Saturday, July 29, 2017

Tom Waits: Frank's Wild Years Trilogy & Shows # 666, 667, 668


I first discovered the album Rain Dogs by Tom Waits in a record store, amongst a pile of other records. I decided to pick up this record for several reasons, I heard that Keith Richards played on it and one of the songs was featured in the 1986 Jim Jarmusch film Down By Law, which Waits also starred in. Upon listening to the record, I soon learned that it was part of a trilogy from Tom Waits that is often referred to as The Frank’s Wild Years Trilogy, or the Island Trilogy (since the albums were released on Island Records). A “rain dog” is believed to be a stray dog that wanders around because it cannot find its way home, the rain has washed away the scent. This is a fitting description of many of the characters found not only in this trilogy, but to characters found in the songs of Tom Waits

In 1982 Waits released the soundtrack to the Francis Ford Coppola film, One From The Heart. Despite being an Oscar nominated soundtrack, the album Swordfishtrombones, which was produced in the same year and was to follow the One From The Heart soundtrack, was deemed not so great by his then record company Elektra-Asylum. The label thought that this would cause Waits to lose fans and not respond well with new audiences. He was dropped from the label. Island picked up the album and released it in 1983. It should also be noted that in 1980, Waits started moving towards a new sound with his album Heartattack and Vine, but it was nothing compared to the level of experimentation on Swordfishtrombones. This album marked a shift in Waits songwriting approach and sound. Swordfishtrombones featured unusual instrumentation and a more abstract approach to songwriting, as opposed to the style Waits had been known for in the 70s, which was a more piano/jazz crooner and string orchestra based style. The songs delve into a dirty blues style with odd instrumentation and features poetry segments. There is also an undeniable Captain Beefheart influence found here. This album not only marked a new style for Waits, but it was also the first album that Waits produced himself. Throughout the album’s tracks we find a world of seedy characters that drift amongst themes of being homesick, deteriorating hometowns and fading into obscurity and myth in some form or another. It is also important to note the influence of Waits wife Kathleen Brennan during this time and even more so in his later songwriting. They would often collaborate with one another, even during this trilogy.

“Underground” starts off Swordfishtrombones with a sideshow growl and is symbolic in terms of the characters that would be brought forth on this album. Musically, it also showcases a change in direction. We are introduced to Frank, a character that shows up within this album and the two the follow it. The song talks of a world going on beneath the surface. It is symbolic for the journey that Frank the sailor will take and the listener. “Shore Leave” is a bizarre, yet vivid blues inspired song laying down another blueprint for the world that Frank has found himself in. Along with “Johnsburg, Illinois”, we find a character lamenting in homesick territory. “16 Shells From a Thirty-Ought Six”, is now perhaps one of the best-known songs in Waits catalogue. It drifts with a steamship-like off kilter blues groove, as Waits growls with an undeniable confidence. The lyrics tell the tale of a man determined to kill a crow, but instead he captures it and tortures it instead for his own amusement “Town With No Cheer” and “In The Neighborhood” display a more morose vibe of a character who has vanished. In these songs we find that there are only myths and rumours of who this wild character was and where he has gone. Musically, “Town With No Cheer” features bagpipes, harmonium and a creepy eeriness to it, while “In The Neighborhood” has a marching band feel. “Frank’s Wild Years” is a humorous spoken word segment. With lyrics portraying Frank “Hanging up his wild years”, but then he burns down his house and “Torched it/Parked across the street/Laughing” before he gets on the Hollywood Freeway and heads north. The title track “Swordfishtrombones”, further tells the myth of Frank, who “Came home from the war with a party in his head” and brings forth strong imagery as the tale of Frank, unpacks itself even further.

