“Soundtrack To The End Of The World” is a concept album originally written in 2012 featuring Max Splodge from SPLODGENESSABOUNDS on narration duties. Zak Splash being a fictional artist from the 70s who has a comeback hit in this millennium. The opening track “Zak Splash opens on a quite heroic note reminding me a bit of The WANDERERS or The DAMNED. This is punk rock with girl vocals and a post-apocalyptic atmosphere. The keyboard touch adds an interesting new wave touch to the songs while “Invicible” sounds more like a mix of punk rock, post-punk and 80s heavy rock, quite an original mix! You’ll also get a bit of pop in “Less Every Day” or in “Fake Like You”, a touch of goth rock in “Splash On You” and almost post rock vibes in “You Can Do It.” It sometimes sounds as a jam between BLONDIE and SIOUXSIE & The BANSHEES so it can’t be bad, right? The Fire Goes Out” is a kind of futuristic ska putting an end to this uncommon album. “Soundtrack To The End Of The World” is not your typical punk rock record and might not be the easiest album to get into but it’s definitely worth it. Keyboardist Andy Thierum was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2014 and Proceeds from this release go to the MS Society. The album is out on FFR UK. /Laurent C.
British trio GIRLS IN SYNTHESIS are hard to describe, evolving somewhere between noisy rock and post-punk. Embracing the DIY ethics since 2016 the band is also more a collective than a traditional group, think CRASS for instance! This new EP is out on German label Hound Gawd Records and opens with “Pulling Teeth”, a 9 minute song with a repetitive krautrock beat and aggressive distortion. The second part of the song sounds a bit like a spoken word mixed to SUICIDE and ATARI TEENAGE RIOT. “Enveloped” brings out industrial elements to the dark party with vocals reminding a bit of PIL while “Bypassing” mixes dark techno to noisy rock in a very interesting way. Then, right after the cold and post-apocalyptic “Interlude” you’ll dive into frozen post-punk with “The Engine” which is described as “A nauseous blend of high anxiety in the modern age.” Quite a good soundtrack for today’s society! /Laurent C.
This punk rock band from Berlin is definitely influenced by the ’77 scene but you’ll also get an indie vibe when listening to these songs. A bit of PIXIES in “Underdog” or even a little ARCTIC MONKEYS in “Scapegoat.” The vocals are snotty enough to please any PISTOLS/BUZZCOCKS fan and you’ll find enough guitar melodies to seduce Brit pop lovers, especially with songs like “Down” or “Bad Parenting.” The guitars actually remind me of The LIBERTINES at times. Since the band mixes both punk and pop so well, it’s not very surprising to find some RAMONES and BOYS influences in “Beat Of The Street” or in “Lovedrunk.” Bass player Imke did a great job with the backing vocals, they give a little HANOÏ ROCKS vibe in “Cat Caller” You”ll also get a bit of post-punk with “Filmriss” and “Stereo” and you’ll probably want to listen to “Adolescent Depression” again just after you’ve listened to it for the first time. I wasn’t expecting some blues to end this record but it actually was a good idea since “Blue” sounds like a jam with the ghost of Jeffrey Lee Pierce. This cool album is a Co-release by Family Spree Recordings (Spain) & Dirt Cult Records (USA). /Laurent C.
Razzle was the heartbeat of HANOÏ ROCKS, the perfect drummer for the most flamboyant band. Unfortunately, Razzle is also famous because of is tragic death in a car crash in 1984 while MÖTLEY CRÜE’s Vince Neil was driving. Ari Väntänen already wrote about HANOÏ ROCKS and Michael Monroe so he probably was the right person to write about Razzle. We asked him a few questions about this extremely well documented new book…
When did you start working on the book?
I think it was around the late 2018. I was personally interested to learn about Razzle’s life, and around that time it really started to bug me that most people only remember him as the guy who died while someone more famous was driving. The more I looked into it, the more important it felt to write this book. Razzle was all about life, and his life made a great story.
