Maty’s Corner #19

Maty’s Corner #19
Ben Weasel; He’s a Jerk, He’s a Hero!

 

Ben Weasel is one of most maligned, polarizing and interesting characters in the punk scene. He’s captained two defining bands, authored 2 books, is presently working on a musical and has effortlessly pissed off most of the “punk” scene. Gonna apologize in advance if I get anything wrong and do my best shed some light on a nasty rumor or two. Strap in and take a ride to the punk house.

Ben’s first and most notable band Screeching Weasel started in 1987 in Prospect Heights Illinois and became a fixture in the chicago punk scene. Their alumni over the years has boasted some heavy hitters such as Mike Dirnt, Mass Giorgini, Aaron Cometbus and Dan Vapid. They are probably the most influential band to pop punk/power pop/emo since the Ramones. Their brand of punk has covered quite the broad spectrum from weird pop culture fantasies to the pretentiousness inherent in the more leftist portion of punk rock.

1987 brought us their self titled debut. The album was around only briefly at the time as Underdog Records had no interest in re-pressing after the initial copies sold out. It was re-issued in 1997 by VML Records. This album is great for the hard core fans but easily their worst or best album depending on perspective. I enjoy it but would not play it to introduce someone to the band. The highlight is early versions on some of the band’s better known songs being, Murder in the Brady House, My Right, Hey Suburbia, and I Hate Led Zeppelin. It’s worth a listen if you love Screeching Weasel or just some kind of music nerd.

In 1988 Weasel put out Boogada, probably their best known album. This was their debut on Lookout Records. This featured better produced versions of a few tracks off of their first album. This effort sees the beginnings of their transition from strange near hard core to the pop punk powerhouse they are today. One of the stand outs on this is Nicaragua which seems like a fuck you to the over sensitive crusties. This was also one of the first appearances of the famed cartoon weasel character.

1991 gave us My Brain Hurts. This showed the band in the more pop punk/ Ramones-Core direction. This featured backing vocals with the edition of Dan Vapid and a better, more rounded out sound. A highlight from this is one of my favorite Weasel songs, Science of Myth, a song that still affects me to this day. This release took the weasel to new heights in popularity.

In 1992 Weasel released an album that changed my view on punk rock in general and was the first one I ever heard. It was titled Ramones. This is a cover of the entire first Ramones album done in Screeching Weasel’s own break neck pace. The repress also had the Formula 27 EP tacked on at the end and is entitled Beat Is on the Brat. This is the version I got. This was their first album to be recorded at Sonic Iguana studios with Mass Giorgini producing, a unit that has put out many of pop punk’s greatest releases.

Following the Ramones celebration was 1993’s Wiggle. The band’s most solid album. It featured a number of songwriting collaborations with Joe Queer and one with Aaron Cometbus. The highlight of this is the entire album. Though Crying in My Beer and High School psychopath near have their own life beyond this release. Supposedly there have been regrets about some of the songs chosen for this album which I don’t get personally.

Also 1993 brought us Anthem for a New Tomorrow, yes they are that fast. This was a bit more straight up than Wiggle. I think part of that was the bulk of the tracks were written strictly by Ben Weasel. It continued their legacy as pop punk titans. Their instrumentation and lyricism had jumped by leaps and bounds at this point.

1994 brought what was initially going to be Weasel’s last album, How to Make Enemies and Irritate People. Dan Vapid had left the band at this point. Green Day’s mike Dirnt had been recruited to fill in. The recording does show the strain the band was feeling. It was still a great album nonetheless. It’s still classic Weasel even if a bit tired. This also marks their final release with Lookout Records. It really looked the Weasel was out to pasture.

1995 brought us an interim album, Kill the Musicians. This is packed with a bunch of goodies such as b sides and vinyl only stuff. A definite must for the hard core Weasel fan.

Cut to 1996. Reformed Weasel with a new album, Bark like a Dog on a new label, Fat Wreck Chords. This alum sounds a lot more alive and in tune with Screeching Weasel than their prior effort. They sound more alive. This was their only album to hit Billboard at #34. Bark gave us Cool Kids which is an excellent Weasel track.

1998 kicked in with Television City Dream. Vapid had again left the band and Mass Giorgini was filling in on bass along with producing the album. This is a blend of the Weasel pop sound with a blend of the harder edge found on their earliest work. It was yet another solid effort from the Weasel. They were still on Fat Wreck at this point.

In 1999 Weasel released their overall most interesting album, Emo. Interesting due to a lot of the song writing sounding like a lot of mid western punk that was being labeled as such and the obvious fact that this band’s music had an influence on the scene. Though I doubt this band ever stole their sister’s clothes, make up and hair products. This whole album stands out as it was quite different from anything the band had done. They had split from Fat and released this on Panic Button Records which was run by founding member Jughead.

