Marc Steven Bell) who replaced original drummer Tommy (Thomas Erdelyi). In their review for the record in 1978, Rolling Stone called it a “really good album” noting while Road to Ruin didn’t have the power of their 1976 self-titled debut, this was in no way an indication the Ramones were “losing their grip.” Since 1976 their tour schedule was relentless taking them around the world—in 1978 alone they played approximately 147 shows often playing bigger venues and college campuses sharing bills with Blondie, The Heartbreakers, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, The Cramps, and Patti Smith. One such show went down in the gymnasium of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) the Saturday before Halloween on October 28th, 1978. VCU billed the event as a “Halloween Dance” and if you were a student attending in costume, tickets were only $2.50 with the promise of a certain “golden beverage” being on hand at the show.
 

Illustrations and signatures from Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee, and Marky Ramone published in the Commonwealth Times, 1978.
 
As a veteran participant of all things Halloween (I went out to a party last weekend dressed as Ronnie James Dio because of course, I did), I can assure you the Saturday preceding Halloween is serious business for revelers like myself. So when VCU put out the word the Ramones were playing the annual Halloween Dance and there was going to be beer, you better believe the kids came out in costume to see it all go down. A few weeks later, and as noted by “Million Dollar” Gamble, the Ramones would play a gig with Black Sabbath and Van Halen during VH’s first world tour. This event also relates back to what Gamble said in the quote at the top of this post indicating it was time for bands like Black Sabbath to “fade and die” as the original version of Sabbath was about to implode anyway. In addition to the review of the show, I also came across a very cool recollection from a former VCU student named Doug who was not only at the show, but held the dream-job position of “dressing room security.” Get ready, because Doug’s story is really, really something:

“My favorite Ramones memory was at a 1978 VCU Halloween concert in Richmond. I had just joined the school Concert Committee and was assigned to dressing room security. Basically, the job entailed hanging out with the Moans before and after the show and attending to their simple needs. I remember running back to my dorm room to get my crappy black & white TV so the boys could watch the KISS movie (Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park) before their turn on stage. I also did a horrible poster for the show with a silhouette of the band from their first album cover. Tommy had left by then, so when I got the band to autograph it, Marky Xed out Tommy’s head before he signed.

Other fond recollections include watching Dee Dee use his switchblade to carve the lining out of Joey’s new leather jacket ‘cause it was “too hooooot.” Sitting in and asking a question or two during the prerequisite backstage interview. Joey whining cause he couldn’t find his mineral water. Johnny being quiet and sweet. Marky acting dumb and silent. And Dee Dee drawing vaguely fascist graffiti on the chalkboard.

Ah, youth…”

As they say, not all heroes wear capes, but, as this was a Halloween-themed event, perhaps Doug was wearing one that night. At the very least I hope he wears one when he tells this story. Thankfully, a photographer with the Commonwealth Times was there taking snapshots of fans at the show, as well as a few black and white shots of the band on stage in the gym, which you can see below. I also included the official video for “She’s the One” shot in 1978 which, until recently, had resided inside a nondescript 16mm film canister for 40 years. Rhino unleashed the video in conjunction with the release of a 40th anniversary box set for Road to Ruin late last month. Hey! Ho! Let’s GO!
 

Photos from the VCU gym show.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.30.2018
08:45 am
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I’m Dancing with Death: The Forgotten Glam Punk of Lou Miami & the Kozmetix
10.22.2018
10:08 am
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Lou Miami was a punk rocker from Boston, Massachusetts. His band, the Kozmetix, played around locally, but rarely toured. They were regulars at popular night clubs like The Rathskeller (“The Rat”), The Channel, and the Inn-Square Men’s bar. The band formed sometime in the late-seventies and released two EP’s: Lou Miami & the Kozmetix in 1982 and Rituals in 1985.
 
Lou was a spectacle. His style was flamboyant and glam, with a touch of goth esotericism and a gritty punk demeanor. My favorite description of him is that he was “sort of a cross between Iggy Pop, Boy George, Devo and Helen Reddy.” I’d also throw in a little Richard Hell, Lou Reed, and Joey Ramone. Lou had an obsession with the allure of sex symbol and actress Jayne Mansfield - particularly her humor and rumored involvement with Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan. “The occult doesn’t have to be depressing,” Lou once said.
 

