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Lydia jams some of her 2015 obsessions and then some

MRR Radio #1481 • 11/29/15

Lydia goes solo, has a nervous breakdown revelation and decides to flee the country. ...

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MRR's first fest in almost a decade! Still Not Quiet on the Western Front fest ...

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MRR Radio #1480 • 11/22/15

Amelia, Amanda & John Khan bring you the very best in punk with the jingle ...

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Mollot (photo by Mackenzie Burgess)


“New Blood” is our weekly feature spotlighting new bands from around the world! See below for info ...

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RIP Dickie Hammond (with HDQ)

MRR Radio #1479 • 11/15/15

This week Matt and Lena play mostly new stuff they're digging, as well as a ...

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Blast From the Past: John Morton

October 12th, 2015 by

SPECIAL JOHN MORTON EDITION! Below you will find an interview that James, the impresario behind Violet Times did for Maximum Rocknroll in 2011, if you want the authentic newsprint feelings you can grab the issue #337 right here.

Since this majestic interview took place a few exciting developments in eels/mortonia have developed that the psychotic minds that are drawn to such ideals might want in on… x___x have a new record coming out! ON the illustrious SMOG VEIL label… Someone unearthed a live JAZZ DESTROYERS set which you can listen to here, fans of Dave E vocal stylings rejoice! You can also send off for John Morton art via his amazing website. I drink coffee out of an electric eels mug daily and it has increased my satisfaction twenty-fold. You can get a post card set! You can also read a great interview that Alex Ratcharge, MRR columnist and arts issue editor, did with John Morton for Ugly Things here.


There’s been much written about the musical exploits of the early 70’s Cleveland, Ohio band known as electric eels (yes, lower case as per lead vocalist Dave E’s intention) over the years, some of it true even. The band deservedly looms very large in under-the-counterculture sound circles and I strongly encourage anyone reading this to seek out their music, read about their exploits in a pre-punk world if you haven’t already done so. The liner notes to the 3×10” vinyl offering on Scat Records “Those Were Different Times” are a great place to start, w/ plenty of other stuff out there to read as well. One could even be justified in calling them the very first ‘punk’ band, whatever that means- if nothing else they remain to this day one of the most intense sounding and unique. After all of these years, it very much still is artastic.

In honor of his inclusion in the Violet Times curated art show, Foggy Notion, I decided it would be a good time to find out about some of band leader John Morton’s other little-known doings over the years, specifically his visual art and other music he’s done post- eels.


MRR: I’ve been told that only about 100 people total ever saw electric eels, would you agree and care to elaborate on their reaction/s, if any? Especially at the two Columbus, Ohio shows, pre- Extermination Night, where the other performers Mirrors & Rocket From The Tombs would at least be of a non-mainstream music making mindset, also making their own music of a sort not yet known or accepted by the mass ear. What about the non-members of those bands, just ‘regular’ audience members- who the heck were they, why’d they show up and what’d they think? (not presuming you know why they were there, etc. but just saying)

John Morton… 100 sounds like a plausible number. Our fan base, consisted of persons made up of people (who like people) who knew us, such as Bradly Field, Charlotte Pressler, other like-minded band people, such as Dan Didonato and Peter Laughner, at least understood what we were attempting. Family members such as Jill Marotta & Michele Zalopany, well they had to like us.

Our first gig was August of 1974 at the Moonshine Co-op in Columbus. We had the power pulled on us (I’ve heard that that is not a unique occurrence with punk bands, but there were no other “punk” bands at the time.)

We opened for “Hard Sauce” fronted by Jamie “Little Bit of Soul” Lyons. Jamie had one of the best set of pipes I ever heard. Davey and I were arrested that night. I remember every detail. Dave E. wore a trench coat festooned with rattraps, and I wore a safety pin jacket. Jamie bailed Dave E. out of jail. Our career? All downhill after that.

We thought the eels were going to be a huge success on a par with David Blowie (meant affectionately). WE WERE NOT!

I am gratified that we’ve had a modicum of post mortem success.

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Threat by Example. An interview with Martin Sprouse by Martin Sorrondeguy.

October 6th, 2015 by

This originally ran in MRR #291/Aug ’07. The 25th Anniversary Issue which you can order here

All photos courtesy of Martin Sprouse.

OK, Martin, why don’t you start off by talking a little about yourself—tell me who you are and how you first got into punk.

