Friday, November 8, 2013

THE LEGION OF DOOM - Practice Demo 1985

Spending my teen years in San Jose, CA in the 80s, I was anxious to start a hardcore band. The only problem was I only had a small handful of friends who were into it like I was.  And none of us played any instruments. Or at least, we didn't play them well. On top of that, I didn't have a car or a driver's license, so I was pretty much stuck in my little suburban island, waiting for relief to arrive.

One day, some younger dudes from my high school started a punk band called THE LEGION OF DOOM. They played Buzzcocks covers, and wrote some of their own tunes, which were along the lines of Posh Boy type SoCal punk, but without the melody.  Eventually, their singer quit. With me being a self-promoting loudmouth, not to mention the only guy in school who walked around with a homemade anti-Reagan T-shirt, I ended up in the band.
I liked their old songs, but they insisted on writing new ones that were slightly more metal. They were drifting towards mainstream rock, right at the time I was hoping to make an impact with a decent hardcore punk band.  We played a few really good shows... not that we were necessarily "really good", but the line-ups were, and I was excited to brag about how we played with those other bands.  The other guys didn't share my enthusiasm.  They wanted me to take voice lessons so we could "go metal".  I wanted them to play shorter and faster, so I could scream.  Alas, my teenage dream of becoming a hardcore superstar was not in the cards.

We went into the studio to record twice, we were included on two compilations, but our imprint on the local punk scene was non-existent.  If anyone remembers us, it's because they confused our band with the much more prolific Boom And The Legion Of Doom from Michigan (ironically, years later I ended up becoming good friends with Bill Board aka Smelly aka Jeff from B&TLOD when he moved to California).

Here's a copy of our rehearsal demo from 1985.  We re-recorded all of these songs on our actual studio demo, but the rawness of this garage recording is more suitable to how the band actually sounded.

THE LEGION OF DOOM - Practice Demo 1985

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

STIKKY - Clown Alley cover and "Hippycore" comp track

I'm sure you were just sitting at home thinking, "I really need to hear a couple rare STIKKY tracks, but only if the quality is shitty."  Well, this is your lucky day, my friend.

First up is our song from the Hippycore compilation 7" "Metal Gives Us A Headache".  Our track is "I Want To Hear Horns".  The song title was a quote by Joel Wing, former bass player from Corrupted Morals, who was one of the founding members of Dance Hall Crashers.  Like many of our comrades from the East Bay / Gilman scene, with the rise of Operation Ivy, he transitioned from a hardcore kid into a ska punk kid. Hence, his proclamation one evening, "I want to hear horns!"  So silly we had to use it.  Speaking of silly, on this tune we integrated hardcore with a Barry Manilow song, and then ended with a Virulence tribute (which was cut short on the record). This track was recorded at Chris & Todd Wilder's house, in Todd's bedroom where we always practiced.  It was recorded on 4-track by Steve Von Till, or local pal from Transgressor who eventually joined Neurosis and lived up to his true Nordic potential (I mean the guy served a roasted pig and mead at his first wedding). That's Wayne Vanderkuil, Jack Kahn (Hippycore, Desecration) and Jeff Bowers (Last Option) on the cover of the comp.  Probably 1988.  4-track recording, on poorly mastered vinyl, and now transferred to MP3 via a super cheap Ion Duo Deck. Sounds like crap. One day I'll find the original cassette and put that up on this site instead.  I believe we recorded an extra song in that same session... a Criminal Class song called "Blood On The Streets", one of our joke skinhead anthems.  I'll post that sometime as well, if I ever find it. 
STIKKY - "I Want To Hear Horns"

