Thursday, October 29, 2015

Tony Van Frater: RIP

Tony Van Frater with the Cockney Rejects this summer in Seattle. (There's Something Hard in There photo)

According to the Hartlepool Mail in the UK and myriad band Facebook pages, Tony Van Frater has passed away at the age of 51, reportedly of a heart attack.

He was the founding guitarist of Red Alert in 1979 and was the Cockney Rejects' bassist since 1999. He also played with the Angelic Upstarts.

The Cockney Rejects placed a black ribbon on its official Facebook page.

Red Alert singer Steve Castiron Smith wrote on his Facebook page: "Best mate,brother,legend,thanks for the memories son,see u up there."

The Angelic Upstarts Facebook page reads: "With deepest condolences to his partner and family, we are heartbroken that former band member, superb guitarist, wonderful friend and all round nice guy Tony Van Frater has tragically passed away."

On the Peter and the Test Tube Babies official Facebook page: "We are very saddened by the totally unexpected and terrible news of Tony’s death. He will be sorely missed by us and everyone in the punk community.
R.I.P. Tony."

The Rebellion Punk Music Festival Facebook paged notes: "Terrible news this morning. Tony Van Frater has passed away overnight. The founding member of Red Alert and Cockney Rejects bass player was one of the scenes true gentlemen. His talent and friendship will be missed by many. RIP big man - our thoughts are with your family and friends."

Monday, October 19, 2015

CH3 storms into Bellingham

Mike Magrann of CH3. (All Cat Rose photos)

Twas road-trip time for the There's Something Hard in There staff last Friday. We rolled up I-5 from Seattle to Bellingham's Shakedown and took in a solid night of punk n' roll with CH3, Piggy and Potbelly as our able guides, and we were stoked to have partners in crime Tim and Beth by our sides, as well. Thanks for the memories!

All Cat Rose photos:




Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Jam: Life-changing musical journey/ Danny Ingram

By Danny Ingram

“Absolutely, categorically, fucking no!”

For those of you, like me, who have long lamented the criminally-short tenure of the Jam, Paul Weller makes it absolutely, categorically clear that there will be no reunion. Ever. Talk about a bitter pill to swallow, eh? I was lucky enough to see the Jam a handful of times from 1979 to 1982: in DC/Maryland, New York, London and Loch Lommond (Scotland). If you never got the chance to see them, you might still catch the Bruce Foxton-led From the Jam or Weller’s solo performances. But if you want to see the band as they were, your best bet now is the new Bob Smeaton-directed documentary, "The Jam: About the Young Idea."

The release of the film coincides with the recently-ended Sommerset House exhibit of the same name, and a new 47-track CD anthology. Smeaton, who was also involved in the epic 1995 Beatles Anthology, does a masterful job of chronicling the band and its impact on fans, music and popular culture.

The lifespan of the group was a mere ten years, from 1972 – 1982, but it wasn’t until 1976/77 and the punk explosion that the band rose to national and international attention. It was shortly after this time that I became aware of them. A good friend knew I liked the Ramones and off-the-radar music, so he gave me a stack of records he’d brought back from a recent trip to England, and said: “these will change your life.” Among them were "Never Mind the Bollocks," the first Clash album, Wire’s "Pink Flag," the first Damned album and both the Jam’s "In the City" and "This is the Modern World." He was right: The music, the energy and the messages from those bands (and so many others from that time) resonated with me from the start, and it has stayed with me all through my life shaping both my ethos and the type of music I’ve chosen to play for the last 30 years.

Danny Ingram

The film starts out with the Jam’s first two members, Weller and his friend Steve Brookes, in repose and re-hashing the past, both musically (spontaneously breaking into "Slow Down" and "Bye Bye Love" together) and in conversation. Brookes points out that their ambition was to be “bigger than the Beatles.”  So many of the Jam’s contemporaries were quick to cut ties with music from previous generations (“no Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones”). The Jam, however, blazed a modern trail all the while acknowledging musical influences such as The Who, the Beatles and American R&B. This resonated with me –- likely because that’s my generation, as well. The Beatles were the band that got me interested in music in the mid '60s –- and I grew up on both British invasion and American soul (though it wasn’t till I met Joe Strummer in ’79 that I actually got off my ass and joined a band).

