Tuesday, August 31, 2010

THE RACIAL ETHICS OF A GHOSTBUSTER


In 1984 came a hit (now cult) film that spawned a sequel, a cartoon, a hit single and a slew of quotes that are never forgotten.

GHOSTBUSTERS is a great film but....where and why does the 4th Ghostbuster; Winston Zeddemore enter the films plot?

When we (or at least I) think of the Ghostbusters you've got Egon, Ray and Peter Venkman. A Google image search will bring up the same trio... and then about halfway through the film, due to what can only be a lack of ethnic diversity...Winston Zeddemore shows up, gets a job with the Ghostbusters and then delivers about three lines during the time the camera decides to focus on him.


I was thinking about this a few days ago, and what I would do if I were to remake Ghostbusters now. Would I choose to bring in Winston at the start? Would I stick to the original plot or would I just have all ethnic quotas filled right from the start. The trouble is, to do any either way is to me a way of patronising "positive discrimination".

Personally I think I'd get Chris Rock to play the part so we get a full Afro-American represent. here are some suggested lines for him:

"Stay Puft! What is it with you white-boys gotta have a white bad guy to kill the brothers".
"Don't cross the streams white-boys. That's what white boys do, you - who are white and I am not".
"I am black, my skin is black, all of yours is white, therefore I will point this out every few seconds".

etc.

Extreme Ghostbusters had all of their bases covered:


A little wheelchair fella, A goth girl, a stoner, token black guy and a slimer. Sorted. Next?


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Friday, August 27, 2010

SATANIC SURFERS - The essence of Skate-Punk.

Many of you who read my posts will know that I often mention Sweden's SATANIC SURFERS in my lists of bands who I consider to have exactly the right ideas, ethics and attitude. Up there with Fugazi as far as I am concerned.

I will write a bit about the band today as a continuation into my bands who are not appreciated as much as they should be - although Satanics did get a huge underground following.


Myself and my clicks discovered Satanic Surfers in the mid-90s. As far as our musical tastes had gone, the early 90s had brought us grunge, which had it's roots and crosses in punk but never fulfilled it's purpose as it was quickly flooded into the mainstream and after that posed no interest for us whatsoever. When punk started to gain attention again in the music world it suffered a lot of the same pitfalls as grunge did. For example Green Day...we all know what happened there.

Satanics had released "Skate To Hell" which came to our attention. We were punks, and to boot we were skaters so this gave us pretty much exactly what we wanted. By 1996 they had released their first full album "Hero Of Our Time" which we all got pretty much the second it was released.

It was different from the earlier stuff, due in no small part to a line up change, drummer Rodrigo taking over vocal duties gave the band the perfect sound they had needed. The album was just perfect. My band I played for at the time (Mr.Zippy) idolised the band. We were from different backgrounds and liked slightly different things and this album filled every blank.


It was fast and thrashy, yet poppy. The lyrics were sometimes funny, sometimes political and sometimes social. When but up against other "punk" albums of the time it's a winner and still sounds amazing today.

This also turned our attention to Burning Heart records and the Swedish bands that were on that label. It was like a journey to Mecca for me when many years later I drove past the Burning Heart offices in Örebro.

Later down the line Satanics developed a more mature sound and style with their next two albums "666 Motor Inn" and "Going Nowhere Fast". But, with the release of Going Nowhere Fast, Burning Heart joined forces with the overlord of punk labels, Epitaph. Due to major label ties the band did something that would earn our eternal respect and left the label, going back to Bad Taste Records.

For the next album they once again changed line ups, getting a new bassist and drummer, moving Rodrigo to the front for vocal duties only. The band were pretty much everything we loved over their next few albums, Fragments & Fractions and Unconsciously Confined.

Now, the reason I mention Satanics in my list of bands that didn't get their full respect is that a lot of people were unfamiliar with their true nature. Due to the popularity of their first album (and people not listening to it properly) they were sometimes considered a punk-pop band, even here in Sweden a lot of people I spoke to about them didn't know that they were a Swedish band and instead thought that they were American. Scandal.


The truth was that by now they were deeply rooted in the more underground punk scene, just playing more accessable music. Lyrics were deeply socio-political and outside of the band members were involved in much more extreme projects. For example the band INTENSITY and PUTRID FILTH CONSPIRACY RECORDS.

