Thursday, December 6, 2012

In Loving Memory...

In Loving Memory was a screamo band from Des Moines.  Despite only existing as a band for a little under two years and having a mere 12 songs to their name, In Loving Memory's popularity has persisted due to the band's legendary spastic live set and the music they wrote being widely regarded as one of the finest examples of the Midwest emo-violence sound there is.

The first iteration of In Loving Memory came together in August of 1998, with Jordan Peterson, age 14, on guitar, Brian Dingeman, age 15, on bass, Spencer Williams, age 15, on drums, and their friend Justin Heuss rounding out the band on vocals.  Jordan had recently been influenced to start up a band by his sister's boyfriend Jake Haselman, who had drummed in Minneapolis hardcore band Fed By Ravens, and Jake's friend Steven Snere, who played in the Mason City metalcore band The Kinship, both of whom had just moved to Des Moines.  Jordan was obsessed with both Fed By Ravens and The Kinship and wanted to learn to play guitar so he could start his own hardcore band. Brian and Spencer were listening to bands like Disembodied and At The Gates at the time, so it was only natural that they too would want to start up their own band with a heavy sound.  They called their new band Day of Atonement, it was christian, and the metalcore influences definitely rang through.

This original lineup for Day of Atonement never played a single show.  After just a little over a month of practicing, Justin left the band and moved to Pella, a small town 45 minutes south of Des Moines.  Instead of seeking out another member, Brian took over on vocals while still playing bass.  Day of Atonement played their first show on Halloween night of 1998 in the basement of a pizza shop with other local punk bands The Horrorshow Hoods, The Whore Moans, and Nuclear Kicks.  Everyone at the show laughed at the band as they threw their instruments around during their set, but you've got to start somewhere.

After a year of playing shows as Day of Atonemeny, the members of the band began to shy away from the metalcore sound, as they started to dabble in the spazzier side of hardcore.  Listening to screamo and powerviolence bands like Orchid, Saetia, and Song of Zarathustra, it wasn't long before they wanted to take the sound of the band in that direction.  They also found out soon enough after starting up that another band named Day of Atonement already existed, a signed death metal band from Australia.  Not only that but their Day of Atonement, the Des Moines band, was a christian metalcore band, a vibe the members of the band definitely were not going for anymore.  They were going to switch up their sound and they needed a new name.  While driving on the highway, Brian saw the words "in loving memory of..." on the side of a semi and thought that would be a cool name for the band.  After realizing the "of..." part of the name was a little dorky, that word was dropped and they took on the name In Loving Memory.  Day of Atonement was finished.  They never recorded and no live recordings exist.

Along with a new name and a new sound, the band added some new members.  It was decided that Brian would do vocals and only vocals in this new band, so a new bass player was needed.  Brian and Spencer went to school and were friends with Joe Carrington.  He played bass and was a natural choice to fill in Brian's spot.  Right after Joe joined the band, in November of 1999, they played their first show as In Loving Memory at the Botanical Center in Des Moines with Florida hardcore acts Reversal of Man and Combatwoundedveteran.  After playing this show with Joe, the band decided to add a second vocalist to the lineup and that having a female vocalist in a spazzy hardcore band would be a cool and different thing to do, and at the time it definitely was different.  Regionally, one of the only other bands to have a frontwoman was fellow screamo band The Hareste from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.   Jen Wiley, a member of the band's tight knit circle of friends, was their first choice.  She was asked to be the band's vocalist alongside Brian and she accepted.

At this time Tanner Olson, the guitar player in The Spirit of Versailles, a screamo band from Sioux Falls, had just recently quit his band and moved to Des Moines as a change of pace.  Wanting to jump into a new band right away, he asked the members of In Loving Memory if they would be into having him play second guitar in the band.  The members of the band loved The Spirit of Versailles and thought Tanner was an amazing guitar player, so the decision was a no brainer.  In December of 1999, one month after In Loving Memory's first show, Tanner joined the band on second guitar.

In Loving Memory started playing numerous local shows at places like the Botanical Center and Hairy Mary's in support of touring bands, with regional Iowan bands such as The VidaBlue from Iowa City and Meth and Goats from the Quad Cities, and with local Des Moines bands like Rue Morgue, Eclipse of Eden, and Black Market Fetus.  With the band's new found spazzier and nastier sound, playing shows together with Black Market Fetus, a band with a crusty grindcore sound, made sense and the two bands quickly developed a friendship.  Soon enough, an idea for the two bands to record and release a split tape was brought up.  Andy Koettel of Captain Three Leg fame recorded each band's side in January of 2000 in the basement of Nate Fetus' house, Nate being the vocalist of Black Market Fetus.  Nate's mom actually came down into the basement to see if everything was alright while Brian was rolling around on the ground and screaming into the mic.  A crude recording, definitely, while still getting the point across, I think this tape is a great example of each band's early sound.  Black Market Fetus's side is a mean assault of blown out grind, and the In Loving Memory side is a nasty spazzy slab of catchy and piercing screamo.  The photo used as the cover art was taken behind Hairy Mary's after Black Market Fetus and In Loving Memory had played a show together there.  Featuring Black Market Fetus brandishing whips, chains, and bats and In Loving Memory standing there in sweaters, tight black pants, and with spock rock haircuts, it's a funny juxtaposition to say the least.  200 copies of Black Market Fetus Vs. In Loving Memory were dubbed and sold at local shows.

