Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Fu Manchu to welcome in the new year with 'Clone of the Universe'

Fu Manchu live in Seattle. (Cat Rose photo)

By Andy

Today, the Fu Manchu guys geeked out while perusing Rush's Instagram page.

Well, that's because the powerhouse San Clemente, Calif., foursome is on the damn thing.

The page notes that Rush's Alex Lifeson supplied his guitaristry to the new Fu Manchu song, "IL Mostro Atomico," which clocks in at 18:08 and inhabits the entire second side of its new album, "Clone of the Universe." Fu Manchu will unleash the seven-song record on Feb. 9 on its own At the Dojo Records.

Rush adds that the closing track -- which is broken up into four sections -- is the exact length of its epic six-section journey, "Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres," which owns the whole of side one of that album.




Fu Manchu delivered the blistering title track of the new one to fans on its recent run of West Coast gigs and people welcomed it with pumping fists into the band's catalogue.

“We are excited to get out and play this stuff, especially 'Il Mostro Atomico,'" said guitarist/vocalist Scott Hill in a press release. “We think it’s some the strongest music we’ve ever done. We really love the overall sound of the album and having Alex (Lifeson) play on it is just incredible. It gives it that special validation for the idea that we had to try something like a side-long song.”

In true punk-rock fashion, there's a song on the album that clocks in at just 2:05 -- "Don't Panic."

The band -- which also consists of guitarist Bob Balch, bassist Brad Davis and drummer/percussionist Scott Reeder -- will play a heap of live dates all over the globe in the new year:

9.Feb - Los Angeles, CA - The Troubadour
10.Feb - San Diego, CA - The Casbah
2.March - Paris, France - Le Trabendo
3.March - Hengelo, Netherlands - Metropol
5.March - Berlin, Germany - Festsaal Kreuzberg
6.March - Copenhagen, Denmark - Pumpehuset
7.March - Oslo, Norway - Rockefeller
8.March - Stockholm, Sweden - Debaser Medis
10.March - Helsinki, Finland - Nosturi
11.March - Riga, Latvia - Meina Piekdiena
13.March - Warsaw, Poland - Poglos
14.March - Prague, Czech Republic - Klub 007
15.March - Vienna, Austria - Arena
16.March - Budapest, Hungary - A38
18.March - Zurich, Switzerland - Mascotte
19.March - Bern, Switzerland - Dachstock
20.March - Munich, Germany - Hansa 39
21.March - Wiesbaden, Germany - Schlachthof
23.March - Hamburg, Germany - Markhalle
24.March - Cologne, Germany - B├╝rgerhaus Stollwerck
25.March - Haarlem, Netherlands - Patronaat
26.March - Leuven, Belgium - Depot
27.March - London, England - 02 Academy Islington
1.May - Phoenix, Arizona - Rebel Lounge
3.May - Dallas, Texas - Curtain Club
4.May - Austin, Texas - Barracuda
5.May - Houston, Texas - White Oak
7.May - Atlanta, Georgia - Vinyl
8.May - Raleigh, North Carolina - Kings
9.May - Washington, DC - Rock & Roll Hotel
11.May - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Underground Arts
12.May - New York, New York - Bowery Ballroom
13.May - Boston, Massachusetts - Brighton Music Hall
15.May - Cleveland, Ohio - Grog Shop
16.May - Columbus, Ohio - Ace of Cups
17.May - Detroit, Michigan - El Club
19.May - Chicago, Illinois - Bottom Lounge
22.May - Denver, Colorado - Streets of London Pub

Sunday, December 3, 2017

John Haggerty talks Naked Raygun, Pegboy, Stiff Little Fingers and more

John Haggerty playing with Stiff Little Fingers in Brooklyn in 2011. (All photos by Andy)


By Andy

Play it like you mean it. And if you can inspire people along the way, that's just about as good as it gets.

That's how John Haggerty feels when he wraps his deft hands around the black Fender Stratocaster the he's owned since the age of 15. From learning the ropes while strumming along to Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin records as a teen to hammering out his signature riffs in front of stoked fans at Naked Raygun and Pegboy gigs later on, the south side Chicago native has embraced his time with the six-string to the hilt.

Haggerty, 57, still rocks that same Strat of his youth at Pegboy gigs, including the latest show on Nov. 22 in Chicago.

