Have A Spook-Tacular Hallowe’en Hoot-enanny!

31 10 2008

Well today’s finally arrived and in order to celebrate my favourite time of the year, I’m taking the rest of the afternoon off. Teenage Kicks has been written, I’ve reviewed the new Girls Aloud and Story of Hair records (if you love Bratmobile etc then you’ll really dig Story of Hair) and apart from a few niggly things, I’m done. But never fear folks, in order to give you something to read, I’ve posted a few reviews/features etc from a while back to tie in with the spooky spirit of today including a piece on one of the greatest bands in world the Misfits. Oh, if you’re still up for more Hallowe’en hi-jinks, then comics-wise pick up the Walking Dead and the Astounding Wolf-Man by Robert Kirkman and Tomb of Dracula, Witches and Rise of the Midnight Sons (published by Marvel). I used to love Lilith, Mother of all demons when I was wee..

Right, I’m off to buy yet another pumpkin, some booze and sweeties then go watch the fireworks display in Lisburn before getting utterly rat-arsed at the Rockabilly night in McCracken’s.

Stay cool, ghouls.

Horrorpops-Kiss Kiss Kill Kill

(Hellcat Records)

Reviewer: Edwin McFee

 

Danish diva Patricia Day and her boo-wop boys the Horrorpops return to the action this month with the eagerly awaited release of their third album ‘Kiss Kiss Kill Kill.’ This time around the band have given the boot to the schlocky horror of previous records and instead adopted a more tongue in cheek/fang in mouth approach. There’s also a decidedly 80s feel to the album, especially on the Billy Idol-esque title track and Day’s come to bed croon is as bewitching as ever. Best song by far has to be the future single ‘Heading for the Disco?’ which is destined to become a monster-smash among psychobilly and punk fans before the year’s out and overall, ‘Kiss Kiss’ is a welcome addition to Horrorpops’ arsenal. Ghoul power!

 

8/10

Download: ‘Heading for the Disco?’ ‘Thelma and Louise,’ ‘Keep My Picture.’

For Fans Of: Nekromanitx, the Meteors, the Sabrejets.

Nekromantix-Life is a Grave and I Dig It!

(Hellcat Records)

Reviewer: Edwin McFee

 

After spending nearly two years in limbo while singer and bassist Kim Nekroman toured with the Horrorpops, morbid mentalists Nekromantix are back from the dead with a new record. Life is a Grave is the band’s seventh slab of wax and employs the “if it ain’t broke” rule to superb effect. Featuring 13 tracks of terrifying tuneage, the Danish dead-men have breathed new life into a decaying genre. Don’t call the undertakers just yet.

 

 

5/5

Download: ‘Horny in a Hearse,’ ‘Voodoo Shop Hop,’ ‘My Girl.’

For Fans Of: Horrorpops, the Meteors, Brian Setzer

History Lessons:

The Misfits

 

Words_Edwin McFee

 

THE LOWDOWN

 

Hailing from Lodi, New Jersey, the Misfits arrived kicking and screaming into the late 70s punk rock scene, laying waste to their peers in a matter of months. At the band’s core was lead singer Glenn Danzig and bassist Jerry Only. Although they were both clearly in love with being a Misfit, the dynamic duo couldn’t be any more different. Danzig was a short but stocky loner who thrived on psycho-sexual imagery, comic books and violence. Only was a tall, athletic Italian American who loved being one of the guys as much as he did watching creepy old horror films.

 

For five years, Danzig and Jerry would re-imagine the world of punk rock, changing the genre forever. Gone was the cartoonish posing and designer clothes of bands like the Sex Pistols in favour of a darker, more aggressive type of music that feed on America’s fears. In short-the Misfits couldn’t have been any more punk rock if they tried. They released their own music via their label Plan 9, they made their own back-drops, answered their own fan mail and later set up one of the coolest organisations ever-the Fiend Club.

 

When the Misfits first started gigging, Jerry would work at his Dad’s car shop while Danzig sorted out the fan club, booked tours and wrote songs. They would put every penny they had into creating the ultimate creepy concert and over the years featured coffins, rats, fake blood, and anything else their horror obsessed minds could think of to thrill the Fiends with. They were a band that looked like a gang. They wore the same black clothes emblazoned with their mascot the Crimson Ghost, they wore their hair with their fringes over their faces (later christened the Devilock) and their annual Halloween shows were a frenzy of two minute short, sharp shocks to the system, each song faster and more melodic than the next.

 

But a band a vital and as visceral as the Misfits can only last so long before they burn out and this happened around the time when Jerry’s 16 year old brother Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein replaced guitarist Bobby Steele in 1980. Although many see the line-up comprising of Danzig, Doyle and Jerry as the classic incarnation of the band, Glenn had his doubts. The singer claimed that Jerry drafted in his brother to strengthen his position in the band and rather daftly complained that Doyle’s fingers were too large to properly play guitar. Still, the Twins of Evil, as they were delightfully dubbed, made an even more imposing live prospect than before and went down a storm with the Fiends.