I only got to see Satanics live once but it was a pure experience. It must have been around 2002 and my old band (Mr.Zippy - who not only covered a Satanic Surfers tune live but also considered playing entire sets as a Satanics cover-band) heard a whisper of a rumour that they were playing at the venue TJ's in Wales, about an hour or so away from us. So we jumped into our van and drove of, all the time trying to find information on the gig. When we got to Newport, TJ's was closed. We spoke to the owner (the dearly missed John) and he told us that they were meant to play but the show was cancelled, and maybe it was somewhere else tonight.

At least we knew that they might be in the country....it was worth the search. We drove off, ringing every one we knew within a 50-mile radius. Eventually we heard another rumour that it was in the town Bridgend, about an other hour away - so off we drove, looking round all the time for any evidence of a gig in town. After a search...we found it. At the small pub, The Tollhouse, they it was...Satanic Surfers, live!


We ran in and all of us stood up front for the whole show - a magical experience. This was also the gig (and band) that made me decide to grow my dreadlocks back. Glad I did!

Satanics final album "Taste The Poison" was released 2005 with yet another line up, although actually, the best in my opinion. They actually made a video...here it is!



Just listen to that drum and bass work (that was the new members) - it's awesome!

When the band toured in support of the album they played in Bristol, UK and Mr.Zippy was the obvious choice to support them. Sadly, I had left the band in 2004 and was living in Sweden so didn't get to be part of the experience.


In 2007 they called it a day. Just feeling that they had done all that they could do - the best way to go out. But there is a wake of fantastic albums left behind - I suggest that you all go out and buy them and listen to them in order and afterwards you can throw all your other records away as you won't need them.

Ex-Members are still playing - get your Googles on and look up the following:

ATLAS LOSING GRIP
SISTA SEKUNDEN
WE LIVE IN TRENCHES
ENEMY ALLIANCE

Any more? Leave a comment!

Friday, August 20, 2010

ACID REIGN - True Kings of British Thrash.


In the late 80s, in my care-free youth I was an extreme metal head, as were all of my friends. Thrash metal was the music that was most popular amongst us and probably almost every other rocker in the UK at the time. The "Big Four" were the coolest of the bands - Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. But being "against the norm" (as rockers were back then, not like today as I might add) we looked for more bands, the more underground the better.

With American thrash being super-cool it wasn't long before the UK started to spawn a bunch of thrash bands too. Toranaga, Sabbat, Onslaught, Slammer, Xentrix (who gave themselves the kiss of death by getting famous for a novelty cover song) and more. Around 1988 we discovered a band that make a huge impact on our lives (that still stays with some of us today).

The band was ACID REIGN and the 12" slab of vinyl was called "Moshkinstein".

Suddenly we had a British band that embodied everything we loved about all the good stuff with the American thrash bands that we liked - but with a really British feel and a sense of humour to boot. Great chuggy thrash metal with a punk twist of epic proportions. The UxKxAxC thing was awesome and a great thing to draw all over our school books. One of my favourite details of the back cover is vocalist "H" is wearing Descendents t-shirt (and this is in 1988).

Favourites on the slab was the opener "Goddess" and the epic "Motherly Love" - the EP was in fact a demo that was put out after AR were snapped up by Under One Flag (Music For Nations).

So, Acid Reign became one of favourite bands because they were as cool as all the big guys but had a lot of home-grown kudos.

The year after and Acid Reign were off touring with another of our favourite bands Nuclear Assault and released their debut "real" album THE FEAR.


Now, the band were getting quite a fair bit of attention in the music press, they were flying the flag for the British Thrash genre. Although they were nearly always pigeon holed as a joke band. They did a very good sense of humour, the Bermuda shorts and dress-up, a few jokey songs but mainly only as they were a great live party band. On record they were anything but. In fact although the record had a pretty punk production the songs were extremely mature and complex with some very relevant lyric subjects.

This album gave us the single "Humanioa" - there is even a video, here is it! The album even reached number 10 in the UK indie charts.



Remember this was 1989, and pretty advanced for the time. When you listen to it now you can hear a lot of the punk influences that the other thrash bands of the time just didn't get. And you can hear where bands like Municipal Waste etc get it from.

Come 1990 and the bands best release OBNOXIOUS.


This was a milestone for the band and UK thrash. A line up change had brought yet another level of complexity into the songs, and the lyrics became deeper and even darker, bordering on biographically honest. The tunes were intertwined with multiple layers, many changes, awesome solos and never outstayed their welcome. Sadly most reviewers of the time didn't get much father than the colour of the cover. Hello? It's called "Obnoxious"!