In Loving Memory Side
1. Song #1
2. Song #2 One Fate Fraught Night Back In '91
3. Song #3
4. Song #4

Black Market Fetus Side
1. Working World
2. Wanderlust
3. Rotting
4. Unite and Fight
5. Starvation

Click to download.

Every so often the band's parents would allow them to be weekend warriors.  Playing out of town shows was something the band always looked forward to and got stoked on, and with the aid of Brian's station wagon and a topper to hold some gear, the band hit the road.  They would play towns around Iowa like Sioux City, Marshalltown, and Waverly and spots out of state like Omaha, Nebraska, Moline, Illinois, and Sioux Falls, making friends with bands like The Hareste, Edict of Milan, Love Lost but not Forgotten, Saqqara, System Failure, and Plosion.  The only "tour" In Loving Memory ever managed to pull off was Omaha, Sioux City, and Sioux Falls right in a row, playing with fellow Des Moines emo-violence band Eclipse of Eden, who headed out on a bigger tour after these three dates.  Playing in Waverly once, Spencer threw up all over his drumset but continued to play the set, spraying barf everywhere, and all the kids in Marshalltown just stood around looking confused while the members of In Loving Memory screamed and thrashed around at a mostly ska show thrown at a park shelter. 

Shows at this time back home in Des Moines were getting pretty good In Loving Memory as they were able to open up for some bigger touring acts.  The show they played with Converge at the Botanical Center was right around the time Converge released The Poacher Diaries with Agoraphobic Nosebleed, so it was definitely an intense show, especially considering the Botanical Center doesn't have a stage so each band played the floor.   The Hope Conspiracy was also supposed to play this show, but had broken down on the way to town, so just In Loving Memory and Converge played.  Botch also came through Des Moines and told In Loving Memory that they were the best local band they had ever played with on tour.  The band also played a few weirdo shows at this time as well, including a daytime show played as a joke at the Iowa State Fair.  The audience would simply sit and stare as the band threw their guitars and rolled around on stage, and absolutely no one in the audience would applaud between songs.

After a year had passed with this lineup and their sound became more refined, the band took a trip up to Sioux Falls to record a record at Earsay Studios, a studio where Spirit of Versailles, Eclipse of Eden, and others of the same ilk had recorded before.  When all was said and done, the band had recorded ten songs total, eight newer tracks that Tanner had written and two re-imagined songs from the Black Market Fetus split, all of which Jordan had written.  The band burned four sample tracks onto a CDr and passed them out at local shows with original intention for all of these songs to later be released on a professional CD, but all of these plans were about to change

Tanner was much older than the rest of the band.  At the time, he was 20 years old with the rest of the band members' ages ranging between 16 and 17.  He wanted to be able to tour hard, as much as possible, and this simply was not something that he could do with a band like In Loving Memory due to the rest of the band still being in high school.  Tanner had tried to rectify this situation by starting Examination of the... in July of 2000, a band made up of members around his own age and a band that he could tour with.  Still, Examination of the... began to take up more and more of Tanner's creative output and eventually he no longer had any time to give to In Loving Memory.  He quit the band at the end of September 2000.  The band's final set with him turned out to be the Botch show at the Botanical Center with Examination of the..., The Holland Floor, and Ill Fated.

With Tanner leaving the band, this left a gigantic creative hole in the band's lineup and created a sense of confusion amongst the remaining members.  Elliot Imes, a friend of the band, stepped in to try and fill the hole that Tanner left.  Since he had been playing shows with In Loving Memory with his own band The Whore Moans since the Day of Atonement days, he was very familiar with their music and the best possible choice as a replacement, but this lineup lasted only a little over one month's time.  They did play some memorable shows, however, including a short set at the homecoming party for Des Moines Christian High School, a school that Brian and Spencer had basically been kicked out of the year before.  Jen could not make it for this show, so Joe Ross of Eclipse of Eden filled in as second vocalist.  After two songs, the principal of the school couldn't take it anymore and pulled the plug on the rest of their set.  The band threw a fit and Joe even got in the principal's face.  Still though, the band realized that with Tanner gone, the feeling just wasn't there anymore and they never really attempted to write any new material after his departure from the band.  The remaining members began to lose interest in the band, even considering that it was decided two of their tracks from the Sioux Falls recording sessions were soon to be released on a split 7" with Examination of the... on 605 Records, Tanner's own label.  This turned out to be the last release on this label, and the final nail in the coffin for the band, a shame since it's a great record.  When compared to the split with Black Market Fetus, the difference in recording quality is night and day on this 7".  In Loving Memory's side is fantastic, desperate emo-violence.  Examination of the...'s side is a nasty experiment in noisy hardcore, audio levels peaking all over the place.  Still, even with this record sounding as good as it does, on November 8th, 2000, In Loving Memory met their untimely demise.

In Loving Memory... side
1. This Closely Resembles The Knife In Your Hand And In My Back
2. Yeah I Burned All Our Old Pictures

Examination of the... side
1. She's No Stitch 
2. The Cubist

Click to download.

