Streaming: Acid King Interview with Lori S. for Busse Woods 20th Anniversary

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on September 19th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

acid king

Beginning tomorrow night at Northwest Hesh Fest in Portland, Oregon, heavy rock heroes Acid King will head out on a full-US tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of their now-classic 1999 full-length, Busse Woods (discussed here). Originally issued through Frank Kozik‘s Man’s Ruin Records imprint and subsequently by Small Stone in 2004 and on vinyl by Kreation Records in 2007, Busse Woods has been newly re-released by RidingEasy Records in honor of its 20 years. And rightly so, frankly. As I pointlessly fight the urge to wax poetic about its haze-drenched riffs and ultra-languid but ultra-heavy groove, I think it’s nonetheless fair to call Busse Woods one of the most pivotal heavy rock albums of all time. And yes, I mean all time. Your ’60s groundbreakers, your ’70s biker rockers, your ’80s doomers, your ’90s stoners, whatever the fuck happened in the aughts and your ’10s revivalists. Put Acid King up next to any of them and they’ll more than hold their own. You want to put Busse Woods out there again for a new generation to enjoy? That’s only making the world a better place.

They’ll play the record in its staggeringly righteous entirety on the tour as they did earlier this year in Europe, and when I spoke to Lori about it a couple weeks ago, she was in the process of getting ready to go. The lone remaining founder of the band, she’s joined by longtime/sometimes bassist Rafa Martinez (also drummer for Black Cobra) and drummer Bil Bowman, though when Busse Woods came out it was Brian Hill (gone before he even got his picture in the CD liner) on bass and Joey Osbourne on drums, the latter of whom would last until 2017. In the interview, she speaks about players coming and going, recording back when with Billy Anderson and releasing through Man’s Ruin, as well as the general state of what heavy rock was at the time, as well as being surprised initially by Busse Woods‘ staying power in the new digital age of stat-ready listenership. That is, it wasn’t until she saw the number of times “Silent Circle” had been streamed that she knew how big the song actually was for the band.

And I did bring it up in the conversation — because how could I not? — but 10 years ago, I did an interview with Lori as well about the 10th anniversary of Busse Woods in which she talked about the recording process, Billy Anderson‘s relationship drama, and much more besides. She goes track-by-track through the record in that piece. It’s pretty cool, even a decade after the fact (and another decade after that fact too, I guess).

The advantage of this interview? You finally get to hear the proper pronunciation of “Busse.” Even if you think you know it, you know you want confirmation.

So I won’t keep you from it.

Please enjoy:

Interview with Lori S. of Acid King

 

ACID KING ‘BUSSE WOODS’ 20TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR 2019:
09/20 Portland, OR @ Star Theater – Hesh Fest *
09/21 Seattle, WA @ Highline *
09/23 Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater *
09/24 Omaha, NE @ Slowdown *
09/25 Chicago, IL @ Reggies *
09/26 Indianapolis, IN @ Black Circle *
09/27 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop *
09/28 Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place *
09/29 Boston, MA @ Sonia *
09/30 New York, NY @ Knitting Factory *
10/01 Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s *
10/02 Richmond, VA @ Richmond Music Hall *
10/03 Raleigh, NC @ Kings *
10/04 Asheville, NC @ Mothlight *
10/05 Atlanta, GA @ The 529 *
10/06 New Orleans, LA @ One Eye Jack’s *
10/07 Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey *
10/09 Albuquerque, NM @ Sister *
10/10 Mesa, AZ @ Club Red *
10/11 Los Angeles, CA @ Satellite *
10/12 San Francisco, CA @ Chapel *
* w/ Wizard Rifle, Warish

Acid King is:
Lori S. – Guitar & Vocals
Rafa Martinez – Bass
Bil Bowman – Drums

Acid King, Busse Woods (1999)

Acid King on Thee Facebooks

Acid King on Instagram

Acid King website

RidingEasy Records on Thee Facebooks

RidingEasy Records website

Nanotear Booking website

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Streaming: Lo-Pan Interview with Jesse Bartz

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on September 4th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

lo-pan jesse bartz (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Lo-Pan just wrapped a month on the road alongside Corrosion of Conformity, Crowbar and Quaker City Night Hawks. All told, between shows on that run (review here and review here) and an appearance back in June at Maryland Doom Fest 2019 (review here), I’ve seen the Columbus, Ohio, heavy rockers three times in the last two-plus months. That’s how Lo-Pan do when they have a new album out. It’s how they’ve done for at least the last decade and probably longer if you actually put the math to it. They go.

The occasion this summer is Subtle (review here), their awaited fourth LP, released in May through Aqualamb. It follows a 2017 EP, In Tensions (review here), and several years of lineup change tumult in terms of the guitarist position now occupied by Chris Thompson, who at both the beginning and the end of the most-recent tour only seemed to fit excellently alongside bassist Scott Thompson (no relation), vocalist Jeff Martin, and drummer Jesse Bartz, who’ve pushed their earlier fuzz rock in more aggressive and pointed directions over their last few offerings, with Subtle being their sharpest execution yet. No doubt Thompson on guitar had a hand in that as well.