The logo was on the back of my leather jacket for years...probably still is if I knew where it was.

The album apexed and went out with a funky ditty just as if to say "you can't do better".

Many, many years after this album still stands the test of time. Acid Reign have influenced pretty much everything I have done musically since 1990, which was about when I started, so pretty much always.


I have since been lucky enough to have been in contact with some of the ex-members, mostly via a fan site I set up for the band back in 1990-something when the internet was in it's youth. I have even managed to work together with guitarist Kev when I roadied for Bullet For My Valentine.

Kev also played in the very jokey UK thrash band Lawnmower Deth who reformed for a few gigs recently. H, Acid Reign's vocalist made a few appearances at the show, mostly as his alter-ego "Keith Platt".

H now concentrates on his stand-up as Keith Platt while Kev is off round the world with various bands as a roadie. Some of the other members of AR hooked up with ex-Napalm Death growler Lee Dorian to form Cathedral.

Despite the growing interest in the old thrash scene and many bands getting back together, Acid Reign stand quite firm on not doing it...yet. Although there are some re-issues in the pipeline which will be a nice treat after so long.

ACID REIGN - never the worst of, always the best!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

NAPALM DEATH - Fathers of grind.


If you listen to the first two Napalm Death albums ("Scum" & "From Enslavement To Obliteration") today they are still just as awesome as the moment they were released, over 20 years ago.

This "classic" line up version of Napalm Death: Mick Harris - Drums, Bill Steer - Guitar, Lee Dorrian - Vocals & Shane Embury - Bass is about as close to the birthseed of pure Grindcore that you can get.

There is a wealth of discussion and argument over who was the first Grindcore band. There were many bands before ND that influenced them and many bands playing speedy thrashy punky stuff. Repulsion, Seige, Terrorizer, Extreme Noise Terror and many more. However the term "Grindcore" (And even the term "Blast Beat") was coined by Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris so this is where the argument for "First Grindcore Band" is settled. There were bands before that were the unformed pure matter but Napalm Death was the mutation that evolved.

This classic line up of ND have influenced more bands than anyone could count to be sure, and gone on to split into other bands (Carcass, Cathedral) that have been just as much as an influence. Napalm Death and Carcass transcend the boundaries of what is "Heavy Metal" and what is "Punk" to appeal to both sides.

If you are a stranger to early Napalm Death or only familiar with their later "Death Metal" sound do check out below.



Pure energy. Napalm Death were probably forced a lot into the media spotlight in the late 80s because of their extreme sound, they were tapped into by the BBC who featured them on a few TV shows:





And my favourite



OK, that's actually Bill and Jeff from Carcass but it's still awesome.

But this "mainstream novelty act" twist certainly shot ND into the public eye and those that actually understood and liked the music for what what it was certainly were turned.

Worth to point out that Napalm Death has no original members in the band today, and that the Classic line up I speak of were actually not the line up responsible for most of ND's most famous songs of that era "The Kill", "Scum" and "You Suffer". - these were on the A side of their first album which had a different line up all together (Mick Harris, Nick Bullen and Justin Broadrick) Sadly the originators of this whole genre are not the ones best known for it.

Napalm Death - worth the bigging up today!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

USE IT OR LOSE IT!


It's coming up to voting time again in Sweden and actually I thank that I am unable to vote because it gives my conscience a get out of jail free card. I wouldn't dream of having the ability to be active in my local/national political situation and not acting. But, as I'm not a registered voter in Sweden and am not yet allowed to be one...phew.

Why "phew"? Well....it's because I don't get it all yet, despite studying and reading up on everything, I still don't get it all. I even did a test recently to tell me which way I should vote and I ended up being somewhere between the right and the Pirate Party...which is everything I hate.

Click HERE to read my previous debunking of the Pirate Party's policies.

I know that according to British politics I am an Anarchist. But since that isn't a option I stand quite left, socialist yet neutral. I sympathise with the socialist (even communist) philosophy (on paper, in a way) but I don't see why everything has to revolve or be based in money and I also think that if you want to work more and get more that should be your right. I am poor because I don't work much, that is my choice and I'm happy to accept it because my life isn't guided by money like every politician seems to think everyone's is.