My very first exposure to punk was in 1977. My next-door neighbor was an art student, and he became punk overnight—like crazy Sid Vicious punk—overnight. I had just seen something about punk on the news, and all of a sudden one day he shows up—he’s got a punk rock girlfriend, a Sid Vicious look head-to-toe, messy hair and spiked jacket and harnesses and boots—the whole Vivenne Westwood type of thing. They looked amazing, like the most outrageous thing in the world. He played some music for me; I didn’t understand it at all. I was just a skater kid, and I was just thinking, “That is the most fucked up thing I’ve ever seen.” But it was also cool, because he was the nicest guy in the world. This had to be ’77. So that was my first exposure, and I had a positive impression of it, but I didn’t understand it at all. It was just too crazy. And I was probably just a little too young to get into it, you know? Later on, when hardcore came out in the early ’80s, it all made sense. It was kind of connected through skateboarding. Punk and hardcore kind of fused for me, being young and in Southern California where everything was happening. It was like, “This is it!”



Where did you grow up?

San Diego.

You got into hardcore when hardcore pretty much started, so what was your first show? What was that experience like?

It was a local San Diego show, just San Diego punk bands.

Do you remember who played?

No. I remember seeing Black Flag early on, and that was life-changing. It was crazy. Southern California was really violent at the time, but we were young, so it all kind of made sense, but at the same time it was really sketched-out, you know? So it had this crazy energy, really exciting, really underground, really small, really young, youthful, violent. Rebellious in all the right ways. You know, when you get older, you over-think everything, everything’s theory and process. This was full-on energy, Southern California hardcore punk rock. It was scary too, but in a good way. It just defined you immediately. Everyone that you were friends with didn’t like you anymore, you know, because you were a “punk rock faggot.” I think that was my name for most of the rest of high school.

1984 Leading Edge crew

1984 Leading Edge crew

When did you start Leading Edge zine—how did that come about?

A couple of us who grew up together, we all got into punk and hardcore about the same time. It just sort of happened; it was very spontaneous. We weren’t really the fucked-up kinda kids, we were all skater kids. We didn’t really become the stereotypical early-’80s punk rock asshole guys. We immediately became friends with people that put on the shows, we started reading the little underground xeroxed fanzines, we became friends with the bands. It became a natural extension for us to do something. We’d go to LA and get these fanzines from all over the place and that’s how you’d learn about everything. So immediately, it was like, “We should do it,” once we started going to LA. We started Leading Edge in like ’82 or ’83. It was a while after we’d seen some shows. The first issue must have come out the summer of ’83.

Why did you do it?

Just to do our own thing. It was obvious to us…’cause San Diego had the military there, so a lot of punk guys were in the military, it had the violence, a lot of drugs, a lot of fuck-ups, y’know? It just had a bad reputation. There were a lot of fights in LA, but there were twice as many fights in San Diego. It just sucked. Out natural extinct was not to be a part of that. We didn’t want to be the stereotypical SD “Self-Destruct,” “Slow Death,” fight-starting, maybe shaved-head, junkie thug, beating everybody up. None of that had anything to do with us—but we liked the energy of the hardcore scene. There were also a lot of young hardcore bands that weren’t part of that; younger bands that weren’t doing stupid shit, but still playing really fucking great hardcore. They kind of identified with us and vice versa, and we started a fanzine that would represent that, while at the same time respect all the other stuff that was going on. I wasn’t just focused on skate punk or straight edge punk or positive punk, we were covering bands from all over.

84 interviewing Tim for L.I

84 interviewing Tim for L.I

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Blast From the Past: Coke Bust

September 15th, 2015 by

This originally ran in MRR #314/July ’09. which is now out of print

Coke Bust is a Washington DC hardcore band whose music draws primarily from mid-’80s European thrash, a la Heresy and Ripcord, as well as the better corners of the youth crew genre, creating a sound that brings bands such as Scholastic Deth or Betercore to mind. As an open-minded yet firmly identified straightedge band at a time when having such ethos (or having any ethos, really) is at its most uncool, they dig deeper than the usual slogans and trappings of “straightedge hardcore,” writing songs that take on topics such as the less obvious outcomes of drug and alcohol culture, as well as the lesser-known implications of the “war on drugs,” including the US-backed aerial spraying of coca crops in South America. Their output so far includes their demo 7″ that they’d rather you pass over in favor of their Fuck Bar Culture 7″, and they are also releasing an LP titled Lines in the Sand, which will be out by the time that you read this. They’ve also planned a six-week US tour in July. Nick does vocals, Jeremy plays guitar, Jubert plays bass, and Chris spreads himself pretty thin but never slacks on his drum duties.

Interview by Dan Goetz.

MRR: How exactly did the band get together? Nick and Chris, I know you two were in Griptape a few years earlier…did Coke Bust form so you two could play in a band together again?

