Saturday, 24 July 2021

PODCAST #69 Brad Wallace (Orchid, Wolves, Transistor Transistor, etc)

Relatively recently I contacted my friend Steve Roche about a contact for members of TRANSISTOR TRANSISTOR. After a quick exchange I was hooked up with Brad Wallace from said band, as well as Orchid, Wolves, Bucket Full Of Teeth and Hells. Prior to this podcast we hashed out details to release 'Erase All Name And Likeness' on a run of tapes through Zegema Beach Records and on Monday those sexy beasts shall see the light of day. Brad was super nice and very forthcoming with stories, anecdotes and tangents, including: screaming with ski masks on, rockin' Bon Jovi, being Will Killingsworth's first student, Orchid's formation, opinions on "screamo", favourite Wolves show, touring Europe, Bucket Full Of Teeth origins, who is the Riffmaster?, how to navigate labels in the 2000s, how he joined Transistor Transistor, practicing after Cave In, Level Plane Records, Transistor Transistor swirl tapes!, the mark of a good drummer, writing long songs for no reason, being accused of piss cup switches, screamo lifers, fan questions and lots more. Bands played in this podcast: A Paramount A Love Supreme, Crossed Out, .gif from god, In/Humanity, Ruhaeda and Sleepytime Trio. Listen to podcast #69 which is available to stream and/or download for free via this link.


'Erase All Name And Likeness' cassette go live Monday July 26th, 2021 @Zegema Beach Records

Zegema Beach Records

CROSSED OUT "Practiced Hatred" (Brad)
RUHAEDA "Onomatopaiea" (Dave)

SLEEPYTIME TRIO "Jesus Extract" (Brad)
A PARAMOUNT, A LOVE SUPREME "Catastrophizing" (Dave)

IN/HUMANITY "Double Digit Fun" (Brad)
.GIF FROM GOD "Technology Will Kill You 111111" (Dave)

no music



PODCAST #69 linked here

Friday, 23 July 2021

***PRIZE THE DOUBT exclusive premiere***


"People Magazine"
exclusive song premiere
For fans of
Victor Shores, Snowing and You'll Live

Oh damn remember PRIZE THE DOUBT from this blog? I did a huge discography write-up back in November of 2017 (linked here) with all six releases over the (then) eight years of existence. Well they're back, complete with stylistic shift away from the screamy metallic hardcore, instead embracing very chill emo/rock/pop-punk. And it works. Jam that sucker below if you like Victor Shores and other Skeletal Lightning stuff. Those vocals in particular really lend themselves well to the music, and it's catchy as fuck. There is no planned physical release so some labels may want to hit this band up asap.

Upcoming Local Show: Sept 11, 9PM @ Spacebar

Streaming all Platforms: Early August 

(2021) PRIZE THE DOUBT "People Magazine"


Wednesday, 21 July 2021

PODCAST #68 Matsuri + Hawak

Open your nostalgia box for this MATSURI podcast with members of HAWAK!

I've been online friends with Thomas of Matsuri and Hawak for ages so to finally chat was amazing, and meeting Jon and Chris was equally heart-melting. I asked them for a little writeup, which I've included as a huge note on the history of the band, check it out at the bottom of this page! HAWAK  has been kicking my ass since their demo EP, so to help with the upcoming 12"LP 'nuoc' was a fucking dream come true. It releases in August on Zegema Beach Records (who recently released the massive double cassette discography for MATSURI with a few variants remaining) and Dog Knights Productions. And yes, the records are already in hand. If you want info on all that as well as: N.A.R.E., Deers!, Matsuri's history, unreleased songs, each members' favourite show, that time they didn't play with Kidcrash, favourite Matsuri merch, favourite bands that Matsuri played with, seeing Ruhaeda, Weird Al and UHF, Bright Calm Blue, what happened to Mark Chen?, mosh retirement, D.I.Y. as you get older, Hawak and lineup changes / the 12" / delays / what's next, and tons more. Listen to podcast #68 which is available to stream and/or download for free via this link.


"Burden Sharing" from 'nuoc' 12"LP

VIA FONDO "Var inte rädd, min vän" (Dave)

Kali Uchis "telepatía // acoustic" (Thomas)
MANELI JAMAL "Us Against Them" (live)" (Dave) video linked here!!!

