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2007 ISSUE #93
Woggles Wicked Cool Records
12 song CD
TRACK = IT'S NOT ABOUT WHAT I WANT
And Roll Backlash
After 20 years and as many releases, you'd think
that a band like The Woggles would be winding down. Not
on your life. If this latest album is any indication, these guys
are just picking up some steam.
Rock And Roll Backlash is the perfect example of
a great Woggles record: it's raw and rancorous, with attitude
practically pounding out of the speakers. While their studio output
has never quite captured the unbridled insanity of their infamous
live shows, this latest venture takes us one step closer to the
This time around, The Woggles have hooked up with
Little Steven's Wicked Cool label, spreading their own brand of
rock-n-roll evangelism nationwide, including a recent tour with the legendary Zombies. The new album explores come
new territory for the band, as they incorporate soul horns and
dabble in elements of British Invasion psychedelia. There aren't
many garage bands out there who can pull this kind of stuff off
and still kick your posterior in the process.
Luckily enough for you, my dear readers, I was able
to catch up with the band's longtime producer and now full-time guitar guru, The Fleshhammer.
Before we get into the new album, I'm curious, how
did you guys first get hooked
up with Little Steven?
Little Steven was involved in Cavestomp 2000, a
big garage festival that was held in Manhattan. Three-chord guitar
rock being played by teenagers in dance clubs is what Steven cut
his teeth on. I think he felt an immediate affinity for what the
Woggles and others of our ilk were doing.
Although he did have the regrettably sad misfortune of missing the
Woggles' set that year,
evidently someone put a bug in his ear about it. Afterward. a
dialog with Manfred began and Steven expressed his plans for
the Underground Garage, which he hoped would one day include a
record label. He has said all along that if he got it off the
ground, the Woggles would be the first band he would sign. It
took Little Steven a couple of years to get the radio show &
Sirius channel off the ground. Very soon after that we played
a show with the Detroit Cobras at the South Paw in Brooklyn, and
Steven finally made the scene. After witnessing a particularly
over-the-top show, he cornered me downstairs, and I am trying
to quote him exactly, he said (in a Soprano's Noo-Yawk accent),
"Hammer... I gotta tell ya: I've seen da
Rollin' Stones with Brian Jones, I've seen da Who with Keith Moon,
and I seen Sam when he was still wit' Dave. but I never seen anything
any better den what I just seen up here tonight".
We recorded on our own tab with Rick Miller, we weren't sure how
soon (or if) Steven would get the
label off the ground. We had begun to give up on Steven and had
just started shopping it around
elsewhere, when suddenly out of the blue Steven announced that his
label was up and running.
We were caught with our pants down, in that we'd been talking
with him for years about his putting out a new Woggles record.
now that he was suddenly good to go, he wanted the finished product
What was the big tour with The Zombies like?
Every night, the Woggles were like the man that
gets shot out of the cannon. The local and regional openers were
like the circus clowns, it was up to the Woggles to draw the first
blood and give the audience their first whiff of danger. The Woggles
& the Zombies were the only ones on our bus. As you might
imagine, the Woggles were huge fans of the Zombies. We knew their
back catalog and history backwards and forwards, and at first
I think they were flattered by so much adoring attention. we wound
up getting along famously, and they patiently fielded a million
questions from us. We became friends, and we still continue to
stay in touch.
Between the three of them, they told more stories from Rock 101
than I could ever hope to remember: stories of their sharing bills
with the Beatles on a revolving stage, of traveling through the
south sharing a tour bus with the Temptations and joining in a cappella
gospel sing-a-longs in the heat of the night.
By my count, you've got about 14 singles and more than half
a dozen albums under your belt going into the new album. Did you
face any particular new challenges with Backlash?
While cutting basic tracks it was very hard for
me to simultaneously serve as both guitarist and producer. That
really took me by surprise and threw me for a loop. The damage
apparent until after basic tracks were done, and I had a good
look at what we'd recorded. Especially when cutting basic tracks,
a producer has to keep things rolling along. he has to keep things
interesting for musicians' varying attention-spans, and make sure
that performances are top notch and maintain energy and attitude.
he must also be able to shift concentration to a multitude of
small details. But when it was time to record a song I had to
also be able to temporarily put all of that out of my mind and
go out and cut a live guitar track with the band (the Woggles
always cut basic tracks playing live as a full band).
