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Maximum Rocknroll #384 • May 2015

It's time for Maximum Rocknroll #384, the May 2015 issue! Despite what we told you ...

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Good Good Things at Vadenuevo Moron in Buenos Aires, March 16, 2015. (photo by Cristian Roma)

Monday Photo Blog: Cristian Roma from Argentina!

Cristian Roma returns to the Monday Photo Blog with some photos of recent happenings for you to ...

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MRR Radio #1446 • 3/29/14

LAYLA AND GRACE DESTROY MINDS AND LIVES ON THE DAILY. HERE IS THEIR MRR RADIO ...

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MRR Comics & Art Issue Artist Q&A with Juarma López

This month's MRR magazine is the Comics & Art Issue! Throughout March we are highlighting some ...

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MRR Comics & Art Issue Artist Q&A with Julien Dupont

This month's MRR magazine is the Comics & Art Issue! Throughout March we are highlighting ...

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Monday Photo Blog: James Rau


October 20th, 2014 by

This Monday Photo Blog is sort of like an archaeological dig into punk’s buried past. These photos come from James Rau, and I believe these photos exist as prints only, as the negatives are long gone. Four awesome crowd shots, plus one of San Jose’s great Ribzy, taken in Palo Alto, CA, in 1986.

Kid being launched onto the stage, New Varsity Theater, Palo Alto, CA, 1986 (photo by James Rau)

Too happy to be punk. Jason Drummond of Ribzy, New Varsity Theater, Palo Alto, CA, 1986 (photo by James Rau)

Slam dancing in Palo Alto, CA, 1986 (photo by James Rau)

Stage diver at New Varsity Theater, Palo Alto, CA, 1986 (photo by James Rau)

Crowd at New Varsity Theater in Palo Alto, CA, 1986 (photo by James Rau)

Send your tour photos, bands that have come through your town, the best of your local bands, etc. to: photoblog {at} maximumrocknroll(.)com. 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!



Create to Destroy! Sam Lefebvre


October 15th, 2014 by

CreateToDestroyLogo

MRR started as a radio show but is mostly known as a written publication.  I’m unsure if many of its contributors who write often or periodically consider themselves writers, but I consider Sam Lefebvre a writer.  In addition to MRR, Sam has been published  everywhere from our local papers to major magazines. I wanted to know more about what he does outside of our seemingly insulated world of writings from the underground…

Have you always been a writer?
Sure! I remember entertaining the idea of becoming a writer when I was a kid. Then I lost a spelling bee. The defeat rattles my writerly self-image to this day. I wrote a Russian alcoholic story in fourth grade, a psychosexual analysis of Dr. Strangelove in fifth grade, and a paean to the wind in sixth grade. Somehow, I have yet to exhaust embarrassing writing topics, thus my focus on punk.

SamLefebvre

When did your writing mix with music such as doing zines? What zine are you currently working on?
I wrote lyrics in my early teens, notably a conceptual protest opus about Karl Rove for my first band, and started a zine when I was about seventeen. I felt inspired to make a zine because nothing like that was happening in my peer group. The impulse sprang from a void. I worked in a record store, consumed music voraciously, and felt possessed to try to express how songs made me feel and examine them in their cultural context, which is the same thing I do today.

My main zine project is Degenerate (aka Etrenegade/Degenetrenegade/ Appendegenerate), though I prefer to call it a “mag” and tend to think of it as more of a persisting sickness than a “project.” As an ongoing endeavor, making Degenerate is equal parts self-harm, penance, exercise in writing style, and feverish outpour.

How’d you wind up getting involved at MRR and Alternative Tentacles?
I discovered MRR at the Che Café in San Diego, where I’d take the bus to from the suburbs a lot. On visits to the Bay, I’d call MRR HQ and come over to green tape records. Mariam Bastami encouraged me to move and become a shitworker. Before moving, I also went and saw Jesse Luscious play in his then-reunited Gr’ups and interviewed his bandmates. He mentioned that he ran Alternative Tentacles, I stayed in touch, and he offered me an internship once I moved. I haven’t volunteered at AT for years, and only contribute to MRR sporadically nowadays, but those opportunities initially inspired me to move.

