Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Yum Yums

     In a perfect world, there would be a tribute statue erected in Norway with the likeness of Yum Yums front man Morten Henrikson. For years he’s been strumming away writing and performing glowing pop songs, just the way the Norse God of pop songs intended. Songs that are so jam packed with guitar hooks and genuinely heartfelt lyrics that you instantly feel a connection with them. Sometimes I feel like maybe that's why bands like The Yum Yums aren't as popular as they should be; it's almost too emotionally “real” for most people to take. That's why all these disconnected theatrical rock star puppets rule the airwaves.  So where is this Norse God of pop songs and why isn't he striking down all of these fraudulent poets of musical swill you ask? Why he's too busy writing songs for his band The Yum Yums!

Interview by Jay Castro

What is the origin story of your band Morten? I know you have had a lot of people come and go, but with the original line up: how did you all meet and decide to form a band?
The Yum Yums was my idea from the start. My former garage band The Cosmic Dropouts had just broken up and I wanted to start a light hearted pop-band with punk energy to stand up to all the grunge, black metal and "beats per minute" crap that was out there in 1993. I wanted a band like Paul Collins Beat, The Barracudas, The Real Kids and of course The Ramones, plus more "modern" bands like The Queers, Psychotic Youth (Swe), The Vacant Lot and Sonic Surf City (Swe). A band like The Devil Dogs was also a HUGE influence. Still is! I basically recruited guys I knew were into the same music I was, regardless if they were "good" musicians or not.

As a kid, do you remember what band or musician made you want to pick up an instrument and want to write your own music?
Yep: The Monkees were my favorite band when I was 4. My mom bought me Monkees singles after we watched The Monkees TV show. Later I got obsessed with the British glitter and glam pop wave of the early 70's. Slade, Sweet, Suzy Quatro, Gary Glitter, Mud… you name it! They were all gods! Then Kiss, The Ramones and punk rock. Later I started digging backwards for ‘60's garage rock, surf, girl groups and bubblegum, even 50's Rock N' Roll, R & B and rockabilly.

What is life like for a power pop band in Norway? Are there some other similar bands to play with out there right now?
We have actually been pretty much alone, doing the kind of Ramones-y power-pop that we do. Norway is such a small country, so the bands we like to play with and hang out with are bands of various genres. Lately some new punk / power pop bands have turned up, though like Sugar Louise, The Promdates, The Whipshades, The Hallingtons. Other bands to check out would be Peter Berry and The Shake Set (‘60's beat), Los Plantronics (spaghetti-instrumental), Gringo Bandido (Intense Greg Cartwright-style pop rock).

On the new album …Play Good Music, the subjects of the songs run a full emotional spectrum of relationships, everything from being happy in love to being happy without it. Are all of these songs about the same person or are you able to look back and tap into emotions from your past?
The angry bitter and hateful songs are mostly about my ex girlfriend Caroline (of Caroline & The Treats), who had dumped me right when I was writing the lyrics for the album. Not a happy time, but good for inspiration I guess. The happier songs are either written before the breakup, or are about what life and love could or should be like in a perfect world. The album is actually still kind of hard for me to listen to. Oh well… these days I am writing songs for the next Caroline & The Treats album, which I also will record and produce. She writes her own lyrics though.

Aside from the obvious power pop influences, the song on the new album “And a Whole Lot of You” has an almost Motown intro like “Can’t Help Myself” by the Four Tops.  Are you a fan of Motown and groups like these?
There are a lot of different influences on the album. The main influence for “And A Whole Lotta You” is however bubblegum pop. No particular song. But I am of course a fan of the Motown stuff and bands / artists like that too. There were a lot of Motown influences in Bubblegum music too.

Although Yum Yum’s lyrics aren’t always happy and sunny the music that accompanies them usually is. Do you have any music that you put on when you’re down about something that can brighten up your mood?
Any Rock And Roll, baby! All kinds! As long as it rocks!

