Monday, May 28, 2007

The Treepeople Make it Okay for Young Punks to Practice Guitar Scales

A few years ago some friends and I went to see a garage band called King Khan and the BBQ Show at one of our favorite hangouts, the Funhouse in Seattle, and in between songs, one of the members made some tired joke about Mother Love Bone and another crack about C/Z records. If I wasn’t already in a deep conversation with a friend about how the Bassholes and Flat Duo Jets did the stripped down, garage-rock duo thing way better 15 years ago, I would have yelled out something about how C/Z put out the first Melvins EP and that’s way cooler than playing garage-rock in 2007. Sure C/Z might have put out some duds, but really, what long-running label hasn’t? Every label from Stax to Touch & Go to In the Red has put out some clunkers. Anyhow, besides the aforementioned Melvins’ record, C/Z also put out several great records by Seattle-by-way-of-Boise punkers, the Treepeople. Treepeople were also one of the few local bands that bridged the gaps between the straight edge kids, the grunge scenesters, the Olympia indie rocks, and the garage rock crowd. You could find them abusing fuzz boxes and laying down dual guitar solos with everyone from Aspirin Feast to Gorilla to Subvert to Resolution to Hammerbox to Gas Huffer to Tad to Moral Crux, etc…

Formed after Boise-based hardcore band State of Confusion broke up, Treepeople moved to Seattle around 1988–a good few years before the influx of crappy wannabe rock star bands. The band originally comprised Scott Schmaljohn (guitar/vocals), Doug Martsch (guitar/vocals), Pat Brown (bass), and Wayne Rhino Flower (drums); they first released the No Mouth Pipetting cassette in 1988 and made their vinyl debut in 1989 with the Jack Endino-produced “Important Things” 7” on Silence Records (SEP 002). Silence also released the Time Whore EP (SVP 03) in 1990 and added the song “Cartoon Brew” to the 1990 Silence Sampler 1 EP (SVP 05), which also included songs by Dirt Fishermen and Caustic Resin. They then released the “Makin’ the D” b/w “PG” 7” in 1990 on Battery Records and the “Mistake” b/w “Ballard Bitter” 7” on Sonic Bubblegum Record (GUM002) in 1991. Also in 1991, Arizona-based Toxic Shock Records released the Treepeople/House of Large Sides split single and their debut LP, Guilt, Regret, and Embarrassment (since reissued by K Records – minus the bonus tracks).

C/Z then decided to nut up and release the Steve Fisk and Stuart Hallerman-produced Something Vicious for Tomorrow EP (CZ040) in 1991. Featuring new drummer, Tony Dallas Reed, the record also included the Time Whore EP, and according to the 1991-1992 C/Z catalog, it sounded like “Sonic crust from J. Mascis’ wet dreams. These guys were friends with Tad before he developed an eating disorder.” Former Christ on A Crutch drummer Erik Akre then joined the band, and they released the great “Outside In” b/w “Hide and Find Out” 45 (CZ050) in 1992. T. Dallas Reed rejoined the band on bass for the Just Kidding LP (CZ054) in 1993. Produced by John Goodmanson, the record features re-recorded versions of “Cartoon Brew,” “Ballard Bitter,” “Neil’s Down,” and a slowed down version of “Outside In.” The band contributed “Drawing Lessons” to the Teriyaki Asthma Vol. 8 (CZ049), which also featured songs by MX-80, Ween, and Dose;, and “Boiled Bird” to the Four on the Floor EP (CZ055) along with Dirt Fishermen, Gnome, and Alcohol Funnycar.

