Tuesday, June 25, 2013

AntiCurrent Archive Vol 4: Kick A Cunts: 1604 Demos

For the fourth edition of the "AntiCurrent.com Archives", a collection of rare albums I'm releasing through this blog, I'm releasing the first band I ever recorded.  Click here to view all past AntiCurrent.com Archive Albums.

Back in 2002 The J's (See Previous Blog as to who we were) began hanging out with Nick Jones, the bassist of The Kick A Cunts, whom we knew from our high-school. 3/4 of the band was based out of the city of Middletown and we were based out of the country where Nick went to school with us. We went one day to check out their rehearsal spot which was located in the basement of the lead singer Chirs Kay's house, dubbed 1604 after the address of the house. We soon began to visit more and more (as did many people and bands in the punk scene) until we just began to go over near everyday.

1604 allowed the scene a place to watch The Kick A Cunts (a, if not the predominant band in the scene) practice, have the occasional show, and most importantly at the time, a place to drink. Many crazy nights were had there, and I can recall far less than I actually participated in. It wasn't out of place for us to run and take shelter at 1604 once or twice a month with the cops not far behind some member of the group, leaving the cop to just knock on the door for half an hour before giving up in defeat.  

The band consisted of Nick Jones on Bass, Chris Kay on vocals, J.D. Attenborough on drums, and Derek Busch on guitar. The Kick A Cunts played streetpunk with overtones of The Exploited, The Unseen, The Virus, and others. As my group of friends started hanging out there more and more, I began to hang out a lot with J.D. and he quickly became one of my best friends (and I'd eventually join his next band, The Jackoffs).

By the end of Chris moving out, which caused the end of 1604, the place had meant so much to all of us that the entirety of The J's and The Kick A Cunts (and many others in the scene) got a tattoo of the numbers "1604". Mine are located on the back of my neck.

Somewhere around this time I bought a 6 track recorder with the intention of starting my own band, and brought it over to their rehearsal spot to test it out. The idea was to take my very limited knowledge, record the band as a whole, and then track by track overdub each member. I recorded their entire set at the time with 2 mic's feeding into one channel as the master, but the loudness of the cramped basement and all of our lack of patience never saw the fruition of a full album. What it did produce is what is here, a debatably decent quality 9 song demo of the entire band playing live.

I gave this out half a decade ago to the members of the band, but having no formal audio experience yet, the recording was slightly sped up and reeked of tape hiss and terrible EQ. So when I started this Archive release through my blog, I knew one of the first things I wanted to do was to go back to the original tape, recapture it, and remaster it, releasing it here with both the optimal sound (considering the source) and decent artwork.

So without further bullshit, here is the remastered version of The Kick A Cunts demo, named after their (and in my opinion, the entire Middletown Punk scene's) birthplace: 1604

Download The Entire Album and Cover Art Here:
MP3 Zip Archive

The tracklist is:
1. Shit Face
2. Fuck Mike Jones    
3. True Cunt Like You      
4. Dirty Punx
5. Media Brigade  
6. Die My Darling    
7. Punx Not Dead
8. Spikey Hair Drunk Punx    
9. Tool Sucks

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Brief Synopsis of The J's (AKA: The Kafeteria Kids of America)

I was going to do this post on a story about my trading of a working car for 15 loose cans of Schlitz Malt Liquor at age 16, but I realized that to understand such a thing would require the knowledge of who the the key characters involved were. Matter of fact, for many of these posts, you would need to know who the key members of miscellaneous groups, bands, and gangs I've hung out with throughout the years are. Otherwise our actions might be wrongly interpreted as random, senseless acts of violence.... well many of them were, but that is not the point. This is the story of the group of friends I hung out with throughout high school, The J’s.
Kuban J and Drunk J

Back  then I always hung out with the older kids because most people in my grade weren't into music the same as I. Particularly, aggressive music. As it stood, none of the J’'s were into the same genre of music. We all came from different backgrounds. I listened to punk, Jay #1 listened to metal Jay #2 listened to experimental Residents type stuff, and JZ listened was a Juggalo. There wasn't anyone else in our bumfuck country town that listened to anything other than top-40 and new-country, so because we didn't have the luxury of hanging out with people of similar taste due to there being zero scene in Madison Township, we were all banded together as the group of weird outcasts.

