Friday, August 28, 2009


"It feels like I've been dwelling on a very small window of time in Pennsylvania on Pukekos, but I certainly hope many of you appreciate these gems I'm uncovering for you. And with T4? Well, it's no exception. T4 was a short-lived band from State College, Penna that featured members of Slag and went on to put out one single on Pop Bus (run by Manny Theiner) and dissolve by 1993.

The only reason I even know of T4 is the fact that I saw them open up for Bikini Kill in York, Penna at a frat bar on a Sunday afternoon before either of them even had a record out. And man, both were good, but T4 were white hot. I've been friendly with T4 bassist George Draguns since that meeting back in '91 and so when I contacted him about doing a small Q&A about his dark, sordid past, he was happy to oblige.

So when did T4 form? How did you all meet? Who was in the band?

I think the band formed around late 1991 or 1992.  Len, Darren and myself had played together in a band called SLAG in the late 80’s, and Travis and I were playing together in a band at the time T4 started that was mediocre at best.

Practices started with me and Travis driving four hours on the weekends to the Mon valley in Western PA to play with Len and Darren. The band later relocated everyone to State College, PA.

The band line up was:

George Draguns-bass
Travis Etling-guitar
Len Jarabeck-guitar
Darren Zentek-drums

So am I to take it you only released one single on Manny Theiner's Pop Bus label? Please do tell how you met up with the Jew That Believes He Controls Pittsburgh.

That’s right, just one 7” on Pop Bus.  Len did all the legwork for getting on Manny’s label.  Both Darren and Len lived close to Pittsburgh, so they had more interactions with Manny, just because he was the only one putting on decent shows in the post Electric Banana era of Pgh.  The Banana still did shows, but they had such a bad reputation that no one wanted to play there.  It seems Manny carried on the tradition of making sure bands are unhappy with playing Pittsburgh.  I never understood the low ceiling of expectation that seems to be the norm in the Steel City.  I also never understood why people had to slow down to 30 mph to go through the Squirrel Hill tunnel, so what do I know?

Manny was definitely not the dude you wanted to grab a drink with.

I was lucky enough to see T4 in York, PA at a frat bar on a Sunday open up for (and destroy) Bikini Kill. How much did ya'll play out of State College? Any bands you open up for worth mentioning?

We played State College probably 6-7 times as well as Pittsburgh and points west.  State College had some really great bands in the 80’s.  Wasted Talent was one of the earliest punk bands that were awesome.  The other most important band in my humble opinion was Pagan Rite.  The first time I saw them, I knew I had to practice up to keep up to the standard they had set locally.  They had a collective talent that was on par with the Bad Brains-fast, tight and precise.  By the 90’s, the bands in State College that we always ended up playing with were either somewhat “funky” or had the pervasive grown up DC influence, not the good VOID kind, but the corny FUGAZI kind.  It seemed like the good elements of post American Hardcore were purged to make way for a lighter, more sincere and sanctimonious era of mediocrity.  That’s not to say that T4 doesn’t sound dated and corny as well, but we wanted to get the gnarliest sound we could get and create a wall of sound.  That was our agenda.

I didn't find a copy of the T4 single for at least ten years after it came out. Do you know how many were pressed?

I don’t know how many singles were pressed.  I think 1000.  Manny probably still has them.

Did T4 record much besides the 2 sides to the Pop Bus single?

I’m trying to recover a very rough demo on cassette and digitize it.  The mix is HORRIBLE.  It was recorded at Carnegie Mellon’s radio station before the 7” sessions.

How did T4 break up? Was it a 'we're out of college now, and we should move on' thing, or a 'I fucked your girlfriend, and we can't jam together any more' thing?

