"I am falling down a hole. “Where your farts get dusty, and your bones get rusty.”
When I listen to these songs I’m peeled from the here and now and made to drift down through dark chunks of solid ennui that’re cut through with spasms of emotional fire. I feel myself exhaling all the oxygen in my body, inviting a rumbling darkness to fill my brain. I want to be empty so that the vibrations in the songs can take me–not just on the outside as they physically drag me into them–but also erasing the Me inside, replacing thoughts emotion and impulses with the songs own drives and passions.
I am falling down a whole. “Oh my god I am here alone.”
This music was carved out of time and space. Recorded/captured with the desperate ferocity of the last thinking survivor of the apocalypse, fighting a live or die battle against starvation. Eat the beast and live another day or lock it up as a message to the future. Songs like a bomb siren. A call to run away, a call to crash into the rocks and splinter apart.
I am falling down a ⚫. “Forget what I said life’s an illusion, it’s all in your head.”
If you fail at making music you make noise. Or silence. If you do that in reverse someone may be listening and discover your secret. If you fall in reverse you are flying. If you do it fast enough and long enough you reach escape velocity. If you keep going faster you reach terminal velocity. Play these songs long enough loud enough–I dare you to find out what happens next. The safest thing you can do is secretly pass this music to someone by slipping it into their backpack on the bus. Or through a gloryhole. But that’s not as romantic or as anonymous anymore without the physical parts. You COULD burn this to a CDR, go back in time about 15 years. You could put it on a tape, go back in time about 30 years. Will you? No. At least, make up a story about it. Make it something forbidden. How you heard/found this weird noise and it haunted you for days and made you feel unmoored, like you were falling or flying. How you started seeing shapes in the shadows and felt the music’s vibrations even after it was done. Remember seeing the dl code tattooed over your heart, and no matter how many times you scratched it out it always came back. Insist you can’t tell them where it came from, and make giving it the biggest performance you can (for yourself). Cry for them while you smile inside.
◯ ₳ ₦₩ØĐ ₲₦łⱠⱠ₳₣ ₥₳ ł. “We’re all happy dancing people, in some way shape or form.”
Michaelangelo he loved owning packs of kids, not cut for lost badgers. We were more saving a heirloom–does real survive? Always make anything–them carving difference–a music away for the parts of it they know. Chipping one sun just make guy city! Desperately, trees burrowing down: Build BUILD a wanting generation. Did be cabins die? Someday they would place we who are weirdos of same music made. We were preserving and unnecessary, and saved the sky records. Records for they of I CDR sculpture came from what These do … don’t do to? What matter said the body, said the kids who will tell you, above would come. Love that, from they and this, I and They thinking: they kids all would Woodsman. Forward the important thing he pay means music matter but hope. They happen where the protection is met met. Don’t art, cool?"-JRC
"I first met Ray Reeves in September, 2008 at a Thai restaurant on McDowell and 3rd street near the old Willow House. He was wearing a trucker hat backwards and a cowboy shirt and after I introduced myself to him he said "i'm Ray Reeves the second coming of Jesus Christ" and then he handed me a CDr wrapped in a photo copied piece of paper that had his face photoshopped over an image of Jesus Christ that said "Ray Reeves: The Wait Is Over" the CDr didn't have a tracklist but had extensive (and completely unhinged) liner notes. The next 2-3 times I saw him he handed me a CD with the same paper folded over it even though I told him each time "you already gave me a copy" he would insist "oh this is different" and turns out they were. Ray Reeves made 100's of these CDrs and each one had a different set of songs on them, probably close to 100 songs altogether (maybe more honestly) full of brilliant Captain Beefheart/Butthole Surfers/Suncity Girls style punk+experimental music and art.
Over the next few years I saw him play dozens of times and in many different venues, bars, laundromats, street corners...etc and even lived with him for about 6 months in 2009 at an old Seventh Day Adventists Rehab facility turned punk house that we called "The Sun House" Playing shows in was incredible, living in that house was an unforgettable and life changing experience.
Ray wasn't around very much but when he was the energy in the house was so big and electric and contagious. I loved it.
Anyway, here are the songs I could compile from the 2 remaining copies of "The Wait Is Over" that I have. IF you ever get a chance to see him live, you should. he is a real amazing human being that makes Arizona such a wonderful place."-Ryan Avery
"lADIES AND gENTLEMEN, i PRESENT - the huxtables!"