I hear a lot of horns on this one --- sort of
a Stax soul thing going on there --- how did that come about?
Those horns came at a steep price. There
are horns on three songs: Backlash, Black Sheep, and the trumpet
on El Toro.
By the time the smoke cleared, we'd had three
different horn sections in three different cities come in and
try to nail the sound we wanted. There were different problems
with each of them. Luckily I'd happened to run across an old high
school buddy who had been playing with a couple of old black horn
players that had actually been session guys at Stax, Eddie Boyd
and Joe Burton. It was agreed that they should try a pass at Backlash.
They came into the studio in Atlanta, and they definitely were
the real thing. They had the mojo, along with charisma and style
I also notice that there are a few songs that
go in a different direction--- like El Toro and Porridge, for
The Woggles have a very open songwriting policy. Songs get written
and come together organically and in just about every writing
combination, with very little method to the madness. El Toro
was a totally new kind of experiment for the Woggles. Dan came
up with the idea, he suggested the musical intro and had the main
guitar riff & melody for the verse. He said he wanted it to
be about a bullfight, and he wanted the song's structure to follow
the dynamic of how a bull fight plays out. I suggested the idea
of having a certain instrument represent each of the two opponents.
The trumpet became the bull, and the electric guitar became the
Porridge is Patrick's song. He's written
stompers too, but lately he has been surprising
everyone by proving himself quite adept at writing in a poppier,
more melodious style that seems to reflect his very English-ness.
This makes the long-playing debut for you as full-time guitarist,
along with your regular duties as producer. How's it been with
you as a full-time member of the
Being that my previous job was that of band
producer, you could say that I took a demotion and a cut in pay.
MISH MASH Mandate: Back In Black
HEY BANDS! OPEN YOUR ONLINE T-SHIRT
SHOP FOR FREE!
- The Orion
10 song CD
TRACK = THE QUEEN OF WHITE LIES
I am extremely grateful that my summertime guilty pleasure has
arrived early this year. The Orion Experience's Cosmicandy is
an aptly named piece of sugary pop that is catchy in all the right
The Queen Of White Lies is a radio-hit-in-the-making if there
ever was one (that is, if there were still such a thing as a
radio hit). The song is built around a thumping dance groove,
dripping with a smart 80s vibe that sounds like the best of
Duran Duran and The B-52s mixed up in the blender. Simply perfect in every guilty way.
The only drawback comes in the form of the final two songs,
a couple of tunes that have a somewhat political bent. They
try a little hard to be serious here, and it's kind of a killjoy
after all that fun leading up to the end. Other than that, this
is THE pop album to pick up this spring. And hey, the keyboardist
is kinda cute, too.
- MISH MASH Mandate: Pop Lobster
The Orion Experience Website
Cobaltworks Music Division
9 song CD
TRACK = BIG COAT
I was highly impressed with Kevin Peroni's Wiretree EP a couple
of years ago, and now his full-length release lives up to the praise.
This is a wonderful little hazy pop record that's endearing in its
Peroni has an unassuming voice that just comes along for the ride,
crusing along with the driving guitars that push the songs along.
The result is a laid-back feel that still has a slight edge, caught
somewhere between The Beatles and The Pernice Brothers. His songwriting
has improved greatly, and it shows that he's got more than a few
tricks up his sleeve.
MISH MASH Mandate: Hazy Shades
Colour Me Blue
9 song CD
TRACK = ARE YOU HAPPY NOW
Thank goodness for the Internet. Two artists who met on myspace.com,
guitarist Reuben's Thread and singer RachaelRachael, have teamed
up to produce this wonderful piece of dreamy, laid-back pop. And,
now, thanks to the ubiquitous web, I'm introducing them to you.
Reuben's Thread provides the slow-paced, atmospheric groove, while
RachaelRachael adds her deep and soulful vocals to the mix. There's
an 80's-era R&B vibe going on, possibly stemming from the fact
that Rachael doesn't overdo her singing parts, as many singers in
this post-Idol era tend to do. She keeps it smooth and subtle, letting
her voice woo us with gentle skill. Very nice.