 

Lou Miami covers ‘Monster Mash’
 
Having opened up for The Cramps and spun heavily on Boston’s WERS 88.9fm and the short-lived (but influential) music video channel V66, the Kozmetix didn’t receive much notoriety outside of the Boston scene. Before MTV, Lou recognized pretty early on that video would be a tool to expose a band and display its concept. Lou took mime lessons from a former 1960s go-go dancer and found it important to be an “entertainer” while on stage. The Kozmetix created WAY more video “content” than most bands today, especially in a pre-iPhone, nearly pre-MTV era. They even made more than one video for certain songs.
 
The Kozmetix fizzled out of the local scene sometime in the mid-eighties, when it was believed that Lou had gotten into witchcraft up in Salem. He died of heart failure in Los Angeles in August 1995. Thank you for everything, Lou.
 
Get a taste of the fabled Lou Miami after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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10.22.2018
10:08 am
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Mondo Bondage: Why Fee Waybill of The Tubes is one of the three most important people in the world
10.21.2018
10:25 am
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Fee Waybill on stage with The Tubes as his stage alter-ego Quay Lewd in 1975. His platform boots are eighteen inches high.
 
If the title of this post and affirmation of the importance of vocalist Fee Waybill (born John Waldo Waybill in 1950) of The Tubes sounds at all familiar, it is because this is precisely how Fee Waybill was addressed in the 1989 film, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Since I know you’re curious, the other two people included in this very important trio were Martha Davis of The Motels (because of course, she was) and the big man himself, saxophone player and long-running member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, Clarence Clemons. Bill and Ted might not have been the brightest bulbs, but they were right to call Fee Waybill important. Because god dammit he was and still is and I’ve got pictures and live footage to prove it. Excellent.

Anyone growing up on MTV remembers The Tubes. “Talk to you Later” was in such heavy rotation it would have been impossible not to absorb the lyrics without even wanting to. Their early, proto-punk records were popular in the UK but didn’t really break through in the U.S., so as far as most MTV kids were concerned, The Tubes they saw on television didn’t exist before “Talk to You Later.” They had likely never heard of the band’s 1975 debut, White Punks on Dope. During their time in the 70s, they became known for their elaborate stage productions which stepped far beyond merely going to see a band, and more like live, interactive, improvisational theater with sick jams.

Then, you have Fee Waybill, taking it a leap beyond the beyond appearing in characters he created for the stage such as a BDSM fan, and a glam rocker called Quay Lewd. Waybill also dressed up like a crazed astronaut from time to time and a masked bad-dude. Others would follow, and Waybill’s revolving cast of characters would make regular appearances during Tubes’ shows for years and years. According to Waybill, Quay Lewd was an “amalgam” of “Rod Stewart, David Bowie, David Johansen, Robert Plant and all the quasi-homosexual glam-rock gay lead singers with platform shoes in the 1970s.”

In 1977 The Tubes played two highly praised totally gonzo sold-out shows at the Hammersmith Odeon with Wire. Both performances were recorded and released in 1978 as What Do You Want from Live. In addition to wanton appearances by Waybill dressed in bondage gear, Quay Lewd also came out to taunt the crowd. Journalist Paul Rambali reviewed the gigs for NME, including the following assessment which I think sums up what the fuck happened at the Odeon: 

“They (The Tubes) are not strictly a rock band, neither are they a show, a satire, nor a marriage of rock and theatre, (although they do admit early inspiration from the original Rocky Horror Picture Show). The Tubes are a spectacle like no other. They present a relentless two-hour onslaught of humor, outrage, parody, idiocy, music, and costume—a feast for the senses.”

 

Paul Rambali’s review of The Tubes gigs at the Odeon in 1977.
 
