Shit From Clay: Stu Spasm shows off his sculptures in "New York Hustle"

 Stuart Gray Pic By Matt Reekie

Former Lubricated Goat frontman Stu Spasm (real name Stuart Gray) is the subject of a new short documentary, which focuses on his work as a sculptor of creepy cult figurines. Part of a series called New York Hustle, which was produced by New York-based Aussie expats Angelica Von Helle and Matt Reekie, and you can watch the doco after the fold below. 

Spasm, who left Australia in the early ’90s and has been based in NYC for the best part of three decades, continues to make music with his latest outfit The Art Gray Noizz Quintet while supplementing his income by making and selling his sculptures. Sculptures shown in the film include Alice Cooper, Suzi Quatro, Charles Manson, Rowland S. Howard and Leadbelly.

Spasm spoke with Danger Coolidge about his work as a visual artist.

Working Class Hero

dan denton typewriterIris Berry, the ageless and hypnotic Glittery Queen Of Thee Hollyweird Underground hipped me to this remarkable, marvellous, soulful, author-poet-novelist from Toldeo, Dan Denton, whose powerfully poignant debut novel, “$100-A-Week-Hotel”, is catching fire with everyone who has been yearning for a voice of truth to arrive in these ridiculously propagandized, fictitious times.

Denton's characters are all so sensitively illustrated, it almost feels you are bellied up to the bar with them. It is startling to read the modest words of a real person because most novels, books, and records, and even "hip-hop influenced murals" painted on the side of hipster trap juice businesses are generated by rich college grads from the gentrified Julian Casablancas or Miley Cyrus upper classes. All the media professionals promote falsehoods and stereotypes and bogus narratives from the elitist perspectives of the ruling class.

Denton is a hardworking laborer from the rustbucket factory wasteland of Northern Ohio, and shares a working class sensibility and world view with people like Wayne Kramer, Zack de la Rocha, Boots Riley and Hunter S.Thompson. He has become one of my very favorite writers, alongside Chris Hedges, Falling James, Caitlin Johnstone and Frankie Delmane.

Having one more drink with Streetwalkin' Cheetah Frank Meyer

AP Murray cheetahsFrank Meyer flanked by Cheetahs bandmates (from left) Bruce Duff, MIke Sessa and Dino Evertett on bass. AP Murray photo. 

In these COVID-fraught times, asking Frank Meyer what he puts on his curriculum vitae is a valid question. The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs vocalist-guitarist doesn’t skip a beat, down the line on Zoom from his home in Long Beach, California.

“Right now, I mean, I'm basically freelance film producing and directing. You know, my last full time job was at Fender as directing and producing their digital content. But at the beginning of COVID, they laid off a lot of my team, including myself. And then showbiz kind of shut down.

“But now I've essentially just been doing music and freelance editing and online production, and a lot of session work, singing and playing, recording and producing. In the last few months, digital production has picked up and I've been getting a bunch of field production gigs. And I've got some book deals happening. So things are looking good right now.”

Danny Kroha's DIY blues

danny kroha bwDanny Kroha is best known as one-third of seminal Detroit garage punk band, The Gories, which he formed with fellow Detroit residents Mick Collins and Peggy O’Neill in the mid- 1980s. When The Gories’ rudimentary internal infrastructure eroded in the early ‘90s, Kroha moved on to a series of projects, most notably the more theatrically-bent Demolition Doll Rods.

In 2015, Kroha took a step sideways and back in time with his first solo record, “Angels Watch Over Me”, a collection of predominantly covers of old blues, folk and gospel recordings, laid down using an eclectic collection of DIY instruments. Initially reluctant to put the album out, Kroha has returned to the well for a follow-up, “Detroit Blues”, again mining the rich history of the American folk, blues and gospel songbook. Kroha joined PATRICK EMERY at the Bar from his hometown of Detroit to talk about the album.

You’ve spent your entire life in Detroit. What is about Detroit that keeps you there?

[Laughs] Once I saw this fortune teller and she was reading runes and Tarot cards and she said ‘Why do you still live in Detroit?’ She could tell I was doing something with music, maybe I might have mentioned it. She said ‘I’m seeing something in my cards, a place where you should move, that would be better for you and your musical career’.

I don’t know man, it’s just my home, for better or for worse. It’s an interesting place. Really hip places, like New York City, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, are great to visit, but I don’t want to live in any of those places. I don’t like generally being a place that’s lousy with hipsters. I kind of like being the only one on the block!

Your Gray matter knows it makes sense

sensible gray cells

Long term denizens of this scurvy establishment will need no introduction to the names Captain Sensible (nee Ray Burns) and Paul Gray.  If there was such a thing as punk rock royalty (and I’m against it on general principle), these guys would at least be Grand Dukes or Princes or some such.   

For those of you who are slumming it, Captain Sensible is the more fluorescent face of The Damned.  His beret and toilet mat jumper has besmirched the covers of a good many picture covers of hit singles, including a surprise run as a solo star. 