MISH MASH Mandate: Poppy Fields
Reuben's Thread Website
One Day You'll Dance For
13 song CD
Get ready to get your latest trippy fix. Norwegian native Dalminjo
carries the techno flame with this excellent collection of hopping
dance tracks, featuring vocals from Flunk's Anja Oyen Vister, among
Dalminjo digs deep into his music history books, melding together
a host of musical genres and sounds from across the decades. Sometimes
it's jazzy with a touch of Latin, and sometimes it's funky, but
it's always right in the groove. The tracks with Vister are the
most interesting, as her pixie-like voice weaves pure magic across
the broken beats. What a great team they make, and let's hope they
do more in the future.
MISH MASH Mandate: Block Breaking Beats
Kriztal Entertainment Website
14 song CD
James Filkins is taking us back to the basics, in more ways than
one. Not only does he finger-pick his hand-made acoustic guitar
with alternate tunings, he also recorded the tracks on this album
in various rooms of his home. It's a labor of love, built from
the ground up in the truest of DIY fashion.
Filkins is not flashy or showy, instead he keeps his focus on
the melody and overall feel of the song. The essence of the music
is all that matters here. It's an almost impressionistic way of
playing the guitar, shifting and drifting through a beautiful
haze of sound.
MISH MASH Mandate: The Right Impression
James Filkins Website
4 song CD
Under the guise of My Loving Tiger, Justin Mazahn and Mark Kayser
have put together a great little EP which is brimming with marvelously
geeky alt rock. Their sound is deliberate and calculated,
with quirky tunes that deal with elected officials and natural gas
But don't be scared away by the nerdiness, as they are skilled
in delivering their pop with an urgent bite. It grabs you and sticks
in your head from the first track.
MISH MASH Mandate: School House Rock
My Loving Tiger Website
10 song CD
Please, please, please, somebody at a label pick this guy up and
put him into a real studio. Marcus Singletary is a guitar wizard
who slings his electric blues around like an old-time master. The
songs are ripped, roaring and mean, just like the blues should be.
While lo-fi recordings in this genre usually don't pose too much
of a problem, in this case it tends to get in the way of the overall
sound to the point of distraction. I can only imagine how great
this stuff would sound with the right quality of recording. Regardless,
the talent is there for sure. If you eat and breathe the blues,
you need to check this guy out immediately.
MISH MASH Mandate: Briefcase Full
Marcus Singletary Website
- 33 1/3:
Use Your Illusion I & II
by Eric Weisbard
Softcover, 125 pages, $9.95
It might be hard to believe, but the Guns N' Roses
1991 double album release Use Your Illusion I & II was the
last great "blockbuster" rock-n-roll album, at least
according to author Eric Weisbard. What he means by this is
that this album represents the last breath of the old rock era,
at a time when people would camp outside their local record
store to be the first to buy a rock release. Not long after
Illusion, alternative rock took over, and the bloated, mega-mega
platinum hard rock album became a thing of the past.
Weisbard doesn't focus as much on the actual Illusion
albums as much as he focuses on the attitudes and forces that
surrounded this particular GNR release, both before and after.
While Appetite For Destruction stands as a testament to raw
rock at its finest, the Illusion albums represent something
entirely different. Weisbard suggests that they are the key
to the madness that is Axl Rose, the tortured rock hermit who
has slaved away fruitlessly for the past 16 years to produce
The book explores the albums on a psychological
level, sifting through the lyrics, videos, and legends, trying
to find the connections to Rose and his particular brand of
egomania. It's a fascinating read, even for someone like myself
who hasn't listened to the Illusion albums in over a decade
(I couldn't find my copies while reading this book, which is
not a big surprise). Even though Weisbard breaks down the songs
individually at the end, this book differs from some of the
others in the 33 1/3 series, as you don't need to hear the album
at hand to fully appreciate the sometimes biting commentary.
- MISH MASH Mandate: Use It Or Lose
© 2007 Mish Mash Music Reviews, All Rights Reserved