 

After a few failed attempts at supporting the Clash and the Damned in England, the end of the line was in sight for the Misfits. On one hand we had Jerry who wanted the band to stay true to their three chord melodic punk origins and on the other we had Danzig who felt like he was being trapped artistically. This all came to a head one fateful Halloween night in 1983. They were due to play a gig in Michigan and Glenn had drafted in Brian Damage to thump the tubs for the night. Unfortunately Damage was too pissed to play and Doyle threw him offstage. The drummer from the Necros filled in but the band looked visibly annoyed with one another and Glenn informed the crowd that this was the Misfits’ last ever show. The group later drove back home together and never spoke again.

 

During the 90s Jerry and Danzig were involved in a court battle over song writing royalties. To cut a very long story short, Only settled out of court and gained the right to use the Misfits’ moniker. Doyle and Jerry recruited drummer Dr Chud and hot young talent Michale Graves and made two amazing, yet sadly over-looked records American Psycho and Famous Monsters. Old school Misfits fans were sceptical of the reunion and Graves later left the band blaming Only for being a task master. In recent years Jerry has continued to tour under the Misfits name and is planning a new record. Danzig has since went on to be a successful solo artist and still refuses to talk about his time in the band. Although he stresses there will never be a Misfits reunion, AU wouldn’t bet against it. Afterall, even the monsters in the horror movies they so dearly love come back for one last scare, so why can’t they?

 

 

ESSENTIAL LISTENING

 

STATIC AGE (Plan 9, 1995)

Originally recorded in 1978, Static Age finally saw the light of day in late 1998 after spending a lifetime gathering dust on a studio executive’s shelf. The album featured the Misfits at the peak of the powers and some of the tracks such as Return of the Fly, Last Caress and Bullet would become absolute classics at their gigs.

 

 

EVILIVE (Plan 9, 1983)

Live albums should be less about smoothing over the imperfections and more about the smash-mouth delivery that you can only get at gig and no album seems to sum this up more than the sonic brutality of Evilive. Featuring a guest appearance from Black Flag’s Henry Rollins, Evilive is up there with the best of them.  

 

 

FAMOUS MONSTERS (Roadrunner Records, 1999)

Although much maligned by old school Fiends who refused to recognise new Misfits singer Michale Graves-Famous Monsters is a near perfect record chock-full of melodies you’ll still be whistling while you’re six feet deep in your coffin. Songs such as boo-wop classic Saturday Night could make even the more dedicated shoe-gazer contemplate throwing away his Sigor Ros records and is a worthy addition to the Misfits’ canon.

 

 

Hidden Tracks: For Collectors

Until relatively recently, nearly all of the Misfits’ original output could be considered as ‘Hidden Tracks.’ During the band’s early days they churned out super limited editions of their singles as 7 and 12 inches and most of it remained out of print for years. These days the highly sought after slabs of wax earn a fortune on eBay, but if you’re a future Fiend in the making the smart money goes on a copy of the Misfits coffin boxset to satisfy your every need. Most of the early ‘fits’ back catalogue was released as part of the mighty 4-disk anthology during the mid 90s and it features everything you need and more including the ace Danzig solo single Who Killed Marilyn. Also keep an eye out for the UK edition of Famous Monsters which features the exclusive punk as fuck song 1 Million Years BC.

 

 

 

THE DEVIL’S WHOREHOUSE-SELECTED MISFITS TRIVIA

 

During the late 90s, Misfits bassist Jerry Only fancied himself as a wrestler and tagged with WCW grappler Vampiro for a short period of time.

 

The band’s single Scream not only featured a video with the ‘fits done up as zombies who attack a hospital, it was also directed by horror legend George Romero. As if that wasn’t enough, the song was originally commissioned by Wes Craven to be used as the theme tune to his latest film project. No prizes for guessing what that particular movie was called…

 

In 1982 the Misfits were arrested on charges of grave robbing. They were alleged to have entered a cemetery in New Orleans in search of the burial ground for notorious voodoo practitioner Marie Laveau. Although they denied charges, they paid their bail the next morning and legged it to Florida before anyone noticed.

 

Happy go-lucky weight-lifting beef cake Henry Rollins is a major fan of the band and has their mascot the Crimson Ghost tattooed on his arm.

 

Former Misfits guitarist Arthur Googy quit the band in ‘82 following an argument one night with Danzig over that heavily debated subject of cheeseburgers.

 

During a particularly bloody show in San Francisco in the early 80s, Doyle broke a guitar over one fan’s head after being repeatedly hit with beer cans. Although some people reported that the fan died, he did in fact survive the scuffle but was left with severe brain damage. A full scale riot broke out after the incident and the Misfits narrowly escaped with their lives.

 

Life-long comic book fanboy Glenn Danzig was rumoured to have auditioned for the role of Wolverine in the big-screen adaptation of Marvel’s X-Men.

 

During the band’s early days Doyle bought a real life coffin and kept it in his room.

 

Before Jerry Only hired Michale Graves to front the 90s incarnation of the band-Damned warbler Dave Vanian was originally slated to be Danzig’s replacement.

