Sunday, June 16, 2013
Got a plain, half bathroom that you're looking to liven up?
Why not make it a (clean!) punk-club powder room? That's the way we roll here in Seattle.
Here's how to achieve it:
* Get some of your classic fliers of gigs you attended and frame them
* Paint the walls a dark color, like blood red in our case
* Funky mirrors are in order, as well as a flashy, glass-beaded chandelier
* Complement with cool candles and other knick-knacks, maybe even a skull...
And voila! You're set.
Fliers from Los Angeles and San Jose gigs:
Black Flag/Adolescents/DOA/Minutemen, 1981
Circle Jerks/Bad Brains/Circle One/Public Nuisance, 1982
TSOL/Adolescents/Wasted Youth/Social Distortion/Youth Brigade/Blades/AKA, 1982
Dischord Records, 1981 ... $2.50 each for seven-inchers!
45 Grave/China White/Social Distortion, 1981
Corrosion of Conformity, Hirax, Beowulf, 1985
Black Flag/45 Grave/DOA/Descendents/Husker Du/UXB, 1982
Sorex/Detonators, 1984 (Cat made Andy put up this gig notice of his band, Sorex)
Adz/Electric Frankenstein/Curbside, mid-'90s
*Didn't attend, but Andy saw them the night before
Monday, June 10, 2013
|Flag's Dez Cadena, Keith Morris and Stephen Egerton. (All Chris Shary photos)|
By Greg Cameron
I was truly disappointed to have missed the "Black Flag" performance at the Goldenvoice 30th anniversary show in Santa Monica last year. When Flag announced that they were going to perform at Punk Rock Bowling and a few other shows in Europe this year, I was very excited that I might have the opportunity to see them. In fact, I immediately pitched the idea to them of performing at the venue I consider my second home here in Nevada City, CA. I also own and run the installed sound system in that venue, the Miners Foundry Cultural Center. So far, Flag seem to be on board with the concept, hopefully it will come to fruition soon.
In any case, I was going to forgo attending PRB in Las Vegas since I figured I'd see them in my own town soon enough. But then at the last minute, I had a change of heart. I really wanted to see my old friends whom I considered my second family for many years. And I wanted to see them perform the tunes that had so inspired me to play music myself. Tunes that conveyed the angst and lack of belonging to the mainstream that I identified with and that I still identify with even now. I was also considering it sort of a diplomatic "mission to Alderaan." I figure being there in person to hang out and reconnect with my longtime friends might inspire them to come play in my town even more. So I sent a few messages to arrange a pass, booked the flight, booked the room and headed out 24 hours later to the desert.
When I arrived on May 27, I headed off to what was the most punk rock hotel situation I had ever seen, The Golden Nugget. It was just a few blocks from the PRB concert stage, so it was the destination of most of the bands and attendees. I haven't seen that many mohawks in decades.
|Egerton shreds it up.|
I hooked up with longtime friend & artist Chris Shary. Chris has been doing the cover, t-shirt and flyer artwork for the Descendents & All as well as a plethora of other well-known bands for a long time. Of course, we immediately headed off to find coffee in the hotel. While having our coffee, we met up with Stephen Egerton, who I finally got to spend some time with catching up. Then a short time later, Bill Stevenson arrived for coffee before heading off to an interview. This was the second time I had seen Bill post-brain surgery to remove a literally grapefruit-sized tumor that was discovered right after a pulmonary embolism, which nearly killed him. The last time I saw Bill was a couple of years ago at FYF Fest in Los Angeles when the Descendents headlined. We didn't really have a chance to talk then, so we started catching up. We would do a lot more catching up after the show.