Rain Dogs was released in 1985. A loose concept of the “urban dispossessed” finds its way through the songs found on this release. The album features a broad range of musical styles from pre-50’s rock sounds (Brecht often appears in reviews of this album) to blues and even New Orleans funeral brass, combined to make its own unique sound. Rain Dogs also features a variety of instruments such as marimba, accordion, trombone, pump organ, double bass and banjo to help achieve its plethora of sounds. In addition to this, Keith Richards appears on some tracks, Marc Ribot and even Robert Quine (of Richard Hell & The Voidoids), among other musicians. “Singapore” has been described as a grim nightlife memoir, with its off-kilter sounds and lyrics taking the listener into a dangerous world of being a sailor. “Clap Hands” displays a sense of delusion and melancholy amongst its electric guitar, and cold marimba rattles. “Cemetery Polka” features a humorous/fascinating collection of bizarre aging relatives along with the songs polka syncopation. “Jockey Full of Bourbon” is notable for Waits smooth vocals, exotica conga rhythms and steamy, Cuban music inspired guitar lines provided by Marc Ribot. This mood-setting piece appears in the opening of the 1986 film Down By Law. With its vivid film noir dynamics, the lyrics portray a troubled crime induced world and features lyrics such as “Hey little bird fly away from home/Your house is on fire/Your children are alone” which represent a desire to escape, to do nothing, fear and the unknown. The gritty blues of “Big Black Mariah” features Keith Richards undeniable slithery grooves amongst Waits growling Howlin’ Wolf inspired vocal as lyrics tell a tale of a police chase by a “Big Black Mariah” which is actually the name used for an old fashioned police car.

“Hang Down Your Head” is a melodic track that has drawn comparisons to Tom Waits earlier work, while “Time” echoes street corner philosophies (as stated on Tom Waits website), “9th & Hennepin” was inspired by actual events in Minneapolis. Apparently Waits was in an all-night donut shop and found himself stuck in-between a pimp war that involved ammunition fire, this is alluded to in the lyrics to this track that is intense in its instrumentation. “Gun Street Girl” is a rustic folk/blues number relating to small time hustlers, as “Blind Love” features guitar work by guitarist Robert Quine, along with “Downtown Train”. This song is perhaps mentioned the most when referring to this album. It has been covered by many artists, including Rod Stewart, who made it a top ten hit in 1989. “Anywhere I Lay My Head” ends Rain Dogs drawing on the New Orleans funeral jazz influence mentioned earlier. With lyrics such as “The wind is blowing cold”, “I don’t need nobody/Because I learned to be alone”, and “Anywhere I lay my head is home”, Waits evokes a certain melancholic, drunken, epiphany-like atmosphere.

1987’s Frank’s Wild Years is the third album found in this trilogy. The songs featured in this set tell a rags-to-rags story. The songs found here are based on a stage play that Waits and wife Kathleen Brennan wrote of the same name. Several of the songs from that play were rearranged and put on this album. The tale subtitled Un Operachi Romantico in Two Acts, follows Frank on a hazy, ill-fated Orphic journey as musically, Waits gets even more adventurous. The music and themes emphasized here are more theatrical, building on the atmospheric soundscapes that started on 1985’s Rain Dogs. “Hang On St. Christopher” starts off the album with its locomotive like bassline, traffic sounding brass instruments and watery guitar sounds. It paints a picture of a mythic landscape surrounding the automobile and the wild ride that is about to occur. “Straight To The Top” appears in two versions here, first as rhumba, then later subtitled Vegas. Both juxtapose Frank’s journey towards fame in two similar and different ways.

"Temptation”, one of the standout tracks on this album, tells the tell about a character that is surrounded by dizzying temptations and intoxicating imagery before a downward spiral leaves him humbled. Musically, the song is a skewed rhumba of sorts with touches of the blues, as Waits sings in a gruff falsetto throughout this engaging track. “I’ll Be Gone” is a frenetic accordion driven ballad, “Telephone Call From Istanbul” features booming percussion, arpegiated guitars and a smoky, gravely vocal from Waits as he tells us to “Never trust a man in a blue trench coat/Never drive a car when you’re dead” in this tale of the showbiz world, “Cold Cold Ground” is an acoustic based ballad featuring a hazy vocal. In an interview from 1987 with Rip Rense of the New York Post, Waits stated that this song is “Just kind of a hardening back to his earlier times; a romantic song thinking about home, and all that.” “Train Song” is a nostalgic trip with a musical piano/accordion accompaniment, as “Innocent While You Dream (78)” ends the album. This song, is repeated in a different musical form, as was “Straight To The Top”, found earlier on this album. This song with an old timey arrangement repeats a moral that the character Frank learned earlier on this album, but it is one that doesn’t come to realization until the end of this album.

