Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Boys

     In all honesty, I was debating whether or not this interview needed any sort of introduction at all. I mean this is The Boys, but in all fairness, I decided to write one anyway. When people say, “This band needs no introduction,” The Boys really don’t. The Boys are arguably the best, most seminal, and highly influential and one of the most critically underappreciated punk, pop, power-pop bands of all time. Casino Steel and Matt Dangerfield were arguably the Lennon/McCartney of UK punk and had the songs to back it up. Yes, far more bands got the accolades, but before The Boys unplugged their amps in 1981 they had released four of the best LP’s ever (The Boys, Alternative Chartbusters, To Hell With The Boys and Boys Only). So after thirty-three years, The Boys are back with Punk Rock Menopause, their brand new LP. Does this mean it could be five for five?

Interview by Ed Stuart

Who’s answering the questions?
Matt Dangerfield

Who is currently in the band and what instrument do they play?
Matt Dangerfield, guitar/vocals
Casino Steel, keyboards/vocals
Honest John Plain, guitar/vocals

Can you give a brief history of The Boys?
The Boys were born in September 1975 when I left Mick Jones and Tony James’s London SS to form a new band with ex-Hollywood Brats keyboard player Casino Steel. My old art college friend, guitarist Honest John Plain, was soon recruited and in 1976 Kid Reid on bass and Jack Black on drums completed the line-up. After just a handful of gigs, we were the first UK punk band to get an album deal when we signed up with NEMS Records. After two albums with NEMS we moved to Safari Records and released a further two albums with them.

What bands did you have in mind when starting this band?
Having grown up in the sixties, the best music from that decade was a major influence but this was a new era and I envisaged us being a cross between Velvet Underground and Hollywood Brats. Later, when the first Ramones album came out, that was also an influence.

How did the idea come to get the band back together and record Punk Rock Menopause?
We had been playing live gigs together again since 2000 when we reformed to play Japan. There had been many offers for us to reform over the years, which we turned down but Japan was interesting as we’d never been there. Also, a major Japanese punk band called Thee Michelle Gun Elephant had covered a couple of our songs and suddenly we were selling lots of records over there.

The idea of making a new album was occasionally discussed but I was always the most against doing it unless I thought it could be as good as, if not better than, our previous albums. This time though, after a day in the studio knocking around a few new song ideas with Casino and John, for the first time it seemed to me that there could be a new Boys album and now there is.

How did the band decide on Wolverine Records to release Punk Rock Menopause?
They were recommended to me by my good friend Campi from Die Toten Hosen.

The Boys have been referred to as the Punk Rock Beatles. How do you feel about that reference?
It used to annoy me in the early days but now I don’t mind it. I forget which reviewer first used that phrase but it was only because we sang harmonies live and most of the other early punk bands didn’t at the time. One of my strongest musical influences came as a teenager when I used to go round to a school friend’s house to practice guitar together on a Friday night. He came from a big Irish family and after the pubs closed all his older brothers and their friends used to come back to his house to play guitars and sing fantastic harmonies – early do wop Rock N’ Roll stuff, which I’d never heard before as well as Beach Boys, Beatles etc. That’s where I learned to love and sing harmonies.

I always thought one of The Boys secret weapons was that the band had several different lead vocals. I know early on it was primarily Matt and Duncan taking leads vocals with Casino Steel providing back-up vocals. What was the original idea behind not just having one lead vocalist?
Maybe that’s the other reason why we were labeled the punk rock Beatles! Originally, it was going to be me as the lead vocalist but I always thought it would be more interesting if there was more than one lead singer so when it turned out that Duncan could sing. I was really pleased. Also our early songs were all fast and furious and we both sang and played instruments, so having two singers helped us to keep the energy levels up on stage.

How do you feel that your songs and LP’s are seen not only as influences to numerous punk-pop and power-pop bands?
It’s always a huge compliment when someone names us as an influence.

In an interview, Duncan Reid stated that one of the reasons The Boys didn’t get airplay was because “At the time the charts used to be rigged and people used to get into the charts because the record companies, especially the majors, had the power to buy you in. Once you'd got into the charts you got onto Top Of The Pops and all the other exposure followed, so I suspect we didn't benefit from that either.” What do you think of this comment?
In our time every record company knew which record stores were used to compile the charts and those stores were targeted by fake buyers employed by the labels/distributors. But everybody was doing it. A major label could probably afford more fake buyers, but if you’re cheating in a game of poker you can’t really stand up and complain that someone is cheating better than you.
And getting airplay doesn’t necessarily mean you sell more records. There were times when we employed the best pluggers (the specialists who approach the radio stations) in the business and we got tons of radio airplay but sold bugger all. It’s what’s called a Radio Hit – radio loves it, record buyers hear it, but don’t want to buy it.

50 years ago people used to buy music and get their water for free, now people pay for water and get their music for free. In what ways do you think this affects the current state of music and would it affect the way The Boys will promote Punk Rock Menopause?
Maybe we should be bottling punk rock water instead of making records :)
We just make music and get it out there.

Other than bands using tremendous amount of social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to promote themselves nowadays, do you feel the basic mechanics of being in a band are essentially the same as when The Boys originally started?
The basic mechanics of being in a band are exactly the same but the whole music business has been flipped upside down and inside out. There are good and bad sides to that. Record Companies weren’t perfect but how intrusive and controlling is social media going to become? Whatever happens, people will continue to love making music and people will love listening to it. Social media might very well disappear up its own backside but music will always be essential and loved.

The Boys were offered a record deal after just six live gigs. Do you think that type of thing could happen again?
Yes, of course.