Bill and Stephen had the interview to do, so I met up with ex-bandmate and longtime friend Chuck Dukowski and his lovely wife Lora Norton, who also is the vocalist in the Chuck Dukowski Sextet. We had lunch and started catching up. Chuck is one of my favorite people on the planet. A genuinely good guy and sharp philosopher. He is also a prolific & talented songwriter. The record label he and his wife Lora run, Nice & Friendly, really is what the name implies. I have mostly Chuck to thank for my life in music aside from Bill and high school best friend Ray Cooper (former guitarist in the Descendents and SWA). Chuck & I started jamming together after he left Black Flag. I was the youngest of the SST crew and Chuck was truly like a big bother that invited me on the journey of a lifetime. It was an experience that shaped my life in ways that otherwise wouldn't have happened. Chuck was the "doer" that made things happen, a personal pillar of support and motivation.
|Chuck Dukowski, the "doer."|
After lunch, it was time to head over to the performance venue. So we met up with the rest of the band at the hotel and loaded them with their instruments into a taxi van. There wasn't enough room for everyone, so Lora and I walked the three blocks to the venue. We actually beat the other guys by five minutes. The taxi dropped them in the wrong spot. As usual for Vegas in the summer, it was hotter than balls. I'm a wuss when it comes to outdoor festival shows these days; I usually won't go anymore unless there's a backstage pass involved and a shaded area. I've attended Warped Tour and Hootenanny on several occasions as a regular attendee. I can't do it anymore. But even in the backstage band tent, it was like an oven. No A/C. I wonder if Devo, who headlined two nights prior, had to sit in the hot tent, too. I figured they'd get better accommodations. But then again, this is "punk rock bowling" and it should be fairly econo, right?
It was several hours until Flag's set, so Chris and I wandered into the concessions area for some caffeinated beverages. Chris got some sort of iced concoction, but I went for my usual: black coffee. A few folks were surprised I'd drink that in nearly 100-degree temperatures. But I live by the Black Flag beverage style as laid out in the tune "Black Coffee" regardless of weather conditions. I'll suffer for the juice. Chris and I caught some of the sets by D.R.I, Subhumans and the Casualties. Just like old times. I felt like I was back in the '80s. Except the PA sounded decent and the crowd control was well organized. There were a ton of people coming out of the pit with broken noses and blood all over them. Lots of sunburn, bruises and sweat. Tats and mohawks as far as the eye could see. I don't know how many folks were in attendance, but it was definitely over 10,000.
The energy for the Flag set was building, you could feel the tension and the excitement.
|Morris in full rage mode.|
As I spent time backstage, I got caught up with other longtime friends I hadn't seen in ages. Dez Cadena, Keith Morris and an introduction to Dimitri Coats, whom I hadn't yet met. Dimitri is managing Flag and plays guitar in OFF! along with Keith. Dimitri is also the person I'm nagging to arrange a Flag performance in Nevada City, though I told him I wouldn't nag him too much that night. And there were some other longtime SST friends to hang out with, too. Longtime friend Rob Holtzman who was Saccharine Trust's original drummer, as well as Jordan Schwartz & Raenie Kane who worked at SST for some time. They all made the trip from L.A. It felt like SST gigs of days gone by, which was nice considering the rifts that have formed since those days. It was also nice to see some old rifts mended, as Flag couldn't exist otherwise.
As set time for Flag approached, Chuck hit me up to play bass tech for the evening. Not a tough job as it basically involved wiring a couple of pieces of his rack gear to tie into the back line bass amp provided by the promoters. I was only too happy to oblige. And it gave me a good excuse to be on stage with the band when some others were getting booted off or pushed to the back of the stage in a less-than-ideal viewing situation. I made my way to monitor world and took up a position next to Gary Tovar. For those not knowledgeable of Gary, he's a co-founder of Goldenvoice who went from being a small L.A. punk rock promoter back in the '80s to one of the biggest concert promoters in North America. Gary is a true fan of the band as well as punk rock in general, and it was good see him there since he was very supportive of Black Flag and SST Records' efforts early on.
|Stepping into it.|
Flag hit the stage not like your typical polished rock acts of today where the techs get everything set up exactly the way the band wants it so they can step out on stage looking larger than life without a thing out of place. Quite the contrary. Flag came out like they were showing up at band practice. Bill arranged his drums and checked final tuning. I got Chuck's amp setup hooked up, but he plugged in his own bass and tweaked things the way he liked them. Same with Stephen and Dez. It took a bit of time to get the monitor mixes dialed up. Keith gave a little technical explanation to the crowd as to how Flag was getting their line check in and that they're not always able to get a full sound check, especially at these festival-style shows. Really, this is truly DIY punk rock, and it was happening at big outdoor show in front of a huge crowd. Like Mugger (aka Steve Corbin, former co-owner of SST & Black Flag roadie) would have said about 25 years ago, "this isn't Van Halen!"
