Since 2012 The Sellwoods have hoisted the black Cuban-heeled flag of garage rock revival. Based in Portland, Oregon, this group pounds 1960’s garage punk by blending it with hot rod, sizzled out fuzz driven rock n’ roll. Fans of The Fuzztones, The Gruesomes or The Cynics with find the Demented Planet EP well among like-minds. It’s not a surprise then that The Sellwoods have found a home with Chaputa Records. Like previous releases, this EP comes via this label which is renowned for garage punk catalogue. So, readers beware. this EP’s lives up to it’s deranged potential. It’s not be handled lightly.
While only four tracks, the Demented Planet EP boasts a furry of rabid, primitive punches. This is evident with tracks “Volcano Girl” and “Down In The Alley.” “Volcano Girl” has a kind of vacant, snotty vocal presence behind a prominent organ heavy presence. The latter is thanks to the guest contribution of The Reverberations own Dave Berkham. In contrast, “Down In The Alley” vaunts a wild sound that grabs a hold of it’s listener with the drop of the first note. It’s a kind of thriller tune that is sung from the perspective of a creeper-like figure waiting for a kill.
“Goldstar 500” follows up with some raucous hot rod garage. It’s simple and straight to the point. The title track “Demented Planet” celebrates The Sellwoods ability to knock out the savage beat. It’s haunted caveman nature begs a nod toward fellow rockers Screaming Lord Sutch or The Graveyard Five. For this reason, this track is perhaps the most exciting track on the EP and ought to be played uninhibited by the constraints of volume control.
The Sellwoods do not disappoint. I’ve enjoyed their material ever since catching them opening for The Jackets in February 2020. It would be amiss not to pay The Sellwoods their dues. Their composition is tight and fun. Furthermore, these rock n’ rollers know how to strip down that rock n’ roll down to the bare essentials and then turn around to seamlessly bash it into one’s skull. The Demented Planet EP is meant for lovers of the primordial noise of garage punk. So, get this record and give it a well deserved spin.
RMBLR’s new record is one of the most anticipated releases for 2021. For good reason too. Within it’s grooves contains the savage speed of punk with the depravity of trash derived glam rock n’ roll. It boasts a style nodding toward Dead Boys by playing on a familiar sonic devastation coupled with an equally snotty attitude. This concoction delivers the much need adrenaline shot to the pandemic overdosed heart. Which, is not surprising for a band made up with members from The Heart Attacks and Biters.
The first track on the MF/EP is “Machine Gun” and it is brutal in it’s excellence. Fast and heavy, it’s a song that leaves nothing but total devastation in it’s wake. It’s s got simple, yet catchy lyrics. However, what really exemplifies this tracks primordial nature is it’s Johnny Thunders-like riffs and Chase TailsStiv Bators-esque snarling vocals.
Perhaps my favorite track on this is “Hurricane Kiss.” This track immediately grasps hold of the unwary listener with razor wire riffs and a stomping beat. For me it demonstrates RMBLR’s signature take on barbaric rock n’ roll. It’s a superb assault on the senses. “Hurricane Kiss” should be played with impunity.
“Main Muscle” is a catchy song about the tenderness of one’s heart. This track is a mix between fast spitfire punk and the warmth of power pop. Without fail, this is the one track that will inspire a drunken sing along. Play this one for the feels.
The b-side celebrates the tracks “Tal’m Bout,” “Move Over” and “Get Ghost.” “Tal’ M Bout” infuses Atlanta’s punk rock n’’ roll with the Thunders-like glam style. Think of a mix between Streak and the New York Dolls. “Move Over” carries on similarly, but with a harmonious sound reminiscent of Biters meets The Black Lips kind of garage. “Get Ghost” concludes the album by bringing back the raw and raucous punk rock.
RMBLR are set to perform in Denver for RKR MTM RIPPER on the weekend on September 10th. This band lives up to the hype. They are a vital shock to the system that shouts out music ought to alive and well again. Fans of untamed, degenerate punk and rock n’ roll will easily find this record up their alley. This is not a release to dilly dally over. It should be picked up before it becomes scarce. The only other option to acquiring this release is to put one’s head through a window and bite bricks until they explode.
Hurtling back toward the planet Earth are fuzzy primitive garage duo The Sex Organs. The third rock from the sun hasn’t been the same since they released their phenomenally outrageous LP Intergalactic Sex Tourists through Voodoo Rhythm Records in 2017. It was a record that shook the fabric of decent society to it’s core. Unfortunately, over the last fours years, the Earth has seemed to lull into an era of un-sexiness. This is largely thanks to a pandemic that has wrought devastation to it’s four corners. Thankfully, The Sex Organs are back with their new 7” via their own label Orgtastic Records ,and they are here to stimulate the desperate lives of a post-covid world.
