Tuesday, April 14, 2009

100 Watt Clock

My friend Matt Owens put out this record many years ago. He has been a good friend to me over the years, and I doubt that I will ever be able to repay him for all the kindness he showed me when I was young and struggling. After the record store I worked at, Midnight Records (an excellent store if you enjoy obscure garage or psych records from the 60s and 70s), was raided by the feds for selling bootleg CDs (I watched my boss get escorted out in handcuffs, was questioned for nearly 5 hours by NYPD, the Postal Police, and even a lawyer from the RIAA -- all over some Allman Brothers recordings) I found myself out of work. I was having a hard time finding gainful employment, so Matt hired me to scan all the artwork for a book he was putting out by Brian Walsby. He also hired me to sit at the gallery he is involved with in Williamsburg, The Riviera.

I have to say that I cannot thank him enough. If I was having a hard time making ends meet he would take me out for lunch. When I was having a hard time paying rent he hired me to do something for him. When I was a young man he even told me that he expected me to have the means to fly him somewhere just for the hell of it by the time I was 27. I may have missed that mark, but I hope someday to be that much of a big shot (at least once for him anyway).

I first met Matt on 12/31/99, not a bad date to meet someone on. We were at a party on the roof of his cousin Katie's apartment right on Bedford and North 7th, although Williamsburg was definitely a very different place back then. I used to get yelled at on the street by Puerto Ricans just about everyday -- I got so used to it that one evening I was walking down the street with Matt and didn't even hear someone yell something at me related to Austin Powers and how I (very vaguely at best) resembled him.

I made sort of a strange impression at that party. I brought my friend Jonathan (now of The Cloud Room), who immediately started talking to the only two young available women in the room. Somehow at ten minutes to midnight the four of us were making out (we all took turns kissing each other, even the boys), which didn't really make us too many friends that night.

After that I made out with my good friend Kelli Williams, who brought me to the party in the first place and introduced me to Matt. They had met at Epicenter previously and Kelli even brought him to see The VSS at Gilman. She was filming that night for a documentary so some months later we awkwardly watched the footage together. Fortunately we had been good friends for such a long time that it became more of a funny story than an embarrassing one.

Then we went over to Knitting Factory to see Mike Simonetti play records (I very nearly talked Katie into joining us, and even though I had her discussing the idea with me on the street she very wisely declined). We closed that place down that night too. He used to have a weekly night in the basement there that pretty much everyone I knew went to every single week and it ruled.

When I first started hanging out with Matt I discovered that he was actually a pretty famous guy with certain people. I appeared on his website for one of his "Seasons" (Spring Hygeine, along with my friend Melissa Ip) and my picture ended up in cool magazines from all over the world.

Matt used to run a record label with his brother Mark called The Buddy System. The most notorious record they released was by 100 Watt Clock, and here is its tale:

"I lived in Austin, TX from 1989 to the summer if 1993. During that time, my brother Mark and I started a small record label called The Buddy System, putting out local punk bands from San Antonio and Austin. We befriended an amazing crew of kids from the small town of Copperas Cover about an hour from Austin. Nobel from Minority/Brick is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. We used to go see shows at this teen club called Little Vegas in Cove and eventually a bunch of the kids moved to Austin.

Mike Gerner and Chris Hodge were two of the standouts from Copperas Cover and went on to start the band Carbomb in 1994-95. Chris was in the legendary band Kids Meal that recorded a full length to be put out on Little Deputy records that I believe never came out. We put out the first Carbomb 7" which is one of my favorite records. Carbomb had a Nation of Ulysses feel and the four track recordings really captured their live energy.

After Carbomb Chris and Mike started the short lived band 100 Watt Clock. The 100 Watt Clock record is commonly referred to as the 'lost' Fugazi record or as I like to refer to it - Faux-gazi. The record was recorded in 1996 by Alap Momin of Dalek at Sweetwood Studios. On the record Chris takes on 'Ian' duties while Mike functions in the 'Guy' role. I really love this record because it captures a very specific time where both Mike and Chris were still experimenting and interpreting different musical genres.

The artwork the 100 Watt Clock we a very special case as well. Mike's friend Roberto did the design and art direction for it. The cover is black on black with a subtle UV of a circuit board and used the 'computer font' for the song titles. The inside lyric sheet integrates the actual lyrics into the circuit board format making the lyrics very hard to read. This was the first time that a band we put out had a very specific vision of the record's look. The end product looks very mysterious I think and in some ways is a contrast to the music.

After the 100 Watt Clock record was released the band broke up shortly after. Needless to say we sat on many copies of this record. The remaining unsold copies found their way to a landfill in New Haven sometime in the early 2000's. Mike and Chris went on to team up one more time with the band Tune In Tokyo. We put out a posthumous full length for them which was far more rock oriented. Mike and Chris remain two of my favorite musicians I have ever met and I have been inspired by both of them.

Chris went on to form the rock outfit Young Heart Attack in Austin. Young Heartattack had a stint on XL Recordings and toured with Motorhead. They still have a very  nice following in England. Mike went on to form the band Vietnam and put out records on Vice and Kemado records. Mike has recently moved to Los Angeles and is doing the ambient eno-esque Dallas Acid.

I was chatting with BJ and we felt that the 100 Clock record would be a great release for Pukekos. Over the years random people have always asked if the 100 Watt Clock was ever put on CD or digitized. Here is it for all to enjoy."

Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, 100 Watt Clock.

100 Watt Clock (Buddy System)
1. Capricorn Vs Cancer
2. Pock Mark Out
3. Under The Skin
4. Red Is Red
5. For Your Eyes
6. Glue 2
7. Poumon Conclusion
8. Coloured Slides

L to R: Matt Owens, BJ Rubin. The Last Show; Princeton, 2000. Photo by Alex Klein.


Unknown said...

BJ! excellent post. i've tried to find this on the internet for a long time - unsuccesfully until now.
i think that you like a funny combination of bands. most of my friends either like the jumpy experimental bands OR like the rock bands.
and i like them both too. if you have a chance to put up gluecifer's just what the doctor ordered - that'd be excellent.

cheers - theun_k

Tim D. said...

I would love to get my hands on the Kid's Meal LP or their split with Gomez. Or does anyone have the Carbomb 7" that is not on the Discography? I believe it is called You Heart Attack. Digital downloads of any of this would be awesome! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

i think we all know that the most famous release on buddy system was the action patrol 7"... i mean... dogs know this bj. sayin.

ps... hey bro!

purevol said...


You should be able to find every old punk band from the early mid 90s on that website.