Top 10 Punk Movies

19
Sep

Top 10 Punk Movies

Number 10
The Decline of Western Civilization III
Studio: Spheeris Films
Director: Penelope Spheeris
Released: 1998

In some ways this film is a bit better than the first Decline, in that there is a stronger message (homelessness, and the lack of true political impact the initial 1980’s Los Angeles punk movement had), but the first Decline will always have a sentimental place in my heart. Performances by four bands were filmed: Final Conflict, Litmus Green, Naked Aggression and The Resistance.
Rating: *** three out of three stars.

Number 9
Punk Attitude
Studio: IFC Pictures
Director: Don Letts
Released: 2005

Originally shown on IFC, which I missed, this was released on DVD soon afterward. This has become one of my favorite films.
Rating: *** three out of three stars.

Number 8
Punk’s Not Dead
Studio: Aberration Pictures
Director: Susan Dynner
Released: 2007

What can I say it’s great!? They cover the entire history of punk, and then try to connect the pieces from the Sex Pistols to the Green Day/Sum 41 era, all without telling you what punk is and what’s not. I’ve watched it two or three times to try and absorb all the information.
Rating: *** three out of three stars.

Number 7
Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten
Studio: Vertigo Films
Director: Julien Temple
Released: 2007

I really love the Clash, and any and all information on these guys I eat up, but the campfire narrative could have been left out.
Rating: *** three out of three stars.

Number 6
The Decline of Western Civilization
Studio: Media Home Entertainment Nu Image Films
Director: Penelope Spheeris
Released: 1981

Performances and interview footage of Black Flag and the Germs make this film a classic. Also performances by Fear and the Circle Jerks serve as icing on the cake.
Rating: *** three out of three stars.

Number 5
End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Director: Jim Fields
Released: 2005

Though I don’t truly believe these guys were “punk” by the definition I had growing up, they did play good stripped-down rock and roll, and the film is good. The scenes about Joey’s girlfriend being taken by Johnny, and Johnny basically saying he didn’t care about Joey were heavy.

Magnolia Pictures also put out the Bukowski documentary, edgy company.
Rating: *** three out of three stars.

Number 4
Another State of Mind
Studio: Time Bomb
Director: Adam Small
Released: 1984

I remember hearing about this when it was being filmed, but it never played anywhere that I could find, so this classic had to wait over twenty years before I could watch it. I picked it up this past weekend on sale at CD Trader in Tarzana.

It’s a good film with cameos from John Macias from Circle One, Keith Morris from Circle Jerks, and of course Social Distortion, and Youth Brigade. Unfortunately Mike Ness isn’t always sober so you miss out on anything too profound, but Shawn Stern’s opening dialogue is very cool, very punk in a nutshell.
Rating: *** three out of three stars.

Number 3
The Filth and the Fury
Studio: Fine Line Pictures
Director: Julien Temple
Released: 2000

This was the best documentary on punk I had ever seen until American Hardcore. These guys were great.

The little commentaries from Billy Idol and Siouxsie Sioux really help create a fuller story. Good stuff.
Rating: *** three out of three stars.

Number 2
American Hardcore
Studio: Sony Pictures
Director: Paul Rachman
Released: 2006

This is the best documentary on punk I have ever seen. They put a heck of a lot of research into this, but like all things on this genre . . . things get left out, no Misfits or Dead Kennedys, but otherwise a real good piece on the American Punk scene.
Rating: *** three out of three stars.

Number 1
Fight Club
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: David Fincher
Released: 1999

This film, once you get past the basic violence, and get into the message – it’s 100% punk. The whole concept of stripping everything down, and doing away with corporate America (blowing up TRW, coffee chains, corporate art, etc.). It takes a couple of viewings, but it’s all there. Great flick.
Rating: *** three out of three stars.

These are my choices, I’m sticking to them, but I’d love to see some comments.

 

 

Life Won’t Wait is out now, grab a copy today: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

Joe Carducci – Interview

17
Sep

For years I had heard about Joe Carducci, author, song writer, screenplay writer and for a time, quarter owner of the infamous SST Records. Carducci is a definite jack-of-all-trades that for whatever reasons our paths never crossed, but I always wanted to rap with the guy and through the technology of Facebook I tracked him down.

