IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #13.3
J Church und Honey Bear Newsletter ­ Fuck it's hot ­ Do The Icepick

 

NEW SONGS

We've got three new songs that will go towards the next album. It's the early stages, but the plan is to learn 18 to 20 and from the recordings, decide which 14 will be on the next record. Anyway, we probably won't learn anymore until we get back from Japan. The three new ones are called Bande A Part, Cosmonaut and New Ho Chi Minh City.

 

CRINGER VIDEO

Here's the track listing for the Cringer Live In Europe video I mentioned in the last newsletter. Again, it's a board recording with multi-camera editing from the Square in Harlow just outside of London. The full set includes Pay To Play, Petrograd, Cocktail Molotov, Despair Ends, Two Friends, Play, If I Had Your Pen…, Confession, Cottleston Pie, Hooked On Junk, Burn Down The Forrest, Sword, Signals. It's $10 ppd. and is a mail-order only item. It won't be in any stores.

 

REBUILDING MY J CHURCH LIBRARY

It's been several years and I'm still in the long process of recovering from the fire. I still haven't been able to replace half of the things I lost not to mention much of the Honey Bear Records stock. But I am at the point where I would like to at least begin thinking about replacing all of the J Church, Cringer and Cilantro stuff I'm missing. Anyway, if you've got spare copies of any of the following, I would really appreciate it.

CRINGER - Zen Flesh, Zen Bones original 7" (purple and beige cover, yellow vinyl, Vinyl Communications)
CRINGER - Tikki Tikki Tembo LP (Vinyl Communications)
CRINGER - Time For A Little Something original 7" (orange and beige cover, Vinyl Communications)
CRINGER - Karin original 7" (red vinyl, Lookout Records)
CRINGER - Rain 7" (Vinyl Communications)
CRINGER - Live In Europe 7" (Vinyl Communications)
CRINGER split EP w/ Holy Rollers (Shred of Dignity)
CRINGER split EP w/ Hopeful Monsters (Hippycore)
J CHURCH - Yellow, Blue and Green CDEP (Allied Recordings)
J CHURCH - Amarillo, Azul Y Verde 7" (Munster Records)
J CHURCH bonus live giveaway 7" from Prophylaxis LP
J CHURCH - Alone At Night original 7" (red, black and white cover with fold over, Honey Bear)
J CHURCH - No One Has A Future 7" (colored vinyl, Damaged Goods)
J CHURCH - Turn To Stone CDEP (Damaged Goods)
J CHURCH - Tide Of Fate 10" (Damaged Goods)
J CHURCH - Precession of Simulacra 10" (Jade Tree)
J CHURCH - Travels In Hyper-Reality 10" (Panic/Helter Skelter)
J CHURCH - Altamont `99 CD (Au Go Go)
CILANTRO - Empty Soda Can 7"

I'm not really expecting anything. Just some wishful thinking…

 

2004 "SOCIETE EST UNE FLEUR CARNIVORE" EUROPEAN TOUR DIARY PT. 1

NOVEMBER 12th ­ ARRIVAL
Lots of apprehension as we show up at Austin Bergstrom in the wee hours. My old friend Chris from Travis Cut has dropped the ball on sorting out our work papers. Historically, we're not the luckiest band when it comes to border crossing.

We encounter our first problem in Chicago. It turns out that in the last minute booking of our flights, David is on a different plane and wont be touching down in London until the following day. Dave's a good guy. He's our pal. But if I had to choose one member to travel on their own through immigration and customs, he would be my last choice by a mile.

10:30 PM London Time. Ben, Chris and I whiz past immigration and customs. After an £80 ride with a racist taxi driver, we are at Sean and Ben's flat in South London. Some gossip, some power pop, The Office Christmas Special… Next thing I know its morning and we're making our way to the Gypsy Rose Café for bean on bubble and squeak. We spend most of the day watching Arsenal smack Tottenham in the highest scoring match I'd ever seen. Expecting a call from David at any moment, we instead get a call from Graham who runs our website. He got a call from immigration saying they had detained David and were not sure about letting him through. Aside from this being a huge problem for David, all immigration would have to do would be Google "J Church Tour", find our first show and deport us all. Young bands, never underestimate how dangerous it can be crossing borders with a load of gear and merch and no papers. After a few hours of nail biting, we get the call: David is through.

NOVEMBER 14th ­ EXETER (Cavern)
We meet our first driver, Eike, in the morning. She's tired from driving to London from Germany or somewhere. She seems pretty cool. We've had some bad luck with drivers in the past. I bit a guy once for trying to strangle me, but that's another story. Anyway, Eike seems pretty nice. She's from the clan in Hamburg that I hold near and dear to my heart.

