Was it Worth Driving Six Hours to Virginia Just for GwarBar?

A little way into the documentary “This is Gwar” (2021), my wife turned to me. “Wait. Gwar has a bar called GwarBar? Don’t we have some leftover Airbnb credits from when we canceled our trip to Baltimore during the pandemic? Wanna go?”

Soon, we strapped our pug Phil Collins in the backseat of our Ford Fiesta and cruised down ‘95, listening to the state of Virginny’s own Statler Brothers as we pulled into Richmond.

For the uninitiated, the band Gwar crash landed on earth in 1984 after fleeing their home planet Scumdogia under dodgy pretenses. Appearances on The Joan Rivers Show and Beavis and Butthead  helped spread the news. Their mission? Exterminate humanity as loudly as possible. 

Gwar lucked out. Kids line up around the block for Balsac the Jaws of Death, Blöthar the Berserker, and Flatus Maximus to throw them into chipper shredders or flush them down giant toilets. If you don’t stagger home from an evening with Gwar covered in fake blood, you didn’t do it right. These guys are the Gallager (RIP) of thrash metal, but with significantly more cuttlefish. (now available for purchase for the person/persons you love.

After dropping Phil off at the Airbnb, we made a pit stop at the Poe Museum to get in the mindset of Gwar, like doing stretches. Man, that fellah could not catch a break. Edgar Allen Poe didn’t become famous until after death, and worked a crappy desk job until his suspicious demise. Just to be a dick, his boss sawed off the back of his chair. Was he the guy Poe wanted to seal alive behind a wall in the Cask of Amontillado, brick by brick? I hope so.

Want to hear grisly tales of his childhood? How about his miserly uncle’s role in his death or the ghastly fate of his worst critic? Pay them a visit to find out.

Don’t worry, maggots aren’t falling like rain into your soup. 

After hitting up a bunch of cool thrift stores, we made it to GwarBar, a cross between Starbucks and the Hello Kitty store. Just kidding, the joint looked like a torture chamber from outer space pockmarked with disgusting Gwar memorabilia, but still clean and hygienic in all the right places. They had Naragausset on tap, a touchstone of class, and super obscure 80’s/90’s punk rock blasting off the dungeon themed walls. I don’t know much about ambiance, but I know it when I see it. 

 I ordered the Meat Sandwich, (pulled pork) and my better half had the We Don’t Kill Everything veggie sandwich. Both sandwiches were delectable and reasonably priced. Gwar doesn’t do price gouging, just regular gouging. Our meal lasted as long on our plates as a white blouse does at the Wing Bowl. 

To burn off our carriage, we picked up Phil and went for a hike in Hollywood Cemetery. It’s not a Goth shop in the mall, but the name of a real cemetery containing the remains of former U.S. President James Monroe, former President John Tyler, and former Gwar frontman Oderus Urungus. (Or what’s left of him after his viking funeral.) I didn’t leave trinket’s on David Brockie’s grave but I didn’t steal any lighters either, so it was a lateral move. 

I think Dave Attell said everything there is to say about Jagermeister

We stopped at the Rest in Pieces oddity shop on the way out to make sure that Richmond really was the most Goth city south of Baltimore. If you are looking for skulls to put on your walls or scorpion wine stoppers, the store is one stop shopping.

 Richmond is a cool, artsy city. Even if you aren’t into thrash metal, put in some earplugs and stop at Gwarbar for the Meat Sandwich.

 The following may be my favorite sticker of all time. I don’t know who H.P. is, but I doubt they get invited to many parties

Christmas Songs that Never Get Old! A Comprehensive List.

We all know those Christmas songs. The Mariah Carey one that shall not be mentioned. The one about the donkey. The other one with that ignorant keyboard part that makes us question a Beatles’ knighthood. 

After spending countless sleeps sipping Adderall infused eggnog, the staff at Next In Line have compiled a list of every single Christmas song that we could all agree upon and vouch for. These picks will not only sound fresh this Christmas, but next Christmas, and every one after that. 