Well, the break up of T4 was done in a very petty and cowardly way.  What happened was that Len and I had a tenuous past and our personalities were very different.  Len didn’t really have friends he had followers and sidekicks.  Basically, everyone was sick of the “my way or the highway” sort of vibe.  Darren did the dirty work of booting him out of the band while I cowardly hung out at my girlfriend’s house.  The 3 remaining members played together as a 3 piece named DONORA.  That soon dissolved when Travis just got sick of playing and around the time things started falling apart, I got the call to join Don Caballero.

Do you keep up with your former band mates? Do you know what they're up to musically or otherwise?

I kind of lost touch with all of the band members.  Darren and I are still close and stay in contact, albeit sporadically.  No hard feelings there.  Travis I think lives in Nebraska tending his family’s land, although I’m not sure of that.

Len and myself are like the mongoose and the cobra (a very Danzig-like analogy) I haven’t heard anything about him in about 12 years.  We left on pretty bad terms.  It’s all water under the bridge now, as far as I’m concerned.

I think Darren is playing with a few different people now, and I play in a 2 pc outfit called FLYING SUTRA."

-- Henry Owings & George Draguns

Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, T4.

Red Ocher b/w Pretty Mouth (Pop Bus)

1. Red Ocher
2. Pretty Mouth

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Amps for Christ

"Amps For Christ - 'Empire'  was originally to be released on The Smell comp of 2004 that never materialized.  It conveys the post 9-11, Bush re-election apocalyptic mood. Oddly, iTunes imported it as 'Transcendental Moods' by Strictly Taboo.  voc- Tara Tavi,  guits- Henry Barnes and Erika Anderson, oscillators- Henry Barnes"

Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, Amps for Christ.

Empire (Pukekos)

1. Empire

Friday, August 21, 2009

The No-Gos

"So this story is a little long and spans some time before Black Eyes and No-Gos but it unites several themes of unknown, misunderstood, or later-revealed identity in the context of those bands. Ooooh...mystery...

So a long time before any of these bands came to be, I was a 15 year old punk rock kid with a floppy mohawk that could have been one of a number of colors at any given time. I also had a slightly goth-y thing going on so I was probably wearing black eyeliner and nail polish. This would have been summer of 1993, and the Fort Reno concert season was in full swing. I had gone to see god-knows-who at Fort Reno (Slant 6? Cupid Car Club? The Ignobles? I don't remember) and was walking home (my folks live about a mile from the park) when a car full of skinheads drove up, pulled up to the curb and yelled 'Hey, Faggot!' at me. Surprising myself, I just stood there and yelled 'Yeah, what?' Obviously the advent of Riot Grrrl and Queercore had done wonders for my self-confidence. The somewhat puzzled looking skinheads drove away. I ran like fuck the last blocks home as soon as they were out of sight and it took some time for me to calm down enough to sleep.

What does this have to do with No-Gos (or Black Eyes) you ask? Wait and see...

A couple years later I went to a show in Alexandria. It was in a church. It was a Positive Force-organized benefit for a battered women's shelter and I'm forgetting someone but the bands were Bubble Jug (oh god please someone reading this have a clean copy of their cassette and send it to me!), Plunger (Tom LoMacchio's old band), and Anasarca (Nick P. of Planaria records fame's old band). There were a handful of skinheads there, some of whom looked awfully familiar to me. My friend Saran and I walked in and immediately felt like maybe being a funny-dressing (I had by now taken to wearing a corduroy jacket with leather arm patches and a very long knit ski hat with stripes) punk homo and a slightly built black woman wasn't the best bet at this show. Long story short, the skinheads start a pit that ends up flinging some women into a wall and I was pissed off enough to sit on the floor in the middle of it. Prudence is not a quality I will display at any point during this story. Predictably some skinheads threw their friends on top of me. Also predictably they hawked a couple loogies on my back (I discovered this when I looked at my jacket the next day), and took my hat. Eventually, after some negotiation with their leader (him: 'are you going to move?' me: 'no.' him: 'do you want me to smack you?' me: 'no.') all but one of the skinheads were kicking by back and head. It could have been worse. Luckily the band (Plunger? Anasarca?) stopped playing and the crowd in front of me turned around. I was seeing little birdies and stars whirling around my head but I also saw a really rad woman who I recognized from some other shows walk over and confront the guys who were kicking me. She backed them off and when one of them punched her in the face she held her ground and suggested that they 'learn some respect for women.' I don't remember too much of what happened next except that some folks backed them out of the show and they punched a couple people on the way out. Then weirdly, one of my friends at school started dating one of them, named Bobby. To his credit, he's the one who didn't fuck with me at the show so I had no beef with him. Later in college a friend from Alexandria told me he was in jail for robbing a convenience store."