Next up on the shit parade is from the only time anyone ever bothered to bootleg a STIKKY song.  We were fans of nearly every hardcore band, and we often played covers on the spot.  We were big fans of CLOWN ALLEY and often ran into vocalist Dave Duran at Gilman.  One night we told him we wanted to play the Clown Alley song "On The Way Up" if he sang it.  He agreed.  We did it.  He got completely lost.  It was a minor trainwreck.  Somehow this recording ended up on a Gilman compilation bootleg double 7" called "Gilman Street Block Party".  On the back cover, the bootleg was justified as a supposed benefit for East Bay Armed Response, whatever that made-up charity was.  So, here's a poorly EQ-ed soundboard recording, ripped from vinyl on the same crummy Ion Duo Deck.  Enjoy!
STIKKY - "On The Way Up"

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

NO USE FOR A NAME - "Hole" demo 1991

Turns out today is the one year anniversary of Tony Sly's passing.  Tony is best known as the frontman for No Use For A Name. He was always an awesome guy.  I don't think I ever had a disagreement with him.  Always very even-tempered, mellow, reasonable, likeable, and I always felt like we were on the same page... overall, just a good friggin' guy.

As mentioned in prior writings, I was in and out of NUFAN no fewer than 3 times.  The third and final time I was on 2nd guitar.  At that point, I was establishing an identity in extreme music (in other words, everything NUFAN was not) through my reviews of all noisecore, grind, thrash, hardcore, and power violence releases in Maximum RockNRoll, and also through my label, Slap A Ham Records.  So, what was I doing in this melodic punk band?  First off, I was itching to play, since STIKKY no longer played, but I couldn't find anyone in the SF Bay Area to start a pissed-off hardcore band with.  It just wasn't "cool".  Secondly, with the ever-revolving door of NUFAN members, I tended to be the default guy they'd call when someone else quit. I was childhood friends with the NUFAN guys and had co-founded the band with Steve & Rory.  So, me & my tacky yellow BC Rich made the rounds with No Use yet again in the early 90's.

At that point, Tony was starting to tap into what would eventually become the NUFAN sound. It wasn't fully there, but in retrospect you could tell it was starting to formulate, especially in comparison with the earlier releases.  Steve was taking classes at a place in the South Bay somewhere called the College For Recording Arts.  The recording students needed a band to experiment on, so we went in for a couple hours & recorded one of our newest songs, "Hole".  Still a pretty good track, which ended up being re-recorded for the "Don't Miss The Train" album.  Tony wrote it, and was clearly showing some Bad Religion thesaurus-core sensibilities.  I remember we sort of gave him a hard time about using the word "mendaciously" in a song. Although I'm willing to bet money this is the only song in recorded history with "mendaciously" in the lyrics, so that's saying something right there.

Anyhow, for those of you who are die-hard NU-fans, here's that extremely rare demo track.

Cheers to the memory of Tony, and much love to the Sly family!

NO USE FOR A NAME - "Hole" demo 1991

Thursday, July 25, 2013

JESUS PHILBIN / BASTARD NOISE - collaboration 2002

As mentioned in my EAST WEST BLAST TEST posting below, around the turn of the Millennium, I was trying to figure out "what's next".  Aside from my allegiance to hardcore, I listened to a bit of everything, but was intrigued by noise.  As a kid, I used to make strange cut-and-paste cassettes of odd samples from various records and spontaneous moments taken from the radio.  Little did I know until many, many years later that people have been doing such things for 50-60 years plus, and actually had fans!

In the 90's, Eric Wood used Man Is The Bastard as a vehicle to broaden the scope of extreme music, by merging violent instruments and vocals with searing electronics. A unique combination that has since inspired untold legions of musicians and noisemakers alike.  Wood and I had been friends since about 1988, and aside from my occasional guest vocals with MITB, we had never collaborated musically. 

In 1999 I finally got off my ass and figured out how to create some decent noise tracks, something other than simply looping distortion and delay pedals.  Out of this exploration, JESUS PHILBIN was born.  I released the "Subterranean Electronic Blasphemy" album on Jon Kortland's (Iron Lung / Gob / Pig Heart Transplant / Dead Language) label Satan's Pimp.  After that followed a handful of smaller releases. But I'd never performed live, doing the noise thing.

