RETRO REVIEW: Don’t Call Me Nico, Reviewing NICO, 1988

Posted on: Sep 6th, 2018 By:

by Brooke Sonenreich
Contributing Writer

NICO (2018); Dir. Susanna Nicchiarelli; Starring Trine Dyrholm, John Gordon Sinclair, Anamaria Marinca; Opens Friday, Sept. 7 at the Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema; Trailer here.

“Don’t call me Nico. Call me by my real name: Christa,” says the disheveled, 45-year-old Danish actress, Trine Dyrholm who plays Nico in NICO, 1988.

The film is a biopic of the last two years of the life of Christa Päffgen, better known as Nico from The Velvet Underground. However, the story is an authentic representation of a time long after Nico’s involvement with The Velvet Underground. It’s a look at Christa’s middle-aged debauchery as she tours through Europe with a group of amateur bandmates. In between driving through beautiful roads, the artist participates in interviews that often bore her with questions concerning her being Lou Reed’s femme fatale. She seems annoyed at, if not completely oblivious to, the fact that without The Velvet Underground her solo rock career wouldn’t be as successful as it is. Indeed, it is her spot in 1960s history that makes her important to her fans more than anything else.

She makes a respectable point though when speaking at an Italian press conference: “Well, I only sang three songs with them. The rest of the time I was playing the tambourine in the background. I did the same thing when I was a model; I was there for my image. Look, my life started after the experience with The Velvet Underground.”

The film moves slowly through Christa’s ups and downs on the road, sometimes following her into the bathroom as she brazenly shoots up heroin into her bruised ankle. Still, it moves through these spaces with little judgment.

Trine Durholm in NICO 1988, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Often times director, Susanna Nicchiarelli, oscillates between archived footage from Nico’s time with Andy Warhol’s stylish gang to the late 1980s moments of her on stage at various European venues. In contrast to the archived footage of her youth, the singer now shamelessly indulges in food and alcohol. She celebrates her unkempt look as she confidently states, “I’ve been on the top, I’ve been on the bottom; both places are empty.”

Perhaps the most memorable scene is after the star does heroin in a club restroom. She enters the stage to perform the song “Nature Boy” with the backing of an Italian jazz band. It’s a solemn rendition of the song and it conjures up emotions regarding her estranged, suicidal son Christian Aaron Päffgen, or “Ari.”

The film picks up when Ari joins the tour for quality time with his estranged mother. In a rare moment of desperation, when Christa is doing methadone in a room next door, Ari slits his wrists and winds up in a foreign hospital. Here we voyeuristically experience the downside of the Päffgen family’s drug use. Despite Christa’s seamless ability to perform while on heroin, the drugs have infected her and her son’s lives in ways that become more visible than the bruises on her ankle.

The conclusion is weak compared to the rest of the film, if only because of its lazy reliance on end title cards to inform us of the star’s actual death. Nevertheless, even though the biopic is slow moving, it stands well as an entertaining and thorough look at Christa’s last moments in the limelight.

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Kool Kat of the Week: Scott Walker Making Love to Joy Division: Jack Shaw of Atlanta’s The Head Talks About What It’s Like to Come Home to MILLIPEDES

Posted on: Nov 24th, 2015 By:

millipedesBy Geoff Slade
Contributing Writer

Atlanta trio The Head are wrapping up their 20-date tour and return from the road just in time for Thanksgiving. Come out and join them to celebrate the release of their new five-song EP MILLIPEDES at the Drunken Unicorn this Saturday, Nov. 28.  Sydney Eloise & The Palms and Chelsea Shag are also on the bill.

Jack Shaw (drums), Mike Shaw (lead vocals/bass) and Jacob Morrell (guitar) have been playing together since they were teenagers at Holy Spirit Preparatory School, and list among their influences The Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen and R.E.M. This knowledge and appreciation of pop music’s past led Blurt magazine to call them “Atlanta’s youngest rock ‘n’ roll veterans.”

The youngsters have already worked with legendary R.E.M. producer Mitch Easter, Jody Stephens of Big Star and John Vanderslice, but decided to produce their latest batch of songs themselves, a first for the band. “I feel like we’re still learning, now more than ever,” said Mike Shaw. “And we’re enjoying every bit of what we’re learning.”

AtlRetro caught up with Kool Kat of the Week Jack Shaw to find out more about the new EP, the tour and what’s ahead for The Head.

ATLRetro: First of all, I’m sure you guys are sick to death of this question, so let’s get it out of the way: Why “The Head?”

Jack Shaw: We wanted something short, sweet and weird sounding. We thought “The Head” captured all of that. It’s simple enough and makes people scratch their chins.

According to your bio, the three of you are still in your early 20s. How did you come together?

Mike and I are twins, so we’ve been playing music together our whole lives. We met Jacob during our freshman year of high school. We decided to form a band with him once we found out he played guitar and listened to the same bands as us.

The Head [L-R]: Jack Shaw, Mike Shaw, Jacob Morrell Photo by Valheria Rocha.

The Head [L-R]: Jack Shaw, Mike Shaw, Jacob Morrell Photo by Valheria Rocha.

What music were you listening to when you decided to form a band? Do you think this was/is different than what others your age listen to?

