The Germs (w/ guest Charlotte Caffey of the GoGo's)
The Germs were a classic American punk rock band formed in 1977, disbanded in 1980. Their fast spit-and-blood hardcore punk sound mixed with singer Darby Crash's (real name Jan Paul Beahm) highly literate and dark poetic lyrics made them, to many, one of the most distinctive bands in the entire punk scene. The Germs are still remembered by fans as being among the best in the genre. They disbanded when Crash, after long bouts with drug addiction and self-destructive behavior, committed suicide at age 22 on December 7, 1980. The Germs' 1977 single, Forming/Sexboy (live), is generally regarded as the first punk record from Los Angeles, CA.
The band started when Jan Paul Beahm and Georg Ruthenberg decided they should start a band after being kicked out of University High for antisocial behaviour, allegedly for using 'mind control' on fellow students. They named themselves "Sophistifuck & The Revlon Spam Queens," with Beahm (then 'Bobby Pyn,' and later Darby Crash) on vocals, Ruthenberg (then and later called Pat Smear) on guitar, an early member called Dinky on bass, and Michelle Baer playing drums. This lineup never played live.
In April '77 the band featured its final bassist, Lorna Doom, with transitional member Dottie Danger on drums, later famous under her own name as Belinda Carlisle of The Go-Go's (Carlisle never played live, due to her being sidelined by a bout of mononucleosis for an extended period, although she can be heard introducing the band on the Live At The Whiskey recording), and was soon replaced by Donna Rhia, who played three gigs and recorded their first single. Nicky Beat, of various noteworthy LA bands, then sat in for a time.
Despite drawing on musical influences including Iggy Pop, Suzi Quatro, The Runaways, and New York Dolls, the Germs began as an objectively pathetic musical outfit. The first single, Forming, was recorded on a Sony 2-track in Pat's garage and arrived back from the pressing plant with the note, "Warning: This record causes ear cancer" printed on the sleeve by the plant staff, much to the band's displeasure. It featured a muddy live recording of Sexboy on the B side, recorded at the Roxy for the Cheech and Chong movie, Up In Smoke, — although the song was not featured in the movie. Neither was the band, the only one not to be called back to perform live in the "battle of the bands" sequence, mostly due to the fact that the Germs' anarchic performance included a full-on food fight.
The Germs, despite all expectations, slowly developed a sound that was extremely aggressive, hyper-competent, and highly influential — although throughout their career, they would have a reputation as a chaotic live band. Singer Darby Crash often arrived onstage nearly incoherent from drugs, singing everywhere but into the microphone and taunting the audience between songs. The other band members had similar problems, with many contemporary reviews citing collapses, incoherency, and drunken vomiting onstage.
The final drummer - Don Bolles - was, however, extremely technically adept, and the amateurish bass stylings of Lorna Doom became, through rehearsal, an undeniably tight, complex counterpoint. Smear was revealed as a remarkably talented and fluid player, while the songwriting began to be cited as art and poetry. The canonical lineup of the band was often accused of willfully skirting the boundary between genius and disaster. Crash's vocals had begun to mold themselves around the style of The Screamers' vocalist Tomata DuPlenty (The Screamers, a huge LA live attraction at the time, never released a record, but covered the Germs song, 'Sex Boy,' at live shows, recordings of which are now widely available on bootleg.)
The Germs recorded two singles (with alternate tracks), an album-length demo session, and one full-length LP, (GI), each more focused and powerful than the last. Crash was, despite his erratic behavior, generally regarded as a brilliant lyricist (a contemporary critic described him as "ransacking the dictionary"), and the final lineup of Smear, Doom, and Bolles had become a world-class rock ensemble by the recording of (GI), turning in a performance that spurred an LA Weekly reviewer to write, "This album leaves exit wounds." It is considered one of the first hardcore punk records, and has a near-mythic status among alternative rock fans.
The album was produced by Joan Jett of The Runaways. Some European copies of the album also credit Darby's friend, Donny Rose, on keyboards (the song, "Shut Down," was recorded live in the studio, and has a track of amelodic, two-fisted piano).
The Germs are featured in Penelope Spheeris's documentary film The Decline of Western Civilization along with X, Black Flag, Alice Bag Band and Catholic Discipline.
