Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What Does An Old Punk Do When He's Not In A Band?

Last July a local small art gallery put the call out for someone to give a lecture on Punk Rock. Word filtered through the scene and I stepped up and said "sure, I can do that".
I met with the gallery curators and we hashed out some basic ideas as to what they were looking for and what I could provide.  The meeting ended on a very positive note with everyone excited for the presentation.

And then the enormity of the project hit me and I started to freak out a little bit. How does one explain the entire history of Punk Rock in an hour? I thought of about 374 different tangents to go off on. The theme of the exhibit was "Expletive", so at first I thought about just running down all the obnoxious bands that were just out to shock old ladies (Pork Duks, GG Allin, Meatmen, Chaotic Dischord, etc), but quickly realized I would probably be the only person who knew what I was talking about and that wouldn't have been fun for anyone.  Then I thought I would just do a history of the Minneapolis scene, but again I would have to bring up bands that were so obscure no one would be able to track anything down to actually hear what I was talking about (Skull Fuck, Library Police, Blissful Discharge).
Finally I decided to do what I do best and just wing it.  I had 8 weeks to prepare and what did I do? Go to the bar the night before and come up with a few bullet points I wanted to hit, and then just let my mouth run on auto-pilot.  I mean, this is a subject that I have been asked about for 20 years, and like all the bands I have been in, it was attitude over ability.

I was also asked to have some music playing in the background to help illustrate what I was talking about. Here is playlist I came up with, in rough chronological and geographical order:

Song Title                                     Band
Personality Crisis                         New York Dolls
Faster & Louder                           The Dictators
Blitzkrieg Bop                              The Ramones
Sonic Reducer                              Dead Boys
Kids Just Wanna Dance '79           Fast
Break It Down                               Testors
Ghost Rider                                 Suicide
Just Me (I Wanna Be Me)             Sex Pistols
1977 (Demo)                                The Clash
New Rose                                    The Damned
Hanging Around                            The Stranglers
Ready Steady Go                         Generation X
When The Tanks Roll Over Poland Again     Automatics
Get Your Woofing Dog Off Me        The Jerks
Hotwire My Heart                          CRIME
I'm Stranded                                The Saints
Suspect Device                            Stiff Little Fingers
Let There Be Noise                      Dum Dum Boys
Riding On The 262                       PVC
Cry For Fame                              Dieter Meier
Profit                                           EbbaGrön
Silex Pistols                                 Too Much

Friday, March 9, 2012

Clinical Psychosis: 1991- 1991

This is how I remember it:

After I quit IRON FIST in the summer of 1990 I was pretty discouraged with playing in bands.  While my time in Iron Fist was amazing I was fed up with all the bullshit that went along with playing; dealing with clubs, bands, fans, etc. I was ready to pack it all in and just be a working stiff.

I kept my job driving the courier van as it was a cake gig and a nice drive through the countryside every day.  I was enjoying the company of my girlfriend and our cat, and all the cockroaches that seemed to inhabit our apartment above the Asian grocery store.

After about 6 months I started to get antsy as far as bands went, and the demos I was cutting on my little Fostex X-15 4-track weren't satiating my need.  But I was still fed up with the bullshit that being in a band required.  I decided to forgo rock and roll all together and just make primal guttural noise. I booked myself into the 7th Street Entry for New Band Night under the name "Clinical Psychosis", a variation on the name Chlamydia Psychosis that Billy and I had tentatively used in our pseudo-goth band in 1987.  The plan was to go onstage with 3 guitars, two of them without strings, just leaning against the amps and feeding back through various stomp boxes, me making noise on the remaining guitar and just screaming primal into the microphone.  Catharsis through volume and screech.

I had no songs, nor did I want any.  I had no idea if lyrics were actually going to play a part, or if it was just going to be grunts and groans.  All I knew was that I was going to annoy as many people in my allotted 25 minutes as I could, the only goal was to clear the room and exorcise the demons that haunted me.

With the date set I called my off-and-on partner in crime, BILLY, to tell him of the news.  While he didn't seem to get the idea behind the concept, he understood that this was something I wanted to do and gave me his support.

About 4 weeks before the proposed debut Billy phoned up and said that he had just bought a drum machine and wanted to know if he could accompany me with said drum machine at the Clinical Psychosis debut.  I reminded him that it was supposed to be noise, no actual rhythms or beats were allowed, but if he wanted to just sit there and pound out incoherent drum noises he was more than welcome.

The next weekend Billy phoned to tell me that he met a guitar player who wanted in on the noise fest. Again, I reminded Billy that there was to be no music at all, just feedback and wailing.  If his new discovery was OK with that then I said the more the merrier.

A few days later Billy phoned again to tell me that he and the guitar player, Giovanni, were psyched for the gig and they had actually written a few songs for the show.  I was hesitant, but invited them over to my apartment to give the songs a cursory listen, all the while worrying that my original idea of cathartic white noise was slipping away.   Billy and Gio showed up a few hours later with drum machine and guitar. I talked the manager of my apartment building into letting us set up a few small amps in one of the empty apartments and listened to what the other guys had to offer.