We were listening to a whole bunch of stuff ranging from The Stone Roses and Pavement to Frank Sinatra and the Velvet Underground. Most of our classmates at the time were listening to P. Diddy and The Fray, so, yes, there was definitely a big difference. We find a lot more common ground with people our age now, though.

How would you describe your music to the curious?

Scott Walker making love with Joy Division.

Is this your first major tour? How’s life on the road? Is it what you expected?

We’ve done a few seasonal legs of touring before, but this is our first time being out on the road for months at a time. We’re having a blast and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Since the end of October, you’ve played Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Boston. How are you being received? Are the crowds different than in Atlanta?

We’ve been met with great reception. The crowds all over really dig what we’re doing and dance a lot, especially to our newer songs. Some of the crowds are a little different from Atlanta in their own ways. All of them, regardless of the city, are on the younger side. We’ve enjoyed every city, but New Orleans and Boston are definitely among our favorites.

The Head could very well be the next Atlanta band to enjoy serious national attention for years to come. Do you have any favorite local acts?

Yeah, we really love what Tedo Stone and Sydney Eloise & The Palms are doing. We also really dig Chelsea Shag. All of those guys put on great live shows. There are, of course, several other local bands we respect. The list can go on.

The Head play the Drunken Unicorn on Sat. Nov. 28. Check out three tracks from MILLIPEDE here.

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Kool Kat of the Week: They’re All About You: Getting Happy, Sad and Metaphysical with Jason Elliott of Spirits and the Melchizedek Children on the Release of Their New LP and Tour

Posted on: Sep 25th, 2014 By:
photo by chad hesss

L-R Jason Elliott, Ryan Odom, Bryan Fielden, Joe McNeill. Photo credit: Chad Hesss

Spirits and the Melchizedek Children have just released a new LP, SO HAPPY, IT’S SAD was produced by Benjamin Price (OutKast, Little Tybee) and has been receiving more than a little buzz from the music press as a creative breakthrough. Recently dubbed a “Southern Sigur Ros” by the A.V. Club, the Atlanta psychedelic dream-pop outfit is about to embark on a tour, but locals can get a sneak preview at a free gig at 529 in East Atlanta on Monday Sept. 29. 

ATLRetro likes what we’ve heard and heard just enough of a dynamic merging of  classic sounds that we made vocalist/guitarist Jason Elliott Kool Kat of the Week. In the last few days before SAMC’s departure, we found him happy and maybe a little sad, too, to muse about the band’s influences, double meanings and new directions.

ATLRetro: Some bands like to be compared. For others, it’s a limiting proposition. How do you feel about being called the “Southern Sigur Ros”? 

Jason Elliott: We were honored to be compared to Sigur Ros.  Adding the adjective “Southern” next to the Icelandic voyeurs implies that we may have a little bit more dirt and heaviness within our sound, which we do. While yes, I, in particular, am a fan of Sigur Ros, as well as many other dramatic, post-rock groups, the “southern gothic” undertones are also a very strong influence. The South is viewed by many as a strange and backwards place. That’s very true to some respect, but as a whole, the South offers little hidden secrets for finding ones self.

SATMC_SHIS_TourPoster_Fall14You have a diverse set of influences including — Steve Reich, Pink Floyd, Moody Blues, Can, Neu!, Eric Satie, Tchaikovsky, Brian Eno, The Beatles and Velvet Underground. Yet they all make sense because we’re listening to many of them right now. What binds those musicians and groups together for you? Is there a rediscovery/renaissance of mood-driven ‘70s  rock? 

History has and always will repeat itself. And today it seems that everything will repeat at least three times. People are dying for true innovation and mystique. While every generation has innovation and mystique, we feel that it is important to listen to timeless music so you can learn from those that have done it right. We strive to make timeless music and have little time to make a pop song that people will quickly like and then lose interest in what seems to be the same amount of time. We constantly turn back to the classics. Listening to the little things that were totally ahead of their time is a vital aspect to our listening habits and inspiration. Taking those little headphone treats and embellishing on them and making them our OWN.

What’s the secret origin story behind the band and what’s in the name Spirits and the Melchizedek Children? 

Melchizedek was something or someone that I had always heard about and looking more into the word,I found that it was quite endless. Melchizedek is talked about in all sorts of beliefs, religions, occults and books. And is always referred to as a “Holder of Keys, Keys to the Kingdom” whatever kingdom that might be? Who knows? It’s similar to the idea of Alchemy: there is no magic stone or secret formula that will change coal into gold or silver – it’s YOU! YOU are that piece of shit coal that needs to be turned into gold or silver. You hold the keys to whatever you desire. You just have to find away to use them properly, just like a child that’s trying to find its way. Or, I can give you the shorter answer. The word Melchizedek is mysterious. I wanted that to connect with our post-cryptic-quasi-cultist-mystique music.

Does the band have a mantra then?

YOU are here to save YOU

Slug Magazine referenced “the spectral folk of a doomed American West.” Is that something that particularly interests you?

Why? YES! That does interest us. I grew up out West and have only had seven wonderful years here in Atlanta. The West is a special place and seems to be very lonesome and wide. I think Modest Mouse coined the phrase by naming one of their best records THE LONESOME CROWDED WEST. That meant something to me. Moving and traveling all over the West Coast as a child, I had Always felt that certain Haunting that comes with vast, barren landscapes – always wondering if this was going to be our not-so-distant future. For me, storytelling through soundscapes and moods has always been the best way to convey that thought.

