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Monday, November 30, 2020

The Fleshtones - Face Of The Screaming Werewolf

The Fleshtones are back with "Face Of The Screaming Werewolf", released on the great Yep Roc label. This blog being a long time fan of the band, the opportunity was perfect to finally have a chat with Peter Zaremba and Keith Streng. Here it goes: 

1) For the sake of the argument, let's say that a very young viewer stumbles upon this blog for the first time and doesn't know who The FLESHTONES are: what would you tell him about the band to introduce the various members and also your body of work?

Peter Zaremba: Please let's not start by arguing. Probably many people won't know who The Fleshtones are, but by now it's a marvel that they don't. I can modestly say that we are the band that inspired the bands that they love. I'm Peter, I sing, blow the harmonica and try to play keyboards but don't try too hard. Bill Milhizer, ex of The Charades of Troy, New York has been our drummer since 1980. Ken Fox, the Canadian guy, formerly of The Raving Mojos and Jason & The Scorchers plays bass. Keith, please introduce yourself and tell Ratboy about our body of work…

Keith Streng: Hello,   Keith here!   I am the guitarist who had a house for the band to form!!!   We play  an exciting blend (Super Rock) Combining everything explosive and rhythmic with a dose of soul to go!!!  

2)  About the newly released album, "Face Of The Screaming Werewolf",  what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs?

PZ: I guess we were still pretty 'live' considering the alternative. We lay down a live 'basic' and go from there. I gotta say I started out with the idea of keeping over dubs down to a minimum, but things change once the tapes rolls.  Michael joked and called us the most edited band in the world. We do have a habit of 'whittling' our songs, usually because we already have ideas in our heads of what we want the song to sound like. We don't just 'see what happens' much in the studio -that can happen on stage. 

KS:Live track by track blow by blow and then we top it off with sugar and spice (Some overdubs)

3)As far as the recordings of this latest album are concerned, did you use the nowadays digital recording technology or do you still keep on working with analog machines in analog studios?

PZ: Gee I don't remember, I know Michael uses a computer but I like all styles of recording, it's what you do with them that counts. Keith what do you say?…

KS:   This album was digital reality!!

4) What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you write a new song?

PZ: You'd suppose monsters and stuff would be the easy 'go to' topic but we don't write about that stuff as much as we think about it. We have a pretty broad range of interests to write about, but I gotta say a large degree of sincerity has crept into our writing as of late. Life?

KS. There are so many things every day that are fun and rocking!!!   Impossible to have one topic,   Better to open your eyes!  Girls???

5) To what kind of music did you listen to as teenagers and does it still influence your today work? What were your favorite bands as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have a influence on your own work today.

PZ: I think Keith will agree, we listened to everything that was on the radio, and that meant everything! Radio was very different then, you heard all sorts of crazy stuff plus of course the British Invasion, and the earlier music the British bands wet trying to copy, all sorts of soul and R&B, latin and boogaloo, the first generation of American 'garage' one -hit wonders, then when radio went to hell in 1969 and became unlistenable we became record geeks a bit, tracking down Kinks, Move and Yardbirds records and the American blues artists that influenced them, but of course strange stuff too. Wait -that's not 3 bands, and I forget The Ramones, The Stooges and The MC5. Keith, 'Plus’…?

KS: The other Keith!!  The Rolling Stones forever!!!

6) Some of your early records were compiled a few years ago by the Australian label RAVEN (It's
Super Rock Time!; Hexbreaker! / Speed Connection Live In Paris 85; Roman Gods / Upfront EP...Plus) but some never made it to CD, for example "Fleshtones Vs. Reality" why is that so?

PZ: Yeah, wasn't that great? Universal Music was just sitting on all our IRS stuff so it was nice that Raven decided to release it so people could at least hear it. I hope Raven didn't regret that! Good Australians! Now Fleshtones Vs. Reality and Angry Years were both released by separate small extinct labels so that would be harder to do. A shame, both really good albums -all our albums are good! Maybe Yep Roc will gather all this stuff together for a box set, and include our Ichiban albums from the 90s too. They did mention doing that. I boon to the listening public. YepRoc, are you reading this? 