 

HORROR BUSINESS-A MISFITS MIXTAPE

 

1) Bullet (7-inch single, 1978)

2) I Turned Into a Martian (Walk Among Us, 1982)

3) Forbidden Zone (Famous Monsters, 1999)

4) Mommy Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight (Walk Among Us, 1982)

5) Horror Hotel (3 Hits from Hell, 1982)

6) Speak of the Devil (American Psycho, 1997)

7) Teenagers From Mars (Beware EP, 1

8) Saturday Night (Famous Monsters, 1999)

9) Night of the Living Dead (7 inch single, 1979)

10) 20 Eyes (Walk Among Us, 1982)

11) Horror Business (Evilive, 1981)

12) Dig Up Her Bones (American Psycho, 1997)

13) Devilock (Earth AD/Wolf’s Blood, 1983)

14) Halloween (Legacy of Brutality, 1985)

15) Return of the Fly (Static Age, 1995)

16) Pumpkin Head (Famous Monsters, 1999)

17) Vampira (Collection I, 1986)

18) Skulls (Walk Among Us, 1982)

19) Scarecrow Man (Famous Monsters, 1999)

20) We Are 138 (Evilive, 1983)





Needles and Pins

30 10 2008

This week it looks like I’m finally going to get back into Skullduggery (www.skullduggerytatu.com) to book in for a new tattoo (though having said that, I’ll probably end up having to do an interview at the last minute).I’ve 12 tattoos at the moment and haven’t had a new one in about 10months. I decided to give myself a few months off, but work got in the way and I haven’t had a spare minute sadly. Fingers crossed I’ll get my features wrapped up tomorrow to call in. I’ve decided to a burning heart with a scroll reading ‘Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me’ on my right inner bicep (I’m running out of room on the old arms) as well as a pair of lips too.

I’ve always meant to get proper photos done of the ones I have but for some reason never got round to it.I did finally get a pic of the Hulk/Bruce Banner one on my left forearm though (I’ve been reading the title since ’91) so here it is if you fancy a wee look.





I’m Mad For It, Matthew

30 10 2008

Last night I was covering the Oasis gig in the Odyssey. As you might expect it was the usual sea of pissheads and beer-guts and you know what?I loved it. The band were on top form, a drunk lesbian who was off her face not only fell and smacked her head off the seat beside me, but also fell into my lap (I’m sure there’s a joke there somewhere) and the Gallaghers were mincing about posing for Carrie’s camera. Sadly they didn’t play ‘Live Forever’ even though Our Kid introduced it, but I loved it all for waht it’s worth.

I think my favourite member is Liam and in tribute to last night’s show I’ve reprinted below a short side-bar that I wrote to accompany a DVD review of ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger.’

Getting Lippy with Liam

Here at AU Towers we’ve always believed that Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher is a misunderstood comedy genius. Here are just a few examples of his classic comic clangers.

 

“You see pictures of Bono running around LA with his little white legs and a bottle of Volvic and he looks like a fanny.”

 

“Always wear four condoms-including one for putting on your head.”

 

“I hate Tom Cruise. He’s a little bastard.”

 

“I’ve got Patsy Kensit’s phone number and she’s mad for it!”

 

“I never wanted to go to Downing Street anyway. It looks like a shit house.”

 

“I’m into the girls and stuff fancying me-mad for it in fact. I get a bit worried if boys started fancying me though. I’ve got nothing against gays-as long as they don’t pinch me bum or whatever.”

 

“S Club Juniors are great. I don’t mind them at all.”

 

“Americans want grungy people stabbing themselves in the head onstage. They get a bright bunch like us, with deodorant on and they don’t get it.”

 

“Being a lad is what I’m about. I can tell you who isn’t a lad-anyone from Blur.”

 

“The band will go on as long as we’ve got our hair and as long as we look cool. It’s all about the barnet.”

 

“If I saw an alien I’d tell it to fuck right off because whatever planet he came from they wouldn’t have had the Beatles or any decent fucking music. So they can fuck right off-I ain’t going nowhere with them.”





They’re Coming To Get You, Barbara!

28 10 2008

Well it’s nearly Hallowe’en and it’s easily my most favourite time of the year. I’ve been watching lots of horror stuff and as per usual we have a pumpkin. We’ve called him Herman

This All Hallow’s Eve it looks like we’ll be going to the rockabilly night in McCraken’s and all week I’ll be glued to Dead Set, the wombie series on E4 set in the Big Brother house. To get my bloggy readers in the spirit, I’ve decided to post up a feature called the A-Z of Horror Films. If you think I’ve missed anything out then let me know

A to Z: Horror Films.

 

Words_Edwin McFee

 

Welcome boils and ghouls to a very special edition of A to Z. This month we celebrate the impending arrival of All Hallow’s Eve with a chilling countdown of the best horror films from the last 50 odd years. So settle back, close the curtains and read our guide to having the ultimate fright night. It’s a real scream.

 

 

A is for AMITYVILE

-The Amityville Horror was a film allegedly based on true events in the 1970s. The plot is simple enough-a family move into an idyllic new home in the suburbs ready to make a fresh start. Little do they know however that the house was the scene of a horrific mass murder a few months beforehand and pretty soon they discover that not only is the place haunted, but not everything is as it seems.

