Spellbound: The Story of John McGeoch

Art, John McGeoch, Manchester, Music, post punk, punk, Punk Noir Magazine

john mcgeoch

From Wikipedia:

John Alexander McGeoch (25 August 1955 – 4 March 2004) was a Scottish rock music guitarist who played with several bands of the post-punk era, including MagazineSiouxsie and the BansheesVisage, and Public Image Ltd.

He has been described as one of the most influential guitarists of his generation. In 1996 he was listed by Mojo in their “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” for his work on the Siouxsie and the Banshees song “Spellbound“. Signature characteristics of his playing style included an inventive arpeggiosstring harmonics, the uses of flanger and an occasional disregard for conventional scales.

Musician and producer Steve Albini praised McGeoch for his guitar playing with Magazine and Siouxsie and the Banshees, qualifying as “great choral swells, great scratches and buzzes, great dissonant noise and great squealy death noise What a guy” and further commenting: “anybody can make notes. There’s no trick. What is a trick and a good one is to make a guitar do things that don’t sound like a guitar at all. The point here is stretching the boundaries”.

Big Gold Dream

Grant McPhee, Indie, Music, Orange Juice, Paul Research, post punk, punk, Punk Noir Magazine, Subway Sect, Vic Godard

big gold dreamFrom Wikipedia:

‘Big Gold Dream is a 2015 film documenting the story of Scotland’s post-punk scene, focusing on record labels Fast Product and Postcard Records. Directed by filmmaker Grant McPhee, the film’s name is taken from the 1981 Fire Engines single of the same name, the final release on the Pop Aural label. The film won the 2015 Edinburgh International Film Festival Audience Award.

 

 

Punk Before Punk: The Party’s Over (1962/5/6) by K. A. Laity

Brit Grit, Films, K A Laity, punk, Punk Noir Magazine

olly reed

Just as the word punk existed before the music did, the concept of the rebel outsiders breaking all the rules has existed as long as rules have (probably: I’d bet my PhD on it anyway). One of those iterations surely included the beatniks, at least in the popular imagination. The Party’s Over’s release was delayed for a while due to censorship not of its violence, youthful decadence, matter-of-fact portrayal of homosexuality but – wait for it – for featuring necrophilia. The director Guy Hamilton and producers Jack Hawkins, Peter O’Toole and Anthony Perry demanded their names be removed in protest. It was finally released three years later in 1965 (1966 in the US).

 The film starts with the fanfare accorded to a production company named Monarch, but quickly switches gears by opening on a guy hanging from a balcony crying for help as a party goes on inside the building. Funky jazz plays on a Victrola while desultory young people smoke, smooch, drink, and mill about. The walls are covered with tennis rackets, beer mats and art. We follow a cigarette from hand to hand, introducing some of our key players until we end on Moise (Oliver Reed) who uses it to light a cigarillo and, swilling beer, wanders over to the balcony to take a butcher’s. He responds by pouring some bevvie over the luckless lad.

An imperious Melina (Louise Sorel) demands that he help the unfortunate. Moise instead calls on Geronimo (Mike Pratt) and the others manage to drag the fellow up. Moise shrugs at Melina, who rises and commands him to drop dead. Moise climbs up on the balcony rail and jumps. Cue screams, a passing look of angst on Melina’s face and then laughter from the crowd as we cut to Ollie hanging from a lamppost, smiling around his cigarillo. He bows and walks on.

Cut to the group as they begin desultory walk over a pre-dawn Albert Bridge as the voice-over by Reed describes the film as the story of these young folk who became ‘for want of a better word…beatniks’. It also clarifies that ‘the film is not an attack on beatniks; the film has been made to show the loneliness and the unhappiness, and the eventual tragedy that can come from a life lived without love for anyone or anything.’ Sure we’re going to cast glamourous young actors and make cool beatnik art studios but the message is this is bad.

Also necrophilia, much more clearly a bad thing.

Like so many films that show youth subcultures, it both glamourises it and oversimplifies it. We’ve already seen Reed as the beatnik artist in Tony Hanock’s The Rebel though he was French there. One of the most fun things here is Reed getting to trot out a series of accents in one brilliant scene as he shows down Melina’s American fiancé who’s come to drag her back to New York. So often Reed was forced to play to type, it’s always good to be reminded how much he could do.