In addition to these three albums, Big Time was a soundtrack released in 1988 that accompanied a film of the same name. This film features performances of songs from this trilogy as well as older songs in Waits catalogue. It is not generally considered as part of the trilogy, but definitely connects with it on some level. Overall, the Frank’s Wild Years Trilogy is a journey on different levels. If Swordfishtrombones found Waits branching out into new experimentations musically, Rain Dogs was where Waits found his voice. Frank’s Wild Years the album shows Waits at top creative form and even more so adventurous. This trilogy of albums revitalized Waits’ career. It has been called a junkyard trilogy, but each album stands on its own and is effective whether separate or together, as part of this trilogy. In a trilogy of self-discovery, it is interesting that the album Rain Dogs wanders around record shops and finds people. Within a pile of records, you never know what will find you. But, the unique atmosphere and mood created within this trilogy is something that hovers over listeners that find themselves in this world that was created by Waits in the 80s. Like Frank, it is a mood that is unpredictable and finds us and leaves a lasting impression in more ways than one.


Show 668 (Frank's Wild Years Part II) (Originally Aired On July 29th, 2017):

1. Tom Waits - Hang On St. Christopher
2. Tom Waits - Temptation
3. Stompin' Tom Connors - Sudbury Saturday Night
4. Stompin' Tom Connors - Luke's Guitar
5. Harry Nilsson - Let The Good Times Roll
6. The Kinks - This Time Tomorrow
7. Thee Grinch - Each Side
8. Dusty Mush - Couch Potato
9. The 14th Wray - Your Face Is In My Mind
10. Times New Viking - Faces On Fire
11. Titus Andronicus - Titus Andronicus Forever
12. The Courtneys - Frankie
13. Broken Social Scene - Vanity Pail Kids
14. The Scenics - I Killed Marx
15. The Diodes - Play With Fire (Live)
16. Tom Waits - Straight To The Top (Rhumba)
17. Tom Waits - Telephone Call From Istanbul (Big Time Version)
18. Tom Waits - Way Down In The Hole (Big Time Version)
19. The Replacements (With Tom Waits) - Date To Church
20. Paul Westerberg (With Tommy Stinson & Tom Waits) - Low Down Monkey Blues
21. Paul Westerberg - Dead Sick Of
22. Prehistoric Cave Strokers - Sold Out (Live At The Coach n' Horses 1991)
23. The Ronald Regan Story - (Your Love Has Turned My Heart Into A) Hand Grenade
24. Revo - Uncontrollable Urge
25. Ancient Shapes - I Wanna Put My Tears Back In
26. The 427's - The Score
27. Tom Waits - Falling Down

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for July 29.


Show 667 (Frank's Wild Years: Part I) (Originally Aired On July 22nd, 2017):

1. Tom Waits - Underground
2. Tom Waits - 16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought Six
3. Tymon Dogg - Low Down Dirty Weakness
4. The Cramps - Can't Hardly Stand It
5. Catl. - 5 Miles
6. Elvis Costello - I'm Not Angry
7. Elvis Costello - No Action (Demo)
8. Elvis Costello - Mystery Dance (Honky Tonk Demo)
9. Mise En Scene - Closer
10. No Aloha - Work Shirt
11. The Psychic Alliance - No Fixed Address
12. Port Juvee - Mania
13. Tom Waits - Frank's Wild Years
14. Tom Waits - Cemetery Polka
15. Tom Waits - Jockey Full of Bourbon
16. Mogwai - Punk Rock
17. Secret Bad Boy - Chicken
18. Carbonas - Lost Cause
19. Shocked Minds - You Want Me To Stay
20. Durango 95 - Forget About Me
21. Tandoori Knights - Dress On
22. Light Bulb Alley - Cut Me Loose
23. Betrayers - Spit Hood
24. The Fall - Craigness
25. Howlin' Wolf - Mister Airplane Man
26. Tom Waits - Big Black Mariah
27. Tom Waits - Rain Dogs

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for July 22.


