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DS Photo Galley: Swingin’ Utters with Western Settings, Darius Koski and Duck & Cover (Boston, MA)

For the first time in what I think was about five years, Swingin’ Utters played a headline show in Boston this past Sunday evening (their last two trips through this area were on a tour with Lagwagon three years ago and as part of the massive Fat Wreck 25th Anniversary tour the following summer). Though the lineup has changed AND it was an unseasonably cold mid-November night AND the Patriots were throttling the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football at the time, the old school punks came out in droves for the occasion and met the band with what seemed like a throwback vibe.

It was announced just prior to this tour that the Utters are putting out a sort of double-album greatest hits compilation, Drowning In The Sea, Rising With The Sun, on December 8th through Fat Wreck Chords, and the setlist on this particular night seemed to be culled from some of the earlier half of the band’s career. Sure “The Librarians Are Hiding Something” and “Alice” from their most recent couple of post-hiatus albums made welcome appearances, but this seemed like a night for the old guard. Luke Ray has served as a steady breath of fresh air behind the drum kit for the last couple years, and he’s now got his Sciatic Nerve bandmate Tony Teixeira (Nothington/Western Addiction/Cobra Skulls) as his rhythm section counterpart, having taken over for Miles Peck earlier this year. Jack Dalrymple also sat this particular run out, meaning longtime Utters partners Johnny Bonnel and Darius Koski and the new recruits are playing aggressive and lean as a four-piece. In spite of the moving parts throughout the years, the Bonnel and Koski and company remain one of the most esteemed bands in the scene and, truthfully, songs like “No Eager Men” and “Five Lessons Learned” and “Pills And Smoke” and, of course, “”Windspitting Punk” sound just as earnest as ever.

Western Settings are providing direct support on this run. The band have been on a steady climb over the last few years, and with good reason. Their 2015 album, Yes It Is, released digitally here at Dying Scene, remains high on my personal favorites list, and the band has only gotten better in the two years since. Boston can be a bit of a finicky place for out-of-town bands to play, but the four-piece San Diego-based Jawbreaker-meets-Replacements outfit did an admirable job on their first trip through the Bay State. If a band can obviously play with passion and intensity and works up a sweat on their own, dimes to dollars says they’ll win over a crowd that is obviously interested in the headliners, and that seemed the case on this night, as they were increasingly well-received as their 45-minute set moved forward.

Doing double duty on this tour, Swingin’ Utters guitarist and principal songwriter Darius Koski is also serving as support. It’s the first time he’s really hit the road as a solo artist, especially outside California, and he enlisted the help of fellow Utters Luke Ray on drums and Tony Teixeira on bass to fill out some of the instrumentation that appears on his two solo albums, 2015’s Sisu and this month’s stellar What Was Once Is By And Gone (both released on Fat Wreck) and that would have been missed were he playing strictly solo and acoustic. A personal highlight was the short set’s closer, “Another Man,” which appears as the last song on the newest album in stripped down acoustic format, but was given a revved up, electric reworking for this tour.

Boston’s own Duck & Cover were well-deserved local openers for this particular show. There’s been a bit of a garage rock undercurrent in the local scene for the last handful of years that bands like Duck & Cover and The Warning Shots and Michael Kane and the Morning Afters and even Continental and others have been a part of, and that’s been a welcome addition to a seen that has obviously had its fair share of ska-punk and “working class” Celtic punk bands over the last two decades. Made up of members that might look familiar from bands like The Black Cheers and the Acrobrats and Bang Camaro, bands like D&C show that mixing a little Guns & Roses with your Clash and Ramones records is not bad thing.

Head below for our full photo gallery from the evening!



Dying Scene Radio Special Edition- Punk In Drublic Festival – Band Spotlight: Hilltop Rats and John Feldmann of Goldfinger

In this special edition of Dying Scene Radio, we sent the boys down to Orange County for the SoCal leg of Fat Mike’s Punk in Drublic Festival. Luckily, they left the free beer lines long enough to meet up with Washington punks, Hilltop Rats to talk about what it’s like to be shorn by Guttermouth and the perils of working in a porno distribution warehouse, among other things. If that isn’t enough to pique your interest (although we doubt it wasn’t), Bob also managed to snag a quick interview with the always dapper Goldfinger front man, Mr. John Feldmann as he made his way to the stage! All of that and much more below, in this special episode of the official podcast of Dying Scene!



Dying Scene Radio – Episode 3 – Band Spotlight: People Corrupting People

In this installment of the new and improved Dying Scene Radio, Anarchopunk heads down to the beach to meet up with Colorado’s only Orwellian punk band, People Corrupting People to smoke some weed, talk about their new EP Loan Shark and frolic in the sun! While we don’t typically endorse frolicking, we let it slide this once for a chance to talk to the Mile High Punks. If that don’t wet your whistle, how’s about we rustle ya’ up some noteworthy news stories and some blazing hot new music?? All that and more in Episode 3 of Dying Scene Radio, the official podcast of Dying Scene!! Links below!



DS Photo Gallery: Barb Wire Dolls, Svetlanas, 57 and The Devil’s Twins – Somerville, MA

So an interesting and noteworthy thing happened last Thursday night at a club called Thunder Road in Somerville, Massachusetts, the traditionally working-class city located immediately north of Boston. However, an evening that we thought, at the time was noteworthy for good reasons became noteworthy for negative reasons in the span of about twenty-four hours. I’ll explain…

Thursday night in Somerville should have marked the halfway turnaround point for one of the most internationally-diverse touring bills we’ve had come through this way in quite some time, which is compelling enough given the current sociopolitical environment but especially given the brazenness with which some members of the, shall we say ‘less culturally sensitive’ members of our society have been emboldened and empowered in displaying their less culturally sensitive ideas under the current administration. (Nazis, folks…we’re talking about Nazis.) Barb Wire Dolls hail originally from the Greek Island of Crete, and kicked off what should have been an impressive span of forty-one shows on October 6th in Laguna Niguel, California, that all featured support from controversial, in-your-face ex-Russian punks Svetlanas and South Korean alt-rock duo 57. The trio of bands should have wound their way clockwise through the lower 48 before coming to rest in Los Angeles on November 25th and it should have been a triumphant feat to behold. The road to hell is paved in good intentions, though, and tour date #22 in Somerville turned out to be the last. Because Nazis. New Hampshire Nazis.

