RSN Playlist 1

Tom Waites Gives Henry Rollins Advice

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[su_dropcap]S[/su_dropcap]ome kids dream of becoming a rock star. Others just do it. Starting out as some skinny kid who talked his way to becoming the local roadie for a few Washington DC bands, Henry Rollins took the challenge and bested himself, not only becoming the bulked up lead singer for several hardcore punk bands, including the local Minor Threat and LA’s Black Flag, and his own Rollins Band, but after minor roles in Hollywood film, he then landed on his feet as the host of a cable talk show.

[su_pullquote]There was great music ahead. There was crap music to whack past as well. And while I had already throttled deaf ears among the Yippies of Atlanta, I knew I’d run into another hard wall sooner of later in DC. Knowing my instincts for self-regard and whatever it is about my whacked sense of social pecking order (none) that attracts trouble, it wouldn’t take long.[/su_pullquote]One of the perks of becoming one of the elite at something is that you get to meet almost any of the elite at anything else whom you wish to meet. The posted short animation—The Barely Animated Adventures of Henry Rollins: Tom Waits Story—created by Jozabad, gives us a look at two such elites meeting and sharing themselves. We think you will find it hilarious, and thank Jozabad for his own creative efforts.

But this RSN entry is actually about my own relationship to Mr. Rollins. First, a little rumor mill grist to get us started. When I came upon the DC scene from Corpus Christi by way of Atlanta in the fall of 1983, I had heard of nothing of the bands or the personalities that roamed the barren streets of 1983 Washington, an urban wasteland that was barely a city, with only two neighborhoods not rolling up come dark, Georgetown and Adams Morgan, but our story takes place between 7th & E Street NW and 9th & G Street, NW, downtown. Although about five years older than most of the charismatic leaders of the underground scene, I had only decided to infiltrate the punk dominion the past year or so. So, although I had the gay and new wave dance scenes of Corpus Christi and the punk and gay scenes in Atlanta under my belt, I knew I had a lot of studying and many bands to experience before I knew how to navigate among the characters I would face in the coming years, plot the topography, and maybe, just maybe, escape with my life if not my dignity. There was great music ahead. There was crap music to whack past as well. And while I had already throttled deaf ears among the Yippies of Atlanta, I knew I’d run into another hard wall sooner of later in DC. Knowing my instincts for self-regard and whatever it is about my whacked sense of social pecking order (none) that attracts trouble, it wouldn’t take long. True to the purposeful soldier spirit in me, it didn’t.

dcspaceNever a sycophant but quite commonly a fierce defender of whatever line of equality or truth it is that I think is right among equal citizens, underground or otherwise, it never takes long before someone else with a different opinion strikes a blow metaphorically or otherwise.

[su_dropcap]T[/su_dropcap]he Four Horsemen of my own experiential apocalypse, a battleground also known as DC Space and the 9:30 Club would be artists and musicians Rene the Fist, Jared Hendrickson, Bruce Merkle and our muscle of the hour—Henry Rollins, all excellent artists, all formidable agitators, all friends first before they became foes.

Excepting Rollins.

I can’t say that we were ever friends. I was introduced to him by Jack who insisted at a WUST show during the Mustard Years, followed by a quick handshake, a submissive grimace and probably a lingering brow standoff. By this era I was already in the beginning stages of beer bloat, and everyone in the hall that night knew that Righteous Rollins just didn’t roll that way.

I spent my first year in my new city, my new scene buying up copies of Maximum Rock & Roll, Flipside, Truly Needy, and any smaller local street fanzines I could get into my hands. I even created my own street zine called SAMPLEX, but it was decidedly more bent to the socially-tainted word and image than any emphasis on local or national punk bands.

mzi.mgrnrdoz.170x170-75But my first confrontation with Henry Rollins had begun back in the Skinny Years on a packed house night at DC Space (written in lower case in reality, I prefer to adhere to most standard English renderings because I usually can). This was a spoken word event. In fact I have never seen Rollins perform on stage, and frankly I do not think this small omission of fan authenticity makes me a bad person. As I write this now, I somewhat regret not ever having seen Rollins in Black Flag. No doubt he was a monster on the stage. I don’t specifically recall that I blew any opportunity to buy a ticket for Black Flag during those years, but I probably did.

[su_dropcap]I[/su_dropcap] had read, of course, much glitter about the Henry Rollins version of punishing high octane energy on stage in belting out the lyrics to such punk classics as My War and Rise Above. I’d also read in various street zines and rags that he was also a nasty player in public in choosing to make a point of stepping into family restaurants and other lukewarm venues which always somehow included snarling at anyone who dare commit the unpardonable sin of staring and whispering among each other or in stunned silence at his buff tattooed uber self with a perfunctory, “What the fuck are YOU looking at?” or something similar to nuclear flash and blind. Not polite to stare? How about not polite to bellow at strangers? Giving as good as he got? Hardly. He wasn’t the only punk rocker who delighted in this type of public rebellion, but I always found that type of behavior stupid and unjustified, and felt it MY duty to draw the ire of these types to myself, bonehead to bonehead, so to speak.

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To be continued…

Concrete Blonde’s Snappy Beginnings

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[su_dropcap]S[/su_dropcap]nappy beginnings? Watch this snappy video from 1986. Power pop with Concrete Blonde’s edgy young Johnette Napolitano as she first ices the deck then skates right through not a few of us old coot dance punks still prowling about. For those who remember those grinning days with a bit of sweat on our brow, let’s just say, this group’s Still in Hollywood is just a tease for what’s to come in the early Nineties…

Anybody not chewing the cud knew by then that girls could rock like Elvis and right from the start, they were as punk as they wanted to be. But I’ll be honest, I didn’t discover Concrete Blonde until sometime in 2003 when I first launched Radio Scenewash and I think it was Andy Corrigan who gave me a stack of CD’s which included the soundtrack of the David Lynch 1997 film—Lost Highway.

