Wire held its Drill Fest at The Echo and Echoplex, and it was a rare opportunity to see some of punk’s originators tell it like it is.
Judging by the attendance at the fest, which ran over three days and included performers like Mikal Cronin, Bob Mould and of course headliner Wire, it’s easy to see punk is very much alive today. Or it’s making a “curated” comeback at the very least.
“The importance is it’s partly to us,” Colin said. “One of the things about Wire is we’re not doing the heritage circuit. We’re not trying to relive our past. It’s about us making connections to other artists, not necessarily younger artists, but artists of different genres, with different ways of working and in a way it’s putting ourselves in a situation and saying this is what we are, we’re not just some band from the ’70s living off our past.”
That dialog connected this weekend as the crowds at the Echo and Echoplex appreciated the music of many favorites.
Among those who hit the stages were: Malka Spigel (Minimal Compact), Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips (Luna), Jason Falkner (The Grays, Three O’Clock, Jellyfish), Jessica Lipstate (Noveller), and Jess Labrador, and Shannon Sky Madden (Chasms).
Other friends and players on hand included Rafe Mandel, Caroline Borolla, Geoffrey Halliday, James Hamblin, Stefan Nelson and Sandy Yang. Wire is Robert Grey, Matthew Simms, Graham Lewis and Colin Newman.
When The Orwells play a show, it’s more like a PE party.
Friends, fans and strong opening bands are the name of the game here and there are no disappointments. The songs are good, the show is physical and the fans have a great time. The Orwells are touring to support their new album, Terrible Human Beings.
You’ve got everything here — new punk music, fun performances and cute guys — and no shortage of girls on hand in the audience. After getting a load of the guys in the bands it was no suprise there were so many young women. But The Orwells, The Walters and No Parents didn’t fool around and got straight to work.
Wire will hold its Drill Fest at The Echo and Echoplex tomorrow through Saturday, and the legendary band will celebrate the release of their new album Silver/Lead.
Wire is one of punk’s founding members, and has been the influence of many of today’s bands. Wire members are Colin Newman, Graham Lewis, Robert Gotobed, Margaret Fiedler McGinnis and Matthew Simms.
Performers set to take the stage at The Echo are Bob Mould, Mikal Cronin + string and horn ensemble, Julia Holter, Mild High Club, Wand, Laetitia Sadier, Fitted, Part Time Punks, Howardamb, Once and Future Band, Chasms, Alina Bea, Noveller, Slows, The Pinkflag Guitar Orchestra.
Kinman, the well-known wild SoCal punker who rose to fame with his brother Tony in bands like The Dils and Rank and File, is at it again. This time, Kinman is working with another “kin” of his: His son, Dewey Peek. On bass is Matt Littel and drummer is S. Scott Aguero. The video was directed by Rez Hat.
‘Collapse and Nothingness’
“The song ‘Expect It’ is about collapse and the complete nothingness that follows,” Kinman told CaliforniaRocker.com. “We had a great time making the video, a lot of beer and tacos, North East Los Angeles, dontcha know. It was filmed with a rare Swedish camera that makes everything look like TV in the Seventies, which is what life should be like anyway.”
Tommy did a couple of appearances on the late night show circuit as well, all in support of the new Bash and Pop album, Anything Could Happen. Anything Could Happen is the first album from Bash and Pop in 24 years.
And Stinson is happy with the attention. After all these years, it’s probably something the guy’s entitled to, after all, he is the founder of The Replacements, arguably one of the best power-pop/ new wave bands around, and he’s definitely paid his dues.
The packed house at The Troubadour was the embodiment of fan love, as the over-35 crowd came from near and far to make like sardines in the can. Even up in the rafters. They came to see Stinson perform new tunes as well as old, and even some Stones and The Who covers.
On the set list were “Friday Night is Killing Me,” “Tiny Pieces,” “Anybody Else,” “On the Rocks,” “Bad News,” set closer “Unfuck You” and covers like “The Kids Are All Right,” “You’re My Favorite Waste of Time,” by Marshall Crenshaw and the Stones’ “Midnight Rambler,” as well as “Anything Could Happen.”
C’mon Tommy, the crowd wasn’t all THAT old and in fact there were at least a good 50 people or so who were in the under-35 category. Either way, it’s OK. After all, Classic Rock is in again and on an evening like this, with Stinson on stage and fans showing the love, anything really could happen.
The Yawpers opened the evening and put on a great set, with surprise verve and energy that could launch a rocket. The Rockabilly alt-punk trio do a great job of keeping the audience on their toes, with them telling the audience to shut the F up even though nobody was hassling them. The guitar work and drums were incredible, and these guys can make an average song sound like a hit.
Rancid and Dropkick Murphys have announced the co-headlining From Boston To Berkeley Tour which will make five California stops, including San Diego, Sacramento, Berkeley, LA and San Luis Obispo in August.
The Bouncing Souls and Jake Burns, The Selecter and Kevin Seconds, support.
“Rancid is looking forward to hitting the road with our brothers the Dropkick Murphys,” said Rancid’s Tim Armstrong.
