This tribute album came together in love and honor of Lee Jackson, writer, music fan, dear friend, who passed in late March 2012 after a struggle with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. This collection of songs, nearly all of which are new or previously unreleased, comes from the many bands and musicians who Lee not only covered and celebrated with such passion, but also in many cases befriended over many years of correspondence, concert and festival attendance and more. The album’s liner notes contain full information about each song as well as thoughts from Lee himself about the contributing artists, taken from his writing work. All profits will go to the Texas chapter of the ALS Association; web.alsa.org/DFW2012 has more information about their continuing work. Please feel free to join our Facebook discussion group at www.facebook.com/groups/323110634410498/ if you’d like to learn more about the remarkable man who we all dearly miss; there is also a direct link to this album in Facebook itself at www.facebook.com/ForLeeJacksonInSpace
released 04 June 2012
Compiled by Mats Gustafsson, Travis Johnson and Ned Raggett — our endless thanks to all participating bands and performers!
I often wondered if the stories they print on these pages are true or just made up by a bunch of horny youths frustrated at not getting any action – that is, until we went thru Nashville and met ‘the wild one’, Miley Cyrus.
The saga began when we had some time to kill, no idea where Miley lived but knew this was her home town, and were fast running out of gas. We cruised around for a while before parking up in a downtown gas station.
“My turn to clean the car, lads!” Bob yelled enthusiastically, half-leaping, half tumbling out of the car then emphatically throwing off his shirt to expose his gleaming pecs. Steve bristled visibly as Bob manfully grabbed the hose, adjusted his nozzle and let loose with an intense spurt of sudsy foam.
“Hey shut the door asshole!” yelled Dragan, awoken by the sudden presence of the foamy liquid on his face. “Thank god ..it was… just a… dream!” he said semi-coherently, slamming the door as he regained full consciousness, while smearing the foam over his chest, pausing occasionally to lick his fingers and let out a quiet moan, and humming a few bars of ‘Karma chameleon’ before sinking back into a deep sleep.
“I just got the number for Miley boys!” Stu yelled, swaggering out of the gas station. “I got it right here on my phone! Its made for low light so i can’t actually see it out here, I’ll just nip into the toilet and write it on my hand! Anyone got a pen? i can change it but it says it needs to dowload the latest os updates first and one of my apps still uses system 18.104.22.168! I think i can probably just jailbreak it and run both systems, even if it voids my warranty.” Steve handed him the pen.
When he came out Bob was giving the car a final chamois down, and was pausing, rivulets of sweat drizzling down his chest, to pull out and light a cigarette.
“Someone lookin for Miley?”
The owner of that instantly recognizable Nashville drawl grabbed the cigarette out of bobs fingers, took a puff and then returned it to bob, as if it had never left his mouth.
We instantly recognised Billy Ray’s surly drawl, hacking cough awkward limp and bulging Calvin Kleins, which on this day protruded as if he were hiding a couple of souvenir tennis balls from the last Williams Sisters final.
“Looks like you guys got a bunch of achey breaky hearts!” he sneered, spitting a drawlful of tobacco onto the carpet – at this point, 5 seconds or so of of canned laughter/applause came thru the P.A. in the dressing room.
“Hell that always happens when i mention the Achey Breaky [he paused to wait for the applause to die down] – i had it written into my contract when i was young and foolish and now i can’t seem to get it unwritten…. the dangdest thing. almost having some kind o pact with the devil himself.”
“Anyway” he scoffed, snapping himself out of his thoughts back to his cockier past, before Miley, before Hannah, “You boys looking for Miley or Hannah? cos I can tell you now that Miley’s gonna cost a lot more than Hannah, being a virgin and suchforth – Hannah just your typical skanky ho, but Miley… well she’s somethin else”
“Well we just came to see Miley” chirped Stu.
He may as well have had a roll of “Admit One” tickets and a flashlight the way he ushered us into the seedy underbelly of Nashville, and we were ready to get season reentrys until dragan, the sensible one, pointed out we were leaving Tennessee tomorrow.
“Maybe we can do Miley today and Hannah tomorrow” suggested Dragan.
“We gotta be in Fresno, St Paul tomorrow by 1400 EST for frikks sake!” said Stu “-Stat!”.
“Thats Ok, I’m not driving so i can rest all day tomorrow” said Bob.
After evaluating all the options, including some tempting Miley/Hannah lookalikes who somewhat repulsively class themselves by age (‘I am good Miley from ages 11-12!‘ – see left‘; ‘you will find i am replicating well the Hannah Montana from Series 3! You will not be disappointed if you have learnt all the catchphrases and characters!’,’i will give good hannah to meet your budget, ma’am!”;”I am the cheapest hannah around! I have all my certificates!”), and after some heated debate, we decided to do the Miley Cyrus Night and Day Tour.
Well… What a day and Oh, what a nite that was!
The Red Carpet Walk (Miley seemed to prefer calling it a ‘ride’) was the first real insight into Miley’s world. Among the glitz and glamour of the A-list celebrities rolling up to collect their awards, drink their fill, and try to eke a meal out of the tiny portions of food provided (Madonna: “Hey Lady! I think you gave me Kate Moss’s portion! I think even she would be lickin her lips and rollin up for seconds!)
We got our meal – Don’t think it did our cause any harm having Meatloaf and Buster Bloodvessel at our table
As 2009 comes to a close, The House List’s writers and photographers (and editor) take a look back at the year that was. Check back tomorrow for our year-end photo gallery.
My Top Five 7″ Tour Singles
I’ve always loved that for the price of a drink, bands sometimes go the extra distance for their tour and press 7″ vinyl that you really can’t get anywhere else but at the merch table.
1. Times New Viking/Axemen, Tour Single
I love Times New Viking’s no-fi melodic messiness, and they save the great experimental stuff for their B-sides. I got this at their Mercury Lounge show. That it was a split with New Zealand legends the Axemen was even better. Only later did I find out each band covered the other’s songs and they hand-colored every copy! It’s that combination of paying homage to this influential band and introducing people through their reinterpretations that makes this an easy No. 1.