Show 666 (An almost all horror themed episode) (Originally Aired On July 15th, 2017):

1. The Mummies - The House On The Hill
2. The Sadies - Friendly Devil
3. Pow Wows - Shock Corridor
4. Suspicions - Nocturne
5. No Museums - This Western
6. Comet Gain - Ripped Up Suit!
7. Dusty Mush - I Ate Your Dog
8. The Stones - At The Café
9. Damaged Bug - Mood Slime
10. Ty Segall - Black Magick
11. The Belle Isles - Detroit Sound
12. Cat Wranguleur - Little Witch
13. Cub - My Chinchilla
14. The Mockers - Madalena
15. Buddy Lee & The Satellites - Countdown
16. Deja Voodoo - (Some Things Just Don't) Wash Off
17. Deja Voodoo - Monsters In My Garage Got Married
18. Beat Happening - Bury The Hammer
19. Soft Serve - Phantasm
20. Adam Strangler - Crossed
21. The Wooden Sky - Swimming In Strange Waters
22. Dion Lunadon - White Fence
23. 13 Engines - Dirty Little Rat (Brave New Waves Session)
24. Walrus - Later Days
25. Kid Congo Powers & The Pink Monkeybirds - Psychic Future
26. X - Devil Doll
27. Mission Of Burma - Red
28. Misfits - I Turned Into A Martian
29. Black Lips - Occidental Front

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for July 15.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Dion Lunadon Interview & Show # 665


For the past seven years, Dion Lunadon has been playing bass in New York’s A Place To Bury Strangers. Prior to exploring the noisy world of A Place To Bury Strangers, Dion played in numerous bands. The D4 are now known as garage legends from New Zealand and were part of the garage revival of the late 90s/early 2000’s. Dion played guitar in this band and would take lead vocals on several tracks at times, trading off with Jimmy Christmas, The D4’s other singer/guitarist. Following the end of this band, Dion relocated to New York, where he started a new group, The True Lovers. This band adopted a more soulful approach, but after about a year and one album they ended too. Beneath the noisy waves and bass grooves in A Place To Bury Strangers, something was rising to the surface. For Dion and was a raw, unbridled blast of songwriting. During a recording/touring break with A Place To Bury Strangers, Dion wrote fifty new songs and from this list he culled eleven tracks (twelve if you count the B-side to 2016’s Com/Broke single) to create what would become his first self-titled and debut album. The songs that make up Dion Lunadon are filled with a certain raw, visceral aesthetic.

Released on the Agitated Records label, the first track on this release is a fuzzy and a distorted exploration in sound, something that is present throughout this release in various forms. “Insurance, Rent and Taxes” is less than a minute and a half, but establishes a noisy beginning to the album reflecting an uncompromising attack. “Reduction Agent” is a stop and start song with a blend of garage and punk influences. With lyrics such as “Much too young to get any older/drop the microphone cry on your shoulder” and a chorus that echoes the words “Feel the pain”, this song displays a sense of determination and fearlessness. “Fire” burns with intensity as drums, dizzying organ and fuzz-driven bass bring us into the song. The guitar leads simmer with a wild intensity as lyrically the song brings forth smoky, vivid metaphors with words such as “You fill it smoke/Behind it you hide/I can’t ever see the whites of your eyes” and other lines like “It sounds like the truth but you know it’s a lie”.

“Com/Broke” was first released as a single back in 2016 on Infinity Cat Recordings. The song features guitar with walls of feedback and intense basslines that suck the listener in. “Com/Broke” musically combines a mix of 70s punk and bands such as Toy Love, Supercar, Gestalt and The Gun Club. When originally released as a 7 inch single, Lunadon described the song as “being anti- what’s expected of someone entering their mid-life. Most people mellow out, but I don’t want that. I want to create music that is even more ugly and more real.” This song is one of the many that stand out on this release. “Hanging By A Thread” is for the most part an instrumental post-punk/industrial influenced track and serves as a good interlude to the chaos that preceded it. “Eliminator” a noisy garage track, seeming to draw on a frustration with lyrics such as “I got a little howl in my heart”. It leads into the next track on this album, “Howl”. This song was the first song written for this album and this spunky song draws on a galloping/danceable drum rhythm, organ, chugging guitars and well, howling screams. Lunadon told Consequence of Sound earlier this year that “Howl” is about finding and being able to freely use my voice literally and creatively”.

Two shorter tracks follow before the album’s final track. “Ripper” is a song drawing on frantic Chuck Berry rhythms and harmonica coming off with an almost early Replacements feel and “White Fence”, which cuts into an angular post-punk/punk direction. Fittingly, the final and eleventh track on Dion Lunadon is a song called “No Control”. The song builds with a slow and hollow sounding bassline as psychedelic guitars and echo-laden vocals swarm the listener’s subconscious. The song ends with a swirling of guitar, vocals with effects, the same penetrating bassline and the haunting lyrics “Never fall in love again/No Control”. With this release, Dion Lunadon explores a noisy world encompassing a variety of influences drawing on punk, garage, psychedelic, post-punk and others while lyrically it taps into urban life and the frustrations and determinations that come along with it. Dion Lunadon is an album that was created within a certain moment in time and it is something that not only grabs, but demands your attention.

