Metal Mondays

My local bar is Footsies at 26th and Figueroa in the Cypress Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.  It's a great little spot with an inviting selection of bourbons and a genuinely friendly staff.  When it first opened, the jukebox was the main draw.  But that jukebox was replaced by another that is somewhat disappointing.  And recently DJs have been trying to pick up the slack, but the results have been uneven, to say the least.  Sometimes the music can be simply unbearable.  So it was a good day this week when I learned that Monday nights at Footsies are now dedicated to metal.  It's been a long time coming.  I've heard there is a Slayer night on occasion over at the Hyperion Tavern, but we deserve more.  

It's not just LA that fails to offer drinking establishments that cater to us metalheads.  When I lived in Manhattan, I had to go a gay bar to get my Black Sabbath fix.  Austin is an exception.  Even the pizza joint there blasts it.  So I implore you to help make sure metal keeps this new home in our city, and support Mark Vieira and his guests as they play selections from all different genres and using all different formats.  Maybe he'll give you a spot.

To get to Footsies from points west, take the Figueroa exit off the 110 N, take a right off the exit, and the bar's about 2 blocks down on the right.  There's a free lot out back and usually ample street parking on Mondays.  A bonus is the close proximity of El Atacor #11, with its renowned potato tacos and other fine fare. 

See you there.

20 Questions With Dusty Watson (Part 2)

Professor Bunkum’s methadone finally arrives:

First: Lux Interior, R.I.P.

And...we’re back after a few, umm, “tense” days, and I’m happy to say that the ever upbeat (ha ha) Dusty Watson has agreed to play along for 10 more questions. In case you didn’t get it the first time around, Dusty is a really nice guy. Here we set him up to say all kinds of nasty things and be bitter about being the best surf drummer on the planet, and he just says nice stuff. But it’s entertaining nice stuff, so you can keep reading.

We didn’t give Dusty any free ad time last time, so here it is: check out www.dustywatson.com or his MySpace site to get this guy’s itinerary. He’s in half a dozen bands, all of which are made better by his presence. Also check out the DVD “Pounding Surf – The Art of Surf Drumming” on www.surfdrums.com.

Now back to the program:

11. Has Dick Dale ever asked you to have relations with his wife?

Dude, that is a rude question and totally out of bounds. Where would you get such an idea?

12. Does Dick Dale walk around the house naked? What's the most times you've played "Wipe Out" in a row?

Well, I have been at Dick’s house when him and his son Jimmy were running around out back naked but they were swimming so I’ll give them that one. Dick is a free spirit in all sense of that word. But he also is experienced in life so generally he wears a pair of undies. And no they are not whitie tities.

The most times I played Wipe Out in a row was with the OG wipeouts, The Surfaris. We were on a float in the Huntington Beach 4th of July parade and we played Wipe Out for over 2 hours straight. People were running along side of the float pouring water over my head while I was playing.  I shit you not.

Dusty at Melkweg in Amterdam with Dick Dale

13. According to your sources, how many hours of Pro Tools were required to bring Lars Ulrich's drumming up to par on the last Metallica album? If Lars Ulrich were fighting a death match with Tommy Lee, would it be possible to hope for a winner?

That’s insider information, sir. But from what I heard from a very reliable source, the band took the usual several months to track and then they took the drum tracks to yet another studio to “fix”. I really don’t know what that means but you know just making sure everything lines up properly. I don’t think that is so out of the norm these days, but I don’t really know.

And to answer the 2nd part of this question, I can’t say that I am a huge fan of either one’s playing so if I heard about a death match between these two I would probably just roll over and go back to sleep.

14. Are double kick drums for pussies?

I happen to like double bass drums. Like A LOT. I don’t play them and haven’t in many years, tho I did do a Cream Tribute band gig with a friend of mine a couple years ago and set one up it was fun as hell. It’s powerful as hell driving 2 bass drums - it's like the difference of riding a crotch rocket or a Harley...you can FEEL the double kicks vibrate your balls, ya know? I have used slave pedals off and on (Dick Dale, Supersuckers) but I usually just stomp on one pedal and one kick drum.

15. Bill Ward was always looking for the One. Did he ever find it?

I don’t know that story but I adore Bill Ward. I was already in love with his playing from my Black Sabbath records, then when I got to see him live for the first time at the California Jam in Ontario in’73 or ’74 man that was the shit! Single rack with double bass – what a set up!

16. Travis Barker got famous playing along to a complicated drum loop on YouTube. Do you think he could pull it off if you made him sit on your bass drum pedal at the same time?

I don’t need to give Travis any shit. That guy can fucking play. He’s got too many tats and wears his shorts too low but other than that he’s alright.

