Prog Rock So White, So What?

me_josh_ian_procol_harumThe cultural apparatchiks can’t figure out if it’s worse for white people to “culturally appropriate” the styles, customs and musics from various racial and ethnic groups or to avoid them. If you do the former, you’re diluting them with your lack of understanding and context, and thus you’re racist. If you do the latter, you’re showing in-group preference, and thus you’re racist.

So, when the very Anglo Saxon sounding James Parker writes for The Atlantic that “prog rock is the whitest music ever”, what is his point, other than he doesn’t like progressive rock very much? He begins by talking about a prog rock themed cruise that’s taking off from the port of Miami.

“We are the most uncool people in Miami.” So begins, promisingly enough, David Weigel’s The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock. Weigel, along with 3,000 fellow Yes-heads, Rush-oids, Tull freaks, and votaries of King Crimson—cultural underdogs all, twitching and grimacing with revenge-of-the-nerds excitement—is at the port of Miami, about to embark on a five-day progressive-rock-themed cruise: a floating orgy of some of the most despised music ever produced by long-haired white men.

Despised by who exactly? He goes on:

Do you like prog rock, the extravagantly conceptual and wildly technical post-psychedelic subgenre that ruled the world for about 30 seconds in the early 1970s before being torn to pieces by the starving street dogs of punk rock?

Absolutely. Blame Hawkwind, Can and Van der Graaf Generator for that. I suppose you could also blame Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath if you think they scrape against the progressive rock genre; Sabbath DID hire Rick Wakeman to play keyboards on Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath, and the album has the weird sounding, Moog filled “Who Are You?” on it, while Alice Cooper blatantly said that he and his early band wrote the eight minute, multi-part epic “Halo of Flies” to impress the prog crowd. But you know who you should REALLY blame? Johnny Rotten. That’s right, the former Sex Pistol, who reverted back to John Lydon when he launched Public Image Ltd. in 1978, talked about how his favorite pre-1975 bands were all of the above mentioned. Hawkwind, the band Lemmy was in before he started Motörhead, was my gateway drug into all things nerdy and progressive. Their songs are long and jammy like progressive rock, but they’re driving and aggressive like punk rock or metal; check out “Brainstorm” if you wanna hear thirteen straight minutes of spacey, Stooges-style, proto-punk aggression.

As anyone with a cursory knowledge of rock history knows, John Lydon was spotted in the Summer of 1975 walking down a London street wearing an “I Hate Pink Floyd” t-shirt, which lead to his landing the Pistols gig. But, if he HATED Pink Floyd (in actuality, he doesn’t), and Hawkwind COVERED Pink Floyd – “Cymbaline” – then that’s a bloody contradiction, innit? On top of THAT, Lydon openly and often talks about how he loves the very progressive Van der Graaf Generator. Listen to Peter Hamill’s singing, such as in the song “Killer”, and you know where post-Pistols John Lydon got his caterwauling vocal style from.

And so, I realized it wasn’t 1977 anymore, and my punk/prog tribalism was torpedoed FOREVER!!! There isn’t THAT big of a leap from Sabbath to “21st Century Schizoid Man” by King Crimson, with its heavy metal riff and bonkers jam out section. And although Crimson use a saxophone in “Schizoid Man”, so do Hawkwind, X-Ray Spex and the Butthole Surfers. Pretty soon, I was aurally scarfing down the music of Yes, Genesis, Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Gentle Giant, Gong, Nektar, Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come, Greenslade, Egg, Kayak, Fuzzy Duck and Atomic Rooster, along with German progressive rock acts like Eloy and Birth Control – which shouldn’t be mistaken for kraut rock bands like Can, Kraftwerk, Neu!, Faust, Amon Duul 2, Cosmic Jokers and Tangerine Dream – Italian bands like Goblin, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, New Trolls, Area, Maxophone and Premiata Forneria Marconi and of course the extremely weird French band Magma. I also really dig the fantasy art of Roger Dean, which decorates the album sleeves of Yes, Uriah Heep, Budgie and Osibisa. That’s right, James Parker, I listen to Osibisa, an all black group of African expatriates! How’s THAT for virtue signalling?!

So, to answer your original question, yes, I like prog rock. But go on…

Do you like the proggers, with their terrible pampered proficiency, their priestly robes, and their air—once they get behind their instruments—of an inverted, almost abscessed Englishness? I don’t.

You don’t say…

At least, I think I don’t. I like Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which is a kind of wonderful satirical compression of prog rock, a fast-forward operetta with goofy existentialist trappings and a heavy-metal blowout in the middle; I like the bit of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells that became the theme music for The Exorcist.

Actually, Mr. Parker, the Jethro Tull album Thick as a Brick is a spoof of self-important progressive rock conceits; that’s the album with the newspaper sleeve, which features a phony story about a nine year old boy who wrote a poem that the Jethro Tull members thought was so brilliant, they used it as the lyrics for their album. In case you couldn’t guess, that was a joke. But you ARE right; “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a very good song, if a bit overplayed, and I like Tubular Bells as well.

Hated, dated, sonically superannuated … One could enjoy prog ironically, I suppose—listen to it with a drooping and decadent ear, getting off on the fabulous obsolescence, etc.

“Hated, dated, sonically superannuated”? What, are you Bob Dylan now?

Prog as a wild chamber of experimentation, a sci-fi trespass across the limits of popular music, driving clear of fashion and orbiting the Earth forever. Awesome. The problem comes, for me, when I actually listen to the stuff. Is it not a form of aesthetic dissipation to praise something for its ambition and its bold idiosyncrasy when that something is, objectively speaking, crap?

Okay, so you don’t like it. Nobody’s forcing you to listen to it, but when exactly did musical taste become “objective”?