Check out my interview with Dion Lunadon here:



The Playlist:

1. The Fads - Dead End Town
2. The Haunted - 1-2-5
3. Painted Ship - Frustration
4. The Ape-ettes - Bless This Mess
5. TOPS - Dayglow Bimbo
6. The Thin Cherries - Dorian Gray
7. The Rainy Days - Uh-Huh!
8. Nothing At All - Get Some
9. Dion Lunadon - Reduction Agent

DION LUNADON INTERVIEW

10. The D4 - Ladies Man
11. The True Lovers - Obsession
12. A Place To Bury Strangers - Straight
13. Dion Lunadon - Howl
14. Teengenerate - Dressed In Black
15. Guitar Wolf - Can Nana Fever
16. Toy Love - Squeeze
17. Teenanger - Dawn
18. The Modernettes - Confidential
19. Dead Ghosts - Girl Across The Street
20. Young Rival - Black Popcorn
21. Betrayers - Hand O' Glory
22. Kevin Morby - 1234
23. The Adverts - One Chord Wonders
24. Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs - O'Anvil
25. Paul The Tailor - Gold
26. The Cramps - The Way I Walk
27. The Gories - Let Your Daddy Ride

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for July 8.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

The Diodes John Catto Interview, Canada Day Special & Show # 664

The Diodes formed in Toronto in 1976 and were part of the burgeoning Toronto punk music scene. Before this there wasn’t really a scene there. Inspired by UK bands such as The Clash and US bands such as Ramones, The Diodes blended these influences with a touch of 60s British Invasion sounds and power pop for a sound that was completely their own. The Diodes featured Paul Robinson (vocals), John Catto (guitar), Ian Mackay (bass) and John Hamilton (drums/keyboards). Along with manager Ralph Alfonso, The Diodes opened Canada’s first punk club called the Crash ‘n’ Burn. Many bands within the scene and outside the scene played and hung out there. The Nerves (from LA) along with The Diodes were the first to play the Crash ‘n’ Burn when it opened its doors. Despite now being seen as an iconic venue within Toronto’s music history, it closed in the summer of 1977. Following the demise of the short lived punk club Crash n’ Burn, The Diodes were signed to CBS Records Canada, being the first Canadian punk band to be on a major label.

The Diodes first single “Red Rubber Ball” was a punked up version of the 1966 hit single by The Cyrkle, a song that was co-written by Paul Simon. According to vocalist Paul Robinson, they decided to cover this song after hearing Simon slag punk/new wave music. The Diodes took this love song about looking into the bright future full of a new potential after a break up and gave it a twist musically. In the context of 1977 when it was released, The Diodes first single symbolized something new while not forgetting the past. This was also the first track on their 1977 self-titled release.

Released in October of 1977, The Diodes was recorded in about a week and produced by Bob Gallo, who had previously worked with ? And The Mysterians, The Rascals, Solomon Burke and Ben E. King in the 60s. The sound of the record is immediate and to the point. The band’s power pop sounds seep through their US/UK punk and 60s influences. “Child Star” is a song with rolling drum fills, synthesizers and Ramones influenced power chords. The song is based on the true story of Anissa Jones, who a character named Buffy on the TV show, Family Affair. She died of a fatal drug overdose at the age of 18. “Tennis (Again)” with its back and forth guitar riffs and melodic basslines features lyrics wrapped around a metaphor telling of a doomed/fleeting relationship. “Blonde Fever” plays on the stereotype of blondes having more fun in between stop and start guitar riffs, “Plastic Girls” with lyrics such as ”Plastic girls are so pathetic/Plastic girls with that new aesthetic” is a satirical look at the plastic or “fake” person who tries to be something they’re not. The song can also be seen as a reflection of the mainstream vs. the underground punk/new wave music scenes happening at the time.