  1. The Kinks Father Christmas

Of course, Next in Line Magazine would list The Kink’s as number one. What’s not to like? The catchy chorus? The classic Les Paul/Tele combo? The lyrics about the rich kids getting all the toys while the poor kids get Monopoly money, not the real Mcoy? 

And that concludes Next in Line Magazines List of all the Christmas songs that never get old. Happy Holidays everyone! See you next year!

Flangers! Phasers! Fuzz! How Misusing Gear Gave Birth to Your Favorite Guitar Effects

Give creative people knobs and they will twiddle them. Instruction manual? What’s that? Don’t exceed recommended settings? Yeah right! Like a stock car racer, the first thing they do with a new piece of gear is to punch it to the max and see what that baby’s got. 

Creative types also like to play with things that would get their hands smacked at engineering school: manipulating actual tape with their grubby paws, tinkering with busted circuits, and slashing speaker cones while voiding warranties left and right.

From Dimebag Darrel’s metal distortion to  the gated reverb on Phil Collins’ tom-toms, sometimes too much is the perfect amount. They can’t describe why it’s cool, they just know it when they hear it again. And before long, someone would make the pedal version and cash in.

Here are five effects invented when the boss wasn’t around.

Fuzz

Who Invented It: Believe it or not, Country Western music gets the credit, both for inventing fuzz, and then immediately abandoning the effect. While Glenn Snoddy was recording Marty Robbins’ “Don’t Worry,” a transformer blew on the recording studio’s giant mixing board, mangling the signal. They fell in love with the sound, but only as a one time novelty. Once Hendrix got a FuzzFace pedal, it was all over.

How It’s Replicated: The fuzz pedal replicates the blow circuit by clipping either a silicon or germanium transistor, according to taste. Chopping off the peaks this way turns the naturally rounded peaks into jagged square buzz cuts that generate new frequencies while distorting the signal.

The First Stompbox: The Gibson Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone in 1962. Keith Richards used one  on the Rolling Stone’s I Can’t Get No Satisfaction. 

A Classic Example:  

Distortion/Overdrive

Who Invented It: In the 1940’s, blues musicians figured out that if they cranked amps all the way, it literally put them into overdrive and sounded rad as hell. Ike Turner is credited with creating distortion when his amp fell off the back of his truck on the way to the studio, tearing a hole in his speaker cone on his way to record “Rocket 88”. Years later, Link Ray went Norman Bates on his speakers with a pencil for his song “Rumble”, inspiring The Kink’s Ray Davies to take a razor to his cones for “You Really Got Me.”

How It’s Replicated: There’s no need to slash speaker cones anymore. Distortion pedals use transistors and op-amps to boost the signal to the point of distortion before it even hits the guitar amplifier. Now, guitar amps could sound cranked to eleven when turned down to three, making live sound engineers around the world rejoice. 

The First StompBox: Both the Boss Ds-1 and Proco Rat came out in 1978. 

A Classic Example:

Delay

Who Invented It: In the 1940’s, French collective Musique Concrète  stumbled on the delay effect during their avant guard sound experiments with portable recording decks. Across the pond Sun Studios owner Sam Phillips, the same guy who discovered Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis, recreated the effect by chaining two recorders together. Before pedal versions came out, Ray Butts made the effect portable with Echosonic, a delay unit with a built-in speaker.

How It’s Replicated: The pedal records the signal and plays it back along with the original signal.  Knobs can adjust the time delay in milliseconds.

The First Stompbox: Electro-Harmonix Memory Man in 1976, used on U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday.

Classic Example:

Phaser

Who Invented It: Acoustic innovator, Steven Reich, created the effect when he noticed that two signals would start to flange in a cool way if one was even slightly faster than the other one, creating the phase effect.

