"NEW SONG! OLD SONG!"
Popped up to London for a few Cinzano Biancos with Dom Zero. (Did we really eat 40 cocktail sausages? How can that be possible) Thanks for the sofa, old chap, the spare Doc Savage Bantam editions and the 4-hour relay Abi Titmuss Slagathon. Hey, and that Clark Ashton-Smith book rocks. Ta.
Prior to the Cheryl Ladd/Logans Run/Buck Rogers in the 25th Century reminiscences, The Great Naziploitation debate and the friday morning Crocodile Vs. Lake Placid discussion down the caff, I'd visited Brick Lane to check out Shit 'n' Shine and Acid Mothers Temple.
Is it just me or are The Butthole Surfers in danger of finally becoming an influence. SnS were magnificent: their new triple drum line-up mashed up the place, but London being London, people are sometimes slow to show their appreciation, if y'know what I mean. So, yeah, the SS boys showed a hint of mid-80's Buttholes acid-fuelled rock aggro, combined with the sour Sub- Sabbaff vibes of Super Ae era Boredoms.Their set was a single drum-beat/fuzz-riff recycled relentlessly for 40 minutes until your head finally melted down into a gooey, fudge-like consistency. They were utterly fantastic. Like Spike says: "It's drums and basses, innit."
All you need to know or do is this: Go to the Riotseason website, buy the Shit & Shine LP and then check out the film clip of them in action. Or vice versa. It doesn't matter which way round you do it. You won't regret it. Trust me: they're terrific.
Okay. Back to Shit & Shine's set: first, one drummer comes on in a balaclava and starts pounding the skins, then another one in a weird super-hero/wrestling-mask type thing joins in, and then the third arrives with her hair combed down over her face Cousin It stylee. Once the drums are up and going, on come the lads with their faces also obscured by some serious backwards hair abuse. Fantastic stuff: the band lock straight into a hypnotic, scuzzed-up Ur-Dirge. It looks great and sounds great. When I spoke to C. Clouse afterwards (Yo! Craig: word, m'man!) he told me it was a cover version, but fucked if I can remember of what. ("We really oughta play some new shit," he said, shaking his head and fretting needlessly.) Thanks for the backstage hospitality, man.
(Shit and Shine in full Karmic Overdrive Mode: photo courtesy of a Tesco's 'Value' analogue-camera)
Craig's from Texas and he's a top bloke. He also plays in Todd. Did he ever see the Buttholes in their prime, I wondered. Nah, he says, but his wife did. (Yo, Tara! Go, girl, go...) Hmm, yeah, well I was lucky enuff to see them a couple times in the mid-Eighties. Once in Wales (with Skipper Webb's Yeovil/Odcombe/Martock-based cidernauts Dadi Janki supporting. The Skipper went on stage in a bacofoil bib and leggings; I know this 'cause I helped gaffer-tape him into it) and once in London, at this:
At this point things get a bit wobbly around the edges. Maybe it was the gin talking but I started to seriously think about the logistics of getting Shit and Shine to play Yeovil. Now, wouldn't that be something?
Hey...And what about Glyn (or Glen), AMT's Hammersmith-based special-guest flautist (and scarily accurate Frank Zappa doppelganger), also to be found lurking backstage: "They (AMT) don't want me to play tonight, but they gotta let me 'cause they're sleeping on my floor, right? But Makoto was very specific in his instructions: you only play on the 2nd encore, okay? (Cue: sudden paranoid angst attack) But how do I know when that is...How do I know exactly when to go on? I mean, are they gonna come back and get me? Nah, they're not, are they, 'cause they'll be playing. Or are they gonna signal to me? Maybe. But how will I recognise that signal? What if I go on too soon; I don't want them to think I'm being presumptious..."
So I follow him down a corridor (thinking: it's about time I finally found that toilet), up some steps and through a red curtain and...accidentally nearly walk on stage (from the rear) while AMT are still playing. I'm there with my head stuck through the curtain while Makoto and Co. are throwing some seriously heavy Acid Rock Shapes. Oh shit, I think, and scarper off, back round the front and stand next to the DJ where I'd started their set...
Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewind: I hadn't been too sure about AMT's first track; it was a bit Prog-Metal in places, but by song #2 they were firing on all four cylinders with Amon Duul II circa "Yeti" style throat-warblings over a crunching Buttholes-ish riff from around "Cream Corn from the socket of Davis". Again: The Buttholes; what is it with the Buttholes right now? Also: loved the inter-music banter back 'n forth between Makoto and Tsuyama and back out to the audience: "New song? Old Song! New Song? No, that's an old song...New song? Ha! yeah...That new song is an old song..."
Once they get going, it's brilliant stuff: a total acid freak-out with frenzied guitar flourishes and echoplexed Roland analogue bloops, squecks and fwooooshes. Makoto goes completely mental; it's as if he's been possessed by the ghost of a Pre-Paed arrest Pete Townsend. In the audience a lot of people with long unkempt hair and dirty tangled beards (and that's just the women) start furiously shaking their heads up and down completely out of time to the music. It's like Punk never happened and I'm having the best time ever. I just wish Darryl and Rehane were there so that I had someone to gleefully shriek at every time the music went up a notch. Is this what it was like at The Greyhound, Croydon on 16th December, 1972 when Duul played there? Ken Franklin's brother Paul (from Yeovil) was in that audience, 32 years back in the dim, swirling mists of KrautrockPre-History. Even today, my envy is visibly palpable and practically off the Richter Scale.
During a meditative mid-set lull I wonder off for a piss and that's when I bump into C. Clouse: Look! See! A non-linear review; didn't mean to go all non-continuum on y'all heads, but seeing AMT play does that to ya. Their music dicks around with the fabric of Space and Time itself. That Roland monophonic of theirs somehow disrupts stuff down at the sub-atomic level. It fucks with the Quantal Foam. Yeah, right...
(Higashi abusing what looks to be a Roland SH-1000 (or maybe a Saturn-09). Note: one of several dozen roll-ups smoked during the course of the gig..)
While I was gone there were droney drones and outbreaks of Japanese throat-singing and (surely I imagined this?) a brief rendition of "All around my Hat" by Bristol Folksters Steeleye Span. But as Glyn, er, Zappa takes to the stage and warms up his flute, they take it into the next phase, starting with a slow burn guitar-lick that builds and builds, gathering mass and momentum over 15 minutes until it threatens to take the roof off. Then they bring it back down and start playing (hesitatingly, at first) "Third eye of the whole world" which is corny as fuck but it's so achingly beautiful that I can feel my hair starting to grow and I've got a grin on my face that's as wide as the channel tunnel. It's like a slow escalator ride to heaven as the chiming guitar-lines swell and overlap and blur into each other and the band blasts off once again. Makoto's spazily jerking-off his guitar, holding it upside-down and making it squawk and scream and squeal, and (did I imagine it or...) were the audience holding him up at one point as he spun his guitar around and round until the venue's resident Nazi Doorman ("Backa da queue now, pal! Now! Move!") wandered up on the stage and signalled for the lights to go up, and Glyn's still stood there next to the drum-kit, like the skinny, pale ghost of Zappa with his flute at half-mast, smiling haplessly, completely skunked out of his tits. God bless AMT, and God help them if they're sleeping on his floor tonight.
Reeeewind#2: I had a quiet chat with Makoto earlier in the evening and he seemed shy and gentle, almost humble, completely at odds to his manic, dervish-like stage-persona. This is a tragic admission, but I got him to autograph a copy of "Ultra Trip Cat" by Baroque Bordello, a rarer-than-hens-teeth yellow marbled vinyl LP on Qbico featuring some of his earliest trip-exploration pieces from '79/'80. The last time I copped an autograph off someone was, like, never.
As I drunkenly lurch down Brick Lane, wondering how I've managed to misplace an entire tube-station (It's at the end of the road, dickhead) , I get collared by a bunch of Desi boys in designer casuals, leaning on a silver-grey Merc or BMW or something. Smelling a mark, an out-of-town sucker fresh off the boat, they offer to taxi me over to Dom's house: "Where to? Where to, mister, eh?"
"Uh, Balhaaam," I slur, "How much?"
"Twenny-five quid, mister, innit."
"No," I laugh, "Thas too much..."
"Okay. How much you wanna pay, huh?"
"I was thinking maybe about a tenner," I say.
"Daaaaa...Fuck me, no..." they sneer, waving me away, pulling faces and jeering. "Daaa...Nah. You go and fuck off and catch the fucking bus home, eh, country boy... "