Saturday, June 17, 2017

Hickoids: Won't stop playing until the cow punks come home

Jeff Smith, right, leads the Hickoids in Seattle. (All Cat Rose photos)


Text: Andy; Photos: Cat Rose


When Jeff Smith ponders the Hickoids' Alaskan tour, at first, no words are necessary to describe what's on tap.

His piercing eyes, mischievous smile and chuckle tell the story.

But then he leans in, "I've been in freak vans before, but never a freak RV."

While sitting at a table inside Slims Last Chance Saloon in Seattle a few hours before his raucous cow punk, gunk, hard-corn band takes the stage on Thursday, Smith said they've got a buddy in Alaska who helped set up the current 10-date Fiasco in Alaska tour -- which began in that RV in Seward on Friday and runs through June 25 in McCarthy. The Hickoids have never gigged in Alaska before and they always enjoy invading a new territory and giving it a go.

Later on stage, he told the crowd that on their Alaska jaunt, they'll make some new friends -- or enemies. And there's those eyes, smile and chuckle again.

With that, the Austin/San Antonio band oozes into another tune and the crowd continues drinking, jumping and shouting. Throughout the set, Smith goes from shirt on to bare chested ... playing guitar to just wielding the mic ... performing on stage to bursting through the crowd ... and then scooting out the back door and inside again. At one point, he jokes with the bartender, and then people untangle the mic cord as the singer maneuvers his way back on stage.

The band rages as Smith, an original member of the outfit that formed in 1983, does his wild-man thing. Everyone in the place is digging it. The people of Alaska will surely eat it up as well.

Speaking of Alaska, the Smith humor flowed from the get-go during our interview.

"What we do is we get a globe and a piece of spit chewing gum, you know, which doesn't have a lot of elasticity or stick-um left to it, keep on throwing it at the globe until it sticks somewhere and that's how we decide where we're gonna go..."

Nah, but it generated some laughs and broke the ice to kick off our chat. (More story following photos)















The band's latest release,"The Out of Towners," sprung forth last October and features longtime guitarist Davy Jones, who passed away from lung cancer in November of 2015. Recently, they played Nashville, some East Coast dates and toured in Europe for 12 days.

While in Nashville, the band took some of Jones' art -- cartoons and mixed-media pieces -- to the Country Music Hall of Fame, where it will go on display next spring. One of the curators at the HOF is Mick Buck, who is Smith's former bandmate and Jones' college buddy.

"Mick was ecstatic when we dropped the stuff off," Smith said.

After Jones passed away, Smith inherited his best friend's considerable volume of artwork and had a big sale to benefit the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM).

"The idea was to just put art in the hands of people who knew him. As long as his art and his music's around for people to appreciate, he still lives as far as I'm concerned," Smith said.

Smith had a lengthy conversation with Jones about continuing the band when he became ill and Jones said for them to keep the Hickoids rolling.

Smith thinks about Jones every time they play.

"He was dyed-in-the-wool, for sure, he was a freak and a music lover," the singer said.

The two became friends in 1980 or 1981 when Jones' band The Ideals traveled from Killeen, Texas, to Smith's home of San Antonio to play a gig. Richard Hayes (RIP) and his brother Arthur were also in The Ideals, and they would all eventually join the Hickoids.

The Hickoids -- which Jones named while describing a homeless man in a beat-up cowboy hat digging through the dumpster outside his apartment -- entered the musical fray at the end of 1983 when Smith teamed up with a untamed guy named Jukebox (RIP) and other misfits.

They first unleashed their jarring tunes to the public alongside Black Flag and Meat Puppets in March of 1984. Jones and the Hayes brothers weren't in the band yet, but they were tugged into the fold soon after.

Smith can dig some of what transpired during those early days out of his brain.

"We ate a lot of mushrooms back then, and I used to normally have a stage bottle of tequila, which I would drink about two thirds of over the course of a 30- to 40-minute set, so I don't really remember a hell of a lot about it, but I had a hell of a lot of fun," he said.

They also shared stages with the U-Men, Tales of Terror, Tex and the Horseheads, Screamin' Sirens, Blood on the Saddle, Offenders, Scratch Acid, Butthole Surfers, Flaming Lips, Soul Asylum and many more.