The band was finished, but they were still sitting on the rest of the unreleased songs from the Sioux Falls session.  Instead of letting the songs fade away into obscurity, the album was burnt to CDr and distributed among their friends in Des Moines and the friends they had made around the Midwest.  They called it "As Years Pass And Feel Like Seconds", a sweetly ironic name for the album.  It's a shame the band had a premature death, as the tracks on this CDr are very good and they are quite possibly the best example of Midwest emo-violence there is.  The guitar and bass playing are relentless and spot on, the near jazzy drumming is fantastic and always interesting, the vocals are nasty and piercing, and I love how the album ends in a song that's almost post rock, breaking the 4 minute mark.  It's an amazing swansong and really does a good job at capturing the band at their very best.

1. This Is Ours
2. Who You Enthrall
3. Moments Like These
4. Open The Door For Me
5. The Choice Has Always Been Yours
6. There's So Much To Say
7. I Burned It Down
8. Caught Up In The Most Simple Of Things
9. Remember
10. Tonight I Scream

Click to download.

After playing a single one off reunion show in March of 2001, the band was officially done for good.  After In Loving Memory, Brian, Joe, and Jordan formed Mourning Recluse with Eclipse of Eden frontman Rusty Steele.  This band eventually became Dispensing of False Halos.  Jordan left this band and went on to play a short stint in Innocence Broken and soon after started up Too Pure To Die.  He currently plays in Crusader.  Brian played in Dispensing of False Halos, and then Great Loss of Life, Wolves of War, and most currently Bedwetter in Florida.  Tanner continued to play in Examination of the... and today plays in Across Tundras.  Elliot played in a band called The Mezzanine for awhile and currently plays in Tyborn Jig.  

For having such a brief run, with the core lineup of Brian, Jen, Tanner, Jordan, and Spencer lasting a mere 10 months, In Loving Memory still managed to leave behind some great music.  Reunion show rumors have persisted but nothing has ever come to fruition.  A complete discography LP featuring the tracks on the split with Black Market Fetus and the tracks on the As Years Pass And Feel Like Seconds CDr has been in the works for nearly 10 years and is finally seeing the light of day very soon on Init Records.  By the time you are reading this it will most likely be available for purchase.  Make sure to check it out, as the tracks on the split tape have been mastered and should sound great.  Head to Init Record's website to grab a copy.

Please excuse the resolution of some of the images.  They were rescued from old Angelfire websites using the Internet Archive machine and I tried to make them look as best as I could.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

These Needles

These Needles was an art punk band from Iowa City.  The band was formed in early 2009 and, at the end of its run, consisted of Pat Larkin and Joe Ross on guitars, Joe Milik on drums, Brendan Wells on bass, and John Nagel on throat.

It was September of 2008 and I, Joe Milik, needed a change of pace.  I lived in Des Moines at the time, at the Haunted Basement, one of the city's last truly DIY spots.  I played in bands and booked shows at the spot, but over time I had grown a bit weary of the local Des Moines scene, attendance, attitudes, and all.  I needed to move.  I knew a few people that would let me sleep on their floor in Iowa City so, after wrapping up my bands and my time with the Haunted Basement, I caught the Greyhound east on I-80 with just my backpack full of some clothes and a toothbrush, and crashlanded on my friend Charles Free's carpeted floor.  I was now a resident of Iowa City.

I didn't know much about the local scene outside of the few bands that would come and play Des Moines every once in awhile (The Tanks is all, really), so I started going to house shows at places like the Exo Space and the Molded Nug.  I would see the likes of Supersonic Piss, Viking Fuck, and Warmorgan play (alongside a ton of noise acts coming through town) and seeing the warm support for weirder bands got me stoked to start a band of my own in new territory for me.  All I needed were some like minded folks to get on board.

Besides crashing on Charles' floor, I would also pass out on my friend Darrin Ling's couch from time to time.  This is how I ended up meeting Darrin's roommate Pat Larkin.  I think I was initially drawn to Pat because, well, he played guitar and he was weird.  And him being weird led to weird guitar playing, which I liked a lot.  Pat had heard me talk from time to time about wanting to start a punk band, and Pat himself had wanted to start a band himself, so one day we made it happen.  We went down into his basement in March of 2009 and started writing songs for our new "punk" band.  Props to Joe Scott for letting me use his drum set.  Thanks Joe!

We really didn't have a sound we were aiming for, we just knew we wanted it to be "punk" and that's all we went on.  Initially the first few songs Pat and I wrote at the time were a bit more offkilter and different than what I had been used to playing (which was thrash, straightforward hardcore punk), and I totally embraced that. What happened from trying to keep up with Pat's weirdo guitar work turned into some cool and interesting drum playing.  There were fast and hard punk parts, but all these parts were juxtaposed with a cool breakdown here or a nuts spazzy blastbeat there.  I liked where this was going. 

So, after we had a few songs written, four of them, we needed a bass player.  I never really had anyone else in mind to play bass in the band other than Brendan Wells.  I had known Brendan for awhile at the time, playing in bands with him when we both lived in Des Moines.  With he himself being a recent transplant to Iowa City as well, it only felt natural to ask him.  At first, he refused.  I don't know why, but it took a lot of pushing to get him to play in the band.  It was after asking no less than three times and then having him sit in on a practice that he finally said yes.