I’ve interviewed Bartz on a number of occasions over the last 10-plus years, but I don’t think ever in-person before. Their tour van was lined up next to the bus and equipment truck presumably shared by Crowbar and C.O.C. and Quaker City Night Hawks‘ own van around back of Starland Ballroom, and I sat in the van with the door open while he stood, seeming relieved to do so after a seven-hour ride from the prior night’s stop. It was the penultimate night of the tour — they’d wrap in Rhode Island the next night — and I wanted to get his take not just on how it all went down, but touring in general, the grind of it, the personalities at work in Lo-Pan and how one balances life on the road with life off it. I’m fortunate that, tired though he was, Bartz was kind enough to indulge me.

After playing The Blackout Cookout X in Youngstown, OH, this weekend, Lo-Pan will head to Europe at the end of this month to join Steak and Elephant Tree for a tour presented by this site and Sound of Liberation. You’ll find the dates included under the player below, on which you can hear the chat from out back of Starland.

Please enjoy:

Interview with Jesse Bartz of Lo-Pan

 

Lo-Pan, Steak & Elephant Tree tour dates:
30.09.19 London | The Garage (UK)** w/ Fireball Ministry
01.10.19 Bristol | The Old England (UK)** w/ Sigiriya
02.10.19 Swansea | The Bunkhouse (UK)**
04.10.19 Paris | Gibus (FR)
05.10.19 Pratteln | Up In Smoke Festival (CH)
06.10.19 Salzburg | Rockhouse (AT)
08.10.19 Linz | Stadtwerkstatt (AT)
09.10.19 Freiburg | Slow Club (DE)
10.10.19 Leipzig | Werk2 (DE)
11.10.19 Berlin | Setalight Festival (DE)
12.10.19 Munich | Keep it Low Festival (DE)
14.10.19 Wiesbaden | Schlachthof (DE)
15.10.19 Cologne | Helios 37 (DE)
16.10.19 Hamburg | Hafenklang (DE)
17.10.19 Bremen | Zollkantine (DE)
18.10.19 Leuwaarden | Into the Void Festival (NL)**
19.10.19 TBA | TBA
** Lo-Pan only

Lo-Pan on Thee Facebooks

Lo-Pan on Bandcamp

Aqualamb Records on Bandcamp

Aqualamb on Thee Facebooks

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Streaming: Interview with Julien Pras & Jimmy Kinast of Mars Red Sky

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on August 26th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

mars red sky

On Sept. 27, the fourth full-length from Mars Red Sky, titled The Task Eternal, will be released through Listenable Records. The label has been their home since their second long-player, 2014’s Stranded in Arcadia (review here), which followed their 2011 self-titled debut (review here) and set the band on a road of progression that The Task Eternal seems only to continue. In answering back the expansive forward steps of 2016’s Apex III (Praise for the Burning Soul) (review here), the new album retains the Bordeaux-based trio’s penchant for songwriting that’s been so central to their purposes since the start, while drifting even further into otherworldly and psychedelic expanses. It is a colorful swirl throughout The Task Eternal, and I won’t tell you how to listen to it, but as much fun as it might be to get lost in the experience, there’s a good chance you’ll retain more than you think afterward, whether that’s from the fading lines of opener “The Proving Grounds” or the hooks of tracks like the marching “Hollow King” or “Collector.”

The latter also serves as the title-track of a newly issued EP intended as a lead-in for the LP to come. Collector bundles two versions of itself with two versions of “Soldier On,” also the penultimate cut on The Task Eternal, including a demo with mars red sky the task eternalguitarist/vocalist Julien Pras as a multi-instrumentalist, and a guest appearance from Igor Sidorenko of Stoned Jesus, the album versions, etc. It’s a welcome piece perhaps aimed at the people who might fit the description of its title, but most importantly, it introduces the listener to the atmosphere that The Task Eternal broadens in songs like “Recast” and “Reacts,” “Crazy Hearth” and even the instrumental closer “A Far Cry,” which, when it’s done, just might be where you feel like you are in relation to from where you started. All told, the album is 49 minutes across eight songs that is unmistakably the work of Mars Red Sky — Pras, bassist/vocalist Jimmy Kinast, drummer Matieu “Matgaz” Gazeau — and yet works to further the reach of that very definition. Like what’s come before it, it is the output of a constantly-refining creative unfolding.

At some point before the release date, I’ll put up a review, which I guess will probably just say that in wordier fashion, but among the topics I wanted to discuss with Pras and Kinast in this interview was the notion of The Task Eternal being the band’s creativity itself: that constant hunt for an ideal vision that’s a moving target from release to release as the band develops. In addition to that, the fact of Mars Red Sky‘s heavy touring and upcoming Fall European run (including shows with Kadavar) had me wondering if they might make it back to the US anytime soon — you might recall they were here in 2016 to play Psycho Las Vegas and made a stop at The Obelisk All-Dayer in Brooklyn beforehand (video here). They let it drop that they’ve got some stuff in the works, and indeed talked about the process of working with a different recording engineer each time out in an effort to capture different sounds, and how the change itself is a part of chasing that ideal. We also spent a good amount of time talking about the castle where they jammed, finished writing and started recording The Task Eternal, which, really, had to be done, when you think about it.

