Monday, November 3, 2008
ONE of my fondest childhood memories is wandering in to the O'Hare Surfboards surf shop back in 1964. I was tagging along with my Mom who had a painting class in Cocoa Beach that day. It just so happened her class was right next door to the little wooden structure that housed Pat O'Hare's beautiful surfboards. I wandered inside drawn by the smell of resin and the sound of a planer carving through foam. And so my introduction to the world of surfboard building and the amazing Pat O'Hare began...
Surfboard building was never profitable. The cost of materials, labor, advertising, and overhead always made it a "for the love of it only" occupation. And the competition for the few dollars surfers actually had was always stiff. Many familiar labels from surfings "golden age", namely the sixties, had called it a day by the eighties. They literally couldn't afford to do it anymore. And a lot of the Mom and Pop companies were done soon after. Unless you had a very visible team of contest surfers and a famous surfboard shaper, you had to switch to selling clothing in your surf shop to even have a chance of survival. Two things changed that. Enter automation and overseas factories. Surfboards have traditionally been shaped and fiberglassed by hand. And the pool of craftsmen shrank as the pay did. So, like most American companies, they shipped production overseas. Most overseas (and stateside) factories are automated these days, the computer has aided in producing machines that shape the surfboard with only minor finishing required. And the factories are usually production line, working for many different labels, both legally and "bootlegged". Surfboard making has become profitable again, but, like everything else machine made, it's lost it's soul. Although the number shrinks every year, there are a few who still do it the way they used to.
Pat O'Hare moved from Manhattan Beach, California in the early sixties and set up shop in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Rick James came along too, and James and O'Hare Surfboards were born. The time was ripe on the East Coast, surfing was about to experience a major boom in America's consciousness. Thanks to The Endless Summer, every kid near an ocean wanted to experience surfing. This helped Pat and Rick get off to a good start, although Rick returned to California a short time later. Pat kept on making beautiful surfboards, in between raising a family and surfing as much as possible. He had a knack early on too, of making surfboards that worked insanely well in the myriad of Atlantic surf conditions. He was (and is) a quiet, humble man, never blowing his own horn. Oh, he could, and justifiably so, but he's just not wired that way. But those who understand superior craftsmanship and excellent design could take one look at a Pat O'Hare surfboard and marvel. Greg Noll was one such expert, and Pat was picked as the sole maker of the East Coast Greg Noll line. Quite an honor, and where most shapers would puff their chest and tell the world, Pat just took it in stride. Amazing. Looking at a vintage Greg Noll board shaped by Pat is to see a subtle combination of blended lines and curves, where nothing is out of place, and stunning symmetry is the end result. Ditto for anything under his O'Hare label, from the sixties Tommy McRoberts model "The Rebel", right up to any of his modern shapes. He's still on it, Fish, Quads, seventies style single fins, and of course, his amazing longboards. The lines are still soft and sensible, but once you get them on a wave you'll know that each board is truly magic. Other labels claim their boards are magic, but O'Hare quietly delivers in his own low key way. Pat still shapes today, just the same way he did back in the early sixties. All one hundred percent by hand, and all made with S-O-U-L. Get one while you can through the link below, and get ready to be amazed on the very first wave you take off on. You're not just riding an unreal surfboard, you're riding a piece of art from one of the last American craftsmen. Amazing.
PS - I'm sure he'd want me to tell you that you better hang this piece of art on the face of a wave, not on your wall at home ...
