Chris Squire, indie culture workaholic
A joke about musician Chris Squire, whose short list of past band affiliations includes Heroin, Tit Wrench, Labrador, The Mach 5 Overdrive and Tiltwheel, is that he's 107 years old, though he doesn't look a day over a weathered 27. That's because he's been entrenched on the front lines of San Diego's music scene for decades, and if it's true, he's a damned rambunctious, busy centenarian.
Not only does Squire currently co-front San Diego's promising young Tori Cobras along with Jason Whedon (ex-Chicken Farm, The Kids, Run For Your Fucking Life), but he's working on establishing a label and a recording studio (both named Pure Noise Forever, perhaps an analogous moniker for the ageless man himself). The fledgling producer has thus far recorded tracks by Bored to Death and The Attacks, and the label's roster includes the Tori Cobras, The Teeth, Black River Soul and Cheerleader666.
Squire has big plans for the recently launched website (www.purenoiseforever.com). "Besides featuring MP3 and video samples of these artists," he says, "it will also feature one of the most extensive online links pages to a vast selection of bands, labels, magazines and other extensions of the rock 'n' roll underground. Eventually, I hope to build an online webzine extension to the site, and if that seems to flow right, I'd like to take it to print eventually."
Continuing his multimedia attack, Squire is also in pre-production for a video series called Live From Pure Noise!, which was inspired by '80s cable shows like New Wave Theatre and Night Flight.
"It will feature celebrity guest hosts from San Diego and abroad," he says, "with a rotating cast of bands performing and recording live in the Pure Noise studio to an assorted, drunken, oddball slew of local scenesters... and maybe some puppets."
Squire says the videos will be available via mail order and on the Internet, and maybe as a cable-access show. He sums up his own work ethic best: "One thing at a time, though-I dunno what I'm saying, with me it's more like five things at a time."
BATS reform, plan flight to Japan
As if PNF and being a Cobra isn't enough, Squire is also assuming guitar duties for a newly reformed Battalion of Saints, the legendary unit some consider the best San Diego punk band ever. Also backing original BATS frontman George Anthony are Mario Rubalcaba (Rocket from the Crypt, ex-Clikitat Ikatowi and Black Heart Procession), Scott Bartolone (Clikitat, Heroin) and Matt Anderson (Gravity Records mogul, Heroin).
The band will do a brief West Coast jaunt in September and hit Japan in October. A new BATS album is also in the works.
Though Anthony has always helmed the band, the rest of the lineup has been a revolving door. Between forming in 1978 and breaking up-for the first time-in 1985, they went through nearly a dozen members, with some meeting tragic ends. Former members Chris Smith, Barry Farwell, Dave Astor and Don Diaz died of overdose-drowning, drug-related health problems, suicide and AIDS, respectively. So, uh, frequently and passionately toast to the health of the new line-up in this San Diego supergroup.
The North Atlantic strikes an iceberg
After two stellar albums and garnering much respect as a San Diego band-the kind of musicians that musicians like-The North Atlantic played their last show earlier this month.
"After four years together as a band, and having survived a relocation from Kalamazoo, Mich., and the departure of an original member [guitarist Matt Guay], we've decided to shelve things for a while so that each of us can pursue other interests," says drummer Cullen Hendrix.
"The proximate reason for the breakup is that Jason Hendrix is leaving to study at the University of Chicago. Having followed me all the way out here so that I could pursue my graduate studies at UCSD, I figured it would be pretty selfish of us to not recognize the great opportunity he has before him."
Cullen says it's likely we haven't heard the last of the band, even if it's just an occasional reunion show: "We've spent the better parts of our adult lives as best friends and musical partners. The idea of never playing with these guys again is positively shattering."
The band's albums, Wires in the Walls and Buried Under Tundra, are still available in local music stores and on the band's website, www.thenorthatlantic.com, which they plan to keep operating posthumously.
They also plan to continue other musical endeavors: "Jason Richards is working on some electronic stuff and will be debuting some of his concoctions I suspect sometime this fall," Cullen says. "Jason Hendrix will no doubt terrorize the Chicago scene in some fashion. As for me, I'm looking for a band."
The BATS aren't the only San Diegans scheduled to invade the Land of the Rising Sun soon. Hepcats Hot Rod Lincoln, who've been cranking out fine revivalist rock 'n' roll for a decade, have recorded an album with Japanese rockabilly heroine Conny on that artist's label and are supporting the release with a mid-September tour through Japan. A few stateside warm-up dates are listed on their website (www.hotrodlincoln.net).
"Por Vida: A benefit for Alejandro Escovedo" [CityBeat, Aug. 27] had radio jocks at 94/9FM and other stations talking endlessly on air about it the next day. Organized by Alejandro's little brother Mario (The Dragons), along with Erika Herzog and Casbah owner Tim Mays, the show brought out some big names, little divas and musical anomalies last Thursday, Aug. 28, at the Casbah. The benefit (Alejandro was recently diagnosed with hepatitis C and lacks medical insurance) drew a capacity crowd, which was treated to sets by disc jockey-songstress Anya Marina, brother Javier Escovedo (who hadn't performed solo in six years), X-man John Doe, Ryan Adams prodigy Jesse Malin and an all-star "Dragons & Friends" lineup. Gregory Page, Gerry Wassen (Georgia Satellites) and others, including a violinist, performed an alternately moving and scorching set of Alejendro's songs, ending with one of the benefactor's favorite Iggy Pop covers, "I Wanna Be Your Dog." The event helped raise more than $3,000 to help with the Austin, Tex. punk-folk legend's medical costs.
In other benefit news, The Glossines played a "Shop and Rock" benefit at Buffalo Exchange in Pacific Beach last weekend. Funds raised benefit "Take It to the Hills," an organization that gives clothing, school and medical supplies to poor communities in the Sierra Madre Mountains of northern Mexico (www.taketothe hills.org). The Glossines play next at Scolari's on Sept. 5 with The Creepos, The Phuzz and Those Fucking Ninjas.
Standout local harmonica player Dave Harrison can handle a camera as well as a harp, as evidenced through September at The Espresso bar on the corner of Kettner and Hawthorne. Locals know his music best from his tenure with The Bedbreakers and are probably already familiar with his photography, though they might not realize it-his work graces the cover of The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash album, Walk Alone.