The Treepeople also recorded “More than a Feeling” for the completely unnecessary Boston tribute double 7”, Bostonot, on Face the Music Records, which also featured covers by Karp, Paste, Fitz of Depression, Witchy Poo, Cog, Roger Nusic, Ketchup & Mayonnaise. They also did a split double 7” with like-minded band, Archers of Loaf, where they did “Meet at the End” and Archers’ cover “Web in Front” while Archers of Loaf did ‘Quinnbeast” and covered “Funnelhead.” Doug and T. Dallas split the band, and John Polle and Eric Carnell replaced them for their final record, Actual Re-Enactment in 1994. The band lasted a while longer before Scott and John formed Stuntman for a couple records and moved back to Idaho. Scott now plays in a band called The Treatment.

Doug, of course, formed Built to Spill and gave birth to Modest Mouse and a million other bands that learned it was okay for guitarists to noodle every so often, T. Dallas joined former All singer Scott Reynolds' band, Goodbye Harry, for a couple records, Eric played in Kill Sybil and then joined his sister’s band, Goodness, while Wayne Rhino Flower started Violent Green.

King Khan and other garage rockers who can’t appreciate anything unless Tim Warren of Crypt Records gives it thumbs up might not dig this band or C/Z Records, but here are some songs and you can judge them yourself.

Important Things
In My Head
Outside In

Get them all in a .zip file here.

Buy C/Z stuff here.

-- MC Tom

Thursday, May 24, 2007

More on the Green River demos

The email problems were somehow resolved, and I was finally able to receive Alex Shumway's (i.e., Alex Vincent's) responses to some questions I asked him about the demos. These have been combined and edited from a few different emails. Enjoy!

On "Leech" and the demos:
"Leech" was part of the first demo session we did in the summer of 1984, in a studio run by Chris Hanzek (which was sweltering). It was in the same session of songs that you can find on the green 7” bootleg of “33 RPMs” and “10,000 Things.” The only reason we didn’t record it for Come On Down was because we were probably just so tired of it by that time–-and we had so many more songs. (You can always check out the differences of “10,000 Things” on the bootleg and on the Deep Six comp. They sound like two completely different songs–-so I’m pretty sure that "Leech" got tossed by the wayside like that one did.)

The Melvins had a copy of the first demo tape and I know they liked it, so they did a cover of it. (Better than we did it…)

Also, not on the demo that you have is the song "Take Me," which was
part of the same session.

Oh, and - I don't know if it is marked on the 1984 demos but it's all pre-Stone.

[He also pointed out that the .zip file contains a track called "New God II," which is actually an early demo version "Alive" by Pearl Jam. "God knows that wasn't us," he said of it.]

On touring with Big Black:
As for the Big Black shows, we only did a few with them on the first tour. It actually turned out to be the majority of shows thanks to the major screw up of Homestead Records (from around 16 shows to about 7 or 8 at most). Steve Albini, from what I remember, is a really nice guy. We did a show with them in Cincinnati where hardly anybody showed up–-the Red Hot Chili Peppers stole away the whole crowd from across town. While we played to almost nobody, the power went out. We thought they cut the power off on us and Mark got pissed! He unplugged all the mics and chucked them into the crowd (or what there was of a crowd). It turned out to be a blown fuse, so we gathered up all the mics and put them all in place–-except one was missing, and it turned out to be the $500 mic. Needless to say, we didn’t get paid, but Steve was nice enough to help us out with a few bucks from their payout. (As a side note, the guy who ran the club was gunning around town trying to find us. There were some girls who were at the show who knew that he was not a good fellow. So they hid us out of town in one of their father’s cabins until we could get to our next show. Nothing happened, except that Jeff learned to properly tease his hair.)

Other tour stuff:
Other disastrous things that happened on that tour… The record didn’t come out until about a month after the tour; we were almost killed in Detroit playing at a Danzig show; the best show was playing last at CBGBs on a Monday night to six Japanese business men and the staff. (It actually was a great show. The staff liked us enough to give us anything we wanted – aside from cash because there was no one there.)