Photo 2 by Taylor Mumford

L-R Jason Elliott, Bryan Fielden, Ryan Odom, Joe McNeill. Photo credit: Taylor Mumford

SO HAPPY, IT’S SAD is a double-edged title. What’s the story behind it?

It was shortly after we had released our first record WE ARE HERE TO SAVE YOU! I was taking some time off to travel with my young son. We found ourselves in the middle of the Salt Flats on the Nevada/Utah border. I was very excited to introduce this part of the country to my Son. I had been to all of these places before, but wanted to experience the ever cherished “first experience” of anything magical. My son’s reaction to the barren beauty that day in the desert was something that I wanted to take note of. Experiencing his “first time” made me happy, then quickly realized that it also made me sad. I had spent so much of my life ignoring the simple things around me. Instantly I saw that my surroundings were everything. Here we were in the middle of nowhere, alone and silent. The beautiful emptiness filled us completely with memory and thought. At that very moment Amanda Emmo captured this experience in a simple photo of my son and I conversing with one another which later became the beautiful record cover of SO HAPPY, IT’S SAD.

Tell us a little more about the new release. How does it build upon your previous work? 

Our songs and sound have matured so much over the years. After writing and playing our new tunes live for a bit, we were able to really study what we needed to change and develop as a band. The first record was a introduction to what we wanted to sound like and gave ourselves enough room to grow. By the time we were ready to record SO HAPPY, IT’S SAD we were almost a totally different band. Band members had changing and we had a different outlook on what we wanted. Without straying too far from our haunted melancholy undertones, we were able to really look deeper into our songwriting capabilities. We had more confidence and knew exactly what we wanted our songs to do to the human mind and ear.

Jason_SATMC

Jason Elliot. Photo credit: Chad Hesss

What was it like working with Benjamin Price as producer? 

Ben is our guy! He got it right away. I have a hard time trying to explain my deepest thoughts, but Ben understood me through just talking with him and getting to know him as a person. All of us are Psycho-Naughts, and having him at the helm of our recording was a pleasure. We had our songs written and ready to track, but once we got in the studio we quickly found that Ben was a lot more than just some engineer that sets up mics and hits record. We all had the same mindset of wanting to make it a very spacious record, really capturing the overall theme of the record through depth and dynamics. Ben is a vital part in what we do now for sure.

Your Atlanta gig at 529 is on a Monday night, not always the best for bringing folks out. Why should they be sure to come out? 

Yes, Mondays are tough, But hey it’s FREE, We are leaving on tour the next night and two other great bands are playing, 100 Watt Horse and The Pauses. What the FUCK else are you going to do on a lame Monday night?

What other musicians/bands are exciting you now?

We are constantly listening to Do Make Say Think while driving to the next city. I’ve been listening to them for over 10 years and they never get old. The War on Drugs‘ new album is amazing and so is the latest Helms Alee record. We’re constantly trying to find new music. It’s hard to keep up. We try to listen to anything that is recommended to us while we are out. We love when someone comes up to one of us after we’ve played and ask if we have ever heard of a certain band, just to quickly tell us that we would really dig ’em because of what we sound like. Its a good way for us to get an idea of what people truly think when they hear our music.

What’s next for Spirits and the Melchizedek Children? 

Writing, recording, touring, REPEAT!  Our fall tour will be our last of 2014, so we’re focusing on a few projects to keep our momentum strong. Next year is already starting to map out very busy. We have a music video releasing very soon, and have been finalizing an original film score for a short by Raymond Jones called BE HERE NOW, which is a subjective take on the self-titled book by Ram Dass. We plan on releasing an EP as well.

Category: Kool Kat of the Week | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Kool Kat of the Week: Seventeen Years of Stompin’ and Stammerin’: How Jeff Clark Sold His Soul to Rock and Roll Journalism

Posted on: Nov 19th, 2013 By:

Jeff Clark, Editor/Publisher of Stomp and Stammer, costumed as Alice Cooper for the 2012 L5P Halloween Parade.

Happy Birthday, Stomp and Stammer! There’s no way we’re missing your badass two-day party this weekend at The Earl including Prince Rama headlining on Friday Nov. 22 and legendary soul man Swamp Dogg at the helm on Saturday Nov. 23. Here’s why:

Maybe ATLRetro ought to think of Stomp and Stammer as the competition–and yeah, we’ve been known to sneak more than a peek at their calendar when putting together This Week in Retro Atlanta. But I’d much rather call Atlanta’s independent rock music tabloid an inspiration and Publisher/Editor Jeff Clark a good friend and a kickass music journalist with a no-holds-barred attitude for telling it as he hears it. Sometimes that pisses off folks, sure, but with Jeff’s encyclopedic knowledge of rock from its roots to the present, we think he’s earned the right to call out some pretenders. I’ve joked a few times that I gave Jeff his first big break when I was editing Tuesday Magazine, what the features and entertainment section of Georgia State University‘s student newspaper The Signal was called way back in the 1980s. But I think it was actually my predecessor Brad Hundt. In any case, while I was lucky to have many fine writers back in the day, I stand by the assertion that Jeff was and still is the best.