How did you start writing for the SF Weekly and East Bay Express?
A friend passed a copy of Degenerate to the music editor at SF Weekly, who got in touch and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing a concert. I started contributing to the East Bay Express to diversify my outlets, where I became the music editor earlier this year, which ended my Hidden Agenda column and contributions at SF Weekly.

How’d you wind up contributing to Wondering Sound, Spin, and Consequence of Sound?
I pitched to national outlets because contributing to the weeklies mostly limited my scope to local music. Amusingly, one opportunity came after I felt like a well-known publication poached some of my reporting and angle on a local artist for their own story. Instead of getting mad, I reached out and pitched.

SamLefebvre_degenposters

How do you feel about bringing the underground to the masses? Do you feel that you’re doing any of the bands you cover a disservice by inviting people who are more mass consumers into the mostly non-corporate DIY world you cover?
What an accusation!

The traditional under/above-ground musical divisions are increasingly flimsy, definitely in the eyes of what music writers decide to pitch. Beyond that, once a recording is released, it’s severed from the artist’s intentions and enters into conversation with the surrounding culture. That’s the case for punk and pop and chip music. I try to engage in that dialog. I write about other genres, but punk is particularly resonant with me on an emotional and physical level, so my coverage skews towards it.

About doing bands a disservice, no. I actually don’t have that much power. Bands disservice themselves by acting foolishly.

As far as the “more mass consumers” bit, I don’t think we should pretend that punks somehow consume less or with more discernment than non-punks. People who just download pop music use a lot less plastic/paper/oil/trees than people whose apartments are full of records.

One of the coolest things about punk, to me, is that it reveres collective, ritualistic activities, like shows. Punk shows can be these amazing environments for celebrating deviance and momentarily subverting the power dynamics that mar the outside world. But a rare balance of venue, people, and sound is needed to make that happen. When punk shows are full of tourists, they’re less likely to tap that potential. I don’t think my writing has invited many tourists into punk shows; regardless, I hope that it has extended conversations instigated by punk to tourists.

These questions have an air of “what we do is secret” ho-hum. Recently, I interviewed a seventy-some-year-old theater organist. He’s played his entire life. He’s never been recorded. He performs with his back to the audience and doesn’t turn around. He’s always the opener. What he does is secret. What punks do is ego-driven and flayed on Tumblr, just like any other niche sort of music. It’s cool that punk retains regional character and homespun scenes despite that, but let’s not be precious.

What zines do you read?
I like some zines because they look great, others because I discover new things, and others because they have provocative ideas. As for recent publications, issues of Distort, Accept the Darkness, Ratcharge, Nuts!, and Make-a-Mess have combined all of those qualities. Honestly, I mostly read magazines lately. While I’ve never been very interested in perzines, I have tremendous respect for writing and self-publishing as a way for people to tell their story in their own words.

What music writers do you follow? 
To paraphrase Cranked up Really High, an unjustly ignored book about punk by Stewart Home (who’d maybe prefer to be plagiarized), I tend to reject the list as an organizing principle. I’ll take this opportunity to recommend Fvck the Media, which sort of falls outside both the zine and music writing camps, The Quietus for essays, and Collapse Board, where I look for good contrarian takes on hip bands.

How can we best keep up to date on your writing?
Well, I have articles basically every week in the East Bay Express. My freelancing activity varies, though I have pieces appearing in Wondering Sound pretty consistently, a site I recommend in general. Otherwise, I’ve capitulated to the usual social media platforms.



