Monday, August 26, 2013

Anal Spikemobile

Well, I promised/threatened/warned (take your pick) you.  As the grand finale to my little cassettes project wherein I rooted through a box of cassettes while salvaging a few tracks before giving them the old heave-ho, here are the complete recordings of Anal Spikemobile.  I'm calling it the In Through The Out Hole (Full Body Cavity Search Edition)In Through The Out Hole was the only proper album the band made, and I've attached a couple of other random tracks by the band to fill it out.  In Through The Out Hole was released (supposedly released--I never got a copy) as a cassette on Black Egypt Records in 1994.  Our pals in The Plague Dogs ran this little indie label, and In Through The Out Hole arrived just in time to kill it apparently.  Dave and I recorded this album in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina USA while hanging out with our pal Jen in March of 1994.  We had fun.  When we got back from South Carolina, Dave played a bit more around with it, and it was done.  For legal reasons, I better not add anything else.  In any case, it's better to leave the Spikemobile shrouded in mystery.  Enjoy!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Yip!*: Cathal Coughlan

The Adventures of Flannery from Jessica Fuller on Vimeo.

I was delighted to stumble across a film about the singer-songwriter Cathal Coughlan the other day. What's even more amazing than the fact that there is a film about Coughlan is the fact that it's free to watch online (I hope it's not a bootleg upload, but since it's been up for three years, presumably the filmmakers would have noticed by now; the film appears to have been funded by the Irish taxpayer, so thank you Irish taxpayers!).  It provides a nice overview of Coughlan's music career up to 2006 or whenever it was filmed, but mainly focuses on a musical project he was putting on then in his hometown of Cork, Ireland.

I first discovered Coughlan's work through his band The Fatima Mansions, particularly the great Viva Dead Ponies album.  For years, I thought the band had only released two albums, Ponies and Lost In The Former West, but that's apparently only because those were their main American releases.  In the U.K., they had a couple more, which I managed to track down years later.  I also stumbled across an ep I never knew existed last year while browsing in a Los Angeles thrift store.  I've also enjoyed his work in his earlier band Microdisney and his current solo work (though it appears that he has more solo albums than have been released in the USA--I hope an American label will release them someday before I break down and pay import prices; fortunately, his latest project, the band North Sea Scrolls, is available here).

If I ever play live again, I'd like to cover "Pack Of Lies" by the Mansions.  I've worked out a nice arrangement for it.  It's a great, venomous song and encapsulates modern life well with all the leaders lying but still expecting to be treated with respect.  Coughlan's work is often very rooted in life in the U.K. (he emigrated to London decades ago), so it can be a bit challenging for American listeners (which probably explains why many of his records have gone unreleased here) but the songs are so great that they're still enjoyable even if one doesn't understand entirely all the allusions and references in the lyrics.

If Coughlin or any of his fans want to trade a record I don't have for a copy of The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus or something, then please get in touch (contact info's in the upper right or just comment here and leave your contact info--none of that Facebook or Twitter address garbage though; email, folks!--just disguise it like I do if you have to avoid the spammers).   

 *Yips are good things.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Great? Lost? Yeast? Song?

While going through the old cassettes, I found a few Yeast? ones.  Yeast? was one of my old bands and released a couple of 7" singles in the 1990s (one of which apparently made it to Northern Ireland, where it's now for sale on eBay).  The band started as just a solo project called Yeast (the question mark was added after we discovered there was already a band called Yeast on C/Z Records; we had already been using the name and no one else in our area seemed to have ever heard of the other band anyway--apparently it was a popular name for a band).  Dave from The Angry Housewives helped me record a few songs on his four-track, and the project later evolved into a band when Dave and our Lenin Spoonful buddy Damon joined in on the music.  We also picked up another guitar player named Chris since I was still getting the hang of the whole play guitar and sing thing and Chris could cover me if I flubbed anything.  Mainly, the band performed songs I wrote, but the others occasionally brought in a song, and we even jammed up something together once in a while.  We played around Ohio and Pennsylvania USA in the early 1990s for a few years, but, by the end, the four members of the band were all living in different cities (Chris had left before the first 7" and we forged ahead as a power-trio for awhile, then added our pal Drew from Pogeybait for the tail end of the band) and the logistics just got too hard to manage, so we called it a day by playing a last show in Akron in 1995.  A few years later, I made a cd-r retrospective of the band and fit our best stuff on it.  I left out "Happy Tears" though, much to Damon's dismay, who always liked the song.  We only recorded it once, for a demo tape we used to get gigs at local bars.  It was one of the earliest songs we played as a band, but as we got better songs, some of the early ones dropped out of the repertoire.  "Happy Tears" was one of them.  It was written about a comment that Michael Jackson made about how he cried "happy tears" (Jackson seems to have used the phrase in the song "Heal The World" as well).  This version of the song features the original quartet of Yeast?  It might not have made the cd, but, hey, it's on the Internet now.  That's not bad considering that the rest of the cassette's tracks are going to the landfill.  Don't cry though.  Everything ultimately does.  At least it was fun though, so if you must cry, please cry happy tears.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Assault Rifles And Cheap Beer