 

B is for BLAIR WITCH

-Few films caught Joe Public’s imagination as much as the Blair Witch Project during the late 90s horror boom. Initially marketed as genuine footage, the film-makers’ turned their back on the blood and guts approach of their contemporaries and instead made a film about three people running around a forest avoiding a witch that probably didn’t exist. True horror fans lapped it up but the steak headed culchies didn’t understand what was going on and went back to watching the Simpsons. The last five minutes of the film still packs as much impact now as it did nearly ten years ago.

 

C is for CARRIE

-Carrie is one of Stephen King’s nastier novels and the film version does the bespectacled writer proud. It’s the tale of a geeky girl raised by her nutty religious zealot of a mum, who falls foul of the bullies at school. In fact it could almost be a film about a day in the life of a typical AU reader, apart from the final 15minutes where Carrie blows everyone up with her mind, of course.

 

D is for DRACULA.

Created in 1887 by a drunken Irishman after too much pea soup, Count Dracula is the daddy of the horror genre. Whether it’s the super-creepy Bela Lugosi film made by Universal Studios in the 50s or it’s the wonderfully blood-thirsty series of movies made by Hammer in the 60s and 70s that tickles your fancy, Dracula has always been one horror icon that doesn’t suck. Plus, he’s bats. Awww…never mind…

 

E is for EXORCIST

-Forget the sequels, forget the prequels, forget the fact that before you saw the film you already knew what was going to happen. The Exorcist is still one of the most terrifying tales of all-time and is a masterpiece by anyone’s standards. The fact that it was banned for years because of its satanic references only makes it cooler. It looks like not only has the Devil got the best tunes, he’s got the best films as well.

 

F is for FRANKENSTEIN

Though some have come close to matching him, Peter Cushing’s portrayal as the man who played God has always been this writer’s favourite incarnation of Victor Frankenstein.  The series of films from Hammer are diabolically good fun with Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed being a particular highlight. Never has a man with sewn-on limbs looked as good. 

 

G is for GINGER SNAPS

-It’s a common enough story-girl gets treated like a weirdo at school, girl starts growing hair in weird places, girl develops a taste for human flesh. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?

 

H is for HALLOWEEN

-Boiler suit? Check. Big fucking knife? Check. A William Shatner mask with the eyes cut out? Double check. All you need are these three simple items and a room full of naked teens and if you’re 70s slasher Michael Myers, you’re happier than a pig in its own doo-doo.

 

I is for IT

-If you weren’t afraid of clowns beforehand, watching a smiley-faced Tim Curry gut people like a fish will make you piss your pants every time you see Ronald McDonald’s cheery mug. Believe that.

 

J is for JEEPERS CREEPERS

-Everyone’s favourite truck-driving living dead cannibal the Creeper might seem like a rip-off (no pun intended) of Marvel Comics character Terror, Inc, but for studio executives he’s box office gold. While the naughties has seemingly failed to produce any decent horror films, Jeepers Creepers is a welcome exception to the rule.

 

K is for KRONOS, VAMPIRE HUNTER.

-Before Blade, before Buffy, we had Kronos. Captain Kronos to be exact. Made by Hammer, Kronos was a dashing bloke with an eye for a large-chested lovely and a thirst for vampire hunting. Aided and abetted by his hunchback side-kick Dr Marcus, Captain Kronas, Vampire Hunter is a forgotten classic.

 

L is for LAST BROADCAST

-Pound for pound the Last Broadcast is one of the sickest films this writer has ever seen. The film is a documentary and focuses around its lead character David Leigh’s hunt for the so-called Jersey Devil. To tell you any more will ruin the movie so if you haven’t yet seen this 1998 gem, check it out now. Just don’t watch it alone.

 

M is for MAN-THING.

-When it was announced that Marvel Comics’ muck-based monster Man-Thing was to star in his own film, most people didn’t give a shit. Us eijits here at AU did however, and boy were we chuffed to finally see “Manny” in all his glory.

 

N is for NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.

-“They’re coming to get you Barbara!” George Romero’s first and best zombie film Night of the Living Dead is great fun from beginning to end. It’s a shame he had to ruin his legacy with a clutch of below-par sequels, but for sheer terror, this black and white shocker is one for the ages.

 

O is for OMEN

-So, your mother was a jackal, your daddy is never around and you’ve got a dodgy 666 tattoo on your skull that you can’t remember getting. What’s worse is that you’ve got a phobia about going to mass. No wonder you’re fucked up and delight in killing others. Take a bow Damien Thorne, as your trilogy of films are probably the greatest ever made.

 

P is for PROM NIGHT.

-Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis’ second best role was playing Kim Hammond, a young lady going to her first High School Prom. As is always the way with films featuring a young Miss Curtis, much slashing, running and rumpo takes place and Prom Night is recommended for fans of Scream and Urban Legend. Keep an eye out for the remake coming out next year too.

 

Q is for THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT.

-The Quatermass Xperiment was the first film made by the fledging Hammer Horror studios in 1955. This little black and white video nasty deals with mutants, murder and space aliens, has spawned a ton of sequels and inspired a young Stephen King along the way. All of which means of course that it’s only a matter of time before Hollywood gets their hands on it and produces a shite remake with Bernie Mac or some other tool in the lead role. Hooray for Hollywood.

 

R is for RASPUTIN.

