This originally ran in MRR #296/Jan ’08, which you can grab here.
Even in this modern age, it took about a year after their first LP was released for word about Eddy Current Suppression Ring to really hit the shores of the North America and Europe. They’re a band Aussies clamor about, throwing around heavy comparisons like X (the Australian band), the Victims, the Scientists, the Saints. By the time those in the Northern Hemisphere caught on, Eddy Current Suppression Ring’s early singles had gone out of print and their debut LP on Dropkick Records was scarce…until a repressing allowed the rest of us to catch up and judge the merit of the hype. The album lived up to the “You gotta hear this” noise and was followed by a heavily anticipated US tour. And by all accounts, the Australians delivered the goods. Great live band to match the excellent records. No doubt their album will make a number of Top Ten lists for 2007 and eyes and ears will be focused on what’s coming next from Eddy Current Suppression Ring.
This interview took place with the singer, Brendan Huntley, at a taqueria in the Mission District, just hours before he was due to return to Australia. Brendan returned to San Francisco for a few days of R’n’R after the short US tour. Hopefully they’ll be back again soon. Interview by Mark Murrmann, with Mitch Cardwell, Dulcinea, and Stacie and Rich from Dropkick Records.
Here is Greg of Philadelphia, formerly in DEATH RATS, on his CRASS and DISCHARGE pins. Q: And pins A: And pins:
Reality Asylum, who are you?
I’m just a guy. This all started when I was searching for a metal CRASS pin and couldn’t find one. A friend and I were discussing how easy it is to have enamel pins made so I looked into it. I’m just making pins I want to have.
What was your first introduction to Crass?
I can’t pinpoint a first introduction. CRASS is one of those bands that is so ingrained in punk that they are a constant presence. I know the first time I heard them I wasn’t into it. It took some time to realize what a great band they are and that they have a near perfect aesthetic.
Why do you think “Reality Asylum” was such an important 7″ for Crass Records?
I don’t know if I have an answer for this. When I was trying to come up with a name for this thing, my friend came up with, “jesus died for his own pins, not mine.” It’s hilarious.
What else do you do besides make pins?
I play music and skateboard. Both poorly.
Why CRASS pins?
I think it is the perfect logo. It’s iconic, It’s abrasive, and it’s cool. Also, it’s a circle. The best logos are circles.
I met David King who designed the logo. It was neat, he lives in San Francisco and had an art show shortly after I moved to the Bay. Can you break down the symbolism of the CRASS logo for us? I think a lot of people miss the snakes and other imagery within the design.
There is a lot of things buried in the logo. It’s a cross with a cross-out through it that is a two headed snake. How cool is that? At first glance you don’t really see it all. I’ve read somewhere that the Ouroboros snakes are meant to represent that power will ultimately destroy itself. They could have gone with a plain anarchy symbol. Even when they used that, they made it their own. Their art is thought out and provocative. It’s great.
Where do you have them made? How did you chose this manufacturer? What are the options like for people who want to design and make pins?
I just found a company online that makes pins. I Google searched “custom enamel pins” and so many websites popped up. They mostly make pins for companies, sport tournaments, and churches, but they can do anything.
Just black and pink for now?
At the moment. I liked the idea of having alternative versions of different logos. A pink CRASS logo sounded tight to me and they came out pretty cool. I don’t think I will do multiple colors for all the pins. Some images don’t lend themselves to color variations, others do. The next pin is a discharge pin in two colors, black and red.
Q: DISCHARGE pins?
A: Definitely. DISCHARGE has some great imagery too. These are of the face logo. It’s so weird looking. I love it.
Where did the DISCHARGE face come from?
Couldn’t tell you. I’m sure there is an answer for which record it was on first, but I just know it. I see it and I know “DISCHARGE”.
Any last words?
Fight war, not wars. The webstore is realityasylum.bigcartel.comand I post stuff on Instagram too: @realityasylumpins. There is some other cools stuff coming up. Thanks!!