Where are the best places for people to hear or buy your music?
Anywhere we play, I guess. My favorite place to play is always at the Wurlitzer Ballroom in Madrid. We have a fantastic, faithful gang of fans there. Always a party! Where to buy our records? Any well-stocked records store, iTunes Store, or directly from me: mhenrik@online.no

What does the band have in store for us in the near or not so near future?
I have written A LOT of new Yum Yums songs, and we are planning to record a new album this summer / fall for release later in the fall. I guess I need to find another girl who can break up with me, so I can get the lyrics going. Lyrics are always a hassle! I hope we can release a new single shortly. I wrote a summer-song last summer called "Summertime Pop". It's about guys who spend their days and nights indoors playing their "Perfect Summer 45's" instead of going to the beach.

The Cheap Cassettes

     In the late 1990’s, The Dimestore Haloes, along with a handful other bands were the soundtrack to my young adulthood. I felt a connection with a lot of these bands not only because of their greatness but also because they were all around the same age as me. Then suddenly they all started retreating back to the corners of the country from which they all came. This was now the mid 00's, a time in underground punk that I call “the dark times.” A time when good bands and labels were few and far between, compared to the salad days of the mid to late 1990's that is.  But now it’s 2014 and the genre is experiencing a resurgence of sorts and Chaz and Kevin of The Dimestore Haloes are back, this time as The Cheap Cassettes, a glam, power-pop powerhouse that hits you like a pair of difibulators to the chest. The Cheap Cassettes are here to send Rock N’ Roll energy back into the pulse less hearts of America!

Interview by Jay Castro

First off, I want to thank you both for taking some time here for us, we appreciate it!
CHAZ: No worries, I’ve got the day off work and I was spending it watching old Kix videos on YouTube. In my underwear, trust me you are not interrupting anything important.

KEVIN: No problem. Glad to be here.

Let’s start with introductions: who are you guys and how do you help fuel the Cheap Cassettes Rock N’ Roll machine?
CHAZ: I play guitar and sing. I write a good portion of the songs. I play Gibson guitars and I use Dr. Rubin’s hair grease.

KEVIN: I play drums, some of the bass, a little rhythm/lead guitar and some backing/lead vocals. I also ended up doing most of the mixing/mastering/album art.

You guys used to be in a much beloved band of the late 1990’s early 2000’s called The Dimestore Haloes.  What led to the decision to put the brakes on that?
CHAZ: It just kind of fell apart in 2003. We had done four full length records and a bunch of singles and had a bunch of different line ups, and it seemed like it had run its’ course. Then Kevin left Boston for Hawaii, so that ended that. I had always kind of hoped we’d do more someday but then after our original drummer, Jimmy Reject died in 2006, it just seemed more definitely over with.

KEVIN: I always end up taking the blame for that one ha ha. Let’s just say that our bass player at the time literally couldn’t play and we had some other issues. That and I followed a girl half way across the world.

I was reading the bio on The Haloes Facebook page and it read “Made some great records nobody heard, played some great live shows few people attended,” do you plan to try a different approach with Cheap Cassettes so that this isn’t the case again?  Do you think if social media was as prevalent then things would have been any different?
CHAZ: Well, the thing for me is this; we are from a different generation of Rock and Roll type people, and unlike a lot of kids today, we never learned to be businessmen. We never had a manager, we never had a booking agent, we haphazardly did everything ourselves, and while we were great at writing songs and playing guitars and looking cool onstage, we were not good at those practical, real world aspects of the business. Looking back, I am satisfied that we are still known and remembered by a clued in elite, for lack of a better term, who were very into the more interesting bands from that era. I think those types of people are happy that, unlike the Dropkick Murphy’s for instance who started out in our scene and quite quickly became more of a mainstream thing, the Haloes still sort of belong to the underground. As far as doing anything different with the Cheap Cassettes: probably not ha ha.

KEVIN: I can’t really comment too much about the records and live shows. I think I played on one 7” and the last album? I was just glad to have been part of the whole disaster! To me, the real Dimestore Haloes was always Chaz, Jimmy, Lorne and Marcus so as far as a different approach: I guess the way we are going about the whole thing is pretty unique. If social media was prevalent when I was in the band I wouldn’t have had to mail out press kits and make follow up calls on my land line phone ha ha.