-As mad monks go, Rasputin took the biscuit. Played by horror legend Christopher Lee, the film focuses on the seedier side of Russia’s nobleman with particular attention paid to his dabbles in the dark arts. Not even a poisoned Turkish delight could put this mother down. 

 

S is for SCREAM.

-Before Scream came out director Wes Craven was a washed up has-been living off the cash cow that is Freddy Kruger. After Scream however, Wes Craven is now a washed up has-been living off the cash cow that is the slasher film. As Elton John once sang-“It’s the circle of life.”

 

T is for TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.

-This low budget 70s shocker is sheer perfection from beginning to end and when it first came out it broke all the rules. Packed with grisly deaths and some truly terrifying moments, the film is a clever satire of the family values era of American politics, only in the case of Leatherface and his crazy kin-the family that slays together, stays together. If Leatherface ever asks you round for dinner-just say no kids.

 

U is for UNDERWORLD.

-What’s cooler than vampire and werewolf films? The answer is simple-it’s a vampire film starring werewolves with Kate Beckinsale in skin tight leather. Duh. Why didn’t we think of that first?

 

V is for VAMPIRE LOVERS.

-It would be rude of us to have a horror countdown and not feature the first lady of fear Ingrid Pitt. This particularly racy romp takes it’s inspiration from Sheridan Le Fenu’s novel Carmilla and Ms Pitt is perfect as the saucy but scary vamp. Also try to check out its sequel Twins of Evil for a barn storming performance from the late great Peter Cushing.

 

W is for WICKER MAN.

-34 years on from when it was first made, the Wicker Man still ranks as Christopher Lee’s favourite role and once you watch this iconic film you’ll see why. Without spoiling anything all we have to say is-“Oh Christ no!” The film brings a whole new meaning to the term “crispy bacon.” Watch it now.

 

X is for XTRO.

-Boasting the tagline “this alien is pure evil,” the reviews of the film should have read-“this film is pure shite.” Let’s leave it at that, shall we?

 

Y is for ….

-Why don’t they make any decent films beginning with the letter Y? Y’s loss is your gain however as we’ll use this space to recommend the Vincent Price masterpiece Witchfinder General, the up-coming vampire flick 30 days of Night and the Devil Rides Out instead.

 

Z is for ZOLTAN, HOUND OF DRACULA.

-What’s scarier than Count Dracula having a night out at the local blood bank? Count Dracula’s crazy-ass hound-that’s what! Scooby Doo he ain’t.





The Dwarves Must Die

27 10 2008

Early this morning as I wrote my comics section for AU Magazine I was listening the Dwarves. As well as loving catchy pop music, I adore punk rock. I like the speed, agression and snottyness of the scene like a chubby bloke loves Dominos and the Dwarves are easily one of my favourite punk bands.

Last year they finally made their debut in Belfast and typically enough they managed to put more noses out of joint without even knowing it. It was a hell of a gig by a hell of a band and it’s strange how you can become accustomed to looking at a naked bloke in a gimp mask after 15minutes (even when he’s rubbing his mickey on the Spring and Airbrake pillar). Below is my interview with Blag Dahlia that ran in the Belfast Telegraph. Broadsheets can be punk rock too, you know.

The Dwarves

Meet Blag Dahlia, lead singer for the most controversial band in the world-the Dwarves. In his 40-something years of planet Earth he’s been arrested, beaten up, made a music video with the Suicide Girls for FEFU, been hit with countless bottles, accused of perverting the nation’s youth and being in league with the Devil. You see Blag is a rock star in the traditional sense and right now, in a world of manufactured rebellion and Sylvia Young schooled prima donnas; we need someone like him more than ever.

            “Satan is a personal friend of mine and you never know where we’ll strike next,” cackles the California-based singer.

            Now before some of our more sensitive readers’ speed-dial the Stephen Nolan show in a state of panic, Blag is more of a master of the wind-up than the dark arts and is only joking with us. We hope…

            “For those of you who haven’t yet heard of the Dwarves-we’re just a bunch of freaks really,” offers the singer “I think we are a pop band that makes you sick.  That means we have catchy songs and big production, but we talk about doing drugs and underage women. I think there’s something there for everyone.”

            The Dwarves formed in Chicago, Illinois in the late eighties. They quickly became notorious for their smash mouth brand of speed punk and released their first album, fittingly entitled Horror Stories, in 1986. Since then, Blag’s been offending people over five continents and he shows no sign of stopping.

            “A lot of people think we behave like this just to sell records-but if you look at my bank balance you’ll realise that just isn’t true. For us, making t-shirts with slogans like ‘teach your children to worship Satan,’ is just a bit of fun. Images like that are just the kinds of things that occur to us and we’re not afraid to put it out like most bands are. Oh yeah-and like everyone else-we love looking at naked girls.”

            The Dwarves have released 12 albums over the space of two decades. They’ve split up too many times to mention, hired and fired countless band members and become infamous for their penchant for performing five minute-long sets. Their guitarist, Hewhocannotbenamed, performs naked-save for his leather wrestling mask to spare his blushes and if Dwarves mythology is to be believed the six-stringer keeps his true identity secret as he’s on the run from the police. Dwarves stories are always popular in the punk rock scene and everyone has a favourite, but this writer’s personal pick has to be when the band faked the death of their guitarist in 1993. At the time the band were signed to Nirvana’s former label Sub Pop and had sent out a press release to say that Hewhocannotbenamed had been stabbed in a nightclub in Philadelphia. They even included a fake but touching tribute to the guitarist in the inlay card to their album Sugarfix. Of course, when the story was exposed as a hoax, Sub Pop were left red faced and the Dwarves were arrested by the police. Shortly after their stunt, they were dropped by their label.

