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Jack Endino Newsletter 3.4, Nov 1998


Hi Y'all. Just put up a page detailing my recent adventures in Mexico City recording the band Guillotina, with some cool pictures. Check out http://www.endino.com/archive/guillotina.html for some amusement. Also FINALLY overhauled my photo album, and put up some new photos. Check it at [DELETED]...

Recently returned from MONCTON, NEW BRUNSWICK, CANADA where I mixed a new record (yet-untitled) for a band called Elevator Through, formerly Elevator to Hell, with ex-members of Eric's Trip. Some great stuff, which will be released through Sub>Pop. No pictures from this trip, sorry. Immediately upon returning I was in the studio with a new band from Vancouver, BC temporarily called Black Market Babies, also for S>P. They are in a similar vein to the Murder City Devils. It looks like they will have to change their name 'cuz someone else is using it...

TODAY'S TOPIC: Ready for "Stoner Rock"?

Recently did some recording for Nebula, a band consisting of ex-members of one of my favorite bands, Fu Manchu. The guitarist, Eddie Glass, originally played drums (quite well, in fact) in a band I recorded two albums for in the eighties, Olivelawn. Now he plays guitar equally well. Currently they are touring with Mudhoney, and from the email I've been getting, both bands are just killing people across the land. The sessions were excellent, though I'm not sure yet where the tracks will be released. I've already mentioned on my "stereo" page how much I enjoy Fu Manchu, who are musically in a somewhat similar vein. (I am greatly looking forward to Fu's show here in December with the Hellacopters...and with ex-Mono Man Dave Crider's new band "Watts" also).

Tony Presedo of Tee Pee Records, who put out the first Nebula CD, hooked me up with a copy of a record by the band Sleep entitled "Jerusalem". Now, this is a band that in previous records had been attempting to become the heaviest band in existence, something bands periodically attempt with amusing regularity. The story on "Jerusalem" is that the band delivered to their then-label an album consisting of a single 40+ minute slab of music built around one huge, thudding, monolithic riff. Of course, the label (idiots!) dropped 'em, even after review copies had been sent out, guaranteeing the record instant mythical status. (Maybe this did Sleep a favor?) Now bootlegs have appeared, of which my copy appears to be one. (There's word of an "official" release soon by another label.) Listening to it for the first time, I tried to put myself in "A+R" mode just for laffs. Noting how the drums come in at about the 3-minute mark, and the vocals at about the six-minute mark, I thought, "Gee, where's the SINGLE?" Heh...

Hold on, I'm coming to the point!

Recently got in the mail a promo copy of the new album by Queens Of The Stone Age, from Seattle's very own Loosegroove records. This band consists of Josh Homme, original guitarist for Kyuss and sometimes second-guitarist with the Screaming Trees; Alfredo Hernandez, who drummed on the final Kyuss record; and Nick Oliveri, who played bass on the first two Kyuss albums. (A situation almost exactly analogous to that of Nebula re: Fu Manchu, except that Fu Manchu still exists.) Recently saw their debut show here, which was impressive (and LOUD), and which was opened by the band Valis, featuring the Trees' Van Conner, who first told me about Fu Manchu a couple years ago. Onstage with Queens for a couple songs was John McBain, formerly of Monster Magnet and currently mastermind (with Matt Cameron) behind Seattle's Wellwater Conspiracy.

All these connections... here's where it starts to make sense.

A few months ago I got a call from a writer for GQ magazine (!). Mark from Mudhoney sent him to me, since I had once recorded a Blue Cheer album (an unsatisfactory experience, but that's another story). We had an animated conversation about obscure 70's heavy rock bands, about which I have some expertise, being one of the few people with a working memory who actually sought out much of said music during the seventies (pre-punk) when it was as underground as indy rock is today. (Fave: The Groundhogs, UK, '69-'74.) This gentleman told me he was doing an article on the new "STONER ROCK", by which he meant bands like Fu, Nebula, Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Sleep, Monster Magnet, etc. I ribbed him for doing the cliche press thing of pigeonholing a new genre under a CUTE NAME, but he was unrepentant. Guess it's his job. Now other people are using the term... witness Loosegroove in their press kit for Queens O.T.S.A., describing Josh Homme's previous band:

"...Hailing from Palm Desert, CA, Kyuss released four albums that continue to influence bands who have fallen under the categorization of 'stoner rock' (Fu Manchu, Sleep, Monster Magnet) before disbanding in 1995..."