As Weller was quick to give a nod to the band’s musical and stylistic influences –- I, too, feel compelled to give a nod to the Jam’s influence on me. Though I embraced the punk scene immediately and completely –- I also had a great appreciation for those bands that embodied the energy, rebellion and edge of punk rock, while trying to carve out a scene of their own. None did this better than the Jam, single handedly reviving the Mod subculture and inspiring kids all around the world to embrace the style and music. I was never a Mod per se, though my current band, Dot Dash, has been called post-punk-mod-pop on more than one occasion. Perhaps that is because the band’s original line-up included Bill Crandall, the guitarist from DC Mod legends, Modest Proposal. I, along with Steve Hansgen, were recruited to play in Modest Proposal’s 25th anniversary show. At that show, Terry Banks, Hunter Bennet and I (all fans of the Jam) recruited Bill to start Dot Dash. He played on our first three records –- and Hansgen replaced him thereafter.

Though Brookes’ “bigger than the Beatles” comment seemed to be a casually acknowledged remark –- the similarities between the two bands are worth noting: Both bands came from humble beginnings. Both bands had a lasting impact on youth (sub)culture (Beatlemania and the Mod revival). And both bands quit while still at the top of their game. The Jam also had more subtle nods to the Beatles that can be seen and heard in a variety of ways: photo shoots, cover songs, clothing and the symbiotic relationship with their respective producers. But for all the similarities –- and the band’s refusal to disavow its past, the Jam were every bit as explosive and innovative as the Clash, Pistols, Buzzcocks, etc. And while they positioned themselves as Mods –- to me they were always a part of the punk fabric that shaped me.

Smeaton pulls together all the original players to help weave his narrative: Weller, Foxton and Rick Buckler. He also enlists some who helped shape the band’s career: Chris Parry, who signed them to Polydor Records, and long-time producer Vic Coppersmith-Heaven. There are also a variety of famous and not-so-famous fans who talk about the undeniable impact of the band, both broadly and on their individual lives: from Martin Freeman (yeah, it makes sense that he was a Mod) to Keiko Egawa, a Japanese teenager who came to London in 1978 ostensibly to learn English, but who was secretly using that as an excuse to go see the Jam (she’s still living there today!).

Live performances and previously-released videos also punctuate this film and will remind you of just how brilliant a band they were. This was a band truly connected to the young idea: both in the songs they wrote and in the way they connected to their audience. And it is worth noting that when he called it quits at the tender age of 24, Weller and the Jam had already released six studio albums and had 18 CONSECUTIVE top-40 singles in the UK.

Weller closes the film with his emphatic assertion that the Jam will never reunite. But he also correctly notes that the band “has legs” –- and that young people are still discovering and embracing the band’s music and legacy. The Jam have certainly had lasting effects, not just on Dot Dash, but on Oasis, the Arctic Monkeys and more. "About the Young Idea" is currently playing on cable’s Showtime network, and it is a vital document of one of the most important and inspiring bands of my generation –- and yours.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Corrosion of Conformity cranks up deal with Nuclear Blast Entertainment

There's Something Hard in There photos

In the arms of ... Nuclear Blast Entertainment.

The four-piece Corrosion of Conformity has inked a deal with the label, according to its Facebook page today.

Recently reunited with singer/guitarist Pepper Keenan, COC's original dudes Woody Weatherman (guitar), Reed Mullin (drums) and Mike Dean (bass) will team up with longtime producer John Custer for a new album, set to be recorded late this winter/early spring. The album is expected to drop in the fall of 2016.

Says Keenan in the Nuclear Blast message: "After all these years, its truly inspiring to reawaken the chemistry that the four of us have. We are seriously fucking with our pants off now! We do not take this journey lightly and cannot wait to return to the studio to drop Ze' Hammer! All of this would not be possible without the global support of all you free thinkers and beer drinkers. Much love and respect and look forward to to seeing you soon."