17. Why should anyone give a shit about Cozy Powell? Couldn't Tommy Aldridge kick any drummer's ass during the 70's?

Cozy Powell played on so many records no one is even aware they are listening to him. And the live work with Jeff Beck, Rainbow, Sabbath, Whitesnake...he really was a powerful drummer. I love the red sparkle Ludwig double bass 26’s he used to pound. Cozy died in 98 drunk driving at 100+ miles an hour talking on the cell phone from what I know. Now that’s living in the fast lane. I used to watch Tommy Aldridge as often as possible. I musta seen Black Oak Arkansas over a dozen times in the 70’s at the Swing Auditorium. A million years later I saw him again with the new line up for Thin Lizzy and he was still awesome as hell. I admire Tommy a lot. He might be the best all around rock and roll drummer ever.

18. Are blast beats for faggots?

I’m not into that shit I don’t even know how to calculate how to do that for more than 30 seconds.

19. Do you think Norwegian Black Metal is at all relevant today? As someone over the age of 45, do you know of any of your contemporaries who gives a fuck about the difference between death metal, black metal and grindcore?

Dude, I wish I knew more about that stuff cuz I know there are a lot of people totally into it. I really don’t know shit tho maybe it’s cuz I’m too old, ya think? Hmmm. I was in Norway and Sweden a few times and the kids were showing us some of the churches that had recently been burned down all part of that scene. Pretty wild they would take it that far ya know. Like I said, I don’t get it. Nah, nobody I run with knows squat about that scene.

20. And, finally, could John Bonham even carry Keith Moon's TV set up his hotel room?

John Bonham was HUGE! All his tracks are spotless and fills perfect and grooves undeniable. Solid as all hell. Keith was completely out of his mind and more of an actor behind the drums. Fun and witty and entertaining as hell but nowhere near the power of Bonham. Keith’s playing reminded me of Dino Danelli from the Young Rascals, another quirky fun drummer to watch. Bonham was a solid crusher. Dig ‘em both and cite them as influences but I would always go with Bonham on that comparison.

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And there you have it. 20 questions with one of the nicest guys in rock / punk / surf / blues / etc. Now go listen to Pat Travers’s “Snortin Whiskey, Drinkin Cocaine” to hear Tommy Aldridge in action [Professor Bunkum was very excited when wine snob flick “Sideways” had that tune playing in the background of the tow truck driver’s house.]

This Week in Metal (2/2)

This is a pretty good week to be a metal fan in Los Angeles:

  • TUESDAY - Meshuggah, the Swedish masters of insane time signatures and 8-string guitars, return to the sonically friendly and fan unfriendly House of Blues with Florida progressives Cynic.  Here are some pics from last night's show in Anaheim.  
  • WEDNESDAY - Scion, oddly the official car of metal, presents another free show at the Knitting Factory with Pig Destroyer.  To get in, you must RSVP here and be aware that entry is not guaranteed so get there early.    

  • THURSDAY - There are two great shows tonight.  First, you have Intronaut, Black Math Horsemen, Giant Squid and 16 at Knitting Factory.  Second, the Freeks (featuring Isiah Mitchell of Earthless and Ruben Romano, formerly of Nebula) are playing what I believe is their first show ever in LA at Spaceland, along with Sasquatch and Brad Davis of Fu Manchu.  The San Diego CityBeat tells their story.       
  • FRIDAY - I'm taking the night off. 
  • SATURDAY - You've got a few options.  There's the closing party for the Kevin Rumanis art exhibit, "Snake Behind My Eyes."  There's the final thrash show at the Black Castle, headlined by Merciless Death and Fueled by Fire, apparently because the youth of today cannot control their tendency for ultraviolence.  Non-thrash metal shows will continue on at the Castle pending repairs.  And It's Casual is joined by Biblical Proof of UFOs at the Relax Bar.

Rock on.

 

The Third Degree with Eddie Solis (Part 2)

Last week we talked to Eddie about his band, It's Casual.  Today, we cover his metal club, the Relax Bar.  And in an amazing coincidence, it so happens that It's Casual is headlining the Relax Bar this Saturday night.  If you haven't had a chance to check the place out, here's your opportunity.

So how did the Relax Bar come to be?

I got to tell you, man, it really came out of nowhere. As you know, the Southern Lord office is right down the street and one day I’m passing by at lunchtime like always and I stick my head in, and see a little stage with a backline set up. Drum sets and some little amps, and I was like “Whoa, what’s going on here?”

I looked at the acoustics and the layout, and realized that this location in the middle of Hollywood, just west of Silver Lake, and across from a Red Line stop was pretty damn nice.  The language barrier with the owners – they are from Thailand – was not going to stop me.  They even understood my vision, and appreciated that I wanted this to be a place where everything underneath the metal umbrella is welcome, whether it’s experimental, progressive, black metal, death metal, thrash, hardcore – it’s all welcome here. Good hard rock.  We sat down and worked out the details, and it’s been in the history book ever since 2005.

