Archive | December, 2011

A brief interview for ifc.com’s Portlandia blog

27 Dec

One Quick Question for Justin Maurer of Clorox Girls

122211-clorox-girls

The singer-guitarist recounts memories of playing shows around Portland in the mid-aughts.

Posted December 22nd, 2011, 1:12 PM by mpsinger
In the mid-aughts, there wasn’t a more furiously fun live band in Portland than the Clorox Girls. Comprised of three Oakland expats—none of whom were females, by the way—the group played ebullient, blink-and-miss-it pop-punk with roots in the Buzzcocks and Red Kross, a song by whom the band took its name. The Girls seemed poise for a breakthrough after the release of 2007′s J’aime Les Filles on seminal L.A. label BYO Records, but after years of international touring, singer-guitarist and, at that point, lone original member Justin Maurer found himself deep in debt. He put the band on hold and relocated to Spain.

Last year, however, Maurer returned to the states and started recording under the Clorox Girls name again. He didn’t forget about Portland, though. And earlier this month, he reconvened the band’s original lineup—himself, bassist Colin Grigson and drummer Clay Silva—for a one-off reunion gig at the proudly divey Southeast Portland punk club East End. Although he now lives in Los Angeles, Maurer remembers his time in the Rose City fondly. We asked him for memories of playing shows around town in the early days. He offered several.

“We had things happen, like, people would end up cutting their hands open and rub blood on my face like warpaint. One time, we were driving to a show, and we were in this phase where we were mooning everybody. So we were sticking our asses out the window and someone threw a cinder block at our van. It almost hit me, and it actually hit the van. We opened for that band Total Chaos one time at the Paris Theater, and we all wore short jean shorts that were so short the pockets were longer than the shorts. I had a Black Flag T-shirt that says ‘Make Me Cum,’ and I made it into a cutaway shirt, and we’re opening for these tough guy punks in Total Chaos. Lots of times we threw flour into the crowd. We played Beulahland and threw a bag of flour, and it got into the ceiling fan, and it just completely fucked up the sound equipment and the microphones. The bartenders were seriously going to kick our ass. We had to clean up the mess ourselves to avoid getting beat up by the Beulahland staff. We were young and stupid, but we always tried to have a good time. Lots of alcohol, some drugs, and a lot of soaking wet Converse All-Stars.”

 http://www.ifc.com/shows/portlandia/blog/2011/12/justin-maurer-clorox-girls

An essay on Portland legends Dead Moon for the Rumpus’ “Albums of Our Lives”

24 Dec

Albums of Our Lives: Dead Moon’sThirteen Off My Hook

  I was 19 years old when I first witnessed the achingly beautiful sounds of Fred and Toody Cole and Andrew Loomis. They were called Dead Moon.

One rainy San Francisco night, Fred Cole stood upright, momentarily motionless on stage left, looking like a deranged scarecrow. He smiled knowingly as he awakened, unraveling his various sticky black cables and plugging his guitar into his venerable amplifier for the ten thousandth time.

Drummer Andrew Loomis stuck a lit red candle into an empty Jack Daniels’ bottle fastened to his kick drum. Loomis lit a cigarette by leaning lips first into the flame that was dancing off the tip of the candle.

Toody took a swig of bottled beer, tucked the tail of her red cowboy shirt into her blue jeans and said something to Fred, her husband. He chuckled, and the couple made eye contact with Loomis as Toody swung the strap of her bass guitar over her head. They now looked serious. Guitar picks clutched between their thumbs and forefingers, pyramid-shaped triggers for their stringed weapons, their eyes glinted with purpose. They were ready to play. Fred swiveled around and asked the soundman through the mike, “Are we ready?” When the longhaired soundman in the back of the room nodded and gave a thumbs up, Fred belted, “We’re fuckin’ Dead Moon and this song is called ‘There’s a Fire in the Western World.’”