57 kicked off this evening’s festivities and did what I imagine they did over the first three weeks of tour: caught a room full of unassuming Americans completely off guard. The duo (Jun plays guitar and sings, Snow plays drums) hail from Seoul, South Korea. They’ve been plying their wears throughout Asia and Europe for the last three years as a band, and and brought their show across The Pond for the first time for this tour. And what a show it is. Dynamic is the first word that came to mind, as the band have perfected the sort of loudQUIETloud sound originated by the Pixies a few decades ago, only if that sound were completely fuzzed out a la Sonic Youth and, of course, produced by only two people. The crowd was slow to arrive on this night (it never did really “fill out” in the traditional sense, leading a friend who was working the venue to make note of the seeming 1-to-1 press/photographer to crowd member ratio), meaning that the limited few of us in attendance were treated to a special, memorable performance. I have absolutely no prior knowledge of the South Korean music scene — K-Pop notwithstanding — but I will say that 57 deserve to be big no matter where they play.

Boston’s own The Devil’s Twins followed, providing local support for the evening. The band have been slowly, steadily making their way up the ranks of the local music scene, culminating in a few recent Boston Music Awards nominations. If you’re not from around here, the band have themselves billed as an “American Noir” band, and I’d say that is pretty accurate; there’s sort of a goth surf rock vibe combined with a black-and-white, throwback stage vibe that evokes images of a haunted Salem graveyard.

Which brings us to Svetlanas. Frontwoman Olga Svetlanas is all of five-foot-nothing and yet brings an intense stage presence that has earned her — and her band — a reputation as one of the most intense and powerful figures in our scene. Her band — Diste on drums, JJ on guitar and Steve Armeli on bass — plays loud, tight and fast, combining to create the effect of sweeping the show-goer up in a hard core punk rock cyclone. Those who complain that punk rock has become too safe or too tame in recent years would be well served to take in a Svetlanas show to regain their bearings. It’s brash; it’s aggressive; it’s political; it’s confrontational — Svetlanas are the real deal. You don’t have a choice but to pay attention when Olga and crew are playing; they bring the show right directly into the crowd. On this particular night, the crowd was trended largely male and largely of the “over-30” age bracket, yet was just as engaged and involved in the show as many a crowd half is age might be, not scared off but instead reveling in the politically controversial whirling dervish in their midst. As is usually the case when Svetlanas play, they more than stole the show, even if their set was cut a few songs short due to Diste’s obliteration of the kick drum!

Barb Wire Dolls closed the show out with an extensive, nay exhaustive, set that didn’t wrap up til the wee hours of Friday morning. By now the story of the Barb Wire Dolls and their having been signed personally by Lemmy Kilmister has been told far and wide. Co-founders Isis Queen (vocals) and Pyn Doll (guitar) have been touring endlessly for the better part of seven years with bit of a rotating cast behind them that currently (bassist Iriel Blaque, drummer Crash Doll and new rhythm guitar player Xtine Reckless) sounds and plays as tight as ever. The sound was a little thinner than might be expected with twin guitar attack, though that may have been a PA issue more than anything else. For a band with an international make-up, Barb Wire Dolls are a quintessentially Los Angeles rock and roll act; clad in leather and lace and oozing sweat and sex appeal through a chorus that owes as much to Nirvana as it does to The Clash (sometimes those musical comparisons are a little too close for comfort, but that’s a story for another day). Barb Wire Dolls seemed to be right at home on the larger stages afforded by their stint on the Warped Tour this past summer and their stage show more than fills the smaller confines of a club show; as evidenced above, Isis Queen and the gang left it all on stage (and, in fact, off the stage as well after she took an unplanned tumble off a wobbly monitor early in the set only to escape seemingly unscathed).

Sadly, as it turns out, this would mark the last night this trio of touring bands would appear on a bill together in the States. The following night in Manchester, NH, brought with it an incident in which an individual in Nazi paraphernalia showed up at the show. Threats were made (and continue to be made), safety was jeopardized, and ultimately, Svetlanas refused to play that particular show. In the day that followed and in a story that’s still developing, both Svetlanas and 57 have dropped what should have been a triumphant “fuck you” to the xenophobic members of the power structure and the rank and file it supports.

Check out our full gallery from the evening below.



Interview: World/Inferno Friendship Society’s Jack Terricloth on the origin of Hallowmass

All Photos By Jeff Schaer-Moses Photography
Mr. Terricloth giving his all at Hallowmas 19.

It’s been 20-years since The World/Inferno Friendship Society put on their first “official” Hallowmas at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey and it was a spectacle to behold. The group had only been together a short while, they’d released three-singles, and they even managed to get some love from the Village Voice. Not a bad kick off party for a new band’s new event. However, according to Jack Terricloth W/IFS has been celebrating Hallowmas since well before 1997.

“In a very real way, Inferno had been celebrating Hallowmas long before we were making music. Back in Jersey, we were a mischief gang long before our musical ambitions usurped the name.A lot of the gang members could play something, the ones who couldn’t we gave a drum. So instead of having a private bacchanal, we had a public one. Worked out.” said Terriclcoth.

From those humble Garden State roots sprang what has become one of New York City’s best Halloween celebrations. It’s not just a celebration of a fun holiday, but one of New York’s last standing cult phenom’s The World/Inferno Friendship Society.

“It is our holiday, It is the way we mark time, it is the holiday unmarked by a patriarchal tyrant and if you ask people for candy they give it to you. A gift!” Says the eccentric Terricloth.

He has been the proprietor of Hallowmas for its entire two-decade run, and even after running the show for so long Terricloth remains the central force behind the growth of Hallowmas from a little show in Jersey to one of New York Cities best Halloween events.

“It is still very DIY. I’m over at Warsaw twice a week checking out the projections, up all night writing Hallowmissives and filling out postcards and in clubs every weekend ducking and a weaving your shot glasses. Like life this job does not get any easier, just different,” said the Pumpkin King.

The main difference from year one to year 20 has to be the growth in the venue. While Maxwell’s is no hole in the wall the northern New Jersey launching pad is nowhere near the size of W/IFS current Hallowmas venue, The Warsaw in Green point which is cavernous in comparison. Also presumably the good folks over at Scenic Presents like ‘ole Jack Terricloth and the World/Inferno a little better than the promoter at Maxwell’s did back in the late 90’s.

