Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Dj Cold Cut & DJ Dragon Smasher Mash-up Run The Jewels & Run-D.M.C. Classics On Run The DMC; Plus New RTJ4 Singles (Pig Food Records)

Honestly, at this point in time, Run The Jewels (RTJ) should require absolutely no introduction... but, just to be safe, here's a brief/obligatory introduction: RTJ consists of rapper/producer and Definitive "Def" Jux co-founder El-P and emcee and OutKast affiliate Killer Mike. Legend has it, El & Mike first met on the set of Mr. Muthaf**kin' eXquire's "The Last Huzzah" (Remix) music video shoot. Soon after, [adult swim] Senior Vice President/Creative Director Jason DeMarco—then, at Williams Street Records—connected Killer Mike with El-P, who would produce his phenomenal 2012 album, R.A.P. Music. Mike, additionally, appeared alongside El on his own 2012 Fat Possum Records album, Cancer 4 Cure, on stand-out track, "Tougher Colder Killer." R.A.P. Music & Cancer 4 Cure were released weeks apart, so fast friends Killer Mike & El-P decided to tour together behind their then-new albums. After the widespread success of said tour, El-P & Killer Mike, finally, made it official and formed Run The Jewels in 2013, taking inspiration for their super-group's name from LL Cool J's "Cheesy Rat Blues" from 1990's Mama Said Knock You Out.

Later in 2013, Run The Jewels released their self-titled album (often, referred to as RTJ1) on Fool's Gold Records boasting features from OutKast's Big Boi, Until The Ribbon Breaks, and Prince Paul as "Chest Rockwell." Just about one year later, in October 2014, Run The Jewels returned with Run The Jewels 2 (RTJ2) released on Nasty Nas' own Mass Appeal Records. For RTJ2, El-P & Killer Mike brought in Zack de la Rocha, BOOTS, Travis Barker, Gangsta Boo (Three 6 Mafia,) and Diane Coffee for neck-snapping features throughout. 2016 ushered in Run The Jewels 3 (RTJ3) issued on Mike & El's own Run The Jewels, Inc. this time, with guest features from Joi, Danny Brown, Tunde Adebimpe (TV On The Radio,) BOOTS, Trina, Kamasi Washington, Danger Mouse, Matt Sweeney, and Zack de la Rocha. Prior to this whole Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic, RTJ were panning to go on tour with Rage Against The Machine as part of their 2020 Public Service Announcement "comeback" tour, but who knows what's happening with all that now.

Run The Jewels have been feverishly working towards finishing up Run The Jewels 4 (RTJ4,) which was, supposedly, co-produced by none other than Rick Rubin. Just last week, ahead of RTJ4's official unveiling, Run The Jewels released, not one, but TWO singles from the long-awaited album: "Yankee & The Brave (Ep.4)" and "Ooh LA LA" Feat. Greg Nice & DJ Premier. Amidst all the calamity, both RTJ4-related and otherwise, Pig Food Records quietly uploaded a mysterious 12-track collection called Run The DMC credited to "Dj Cold Cut & DJ Dragon Smasher." Yes, as you may have suspected, Run The DMC is a mash-up/remix album features beats and rhymes from none other than Run The Jewels AND Run-D.M.C. With a little digital sleuthing, we soon learned DJ Dragon Smasher was, in fact, Pig Food Records co-founder Mitchell "Mitch" Smith AKA Dood Computer; "Mitch and our pal @djcoldcutno1 made what we think is a pretty dang fun project that should help you kill 30 or so minutes of your day..." @pigfoodrecords posted on their Instagram page, along with multiple download links to said project.

Not only does Run The DMC feature beats and rhymes culled from Run The Jewels & Run-D.M.C. classics, it features "guest appearances" from some of their sharp-tongued friends and affiliates, including Jermaine Dupri, Method Man, Zack de la Rocha, Big Boi, Sleepy Brown, and Kurtis Blow throughout. It's definitely, as the label attests, an extremely fun listen that displays the lineage between Run-D.M.C./LL Cool J and Run The Jewels. Ch-ch-check out a few select tracks from Dj Cold Cut & DJ Dragon Smasher's Run The DMC mash-up album, along with Run The Jewels' own "Yankee & The Brave (Ep.4)" & "Ooh LA LA." Run The DMC is currently available to purchase, stream, or download directly from Pig Food Records' Bandcamp page. RTJ4 was originally supposed to be released "before Coachella," which was to be held April 10-12 & April 17-19, but that has since been postponed until October 2020. "DONT ASK WHEN IT DROPS WE DONT KNOW YET WE WILL SOON..." El-P (@thereallyrealelp) recently wrote within an Instagram caption.

"Trapped in the house and bored out of your mind? Perfect! Mitch and our pal, @djcoldcutno1, made what we think is a pretty dang fun project that should help you kill 30 or so minutes of your day... even more, if you listen to it more than once. We, actually, finished it a while ago, but just recently had it mixed by @pjkatz.pts. It, also, didn't have any artwork, until this past week. If you like @runthejewels (@killermike & @thereallyrealelp) and/or @rundmc (@kingdmc & @revwon,) you should, maybe, give this a spin. It's FREE, so spread it around! Available at..."

- Pig Food Records (@pigfoodrecords)

Monday, March 30, 2020

Liberty & Justice Share Socially Distant Remotely-recorded Punk/Oi! Cover of Robyn's "Dancing On My Own" (Liberty & Justice Letter Tracing)

Liberty & Justice are a Street Rock "N" Roll/Punk/Oi! band hailing from Houston, Texas, whose current line-up consist of frontman Ryan "Crowns" Taylor, drummer Cory "Gaza" Parker, bassist Edwin Carson, and guitarists Halston Luna & Ramzi Beshara. Collectively, Liberty & Justice's members either have played or currently play with Black Coffee, Darkbuster, Fm359 (ex-Dropkick Murphys,) Fun Haunts, The Killer Hearts, Peloton, Poizon, Roger Miret & The Disasters, Thug Boots, Trash Magz, and tWeezer. Liberty & Justice self-release their self-titled demo/debut EP in 2017-18, followed by a 2018 split EP with The Abductors entitled Short Haired Rock n' Roll on Arrest Records, their full-length debut, 4 ALL, on LA-based imprint Crowd Control Media, and, most recently, a single-sided limited edition 2019 cassette tape (re-released digitally as Just Us) on sister sound. Now, amidst the global Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic, whilst actively chipping away at their second full-length, Liberty & Justice have returned with some new music for everyone sitting at home.

"With half the band currently out of work and no more shows 'til, at least, June 13," Liberty & Justice's members teamed up from home to collectively record and release a cover of Robyn's 2010 single, "Dancing On My Own." Vocalist Ryan Taylor delivers and impassioned, grizzly-voiced rendition of Robyn's infectious classic, with Cory Parker, Edwin Carson, Halston Luna & Ramzi Beshara contributing their parts from their respective homes. Liberty & Justice's players took turns recording their parts of "Dancing On My Own" at the band's practice space (practicing safe Social Distancing!) and newest member, Beshara, edited everything together in GarageBand. If you're interested in supporting, there's currently a GoFundMe page set up for frontman/East End Barber shop owner Ryan Taylor and his out-of-work staff during these unknown times. Liberty & Justice's cover of Robyn's "Dancing On My Own" is now available on YouTube and the band promises, it will soon become available on streaming services, as well. Below, you can re-visit Robyn's original version of "Dancing On My Own" for comparison against Liberty & Justice's Punk/Oi!-leaning rendition.

"With half the band currently out-of-work and no more shows 'til, at least, June 13 (praying we can still pull off that one!) and with all of us taking this deal seriously, we decided to cover one of our all-time favorite songs by one of our all-time favorite recording artists, @robynkonichiwa. We recorded everything [remotely] and, as you can see, recorded the video [remotely] then, @screamingohmygod put it all together. Hope this is a nice break in your Feed from all the negativity. Be safe out there, please, check in on one another, and, please, practice Social Distancing. Single will be available on all streaming platforms in the next couple of days."