My original plan was to write the book in English only, but then my Finnish publisher Like heard about it and wanted to make a Finnish version as well. So, I translated my own text to my own language, and the Finnish book came out first in September 2020. Svart put out the English version in January 2022.
You say that there was something Dickensian about Razzle that sparkled your interest as a kid. Can you explain?
I guess there was something larger than life in him, you know, the top hat and the striped suit and all, and at the same time he seemed so streetwise. I guess he had to be, because the more he concentrated on his music, the less money he had, before joining Hanoi. Like Artful Dodger in Oliver Twist, he was a kid inside but had learned early to take care of himself.
Was it easy to choose who you were going to interview and get all the photos and documents?
It would have been difficult without the Facebook group Remembering Razzle. That’s where I found many of his friends, band mates, and relatives. Most of the group members were happy to contribute with stories, photos and stuff. I wanted the book to be like a gathering of people who knew him and wanted to reminisce his life, so the more the merrier. What I found curious was that very few people ever argued with him about anything. I even tried to ask people how can it be, but it seems like Razzle just was really easy to get along with.
Is there anyone you would have liked to interview but couldn’t because they didn’t want to get interviewed, you couldn’t find them or because they are not part of this world anymore?
There were a few people who rather kept their memories personal, which they had every right to do. For example, I would have liked to hear Nasty Suicide’s stories because they were close and even shared a flat in London, but he’s not really into dwelling in the past and politely declined. After the book came out he messaged me that he had read it and liked it, which I was happy about.
I also would have liked to chat with Seppo Vesterinen, Hanoi‘s manager, but never heard back from him. Then I found out he hadn’t been well, and he passed away some time later. It was the same with Shaun Newnham of Thin Red Line and Scott Bushburt of the Fuck Pigs, who also died during the writing process. I never got to talk to them, but they or their families sent me some photos for the book. I did a great interview with Timo Kaltio and was in disbelief when I heard he had suddenly passed away, too.
So many people leaving this world before the book was finished made me think that it was high time to tell this story.
Razzle always looked like he should be famous and it seems like everybody loved him. Was it something that also motivated you to write about him?
Definitely. He was a star and very much down to earth at the same time. He had natural charisma but wasn’t arrogant or looking down on anybody. It’s a good combination and made me feel I wanted to know more about him.
Were you familiar with his previous bands before HANOI when you started working on the book?
I knew the bands’ names and I had The Dark live album The Living End, but I didn’t know much about them. For me personally, writing about the pre-Hanoi years were the most fascinating part of the project. I was already very familiar with the latter part of the story, but what did Razzle do before Hanoi Rocks? What were Thin Red Line, The Fuck Pigs and Demon Preacher like? How did he end up joining The Dark? Who did he play with?
It seems like Razzle played an important role when it comes to keeping HANOI ROCKS together through the dark times…
Yes, he got along with everybody in the band even when some of the other guys had issues with each other. They told me Razzle was the glue that held Hanoi together, and they all love him dearly. Like Michael Monroe says in the book, Razzle saved Hanoi Rocks. He kept the band’s spirits up until the end, and it wasn’t easy for him.
Razzle’s drumming really fit HANOI ROCKS’ music. The stories about recording with Bob Ezrin are very interesting.
Ezrin really made him and the whole band work hard. It seemed like the producer tried to bring out the best in Razzle as a drummer instead of trying to turn him into someone he wasn’t as a musician. His playing had a lot of personality and character and I think Ezrin respected that.
It’s funny that he mentioned he would love to play with HEART although his roots were more punk and early hard rock’n’roll. Can you imagine how HEART would have sounded with him behind the kit?
Honestly, I can’t! More punk and rock’n’roll, I guess. Or maybe he would have rehearsed a lot to adapt to their style, like he did when he joined The Dark and Hanoi Rocks. I know he liked Heart a lot, but maybe talking about joining them was his way of saying he wanted to make it big as a musician, like a mainstream big time. Having said that, I have no doubt he would have joined Heart if he had a chance!