2000 saw the release of Teen Punks in Heat. Another solid release from the band. It looked like they were in a full fledged reformation as they had played two sold out shows. Their first live performance in seven years. But Weasel broke up again and wouldn’t release another album for 11 years.

2011 marked Weasel’s craziest year to date. They were back on Fat Wreck and with a new album, First World Manifesto. Some of it takes stabs at everything that”punks” like Fat Mike are about. Along with this was the incident at South by Southwest. A female member of the audience had been throwing ice and spitting at Ben through the duration of their set. After an hour Ben lost it and threw a punch at her, guess you shouldn’t screw with the band, then the club owner rushed Ben and he defended himself. Following this was much of the punk scene forming a lynch mob. His own band threw him under the bus and got shit canned as a result. Fat Mike was of course full of self righteous indignation due to him being such a stand up guy, right.

Aside from Screeching Weasel and polarizing fans Ben fronted another highly influential group, the Riverdales. They took the Ramones influence to new levels. Lead vocals were shared between Dan Vapid and Ben Weasel. Really amazing band. They released 5 albums between 1995 and 2010. I’m pretty sure this band is dead as Vapid was one of the people to turn on Ben the moment the wind blew wrong.

Along with this Ben has put out 2 solo albums and 2 difficult to find books. After 23 years the Weasel marches on. Honestly I think Ben exemplifies punk more than a number of artists in the scene. It’s supposed to be a bit unfriendly and dangerous. You want safe, go listen to some shitty pop music. Ben screwed up and apologized. Get over it. As for Vapid and crew, you betray your band, you deserve the unemployment line. If you know Ben’s band, give another listen, if not, check ‘em out!
-Maty Almost

https://www.facebook.com/screechingweasel

Maty’s Corner #18

 

Maty’s Corner #18
Amerikan Made Album Review

I recently picked up the album Time by Amerikan Made at their release show. Just good solid straight up no bull shit hard core from Huntington Beach, Ca. All really cool guys and tight live set. The entire Album is solid. Catch these guys live and get a copy of this. I know many punks are looking for something to slam or simply fuck on the floor and break shit to. Here ya go. It’s you time! Find these guys at https://www.facebook.com/amerikan.made.1?fref=ts

-Maty Almost

 

Lookout! Or Else. More Ben Weasel

 

So Larry Livermore put out a book about Lookout Records and appearently misrepresents Screeching Weasel based off of info from John “Jughead”. Less than surprising considering that a lot of the scene is hell bent on maligning Ben Weasel.

-Maty Almost

Now for Ben’s posted thoughts on the book.

So, this Lookout Records book that just came out – what a mess. It focuses way more on SW than I’d imagined it would. If I’d known I was living that comfortably and rent-free in Larry’s head I’d’ve done a few things differently.

But the main thing is the factual errors. And not just the author. You’ve got band members who had no idea what was going on discussing business they had nothing to do with and talking dumb shit.

One example: the author asserts that we supposedly had a deal with Lookout to put Homosexual on MBH and reneged on it. Presumably John is his source since he’s the one quoted.

What actually happened was that Larry refused to sign a deal with us so we agreed with Shred of Dignity to do the Pervo-Devo EP well before signing with Lookout – weeks if not months in advance. Larry refused to agree to release MBH till it was about halfway mixed, and only after I gave him an ultimatum when he 1. started insinuating that he wasn’t going to sign us if we didn’t put Science of Myth as the first track and 2. asked me to renege on our deal with SoD and add Homosexual. I said, “sorry pal, I already have a deal with Matt at SoD. He was willing to take a chance on us when you weren’t.” Matt was in the studio doing a photo shoot with me and Bruce LaBruce for the Pervo-Devo sleeve and Larry hectored and berated the shit out of him trying to get him to give the song up, to no avail. By the time he suggested putting the song on both records he’d alienated Matt to the point where Matt wasn’t even willing to do that (and it seemed dumb and cheap to me anyway to put it on both releases, not that Larry was asking my opinion at that point).

And of course John keeps referring to Matt as “Bruce LaBruce.” Maybe all gay guys look the same to him. Anyway, I was no saint back then, but accusing me of reneging on a deal when it was literally the exact opposite of what I did in spite of a lot of pressure – Larry threatened not to sign us and we had a $750 studio bill to pay, not to mention a dead van and no money to fix it and get back to Chicago from California – is a bit much.

Gub, who played on one tour with us and ended up on a long out of print live radio EP is credited with having been an actual member (he wasn’t – he was filling in till we found someone permanent. Nice guy, but he wasn’t in the band) and, remarkably with having played on two tours, and on the Wiggle album. I mean, all you had to do was look at the jacket to know that’s wrong. Come on.

