punk haiku 3 "FANZINES, THAI STICKS, & D TO G"

video: 

A video of the studio version of "Do the Wait" that we recorded in 1977. It was included on the UNCUT magazine 'protopunk' CD in the spring of 2009.

PUNK HAIKU: unheard stories and sounds from the proto-punk years                          featuring Toronto's The Scenics

AUGUST 1976, Toronto

 

All of the songs  from Punk Haiku 1-5 are collected and available on the free/by donation album "Proto-Spunk" at  Dream Tower Records.

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Do the Wait

The first version that we have on tape- a week or two after Andy wrote it in February 1977.

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o charlotte

A favorite  early song of Ken's. It slipped out of our setlist once we started gigging. 

 

  

 

 

 A week later, I travelled again from my solid split level bungalow and generous suburban corner lot, where I had the downstairs bedroom, the one my sister Judy vacated when she moved out to live in sin with her drugged out musician boyfriend. I had wanted it immediately, but my parents said wait- she’ll be back. At her insistence, I was soon enjoying the relative independance it afforded, tucked away on another floor, and travelling to Palmerston in mid-town Toronto.

 

 I took the long bus ride down and Ken and I smoked Thai sticks and he played me the Stooges' “I wanna be your dog”, really, really loud. He was very willing to play my songs and I enjoyed the way his face would go when he sang his (he always went for the jugular) so I kept coming back.

 

 

Those first rehearsals had a lot of space- there were no drums, no p.a., we’d just sit and sing songs any old way we wanted- we found we could follow each other , stick to each other like glue, really, and we both had a way of playing with the song, and with our vocals, that was just an expression of how much we loved this stuff, how wired into it and obsessed we were.

 

 

 

 

Ken had early copies of New York Rocker and Punk Magazine, Trouser Press and Bomp, and these mags, and, (here was a new word,) “fanzines” were talking about something that was, thru multiple references to multiple parts, adding up to a whole. Television and Talking Heads. Talking Heads as yet unheard. (With no internet, it could take months and months to hear a band you had read about.) Patti Smith, looking back before her album to find the “Piss Factory/Hey Joe” single.

 

 

 

Bands releasing eps, 45s with 3-5 songs on it, which suggested a connection with 60s British pop and mod music. Conciseness in songwriting and arrangement and deportment favored again, not the bloated rock stars taking up a huge amount of space, and again, unlike the standard household rock star, danger being part of the mix again. “Gimme danger”- Iggy Pop and the Velvet Underground and New York Dolls recognized not as dead end oddities, but known by the unscattered diaspora who had heard those albums and knew that they weren’t crazy.

 

 

   In those days this music was seen  by a few as a way to go, a line to walk, where you could overthrow all the stale, safe cliches of rock and say “no, what I mean to say is THIS.” And then deliver it straight from the solar plexus. Direct expression. At this point it was not about posing, not about being part of the crowd, not about a safe rebellion. It was about going it alone. When Ken and I began playing, there were no bands playing this type of music in Toronto. The only current examples we had heard were Television’s Little Johnny Jewel single and Patti’s Horses  lp. The Modern Lover’s first LP. Pere Ubu’s first single. 

 

 

    There was not a lot of discussion about what we were doing, musically. We just found each other in it.

 

    So Ken would load  me up with BIg Star’s first  two albums and Roxy Music and I followed him into this musical territory- outsider sychedelic garage noise rock, because I found out I loved it too.

    In some ways it was my first co-production gig, my first time going into  someone else’s creative world and taking it on, living it completely till it became mine. But really, it was just my own obstinate musical way of seeing things coming into focus, and my need to express something that came out from my guts, uninterrupted.

 

   Because there were just the two of us, we could really hone in on were we met musically. Despite there just being the two of us, we would play pretty loud. It was August, it was hot, the windows would be open. At some point there would be a clatter of heels skittering down the stairs and then a stacatto knocking at the door. Mrs Gicato from upstairs- “It’s very loud! It’s very loud!” Ken would put down his guitar, walk to the door, and laconically say, “Uhh, I just got out of the shower,  Uhh, I’m naked, I can’t open the door...” and immediately the music would begin again.

 

 

  The only songs from those very early days that survived were  Ken’s In the Summer, and  Where have all the Good Times Gone and See Emily Play

  Ken had written In the Summer that spring.

  “These girls look so good   in the summer

    These girls smell so sweet in the summer.

    Just like a dirty sheet my these girls yes yes these girls.”