The third and final track by The Flaming Toasters is "Assault Rifles And Cheap Beer".  Daiv played guitar on it.  He was a lot better guitarist than I was at the time and probably still is.  I played bass, and Jeff kept the beat.  I'm pretty sure Daiv wrote the music, but this might have been something we worked up while jamming.  The lyrics likely came from me.  It's possible that we passed around a notebook Lenin Spoonful style, but the use of words in the verses such as "George Bush", "New World Order", "sniff", "tush", "defenestration", and "Boone's Farm" makes me think I probably wrote them.  The song's theme seems to be men who like bush in a number of senses such as women, hunting, and beer (Busch) and voted for Bush for president since his name encapsulated all of their favorite things.  It's a little scary that the song is as reflective of America in 2013 as it was in 1991.  Those same folks will probably be voting for Jeb Bush in 2016 for similar reasons.  This is a fun song.  Only The Flaming Toasters ever did it though, unless Daiv or Jeff used it in another band down the road that I didn't know about.  With only a couple exceptions, I tended to stick to songs I completely wrote.  I also probably wouldn't have done the song because of the word "bastards" in the chorus (Daiv maybe had the chorus lyrics already, but not the verses lyrics); though the word is used to denote a bad person, it literally means a child whose parents weren't married.  It's one of those stupid swear words (most are when one thinks of it); how is it the kid's fault what the parents did?  Moving on, I'm pleased that we actually end the song right so apparently we were getting better (just in time to quit as a band--nothing like going out on top).  The laughter at the end of the track is probably from some friends of ours hanging out with us at the time.  Playing in is apparently the closest we ever got to playing out.  The line that encapsulates the Toasters best is Daiv asking at the end of "Candle", "Is there any more beer?"  It was a fun little band where practice was like a party.  It's not too surprising then that we didn't do much else.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Witch Kraft

The second Flaming Toasters track is a song called "Witch Kraft".  It's inspired by the same events that inspired parts of the first couple of chapters of The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus.  I titled it "Witch Kraft" because the witch was very fond of boxed macaroni and cheese (in Canada, the Kraft version of which is just called Kraft Dinner for some strange reason).  Her status as a witch was also quite cheesy.  If she was a Wiccan, then she wasn't too interested in nature.  Basically, she sat around the house a group of us college students shared and did nothing but watch cable television all day in a bathrobe that got dirtier each day.  If she was into more occult stuff, then I'm not quite sure what spells she was casting, but they weren't quite working for she seemed quite bored and depressed most of the time.  After not paying the rent for a couple of months and eating our food (especially mac and cheese), she dropped out of college to move to Germany to marry some guy in the American army.  Some of the lyrics are things verbatim that she said.  Not quite a muse, she was still entertaining enough of a character to inspire some art.  However, this song never really made it past The Flaming Toasters, who were the only ones to ever play and record it.  I liked it well enough, but I soon wrote better ones, so it got left unplayed.  On this track, I don't know who's doing the cheesy witch voices (these parts aren't quotes from the real witch, just some silliness).  It might be me or Daiv.  I don't think it's Jeff, but who knows?  Not me.  And, as usual, it has the Toasters quality of not knowing exactly when to end 

I've enjoyed going through these old cassettes.  I encourage others to dig out the recordings of their old bands and digitize some of the better moments for us to enjoy in this internet age.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Flaming Toasters

While going through a box of old cassettes, I came across one by The Flaming Toasters.  The Toasters is an old band of mine.  I was in The Escaped Fetal Pigs and a couple of other bands at the time, and the other members of the Toasters, Daiv and Jeff, played in a band called Pogeybait.  We would get together to form the Toasters whenever our other bands weren't busy, which wasn't often.  Ultimately, we never even played out, if I remember correctly, but we had fun playing at practice, though since we never played out I don't know what exactly we were practicing for, but presumably we intended to eventually play out.

The cassette I found has three songs on it recorded on a cold winter night in Bowling Green, Ohio USA in December 1991.  The first of the songs is "Candle", a song the Pigs also did.  I wrote it, and it was one of the first songs I wrote on guitar.  I was just getting the hang of singing and playing guitar at the time, so the Toasters were a nice way of developing that tandem skill.  Daiv typically played bass, but we would switch instruments occasionally.  Jeff played drums.  We probably did "Candle" since Pogeybait liked the song so much that they wrote new lyrics to it and called it "The Aliens Are Here" so they were familiar with it.  On the other hand, maybe Pogeybait didn't borrow the melody until after I taught it to Daiv and Jeff.  It's been so long that I don't remember the precise timeline, just that at some point the Pogeybaiters borrowed the song and I was equal parts pleased and irritated.

I wrote "Candle" in 1991 or so after reading a newspaper article about an elderly man who killed his wife because she was suffering from Alzheimer's Disease and he didn't want her to suffer.  The Pigs played it, and I usually just sang, leaving the guitar parts to Mark Justice.  I next took it to Yeast? where I sang and played guitar on it.  The GoGoBots never did it, probably because we did primarily newer songs, though a few later Yeast? songs which didn't get much attention then got played by us.  When I did a "greatest hits" bit solo a few years later, I started playing it again, and, as a result, Team Fright also played it.  It's a catchy song, though a little too emo for my taste these days.  I'm still fond of it though.  The Toasters version goes on a bit too long, probably because we hadn't worked out a good ending yet.

The Flaming Toasters is a pretty good name for a rock band, so it's not surprising that other bands have also used it such as these guys.  Not everyone agrees that it's a good name though:  these folks debate the issue. You can decide for yourself while listening to "Candle".

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Patching The Gap: From Zines To Ezines

While doing some routine maintenance on the website, I discovered that the .pdf Chip Rowe made a decade or so ago of my dissertation, From Zines To Ezines:  Electronic Publishing And The Literary Underground, had disappeared from Zinebook.Com.  Chip will no doubt rectify matters when he does his routine maintenance, but, in the meantime, I thought I'd patch the gap by posting the .pdf (623 KB) here.  It is up at Scribd, thanks to Jose Angel Abril (who I'm not sure I know, but might have been one of the many zine scholars who's contacted me over the years), but the Scribders seem to want people to log in to read it (I've embedded it below as another way of avoiding the login), so this skips that hassle.  The dissertation was done to help people like this guy, that guy, this other guy, and that other guy, all citations that I haven't encountered before.  I'm glad the thing is still helpful.  So here it is again.