They tore into the jangly two-string intro then those three chords with such military precision and guttural defiance that they had my attention from the first verse. After a couple rockers, Fred was able to pull back and play a soft one, then they kicked in with another screamer. Toody’s bass playing and Andrew’s drumming were somehow connected, as if attached like a beating heart to a series of veins and lungs and living matter. These were Fred’s songs, and like a clean shaven Grizzly Adams, his mischievous eyes glinted like a child who is pleased about getting away with a petty crime. There were also moments of true anguish, a man who had been trapped and rock and roll was his only way out, his only vice, and he had used this escape for so long he almost wore out his welcome, then he did it again because it was the only way he knew how to survive. Dead Moon played their set and the blood red candle burned down to a molten stump, the flame dying during the death-throes of their last song, as if the candle was fueled not by its wax, but sustained its fire with the lifeblood of the music.

My first Dead Moon show was a spiritual experience. I felt more from that 60 minutes of music then I had ever felt in a church. I felt like crying. I wanted to give Fred a hug, I wanted to pat him on the back, I wanted to one day be able to play a song as powerful at the simply profound tunes he churned out so naturally.

***

A couple of years later I had the pleasure to see Dead Moon on Halloween night at a shit hole in Portland. The mixed drinks were stiff, and tall cans (“tallboys”) of ice cold Pabst were an even $2.

I knew a few of their songs by this point, and that familiarity, made me feel a joy I rarely felt. They played a set of their most memorable songs (including some of my favorites, “Dead Moon Night, It’s OK, Johnny’s Got a Gun, Walking on My Grave, 54/40 or Fight,  DOA, Graveyard, I Hate The Blues,”) and a couple covers: AC/DC’s ”It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll)” and Rolling Stones’ “Play with Fire.”

With the last chord played, and the club closing, there was an eerily comforting vibe I felt as I trudged home through the rain. Arriving home, I placed my sopping wet high top Converse All –Stars outside the front door. I stood there on the front porch for a moment, in my socks, looking out into the peaceful darkness, imagining Fred and Toody and Andrew loading their amps and drums into their charcoal black van and navigating the dark roads back to Clackamas, their hometown, named for the extinct language of the Chinook Indians. “Dead Moon night,” I said to myself. “Dead Moon night.”


If you don’t like Dead Moon then you don’t like rock ‘n roll.”

Fred Cole has played rock ‘n roll since 1964. Originating in Las Vegas, Fred and his garage band, The Weeds were attempting to avoid the Vietnam draft by relocating to Canada when their van ran out of gas in Portland. While in Portland, Fred met his future wife Toody Conner who was working in a local club, the Folk Singer. The Weeds, changing their name to Lollipop Shoppe, staked a claim in Portland and hired the manager of Love and The Seeds. This led to loads of west coast dates including opening slots for Janis Joplin and the Doors. Their classic tune, “You Must Be a Witch” was showcased on the influential “Pebbles” LP compilation series in the late ’70s.

When punk broke, Fred had a punk band  called the Rats who played the same clubs as Portland punk greats the Wipers and Poison Idea. Fred and Toody, married since 1967, played together in the Rats and of course continued on with Dead Moon, recruiting drummer Andrew Loomis in 1987.

Fred Cole engineered most of the band’s recordings at their primitive home studio in Clackamas. Recorded and mixed in mono, he mastered the recordings on the lathe that was used for the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie.” Their early records were released on their own Tombstone Records imprint.

Some people don’t really get Dead Moon. Fred Cole’s high-pitched croon, like a fine scotch or bourbon, is an acquired taste.  But like bourbon, it’s slightly bitter, slightly sweet, smoky and with a smooth finish.  His voice hits in the gut and takes you to the pits of sadness. You feel what he feels and become empowered to go out with all guns blazing no matter what you’re up against.

My favorite Dead Moon song is “Walking on my Grave.” From their 1990 record Thirteen Off My Hook, the song brilliantly encompasses everything about the darkness of Portland, the power of that long unbearable winter, the thoughts one thinks when going through the endless winter, the drugs and depression that hit that town from time to time and the futile feeling of protest. The line “giving direction without any plans” is even relevant to our present state, which conjures thoughts of our current political situation and financial crisis. Above all, “Walking on my Grave,” is truly about a man who doesn’t want to be forgotten. “There’s a new kid on the block, and he’s taking my place…walking on my grave!”

I used to see Loomis drinking at the Hungry Tiger on 28th and NE Burnside. He seemed to be there almost every night of the week. The locals and the bartenders respected him and filled him full of the poison that enveloped him.

