‘Lets Kill Rock and Roll’ is the umpteenth studio album from The Erotics but this one is with a twist and boy does the twist suit The Erotics. In early 2020, The Erotics began writing and rehearsing a batch of new songs set to become the band’s next record. As the songs streamed out of Mike Trash’s fretboard, the band frantically rehearsed and defined all the details of the songs, working to batten down the hatches for the rapidly approaching studio date of Feb 20,2020.
Of course, never being a band to play it safe, The Erotics decided to do the only sensible thing: throw caution to the wind and invite a contingent of dedicated fans to Don Fury Studio to take part in a live recording of 12…no make that 13…wait, on second thought, how about 14 brand new songs! It’s rough, it’s raw but with a Rocky Balboa punch it’s sleazy, it’s glamourous but of course, its got that dirty punk rock attitude you want from The Erotics. If you’re already a fan then you should know what to expect and if this is your first tentative footsteps into the world of Mike Trash and his band The Erotics then welcome on board. Opening with the title track proper notwithstanding the instrumental opening the invited guests howl their approval as the guitars get louder and a little rawer (if that’s possible) It’s a brave move unleashing new tunes on fans live in the studio and capturing the performance like this but the DC inspired ‘Lie My Way Into Hell’ is hauling around a fair sized pair of rock and roll bollocks that swing to the beat right up to the middle eight and breakdown post dueling guitars.
I hope there were monitor wedges for these Rockers to put their feet on as they throw out the shapes as ‘Lie My Way’ leads into the powerful ‘Monday Morning Meltdown’ but there’s no time to rest as the band speed off with the ‘Head Of The Low Class’. The beauty of The Erotics is they keep it simple and stick to exactly what they’re good at and are clearly comfortable with. Man ‘You’re History’ even has cowbell to go with the sleazy cockrock riffage and we all know you can’t get too much cowbell. We head out on a rollercoaster ride of fast and more solid Rock tunes and when ‘Wrong Kind Of Love’ ends the audience sounds like they’re having a real blast.
Our Man Dan Kasm had this to say about the release,
“Live albums are a mixed bag really. The true greats are stand out bodies of work, an advert swaying the consumer to purchase tickets at their earliest opportunity, and the rest pale in comparison. Unfortunately, this particular release falls into category B.
I’m not very familiar with the Erotics apart from the odd track, but always liked what I had heard with a mental note to pursue them further. Hoping that a live album would make a good introduction to their work and overall sound. The album takes a few tracks to finally get going, ‘Monday Morning Meltdown’ having a fantastic groove but perhaps not selling itself in the best way on this recording. There are some great guitar licks here but they sound almost stifled in overly safe sound mix.
The strongest song on the album for me has to be ‘The Wrong Kind of Love Song’. A definite future single that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Michael Monroe album.
The album finishes with the introduction of the self-proclaimed heaviest song on the record ‘Fighting Like Cats and Dogs’. The riffs are pure AC/DC in parts but the song is a little too short and leaves you feeling short-changed.
I’d definitely consider seeing the Erotics live but this recording has left me lukewarm. Kiss Alice II it is not.”
We’re going old school this monday with Mickey Leigh’s ‘Two Kinds Of Law’ the Legendary NYC musician (Birdland, The Rattlers, etc) and acclaimed author (“I Slept with Joey Ramone”) Mickey Leigh is debuting “Two Kinds of Law” a powerful and timely new single with his band MUTATED MUSIC.
The track (inspired by a line in Truman Capote’s ‘In Cold Blood’ and a quote from a Martin Luther King Jr. speech) and its newly-released music video are now streaming everywhere. Facebook
Second out the traps is Rob Moss and Skin-Tight Skin with ‘Push Back’. Moss is back with his first recording in more than 35 years! Along for the ride are musicians from Generation X, Government Issue, Wilco, Velvet Monkeys, Dinosaur Jr, Scream, Foo Fighters, Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, Fear, The Four Horsemen, Willie Alexander and the Boom Boom Band, Smash Fashion, The Slickee Boys and many more! Album review is coming!
