Category Archives: Pop Culture

Keep Yourself Alive with The Jackets

The Jackets @ Sommercasino Basel 10.01.2020 Patrick Principe

The Jackets are arguably among of the most dynamic garage punk groups to come out of Bern, Switzerland. They are Jackie Brutsche aka Jack Torera (guitar vocals), Samuel Schmidiger (bass, backing vocals), and Chris Rosales (drums, backing vocals). Whether on stage or heard through their records, The Jackets revitalize the vital heartbeat needed to keep rock n’ roll alive.  This is by their seemingly natural ability to effortlessly blend wild, primitive garage-punk with fuzzed out freakbeat influenced by notions of psychedelia. It’s the kind of music that not only shocks and awes, but also inspires.

Since 2008, The Jackets have released four albums, a single and have toured relentlessly throughout Europe and the United States. Their last two albums Shadows of Sound (2015) and Queen Of The Pill (2019) along with the Be Myself/Queen Of The Pill 7″ (2017) have come out via the infamous Voodoo Rhythm Records. Their latest album, Queen Of The Pill even included a collaboration with King Khan (King Khan and The Shrines and King Khan & the BBQ Show).

 In February 2020, prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, The Jackets did a brief West Coast Tour. This tour started in Portland, Oregon and ended in their first ever show in Mexico City for the Born To Be Cheap Fourth Anniversary Party.  After catching The Jackets in Portland on February 19th , I later caught up with Chris Rosales. We chatted about The Jacket’s recent North American Tour, Queen Of The Pill, the European Garage Rock Renaissance and life in Switzerland during Coronavirus Lockdown.

NixBeat: The USA West Coast/Mexico Tour was partly booked with Ugly Things and Born To Be Cheap. How did you get involved with them?

Chris Rosales: I’ve known Mike Stax (Ugly Things) since I was a teenager. I was involved with the first Garage Revival in Los Angeles (Greg Shaw’s Cavern Club, etc.) in the ‘80s and Mike was an “ace face” and major player. I met Anja Stax when she lived in London in the ‘90s so they were both a natural as go-to people for our last three California tours. Anja Stax can book a tour in 10 minutes! It’s incredible! Mike and Anja are the best, I can’t say enough about those two they are amazing people. Matt and Daneep from Born to be Cheap got a hold of us last year and asked us if we wanted to come and play in CDMX! We jumped at the idea. We basically built the USA tour around the Mexico shows. We didn’t know Matt and Daneep before we got to Mexico. Two more amazing people! That’s what I love about this scene – meeting so many cool people and then they are your friends for life!!

NixBeat: This was the third North American Tour for the Jackets. How have you found the audiences reception to your gigs?

Chris Rosales: We are always blown away playing in the USA! I mean, this was the first time we did a tour exclusively on our own – not touring with another band. It was nice to see people know about us now and know our songs and come just for The Jackets. All the gigs were well attended and fun!

NixBeat: While traveling to Mexico, were you concerned about The United States strict immigration policies at its Southern Border?

Chris Rosales: No, not really. We were concerned more about the Mexican side. We were told that bringing guitars over might bring unwanted questions so we went over with nothing but our luggage and the promoter drove our guitars over. It was also relatively quiet at the border when we crossed over to Tijuana.

NixBeat: Seth Bovey’s book Five Years Ahead Of My Time: Garage Rock From The 1950’s To The Present suggests that Europe and particularly Switzerland are experiencing a kind of garage rock/underground music renaissance. Do think this is true and if so, why is there such a strong revival going on at the moment?

Chris Rosales:  We were also surprised to see our name in that book! As far as a Garage Renaissance in Europe, it’s been going on for a while now. I, we have been asked this question many times and I really can’t put my finger on why this kind of music is more popular in Europe than in the USA. But it is. And particularly with younger people. It’s not a huge scene like the Metal scene or something but hundreds (Thousand?) of people go to festivals like Funtastic Dracula Carnival, Purple Weekend, Cosmic Trip, etc. Instead of wondering why, I am just enjoying it. It’s good for the bands – it’s what makes new bands form.

NixBeat: The Jackets tour started out in Portland where DJ Major Sean (Sean Cavanaugh) spun records for your show. Do you think having a DJ spinning set at gigs is important and what kind of difference does it make for you experience while performing at a venue?