Razzle seemed to be very open minded when it comes to music; We also learn that he loved The BIRTHDAY PARTY and a lot of different styles…
Yes, he was and did. Besides the obvious punk and rock’n’roll stuff like The Damned, Johnny Thunders, New York Dolls and Alice Cooper, he liked heavier bands like Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Van Halen and Anvil, and listened to Frank Zappa and The Birthday Party as well.
Have you managed to get more information about this Rebel Yell flyer no one seems to remember?
No! It’s the weirdest thing. Usually, some people online at least claim they know what these things were about, but not in this case. For those who don’t know, there is a mystery gig fIyer about a band called Rebel Yell featuring Razzle of Hanoi Rocks playing a show in London. If someone reading this was in Rebel Yell in London in 1984, please come clean!
Have you ever thought about what Razzle could be doing now if he was still alive?
Pure speculation, of course, but to me he seemed like someone who might have become a family man. I’m 100% sure he would live in some warm and sunny place. He really hated cold!
At the end of the book, we get to think that this story could really be a movie. What did you think of the Razzle scenes in The Dirt?
Yeah, I agree, with all its comedy and tragedy Razzle’s life would make a great movie.
The Dirt… Depends how you look at it. I think Max Milner did a good job portraying the character that was written in the movie script. HOWEVER, I don’t think the character captured who Razzle really was. I believe the real Razzle seemed more friendly, funny and gentle.
But I guess it didn’t really matter who Razzle actually was in the context of that movie. He was just a casualty. That was one of the reasons why I wanted to write this book. I wanted to show the world what he really was like. Full of life and living life to the full, a fun-loving guy who was and still is loved by many.
Not trying to spoil anything, but Cyndi Lauper is mentioned a couple of times in the book. Do you know if they actually met?
I don’t know if they did, but they may have, as Hanoi was on CBS like Lauper.
You wrote a book about HANOÏ ROCKS, the authorized Michael Monroe biography and this book about Razzle. Do you plan on writing on the other band members or related musicians too? Any idea if the Michael Monroe biography will be available in English some day?
I have no plans to do so, but I probably wouldn’t say no if someone asked me to, if I just had the time. I know of a couple of people in the London rock scene in the 80’s who are currently working on their memoirs, so there might more stories on the way without me being involved. And I heard Sami Yaffa’s (& Tommi Liimatta’s) book will be available in English this spring. Yes, I do believe the Monroe book will be out in English some day!
4 new songs and a cool cover art-work by Los Angeles dark rock band BLACK MARKET HEART. “Feed Me Poison” opens this EP with some fine venomous post-punk full of energy while “Tidal Wave” has more to do with proto-punk and The STOOGES. Male and female vocals are mixed and give an interesting melodic effect to the songs, sometimes close to The PIXIES. The biggest surprise on this EP is a great cover of The TOILET BOYS‘ glam punk hit “Another Day In The Life”, here played with a garage rock twist. “Reach Out” closes this EP in a CRAMPS meets grunge gloomy rock’n’roll way. Short, but definitely worth checking! /Laurent C.
We thought it would be interesting to send a few questions to Canadian 80s post-punk/dark rock influenced band ACTORS after seeing them at Berlin’s Lido. Bass player Jahmeel Russell tells us more…
How was your European summer tour?
It’s been fantastic. As of this writing we have three more shows to go in Spain before we finish. This tour’s been six weeks all together so we’ve had the chance to play more cities and country’s than the first time we came over.
When I saw you in Berlin, you said that it was your first time there. How many times have you toured in Europe before?
This is ACTORS second time over here. I’ve been over here previously with some other bands.
There was an encore on that night and you weren’t expected it, so you had to play songs that you have already played in the set. Did this happen anywhere else on this tour?
Berlin was the only city we played a song again in for an encore and that’s because we were physically forced back on stage by members of the crowd (Ha Ha). We’ve had encores at pretty much every show on this tour, we just haven’t played them because we play all of our songs in the set. The audiences excitement and energy at all the shows has been killer.