Finally how about this absolute banger from The Raging Nathans
Hello again, RPM-people, it’s been a while. A limited skirmish with a failing hard drive meant that I lost the first attempt at this article for the cultured readers of this fine web-based tome and, as with all tortured artists, I found myself shaking a fist at the Gods of technology rather than simply getting back on the horse and writing it again while the effortless cool (possibly) was still fresh in my mind. This article’s featured item was going nowhere, however, so new words about old stuff came easy.
Now, if you’re hitting up this webzine regularly then I would imagine that you are well-versed in all forms of rock ‘n’ roll rebellion; trouble is, many of those rebels that litter our record collections are now asking for new dress socks on gig riders or peddling butter on shit TV channels. With that in mind I have had to roll back the decades to find, not only a true rebel of the music business, but also an item of music memorabilia that is as decadent as it is delicious.
And that’s where Andy Gibb comes in.
“Andy Gibb?!” I hear the RPM head honcho exclaim as this hits his inbox like the late Scott Columbus hit those cymbals in Manowar’s ‘Blow Your Speakers’ music video, the Double Diamond tearing at the neck of his Maiden shirt, Ozzy-style. Hear me out: Andrew Roy Gibb was a true rock ‘n’ pop tearaway, and the ultimate piece of merchandise released to tie-in with his all-too-short career is collectable excess par plastic excellence. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…
Andy Gibb was the youngest of the Gibb kids: brother to Barry, Robin, Maurice, and forever-forgotten sister, Lesley. He was born in Manchester, was raised in Australia until the age of eight before the Family Gibb returned to the UK. When his brothers were looking nailed-on for pop stardom, Andy was looking for trouble: he quit school at the age of thirteen and, armed with an acoustic guitar given to him by big bro Barry, he toured the clubs of Ibiza and the Isle of Wight (both places where his parents lived at some point). He was married, divorced, and had fathered a child before he was even out of his teens. Minor pop stardom came a-calling when he returned to Australia, but it was when Bee Gees manager, Robert Stigwood, signed him to his label and persuaded him to relocate to Florida that things really started to take off for Andy Gibb.
With Barry producing, and Joe Walsh guesting on guitar for a couple of tracks, Andy’s debut album, ‘Flowing Rivers’, sold over a million copies and, by the time the lead single from his second long player, 1978’s ‘Shadow Dancing’, hit the top spot, he had become the first male solo artist to have three consecutive Number One singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. He dated Dallas star, Victoria Principal, starred on Broadway in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, sang with Queen (on a version of the song, ‘Play The Game’, which has never seen commercial release, with some believing that a recording doesn’t actually exist), and co-hosted American television music show, Solid Gold. He would, however, be fired from both the television and Dreamcoat gigs due to absenteeism, with the blame laid firmly at the door of his cocaine binges. The fall was rapid. Guest appearances on US shows Gimme A Break! and Punky Brewster followed, as did gigs in Vegas, but Andy was now tabloid fodder; the Betty Ford Center now a date on his tour itinerary.
In early 1988 it was announced that Andy would become an official member of the Bee Gees – the six-legged tooth machine mutating into quite the quartet – but it was never to be: just two days after his thirtieth birthday in March of that year, Andy was hospitalized in Oxford complaining of chest pains. He died on March 10th as a result of myocarditis; an inflammation of the heart muscle caused by years of cocaine abuse.
Dying young is a sad by-product of rock ‘n’ roll excess the history of which many of you are well-versed in, I’m sure; but I am here to wax lyrical on music-related memorabilia (I had to get there eventually!) so I have to roll everything back to 1979, when Andy was on the covers of teen magazines, on the walls of pop-smeared children’s bedrooms, and on the Toy Fair brochures of the Ideal Toy Company.
Now, there’s a saying amongst the elite of vintage toy collectors that goes, and I’m paraphrasing here, “buy mint and you buy once, buy not mint and you buy many times.” I’m not sure of the exact words because I always scoff when I hear it as, in my humble opinion, it is utter bollocks. Who wouldn’t pick up something über-cool for their shelf because some bloke on the internet has one in better condition? Not me, and that’s why I back-flipped all the way to Nerdtopia when I found myself a vintage Andy Gibb doll.