Chris Rosales:  It’s always better having a DJ spinning at gigs! It gets everyone in the mood for the live music and builds a great atmosphere in the club! It’s also great seeing what cool records the DJs have as well! A gig without a cool DJ is really missing something.

NixBeat: What kind of differences do you notice from your shows and experiences in the United States in comparison to when performing in Europe?

Chris Rosales: Like I said before, there are more people and younger people in Europe. In the States a Garage gig is filled with people around 50 years old (wink wink). In Europe it’s much more mixed and there are way more people.

 NixBeat: Queen of the Pill was released in June of 2019. How would you describe the difference in sound and style between your previous album Shadows of Sound and Queen of the Pill?

Chris Rosales: Queen of the Pill is a more thought out album, in my opinion. We worked on the songs more, we worked on the mix longer. We cared more about what we wanted to say. Not to knock Shadows of Sound at all but we made that album in six months. Queen of the Pill was really a two-year project and that 7” that we released the year before was really a test of ideas about the direction we wanted to go with the full LP.

NixBeat: The video for “Losers Lullaby” features the Jackets performing in drag in a parking garage. What’s the inspiration behind this song and video?

Chris Rosales: The songwriting and the video idea are two separate things. The song is filled with the ultimate “put-downs”. Things you want to say to someone you hate! The video became a play on male and female roles in bands – Sam and I turn into girls and Jackie turns into a guy. At one point Jackie is the male singer of a girl band. That kind of thing.

NixBeat: The Jackets recently released the music video for Queen of the Pill track “Dreamer.” The video focuses on the perspective of a Gorilla and that of Jackie exploring the city of Bern, Switzerland. What’s the story behind this video?

Chris Rosales: The video for “Losers Lullaby” was professionally shot and we wanted the next video from the LP to be more DIY. On a sunny early Spring day, I got into a gorilla suit and Jackie and I set out into the countryside around the city of Bern to start filming something. The idea was wide open but there was a lyric from the song – “I had a meeting with my mind face to face, my evil half and little me, what a disgrace”. That gave us a thread of an idea. Jackie is the gorilla and the gorilla is Jackie. It’s a dream. The video took a long time to come to something that we were happy with. I think we shot it a year before it was released.

NixBeat: The track “What About You” features collaboration with King Khan doing guest vocals. What’s the story behind this track?

Chris Rosales:  Well he produced the album and his personality is so strong that we wanted to get him to do something on it if at all possible. He arranged that bridge part of the song so we go him to do the vocal part himself and it’s great. He also sings on “Steam Queen” as well as playing the gong on “Floating Alice” and hand-clapping, etc. He was keen to do as much as we would let him!

NixBeat: What are you drawing from for the song “Be Myself?”

Chris Rosales:  You mean what is the song about? Well that’s a text collaboration between me, Jackie  and King Khan so it’s all over the place. I guess it’s about defiance. I don’t wanna do this and I won’t do that and I don’t wanna be myself! That kind of thing. But it’s quite silly really if you read all the lyrics together. But it’s one of my favorite new Jackets songs for sure.

NixBeat:  I have to ask this. My introduction to The Jackets was coming across the the music video for “Freak Out,” released in 2012. In the video The Jackets play a house party and it’s attendees to spasm out of control as if under as spell. The theme suggests a kind of “warning” against the dangers of rock n’ roll. What’s the inspiration behind “Freak Out?”

Chris Rosales:  The “Freak Out” video from 2012 is a remake of various scenes from the 1936 film, “Reefer Madness” which was a morality tale attempting to teach young people about the dangers of marijuana. The original film from the thirties revolves  around the melodramatic events that ensue when high-school students are lured by pushers to try marijuana—from a hit and run accident, to manslaughtersuicide, attempted rapehallucinations, and descent into madness from marijuana addiction. We just changed marijuana to rock and roll! This video was our first. It was professionally shot by Decoy Collective, who also did our video “Keep Yourself Alive”.

NixBeat: Now that The Jackets are back in Switzerland, how are you all coping with the outbreak of the Coronavirus?

