Saturday, November 26, 2016

Life as a Circle Jerks bassist and beyond: 'The Prodigal Rogerson' / Book Review

By Andy

At the age of 14, I first encountered the Circle Jerks at the Starwood in Los Angeles. It was a night I'll never forget.

As we entered the club in April of 1981, I was both elated and petrified. It was my first punk gig and I didn't quite know what was going to transpire inside those hallowed walls. TSOL tore it up in the opening slot and then the CJ's -- my favorite band of the moment -- took charge and further etched their way into my being, this time in the crucial live setting.

They surged forth with a blistering and chaotic set. And no one was more enthralled with the on-stage activity than wild-eyed, bass-swinging and pogo-stick-like performer Roger Rogerson.

That night, Rogerson was equal parts energy and unpredictability -- and that's what made the CJ's so stellar. It was hardcore to the hilt.

While every member of this intense all-star team of punks was mesmerizing, it was Rogerson whom you eyeballed the most, because you didn't know if he would leap into the crowd, gouge his bass into the stage or crash into his amp or Lucky Lehrer's drumkit.

And now, 35 years later, Rogerson and the CJ's jumped back into my head with the arrival of "The Prodigal Rogerson," a 96-page, well-researched and -written gem from J. Hunter Bennett via Microcosm Publishing. It's set for a May 9, 2017 release, and readers can pre-order the 5x7-inch book at

I powered through this book on Thanksgiving morning and after polishing it off in a store coffee shop, slipped it into my jacket pocket while my wife and I hit the aisles to select our goods for the day. I kept patting my pocket to make sure it was still there. If it did tumble from my jacket and someone snagged it, they'd have a hell of a reading journey ahead of them.

On the cover, there's Rogerson, bass strapped on and tossing a menacing look stage left with a message underneath him: "The Tragic, Hilarious, and Possibly Apocryphal Story of Circle Jerks Bassist Roger Rogerson in the Golden Age of LA Punk, 1979-1996."

The door to the Starwood opened in my mind again and I was itching to see what was going on inside this book.

I remember when Bennett informed the crew that this book was in the works and it got me thinking about how much I didn't know about Rogerson, except that he died at age 41 from a drug overdose in August of 1996, and from Jeff Turner's writing in his book "Cockney Reject" about Rogerson wielding his drugs, booze, gun and mayhem when the Rejects played in Los Angeles in 1985.

What you'll find in the book is that "facts" and viewpoints from the 17 interviewees frequently vary when each subject comes up. Rogerson was a mysterious man and therefore, you've got to just go with the flow while reading and try and piece his story together for yourself -- if you can.

It's an entertaining, heartbreaking and maddening read. You'll learn about how the Circle Jerks formed, ruled the day and then crashed and burned (with Rogerson stealing the band's van), along with Rogerson's tumultuous journey from military man, to musician, to family man and beyond while battling drug and alcohol abuse and mental issues along the way.

According to sources -- including CJ's members, friends, a twice ex-wife and stepson -- Rogerson experienced reams of highs and lows and was both caring and troublesome at different times in his life.

Part of Rogerson reached for success, but substance abuse constantly veered him on the path to destruction. He couldn't put the pieces of his fractured life together. He perhaps wanted more than he was able to handle in the music realm, where not everybody can fit into the rock-star mold filled with drugs and bedlam.

"The guy was sometimes an obnoxious pain in the ass. A lot of uncool stuff that he did," said Lehrer in the book.

"I loved his zest for life. Roger taught me so much about living. I had a pretty dull existence. He just opened up all kinds of new doors for me," said ex-wife Susan Robards.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

OFF! and Plague Vendor live in Seattle

OFF! (All Cat Rose photos)
Plague Vendor.

By Andy

What more can you say about OFF!? You've gotta get up close to fully experience the band's brutal barrage of tunes. Meet the makers face to face. Your body has got to be buzzing, throbbing -- as if the music has ripped its way inside and is hammering against your bones. It's the real deal.

Sirs Keith Morris, Steven McDonald, Dimitri Coats and Mario Rubalcaba entertained us to the max at El Corazon last Thursday.

Openers Plague Vendor -- hailing from Whittier, CA, the home of the old Flipside fanzine -- were ideal tourmates for OFF! Creepy, crawly punk that tore across the genre's spectrum with a ferocity and groove that would have placed the band firmly into LA's Masque scene or later the club Scream landscape.

Brandon Blaine was an elastic frontman, twitching and twisting his way through the set while maneuvering his vocal cords from a whisper to a scream within seconds and eyeballing the crowd with an intense stare that could smash mirrors. As his bandmates plugged away behind him, Blaine put his dancing shoes to the test while swinging his arms so wildly as if they might pop out of their sockets.

Here's Cat Rose's photo offerings from the night:



Sunday, November 13, 2016

Bully, Broadway Calls set the stage for the Descendents

Bully bathed in light. (All Cat Rose photos)

So, before the Descendents ripped it up at The Neptune in Seattle last Thursday, Bully (think Sonic Youth meets Bettie Serveert) and Broadway Calls (anthemic pop-punk) opened the show, which they also did the night before. Two solid bands to warm up the sold-out gigs.

As a bonus, Bully turned out a blistering cover of X-Ray Spex's "Oh Bondage Up Yours!" complete with a snarling singer and saxophone. Top notch.

Here's Cat Rose's photos of the bands:



Saturday, November 12, 2016

Everything Sucks Today: Except for the Descendents live in Seattle

Stage-diving fun with the Descendents. (All Cat Rose photos)

By Andy; Cat Rose photos

As Milo Aukerman stepped onto the stage, he smiled at the crowd, adjusted his spectacles and shook his head.

While the Descendents’ singer was clearly glad to be in front of the throng at The Neptune in Seattle for the second night of two consecutive sold-out shows on Thursday, Aukerman had some thoughts to express before the band launched into its set.

“I don’t know how we’re gonna get through the next four years,” he said, referring to he who cannot be named.

“But I’ve got two words for ya — everything sucks!”

And so it began. Full throttle from the start. Hold tight and bash along for the ride.

Following the chaotic title track from the band’s 1996 comeback album, the fearsome foursome took it back to 1982 and blasted into “Hope” and rolled from there.

When the dust had settled, the sweat had poured forth from both band and raucous crowd and the relentless stage diving had ceased, some 28 songs were tackled. Everyone got something they wanted off each release, including “I Like Food," “Suburban Home,” “Silly Girl," “Get the Time,” “Clean Sheets," "Rotting Out,” “Nothing With You” and finally “Shameless Halo” from their stellar latest album “Hypercaffium Spazzinate.” On "Bikeage," former Black Flag singer Ron Reyes unleashed a gold-medal stage dive.

On “Thank You,” Aukerman handed out the mic to several fans to sing the chorus. One guy was beaming after he watched his buddy give his vocal cords a workout … on the final chorus, one singer was so enthralled that he nearly pulled Aukerman into the crowd. Once again, smiles all around from those on stage and off.

After the initial set, pummeler of drums Bill Stevenson stared at a broken stick and tossed it into the crowd. He then walked side stage and let out a “Whoo!” — definitely equal parts adrenaline and pride after a top-notch set.

Guitarist Stephen Egerton and bassist Karl Alvarez surprisingly still had all the strings on their instruments intact. Believe me, these guys fucking wailed all night.

But the night wasn’t over. The band returned for two encores, featuring “Catalina,” “Kabuki Girl,” “Feel This” and the dynamic closer, “Smile.”

Cat and I were waiting for “Smile” all night and sang at the top of our lungs until it closed with, “Toil away, and at the end of the day, you can look back on a game well played.”

Thanks, guys.