-- Hugh McElroy

Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, The No-Gos.

The No-Gos CS (Self)
1. Needle Drop
2. Radio
3. Death Of Heart
4. Stars, All The Planets

The No-Gos/Aerialist (Ruffian)
1. Misery=Glamor
2. Nu/Rok

Young Ironists (Ruffian)
1. Young Ironists
2. Young Ironists (Version)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Puttin' on the Ritz

"Two missionaries on a conquest adventure sans outerspace, real-time vagabonds and heart munchers aka suburban vampires at heart, open sewage system water wars and high heeled market shares. Count Dracula. Abe Lincoln. Giraffes and dinosaurs of low morale. These physiological demons in the closet, the synaptic happenstance of caloric reduction (like white snow during the summer holidays, that white wash soot of radio debris) bring us and our heroes to present time into a time-machine of known priorities as problematic peripheries perpetuate pornographic pumice pummeling pedestrian pacemaker pathways while preset Pacific Islanders pacify pack animals packaging padded cells with paddle fishes, paddy fields, paddy melons, paddy wagons, Paddington Bear, and Paganini for the dutiful means and privileged epoch of pagan cultural producers reducible by context, concept, and Cone Head into a simple practice of constant commemorative crisis. No wonder monkey-geeks freak-speak in the leaked ever-creeking/squeaking newspeak while sneaking a peek at distinctively formal/lofty peaks of assumption (those veritable Funyuns). The tendency and effect of content analysis in modern empirical social character implies no great movement of unbridled magical innovation, inspiration, realization, or optimization, nor the participation on a nation planet of gratuitous, histrionic imagination (unicorn-laden seminally developing psycho patients in extension inform produced alternative corporation stations...i.e. congratulations). From the standpoint of some distant alien organized proportion control of societal knowledge, there can be no autonomous human paradoxical proverbs without your contingent vicissitudinous bourgeois entrapments and narcissism. No worries...these recordings serve to exorcise a few legions of demons from well-meaning liegmans (i.e. Puttin' On The Ritz)."

-- Kevin "le" Shea

Gigantic recorded by Keith Parker at The Gallery Studio 4/26
BJ Rubin - vocals
Kevin Shea - drums
Moppa Elliott - upright bass
Peter Evans - trumpet
Jon Irabagon - saxophone
Weasel Walter - keyboard

4'33" recorded by Josh Bonati at Monster Island 8/16
BJ Rubin - vocals
Kevin Shea - vocals

Brooklyn, NY 2009

Artwork by Travis Millard

Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, Puttin' on the Ritz.

Gigantic b/w 4'33" (Pukekos)

1. Gigantic
2. 4'33"
3. Gigantic (kazaamBLAM MEGA BLAST RAVE MIX)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Robedoor + Pocahaunted

I am interested in auteurs, and I am interested in collaborators. I first saw Britt and Amanda play at Cakeshop last year, who run the excellent Not Not Fun label and appear to be both. Britt had this to say about his work:

"I was trying to think of what you (or anyone) might want to hear about in response to the prompt 'tell me more about what you do,' and since I don’t really think there’s a right/wrong answer to something like that (though maybe there is?) I guess what came to mind as a sort of archetypal/peak moment in NNF’s minor history was me & Amanda’s wedding. It was April 8th, 2006. We had been dating for like 3 years, and running the label for 2, when the decision was semi-mutually made: 'fuck it, let’s get married.' Up till that point I don’t think either of us realized quite how deeply the label had saturated into the fabric of our lives, because almost immediately both of us were like 'and let’s have bands play! And invite everyone! And give away tapes! And do a wedding compilation!' etc. We didn’t really care what color dress the bridesmaids should wear or how many vegan cakes to get, we just wanted it to be a loud, crazy, colorful, joyous celebration, and for us that means music and all of our extended NNF friends & family.

