It has been awhile since I’ve posted here. Some personal things kept me away for the earlier part of this year. The music is still going strong so I had to jump in and update the blog with a post for our show this weekend in support of Nebula and Sasquatch on the “Holy Shit Tour”. This is their final U.S. date before they head off to Europe, so we expect an epic send-off!
We also just finished recording the next album “Czardust” at Light Rail Studios and are putting the finishing touches on that right now, so look out for that in the near future!
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Continued coverage of Turn Me On Dead Man 2018 European tour
After playing to a very small crowd in Salzburg on Sunday, we did not expect much from a Monday night gig. We rolled into Dresden late in the afternoon and aside from the ubiquitous graffiti, there were still remnants of bombed out structures from 1945. This definitely was not lost on us, we all got a bit humbled thinking about the atrocities of the not so distant past.
The venue, Ostpol, was just as interesting, another very old building that survived the times. It functioned as a collective and served as a pub/venue and a live-work space for artists and musicians. The rooms we stayed in were above the venue and the building was essentially left as it was when the revolution occurred in 1989.
The view from the venue:
As mentioned above, we had very low expectations, it was a Monday and it was maybe 30 degrees outside and getting colder as the sun went down. We were prepared to have a fun loose time with our new friends and support act Saloon Bizarre who we hung out with up in our room pre-show.
We talked about our respective music scenes and how The Bay Area is so dominated by tech industry folks and the effect it has on the integrity of the music coming out etc…turns out these guys work in tech in Dresden! We all had a good laugh and we really grew to like these guys.
Saloon Bizarre went down to play and Jonesy went to check them out, after a few minutes he comes back upstairs and says “Guys, the place is packed!” We all went down and sure enough there were bodies to the wall and Saloon Bizarre were killin’ it! They had a cool post punk style with tricky little turn arounds and a powerful sound, nice and tight and clean as a three piece.
Now here are one of those times where you just have to enjoy the experience. I had been making an effort to document this whole trip, especially the performances and tonight all my devices were full, so what happens? We play one of our best sets yet to a packed house and captured none of it! The stage was really shallow so I had to stand front and center and not move too far in any direction lest I get sliced by a cymbal. At one point, and this is something I’ve never seen, Ziggy did a deep back bend during a solo, smacked his headstock on a mic stand or something and knocked himself horribly out of tune. After trying to re-tune on the fly and just making it worse we stopped mid song with the crowd watching in anticipation for a potential melt down while Ziggy quickly tuned back up and we launched into the next part of the song with the crowd right there with us! It was as if it never happened, this weird interlude where the train slid off the tracks for a moment and everyone held on for dear life, but the train kept a rollin’ and we knew we had ’em with us.
The rest of our set was a blast and we really hit our stride at this show, this was also the best crowd yet and a welcome surprise after having such low expectations, not of the Dresden scene in particular but of a Monday night winter gig in general. We had a fun time afterwards mixing it up with the locals and the bartender was playing this excellent proto-punk stuff I just had to know about. I got turned on to Ton Steine Scherben and I’m not sure which album but it was from the early or mid 70’s and had an aggressive sound.
Quite a few people stuck around after the show to hang out and drink beer and socialize. It was so cold out, seemed like the optimal choice! The bar was cozy and festive and the barkeep was playing killer tunes and we really had a great time at Ostpol!
Video of one song from our set surfaced and you can now experience the vibe!
The following morning Ziggy and I took a stroll through town to find an independent record store, any one would do. We rarely had time to do this but we wanted to at least try to get some records into the local stores in all the places we played. I think this was the only successful attempt!
We got loose directions to a spot not too far away that carried independent music and took a jaunt through town.
We saw this spot first but it was closed and looked kinda boring anyway:
We soldiered on and after a few blocks we came to the “Arty” part of town:
Took some promo shots:
Almost immediately we found Drop Out Records and waited a few minutes for them to open. It was a small shop packed with a good selection of vinyl and some cds, mostly punk, indie and metal, they took a few records and we deemed the mission a success!
ZWINGER MUSEUM/EL RODIZIO
We reconnected with the rest of the gang and dialed in a lunch destination. While en route we came across The Zwinger Museum. The architecture was amazing and as with a lot of buildings in Dresden, parts of it were under reconstruction. There is still a lot of this work going on to repair the damages from the 1945 bombings.
This place specialized in Brazillian cuisine and I ordered the Feijoada. Everything looked amazing and my dish was excellent! The owner even came out when he heard some Americans were hanging out, a few ordering tequila at noon. He brought out a top shelf brand and did a shot with us. I don’t drink but I took a swig just for taste and spit it out. If I was a tequila drinker this would easily be a favorite, I think it was Padre Azul, it had a leather jacket on the bottle which the owner gave to us, the jacket, not the bottle of course. Such hospitality and amazing food, highly recommended!
We ate well and high tailed it out of town…next stop Berlin!
It was almost a year ago back in February that we embarked on this journey through parts of Europe. I’ve been, very sporadically, posting pics and video from each town/city we played in. There are still a few more to go, so bear with me. It’s worth it for some of the pics! This post is particularly photo heavy, so dig in. Actually, I have no video to share from this show or the next one, so enjoy the slideshows from the journey.