“Death In The Suburbs” attacks with a cinematic paranoia lyrically, “Behind Those Eyes” features an almost mod-punk aesthetic musically and lyrics such as “While smiling like a crocodile/Avalanching style/But behind those eyes/Who is watching/What is waiting” which seems to emphasize an eerie determination. The song tells the story of a character that is different than what people think on a surface level. This is something that could be reflecting the outside view that others had of the people involved in the punk music scene at the time, but is also still relevant today in many different contexts. “Midnight Movie Star” addresses late night TV cult movie stars contrasted against more “studio music and lots of tricks”. With ringing guitar leads, creeping synthesizers, sliding guitar and basslines, the song addresses an underground lifestyle and aesthetic. “Shapes of Things To Come” is another cover song found on this album, but like “Red Rubber Ball” it is rearranged in The Diodes own style. The song itself comes from the 1966 counter culture exploitation film, Wild In The Streets. In the movie a fictional band was created called Max Frost & The Troopers, a full-length album was even released featuring members of the 60s surf instrumental band Davie Allan & The Arrows. The song like “Red Rubber Ball”, takes on a different meaning when executed by The Diodes here. The song deals with the future and how it is going to happen regardless of the other factors surrounding it.

“Time Damage” is a more heavy hitting song with strong harmonies and aggressive guitar sounds. I imagine that this song if it were being played live would end in waves of feedback. This is the feeling you get at the end of this album. It was recorded live off the floor and really has the effect of a live show. There is a certain energy in the early recordings found on this album. The Diodes were popular in the Toronto punk music scene at the time, but aimed for something bigger, which also caused some conflict within the music scene. But, The Diodes emitted a large influence. The lyrics that would make up the band’s songs dealt with elements of suburban turmoil and the suburban psyche. They took a look at a different side of the culture at the time, that of the life in the suburbs. These themes permeated their lyrics, amongst other themes/topics in a way that set them apart from the rest.

Continue reading for an interview that I did with Diodes guitarist John Catto.  He talks of the first Diodes album, guitars, recording and the Diodes vinyl box set:

RR:  The music scene in Toronto in 1977 when the first Diodes album came out was a very different time. How would you compare playing in the early Toronto punk music scene as opposed to the way it is now?

JC: Well, very very different. For one thing there was no independent scene as we understand it now, or even as someone living in London or New York then would understand it. While there had been one in the 60's, live music in Ontario had come under the iron grip of the musicians union and the cover band agencies. So you had an entire generation of musicians AND audience who'd never even seen (local) bands playing original material and had even less interest in it happening.

So all this came about outside of the existing music scene. So when we started the ONLY place we could even conceive of playing was OCA (Ontario College of Arts) which led to the rather convoluted solution of booking the Talking Heads so we could open for them. I suppose, that if that opportunity hadn't presented itself to us and another month had gone by we would have looked into playing the Beverley Tavern down the street (where the Dishes and Zoom were getting going) or something similar. Then we would have had a quieter less auspicious debut but it never worked out that way.

RR:  What inspired you to play guitar and who are some of your favourite guitarists? What is your guitar of choice and why?

JC: When I was in High School off the top of my head at least 6 of my best friends played guitar so it was all around me, it was you know, the early 70's. Unlike them I didn't take lessons, I just got Mel Bay book 1 and took on teaching myself and got my friends to show me stuff. I think the first couple of rock things I learned were "Sunshine of Your Love" and Rhinoceros's "Apricot Brandy”.

If quizzed I'd probably always say my favourite guitarists are Townshend, Hendrix and Leslie West, especially Leslie when it comes to actual sound/tone. Over the years I've also been interested in Santana, James Williamson, Brian May and as far as soloing is concerned Robert Fripp's solo on Eno's "Baby's on Fire" has a pretty disproportionate influence that probably no one could ever discern ! Everyone get’s a look in for a moment!

But, right at the very beginning I think it was Jorma Kaukonen. Early on I had this huge fascination with the Jefferson Airplane yet I don't think I've ever tried to play like him, I DO try to play like Jack Casady every time I pick up a bass though!!

Overwhelmingly though it’s the Who. They’re the band I’ve seen more than anyone else and you know circa “I can see for Miles” into “Live at Leeds” is my template for the way I like things to sound.