To contact Pat O'Hare about your piece of art, email him through www.16streets.com.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Athens, Georgia - 1987. In the midst of a void left by the pioneers of the Athens Sound, bands like R.E.M., and The B52's, The Woggles were born. Sounding like a 60's frat band on steroids, The Woggles live shows became (and are) legendary. Like their Rock and Soul heroes, the boys never stop. The songs run seamlessly together and the band and the audience slowly become one, sweating, rocking, shakin' and eventually becoming downright euphoric as everyone bathes in the Gospel of Southern Rhythm and Blues ..... You can call it a Rock and Roll Baptism, Rhythm and Blues Revival, or Soul Sermon, but there's one thing you can never call it. And that is ordinary. Taking their cue from Chitlin' Circuit showmen of the 50's and 60's, their no - nonsense over the top showmanship has made The Woggles an International underground smash. Veterans of many European and Asian tours (there's even an upcoming 7th tour of Japan in December), their fans can shake it in any language or country, and shake it hard! Their sets are filled with a sprinkling of covers from bands like The Sonics, the Shadows of Knight and The Jaguars. And their originals rock just as hard, culled from any one of their eight albums or dozen singles. Songs like "It's Not About What I Want", "Ragged But Right", "Ramadan Romance", "Do Just What I Say", "I Got Your Number","My Baby Likes To Boogaloo", and "Mad Dog 20/20" are just a sampling of Woggles material that could make anyone shake a tail feather or two! Just check out any of their videos for further proof!
The current line up of The Woggles is; Buzz Hagstrom on bass and vocals, Dan Electro on drums and vocals, The Flesh Hammer on guitar and vocals, and The Professor (aka Mighty Manfred) on lead vocals and rock and soul riot inciting. The Flesh Hammer stepped in after the tragic death of George "Montague" Holton, and does George's memory proud (no doubt, George approves)! This line up may be the longest Woggles line up going, the revolving door that saw many local musicians "learn the ropes", has settled into a strong veteran cast. The chemistry is nuclear too, as evidenced by last years "Rock and Roll Backlash" lp, a release that was played heavily on the radio show Little Steven's Underground Garage. The Professor even has his own radio show over at www.sirius.com/undergroundgarage. There you'll hear what The Woggles and any other band worth their salt are weaned on, namely 50's and 60's Rock, Soul and R and B. And so we leave The Woggles as the torchbearers for the original Athens innovators. Not only do they carry the torch proud, they have improved it mightily, taking it down to the roots (where it belongs). They continue to tour the country and the world, and have a few offshoot programs to boot(more on that later). They are truly ragged, but RIGHT! Check them out some more at http://www.thewoggles.com/html/news.html and http://www.myspace.com/thewoggles .... and by all means see them live. It will be a rockin, rollin', soul stirrin' affair that you'll never forget.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
"Tiger, tiger burning bright, in the forests of the night .... " Hmmm .. did good old William Blake catch Buffi Aguero and Tiger! Tiger! at The Earl in Atlanta? Or somewhere on their Spanish tour? SXSW? Well he must have. This band does burn bright, and just like the tiger old Bill describes in that famous poem, there's a beauty and a darkness here. To describe them as a "garage band" or as "indie - pop" (not my term, trust me!) would be flippant. The band itself is full of folks who, well, know their shit. Talented artists as well as talented musicians, they serve as a wellspring of imagination. Their inspirations become ours, and that can only be a good thing, right? Right! I could point out how vapid and narcissistic society has become, and downright lazy and sophomoric. And that would be stating the obvious too, right? Right! So we need bands like Tiger! Tiger! all the more. RIGHT!
The old saying goes; "You can't keep a good woman down", and the Subsonics Buffi Aguero (drums, vocals) confirmed that fact (again) when she decided to front her own band. Fueled by good and twisted art and music, the band was called The White Lights. After a handful of great CD's and singles it kinda became Tiger! Tiger! somehow ... Up front is Buffi Aguero, and former White Light-er Sam Leja tickles the porta - organ ala Augie Meyers. Susanne Gibbony (Catfight,Lust) is on bass and backing vocals. Getting Susanne was a coup since she is such a well known Atlanta punk rocker. Shane Pringle (Pineal Ventana) and Mario Coangelo are the new (sorta new) guys. Shanes punchy guitar and sax work give Tiger! Tiger! another extra twist that has become a trademark of all of Ms. Aguero's bands (White Lights utilized vibes and baritone guitar for its unique sound). And Mario knows where the tom toms are, and leaves the cymbals alone for the most part. So what you say? So this is part of what gives Tiger! Tiger! such a beautiful, yet dark sound. It doesn't matter if it's a speedy song or a moody, off kilter waltz, The wall of sound Tiger! Tiger! builds is all their own.