In 2001, I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles and after spending many hours with Mr. Wood, a collaboration was eminent. MITB had broken up, and BASTARD NOISE was going strong with a stripped down line up of only Eric Wood and John Wiese.  After much discussion (and ultimately a show invite from Enterruption), Wood, Wiese, and I ended up collaborating live... strangely enough back up in San Francisco.  I returned to SF a year after moving.  I had worked so hard to escape The City in 2001, and finally had the mental wherewithal to return.  The former dotcom douchebag-generating conveyor belt had finally ceased operation, and many parts of SF looked like a ghost town.  A "new economy" based solely on greed had finally collapsed, leaving a swath of vacant storefronts and a lack of culture in its path.  The perfect setting for an electronic onslaught.

This is the only recording of BASTARD NOISE and JESUS PHILBIN, Wiese / Wood / Dodge.  It was released many years ago as the first track on the long out of print Bastard Noise "Sound Engine" CD.

Expand that melon!

Bastard Noise / Jesus Philbin - live collaboration 2002

EAST WEST BLAST TEST - home demos (2000)

Dave Witte was always one of my favorite drummers.  He's one of the rare players who "gets it", who understands that brutality still needs a groove, for lack of a better word.  His blast beats were not only executed with precision, but also with style.  And thus, I spent the better part of the '90s wishing I could be in a band with this guy.  The problem is we lived 3,000 miles apart.

I used to record a lot at home on my Tascam 8-channel cassette recorder.  Whenever I recorded, I always started with the drum track, then I'd build the guitars on top of it.  After realizing neither Dave nor I would be in the same room long enough to write songs together, let alone record, I came up with the idea of a East Coast / West Coast long-distance collab via the postal service.  We would approach it the same way... without any lead from me, Dave would go in the studio and record drum tracks, based solely on improvisation.  Then he would send me the drums and I'd add my parts to whatever it is he came up with.  These days with easy home recording & file sharing access, this isn't a big deal, but at the time it was a semi mind-blowing concept.  No really.  You need to put it in the context of the time, around 1999. People flipped out when I told them how we were doing this album.  I'm sure similar efforts existed in the past, but in our scene, it was something largely unheard of.

Dave recorded drums to 16-track 2" tape back in New Jersey, then he sent the reel to me in San Francisco, and I recorded guitars, bass, noise, and vocals in Oakland with Bart Thurber.  This was a time in my life when I was trying to branch out and figure out what my "next thing" was going to be.  I still loved hardcore, but I was searching for something to push the boundaries. In listening to this album, it's clear I was incorporating a good share of Agata / Melt-Banana worship into these tracks.  This album was in the can in 2000 and was released on my own Slap A Ham label, on CD-only, because people had stopped buying vinyl at that point (and very soon after, stopped buying CDs as well).

The name of our project was actually NOT East West Blast Test.  I released this album under our names.  It was actually a CHRIS DODGE / DAVE WITTE album, and the name of the album was "East West Blast Test".  It wasn't meant to be egotistical... I was actually doing for a new angle in hardcore, inspired by my favorite jazz releases.  At the time, I was listening to a ton of early '60s releases on the legendary Blue Note label, and all of these albums were released under the names of the players, not a band name, per se.  And if you look at our album art, it was also intended as a tribute to those Rudy Van Gelder era Blue Note releases:

Overall, did we succeed?  Not really, but it was a valiant effort.  It's a short album, maybe too short.  It's an album that could have used a little something extra.  We experimented, but after it was completed I knew I hadn't pushed far enough.  Any shortcomings about this album can be attributed to me 100%.  Despite that, some people really liked it.
This album was re-released a few years later by Relapse, with slightly updated artwork, and at that point we agreed to properly name our project EAST WEST BLAST TEST.  We maintained the Blue Note art vibe, a bit more successfully this time.

