(-Interview by Anguish Young)
An infamous rock wife was overheard describing Trash Gallery as, “A cross between Sisters Of Mercy and Slayer. Heavy on the Slayer.” Heh! Others say, “stoner-punk, for weird hermits, in the desert”. Death-rock revivalists, motor-ruffians, scabby knuckled, 70’s A.M. cock-rock, grebo-metal hellions, raising the roof at the boarder-town roadhouse…avalanche-hoods…Spooky biker punk, glammy punk’n’roll, armageddon-blues, and a “sleaze-rock band for goths”.
Live, they have a laddish, pub-rock sensibility like the Faces, Rose Tattoo, Rock City Angels, or Dogs D’Amour. On vinyl, they are lusty riff-mongers, painting ominous and foreboding sound-sculptures, with grainy, black and white flashback, cinematic, imagery. Lizard skin lyrics. The untamed sons of idols and dolls…They’re more like a demonic hybrid of all that stuff. Upon first discovering Trash Gallery, they reminded me of the Hangmen, the Cult, the Sea Hags, and 69 Eyes. The glossy European metal magazines always lump ’em in with Turbonegro, and the Hellacopters. Some are calling Trash Gallery’s sanguinary, ammunitions-chief, Jason, “the new Chuck Biscuits”. One of the raunchiest, most dynamic, live bands to come along, in quite some time.
With their charismatic vocalist, crunchy guitar riffs, and hardcore percussionist, Trash Gallery have that classic, skull rings and black leather, comic-book barbarian appeal, like Zodiac Mindwarp And The Love Reaction, or indeed, even Danzig, but Trash Gallery are also capable of brooding, hypnotic menace, and swirling, textured, gothic-tinged psychedelia, like the eighties tribal, post-punk bands-if you can remember the original, Bat-Cave scene, that the British tabloids, briefly, referred to as, “positive-punk”.
Veglam recently caught up with their mysterious and versatile front man, Neen, and asked him the following questions.
VEGLAM: Who were the bands that first inspired you guys to wanna play music and form Trash Gallery?
NEEN: Well…Trash Gallery was around before I came into the fold….I do know the original line-up’s common influences, which was the bond that solidified that unit so much that we would look past each others short comings, just so the ends could justify the means…In laymen’s terms…Keep the machine rockin’ at any cost…..The bands that brought us together were Hanoi, Smack, The Clash,The Heart Breakers, The Lords of the New Church…Etc. ‘Too many to list, but the ones mentioned I would say had their hand in the development of our band.
I, myself, identified with the post-punk movement, but loved the sleaze rock bands …Wasn’t much for the Metal and pyro….However, there were some acts that you cannot ignore…Motorhead were one, and they’re still one of those bands that bring fans from many scenes together, and I admire that, because there is nothing worse then alienating people…They may like you, but are afraid to admit it to their scenester friends……Ramones are another great example…These bands were bridges for fans, and other artists should take note.
Before I babble further, and I know I sometimes do….I will just throw out the bands that I love. The Hangmen, Smack, Early Hanoi…(Had to make that clear) The Godfathers, The Inmates, Thee Hypnotics, The Jim Jones Revue, The Angels From Angel City, The Stones, The Small Faces, Humble Pie, Japan, New Model Army, Motorhead, AC/DC, The First G’N’R album (excluding, “Sweet Child Of Mine”….Had to make that clear) Look, I have waaay to many music influences that I think would leave people scratching their heads, so I’ll stop here…But I must throw in SAM ‘n’ DAVE!!!…Vocally, that’s what I aspire to…I’m not kiddin’.
VEGLAM: When was the first time you recall hearing about the Cult and who’s affected you more as an artist-Billy Duffy, or Ian Astbury?….
NEEN: First time was when they were the Southern Death Cult….Then The Dreamtime line-up, when Nigel (R.I.P) and Jamie were in the band….One of the best,t in my warped opinion! They weren’t bad, when they got Haggis, from Zodiac, on bass, and Jamie switched to guitar, but the “Dream Time” era and the “Love” album was where it’s at…I feel they lost that European flair…That ambiance left, and it was full throttle on the Harley all the way….None the less, “Electric” was their cross-over album, and it made the punters and the metal- heads say “Hey?! These guys are alright!”…..I couldn’t tell you how many times in school, I would get the gears, from my metal head buddies, over the Death Cult stuff, and the “Love” era albums….Blockheads!
As for Billy and Ian influencing me..? That’s hard, because I’m one part guitarist, and one part vocalist, if I dare say……I would admit on the whole of the band. They both caught my attention…Lot of movement on that stage, in the early days, watching those boys.
VEGLAM: Ever get into Public Image Ltd.?