In retrospect, it was kinda cool to hang out with people that didn’t listen to your particular genre of music. I introduced them to Social Distortion, they introduced me to Gwar, and before many years our tastes contained enough bleed-over that we discovered music that all of us could tolerate while riding in one anothers cars... although we all agreed that JZ was retarded as all hell  for enjoying the “stylings” of Insane Clown Posse.

Kaf Kids and The Kick A Cunts
So this is the story (or at the least a brief synopsis) of the J's. The J's consisted of myself, JZ, and two other members named Jay.... get it? The J's? Well we didn't come up with it, that was a nickname that stuck, given to us by a punk band in the neighboring scene of Middletown. They were the Kick A Cunts... and I’ll be covering them in my next blog.

Looking back, for being friends we were all cruel as shit to each other as our nicknames arose from the worst or most shameful attribute each of us had. We always joked at one another's expense and we were always picking on one member or the other.

Jay #1 was nicknamed Fat J for potentially obvious reasons, he was a big fucking dude... but he didn’t mind the nickname. Fat J was sort of the ringleader of the group, not that he was any more in charge than the rest of us, we just tended to mainly hang out at his place and ride in his car. He was the sort of guy who called you a faggot for having a conversation where you displayed any sort of emotion, but then would drive you to fight a guy and back you up during it if someone tried to jump you.

Jay #2 was nicknamed Krazy J. Krazy was good people, damn good infact. The kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back without you asking for it. He came from good stock too, his parents were solid human beings, a rarity in this life. A few years  prior to his hanging out with us, Jay had hung with the popular crowd, and it is my estimation that they used his good naturedness to hang at his amazing house and play with his amazing toys. I suspect he either grew too smart to deal with this or was for some reason ostracized from the group. He could be a bit strange some days, but then again, who of us fucking aren't. But his demeanor toward others and their reception to him is why we dubbed him Krazy J.

JZ was nicknamed Kuban J. Why? Because we were fucking cruel to each other and he obviously came from sort of hispanic descent... even though both his "mother and father" were as white as a klansman's hood. Kuban was a Juggalo... and if you don't know what that is, do a google search and prepare yourself for the weirdest sub-genre/cult of music in the fucking world. A brief synopsis of the movement would read like this: They dress up like hell-spawned clowns in black and white makeup, drink Faygo, and are proud to be the whitest of white trash. Its fucking strange to say the lease, and to them, that would be a compliment.

Me at 18
Me? Oh I was known far and wide (and would continue to be for years) as Drunk J. Why? Go fucking figure, even at 16 I was a committed (albeit functioning) alcoholic. I was so known for my alcoholism at this early age that even Fat J's parents didn't have a problem with my drinking in their house (though no one else could) because as they said it, "He's got issues". My issues? Getting kicked out of my fucking parents house every two weeks. I'd bounce back and forth between my mother and fathers house until occasionally they ganged up on me and both kicked me out simultaneously.

My solution? No problem, I'll just go live at Fat’s house. It never lasted more than a few weeks or a month, but there were many, many nights I stayed there due to a lack of other options, and much as Krazy's parents were solid humans, so were Fat J's. They fed me, allowed me to sleep on their floor, and never raised issue one with it. Looking back, I'm incredibly grateful about that, and for Fat J allowing me to do it as well. As I said, he WAS a cocksucker, but he was my cocksucker... though not literally.

We all even had a band called the Kafeteria Kids Of Amerika (noticing a trend with the K's? Not even I am sure about that). What did we do? Well not much, we all played instruments to varying degrees, but we never played one show because we didn't make any goddamn music. We were the only band that did not practice or play. There are a handful of 5-6 demos that we recorded, but they are as low-fi as it gets and no more than us screaming into a mic with a few instruments accompanying.