So the collection of songs you have up on your Bandcamp page (cheapcassettes.bandcamp.com) has been a long distance work in progress.  Recording took place on the east coast and mid west and then there’s Hawaii? How did you end up there and has it been difficult piecing everything together in this manner?
CHAZ: Kevin has lived in Hawaii since the mid 2000’s, I left Boston in 2011 and have lived in Ann Arbor, Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin since then. We’ve done the record one piece at a time, emailing tracks and lyrics back and forth. We only “speak” via text and email. Neither of us likes talking on phones. We’ve seen each other and hung out a few times when Kevin is on the mainland, but we haven’t physically played together in a little over ten years. So it’s a weird thing, but it’s a great Rock and Roll album that came about in an unusual way. We still rock like murder, as somebody once said.

KEVIN: Like I said earlier, I ended up meeting the love of my life and followed her. We ended up coming back to where she grew up, Hawaii. For various reasons we had to stay. It sounds cliché, but it’s true! Chaz approached me sometime in 2010, I think, about making a long distance record. I thought it was a great idea and we kind of worked out a way for him to send me tracks online. I then recorded my parts (drums, some bass/guitars/backing vocals) at my house and mixed everything down. It hasn’t really been difficult at all. In fact it’s been kind of seamless. The only trouble we run into is that we are both really busy and two weeks turns into two months turns into two years.

I loved that you covered “Happy When It Rains” by Jesus and Mary Chain, Darklands is one of my favorite records of all time! Is there any music that you guys listen to that you think may surprise some of your fans?
CHAZ: I listen to everything from old country and rockabilly to power pop, blues, new wave, heavy metal, post punk...I like guitar music, and I like good songs. Genres and haircuts and shoes don’t really matter, as much to me now as they did when I was a feisty youngster.

KEVIN: I suggested that we each pick a song to cover and I ended up choosing that song. I remember having a list of songs that I wanted to tackle and that one just struck me. I don’t think anything I listen to would really shock any of our fans. I have been listening to The Replacements last two albums non-stop for about two months now, that may ruffle some feathers!

Chaz, I read your post How to Be a Well Dressed Man about Town, Spring 2014 Edition on your blog http://chazmatthews.blogspot.com and I absolutely loved it especially that you kept affordability in mind.  Tell me a bit about what led you to write about men’s fashion and have you had any thoughts about a career in that industry?
CHAZ: I’ve always been into clothes, and history, and retro fashion. Even in the Haloes era, I was very into rockabilly and doing the whole ‘50’s thing. It’s evolved since then for me, and a lot of the stuff I’ve always liked is accidentally in fashion now, maybe because of TV shows like “Mad Men” reminding people of how cool people dressed in the ‘50s. I think its fun to write about things I like, that’s what blogging is about I suppose, and one of the things I like is the timelessness of that certain era of style. I also love those old ‘70’s and ‘80’s glam rock looks, but as you get older, those looks don’t age so well. The ‘50s and early ‘60’s look is timeless and it’s also very Rock and Roll. I would include the mod and skinhead fashions with that as well. You can age well in those looks. As for a career in fashion, I wouldn’t have the slightest clue how to proceed there.

Besides the Dimestore Haloes and now Cheap Cassettes, you guys have been involved in a few other musical endeavors, can you tell me about the absolute worst shows you guys played and what made it so disastrous?
CHAZ: Saints In Vain and Streetcar were bands I was in pre-Haloes that never really released anything. All I have for this question is that in the Haloes days, we considered it very punk rock to be under rehearsed and over lubricated with alcohol and that led to a lot of things, some good, some not so good. We considered tuning your guitar to be kind of something fancy rock stars did, and we wanted no part of it. Those were different times.

KEVIN: I wasn’t in any of Chaz’s old bands, so I can’t really comment. I was in a few bands in the mid-late 90’s that nobody has ever heard of though. Sputnic, The Hanks, The What-Nots, Lugano etc. The What-Nots actually opened up for the Dropkick Murphys in 1996 I think. Downstairs Middle East, we sucked so bad. When I was 16, I ran a record label/distro out of my bedroom. I released two 7” records by Sputnic and a cassette tape of a band called Plankton.

