November Sucks So Far – Urban Crop Circles



Just a reminder that we are hitting the road. It's the Who Killed Pasolini? Tour 2005!

16 Jackson, MS – The Red Room w/ The Urchin (Japan), Toys That Kill
17 Pensacola, FL – Sluggo's w/ The Urchin (Japan), Toys That Kill,
Sexy, This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb, Bent Outta Shape, Bloodbath and Beyond
18 Gainesville, FL – hanging at the Fest
19 Gainesville, FL – Common Grounds w/Ted Leo, Radon and a million more
20 Gainesville, FL – probably starting to get a little sick of the Fest
21 Atlanta, GA – tba w/ The Urchin (Japan), Black Cougar Shock Unit
22 Chattanooga, TN – Ziggy's tba w/The Urchin (Japan), Sexy
23 Denton, TX – Hailey's w/The Urchin (Japan)

Incidentally, I need a ride back to Austin after the Denton show. Anyone driving? I need to work at Vulcan the next day at noon and I'm dreading the bus...



I totally forgot that a new auction would end while we were in the middle of tour. So I'm not gonna do any more Ebay stuff until we get back. If I really, really get my shit together (which isn't too likely) I'll start an auction right before we leave so I can sort it out when I get home for Thanksgiving.



MAY 28th – Sendai

This is our third time at this place. It's basically a practice space that's been converted into a little underground venue. The stage is low and the crowds are pretty crazy. Last time we were here I chipped a tooth when a stage diver hit the mic into my mouth. It was a harmless accident and I've probably chipped my teeth half a dozen times at shows over the years. It's just one of those hardcore hazards.

Anyway, the kids doing the shows here are really cool. They're like second-generation Snuffy Smiles types. Their fucking production company is called My Favorite Place. Wow. I really don't know how to respond to that sort of thing. It's like people with J Church tattoos or bands covering our songs. It's very, very flattering and I like to think I face everything with humility.

Tonight's show is a nice change of pace from the normal pop punk groups we like playing with over here. The End are first up and are pretty great. Very much in the Jehu / Hot Snakes mold with elements of No Means No as well. It's not really prog or math. But it's some sort of weird punk / art hybrid. If you know what kind of music I'm referring to, they're very structuralist in a way. I dig it. But I don't know if they dig this scene.

Total Fury are fucking amazing. That album was the closest any modern hardcore band has come to capturing the feel of Minor Threat/Teen Idles. Old school, DC-Style hardcore, they're far more powerful live than on record with the group never letting up. It's all at lightening speed as the singer flies around and the bassist lunges to keep time. The guitarist looks young as hell. He really, really has that Lyle Presslar sound down and that is a lot of why the band is so great sounding. After the set, the bassist goes backstage and passes out at the table.

We played with a totally different incarnation of Deeds Not Words last time. I think they used to have a girl singer. The new group is closer to the Fifteen vein I think they aspire towards. It's catchy and they change in all the right places. Actually, it's probably more like later Crimpshrine than Fifteen. Glad to see that influence across the Pacific.

The Urchin are amazing and are easily the best and most together band of the night. They are sounding bigger and fuller than I've heard them sound. We get up and slop through our set, me breaking a string AND a guitar before our set is done. By the end, I'm working through our set playing the Total Fury guy's guitar.

We all stay with Takeshi from the anarcho band Sacrifice. He informs us that his apartment building is the number one suicide spot in Sendai. It's pretty high and looks like a cross between Chungking Manor and a London tower block. I guess everyone living here is really poor. We have a really cool chat and I get a copy of the It's You 7" off of him.


MAY 29th – Niigata (Nile Studio)

Today was a long drive. I like these long drives. I don't know any better way to feel like you know a place than spending the time actually criss-crossing close to the land. This drive is hot and sweaty. We pass through miles of rice patties. The flat land is carved every half-mile or so with small cemeteries with 20 or so plots. They're totally compact and weirdly unique like a bigger version of stacking stones along the side of the road. Even in death Americans seem so much more gluttonous and gauche than the rest of the world.

Tonight's show is in the basement of a rundown hotel. It's not really what I think of when I hear "hotel". It looks like a big abandoned building that's been allowed to deteriorate over the years. But the room itself is pretty nice.

