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

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Top Tens from MRR #388 • September 2015

By popular demand, we present our reviewers' Top Tens from the current issue of Maximum Rocknroll! Here are ...

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Record of the Week: Basement Benders

Record of the Week: Basement Benders

BASEMENT BENDERS – “Native Tongues” EP Sometimes when you hear that a handful of your favorite ...

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Monday Photo Blog: Sergey Seregin

Sergey Seregin submitted some pictures from this summer's Raw Fest in Moscow for this week's ...

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MRR Radio #1468 • 8/30/15

This week MRR Radio and Rob bring you a covers-versus-originals battle, a label spotlight, '60s ...

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Blast From the Past: The Homostupids

June 24th, 2015 by

This originally ran in MRR #307, December 2008, this issue is sold out

In the few years the Homostupids have been around, they’ve grabbed the harrowing task of deconstructing rock ’n’ roll by the balls, diving head first into a tiff with our venerated verse/chorus/verse conservatism, asserting themselves as perhaps the best purveyors of an entirely counterintuitive brand of aggressive music that they haven’t even gotten their heads around yet—in the process paving their way to leaving a pretty significant stain on underground punk of the ’00s. This interview was conducted at Steve’s marvelous summer home after a night of burgers and bowling in the mistake by the lake. Tape recorder in one hand and mixed drink in the other, this is what became of our discussion of Cleveland’s finest. Now go out and buy all their fuckin’ records. Intro and interview by Brandon Gaffney.


MRR: So, the Homostupids. A lot of people like you guys, despite your always insisting that you’re a real shitty act. Any thoughts? Are we a bunch of retards?

Steve: I think you are a retard. How do you like that? Our band is great. Of course a lot of people like our band, our band is very good. All of our records are better than most other bands’ records.

MRR: Last time I was in Cleveland you told me that your band’s forte is the dialectic of simplicity and complexity, that they’re one and the same. Fingers connected to the same palm—you know, all that LSD bullshit. You think it’s people’s ability to paint their own understanding of such simple, caveman music?

Steve: Hang on there, I was supposed to call our guitar player Josh when we started the interview. Hang on a sec and I’ll put him on speakerphone so we can all talk. [speaking into phone] Hi, Josh?

Josh: Lemme call you back.

Steve: Alright, forget that for now. What were you asking? Something about LSD, right? Stay away from the stuff. Bad for your body. How does the song go? “Don’t do drugs, be a hero not a zero, drugs are no good, get ’em out the neighborhood.” Is that what you’re talking about? ‘Cause that other shit you said doesn’t make any sense.

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Blast From the Past: Brilliant Colors

June 20th, 2015 by

This originally ran in MRR 319 / December 2009 you can pick it up here

Brilliant Colors was formed in 2007 by Jess Scott, inspired equally by old Postcard 45s, the Shop Assistants, and early ’80s San Francisco lesbian separatist punks, Wilma. Several line up changes ensued, documented by two 7”s on the Make a Mess and Captured Tracks labels, but now the line up is final, with Jess on guitar and vocals, Diane on drums, and Michelle on bass. There’s a forthcoming LP on Slumberland which is worth investigation if you are intrigued by that mysterious post-punk girl sound… Plus Michelle is the touring guitarist for the Slits!
Interview by Layla Gibbon.


MRR: Brilliant Colors has existed in various forms for a while now, and this current line up is the first time it has really felt like more than just the Jess Scott experience-do you wanna talk about the many mutations of Brilliant Colors?
Jess: I’ve been at a computer for eight hours, then had a tall boy. I’m not exactly at the mental peak right now. I guess there’ve been a shit ton of people. Two or three bassists, two or three drummers…

MRR: So you’re basically Spinal Tap
Jess: Yeah. We got together, me and Michelle maybe a year ago, and Diane came just after New Years of this year. All of our recorded stuff so far is from the two original people, from late 2007, so it’s actually pretty old. Now there’s new stuff, which features this line up.

MRR: Do you feel like…
Jess: No. I don’t feel.

MRR: How do you feel about the older line-ups compared to now?
Jess: It was just really random. It was just my friends, whoever was around kind of, and then…

MRR: Did you write together?
Jess: No, I have always written everything until now, I feel like we’ve moved beyond that now. But basically I wrote songs, then I got a band together. I finally found people who wanted to play music more than like, “Spring Break!” or whatever.