Several years later, we released a second album on the Ipecac label.  It's much more varied than the first, but also arguably a lot less focused, and somewhat random.  Not a success by any means, in fact most fans of the first album didn't even know the 2nd album existed.  It was written and recorded during a very odd and turbulent point in my life, which was both exciting and soul-crushing.  More about that another time.

The first album is still in print via Relapse, so out of respect I'm not posting it for now.  But before I went to record my guitars in the studio, I made a cassette of Dave's drums and fleshed out some demos on my trusty Tascam at home.  Here are 4 songs from the home recordings, heard by no one but Dave and myself until now:
EAST WEST BLAST TEST - home demos (2000)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

MAXIMUMROCKNROLL Radio Show #493 - 9/15/91

During my pre-teen and teenage years, Maximum RockNRoll was my bible. In those pre-internet years, MRR was one of the only resources to connect to the worldwide hardcore punk community.  I sent contributions to the mag throughout the '80s... letters, San Jose scene reports, lame interviews with local bands.  Some were published, some were not (thankfully). 
When I moved to San Francisco from San Jose in 1988, I became a regular "Shitworker" at MRR, editing, creating cut 'n' paste layouts, and writing a lot more. And I was the only one who liked the more extreme tunes, so by default I got all of the good records for review.
Also based out of the MRR House in SF was their radio show.  Early on, they broadcasted live weekly from KPFK in Berkeley.  Eventually, it migrated to the house.  It was recorded on cassette with two turntables, two mics, and a mixer.  We were surrounded by Tim Yo's record library, but the focus of the show was typically new releases.  Anyone who wanted to host a radio show was welcome to, so I tried my hand at it a few times. 
This is a copy of a new release hour I emceed on 9/15/91.  I had recently released the first 7" by CAPITALIST CASUALTIES, "The Art Of Ballistics" on Slap A Ham, so naturally it got a few plugs.
Here it is in all its glory, recorded in the basement of the old MRR house at Clipper & Diamond streets. Marvel at my deadpan hosting skills, while DJ Last Will spins the turntables, including the occasional record starting at the wrong speed, and the fader being left down during Splatterreah.  Punk rock.

MRR Radio - 9.15.91

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Carefree Highway: Recent interview on the CARGO CULTE podcast

Recently my pal Isreal Lawrence aka TheAllSeeingI invited me to be part of his podcast.  I got to choose a playlist of anything I wanted, and we were going to chat about whatever came up.

We ended up talking a lot about the beginnings and endings of Slap A Ham Records, Spazz, Despise You, Infest, my move from SF to LA, and my personal failures and new beginnings throughout the new millenium.

Music-wise, I chose not to go the obvious "power violence" route, and instead chose all '70s and early '80s Comfort Rock songs (my own phrase for what's known as Soft Rock, Yacht Rock, etc.).

It's a long one, over 3 hours (!), but if you're gearing up for a long roadtrip, or need a cure for insomnia, this may be a good starting point.

If you want to listen to a streaming version, go here:

You can find it in iTunes: 

And you can also download an MP3 version here:

Sunday, May 12, 2013

BURN YOUR BRIDGES - demo (2002)