            “Let’s get one thing straight-Sub Pop never dropped us,” states Blag. “Our deal with the label was up at that point. They got paranoid that all the rock magazines wouldn’t like them if they were associated with us and the truth is they couldn’t make a decent record anymore. The whole grunge thing was dead at that point and they were panicking that the cash cow was milked dry. Either way, they eventually got the whole paying royalties thing figured out and now we pretend to be friends.”

            With a band like the Dwarves you never really know who’s telling the truth and who’s pulling your leg. They seem to actively encourage the gossip mongers and Blag, as the chief song-writer and “evil genius” behind the whole band, appears to revel in his cult status.

            “I always hear lots of funny stories about myself and this band,” he smirks. “The most regular rumour is that I always get blamed for the unattractive girls that the other guys in the band have slept with on tour. They get away clean while I get mocked for my apparent lack of taste. For the record though-there is a height and weight requirement to get backstage with me, but there’s no age limit.”

            Not everyone finds the Dwarves entertaining however. Take Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme for example. The pair had been friends for years, Blag had guested on QOTSA’s third album Songs for the Deaf in 2002 and they also shared a mutual band-mate in Nick Oliveri. Oliveri regularly moon-lights as a member of the Dwarves and plays bass under the moniker of Rex Everything, so when Josh kicked Nick out of the Queens for taking rock ‘n’ roll behaviour to new heights of insanity, well, Blag of course had something to say on the matter.

            But he waited until the release of the latest and greatest Dwarves record The Dwarves Must Die in 2004 before he made his feelings clear. It was a song called Massacre that Josh was particularly peeved about-especially the line “This one goes out to Queens of the Trust Fund. You slept on my floor and now I’m sleeping through your mother-f*cking album.” So when Josh bumped into his former friend a few months later at the Dragonfly in LA, things got really ugly, really quick. Homme poured a beer over Blag’s head and the pair traded blows before the QOTSA frontman allegedly bottled him. Blag had to be taken to St Mary’s hospital in Hollywood to receive stitches and Josh was later charged with two counts of misdemeanour battery, sentenced to three years probation and was ordered to enrol in anger management therapy. He was also told to stay at least 100 yards away from the Dwarves frontman and is banned from carrying deadly weapons.

            “Having a sense of humour is something that commercial rock bands just don’t seem to have,” says Blag. “I think bands like that [Queens of the Stone Age] like to define reality instead of other artists. I guess the truth hurts.”

            At the moment the Dwarves are planning on making an inaugural visit to Belfast. It might have taken 20 years in the making, but now, once and for all, we finally get to see what all the fuss is about.

            “I’m really looking forward to coming to Belfast. The girls are gorgeous and they say the crowds are good fun. For me touring has become the same old thing-but since that same old thing is sex, drugs and the adoration of thousands, we’re down for it until death.”

            While Blag appears to be quite chipper about the endless cycle of touring, he has run into his fair share of problems with authority along the way. Just recently the band were collared by Scandinavian customs officials and the band’s albums-featuring naked girls and a vertically-challenged gentleman cavorting on the cover-were confiscated and the band were given a full-body cavity search. But Dahlia takes it all in his stride and views it all as an occupational hazard if you will.

            “When you tell everyone that you’re the Antichrist eventually they believe you,” he remarks.

            But don’t let the clichéd sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll image fool you. Whether he’s writing pure pop punk songs like Saturday Night or Salt Lake City that the Ramones in their prime would have given their leather jackets for, or he’s performing blue-grass music under the pseudonym Earl Lee Grace, Blag is a genuine talent. He’s even started writing novels (including 1998’s Armed to the Teeth with Lipstick and 2006’s Nina) which make Katie Price seem like Fisher Price.

            “I like to write books and I’ve plans to do more,” says the singer. “My latest novel Nina is the story of a young girl who is remorseless in her lusts. It’s a fun read, a guilty pleasure and written in a pretty minimal style. You could almost call it literature!”

            Love him or loathe him, Blag Dahlia is a true punk rock one-off. His band are still kicking ass and taking names and they’re not afraid to walk it like they talk it. Respect.

            “The Dwarves are the only band that started out great and got better,” concludes Blag. “I keep waiting for younger bands to come out and blow us away but it just never happens. Punk used to be a way of doing things-now it’s a genre of music. In other words, it’s not as fun but we get paid a lot more now. We’re rock legends after all.”

 

The Dwarves play the Spring and Airbrake in Belfast tomorrow night with support from Numskull and the Scream. Tickets are £10 and available from all Ticketmaster outlets and www.wegottickets.com. More details are available on www.myspace.com/roadsideattractionsbelfast and www.thedwarves.com

 

Edwin McFee





Out of Control

27 10 2008

This morning I received the new Girls Aloud album in the post. It’s called ‘Out of Control’ and I love it already. There are too many highlights to mention but when it’s out next week everyone should pick it up. When I review it, I’ll post up here. Less Nadine and more Cheryl it seems on this one.