- Liberty & Justice (@libertyandjusticeofficial)

@libertyandjusticeofficial: "For all the parents with kids stuck at home, email eastendbarber@gmail.com for the download..." (CREDIT: @erindonuts)

Friday, March 27, 2020

EPIC BEARD MEN Celebrate First Anniversary of This Was Supposed to Be Fun with "Man Overboard" Remix (Strange Famous Records)


Exactly one year ago today (well, actually, this weekend,) Sage Francis & B. Dolan released their proper full-length debut together as EPIC BEARD MEN entitled This Was Supposed to Be Fun. EPIC BEARD MEN, or just EBM, put together what many, including us, considered one of the strongest and most fun albums of 2019; for the festivities, B. Dolan & Sage Francis brought along a few friends, including Slug from Atmosphere, Blue Raspberry (Wu-Tang Clan,) Vockah Redu, Eligh, and Yugen Blakrok. We were fortunate enough to speak with both Sage Francis & B. Dolan around te time of This Was Supposed to Be Fun's wide release for an exclusive interview here at The Witzard. Today, in honor of said one-year anniversary, Sage Francis' label imprint Strange Famous Records released a special Name-Your-Price remix of EPIC BEARD MEN's "Man Overboard" to help commemorate the occasion. Not exactly a blink-182 remix, as some of you may have expected, "Man Overboard" is, in fact, mildly Rock-infused, as remixed here by Jason "JNokes" Nokes.

"We tried to submit this for the #JudgementNight #soundtrack, but it turns out, we were a couple of decades late... and its cruise ship chaos narrative seems particularly fitting at the moment," Strange Famous Records (@strangefamousrecords) posted on their Instagram page Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, amidst the Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic, both B. Dolan & Sage Francis have had to cancel their respective tours for 2020, however, it appears as though EBM will be far from inactive this year. As a direct result, B. Dolan has effectively pivoted to twice weekly livestreams at his Discord Server/Patreon pages. Dolan urges eager fans still wishing to support, go directly to his Patreon crowd-funding page and promises more new music soon. EPIC BEARD MEN's "Man Overboard" (JNokes Remix) is out now on Strange Famous Records. This Was Supposed to Be Fun is now available on streaming services, as well. Listen to the original version of "Man Overboard" down below the break.

"To celebrate the one year anniversary of EPIC BEARD MEN's This Was Supposed to Be Fun album, we're invoking the spirit of the Judgment Night Soundtrack with a Rock-infused remix of "Man Overboard" by JNokes (artwork by Charbel Abuxapqui.) There's been lots of judgment going around lately, so the theme of cruise ships being floating petri dishes seems apropos. Not only have Sage Francis & B. Dolan had to cancel their respective tours for 2020, but Karaoke Night has, also, been cancelled for tonight, folks. In place of all these cancellations, we'll do our best to keep providing you content and entertainment of various sorts, via the [Strange Famous Records] channels, so stay tuned, stay safe, and stay sane out there."

- EPIC BEARD MEN (@EpicBeardMen)

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Members of Refused, Minor Threat, The Faith & Girls Against Boys Join Forces to Form Fake Names & Share "Brick" Single (Epitaph Records)

Fake Names is a Punk/Hardcore super-group consisting of vocalist Dennis Lyxzén (Refused, INVSN, SAMURAI,) guitarist/vocalist Brian Baker (Minor Threat, Bad Religion, Dag Nasty,) second lead guitarist/vocalist Michael Hampton (Embrace, The Faith, S.O.A.) bassist Johnny Temple (Girls Against Boys, Soulside, New Wet Kojak,) and, sometimes, drummer Matt Schulz (SAVAK, Holy F*ck, Enon.) "I'm in a new band with some friends from elementary school(!) and a sharp-dressed revolutionary from Sweden," Brian Baker (@brianbakers) posted on Instagram Wednesday morning; of course, referring to Hampton, Temple, and Lyxzén, respectively. Again, it appears as though Schulz is a part-time members of Fake Names, having played live with the band in their early aughts, although, their newly-launched website adds, "Matt [Schulz] played the drums. No synthesizers," within, what appears to be, digital liner notes. Guitarists Brian Baker & Michael Hampton first started jamming together in early 2016 with absolutely no intentions past, potentially, writing s couple songs together.

However, by day's end, Baker & Hampton had written a handful of songs together and closed out said jam session with a spur-of-the-moment decision to start a band. Before too long, Michael Hampton & Brian Baker had recruited Soulside/Girls vs. Boys bassist Johnny Temple, another fellow grade school classmate of theirs. Later that year, Bad Religion & Girls Against Boys found themselves on the same bill as Refused for Riot Fest Chicago 2016 and following a chance encounter with Refused frontman Dennis Lyxzén, Brain Baker & Johnny Temple had recruited Dennis as the vocalist of their new super-group. "I'm a huge record collector and I've been hoarding all of their records for years," notes Lyxzén, who names Minor Threat & Embrace amongst his favorite bands. Fake Names have been sporadically playing shows for a few years now, sharing bills with Matt Schulz's SAVAK and like-minded Punk/Hardcore super-group HAMMERED HULLS. We've secretly been keeping an eye on Fake Names' Instagram page (@fakenamesbklyn/official) for quite a while now, as well as communicating directly, via email, with Michael Hampton himself.

Just yesterday afternoon, Fake Names burst onto the scene with a boat-load of official announcements: first and foremost, their sheer existence as a band, their signing to Epitaph Records, and the unveiling of the their debut single, "Brick." Fake Names' accompanying self-titled full-length started out as a 28-minute demo recorded at New York's Renegade Studios and Dennis Lyxzén's home studio in his native Sweden; but after playing those demo recordings for Baker's long-time Bad Religion bandmate and Epitaph founder Brett Gurewitz made an unexpected proposal. "Brett said to us, 'this isn't a demo, this is the album,'" Brian Baker recalls. "He was pretty adamant about putting it out exactly as it was, so that's what we wound up doing." Fake Names was co-produced by Michael Hampton & Geoff Sanoff (A Perfect Circle, Jawbox) with additional recording by Mark Goodell & Sohrab Habibion (SAVAK) at Seaside Lounge Studios, Brooklyn, NY. Fakes Names' self-titled debut will be released Friday, May 8, 2020 on Epitaph Records. "Brick" is now available to purchase, stream, or download on digital streaming platforms.

Fake Names 2020 (CREDIT: Glen E. Friedman)

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Guts of The Ice - An Exploration of "Puck" Rock/Hockey-core #6: Two Man Advantage's Spag Shares Hockey Punk Records (HOVID-69 Playlist)

Not entirely unlike Wrestle/Wrassle Rap or Basketball Rap, there's, apparently, a whole sub-genre of hockey-themed Punk/Hardcore—oftentimes, referred to as "Puck" Rock or Hockey-core. Yes, I've been a die-hard fan of Punk/Hardcore for 15+ years and I, too, only first heard about Puck Rock within the last few weeks. Although, once I started diggin' around, I discovered about 10-15 bands at the forefront; this was, then, gradually narrowed down to 10 "front-line" bands, which will be chronicled here over the course of coming weeks. The "top-scoring" bands we selected include: Crippled Youth, SLAPSHOT, The Hanson Brothers/Nomeansno, Two Man Advantage, The Boils, D.O.A. THE ZAMBONIS, Pansy Division, The Hextalls, and THE RAMOMS' "Gritty Is A Punk" flexi-disc. We sent out a short 6-question interview form to all of the aforementioned bands, received some back, heard a few choice words, and still have yet to hear from a few more. We'll be running those interviews, as well as features, profiles, etc. in the coming weeks. EDITOR'S NOTE: be warned, while I'm a casual hockey fan, I DO NOT claim to be an "expert" on the sport, nor will I EVER claim to know "everything" about hockey-themed Punk/Hardcore. Now, let's just try to have some fun and learn more about the sub-genre together!

For those of you who have been closely following our ongoing Guts of The Ice series may have already seen our interview with Two Man Advantage guitarist/co-founder Jeff "Captain" Kaplan. While putting together our feature with Kaplan, we, also, had a chance to connect with a few other members of Two Man: Jeff "Snapshot" Marsala," Myk "Metal Myk" Rudnick, and Spag, who provided us with plenty of archival photos, flyers, etc. for our feature with Captain. I've since been messaging back-and-forth with Spag—otherwise know as Drunk Bastard, Swag The Drunk Bastard, DJ SPAG 69, and, formerly, Bud Tkachuk—via Instagram Messenger, where he's known as @spag69. Taking direct inspiration from Carlos Ramirez's 2017 NO ECHO feature entitled Record Collector: Spag (Two Man Advantage,) Spag & I decided to cook up our own record-centric feature for Guts of The Ice. Amidst the recent Cornavirus/COVID-19 Pandenic, Spag, stuck at home, like the rest of us, agreed to hand-select about 5-10 integral Hockey Punk records and CD's from his own personal collection; those including Stompin' Tom Connors, The Hanson Brothers, D.O.A. The Riverdales, Hockey Teeth, THE ZAMBONIS, Two Man Advantage, Slap Shot (the movie,) Maxine Nightingale, The McRackins, SLAPSHOT (the band,) ...The chemistry was just right! The exciting story of the N.Y. Islanders, and CHIXDIGGIT! To accompany our feature, Spag sent us photographs of his own records, CD's, etc. cherry-picked from his vinyl collection. Plus, we curated a playlist, appropriately titled Spag's HOVID-69 (Hockeyvirus 69) Playlist for The Witzard, for you to listen along to while reading.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Puck Rock/Hardcore Purveyor

"When did it all start," I ask myself? A lot of musicians have [sung] about hockey over the years, but from what I know, it started with "The Hockey Song" by Stompin' Tom Connors, a Canadian Folk singer, around 1972-73. Since then, many bands/artist have fit hockey into their music. Most of all, Punk bands have been adding their love of hockey to music for years. Call it Hockey Punk, Hockey-core, Puck Rock... doesn't matter what you call it, it's all in-your-face, fast-paced, and hard-hitting. Here [are] a few essential hockey-related records/CD's from my personal collection that you may enjoy.