We were a three piece, had a few songs, and we were asked to play our first show.  I think the initial plans for the band were to have Pat do vocals and play guitar, but that wasn't really panning out at that moment in time, so we asked Pat's roommate Colin Kraemmer to do vocals for that show.  The show was with Loser Life from California, Warmorgan, and maybe one other band I can't remember, and it was at Public Space One.  We played 5 songs and a cover of the Ramone's 'Blitzkreig Bop'.  Yeah baby.  I don't really remember much about this show, so we probably sucked, who knows?  Brendan's amp might've went out, and Colin lost his voice, but that's about all I can recall.

Colin was only down to do the one show, so we needed to find another vocalist.  We had practiced a bit with Peter Tomka doing vocals, but that didn't work out (sorry dude!).  After brainstorming it over with Brendan, we both came to the conclusion that John Nagel, another kid we knew from back in the Des Moines days, would probably be the perfect choice.  He was smart and he knew how to write.  We asked him to come check our new band out at the Picador for our next show, the only show we ever played as a three piece, and after our set, we asked John what he thought about the band.  It was pretty good, he said.  We then asked if he'd want to do vocals in the band, and he said yes.

Having John in the band was the turning point of having the band being a pretty okay thing to being something rad that I had a ton of fun playing in.  He was a great frontman, had a great voice, and really knew what he was doing, so all-in-all, he really made the band more of a weird and fucked up presence.  That all became aparent during his first show with us at the Molded Nug with Supersonic Piss and Total Abuse (who never showed up): he showed up right as we finished setting up, got on the mic and killed it.  This was the first show that I remember the band sounding way good and having lots of mosh happen.

By this time it was getting the be the end of Summer.  Pat moved (back) to Minneapolis, but that didn't stop him from driving down to Iowa City all the time to practice and play shows.  We played some more shows, some at the White Lightning Warehouse (which is, in my opinion, one of the most important DIY spots that Iowa has ever had, and it was a pleasure to have a hand in making it all happen) and we decided to record our first demo tape.  At this point the band really had it's sound going.  Strange and snazzy songs firmly in the realm of "hardcore punk" but with a weirdo twist thanks to Pat's jangly, noisy guitar playing and my deliberate attempt at playing something "different" than what I was used to playing on the drums; bits of a blast beat here, a weird drum fill there.  With all the details ironed out, John, Brendan, and I drove up to Minneapolis to meet up with Pat and record in his basement with the help of his roommate Ali Jafar.  We recorded 8 tracks, put them on cassette, and headed out on a short midwest tour at the end of Novemeber of 2009, with dates in Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska.  I like this tape a lot, it really shows off the band's sound as a four piece.

1.  Abductor
2.  Cover to Cover
3.  Another Night's Dread
4.  Indebted
5.  The Demand for Him
6.  When Consumption Assumes Disposition
7.  Gutted
8.  Labored Breathing

Click to download.

Before our little midwest tour, I went on a Tanks tour out to the east coast and back (I met Jeff Nelson on this tour and he gave us a personal tour of his house!) and Joe Ross, the drummer of the Tanks, had been bugging me about letting him join These Needles on second guitar.  By bugging I don't really mean bugging, but he did ask a lot!  We had talked about it before with the rest of the band dudes, and everyone seemed down, so why not?  When These Needles had gotten back from the midwest tour at the end of November, Joe Ross officially joined the band on second guitar.  The addition of Joe made the band sound harsher, noisier, even more on the verge of falling apart, and definitely solidified the sound as "hardcore punk".  I loved it.

Joe learned the songs, we played shows, and Dan Davis, then of Be Kind To Yr Neighbor and formerly of Weather is Happening and Ricky Fitts, asked if he could put out a 7" for us on his new label he was starting called You Touch Us You Die Records.  Of course we were down.  I don't remember the exact conditions that these songs were recorded under, but I do remember they were recorded at my house I was living in at the time, 649 S. Governor, by Pat to four track.  These were the first recordings to feature Joe and, until now, have been unreleased, which is a shame as this version of "I Have the Power..." is my favorite.  I wonder if anyone else from the band remembers recording this?

1.  When Consumption Assumes Disposition
2.  The Demand for Him
3.  Cover to Cover
4.  I Have the Power... To Change the Channel

Click to download.

By this point in time, we had made good friends with other local freaks Supersonic Piss, so we planned a two week tour with them out to the east coast and back when the weather started to get warmer.  Before that though, both bands needed to record their own respective sides of a planned split 7" between the two of us with enough time to press it before tour started.  Guess what?  Neither band finished in time, so we opted for a split tape instead.  These tracks were recorded in one long day by Pat at my house again.  Joe Heuermann did the killer art for it, and when the end of May 2010 came, we took this tape on the road with us.  The newer songs on this tape really show the band becoming more chaotic and fucked up. 

These Needles Side
1. Six Pack
2. I Have the Power... To Change the Channel
3. Protoculture Ooze
4. Old & Die Phase
5. When Consumption Assumes Disposition
6. Gutted
7. Indeed I Am My Brother's Keeper
8. Overripe
9. Sleepwalk

Supersonic Piss Side
1. Toilet Death
2. Father Bother
3. Buck Angel of Death
4. Rape Farm
5. Skate
6. Oh, the Nut Sack

Click to download.