The beatniks lead the hapless fiancé Carson (Clifford David) on a merry chase from studio to pub to café and back again until Nina (Katherine Woodville) takes pity on him. Unlike the dilettante Melina, Nina is a real artist though posh as the day is long (which makes all the difference in the end).

The problem is Melina disappeared after a whale of a party and it takes a while for people to begin to put together their fractured memories of what went on at the party. And what’s up with nervous Philip (Jonathan Burn)? With Nina by his side, Carson fights to find out what’s really going on with his mercurial fiancée in the face of the beatnik hostility, mostly wrangled by Reed’s Moise. In between there’s a lot of vintage footage of swinging Chelsea, gorgeously shot and a lot of beatnik posturing, bad art and slang. There’s even a cameo by Eddie Albert that proves surprisingly tender (yes, that Eddie Albert).

Well worth a watch even if you aren’t the kind of person who would watch Reed in almost anything. C’mon: beatniks in swinging 60s London! Currently streaming on Amazon in the US and I think BFI in the UK.

 

The FU School of Writing School by Graham Wynd

Graham Wynd, K A Laity, Non-fiction, punk, Punk Noir Magazine, Writing

When your books are less than successful, when you find it hard to make a splash, people tend to say the same kind of things:

 

Don’t give up! Your audience is out there! You’ll find them and connect. Stick with it.

 

I am here to tell you that this is not true. The majority of us will not find out audiences. We will work and toil and promote and do stupid interviews that no one will read about our books that no one will buy. FFS people can’t even be bothered to read the links to posts for giveaways.

 

‘Oooh, I want one! How do I enter?!’

 

The info is in the link you haven’t clicked, Einstein. It’s pretty simple. But your performative enthusiasm is noted. And worthless.

 

We all know it means fuck all. Because you don’t buy the books, you don’t read the books, and most important of all you don’t review the books anywhere so other people might possibly be persuaded to throw caution to the winds and read something by an author they haven’t been reading since childhood and complaining about almost as long. ‘It’s not as good as their best stuff,’ you’ve been repeating for decades but still shell out for the product because the food may be bland but at least it’s familiar.

 

It’s not going to get better. Late stage capitalism is crushing the life out of all of us except the super-rich and even they won’t be able to survive the collapse of the planet. The planet will. They’ll be going off to other planets in hope of conquest and colonisation because that’s worked for them over the last few centuries. Oh but wait, there’s no servants to do all the things they don’t know how to do, so they’ll die on the new planet’s surface because they don’t know how to open a can.

 

Probably.

 

So why write? For self-fulfillment? For the love of it? For the psychological benefits of expressing your thoughts in a Socratic attempt to examine your life?

 

Well, you can do that. I write because fuck you. I’m not winning awards, I’m not paying the bills, I’m not trying to make a name for myself, I’m not even trying to reach an audience. I expect I’ll die penniless and considered mad like William Blake and so many others.

 

I keep writing because fuck you, I want  to do it. That’s it: I write because I fucking want to do it. It gives me a perverse pleasure in the face of all the forces that want to take you down a peg, tell you you’re nothing and that your words not being worth money means they’re worth nothing.

 

Fuck you. My words are worth it.

 

At every stage of civilisation there have been gatekeepers and fame is a juggernaut that keeps its momentum going like a boulder down a mountain, crushing everything in its path. And in every age some punks crossed their arms, stuck out their chins, and said fuck no, I will not be crushed.

 

Words are weapons. Anger is a an energy, like the man said. Even if they crush us, we go down saying fuck you.

 

I’m going to be your Number one enemy,

All for the hell of it.

The Slits

GRAHAMWYND NOIR

Green Day – Father Of All: A Slide Into Pop Dramatics That Don’t Fully Work by Mark McConville

Green Day, Hardcore, Mark McConville, Music, Non-fiction, post punk, punk, Punk Noir Magazine

Green Day was a band that tackled political surges. And the last time they fully exerted their musical muscle entirely was when smash hit American Idiot hit the foundations of the music industry with an almighty bang. In present times, the band hasn’t eclipsed the raucousness and importance of that record. Yes, we received Revolution Radio in 2016, and before then, we got Uno, Dos, Tre, which came as a trio of uninspiring discs. In 2009, the outfit had to try and outshine American Idiot in subject matter and chords. Unfortunately, 21st Century Breakdown didn’t surpass its predecessor. It did have its hits, but also had too many uneventful notes. Not many fans or critics praised 21st Century Breakdown, and its relevance quickly evaporated.