Gentle Giant, in 1972, took a poem from Knots, a book by the great heretic psychiatrist R. D. Laing, and turned it into an intricate, multivoice chant: It hurts him to think that she is / hurting her by him being hurt to think / that she thinks he is hurt by making her / feel guilty at hurting him by her thinking / she wants him to want her. The idea is great on paper. But listen to the song, to its scurrying, fidgety instrumentation, its fussy avoidance of anything like a melody. It is not enjoyable. At all. Magma, the French prog band, invented not only its own L. Ron Hubbard–style cosmic origin story but its own language (Kobaïan, which reads like a sequence of Gothic expletives: Nebëhr gudahttKöhntarkösz). Again, very creative. But run, oh run, from the music.

Blah, blah, blah… Gentle Giant is actually VERY enjoyable. In fact Sherman Hemsley LOVES ’em, and you’re not going to argue with George Jefferson, are you?! More on point; Magma IS a very weird band. But their weirdness is fun, jackass. I remember driving around with my friend in our little burg near Detroit, blasting Mëkanïk Dëstruktïẁ Kömmandöh just to annoy people.

Eventually James “so Anglo Saxon it hurts” Parker attempts at cycling the piece away from his personal bias, and back to what is allegedly the point of the article.

“We’re a European group,” declared the lead singer of proto-proggers The Nice in 1969, “so we’re improvising on European structures … We’re not American Negros, so we can’t really improvise and feel the way they can.” Indeed. Thus did prog divorce itself from the blues, take flight into the neoclassical, and become the whitest music ever.

Well, ACTUALLY, that’s not entirely true, and even if it was, who cares? Soft Machine (why didn’t I mention them above?) incorporated jazz into their sound, and if Jethro Tull, King Crimson and Uriah Heep were as metal as they were progressive, then there’s no way in hell they abandoned blues. On top of that, Deep Purple, who I guess also straddles the fence between early heavy metal and progressive rock, started playing goddamn soul music on albums like Burn and Stormbringer. In fact, this musical change annoyed original Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore so much that he quit the band because of it and started Rainbow. Oh, and you have heard “Money” by Pink Floyd, haven’t you?

Parker goes on to complain about Procol Harum incorporating elements of Bach into “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and then spends the rest of the paragraph bitching about Keith Emerson making cool sounds with his Hammond organ before replacing it with the Moog synthesizer as if that violates some sort of anti-Hammond/anti-Moog code of honor. To be fair, Keith Emerson’s playing in ELP gets a little dense, leaving little space in the music for my taste, and it turns out Vincent Crane, former keyboardist for the Crazy World of Arthur Brown and band leader for the criminally underrated Atomic Rooster (how underrated, you ask? Check out the groovy ass “Break the Ice”, and see for yourself!), agreed. So, Parker, there IS a system of checks and balances in prog. On top of that, I don’t like how Emerson, Lake and Palmer couldn’t think of a better name for their band than just their last names separated by a comma and an “and”, but hey! At least H.R. Giger did the artwork for Brain Salad Surgery. And no, “brain salad surgery” isn’t an ethereal and philosophical concept; it’s slang for a blowjob.

Fiending for technology, vivid with turbulence, he went from the Hammond organ to the freshly developed Moog synthesizer. (The proper pronunciation of Moog, I recently discovered, is “Mogue,” like “vogue.” Perhaps prog should be pronounced “progue.”)

QUIT YOUR DAY JOB RIGHT NOW AND GET ONTO A COMEDY STAGE, YOU COMEDIC GENIUS!!!

Money rained down upon the proggers.

Horrible!

Bands went on tour with orchestras in tow; Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s Greg Lake stood onstage on his own private patch of Persian rug. But prog’s doom was built in. It had to die. As a breed, the proggers were hook-averse, earworm-allergic; they disdained the tune, which is the infinitely precious sound of the universe rhyming with one’s own brain. What’s more, they showed no reverence before the sacred mystery of repetition, before its power as what the music critic Ben Ratliff called “the expansion of an idea.” Instead, like mad professors, they threw everything in there: the ideas, the complexity, the guitars with two necks, the groove-bedeviling tempo shifts. To all this, the relative crudity of punk rock was simply a biological corrective—a healing, if you like.

Bitch, bitch, bitch… I’m guessing Parker hasn’t heard “Roundabout” by Yes. It’s got plenty of that “sacred repetition” which makes a song hooky, enjoyable and memorable. On top of that, I wonder if Parker has heard prog/punk hybrid groups like Nomeansno or the Jesus Lizard, who combined “the groove-bedeviling tempo shifts” with “the relative crudity of punk rock.” Though, he’s got a point; neither of those bands ever used dual neck guitars.

Also, economics intervened. In 1979, as Weigel explains, record sales declined 20 percent in Britain and 11 percent in the United States, and there was a corresponding crash in the inclination of labels to indulge their progged-out artistes. No more disappearing into the countryside for two years to make an album. Now you had to compete in the singles market.

So, music has to sell a lot of records for you to like it? But, punk rock records NEVER sold as much as progressive rock albums… unless we’re talking about Nirvana, the Offspring and Green Day, and I know we’re not, so what’s your point?

Some startling adaptations did occur. King Crimson’s Robert Fripp achieved a furious pop relevance by, as he described it, “spraying burning guitar all over David Bowie’s album”—the album in question being 1980’s Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps).

Okay first all, Fripp had already played some fuzzed out licks on the Brian Eno album Here Come the Warm Jets, which like a Bowie album, is full of succinct and catchy pop rock tunes, only better (yeah, Eno is better than Bowie, blow me.). But, if Parker wants to talk about “adaptations”, then he fails to mention the 1981 King Crimson album Discipline, in which Fripp and his group absorbed the neurotic, jittery and deliberately stilted new wave influence of David Byrne, along with the Talking Heads’ synthetic businessman attire. Check out their Fridays performance of “Elephant Talk” if you don’t believe me! It’s AWESOME. Now, I’m no Fripp apologist. King Crimson have done their share of unlistenable, pretentious crap (Lizard, Islands), but when they nail it, hoo boy, do they nail it (In the Court of the Crimson King, Red, Larks’ Tongues in AspicDiscipline, The ConstruKtion of Light, The Power to Believe).

