If you’ve read Veglam these last weeks, then you must be familiar with the name JJ & The REAL JERKS now. After reviewing their new 10″ “Economy Class Ego Trip” and asking them a few questions for an interview, they decided to send me their previous seven inches, so it would be a pity not to write a few words about them.
“The Wringer” (Rankoutsider Records) offers us two songs: a pure gutter rock’n’roll tune (“The Wringer”) with piano, sax and cowbell, and “Shootin’ From The Hip”, a catchy song reminding me of the best of The HELLACOPTERS.
The other record, “High Anxiety Society” is a three song 7″ (transparent vinyl!), and one of them (“Short Term Memory Lane”) has Nick Oliveri (KYUSS/QOTSA) on bass, which makes you wish he’d play in such a rock’n’roll band with killer sax and harmonica. You also get “High Anxiety Society” on the same side, a well sharpened glam punk song with guitars à la Johnny Thunders, and “Punch Out At The Record Shop” on the other side, which is as good as its title!
You still haven’t checked JJ & The REAL JERKS out? Beware, you’ll soon have no excuse… /Laurent C.
In the 80s, metal was quite a codified and uniformized world, but some bands managed to stand out with a strong identity. ROGUE MALE was definitely one of these bands, mixing the new wave of British heavy metal to punk roots wrapped in a post-apocalyptic image. I was around 14 when I got into them. I had their debut album “First Visit”, but seeing them play “Take No Shit” and The SEX PISTOLS’ “Pretty Vacant” on TV show Les Enfants du Rock was the moment that really got me addicted to them. I was into bands like MÖTLEY CRÜE, TWISTED SISTER, W.A.S.P. and SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK at that time and was just discovering punk through the PISTOLS, and in a way, ROGUE MALE was mixing the best of all these worlds. More than 25 years later, songs like “Job Centre” or “Progress” -among others- are lyrically still relevant to this day and age. ROGUE MALE survived the computerized apocalypse and are back until the next one at least. Vocalist/guitarist Jim Lyttle answered a few questions…
How did the band start? Did you have an idea about the image/concept before it actually started? Any problem with the name ROGUE MALE (copyrights…)?
Rogue Male started after I had spent some considerable time in other bands, all of which I felt didn’t really have the Killer effect, so I looked for the right musicians to create this thing called Rogue Male, as a punk rocker in circa ’77 the image was more or less a transgression from my original “Punk” image, Never had any probes with the name, “Rogue Male” is a real entity, it was also my identity. lol!
What music did you grow up to? Some of your favourite bands/artists?
I grew up listening to all kinds, mostly blues, however, my biggest influ’s are The Pirates, The Small Faces, The Who, Free, Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, The Sex Pistols, these are the bands that made me sit up and take notice and still do.
It was hard to label the band, to put it in a precise category. Did it scare record companies at some point? On the other hand, did it help to get a wider audience?
My thing is versatility, I wanted to be able to swing from all of my influ’s come what may, Record companies haven’t a clue anyway, as I found out lol, and yes I think it did appeal to a wider audience.
ROGUE MALE appeared on French national TV and had a good coverage in the French press. The band was almost introduced as the new SEX PISTOLS! How did that happen? Did you have good connections here?
Apart from the fact that we had just toured France and went down a storm, we also picked up an award for Top International New Artist at around that time so all these things fell into place at the right time I guess. The Sex Pistols thing came about I think because we had a write up in which it described us as the most dangerous band since the Sex Pistols, we also did the Pretty Vacant cover for the show lol, one of my favorite songs of all time.
What were your favourite venues to play in those days? Best shows to you? Worst ones?
The Marquee in London was always a favorite of ours, also Hammy Odeon, The Ulster Hall In Belfast was a cracker to do, my home town of course, many great venues throughout England, to numerous to mention, the worst venues, well there was plenty of them, Bogies in Cardiff, Wales comes to mind, being ridiculously small, could not swing a mouse, never mind a cat lol
What bigger bands did you open for in those days? Who were the coolest? The not so cool ones?