When you want to talk about Hockey Punk, how could you not start with The Ramones-loving Hanson Brothers out of Victoria/Vancouver Canada? The Hanson Brothers are members of Nomeansno, D.O.A. and a few other bands. Sudden Death is my favorite Hanson Brothers record and that's not easy to say because I really love them all. Originally, issued on CD by Virgin Music Canada and vinyl in The Netherlands only (1996.) Later on, Wrong Records released this record on vinyl. The cover is a play on D.O.A.'s "The Prisoner" 7-inch, as it should be, as Joey Sh*thead is a huge hockey fan and D.O.A. has done songs about hockey, as well.

Sh*t, my band even played hockey with them before a SXSW gig in Austin! They rolled up with nets and sticks to the gig. Playing hockey with Joey Sh*thead! The record starts off with a cover of Stompin' Tom Connors' "The Hockey Song." "OH! The good ol' hockey game, is the best game you can name. And the best game you can name, is the good ol' hockey game!" It just sets you up for a full-on great listen. Other great tracks include "Danielle (She Don't Care About Hockey,)" Stick Boy, "He Looked Alot Like Tiger Williams," and "Rink Rat." The Hanson Brothers' snotty, catchy as f**k Ramones-style of Punk Rock is in full-effect on this record. Johnny Hanson, also, has released two Puck Rock compilation CD's, Johnny Hanson Presents... Puck Rock, Vol. 1-2, which include over 40 songs about hockey.

Speaking of Ramones-type bands, how can I not mention Chicago's [The] Riverdales. Ben Weasel [Screeching Weasel] and company released this great little single, "Blood On The Ice" / "No Sense" on Honest Don's Records. When I got this record in '97, it stayed on the turntable for the entire hockey season. My roommate and I would play it each time a fight would break out during a hockey game. It's just that kind of song that will get you pumped up. Who doesn't love to see blood on the ice?

Fighting, as always, has been a big part of the game. People say the game is violent and there is no need for it. I'm an old school fan that thinks we need it in the game. It's all about protecting your #1 guy. You think Gretzky would have put numbers up like that without Marty McSorley protecting his skinny a$$? I bet McSorley has a fine set of hockey teeth because of it. Hockey Teeth a Hardcore Punk band from Toronto [from the] early 90's. The band itself focuses more on political content, but they get major props for the cover of their Jesus Saves! EP ("Jesus Saves, but Satan Scores on the rebound?") 4-song EP (1994) on Homewrekords. Not sure, if this band has any other releases... love the artwork on this 7-inch!

In-between periods, when it's time to take a p*ss and get another overpriced beer, you make your way back to your seat to watch the Zamboni clean the ice. It's the calm before the storm; sort of like the Pop Punk band, THE ZAMBONIS from Connecticut. I was super-excited to hear about a band from The East Coast that was doing stuff about hockey. I picked up the "Away Game," "Shot...Score!" / "The Referee's Daughter" 7-inch on Dot Dash Records (1995.) At first, I was p*ssed off. These CT dudes were using The NY Rangers' logo as a band logo on the record. I HATE The F**king Rangers, so how could I like THE ZAMBONIS? Shouldn't they be into The Harford Whalers? Anyway, I put my hatred towards The Rangers aside and accepted them as a Puck Rock band.

I still didn't love them, but that night, we played with them in Saratoga on a snowy night in front of maybe 10 people, that changed my perception. I remember hanging out with them and hearing all these crazy stories. They were complete characters, just like the goons in my band. They do exactly what we do: put the foil on each night and sing about hockey. They have their own f**king mascot for Christ sake! I mean that's almost as stupid as a band having a crowd instigator, like Two Man Advantage out of NY. 2 Man has been playing their brand of Hockey Punk since '97. Being that I'm in the band, I won't tell you more than we sing songs about hockey and drinking; two things we are very passionate about. Check out our latest EP, Bar Down. Six songs that will crush you, like a Clark Gillies hit!

Back in 1977, the Paul Newman movie Slap Shot was released. The movie is about a sh*tty washed-up hockey team that uses violence to better themselves and make it to The Finals. What's not more Punk Rock than that? The soundtrack to the movie is not "Punk Rock" in ANY way, with tracks by Fleetwood Mac & Elton John, but there IS one song by British-born R&B singer Maxine Nightingale that brings the house down, "Right Back Where We Started From." A total classic cut by Maxine. Play that at your next Punk Rock party and have a blast. A total crowd-pleaser!

The movie, Slap Shot, had an influence on a few hockey-related Punk bands, including The Hanson Brothers, SLAPSHOT, and... did The McRackins take their name from Tim "Dr. Hook" McCracken? On their first CD, What Came First, they have a catchy hockey tune called "Slapshot." Just confirmed with one of The Eggs in The McRackins; they did not, but they got the name of the song from the movie Dr. Hook was in.

Everyone knows Hardcore band SLAPSHOT from Boston. On the record, Olde Tyme Hardcore (OTH,) it starts off with a clip of Coach/Player Reggie Dunlop ([from the] movie, Slap Shot) giving his speech on playing old time hockey, none of that goon sh*t, prior to The Championship Games. OTH is a straight up aggressive Hardcore record. It's like putting on the foil and getting ready to get out on the ice. Originally released on Tang [Records] on CD in '96. Pictured is a re-issue of the EP from 2012.

If you would ask me "what is my [most] prized hockey record," I will tell you that it's a $1.00 Bargain Bin record from 1980. Being a huge fan of my beloved Islanders, I had to seek out the fantastic narrated record, ...The chemistry was just right! The exciting story of the N.Y. Islanders. This amazing record captures play-by-play action, interviews, and stories of their 1979-80 Stanley Cup season. The first of four Cups in a row, that is. This record comes in handy right around now, that hockey has been postponed, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Nothing better than sitting home listening to the young Islanders beat The Kings, Bruins, Sabers, and Flyers to win their first Cup. I still get goose bumps when I hear Bob Bourne beats Gerry Cheevers (Boston Bruins) on the high side. Pop Punk band CHIXDIGGIT! sang about Gerry Cheevers on their Sub Pop self-titled debut with "(I Feel Like) (Gerry) Cheevers (Stitch Marks On My Heart.)"

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Don't Panic Return with "Fall of '99" Music Video, "No Time for Second Chances" Lyric Video & FacebookLive Performance (self-released)

Don't Panic are a Rock "N" Roll/Power Pop band hailing from Northeast, Pennsylvania and founded in 2009. Don't Panic's current line-up consists of guitarist/frontman Ted "Panic" Felicetti, bassist Keith Slader, drummer Anthony Paesano, and guitarist AJ Larsen. I believe, I saw Don't Panic at one of their first shows at Hangar 84 right here in Vineland, NJ around 2009-10 on a tour behind their debut EP, My Fairweather Friend. It appears as though Don't Panic were active for a little while longer, released a follow-up crowd-funded demo EP called The Fix, a 2-track EP entitled Why The Fifties Were Better, went through some line-up changes, and broke up... but have no fear, Don't Panic have since re-formed and are back in full-force!!! From what we can gather, it sounds like Don't Panic will be self-releasing a series of singles, which will, eventually, be re-released as a more full-length project later this year. Don't Panic list Foo Fighters, Face to Face, Lit, Bayside, White Reaper, The Menzingers, RIVAL SCHOOLS, Electric Light Orchestra, Tom Petty, and The Beatles amongst their influences on Facebook. Frontman Ted "Panic" Felicetti is, also, a booking agent for The Queers, Screeching Weasel, The Ataris, and Richie "Ramone" Reinhardt (The Ramones) under his company umbrella, New Gold Agency.