After the release of What Do You Want from Live, The Tubes returned to California to play a series of shows in San Fran and Los Angeles. After their crazed shows in London, Waybill decided to get even nastier on stage and added a large dildo to his Quay Lewd costume, which has always kind of reminded me of a cross between Wayne Country and Hedwig. Apparently, Cher was in the crowd and would later ask the band to play her Cher…Special (1978), which they did in the most bonkers way possible. The Tubes performed a medley of songs including 1975’s “Mondo Bondage” with Waybill and in bondage gear trying to get Cher to embrace her dark side. During the skit/musical number, another guest on the one-off special, Dolly Parton and her gang of gospel singers roll on in to save Cher’s soul, presumably from rock and roll. Also, since Rambali was kind enough to mention the link between The Tubes and Rocky Horror Picture Show, it seems like a good time to note Waybill took on the role of the deranged Dr. Frank N. Furter for a stage production of RHPS at the Barn Theater in Augusta, Michigan in 1999. Pictures or it didn’t happen? I got you covered, pals.

Classic images of Fee Waybill doing what he does best—you know, being one of the three most important people in the world, follow. Some are NSFW (which does not mean Not Safe for Fee Waybill). Lastly, if you happen to be in Irwin, Pennsylvania or Akron, Ohio, you can see the band live later this month.
 

Waybill on stage in BDSM leather. Fuck YES.
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.21.2018
10:25 am
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Out of Step (with the world): Anderson Cooper’s 1995 News Segment on Straight Edge
10.10.2018
03:01 pm
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I’m a person just like you, but I’ve got better things to do…
 
Ian Mackaye never intended to lead the straight edge revolution. Songs like “I’m Straight” and “Keep it Clean” prove that the punks had restraint before the Dischord-boom. That being said, Ian’s high school band Teen Idles did put out the Minor Disturbance EP, their only release, with younger brother, Alec MacKaye’s valiant, X’d up fists on its cover. The X’s, now a symbol of the anti-inebriation subculture, was meant to signify that he was underage and therefore “incapable” of drinking. In 1981, Ian’s DC-hardcore band Minor Threat released its fundamental, self-titled debut EP - on it included the moniker song “Straight Edge.” During a time when being a punk meant sniffing glue (“Just Say No”), Ian wrote a forty-six second statement about how you could be “straight” and still be like everybody else. So yeah, Ian Mackaye pretty much is the Godfather of straight edge.
 

 
Bands like Youth of Today, SS Decontrol, Gorilla Biscuits, and 7Seconds helped promote the core values of straight edge. Those being that one could rebel through self-control and individuality. And for punk rock, which already was reactionary toward the excesses and hedonism of the boomer generation, being straight edge was yet another way to resist the mainstream. At least I can fucking think…..
 
In the mid-to-late nineties, straight edge caught wide appeal. By this point, newer variations of hardcore began to embrace a lifetime commitment to a substance-free existence. Vegetarianism and social justice issues were integrated into its list of convictions and newer, more radical takes on the subculture began to appear. Hardline was a faction of vegan straight edge that promoted its oftentimes conservative judgements through imposition and direct action, even if by any means necessary. “Hate edge” militant gangs and crews formed, most notably in places like Salt Lake City and Reno, where McDonald’s locations were being firebombed and fellow punks were getting jumped for smoking and drinking. So naturally, the parents of America got concerned.
 

Youth of Today - the most straight edge band?
 
Similar to its interpretation of punk a decade prior, the media had a hard time comprehending the straight edge phenomena. Described as a “strange development,” several local news outlets across the country ran investigative reports into the drug-free hXc lifestyle and what it meant for our communities. Should I be concerned if my son is a straight edger? Mostly no, according to multiple reports, although a few of them profiled the animal liberation guerrilla efforts of hardline activists and the growing wave of violence committed by them. Straight edge was soon the subject of an episode of America’s Most Wanted and even on the daytime talk show Rolonda, in 1997.
 
