top of page

Entry date: 3-28-2024 – I Just Don’t Get It, But I Kinda Do, and just Don’t Want to – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

 

Found out last night that another friend of mine is gone.

 

JPP was another person that, when I went to see or play music, I expected to see him. He was always around with his trusty video camera, a smile, and a pint of beer. I’m trying to remember where we met. Maybe Boston’s, but it could have also been at Hollywood Alley. It doesn’t matter.

 

He was a good one. I considered him a friend and I hope he considered the same of me. Another face from my past I will ever see in person. There are so many people I miss. The list got a little longer yesterday.

 

I often worried about him, too. He would get a little drunk from time to time and be out and about on his bike. I offered to give him a ride more than once from the Alley, but he always said he had it covered. Everybody loved him, as far as I could tell, so I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was trying to look out for him

 

I know the last few years had been tough on him, health-wise, so I can’t say that I’m shocked, but I’m definitely sad. I know I’m not the only one missing a friend today. My heart goes out to his sister and anyone else that loved him.

 

*****

 

The Cocaine Baby has had three good days in a row. In all honesty, he’s been awesome. I do know that he is now on some type of medication. If it helps him, then I’m happy. I’m not a fan of medicating children as so many take a bunch of crud that a change in diet could probably fix, but with Cocaine Baby, I just want him to be happy.

 

Now, some of the other assholes…haha. Those kids can eat a bag of shit flavored jelly beans.

 

***** 

 

I’m kidding. Maybe just a bunch of red hots with nothing but some hot dog water to chase’em.

 

*****

 

(The Bet)

 

The house always seemed so still when Aidan left. It made Sean a little uneasy. He had a life of his own, sure, and things were happening for him. It was just moving a little slower than his famous friend.

 

About two hours after Billy or Barney or whatever the slack-jawed hippy kid, who was probably some producers’ son, drove off with his roommate, Sean decided to head downtown for a little record shopping before his shift at the restaurant that night. As he drove, the thought crossed his mind that he should have probably been nicer to Barry/Ben/Buddy, but he didn’t care.

 

Sean had made friends with one of the managers, Rick, at Tower Records, which was just a few blocks down from Ma Maison. They had worked out a friendly arrangement where Sean would get Rick the occasional fancy table to impress some nice young lady and Rick would hook Sean up with all the records he could listen to.

 

Needless to say, Sean and Aidan had a great record collection, although a lot of their favorites made it back to the house they had in Tucson. Aidan had bought it with one of his first big paydays in 1975 for $22,400 so that no matter what, as he said, “They would both always have a place to go when things got crazy.”

 

Lately, neither of them had much interest in Tucson, but the house was there and ready for them whenever they needed it. Another friend from U of A, Lee Bishop, lived there full-time. He had graduated and took a job teaching drama at Tucson’s Rincon High School where he was pretty popular since he was friends with “the Aidan Mann.”

 

Sean wondered what Lee was up to as he turned onto Melrose and headed to his favorite parking spot. He wondered what he would have thought about Friday Vermillion. There was something about that girl. He didn’t know if he was jealous, scared for Aidan, or what it was.

 

As he walked into the comfortable confines of Tower Records, it occurred to him to ask Rick what he knew about Friday. It seemed like Rick knew everyone in L.A. and if he didn’t, he knew somebody that did. He spotted his friend standing near a promo poster for the Ramones talking to a couple of younger looking kids. He caught Rick’s eye and started thumbing through some records in the M’s.

 

*****

 

Hollywood Alley was a pretty magical place in the early and mid-90s. I saw so many and did so many good shows there throughout the decade that it is really hard to pinpoint too many anymore unless I listen to a particular record. My buddies, Trunk Federation, eventually signed to Alias Records and for a few years during the courting process (I could be wrong about this…it might have been more like months), they seemed to play with all the good bands that Alias had when they came through town, and it was often at the Alley.

 

One of these bands was Archers of Loaf. I think the first time I actually heard them might have been at one of these shows. I remember people talking about them and I thought the name was brilliant, but it was seeing them live that made me a fan. At one of these shows, I bought Vee Vee. It was the first thing I got from them, and I thought (and still think) it is fucking brilliant.

