Dirty Guitars and More

Like I said yesterday, and as Meagan has been writing about this week, Deep Cuts (our current series on The Appetizer) has been a lot of fun. In presenting music from people we all know about, and probably followed as some point or another in our lives, but songs that weren’t popular in the mainstream is pretty cool. I know I used to like being anti-trendy, or going for things that the popular kids weren’t into. It made me feel like I was a part of something unique and vibrant, not the same old thing. Hit songs are the same old thing, it’s what “everyone’s listening to.” Most of us want to be special, unique, and be treated as an individual and not a drone or copy of something else. That’s why going off the beaten path and playing music from mainstream artists that only diehard fans know but most others don’t is being a part of that special group.

Green Day circa 1998
When I was in high school over a decade ago, I was really plugged into the punk rock movement. It was shortly after Green Day hit the mainstream with its Dookie album and then Blink 182 emerged as the pop punk sensation. There were a group of guys in my class that had formed a punk band and recorded an album (produced on tape and not cd, which of course made them extra cool because tapes were old and cds were new). Most of them were big Bad Religion fans, so I became somewhat interested in the music these guys listened to as I broadened my horizon for punk music. I do remember my friend Jeff, who as the lead singer in the band, getting upset that Blink 182 was touring through Houston on a nationwide gig and Bad Religion was opening for them. Since BR had been around for over a decade at the time and were punk pioneers, he was miffed that these MTV posterboys were treated as stars when the guys that paved the way should be the headliners. I still think that’s an interesting, and in many ways appropriate, attitude towards the frontrunners of things.

Another thing these guys introduced me to was Mike Ness and Social Distortion, a California punk act that featured some great songwriting that told stories about the dark side of life, a rags to riches to streets sort of saga. Ness didn’t air his dirty laundry in his songs, but didn’t shy away from the fact that his life hadn’t been easy. An album that came out during my grade school days was White Light White Heat White Trash. It received some commercial radio play for tracks like I Was Wrong and When The Angels Sing. I think they had a video or two that was popular as well. When The Angels Sing was the reason I picked up the album, but like most people that buy a cd for one song, I found a lot more material on the album than the one song that initially had my interest. One of those tracks is a song that I featured in the second hour of Deep Cuts (05-21-11) called Crown Of Thorns. The song is about Ness’ story, it’s “been no bed of roses, but it ain’t no crown of thorns.” I think we can all relate to that. Mixed into the song are what I call dirty guitars, or the unique style of distortion that punk bands of that subgenre were known for, and what makes them unique. You can hear what I’m talking about below.
[audio:http://blog.appetizerradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/09-Crown-Of-Thorns.mp3|titles=Social Distortion-Crown Of Thorns]

One other punk band that members of Crash 81 (don’t know if they’re still playing together or not, but they had a cool sound back in the day), Daniel Hawkins, introduced me to is one I still listen to as well. I remember how it happened, I was waiting in line at Fitzgerald’s theater in Houston, a regular hangout and venue for smaller punk/alt rock acts coming through town. At the time, I was a big follower of MxPx. They were the headlining act. I hadn’t heard of the first band on the ticket but the second act was a band I’d heard on a compilation disc. As we waiting in line outside the venue, I ran into Daniel and was surprised to see him. I knew he hated MxPx, didn’t find anything about their sound or songs to be good at all. I asked him why he was there and he said he came to see No Motiv, that after their set ended he’d probably just leave but that they were amazing. By the time we got our tickets and got into the building, No Motiv was on stage and playing. I remember just stopping and watching these guys play with complete captivity. They finished their song and I looked at the friend I was with and was like, “Wow, Daniel was totally right.” They played about 7 or 8 tracks from their debut album and were done. I immediately went and bought their cd and still have it. When I got to college I followed the band when they came out with new stuff, picked up some bootleg or pre-released music (way before I started doing the radio show) and grabbed their subsequent album, but haven’t kept up with them since. I still think And The Sadness Prevails is one of the best albums from that period of my life, and I still enjoy listening to it, even though most of the tracks are somewhat depressing in nature. The followup album was more hopeful in theme, obviously a sign of where the lead singer was in his life. You can hear the track we featured two weeks back below.
[audio:http://blog.appetizerradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/04-The-Waiting-Hurt.mp3|titles=No Motiv-The Waiting Hurt]

This is where we’ve been. Where we’re going this week is a custom selection of music from people who are icons in the world of rock, but I can promise you that the songs I’ll serve up on the radio show were not tracks that made these people popular. They were songs that were discovered by people like you and I who bought the album for a different song, a song we probably heard on the radio. But the songs we go back to listening to are not the ones the sold us on buying the album. They’re something more. That’s what The Appetizer gives you each week. Not the hit song, not the pop or rock or whatever radio song, but something more.

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DGrantSmith

Host of the syndicated radio program The Appetizer heard on public radio across Texas and online from our Listen Now link; enjoys conversations, music, food, art, storytelling, and people. Connect with me. Would love to hear from you.

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