Chris Rosales: We got really lucky with the tour. It started on the 15th of February so there were no lockdowns, curfews and cancellations until we got back to Europe. Well we are all confined to our apartments. Jackie and I are off work because our employers have closed during the lockdown (As of this writing Switzerland is on lockdown). It’s only been a week of this so I can’t really imagine how insane everything is going to get in the next weeks and months.

NixBeat:  How has the Corona Virus Pandemic affected life, and particularly the music scene in Switzerland?  

Chris Rosales: There are no gigs. Lot’s of bands had their tours cancelled. This is really hard on Record Labels in particular! Voodoo Rhythm is going through a particularly hard time. If you all would like to help you can donate here.

For more about The Jackets, check out their Website and Facebook.

For more on Voodoo Rhythm Records and how to help click here.

Rebel Kicks, Rock N’ Roll and Life In Quarantine: Chatting with Faz Waltz’s Faz La Rocca

Since 2007, Faz Waltz has led the bovver rock revival. They present a unique style that draws from influences such as The Beatles, T-Rex, David Bowie and Queen. The result is sounds that blends contemporary rock n’ roll with pop sensibilities into a nostalgic nod toward the notions of 1970’s junkshop glam.

Over the years, Faz Waltz has never seemed to slow down. They have played numerous performances, released six albums, toured all over Europe and in 2019 made their first appearance in the United States with a brief tour, including playing at Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Now Faz Waltz are about to release their seventh album Rebel Kicks on April 20th 2020. After getting a preview of the new record via the Grown Up Guy/ C’Mon Liar 7”,  I contacted Faz Waltz’s frontman Faz La Rocca to learn more . We chatted about his glam rock influences, touring the States, playing the Punk Rock Bowling Music Festival, the new 7” and what life is like in Italy during the Coronavirus quarantine.

NixBeat: After previously playing in punk bands, Faz Waltz formed in 2007. What prompted you to start Faz Waltz?

Faz La Rocca: Well, I was deep into the punk rock scene but there were many punk rock bands around. I wanted to do something different. So I started a band playing the music I loved the since I was a kid — rock ‘n roll.

Nix Beat: Faz Waltz seems to blend boot-boy glam rock styles that harkons on a mix of The Beatles, T-Rex and Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie.  Where does your passion for glam come from?

Faz La Rocca : When I was 7, I discovered Queen. They instantly became my favorite band at that time so I started looking for bands that had the same feel… the Beatles were next, then I went on to find T. Rex, Bowie, Cheap Trick, ELO, Slade, and other great bands.

Nix Beat: In an article published by Louder Than War on May 8, 2016, it was stated that Faz Waltz would write and perform in English since it was considered the universal language of rock n’roll. Why do you think that is?

Faz La Rocca: Ever since I discovered rock n’ roll as a kid, my only dream was to become a musician. My favorite bands were from the UK and the US, so singing in English is the only way for me.

Nix Beat: Faz Waltz played Punk Rock Bowling in 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. How did you get involved in playing the festival?

Faz La Rocca: It all happened thanks to Ted from Spaghetty Town Records. After we were asked to play at Punk Rock Bowling, Ted took care of all the other gigs. We’ve been asked to play in the US and Canada multiple times in the past — we even had a tour planned in 2016. Touring the US and Canada is very expensive with all the  bureaucratic red tape. So we needed a big main event like Punk Rock Bowling to make the tour happen.

NixBeat: How was performing in the States compared to playing in Europe?

Faz La Rocca: It was awesome. This was my very first time in this beautiful country. We got to travel the US and we got to play our music; it was a two-for-one dream come true. Well, playing in the States is different from some European countries but similar to others. One thing was certain: everybody was super excited to see us. We really appreciate everyone who came out and rocked with us.

NixBeat: Your new single Grown Up Guy is came out February 21, 2020. What influenced the title track “Grown Up Guy?”

Faz La Rocca: Although some songs are the fruit of my imagination, many are influenced by real life. Everybody experiences some grief sometimes and it’s not obvious that somebody is there to help. So you have to fend for yourself. This makes you think you don’t need anybody else to get through. It gives you power you didn’t think you had — though in your heart you really don’t want to be alone either.

NixBeat: What are you drawing from for the song “C’mon Liar?”

Faz La Rocca:  “Come On Liar” is the perfect B Side to “Grown Up Guy,” because it’s in the bad times that you discover who is real and who is fake, “Big smiles and big lies.” It’s about friendship, real or presumed.

