Our own Mat Weir is on the road with Band of Orcs and Gwar. Here’s the first installment of his tour diary.
AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY- PRE-TOUR, SEATTLE AND BEYOND.
by Mat Weir
While I’m sitting on Southwest Flight 3789 from San Jose to Seattle, the new morning sun is climbing over the hills, on its endless cycle. The sweet, psychedelic sound of Dead Meadow trips through my headphones as I silently type, reflecting on everything that led up to me working the “Madness At the Core of Time” tour, while I wait for my whiskey and coffee.
This is the first breakfast I’ll have before 10am in months. When Oog Skullbasher, the drummer for A Band of Orcs, approached me at the beginning of the year about working merch for them while on tour, a couple things crossed my mind: 1) He must be crazier than I thought if he wants to take me on the road again after the tour of 2011 and 2) It’s almost a year away, I’ll have plenty of time to think about it and get ready. HA! Oh be warned ye who tempt the gods of fate.
Yet after an already insane year, here I am, on my way to meet up in Seattle, with coffee and whiskey in hand, on 5 hours of sleep in the last 30. I will be working merchandise for A Band Of Orcs, along with documenting the tour via video and written media. We are doing 38 cities in 44 days, 22 states and 2 countries. There’s a total of 4 bands including thrash act, Iron Reagan, metalcore stars Whitechapel, and GWAR, the homicidal, alien metal musicians complete with their brand of blood, sex and gore. . . .
PORTLANDIA – JUNK FOOD HEAVEN, GUT ROT HELL
The Orcs’ usual load-in time has been 2:30, so we rested for a few hours, eating the catered breakfast provided by the Roseland Theater and Voodoo Donuts. Which, by the way, are as amazing as everyone says. Between the Froot Loop topped donuts, the caramel and Oreo cookie ones and the cock ‘n’ balls donut (give you a wild guess what it’s shaped like), there’s a cream-filled treat for everyone in the family. Oh yeah, I went there.
Rumor has it Voodoo also supplied the cream-filled, chocolate, weed cupcakes at the end of the night, but that is neither here nor there and I’ll get into that later. There was also a cake. . . .
The Roseland Theater itself is a premiere venue with a capacity of 1410. Much like the Filmore, its walls are adorned with pictures of a smorgasbord of artists who have played the stage from Frank Zappa to Prince and, of course, GWAR. They have a built-in restaurant where they fed us menu courses like bacon mac ‘n’ cheese, burgers and mile-high sandwiches. The cheese tortellini with mushroom cream sauce was definitely the best food I’ve had on tour so far. It was even better scarfing it down at the merch table 10 minutes before doors opened.
With a presale of 950 tickets and an eventual 1243 total, the Portland audience was ready for a legendary concert and the bands did not disappoint.
A Band of Orcs shuffled out and blew through their set with an energy that riled up the newly-arrived crowd. Immediately when they began the set, a circle pit opened up and kids began thrashing about with an intensity that didn’t break until the Orcs were done.
After Iron Reagan and Whitechapel brought the crowd to a whole new level of chaos, it was almost time for GWAR. I was sitting behind the merch table when Jesse walked up to me with a professional-looking, chocolate cupcake in each
“Here,” he said with a suspicious grin, “It’s a special cupcake from Oderus (GWAR lead singer).” Not thinking twice, I unpealed the foil from the stump and bit in.
“Oh shit, they really are special.” I replied tasting that familiar spice of THC. And special they were. Within the hour, Jesse, Oog, Gogog and myself were watching the spectacular show of lights, blood, crass humor and ridiculously offensive alien costumes on stage; laughing our asses off at the blood-soaked crowd slipping on the floor and making fun of/with the fans in a good-humored way.
HOLLYWEIRD AND THE PLASTIC PEOPLE OF SUNSET.