"I thought it was the coolest looking guitar, so I got it," he laughed over the phone last Friday. (It's not his only axe, though, as shown in the accompanying photos.)

He's humbled when people say he's influential, and the self-described "one trick pony" jokingly figures it's because he's hung around long enough.

"To this day, I try to practice every day and there's really no substitute for it. Some people have more aptitude towards it, but I think in the end, how good you are is directly proportional to how much you practice," he said. "I hope that I'm a better guitar player every day -- I try to be. There's always something new to learn. It's really a wonderful instrument in that you can play it all your life and still not know everything. It's always a challenge and it's always fun."

Jeff Dean -- guitarist for All Eyes West, Dead Ending and Airstream Futures -- put his Haggerty thoughts on the table.

“The guitar tone that defined the Chicago sound, as far as I’m concerned. Like Bob Mould, Adam Franklin, J Mascis, John’s sound and writing has always been a go to for me as inspiration," he said in an email.


*****

Haggerty didn't gravitate toward the guitar until he was about 15 years old. Before that, he honked on the saxophone in the grade-school band, which is where his brothers and sisters cut their musical teeth as well.

The guitar literally became a larger-than-life obsession for the youngster when he checked out the Led Zeppelin flick "The Song Remains the Same" on the big screen.

"I went to see that in the theater when it first came out, and I saw Jimmy Page up there, and I said, 'Yeah, that's what I wanna do.' Didn't quite turn out that way (laughs), slightly different path," he said.

Armed with a K copy of a Gibson SG (his first guitar; the Strat came later), Haggerty took lessons from his buddy's brother-in-law and things took off from there. It was all about classic rock at first, but "a couple years in, I started to hear punk rock, and that kind of changed my whole outlook."

First up was the Buzzcocks, which he heard via a reel-to-reel tape that his friend's brother toted home along with a tape deck he bought when he was stationed in Germany in 1977.

"On this tape, he had all kinds of punk bands, including the Buzzcocks. As soon as I heard them, I was, 'Ah, man, this is it. This is something different,'" he said. "And then from there, it just really kind of exploded, at least in my little world. I began to seek out other punk bands, and right around that time, in Chicago there was one or two punk clubs that just started to emerge almost simultaneously from my first hearing that kind of different music. It just kind of blew up from there."

In 1979, he began frequenting punk gigs at clubs like O'Banions and Oz. Local bands like Strike Under, the Effigies and others struck a chord with him -- and got him into the game.

"I said to myself, 'This is something I could actually do,' whereas before, when I was looking at things like Deep Purple with Blackmore or Led Zeppelin with Jimmy Page, I would look at them and say, 'I could practice 30 years and maybe never be this good or probably never be this good,'" he said.

Haggerty would soon put his guitaristry to use in his first band.


Haggerty with SLF.


*****

While hanging around the clubs, Haggerty soon met the Naked Raygun guys -- Jeff Pezzati, Santiago Durango, Camilo Gonzalez and Jim Colao -- who were working toward releasing the "Basement Screams" EP in 1983.

Haggerty would first revisit his grade-school days by playing sax on Raygun's "Swingo" on the EP and he then joined the band as second guitarist; when Durango departed, the guitar slot was all Haggerty's.

"It felt great. It felt like I was doing what I wanted to," he said. "We kind of built that band up from nothing, from pretty much from scratch. When I first joined the band, I think we were probably lucky to get 50 people at a show, and by the time I left, we were playing the Riviera, which I think is about 3,000 or something."

Raygun toured Europe twice and the United States a couple times. While in England, Haggerty was thrilled to have Steve Diggle of the Buzzcocks join the band on stage for a cover of "Harmony in My Head," and later, Charlie Harper of the UK Subs hopped up on stage to play his band's "Emotional Blackmail" with the Chicago crew.

"I just had a heck of a lot of fun," Haggerty said of his time in Raygun, which ceased in 1989 when he left due to issues with management that couldn't be resolved.

"It's always great when you go places, especially far away, and they're really into what you're doing and they say, 'Your music has changed my life for the better and made me happy, given me hope' or something. I get that every now and then and that really means the most to me," he said.


*****

Pegboy was next on the docket for Haggerty, who was joined by his brother, drummer Joe, on this venture beginning in 1990.

"I got to set it up the way I wanted to, which was very gratifying," John said, noting that Pegboy felt more like a band -- a team -- than a group of individuals.