In any case, Atlanta is damned lucky to have a great free music print tabloid like Stomp and Stammer, especially in this online era. While Jeff has assembled a mighty swell staff over the years, it takes the right pilot and a hefty dose of passion to keep something this awesome going for so many years. If that doesn’t make Jeff a Kool Kat, we don’t know what does, and we’re mighty excited to have the chance to ask him about his own musical roots, how he got into writing, the origin story of Stomp and Stammer, the killer line-up he has booked for The Earl this weekend, and when he plans to throw another of his famous yard sales.

ATLRetro: With your musical knowledge, we wonder if you were listening to a stereo in the womb. Seriously where do your musical roots start? What age and what did you listen to?

Jeff Clark: Hard to remember any specific moment or time, truthfully. I do recall having a little red transistor radio when I was a kid. It was pretty small, about the size of a juice box, and I think it only played AM stations. Back then there was a lot more music on AM than there is today, and I was significantly enthralled by the sounds that were coming out of that thing. I used to carry it around with me all sorts of places, and I think at some point I somehow attached it to my bicycle, probably with tape or rubber bands, so that I would have a radio to listen to while I was zippin’ through the neighborhood doing wheelies.

I used to crudely record songs from the radio onto cassette tapes, and make my own mix tapes that way. Keep in mind that this was early/mid ’70s AM radio, WQXI and stuff, so a good deal of the songs were from cheesy one-hit wonders and such, but to me it was the epitome of cool. I also remember listening to that little radio late one night, in bed, with the volume very low so my parents wouldn’t know I had it on, and you know how on the AM band, especially at night, storms, even at a great distance away, cause interference with muffled crackles and electric frizzle? So “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac came on, and with all the soft crackly static bursts punctuating the verses intermittently, in the dead of night, alone in my room, it was probably the spookiest song I’d ever heard. “Thunder only happens when it’s raining…” To this day, it’s one of my favorite songs.

A few years later, my older brother was going to Georgia Tech and ended up doing some work at WREK, the college station there. So I started listening to WREK simply because he worked there, even though he wasn’t one of the DJs. That was a major revelation, because that station’s always been so adventurously programmed. I heard all sorts of weird, wonderful music, some of which stuck with me and piqued my interest in the underground scene. I specifically remember hearing the Velvet Underground for the first time on WREK and loving it, although I’ve long forgotten which song it was.

Eye Candy, featuring Shonna Tucker (Drive-By Truckers).

Other memories stick out, like seeing bands on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE in its early years, when they actually had cool, interesting musical guests. Watching the local TV coverage of the Sex Pistols‘ US debut at the Great Southeast Music Hall. Being introduced to the Ramones by a really cool girl I had a crush on in high school, I have no idea whatever happened to her. Laughing at CREEM magazine. Seeing PiL on AMERICAN BANDSTAND, still one of the weirdest, most anarchic TV appearances by a band I’ve ever seen. The first really big concert I went to was The Who at The Omni. That was 1980, I think. After that it was The Kinks, Dylan, Zappa, all at the Fox, I think. Got a job at Turtle’s Records not too long after high school, and that provided another great avenue to discover new music, and meet fellow fans. By that point I was going to shows at 688, the Agora, the Moonshadow Saloon, etc, all the time, and there ya go.

Did you ever consider being in a band yourself? If yes, what instrument did you play or would you have played?

When I was a kid, like a lot of kids I would fantasize about how cool it would be to be a big rock star in a band that toured the world playing to millions of fans. I had an electric guitar for a while, but never really learned to play it very well at all. I know I should’ve kept at it, but after a certain point I realized I was better suited to channel my deep interest in music in other ways. Besides, I’m pretty certain I would write terrible songs and I’d have to give myself a scathing review, and then I’d let a bitter grudge against myself fester for months upon months until I physically attacked myself in a drunken rage in public one evening. And that would just be embarrassing.

When did you do your band interview, who was the band and when/where was it published? How did it go?

My first band interview was probably not for a publication, but an on-air interview for WRAS when I was attending Georgia State University, late ’80s. But I did lots of interviews for them, and I can’t remember which was the first. My first published interview was for for The Signal, the GSU student newspaper. I started writing for it after I was temporarily canned from 88.5 at some juncture. So my first published interview for The Signal was either Dinosaur Jr (Lou Barlow) or Edie Brickell & New Bohemians (not Edie but their guitar player, can’t remember his name). I hope it was Dinosaur Jr, because that’s at least cool, but then the first band I ever saw play was Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show (a terrible, hokey ’70s act) at Six Flags, so I’ve never really had the cool factor in my favor. As an aside, I started both writing and doing radio while at GSU, and I’ve pretty much consistently done both ever since.

Legendary soul man Swamp Dogg headlines Stomp and Stammer 17th Birthday Weekend, Night Two.

Ha, I think the first rock band I ever saw live was Paul Revere and the Raiders at Carowinds. You’ve watched the Atlanta music scene for over two decades now. What local band are you saddest to say had the most potential but never made it out of here?

