August 28, 2007
Just wanted to let you know I've made links to every Dutch band featured on this blog (what can I say, I was a bit bored at my job): just scroll down and look in the column on the right. All MP3s from about November '06 on all still posted, but some of the links are outdated; in such a case, just replace the wrong IP address with the right one: http://188.8.131.52/public/Blog/ (etc.).
August 25, 2007
NOISE IN THE ATTIC
I've been thinking about posting Indirekt's Nacht und Nebel EP for a while; 1000 Aspirines mentioned it recently and I think this one's been overlooked in favour of their earlier work (which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact I played drums on it, by the way!). But there's one small problem: the revered Grand Theft Audio are about to release a 2CD(!) Indirekt retrospective, featuring all their records and then some. Now Brian GTA is a cool guy, but he's also very protective of the stuff he (re-)releases. So I'm not going to post the EP. Instead, I'll post some practice tapes we made 5 months before entering the studio, which I recently digitized from an old reel-to-reel tape lying in the attic. The recording quality is a bit rougher than the EP, the vocals especially sound a bit tinny, so... for research purposes only!
In the beginning of '86 I was sitting at home, bored, without a band, fed up with punk and listening to the Smiths, when old chums Indirekt called me up to ask if I could play drums for 3 weeks. Stijn, their second drummer, had quit; something with his girlfriend not allowing him to play in 2 bands anymore (he was also with World War Rockers). Well, those 3 weeks turned into 8 months, lots of gigs and lots of nice memories. Like the time we played with Disorder in Belgium and it turned out they didn't bring anything with them: with guitars, drumsticks, drums and distortion pedals borrowed from us they ripped through their classic More Than Fights and tore up the place (but not our stuff, fortunately). Or the gig in Antwerpen where a toothless Sid Vicious clone wearing a leather jacket inscribed with the words "BORN TO LUL" fell head first into the bass drum while pogoing. Well, you get the picture, grandpaw will get on with the music now...
May '86 we recorded early versions of 3 songs that would appear on Nacht und Nebel; the title track was already pretty much finished, although the EP version also has some sound effects and a great moody guitar solo by Martin Cramer (ex-(late line-up) Panic, also engineer at the great De Domme Lul studio). Prose in C, a very angry song inspired by the girlfriend mentioned before (that's "personal politics" for you!), sounds finished as well. The thing that amazes me is how fast and busy my drumming was back then; fortunately with the EP we had Martin Cramer around to tell me to play slower and more to the point...
Third track Niemandsland, still called Bermtoerisme(?) at that point, has different vocals/lyrics from the released version. Ik Wilde Leven, the EP's closing track, actually was a song I'd written for Gepopel that we never got to play because we broke up; I taught it to Indirekt some time after we did these recordings, so I have no choice but to post the EP version. Go ahead, break my arm, I fuckin' wrote the damn thing. The "funny stuff" at the end is our idea of playing disco; Rick Blom does a pretty good slappin' bass, while Indirekt's "fifth member" Ko plays keyboards (I remember doing the cheesy synth-drum break on the keyboard simultaneously!).
Comparing these "live" practice tapes with the EP tracks, you can hear Indirekt put a lot of work into their records, doing lots and lots of takes until it sounded flawless. But I still like that rough stuff too, in a way...
Nacht und Nebel
Prose in C
Bermtoerisme (early version of Niemandsland)
(Practice, May '86)
Ik Wilde Leven
(EP version, Oct. '86)
August 15, 2007
PROG PUNKS P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-P-PART 2
I have this weird urge to dig into the history of any type of music I happen to like. Whether it's punk, rockabilly or jazz, at one point I'm going to ask myself: "Well, what did the very first *** (fill in the genre) records sound like? And what did the forerunners sound like, the Almost-***-records?" (This process of digging deeper and deeper once got me briefly obsessed with 20's jazz/blues... "Actually, we're not into music - we're into chaos": Steve Jones? No, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band said that in 1917!) It's like, whoever did it first, probably did it best. Although that theory doesn't exactly hold up in practice (the Vibrators' "We vibrate", anyone?), there's always something touching about "the ones that came first", a certain quaintness/ undefinedness coupled with the excitement of treading unknown territory.
The Doctors of Madness were one of these mysterious bands that get namechecked in early punk histories in such a way that you're aching to know more about them. You know, they minutely describe every day in the life of the Sex Pistols, and then they go: "Oh yeah, this band called Doctors of Madness were also around." What do you mean, also around? When they were around in early '76 I want to know more about them! Just exactly how "punk" were they, and why aren't they up in the Year Zero punk pantheon of Buzzcocks/Clash/Subway Sect/etc.? Back in the 80's/90's questions like these remained unanswered; these days, you ask the almighty Google or find that elusive record on eBay for 2 Pounds. Actually, by some strange cosmic blip I found their Sons of Survival LP at a flea market the same week I'd ordered their "Bulletin" single, so there's still hope outside of the internet I guess...
Both records are pretty good: fast, urgent rock with hints of both punk and prog, and Urban Blitz' electric violin has to be heard to be believed. Not "punk" in the John Cale/ Raincoats way, but more musicianly ("Waiting" even has traces of hillbilly fiddle!). Singer Kid Strange sounds like a cross between TV Smith (urgent) and Hugh Cornwell (thuggish), he's a good singer but you get the feeling he's straining to get this "punk voice". (But what the heck, so did Lee Ving.)
Needless to say, Doctors of Madness were regarded "punk fakes" by the music press; the fact they were actually around before the Pistols, briefly had Dave Vanian on (shared) vocals, and co-wrote Adverts B-side "Back from the dead" with TV Smith didn't help. But their records belong to that rare species of first-timers, music being made while it was still being invented, and all the more intriguing because of that. Like, say, in early rock 'n roll you had weird stuff like the Three Chuckles, who used an accordion; I guess Doctors of Madness were the Three Chuckles of punk.
Waiting (single, 1977)
Back From The Dead (Doctors of Madness, from Sons of Survival LP, 1978)
Back From The Dead (Adverts, B-side of Television's Over, 1978)