Punk Retrospective
30Jul/120

Interview with Sucker Punk Productions’ Benjamin Abel

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

The internet is a double-edged sword. It makes some things increasingly easy, while making other things more difficult. Almost any kid in America can access the tools required to record and distribute a song for free, which is amazing, but there is now a feeling of entitlement that has risen with that ease...music is now considered to be free. Intellectual property is bullshit, according to a huge swath of the world's music listening public. So, easy as it's become to make a record and put it in front of people, for a person whose genuine calling in life is to be a musician, it's nearly impossible to focus in on your art without holding a "real job". Now, instead of releasing an album and touring to drive up record sales, bands record and release albums to drive up attendance at shows and sell t-shirts. This is a recipe to kill music, or at least the music of the underground.

I have had an overwhelming love of music since I was a small child, so supporting truly independent musicians, venues, labels, bookers, etc. is very natural to me. I don't need to be convinced of the importance of music in my life, so helping support the creators of music is a no-brainer. I know that every dollar I spend at a local event makes it that much more likely another event like it will happen. I know that my buying an LP, digital or physical, from Bastards of Young makes it that much easier for them to record another. Free downloads are great, but supporting what you love has to become the logical response as we step out of our self-centered collectors' mentality.

Over the last couple of years, we have all watched the music scene in the Sacramento region growing. Bands from Stockton to Reno, Nevada City to Davis, play shows in small and large venues ranging from the storage closet of Luigi's Slice in Sacramento to the awesome basements of Luigi's in Davis and the hip, new Haven Underground in Nevada City. There were a handful of promoters/bookers on the bill at Luigi's the other night...a show that worked out spectacularly, shiny walls and all. We're lucky to have such punk friendly venues.

Behind the venues, promoters and bands is another line of people doing promotion work on the internet. I do this in a haphazard, directionless way, but others, like Sacramento Punk Shows and Undie Tacos pull everything together to make it easy to know what is happening in town. A couple months ago I saw a note pass through the Sacramento Punk Shows Facebook page asking people to submit their flyers for a weekly video magazine. I was immediately jealous that I hadn't thought of this. It's the brainchild of Sucker Punk Productions...and I'm lucky enough to have had a couple of chances recently to talk to Benjamin Abel.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: Hello Benjamin…thank you for taking the time to talk to Punk Retrospective. I really enjoyed our conversation the other day and still wish I had recorded it. Hopefully we’ll be able to get into some of this stuff at near the same depth as last time!

Benjamin Abel: Thanks for having me and oh man, I gotta have you on a podcast at some point. It's those kinds of conversations that can really instill change in people. The more I learn about people doing similar things, the more it drives me to do more. It's amazing how something as simple as a conversation can seed the energy to really start taking action.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: Exactly! OK, cool, so...first off, can you tell us a little bit about you…give us your bio, how old, where from, etc?

Benjamin Abel: I'm 29 years old and I've been in and out of Sacramento over the last 20 years. I helped put together Sucker Punk Productions last year in the hopes of making some short films, movies, etc. Different parts of the company have kind of spun off and become their own giants, including our local music scene ideas. Which I suppose is what has gotten me here.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: At what age did you become aware of your love of art? I guess I’m assuming anyone who would devote as much time and energy to promoting other peoples’ music through their own art…anyway…You love music, you run around with a bunch of punks filming shows…where does this passion come from?

Benjamin Abel: I started writing around... Fuck... 10 or 11... The art of story telling, that's what hooked me. I got into poetry and song lyrics a few years later and guitar a few years after that. By 15 I was writing acoustic songs no one liked, and continued doing that for around 10 or 12 years. I played bass for a while, but no one seemed to like that either. All in all, I probably have enough material to come out with an album, but I don't think my mother would even buy it. She'd probably re-gift it to me on accident at Christmas. I've painted and drawn on and off for the same amount of time, but I've never been too good at that. What I'm really good at is script writing. I shut myself in for three days and wrote out my first script when I was 18. I never stopped. Last year, one thing led to another, and a bunch of other story tellers joined me as The Sucker Punks, and we began trading ideas about what we wanted to do. I think Tony Del Valle (from The Walking Dead) urged us to do a documentary about his band, but that idea soon fell to the side of an even larger idea Andy Harrison (also from The Walking Dead) pointed out. But we had all this footage of the band and Brett jordan and I didn't want it to go to waste. So I cut a video of it together of the live footage. And it made sense. We just kept doing it. The love of music was always there, we just never thought to apply our love of film to it.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: So, what exactly is Sucker Punk Productions? How many people are involved, who are they and what is the agenda?

Benjamin Abel: Sucker Punk Productions is a group of 5 individual artists whom help one another try and bring their film visions to life. We are all writers, directors, editors, videographers and idealists. When one person has something they really want to do, we rally around one another and do everything we can to make it happen. You can find out more about the crew at our web site, www.suckerpunkproductions.com. Our agenda is... To entertain. We push the local music scene because the scene itself seems to be an extension and an inspiration ot all of us, but we're much more than that. We do comedy (which is admittingly suffering right now), we have ideas for short movies, full length films, animated features, documentaries... Many, many things we want to do.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: We were talking about financial ‘problems’ on the phone the other day, but you seem remarkably calm for a guy who can’t really even make it to all the shows you’re actively promoting. You are a driving force in the local music scene, you encourage others to respect the music and bands by supporting shows and buying merchandise, but you do all of this stuff for free…I’m not sure what my question is here other than maybe…why?