Interview follows here on the player below.

Enjoy:

Interview with Julien Pras & Jimmy Kinast

 

Mars Red Sky on Thee Facebooks

Mars Red Sky website

Listenable Records website

Listenable Records on Thee Facebooks

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Streaming: Saint Vitus Interview with Dave Chandler

Posted in audiObelisk, Features on August 16th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

saint vitus

It was a decade ago now that Saint Vitus began their reunion. At that point, it had been 14 years since the release of their final album, Die Healing (discussed here), in 1995. The not-quite-fully-original-but-definitely-the-most-influential lineup was guitarist Dave Chandler, vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich, bassist Mark Adams and drummer Armando Acosta, the last of whom would soon be replaced by Henry Vasquez (Blood of the Sun), who had drummed for Chandler‘s short-lived Debris Inc. outfit earlier in the aughts, and would ultimately pass away in 2010Vitus — who are arguably the most influential American doom band, and certainly the most influential the West Coast ever produced — were knee-deep in triumphant reunion tours by then, between Europe and the US, and they’d continue to roll out a packed schedule after signing to Season of Mist and releasing the long-awaited Lillie: F-65 (review here) in 2012.

From there, things proceeded in a fashion that can only be considered pure Vitus. A couple years of steady touring followed supporting Lillie: F-65 and celebrating their landmark catalog, until Weinrich got arrested in Norway in late-2014 for amphetamines, and the band seemed to come apart. Enter original vocalist Scott Reagers, last heard from with what was then a return performance on Die Healing, to take up the frontman role. More touring commenced and the band went on to issuesaint vitus saint vitus Live Vol. 2 (review here) in 2016. Already the proposition of a new studio album had been raised, but work was inevitably stunted by the departure of bassist Mark Adams — a quiet presence on stage, but a founding member and someone essential to the sound all along — owing to complications from Parkinson’s disease. A replacement was found in Pat Bruders of Down and Outlaw Order, and with a somehow-brand-new-but-still-half-original lineup, Saint Vitus once again took to the road and took on the task of their next record.

Saint Vitus‘ 1984 debut, Saint Vitus, is a genuine landmark in doom. A Calipunk answer to Black Sabbath at their gutsiest and grimiest, it has stood the test of time for over 30 years and only grown more relevant with each passing decade. That Saint Vitus in 2019 — ChandlerReagersVasquez and Bruders — should title their new album Saint Vitus (review here) is no coincidence. How could it be? And from the quintessential doomly roll of “Remains” and “Last Breath” to the pulsating energy of “Bloodshed” and the delightfully hardcore punk closer “Useless,” it is in every way a reclamation of Saint Vitus‘ identity as a group. Call it full-circle or don’t, but it’s a record that both embraces who they’ve always been and gleefully, mischievously screws with genre-based preconceptions, Reager‘s growls and soaring voice essential to the personality of the outing even as Chandler steps in for a spoken word take on the experimentalist noise of “City Park.”

I won’t take away from what Bruders and Vasquez do together as a rhythm section, and why the hell would I, but no question that having Chandler and Reagers paired up again gives the 2019 Saint Vitus a clash-of-the-titans-style feel, and for more than just Chandler‘s seemingly endless collection of pro-wrestling t-shirts. In every way, the tracks on Saint Vitus — which again united the group with producer Tony Reed (Mos Generator, etc.) — earn the banner of the band’s name under which they arrive, and for the fact that Saint Vitus has endured in one form or another for the last 40 years, their spirit of survival continues to be a middle finger raised high in defiance of everything, including, at times, themselves.

There’s a lot of doom out there, but there’s only one Dave Chandler, and I was fortunate enough to talk to him a while back, before the album came out in May. You’ll find the audio of the interview below. Thanks for checking it out if you do.

Enjoy:

Interview with Dave Chandler

 

Saint Vitus, Saint Vitus (2019)

Saint Vitus on Thee Facebooks

Saint Vitus on Twitter

Saint Vitus Tumblr

Saint Vitus website

Season of Mist on Thee Facebooks

Season of Mist on Twitter

Season of Mist on Instagram

Season of Mist website

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GIVEAWAY: Download Viaje a 800’s Estampida de Trombones for Free

Posted in Features on August 6th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

viaje a 800 estampida de trombones reissue

This coming weekend, the kinda-reunited Andalusian outfit Viaje a 800 — who for my money are one of heavy rock’s all-time most underrated bands, period — will take the stage at SonicBlast Moledo in Portugal. With members having moved on to outfits like Atavismo and Híbrido over the years, the reemergence of Viaje a 800 is all the more a special event, and Spinda Records, which has overseen reissues of their first two albums, 2001’s Diablo Roto De… and 2007’s Estampida de Trombones, has rightly decided to celebrate.