Last month, Don't Panic premiered a lyric video for their first new single since re-forming, "No Time for Second Chances," at NEPA Scene. Felicetti told NEPA Scene the video was created using Fiverr with the help from an Asian artist, who writes out lyrics using Sharpies. "I think, essentially, [this song is] a good representation of what we have going on. I wrote this one trying to get the vibe, if you mixed Millencolin with Thin Lizzy, what that would it sound like? But, yeah, more or less, we have some slower songs and some heavier ones, but nothing strays too much from that Rock "N" Roll/Power Pop sound we’ve been trying to cultivate," Ted Felicetti explained to NEPA Scene. Now, just about a month later, Don't Panic have returned once more with their second new single, "Fall of '99," accompanied by a proper music video. As its title suggests, within "Fall of '99," Don't Panic seemingly reminisce about some of their favorite moments from 1999; Britney Spears' "...Baby One More Time" music video, Limp Bizkit, Magic Mike, Friday The 13th, and all sorts of hi-jinx during Talent Show Auditions. Amidst the global COVID-19 Pandemic, Don't Panic have announced a special acoustic performance to be held tonight, March 24, 2020, at 7:00pm EST streaming on FacebookLive. Don't Panic will be "playing brand new songs, as well as some old ones, taking requests, and answering any questions." Don't Panic's "Fall of '99" & "No Time for Second Chances" are both now available on digital streaming platforms.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Jason Griff & Alex Ludovico Return with THE RED MAN IS HERE. RUN. EP & Introduced FEDXRA BXYS with Scorcese (The Witzard Interview)

Last year, Los Angeles emcee Alex Ludovico continued his ongoing #MedicineMondays weekly singles series and this year, he's doing something similar with #RewindWednesdays. His Bandcamp page explains, "Drugs, sex, and Hip-Hop. Alex Ludovico, born in Gary, IN and created in Chicago, is the living embodiment of that credo." One of our personal favorite moments from 2019's #MedicineMondays roll-out was Ludovico's collaborative EP with fellow Chicagoan Jason Griff entitled SCARF TISSUE. Upon returning from our honeymoon to Italy, we immediately linked up with Griff & Alex Ludovico, via email, to talk about their phenomenal SCARF TISSUE EP. They were kind enough to help us assemble a comprehensive track-by-track (All-around) Breakdown for SCARF TISSUE. Now, following a string of one-off singles, Alex Ludovico & Jason Griff have returned with the first proper EP of #RewindWednesdays, THE RED MAN IS HERE. RUN. For THE RED MAN IS HERE. RUN. Griff & Alex Ludovico recruited a few expertly-rapping friends—The Dutchmaster, Zilla Rocca, and Scorcese Lorde Jones—to help ring in their second collaborative EP. Griff/Scorcese previously worked together on their Dream Team: A Stokely Hathaway Joint and here, he re-appears on EP closer "Len Bias." Together, Griff, Scorcese & Alex Ludocivo have teamed up to form FEDXRA BXYS (pronounced: "Fedora Boys") and supposedly, a full-length group project is currently in-the-works. Scroll Down to read our comprehensive interview with Jason Griff & Alex Ludovico. THE RED MAN IS HERE. RUN. is currently available to purchase, stream, or download on Griff's own imprint, Bordering Insubordination. Instrumentals for both THE RED MAN IS HERE. RUN. & SCARF TISSUE EP's are currently available to purchase on Bandcamp, for interested/aspiring self-quarantined emcees.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Comfortably Self-quarantined

I. How did the circumstances surrounding the creation of THE RED ONE IS HERE. RUN. differ from your previous collaborative EP, Scarf Tissue?

Alex Ludovico: Not very much. We linked up when I was back home in Chicago for a couple months at Griff’s place. Sat down and stewed over beats for a couple hours. We work super-fast.

Jason Griff: We worked on this new one together in-person. The first EP was done solely over The Interweb and carrier pigeon. We, also, had features from other rappers on this project, as opposed to the last one, where all the vocals were done by Alex.

II. So, I've always wondered about this... but how did you decide which artists to feature on which songs? For example: why The Dutchmaster on "Monsters Inc.?" Why Zilla Rocca on "Dipsh*ts?" And why Scorcese on "Len Bias?"

Ludovico: It's just about matching tones and voices. I sent Zilla the EP and asked him to jump on a track. "Dipsh*ts" spoke to him. Scorcese had the perfect style to play the "drug dealer" to my "drug user" on "Len Bias." And The Dutchmaster is my O.G. Chicago homie from way back, so his voice felt perfect on "Monsters Inc." An artist knows when something fits a vibe they're trying to convey. It's natural.

Griff: All three of those dudes are our friends, as well as our peers. We're always sharing music with each other and when we do something that somebody we love would sound great on, we make it happen.

III. Would you mind talking a bit about the meaning behind the album title, THE RED ONE IS HERE. RUN. and its companion album cover?

Ludovico: Griff & Proton Beats are gonna answer this question.

Griff: It was created [spur-of-the-moment] by a genius 10-year-old and we loved it and decided to use it. Kids are smarter and more talented than adults, anyways.

IV. EP closer "Len Bias" marks the official debut of FEDXRA BXYS (Fedora Boys) consisting of Griff, Alex Ludovico & Scorcese; what's next for your newly-minted 3- man crew, fellas?

Ludovico: Nothing is set in stone. We're working, as always. When it happens, it happens. Scorcese is one my my favorite rappers working, so it's on the way...

Griff: We just take it a day at a time; we're always creating and we'll see how the various processes and ideas come together. It's a strange world out there right now and we're taking it a day at a time, trying to not get shot on site by The National Guard.

V. Now that your second EP together has been properly released into the world, what's next for Griff/Ludovico? Do you have any immediate plans to actually meet in-person yet?

Ludovico: We've met in-person a million times. I'm from right outside Chicago, so we're well-acquainted. And we've already started our next EP. We work too fast to not drop three of these a year. We're just working at all times. And in my personal music journey, I'm about to head out on my first tour in May. Starting in Santa Fe, New Mexico and ending in Tampa, Florida. More details on that once The Coronavirus hysteria dies down.

Griff: We've met several times. We're just gonna keep creating and see what happens next...

VI. What else are both of you currently working on or preparing for release, be it either solo or collaborative?

Ludovico: I'm always working. But I have an issue with modern day Internet culture. Everyone is obsessed with what's next and what the future [holds]. I'm making it a point with this release to let it marinate. Make people appreciate what's in front of them. If I cook you a plate and you all you care about is the next meal, that tells me people don't appreciate what’s in front of you. This EP is full of dope production and dope rapping. LET IT BREATHE!!! Heh. But, as mentioned in the interview, me and Griff have a couple more EP's lined up.

Griff: Working on a handful of different things simultaneously. More stuff with Alex, Scorcese & I are putting together a [Griff/Scorcese] Dream Team remixes project and a few other surprises along the way.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Members of Adrenaline, HANGMAN, Rain of Salvation, SeeYouSpaceCowboy & TYPECASTE Re-emerge As KOYO (The Coming Strife Records)

KOYO 2020 Promo - CREDIT: Tyler Andrew

KOYO is a new Long Island Hardcore (LIHC) band hailing from Suffolk County. KOYO—which appears to mean "come here" in Japanese—consists of Sal Argennto, Joey Chiaramonte, Harold Griffin, Mike "Marazzo" Marazzo, TJ Rotolico, and 21-year-old pro wrestler Stephen "Steve" Spanos. Collectively, five of KOYO's six members have spent time playing with Adrenaline, HANGMAN, Rain of Salvation, SeeYouSpaceCowboy, Soul Provider, and TYPECASTE in recent years; arguably, some of the most frantic, guttural, ear drum-shattering Punk/Hardcore bands active in the scene today. KOYO make a very specific brand of early 2000's Emo/Melodic Hardcore that harkens back to, according to Chiaramonte, Taking Back Sunday, The Movielife, Silent Majority, Glassjaw, Crime In Stereo, Brand New, and Capital. Exclaim! compares KOYO's sound to Title Fight & Lifetime and I would even go as far as to list Vinnie Caruana's new band, Constant Elevation with Sammy Siegler, as well. This past weekend, KOYO quietly released their debut EP, a 5-song collection entitled Painting Words Into Lines.

Frontman Joey Chiaramonte recently told Exclaim! "Painting Words Into Lines is our love letter to Long Island music that shaped our entire lives. We all grew up on bands from Long Island that have deep-seated roots in Hardcore. We want to continue that tradition, as best we can. This is real music about real experiences and we hope it's as cathartic for listeners as it was for us to bring it all together." KOYO have without a doubt been making their rounds through the press circuit recently, with Chiaramonte speaking to Exclaim! and Resonating with extensive features on Brooklyn Vegan and Stereogum, as well. "Koyo is the Japanese phenomenon of the leaves changing in autumn," Joey Chiaramonte told Resonating interviewer Angie. "Changing seasons, the colors, the nostalgia, its ideas and feelings that just naturally tie into the band artistically... at a grandiose conceptual level, at least," he continued. KOYO EP cassettes were previously available to purchase from London-based Hardcore imprint The Coming Strife Records, but once all this recent buzz started, sold out within one night.