NO TONGUE "Sad Contest" (Jon)

SPY "Violent Majority" (Chris)



PODCAST #68 linked here

List of Members:
Chris Gough - guitar, vocals
Thomas Nguyen - guitar, vocals
Jared Mills - bass
Jonathan Ruiz - percussion, vocals
Andrew Yeung - guitar, vocals
Patrick Heintz (left during US tour 09') - drums
Ryan Fleischer (live bass during Endship period) - bass
Almost 9 years ago in February of 2012, Matsuri played our last show at Storey House in Santa Cruz, CA. This would be the end of a 6-year journey that consisted of dozens of shows and tours, multiple lineup changes, two splits, two EPs, and one epic full length. While looking back at this collection of songs and memories certainly shows the evolution of this band as musicians and artists, it also gives context for the struggle to create an identity of genuine expression and art in response to the limiting paradigm of the music industry during the late 2000s. Matsuri started as a four piece in 2006, playing out of the garage of the then current drummer Pat Heintz. The band focused on finding their process of writing music, heavily influenced by Bay Area bands like Under a Dying Sun, Portraits of Past, Funeral Diner and Loma Prieta. The first EP, “Whales”, comprehensively took over a year to write and record, as we thought we needed to have music in physical medium for anyone to take the band seriously. It was recorded in 2007 at the Atomic Garden with Jack Shirley and unbeknownst to us would be the last time the band recorded at a professional studio.  After playing a few local shows it was quickly apparent that the production companies in San Jose had little interest in what your band sounded like, but more about how many people you could draw. I recall meeting with one promoter who kept on “giving us the chance” to draw more people at the next show, throwing Matsuri on bills with hardcore and metalcore bands that the local scene was saturated with. After playing 3 pay-to-play shows at various spaces in San Jose, we realized that if we wanted to continue doing what we wanted we would need to find a way to do it ourselves, which was a decision that would carry through all the way to the end of the band’s existence. The last show we played for that particular promoter ended up being one that we booked ourselves, and the promoter did not reach out to have Matsuri play again.

Around this time, Myspace was starting to get very popular as one of the first forms of social media and it opened the doors to connecting with like minded folks that were more interested in DIY and punk rather than the pay to play system that was so popular in local scenes around America. It allowed us to make connections with bands like Moldar and Home is Colored Gold, who would become very close friends for the years after. It also allowed us to promote our shows and new releases without needing to depend on a promoter or label, which in a way enabled the shift to embracing DIY culture and truly feeling like we were more in control of where the band was taking us. We were able to book our first west coast tour almost entirely online, albeit most of the shows were at bars. The important part of this first rough year was that we were learning how to exist in a world where we did not feel like we fit in, and through the kindness of strangers found a niche where we were welcomed in friendship. One of the early shows that sticks out in memory was getting to open for Comadre (a band we all looked up to a lot), Trainwreck and Graf Orlock, where we were referred to as a “sloppy skramz band” in a review of the show later. While we were very confused at the time (none of us had seen the word “skramz” before) this was a spot-on description of the band in its current state. We were still trying to figure out what our live shows felt like and the juxtaposition of rehearsal versus playing live was something none of us knew how to address except to keep on trying until it worked out. While the show was an incredible opportunity in itself, the significance of the show was meeting a band from Sacramento called Deers! whom we would do a split with later and become close friends. We felt that we had finally connected with the people that we wanted to share music with and Matsuri was finally starting to become a band we could take seriously.