1. First off, I want to thank you for agreeing to do this interview. What was your position at SST? When did you become a partial owner, when did sell your share, etc?

Everything was very informal then. My sense of things was confirmed when I read Black Randy in Brendan Mullen’s book, We Got the Neutron Bomb, describing the early L.A. punks being seized by “missionary zeal”. If someone as perverse as he would call it that then I know I’m not fooling myself. I think late baby boomers had had their expectations for music raised incredibly high by the music right up to before they picked up instruments in, say, 1974. Suddenly everything went bad and rather than giving up on music and becoming painters the opposite happened. Greg and Chuck saw on their first tours in 1980-81 that when a record shop had Black Flag records they had got them from me at Systematic. So when I told Greg in July 1981 that I’d come down to L.A. and run their label for them they figured I could do it. I wanted to be in L.A. for my writing and as long as I had a place and food it was fine by me; I didn’t come down for one-quarter ownership or even a salary. I just didn’t want to waste my time. But by 1983 we got serious about registering the four owners and that was more about me having to write checks when they were on tour and having to have things legal in order to license records overseas and register copyrights etc. By the end of 1984 the label was functional and we were important enough to our distributors to get paid quick enough to pay the studio and pressing and printing bills. So Mugger left the Black Flag tours in late 83 and he hired D.Boon’s sister-in-law Jeannine Garfias to do mail-order, and I convinced Ray Farrell to move down from San Francisco to do promotions. Before than we had band people filling in at the label: Boon, Watt, Spot, Henry, Dez, Robo, Dave Claassen, Bill Stevenson, Byron Coley and others in a pinch. Just as I was leaving more people were coming in as paid employees: Naomi Petersen, who’d been our photographer since 82, Jordan Schwartz, Mike Whittaker, Linda Trudnich, Kara Nicks. I trained Rich Ford, who’d been in Chuck’s band SWA, to run manufacturing in early 1986 and then was out in March.

2. How did you manage to not just survive but also thrive in the extreme SST environment?

I’d guess you’d say I have a writer’s personality. I’m from a large family, half Italian but some people might think you’d be voluble, fun, etc., but I’m not much fun. I mostly just do the work I need to do. I’d say I figured out in late high school that writing what I want to write was going to take a while to master. I mean my screenwriting, but it goes double with regard to writing prose in the books or the blog since I never really expected to do that kind of writing, and probably wouldn’t have, had I been able to get scripts made earlier. But as regards SST, I fit in because the early punk era was full of people who leveraged the hippie era to do what they wanted and we generally respected that about each other. I was like those guys only minus even the limited partying they did.

3. What led your decision to leave Los Angeles and pursue writing once again?

Well it was nine years worth of the music scene split between Systematic and SST. Systematic needed SST and its touring bands to sell records at that level, but SST needed radio to sell enough records to warrant the amount of work done on those records. So the only further music biz thing I might’ve done was radio to see it through, break the logjam. But otherwise Black Flag was done and new bands post-1982 or so weren’t as interesting – the frontier had closed basically. The straight import-distributors all started labels signing up generic bands (goth, roots, synth, hardcore…) and the culture got taken over by college bands, completely different from the drop-out bands that invented it. But mainly I had a clearer idea of what I wanted to write by then so I wanted to get back to that and see what I could come up with.

4. What was your first exposure to punk rock?

I think it was hearing KROQ in 1977 playing “Sheena” in rotation and running ads for Ramones “Leave Home.” I heard that song and the short clips of the heavier 2nd album tunes enough that I got into it. I understood it as stripping the Black Sabbath power back to a 60s garage simplicity. I didn’t run across any of the Hollywood punks when I was there but I bought the first issue of Slash at Peaches and looked over the 45s they had. I moved to Portland in September 1977 and started buying the New York bands’ albums and then picked up the LA and UK singles through working at Renaissance Records which became Systematic Record Distribution.

