Throwback 13th (#007) – David Dondero

aaron cometbus add toner punk flyer

“Better leave before it blinks. I think the sky, it’s a sudden open eye”

A lot of musicians have paid their dues. A lot have earned their stripes. Most of them have gone on to achieve some level of notoriety, but there’s one who, after 25+ years grinding it out, is still, grinding it out. Is it for lack of talent or for lack of interest? Me thinks it’s the latter. Sometimes you just don’t win the musical-success lottery and I don’t think David Dondero gives a shit. I do think you should know who the hell he is though.

I’ve been reading a book called Add Toner by Aaron Cometbus. It’s his second collection of assorted Cometbus zines from the 90’s & 2000’s. It’s an enjoyable read but not as good as his original omnibus called Despite Everything. They’re both great, but what can I say, I like rating stuff. There is a really cool section in Add Toner though, about the time Aaron spent living in Asheville North Carolina. While residing there he helped cultivate a little punk scene by running an all ages venue called Oh My! and by designing show flyers. A lot of the flyers are featured in Add Toner and I was so incredibly thrilled to see the one pictured above.

In the early 90’s David Dondero lead a punk band called Sunbrain out of Clemson South Carolina. Their first album, Perfection Lies, has been cited by Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes as one of his foremost musical influences. Infact, I think it’s fair to say, Dondero invented the vocal style that Oberst has had so much success with. Conor and David actually collaborated later in life on a Deseparecidos song and one of David’s solo songs. You can hardly tell their voices apart. Perfection Lies is truly a masterpiece of an album, and Sunbrain probably should have been in the same conversation as a band like Jawbreaker, or maybe an entirely separate conversation of their own. They were innovators of a sound that was never fully explored. And so the grind continued.

After Sunbrain, Dondero probably did some other stuff, but I’m not a fuckin’ biographer so I can’t speak to that. He eventually ended up drumming for the infamous Florida folk-punkers, This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb. The band (unintentionally) responsible for 2 bomb scares. I think he did vocals for them too cuz I’ve heard songs that sound exactly like him.

After Pipe Bomb the real grind began. David embarked on an arduous solo career that continues to this day. The weird thing about this show flyer though, is that both David Dondero and This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb are listed on the bill. I’m wondering if David played drums in the band and did a solo set by himself, or if this was after he quit Pipe Bomb. Maybe this is the show where they met and he joined Pipe Bomb that night! Unlikely, but that would be cool. If anyone knows, please write to me.

In 2018 Dondero is still barely scraping by as a musician. NPR named him one of the greatest living songwriters, yet he continues to grind, usually as an opening act for semi-successful bands. His solo career has lasted nearly two decades. The solo albums are the ones I’ve made the deepest connection with. If you’re not familiar with them, please familiarize yourself with them immediately. Like right now. Well finish the last paragraph first and then do it you animal.

I have this thing where if I don’t get 8 hours of sleep I’m completely useless. I also have this thing where I go to a job every morning to pay my bills, so I did not see David Dondero when he was here to open for Pedro The Lion on a Tuesday night in May. I know, it’s terrible right? I feel deep distress every time I think about it. He really is one of my heroes, but I guess I’ve got to pay my rent or whatever. If you see David Dondero, if you know him, if you bump into him, shake his hand for me and tell him sorry, and tell him thanks.

(Do you guys think my blog is going to get flagged for using the words ‘pipe bomb’ so much? If you found my blog because you are a terrorist, please go away and stop doing terrorist stuff).

From the DOESN’t SERIOUS COMEDY DEPARTMENT – Tumble Turn

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Everybody now! “Fishing for carp! Fishing For carp! Fun to catch but they taste like shit! Fishing for carp! Fishing For carp! Fun to catch but they taste like shit!” Oh man, this is going to be stuck in my head for days. Carp are one of the dumber looking fish, I must say. It’s no wonder they’re so much fun to catch. I’ve never caught one myself, but I saw one in a ditch once and it looked fabulous. Boy I could talk about carp all day but there’s so many other fun topics on this album. Collecting cans, for example, and taking them to another state to make a profit, like Kramer and Newman tried to do in that one episode of Seinfeld. Only this time it’s in Australia so there are poisonous birds flying around. Another thing they touch on here is sausages. Who doesn’t like to touch on sausages right? These particular sausages are from a store called Bunnings which I guess is like an Australian Home Depot but with a way better name, and the vendor in the parking lot sells sausages instead of just hot dogs. Or maybe hot dogs and sausages are the same thing in Australia. That’s none of my business though. What I’m most intrigued by is that both stores sell meat in their parking lots on opposite sides of the world. We’re all the same you see. That’s what this album is really trying to tell us.