Which Boys LP is your favorite and why?
The first album. Because it’s like your first born child. Because it’s so instant and raw but to this day sounds dynamically brilliant. We only had a few days to record, mix and finish off writing quite a few of the songs on the way to the studio so it has a sense of urgency about it that I love. We could never recreate it no matter how hard we tried.

Can you talk the about song “Jimmy Brown?” I have read a few interviews with Boys members and all of them have remarked how great they thought this song was, but the song never made it on a proper Boys record and wasn’t released until Odds & Sods. Any reason why this was?
No particular reason. It was recorded in a session between albums when we were looking for a single to release. We recorded three or four (maybe more) songs in that session. We ended up releasing “Better Move On” as a single. None of the songs from that session ended up on the next album either because, as usual, we had more than enough new songs to deal with at the time. We’ve had a lot of great songs that ended up on the shelf because we were very prolific in those days – still are, as we’ve discovered making the new album and had to shelve a few songs.

Where can people hear The Boys and what’s next for the band?
On the new album or live on stage somewhere. More of the same.

The Smoke Bombs

     The Smoke Bombs smash and grab fistfuls of British Street Punk in one hand and early 1980’s Southern California hardcore in the other. They then take it to an old abandoned warehouse downtown where they mix it up and add some secret ingredients.  They then stuff some ping pong balls full of it and create a device that emits a dense, hard hitting brand of punk rock into the atmosphere immediately upon ignition. They hurl these handmade concoctions at unsuspecting audiences and it causes the foundation beneath the arid desert floors to quake. So remove any loose articles of clothing and strap your shoes on tight, The Smoke Bombs have arrived and the room you’re in is about to turn upside down!

Interview by J Castro

Introductions!  Please tell us who you all are and what’s your function in The Smoke Bombs:
LAYTON: Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar

BRANDON: I’m Brandon Meunier and I play guitar in The Smoke Bombs.

JASON: Jason Stone - Drummer/Cheerleader

TODD: Todd Joseph: Bass

What’s the conception story of The Smoke Bombs?  How did you all meet and decide to play music together?
LAYTON:  Bored with my last band Asses of Evil. I wanted to start something different.  I got Jason our drummer and Todd from AOE. Jason suggested Brandon for lead guitar. I knew him from his work as a guitar salesman, and liked him a lot. Never had heard him play but hired him over the phone because I liked him, turned out pretty well.

BRANDON: I met Jason (our drummer) through work. I told him I was looking for another band. A few weeks later he was asking if I’d like to try out with Layton and Todd.

JASON: My world changed in like a 30 day period, got fired from a band, lost my wife, son, house and my studio in one big fat Fuck You from the World. I ate as many pills as I could afford, apparently not enough? Next Day, I got a call from Layton to start something new.

TODD: Layton and I were in the Asses of Evil and then split and formed The Smoke Bombs in the wake of the Asses.

When I hear your music, I get a street punk vibe. I can hear elements of Cocksparrer, Sham 69, and Stiff Little Fingers. Were any of these bands influences to you guys growing up and do you remember who got you into punk rock in the first place?
LAYTON: I am not so much into those bands as much. Brandon really likes that kind of stuff. I like the 80’s southern California stuff, Circle Jerks, Descendents etc. I also was a huge fan of Todd’s first band Junior Achievement, as well as all the great hardcore bands in Arizona like JFA, Mighty Sphincter, Soylent Greene, Conflict etc.

BRANDON: Yes it’s a huge influence for me even still. Those are three of my favorite bands of all times. No one really got me into it. Punk itself got me into it. With the few friends I had I was able to meet people who I’d trade music back and forth with. It’s been that way since day one.

JASON: Stiff Little Fingers for me. 1st punk band I was turned on to was Junior Achievement “TJ’s band from the 80’s.” I had an older guy next door to my parent’s house that was SICK and TIRED of hearing R.E.M.’s Green while I rode my skateboard. He charged over and said “TURN THAT SHIT OFF!!!!!!” I thought he was going to kick my ass! Instead he handed me Junior Achievements 12” and a cassette he already made.
I never looked back, that was 1985.

TODD: I grew up on The Clash, Generation X, The Damned, Sex Pistols, and SLF. I’m also a big CA punk fan: T.S.O.L, Social Distortion, Bad Religion, Adolescents, and Shattered Faith.

I see you guys play out fairly regularly, how would you describe the music scene in Phoenix/Tempe?
LAYTON: Too many bands. It seems like since Nirvana broke, and Guitar Centers were put up all over the place, everyone thinks they can do a punk band. I have been doing this since 84. It used to be that when an out of town band came through either JFA or Junior Achievement, ONS, would get a gig opening for a big band. Also everyone went to one show, wherever it was Tempe/Phoenix. Now there are too many shows competing against each other on the same nights for a dwindling amount of punk rockers.

JASON: Strong, easy to bash the scene but it’s easy to bash any scene. Phoenix is full of good people and it’s not hard to find them if you look & listen.

TODD: It’s pretty good! Good local bands to play with. The Clubs/Bars are pretty accepting of loud music. It could always be better, but it could also be a lot worse. When the weather gets cooler the scene gets better!

You guys are playing (and have played with) some pretty big names in punk. Some of your upcoming shows are with Rikk Agnew Band (Social Distortion, Christian Death, Adolescents, D.I.) and Eddie and The Hot Rods here in Tempe, AZ. How do you feel playing shows with such influential bands? 
LAYTON: The best chance of getting a good draw is having a good headliner. These guys are just like us, but came together in the right time and place to get big. I don’t mean to say our music is as good as this classic stuff, but Todd and I talk and feel like if we were together in ‘84 playing Mad Gardens we would have gotten some notoriety, more than we get now. 