Following the release of their solo studio album, (GI), The Germs recorded six original songs with legendary producer Jack Nitzsche for the soundtrack to the film, Cruising, starring Al Pacino as an undercover cop looking for a murderer in New York's homosexual underground nightclubs. Only the song, "Lion's Share," ended up on the Columbia soundtrack LP — it was featured for about a minute in the movie, during a video booth murder scene in an S&M club. Other songs from this session appeared on a contemporary punk compilation LP, Tooth and Nail, and the rest of the songs later surfaced on the CD "(MIA): The Complete Recordings."
Crash committed suicide in 1980, at age 22, for reasons unreported at the time. Beahme overdosed on heroin under a sign taped to the wall, reading, 'Here Lies Darby Crash.' His death was largely overshadowed by John Lennon's death the next day.
After the Germs ended Don Bolles played with several other seminal L.A. bands, including Nervous Gender and 45 Grave. Pat Smear went on to play with Nirvana and, after the death of Kurt Cobain, with the Foo Fighters.
In 1993, Slash Records released The Germs: Complete Anthology (MIA), with liner notes by the band's onetime manager Nicole Panter and friend, fan and L.A. scene icon Pleasant Gehman. The album cover is the Germs' traditional black background and blue circle.
A movie about The Germs, What We Do Is Secret, is in post production as of August 2005 with actors playing the band members and Jett.
Founded 34 years ago in Los Angeles during the first wave of LA punk rock by brothers Jeff and Steven McDonald (then respectively 15 and 11 years old), Redd Kross cut their teeth opening for Black Flag at a middle school graduation party. Their debut recordings caught the attention of Rodney Bingenheimer, who quickly became a fan as he spun their Ramones inspired songs like "Annette's Got The Hits" and "I Hate My School" on the world famous KROQ.
Their following releases maintained roots still firmly planted in punk, but the band started to experiment with different musical elements and band members. Redd Kross boldly broke new ground by intuitively and inventively mixing their eclectic inspirations in song and performance. They understand and embrace the esoteric commonalities between the Partridge Family and the Manson Family; the Beatles and Black Sabbath; The Osmonds and the New York Dolls. The result was a band that was ahead of their time – daringly original, artistic and uncontrived.
"Teen Babes from Monsanto", "Born Innocent" and "Neurotica" became precursors to the Seattle bands of the 90′s, as well as becoming an inspiration to many indie and alternative rock bands world wide.
"Neurotica was a life changer for me and for a lot of people in the Seattle music community."
- Jonathan Poneman, cofounder of Sub Pop.
"(Redd Kross) are definitely one of the most important bands in America."
- Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore
In 1990 the band released their major label debut, "Third Eye". Taking their obsession with late 60′s bubblegum am radio to a new level, the song writing matured with more complex arrangements, harmonies and lush production. Redd Kross had their first single chart "Annie's Gone"(#16 Billboard modern rock), and began to tour with notable artists such as Sonic Youth, The Go-Go's, The Posies, Jellyfish, The Lemonheads, and the HooDoo Gurus.
Robert Hecker took leave as lead guitarist and the McDonald brothers were joined by Eddie Kurdziel (guitar), Brian Reitzell (drums), and Gere Fennelly (keyboards). They released the critically acclaimed "Phaseshifter" album in 1993 featuring the hit songs "Jimmy's Fantasy", "Lady In The Front Row", and a raucous cover of Frightwig's "Crazy World".
Redd Kross toured relentlessly for the next several years, appearing on television sets across America performing on the John Stewart Show (pre Daily Show), Conan O'Brien, and the Tonight Show. The band began working their magic on UK festival stages such as Redding Festival and Finsbury Park, and did a US arena tour with The Stone Temple Pilots and Meat Puppets.
In 1997, Redd Kross released one of their most polished albums, "Show World" featuring the perfectly crafted pop single, "Mess Around". After supporting the album by touring with Sloan and the Presidents of the United States, the band went on a much needed hiatus. Fans wondered when they would return, and things seemed more uncertain after the untimely passing of guitarist Eddie Kurdziel in 1999.
The McDonald brothers launched www.ReddKross.com and began to reconnect with their fans and make new ones. They experimented with the new medium just as innovatively as they do with their music – Steven McDonald released an online only mashup album called "Redd Blood Cells" by adding bass tracks to the White Stripes album - with Jack White's consent, and was used by the Creative Commons Organization to explain how the CC license and the internet can unleash artistic creativity and collaboration, Jeff McDonald began podcasting ("Hit It!") before iPods or podcasts were invented, and also released a web based video series ("Bitchin' Ass") far ahead of YouTube.
