Wednesday, 27 May 2009

The Starkweather Fix - What The Swedish Butler Heard

Here is the only CD my first real band put out. We started in December of 1991. In 1993 - then known as Starkweather - we put out a 90 minute tape called 'This Band Has Seconds To Live'. At some point we changed the band's name to The Starkweather Fix* and that is how it appears on our 1996 CD, released on N.A.R. (as was the subject of the last post, Ocosi).

I could go into way too much detail about this record, but I'm a terrible judge of what is relevant or even interesting; I'm just too close to the thing. So let me simply run down who's playing what, I'll stick up some reviews to provide a clearer picture afterward, and we'll leave it at that.

The band -- Lt. Fucker Bob guitar, Neeler Peeler bass, Jay Matuschka drums, and yours truly vocal microphone. Also Slim Tornado saxophone, Nervous Rex space guitar on 'Edin Na Zu', Randy Groin (who also recorded the record) x-tra guitar on 'Quickie', and finally Art Martian numerous cut-ups and mini-mixes throughout the record.

The Starkweather Fix -- WHAT THE SWEDISH BUTLER HEARD [Neg. Air Research]

In a page ripped straight from the Oblivians' Playbook o' Dirty Trix, these guys got my immediate attention with the CD cover: a gawgeous woman with truly enormous hooters and a big, black... microphone... sandwiched between said golden globes. So right away we know they are shameless. Flip the case over and check out the titles... "Miss September," "Fucked Up," "Girl With a Toke," "Eerie Psychosexual History," "Easy Lay," "Dirty Fuck"... ah, they must be a trashy garage band!

They also have mighty odd ideas about how trashy garage rock is played, which is actually more interesting that all the lowbrow scuzziness imparted from the CD graphics. For one thing, they appear to have two bass players; they also have a guitarist, although he doesn't seem to play very often -- i get this great image of them all bouncing around the practice room while the guitarist stands around smoking Lucky Strikes and every so often he goes, "Oh yeah, i got this here guitar strapped on, i guess maybe i should, like, PLAY something" -- at which point he generally rips off crazed runs like one of Buck Owens' stellar sidemen possessed by the Satan of Surf. They also have a sick fondness for connecting the short blasts o' primal steak with odd bits culled from bad science fiction flicks, which is truly hilarous. This last bit really turns into an art of its own on the last track "Edin Na Zu," in which -- after spending 24 tracks play stripped-down short blasts of trashy rock and roll, they reveal their REAL ambition: to be the poor man's drunken Yes, waffling on in a rambling, stoned jam for a time roughly equal to all the rest of the songs put together, interspersing said rambling with occasional deluded (and hilarious) quotes from more bad cinema. A stroke of sheer fucking genius if you ask me.

So let's see... highlights.... the lurching, death-metal-meets- rockabilly groove of "Fucked Up"; the jumpin' sock-hop groove whose wasted innocence is quickly soiled by the dirty lyrics in "Mutant Cock Rock" (which features a tremendously nifty guitar solo worthy o' Dick Dale); the jumpy bass throbbing of "Shiveraltitude," followed by the guitar wailing that pops up midway through, sounding like the wailing at the end of "Spirit in the Sky," only as done by someone drinking lots of high-tension booze. Then there's the eerie, ominous bass rumbling and creepy arppegiated guitar squealings of "Tourniquet"; the grinding roar and feedback of "Eerie Psychosexual History," which sounds like maybe they managed to set the amps on fire while playing; the crawling kingsnake shuffle of "Death Trip"; more Oblivians-style raving on "Too Late"; more time-warp sonic trashiness in "Bad Back".... Jeez, the whole disc is pretty damn suave, although they get a little to excited for their own good (not to mention listenability) on the hyperkinetic "look at how fast we can play!" numbers, which are thankfully few and far between. These drunken white trash scumlords are better at the slow groove thing....

It must be said: This would be excellent background music for taking over a hotel party on the thirteenth floor to drink all their beer, open the windows, and test the dynamics of Einstein's Theory of Gliding Hotel Furniture. Strictly BYOB, though... i get the feeling they don't share....

- The Moon Unit, fr. DEAD ANGEL #26 (ezine) 6/97

A few years back, four nice, polite, somewhat shy boys from Motown, Ont., (a.k.a. the 'Shwa) created a controversy within these very pages. Somehow, their decision to name their own homemade pop group after the infamous American serial killer Charles Starkweather managed to flood the eye office with mail. Immoral! Obscene! Outrageous! the letters cried. These four sweet lads were cast as "sick, perverted fuckers" by complete and utter strangers. As sad as this injustice is, it could have been a lot worse. Imagine if any one of these decency-patrol officers had actually heard Starkweather. Blood would surely have been shed.

