Speaking of Bananas magazine, a couple months ago, their issue # 4 had a GREAT feature on the Hate Bombs, a 90s band out of Florida that RAWKED. These guys had nuts-o shows and 2 great albums that were plain old fun in terms of garage rock. The feature talks about the history of the band, it's influences and impact on the 90s garage rock scene. It's an amazing article by Charles Gaskins and one of the highlights of the magazine for me. I wasn't all that familiar with 90s garage rock outside of the mummies, thee headcoats and some other stuff, and so I actually got in contact with Ken about who to check out. Needless to say, the bands he got me hip to blew my mind. The Lyres, The Swingin' Neckbreakers, The Cynics, DMZ (who came a bit earlier but still rock), the Woggles, The Lime Spiders, and lots more. All these bands were making really groovy unpretentious music to dance to and have a great time.
When I started my blog, I wanted to introduce more people to the 90s scene because although bands like the Oblivians continue to make themselves relevant through things like Goner, some bands get forgotten. I was interested in keeping these bands fresh and getting to know the scene well.
So I contacted Ken again and barraged him with a bunch of questions. He's a really awesome guy though and so he answered them.
I'm planning on finding more people to interview who were in bands at the time, but this is part one of a series of features on 90s garage.
Without further ado...Ken Chiodini of the Hate Bombs!
Jordan: What were the big garage venues of the 90s and have they continued to function? (I'll do some research on this myself, but if you could send me a list, I'd really appreciate it)
Ken: Big venues- "Garage Friendly" List. Theres more. just search garage festivals of the 90's and see what happens. theres a ton overseas too.
Star Bar-Atlanta Ga.-Hosted "FuzzFest" a few times
Local 506-Chapel Hill N.C.- "Sleezefest"
Go Lounge-Orlando Fl.-The Hate Bombs played w/ 5678's ,the Lyres,the
Woggles,Subsonics etc.at different times.
3B Tavern -Upstate Wa.-"Garage Shock" Estrus Records Dude.
Barristers-Memphis TN"Memphis Back Alley Brawl"
The Casbah-San Diego Ca.
Hollywood Mogules-Hollywood Ca. "Dionysus Demolition Derby"
Jordan: Was there a central hub, geographically, or was it a group of people?
Ken: It was spread out all over the place. I've never seen the mutual respect for one another like i've seen from that 90's garage era.So the networking was really
cool and easy even before cell phones and internet.
Jordan: Was there a notion of selling-out if a band made it big, or did this simply rarely happen?
Ken: Never happened. and if it did no-one would care as long as the sound was still cool.
Jordan: Did bands focus on their own aesthetic and making tunes they thought were good rather than make money?
Ken: Oh Yeah! don't play garage music if you want to make a lot of money.
Jordan: Once a band had a following, was it often seen as necessary or expected to help out other good bands?
Jordan: If so, how?
Ken: that happened with the hate bombs. The band Man or Astro man asked if we'd be the support for 3 shows in fla.we were so blown away at their generosity. they even would kick in money from their own guarentees to help us out. Southern Culture on the skids also did the same thing.
Jordan: Did crossovers between genres ever exist, and did labels who kind of stuck to one kind of music ever reach out to the garagepunk world? (I'm thinking more of the indie and punk spheres of music: subpop/merge/matador and also labels like No Idea/Plan-it-x/Dischord and others)
Ken: yes crossovers did exsist between genres like
garagepunk/surf/psych/folk/ beat. we all played together pretty well. oh yeah there was this weird time when ska bands were playin with the hate bombs alot. i don't know why. i guess when a state or city is"nowheresville" all the misfit genres hook up. crossover did exist at labels too.matador released lyres records and sub pop released a bunch of weird stuff way off from their grunge reputation. they tried to get the mummies but the mummies being the snotties that they are told sub pop to fuck off!
Jordan: How did bands tend to make livings?
Ken: the same as any one. from graphic artists to shipping clerks to mailmen to bar backs to radio station ad men to un employed etc.
Jordan: Which bands split up and which made new forms?
Ken: hate bombs semi split w/occasional reunions, swingin neckbreakers are still around woggles are still
going strong. ya gotta look that one up yerself the list on both sides are endless.
Jordan: What do you, personally, think about the new garage world, especially artists coming out of San Francisco like Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Fresh & Onlys, Sic Alps? But also some of the newer bands coming on record labels like In The Red and Goner Records?
Ken: i'll check em out on you tube and let ya know. i'm not hip to them yet.
Jordan: Does garage rock find itself dealing with the question of being accessible?
Ken: To me some of the most popular songs of all time are garage songs like "you really got me" by the kinks or "wild thing" the troggs or "just like me" paul revere and the raiders.it should be number one hits and used in movies and all over the radio
but its not. DJ's are bought and sold these days and programmers want it vanilla across the board so now when people hear something rough and ready they don't know what to do with it. it could be the greatest song in the world.but in a weird way garage bands die on their own swords on purpose cause they want it to stay unafected. no second takes,no polishing up of the vocals,lo-budget,etc.
Jordan: What kind of evolution happens in the genre?
Ken: in the 80's early 90's there was movement towards glam! like a new york dolls vibe. thats cool too i just couldnt do it. as a musician and a writer i prefer to just expand on the many influences that go into garage. i think most garage bands are die hard stubborn people.
Jordan: Are people receptive to the evolutions?
Ken: lets say you're in a "garage" band and you ask 4 members of that band what garage is. youd get 4 different answers. but i think theyd all say 2 things,garage is "raw" and is an "attitude". as long as you have that than i think its accepted if you swerve a little.
Jordan: What do you think is Garage rock's role in music and do you think it is something worthwhile or in need of capturing something new?
Ken: it is here to serve as a pallet cleanser to impurities. its the ruffage in a bad diet of mainstream rock.it is not in need of something new cause its right! Its fun! Its danceable! and that stuff is NEVER popular in a jaded world. people are to cool to dance unless its obvious
dance music.It can expand within itself it doesnt have to change but at the same time it does change over time.like the 60's garage is a lot less punk in most cases than 90's garage so mid 70's punk influenced a lot of the 90's garage bands as much as 60's band did.
Thanks a bunch!
any time jordan
Also, if there are any other resources or people who you think would be good to ask or just contact, please let me know.
try to find blair buscarino he did a blog in the 90's called banna truffle or he was always on it he also had a mag called "teen scene". he'd be a good one. hes a real cool cat.
Ken later got back to me after checking out some of the bands that I mentioned. Here's his response to how cool they are.
the answer to your question about sic alps etc etc is this...
sic alps-john lennon vibe garagey yet expanded almost dinosaur jr like em
fresh and onlys-spaghetti western psych experiment like em
the oh sees-fun attitude tongue in cheek garage without being stuck in it like it
ty segall-more indie than garage but a little of both like em
obn iii's-stooges undercurrent to "runnin on fumes" overall sounds a little like the Oblivions
from Memphis like em
I love seeing this happen again. this is great stuff ,thanks
Stay unique, music fans.