NixBeat: Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the Italian government has enacted strict quarantine measures to limit the spread of the virus.  I saw that Faz La Rocca has been posting videos of himself playing songs like John Lennon’s “Isolation” via webcam. How have you been doing during the quarantine? 

Faz La Rocca: Yes, we do what we can to keep our minds busy while confined at home; playing some music, painting, reading, writing, and watching movies. Some people like me are still working during the day, but when I come home I need to do something that fills the void of no normal socializing.

NixBeat: What’s the mood like in Italy with the quarantine and how have people been coping with the stress.

Faz La Rocca: Northern Italy has been hit quite hard right now, the hospitals are fighting a big battle – they are heroes. Many people are dying and we’re not seeing the end of this yet. But Italy is strong, we’ll make it; we have a positive attitude,  we have faith in our national health service, and we follow all the directives for health security.

The world should learn from how we are living and stop underestimating this pandemic. We underestimated it when China was the only country affected because it looked so distant from us. Now it’s at a global level — what are we waiting for? Stay at home, stop all social contacts. It’s the only way to get through this, nobody is immune.

NixBeat: How has the Corona Virus Pandemic affected the music scene over there?

Faz La Rocca: The Coronavirus has totally affected the music scene. All the clubs are closed, no live shows, we can only play online from our home and all without getting paid. Many bands, clubs, and recording studios are dealing with financial issues due to the forced closure. So any help is appreciated by the bands, for example, you can buy  records and merch as long as the shipping services are in operation.

NixBeat: Faz Waltz’s new album Rebel Kicks is due to be released on April 20th, 2020. What can fans look forward to with the new record? 

Faz La Rocca: Yes, it will be released in April, pre-order is available now. For example on Rebel Kicks there’s fun as always but we also touch on some different topics. The album has some room for an introspective side too and it has a couple of very intense ballads as heard in the previous records. I love writing that pop oriented stuff.

NixBeat: Are you concerned about any delays because of the Coronavirus Pandemic? 

Faz La Rocca: No, there’s no sense in planning when dealing with this pandemic. We all have to live day by day and take all the good from this situation.

NixBeat: What plans does Faz Waltz have for the rest of the year?
Faz La Rocca: First of all, we just all want this period to end as soon as possible. Then we’ll see. We weren’t sure if we made the right move to release the album now — maybe we should have waited for a better time. But come on, life needs to go on. Even during and because of these difficult times, we’d like people to listen to our new album and feel carefree for a while. That’s what music is for! This is why I’ve been making music for all these years. We hope to put some smiles on your faces.

For more about Faz Waltz, check out their Facebook, Bandcamp and at their online shop!

The Boys Ranch

(L–R) Wren Kennedy, Samantha Dickens, Denney Fuller, Ian Francis and Conor Flynn. Photo: Matthew Hunter

On Nov. 16, SLUG Magazine presents SLUG Localized featuring The Boys Ranch, The Poppees and Say Hey at Urban Lounge. This evening will celebrate some of Utah’s finest surf, pop and rock n’ roll acts. Get ready to twist, shout and do the barracuda. SLUG Localized is sponsored by Uinta Brewing, High West Distillery, KRCL 90.9 FM and Spilt Ink SLC.

The Boys Ranch were founded by Denney Fuller and feature the talents of Wren Kennedy, Samantha Dickens, Conor Flynn and Ian Francis. Prior to forming the group, Fuller performed for years—including with Joshy Soul and The Cool—and has always carried a deep affinity for rock n’ roll, most notably for songs such as Sam The Sham and The Pharaohs’ “Wooly Bully” and The Ventures’ “Wipe Out.” Feeling electrified by these tunes, Fuller says, “They make me wanna get wild and run around the house.”

As a group, The Boys Ranch share a wide range of influences. Everything from The Clash to bossa nova, from Prince to The Beatles whet their creative appetites. Fuller says, “I really dig early rock n’ roll as well. Del Shannon, Roy Orbison, Bo Diddley and Little Richard are just great.” However, the band that prominently stands out for The Boys Ranch are The Kinks. “They are the blue-collar Beatles, in my opinion,” says Fuller. “They just have way too many dang good songs, and played exactly the way they wanted to play.”

