The latest release from the endlessly fascinating Roaratorio Recordsis a 7″ single featuring two songs by the Cleveland Wrecking Company.
Like Crystal Syphon, who are featured on two archival LPs from the label, this single presents unreleased material from the late 60s Bay Area scene. The band’s bassist Jim Moscoso wrote great liner notes summing up the band’s history, which are both fun and interesting. The story of an agent losing the band’s advance in a marijuana smuggling scene is makes for a fun read, but its also a cautionary tale.
Also inside is a picture of the band performing at the Atascadero Hospital for the Criminally Insane.
The recordings they eventually made are presumed lost. What we have here is a studio track and a live recording from a band that opened for a pretty impressive list: The Dead, CCR, Big Mama Thornton, Sons of Champlin, Lightnin’ Hopkins.
Just another reason Roaratorio is one of our favorite Minnesota record labels.
We first heard a few songs from The Fuck Knights Puke All Over Themselves when Dave visited the amazing Albatross Studio for an interview two and a half years ago. With the album’s release show at the Hexagon Bar inked into our li’l black book for (when else?) Friday the 13th, the time frame begs the question: how long does it take to make a garage rock record these days?
We might have known the Fuck Knights‘ second album wouldn’t be the what we’d expect to follow Let It Bleed, a tape-saturating orgy of distorted vocals, frantically-driven drums and feedback fury. What we heard that late night in Mike Wisti’s included ensemble hand claps, Stax-sounding bass vamps and tunes that turned closer to Their Satanic Majesties Request than 12×5.
Maybe we shouldn’t expect less from the band which never ceases to surprise. Yep, once endorsed as “a way cool psychedelic garage band” by Maximumrocknroll,” Fuck Knights were always headed in the same trajectory as Brian Jones’ wide-eyed explorations with the Rolling Stones. And the Fuck Knights’ founder, G.D. Mills, is no less an iconoclast than Jones, though hopefully longer for this world.
We sat down for a beer with Mills here at Hymie’s last week to once again chide him over the band’s name, but also talk about the relationship between the Fuck Knights’ first and second albums, and the awesome bill of bands for their release show on Friday. Here’s a li’l of what we talked about…
Hymies: When we first heard tracks from Puke All Over Themselves, it was alongside songs from Grant Hart’s magnus opus, The Argument, which was being recorded at the same time you started working on this album. The Argument, which was a pretty labored-over album, has long ago been swept from the ‘new arrivals’ bin, and you’re album is just coming out. What took so long?
GD Mills: Money. I drive a taxi. Everyone else who’s played in this band are service people, tending restaurants or doing whatever else to get by. If I had an advance from some label, or if I were independently wealthy or had rich parents, then it wouldn’t have taken that long.
We play a gig, and the best we make is something like seventy-five dollars. Per gig! And that’s before you pay off your bar tab, and on that night you might sell one record. There’s no money in this and that’s why it took so long. But I wanted to do it well, and that’s why work [at Albatross] with Wisti. The recordings are entirely analog. Until we mastered it for the CD to go for the manufacturer, it’s entirely recorded and mixed in analog.
Hymies: How would it be different if you were independently wealthy?
Mills: It would have been done a lot more quickly. Either way, I had to make something better than the first album. It was really important to me, because of lineup changes and because of what I wanted the band to be.
And I should mention it was co-released last fall by two Italian labels, Area Pirata in Pisa and Boss Hoss in Pesaro. This is just the first time it’s been available here, which obviously is really important to me.
Hymie’s: Taking your time in that studio had its benefits. When I was there Grant Hart was there working on The Argument.
Mills: It helped us with that Brian Jones attitude, to try everything but the kitchen sink. We did that. ‘Oh, here’s this instrument, let’s use it.’ There’s that instrument, try that next. Grant had all kinds of stuff set up, and we come along in between the weeks when he was working. And, ‘What’s this?’ Once it was these tubular bells hanging from the ceiling, and I asked about them. Mike just said, ‘Grant is using those. You hit ’em with this little mallet.’ So we tried that. He had his twelve-string guitar there and we used it on “13 Dead Cats.” There was also a bouzouki, which we used.
Hymies: The album explores a lot more territory than Let It Bleed.