Dead Moon broke up because of Andrew Loomis’ drug and alcohol abuse, but Fred and Toody formed a new band called Pierced Arrows with drummer Kelly Halliburton.  I’ve not checked them out yet because I’m nervous about putting them alongside the legend they created in Dead Moon. I should probably give them a chance.

I listened to “Walking On My Grave” the other night after 5 beers and broke out in tears.  Fred Cole, I love you man. Thank you.

A juvenile yet vintage interview with Clorox Girls circa 2004

9 Dec

Hello Everyone,

I’m starting to get excited about the reunion show with the “original” members of Clorox Girls, Clay Silva, Colin Grigson, and myself. We haven’t played together since 2005 when we toured Brazil together. So it’s been 6 almost 7 years!  Yeesh! The reunion is Saturday Dec 10th at East End on the South East side of Portland. (203 Southeast Grand Avenue, Portland, OR 97214).

In honor of the upcoming reunion, here’s an interview by Fungus Boy ‘Zine in 2004 at Chicago Blackout.  I think Clay steals the show…   Clorox Girls Interview, 2004, Fungus Boy Magazine  and here’s an interview I just did for Willamette Week Clorox Girls Interview, Willamette Week, Dec 2011

Bass player trivia is below…

Discography CD from Brazilian Tour, 2005. Cover was an homage to Black Flag's "Jealous Again." (L to R) Clay, Colin, and Justin)

Out of respect for the brief “original” bassists who spontaneously combusted I will name them here:

Jennique Mason, 1st Clorox Girls Bassist, (played on the first 7" single, "Baby" and the first west coast tour). Now resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Morgan Stickrod, 2nd Clorox Girls Bassist (played on the first Clorox Girls U.S. Tour). Now resides in North Carolina.

Zack Lewis, 3rd Clorox Girls Bassist (Played on the first Clorox Girls album, the s/t LP/CD and 2nd 7" single "This Dimension"). Now studying his PhD at Harvard!

Colin Grigson, 4th Clorox Girls bassist (Played on "This Dimension" LP/CD, "Novacain" 7", "Eva Braun 7", and world wide tour dates

Clay Silva (R), Original Drummer of Clorox Girls, played on first 2 LPs, first 4 singles, world tours, etc.

Clorox Girls in the Netherlands, 2005 (L to R) Clay, Justin, Colin

In honor of the upcoming reunion, here’s an interview by Fungus Boy ‘Zine in 2004 at Chicago Blackout.  I think Clay steals the show…   Clorox Girls Interview, 2004, Fungus Boy Magazine

 

 

 

HOLY GHOST REVIVAL TOUR DIARY, LONDON, JULY 2008

7 Dec

Okay, here’s an oldie but a goodie…

Holy Ghost Revival, Cowboy Vampires. (Photo by Roger Sargent) (L to R): Sebastian Sheldon, Jakes Bayley, Conor St. Kiley, Mikko Freeman, John 'O Donnell

Cast of Characters:

Sebastian Sheldon – Keyboards, guitar, fine food, fish oil capsules

Jakes Bayley – Bass Guitar, modeling career, worst smelling dirty socks of all time

Conor St. Kiley – Vocals, junk food, mad genius

Mikko Freeman – Drums, fine cheeses & wines,

John ‘O Donnell – Lead Guitar, solo career

Justin Maurer (not pictured) – Tour Manager, Latin languages

Tour Manager’s Diary #1 June 25th, 2008.

Hi! I’m Justin Maurer, Holy Ghost Revival’s tour manager here in London until December 2nd.

Back Story:  My infamous friends, Holy Ghost Revival, got signed to a British record label called 1965 Records.  Their new album is slated to be released September 1st, so the label had the idea of moving the band to London where they could play all around the UK for six months straight, promoting the new album, “Twilight Exit.”  The guys moved out of their house in Seattle, “The Bro Chateau,” and boarded a British Airways flight to London on June 2nd.

Needing a tour manager, driver, Au pair, roadie and all around organizer, I was offered a job in London for 6 months.  I left my job at a coffee shop, put my band Clorox Girls on hold, and flew from Portland to England where I’m living with the five members of the band in a four room council flat in the Vauxhall area in South London.