The Urchin is playing second out of four. It always feels weird when the band you're touring with doesn't play directly before you. I know there are always reasons. But I sort of feel like I'm betraying them in some way. I suppose that part of it is the camaraderie you develop on the road. But part of it is also that they are making sacrifices to make this tour for us happen. We are using their back-line and they don't have to help us at all. I just want to do right by them.

Spraypaint are sandwiched between us. They do an amazing cover of I Want The Moon. They're a pretty remarkable band. It's really hard to pin this kind of band down. There are raw punk elements mixed with melodic arrangements. It's like if you took I Excuse and replaced the hardcore sensibilities with garage or more traditional punk.

We're just a pile of crap. No sleep and general fatigue complicate an already difficult gig. Everything sounds out of tune and dead. The room is so big I can't get a guitar note to sustain to save my life. The cacophony makes singing a battle and rather than rise to the occasion, the whole gig slips away from us and ends in a dreadful thud.

We stay with the singer for Spraypaint. But not for long as he has to go to work at 6:00 AM! The little things that would kind of get on my nerves on any other tour are fine in Japan. I'm always tired here anyway. Besides, it's tour. I remember the first interview I ever read with Husker Du talking about getting used to going for days on the road with no sleep at all. They would just hit it and do what they had to do. I still find that totally exciting. I don't like sleep anyway. I talk with Masa and Big from the Urchin about old shows I used to love like Kikaida, Kamen Raider V3 and Zaboga. One of my favorites was Rainbow Man but you never hear about him. There hasn't been the big revival like there has been for so many other Japanese superhero shows from the '70s. Big told me it's because the bad guys he fights were made to look like North Koreans! He says it's not politically appropriate to celebrate the show at this time. As a child in Hawaii watching every week and buying the toys, I had no idea.


MAY 30th – Kyoto (Kyamachi East)

It's another long drive starting at 6:00 AM. These little cemeteries that I thought seemed so sentimental yesterday are a real drag today. I guess a big America type graveyard is sort of desensitizing in its volume. You just see acres of death like a grim patch board. It's a number we can't truly understand and therefore just becomes it's own entities. It's the dead masses. All these little ones seem more personal like little mirrors from the horror of life to the alienation of death. The dead here are constantly in your life and you can never be sure if you are meant to remember them out of respect or that of your own reasons for existence.

Everyone except for me went to the hot springs. I really wanted to go but I can't because of my heart condition. You always hear about these places and how refreshing they are. It's just one more thing I can't do because of my decaying material self. I just sat on my own pondering the little graveyards while soaking my feet in the hot spring water.

I really enjoy walking around Kyoto. It's a crazy indoor/outdoor mall downtown with loads of cool shops. Yeah, I guess if you live here it's probably the equivalent of cruising around Haight Street or Melrose or some bullshit. But I'm a tourist and I AM looking for another 100 yen store. In fact, those stores bring me great joy! I know it's their version of a dollar store. But, hey, I used to love hitting up the dollar stores in Los Angeles and San Francisco when I was still a Californian. Anyway, my main purchase of the day turned out to be at a Tower Records where I was able to track down the soundtrack to "Ping Pong".

There's no ego in the hardcore scene here. I Excuse are one of the better known bands and have certainly paid their dues. Still, they are happy to go on first at a show that they set up. Paired down to a trio, they are one of the greatest hardcore bands in Japan with a mesmerizing mix of strained vocals and noisy but complex guitar playing. I can't wait until they get a third full length together.

Anti-Justice are another Kyoto punk band that are more goofie with a singer playing an unplugged acoustic guitar. Every song is catchy as hell and seems to be built around at least one sing-a-long moment. The singer has a sort of Dean Martin on a Sunday look and they seem to be really funny as everyone that speaks Japanese is laughing at the between song yucks.

But tonight is the Urchin's night as the crowd is totally up for it. In this very tiny room, they explode with the crowd surging and a collapsing around them. They also seem to be especially enjoying themselves tonight.

It's even a nice set for us. Thank God, as we really needed some sort of redemption after the crap we played last night. Sometimes on tour you can hit a bad patch like a baseball team in a slump. We're only here for a week or so. Hitting a slump is not an option. We power through the bad memories of the previous night and in our own mundane way, rise to the occasion.