KS:   Yep Roc could do just a box set of the albums we recorded for them,   That’s how much we have to offer!!!

7) Are there any artists in The USA today you consider yourself close to, musically speaking?

PZ: This question always makes my mind go blank. Why am I thinking about the Subsonics? Are they still around? Clay is. Or The Gories? Nat Freedburg of The Flies, Titanics, Upper Crust and now solo has always been an inspiration. Now Daddy Longlegs are marvelous. I think Keith kinda raised them up? Keith?…

KS:   Brian used to be my assistant when I was doing “Man with Van”. He was good at that but better at being a rock star!!!  I told him to just go out and play and be seen,   And now look!!!

8) Do you think it was easier to be a rock'n'roll band way back in the 70's than it is now?

PZ: Well RIGHT now it isn't easy to do anything. So yeah, when we started it was easier once you realized you didn't need any money to start a band. And you didn't need much money then to do anything, but there was only a handful of places to play. In New York it was Max's or CBGB, until WE started getting bands into Club 57 and Irving Plaza. Then clubs mushroomed all over the country. Now we can only hope that live venues survive all these lockdowns. No one wants to catch covid for sure, but bands need a place to play other than their basement (like where we started ourselves!).

KS:  If you have the love, passion and energy rock and roll is always waiting!

9) Is there a main composer in the band or is everybody involved in one way or another?

PZ: Keith and I have always been the main writers, and I think we're writing more and better now than ever. And writing together again! Ken Fox contributes songs too that are always a welcome change of pace from Keith and my ranting and raving (but we do have our sensitive sides -listen to Keith's 'Alex Trebek' on the latest album). Bill Milhizer hasn't blossomed yet as a composer but something tells me that when he does bloom -look out!

KS: Still waiting for Milhizer’s Delight!!!!

10) Since 2003 you are Yep Roc recording artist. Is this the label that suits The FLESHTONES the best And if so, why?

PZ: short response" YES. Why? Because they started Yep Roc to sign bands like us. In fact the Yep Roc guys hired us to play their frat party when they were still in college and told us "when we get out of school were gonna start a label us we can sign you!". True story. Yep Roc is the best because they put out music they love. Just look at our label mates. Anyone would be proud to be on that label!

KS:  Yep Roc is the only label for the Fleshtones because THEY  like the Fleshtones are REAL and LOVE what they do!!!

The Fleshtones always drink for free!
The Fleshtones always drink for free!
11) What are the plans for 2021 as far as The FLESHTONES are concerned?

PZ: To get back into action -world-wide! And I'm ready to record a NEW album, what about you Keith?... 

KS: We have a tour in May booked for the Fleshtones,   That is ground zero,   I plan to play every stage that will allow me!!!!

12) Anything you wanna add?

PZ: Yeah, as the Carpenter's sang -"We've Only Just Begun…" Thanks for listening.

KS:   2021 will be the return of Everything Good and Right!!!!    Starting with the Fleshtones!!!!   Tune in!

"Face Of The Screaming Werewolf" is available at independent retail only and will be released direct-to-fan in early 2021. You can find the CD / LP at a record store near your home using this link:

Here are The Fleshtones LIVE in Lyon in November 2019.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Psychotic Youth - Forever and Never

2020.... Man, What a year it has been for singer/guitarist Jörgen Westman and the other longtime band members of PSYCHOTIC YOUTH, Ulf Abrahamsson (guitar), Anders Nordstrand (bass), Gunnar Frick (organ), and Kent Sjöholm (drums). 