We’re all living on meager wages, but trying to artfully wage musical warfare, in the land where many of our ancestors fled from religious persecution, financial hardship, and the great Irish potato famine.

Wielding guitars and our American accents, we’re here to engage in discourse with the willing and unwilling.  We are Holy Ghost Revival…. And like a well oiled machine we march forward, bearing our human tragedy, and eagerness for a new tomorrow.

Like April O’Neil from the fabled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, I will sketch these Teenage Mutants to the best of my ability.

“Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work; there is now no smooth road into the future; but we go round or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”

- D.H. Lawrence

——————————————————————————————-

 Tour Manager’s Diary #2 

 Sunday the 29th of June

London @ 12 Bar, Soho

We did a last minute show at 12 Bar on a Sunday evening, the same night of the Spain vs Germany Euro Cup finals.  In the audience were about six people, including two Korean girls, two French, and a young English couple from the suburbs.  The stage was tiny, but the boys played their beating hearts out for the six people, who all had smiles on their faces by the second song.  This could have been because Conor was serenading each individual in his confrontational homo-erotic way, gyrating like a serpent, not unlike Jennifer Lopez in a smaller pair of jeans.

The sound man looked relatively unimpressed, but the couple from the suburbs was fanatic about the band, and bought some records.  When I thanked the owner of the bar, he told me gruffly, “Sunday night is pretty much amateur night.  It’s always empty in here on Sundays.”    We hit the streets of Soho, and celebrating Spanish football fans were shouting and honking car horns singing “Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole….Ole… Ole Ole Ole!”

———————————————————————————–

Tour Manager’s Diary#3

 Monday June 30th – London @ The Old Blue Last, Shoreditch

For a Vice Magazine owned bar, the staff was really normal, friendly, and laid back.  The crowds turned out in droves, and as expected, were wearing the usual “ironic fare,” but all the kids in London are about twenty years old, so you can’t take them too seriously.   The place was absolutely PACKED (because of the free drinks).  Conor freak danced a cameraman filming the show, and engaged the crowd, testing the mike cord to the limit that it’d stretch.  John and Sebastian had huge smiles on their face to the Jackson Five conjuring tune, “Arrogant Army,” but what really got people dancing was “Flowers of Evil.”

A few people walked out, a couple fatso punters were up front shaking their groove thang, a couple people threw beer and various liquids on Conor, but most of the onlookers had an amused, confused, or plain blank expression on their faces as they downed the Robitussin cough syrup-tasting free drink that was the attraction of the night.   This is the silence before the storm…… Embrace the hate, baby….

——————————————————————–

Tour Manager’s Diary#4

Saturday July 5th – London @ The Windmill, Brixton

The big news at this moment in time over here in the London fog is that Jay Z opened his set at the Glastonbury Festival with Oasis’ “Wonderwall,” singing and playing acoustic guitar. There was a massive controversy because the Glastonbury organizer had said that the festival wasn’t created for rap or hip hop music… and Jay Z apparently took  it all in quite elegantly, a class act.   He threw some party for his tour manager that cost hundreds of thousands of pounds….. as I read in the tube station.. along with Amy Winehouse on house arrest by her father in Camden,  who was quoted as saying something like “Crack will kill her.”   While another one-time crack smoker, Jared from Atlanta’s finest, Black Lips, was quoted in the NME saying “She’s got a lot of soul for a white girl.”

British sensationalist media aside, for the time being, non crack smoking Holy Ghost Revival were playing the Windmill in the fabled neighborhood of Brixton. We were singing the Clash’s “Guns of Brixton,” on the tube, but changing the lyrics to, “Guns of Vauxhall,” our neighborhood, the “up and coming gay area of London.”     We’ve befriended the bike riding Somalian and Jamaican drug dealers outside of our flat, as well as the rabid foxes who make mating calls in our garden all night long….  It’s a big deal to us watching the foxes from our balcony…  it’s provided hours of entertainment…   back to our story…

The lads and myself carried all the gear (massive keyboard, merch, guitars, etc) down the stairs and into the Vauxhall tube station.  Arriving Brixton, we must have looked like circus freaks with our tight pants clad crew of post modern dandy/ruffians – but there were plenty of colorful characters to greet us there as well.