Benjamin Abel: Well as much as I appreciate it, I wouldn't call myself a 'driving force.' I'm still new to promotions, and everything we do from the music videos to the video magazine to the podcasts... The popularity fluctuates from one episode to the other. We're still trying to get a foothold in the Sac music scene. We barely have an audience, and we're not sure how to get one except to keep doing what we're doing. Why do we do it? Why do I do it? It's ingrained in me. I have friends in the scene, and I want them to do well. I enjoy their music. At some point it became, “well, if you want them to do well, and you enjoy their music, lend a fucking hand.” It's the way I hope people think about me and the company. It's a thought I've applied to the people in the company, and in the scene. The scene isn't dead kids, you just need to get up and support local music. The bands are out there, you're not. And it's not because these bands suck, believe me.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: You mentioned working on a specific documentary film project the other day…are you ready for people to hear about this yet, or do you want to wait?

Benjamin Abel: No, we can talk about that a little. We can't really go far in depth with it until we get an LLC, but I can tell you we've already been working on a documentary about the local music scene, and we have an interesting angle we want to try utilizing many of the people promoting the scene. It's something we want to be good enough to send to film festivals and such... I'm not sure I should say more than that, but we'll have an LLC next month, so hopefully we can talk about it more soon.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: I told you a story the other day about a friend of mine who was harshly and unjustly criticized for floating the idea of a Kickstarter project to make physical product available from her record label. Then we spoke at length about each of our initial forays into mp3 collecting and our current beliefs about buying what we like after streaming a first listen. How do you view the internet as a tool for artists/labels/production companies, etc. and how do you think fans can best support bands and the continued creation of actual LP’s, EP’s, CD’s, DVD’s and films?

Benjamin Abel: I actually experienced this first hand today. We have a kickstarter for a short film, Fighting through the Zombie Apocalypse, we started a few days back. Some artists I truly deeply respect dogged me for 'asking for a handout,' and for a moment it broke my heart. I shot back with a comparison of bands asking people to go to shows and buy merch so they can continue producing art for their community, and how what we were asking for wasn't much different. Overall, they were just kidding, but that attitude is more of what I disagree with. Don't just say you support a band or project or idea. Do things that show that support. Sometimes it's as simple as a good friend saying “I'll check my wallet, but don't expect much.” Someone said that to me. Fuck if he even has a dollar to give me, at least he's showing with his actions and saying with his words, “you're worth me at least saying i'll try.” Yes buy merch, yes go to shows, no downloading illegally. That all goes without saying. But also, be what you want to hear in your own life. Be a pillar and a moral support. Tell bands you love them and you want more, encourage the things you love to persevere. Be the catalyst of difference in your community. That's what makes change, that's what changes ideas into actions. It's not standing on the sidelines heckling the players, it's being knee deep in the game.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: Let me just say…I’m a big fan of the SPP Video Magazine. I like Sacramento Punk Shows listings and the constant barrage coming out of Punch and Pie into my stream…I like Bows and Arrows and Undie Tacos, but there’s something about just listening to who will be playing that hits my brain harder…maybe it’s the background music…I don’t know, but thank you for sending that out! It looks like it must take hours…days…all those links! Thank you…invaluable!

Benjamin Abel: Thank you for being so supportive. I WISH I could reach the audience Sacramento Punk Shows has. Right now it's great to have so many bands and musicians watching what we'll do next, but we've yet to make it over that wall where we're drawing in real fans, the show goers and film lovers, people interested in everything we're doing because they stumbled upon us and we actually entertained them. I could seriously do SPP Video Magazine until I die because I love it so much, but it's a different story with our other shows. We have to find our own fans at some point, and that's the most frightening part for me. You can't tell if it's going to happen until it hits you.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: OK, so…I know we’ll talk again soon and that you will be contributing to Punk Retrospective…is there something I should have asked you that I didn’t? I feel like there is…but I just can’t find the question…final words on current music or some another project you have going?

Benjamin Abel: Yes! Keep reading Punk Retrospective because people like El Dorko give a shit, and want to see the scene flourish, and do everything they can to be an active part of that flourishing, And he's not even getting paid! So keep coming back, and share this page with your friends. And if I can plug our current project, find more information on Fighting through the Zombie Apocalypse at https://www.facebook.com/events/153284038128511/.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: Thank you again for visiting!!

Benjamin Abel: Anytime. Thanks for having me.

27Jul/120

Luigi’s Slice Super Show – 7/24/2012

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

So beyond broke, you can’t even believe…and we really want to see this show.

I know we have already mentioned Sneeze Attack several times because they were so great in Davis and they have theoretically released the new EP, Aurora, on July 22. We have never been to an Arts & Leisure show yet, but Nacho Business were pretty damn good last time we saw them and someone in our office is freaking out because Crystal Stilts are coming all the way from Brooklyn. Can’t go…we simply can’t afford it. Hmmmm…

We really did agree to skip this show, and we were bummed, but then, Tuesday afternoon, bands started getting added to an already stellar lineup and we had to make the drive to Luigi’s…immediately, because the start time for the show was pushed way ahead! I tried to get Benjamin, my new friend from Sucker Punk Productions, to ride down with us, but he had to work.