The songs weren't bad, but they were actual songs.  As in structure. Chords. Melody. Rhythm.  The whole shebang.  Seeing how excited they were about what they had created, and getting a wee bit swept up in their enthusiasm, I agreed that we would use my night in the 7th Street Entry as the debut of a fully-formed and somewhat-functioning Industrial-Metal / EBM band called Clinical Psychosis.  They already had music for about 3 songs, and over the course of the next three weeks we wrote and rehearsed a set's worth of material.  I recycled some lyrics from aborted Iron Fist songs, Billy and I adapted a few of the Chlamydia Psychosis songs into the fold, and I wrote words to the songs Billy and Gio had originally brought in.

Like a lot of gigs that I have played I have no recollection of the first show.  This is not down to having been chemically altered as I did not partake in those types of activities at that time.  Also, it was 21 years ago and I don't remember much from that time period.  We must have been a hit as we were booked to play another show shortly after.  And another and another and another.  We played in The Entry about once a month at least, sometimes more.  At the time there were really only two "legitimate" venues in Minneapolis, The 7th Street Entry and The Uptown Bar. Not unlike the NYC rivalry between CBGB's and Max's Kansas City, you were either an Entry band or an Uptown band. There were very few bands that were allowed to grace both stages, but Clinical Psychosis was not one of them. We were happily an Entry band and played there as much as we could.

In the ensuing weeks we had become a real band, with a regular rehearsal schedule and all.  Gio's parents were kind enough to allow us to practice in their basement, and that became our haven for creating this new sound.  Billy soon became the creative force behind the band, dictating the direction of the music and the lyrics. He was strongly influenced by the Industrial Metal of the day; Ministry's "Land Of Rape And Honey" and "A Mind Is A Terrible Thing..."  and Nine In Nails debut "Pretty Hate Machine" as well as most of the Wax Trax catalog.  Although a far cry from my original idea of noise for noise's sake I let Billy take over the band and run with it. I booked most of the shows and did the flyers and t-shirts, Gio became the sex symbol of the group, and the main reason we developed a sizable female audience. Songs came fast and soon we had enough songs that we had to choose what to leave out at the gigs we were playing.

We were also attempting to record ourselves on my Fostex 4-track but with very lackluster results.  Billy was working at Super America with this kid Paul. Paul had a better 4-track recorder than me, and offered to try to cut some demos for us. I have no idea how it was done, but between Billy and Paul they were able to get many more than 4 tracks out of his machine (maybe it was an 8-track?) and with a lot of hard work on their part we walked out of there with a pretty good sounding recording.  We made a few copies of this demo and passed it around to bookers and clubs, and a few of the faithful followers.  Joe Fritz of INDUSTRIAL NATION fanzine did some amazing sleeve art for the tape and was probably responsible for at least part of it's success.

More shows followed, including our only out-of-town gig playing with fellow Mpls industrial band Tool And Die at O'Kay's Corral in Madison Wisconsin, where I proceeded to kill all the power to the stage by jumping up David Lee Roth-style. When I landed back on the stage it somehow triggered the circuit interrupt on the power amps and everything went silent.  The amps had a timer on them and would not reset for what seemed like forever, but was probably only about 5 minutes.  Sadly, when everything was back up and running, our MIDI connection was corrupted and nothing was in synch.  We soldiered through the set and finished to polite applause from those brave enough to sit through our shambolic performance.

The only other show of note that I remember is being asked to play a cameo set (usually only 3 or 4 songs) in the First Avenue Mainroom for their Halloween party.  The place was sold out and we played in front of about 2000 people, all of whom seemed to really enjoy what we were doing.  Slots opening for bands such as COP SHOOT COP and FOETUS cemented our status as a real and legitimate band of the small genre.

The old excuse of "musical differences" arose and Giovanni left to play with a Wax Trax band called BRAINDEAD SOUND MACHINE, and then a NYC funk outfit called Sir Real, before reinventing himself as the mustachioed troubadour DIABLO DIMES.

Billy found another, even flashier guitar player in the form of Mr. Dez Traci. We had a few rehearsals with Dez but it was obvious the sound wasn't working and we decided to call quits to Clinical Psychosis.  We played our first show in late January of 1991 and our last show in early February of 1992.  Almost a year exactly, with a great demo, some amazing shows, and a cadre of fans to show for it.  It was fun while it lasted.

And if you want to READ BILLY'S ACCOUNT of the band you can do it HERE

And you can GRAB OUR SIX-SONG DEMO here.

1. Pain Has Taken Control
2.  Sucking Energy
3. Festival Of Rats
4. Fifth Horseman
5. Scissorman
6. Satisfaction (live 7th St. Entry)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ollie Stench: Reluctant Movie Star

This video was posted on youtube a while back, and all of a sudden it blew up on the facebook pages of several people in the Twin Cities area.

Take a gander at it, especially around the 12:46 mark. You'll see a young punk rock couple walking from the center to the right hand side of the frame.  After careful scrutinization, and emails from a handful of friends, it has been deduced that that is none other than myself and the lovely Miss Emma Rotgut. You'll notice I am carrying a bag of records in this film.Some things never change.