IT'S A LIVING... BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #10.3
J Church / Honey Bear Records Newsletter
Late Spring 2002 - Was It Polemically Sent?

 

MORE SOLID STORM THE TOWER DATES

Storm The Tower are hittin' the road soon. Hopefully I'll have their 7" done in time for the tour. I'll be sending them out with some other Honey Bear Records stuff to sell. Any ideas?

Here are the latest tour dates. See them or miss out in a big way.

5/23: austin, tx @ james nunez's house w/ the oath
5/24: ft worth, tx w/ ...of death
5/25: memphis, tn @ diy memphis
5/26: nashville, tn @ septic tank
5/27: asheville, nc @ a park?
5/28: greensboro, nc @ ryan saulsbury's house
5/29: richmond, va @ hardcore holocaust warehouse
5/30: college park, md @ wmuc
5/31: philadelphia, pa @ funrama
6/01: nyc @ abc no rio
6/02: boston, ma @ ?
6/03: providence, ri
6/04: ? day off maybe
6/05: reading, pa @ bass|mint
6/06: pgh, pa @ roboto
6/07: ann arbor, mi @ michael h topper's house w/ bg and 40s of camo
6/08: columbus, oh @ legion of doom w/ bg, off minor, bbq, and weed
6/09: mnpls, mn w/ amdi petersens arme
6/10: chicago, il
6/11: ? maybe columbia, mo
6/12: st louis, mo
6/13: tulsa, ok
6/14: okc, ok
6/15: dallas, tx

 

NEW CD OF OLDER / OLD-NEW MATERIAL?

Yeah, it's looking less and less likely like we'll get it together to have a new album out this year. I'm busy all Summer. If we do manage to record it in the Fall (which is what we're hoping) it still won't materialize until next year. Probably… I don't know.

In the meantime, I'm putting out the first of maybe a few different CDs of unreleased material I've been meaning to get around to. Some of the songs are old demos that never got re-recorded. A lot of it is from singles that never actually materialized. There are also some newer things involving unfinished recordings that I went back and added guitar or vocals or bass or sometimes a combination of those things. It should come out at the beginning of the Fall and it will be called Palestine. Listening back over the recordings, I'm really pretty happy with it. Recordings range from 16 track to 4 track, which is sort of our zone. We get up into 24 tracks and things tend to go pear shaped.

Here's an interesting blurb you may have already seen if you get e-mail from AK Press. I think it's reason enough to call our next record Palestine.

Ariel Sharon in his own words...

"I don't know something called International Principles. I vow that I'll burn every Palestinian child (that) will be born in this area. The Palestinian woman and child is more dangerous than the man, because the Palestinian child's existence infers that generations will go on, but the man causes limited danger. I vow that if I was just an Israeli civilian and I met a Palestinian I would burn him and I would make him suffer before killing him. With one hit I've killed 750 Palestinians (in Rafah in 1956). I wanted to encourage my soldiers by raping Arabic girls as the Palestinian women is a slave for Jews, and we do whatever we want to her and nobody tells us what we shall do but we tell others what they shall do."

- Ariel Sharon, current Israeli Prime Minister, In an interview with General Ouze Merham, 1956

 

RADIOHEAD? A TRIBUTE? A BOOT?

I guess there is a big time bootleg floating around called Fake Plastic Creeps - A Tribute To Radiohead and our version of Creep is on it. I've never seen it, but would love to get a copy. I guess it also features Anthrax, Hazeldine, Tears For Fears, Duncan Sheik and Alanis Morissette. What the hell is the world coming to?

 

SUPPORT JELLO!

Please take the time to check this out.

And I find this a little more than upsetting…

 

WHEN GOOD BANDS GO BAD AND YOU FIND YOURSELF LIKING THEM

It happens all the time. Some people call it selling out. Some people think the band just ran out of ideas. Others think they've become self-indulgent. But really, there are a million reasons why most bands don't take the Ramones "arc" of challenging songwriting. This isn't really any attempt to explain why bands do it. It's not even a sociological analysis of punk rock bands having a mid-career artistic crisis. "Holy shit, we're just the Knack with different costumes!" Nope, I've got no answers. Maybe this is just a plea for understanding.