The drive to Salzburg was a winter wonderland:
This old tunnel bridge was cool:
We made a pit stop to touch the snow and this guy approached us, ranting in broken Germanglish about some esoteric shit while drawing this bird and devil dude in the frost on our rear window, perhaps warning us about Austrian Chupacabras?
It was cold but pretty:
Salzburg was a bust as far as attendance. The venue we played at had had a huge festival event the prior evening and pretty much everybody in town was burnt out. It was also Sunday. We weren’t too concerned as we expected fluctuations throughout the week. When you perform every night of the week and you are relatively unknown, you know that every night is essentially a crap shoot and to roll with it. That being said, the venue was a really unique space and the promoter/club owner was really nice. We were set up back stage with plenty of beverages cold and hot. It was somewhere around 25 degrees outside, so a hot beverage was quite welcome! Another nice thing was that our room was just around back, behind the venue.
The Rockhouse was once an old beer cellar carved out of a mountain, bunker style. It still had exposed walls of rock everywhere and the curved ceiling made for an excellent aesthetic and acoustics.
I encountered a giant squid during my explorations:
Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart. We had to explore the city by night. Jonesy, Ziggy and I ditched the pizza party at the venue and went on a jaunt in search of a good meal and Mozarts abode. Crossing the river gave us a great view of the old buildings along the banks all lit up.
In search of The Mozart museum.
Lovers of keys…and doors.
Jonesy wasn’t hungry and he wandered off to explore the streets further while Ziggy and I continued to search for dinner. We window shopped along the way.
We found a great spot and also managed to locate the 2 death rockers that live in Salzburg.
This beef soup dish was amazing:
We got back in time to catch some of the opening band and we played a tight set to a small crowd. I have no video to share from this show, or the next one in Dresden, so enjoy the pics and there are a few more installments left in this rock and travel series. Stay tuned!
I’ve been noticing a bit of a trend in the interest in tape loops. It has been happening slowly for a few years that cassettes in general have seen a strong return as a desired media for obtaining music. They are great for small bands that can’t afford to release cds or very costly vinyl, and they are also more affordable for fans to purchase.
I still have almost all of my cassette collection from the 80’s when I started hustling Columbia House for tapes from their pretty limited catalog. Aside from the loads of pop and pap, there were a handful of ‘alternative’ releases on major labels in the likes of REM, The Cure, Depeche Mode etc. so I gleaned as much of that as I could. I mostly recorded underground Hip-Hop and punk shows off of WBNY in the mid 80’s and started collecting punk and hardcore cassettes from Record Theater and Home of The Hits and a few bands in Buffalo, NY around the same time.
I bought my first 4 track machine, a Fostex, around 1993 and began my own explorations with the medium. I also used to experiment with 2 boom boxes and ‘air bouncing’ sounds to create layers, very noisy layers. Some of this still exists somewhere but not much of it survived as I was a bit careless and chaotic about storing stuff in the early days.
I came back to 4 track machines maybe 5 years ago after taking a break from experimenting as I was more focused on various band projects from the late 90’s throughout the early 00’s. I also got into tape looping a bit and even made one of my own, a real pain in the ass if you’ve ever tried it. Still it is a lot of fun and you can get really unique sonic results especially when messing with the pitch. I also discovered a site where you could buy loop cassettes of various lengths already made. I got a few, some 1 minute, some 3 minute. I also scored an old answering machine with a 45 second loop tape in it for message playback. I also bought a couple of very short custom made loop cassettes from a guy on Bandcamp a few years ago, can’t remember who that was at the moment but there was already music on them (nothing original) and these were 6-8 seconds in length and I just recorded over that stuff.
Anyway, I have been seeing a lot of people getting away from the DAW and looking to things like modular and desktop synths, more tactile things, and some are also getting back to the world of analog and tape.
One of my favorite artists working in this medium is Amulets out of Portland, below is a recent installation/collaboration from his youtube channel. Explore further and you will find a variety of clever hacks and experiments involving the cassette and various tape machines:
Another wonderful artist is Hainbach from Berlin who does a lot with tape reels as well as dictaphone experiments in conjunction with modular synths and more. His channel is as entertaining as it is informative:
I don’t consider these guys trendy as they have been at it for awhile, and as you can see, they take the form to different places and elevate it, but I have seen more than a handful of people (peep #tapeloops on instagram) getting into it within the past few months and I wonder how long before it gets ‘big’? We never thought we’d see vinyl come back like it has, so maybe the next logical step is this continued return to ‘dead’ media. I wonder if we will start to see people making proper ‘mix tapes’ again, from newly pressed records onto newly manufactured blanks. Maybe this is already happening and I’m just not aware.
The video that inspired this post, from the guys at Perfect Circuit, is a pretty nice ambient experiment they did with a stack of old boom boxes and some loop tapes just playing on them, naturally phasing and shifting. The boom box in the video, the JVC top and center was the first boom box I ever owned back in the mid 80’s and it just brought back a load memories when I saw it, I had to share: