If you haven’t heard yet, this Saturday the Bell House will present the highly anticipated New Bomb Turks reunion show slash book release party for Eric Davidson’s highly anticipated new tome We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Undergut 1988-2001. Here we present to you an excerpt.
A musician, journalist and current Cobble Hill resident, Davidson fronted the explosive Ohio garage punk band New Bomb Turks throughout the nineties. He uses his firsthand experience to trace the roots and history of this largely undocumented punk scene. It sounds grandiose, but honestly, take a look at the Northside lineup across town and tell me more than a few of those acts would exist without this, the last of the pre-Internet DIY movements. This is highly influential stuff.
Starting with the seminal New York label Homestead Records and ending with the Black Lips, King Khan & the BBQ Show, as well as the late Jay Reatard, Davidson nails the next chapter in the Please Kill Me/American Hardcore/Our Band Could Be Your Life succession with the utmost care and journalistic sensibility. There’s an excellent Q&A with the author here (via his blog) ready for when you put the kids to sleep, but take our word for it and come celebrate this one. The book is available now with a forward from Byron Coley and purchase includes a free twenty track MP3 download.
Davidson recalls Crypt Records owner Tim Warren from We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Undergut 1988-2001..
“Action thWup!” That’s the term Tim Warren used in Crypt ads to describe the New Bomb Turks’ second LP, Information Highway Revisited. But really, one could use that phrase to describe the vast array of—wait, no you can’t. You couldn’t possibly use “action thwup” and have it make sense to anyone, ever. No doubt a devourer of numerous elongated Rolling Stone reviews, Creem mag proselytizations, and Bomp! beamings, by the time he got his own label going, Warren obviously decided this square globe had tainted all terms used to describe rock music. And since anything known as “rock music” then probably made Warren want to retch, it was time for some new lingo. Ergo, “Action thwup!”
I remember when I was crashing at Tim’s pad for a few days after a Turks tour in 1994, and whilst tipping back some suspect Chianti, he was imploring me to help him come up with the Crypt catalog description rant for the new Blues Explosion record, Now I Got Worry. There were utterances that the most erudite William F. Buckley buff or half-cut Jersey lounge Elvis impersonator would’ve had a hard time fumbling through. But Tim tossed ’em out like he was reading Dick & Jane.
“Savage ungaw-abilly ass-crackin’!” “F(l)unk-tastic poonk rammin!” “Steam-abilly hoot!” And on it went. I would’ve been dead drunk by the end, except I kept heaving out spit-takes every couple of seconds as Tim rolled out the barrel full of monkeyshine slang.
Crypt’s catalogs didn’t just hoist Crypt product proper, but also the mile-high mound of underbelly artifacts from all the labels they helped distribute, and other quasi-legit stuff that came from . . . who knows where. Perusing them felt like sneaking in the back door of a whole hidden world where a 1955 R&B howler could cut a rug to Ramones bootlegs, cheeky ’60s strip club novelty songs, Charlie Feathers, Horace McCoy novels, ’60s sleaze rags, kooky calypso, B-movie posters, film noir VHS traders, Wanda Jackson comps, lost primitive punk singles, the latest buzz-punks (“poonks”) and garage revivalists, ’50s doo-wop, freaky fanzines, vintage soul comps, and Back from the Grave, of course. These sordid sounds made even the wee-est hours of freeform college radio seem more square than a yuppie’s Billy Joel ticket stub. Norton’s catalog of reissue ramalama was a jam-packed fun run-through; Estrus’s mostly new garage rock roster pitch looked cool; and Get Hip’s seasoned list was way extensive. But nowhere in the music world—hell, in the whole world—had I found such a borderless terrain of unapologetic id. Reading the item descriptions and music industry finger-pointing was like getting a hidden history lesson told tipsy by a Big Apple–bred Jon Savage, were he a younger one of those leering, hooting drunks at the opening of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! “Go baby, go go go!!”
Jay Hinman, publisher of early ’90s trash-rock zine Superdope, has a good bead on the Crypt head honcho. “Tim Warren deserves to be lionized for his contribution to even the term ‘garage punk.’ The guy basically force-fed ’60s punk to people through the 1980s, and I maintain that those Back from the Grave and Garage Punk Unknowns compilations—as well as the snotty, superior than thou attitude in all of his ads, artwork, and liner notes—really helped make that music snarl a lot louder than it actually does. Then when I finally met him, he was everything I’d heard: big sunglasses on at 11 p.m., hat pulled down as far as it could go, and a giant, perpetually refilled alcoholic beverage in front of him at all times.”
For our purposes, the Back from the Grave comps are the molten core. But Crypt Records also made its name amongst the swigging set with the Las Vegas Grind collections that jiggled back even further and foofier to forsaken, dirty jukebox singles that once set the mood at peeler joints throughout the States in the late ’50s and early ’60s. Songs like “The Whip,” “Little Girl,” and the classic, “Hooty Sapperticker” bumped and ground out blurry visions of the seediest sides of middle-class, after-work shenanigans that went down while the wife was home figuring out the new radar range.
Soon enough, the Grind series encompassed all manner of cheap novelty tunesmithery (sometimes peppered with solidly sweaty R&B) that exploded alongside the analogous, cheap tawdry B flicks filling drive-ins midcentury. Other outré tipsy tunes came along with comps like Ho Dad Hootenanny, Swing for a Crime, Wavy Gravy, and others, often with old greasy movie trailers or dialogue snippets tucked between the steamy songs. Of course, Tim Warren was not the first or only to compile lost novelty singles, but the consistent sleazy character of Crypt’s made them into a kind of genre, as the Grave series had. “I gave up drinking about six months before I’d met Tim Warren,” says Norton Records’ Billy Miller. Norton’s core coordinators—Miller and his wife, Miriam Linna, also leaders of longtime, NYC party slop-rockers the A-Bones—were closer to the somewhat calmer collector norm, if no less googly-eyed feverish in their unearthing of all things midcentury musical insanity. “Once Norton started,” says Miller, “I got straighter and straighter to where now my worst vice is an occasional french fry. But Tim is excessive in everything he does. That’s what makes Crypt so great. Any notable record label should reflect the owner’s personality. This one time, Tim got a video camera and he brought it to Maxwell’s, where the A-Bones were backing Ronnie Dawson. He was taping us with one hand and drinking with the other. The tape ended up having three or four well-shot songs, then three or four wobbly-looking ones, then a half hour of the ceiling above the band. That’s Tim!”
THE NEW BOMB TURKS (reunion show), LIVEFASTDIE (reunion show) and EX-WHITES
Plus: DJs Viking Thrust & Justin CollectorScum, reading/slide show by Eric Davidson, and gourmet BBQ.
Saturday, June 26th, 2010 Doors at 6PM (early show). $12 cover.