Oct 11, 2012

Hey Polecat! You Found That Lost Chord Yet? (A Smashin' Transistors Classic Interview)



(Editors note: Since I let the old Smashin' Transistors site at Homestead laspe I have been occasionally posting some of the interview and articles I did over there. Here's a doozy of one I did with Dale Beavers a couple years back. The photos included are ones I took too.
-Dale)   

     Strike a conversation with a blues fan about the music and many topics are likely to come up. It may be about regions of its birth such as New Orleans, Memphis and the Mississippi Delta. It could possibly be about how the sound moved north to Chicago and Detroit during and after World War II in search of  work and better life away from the swamps and cotton fields and where it adopted a louder and tougher sound to match its surroundings.
     Possibly it could be about how in the 60's British bands like the Rolling Stones, Cream and Led Zeppelin took the sound, refitted it and sold it back to white American teens who probably who were, most likely, not familiar with the sound anyway.
    Or it's quite possible you may hear a rant about how most people today think the blues is a middle age white guy standing on a stage with more money tied up his guitar and amp than some of his apparent old time heroes ever made off their most famous songs due to “the man” ripping them off blind of everything.
    One thing that usually doesn't come up though is any association to punk rock.
    Both the blues and punk rock, in their original essences, were music of the downtrodden. Both were pure expression and raw emotion.
    Both howled, wailed and took very little to make a very big noise.
    Born and raised the son of a honky tonk bar owner and Baptist preacher in Arkansas Dale, aka the Polecat (a name that was bestowed upon by a musical mentor one night after some rowdy revelry ) cut his musical teeth playing in assortment of punk rock-n-roll bands. It wasn't until he met and started playing with down home and old raw cats like Junior Kimbrough, Cedell Davis and others though that made up the foundation of what would be Oxford, Mississippi based record label Fat Possum that he found his inspiration of the kind of music he wanted to play “for the rest of my life.”
    “It's people that grew up on punk rock, alternative rock are the one's today that are turning on to blues these days”, states Dale “The Polecat” Beavers.
   “I think blues is the original punk rock anyway, man. I mean, you listen to that Live On Maxwell Street  album (Robert Nighthawk's record from 1964). Holy shit! Is that thing out of control. I remember seeing the album cover and Johnny Young's in the background with a battery powered amplifier and there's Robert Nighthawk with a super reverb in a beat up old recliner sitting out by a fire hydrant” he laughs. “And they're just rockin' it, man. It's always about Muddy Waters when people talk about blues going electric, man but Nighthawk had a few years on him. His stuff was just too wild for most people at the time and still is now.”
    At six and  half feet tall and speaking in an accent as southern as BBQ sauce and thick & deep as swamp made of molasses Mr Beavers pours himself a Fighting Cock bourbon on the rocks and talks of the early 1990's. He was in his late 20's and discovered the kind of music that touched the way nothing else had before
    “I was roommates with Bruce Watson (co-owner of Fat Possum) in college down in Louisiana and he was working in this department store there. Then he got transferred to Oxford, Mississippi. He always had a recording studio going on and started hooking up with Matt Johnson (Fat Possum Records main man). They ended up recording what became Junior Kimbrough's  All Night Long. He calls me the next day saying, “You have got to hear this guy. This is the most insane blues music I've ever heard” and he starts going on and on for about an hour about it y'know. You have got to come up here and check this out. He's got a jukejoint (The legendary Junior's Place in Chulahoma, Mississippi, which his family ran two years after his death by heart attack followed by a stroke until the place burned to the ground in 2000) and you gotta come up here and hang out.”
    At first Beavers just hung around the scene, checking it out, soaking it in, getting up on stage and occasionally jamming with these elder statesman.
    “Then Bruce and Matt and them guys starting working on Junior's 2nd album "Sad Days, Lonely Nights". I was called in to help out as an engineer and whatever . They were recording it at Junior's jukejoint so here we were  in pretty much a shack,” he laughs “I mean, the place was a mess but I ended up playing bass on the record and it was great.”