* * * * *
So there it is. Alex recently played the skins for The Repeat Offenders and now pounds the drums for a terrific garage-ish band called the Zack Static Sect. While neither sounds like Green River, both are definitely worth your time.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Green River demos

One of the coolest things to have happened since we started this blog (after Tad’s comment a week or two ago) was when one of the readers, Casey, sent me mp3s of Green River’s first demo tapes. This juice has fermented in the bottle long enough, so we’re posting those mp3s.

Casey sent a couple of batches of mp3s, one of which was labeled “1984 demos” and the other of which was labeled “1985 demos.” The two selections had quite a bit of cross-over (not just the same songs, but the same recordings of songs), and as happens with demo tapes that have been circulated over many years, the labels didn’t always agree with each other. However, judging from some of the performances, it does appear that they recorded some songs in 1984 and one or two others in 1985. I went through the demos as carefully as I could and removed redundant material. To keep things clear, I’ll refer to them as “the 1984 demos” and “the 1985 demos,” even though most of the material clearly came from the earlier session.

“New God” and “Tunnel of Love” were the only songs from the 1984 demo to later appear (in different recordings) on Come on Down; the 1985 demo erroneously labels these same recordings as “Personality Meltdown” and “Leech,” respectively. The untitled track, which cuts off after about 20 seconds, appears only on the 1984 demo. The same recordings of “Leech,” “Fear,” “Baby Help Me,” and “33 rps” also appear on both demos (as “33 RPM” [which makes more sense than “33 rps”], “Against the Grain,” “Baby Help Me Forget,” and “New God,” respectively). Finally, an early and radically different version of “10,000 Things” (from the Deep Six compilation) appears here as “Twist.”

The 1985 demo contains a version of “Bazaar” that doesn’t appear on the 1984 demo and differs from the version on Another Pyrrhic Victory. Finally, “Together We’ll Never” sounds to like it came from another source; perhaps this version appeared on the Tasque Force Records “Together We’ll Never”/ “Ain’t Nothing to Do” single (which I never owned), as it’s not the version on Rehab Doll; the mp3 has loads and loads of hiss, as if it were a tenth-generation tape.

I emailed former drummer Alex Vincent to ask about the demos, and he wrote a long response that, for some reason, fails to get delivered into my in box. I’ll post it when I finally receive it.

Also, for the hell of it, I’m throwing in the Melvins’ cover of “Leech,” from Gluey Porch Treatments. The mp3’s tag mislabels the song, but rest assured, it’s the right track.

New God
Tunnel of Love
Baby, Help Me
33 RPS
Together We'll Never

Melvins -- "Leeech"

All of the songs can be accessed via .zip file here. Considering the bandwidth used by all of these tracks, I highly recommend that you download the .zip file and not each track individually.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Teaching the Kids About The Night Kings

If your life is based around garage punk blogs, you might think that Rob Vasquez enjoys Saint-like status in his hometown of Seattle, Washington. As many garage rock aficionados know, Rob has been in some of the best garage rock bands since the hey-days of the 60s. Along with Mick Collins' Gories, Tacoma’s Girl Trouble, Seattle’s the Fall-Outs, and a small handful of others, Rob’s the Nights and Days kept the garage rock flame burning brightly throughout the 80s. You would think that would be enough for him to get some decent coverage around town, but nope, the weekly rags would rather report on what some ex-Murder City Devil guy had for lunch on Tuesday or which one of them stunk up the Cha-Cha’s bathroom than write anything about Rob’s latest music endeavor. But the bloggers understand: 90’s underground punk specialists, Static Party, seem to post (and sadly, take down) a different Rob-related single each month, and Detailed Twang has posted the first couple Nights and Days singles here and here. Eventually the In-Crowd will discover Rob and shower him with their parent’s money, but until then, we’ll just raise our glasses to the under-appreciated 3-chord genius.