The A-side of this single does just that. This track is called “I Hate Underpants.” It’s a simple, fast and in your face. Possibly unabashed raw garage punk at it’s finest. This tune laments everything wrong with underpants. Whether it be because they never fit or even when these undergarments crawl up your ass. Clearly The Sex Organs hate them, and you the reader should too.
The B-side of this record is “Where’s My Dildo.” This song boasts the definitive reverberating vocals of thanks to miss Vagenta Dentata (Jackie Torea). Plus, it also invokes a nod to a Bo Diddly tune— who is aptly referenced in this song —thanks to the rhythm and bluesy riffs. “Where’s My Dildo” has a catchy chorus to sing along to. So reader, beware, soon you will have a song to help you find your lost your dildo — whether you have one, or not.
Fans of The Jackets or The Anomalys will find the Sex Organs next in line on their playlist. This particular record blends the simplicity of hardcore punk sensibilities with the sensationalized rhythm of primordial garage rock n’ roll. This is music not to be played at the highest volume level possible. For within these grooves are enlightened sexcitment message of the intergalactic Sex Organs ,and it’s not to be ignored. So drop the needle on this wax, and succumb to the urges to to get down, get dirty, hate your underwear and find your dido. Now pick it up.
Adam J Smith is the man of many talents. He is a celebrated musician, DJ, writer, promoter and now label owner. Smith currently plays bass for the reformed Newtown Neurotics and with the Motorheads of power pop Los Pepes. For almost two decades, up until its closure, he promoted concerts at the legendary venue The Square in Harlow Essex. As a DJ, he has worked with artists like Steve Diggle (The Buzzcocks) and The Rifles. He is also the diabolical mastermind behind the music site, Black Wax and hosts Lets Go! on Totally Wired Radio. Not only that, he launched the record label Black Wax Noise Division by releasing Chinese Junks Permanent Reduction EP in February 2021.
Originally, Black Wax started out as a regular way to share music. Since October 2020. it has been instrumental in promoting Let’s Go! and Black Wax Noise Division. Unlike other radio programs, Let’s Go! isn’t weighed down by nostalgia. Rather, it’s a show pursuing a modernist perspective by playing selections from contemporary artists continuing the evolution of punk, power pop, glam and garage rock. Although, one can certainly hear the occasional exception. Among the modern artists Smith has boasted in his repertoire, but not limited to, are Duncan Reid and The Big Heads, The Len Price 3, BBQT, Faz Watlz, Dead Meat and Muck And The Mires.
With a definitive buzz around Black Noise Division and Let’s Go!, the sky seems the limit for Smith. To learn more, I caught up with him over a digital pint. We chatted about promoting at The Square, playing with the Newtown Neurotics and Los Pepes, DJing, and what’s coming next with Let’s Go! and Black Wax Noise Division!
NixBeat: In March 2017, Black Wax started as a weekly radio broadcast and now exists as a 30-episode podcast. On the show you played rock n’ roll, glam punk and garage. What prompted you to start the show and why did it conclude?
Smith: Initially it was something to keep me busy after my music venue closed. I wanted an outlet for sharing music but didn’t want to rush straight into booking gigs at other venues. I’d always been interested in radio and the opportunity came up to get involved with a local community internet radio station. But, within a couple of months I had already introduced live music into the show and we did some great radio broadcasts with a small live audience with performances from Murray Torkildsen, Attila The Stockbroker, Paul Collins, Henri Herbert & The Fury, The Teamsters and Brandy Row. Unfortunately the station, and venue it was running from, closed altogether.
NixBeat: From 2001 until it’s closure in 2017, you were a concert promoter at The Square in Harlow, Essex. How did you get involved with The Square?
Smith: I did a 2 week work placement through school when I was 15 which turned into nearly 2 decades. I got involved in volunteering, my first job was handing out flyers at the end of the night. When the final punter had left the building I was given a free pass for the next gig. I would go along to the next gig and as soon as the band finished rush down to the door and start handing out flyers – and repeat. I was introduced to promoting by Des Wiltshire, Shane Hanmore and Martin Norris. They were very influential and encouraging and let me help them book bands and promote gigs. By the time I was 18 I was working shifts behind the bar, DJ in between bands and booking full bills of my own.
NixBeat: What are some of your favorite acts you’ve put on at The Square?
Smith: There are lots because there are different reasons. Musically some of my favourite bands to have booked and watched there are Swingin’ Utters, The Damned, Buzzcocks, Dogs, The Aggrolites, The Ordinary Boys, The Datsuns. There have been some bands who although musically aren’t something I’d normally listen to are great to work with so I have to mention Wheatus and DragonForce as some of the bands I enjoyed working with most. A special mention to The Jim Jones Revue. As far as I’m aware the only band who played as a ‘new’ band who have only every played to a sold-out crowd (3 times). Obviously, some of the bigger bands we had would sell out, and we had some local bands that would work their way up to sold out gigs, but The Jim Jones Revue played within their first couples of years and never played to an empty room there.
