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MRR Radio #1571 • 8/20/17

Fried Egg swung by to scramble our feeble minds.... Intro song: FRIED EGG - Teeth SAM RICHARDSON THE LANDLORDS - Stigmata LSD - Kill SHOTGUN SOLUTION ...

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Table Sugar (photo by Max Keyes)

New Blood! TABLE SUGAR, ECHO PEOPLE, ZEK, SECURITY, and SIMILAR ITEMS

“New Blood” is our weekly feature spotlighting new bands from around the world! See below for info on how to submit. Now, ...

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MRR Radio #1570 • 8/13/17

Layla devastates and dismays with new sounds for old people/old sounds for new people. Intro song: THEE HEADCOATEES - Gotta Get Inside ...

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New Blood! UNSUB, E.D.S., CHEAP SURGERY, NEOPHOBE, PÄÄSTÖ, and ANTIBODIES

“New Blood” is our weekly feature spotlighting new bands from around the world! See below for info on how to submit. Now, ...

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Period Bomb

MRR Radio #1569 • 8/6/17

The world is scary and shit is fucked but MRR Radio charges forth and continues to give you hope through ...

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Monday Photo Blog: At the Factory with David Ensminger


September 17th, 2012 by

David Ensminger, zine editor, punk historian, and a few other things I may be forgetting, returns for another  Monday Photo Blog. This time reporting in from Lufkin, TX, which is in the “rural outreaches of East Texas”, at the DIY, all ages space, The Factory.

Social Bliss at The Factory in Lufkin, TX on May 23. 2012. (Photo by David Ensminger)

Social Bliss at The Factory in Lufkin, TX on May 23. 2012. (Photo by David Ensminger)

Crowd at the Factory on May 23, 2012. (Photo by David Ensminger)

No talk in the 80s!! The Hates at The Factory, May 23, 2012. (Photo by David Ensminger)

The Rusty Shacklefords at The Factory, May 23, 2012. (Photo by David Ensminger)

Send your tour photos, bands that have come through your town, the best of your local bands, etc. to: . Include your name, a link to your website (or flickr, Facebook, or whatever), and the band (or subject), date and location of each photo. Just send your best photos — edit tightly. Three to seven photos is plenty, and it’s best to send pictures of different bands. Please do not send watermarked photos. Please make your photos 72 dpi and about 600–800 pixels at the longest side. Not everything sent in will be posted, and a response is not guaranteed, but we do appreciate all of your contributions. Feel free to submit more than once. Thanks!



Monday Photo Blog: David Ensminger


January 23rd, 2012 by

David Ensminger, former editor of Left Of The Dial, is also responsible for interviewing some heavy hitters for this very zine. He’s also handy with the camera as I learned this weekend when I opened the email he sent over for this installment of the  Monday Photo Blog. Below are four photos from the recent Visual Virtriol in Houston, TX. Two nights of punk from the Houston, New Orleans, and surrounding vicininty held at Super Happy Funland. If you’re interested, David also has a book of punk flyers titled Visual Vitriol: The Street Art and Subcultures of the Punk and Hardcore Generation available here.

Busy Kids, from Houston. (photo by David Ensminger)

The Drafted, from Baytown. (photo by David Ensminger)

Vivian Pikkles, from Houston. (photo by David Ensminger)

Sparrowhawk, from New Orleans. (photo by David Ensminger)

Send your tour photos, bands that have come through your town, the best of your local bands, etc. to: (note new email address!). Include your name, the band (or subject) in the photo, where and when it was shot, and a link to your website (or flickr, Facebook, or whatever). Just send your best photos — edit tightly. Three to seven photos is plenty, and it’s best to send pictures of different bands. Please do not send watermarked photos. Please make your photos 72 dpi and about 600–800 pixels at the longest side. Not everything sent in will be posted, and a response is not guaranteed, but we do appreciate all of your contributions — and feel free to submit more than once. Thanks!