What drives the 53-year-old to continue belting out tunes today with his bandmates Rice Moorehead (bass), Tom Trusnovic (guitar), Lance Farley (drums) and Cody Richardson (guitar)?

"I like to play, I like to show off. I'm too old to start over with another band name," he laughed. "I try and leave people with something they'll remember -- good or bad."

EXTRA STUFF

Smith lives in San Antonio and runs a record label, Saustex, while he's not working in the family business of oil and gas investing.

Before the Hickoids, he played in a band -- at age 14 -- called The Dwarves (before the other unit of the same name), which covered Ramones and Sex Pistols songs.

Then, there was the Smart Dads, whose cassette, "Bummer Summer," was recently released on vinyl via Radio Raheem Records.




Heading back inside after checking out the patio scene.









Sunday, June 11, 2017

The rock abounded at Georgetown Carnival in Seattle


A majestic sight: Kurt Bloch of The Sgt. Major III, top; Mudhoney rolls on, next; Pink Parts, bottom. (All photos by Andy)






The rock rolled and refused to stop as the blue sky of Seattle was out in full force at Saturday's Georgetown Carnival. We settled in for the sounds of Mudhoney, Tom Price Desert Classic, Young Pioneers, Thee Sgt. Major III, Pink Parts and Gibraltar.

You couldn't ask for a better day of solid voices and musicianship from our crucial local scene.


MUDHONEY







TOM PRICE DESERT CLASSIC













YOUNG PIONEERS



THEE SGT. MAJOR III












PINK PARTS







GIBRALTAR





...HEADBANGERS WERE EVERYWHERE








Friday, June 2, 2017

Q and A with Boston's potent punk trio Silver Screams

Silver Screams. (Keith Pierce photo)

By Andy

When the bass and drums come rumbling forth... strap yourself in for the Silver Screams excursion.

And when the guitar and vocals kick in, jackhammering at you on the opening track "Dead Air," you reside in an ideal spot if your homestead flies the flag of jarring punk 'n roll.

From start to finish on the Boston band's latest release, "Defective Machines," the expertly crafted and thought-provoking songs soon seep into your brain and you're better off after spending time with these tunes. There's grit, there's melody and everything else that made you stoked to veer into the punk zone when your number was called.

As if the their originals weren't enough to get the blood pumping, there's a revved up version of Joy Division's "Disorder" on the 12-inch "radioactive orange splatter" vinyl offering that I've got in my possession. (The Bandcamp download features killer versions of The Freeze's "Freak Show" and Echo and the Bunnymen's "Crocodiles.")

Want more? Well, here's an email Q and A with Snarly (drums, backup vocals), Earthdog (bass, backup vocals) and Niff (guitars, vocals).


** What’s the message you are trying to get across with the new record?

NIFF: Humanity is broken and in decay. We keep retreading the same grounds, we keep fucking up and we never learn our lesson. We just keep doing it over and over again.



** How have these songs been received at gigs and those who have heard the album?

NIFF: Copious amounts of head nodding usually ensues.

EARTHDOG: So far everything has been really positive, both in the live setting and with online reviews. I only remember one negative review on the first EP, so if we top that with this one we will be in good shape.



** What were your thoughts when you were writing these songs? Did you think you had something special on your hands?

NIFF: I was thinking -- shit these songs are fun to play but goddammit this practice space is too fucking hot.

EARTHDOG: Lyrically "Defective Machines" is all Niff's perspective versus the first EP. But musically I can say we are always trying to come up with creative arrangements to complement the lyrical ideas that are being conveyed.



** What inspired you to start the band?

SNARLY: Opportunity. Me and Niff played Misfits covers for years, and when Earthdog moved up from the DC area, we thought it would be cool to put a power trio together and see how that went. The first practice was so awful that we almost packed it in then and there -- we covered “Ceremony” by New Order -- poorly! But thankfully we gave it another couple of spins.

EARTHDOG: All of the above is certainly true. However, a couple things happened before that to make me aware of Niff. One was getting his previous band’s CD to review (By the Throat) for Razorcake magazine. Then when I moved to Boston, I went to see By the Throat play at a skate park out in the ‘burbs. I noticed that Niff had a sticker of my last band (Sleeper Agent!) on his board. We didn’t talk that day, but I made a mental note to follow up via email later on. It turns out he had seen me play in Baltimore at The Ottobar a little while back. So it all kind of randomly came together. Niff knew of Snarly’s skills so in the fall of 2012 we met up.