In 1979, Ideal graced the toy shelves of the coolest US stores with the Andy Gibb ‘Disco Dancin’ With The Stars’ doll. There is, in collector circles, many a debate over whether a toy is a doll or an action figure: never call a middle-aged white guy’s Action Man a doll for Gawd’s sake! Well, let me tell you, the Disco Dancin’ Andy Gibb toy is a doll. He came packaged in neon-littered box art with the supreme tagline: “move him to a disco beat on his dancin’ disc!” Yes, the disco dance stand that came packaged with the doll would actually move mini-Andy’s feet so that it looked like he was actually disco dancing. Sublime Seventies innovation, right there.
Thing is, I don’t have the box. Or the stand. Forgive me, men in sensible footwear in village hall toy fairs the length and breadth of the UK. I do have a mint condition Andy Gibb ‘Disco Dancin’ With The Stars’ doll still attached to its original box inlay, though, so I guess I’m still a winner at life. Also, someone, in their confused wisdom, decided that penning “one of the Bee Gees” on the back of said box inlay was going to help with the identification of this toy. All it did, however, was make me love it even more. Who needed to read that curious inscription anyway? The doll is wearing a lurid pink waistcoat with the “Andy Gibb” logo printed on it!
So let’s recap: a mint condition (save for a few age-related garment marks) Andy Gibb doll, still attached to its original cardboard inlay, wearing a white jumpsuit and pink waistcoat, and with a piece of inked graffiti completely lacking in irony administered to its forever home? Who the frig wouldn’t want one of those?! Not me!
This toy sits happily in my collection alongside the Sonny Bono, Cher, ABBA, KISS, Boy George, Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper, Sex Pistols, and Elvis toys and, do you know what? They all get along. Now, if we all just got along a little better then this revolving rock that we call home would be a little easier to negotiate. Not those people who told me not to buy the Andy Gibb doll because it didn’t have the box, though – they can fuck off.
I’ll be back as soon as possible, technology permitting, with more curios from the Pop Culture Schlock collection. I might even get my studded wristband back out for the next installment. Thanks for reading, keep watching the skies and, most importantly, don’t be a twat!
Its early March 2020 and Bristol based rock band Mother Vulture are really moving, fresh off hometown supports with Michael Monroe, Ugly Kid Joe and Bokassa, they’ve just played their 2nd only show in London to rapturous reviews (see below) and booked a bunch of Summer festivals including headlining the Rising Stage at Ramblin’ Man so it’s time to start planning the release of their debut album.
And then the world kinda stopped. They retreated to Bristol, some to key worker jobs, some to no jobs, and had a
think. Live is where they’d built their rep and back in September ’19 they’d been invited to Rockfield Studios in
Monmouth to record a session for the Abbey Road Institute France. They recorded the entire session completely live,
just pressed record and didn’t hold back, they performed a true MV show. With no gigs meaning no income, all of the band’s remaining money have gone into producing 100 limited edition vinyl copies of this session, produced, mixed and mastered by the band. It’s rough and ready and not without its imperfections but they believe it most accurately represents what it’s like to experience their live sound and energy. The album features 5 previously released tracks & 6 new tracks and is available to pre-order from www.mothervulture.uk Each vinyl ordered will be personalised / numbered, vinyl and digital purchases will also include an extended version of the album, not available through streaming. At a time where live music is virtually non-existent this a vital reminder of what’s on the other side of this.
Now you know we don’t normally approve of Rush making it onto the pages of RPM but we do approve of Autogramm being here and when they covered Rush how could we say no. Check out this cheeky cover and admit Rush never sounded so good.
Autogramm recorded this RUSH cover just for fun, when they were bored and stuck at home (in Chicago and Vancouver) because of COVID social distancing and quarantining. All proceeds from sales going to local non-profit RAVEN Trust (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs) a legal fund that defends Indigenous rights in Canaduh. Find it on all of your favorite digital platforms now!
When Vancouver’s infectious power-pop-trio Autogramm found themselves separated (with drummer the Silo moving to Chicago) and locked down during the global pandemic, they decided to keep their spirits up by recording a Canadian classic; by RUSH no less. The song “Working Man” keeps with Autogramm’s tradition of crafting singalong pop anthems, and adds a twist of DEVO to help personalize the tune in classic Autogramm style. The song is the first single by the band in advance of their sophomore album, to be released in early 2021 on Los Angeles’ Nevado Records.