Back in 1995, CNN’s Anderson Cooper was a correspondent for ABC News. That same year, he traveled to Syracuse, NY to report on a growing youth movement known as “straight edge.” The segment is introduced with shocking new evidence that teenage use of marijuana and illegal drugs is on the rise. Notwithstanding, rookie newscaster Anderson Cooper had supposedly “discovered a small, but growing group of young people who are refusing to engage in such self-destructing behavior.” Among them were brothers Trevor and Justin, the center of our cultural probe, who came upon a drug-free lifestyle to protest the self-indulgence of their generation, and of those past. Cooper narrates the report, but can be seen around the two-minute mark, sitting within a pow-wow discussion group of X’d up hardcore teens.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Bennett Kogon
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10.10.2018
03:01 pm
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The Adam Ant episode of ‘Tales from the Crypt’
10.09.2018
08:29 am
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The cover of Crime SuspenStories #27, 1955; first publication of ‘Maniac at Large’
 
John Frankenheimer, the director of The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May and Seconds, got his start working in TV in the fifties. After a long absence, he returned to the medium in 1992 with this episode of Tales from the Crypt.

In “Maniac at Large,” Adam Ant plays a crime-obsessed nerd whose preoccupation with murder terrorizes the new librarian, Blythe Danner, who is all het up about a serial killer on the loose. Ant’s quite good; I’m puzzled that his acting career faltered after his promising debut in Derek Jarman’s Jubilee, and he wound up in movies like Sunset Heat and Cyber Bandits. (Someday I’ll get around to watching Wayne Wang’s Slam Dance, just to see Harry Dean Stanton, John Doe of X and Adam Ant in the same movie.)

Frankenheimer’s psychological direction, which foregrounds the distorted perspective of one of the characters, transforms the public library where the story is set into a clammy tomb of terror. I got the fears!
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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10.09.2018
08:29 am
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Dangerous Minds interviews John Lydon: Forty years of Public Image Ltd.
10.05.2018
07:24 am
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Photo by Paul Heartfield, courtesy Abramorama
 
Whatever else you can say about the dread year 2018, it is a sumptuous buffet for the PiL fan. The Public Image Is Rotten, the first officially sanctioned documentary on the group, tells its story with the help of Jah Wobble, Keith Levene, Donut, Martin Atkins, Bruce Smith, Lu Edmonds, John Rambo Stevens, Big Youth(!), Thurston Moore, Ad-Rock, Flea, Don Letts, and numerous other members of the band, its circle and its audience; the new box set The Public Image Is Rotten: Songs From The Heart collects singles, B-sides, 12-inch mixes, outtakes, alternate versions, videos, and TV appearances from four decades of high adventure; and PiL will embark on the U.S. leg of its ongoing tour next week, starting in New Orleans on October 9. I spoke with John Lydon on the phone one morning during the brief interval between PiL’s European and American dates.

How are you?

Not as mentally ill as Tom Arnold, but doing alright! I watched his show the night before. Two episodes. It’s hilarious! I highly recommend it, but by God, is he just out there. Oh, space cadet! But highly entertaining, highly entertaining. And I suppose that was the point of it anyway, I mean, what do you expect from a comedian but comedy? Alright, anyway, that’s an aside; I don’t know why I brought it up, but ignore me!

How was the European tour?

Oh, very, very demanding. That was something like 39 gigs in nearly as many days, with two weeks in the middle to attempt recording our third album, here, since our reformation. So a lot of hard work, and a lot of promo for the documentary, y’know, the film that’s gonna be doing the rounds, and various like press things that have to be done in advance of gigs. Very, very demanding, really exhausting, and not at all the happy holiday we were expecting. Harder than usual times three or four. And any one of the issues we’re involved with, really, should be a full-time job. But there you go, that’s PiL for you! Moments of relaxation in an intense industry!

Where are you recording?

We went back to the Cotswolds in England. A studio we like, ‘cause we like grabbing that on-the-road, live vibe.

I saw the movie last night. At the end, Lu Edmonds says this thing—he’s talking about the band with [Magazine/Siouxsie/PiL guitarist] John McGeoch, and how things have changed, and he says you’re different now than you were then. And he puts it down to [manager/lifelong friend John] Rambo [Stevens’] influence.