Added Monte Conner, Nuclear Blast president:
"It has been a long 10 years since their fourth (Keenan-fronted) album — the highly underrated 'In The Arms Of God' — and as a fan, I am dying to hear what these guys come up with next. I know it will be a monster. The fact that it is coming out on Nuclear Blast is very fulfilling for me and many others on the Nuclear Blast team as we finally get to work with one of our favorite bands."

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Pete Stahl/ Teenage Time Killers series

Pete Stahl with Goatsnake in Seattle. (Cat Rose photos)

Andy, text; Cat Rose photos

When Pete Stahl flips on the switch and slips into his groove on stage, he's transformed into a punk-rock shaman of the highest order.

The singer enters the gig bearing many crucial gifts: a soulful voice, a crazed grin and an intensity that has him twisting and slithering his body all over the stage and into the crowd -- getting people involved and matching his passion for the music. It's always a sweaty and satisfying affair when Stahl is in action with his punk and doom Scream and Goatsnake units these days.

On Sept. 12, Stahl and a host of others involved with the metal/punk Teenage Time Killers project took their turns on stage at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles.

After they delivered Stahl's song, the crushing "Plank Walk," he was not satisfied.

Prior to Goatsnake's recent Seattle gig, Stahl belts out an array of laughs and gives the lowdown:

"I'm a punk rocker, man, so I like to turn it around sometimes -- twist it up, fuck it up. I wasn't really getting the vibe I wanted back from the people and so I was like, 'Let's just do it again.' It kind of threw the band for a loop and I think they thought I was joking."

So, on the darkened stage with the band members barely seeing each other, Stahl got them to press replay. Was it worth it the second time?

"It got better, plus we're never gonna play that song again, probably not. So fuck, I'm here, I'm gonna do it twice," he said with a smile. Stahl's brother Franz also played guitar on the live "Plank Walk," and they also rolled through Scream's "Came Without Warning" and Bad Brains' "Sailin' On" at the TTK gig.

Corrosion of Conformity drummer Reed Mullin got Stahl on board with TTK, adding a new aspect to their relationship that spans 30-plus years.

"Scream used to go down to Raleigh a lot and they'd come up to play together in DC, as well. He hit me up about the project and I was flattered that he asked, and I knew a bunch of the other people involved in the project, so I was stoked to get into it," Stahl said.

"I always have fun writing and creating, collaborating with different people. It was fun getting a new track and telling a story with it."

Stahl's TTK song features Mullin on drums, Dave Grohl on bass and guitarists Mick Murphy and Goatsnake's Greg Anderson, who penned the riff. The musicians recorded the song and Mullin sent it off to Stahl with a few other TTK songs minus vocals.

Stahl chose Anderson's tune, noting that, "It was rippin', man," and he felt a connection with it and soon provided lyrics and vocals.

He offers insight into the song and story behind the lyrics:

"I think the riff might have been stewing around in Greg's head a bit, but he worked it out with them and then the lyrics were kind of like about going for it in life.

"When I found out Cliff (Dinsmore) from Bl'ast! was involved with (TTK), it reminded me of meeting him when I first came out with Scream back in the early '80s and hooking up with a bunch of Santa Cruz folk. Those dudes are fucking life-long surfers, and I tried to go surfing with them and I almost fucking killed myself and drowned -- but I had to go for it, you know? Same time, you always do that in life, so the song is kind of a couple little stories in there with that theme in mind."

Stahl felt the TTK gig was special, not only music-wise, but on a friendship level, as well. He got to hang out with Mullin and his old pal Vic Bondi from Articles of Faith, whom he hadn't seen for 30-some years. New bonds were formed with Corey Taylor of Slipknot and others.

Youngster Trenton Rogers of Chaotic Justice supplied vocals to begin the festivities with Rudimentary Peni's "Teenage Time Killers," and Lamb of God's Randy Blythe and Taylor pounded in the final nails with some TTK tunes along with Black Flag, Bad Brains and Weirdos numbers.

On Rogers, Stahl said: "He fucking ruled it and I think it just really set a nice foundation for the rest of the night and built up to a climax at the end."