Yes hit big in 1983 with the genderless cocaine-frost of “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” And Genesis, having lost ultra-arty front man Peter Gabriel, turned out to have been incubating behind the drum kit an enormous pop star: the keening everyman Phil Collins.

Okay, yeah, “Owner of a Lonely Heart” IS a pretty catchy song, but is Parker actually praising the artless easily listening muzak of Phil Collins OVER the weird and experimental Peter Gabriel?! Dude, if you want to LARP the 80s, coke-snorting yuppie lifestyle, there is FAR better music to do it to; for instance, Avalon by Roxy Music.

These, though, were the exceptions. The labels wanted punk, or punky pop, or new wave—anything but prog.

Except that, with the exception of a few noteworthy new wave or crossover acts like Devo, Patti Smith, Talking Heads or the Police, punk rock never sold any records, and labels stopped wanting it after three years of watching it fail commercially. Sire only kept the Ramones on as a tax write-off.

“None of those genres,” grumbled Greg Lake, retrospectively, “had any musical or cultural or intellectual foundation … They were invented by music magazines and record companies talking together.” Fake news!

Parker can’t resist taking a swipe at Trump supporters with his “fake news” quip, as if Greg Lake said something that’s SO preposterous. EVERY genre or sub-genre is invented by the journalists and record labels, who group bands together into made-up tribes. For the journalists, it creates a sense of cultural or, I guess, sub-cultural cohesion, and for the labels, it helps sell records.

But the change was irreversible: The proggers were, at a stroke, outmoded. Which is how, to a remarkable degree, their music still sounds—noodling and time-bound, a failed mutation, an evolutionary red herring. (Bebop doesn’t sound like that. Speed metal doesn’t sound like that.)

Damn, dude… did you catch your girlfriend cheating on you while Close to the Edge was playing in the background? Speaking of Close to the Edge, have you heard the nutty first two minutes of “Close to the Edge”? If you don’t like THAT, then you know where you can stuff your “red herring.” By the way, if you’re using speed metal (or its close cousin thrash metal) as some sort of barometer with which to measure musical “evolution” by, then I’m guessing you’re not aware that most thrash kinda sounds the same. And this is coming from a fan of Motörhead, Venom, Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Voivod, Exciter, Exodus, Overkill, Sodom, Kreator, Destruction, Sepultura, Onslaught, Possessed, Celtic Frost, Suicidal Tendencies, Corrosion of Conformity and S.O.D. (but NOT Anthrax, sorry).

I feel you out there, prog-lovers, burning at my glibness. And who knows? If the great texts of prog had inscribed themselves, like The Lord of the Rings, upon my frontal lobes when they were teenage and putty-soft, I might be writing a different column altogether. But they didn’t, and I’m not. The proggers got away with murder, artistically speaking. And then, like justice, came the Ramones.

You do realize that the music of the Ramones is AS white, if not whiter, than virtually any prog band? According to Johnny Ramone’s obituary in the New York Times:

Mr. Ramone once described his guitar style as “pure, white rock ‘n’ roll, with no blues influence.”

Boys Are Boys, Girls Are Choice and Girls Will Never Be Boys

If the left can politicize everything, than goddamn it, so can I! Below is a video of the Monks performing their classic “Boys Are Boys and Girls Are Choice.”

The song is from their 1966 LP, Blank Monk Time, one of the many fine additions to the more obscure cannon of 60s rock, right along side The Village Fugs Sing Ballads of Contemporary Protest, Point of Views and General Dissatisfaction and The Fugs by the Fugs, The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators and Easter Everywhere by the 13 Floor Elevators, The Seeds and A Web of Sound by the Seeds and Here Are the Sonics!!! and Boom by the Sonics.

You can read all of the Monks’ biographical trivia at their Wikipedia page. The important thing to know is that they dressed like monks when they performed, and they had a unique approach to the two and half minute song formula that focused on rhythmic hooks and utilized the fun “chinka-chinka” sound of Dave Day’s banjo, somehow making the songs so stupidly catchy that there are times when I could listen to Black Monk Time on repeat for days at a clip. Also their sound influenced the deliberately repetitive “vamping” of German “kraut rock” bands like Can and Neu!, and the Fall site the Monks as a huge influence and have covered several of their songs.

Now, obviously, there’s nothing political about the song “Boys Are Boys and Girls Are Choice”; it’s just a song about the joy of being a guy going after a girl (presumably when it was more fun and wouldn’t get you accused of rape). But in the current year, when “transgender” freaks are pushing an agenda that says a person can now choose his, her or its gender, rather being ASSIGNED a gender at birth by, ya know, having a set of cock ‘n’ balls or a wet, oozing vagina, the song BECOMES political.

On top of that, it celebrates heterosexuality; I mean, if you’re a straight guy, girls are choice, aren’t they? Provided they’re not fat or ugly, that is. And don’t get mad at me for saying that; being fat and ugly are problems that are relatively easy to fix.

Ironically the people at Light in the Attic records, who released phenomenal vinyl and CD reissues of Black Monk Time, probably think I’m a “transphobic” bigot for writing this piece. Or maybe they too secret believe in the song’s message and are trying to push the Monks’ evil and vile agenda.

Cruisin’ on the Dream Machine: an interview with Matthew Melton

dream_machine_the_illusionAs I sit in Starbucks, sucking the bandwidth off their free wifi signal while not actually buying anything (yeah, screw the man!), listening to the hypnotic, psychedelic fuzz rock of The Illusion, the debut LP from Dream Machine, I ask myself, “isn’t it strange how nearly half a century ago, the first Coven album, Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls, was deleted by the record label that put it out only a month after they released it because they were worried about the shock and outrage it would have generated among Christian conservatives in America?” My mind continues to wander, and similarly I think, “isn’t it crazy how the same year that the first Coven album came out, the MC5 got in a WHOLE heap of shit just for shouting ‘kick out the jams, motherfuckers!’ at the beginning of the title track on their first album?” Times sure have changed since Kick Out the Jams had to be hidden behind the counters at records shops; because of ONE word, kids had to show that they were at least 18 years old if they wanted to buy it!