NixBeat: Since 2007 you’ve been playing with The Newtown Neurotics as their touring bassist. How did you get involved with them?
Smith: I met Steve [Drewett] whilst I was working at The Square and also in the local Virgin Megastore. I booked a Newtown Neurotics gig, ordered myself the CDs and became a fan. A mate and I used to do an acoustic covers duo and play “Living With Unemployment.” When The Square’s management at the time (local authority) were prohibiting the sale of alcohol Steve was booked to play a solo set on the bill of the last night with booze. Ever the opportunist, I offered mine and Dave’s services to back him on bass and drums respectively, so at the end of his set we got up and ran through a couple of songs with him. The next thing I know we’re rehearsing up a full set as we’ve got a slot on the Empress Ballroom stage at the next Rebellion festival.
NixBeat: You also play with the “Motorhead of Power Pop” Los Pepes. What prompted you to get involved with Los Pepes?
Smith: Los Pepes were the tour support on the final Jim Jones Revue show that I booked. I loved them as soon as a I heard the tracks on the promo CD I was sent. We became mates straight away and my mate Shaun ended up playing drums for them when their original drummer left. The bass player, Seisuke, lives in Japan, so when he returned home Shaun suggested me for the job. It’s a really good set up for me because Seisuke is still the band’s bass player. He writes and records with them, and will come over usually once a year to tour the latest release. And then when he’s back home I pick up the gigs and have done the odd recording and music video with them. It’s more of an international organization than your typical band set up. There’s no stopping it.
NixBeat: To celebrate Harlow’s musical history and community, Black Wax is involved with a project launching campaigns to preserve its history for its future. The first being a series of T-Shirts promoting Harlow’s rich musical past. What prompted you to get involved and how do you think preserving Harlow’s music history improves it’s future?
Smith: I’m a geek when it comes to stuff like that. I have a poster that my dad took off the wall when he saw Slade play the local college in 1972. Hawkwind (with Lemmy on bass), Dr Feelgood and The Pogues have played gigs on a bandstand we have in our town park, The Boomtown Rats and The Pretenders played the Odeon cinema in town, and everyone over a certain age will tell you they saw David Bowie at the Playhouse Theatre or Pink Floyd at the Birdcage.
More recently The Square hosted the likes of Del Amitri, Carter (USM), Blur (then known as Seymour), Supergrass, Coldplay, Biffy Clyro and George Ezra.
Even if it’s not music I listen to I think it’s important to acknowledge those bands coming to play in our town. The T-Shirt project is just a way to remind people of what used to happen and hopefully inspire people do more in the future. I’ve made some with gig posters and old record shop bag designs on them so far. I’m not short of material for them so hope to make more design available soon.
NixBeat: As a DJ, you’ve spun for numerous gigs, including The Rifles “No Love Lost 10th Anniversary Show at The Electric Ballroom in Camden and for Steve Diggle’s (Buzzcocks) album launch at the 100 Club in 2011. How did you get involved in these gigs?
Smith: Mostly by putting my hand up and saying ‘I’ll do that.’ My pal Greg was running the Electric Ballroom at the time and as soon as I spotted the gigs going in I dropped him a line. Another friend, Justin, was managing Steve Diggle’s solo stuff so asked me if I fancied playing at it. I’ve done further sets at both venues which is good, someone must have liked it! I’m often looking out for opportunities to get involved and play music to people.
NixBeat: What has been your favorite DJ performance to date?
Smith: An unusual one, this has to be a pub garden party I did in summer 2019, the last summer we were allowed out properly! A friend of mine had just taken over the kitchen there and was running a BBQ, and the pub were launching an outside bar. By no means the biggest audience I’ve played to, but the space was packed, the sun was shining and I played a loads of old r&b, soul, garage rock, 60s pop. Everyone had a great time and I really enjoyed playing that kind of stuff, am patiently waiting for when we can do it again.
NixBeat: You’ve got a collection of records that spans from genres like soul, garage rock, punk, glam and more. What are you looking for in a record when you add it to your set?
Smith: More recently when I buy singles it’s usually with a DJ set in mind. I wouldn’t say I’ve got a particularly large collection of any set genre, but I have a decent amount across different styles. I buy certain music depending on my mood, and usually an upcoming booking will see an increase in purchases. I’ve always got a list in my head of ‘missing essentials’ but I like to find them in shops instead of taking the easy way out and buying online – the pandemic has changed that habit a bit though.