80s influences can be heard in your music, I’m thinking of KILLING JOKE , The CULT, The MISSION, The SISTERS OF MERCY, among others. Some would call it goth rock or dark rock. While dark genres are still quite popular nowadays, full drum/bass/guitar bands are getting rare. Did you have the idea of a dark rock band from the start?
Jason started this by himself but I don’t think there was ever a moment where he thought about doing it live without a band. For me there’s a certain power in live drums and bass that cannot be matched.
Considering the name of the band and the number of videos you have on YouTube, is cinema somthing you’re particularly interested in?
Yes. Cinema’s really important. It’s a source of inspiration and creativity.
Jahmeel, you often wear metal/black metal shirts on stage. For some reason it made me think about when bands I liked as a teenager were wearing band shirts that were different from their own music. For instance, I remember I got into SKINNY PUPPY because Slash was wearing their shirts. Do you get a lot of metal people at ACTORS shows, or people who come to you and talk about it?
We actually do. Speaking from my own experience with music growing up I was always drawn to dark music. I could jump between a Darkthrone and Depeche Mode record quite easily. The genre of music I listen to the most is black metal and I’ve found at most shows I meet fans of the band who are into what we do but are also into black/death metal. I love to talk about this music so it’s always a pleasure to meet fans who are into it.
Did you see Lords of Chaos? What did you think about it?
I did. It was ok but just entertainment, nothing more. For anyone really interested in what happened back then this is not the place to look.
5 of your favourite albums and a few words about them: GODFLESH – Streetcleaner.
I got this on tape in the early 90’s. At that point I had heard a lot of the other Earache bands from that time, most of which I am still a fan of but this record really spoke to me the most. That bass tone and Justin Broadrick’s guitar playing were very influential to me. Still one of the heaviest albums ever.
Depeche Mode – Songs of Faith and Devotion.
While I would probably say Violator is my favourite album this is the one I find myself listening to the most these days. Condemnation has got to be one of the most beautiful songs ever and my favourite vocal performance from Dave Gahan.
Bathory – Under the Sign of the Black Mark
This was the first Bathory album I heard when I was a kid and it has stuck with me ever since. The main riff in Call From the Grave still gives me chills. It’s hard to pick just one as the first four albums are all mandatory.
One of my favourite black metal bands for me this is their peak. I remember buying this CD without hearing a note just because it was on the NOEVDIA label. I was not disappointed. It’s like Under a Funeral Moon x 1000. An utterly chaotic masterpiece.
Black Cilice – Banished From Time
Probably my current favourite black metal band. I enjoy all of their releases. The first time I heard them it had the same impact as when I first heard Xasthur in the mid-2000’s. Very raw and produced in such a way that makes it very unique. It’s haunting, aggressive, yet I also find myself falling into a trance listening to it. I have the new album “Transfixion of Spirits” on CD and LP waiting for me when I get home from this tour and I can’t wait to dive in. My most anticipated album of the year along with the new Teitanblood.
You’re a hard working band, so I guess you already have a lot of things planned after the European tour?
We have 10 days off after this tour then we head down to the USA for another run of dates that will take us to the end of October. In November we have two more shows in Vancouver and Seattle respectively and at that point we will have done about 150 dates in support of this record. More tour dates and a new album are already in the works for 2020.
Spencer Robinson is back with a new project and this 3 song EP. This time he chose to explore darker 80s/early 90s sounds. “Can’t Live On The Other” side is heavily influenced by The JESUS AND MARY CHAIN although the vocals sound gloomier than Jim Reid’s while “Undet The Ivy” brings The SISTERS OF MERCY to mind. The third song on here, “Silver” starts with an industrial drum machine, and then evloves to dark alternative rock with psychedelic guitars and a repetitive bass line. 3 songs is short, but we’ll hopefully get to hear more soon… Laurent C.
This is the first song from Spencer Robinson and the Wolf Spiders’ new record “Beneath the Surface,” out in November on Rusty Knuckles Records. This is a song about one night drinking in a bar in Los Angeles that resulted in a couple of fights and some broken bottles. It’s about the things people sometimes say and do when they’re fueled by alcohol.