Redd Kross reissued their classic "Neurotica" album as they worked on a variety of other projects including "Ze Malibu Kids", "The Steven McDonald Group", and worked in various capacities with other bands on stage and in the studio such as the Donnas, Turbonegro, Imperial Teen, Anna Waronker, be your own pet, fun., Sparks, Tenacious D, Beck and OFF!
In 2006, Jeff and Steven announced their reunion with the "classic Neurotica" line up – and were joined once again by guitarist Robert Hecker (IT's OK) and drummer Roy McDonald (the Muffs). Redd Kross have been playing to enthusiastic audiences at sold out select shows and festivals such as the Azkena Festival, Coachella, Dig It Up! (The HooDoo Gurus Invitational), NorthWest Music Fest, CBGB Festival, and Pop Montréal.
"Researching the Blues" is the highly anticipated new album. It is their first new album in 15 years and will be released on Merge Records August 7, 2012.
Adolescents from Fullurton, CA
Jello, Trace, Mike & Friends
Surviving members of White Flag
Sérgio Dias of Os Mutantes
When the members of the legendary "Tropicalia" band Os Mutantes took the stage before an audience of thousands at the Hollywood bowl a few years back, it seemed one of the greatest secrets in modern music was finally out. The seminal band whose ethereal absurdist pop music had inspired so many prominent musicians since their breakup decades before, were back. This time the world seemed ready. Now this influential band has reemerged with a brand new album entitled Haih or Amortecedor on Anti-records.
Those who have not heard the music of Os Mutantes have undoubtedly experienced their influence. During the band's absence, their records have been passed from musician to musician like cherished gifts, ever inspiring and altering the contemporary musical landscape. Kurt Cobain of Nirvana was tipped to the band by members of the band Red Kross. When Nirvana toured Brazil in 1993, Cobain tried desperately to arrange a meeting with Mutante bassist and singer Arnaldo Baptista. Unable to locate the musician he sent him the following note. "Arnaldo, best wishes to you, and be careful with the system. They swallow you up and spit you out like a maraschino cherry pit."
The Mutantes' cut-and-paste, sonic collage approach and their tendency for cultural irony, is an aesthetic now prevalent in modern music. The band has received praise from a growing list of luminaries including the Flaming Lips, David Byrne, Devendra Banhart and Of Montreal. But of any contemporary musician, it is Beck who appears their direct heir. For his part, Beck readily admits a longstanding admiration for the Mutantes, even dedicating his song "Tropicália" from the album Mutations to the band. As he explains, ''Hearing Os Mutantes for the first time was one of those revelatory moments you live for as a musician. When you find something that you have been wanting to hear for years but never thought existed. I made records like 'Odelay' because there was a certain sound and sensibility that I wanted to achieve, and it was eerie to find that they had already done it 30 years ago, in a totally shocking but beautiful and satisfying way. For years it was pretty much the only thing I listened to."
This admiration by fellow artists is something Mutante founder and singer/guitarist, Sérgio Dias, appreciates. "I think it is really beautiful how our sound caught on with newer generations through the songs of Beck and others," he explains. These kids were influenced by our music and started to talk to other kids and tell them. And then Beck made Mutations and he was so eloquent about that. I think it is a wonderful portrait of how things happen today."
Mutantes' unique otherworldly sound was forged in a time and place of turmoil. San Paulo Brazil of the early sixties was a city and nation under siege. The military had seized power and the authorities were coming down hard on anything resembling descent. It was amidst this precarious backdrop that, in 1964, two teenagers, Arnaldo Baptista and Rita Lee Jones met at a high school band contest. Inspired by a Revolver era Beatles, the two soon drafted Arnaldo's brother Sergio and formed what would become Os Mutantes.
Soon the band, along with other forward-looking musicians, writers and artists, were taking part in lively discussions that would eventually evolve into a culturally defining movement. With elements of political criticism, prankster humor and an eclectic range of musical styles, Tropicália was born. "In Brazil we were influenced by things like the Beatles and Picasso," Dias explains. "But we didn't know what the Beatles were singing about and we didn't know the history of Picasso. We were in the middle of a very bad situation and we were responding to all of this. We only had bits and pieces of everything and so we formed this image of what rock and roll was supposed to be. Our music is like a patchwork quilt made up of all these different pieces from different places. We put all these elements together and just let them cook in this witches brew and that became our sound."