“The booker at Maxwell’s really didn’t like my previous band Sticks and Stones but I had changed my name and band so I don’t think he cared enough to care (there are knowns and known unknowns). His name was Todd Abramson, I used to call him every other day in SAS to get a gig! He finally gave in and gave us a Thursday night. Todd called a couple days before the show and said ‘The Hoodoo Gurus are playing Thursday’ and I said ‘Oh cool, I’d love to play with the Hoodoo Gurus! ‘mars needs guitars!’ to which he replied ‘No, you don’t understand. The Hoodoo Gurus are playing. You’re not’ and hung up. I had to tell this to the band who of course blamed me and not The Hoodoo Gurus. Decades later I told this story doing the acoustic thing in support of Kevin Second’s acoustic thing at Maxwell’s and was promptly told I was banned from Maxwell’s again,” said Terricloth.

Hallowmas is going down on Oct. 31 at The Warsaw and tickets are still very much available.



DS Interview: Darius Koski (Swingin Utters) on his new solo album, “What Was Once Is By And Gone,” and hitting the road with a new Utters linuep

If you rewind the punk rock history tape back a couple of years, you’ll come across the release of Sisu, the debut solo release from Darius Koski. The album was very much rooted in Americana and marked a bit of a sonic departure for the longtime Swingin’ Utters and Filthy Thieving Bastards guitarist and principle songwriter, though it still fit within the more diverse end of the Utters spectrum at the very least. Next Friday, Koski will release his sophomore solo album, What Was Once Is By And Gone, again via his lifelong label home, Fat Wreck Chords. This time out, Koski pushes the genre-bending element to new heights; while there is still a thread of Americana that pops up, also present are very heavy rockabilly and Johnny Cash and Nick Cave and Tom Waits-inspired sounds that each create a very different, very real mood. And that’s all by design.

I don’t want to play one style of music; I like too many things,” says Koski, who spent a dozen of his most formative years playing solely violin before eventually moving on to guitar and finding punk rock. “I just wanted to write songs, that’s basically what it came down to. I wasn’t really interested in being a virtuoso, which is all that’s about. And that’s great, but I would rather write songs than be a ripping violin player.” Still, that early experience with incredibly broad musical horizons created an early, lasting influence. “Too many things influence me and I’m interested in too many things to be a one note kind of dude, you know? So yeah, I think this one is even more all-over-the-place than the last one, for sure.”

Many of the tracks on Sisu were culled from years and years of songs that Koski has stored up, forming a catalog consisting of many dozens of tracks that date back close to three decades. It should go without saying that technological advances in the audio recording world have advanced many times over in the years since Koski began writing and recording, creating an interesting set of challenges when it comes time to revisit old tracks. “For a while, I was recording on – I don’t know if you remember, but those little cassette tapes? What do you do with those?” he asks, half-jokingly. As it turns out, what you do is press play on a microcassette player and record on a regular cassette tape, creating a lo-fidelity, hiss-heavy mix to try to decipher. “For the most part, I’m pretty anal about cataloging stuff because I’m just afraid of losing things. I’m totally that guy that spends a month being a month being obsessed with transferring his vinyl!”

The process was much the same on What Was Once Is By And Gone. Some of the tracks began simply as hummed notes into his iPhone, while some date as far back as the mid-1990s. Of particular note is the track “Fresh Glass of Nothing,” a song that was coincidentally written by his wife, herself an avid poet with whom he’s actually collaborated many times through out his songwriting career; the bulk of the Utters’ classic album Five Lessons Learned, for example, was culled primarily from her old poetry books. “Fresh Glass of Nothing” went a little differently, however. Back in the mid-90s, Koski had been in the market for a 4-track cassette recorder, and his wife purchased one while he was away on tour. “She was messing around with it at home to figure out how it worked,” he explains. One thing lead to another, and by the time Koski had returned from tour, his wife “had recorded two songs! Like, fully done songs, with her playing guitar, her lyrics, and her singing the melody! She’s not  a songwriter, but she had these two songs, and the other one is great too, but (“Fresh Glass of Nothing”) was, like, phenomenal!” Koski added the solo that appears on the song, but the rest of what you hear on the album is completely his wife’s brainchild.

Speaking of touring; Koski is putting down the day job plumber’s wrenches and gearing up to head out on the road as a solo artist for the first real time, as he’ll be doing double duty by opening up the Swingin’ Utters upcoming November dates. While he’s played a handful of dates acoustic and by himself, this time out he’ll have a small band backing him up, helping to fill out the added instrumentation that is so important to the sound on What Was Once Is By And Gone. While it can be hard to afford a full band to go on the road with, it is ultimately a goal of Koski’s to make touring with a backing band more of a part of his regular routine. I really, really want to try to make that happen,” he explains, “because the majority of the stuff on both of these records really has a lot of instrumentation and drums.” On the upcoming run, Koski has enlisted the help of some of his Utters brethren: “for this tour, Luke (Ray) is going to play drums and Tony who’s playing bass for the Utters is going to play bass, so we’ll be a three-piece.” The Tony in question is none other than Tony Teixiera, whom you probably know from his time in Cobra Skulls, Western Addiction, and most recently with alongside Luke Ray in Sciatic Nerve. Teixiera filled in for Utters bassist Miles Peck on their most recent tour and will be doing so again from here on out. “He’s pretty much our bass player now,” adding that Peck “just didn’t want to fucking tour any more. It’s not in him. It’s hard, man. It’s not for everybody.

Head here to see where you can catch Koski and the newly-retooled Swingin’ Utters lineup on the road, beginning next week in Arizona. Pre-orders for What Was Once Is By And Gone, which is due out November 3rd on Fat Wreck, are available at the same link. Meanwhile, you can head below to check out our full Q&A with Koski!



DS Photo Gallery: Smoking Popes, Chris Farren and The Bigger Empty, Cambridge, MA (10/21/17)

With all but a few rare exceptions, punk rock afternoon matinee shows have become a thing of the past in the metropolitan Boston area. This isn’t the time or place to really drill down to the core of that issue, but is both the time and place to point out than when they do happen, they can still be pretty magical. Due to a chain of scheduling miscues, last Saturday’s Smoking Popes headline show that was supposed to take place in the smaller, friendlier confines upstairs at Cambridge’s Middle East got bumped to the more cavernous space downstairs at the same venue…BUT Propagandhi was already booked to play the same space that night, so as a result, the Popes got bumped earlier. Like, way earlier. Like, “doors at noontime” earlier. The net result was a feel that had a bit of a throwback vibe for the slightly older-than-average crowd to revel in the ’90s pop punk goodness.