Yeah, I know. I used to be one of those guys. I used to be the angry rocker kid PISSED about The Game by Queen and the third LP in Sandinista. I was that guy. I felt fucked over.

When I was a kid, my family moved around a lot. I wasn't a military brat. But I could relate with parents that were basically nuts. By the time I turned 18 I had been through five different schools and lived in seven different towns. That may not be a lot to some people. But I did find it hard constantly having to make new friends. Blah, blah, blah… Same old sob story. But it really seemed like the whole fuckin' world was against me and the one thing I had were my bands. When they changed, it was like being deserted all over again. Sound stupid? You betcha.

But now I'm the old guy. Shit, I'm in no position to dictate to a band what to do in their creative process. I sure don't listen to what people tell me. If I went by that J Church poll I did a year ago, I'd have to put out an all-acoustic album next. Hmmm…

So, I don't think anyone can guess why bands suddenly decide to artistically rediscover themselves. Who even knows by most people bother to start bands? I'm constantly fascinated by musicians and their desire to play music no matter how mundane or pointless the endeavor. Maybe if I can find any sort of consensus I'll know why I keep playing music and for once in my life have some sort of direction. A plan even…

For a while, I found myself giving bands props for making a commercially suicidal change in direction. My life as a musician has unwittingly been based on that principle, so I need the company. Maybe you can relate. Maybe people relating to my consistent strategy of commercial suicide IS the principle my world is based on. Hmmmmm…

At the time of this strange revelation of forgiveness, I found myself saying things like "well, Metal Machine Music is probably bullshit no matter what anyone says. But, hey, I RESPECT Lou for doing it" or "You gotta give Bad Religion credit for trying something new with Into The Unknown though it does sound like the Steve Miller Band. Am I right? No?"

But after moving to Texas I found myself getting into an even stranger area. Maybe it was because I wasn't working at first and had way too much free time on my hands. I don't know. I found myself not only having new sympathies for these bands and their altruistic musical garbage, but actually finding some meaning and value to these once un-listenable records.

So, it's confession time now. Hmmmmmmmmmm…

I like the second and third Generation X albums. What can I say? Running With The Boss Sound is a great Mott the Hoople-ish rock song. Total anthem. Friday's Angels is great pop. Heaven's Inside is as good as anything on Polyvinyl today. I mean, I love Ready Steady Go. But I can't help but like the other records. And what the hell is wrong with Dancing With Myself? Nothing, that's what.

Oh, it hurts. But I really like the three albums by Eric Burden and the New Animals. Yeah, the most shamelessly idiotic lyrics and liner notes you'll ever see, I know. How can you title a song Yes, I Am Experienced? For shame, Eric Burden, for shame. Shit, it's such a cliché. But I really have found myself loving the band and therefore loving the tunes. Their version of Paint It Black might actually be inspired! I even dig San Francisco and get a little misty for my city by the bay when I hear it.

That's not good enough? How about this? You like the Jam? I do too. I love `em so much, I can totally understand how Paul Weller made the transition from that band to the Style Council. My Ever Changing Moods is as good as anything by the Jam. Ditto for Shout To The Top and Speak Like A Child. If you ever get a chance to see any of their videos, I recommend it. It shows how funny they were and how they weren't nearly as stoic as they seemed.

I've got you up against the ropes now. Time to finish you off. Not only do I really dig the Sabbath albums with Dio. I fucking LOVE the album with Ian Gillan. I'm not gonna deny that I love Sabbath AND Deep Purple equally. I do. So that album was like when Spider Man was helping out the X-men. Yeah, same thing. Zero The Hero is heavy as fuck and Trashed may actually be my favorite Sabbath song. Sad but true.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…

 

IN THE J CHURCH LISTENING ROOM

OMEGA TRIBE - Make Tea Not War CD

The much-anticipated retrospective CD of Omega Tribe is finally here and delivers in a big way. All of the beloved tracks from their EP and LP are collected in chronological order to give some idea as to the band's thought process and musical evolution. Also included is the original (and I think superior) version of Nature Wonder similar to how it appeared on the second Bullshit Detector compilation.