Mills: I was trying to escape being typecast. I don’t want to be pigeon-holed, whatever you’d like to call it. I listen to so much music, just like everyone here, and I have a wide frame of reference. With the first Fuck Knights record, I was focused like a laser beam on making a garage punk album. And here I’m reacting against that. There was the thesis, and the second step is the antithesis, which is this album. The third one, the Tarzan tape, is the synthesis of the two. You know, like Hegelian dialectical reasoning, now the synthesis will be the thesis of the next step.
So that’s why there’s short things, some Motown girl group stuff or some Stax leaning stuff. They’re asides. I kept them short because if we took it to a full length it would be corny, like ‘Now we’re gonna be … a reggae band.’ However we do incorporate dub into one of the instrumentals.
People confuse method acting with the person, the performer. It’s not the case a lot of time, with the actor, or with me. People confuse me the person with me the method acting garage rock dude, and that causes a lot of misunderstandings. Especially in a small town like this.
Hymie’s: How much of the new album is Fuck Knights the band, and how much is it G.D. Mills and his band?
Mills: It’s both, because there’s so many itirations of the band. And there’s also pockets where people weren’t there and it was just me. And Mike was the only other person. Can you play the guitar while I play the drums, and I’ll finish the song out doing each overdub. Bass, singing, handclaps, whatever it would be. It helped to have Mike playing the guitar, to keep it in synch. Otherwise it starts to sound like one guy doing everything.
Hymie’s: But has Fuck Knights become like Alice Cooper, where it started out as a band and eventually Alice Cooper became his identity.
Mills: [Laughs] Or its like Raw Power, where it becomes Iggy and the Stooges.
There’s I think three different bands on the album. To round it out there’s stuff which is just G.D. Mills. And every song is mine in the sense that I wrote them. Or in some cases wrote seventy-five percent of what I wanted and worked with David from Liquor Beats Winter, or Jason Medieros, or Ben Bachman from Nightingales, and we’d finish it. Structure it out. That’s how it had been with Joe [Holland] and Joe [Hastings]. That was a divicive thing when Joe Holland left, that I had taken songwriting credit. The person I’m working with needs that credit to feel invested, so those songs are credited that way on the new album.
Hymie’s: Do you need to have a name, like Iggy and the Stooges, at this point?
Mills: I don’t want to change the name, because I’ve already invested so much in it, Fuck Knights as a band. And why do I have to change the name as the band changes? Either way, I’m not going to call it Sir Gregory and his Fuck Knights. The Velvet Underground after John Cale split was still the Velvet Underground
Hymies: Even on that last record.
Mills: And that one, Doug Yule, the King Kong album or whatever. For me the other reason to keep the name is that I wanted the three albums to be my legacy with this band, just like the three Stooges albums. There’s the goal.
Hymie’s: Not that we’ve ever been fans of the band’s name. It’s hard to put on the marquee here when you play in the shop.
Mills: I never thought it was offensive. The word ‘fuck’ isn’t offensive to me, and I wasn’t interested in airplay. I never gave a fuck about it. In Europe we were Make Love Knights, and Caballeros de Fuck, and in France we were Chevaliers de Amor. I don’t think we were trying to stir the pot with the name. We just thought it sounded cool.
Hymie’s: And the title of the new album, Puke All Over Themselves?
Mills: It’s poetic in the sense that it’s excessive. I’m exploring all these ideas in excess. I’m not focused on one thing, like with Let It Bleed.
Hymies: And the look of the new album is different. Where in the past Fuck Knights singles and the first LP had ghoulish cartoons on the covers, almost like R. Crumb meets the Cramps, Puke All Over Themselves has pretty designs. Even the release show poster has the style we’ve started to associate with the Fuck Knights, but the album cover is different.
Mills: Yeah, I did that. I wanted to connect with those classic records which inspired me, Odyssey and Oracle or Their Satanic Majesties Request. It’s also, again, to make it different from the first album.
Hymies: There’s a pretty awesome list of bands on this poster, too. Tell us about the show on Friday.
Mills: We’re gonna bring in a second PA, and have a second stage between the bar and the stage you’re used to. And go back and forth from there. I’m calling them “Target Arena Stage” and “Xcel Center West Stage.”
