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Thursday, May 22, 2008

How Did YOU Get Punk'd?

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Hives bassist Matt Destruction with Tearjerkers drummer John Bubba Bonds

Last week, I saw Sweden's garage rock sensations, The Hives, courtesy of one of my favorite bands, my friends, Jack Oblivian and the Tennessee Tearjerkers.

Hanging out with Tearjerkers drummer, John Bubba Bonds I had a chance to talk music with his pal, Hives bassist, Matt Destruction. When I gave Matt my business card - which bears my portrait of Stiv Bators that was on the back cover of Disconnected, Matt waxed philosophically about punk rock and how much the Dead Boys album, Young Loud and Snotty affected him.

Granted, the Dead Boys punk'd a lot of people. They were one of the pioneers of punk rock, morphing into the Dead Boys from the already-notorious Frankenstein while still living in their native Northeastern Ohio.

Guys like Cheetah Chrome (who together with Frankenstein bandmate, the future frontman of Pere Ubu, David Thomas, Cheetah wrote Sonic Reducer) and Jimmy Zero (pictured) on guitar, whose styles were worlds apart (one hard, the other pop) came together to create a unique musical signature. Thirty years and change after Young Loud and Snotty was released, its great to hear that it influenced future musicians half way around the world.

It inspires me to throw out there the question of who or what got you punk'd? For me , it was Patti Smith who was on my radar because a local hero from my neck of the woods, Jay Dee Daugherty, of the Mumps (which originated in Lance Loud and Kristian Hoffman's high school art class) was lured away from the Mumps to join Patti Smith... and then John Cale produced Horses and that pretty much changed my world. Of course, Cale's participation in The Velvet Underground had already sowed the seeds in me that would grow a love for lo-fi music centering on dark-side themes.

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The Cramps

And thanks to Kristian Hoffman, I came to know The Cramps, whose music is both lo-fi and darkly themed while being completely artsy.

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Kristian Hoffman and Lance Loud - MUMPS!

However, with the 80's came "New Wave" and a musical approach more polished, pop and slick than I cared to listen to on a regular basis. My polished, pop and slick quota had been fulfilled by the likes of Jeff Lynne and ELO while I still liked them (pre-punk rock) and of course by The Beatles and George Martin's deft hand at orchestration. While the 80s provided a dark-side psych landscape for me to find musical pleasure (ie: Echo & the Bunnymen and pictured Julian Cope of The Teardrop Explodes), there was a distinct lack of exciting music for my ears during that decade.

The 80s found me relying on my old and new psych records for enjoyment and a rediscovery of the early days of rock n roll (that would be The King, Elvis. Elvis Presley) which of course everyone knows really blossomed in Memphis, Tennessee at Sun Studios with Sam Phillips and Cowboy Jack Clement, The Killer Jerry Lee Lewis and The King. So there was no doubt that the birthplace of rock n roll would be for me the re-birth place of punk rock in the 90s - Memphis.

I'm talking about the Oblivians. Greg, Eric and Jack Oblivian have all continued to influence rock n roll and they turn heads and ears towards Memphis... Back in the 90s, when I thought punk was dead, the Oblivians brought a very welcome dose of lo-fi fury and a postmodern, eclectic mashing up of genres to the playing field... a kind of simultaneous homage and influencing, just like X used to do with John Doe's and Billy Zoom's penchant for American roots music.

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Howlin' Pelle Almqvist of the Hives and Jack Oblivian

Those young men from Sweden, The Hives, were completely enchanted and influenced by The Oblivians. The Hives brand of rock n roll comes through a filter of the 60s with touches of the Stooges and swagger of the Rolling Stones and the 90s with covers of songs originating with the Compulsive Gamblers and a general overall tip of the hat to certain Oblivians stylings. The Hives prove what great fans of punk rock they are - their appreciation is shown in their music and in their choice of opening bands... Matt Destruction and Pelle both told me the bands they asked to open for them were the bands they yearned to see play. That's pretty damn cool if you ask me.

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