IT'S A LIVING
BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #14.8
J Church and Honey BearRecords Month of Sowing
Looking through a glass onion
J CHURCH RECORDS ON THE HORIZON
I just thought that now was a good a time as any to give you a brief
rundown of all upcoming J Church releases and what their status is. Needless
to say, the further I go, the more the info is strictly for trainspotters...
The main thing is our new full length will be out soon on No Idea Records.
We've gone the opposite direction of the last LP where one song took up
a whole side of the record. This time we squeezed 16 songs out. Here's
the track listing:
Vampire Girl Prefers Me Alive
If I Have To Dance Then I Don't Want Your Revolution
Horror Of Life
New Ho Chi Minh City
We Play Secular Music
The World's Smallest Violin
Viva La Muerte
Flirting With The Bourgeois Dream
Bande A Part
Tomorrow And Forever
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love
I'm really stoked about it and think it's our best record since Arbor
Vitae 10 years ago.
We also have a bunch of split records coming out. Our man in Ypsilanti
at grateful... is still putting out a split with Liverpool's best kept
secret, Flamingo 50. Our songs on that are Near 600 Pages and a
cover of the Cars' Just What I Needed.
Underground Communiqué, who did our split 7" with Minority
Blues Band, will be putting out a split with Chicago's Hiruden. Our songs
will be Flirting With The Bourgeois Dream and a cover of Where
Eagles Dare. That one is also already in the works as there's not
much for me to do.
Itchy Korean out of Houston are doing a split with us and King Prawn
from China. I've got this all packed up and ready to go. I just need to
make it to the post office. Our songs are The King and a cover
of Prejudice by Crucifix.
I don't remember all of the details, but we also have a split 10"
coming out with the Croatian band, Analena. Very cool band and great people
too. Our songs are Who Killed Pasolini?, Aeroplane Angel,
Near 600 Pages, Prejudice and Time.
Finally, I just found out we have a split single coming out on 1234Go!
It's a split with Off With Their Heads who we played with last time we
were in Minneapolis. I don't know all of the details yet. But I do know
that our songs will be Trepanation Party and a cover of Too
Late by Snuff.
As far as recent stuff that is available, there are the two new split
7"s. One is with Minority Blues Band from Japan and the other is
with the Plungers from NYC. You can get them both from me for $4.00 ppd.
Ditto for the Cilantro cassette tape. It's the thirteen songs I recorded
over the years that popped up on J Church releases. From Birthday
to Time I've culled them all. Comes with a badge as well. I've
also got the third and fourth live LPs (Trick Or Treat Feedback
and Distortion and The Personal Document). They're $15 each,
but if you want one you should act quick as I really don't have many left.
They were both super limited and only available via mail-order.
There's always more stuff in the distant future. There are five more
live LPs in the super limited, mail-order series. I've got a couple of
potential mail-order only 7"s. I might put our WFMU show out on vinyl
too. Plus, Cilantro has that single I need to remix. I'm also working
on songs for a new Cilantro tape. Should be a busy rest of the year if
I can get my finances in order.
FESTIVUS 2005 J CHURCH / URCHIN TOUR #3 part 1
November 16th Jackson, MS
We picked up the Urchin at Ben's place relatively early. They had a show
the night before at Beerland. But I was working. I figure I'll be seeing
them plenty anyway.
The drive from Austin to Jackson is ass. We should have left earlier,
like the night before. Maybe we should have had a show in Houston to
break up the drive. Uh, sometimes I wish we lived on the East Coast
where you can tour endlessly with short drives.
Even though we're late, it turns out we're really only late for the
soundcheck. Billy who set up the show is really cool. I've never met
him in person, but he's written to us a few times in the past. His
girlfriend, Chrissy, is really nice too. The Red Room is a decent club
with a bar that sort of reminds me of a nice version of this club in
North Beach we used to play called like Morty's or something.
Tonight is my first time checking out Bent Outta Shape. Wow. I don't
know why I was under the impression that they were all Thrash-a-mundo.
But they're quite poppy with lots of good tunes. They're one of those
bands that get up, rock out, and then all find neutral corners of the
club. I think they're having fun. But I don't want to assume.
The Urchin go down really well. We went out of our way to have some
really fun shows on this tour so it should all be very Snuffy Smiles
friendly. Yoichi is along for the tour (as well as Tomo from I Excuse
and Yusuke from Blotto) so we want to make sure they all have a good
experience. They've always been great to us over in Japan.
Toys That Kill are great. Paddy from D4 is sitting in with them on
this trip and that means a lot more jamming than usual. It's cool.
They even sort of evolve this one spontaneous thing into a Joy
Division song. It's the loosest I've ever seen them and it's great.
That night goes crazy as all the bands are crashing out at Billy and
Chrissy's. Everyone seems to be in various stages of wasted-ness. But
nobody is as konked out as Billy. I'm almost worried about him for a moment.