After Flag was up and running, they came out with both barrels blazing in terms of energy. They broke right into "Revenge" and then segued into "Fix Me." Stephen and Bill delivered the power and tightness as members of the Descendents would. Chuck hammered on his bass as if it were a race horse fighting to the finish, just like the first time I saw him perform over 30 years ago. And Dez grinded out the rhythmic guitar wall of sound that the "Damaged"-album era of Black Flag was well known for. Keith, never one to not give it his all, was a vocal force. The classic Keith-era songs sounded like, well, Keith-era Flag. Full-tilt boogie and no holds barred. And the tunes he didn't record or perform had his signature style and spin.
|Morris: going for it.|
It was a great night. You could feel the energy and the crowd anticipation was well rewarded. I don't think anyone went away dissatisfied, including the band. Nor me. Nor the guy that had to be taken away in an ambulance after he was pummeled in the pit. That guy refused to be treated until he got his picture with the band.
I'm really looking forward to seeing another Flag performance. With some luck, it will be here in my town and in my second home.
|I see the world through/ Keith's eyes. (Chris Shary art)|
Sunday, June 9, 2013
|Bundesliga journey achieved: Monchengladbach's Borussia-Park. (Cat and Andy photos)|
By Cat and Andy
"You must drink beer to support your team."
That is a rule, according to the red-faced elderly Monchengladbach fan speaking to a 20-something traveler on the bus headed toward Borussia-Park for a Friday match versus FC Augsburg on April 19.
First, let's backtrack: As we toddled off the train ride from Amsterdam with our online tickets clutched in hands, we asked the information man at the nearby bus station were there any cool places to hang out pre-game. He quipped, "this is Monchengladbach, there are no cool places."
Not to be denied, we wandered left through the sterile downtown area, searching for the holy grail of soccer-fan bars. We were clearly headed in the wrong direction when we saw two groups of fans headed the opposite way and we turned back. Soon, we noticed more fans with painted faces, flags and even one guy blasting the Monchengladbach song from a boombox on his shoulder.
We journeyed further and popped into a hookah lounge, which appeared to be the only open drinking establishment around. Cat enjoyed a Spanish Kiss (a creamy berry delight with vodka) and Andy grabbed a Heineken as we watched a group of ladies having a hookah-fest. As the smoke filled the air, we heard sounds from outside, and there stood the King, crown on head, Monchengladbach flag worn as a cape and an obligatory beer in hand. Game on, we said.
We knocked back our drinks quickly and headed outside to locate the King and his subjects. But he had disappeared just as quickly as he entered the scene.
So we ventured back to the bus circle, thinking we should head to the stadium. We were at a loss for any further action in that area. Right in front of our eyes, though, there was a very plain-looking building we thought was a restaurant, featuring a small beer sign and door cracked open. We thought, what the hell, and went inside.
As we entered the bar, it was as if you could hear the soccer gods and their choir singing to us. The Monchengladbach fight song -- backed by rock music on the jukebox -- was one that we would hear nearly 20 times during the next few hours. This is the place we were searching high and low for: excited fans (check), banners (check), huge soccer mural (check), punk soccer songs (check), etc. We would have been bummed had we not given this place a shot. We were elated!
|Andy and Monchengladbach mural.|
Now, back to the bus ride toward the match. Nearly everybody had a beer in hand, except us, as we didn't know that could be done. We soaked up the atmosphere, and luckily the ride wasn't too long since we were anxious to follow the "golden rule" quoted at the beginning.