The Bigger Empty kicked off the show well before the early afternoon NFL games did the same. The five-piece hail from outside Chicago and are centered around frontman and songwriter Mike Felumlee, obviously pulling double-duty as drummer for the Popes. Together, the five-piece ripped through about a dozen up-tempo melodic rock tracks, most notably “Take My Heart With You,” which both appears on the band’s “Lakes & Oceans Volume 1 – Michigan” EP (La Escalera Records) and perhaps more recognizably as the introductory music to Felumlee’s Live From The Rock Room web series of live performances that he tapes from his basement. For what was basically a late morning show in their native time zone, Felumlee and keyboardist Amanda Moudry’s harmonies were tight, and the poppy energy provided by bassist Ruben Baird and new drummer Steve Lopez (who flew in from Texas and had no rehearsal time with the band) pushed the gas pedal beyond where it tops out on album format. Smoking Popes guitarist Eli Caterer filled in on guitar as well with very limited rehearsal time himself, so for a band that was hypothetically working through the kinks in real time on stage, there really weren’t very many kinks to work out. We know Mike keeps himself busy, but it’d be great to see The Bigger Empty on the touring circuit regularly!

Chris Farren served as main support, and played another perfect set. We last caught Farren a couple years ago when he was on the road with Dave Hause and Rocky Votolato, and to say that the Chris Farren live show has progressed in that amount of time is to completely understate the issue; his 2017 self is virtually a different species altogether. I’ve struggled with combining the right collection of words to encapsulate what it means to witness Farren live; there’s glitter and lights and lasers and mirror balls and pre-recorded samples and guitar loops and a gold microphone. I guess it’s like if a unicorn were playing pop-infused guitar rock on a rainbow. As an artist, it’s both inspiring and a little nerve-wracking to watch, but he had the still-filling-up crowd actually draw closer to the stage, many of them singing along at full volume.

Which brings us to the Popes. By the time the pop-punk icons took the stage, the crowd had filled out respectably. The brothers’ Caterer might not bring their show to the northeast all too often in later years, but when they to, they most definitely still bring it. Within the scene, Smoking Popes have long been considered in influential, important band, but I always got the sense that they just missed blowing up wider, for a variety of reasons most of which we won’t go into now, but one of which was that they were a pop punk band who was more than a pop punk band. “Need You Around” and “Rubella” and “Let’s Hear It For Love” had that midwestern punk rock vibe that made them at home among the likes of Alkaline Trio or Screeching Weasel but would just as easily have been at home on the alternative rock radio waves at the time. The music now sounds just as earnest and important as it did nearly a quarter-century ago. And so it was with eager anticipation that not only did the band announce they were working on new material AND hoped to have something out within the year BUT that they were also going to play one of those new tracks. It’s a song that serves as sociopolitical commentary that is, according to frontman Josh Caterer, based loosely on Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax and let the record show that this song seriously needs to see the light of day very, very, very soon. That one of the newer tracks in an afternoon of tight, high-energy pop punk sounds might have been the tightest and most inspiring of the occasion was an unexpected positive sign that we’re going to be following the sound for a lot longer.

Head below for our full photo gallery. (And seriously…there’s something to be said for getting home from a punk rock show at four in the afternoon. Let’s do this more often, yeah Boston?)



DS Exclusive: Curt Weiss on “Stranded In The Jungle,” his wild ode to Jerry Nolan (New York Dolls, The Heartbreakers)

There’s a moment in the afterword of Curt Weiss’s fascinating debut book, Stranded In The Jungle: Jerry Nolan’s Wild Ride, in which the author spots his eventual subject walking into pharmacy on a crowded New York City street. It’s the early 1990s, and Weiss hadn’t seen Nolan for the close to the duration of the preceding decade. The passage is written in truly cinematic fashion and proves instantly relatable to anybody that’s fancied themselves an interviewer, or even just been a fan of another human being at some fundamental level. In it, Weiss explains how he’d played that very situation out seemingly countless ways, projecting what might have become a deep friendship between seemingly kindred spirits separated by the better part of a generation. However, he lets the moment pass, opting to let Nolan go on about his daily business. Weiss would move to Seattle literally the following day and Nolan would sadly pass away in January 1992, so the two unfortunately would not reconnect in person after that incident.

In a perfectly poetic world, the inspiration for Stranded In The Jungle would have started right then and there, on that New York City sidewalk. Reality maybe not always be poetic, but it is nevertheless fascinating. As would be revealed in our hour-plus-long conversation with Weiss in advance of the book’s release, the groundwork would come more than a decade later, but the inspiration and the connection came far, far earlier. When he was perhaps better known by his stage name of Lewis King, Curt Weiss ran in overlapping New York City circles with Jerry Nolan, albeit at opposite ends of a generation (Nolan was born in 1946, Weiss roughly a decade-and-a-half later). Years after Nolan’s career glory days as drummer of both the New York Dolls and The Heartbreakers, Weiss would end up inheriting not only an apartment that Nolan and one of his many girlfriends lived in, but eventually his role as drummer in the then-NYC-based rockabilly band The Rockats (formerly Levi and the Rockats) as well.

Weiss would eventually tire of the NYC music scene, turn thirty, and move to the Pacific Northwest. After years of working in the TV industry, Weiss got the bug to put together a project of his own. “I had a few aborted failures; a documentary that I didn’t get full funding for, and another thing I wanted to do with EMP, the Experience Music Project, that sort of fell through,” says Weiss. “Carla DeSantis, who used to have ROCKRGRL Magazine, said “you should write a book! Once you write a book, you’ll get on all those panels! South by Southwest will call!” So I said “alright, what the hell.”

As anyone — present company included — who’s ever toyed with the idea of writing a book will tell you, getting from the “alright, what the hell” stage to the “put pen to paper stage” is perhaps the most quantum of imaginable leaps. Just the idea incubation stage itself can be all-consuming. As Weiss explains, I was talking to my wife, she said “well, you can’t shut up about Dylan or the Beatles, why don’t you write about them?” And I said “oh Jesus, there’s enough Dylan and the Beatles books out there by people who know way more than me.” So I just thought about it and said, “Jerry Nolan!” Many of Nolan’s contemporaries, most notably his frequent collaborator in music and other, less reputable endeavors, Johnny Thunders, had received their due in both print and film over the years. Nolan had been an influential member in two of the more influential bands of a sound and a scene and a decade, and yet, like his bands, had been largely overlooked in more ways than one. And this, as it turns out, becomes one of the more recurring themes threaded throughout Stranded In The Jungle.