I didn’t think of it as being odd at the time, it felt like the most natural thing in the world, like it was exactly how such an important day/night should be treated. So we had it at this art gallery and Mika Miko and Abe Vigoda played, and our friends Rainbow Blanket ripped this insanely unhinged 2 minute thrash-noise set, and Dean from No Age deejayed Toto and Black Flag, and Alex from Robedoor catered all this vegan food, and Bobb Bruno brought his 8-track and recorded all the sets (we ended up burning CDRs of it and even gave it an NNF catalog number!! Haha..), and a girl puked on the wall, and Zooey Deschanel wandered in off the street for no reason at like one in the morning, and all our friends were there: Bethany (who later started Pocahaunted w/Amanda), Luis Naranjo, Jim from The Smell, Brian from Deathbomb Arc, Roy/Changeling, Grace from Foot Village, random kids who we only knew from shows, friends of friends, total strangers. It was a mess. It was beautiful.

Days later me and Amanda were still in the afterglow and we were in awe of how real and meaningful our journey with the label had grown. A project can start off as a whimsical art hobby and slowly metamorphosize into something that penetrates down to the core of yr life. It’s kind of amazing."

Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, Robedoor + Pocahaunted.

Mouth of Prayer (Blackest Rainbow)
1. Mouth Of Prayer
2. Bright Sea Of Singing Bowls

Hunted Gathering (Digitalis)
1. Hunted Gathering

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Black Eyes

"Summer of 2002 Black Eyes had just come off our first 2 week tour with Early Humans (who had just played their last show ever). Early Humans was a band that formed from the remaining guys in Exaspirin after that band had split up and Mike had asked me to join No-Gos with Dan and Jacob. Through No-Gos and then Black Eyes I ended up hanging out with a lot of people who were around the punk scene in the mid 90s who I hadn't known particularly well. A lot of them were college buddies of Dan and Jacob. Some of them were at the show where I got beaten up. We were all hanging around the house where Dan lived during a summer thunderstorm. I think it was the 4th of July. Somehow the story of the show came up. Someone mentioned Amy (the woman who had saved my ass and who I'd never seen again). And I said that I'd always wondered what happened to her. 'YOU DON'T KNOW?!' was the incredulous response I got. 'No, what happened to her?' 'Do you watch WWF?' (this was before it became WWE, I think). 'Um, no.' 'She's Lita on WWF!'  I didn't for sure believe this (I had seen her wrestle on TV when No-Gos played Boston in 2000, though I didn't recognize her, obviously). However Black Eyes played Richmond some time not long after that and I saw a poster of her on the wall, and sure enough it was Amy.

Around the same time I had reconnected with a friend who had been seeing another friend of mine. We were talking on the phone and she told me that things had ended badly between them but she was seeing someone new. I asked who and she said it was no one I knew. When pressed she said 'He's kind of a thug...' I asked his name and she said 'Bobby.' 'Bobby [his last name]?' I asked. It turned out that the dude she was seeing was the same guy who had been with the skinheads who fucked me up in 1995.