However, The Coming Strife Records (@thecomingstrife) recently posted this on Instagram: "Very pleased to announce a 7" release for Koyo's "Painting Words Into Lines," pre-orders coming at the end of the month (6PM on [March] 27th.) And yes, that Tell All Your Friends cover will be making a return..." Hell yes, you read that correctly, there is, in fact, a Painting Words Into Lines alt. cover that pays direct homage/tribute to Taking Back Sunday's genre-shaping Tell All Your Friends cover image. KOYO's Instagram page recently announced a string of shows scheduled to take place on March 22nd at Amityville Music Hall (New York) with Webbed Wing, Worn & Yesduke and one March 27th at Shakers Pub (location unknown) with Rain of Salvation, Vantage Point, Out The Front & Soul Power... but with the ongoing world-wide Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic, who knows, if those will, actually, still take place. KOYO's extremely nostalgic Painting Words Into Lines EP is now available on your digital streaming service of choice.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Guts of The Ice - An Exploration of "Puck" Rock/Hockey-core #5: RAMOMS' Ginger Ramom On "Gritty Is A Punk" (The Witzard Interview)

Not entirely unlike Wrestle/Wrassle Rap or Basketball Rap, there's, apparently, a whole sub-genre of hockey-themed Punk/Hardcore—oftentimes, referred to as "Puck" Rock or Hockey-core. Yes, I've been a die-hard fan of Punk/Hardcore for 15+ years and I, too, only first heard about Puck Rock within the last few weeks. Although, once I started diggin' around, I discovered about 10-15 bands at the forefront; this was, then, gradually narrowed down to 10 "front-line" bands, which will be chronicled here over the course of coming weeks. The "top-scoring" bands we selected include: Crippled Youth, SLAPSHOT, The Hanson Brothers/Nomeansno, Two Man Advantage, The Boils, D.O.A. THE ZAMBONIS, Pansy Division, The Hextalls, and THE RAMOMS' "Gritty Is A Punk" flexi-disc. We sent out a short 6-question interview form to all of the aforementioned bands, received some back, heard a few choice words, and still have yet to hear from a few more. We'll be running those interviews, as well as features, profiles, etc. in the coming weeks. EDITOR'S NOTE: be warned, while I'm a casual hockey fan, I DO NOT claim to be an "expert" on the sport, nor will I EVER claim to know "everything" about hockey-themed Punk/Hardcore. Now, let's just try to have some fun and learn more about the sub-genre together!

For this fifth installment of Guts of The Ice, we spoke with THE RAMOMS & The Droogettes drummer Ginger "Ramom" Knight. THE RAMOMS are an all-female, ALL-MOM, parody/tribute band to The Ramones hailing from Philly. THE RAMOMS' current line-up consists of drummer Ginger Ramom, vocalist Jodi Ramom, guitarist Sharon Ramom, and bassist Molly Ramom. THE RAMOMS first popped onto our radar here at The Witzard when we received a mysterious flexi-disc 7-inch in the mail from Christian Wagner at Pirates Press Records a year or so ago. Said flexi contained one song, "Gritty Is A Punk" a RAMOMS-style parody of The Ramones' "Judy Is A Punk" from 1976's Ramones. "Gritty Is A Punk" would later re-appear on RAMOMS' Pirates Press 7-inch EP, Problem Child, which would, also, feature "Boogie Not Snot" with Mike Gallo (Agnostic Front) and a cover of "Rockaway Beach." In addition to Problem Child and the "Gritty Is A Punk" flexi-disc, Pirates Press Records have issued THE RAMOMS' Teacher's Pet EP, as well as a Merryxmas split with Dad Brains. With the exception of Merryxmas, all of THE RAMOMS' material to date was recorded/mixed by Mike "The Boss" Bardzik (The Boils) at Noisy Little Critter... but more on that later! Scroll Down for a little self-quarantine reading material by way of our comprehensive interview with Ginger Ramom and if you've been living under a rock for the past year, you can hear "Gritty Is A Punk" below the break.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Puck Rock/Hardcore Purveyor

01. How did you first get into both hockey and Punk/Hardcore music?

Ginger Ramom:
I got into hockey by dating a hockey fanatic. He played hockey and watched it. I think, The Stanley Cup Finals were going on and The Philadelphia Flyers were in The Finals and we would, basically, go out to a bar every game to watch them because I did not have cable on my TV. So, it was, sort of, forced on me, if we wanted to hang out and there was a hockey match on, I had to watch. I, then, went out and bought us tickets to a match and after all of that, I was, sort of, hooked. I have always been soccer fan before and still... and the rules seemed similar and I like low-scoring games. I have been in the Punk Rock scene most of my life. I think, around elementary school, I was a huge Metal fan and when I went to [junior] high school, there was a local all-ages club in St. Louis, where I lived, called Bastilles that had all types of shows and once I heard a couple Punk bands play, I knew I had found my people. I met most of the people from the first Punk band I started at that club.

02. What made you decide to combine hockey and Punk/Hardcore stylings through music?

RAMOMS is a parody band and around when we were planning to go into the recording studio, Gritty, The Flyers' mascot, had just been revealed and Sharon Ramom and myself wanted to write a song about him because everyone was embracing his awesomeness.

03. For fans new to the "Puck" Rock/Hardcore sub-genre, which release(s) from throughout your discography would you recommend starting out with?

I, seriously, only know of a couple bands that fit into the genre. Living in Philly, of course, a lot of people that go to The Flyers' games probably still have no clue that a local Punk band, The Boils, wrote the song "The Orange & The Black," which is frequently played when The Flyers score a goal. The years I was a watching, they, also, [used] to play "Bro Hymn" from Pennywise. The only other band I knew before being asked to do this interview was SLAPSHOT.

04. Aside from your own band's music, what other hockey-themed groups, releases, singles, etc. would you recommend, as well?

Well, as I mentioned before, The Boils are a must! I, personally, am not out there looking for hockey-themed music... just good music! But to, sort of, stay "on-topic," while going off into a different court; there are a couple bands I know in Philadelphia that have [done] some soccer-themed songs for The Union. The Preps sing a song about The Blue & Gold, which are The Philadelphia Union colors and there is a band called Dive In The Box that most of the songs are about soccer, including the name. I am sure now that I live in Philadelphia that I really just like songs about our local teams! If you have ever been here, you will know you can not reside in the city without being a fan of ALL the local teams.

05. If still active, what are the future plans for your band? If currently inactive, do you have any immediate plans for any special re-issues or a proper reunion/comeback?

RAMOMS have a ton of things coming up... some, I can talk about and some, I cannot. I know we plan to have one more 7-inch released, hopefully, in the near future... and soon after, our full-length album will be released. We are working on some new parody songs, some new photographs with our new bass player, and hoping to tour this summer! So, keep your eyes peeled for us in a town near you!

06. Aside from The Ramones' own "Judy Is A Punk," what else influenced and inspired you to create, record, and release your "Gritty Is A Punk" 7-inch flexi-disc/digital single?

Sharon Ramom & I wrote the song lyrics to "Gritty Is A Punk" over the phone. Gritty had just been announced and everyone in Philadelphia was embracing him. We wanted to write a song about him! The lyrics were refined when we got to the studio because, at first, we were trying to include other mascots from Philly in, but decided it was best to keep it hockey-themed. And added the Crosby lines, since The Penguins are a big rival and from the same state. Pirates Press suggested that we do the flexi of the song, since Philadelphia was not the only city to seem to embrace Gritty; we are hoping it reaches world-wide domination and are hoping, someday, The Philadelphia Flyers might choose to use it at the games!

07. I just noticed Mike "The Boss" Bardzik (The Boils) at Noisy Little Critter recorded/mixed RAMOMS' Problem Child & Teacher's Pet EP's. Did he happen to have any particular advice on recording Philly sports anthems?

Mike, actually, helped us turn "Gritty Is A Punk" into a strictly hockey song. We were, at first, trying to make it a Philly sports song and were going to include the other sports and mascots. I am pretty sure Mike suggested that we use the Crosby angle because he said, "even if you are not a Philadelphia Flyers fan, that as long as you are not a Pittsburgh fan, you will dislike Crosby."