 

First and foremost, Archers of Loaf are a great live band. I don’t care if I haven’t seen them for well over 20 years, either. I would get in the car right now and go see them. Eric Bachmann is great lyricist and plays a mean rhythm guitar. Eric Johnson’s lead guitar parts are inventive and cool as fuck, and Matt Gentling and Mark Price, bass and drums respectively, are a fantastic rhythm section.

 

Vee Vee is strong from start to finish. “Step into the Light” was written by someone outside the band, but it’s a super cool opener. Mostly instrumental, Johnson has some great delayed guitar stuff happening and it does the classic indie rock fuzzy thing as well as anyone. Pound for pound, I’d put Archers of Loaf up against any band. Almost three minutes in, you hear Bachmann’s voice for the first time. The wait Is worth it.

 

Bachmann has this sensitive yet gravelly yet angry thing that I don’t know if I’ve ever heard done as well by anyone else. He can really sell the sad songs and the “fuck you” songs and the straight up rockers. I was fortunate enough to go see him a few years back in a piano store in Mesa and it was great. They guy can really write a song.

 

“Harnessed in Slums” is pure power. Johnson has this tone that sounds like some sort of machine hell bent on demolition. The lyrics are spit at the mic with a kind of urban distaste that could only come from a guy who hates cities. I don’t know if this is the case with Bachmann, but it sounds like he wants to tear someone a new a-hole.

 

“Nevermind the Enemy” sounds like it is a recording of a satellite at the outset, but as I listen to it, I’m realizing that as much as I love the lyrics, I am just as huge a fan of the guitar sound on this record. It makes me wish I was a guitar player who could make this kind of stuff happen. Of course, I can’t, and probably won’t be able to ever, but it is fun to dream.

 

“Greatest of All Time” might be my favorite all-time Archers song. Back in ’95 or ’96 when I first got this record, I told everyone about this song. “They caught and drowned the front man of the world’s worst rock and roll band/He was out of luck because nobody gave a fuck” is one of the greatest first couplets in rock and roll history. “Throw the bastard in the river!”

 

For almost thirty years I have loved this song. If you ask nicely, Bachmann will play this song on banjo for you, too. He did it in Mesa. It was epic.

 

Just when you think the record won’t reach new heights, though, it just keeps going strong. “Underdogs of Nipomo” is a mover. It’s strong, too. Strong enough to pick you up, take you a long, and let you enjoy the ride. One of the things about Archers of Loaf is their consistency. It’s always interesting and not afraid to challenge you as a listener. These guys were not messing around.

 

“Floating Friends” and “Fabricoh” are both kind of mid-tempo numbers that are the perfect middle pieces to give you a bit of a breather, but both are still sonically interesting. I don’t want to ignore “1985” but it is one of the kinds of odd things that bands in those days were doing a lot. It’s under a minute of something that doesn’t seem to fit at all.

 

Probably the closest thing to a punk rock song on Vee Vee is “Nostalgia.” It’s angry and kinda snarky and great. “Let the Loser Melt” flows so nicely right out it. “Nostalgia” is kinda shouty and pissed off and then Archers just pull the rug out from under you with a really pretty, contemplative riff. There’s a little math rock happening in “Let the Loser Melt” with the beat Price plays and it works.

 

Bachmann is a master of staggering his vocal delivery in a way that’s always interesting, too. He controls the mood of songs really well. “Death in the Park” is a bit guilty of making this record go on a little longer than it needs to, but again, it’s a good song. I don’t mind it at all. Maybe I’ve run out of superlatives.

 

“Of course, I can put you on the guest list” is a great line in “Death in the Park” and “The Worst Has Yet to Come” sounds noisy and jumbled up. It’s a bit manic and fantastic, too. I am a sucker for the way “Underachievers March and Fight Song” starts out. It bobs and weaves to a very satisfying conclusion.

 

If you aren’t familiar with Archers of Loaf, Vee Vee is a really good place to start, but honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong with this band. They are kind of like Subhumans in the way that all their records are super solid and different people like each one. I will definitely be writing about at least one more of their records this year.

 

*****

 

See you tomorrow.



JPP! Rest easy, friend. You are already missed.

27 views0 comments

Comentários


Post: Blog2 Post
bottom of page