Autogramm is a synth-driven, power-pop trio from Vancouver drawing influences from the likes of The Cars, The Go Go’s, Gary Numan, 20/20 and Devo. The band members are Jiffy Marx of Brooklyn’s Hard Drugs and Vancouver’s Blood Meridian, CC Voltage of Berlin’s Dysnea Boys, London’s Loyalties, and Vancouver’s Black Halos and Spitfires, and The Silo of Vancouver’s Black Mountain, Lightning Dust and Destroyer.
Hit ’em up on Bandcamp to buy the single and check em out
When Little Angels called it a day in 1994, singer and main songwriter Toby Jepson was left feeling heartbroken, confused and betrayed by his band. What do you do when your whole world has crumbled in front of you? How do you find the strength to carry on, when everything you have worked so hard for is taken from you?
Well, Toby retreated to a cottage in Guilford, set up a makeshift studio in a derelict Oast House with money from Sony and recorded his first solo album ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’. While he didn’t know it at the time, the set of songs he wrote, recorded and self-produced were a direct reaction to the break-up of Little Angels and would result in an album so steeped in retrospection and soul searching it would resonate so strongly some 25 years later.
To me, the mid 90’s was the best period for rock music, period. The musical climate had changed, the glory daze of Hair Metal had been wiped out by Grunge, yet even that genre itself was fading fast following the suicide of its main protagonist. Bands had to adapt to change or die, Alternative was the new mainstream and everything seemed just more edgy.
Many great songs and many great albums have been born from heartache and break-ups and Toby Jepson’s coping mechanism was to channel his feelings into ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’. It’s a dark album, ironically the complete antithesis of what Little Angels were all about. In trying to make sense of where it all went wrong, who to blame and what to do next, Toby found himself stepping back and looking inside himself for the answers, whether it be examining his recent divorce (‘Better Off Without Me’), class divide and struggle (‘Some People Are More Equal Than Others’) and in the case of most of the songs, directing his anger and confusion towards his former band mates.
What strikes me about ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’ 25 years down the line is how remarkably current it actually sounds. From the crystal clear production to the dark, questioning lyricism, it sounds like an album destined for release in 2020. Take opening song ‘Some People Are More Equal Than Others’, a slow burning, sombre opener that sets the mood, exploring the struggle of class divide to a background of crisp drums and weaving, sonically seductive guitars.
Co-penned with songwriting legend Russ Ballard, ‘Slipping Through Your Fingers’ not only continues the exploration of his marriage break-up but also the demise of Little Angels. Production-wise Toby creates space, the instrumentation at a bare minimum, the song riding on melody and a sense of determination. The dampened guitars build during the verse to be let loose as the anthemic chorus breaks out.
Anthemic choruses have been a Toby Jepson trademark over the years and album centrepiece ‘I Won’t Be With You’ is a prime example. This is the big rock song and an even bigger ‘middle finger’ to his former band mates. The guitars are maxed out and the passion overflows as Toby channels his anger and confusion into a song that stands the test of time. In stark contrast, the acoustic-driven ‘All Heal In Time’ is Toby’s Led Zep 3 moment. The heartfelt lyrics work perfectly with the interestingly, offbeat drums, and the beautiful folk inspired guitar picking. A great melody carries a song that offers a ray of light in troubled times.
The influence of the 90’s alternative musical climate is prevalent throughout this album. The grungy ‘Haven’t Got Your Strength’ is the sound of a man defeated, laid bare over Jerry Cantrell guitar riffage. The euphoric, radio-friendly ‘Save Me From Myself’, almost certainly a cry for help. Toby cites Lenny Kravitz as an influence on this album and this is certainly obvious on the tripped-out, psychedelia of ‘Open Your Mind’ and the funky, unfinished demo version of ‘Get Your Feet On’.
While ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’ is a snapshot of Toby Jepson’s mindset in his darkest hour, it is a testament to his songwriting prowess and a true example of the fact that anger truly is an energy. Toby channeled that anger in the right direction and produced an album that stands the test of time. And while he continues to enjoy great success with his band Wayward Sons, ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’ remains a lost gem of an album he is rightly proud of and arguably, it is his finest work.
the project brings together for the first time ever the long-running Los Angeles punks and the London-based singer and ex-Million Dead frontman, for many years now both friends and fans of each other’s music. With supporting live shows also shortly to be announced, the 10 strong track-listing of ‘West Coast vs Wessex’ captures NOFX tackling five selections from Turner’s sizeable solo back catalogue, with Frank reciprocating with recordings of five of his personal favourites picked from NOFX’s 37-years-and-counting career.