Dig the full article on The Boys Ranch published by SLUG Magazine!!

The Poppees

(L–R) Cody Rigby, Moo Rudolph, Sully Swoboda, Andres Mitchell and Michael Cuenco. Photo: Matthew Hunter

On Nov. 16, SLUG Magazine presents SLUG Localized featuring The Boys Ranch, The Poppees and Say Hey at Urban Lounge. This evening will celebrate some of Utah’s finest surf, pop and rock n’ roll acts. Get ready to twist, shout and do the barracuda. SLUG Localized is sponsored by Uinta Brewing, High West Distillery, KRCL 90.9 FM and Spilt Ink SLC.

The Poppees were born out of the withering petals of The Artificial Flower Company and blossomed as a band refreshed, renewed but familiar to the senses. They breathe life into a new era of jangly indie rock by evoking a concoction of 1960s harmonious Monkees-esque tunes that warm their listeners with a fuzzy daze of sweetened-eggnog-induced psychedelia. Their music is perfect for a tonic lounge or dimly lit speakeasy. They are, however, not to be confused with the 1970s power pop group of the same name. These Poppees are Andres Mitchell, Cody Rigby, Moo Rudolph, Sully Swoboda and Michael Cuenco. Rigby says, “Like a plant that grows and loses its leaves, we, too, grew into what we are now.”

Read the full article on The Poppee’s published by SLUG Magazine!!

Reverend Beat-Man and Nicole Izobel Garcia perform in Salt Lake City

On April 22nd, Switzerland’s infamous Reverend Beat-Man will be playing the Garage on Beck with Nicole Izobel Garcia. They are touring the United States to support their new album Baile Bruja Muerto, released on Beat-Man’s label Voodoo Rhythm Records. The two will take their stage dressed as a reverend (Beat-Man) and a nun (Garcia). Not a reverend in the traditional sense, Beat-Man says, “Reverend comes from the German word Revereieren .That means I tell you a story, and I thought that’s pretty cool.” Much of their act is about presenting a striking image and a unique sound— aka Blues-Trash, a term coined by Beat-Man. It’s musical style that mixes the haunting sensations of garage-like-blues with surreal folk music. Garica says, “our voices are so yin and yang, but we are both very dark in our music and performance. If you got to know us you’ll see we are similar because we both have this dark side but are also quite angelic.”

Check out the full article on Reverend Beat-Man and Nicole Izobel Garcia published by Utah Stories.

INFLAMMABLE MATERIAL: JAKE BURNS OF STIFF LITTLE FINGERS

Photo courtesy of Stiff Little Fingers

Celebrating 40 years of roots-radical anthems, Stiff Little Fingers are still going strong. In 2014, they released their 10th studio album, No Going Back, through Pledge Music, and toured alongside Bad Religion and The Offspring, with a followup solo tour in 2015. According to vocalist and guitarist Jake Burns, being a career musician isn’t quite what he thought he’d doing in 2017. At a young age, Burns was attracted to bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin—but his tastes changed. “I grew tired of that once I realized the guitar wasn’t just for showing off,” Burns says. “The main reason I picked up a guitar in the first place was thanks to an Irish guitar player called Rory Gallagher, who at the time was spoken about in the same breath as Eric Clapton……”

Check out the full article published by SLUG Magazine!!

40 YEARS ON WITH X’S EXENE CERVENKA

X. Photo: Frank Gargani

2017 is the 40th anniversary of the punk movement. 1977 marked the year that the world bore witness to the emergence of bands like The Germs, Fear, The Bags, The Screamers, The Weirdos and, of course, X. These bands were pivotal in establishing this movement’s music and ideas, founded on a do-it-yourself ethic, individuality and honesty. Ahead of X’s Sept. 8 40th Anniversary Tour stop at The Complex, Exene Cervenka reflects, “I think punk was a really important movement socially because it was about individuality, freedom of choice and expression.”

Check out the full article published by SLUG Magazine!!

Back in the Day: Jeffrey McCloy of Fashionism

(Left to Right) Jeff McCloy , Josh Nickel , Alex Angel and Robin Schroffel.