Rancid and Dropkick Murphys go back a ways. In 1997, Rancid’s Lars Frederiksen found a copy of Dropkick Murphys’ original EP at a friend’s house. He gave it to his bandmate and Hellcat Records President Armstrong, who signed the band to his new label.
“It’s a long time coming with these two bands touring together,” said Rancid’s Frederiksen. “There is so much history between both of us that it should make for a great tour. We look forward to seeing all of our friends and family out there.”
Rancid started following the breakup of Armstrong and Matt Freeman’s Berkeley-based band, Operation Ivy. In 1993, Rancid signed with longtime producer, and label founder, Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion and Epitaph Records. Gurewitz stayed on as producer.
Rancid, comprised of Armstrong, Frederiksen, Freeman and Branden Steineckert, has stayed independent. They have their own independent booking agent, they’re on an independent record label, Hellcat/Epitaph, and they make their own t-shirts. The band releases its ninth studio album this year.
Dropkick Murphys are touring in support of their 11 Short Stories Of Pain and Glory album, released through the band’s own Born and Bred Records earlier this year.
The band founded The Claddagh Fund, a charity to help support addiction recovery as well as children’s and veterans’ organizations. Dropkick Murphys–Al Barr, Tim Brennan, Ken Casey, Jeff DaRosa, Matt Kelly, James Lynch– raise funds, mentor, and lend a helping hand with veterans, youth sports, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
Dropkick Murphys have become ambassadors for their city. In Boston, it seems like everybody knows someone connected to the band whether by blood, friendship, or the time they shared a brew at a Boston Bruins game.
Escovedo and Jesse Malin to Play Federal Underground
By DONNA BALANCIA
Alejandro Escovedo has had an interesting career. He may come from the famous musical Escovedo family, but he’s punk rock through and through.
He’s worked with East Coast punker Jesse Malin for years, and the two of musicians — seemingly from different parts of the world — take the time to tour around and make music for music’s sake. Check out Escovedo’s website
Escovedo hails from a Mexican-American family via Texas, and Malin is a punk rocker from New York. But somehow the friendship and the music-making works. On Tuesday, Escovedo and Malin will play the Federal Underground in Long Beach.
Escovedo and Malin’s tour launched February 16. In tow are a range of great musicians. The Alejandro Escovedo Band is comprised of Jason Victor on guitar, Shawn Peters on drums and Aaron McClellan on bass.
Throughout his career, Escovedo has worked with many people and has earned many distinctions including Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Performing in 2006.
His latest album, Burn Something Beautiful, which was released last October, highlights his talent. His musical gifts are revealed across a lifetime spent to faith in the hard work of life and music and its possibilities.
Let’s face it, Cheetah’s no stranger to change, as he has played in a few extremely well-known punk groups and has introduced a cast of characters to his audiences time and again.
This time, enter via flying leap, Jake from the Undead Boys who took over fronting duties on Cheetah’s current tour. The frontman really knows how to grab and hold the attention of the crowd who ate up his every move.
It was hard to hold on to your spot on the floor as moshers took over the Whisky, colliding with everything and everyone in sight.
But Cheetah takes it all in stride and played a range of favorites and a couple of new tunes as well. After all, this is a guy who was one of the original punks, and still today snarls his way through sets to the delight of the fans.
On hand for this gig were some great friends of Cheetah, including Evita, Heather and Bruce Duff and his wife. And we can’t forget to mention James Ames, his trusty roadie, who has a talent when it comes to creating cool punk clothes, all with the theme of each tour.
Ill Repute and The Grim headline Punk Rock Swap Meet, the annual charity event tomorrow in Canoga Park.
Attendees are encouraged to “Buy, Sell or Slam” as the Knights of Columbus-hosted bi-annual gig and indoor swap meet celebrates its second year. It’s an all-in-one event open to all ages with seven bands and full bar with ID.
Organized through Knights of Columbus, Council #3601, a seven-band strong showcase of punk rock that has to rival punk rock bowling as strange combination of events will be held at 21433 Strathern St., Canoga Park from 4 p.m. on. All ages are welcome, there will be door prizes and a raffle. Food will be available also.
Ill Repute, Naked Aggression, The Grim, Corrupted Youth, The Shermtones, Mother of Dissension and Bootleg Brigade will perform. Admission price is $10. Advance tickets are $8.
For vendor or general information, contact Bob Oedy at (818) 492-8690 or email@example.com
The Stitches at The Viper Room – Photo Donna Balancia
By DONNA BALANCIA
The Stitches are one of the best loved and most appreciated punk bands in Southern California. The longtime punkers Michael Lohrman, Johnny Witmer, Pete “Action Man'” Archer and Craig “Skibs” Barker recently opened for The Dictators NYC at The Viper Room and stole the show. Johnny Witmer of The Stitches answered the important questions for CaliforniaRocker.com
CR: What is the best gig — or two — The Stitches ever played?
JW: So many good ones. I’d have to say in the early days (the mid-90s) at The Purple Onion in SF, and that show we did in London in 2013. The two shows we opened for Green Day were pretty interesting…
CR: Did The Stitches ever tour?