Create to Destroy! Earhammer Studios


October 1st, 2014 by

CreateToDestroyLogo

Greg Wilkinson is an integral part of the Bay Area scene, which is fragmented and has its own scenes but is definitely connected. He looks like a wizard and he is easy to spot — you’ll know who he is when you see him. At his Earhammer Studios, Greg records bands from all the facets of the local scene. I thought I’d interview him for Create to Destroy as he recently recorded a band for my label here in Oakland. Here is the Evil Wizard of Rock…

What bands have you been in?
Current bands: BRAINOIL and DEATHGRAVE; and former bands: LAUDANUM, LANA DAGALES, I WILL KILL YOU FUCKER, PHT, CHRONICLES OF LEMUR MUTATION, JOHN THE BAKER AND THE MALNOURISHED NOTHINGS, GRAVES AT SEA (for a short stint), and many others…

Earhammer_Greg_CtoD_4

Who has recorded your bands, past and present?
Dan Rathbun, Noah Landis, Kurt Schlegel, Mykee Burnt Ramen, and myself (most recordings I’ve been involved with engineering).

How did you start recording bands?
To make a long story not too unbearably long, in my early teens I had a Magnavox stereo with an instrument jack. I would dub a bass line or something with a mic onto a tape. Then put that cassette into the play side of the tape deck and record that and another layer onto another tape on the recording side. Then switch tapes and add more. Obviously, this sounded pretty much like a wall of crap, but it was enough to pique my interest.

Then, I think it was in ’92, I wound up with a Yamaha 4-track cassette recorder I borrowed from a friend of the family. Soon after, I was hooked and convinced my band at the time (a short-lived band called HOLLOW that did nothing) to purchase a Tascam 4-track. A year later I ended up buying a Tascam 8-track, which I would use to record not only my own bands demos but some friends bands as well (mainly recording in my parents house, friends houses, garages, or whatever we could find).

The machine was used and abused aimlessly recording demos, mainly of bands I was in. This lasted a good grip of years until ’98. At the time, I was in LANA DAGALES, which was a two-piece project. We decided to go to school for recording. We were living in Jackson Street Studios, a defunct rehearsal space in downtown Oakland, at the time and therefore jammed a lot. By this point I was becoming really disenchanted with the limitations of the machine. Accessing better gear would really help LANA DAGALES stay DIY while achieving documentation to our liking. During this time, we tracked demos on the Tascam for EXIT WOUND who was comprised of Jason of STORMCROW and LID TOKER, Rubin of CRUEVO, Jake of BLOWN TO BITS and NEUROTOXICITY and Melony. INSIDIOUS at the time was Jensen of IRON LUNG, Sal of ASUNDER, Jason, Seth of SKAVEN and DESTROY JUDAS and Melony.

In the school, we tracked our second demo, which became our first 7″. In ’99, as an alumni, I was granted access to the school’s facilities and recorded the FLESHIES and BRAINBLOODVOLUME (pre-LAUDANUM). Shortly afterwards the school disappeared, which is a fascinating story in itself. I then began tracking at Burnt Ramen on Mykee’s 1″ Tascam while building up a setup of my own in a painfully slow fashion. Eventually, by the time Earhammer started, there was a decent amount of bands I had the honor of working with.

What was the first band you recorded and where? What equipment was used?
My own band, called GENISORE, I believe was the first actual band I recorded that played shows and made tapes. The aforementioned 4-track and cobbled-together mics of the cheap-to-free variety.

How important is mastering for vinyl?
Extremely!!! Can’t emphasize this enough!

I feel the same. It drives me nuts when things don’t get mastered properly — it sounds like garbage! What advice would you give to someone wanting to start recording their own bands or bands in general?
The awesome news is getting a decent recording setup requires less space and sounds way better than it did in the early ’90s (or even the early ’00s) in the base level market. As the old adage goes, “Just get out there and do it!”  Never forget that learning is mostly discovered through failure. Your first recording will most likely be like your first guitar riff. Somewhere between horrible and passabl,e but in no way a waste of time and effort. It’s a building block. Don’t be disappointed if it isn’t a masterpiece. If the recording comes out bad, you will have at least learned something to apply to make a better run the next round. Too many young engineers believe too strongly in post-production, which is dangerous. Crap in will usually turn into crap out. So if it doesn’t sound right before pushing record, there won’t be too much you can do to improve the sound. The best result you can hope for is, “Well, at least it’s not as crappy as before!”