BRANDON: It’s awesome!

JASON: Honestly, it’s just another show. The thrill is standing in the crowd watching the “influential” band. The bummer is after it’s over I have a car load of gear to take home. I like meeting the heroes / legends, I don’t take much seriously anymore so if the hero is an asshole, whatever.

TODD: I love it, that’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve been able to play with The Bad Brains, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, T.S.O.L., Shattered Faith, Crucifix, Youth Brigade, on and on it’s always a blast!

Speaking of playing live, do you guys remember the worst show The Smoke Bombs ever played and tell me about what made it such a disaster?
LAYTON: Not really, all in all we have had some good shows. Weeknight shows are pretty pathetic. We have had some low turn out shows with Dime Runner, and Black Irish Texas which were weekday shows. 

JASON: I played one high on cocaine, that didn't go so well, won’t do that again.
I like them all; we haven’t really had a disaster show. It would have to be pretty bad for me to call it a disaster. I like playing drums as long as nobody dies, it’s good.

TODD: Maybe the time we played with Scorpion vs. Tarantula up in Cottonwood. We played OK, but the crowd was weak. We had fun anyway, we always do.

What sorts of things typically influence your music?  And can you remember the most unusual thing that inspired a song?
BRANDON: Lyrically: life, the day to day. Nothing is that unusual anymore really. Musically, it’s when I get around my gear I just want to hear it. I’ll start riffing around and that’s that.

JASON: A hot October Night. Hey, I’m just the drummer I follow along to what the boys write.

TODD: Most songs are spontaneous; they just come out with all of us adding our input.

I was watching an interview with Fat Mike and he was saying he regrets writing some of the early NOFX songs, he went on say that change of mind is a sign of intelligence. What do you think about that quote and have you ever written any songs you regretted later?
LAYTON: Not a NOFX fan. I know they come from the old school, but just never got into that kind of music. I can’t remember regretting anything I have written. 

BRANDON: I think everyone regrets early material at some point. It doesn’t bother me really. I’ll reflect back on it and pull ideas out. It is what it is and it always makes you a better writer.

JASON: Not in this band….

TODD: Sure, but I don’t dwell on that.  The more you write the more you improve.  I don’t really regret anything; it’s all in good fun.

What sorts of things do you enjoy doing other than playing music, any hobbies or anything like that?
LAYTON: Hanging out by my pool drinking beer and listening to ‘80’s hard core.

BRANDON: Honestly this is all I do. I collect musical gear and listen to and write music.
Those are my main hobbies.

JASON: Skateboarding, Snowboarding, Bicycles I dig all that shit. Go fast and take chances.

TODD: Art, skateboarding, partying, picking up chicks, eating.

What are some records you like putting on that can guarantee to lift you up when life’s kicked you down?
LAYTON: I don’t know that music does that for me. I just listen to it when I fell like it.  Toxic Reasons Kill by Remote Control comes to mind. 

BRANDON: The Crack – In Search Of…

JASON: NOFX - The Decline, Freeze - Talking Bombs, Malignus Youth - ALL OF IT,
The Clash – Supermarket, AC/DC - Sink the Pink (Makes me Laugh every time)
William Shatner - Common People, U.S. Bombs - That’s Life, Frank Black & the Catholics - I Want Rock & Roll, Black President - Not Amused, Etta James - In the Basement, Alkaline Trio - Maybe I’ll Catch Fire, Plump Tones - Fire Chicken

TODD: Whatever I’m into at the moment.  Right now, it’s The Horrors, Jason Isbell, Temples, Dum Dum Girls, and Drive-By Truckers.

What do the Smoke Bombs have in store for the remainder of 2014?
LAYTON: We just finished recording our first full length album.  We’re getting the artwork together to have it pressed, should hit store shelves by fall.

BRANDON: New album coming out very soon and continuing to write more material.

JASON: New record coming VERY soon.

TODD: Finish our record, do a video for one of the songs, write new songs, play a few gigs, party!

Thursday, July 24, 2014


     Miscalculation’s bio reads like the opening of a sci-fi film “dark, asbestos-lined basement[s] . . . and a towering loft overlooking the concrete, steel and flesh of North London” or a graphic novel that poses an overarching question such as “When the earth dies how will life as we know it sustain itself?” Besides the pondering, what Miscalculations does bring to their songs, is not just a group of talented NFT members (Gaggers and Ladykillers), is a mixed cocktail of ’77 UK punk and ’79 post-punk drank by deft individuals who might wear turtlenecks, but hide razorblades in the garment’s neck folds.

Interview by Ed Stuart

Who’s answering the questions?
Marco, lead vocalist

Where is the band from?
The band is from London, but we all have roots all over the place. I was born here, but am Italian, Mauro is from Chile, Bobby is Swedish and Shaun is English.

Who is in the band and what instrument do they play?
I sing and play synth, Shaun plays drums, Mauro plays guitar and Bobby plays bass.

In between Ladykillers, Gaggers, No Front Teeth Records and the other bands you guys are individually a part of, Miscalculations gets started. How did the band start?
Shaun and I are both in the Gaggers so we see a lot of each other and Shaun told me he was working on something a bit different and played it to me so I wrote some lyrics and Miscalculations was born. We both listen to a lot of post-punk and electro like Wire, The Units, Screamers and stuff like that and both love Scandinavian punk like Masshysteri, Invasionen, Tristess, Hurula, Vanna Inget and the Vicious so we knew exactly what direction we wanted to go in. We didn’t want to have too much of a definitive structure with this, we just wanted to see how these songs would organically develop. It was new territory for both of us.