NEEN: DAMN STRAIGHT!!…I liked what John did…He took a chance, and moved from his Pistols sound, just like When Mick from the Clash formed BIG AUDIO….Man, I could just hear the labels and management say “That will never fly, baby!!…Was sad to here that one of punk guitar’s pioneers passed…John McGouch….John was like Marco Pironni …The both played for Siouxsie, but had a list of who’s who that they played and recorded with…John rounded out PIL…I know his daughter runs his tribute page on Myspace, so please request her…She is a dear, and sees Johns great achievements, like the rest of us, even though, the industry still has its head so far up Maroon 5’s ass…Such sperm wasted…tsk tsk…
I have a memory of PIL….I was in NY City…It was one of those hot in the shade summers there. I was in the City with the German Club team I played with from Canada…Follow?…We had a Soccer tournament (Football to my French and Euro friends)
One of the guys on the team bought a BIG ASS ghetto Blaster….We dialed into the clearest station, and blaring was, “This is not a love song”. Man, everbody- no matter if they were into rap, or rock, or whatever, was stomping their boot heels. We became PRIMITIVE!!!…TRIBAL!!…We went out to play our first match against an Argentinean Club..!!!…And got our asses kicked…But a great memory, none the less.
VEGLAM: Please discuss Spear of Destiny, and Theater Of Hate….
NEEN: ‘Glad to! Well, Theater were a post-punk band that had Nigel and Billy before Billy joined Ian and the Death Cult, and later, Nigel joined…I liked Theater…It just was different from anything I heard, but it didn’t last, and Kirk Brandon formed Spear Of Destiny, from it’s ashes.
He had a great success in the U.K., because of his social consciousness and working class perspective…You have to remember, it was Thatcher’s Britain, at the time, and the troubles with the Falklands was a bitter pill for the Government to swallow…Not to mention, the class struggles that were going down at the time…Guns of Brixton?…Man, God only knows what shit was happening to that region.
Anyways …Kirk and the boys had greater success, stateside, and we all know what that equates too…MOOLAH!!!…SAMOLIANS!!…Green backs, money, etc., The social statement really fell on deaf ears, considering it was the 80’s and it was party, party, party…I living in Detroit, at the time. I loved the lyrics, but most people said, “I give it an 8 out of 10 because that bass line is fat!!” I hope that answered your question…I’m afraid I didn’t.
VEGLAM: Who are some other groups you regard highly, that might surprise your core audience? Didn’t you once mention really liking the Waterboys?
NEEN: You did your research….Yes, the Waterboys…Mike Scott is my generation’s Dylan….I can relate to him even more, and also, Billy Bragg. Another unsung hero is Justin Sullivan, but you and I and many others know him as “Slade the Leveler”. He’s an amazing lyricist….He’s pretty much the one man that can write about politics and history and manage not to sound preachy…Or sound like BONO…Ha ha….Take note, Bono, and quit hanging out with the IMF!!!
VEGLAM: Some of the songs on the first Trash Gallery album remind me of the Finnish band, Smack. Was that intentional?
NEEN: I dont think it was as intentional, as it was more like, in our subconscious…We relate to them, because we are a miserable lot…I mean, we all come from a working class family …We live in a steel-manufacturing city, and to this day, we get no credit from our fellow citizens…..But hey, isn’t that always the way?
Smack spoke to me more then most would know…”Ice Drops” ,”All alone”, “Hanging Tree”, to name just a few that always have an effect on me, that takes me away…Not so much to happy places…but that’s what music is supposed to do.
VEGLAM: I thought that band, Silver, from Norway, were one of the other best bands, to emerge this past decade, but I’m only familiar with “White Diary”, their debut. Have you heard their second album, and is that a group that you could see yourself touring alongside?
NEEN: Yes, I agree…I had mentioned them, in an interview with Sugarbuzz, on how they get the true meaning of Rock ‘n’ Roll, as a young band…..I only heard bits of the second album….I have been meaning to get all their albums.
Yes, I would like to if it was mutually desired. As long as they behave themselves…Ha ha…But seriously, it’s a pleasure to work, and tour with, a band that digs what you do, as we did this past month, in Germany, with Ski’s Country Trash…A very memorable point in my life…They were just great people, and so was Germany.
VEGLAM: Trash Gallery’s post-punk and gothic roots are part of your sound, but please discuss any classic rock influences. Are you guys consciously influenced by Aerosmith, Free, Humble Pie, ZZ Top, or Golden Earring? How did Paul Kossoff influence your guitar playing?
NEEN: Yes, it’s true…The Stones, Keith and Ronnie…Humble Pie’s Marriot, and Frampton…Joe Perry is one of my guitar influences…’Like his style…I can do without their mainstream commercial stuff…The best thing they’ve done, in a long time, was when they put out “Honking On Bobo”…I wish they would do more British Pub rock shit…I miss their early Aerosmith sound.
