From The Desk Of The Primitives: What To Wear? Guidance For Up-And-Coming Bands And Singers From Hatchmeister

The Primitives have been invited to guest edit MAGNET this week, so we thought we’d spin right back through memory, as the line from the title track of our new album, Spin-O-Rama, goes (how’s that for a clever bit of crowbarring?), and revisit some music-related experiences from our childhood, youth and early days of the band. There’s also some other random stuff to do with the world of the Primitives. It’s been a pleasure putting all this together, as there wouldn’t normally be any reason to relay any of this stuff. So thanks MAGNET, we’re enjoying the delve.

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The Primitives: We thought a lot about Tony’s advice when we were starting out, but in the end went with the Byrds’ simple dictum: “If your hair’s combed right and your pants are tight, it’s gonna be all right.”

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Normal History Vol. 292: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 30-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

In this week’s column, I continue to compare songs on Calico Kills The Cat with songs on our new album, Empathy For The Evil, from start to finish. See notes from Sept. 6, 2014.

8. “Joelle” (Calico Kills The Cat, 1989) This is one of my more compact story narratives. It came directly out of a chapbook called Hot Pink, which is sub-titled “the history of a situation” and on the back cover “the history of the frying pan” (fiction, Smarten UP!, 1987). The song and the book are based on my own history and opinions on the male/female dynamic . When I was about 18, my parents went away for a week or so and my boyfriend stayed over. I’d already lived on my own for some time, but moved back in with my parents to return to art school. In the morning I made my boyfriend pancakes and then, there I was washing the frying pan while he was in the living room watching TV. “With all the history and the energy of the situation” I brought the pan out of the soapy water and smashed it on the edge of the counter, thus denting it just enough so that the lid wouldn’t fit on it. My mom made me buy her a new pan. It was a copper-bottom Revere Ware piece: a 12-inch pan that seemed to cost rather a lot to replace. Anyway, that part isn’t in the song. When Mecca Normal was touring around the time of that album (Calico Kills The Cat), I recall buying fry pans—cheap ones—at thrift stores along the way and chucking them out into the audience from the stage during the part in “Joelle” where I’m singing about the history of the situation. Once, when we were playing the black box theater at the Washington Center for the Performance Arts in Olympia, they had the place lit so that I couldn’t really see the audience beyond the people directly in front of us. I remember waving the pan, working up to the part I was going to throw it and I was thinking. “This is sort of crazy, just throwing it out into the darkness and potentially hitting someone in the face.” I tossed it into the darkness, heard it land and carried on with the song. Many nights I forgot to go and find the pan, but I always savored losing it—letting go of it mid-song and then forgetting about it due to being involved in packing up equipment and talking to feminists, anarchists, librarians, writers, scientists and all the other interesting people along the way.

8. “Maisy’s Death” (Empathy For The Evil, 2014) The lyrics are directly out of my novel The Black Dot Museum Of Political Art, in which various characters’ backgrounds are examined in an attempt to explain their adult proclivities including, in this case, a narcissist named Martin Lewis. In next week’s column we will look at Martin’s mother Odele, who grew up poor on a farm that she fled at 17 years of age. Here we have Odele in her formative years, taking over the chores at age 14 after her mother’s death. In the absence of his wife’s presence, Odele’s father switches gears and starts ranting—”hurling his high-pitched railings”— at Odele, just like he did to his wife when she was alive.

It’s interesting how, with 25 years between Joelle and Odele (and I’m just now seeing the similarity of their names!), I’ve moved away from narratives based on my own history towards entirely imagined scenarios, yet both songs are solid examples of patriarchy on the home front. A sort of relentless repetition of male oppression saturates both tales.

“Joelle” from Calico Kills The Cat (K, 1989; Matador, 1991; Smarten Up!, 2003) (download):

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From The Desk Of The Primitives: Watch Your Step

The Primitives have been invited to guest edit MAGNET this week, so we thought we’d spin right back through memory, as the line from the title track of our new album, Spin-O-Rama, goes (how’s that for a clever bit of crowbarring?), and revisit some music-related experiences from our childhood, youth and early days of the band. There’s also some other random stuff to do with the world of the Primitives. It’s been a pleasure putting all this together, as there wouldn’t normally be any reason to relay any of this stuff. So thanks MAGNET, we’re enjoying the delve.