But then I see him bop around, pale as death, looking for a place to crash.
I go with Chrissy to a 24-hour supermarket to get away from the ruckus
and we have a nice chat about life while buying snacks and crap for the
hordes back at the house. She even gives me one of her paintings. I had
said before the tour that one of the things I wanted to look for was little
pieces of original art and she's the first person to hook me up!
November 17th Pensacola, FL
We've always had bad luck with this part of the world. But we've also
never played Sluggo's. It's starting off good, as we are now two for two
with the club providing some sort of vegan friendly meal. Chili is good
especially when I soak it in Tabasco. Mmmm cornbread too. I even had a
glass of wine. Shit, this is a punk bar and I'm drinking merlot. Does
that make me a dick?
Our dearests from San Diego, Vena Cava, are up first tonight. I feel
like we are two groups of pioneers that keep randomly encountering
each other on the prairie. I think this is the third time we've played
with them in the third different state. I don't think we've ever even
played with them in Austin.
The rest of the night is something of a chaotic blur as there was a bit
of drinking and there were a lot of bands. Bent Outta Shape, The Urchin,
This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb, Sexy, Blood Bath and Beyond, Toys That Kill.
I barely remember playing. This show is another one that with all that
known talent was won by the Urchin. They were the tightest band of the
night and they really won the crowd over. It was great to see people rockin'
to them. Tonight's crowd was even more rocking than last night. God, I
hope they're having fun.
November 18th Gainesville, FL
Ah, festivals. I sort of hate them. I find myself mostly just wandering
around with people I only vaguely know seeing bands play short sets to
much too large audiences. It's hot, I'm tired and everything is expensive.
No way was I looking forward to having two days off at the Fest. Hmmm
I actually had a great time.
First of all, a lot more people showed up than I expected. Mike McKee
came down and became my partner in crime. David Hayes even flew out.
Can you believe it? Hayes was here! I really miss Floyd too so that
was cool getting to hang a bit with him.
I spent a lot of day one just wandering around and catching up with people.
I got to see Dillinger Four who, while definitely wasted, were not nearly
as wasted as the last time I saw them. PJ from Grabass has been cool enough
offer his digs as a place for us to crash the whole weekend. I have a
feeling it's gonna be band camp, so I find a neutral corner and snore
myself into oblivion.
November 19th Gainesville, FL
Me and Mike McKee got up relatively early and checked out the acoustic
show happening at some house. Not the kind of house party I was expecting,
there was a nice outdoor stage with 100 kids and free bar-b-que (maybe
it wasn't free. I didn't really investigate).
We make our way back to the downtown area where most of the shows are
happening just in time to catch Pink Razors. Good shit. I can see why
people say they're like a more punk version of Superchunk. They've got
the hooks and the vocals. I wonder if their name has anything to do
with the Chixdiggit record or vice-versa.
Finally we get to play. All these bands, and I only feel anxious to
get on stage. There's something weird about being in that tour mode
where every band you see just adds to your own anxiety until you
actually get up and play. It's not your typical competition thing.
It's true that whenever we are an opening band for someone, I have a
weird desire to try and blow them off the stage. But with these really
big shows, it feels more like I'm part of a big bowling league and
it's taking forever to get to be my turn. We have a lot of fun at the
Common Grounds. We actually had a great show at this venue years and
years ago when it was called the Covered Dish. After we're done, the
craziness really starts. Radon do a reunion gig and are totally
amazing. I've known these guys forever and I just can't believe
they're playing. Every song sounds great and the packed house seems to
know every word. This is the best way to see them.
When they're done we run over to another gynormous venue to catch
Paint It Black. They were fucking amazing. I've never seen them before
and I was really blown away. I dig both of those Jade Tree records.
But now that I've seen them live I don't know if I can go back.
Ferocious hardcore that you associate with East Coast bands. I should
say that they were one of the main bands that I was looking forward to
seeing at the Fest and they did not disappoint. I'll say it again:
Having said all that, best band of the night was Ted Leo and the Pharmacists.
Seriously, this was the best time I'd ever seen them. I've always loved
Ted's songs and his voice. Plus he's a great guitar player. I really admire
the guy. The band has always been fun. But tonight's show was especially
powerful all the way down to the SLF cover at the end. Everything just
seems to be clicking for them at the moment. They are totally solid and
suddenly seem larger than life. It's weird. I've known Ted forever. It's
crazy to connect the guy I've known for years with the guy onstage. The
he pops off stage and he's same old Ted that I've known and loved.
IN THE J CHURCH LISTENING ROOM
APOCALYPSE / TRANSGRESSION split 7"
First of all, I've never really listened to the Transgression side. I've
heard it like once and wasn't too psyched and went back to Apocalypse.
I loved the guys in Apocalypse. Rich and Ralph were good guys and this
is one of those records that I was really stoked to get a shout out in
the thanks list. Two really down to Earth guys, one was clearly the
political voice of the band, the other was the social guy who could
hang out in any crowd. I don't understand why everyone is so reverent
of Iconoclast (who were a great band) while nobody remembers Apocalypse.