Despite the weird times we are living in and the lack of concerts, the band managed to celebrate its 35 years of existence by reissuing two of its most famous full lengths:

1) "STEREOIDS REVISITED", released in transparent green vinyl, is featuring a new mix by Christian Jacobsen - the Norwegian wizard who is internationally known for working with bands like Yum Yums, The Dahlmanns etc. 

2) "BAMBOOZLE", the album that is best know for including the covers of the hit "Japanese boy" and for its brilliant rendition of "How long will it take" originally by the Plimsouls is pressed on a beautiful red transparent vinyl.  

But what would have sufficed to any other band on the planet, is not enough for PSYCHOTIC YOUTH. On the top of those 2 reissues, the group just released what is probably its best record so far, its 14th album: FOREVER AND NEVER. And boy, what a record it is. Once again produced by Christian Jacobsen. this new record is firing on all cylinders and featuring 15 tracks (including 2 covers: Secret Service's "Ten O'Clock Postman" and The Messengers' "That's the Way a Woman Is") of classic power pop/surf-punk soon to be hits.  

If, like yours truly, you are a long time fan of PSYCHOTIC YOUTH, then this new album with hooks aplenty, big choruses, fat guitars  and swirling crumar organ will fill you with joy. If you are a new comer and want to have a taste of the real deal, FOREVER AND NEVER is the perfect place to start. This is an absolute must buy.



Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The Sino Hearts - Mandarin A Go-Go

THE SINO HEARTS are a brilliant 70s Punk Power Pop/Garage band based in Bejing, China.  Recently, Topsy Turvy Records released their second album 'Mandarin A-GOGO' which was recorded and produced in Austria, especially mixed and mastered on a vintage analogue tape machine. 
The album contains 10 fantastic new songs, taking their musical influences from 60's Garage, 70's Punk/Power Pop and little bit of Mod swagger thrown in for good measure. These Chinese punkers are just incredible and will absolutely blow your mind with their powerful music! Without any doubt this is the best Chinese rock'n'roll band. Here is a very enlightening conversation with ZHONG, mastermind behind the SINO HEARTS.

1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about The Sino Hearts to introduce yourselves? How long are you together as a band?  What is your musical background? Who is playing what instrument in the band nowadays? How did you come up with the name of the band? 

Hey Eric! First of all,thank you for this interview! Well, My name is Zhong and I formed The Sino Hearts back in 2014 when I was still living in Vienna, Austria. So the original members were Frank (Drums), Kasi (Bass), Fabian (Guitar) and me (Vox & Guitar) and we recorded a few songs and did open for several power pop or garage punk bands who came to play in Vienna. 

Around 2016 I decided to move back to Beijing and explore my musical career over there, because I moved to Vienna when I was very young and when I managed and played DEECRACKS China tour 2015, the development of the whole country was shocking, also along with the music scene. So I reformed with Chinese members and continued to play the old and new songs till now,because I wrote all the music and lyrics from the start.Current members are Xu on Drums and Li on Bass plus me as the guitarist and lead vocal. 

Well I used to study classical music back in Vienna, later moved to normal major like cultural communication at university of Vienna, besides I played bass guitar with local punk bands like Deecracks, Frankenstyle, 2nd class substitutes, Maltschicks Molodi and so on and went on tour and recorded albums with different groups. 

When I was in Vienna,I always went to little Chinatown to buy Asian foods and one of the spots was called Sino Supermarkt , I just pick this inspiration and as a big fan of power pop bands all good bands comes up with something with “Hearts”, so that’s how the band name came from. 

2) About this latest full length album "Mandarin A Go-Go" newly released on Soundflat, what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs? 

2019 was a very busy year,cuz we toured in South Korea and made my comeback tour back in Europe with the first full Chinese Line-up.In between the tour schedule we recorded this “Mandarin A Go-Go” Record at S.T.R.E.S.S Studio in Graz,Austria.

Our producer, Tom, was a good friend of mine and we are both music nerds, so I was totally into this recording session with his help.