Album wise though, I like to keep on top of new releases of bands I like whilst filling the gaps in old bands back catalogues.
NixBeat: During the early month of the Corona Virus Pandemic, you recorded several episodes of “Black Wax — Social Distancing.” During these sets you’d play choice cuts from your record box. Examples of tracks used included “Reptile Brain” by Imperial State Electric and “Interplanetary Craft” by Giuda. What kind of reception did you get from these broadcasts and did creating these mixes help alleviate stresses of the pandemic?
Smith: I got caught up in the live streaming hype early on in our lockdown over here, partly fueled by both mine and my sons birthdays being in the first week of lockdown (I was sent home from work to be locked down on my birthday). So I set up my decks and looked into the best way to get online and play records. The initial reaction was great, and I teamed up with a band called The Bonnevilles one night where I did a virtual DJ set ahead of their singer doing a live streamed solo performance – we shared each other’s streams amongst our friends and fans. Facebook wasn’t kind to live stream DJs but I managed to salvage the audio and they now sit as a few podcasts.
To be honest, the novelty wore off quite quickly for me and by the 3rd or 4th month in I wasn’t interested in doing much more – I do listen to others who do so though, and one of my faves is the weekly Chills & Fever show. They moved over to Mixcloud and will soon be coming up for a whole year of weekly live streams.
NixBeat: In October 2021, you launched Let’s Go! with Totally Wired Radio. This broadcast is a collaboration with Acid Jazz Records and Fred Perry Subculture. During each broadcast you focus on releases in contemporary garage rock, punk, glam and power pop within the last couple decades. Groups featured include Chinese Junk, The Exploding Hearts, BBQT, Faz Waltz and The Len Price 3. How did you get involved with creating this show and why do you focus on modern music?
SmithEddie Piller, the founder of Acid Jazz Records, lives just up the road from me. During one of the lifts of lockdown I was chatting to him in the pub and said if a slot was available, I’d love to do a show, especially without any gig bookings to focus on. He put me straight in touch with the station manager and she scheduled me into their Saturday programming which they were soon to be relaunching.
I see the show as an extension of my gig booking in that, whilst it’s easy to put on the likes of The Damned or The Buzzcocks and sell out the show, the real triumph is booking new bands and introducing them to a new audience, and the audience taking to them. I’ve done this a few times at a local pub, and had great responses for the likes of Thee Dagger Debs and Tommy & The Commies. So, I decided with the radio show that nostalgia would only get a look in if the band were doing something that made it current or relevant.
No-one needs me to play The Sex Pistols for them.
NixBeat: During each broadcast you read excerpts from reviews from several music journalist sources, including some from Nixbeat.com. What kind of criteria do you have for new material being submitted for Let’s Go!?
Smith: Anyone can submit something, am happy for anyone to get in touch, but I advise listening to a couple of shows first to see what we’re working with so as to not be offended if I don’t feel it fits. I like to hear from music journalists who concentrate on the kind of music I play, mainly because I like to hear the music myself. So, I made contact with a few people whose websites and magazines I look at anyhow – the show is definitely not all about me, I just have access to a great platform to share music I like and I enjoy getting recommendations from people I trust.
NixBeat: Where do you want to see Let’s Go! from here?
Smith: The first couple of shows featured interviews (Duncan Reid, Muck & The Mires) and I’d like to start scheduling more of those but to be honest I’m actually finding it a bit difficult talking to people because it currently all comes back to the pandemic. When things are lifted and we’ve got more tours and releases to talk about then I’ll get on it. I’ve been asked to compile a CD for the Jukebox at The Pipeline (the best rock and roll bar) in Brighton, which got me thinking that a Let’s Go! compilation or series might be a good thing. I don’t think anyone needs to see me on Let’s Go! TV any time soon – we look at screens too much anyhow.
NixBeat: In November 2020, Black Wax also launched its own record label. Your first release has been the Chinese Junk “Permanent Reduction EP,” which features members of The Griswalds, The Ulcers and The Unreleasables. What inspired you to start a label and what has the reception been like for your first release?
Smith: I’ve always wanted to do it, and it’s one of the positives that has come out of the pandemic. I think if we’d been through 2020 as normal, I’d have been too busy with gigs to look at this properly. As soon as I heard the Chinese Junk tracks, I knew I wanted to do something with them. I’d been speaking to a few bands and they were just ready to go first. The responses has been great – I’d no idea what to expect really, and no idea of how many we’ll sell. With a non-existent marketing budget we’ve done enough pre-orders for me to think it’s all worth it. Just patiently awaiting them to arrive any day now so I can start sending them out!
NixBeat: With so much going on, what does the future hold for Black Wax?