We opened for Motorhead, MSG, Anti Nowhere League,Girlschool, to name a few, The Coolest was Girlschool, I think it was Kim’s black fishnets that did it lol, the totally uncool was MSG, complete WANKER lol, long story short, Micheal insisted that I didn’t move out of a 2ft duct tape square on the stage floor that he had placed there for me, I told him that I had no control from the neck down when onstage lol so go fuck yourself, we blew them away anyway, lol fuckin cheesy wimpos.
Main differences between “First Visit” and “Animal Man” to you? I’ve heard that you weren’t satisfied with the mix of “Animal Man”?
If you hear us playing these songs live from both these albums, no diff, however the recorded difference is that The First Album cost £10,000 and we were in control, the second cost £80,000, and the record company was in control, like I said before, they have not got a clue, anyway eventually our mix of that record is the one that was released in the end, Elektra re-mixed it again at a cost of £20,000, and to be honest it was SHITE, thats when we made up our minds to get rid, they were not acting in our best interest and never would. They think when they sign you up to a record deal, that they own you, doh!
How did you meet Danny Fury who later joined the LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH?
I met Danny Fury after he came for an audition with Rogue Male, after he got the job, I suggested he change his name to FURY because that suited the band better, his real name Fleury doesn’t exactly conjure up enough mystic, I’m sure Danny would agree, lol, we are still best buddies tho lol
What was the biggest problem that led to the band’s split? The record label or the management?
Problem was for us that our manager also owned the record company, he also set up a publishing company in between me and The real Publishing company Zomba, hence conflict of interest right across the board, again not acting in our best interest, doh!
If you could change one thing from these days, what would it be?
If I’d known then what I know now, the whole deal would have been different, I would have licensed my material to them rather than actually signing to them, and the manager would have been given 20% from the net, not 33and a 3rd from the gross. doh!
Did you ever think about starting the band again with new members in those days? Or did you try and start a new band after ROGUE MALE’ split?
Rogue Male was such a shit hot band that it was very difficult for me to start again with others, I did try but the magic was just not there, so I led it to rest, longer than I ever anticipated mind you, but that’s another story.
What did you do before giving ROGUE MALE a new birth in 2007? Was it something you were thinking about long before happened?
It was always my intention to get RM back together, sooner rather than later, alas the factors all have to fall into place, that silly thing called “life” gets in the fuckin way a lot, lol but hey we are here now and raring to go full throttle.
You released an album (“Nail It”) in 2009. How are things for ROGUE MALE since then?
At the moment we are in rehearsals and have a new album written and ready to record, we have had set back after set with unreliable personnel over the last year or so, but we shall motor on undeterred in our quest to get Rogue Male back on top. It’s difficult trying to get out there again, the music biz has become an even bigger fiasco than it ever was, but the music and the fans keep it alive for me, so its on forward go, I’m overwhelmed at the response we have had recently and we are determined to give our fans every ounce of ROGUE MALE.
Third album for French songwriter BILLY THE KILL as a solo artist (he also plays in 70s hard rock/90s power pop influenced band BILLY GAZ STATION and is also part of SIMON CHAINSAW’s backing band.)
Opening in a stripped down folk way with “The World Is Yours”, which title already sounds as a promise, BILLY THE KILL quickly gets caught back by melancholy with “Everything In Past Is True”, reminding a bit of the STEREOPHONICS.
In the manner of Lenny Kravitz, our boy Billy plays almost every instrument on these 10 songs, and there sure has some KRAVITZ traces in “Somewhere In My Mind” and in “The Hardest Is a Better Way To Begin.”
Billy also gives a second birth to one of his catchiest old tunes, “I Can Write Some Songs”, and will surprise you with two unexpected covers: “Les Lendemains Qui Chantent” from French cult band LES THUGS, and “Holy Diver” ( a very personal, yet astounding version!) as a tribute to Ronnie James DIO.
On this album -which is also his best produced so far- Billy’s 90s indie/grungy/power pop influences mostly show on the rockin’ and DINOSAUR JR. sounding “Self-Destruction Ambition”; and as the album slowly gets to the end, you can only think that “An Open Book With Spelling Mistakes” is a very successful exploration of Billy’s musical/cultural world, an illustration of moods and emotions… and most importantly, always keeping things pop. Laurent C.