The snake oil bottle of medicine on the cover of "The Kind Of Goodnight", the Tiger! Tiger! album (Chicken Ranch Records), is fitting for this quintet. Like the elixir inside, the songs are all dark and sweet, and layered with intoxicating sounds. The lyrics have depth and what someone once described as having a "restless ennui of freshly killed romance". HUH!?!?! No way, if anything the songs are about most peoples blindness to real life. Tiger! Tiger! seems to me more that it suffers no fools. And the beauty of it all is in it's economy. No stupid solos, no stomp boxes, and no "cuteness". Just real life, and wicked as that hiding tiger in those bushes over yonder ...
Their videos are really a great way to see what they're all about. On top of that, they are inspired pieces of art. Go to http://www.chickenranchrecords.com/media.cfm to see "So You Won't Deceive Me". It's an amazing animated look at the song, and I'm not going to spoil it - just go and see it! While you're there, check out Chicken Ranch Records Tiger! Tiger! releases. You can get their goods in vinyl, cd, or itunes. Another good place to see these Atlanta heroes of hip is to go to http://www.myspace.com/tigertigerband. There you'll see the "Black Daggers" video, and it's another creative visual trip. It's a damn great song to boot! Of course, if you can see them live we highly recommend it. The sound will wash over you and each song will have you not only shakin' your hips, you'll shake your head wondering why you've never heard of Tiger! Tiger!before. If you've been lucky (or smart) enough to see or hear them, you know how good they really are. The scary part is, they're just getting warmed up.
Next Installment - "Looking Forward, Looking Back" Pt. 3 - The Woggles
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Atlanta, Georgia 1992 - A lot was happening in the new capitol of the Southeast at the start of the last decade. Some big things were right on the surface. Ted Turner was taking his empire international with CNN. The Atlanta Braves went from worst to first, giving the once-burnt-to-the -ground city it's first "real" winner (take that Sherman!). Down the road a piece, Athens, Georgia was (still) giving the world The B52's and R.E.M.. Elton John moved to town (no doubt looking for tips from the infinitely cooler Ru Paul). The summer Olympics, and all the craziness that was to come with it, was four years away. The new capitol of the Southeast was about to become an International City. Like I said, things were clear right on the surface. But this is the land of red dirt roads and the waters are muddy, son! And sometimes the most peculiar and amazing things can be found on the murky bottom.
Into the Punk and Hardcore void of the 70's and 80's came a Southern version of what had already been happening around the country for 5 or 6 years. The 80's Garage Rock Revival hit town via The Fleshtones, spawning a whole new generation of like - minded bands. The mighty Woggles took the mantle for the home team and have held it ever since (more on our rock and soul geniuses in a future chapter). As Atlanta was becoming the South's new promise land, the city also became a cool music mecca. Out of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, came the sci-fi sounds of Man Or Astroman?. Chapel Hill, North Carolina gave us Southern Culture On The Skids and The Flat Duo Jets. Florida's contribution was The Hate Bombs. Atlanta itself had a strong Rockabilly subculture, containing rocking bands and rabid fans. Many other groups in this loose knit scene came and went, burning out bright and fast. Few have had the longevity of our aforementioned heroes. But something is missing you say? Who are we leaving out? Probably the best "bridge" between the punk, rockabilly and garage camps, ladies and gentleman, I give you The Subsonics!
How The Subsonics met is a bit fuzzy, but one thing is loud and clear. They are a captivating live band and their many releases over the years are chock full of gutter - y story/songs. The Subsonics are a strange mix - First, you take equal parts Buddy Holly, Lou Reed, and Johnny Thunders. Blend as fast as all hell breaking loose and garnish with knives, chains, J.D. novels, and lotsa black leather. Do not dilute with Jonathan Richman or rough it up too much with stomp boxes. The dish you'll be serving to your guests will be a look at life on the wrong end of town. And usually a look at it long after midnight.
