Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Click here for Los Angeles Times obituary
Thursday, September 24, 2009
The plot involves El Superbeasto and his sister, Suzi X, battling nazi zombies (including Hitler's head - in a jar, of course) and trying to prevent the unholy marriage of Dr. Satan and Velvet Von Black, a stripper voiced by Rosario Dawson (doing what seems to be a latter day Stepen Fetchit impersonation!?!?!?). In a film not limited by the budget or effects restraints of being a live-action feature, they should have been able to salvage something vaguely entertaining out of that scenario. The sky's the limit with animation, right? Well, I guess the real limit is the level of talent that's penning the story, and quite frankly, this script is like something a couple of twelve year old kids would crank out in an hour or two of after-school detention - and that's the only demigraphic I can see it appealing to. It's so spectacularly UNfunny, I can't see how Zombie conned some of these people into lending their voices to this mess. Maybe the recession is eating away at the pockets of the Hollywood set; I can see no other reason for this to not still be languishing on whatever shelf it's been tucked away on for the past year or two.
And if you think the movie itself is bad, just wait until the various character theme songs come along (as they seem to do way too often). One of them actually has lyrics about how a stripper is so hot that she can suck the gay out of a unicorn painting. Even if that sounds funny to you now, I can almost guarantee you it won't once you're in the middle of this animated abortion. And just by the by, is there any kind of award for showing that you can still be a horrible actress, even if you're not physically appearing in a film? If so, Sheri Moon is the gal to watch this year. How does that even happen?
If you want nazi zombies, go see Dead Snow. If you want cartoon sex, go pick up Once Upon A Girl. If you want goofy, horror-themed Saturday morning style fun, Scooby Doo is the place to look. If you want to have your patience tested by a seventy-five minute movie that fails on virtually every level and then some, look no further than The Haunted World of El Superbeasto.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Did I say "dead child?" You bet your sweet ass I did. Just weeks before the baby is due, Madeline and her husband are involved in an auto accident that leaves her old man in the grave and also proves to be fatal to her unborn child. Madeline will not be swayed from her goal of carrying the baby to term and does indeed give natural birth to a stillborn child that she christens Grace. It's the damnedest thing, though - Madeline puts dead little Grace to her breast and the child sputters, wheezes, and...um...well...comes to life. And baby Grace is hungry.
Paul Solet, screenwriter and director of Grace, uses his considerable talent to provide an unflinching examination of the depths of the mother/child bond. How far will a mother go to protect her child and provide it a safe haven, even if she senses that things are not quite right? How far will a mother go to protect her child and provide it a safe haven, even if she knows that things are obviously way beyond fucked up? Madeline Matheson will go a long goddamned way to keep her little monster snug and happy.
Maybe you're expecting something along the lines of the demon seed from It's Alive, but Grace throws a left hook to the face of rote horror movie convention and gives you a sweet, doe-eyed, angelic-looking little ball of hell. It's a baby, for chrissakes. A cute baby. A baby that people who hate babies will still find adorable. And that's precisely what gives Grace it's one-two punch. A creature-feature without a creature. Kinda-sorta. Dig?
There's a lot of stuff in the movie that's probably trying to make various points of a deeper nature: the vegan references, Madeline's failed lesbian relationship with her midwife, the animal cruelty shit that's always on her TV. If you want to wade into those murky waters and start piecing together real or imagined symbolism, feel free. Or, if you're like me, you can enjoy this movie on the sole merits of a superior monster flick that is way better than anything I've seen in theaters as of late.
Solet shot this in something like seventeen days. I can't wait to see what he can do with a big budget and a decent shooting schedule, 'cause he's already squashed the shit out of all the stuff clogging up your local cineplex.
And just for the record, I'd like to further tip the hat to a movie that clocks in right around eighty minutes. No padding, no bullshit. Lots of directors and studios could learn a lesson there. Sometimes less is a whole lot more, especially when that's all the story needs to be its most effective.
The DVD is filled with bonus documentaries and the like, if that's your cup of tea.
Good shit, mang.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Zodiac Killer Records should be given some kind of medal of honor for making the Mad Brother Ward and the Screaming Street Trash records available in digital format, thusly righting one of the music world's most egregious wrongs.