"I first heard about The Huxtables in the early ’00’s and being a super fan of Slow Gherkin, knew I had to find out everything I could about this band. I spent hours listening on repeat to the songs uploaded on their MySpace page. When The Huxtables opened for Slow Gherkin on a short west coast tour, I somehow convinced my parents to let me (15) go alone with my friend Derek (16) from Phoenix to Anaheim to see their show at The Chain Reaction. We stayed the night with my O.C. SKA message board friend Fil (who I had not met IRL yet) at their parent’s house. The early age of the internet was a wild and very trusting place. The trip was a weird and awesome adventure, my first out of town show, and The Huxtables did not disappoint. I definitely think I loved them mostly because Matt, A.J. and James from Slow Gherkin were in the band but Colt (the lead singer) was wildly charismatic and could definitely rival James as front man material. I bought “Fire Is Sabotage” at their Chain Reaction gig and had that c.d. on repeat till that same tour came through AZ - I needed to make sure I could sing everything. One more weird and awesome memory that comes to mind when I think about The Huxtables was a few months after these shows and a few months before his death, Joe Strummer was doing an in-store at the Zia Records in Tempe. I went with a friend and wore my homemade Huxtables shirt. When I got up to the front to meet Joe, he looked at my shirt and said “The Huxtables, I know them.” I didn’t have the heart to say there’s no way you know this band… but maybe he did?! Maybe Joe Strummer and I were actually their biggest fans.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present - THE HUXTABLES!"- Emily Spetrino
"17 years ago. Jesus."
"I remember cranking this music out over the course of a few days. I can remember just living and breathing music. Every fuckin day. It was so easy, before I realized you could never make a living doing this kinda shit. Through the years, we all grew a little more self-conscious, it was embarrassing to keep playing those empty rooms.
I started playing horns and vibes in Still Flyin' around this time. They were so much more successful than RPC, I couldn't help but be influenced by it. Why not be more commercial? Why not be more cool? More hip?
Well the answer is I didn't know how to be that. Oh well. This is a nice record of the time before I gave a shit. Accepting music as it came to me. Making music with my friends and then making some more. Driving around in a van and having fun. I miss it and I miss those dudes. Half of us were retired elementary school orchestra members, the other half just weirdos looking for something to do. We fucking loved playing music."-Gabe Saucedo
"From 2006-2008 I was serving a mission for the LDS church in Oregon. I wasn't a very 'good' missionary -meaning I wasn’t very focused on converting or teaching people about the Mormon Church and was more focused on getting to know and just help people and I also did whatever I could to stay sane, because looking back now... being a missionary for your church is fucking insane.
ANYWAY! In July 2007 I was serving in the small town of Estacada, OR. (Population at the time was just over 2,000 in a 60 square mile area.) And there were a lot of really cool/weird people that I got to know and help during my 6 month stay in that town. One of which is this guy named Walter Bartholomew (who I referred to as Walt Bart in my missionary planner and letters home)
Walt Bart was a retired truck driver in his 70s and had a huge hump on his back. He wore a cowboy hat and odd fitting black t-shirts that usually said something pro America or pro-guns. We bonded over a mutual love of live music and outsider art, He would pick things out of his CD+tape collection and we would go back and forth "have you heard of _____?" "Oh well they are like ______ and _____ and the singer is a ________ and grew up _____"....etc.
Since I was a missionary I wasn’t supposed to be listening to music that didn't invite "the spirit" which is a very LDS way of giving guidance that can provoke your own personal guilt to decide if something is 'good' or 'bad'.... its honestly really fucked up the more I think about it....
BUT something from Walt Bart's collection that I always felt good about listening to and enjoying despite this personal mindfuck of a rule was this cassette that he let me convert to a CD by a family polka band he saw play at a bar in Canada.
THE HAPPY WOODCHOPPERS, Walt Bart couldn’t tell me anything about them except that they were a family band that wore matching lederhosen and he saw them play at a bar in the 80s and bought their cassette tape. The tape was a hand cut piece of paper with their booking info and a wallet sized photo taped awkward on the cover. On the opposite side of the J-Card was the track list and list of musicians (thankfully I scanned both sides to give album credits.
It's all instrumental but these accordion players can really rip. And I love the fact that I can’t find anything about any of these people online now. If you happen to know more please let me know. And if Walt Bart is still alive and finds this, I hope you're doing alright, I cherished our few weeks together, talking about music and doing yard work for you."-Ryan Avery
"I’m relistening to Great Job’s “F-" with only a pint-sized space heater to fend off the shivers. It happens to be an exceptionally cold night in St. Petersburg, Florida, in an uninsulated garage apartment. But it’s easy to imagine that I’ve slipped back to 2009 and I’m hearing these songs live at Dry River on a desert-winter night. Tucson at that time hosted several great DIY venues, none of which had adequate heat!
And there were lots of rad local bands playing those spots, joined by an abundance of touring acts who appreciated the magic of Tucson or simply needed a place between Austin and LA to play and stay. The rent was cheap and friends were easy to make. For my simple needs, Tucson circa 2009 was the perfect place to be, and I can’t credit that to nostalgia because I knew it was true while it was happening.
