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.
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.
Since 2018, The Speedways have serenaded rock n’ rollers blinded by the lure of hopeless romanticism. These anthems of youthful heartache are inspired by Matthew Julian’s experience with a “beautiful girl.” Subsequently, this music is brought to life by with the infectious nature of a late 1970’s punk sound twisting into the warm embrace of the forever longing and an ever personal power pop style. This masterful composition approach falls directly in line with groups like Protex, The Nerves, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and even The Ronettes.
The Speedways were originally envisioned as a one off solo project. Their first record Just Another Regular Summer was written and recorded by Matthew Julian, with the help of Dec Burns. The definitive power pop sounds that came from Just Another Regular Summer (released May 27, 2018) quickly gained notoriety. Matt was soon asked by Mauro Venegas to perform for his Some Weird Sin’s special event Power Pop Weekender in 2018.
To make the performance a reality, Mauro, Adrian Savio and Kris Hood joined the band. Over the last couple years The Speedways have performed countless gigs, toured and recorded new material. They have released three singles and the highly anticipated follow up to Just Another Regular Summer, Radio Sounds, on June 29, 2020.
While Radio Sounds was well received critically, The Speedways were unfortunately unable to celebrate the release because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Despite the setback, The Speedways remain vigilant and have enjoyed popular attention to their records.
On October 17, 2020, The Speedways made a special appearance for Some Weird Sin’s 8th Anniversary Party at Paper Dress Vintage. However, after a lockdown order was put in place, that performance may be their last for 2020. To find more about how The Speedways are doing, I chatted with them about releasing a record during the Coronavirus Pandemic, the evolution from Just Another Regular Summer into Radio Sounds, playing their possible last performance of 2020 and more.
NixBeat: The Speedways were originally envisioned as a one off solo project. In the bands bio on Facebook The Speedways sound is suggested to be a more personal take on Power Pop, blending elements of Tom Petty, Phil Spector and The Exploding Hearts. What inspired you to write, record and release Just Another Regular Summer?
Matthew: The entire Just Another Regular Summer album (and most of Radio Sounds) was inspired by a beautiful girl. If you take someone on a date to Joe Meeks flat it’s gonna end up in a song (even if “they wouldn’t let us go inside”) But then I got a bit carried away and wrote enough songs about her to make an album (well, two albums). My mate has a little home studio in Nottingham and I recorded it there with him. There were no plans to release it but after I put it on bandcamp I had a few labels contact me. The Diana Dors LP artwork (by my mate Josh) was the icing on the cake. I really love the album.
NixBeat: I understand that the Speedways first concert was to perform at the London club night Some Weird Sin. After accepting Some Weird Sin cofounder Mauro Venegas (The Godfathers, Johnny Cola and The A Grades, Miscalculations) along with Adrian Alfonso (Dead Meat) and Kris Hood (More Kicks, Los Pepes) joined the band. What has it been like to collaborate with this all star cast?
Matthew: It’s been brilliant. I think we’re really well suited and compliment one another in a way that a band should. Of course everyone can play but there’s also a great attitude towards it. We’re all on the same page with the music and presentation which is important. As Mauro once said, the line-up kinda picked itself really, the obvious choices all came onboard. We’ve done a lot in the relatively short time we’ve been going. I reckon we’re a great little band. And yep, the very first gig was for the ‘Some Weird Sin – Power Pop Weekender 2018’ .. off the back of one and a half rehearsals.
NixBeat: Matt, in an interview with Veglam.com published on July 7th 2020 you mentioned that years ago you frequently visited Some Weird Sin. While attending you had “found your people” after hearing groups like Protex, Hanoi Rocks and The Ronettes. Would you expand on why Some Weird Sin had that impact on you?