 

The song unfolds through a series of manicured builds and ended up with us defining our Valhalla through an extended workout back and forth from a “D” chord to a “G”, guitars and vocals overlaid, and this living through D and G  became our home turf, something we also explored in our version of “Waiting for the Man” and my “Do the Wait”, among others.

 

 

In early August, I was making my rounds of the used record stores in town, a route that would start off at Yonge and Bloor and Records on Wheels, and then head south down Yonge St to Round Records and another one at college, just south of Maple Leaf Gardens, and then west on college, through the university to that store on Baldwin St, which  had the largest selection of bootlegs in town, where I had earlier picked up a Patti Smith bootleg which yielded “Ain’t it Strange” to our early repretoire.

But the find on this particular day took place at “Nth Hand Books”, also near the university, a small, dusty shop with leaded windows, filled to the ceiling with books, with an island of records in the middle. Paul, the owner, was a collegial soul with a handlebar mustache and corduroy jackets, and a couple of years later, when I lived a block away with Susheela, we had a yard sale and Paul strolled by and picked up a bunch of records, which made me feel both honoured and like I had made a mistake. Paul was always knowledgable about music, introducing me to  terms like  “blue-eyed soul” (when I bought a copy of Robert Palmer’s “Pressure Drop”). On this day in August 76 he introduced me to another term when I dived for an LP featuring 4 boys in black leather caught against a peeling brick wall. 

  “Oh yeah, the Ramones. It’s good Punk Rock, better than the New York Dolls, anyway.”

    On the subway I read the lyrics (it didn’t take long). Beating on brats with baseball bats, and Nazis, I hoped Carol, who was Jewish, wouldn’t be offended.

   At her house, when I threw it on, she didn’t bat an eye at the lyrics, just started nodding her head, but the whole sound made me stop. I don’t know if it’s possible today to describe how startling the Ramones were in 1976.

I would listen staring at the speakers, doing a frozen double take. They revealed what was at the core of rock songs by stripping absolutely everything else away. So what was left made total sense, but was something you had never experienced by itself. There was no place to go with their songs, nothing to get distracted by. All that was there was bone and lean muscle. The drums were like one of those toy drum kits played by monkeys, but writ large and solid.  The bass and guitar were panned like on early Beatles, the songs were... pop, but also great psychic monologues-

   Hey daddy-o I don’t wanna go down to the basement

with basement pronounced  “Bois” in Joey’s bizarre mid atlantic accent.

   SOmethings down there

    I don’t wanna go

    Hey Romeo

    Somethings down there

     I don’t wanna go

     down to the base...

 

 Then they would do “Let’s Dance” and show you that they were just being what bubblegum had always been, and you weren’t sure if there was really an organ in let’s dance, even though it was clearly audible, because throughout the entire lp there were layers of harmonics ringing like, I swear, Bach’s orchestral textures (and I was gratified three or four years later to read them say in Rolling Stone that that had been part of their vision from the top, just play 3 chord songs, stripped down, and let the distortion and overdrive fill in the rest, ) and the whole lp is only 28 minutes long, and dee dee’s bgs are spot on,  and they end with 53rd and 3rd, (essentially the movie “Taxi Driver” crossed with Walt DIsney’s “It’s a small world After all”,) and then  take us back to Nazi Germany, and end by  chanting “Today your love, Tomorrow the world”, and then look at us sweetly, daring us to do anything about it.

 

What could we do?  We succumbed.

 

  And if that weren’t enough, a week later posters started turning up all over the city. The word made flesh, Ramones at the New Yorker Theatre, Aug 24-25, 1976.

 

PUNK HAIKU CHAPTER 4   "1-2-3-4 / a drummer for a day" 
PUNK HAIKU 3 CREDITS:

Do the Wait  (Andy Meyers, Allowed Sound Music)                                                                    Guitar/Vocals Andy Meyers.  Bass Ken Badger.  Drums Mike Cusheon.                                                            Recorded Feb 19, 1977, Neil Wycik 

 
O Charlotte (Ken Badger, Timmy's Music)
bass/vocals Ken Badger.  guitar/vocals Andy Meyers. guitar Dave Moore. drums Mike Brown.
Recorded October 17, 1976 (the day before Andy's 19th birthday) In Andy's basement.

 

PUNK HAIKU AUDIO produced by Andy Meyers

PUNK HAIKU written by Andy Meyers

drawing by Gareth Gaudin, MAGIC TEETH COMICS

©2010 Dream Tower Productions. All Rights Reserved.