5. Other than being at SST, give us some of your greatest memories of being in the punk scene back in the 1980’s.

Well it was earlier than that, up in Portland in 1978 when the first local punk shows were being put on and bringing a small number of interesting people together. It was a hippie town pegged to San Francisco and the Holy Modal Rounders but one time I was closing the record shop and the last couple customers were going to get a pizza so I went with them, we stopped by another record shop picked up a couple more of the punk rockers and then ran into more before winding up at the restaurant with about a dozen kids, it was a scene! And they sat us in a back room. Otherwise, it had to be going on short tours to Arizona or up the coast with Black Flag had to be the coolest thing I did, especially when it was Greg, Chuck, Dez, Henry, Robo, Spot, and Mugger. I moved to the Meat Puppets van once from Seattle to Vancouver and the MPs were smoking pot until they snapped to 3 miles from the border. I never smoked pot so I wasn’t really conscious of the things they had to worry about. But we made it through the check point okay. And in LA in 1982 when BF toured Damaged, I went out with the Descendents to the weekend gigs they were just getting all around town on the basis of their first album – they didn’t draw a lot yet so you got to watch and listen to them with about 25 other people who couldn’t believe how good they were. Then in 1983 the Minutemen were getting to play around Hollywood a lot and if BF was touring D. Boon would pick me up on his way to Hollywood and then since he was usually going off to party after the gig, I’d grab a ride back down to SST with Mike Watt. So just being able to talk to those guys about music and media and art and politics. When Black Flag was in town the same went for them. On Wednesday nights at SST in Redondo Beach in 82-3 we’d know the L.A. Weekly would be in at Music Plus on P.C.H. so often Greg and I would walk down Grant to Aviation to P.C.H. to get a copy to see who was playing where that week.

6. Who were/ are your influences, musically, writing and personally?

I first liked stuff I heard on AM radio (WLS and WCFL in Chicago): Paul Revere & the Raiders, Tommy James & the Shondells, The Standells, Davie Allen & the Arrows, The Hollies, Steppenwolf, Jimi Hendrix Experience… Then FM radio and album buying: Black Sabbath, King Crimson, Soft Machine… For writing I guess the first things I liked when my dad forced us to read books was Jack London, and Pierre Boulle novels. I think of Dostoevsky as the gold standard. In high school read a lot of Anthony Burgess, B. Traven, Ira Levin, and later Cornell Woolrich, Barry Sadler, and recently Michel Houellebecq. I don’t read a lot of fiction anymore. The culture probably needs a Jack London revival right about now.

7. I hope this isn’t too far out, here’s a bit of self-analysis. You’ve been in the music world for over thirty years as a label owner, and PR writer, so the question is what did Joe Carducci bring to SST?

Well SST had its own thing going on. I liked how they related to punk rock as rock music, rather than some anti-rock thing. So it made sense that Black Flag would find a way to tour. I bought records from a lot of American bands and only Black Flag seemed determined to take their music on the road. The political influence of British punk or the drug cool of the earlier 70s bands seemed to keep the rest waiting for something to happen, either the revolution or getting signed to a major. So what I brought was mostly just I was able to stretch the money and keep records in print better and better and get the drive wheel of the business rolling with some momentum. The label Greg wanted was more as a label for the stuff they liked but didn’t have interest from real labels. He expected that “Damaged” and future BF releases would go out thru majors and by rights they should have. But MCA and the industry at large was so retarded by rock radio’s disinterest that SST came to be more the kind of label I had wanted when I was up at Systematic. The major labels couldn’t imagine that a Black Flag might have a better shot at breaking through than a band like X or The Dickies or the New York bands. What happened instead was Metallica and then Nirvana breaking through the imposed retardation by Lee Abrams, Jan Wenner and other criminals.

8. It’s been more than twenty years since you first published Rock And The Pop Narcotic: do you feel that any of the more recent books that chronicle aspects of the SST/underground era of the 80s have contributed as positively as your book did?

I read a bunch of LA oriented stuff when I was working on by book about SST and Naomi Petersen, Enter Naomi, in 2006-7 but basically I don’t read much music stuff now. I have too much to read for work on a film book and other stuff. My impression is that there are a lot of good music memoirs, stories of individual bands, and history but probably not much about what happened to contemporary music – writers must just accept it as a given or they’d be covering television or videogames.