Among the many "wonderful moments" in Pegboy, Haggerty focused on the time when the "Strong Reaction" LP hit the shelves, received a great response and the band toured Europe.

"We went and played a place in Serbia during the war," he said. "The kids there were so glad to see us that they made their own T-shirts. We had to have a military escort in and out. They were just so happy to see us and were such fans that it just blew me away that we could do such a thing right in the middle of a war."

Nowadays, Pegboy plays about five shows a year and last month unleashed its tunes on Brazilian fans in Sao Paulo. They played a festival with Bad Religion and others and a small club date as well.

"Brazil was amazing. We had no idea we even had any fans down there," said Haggerty, noting that they received a random Facebook message from a friend of a friend of the promoter to set it up. Pegboy also played the Fest 16 in Gainesville, Florida, in October.

The recent hometown Chicago show was a blast.

"Everybody's still pretty excited about it -- so am I (laughs)," he said. "It feels great. It never ceases to amaze me that we have such loyal fans. They come out and they have a great time every time we play."


*****

Haggerty had the time of his life when he assumed rhythm-guitar duties for one his all-time favorite bands, Stiff Little Fingers, for nine US dates in 2011. He filled in for Ian McCallum, who was ill.

When SLF leader Jake Burns moved to Chicago, he and Haggerty became friends and had already played SLF songs together in the Nefarious Fat Cats, a cover band that performs at a benefit each December for KT's Kids, an organization that helps underprivileged children in Chicago. (This year's annual toy drive gig is Dec. 10 once again at the Liar's Club. In the past, the band has ripped through covers of Raygun, Clash, Thin Lizzy and more.)

On a Raygun/Haggerty note and further SLF tie-in, the band featured a live version of "Suspect Device" on its "Jettison" LP.

So, Haggerty was an ideal match with SLF since he already knew at least half the material; he learned the rest of the set while practicing in his hotel room on the road.

"It was so much fun. By the time it was over, I was just getting comfortable. Right around the ninth gig, I was confident, I had the songs down. And then it was time to stop. At that point, I literally felt that I could do that the rest of my life and not ever go home. It was no less than a dream come true," he said.

Haggerty even sported one of the matching SLF stage shirts.

"It wasn't demanded, but I figured, 'Why not?'" he said with a laugh.

On becoming close with Burns, Haggerty added: "Usually, when you meet your idols, it's a letdown, but not in Jake's case. In his case, he's just as cool as you think he is. He's just a great guy all around."



Another Haggerty SLF shot.


*****

With many years passed and a ton of guitar riffs wielded, Haggerty feels fortunate to still be hitting the stage with Pegboy and the Fat Cats.

For him, the key to keeping the guitar fire alive is having a passion for his craft.

"It's not something you're gonna make a lot of money at, so you have to really love what you're doing. The thing that really keeps me going is that every now and then, you'll have a really positive influence on people and they'll let you know," he said.

He recalls a platoon sergeant in Afghanistan who contacted him and said every time he took his men out and knew trouble was on the horizon, he would listen to Raygun's "Soldier's Requiem" to make it easier for him and his men, give them a purpose.

"I thought, that's the greatest compliment, that's probably the greatest thing I could ever do in my life is to positively influence someone like that," Haggerty said.

Once in San Diego, a kid in a wheelchair approached Haggerty and said, "'Thank you for your music, it saved my life, it got me through chemotherapy.'"

Haggerty added: "Some people are really touched deeply by it and that's the most rewarding thing there is."



Wednesday, November 22, 2017

L7 shoves their way into our life

Our autographed copy of the L7 documentary. Thanks to the "L7: Pretend We're Dead" crew!


To coincide with the dvd release of the stellar documentary, "L7: Pretend We're Dead," here's one of our L7 stories that came to mind while we were watching it in Seattle a few months ago. Our friend Phil (RIP) would surely dig on this film.


By Andy

When Phil first heard the blistering intro to L7’s “Shove” blast out of the speakers, his eyes sparkled and a shit-eating grin formed on his face.

His hands moved slightly, already figuring out the riff. He turned to me and nodded his head. Yes, this song would be a crucial one for us when the drinking and rocking commenced in our upstairs apartment on 5th Street in San Jose, CA.

