Vinyl is done.
Thanks to everyone who ordered. Wanted to give a quick update about what is happening. The pre-order shirts and remix CDs are done. Vinyl has shipped from the pressing plant. Jerry at Phratry will be sending out the majority of the orders and we’ll be hand-delivering many of the local orders. Either way you should have your records soon… Very soon.
“Five-oh? Is Russell a *cop*? You know you have to tell me if he is, right?”
We celebrated Russell’s birthday at Quarter’s Rock and Roll Palace, screeching our heads off. Frendly folks, free PBR. Christine’s cupcakes to mark the occasion. Volunteer stacked up first, sliding little intricate melodic pieces into a sludgy soup of raw rock. The joy of workmanship.
Stage so small, I refused to stand like a trapped mannequin in one of those freakish animatronic windows, so I set up on the floor. Clear a path with my headstock, except nobody is ever rowdy at our shows. You all stand rooted to the floor. Get up, rise inside. Maybe if I scream loud enough to get through?
Russell throws up a profane gesture I shan’t mention when I announce how old he is, makes a terrible threat. We can feel our new songs congealing into surfacing monsters now.
Next, our lovely hosts, Body Futures, pogo about and strum their xylophones (?!?) in twisted rhythms. Somehow they shout and sing in harmonies with no monitors, shoving their songs back into my head. We eat pancakes and whatnot at an all-night diner, and go crash with Dixie and DJ. I find out later she played the show sick, and that’s crazy, because I couldn’t tell. (Thanks guys. Come to Madison soon.)
On the way to South Bend now, rolling through Chicago traffic, wondering about the provenance of “fish nibblers” which you can purchase in “sack” form at White Castle. Pretty sure I don’t want to know how they make chicken rings.
Refineries in Gary burning into the gray clouds. Pumpkin driveins and salt drivethroughs.
I feel like an old tree that has a huge bite ripped out of its side, like I’m missing something obvious. Anxious to play with two of my favorite bands tonight.
Blank white tanks and thin red drainage lines
Brown grass shadowed under rusted power trusses
Bent by a wind that gave up years ago
Empty cement towers stripped of old glass soul
Stand unsmiling behind indistinct graffiti masks
Stare straight through my artificial lungs
Buildings fade into forested dusk, yellow borne night
No workers needed except to sleep under the hills
Steel crops tilled under crumbling hopes
A disclaimer should lead off this section of the journal. I am, personally, a giant GIANT fan of The Rutabega.
So, yeah, anyway. South Bend area. We roll through a bunch of Notre Dame sportsball fans all parking the night before a game for a two-day bender. The address of Garth’s place, who hosts us so graciously, is wrong, and we stand on a porch confused, staring at a cross and tiny lawn cherubs. Later, I devour a chicken pile and break their toilet. Feel like an ass.
We shoot stories with Josh and Garth before the show, after overhearing them practice new stuff. (Oh, man.) Bonding over broken things and slow healing. As we drive back through Gary’s industrial wasteland, last night’s show feels even more like a dream.
CCR and cheap beer. Smoke in the bars feels alien now. I watch Josh set up their merch, and actual ritual with a candle and incense. Garth sets up his PA as we try to help the folks from The Paver drag gear around. Garth, man… he’s a sound man hero, his spine is made of dedication to music.
Openers 1001 play their first show ever, masked synth and guitar squeal noise terrorism, drums played with the angry precision of a pissed robot. Then we get to see The Paver rip it open again. They are in fine form, just like last week but I can hear them all better. They have a frightening, hollowing effect, and my stomach drops out during Trapped in a Meat Locker…
Then it’s our turn to set up, gearing together and locking the teeth. Howl until you’re an empty shell. Most folks back away slowly, but that’s okay. We grab a few people. I can never tell when we’re playing, it seems like everyone is just silently stewing, but maybe they’re meditation, hypnosis?
Here comes the sappy part. When The Rutabega cracks into Big Brother, I shout “No radio can drown it out” along and tears fly out onto the inside of my glasses. Emo headbanging. I feel the joy and the sorrow welling up in my skull, through my gums, behind my eyes and dragging back down my throat. I can’t describe it. You had to BE there. So now, today, I feel rebuilt. That’s all I have to say.