In or around 2006, Weiss set out to lay the groundwork for what would become his debut book. The original goal was to compile an oral history with Weiss, in typical drummer fashion, serving as the backbone of the project, tying it all together. In the years that followed, the project would evolve, taking on a life of its own. “I would put it down for weeks, if not months, at a time, and as you get further and further into it, I think there’s some old saying that “every branch of knowledge leads to another twig” or something much pithier than I can remember now. “The tree of knowledge has many branches,” or something like that. One thing leads to another leads to another leads to another, and you have to at least make the effort to talk to people.” The list of people contacted for the project is exhaustive; the rundown provided in the afterword contains easily a hundred names of all shapes and sizes. Names like Clem Burke and Chris Stein and Deborah Harry of Blondie, Richard Hell, Tommy Ramone, Suzi Quatro, Billy Squier, Mick Jones of The Clash and Glen Matlock of Sex Pistols. “I had eight years or nine years of gathering up material, but you start writing narratives and you realize there’s a little piece missing. You have to hunt for that piece, and if you can find it in a previous book or magazine or documentary, that’s great. Sometimes you have to call someone.

By 2013, an initial draft weighing in at approximately 700 pages had taken shape. From there, the whittling started, as did the hunt for agents and publishers. An initial contract was signed, calling for submission of a 75,000 word manuscript. (*Editor’s Note: For comparison’s sake, the story you’re reading now clocks in around 2200 words, or 10320 if you count the Q&A below.*) Weiss, due to his exhaustive research on the life and times of one of the New York scene’s most overlooked figures, would initially submit close to 135,000 words. Mike Edison, a writer and drummer himself (Edison had been a collaborator of GG Allin’s, for example) was brought in, and eventually the manuscript was whittled to just under 100,000 words. Stranded In The Jungle finally hit bookshelves this month, more than a decade after the wheels started turning. “It’s hard to believe that it’s just all-of-a-sudden there, after struggling for really eleven years.

The result of Weiss’s years of hard work, Stranded In The Jungle paints a compelling picture of a man who was arguably one of the few most underrated drummers in American rock music and who was, at the same time, a deeply depressingly flawed human being who saw many of his friends and peers pass him by. Childhood friends like Kiss’ founding drummer Peter Criss. Old flames like the Divine Miss M herself, Bette Midler. Even former bandmates and seemingly musical blood-brothers like Johnny Thunders would become more household names than Nolan, and that all says nothing about the seemingly endless list of bands that were directly influenced by the Dolls and the Heartbreakers: Sex Pistols, The Clash, Guns N Roses, Motley Crue, The Replacements, Black Flag, and on and on on. “The Dolls, they were the great catalyst. All of those early (New York City punk) bands — Television, Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie — all of them had members who were deep New York Dolls fans, and they were just motivated by the idea that “if the Dolls can do it, we can do it.” If you can play three chords, maybe not play like Keith Emerson or Jimmy Page and talk about what you want to talk about, than I could to it too.

Sadly, Nolan’s history of having been left behind by abandoned dated back well before his music career began. “Not to sound to pompous,” Weiss says, “but I believe he saw himself as a ‘stigmatized other.’ He was abandoned by a first father-figure. The second father figure abandoned him. There was a lot of moving around, he was always the new kid in town. As cliched as that sounds, his life was saved by rock and roll!” Nolan and his mother eventually settled in New York City, where his career as a drummer would start to take off, albeit in small doses. Influenced by jazz and big band leaders like Gene Krupa before him, Nolan developed an identity that went beyond simply playing drums. “He had a full view of music, not just as a drummer, but what the band would sound like, how you should arrange your songs, what type of music you should play, what order the set should be in, the clothing you should wear. It was fully encompassing; he was not just the guy that kept the beat in the back.

As rock and roll giveth, unfortunately, so rock and roll taketh away, for as talented and influential a drummer as Nolan was, there’s a reason that we’re reading his first biography a quarter-century after his passing. Stranded In The Jungle could have been a fluff piece, particularly since author and subject shared a lot of mutual experiences. Weiss, to his credit, left a great many of the warts available for all to see. Nolan was not, as you have probably surmised by now, without more than his share of demons that held him back personally and professionally. Chief among those demons, as may be expected given that this is a New York City, Lower East Side, early 1970s story we’re talking about, was heroin. As Weiss explains, “every band has people like that who just stepped on people to be successful. (Nolan) became a drug addict, so he used people to meet the needs of his addiction. He used women all the time. He took advantage of people. He lied. He stole. He cheated. And people were enablers.” 

While Jerry Nolan was no stranger to the company of female companions, most of whom he’d use for his own personal gain, the two loves that would compete for Jerry’s affections the most for the remainder of his life would, of course, be the yin and yang that are music and heroin. “Other people, their careers are ascending and his isn’t and I think it was so painful for him,” says Weiss. “It was so painful to be left behind. Heroin made him happy. And that’s what people that use heroin say.” Heroin would take Nolan’s pain away while creating infinitely more pain in the process. “It’s sad that he didn’t have the skills to get through it in another way, and that our society wasn’t able to help him. All we did is stigmatize him more, and that just made him want to use more heroin.” And there we have effectively the entire cyclical nature of addiction in a nutshell.

As the years would go by, Weiss explains, Nolan would almost never find himself free of one chemical or another, especially once he got on methadone. Leee Black Childers would tour manage The Heartbreakers around a tour of the UK and find himself in possession of a quart-sized bottle of the stuff so that Nolan and his bandmates wouldn’t abuse it. “They were waiting for Leee to come by with their methadone and at 7:02 they’d be on the phone going “where’s Leee? Where’s Leee?” The came a later US tour as a member of The Rockats in a way that Nolan could get to a methadone clinic every morning, and idea that is sadly, heartbreakingly comical in some ways.

