Sunday, December 25, 2005

F**k-in' Freeman!!

John Freeman. One-man Rock Assault!

An extremely late Merry Freakin' Christmas to all you unwashed masses! And Happy New Year while I'm at it. It's about time I paid tribute to a man that you are probably famliar with if you live in the DFW area, and pay attention to local undergound music. If you don't live here you might have heard of some of his bands, and since relocating to New York a few years back he's taken to spreading his disease there as well. He's had a buncha these "groups" but some include: The Dooms U.K., The Dutch Treats, The Meat Helmets, The Cockouts, The Psychos, Duck Duck Annihilation, Telethon, Danza, Alan Parson's Projectile, The Delicious Bulls, Pink Mistake, The Golden Vipers, and The Thrilling Chilling Sounds of the Haunted House. John Freeman (also known as Johnny Murder, Uncle Sloppy, etc.) started out as simply "The Dooms" when he wrote a set of songs about Emmanuel Lewis, Patrick Swayze, Chewbacca, and other noteable subjects to be performed with his own guitar accompaniment at a friends's party in Denton, Texas. He soon had a band that seemed to start out with the intention of being a "rap and roll" band (mind you this was the early '90's). They quickly evolved into a more experimental beast that came to full fruition with the release of the now classic album Greasy Listening. Though truly a band, it is widely accepted that John was the "brains" behind the group, writing the lyrics and forging the direction in which they would head. His songs inhabit a world I can truly relate to; equal parts Bad T.V. and Pop Culture, Dungeons and Dragons, Punk/Metal, Extreme Sarcasm, Ernest Borgnine and a encyclopedic knowledge of Rock and Roll both good and bad. The word genius gets tossed around a lot these days so let me throw this fools name into the ring. (Robert Wilonksy said nearly the same thing in this weeks Dallas Observer, but I wrote this before I saw that rag.)

In addition to making music this Super-Nova is a cartoonist, writer, actor/voice over dude and Nanny to the stars. His comics are really funny, and drawn in his trademark jittery style, and though I'm most familiar with his writing via his song lyrics, what little else I've read was very well done. I have witnessed a "performance" of one of his plays, and the name escapes me but it took place at a science fiction/comic book convention in the '80's. Needless to say...It was a gut-blasting riot. Watching him perform live is the best way to get a feel (if you know what I mean) for his whole shtick, as he is an amazing improvisational comedian. I guess a large part of his appeal is that he is literally one of the funniest people ever to grace this world, and I can't undertand why he isn't at least as well known as any of those Blue Collar Comedy tour guys or Ruth Buzzie. I didn't make it up to Dan's Silverleaf in Denton for his only DFW appearance this year last night but I can only imagine there were smiles, and lots of bodily fluids all around.

I'll never forget the time I was treated to a very intimate solo performance of "Waterfalls" by TLC in my truck during a run I took John on to retrieve his guitar to play some keg party, or the time he scared an army of zoned-out hippies by opening the Fry Street Fair with the song "Hippies". (basically a rallying cry for the death of that type of hairy person.) The Dooms U.K. realeased one more album enititled Art Rock Explosion which documents the later Dooms fairly well. I love both discs for different reasons, but if you want a little taste you can check out some of these links:

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=11841340
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=9543087
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=40928900

Some of his comix, as well as those by other local peeps can be found here:

http://www.polypop.com/index.htm

Sunday, December 04, 2005

A homecoming of sorts...

Bob and I made the treck up to lovely Denton, Tx. to the Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio to see The Apeshits, Birthday Suits, and Marked Men ply their punk, and/or rock wares Friday night. It turned out to be one of the best shows I've seen in a long time. Having seen the Men only once before their year-long break I was ready for them to move my ass, and they have only gotten better. One of the tightest bands of the rock and roll underground in my opinion, with the added bonus of power-pop hooks played with punk intensity. But you've heard about them before. When we got to the club Austins' Apeshits were on and based on the couple of songs I managed to check out I'd love to see more. They had the same kind of intensity but a wilder , noiseier, and more playful/sloppy attack. I was jealous of the fun they seemed to be having up there. At least one of these cats was in the Carpetbaggers, and since my good buddy "Wild Bill" Ivy digs em I need to delve deeper. (The mans got taste!)

But the guys who blew me away that night were The Birthday Suits. Comprised of two former members of Sweet J.A.P. the Suits have a very full sound when you consider it's just a drumset, a guitar, and an amp turned up really loud for that "natural" distortion we all know and love. I can see how garage and/or punk purists might cringe at what these guys are doing but let them. It's their loss. I was trying to categorize them somehow (I hate labels but they are an excellent shorthand for describing music), and phrases like "jammy-garage" and "space punk/punk space" didn't seem to be sufficient but you might get a vague idea. The drummer did and amazing job of laying a strong foundation(not your typical punk beats but very rocking) for guitarist and vocalist Hideo to alternate between short bursts of structured pop-like intensity, and leg-kicking punk rock and roll swagger. He was flying all over the stage, even running up to the wall and kicking off in a 180 turn all the while continuing to bring the noise. I wish Bobs camera-phone had managed some better pics of any of these bands but we'll have to settle for the really blurry one of Hideo (top/right) and the grafitti from Rubber Gloves restroom( bottom/left) for now. We think it says "I f***ed your Dog" under the tag. I stole the other two pics from various sites.

This night made me remember why I loved living in Denton. I hadn't been there for a show in a couple of years at least and I talked to a bunch of old friends, most of whom weren't even there for the show, and some of whom live here in Dallas. There's this crazy Extreme Wrestling League in Denton that I've got to check out...