Do you think music can still be a vital force in such a disposable age?
Definitely. I still think music is one of the most powerful things that will never go away. Every generation will be defined through music. I think the way people listen to music has changed for sure – it’s much more disposable now – but it’s also way more accessible and I think more people are listening to music now than ever before.

Miscalculations seem to dance the fine line between ’77 UK punk and ’79 post-punk like Wipers and Wire did. What were some of the ideas and bands that influenced both Miscalculations and the songwriting for the band?
Well, the most important thing was that we wanted to do something completely different to all the (many) other projects we are involved with. As well as the bands I mentioned earlier, we also love contemporary stuff like the Mind Spiders, Radioactivity, Bellicose Minds, The Spits, Generacion Suicida, Nicole Saboune, Shocked Minds and stuff like that so we naturally merged all the stuff we love without stressing too much on a particular sound or objective. We let it weave it’s way instinctively both musically and lyrically. The lyrical scope is so wide with Miscalculations which is something so refreshing for me.

The Miscalculations LP was released on Dead Beat Records. Was Dead Beat Records chosen because of the previous relationship The Gaggers have with the label? Did other labels coming asking to help with the release because of who is in the band?
I have known Tom for years so we had a relationship a good decade before the Gaggers LP even came out! I think Tom really has his ear to the ground and can spot stimulating punk very early on. He has great radar for invigorating music and truly does release what he loves and what he believes in. He puts his whole heart into the label and into each release so we knew we were in good hands. Tom approached us after the first 7” and as a band we thought it was a no-brainer to go with him and Dead Beat - we were very happy with the Gaggers LP and are very happy with the Miscalculations LP too. Yes, there were and are other labels interested in releasing Miscalculations records and we are currently talking to a few for some upcoming stuff. We are also starting a Miscalculations / NFT sub-label called Glass Eye Records for Miscalculations records.

50 years ago people used to buy music and get their water for free, now people pay for water and get their music for free. How do you think this affects music in any way?
It means that music is everywhere. It’s so easy now to instantly get whatever music you want either for free or at very little cost. That’s a great thing but the downside is that it does cheapen it too. Music wasn’t just about music when I was growing up, it was a commitment and, sadly,  that’s no longer a necessity – kids can now just delve into bands and scenes without pledging anything. Today its punk, tomorrow hip-hop and something else on the weekend. That wasn’t the case before because there wasn’t all this easy access – you belonged to a scene and a sound and that was it and that was so important. You searched for magazines and instantly connected with people who were wearing a shirt or a patch of a band or whatever because you knew that they had to search for those items – it wasn’t easy. There was no e-Bay, Discogs, Amazon and all the web stores that make it all so easy now.

On North London Bomb Factory’s website it states, “Miscalculations capture the cynicism, obscurity and perplexity of their surroundings and filter it down to the purest punk form” and with song titles like “Asbetos City” and “Preaching Individuality to the Masses,” how much of the lyrics have both social and political commentary? Do you feel cynicism can be used to help bring some change at all?
With Miscalculations, my approach to writing lyrics is totally different to how I write for the Gaggers or Botox Rats or Teenage Tricks or whatever. I have very specific ideas that I want to interpret in a very vague and angular manner. I put all the clues there but then it’s up to the listener to decipher and build the narrative. I always liken it to a painting. A painting is one static image that generates a thousand different reactions and sentiments from a thousand different people. They all read it differently and that’s what I aim for with Miscalculations lyrics. They are the most personal lyrics I have ever written. There is definitely some social commentary, maybe a little political too but I’m certainly not aiming to change anything or anyone.

To piggyback off the last question, there is a quote that acts like a bio/history of the band, which is “Miscalculations were formed in a dark, asbestos-lined basement in Harlow and a towering loft overlooking the concrete, steel and flesh of North London. Absorbing their environment, watching, analyzing and calculating. Miscalculating.” For those of us who don’t live in North London can you give us what that part of London is like? How did much did North London directly or indirectly affect the band’s lyrics?
I have lived in North London my whole life and Shaun has lived in both East and North London as well as Harlow in Essex. Bobby lives in East London and Mauro in South London. My environment has definitely shaped my lyrics. I am hugely influenced by the aesthetics and architecture of my surroundings. I wouldn’t say that you can instantly tell that I am from North London, or even London in general from my lyrics but the roots are there for sure and subconsciously manipulate the words.

What are some bands and/or records you are listening to right now?
Current stuff - Dino’s Boys – that LP has hardly left my turntable in months. Nightmare Boyzz, Average Times, Nicole Saboune, Buck Biloxi and the Fucks, Gino and the Goons, Criminal Code and then always listening to Crime, The Fast, Jo Squillo, Screamers, Teenage Head and stuff like that.

What’s next for Miscalculations?
A new 7” that is going to press in the next week or so and then the second full-length in the not too distant future!

The New Rochelles

     What makes a good pop punk band? Surely it’s not musical skill; The Ramones have been hounded for years over their technical simplicity and yet they remain kings. It most certainly isn’t lyrics; most pop punk bands use the simplest of words to describe everyday mundane events, love, hate and every emotion in between. What I feel makes a good pop punk band is the ability to emotionally throw yourself into your music, admitting imperfection, vulnerability, and most importantly, just have pure, unpolluted fun. Long Beach, NY’s, The New Rochelles take all of these qualities, stuff them into very loud amplifiers and blast it at you like confetti cannons. What makes most grownups so boring? Whatever it is listening to the New Rochelles will help in steering clear of it!

Interview by J Castro

First off, who’s all in the band and what is everyone’s function in The New Rochelles?
RONNIE: I'm Ronnie Rochelle. I'm the singer and I play guitar.
RICKY: I’m Ricky; I play drums and sing backing vocals.
ROOKIE: I’m Rookie; I play bass.