It was all Cat’s fault. She’s the one who brought L7 into my life in the early ‘90s via a cassette tape of the band’s raucous first two offerings. “Bite the Wax Tadpole,” “Snake Handler,” etc. … fuck, yeah. But it was the really brain-gouging stuff on “Smell the Magic” that pierced our ears and punched our guts to the hilt.

Nothing was safe in that apartment when L7 roared throughout the front room. Once, Phil was so moved that he took a hammer to the figurines of a mini Nativity scene that sat on the window sill.

Another time, the cops barged in because we were unleashing L7 at a deafening volume that bothered the neighbors. Phil mouthed off and that perturbed the men in blue. We all got a tongue lashing, of course.

Later, when Phil had “Shove” ready to roll on his guitar, he cranked up the volume on his amp and I sat nearby banging the crap out of a snare drum that sat on a milk crate. We both screamed the vocals — we never found out if we pissed the neighbors off that time. We even recorded our “session” for playback to Cat and other members of our coterie. That tape is long gone, maybe the victim of Phil’s hammer on a beery night.

Cat had already witnessed L7 in the flesh at several gigs in Hollywood and at UCLA and she proudly told us of her adventures. Lucky.


One of Cat's flyers from back in the day.

But it would soon be time for all of us to head to San Francisco and check out the mighty L7 at the Nightbreak on Haight Street just a few months after “Shove” plowed its way into our lives.

After draining a few beers at the bar, we took our spots up front, wedged against the stage as L7 prepared the onslaught. As the band raged, the crowd surged forward, packing us in even tighter at the front. A few songs in, one of our friends waved an imaginary white flag and was taken into a side room to rest among some bean bags until we retrieved her later.

The band and crowd soldiered on.

Phil’s evil grin emerged when “Shove” finally knifed forth at our welcoming, battered ears. Arms flailed, kneecaps bashed against the stage and screeching voices filled the air. It was pandemonium. It was delirium. It was fucking L7.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Chrome, Blitz and their cohorts keep the Dead Boys alive

Cheetah Chrome in Seattle. (All Andy photos)


By Andy

There wasn’t a piece of baloney in sight.

As I entered the small dressing room, Cheetah Chrome was hunched on a bench and perusing his phone messages. It was a moment of solitude for the axeslinger of the legendary Dead Boys, probably something he didn’t get much of when, say, he was waiting to take the stage at CBGBs back in the day. No yelling, no broken bottles… no lunchmeat, snot or spit hanging from anyone’s shirt or mouth — just a man and his phone.

Chrome looked up when I approached him, we shook hands and I proposed an interview for this blog. He said we could speak after the show and I nodded OK and went back inside the Highline in Seattle to watch the opening band, The Drowns. (Dreadful Children and Wiscon also geared the crowd up for the headliner.)

The interview never happened since we were lost in a sea of elated, sweaty and drunken faces after the band — also featuring original drummer Johnny Blitz — leveled the crowd with the incendiary numbers from their debut album, “Young, Loud and Snotty,” which is celebrating its 40th year on this planet.

The current version of the Dead Boys also features guitarist Jason Kottwitz, bassist Ricky Rat and rambunctious singer Jake Hout (from “zombie” Dead Boys tribute band, the Undead Boys). They recently released a re-recording of the debut, titled “Still Snotty: Young, Loud and Snotty at 40.”

On this wild night, the Dead Boys were in top form and the crowd ate that shit up. One guy to my right — as I was getting pummeled at the front while snapping photos — was nearly jumping out of his skin and blurted out, “Stiv would be proud!”

Yes, Mr. Bators, while his body rests in peace, his fellow evil boys are raging in his memory.

Here’s my pics:
























Tuesday, November 14, 2017

One-two punch: Fu Manchu and Mos Generator | Cat Rose photos


Fu Manchu, top, and Mos Generator. (All Cat Rose photos)




Two vans packed with rock gear and solid dudes are certainly better than one.

First, gripping their sturdy hands on the wheel as they tear up the road, and then around their instruments and sticks come gig time -- that's what it's all about. All aboard, and give the blacktop and rockers in the club a heavy-duty effort.

That's what Fu Manchu and their partners and purveyors of all things mammoth sounding, Mos Generator, did on their recent five-day run up the West Coast and into Canada.