Not too long after that, Black Eyes went up to NY to play a loft party. The poster for the show featured a naked warrior woman both astride and apparently fighting a giant penis/dragon creature. This was odd, but whatever. I had forgotten a lot of this but remembered it when BJ said he'd seen us play that show when he asked me for some stuff for this blog. This led me to reminiscing via gchat with BJ about the show and this brought about the last in this series of No-Gos and Black Eyes-connected revelations of identity. For the sake of accuracy I'll reprint it verbatim:

BJ: i'm glad people are stoked about it
6:08 PM i'd never even heard of the band
  until i got that email
  when he said black eyes people were in it
  i figured i might be able to track something down
  rachel was talking about how much she liked black eyes
  i only ever saw you play at happy birthday hideout
  or actually
6:09 PM there was once at north 6th too
 me: whoah. that happy birthday hideout show was weird.
  there was some band from texas there that had a baggie of coke with a straw stuck in it when i walked backstage looking for my hoodie
6:10 PM I can't remember who else, maybe one of the Measles Mumps Rubella guys had a similar experience and wryly remarked "i guess doing lines is for pussies"
 BJ: which band was it?
6:11 PM i can't remember
  although i do recall the attending the show
  and doing lines is for pussies
  which is why i've never done one
 me: oh god. I can't remember their name. But somewhere I must have the poster with the naked warrior woman astride the penis dragon with the sword. that would have the band name on it...
6:12 PM BJ: i bet it does
  and that would be a nice addition to the post
  because i will be able to talk about being at that show
  more personal
  i just got this too:
  "Tell Hugh 'Hi!' from me and Bernard and Ricki."
6:13 PM me: nice! say hi back for me
  alas i don't think I really have the poster
  there were shirts of that poster too
6:14 PM someone may have swiped it from my warehouse space while i was on tour if i had one or the other
  along with my pop group records...
  and my metamatics LP
 BJ: shit
  i have those records
  check this
 me: I've seen that
  i knew sound was in it
 BJ: jay reatard
6:15 PM was the one doing coke i bet
  and being an asshole
 me: oh he was in that?
 BJ: yup
  that was his band
  so it all makes sense now
 me: hahahahahaha!
 BJ: and is a much cooler story
 me: my boyfriend is gonna crack up
  when he hears that
 BJ: i'm cracking up about it now myself
 me: yep
 BJ: i like that you are still shit talking that dude
  7 years later
6:16 PM and you didn't even know he was a famous person
 me: yep
  i've been shit talking Jay Reatard without the added advantage of saying it's Jay Reatard I'm talking about
6:17 PM now I have to find everyone I ever told that story to and update it.
 BJ: yup
  that rules
  you can just tell that story for my blog now
  and link to it so everyone will know!

So that's how Pukekos unearthed all my memories about the secret identities of wrestlers and skinheads and Jay Reatard with a baggie of coke with a straw stuck in it.

On an unrelated note about Black Eyes: Jacob had a really big beard for a lot of the band's existence. People would yell things like 'Santa Claus!' and 'Osama Bin Laden!' at him on the street. In Miami someone asked if it was true that the singer from Lungfish was in our band. Also in Miami (and a couple of other places) people asked him 'Can I get a photo with your beard?' (not with Jacob, with his beard). People used to touch it all the time also. It was a very good beard. I think we threw it a birthday party when it was a year old.

Jacob and maybe his beard play in Mi Ami with Daniel.

Dan plays in Authorization here in DC.

Mike lives in Austin. I dunno what he's up to musically but he contributed the salt-flats photo here.

I'm in a new band called Cephalopods, currently with Wells (of Early Humans) on drums and Fiona (of Et At It, Horses, and some rad bands in the 90s including Meltdown) on guitar. We should be playing shows starting this fall.

I can be reached at Also we're putting some old and unreleased stuff on our site as free downloads.

Thanks BJ."

-- Hugh

Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, Black Eyes.

Some Boys b/w Shut Up I Never (Release The Bats)
1. Some Boys
2. Shut Up I Never

Black Eyes/Early Humans (Planaria)
1. Have Been Murdered Again

"I fucking love Black Eyes" - Rachel, Aged 24