Sunday night in Exeter and this gig is a quaint affair. It's just as well as we're fighting with the rental gear and jet lag. This is the first of a couple of gigs with Reno Divorce. I'd never heard of `em. But they were nice guys. They do that Social D meets Rocket meets Rev. Horton Heat meets neck tattoos kind of thing. Their cover of Ace of Spades led us all to write The Joker in Sharpie on our hands as not to forget. "Toilet Paper, Milk, The Joker…" Exeter is Annalise country, so I got a copy of the new recording, which is amazing as usual.

NOVEMBER 15th ­ LEEDS (Packhorse)
We are live at Leeds so we had to do Parkas and Flags. Montreal's Sainte Catherines played tonight and is even more powerful than the last time. This gig was set up by The Collective as Becky and Dave Crackle don't do gigs anymore. In fact, they don't even make it to the gig as it seems they have a baby on the way. As Sean says, "Dave did a fuck."

NOVEMBER 16th ­ LONDON (Brixton Windmill)
London is usually a lot of fun but mostly because there are a lot of people I want to hang out with here. The gigs, I dunno, it's like any big city that sees too many bands. It's a lot of jaded sound guys and half-assed promoters. The Windmill is tiny. But people are up for it and we get to see some old friends. The sound is rubbish. This time it might be us still not really getting along with our rented gear. This is our second and last gig with Reno Divorce. Last we see of them, they are wandering off into the night with a big bag of mushrooms.

At the gig we find out that there are no work papers. Not sure what happened with Chris who was meant to sort them out. The result is we have to cancel the next two days in Ireland and Northern Ireland. With the trouble Dave's already been in, we can't risk leaving and re-entering England without papers. It sucks to miss those gigs. But there are worse things than having two days off in London. In fact, by not paying for the Ferry or work papers we wound up saving a few hundred pounds. Still, I would have wanted to spend it if it meant getting to play in Belfast again.

NOVEMBER 17th ­ OFF
Went and visited everyone down at Rough Trade on Talbot. I spent the rest of the day shopping for records, most of my time and money dedicated to Record and Tape Exchange. God, I miss living in a city with loads of great record shops. I hate Ebay more and more every day.

NOVEMBER 18th ­ OFF
Christy Colcort showed up today! I hadn't seen her in years. Got to meet her new guy, James, who seems cool. We caught up on some gossip and the potential death of the video store she part owns that I worked at. It's the end of days for video stores and record shops. Don't know what I'm going to do with myself.

Everyone is off on their own devices. Ben and Eike are doing what often happens in these situations. They're drug buddies at the moment so with all this down time they become make-out buddies too. She's cool. I think he's the only unattached member of the band. There's really nothing else to do at the moment.

NOVEMBER 19th ­ LIVERPOOL (Heaven And Hell)
Back on the road, we bring our sloppy little music and fruit stand to "scary" Liverpool. Seems like every other band gets their gear stolen here. But I've really only had the nicest times. It's cold and wet but I like that. I like the subterranean feel of the clubs and the bad cuisine.

The gig is sort of so-so no fault of the promoters. It sounds like it wasn't confirmed until the last minute and they weren't able to do any real advertising. I guess our pal Chris did a pretty half assed job on this tour. Now I remember him sending a fax to Sean saying something like "I'm fucked off with this."

At any rate, the gig is fun if not only for the opening bands that are a lot of fun. The Unhealthy play some classic `80s thrash. Flamingo 50 are totally fantastic. Three-piece power pop, a spastic guitarist with a great, unusual voice fronts the band with a natural feel for melody. I can't believe I had never heard of them.

NOVEMBER 20th ­ HIGH WYCOMBE (Roundabout)
I never really found out why we skipped Manchester and Glasgow on this trip. Seems a shame as I love those cities and I don't remember ever having bad nights there. Instead it's down to High Wycombe for a fun but tiny little gig. We were back with Sainte Catherines here as well as some new Crackle band and Mac from Travis Cut's new thing.

Spent most of the late night hanging out with the French Canadians listening to Billy Joel and Ice T's Body Count.

NOVEMBER 21st ­ LEICESTER (Charlotte)
This one was a bona fide dud. It's our second time here the last time being around 1996 with Philly's F.O.D. Tonight it was ripping through the set to an empty room. The few that were there were into it, so we actually tore into one of our best, energetic sets. It's funny how we play considerably better in the face of adversity. Normal shows? We turn into automatons. Fifteen kids show up? We're actually pretty good.