Growing up in Southern California, you have no idea just how different it is, not only from the rest of the country, but even from the rest of the state as well. At least my friends and I didn’t, or if we did, we were too busy getting into trouble and trying to numb our brains to think about it. We grew up going to Hollywood on a weekly basis, driving past the prostitutes lit under the neon of the clubs and billboards. A town that promises anything you want with no repercussions, your dreams in your hand, as long as you sign on the dotted line and sell that soul. Don’t worry baby, you’re in good hands with us. We’ll take you up that rollercoaster of life and it will be all downhill, smooth sailing from here until you’re all used up and we can’t make that golden green off you. Shit, they’ll even suck the money out of your corpse, just look at Tupac.
So if you finally move away from the Mecca of SoCal and live life with a different view, you can infiltrate the city in a new way. You know how to maneuver your way around a conversation better than a regular outsider, because you understand the other person’s mindset, sometimes better. It’s a skill that came in handy when we needed to move the trailer and find someplace the park the behemoth on the Strip on a Friday night.
For those who didn’t grow up in LaLa land or have never been to the House of Blues on Sunset, it’s an amazing venue to see a show. The sound is impeccable, the food is great and if you don’t mind rubbing some elbows, the view is excellent. Plus, it’s Hollywood, so EVERYONE plays there. Playing there, however, is another story entirely.
The club is on the edge of Sunset, right on the side of a massively steep hill and the side street ends for 2-way traffic abruptly after the club. We had pulled in early since we were carrying the GWAR guys and parked downhill from the venue. Thirty minutes later, we were told the club didn’t have any available parking for us and we were on our own. They advised us to ask the hotel next door if we could use their free space.
Another problem with the venue is that their insurance won’t allow their load crew to take anything if it’s outside the property line for liability reasons. The next 20 minutes were spent by the band, Jesse and I stacking cases and riding them up the street and slowly down the hill, all hands on deck. With only a few minor falls and multiple strings of cursing, we got the equipment to the main hall where I departed from the band so they could set up the stage and I could set up the merchandise next to Iron Reagan.
The Orcs’ set went off without a hitch and the House of Blues’ sound was crispin’ like Glover. For my money, it’s been the best sound on tour so far. And holy Jebus, was it packed.
As soon as their set started, a decent size pit opened up and didn’t quit. As it goes in tinsel town, people show up fashionably late, and hour by hour hordes of drunk and crazed fans piled in, screaming, “Ggggwwwwaaarrrrr!!!” at the top of their lungs.
Of course, the Industry was in full force. Reps from Nuclear Blast and Brian Slagel, founder of Metal Blade Records, showed up and word began spreading about a “buzz” around the Orcs. Gwar is the perfect band for the Orcs to open for. Not only do they share elaborate stage shows, but the styles of metal are similar as well with heavy death and classic influences. Every night more and more people approach the merch booth, telling me they had never heard of the band before that night and can they please have a cd or t-shirt.
The music industry isn’t the only one in LaLa land and soon enough a group of Vivid Entertainment girls, all primped and looking as “LA hot” as possible. And in this town, there’s a lot of competition. Even Jessie Lee, the seductive siren from Burning Angel entertainment and star of such classic, punk porn cinema as “Cum on my Tattoo 4” and “Friends Don’t Let Friends Fuck Alone,” was rocking out and later fed into GWAR’s Meat Grinder like a champ along with several of the other girls.
It was a whirlwind of a night complete with fights, 4 fire engines out front (nobody knew why), pissed off cab drivers yelling at our RV for taking their spot (apparently one of them kept yelling “Fuck you, weirdo!” at Gogog which has now become the new insult on tour) and more familiar faces packing into the crowd.
It was when we were unwinding in the back of the RV that I heard Cretos yell, “Fuck!!” at the top of his lungs. I jerked out of my sleepless daze and asked what happened, thinking there would be blood.
“Look at this!” he said passing me the laptop.
It took my eyes a few seconds to realize what I was staring at. Lemmy had posted a picture in front of the Rainbow Room, right at the time we decided not to go check it out. That night there was a free listening party of the new Motorhead album for anyone who wanted to check it out, complete with the man himself. The metal gods had given us the opportunity and we wasted it like the mortals we are. Moral of the story: now or never.