And ain’t it a hoot how, when I was talking to someone who worked at a record shop in Grand Rapids, he told me that all the parents were freaked out that their kids were listening to these new fandangled bands with names like Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper, who apparently worshiped the devil, sacrificed animals onstage… or possibly even PEOPLE!!!

And I think, “what would piss off, shock and outrage the kids and adults of the current year?” Self mutilation? Done. Onstage defecation? Done. Throwing bloody tampons at the crowd? Done. Inverted crosses and pentagrams? Done. Putting a dildo up Jesus’ anus? Done, done and done again! Defecating on a drawing of the Prophet Muhammad while burning the Koran and wearing Indian feathers and a yarmulke? Okay, that one hasn’t been done yet. But Dream Machine might as well have done it considering the quagmire they put themselves in when guitarist/singer Matthew Melton, formerly of the power-pop band Warm Soda, and keyboardist/singer and Melton’s wife Doris openly bashed the United States’ liberal immigration policies, political correctness and feminism.

They soon found themselves getting booted from their record label, Castle Face records, and forced to fend for themselves in a sea of politically correct hipster hostility, which is one of the reasons they left their hometown of Austin, TX to Amsterdam. Their story became something of a cause celebre for people on the right or just anyone fed up with stifling political correctness, and it appears that many people have come to their defense; albeit privately for fear that they too will get a mob of anorexic, glasses and skinny jean wearing nerds or bearded fatsos on their asses.

The music on The Illusion is catchy as heck; the male Melton plays heavy, fuzzed to hell guitar riffs; the female Melton waxes speedy and melodic on what sounds like a Farfisa; the two alternate on lead vocals; the songs are all short; and the whole thing will send you on a 1968 time warp to some dimly lit, underground catacomb, where a bunch of stoned out hippies gyrate to flashing strobe lights; ya know, like the Alice Cooper scene in Diary of a Mad Housewife. Oh and Doris kinda resembles Michelle Phillips from the Mamas & the Papas.

I interviewed Matthew Melton via email, and he gave me well thought out, lucid answers that are remarkably bold considering how sensitive the dweebs in the music scene really are; fer Chrissakes, I got booted from a Melvins group for dissing on ambient noise music and professing my love for the Nuge. Sorry for setting the emperor’s clothes on fire, dudez. If it were 1975, and he were Eric Clapton, then maybe Melton’s views would not be so bold. But that was then, and this is now. In a culture where every form of degeneracy is permitted and celebrated, there seems to be a bit of an insurrection going on….

Savage Hippie: Let’s get the juicy stuff out of the way. You were recently kicked off of Castle Face records for making some “ugly” remarks. In one of your interviews, your keyboardist and singer Doris is quoted as saying, “The choice to move to Europe was guided by a lot of factors. American musicians (hopefully not Europe too) are getting increasingly politically correct and it started getting on our nerves.” And then you say, “So excited to be moving to Europe, but I will always consider myself a red-blooded American. And just like the waves of refugees pouring into Europe I will also not be learning any new languages or culturally assimilating.” And later still, Doris says, “I agree with Matthew on that. ICE is just doing their job, and I’m glad they’re finally starting to work on deporting criminal illegal aliens too. It took ages for me to get my green card here legally and because there’s so many illegals coming in they make it hard for the people who do want to become part of American society the right way. They’re handing out free money to people who come here illegally, but when you want to work hard to become an American citizen to start a family they make it so hard on you, and expensive!” You HAD to have known what kind of response you would get from an overly sensitive music scene, so why the loose tongue?

Dream Machine: Whether or not we knew it at the time, our interview ended up being a modern day political correctness test for society which a lot of people failed miserably. Even when we look at it now, all we really expressed was that we want to live in a place governed by law and order where people haven’t gone completely insane with political correctness. The people who freaked out so much did so mostly because of accumulated political frustration and peer pressure. The reason that we know that it was a fake outrage and nothing more than mere social media virtue signaling, is because we didn’t receive a single email from an upset person asking for any clarification, discussion, explanation, or condemnation for any part of our interview. Not even one! If people were genuinely concerned with things we said, someone would have reached out to say: “Hey man, what’s up with that?” or “We hate you guys” or SOMETHING! We feel completely vindicated because the backlash completely proved our point about how Facebook has become an echo chamber vortex that breeds reactionary weaklings. Most of the people who were freaking out so much are the same ones that adamantly defend modern technology to the death, unable to see the damage it is causing to our general well being and independent thought. We saw a couple the other day at a bus stop and the lady was holding up an iPad to her husband open to another couples profile shouting: “Why aren’t we happy like they are!” I think it’s actually a very serious problem, I could go on and on about it. 

Savage Hippie: Similarly, those remarks might have gained you some new fans from the political right. Are you happy to embrace any fans of your music even if their views might not be completely kosher? Clearly Dream Machine isn’t a political band, but do you guys stand for any parties, politicians or views, or do you basically keep that stuff to yourselves?

Dream Machine: At the end of the day, we consider ourselves musicians, not politicians and we don’t affiliate with any political or ideological party but we’d most likely fit in best as libertarians. People on the right will like us because we reject the poisonous group think of the alt-left which has become nothing less than a cult of unthinking zombies. That’s why we decided to oppose Facebook from the beginning, because it is the arena that the regressive left uses to radicalize their unsuspecting subjects while at the same time rendering their lives disharmonic and subservient. You don’t need a political affiliation to know that you need to avoid that! It’s common sense. 

Savage Hippie: According to another interview, you released The Illusion on Castle Face records, referring to the owners as your “homies.” Do you still consider them your homies? Did you phone ’em and say, “what the fuck guys? Thought you had our backs?”