At the park, FanHaus was the piece de resistance -- the shit: beer flowing, sausages grilling, soccer fans singing, band playing ... football heaven. While partaking in our delicious sausages, Andy chatted with a guy wearing a Corrosion of Conformity T-shirt and his friends. He posed for a picture, a fry in mouth and buddies attempting to give him a tittie-twister.
We reconvened with our new friends from the prior bar, who were glad that we made it to FanHaus. The translator lady insisted, "I am the man, yes?" about directing us to this wonderful place. The mullet guy emphatically stated, "We must drink now." Agreed upon.
Oh yeah, the match, right? It was awesome, of course. Everything that we dreamed a Bundesliga game would be. We even imagined classic Soccer Made in Germany announcer Toby Charles' voice in our heads.
On the beer front, the wandering stadium server offered fresh-poured hops from the mini-keg backpack he wore. As he walked by, Cat got his attention by knocking on the keg to see if any beer was home. We scored with a pint of Becks ...not long before Monchengladbach scored what would be the winning goal in the first half on a PK. The home side prevailed 1-0 on this eve.
All in all, the dream of attending a Bundesliga match being achieved was worth the 4 a.m. arrival back at our Amsterdam hotel after the return trip. We slept tight, mates.
P.S. We support Bayern Munich, but Monchengladbach was the closest place to travel on our trip. They didn't disappoint.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
|Bettie Serveert: Carol van Dijk with (from left) Joppe Molenaar, Herman Bunskoeke and Peter Visser. |
(Tinca Veerman photo)
Andy and I always make it a point to check out the opening bands at shows, especially when we've never heard or seen them before. That is how we have found much of our favorite music.
Case in point: As we wandered into Club Oasis in San Jose, CA in 1992 with our friend Sean Cooper, we did not know what we were in for. We had gone there to see the band Come and, of course, got there early to partake of some beverages and check out the opening act. When Holland's Bettie Serveert hit the stage, we were mesmerized.
From their quiet bits to their wall of sound, which comes at you with this celestial voice above it, at the time I kind of thought it was Led Zeppelin-esque with a female singer. I was in...so was Sean, and he immediately purchased a "Palomine" T-shirt as soon as they were done.
Henceforth, two decades later, and they are still one of my favorite bands. To quote the classic line from the movie "Office Space," "I celebrate their entire catalogue." From the haunting "Brain Tag" to the current bouncy, rockin' "Shake-Her," I dig it all and every album has its own feel. But my favorite album will always be "Lamprey." Just as Crass' "Penis Envy" is my go-to record when I am pissed off at the end of the night, Bettie's "Lamprey" is my go-to when I am in a pensive mood. I put on "Keepsake," and it is all good. I am instantly content...
So having them in our blog was a must, and here is a Q and A via email from Amsterdam with Betties Peter Visser (guitar) and Carol van Dijk (vocals, guitar).
* We first saw you when you toured with Come in 1992. What were some highlights of that tour?
Peter: That must have been our first American tour, I believe. We were all extremely excited.
First half was with Superchunk and in Minneapolis Come joined for the rest of the tour.
Everything was new and overwhelming to us, inexperienced geeks from Holland.
Come was a great band, we've toured with them many times.
We became friends and learned a lot. Chris Brokaw and Thalia Zedek had this guitar weaving-thing that was really inspiring for Carol and me. Also: their shows had something dangerous to them. You never quite knew what could happen.
Carol: Totally agree with Peter. Funny coincidence… tonight Come will be playing here in Amsterdam with the original line-up and Peter, Herman (Bunskoeke, bassist) and I are very excited to see them again after all these years!
|Carol and Herman rock Seattle. (Diana Mivelli photo)|
*What's 2013 Bettie Serveert like compared to 1992 Bettie?
Peter: Again a 4-piece band, kind of wild and fresh, but of course much older.
Carol: …not much wiser, though :)
* What's your favorite Bettie album and why?