We did several preparation back in Beijing in advance, like drums and bass for upcoming official European recording session, so besides the drums, I recorded everything in the studio as kinda of Dave Grohl person,cuz over the years through different music training, I could manage to do it in a short time.The whole album was recorded around maybe in only 5 days.

All the instruments were recorded separately and in a musical strictly way with overdubs for sure and Tom did the mix and mastering in 2 days I remembered,just like the Ramones first record,even it might sounds rough and imperfect,but it was all strictly well recorded and imperfection is the soul of Rock’n Roll music on my opinion.

3) Do you use the nowadays recording technology or do you guys only work with analog machines in analog studios?

We use both techniques actually,because that is a common thing in modern recording trend I guess.There were ton of original vintage gears at S.T.R.E.S.S studio in Graz and I picked like a 60's Vox & Fender Amps and 70's Marshall 800 and many others all time classics as my guitar tones with all 60's Beatles Recording Mic settings. During the mix and mastering process, Tom did it on the analog machines in order to get the sound we all obsessed with!

4) Is there a main composer in the band or is everybody involved in one way or another?

I wrote all the lyrics and music and do the arrangement with previous Austrian and now Chinese Band mates and now I am preparing the 3rd album including at least 15 songs,probably still needed to fly to Europe to get the real musical connection and authentic sound!

5) What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you write a new song?

I’m not only a big fan of 60's garage and 70's punk/power pop mods music ,but also very influenced by Viennese way of life. Mostly about loneliness and negative feeling of urban city life, musicality was catchy and happy, but when you look at the lyrics is the opposite.  

6) How would you describe the kind of music you guys are playing? If I were to call it "PowerPop", would you agree with this label or do you consider there is way more than that? 

Some of the tunes I guess they are PowerPop , but I don’t have any boundaries with good music. Because around 10 years ago I was still a chaos punk and playing D-beat opened for the casualties show in Vienna. We play melodic 70's influenced modern Garage Punk if there must be a label.

7) Do you have a new video on youtube featuring a track from the LP?? 


8) To what kind of music did you listen to as teenagers? What were your favorite bands as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have an influence on your own work today.

As a teenager around 2000's besides classic music like Rachmaninoff, Debussy. I listened to lots of new garage revival bands, hardcore punk, streetpunk stuffs. But it’s very hard to pick 3 bands,I’ll try.

1. Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers; 2. Rolling stones(Brian Jones era) 3. Exploding Hearts

9) What can concert goers expect at a Sino Hearts gig? Are you playing any famous cover songs during the set? 

Over the years touring we did cover numbers like Buzzcocks “Ever fallen in love”,the Zeros “Beat your heart out”,Exploding Hearts “Pretender” , Johnny Thunders “Get off the Phone”,Sex Pistols “Lonely Boy” and so on.

10) Is there a real rock'n'roll scene in China today? Are there any bands in the China today you consider yourself close to, musically speaking? 

Yes,China is a very strange combination between the different ideologies which leads to its cultural development too. Rock’n Roll scene here is still kinda very new and young people still getting involved a lot, most of the audience are under 22 years old which I think is very different from any other Rock’n Roll traditional countries. But the average level of music development is still not comparable with the west. I spent the most important times in Austria so I don’t feel close to any Chinese bands but there are few I could recommend to you and viewers of this blog.

Joyside (early days 70s punk and now Indie Rock) 

Bedstars (Garage Rock)

Run Run Run (lofi Krautrock)

New Pants (New Wave)

11) What are the plans for the rest of 2020 and for 2021 as far as The Sino Hearts are concerned? 

We are gonna play a festival next weekend at a big concert hall in Beijing, cuz the corona outbreak is under control in China whatever people outside believe or not. And keep working on new songs for the 3rd album and let’s see when the normal world is back on track again then we could have fun on touring as we used to have. 

12) Anything you wanna add?

Hope everybody stay safe and healthy and please wear the masks!hahaha