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The Primitives: That’s the third line of the Primitives song “Crash.” Not “watch your stay here” because that is complete nonsense and doesn’t even rhyme with the fourth line. The song has been covered quite a few times, and most sing that wrong line. It’s probably because someone put the wrong lyrics on the internet years ago and people trust that more than their own ears. It’s clearly “watch your step.” Even Belle & Sebastian got it wrong. Can we just say, again, for anyone thinking of covering “Crash” the third line is “watch your step”? Thanks.

“Here you go way too fast
Don’t slow down you’re gonna crash
You should watch—watch your step
Don’t look out you’re gonna break your neck
So shut, shut your mouth
Cause I’m not listening anyhow
I’ve had enough, enough of you
Enough to last a life time through
So what do you want of me?
Got no words of sympathy and if I go around with you
You know that I’ll get messed up too with you

Na na na na na
Na na na na na

Here you go way too fast
Don’t slow down you’re gonna crash
You don’t know what’s been going down
You’ve been running all over town

So shut, shut your mouth
Cause I’m not listening anyhow
I’ve had enough, enough of you
Enough to last a life time through
So what do you want of me?
Got no cure for misery and if I go around with you
You know that I’ll get messed up too with you

With you
Na na na na na
Slow down you’re gonna crash
Na na na na na
Slow down you’re gonna crash
Na na na na na
Slow down you’re gonna crash”

Video after the jump.

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Film At 11: The Drums

The Drums recently issued Encyclopedia, and they now have released a video for a song off the album called “I Can’t Pretend.” The clip was directed by Alex Lee and Kyle Wightman of BRTHR Films and was shot at Long Island Aquarium as well as a local N.Y. steakhouse. The video is a psychedelic trip as we follow the band to various different scenarios and explore a world of strange undersea creatures. Check it out below.

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From The Desk Of The Primitives: Never Been A Groupie But …

The Primitives have been invited to guest edit MAGNET this week, so we thought we’d spin right back through memory, as the line from the title track of our new album, Spin-O-Rama, goes (how’s that for a clever bit of crowbarring?), and revisit some music-related experiences from our childhood, youth and early days of the band. There’s also some other random stuff to do with the world of the Primitives. It’s been a pleasure putting all this together, as there wouldn’t normally be any reason to relay any of this stuff. So thanks MAGNET, we’re enjoying the delve.

JeffBuckley

Tracy: I met Jeff Buckley backstage after a gig he did in Birmingham in 1995. He was very welcoming and friendly, and he signed my ticket and copy of Grace. He commented on my Aubrey Beardsley design tattoo and asked if I liked the show and then gave me a kiss on the cheek. That night, I broke my rule of never going to bed with my make-up on. I just didn’t want to wash that kiss off.

Video after the jump.

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MP3 At 3PM: The Gromble

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Santa Clara, Calif., synthpop group the Gromble just issued its self-titled debut album. In celebration, the band now releases “Desole Pt. II,” a new track from the LP, for free download. The music is empowering and echoes back to indie greats like Pavement and Weezer while still retaining originality. It’s a balanced blend of indie rock and synthpop with definite high energy. Download the track below.

“Desole Pt. II” (download):

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Vintage Movies: “The Trouble With Harry”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.

TroubleWithHarry

The Trouble With Harry (1955, 100 minutes)

Taking in a deep breath of the invigorating air of New England before plunging, a few years later, into the twisted murder of Psycho and The Birds (where nature would become the enemy), director Alfred Hitchcock let his eye wander over the riotous autumnal splendor of Vermont for a romantic comedy called The Trouble With Harry that would co-star Shirley MacLaine in her first screen role.

Arnie Rogers (a seven-year old Jerry Mathers, two years before he became the star of TV sitcom Leave It To Beaver) is wandering the back woods of Vermont, toting an oversized blue plastic raygun. He’s imagining he’s scouring the landscape for aliens in the Martian wilderness, when a man’s voice barks out, “OK, I know how to handle your type!” Two gun shots ring out, and Arnie dives behind the trunk of a towering tree whose leaves have gone crimson. When he regains his nerve, he trudges up the next hill and comes upon a man in jacket and tie, lying dead with a single bullet hole in his left temple.

The next hill over, Capt. Albert Wiles (Edmund Gwenn, who was Santa Claus in 1947′s Miracle On 34th Street) is muttering to his .22 rifle whose shoulder strap is made from clothesline rope. “Well, old faithful, that’s your shooting for the day. If we haven’t run up two rabbits, we deserve to go home empty-handed.” As the captain gets to his feet to retrieve the hare he thinks he’s plugged, he spouts, “Fewer things in life give a man more pleasure than hunting, and this plump rabbit’s waiting for the frying pan.”