Peter: To choose one is to kill your other children.
For me almost every album has some stuff to cherish on it.
"Palomine" was the big kick-off for our career, we still play some songs to this day.
"Log 22" was our "art-school" album. We told ourselves: "What ever we like we can do! No limitations."
And although there might be too many songs on it, or some songs could use some editing: I still have very fond memories of that album and the times it was made.
"Pharmacy Of Love" was the first time working with energetic, hard-hitting drummer Joppe Molenaar.
That meant: Earplugs!! First time recording in La Chapelle Studios in Belgium.
"Oh, Mayhem!" is our last one and I like it because it's fresh, short, snappy and sometimes wild.
Carol: Honestly, I can not choose between them. Every record we’ve made so far has its own story & vibe: they are different adventures or chapters, if you will.
The way I see it is that in the past 22 years we’ve been playing in different bands that all had the same name: Bettie Serveert.
* You straddle the line nicely between soft and heavy (sometimes in the same song, sometimes not), what were some influences in finding your sound(s)?
Peter: Not sure if that's a question for me because I mostly react on bits and pieces that Carol brings to the drawing board.
In general, I guess our influences go from Blondie to Mars Volta and all in between.
Carol: True. There are so many different kinds of music that we love and are influenced by. The one thing that has always been important to us if finding an alternative to whatever is mainstream, that’s why they call our music "alternative rock."
|Bettie fliers from the TSHIT collection.|
* How has "Oh, Mayhem!" been received so far by fans? How does this album rank for you compared to all the other records?
Carol: So far we’ve had great reviews and we’re really happy about that! After we finish a new album, we never know how people will react. I guess that people who liked "Pharmacy of Love" see an obvious connection to "Oh, Mayhem!" The live set that we’ve been playing the last couple of months is a mixture of those two records plus some all-time favourites, which works really well.
* From earlier songs like "Brain Tag" and "Under the Surface" to new ones like "Shake-Her" and "Had2Byou," where does your lyrical inspiration come from?
Carol: Most of the lyrics are very personal, but they don’t necessarily have to be about my own life. It could be about people around me who are dear to me, for instance. Or writing in the "you-form" could mean that I’m sort of talking to myself.
I hardly ever explain what the songs are about, because I think it’s better when people make up their own mind and connect their own stories to them.
The moment we release a record, the songs take on their own life and we have to let go.
* Music can be a moving experience for listeners, how does playing Bettie songs make you feel?
Peter: I hope that our music covers every aspect of the human emotion.
For me playing Bettie songs can be comforting, it can make me happy, sad, melancholy, aggressive, I can be moved by it, it can be funny, irritating, joyful.
Carol: Playing live shows is a very emotional thing for us, because the songs are emotional. We interact and feed on each others' playing, as well.
People have asked me why I often close my eyes while singing… well, it’s because a lot of the time I can see the "story" behind the lyrics like a movie playing in my mind. As if it was projected on the inside of my eyelids.
* What were your aspirations when starting the band? How do you feel about everything looking back... and moving ahead?
Carol: We were just a bunch of close friends who loved writing & playing songs together: no goals, no plans, no real ambition other than having fun & pleasing ourselves. Within 8 months after we started, the whole thing exploded and we were signed to Matador and started touring all over the globe. It was like being inside a hurricane!
We never expected people to like our music and were very surprised about all the commotion.
The first thing we had to learn was to be "a band on tour." Not every musician is made to be on tour: a lot of them get homesick and are not accustomed to the chaotic lifestyle, eating & sleeping at random hours. But for Herman, Peter and I, it’s always been and still is one of our favourite parts of being in a band!
|Carol. (Sjors Schuitemaker photo)|
* Why did you split up after only one gig in 1986? What was the Bettie sound like in '86,
similar to how we first heard you in 1992?
Carol: We split up, because at the time Peter and Herman were playing in De Artsen and they were starting to get noticed. I was their live sound-mixer and a HUGE fan of their music, so it made sense to focus on their band.