3. Black Dice, “Chocolate Cherry” Tour Single
Black Dice have just a handful of singles from quite a few years ago, so when I saw them at The Bowery Ballroom, I was just looking out of habit. But this unlabeled single ended up being from Catsup Plate, which put out the insane Animal Collective LP box set this year. Both unreleased tracks were a departure—almost funk and with recognizable vocal samples! Truly weird.
4. Make a Mess Records, “Brilliant Colors” Single
I went to see Nodzzz and Wavves at the Underground Lounge on the Upper West Side. I managed to talk to Eric Butterworth from Nodzzz, who had just pressed a single on his label, Make a Mess Records. This ended up being one of my favorites of the year. Simple, stripped-down female-fronted No Wave punk pop.
5. The Balkans, “C++” Tour Single
I caught the Balkans at a new space in Brooklyn called Little Field. Woody Shortridge had pressed a single-sided 7″ at home, and I had to see it for myself. He pours them in his apartment and you get a really crazy-looking handmade single with the lowest of low-fi sound. And it helps that the track is great too. —Jason Dean, writer
In what’s likely to be remembered as one of the best Dallas shows of ’09, Los Angeles’ Health and Ohio’s Times New Viking will share a bill in town before heading off to Austin for Fun Fun Fun Fest. And, for each of these acts, 2009 has already been a good year. For Times New Viking, 2009 has seen the band release its second post-Stiltbreeze Records album on Matador. Health, meanwhile, released Get Color as a follow-up to the band’s brilliant 2007 self-titled debut. And since both bands’ records have garnered enough positive reviews that they seem destined to pop up on many a best-albums-of-the-year list, it’s fitting that the show would also feature a local act of the same caliber.
To help open the show, show promoter Parade of Flesh has booked Denton‘s Teenage Cool Kids, which has just returned to the region after a three-month international tour in support of Foreign Lands—the band’s best work to date and a clear front-runner for best local release of 2009.
All three acts are known for their unforgettable, kinetic live shows, so the bill’s already an explosive powder keg of a night even without adding Kiwi-pop/punk act Axemen.
Times New Viking – The Lounge on Elm St – Dallas 06 Nov 2009
Great night of live music at the Lounge on Elm Street in Dallas. Parade of Flesh presented Health, Times New Viking, The Axemen, and Teenage Cool Kids. Times New Viking was kind enough to do a post show photo session.
…Then two days later I made it out to The Lounge on Elm, which is becoming one of the better local venues for good punk/garage/psych underground happenings, all three genres The Axemen embody every aspect of without even trying. They’re just naturally weird. I was shocked to find that they and Times New Viking had piggybacked onto Health’s bill at The Lounge. Auckland’s Axemen are living legends and a first wave Flying Nun band to boot. Lead guitarist Bob also has an amazing indie pop type band named Shaft that you probably ought to hear sometime if you like your 3Ds and Clean records. The Axemen are an altogether more skewed and scuzzier garage art punk slop concoction closer in line with earlier PereUbu, Public Image Limited and New Zealand’s own Scorched Earth Policy, though you could say that The Axemen have an even more absurdist wit than all of the above. Just wrap your ears around the Siltbreeze reissued Scary: Part III 2Lp to try and figure it all out. It’s ugly. It’s beautiful. It just might make you piss your pants. Live these old goats kick out a raucous punk snarl that had me thinking Stooges one second, Beefheart and Wire simultaneously the next. Absolutely pummeling stuff that sounds right at home in the state of The 13th Floor Elevators and Red Crayola. Times New Viking tore it up as well with what amounts to probably the best gig I’ve seen by them to date…
So I neglected to post pictures and thoughts on the Times New Viking gig at Maxwell’s two weekends ago. Nothing much to report from the show, although I was a little surprised how small the crowd was for a somewhat name act. In any event, drummer Adam Elliott, with a fresh haircut, announced to the crowd at the start, “We have 16 songs, this is No. 1”. I thought, “well, this should be done in 32 minutes.” Almost, it was around 45 minutes. These cats don’t mess around. After the 16th song, they were out the door. They must have other plans post-show. I don’t blame them, sometimes I feel a need to get out of Hoboken on a Friday night.
The Ohio band’s latest release on Matador is Born Again Revisited. It’s no-fi hotness compacted into a 35-minutes of fuzz, buzz and screams. I wouldn’t expect anything less.
We were slightly apprehensive about playing in Morgantown, West Virginia, a student town which didn’t seem particularly on our tour path, just before thanksgiving when many of the students would have gone home.
We needn’t have worried.
Great venue, great people, one of the most generous drink tabs we encountered (up there with Memphis) – 8 drink tickets each band member and free sodas for drivers/non drinkers so the extra tickets split between the drinkers – on this occasion – Steve and Bob…
Little wonder when we asked if we could park in the Adventure shop carpark they said yes as long as you are out by 11 in the morning – seems more than one band had been known to pass out in the vehicle in the carpark after gigs at this multi-tiered venue and fail to rise before being moved on when the shops opened.
Honourable mention also goes to the Black Bear Cafe across the road on Pleasant Street where we had some great burritos and Beth’s vegan diet and Dragans abhorrence and intolerance for gluten products were admirably catered for with minimal fuss.
Morgantown is also clos to the hometown of Dusty White, erstwhile TNV sound engineer, and the stomping ground of one of three acts we played with who payed homage to the Axemen by covering one of our songs ‘Beware the train of thought’ (the others being Times New Viking who played ‘Rocks in my Heart’ a couple times and Dave Diarrhea in Chicago).
To these guys especially, and all the support bands who shortened their sets to squeeze us in we give thanks, in the name of the father, the son and the holy ghost!
Newly signed to Matador and veterans of Siltbreeze, the Columbus, Ohio-based Times New Viking brought its stripped-down to the raw, garage blast to Boston. Imagine a songbook based on the pure distillation of “Louie, Louie,” boiled down to a sticky black lump, with a dash of strychine via the Sonics, perfect for singing along (or, better, shouting along). Boston’s own Hallelujah the Hills wrapped up a five week tour and were tighter than Glenn Beck’s throbbing forehead vein. The band has improved much since I saw it play, opening for Silver Jews in 2008. The band played a good passel of songs with tons of energy. Opening honors were handled by New Zealand’s the Axemen, making what I believe is their first ever trip to tour the States, despite being founded in 1981. They are not the “Dunedin Sound” type of band, so don’t go expecting jangly pop like the stuff by the Chills. It was a multi-headed beast of garage rock, some ’60s-influenced numbers and even a hardcore tune tossed into the mix.