There are a lot of retro influences in Cheap Cassettes sound, like old power pop, mod, glam, ‘50’s Rock N’ Roll etc. In your travels, have you found any current active bands that inspire you?
CHAZ: Oh yeah, lots. I love the Strypes. I love almost all of the bands on Wild Records, especially The Dragtones. I love the Crazy Squeeze from L.A., Giuda from Italy, Lion’s Law from France. I like JD McPherson and Nick Waterhouse and John Paul Keith and Nikki Hill. There’s so much, I can’t remember it all.

KEVIN: To be honest nothing new has really grabbed me and shook me in quite a while. I am pretty picky about what I listen to these days. I like to dig back and (re)discover old bands and records. I love The Tripwires from Seattle although they haven’t put anything out in a while. I love when The Figgs release new records. The Swingin’ Utters, The Copyrights. Anything Rusty Willoughby does. The Obits are awesome. Chaz is way more hip to the new bands playing around these days.

What can we expect from Cheap Cassettes for the remainder of the year?  Any tours, new albums etc?
CHAZ: The album will finally have a physical release this year. It’s called All Anxious, All The Time, and there will be a CD to buy some time in the near future. We also have a track on the new Jolly Ronnie/Mooster Records compilation CD. As far as live shows, there are tentative plans in the works and we’ll let you know when we know.

KEVIN: All the songs are recorded and I am currently in the process of mastering the album. It WILL be out this year, we promise. I would love to play out at some point. My wife and I are planning on moving back to the mainland within the next year or so, so you never know. I can already hear people going “Ohhh no.”

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


     Musically, toyGuitar picks up right where Jack’s former band One Man Army’s She’s an Alarm EP left off. Jack continues his streak of churning out snappy, quick paced, ultra melodic punk rock. This however isn’t your doom/gloom/death and destruction are imminent style of punk rock though. San Francisco’s tG play a style of music that sends you soaring into the stratosphere and before you know it you’re looking at your troubles far below you where they now seem insignificant. Their self titled EP on Adeline Records, that came out in the latter part of 2013, is an adrenaline shot straight into the heart of life itself, its music that urges you to live fast and take chances. Once you play this record all the way through: you’re unbreakable! 

Interview by Jay Castro

Please introduce yourself and how you contribute to toyGuitar.
Hi, I’m Jack and I play the guitar and sing. Miles plays the other guitar and sings as well. Paul plays the bass. Rosie plays the drums.

Jack, how did you meet these people and decide to play music together?
We met by just being in bands pretty much. Isn’t that the way of it? Miles and I have been playing music together for quite a bit now so being able to play even more music together seemed only natural. Paul plays in the Re-Volts with me and Miles and he plays in the Primitive Hearts, who we love. We saw Rosie play a show in L.A. and at that very instant knew it had to be her playing drums. I think I sent her some awkward Facebook message thingy the very next day. That’s kinda how it went.

From what I’ve read, toyGuitar formed around a handful of songs you had written that didn’t quite fit into the One Man Army arsenal. Is tG a side project or are you guys in it for a long haul?
I kinda wanted to get away from the whole OMA thing. That being said, I have nothing but love for those days and the people who came out and supported us. I really really do. I think it’s important to move forward...meet and play with new people, go different places, try different things ya know? The songs on the last OMA 7inch could have very well been toyGuitar songs or vice versa. I’ve always written what comes out as opposed to wondering if it fits a certain genre. Plus, once my shitty voice gets on the music, it’s all kinda the same handful of songs hehe. I think I can safely say that we wanna play play play, long haul or another day. I love these guys. I wanna write music with them for as long as they want too.

You guys released the EP in digital form first with a physical release afterwards on Adeline Records. What led you to decide to release the record like that?
My brains are mush!! From what I can remember, it was a suggestion from Adeline to stagger it like that I think? I’m not sure. Were actually going into the studio for the toyGuitar full-length really, really soon. Were super excited!

I have read a couple of comparisons made between The Strokes guitar sound and yours. Were they an influence at all when writing or recording these songs?
I guess I get The Strokes comparison?? I mean they do play fender guitars, so do we. I think they have some Fender amps. I think we do. They got a bass. Paul has one too! I think their drummer has a rack tom. We do not though.