NOVEMBER 22nd ­ BRIGHTON (Free Butt)
Actually, the gig got moved to somewhere that wasn't the Free Butt. Some place over a pub that I don't remember the name of.

Brighton is a great town. I love the food and the boardwalk. Gigs are always cool here too. Tonight is no exception with a packed out tiny room. It was a happy way to end a stressful time in England.

We picked up Ingo, who booked the tour. He's going to take over most of the driving on the continent. He's a cool guy. He used to be in But Alive but now does tours for a lot of different bands including a lot of the No Idea groups. He's my age which is a relief.

 

IN THE J CHURCH LISTENING ROOM

CABARET VOLTAIRE - Live YMCA 27/10/79 LP

The so-called industrial scene always fascinated me. Reading about the wild confrontational gigs, the mysterious manifestos and philosophies of the different groups, seeing the often minimal imagery, it was very appealing in the way someone like Gang of Four was appealing even before you heard them. But most of that world didn't do much for me once I'd listened to it. Rather than finding something avant-garde, it often sounded either like simple noise and feedback later over-analyzed or rudimentary, non-commercial new wave which at the time seemed like the complete humiliation of all that was good about punk rock. Only three groups made a real impact for me: SPK, Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire.

Cabaret Voltaire was the least important to me. Maybe it was because they were from Sheffield so it was harder to find info about them. Maybe it's because they didn't have the same sort of communiqués as the other two. I don't know. Maybe it just seemed ridiculous for a bunch of ex-punks to name their group for the birthplace of Da Da.

Once I did begin to explore them, I loved everything I heard. This live album, their second full length, captures everything that seemed urgent about them. The bootleg quality seemed to make it more exciting. The band goes from hypnotic beats to full on charges to wall of noise breakdowns without transition. The mixture of loops and sound collages come together best in the final track Baader Meinhoff, a tribute to the RAF founding members. The live version of Nag Nag Nag is taken beyond any pop format while working within the parameters of the original single from `79. There's also a Velvet's cover though you'd never know it. This record is as important as Mix-Up and the early singles in deciphering the band's philosophy.
(Rough Trade)

 

PRIMITIVE CALCULATORS - s/t LP + 7"

If you're lucky enough to come across this vinyl, grab it up. It sort of came in under the radar a few years back and now it's impossible to find. Stuart, David, Denise and Frank from Australia were mad, making a beautiful noise very reminiscent of the first few albums from the Ex. With a blast of atonal guitars and hyper, though non-hardcore, speeds, these folks inadvertently rendered groups like Dawson and God Is My Co-Pilot a lot less relevant than we thought. The limited production values give this whole undertaking a strange garage feel. When I say that I mean like they were working like DIY scientists in the garage coming up with something outside of nature. The song titles suggest that they may have even aspired to new wave glory. Do The Icepick, I Can't Stop It. If that's the case; we have another happy accident not unlike the first Raincoats LP or the first Flying Spiders album.

The accompanying 7" is actually a much better recording though without surrendering the raw power. The main benefit is that the fantastic vocals become a much more important element adding another dimension to these unknown heroes and heroines of skronk and droll.
(A Slow Drama)

 

PUDDLE, THE - Live At The Teddy Bear Club LP

The Puddle is one of the great, lost punky bands from New Zealand. I never would have heard this if a couple of the folks at Flying Nun hadn't forced me to buy it when I was visiting them years ago. Nine songs recorded live in less than perfect situations, it's great. I've always loved the philosophy behind the four track recordings that Flying Nun used to get behind. It was almost like documentary filmmaking. You just need to get the information out there in whatever format you can. The drums bleed like crazy. The vocals merely suggest the melody. Ambient noise can often be a lead instrument. These aren't the engineers you expect to see profiled in Tape Op.

But it's great and this live record is the confirmation of a lot of that. The Puddle for the most part wrote catchy pop punk songs much in the vein of the first few singles by the Clean. But their approach was even looser owing something probably to Jonathan Richman or at least the Television Personalities and the Pastels. Live, it's either gonna come across as beautiful pop music as is the case on "Monogamy" and "Give Me All Of Your Clothes" or it's gonna become another kind of animal with the melody de-emphasized in trade for fastness. It's not really that fast or furious. But they're sure trying to get there. It's fun and personal and it's like a bootleg that is really trying and you can't help but cheer for it.
(Flying Nun Records)

 

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