Spinda put out Estampida de Trombones on vinyl last year and from the opening riff of “Los Ángeles Q Hay En Mi Piel,” the album’s moody sensibility and melodic/rhythmic intricacy comes through with a subtly progressive flourish. It’s heavy and definitively of Spanish folk lineage as much as it’s psychedelic and far-ranging, and yet, more than the debut, the second record had a dark streak in its guitar and hooks, something tense that carried through it as a thread uniting the songs. It’s not a vibe I’ve ever heard anyone do in quite the same way, and if you don’t know the album, you should.

Accordingly, here are 20 download codes courtesy of Spinda. Start at the top of the list, and if that one doesn’t work, just keep cutting and pasting until one does. If the last one doesn’t, well, I guess they’re all gone. You can still listen to the album via the stream below, but I think you’ll agree when you do it’s one you’ll want to have on hand, so don’t hesitate.

Go get ’em:

mq3s-erz9
98xp-3skz
yucg-clt6
y5j3-wa3k
y8gl-hbc9
tzu4-vw4t
ty5j-gweb
tt88-b4rw
jl4t-kqvr
6cp3-6ztd
nhfw-kzuh
lqd4-66mv
484q-yk98
eus7-bk6n
gwjd-c99j
3sgs-x86k
aquc-e2z9
8gwe-3dkz
hkk9-jblb
jnyz-ycvw

Redeem at: http://spindarecords.bandcamp.com/yum

Viaje a 800, Estampida de Trombones reissue (2018)

Viaje a 800 on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records on Thee Facebooks

Spinda Records on Bandcamp

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When “He Looks Just Like You” Kind of Breaks Your Heart

Posted in Features on August 2nd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the pecan on swing

I have him on the baby monitor. He’s out, which is good because it’s the middle of the night. The Pecan was out of his mind yesterday afternoon, climbing up his toy shelf from the side to get to the bluetooth speaker, climbing up the wine rack, blowing off dinner that was already the compromise position of a slice of pizza. He’s been asleep since about 7PM. He’ll be out until somewhere around 5:30AM. Then the day starts.

Three years ago last week, I was in the hospital in Boston. Not the friendly, carpeted, front-facing part of the hospital, but the behind-closed-doors, old-tile-floor-and-flourescent-lighting part where the nitty-gritty science of medicine happens. We’d been trying already to make a baby for years by that point, and this was the last resort. More doctors than I can count. The GP, the urologist, the fertility specialist, the people my wife went to who told her, “yeah, there’s no way you’re the problem here,” as if I didn’t already know between the two of us which was the one with the problem. No way that wasn’t going to be me.

As I lay on that hospital wheelie bed, I’d been diagnosed as azoospermic months earlier, which was a fancy way of saying “balls don’t work.” Many tears. Tears became kind of the running theme for us. Every pregnancy test. Every doctor visit that led nowhere. I’d put it out of my head for a while, go about my business when I could. There was no doing that while I waited to go in for surgery.

The procedure was this: they’d wheel me into the room, put me under general anesthesia, and as I understood and still understand it, cut my testicles open to see if they could find any hint of viable sperm for IVF.

There was no chance it was going to work. I mean, come on. I’d done everything. I’d gone on a diet to lose weight because my shitty Russian urologist said in his report I was “morbidely” obese — and oh how he bristled when I corrected his spelling. I’d been to see everybody, taken the hormones, jerked off into the cups for tests multiple times, had enough blood drawn to fill another version of myself, and jumped through enough insurance hoops to last me the rest of my life, which sadly it probably won’t.

Before they wheeled me in, the anesthesiologist came to see me looking like he was fresh off the back nine. “I’m guessing it’s not your choice to be here,” he said, intimating that my wife was forcing me. I was too terrified to tell him to fuck off as I properly should’ve done, but I just said, “No, man. No,” and did not speak to him again. It was a shame. His assistant had been kind of cool.

Last thing I remember before waking up with gauze all over my midsection was the surgeon — who was the same specialist who diagnosed me in the first place — coming in and saying a cheery good morning. They told me my blood pressure, but I can’t remember what it was. Then they put the mask on me and I was out.

There are still days I wish I’d never woken up.

What a way to go, right? There are insects who die trying to procreate. To expire during what was my convoluted last-ditch attempt at it seemed like it would be saving everyone a lot of trouble. My wife could’ve I’m sure found another, more viable, husband before she was out of the building — a catch, she is — and it’d just be like I went into a back room and never came out. Fine. Done.

There was a nurse there when I woke up. She didn’t tell me anything. I was groggy but already crying. I knew it didn’t work. Like I said, I knew all along. I went through with it because I needed to. It needed to be done. But I never thought it would work. Still have the scar, which is fun. Got to keep that.

They took me to a different post-op room and that’s where my wife came in. She pulled back the curtain and I said, “No. Nothing?” and she shook her head and burst into tears, confirming. Three years of trying to make a baby down the drain and we finally knew why. It was me. Hi! Me. Just me. All me.