After load-in, Jakes and I enjoyed some Fish n Chips from a place called “Chicago Pizza,” run by young men shouting in Arabic – although they were very friendly and seemed amused by our presence.   Conor ate some fried chicken, while Mikko wolfed a veggie burger, and John a chicken burger, respectively.  Sebastian met us at the chip shop with poet/musician Derek Meins in tow.  Derek informed us in his lovely Scottish accent that he would not be drinking gin because he lost his voice the weekend before (I assume from an abundance of shouting – possibly poetry – at passers-by and party people).

We enjoyed the view of a man eating fried chicken with low cut pants – his pubic hair clearly visible… and then headed straight for the off license across the street where we purchased some cans of Scrumpy Jack Cider – as we can drink six of them for the price of two inside the bar.  Jack we imagined as a rough and tumble sea faring man with windblown hair.  Scrumpy Jack was a man of few words and frequent fisticuffs.

Our friends from the Ripchord imbibed on the Cider with us, and we hung out with some Jamaicans before heading up to the Windmill, where on the benches outside, Saul from the Metros was shouting in some sort of unintelligible Cockney Rhyming scheme.  It’s like a mad mathematical equation, Cockney slang…  apples and pears, trouble and strife, taking a butcher’s…  I told Saul that the next piece of Metros merchandise should be a knife, to commemorate the record number of stabbings in their South London ‘hood of Peckham.

Derek Meins warmed up the crowd with his elegant and often hilarious poetry, and Lyons and Tygers from Liverpool opened for Holy Ghost.    Our very own heroes or anti-heroes depending on your perspective took the stage next, where St. Kiley tore up newspapers and tossed them into the audience.  By the end of the set the bar floor looked like the bottom of a hamster cage minus the wood chips.  Side note – hamsters often devour their young, and I imagine Conor St. Kiley would as well if he were to bear offspring.

Derek Meins (Photo by Azadeh Falakshahi)

Saul from the Metros DJ’d some great tunes including Dead Kennedys “Kill the Poor,” and Clorox Girls “Walks the Streets.”  After the show we got paid zero pounds and received zero complimentary beverages.  The dapper curly haired Liverpudlian promoter got us a few beers from the off license and apologized profusely, while on the other hand, the management of the bar acted like uncouth muscled Mafioso and didn’t seem to appreciate the presence of poetry and music and drink purchasing punters in their establishment.

Saul Adamczewski (The Metros) Photo by Gareth Cattermole

A little frustrated but never defeated, we said “fuck it,” and returned to our council flat in Vauxhall where we drank well into twilight with some Brazilian friends we met from down the hall.  Listening to Os Mutantes in their flat, filming the mayhem and chaos, and playing acoustic guitars, all parties involved had a blast.  Conor St. Kiley drank a little too much vodka and was crawling on his hands and knees tackling our guests in traditional American football fashion; rolling on the floor wrecking some furniture in our sparse dining room. Conor gained a new nickname that night, “Death Time.”

"Death Time" (Photo by TV Coahran)

In the morning one of our dining chairs had the back ripped off.  Mikko observed, “Now it’s an ottoman!”    Our living room was decorated in broken glass, and a sleeping guitar player (Johnny O.D.) blanketed in jean jackets was wearing cowboy boots while passed out on the couch.   Next time this tour manger will hide the vodka.

- Justin Maurer, Vauxhall, London, Sunday July 5th 2008

Berlin, Germany, 2008. Tour Manager Justin Maurer with Conor St. Kiley and Jakes Bayley of Holy Ghost Revival

L.A. Drugz in Hollywood tonight!

5 Dec

Tonight! LA DRUGZ! Hollyweird will never be the same…
Beauty is Pain (Records Ad Nauseam), 1443 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood, CA. 8pm sharp.

http://www.reverbnation.com/ladrugz

L.A. Drugz, house party in Echo Park, LA tonight!