Matthew: Five years or so back I was feeling pretty stale and fed up so I began hopping on a train down to London on a regular basis. I’m a record collector and ended up making a few pals who worked in the record shops in Camden. I knew a bit about the scene and had seen the Ten O Sevens a couple of times but I didn’t really know anyone. Anyway, I ended up at Some Weird Sin one night and I met Mauro and Simon who I got on really well with. They were DJ’ing great tunes and the live bands were cool so I went again the following month, and then again the next etc.. Everyone seemed really sound and would get you a beer in. Some of the first people I got to know were Kris, Liam and Bobby from the band Scraps. Liam was at a Shannon & The Clams show in Hackney and he asked me “when are you next in town?” and I said, I’m gonna go to the Crazy Squeeze gig in Camden and he was like “mate, I’m putting that gig on. I’ll list you” ..and that ended up being the first time I met Adrian. The seeds of a power pop fairytale had been well and truly sown.
NixBeat: The Speedways have performed with many notable acts, such as The Briefs, Protex, Baby Shakes and Nikki Corvette. What has been your favorite band to play with and why?
Adrian: I’d personally say Baby Shakes as they’ve been there since day one and it’s always a party with them.
Mauro: Let’s not forget Giuda! Hard to pick from any of the ones you’ve mentioned though, as they’ve all become lasting friendships, which is fantastic.
Matthew: It was nice to play with them all! Baby Shakes have been mates since they first visited the UK and we just hit it off. They’re a great band and great pals. Protex are a big influence on everyone who plays this style of music, I listened to them a lot when I made the first album so it was so cool when Aiden contacted me to say how much he loved it. The Briefs are one of the best live bands around for sure, Pascal booked our first mini tour of Germany and has been extremely supportive of our music. Nikki is a legend and it was a thrill to play guitar for her. I like to think the Speedways are now her fulltime UK Corvettes! She was great. on top of that, Tommy & The Commies were a personal fave and we’ve opened for The Zeros too who were ace.
NixBeat: What are some of your favourite London bands to play with?
Matthew: I’d have to say The Kinks.
Mauro: Haha that one’s even harder! I guess we’ve played with Lucy & the Rats a couple of times and they’re cool.
NixBeat: My favourite track off Just Another Regular Summer is “Reunion In The Rain” What influenced you to write this song?
Matthew: It’s my favourite too. It’s about hoping the day comes that you get to see her again in real life instead of just in your dreams. It rains during the reunion, because it would wouldn’t it? ..but who’d care? It’s influenced by longing. Musically it’s a kinda Ronettes meets Ramones thing. I can hear Ronnie singing it. I’d love her to sing it.
Matthew: Mauro suggested it. We only had one album out at the time & we needed a cover for the live set to flesh things out a bit. We’d done “Back Of my Hand” by The Jags a couple of times and even though we did it really well it felt a bit obvious. “They Don’t Know” is a great choice because it’s a song we all love and it kinda fits with what we are as a band, but it’s also a little unexpected too. It ended up on the b-side because we needed one, and because we do a decent version. The plan was to do a video for the A and B side of the single, but Kris broke his wrist so we were unable to record the video for “Seen Better Days” ..hence why there’s a video for the B side and not the A side!
Mauro: I just thought it would suit us and be interesting to have it sung from a male perspective, as it’s a traditionally “female” song. I like how live it comes out a bit more Replacements-y.
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.
NixBeat: Radio Sounds was released in June 2020 in the midst of the Covid 19 Pandemic. How has Radio Sounds been received?
Matthew: It’s been received really well, but of course it’s been tough. Like all bands at our level you have your online sales and your gig sales, but there have been no gig sales this year for obvious reasons. I’d say we’ve definitely gone up a level in terms of interest in the band though. Our biggest market in physical record sales has been America again, which is a killer for the buyer because postage costs are insanity, but it’s so great to have fans over there. We’ve done good business in Spain, Scandinavia, UK, Japan and Australia too. People seem to really like it. The pandemic has delayed a few overseas orders of course, so there has been the odd refund and late arrival, but overall it’s gone pretty smooth considering. We’ve had a lot of radio, blog and magazine support which we appreciate so much. It really does help get the word out, especially during this time.
NixBeat: What were you drawing from whilst writing “Kisses Are History?” Tell me about the song.