What’s the best way to sound proof a room and get the acoustics right? Does this matter?
It does matter a lot, but there are books about this subject as it is a very complicated issue to tackle. Budget (tuning a room can run thousands and thousands of dollars), available square footage, proper tools, and knowledge are all factors that can get really expensive, especially when done properly. On the slightly affordable side, YouTube has tons of lessons on building diffusers that work pretty well, for DIY communities to help control reflections in your room. Soundproofing requires mass of different materials and space (like building a wall inside a wall is a common example and more high end places even get into suspending rooms). Read the rest of this entry »



New Blood! LILAC DAZE, GRUMP and WEBCAM TEENS


September 18th, 2014 by

MRR magazine’s popular “New Blood” section is now a regular feature here on maximumrocknroll.com! See below for info on how to submit. Now, get to discovering some killer new shit…

Band name:
LILAC DAZE

Date & location formed:
We became a band in December of 2012 in Frederick, MD.

Reason for forming:
Evan and Matt had been in bands together since they were 14 years old and were in between projects at the time. After receiving a book on Riot Grrrl, Patti began learning bass and started jamming with Evan and Matt. Within a month, the band gained momentum and started playing house shows in our hometown.

Lilac Daze

What are your lyrics about?
All three of us contribute lyrics to the band. We usually write about anything from the trials and errors of growing up, finding happiness, and maintaining relationships to guinea pigs and beer.

How would you describe your sound?
We play jangly alt rock with a crunch. Our songs are largely influenced by the music we grew up on. We incorporate elements of punk rock and ’80s and ’90s alternative rock mixed with modern up-and-comers. We filter out all the bullshit and leave you with pure goodness, like a Brita filter.

What is the future for this band?
We plan to continue releasing music, and want to tour more and meet cool people. Hopefully Matt won’t have to make pizza 5 days a week.

Links and contact info:
facebook.com/lilacdazeband

lilacdaze.bandcamp.com
lilacdazeband {at} gmail(.)com

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grump logo

Band name:
GRUMP (questions answered by Marshall)

Date & location formed:
Grump formed in February 2013 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Cody and Ian had been jamming a bit before then, but I’m pretty sure it was February when Luke and I joined.

Reason for forming:
Boredom, I guess. I don’t know, same reasons anyone starts a hardcore band—not really anything better do to.

grump_newblood

What are your lyrics about?
My lyrics are mostly just free association of whatever I’m thinking or reading about at that time. I collect lines in a notebook and try and jam them together based on a related theme. The usual tropes—alienation, thought control, etc.

How would you describe your sound?
Chorus pedal punk weirdocore.

What is the future for this band?
We’ve got a short tour of Eastern Canada planned. After that who knows. Maybe a record or something, more touring. No concrete plans yet.

Links and contact info:
grump.bandcamp.com

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WebcamTeens_logo

Band name:
WEBCAM TEENS

Date & location formed:
We formed in Tallahassee, FL and played our first show in August ’11 at the Farside Collective, which was a DIY spot some of us in town helped to open and run for a while (RIP).

Reason for forming:
We started playing together after other bands some of us had played in broke up for one reason or another. We’re all at different stages in our lives, but being in a band with your friends is a good constructive release for lots of pent up shit that we all deal with, the rigors of life, nothing unique.

What are your lyrics about?
Our songs are about crooked politicians and leaders, life punching your ass in the gut, nothing making sense ever, motherfuckers who like to hear themselves talk and talk and talk, scenelords, drunk punks, the end of the world dance party, our creeping technological doom, bad business arrangements, spinning your wheels, killing yourself, the importance of saving yourself, and letting go of everything. Most of them rhyme.

WebcamTeens_by_KateDecosmo

Webcam Teens (photo by Kate Decosmo)

How would you describe your sound?
Fast and straight ahead. But we’re on some now you see us, now you don’t shit. Tesco Vee fronting a sped-up Feel the Darkness era Poison Idea.

What is the future for this band?
Hopefully pressing wax and writing new shit. Contact: Our first demo/EP tape was released on Spirit Cat tapes. Our songs are free at webcamteens.bandcamp.com.