How It’s replicated: A circuit is used to split the signal. These signals are then modulated so that when they are recombined, the frequencies either reinforce or cancel each other out, creating a crazy sweeping effect.

The First Stompbox: in 1968, Shin-ei invented the Uni-Vibe to replicate the Leslie rotary speaker that cost as much as a used car. The Uni-Vibe didn’t sound like a Lesie, which actually spun their woofers and tweeters around to create the effect, but had its own cool vibe.

A Classic Example:

Flange

Who Invented It: The same guy who invented the harmonica holder, multitrack recording, and the Les Paul Guitar. Les Paul set up multiple recorders and wound one tape head slightly faster with his fingers, creating the effect.

John Lennon is credited for coining the term “flange.”

How It’s Replicated: Like the delay pedal, a second signal is added, but this one has a low frequency oscillator combined with one of the signals. 

The First Stompbox: Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress in 1975.

Classic Example: 0:48  in

Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit – all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided. It’s the sound of failure: so much modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. The distorted guitar sound is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them.”

  • Brian Eno 

Further Learning:

https://www.premierguitar.com/gear/modulation-nation-chorus-phasing-and-flanging

King Khan and BBQ Show, with Miranda and the Beat@Underground Arts. September 9th, 2022.

Formed from the ashes of their old band, Spaceshits, Montreal’s The King Khan and BBQ Show have been rocking garage punk since 2004. Both guys do double duty.  BBQ playing drums with his feet like a one man band, while King Khan plays guitar and sings doo wop bass lines, when he isn’t singing lead.  I’m also a fan of King Khan’s soul band, the Shrines. 

The geniuses behind Waddlin’ Around have played everywhere, including a kick ass session on KEXP. Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson personally invited the boys to play the Vivid Festival. (If that isn’t bragging rights, I don’t know what is.) 

Tagging along were NYC’s Miranda and the Beat, who joined the headliner onstage during the dance off segment of their show. Ain’t nothing but a party.

Miranda and The Beat kicked off the proceedings right. Miranda shreds a little harder than one would expect from a singer. She could play lead guitar in a band. Wearing only a mesh shirt under her suit jacket, her nipples played peek-a-poo, making this the most nipple centric show I’ve ever seen. (More on that later.) Very burlesque-esque. 

The Beat’s rhythm section was tight and tasteful and the whole band had a cool aesthetic.

Their keyboard player was a little much for me at first, with his white boy ‘fro and late sixties garb. But later, I got a whiff of his cologne as he walked by. Now, that is commitment to a look. I’ll allow it. All in all, their set was a good time.

If there is one thing to know about King Khan, it’s that he doesn’t give a fuck.  The body positive rocker went topless, wearing some kind of animal skins on his head and groin area, nipples flowing in the breeze.

Freeing the nipple is a trademark of the boys’ show.  BBQ had nipple holes cut out of his shirt, sporting a look I like to call the anti-paiste. 

 These guys love to talk between songs. Even BBQ Show made fun of their endless banter, comparing their show to a Henry Rollins spoken word set. You can tell that they are both usually the guy who does all the talking in their other bands.  Between songs, there were flashes of mutual annoyance like two youngest children competing for attention, as they both jockeyed for the spotlight. But while they played together there was nothing but love, baby. L-U-V.

Most of their chit chat was hilarious, the highlight being about the song that made their publicist drop them. The lyrics involved their wanting to have taste buds on their genitalia and buttholes, to savor every taste. I hope the door didn’t hit the publicist on the way out. My buddy Chip was there, and he agrees. Chip may not play instruments, but he knows bad management when he sees it. 

Some kid staged dived and the audience dropped him, just like they did to the singer from Viagra Boys when I saw them at Underground Arts. 

King Khan was amused. “That’s what we love about Philly. They drop you, but then they pick you up again.” 

There is a metaphor in there somewhere. 

Their cover of the 1978 Johnny Thunders classic, “You can’t Wrap Your Arms Around a Memory” had me singing, to the disappointment of everyone around me including Chip, who stood a couple people away for a while. 