Matthew:I wrote an early version of it for Just Another Regular Summer ..I had the phrase “once you were a mystery but now your kisses are history” – but the verse lyrics were a bit too self pitying and I couldn’t get beyond that. I wanted it to build gradually to a crescendo like “Running Scared” by Roy Orbison, which I absolutely love (I might steal that technique in the future tbh). Also, I already had a song with the word kiss in the title (“One Kiss Can Lead To Another”) so I shelved it. A few years later when I was writing for Radio Sounds I thought I’d give it another go, so I made it a bit more self confident this time around – “I should have been the one.” I also added some bitterness at the end of the chorus – “if all this was meant to be then so much for love.” It ended up being the first single from the album. Mauro wrote a beautiful guitar solo for it. Never give up on songs that aren’t working out!
NixBeat: What’s the story behind the track “In A World Without Love It’s Hard To Stay Young”?
Matthew: It’s partly fictional and partly real. The main ‘story’ in the song is wondering if the interesting new person you’ve met could be “something” but then you see her on the 29 bus with her significant other. It’s disappointing but it doesn’t really matter because you’re still in love with the girl in silver shoes in any case. “In a world without love it’s hard to stay young” means it’s hard to have the optimism and positivity of youth if you don’t have love and companionship. It was the last song I wrote for the album and it took ages to finish. The original chorus was really wordy “I fell in love with a girl that I used to know, I was Johnny Ramone and she was Brigitte Bardot, then they all lined up to steal her heart away, a kiss off the back of a few stolen words is a drop in the ocean for bees & for birds, now maybe the bad times will do me some good but in a world without love it’s hard to stay young” I changed it to “I fell in love with a girl wearing silver shoes” repeat x3! Much more impact and less corny! I find lyrics really tough but I’m better at self editing than I used to be. I really like this song. It’s great to play live and it’s the perfect album closer.
NixBeat: The Covid 19 Pandemic has seen much of the music world stop in it’s tracks. With bands halting tours and performances, and even many venues closing their doors, how has life been during this for The Speedways?
Mauro: I reckon we’ve taken the bull by the horns in some ways – we’ve kept busy in as much as we’ve been physically able to (even harder with Matt living in a different town to the rest of us), but we’ve been productive lately, shooting videos, recording sessions and even playing live, of course.
Matthew: Yeah, it’s tough in the sense I live up in the Midlands and the rest of the lads are down in London, but we’ve done as much as we possibly can under the circumstances. We went over five months without seeing each other or doing anything, but in August we had a rehearsal, then in September we filmed a couple of videos and recorded a live set for radio, in October we played a show and in November we’ve got a day booked in the studio.. so that’s a decent run. It’s been a fucking rotten year for everyone though of course.
NixBeat: During the Covid 19 Pandemic Bandcamp has had an all sales go directly to artists on the first Friday of the month. What do you think of Bandcamp’s event and has it benefited sales of Speedways records and merchandise?
Matthew: We’ve done ok from it. A few people have been kind enough to order stuff on those particular Fridays. We still need to get some more merchandise done actually. There isn’t any Radio Sounds stuff because obviously we haven’t been able to tour or anything.
NixBeat: On October 17th 2020 The Speedways performed their first show since the onset of Covid 19 in March 2020. The show was to celebrate Some Weird Sin’s 8th birthday party at Paper Dress Vintage. The show emphasized certain restrictions like social distancing and being seated.What was performing this show like in the era of Covid 19?
Mauro: It was GREAT to play live again! I think we’d all really missed that buzz. We only managed to get together to rehearse once, but it seems like we all know the songs still, so that’s something! I found I got used to the audience being seated pretty quick, to be honest they were still more lively than some of the London crowds we’d played to before all this anyway, haha!
Adrian: It was a bit stressful given the recent lockdown coming into place, but playing was fun. It was nerve racking to see the seats but once the stage lights go on and the drunk audience start hollering it’s pretty familiar.