Green Day

Roll on today and Green Day don’t give a damn. All of the adrenaline and musical fundamentals have been sucked out of this trio. New record Father Of All, doesn’t highlight the band’s creative ingenuity at any point. It has its moments where they can be forgiven for their reckless abandon, but missteps are aplenty. The first half of the album, drags on, plastered in mediocre lyrics and one dimensional instrumentals. If you listen on, you think it’s all a dream.

It isn’t a dream. It is reality. Green Day of days gone by wouldn’t have released Father Of All as a record of significance. They were against this sound, this melting pot of inferiority. Some critics have praised the band’s audacity, the risks. But, many fans have been left bewildered by a chocked sound. Father Of All’s second half, although still assaulted by cheap lyricism, beats life into a sound lacking in development and invigoration.

Father Of All Image

Let’s say the opening period of Father Of All didn’t exist and Green Day released an EP with the last remaining songs. The songs which aren’t fit enough, but are infectious enough to count, then we’d be somewhat entertained. Sugar Youth brings forth some stability. It’s a catchy number. Lyrically strangled, but the riffs will please the sceptics. Junkies On A High sparks some eagerness. The words seem to fit into a cohesive sequence, which is a rarity on Father Of All. Grattifia begins with claps and a 1980’s backbeat. Lead singer/songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong, sings with intent and says ‘’This city isn’t big enough for dreamers’’. Surprisingly the song isn’t a slog.

Die hard Green Day fans will be left disappointment, there’s no doubting that. They may revolt, but what can they do? And a revolution will not happen, not a chance. This powerhouse of a band have declined, they may have fallen into state of writers block, or maybe they don’t give a f**k? The latter seems legit.

Bio: Mark McConville is a freelance music journalist who has written for many online and print publications. He also likes to write dark fiction.

Alkaline Trio – Through The Years by Mark McConville

Alkaline Trio, Mark McConville, Music, Non-fiction, post punk, punk, Punk Noir Magazine

Punk band Alkaline Trio formed in the humble city of Chicago in 1996. Since then, the band has catapulted into an institution, a band that appeal to the punks, the emo sector and the freaks. By blending heartbreaking lyrics with shuddering guitar parts, the act has evolved into a staple of the music industry. Fronted by the enigmatic Matt Skiba, they’ve earned their right to play funky bars and high end venues. Although the band has been around for a considerable amount of time, they have kept it fresh and daring.

Through the years, Alkaline Trio has released many records. Their bite on the punk scene is profound, their contribution to the industry as a whole has been rightfully commended. This piece will describe each album as stories, chronicles of pain and despair. Not everyone likes Alkaline Trio’s catalog, nor do they like the dark edged aura of the band. But, there’s songs on the act’s list that may appeal to the pop fanatic.

Goddamnit (1998)

Alkaline Trio burst onto the scene with their debut album Goddamnit. A rough around the edges contribution, its rawness took many by surprise. It isn’t a textured release nor is it a polished one, but that’s what punk rock is about. Matt Skiba’s vocals are gritty on this album, but his lyrical genius shades through. Throughout the record, Skiba pinpoints many addictions, including alcohol abuse and substance misuse. On many occasions, we hear him scream and shout, holler at the crippling world. Dissecting this album is complex as there isn’t a linear plot, but it is a stellar opus to kick off Alkaline Trio’s supremacy as dark princes of punk rock.

Top songs:

Nose Over Tail

Clavicle

Sorry About That.

Maybe I’ll Catch Fire (2000)

Alkaline Trio had gone back into the recording studio high on adrenaline. After the battle-hard nature of Goddamnit, the act nurtured their sound and brought us Maybe I’ll Catch Fire. Yet again, the record isn’t a groundbreaking tour de force or a statement of intent, but what it is, is a punk album that takes time to settle. When it does, it enforces the listener to take note. Songs such as Radio and Fuck You Aurora command the room. They’re the type of tracks which resonate, they’re emotionally connecting, fully bloodied and raw. The guitar sound is more abrasive here, and Skiba showcases diversity with his composition. Bassist Dan Adriano, shows he’s a dab hand as a musician also. Drummer Glenn Porter hits the kit ferociously. The subject matter focuses on life’s downtrodden feelings and neglected dreams. Skiba writes like he’s stuck to the pills and is struck by mania.