A piece of me died that day, and left the rest to mourn it. Over the next few months, I did what any self-respecting suburbanite 35-year-old gentleman would do and developed an eating disorder. A couple of them, actually. I’d starve myself, maybe eat one meal a week that wasn’t protein powder-based, if that, and I’d pop laxative pills by the fistful every two hours. It was nice to control something. People on the internet said I looked good. I did for a while. Then I looked sick. Which I was.

Before we were out of the parking lot of the hospital, though, I said to my wife, “Okay, so we get donor sperm and get you pregnant.” It was the wrong moment to talk about it, maybe, but I had to be doing a thing other than going the next day to see Star Trek Beyond all hopped up on opioid painkillers. She said she’d already looked into it, and I knew then that if I hadn’t said it, if we didn’t do it that way, I’d lose her. Maybe not all at once, like she’d leave, but that over the years, our life together would disintegrate and what Kurt Vonnegut in Mother Night called the “nation of two” would crumble away.

Her sister and her then-wife in Connecticut had two kids by the same donor. Good kids, whom I love dearly. My only niece and my second-youngest nephew. Fine. There was so much paperwork involved. “Imagine some people just do this by having sex,” I said to my wife, at what I’m sure was one of my more helpful moments, which I doubtless followed up by popping more pills.

Our son is beautiful and incredible and tiring and I love him like I’ve never loved anything. He’s worth it, and I’m privileged to know him. He looks just like my wife. And his cousins. Her whole family, the same nose.

She got fertilized in a Boston-area doctor’s office on one of those at-least-it’s-not-snow rainy days in January 2017. The woman, who wore a New England Patriots sweatshirt, offered to let me do the actual insemination, but I said no. Leave it to the professionals. Clearly if I’d been capable of such a thing, it would’ve happened already. Seemed unfair for me to step in at that point. Plus, I’d invariably screw up and make that paperwork a waste of time. We’d wasted enough time.

I cried almost every day, even for just a little. I cried while I didn’t eat. I cried shitting my brains out in the bathroom at Hasbro when I worked there. I cried writing. I cried all the time. Cry cry cry. It didn’t fix anything. Nothing did. Cry cry cry.

Before insurance would cover the final fertilization process, we had to go see a social worker who asked, “How are you going to speak to your child about where they come from?” and we answered firmly, “There are all kinds of families.” We seemed so sure of it, so righteous in our NPR world of forward thought and the up-front, nouveau moral righteousness of progressivism. Why would I feel shame about that? You mean because I failed at the thing that’s literally the most basic function biology has — to reproduce and make more of itself? Not me, lady! I read the Times!

Then it happened. Oct. 25, 2017, he was born by emergency C-section after 40-plus hours of labor. There was part of me that didn’t believe it was real, even afterward. Like, “Yeah, okay,” and then someone blows a slide whistle and the whole thing is a prank. Hasn’t happened yet.

I’m the “other parent,” genetically speaking. This has its ups and downs. When I think of myself, and even when I thought about making a baby in the first place, there aren’t a lot of traits I’d want to pass on. I can’t think of one. Say one good thing about yourself. I have nothing.

That’s the upside to having gone with the donor in the end. I’m off the hook, genetically. He won’t get cancer because of my family history. No doctor will ever write “mobidely obese” about him because of me. Men in my family die young. Aside from my grandmother’s brother, who is 95, my father is the only one to my knowledge who made it past 70, and I’ve already said that if I do, I’m going to eat ice cream every day, because that’s bonus life as far as I’m concerned. Maybe I’ll get there, maybe I won’t. But my son will. He’ll be better off without me in his bloodstream.

For all our “all kinds of families” talk — which is true, by the way — it all got kind of quiet after he was born. People see a man, a woman, and a baby together and they assume that the two parents produced the child. I let it happen. Not something you can really fault someone for, if you think about it. Maybe it bothers me letting it happen. Maybe I feel like I deserve the asterisk: Dad*. I don’t know.

He’s mine, one way or the other, but when someone says he looks like me, I’m back there, wrapped in gauze, wishing my life had ended. I’m back there trying so desperately to control anything about my body or about myself, even if what I’m controlling is its obliteration. All the better, really. Let me go.

Cry cry cry.

My favorite response is, “All white people look alike.” Sometimes I say, “Nah, he’s all my wife.” Every now and then I’ll break out, “Let’s hope not,” chuckle chuckle. Lately I’ve just gone with, “Yeah, well…” and left it there. Feels like a coward’s way out, so fair enough. Maybe if I had the hormones to put someone right, we wouldn’t have needed the donor in the first place. And people mean well. They don’t know.

I’m still grieving, even as I chase my son around the house trying to get him to eat his packet of apple sauce, or as I booby-trap his shelves to deter him from climbing them. Sometimes when I think of how amazing he is — and he is — and how much I love him, I wonder how it would be different if he was of my blood. But grief changes with time. It never leaves, but it’s different now than it was that day. You live with it.