Their sound centers around Rockin' Clay Reeds' buzzsaw guitar rhythms. The chords fly at you fast, and the "solos" have evolved into a squawking barrage of non-notes. Don't think for a minute that what Mr. Reed plays is because of a lack of know how. Ya gotta know the rules to break 'em sonny, and break 'em he does. But it all fits. And when he wants to be melodic, he can do that too, albeit with a bit of twisted - ness. Just listen to "Red Roses" from their 1992 self - titled release. This instrumental is the best non - surf surf song that you're ever likely to hear! And it sounds like soundtrack music for some deserted beach scene , deep down into Mexico, so far down that nothing matters ... It's dusty, windy, and 99 degrees in the shade .... but the waves are breaking, and breaking beautifully ..... Fast forward to 2006 - "Parasites" is the other side of the Subsonics sound, I call it Buddy Holly or Bobby Fuller on speed. It's all warbling, spittin' vocals over a classic 3 chords / 3 minute punk template. It's no wonder that their world wide fan base is made up of fans of Rockabilly, Punk, Garage, and Surf musics. Their songs cover the style spectrum, and it's never forced or a parody. It's just ... real ...
Standing up behind the sparse drum set, chewing gum and ducking cat calls, is Buffi Aguero. The minimalist thumping is the heartbeat of the Subsonics monster, always driving the song on, as if to escape the angry villagers. When Clay and Buffi started the Subsonics the sound came together and projected the unique and cutting edge tastes of both. They just know all the right stuff, and incorporate that into the songs - whether it be B movies, pulp fiction paperbacks, or outsider art. They cite everyone from The Velvet Underground to The Voidoids as musical influences. Ike Turner and Phil Spector too. Does it get any better than that? Don't think so! Ms. Aguero also fronts her own band, Tiger! Tiger!, but more on them later ....
The left side of the stage has seen a few different bass players for our tremulous three piece. First came troublemaker Scott Weatherwax. Then the multi-talented Ron Skutt. Third in line was crowd (and Bad Trip) favorite, Christy Montero. This classic Subsonics line - up was like a twisted Tony Orlando and Dawn, except "Dawn" was hot-under-the-collar sexy and Tony looked like some androgynous hooker that hadn't eaten in a month! European tours followed , but sadly the Revlon endorsement never saw the light of day .... After a brief , but brillinat, fill - in by bassist Buzz Hagstrom (Woggles, Graham Day), The Subsonics lured Rob Delbueno (Man or Astroman?) into the fold. Rob brings a steady and wide array of talent, and thumps out the 4 string glue that holds the whole shebang together.
So after many singles, e.p.'s and albums (see links below), the Subsonics chug on, steamrolling everything in their path, and getting stronger with each new lightning bolt they get hit by. They criss cross the U.S. all the time, and Europe is an annual event. Can Japan be far behind? You owe it to yourself to catch this crazy trio when they Godzilla your town, or buy some of their music from one of the links below. Better yet, do both. Tell 'em we said "hey". bruce bad trip
Next installment: Part 2 - "Tiger! Tiger!"
Monday, September 8, 2008
I love almost everything about the 60's. The first time that I heard the fuzz drenched notes introducing the Rolling Stones "Satisfaction", I was hooked, lined, and sinker-ed. The opening "Da da dadada ..." sounded like a call to arms for some whacked out army of spastic soldiers. Even an eleven year old kid like me got it. I didn't know what I was getting, but, I got it! So I've always been a fan of the slightly off - kilter. And the 60's was rife with off - kilter. Other eras had it too, but this was when I found it and I've been chasing that sound ever since.
By the winter of 1992 I had had enough of mainstream media ignoring the REAL guitar armies of the past, and their modern counterparts. After another half-assed and failed attempt at starting an army of my own, I decided to do a fanzine. The message had to get out. And Atlanta, Georgia was the perfect launch pad. By providence or fate, depending on who you ask, we met Buffi Aguerro through the local free paper. Enter The Subsonics, The Woggles, Man Or Astroman?, Worrybird Records, Estrus, Bomp, The Cynics, Norton Records, and all things Nuggets, Pebbles, and Back From the Grave. Bad Trip fanzine was the name, and anything BUT the Greatful Dead was our game! We tried, and hopefully managed, to keep our tongues in cheeks throughout all 13 issues. Why are we kick starting the old rag? Because it's time to pass the word again .... Dang, someone has to do it ......