Rob, whose music background stretches back to the late seventies and who played in some of Seattle earliest punk bands like the Feelings and the Look, formed the Night Kings after the Nights and Days broke up around the turn of the decade. (Supposedly, there is an unreleased Nights and Days LP sitting in somebody’s closet, and until Lamestain turns a profit and starts a record label, it will sadly continue to gather dust.) Featuring Kings of Rock drummer, Dan Ryan and a rotating list of bassists (Javad S, Dylan Maiden, and Jarett O’Bryan), the band released singles on Sub Pop, In the Red, and Dope Records; did split singles with Yummy (ex-Cat Butt) and the Fall-Outs; and appeared on Estrus’ Tales from Estrus Compilation 7” and Regal Select’s Puget Power 3 7”. The Night Kings’ lone full length, Increasing Our High, came out in 1992 on Steve Turner’s incredibly underrated and sorely missed label, Super Electro Records, which amazingly you can still buy here. As well as that record, Super Electro released Lamestain-approved records by the Wellwater Conspiracy, the Fall-Outs, Thee Headcoats, the Kent 3, the Sad and Lonelys, the Wiretaps, and great singles by the Statics, Flop, Mudhoney, Holly Golightly, the Braineaters reissue (which somebody should mail to us), and a few others.

After the Night Kings broke up in the early nineties, Rob has played in Ape Lost, the Chintz Devils, the Gorls (also featuring Dylan Maiden), Man Tee Mans, Pissed Off Zombies, Right On, and currently, Nice Smile. Since we care about your future, we recommend that you track down all of his records now so you can eventually sell them at a huge profit to pay for your retirement home.

Night Kings Theme
Old Dick

Lickity Split
The Fall-Outs - Your Body but Not Your Soul

Get them all in a .zip file here.

-- MC Tom

Monday, May 07, 2007

A fool and his heart are soon parted: Hazel

The always excellent Something I Learned Today blog recently posted several songs from Hazel’s two LPs, Toreador of Love (which features one of the most atrocious cover photos ever) and Are You Going to Eat That?, and their Ariana EP. This led us to dig out two early Hazel singles and to bring ‘em to you people.

First, the basics: the band consisted of Pete Krebs (guitar, vox), Jody Bleyle (drums, vocals), Brady Smith (bass), and Fred Nemo (dancing, old person-ness). They formed in Portland, Oregon, and played their first show (w/ Bedspins, Joybuzzer, and the awesome Crackerbash) at some venue called Handprints on Valentine’s Day in 1992. Hazel ceased to function as a full-time band back in 1997, although they still play live once every year or two. Fred Nemo’s homepage is worth perusing, as it includes a complete list of every show they played. A bit more of their history can be learned from a UW Daily article from 1998.

Bleyle’s label, Candy-Ass Records, released the “Heida”/“Pop Uncle” in 1992. For better or worse, it has the usual attributes of a punk record: a simple, hand-drawn sleeve; very raw recording; and only a semblance of competence. Although the songs themselves are okay, it’s easy to tell that the band played their first show only a week before they hit Smegma Studios to record this. We don’t consider “Heida” to be essential.

Their first Sub Pop single, “Jilted”/”Truly,” on the other hand, is fantastic. Hazel recorded these songs again at Smegma and again with Mike Lastra behind the boards, but six months of constant playing and the presence of Kurt Bloch near the studio’s console helped measurably. Strangely, the b-side became the bigger “hit,” although I’ve always preferred “Jilted.”

And for as awful as the cover of Toreador of Love was, the cover to this single rules.

Pop Uncle


The songs can be found in the .zip file here.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Melvins' Song that Launched 1000 Boris Riffs

This has been a hectic week over here at Lamestain LLC, as profits have plummeted this quarter, and we were forced to lay off our research staff. Because of the revenue shortfall, this week's installment will be brief. We hope to hire a crew of unpaid college interns so we will be able to provide our normal, in-depth, scholastic analysis of 20-year-old records that nobody but you care about shortly.