Dream Machine: I did at one point, I mean they released 6 albums of my music over a period of several years. But it’s clear that they reacted out of fear and now I honestly feel bad for them now because so many people noticed the integrity they lost by kicking me to the curb in an attempt to appear virtuous to their customer base. It may have worked partially how they had hoped but it mostly backfired in their face. It worked out for us in the end because we gained such an overwhelming outreach from thousands of new fans, record labels, booking agents, etc and we’ve already ended up getting more exposure than we would have staying with Castle Face. Another weird factor in all this is that so many hundreds of people including other artists on their label and people in the music scene reached out to us expressing how they felt what they did was a pathetic move and they completely support us and saw nothing wrong with common sense opinions we gave, but also said that they could not speak publicly about it for fear of facing scrutiny from the angry mob. At least we were able to create a discussion so people can see for themselves which side of history they want to be on. 

Savage Hippie: Running through your music is a sort of, how do I say it, anti-degeneracy message? Once again, quoting Doris, she says, “The people I see here in Austin sleep with a different person every week. It just doesn’t make sense to me. When you sleep with that many people it can’t mean anything, it has to be meaningless. Everything is meaningless nowadays.” Seems like there’s almost a Christian message running through your music, or maybe not? Do you worry people will say you guys are a buncha squares, or do you fundamentally advocate monogamy over the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle that other bands in the “scene” seem to be all about?

Dream Machine: We are on the cusp of a polar shift in thinking. We looked around only to observe that the way people are living today is not bringing them happiness but misery and emptiness. The group think mentality of social media is largely to blame; You stare into the screens long enough and you begin to lose perspective and your reality becomes warped. We aren’t classically religious, but if you pause and consider where we are going as a civilization, what the future might look like going down the neo-liberal path, it doesn’t look very good to us. It’s what I would envision the roman empire to have been like right before they got destroyed. Everyone becomes so glutinous and decadent and they are too busy guzzling wine and having orgies to care or notice that their civilization is crumbling all around them. We are reaching a point where radical neo-leftism has become the mainstream, and conservatism becomes the new counter-culture. Now it literally feels rebellious to be starting a family with my wife. We’ve come full circle. 

Savage Hippie: All right, ENOUGH with political questions; let’s get down to the music. Why did you leave Warm Soda, and do you have plans on going back to them? I take it Dream Machine is a full time band and not a side project.

Dream Machine: Warm Soda had fully run it’s course. I mean once you make 4 albums that sounds almost exactly the same you know it’s time to try something different or you end up making wallpaper music. Dream Machine is our full time operation now and it’s already off to an interesting start! 

Savage Hippie: Since the obvious reference points to a lot of people are going to be Iron Butterfly, Blue Cheer, the Doors and maybe Jefferson Airplane… would that cover it, or was there anything else specifically you were influenced by? I mean, I’d die if you said you were influenced by Power of Zeus or Black Widow.

Dream Machine: Our influences include Power of Zeus, Birth Control, Curved Air, Lucifer’s Friend, Eloy and Gun! (editors note: I had never before heard of the German progressive rock band Birth Control. Their album Operation is awesome! Thanks Matthew!)

Savage Hippie: Also I looked all over the site, but I couldn’t find out who the bassist and drummer are in the “I Walked in the Fire” video. Is that info somewhere, or are you keeping them anonymous?

Dream Machine: We had already let our band mates go before any of this controversy came up because we are moving to Europe and we found a new European rhythm section. Our bass player in the USA couldn’t commit to the European tour because of his job so we figured it made the most sense to start a new group over there.

Savage Hippie: In your interview you say, “The debut Dream Machine album is like a warm up compared to the 2nd album we are arranging now which is completely piano based.” What like, there aren’t going to be any geetarz on it? Don’t tell me you’re going to turn into Emerson, Lake and Palmer or the first Atomic Rooster LP!

Dream Machine: It’s got guitars, we just meant that we were writing the album mostly on the piano, not recording it that way. We are in the middle of it right now and there are some heavy rocking songs on there. Think if Atomic Rooster had one Hell’s Angel in the band on guitar. We just recorded the drums and bass for the whole thing, now starting to add in guitars, piano, organ, synth, vocals, etc. I think people will be happy with our new album, It definitely blows the first one away.

Can’t wait to hear it! \m/

Get their stuff from Fuzz City records.

Listen to The Illusion on their Bandcamp page.

Watch their video:

But DON’T look for ’em on Facebook because you ain’t gonna find ’em there!

The Alt-Right, Punk Rock and Fake Boobs: An Analysis

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The worst thing about people who are full of shit is when they become fans of things that you both enjoy and are a much, much greater expert on. I think I’m in some position of authority to state that most punk rockers don’t know as much as I do about the Alternative Right or the general umbrella of the new right. And similarly I think it’s safe to say that most people on the Alternative Right have only a cursory knowledge of punk rock. So, as someone who is a damn near expert on both of these topics – not saying I was ever on the vanguard of either of these movements – I think I’m at least qualified to call bullshit on a recent article published by Playboy magazine.

But before I even analyze the recent Playboy piece “5 Punk Rockers Explain Why the Alt-Right’s ‘Punk Movement’ is Garbage“, let’s ALL put on our bullshit detectors.

Is Playboy not the magazine that 13 year old boys jerked off to for the first time? Is it not the “classy” boobie mag that was started by a pipe smoking, middle aged-cum (no pun intended)-dirty old pervert, who would feature pictorials of attractive women with their beach blonde hair and big, fake boobs? Wasn’t Hugh himself the subject of the wrath of second wave feminists?

Yeah, I know… Playboy has articles too; and there are people who actually read the articles, rather make their fathers question why all the pages in his books are stuck together. And, from my understanding, there was even an era when Playboy actually had good articles from “legit” writers like Woody Allen – who, liberal as he might be, bless his soul, never became a feminist or stopped being a pussy chasing dog – and Gore Vidal. But that was the 60s, and you had to feign intellectualism in those days.

Regardless of its praising of certain liberal causes, Playboy has long since been just a porn mag-lite (no beaver shots), known for launching the careers of airheads like Jenny McArthy and Pamela Anderson.