There have been lots of them! For a long time, no one paid much attention to Atlanta bands. Like, on a national scale. In the ’80s Atlanta was overlooked because there was so much attention paid to Athens, and in the 1990s, the rap/urban thing started getting huge with So So Def and LaFace and all their acts, so that sort of became known as “the Atlanta sound.” You had exceptions, for sure, like the Georgia Satellites and Indigo Girls and whatnot, but I tended to prefer the more offbeat ensembles. Things like Opal Foxx Quartet, Smoke, Dirt, Magic Bone, King-Kill/33, these were all amazing bands in their own way, but I wouldn’t say that any of them were really destined for mainstream acceptance. Interestingly, in some circles Benjamin (Smoke, OFQ) has posthumously become a small scale celebrity. I mean, there was a multimedia dance performance in New York recently based loosely on his life, featuring Smoke songs. That, to me, is rather bizarre.

These days, with the major label system barely a factor as far as signing new talent, especially in the rock realm, most bands aspire to getting attention from Merge or Vice Records or In the Red or other established indies, if they have any label aspirations at all. Often a band can cultivate a solid following by releasing music themselves, putting it online, using social networking, blogs and word of mouth and touring with other likeminded bands that already have a dedicated fan base. It seems like the potential rewards are far less than they once were, but the ability to make a living playing music is actually more acheivable if a band is good, smart and works hard.

Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires will be be backing up Swamp Dogg on Saturday Night. Photo credit: Barry Breicheisen.

Anyway, back to your question. In the past couple of years, I thought both Knaves Grave and Ghost Bikini were amazing bands that certainly had the talent and potential to break out of Atlanta, at least on the indie label, fill-a-small-club scale if not greater. Both of them broke up a few years after forming. That sort of thing happens everywhere in every city’s scene. It’s disappointing, but what can you do? Bands are often volatile, it’s like a three or four or five-way marriage, and in many cases the personalities aren’t the most mature.

Before Stomp and Stammer, you were writing for multiple news venues, including national outlets like Details? Why did you decide to devote your energies to creating a damned fine local music zine instead?

I think it’s probably because it gives me the freedom to do what I want. I wrote pieces for a few national publications – Details, Raygun, Alternative Press, a few others. That was cool, but I really get more personal satisfaction doing the stupid stuff I do with S&S. That’s probably crazy, I suppose. Also, there aren’t that many national magazines covering good music anymore (meaning, music that interests me) in the print world, and at this point I’d probably make less money doing that anyway. Having S&S gives me an anchor that I know will be there month to month, and I don’t have to keep pitching stories as a freelancer to editors that don’t give a shit about Kid Congo or whoever I’m inspired to write about that day.

Also, for the most part, I hate writing. I do it because I can, and I’m not bad at it, and I’m writing about things that interest me. But most times I’d rather just be able to enjoy music without having to think about it. On the other hand, I have a lot of strong opinions (who knew?) and writing certainly allows an outlet for them. And that’s another thing – I don’t know of a national publication that would let me say some of the things I say. Everyone’s so fucking afraid of offending somebody.

Prince Rama headlines Friday night of Stomp and Stammer's 17th Birthday Weekend.

How did Stomp and Stammer get started? It must have been challenging paying print costs in the beginning, but then you already had a long rolodex of contacts in the music industry and local scene to hit up for advertising.

My friend Steve Pilon started it with me in 1996. Both of us were working at 99X at the time, and we were sort of in charge of putting together this little free monthly music magazine they did for a while to promote the station and the music they played. In retrospect, from 99X’s perspective it was a mistake to put me in charge of such a thing. They did it because I’d been writing for Creative Loafing for several years; therefore, in their minds, I knew how to put together a free magazine. I had no idea what I was doing. Shortly after 99Xpress started in early 1995 I got Steve the job of doing the layout for it. He and his wife had a record label at the time called Long Play Records, they put out Smoke, Opal Foxx Quartet, Big Fish Ensemble, a few other acts, and Steve did the design work for the CDs. Anyway, basically we used that year to experiment and put all sorts of silly things in the 99X magazine, some of which included mocking some of the acts they were playing, which was clearly a mistake and I’m sure ultimately contributed to my dismissal from the station. But we learned how to plan issues, and layouts, and deal with advertisers, and PR people, distribution locations, etc. We learned how to make a magazine.

So it was Steve’s idea to start Stomp and Stammer. He was the publisher, I was the editor. At first it was just an online zine. This was, I think, April 1996. I guess it was sort of ahead of its time, in that respect, so ahead of its time that we found it incredibly difficult to find anyone willing to pay for advertising in an online-only music magazine. So in November ’96, the first print edition came out. I think it was a mix of Steve’s and my contacts in the local scene as well as national labels that allowed us to have a pretty solid advertising base from the get-go. Steve left the fold a few years later to focus on other, more lucrative endeavors. Delusionally, I opted to stick it out. And while everyone tends to treat me as if I AM Stomp and Stammer, we have many talented writers, designers, photographers, distributors, advertisers, etc contributing to every issue, and they deserve a huge chunk of the credit for keeping the operation going.

White Woods is on Stomp and Stammer's Friday night line-up.

Why do you still distribute printed copies of Stomp and Stammer versus going online only? And it’s free, too. Is it challenging staying print in an online world?

As far as getting advertising and paying printing costs, that’s always a challenge. I’ve gone through some extremely lean patches at times. Why do we still distribute printed copies? I guess I’m old fashioned. And I think there’s still a significant part of the population that enjoys picking up such things at the record store, or reading while they eat their burrito, or while they’re at the bar, or taking a crap or whatever. There are certain qualities that printed matter can provide that online cannot. Everyone and their mother has a blog nowadays, and I just don’t know if I’d want S&S to just be another one cluttering up the internets. Instead, we’re killing trees and cluttering up the window ledge at Eats. I’ve found it extremely hard to make any significant advertising profit online, then again printing costs are crazy and keep rising. Is one way better or worse? I don’t know.

