Monday, May 2, 2011

Dog-pussy

Gooooooooood morning everyone! Welcome to another week of mindless drudgery and hellish repetition. The one thing that should make this week a TINY bit less terrible is essentially that we get to do all the shit we hate doing with sun shining outside. That’s a real nice change of pace. It’s like putting a cocktail umbrella in a log of shit that you find on your doorstep.

Last week was cool. I went to the aquarium with Lexi Belle, I hung out with Los Tigres Del Norte and I got to stand there while one of the most important bands in my life sang one of the most important songs of my life and substituted my band’s name into the lyrics. That kind of shit is not a big deal. I know that those little personal touches that are so cool to be on the receiving end of don’t really require a great deal of energy, planning or even magnanimity to put out there, but I gotta tell you, I don’t care. I can’t even begin to describe the impact that Punk Rock Girl and the Dead Milkmen have had on my life and how subsequently thrilled I was to get a shout out. Of course, it’s Monday and I’ve got about two pages to fill here, so I’m gonna try anyway. Bear with me.

When I was eleven, my friend Nick and I first heard the record Bucky Fellini. Nick’s older brother, Rich and his friend Jesse, who at the time seemed like bad ass skateboard troublemakers but in retrospect were just regular kids with hilarious haircuts were into the Dead Milkmen. They gave the cassette to Nick who shared it with me. (side note: once we got to highschool, Jesse was reputed to have a gigantic wang. I have no idea if this is true or not, but the legend was whispered about in the halls for my entire tenure as a student. Also, he had a super attractive much older sister who I recently saw and even now, at forty something, she’s still smoking hot).

Rich and Jesse were, as I mentioned, skater type dudes and the Dead Milkmen were a popular band with skateboarders in the 80’s. They referred to the music on Bucky Fellini as hardcore, pointing to songs like Going To Graceland as examples of super aggressive music. In hindsight, that’s hilarious, but at the time it really WAS aggressive and scary to me and I remember being blown away that this band was singing about the death of someone like it was a wacky joke. I mean, I’ve never been a big Elvis worshiper (unrelated: three best Elvis songs are Hunk of Burning Love, I can’t help falling in Love with you and Devil in Disguise) but the thought of making fun of someone for being dead seemed so crazy and irreverent to me.

The whole record was like that. Every single inch of it was a dramatic wake up. I had never heard guitars like that. I’d never heard someone sing like that, or play these kinds of rhythms and tempos. I’d never heard sarcasm so all consuming (take Instant Club Hit as a perfect example of form following ironic function). Hell, I’d never heard music that wasn’t on the radio before. Just the fact that this record existed at all was a revelation. Nick and I immediately began writing and recording songs, all completely influenced by the dead milkmen. I did my best to sing like Joe and Rodney (depending on what the song called for) and when I started playing guitar, I attempted (poorly) to ape Joe’s style. Our first song that we ever recorded was Fish in the Sea, which was an extremely stupid and simple song done in the style of one of the Dead Milkmen’s more mellow numbers. That was quickly followed by crowd favorite Nuts, Nuts We Want Nuts, Blowjob (actually written by nick and his brother) and a whole ton of others, all essentially bad Dead Milkmen songs, where we sang about things that we thought the Dead Milkmen may sing about, even if we had no real idea what we were saying.

The next year I was in fifth grade and I was watching MTV when the video for Punk Rock Girl came on. I had never considered the notion that there was more stuff by the Dead Milkmen beyond the one record I had, and I was so excited that the second the video was over I sprinted out of my house and down the street to Rose Records and picked up the Beezlebubba cassette. So many of the songs on that record are amazing (Stuart and Life Is Shit are particular stand outs) but Punk Rock Girl was my most jammed song for…well, honestly I can’t think of another song that’s so consistently been in my mix for so many years. It may very well be song I’ve listened to the most of anything ever. It’s not only pretty funny (when Joe busts out with “eating fudge banana swirl” that’s one of the most awesomely placed bits of weirdness in any lyric in the history of rock) but it’s sweet, it’s unique and it occupies a completely solitary spot in the canon of rock and roll.

Punk Rock girl is kind of mainstream, kind of punk, kind of alternative, kind of whatever that weird shit that every single girl my age listened to in seventh grade (I’m talking Violent Femmes, Smiths, Lemonheads, uh…what else? New Order or something like that?) and it’s embraced by everyone because it’s JUST weird enough that people of all walks of life can agree that it’s not cheesy. BUT that’s the beauty of it: It’s completely cheesy. In attempting to make a simple pop song with purposefully saccharine lyrics, these weirdos created something bizarre and enduring that is neither alternative nor mainstream, but instead is just Punk Rock Girl. Everyone claims it for every team. Punks say it’s punk. Dorks that like Weird Al say it’s comedy. Seventh grade girls say it’s great on mixtapes and they’re all right.

