BY GREGG FOREMAN
The Birthday Party, Tropicana Motel, L.A., late March 1983. Photo credit: © David Arnoff
Many times , the bands and artists that help the “shape of sound to come” were never technically popular, nor did they sell many records in their time . Bands like The Cramps , The Gun Club , the Stooges , the Velvet Underground , Psychic TV ,Throbbing Gristle , CAN , Spacemen 3 , John Cooper Clarke , Lydia Lunch and Suicide may not have sold many records or sold out large venues , but everyone who had one of these records went on to start a band (or wanted to) .
Growing up on the East Coast of the USA in the mid 1980s , I was (thankfully) exposed to the post punk underground sound of the UK, Europe and the USA .
The Gun Club – Photo credit: Patricia Morrison
So when finally having some free time from my touring with Cat Power , I decided to start a podcast focused on the architects of the underground scene . Part of this was (honestly) to have a conversation with Alan Vega of the hugely influential pre-ectronic (electronic) duo Suicide . With their radiated distorted organs, alienating drum machine sputters and rockabilly meets sci-fi vocal sounds, Suicide perfectly incapsulates the plight of the underground anti-hero. They are more than likely a main influence (along with German electro pioneers Kraftwerk) that tie the 70s NYC garbage heap sounds to the late 70s /early 80s England synth pioneers of Mute records , Sheffield England’s Cabaret Voltaire , the (early) Human League and Soft Cell (of Leeds) .
So it was to be , my show, The Pharmacy , would shed light on many of these often overlooked pioneers, who on the outside may or may not seem to be connected , yet fit perfectly in the annals of music history .
When in conversation , many of these musician/artists site one another as influences . For example, Spacemen 3 referenced the Cramps and Suicide; Lydia Lunch referenced Rowland S Howard of The Birthday Party— which then ties into Kid Congo of the Cramps , Gun Club and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds . And they all were inspired by the Stooges and therefore the circle continues .
Then there are the pioneers like Question Mark of the Mysterians and James Williamson of the Stooges who site (like many of the other interviewees) blues and soul legends as their foundation on which they would build the future of Rock n Roll , Proto-Punk , Punk, Post Punk and beyond .
So I invite you to listen to these stories. Stories as told to me by the men and women that lived the “life” and helped the shape of sound to come within the mythology and testimony of rock & roll past, present and future .
You can find the Pharmacy Radio Show via:
Click for The Pharmacy Radio Archive
radio.magicmonsterrecords.com/radio-showsmixcloud.com/mrpharmacist/ < archivefacebook.com/mr.pharmacist < contact
The Cast ;
Lydia Lunch (8 eyed spy , Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and beyond)
James Williamson (the Stooges)
Alan Vega (Suicide)
Question Mark (Question Mark & the Mysterians)
Sonic Boom (Spacemen 3 , Spectrum , EAR)
Kid Congo Powers (Gun Club , The Cramps , Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds)
Wayne Kramer (MC5 , Gang War w Johnny Thunders)
David J (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, Jazz Butcher)
Alan McGee (Creation Records)
Jerry Roslie (The Sonics)
John Cooper Clarke
Isis Aquarian (the Source Family)
Genesis Breyer-P Orridge (Psychic TV, Throbbing Gristle)
Jim Sclavunos (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds , Von Lmo , Sonic Youth, The Cramps)
Irmin Schmidt – (CAN)
Douglas Hart (the Jesus and Mary Chain)
Roger O’Donnell (the Cure)
Simon Raymonde (Cocteau Twins)
Anton Newcombe , Ricky Maymi , Jeff Levitz (Brian Jonestown Massacre-Warlocks)
Tim Burgess (Charlatans)
Colin Bluntstone (the Zombies)
Christian Bland (Black Angels , Revelators)
Ian McLagan (Small Faces-Faces-Rolling Stones)
Guy Picciotto (Fugazi-Rites of Spring)
The Gun Club
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