Though sober then-and-now, I had one foot in the Tucson bar scene and the other on the DIY side of the line. Around this time, as I’d finally moved from fan to singing-in-band and sought an ideal atmosphere to not-grow-old, I figured out that those all ages venues felt more like home.
One of my favorite bands of that era that I never would have found if I’d just hung around bars was Great Job. Indeed, many other contenders for “favorite” were bands that members of Great Job played in! At that point, I don’t think I’d seen many bands play unamplified other than AJJ, and I may not have been aware yet that “folk-punk” was a thing.
I enjoyed all the lineups and iterations of Great Job. The period documented on “F-“ seems to be when they really hit their stride: wonderful songwriting, and so many voices with guitar, banjo, bass, fiddle, etc. all tossed into the playpen. I remember how much fun they always seemed to have during their sets, which made it feel more like a hangout I’d been invited to than a “rock concert.”
Some of their song titles were silly, like “Patrick Sway-Z Does Flips.” Sometimes they had (brilliant) covers/mashups, like the album finale “Teenage Wasteland.” Yet they also sang of loss, and mental health, and looking back/growing up. These elements comingled naturally, just like the different voices and instruments. Great Job were happy-sad, funny-serious, all at the same time.
I’m not sure how many times I saw Great Job before I talked to and eventually befriended them, but it was Tucson so of course, it happened! They even played a reunion set at my first bye-bye Tucson party (thank you!!). It’s been a joy keeping up with their projects in the years since, but Great Job will always have a special spot in my heart.
“When We Young” from this reissue is a personal favorite of mine that makes me feel as gosh-darn quivery as it did over a decade ago. Perhaps the emotions are enhanced by pandemic-era longing, but whatever the present or future may be, Great Job will always be a big part of the soundtrack that takes me back and follows me forward."-Mullarkey
"If you were involved in the southwest DIY scene from 2006-2010, you probably saw or heard Splinter Cake at a house show, basement or on a compilation alongside Nicole Kidman, Clark 8, or Andrew Jackson Jihad. If this is the case, you are probably only familiar with their folk punk-esque style, but there are so many sides to the brilliant artist formerly known as Splinter Cake and Snapped is my favorite of all. I remember hearing about this show at YOBS in Tempe, AZ where Kely sang and screamed over big band music in this manic/isolating sort of way. I heard most of the audience was NOT into it and left, but I feel like if I was there I would have been all wide-eyed, and studying everything that was happening. I remember thinking "damn, I hope Keli does that sort of performance again so I can see it, but out of the dozen or so times I saw Splinter Cake (all of which were inspiring and strange) I never got to see the jazz songs performed.
I asked Kely Dimas if there was ever another "snapped" performance and Keli said "I did the full thing once at the yobs show but occasionally played a track here and there lol" But thank goodness it was recorded. So I can listen to these 8 songs and daydream about how it went down over and over again.
Years later after going into another Splinter Cake rabbit hole, I felt inspired to organize the Unlimited Semiosis compilation on Related Records. Where all the artists added their own original lyrics over songs that were intended to be instrumentals."-Ryan Avery
"When Golden Arrow Holy Face performed at Trunk Space I was pleasantly surprised by his song writing, musical pacing, and the strength of his voice which reminded me of a more raw Leonard Cohen. I remember telling him to hit us up next tour, but then we never saw him again."
**NOTE FROM HEIRLOOM RECORDS**
I was not able get in contact with Golden Arrow Holy Face to get permission to release this album. I tried really hard and had multiple friends attempt to track them down as well. So... IF YOU ARE THE ARTIST AND YOU DO NOT WANT THESE RECORDINGS ONLINE ANYMORE PLEASE TELL ME. I will take them down without hesitation. I just really love this CDr I bought from you at that The Trunk Space and wanted to share it with the world.
Sweat is a bookmark for memorable experiences
"When you grind through an important job interview, sweat is there. The best sex of your life—you probably sweat.
When I think of my best nights at The Trunk Space sweat is just about always part of it. It’s not at all a cliche to the heat in PHX AZ is unbearable and will cause you to ooze buckets of water. However when you run a business in the wild side of town about half of it comes from the daily fear that you won’t make rent, that a noise complaint will shut you down, the speakers will explode, a piece of art’ll get wrecked, or some idiot will start sh*t and punch you out.
The other gallon of sweat comes from being packed in a too-small room with all your scene brothers/sisters/others sharing an experience that no one else will ever get and may not even understand if they were there.
Like a lot of ideas cooked up by The Good Shows, The Real Coachella was a kind of snarky gag, just trying to take the air out of overdone, elite bullsh*t like a $1,000 concert in the middle of nowhere. Coachella in the desert--that other Coachella--is a worldwide destination owned by right-wing scumbags who spend millions to make billions*. The Real Coachella was a big nothing that for a decade became an absolute highpoint of the AZ DIY scene.