It seems to me that a lot of the more socialist and leftist parties in Sweden want to make a lot more strange rules and take away a lot more freedom...which I don't understand as it should be the other way round. Or am I wrong?

I love that the Swedish "Green Party" is in league with the Animal Rights. I love that the "Young Left" realises that the bratty-rich-parent over-class is the enemy (let's face it, the rich kids get all the breaks and end up being the next generation's bosses etc...it's a reason to fight). The "Revolution Front" has some nice stickers, nice ideas but seems to always have an image of violence along with it...

I just don't know which way I would turn.

Anyway, I do advise all of voting age to get more educated than I am and go out and vote...think locally and don't throw away the chance.

And read my post on the Pirate Party (again HERE) so when you see their campaigners out on the street you can tell them to get their head out of their asses.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

WELCOME TO THE JUSTICE ZONE




It's been a bit of a rainy holiday and right now I'm sat at home with the dog while my girl is away working, leaving me to watch a lot of television!

Never a bad thing, I've been watching a lot of "My Name Is Earl". I've caught it a few times on the TV but never followed a whole season - it's been a real treat, especially as I've been a fan of Jason Lee since his skateboarding days. For those of you who don't know, Jason Lee who plays "Earl" began life as a pro-skater before getting an acting break via Kevin Smith's movies.

Well, I came to think of the possible scientific and political implications of the "Karma List". How it might work in an everyday punk rock lifestyle actualy makes sense.

Karma - as most of you will already know is a concept based in Eastern religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism which is basically "What goes around comes around". In some belifs it might mean that is you do good in this life your next life will be better or just that if you do good stuff you push out some good energy into the world and you'll get that back one way or another.

Basically it's cosmic pysics right? Do good stuff and good stuff happens, do bad stuff and bad stuff happens. Every action creates and equal or opposite reaction. That's your basic Newton-ism right there. Or even further back with Archimedes - put something in a bucket of water and that much water will rise up. Push your hand through the water and the water will ripple. And so on.

Maybe in some odd way the universe works on some sort of electronic (etc) field and actions do have energy, since we can now measure the power of a thought...why not!

And so I came to think of the personal politics of your average educated punk rocker. It has been said many times by many people that the punks are the hippies of today. People that reject your regular society and live in a world that they have created for themselves. It is rare to find this in a community without it being a bit strange and even dubious but in principle it does happen and works.

Anarchy in it's true sense is the badge that most punks choose to wear. Those who do their homework will know that anarchy is not the actions of a drunken vandal that smashes everything (as the media would have us believe) but someone who lives outside of the rules that are forced upon us. No masters because in a perfect anarchic society one would be able to live without them because we would not need them. Everyone would be able to take their own responsibility for their actions.

If only Karma worked as it did in an episode of Red Dwarf called "Justice". In this episode there was a prison covered by a thing called the "Justice Field". Where if you commited a crime it immedietly happened to you instead. Displayed by Lister trying to set fire to a bed and catching fire himself.






Monday, August 9, 2010

The Watering Hole






Rob


Kat
Billy






What do they have in common? They are long-haired, tattooed, angry...they are also awesome but most importantly they are also sober.

For many on-and-off years now it's been a bit of a fight with the booze so what better to "admit" my problem and intention to stop than via my remaining public outlet.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Slow, Slow, Slow your blog


Well yes, it's been a week or so since the last blog entry. Why this? Well to be honest with you it's because I'm taking a bit of a step down/back.

Last week I finished writing my book (Second Place Heroes) that I have been at for years now, and we decided to lay the club to bed for a while also - leaving me totally without any future missions (apart from the forth coming band). And that actually felt kind of good.

I realised that since leaving my band back in the UK; Mr.Zippy - I wanted to retire from trying to be in a spotlight of any sort and just live a regular life. But somehow no matter what I did it was still geared towards "public consumption". That of course means work, maintenance and criticism.

The reason I gave up these things in the first place was to take a step away from the kind of people who try to be "famous" or a celeb just for the sake of it. I have no ego in that way and no desire to be in a spotlight so I really wanted to take myself away from it - and then I realised that I was writing a daily blog. OK, it's not the most read blog in the world but a good amount come by every day for a read and I found myself gearing my writings towards an imagined public. Once again.

So, I have decided that although I will continue to write, it will not be a regular as it used to be - hope y'all understand!

Until then, take my friend Dan's advice and go buy my book =)



CLICK HERE TO SEE BOOK LINK

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