Blast From the Past: The Fix


August 11th, 2015 by

This originally ran in MRR #319/Dec ‘09 which you can grab here

Can’t Fix This: The Brutal Urgency of The Fix

fixred

 

Hailing from Lansing, MI, a college town full of copycat, run-of-the-mill, faceless rock bands, The Fix were a blunt concoction of raw power stolen from the “Gimme Some Skin” era Iggy and Stooges and the dirty Midwest diatribes of the Dead Boys squeezed into ferocious two minute songs at dizzying speeds. In 2006, Touch and Go re-issued their long lost singles Vengeance and Jan’s Room (both released in 1981), along with demos and live tracks, to the hurrahs of hardcore enthusiasts. This interview with singer Steve Miller, who is now a journalist, took place in September in Houston, Texas by David Ensminger.

 

MRR: Did you see the Fix as carrying forth the legacy of proto-punks like the MC5 and Stooges?

Anytime you grow up in a place like Michigan, it’s just part of your life. You’re used to being weaned on bands like the Stooges and the MC5, so it’s more cultural than it was musical. If you are going to play music, it’s probably gonna have an element of that stripped down, unpolished feel to it. Plus, you’re going to shows. In a lot of areas, people had to wait for the Ramones to come through to really start the bands. The saying was, the Ramones would play a town, leave, and five bands would spring up in the next few months. It seemed like in Michigan we had been going to see shows at these raw-ass places since we were kids, so when you did get around finally to starting a band, it was part of your spirit – that raw edged, beat the shit out of your instrument kind of thing. So, it was really pretty natural.

 

MRR: Were those people around at all still?

When, we started, it was about 1980, so yeah, Destroy All Monsters (Ron Asheton) was playing around, I believe the bassist from the MC5, Michael Davis, was in that for a time. So, you’d see these guys. Obviously, they were sort of heroes to us since we were little kids, so we might say something, but it wasn’t like you were going to go, “Dude, you were sweet in the MC5” or something like that. You’d just see them and say, hey, that’s the dude from the MC5. I remember doing a show in Ann Arbor and seeing Ron Asheton there. Everybody knew him. We wouldn’t talk to them much.

 

MRR: Did you travel much to see shows?

We lived in Lansing. When I was a kid, we traveled to Detroit all the time There was the Masonic Theatre, the Ford Auditorium, and earlier on the Michigan Palace. I remember seeing T. Rex and ZZ Top at the Michigan Palace during the Fall of 1974. We showed up, and we saw T. Rex open. We were all there for T. Rex, and ZZ Top came out, and they had cowboy hats on, and we were like, “Fuck You.” We left. That was the kind of shit we were up to. But yeah, you’d go see Blue Oyster Cult in a small place half-full. All that raw shit would come through. So, we traveled all the time. But by 1980, not so much, because a lot of that arena rock shit was pretty dead.

 

MRR: Do you remember any leftover student radicalism during that time?

Nah. We were getting into that 1980s kind of thing. Two of the guys in the Fix were students. Craig was the kind who would spout a slogan once in a while. We’d all look at each other and say, “What the fuck did he just say?”

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Blast From the Past: Really Red Part Two! U-Ron Speaks


July 23rd, 2015 by

This originally ran in MRR #326/July ’10, which you can grab here

Deep South Punk Legends from Ozone City:

U-Ron from Really Red!

By David Ensminger

 

While flying home from Portland last weekend, where I lectured about the need for a greater understanding of Mexican-American gravesite traditions (no, they are not landscapes of trinkets, they are spiritual culturescapes), I flipped through a mid-1990s MRR that included multiple angry letters to the editor about Mykel Board, the magazine’s perennial “straw dog.” Today, I read angry letters denouncing my March interview with John Paul of Really Red, which I prefaced by explaining that punk was a wide umbrella genre with an inclusive community. If we denounce him with a purge befitting Stalin, then we should throw out our records by the Dickies, Dag Nasty, Bad Brains, and the list goes on. I support the editors. In today’s saturated media environment, easily entrenched political slogans and platitudes on CNN and punk blogs act as substitutes for authentic discussion and discourse. The real danger is smug self-satisfaction.