We’re crawling through traffic and I have no idea what tonight holds. Hopefully the Chicago curse on us can hold off and no gear breaks. The Ghost of the Tube Blower is still out there.
So much love.
Sunshine flickers under overpasses
No filter for the pride of falling leaves
Pull the ivy from your ribs
Dry the brown tangles
Leap and take the unbound bait
In the shining waters, ripples out
Before the frost forms over
Wrinkling into sheets
Stamp now, trample the slowing snow
Expose the roots and green glowing arrows
Point the way to healing paths
On hidden interstates
Blue graffiti birds on white. Livewire was fun, but kind of harrowing last night. After loading in, I stood around the corner from the place, having a sadly broken cell conversation with my distant sweetie. The moon battles the dingy lights of Chicago for air. I don’t know the right things to say or the right things to write.
First up at the show, Jap Herron slugged it out, big pummelling goofy riffs, to begin the varied insanity. Then we wound up and crunched the metal teeth together. I played with my eyes closed some, a strobing hot light six inches from my face, warming and blinding. Then the damned curse struck, and JB’s floor tom kicked it. But that wasn’t the ghost’s evil purpose; as Rich heroically leapt up onstage to help, the unattached stage front tipped backward and he slammed to the floor. But that didn’t stop him from wending through the chaos and fixing the tom. As we finished the set with The American Dream is a Lie, I jumped down into the crowd to scream in our friends’ faces. Then I only remember sitting empty for a while, drained and overheated.
Knife the Symphony set up, label friends. Jerry’s crazed, happy face makes me smile as he tries to turn his drums into dust. The dudes are even more precise and delightful dissonant shards than I remember. Mayor for Life wraps up the night, shooting pretty noise in melodic arcs, and ending their set with an energized cover of Scarlette from the last Unwound album. Rich still flings himself around the stage, legs like rubberbands, so people are shocked after when he rolls up his pants and shows a huge growing scraped bruise dripping blood down his shin from when he saved our set. Everyone tries to take the blame, and we all feel terrible as we go to sleep later, hoping it’s not fractured or broken.
In the morning, JB says the grapevine reports it’s not broken after all, but it was an awful thing, and we salute you, Rich. Rock star in so many ways, especially in that literal self-sacrifice. Let’s hope we can all dredge that strength up ourselves when it’s needed.
Headed home, we pass a long line of cherry pickers in a field. Forty of ‘em maybe, all raised up to the sky like fists of defiance. They’ll all rust, but for now… — M. Guy
The gray skies remind us of who we’ve been. Duluth drifts behind us and my brain feels whole, finally, after we cracked it the fuck open during our set on the tiny stage in Minneapolis. Elbow to elbow. Guitars banging into each other, brotherly freakout slaps of affection.
Dubuque was cool stone basement, emotional riffs traded between friends. Ryan Werner’s chapbooks give me weird stories to ponder later on the drive, and Young Indian’s riffs reverb around my head. Actual love in between guitar histrionics. It’s only wanking if you’re the only one enjoying it. Young Indian love.
Minneapolis, more heat and sweaty crowd. When I shouted into the dark, I could feel the veins on either side of my head like icepicks, drilling for pain between pulses. We followed the sharded angry noise of Buildings with our own builds of noise, and Russell ended the set draped over the drum monitor, falling over, mashing elbows and cracking up. As I tried to force my head back together, Self Evident blew minds with telepathic bubbling prisms between ‘em, splinters of pop riffs sparkling with fury. But the excited kind.
Last night, trying to sleep sober with a splitting headache was made difficult by Jason gulping snores like air was going outta style. I dragged my shit into the basement.
"I just shut it down. You’re gonna hit some dead spots." Shit, my butt doesn’t like these seats after about four hours.
Rolling toward JB’s hometown, through drizzle and turning trees. “I ate too many potato oles.” We’ve been feeding an unhealthy Taco John’s obsession for three days in a row, and hopefully my head and gut are okay with it at the early show. Lake Superior stretches out the window, vast and grey.
Sorry about the swears, ma. It’s not your fault I turned out so uncouth. I’ll do my calculus now. Tryin’ta get educated.