My first thought is to say that the joke of The Real Coachella just got lucky and landed right. The truth is though The Good Shows put a lot of work into it. It wasn’t JUST a snarky gag, but also an elaborate Rube Goldberg Machine where all the parts have to work PERFECTLY to transcend their cobbled together beginnings and become greater than the sum of their parts. And more often than not The Real Coachella was that. If you were capable of withstanding the whole day event chances are you’d have your transcendent experience, both personal and shared.
Maybe you’d just have a good time, and that’s enough too—never underestimate the greatness of just enjoying yourself. You wind up going home purged of anxieties with fun memories in their place, tired, covered in dust, stinking of sweat. Good times."
~JRC, co-founder The Trunk Space
*Please do not ever go to Coachella.
"Bangarang just kinda happened."
"A handful of friends were all living at the Lime or Lemon House, which, during this time, was actually foreclosed on while we were renting it, with no notice from the landlord. My wife and I had a new baby. I worked answering phones for an insurance payment processing company, and the band I had been in for 10 years had recently broken up. I was just existing like you do when you're a 20-something college drop-out. Tristan was working at random restaurants, and had recently broken up with his partner, which I'm pretty sure is also what ended his band at the time. We've never actually talked about it, but I can only imagine he was experiencing all those "lost" or "just existing" type feelings.
Lime or Lemon House just had musical stuff strewn about, and we all messed around with different songs and projects. We had a laptop with garageband, but no other recording equipment, so we'd record directly into the laptop mic and just try to layer it.
One day Tristan and I just started playing "Both Ways," we liked it, so we recorded it on the laptop, we liked that, so we made a myspace page. Before we knew it, we were stencilling shirts and writing Bangarang over the stencil with quotes like, "Let's get gentle," or my favorite, "I've never felt so stupid in my whole life." Soon we had a few songs, and we were playing shows with a rotating cast of other band members.
I feel like you can hear what a whirlwind life was back then in the songs, not just lyrically, but in the "that'll do" attitude of the playing. Fast and sloppy and loud. There are so many little stories I can think of about this time period, this band, and the people around back then. It's easy to get nostalgic and remember the fun of your younger "golden years,'' when you listen to old records, but honestly it was chaotic and angsty and hard. I love some of these songs and memories, but I'm more grateful for the growth, the friendships, and lessons learned. "
"I am a philanthropist of the absurd. I can count on one hand the times I’ve witnessed transcendent absurdity in music or art where I knew I had to intervene with my time, energy and money. In the case of the band "Domestication Of Animals," I became aware of the work of the young bandleader Mooey Moobau (Joe Tepperman) in the mid 2000’s and realized he was creating art that was ground-breaking and ahead of its time. I made it a mission to help him unleash his music on the world ...within the scope of my tiny label and its modest reach.
The first time I heard “What Can I Say” it short-circuited my brain. It’s a perfect spastic seizure of collage rock (collage, not college) like I’ve never heard before. It’s still the sound of the future and I wish more artists were this inventive and interesting. “My Baby Loves Western Civilization” is another frenetic masterpiece that rewired my short-circuited brain incorrectly and I’ve never fully recovered from what it did to me. Warning: This music is very challenging. In fact, it’s so challenging I don’t think i’ve ever listened to the entire album, and I paid to have it released! For me, it wasn’t a question of its palatability, but of its importance to music.
Ryan Avery, a fellow philanthropist of oddball music has taken it upon themself to re-release this album on their own label, Heirloom Records and I’m glad they are doing it. They sent me a link to the album and asked me to listen to it so I could write a few words, but I refused to download it. Again, this does not mean it’s not a brilliant album, it clearly is. But just like I wasn’t ready for it in 2008 when I put it out, I’m still not ready in 2021. Come to think of it, if I close my eyes I can’t even tell you the title of the album from memory because it’s so nonsensical and strange. It’s something about ants, box cars and dogs, I believe. I’ll take a few guesses at the title without looking:
“Ants unpack the strange bottom fruits from box cars with dogs”
“Within the Ant box of unpacked fruits the dogs remain within their hot cars”
“Dogs dance to dream of boxes packed with dried ants and fruits”
I am proud to have been a part of putting this album out to the world and I'm grateful to Heirloom Records for taking the torch from me.. Maybe I will be brave enough to listen to it one day."-Ego Plum
"Aurora Borealis started out as a solo acoustic ska project that sought to very explicitly rip off Chris Murray. Uttering that sentence out loud should have been enough to be banished from any scene for time immemorial but the Mesa/Phoenix scene in the dawn of the aughts was more welcoming and encouraging than any scene in the known universe should have been. Maybe not the whole scene but at least the handful of people that would stick around to listen to Aurora Borealis sets between infinitely better local punk bands. I don't want to retrofit any particular importance on any of the tracks, Aurora Borealis was primarily a way to get into my more talented friends' shows for free. But as a kid with a guitar, a voice that could hit maybe one out of every four notes it tried to hit, and a sense of urgency to say something, "sheep" is a nice time capsule of a moment where it felt like there were a sufficient number of dumb and earnest kids trying to reach out to each other with our dumb and earnest songs. Aurora Borealis forever! LYCD forever! Fathers Day forever! Aladdin Posse forever! The Wiggums forever! 2000-2004 Arizona art-punk-ska scene forever!"-Ryan Wanttaja
2008-2009 was the most creative time in my life.