When they offered to re-print my 2005 interview with U-Ron, I approached him about openly releasing his email to me, too, in which he explains his reaction to the article, (the email can be found in the letters section of this issue). I do not seek to fissure the band’s relationship with each other. I seek to explore the multiple perspectives (even multiple truths) that occur throughout the history of most punk bands. As a reader of MRR since the winter of 1984, I feel more dedicated than ever to its efforts because it is willing to engage, not pretend, and to incite, not recite. Flex your head.

 

 wrex

 

MRR: From Lightnin’ Hopkins to Roy Head to Townes Van Zandt to Steve Earle to ZZ Top (OK, Dallas should get some credit, too…), and even Kenny Rogers, Houston has been the home to a myriad of artists. When you started listening to music in Houston, were you at all aware of the city’s rich musical history? What was local music like when you were growing up? For instance, Steve Earle sings of Telephone Road and the gritty honky tonks…

First off, it is very flattering to be asked to do this interview 25 years after the release of Really Red’s first LP. It’s even odder that Empty Records wanted to re-release it 25 years after the fact. I’m pretty stunned. Really Red never thought that we would be remembered three years after we broke up. All that said, I have no idea who in the hell would want to read this, but at the risk of being totally boring I’ll try and give you the best answers I can. I have to point out that this will be my perspective and recollections. In no way should any of this be taken as reflecting the opinions of Bob, John Paul, or Kelly, the other three former members of Really Red. They might remember things in a whole other way. Maybe no one will care about or remember these people and places, but they were all involved in Houston’s formative punk scene in one way or another, and they do deserve to be mentioned. This is about a scene that is long gone, but it took a lot of brave and unique people to make it happen. They deserve credit. I appreciate the chance to give it to them and to tell our story.

When I moved from Canada to Houston in the 9th grade, I knew very little at the time about any Texas music. By time I was in the 10th grade, I started going to see live music. One of the greatest bands that I ever saw was The 13th Floor Elevators. They were amazing. A bunch of working class acid heads from East Texas who shirked any trappings of being wannabe rock stars. They were drenched with acid mystique, and when they weren’t too high to play, they were like a damn hurricane. They were playing their own brand of psychedelic punk. They were one of the greatest and strangest bands that I’ve ever seen. I still love them and still listen to their recordings.

I met Kelly Younger around that time. We formed a band with Andy Feehan, and some other guys, called The Lords. We played these community center teen dances. The Lords, only played covers. Hit singles and the like. At least we did album cuts of the Velvet Underground, Rolling Stones, Animals, Yardbirds and Love. We thought we were pretty radical because we refused to wear uniforms, and most other groups did. Most bands only played known radio hits and we played album tracks. You have to remember this was before FM radio started playing album cuts. With few exceptions, radio only would play the selected single. There were other interesting bands doing some originals, but not too many at that time. Everything was so restricted and stifled. I remember at one gig some older asshole stepped up and sucker punched Andy because he had yelled, “Fuck it!” in frustration about something. It was ridiculous.

Later, Andy Feehan and I started hanging out in the psychedelic clubs. You could go there underage because they were not serving alcohol, just lots of weed being smoked. We saw the 13th Floor Elevators playing at 2 and 3 AM. We saw bands like Bubble Puppy, the immensely underrated Children from San Antonio, The Chessmen of Dallas (the Vaughan brothers), and we got to see Sam “Lightnin” Hopkins a bunch of times. It was an excellent introduction to live noncommercial music.