How did you all meet and decide to play music together?
RONNIE: Ricky and I have been playing music since the dawn of time, we found Rookie on a street corner somewhere and he was eager to downstroke with us.

As kids, who or what inspired you to want to learn how to play or write music?
RONNIE: I learned how to play music just to pick up girls.
RICKY: I recorded a demo cassette at home with a childhood friend. We had no real instruments but we made a bunch of sequenced sounds and I was drawn to that. Then another friend and I wanted to start a band at age 13 as a social thing, so we bought drums and a guitar and began to play.
ROOKIE: It seemed easy enough.

Do you remember who first introduced you to punk music?
RONNIE: I was fooling around in the neighborhood one day as a kid; I found a duffel bag full of beer, porn and some Screeching Weasel cassette tapes. The rest is history.
RICKY: My friends and I stumbled on it together at the end of Jr. High School. My dad bought Ramones Mania right after Joey Ramone died, that’s how I got into the Ramones.
ROOKIE: My Dad grew up in Rockaway Beach, so The Ramones were always on in the house growing up.

You guys released a split 7” with Austria’s Dee Cracks last year on Swamp Cabbage Records. Tell me a bit about the song “Cuidado”. Was it inspired by firsthand experience?
RONNIE: “Cuidado” is inspired from a true story involving me, the US border patrol and one fine Mexican mamacita. I can't go into much detail as legal issues are still pending.

I don’t hear any politics or heavy social issues in your lyrics. Is this a conscience decision? What do you guys’ think of MRR and the punk rock political correctness police?
RONNIE: I wouldn't be able to tell you who or what is going on politically in the world.
People just write about what's on their minds. For me, pizza and other stupid shit is always on mine.
RICKY: We’re unaffiliated with MRR and the punk rock police.
ROOKIE: Politics are dumb.

When you guys aren’t playing or listening to music, what will people typically find you doing?
RONNIE: When I'm not playing music I'm usually at the beach, cracking a cold one. I also like old Nintendo games.
RICKY: Working a job and hanging out with my girlfriend. I'm easy to please. You can find me playing Game Boy and drinking beers while she watches some television show about snobby housewives or families with 38 children.
ROOKIE: You can find me watching whatever baseball game is on or picking my nose, sometimes both.

There is documented evidence that the U.S. Government has used Van Halen and Skinny Puppy to torment prisoners. If you were in charge of selecting the music to use to torture people what songs would you use? Give me your top five.
RONNIE: If you turn on top 40 radio right now for about an hour you'll hear the same 5 songs about 30 times. So, that seems pretty torturous to me. Is torturous a word?
RICKY: Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith.
ROOKIE: Nirvana, Sublime, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley and Led Zeppelin.

I read that out of all the art forms, music has the power to change a person’s mood the fastest. Do you agree with this? If so, are there any records you put on that will almost always ease you out of a bad day?
RONNIE: Nothing beats putting an original Ramones record on a turntable; much like prescription narcotics, its mind altering.
RICKY: Tie-dying T-shirts always does the trick for me.
ROOKIE: I only listen to the McRackins, what mood am I in?

Can you tell me about the most memorable New Rochelles gig, good or bad, and what made it so?
RONNIE: Every New Rochelles gig was a blur. I think one time we played with Green Day?
RICKY: We played a Halloween show as the Ramones a few years back. There was a great crowd and it ruled.
ROOKIE: I think one time we got through an entire set.

Where can people go to hear or buy your music?
RONNIE: Ask Rookie about where to buy our music, I seriously couldn't even tell you. Do we even have stuff for sale?
RICKY: I’m sure they’ll figure it out.
ROOKIE: You can hear/buy our music including our debut 7-inch “It’s New!” and our split 7-inch with DeeCracks “The Smile Of The Tiger” at or Coming soon our split 7-inch with Windowsill on Swamp Cabbage and Lost Youth Records and our complete discography “It’s New, Too!” on Kid Tested Records.

What lies in the near future for The New Rochelles?
RONNIE: Who knows what the future holds for The New Rochelles. I don't even know what I'm doing tomorrow.
RICKY: It's a secret.
ROOKIE: More debt, more dependency, more fun.

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Atlantic Thrills – A Day at The Beach 7” (Almost Ready Records)
According to the bands bio, this Providence, RI band can play anything from full blown nuclear mushroom cloud garage punk to fun in the sun drenched surf ditties; let this record stand as exhibit “A” as evidence to why the above statement is 100% truthful. The A side, “A Day at The Beach” is the perfect soundtrack to a warm day on the sand, dancing, frolicking about and even playing volleyball with an oversized beach ball.  The B Side, “Hold Your Tongue,” is a 1960’s garage Rock N’ Roll stomp-o-rama similar to The Monk’s song “Complication.” Atlantic Thrills effortlessly deliver the goods . . . and then some! – Jay Castro

1-800-BAND – Diver Blue 12” EP (Almost Ready Records)
When I was growing up in the 1980’s, these are the type of songs I would hear anytime the radio was turned on. Now, I realize writing statements like this date me and possibly rears the ugly head of a “My generation is better than your generation” article, but it is a little sad that to find the songs that 1-800-BAND writes are ones that have to be searched for. Diver Blue is full of a mix of American Power Pop (think early Tom Petty and The Beat) mixed with ‘80’s pop that nestles it’s way into your head like an earwig. Memorable and catchy choruses mixed with earnest vocals with a splash of Dwight Tilley thrown in. – Ed Stuart