JW: Yes we did, and still do. We’ve been to Europe four times, and to to various parts of the country a many times as well.
JW: We’ve had a new LP musically written for about 10 years now, but are still waiting for lyrics to be written. We will have a our Singles Collection LP (all of our rare 7-inch recordings, 1994-2010) released on Burger Records in 2017.
CR: What are the top selling records released by The Stitches
JW: 8×12 is probably our most famous record. We released it ourselves with no distribution, but still did really well. Twelve Imaginary Inches probably sold the most when it was released as TKO records had a good team back then.
JW: Not really. We’ve been the same members since 1994 except for drummers. Our second drummer, Skibs, is now our fourth drummer, and he’s been with us this time since the 2003 or so. We recently added Jim Kaa (from The Crowd) on second guitar last year (so Mike’s not the oldest guy in the band anymore)…
CR: Who writes the music?
JW: The Action Man, or myself usually write the music. Mike usually writes the lyrics.
Ross the Boss Friedman, founder of The Dictators talks new music, tour and music biz with California Rocker editor Donna Balancia
CR: What kind of influence did The Dictators have on music, Ross?
RTB: The Dictators influenced so many bands. Our original fans all became band guys, they went on to form bands. It’s like a family tree: Monster Magnet, Stone Temple Pilots, Turbonegro, Helicopters and Nomads, all these bands were mentored by us. When you’re hearing songs and you hear the riffs you know our influence.
Ross The Boss Friedman says Dictators NYC are busy – Photo courtesy Dictators NYC
CR: What’s the legacy of The Dictators?
RTB: You know we were too punk for metal and too metal for punk. It makes us feel amazing that people go to school on us. A good percentage of the people who come to see us are band guys.
CR: How is the band doing these days?
RTB: Really, we’re better than ever. We just did a tour. And I was in Europe with the new Ross the Boss Band. The Dictators NYC did 21 shows in 22 days in Europe recently.
The Dictators NYC are legendary around the world – Photo courtesy of Dictators NYC
CR: Why the new name?
RTB: I renamed them Dictators NYC as a matter of respect. I insisted on it. We want to let everyone know it isn’t the original lineup. Daniel Rey, the Ramones producer and Dean Rispler on bass. We wanted to have some sort of closure and respect for the old lineup.
CR: Why do you like California?
RTB: I’ve always enjoyed California, it’s really spread out, I love California. I like Northern California and I like the San Diego area. My sister lives there. As far as New York, I’m Giants, Mets, Rangers and Knicks. There are tons of transplanted New Yorkers in Califiornia. They’ll say, ‘Hey Ross I went to Dewitt Clinton High School!’ It’s a small world, it’s big, but it’s small.
RTB: In California, we’ve been made to feel very welcome over the years. The fans are great everywhere. I’ve been in the music business since 1975, I’ve made 31 records. The new “Ross The Boss Band” has been doing well.
CR: What’s the key to success?
RTB: I’ve been playing professionally for a long time and every time it amazes me — If you play your heart out you can’t lose, people pick up on that. The Dictators play 150 percent; we don’t care if there’s 10 people or 10,000 people there.
CR: Anything new?
RTB: We’ve written a new song and it’s a single called ‘Supply and Demand,’ a story about the new band. The demand is there and we’re gonna supply it. Dean produced it, he plays bass, he played with a lot of bands like Murphy’s Law. We have this new single, and we’re working on new music. And with my new band we’re working on a new CD, we don’t have working title yet.
CR: What are you guys like in concert as Dictators NYC?
RTB: The band generally performs all its hits, including “Next Big Thing,” “Weekend,” “Tree Tub Man,” “I Stand Tall,” “Stay With Me,” “Let’s Twist.” You gotta give the people what they want.
The Dictators with Handsome Dick Manitoba continue to draw crowds – Photo courtesy Dictators NYC
CR: How has the music business changed since the 1970s?
RTB: Music has become an impossibility. You’ve gotta play live. People have to come see you live. Certainly the money end has been stolen by the record industry. If you don’t have a live thing, forget it. Every single night you have to play your ass off. A lot of young bands are. You can make money at the gate, on merch, you can sell your stuff. You have to be hands-on. You have to be willing to expect the word ‘No’ as an answer from a lot of people.”
CR: How was it for you guys when you started out?
RTB: When we first came on, they said, ‘Whoever signed these guys should be shot. What is this wrestling hamburgers, cars and girls, what is this insanity? Why the leather jackets?’ Then all of a sudden they said it was ‘Punk Rock.’ Then The Ramones came out. All of a sudden, it was ‘The Dictators influenced us.’ MC5, Flamin Groovies, Iggy and the Stooges all had their roots in punk.
CR: What’s gonna happen on Nov. 11?
RTB: We’re gonna play a mind-blowing show, you’re gonna be happy as shit and you’re gonna hear the best.
The Dictators NYC “Supply and Demand” in Barcelona
Video courtesy of BilligPeopleBooking
Joey Ramone Joins The Dictators for ‘The Kids Are Alright’