We crash at I Excuse's house tonight. I got a tape of some new stuff that I can't wait to check out. I love these guys.



AS MERCENARIAS - The Beginning Of The End Of The World LP

Soul Jazz is in many ways the coolest record label going. They're like a cross between the Secret Museum of Mankind and Actuel. Does that make sense? Not really. But they've been releasing and reissuing some of the best deep jazz, soul and funky rhythms all looking beautiful.

Lately, they've been giving their polish to the post punk world starting with the incredible The Sexual Life Of Savages double LP compilation. Now they've release this incredible collection of recordings from Brazil's answer to the Slits, As Mercenarias.

Everyone knows about the old hardcore scene of bands like Ratos De Porao and Colera. But conjunctively, there was an avant-garde in Brazil's `80s. From 1982 to 1988, As Mercenarias were one of the top bands. With their fusion of punk rock, miraculous funky bass lines and a guitar sound that could go from soulful to white noise at the drop of a hat, the band actually had a certain degree of success back in the day.

This record collects all the music from their two albums. The recordings are fantastic. The delivery is aggressive. Some of the dub moments have more to do with PiL or even Pigbag than the Slits. The comparison has a lot more to do with them being an all female quartet. It's a little more expensive, but you should really track down the vinyl which includes a bonus 7" of the groups demo recordings. (Soul Jazz)


CHASED AND SMASHED - 30 Seconds Over Hillsboro 12"

I'm a moron. I didn't even know that Erin Yanke was the drummer for this group. This is probably the punkest thing that Paul has put out, and it's pretty mental. Eight fast and furious garage blasts that remind me a bit of Gaunt and Teengenerate. Belted vocals sound like they're spitting out lines between trips to the vomitorium. It's real rough, but the songs have a tight structure and rhythm that make the songs, I dunno, they're sort of pop songs in a gargling-with-whisky sort of way.

The first track is my favorite. I love those "fuck my hometown" anthems ever since the first time I heard At The Edge by SLF and A River Runs Through It is in that same tradition. "So what if a river runs though it? You can hang yourself from the highest bridge. Go 'head and do it!" Yeah! (Onion Flavored Records)



I'd never actually heard of this band until this record showed up at practice one day. Don't be afraid of the very nice but suspiciously emo looking cover art. It's cool. It's not what you think.

The Gibbons are a great punk band that seems to be part of this new generation that includes the Ergs and Sexy as groups that either know and respect the past or are totally oblivious and stumbled onto something really magical. Just when you think they're really into Leatherface, they throw you a curve ball. Maybe they were actually listening to Moving Targets back when I was? Maybe they were into the Feelies? It's really hard to say. There's this musicality about this record that says they can instinctively find melody without reducing speed or power.

The guitars have that sound that is so indicative of American punk after 1980. It's that wide wash of folk chords played with a wash of distortion. The melodies and harmonies unique to these chords are implied more often that emphasized. It's sort of pretty but still sort of punk. I don't know what to call this stuff. Can you really call Flip Your Wig a punk record? I don't know if you can. But it's great and The Gibbons are mining in that area. (Salinas)


MUSTAFA ET MONIQUE - The Houdini Aubergine 10"

I remember reading about Sonic Youth long before I heard them for the first time. The reviews were always so vague but totally intriguing. There was beautiful music confused by layers of noise and electronic distortion. I learned to love Sonic Youth even though they couldn't possibly sound like the music in my head I was imagining.

Mustafa Et Monique are that group. This record is sort of a miracle. I never would have even given it a second thought with it's almost Pavement-y record cover. But Sean sent it my way and he's usually right. If Jesus and Mary Chain really, really did hate rock n roll like they claimed, they might be heading into this territory. There is all manner of static and feedback making noise that is almost nostalgic at times like overworked '50s appliances. Mix that with the sweet Velvet-y tunes and you get the idea.

Whether or not the duos record collection goes back to My Bloody Valentine or Sonic Youth or the Velvet Underground, they've found that use of noise that is self-conscious rather than a weapon. Unlike many bands that use feedback and distortion as a weapon attacking the music, for Mustafa Et Monique it is more like the bangs they hide their eyes behind. (Oscillatone Recordings)


Back to Article Index