Chris: Nick and I did play in a band called Griptape when we were in high school. After that band broke up Nick started another band called Bail Out!, and they played for a little while but me and Nick always liked playing music together, so it was inevitable that we’d start another band.

Nick: For a time, Parsons, Chris, and I were jamming and we couldn’t find someone to play guitar, so Parsons suggested Jeremy. He was this older guy in the scene who had already been in a bunch of bands. We didn’t know him that well, but we knew that he was a nice guy and liked good music, so we asked him on a whim, and it turned out to work out great.

Jeremy: Parsons came up to me at my previous band’s last show and said that he was jamming with Nicktape and that it was going to be short, fast hardcore punk and asked if I wanted to do it. I had nothing going on so I said, “Yes, let me know when you guys want to try to get something together.” A couple of months later Parsons called me, so I showed up and we wrote three songs in one day!

MRR: How’d you find the new guy?

Nick: Well, our old bass player, Parsons, wasn’t able to play in the band anymore due to the fact that he was living in Richmond, Virginia [two hours south of DC] and I think he had a lot on his plate. So I was at a show that Jubert [the new guy] was at and he was like, “Hey man, you should let me play bass,” and he came and jammed with us. He rules. He’s still in high school, too!

Jeremy: It wasn’t working out with him, and it was pretty mutual. He wasn’t making the commute and contributing as much as he used to, so we just kind of all decided separately that it’d be best to part ways, so we found ourselves without a bass player, and someone mentioned Jubert’s name and that he was a good bass player.

Nick: And he’s straightedge too.

Jeremy: Yes, he fit the criteria.

MRR: What are some of your influences, including some of your less obvious ones? How do you go about writing songs? The first 7″ alternates between youth crew and Heresy-sounding stuff, and I can catch hints of Bail Out! and Magrudergrind, while the second 7″ has a more cohesive, fused-together sound that always struck me as a more youth crew Scholastic Deth.

Chris: I think that from the beginning, we had a general idea of what we wanted the band to sound like. We all kind of came to practice and were like, “We all like Heresy; we want to start a really fast hardcore band,” and I don’t think it was really a coincidence that the band was straightedge. I think it was all in the back of our minds when we were getting together, and I think we actively sought out other people who were straightedge to be in a band. DC has a long history of straightedge, and there really aren’t that many straightedge kids in DC, or at least when we started the band, and there’s not a “straightedge” scene in this area.

Nick: We just wanted to play fast, and we wanted to have a youth crew edge, because we all dig that shit too. Jeremy?

Jeremy: I would say from the beginning, it was in the back of everyone’s mind that we wanted to play fast. I can speak for myself with all the riffs, ideas, and songs I brought in that I think we were just kind of feeling each other out, so I don’t feel that the first record had a terribly cohesive sound, whereas I know on Fuck Bar Culture we kind of knew what we wanted to do. We’d already done a tour or two together, so we were more comfortable playing and it just came out that way. It needed to be a little more pissed sounding than the last record, so we just upped the ante on ourselves.

Chris: Can I also note that our first 7″ was supposed to stay a demo. We made like 100 CD-Rs with crappy folded inserts for our first few shows, and we made some tapes, and it was supposed to stay like that, but Bobby Egger from Headcount Records insisted that the demo go on 7″. I think that was the stupidest idea ever. [laughter] But we still love you Bobby!

Nick: Those demos we made for our first show were some straight-up Crayola-lookin’ joints.

MRR: That makes sense. I’ve noticed in listening to the Cycle of Violence songs [that would eventually be for the LP], it almost seems like you’re expanding on both parts, like it’s split apart again, but the songwriting is definitely improved in both the youth crew parts and the thrashier parts.

Nick: Yeah, that shit is cool.

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Blast From the Past: The Petticoats

August 20th, 2015 by

This originally ran in MRR #312/May ’09. which you can grab here
Stef Petticoat is best known for her pioneering, one-woman punk band, the Petticoats. As a German lesbian, Stef also stands out with her entirely unique approach to the blossoming late 1970s European punk scene. Her self-recorded, self-released Petticoats single was “Record of the Week” on the BBC’s John Peel show in 1980. As the ’80s progressed, Stef also formed the groups Necessary Evil, Amy and the Angels, 69 Lies, and collaborated with Robert Crash. Her trailblazing methods have proved successful in even more fruitful ways—with almost three decades of music, Stef Petticoat’s story is one that illustrates the diverse history of punk.
Interview by Jess Scott
MRR: Let’s start from the beginning: how did you originally get into playing music? What kind of music were you first attracted to?