So, yes, for another shot at seeing La Sera, and our first opportunity to catch Tim Cohen, of The Fresh & Onlys, in his new project called Magic Trick, we threw caution to the wind and used some of our remaining gas to go to the show we wanted to see…now with more!

When we arrived, I saw Sean Hills, from Punch and Pie Productions, postering the wall at Luigi’s…thought I’d talk to him, but he was gone before I could catch him. Sneeze Attack started at about 7:40, which was, apparently, a few minutes before the doors actually opened. Just a slight mix-up made us miss the first two songs…I forgive the kids at the door and their myopic customers.

Anyway, Sneeze Attack has a new drummer, Christine Shelley, and she fits the band just right! The songs we missed were the faster numbers (maybe I haven’t forgiven the door kids yet), but I liked their whole show. Dinogirl broke a string and had to borrow the Nacho Business guitar to complete their set…hey, Sacramento…this is a band ready for some big recognition. Here’s a video sample:

Next up, Nacho Business. These kids are funny, funny, funny. Self-deprecating from word one…Heather says, ”Can’t wait to disappoint you”…and they started off in a way I was almost certain would disappoint me, but turned it around so fast that until now I’d almost forgotten those a cappella moments. They broke down the fourth wall, if there was one there to begin with, and played jangly, pop punky-ness with some sweet harmonies.

Yes, I really enjoyed all the bands, but the biggest surprise of the night was Arts & Leisure.(Previously Baby Grand) There was something about this band that brought the Muffs to mind, no Shattuck scream, just energetic, simple rock songs with a duo of female singers. Gerri White and Becky Cale harmonize beautifully, but each carry the band when singing alone, their own individual attitude shining through. There always seemed to be some sort of endearing, inside joke happening…not sure what it was exactly, but they wore smiles throughout the performance and made everyone like them. Cory Vick is actually a really good guitar player, and some of my favorite moments came when Gerri would join in to finish off a song with a little more growl to her guitar. Maybe it was because I was right in front of her amp, but there was some real power there! Got one song on video:

[play-button:http://www.hardlyart.com/mp3/MagicTrick_Torture.mp3] Magic Trick - Torture direct link to free mp3 from Hardly Art: Magic Trick - Torture

Magic Trick, well…I haven’t seen Tim Cohen play since New Year’s Eve and never in his solo project. What was I expecting? Nothing…I actually had no idea he had a side project, so, even though he played on an acoustic guitar w/ a pickup ( I do love electrified punk distortion, ya know...), I was blown away. This guy is such a talented songwriter…the underground music scene is filled with talent…Tim is in a league with guys like John Dwyer and Mark Sultan. Genius. No, this isn’t ‘punk rock’ in the limited sense, but neither is Johnny Cash or Neil Young, and I still like them. And like them, there is a touch of Americana here, a melodic sorrow stringing everything together. When I spoke with Tim later he called it “sentimental”. Here’s a piece of video I shot when Katy Goodman joined them onstage:

[play-button:http://www.hardlyart.com/mp3/LaSera_PleaseBeMyThirdEye.mp3] La Sera - Please Be My Third Eye direct link to free mp3 from Hardly Art: La Sera - Please Be My Third Eye

Then Katy took the stage with her bandmates in La Sera. She’s always so happy and nice, even when inviting a timid audience to come closer. She writes catchy melodic pop songs and carries the band with her bass lines and smooth, strong voice. But…you know how, on the Ramones first 3 albums, there were songs that really stood out and the rest all kinda blend together. Something like that happens with La Sera, but probably only to me because I’m not too familiar with the material. Don’t get me wrong…it’s good:

And then the Crystal Stilts took the stage. Wooden keys on his keyboard, you say? Oh, and look…there’s Charles Albright helping the band get set up! Sacramento is a wonderful place and, even though I’m going to be deaf for the next couple of days, Luigi’s is not as bad a venue as I originally thought. Anyway, I looked these guys up online before I left, so I had an idea of what they were going to be…boring. I watched part of one video and made up my mind and, as usual, I was wrong, wrong, wrong. Again, not punk…maybe more garage-y, but really, this is a psychedelic band, at least live. They opened the curtain behind the band to allow the projection system to cover the stage and band in wacked out patterns…like they do at the big city psych shows and the keyboard player just started making noise. I was still a little afraid when the band started…there was an overwhelming Doors vibe coming over the place, but that was just the visual atmosphere and look of the band. It’s pretty damn amazing what a group of primates with musical instruments can do! Here’s a sample:

So, the show ended, Charles Albright helped the band tear down the drums, while Jerry Perry went around paying the bands and cleaning up the mess. I don’t know how many promoters and bookers put this show together, something like 7, but it flowed as smoothly as any show I’ve seen this year. Big compliments to everyone who made this happen. The audience was great, too…just happy to be seeing live music and getting a chance to dance around a bit.

Now the depressing part, for us…walking past all the merch and not being able to afford one of Katy Goodman’s shirts…can’t get the Crystal Stilts new EP or LP…no art from Dino…but, we did get to talk to Katy, Kyle Forester (keyboards @Crystal Stilts) and Tim Cohen..for a couple minutes while we passed down the line. I told Katy we’d been to her show at Bows and Arrows earlier in the year and asked if she’d been touring the whole time since. She told me she had. Man, I think I’d be tired of touring…I asked if she was and she said no, she loves it and that had only been in March.