Pat documented the trip and you can view his amazing photos of the trip here.  It was a fun tour for sure.  Highlights include meeting the lovely Sharon and her crackhead lesbian companion in an alley in Baltimore, floating through a steamy Jason Voorhees style swamp at 3AM outside of Horseheads, NY, playing with an ex-Verse (straight edge hardcore band, if you didn't know) band in Providence and watching all the kids that showed up get bummed when the band got really drunk and played so sloppy, hanging out in a haunted nunnery in Toledo, and doing the feats of strength every night that would determine which band played first and which band played second.  Some of the shows were WACK (like playing with Cottonball Man in Pittsburgh, what the fuck was that shit?) but I look back on this tour fondly and I'm glad we did it.

When we got home from the tour, we were invited by our friend Travis Nordahl to come up to McNally Smith recording college in St. Paul where he was studying so he could record us on their sick equipment for free.  Some would argue "not punk" but free sounds good to me.  Travis recorded all the songs we had written up to that point onto 2" analog tape.  I was totally stoked because what we recorded sounded a lot better than the tapes we had been putting out.  These recordings sounded a lot cleaner than what we sounded like live, so it really gave a different perspective on our music.  The recording took a single session and mixing took another, and we had it wrapped up outside of level tweaks within two days.  We were planning on putting out our own 7" with some of these songs and saving the rest for later.

After the tour and the recording sessions, we wrote a few more songs and did another tiny midwest tour which included my personal favorite show we ever played, in Omaha at The Manor, a weird one that involved having a bunch of mosh bands whose show got cancelled across town come and "open" for us.  There were a bunch of mosh kids there that left as soon as the last e-string was chugged.  It was weird, but we still ruled that night!  We played ICT Fest the next day in Wichita, where they cut us off after playing 10 minutes but then mistakenly paid us twice, suckers.  Another stand out show at this point was the AIDS Wolf show at the White Lightning Warehouse, which was Supersonic Piss' first show with Joe Ross on drums after Jason Miller moved away to Lincoln.   This time period was the best the band ever sounded to me...

...And it's also the time period that the band seemed to, at least in my eyes, lose it's momentum.  It's hard having a crucial member of the band live 5 hours away.  It makes song writing difficult and it was getting to be a pain to play local shows without having to plan things out way in advance.  It's kind of a bummer realizing deep down that you know something cool, like this band, might be coming to an end sooner than you would like, before you could really fully appreciate what you had done with it.

It was reaching the end of the year now, and Jason Miller had asked us to come play a show with his new band in Lincoln.  It was a good show, in the basement of a record shop that was going out of business.  Jason's band, Moistoid and the Dumps (or maybe it was The Duke of the Hazardous Wastepool?) killed it I thought; Jason had gotten really good at drumming.  We also played with Violator X, Acid Mouth, and Diamonds R 4Eva, who were all good.  It was a sick show, definitely, with a lot of mosh.  Afterwards, while staying at Jason's, we had the talk and, long story short, we decided to end the band after our show the next day in Iowa City, an all local fest at the White Lightning Warehouse.

The show, called Santa Fest, turned out to be a wild one.  Our set consisted of tons of mosh and John removing his belt and whipping the crowd with it.  My bass pedal broke for a little bit, but outside of that, it was a great way to go out.  The only actual video that exists of the band comes from this show (although I do know someone taped us in Chicago!  Who are you dude?  I'd love to see that footage too!) and is just 26 seconds long.  Oh well, at least you get to see my good friend Aaron Barger barrel through the crowd at the beginning of the video:

So, on December 17th, 2010, These Needles ceased to be.  We died.  We're dead.  RIP.  But you may be wondering what happened to those tracks we recorded in St. Paul?  We still had plans for those.  Eventually Brendan, John, and I drove up to St. Paul again, met up with Pat and Travis, and recorded our 4 final songs that we had written after the initial recording session.  After a long and arduous mixing and mastering process that took nearly 9 months, the songs from both of these sessions were pressed to LP.  Due to a huge misunderstanding at the plant, two of the songs were left off the LP, but I've included them as the final two tracks in the download below.  Brendan and I did the art for the release and compiled a big booklet that comes with the record documenting the band's existence through flier scans and photos.  We put a lot of work into this, so please enjoy:

1.  Overripe
2.  Another Night's Dread
3.  I Was Ingenue
4.  The Demand for Him
5.  Cover to Cover
6.  Indebted
7.  Abductor
8.  I Have the Power... To Change the Channel
9.  Indeed I Am Not My Brother's Keeper
10.  Old & Die Phase
11.  Gutted
12.  Protoculture Ooze
13.  When Consumption Assumes Disposition
14.  A New Kind of Voyeurism
15.  Labored Breathing
16.  Preacher of Whim
17.  Freak Out Squares

Click to download.

So, there it is.  That's all, folks.  That was the history of my little band, and there's all of our recorded output.  We played shows and had fun.  Sometimes I think back and wonder if maybe we should have done things a bit differently.  Maybe we should've tried to work out the problems that band was having instead of ending it so quickly?  Maybe not.  It was definitely a learning experience and I'm glad I was apart of it.  I'm glad I made the music I did and I'm glad I met the people I did.  Maybe it was the time and the place, but if it wasn't, These Needles helped me realize that, even if you don't know many people in a music scene, with some heart and some hard work, others will accept and encourage the art you create. 