Fashionism are easily one of the most exciting bands to come out of Vancouver, British Columbia. For a little over 3 years, they have been blasting out infectiously hi-energy power pop meets glam punk songs with catchy lyricism commenting on the changing importance of subcultures, wondering where the rock n’ roll girls have gone and the need for an early morning espresso. This group boasts members from many celebrated bands including Tranzmitors, The Jolts, The Orange Kyte and Newtown Animals—as well as the newly formed Night People. They are Jeffrey McCloy (vox) Josh Nickel (guitar) Robin Schroffel (Bass) and Alex Angel (Drums).  On July 18, Fashionism is set to play a stacked gig with Royal Headache and Needles//Pins at The Colbalt in Vancouver. Before they kick off, I chatted with Fashionism frontman and former Tranzmitors McCloy. We discussed his anglophile inspired lifestyle, subcultural inspiration, Fashionism’s singles, playing in Calgary, Alberta with Suicide Helpline and world domination.

NixBeat: Hi Jeffrey. To kick things off, how did Fashionism form?
McCloy:
Hi Nick… Joshy and I got it started together, it was conceived in between debating the cultural significance of records that nobody has ever heard. We had the name Fashionism before we had a band.

NixBeat: In a previous interview with beatroute.ca that was published on April 26, 2017, Josh stated “Subculture gave an identity and a space to people that were disenfranchised or looking for some sense of belonging. It had strict rules because it had to.” I was wondering if you could expand on the how identifying with a subculture is important and what rules Josh was referring to?
McCloy:
I never saw my relationship to subculture as one limited by rules, however, I will say that I made aesthetic choices with intent. This is what I suspect Joshy is referring to in that you made choices on how you wished to be perceived by others. In a way it’s like a simplistic micro versions of orientalism, you understand what you are by knowing what you are not.

NixBeat: You have a striking Mod style. I was wondering (if you do) why you personally identify with this sub-culture and how does it influence your daily life?
McCloy: 
I am a shameless Anglophile and I am perfectly happy with this. I grew up in Canada in a one generation removed family who were all from England and Ireland. It’s not always good to have me answer these band related type interviews for it is very easy for me to derail into very un- rock ’n’ roll territory— like me collection of Brown Betty tea pots. I will say I am very influenced by a number of British subcultures and mod, especially the 79 revival incarnation was indeed one of them. My personal fashion choices without a question pull from a mix of mod, skinhead and I guess you could call it 80’s football fashion or casual. As for how things influence my daily life? The football fashion shockingly also dictates my weekend schedule to get up at a disgusting hour to watch the morning matches. However, the drink and pub culture that goes along with many British subcultures has very little effect on my daily life. I grew out of 80’s North American skateboard/punk culture, so I train-wrecked when I was really young then dropped everything and haven’t really drank or gotten wasted for over 25 years now… I take that back, I do spend a lot of my social time with friends in the pubs. I just don’t drink. Hmmm…I may want to re-evaluate this plan.

NixBeat: You have quite the record collection. How has collecting records influenced your musical direction?
McCloy:
I don’t think collecting records has influenced my musical direction. Collecting records has mostly just impacted the wall space in my home and my personal financial stability. However collecting records has been the way by which I came to love and fully embrace music and everything that goes with it and without a doubt this has impacted my musical directions.

NixBeat: What about collecting records is important to you?
McCloy:
I feel connected to things through records. I realize this kind of logic is sort of hippy dippy however I am not sure how else to explain it. The records bridge the gap between time and space. This is why someone in 2017 could hear a record like the Jam All Mod Cons and feel a connection to it the same way someone did when it first came out. The record exists without the limiters of time. Records are important to me because it’s a way for me to be part of the story of that record just from having it and being a fan. Ok, I just read that answer back and it’s totally ridiculous but I can’t be bothered to come up with a new answer.

NixBeat: Have you come across any new finds that you are pretty excited about?
McCloy:
I get good records all the time, however, Joshy always makes me feel inadequate with my rarities because he deals in crazy KBD big money punk rarities. My money goes equally into my sewing studio, home recording studio, my obscene wardrobe and also record collecting. At the last record fair I found the Procession LP which is a cool psyche pop record from the late 60’s, I did get that Aces (post Menace) 45 recently, a really clean copy of the Crunch Let’s do it Again and the Boston Boppers Did you get what you Wanted. The new Jesus and Mary Chain records is getting a bunch of spins lately and I recently got Fear of a Punk Planet by the Vandals on LP which I had been wanting for years.