Kyle broke in and said Katy’s crazy…she loves to tour and she will stay out for more than five months and still love it. We were asking about merch prices as we worked our way down, just in case something was priced low enough…I said to Tim that I wish we weren’t so broke right now…and that we’d been to the Fresh and Onlys show at Brick and Mortar on New Years. He said,”well buy something from one of these guys, because I live in San Francisco and you’ll probably see me again before you see them.”

That kind of blew me away…most people are so focused on what they’re doing that they don’t even consider someone else. I suppose they’ve all become friends on this tour, I mean Katy was singing along throughout the Magic Trick set, but still…I was affected by the gesture.

I told Tim I was impressed with his solo work from the show, but that I had only heard the Fresh and Onlys stuff before tonight. He said this project was, like I mentioned before, more sentimental, ballads, stuff the full band might not really want to do. I made the mistake of saying, “But you write some stuff in Fresh and Onlys, too, right?” He corrected me…he writes all of it. He wasn’t being egotistical, either. He really is a regular guy…looks a bit rough and tough, but clear-eyed and honest, and I believe him when he says he writes it all. I will be holding him to his insinuation that he might play in my neck of the woods if I contact him…but that’ll probably only happen if he remembers our conversation…good thing I wrote it down!

So, Sacramento, thank you! And please continue to support your local venues, bands, bookers and promoters. The more shows you go to, the more shows there will be. You are voting with your dollars for more music every time you support a show like this one. Every dime you put toward the Sneeze Attack EP makes it that much more likely you’ll see another one put out. Anyway…that’s enough out of me!

I did not see this at the show, might be some weirdness surrounding it? Can't buy it, but you can listen to it!


22Jul/120

SPP Video Magazine Vol. 1 iss. 6

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

Sucker Punk ProductionsHey Sacramento! Here's the Sucker Punk Productions lowdown on this weeks shows!! Don't forget to 'like' the Sucker Punk Productions and Punk Retrospective FB pages:

22May/120

Lasher Keen Northwest Summer Tour 2012

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

Bluebird handed me an advance copy of 'Berserker' on March 11, 2012 and allowed me to photograph the original Markus Wolff artwork. I will not post any of that data until the new album, ‘Berserker’ actually comes out in May (postponed), but it really is quite beautiful.

I've spent a pretty good amount of time with the band over the last couple of months and will be writing up a piece on 'Berserker', my experience helping out on the Lara Miranda directed video for 'Rainmaker' (song at the bottom of this page) and what it's like to live within (the outer shell of) the bubble of one of the most creative groupings of musicians I have ever witnessed.

I have been collecting my own video and stills of the band. I've attempted several interviews and have recorded portions of several practices on video. As always, the best conversations seem to happen when no recording device is rolling and the deeply human aspects of all parties rise to the surface...but the depth of this band is always there, even in the physical spaces they create for themselves to live.

Then there is the live performance aspect of Lasher Keen. This is where the band really shines and where you (Portland, Seattle, Eugene, Nevada City and Sacramento) get to witness the current incarnation of this band playing their most intense songs with an incredible variety of instrumentation. Below the ShakyCam® video you can find the tour schedule for roughly the next month. It starts Thursday, so look now and enjoy!!

Thursday May 24th Portland Oregon
Alberta ST. Pub. 1036 NE Alberta St. Portland OR
With Waldteufel & TBA. 8:00 show starts

Friday May 25th Seattle Washington
Northwest Folklife Festival on the Vera Stage
playing from 9:15 ~10:00 pm
As part of the Underground Cascadian Folk Showcase. Visit http://www.nwfolklifefestival.org for more info.

Saturday May 26th Eugene Oregon -Private Event-

Friday June 15th Nevada City California
Stonehouse 107 Sacramento St.
scheduled to perform 9:00
As part of an all day festival featuring many great local Nevada City acts!!

Saturday June 16th in Sacramento California
Luigi’s Fun Garden 1050 20th Street
Show starts at 8:00
With In The Silence

OK...I will post this snippet of the album cover Bluebird posted on the Lasher Keen Facebook page.

13Apr/120

Shames / Spitting Image / Acid Baby Jesus @ Hideout Lounge 4/6/2012

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

ArtifactSo, it’s Good Friday…what should we do? There was talk about heading down to Sacramento to see Boats!, but no one could get too excited about doing the South 80 drive another time this week. Our local show seemed expensive and not too punk, leaving 'stay home' and/or 'go out for burritos' as our best option(s). Then something of a divine intervention took place when another member of the Punk Retrospective Collective noticed the fact that Acid Baby Jesus had lost their show in San Francisco and were now playing in Reno. Should we go? Acid Baby Jesus over Easter weekend in Little Sin City…perfect!

While they’d posted the fact of the Reno gig to their Facebook page, they’d omitted certain details…like time and club. We’d have a decent drive in front of us if we were going to make this work…Facebook messages to the band and Olaf (The Vinyl Avenger), phone calls to Slovenly and an e-mail to April finally paid off, 10pm Hideout Lounge, and, after dropping $70 into the gas tank, we were off!

Yeah, I’ve lived up here about 8 years now, but this is my first show in Reno. We saw Youth Brigade and Adolescents in Sparks…and, well, like that time, I get lost because of Obama and his infrastructure project on the North 80. Seven miles of labyrinthine detour and we finally found the Hideout Lounge. We park, cross the street and I immediately try to enter through the wrong door…yeah, I really am a dork.