Ausmuteants – Amusements LP (Goner Records)
Dusty Australian synth-punk band of apocalyptic doomsayers Ausmutants bring us songs pieced together with duct tape, scrap metal and ultra melodic hooks all wrapped in shell casings of bleakness and urgency.  Ausmutants immediately remind me of contemporary bands like Miscalculations and Sex Crime with hints of bands from the way back machine like Screamers. This long player delivers songs that are short, sharp, and dark.  Ausmutants aren’t a carbon copy of the above-mentioned bands make no mistake about that. They push and shove their way right to the top of their game and stand side by side next to the genera’s best. – Jay Castro

Liquor Store – In The Garden LP (Almost Ready Records)
Years ago, Canadian Club whisky ran an ad campaign entitled “Damn Right Your Dad Drank It.” The ads featured a series of vintage pictures of young versions of “dads” pictured with women other than their wives, hanging out with friends, and proclaiming the virtues of having a van. Where am I going with this? Liquor Store seems like the kids of these vintage “dads” and upon finding “dad’s” long hidden record collection and old photos were so influenced that they decided to start a band. Liquor Store plays a mix of garage and classic rock, which upon first thought you might think wouldn’t work, but on In The Garden it does. Liquor Store plays the kind of rock that is heavy on guitar chops and falls somewhere between MC5 “Kick out the Jams” and Credence Clearwater Revival influenced southern Rock by way of New Jersey.  – Ed Stuart

The Reigning Sound – Live at Goner Records LP (Goner Records)
This record was recorded June 26th, 2005 and was originally available only as a limited edition CD, until now that is! If any of you aren’t familiar with The Reigning Sound, I have but one question: WHY NOT? Greg and the boys deliver some brilliantly melodic, well-crafted punk Rock N’ Roll tunes that ooze warmth, charm and style that is nearly unsurpassed by any of their contemporaries. This record is as good a place to start listening to this band as any. The sound quality is excellent plus you get a sample of the oomph that Reigning Sound brings to the stage. In the land of Rock N’ Roll, The Reigning Sound is giants among men. – Jay Castro

Ex-Cult – Midnight Passenger LP (Goner Records)
Ex-Cult live in a world where punk and post-punk meet. Midnight Passenger is an arguable equivalent to Wipers, Mission of Burma and X (Australia not Los Angeles). Razorblade guitars with an art-damaged, noise punk urgency set against a bubbling punk cauldron on some songs while others are a full of 1960’s psychedelic mood and atmosphere.  – Ed Stuart

Hard Girls – A Thousand Surfaces LP (Asian Man Records)
The San Jose, CA power trio’s second album has songs that are tightly packed with their unique brand of melodic, intelligent ferocity. To me, the qualities I hear in this band are similar to the ones I love in bands like Jawbreaker, J Church and Superchunk. A swirling blurred force of guitars and drums whisking quickly and violently around you with honest vocals that serve as the anchor to keep everything from getting too out of control.  On the band’s Facebook profile they list “havin’ fun” and “gettin’ over depression” as some of their interests. Thankfully we have bands like Hard Girls that makes those things easier for the rest of us to get through! – Jay Castro

Ricky C Quartet – I Miss You b/w Feed The Crocodiles 7” (Wanda Records)
With a LP coming out this summer, I’m wondering if I Miss You b/w Feed The Crocodiles is a teaser single to hold us over until the summer. If it is, then I will patiently wait. This single is a ripping two songer that finds Ricky C Quartet (or RCQ) playing a mix of Saints, The Kids and 1960’s proto-punk. “I Miss You” has an intro that seems to be a missing part to a Mick Jones sung Clash song that doubles as both influence and homage. Solid release! – Ed Stuart

Stalins of Sound – Tank Tracks LP (Slovenly Recordings)
Stalins of Sound hurl dark and damaged punk rock that rides a black sound tidal wave of synthesizers and anxiety. The name of the band and the cover photo of the record, that shows a tank on a busy freeway mowing down motorists, pretty much sums up their music. These San Diego residents deliver the soundtrack to the harsh reality of when (not if) the machines finally take over and humanity’s days are numbered. The human race resists their extinction agenda however, and a rag tag crew of cold, calculating militant types band together and fight back. The Stalins of Sound are geared up for the first strike against the enemy stronghold. – Jay Castro

Hobocop – Half Man Half Cop LP (Slovenly Recordings)
From what I could gather from various sources was that Hobocop was a two-person band from Oakland around 2010, but are no more. The ex-Hobocop members are Cody, currently is in Shannon and The Clams and King Lollipop, and Owen, who moved to New York City to pursue an animation job. While this is nothing like what Cody does in either of his current bands, Hobocop are a mix of fuzzy, dirty, bedroom and/or basement recordings that have the 4-track spirit of Sebodah while playing a lo-lo-fi 1960’s garage punk. – Ed Stuart

Wavelengths – S/T LP (Rubber Brother Records)
Wavelengths summon up the fun, lighthearted spirits of the 1960’s and manage to funnel them into your speakers and into your uptight cranium. Enjoyable tunes of loose psychedelic, kick back lounge and garage splatter about. I am certain this record has been specifically written to raise your good time mood to a near uncontrollable level. Never taking themselves too seriously, which is a good thing with song titles like “Take It Sleazy,” and at the same time deliver some straight rock right outta the garage with songs like “I Don’t Wanna.” Wavelengths keep the rock rollicking throughout the album’s duration. – Jay Castro