So why, all of a sudden, do they fancy themselves the authority on punk rock and feel that they can decide that “the Alt-Right’s ‘Punk Movement’ is Garbage”?

First of all, there IS no AltRight punk movement, because if there was, then my name would be in the article. Not only am I the guy who printed the first ever Punks for Trump t-shirts (only 50 left as of this writing; BUY BUY BUY!!!), but that’s Matt Forney, one of the definitive AltRighters, in the picture below wearing one.

forney_with_chicks

But, even if the article’s writer, Michael Tedder, was aware of this fact, he still misses the point entirely:

Members of the alt-right have of late made the argument that “conservatism is the new punk” and that gadflies like Alex Jones and Milo Yiannopoulos are the modern day truth-telling equivalents of the Sex Pistols and the Clash, pushing back against social justice warriors and political correctness culture. In their eyes, their old, retrograde ideas—which inevitably manifest as fear and outrage at attempts to curb white male privilege—have suddenly become avant-garde because of…safe spaces or something.

Neither Alex Jones nor Milo Yiannopoulos are “AltRight.” They’re libertarians. They’ve adopted some of the less extreme views of the AltRight – that cultural Marxism sucks, that SJWs of all stripes and shades are stupid and that Islam is a threat to Western civilization – but they were never considered part of the movement; to call them AltRight would be like calling the Cars a punk band. Sure the Venn diagrams overlap, but they’re not one and the same. To be honest, I’m not considered “AltRight” by some of the more radical elements either because I’m not a White Nationalist, I don’t believe that all ethnic groups need to be separated at all costs and I don’t fit the proper genetic stock. The AltRight actually has quite a bit of diversity of thought under its umbrella, but a person on the left will never take the time to investigate any of this.

But I digress. As far as the “new right” (which includes the AltRight) being considered “the new punk rock”, well… I suppose that depends on how you define “punk rock.” And that’s where we get to the meat, spikes, leather and chains of the article; unless, of course, you’re a modern day vegan-feminist-hippie-crust-punk, who dodges showers the way the hippies dodged the draft. Then you probably think the original punks were fascists for wearing and eating dead cow.

Most AltRighters don’t know that much about punk and all of the bands it produced or its various sub-genres and their spin-offs. If ANYTHING, while AltRighters might espouse the general, “offend the easily offended” attitude of the Sex Pistols, and while I think Trump is pissing off all the right people, AltRighters specifically probably have more in common with the Oi! band 4Skins, who wrote this wonderful anti-immigrant slam “One Law for Them”, in which they quote the “rivers of blood” speech by Enoch Powell, or the Canadian punk band Forgotten Rebels, who have the hilarious “Bomb the Boat and Feed the Fish”, in which they advocate a rather more, um, violent solution to the problem of mass immigration from third world countries. Hell, I’d even say they have more in common with hardcore punk bands like Agnostic Front, who have the anti-welfare screed “Public Assistance”, which got them in a heap of shit with the PC brigade, or Minor Threat, who mince no words in “Guilty of Being White”, or Black Flag, who sing about the changing ethnic demographic in Southern California in “White Minority” (oh, but they’re being ironic, cantcha tell?!).

But, instead Playboy claims they found the TRUE representatives of punk rock, and these people, who quite obviously have next to no knowledge of the AltRight, explain why someone on the AltRight can’t be punk.

First they get a quote from Victoria Ruiz from some band called the Downtown Boys. (And if you leftist fags say, “uh, what a POSER, you’ve never heard of the Downtown Boys?”, I’ll say, “go fuck yourself, you’ve never heard of Aryan Disgrace, Metal Urbain or the Mentally Ill.”)

Alice Bag, who has actually done the work of being a punk rock star, recently said via Facebook: “Punk has been portrayed as music by and for angry white males, but in its inception, it was a rebellion against all rock cliches. Gender, ethnic, sexual and class taboos were all challenged by our early punk community and that is a story which is not very often told. People of color, queer folk, women—all were present from the very beginning of Punk.”

Yeah, fine, Alice Bag and the Bags are actually really good – how can they not be? They had Geza X on guitar! – but Republican Johnny Ramone has done WAY more work of being a punk rock star. Not to mention Lee Ving of Fear, who wrote the classic “The Mouth Don’t Stop (the Trouble with Women).” And so has leftist clown Jello Biafra. So what? Okay, fine, Darby Crash, the singer of the Germs, was a fag. And their guitarist Pat Smear is black. And Ivan Julian, the rhythm guitarist for Richard Hell and the Voidoids, is also black. And the Bad Brains are all black and were known for their queer-bashing because they “be Rasta, mon, and Rasta don’ like no bloodclot faggots!” Again, so what? That changes precisely what again? The answer is coming; wait for it:

I think that this is exactly why it is nonsense when the alt-right strings together vapid words to try and incite a playground fight with those of us who put blood, sweat and tears into creating an expression that is the antithesis of everything that these alt-right meatheads represent. They are simply a distraction to the women, femmes, queers and people of color filling the columns of Spin, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, the New York Times and numerous other publications that report on culture. I don’t see actual alt-right bands headlining Coachella, I see Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar—two of the most punk in terms of crystallizing dissent about the status quo —artists taking the stage. Real punk is and will always be a total threat to the alt-right and their culture, which is based on white supremacy. Otherwise it isn’t real punk. The alt-right’s tactics are FAKE PUNK. The alt-white (I mean right) want us to sip tea, but we are drinking fresh water from a firehose.

In other words, according to this person, the AltRight DOESN’T represent the punk rock ethos because they AREN’T represented in corporate mainstream media and DON’T perform at corporately sponsored music festivals. I think even the old timey leftists at Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll would raise an eyebrow at that. But more specifically, AltRighters and anyone who espouses views that are heretical to the PC establishment need to be purged from all mainstream discourse. Also probably the main reason no “AltRight bands” have ever performed at Coachella is because THERE ARE NO ALT-RIGHT BANDS to speak of. And even if there were, they wouldn’t be invited to play these festivals. In fact corporately sponsored festivals like the Scion Rock Fest has dumped bands when they were suspected of having “nefarious” connections. But apparently Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar are totally punk as fuck, man.