 

From the DEMONSTRATION DEPARTMENT – Fast Sluts

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I don’t know why it’s a demo. I have a feeling if this band picks up a record contract they’ll just put this out as-is and call it their first album. Oh well, whatever. Lace up your Solo’s and tighten your braces folks cuz we goin’ a skankin’. Fresh from the schnitzel factories of Hamburg Germany, enter Fast Sluts. Not to be confused with the elderly rascal scooter gang, the Slow Sluts. There aren’t a hell of a lot of all-girl Oi bands are there? I can’t think of a single one. Maybe that is about to change. These girls aren’t trying to covertly enter the boys club either. It’s more like they’re kicking the door down and slapping some dudes around a bit, ya know? Is this Feminoi? Sorry, I don’t mean to contribute to the already absurd amount of sub-genres we have to deal with, but I say it’s about time for someone to stir the pot on Oi music a little. You know if Oi was going to go away it would have happened by now. At least it can diversify a bit if we’re stuck with it. That being said, this certainly isn’t pure, from the hive, Oi. There are some other things happening here. It’s close enough though. I’d start a circle to it.

From the UNUSUAL SONG TITLES DEPARTMENT – Here are some recent discoveries:

 

Click’em to listen

“Thicc Melky Mommi G0th Girlfriend”
“A List Of Reasons Why I Need To Shut The Fuck Up”
“Lemon Ice King Of Queens”
“Look Mom I’m On A Horse”
“Finding Porn In The Woods”
“General Malaise Reporting for Duty”
“What Books Would Jesus Burn?”
“Sorry Vince McMahon, I Can’t Come to Your Gig Tonight, Maybe Next One?”
“Farted On My Favourite Shirt”
“Late Night Testicles”
“Very Pain Such Problem Many Hurt”
“One of the Perks of Being a Well​-​Known, Albeit Ineffective, Superhero”
“Your Cat Will Eat You When You Die”
“It’s Not The Size Of The Knife That Matters, It’s The Memories You Make”
“My Desire For You Is Stop Being A Fuck Wad”
“I Wanna Love God In A Gay Way”
“I (think I’m turning into my) Cat”
“I Got 99 Problems And Calling A Woman Bitch Is One”
“You Are The Gravy To The Mashed Potato That Is My Heart”

From the DEMONSTRATION DEPARTMENT – The Avondales

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I often find demos that are better than actual albums, but, as a rule, I don’t include demos in my Top 5’s (even though many of the releases I do feature are far worse than demo-quality). It’s really up to the artist whether they give their release a title or just call it a demo. That’s actually the only difference, but I made the rule and I’m sticking to it. These guys, The Avondales (not from Avondale), even went ahead and gave this thing a title, but they put ‘demo’ at the end of it so fuck. Hey, don’t worry -I’m not going to let you miss out on any epic demos. If I find any, I’ll post them over here in the Fun Finds section.

In 1876 THIS happened in Ashtabula Ohio. Since then, not much, but NOW, The Avondales and their sweet little demo called There It Is, which features 7 scratchy punk tunes -One of which is a rendition of Mrs. Robinson with slightly revised lyrics. I probably don’t need to say any more than that, but there’s other good stuff on here too. It sounds like it was recorded live in someone’s basement, which might be part of it’s charm. I think they’re planning to record these songs professionally. I already feel like I’m always going to like this version better.

From the DOESN’t SERIOUS COMEDY DEPARTMENT – Blue Boys

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ATTN: Die-hard Jerky Boys fans. Your prayers have been answered. There’s some new kids on the block and they’re called the Blue Boys. Like their prank-call predecessors, they are highly skilled in the art of “improvisational hilarity and genius conversational jujitsu” (I stole that from the Jerkey Boys website). Look tough guy! It’s prank calls. What else can I say? Is it ‘prank’ or ‘crank’? What’s the difference? If anybody knows the difference I’d love to hear from you. Advise your parents before listening to this.

From the UNUSUAL SONG TITLES DEPARTMENT – Here are some recent discoveries:

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“I’m Fine I’m Just Having An Allergic Reaction To The Universe”

“The Streets Will Be Paved With Golden Retrievers”

“Me And Dead Owls Don’t Give A Hoot”

“Tim Allens Tool Time Tea Time”

“Anthony Bourdain Ate My Dog”

“You Ate Me Out And Now You’re Not Interested”

“My Very Own Sad White People Dreadlocks”

“If Those Aren’t Tears Of Happiness Please Stop Crying”

“Baby Driver The Movie The Song *Potential Spoilers*”

“My Name Is Ian And I’m From Minor Threat”

Throwback 13th (#006)

 

Here we have a beautiful collage of photographs outlining the bizarrely eventful life of young Harley Flanagan. Scroll down for context.