And these are my favorite bands since I’ve lived in Minneapolis. They’re all fun and awesome and there songs are well-written. Cozy, what can I say, they dress awesome and their songs are great. Fuck Knights tried to play Cozy once, and there songs have little nuances that make them hard to learn. Just like the Ramones. You think it’s easy, but there’s little things they do different. I love that band, they might be my favorite in Minneapolis.
And Narco States, you know those guys. And they were on one of my Four Way Split compilations. What Tyrants, I’d never heard of those guys, but they asked us to play a Monks tribute, probably because of the record we did with Gary Burger. And I told them we could only learn a few songs because we were working on that tape, and they insisted come along and play your own songs for the rest of your set. Then these guys came out and BOOM! They sounded exactly like the Monks. They had the whole energy two, that palpable energy. It was amazing, like you were in Hamburg in ’65 watching the Monks.
Rounding out the bill are Driftwood Pyre, who have a new album out [We have these in the shop], which is like a phoenix reborn from Bridge Club and First Communion Afterparty, FCAP to those of us who were there. And Dead Skull. I really liked the quote from Pork Magazine where they said this band was like AC/DC meets Black Flag. So all Minneapolis bands I’ve come to really love.
Fuck Knights’ album release show for Puke All Over Themselves is Friday the 13th at the Hexagon Bar. Details on Facebook and more about each of the bands can be found here.
This month marks six years we have been posting records here nearly every morning, from universal favorites to (to quote The Simpsons) “the tragically ludicrous! The ludicrously tragic!” Along the way, we’ve done our best to introduce interesting music from the past and present, with a particular emphasis on all you can find without leaving the Twin Cities. We’ve also done our best to get in a cheap shot at Paul McCartney at least a couple times a year.
Remarkably, the Hymies blog has survived in spite of Dave’s minimal talents when it comes to anything with a screen or keyboard. On rare occasions we’ve had to enlist help (our record label, for instance, has been able to host its download codes here entirely thanks to one of the fellas from this underrated band, who sadly aren’t playing anymore).
The Hymies blog survived our five block move, three shows by the Taxpayers, and the time a guy on Yelp called us “trashy,” but this week the MP3 player finally became so obsolete it doesn’t work with our updated site. If you take a scrolling stroll down memory lane, you’ll find the songs embedded in earlier posts appear different. They’ll still play as before with an additional click (a problem we may or may not begin to explore fixing in the more than 1,650 posts in our past). Many hundreds of the records heard here are ones which passed through the shop briefly and were recorded and photographed to share with you, so we couldn’t reproduce the files even if we had the time.
This week we introduce a new MP3 player! It will allow us to continue sharing records here for another six years or more. It’s fairly new software and its developers have announced plans to add a variety of additional features (maybe one day you’ll finally be able to smell the records through the internet). One of its most appealing features is that it should be more adaptable to smart phones and other devices Dave simply doesn’t understand.
Today, instead of welcoming our new player to the team with a track from the “Difficult Listening” section, we’ve chosen to present Mozart’s magnificent overture to The Marriage of Figaro, performed here by the Vienna State Opera in 1958. For the record, our new player can present stereo recordings as well.
What other improvements will the future hold? Maybe someday a new digital camera which doesn’t take blurry pictures of the jackets!
Our next release from Hymie’s Records will be the debut album by Whiskey Jeff and the Beer Back Band. Lonesome, Stoned and Drunk has been years in the making, and we could not be more proud of this project.
Jeff and his band are not only exceptionally talented, but also good friends. We have loved having them here over the years. Jeff’s songs are both poignant and hilarious, and on the album the band sounds like a classic “Bakersfield sound” honky tonk act.
The album will feature liner notes from local promoter Craig Drehmel and country music legend Sherwin Linton. We are currently working on scheduling some shows for November and December to celebrate its release. The album will be available here in the record shop, and at those shows, the week of Thanksgiving.
“West” is from the upcoming second record by OAKS, Animal Life. The video was directed by Carlos Lamas. There’s a release show for it at the Icehouse on Friday night, and we’ll have it in stock later this week!
We’ve been waiting a long while to hear from Wizards Are Real, the enigmatic instrumental quartet so dear to our hearts. Their last record, the 10″ EP I’m Your Free Lieutenant, was released nearly three and a half years ago. No surprise then that their latest, which snuck quietly into record shops last month, presents all sorts of advances in the band’s unique alchemy.