VISIT WEIRDJOURNALISM.COM FOR FULL VERSIONS OF THESE STORIES AND MORE FROM THE “MADNESS AT THE CORE OF TIME TOUR!” or CHECK OUT THE VIDEOS AT THE WEIRD JOURNALISM CHANNEL ON YOUTUBE!
by Mat Weir
Music isn’t just an art form, it’s a way of life. We at Streetlight Records understand that just as much as you, our customer. That’s why we carry a number of lifestyle items centered around our obsession. However, the classic way to show off your religious devotion has always been the band shirt. That’s why we carry an eclectic mix of shirts for all your various tastes. Why go messing with a good thing, right?
Want to support local metal but you can’t go to shows because THE MAN says you have to be at work in the morning so you can pay your bills? NO PROBLEM! We have a great selection of local shirts like Fiends at Feast and A Band of Orcs.
Need something for the lil’ one that shows the other kids in the sandbox who’s boss? Then check out our new shorties line by our own Streetlight employee, Hanna!
Pete Saporito is a local photographer who has been entrenched in the Bay Area music scene since the days when many of us bought our first Green Day record in 6th grade and thought that was punk. Now you can wear some of his gems on your threads like this one taken at the OFF! show at 924 Gilman last year. If you look closely, you might even see a few familiar faces from around town.
We also have hoodies with Pete Saporito’s pics since winter is just around the bend.
And last but not least we have our new fall-line of Streetlight Records shirts, featuring the “Santa Carla” design by our own, Mari.
So come on in and start the Fall Season flossin’ with a brand new shirt!
by Mat Weir
“Broken bottles at the bottom of the pool/what the hell happened here last night?” a great opening for underground artist Jonny Fritz’s third full-length album, Dad Country.
If Fritz’s name doesn’t ring a bell, then maybe his pseudonym, Jonny Corndawg—who released two albums, Down on the Bikini Line and I’m Not Ready to Be a Daddy—will jar some memories. And if you do know the name Corndawg, then give yourself bonus points.
Dad Country differs from Fritz’s previous work in its slick, Nashville production style. While the two albums under Corndawg’s name had more of a trucker-barreling-down-the-highway feel, the 2013 release is more laid back, matured and riddled with a twinge of heartbreak. While his previous work could be compared to Jerry Reed ala Eastbound and Down, Dad Country is more personal, intimate and seems more influenced by Charlie Rich or Willie Nelson.
Songs like “Have You Ever Wanted To Die,” “Shut Up” and the all-too-eerily-resembles-my-last-relationship, “All We Do Is Complain,” exemplify Fritz’s transition as an artist. He’s grown into his own by strapping on the big kid boots, getting his heart broken and then writing about it like all great country artists. Sometimes, the formula ain’t a bad thing.
That’s also not to say the entire album is a “girlfriend left me, took the dog and I spilled my beer” tear fest. Tracks like the opener “Goodbye Summer,” or “Holy Water” are upbeat and fast paced, for some reason reminding me of the Lyle Lovett and Paul Simon albums my parents listened to when I was a kid. Hoaky, but so damn catchy and upbeat you can’t help but dig it.
And that’s really Fritz’s niche in this game and why he originally hit the scene as Corndawg. He’s satirizing the money-fueled, ’70s country sound while still paying homage to the cliché. Even now that he’s trying to have a more serious career, the over-produced sound and abundant lap steel give the album a corny sound. But who doesn’t love faire food?
Dad Country is a great, new album for those of us who can laugh at the country sound while still loving it. The record might not promise a brand new artist in the genre, but instead delivers greasy diners, married bar flies and plenty of hangovers. If that ain’t country, then what the hell is?
by Mat Weir
Born in the smoggy coven of Los Angeles in 2012, Witches of God emerge upon the metal scene with their debut LP, The Blood of Others.
The Witches of God (WOG) are a new band with an old sound and perfect for anyone who loves classic metal with a stoner/doom/occult twist. If your collection contains either Electric Wizard, Black Sabbath, Jerusalem, Hawkwind, Venom or all of the above, then make room for The Blood of Others.