I’m listening to the Beating the Meat LP from 1984 to get me self in the mood, but it really pisses me off every time I hear it… It was a great compilation, a culmination of the stuff I’d done to date, all the excitement of receiving the tapes, the tape-to-tape duplicating, the stupid sound effects, the letters, the DIY!! When I went into a studio with the quarter-inch tape to put it together (Angel Studios near Hull, with Steve Larkman the engineer — I’m sure he thought I was nuts), I paid about £240. I designed the cover and wanted to do the usual inner sleeve — since packaging was always well important and far more interesting and exciting than a two-track single in a plain sleeve — but I had no money and accepted an offer to release it…and was ripped off, struggled to get any copies, the cover was just turned orange and had no inner sleeve, it never looked or felt right — and yet sounded amazing! There was no communication and it took ages for me to get back my costs for the studio, which only happened because I knew the guy at the distributor Jungle Records and he felt guilty, ’cos he knew I was on a loser. I managed to get a few copies off him, too, but not many. I dunno how many were actually made or sold.
And for the record, I made nothing from Beating the Meat and was forever pissed off that all those years had been hijacked!! Just one of my many regrets, but at least it got the bands heard again around the world! Please have it for free (download via mediafire.com) ’cos I’m not re-releasing it, not that I ever got the master tape back anyhow. I’ll be happy you just at least hear all the bands on it, ’cos that’s all Xcentric Noise was about — trying to pass on some of the excitement I was feeling, spreading this amazing music with message and passion and screaming anger and everyone doing it yerself! It was just so energising….
I first got into punk about May ’77, the moment I first heard it. I was only fourteen years old, previously had liked T. Rex and Sparks and some Bowie. I remember going into school the day after seeing a newspaper with the Sex Pistols in it, and talking music with my mate Mu. He said, “You’d love punk — listen to John Peel.” Bang, it was instant — a real slap in the face. My tranny radio and the pillow were my friends for a few years after that, and definitely the best part of the day! I guess maybe I’d finally found somewhere I felt I could belong, somewhere outside the norm.
I grew up in Little Weighton, England — a village with no streetlights, pretty cut off from the world. I guess I didn’t fit in with the norm, a kinda loner but with friends, the weird one, and the only one really into punk down our way. But ’cos I played football pretty good, I didn’t get fucked around, just the piss-takes like normal. They never got punk rock! I just ended up doing stuff all the time in me room while always liking and supporting the underdog (Hull City / Norman Wisdom [RIP] / Newport County); I was anti-injustice, anti-apartheid and anti-poverty, and I hated pop music, disco and shit soft rock crap.
This originally ran in MRR #326/July ’10 which you can pick up here
I’ve read about bands being described as Afro-beat, Post Punk, but they end up sounding like a shitty ska group or a Joy Division covers band. These two genres (Afro-beat and post punk) can lazily be used to describe Trash KIT; but I think these genres can and do represent the best aspects of the group. The first time I came across Trash KIT was when the group opened up for the band I played drums in—Black Time. Being a cool jerk, I was upstairs drinking beer and missed what was a short-lived, two-piece incarnation of the group. From then on people kept telling me how good Trash KIT was; so I went down to the next gig. There I found short songs, beautiful melodies, harmonies and rhythms—oh man, the rhythms! With the odd donk of the djembe drum thrown in and when it all got too smooth, some angsty yelps. Needless to say, I was hooked and have now seen them many times. The songs are getting more familiar in my mind and the rhythms and harmonies constantly invade my thoughts. So I managed to get hold of Rachel Aggs (guitar, violin and vocals) and Ros Murray (bass) to answer some questions and spread this great London band to whoever wants to listen. (There are two Rachels in this band in case you get confused…)
MRR: Due to the internet there is now an excess of hassling patrons online. They invite ten thousand to a Facebook event or get you to vote for their song on the Smirnoff Rock Chart. Do you agree with this aggressive marketing?
Rachel: We’ve been really lucky so far with “promotion,” like not needing to do it at all, so I don’t know. I feel sorry for bands that are duped into signing up with totally bogus agents, etc. But it’s easy for me to say because we never really needed or wanted to!
Ros: No! I’m not on Facebook so I don’t understand it and don’t have to worry about it, but it also means that I miss out on lots of fun things too.
MRR: You are putting an album out on Upset the Rhythm. How did this come about, taking into consideration your lack of excessive blogging or rock chart votes? Or are you guilty of the aforementioned contemporary sins?