Matthew: I really enjoyed it. I mean, obviously the restrictions and limitations were frustrating but after a few beers it didn’t really matter! It was cool to play with the guys again and great to see friends who we hadn’t seen since at least March ffs! We played “Empty Pages” for the first time live which was something I’d been looking forward to. I liked playing two sets in one night actually. Very old school!
NixBeat: What does the future hold for The Speedways?
Matthew: What does the future hold for anyone right now? It’s a tough one to answer. We plan to put one last single out from the Radio Sounds LP pretty soon. Long term of course it’s difficult to say, I mean in theory we’d wanna tour and gig as much as possible, but we’ll have to wait & see. I’ve struggled to write during Covid. Rather than being inspired by the dead time I’ve been stifled and disillusioned by it. My songs are about feelings and personal experiences. Those things have been in short supply during 2020. I probably shouldn’t end on a negative! ..so with my glass half full I’ll say 2021 will be our year and we’ll be able to get back to doing what we love.
Blasting off into outer space are the gonzo space rock n’ rollers The Scaners. From Lyon France, their mission is to abduct and assimilate the uninitiated with their electro-punk sound. It’s an alien technique meant for the supersonic and intergalactic minded weirdos of this third rock from the sun. Think of their music concoction as boasting a mix of Readymades sprinkled in with Miscalculations and the hollowness of Gary Numan’sTubeway Army.
The Scaners no doubt have an impressive sound and it shows in their recordings. The A-side’s “X-Ray Glasses: On” captures their tenacity. This track is pretty straight forward. It starts off with a synth heavy intro that leads into an abrasive beat. “X-Ray Glasse: On” is perfect to sway and lose one’s the mind to. Lyrically this ditty is simple and repetitive. However, what makes it is the disembodied vocals on top of the hollowness of the electro-punk sound, which is like hearing a cyborg play with a distorted 1970’s punk style.
“Alien Boy” is a fast and furious tune. This is the track that is over as soon as it begins. It follows the same method of electric desolation as previous Scaners material, albeit with a more primitive feel. Think of it as Germs-esque,but electrified.
“I Really Want To Know” has a mode that carries a little more familiarity with tracks like “X-Ray Glasses:On.” It’s fast and frantic as though being like being shocked alive on a live wire. This tune boasts a definable punk spite style. If listeners don’t find themselves pogoing like a mother fucker then something is wrong with the stereo.
These tunes don’t betray notions of a cheap parlor trick or a punk rock sound done repeatedly to death. Quite the opposite, The Scaners inspire signs of life into the spirit of punk with something discernibly exciting. This record invokes a style that is rapid and vibrant. It’s an approach that The Scaners very much their own. Nonetheless, it hints toward the playful line of The Briefs but with a synthetic nature of The Marked Men or Radioactivity.
Even though my favorite track on this record is X-Ray “Glasses:On.” As a whole though, this 7” is some brilliant work. Mind you, this is not music for the faint hearted, but for the stargazed rockers of this age. If anything is to evidenced by this record, this is strong material and I have yet to hear anything to the contrary. Don’t waste time. Be sure to get this record.
Ted Dougherty AKA Teddy Spaghetty has long been involved in the underground music world. While living in New York City, he grew disillusioned with major record label executives only caring about seeking out standard hit makers. He was amazed that so many impressive artists were overlooked and did not have material available.
After moving to Atlanta, Dougherty established the independent label Spaghetty Town Records to provide a means for groups to release records for old and new fans alike. Going strong for the last four years, Dougherty has worked with bands, both domestic and internationally. They are renowned for releasing records by rock n’ roll groups like Los Pepes, Jordan Jones and Faz Waltz.
Among his and his labels growing accomplishments are helping the Italian glam rockers Faz Waltz with their first U.S Tour and performance at Punk Rock Bowling in 2019. Additionally in early 2019, Spaghetty Town Records released the Down South Spaghetty Accidentcompilation which featured Dirty Fences, Cheap Tissue, Criminal Kids, BBQT and others. To learn more, I sat down with Dougherty to chat about Spaghetty Town Records, how the onset of the Coronavirius Pandemic has affected his label and his unwavering passion for underground music .