Smith: Gigs – I hope! That’s my main passion. I want to get back in the pubs and clubs putting bands on, and playing myself, but I’m not going to rush into it. I’ve no patience now for postponing/cancelling events so I’m going to wait til nearer summer to see what’s going to be possible towards the end of the year. The second release is lined up for the label and should be announced very soon. I’d love to be able to do a Black Wax records showcase gig with the bands I’m putting out.
On Easter Saturday, April 3, and Sunday, April 4, KUAA 99.9 FM will host New City Movement’s 11th Annual ‘Bunny Hop,’ in association with SLUG Magazine, Garage on Beck, FICE Gallery, and Randy’s Records.
The socially distanced celebration will feature community DJs with a Saturday night pre-party – leading into a day-long Easter Sunday music marathon helping to raise awareness of local non-profits through music.
Descending from Berne, Switzerland are the Honshu Wolves. They are Maryanne Shewolf, Fabu and Mige. Since 2007, Honshu Wolves have been expanding the minds of their listeners with their signature delta space blues. They have enjoyed their previous releases through Moi J’Caonnasi and Sacred Hood Records. Their new album Cosmic Creature Capture has been released through Voodoo Rhythm Records. It’s music blending the sounds of the desert gospel with the haunting sensations of devotional soulful psychedelia. It’s a style that spiritually uplifts it’s listener with an absolute cool and charming demeanor.
Admittingly, this isn’t this is not kind or rambunctious blues one could normally expect from Voodoo Rhythm Records. It delightfully stands on it’s own. Cosmic Creature Capture is a spacey, bluesy concoction that finds it’s own place within a label with an already storied catalogue. The distinction though is the Honshu Wolves music is like an angel to joyously distorted voodoo sounds of the devil.
Cosmic Creature Capture starts off with “Something’s In The Air.” It’s a great introduction to the feeling of the album. This track warms up gradually with groovy fuzzed out folk blues instrumentals. However, when intertwining with Shewolfs distinctive vocals the song really take off. It’s like listening to melody’s that are just above the clouds, but just under the stars.
In contrast to the opening track, “Won’t Let Fear In” reveals a painful, vulnerable nature. Shewolf explores the feelings of being overwhelmed by relationship insecurity. It’s akin to duel of where one’s heart exposed to uncertainty while in the immersion of passion or loss to. or those who have felt such sensitivity or heartache, this tack might bring up the feels.
Songs like “Last Night” and “Goddess” share a likeness in manner with “Won’t Let Fear In.” Each song superbly demonstrates Shewolf’s piercing vocals. Her delivery is fiery and impassioned. Coupled with the heavy instrumentals, it feels like the absolution and desperation of Honshu Wolves delta space blues is truly upon you.
My favorite track on Cosmic Creature Capture is “Come Closer.” It’s a track comes from the same vein as Alan Vega’s Suicide. This approach manifests itself thanks to its slow, hollow tempo. Furthermore, it distills the familiar characteristic of an overpowering sense of euphoria. Because of this, “Come Closer” is a great song to close out this record.
Fans of the outer worldly sounds of Spaceman 3, PJ Harvey or Spiritualized will find Honshu Wolves’ Cosmic Creature Capture among like minds. Beware, it’s bewitching to the ears. It’s a cosmic trip that demands only the most lucid. Within the grooves of this record are sounds offering a heavenly feel of blues beckoning toward something serenely spiritual. So, when listening to Cosmic Creature Capture, be sure to simply let go when droping the needle on this record. The gospel sounds of the delta space blues await.
Chinese Junk is a punk rock super group formed by members of The Griswalds, The Ulcers, and The Unreleasables. They are Ben Nuthink, Steve Legend and Daz Reject. Their debut release Permanent Reduction EP was recorded in during a short session in a practice room and it sounds adequately as raw. It’s fast, rambunctious, snotty and borders on the ridiculously simple nature of an early Ramones record. In other words, it’s the perfect noise to accompany the bashing about of guitars, bass and drums while guzzling budget pizza and beer.
The first track “Cheaper Than You” perfectly demonstrates Chinese Junk’s dedication to the affinity of rabid riffs and smug defiance. The tracks starts out the classic shout out with a “1,2,3,4,” before swallowing it’s listeners with their unabashed junk food rock n’ roll. Think the speed of the Ramones with the nihilism of Dead Boys or Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers.
The tracks “Best Before Date” and “Saturday Job” both capture a similar adolescent style. However, my favorite track is “Bargain Bin Girl.” This one is fast and upbeat with a kind of flattery for the missed connection at the charity shop. So, if you ever needed a punk song that sums up falling for the thrifty girl at your local second hand shop, then this track is for you.
The Permanent Reduction EP is the first release of the newly established Black Wax records. This label was started during the tail end of 2020 and is seeking to put out new and exciting punk and rock n’ roll acts. It’s fair to say that Chinese Junk captures the quite familiar approach to punk rock. Their songs waste little time on formalities and get straight to the point—and that’s what makes them fun.