Most of our songs start off as an idea. We learn the songs as a direct cover and when we plan to record, we try to come up with ideas that would work as a parody and sit and try different lyrics and ideas for each song. So, about 50% of our lyrics of the parodies were written while we were in the studio and we all can have input.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

West Bay Hardcore O.G.'s Dan Lactose, Frank Ripple, Kurlee Daddee & Cris R. Join Forces As HARD FOUL (Live On KFJC 89.7FM)

HARD FOUL at KFJC 89.7FM's "Wall," 2020 (SOURCE: @DanLactose)

HARD FOUL is a new Punk/Hardcore band consisting of bassist/vocalist Frank Ripple, guitarist Dan Lactose, vocalist Kurlee Daddee, and drummer Cris R. Collectively, HARD FOUL's members have spent time playing with Agents of Satan, Deny The Cross, Elephantman, Kalmex & The Riff Merchants, Plutocracy, Radioactive Lunch, Redacted, CCCRRCCSSLLRRKKRRSSS, Dank Goblins, Funeral Shock, Grand Invincible, Happy? Shadow People, Shed Dwellaz, Sheep Squeeze, SPAZZ, Three Wheel Motion, Torture Unit, U.S.F. Underbucket, and DEADPRESSURE. However, with that said, HARD FOUL is Kurlee Daddee's first time ever participating in a band as an official member! HARD FOUL recently played their "quarantine compatible" live debut on Los Altos Hills, California radio station KFJC 89.7FM this past Saturday, March 14, 2020 from 3-6:00pm with These Bastards.

HARD FOUL's 10-minute set included a selection of songs titled "Revolution Is Imminent," "And One," "Beer Snob," "King Is Queen," "Not On My Watch," "West Bay OG's," "All Talk No Action," and "Ruthless Crime Addikts." I've previously communicated with HARD FOUL's Dan Lactose AKA DJ Eons One, Kurlee Daddee, and Frank Ripple, so I decided to reach out to them this past weekend, via email; the commentary below comes from a Group Email, which included Dan, Kurlee, Frank & Cris. I've decided to just leave it largely unedited and let HARD FOUL's members speak for themselves in their own words... but here are a few additional FUN FACTS from within said emails: Max "625" Ward (ex-SPAZZ) is going to release a HARD FOUL/These Bastards split 7-inch. Frank Ripple is currently working on a West Bay Hardcore comp. which will include a couple new HARD FOUL tracks, as well. Over the weekend, @DanLactose posted two photos (Above & Below) on his Twitter page, along with the Comment, "Throbbing Gristle / Hard Foul, same wall @KFJC897fm RIP Genesis P-Orridge." Stay tuned for further details concerning HARD FOUL/These Bastards' upcoming split 7-inch.

"We've been together about two years. I came up with the name because of my interest in basketball over the last several years, due to the success of The Warriors. I've always liked to come up with silly names for [Hardcore] bands and I imagined a team mascot image of a "swoll rooster" with a basketball jersey (Hard Fowl.) Another thing I wanted to do was have a band that jammed in my garage. At the time, Kurlee & I were doing our podcast and he had written some lyrics for another band I play in called Redacted. They were sick lyrics and I thought he would make a sick vocalist, plus, he was way into sports and it seemed like a good fit. We talked about it on the podcast and Dan volunteered to play guitar. I had talked to Cris, our drummer, online and he was down to play drums. KFJC is a West Bay institution and we've had a nearly 30-year relationship with the station and various folks up there. Dan [DJ Eons One] was DJ'ing up there with a group of artists for a special performance a couple years back and mentioned his new band to a DJ known as Honeybear, who promptly asked the band to do a live mic when we were ready."

- Frank "Franko" Ripple

Throbbing Gristle at KFJC 89.7FM's "Wall," 1978 (SOURCE: @DanLactose)

"This was my very first band I got to be a part of. And to be in a band with these sick-a$$ musicians was truly humbling. Watching these guys work on riffs and put it together was f**king rad. To learn the whole process that my homies have been doing for the last 30 years was super-fun... I have been friends with most of these cats since the late 80's. I had never thought about being part of a band because I don't have any musical talent at all. I have always been able to write, but never, actually, put pen to paper with lyrics. Frank & I went to a Dead Kennedys show in Santa Cruz and I was toying with the idea of doing a podcast because I had been listening to so many about three years ago. I wanted to talk about all the stories each of us had about The West Bay and the shows we went to, the music we both liked, and interview a bunch of our friends and, basically, get all that sh*t on a podcast. We agreed to try and do a few [shows] and now, we have 20. I think, Frank asked if I would be willing to write up a few lyrics for a song. So, I wrote some lyrics for Redacted for the song "El Chappo's Revenge." I took a stab at it and he got super-hyped."

- Kurlee Daddee (@curleedaddee)

"I was a regular listener to Frank & Kurlee's podcast and I remember an episode where they were talking about trying to start a band and needing a guitarist. I've known Frank forever and we previously jammed in Deny The Cross, so I was interested in the idea of making music with him again, but Frank lives a lot further away from me now, so I was like, "will I be able to make it work?" I had been trying to play guitar more again and was trying my hand at a project using a drum machine, but it just isn't' the same as jamming with humans. Finally, I hit Frank up and said I was down, but couldn't really commit to practicing more than once a month. That was fine with them, so I was on board. When Frank told me Cris was going to play drums, I was stoked because Cris was someone I had been chopping it up at gigs wherever I was in The South Bay and I had seen his band, DEADPRESSURE, and they ripped. Cris is a guy who already "got it," so writing music with him, he knew exactly what we needed. The whole writing process was really smooth and we, actually, spent more time re-arranging the songs over the past year. I've never really done that before, but it definitely ended up being a great idea. Initially, Frank was talking about trying to do something that sounded very NYHC, so I started writing riffs like that, but when we finally started putting songs together, it started to take a different direction, like all bands do. I think, now, we definitely have a sound where we are drawing equally from all our different influences... We, also, figured out we have so many friends in common and weird degrees of separation. It's a solid unit that totally seems like it was meant-to-be."

- Dan Lactose (@DanLactose)

Monday, March 16, 2020

John Morrison Compiles List of Influential Albums During The Making-of His New Remixtape Memorabilia (self-released)

John Morrison Diggin' for Records (CREDIT: D1L0)

John "Liberator" Morrison is a self-proclaimed "Writer/DJ/Sample-flipper" hailing from Philly. Morrison is the host of Serious Rap Sh!t & Culture Cypher Radio and lists NPR Music, okayplayer, The Wire Magazine, and Bandcamp amongst his writing credits. John Morrison, additionally, functions as a Hip-Hop emcee and producer with remix credits on Lushlife's MY IDOLS ARE DEAD + MY ENEMIES ARE IN POWER and Career Crooks' Thieving As Long As I'm Breathing. Morrison's debut full-length project, Southwest Psychedelphia was released on Deadverse Recordings in 2016 and there's currently a slew of remixes, flips, and non-album tracks uploaded to his Bandcamp page. However, in recent years, John Morrison has been on a bit of a hiatus/medical leave... as Morrison himself puts it, "on March 3, 2018, I was hospitalized with Flu-like symptoms and a searing headache. After nearly two weeks of intense hallucinations, pain, and non-stop testing, I was diagnosed with Viral Encephalitis; a potentially deadly illness that was attacking my brain and spine."

Said injury to John Morrison's brain threw his mind into complete chaos, which caused him to often misremember things, with memories and events playing out in a jumbled, non-linear fashion. Following his ordeal, John Morrison was forced to temporarily move back into the house he grew up in with his mother and partner, Melissa "Lissa" Simpson, helping him get through an undoubtedly lengthy recovery. During this period of time, Morrison occupied himself by simply hanging out, re-connecting with family, friends, and neighbors, as well as rummaging through his mom's basement unearthing dusty old records, books, beat tapes, and magazines from years past. Memorabilia, John Morrison's latest release, dubbed a "remixtape," was concocted during this time from his wheelchair. It features a wide of array of remixes, flips, blends, etc. sampling the likes of Redman, J-Live, Lords of The Underground, Biggie, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Brandy, Busta Rhymes, Radiohead, The Roots, Thurston Moore, Jadakiss, CAN, Beastie Boys, A$AP Ferg, Nas, and De La Soul.

Memorabilia was entirely produced by John Morrison himself with mixing and post-production handled by fellow Philly beat-maker Rolled Gold. To accompany Memorabilia, Morrison enlisted New Orleans' very own Wino Willy to create a 16-minute short film entitled Memorabilia (A Film by Wino Willy.) It was painstakingly sourced from hundreds of hours of YouTube clips, commercials, are music videos, interviews, and more hand-selected by John Morrison and turned over to Willy for editing. Morrison says he's been describing Memorabilia's companion short film as "a sample film, completed composed out of previously existing visual content. Structurally, it's kinda like watching YO! MTV RAPS on acid." John graciously supplied us with a thorough breakdown of records that influenced him during the making-of Memorabilia, which you can read through below. John Morrison's Memorabilia is now available to purchase, stream, or download in both digital and physical (cassette) formats directly from his Bandcamp page.