It was during Tropicália's start that the Mutantes recorded their self-titled debut album. As students battled the police and military, the Mutantes recorded an ambitious album merging seductive Brazilian music with the new psychedelic pop of the Beatles and Beach Boys. The end result didn't so much take a direct political stand as offer a complete aesthetic rejection of the harsh reality surrounding them.
The ruling generals soon regarded the Mutantes as musical emissaries of an emerging counter culture steeped in sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, and the group's performances began to get raided. The Mutantes, for their part, seemed to delight in their role as cultural provocateurs: with Dias performing in a Napoleonic military uniform, his brother Baptista in a priest's cassock and singer Rita Lee appearing in a bridal gown. "Many people were being arrested by the government at that time," Dias explains. "So we fought back the only way that we knew. They would try to censor our lyrics. But instead of changing the words we would put all sorts of strange noises on top of them. I don't think they knew how much we were making fun of them."
By 1969, when the band's third album "A Divina Comédia ou Ando Meio Desiglado" was recorded, Brazil's political situation had only further deteriorated. A governmental edict called as AI 5 (Institutional Act 5) resulted in the persecution of intellectuals, artists and activists, the closing of the congress and countless arrests. The crack down was the beginning of the end for the Tropicália movement. Giberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, close friends of the Mutantes and two of the leading forces of Tropicalia, were arrested and exiled. Despite this the Mutantes had their biggest hit with the song "Ando Meio Desiglado". Propelled by a rocking Motown inspired bass line, the lyrics offered a forthright description of the effects of marijuana. On another song "Desculpe, Babe," Sérgio's voice was distorted through a rubber hose connected to a hot chocolate can with a tiny speaker inside, as he sung over melodic Beatlesque guitars.
While performing in Paris, the band recorded an album for Polydor UK. The record was intended to introduce the band to a broader western audience and featured many of their previously recorded songs sung in English. The masters from the session were subsequently lost and the album, "Technicolor," wouldn't resurface for nearly three decades. Singer Rita Lee soon left the band to pursue a solo career and eventually it was only leader Sérgio Dias, leading the band until they finally disbanded in 1978.
But in the band's absence, Mutantes' standing amongst the rock cognoscente only intensified. In 2000, the lost 1971 album "Technicolor" was located and released to a near euphoric critical response. In 2006 the band finally reunited and performed at London's Barbican Arts Center. This was followed by triumphant shows throughout North America and the Mutantes being awarded the Brazilian equivalent of a Grammy for best band. "Playing live with this band is so amazing," Dias says. "I can not describe anything better than maybe going into space. When we were playing at the Pitchfork Festival it was like looking at yourself when you were a kid trying to mumble the words to "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" in English and not understanding the words. There were hardly any Brazilians there but the kids were all singing our songs in Portuguese. It was really beautiful."
So this acclaimed band who inspired so much now prepares to release Haih or Amortecedor, their first new album in over three decades. On it Sergio Dias has collaborated with two of the founders of Tropicalia, renowned songwriter and multi instrumentalist Tom Ze and Jorge Ben who wrote the band's first hit Minha Menina. But don't expect anything like nostalgia from Haih or Amortecedor. The end result is a record that brilliantly updates the band's legendary "Tropicalia" sound, propelling it out of the sixties and into an uncharted but undeniably exotic future. As expected, the songs utilize a startling assortment of instrumentation, from austere violins to distorted metallic guitars and something called a crazy flute, lending an underlying theatrical power to their genre defying music. The song Bagdad Blues, with its tinkering old piano and seductive horns, conjures an otherworldly cabaret while Querida Querida is modern rock music unlike anything you've heard before."It would be awful to mimic something we had done when we were teenagers," Dias explains. "When we were making this album we were absolutely vigilant that the ideas were entirely fresh and I think we did a very good job. Everyone who has heard this album say it doesn't sound like Mutantes - but then it is also pure Mutantes. I really think it is a perfect vision of what Os Mutantes should sound like in the 21st century."
DJ Howie Pyro
Howie Pyro started DJing as a teenager at the Mudd Club in New York City in 1978. His emphasis is to make you dance uncontrollably to music that makes your head spin, which may sound familiar but then again put lots of happy question marks in the air. Howie has DJ'd for everyone from The Cramps to Christina Aguilera's 21st birthday party, huge Hollywood events, fashion shows and Santerian Priest inductions, and has played, written and/or performed with Danzig, Debbie Harry, Johnny Thunders, Ronnie Spector, Rancid, Joey Ramone, Genesis P. Orridge, Kid Congo Powers, and many more.