Our lyrics made fun of ourselves, and handicapped children (told you we were cruel). We were nicknamed the Kaf Kids and got our name from the fact that the "helpers" in our schools cafeteria were mentally handicapped.... Just being honest here, judge all you want, but in our defense, most of our songs made fun of ourselves, songs like "Roush is a Penis", "I Am A Piece Of Shit", or "JZ fucked a goat" are overly apparent of this. You can expect this to be included as a future part of my AntiCurrent.com Archive series.

So that's us. Now I can tell you stories of the mischief, mayhem, and disorder that we caused and don't have to re-explain who the fuck we were.

Friday, June 14, 2013

AntiCurrent Archive Vol 3: Rancid- Let's Go / Wolves Demos

Greetings, for the third edition of "AntiCurrent Archives", a collection of rare albums I'm releasing through this blog, I chose some seminal demo's from two of the biggest albums to ever hit the world of punkrock.  Click here to view all past AntiCurrent.com Archive Albums.

Rancid Lets Go Out Come The Wolves Demos
On the heels of releasing their debut album, Rancid recruited former U.K. Subs guitarist Lars Frederiksen and completed what is known as their classic lineup (one that would withstand the test of time until drummer Brett Reed's departure from the group in 2006). This was 1992, and the band was recording demos for an album titled "Let's Go" that they had no idea would get major nationwide airplay, ushering in the triumphant return of punkrock's spitting in the face of worldwide culture. Also included on this are the demos for "...And Out Come The Wolves" which showcased the bands ever-maturing style of blending punk and ska forming their trademark sound. If the Phil Spector sound can be best characterized as a "Wall of Sound", then Rancid's patented formula is the equivalent of a "Brick-To-The-Face of Sound".

Rancid Demolition
These demo's are a little rough around the edges, just as punkrock is supposed to be. I actually prefer a few of these versions to the cuts that made it onto the album. Additionally, there are a few nearly lost treasures on here as well, like the song "Do You Wanna Dance With Me" that wouldn't resurface until Lars' solo band rerecorded it for the Viking album, retitling it "Little Rude Girl". This release documents a band that was still discovering exactly how to best utilize an amazing lineup of musicians that would take over and change the face of not only punkrock, but rock n'roll as well.

If you enjoy these, please purchase the album from the band via whatever format you prefer... personally I suggest buying it via their recently rereleased discography available on 7 Inch vinyl. Completely remastered, these records have NEVER sounded so good.

Download The Entire Album and Cover Art Here:
Mp3 Zip Archive

The tracklist is:
1. Tenderloin       
2. Ballad Of Jimmy & Johnny       
3. Dope Sick Girl       
4. Radio Radio Radio       
5. Just A Feeling       
6. Someones Going To Die Tonight       
7. Ghost Dance       
8. Roots Radicals       
9. Sabrina       
10. Do You Want To Dance With Me       
11. Sick Of It All       
12. The Way I Feel About You       
13. End Of The World Tonight       
14. Crucify Me       
15. Im Gonna Blast Em       
16. Leave It To Tomorrow

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How to Calibrate a Non-Calibratable Turntable

I've recently been collecting pieces to make a DIY HIFI soundsystem. The first piece of this that I bought was my record player, the Audio-Technica LP60. This is known far and wide as THE best introductory model record player due to its price, ease of use, and availability. After researching, I found some low-cost/high-value mods that are easily done to upgrade this setup. These include a diamond tipped needle, and an upgraded belt, come to find out, the whole package including upgrades is available here at LPGear for $99

However, just listening to the record player through a normal amp, I realized quickly that I had a problem: Near the end of every record the last few tracks of it were distorting (or peaking) out. This made the vinyl highly unlistenable and basically negated the entire reason that I was assembling this system in the first place.