Madlib - Madlib Remixes, Vol. 1 EP (2000)

"This might be the core influence that runs through Memorabilia. Madlib is well-known and it seems like his notoriety is still growing, but he is severely underrated as a remixer. All of his beats fit together naturally with the acapellas and the end result sounds like an original song, THAT'S what I was going for. The Roots' "Don't See Us," Common & 45 King's "Car Horn," his version of [Gang Starr's] "Just to Get A Rep," the whole project is flawless."

Cornelius - Fantasma (1997) / CM - Cornelius Remixes (1998)

"Japanese producer Keigo Oyamada (AKA Cornelius) is one of my all-time favorite musicians. His work is rooted in beat-making and Hip-Hop production, but he adds all of these layers of Psychedelic sound. Fantasma is his opus, but he's, also, a great remixer, as evidenced by the CM: Cornelius Remixes tape, where his flipping tracks by Money Mark, Coldcut, U.N.K.L.E. etc. It's funny, when I was active as an emcee, I used to open my live sets by rapping over Cornelius' song "Mic Check.'"

Joe Byrd & The Field Hippies - American Metaphysical Circus (1969)

"I'm always down for a weird, bugged-out Psychedelic Rock record. I grabbed this at Human Head in Brooklyn and it's wild; trippy vocal effects, backward tape loops, lots of strange lyrics, and fuzz guitar. I've been digging up stuff like this to drop onto tape in-between beats for interludes since I was a teenager."

Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth - Main Ingredient (1995)

"This record just turned 25-years-old a few months ago and its prominence has only grown. Everything about this record is just fly and dripping with flavor. C.L.'s really shining throughout the album and Pete Rock's production is top-notch. The sampling here is really diverse and tasteful. They're using everything from Donald Byrd to Hugo Montenegro, Milt Jackson, etc. and it all melds together beautifully. It's sad that they broke up right after this album came out."

The B.U.M.S. - Lyfe 'N' Tyme (1995)

"This album has been really important to me since I was a kid. It's really an unheralded gem of 90's West Coast Hip-Hop. [How] King Tech, The Baka Boyz, and Joe Quixx handle the production a beat like "HOW DARE YOU," (my "Woo-Hah" flip) is something that I would've given to The B.U.M.S back in the day, if I had a chance."

GONG - Angels Egg (1973)

"GONG grew out of the British Psych-Prog band Soft Machine, as well as the famed Canterbury Prog-Rock scene in the 70's. This album is right up my alley; trippy, full of skits, weird, and colorful. I promise the next time I spin at a party where there are breakers, I'm going to drop the song "Love Is How You Make It." They've got another record that I found while making Memorabilia and it has that flute loop that Nas used on the song "Ooochie Wally.'"

Massive Attack vs. Mad Professor - No Protection (1994)

"I've been obsessed with Massive Attack a lot more lately, but they've been an influence since I was young. They really took Hip-Hop, Dub, Post-punk, and Soul, mixed it together, and made it into a coherent whole. I could've picked Blue Lines or Mezzanine. but I liked that they let Mad Professor flip the entire project and make it even spacier and dubbed-out. I'm [reading] Melissa Chemam's book on Massive Attack [Massive Attack: Out of The Comfort Zone] and, apparently, Radiohead asked MA to do the same thing and remix OK Computer, but scheduling prevented it."

The Legion - Theme + Echo = Krill (1994)

"A big part of the process behind making Memorabilia involved re-visiting or discovering old Rap records that came out when I was young. I fully remember this group and the single that they dropped, "Legion Groove," but I've only recently dug into the album and it's great. Some of the production puts me in the mind of Runaway Slave-era Showbiz & A.G. or The Beatnuts and the album's overall vibe puts me in the mind of hanging in my neighborhood, jeeps riding by, and blasting music in the summer of '94."

Hampton Hawes - Universe (1972)

"I absolutely love Jazz records like this. Rich, chill, optimistic, and spiritual sounding. Hawes made a bunch of great records, but this is the one for me. I've been on a heavy Jazz-Funk kick for years now and this album is in that style. Lots of electric piano and beautiful playing."

The Pharcyde - Labcabincalifornia (1995)

"I feel like I'm always re-visiting/living with this record. I was a HUGE fan of their first album, Bizarre Ride [II] The Pharcyde, so when they followed it up with this one, I was excited. Initially, I was shocked that J-Swift hadn't returned on production, but that they had brought in "some kid" named Jay Dee (AKA J Dilla.) Upon first listen, I peeped that Jay Dee had produced all of my favorite cuts on the album: "Drop," "Runnin,'" "Splattitorium," etc.

The entire album had this smokey, muted sound, and the rhythm was like Pete Rock & Erick Sermon's bounce taken to another extreme. Everybody (rightfully) makes a fuss over Dilla's rhythmic template, but, for me, it's his tonal framework that lives on with me. The way his kicks were EQ'ed, the way he low-pass filtered certain samples, the actual timbre of his music is really important for me. "12 Funeral Books" and "Funky Doctor" [from Memorabilia] would've been [Labcabincalifornia] beats, if I had been living in LA in the mid-90's."

Friday, March 13, 2020

Jay Electronica Unveils Fabled Debut Album A Written Testimony Featuring JAY-Z, Travi$ Scott, The-Dream & More (Roc Nation)

At this point in time, Jay Electronica and his long-rumored debut album have both become something of an enigma... although, with endless false start-ups and album "announcements," early this morning, 13 years after dropping Act I: Eternal Sunshine (the pledge) Jay Elect has finally dropped his debut album, A Written Testimony. Timothy Elpadaro Thedford or Elpadaro F. Electronica Allah, better known as Jay Electronica, first burst onto the Indie Hip-Hop scene in 2007 with "Act I." As its title suggests, Electronica primarily rhymes over the Jon Brion-scored soundtrack to Jim Carrey's award-winning film Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind and features soundbites throughout from Erykah Badu & Just Blaze. Since then, Jay Elect has, technically, only "officially" released a handful of tracks, including, "Exhibit A," "Exhibit C," "Letter to Falon," "Shiny Suit Theory," "A Prayer for Micheal Vick & T.I." and "Call of Duty: MW3" with Mobb Deep.

Now, I have "officially" in quotations here because only the first four tracks we mentioned are currently available on streaming services and over the years, so many Jay Electronica tracks have been released, it's hard to tell what was intended to be officially/unofficially released to the public. Jay Elect's limited discography, additionally, boasts features on tracks with Talib Kweli + Hi-Tek, Paul Wall, Common, Mac Miller, MF DOOM, Chance The Rapper, Curren$y, Big Sean & Kendrick Lamar, and The Game. There's a bunch of Jay Electronica tracks floating around The Internet, supposedly, produced by J Dilla, for a planned album called War with The Dragon prior to Dilla's untimely death. Romantically, Jay Electronica has been linked to both Erykah Badu, whom he has a daughter with, and British heiress Kate Rothschild. Jay ignited a brief feud with Eminem in 2018, which, somehow, involved Diddy & 2pac.

To any effect, as recently as February 7, 2020, Jay Electronica announced on his long-dormant Twitter (@JayElectronica) that his album was done, adding, "...my debut album featuring HOV man this is highway robbery." A continued stream of Tweets explained he recorded the album, soon dubbed A Written Testimony, alongside JAY-Z over a string of 40 days and 40 nights starting on December 26, 2019. It was stated A Written Testimony would be released exactly 40 days from the announcement of its sheer existence, making its wide release date fall on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. A series of live TIDAL-sponsored listening sessions to be held in Los Angeles, New Orleans, and New York last night, but due to the recent Coronavirus pandemic, those were cancelled. So, late last night, around 11pm EDT Jay Electronica livestreamed his album on his YouTube page; said track-by-track listening experience ended around 12:20am, at which point, A Written Testimony concurrently went live on all streaming platforms.