Wolvves – Go Demon or Go Home (Rubber Brother Records)
Wolvves is one-part lo-fi garage rock, one-part Spits, one-part rap and one-part psychedelic. If you learn anything from Go Demon or Go Home, it’s that these guys like smokin’ weed and preferably all day if you let them. Much like Fidlar, New Swears and a host of other bands, that have tapped the teenage party lyrical vibe, Wolvves is covering similar ground but what they do is mix it up musically by shifting garage-punk, rap verses and psych to arguably become another soundtrack for a growing number of kids. - Ed Stuart

Los Puchos – S/T Cassette EP (Rubber Brother Records)
Jordan of Petty Things along with his brother formed the heart of this now defunct Tempe, AZ band. “Puchos” is what the Argentineans refer to as cigarettes, in case anyone is wondering. This cassette reels out some easy going summer lazy tunes that remind me what it would be like to take the mule ride down the Grand Canyon: fun, moving, spiritual, but by no means in any hurry. In my opinion, the standout tracks are “Victoria” which blends what the Puchos do best plus add some garage rock stomp and strut. The other being “Joanne” which reminds me of something Van Morrison could have written.  When all is said and done, Los Puchos graced us with an absolutely solid release, a shame that the band called it a day. – Jay Castro

Playboy Manbaby – Bummeritaville LP (Rubber Brother Records)
Punk? Ska? Funk? No wave? Yes, yes, yes and yes. Playboy Manbaby is like James White and The Contortions fronted by an art-damaged/hardcore raspy vocal singer. Just like The Contortions, Playboy Manbaby is always seeking to strike the balance of when to turn on the punk and when to break it down to funk and on Bummeritaville the band does this exceptionally well. No wave punk-funk with a horn, which brings to mind the New York No Wave scene and the arguably underappreciated Go Go Go Airheart. – Ed Stuart

Durban Poison – Thunderwolf Cassette (Shake! Records)
The Thunderwolf is a mythological creature that seems to exist in different cultures. To the Japanese, the creature is a white wolf wrapped in blue lightening and is said to be pretty calm and harmless except when there is a thunderstorm then it becomes agitated and leaps all around in trees and rooftops scorching all it touches. This same reaction also comes from listening to Durban Poison brand of high-octane music. The Victoria B.C band of ladies and gentlemen shoot bolts of melodic, aggressive punk Rock N’ Roll out of their fingertips that causes one’s soul to stir. Like the Thunderwolf creature this cassette will leave scorch marks on your tape player no matter what the weather condition. – Jay Castro

Bad Doctors – Burning City LP (FDH Records/P. Trash Records)
For all the kids who were born too late for the 1980’s (another thing to blame on your parents), but are totally enamored by the decade, Bad Doctors is a band to claim as your own. Bad Doctors has a steady list of classic influences like New Order, Fascination Street era The Cure, Depeche Mode and later Devo to create a musical tapestry that has everything you would associate with these bands. Pop melodies set against moody rhythms with vocals reminiscent of Ian Curtis. Synth-punk-new wave, when done wrong, can sound like a bad cliché, but on Burning City, Bad Doctors are doing it just right. – Ed Stuart

Primitive Hearts – High and Tight LP, (Resurrection Records/FDH Records/P-Trash Records) & S/T 7” EP (Resurrection Records/No Rules! Records)
These records came out last year but they just recently arrived at the drawbridge of the Audio Ammunition secret mountain castle/fortress. We played them (a lot) and loved ‘em so we want to share the experience with you, our friends. Just because they came out a year ago doesn’t make them any less relevant by any means. Primitive Hearts play a kind of pop punk/power pop hybrid that not a lot of bands have been able to pull off: The Yum Yums, The Basement Brats, and The Parasites are just a few that come to mind at the moment. They sing about loves won and lost, the good times of yesterday and the ones that are yet to be had. Primitive hearts are the band you put on when your best lady stomped on your heart and when you’re getting psyched for the big Saturday night. – Jay Castro

Hector’s Pets – Pet-O-Feelia LP (Oops Baby Records)
Hector’s Pets takes a lot of cues from Too Tough To Die-era Ramones, Dictators, Chuck Berry riffs, Thin Lizzy-esque vocals and Beach Boys harmonies to make a guitar driven Rock N’ Roll, Dirtbombs influenced LP with enough pop for the power-popper in you. Pet-O-Feelia has tongue firmly planted in cheek, as if the title wasn’t indication enough, songs like “Station Wagon” and “Teenacher” are catchy reminder of how early ‘70’s Punk N’ Roll could be tough and fun just like Hector’s Pets. – Ed Stuart

Cat Party – A Thousand Shades of Gray 7” EP (Resurrection Records)
This band is a current band from California, but sounds like they came from England in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s marching with the likes of The Cure, Echo and The Bunnymen and Joy Division. Although they share a dark romanticism with the above-mentioned bands, Cat Party put a bit more velocity behind it. Unlike a lot of bands that share the same influences, when you listen to Cat Party their music doesn’t just make you want to listen to the originals, their music makes you want to listen to more Cat Party: melodic, melancholy with just a hint of late 1970’s punk bubbling beneath the surface to keep things moving. Me being a huge fan of this type of music (yes, I’m a lover not a fighter) I cry brilliance! – Jay Castro

Snookys – Steroids 7” (Self-release)
Garage-punk from Italy that would fit right at home with anything Rip Off had ever put out. “Steriods” has a riff that is as mean as anything from The Infections catalog. On Steroids, Snookys have given the world three ripping songs of short, raw, energetic punk rock that mixes 70’s Australian punk (think Fun Things “Savage”) with late 90’s garage (Infections). – Ed Stuart

