MRR #388, the September Issue, features interviews with New Orleans mold breaking freak-punks MYSTIC INANE, vitriolic Texas snot-punk cult VIDEO, and Memphis’s Goner “groove masters” EX-CULT. We’ve also got conversations with PURE DISGUST (at the forefront of the NWODCHC), Terry Hammer (Toxic Reasons’ manager and a first wave San Francisco punker), Canada’s HIRED GOONS (oi! oi!) and Greece’s GUTTER. Plus, an in-depth tour diary from PERMANENT RUIN‘s recent European run and a back-n-forth with 1859 Records. Plus all the reviews and columns that you love!
July 23rd, 2015 by Layla
Deep South Punk Legends from Ozone City:
U-Ron from Really Red!
By David Ensminger
While flying home from Portland last weekend, where I lectured about the need for a greater understanding of Mexican-American gravesite traditions (no, they are not landscapes of trinkets, they are spiritual culturescapes), I flipped through a mid-1990s MRR that included multiple angry letters to the editor about Mykel Board, the magazine’s perennial “straw dog.” Today, I read angry letters denouncing my March interview with John Paul of Really Red, which I prefaced by explaining that punk was a wide umbrella genre with an inclusive community. If we denounce him with a purge befitting Stalin, then we should throw out our records by the Dickies, Dag Nasty, Bad Brains, and the list goes on. I support the editors. In today’s saturated media environment, easily entrenched political slogans and platitudes on CNN and punk blogs act as substitutes for authentic discussion and discourse. The real danger is smug self-satisfaction.
When they offered to re-print my 2005 interview with U-Ron, I approached him about openly releasing his email to me, too, in which he explains his reaction to the article, (the email can be found in the letters section of this issue). I do not seek to fissure the band’s relationship with each other. I seek to explore the multiple perspectives (even multiple truths) that occur throughout the history of most punk bands. As a reader of MRR since the winter of 1984, I feel more dedicated than ever to its efforts because it is willing to engage, not pretend, and to incite, not recite. Flex your head.
MRR: From Lightnin’ Hopkins to Roy Head to Townes Van Zandt to Steve Earle to ZZ Top (OK, Dallas should get some credit, too…), and even Kenny Rogers, Houston has been the home to a myriad of artists. When you started listening to music in Houston, were you at all aware of the city’s rich musical history? What was local music like when you were growing up? For instance, Steve Earle sings of Telephone Road and the gritty honky tonks…
First off, it is very flattering to be asked to do this interview 25 years after the release of Really Red’s first LP. It’s even odder that Empty Records wanted to re-release it 25 years after the fact. I’m pretty stunned. Really Red never thought that we would be remembered three years after we broke up. All that said, I have no idea who in the hell would want to read this, but at the risk of being totally boring I’ll try and give you the best answers I can. I have to point out that this will be my perspective and recollections. In no way should any of this be taken as reflecting the opinions of Bob, John Paul, or Kelly, the other three former members of Really Red. They might remember things in a whole other way. Maybe no one will care about or remember these people and places, but they were all involved in Houston’s formative punk scene in one way or another, and they do deserve to be mentioned. This is about a scene that is long gone, but it took a lot of brave and unique people to make it happen. They deserve credit. I appreciate the chance to give it to them and to tell our story.
When I moved from Canada to Houston in the 9th grade, I knew very little at the time about any Texas music. By time I was in the 10th grade, I started going to see live music. One of the greatest bands that I ever saw was The 13th Floor Elevators. They were amazing. A bunch of working class acid heads from East Texas who shirked any trappings of being wannabe rock stars. They were drenched with acid mystique, and when they weren’t too high to play, they were like a damn hurricane. They were playing their own brand of psychedelic punk. They were one of the greatest and strangest bands that I’ve ever seen. I still love them and still listen to their recordings.
I met Kelly Younger around that time. We formed a band with Andy Feehan, and some other guys, called The Lords. We played these community center teen dances. The Lords, only played covers. Hit singles and the like. At least we did album cuts of the Velvet Underground, Rolling Stones, Animals, Yardbirds and Love. We thought we were pretty radical because we refused to wear uniforms, and most other groups did. Most bands only played known radio hits and we played album tracks. You have to remember this was before FM radio started playing album cuts. With few exceptions, radio only would play the selected single. There were other interesting bands doing some originals, but not too many at that time. Everything was so restricted and stifled. I remember at one gig some older asshole stepped up and sucker punched Andy because he had yelled, “Fuck it!” in frustration about something. It was ridiculous.
Later, Andy Feehan and I started hanging out in the psychedelic clubs. You could go there underage because they were not serving alcohol, just lots of weed being smoked. We saw the 13th Floor Elevators playing at 2 and 3 AM. We saw bands like Bubble Puppy, the immensely underrated Children from San Antonio, The Chessmen of Dallas (the Vaughan brothers), and we got to see Sam “Lightnin” Hopkins a bunch of times. It was an excellent introduction to live noncommercial music.