If in the world of classic New Zealand underground rock the Chills’ earnest pop represents the north pole and the Dead C’s corrosive noise is the south, then the Axemen are the molten center of the earth—their shambling, stylistically promiscuous, and occasionally tuneful postpunk is like a bad case of planetary heartburn.
In band histories they claim they formed for political reasons, but the recorded evidence suggests that they just wanted to get up everyone’s noses. Their apex—or nadir, depending on your point of view—came in 1992, when they appeared on a children’s TV show in drag and plugged a record called Peter Wang Pud.
Siltbreeze has reissued two early Axemen albums this year (a third is still forthcoming), and now guitarist [/vocalist] Little Stevie McCabe and drummer Stu Kawowski [and guitarist/vocalists Bob Brannigan and Dragan Stojanovic] are undertaking their first American tour.
They’ve also got a new split seven-inch with Times New Viking, available only at shows, on which the two bands cover each other’s songs.
Golden Birthday, Thunderbolt Pagoda, and David Diarrhea open. At 6 PM today the Axemen play a free in-store at Permanent Records with Cave side project Bitchin’ Bajas. —Bill Meyer
“Nutsack” was written in Los Angeles by Dragan Stojanovic & Bob Brannigan October 2009, inspired by Ice Cube rapping about his nutsack and busting a nut
blasting out of our KIA sound system on the LA freeways, oh and seeing squirrels in the parks all over USA, and the fact we lived out of nutsacks from Wholefoods for 5 weeks on our 7,000 mile tour.
Kawowski videoed the event and pounded the skins while McCabe added his two-bit guitar part, as WFMU’s Brian Turner, Jason Sigal and Alex Yockey provided the lads with a fantastic opportunity to record a snapshot of a typical set from their recent US tour while they were in New York in November 2009. An inspiration to lovers everywhere.
There’s always something unimaginably comforting about heading home for Thanksgiving (or for that matter heading home on any number of select weekends throughout the year). But the gluttony and relaxation that persists on this particular holiday can not be overlooked.
As soon as I turn right off of I-75 and roll past the Waffle House and “hillbilly rifle outlet,” I feel like I’ve entered a virtual safe zone, a hermetically sealed environment filled with naps by the fire and limitless liquor – all with none of the annoyances and stress inducers of “real” life. I could honestly do it every weekend if allowed. For me, it’s my wind-back. It’s not getting older or lazier or becoming less of a patron of the arts. It’s the opposite – naturally removing the over-stimulation of bustling “city” life from my horizon line. So arriving at Peters and High (Elliott Manor) for this year’s turkey trough was met with hesitation, as we’d be hosting four lads from New Zealand known as Axemen.
I wasn’t as much worried about their settling into to a quintessential suburban ritual, as I was anxious how my parents might react to having America’s collector scum wet-dream tour (add one drummer from TNV to the mix) make a two-day stop in Troy.
I shouldn’t have had any reservations. Patti and Jeff should get a medal for their hosting abilities. I never knew how liberal my parents actually are (now only if they’d align that mentality with their politics) until I saw them nurturing a gluten free meal for ol’ Dragan. But I digress.
If you’re looking for tragic tales of drunken tirades and streaking through the town square or foul-mouthed kiwis looting the curio cabinet and tagging the doilies with pen knives – you aren’t going to find it here. Axemen are gentlemen. And though they may not be used to our ultra-consumer, warm and fuzzy, football coma shenanigans, they fit right in as adopted Elliotts.
If so anti-climatic, then why the post? Well, it was the well of anomaly that occurred at Troy, Ohio’s pre-eminent 18-35 yr. old hangout, The Brewery, the night before, which prompted this rant. Beyond simply wanting to tie one on in downtown Troy, beyond meeting up with an absent Justin Smith, beyond even the slightest want of nostalgic conversation with past peers whom I have nothing to converse, was a triple bill of Miami County’s finest “music.” Even then, the event of the week at the bar “everyone” goes to was pretty much split between dated booty music (first floor) and townie hard-lucks (second floor) and hardly a soul in the room with the stage, and the real instruments, and the performers. Still, it was a oddly intriguing trio of bands, going from karaoke rural gangsta’ rap to two-man Ween influenced mayhem, to standard issue thrash-emo-speed metal sludge.
Low Budget was first, featuring some kid who used to play basketball with my bro at the Lincoln Center back in the early ‘90s, replete with two hype men. They wore t-shirts emblazoned with Low Budget (were those made at the Troy Sports Center?) and hats reading the same. I thought the name was clever and their rhymes mighty inventive for what seemed like freestyle over the Ipod. In fact it reminded me most of another swang “low” duo from Cali, Low Profile, who went on to become W.C. and the Maad Circlen (a personal favorite). It did get tiresome, overwrought, and something I was happy stopped before it was too late. While I encourage all hip-hop troupes trying to make it in small town America (Teenage Soldiers R.I.P.), I would have liked to have seen them add some regional flavor to their oeuvre. I don’t know exactly what that would entail. In Columbus it’s a working-man, blue-collar, everyone’s invited atmosphere – so would this be sub-Columbus, or even sub-Springfield? I bet the gangsters thrive in Piqua. Explore there. Where’s Shane Darner when you need him?
Next up was the biggest surprise of the night. Electric Banana hail from Dayton, but seem to play most of their gigs at various submarine houses around Troy. Like the Weens, Chromeos, and Party Dreams that have come before them – most of what they do is borne of goofing and can only elicit good times, no heavy-handed criticism here. I’m sure if I were privy to the inane lyrics (I’m sure I heard “pussy” mentioned more than thrice) I wouldn’t have been as thrilled, and if they weren’t serving up PBR tallboys (just like home) I probably wouldn’t be expounding about their simple genius – but both factors were in place and the antics of Jimmy Spade, the mohawk-clad frontman of the two, made for a stellar evening. It was rudimentary funk worship and novel hip-hop in a stoner metal package, but they played it to perfection, knew how to work the “crowd” and had catchy melodies to off-set any whiff of scatology. I want them to come to Columbus, soon.