I’ve mentioned before in this space that the Lawrence Arms are heavily influenced by the old Goo Goo Dolls records Hold Me Up and Jed. But I personally can easily say that Joe and Rodney from the Dead Milkmen have been my single greatest influence as a musician. The first concert I ever saw (fear of a beige planet tour) was the Dead Milkmen at the Metro. The first song I brought into my guitar teacher to learn was Punk Rock Girl (the solo is surprisingly hard to play. Sounds like it would be pretty easy, he’s a deceptively talented player), the whole notion of keeping humor alive in music even if it’s serious may have been perfected by Propagandhi, but it was introduced to me by the Dead Milkmen.

This weekend we played right before them and when they played Punk Rock Girl Joe sang “we asked for Lawrence Arms. They said He don’t work here” and it was the kind of thing that makes my 34 year old unbelievably jaded and cynical ass feel incredibly happy and cool with the world.

That only lasted like, an hour though. Now I’m back to feeling doomed. Sigh.
xoxoxoxoxo

14 comments:

Amy M. said...

Great post, Brendan. It's nice hearing about how bands influence people. The Dead Milkmen were also a big influence on me back in the day. It was quite nostalgic for me to see them live.

Saturday night was rad, TLA sounded incredible!

I can't fucking believe it took me this long to see TLA live, aside from at Pishko's reception...does that even count?

At any rate, thanks for a great party! I spend the wee hours of Sunday morning puking my brains out.

Amy M. said...

fuck, i mean spent.

PuddleSplasher said...

I called into work for both Saturday and Sunday to see you guys and the Dead Milkmen.

Pretty much worth it.

Hamilton Martin said...

That is some awesome shit. On a semi-similar note, I've probably listened to "bitchin' camaro" more times than any other song in my life. The late great radio station 96 Wave in Charleston, SC used to play that song at exactly 3am every single day from like '92 - '96,& I tried to listen to it every night. It launched the dead milkmen to mythical status in my circle, and i've been a fan ever since

Manny Los Gatos said...

I was at the show. I was also at the Fear of a Beige planet show back in 1988 or whenever that was.

I'm old so have pity, but I can't for the life of me figure out what you guys did that you've never done before. I thought maybe it was that you played only songs that both of you sang on, but I'm pretty sure that's not it. You didn't switch instruments. Can somebody clue me in, so I can get on with my life?

Eric said...

im with manny... also super old and missed the surprise although I stared right at you guys the whole time!

EZB said...

doctor worm by they might be giants is an awesome song too

YeahYeahNo said...

Manny, Eric: They played The Greatest Story Ever Told all the way through, complete with intro and outro.

Manny Los Gatos said...

I listen to TLA on random with all my other stuff, so I'm not surprised that I missed that. I don't know the order of the songs, I don't know their names, and I don't know what albums they're on. This is what Apple has done to me.

FranklinStein said...

Holy FUCK I'm jealous that you hung out with Lexi Belle. That's it. I'm going into porn. If sucking dick is a temporary means to get my dick sucked by Lexi Belle, then so be it.

http://yfrog.com/h6zd2lij

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!!!!!!!!

Owen said...

^ What this guy said.

Can we get the whole John Dory on the Lexi Belle thing please? I'm old and work in an office and require quasi-pornographic discussions.

Also bring Lawrence the Arms and the Dead Milkmen down to Australia. I know you've got the connections.

BEEXtrix Potter said...

Can someone explain to me how this Lexi B is in any way exceptional or noteworthy amongst the calvacade of interchangeable petite-sized thirty-something porn "starlets" that do the whole rosey-cheeked pigtailed "I fucked the babysitter!"/"teen deepthroat gymnast" schtick whose name you don't remember five minutes after busting when the occasional mood for some contrived "teenie" action strikes ya? I don't get it. Mostly rhetorical but anyone feel free to legitimately explain

BEEXtrix Potter said...

Here's a pic of me and "Gauge" at TGI Friday's!! lmfao

Yall remember Gaaaaauge? Jusss as good a stinker as Lexi! Ewwwwwww

Matt said...

i heard the pishko reception was just about the coolest thing ever.