Thursday, December 24, 2009

"The Institutional Memory for Punk Rock"

Posted By on 12.24.09 at 02:38 PM

My new Sharp Darts is a profile of Henry Owings, the head of Chunklet magazine and one of the all-time superfans in the indie/punk scene. He's long been a collector of recorded ephemera—demos, practice tapes, unreleased records—and for a while now he's been posting some of them for free download on Chunklet's Web site. Anyone who's ever wished there were more Cupid Car Club recordings will be very happy with his work.

Owings is, among other things, a very gifted talker. Interviewing him was like loosening the valve on a vast reservoir of philosophy, epic stories, and equally epic shit talk—all I had to do was transcribe. Since we couldn't give Owings half of the pages in the latest issue of the Reader we had to unfortunately cut some great stuff. Like this story about the Nation of Ulysses meeting Primal Scream:

So Nation of Ulysses is in Memphis in 1992 on tour with Bikini Kill. They get to the city and as was often the case, the promoter had not flyered or postered the show. So they go to Kinko's, they make posters, and then they go around Memphis. Nation of Ulysses, like, one of the best punk rock bands from D.C. ever! And here they are going around Memphis, this dilapidated, southern city, putting up flyers, and they run into the guys from the band Primal Scream, who are in town recording their record. So they meet them and they go, "Yeah, yeah, yeah you should come out to our show." The guys from Primal Scream did come out to their show, and they said, "Well, what are you guys doing tomorrow?"

"Well, we have it off."

"You should come over to our studio, and use the studio for a day and knock out some songs."

And so they did. Nation of Ulysses knocked out five songs on Primal Scream's dime in 1992 in Memphis, while Bikini Kill sort of grudgingly held their lips while they were doing this.

It's just one of those things where, even though [Nation of Ulysses guitarist] Tim [Green] was stunned that I had it, he was also completely excited that I had it. He was like "Oh my God" and then when he told me the story, I was like "Are you serious?" and he was like "Yeah yeah yeah, that's exactly what happened." Primal Scream took a day off, and I think the one thing they had to do was that they had to buy them some weed. I think that's the one thing they had to do, to use the Primal Scream studio for a day!

Those recordings are available here.

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