The Screaming Street Trash may have only existed for a span of two years or so (1992 - 1994 or thereabouts, if my cloudy memory is correct), but what a two years they were. Those years saw Mad Brother and Co. take time out of their rigorous schedule of being banned from North Carolina's seediest punk venues just long enough to record and release two of the finest records to ever come down that worn-out old rock'n'roll pike. The result was the sonic equivalent of Killer Kowalski tearing off your fucking ear and then visiting you in the hospital to laugh in your face.
First up was Hated By All on the legendary TPOS label, quickly followed by Am I Cool Or What on Baloney Shrapnel. Produced by ANTiSEEN's Jeff Clayton, these records are thick walls of malevolence that don't need to hide behind insipid political posturing, ridiculous clothing, or any of the other de rigueur accoutrements of the early nineties punk scene. It is a "fuck you" not just of the sake of it, but because it was what everybody else rightly deserved at that moment in time. Cocky it may be, but the grit is there to back it up.
A lot of people didn't know what to make of these records when they first came out. The late Tim Yohannon of Maximum Rock'n'Roll rightly praised them both. FLIPSIDE was dumb enough to dismiss the Mad Brother as a GG clone, which is so far from the truth it makes me wonder if that particular dolt of a reviewer even gave the records a spin. I think people were so used to being spoonfed the curdled pablum that was passing as punk that they didn't know what to do when the real deal cold-cocked 'em with five across the motherfucking eyes. These records stand tall alongside anything you want to throw at 'em. They are backbone and gristle and busted knuckles.
I was lucky enough to witness the Screaming Street Trash perform on two different occasions. Was this shit for real? Most assuredly. You saw the Ramones in '76? Big fucking deal. Black Flag in '82? Who fucking cares? I saw Mad Brother Ward and the Screaming Street Trash in '93, and it was all that and more. I'm not bragging; I was just a witness. Hell, at that time I was too close to the flame to fully grasp the power of what I was seeing. But after fifteen years of seeing countless bands come and go, I still end up using those MBW shows as a yardstick by which others are measured.
This CD release contains both legendary seven inchers and the bonus track "Dead End Sunday." I was hoping maybe someone somewhere salvaged the tape of Mad Brother Ward and Cocknoose double-teaming Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" for inclusion, but I guess that would have been more than any of us deserve. As it stands, we get fourteen tracks clocking in at around twenty-two minutes. If they were charging by the minute, it'd still be a deal. At a ten dollar sticker price, it's like they're giving it to you.
These records hold up every bit as well today as they did on their original release dates. In a time where everyone is watching their wallet and pinching their pennies, this is money well spent. I can't recommend this disc highly enough.
Ten out of five stars.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Well, there is always several layers to an onion. I could throw out the obvious "ten years of anything is enough," which holds true to an alarming percentage. Or I could go in the direction of personnel changes finally wearing us down to the point of "Fine..Forget It." The thought of finding yet another piece of the puzzle was quite depressing. We were in a position to go for it full time, quit the dayjobs, get on the road and go. Don't come back till its over.
We did a pretty decent job of getting out on the road for small tours a few times a year, as well as the day trips in the southeast on the weekends. Getting out and playing the dives is definitely a part of the doing-it-for-a-living aspect of playing in a band. Gotta play live, a lot. I used to disagree on that point, but you always insisted - and with a damn good point - that it was a part of the game.
I was always into the writing and recording aspect of it all. As ya'll may or may not know, or realize, or care, I'm a recording junkie. Since we recorded the first 7 inch record with Jamie Hoover, I became fascinated with recording. It's almost a disease. Whenever I hear a new song, my mind automatically picks it apart, piece by piece. Drives folks crazy, Just what happens, though. I can't hep it.
But playing live pays the bills. That's where the merch is sold, as well as gaining ground. The fact that next time you play a town, more people show up. You make more money which equals a living. But to be pefectly honest, I will admit that a majority of the nail in the coffin of Hellstomper should be laid squarely on my shoulders. As I was saying, we found ourselves at the point of get on the road and don't come back until it's over. I ain't no road warrior. I realized I don't give a damn if its a piece of junk 1980 Ford van or a big ass bus with a rose painted on the side. Its still the road. I have five year old twins and a great wife. If you do the math, it's an easy read. Not to completely plop down on the shrink couch or nothing, but I'm the son of a trucker. Pops did what he had to do to feed the family. Gone on the road a lot. He told me later that he regrets missing out on his kids growing up. So I decided... I'm not going to.