The last band of the evening could be wrapped up in one song. Through an Ocean of Plagues do what they do well, do it tight, and do it frenetic…..but I wasn’t in any kind of mood after the insanity of Electric Banana. I mean, c’mon, how you can take a band like this seriously? From their one sheet:
The phrase “Through an Ocean of Plagues” metaphorically describes the route humanity takes on its journey to self-destruction. Civilization evolves by consuming and destroying, usurping its power through the contamination and eventual erasure of its competitors. Rather than coexisting, Nature is enslaved, dissolved, and forgotten. Such is the legacy of future generations, once humankind has siphoned the last of the Earth’s resources. Without a target for destruction, we turn our sights to our own demise.
This rural Ohio quintet addresses these issues, translating the impending onslaught of disease, war, and social deconstruction into a medium by which they may express their opinions. The music is brutal, though it still retains a melodious quality meant to remind the listener that social harmony is lost but not forgotten. The live performance of the music parallels its subject matter, brutally portraying the bands frustration and outrage.
I did overhear the lead singer at 3 AM telling his friend he was headed home to “get fucked and fucked,” which I can only assume means he was continuing his quest for drugs and sex. So that was entertaining. But with all of this music, the highlight of the evening? — HUGH KELLY, smartest man on earth.
But this was all about Axemen, right? Goodness. They played the Friday after the gorging in Columbus.
I’m a bit out of words to go on and describe them, but it’s likely they showed a few “shitgaze” (sic) signifiers throughout their entire set of crust blues and the purest of kiwi protest/prank garage rock – but it all had the guise of a professional band playing like it was the last show of the tour.
This is how you do it. Release the Three Virgins already. I don’t have it yet. Three [3??? – LSM] of the most delightful men I’ve ever had the chance to meet.
Here’s hoping it gets this hopping over Christmas.
Title: Scary! Part III
Long known underground stars from New Zealand, The Axemen are now gaining some well-deserved notoriety here in the States thanks to one of our finest labels, Siltbreeze. Tom Lax has again exhibited sterling musical sense in [repressing – sic.] – re-pressing “Scary! Part III” and “Big Cheap Motel.”
And while it’s not an easy task trying to pin down their sound, especially considering the variety of their entire discography (much less the territorial span of music on this release), I’ll give it a shot.
On my first listening, I immediately drew a comparison to Royal Trux, but that was basically drawn from the majority of vocals on the record, featuring some of the coolest, junked-out vox either before or after the Trux hit the scene.
From the get-go, the song “Heart Bullet” features some insanely fucked up vocals and word play. Unlike a lot of New Zealand music, the vocals are uncharacteristically mixed up and not buried in the instrumentation. It kind of paradoxically makes the voice seem like another instrument—I’m at a loss finding (other than Herrema) anyone to compare the vocals to while maintaining any real dignity. Suffice it to say that they’re easily in the upper echelon of all rock vox, and it’s continued across both wunnerfuly screwed tracks on the double LP set.
Though the music is varied, you never get the feeling that the album was thrown together as pieces. As incoherent and absurd as it is, the record has a marvelous cohesion, at times overtly a downer, such as the track “10 Miles (as the crow flies)” and other points like the near-sinister, hardcore influenced “Join the R.A.F.”
It’s near-put impossible to fix these fellers into any genre, and that’s a damn good thing. Not only that, it’s a fucking difficult thing to pull off convincingly, yet the Axemen do so with, well what’s the write word, grace? How about ‘instinct?’ That seems more apropos. It’s an instinct which speaks more to an overall aesthetic than does it any attempt to play this or that style of music.
This one of the strangest records ever sludged to wax, and it’s caused that compulsive collector in my to try and track down any and all of their recordings, which, from what I’ve read, is going to be a formidable task. This is no surprise since they formed around 1981 and have recorded pretty consistently since, and even through the broad spectrum of music the venerable Flying Nun label have pressed over the years, The Axemen stand totally on their own. Flying Nun wasn’t their only label over the years—there have been several, but as an American touchstone, it’s appropriate to mention them as one of the better-known imprints to bring up.
All I can tell you is that, even on this one double LP, influences include American hardcore and DIY, Beefheart (though nothing obvious springs to mind at the outset), a sort of Zappaesque sense of humor, bizarre synth music, employ of loops and on and on.
The Axemen are their own entity. The only downside to this is that it took so long for an American pressing to go down. I’ve heard that they’ve met with largely great critical press on their recent tour of the U.S. One can only hope that it continues and that we see them again very soon.
Picked this up last night at the TNV show at Mercury Lounge with the Axemen…my friend Pat told me to look out for a tour only single at the merch table, and there it was.
Does a band with the power of Matador behind it have to press a split single, hand color the xerox sleeve and inscribe the inner label for their US tour with the Axemen? HELL NO.
But they did it anyway.
I have to admire this.
Plus they set out to educate an audience to a NZ band that probably deserves more due that I’ve never come across before, I’m always up for that.
Didn’t know anything about the Axemen before they went on other than the brief mentions at Siltblog after their reissue by Tom of a huge part of their back catalog.
I stood there watching thinking, ‘I’m sure these guys are important’ especially to the first few rows. I’ve been reading about their protest albums/accident (crash) into some government office in NZ, they weren’t in it for the money obviously.
I can respect anyone touring 20+ years later etc…but it just wasn’t my thing. The one time they got me was an insane hardcore blast, but honestly they didn’t seem happy about it. Have to dive further into the Siltbreeze catalog.
They cover each other on this thing which I wasn’t expecting at all.
The Axemen track on the single ‘SIcKh & TYRED’ is a great interpretation of the track from the TNV Stay Awake EP. I’m into it when they replicate the back and forth Beth Adam vocals. Sounds good.
They have to feel pretty cool that these guys covered one of their tracks for this. I honestly had no idea until I played it this morning.
Times New Viking on the other side cover ‘Rocks in my Heart’ by the Axemen. Which includes the lyric ‘Sick and Tired’ also I noticed…weird. They make this song fit into their catalog, emphasizing the pop chords and immediacy, all with just a touch their special fuzz. Excellent…can’t believe this really. I am honored guys. It’s too much.