Don’t believe me? Eddie Solis (It’s Casual, Revolution Mother) and the man, Scott “Wino” Weinrich (Saint Vitus) both make vocal appearances on separate tracks and it was Eddie who turned Wino onto WOG in the first place. THAT’S how you should know you need this album.
Recorded in only seven days with an additional three in mastering/mixing, The Blood of Others is a perfect mix of leather-clad mayhem and occult imagery. Doom-laden riffs, teetering on the border of space, soar throughout the record, begging to be blasted at top volume on a kamikaze motorcycle run through the woods.
The vocals are a blend of clean and rough, with actual singing throughout, making this a nice vacation from the death growls gracing the scene today. The final track, “Chasing Coffins,” is a self-deprecating, heroin-rock ballad ala ’90s hair metal.
The album comes with creepily seductive art by Tom Neely and the LP version is a gatefold with an inner-spread worth having. Plus, the LP even has a free CD inside which is a bonus I’ll never turn down.
It might have taken me a little time to find the groove in The Blood of Others, but once I did it quickly became an album I’d listened to repeatedly. If their debut doesn’t make a name for them now, you’ll definitely be hearing about the Witches of God in the future.
by Mat Weir
“The only constant is change.” Heraclitus said that. He was a Greek philosopher long before Socrates and a seemingly smart person. Later in life he became a misanthrope, and lived outside of society feeding on herbs and grass. He eventually developed dropsy, one day treating himself with homemade balm of cow manure and then baked in the sun, thinking it would dry out the fluids. He died the next day. The only constant is change.
As we dive into September and the fall season, the days grow shorter and the winds begin to sweep away summer’s corpse. Kids go back to school, the rainwear is dusted off, and 2013 sees its creeping doom on the horizon. Yes, change is inevitable, and here at Streetlight Records we flow with the stream of life. We’ve been stirring the pot o’ change and came up with some quality gems at ol’ record shoppe; all in the name of good deals, timeless music and the joy of physical media.
One of our biggest changes is the new Mix & Match Deal. For all items priced at $2.00 (found in the bottom bins), you can buy 3 for $5 or 10 for $10. And just like the name says, we’ll not even let you mix-n-match mediums, we encourage it! Want 3 DVDs? $5! Feel like buying 2 DVDS, 2 CDs, 3 LPs and 3 Laser Discs? $10 for all 10 items! Boom!
Our second change is just for all you vinyl nuts. Sometimes we aim too high, expecting certain albums to sell more than they do, but our mistake is your advantage. We now have SALE LPs by the back counter, all BRAND NEW and all marked at BELOW COST! You never know what jam you might pull out of that basket of berries.
Now, onto the gems. . .
Thanks to a couple of local collectors who decided it was time to change with the seasons and do some cleaning, Streetlight Records is proud to present our new, Fall Collection just for Santa Cruz.
First up, we have a beautiful array of original punk vinyl. That’s Bad Religion’s Suffer, NoFx’s color reissue of their Maximum Rock’N'Roll album (only about 500 copies were pressed with a couple hundred lost in a warehouse fire) and a rare, GG Allin, Rape GG. All tested through time and all on wax, the way they were meant to be heard.
What’s this? Oh nothing, just ORIGINAL COPIES of D.R.I.’s Dirty Rotten LP and Iggy & the Stooges Raw Power! Did I mention the Raw Power is a UK import? Yeeaaahh, that’s a thing of beauty right there.
The Surf Punks are looking ready to be played on a turntable near you!
But if good ol’ Rock ‘n Roll is your jam, don’t worry! We have a wide variety of used LPs that just hit the floor and guarantee there’s something for everyone!
Finally, our metal section has been given a serious adrenaline boost with the inclusion of new LPs by local acts the Bad Light, Bl’ast!, and newbies on the scene, straight from L.A., Witches of God.