Across A Written Testimony's 10 tracks, Roc Nation label head JAY-Z makes exactly eight uncredited appearances, along with a very Kanye-sounding Travi$ Scott, The-Dream, James Blake, and Khruangbin. Jay Electronica produced the bulk of A Written Testimony himself, but we're treated to beats hand-crafted by Hit-Boy, The Alchemist, Swizz Beatz, No I.D. Young Guru, and AraabMuzik, as well. Stereogum staff writer James Rettig says A Written Testimony incorporates unnamed samples from Rihanna, Vashti Bunyan, Brian Eno, Allen Toussaint, and Robert Fripp throughout. Honestly, it's a bit hard to review or even gauge an album Rap Twitter has been anxiously awaiting for the past 10+ years. It's still a bit heard to get my head around the fact that A Written Testimony even exists in a tangible/listenable form! For both new and long-standing fans, A Written Testimony is definitely worth checking out! Additionally, I would strongly recommend listening to Just Blaze-produced non-album stand-outs "Exhibit A (Transformations,)" "Exhibit C," and "Act I: Eternal Sunshine (the pledge,)" as well. Jay Electronica's A Written Testimony is now available on streaming services, via Roc Nation.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Guts of The Ice - An Exploration of "Puck" Rock/Hockey-core #4½: THE ZAMBONIS' Mascot The Hockey Monkey (B-A-N-A-N-A-S Q&A)

The Hockey Monkey with Storm & Sparky The Dragon (SOURCE: Matt Gonzalez)

Not entirely unlike Wrestle/Wrassle Rap or Basketball Rap, there's, apparently, a whole sub-genre of hockey-themed Punk/Hardcore—oftentimes, referred to as "Puck" Rock or Hockey-core. Yes, I've been a die-hard fan of Punk/Hardcore for 15+ years and I, too, only first heard about Puck Rock within the last few weeks. Although, once I started diggin' around, I discovered about 10-15 bands at the forefront; this was, then, gradually narrowed down to 10 "front-line" bands, which will be chronicled here over the course of coming weeks. The "top-scoring" bands we selected include: Crippled Youth, SLAPSHOT, The Hanson Brothers/Nomeansno, Two Man Advantage, The Boils, D.O.A. THE ZAMBONIS, Pansy Division, The Hextalls, and The Ramoms' "Gritty Is A Punk" flexi-disc. We sent out a short 6-question interview form to all of the aforementioned bands, received some back, heard a few choice words, and still have yet to hear from a few more. We'll be running those interviews, as well as features, profiles, etc. in the coming weeks. EDITOR'S NOTE: be warned, while I'm a casual hockey fan, I DO NOT claim to be an "expert" on the sport, nor will I EVER claim to know "everything" about hockey-themed Punk/Hardcore. Now, let's just try to have some fun and learn more about the sub-genre together!

For this week's SECOND installment of Guts of The Ice, we spoke with THE ZAMBONIS' long-standing mascot, The Hockey Monkey. As legend has it, as THE ZAMBONIS themselves put it, "in 1997, we ZAMBONIS and our pal, James Kochalka, wrote a song called "Hockey Monkey." We, then, made some [money] from the song (Nickelodeon & FOX TV.) Instead of investing that money in management, publicist, etc. etc. we bought a $2,000 monkey suit. The Hockey Monkey is our friend and member of THE ZAMBONIS. This is not your average monkey." The Hockey Monkey has served as the "hardcore rocking, banana-spitting, guitar-smashing primate" mascot, hype man, and general sharer of merriment for THE ZAMBONIS for 20+ years now. Prior to his tenure with THE ZAMBONIS, H. Monkey did stints as The Rhode Island Rams' mascot, Rhody The Ram, The New York Islanders' Sparky The Dragon, and The Bridgeport Sound Tigers' Storm. "He is our prime mate! Jane Goodall has said it is astounding how Hockey Monkey can sing most of the words to Poison's "Every Rose Has It's Thorn." 20 years in THE ZAMBONIS and all we pay him is bananas. That's devotion," ZAMBONIS frontman and co-founder Dave "Zamboni" Schneider gushes. Below, you will find our comprehensive interview with H. Monkey himself, wherein, we talk about everything from bananas to Puck Rock/Hockey-core, along with an exclusive playlist entitled The Hockey Monkey's Top 5 Hockey Arena Songs for The Witzard, as well.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Puck Rock/Hardcore Purveyor

01. What are your Top 5 party-starting hockey arena songs and why for each?

Hockey Monkey: "Welcome to The Jungle - Guns N' Roses: What better way to start a game!

"Tom Sawyer" - Rush: Rush must be payed at hockey games! Little-known fact: its a law in Canada that Rush is the only band that can be played during hockey games. I was going to pick "2112," but the commercial breaks are not that long. R.I.P. Neil.

"Machinehead" - Bush: Sorry, Matt, I am a 90's monkey. Perfect for a power-play/killer riff!

"(I Wanna Drive The) Zamboni" - THE ZAMBONIS: Can I plug my own band? Why the Hell not. An intermission staple!

"Kickstart My Heart" - Mötley Crüe: I didn't want to add this one, as I still hold a personal grudge with the guys (they don't know that!) I went to LA for the "last Mötley Crüe" show ever... LIARS! But this song is to good. I sent an email to Nikki Sixx about being reimbursed, [but] he has not responded.

Bonus Round: Top 5 Puck Rock songs - should be played at ALL hockey games.

"Kick Out The Jams" (Unedited, of course) - MC5: It's time to kick out the jams, mother...

"Smash It Up" - The Damned

"Time to Go" - Dropkick Murphys

"Change The World with My Hockey Stick" - The Vandals

"Thorn In My Side" - Quicksand: There is always an agitator on every team; this is one is for them!

Anything from my old friends in Two Man Advantage!

02. What's a typical must-have item to take with you every time you go out on tour?

H. Monkey: This a softball of a question. Obviously, it is my silk pajamas. I bet you though I would say "bananas" (those are, also, important!)

03. What's your role in THE ZAMBONIS?

H. Monkey: Here we go! Just some background information. I met Dave Zamboni while working for The Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He was the MC and I was the mascot. We had an idea to come up with a mascot for the band based on the song "Hockey Monkey." Here we are almost 20 years later. The Hockey Monkey sings (off-key,) dances, air guitars, and provides generally merriment to all attendees.

PS: I was, also, the mascot for The NY Islanders for seven seasons!

04. What's your most well-received on-stage mascot/hype man trick or antic?

H. Monkey: We like to do a little [Motörhead] "Ace of Spades" with The Monkey on vocals; that's always a fun one. The old Bananas Toss is a hit, as well. I am trying to convince Captain Dave to do a cover of Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl." "This sh*t is bananas..." still waiting.

THE ZAMBONIS at The Webster Bank Arena (SOURCE: Matt Gonzalez)

05. In your opinion, what is the most important or memorable line from THE ZAMBONIS song, "Hockey Monkey," your namesake, and why?

H. Monkey: "7-8-9, havin' a good time, yeah!!" The Monkey always brings the party and the good times! Pre-show, during the show, post-show! The Jägermeister helps. Don't tell the kids or Captain Dave!!

06. What's the current status of your solo/side-project, MonkeyBassman? I recently read about it within your 2014 interview with Lighthouse Hockey.

H. Monkey: MonkeyBassman is still not off-the-ground. As you know, it's a tough time for musicians out there. There just doesn't seem to be a market for [an] Avant-garde band that combines bass riffs with a dancing monkey in a hockey jersey. We are still looking for a label, if you know anyone. Where is Andy Warhol when you need him?

07. Can you tell us a bit about what made you decide to start covering Poison's "Every Rose Has It's Thorn" at ZAMBONIS shows? Also, are you still actively wearing your vintage USSR hockey jersey?

H. Monkey: Every once it a while, when the mood is right and the stars are aligned, I just get that feeling. The feeling that it's time for a power-ballad! I put the USSR jersey back in storage; apparently, Communism isn't that popular anymore.

08. What would you say is one of your "craziest" stories (you can share!) from your time spent out on the road touring with THE ZAMBONIS?

H. Monkey: Oh, Oswego, NY! Maybe, 10 years ago, we played a gig at Oswego Harbor Fest. Great show, great fireworks, but the night was still young. Later that evening, we made our way to The Gaslight Pub. We, THE ZAMBONIS, had some fans there! They were buying us shots and playing ZAMBONIS tracks on the jukebox. Fast-forward to closing time: me & BassMan decided the night wasn't over yet, so we headed to an after-party at a local fan's house. Surprise, it was a pool party! A naked pool party and while everyone was frolicking in the pool, someone was sat on the edge playing "Hockey Monkey" on an acoustic guitar. " 7-8-9, havin' a good time, yeah." That was weird! We love you, Oswego!!

"So, there was a time we, @THEZAMBONIS, played a gig with @TwoManAdvantage during a snow storm in Saratoga Springs, NY. It was epic. However, if two Puck Rock bands play in a bar and no one came to hear it, do they still make a sound? Yes, they do, a very loud sound!"

- Hockey Monkey (@TheHockeyMonkey)