You have some pretty killer and also diverse line-ups for both nights of Stomp and Stammer birthday shows. Did you have any particular goals in the kind of music/musicians you wanted to include?

I always want to put on a great show and showcase bands that we’re really digging, especially new local bands. If possible, I also like doing things that are a bit out of the ordinary, like people that have never played Atlanta or if they have, then not in a long time. So that usually entails bringing in acts from out of town. Some years I’ll just stick with local bands to keep costs lower, but this year I decided to go for broke and fly in a few headliners that wouldn’t have played here otherwise, and that I think really need to be seen and experienced. I also don’t like repeating myself, so every year I try to get bands that have never played our birthday shows before. And I like to mix up genres a little bit, not just do the same sort of thing.

Zoners play Friday night. Photo Credit: Bobb Lovett.

Can you tell our readers a bit about the different acts and what makes them special? Anything else you’d like to make sure they know in advance?

Well, as far as the first night (Friday, Nov. 22), Prince Rama are just one of the most creative, fun, strange, fascinating bands I’ve heard or seen in the past few years. They are two sisters in their 20s who grew up in rural Texas and in Florida in a Hare Krishna community, and now they are based in New York. They have really interesting, inventive ideas about music, art, film and fashion, and they combine all of it together with Prince Rama. Their current music is sort of an amalgmation of dance music, psychedelia, pop and various ethnic sounds from cultures the world over. And they are just really cool people.

Zoners are a fairly new Atlanta band on the scene that look like a bunch of misfits tossed together but have a really tight, punchy pop-punk sound. Catchy original songs, and they cover the Dickies and 999, and that works for me! White Woods is Julia Kugel of the Coathangers. She’s put out two White Woods singles on Suicide Squeeze but has never played a White Woods show ’til now. She’s put together a band including Matt from Zoners. I don’t know exactly what it will be like, but I’m certain it will be wonderful.

Sodajerk opens Saturday night of Stomp and Stammer's 17th Birthday Weekend.

The next night, Saturday, Nov. 23, we have Swamp Dogg playing what he says is his first show in Atlanta, even though he recorded and produced at studios in Macon, Muscle Shoals and elsewhere in the South throughout the ’70s. He’s a really great soul singer, but his material is a bit more off-the-wall than most of his peers. He’s a funny, wacky character who says “motherfucker” a lot, has tons of stories to tell about his life, and is enjoying a significant comeback this year with the re-release of much of his back catalog via Alive Naturalsound Records. His backing band will basically be Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires, a gritty, raw, powerful, working class outfit based mainly in Birmingham although Lee himself lives in Atlanta. The Glory Fires also recorded for Alive, but I found out Lee was a big Swamp Dogg fan after he and the Glory Fires recorded a version of “Total Destruction to Your Mind,” probably Swamp’s best known song. So a few issues back, I had Lee interview Swamp for S&S, and that turned out so well I thought it’d be cool to take it one step further and have his band and Swamp Dogg collaborate on some shows. They’re also playing together in Athens at the 40 Watt the night before our show.

Speaking of Athens, the Drive-By Truckers are certainly one of Athens’ more popular bands of the past decade-plus, and that’s where Shonna Tucker cut her chops for many years. Now she’s doing her own thing with her band Eye Candy, featuring fellow ex-DBTer John Neff and other longtime Athens players. They have a debut album just out called A TELL ALL, which to my ears combines the sound of prime Muscle Shoals, classic Nashville country and ’70s AM radio playlists. I’m very pleased to have them on our bill this night. Opening the show will be Sodajerk, an Atlanta four-piece who haven’t been playing much lately so I was happy to find out they could do the show. They specialize in loud, crunchy, concise redneck rock ‘n’ roll, perfect for fist-pumping and PBR-pounding.

Jeff Clark (center) channels SCARY MONSTERS era Bowie for the 2013 L5P Halloween Parade.

I honestly think these are really strong lineups, and even though they may not be household names, I stand behind every one of these bands and I guarantee these shows are gonna be a blast. I hope you and your readers come out and make party with us!

Finally, we’ve gotta ask, when is your next yard sale?

Next spring. April. Hopefully on one of the first beautiful Atlanta springtime Saturdays of the season.

Creative Loafing just ran a nice little piece on Jeff, too. Check it out here

All photos are courtesy of Stomp and Stammer and for promotional use only.

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Kool Kat of the Week: Kickin’ It Out, Looking Tough with Jet Terror at the Star Bar’s NYC Punk Tribute Fri. July 27

Posted on: Jul 25th, 2012 By:

Jet Terror. Photo credit: Widdi Turner.