We’ll try to acclimate him to the “all kinds of families” thing once he’s old enough to ask where babies come from, at some point tell him about his “special cousins.” He’s not yet two. It’s all comfortably in the future now. Until then, we’ll just sing Beatles songs and share beautiful photos on social media, like what’s normal anyway? Looks so easy. But it’s not, which I know because I still think about it every day, and because we’ve already gotten so quiet talking about it.

I don’t want to be.

Or maybe I do.

Thanks for reading.

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Exit Interview: The Mad Doctors Call it Quits

Posted in Features on July 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the mad doctors

Playing with and off conventions of punk, surf, heavy rock and more besides, New York trio The Mad Doctors have been a sort of gleeful anomaly. In the release info for what will serve as their final (as much as anything is final in rock and roll) release, the EP R.I.P., they use the word “weirdoid,” and I love that, because not only does it push “weirdo” to 11, but it has fun in the process, and from where I sit, that’s what the band have been about this whole time. They call it quits leaving behind a too-short discography of short releases, splits and the 2016 full-length, No Waves, Just Sharks (review here), and an aesthetic that seemed just to be finding its joy in the strange nuance of their songwriting, but their doing so hints that perhaps the point all along was the search, not the find. In any case, they were a good band. So it goes.

R.I.P. serves as vital emphasis on that point particularly; one more fuzz blowout from guitarist/vocalist Seth Applebaum, bassist Joshua Park and drummer Greg Hanson, who earlier this year also issued the Fuck Sean Hannity digital single, thereby earning a 1UP’s worth of charm points. I’ve done exit interviews before once or twice. A band breaking up can be a contentious thing, and as I’m not really into hearing dudes rag on each other or dig into “band drama,” it’s not something I always want to chase down, but with The Mad Doctors, that doesn’t seem to have been what did it. They just seem like they’re ready to move on. There are new projects in the works and they decided to put things to rest with the five songs on R.I.P. and some last shows. It’s hard not to respect that, and after a run that goes back to 2013’s Fuzz Tonic EP, they’ve well earned the victory lap. So here are the dates:

The Mad Doctors last shows:
Wed 7/17 – Brooklyn @ Windjammer
Thur 7/18 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Gooskies
Fri 7/19 – Ft. Wayne, IN @ The Brass Rail
Sa 7/20 – Detroit, MI @ Beaconsfield House
Su 7/21 – Chicago, IL @ Reed’s
Mon 7/22 – Cincinnati, OH @ The Hub
Tu 7/23 – Knoxville, TN @ Pilot Light
Wed 7/24 – Richmond, VA @ Cary St. Cafe
Th 7/25 – Harrisonburg, VA @ Lon Lon Ranch
Fri 7/26 – Washington, DC @ The Pie Shop
Sa 7/27 – Baltimore, MD @ Mercury Theater

I’ll say this about them: I never knew what a given offering from The Mad Doctors would offer — and that’s still true on R.I.P. — but I knew it would be a good time. I’m glad they had the awareness to pull the plug before it stopped being one.

Enjoy the interview and all the best to Applebaum, Park and Hanson on current and future projects:

The Mad Doctors – Exit Interview

Okay, so what happened? Why end The Mad Doctors?

Nothing happened, really. Creative projects just have ends. We were able to feel it coming and thought it was best to try to make the best of it and have some fun before we put it to bed. It’s better to have it end naturally rather than keep it going just for the hell of it. We had an amazing run – our adult lives are in many ways defined by it, we have made so many of our closest friends through it, we have seen so many places we otherwise wouldn’t have. And now it’s time to see where else the road goes.

When did you first start to feel like things with the band were drawing to a close? Obviously you’re still in it, but did it become the band you wanted it to be?

It has been about a year, maybe a little longer. It was mostly a lack of inspiration to write new material. It kind of felt like we had explored all the things we were excited about sonically that made sense with this band. Around this time, we had a few meetings to try to get the creative juices flowing again and see what we hadn’t tried (one of these attempts turned into “Aggro”) but most of the time, it ended with lukewarm tunes that just didn’t fit us. Sonic interests had changed, tastes had changed and we just felt like it was time to figure out a good way to put it to bed. So we came up with the idea of doing one more record and another tour to support it, a few goodbye shows and end on a high note.

Did you know as the new EP was coming together that this was it?

Yeah — we went into the recording process with the plan for it to be the last release. Thankfully we all still love each other and playing in the band is still a lot of fun so giving it some time wasn’t a problem at all but we have been sitting on the news and it’s exciting to be able to do it one more time.

You’ve toured, played fests, recorded albums, splits, the whole thing. What are you leaving undone?

Really, the only thing we wanted but haven’t done is tour internationally. It’s a bit of a bummer but we all have jobs and commitments to things locally so an international tour just wasn’t in the cards but we definitely wish it had! We had talked about Europe, Australia, Asia – we have had some good love from around the world – just good excuses to travel and see new places – which is always how we viewed touring in the first place. For another band, I suppose!

Best memory — live, in the studio, whatever. What specific moment will you look back on most fondly?