So after researching the issue, I discovered that it was due to the needle being unbalanced on the player. Basically, if the needle side is too heavy, it causes too much pressure on the record and results in distortion. Consequently, if it's too light, it causes record skipping and the needle doesn't stay in the groove. This problem generally does not become apparent until you reach the last few songs on the record due to the reach and pressure of the arm being maximized.

The solution to this is needle calibration, basically adjusting the weight on the needle end of the record player. This is easy on higher end record players and only requires a few clicks on the needle arm, however on midlevel record players it's a bit harder and requires measuring and highly technical readjusting. The problem? Although the LP-60 is an introductory model, it does NOT let you calibrate the needle on it, the only factory suggested way to fix this problem is to ship it back, and let them fix it. Being impatient and having zero clue if I voided the factory warranty by adding a new needle, I elected to fix the problem myself.

The problem is one of balance of the needle, so if it is too heavy.... simply counterbalance it. There is room behind the pivot point of the arm to do this afterall. Yes, it does look a little redneck, but I'm concerned very little with aesthetics and only after sound quality with this project. So to accomplish this counterbalance, I used a variety of objects, but most of them fell off.... until I tried the change from my pocket.

Now the balance issue will be different for everyone, I tried every setup from two quarters (which was MUCH too heavy) to a dime (which was much too light). This easiest way to do this process is to find a non-aggressive sounding album (think Bob Dylan, early Tom Waits) that doesn't contain big, distorted sounds. This way you will tell very easy if the weight is not correct due to the distortion being EASILY detectable. Start the record, then skip it to the last song of that side and listen to it as that is where the problem will be most apparent. If it's skipping around, you have too much counter-balance weight, if it's still distorted, not enough. (It should be noted this isn't particularly good for the record that you are playing, so DO NOT attempt this with a high-value, irreplaceable record).

I found my desired weight after a few hours of tinkering, which ended up being one penny placed as far forward on the platform as it would allow. This was adequate for clearing the record-player cover as well as the arm moving around the enclosure. I added a piece of tape and secured it. Now? My records sound amazing, and I'm ready to start building out the rest of my new HIFI system....

Next up? DIY tube pre-amp.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

How I Ended Up Frozen To a Dock

One random Winter day during my 14th year of existence, I woke up on a dock in Cave Run Kentucky with very little memory of how exactly I got there. What I do remember is that it was freezing cold, my head hurt, and it seemed to be early in the AM hours of the fog-laden lake. After taking a moment to analyze my lot in life, I tried to raise up and rub my weery head, but I could not... my arm was stuck. I rolled over and looked down as to see what had taken hold of my stuck arm. It was when I viewed the devastation to my arm that I began to question exactly how I had gotten myself into this situation.... and slowly, partial-memories flooded back into my consciousness.

My first thought was the last thing I could fully recollect which was riding in the back of my fathers Ford Expedition, sat directly behind my then step-sister and her boyfriend, and sitting next to his brother Mike, while my father was driving the beast with an attached cigar boat trailing wildly behind. We were on our way to his house boat. Dearest Dad was weaving maniacally between trucks while doing 85 as we all sat in the back passing back and forth a bottle of Apple Pucker and chasing it down with a case of nut brown ale that we had just bought for the trip.

By the time we had completed the 4.5 hour trip, we were all loaded, save for Father who was only half in the bag due to his being "responsible" and drinking only during the final hour-long leg of the journey. When we finally got to the house boat, we quickly unloaded and shortly thereafter began an impromptu game of "Up and Down the River". Now, I'm sure this game has rules in some book, and I'm sure someone cares about them... however we did not, we played the Jack Roush way. This consisted of passing out five cards per person involved, then turning the remaining cards up one at a time, and anyone that had a pairing card had to take a shot of Pucker. Generally most people would get 3/4 through the game before relieving the high-fructose inebriate from their churning stomach. Good times.

However, we were old hat's at the game, and managed to put two games of it under our belt.... and then came the whiskey... Jim Beam precisely. After about 4-5 shots, my father who had been at work all day went back into his private bedroom and crashed. That's when the fun began, Mike and I heard some faint yelling across the lake, the more we listened, the more it began to sound like females... so naturally we went to inquire as to what they were doing.