How very sweet of him! Doesn’t anybody ever give me credit? [Laughter] Well, that’s Lu’s opinion; you’d have to ask Lu. Everybody was given an opportunity—I mean everybody, friend and foe alike—to say what they felt, and there it is, and that’s the combination of all those juxtapositions. Of course the band’s very different from when McGeoch was in it. We were again, at that time, enduring record company pressure, which is never an easy thing to put up with, which is what created so much instability in us. The rumor-mongering, all of it, you know, and just the sense of chaos, and trying to maintain any grasp of control, was extremely difficult. And Lu should know that, ‘cause he was one of those difficult people at the time! [Laughter] But through all of that, these are my friends, and we argue all the time about everything. But now look at us: we have a stability, we’re into the making of the third album. Fantastic. And it’s all without record company pressure, or them controlling the purse strings, which is what leads to arguments in the first place.

Well, one thing about the movie, seeing so much time compressed into an hour and a half—

I know, it could quite easily have ended up like War and Peace, but what’d be the point of that?

You could do a whole movie just on the drummers that have gone through PiL. Tony Williams—

[Laughs] It’s a lot of members!

I don’t know if it’s because of the precarious money situation or not, but maybe that made it possible for an amazing group of people to pass through the band.

Yeah, and some of them sorely missed, others glad to be rid of, and then of course there were the blackmailers: “Oh, if you don’t pay me extra, I’m not going to go on tour.” Y’know, that brigade. Very, very difficult times when I look back at it now. It’s like, Jeezus, how did I have the perseverance? ‘Cause there were definite times in PiL history where I thought, I just couldn’t take much more of it. The continual ugly pressure of having to maintain some kind of sense of stability in all this, it does wear you down.

By the time I got to, say, making the album Album, and a very young band I was with, put together quite a lot of the songs on Album with, they just could not cope with the studio, and I couldn’t cope with the budget we had, so I couldn’t afford to keep them in New York until they… got up to par, shall we say. And so put out phone calls, really, not expecting anyone to be too eager, really take anything that said yes, and just absolutely stunned and shocked with the quality of people that were more than willing to help on this album, and no squeak about money or anything like that. I tell you, that really changed my mind, it was like an affirmation that I absolutely needed at that point in my life, and I hope that comes across in the documentary. I’m not sure it does too well.
 

Still from ‘The Public Image Is Rotten’
 
Well, then there’s that story about McGeoch getting hit in the face with a bottle—

Oh, all that stuff! That’s nothing to do what I’ve just said, is it?

Well, the adversity you were facing.

Yeah, the adversity I’m particularly pointing out is inter-band-members, right? Some being ridiculously spiteful for no reason, and just continuing a negative approach in the ranks, and spreading all manner of, like, stupid lies. That kind of adversity. I had that in the Pistols, and I did sort of presume that that’s just the way all bands were. Well, I’m finding out in the making of this third and the previous two albums that’s not the case at all. We’re very, very, very good friends with each other. We have a sense of empathy. And that was always missing in the past. It’s always what I was seeking. But I suppose you can’t have a major record label in there, interfering. Interfering in the thought processes and the purse strings. ‘Cause adversity and animosity is what you end up with.

This is the longest stable lineup of the band, right?

Yeah! Yeah. Very noted. The second we were able to declare independence from any label, we set up our own outlet, and here we are now today. Stable! Financially risky, but bloody hell, is it enjoyable to wake up and know that you’re responsible for your own downfall, and not somebody else. A reward.

Can you tell me about the set you’re playing?

It’s one mostly the band picked, numbers that they enjoy doing, so there it is. And they flow well with each other, they jump all over the place time-wise, career-wise, but that’s fine. They connect somehow. There’s a flow in them. There are lines that interconnect. The thought process is there; it’s really just about trying to understand emotions. And that’s what Public Image do: try to understand. Try to understand each other, y’know? And make a bloody good effort at the rest of the human race. And I don’t suppose there’s any other way but through music to share those experiences and learn from them. One of the greatest things about this tour is the small venues we picked, because I can see eye to eye with just about everybody in the building, and that really helps formulate and solidify the songs into the emotions that they’re trying to express. It’s very, very, very rewarding. You can see it in people’s eyes when you’re hitting the right tones emotionally with them. It’s not like—we don’t do cruise ships or bar mitzvahs, I’m not standing there waiting for requests. It’s done on an emotional level. It’s fantastic. And all shyness, gone. I feel so confident with the people I work with now. There’s no sense of the temporary about it, and that’s a wonderful sounding board. Three albums, now, it will be, when this one’s done. That’s an amazing achievement for PiL! ‘Cause rightly or wrongly, earned the reputation there of never the same people twice. Not through choice.