Stef: According to my baby book I was singing constantly before the age of two. I have no recollection of this. I always liked music. When I started school I learned to play the C Alto and Tenor recorder with the Youth Music School—classical music. When I was about 13, Beat music started. I really liked the Beatles and Rolling Stones, and desperately wanted to learn to play guitar. But my parents said no and I had no money. After I had pestered them for a year they finally gave in and I was given an acoustic guitar for Christmas and had lessons. Unfortunately, the teacher and my parents insisted I learn classical guitar, as this would be the basis for pop music. Later a friend showed me a few chords and I have not really progressed from that! After Beat, of course I was a hippie and loved the Grateful Dead, Frank Zappa, Jefferson Airplane, etc. And I really liked the Velvet Underground! I grew up in the bourgeois ’50s (I am now 59!) and already as a hippie I felt “out of the system.” But it was punk that really made me think, “This is the best music ever and this is what I want to do!”


MRR: How did you make the jump to being in punk bands then?

Stef: This is all so long ago! I hope I remember it all. After I got infected with punk (in 1976 I think, when I traveled to London and New York City), a friend (male) who was a singer in a band suggested I try it out. I started singing Patti Smith songs with a friend who played the piano. I had bought the Patti Smith songbook in New York and loved it. Then I tried to find a band who wanted a singer, but this turned out to be very difficult. I worked in Aachen at the time and spent my weekends in Bonn (where I used to live).

I auditioned for bands in the Aachen, Bonn, and Cologne area, but they were all boring male rock bands who had never heard of punk. They thought I was too wild and my musical ideas too crazy. So I thought, well, if I really want to make the music I like then I have to go to London or New York! I packed my bags and went to London. The bands I auditioned there were just as boring—what a disappointment! Finally, one day at the women’s arts alliance, one woman told me about someone she knew who might be into the same music as I—and she was! It was Zuni (who is now a student of ecology in New Zealand). She and I hit it off right away. She played the drums and I bought an electric guitar and sang. We found a bass player, (who left shortly after to continue her university studies, so we found another), and an additional guitarist. We called the band Necessary Evil. We wrote songs and played a few gigs, but the other guitarist was a very strong lesbian feminist separatist. I refused to sing her songs, which were only about killing all men. She decided she did not want to play shows for men anymore—but I did! We had a lot of arguments. The other band mates took her side and decided to dissolve the band. This was a great shock to me. After a while I became friends again with Zuni, and the bass player, Trish, who now is a gardener.

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Blast From the Past: Limp Wrist

August 14th, 2015 by

Interview by Brontez

MRR: Do you remember the first gay punker you knew or saw or made an impression?

Paul:I didn’t know any gay punkers. I didn’t know very many gay people let alone punks.


MRR: You can’t remember a first one? I know it’s a hard question; the first one I met was a bitch, so I don’t really count him

Martin: There was one in Chicago who I met when I was into the scene already. He was really cool; his name was Mark Ruvolo—he was in that band No Empathy, and he does a label called Johann’s face. I remember talking to him, and it was pre-me coming out of the closet, me being, “that’s cool man, that’s cool that you’re gay.” I was trying to talk to him, and we’d always see each other at shows, he was an older punk, and he’s still around. I thought that was really awesome. I remember having a conversation with Dan Vapid from Screeching Weasel about what he’d do if he saw two guys making out at a show, and this was pre-coming out, and he was like “I don’t know it’d be kinda weird.” I said if people came after them I would defend them. We were talking about this, we had this weird conversation—I was like why can straight punk kids make out at a show and not queer punk kids. I had discussions with people. But I think the first person I could really have a coming out picture with was Mark Rovulo.

Andrew: In Philly there was this group called the Cabbage Collective that put on shows at the time; this was the early to mid-’90s, where there were lots of people sitting down at shows watching bands thrash around and stuff. It was a little weird sometimes, but they were very into being non-aggressive, women friendly and gay positive, so they created this atmosphere that was accepting. I don’t really know how many gay people were there, but there were other people that were out, like Shawn Gustilo who had written stuff for the Give Me Back comp back in the day. He would be around, and he was gay—that was when I was nineteen or twenty, that was when I had just kinda come out too. So I didn’t know anyone before that. That’s for sure.


MRR: I wanted to ask y’all that for obvious reasons, but I also was thinking about the first time I heard about you guys. I had just moved from Chattanooga to Bloomington to be with my boyfriend, and Bloomington was a town where people left their front doors unlocked, and this other gay dude came in the house to re-steal the Limp Wrist record he had loaned to my boyfriend but he didn’t know we were there and then we had a threeway.

Martin: I remember getting letters from you Brontez.

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