The ASHTONES from Lille, France are not your typical week-end punk rock band. They’re for real and they still do what they do best despite tragedy trying to stop them (two guitar players died in a year…)
Opening with the TURBONEGRO flavoured “Hobo Of Loboten”, The ASHTONES display their natural tendency to slide into the glam punk territory on this album (“Old Junkie Two-Step”, “Street Credibility”, “Teenage Hunting”) and even add some 60s garage guitars (“Legend (You Think I Am”) when needed. This doesn’t mean that they stopped playing high-energy punk’n’roll and 77 punk songs (“Howlin’ Degenarate”) , this especially shows at the end of the album with songs like “Toxic Troopers” or “Undefinite Monster Crew” and “Monkey On Yer Back” (quite of a TURBONEGRO touch here too!)
Just admit that “… From The Outskirts Of Town” should be on your punk rock’n’roll buy list./Laurent C.
The Berlin-based French synth pop duo has been around for 8 years already, and have released 2 albums, 1 EP as well as a few songs for various compilations. Thus, Rustblade records has rightfully decided to release this “best-of” compilation (the limited box also includes a DVD with some videos and live footage.)
While duos were really popular until a few years ago, it seems like the trend has been fading out a bit lately, but the best ones remain, and VELVET CONDOM is definitely one of them. Their mix of synthpop and post-punk with glammy vocals has always managed to evolve through the years… Starting as a minimalistic neue deutsche welle influenced duo, they then developped their style to get closer to 80s French coldwave, and finally included little by little more noisy (almost shoegaze) guitars on their last album “Stadtgeil”, a fine mix of dirty pop and weird wave in their own words.
So, whether you like to dance to 80s drum machine/synth beats (“Never Ever”, “Kalter “Lippenstift”), enjoy more dreamy-sexy atmospheres such as “Collapse In Slow Motion”, “Rouge City” or “Menace”, or 90s noisy guitars mixed to fine melodies (“Separ-Hate”) you’ll find what you need among these 19 songs. Add the creepy post-punk blues “Silky Lolita” and and the dark and catchy “Self Injury”, and you’ll get the perfect VELVET CONDOM compilation. Influences from a band like The CURE are also obvious on early songs such as “Trash Vaudeville” and “Poison & Maquillage”. Among the few rarities that have been added, 70s glam fans will also enjoy the amazing version of BRIAN ENO’s “Driving Me Backwards” that closes the record.
Icing on the cake, “Vanity & Revolt” is a great title and the cover art looks really good. Come on and feel the Velvet touch!/Laurent C.
After reviewing their new vinyl EP “Economy Class Ego Trip”, we wanted to know more about JJ & The REAL JERKS. JJ answered our questions…
Can you tell us a bit about the band’s history? What have you released so far?
The band started in mid 2009, essentially as a recording project just to get some ideas out. Eventually when we had enough material, we started playing out live and releasing records. So far we’ve put out 3 seven inch singles, and one 12 inch EP, and currently working on a new recording now.
You played your first show opening for MICHAEL MONROE, how was it and how did it happen?
That was an amazing night! It was at a small 200 person venue in Redondo Beach, right under the pier. It was one of Michael Monroe’s first shows with his new band, before their record was even out. We kind of just got lucky to get on that bill, it was a Sunday night and we got in front of a good amount of people. I think we only rehearsed once and played like 5 songs, it was loose to say the least, but really fun! Michael Monroe ruled, and it was pretty great to get that opportunity to see him perform right in my neighborhood!
How did you get to work with Rankoutsider Records?
I’ve been friends with Pat Todd’s rhythm guitarist Kevin Keller for a few years now. He got us an opening slot with The Rankoutsiders a couple years ago, and Pat was there to see our set. I gave him a few of our older recordings, and through that the relationship with the label began. We’ve released ‘The Wringer’ 7” single, as well as the latest ‘Economy Class Ego Trip’ EP on Rankoutsider. I also had the opportunity to play sax on two songs on their new record that will be out this year.
Greg Kuehn (The JONESES/TSOL) appears on the EP. How did you meet? When did you hear The JONESES and TSOL for the first time?
I met Greg when my old band got to play with Prima Donna & The Joneses at a club in West LA back in 2008 or so. Around that time, Full Breach Kicks had just re-issued a few of the Joneses records, and the band was starting to play shows around town again. TSOL I had been familiar with just through being into the early LA and OC punk rock stuff. Greg’s an amazing musician, and when we were looking for those real rollicking ‘ham-fisted’ piano parts, he was more than willing to lay down some tracks for us!