I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2001.  SPAZZ had just broken up because I was moving, although in spite of my move it also felt like "it was time"... we could keep putting out the same records over & over and become stale, or call it quits while people still cared what we were doing.  So, my relocation was good timing for preserving the integrity of the band.
When I got to LA, I wasn't really sure what my next move was.  I had a ton of friends down here, and I'm always driven to do something creative, but band-wise I didn't know what direction I was headed.  I jammed with a few drummers, like Etay Levy from Lana Dagales (we have some practice recordings somewhere that I recall sounded like early Italian HC meets Melt-Banana).  But overall the hardcore scene felt different.  I was still running Slap A Ham Records, but it's popularity was quickly waning.  Everyone was buying CD burners, so creating CDs was pointless.  No one wanted vinyl, so I stopped pressing it. And a most folks acted like hardcore/power violence was "over".  I felt it, too  In general, musically it didn't seem like anything new & exciting was going on.  Of course there were new bands & new releases here & there that I liked, but nothing truly grabbed my attention. It felt like the past decade was spent observing a brutality contest. Who can be the most brutal, the heaviest, the fastest, the most extreme.  Extreme music had reached a cookie-cutter level and nothing stood out as being exceptional anymore.  I was fed up with the word itself and the approach to everything "extreme".  So, I started thinking about what I loved about hardcore in the first place. Riffs you could hear, shouted words you could understand and sing along with. Songs that actually stuck in your head after you heard them once or twice.
When I started jamming with my old pal Bob from Deep Six Records / Lack Of Interest, he clearly had the perfect straight ahead hardcore style to drumming.  He's not about the double kick and blast beats; his approach was traditional hardcore: fast, tight, and stop-on-a-dime precision.  His style of playing inspired me to go back to the roots of it all. We started writing songs together, but instead of following the Spazz path, I wanted to pull it back a few notches, and just write straight forward hardcore that sounded more like the early bands.... the stuff from my pre-teen & teen years of trading demo cassettes through the mail. Songs that were aggressive and fast, but not overly fast, with snotty shouted vocals that you could somewhat understand, not just gruff grunts and growls. Less "power violence" (yes, kids... two words, not one), and more HC.
We wrote about 30 songs together, and struggled for months to figure out a name for the band.  Bob was pushing for DEAD MAN'S GLORY (it was a phrase he was really driven by, for some reason) which we kept for a while, but after really thinking about it, there were way too many bands in existence, past and present, that had the word Dead in the name. All of the lyrics I was writing were reflecting my negative attitude towards the hardcore punk scene in general, and disappointment in my own life, primarily my unhappiness in my then-marriage to my first wife. With lyrics like these, I was bound to burn some bridges. Hence, I came up with the name BURNING BRIDGES.  Bob liked it, but after a few weeks it kind of sounded like Burning Britches.  Instead of people thinking of us as "that underwear band", we modified it to BURN YOUR BRIDGES.
Although we knew a million bass players, we really didn't feel like bringing anyone else into the fold.  So BYB remained a two-piece.  I recorded our demo on my Tascam 8-track.  Slap A Ham was closing up shop. Bob still had his own Deep Six label.  But we still sent out our demo to a few friend's labels to see if they'd be interested in releasing anything.  No bites, and little interest, so we eventually recorded our one & only album for Deep Six.
Over the next few years, BYB played a handful of shows, which I barely remember, and after the album, Bob & I wrote around 20+ new songs, but they were never recorded.  I was very self-critical of our material, and only used what I considered to be the best tracks. There are actually 7-8 unused studio songs we recorded for our album, which I never added vocals on.  Maybe I'll post those some day.
Overall, reaction to BYB was lukewarm.  I don't think a lot of kids knew what we were trying to do.  The scene was still in "brutal" mindset, and we were decidedly non-brutal.
Here's our demo in all of its glory.  Until now, probably less than 10 people have ever heard it.  Basically just home recordings of what eventually ended up on our album.  Enjoy.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

STIKKY - Demo #3 + unreleased track (1987)