He soon comes upon the same dead man that scared spaceman Arnie straight. “I’ve done him in,” moans the captain, inhaling deeply. “A harmless shot at a rabbit, and now I’m a murderer.” Getting up the nerve to poke through the dead man’s jacket pocket, he finds a wallet identifying the corpse as Harry Worp from Boston. “Well, Mr. Worp, you’re a long way from home, and it looks as if you won’t get back for Christmas,” says the old man. He begins to drag the body back to town, when he’s startled by a familiar female voice.

“What do you plan to do with him?” asks Miss Ivy Gravely (MIldred Natwick). “Please don’t say anything, Miss Gravely,” the captain begs. “It was an accident. He was poking around the clearing, and I thought he was a rabbit.” She replies, “Do what you think best, captain. I’m sure you’ve seen much worse.” The captain rambles, “When I was on the Orinoco, this Turk with a machete … ” Miss Gravely politely interrupts, “If I were going to hide an accident, captain, I wouldn’t delay. And perhaps you’d care to come over later for some blueberry muffins and elderberry wine.”

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From The Desk Of The Primitives: “Nuts In May”

The Primitives have been invited to guest edit MAGNET this week, so we thought we’d spin right back through memory, as the line from the title track of our new album, Spin-O-Rama, goes (how’s that for a clever bit of crowbarring?), and revisit some music-related experiences from our childhood, youth and early days of the band. There’s also some other random stuff to do with the world of the Primitives. It’s been a pleasure putting all this together, as there wouldn’t normally be any reason to relay any of this stuff. So thanks MAGNET, we’re enjoying the delve.

Paul: Nuts In May is a film made for TV by Mike Leigh. It was originally broadcast in 1976, which is when I first saw it. I’ve watched it a couple of times since, most recently on the tour bus last year, when it was double-billed with The Sightseers, which has a similar theme to Nuts In May, but with added nastiness and a cute dog. It’s about an overbearing, obsessive twat and his well-meaning, hippy-dippy wife on a camping trip in Dorset in South West England and it’s very funny. Have a dip in with “Zoo Song” and then settle back and prepare to cringe through the full 1:20.

Video after the jump.

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From The Desk Of The Primitives: My First Fuzz Box

The Primitives have been invited to guest edit MAGNET this week, so we thought we’d spin right back through memory, as the line from the title track of our new album, Spin-O-Rama, goes (how’s that for a clever bit of crowbarring?), and revisit some music-related experiences from our childhood, youth and early days of the band. There’s also some other random stuff to do with the world of the Primitives. It’s been a pleasure putting all this together, as there wouldn’t normally be any reason to relay any of this stuff. So thanks MAGNET, we’re enjoying the delve.

FuzzBox

Paul: The first fuzz box I owned, or first effects pedal come to that, was a Carlsbro Suzz. I bought it secondhand from a music shop in Birmingham, and as soon as I got it home I plugged my guitar straight in, connected it to my amp, and in eager anticipation of some of that Stooges/garage-band-style fuzzed-out, distorted mayhem, began to strum a few random chords. The sound that came from my amp seemed more than a tad subtle and not what I was expecting at all. I adjusted the gain and sustain knobs, clicked the on/off button a few times, but still no filth. I convinced myself that I could hear a difference in the sound with the pedal on, but man, it was slight. The more I played the more I began to realise that I’d wasted my money on this ugly metal brick of a thing, that did pretty much nothing to my guitar sound … Then I noticed a panel with two screws on the Suzz’s underside, and the penny dropped. Nobody told me you had to put a battery in the fucker! Once it was loaded with an Eveready nine volt I was off.

I think I used that pedal on the first Primitives recordings, before switching to a Boss Heavy Metal pedal. These days I use a Danelectro Cool Cat for basic racket and a Catalinbread Merkin for single note stuff. If I had any kind of clue about electronics, I’d make my own ’60s-style fuzz box and call it Dalek’s Fart.

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Film At 11: Ex Hex

Ex Hex ripped the world a new one with latest release Rips. The band now shares a video for “Waterfall,” which was directed by acclaimed NYC underground cartoonist M. Wartella. The clip is fun and full of bright colors, with guest appearances from Michelle Mae (Make-Up), Francy Z. Graham (Chain And The Gang), Kid Congo Powers (Cramps, Gun Club) and Alec MacKaye (Ignition, Faith), who wears the legendary leather jacket he wore on the iconic Minor Threat album cover. Check out the video below.

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