Although there are currently a lack of live performance to witness, playing Chinese Junk’s Permanent Reduction EP obnoxiously loud comes close and is recommended. Under the right conditions, listeners can thrash around the living room, dodging beer cans and greasy fast-food boxes, as if they were at a gig. So remember the good times, pick this record up from Black Wax and give it a spin.
Suicide Helpline are the perfect band for the modern world. They are unapologetically honest and critical of society’s moral and social decay. This awareness is reflected in the quality of their lyrics and music. It’s a style that effortlessly blends the attitude of late 70’s punk by mixing it with post-punk sensibilities and coupling the flair of glam, but with the infectious pick up of two-tone ska. Other groups that are link minded are The Clash, The Stranglers and Newtown Neurotics.
Suicide Helpline released their latest album Re:Generation in June 2020. Much like their previous release Pink Jazz in 2016, this album continues their deceleration of punk-fueled rebellion against a world plagued by apathy and despair. Songs like “I’m So Sick Of This Generation,” “Don’t Really Want To Die,” and “Live In Poverty” brilliantly demonstrate these ideals.
Unfortunately, it would seem Re:Generation found itself ill-fated to be released during the Covid 19 Pandemic. Like many groups worldwide, Suicide Helpline has been affected by the collapse of musical entertainment and the subsequent health mandated restrictions. The result is Suicide Helpline has not performed since March 2020. To find out how they’ve been coping since Covid 19 spread across the world I caught up with Logan and Kevin. We chatted about their new album Re:Generation, playing shows and life during the Pandemic.
NixBeat: Suicide Helpline started as a one band recording project. After releasing the debut album Ready To Die in 2013, the band took shape in 2015. What inspired the creation of Suicide Helpline?
Logan: It was part of a series of projects I was doing at the time, different bands doing different time periods of music. Suicide Helpline was obviously ’77 Punk, and it caught on the most with people I knew who were interested in live music.
NixBeat: Suicide Helpline boasts various styles of 1970’s influenced punk with the glitter from glam rock, while adding some heavy post punk sensibilities. What are you all drawing from to create Suicide Helpline’s sound?
Logan: Well it was unintentional at first, the term “glam punk” didn’t come about until after our first album Pink Jazz was out. We were just trying to make honest original classic punk music, uninhibited by the ’90s. But we noticed some Bowie and things bleeding through though accidentally, which is my fault as a songwriter.
NixBeat: When I’ve messaged Suicide Helpline through Facebook, your automatic message advertises imalive.org. Can you elaborate on what that site is and why you are supporting it?
Logan: It’s 24 hours and always has someone to actually talk to. That seems essential for someone looking for an actual outlet. We wanted to make sure that anyone looking for live support in an actual crisis had it, that is very important to us.
NixBeat: Suicide Helpline released Pink Jazz on April 25, 2017. The cover art of Pink Jazz invokes the image of a hand that has been recently sexually stimulating a vagina. Is that intentional and if so, what prompted this particular imagery?
Logan : The image was shot before the album title was chosen. I had the idea for the picture and then pitched it to the band as an album cover and we came up with the album title from there. Honestly though, it was only supposed to upset your parents like classic punk album covers always seemed to try to.
NixBeat: One of my favorite tracks from Pink Jazz is “Welcome To The Rest Of Your Life.” I found it to be a bit foreboding and describing a monotonous life of privilege. What are you drawing from for this track?
Logan: That was written in the middle of the White Guilt Crisis of the mid-2010s, which I think was a very important step for society. I wanted so badly to shut up, but that song is what happened instead. It ended up being a pretty honest and bleak portrait. I’m not proud of it.
Logan: Is it ok to say that war is ‘antiquated’? Is that acceptable to say in America?
NixBeat: On June 7, 2020 Suicide Helpline released Re:Generation. What was working on this album like and how has the reception been to it?
Logan: Releasing an album in the middle of the worst health crisis in modern history has been a terrible idea. We sold less than 10 copies of the album. Working on it was fun though, we recorded it before anything had happened and the sessions had a very ’70s feel to them, we recorded a lot of it live off the floor.
NixBeat: The track “I’m So Sick of This Generation” seems pretty straight forward song. It laments a certain frustration towards a specific generation. What inspired this song?
Logan: I’m really worried that this song brought ABOUT the health crisis. I think I wished the world away. I’m honestly really sorry if that’s the case. If I wrote this now, it would be called “I Really Miss My Generation”. Making this music video as four individual people trapped in their own houses was an adventure though.