Next we have Chris Freeman of Pansy Division, the only name on the list I recognize. Feel free to read his lengthy, bitchy diatribe yourself. The only thing that stuck with me was this:

Punk rock for me was about free-thinking more than free speech, and I say that not to minimize free speech but to point out how robotic life had become in the 1970s.

Uh, oookay…. moving right along then…

Well, what do we have here? Erika M. Anderson seems to be the only person of the bunch with a brain!

I think if you define punk as simply being a group of angry young men wanting to say “fuck you” to dominant societal norms and current values, then the roots of the alt-right are definitely one of the most punk things going on right now.

AGREED… but:

But that’s like narrowing your definition of punk down to the Sex Pistols—which was basically a boy band put together by a pair of London clothing designers who wanted to use shock tactics to promote their fashion line. I much prefer Crass (who were anarchists, feminists, environmentalists and better songwriters!), X-Ray Spex or even Pansy Division. But my guess is that if you are truly invested in the theory of alt-right as new punk, then facts about the diversity of the movement aren’t really going to appeal to you.

Oo, calling the Sex Pistols a boy band… them’s fightin’ words! Julian Temple’s 2000 documentary The Filth and the Fury puts that myth to rest. Plus, even if it were true, that doesn’t change the fact that “No Feelings” is one of the best songs ever. To be fair, Crass makes some pretty righteous noise even if they’re views are stupid, and X-Ray Spex tear it up with their noisy, bleating sax and Poly Styrene’s caterwauling; I don’t think I’ve ever heard Pansy Division. Regardless, I AM invested in parts of the alt-right, but as proven above, I’m aware that there were black, gay and gurl punks. Her rant concludes with this:

Indeed, it’s all keks and lulz until a con man takes office and fills his cabinet with incompetent billionaires who don’t actually care about free speech, poverty, or really anything but themselves. Turns out there is a thin line between being punk and getting punk’d.

Oo, she’s clever!

Some guy named Andy Nelson at least gets one thing right:

It is no great secret that for all its posturing and incremental progress over the years, underground punk is still, regrettably, a culture dominated by straight whites males.

I wouldn’t say “regrettably”, but:

The notion that expressing all the hateful bigotry that the entirety of American society has been reinforcing forever would resemble the anti-establishment in any form is a premise so asinine and feeble-minded it is nearly beyond comprehension. Insofar as “Alt-Right Punk” is a real thing, I remind you that we’ve seen this type of thing before, and we’ve seen how it ends: Just ask Dave Smalley and Michael Graves what kind of traffic that moronic website ConservativePunk.com is getting these days.

Hey, if you don’t like it in the United States, you’re free to live in such tolerant countries as Iran and Saudi Arabia. As for Dave Smalley and Michael Graves, I’m not sure what kind of traffic they get on their moronic website these days, and I’m too lazy to check.

And finally Patrick Stickles of some band called Titus Andronicus (isn’t Shakespeare racist or something?) begins with:

In determining if conservatism/“alt-right” is the “new punk” or “political punk rock” or whatever they are saying, we must first address the distinction between “punk,” the ideology, “punks,” who practice said ideology, and “punk rock,” the musical genre/fashion template with which we associate acts like the Sex Pistols or Ramones or Black Flag and “punk rockers,” those who adhere to those templates.

No, we mustn’t. Well,you can if ya want, but I’m going to listen to this here Dictators song and have myself a vodka/diet coke mixer.

Sounds of Marshabaloosh Episode 1 – Manilla Road: A Metal Invasion

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First of all, Marshabaloosh is the evil deity that makes you stub your toe, step on a nail, makes your wife divorce you, starts world wars and makes it snow heavily on the day of your important job interview.  Indeed he’s quit the nogoodnik, yet we worship him.

Sounds of Marshabaloosh is the music and entertainment spin off of the Savage Hippie retardo propaganda machine, and for the first installment, I was granted the privilege of interviewing Mark “the Shark” Shelton and Bryan “Hellroadie” Patrick, guitarist/singer/songwriter and singer/roadie for legendary cult metal band Manilla Road.  If you don’t know ’em, you better wise up, sucker!  They’ve been together in some way, shape or form since 1977 and have released a large and diverse body of work that ranges from heavy, progressive space rock, melodic epic metal, thrash, doom and even 12-string acoustic folky music, whose one uniting factor is Shelton and his penchant for fantasy, science fiction, horror and the occasional philosophical lyrics.

Shelton, Patrick and I spend an hour talking about everything from Manilla Road’s music (whoda thunk we’d talk about that?!), their various albums, encounters with other bands, potential label deals, the literature of Robert E. Howard, Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft and the time Manilla Road incited a brawl between Stryper’s Christian fan base and their biker one… guess who won…

I wish I had asked Shelton to elaborate on the Riddle Master project and about the legendary Herman Hill riots, but oh well… maybe next time?

Here’s a list of all of their albums if you want to check out their stuff, which you should, asshole.

Invasion (1980)
Metal (1982)
Crystal Logic (1983)
Open the Gates (1985)
The Deluge (1986)
Mystification (1987)
Live Roadkill (1988)
Out of the Abyss (1988)
The Courts of Chaos (1990)
The Circus Maximus (1992)
Atlantis Rising (2001)
Mark of the Beast (2002) (recorded 1981)
Spiral Castle (2002)
Gates of Fire (2005)
Voyager (2008)
After Midnight Live (2010) (recorded 1979)
Playground of the Damned (2011)
Mysterium (2013)
The Blessed Curse (2015)
Dreams of Eschaton (2016) (recorded 1981, remaster of Mark of the Beast)

And Mark, if you’re reading this, I downloaded all three Heavy Load albums!  Thanks for the recommendation!