So there you have it, straight from the speakers and right into your eardrums; new collections, new deals, and new happenings here at Streetlight in Santa Cruz. Think globally, shop locally and your local shop will be good to you. Until next time kiddies, keep those turntables spinning.
by Mat Weir
The sun beats down in a blaze of heat that dehydrates even the soul. Waves of apparitions dance before your weary eyes, conjuring images of gods and monsters, women and whores, water and shelter. All in front of your face but just beyond your grasp. A buzzard screeches, scattering the visions from your head. As you breathe in another lungful of dust, you pray for some shade or maybe even a passing stranger with some whiskey and a heart big enough to share.
Yeah, Federale’s The Blood Flowed Like Wine is kind of like that.
The Portland-based group formed in 2004 to create music fit for any Spaghetti Western and their third release is no exception. Featuring members of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Builders and Butchers, The High Violets and even guest vocals by Alex Maas of the Black Angels, The Blood Flowed Like Wine is a tequila- and whiskey-soaked album that will take you on a tour through the minds of Leone (The Man With No Name Trilogy) and Corbucci (Django). In fact, there’s even a song called “Django,” scored for the Tarantino film but never used in the final cut.
While it might not be your typical album, The Blood Flowed Like Wine is a record that will redeem your soul while you plot your next sin.
13. An omen of evil, but lucky for us godless sinners. Currently, thirteen is ablaze in the music world because every flapping head and coke-fueled ego can’t seem to stop talking about the new Black Sabbath album.
Love it or hate it, many-a-metal head has spent their stoney nights talking in anticipation for the day Black Sabbath would put out a new album. The rumors began back in 2000, after original members Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward and Ozzy Osbourne did some reunion tours, mainly headlining Ozzfest. In fact, Sabbath had actually started writing some new tunes and released two on the live Reunion album. I remember buying the album and not being thrilled with the new songs, but the hope of a new album was as good of a high as any.
The first setback came when Ozzy was called away to finish tracks to his Down to Earth album. The second came when his wife, Sharon, signed the contracts for MTV’s reality hit, The Osbournes. With the singer and his family now as American as fried Twinkies (and just as nutritious), the Black Sabbath project took a backseat until 2012 when the Birmingham boys announced it was back on.
I’ve heard so many different arguments for why 13 is either one of the best albums of 2013 or a bunch of old men trying to stay significant in a world where celebrities are made or broken with a tweet. Critics and fans alike have complained about its missing drummer Bill Ward, the post-production mastering and mixing, the lack of energy and so on. There have been so many excuses for people not liking this album, I’m surprised nobody has claimed it was the studio itself (everyone knows shag carpeting has no range).
Brothers! These claims are the sure-tale signs of a world filled with self-righteous nitpickers and weaklings. From beginning to end, the trio from Birmingham (Ward did not play on this album citing “contractual differences” but rumor has it his chops aren’t what they were) drop loud, blues-driven riffs reminiscent of their career through Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. These are songs that fit nicely into their early years without repeating themselves or obviously ripping off their younger selves. There’s even a “Planet Caravan”-esque number (“Zeitgeist”) that still makes me drool after listening to it for the 30th time.
13 is the perfect way to complete the Sabbath archives. A heavy, wrought iron door to close the catacomb of metal and the boys know it. The final song–a seven minute number called “Dear Father,”–ends with the sound of rain and the lonesome toll of a distant bell, just as “Black Sabbath,” (the first song on their first album) opens.
I won’t claim why some argue against 13’s worth among Sabbath’s tomes, but I will say if you’re a fan of Black Sabbath but NOT of this album, then you need to take a long hard look within yourself and question whether or not you deserve to wear the color black. Iommi, Butler, and Osbourne might not be as young, healthy or coherent as they were in 1971, but after listening to 13 it’s easy to see not much else has changed. And somewhere in the distance Satan, laughing, spreads his wings. . .
This is the third and final installment discussing Hanni El Khatib’s new album, the influence of Dan Auerbach on it and the wonders of live music. If you need to catch up, check out parts one and two.
by Mat Weir
by Mat Weir
Khatib was the first on stage, strutting his Greaser look—which looked out of place surrounded by his new band made up of long-haired hippies—said, “Hello” and blasted into the first two songs off the new album: “Head in the Dirt” and “Family.” The bassist more than made up for the electro-dance beat on the recording of the title track and dropped a thunderstorm of rhythm upon the audience that I wasn’t ready for.
