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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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Reissue of the Week: HEX Poison In The System: The Demos LP

Reissue of the Week: HEX Poison In The System: The Demos LP

HEX – “Poison In The System: The Demos” CD If you liked your punk, the UK ...

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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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Read a Book! A Wailing of a Town

September 25th, 2015 by

A Wailing Of A Town: An Oral History of Early San Pedro Punk and More
Craig Ibarra
344 pgs • $20
End Fwy Press

Yet another punk related oral history. Can the collective punk bookshelves take another addition to the seeming endless array of “I was there” sprawl? Has punk overtaken the hippie nostalgia frenzy? The answer to both of those questions is yes! I would put this book up with Lexicon Devil, another oral history about SoCal punk, as one of the best encapsulations of the mechanics, dysfunctions and excitements of a punk scene I have read. A Wailing of a Town shows the other side of the coin. The kids who didn’t run away to Hollywood, but rather stayed in their working class Southern California harbor town and made their own music and constructed their own idea of punk and community out of what they had. Lexicon Devil was ostensibly a biography of Darby Crash, but it somehow felt more like Crash was the fulcrum for a sprawling documentary report on the growth, power and dysfunctions of LA punk. This book is an oral history of San Pedro punk, and D. Boon, the city’s favorite son, ends up being the heart and soul of the narrative. Where previously published punk oral histories have put across the hip/cool actions of the cognoscenti (Please Kill MeWe Got the Neutron Bomb, etc.), this one really communicates the true inspiring and powerful force that is getting caught up in underground DIY and making something on your own terms.

While I was reading this someone asked me if it was “a Minutemen bio”—since clearly nothing else of note happened in Pedro punk in this person’s mind! One of the cooler aspects of the book is that while the Minutemen rightfully get a huge chunk of the chapters devoted to their sound and ideas, the other people who shaped a scene are given as much weight, from supportive non-musical punkers who were there to witness events or took on the background shitwork through to the wild performance artists. You really get a sense of how the San Pedro take on punk emerged from the town and how it was shaped by the different economic and geographic realities. The different voices and perspectives in the book—the macho nihilistic surf jocks, the feminist working class women of color—all give this work a true feeling of representation, and make it a fun and wild read.

The fact that the Minutemen were one of the guiding forces of the Pedro punks meant that people looked at them as examples, and as a result started their own weird bands and made their own record labels that only put out their friends’ weird and/or generic bands. It was a constructive and encouraging scene, despite endless harassment from cops and jocks and angry anti-punk locals. The feeling that you get from listening to the Minutemen, the rough and tumble warmth in with the cold hard truth, really reflects the scene that they came up through and helped invent. On the evidence of this book, the creative, expressive and radical power embodied by their sound, from the crazed inventive music through to the impassioned lyrics, the needs of the working class and the power of Coltrane are endorsed with equal authority, shaped the San Pedro punk idea as one quite distinct from other Southern Californian scenes. Speaking of which, the chapters on Saccharine Trust are easily worth the price of admission. Paganicons is one of the wildest and most interesting LPs SST ever released, and despite the fact that many punks now revere Saccharine Trust, it still feels like they somehow haven’t gotten their due. It was really inspiring and sometimes hilarious reading about how they formed and the ideas behind the songs, the evolution of the band and their disparate poetic, Dada, No Wave and be-bop based influences.

Punk is a visual and visceral culture, and this book does a great job of putting across the aesthetics, the sights, scents and ideas of the random assortment of people that were drawn to it. The flyers, the fanzines, the insane apartments that intentionally resembled surrealist hamster cages…They had shows in the infamous repurposed Church featured in Decline of Western Civilization I, a German themed village hall that sounded like a weird Euro-Tiki bar-like space complete with a rotten waterfall and ski lodge like ambiance, a repurposed theater which also had avant-garde dance classes. You get a sense of the danger from violent audience members imported from Orange County and aggressive anti-punk locals and of course, the cops, all of which is such a part of the narrative of Southern California punk. You also get a sense of the creativity and resourcefulness of the Pedro punkers in figuring out how to work around all that aggression and darkness and make a scene work.

This book is one of the best accounts of punk I have read, the interviews and excerpts are exhaustive and cover the nihilistic and constructive, the intoxicating and the mundane. Its somewhat homespun aesthetic is misleading; this book was masterfully edited by Craig Ibarra. So many perspectives and takes on different events weave together to create a powerful, emotional narrative, it was an unputdownable ride—I read this from cover to cover in a mad consuming frenzy, but had to leave the last few chapters, the ones about D. Boon’s death, to read when I was alone at home, as I knew it would be devastating. It was. Reader, I wept. Unlike most artifacts from the past where it seems like all the cool stuff happened without you, in some other untouchable dimension, A Wailing of a Town ultimately makes you want to create something new and worthy in your own town and scene.
—Layla Gibbon