NixBeat: Tell us a
little about yourself. What inspired you
to jump into the world of rock n’ roll?
Dougherty: I’ve always been a huge music nerd, buying records and cassettes, seeing live music whenever possible, working at my college radio station (WSOU) and even my high school radio station (WCVH). All I ever wanted was to work in music, so I got a job at a major label after university. It was fun for a while, it was the late 90s and there was lots of money coming in. Big parties, big artists, fancy dinners but I knew it couldn’t last forever. After 9/11, a lot of people, including myself, lost their jobs. I was living in New York City and Hoboken, New Jersey, so there was always a great band playing, I was still seeing music all the time. That was nearly 20 years ago, and not much has changed, still seeing shows, buying music but now I’m helping bands release music.
originally from Australia, you lived in New Jersey and now live in Atlanta,
Georgia. What’s the music scene like in these places? How are they similar and
Dougherty : I only lived in Australia for a year when I was born, then another year in my 20s. I was just down there and there is so much great music coming out. I spent about 30 years of my life in New Jersey and New York City, which is a great thing if you’re into music. I could see a band on Friday in New York City and if they were great I could see them again in New Jersey or Philly. I’ve been in Atlanta for over a decade now, my first two years took some adjusting. First thing I noticed, the people in Georgia are really friendly. Not to say that people in New Jersey /New York City aren’t, we’re just different. If someone was too nice to me in New York City I’d assume they were trying to hustle me, in Atlanta they’re usually just being nice. New York City also got every show on every tour. When I moved to Atlanta, I noticed we got skipped over, a lot. It was really frustrating because there is a great scene here with great people. In the last few years it’s been better, getting more bands to come down here. But I can’t complain, we also have great bands in the area that probably don’t play up north a lot either.
NixBeat: I know you DJ
in Atlanta. How did you get involved in DJing and what kind of records do you
like to spin?
Dougherty : I was thinking about this the other day, I’ve been doing this a long time. I started playing records when I was in high school on the radio, we could play what we wanted, it was live, but you don’t see the people and have to take breaks, read PSAs etc. The first time I DJed in public was at LIT Lounge in New York City. I remember being terrified that I didn’t know how to do it, then realized after five minutes that five years on the radio pretty much trained me for it. Since then I’ve played records all over New York City, New Jessey and Atlanta. I have a monthly night at Elmyr, a great long running dive bar here. I’ve been there so long they kind of give me carte blanche to play what I want. Usually the first half of the night is more R&B and soul. As the night progresses it turns into more garage, glam and punk records. Just depends on my mood that night.
NixBeat: If readers were to visit Atlanta, where should they look to check out your DJ sets? Dougherty : Second Saturday of every month at Elmyr in Little 5 Points. It used to be every Saturday, but after a while that becomes work and not fun anymore. But Elmyr has been there for over 20 years, and has great food and drinks. The music will vary DJ to DJ—country, hip hop, punk, metal. It’s great! If you come see me, you’ll hear some punk, garage, soul. It’s a fun night with a mix of Atlantans. Be sure to try a Grizz.
NixBeat: Spaghetty Town
Records releases quite the array of dirty rock n’ roll, punk and glam records.
Some notable artists on your label include Faz Waltz, Pale Lips and Jordan
Jones. What prompted you start your label?
Dougherty: After working for a major for so many years I saw these guys running the label that weren’t into music anymore. I assume they were at one point, but weren’t anymore. My boss once said “I’m into hits!” But I was really into music still. I didn’t want to be like those guys. Years later I was seeing all of these great bands that didn’t have releases out, which seemed odd to me. I said to my wife, if I can get a band on board I’m going to start a label. Four years later here we are, I’m about to put out my 25th release. Still can’t believe it.
NixBeat: How did you
get involved with groups like Faz Waltz, Los Pepes and The Scaners?