Honey Badgers – Buena Park LP (Resurrection Records)
California’s Honey Badgers bring forth a brand of catchy, fun, ferocious, Billy Childish influenced garage Rock N’ Roll to us in matching black suits and skinny ties. This album is a bi-polar rollercoaster ride of emotion; from playful little ditties like the song “Funky C” to full swing garage mayhem demonstrated in the songs “Bumstick” and “Bone Zone” where you can almost feel the lead singer screaming at you two inches away from your face. The band does employ keyboards, and it is utilized in some songs way more than in others, but it doesn’t by any means take away from the 1960’s garage kick that this record was meant to be an homage to. I think the forefathers would be proud. – Jay Castro

Lunch – Quinn Touched The Sun LP (Resurrection Records)
On Quinn Touched The Sun, Lunch has added the ingredients of Gun Club, Wipers, Minutemen, No Wave and garage rock to its noisy punk rock stew. Lunch, like many other new bands, has been baptized at the church of garage punk rock, but they do not just stop there. Songs like “Monochrome Lust” have taken Gun Club’s punkabilly and taken it to new directions while “Frill and Lace” and “Teen Guitar” can not hide Lunch’s love of pop melodies employed in much the same way as Wipers did.  – Ed Stuart

The Shrills – Melt Down LP, Pink Hotel Cassette EP, Ghoul Kids Cassette EP (Resurrection Records)
The Shrills fire away cannon blasts of lo-fi, trashy Rock N’ Roll chaos with slathers of 1950’s rockabilly and doo-wop incased in bombshells of 1960’s garage pandemonium.  Imagine if Flat Duo Jets and Supercharger came together in a remote part of the universe like some sort of unstoppable Rock N’ Roll Voltron robot but instead of a sword is armed with a keyboard. Now it heads towards earth on a strict mission to rid the world of all that is dull and tedious in contemporary music. This gives you some idea of what I’m trying to keep from exploding my speakers for the last few days. All three of these releases contain the same high proof mixture with little to no let up! – Jay Castro 

The Rich Hands – Out Of My Head LP (Fountain Records/Burger Records)
Out of My Head could be the bubblegum soundtrack for this generation of lovelorn kids looking for first dates and the perils of dating with a lack of funds. The Rich Hands mix Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry three-chords and a riff simplicity with ‘60’s bubblegum pop and ’70 American power-pop with outsider cool to make some highly catchy power-pop Rock N’ Roll. “So Fine” sounds like something Teenage Head would have written while “Teenager” is the soundtrack of late night car races where trying to impress your girl might end by driving off a cliff. – Ed Stuart

V/A – No Rules! No Fun Compilation LP (No Rules Records)
Holy Smokes, this is one of the best comp records I’ve heard from beginning to end in a really long time. It’s as if they had Audio Ammunition in mind when the fab folks over at No Rules concocted it. The fun starts off with Oakland’s Top Ten and their cover of The Real Kids “Hit You Hard” sung with female vocals, which adds a new twist to an already killer song. The record keeps up the pace with some of my already favorites like Youthbitch, Primitive Hearts, Mean Jeans, and Chemicals just to name a few. Bands I discovered on here that I now love are Piss Test, Huff Stuff, and Perfect Look. If you’re a fan of fun pop punk that’s high on the melodic side and bursting with energy, then you owe it to yourself to get this record NOW! – Jay Castro 

Dime Runner – Race To Nowhere LP – (Resurrection Records)
Orange County has a very storied history of punk and has produced many seminal bands from its two area codes, Adolescents, Social Distortion and The Stitches to name just a few. Dime Runner takes a more punk Rock N’ Roll approach to their OC sound much like The Pushers did and other Hostage released bands have done. Race To Nowhere (which came out late 2012/early 2013) is full of razor sharp guitar and the county’s trademark snotty vocals. Dime Runner, while they may not reside behind the Orange Curtain, certainly has the trademarks of the county’s best punk bands. – Ed Stuart

The Shanghais – Pretty Mean 7” (No Rules Records)
The parade of fantastic releases just keeps coming from the lads at No Rules Records this time with this EP by these Oakland, California girls (and boy) The Shanghai’s! What we got here is (and I wanna add that’s it’s not nearly enough) some cat claw catchy, pop punk with thick buzz saw guitars and furious drum bashing accompanied by melodic female vocals and on occasion some doo wop-y backing vocals. The production on the record is just minimal enough to give the songs that edge and abrasion that music of this sort needs yet isn’t so lo-fi that it blocks the melodies from beaming through. I look forward to living in a world with a band like The Shanghai’s walking amongst us and making music. – Jay Castro 

Bad Coyotes – Time for Sex Positions 7”  – (Resurrection Records)
Self billed as “Oakland rock n roll sex punks,” Bad Coyotes play a Rip Offs/Infections style of high-energy budget rock with a guitar sound that sounds like a chainsaw cutting through sludge at an early The Kids pace. “Rat Breeders” keep up that intensity while adding traces of Walk Among Us Misfits into the mix. Time for Sex Positions is mixed high into the red for maximum energy and minimal clarity. Greg Lowery would be proud!  – Ed Stuart

Sex Scheme – S/T 7” EP (Puppet Combo Records)
Brooklyn, New York’s Sex Scheme scruffily thrust at you some brutally blown out, lo-fi, broken blues, with harmonica and all. Supposedly the band spent 60 dollars recording this record. Not that it matters; hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent to produce absolute rubbish. When playing this record however, be warned that the humidity level of the room suddenly rises to the levels that are unmatched by the southern states of the union in the middle of the summer months, the room you’re in suddenly has dirty maroon shag carpeting and the paintings on the wall turn into velvet renditions of what they once were. Turned up, sleazy out, and fuming all around: this is the order of the day for the band Sex Scheme and they execute this order quite well. – Jay Castro