The boys brought the bartender on stage for everyone to applaud. To a novice, that might seem like a cheap ploy to get into her pants. But judging the size of their bellies, I’d say it was a cheap ploy to get free drinks. Respect.

Make sure you check both these bands out next time they come to a venue near you. And don’t forget to tip your bartender. 

Do Your Part! Report Unlicensed Elvis Tribute Artists!

Graceland wants to require Elvis Tribute Artists to have official licensing. This isn’t a good idea. It’s a great idea. That’s the difference between an Elvis impersonator and an Elvis Tribute Artist. Graceland has been cracking down on ETA’s, especially at Vegas wedding chapels. The sacrament of marriage is still sacred, Goddamn it!

It’s one for the money. Two for the dough. Three to get money, now go cash, go!

Why License?

Elvis Licensing is important, not only to the performer, but also to the paying public. If one doesn’t have quality or control, then how can they have quality control? Proper Elvis licensing offers:

Population Control. This prevents the classic “too many Elvises and not enough Colonel Parkers” scenario. 

Quality Control. This will prevent hacks like Dread Zeppelin from taking the King’s name in vain with some crazy ass litigation. At Elvis University, students will learn how to walk backwards (never turn your back on an audience), take upper lip sneering workshops, and vibrato singing lessons. This ensures a safe, regulated, Presley-approved experience for the whole family. Without proper training, a rookie might start asking the audience for their scarves back after the show. Can we say ‘amateur hour’?

Don’t click on this video.

Peace of Mind. What if the hunka hunka burning love starts to spread? Can you trust a scab Elvis to be fire safety certified? Licensed ETAs are certified every three years.

How to know if a Tribute Artist is Licensed. 

  1. Look for the ear identification tag, which could be hard to spot if the ETA is wearing in-ear monitors or ear muffs.
  2. Check for a certificate of graduation from E.U. at the DJ station, probably next to a tin of Pomade.
  3. Inspect the back of their neck for a barcode tattoo.
  4. Ask them. If they start running, be suspicious.

Do NOT attempt to detain illegal Elvi on your own! Elvis karate can be lethal, and I’d say a good 90% of Faux Kings are packing heat. (The better ones have guns with pearl handles.)

Let the professionals with no kill traps baited with barbiturate-laced fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches take care of it.

Report all unlicensed Elvis tribute sightings to dirtysnitch@aol.com. Then rat out your neighbors for smoking weed and stealing cable while you’re at it. What not?

Thank you. Thank you very much.

These Deconstructed Covers Sound Like Totally Different Songs!

The best thing about playing someone else’s song is the unwavering faith in its brilliance. At least that is taken care of. If people are booing, it’s not the song’s fault. Also, the chance to take a trip in someone else’s skin. 

Recreating someone else’s work is frowned upon in other mediums. Comedians don’t say, “I’m going to do a couple classic Rodney jokes and get out of here.” And when painter’s try it, Interpol gets involved. Both the band and the government agency. 

Some bands like to make cover songs their own, taking more liberties with the tune’s DNA than Trump’s accountants. Here is a list of amazing renditions where the artists totally made the song their own. I tried not to list any songs that were done for parody, but, you know what Yoda says about the word “try.” 

Elvis Presly: Blue Moon.

The king took this doo-wop number from the Marcels and made it strange and etherial enough for David Lynch to include in his masterpeice Blue Velvet. Man, that old school slapback echo on his voice is to die for, especially on the falsettos at the end. 

Will Oldham: Am I Demon?

I don’t think anybody expected the man they call Bonnie Prince Billy to rock out to Danzig, let alone cover him. Somehow, his use of acoustic guitars dialed up the evil. Love the yodel into the  second chorus. 