I would say Paul Kossoff’s attack and sustain…..It’s funny you brought that up, as we use to cover, “Wishing Well”…Yeah, I know we are a mixed bag of tricks, but we always indulge ourselves, and if we like it ?….It comes off as true, and genuine to the lovely audience…You can’t fool them…Especially, not the German audience…ha ha…
VEGLAM: What did you think of Four Horsemen?
NEEN: Frank…(Rest his wild soul) and company rocked….And rocked with a fury…I remember they played our city, which in most cases, is over-looked, by touring bands, because of Toronto being down the road, but in true form, these dreggs showed up, and brought the bar to its knees…Oh wait?…that was Dread Zeppelin….HA ha….But I saw them in Toronto, and yes, as I said earlier, they rocked that house and put to shame all the elitist scenesters and showed them, “THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT”!!
I dont mean to be light with the Horsemen …They were truly, the last, of the hard rocking breed, like Circus of Power…I throw them in the same company…And what a great company to be in..:)
VEGLAM: Are you Circus Of Power fans?
NEEN: Yes we are, and for all these years, I thought Alex was a Yank…Turns out, he’s from Toronto…Great front guy…I never got to see them live.
VEGLAM: Who are the best unknown and under-rated Canadian bands? I was shocked when I heard a Honeymoon Suite track that sounded just like Cheap Trick, recently. No shit.
NEEN: Chris Barry’s 39 Steps…They were Canada’s version of Lords of the New Church…They had their own thing..I only use that comparison for the reader’s sake…If you like the Lords then please check them out…And the bonus is that they are from French speaking Canada!
You won’t be let down..A great band….Others?…I can only say the late 70’s Toronto Punk scene…Too many bands are over looked from that period, because of the NY scene, and the London scene.
Google: “Liz Worth”…She wrote a great book on the scene.
VEGLAM: Alice Cooper, John Waite, Michael Monroe, and the NY Dolls are all about to release new music. Heard any advance cuts from any of ’em yet?
NEEN: No..I haven’t heard anything yet…I stopped listening to radio…I only go on “Youtube”, and I may find a gem, or I get “Mojo” magazine, to get the skinny on the new releases.
VEGLAM: What are some of your fave places to tour? Discuss some highlights of your latest trip overseas.
NEEN: Well…The only place we toured was Germany in February…Next, it will be Finland, in March….Go figure…Strange how life works.
Now, I have been over to Germany six times…’Always loved it…..The people in the clubs love music, but God help you, if you don’t have your act together.
Hmmmm…Most memorable? I would say, Frankfurt and Lindau….Frankfurt was packed and sweaty…The Frankfurt Chapter of the Turbo Jugend were there, so I knew they would get what we do, but the rest, were hardcore rockabilly fans…Through the whole tour, it was like that, because we were supporting Ski’s Country Trash, and to be honest, I was very pleased with that, because if you can win that crowd over, then a straight-up rock crowd is a walk in the park with the Mrs.,…or Mistress…
Lindau was just beautiful…Right on the Austrian border. You see the Alps and this crystal-clear lake..very laid back people, during the day, but at night, they can rock….Was a great show in that city…Other memorable parts was me drinking with a couple of the Hells Angels…Now people may say “So what?”…I don’t drink…but they came up to me with a bottle of Jack (Jack Daniel and “rock” is so cheesey…you know…Motley Crue Cheesey)…So Between the three of us, we polished off the whole bottle…No, I didn’t hack or throw up…It tasted like syrup and ice-tea…Oh, yeah…and the look on their faces when my drummer told them that I don’t drink…Hahaha
VEGLAM: Best new music you’ve heard lately…?
NEEN: Pete Droge’s recent…Love the guy.
VEGLAM: Best old music you’ve heard lately?
NEEN: I would say the Motown box set I just scored, and 70’s soul music from Alligator records.
VEGLAM: What is your main guitar/amp setup?
NEEN: Bwuahahahahahahahahaha!!!!…You’re kiddin’, right?…..I wouldn’t know how to begin….On this German tour, I took my semi hollow bodies, that cost me around five hundred dollars or so…So if anything happened to them, it wouldnt be a great loss in cash, just in my principles…Haha
But on this side of the Atlantic, I use Marshalls, and Peavey 5150, and Tripple xxx amps…In recording, a Fender Deluxe Reverb. Guitars?…lets just say, I don’t own one Stratocaster….Gretsch, Gibson, Zemaitis, and Ampeg, to name a few.
VEGLAM: Plans for the future and when can we expect to hear your next album?
NEEN: We will be in Helsinki, at Trash Fest on the 30th (Thank you Jo Mama Trash!!) Then, we start recording for the new one, and gearing up for the 2012 German tour…Maybe heading into Poland Czech republic and Hungary….Oh, and we’ll be in Boston in July.
It’s still an evolving itinerary…Just taking things one day at a time.
VEGLAM: Where can the rocknroll people track down your music and band merchandise?
NEEN: They can get a hold of us on Myspace, CD Baby and I-Tunes.
God’s speed, all…