MRR: All of you have been playing music for a while, what was the first band you were in, or more how did you start playing music?
Michelle: The first band I was in was in New York with my friend Phil, who was in this band called the Nurse, and Matt who plays in Matt and Kim now.
Diane: You could be famous right now!
Michelle: I could be famous! We all got boyfriends and girlfriends, and then the band broke up. Then I came out here and played in this band…


MRR: But you also play in the Slits right?
Michelle: Yeah
Jess: Don’t be modest-you are in the Beatles right?
Michelle: Jen and Shell from Shellshag set up a tour to South by Southwest with them, and the Slits’ guitarist backed out at the last minute, so they called everyone that they knew that played guitar, and I was the one that said yes. Suckers! No, seriously, that sounds mean. It was actually really fun, it was stressful but it was fun—it wasn’t like a tour I’d ever done before. Normal tour for me is sleeping on floors, eating out of dumpsters, rather than like staying in hotels and having a per diem, showering… Sitting in a car, navigating with an iPhone…
Jess: This was in the seventies right? (Laughter) Speaking of which, I saw this thing online, where you can listen to music, last.fm, I don’t know what it is, but I was trying to find Brilliant Colors videos from this fest we played. So I clicked on this page, and people had left comments, “Listening… Don’t like!” and someone had left this comment, “Wow you guys look really good for being from the early ’80s.” I was trying to think of what they could be talking about, Brilliant Corners maybe? I was laughing, like how could someone possibly think something like that, I wasn’t even born then. It must be the hair gel…

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Blast From the Past: Necro Hippies

June 19th, 2015 by

This originally ran in MRR #324, May 2010 which is out of print.

Necro Hippies bring angsty middle school notebook scrawlings to life, blasting the dust off your snotty hardcore records into the eyes of the Internet Age. Stinging proof that not only did punk never die, it was born again yesterday, fully formed as the straight-ahead assault they bring, forged out of the slag heap of the eighties and nineties, equal parts fuzzy sludge and Fizzy Lifting Drink. Drawing their vital alienation from the boozy nether-regions of New Orleans’ Bywater, from the slime at the bottom of the bus-tray, the stray onion ring that saves the day, they hate their jobs, but they will continue to do them for as long as rent’s due; for now, for changing your order, they hate you. Half of them have Germs tattoos. Guess who.

Interview by Nathan Tempey

MRR: Candice, where are you from?

Candice: Arizona.

Chris: That’s a lie.

Josh: I’m from Florida.

Chris: I am from Mandeville. (white people stronghold across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans)

MRR: Woah. (laughter)

Phil: Those are my problems… (laughter) Mandeville.

Chris: Slash Slidell

Phil: I’ve lived in New Orleans for twelve years.

MRR: Yeah, you can say from New Orleans.

Phil: New Orleans.

MRR: Nah, you’re from the North Shore.

Chris: He’s from Mandeville.

Phil: From New Orleans.

MRR: More or less. And how did you all come together as a band?

Candice: Phil was my manager.

Phil: I worked with Candice in, uh…

Candice: The application asked what magazines I read and I wrote that I like to read Maximum Rocknroll…

MRR: For what job?

Candice: For a job at Urban Outfitters. (laughter)

Josh: And Chris was my roommate at the time. He started drumming for them and told me they needed a bass player.

Chris: Phil and I had been playing for a long time before Candice came in.

Candice: And we started out with Phil on drums. And I was playing these weirdo songs.

Chris: It worked out ‘cause I’m a really bad guitar player.

Candice: No you were playing bass, I was playing guitar.

Chris: Oh, yeah. No you’re a bad guitar player, that’s what it was.
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Blast From the Past: Raymond Pettibon

June 18th, 2015 by

This originally ran in MRR #304/Sept 2008 which you can pick up here


photo: Layla Gibbon

The interview started with me walking into his studio and realizing I had left my question sheet in my bag in the kitchen. I was intimidated already and felt super under prepared so I just started rambling about the magazine. Maybe if I had been less nervous and actually asked the questions I planned to rather than resorting to an elaborate five-questions-rolled-into-one confused-sprawl interview style this would have been more focused. So it’s more of a random conversation than an incisive Q and A session. Disclaimers in the introduction? I was so nervous I barely asked about his artwork!

Interview and photos by Layla Gibbon.


MRR: …The way the magazine works, there are two people that are in charge of getting content together, but then some kid in Malaysia can write a scene report about local punk and we would run it. We do have editorial control and there are things we don’t cover, we have a very strong stance in regards to…
Raymond: You keep a strict separation between editorial and the business part of culture, except you run ads.