Rachel: We gave our souls to Upset The Rhythm Records right after the first time they saw us play Yes Way. Yes Way was this amazing mini festival they put on at a disused car showroom in south London called Auto Italia. James from Pheromoans and Sex Is Disgusting Records saw us play our second ever show and told Chris [from Upset The Rhythm] that we should play. This was still only a month after our first gig so we didn’t get much of a chance to “promote” ourselves, it’s been a year since then and we’re going to have an album out soon so the Upset The Rhythm promo machine is getting into gear! We’re loading the biggest guns they got!!
Ros: Chris and Claire heard us on MySpace and asked us to play Yes Way, and then they asked us to do the album…
MRR: Originality seems to be a big buzz word in the music business. However, everyone (the cool people) knows you start by borrowing from your influences. I believe yours are proudly displayed on your sleeves. But you also mix it up a bit by having a djembe drum as part of your consistent drum sound and a violin thrown in on one track replacing the guitar. How did this transformation take place? Or was it a ploy to get into the post-punk, Afro-beat demographic?
Ros: Rachel can reply to this better, I just play bass.
Rachel: [laughter] Well I can’t claim we’re doing anything “new,” but I hope trash kit would never sound pre-meditated or contrived because it’s always felt very natural. We knew we wanted to start a band where Rachel [Rachel Horwood, their drummer] played awesome drums; drums are what it’s all based around. Rachel had only just started playing, but I knew she was going to get really good really fast and I wanted drums to be like the lead instrument in the band. The name trash kit comes from an article I read in Shotgun Seamstress by Osa (an amazing violin player) from New Bloods, it’s a zine about punks of color and had this totally inspiring article about street drummers in DC who use trash cans as drums. Read the rest of this entry »
Irochka Pechalochka organized a benefit for Red Light Legal that is occurring this weekend in Oakland, California. Red Light Legal is a clinic that is a resource for those who work in the sex industry. I thought it was important to interview her regarding booking this benefit for two reasons. First- it’s important that punks book benefits and that we use our shows to help our communities. Second- I also wanted to raise awareness about sex workers within the punk community aka your community in order to bring compassion and acceptance. Here is Irochka Pechalochka on the Red Light Legal benefit shows and sex work within the punk community:
What is Red Light Legal and what services do they provide?
Red Light Legal is a sex worker-led legal clinic based in Oakland, California. The organization was founded by executive director Kristina Dolgin and staff attorney Matt Kellegrew. They advocate to reduce stigma, violence and discrimination associated with the sex industry, particularly for those who face intersectional oppressions due to racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and classism. Red Light legal provides direct legal services, public policy advocacy, community education and litigation services to sex workers in all corners of the industry.
Why is it important that an organization like this provide sex workers with resources?
Sex workers are a highly vulnerable population. They are stigmatized and often criminalized within the legal system. Because of this, many sex workers are less likely to access legal services when it would otherwise be to their benefit. Red Light Legal responds to this gap in services by providing low-no barrier legal support from the perspective of current and former sex workers to anyone working anywhere in the sex industry.
Sex workers are often the targets of discriminatory policing. Making things worse, the common myths about sex work cause actual, real life sex workers to be drastically misunderstood. This lack of understanding combined with repressive stigma creates counterproductive, harmful laws and policies. The Anti-prostitution pledge for example, denies government funding to anti-trafficking and harm reduction NGO’s if they provide services such as STD testing and condoms to prostitutes.
The term “human trafficking” is also used alarming flexibly to describe people in a spectrum of circumstances ranging from those engaged in consensual voluntary sex work to people who have been the victims of serious, terrifying crimes. This ambiguity has caused law enforcement to prioritize the “low hanging fruit” or the most visible sex workers, leaving those who have truly been victimized to either fend for themselves or risk arrest and incarceration by coming forward. The result is less safety for everyone.
NRS.201.300 is another example of over broad public policy. Under this law, the children, family and friends of sex workers can be prosecuted as “panderers” or pimps if the sex worker supports them financially in any way. This puts not only sex workers, but their families and support networks at risk.
If public policy is ever going to change to become less harmful to sex workers, then it is going to be a result of advocacy by sex workers themselves. Red Light Legal aims to provide a safe, respectful space for sex workers that supports their individual needs while also working to shift public policy.
MYSTIC INANE from New Orleans, Texas's VIDEO, Memphis's EX-CULT, DC's PURE DISGUST, Toxic Reasons' manager and first-wave SF punker Terry Hammer, HIRED GOONS from Canada, Greece's GUTTER, 1859 Records, and a PERMANENT RUIN Euro tour diary.