Rockin' PistolHEra releases a new CD and Sonic Youth is still looking for its stuff.
Thursday, March 29, 2001
A very important show to check out this week that I don''t necessarily need to write at length about is the Uninvited at--and you''re hearing this correctly--Long Bar this Saturday. Tickets cost $10 at the door. I hear these guys have electric banjos, and, damn it, now I''m wondering where I can get one.
Speaking of instrumentation... It is incredible what a musician will do for the right instrument. I have stood around music stores all my life and watched grown men and women fork out thousands of dollars for musical equipment they may not need. Any die-hard musician will gladly give up heat, shelter and security for some shimmering musical bobble dangling in a store window like a piece of candy.
One summer, a bandmate and I wandered into a Guitar Center (which is like Toys ''R Us to the musically inclined). We harbored selfish intentions to con the sales people into letting us play with all the expensive gear for hours, and not pay for it. Less than three hours later, we were shelling out every penny we had (along with old used amps and a broken snare drum) for two semi-hollow-bodied guitars to match the other ones sitting in our basement.
When I arrived home, my girlfriend at the time went into a tirade, mentioning useless things like "school loans" and "rent." But she was trouble with a capital "T" and was dealt with later. Besides, we had our new toys. Mine was black and it matched my red one perfectly--even the tone was just the same!
You see, to most musicians, a mere glance at an instrument in a shop window can turn into a mania that borders on the Red Rider BB gun obsession Ralphy developed in Christmas Story.
Tales of this "prissy habit" of going nuts over musical equipment are floating around my sauced brain at the moment. One warm July, a Ryder truck containing all of Sonic Youth''s gear was stolen. The band obviously went into fits and canceled upcoming dates, grieving the loss of many beloved toys: a ''60s red Fender with target-swirling stickers, a green satiny drum kit, and other guitars generally fucked-up so bad as to require consistent maintenance.
Sonic songwriter Lee Renaldo sent out a heartfelt email about the group''s missing gear, pleading for people with info to call the home office (even asking the thieves to sell the gear back). To this day, the group is still hoping to find the purloined possessions--all that was ever found was the empty Ryder truck.
Losing instruments is akin to having all of your children kidnapped at the same time. It sucks.
Roger Mead, guitarist for Pistol´Era, is no stranger to sacrificing everything for his one true love, his Gretsch guitar (the very one you see him coveting in the picture above). Mead recently gave up the pink slip to his Cadillac for a loan to buy the beloved charcoal guitar, the one with a warm tone that makes grown men want to drool. This is the very same instrument Mead used on PistolHEra''s just finished album, Everyone Loves a Sinner.
I sat down with Mead and bass player Rob Claiborne to find out what the band thought of its new work before I locked my fangs into it.
"I think it''s a good record," says Claiborne. "It is a good mix of three or four types of music with a shuffle beat."
"The poetry and lyrics are great," adds Claiborne. "Some of the songs lack a hook, so it could have been a little more full. The guitar work is good, the bass tones are inventive, and the drums pretty much just follow along."
"The record is basically live," Mead says, "and that is what is exciting to me. The only thing that wasn''t live was the vocal tracks."
PistolHEra regards the CD as a group accomplishment. In my opinion, it is. The obvious Reverend Horton Heat rockabilly shuffles threaten to overtake the originality a little and Mead''s voice shifts between mimicking the Rev to sounding more like a stoic David Byrne. The music shifts between dirty pickin'' country and rockabilly off and on throughout the record, and the bass is as fat as it can be without being obtrusive.
The album captures the sound of a talented group searching for the G-spot amidst its varied musical styles. Everyone Loves a Sinner is available at Vinyl Revolution and to buy it is to own a piece of the local scene.
By the way, Mead is sure he''ll pay off the loan and get his car back. But if not, at least he still has his guitar.