In 2008 Tomm and his partner Trish, Jared, and Pat moved into a house in San Jose that had a detached garage that we could use as a practice space. This gave us the freedom to write and record when we wanted and would be the main creative space we would occupy for the next 4 years. The next 3 songs that were written for the Deers! split were recorded in this space as our first attempt at recording ourselves. This was where the philosophy of recording each song live together and then adding vocals later started, which in hindsight is a lot more difficult to do than multitracking at just about every level of the recording process. We felt like the recordings sounded much more “organic” and genuinely how we wanted our songs to be heard. We would spend hours playing the same song over and over until we felt like we had a really good take, and then layer the vocals on a different day. This process became refined over the years but was still very difficult to manage. The early recordings, even on Whales (which we recorded live with dry tracks and then added in overdrive/effects later), had a lot of mistakes in it that were very reminiscent of the screamo recordings of the 90s that we had grown up with. The Deers! side of the split was also done this way in the practice space, which is what gives this split such a raw feeling when listening to it. The split was released on CD-R, with hand drawings on each copy and a screen printed paper lunch bag. We also created a split shirt with an old picture of a deer and a unicorn printed in green on bright orange shirts, mostly designed and printed by Tomm. Around this time we got to play more shows with bands that shared our DIY philosophy, and booked a few more short west coast tours to play with new found friends.

In 2009, Matsuri started playing bigger shows around the Bay Area with bands like Comadre, Drowning with our Anchors, Mans, Loma Prieta, the New Trust, some very early Touche Amore shows to name a few. We would trade shows with our friends in southern California like Moldar, ColorChromatic and Calculator as well, with bands making short trips up and down the coast always looking for a place to play. Eventually Mark from Moldar asked us if we would be interested in a full US tour, which would be the longest trip either band had made. We quickly accepted and got busy trying to book the entire tour without any outside help. The summer of 2009 was a huge turning point for all of us, where before we were in our relative comfort zone we had never played away from the west coast before. We would meet friends in Texas that would later form Innards, meet our “label mates” (on Affinity Index) Adobe Homes in New Mexico, play with MWNA on the East coast in a Delaware boatyard, and many more friends that we would keep in contact with for years and years afterwards. Pat left the band in the middle of the tour, with Brian Chan from Moldar filling in on drums for the rest of the journey. This was an event that shocked us to our core, a feeling of betrayal that would become a theme in our lyrics for the rest of the band’s time. It was a time where we were emotionally, mentally and physically pushed to our absolute limit and somehow came home in one piece. The last show of the tour was at a space in Oakland which would later feel like our second home called the Hive, playing one of the first shows for a band called Life Moves, which would later have Sean from Loma Prieta join and become Beau Navire. The weeks after the tour we spent with Moldar writing and recording the first song we wrote with Andrew Yeung as the third guitar, with Brian recording the drum parts for the Matsuri side of the split with Moldar. The song was called Horsemask, and it set the precedent for how we would approach music for the next couple of years, with many of the self-assigned tropes of the band starting to come out in our song structure and tone of each song. The split was a one-sided 12in record, each hand screened on the blank side of the record with a running horse. The release was packaged in manila envelopes that were screened on two sides, with a DVD of footage from our US tour that had been compiled by Andrew and a poster. Andrew joined the band full time as the third guitarist, and our friend Jon Ruiz, who had played in a band called Of the Sun and then recorded a demo at the house with a two piece called Kwisatz Haderach, joined as our new drummer after much consideration to keep the band going.

The next couple years I can only recall in a blur, as we all became very busy. This massive tour had opened our eyes to what was possible with the garage we were using as a practice space and we were determined to become fully involved in all things punk and DIY. The house became known as Texas Toast house and started hosting shows to touring bands that were not popular enough to play at the “bigger” venues in the Bay Area yet. We started playing very regularly with bands like Ten Thousand Leagues (LA), Ordstro (SF), Dead Man (Oakland), Beau Navire, John Cota, Burn Idols (LA), Duck Little Brother, Duck! (PDX), and Di Bravura (Sac) as well as a ton of touring bands that wanted to play with us at the house. Once the house started getting noticed we became closer with Mike Park and Asian Man Records, who was very interested and excited about seeing all ages DIY shows in San Jose just a few blocks from his house. This also got us closer to our friends in the Albert Square and the Pillowfights, who were as far on the opposite end of the music genre spectrum from screamo and hardcore as you could get. We started a label under the same name (Texas Toast DIY) to release records for our friends’ bands and projects, making just enough money to release something new, often paying for costs out of our own pockets. The philosophy for shows at the house was that these would be all ages and donation only, with all money collected going to the touring bands and any left over to any of the local bands that played. We hosted shows for bands like Algernon Cadwallader, 1994!, Pianos Become the Teeth, Ghastly City Sleep, Joyce Manor, Classics of Love, Godstomper, Hard Girls, Dead to Me and Big Kids at this house in the suburbs of San Jose with each show feeling more surreal than the last. It became a space for younger people to come around and see live music even if they couldn’t afford it, a place where we all felt like we could relax and enjoy the experience of live music without the stigma of an “official” venue. In between all this manic activity over the course of 2010 and 2011 we managed to continue touring the west coast, touring with Ordstro several times and a memorable tour with our friend Mo under the name Fatherlonesome. We would play with bands like the Saddest Landscape, Deafheaven, Duke Nukem Forever, and Lemuria at larger venues, but always attempting to play on the floor instead of a stage in our stubborn commitment to DIY. After writing 7 songs with Jon and Andrew, none of which would be officially released, we began writing our last release called Endship.