NixBeat: After spinning Fashionism records at my DJ nights, I can’t help but notice a theme of discontent with throwaway culture. I was wondering if you could tell me about what influenced the track “Subculture Suicide?”
McCloy:
Glad to hear Fashionism tracks are getting spun at dj nights! As for Subculture Suicide it’s just pointing out that we are seeing the social shift where subculture (At least the way they existed over the past 50 years being intricately linked with music and art) are no longer the predominant way by which identity and community are established. This by no means suggests subcultures are dead or only limited to older generations. However, their social significance has changed. If you are coming of age today you have more options to create community especially in the virtual world. So in the first question when you quoted Joshy in saying “Subculture gave an identity and a space to people that were disenfranchised or looking for some sense of belonging” Subculture Suicide does tap into that sentiment but also observes that in some cases we are seeing these subcultures run their course.

NixBeat: Also what are you drawing from with the newest song “Back In The Day?”
McCloy:
I am exactly of the age where you sit between the rise and fall of various social movements. Not quite old enough to have been part of the first wave of musical movements in the late 70’s and early 80’s while also being slightly older than the youth movements that took form in the early to mid 90’s. So if you are between 40 and 50 years old right now, you kind of got to be part of a string of musical movements all in stages of transition and evolution or decline. I find that people of this age group are the truest of fans and champions of the underground because they embraced these movements when they were really un-cool at least in relation to anything in the mainstream. You basically embraced punk and all of it’s offshoots after the major labels had bailed. The subcultures fractionalized and people were just part of the underground and were the weirdos before grunge and pop punk opened it up to the masses. Blah blah.. that didn’t really answer your question. This does though, by the later 2000’s you saw a lot of people from that first wave of punk start coming out of the woodworks and making claims about how things were better back in the day, give me break ok… blah blah blah….No one is denying that this musical movement wasn’t essential in setting the stage for the next 30 years of musical movements. However, we can all just bring it down a notch with all these people who all of sudden started decided they cared about going to shows again. It’s ok we can all do the math, you hooked up with someone got married in the early 80’s had a couple kids did that parent thing then the relationship fell apart after the kids left for collage, now you are single and in your mid 50’s early 60’s so you are going to show again. It’s great that you are older and going to rock’n’roll shows again just don’t bore me with stories of your youth and how important it was. I love hearing about rock ‘n’ roll debauchery and mythology but don’t try and sell someone on it’s importance. It should be said that things are not great just because they happened, they are great because of their relationship to other events or non-events in the context of history. The point is that “Back In The Day”… only means anything because of what followed.

The slightly lighter and more fun answer to the previous question would be that I love lyrics that tie themselves into other songs. The song was written to have no changes as such and just shift in key as the song progressed, kind of like something by The Fall. We absolutely did not accomplish this, but I do quite like the song.

NixBeat: Finally, what inspired “We Got It Wrong?”
McCloy: The idea behind this song was to have something similar to Cast of Thousands by the Adverts and once again like our attempt at something like the Fall this was not achieved. The lyrics for this song for sure came out of the courses I was taking in school that semester. I was just pointing out that the social constructs which establish how we determine our social norms came from a place of ignorance. My favorite line in the song is “If faith can be turned on and off than it’s already lost”. I went to this lecture once and the delivery almost felt like a Python skit. The lecture was about the spread of Christianity to the new world and was referring specifically to the Spanish and the English showing up and planting flags! There is actually a great Eddy Izzard skit about Imperial expansion from one of his comedy shows in the mid 90’s I think it was called Dressed to Kill… Anyways I love the way he says “Flags” I always imagine that my face looks like his when he says “Flags” in a sort of Frankenfurter kind of way. Sorry I rambled a bit there… The lecture pointed out that if one can have a belief system and then be shown a different one and be able to switch belief systems just like that, the switching of beliefs could go both ways. What I mean by this is that the expansion of Christianity was based in the notion that these pagan(non-Christian) belief systems could just be substituted out and replaced by Christianity. This was actually a pretty big philosophical debate in the west during the time of Imperial expansion. The suggestion that there is just a place in the mind where “faith” resides and you could just swap one for another…well this creates a problem when the Christian world is trying to hold it’s own against the Ottoman’s, the Chinese and India. What if you could just swap out Christianity and stick in something else…Anyways the balance of power shifted after the Industrial revolution but there was a couple hundred years where it was anyone’s game. Just to be clear everything that I babbled about is not covered in that song, but it sort of is.