I don’t like using the term “guilty pleasure” because I don’t think anyone should be made to feel ashamed of anything they like. However with that being said, what to you listen to that you think a lot of fans may be surprised by?
I don’t like the term “guilty pleasure” either. Like what you like, who cares. I think more than anything Viva ‘L American Death Ray Music has changed me like no other band since The Clash. It’s kinda Velvet Underground, kinda not. It’s got this sleazy, dirty quality to it. It was a HUGE rabbit hole for me. I’m strictly speaking from my perspective of course. I know Rosie listen’s to everything. Paul listens to the Gin Blossoms. Miles listens to Da Lench Mob.

I read that the lyrics to the song “Words Between Us” was inspired by a conversation you had with his young son. What other unlikely things or events have inspired you to write music?
It’s true yes. My son who was 4 ½ at the time was singing “Nothing’s gonna happen to us” over and over again. He said “Not a ginormous earthquake or a wave from the sea” and I think he said “Not an asteroid from space” ha ha. From the mouths of babes right? He was singing into my phone cuz it had a picture of a microphone I think. At any rate, being a first time father it was kinda jarring. Here’s this kid, who literally thinks nothing bad or shitty will ever happen to him. He’s surrounded with love. See’s no color. No motive. He thinks everyone is beautiful and invites them over constantly ha ha. I’ll have him sing into my phone when he’s 18. It’ll be a vastly different song I think. As for other things or events: I mainly write about myself really, not too exciting an admission but it’s good for me to do so. It helps me be happier I'm told.

I read that out of all the different art forms, music has the power to alter a person’s disposition the fastest. Do you agree with this?  Do you have any favorite music that you can put on that will always lift you up from a slump?
I completely agree with it. Certain songs or music can bring you back to places and people you’ve forgotten. Other ones make you cry. Some make you envision and imagine. There’s a power there for sure. I feel like I’m always in some kind of perma-slump, so for me getting to play music is what lifts me up. Sometimes I’ll listen to classical music while I’m driving because I road rage.

The cassette is making a raging comeback. Do you think it’s a viable and collectable form of music or just another hipster trend that will soon go hobbling back to its dark cave of obscurity where in belongs?
I once had an Iron Maiden cassette tape stuck in my car. For. Fucking. Ever. “Can I play with madness…” I have a ton of cassette tapes still. I have nothing to listen to them on though.

Where are the best places for people to hear or buy your music?
On the west coast at our shows. Hopefully soon to be just, “At our shows.”
I’m suppose to know this answer. Adeline? YouTube? iTunes? If you call or text Miles, he’ll send you some.

What does ToyGuitar have in store for us in the near or not so near future?
Were going into the studio really soon, looking at a September or October release. Soooo . . . probably really like an October or November release.

Thanks for the interest! 

Durban Poison

     Durban Poison have been quietly stirring an old black cauldron full of high energy, dark, and driving punk Rock N’ Roll in shadowy woods of Victoria, British Colombia since 2009. They’ve obtained an ancient book of black magic spells, reached deep into its pages and summoned spirits through ritualistic ceremonies that have bestowed upon them similar Rock N’ Roll powers as people such as Cheetah Chrome, Dee Dee Ramone, Suzi Quatro, and Scott Asheton. The men and women of Durban Poison now walk the earth with these powers/curses. Their curse comes to fruition when these individuals, that seem normal when they’re alone, gather together and suddenly chaotic, bruises inducing, riff riddled Rock N’ Roll rips from their souls and melts the flesh off anyone who happens to be nearby. Walk cautiously and listen carefully; you never know when these individuals will be gathering in your town.

Interview by J Castro

Okay Matti, let’s start things off with introductions, who’s all in Durban Poison these days?
MATTI CORVETTE: Well, the current lineup is El Kamino and Me on guitars + an A-list rhythm section composed of Shane Grass (Hot Blood Bombers, Shitty Neighbors) on bass and JJ (DOA, Carpenter) on drums.

How did you all meet and decide to play music together?
MATTI CORVETTE: Originally the band came together from meeting new friends at house parties and everyone just wanting to play music so bad. The first jams were in the UVic art studios until we were kicked out.