Our first album apparently cost $200 to make. I wish I hadn’t put in all those hours at the warehouse to pay the $1000 studio bill then! And this is something that has been documented publicly. In fact I’m 99% sure it’s on the liner notes of one of our anthologies. Somebody Google it if you give a shit.

That’s off the top of my head, and I’ve only skimmed this thing so far. Look, the author asked me to participate and I declined so I have only myself to blame for not being the voice of reason responding to John’s many fanciful tales of days of yore but stuff like completely blowing an easily verifiable thing like who played on an album – I don’t get that. Then again, I’ve never tried to write a book like this so maybe this is par for the course. I guess I’ll have to write my own book someday.

-Ben Weasel

 

Maty’s Corner #17

Maty’s Corner #17
DFL: Proud To Be Dead Fucking Last!

Coming out of LA with a teeth kicking sound as aggressive as the name is Dead Fucking Last. This hard core unit led by Crazy Tom has consisted of Mike D and Ad Rock of Beastie Boys, Brian Baker of Minor Threat/ Bad Religion and AWOL of Suicidal Tendencies. More impressive than their past line up is their hard core you can break a skate ramp to. They sound like an older band, reminiscent of the 80’s hard core of the South Bay area.

Their first release, My Crazy Life came out on Grand Royal records. It is informal recording sessions which sound more like a decently produced live album rather than a studio effort. This release set them up as a sound that punches you in the face from the first note and just continues beating till the end. They quickly establish a signature lo fi muffled sound which I’m not sure was an accident.

1994 brought DFL to Epitaph Records and the Release of Proud To Be. The first release I came across and what I think may be their best known. The recording quality is slightly better on this. The pace is even more break neck than their debut. It was a classic to play at skate sessions when I was younger. This one has a stand out for me, the title track. At 20 tracks, this long runner of an entirely bad ass hard core album will keep you going from session through hospital or police station trip.

In 1997 they put out Grateful. Their most recent studio album to date. This continues the fashion of sounding more like a live show and fast paced teeth knocking hard core. The band sounds more solid than their previous two efforts and somehow louder.
In 1999 DFL went on Hiatus. Crazy Tom was working on GFP which consists of Tony Alva of… (if you don’t know I’m sorry you lived under a rock), Greg Hetson of Circle Jerks/ Bad Religion and AWOL from Suicidal. As of 2013 DFL has reunited and is playing shows and will, at some point, have some music for us. Better dead last than fucking never. Check them out and stalk them at https://www.facebook.com/proudtobedfl

-Maty Almost

 

Maty’s Corner #16

 

Maty’s Corner #16
Pulley: The Esteem Driven Engine Still Matters

Pulley started up in 1994, right in the beginning thick of the Southern California skate punk revolution of music that shaped my life. This 5 piece hard hitting melodic punk unit is led by Scott Radinsky who was no stranger the punk scene by 94 having been in Scared Straight during its 10 year existence (83-93) being heavy hitters in the Nardcore Mystic Records scene. They then went on to become skate punk greats Ten Foot Pole. Radinsky was in charge of that unit for their first 2 releases then forced to leave due to his pro baseball that he was already 3 years deep into. Being that baseball conflicts with the tour schedule of most punk rock I see it is making sense. That didn’t preclude Radinsky from being the voice of TFP’s seminal single My Wall.
Right outta the gate Pulley was a bit of a super group consisting of Radinsky from his aforementioned bands; Jim Cherry (may his soul be rested) of Strung Out; Matt Riddle of Face To Face and No Use For a Name; and Tony Palermo from Ten Foot Pole and Unwritten Law.

Pulley’s first drop in was 1995’s Esteem Driven Engine. A strong door kicker of a debut from these punk veterans. It slams open with Cashed In which would be a candidate on a best of record. Right away this first album sets a tone for more introspective lyrics which tends to happen to us punks as we get older. Take for instance Bad Religion’s material from the mid 90’s and forward.

Right after this was 97’s 60 Cycle hum. Again a really strong track starts the whole album off on the right foot, or left if ya skate goofy. The most interesting track on this was Noddin’ Off. It kicks like Ten Foot Pole or Scared Straight. I think kinda letting us all know that they remember who they are. Another overall solid effort from this board breaking unit.

1999 brought us @#!*, referred to as self titled. Honestly my favorite album by these guys. I believe it’s also their most popular. The lyrics start getting real introspective and the music on a couple tracks is even a bit dark. It’s still Pulley. The differences show growth in the band and they sound tighter than their first 2 albums. The stand out for me has always been Over It. Somewhat of a scathing indictment of the rat race that even the punk scene can degenerate into. Less of a middle finger and more a wake up call. The more incendiary and equally great track is Nothing To Lose. It’s been the background to a fuck you in my life numerous times. Just a great one to sing with and let something out.