The Daily Choice: Times New Viking – Rocks In My Heart
Times New Viking has shocked me twice. Once, sandwiched between sweaty stages in Austin, Texas, this band I’d never heard of, and whom I couldn’t see as the place was full far past capacity, played what seemed to be ear splitting noise for thirty minutes. Months later, on what could be the least consistent bill of all time, Times New Viking opened for Annuals, and for twenty beautiful minutes, I felt my ears bleed with sonic love. Two times, two times.
And lets call this a third. I don’t know if there’s a newly formed sweet tooth amongst this trio, but “Rocks In My Heart” seems to follow the dirt-covered lollipop sound of their new album. Sure, it seems like it tastes pretty good, but you finding bits of grit, or who knows what, stuck in your pearly whites. A part of me yearns for the sonic assault, but there’s just enough here that I can digest the sugary sweet and keep on smiling.
It’s a chore enough these days for any kind of overseas band to land a U.S. tour on any scale, so its was nothing less than a pleasant surprise when we learned that New Zealand’s Axemen had a pretty extensive one lined up with Columbus, Ohio’s Times New Viking this fall.
The Axemen started in Christchurch in 1981, a time when New Zealand and Flying Nun records in particular were stirring up a major musical waves (ones that were felt in countless 1990’s US indie bands and are still being felt today especially disciples like TNV), yet the sweeping, strummy pop element that was evident in many of the Nun’s stable was only a part of the fuzzy picture that was the Axemen.
The band’s central core of (Little) Stevie McCabe, Bob Brannigan, and Stu Kawowski recorded in both cheapo home mode and in traditional studios, but setting had little to do with the wide-swing of directions that are evident wherever you drop a needle (or cue up a tape).
There’s tons of basement weirdness nodding to the more antisocial Velvets and Swell Maps moments, scatterings of drunken White Album recreation attempts, even moments where they sound like Royal Trux way before their time.
When they played at Union Pool in Brooklyn last week I could swear they were going for a Stackwaddy/Doors thing, but then they became Half Japanese with Stevie playing sax solos on guitar. In Axemen recordings, they have one song about Elmer Fudd that sounds like Psychic TV, and another that is totally inspired by Grandmaster Flash. They even did a full album of Elton John songs. I have a feeling that if Flying Nun gave them the giant studio budget like they did Straitjacket Fits they would have come up with an album just as great as their Big Cheap Motel and Scary! Part III cassettes that Siltbreeze thankfully reissued in 2009.
Check out the clip below (and more after the jump) of the band on a 90’s NZ kids’ TV show (promoting their Peter Wang Pud album!), and dig in to their November 20th visit to my radio show, engineered by Jason Sigal and Alex Yockey.Thanks for Terre T for leaving us all the food the Reigning Sound didn’t eat earlier that day, there were some fancy pastries!
You cand find more on the Axemen’s My Space page and Y2K blog,the latter of which has updates on sometimes-member Mick Elborado’s recent exploits at his workplace; he recently drove his car through the lobby of his employers’ building, New Zealand’s equivalent of the IRS. No one was hurt, but New Zealand’s government might be learning a thing or two about satisfying employees’ gripes in the future.
posted by Brian Howard on Tuesday, November 17th, 2009 at 11:34 am
CONCERT REVIEW: Times New Viking, The Axemen, The Mad Scene @ Kung Fu Necktie, 11/15
This is our second set, like Phish.
Sunday night shows are always a tough sell, but the four-band bill including U.S. Girls (who we’ll be up front and cop to not getting to the club in time to see) was as can’t-miss a show for indie rockers of a certain age as you’ll find. A healthy crowd of 40 or so (in their 40s or so?) crammed into tiny Kung Fu Necktie and watched as New Zealand ex-pat/Clean vet Hamish Kilgour and Lisa Siegel led The Mad Scene through a set of murky Kiwi-style noise rockers rife with alternating strumming and distorted jabs. That’s the thing about New Zealand: even their poppier indie pop is prone, at any second, to spiral into fits of SY-style noise fests. Kilgour, who apparently had lost his guitar strap, spent the first few numbers seated on the floor at the side of the stage — largely invisible to all but the front row — with a microphone stand angled down toward him, creating a scenario where the vocals seemed to be emanating from nowhere. Siegel eventually lent the singer her bass strap and Kilgour finsihed the set standing erect. Stu Kowowski of the legendary Axemen (who’d take the stage next), sat in on drums for the set and was joined by Adam Elliott, drummer for headliners Times New Viking, for a set-closing number where both drummers pounded on the kit.
Then came The Axemen, a New Zealand noise/punk outfit on their first tour of the U.S. despite first slithering from of the antipodean ooze in 1981 in protest of the South African rugby team’s tour of the islands. Led by an apparently intoxicated Steve McCabe, the four-piece chugged through a set of classics, including a few choice numbers from Scary! Pt. III (a 1989 cassette that’s been recently re-released on vinyl by Philly’s Siltbreeze). The band, rounded out by guitarist/singer Bob Brannigan and in this incarnation bassist Dragan Stojanovic (the band’s lineup aside from the three core members has been in constant flux), turned in a rough-around-the-edges set (thanks mostly to McCabe’s inspired/drunken flailing) that alternated between all-out chaos and more crafted blues-rock tigned numbers that created as many questions as it answered. What must it have been like to watch this unit over the years, and what were these grizzled vets like in their younger, angrier days? A newer song that might be titled “Do You Wanna Be My Slave,” suggests the band’s as ascerbic as ever.
Photo | Brian Howard
McCabe (left) and Brannigan of The Axemen.
Though The Axemen were indeed the rare treat that made this lineup a can’t-miss, Times New Viking was the main course. The Columbus-based trio have, since bursting on the scene with 2005’s Dig Yourself(which got the long-dormant Siltbreeze back in business) have honed a style that’s equal parts hooks cacophony, a slicing wail crossed with mistimed engine on overdrive. Keyboardist Beth Murphy’s vocals remain shouted and defiantly off key. Jared Phillips‘ guitar parts are piercing and devastating. Elliott’s drumming and singing are wound tight and delivered fast. They eschewed the typical set-encore structure for a two-set program that may have somehow crammed 30 songs into their hour on stage. It was exhilirating, ear-spitting, and so life-affirming.