Once inside we’re approached by a seemingly random female bar patron who asks us for $5 for the band, to cover their gas, etc, we comply. We ask if the band is in town, she tells us they are, but that they are currently being tattooed. Interesting.

This is a dive bar. The brown paint on the floor has mostly peeled off to bare concrete and the 70’s wood paneling is, surprisingly, almost in mint condition, though covered in beer lights and punk flyers. Two flags drape meaninglessly from the ceiling, one representing Miller High Life, the other is an American Flag with ‘PIGZ’ being the only decipherable word remaining of all the blue marker ink in its white stripes. There’s a really cool bicycle hanging from the ceiling and an awful light enclosure built-in over the bar. Two pool tables are pushed into a corner and are covered with OSB…I wonder aloud if that’s the stage, knowing in the back of my mind that the band will be playing at ground level WITH us! The bathrooms have no signage and, again, this is Nevada, so smoking is still encouraged in the bar. Even though I am suffering from intense nicotine cravings, I love this place!

The ShamesI also love it when the assumptions I make as I go through my life are shattered. For some reason I assumed Acid Baby Jesus would be the only band, since the show wasn’t planned, but rather, just happened. I began to realize I was wrong when I saw a kick drum, with ‘The Shames’ spray paint stenciled across the front, being set up by a guy who didn’t look at all Greek. Around this time I noticed the band walk in…the chick who collected the money appeared to be giving them some of it…I don’t know, it was smoky, the jukebox was playing Turbonegro and Iggy Pop, mohawks were rising and the rest of the Collective was having vodka tonics.

The young men from Acid Baby Jesus were smoking cigarettes and enjoying their first PBR’s of the night by this time. One of them started toward us because there was a huge row of ashtrays on the countertop behind us. I asked about the canceled show and joked around a bit about our long drives from California, eventually finding out his name was Otto. We talked for a bit and were eventually joined by Marko. Fifteen minutes later I realized I should have turned on my recording device, but I sent myself a lame-ass Facebook message to remind myself of the conversation:

“Talked to Marko about the US tour and their Israeli tour. The little guy told me a story about getting electrocuted in a beer filled basemwnt” (sic)

All that is true, but I guess I lied in the prior paragraph…I didn’t find out the little guys name was Otto (guitarist) ‘til later, though Marko (percussion) did introduce himself right away. Either way, I would end up spending about an hour and a half talking with Otto about everything in the world and a few more minutes with Marco after the show. They were all very proud of their Greek “acid” tattoos, including April, their Slovenly Records tour manager.

I was struck by a feeling of familiarity and friendship with this pair very early in the night…something akin to the fast-friends I’d made on film jobs in Los Angeles over the years. The ease of speaking with them made for a fun evening of joking around and I even got to share a little history of the rumored cannibalism at Donner Pass, which they’d passed through earlier in the day. Maybe they were just humoring an old man, but there was a genuine kindness and rapport I hadn’t expected.

What had I expected? Well, truth is I really loved the name of this band from the first time I read it on Spineflower’s Tumblr page last summer, but figured they were going to be another Brian Jonestown Massacre rip-off/tribute band. I'd also mentally lumped them in with a bunch of lame bands some idiots listen to on Blip.fm…so, because of these things I assumed they were going to sound shitty. I also figured that a band from Greece wouldn’t be speaking great English. Yeah, I’m wrong a lot.

PIGZOnce in a while I’d start feeling like I should let Otto get back to his friends and fans…or to play, but he assured me they were not going to play until after the other two bands. At some point in our conversation, he told me he’s 25 years old. They formed Acid Baby Jesus for fun about three years ago and have been touring pretty heavily for the past two years. There is a certain kind of wisdom in this young man. He knows this road life is for the young and is taking full advantage of the opportunity, but he is a young man and misses his girlfriend and family. The economic crisis faced by Greece came up a couple of times, so I know he carries concern for his country…but, at the same time he’s full of energy, quick to laugh, ready to share stories, opinions on food or even offer to buy drinks.

The Shames took the stage sometime around 11:30pm. They were an unexpectedly pleasant surprise. The two young ladies out front brought the crowd into the pit and that guy hitting the skins gave them a tight beat to slam to. It’s melodic punk rock with a bit of attitude. Totally impressed. I will tell you this…they are so much better live than anything on the internet shows, their recordings and YouTube videos do them no justice.

Spitting ImageAfter the Shames came Spitting Image. As if the Shames were all love and light, Spitting Image dredged through some pretty dark territory. Their material was a little more on the hardcore end of the spectrum, but it was more experimental than that. They have a new EP out on their Bandcamp site…you should check it out.

After Spitting Image finished, I started looking at the merch table and made Otto promise he’d get the band to sign an LP if I bought one. April gave him a silver paint pen and he went to work. He gave the album to me with signatures over all the members. I’d watched everyone else sign, but I knew Marko hadn’t touched it. Over his image Otto had written “MIZ”, which I assume means “Ms.” or something along those lines, because when I gave the LP to Marko he drew some breasts and something of a Barbara Feldon hairdo onto his image. A bit more laughing and the band started setting up. I figured it would be a good time to take the LP out to the car so I wouldn’t have to keep track of it during the show.

Spotting them outside the club, I congratulated the Shames on a great show and made a vague promise to help them get a show in California. It would be great if we could open for them, but there’s a lot more practice needing to happen before we play out. There was a lot of smoke outside, too, so I headed back in ‘cuz I didn’t want to miss a minute of Acid Baby Jesus.