Reissue of the Week: Conflict

September 24th, 2015 by

CONFLICT – “Last Hour” LP
If there were any justice in this world, punks would think Tucson, Arizona, not London, England, when they heard the name CONFLICT. The superior American band released a demo tape and a single LP in the early ’80s and the record gets the reissue treatment here, complete with a deluxe 40-page booklet. This is absolutely essential for all fans of classic USHC—think the thrash of early TSOL with intelligible MacKaye-esque vocals overtop, except now Ian’s called Karen and she’s a queer Japanese-American woman singing about things a hell of a lot more important and interesting than straightedge and post-adolescent disaffection. Not that there’s anything wrong with anthems about being merely out of step—some of the greatest punk songs ever written are about nothing more than that!—but at a time when being a hardcore band in the United States meant being anti-Reagan and anti-establishment seemingly by default, the political specificity of Karen’s vitriol must have been refreshing. She wrote lyrics about human trafficking, nuclear war, femicide, and her lived experiences as a psychiatric nurse, a woman, and a minority, always direct and never preachy. The flyer reproductions in the enclosed glossy booklet reveal that CONFLICT played with everybody who came through Tucson—BLACK FLAG, HÜSKER DÜ, DIE KREUZEN, DEAD KENNEDYS, MINOR THREAT, DOA, CRUCIFUCKS, MEAT PUPPETS, the GUN CLUB, and TOXIC REASONS, to name just a few. This group should be a household name like the rest of them, but as we all know, history is rarely just. Also reproduced are two interviews with the group from the archives of the greatest punk fanzine on the planet (ahem), one done in their heyday and the other ten years after their dissolution, conducted by the late great Lance Hahn. Comes with a lyric sheet and photo insert. Get it. (GA)

(Puke N Vomit)



Create to Destroy! Stuart Schrader

September 23rd, 2015 by

You may have heard the name Stuart Schrader before, as he did Game of the Arseholes zine. This was a highly respected zine in the “rawer” punk scene which you may have inferred from the title which references ANTI-CIMEX. He has done countless interviews, some of which have appeared in MRR such as MISSBRUKARNA and MELLAKKA. Oh, and don’t forget the ANTI-CIMEX archive! I am hoping for a re-issue of his zine, but for now here is an interview (by Amelia Eakins):
How’d you discover punk?
First, thanks for the interview. I appreciate the Create to Destroy! feature because I think it is really important to recognize the blood, sweat, tears, and labor put into the punk scene that goes beyond just playing in bands. It would be incredible if we rewrote punk history not from the perspective of bands only but from a more holistic perspective of everyone who contributes, including those whose idea of “do it yourself” is to do nothing but just be a punk!

Anyway, I came to punk in a way that is almost unimaginable today: with great difficulty. I knew about punk years before I had ever heard it. I learned of the band names MINOR THREAT, BLACK FLAG, and DEAD KENNEDYS through mentions of them by guy named Glen Plake, who was an extreme skier with a giant mohawk who was semi-famous in the early 1990s. But it was before the internet and because I didn’t know any punks, I didn’t really know how to find the music. I discovered a DEAD KENNEDYS badge in a suburban CD shop, but they didn’t, as far as I could tell, have any of their CDs or cassettes. I was a pretty disaffected, angry, and lonely kid, and I was listening to mainstream metal and grunge at the time. Eventually, I met some punks, including one with whom I’m still friends: Nick Turner, who played guitar in COLD SWEAT and WALLS. He made some mixtapes for me, and it all began. Nowadays, one can use a search engine to discover so much, but it’s hard to imagine YouTube or downloaded mp3s being as precious to anyone today as those first mixtapes made by Nick and other friends were to me.

Yeah it used to be difficult to get into punk, I miss the hunt. Do you like ANTI-CIMEX?
I would say that I am obsessed with about three years of ANTI-CIMEX’s history. On most days, I think their second 7” is the finest hardcore record ever produced: just uncontrolled, sheer rage. I am also quite fond of their third 7”, as well as compilation and other tracks recorded circa 1983 and sung in Swedish. I do like their later output, but my life would not be diminished if I never heard it again. The 1983–1984 stuff, though, is essential.

On the Anti-Cimex Archive, I have collected a lot of information and ephemera about ANTI-CIMEX and SKITSLICKERS. I have tried to make the postings interesting and compendious, but it is difficult to be totally accurate, especially because there are lots of competing stories to be found and because I don’t speak Swedish. There is another cool blog in a similar spirit by a Swedish dude that fans should check called Victims of a Bombraid. Members of ANTI-CIMEX are on Facebook, and more ephemera is appearing online. Still, I am proud that I have put a lot of unique material online for free and easy access, stuff that is nearly impossible to find elsewhere. My favorite posts are one with complete info on the eight SKITSLICKERS sleeve variations and one on a few pre-CIMEX bands. I do have a lot more material that I would like to put online someday. It’s a slow process.

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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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