You probably get a lot of comparisons with The HANGMEN. Your opinion about the band?
I think they’re great! I’ve gotten to catch them a few times. One of the best shows I saw was them along with the Zeros (the original Zeros from Chula Vista) on New Year’s eve a few years back at a tiny bar in downtown LA.
J.J., you also play sax in WALTER LURE’s West Coast backing band, right?
Yes, since about 2009. I met Joey Pinter (The Waldos lead guitarist who played on the Rent Party record) through Real Jerks bassist Hiroshi Yamazaki. Walter wanted to line up a few SoCal shows, and Joey basically put the backing band together. They were looking for a sax player and through Hiroshi I got the gig. Since then, Walter has come out to LA about three times. We actually just played a show a few weeks ago put together by Roy J. Morgan, it was the fourth annual Johnny Thunders tribute show that he does. It was a blast. Close to 400 people came out, and just about every good rock n’ roll band from L.A. was on the bill!
Do you only release your records on vinyl? It seems like this format is getting more popular than the CDs nowadays…
All of the releases have come out on vinyl & digital so far. Usually 300-500 copies pressed on colored wax. I’ve always been a big record collector, so it just seemed natural to release the music on this format. It’s definitely not the cheapest route, but it’s been a great experience and I’ve learned a lot. The pressing plant we use is local here in LA, and I’ve gotten to know them pretty well over the years. Also it seems like people will pay a little more attention to a vinyl release. It’s more likely to get reviewed, airplay on radio stations etc.
Do you feel like a new American rock’n’roll scene is rising from the underground with bands like PRIMA DONNA or The BITERS?
It’s definitely still an underground ‘niche’ thing, but what’s really cool is to see more and more younger guys and girls showing up at the gigs, and maybe even forming bands of their own. There seem to be a lot of younger groups that are looking to bands like the Dolls, Stooges, MC5 etc as an influence, and still putting a modern spin on it.
What are the last live bands you’ve enjoyed?
The Night Marchers, The Hives, Fidlar, The Zeros, Crazy Squeeze, Dirty Eyes, Telephone Lovers, Black Mambas,
Aside from doing JJ & The Real Jerks, I play bass in The Legendary Swagger, which is a five piece straight ahead rock n’ roll/punk band. A few of the guys in that band Geoff Yeaton, Skot Pollok and Richie Mendez play in the Real Jerks too. They’ve been around for a while, I loved their band so much they were one of the major influences on me forming The Real Jerks. Eventually I got a couple of those guys to agree to play in my band, and in turn, they let me join their band as the bass player!! We play out a couple times a year.
They have a French name, they sing in French… But they are German! This is quite an original thing, right? At least not something you get to hear too often…
4 female fronted power pop songs with a well-dosed French Yéyé touch (“Sentiment”, “Guitare Solo”) and strong punk rock roots (“Amitié’, “Automatique”…), this is actually surprising how this uncommon mix can work! While I usually don’t like many French singing punk rock bands, the melodic side of these songs added to the “exotic” charm of Amélie’s vocals make this EP very enjoyable. Just check it by yourself mes amis!/Laurent C.
21 years is a long time for an independent record label in this day and age. To celebrate this, Wolverine Records released this 26 song compilation.
You’ll get some punk rock (DIRTBOX DISCO, DRONGOS FOR EUROPE, FIGHTBALL, TOMMY GUN, STRAWBERRY BLONDES…), some psychobilly (KITTY IN A CASKET, 6 FEET DOWN, BONSAI KITTEN, The P.O.X., The SILVER SHINE…), some rockabilly (ADRIANO BATOLBA ORCHESTRA, CRY BABIES covering The RAMONES ‘ “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”, JENNY & The STEADY GO’S…) and a bit of glam punk (MATT VOODOO offering us a cool cover of DRAMARAMA’s classic “Anything, Anything, Anything” and MIKE ZERO)
Honestly, 26 songs is definitely too much for me (and I’m not too familiar with psychobilly for instance!), but you can only support the whole thing. Moreover, it’s sold for cheap!./Laurent C.