I know the gigs are selling out. You had to change venues in Los Angeles.

You have to up it when it sells out too much, but there’s a limit to us. We won’t go into the ten thousands or the five thousands, not really interested in that, because you lose that emotional response. Or you can, but it’s like a harder struggle, and this is a struggle enough! And if we want to be celebrating our year, this is the way we want to do it. As I say, up close and personal.
 

 
So this box looks really wonderful—

Yeah, very proud of that. Yeah.

I’ve always been especially fond of your singles and 12-inches; I feel like you put a lot of care into those.

A lot. A lot. And using the highest quality recording we can, and also the highest quality materials we can, and to try and keep the price down. It’s a thing of love. That’s 40 years of work, there. I don’t want it to go out in a brown paper bag. Although I could the novelty in that too! [Laughter]

But I meant specifically your singles, all along it seems like you’ve put a lot of work into the singles and preparing special mixes for the 12-inches—

Yeah. Well, listen, pop music is my centrifugal force. I’ve always loved pop music, always will. Sharp simplicity, straight to the point. Sometimes songs I do can be longer than a single would need to be, and involve a hell of a lot more words, because you’re involving yourself in a hell of a lot deeper way, but both ways work for me fine. I do like the simplicity of pop a lot. And always those are the singles, they’re made for that. Not specifically structured as a single, but they happen, chance, in the way we record. There’s no rule book with us. If we’re involving ourselves in an emotion, we’ll involve ourselves fully, and that’s what each song is about, really. Trying to understand ourselves as human beings, and thereby, like I said, deal with the rest.

And there’s a proper version of “Kashmir” on there, too.

Yeah, which I was supposed to sing live! But I couldn’t, and I wouldn’t. I thought it would be sacrilege! Go to all the effort of recording it… which is a glorious tune, it really is, and Led Zeppelin I adore! Physical Graffiti is one of my favorite albums, and “Kashmir” is one of my favorite songs, and I didn’t want to bugger it up. We were gonna start live sets with that, but I thought I’d be letting it down somehow. I really don’t need to be competing with Robert Plant, there, I think he did an excellent piece of work, and there you go. All accolades to.

There’s a few unheard things, too, on this box set, and a lot of film footage.

Yeah, the TV stuff, all the TV appearances.

Yeah, which I thought would be nice for people to have, in one lump sum. And forever; not down to the whims of YouTube.

And better quality.

Oh, by miles, I hope!
 

Photo by Duncan Bryceland, courtesy PiL Official
 
That reminds me of something else. Watching the documentary last night, I’d heard there was video shot of the famous Ritz show—

[signal breaks up] because we were in charge of the cameras. That show was supposed to be us experimenting with their new camera technology, and, hello, one thing led to another, and before you know it, the world’s best soft riot took place! [Laughter]

So no video survived?

Well, there’s bits and pieces, but nothing that would make any sense.

Oh, ‘cause it’s all from your points of view.

Yeah, you know, from where we are, we’re behind the canvas. So you just see a canvas ruffle. There’s not much you can make from that. Another one of those Public Image moments where fiasco becomes something adorable and memorable. You know, a negative becomes a positive. Just the way it is, I suppose; we’re brave enough to take the situation on, and thank you all for noticing.

Yeah, the American Bandstand appearance is one of those moments.

Oh, yeah. My God, asking us to mime! Ha ha! To a song we improvised in recording, it’s like, wow, where do we begin with that? So we just ran wild, and it worked out to the benefit of everybody. Made for a better TV show.

Oh, it’s wonderful TV.

Even Dick Clark said so!

He did? He knew good TV, right?

Oh yeah, he had a list of all-time greats, and we’re up there. We’re well up there. Of all-time greats on his show. Lovely. Us and a bunch of mime artists! Ah, ha, ha.

Is it true, John, that “Annalisa,” a song that’s as relevant today as it ever was—is it true you saw that on a TV show?