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Gray Nostrils

Adam Lazzara

Taking Back Sunday Is Adam Lazzara

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[su_pullquote align=”right”]“I hate the word rock star. All that shit in the 80s died there and it needs to stay there.”
—Adam Lazzara[/su_pullquote][su_dropcap]P[/su_dropcap]ulling back the gentle curtain on Taking Back Sunday, one is always quick to notice that Adam Lazzara is the force behind the rising from the noisy hardcore punk scene to the national rock stage through the steady band’s combination of pop-punk modern rock and straight-up pop. Let’s just say fifteen years of earning stripes, and evolving a sound rather than simpling tossing in the towel has begun to pay paid off.

The band was founded in 1999 by Eddie Reyes. Reyes was already a veteran of the NYC music scene, and took part in numerous projects that kept him in the game. After recording their initial eponymous EP, a Taking Back Sunday shake-up brought bassist Lazzara to lead vocals mic. Seems to have been a smart move.

orig-89890In the music recording industry, the line-up shuffles, the scandalous firings, the defections, the transitions, the unexplained exodus, the exodus for professional reasons, and the glorious and inglorious reunions are each a natural part of the often cut-throat business. Almost goes without saying.

Taking Back Sunday has not been immune to these group effect bodily functions. During the 2006 Taste of Chaos tour (for which Taking Back Sunday was headlining) Fred Mascherino, who had joined Taking Back Sunday in 2003, returned home due to family commitments. His fellow members of TBS were forced to continue without him, supported onstage by members of Saosin, Anti-Flag and Underoath. He never came back, but when ready to return to work he started his own projects. Others came and went.

Now Lazzara, after ten years of fronting TBS, has gone solo and acoustic with a baneful tuneBecause It Works.

To be continued…


The Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon Mooks The Replacements

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[su_dropcap]M[/su_dropcap]y latest obsession is hearing and following the renaissance of 1970s-styled rock poets and musically innovative bands winning the hearts and minds of music ticket buyers everywhere. Among the classiest of these bands is The Gaslight Anthem, and Brian Fallon is their poet laureate.

In 2008, The Gaslight Anthem released The ’59 Sound LP, their second album which alerted music fans and critics alike that something new was pulling into town…


The Gaslight Anthem

Their first effort, Sink Or Swim, was a crackling hint of what was to come, but the album sound was rougher with jarring guitars, irregular beats more reminiscent to metal which roared over the poet’s lines than a group hell bent on cranking out some new code, but critics nodded in agreement that this band had something special, something worth noticing.

New Jersey rock fans knew there was something there as the TGA fan base grew, something that would remain there, even as they sharpened and clarified their delivery system. When the more polished breakthrough second album came along, huge segments of both the old school classic rock and post-punk rocker nation were easily hooked. The Gaslight Anthem rose to stardom quickly. With The ’59 Sound many said a new Springsteen had been announced. Eventually it became rumored that the Boss himself was an avid fan, as he was spotted in the audience of increasingly growing crowds. Yes. Most of the lads even hailed from the same backyard palace of New Jersey, New Brunswick, a mere half hour from beachside Asbury Park. Soon they would share the same stage. Also in 2008, the band covered “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” for the Johnny Cash tribute album All Aboard! A Tribute to Johnny Cash. Brian Fallon has stated several times that without The Replacements there would be no Gaslight Anthem, as they are heavily influenced by them, especially their song “Left of the Dial”.

Paul Westerberg, of The Replacements once wrote a song, an acoustic ballad. When he played it to the rest of the band, it was met with silence. “Save that for your solo album, Paul,” Bob Stinson said. “That ain’t the Replacements”. The track remained unreleased for years. Westerberg realized his toughest audience was the band itself, later saying, “If it doesn’t rock enough, Bob will scoff at it, and if it isn’t catchy enough, Chris won’t like it, and if it isn’t modern enough, Tommy won’t like it.”

There’s no doubt that Brian Fallon and his group is assembled with those same sentiments in mind.

To be continued…

Josh Ritter’s ‘The Beast In Its Tracks’ Balances Bitter With Sweet

Josh Ritter’s ‘The Beast In Its Tracks’ balances bitter with sweet (review) (via The Plain Dealer)

The Beast in Its Tracks, Josh Ritter, Pytheas Recordings “The Beast in Its Tracks” is an achingly beautiful album about the process of moving on from one love to the next. Oberlin College grad Josh Ritter handles the bitter (“Hopeful”) and the sweet (“…

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Indie Rock Band, Claire On A Dare, Brings Rock Opera Back to Music Scene With New Concept Album

Indie Rock Band, Claire On A Dare, Brings Rock Opera Back to Music Scene With New Concept Album (via Press Release Monkey)

Lust, power, desperation and betrayal are all part of Sanctified, a rock opera, Claire on a Dare’s latest indie project which is currently raising funds to produce an album that fuses music and the art of storytelling. “Claire on a Dare presents…

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Merlin Media Launches Chicago’s Only 24-Hour All-News Station

Merlin Media Launches Chicago’s Only 24-Hour All-News Station With FM News 101.1 (via PR Newswire)

NEW YORK, July 31, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Merlin Media, a new multiplatform, multimedia company, today launched FM News 101.1 as Chicago’s only 24-hour all-news station. Whenever listeners tune in to Chicago’s FM News 101.1 they will experience credible…

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