As kids, can you remember what band or musician inspired you to want to learn how to play an instrument and/or write music of your own?
MATTI CORVETTE: The Ramones, Joan Jett + The Runaways

I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of people try to describe your sound, but how would you describe Durban Poison yourselves?
MATTI CORVETTE: Rock and roll-y, punk-y, co-ed, fuck I hate describing myself so usually just use what other people have written ha ha, “hi-octane garage rock.”

Your 2011 album Lost In Space has a few nods to one of earths mightiest bands, The Ramones! I get this strange hollow feeling in my chest when I stop and really think about this band being gone. Do you think there will ever be a band like The Ramones that will inspire so many people again?
MATTI CORVETTE: I’d like to hope that there’s that possibility, but I feel it would occur in another genre or sub-genre as the Ramones were that for punk rock. There won’t ever be another ‘70’s punk movement: that happened in the ‘70’s. 

Tell me about the cover of the Thunderwolf EP (which I totally love) and what the song is about?   
MATTI CORVETTE: The cover was drawn by lead guitarist in the band, El Kamino, who has done a lot of the art for Durban Poison and various Shake! Records releases.
The song was written about a mythical beast, the Thunderwolf. A few years ago were in Northern Quebec for work and my neighbor gave me this really deadly knife with a Thunderwolf on it for my birthday. The song is about a friend wolf that always has your back and shreds your enemies to bits.

What are some of the most common things that inspire Durban Poison songs and do you remember the most unusual thing or event that inspired a song?
MATTI CORVETTE: Sexual frustration, frustration in general. On Thunderwolf, the idea for Demon Magic happened because someone I worked with told me about when they were young one year at summer camp there was this guy who sat up in like a lifeguard style chair and played a 12-string like all summer and the way they described it was “What is this demon magic?”.

If you could tour with any band in the History of Rock N’ Roll from any era in their career who would it be and why?
MATTI CORVETTE: Ahh, uhh, too many to choose but lets say early ‘90’s Hellacopters. Why? Chill, cool peeps that I think we’d get along with.

I hear some Black Sabbath licks in some of your songs, are you guys fans of Ozzy and the gang and other late 1960’s, early 1970’s rock, if so what other groups?
MATTI CORVETTE:  I used to listen to a lot of Alice Cooper, Motley Crue & the like and yeah Sabbath. It’s kinda fun to go metal for 20 seconds. I listen to so much music from that era, Jefferson Starship I love, Mott the Hoople, T-Rex, Sonics, and Nuggets/Pebbles/Back From The Grave comps. 

What is your affiliation with Shake! Records?
MATTI CORVETTE: I own/operate and go broke for Shake! Records. We’re doing 10 tapes in 10 weeks right now, get em’ while they’re hot!!

Tell me a bit about the Shake/arama Festival:
MATTI CORVETTE: Shake/arama happened as I really wanted to tour but couldn’t get people stoked to go across Canada so thought I’d try to bring all my friends bands here (Victoria, BC) for one giant island party its gonna be a blast: over 30 bands for $30! Coolest and cheapest music festival this city has every seen. Huge shout-outs to Animal Productions and CFUV 101.9FM for being mega helps with putting the fest together!

Where can people go to hear or buy Durban Poison’s music?
MATTI CORVETTE: Take a listen on the Durban Poison Bandcamp or Shake! Records Soundcloud. All the Durban Poison records are available from Shake! Records online store.

What lies ahead for the band in the last half of 2014 any new albums or tours?
MATTI CORVETTE: We’re going to release a split cassette with Grosser (rad Calgary band) in time for the Shake/arama festival and are playing the outdoor Love-In free show at UVic on June 27th

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/durbanposion27


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Audio Ammunition Podcast 3

Podcast #3 features:

Battered Suitcases – Alone
Maniac – Dim Sum
The Bloodtypes – Alien Eyes
Midnight Reruns – Summer Smoker
Tight Bros. – Not What You Asked For
Makeouts – Time Will Tell
Vegas With Randolph – Salt Water Taffy
Benny The Jet Rodriguez – Aloha Mr. Hand
Headspins – My Way or The Highway
Dead Uncles – Playing Along
The Junk – Society and The Robot
Brandy Row and the Truebadours – Dirty Street
Radioactivity – World of Pleasure
Teledrome – Antenna
Average Times - Glitch