Everyone from the band went on to play in other bands.  Currently Pat plays guitar in the Miami Dolphins in Minneapolis, Brendan plays bass in Solid Attitude and does vocals for NERV, Joe Ross plays drums in Supersonic Piss, Slut River, and the Tanks, John does vocals in Error, and I play drums for NERV, Big Box, and Error.  Check all of those bands out if you have the time.  They're all excellent. 

If you would like a copy of the LP, I have around 15 left, so shoot me an e-mail:

Stay punk, folks.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Los Voltage

Los Voltage is a hardcore punk band from Iowa City.  First coming together in late 2010 as a weird off-shoot from the Old Scratch Revival Singers, the band consists of Jason Salek on vocals, Erik Whittaker on bass, and the brothers Highnam, Cole and Brad, on guitar and drums, respectively.

Los Voltage's music, to me, at least the first recordings, sounds akin to Italian hardcore along the lines of Indigesti and maaaybe early Raw Power if we're pushing it, but definitely Indigesti.  Obviously there's a recognition given to early Los Angeles hardcore in the band's imagery, with that cholo shit found on the band's tapes, but that might just be Erik's deal, who knows?  It's also hard to avoid the comparisons to early DCHC as well, and a nod to heavy psychedelia is thrown in with fuzzy and quick guitar solos coming and going in the songs out of nowhere. 

Off the top of my head I can't remember Los Voltage's first show, but I do remember the second show they ever played and it was a good one.  It was at the White Lightning Warehouse (RIP) in Iowa City on March 15th, 2011 with Iowa City partner's in crime NERV (one of my bands, who [whom?] Brad would later join on guitar), Holy Sheet from Providence, and, added late in the game, Wild Child from Minneapolis, which turned out to be their first show ever.  Sounds like a sick one, huh?  It was.  All sick hardcore bands (yes I speak highly of myself) and thankfully Adrianne Behning documented the evening and all of the pictures can be seen here.

Los Voltage's live show is pretty siiick.  It's good to see Jason cut loose and plunge into the crowd screaming as soon as that first snare hit comes.  Brad busts out weird 6/4 timing breakdowns out of nowhere that I'm always trying to figure out in my head.  Cole is usually in his own world when they play live, and has been making good use of the whammy bar for fuzzy solos that walks a fine line between plunging head first into la-la psych freakout land and diving back into some ripper riff.  Erik accentuates the weird drum beats in a pretty unique way, picking out high, catchy notes that linger above every other instrument, and usually braces himself during a live set as he gets moshed into the most.  Or, at least, I get moshed into him the most it seems. 

Okay, yeah, Los Voltage has some songs, they practice them, get to know them for about a half a year, so, they record a demo tape.  I'm pretty sure this demo was recorded by the band themselves.  It's definitely a raw one, but I feel its a good representation of the band in its early days.  The art for the tape is actually Jason' dad wrestling with some other guy.  WOW, good find.  This tape was released on July 15th, 2011 at a release show at The Orphanage in Iowa City, featuring the musical acts of NERV, Sky Carrasco, Brooks Strause, and some screamo (oof) bands from Chicago.  "Eight songs recorded in three basements in one day."

1. Cut 'Em All
2. In the Light
3. I Just Wanna Keep My Eyes Shut
4. Me In Place
5. Turn Around Run
6. Low Voltage
7. Burn Out Slow
8. I Wanna Go

Click to download.

So, the demo is out.  Los Voltage plays some more shows.  That's how it usually goes.  Jason has always been good about bringing his tape recorder to shows to record the bands playing live,  and recording his band was no different.  You can listen to a live set of theirs at The Birdcage from April 2011 (yeah, way before the demo came out, whatever) here.  They also played a Little Village Live (a live streaming music series that local mag Little Village does) set at Public Space One with Acoustic Guillotine a little more recently, in February of this year, and you can listen to that here.

That brings us a little up to speed.  Watching Los Voltage's music develop up to this point was a cool thing to witness.  Songs dove into more freakier territory in what I really can only describe as psychedelic hardcore.  It's all still hard and ripping, but there are definite psychedelic nods going on when Cole goes off the deep end on the guitar with madman solos and whammy goodness.  It's the tiniest bit indulgent sometimes, but it works well with the band, and feels like a very natural progression.
In April of this year, 2012, the band recorded this newer sound in Brad's basement, the Breast Imagining Center, to analog tape with the help of some huge and sick soundboard and tape recorder that I have no clue about.  They called it the Rock N Roll Summer tape, and it's awesome.  The first demo was raw and rough around the edges, but I feel the Rock N Roll Summer recording does a great job of capturing the current sound of the band.  I'm glad the band went with the same art aesthetic with this tape as the last tape, using another old picture of Jason's dad as the cover.  It looks great.  For the release of this tape, the band went on a short Midwest tour.

1. Fuck, the Guilt
2. Low Voltage
3. Me In Place
4. Bleeeding Me
5. Eyes Shut
6. Rock N Roll Summer
7. Motorhome
8. I Wanna Go
9. Turn Around Run
10. Burn Out Slow

Click to download.