In his later years and with his health starting to fail, Nolan would become the subject of a lengthy write-up in the legendary New York newspaper, The Village Voice. In many ways, it would service as the first time that Nolan would start getting something resembling his “due.” “I think he wanted his due. It irked him so much that all these other bands, be it the hair metal bands of the ’80s or the British punk bands, got credit for so much that he and Johnny and the Dolls or the Heartbreakers really spearheaded. That drove him insane.” Talking to Weiss, it’s very apparent that Jerry Nolan himself wasn’t the only one who felt Jerry Nolan deserved his due. “The Dolls’ influence is so deep in all those New York bands and (Malcolm) McLaren. McLaren took it to England and all those bands. Really, the fact that the Dolls are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the crime of the century to me!“And then, of course, there’s The Heartbreakers, who just posthumously celebrated the 40th anniversary of the release of their debut album, L.A.M.F. “Think about (it) — The Replacements, Black Flag and The Smiths, the core of ’80s indie rock, outside of R.E.M. and The Cure” were all publicly, directly influenced by that album. “The Heartbreakers as one of the most important influences in ’80s indie rock, and people don’t do that. But it’s a fact. You think about the Dolls and the Heartbreakers, Johnny and Jerry, who in the last forty years have been as influential as those two? Very few!

Stranded In The Jungle was released this month via Backbeat Books; you can pick it up at your local book retailer or, if you’re so inclined, at Amazon. Weiss is in the early stages of a book tour that finds him covering both coasts; head here for dates. Then, head below to check out our extensive interview with Curt Weiss himself!



DS Photo Galley: Racquet Club and Mercy Union, Cambridge, MA (10/16/17)

 

For those that were paying attention, a fun bit of punk scene history took place just under the radar upstairs at the legendary Middle East nightclub in Cambridge, MA, a couple of nights ago. The centerpiece of the evening’s festivities was the East Coast debut of Racquet Club, the latest brainchild of Blair Shahan and Sergie Loobkoff, the latter obviously of Samiam fame. Racquet Club became a thing only recently after the reunion shows that Shahan and Loobkoff’s previous band, Knapsack, played a handful of years ago after what had been a decade-and-a-half absence. After the demise of Knapsack, Shahan went on to front The Jealous Sound for a number of years, and recruited that band’s last drummer, Bob Penn, to join him when the new, post-Knapsack project with Loobkoff started. The rhythm section on the new project would be rounded out by Ian Smith, who previously played bass in a band called Mercy Beat with Sam from The Bravery (remember them, kids??). Put ’em all together and what’ve you got? Racquet Club!

The foursome put out their self-titled full-length debut album three weeks ago via Rise Records and headed out on their first headlining tour this week, stopping in Chicago before making their way down the East Coast. Cambridge marked only their third headlining show, though you wouldn’t necessarily know that by watching them. Penn and Smith were a thunderously tight anchor, keeping the low end rocking hard and heavy to drumstick-shattering results. Their dynamic playing provided reliable foundation for Shehan and Loobkoff to build and soar off. Given the songwriting parts involved, there is an element of familiarity to the melodies, though Shahan’s tone is a bit more hopeful than from the Jealous Sound/Knapsack days. Loobkoff’s trademark SG-divebombs are as angular and textured as ever, even if he snapped his high E string halfway through the set and forged ahead as a five-string player for the duration of the set, that included the band’s entire album in reordered fashion. The crowd was a tad thinner than some (read as: me) had hoped, though it was a Monday night for sure. Still, those in attendance were legit fans, many singing along for the duration of the set.

Opening this week-long stretch of the Racquet Sound East Coast trek is four-piece New Jersey band Mercy Union, whom you probably think you’ve not heard of and yet whom you’ve most definitely heard of. I’ll explain. A handful of years ago, Jared Hart, frontman for Bayonne, New Jersey street punk band The Scandals, started performing solo acoustic-style during Scandals downtime. With the help of a few local friends, he put out a full-length solo album, Past Lives and Pass Lines, a couple years ago on Say-10 Records and continued to alternate between solo shows and Scandals shows (as well as a stint in Brian Fallon’s backing band, The Crowes). Hart put together a full backing band for a few shows earlier this year, and used them to record what was slated to be the second Jared Hart solo album but what in actuality turned out to be its own thing, and for good reason. The aforementioned “backing band” includes Nick Jorgensen on bass, Rocky Catanese of Let Me Run (one of the first bands I discovered and subsequently fell in love with through Dying Scene) on guitar/backing vocals, and Benny Horowitz of The Gaslight Anthem on drums. They decided on a name — Mercy Union — only a few days before this run with Racquet Club (they had previously been billed as Jared Hart – Full Band shows), and since Cambridge was the first night of tour, that meant it was also their first show as a unified item.

The band’s set consisted of a mix of reworked songs from Past Lives & Pass Lines interspersed with new tracks from their upcoming full-length debut (more on that in the coming months). Hart’s projects, whether solo or The Scandals, have always been well received in Boston, which has become a bit of an adopted home-away-from-home for him, and that was certainly true on this night as well, if a bit more subdued than in previous shows (Boston…seriously…if you like a set of musicians enough to pay money to go to their shows and sing along and enjoy yourself in the process, what’s with the invisible semi-circular perimeter in front of the stage that people dare not tred in. Particularly upstairs at the Middle East, it’s a phenomenon I’ve never been able to explain. But I digress.) The sound, particularly on the new songs, is very much rock-and-roll (not surprising given their so so Jersey pedigree) but doesn’t quite sound exactly like the sum of the aforementioned parts would. There’s a really cool upbeat groove to a couple of the tracks (I won’t pretend to have written the names down). Even though the band collectively have several decades in the game as touring musicians, there’s a bit of unfamiliarity as they learn to play with each other. That said, the rhythm was pretty tight, Catanese provided noticeably solid harmonies to Hart’s trademark rask, and the added guitar tone provided plenty of depth to Hart’s pre-existing body of work; all clear signs that this was only night one of what should be — and deserves to be — many more to come. And don’t worry Scandals fans; both projects will co-exist!

Check out our full photo gallery below, and stay tuned for more on these pages from Racquet Club and Mercy Union going forward!



Dying Scene Radio – Episode 2 – Band Spotlight: Chris Fox (Boss’ Daughter & Vampirates)

The new and improved Dying Scene Radio is back with an all new episode! In this edition, Bob drinks a NOFX beer and gives his unsolicited opinion of it and Anarchopunk tokes up with the hardest working dude in punk rock, Mr. Chris Fox in Lancaster, California. Did we mention all of the new music and scene news? Oh…well there’s tons of that, too! Put it all in yer ears, below!