“Oh, so I’m eating YOUR taco!”
“Well, this is awkward.”
Lots of kids at the Women’s Federated Clubhouse. Before the show, chairs around the edge of a big funeral parlor room, complete with well-worn pink roses on green field carpet. Whispered giggling and hushed conversation.
The promoter opens, intricate guitar and then sampler hiphop with double-time verses we can’t catch. The Redettes next, and Jesse’s smile and joy are all contagious. I pogo and grin. They do this thing where the song falls apart, he’s intentionally dropping the sticks and fumbling his way around the kit like he’s blinded, and then BAM they click back in with a fury. It’s a great magician/musician trick, makes me grin even bigger.
We’re up, I string my pedals together on the roses, not sure if we’ll seem too loud or out of place. But we feel welcome, I flip out in the extra spaces, and our summoning just feels right. Bang my head so hard my glasses strap flies half off, then the rest, then the frames as I lurch and scream out past the arrayed faces. Afterwards, beer and avoiding a shitty cover band.
I head back to where we crash (thanks Nick), leaving the rest of the band to get up to no good in the bars, and end up chatting with Jesse and the loafers until late. Old moments, what makes a show really click. If it’s possible for a punk rock band to be TOO loud. (A: Yes.) We’re all excited for the second Thundersnow.
Glorious weather for the trip home, colors just starting. Crash a diner for eggs. “I got to hold a chicken last night.” Clink of ice water. “Yeah, man, that chicken was freakin’ me out.”
All the stories feel like tangled hair. The corrugated shoulder goes “heyyyy,” we’re already headed home, barely enough time to really start missing it. Goes in waves. Fuck, it’s time for calculus again. But I just want to sit and stare out the window. Wonder where all the drivers are going, like always.
We stop at a gas station and there’s a big plywood box spray painted hunter orange. Stenciled on it: “DEER HIDES FOR THE HANDICAPPED.” Russell says there’s one inside, uncured. Rotting. Flies. I don’t look. Maybe I can will us home faster. — M. Guy
Let It Come From Whom It May is the 7-song 40-minute debut record to be released on Cincinnati’s Phratry Records.
This is an opportunity for to be order the record ahead of time and get it as soon as it’s done. As an incentive to order now, we’re offering some cool things that will only be available during the pre-order: an exclusive T-shirt design, a remix CD-EP, and original signed artwork.
We’ll send you a download code as soon as you pre-order. The LPs will ship as soon as they are available, likely late-October.
New - Tyranny is Tyranny - Owned By Thieves
Disclosure, this is another one from the “we know people in awesome bands” files. Unlike most of the bands in said file, Tyranny is Tyranny does not hail from Chicago, rather from the chilly, cheese-filled, white north of Madison, Wisconsin.
Tyranny is Tyranny was born out of the disintegration of United Sons of Toil, inheriting guitarists/vocalists Russell Hall and Jason Jensen. If you’re paying attention to band names here, you can see the theme of some discontentment with capitalism. Breaking somewhat from their peers in the post-metal world, much of Tyranny is Tyranny’s lyrical content takes center stage in both their music and imagery. In fact, the second image on their bandcamp page is a paragraph of inspiration for each of the seven tunes.
The vehicle Tyranny is Tyranny utilizes to deliver their venerated econo-politcal viewpoints is expertly executed, dynamic and melodic post-metal. A pounding rhythm section carries a thickly layered, yet never truly sludgy, guitar sound. Hall’s vocal qualities are reminiscent of Scott Kelly’s in his ability to consistently inject tonality into his scratchy wails. While never quite as musically dark as Neurosis (and lacking their penchant for down-tuning), the Bay Area kings of the genre are the reference point I keep coming back to for the Wisconsin quartet. The band doesn’t shy away from dropping down to almost nothing for the purposes of dynamic impact, and while stretching to over seven minutes long a couple of times, the compositions engage the listener for the entirety, always moving forward and providing the listener with something to wrap their ear or head around.
Tyranny is Tyranny’s self-recorded debut LP Let it Come From Who It May is available for pre-order now. I think fans of any heavy, melodic music will be excited about this one. - MO