   

In other news, tune into BBC Radio Ulster at half 6 tonight to hear my dulcet Newry Town tones wax lyrical about last night’s teeny Snow Patrol gig and I’ll also offer thoughts on the new record.





This Is New Radio

24 10 2008

This time last year I wrote a feature on one of my favourite bands of all time Bikini Kill for AU Magazine. It was for a regular spread called History Lessons and although it can be somewhat dry, it can also be the place where younger readers can maybe discover something different. For any folks out there who don’t know me too well, I’m a huge fan of punk rock and also a staunch feminist, so whenever I heard Bikini Kill for the first time they blew my fucking mind. In fact, I love them so much I even nicked their cover for ‘The Singles’ album for the first issue of my fanzine Generation Why??? six years ago.

Anway, here’s the feature and if you like what you read, download ‘This Is New Radio’ pronto!

History Lessons:

Bikini Kill

 

Words_Edwin McFee

 

Hailed by taste-makers such as Beth Ditto and Sleater Kinney as the most important band of the 90s, Olympia-based four-piece Bikini Kill not only invented Riot Grrrrl, they were also one of the most vital punk rock bands in the world. Over the course of eight years, they broke down barriers with their trail-blazing feminist manifesto, inspiring generations of rebel girls across the globe and this is their story. Enjoy.

 

 

“If your best friend gets it-that’s all that matters,” Kathleen Hanna, Bikini Kill.

 

 

Kathleen Hanna, Tobi Vail and Kathi Wilcox started out life as punk rock-loving fanzine writers living in a little town called Olympia in Washington. Their ‘zine was called Bikini Kill and it was a highly charged, politicised work focusing heavily on feminism. In late 1990, they decided to start a band, enlisting the Go Team’s guitarist Billy Karren and pretty soon they started to make a name for themselves around town.

 

Early Bikini Kill shows were notorious for their confrontational nature, with the shrieking Hanna often refusing to acknowledge the males in the crowd. At the time they had a penchant for performing topless and their music was a potent mix of buzzsaw guitar playing and taboo-breaking lyrics all wrapped up in perfect two-minute tunes. Out of all the Bikini Kill members, it seemed that Hanna revelled in her powerful, provocative new role the most and loved inspiring generations of girls with her radical politics. After quickly signing to the cooler than thou Kill Rock Stars record label, Bikini Kill began making music in earnest.

 

In 1991 the term Riot Grrrl was coined as a way to describe this new influx of feminist punk bands such as Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy and of course Bikini Kill. Riot Grrrl’s had their own music, their own style and their own fanzine’s such as Girl Germs and Jigsaw. Bikini Kill were front and centre in the movement and throughout the band’s history never once turned their back on the scene they gave birth too. Although the band’s early musical skills were a little rough around the edges, that all changed with the release of their third record, 1994’s ‘Pussy Whipped.’ The album attracted favourable reviews across the board and was a blistering 12 track statement of intent that saw the band become courted by the mainstream.

 

Never ones to tow the line, Bikini Kill responded to all the press attention by notoriously hosting female-only gigs. It was a knee-jerk reaction to the apparent meat-headed “boys club” of the punk and hardcore scene and it won as many admirers as it did detractors. Around this time Riot Grrrl was starting to lose its way however, as newer converts were focusing more on the Hello Kitty paraphernalia and less on the true essence of the scene, which was-revolution, girl style. Confused about what to do with their situation, Hanna and Co. laid low for a while and planned their next move.

 

Keen to progress as a band and leave the days of those violent, chaotic early gigs behind, Bikini Kill unleashed ‘Reject All American’ in 1996. It stunned both fans and critics alike with its more restrained approach. But while the music seemed slightly softer, Hanna’s lyrics were as caustic as ever. One of the most vital tracks on the album is the harrowing ‘RIP,’ which was about the death of a friend. However, once you listen closely to the track it could almost be about the rising tensions in the band and an unknowing hint of what was to come- “I wouldn’t be so fucking mad, so fucking pissed off, if it wasn’t so fucking wrong,” screams Hanna in a cathartic but foul-mouthed frenzy of four lettered words.

 

And so in 1998, Bikini Kill bit the dust. Looking on the bright side of what was a dark day-the four band members remained firm friends after the split and left behind a killer discography to boot. In recent times they’ve also become icons for the feminist and gay community and their influence can still be seen today in everyone from Kate Nash to the Gossip. Although it’s safe to say at this stage that they’ll never reform-Hanna is still making great music with Le Tigre, Tobi is performing as Spider and the Webs, Kathi plays bass for the Casual Dots and Billy is in Boo-Boo and the Corrections, so it ain’t all bad. But no matter how hard they try, there will only ever be one Bikini Kill, who in the words of their best song ‘Rebel Girl,’ really were the queens of the neighbourhood.