DS Photo Gallery: Riot Fest Chicago – Day 2 (Bad Brains, The Lawrence Arms, Fishbone and more)

The weekend of September 15-17 saw the annual return of Riot Fest. Riot Fest 2017 was held for the 12th consecutive year in Chicago and for the third consecutive year in Douglas Park. Once again, Riot Fest saw an eclectic crowd turn out, including multiple generations of families. We brought you our full day one gallery a week-or-so ago, so now we’re on to Day Two!

Taking Back Sunday was billed as a co-headliner on this particular evening, but perhaps the most anticipated set was that of Bad Brains. Given the health issues that varying members of the band have experienced over the last handful of years — most notably frontman H.R.’s recent brain surgery, there have been rumors circulating that this fortieth anniversary set might have been the DC punk scene pioneers last ever. If so, it was a hell of a way to go out!

Also featured on the second day of the three-day whirlwind in the sweltering heat were hometown boys The Lawrence Arms; Wu-Tang Clan, the Beastie Boys’ Mike D performing a DJ set, ska-punk pioneers Fishbone, English street punk veterans GBH, Australia’s The Smith Street Band, and Faith No More’s Mike Patton’s latest project, Dead Cross. Check out our full photo gallery of the festivities below, and stay tuned for day three (JAWBREAKER!!) tomorrow!



DS Exclusive: Sunny on The Causeway (Punk) Premieres Track from Upcoming EP

Everyone’s favorite acquitted double murderer has been freed from prison after a short stint for armed robbery, and in celebration of OJ Simpson’s release back into the general population (if you’ve been doing any shady deals in sports memorabilia, you’d better watch your back), NYC punk act Sunny on the  Causeway has dedicated a song from their upcoming EP Pop Singles Vol. 1. to him!

The track, “(We Get) Down Like OJ” marks the band’s fourth release from the impending album, and despite the macabre topic, is extremely catchy! Don’t believe us? Embrace the evil, below!

I would like to take a moment to apologize to all of you for even considering “The Juice Is Loose!” for the title of the post. But don’t worry, the band has you covered with their bandcamp page, where you can pick up this track for name-your-price!



DS Exclusive: Tim Barry talks “High On 95,” performing with the Richmond Symphony, and detaching from social media

It’s become redundant — and probably a sign of downright journalistic laziness — to refer to singer-songwriters like Tim Barry as being of the “heart on their sleeve” variety; the scene is not just full of them bit is outright defined by their presence. With the release of High On 95 last month, Barry has now amassed six studio full length albums (seven, if we’re including the Laurel Street Demos, which coincidentally now means that the Richmond, Virginia native has released more studio albums as a solo artist than he did in his past life as one of the scene’s most posthumously beloved bands) that truthfully don’t find him wearing his heart on his sleeve. Hell, just the idea of Tim Barry even sporting sleeves on his trademark, road-battered Conrail Twitty t-shirt in general seems almost laughable. Sure, as with his other albums, High on 95 contains it’s share of up-tempo, foot-stomping, front porch rockers, a few that take the piss out of himself and his surroundings, and of course a few introspective tales of frustration and catharsis. But if you’ve truly immersed yourself in Barry’s solo catalog, you’re no doubt aware that each album contains at least one track that your heart out of your chest and uses it to punch you directly in the midsection. As Rivanna Junction had “Exit Wounds,” Manchester had “South Hill”, 28th & Stonewall had “Walk 500 Miles,” 40 Miler had “Driver Pull,” and Lost & Rootless had “Solid Gone.”

Continuing on in that theme, High on 95 has it’s own such moment 9/10ths of the way in, on a track called “Running Never Tamed Me.” The weight of the song can perhaps best be told in an anecdote from Barry himself. Not one to normally listen to his own music, Barry was minivan-bound, sorting through mixes in the High On 95 recording process while taking his girls — Lela Jane, now 5, and Coralee, who’s soon-to-be three — to school. Generally a time reserved for singing children’s songs or fighting in the way only siblings can, one day in particular found the van eerily silent. “I realized,” says Barry, “that both of my kids were peering out their respective windows just fucking bawling while the song Running Never Tamed Mewas on, and I just thought “What have I done?!” Now, if you’ve not availed yourself of the album, and the song, yet, you should know in advance that it finds Barry channeling some of the most genuine and heart-wrenching feelings of regret and desperation he’s put on record to date. His daughters, it seemed, had noticed. “I had to pull over and hug them both and ask them what it was about this that made them feel this way. And we had to talk about it, and Lela, my oldest daughter, was hysterical about it. Coralee started loudly crying too. So we just sat on the grass for a second, and they just said that I sounded sad, and they don’t like hearing me sound sad.

While “Running Never Tamed Me” is not necessarily written with present-day Barry as the narrator and central character, the parallels are obvious. Pour through Barry’s catalog and you lose count of the times that a sort of directionless running and wanderlust factor highly among the recurring themes, no matter the album. Much of that is driven by a similarly recurring sense of seemingly not always knowing where he fits in to the world, in either a micro or a macro sense. Hell, his last album was called Lost & Rootless for a reason.

Yet perhaps more than ever before, what High On 95 also contains is a tone of what may be hope but what is probably more accurately described as contentment. Running, it seems, may not have tamed Barry, but maybe age and the wisdom that comes with it have at least helped rewire him. And no, that’s not just due to the obvious fact that he’s raising two daughters now. “I just don’t love being that far from home anymore,” says Barry. “I like to go camping, I like to get cabins in the woods, and I like that kind of stuff, but I don’t like riding on the back of a freight train with a backpack and never knowing where I’m going anymore. I don’t like being in Europe and not being able to check in at home and knowing that I have to take three flights to get back there. I don’t know what happened, I think it just comes with age.”