For those unfamiliar, let me backtrack a bit. Don't go searching under google as you'll only come up with the meathead alterna-rock-poseur band that for some reason adopted the same name. The real Omega Tribe were part of the late `70s / `80s anarcho punk scene in England. One of the most popular bands to come out of that scene, their records were know to chart well what with their upbeat melodic music separating them from much of that scene.

This compilation shows how quickly a band can develop in a supportive scene. From great, though rudimentary Ramones-like riffs to great washes of pop music with a variety of influences, the music on this record isn't as static as many other reissues of this type. In fact, a lot of it still seems really fresh, cliché as that may seem.
(Rugger Bugger Discs ­ PO Box 357 ­ London SE19 1AD ­ UK)

OZZY OSBOURNE - Blizzard Of Ozz CD

I'm not sure what to make of this to be honest. The original version of this is one of my favorite records of all time. You think you know me? You know nothing! I know a lot of people would like me to write this as if Blizzard were a guilty pleasure. It's not. I think this record is as fresh and as relevant as any punk record, any side of Exile On Main Street, any Velvet Underground record.

I liked Black Sabbath as a kid. My Aunt (who hung out with bikers during the `60s as a teen) gave me her copies of Black Sabbath and Masters Of Reality when I was in grade school. I dug it. I was a rock kid in a world of disco and pop music. But Sabbath were just one of many bands I was into.

Having said that, I didn't necessarily expect anything from Ozzy's first solo record when it came out. I was too young to have the kind of false importance I put on things like an artist's legacy and talent, etc. But the first time I heard Crazy Train I knew it was something else.

Maybe I'm just being nostalgic. I hope not. I really believe that this is a great pop record that happens to be augmented by my favorite guitar playing on any record since Hendrix. Not only are the solos incredibly accomplished, they are done with such vitality and verve that you feel yourself smiling along with Randy Rhoads as he tears down the fret board not in some self-gratifying show of strength and dexterity. But by using his uncanny abilities he finds his own path and is ecstatic in sharing the gift. It's beautiful and as great as Diary Of A Madman was it just never soared as high despite much higher production values.

This new CD is great. You can't deny the songs or the original performances. The only real drawback is that Ozzy couldn't get the original rhythm section to agree to release it. So his current band had to go into the studio and rerecord the tracks. It's a bit weird. The bass sounds especially new school metal. It does detract. But the rest of the mastering is fantastic bringing out some of the guitar playing that was originally lost in the mud of a relatively low budget recording.
(Epic Records)

SEA OF TOMBS - s/t LP

Are you one of those people that thought the worst thing about Blue Cheer were the vocals? I've got an album for you. Instrumental `70s rock as played by emo-esque philistines? Not really.

Number one myth about Sea Of Tombs ­ It's a "jam" band. No way. There are no raging full on solos. Nobody takes turns blasting through verses over and over. There's some sort of structure on each song. There are directions and angles and decisions being made. The loose nature of a lot of the guitar playing is too unassuming and unconscious to be thought of as solo work. In fact, it's so, I don't know, "relaxed" that if I didn't like it so much I would say he's either a bad guitar player or a lazy motherfucker. He's neither really. His style of playing complements the music making for a broad sound pastiche. The noodley guitar playing is in itself a drone pattern as viewed under a microscope. It's Can… Sort of…

Number two myth about Sea Of Tombs ­ It's "retro" bullshit. While this record is full of lengthy quotations of other artists and there are more than enough references to other things, to call it retro would imply that they were neo-ists. I really can't think of a time that there was music quite like this. Instrumental, fuzz rock with sustained guitar meanderings? As a sidetrack maybe but not as a band's singular direction.

I mean, this record isn't supposed to last or anything. It's a good solid diversion and a fun oddity to distract you from all the boring middle of the road punk rock and hardcore and it's dulling effect.
(Gravity Records)

 

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