Both artists have sizable followings it would be hard to predict who’d still be standing if they were to slug it out. To be fair maybe Fat Mike wouldn’t get past the drug test but he’d probably hide a horseshoe in his glove anyway but the walk-in music is sorted as they could both play one of these tracks. Now to be fair I have to say I’ve seen Frank live a few times and although I enjoyed what I heard and I also have some of his records I’ve never been drawn in and become a fully-fledged fanboy but I do love ‘Thatcher Fucked The Kids’ and although NOFX do a sterling job its way below the original even if they’ve taken it somewhere dark and pulled its pants down and spanked it with a ska trombone and I’m good with that. And The same has to be said of NOFX I’ve seen them a few times and own the records but no fanboy and would it rude to say the best or rather my favourite release was the split they did with Rancid! (Flame me now NOFX fanboys) Not ‘Punked in Drublic’ and I do like Fat Mikes alter ego Cokie The Clown a lot. Anyway, I digress.
First half lets introduce tracks one to five and in the USA corner its NOFX and five Frank Turner tracks that manage to have their melons twisted (quite considerably at times) yet they still maintain the vital “Frank” ingredient which isn’t easy and they treat the songs rather well before devouring them NOFX style. ‘Substitute’ is skanked and the harmonies are great and when it breaks out it sounds fantastic. Angry love songs always work.
‘Worse Things Happen At Sea’ is no longer the picked melancholy its a slobbering beast that builds really well and Fat Mike and co have really worked on these and I’m impressed, no I’m really impressed. MAn these guys should do a collaboration and be done with it they are in tune – seriously. ‘Thatcher’ gets the ska skank treatment and to be fair it really works I’d never have called it as the keys dance and that horn bows almost as much as Thatcher did. Let’s not forget either kids, these lyrics are so spot on and what’s more depressing when it was written Frank never could have predicted Cameron and his austerity and then May before Boris well and truly fucked everyone not just the kids. Respect.
‘The Ballad Of Me & My Friends’ isn’t a folky sing-along its a blast through NOFX style. They get Turner in for a rip through ‘Glory Hallelujah’ like they’re Queen writing a musical for the west end big bold and quite beautiful. You have to take your hat off to Fat Mike hes reconstructed five of turners songs and given them a NOFX makeover and most enjoyable they are too.
In The ‘Wessex’ Corner is the very English Frank Turner and his band the Sleeping Souls and to be fair they’ve also entered into the spirit of things and taken five NOFX tunes and given them a “this side of the pond” English make over.
It is indeed the ying to Fat Mikes yang as ‘Scavenger Type’ get the punked-up acoustic style treatment as the ‘Punked In Drublic’ gets a good shoeing. I guess ‘Bob’ was a free hit for Turner but he takes ownership and if I was to pick a knockout blow on this release then this might well be it. Sublime, to be fair a great song handled with much love and respect.
‘Eat The Meek’ is taken somewhere totally different and reinvented and to be fair I didn’t see that coming either. That’s the pattern though and like ‘Perfect Government’ is another uppercut from Turner who winning this on points. Finally bowing out with his rendition of ‘Falling In Love’ this caps off a pretty impressive split. Exactly how it should be done and much respect to Frank Turner and NOFX who manage to knock each other out at the same time Rocky style. Give it a try then go check out the originals and then give them both a round of applause for their bravery, talent and execution.
Let’s hope for a rematch somewhere down the line or how about a full-on collaboration ‘West Coast vs Wessex’ has been an emotional box office success. Get on this pay per view kids its a big hitter for sure.
It seems to me that during these strange times 3 types of musicians have emerged during forced exile from live gigs, and these are as follows.
1 – The Hibernator (the artist on a major label who has done absolutely nothing) 2 – The Performer (the artist who does online gigs ranging from the totally unprofessional to the bloody sublime.) 3 – The Creator (the artist that records and releases music to their fanbase).