Top Songs:

Radio

Fuck You Aurora

Madam Me.

From Here To Infirmary (2001)

A little more polished. A little more venomous. From Here To Infirmary landed in 2001. Many cite this record as the band’s most complete. Commencing with Private Eye, a song that is praised for being the act’s daring contribution. An endearing song for the punks and the alienated, it signified Alkaline Trio’s prominence as a band to consider. Throughout From Here To Infirmary, there’s also a melancholic vibe, as well as fully versed plot. Skiba and Adriano sing these songs built on vigor and restless nightmares. It isn’t beautiful, it isn’t coated in rose petals, but it’s enthralling. Musically, Skiba plays fearlessly. Those simple but engaging guitar lines offer abrasiveness and sturdiness. It’s a winner all round for Alkaline Trio fans.

Top Songs:

Private Eye

Stupid Kid

Another Innocent Girl.  

Good Mourning (2003)

Sick to their stomachs. Killing time and dreaming of promise and hope. Good Mourning is Alkaline Trio’s battle-cry. It is their darkest, most revealing record. Some love it and some despise its subject matter. Skiba let it all spew out here. His lyrics are sublime, his technique is fundamental to the progression of the album. All of these songs nibble and then bite down. They’re not serene, they’re not gracious, but they’re relevant and full of substance. Guitars are played full throttle. Hearts are stretched, years and years of manic depression takes its toll. With all this commotion and hysteria, Good Mourning is a stellar opus.

Top songs:

This Could Be Love

All On Black

Blue In The Face.

Crimson (2005)

Many critics and fans believe Crimson is Alkaline Trio’s weakest album. Although it doesn’t hit the gut like others, there are many songs that resonate and develop. There’s a track melded in called Sadie. A controversial song in which Skiba sings about a gruesome murder. This theme is swirled throughout the record, a dark, seedy, undercurrent. From the start to the conclusion, the opus is balanced well, but isn’t a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination.   

Top Songs:

Time To Waste

Mercy Me

Fall Victim.

Agony And Irony (2008)

Agony And Irony is an underrated album. Not many praised the collection. Skiba lyrical play was still there in parts, but the whole concept lacked fluidity. This isn’t a damning assessment of the record, but a sincere review. There’s songs here that work tremendously well, in fact, the album isn’t as mediocre as many describe it as. Yes, it doesn’t hold up against prior records, but what it does do is offer the listener an escape route into Skiba’s hardened world. Musically, the rhythm and technique is still present. Songs conveying war soaked lands and fiery confrontations are packed in here.

Top Songs:

Over And Out

Help me

Calling All Skeletons.

This Addiction (2010)

Alkaline Trio walked across a refined terrain here. This Addiction is a polished record. Many of these songs sound overly coated. But, the album is a triumph. Skiba, Adriano, and Grant, take their respective instruments and utilize them brilliantly well. There’s tracks that express loss, hurt, and the craving for redemption. Skiba is on fire here lyrically. He penned some of the band’s most audacious scores. Sonically, the album is solid. Guitars are brazen, words fly like notes. This Addiction is primarily an opus conveying addiction problems, loves bitterness and heartlessness.

Top Songs:

This Addiction

The American Scream

Off The Map

My Shame Is True (2013)

My Shame Is True is certainly a weak spot. Lyrically it is pedestrian. Musically, there are points to like. But, it seems Skiba lost all of his ingenuity. Adriano’s contributions are structured better. They mean much more. He sings with urgency and intent throughout. Keeping it fresh is complex, but My Shame Is True is stale with a few joyous fragments.

Top Songs:  

I Wanna Be A Warhol

I, Pessimist

Only Love.

Is This Thing Cursed? (2018)

Alkaline Trio broke their hiatus. They came forward with Is This Thing Cursed? It is a collection which takes influence from past sounds. Many fans liked this direction, and critics praised the intelligence and sophistication shown throughout. Skiba’s wordplay was back to its best, and he didn’t hold back. The album is a back to basics compendium which kills the bad taste of the ludicrously underpowered My Shame Is True disc. Skiba also took time out of being the other singer/songwriter of pop punk act Blink 182 to focus on his beloved band. Is This Thing Cursed? is Alkaline Trio’s comeback album, and it’s a great punk morsel.

Mark McConville.