Guitar of Choice:

I’m a Les Paul guy pretty much all the way, at least that’s where I started and where I ended up! First of all I had the homemade one (basically a body I made with the neck from a Japanese 335 copy and Gibson pickups and hardware) then a number of Les Paul Customs and Juniors. After the second album I started to want a change so I went out and got a Strat which was for me a huge frustration since I never could get it to sound right, stock anyway! Eventually like a lot of people in the late 70’s I settled on this Strat with a humbucker concept, the first one I made was late ‘78, then I had a great Walnut Tele that I built which is the foundation of the 3rd album wherever there wasn’t a tremolo bar or the solos which I cut with a late 50’s junior (Leslie West again!), that album btw I did all of with a 50’s Ampeg "Reverb-o-Rocket” with a greenback Celestion speaker stuffed in in it, great amp! I carried on playing those Strats right through to the early 90’s then had a rethink and put them away forever.

When I got back into playing I went right back to the Les Paul thing where I started. These day’s you may or may not know I build guitars a lot and they are exotica predominantly influenced by Les Paul’s and also similar things like Zemaitis and the Arts & Crafts aesthetic. Many are very fancy with etched metal parts, fancy inlay and so on but at core … it’s a Les Paul.

RR:  Where/when was the first Diodes album recorded and how did you get connected with Bob Gallo to produce it?

JC: The first album was all recorded at Manta Sound (as were the demos for the second). It was Bob's favourite studio and he had a favourite engineer there Hayward Parrott who he worked quite closely with.

Bob came from CBS, he was I suppose our assigned A&R man, in those days the A&R would more often than not produce unless there was some conflict of time. Bob of course had this long and pretty glorious history in both R&B and garage. Which really he'd never talk about, he'd mention 16 candles and 96 tears but to me that was whatever, now if he'd talked about James Brown that's a whole other thing! :)

RR:  What do you remember of recording/working on any of the songs for this album?

JC: Well, especially on the first album Bob gave us a whole lot of guidance and a very long leash. To me it was this incredibly exciting thing and I took to doing stuff in the studio pretty much straight off. I found out for one thing that many of my instincts as to what to do or add were correct and Bob encouraged that the whole way. He was also a guitar player so he'd show me stuff, everything for the fastest route to an end. We hired in a bunch of different Marshall's and I had my Ampeg V4 there and a little Epiphone, sort of like Fender Deluxe size. I had my homemade Les Paul copy and I think Bob didn't trust it so we also hired in a Wine Red custom, but they're about 50/50 on the bed tracks same with the Marshall/Ampeg mix. What they did establish and I think a lot of this was Hayward was a really definitive guitar sound. There are lots of outtakes from the first album, "Noise", "I've Got a Headache" and so on and the thing that is amazing is that guitar sound is right there on the tape in everything. There's a thing there that sounds like it's running through a short decay plate reverb right on the verge of feedback and it's always there. Whatever they did it nailed it, everything has this huge sound and its even there on stuff that wasn't really finished. I really should ask Hayward, he's on my Facebook friends!

There's quite a bit of "unfinished" work that went on and lyric changing. We had a pretty quirky range of song subjects, it wasn't all about getting drunk or dungeons and dragons! China Doll was delivered as a song about Jerry Hall the model and Bob really couldn't work out "why" anyone would even write about that! If only it had stayed and of course for a often accused "poppy" band we had one hell of a lot of songs about murder and suicide! So that was a constant source of discussion and a filter when it came it choosing what would be there.

The second album was a different thing. We'd recorded Tired at Manta in a one off one day session but then Manta wasn't available. So I think rather reticently Bob booked us into Eastern Sound. Probably a mistake for him but we really enjoyed working there. What did happen was that we walked in with all this very disparate material ranging from a sort of John Entwistle type number to these sort of "teen anthems" and lots of science project stuff!! It all sounded amazing while we were working on it but towards the end I think Bob started to get uncomfortable finishing it. So he brought Hayward in to mix it even though he hadn't been there for the recording. Common practice now but perhaps not then. I actually think it would have been better if Hayward had taken the tapes back to Manta and mixed them there in a known space. Still a lot of things still shone, especially the quirky ones which are in the majority anyway. The rockier stuff suffered a bit which we attended to a bit with the choice of versions at the time of the 1999 CD release.

RR:  A lot of the songs on the first album deal with subjects relating to the “suburban psyche” lyrically as stated in the linear notes to your 1998 release Tired of Waking Up Tired: The Best of The Diodes. Was this something consciously that the band wanted to address in their lyrics or was it more of a reflection of what you were going through at the time?