So the Axemen finally make it to the United States to tour, and one of the local weeklies lists them as “Axeman.”
Nobody who’s in a position to know has influence enough to care. Tom Lax coulda bought a very decent used car with the ca$hola he’s sunken into this beyond-insane reissue program for New Zealand’s most divisive band – even so far as to have dug up two never-heard-‘em cassettes for the introductory offers, guaranteed to chase away even seasoned listeners.
Lifting up out of the muck that was Big Cheap Motel, this four-sider thankfully doesn’t give way to clarity, though some would claim it’d give birth to Blankdoggin’, as few of the ‘90s lo-fi oligarchy would have touched a synth or a sampler, let alone subjected them to the levels of abuse that Stevie McCabe offers up all over here.
Approximately 150 people will hear a serious Dirty Faces connection to the flotsam here; more will liken it to Royal Trux in their scum/disassociative phase, and that’s fine.
Here was – and is – a band that is continually in protest mode, against common sense if not a social or political cause … fuck, one of their auxiliary members drove his ride into the glass doors of the Kiwi tax office, and from all accounts, he’s free to walk on American soil as I write this. Does anyone in New Zealand want to swap places with me?
I’ve heard too many good things and am ready to throw away my life in the USA. This 1989 release is nothing but endless ur-jammin’ on some rudimentary melody, jive talkin’ monologue, screechin’ and sneerin’, occasionally stumbling onto a higher truth and really just content to slag off anyone that comes near it.
You don’t have to like it, or even respect it, because it was made to chase you and everybody else away. I respect that Lax puts out a pop record the likes of the Mantles or Eat Skull, but isn’t afraid to keep truckin’ in the weirdness like this charcoal nug. Still waiting on Three Virgins, and more eloquent thoughts from Wood Beez. (http://www.siltbreeze.com)
The other night I was told, that since I have never left the country I know nothing about what constitutes good taste. I was also told that I was a loser for listening to Pavement. With that being said, I went to Baltimore on Saturday to see a band, who clearly must be shitty, and hung out with a bunch of other losers.
The first two bands, Mr Moccasin and Slow Jerks, are both local products. I only heard two songs from Mr Moccasin, but between that and what I heard on their Myspace, they sounded alright. People, who were there and had seen this band before, said that the group sounded better than they had in the past. I had tried listening to Slow Jerks earlier in the day, but my internet research skills failed me and I found nothing. It’s entirely possible that this was by design, though. Seeing these dudes live, I got the impression that perhaps they wanted to do everything DIY and gradually work their way up. If that’s the case, then props are in order.
The Axemen are from New Zealand, and apparently they formed back in 1981 as a means of protesting the fact that some South African rugby team was playing matches in New Zealand which violated an agreement of some sort. They were pretty tight live, and it wasn’t until the end of the set that I realized that my head had been bobbing the entire time.
This may have been a nervous reaction because early on in the set it occurred to me that the girl from Times New Viking was standing next to me. All the members of the band were in my general vicinity, in fact, and as a result I drank accordingly.
What struck me the most about The Axemen was how they came across as a band with the best of intentions.
It all just seemed so honest. They brought the one dude [Adam Elliot] from Times New Viking up on stage to do a song at one point, and that was pretty rad.
Towards the end, the guitarist took his shirt off and wiped the brow of the lead singer. The best of intentions. The whole set was a good time, and the forty people in attendance all seemed to dig it.
Times New Viking are quite possibly the loudest band that I listen to, and I went to this show to see how loud it could get. It was quite loud, and this was accentuated by the fact that the Talking Head is about the size of a hallway and the only difference between the club and an actual hallway is the fact that the Talking Head has a bathroom.
I had done some preliminary research about what TNV was like live, but all I found was that they get loud and that the drummer talks too much. Looking back, the drummer didn’t say a whole lot once the set got underway so maybe the internets was wrong about that.
TNV might be better live than they are on record.
They are a band of sounds, and that’s awesome on it’s own, but in concert the melodies are much more apparent. I do have to admit that I don’t own the latest record, and it’s entirely possible that they were just playing songs off of it and it’s also quite possible that the new disc is slightly more hi-fi than previous albums. I know for a fact that didn’t play all new songs because I recognized several and also because at one point they said, “Now, we’re going to play some old songs.”
Everyone was into it. There was more moving around at this show then at anything else I’ve seen all year, for the most part.
There was this one girl, and she seemed really tapped into the whole thing. She swayed and spun her way through every song. I think she had her eyes closed, but it didn’t really matter because the way she was dancing it was like an act of surrender. It was like what Nietzsche had described. She was on the edge of the proverbial cliff, but instead of being frightened or concerned, she was reveling in the chaos.
Loving every minute of it, and dancing like it would never stop. It’s how I generally feel on the inside, but since I’m such an uncouth deadbeat unfit for the public, it’s better for me to just keep my head down and try not to piss anyone off.
Axemen do TNV’s “Sick ‘n tyred” and their “Rocks In My Heart” tune done to death by Times Neu Vikin’ – wicked 7” (ONLY AVAILABLE AT GIGS) and a limited eedition of 350 discs – each one individually enhanced by the artist band members. Ultra collectable sh*t. Check out some evidence below. See you at the NY show.
Playing in Elvis’s old dojo was always gonna be a tall order. For a bunch of middle-class kiwis with a passion for rock’n’roll, Memphis is a trigger-word for what can be so right and also so wrong in the genre – the full spectrum of green lily-livered-nigger-music-lovin southern boy with just the right amount mixture of sass, sasparilla, and god-given ass and hips.
Thankfully it was an awesome gig and elvis even made an appearance and winked at me, he dug it i know…
He kissed me – and it felt like a punch….
“i gotta say i was “
with your lastest show in the US.
I was expecting the unexpected, with the proviso that i was forewarned that the act was going to be unpredictable and the attitude factor would play a good part in what would eventuate into the axemen’s set, very much a reflection of the local conditions and atmosphere, once we can establish a base anywhere
As the mythics in Valhalla prophesied, the four axemen were once again reunited in the new world, with all the dignity and indignities which applied.