Klaus Nomi: The Twist

When Chubby Checker asked people to “twist again like we did last summer,” this ain’t what he had in mind. Nomi took the dance for the remedial and turned it into an operatic order for us humans straight from Alien High Command. Also, Nomi’s “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” is worth the price of admission. 

Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwoʻole: Somewhere over the Rainbow.

The big man with the little ukuleleI added a unique phrasing that even Judy Garland would approve of.

I know this somber version was oversaturated a couple years ago, but if it hadn’t been, every hipster worth his Buddy Holly glasses would be spinning it at artsy parties. 

Angélique Kidjo: Once In A Lifetime

An african woman appropriating the Talking Heads appropriating african music. How can you lose? It’s definitely not the same as it ever was.

Viagra Boys, Featuring Amy Taylor: In Spite of Ourselves.

The Viagra Boys flipped this John Prime classic on its head, adding 90’s lofi drums and messy guitars. Amy Taylor proves to the world once again that she is nothing if not a good sport. I wouldn’t want to piss her off, though. The watermarked stock footage in the video gets me every time. They did the pandemic remote thing right.

The Defibulators: This Charming Man.

Ever wondered what the Smiths would sound like as a bluegrass band? Wonder no more. Listen to those harmonies!

The Pet Shop Boys: You are Always on my Mind. 

The Pet Shop Boys take on this  Elvis classic, composed by Wille Nelson, annoys the ever loving shit out of my wife. Needless to say, it’s on heavy rotation whenever I’m feeling contrary or acting out for attention.

Gwar: Get Out of My Dreams.

Richmond’s finest, Gwar, polluted Billy Ocean faster than us mere humans polluted the Atlantic and Pacific.

Extra credit: Speaking of Pet Shop Boys, here is Gwar with their new singer, doing their version of West Ends Girls. At the end, they do a tear-jerking tribute to their fallen leader Oderus Urungus (RIP). 

XTC: All Along the WatchTower

XTC took this Bob Dylan classic in a different direction than the Hendrix version we all know and love, giving the song a caffeinated nervous disorder. Andy Partridge sings it like he ate speed and ran just out of beer. That organ creeps like the orgasmitron from Barbarella and the guitar is nails on a chalkboard. Love it.

Devo: Satisfaction.

Of course, Devo is number one. Devo is always number one, spuds. (Except if you are Jon Spencer.)

Devo pondered, “Are We Not Men?” The Rolling Stones answered, “You can’t be a man because you do not smoke the same cigarettes as me.” Fair enough. Actually Jagger was reported to be “up dancing within thirty seconds” of his first listen.

The video feels like Monday morning. 

Know your Ramones Drummers: A Comprehensive Guide.

1-2-3-4! The Ramones took the 60’s bubblegum pop of their childhoods and gave it teeth with distortion and lyrics about lobotomies, sniffing glue, and male prostituion. Johnny and Dee Dee played their guitars using all downstrokes at lightning speeds. “Never bore us. Get to the chorus!”

Playing drums in the Ramones wasn’t as easy as everyone thinks.These guys had chops to spare, but chose not to use them. Both Rickie and Marky played in prog bands before the Ramones, notably Marky’s band Dust. In this video, Marky shows off his ability to play fancy Bonham triplets before blasting into an upbeat punk beat. “It’s all about stamina. You try playing this all night long.” 

Sure, the differences between the Ramones drummers may seem subtle at first, but when knowing what to listen for, it adds a whole new depth to the listening experience.

Tommy Ramone (‘74 to ‘78)

Albums: Ramones, Leave Home, Rocket to Russia

Standout Tracks: “Lobotomy,” “Beat on the Brat,” “Pinhead.” He also wrote “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” and co-wrote “Blitzkrieg Bop.”

Signature Style: Tommy was the originator, the guy who set the template of no frills, no fills drumming that defined the sound of punk rock. Tommy had the lightest touch of the Ramones drummers, barely hitting the skins.

Why He Quit: He suffered a mental breakdown on tour, probably from dealing with all the other Ramones. 