A lot of small venues seem scared off by metal because of security concerns.  It’s all overblown and unwarranted, but have you had any problems?

You know, the deal I have with them, is that we have an armed security guard at the door. He’s there, because it is Hollywood – anything can happen.  But you know what, we have never had one fight.  I can say with a smile on my face that we’ve had no problems! I’ve had Municipal Waste do a secret show there with a big crowd, and it was all good.  Unholy Grave from Japan – same deal.  It was all ages, and kids with skateboards filled the place.  It was absolute chaos in there!  But nobody was there to fight.  When one went down, another would help them up.

So the violence, it doesn’t exist, really. The only time I see it is at huge corporate-sponsored metal festivals when they try to gouge people by charging $8 for bottled water!  And those people pay $88 of their good hard money to get into that show.

MUNICIPAL WASTE @ RELAX BAR


What the fuck is up with pay-to-play?

No way - we don’t do it.  But a lot of Hollywood venues do. My opinion on pay-to-play – I’m not going to say it’s right or wrong – is that when you sign a contract to play at one those venues, it’s fair because you know what you’re getting yourself into.  We like to have $10 shows.  We take the first 26 to pay for security and staff.  Everything over that goes to the bands.  With a capacity of 200, that leaves over $1000 available to the bands.  So I tell them, if you could each bring 15 or 20 people, you’re going to come out ahead.  Playing in Hollywood and making money – that’s a good thing.

What’s the most memorable show for you?

It’s a three way tie between Municipal Waste, Unholy Grave with Phobia show, and Torche with Clouds.

  

UNHOLY GRAVE @ RELAX BAR


Mine is the first show I saw at the Relax Bar. It was supposed to be Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound and Circle.  And it was sort of an accidental show, because there was a lot of confusion about the set times, and who was playing when, and where the bands were, and if they’d even show up on time.  The bassist for Assemble Head was there but the rest of those guys couldn’t make it.  And then Circle just appeared, they set up all their shit, and renewed my faith in music.  All in front of just 20 people that were crowded up by the stage.      

Yeah, I remember that one.  Their agent contacted me, and I think there was issue with their original venue, and I told her let’s just make this work. It has to happen, they have to play L.A.

Speaking of the stage, last time I was there bands were playing on the floor because I guess they thought the stage was too tight. Do you have any plans for an interior redesign?

I know we’re going to upgrade the sound system. The owners are looking to do that in the next couple of weeks, but the natural acoustics of the place sound really good.  As for the space, I tell the bands to put your backline and your drums on the stage, and let everyone else play on the floor. You get a natural drum-riser and the lighting in the room looks cool when you have all the gear up there.

Indeed – the place is a gem.  

 

20 Questions with Dusty Watson (Part 1)

Professor Bunkum Reports In From His Time Machine:

Alright rivetheads (that's how old I am), I'm out here overlooking the 210 in Pasadena, avoiding work and wondering about the bass line to "The Trooper" and why Def Leppard's "High and Dry"wasn't their best seller. We have a treat today with a brief Q n A from Dusty Watson, the greatest drummer you should have heard of. Dusty has been around the LA music scene since Vince Neil was too young to fall in love--even in Alabama. And the man can play. Watching Dusty play drums will put you in a trance. Every 2 and 4 on the snare is like a metronome, even though the barage of fills in between would make you swear on your grandpa Dio's Bible that the guy just HAS TO go out of time on this one. I've seen him play punk, metal, surf, blues -- even dub-style reggae (no echo needed b/c he does his own), and he nails them all.

Dusty's perfect timing on the drums is matched only by his perfect bad timing on musical trends, but he's not complaining. Bands he has been (or almost been) involved with include: Panic (a little combo later known as Black Flag); Concrete Blonde (just before they got huge); Agent Orange; Lita Ford (just before getting famous -- see the video for "Out For Blood" below); CH3; The Queers; Supersuckers; Boo Yaa Tribe; Legs Diamond; Dick Dale; Slacktone; Jon and Nightriders; Becky Barksdale; Bloodhook; Sugartooth; the Surfaris; Rhino Bucket and a bunch of one offs. For our purposes, Dusty was here for the whole metal thing in the 80's and has some good stories. Unfortunately, he was in Legs Diamond, which meant he went Foreigner when he should have gone Sweet, but he was still a fly on the wall:

1. Did you really date Lita Ford? Is she crazy? A nymphomaniac? Did she marry the guy from WASP? Did Joan Jett ever take her down? How many heterosexuals were in the Runaways?

I never 'dated' Lita anymore than anyone else did. Lita and me hung out a lot doing drugs and drinking and playing music. And that lifestyle led us to all kinds of places which included fucking and sucking and puking and passing out. I was the one puking and passing out usually. Joan never came around when I was with Lita. Her and Lita had differences of opinion and that is what broke up the Runaways. The others came around a lot. I was pretty good friends with Sandy West. I liked Vikki Blue. Hey I really liked Lita too but I was too young and fucked up to know how to express it in any productive way.