It’s not that Barry doesn’t have the same stressors or the same reasons to run now as he did in his younger years. Far from it, in fact. “There’s an element of stress constantly on my shoulders, like you have, like everyone has,” he explains, noting the weight in his situation as an individual trying to provide for a family as an independent, working musician. “Because money isn’t easy to come by in my position – or enough of it to sustain a family with the parameters of health insurance and all the other bills and all the other stuff that all of us have.” So what used to be a life of running — drifting, really — is now more of a life that contains periodic, temporary breaks, ways to step back and process life and hit the proverbial reset button on his brain — just not the literal button on his cell phone. Technology has obviously woven its way into the most minute details of most of our lives, but it brings with it a particular set of challenges when you rely on it to put food on the table. “Technology is such a blessing but it’s really not healthy if used constantly. Especially for someone like me who’s trying to provide for a family by doing music which makes me a businessperson or my own boss, which is kind of incredible but it’s also just weird and it’s nothing that I intended on doing.  – it becomes an obsession to check your fucking email! Check your email, check your socials! It’s this false urgency that induces this incredible stress that’s really completely irrelevant!” He adds, rather poignantly, something that most of us raising children in 2017 have struggled with: “Before you know it, your kids aren’t going to give a flying shit about you again, so am I going to miss this beautiful moment of my two-year-old sitting on my lap eating her butter pasta because I’m lurking on Instagram?! Really?!

Still, it was through particularly well-timed call on his cell phone that Barry was presented with an offer to participate in one of the more unique experiences of his professional career: his recent performance with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra at the legendary Carpenter Theater, right in his own hometown. Because the story is so perfectly “Tim Barry,” it’s better off if he just tells it: “I was in the dressing room in Garwood, New Jersey, with Brian Fallon, getting ready to play a show during a series that he was holding where he was playing small club shows for a week. So we’re sitting in the dressing room and I get a phone call from the Executive Director of the Symphony, and he invites me to play with the full symphony backing me, and I almost kind of choked and laughed at how absurd it was. I think I got off the phone and Brian inquired who it was, and he said “what are you going to do?”. And I said “I’m not going to do it – fuck that, that’s crazy! I’m not talented enough!” And he was like – to paraphrase –  he said “if you go on stage tonight and talk about challenging yourself and scaring yourself and doing things out of the ordinary, then I’m going to call you on it!” So, I consented to doing a show with the Richmond Symphony that night, right after that.”

Even though Barry hammers away at an acoustic guitar night in and night out on the road, he is punk rock ethos personified, creating some interesting issues when translating things for the different environment. If we can peel back the curtain a little bit, a lot of the time that you hear Barry (or any rock musician, really) engage in stage banter or play a few seemingly random between-song chords, there’s usually a reason for that: radio silence. “Growing up in punk, the worst thing you can ever do at a house show or a small club show or a squat or whatever is have radio silence. So instinctively, the second you finish, the guitar player hits feedback or the singer starts babbling or the drummer hits the cymbals. There’s nothing worse than a song ending and everybody going “Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.” I instinctively finish songs and hit an open note and then take a sip of water, and then hit an open note and maybe say some stuff, and then hit an open note!

Take a song like “Church of Level Track,” for example. The song has long been a staple — and a crowd favorite — in a typical Tim Barry live set. “(The song) starts “I was drunk as hell with a friend way back…” and to get the key, so I don’t just start signing in the wrong key, I hit a C chord, which is the first chord of the song (and let it ring) and then whenever the fuck I feel like it, I’d say “I was drunk as hell…” Barry explains. But in an arena like the symphony, which is predicated on military-like precision and all things being properly, meticulously graphed and charted, there’s no room for a random chord to help you find a pitch. He continues: “In her sheet music, the song starts with me singing on the first note, that C chord. So she’s standing in front of a million players and she hears me (*briiiing*) which is just me playing the key, and she starts to count there, and the whole fucking song is completely off. And they’re all just like “what the fuck???We had to meet in the middle, we had to make compromises. I was like “Chia-Hsuan, look, I can’t sing this fucking song without hitting that chord!

When all was said and done, Barry worked with the director and the conductor of the Richmond Symphony to pull together a small batch of songs that kicked off a showcase that found the RSO backing a handful of Richmond-based musicians in a variety of genres. While the other artists may have found the event to be noteworthy for good reason, you’d be hard-pressed to find one that it left such a personal mark on. “For years, I worked for this symphony unloading their trucks and setting stuff up, and I worked for the Richmond Ballet driving their trucks and unloading them setting stuff up and for IATSE Union 87 doing the same sort of thing,” says Barry. And while it might be easy to get wrapped up in the whirlwind of the performance, Barry was able to find a way to step back and absorb all that was going on.

I did the song “Exit Wounds” and when I play it live at club shows, I end it before this big musical break, because that would be boring and redundant for me to play on an acoustic guitar,” he explains. “So I think that was one of my favorite parts of the symphony show when we included that. I just stepped off to stage right as far as I could and let Chia-Hsuan Lin who’s the conductor just fucking handle it. She was like “I’m going to be paying attention to your timing” and I said “no, I’m just going to play as quietly as I can. I want you to blow this fucking place out. Get loud!” And she did! I could see that she gave me a little smirk in the middle of it.” If there’s a moment that more perfectly encompasses the entirety of the Tim Barry Experience, of standing back and absorbing the gravity of an overwhelming situation that came from a period of self-doubt and personal challenge to a moment of triumph and appreciating all that you have when you have it, it simply hasn’t been written yet.

High On 95 came out on September 8th through Chunksaah Records. Head over here to grab your copy of the album. While you’re at it, head here to see where you can catch Tim on his upcoming tour dates, including a handful with the likes of Roger Harvey and Off With Their Heads. Check out our full, wide-open and far-ranging interview below.



Video Premiere: Lay It On The Line (Melodic Hardcore, UK) “120 Days”

Dying Scene is premiering the new video, “120 Days”, from South London, UK melodic hardcore quintet Lay It On The Line.  The track is from the band’s recent debut album “The Black Museum”, out on UK punk label Disconnect, Disconnect Records. The track and the accompanying, black and white video is vocalist Alice’s ode to the Marquis de Sade’s disturbing book “120 Days of Sodom”.

You can watch the video exclusively below – and read an accompanying statement about the track. The band play Might As Well Fest III in London next month. 



Video Premiere: Wicked Bears (SLC Pop Punk) “2049”

Dying Scene is proud to premiere the brand new lyric video for “2049,” the first single from Wicked Bears‘ forthcoming album Tuning Out. It features flying cars, satellites, and lots of words (because it’s a lyric video).

Fans of Masked Intruder, Teenage Bottlerocket and the like will eat this up. Take a look below! Tuning Out is slated to be released October 13th via Hidden Home Records.