Yeah, it was a real story about a young girl, in her coming-of-age early teens, and the parents, like, being far too religious for their own good, assuming she was possessed by the devil. And so in came the exorcist, and the end result was she was starved to death, really. It’s a really, really sad story, a true story. They put a film out of it a couple of years back, you know; I was a bit annoyed they didn’t approach us, ‘cause it would’ve been a wonderful theme for it.

Like a dramatic movie, with actors?

Yeah, like a proper film release, it was quite astounding. And horrific! When I watched it, it just brought tears to my eyes. You could see that this girl just didn’t stand a chance with that zealotry. Cold, indifferent parents, much more into their crucifixes than they were the life of their own daughter.

Sexuality is a strange thing to the religious. For my making [?], that’s what the root core of the problem was.

I imagine you’ve been following the Catholic abuse story with interest.

Ha, ha! All my life! [Laughter] Spent most of my life deliberately avoiding priests. Right up to day one in the Pistols, never even considered singing! I just thought, “No no no, that’ll get me back closer to the priests. It’s not what I want.”

Wasn’t “Religion”—

In fact, wrote “Religion,” a PiL song, while I was in the Pistols, but I knew they couldn’t handle it. Just another reason, really, to have to move on. But PiL was well-adapted to that sort of focus.
 

 
What can we expect in the near future? How far are you on this new record?

Well, we’re quite a few tracks in, but have yet to put vocals on any of them. There are many issues going on that are slowing down the work, one of them being a domestic issue that’s really, really challenging and frightening to handle for me at the moment. And it is coming right in the middle of all of this workload, so it’s, like, it’s taking its toll on me. It’s 24/7 having to be alert, and I’m having to find ways of stopping that. It’s very, very, very punishing, that’s all I can tell you. The second half, the American half, I’ll have to do that alone.

Continues after the jump….

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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10.05.2018
07:24 am
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‘Urban Struggle’: Classic documentary on Black Flag and the Orange County punk scene
10.03.2018
11:04 am
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The first show Henry Rollins ever played in the Los Angeles area as a member of Black Flag took place at the Cuckoo’s Nest in Costa Mesa, on Friday, August 21, 1981. It was a 3 p.m. show, as the flier above indicates. Black Flag were the headliners, with Wasted Youth and Circle One, two hardcore bands from the O.C., serving as openers.

Purportedly the location of the first-ever slam pit, the Cuckoo’s Nest was open from 1976 through 1981, and even that run was only possible because owner Jerry Roach was constantly in court trying to keep the joint open. Every L.A. punk band of note played there, as well as a large number of notable acts passing through (The Ramones, Bad Brains, Violent Femmes, et al.).

In 1981 Paul Young released a short documentary about the club called Urban Struggle: The Battle of the Cuckoo’s Nest. Much like the club, the movie has also had its share of turmoil in the legal system. In 2010 Young sued Jonathan W.C. Mills’s documentary We Were Feared, which is also about the Orange County punk scene.
 

 
An important aspect of the Cuckoo’s Nest was its hatred-fueled relationship with the bar next door, named Zubie’s, which catered to suburban cowboy-wannabes. The place actually had an electric bull! The intense fights between the Zubie’s shitkicker crowd and the punks at the Cuckoo’s Nest became the stuff of legend. The Vandals immortalized that conflict in a song called—not coincidentally—”Urban Struggle.”

According to Stevie Chick’s Spray Paint the Walls: The Story of Black Flag, Dave Markey filmed the show when Rollins made his SoCal debut and took some footage with his 8mm camera: “Everyone was like, ‘Black Flag’s coming, they got a new singer, some kid from D.C.’ Henry had gotten the Black Flag bar tattoos done the day of that show, and when you looked at his arm, you could see how fresh the ink was.” Unsurprisingly, the great photographer Glen E. Friedman was also at the show—any sweet b/w pics you find of Black Flag at the Cuckoo’s Nest come directly from him.

Urban Struggle: The Battle of the Cuckoo’s Nest is a terrific document of one of the country’s most important punk scenes. It features killer footage of Black Flag playing “Six Pack” (you can even see Henry’s new tattoo) as well as performances by Circle Jerks and T.S.O.L.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.03.2018
11:04 am
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