 

Essential Listening

 

The Singles (Kill Rock Stars, 1998)

Released shortly before their break-up, this compilation features a collection of singles which were only ever released on vinyl between the period of 95-96. For anyone unfamiliar with Bikini Kill it serves as a great starter kit and the particularly venomous ‘This Is New Radio’ with the typically outrageous lyric “Let’s wipe our cum on my parent’s bed” is possibly one of the best punk songs you’ll ever hear and is vintage Hanna.

 

 

 

Pussy Whipped (Kill Rock Stars, 1994)

After a few false starts, ‘Pussy Whipped’ was the album that finally told the world that Bikini Kill had arrived. Clocking in at just over 22minutes, ‘Pussy Whipped’ was recorded in a few days in 1992. Containing some of their best material (‘Rebel Girl,’ ‘Sugar,’ ‘Alien She’) it spawned countless clones but none that ever came close to matching them.

 

 

Reject All American (Kill Rock Stars, 1996)

‘Reject All American’ was the band’s swan-song and hinted at a new direction for the four-piece. Sadly it wasn’t to be, but we can’t complain too much as they left us with some of their most inspiring work as a parting gift. Check out all one minute 11 seconds of the life affirming ‘Statement of Vindication’ and you’ll see what we mean.

 

 

Hidden Tracks: For Collectors

 

Throughout Bikini Kill’s short but incendiary history they released countless 7inch singles and contributed to quite a few compilation albums too. Thankfully most of these rare 7inch singles were collected on The Singles album (featuring a Joan Jett produced version of ‘Rebel Girl’). Perhaps the most sought after piece of Bikini Kill memorabilia however, has to be a cassette copy of their self-released debut album ‘Revolution Girl Style Now,’ which they put out in 1991. It’s also worth checking out their split EP with kindred spirits Huggy Bear which was called ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah’ and came out in 1993 on Kill Rock Stars. 

 

 

 

STATEMENT OF VINDICATION-SELECTED BIKINI KILL TRIVIA

 

Chubby punk rockers NOFX recorded a song called ‘Kill Rock Stars’ on their album ‘So Long and Thanks for all the Shoes’ criticising the radical feminist philosophies of Bikini Kill and Kathleen Hanna’s stardom. The scamps.

 

Courtney Love once chinned Kathleen Hanna backstage one afternoon at Lollapalooza in 1995. The next day Love was sporting a plaster cast and told the crowd that Kathleen deserved it. A few months later the Hole frontwoman was ordered by authorities to undergo anger management therapy.

 

Bikini Kill’s drummer Tobi Vail famously dated 90s $pokesman for a generation Kurt Cobain for a brief period. Cobain allegedly wrote several songs about the tub thumper including ‘Drain You,’ ‘Lounge Act,’ and ‘Aneurysm’ and during the couple’s relationship, Tobi had taken to wearing Teen Spirit deodorant. On one particularly memorable night, Cobain and Tobi’s band-mate Kathleen Hanna were indulging in some vandalism when the Bikini Kill singer, inspired by the scent, spray-painted the legend “Kurt Smells Like Teen Spirit,” on a nearby wall, thus giving birth to Nirvana’s most popular song. Thanks Kathleen…

 

Bespectacled, paint-covered overalls wearing Janey Briggs from Not Another Teen Movie’s favourite band is Bikini Kill and during one delightfully daft scene she is painting a portrait while blasting out their single ‘Rebel Girl.’ The montage is a mickey take from teen queen Julia Stiles’ turn as the middle-class, conservative Riot Grrrl in 10 Things I Hate About You, who also credited her favourite band as Bikini Kill.

 

Determined to pay her own way through college, Kathleen Hanna worked as a burlesque dancer.

 

Angered at their exclusion from the Riot Grrrl scene, Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain created a fake band called Lemonade Nation. They even went as far as recording a demo and distributed it amongst the Olympia scenesters. At least-that’s according to Courtney’s Poppy Z. Brite penned biography, that is.

 

 

Hanna once appeared in the video for Sonic Youth’s ‘Bull in the Heather.’ The clip featured in an episode of Beavis and Butthead with the pair stating that she looked like “a five year old girl who can’t dance.”

 

 

THIS IS NEW RADIO-A BIKINI KILL MIX TAPE

 

1)      I Like Fucking (7 inch single, 1995)

2)      Suck My Left One (There’s a Dyke in the Pit compilation, 1992)

3)      Alien She (Pussy Whipped, 1994)

4)      Rebel Girl (New Radio EP, 1993)

5)      Anti Pleasure Dissertation (The Singles, 1998)

6)      Bloody Ice Cream (Reject All American, 1996)

7)      Sugar (Pussy Whipped, 1994)

8)      Blood One (Pussy Whipped, 1994)

9)      Statement of Vindication (Reject All American, 1996)

10)  Strawberry Julius (The Singles, 1998)

11)   Star Fish (Pussy Whpped, 1994)

12)  I Hate Danger (7 inch single, 1995)

13)  Daddy’s Lil Girl (Give Me Back, 1991)

14)  Magnet (Pussy Whipped, 1994)

15)  Demirep (New Radio EP, 1993)

16)   Rah! Rah! Replica (The Singles, 1998)

17)  RIP (Reject All American, 1996)

18)  Hamster Baby (Pussy Whipped, 1994)

19)  This Is New Radio (New Radio EP, 1993)