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Do you have or know of an awesome new band? It’s easy to submit to be in MRR’s New Blood feature. Just send us the following info, and keep keeping’ it real…

1) Band name:
2) Date & location formed:
3) Reason for forming:
4) What are your lyrics about?
5) How would you describe your sound?
6) What is the future for this band?

Along with the answers, please send a band photo at least 600px on the longest side (with photo credits), a logo if you have one, and links and contact info for the band to: mrrnewblood {at} gmail(.)com



Show Review! OTDEL SAMOISKORENENIA live in St. Petersburg


September 17th, 2014 by

Soviet-era anti-establishment band ОТДЕЛ САМОИСКОРЕНЕНИЯ (Department of Self-Eradication) played their first show ever this summer. Here is a report from by MRR contributor Alexander Herbert.

Otdel Samoeskrenenia

Otdel Samoeskrenenia

When I told a group of modern punk rockers that I was headed to St. Petersburg to see the first show of OTDEL SAMOISKORENENIA (OS), they all looked at me as if my accent was pronouncing something incomprehensible. OS formed in 1982 before Gorbachev introduced Pepsi, McDonald’s and other symbols of Western modernity (or mediocrity) to the country. In fact, ’82 caught the tail end of Brezhnev’s years, in which censorship and anti-Western bullshit was reinforced by Yuri Andropov’s love affair with state discipline and propaganda. With lyrics as straightforward as “Reagan and Andropov fucked all of Europe from both sides,” OS fell victim to that censorship in 1984. KGB agents seized, interrogated and threatened front man Fedor “Feddy Begemont” Lavrov before the band ever had a chance to set foot on a stage.

But in 2014 they managed to book their first show, in a symbolic club called “Kamchatka,” located across the Neva River in St. Petersburg. When the band formed in 1982, Kamchatka was a boiler room in which Russia’s most famous frontman, and friend of OS, Viktor Tsoi worked and practiced with his entourage, KINO. The walls inside the venue are lined with portraits and busts of Tsoi and punk ledgend Yegor Letov from GRAZHDANSKAYA OBORONA (Civil Defense), who are commonly thought of as the USSR’s first major punk rockers. The historic occasion, coupled with the venue attracted punks both young and old who wanted to recreate the atmosphere of Leningrad’s early punk scene.

I was born in the USSR / And I am aware of the country I have to live in / Values are renewed but the system is the same / And it’s against the self-governing of citizens.
—Feddy Lavrov, OS

With former members of AVTOMATICHESKI UDOVLETVORITELI (AU), NARODNOE OPULCHENIE (NO) and more, the OS lineup was a powerhouse of Soviet punk rock veterans. They played a number of songs that spanned the subgenres of punk rock — ’77, pop punk, hardcore, and politically charged songs loaded with lyrics that recant the unique psychological struggles weighing down on the Soviet Union’s disenfranchised youth. They opened the gig with their theme song, literally translated to “Department of Self-Eradication,” which became a repeating montage throughout the set, reinforcing the point of redundant, overextended state departments in the band’s former country. The hits of the night included “Voennaya Monarkhiya” (“War Monarchy”) and a song that predated the advent of Russian hardcore called “Voiny dlya Voinov” (“Wars Are for Warriors”). OS also played covers of AU’s “Utrennichek” and Brigandy Podryad’s “Chuvak v Kaiv.”

Feddy’s enthusiasm on stage, his joking and talent made him seem like little less than a veteran punk rocker retaining his teenage angst and dissatisfaction with the system that cut short his band’s success. Rather than falling into the trap of washed-up nostalgic showmanship that some older musicians fall into, Feddy, Andrey “Yurskii” Chernov, and Gosha Solov’ev still kept the set fresh and relevant. Feddy even changed the lyrics of one of his songs to address the current political situation in Ukraine. All musicians, from the axe carrying veterans to the young drummer Kirill Pavlovskii (MURAV’EDY, SEGODNYA NOCHYU) played these songs like they were never forbidden and forgotten. In fact, the show was so successful that Feddy is looking to bring the music elsewhere.

Watch the whole damn show right here!