Dougherty : An Italian friend turned me onto Faz Waltz. So when I went to Italy, I messaged Faz La Rocca to ask what stores I could pick up his album. Anything to avoid paying international shipping. When he started looking for labels for “Julie” he reached out to me. I was thrilled; I was such a fan of his previous records. As for Scaners and Los Pepes, there are a lot of other similar labels around the world working with cool bands in their own countries. I forget who it was, but different international labels reached out to me. They are usually looking for international partners for a release. It helps with promotion in another country or language, helps cut cost and gets a release into another country without having to charge $20 for shipping. After doing this for a few years I’ve worked with so many great labels now throughout Europe and South America. There is a wonderful community of labels around the world, all trying to do the same thing.
NixBeat: What kind of
criteria do you look for when releasing a group through Spaghetty Town Records?
Dougherty: It used to be “would I buy this?” But it’s changed a bit over time. I’ve realized that not everyone buys or can buy records like I do. Now it’s more like “do I think a lot of people will pay $20 for this?” Other things I look at are online presence, it’s not a make or break, but it helps to have a strong online presence. Are they a band that plays shows, do they tour? Are you part of the music community? Also, do we get along, because we’re about to have a relationship. I’ll need help from you, you’ll need help from me. I’ve been really fortunate that every band I’ve worked with have been good people to work with.
NixBeat: In an
interview with Jerseybeat, published in 2019, you stated that it was hard for
bands to break into the US scene. Why do you think that is?
Dougherty: Big time! America is huge, if you want to do a US tour you need time and money. If you’re not an American band, you’ll likely need a visa too —which is very expensive. Also, rock music scene seems smaller than it used to be. Times change, music changes, I don’t see lots of younger people at shows. I joke with every band “can you get more young people out?” A lot of bands tell me they sell merch to a lot of older guys, which includes me. But there are some really talented bands out there (not just mine), touring their asses off, putting out consistently great records that just can’t seem to break. Do I think there will be a resurgence, absolutely. Hopefully we’ll be around for it.
NixBeat: Faz Waltz’s Faz La Roca said you were largely responsible for getting them their US tour in 2019. What was the process like organizing their and performance at Punk Rock Bowling 2019? Do you think your work paid off?
Dougherty: I’d never booked a tour before in my life. I’ve been part of tours, but never booked one. A lot of bands ask me to help them with things because they feel it looks more professional coming from the label instead of band direct. I’m always happy to help out if i can. So we got Faz Waltz on Punk Rock Bowling first, that was actually the easy part. We then built a tour around it based on what time they had available. It’s hard work. I hear a lot of bands comment about how they hate booking tours, I totally get it now. So many emails, phone calls, making arrangements for vans, hotels etc. For Faz Waltz it was also about getting visas. In the end, it was totally worth it. They played great shows in California and ended their tour at Punk Rock Bowling with a big crowd. Also, Faz himself had never been to the US before, so he was really excited. So he was excited to be here, and also got to play.
NixBeat: In 2019,
Spaghetty Town Records released the Down
South Spaghetty Accident Compilation? This record features groups like
Criminal Kids, BBQT, Cheap Tissue and Dirty Fences. What was the process like
putting this compilation together?
Dougherty: That was a lot of fun, I’m really proud of the Spaghetty Accident. Chase Tail (RMBLR, Dino’s Boys, Heart Attacks) approached me and asked if I’d be interested in releasing a compilation for his annual event “The Down South Showdown”. He told me that he had some bands on board, that it was all new music. When I saw the list I was pretty much sold. At that point bands started sending me their tracks and info for the track. I worked with Alex Hagen from Ravagers on the art and found a pressing plant that said they could have the records in my hand in time for the show. The hardest part for me was the song order and having a good flow with 14 different artists. But I guess DJing for all of these years helped. True story, they arrived at my house about 18 hours before the show. Another good one, I spent so much time checking for spelling errors that I left MAMA off of the cover, every band has their name on the cover. It was about 2 weeks before release and the jackets had already been printed. I was freaking out. But Alex suggested that we make a foil sticker of a pinball, have it say MAMA on it and stick it on the record. It was a great idea and totally saved us. Ravagers and Shelly Shellhorn helped put 500 stickers on the records in my kitchen. With so many people it went by really fast.