When we finally found the sources of the squeels down a random dock, we were disapointed to see that there were only two females and they both were taken, however the other 3 guys with them seemed to be drunk frat boys and down to drink with Mike and I... which my being 14 probably doesn't say much as to the caliber of human beings they were. We were drunk and I was once again drinking people nearly twice my age under the table... a talent that has lasted my entire life. It was around this time that I noticed a few of them were on another "plain" so to speak, I asked the guy to my left what was up with them and he informed me that they were tripping on ecstacy... it was around this time that I really began to lose my grip on reality, but I was later informed that I didn't in fact take anything that night besides smoking a little grass... but I honestly cannot tell you what happened in the next 4 hours. To hear the tale though, it involved me pissing off of what I thought was their boat onto the dock, when in actuality, it was the other way around and I got kicked off for my pissing on their boat.

So there I found myself the next morning, still-drunk, frozen to the dock... in what was apparently my own vomit. My arm literally a vomit-sickle containing a gross combination of last night's steak and my own bile. I tried to pick up my arm, but it was met with strong resistance. It was obviously early AM, and though my father didn't mind my drinking, I knew that I had to get to bed before he got up, for if he found me in this state in front of his neighboring house-boaters... he would be none too pleased to say the least. I briefly considered throwing water to melt the vomit-sickle encapsulating my arm, but I had no way to get it. I even considered pissing on my own arm to melt it, but I didn't feel like dealing with the explanation that may come along with being caught in such an act. So I held my breath, looked away, and ripped my flesh off of the dock.

Not as much of my skin was removed as I had feared while enduring the pain, matter of fact only a small patch was noticeably seeping with blood, most of it just looked as if I had a massive rash. It was the huge rush of endorphins that accompanied the pain combined with the fact that I was still drunk from the night before made me fall back to the ground as soon as I stood up. It was due to this momentary lapse of consciousness that caused me to not realize that my Dad was standing there on the bow of the boat. "Hey boy, what'd you get sick or somin?" I looked down, the vomit was beginning to glisten and thaw in the morning rays of sunshine, enough to where I felt safe in acting as I had just spewed it up. I stood up, hid my arm behind my body, mumbled "Yes sir, it was a rough one", immediately took a shower, drank a beer, and started attempting to imbibe enough whiskey to force the pain away.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

AntiCurrent Archive Vol 2: Street Dogs: Savin Hill Demos

Greetings, for the second edition of "AntiCurrent Archives", a collection of rare albums I'm releasing through this blog, I chose one of the best punkrock demos I've ever came across.  Click here to view all past AntiCurrent.com Archive Albums.

The year was 2002 and Mike McColgan had been notably absent from Punk since quitting the Dropkick Murphys in 1998 to become a firefighter. Thankfully for us, living out this lifelong dream was not enough for him and thus, he created this demo with the ex-drummer from Dropkick Murphys, Jeff Erna (who played drums on the Boys On The Docks EP), Bill Close from The Freeze, and Rob Guidotti of The Bruisers (Al Barr's band before Dropkick). This demo quickly circulated at the time, and there's damn good reason for it... it's raw, aggressive, well planned, and damn near genius Boston punkrock (I actually prefer these versions to the properly recorded ones on "Savin Hill"). However, in recent years, it has became harder, and harder to get your hands on.

dropkick murphys al barr mike mccolganIf you enjoy these, go and buy "Savin Hill", these are great stripped down versions of these songs, but in the end, it is just a demo, the album is a much more cohesive example of their sound at the time.... matter of fact, go and purchase their entire catalog if you enjoy this as they have yet to have an album that disappoints.

Download The Entire Album and Cover Art Here:
Mp3 Zip Archive

The tracklist is:
1. Locked & Loaded
2. Star
3. Mystery Box
4. Justifiable Fisticuffs
5. When it Ends
6. Cut Down On The 12th
7. One Of A Kind