The ViewI turned on my little camera and started videotaping about 3 seconds before they actually started playing. It was pure luck. I was about a foot away from Otto, nearly stepping on his effects pedals, and I could feel the crowd growing and surging behind me. When I think back on it now, I’m amazed the band showed absolutely no fear of the crowd or the electrical situation. There was beer a quarter of an inch deep on the floor and all of their effects pedals and amps were plugged into power strips that kept tripping from either pulling too many amps or wetness.

I remembered something I’d read in the Distortioni interview. They were asked a question about their sound being as mixture of garage and psychedelic and which thought more defined their sound. They answered that it was both and none…that it was hard to classify. Space punk, they call it on their Facebook page.

MIZI must admit that I was a bit worried for them when the first two bands played straight-up punk/ hardcore. The defiance I saw in the crowd as they challenged the other two bands, probably their friends, but nonetheless. I thought these poor, nice foreign kids are gonna be eaten alive. But the space punks had captured the audience during the first song and had built momentum. Midway through their set the speed peaked and the crowd came down on all of us. The entire mosh pit lurched into the bands’ area, toppled the singer and his mic and unplugged their guitars, and none of them flinched. For a few moments only Marko could play and sing. The rest of the band began sorting through the snake of wires until suddenly there was bass, then some guitar and then it all came back together and started to gel into something a bit weird.

I don’t drink or use drugs, but I spent the last ten minutes of the Acid Baby Jesus set in a near out-of-body trance. The beat, the volume, the reverb, flange, sweat and vocals all built into a great transcendent noise that swept me into a meditative state of awareness. I began moving back away from the band to see how the rest of the audience was doing and found a bar full of punk people completely tuned in to a deep psychedelic, garage punk experience. It was quite possibly the most intensely mystical, musical experience I’ve ever had.

Their sound is not defined by psychedelic, garage or punk…those words hint at what they do, but when you are with them live you’ll understand that they reach into another level, something other-worldly. The band was really wiped out afterward. We talked about the possibility of meeting up at Austin Psych Fest, then said our goodbyes at around 2:30am. The full moon lit the snow covered mountain pass as I drove through listening to the ringing in my ears.

...and now, my next installment of super dark video from the show (please buy me a decent camera:

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/1281325" height="200" iframe="true" /]

11Mar/120

Terry Malts / Bleeding Rainbow / Crocodiles @ Rickshaw Stop 3/9/12

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

I'll keep this short, because the video is long and, of the three bands, only the Terry Malts truly impressed me. The "Killing Time" album is well worth the price, as the bands' own "chainsaw pop" description is quite fitting. I'm not going to sit here and bash the other bands...maybe it was an off night.

The following extremely dark and overly long video of the Terry Malts pretty much speaks for itself, Negative Approach cover and all:

6Mar/121

LOSERLIST69: The Sacramento Punk Super Archives

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

Loserlist69I was looking for internet posts about of the Spits show I attended in Sacramento and accidentally stumbled into a really cool vault of Sacramento punk artifacts, past and present, called Loserlist69. The archive is the work of a very dedicated man named Ken Doose.

The tagline reads:
SACRAMENTO PUNK ROCK -Faded old pics, crusty flyers, show listings, stickers, record reviews, interviews, and various other assorted things that relate to the past and present Sacramento punk rock scene and other interesting places.

I really don't have the time to do this justice right now...but it's an awesome task he seems to have assigned himself and I'm glad to have found it. Maybe one day I'll run into Ken and we can do an interview...until then I'll be browsing through the archives of LOSERLIST69.

[play-button:http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16850984/Dicks/lifetimeproblems.mp3] The Dicks - Lifetime Problems Link source

3Mar/120

Feeling of Love / Mikal Cronin / White Fence / Ty Segall / G.A.M.H. / 3/2/2012

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

Ty Segall @ GAMH 3/2/12Last night was pretty awesome...aside from the fact that the Great American Music Hall frowns on video recording. The Punk Retrospective crew walked in just as The Feeling of Love, a power-trio straight out of Metz,France, finished their first song. My chimichanga over at Los Panchos was worth missing one song for, but it would have been nice to catch their entire set. OK, I'm busted again...it's psych rock...but I'm ElDorkoPunkRetro...I like punk and I like retro music, like 60's garage psych, and I especially like this new wave of punk garage psych that's blooming across the world right now...and the flower that is San Francisco.

We hadn't been here (S.F.) since the big New Years' show...and weren't really sure what to expect from The Feeling of Love. We didn't know how often Ty Segall would be onstage, since he records with nearly everyone on the bill. It turned out great, with The Feeling of Love pulling us into an intense psych trance through the last few minutes of their final song, thus setting the tone for the rest of the night.

Since this group of kids record together so much and are each incredibly talented, it was hard for me to predict what order to expect them in. Mikal Cronin played next, with Ty taking the stage with him. Awesome set from this great songwriter. He writes clean, simple songs then adds in the layers. I once read a Henry Rollins quote where he talked about how lucky todays musicians are to have learned from the old punk and hardcore bands like Black Flag...to get an understanding of lull/intensity...I guess it's something all four of these acts have learned, because they're masters of it.