So that's where we currently are.  Sick new tape, sick band, one of my favorites in Iowa currently.  Let's hope they tour out more in the future.  If you'd like to contact the band or inquire about the purchase of a physical copy of the tape, send an e-mail to Jason, jason.salek AT gmail DOT com.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I've neglected this blog long enough. I went to India for a month and a half with Brendan Wells and Mickey Shaw and I promised myself that when I got back to the United States I'd remain active and productive. I've worked on a few activities since returning to the States including publishing a zine surveying all the weirdo graffiti and advertisements I came across in India and mailing that out to people, but now it's time to focus on this blog. First thing is first: I'm going to spruce up all the old articles that are on here with some new information and the newer releases that have came out since the publishing of the articles. I've been working all day today, ripping cassette tapes and vinyl and scanning cover art, so... here goes nothing:



Unfortunately, Agress has disbanded since I first published their write-up on this blog. They were definitely a sick band and left us with some pretty sick tunes before their demise. Their self titled 7" came out in October of 2010. I remember I was driving to Minneapolis with These Needles to either play a show or record or something the day of the record release show for the 7" at the 1108 House in Cedar Falls (with Nails and Bent Life, if you must know), so we stopped at the show to grab the 7". Below is the record release cover, but Tom Parkinson of Lord Green designed the normal cover. It was released by Volatile Recordings.

1. Conversion Therapy
2. Tongue Blood
3. Touched By A Demon
4. Kingdom
5. Traitor

Click to download.

In a little over a year after this 7" was released, Agress was no more. They did go on a few tours inbetween this time, like an August 2011 tour with Homewrecker to the east coast, but the most important thing they did before breaking up was record the "Darksided" record. I don't know the personnel involved in making this record happen outside of the band members themselves, but I do know that it's such a shame, criminal even, that this record never made it on to wax as it is Agress at their best. So nasty, so moshy, so dark, such a headbanger. I love the catchy metallic licks thrown in, the franticness of the vocals. The s/t 7" was good, but this demolishes that record in every way imaginable. "Darksided" is a fantastic, crushing swansong.

1. The Storm
2. Personal Poison
3. Gone
4. Goodbye
5. Dying Breed
6. Knowing Death

Click to download.

After the demise of Agress, members went on to form the even tougher Black Ice and the poppy Lover's Speed. Check them both out if you can. I haven't caught Black Ice yet, but have played a show with Lover's Speed in Cedar Falls at The Space. Good shit. Black Ice has a demo out and is on tour now.


Big Box has gone through quite a change. Adam Havlin left the band and yours truly, Joe Milik, took up the responsibility of playing drums. The first show with this new line-up was day two of the Firecrack 500 Festival at the Blue Moose in Iowa City in July of 2011. After playing a few more shows like this, I think maybe just two including one at 109 N. Dodge with god knows who, Andy Buch was added on second guitar. The addition of a second guitar player allowed for a much fuller sound as well as some pretty sick guitar soloing between the two guitars. It's sick, trust me, I have first hand experience.

We played some shows with this lineup, a memorably moshy one being with Night People's Lantern at the Breast Imagining Center, and wrote a ton of new songs that we went in to Flat Black Studios in January 2012 to record. The songs on this recording came out sounding a lot fuller and a lot harder than the demo, but of course it would with Mr. Luke Tweedy working his studio magic. Outside of a small internet release (or whatever you want to call it), this recording remains "unreleased", but I'm sure you're gonna see it on wax sometime in the near future. Thanks to Donnie Bandy, again, for the amazing art.

1. Disease is Crawling
2. Cut Up
3. When It's Easy
4. Burn Victim
5. Eat Something
6. Camera Shy
7. Like Another Drink
8. Brat Mouth
9. $5 Gummy Bear
10. Stagger On, Unleashed

Click to download.

Any big time $$$ label$$$ should get in contact about releasing this on waxx. adamluksetich AT gmail DOT com or eatapes AT gmail DOT com. Since this recording session, however, Andy moved back to Des Moines. Currently Big Box is working out who is going to play guitar in his place and working on playing some out of town shows in the near future. Deal.


Solid Attitude has been a pretty god damn active band, playing shows and going on tours whenever possible. At the end of last year the band headed north from their home in Iowa City to Cedar Rapids (what a long trek) to record all of the new songs they had been working on with a guy that plays in the Wheelers if that means anything to you. His name slips my mind. Sorry. The tracks they recorded were put to tape and released on Brendan Records with artwork done by me.

1. 3D
2. Part 1
3. Part 2
4. PCP
5. Slow Surf
6. Solid Ettiquette
7. Punk Beer
8. 2nd Newest
9. 3rd Newest
10. Volume
11. Newest

Click to download.

How punk. Obviously the names of these songs area all just placeholders and I'm sure they'll have them all truly named by the time Rotted Tooth Records re-releases these songs onto 12" in time for a tour the band is planning to the west coast this coming July and August.


Ooookay. Supersonic Piss, here's a band that's done some stuff since I first put up their page. We last saw Supersonic Piss getting ready to go on tour to the east coast with my old band These Needles in late May and early June of 2010. In order to have some shit to slang on this tour, Supersonic Piss and These Needles recorded a split tape. This tape was released as Brendan Records 02 and the art was done by Joe Heuermann.