Along with “Easy As it Was,” “Now a Limo,” “Grinding Process,” “#2 Pencil,” “At a Crawl,” “Disinvite,” “Snake Appeal,” “Show Off Your Red Hands,” “Over the Underground,” “Crayfish,” “Eye Flys,” “Echo Head,” “Don't Piece Me,” “Heater Moves and Eyes,” “Steve Instant Newman,” “Influence Of Atmosphere,” “Exact Paperbacks,” “Happy Grey or Black,” “Leech,” “Glow God,” “Big as a Mountain,” “Heaviness of the Load,” “Flex With You,” “Bitten Into Sympathy,” “Gluey Porch Treatments,” “Clipping Roses,” “As Was It,” “Over From Under The Excrement,” “Vile,” “Oven,” “At A Crawl,” “Let God Be Your Gardener,” “Creepy Smell,” “Kool Legged,” “Green Honey, Agonizer,” “Raise A Paw,” “Love Thing,” “Ever Since My Accident,” “Revulsion / We Reach,” “Dead Dressed,” “Cranky Messiah,” “Claude,” “My Small Percent Shows Most,” “Boris,” “Anaconda,” “Ligature,” “It's Shoved,” “Zodiac,” “If I Had An Exorcism,” “Your Blessened,” “Cow,” “Wispy,” “Antitoxidote,” “Hog Leg,” “Charmicarmicat,” “Hung Bunny,” “Roman Bird Dog,” “Hooch,” “Lizzy,” “Honey Bucket,” “Hag Me,” “Set Me Straight,” “Sky Pup,” “Joan of Arc,” “Teet,” “Copache,” “Pearl Bomb,” “Spread Eagle Beagle,” “How About,” “Rickets,” “Pick it n' Flick it,” “Montreal,” “Chief Ten Beers,” “Underground,” “Chalk People,” “Punch the Lion,” “Pure Digital Silence,” “Larry,” “Roll Another One,” “Skweetis,” “Queen,” “Sweet Willy Rollbar,” “Revolve,” “Goose Freight Train,” “Roadbull,” “At the Stake,” “Magic Pig Detective,” “Shevil,” “June Bug,” “Lividity,” “The Bit,” “Hide,” “Bar-X-The Rocking M,” “Yacob’s Lab, “The Bloat,” “Tipping the Lion,” “Black Bock,” “Goggles,” “Soup,” “Buck Owens,” “Sterilized,” “Lacrimosa,” “Skin Horse,” “Captain Pungent,” “Berthas,” “Cottonmouth,” “They All Must Be Slaughtered,” “Mombius Hibachi,” “Lovely Butterfly,” “Pitfalls in Serving Warrants,” “Air Breather Deep in the Arms of Morphius,” “Laughing with Lucifer at Satan’s Sideshow,” “How ----,” “Harry Lauders Walking Stick Tree,” “Grin,” “In the Freaktose the Bugs are Dying,” “Night Goat” is one of the Best Melvins' Songs of all Time.

Melvins + David Yow performing "Night Goat"

Luckily for me, the Melvins' have released three versions of the song. The first--and, in my professional opinion, best--was on a 1992 Amphetamine Reptile single (Scale #44). Featuring Salty Green (or Joe Preston) on bass, and recorded by Jonathan Burnside and stoner/doom metal go-to engineer, Billy Anderson, the 1500-pressed single also has a great cover of Pussy Galore’s “Adolescent Wet Dream.” The second version was on 1993’s Houdini record; it has Lori Black on bass and was also engineered and recorded by Jonathan Burnside and Billy Anderson. Their last version was then on 2005’s Houdini Live record with Mr. Bungle's/Fantomas’ Trevor Dunn on bass; it was recorded by Toshi Kasai. If we were a more profitable venture, and also not afraid of getting sued by the RIAA, we’d post all three versions of the song, but since Houdini and Houdini Live are still in print, you can just go to the store and buy them, you cheap-ass. Here’s the single version:

"Night Goat"
"Adolescent Wet Dream"

-- MC Tom