NixBeat: What kind of
clientele does Spaghetty Town Records attract?
Dougherty : It’s a real mix, probably because we have different types of bands. But it’s serious music fans and vinyl collectors, largely male. They are from all over the US and the world though. When people who weren’t my friends order from me I get really excited still.
NixBeat: With the onset
of the Corona Virus Pandemic, many States have issues social distancing,
quarantines and even lock downs. How has the pandemic affected you and
Spaghetty Town Records?
Dougherty : I haven’t been working that much in the last few weeks. My wife is able to work from home luckily. As for the label, I’ve noticed a slowdown in sales. I’m not surprised; I’ve lost income from my regular job. A lot of my friends are pretty much unemployed now. There is no touring or live shows. We will be adjusting some release dates. I’m hoping when this is all over people will be hungry to see some live music to help get back to normal life.
NixBeat: How can readers support Spaghetty Town Records in this time of crisis?
Dougherty: If they can, buy records from me and the bands we work with. We depend on people buying from us to fund future releases. Since so many artists lost touring and merch income they can buy online, that’s a huge help. And when clubs and bars open again go out and see live music. I know everyone really wants to get back out there again and play.
NixBeat: What future releases should people look out for in 2020 from Spaghetty Town Records?
Dougherty: We’ve been really lucky to work with so many great bands. I know for sure that Fast Eddy, Killer Hearts, Faz Waltz and Ravagers will be releasing new music this year. I asked Criminal Kids and they said “we fucking better put out new music in 2020!”. There are a few other things in the works that aren’t official yet, but I’m really excited about them.
NixBeat: Where would you like to see Spaghetty Town Records in the next couple of years? Dougherty: We plan to keep cranking out records. There has been talk of finding new ways to help artists grow and make money. I really feel like real rock n’ roll is on an upturn again. Maybe bigger labels will look at guitar driven rock bands again instead of a singer and person with a laptop. As long as people keep buying our records, we’ll keep putting them out.
The Toxenes= The Baby Shakes + The Cramps + The Horror Pops
The Toxenes are a rock ‘n roll trio from Minneapolis. They have previously released a single (2017) and a cassette album Electric Shock (2018). Double Creature Feature is their first LP on Vinyl. For those fans of rockabilly notions riding on garage, all infused with punk-rock messiness, this record is for you. Listening to this record is like binge watching a whole season of sounds. It’s got 18 grooves fully loaded with sugar and doused with rock ‘n roll vinegar.
To those not already familiar with Suicide Generation, there should be warning label on their records. These cats come out of the back alleys of London and in their wake is sonic whirlwind of chaos and destruction. They produce a sound that demands a nod to Detroit’s own The Stooges, but with a sonic flair that is ultimately their own. The results are arguably brain-splitting. Not surprisingly then that their new single Prisoner Of Love follows directly in line with this notion.
The title track “Prisoner Of Love” holds back nothing.Upon listening to this track, one can almost feel the unbridled nature of Suicide Generation blasting through their speakers. It’s a vicious assault of ear-piercing garage punk. If one has been lucky enough to survive one of their shows, then hear this shredding mess ought to bring back fond memories of a live performance. So, beware.
On the B-side of this EP are two tracks boasting of primitive rock n’ roll. The first track “Shitty In The City” harkens toward the raw style of 1970’s punk. It’s kind of along the likes of The Stukas or Johnny and the Self Abusers. If it wasn’t a contemporary song, it’d be surprising that “Shitty In The City” wouldn’t be found on a Killed By Death Compilation.
The other track “Rotten Mind” follows in the somewhere in between “Prisoner Of Love” and “Shitty In The City.” It’s a rapid fire punk number that holds no prisoners and is over almost as soon as it begins. Under the right elicit conditions, this track ought to inspire thrashing out of control. For the uninitiated and delicate “Rotten Mind” is an essential concoction of primal punk rock.