The Lords broke up before I finally got kicked out of high school for “subversive political activity” and I left my parents’ home. My “subversive political activity,” by the way, was nothing more than being very vocally against the damn Vietnam War. I was on a Houston Independent School district blacklist. They were out to get kids like me, and they finally did. It happened to a lot of kids. High school was an Orwellian nightmare. It was really an eye opener. Once you see the lies exposed, it is impossible for anyone to stuff the genie back in the bottle. After high school I moved into a big house with Kelly and a crew of crazies, and it was a time of lots of live music, experimenting with acid, weed, and beer, nothing too different from the rest of the world. Kelly and I met up with John Paul around this time.

After a few years of working shit jobs and staying stoned Kelly, John Paul, and I ended up living in a series of old houses in the Montrose district. Kelly got hit by a car, and as a result of the insurance settlement he bought these huge Orange amps and some guitars and stuff, and we used to get fucked up and try and make original music. We sucked, but we had a lot of fun. We would go out to the Attics Dam area and pick shopping bags full of Texas psychedelic mushrooms. It was wild. You would wait until after a good rain and go out to the cow pastures there and pick all you wanted. People would have these mushroom parties. Crazy crazy times.

By this time the psych clubs were long gone and the local live music scene began to really suck. There were touring bands all of the time, but the local rock and roll music scene had dried up due to lack of club and radio support. Everyone who was on tour came through Houston in those days. I mean it. But a lot of the Houston clubs had a preference for cover bands only if you were local. It was fucked up. Austin had the Cosmic Cowboy thing and Houston had cover bands, kicker bars and pre-disco DJ clubs. It was a bleak time for local rock music.

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Blast From the Past: Really Red PART ONE


July 23rd, 2015 by

This originally ran in MRR #323/Apr ’10, which you can grab here

It’s Not Just Entertainment: The Legacy of Really Red

 

Although well admired during the 1980s, Really Red seemed to slip into the dustbins of punk history while Texas acts like the Dicks, MDC, Big Boys, and others maintained steady appeal. The Houston band’s mix of jittery art rock, furious and frenetic punk, and homegrown free jazz bursts were uncanny and unique. My own band the Texas Biscuit Bombs, with Randy “Biscuit” Turner formerly at the helm, still covers the chilling tune “Teaching You The Fear.” When Biscuit sung, “Try to love another man, get yourself shot dead,” the emotion was raw and heartfelt.

In Left of the Dial #7, I ran a lengthy interview with U-Ron Bondage, the detail-driven, roar-voiced singer. For this interview, I wanted to present a different point of view. People turned their heads down when I mentioned John Paul Williams, the politically conservative bass player. I thought punk was an umbrella genre big enough for Dave Smalley and Jello Biafra. When I asked Really Red drummer Bob Weber (who didn’t want to be interviewed) his opinion, he was upfront and unapologetic. Talk to him: the politics shouldn’t dissuade you.

The members of the band have been very generous, providing me vivid ephemera, which I made available to the public at: www.reallyredtx.wordpress.com. If you have materials that you could contribute, or would like a copy of Left of the Dial, please drop me a line at: leftofthedialmag at hotmail.com. In the meantime, rumor says that Alternative Tentacles has Really Red re-issues lined up!

Intro and interview by David Ensminger

 

MRR: John Paul, tell me about your roots in the Texas punk scene.

John Paul: We start with me being kicked out of Boys Harbor in LaPorte, Texas in 1969 for sneaking off and refusing to be disciplined. I had been on the boxing team and told the director that I would hit him back if he thought he would give me “pops.” The director was an ex-heavyweight boxer from Germany, and he could’ve have really kicked my butt. The form of discipline was to lean over his desk, and he would hit you as hard as he could with a paddle made of wood. Y’know, a custom job that had holes in it so it would make a wooshing sound before it hit your butt. It was not unusual to draw blood during disciplinary sessions there. I had spent most of my youth incarcerated but not because I was a juvenile delinquent. My family lived all over the world, including Iran, and my father walked away from eight kids.

johnpaul

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