I mean, it’s impossible to pick one memory but when pressed, I definitely think one of the more magical moments was something that happened on a recent tour. We were playing a basement in Harrisonburg, VA that only had one light – a standing lamp that our friend (Jake from Illiterate Light) was whipping around, giving us a “light show.” Well, in the middle of one of the songs, he accidentally broke the bulb and we finished the song in darkness. Honestly, not the first time we have played in total darkness for one reason or another but after the song, we asked someone to turn another light on and we were told there wasn’t another light to turn on. So Jake turns on the flashlight on his phone and five or six more people in the front row take the cue and do the same so we finished the set by iPhone light and it was a moment that was totally awesome.

What lessons will you take from your time in The Mad Doctors as you move forward?

We learned all of the ropes in The Mad Doctors. Everything. How to book shows, how to book tours, how to not fight with band members, how to talk to each other, how to keep out of each others’ hair on the road, how to not take a bad show as a sign that your band totally sucks, how to embrace the moments of pure magic, how to maintain relationships in close quarters, how to play our instruments. It’s immense how much we have all taken from this band.

What’s next for you guys? Any new bands or projects in the works?

Always lots of stuff! Seth and Josh are doing Seth’s psychedelic soul band Ghost Funk Orchestra, who is doing quite well (and has a new LP coming out in August called ‘A Song For Paul’), Greg is in another garage punk band called Lumps, who is working on their second LP, Greg and Seth have a recording project called Power Children that’s like revved-up biker rock as well as their super-sometimes (like they play once a year) surf punk band The Fucktons, and Josh is always working on his solo drone/sludge project Sludge Judy (which Seth plays drums in). So – yeah, we’re definitely not done making music together in other forms and we’re all keeping active and happy with lots of music!

The projects:
https://ghostfunkorchestra.bandcamp.com/album/a-song-for-paul-2
https://soundcloud.com/ghostloadsound/power-children-night-time-is-the-fight-time
https://thefucktons.bandcamp.com/album/spring-cleaning
https://sludgejudy.bandcamp.com/

Seriously though, reunion tour in a year?

Who knows? Honestly, we’re not saying we’re never going to play again but this is the end of the band playing consistently, especially for the time being. Maybe we’ll have inspiration and write more songs and pick up the mantle again. But until then, we’re going to have a few more bangers and give our necks and heads a rest…

The Mad Doctors, “Shit Hawks at Blood Beach” official video

The Mad Doctors on Bandcamp

The Mad Doctors on Thee Facebooks

R.I.P. tape preorder

King Pizza Records website

King Pizza Records on Thee Facebooks

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Six Dumb Questions with Tony Reed of Mos Generator

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on July 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

tony reed

The mantle of being the hardest working person in show business has been worn by many over the last century-plus, perhaps most notably James Brown, but if we’re talking about heavy rock and roll, Port Orchard, Washington’s Tony Reed makes a strong case for himself. The frontman of the long-running Mos Generator is also near ubiquitous in his studio work on the production side, recording, mixing and mastering bands far and wide. He’s taking part alongside Bob Balch of Fu Manchu and Gary Arce of Yawning Man in the reincarnated Big Scenic Nowhere, and he’s just recorded the first Saint Vitus LP to feature Scott Reagers in over two decades. In August, he’ll tour for the second time in Europe playing bass for Melbourne’s Seedy Jeezus, whom he’s also recorded.

Oh, and for having what he calls a “mellow year,” Mos Generator have already released a hand-assembled live album through Devil’s Child Records and have a collection of studio jams on the way through Kozmik Artifactz. Reed is also learning to cut his own records, so expect much more to come. Like maybe that country rock project he’s got, Hot Spring Water! They’d be perfect for a cut 12″. He’s also been kicking around doing some reunion shows with Twelve Thirty Dreamtime, his band before Mos.

Clearly the man cannot be stopped.

Reed sent a raven recently with details on all of the above and a bunch more and, frankly, it was staggering. I didn’t even know where to start, but we went back and forth and what made the most sense to me was to get an interview together — as always, it took me forever to actually write out the questions — and give him the chance to talk about what’s going on with each of these things, say what he can say at this point and roll like that. With so much going on, some he can talk about and some he can’t, it was really the only way. Expect more news on a lot of this stuff as it continues to develop — the Big Scenic Nowhere LP, the Mos Generator jams release, record cutting, etc. — but the point is that, in all seriousness and all sincerity, I find Reed‘s singular level of passion to be deeply inspiring. He is relentlessly creative, and he doesn’t know how else to be. That kind of person is rare and with the consistent level of his output across such a wide variety of contexts, it’s only all the more impressive.

He talks about Mos Generator touring Australia with The Atomic Bitchwax early next year. I look forward to inviting myself on that run. I’d write a whole book about it.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

Six Dumb Questions with Tony Reed

First up, what’s up with Mos Generator for the rest of this year?