Supersonic Piss Side
1. Toilet Death
2. Father Bother
3. Buck Angel of Death
4. Rape Farm
5. Skate
6. Oh, the Nut Sack

These Needles Side
1. Six Pack
2. I Have the Power... To Change the Channel
3. Protoculture Ooze
4. Old & Die Phase
5. When Consumption Assumes Disposition
6. Gutted
7. Indeed I Am My Brother's Keeper
8. Overripe
9. Sleepwalk

Click to download.

This was a great tour. I had a lot of fun and played some fun shows. I really started to appreciate Supersonic Piss at this point in time. Not that I didn't like them before, but seeing them play every night was a treat for sure. The kick off show at 109 N. Dodge in Iowa City, known as the Mold Nugget at the point in time, was a fun time (Cruciform played as well), and Jason Salek of the Old Scratch Revival Singers and Iowa City hardcore band Los Voltage recorded the show on tape player. Jason Miller, drummer of Supersonic Piss, took this recording and released the Supersonic Piss set as a live tape. I didn't bother to split the tracks up as it's sort of all a blurry, warbly mess, but I'm of the belief that any and all physical releases need to be electronically documented in one way or another, so, here you go, in all it's shittily dubbed glory:

1. Live at Mold Nugget Side A
2. Live at Mold Nugget Side B

Click to download.

So, Jason released this live tape when we got back from the tour, and then eventually left the band itself to move back to Lincoln, Nebraska. Joe Ross, then guitar player of These Needles, took over as the drummer. They wrote an entirely new set (though later adding the "fan favorite" Rape Farm back into the fold) and this lineup first played with AIDS Wold and These Needles at the White Lightning Warehouse in Iowa City. After polishing the new songs off, the band traveled to the Quad Cities to record with Ray Malone of Meth and Goats at Sound and Vision Studios in Rock Island. I remember coming home from my first trip to India in February and going to this recording session. Brendan Wells and I got a guest vocal spot at the end of the song "Spit in Your Face" (seriously, let me sing in your hardcore band) and I play drums on "Joe Milik 2010". It was fun. This self titled (it is NOT called "Umbilical Noose" no matter what the internet says) record was released on wax by Rotted Tooth Recordings in April of 2011.

1. Go Home Dad, You're Drunk Pt. 1
2. Go Home Dad, You're Drunk Pt. 2
3. P-U-N-K-S-I-C-K
4. Factory
5. Baby Doll
6. Time To Leave the Party
7. Girls' Night Out
8. Not Today
9. Say It Ain't So
10. Less of Me
11. Spit In Your Face
12. Joe Milik 2010

Click to download.

The band did a few tours on this record, including an entire (well, almost) one month US tour called the Spread Eagle tour, and numerous tours out to the coasts and back. The LP was eventually repressed. The new songs written after this LP were kinda cool to watch develop. Joe Ross had really gotten into death metal at that point in time, so the new songs, at least as far as drumming goes, were a weird hybrid of fucked up heavy hardcore drumming and technical and blasty death metal drumming. Me likey. Soon enough, in October of 2011, Supersonic Piss hooked up with Minneapolis plodding heavy punk psychers The Liz (of whose guitar player Eddie Kijowski used to play all the time with the "old" Supersonic Piss in his punk band Permanent Vacation) and released a split tape that both bands toured on out to the east coast and back in November. Supersonic Piss' side was titled "Garbage Life" and The Liz went with "Flowers From the North". Art by Donnie Bandy, recording done by Ray Malone and Sound and Vision.

Supersonic Piss side.
1. Chicks With Dicks
2. Secret Hideaway
3. Choke Yourself Awake
4. Took Pills
5. Pitchin
6. Piece of Meat
7. Rape Farm
8. Untitled

The Liz side.
1. Untitled
2. Untitled
3. Untitled
4. Untitled

Click to download.

Supersonic Piss has recorded for a 7" to be released sometime in the near future, within the next few months. I can't wait.


Even though they still play shows every once in awhile, The Tanks have seemed to slow down, what with Joe Ross playing in two other bands, Slut River and Supersonic Piss, and Adam Luksetich playing in Big Box and touring Canadian super indie folk act Little Scream. That didn't stop them from recording their new LP called "Epic Loads" at Flat Black Studio with Luke Tweedy over the course of 2011. And guess what? Brendan Wells and I got guest spots doing vocals on this record too! Self released by the band in February of 2012.

1. 24-Hour Revenge Fantasy
2. Dandruff Genius
3. Triple Deathless
4. I Can't Believe I Broke Edge Again
5. Black Vise
6. Stop Taking Pictures
7. Seductive In Camo
8. Slung
9. Thanks But No Thanks
10. Natural Man Vs. Unnatural Boy
11. The Quiet Song

Click to download.

It's finally out and Epic Loads is definitely a sick album. It took forever, demo after demo and tour after tour, but it's finally out. What a good record. Crushing fuzz, one footed blasters, and just an all around awesome catchiness makes Epic Loads totally worth the wait. Even after hearing these songs a million times live, they're totally fresh on wax. If you'd like to get a copy for yourself, get at Adam, adamluksetich AT gmail DOT com.


Well, there we go. I have nothing else to say now. Newer updates very SOON.