Plus our first drummer (not Berend Dubbe) left the band to become a steward for some airline company (I kid you not).
Our sound was quite different back then and guess what?: Peter also sang some of the songs! We still have recordings of them, but Peter doesn’t want other people to hear them…
* What's life like in the Amsterdam area? What do you all do when you're not playing music?
Carol: We’ve been living in Amsterdam for more than 25 years now, and like most people here, we have a love-hate relationship with the city, but I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else! Most of the time it’s quite relaxed. We have rent-controlled apartments for people who don’t have a big income, some nice venues for bands to play and great restaurants that are affordable.
Speaking of restaurants, Herman is a chef cook when he’s not playing with the Betties!
Peter and I do most of the management and also run our own record label Palomine Records, when we’re not writing or recording new songs.
I still love riding my bike through the inner city, the old parts of Amsterdam, watching all the impressive historic buildings.
* Have you ever met Bettie Stöve (a former Dutch tennis player)? She had great success on the tennis circuit, are you fans of her tennis playing?
Peter: Never met her, but she knows about the band. When we played Pinkpop (biggest festival in Holland) in 1993, she sent us a telegram.
Neither of us plays tennis. Bettie Serveert was just a funny name for a band, we thought.
Carol: Actually, Berend Dubbe came up with the name. (Editor's note: Bettie Serveert translates to "Bettie to serve.")
* What's next for the band, lots of touring, possibly the US? How was the recent string of shows?
Carol: We just did a 3-months tour in the Netherlands, about 26 shows, which was awesome. There are some other shows booked for later this year and we might do some festivals or do some shows in Great Britain and Germany.
But in the meantime we’ve started writing new songs: we played one of them last Friday and people seemed to enjoy it, so that’s very encouraging!
We would love to play in the US again, but since 2009 the work visas have become so expensive that it’s almost impossible for a small band like ours to come up with that kind of money. We don’t have tour-support: we pay for everything ourselves.
On the other hand, we can’t tour without a work visa, because we will be kicked out of the country the moment we go through customs.
Most people don’t know this (because most bands won’t say it out loud), but it takes ± 5 months to apply for a US work visa and $4,000… and it’s non-refundable when you get denied (which almost happened to us in 2010).
In comparison: a Canadian work visa would take about 2 weeks and $400. American bands who tour in Europe don’t have to go through that kind of trouble, either.
In my honest opinion, I don’t think it’s fair.
So let’s hope for small miracles and maybe one day we’ll be able to do another US tour!
Friday, May 24, 2013
|Roni Lee belts out a tune in Seattle. (All Cat Rose photos)|
"Punk-A-Rama!" Andy yelled out to Roni Lee as she and her band prepared to launch into another song at last Saturday's University District Street Fair in Seattle.
Lee smiled and mentioned to the crowd that she used to play in Venus and the Razorblades in 1977 in Hollywood. "That's from the album 'Songs from the Sunshine Jungle,'" she noted.
"We just broke that album out today," Andy replied.
"Well, you just made my day," she added with a shake of the head.
Lee, who wrote songs with the Runaways and Kim Fowley, tore through a 45-minute set, including her signature song, "I Wanna Be Where the Boys Are," which the Runaways also played back in the day.
Rock on, Roni.
|Bassist Lynn Sorensen and drummer Jeff Kathan.|
Saturday, May 18, 2013
|Evil Ronald McD in Amsterdam. (All Cat Rose photos)|
On our recent trip to Berlin and Amsterdam, we had some specific "sightseeing" that was more up our "alley". This included checking out local punk and metal bars and, of course, the Ramones Museum in Berlin -- but more on that later...
On our fantastic journey, we found that the street art spoke to us.
From the backstreets by the coolest punk bar in Amsterdam (and maybe almost anywhere) -- Cafe the Minds -- to the Straßes of the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg area of Berlin, including the Eastside Gallery paintings on 1.3 kilometers of the Berlin Wall, street art was everywhere. Here are a few shots of some of this amazing painted landscape...