Former Biters frontman Tuk Smith emerges triumphant from category 2 and sticks his Cuban heeled boot firmly into category 3 with the release of his ‘Covers From The Quarantine’ EP. With the imminent release of Tuk Smith & The Restless Hearts debut album on hold and a high profile summer tour opening for Motley Crue, Poison and Def Leppard now postponed until next summer, the mop top singer with the cheek bones to die for finds himself at a loose end. Recorded in his attic studio, with just acoustic guitar, keys and drum samples, Tuk takes five classics from different decades back to their bare roots for all to digest.
Opener ‘Don’t Change’ is a lesser known INXS tune that was released back in 1982. The writing partnership of Michael Hutchence & Andrew Farriss was then still in its infancy and this is a perfect example of what would rocket them to superstar status before Hutchence’ tragic and untimely death in 1997. Arguably their first true classic, it’s a powerful song that has been covered by the likes of Everclear and The Goo Goo Dolls in the past, but in the hands of Tuk and his acoustic guitar, this is a more stripped back affair that somehow carries even more power and sentiment than the original.
Next up he tackles Bowie’s ‘Life On Mars’ with great effect. It may be a predictable choice, but it’s also an inspired choice. Tuk doesn’t mess with the structure or the delivery as his voice fits the song just right. The simple stabs of keys and the bombastic beats add atmosphere and drama to a classic we all know and love.
The Faces vibes are intact with his take on the Kiss classic ‘Hard Luck Woman’. I guess that figures, seems as Paul Stanley wrote it with Rod Stewart in mind, even if drummer Peter Criss ended up singing the definitive version. The picked, folky chord progression sound sublime, the vocals delivered with sentiment and passion in equal measures. It’s not trying to be Kiss or even Rod Stewart, it’s just Tuk being Tuk, playing a classic his own way.
Lana Del Rey’s ‘Summertime Sadness’ is the curveball of this collection. Tuk’s version retains the cinematic quality and the melancholic feel of Del Rey’s work, but it still has that sleazy, 70’s glam edge that the sadly missed Biters delivered in spades. Dreamy pop given a good rigorous drag through the hedge backwards…nicely done.
Now, if Fred Durst can manage a decent version of ‘Behind Blue Eyes’, then Tuk Smith should be able to crack The Who classic without breaking a sweat, right? He does it justice of course. A beautiful song delivered with sincerity that truly hits you in the feels.
When the world finally returns to some sort of normal, I think 2020 will be remembered in music circles as the year of the lockdown EP. There has been a fair few already, some are good, some not so good. ‘Covers From The Quarantine’ is one of the good ones and should keep fans of Tuk happy until his Restless Hearts album finally sees the light of day.
Here’s a couple of proper rainy days songs taken from a new split we’re reviewing this week on RPM its Frank turner & NOFX.
NOFX and Frank Turner will release a split covers album, ‘West Coast Vs. Wessex’ on July 31, 2020. Due for release via Fat Mike’s own Fat Wreck Chords label, the project brings together for the first time ever the long-running Los Angeles punks and the London-based singer and ex-Million Dead frontman, for many years now both friends and fans of each other’s music. With supporting live shows also shortly to be announced, the 10 strong track-listing of ‘West Coast vs Wessex’ captures NOFX tackling five selections from Turner’s sizeable solo back catalogue, with Frank reciprocating with recordings of five of his personal favourites picked from NOFX’s 37-years-and-counting career.
Just how often does the leader of one of your favourite bands ask you to do a split album? One where his band covers your songs? It’s the situation Frank Turner found himself in last year, when Fat Mike of NOFX asked if he wanted to do a split covers album. “And I shit the bed and said, ‘Fucking of course I do! That sounds incredible,” Turner recalls.
‘West Coast Vs. Wessex’ does sound incredible: NOFX filtering five of Turner’s songs through their singular sensibility, with Turner doing the same on five NOFX songs. But these aren’t simply double-time versions of Turner’s folk-punk tunes or slow, acoustic re-workings of NOFX’s iconic SoCal punk anthems. Both NOFX and Turner took time to play with the possibilities each other’s music presented.