Endship was so aptly named, as it was the culmination of all the years we had spent playing and touring together in music form. It combines all the best things about Matsuri with incredibly steep dynamics, complex rhythms driven by linear song structure, and chaotic vocals intertwining through it all. We spent over a year writing and recording the record, putting everything we had into it as it would be our first full length. The idea originally was to have the entire record “bleed” seamlessly into itself, with each song moving into the next with little interruption to create a larger experience. The first half of the record is the best example of that idea, with the section we started calling the “4-part-er” which would rarely get played out of order during live sets. The song titles of this part of the record was a throwback to a chant from the song “nunu” off of Whales, and lyrically many of the themes from that original release came back in some form throughout the record. The second half of the record feels less cohesive, but definitely more punctuated than the first half. Highly Successful, Poorly Executed and Ear to the Rail became staple songs in our live sets as they fit in just about anywhere in the set but were written to be played as a pair. The three guitars playing in harmony during Highly Successful was the most difficult thing to record on the album, as it required all of us to play in sync perfectly to get a good take. We were rehearsing 2-3 times a week for several months trying to get the perfect take for the live recording, and was the most grueling experience any of us had been a part of (probably still is). The rest of the records hits very hard and fast, with Endship and Make.Use.Hope actually being adapted from a side project that Jon and Tomm had started during the time we were recording the album to become full Matsuri songs. The last song was completely improvised on the day we recorded it, with very little practice outside of what we wanted to record. Endship was released with our close friend Erick Saenz via Affinity Index and Texas Toast DIY, and we once again did not hold back on packaging. We created our own gatefold covers by cutting up old record sleeves and stitching cloth or canvas into the cardboard covers. Then it was screen printed on both panels of the gatefold and the front.  It also included a zine with all the lyrics to the songs as well as our own pages to add personal thank you’s and acknowledgements. There were many nights spent cutting and sewing and printing as we struggled to assemble all the records and get them out to the folks that wanted them. There were many variants to the cover (later we had a simpler packaging when we ran out of materials with a different cover altogether) and there are still a few left without any jackets at all. It was an incredibly ambitious project that really burned us all out by the end of it, but we were all happy with the end result.

At the end of 2011 we were kicked out of our house as it was set to be remodeled after a bunch of altercations with our next door neighbors who hated the noise and attention our house attracted. The garage was torn down and Texas Toast DIY faded away without a main base of operations. The last release from the small label was for Leer’s Spring Break No Parents in collaboration with Lauren Records and Phat n Phunky a year later. Everything kind of fell apart all at once, with the house going away the band struggled to find a regular rehearsal space and the feeling of being burnt out by the demands of our jobs on top of the demands of the band. At one point the band was playing shows without a bass player at all, with just 3 guitars filling in that sonic space. We decided to end the band as we were all struggling, but weren’t able to find a way to do a proper send off. The last show Matsuri played was never officially a last show, but nonetheless was an incredibly cathartic experience. All our friends from all over the state came to Santa Cruz that night, and we played one of the most intense sets the band had ever performed. This band taught us how to be better people and gave us lifetimes of friendships, and helped us all find the place where we could feel loved and accepted. I am incredibly proud of all the things we accomplished and grateful for all the people I’ve met through DIY and punk. I hope that this discography release is the final send off that we never felt like we quite managed for Matsuri, true to form with a million variants and wacky packaging.