JC: Umm, you write about what you know and sometimes what you don't. Punk was in many ways the tail end of the glam thing and most people involved had emerged out of that whole thing of being attacked on the street or at school or whatever. So when we were writing those songs a lot of the focus really was our past high school days, that feeling of being outsiders constantly under threat. Maybe amusingly, in the earlier punk days up though the summer of '77 it wasn't "that" public a thing so the divisive threat was low since we weren't running around in lurex and platforms. But, by the time we were recording the first album it was now a identified, labeled thing so the trouble with the denim hordes returned with a vengeance. I can remember being attacked on the bus going out to Etobicoke at the end of the day during the recording of the album. It was all this nonsense about "punkers", all coming from people who hadn't even the faintest idea what it was all about.

RR:  The song “Tired of Waking Up Tired” from your 1979 album Released is perhaps The Diodes best-known song. It charted on US alternative radio as an import only release. How did you come up with the idea for this song and what do you think it is about this song that people respond to so much?

JC: Well, the feeling seems to be universal, I can't actually remember much about how I wrote it other than the fact I had almost everything at once, there wasn't this long developing curve where it changed dramatically over a period of time. The song was there, pretty much fully imagined from the beginning, then as soon as we started playing it everyone jumped on it.

In the end it lost a verse and got a bit shorter, and it lost some of the very "Power-pop" inflections it had in the demo. It's about a certain world weariness which is obvious but is also this sort of strutting "I'll take on anything you throw at me" sort of boasting thing like one of those talking blues records, that's more evident in the demo with all its verses.

RR:  The Diodes have a new vinyl box set coming out in September. What can you tell us about this box set and some of the unreleased tracks featured in this set?

JC: Over the years we'd recorded a pretty enormous amount of material, much more than anyone would expect with the number of albums we released. And over time what we "did" changed a fair bit as we went along as well, we always had a prominent experimental edge.

With the box set we've aimed to do two things. One was to present idealized vinyl examples of the 3 albums presented how they should have been, minus any of the compromises that went on.

Then there's the rarities disk. There was so much to pick from here. Part of that is unreleased and even unfinished material especially from the first album period, plenty of which will be familiar to people who saw us at the end of the Crash 'n' Burn period and the first shows after. That's about 2/3 of side one. So you've got stuff like Parasite and Lawnboy Lover and there's also things like the first demo of Tired of Waking up Tired. Then there's demos for all sorts of things. I've often heard comment, especially about the first album, that it's very worked on, that perhaps we didn't sound like that. Well here you get the first demos that we recorded at the Crash 'n Burn (one week after dropping to a 4 piece) and you can hear it's all there, I think a lot of people will get a kick from that. Plus there's some live stuff from the second era of the band, and demos from the very end of all that, I revisited a couple of things that were previously released and remixed them since I didn't think they put their best foot forward. And so on, there's lots of stuff no one has heard before, especially on the CD/download version and then the vinyl version of the rarities is a complete album in its own right that I think gives any of the official ones a run for it's money!

Get a copy of The Diodes vinyl box set by clicking on this image:


Show 664 - The Diodes Canada Day Special

1. Bloodshot Bill - Love Me Twice
2. James OL & The Villains - Foolsome Tourist
3. The Locusts Have No King - Is it or Ain't It
4. Shotgun Jimmie - Used Parts
5. Daniel Romano - Modern Pressure
6. The Diodes - Red Rubber Ball
7. The Diodes - Child Star
8. The Diodes - Tennis (Again)
9. The Diodes - Blonde Fever
10. The Diodes - Plastic Girls
11. The Diodes - Death In The Suburbs
12. The Diodes - Behind Those Eyes
13. The Diodes - Midnight Movie Star
14. The Diodes - We're Ripped
15. The Diodes - China Doll
16. The Diodes - Shapes of Things To Come
17. The Diodes - Time Damage
18. Zoom - Schoolgirl Hitchhiker
19. Johnny & The G-Rays - Put the Blame On Me
20. The Grapes of Wrath - The Weight (Brave New Waves Session)
21. The Band - Jawbone
22. The Sadies - Reward Of Gold
23. The Gruesomes - Whirlpool
24. Deja Voodoo - New Kind of Mambo
25. Deja Voodoo - Pig Fat Papa
26. The Inbreds - Any Sense of Time
27. Trout - High Score
28. Cellos - White Lines
29. Pointed Sticks - New ways (Demo)
30. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - I Know A Guy Named Larry
31. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - Exit From Vince Lombardi High School

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for July 1.