The Lords broke up before I finally got kicked out of high school for “subversive political activity” and I left my parents’ home. My “subversive political activity,” by the way, was nothing more than being very vocally against the damn Vietnam War. I was on a Houston Independent School district blacklist. They were out to get kids like me, and they finally did. It happened to a lot of kids. High school was an Orwellian nightmare. It was really an eye opener. Once you see the lies exposed, it is impossible for anyone to stuff the genie back in the bottle. After high school I moved into a big house with Kelly and a crew of crazies, and it was a time of lots of live music, experimenting with acid, weed, and beer, nothing too different from the rest of the world. Kelly and I met up with John Paul around this time.
After a few years of working shit jobs and staying stoned Kelly, John Paul, and I ended up living in a series of old houses in the Montrose district. Kelly got hit by a car, and as a result of the insurance settlement he bought these huge Orange amps and some guitars and stuff, and we used to get fucked up and try and make original music. We sucked, but we had a lot of fun. We would go out to the Attics Dam area and pick shopping bags full of Texas psychedelic mushrooms. It was wild. You would wait until after a good rain and go out to the cow pastures there and pick all you wanted. People would have these mushroom parties. Crazy crazy times.
By this time the psych clubs were long gone and the local live music scene began to really suck. There were touring bands all of the time, but the local rock and roll music scene had dried up due to lack of club and radio support. Everyone who was on tour came through Houston in those days. I mean it. But a lot of the Houston clubs had a preference for cover bands only if you were local. It was fucked up. Austin had the Cosmic Cowboy thing and Houston had cover bands, kicker bars and pre-disco DJ clubs. It was a bleak time for local rock music.
Categories : Interviews
July 9th, 2015 by Andrew Underwood
TRAGIEDIA – “Punk ’Til Destruction” LP
There’s a lot to be excited about with regards to punk in the 2010s, the seemingly endless flood of high-quality reissues being very high on that list. TRAGIEDA’s demos have been circulating among dedicated tape traders for decades, but until now these songs are probably best known via the kind of lackluster POST REGIMENT tribute LP from ’99. Now, finally, we have a quality release of the original material and it’s fucking blazing. Unlike a lot of Polish punk bands which embraced genre-hopping experimentation, this is just straight-up hardcore punk, driven by hard-hitting 1-2 drums, buzzsaw guitars, and pissed-off vocals. The gritty recording quality is preserved in the best possible way, adding a layer of grime to the band’s violent, ugly hardcore attack. It’s hard to articulate just how vital and fucking pissed-off this music is. Even divorced from the context in which it was made this is some of the angriest punk I’ve ever heard, in both presentation and lyrics. You can’t listen to songs like “Krowy” or “Brak Slow” or “Cisza” and feel good about yourself or the state of the world around you—then you look at the lyrics and you just want to die. I wish that this had gotten the super-swank reissue treatment, with a fat booklet of photos and band history and such, but here you get the music and the words and that’s all you really need. If you buy one record based on MRR reviews this month, make it this one. Absolutely essential and long, long overdue. (Andrew Underwood)
Categories : Record Reviews, Reissue of the Week
June 28th, 2015 by Layla
This originally ran in MRR #317, October 2009, that issue is sold out but you can download it here
The Younger Lovers is Brontez Purnell’s solo project. Me, Brontez and Ramdasha sat together in Central Park to do this interview while the Younger Lovers played shows in NYC this past May. That was me & Ramdasha’s first time hanging out even though we’d had our eyes on each other for at least a couple years cuz you always wanna know who the other black punk kids are when you see them around. Feeling super connected, like old friends, we both talked to Brontez about his newest band, his writing and about the experiences that made him who he is today. He’s added so much personality to every band he’s ever been in and now he’s pouring every ounce of it into his own project and it is de-lic-ious.
Interview by Osa & Ramdasha
MRR: When did the Younger Lovers start?
Brontez: It started in 2003. I was in Panty Raid and then we broke up, but there was this song I’d already written for that band, “Sha-Boo-Lee.” I was really into that song and I just told myself that I should still record it by myself. Then I was like, “Why don’t I record a bunch of songs?” I have this friend Vice who was/is in XBXRX. We moved from Alabama to California together. He was recording stuff at this place called Club Short and I was like, “Can you record my EP for free?” and he was like, “Sure!” and so it kicked off then.
MRR: The thing I like about the Younger Lovers is that there’s so much of your personality in all of those songs. So when you first wrote “Sha-Boo-Lee” did you have a concept for the kind of music you wanted to make or did that happen naturally?
Brontez: In this weird, metaphysical way, I say both. I knew I wanted to hear cute pop shit again, and I knew I wanted it to be lo-fi because you don’t hear stuff that sounds raw anymore. So intentionally, I wanted it to sound like… I dunno, fucking Motown but on my terms.
Categories : Interviews
June 24th, 2015 by Layla
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.
Categories : Interviews, MRR Archive