Bio: Mark McConville is a freelance music journalist who has written for many online and print publications. He also loves to write dark fiction.
@Writer1990Mark
markmconville

(Almost) 25 Years of Punk Rock Art – K A Laity Interviews S L Johnson

Art, K A Laity, Non-fiction, punk, Punk Noir Magazine

 

S. L. Johnson is an artist and graphic designer who works with local radio stations, bands, indie labels, authors, publishers, arts centers and individuals. Her influences run from Saul Bass and Looney Tunes to punk rock flyers & album art; punk and rock & roll fashion; the surrealists Carrington, Fini & Varo; Inuit, Tlingit, Haida and Kawkiutl sculpture and graphic arts; nature—a wide variety. One of her longest running gigs has been for Marko’s Punk Rock Jukebox.

How did you start creating the art for Marko’s Punk Rock Jukebox almost a quarter century(!) ago?

That long ago?! I am not exactly sure, but I believe it started when Marko wanted something to offer as a premium for those folks who donated to WCNI during their fundraising event. I think I created the Punk Rock Guy for that purpose. 

prjb-2018-wp

What’s your process for reinventing the look each year? Do you brainstorm ideas or do you get requests?

I generally come up with something, but occasionally I get a request. I know Marko and what he likes, so I just go with that. The Sneaker T was brainstormed by my friend Bernie & myself; the Punk Mag rip-off was Marko’s request, I believe. And we often disagree on ideas as some are just overdone, or people just won’t get them. I’m appalled that one absolutely terrible design is the favorite of several people. Just trying to come up with something using the same Punk Rock Guy every time can be a bit frustrating, but it does push me a bit, which is always good.

I do offer various past designs in my online shops, so people can replace a well-worn fave if needed. And I have found some designs online, plagiarized, which sucks.

prjb-2019-50-fans-redux-web

Plagiarists should suffer warts and eternal itch! What are some of your favourites and why?

The Sneaker and the Punk Mag rip-offs as they are punk rip-offs of punk icons and they’re fun; The Punkfather, especially the poster version which has a slight touch of colour as I made the safety pin red; the 2010 because it’s just kind of random, weird and experimental and almost has an 80s “new wave” vibe to it; and the 50 Punks Can’t Be Wrong (the Elvis album rip off) — the original version had glittery gold jackets, a cheesy take on Elvis’ gold suit, and I think the redux from a year or two ago is decent. Basically, all of them kind of amuse me. And they have to, as ripping off stuff a la punk is pretty much played out and not really a big deal in this age of constant easy plagiarism. The early t-shirts, like the 50 Punks, were done by cutting and pasting photocopies together and then drawing elements in. Those almost look best because they’re really not slick at all.

Is it frustrating if people don’t get the witty cultural references?

Every damn time. So, maybe they’re not so witty! I try to pick something recognizable, or something that might resonate,  because in the end it’s to create something people will want to buy and wear and references the Golden Age of Punk — hahaha. And sometimes I massively fail – the Oswald and Mayor Vaughn tees were met with a resounding ‘WTF’ by many, and there are a couple of other clunkers.

 

For the record, I love the Mayor one! You also do book and CD covers: is the process different?

Oh, definitely. The audience is specific for these t-shirts — fans of Marko’s show/supporters of WCNI. I don’t think anyone would see any of these randomly on a rack and think, “oh yeah, cool, I gotta get this.” It’d certainly be great if they did! There are less choices to be made as they all feature the Punk Rock Guy and are white ink on black shirts. Book & CD covers can involve so many more elements & colours, as well as the various bits to design and also the need to speak to more diverse audiences.

What’s next for you? Any projects on the horizon?

Always — finished 3 illustrations for a new publication from Fox Spirit Books, finishing up stickers for a friend, another Punk Rock Jukebox design to be made for 2020, and let’s see….right on the tip of my brain….oh, yeah! An art show with you — and creating brand new works in a medium new to me. That should be both wonderfully terrifying and very fun!!

It’s going to be awesome!

prjb-tee-2017-punk-in-a-pan-web

Stephanie Johnson can be found at sljohnsonimages.com and you can buy her cool designs on a wide variety of merch.

Marko’s Punk Rock Jukebox happens every Thursday 12-3pm (GMT+5) on WCNI and Friday 11-2pm (GMT+5) on WECS (or your fave radio app) 

K. A. Laity is mouthy gadabout.