Speculatively, we could have trucked on for as long as we wanted too. I got ten or more albums worth of songs and riffs floating in my head at any given time. I write two hundred and fifteen songs a day; that's fifteen more than David Allan Coe.
Actually, I do believe that I got several good albums left in me. I'm speaking of the tunes part of the equation. This is the way Hellstomper worked: Alan wrote damn good lyrics, and I worked up a riff. Songs done. That's the way it worked ninety-eight percent of the time. I know for a fact that you are sitting on notebooks full of lyrics that put other songwriters to shame. It's what you do; it's how your twisted brain works.
As far as other talent we could have plugged in - hind sight is twenty-twenty. I can ramble off a list of folks that could have been courted to make Hellstomper an unstoppable monster.
Imagine, if you will, Big Tom Hughes from Polecat Boogie as a second guitar player. DAMN IT!! Widowmaker from Cocknoose on bass. HOLY SHIT! Since I'm already out in no mans land, how about plugging Travis and Liza of Hammerlock in? Think that might sound alright?
Lynyrd who?? Oooh, blasphemy. My bad, I got to daydreamin' there for a second.
I did start getting the urge to get a second guitar player, just to mix it up a bit, but sometimes those things complicate more than they accomplish. Lose some edge sometimes with too many folks onstage. You can end up trading a raw guitar-driven sound for a wall of guitar sound. It might have been fun though.
It's amazing that the very thing that makes you feel free can also feel like a magnificent weight around your neck. It's hard to balance the two. Now that you've entered the arena doing a completely (one man) solo gig, does that change that particular dynamic at all?
It is extremely different. Anybody that's ever played in a band knows how hard it is to sometimes keep it together and going. Me and you go back about as long as anyone I know that ain't blood, but I'm sure there have been several times when you would have really loved to pull the van over, shove me out, back over me a few times, and go on down the road a better man. I know I've come close to waiting until everyone went in the gas station to take a wizz and buy some god-awful pickled jerky meat by-product and just stick the key in the ignition and leave without looking back. It's only natural. Bands argue, fight, get pissed, and all that mess, like a freaking soap opera playing out in front of my eyes. I don't like soap operas. A band can become a job. Somtimes you want to quit your job, but you end up weighing the pros and cons and keep on going.
We've had more than our fair share of members to come through Hellstomper in ten years. I think that was definitely to our credit at the end of the day. It was not easy dealing with new dynamics all the time, but at the same time is served to keep things new and fresh. I don't know if I would have made it ten years if things had not have been changing so much. It might have gotten stale. I don't know.
But now when it comes to the solo stuff, it's a very different critter altogether. After Hellstomper, I made some job moves. I was in full blown baby-needs-a-new-pair-of-shoes mode. Work-a-freakin-holoic. But the whole time I knew I had to play music again. It's what I do. It's funny, I kept thinkin about how people give the Stones a hard time about how old they are...like they need to hang it up or something. All I can think now is "how do they quit?" It's what they do. Are you supposed to just retire and stop playing music? Can't do it.
So about five or six months after Hellstomper's demise, I started writing lyrics. Never tried that very much; Alan wrote lyrics. It was like my left arm was gone or something. But I started writing and started actually enjoying it. Been writing ever since. Finally got notebooks full of crap - some good, some bad, some half done, you know... ramblings. Also realized that I really enjoy writing songs about everyday shit. But the trick is to get it down in a way that is interesting or twisted. "Ballad of Terry Gordy" - I wrote that one about Terry Gordy, the man. Not the superhero wrestler that everyone saw on TV growing up. But the dude that could be found down at the Palomino Club in Rossville, right down the road from me. He was still a giant of a man. But there was a sad story sitting there also. A man that gave literally everything he had to his profession. His payoff was a broken home, bad health, drug addiction, and in and out of jail. Don't get me wrong, he is still Terry Freakin Gordy. Nothing but respect there, but he got caught square in the grinds of life.