Slowly but surely coming sharply into focus, as if from a dream Bob and Dragan emerged from the highly pressurised, sterile environment of he plane into the highly pressurized, puerile environment of L.A.
As if metatmorphosing from a dream of waldorf salads, pumpkin pie and some garbanzo beans.
Steve visibly winced when he saw the “Please be gentle with the girl from Yentl!” bumper sticker on his guitar case – It was plain as the nose on yer face it would take these gringos a while to socialize.
The Axemen is a New Zealand band formed around 1981 in protest against the South African Springbok rugby team tour of New Zealand, a tour which created great controversy, especially as was in contradiction to New Zealand’s obligations under the Gleneagles Agreement.
The Axemen played in Chch Cathedral 1981 in response to the Springbok tour.
They also played at the protests for homosexual law reform in 1983, with member Little Stevie McCabe being severely beaten up in the Cathedral Square, Christchurch, toilets.
The Axemen’s founding members, Bob Brannigan, Little Stevie McCabe and Stu Kawowski had played in various bands, apart and together, in the South Island cities of Christchurch and Dunedin, but cohesed in reaction to Sprinkbok rugby tour.
Before Bob Brannigan and Steve McCabe met, Steve was playing in a two-piece band at Cashmere High School called The Gorillas with Peter Rees, evolving comix maestro and classical guitarist.
Brannigan and McCabe met through a mutual friend and played gigs in Christchurch and Dunedin under many names including The Whining Plums, Hey, We’re Wolves and The Twins in the early ’80s. It was at a Twins gig at the notorious Empire Tavern in Dunedin in 1983 where Stu Kawowski was first unable to control himself and leapt on stage to commandeer the bongoes, instantly adding another dimension to the unit.
Art School Photography graduate, photography guru, filmmaker, artist  , promotional maverick and explosives expert Kawowski was playing drums with Above Ground, Bill Direen’s band at the time he met the other members of the Axemen and soon ‘joined’ the Axemen as a permanent fixture.
Brannigan, McCabe and Kawowski remain to this day the ‘core’ of the Axemen, however many New Zealand musicians played with them over the years as guest / transient / semi-permanent members, making their influence and the influences they assimilated (like the borg) an important breeding ground and virtual swap-meet of ideas and influence in Kiwi music circles.
In February 2009, US record label Siltbreeze re-released the Axemen’s 1984 protest album :Big Cheap Motel”  on 12″ vinyl. Originally the album was released as a cassette packaged in a small bubble-sleeve with a straw, mimicking the milk drink “Big M” that the album was aimed at. The Axemen were invited to play at Christchurch’s “Summertimes” Festival in January 1984, a public music stage set up in Hagley Park. The band was shocked by the large-scale sexist “Big M” advertising surrounding the main stage, and decided to write a suite of protest songs about how the Christchurch City Council had “sold out” to the “Big M” sexist marketing. The Axemen recorded the concert, as well as studio versions of their songs and released a 45 min cassette entitled, “Big Cheap Motel”
“The Happy Hollows have a lot of weapons in their arsenal, but chief among them is vocalist/guitarist Sarah Negahdari. ‘Faces,’ from the forthcoming Spells, gives Negahdari the perfect chance to show off her Polly Harvey-meets-Kim Deal croon.” — Magnet Magazine
“A killer hybrid of Kim Deal, PJ Harvey and Emily Haines. Negahdari has the guitar chops, explosive energy and winning sense of humor that should make The Happy Hollows one of the more interesting bands of our new millennium’s next decade.” — Wired Magazine
“A pugilistic mix of stinging guitars, turbulent rhythms, and shouted vocals. Alternates between childlike experimentation and ferocious firestorm.” — Los Angeles Times
The much-anticipated and highly acclaimed debut album by Los Angeles trio The Happy Hollows officially hits streets today, October 6th, 2009. The album, Spells (listen/order here) is a culmination of their work with producer and former Mighty Lemon Drops guitarist David Newton (The Little Ones, The Blood Arm), who also produced the group’s 2008 EP Imaginary. In support of the album, The Happy Hollows will be performing a string of East Coast dates surrounding their CMJ New Music Marathon showcases. The band will then headline a residency at Spaceland in Los Angeles throughout November. Please see complete dates below.
The young group’s infectious and irreverent noise-pop has earned considerable following up and down the west coast, with their energetic and charismatic performances. Vocalist/guitarist Sarah Negahdari wields ominous riffs and finger-tapped arpeggios while singing with a cherubic-yet-mischievous grin. Meanwhile, the agile rhythm section of Charles Mahoney (bass/vocals) and Chris Hernandez (drums/vocals) vault and lunge with precision.
Wired Magazine recently described Negahdari as “a killer hybrid of Kim Deal, PJ Harvey and Emily Haines” and added that “Negahdari has the guitar chops, explosive energy and winning sense of humor that should make The Happy Hollows one of the more interesting bands of our new millennium’s next decade.” The BBC picked them as a band to watch for 2009, the Los Angeles Times has described the group’s sound as a “pugilistic mix of stinging guitars, turbulent rhythms, and shouted vocals” that “alternates between childlike experimentation and ferocious firestorm.” AllMusic wrote that the band’s “appeal is immediate” and LAist has labeled them “a must see!”
The Happy Hollows’ catchy yet dissonant sound is influenced by genres as disparate as 90’s college rock, garage punk, art rock, and 80’s pop. The band combines innovative song structures, surreal lyrics, and fiercely adept instrumentation to recreate reality into a jagged panorama of vibrant, kaleidoscopic collage. Listening to their music, one cannot help but see visions of a place oddly askew from the world we experience everyday, a parallel universe that is at once whimsical, demented, and ferocious.
Having born and bred their band in various corners of the L.A. music scene since forming 2006, The Happy Hollows played their first shows in Japanese restaurants, laundromats, and small local clubs. In their first year as a band, they snuck into a studio at night and, in two sessions, recorded Bunnies and Bombs, an EP that attracted the attention of the L.A.’s underground music scene. After seeing them play a show, established L.A. heroes Silversun Pickups asked The Happy Hollows to open for them at The Wiltern and The Fillmore. In 2008, fellow art-rock outfit Deerhoof invited the Hollows to open for them on their album release shows at The Avalon and The Great American Music Hall.