    “The thing is with those guys is they'd never rehearse. Going out and playing with those guys was what we'd call paid rehearsal”, Dale speculates on why one could consider particular styles of blues direct correlation to punk rock.  “None of them ever practiced before a gig. It was just go out there and do it y'know. Live gigs we're like a free for all. They were great! You'd go out on the road in Mississippi stopping by to pick up Junior or RL Burnside or whoever y'know, get them in the van and spend days playing these little joints all over the place for whoever would want to listen. And you watch these guys playing, and it was a hell of a lot different than listening to the records.”
   “Well, that seems to be the case with most live music”, I said to him “It's the atmosphere of it, right?”
    “Well, yeah there is that but then you sit down and watch these guys play and you realize how fuckin' simple it is. No one else can play it like them though. It's crazy shit, man. Junior doing all this snaky almost Indian music thing coming out of his guitar and whatever. It's more about what's going on with your rhythm hand and the spaces than the notes you're playing with your other hand. It's this whole percussion thing, beating the hell out of the guitar and feeling of the music y'know. As Cedell Davis (Wheel chair bound due to a bout with polio as a child, the 83 year old Davis  is famous for using butter knife to play slide guitar. Beavers played on his 1998 album The Horror Of It All then toured Europe with him) said to me, “As long as you can tap your foot to it. If you can't tap your foot to it, you ain't in time”, and you know what? He was right.”
      From there on he got lessons on the music's spirit and soul that cannot be taught but can only be learned finding himself going on the road with Junior Kimbrough.
    When asked about how he got the Kimbrough gig Dale recollects, “He needed a bass player to go out and play all these shows with.  Gary Burnside (one of R.L. Burnside's 13 offspring) was playing bass for him was a total nightmare to take on the road and Matt and the Fat Possum guys just didn't want to have to deal with that anymore y'know. I got his first album, sat down and learned every bass line off it one night. He's skeptical as hell y'know because most people couldn't understand a lot of what he was playing but I had it down! Every song he hit I had it down. “Meet Me In The City”...all of them, man. He's like “Damn, you can play”! So then I got asked will you go on tour with Junior and I was like absolutely.”
    When thinking about those shows which spanned coast to coast of the USA the San Francisco Blues Fest sticks out in his mind.
     “We opened up for Booker T and the MG's and John Lee Hooker there playing for something like 100,000 people. Man, I was like “I've hit it.”
    But it was a more intimate gig that Beavers fondly remembers most.
    “It was on the same tour as that. We had a caravan of all these guys like Junior, R.L., Paul “Wine” Jones and so on in a bus hitting all these different places. We had left Salt Lake City and we're off to Sun Valley, Idaho. Straight though that Great Basin Desert area up there, right? And the bus blows something in the rear end. So here we are stranded 2 hours from anywhere pretty much. So some guys get off the bus to go wander around amongst the scorpions and the snakes and shit and Junior's like, “I ain't getting off the bus.”, so I sat in there with him. He's got the air conditioner running and there's an acoustic guitar sitting there and Junior sat there for three hours playing every song he ever knew. Stuff he used to play a long time ago, y'know, other people's songs like “Crawling Kingsnake” and all this old stuff but playing it all Junior style, stuff he'd refuse to play for people at that point in his life because he had his own songs. And I was like “Man, this is unreal”. I mean, to hear Junior on acoustic and watching him play it was something else anyway but to hear and watch him play all these song the public would never hear him do...That was my baptism there. There was nothing better than that and I'll never forget it. After that I was like 'Man, I want to be just like that dude”. It definitely changed my life right there. I took that fork in the road and it's brought me to where I am.”
     The way Beavers eyes light up underneath his thick as caterpillar eyebrows it's obvious he likes to reminisce about his times with Kimbrough. He could talk about him for hours, so I ask, “What was he like? What was it like just hanging out with him?”  Beavers is more than happy to fill me in.
     “He was awesome. Coolest dude ever. He'd have tons of money in his pocket and never pay for anything. He'd, like, never by himself a hamburger. “Go get me a hamburger. I'll pay when you get back.”
    He then pauses and laughs, “He'd never pay you back. You know you weren't gonna get paid for shit.”
     Continuing on about Kimbrough, Beavers mentions, “You could never even call Junior on the phone. I drive from Little Rock which is 4 hours away from Holly Springs to go hook up with him because we'd have a show coming up or whatever and I wouldn't even call Mildred, his girlfriend, I was coming over. I'd just drive to Holly Springs and pull in front of Akey Brothers Radio store and there he'd be sitting out in the front parking lot in his Oldsmobile just pimpin' y'know. Like clockwork there'd he be just hanging out all day, every day just being cool. “We've got a gig Junior” I'd tell him. “Well, we better get going then boy.”