NixBeat: The track “Live In Poverty” has a kind of definitive SKA pick up to it. It’s a song that seems oddly appropriate for many people dealing with the consequences of the Covid 19 Pandemic. What are you drawing from “Live In Poverty?”
Logan: Yeah maybe that is way more relevant now, but at the time it was merely about abandoning wealth and stability, in exchange for art.
NixBeat: A particular favorite track on Re:Generation is “Don’t Really Want To Die.” Despite the name of this track It’s got a kind of upbeat feel to it that comes heavily from its’ SKA infused with punk sound. What’s the background with this song?
Logan: This song seemed way too positive and upbeat almost, but I’m glad it’s included at the end of the album. It provides much needed levity to an otherwise very heavy downward spiral of subjects. And especially since we released this album during the health crisis, this seemed like a good choice.
NixBeat: Suicide Helpline has played with numerous groups over the years. Who has been your favorite group to play with and why?
Kevin: Opening for Stiff Little Fingers was surreal. Those shows still feel like a dream to me. Playing with Laurice was an absolute riot, it was inspiring to see him in his 70s still being his strange and wonderful self. Mad Caddies were a ton of fun, and it was a trip hearing from 90s-punk dudes in the crowd about how much our tights and makeup threw them off. Teenage Bottlerocket, Fashionism and The Jolts were some other highlights … I feel like I’m just namedropping now, but it’s a hard question.
Honestly, some of the funnest shows were the Rockin’ 4 Dollars nights at Buckingham in Edmonton. They’d have a bunch of bands play short sets with covers, so we really got to let loose and the crowds were great. We did tribute sets as the New York Dolls and the Stooges, and also covered songs by NOFX, The Chemical Brothers, the Proclaimers, the Chats and Cyndi Lauper.
NixBeat: How has the members of Suicide Helpline dealt with the Covid 19 Pandemic?
Kevin: I moved to a farm in BC. I really miss practicing and performing, but we hadn’t jammed since March because of the restrictions, so I don’t know how much physical location matters anymore. I think, like all performers, we’re figuring out how to adjust to a world without sweaty clubs and sing-alongs. But we did the “I’m So Sick Of This Generation” video in total isolation as Logan mentioned, and he turned that into a really unique piece of art. So I have hope that we can work on more virtual projects in creative ways.
NixBeat: The Covid 19 Pandemic has affected artists and venues alike. With many closing and artists unable to preform. How has the pandemic affected the music community in Edmonton, Alberta?
Logan: It has disassembled our local music scene for the foreseeable future. All venues are closed and currently people are isolated to houses and unable to play music together. We’re hoping recorded music somehow keeps our small scene alive.
NixBeat: What’s coming up next for Suicide Helpline?
Logan: Well hopefully by the time this pandemic is over, music will have in some way restructured itself or be in the process of a brave new frontier, post-apocalypse. We’d love to be a part of the rebuilding, but right now, we have no idea what the future looks like.
2020 has been quite the odd year. During a normal time, I’d usually be doing more write ups, but this year has been a bit turbulent. There’s been an Earth stopping pandemic, protests, elections and more. The result of all of this has had a considerable effect on musicians, DJ’s, creatives and artists across the world. Not to mention the clubs and venues in which they performed in.
Indeed, there is no certainty for when life will return to a sense of pre-pandemic normalcy. Hopefully, the favorite haunts of memorable concerts will still be around, and there will be dance halls for those fond of the twist and pogo to congregate at again. Only time will tell.
However, despite these wild and unpredictable events, the music manages to live on. This year still saw releases by many notable artists. Almost too many to count. For 2020, I have chosen the records by Faz Waltz,Bad Nerves, The Speedways, Jacob T Skeen and Worst Horse as my top 5 releases for this year. Enjoy!
Faz Waltz — Rebel Kicks
Since 2007, Faz Waltz have been releasing hit maker records meant for another era. Each one of their new albums are tighter than the last. However, their 7th album Rebel Kicks is the Crème de la crème. Released on a pandemic ridden world this is music that uplifts and provides a much needed relief. Within this records grooves fans will hear the familiar influences of T-Rex and David Bowie glam twisting the night away with late Beatles inspired rock n’ roll. Rebel Kick’s superbly demonstrates Faz Waltz’s maturing style and masterful pop-sensible hooks that makes their unique take on a 1970’s inspired rock n’ roll sound.
Admittedly, I did not provide a write up for the Bad Nerves record. No doubt about it though, something about this record stuck like glue. Upon hearing the tracks on this release there is no shame by suggesting that it blew apart my rock n’ roll world. These cats do what The Briefs did, but faster and with an impressively infectious intensity that few can dare match. This is the kind of music that jumping about like an idiot mixed up on a cocktail of formal one fuel is made for. If you like it was razer sharp riffs, high voltage vocals and of course electro-centric punk infused power pop, Bad Nerves are essential for you. Top tracks for consideration are “Baby Drummer,”“Can’t Be Mine,” and “Dreaming Boy.”