Suicide Generation’s Prisoner Of Love single shows remarkable promise. It’s a record that demonstrates their ability to be tight while still remaining as unbridled and savage as ever. Barring the ability to seem them live, having the volume peaking in the red will give listeners a glance into what it’s like to witness the ferocity of Suicide Generation’s live act—as well as some hearing loss. For that simple reason, check out Prisoner Of Love. It’s not to be overlooked, especially by any self-styled rock n’ roll degenerate.
Los Pepes boast an impressive lineup. They are Ben Primier (Vocals, Guitar), Gui Rujao (guitar, vocals), Seisuke Nakagawa (Bass, Vocals), Kris Kowalski (Drums) with Adam Smith of Newtown Neurotics (performing live Bass.) Their new album “Positive Negative” is a brilliant record. It’s grooves are filled with sonic splitting power pop infused with rapid punk rock.
This record celebrates the natural union between the invigorating sounds of sounds of punk and speedy power pop. Los Pepes style reflects a familiar fury that is akin to bands like The Briefs or Sharp Objects. It also invokes nostalgia for high voltage punk for lovers of The Boys,Motorhead or even Miscalculations.
Positive Negative lives up to the legend of Los Pepes rambunctious nature. This record is filled with hit after hit. Positive Negative is music that captivates with an awe inspiring delivery. When the needle drops on the this record, the result is to immediately succumb to sudden spasmastic shakes and shivers.
Such spasms result to jumping about as if being electrified back into the land of the living— like a rabid pogoing madman. No doubt this is a certain result if the right amount of electrified intensity is induced due to high velocity punk rock ,and a maybe few ales.
This is evident in the first track “Still Belong To Me.” It’s fast and wild and professes a desperate need to kick in the T.V in kind of sound. “Still Belong To Me” wastes no time in simple pleasantries. Rather it’s a tune that blasts the listen clear into the next week. It’s solid opening track.
Personally, my favorite track on Positive Negative is “We Need It.” This is the kind of tune that starts with a strong build up and wallops off with a packing punch. Think of it as cousin to Sharp Objects “Misspent Youth,” but less snotty and a bit tighter. Other tracks in this vein are “Think Back” and “Your Justice.” Some other honorable mentions for immediate consideration include “Let Me Tell You Something” and “Frustration.”
Not acquiring this album would not only be a mistake, but a betrayal of crucial judgment. This record ought to be put on your turntable and blasted from start to finish with the help of some liquid courage inducing vibrancy. If not for you, then do it for the neighbor’s sake. To do anything less may deprive those in close proximity of a vital headache, or inspiration. After all, we need something wild and electric like Los Pepes “Positive Negative” for our bleeding ears and soul.
For almost 10 years, Konrad Keele has operated an all-ages venue for Utah’s punk, hardcore and Ska communities. Standing at about 6’ 2”, Keele dresses casually-not with studs and bristles- and speaks with a reserved, but confident tone. Since 2016, he has owned and operated The Beehive Social Club, located on 666 South and State Street. He seeks to empower his community and friends by providing access to music through his venues. Speaking of his own transformative experiences, Keele says, “I’ve been changed through music. My politics are directly affected by the bands I listen to — my diet, my habits, my whole lifestyle.”
Check out the full article on Konrade Keele and The Beehive Social Club published @ Utah Stories!!
The Blankz White Baby/Sissy Glue 7” Slope Records Street: 07.13 The Blankz = Devo + The Epoxies + The Spits
Born in 2017, The Blankz are a vibrant electrical current of pogo-inducing madness. Together, they are Tommy Blank (vox), Jaime Blank (guitar), Andy Blank (bass), Johnny Blank (drums) and Nikkie Blank (synthesizer), who also fronts The Darts. They are from Phoenix, Arizona, and like their state, they are hot but not bothered. Their debut record, the White Baby/Sissy Glue record, is a lethal combination of orgasmic weirdo pop infused with the sensibilities of raucous punk rock.