So... behold the "birth" of a new genre.

Funny; what all these bands are, is "grunge" bands, in what was our original 1987 descriptive sense of the word, rather than the media's 1991 usage. (And no, Pearl Jam is no more a "grunge" band than Nirvana was a "punk" band... gimme a break!) One thing these bands all have in common is some degree of influence from late-sixties/early-seventies "heavy" bands, most obviously Black Sabbath and Blue Cheer, with maybe a touch of Zep. Most of them, of course, weren't born then and would probably deny it. Sleep is pretty obviously influenced by the Melvins, notably the drummer. I have heard Buzz from the Melvins deny being influenced by Black Sabbath... but at the Deep Six record release show in 1986, they played an amazing version of "Into the Void".

(An aside: Sabbath on Letterman's show? Original lineup? Did this really happen? The axes (HA!) of the universe have shifted.)

Why "stoner rock"? You'll know it when you hear it. We're talking massive, slow to mid-tempo riffs, huge guitars, long solos, antique effects pedals, and lots and lots of distortion; and no trace of 80's metal posing or formula (or overproduction). It's an earlier formula, perhaps. You might call it "proto-metal"... but I'm afraid we are all going to end up calling it "stoner rock", like it or not.

I was amused to note that at least one of the Nebula songs I just recorded appeared to be about pot. The Sleep record actually has a picture of a pot leaf nailed to a cross! Ponder the name "Queens of the Stone Age." So, OK, something's going on here, there's a little scene going, though it does not appear to be geographically localized. Rock music reinventing itself once again? "Grunge" was an idiotic media name for one brand of recycled 70's rock. "Stoner Rock" will be an idiotic media name for yet another, marginally different brand of recycled 70's rock.

What must not be forgotten here is that the best of these bands are not just rehashing; they are picking up threads that were DROPPED back then and EXTENDING them further with modern influences. They are taking up where others left off. I actually like this -- there are lots of branches of the rock tree that led nowhere in their time, and when someone comes along years later and extends these the results are often interesting. (Notwithstanding the Kraftwerk comment in my last newsletter.) Rock refuses to go away.

(This happens in other genres: witness the recent renewed popularity of '69-'70-'71 Can records among the trip-hop crowd... but from 1975 to 1990 it was like they had never existed! Then there's that Cocktail Nation stuff, and of course... Ska! And I'm sorry, but some of this electronic/trip-hop stuff is starting to sound a helluva lot like the prog-rock I listened to 20 years ago...)

"Stoner Rock": get used to it.


(P.S. Dale from the Melvins has his own band called Altamont, in which he plays guitar and sings; his wife Lori also has a band called Acid King in which she plays guitar and sings. Based on the split CD on Man's Ruin which I am hearing as I write this, neither sounds like the Melvins, but both could be classified with the bands mentioned above... good stuff, by the way.)


SUPER ELECTRO -- http://www.superelectro.com/ Steve Turner's label
An Excellent Site full of NW Band Links -- http://www.toledotel.com/~pezboy/attic/nwbands.html

(P.P.S. As an afterthought, there's something Mr. Endino needs to get off his chest. Maybe some of you will agree with this. What's with the sudden deluge of HTML email? A lousy 2-sentence "hello" comes with an additional file tacked onto it with the exact same 2 sentences embedded in 20 lines of clumsy, machine-generated HTML code. Wonder which two brilliant software companies had this IDIOTIC, NETWORK-CLOGGING IDEA? It increases the size of your email enormously, further slowing the Net, and many of us recieve a bonus screen full of gibberish. Please go into your COMMUNICATOR or OUTLOOK EXPRESS and check to see that this option is turned off; I believe one or both of these programs default to "HTML Mail ON" when installed. Email should be FAST, SMALL and EASY. There's nothing you need to do with email that can't be formatted with SPACE, CR and LF characters. That means ASCII. That means 7 bits. That means please don't clog the net (and my email box) with such useless crap!

Ahhh. Thanx, I feel much better now. Phew! Till next time... --JE)

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