2001 marked Pulley’s first album as a 4 piece, Together Again For The First Time. Jim Cherry had left the band to pursue Zero Down and dropped one solid album with them before he departed us. Despite the missing guitarist, this is as solid and tough an album as pulley had put out. The first real stand out on this is Hooray for me. Another honest critique of the scene from the perspective of growing up but not giving in. The other one that hits me of this effort is Same Sick Feeling. Always sounds like one off of the 99 album and that’s not at all a bad thing.

2004 marked Pulley’s longest gap between albums. Matters shows the band hasn’t lost a bit of edge over their first 10 years. The band just sounds tighter with each offering they put out. It was also dedicated to their guitarist and friend Jim. This for me is like 99’s “self titled”. Most stand out on Matters is Insects Destroy. Has a bit of Bad Religion and Pennywise feel. Makes sense being that they were all label mates for so long. This marks Pulley’s final album on punk rock Olympus of Epitaph records and their last full length to date.

2009 after about 5 years Pulley gave us their first ep on a new label, Time Insensitive Material. Ghost Inside My Skin is the stand out of this short offering. It’s a blend of classic Pulley with some new ideas. The first glimpse of something new to come. 20011 gave us The Long And The Short Of It ep. Coming in at only 3 tracks, it leaves me hoping for a full length in the near future. There’s been rumors swirling around a new full length since 2012. I was fortunate to see them play recently. After 20 years of Pulley and 31 years of Scott Radinsky, neither part shows any sign of letting up for a long time to come. Check out Pulley if you don’t know ‘em, re listen or catch ‘em live if ya do. You can keep up with Pulley over at https://www.facebook.com/pulleymatters
– Maty Almost

Coming attracions!

As of January 2015 we will have a new writer and column. Dave Grimey’s Punk House. The punk house is situated on Maty’s Corner at the intersection of Old School and Yer Fucked. This will be profiles focusing on the more old school bands to include Discharge, GBH and The Clash. I’ve known Dave for 12 years, he’s as old school and hard core as they come. This will be a welcome and awesome edition to the writing here. If ya like it, awesome! If not, tough.

Maty’s Corner #15

Maty’s Corner #15
Havok on Polaris album review

Recently Havok on Polaris’ album Fan Dance Party came across my desk for a review. Musically I’d put it somewhere between the power pop and harder skate punk of the 90’s era. I love it. At 24 tracks sounds like all of the bands influences show through. I’d personally compare them to Parasites, Last Chucks and the Ergs with a touch of Ten Foot Pole and later 7 Seconds and a bit of NOFX and Screeching Weasel’s comical sensibility. They’re a trio outta Lawrence Kansas, yep Kansas has something other than Dorothy and Levinworth. Really tight playing, it’s nice to see pop punk pushing past the 3 chords from time to time. The more hard core readers may not dig these guys, but life sucks without a bit of fun so check ‘em out anyways. This is definitely one of the more exciting offerings of the year from punk rock in genereal. My favorite track off of this is My Radio Sux. While being track one is good enough to get me pumped for the rest of this fast paced good time. You can check in with these guys at https://www.facebook.com/thehavokonpolaris or get releases over at http://thehavokonpolaris.bandcamp.com/album/fan-dance-party

Maty’s Corner #14

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Maty’s Corner #14
Brigadiers EP Review

So I recently saw Brigadiers and got their Warriors ep. It’s just good honest straight ahead street punk. Really reminds me of Virus Nine. All 5 songs are just a refreshing kick to the face. The playing is as tight onstage as it is on this disc. Stand out track for me was Control. This solid unit hails from somewhere between Riverside County and Costa Mesa. So catch them live and get a copy of this and the new ep they have in the works. Get to know ‘em on their face book https://www.facebook.com/brigadiersband and get a good pit for ‘em.

-Maty Almost

Whether A Rebel Or A Punk, Take Pride In Your Apparel

Alternative Clothing Stores

Punks hanging out on the Kings Road, London 1983

FASHION PUNK:
http://fashionpunk.com

DIRTY SHIRTY:
http://dirtyshirty.com

FOUL MOUTH T-SHIRTS:
http://foulmouthshirts.com

PUNK & PISSED CLOTHING:
http://punkandpissed.com

PUNK STUFF:
http://punkstuff.com

PUNK YOUR CHUCKS:
http://punkyourchucks.com

NO-GODS-NO-MASTERS:
https://no-gods-no-masters.com

ROCKABILLIA:
http://rockabillia.com

CRUST PUNK DISTRO:
http://crustpunks.com

REBEL GIRLZ:
http://rebelgirlz.com

SOUR PUSS CLOTHING:
http://sourpussclothing.com

STEEL BOOTS AND SHOES:
http://steel-boots.com

TOO FAST APPAREL:
http://toofastonline.com
DR. STRANGE RECORDS:
http://www.drstrange.com

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Up The Punx

www.punxinsolidarity.com

On that note Here’s “Black Flag – My War”

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