We and our formidable crew of Seattle and Portland hellraisers checked out the Emerald City stop at Chop Suey last Saturday. Here's Cat Rose's photographic offerings:


FU MANCHU





























MOS GENERATOR

































Friday, November 10, 2017

Corrosion of Conformity roaring to go with new album, ‘No Cross No Crown’

Corrosion of Conformity in Seattle. (Cat Rose photo)


It’s been a while, right?

After a 12-year hiatus from recording with vocalist/guitarist Pepper Keenan, the venerable and brawny original Corrosion of Conformity trio of drummer Reed Mullin, guitarist Woody Weatherman and bassist Mike Dean have the frontman back in their clutches to bestow upon us a new album, “No Cross No Crown.”

The rock will roll when the album is released on Jan. 12, 2018 by Nuclear Blast Entertainment.

With Keenan back in the fold, the band toured for a year, kicked into the recording process about 10 or 11 months ago and blasted this one out in about 40 days during that timeframe. The last Keenan-fronted COC album was “In the Arms of God” in 2005.

Once again, John Custer was in the producer’s seat to help whip the album into shape in a North Carolina studio.

The 15-song set includes the walloping “The Luddite,” “Little Man” and “Forgive Me”  interspersed with melancholy guitar interludes like “No Cross,” “Matre’s Diem” and “Sacred Isolation.” (New song "Cast the First Stone" below.)





According to an Earsplit PR release, the album’s iconic title comes from a recent tour stop in England.

“We were playing this old church from like the 1500s that had been turned into a performing arts center,” Keenan recalled. “The dressing room had stained glass windows and one of them showed this poor fella being persecuted. Underneath it said, ‘No cross no crown.’ So I just took that idea. We’re not trying to be on a soapbox, but we used it as a catalyst to write songs around.”

Keenan is stoked to be part of the COC steamroller again.

“It’s an honor to be back out there and have an opportunity to do it again in a real way and not some washed-up reunion thing. Even before we wrote the record, we were out there for a year seeing there was a demand for it and that there was a void that we could fill,” he said in the release.




Sunday, October 29, 2017

Record roundup: All over the musical map on this journey



By Andy

*** In the documentary "We Were Feared," which tells the gritty tale of the legendary club the Cuckoo's Nest in Costa Mesa, CA, Love Canal guitarist Eric VonArab gets some screen time. He and his pals know their stuff, wrangled with each other in the pit and devoured a crucial slice of OC punk. On this album, they take those experiences and heaps more along the way and mold them into that classic style that permeated the Nest. Love Canal pummels your speakers with their roaring anthems that would have fit in perfectly with the scene back then and resonate now with the force of a million stomping engineer boots alongside raging guitars and sneering vocals. (Hostage Records)


*** We've seen Sir Coyler and His Asthmatic Band in Seattle a few times and they've thumped and rumbled their way onto our favorites list. This single provides blasting, stomping rock in the grand Pacific Northwest tradition of the Sonics and Mudhoney and a ton of others. It rocks, it rolls and you need it wedged in your ears posthaste. (Pig Baby Records)


*** Javier Escovedo's latest record is just about as good as it gets. It full on rocks in spots and then lays back just right with the pensive tunes you need after hammering away in the vein of The Zeros, where he cut his musical teeth in the early punk days. With songs like "This Side of Nowhere" and "Gypsy Son" holding the heavy reins and "Searchin' for You" and "Just Like All the Rest" taking the easy-going route, you should be all in with this release. (Saustex Records)


*** The Cheap Cassettes kicked out a hunk of their Plimsouls-inspired rock and roll on Friday night in Seattle and they gave "Worse N' Better" off this two-song tape a whirl about midway through the set. Guitars swung, heads bobbed and hips shook... just the way it should be for stellar tunes like these. (Rum/Bar Records)


*** Um, yeah, the Side Eyes are definitely a band people should have on their radars if they're into tracing rock roll lineages. Vocalist Astrid McDonald surely knows what she's doing at the forefront of this ripping band since her parents showed her who had the beat and how to stand in front of poseur. It's basic stuff that carries on the family and punk tradition with swagger and humor. We caught McDonald and guitarist Kevin Devine joining forces with Redd Kross on stage last December in Santa Ana on a cover of The Eyes' "Don't Talk to Me." Not sure if Chargo was there, but her influence is all over the Side Eyes. (In the Red Recordings)