After the Ramones: Despite sustaining hearing damage on the road, Tommy went on to produce future Ramone’s records and the classic Replacement’s Album Tim.

Fun Fact: Tommy was born in Hungary to photographer parents who were both holocaust survivors. 

Marky Ramone (‘78-83)

Albums: Road to Ruin, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, End of the Century, Pleasant Dreams, Subterranean Jungle, Brain Drain. 

Standout Tracks: “Pet Sematary” “Chinese Rock” “I Wanna Be Sedated”

Signature Style: The blitzkrieg of drummers, Marky had the longest tenure and is widely considered to be the quintessential Ramones drummer. He was the first to speed up the songs live and drove the band like a human jackhammer.

Why He Quit: Kicked out because of booze.

Fun Facts: He used to sell his signature pasta sauce at shows. Just what every mosh pit

needs: breakable glass containers. He also played with Richard Hell and the Vovoids on the seminal Blank Generation album.

Ritchie Ramone (‘83-’87)

Albums: Too Tough to Die, Animal Boy, Halfway to Sanity

Standout Tracks: ”Animal Boy” “Warthog” He wrote “Somebody Put Something in My Drink.” 

Signature Style. He was more of a garage rock drummer, bashing his ride cymbals rather than the closed high-hat like the other guys. Richie took the band’s live set from Marky’s ridiculous speed to ludicrous speed. He also was the only drummer who could sing.

Why He Quit: Pissed off that the other guys wouldn’t cut him into the lucrative t-shirt sales, Ritchie hopped into a rented limo after a show and fucked them over for the rest of their tour. Quite possibly the most boss way to quit a band.

After the Ramones: Ritchie still tours playing Ramones songs with his own band. When it’s him singing and playing guitar, they sound like a decent Ramones cover band. When he sings behind the kit, they sound just like the Ramones.

Fun Fact: Lanky Ritchie failed an audition for making Billy Idol and Steve Stevens look short. 

Elvis Ramones (‘87’)

Albums: N/A

Songs: N/A

Signature Style: His flashy style was considered too jazzy for the Ramones.

Notes:Legendary Blondie drummer Clem Burke (Elvis) filled in after Ritchie left the boys high and dry. You can tell if it’s him from the above link, because this is basically all that exists.

Why He Quit: Elvis was just a temp doing the Ramones a solid, since Ritchie just ditched them in the middle of a tour. Staying true to the album’s versions like most professional drummers would, Elvis played the songs too slow for the other Ramones who got used to the blazing speeds. He didn’t last long.

After the Ramones: He played with Pete Townsend, a guy used to playing with amazing drummers. He’s also playing the upcoming Blondie reunion tour.

Fun Fact. Clem participated in a cardio science experiment while drumming in three-piece-suit. I don’t know much about class, but I recognise it when I see it.

Yanni Ramone. (’96-Present)

Lighten up, people. Life’s short.

Marky Ramone Returns (‘87’s-’96)

Albums: Loco Live, Mondo Bizarro, Acid Eaters, Adios Amigos!

Standout Tracks: “Spiderman” “I Don’t Want to Grow Up” 

Notes: A true punk rock masochist, Marky Ramone put down the bottle and rejoined the band until the bitter, bitter end. He played on Loco Live, which was voted Next In Line Magazine’s top live album of all time, just beating out Cheap Trick’s Live at Budokan in a double-blind study. 

Fun Fact: Possibly the funniest Ramone’s drummer, his wit was showcased on the classic Howard Stern Ramones fights. (A must for any tour van, along with the Buddy Rich Tapes.) The highlight was Marky counting into a two-way apology with Joey as if they were starting a song. 

After the Ramones: Marky played on Joey Ramones solo albums, and now fronts Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg. He toured with New Jersey’s finest, The Misfits. Also, he invented the Cell Phone Swatter, a device that prevents annoying audience members from shooting concerts on their phones.