The Speedways — Radio Sounds
NixBeat: What was the process like writing and recording Radio Sounds? How was it different than the work you did with Just Another Regular Summer?
Matthew: A fair few of the songs on Radio Sounds I’d already written around the time of Just Another Regular Summer. I also dug into my song book for older tunes like “This Aint A Radio Sound” and “Good Girls Don’t Break Hearts” ..then there were new songs that I wrote as a response to the first album – “In A World Without Love It’s Hard To Stay Young..,” “Daydreaming,” “Brown Eyes Look So Blue..,” “This Is About Girl Who Loves The Sun” etc.. So the writing process was more varied than the first record. Obviously with it being a full band this time there was a collaborative effort in terms of arrangement and individual parts which definitely gave the songs more of a band vibe than before. It’s much more satisfying as a song writer to hear other musicians play and interpret your stuff than to do everything yourself. It makes such a difference. Everyone contributed brilliantly in the studio too (including Jez who produced the album). I enjoyed making it & working with everyone. It turned out really well. A step up in quality for sure.
Jacob T Skeen — Death, Thou Shalt Die
Listeners of this record ought to be warned that it is not uncommon to feel a staggering malevolence, as though the cold hand of death has drifted over your heart and into your soul. The first track, “Elizabeth Felt Payne” captures this essence by luring the unwary listening into the depths of the demented. It’s defined by the wailing razor sharp riffs and Skeen’s booming vocals. This is distorted doom blues at its finest.
The album as a whole is a trip. It’s got the psychedelic notions that with under the right conditions will evoke a out of mind experience. Songs like “Let The Pain In” carry on the introspective nature that defines this work. It’s mellow, but subtly provoking. This is the same with the track “House of Bees.” Though in contrast, this song has more of the dissociated feel that is also found in Worst Horse.
There’s something impressively enamoring about Duncan Reid and The Big Heads. They boast a definitive, yet familiar vein. Their new record Don’t Blame Yourself blends power pop with punk sensibilities by twisting it into a definitive pub rock sound. That being said, this isn’t adolescent rock n’ roll. It’s music that is well refined and remains consistently engaging throughout. Fans of Reid’s previous ventures will find a home with this record. Especially if they like The Boys or even Eddie and The Hot Rods.
When picking this album up, it’s important to approach it with an open mind. It’s not suffering from the plague of mediocrity. Duncan Reid And The Big Heads are not just another Ramones-influenced rock group. They have years of experience that explore a remarkable depth of style.
The theme of Don’t Blame Yourself seems to be one of coming into a sense of maturity if not a sense of impending mortality. This is demonstrated by many of this records tracks emphasizing a certain reflection toward life lived and lost. Some tracks like “Oh What A Lovely Day” celebrate power pop melody’s coupled with calming, yet ruminative lyrical properties. Other songs like this are “Came The Day,” and “Dave.”
Many of their tracks have an upbeat nature to them and are arguably infectious to the ears. This is mostly true with tracks like “Your Future Ex Wife,” “To Live Or Live Not” and of course the ever so charmingly titled “Motherfucker.”
Singing along to this record isn’t required, but it’ll be hard not to do after some pint-sized liquid courage. This is particularly true with “Motherfucker” and “To Live Or Live Not.” The former has the fun and catchy chorus derived from the title of the track. Besides, who doesn’t want to sing “motherfucker” at the top of their lungs?
The latter, “To Live Or Live Not” is a track starts out strong and grips you. This is arguably thanks to Reid’s catchy word smithing ,and the tracks prominent chugging riffs. Not to mention it’s power pop driven with certain harmonies that stick with you like glue. It’s only three minutes long, but the smoothness of it’s delivery makes “To Live Or Live Not” feel short and sweet.
The title song “Don’t Blame Yourself” is easily my favorite track on this record. It’s a true and blue punk rock n’ roll tune. This is thanks to the bluesy rock driven riffs that give “Don’t Blame Yourself” a definitive edge. It’s very reminiscent of something TV Smith later work encompasses. Another track like this is “Little Miss Understood.”
In Don’t Blame Yourself, listeners will find a range to work with. One moment it’s a tune to groove to, the other a song that invokes strong memories and emotions. This release seems oddly appropriate for this year. This is because 2020 is a year representing a challenge and shock to the normalcies of day-to-day life.
While surely recorded pre-covid 19, Don’t Blame Yourself is almost perfect for the slowness of today’s reality. After all, an album exploring a mid-life crisis is apt for anyone coping with the turbulence of 2020. Nevertheless, be sure to check out Don’t Blame Yourself. It’s good and ought to be listened to.