MRR: (Laughs nervously) I like how strict it is in keeping certain values intact, like we’re pretty much non-profit at this point, and I am sure if we broadened our view we could make a lot more money than we do. But then I like figuring out how to operate in such on such narrow terms, it almost opens up possibilities because you have to figure out how to do things that other magazines probably don’t even have to think about. The nature of the magazine is that you have to be your own boss. There’s no one to tell you what to do, and you have to motivate people to help you do random shitwork, or to contribute content to the magazine with no monetary rewards you know? It’s made me think about the nature of work and free time. Also it makes me happy it’s existed for so long on its own terms.
These books I am making for Wendy, they kind of come from fanzine culture, they have a price on the cover but they sell for so little I am basically giving them away. I like the idea of that. Typically it’s around rock music or comics or films, ham radio, these things that are a labor of love first of all.

I was talking to a collector yesterday about collecting fliers. One of the things I like so much about punk culture is that it’s very disposable, things disappear and get replaced. I was thinking about this in terms of what you do, it seems like at the time when you were producing your fanzines they had a different value to what they have now. Now they’re precious collector objects, but at the time they had a different meaning, they were made in a different context…
Right, they’re precious objects now for one thing because there weren’t that many of them produced. The idea wasn’t to make collectors items, or precious objects. That sort of thing is done all the time now. A first edition of Superman is worth… I mean you’d have to have a first edition of the bible to rival it now, because they were ephemeral and not considered something worth saving at the time. And that is something that’s true about the fliers I did and others did. The way it played out to where they are collectable and now valued at much more than they were in the first place, that was never a surprise for me. I knew enough about… I had a sense of history about it. At the same time it wasn’t the reason that I did them. I still have some of the original fliers for Black Flag that I made. At the time I tried to persuade them to save at least seven or ten of each one for me, and that wasn’t always possible or agreeable to them I suppose.

I mean they’re worth money, but I’ve never sold one you know? But I probably have a different take on the marketplace than Maximum Rocknroll does; to me, it’s more like a given, an act of nature. To try to avoid it, to manipulate it, to co-exist separately from it is an invitation to become co-opted. I guess “sold out” to use terms that one would be familiar with in punk. I’m the least engaged with the marketplace as one can be. It’s against however I was born and bred, rather than an ideological function. Once I do the work, and it leaves my hands, it’s going to be assimilated into the marketplace and I don’t think that’s a bad or terrible thing either. But I can’t be personally responsible for anything beyond making the work, beyond that, what happens to it, who the hell knows. It’s almost like magic, beyond the bounds of physical laws. For all I know they disappear. There’s a lot of questions and dishonesty in that world.

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Blast From the Past: Red Dons

June 17th, 2015 by

This originally ran in MRR #301, June 2008 which you can pick up here

Interview by Paco La Vida en Mus
MRR: Red Dons is the continuation of The Observers. Doug wrote most songs for The Observers and now does in Red Dons. Can you explain how The Observers came to an end and how Red Dons got together?

Douglas: All I can decipher about the demise of The Observers is that our friendships simply fell apart and so the band quickly followed. Sadly, I don’t know all the specific events that lead to the end of the band because I was never included in discussions about breaking up the group. A few days after the guys quit, I asked if they would record two final songs that Kashani and I wrote together. They voted not to and that made it difficult for me to find closure with the project.

It put me in a unique and unfortunate situation. Being the main songwriter and lead singer of the group, I was encouraged by a large number of people to find new members and continue on with the band. The Observers were my life, and I was caught off guard by the others leaving, so I seriously considered reforming the group. I just wasn’t ready for the band to end.

Hajji and I started practicing Observers songs with our first drummer, and Justin came along later after we had worked a little with other guitarists like Adam Becker of Autistic Youth and Defect Defect. Ultimately, we changed the name because after practicing together and discussing ideas for future recordings, we realized the group had taken on an identity of its own. Coming to that point was a yearlong process where we endured defamation and were ostracized in the punk scene. It wasn’t a fun time.

What’s interesting is that the Red Dons are a project that in theory predates The Observers. Hajji and I had been discussing and planning this ever since 2000 when we lived together in college housing. Back then, the Red Dons were intended to be a side project that would only release 7″s. Each 7″ would feature different musicians from various backgrounds making each record diverse in sound and style. We even had a power pop 7″ written and ready to go. For example, in 2002, after I moved back to Portland from Germany and Hajji from Jordan, we started working on Escaping Amman. The design of the record, its artwork, and the song “West Bank” are all products of that time period before The Observers even formed.

With that said, however, the Red Dons identity has changed because of The Observers. Now, the Red Dons aren’t a conceptual side project because they do act as a continuation of The Observers. Some of the original ideas we had for the project have remained, though. One of our main objectives is that the band acts as a sort of collective much like Crass did. With people free to come and go as they please, the band can still collaborate with musicians we admire as well as play whatever we’d like to. It is a way to destroy the rules of punk and frees us up to do many different things.

RD_Live_4 Read the rest of this entry »