Think you are or ever were a punk rocker? The Star Bar is throwing a NYC Punk Tribute Night Fri. July 27 with some of Atlanta’s finest garage and punk bands headlined by none other than  Jayne County & The Electrick Queers and also including The Forty-Fives ( doingMC5 songs), The El CaminosRandy Micheal and the Sharp Dressed Lads and Ghost Bikini . They’ll be performing songs by the New York Dolls, Blondie, Ramones, MC5 and more that started a rock revolution in the early-mid 1970s before the Sex Pistols ever spiked their hair. Unfortunately too many  performers of that era have left this plane including a majority of Ramones and NY Dolls, but Atlanta is fortunate to be  home to the queen of Max’s Kansas City, Jayne County. Since we interviewed Jayne last October (catch up with that Kool Kat here), we decided to turn to Jet Terror, an Atlanta punk legend in his own right as one of the founding members of the recently resurrected and still refreshingly raunchy Dead Elvis (Ed. note: fellow band member Derek Yaniger designed the ATLRetro logo; read an interview with him and catch up some more on the history of Dead Elvis here.)

The last time I interviewed Jet was for Maximum Rock n Roll, the best newsprint hardcore punk zine ever (and still thriving on the Web here), along with the rest of Dead Elvis – Derek, Kevin Rej and Chris Mills, in Chris’s Grant Park living room. Let’s just say there was a lot of…er…colorful language. A few years later, Jet left Atlanta for San Francisco, so it’s great to see him back roughing up the Atlanta music scene. If you didn’t get to Greenwich Village in the 1970s, this Friday night is sure to be the next best thing…

Why a 1970s NYC Punk Tribute Night in 2012?

Well, we just want to celebrate the music of that era and give people a real taste of what it was like. It was really Jayne’s idea, and I put it together with the Star Bar’s help. We wanted to create an event, not just a show. It will be fuckin’ great.

Jayne County and the Electrick Queers. Photo credit: Jeff Shipman.

Is the show going to mostly be covers?

Yeah it will be a lot of covers of bands like, Ramones, Dead Boys, New York Dolls, MC5, Velvet Underground and so on. Each band may do an original or two.

Other than Jayne County, what are the three must-know performers/bands of that era in your opinion and why?

Iggy and the Stooges, Ramones, New York Dolls. If you have to ask why, go to YouTube.

How did you meet Jayne County?

I met her through my girlfriend’s business partner Tim Scott. She was wanting to play some shows and we clicked.

What’s the back story about the Electrick Queers? I understand they were first formed because Jayne needed a back-up band for a gig she had at a PAWS Atlanta fundraiser?

Basically we formed to support her on that gig, but always had planned to move forward as her current band. Here we are four years later. It’s been a blast and getting better all the time.

Any chance of a Jayne County and the Electrick Queers recording in the future?

We just recorded two brand new songs that we wrote with Jayne, and they came out very strong. She and I are always throwing around ideas and are working on more new songs currently with the band. She’s the most dynamic person I’ve ever played with.

Jet Terror. Photo credit: Jeff Shipman.

What’s up with Dead Elvis? Any more gigs planned this summer/fall?

Hey, Dead Elvis has been around for 27 years now. We never expected we would still be playing in 2012. To answer your question, I don’t know. We don’t plan it; usually some show is presented to us, and we figure we can go onstage and destroy it one more time for fun. It’s all about having fun acting like immature beer-swilling punks.

You relocated to San Francisco for a long time. What made you return to Atlanta?

Yep, I lived in San Francisco for most of the Nineties. SF is still just as much home to me as Atlanta is. I came back to Atlanta in 2000, mainly because of some family health issues, and I was also looking to form my dream band. Luckily I did meet the right guitar player (Jim Wright) and the right guys and formed The Evils.  We’re playing The Star Bar on August 24.

I hear you’re doing some work with WWE. Can you tell us about that?

I work full time for the WWE world television tour for the show’s MONDAY NIGHT RAW and SMACKDOWN. I’m the Stage Manager. I’m responsible for getting our show built, run and loaded out. I manage about 150 people a day and 14 semi trucks of gear. It’s a big crazy job. I’m on a plane twice a week to somewhere in the U.S., Canada or Mexico.

What else are you up to?

I have a wonderful girlfriend (Jen [Belgard of Libertine, and ATLRetro contributing writer]), a German shepherd, a crazy terrier and three cats. They keep me pretty busy when I’m home. Also, I’m working on buying a bar with my business partner.

Any other personal interests of note?

Yes, I love my 1947 Chevy Rat Rod truck and my Triumph Bonneville motorcycle. My favorite bands: Elvis, The Stooges, MC5, Motörhead, Eddie Cochran, Hank Williams Sr., The Kinks, etc. etc…

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Life Goes On for Murray Attaway as Guadalcanal Diary Rises Again 30 Years Later at Smith’s Olde Bar

Posted on: Jun 30th, 2011 By:

Photo courtesy of Guadalcanal Diary.

I see life like a mirror
And I see life so much clearer

We move so quickly
Who knows where the time goes
Where does this road lead?
No one knows, no one knows

-Excerpted lyrics from “Litany” by Guadalcanal Diary (2 x 4, 1987)

Back in the early ‘80s when alt-rock was still called post-punk or new wave and relegated to the ghetto of college radio, Athens seemed to grab all the cutting edge music glory in Georgia. While many music critics liked to insist Guadalcanal Diary came from that scene (their first LP was on Danny Beard’s DB Records, which while based in Atlanta, was known for breaking out The B-52s), the band actually hailed from Marietta, proving something much more innovative than the Big Chicken could hatch out of what’s often thought of as Atlanta’s most white-bread suburb.