I think about this a lot and the circumstances that revolved around it.
I was 21-22 years old
I worked 12-15 hours a week as a delivery driver for a pseudo healthy southwest Greek fusion restaurant.
I lived in downtown Phoenix, walking distance from all my favorite music venues, art galleries and coffee shops.
My living situation seemed to change every 4-6 months. First living in a 900 square foot house from the 1920s with 3 of my best friends and a new born baby, we called it the Lime or Lemon house. Then squatting in that house by myself without running water and stealing electricity when the house was foreclosed.. Then moving into a rundown Seventh Day Adventist recovery center with a rotating cast of roommates who were never home and two adorable kittens named Troll and White Lioness, we called this the Sun House. This house didn't have A/C, furniture, pots, pans or silverware but it did have 3 floors and a door that leads to nowhere, (it was great for house shows.) Then I moved into the back of my best friends candy/record store (Sweets & Beats) which did not have walls or privacy of any kind. I shared this living space with my poor best friends and their adorable baby and a very muscular Boston Terrier named Taumpy. I lived there until I moved into the Lime or Lemon House again with my new girlfriend which we rented from the new new owner who ended up being one of the worst people ever (but that's another story)
The point of talking about this is to give context to the type of magical/creative mind set and life we were living which inspired us to constantly create and grow. In 2008 my friends Emily and Elle were trying to think of something they could do to celebrate their child's upcoming 1st birthday and I suggested we organize a comp of all songs written for and about him. Most of the songs were recorded in the Lime or Lemon house where we were all living and some combination of the following people are a part of 11/16 of these tracks
And it was just such a wonderful period of friendship and creativity and this is just one of the many records we made during this time that only a handful of people have copies of and got to enjoy until now.
Iggy is going to be 13 years old this month and it seems like he has wanted to be a teenager since he was like 2-years old., now hes probably ready to just be an adult. He has always just been so cool for his age, even as a baby, its so funny how often people would see and interact with him and just be like "holy shit, this baby fucking rules!" If you have had the pleasure of hanging out with him, you know its true (or you might be real critical like "psh, he wasn't THAT cool" and if you are that way, you're just fucking lying to yourself)
"I've always felt like a mama bear in our little PHX DIY Scene. My wife and I always offered up our floor to folx on tour, gave rides to kids who needed them, bailed out bands if they found themselves in some trouble & I loved hanging with little kids who found themselves in these spaces we occupied. So of course I was overjoyed when I found out that Tiny Pies (Griffin) and their friend Pat were still just kids themselves, when they tour through PHX and played at Four White Walls.
I'm not sure if I booked this show or just ended up there. But we offered up our humble (shitty) condo to Pat and Griffin after the set. I don't remember much about that night, but a couple moments stick out: Tiny Pies' cover of "Train In Vain" was incredible, they ended their set with it & I just remember being so excited to sing along with this crusty little kid to my favorite Clash song. After Griffin & Pat got back to our place Griffin asked if I could give them a haircut, it was just really adorable & I loved feeling like we were kind of mothering these two, making sure they were well rested & fed & cleaned up for their tour.
I assumed my brief interaction with Griffin would be just that, but I ended up running into them several years later when just by chance they came into this Record + Candy Store my wife and I opened (Sweets & Beats) right up the road from where Tiny Pies had played years before. Griffin was Definitely an adult now & I was pregnant with my second child while my first one ran around the shop. We recognized each other, hugged and caught up. IT was a really sweet surprise to see that Griffin was doing well. I haven't seen them since but I hope they are taking care of them self & if they ever need another haircut or hot meal, I'm on it."-Emily
**NOTE FROM HEIRLOOM RECORDS**
I was not able get in contact with Tiny Pies to get permission to release this album. I tried really hard and had multiple friends attempt to track them down as well. So... GRIFFIN IF YOU DO NOT WANT THESE RECORDINGS ONLINE ANYMORE PLEASE TELL ME. I will take them down without hesitation. I just really love this CDr I bought from you at that Four White Walls show and wanted to share it with the world.