** What has kept the band moving forward?

SNARLY: We all love punk rock, but we have a pretty wide idea of what that means.  We like to play, write, and play what we write. We also play what other people wrote better than we could. It’s an easy formula and we don’t try to complicate it.

EARTHDOG: I think we want to play great shows, big or small. To continue to write songs that are new and out of the ordinary to our ears as well. If I can write songs that people are possessed to get up onstage and sing the chorus with us, then I am as happy as a pig in a blanket.





** I was in a band long ago and dealt with personality clashes, what is the key to keeping the band together?

SNARLY: It comes down to 2 things: playing new stuff and not being assholes to each other. We make music and we treat each other with respect. It’s basic stuff, but lots of bands don’t get this.

EARTHDOG: We work well together as a team, and there are no ego clashes so it makes the engine run smoothly.

NIFF: To add to that, we’ve all been playing in multiple bands & doing this for a long ass time, and we know the drill. We don’t have ridiculous rock star expectations, & I think we all keep showing up for the same reasons. It keeps things moving drama free.



** Do you guys all contribute to the writing? What’s the process like?

SNARLY: Niff and Earthdog do the writing, sometimes separately and sometimes on the same song. I keep the fridge stocked with beer too cheap for them to drink, and play along. After a few practices, things take shape.

EARTHDOG: I think because we are all willing to tinker with everyone else’s ideas when they are brought in, we end up with better songs. I’ve come in with music and said to Niff, “it will be better if you write the words on this one.” If someone has a better chorus for a song, we try it out and no one has a hissy fit.

NIFF: My head is almost always overflowing with ideas, they just come to me organically. Some of our songs are brand new ideas, some are songs from years ago (like "Straightjacket," which was a By The Throat song we never recorded) but most ideas are brought to the space by Sean (Earthdog) or I, and we just work through them til we think they sound good. Sometimes they click immediately, and sometimes they take months to finish. We’ll change the arrangement, add an ending, or a bridge, or I’ll rewrite the lyrics completely. Some things just start out with a cool riff and turn into something.



** What have been some highlights for you guys so far and what are some of your goals still to be accomplished?

SNARLY: One nice thing about being over the hill punk-wise is that the Music Career Aspirations were beaten out of us long ago. We want to play fun shows with fun bands and fun crowds. We love getting out of town and want to do more of that.

EARTHDOG: It is a thrill for me to open for established bands and then get unsolicited praise from them afterwards. When that has happened with bands like Scream and Classic Ruins I always have to remember not to “geek” out.

NIFF: Playing with Agent Orange & Scream were highlights for me, loved both those bands as a teenager. But playing the local Greek Club in Somerville with old friends like Black Cheers, Tenafly Vipers or Duck & Cover is always a highlight too. We’ve done that 4 years in a row as kind of a punk Xmas party in December and it’s a blast.



** What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received from other musicians, and what would your message be for up and coming bands?

SNARLY: “When you don’t create things, you become defined by your tastes rather than ability. Your tastes only narrow and exclude people. So create.” (why the lucky stiff)

EARTHDOG: If you believe in it and feel good about doing it, then keep doing it as long as it is fun for you. Even if others may say you are wasting your time. Creating something on your own is never a waste of time.

NIFF: Play for yourself. Do what makes you happy. No one can ever take that away from you.



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Lucky Liquor pours the punk: Hudson Falcons, Bigfoot Accelerator, The Stuntmen and Silent Opposition

Hudson Falcons, top, The Stuntmen, bottom.  (All Cat Rose photos)




Hudson Falcons stomped into town from New Jersey to entertain the punk n' rollers at Lucky Liquor in Seattle last Saturday.

Locals Bigfoot Accelerator, The Stuntmen and Silent Opposition provided solid tuneage in the opening slots, and during one of the bands, some guy grabbed another guy and tossed him into the singer. Wild stuff.

Cat Rose caught the action with her camera:


HUDSON FALCONS












BIGFOOT ACCELERATOR














THE STUNTMEN












SILENT OPPOSITION