Because the band is on a brief family leave, there’s no release show for The Money’s Coming, their third release. Wizards Are Real has never followed industry conventions as far as promotion and marketing are considered, anyways — this is one of the things we’ve always loved about them.
The Money’s Coming features the Wizards’ established combination of richly reverbed pedal steel and low-register saxophones, played by husband and wife Brian O’Neil and Melanie Bergstrom. Bassist Ted Held and drummer Jim Baumgart provide bedding for each tune which which transitions between jazz, post-punk and post-rock with fluidity. None of this is news — they have explored this terrain for years. What separates the new record is the confidence with which they collaborate.
More than on the previous records the instrumentals imply a representational program, although we’ve never forgotten that the Wizards once told us the reason their songs have no words is that they would be too creepy if they did. The cryptic titles certainly offer something to consider. The Money’s Coming could be the soundtrack to some surreal landscape or another, maybe deep sea diving or space exploration or cleaning the back of the fridge here in the record shop. A few of these nine new tracks have a slower, more narrative sense, like “In my Ironman,” which O’Neil opens slowly and evocatively, and “It’s A Wrench,” which treads forward as if on ethereal feet only to surprise is by disappearing.
The Money’s Coming plays at 45rpm, adding a sense of urgency to the songs, none of which pass the three minute mark on the first side. “Bring on the Night, Sting” opens the record with the intensity established by I’m Your Free Lieutenant, and it is followed by excellent, energetic bass and drums on the next two songs. You can, incidentally, hear the entire album on the Wizards’ Bandcamp page here. We chose these two tracks to present the wider range of this release, which takes more chances than the previous records (is that a slide whistle on “Genesee” or is it our imagination?). Money has all our favorite Wizards motifs, from the hard-edged rock to the sinister sinewiness of the title track from their 10″ EP — this new record was well worth the wait.
The last time we posted Wizards Are Real here on the Hymie’s blog was when we singled out “Good Goods” from their first album as one of our favorite closing time songs. This is still true, and its one reason why we have twice chosen them to close down our block party (the other is that we love these folks). The awesome UndercurrentMpls filmed them in 2013 if you want to take a look. Their last show before taking a little break was here this past Record Store Day — we only mention this because it seems like this might cause people to not notice the release of The Money’s Coming, at least until the Wizards begin haunting clubs around town again. Too bad — this is a record which merits some attention.
When we first encountered the evolving creature Panther Ray, the band was knee deep in the hazy golden era of psychedelic rock, and we described their formative live sets as being pulled fourfold in different directions. Around the same time Dave described them as the Twin Cities’ “new psychedelic rock hope” in a story for the City Pages‘ local music blog. It might have been a long time coming but the release of the band’s formal debut, Ripple, lives up to any lofty expectations.
Ripple runs frantically through eleven tracks with minimal spacing, placing the jingle jangle combination of electric twelve-string and strung out fuzz of their early EPs into a more modern lo-fi foundation. We have loved this band through its steady evolution for its innate ability to build arrangements around memorable pop hooks and Ripple is filled with them — some, like “Speaking to a Tone” and the standout track “I Want You” strike a chord with their pre-psychedelia pop roots (we should mention here that you can hear the entire album on their bandcamp page here). Others fuse this with fuzz, feedback and studio experimentation without leaving melody on the floor.
It’s a guitar-driven record in more ways than most recent local releases, and filled with so many unexpected, inventive moments that things still leap out on the tenth or twentieth listen. Local label Forged Artifacts put forward “Get To You,” with its sweeping seventies solos, as a single, but the tracks which caught our ear were the reverb-rich “Natural Girl” and “Inside Out,” where guitarists Dan Ries and Hannah Porter are awesomely eerie.
Ripple‘s largely anonymous vocals alternate between Ries and Porter, with bassist Andy Rockwood providing some support (he was a founding member along with Ries). The effect is at first alienating, but increasingly fits with the album’s fusion of fuzz and pop. Our favorite tracks capture the most interesting combination of these.
We were late to post about this album when it was first released, but Panther Ray has been playing pretty often in the Twin Cities for some time now. Their next show is Thursday night at the Kitty Cat Club in Dinkytown along with Graveyard Club.