NixBeat: Fashionism just played Calgary with Suicide Helpline. How did that show go?
McCloy: That band was something else, they were like a collision of 70’s glitter glam and ska, very odd but very fun to watch.

NixBeat: Are there plans to tour the United States soon?
McCloy: I imagine we will make a couple trips up the west coast this year, assuming the political climate between our two countries doesn’t totally erode and the borders shut down. However we do have a trip planned to the other side of Canada and we are doing a Scandinavian tour next spring!

NixBeat: Fashionism has released a number of singles; can listeners expect a full length record soon?
McCloy: There are actually a couple more singles coming out soon and all the records that are out of print will be released as a singles collection. However, we are in the process of getting a full record all sorted.

NixBeat: What does the future hold for Fashionism?
McCloy: World domination! The only answer any band should ever give to this question.

 

Fashionism have already released a string of singles and take it from me they are worth spinning. Need proof, check out my reviews of all the Fashionism’s records here.  For about Fashionism, visit them at their Facebook.

JET ROCK N’ ROLL: BLAST OFF WITH GUITAR WOLF

Photo courtesy of Guitar Wolf

At the age of 20, I was introduced to Guitar Wolf via their 2000 rock n’ roll zombie b-movie, Wild Zero. A year later, in 2011, I failed to catch them in Salt Lake City at the Urban Lounge. Luckily, I soon moved to the UK and saw them perform in Brighton, England, with The Ricky C Quartet in support. In that intimate venue, I was sold on Guitar Wolf. The show was an inspiring experience. These guys clearly lived and breathed everything that is rock n’ roll: It wasn’t an act or some shallow novelty— for these guys it was a lifestyle. They played dressed in their signature motorcycle jackets and lit the room up with an untamable fury. Since then, getting their records has been a priority, and watching Wild Zero, a yearly tradition.

For the soon to be initiated Guitar Wolf are the true—and perhaps among the last—embodiments of the hopeless romanticism that powers rock n’ roll. They blasted out of Nagasaki and onto the Japanese garage rock scene in 1987, around the same time as The 5,6,7,8’s and Teengenerate. They are a mix of the Ramones speed-like-intensity fused with the rockabilly nature of Link Wray, but with a defiantly Killed By Death punk attitude. Since forming, Guitar Wolf have released 14 studio albums, their most recent T-Rex from a Tiny Space Yojouhan in 2016. Throughout, their style has remained consistent. Their sound is nothing short of “Jet Rock n’ Roll’—a term they invented. It’s wild, raw and must be heard devastatingly loud.

2017 is Guitar Wolf’s 30th anniversary. They will be touring the States and landing in Salt Lake City on July 3 at Urban Lounge. Before we bear witness to their awesome fury, frontman Seiji talks rock n’ roll in Japan, their recent album, the “Shimane Ajet Festival” and Fabian Huebner’s new film, An Electric Fairytale, in which Seiji stars.

Dig the full interview with Seiji of Guitar Wolf published by SLUG Magazine!!

PUNK ROCK BOWLING & MUSIC FESTIVAL 2017

Cock Sparrer at Punk Rock Bowling 2017. Photo: Tyson Heder

Punk Rock Bowling: where everyone who attends is decked out in studs, leather and bristles. Here they come to congregate for a weekend of music-inspired debauchery. This festival attracts punk from across the globe, which includes the infamous Turbojugend, street punks, crusties, ageing rock n’ rollers, weekend warriors and everyone in between. Within the confines of the festival itself, paychecks and pocket money are spent at booths catering to all subcultural needs and wants—whether it be records from Tang or Radiation, pins and clothes or radical literature from PM Press or thisisindecline.com. There were also food trucks and drink stalls, where, for an arm and a leg, one can stay drunk, fed or hydrated depending on levels of sobriety and motivation.

Check out my full article on Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival 2017 published by SLUG Magazine!!