Paul Gray came to the world’s attention with fellow graduates of the class of ’76 Eddie and the HotRods.  Paul has also had three runs as bass player in the Damned and the kind of resume that would have you blushing with jealousy. He played on Johnny Thunders’ “So Alone” so don’t you go comparing resumes.  He’s Paul Gray and you’re not. 

Blackie or Peter Black? Just make sure you call him when it's his turn to record

blackie pony 2I first saw Blackie when I was 16. It was the Hard-Ons’ 21st birthday tour, and I was stuck in Coolangatta, a long way from home. I knew nothing of the band but the name intrigued me so I went along. To this day it’s one of my top five gigs.

Hit after hit of pop punk brilliance, and for me the Hard-Ons are the gold standard in the genre. And here was guitarist Blackie, who combined metal style shredding with fast three chord punk rock playing. My tiny mind was blown.

Since then Peter Black has launched a solo career. 2020 marks the release of his sixth and seventh solo offerings. One electric, one acoustic. Aside from being one of the country’s best guitarists, Blackie’s solo work proves what a beautiful songwriter he is. The man can do no wrong

I-94 Bar: Now you’re playing a gig this Saturday with the Hard-Ons, and I saw a while back you did a gig in Sydney with Nunchukka Superfly, which was 20 people only. You obviously love playing live, but I take it with the lockdown period playing live now must be that extra bit more special?

Blackie: Man, I tell you how fucking weird this is. We did a couple of gigs recently, where I played solo and with the two bands, and I did a solo gig with John Kennedy’s 68 Comeback Special. But three weeks ago Nunchukka played a gig with a band from Canberra, and it didn’t really occur to me, as I had been driving for three-and-a-half-hours, it was all so trippy, like fucking hell, now I got to sing!

It hit me as it’s the first time I had been out of Sydney for 10-11 months. It was weird, but awesome. I’m like now I got to find the venue, find a park, and lug the gear. I loved every second of it

Covering all the bases with Ash Naylor

Emma Jane Johnston evenMatthew, Ash and Wally are Even. Emma-Jane Johnson photo.

Ask any Australian fan of hooky powerpop who they rate and the answer will almost inevitably include Even, the Melbourne institution that’s been a fixture on the Oz scene since forming in 1994. Fronted by  singer-songwriter-guitarist, Ashley Naylor, with Matthew Cotter on drums and Wally Kempton (aka Wally Meanie) on bass and backing vocals, they have just released their eighth album, “Down The Shops”, and it's reviewed here.

“Down The Shops” is a beautifully presented, vinyl collection of covers Even has released down the years. Ever since working up a rocking version of Badfinger’s “No Matter What” in their early mid-‘90s days playing the pubs around Fitzroy and St Kilda,  Even have usually had a cover or two on the go. And they weren’t adverse to working up a load of them; they did "Even Jukebox" performances every year at Melbourne’s Cherry Bar.

Ryders on the storm

Oranges The Long Ryders 2019 Tom Gold 2Making orange juice from oranges...Sid Griffin and The Long Ryders. Tom Gold photo.   

“There wasn’t anything called Americana when we started, but we helped create it, so I’m happy to be associated with it,” Long Ryders singer and guitarist Sid Griffin laughs, when I ask him if he has any empathy with the loosely-defined genre. “I like the Americana thing. I’m not one of those guys who says their band aren’t this or that.”

But while The Long Ryders were at the vanguard of the movement – as well, from a different musico-cultural perspective, the so-called Paisley Underground scene of the early 1980s, Griffin reckons Americana existed long before The Long Ryders formed in LA in 1980.

“People say that Sun Records was Americana, because of the marriage of rhythm and blues with country and western. But the other one that people miss is The Lovin’ Spoonful. They’re definitely Americana. Americana has always been here. No-one said Americana or alt.country until the end of The Long Ryders’ days.”

Reeding between the lines

sunday reeds Bryan LynaghAdelaide band The Sunday Reeds' latest release, “Drive You Mad”, has been one of my favourite releases for 2020. A brilliant combination of Cramps-style ‘60s garage with elements of Riot Grrl, punk and shoegaze, it’s an amazing mix of genres spread over six tracks.

Core members, Romana Ashton and Drew Jones, have continued the band despite the two now living in different states. Singer-bass player Romana spoke to us via phone from her South Australian home base.

I-94 Bar: Before we kick off can I ask how have you been going in these odd times?

Romana: it’s been fine, the first few months I was ok, I prefer working from home and it suited me better. I’m alright on my own as I’m a fairly introverted person so I cope ok with that. But even now I’m a bit sick of the walls, seeing the same thing. I have a cat to keep me entertained and to kept me sane, taking up some time and entertaining myself. But I’m itching to see a few things now, kind of over it (laughs).

I-94 Bar: I’ve had a cat around my place for a year and it is a good feeling saying, 'Sod the world I’m gonna hang out with the cat tonight'?

I-94 Bar