It doesn’t seem like it could possibly have been three decades ago when they first got together to play a friend’s backyard wedding, but it’s mighty good to hear that Guadalcanal Diary, who broke up in 1987, are back and performing live, if only for two shows. The first was at AthFest last weekend, and rumor has it that the second at Smith’s Olde Bar is already sold out. Yeah, it seems like there are plenty of folks who miss hearing the voodoo jangly twang with an offbeat sense of humor of “Watusi Rodeo”—the name of their first EP released in 1983 (Entertainment on Disk) and later a song on the WALKING IN THE SHADOW OF THE BIG MAN LP (1984) released on DB Records and produced by Don Dixon (REM, Smithereens). Back then MTV’s CUTTING EDGE, the go-to late night show for progressive content, named the video for “Watusi Rodeo” its video of the year. They’d go on to cut three more albums, and even after they broke up, thankfully they’d occasionally reunite every once in a while for a show and even cut a live CD, GUADALCANAL DIARY AT YOUR BIRTHDAY PARTY, in 1998.

In more recent years, lead singer/guitarist Murray Attaway recorded a memorable solo album, IN THRALL, and lately he’s been performing again with Guadalcanal Diary guitarist and oft co-composer Jeff Walls in Bomber City. Walls has popped up in a variety of bands including Hillbilly Frankenstein, Dash Rip Rock, Southern Culture on the Skids, Man or Astro-Man? and The Woggles. ATLRetro caught up with Murray to find out why Guadalcanal Diary decided to regroup this summer and what’s ahead for him, Walls and the band…

You were one of the bands that converted me to a whole different way of looking at music, listening to WRAS in the early 1980s. It’s great to hear you guys playing again. What inspired you to bring the band back this summer?

That is very kind of you. The advent of social networking had a hand in the reunion. I had quite a number of music people, promoters and such contact me over the last few years asking if I had plans to do any more music. This led directly to Jeff and I starting Bomber City. As 2011 drew near, Jeff, Rhett, John and I began to discuss the possibility of doing a few Guadal shows to commemorate our 30th anniversary. And here we are.

Is it the whole original line-up—you, Jeff Walls, John Poe, Rhett Crowe?

Yes, we’d never consider it otherwise.

For those too young to remember, briefly how did Guadalcanal Diary get started and why the name?

Jeff and I had been writing songs together on and off for years, and we wanted to play them live. We both had been in a band called Strictly American with Rhett’s brother Curtis Crowe of Pylon, and John and Jeff were in a couple of bands together as well, The Motive and The Rooms. Rhett and I were a couple at the time and she wanted to learn to play bass, which Jeff taught her. The original idea involved doing a number of Civil War ballads all rocked up, but, thankfully, our originals sunk that idea. The name, taken from the Richard Tregaskis novel, seemed ambiguous enough to work creatively under. Plus, it sounds like water.

Who were your early influences? In an old Spin interview, you mention XTC, Bowie, Velvet Underground, Roxy Music but also old country like George Jones?

Yes, there are quite a few older country artists I like: Hank Sr., Johnny Horton, Buck Owens. Big list. Also Yes, Tull, Eno, Beatles, Stones, Miles Davis, Wynonie Harris. This could take days…

“Watusi Rodeo” is your best-known song, but what’s your personal favorite and why?

I like that song. I also like “Litany,” “Trail of Tears,” “Ghost on the Road,” “Vista” and “Pretty Is As Pretty Does.” “Litany” came along at a very happy time in my life, and I think the song reflects it. I hope.

In an interview from 1993, you were asked whether you had any regrets about breaking up in 1989 but you said that while you were possibly poised for the kind of mainstream success that Soul Asylum had, you were happy the band didn’t push it until you were burnt out and no longer friends. How do you feel about that now, or are you sick of answering that question?

Did the interviewer ask me specifically about Soul Asylum? I was only peripherally aware of them, so I’d be surprised to know that I compared Guadal to them. I am still happy that things turned out the way that they did. I don’t like the idea of comparing one group’s success to another’s. Guadalcanal Diary’s original goal was to be able to headline 688 on a Friday night. We went a little further, happily. I’m pleased with the body of work we left. I’m even more pleased that we are still good friends.

You’re often more associated with Athens than Marietta. Was the gig at AthFest a bit of a coming home?

Yes indeed. No matter how much we may have bitched early on about differentiating between us and Athens, Athens became Guadalcanal Diary’s home. So Athfest was great, certainly a homecoming.

Any special plans for the Smith’s Olde Bar show?

Yes, to top the performance at Athfest.

When will we hear Guadalcanal Diary live again or a new recording?

No plans, but either is possible.

What’s up with Bomber City and are you collaborating with Jeff on anything else?

After a personnel change last year, we’ve been rehearsing steadily and are ready to play live again. First show is July 30 at The Melting Point in Athens.

Are you up to any more solo work or anything else musically right now?

Between Guadal and Bomber City, and a startup company that I’m a partner in, my hands are full. Jeff’s the one who’s in four bands at a time, plus producing. I think he takes lots of vitamins.

What’s your favorite Atlanta used record store and why?

Wax n’ Facts.  Danny Beard put out our first LP, and he’s also a relative by marriage. Plus great selection.

What question do you wish someone would ask you but they never do, and what’s the answer?

I wish someone would ask me why I like peanut butter and dill pickle sandwiches. Because they’re crunchy, sweet and sour.

 

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