4 Dec

LA Drugz tonight at an Echo Park house party! 10pm 2842 Hyans St. Los Angeles, CA 90026 (Near Temple and Rampart). Bring donations for touring bands, BYOB! XO www.reverbnation.com/ladrugz

L.A. Drugz live at San Pedro’s finest dive, Harold’s Place, on Friday Dec 2nd

1 Dec

If you dare, venture out this Friday evening December 2nd for a riotous occasion in San Pedro’s favorite dive, Harold’s Place. Performing rock ‘n roll music played from the gut and shot from the hip are: Sick Secrets (Seattle), White Murder, L.A. Drugz, Los Headaches (Mexico City), and Cochinas.  There will be an impossibly cheap door entrance fee as well as  strong drink and good company. Harold’s is proud of its decor: deer heads on the wall, beer-stained pool tables, and an impressive array of Budweiser football helmets dangling precariously from the ceiling. Harold’s is situated on 1908 South Pacific Avenue San Pedro, CA 90731-5530 (at 19th, across from the liquor stores and 7-11, just down the street from Angelito’s taco truck).

Here’s some back story on San Pedro.

My uncle’s friend Ed Gupta, a long time Los Angeles resident has warned me multiple times about avoiding the port town of San Pedro, California.

“You don’t want to go to San Pedro, the Croatian sailors will kick your fuckin’ ass!”

Perhaps he was warning me to watch out for Pegleg.

Joe “Pegleg” Morgan, was ex-godfather of the Mexican Mafia prison gang. “Croatian Joe” spent years in San Pedro. He was the link between the Mexican Mafia and West Coast Italian crime lords in the 1970s.

San Pedro was named for St. Peter of Alexandria, a Fourth Century bishop in Alexandria, Egypt.


The Tongva (Gabrielino) Indians called the San Pedro area Chaaw. I like calling it St. Petersburg.


Spaniard Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo “discovered” the area in 1542, and it soon became the main port of the Los Angeles area. All imported goods that were brought in by ship arrived in the port of San Pedro/L.A. and was transported by horse and wagon to the ranchos and settlements of Southern California.

Charles Bukowski lived there in his twilight years, moving to Pedro from his East Hollywood/Los Feliz digs.

“San Pedro is real quiet. It used to be a seaport full of whorehouses and bars. I like the quietness. They ask you how you’re doing, they really want to know.”

Unique punk bands like the Reactionaries, the Minutemen, F.Y.P., Toys That Kill, and the Jag Offs all hailed from Pedro.

San Pedro is a dimension of its own. It’s like being transported to 1974. Generally Pedro locals are a bit xenophobic, wary of outsiders, especially if the outsider is from a more affluent area of L.A.  Locals are even suspicious of people hailing from the neighboring South Bay city of Long Beach, half-jokingly referring to it as “wrong beach.” If there is a working class city in Los Angeles county, San Pedro is it. Pedro is home to Mexican families, military families, Croatians, Italians, troublemaking juvenile delinquents, and guys with baseball hats and missing teeth.

Some great films were shot in Pedro including: Raging Bull, Chinatown, To Live and Die in L.A.,The Naked Gun, The Hunt for Red October, Boyz n the Hood, The Big Lebowski, and Fight Club.

Twenty-Eighth Street in San Pedro, between Gaffey Street and Peck Avenue, is the steepest section of public roadway in Los Angeles. For about 50 feet (15 m), the street climbs at a 33.3% angle, although the rest of the street is less steep.

Prominent authors: Louis Adamic and Richard Armour hailed from Pedro as well as actors Patrick Muldoon (Starship Troopers), Sharon Tate (murdered by the Manson Family), and D. L. Hughley, who graduated from San Pedro High School.

Prominent musicians from Pedro: John Bettis (the Godfather III theme song), Minutemen ( Mike Watt, George Hurley, D. Boon), and Krist Novoselic (Croatian-American Nirvana bassist) grew up Pedro before moving to Aberdeen, WA.

For fans of “Mad Men”:

In “Mad Men” Season 2, Episode 12 -, scenes are shot in San Pedro near Point Fermin and Cabrillo Beach. The first wife of Don Draper, Anna Draper, is said to live in the area.

“Don disembarks from a bus at San Pedro, pauses to look around in a picturesque manner, and heads on his way.”

“It appears that Don and Anna lived for a time in the San Pedro area of L.A.”

See you in St. Petersburg Friday night at Harold’s Place!

Love,

Justin

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