 

 

Life Won’t Wait is out now, grab a copy today: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

Rat Music for Rat People/TSOL – Live 91

10
Sep

Rat Music for Rat People Vol. 1
Label: Go! Records
Released: 1982

1. DOA – America the Beautiful
2. DOA – Fucked Up Ronnie
3. Flipper – Life
4. Circle Jerks – Live Fast, Die Young
5. Bad Brains – How Low Can A Punk Get?
6. Bad Brains – Don’t Bother Me
7. Crucifix – Steel Case Enclosure
8. Dead Kennedys – Forward To Death
9. Dead Kennedys – I Am the Owl
10. Black Flag – Scream
11. TSOL – Weathered Statues
12. TSOL – Sounds of Laughter
13. Avengers – Cheap Tragedies
14. Dils – Blow Up

Although the lineup on this LP makes it seem like it would be better than it actually is, it’s a decent compilation nonetheless.

The first part of the series has live recordings only (various sources, sound quality is good to excellent). Great music from the stars of that era, no new songs, though. Like many of the albums of this time, I bought it solely based on TSOL’s contribution, but like I said earlier there are no new songs, just recycled poorly recorded live versions.

If you get the chance give this album a listen, it’s a good listen, but not worth owning. It’s a great snap-shot of a great time in punk rock.

Rating: ** * two out of three stars.

TSOL – Live 91
Label: Triple X
Released: 1991

1. Silent Scream
2. World War III
3. Abolish Government/Silent Majority
4. Triangle
5. Wash Away
6. Funeral March
7. Superficial Love
8. Thoughts of Yesterday
9. I’m Tired 10. Love Story
11. Man and Machine
12. Property is Theft
13. Dance with Me
14. Code Blue

This album is excellent. Very nice track selection for a live album (it could’ve used some more off of Beneath the Shadows, but whatever) the sound quality is good, and the on-stage banter from Jack adds to the album.

This recording is from an all-original member reunion show in 1991. Because they had lost the legal rights to the name T.S.O.L., the show (and the album) had to be listed under the members’ full names. Most of the material is from Dance with Me and the first two EPs. Recommended, if you are a fan of that era of TSOL. These guys lead the way for currents bands, like AFI that want to get dark and creepy. Definitely one of the most original bands of all time. A very intense live band. Check it out.

If you get the chance to buy this album, grab it. It’s virtually all their greatest hits all on one album. I love these guys.

Rating: *** three out of three stars

 

 

Life Won’t Wait is out now, grab a copy today: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

Weirdos, Naked Aggression, Killroy & The Dips – LIVE

05
Sep

Weirdos, Naked Aggression, Killroy & The Dips
The Cobalt Cafe
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Admission $13.00

I went to see the Weirdos show on Sunday night. And I have to say, as a fan, you should pretty much go to any show that Eric Lara promotes. The shows aren’t over-billed (never six, seven to eight bands) and he has a way of organizing the line-up so it’s not overwhelmingly hardcore. Fast band, slightly slower and back to fast. At my age I can’t do eight bands nor do I want to and the hardcore sounds of a machine gun shooting at a metal trash can doesn’t work for me anymore.

I’ve gone to half a dozen shows organized by Eric and his wife Krista and each one has been loads of fun. Well worth the money.

Every once in a while get the privilege to attend a show that is so perfect that you wonder if you’re going to get to see a better show.

There was a nice healthy turnout. The feel of the joint was cool too. I didn’t feel like I was at a club, it felt like somebody said “Come on over to my house, I’ve got a huge living room, and I’ve invited my four favorite bands to play, and by the way, you get to talk to John Denney.” Fuck yeah, I’m there!

Now, some of the best memories I have of shows always tend to be the stuff that happens outside of the clubs. The small talk, the drama, and friends you make, this night was no different.