The Starkweather Fix (name changed due to legal intimidation from similiarly monikered U.S. groups) throw down pure garage-punk raunch over the 73 minutes of their debut disc. There are plenty of two-chord odes to sickness and perversion such as "Mutant Cock Rock" and "Easy Lay", but those who take the narrow view and have written Starkweather off as mere purveyors of stupid, sloppily executed filth may be surprised. A lot of the material here shows a band that has evolved beyond that stage, as heard on their home-dubbed demo tape from 1994 (a Can-indie classic, in my incidental opinion). The addition of the tenor sax adds a wallop of free jazz/R&B chaos to the already lurching rave-ups on the opening track "Miss September" and surefire party hit "The Bushwhack".

The track that strikes me the most is "Apocalypse Revisted", which features Fucker Bob's eerie surf guitar over Neeler Peeler and Jay Matuschka's pulsing Velveteen rhythm. Pius Panzram's lyrics describe the internalization of the nuclear threat within our generation better than anyone else has (including Mr. Gen-X himself, Douglas Coupland). Observe: "Mushroom clouds are nostalgic to me/Paranoia doom all I hear or see/memories of WWIII to be". Nukes are no longer an immediate threat, but have become a latent, more insidious one.

The Starkweather Fix may be sick and twisted perverts, but they are also smart fuckers. And they are blessed with a sense of humor, of which no further illustration is required than the cover of this CD. The letter campaign begins now, good citizens.

- Jonathan Patrick, eye (Jan. 30, 1997).

Just in time for Valentine's Day, Durham Region porn pundits The Starkweather Fix ejaculate 73 minutes of lurid, lascivious libido that will offend just about everybody (more than once I found myself raising my hand to my mouth and saying, "oh my"). Debauchery prevails and sexual mores are of course obliterated, but what surprises me is t.s.f.'s refined musicality. Their rock-a-billy tunes are nastier, their blues tunes dirtier, and punk songs tighter. In addition, they even get experimental with some groovy stuff and other altogether weird shit. Still, the best way I can describe What The Swedish Butler Heard is the rendered sound of William Burroughs, Russ Meyer, David Chronenberg, and Ron Jeremy playing strip poker.

- Dylan Brisebois, The Gargoyle (Feb. 13, 1997).

It's rude, it's crude, it's lewd, it's the debut CD from the swamp bred and raunch fed Starkweather Fix. A bubbling blob of sex, surf and swing. It's called What The Swedish Butler Heard. It puts the dirty back in rock 'n' roll. It is sexual mutants dating dilinquent deviants. It's a date with yourself. It's David Lynch and Tim Burton in a trailerpark stripjoint. It's discovering your Dad's porno collection. It's Larry Flint Vs. Dick Dale, Henry Miller Vs. The Cramps. It's in and it's out...and back in again. It was known as Starkweather. The whipping boys of the Purple Toads and any number of 60s garage bands added to their moniker before they had to. It is Pius Panzram, Lt. Bob, Neeler Peeler and Jay Matushka finally after four years getting laid on disc. Their debut cassette from 1993 This Band Has Only Seconds To Live only hinted at what this band would become. In the interim Starkweather Fix have become a staple in the southern Ontario centrefold. They have gigged with Local Rabbits, Suckerpunch, Hanson Bros. and Nimrod. A total of five compilations feature their contributions and the band have enough studio outakes for a whole other album to be released in the near future. Starkweather Fix picked up $500 in a garage wars by playing fifteen songs in seventeen minutes. It's seventy three minutes, twenty five songs, the twenty fifth twenty five minutes long. All original, all new, one cover of co-locals The Brown's 'Sugar Goat', one ab-lib recorded live at the Different Drum coffee shop in downtown Oshawa. Slim Tornado, Art Martian, Nervous Rex and Randy Groin all contribute to the frenzied aural orgy. It's behind the bikeshed lyrics, unprintable song titles and controversial art. It's all in fun. It's sex-positive rock n' roll. It can be yours. It's at any record store that knows good rock n' roll. It is released on Negative Air Research Records, co-operated with producer and former Voodoo Chicken Andy Owen. But that's, as the man on Tales From The Riverbank would say, another story.

- Will McGuirk, The Woolly Toque E-Zine (March 1997).

Back in the infancy of rock'n'roll, Howlin' Wolf recorded "Evil (Is Going On)". Music has changed, punk was born, Charles Lester died (may he RIP), but now a new Chuck is here: the Starkweather Fix, and they're as evil as evil be. Formerly known as just Starkweather, the band started out as a garage band winning garage band contests by playing 15 songs in 17 minutes...or was that 17 in 15? If that wasn't fast enough, their first release was a lo-fi tape called This Band Has Seconds To Live. Besides being liars, these guys are the baddest lyrical perverts around. The sound is brooding punk and '50's dirt. Songs like "The Bushwhack", "Death Trip", "Easy Lay", "Dirty Fuck", and "Mutant Cock Rock" make Howard Stern look like the mama's boy he really is, and that's why I like this disc. It's heavy and fun, it makes me want to booze and dance, two chords really are enough, it scares my mother, they play faster than the Ramones, and the CD has tits on the cover.

- Chris B. Dunk, Exclaim (June 1997).

The Starkweather Fix - What The Swedish Butler Heard (1996)

*to avoid confusion with the US hardcore band Starkweather.

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