Next Installment: Where Are They Now? You won't believe your ears ....
Thursday, September 4, 2008
OK - here's the first little bit of posting on this here thang. remember the "one(s) that got away"? No, not yer girl or boyfriend, but your first really unforgettable item, your favorite surfboard! I have a few that I'm kicking myself over and you can see the examples below. One was a David Nuuihwa Lightweight that I found in a skate shop in Atlanta (sometime in the 80's)?!?!? Rode it in Florida and it ripped!!!!! To this day, that was the BEST longboard that I've ever owned. I sold it dirt cheap to a woman who was buying it for her husband as a gift. Yeah, right. I think the guy sent her over to my house to bat her eyelashes and practically steal this gem from me. It worked, she drove off with it and I went in and had a beer. What a knucklehead. The second example is a Harbour Cheater. I bought this out of a marina in Ft. Pierce, Florida in the 70's. It had been sitting there forever and I got a DEAL on it. Rode it and LOVED it, but I only rode longboards in the summer back then. A friend of mine fell in love with it and would bug practically every day to sell it, trade it, whatever, he just wanted it! He finally got me half drunk and/or stoned one day and I traded it to him for a '66 Rambler. Great car, but the board is worth a shitload more these days. Knucklehead ...Here's a few more that I cringe over. I bought an old Rick U.F.O. off a fellow worker at a construction yard in '73. He sold it to me on the condition that I ride it and cherish it forever. It even had black Slipcheck on it. Of course I promised that i would love it until Hell froze over. The thing was a boat, you could ride a ripple for a gajillion miles on this beaut. It had a few dings and was a bit water logged. Being the budding young shaper that I was, I .. you guessed it - stripped the glass and resahaped it into a short single fin. But, seeing as it had taken on a bit of water, just as I was finishing up, it split down the stringer (center)!!! No, I didn't glass it (another mistake). That reminds me. Back in '69 I bought an old Harbour Cheater from the local surf shop for a song - you couldn't even give them away back then. Did I buy it to ride it? Well, kinda. The thing for amateur shapers back then was to buy old longboards and cut them down. I took it to the hotshot kid in our neighborhood to shape it. What a buncha idiots. The board didn't even ride worth a damn. And this was the SECOND board that I got from him (that one was crappy too). I know, I know, we were really stupid. I also had an Olympic that I got at a yardsale. That one was really old, but in great shape. It had a big old "D" fin and it was a heavy tanker. Rode it once and sold it. So there's the ones that got away on me. I wish I had photos of them all, but that might make me really cry like a baby. These couple of examples are bad enough. Let me know about the ones that got away on you. Photos welcome but not required .....
Thursday, August 28, 2008
After a ten year hiatus, Bad Trip Fanzine is back! And we've thrown our other passion, surfing and surfboards, into the mix. The original idea of Bad Trip was to celebrate forgotten musical heroes of the past, as well as modern bands influenced by them. Bad Trip never hid it's love and bias for 50's - 70's style, whether it be music, books, movies or good artistic design in general. We wanted to include the old style surfing culture from the outset too, but never had the space. With new inroads to some of surfings great past (and present) surfing craftsmen, we will now make room! Even if you don't surf, you will find their stories fascinating, and you surfers will surely love the music articles too. Why are we doing this crazy shit again? Because, after looking around at the current cultural landscape, we figured you might need us now more than ever. In our humble opinion, we know you do! As self appointed arbiters of good taste, we're gonna try and turn you on to cool stuff coming down the pike. And just like before, only older and wiser. Oh, and please pass the word, any and all are welcome here!
ps - our irreverent tongues will still be planted firmly in cheek, promise ...