With “Family,” Khatib sped up the tempo and continued the show with twice the speed of the album, breathing new life into each track. On songs like “Nobody Move” (an homage to ’77 rock, about armed robbery, complete with reggae beat and a punk chorus) and “Sinking in the Sand,” each band member would terrorize the music, pounding out each note with such ferocity I couldn’t believe they were the same songs I had listened to earlier. These tracks were fresh with rage and Khatib tore through each like a rabid caracal on his first blood high, straight for the jugular with lust in his eyes.
Eighty-five percent of his set was from Head in the Dirt, but the songs he chose to play off Guns were all on my bucket list. “Build. Destroy. Rebuild.” was on my soundtrack last year during a horrible period in my life and I screamed the lyrics so loudly by the time he played “Fuck it, You Win” I could only rasp out the chorus.
Khatib, on the other hand, was screaming to the gods of breakups and heartache, sacrificing himself so that others may learn and live. 50’s bubblegum diddy, “Dead Wrong” filled the ether with a serenade of doo-woppy “Waaaa-oooooo-oo-oooo” and he couldn’t pass up ending the Gun revisit with “Garbage City,” his declaration of love for San Francisco.
Half-way through The Black Angels’ set, when I was trying to figure out where my hallucinations were coming from (remember kids: 2 days of no sleep + weed + psychedelic music = cheap fun!) I passed the joint to my friend, Chelsea—so lost in spacey drone of the band she burned her hand on the marijuana embers without notice. The herbal incense danced around the Fillmore’s alter when I realized this really is what it’s all about.
Live shows are just a metaphor for life: you have to be there to experience it. No recording, book, picture, movie or video game can ever give you the thirst of life. If you don’t go out and DO, you’ll never have the grit of satisfaction under your nails. Life becomes entertainment instead of action, and one’s essence is suffocated underneath the greasy production. Actions baptize us with the fire of living, which burns away the fake bullshit of the world to reveal a raw, fleshy truth–scared and wild, free to run amok and deranged enough to tear apart anyone who tries to stifle it again. I was baptized in this fire, and no longer can I keep my head in the dirt about this record. Instead, I’ll just play it at full volume and anxiously wait for the next congregation with a toothy grin.
by Mat Weir
For decades, Streetlight Records has been your one-stop-shop for LPs, CDs, DVDs, and everything else birthed in the bloody womb of art. We’ve had an iconic presence in the underground world of music fetishists and our logo has been a brazened symbol, boldly worn on the t-shirts of audiophiles all over the world, since much of our clientele visit our store while on vacation.
Recently, we decided to revamp our t-shirt stock, continuing our classic logo while adding three new designs created by our staff. However, we decided it was time to give you—the customer—a fair chance at music immortality, and you don’t even have to know a lick of music.
To show our appreciation for everything our customers do for us, Streetlight Records will let YOU take a shot at designing our next t-shirt. The winner will receive a $100 gift certificate good for ANYTHING in the store, as well as bragging rights to shame friends and loved ones alike.
There are only a few simple guidelines to follow:
1. Nothing graphic, homophobic, racist, sexist. We all know what this means. Any submissions containing this material will not be accepted.
2. YOU MUST INCORPORATE THE STREETLIGHT RECORDS LOGO SOMEWHERE IN THE DESIGN.
3. Keep to THREE COLORS MAXimum.
That’s it! Three simple rules to follow towards your next step at fame & fortune! Other than that, your only limitation is YOU. Want to do a Santa Cruz theme? Go for it! Feel like a monster design? Do it!
SEND YOUR SUBMISSIONS BY ATTACHING A JPEG TO A FACEBOOK MESSAGE (https://www.facebook.com/StreetlightSC)
CONTEST ENDS July 10TH!!! GOOD LUCK!!!