In 1986, I was doing vocals for a skate punk band called THE LEGION OF DOOM, comprised of guys from my high school.  I was always pushing my bandmates to play faster, and be more hardcore.  After a couple years, they were now getting over their "punk phase", and wanted to "turn metal".  I saw the writing on the wall, and clearly LEGION OF DOOM was not going to become the hardcore juggernaut that I envisioned.
Around this same time, I discovered a demo from a local band called STIKKY.  I bought the demo from Sessions skate shop in Sunnyvale.  Turns out STIKKY guitarist Chris Wilder was previously in another local band I really liked called ARSENAL, where he played a bass guitar that he built himself, which was shaped like a machine gun.  I remember seeing ARSENAL open a huge show (can't remember, maybe it was Agent Orange?) at the San Jose Convention Center, where they played a thrash version of the "Sesame Street" theme song.  It being my teen years, this was comedy gold.
I don't remember how, but I ended up being STIKKY's roadie and biggest fan. They were doing exactly what I wanted to do... they were playing every song fast.  Drummer/vocalist Todd Wilder was one of the most talented & unique hardcore drummers around, and no one realized it (and still don't).  He had a trademark method of rolling his kick pedal, basically making his single kick sound like a double kick.
I hung out at all of the practices, and eventually The Wilder Bros, myself, and Big Wayne became a close knit group who spent nearly every day listening to hardcore, going to shows, and mostly hanging out and acting like dorks. In early 1987, bassist Jamie Porter stopped showing up for practice.  Not sure why he was flaking, but he seemed to be getting bored with it all.  The Wilder Bros called me up and said "If Jamie doesn't show up today, you're going to be our new bass player."  Jamie didn't show up; I was in the band.  I actually didn't own a bass or an amp, so I borrowed this enormous Gibson from Big Wayne.  It was awkward for playing hardcore, and it weighed a freakin' ton. Within a month or so, I found a good fit with a cheap Peavey bass, which in retrospect was a piece of crap, but I loved it at the time.
In April 1987, I played my first show with STIKKY:  At Gilman with MDC and Gang Green. The opening band was Operation Ivy (it was Op Ivy's first club show... their actual first show was in Dave Mello's garage, I saw them there as well).  Either that evening or the next time we played, Tim Yohannan hit us up to contribute to an upcoming Maximum RockNRoll compilation.  I felt like I'd hit the big time.  MRR zine was my monthly bible, and the "Welcome To 1984" MRR comp LP was one of my all-time favorite records. And now Tim Yo was hitting up one of MY bands!  I couldn't believe it.
By June 1987, STIKKY had written several new songs & it was time to record Demo #3. Our friend Fred Sablan recorded it on his 4-track in his garage. Many years later, around 2006, I played a one-off show with Fred at the Knitting Factory for his project Birthday Twin. There were about 15 people there. If you look up Fred these days, he's playing bass for some skinny goth dude named Marilyn Manson.
Anyhow, STIKKY Demo #3 was the "Choose your own title" demo. 11 songs of that patented, sing-songy hardcore mayhem.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, Todd Wilder is one of the earliest, unsung drummers to play a blast beat before it even had a name.  It was just his way of figuring out how to play even faster than he already did.  Listen to "Pollution Rules", "Russia Nuked Themselves", or the end of "Don't Look Now", and you'll hear what I'm talking about. Maybe it's not "fast" by today's standards, but keep in mind this was 1987... many, many years before there was a grindcore band loitering on every street corner.
In addition to the standard demo, I've included the demo recording of "Moshometer" which was never released.  We recorded this the same day as the demo, and gave it to Tim Yo for the compilation.  Instead of using our thin, 4-track recording, MRR decided to spring for studio time, so this first version of "Moshometer" was scrapped. Later in the summer we re-recorded "Moshometer" and another track for the "Turn It Around" 2x7" comp.


STIKKY - Demo #3 + unreleased track (1987)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Possessed To Skate

Back around 1997, SPAZZ drummer Max Ward's 625 Productions & DESPISE YOU vocalist Chris Elder's Pessimiser Records co-released the landmark thrash/punk/hardcore/power violence compilation album "Possessed To Skate".

Long out of print, and not reissued on any of the three "Sweatin' To The Oldies" volumes (*Post Script: actually they were, but that collection is out of print as well), here are the SPAZZ tracks.

As a bonus, you get the equally as hard to find DESPISE YOU tracks from the comp.  I played with DESPISE YOU many years after this comp was released.  I'm not on these tracks, but I checked with Elder and he gave the OK to post these tunes as well.

Prepare for a 90's West Coast style blindside assault!

Possessed To Skate - SPAZZ / DESPISE YOU