"The most expensive car my family ever owned was a green, 2001 Hyundai Accent. It was a sweet, basic car with roll-up windows and working AC - a real dang treasure of a car. It must have been 2003, or 4, or 5 when I begged my mom to let me borrow our magical Hyundai to drive from Tucson to Phoenix. I was dying to check out SKALAPOLOOZA 3, an AZ Ska show Rude Ryan was putting on. I was a pretty responsible square of a kid (I was in my early 20s), but I was still a little shocked when mom agreed to let me go. I must have skanked back to my room with glee upon her approval. Yes, I still lived at *home and yes, I planned my best ska outfit with pompadouric visions of BIG hair.
*There is nothing wrong with living at home. In fact, bills are terrible. Stay home. FOREVER.
I enjoyed all the boring scenery on the drive from Tucson to Phoenix with minimal nervousness; hell, I was freeeeeeeeeee. The 2 hour journey took me deep into downtown Phoenix to a space called Phix. It was an art gallery operated by what I would now refer to as a "moody dad type." His name was Lee. #swoon.
The building had tall black walls that made me feel a little uneasy to be honest. What was beyond these intimidating walls and why were they so tall? My heart raced as I paid my cheap entry and got stamped in at the door, but a smile soon stretched across my face as I entered. There were pimply faced people decked out in checkers, chucks, and vintage everywhere. I realized I was among my people, Ska Kids.
I stood in the back in awe of my newfound heaven. A band named Fayuca was halfway into a Sublime-like set (no shade; I loved Sublime)(ok, some shade, why did we like Sublime?). I got the sudden urge to do a nice and easy skank to a sweet song they were playing. Dorkily nervous, I launched myself into the rhythm. It felt ever so nice.
Fayuca finished up and a band called The Dietrichs began to load in. I had heard the name "Dietrichs" a lot in my tiny ska circle and was ready to check them out for myself. The hot controversy surrounding the band was centered around the question, "Are they even a ska band?" Seeing them was partially the reason why I decided on making the trip. I was ready to officially hash out the controversy that plagued my ska heart for weeks. I'm kidding. I didn't really care. All my friends loved them and I needed to know them for myself (Hi, Emily!).
Load in took a minute as they had quite a few members playing horns, a gigantic keyboard, and the typical guitar, bass, and drums setup. The crowd grew larger as we waited. I could feel the energy shifting. Then the vocalist walked on...
She was decked out in a full look, head to toe. She looked tough, unafraid to stare down the crowd and ready to smack down if things got outta control. I felt nervous and excited just looking at her. It was clear there wasn't a single nerve in her body. She stepped up to the mic and greeted us with a simple, "Hi." The band immediately broke into CHAOS. Every member struck, blew, or pounded at their instrument like it was the end of our lives. Bodies moved, fists pumped, vocals GANGED and SHOUTED at the tops of lungs. It was happening. I was at a DIETRICHS show.
Sweat poured down my face as I moved along ferociously with the crowd in mayhem! We shot our knees up in unison during "Youth and Consequences." We pumped our fists and screamed the chorus to "Keep on dancing." We hopped and hooted along to "Let's go," and when Liz went full scream on "Human Fly Trap," my jaw dropped to the floor. I felt as if my youth had exploded with joy and intensity and launched my existence into another fucking dimension. This excited rage grew wilder as Steven (Trumpet and Keys) and Liz (Lead vocalist) manically performed the end of "Bats" with Steven convulsing on the floor while screeching "They're coming - baby baby - they're coming!" A silence fell over the room at the song's conclusion, then Steven shot back up to the keys to play the intro to "One Final Stab." We lost our shit collectively singing along "Oh yeah oh yeah oh yeah - alright alright alright." God. Damn. This band could play. This band could perform. This band could convince us that nothing else held any importance over what we were collectively feeling in that room. No reservations. No worries. A Moment For Us. I was floored.
Amidst all the chaos came a moment that solidified my lifetime Dietrichs fandom. The tempo slowed and the lyrics started, "My fingers trace letters carved in cold stone. I just can't bare to sleep in our home." Our arms locked together in the crowd. We swayed back and forth emoting along with Liz, "Goodbye, goodbye, gooooodbyyyyyyeeeeeeee all the sunny days always end in black." In that moment, I felt loved.
I'll end this lengthy memory with 3 additional memories etched into my heart:
1) The Betsey Johnson Fashion Show (I still have a photo of Liz's custom dress)
2) Seeing Dietrichs play the Marquee (We felt so proud)
3) The Balloon drop at the Violenlty CD Release show (Still makes me tear up)
I love you forever, Dietrichs. Thank you."