“I listened to all his records, and I picked the ones that I thought I could make more interesting,” notes Fat Mike. “What I did is change a lot of chords. Frank, he beats me in the singing department. So I can’t sing better than he can, but I can maybe throw in a melody here or there or chord that he hadn’t thought of.”
Turner took a similar approach. “I didn’t want to just do straight covers of anything. I wanted to try and pick songs where I felt like me and my band could bring something different to the table,” he says. “But it did strike me that it would be cool to demonstrate to the casual NOFX fan, who doesn’t know who I am, that I am actually a fan. I didn’t just go to Spotify and pick the five most-listened-to songs.” For the record, only one of his choices appears on Spotify’s top five for NOFX: ‘Bob’, which Turner here transforms into a wistful country song. He pulled from deeper album tracks for his other covers: a punk-ed up ‘Scavenger Type’, a barroom singalong ‘Perfect Government’, the post-hardcore ‘Eat the Meek’, and a spare, haunting ‘Falling in Love’.
“Everything he picked was from the ’90s, so I took that as it’s okay to mostly do his early stuff too,” says Fat Mike, who channeled ‘90s NOFX for their interpretations. “People who hear it, they all say it sounds like old NOFX.” The band’s climactic take on ‘Substitute’ could’ve fit on ‘Punk in Drublic’, whilst ‘Worse Things Happen at Sea’ simmers with an ominous portent. The jaunty ‘Thatcher Fucked the Kids’ sounds like a companion to NOFX’s ‘Philthy Phil Philanthropist’. ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends’ – lilting and bittersweet in Turner’s original – goes balls-out here. “Glory Hallelujah” sounds like a lost track from Fat Mike’s Broadway musical, ‘Home Street Home’.
Turner and his band, The Sleeping Souls, recorded their songs between their rehearsal space and during tour commitments, with Frank tracking his vocals from his bunk on the bus. NOFX recorded at Fat Mike’s Six Floggs studio, with production by the D-Composers (Fat Mike, Johnny Carey, BAZ Bastien, Yotam Ben Horin).
“It’s difficult to describe quite how it feels to hear back a song that you wrote played by NOFX, one of your favourite bands, in a style that is unmistakably theirs,” Turner says. “It tends to make me just laugh in a really elated kind of way. It’s just like, ‘Holy shit, this is ‘Substitute’ done by NOFX! This is fucking insane!’” Fat Mike was similarly psyched. “When Frank picked ‘Falling in Love,’ I was so fucking stoked,” Mike says. “Then I heard it, and I go, ‘Holy shit, he just kicked our ass.’ I was pleased with all of them. I thought he did a really good job – and not such a good job that we couldn’t beat him on a few songs.”
But there are no losers on West Coast Vs. Wessex. The Frank Turner-Fat Mike Mutual Admiration Society has produced 10 hooky re-imaginings of each others’ music. The novelty may pique listeners’ curiosity, but the songs will keep them coming back.
“I have always thought and always maintained, well before we were friends, that Mike is a great, classic songwriter,” Turner says. “And that’s what sets NOFX apart from many of their peers.”
What about him?
“Just for me to be able to stand up in front of the mirror and look at myself and say, ‘You’re doing a fucking split with NOFX’—that is an absolute dream come true for me,” he says, laughing. “I mean, I don’t quite know where my career goes from here.”
Punk in Drublic Festival 2021 European Tour Dates Feat. NOFX and Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls
13 May FRANCE Chemillé, Théâtre Foirail à Chemille
15 May BELGIUM Boom, De Schorre Open Air
16 May GERMANY Berlin, Zitadelle
21 May AUSTRIA Wiesen, Wiesen Open Air
23 May ITALY Milan, Carroponte
4 June GERMANY Oberhausen, Turbinenhalle
5 June GERMANY Hannover, Faust Open Air
10 June FINLAND Turku, Vanha Surrtori 5
12 June NORWAY Oslo, Oslo Spektrum
13 June SWEDEN Malmö, Folkets Park
Well as we ease out of lockdown why not have a playlist to accompany July. Here we offer up fifteen of the bands we’ve reviewed during this pandemic its just some of the awesome bands and records that have found their way to RPM Online and some of them have new records on the way but we’ve not been able to share them quite yet but hang on they’re coming.