I didn't record any of Mikals' set on video because...it just wasn't possible at the time. I guess I prefer the Brick and Mortar, since they're more camera friendly, though the Great American Music Hall is beautiful and ornate. The entire dance floor bowed and swayed with the movement of the pit, so much so I thought it may collapse at some point. There were chunks of the balcony railing raining down on the stage at one point...it's good to see a new generation picking up and reviving a moribund rockn'roll.

White Fence was great, maybe not as awesome as the New Years' show, who knows...my eardrums were semi-protected behind some earplugs, because I ended up at the side of the pit right in front of the PA stack. I hadn't quite figured out how to adjust the plugs yet, so my White Fence experience was a bit muddy this time...worth seeing if you haven't. Yeah, it's got a surf edge to it and it's psychedelic, but it's also straight ahead punk rock, sometimes verging on hardcore.

The evening moved upward in intensity as Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin, Emily Rose and Charlie (Moonhearts) took the stage. Is this what Toad would sound like? Who knows...but it was great! Anyway, it was basically the same configuaration as Mikals' set with Charlie on guitar, too. I'd adjusted the earplugs to allow in some treble by this point, but my tinnitus is unforgiving of these small luxuries. The good news is that bands of this caliber somehow make me feel my hearing loss is acceptable, to a point. The hooks, intense pedal effects and heavy beats grew to a crescendo that left the makeshift barricade in tatters. Get out and see these acts before this scene gets co-opted by the man.

Oh...and I did get some video...enjoy:

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/27704877" iframe="true" /]
[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/1661754" iframe="true" /]

[play-button:http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10295501/02%20Dissolve%20Me.mp3] The Feeling of Love - Dissolve Me Link source

29Feb/120

Way Out West Fest / Tucson, Arizona / April 13-15, 2012

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

http://www.wayoutwestfestaz.comI didn't wake up today expecting to find a new punk rock hero, but a simple Facebook request from the creator of the Way Out West Festival led me to one. Billy Brooks is in the middle of promoting and pulling everything together for a 60+ band festival in Tucson, AZ and he took time out from what I'm sure is a stressful endeavor to answer a few questions for Punk Retrospective. Inside his answers you will find the kind of brutal honesty and integrity I think is necessary to have an independent music scene. That old, punk, DIY ethic you hear so much about, persistence in the face of corporate competition, building a festival that will promote new music without caving into commercial pressures, the truth about building community through All Ages shows versus the reality of having anyone show up, paying bands all of the profit from passes...I wasn't expecting principles and ruthless candor when I answered that request for help, but the fact is I'm glad that spirit is alive in 2012. Get out to Tucson this spring and support a real music festival and a heroic promoter with genuine integrity.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: How did you start promoting? Were you in a band, did you start setting up local shows or did you dive right into a massive festival?

Billy Brooks: Before I decided to take this thing on I had put on a total of one show, one show with one band and it was on about three days notice. Luckily that turned out really well and we had a decent turn out even though the first half of the "show" was open mic night for some really bad comedians. That band was a relative unknown in Tucson at the time, Cheap Girls. Ironically enough months later Ian from Cheap Girls helped me talk myself into this fest thing.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: Is the 21+ a logistical thing? Skrappy's Youth Collective would appear to be a great venue for All Ages shows. Any chance next year will have some All Ages shows?

Billy Brooks: It's a logistical and enjoyment thing. Skrappy's is a great space and I do mean GREAT, they do so much for music and the community. If anyone reading this wants to play Tucson, and you should, Skrappy's is a great all ages venue. With all that said the downfalls for putting on a larger fest at a place like Skrappy's for me were: no alcohol, earlier curfew and a single stage. I personally would love an all ages stage or fest but to ask people to travel and pay for a multiple day party then tell them they cannot drink is a hard sell, especially within my group of friends and this musically community as a whole. Maybe one day I will be able to open my own all ages venue with my vision.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: In the AMP interview you say your plan this year was to have a smaller festival than last year, but you actually ended up with more bands. Near the end of the same interview you talk about more "well known" bands wanting large guarantees, but say you expect some of those bands next year...I guess that means you expect another WOWFest next year (great!!) and you've decided to succumb to demands that the festival grow larger? Do you see a benefit to bringing in bigger bands and conversely, do you see a benefit in leaving those bands off the roster?

Billy Brooks: Just to clarify, not all the "bigger" bands we were unable to work out for Way Out West Fest were due to monetary issues, a few had logistical issues and some I just never heard back from. There are plenty of bands I will continue to pursue if the fest can continue to move forward, this year is very crucial for me and the fest in the sense that it's do or die. If everyday mostly mainstream Rancid or Social Distortion fan took a look at the lineup for this fest I'm guessing they would pass because with all the great bands we have there are only a handful that a casual fan of this genre would recognize, that being said I love our lineup this year. I love it. I'm happy with the variety, I'm happy with the talent and more than anything I'm happy with the people we have coming out. The folks in these bands are working their asses off for gas money or less and they want this fest to be a success just like I do, Way Out West Fest was never about money and I hope that shows through with all the profit from passes going to the bands. If I can somehow sustain this I will always have "unknown" bands be a part of Way Out West but I would love to have one to six bands that people in and out of the know get excited about, it's better for everyone.

ElDorkoPunkRetro: Any final thoughts before you get back to work?