With Hellstomper, I wrote probably fifty percent of the music on an acoustic guitar, then we worked it out with the whole band electric. With the solo thing, I decided to keep it fairly acoustic. A little bit of electric here and there when needed. I got a studio full of cheap washboards, banjos, basses, harmonicas, fiddles, you name it. So I'll usually sit down and record a song, look around, just pick up whatever strikes my fancy at the time. Comes out sounding like it sounds. Not too much forethought goes into it, and it keeps me entertained. Best thing is, what I say goes. Nobody's input but mine is needed. I also only have to split the money one way! Goes straight to my wife! Thank you, I'll be here all night...
Blast from the past. You recently played a pretty damn successful live show with another founding Hellstomper member, Chris "Paw Paw" Scott. What's in the future for that? You guys doing originals, covers, what?
Yeah, big fun. We played a local Chattanooga club. Chris had some band ask him to play on the bill with them, so he gave me a call and asked if I wanted to play also. Finally said sure, why not. Had a great time. I believe everybody involved did as well. Really strange playing acoustic live. I've had some doubts about it; been asked by some folks from time to time - which I am grateful for and am sorry if I did not get back in touch..nothing personal...I need to work on my communication skills - but to go from what a Hellstomper show was like to some dude picking acoustic guitar is something I hadn't tried. Almost apprehensive about it, but it turned out to be a good-time show. Think we might try it some more.
Me and Chris have stayed good friends for years now, as well. We sit around writing songs and fixing each other's songs. His album Livin' in Sin is the second release on my Earfly Records label. We've had a lot of it done for a while and finished it up just here recently. Been a lot of fun, though. The thing that struck me about playing acoustic is that everybody is yelling and hollering just as much as a rock and roll show; the difference is that I can hear them.
As far as covers versus originals, we argued about the setlist for a bit before the show. He's one of those dudes that can pull out any classic country tune you want to hear, while I'm all about original material all the time, unless you're gonna do something different with the cover. He had a point with his "everybody-likes-to-hear-shit-they-know" argument. I conceded to do a couple and that's it. So I think we did one Dwight Yoakam, one Shaver tune, one Cheech and Chong cover - the rest were all originals. Like I said, when we get out some more, check it out. Not much bloody-knuckle rock n' roll, but you won't want your money back. How's that for humble?
My hat's off. I'd be intimidated as hell to do an acoustic show. How's that stack up against doing the rock and roll? It's got to be way more nerve wracking.
It was nice only having to carry a guitar to a show. To tell the truth, I was more apprehensive about singing than I was anything else. Screaming background vocals over my guitar in Hellstomper is one thing, but letting the world hear my beautiful pipes solo is another.
So how's the album doing for you? Heard you're already at work on the next one...
The Brown Album - it's like The White Album, only darker - is doing pretty good, so far. Especially considering the fact that I'm not very efficient at the marketing side of things. Just kinda threw it up on my MySpace page. If you want it, there it is - buy it. If you don't, don't. I'm doing this whole solo thing out of a genuine love of playing music. Have no aspirations of making a dime. Set the price at five bucks. No world tours planned. Just like to write and record.
Thought about trying to deal with a couple of small labels, but to tell the truth...why? It might sell a few more copies, but like I said, I don't really give a damn. I used to get a kick out being on a label; I guess that was more of an ego thing. Hey some dude thinks we're good and is gonna spend money on us. It's awful flattering, but, in the end, it really don't amount to a hill of beans.
You'll remember a couple of bands we played with that got "the big contract" with some major labels. Kinda funny once you find out that the money they front is a loan on the money they will try to make off of you. Kinda like your pimp just bought you a new dress. So, I just started my own label, Earfly Records. That way, I can screw myself. I go my own speed and don't have to deal with anybody's stupid-assed input cloggin' up my good time. Sound like a good business plan to you?
Been working on Dos, my second album. I kinda record in spurts, whenever I find the time. It usually goes slower than I would like because I play all the instruments. Slows me down a bit. I's thinking about stripping this album down even more because my songs I wanna get done are piling up on me. I'm gettin' backlogged.
Is it easier doing that by yourself, or does it make it more difficult? You've got a home studio with endless time to tinker, perfect, rehash, scrap, and build again. After so long, that can be counterproductive. How do you draw the line on stopping when you're not looking at another guy's studio clock and comparing it to how much cash you've got in your pocket?