Gimme Sabbath – With or Without Ozzy

black_sabbath_mattersAs one of the three people that defend’s Black Sabbath’s Forbidden album, their unfairly maligned 1995 release that was produced by Ernie C of Body Count and features guest vocals from Ice T on the opening track “Illusion of Power”, you could fairly assume that I’m more than a casual classic rock fan who was out to see Black Sabbath play all of the tried and tested FM staples, along with a few well known deep cuts, on their final tour.  But the final tour it is, and Sabbath know what the people want; and what the people want, the people get… sorta.

I was at their Chicago gig on September 4th at an outdoor amphitheater, standing on the lawn, watching a bunch of ants onstage, and while it wasn’t bad, I think the audience made up for Ozzy’s lack of energy.  For the Sabbath neophyte, since its inception in 1968, Black Sabbath pretty much defaulted to the leadership of guitarist Toni Iommi, who is the driving force behind every lineup of the band.  While the majority of rock fans consider the group’s original lineup – Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Toni Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward – to be the only lineup that matters, Iommi considers long time side man and keyboardist Geoff Nichols, former drummer Cozy Powell and former singer Toni Martin, to be as integral to the band’s career as the other four gentlemen; at least that’s the way it seemed in his autobiography, Iron Man.

And I’m not going to make the absurd claim that Toni Martin sung albums The Eternal Idol, Headless Cross, TYR, Cross Purposes or the aforementioned Forbidden are anywhere near as classic, good and important as the first six Sabbath records; neither will I say the Dio albums Heaven and Hell, Mob Rules or Dehumanizer are as good as those either, nor the same about the Ian Gillan album Born Again or the Glenn Hughes album Seventh Star.  I’m with the majority on this one, but I will say that, as a longtime fan, I realized that 3/4 of the original lineup was going to primarily stick with material that most people would be familiar with.

With that said, I think it’s absolutely pathetic that Ozzy just stood there saying the same two lines over and over again; “can I see your hands?!” and “I can’t hear you!” Okay, to be fair, he occasionally said, “can I see your FUCKING hands?!” and “I STILL can’t hear you!”, but, if THAT was going to be the performance I got from Ozzy, they might as well have had Ian Gillan, Glenn Hughes or Toni Martin; hell, I’d much rather Iommi and Butler be joined by Rob Halford of Judas Priest, like they were in 1992.

So, for the longtime fan, it was the Iommi/Butler Black Sabbath review, featuring latest drummer Tommy Clufetos, a journeyman musician who has previously played with Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, Rob Zombie, John 5 and Ozzy himself (there are others on the wiki page if you’re THAT curious).  I would have loved for Bill Ward to be there, but I would love lots of things, and, at least, Clufetos has lots of tattoos and a beard and was never in Rage Against the Machine.

As for the set itself, the exact count goes like this; three from Black Sabbath, six from Paranoid (that is if you include the opening bars of “Rat Salad”, which segues into a drum solo), three from Master of Reality, one from Vol. 4 and one from Technical Ecstasy.  That means they played NOTHING from Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage.  That also means they played nothing from their completely forgettable reunion album 13 or the passable The End, so that’s a plus. If we want to get REALLY technical, Geezer played “Basically”, the minute long bass intro to “NIB”, so feel free to count that as four songs from Black Sabbath.

While “Snowblind”, the group’s coke anthem from Vol. 4 is probably my favorite Sabbath tune – in spite Ozzy ruining any subtlety in the song by shouting “COCAINE!” at the end of every line – I would have loved to hear “Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath”, “A National Acrobat”, “Killing Yourself to Live”, “Hole in the Sky”, “Symptom of the Universe”, “Am I Going Insane? (Radio)” or basically all of Vol. 4; I especially wanted to hear “Supernaut.”  I was also kind of surprised they didn’t play “Sweet Leaf”, but that they did play “Dirty Women”, from the Technical Ecstasy album, which would have been the worst album by the original lineup had 13 not come out.  On the other hand, their 1978 album Never Say Die! is remarkably underrated, so there ya go.

Unsurprisingly Sabbath played the customary hits “War Pigs”, “Iron Man” and “Paranoid”, and I wonder how they don’t get sick of playing that last one, since, like, come on… that’s the first song I ever learned to play on guitar.  At least when they played “Black Sabbath”, the tri-tone, three chord, plodder that opens their first album and scared the bejeezus out of the kids of a much more innocent America of 1970, Iommi added a few extra bars of soloing during the headbanging part, and I thought it was neat how they began with the first few bars of the instrumental “Rat Salad” before segueing into Clufetos’ drum solo, even it went on a bit too long.

I would mention something about opening band Rival Sons, but we arrived too late in their set to hear much.  From what I did hear, they’re a 70s rock revival band; not bad, but nothing essential.

As for Sabbath, while I will always enjoy Toni Iommi’s and Geezer Butler’s guitar/bass interplay and think that Clufetos did a fine job on drums, I think the performance was little more than a revival show for the old timers.  As a fan of Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Hawkwind and UFO, old bands who still put out new and interesting records – Now What?!, Outsider, The Machine Stops and A Conspiracy of Stars, if you were wondering – I think it’s sad that the band that takes the lion’s share of credit for this here heavy rock/heavy metal/hard rock/even heavy prog genre that we all love so much practically cashed in their chips onstage.  I know someone will yell at me for not mentioning the latest Nazareth record Rock ‘n’ Roll Telephone, but that one does suck.

On the other hand, nothing is stopping Iommi and Butler from rocking out with other musicians and creating new and interesting records, which I believe they are already doing…

I Was Interviewed By Matt Forney for This AltRight Life at Right On.

I was interviewed for over an hour for Matt Forney’s show This AltRight Life over at RightOn.net.  We talked about our time hanging outside the RNC, including being chased around by SJW zombies and attending Milo’s fab cocktail party, my Punks for Trump t-shirts and the leftist hijacking of punk rawk.  Hopefully you’ll find listening to it as enjoyable as I found doing it.