A MUSICAL TRIBUTE TO THE WORKS OF JIM HENSON AND THE JIM HENSON COMPANY
"Sometime in 2012 an invitation was sent out to DIY musicians everywhere to show their love for muppets and all things Jim Henson Co. related and record a tribute to the beloved Jim Henson.
I for one was thrilled beyond belief. Jim Henson was a hero to me growing up, as he was for many other odd ball kids of the 70’s and 80’s. Not only did Jim amaze us with lovable colorful creatures and mysterious and entrancing new worlds, he included extremely well written and catchy music to boot.
This compilation is filled to the brim with 50 beautiful to bizarre interpretations of music from the likes of Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, The Muppet Show, The Dark Crystal, The Labyrinth, and more."-Davin Abegg (Secret Abilities)
"In one way or another, Jim Henson projects have always been a part of my life, like any big situation that I've dealt with in life. When I learned about death, it was on an episode of Sesame Street when they explained to Big Bird that Mr. Hooper wasn't coming back. A week later, Lucille Ball died and I understood what that meant to have somebody you know die and be gone. A week after that, a woman who took care of me named Linda, to help my mom while she was working and taking care of three kids, had passed up. When is an awkward junior high are The Muppets in It Ain't Easy Being Green was a song that I connected to .when I was dealing with abuse from my dad, a movie that helped me through that was, oddly enough, The Muppets movie helped me through that. This idea of hoping that miracles can happen or things can get better resonated with me, I guess. When I went through a dark, broody stage, teen stage, it was The dark crystal and The Labyrinth. Even when I hitchhiked around the country, I would listen to on Spotify Moving Right Along.
So no matter where I've been in life, Jim Henson's projects have always followed me in essence. Then when I got into making music and saw, at least in the DIY scene, what felt like a considerable sort of Muppet show influence. A kind of vaudeville or variety hour theme that was everywhere. The more I met people in these scenes. The more I realized a lot of us were, in one fashion or other, raised by Henson shows. I thought it would be cool to have a bunch of bands cover songs from Henson Projects, seeing as so many of us had this shared love and appreciation of Jim Henson.
Without Jason Kron's help, though, I would have never got it off the ground. I talked about doing it for years. He got tired of me talking about and was the one he pushed it into a reality. It was my idea, but it was his drive that got it off the ground."-Troy Simons (The Hunger Artists)
"I am so impressed that this compilation got released. 50 songs by 50 different bands, and it made it out. Probably due to both universal love for muppets and Troy Simons’ friendliness. We had been playing shows with Troy and his band for a while, and we were all really excited at the notion of this compilation. Some of the best songs in the whole world are in muppet movies and shows.
Jim Henson inspired me to obsessively make puppets out of trash like milk jugs and discarded packaging as a kid. I was that kid who put on puppet shows for his classmates in 2nd and 3rd grade. Which evolved into dumpster diving to make weird monster puppets and costumes as a kid-brained adult. I think his work is really important, and I owe a lot to him.
I’m really glad that this compilation is getting re-released for three reasons. Troy worked really, really hard to make sure this came to life. But also, it’s a lovely time capsule of Phoenix DIY music in 2012. The magic of that time, for me, was the eclectic friendliness of the bands and the songs, and what better to capture eclectic friendliness than with the songs of the muppets? Lastly, anything muppets has always been about a bunch of misfits staying optimistic in the face of bad times. So there couldn’t be a better time for us to revisit these fun, warm songs than right now."-Alex Benson (Rough Tough Dynamite)
You want pop? You got it!
You want beautiful harmonies? You got it!
You want a band that has constant friction that ends up being the catalyst for amazing music? You got it ( I was in a van with them for a month... Believe me... I know!)
You want dynamic song structure? Shiiiiiii... You got it!
You want some Hall & Oates call & response vocals mixed the smoothness of Yo La Tengo, and the siqness of the Unicorns? Pfffft... I got you motherfucker! Buy this shit already!
Sometime around November of 2056 when we're all hiding away from Covid-41 I'll have my grandkids all gathered around their screens on a family ZOOM call- I'll be signing into the call right after tweaking the presets on my VR DMT operating system that teaches you how to play the six-armed saxophone with downloadable cybernetic extensions that I got when I upgraded the Bacterial Computer purchased back in 2052. "Google" isn't really a thing anymore, but somehow "Ask Jeeves" made a come-back and occasionally one of my grandkids will use it to look up the strange fashions and habits of fifty years ago.
"So wow Grandpa, music must have been so weird before it could just be planted directly in your brain!"
My memories before the Third Water War of 2043 are faded and a little rusty, but there are still quite a few in the deeper corners of my pineal gland not yet uploaded (I can't afford the new converters) so I'm just riffing on my answer to their questions here...