Billy Brooks: There are a lot of fests going on and I see more popping, a lot of good ones too, I don't see this community sustaining them all. I really don't. In all honesty Way Out West may be one that goes by the wayside because it has so much working against it with my refusal to seek out sponsorship to going against Coachella and their reunion
machine on the same weekend. I really hope the "punk" community starts coming out to local shows and smaller fests because guess what; without these bands playing their hearts out and skipping meals to put gas in the van there won't be a band like Refused to reunite down the road. We really need to start using our judgment better as punk
consumers and music lovers in general, buy a shirt, get a record and go to a $5 show with bands you've never heard of. If we do this a little more as a community we'll get stronger and we'll be rewarded with great music. I promise this won't put Warped Tour out of business. I will probably never have the money to compete with these big name productions but I feel that we offer something a little more here; we're making friends.

Here are the details you'll need:

Way Out West Fest in Tucson, AZ features over 60 bands from all over
the United States and is set to take place April 13th-15th, 2012. This
is the second installment of what looks to be like an annual event,
with a roster of independent bands and no corporate sponsors to speak
of Way Out West Fest looks to build on last year's success in lieu of
taking place on the same weekend of The Coachella Valley Music and
Arts Annual Festival in Indio, California.

The lineup includes: The Well, Beside Myself, Bobby Joe Ebola and the
Children MacNuggits, Allout Helter, The Mighty Fine, Shovel and Gun,
Static Thought, The Loss, Come On Die Young, The Plurals, American
Lies, Why I Hate, Hands Like Bricks, Horror Squad, Dudes Night, Samuel
Caldwells Revenge, Bonsai, The Shell Corporation, Plainfield Butchers,
Rumspringer, Prosthetic Arms, Civil War Rust, News From The Front,
Seas Will Rise, Said Gun, Fort Worth, The Angry Lemons, Abolitionist,
French Exit, Margate, Tuck & Roll, Radio Crimes, Young///Savage, Tin
Horn Prayer, Holding Onto Sound, Yulia, Perdition, The Sky We Scrape,
Advocate, Lenguas Largas, Success, The Anchor, Arms Aloft, Gunner's
Daughter, The Maxies, Bastards Of Young, The Slow Death, Tiltwheel,
Turkish Techno, BOATS!, Reverend Loose Morals, Rossi H., New York
Taxi, International Dipshit, Jefferson Deathstar, Heroes For Hire,
Flatwheeler, Pretty Boy Thorson, Joey Briggs of the Briggs, Jeff Rowe,
Lizzie Huffman, and The Bertos.

Three day wristbands are only $25 will all wristband profit going to
the bands. More information is available on their website or their Facebook or their Bandcamp, which has tons of free, downloadable music...well, these albums:

Oh...and Boats! will be there!

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/32140517" iframe="true" /]

3May/118

Righteous Indignation?

Posted by ElDorkoPunkRetro

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that" ~ attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., though only partially his words.

I rarely do work as an apologist, but the events of the last few days, since the death of Osama bin Laden, have been filled with some unfair condemnation of those who would celebrate his absence from this world. This is a multidimensional event and care should be given to see it from every angle.

I prefer the more pleasant side of being human. I'm not out there pursuing my enemies to send them into oblivion, but anyone who is willing to order others to kill innocent people is on my list of people who are better dead. There are several "leaders" from around this planet whose deaths would make it a whole lot better, if only their ideas would die with them.

I think it would be wise of us to realize that most of the kids out there dancing in the streets of America would have little recollection of Clinton being in the White House, and to also understand that Osama has been the personification of evil throughout their lives.

While it is sad that this is how humans, and the rest of the animal kingdom, fix their problems, I think adults forget how passionate 16 - 24 year-old humans are and fail to understand that their experience of life is very different and much shorter than "ours". I don't completely comprehend their jubilation, but most of the people doing the “rejoicing” were probably only nine or ten years old when 9/11 happened.

On a day not long after 9/11, after the “no fly” rule went into effect, I was walking with my five year old son to the car. As we walked around the corner of our house the sound of a military aircraft reached us and he scrambled for cover, crying and asking if the terrorists were coming to get us. While I was initially surprised by his enthusiastic response to news of the death of Osama bin Laden, it didn’t take long for me to realize a great, submerged weight had been released from his subconscious mind.

I can understand the shock and frustration of those who feel the need for somber reflection. I also remember the images coming out of the Middle East the day we were attacked. It seems to me, if we can forgive those who danced in the streets on 9/11 over there, we can certainly allow the children of this age of terror the opportunity to celebrate the end of this particular era without harsh judgment and criticism. Perhaps there will be blow-back from this, but for now seems a demon has been exorcised for a generation.

[play-button:http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16850984/Osama/09-Circle_Jerks-Product_of_My_Environment.mp3] Circle Jerks - Product of My Environment Link source

[play-button:http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16850984/Osama/kidsinamerica.mp3] Muffs - Kids in America Link source

[play-button:http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16850984/Osama/01%20Rat%20Patrol.mp3] Naked Raygun - Rat Patrol Link source

[play-button:http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16850984/Dont%20-%20We%20Wont%20Take%20No%20More%20-%20Parte%202/15%20-%20Worlds%20Going%20Insane.mp3] Insane - World's Going Insane Link source

[play-button:http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16850984/Osama/03-Circle_Jerks-Under_the_Gun.mp3] Circle Jerks - Under the Gun Link source

[play-button:http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16850984/Osama/01%20where%20did%20his%20eye%20go.mp3] Dickies - Where Did His Eye Go? Link source