We got the touring wagon sorted, a late model (2010 even) KIA minivan with 6 seats and a GPS unit we are calling ‘Suzie’.
Went down to the garment district and picked out some fluro lime green t-shirts to get printed up for tour with a facsimile of one of the original designs for an early gig in dunedin by a guy with a small screenprinting shop just outside central L.A.
Word came in from Aussie when we drifted in tonite that Bob missed his plane to Sydney (layover on way to L.A.) due to an AK transport malfunction but had rebooked on another two hrs later and was now safely ensconced on the L.A. flight.
No word from Dragan who is supposed to be joining Bob in Sydney from Wellington before the pair travel on to L.A. together, so can only assume no news is good news until we hear further…
Picked up Steve Humann’s kid Ava from school, took them over to the Halloween Carnival the next day, picked up the shirts and caught a couple of gigs, Kurt Vile and Jello Biafra with his new band The Guantanamo School of Medicine.
Eating at least 3 meals a day, Humann is a walking directory of L.A. food joints!
I get the feeling Suzie is a little jealous of him as she only wants to please us but Humann has the insider knowledge of the good eating and shopping locations without us having to punch the zip code into him. Hope we don’t piss her off too much before we hit the road…
Caught a couple of gigs, Kurt Vile at Spaceland and Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine at the El Ray Theatre on Wilshire Blvd.
Our string of good luck with parking in L.A. (mostly due to broken meters) came to an abrupt halt at Spaceland when we got a traffic violation ticket for parking in an obscurely signposted Residents Permit parking zone… we will contest it claiming kiwi ignorance of course.
Fiddle-de-di, tomorrow is another day… picking up Bob and Dragan at LAX tomorrow at 5.00PM local time.
Went round to Steve’s ex’s to drop off Ava and partake of the biggest pizza either of us have ever seen, a celebration for SH’s birthday…
The L.A. Stroll – Origins
Not being a big city for walkers, it is culturally interesting the latest dance craze here involves participants walking round in a circle – by the end of the gig, quite possibly the longest walk the auience member has done since the last mosh-able gig they attended.
According to our authority on the subject (Humann, fount of all L.A. knowledge), the dance developed from L.A. punks getting bored with pogo-ing in the 80’s and becoming fascinated with skanking when one of their number returned from England in the early 80’s having mastered skanking, the dance style favoured by Ska groups of the time vaguely resembling jogging on the spot.
In Humann terms (or, as the saying goes, ‘As the Humann Flies’), as soon as the punks realised they could ‘inadvertantly’ hit and kick crowd members and claim they were only dancing (in some versions of the story, this was also the origin of the Bowie classic “John I’m only dancing”, the gay overtones added to embellish the story later when it became fashionable once again to be gay), it took off and spread like a California wildfire through the 80’s and has disappeared and reappeared in one guise or another throughout the decades since.
I must say the latest incarnation to me had a sense of ‘slothiness’ to it which perhaps does the high-energy music which it often accompanies a disservice in that the performer will often build more of a sweat than the audience.
Well we got the touring wagon today, no Siennas available but we got a KIA 2010 model with 1400 Miles on it and a GPS – now thats what I call golden!
Having got that sorted out we took it for a spin out to Hollywood Forever to see Johnny Ramone’s grave and the Hollywood sign for photo shoot, picked up Humann’s kid Ava, went book-grazing and caught a movie…
Having now taken command of Los Angeles, and whilst allowing trade to continue as normal albeit under ein military regime, this is 2000 and some harrowing but major exceptions to the rule have decided, independent of the fully sanctioned and streets away, predictably, from where the real action was happening.
Notably, Stu and Steve (on behalf of the axemen as a partially available whole, or soul [‘The choice is yours, you tithe your 10% to your local rich-ass and you’re in line for the throne” struck out Pedro, his fb) buoyed by her decision to put a modicum of their eggs in one basket (as a causation equation and bearing in mind dragan and bob are initiated and primed to enter the arena at an unspecified yet predetermined time)
This first episode I call ‘WHITEY’
Checked out rental cars. Some horseless carriages yippeeing up and restless, no doubt riled up by the host with the most, the antagonist, the chip mother, the screaming, breathing Grimm brother, th senseless one they don’t talk about, thy slipped a micky finn to one of those guys, who gives a fuck who.
All Souls is an equal-fate non-soul-discriminatory story, primarily but not solely based on the sole premise that the soul’s sole is imprinted indelibly on the soul of the holy fisherman, the weeping fisher, the fishing weeper, the weeper who never fishes, across the river directly from the fisher who never weeps…
Ginger the sliced ginger guy grunts as he psycles off another few slices of ginger for the solely soulless. “Otherwise it’d be for the birds!” he quips, the word ‘birds’ rhyming with the oft-used-advertising phrase ‘dis iz forda boids’!, mostly famous for accentuating the long vowel sound in the 60’s.
Day 3 – We are off to Burbank Airport to check out rental vans. stop.
After yet another sleepless nite the time was finally here to get on board the U.S. ass-kicking train, destination Kick Some Ass, USA, with just long enough a stopover in Aussie to knock back a coupla cold ones.
Stu and Steve, forward scouts for the touring party proper headed off one week in advance to suss the terrain, check out transportation for tour, ogle and purchase electronic goods, check the cuisine, generally reconnoitre and give our credit cards a test run.
First leg to Sydney take off at 0915 hrs, a cuppa java and HEY PRESTO the news is out – the much-vaunted tour has officially commenced!
TO DO LIST, SYDNEY:
1) Meet up with Tracie at airport
3) Pick up Stu’s camera from Ted’s
7) Get back to Airport for L.A. Flight
After waiting round for Tracie about an hour we called Kirsten and we went out to her pad in Newtown, walked into town for lunch then caught the train in Sydney to visit Ted and pick up Stu’s camera, the awesome Panasonic GH-1, got a few more< snaps and then back to Newtown to pick up Kirstens kid from school, and head down the pub for a beer – a must-do activity when in Aussie