2. Tell us about your infamous "confrontation" with Nikki Sixx regarding Lita Ford.

Me and Lita were hanging out at the bar in front of The Troubadour and Nikki was there. He was all pissy one night cuz I had left a note for him on Lita's car in the parking lot at the NAMM show. I don't remember what it said, something like 'Roses are red violets are blue no one sucks more than Motely Crue' or some stupid shit like that. Nikki got his little heart broken and wanted to get tough with me. I pushed him into the corner and told him to go back to the sandbox and fuck himself. He kept putting out his hand and I wouldn't shake it. I ended up punching him in the face I don't even know why, and he got pretty upset. Now that I think about it I was really an asshole and I don't think Nikki did or said anything to deserve that. Hmmm. Oh well.

3. Did Lita Ford write any songs on the first Motley Crue album?

I really don't know. I do know I liked their first record. The rest of them were pretty much shit tho. I do remember when Lita and Nikki were living together I was over doing blow sometimes and they were writing songs but Motely Crue's first record was already out by this time I am pretty sure.

4. Tell us about your audition for Ozzy.


I heard through some friends that Ozzy was hiring a new drummer and wanted the drummer from Lita Ford's first album. So I made some calls and talked to Sharon and her assistant several times we have good conversations and everything sounds good. I get a new kit from Ludwig and practice up on my double bass. I had switched back over to a single bass drum a while before this. I get to the audition and it's a fucking cattle call. Several guys pacing around outside. Dumb asses mostly. Jake Lee comes outside for a smoke in between drummers and we talk for a few minutes then I go in with him. Its none other than Bob Daisley on bass. Monster. Ozzy is sitting in the back but I dont talk with him. They had a house kit and I set it up for double bass (the previous guy had unhooked the slave pedal) and I did a once around to make sure everything was in place. Maybe I played a short blast that lasted 10 or 15 seconds. Ozzy stood up and muttered 'ahhh fuckin shit double bass fuckin gawd awful fuckin shit.....' and stumbled out the door. We looked at each other and played one of his songs I forget which one, then that was it, never to hear from them again. Turns out he DOES hire one of Lita's drummers but its Randy Castillo the guy who replaced me when I left in 84. And he plays a single kick, exactly what Ozzy was looking for at the time. Who knew?

5. Did you make a conscious decision to go AOR instead of glam in the 80's and do you regret that decision?


I really wasn't doing much of anything when I joined Legs Diamond in 84. I had left Lita, went on a long motorcycle ride (a couple of months around the country sleeping in a tent). I was kinda doing nothing. A friend of mine, Joel Brandes (who manages WAR and Sly Stone amongst others) called and asked if I would go check them out. They were local and so I did and we hit if off. I ended up staying with them for 10 years off and on, recorded a bunch of records and did some tours. They were good guys but yeah a little on the easy side but it was cool.

6. Who is the best rock drummer you know who went unheralded (aside from you)?

Rob Oswald from Nebula. Fuckin guy rocks.

7. Do you give a fuck about anyting connected to the phrase "Neil Peart"?


I saw Neil Peart open for Ted Nugent in '76 or '77. He was a blistering drummer but it kind of freaked me out that he played the same exact solo live as he did on the live record that was just released. That meant to me that he had worked every note out and played the same fucking solo every goddamn night. I didn't want to see him anymore after that. Turns out I was involved with Rush receiving a plaque for their contributions to vetarans of war about 20 years later and believe it or not the motherfucker did another copy of that same solo. Fuck that. But I have to admit he is quite a technician. I'm just not into that kind of thing.

8. How many years from the 80's can you actually remember?

HAAAAAAAAA! Well think of it like a really good dream. When you wake up the next morning there are all kinds of flashes and images and feelings attached to it, but you wouldn't bet your life on any of it.

9. Was Brian Forsythe from Rhino Bucket the secret weapon of Kix?

Brian is a fucking rock star. Greatest feel and sound of any rock guitarist around that dude makes you FEEL good when he plays. I wish I had more time to play with those guys if for no other reason than to just hear Brian wail.

10. I like the Dictators. Discuss.

RESPECT THE ROCK! Dictators kick ass. I couldnt believe it when that record came out when was that? 2002 I think I don't know, anyway I was really blown away that they could write those great songs. I mean, c'mon does anyone over 40 have a fucking worthy thing to say? I don't know. I'm over 40 and I know to keep my fucking mouth SHUT cuz if I try to come off like I know what's going on on the street or in your parent's house or what's happening in school well that's just a load of shit. I can hang with anyone and I actually relate to 20 somethings a helluva lot easier than my age group, but I just think Handsome Dick knows how to write a great rock song that is what I'm trying to say.