It’s been a pretty mellow year for the band. We’ve spent a lot of time on the road over the last four years and thought we would kick back for a bit. It looks like we will only play four shows this year. Two of them are with Red Fang and Clutch so we will be able to reach a new audience with the touring. Early 2020 we will be going over to Australia to tour with The Atomic Bitchwax. We’ve been out with them before so that was great news to hear we would be doing our first Aus tour with them.

In May Devil’s Child Records released a live album called Night of the Lords recorded in Manchester, England, in 2017 and later this year, Kozmik Artifactz out of Germany will release an album of freeform jams called Spontaneous Combustions. I just submitted the masters so hopefully it will be out by Fall. Like The Firmament and Lies of Liberty, Spontaneous Combustions is very different from our usual studio albums. I really enjoy adding new textures to the band and although we usually do a freeform jam section in our live shows, this is a whole album of them. All recorded in a six-hour time period.

You’re involved with Bob Balch and Gary Arce’s Big Scenic Nowhere project. You toured with Fu Manchu of course, and Gary is Gary, but how did you end up getting involved there, and will you continue to be a member of that band?

Bob contacted me to work on a song with him and I’m pretty sure it was a mix of touring with Fu Manchu and my contributions to his site PlayThisRiff that gave him the idea to contact me. We got along well on the road and we both work very hard at our craft.

After I finished the first song he just started sending more to see if I was inspired. I ended up doing vocals on quite a bit of the songs across the EP and the full-length. I also added Mellotron and synths to a few songs. A song I wrote has me on drums/vocals, Bob on guitar and my son Kylen on bass. How cool is that?

Bob, Gary and I have been talking about being the core lineup and continue to have guests come in. There are some really cool musicians playing on this that I am totally honored to be associated with. I’ve also started to call on people I know and respect to participate and everybody has been really cool. Musically there doesn’t seem to be any boundaries and that is great.

You’re also playing bass on tour again with Seedy Jeezus in Europe. How was that experience last time and how does being in the band differ from recording them?

I really enjoy hanging out with Lex and Mark. They know each other so well. They will have these massive blowup arguments that you feel might end the tour and right at its zenith, then it will be like ,“so where are we gonna eat mate?” like nothing ever happened. Total entertainment. I’ve got some great audio and video clips on my phone.

After recording two albums with them and doing the tour last year I feel like I’m part of the band. It was like that from the first time we met. Easy to get along with. I’ll be back over there to record the next Seedy full-length right before the Mos boys fly over for the tour.

You recorded Saint Vitus’ new self-titled album. What was it like having them in the studio again? Did you get Dave Chandler to put any mids in his guitar this time?

They were less prepared this time but everybody really worked to make a great album that ended having classic Vitus elements and some new textures. Henry and Pat both contributed to the writing so that gave the album some diversity while still sitting in the spot the fans are used to. Also, Reagers is a stud. Great vocalist and one of the nicest dudes you’ll ever meet. Always positive and professional without being too serious. Chandler kept his classic EQ settings. :)

Tell me about the record cutting project.

Well… my buddy Jeremy Deede brought up the idea of buying a record lathe. We found a guy in Germany that builds them so we contacted him and he told us he won’t sell it to us if we don’t take the class so I flew over to Germany a few weeks ago and took the 15-hour one day crash course in record cutting. I did get to bring home my first few attempts at it and they sounded better than I thought they would. We should have the machine and a whole bunch of blanks next week and I’ll start to get grip on making some nice cuts. After I get comfortable with it we are going to launch a site where people can have one-off records cut. Needless to say I’ll be making records of everything I ever wanted on vinyl. Exciting stuff!!!

What keeps you going, Tony? Every year you seem to have your hand in so much and so much going on. What is it that lets you do that? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff happening at any given time?

I discovered that I had musical ability when I was around 12 and ever since then I pretty much haven’t stopped. I’ve written and recorded more music than I can even remember. I’ve been going through 40 years of tapes and other recorded media that I am cataloging and saving and I’m finding so much music I forgot I even made. From ideas recorded on a boombox in 1985 to complete songs from even just a few years ago. When I think about how much time I’ve spent next to some kind of recording device with a guitar in my hand or behind a drum kit it’s staggering. I have so many musical endeavors going on (including my job) that it is sometimes hard to finish stuff. My dry erase board in the studio always has scribblings all over it. I like it that way. Leaving a legacy has always been important to me and that along with not knowing, and not wanting to know, anything else in life is what keeps me going. I’ve always been very prolific. I often wonder if that will ever disappear.

Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

I’m putting a lot of time into a project called Hot Spring Water. It’s a country rock project in the style of early ’70s artists like Leon Russell, Graham Nash and Neil Young. Mykey and Mike were the rhythm section from Stone Axe and we actually started this project in 2011. A few months ago we added Bo Mcconaghie on guitar with me and started rehearsing for shows. We’ve played two shows and they have been really fun. It’s so much different than Mos Generator. Bo and I use six watt Fender Champ amplifiers so we have a six watt ceiling for live volume. It’s great! people can enjoy the show without getting their ears blasted. It’s also challenging because playing that clean and quite means your can hear every mistake. Challenges are good.

Tony Reed, Assembling Night of the Lords

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