From a fan boy perspective it was awesome to watch Zander Schloss (Circle Jerks, The Juicy Bananas, Joe Strummer The Weirdos, Too Free Stooges and Thelonious Monster, Red Hot Chili Peppers, El Patrullero, Low and Sweet Orchestra and The Magnificent Bastards), Greg Hetson (Bad Religion, Black President, Circle Jerks, G.F.P. and Red Cross), Dix Denney, John Denney and Jeff Friedl (The Weirdos, Ashes Divide, Devo, Puscifer, A Perfect Circle and The Beta Machine) load in.

The first band is scheduled to go on at 8:15. Well, The Dips played 8:45. I had heard their name, but I had never seen The Dips live. These guys were good. The crowd was still fairly thin at this point, but the band played as if they were headlining The Staples Center. They delivered.

The second act is scheduled to go on at 9:00. Killroy played until 9:30 or 9:45. I had seen them live once or twice before. The band puts on a great show. Nothing half-assed here, a real 1980’s underground punk-rock feel to their music. Killroy provides an adrenaline-charged set with some power vocals.

Nowadays, it’s rare to see a band that can maintain that kind of energy level throughout their entire set. Most tend to die down mid-set.

The third band is scheduled to go on at 9:45. Naked Aggression played until 10:15 or 10:30. Again, I had heard the name, but I had only seen them in the Decline of Western Civilization III movie. This band puts on a great show. The bassist, Meghan, also plays in the band A Pretty Mess.

The Weirdos were scheduled to go on at 10:30. If you haven’t seen the Weirdos live, you’ve been living under a rock for the last thirty plus years.

The band, John, Zander, Jeff and Dix, are great live. Energetic and very polished. It was great to finally see them.

At the end of the night, as I was waiting to snap a picture with John Denney, I got to say, “Hi,” to Lisa Fancher, the owner of Frontier Records.

 

 

Life Won’t Wait is out now, grab a copy today: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

Time Again – (naked)

03
Sep

Time Again
(naked)
Drop-Out Records
Released: 2009

Daniel Dart – Vocal
Elijah Reyes – Guitar
Kris Idol – Guitar
Jake Margolis – Drums
Oren Soffer – Bass

1. Lines Are Faded
2. Cold Concrete
3. Black Night
4. Broken Bodies
5. Never Give Up
6. I Go Back
7. T.V. Static
8. Me And You
9. Lucky
10. Outcast
11. Karen’s Song

In their first album released outside of the Hellcat/Rancid label(s), (naked) is a really cool way to re-listen in Time Again’s music.

This is their fourth release, and a, sort of greatest hits of sort. It’s all acoustic, and a real low-fi kind of thing. It has the feeling of you having five guys sitting in your living room strumming some old punk songs.

Not quite the acoustic/country stuff Mike Ness has done, but it’s in that ballpark.

Stand-out tracks: Broken Bodies and Me and You.

Rating: ** * two out of three stars.

On to the story . . .

Back in 2006, about a year before I started writing for this site, I got turned onto, about, a dozen different punk rock blogs. Prior to this I only knew about the different MP3 software, like Napster, Audio Galaxy, and so on.

So, back in 2006, I was doing a search for an old punk album I had, and I was trying to find an image of the album cover, because I had lost the little booklet for the CD, and I’m anal about these things. If the booklet is missing, I have to print out the image, and put it in the CD case. Something has to go there!

Anyway, while searching for this image, I stumble upon a huge punk rock blog, and on this blog was links to thirty-five other blogs, it was like going to Toys R Us for the first time.

I was so overwhelmed with the amount of stuff available that I downloaded absolutely nothing. It was sensory overload. Too much to choose from, and I owned, pretty much, everything I wanted.

But the thing I noticed here is these blogs are, sort of, our punk rock underground version of the Billboard charts. The hotter or bigger the band is, the more blogs their album will appear on. I love the band Everybody Out, but good luck finding their albums for download. Then, type in a search for the latest Social Distortion, and within thirty seconds I had over twelve download options.

So, forget Billboard, bands if you want to know if you’re successful, do a blog search. The more people out there trying to pirate your shit, the more popular you are.

 

 

Life Won’t Wait is out now, grab a copy today: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb

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