 

Harley Flanagan is best known, of course, as founder and bassist of the legendary Cro-Mags, the NYHC band that brought us one of the most impactful Hardcore albums of all time, The Age Of Quarrel. That’s not the only thing people find interesting about Harley though. Harley put out a book last year detailing his life. I haven’t even read it yet, so allow me to use my limited (very limited) knowledge (and diction) to tell you what’s going on (went on) with Harley.

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Harley’s mom was a hippie and she was friends with Allen Ginsberg and the beat poets in NY back then (the 70’s I guess). Allen saw Harley as a poet. Somehow Harley gets a book of his poetry and drawings published when he’s like 8 years old with a Foreword by Ginsberg himself. Harley travels to the UK (with his mom or with Allen.. idk.. Allen was friends with Joe Strummer. I know that). Harley meets punks like Getty Getgood from The Outcasts while in the UK. Harley learns about skinhead culture and fashion and he brings it back to NY with him. Some circles actually credit Harley as a pioneer of skinhead fashion in the US. Harley (as a small young boy) is now rubbing shoulders with everyone from Joe Strummer (The Clash), to Debbie Harry (Blondie), to Adam Yauch (The Beastie Boys). Harley gets involved in the CBGB scene at a very young age. Harley becomes the drummer for The Stimulators when he’s like 12 or 13. Harley becomes a Lower East Side street kid. Hearley is living in squats with rats and pitbulls and The Bad Brains. Harley’s got tattoos all over his chest and stuff before he’s even gone through puberty. I could be mistaken but I think Harley lived in the fabled Vats of San Francisco for a time. Harley’s been to prison. Harley stabbed his ex bandmates. Harley is a Jiu Jitsu master. What else has he done? I don’t know. I still have to read the book. I’m pretty sure Harley was in that movie where he was a ghost and Demi Moore can’t see him but Whoopi Goldberg can hear him. I could be thinking of someone else. Look, there’s really no reason you should believe anything I say about Harley. The pictures speak for themselves though.

 

 

Throwback 13th (#005)

If you know anything about me (and I hope you don’t), you know (you shouldn’t) that I’m a super-nerd for Lookout! Records and Mutant Pop Records. Most people are familiar with Lookout! but not everyone remembers Mutant Pop, so here’s a little blast from the past.

Way back in the 1990’s there was an influx of, what’s commonly known as, Pop Punk. I don’t like calling it that though, because when someone says ‘pop punk’ the first thing I think of is every band that was on the Survival Of The Fattest comp, and though that stuff was fairly rad, it’s not at all what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about what was on the Punk USA comp. I sometimes refer to it as grease-punk or weasel punk, leather jacket punk (not to be confused with spikey jacket punk), snot punk if you will; That late 80’s/early 90’s Ramones-revival punk, made popular by bands like Screeching Weasel and The Queers. It’s pop punk. Everyone calls it pop punk, but it’s not the same as the other pop punk. It’s Mutant Pop Punk. It’s more like rock’n’roll punk. It’s more Buddy Holly with distortion than it is The Descendents with a skateboard. I know, it all gets very confusing. I still have no fucking clue what the difference is between Crust and Grind.

Mutant Pop Records was a label that came out of Corvallis Oregon, which is where Oregon State University is. It was kind of like a pit stop for a lot of touring bands back then. Like Olympia junior or something. This label was fanatically committed to pumping out the greasy style of punk I speak of. I mean they put out tons of bands, and every one of them followed the exact same formula for punk rock’n’roll. They all sounded exactly the same. I mean they all practically had the same album cover, of the band standing there in leather jackets looking as uncool as possible. It doesn’t matter ok. It doesn’t matter how many bands sound exactly the same. They’re all going to be awesome because it was the most awesome genre of all time ok. That’s what Mutant Pop and I understand and so few other people do. It’s ok though. That’s not what I’m trying to show you with this post.

Really I just wanted to share this cool clipping from the Mutant Pop ‘ZINE’. This was issue #9 from February 1995, and it featured a lot of cool stuff. I do recommend exploring the website. You can find the zines in the Old Catalogs section. If you’re strapped for time though (God you must be important), then at least check out the pic below. It’s from the TOP 10 of ‘94 section which featured submissions from quality dirtbags like Ben Weasel & Joe Queer and (as seen below) the very best person of all time, Blake Schwarzenbach. You know what’s really neat-o is the incomplete submission and apology from Corin Tucker of Sleater Kinney fame, talking about her new band.. Sleater Kinney! Wow cool right! This whole post was leading up to this moment.

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