You see, people used to travel really great distances to play music. Yes, we still had pre-recorded too, but as I recall the culture was deeply divided in those days. Some people preferred to watch musicians actually making the music live, with instruments and voices, in a physical place, where we would all gather together and make a "show". You know, we had "bands" back then- I was in a few different "bands". Just friends you would get together with making sounds and putting on shows. We'd actually drive all over the country- even to different states- they weren't all walled off then, and only a few checkpoints. Most of the bands back then just made music to help sell beer, but there were some that made "creative music" too- and if you made creative music it was also your job to try to find all the other people making creative music too. No, I don't mean to say you got purchase credits for it, it was just part of what we did back then.
So there used to be a city called Tucson, it's not really there anymore. I mean, it's still a place, it's just not the same. In Tucson there was a band called Sugarbush. It was twin sisters named Dawn and Kee, and these two dudes named Ryan and Dmitri. They had guitars, and a bass, and some drums. Maybe there was a keyboard somewhere in there? They sang, sometimes they danced around a little, but people who came to listen to their music danced A LOT. They had a big old van they drove around in, brewing kombucha and giving each other stick and poke tattoos while driving between Arizona and New Mexico. A couple times they even drove all the way up to Olympia (they changed the name back to Cheetwoot in 2033) and we always played the shows together- first one band then the other, not always in the same order. We existed in parallel currents, like the same frequencies making different patterns, or the same patterns playing different frequencies. Things got really weird sometimes. They took us around the desert and showed us secret holes full of water in the mountains behind Paul McCartney's ranch. Well, you don't know who that is, it doesn't matter. They were like very tall runaway feral children raised by wolves, I remember this one time in Taos everyone got possessed by the feral spirits, a woman started hollering in spirit language and poured a shaker full of sugar down the front of her pants, like "Sugar-BUSH"!
-Arrington De Dionyso
The Black Jacket was magnetic
John’s songs just caught everyone’s ear, no matter what kind of crowd we played for. I was never there for the writing of the songs, we sometimes practiced for fifteen minutes before a show, and more than once new songs just appeared on the set list. I’d ask what key it was in and we would just go. I’m not a real musician, the songs were just dead simple. So we’d have this savage beat and John would take off into space like some sort of manic Pentecostal holy man, and the rest of us were just holding on, keeping it steady.
Then there would be these solemn moments, these songs with faint, fragile heartbeats that no one would dare disturb by even breathing too loud. We even had this bag of shakers we would pass around to everyone, which always seemed dorky, but went over really well. Shows what I know. Live Black Jacket shows were an anarchic celebration of everyone there. They were never the same. Something was always broken, but it didn’t matter. The lines between the band and the audience were blurry. You didn’t have to be good, you just had to be there. At the risk of sounding like a Sedona mom, I always felt like it was an open invitation to live life. And for a little bit, everyone felt free to do just that.
Titty Hard On
There was a time in my life where I would seek out every new punk band in Tucson, and make it a point to go see them live, or connect with them in any way. T.H.O. may have actually been the last band that I went out of my way to track down. They were playing a set at some kind of youth event, so I piled a bunch of punks into my Barbie Jeep and we were off. We only caught the end of their set unfortunately, but connected with them afterwards. The friendship was initiated. Apparently they were a band before, split up, then got back together when they realized they could play music and also have fun. We roped them into our small, tight, DIY punk scene at Dry River, and their goofiness grew, and was embraced, especially by the much younger punks.
At some point in their existence, and because their bassist Dawson was so inconsistent with his live appearances, I was asked to fill in. This happened moments before their set one night. Luckily, I was very familiar with the songs, and they didn’t seem too concerned about how sloppy we could be. My career on bass only lasted two or three shows, and the only song I distinctly remember playing is Wipe Out by the Surfaris.
T.H.O. had a good amount of memorable songs during their existence, but no release before BurritoxCore had as many consistent classics contained within. The biggest hit with the kids was Rat Tail Girl Free. Maybe that song instilled a sort of freedom to just be who you wanted to be without the restrictions or pressures of being in a relationship, or expectations to be some type of generic model citizen. The moment I first put on this album, I erupted into laughter because of the weird scream that you hear within the first few seconds. It wholeheartedly set the tone immediately. At first, this whole album seemed foreign to me, and a big surprise since I didn’t even know they were writing anything. Since then, though, it has become the one I’ve listened to the most.
Bands like T.H.O. don’t come around too often, and when they do, their existence is short lived. Looking back on them, it brings a smile to my brain, reminiscing on the freedoms of youth. Enjoy this little snippet into the minds of a group of goofballs just simply trying to have fun.
Heirloom Records is a means of saving and preserving music from the lost CDR generation of music.
Heirloom Records is a Related Records sub-label