This is by far their finest moment. Better songs than the tracks on
their own single or the one on the MRR comp, this is how I remember
them live. Blindingly fast riffs with giant mid tempo breaks all held
together by guttural vocals. The cover proclaims "noise from hell!"
I wonder what these guys are up to today. (Cide-Show/Desperate Attempt)
BEATLES, THE The White Album demos 2xLP
As I've said before, I'm a later period Beatles guy. I like the early
stuff somewhat. But it's Rubber Soul and beyond that get me going.
I guess it's not really too surprising that The White Album is
my favorite Beatles record. There's something mysterious about it that
always sort of frightened me as a child and that's even before I was aware
of the Manson interpretation. It's one of those records I am attracted
to that feel like a weird insight into a scary and alien lifestyle.
So this crazy boot takes the fear another step further. Even odder versions
of the songs or do they just seem odd because I'm so familiar with the
official versions? I don't know. A lot of this is acoustic Lennon with
mysterious versions of Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For
Me And My Monkey, The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill and
yet another version of Revolution. Lots of cool unreleased stuff
too like Child Of Nature and What's The New Mary Jane. I
mean, they've been booted before (is there anything from Beatles archive
not raided?) but it's nice to see all the '68 stuff in one place.
The George tracks are really incredible as well with the eerie Circles
and Not Guilty. I even dig Paul's song Junk. The record
ends with a weird grouping of Dear Prudence, Sexy Sadie
and Helter Skelter. (no address)
DEAD MILKMEN, THE - Bucky Fellini LP
I was never a huge fan of this band like a lot of my friends were. In
fact, like those oddballs that only liked the Mick Jones songs, I really
only love the songs Joe Jack Talcum sung. Everyone loved Bitchin' Camaro
on the first record. But I always thought Dean's Dream was the
So this is, what, the third album? I don't even remember. The second
one had Why Are You A Moron so this is at least number three. There's
the normal funny business like Going To Graceland and The Pit.
This record also contains my favorite Dead Milkmen song of all. Watching
Scotty Die is a really great song that probably wasn't a hit with
their snotty punk suburban fan base. But it's a great sad song with all
the charm of one of Jonathan Richman's more sullen moments. Recorded in
Austin, maybe the time they spent hanging out with Daniel Johnston had
some influence (they even cover Rocketship). This is one of the
songs that helped me learn to love the fiddle. (Enigma Records)
SPENCE, SKIP - Oar LP
The legend of Skip Spence always seems to me like an incomplete story.
Starting off in the Jefferson Airplane, he drummed on their first album
having never touched a kit before. He quit soon after resurfacing as guitarist
in Moby Grape. In 1968, while recording with the Grape, he experienced
some sort of mental breakdown in the studio. There are different reports
of his rampage from yelling and screaming fits to running through the
control room with an axe. He was committed to Bellevue where he was contained
and treated. Six months later, he put together a masterpiece of a solo
record that would wind up being his final and greatest statement.
The album Oar is an eerie 22-song affair. Assuming you can't really
separate the artist from the art, every track is a mystery and every pun
has some deeper meaning. Musically, it's delta blues transmogrified by
meds and psychedelics. There is an odd lightness to the whole project.
Even the sound collages seem to be both meticulously and delicately put
together. The doubled vocals and their utterly life-weary delivery add
to the atmosphere.
Spence plays all the instruments on the record, which would have something
to do with the laid back feel. He was probably pretty medicated at the
time. Even the drums sound like rain patter more than percussion. The
record is beautiful. It's a time capsule in a way. But there's something
soothing and gentle. But beneath that lurks something much darker, which
I think is a lot of the appeal of this record as a cult item. Part of
it is knowing the story of Skip Spence. But you can't help feel that there
is a darker side that he's seen and this record is meant to prevent you
from seeing. (Sundazed)
SYMBOL SIX - s/t 12"
Posh Boy was really the shit for a little while. I really got into a
lot of the SoCal hardcore scene via the Rodney on the ROQ comps.
They had the best records from TSOL, Social Distortion and Agent Orange.
They also did the US version of the amazing Punk And Disorderly
Symbol Six were the last really great record to come out on the label.
With only this four-song 12" to show, they captured a sound that
defined OC punk. There were clear elements of Agent Orange with the classic
track Taxation built around a great guitar riff feeling like Everything
Turns Grey. Ego utilizes great backing vocals that are like
some of the best music from MIA.
It's a really solid record if you can ever find it. Don't be put off
by the horrible record cover. It's a shame that this band didn't record
more. But from what I remember from a later Flipside interview, one of
the guitarists split or was booted. He was too punk and the rest of the
band was getting into heavy metal and glam. It's hard to be a dignified
musician in Southern California. Trust me to know. (Posh
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