So with the solo work it's a different approach altogether. Lay down vocal with acoustic guitar, then bass, then drums, if needed, then maybe one other instrument. Still no editing allowed, no crazy effects. It's simplified music.
Take a listen to the classics: Roger Miller, older Willie tracks, older John Prine stuff. It's always the simple three instrument stuff that catches my ear. Mistakes, glitches, bumping and breathing into the mic. All that stuff makes it real.
As far as not having a band, I must admit its nice having free reign of what is played. Percussion is usually where I waste the most time; there's so many options, so little time. It would be nice to have a drummer on stand-by. Maybe some drummer will move in next door -one with no life -that would come over at a moment's notice. Actually, I don't think a drummer living next door sounds like a good idea at all, the more I think about it.
What has two hands, two feet and likes to hang around with musicians?
I give...Ooo, slow brain strikes again. Drummers, ba domp bomp.
Think you'll ever do a band again? You never get the urge to rock and roll?
I'd be liar if I said otherwise. It was like I was saying earlier - how do you quite? Been playing the rock and the roll since I was like fourteen or fifteen or something. Had a band of some sorts ever since.
Even with Hellstomper, traveling, setting up, tearing down, hanging out with dudes you don't always want breathing, you find yourself thinking "What the hell am I doing here?" But then you get onstage and turn it up till your ears ring. You can't beat it. Makes it all worth it, you know?
As far as another band, got a few things kicking around right now. We'll have to see how things pan out. I guess I should say to stay tuned.
What's your dream team? If you could assemble a band made up of ANYBODY?
Jimmy Martin, Grandpa Jones, Roger Miller, Jerry Reed and me. Don't know what we would play, but I bet practice would be some funny shit.
You've been playing in bands for going on twenty years now. What's your crowning achievement? Fondest memory?
No major achievements that I can remember. I made it through a couple of shows that were going downhill quick. Survived on potted meat and crackers for awhile. Let's see - didn't get stabbed to death in Houston, avoided killing anyone with my hair-brained Ace Frehley pyro, got the van parked with the trailer still attached in Charleston, toured two consecutive tours along the direct path of major hurricanes, cleared that club in Chapel Hill out with one song, avoided heavy drug addiction, never killed the drummer, met my future wife in a corn field in Kansas, discovered that you shouldn't mix watermelon and flour, playing shows barefooted is not wise, and when the bottles fly - duck.
So what's left that you want to do?
I need to repaint the studio; the smoking has discolored the paint a bit. Gotta get the rest of the pine tree out of my yard and cut it up. Grass needs mowing. You wanted a shoot interview. That's real life, buddy.
In the near future, gotta get Dos finished up. Maybe a late fall release on that. After that, me and Chris Scott are gonna knock out an album together with some good-time tunes we wrote. Not like "JJ" Good Times. Then again, maybe a lot like "JJ" Good Times. We'll have to see what the finished product sounds like.
I tipped my hat earlier about some more solo rock n' roll. Got some tracks started already. Don't know about a whole album yet. Thinking more about a split seven incher with somebody first. Any takers?
I've also been talkin with Big Tom Hughes from Polecat Boogie Revival about maybe getting some rock n' roll cooking. If we can pull that off, I'm pretty positive the outcome would be some guitar heavy musical bliss, the likes of which the world has not yet heard!
After that, who knows? I'm just trying to live the life I'm supposed too. Play what comes to my brain. Keep on keeping on.
Is this where I should mention the forty-six unreleased Hellstomper tracks I've been sitting on that I was gonna bootleg as soon as you left the state? You already found out about my knock-off t-shirt merch I licensed out! And I would've gotten away with it if they hadn't used that goo-goo lookin weirdo to model 'em!
Actually, I would like to urge everyone reading this to buy the Alan King and The Beer Drinking Christians CD. And while you're spending your hard-earned worthless dollars, pick up The Brown Album. Seriously... five bucks for fourteen tracks? Try it, you'll like it. It'll grow on you; you'll be hummin' that bullshit all day. Keep your eyes open for new shit I'll be releasing soon. Also, come on out to a few live shows me and Mr. Scott have lined up. You'll have a good time guaranteed.
That's all I got. Brown out. Get it?