    In 1999, Dale Beavers hooked up with another Dale, Hawkins to be exact. Hawkins, who passed away in 2010, was one of the forefathers of rock-n-roll most notably for writing and first performing one of most during songs of the last 60 years “Suzy Q”.
    “I was living in Memphis for awhile but had gone back to Little Rock. I had this friend who did a show on the local independent community radio station there. His name's David Grace. He had been doing this show for 12 years and had never repeated a song twice in all that time. I would record everything I had going as far as bands I was in on 4-track. I would send him this stuff and he would play them on theradio. He was also Dale Hawkins entertainment attorney handling his royalties and what not.  One time he said to me “Man, You guys should go over Hawkins place and get some shit down on tape. I was 'Hawkins? As in Dale Hawkins? The guy who wrote Suzy Q? Are you fer real? And he's, 'Yeah. I've been telling him about you guys.' It would be cool.”
     Beavers learned though that working with Mr. Hawkins was easier said than done as the reputation of him being a little crazy from many years of living the not so healthy rock-n-roll lifestyle proved  true.
    “Let me tell you something. Dale Hawkins was a scorning mother fucker. I mean, he don't like anybody. We got to his door and here is with his cats all walking around his legs and he's got a sawed off shot gun in his hand.” It took a little for the “paranoid as hell and jaded as the day is long” Hawkins to warm up to the idea of recording with a bunch of younger upstarts who wanted to do something akin to his early wild and loose records.
    After doing an audition session for him though, Hawkins was excited about making a new record but still had his own grand ideas floating around in his head.
    “I'm going to get Richard Carpenter (of the 70's smaltz-pop hitmakers the Carpenters) on the phone”  Dale Beavers recalls suggestion being amongst some other outlandish and outdated ideas of who hawkins thought should produce the record.
    “A lot of people thought he was dead. He he was getting his chest wings back and out of his mind. Finally I said, and I had just met him 'Dale, this is the 21 century, man. That's not how you need to it'.”
   But after months of session and dealing with Hawkin's erratic behavior and hanging out in his studio in East Little Rock,  the self produced session were under the name Wild Cat Tamer on a label Dale Hawkins started strictly for the album called Plumtone in 1999.
     “It was pretty cool. People were like 'He's still alive? We helped him out and he helped us” Beavers says but also mentioned how Hawkins never paid a promised cash payment for the work. “I called him one night and was asking him about some money. He tells me, “I was gonna send you some money but I hit a fire hydrant with my Lincoln and had to get it fixed'. He was probably on his to Waffle House to get a pecan pie. So, I paid to fix the guy who wrote Suzy Q's Lincoln. It's cool, man. I ain't worried”.
    Dale Hawkins died in 2010 at the age of 74 from colon cancer.
    Beavers shakes his pack of Marlboro Reds, notices it's empty and asks me if I have some spare smokes. "I'll fix you another bourbon for swap" he offers.
    The 00's brought a lot of different thing to Beavers world. He married, move to Michigan and became the father of two kids but along with a domesticated life he needed to still get out and “lose my mind y'know.”
    Getting into Detroit's garage rock scene in the mid 90's he learned it was just like being down home with its love for authenticity and respect, though not complete aping, of the past. “I never even planned on moving to Detroit” Beavers tells me “but my second (now ex) wife was from Michigan so that's where I ended up".
    Meeting people around the town he thought “Detroit's cool. It's really rough around the edges and all that but I like that. I can hang out with these folks y'know.”
    Not long after moving to Detroit, Memphis compatriots Jack Yarber and Greg Cartwright of the lamented 90's blues punk band the Oblivians were in town to record their 3rd album as their on-going country and southern soul inflected and punk rock rooted project Compulsive Gamblers-the much acclaimed Crystal Gazing Luck Amazing.
    “I think that album is a masterpiece, man. One of my proudest moments. I was living up here for just a few months by then and Greg gives me a call and say's “We're coming up there to record at Jim Diamond's  studio. Do you want to play with us? And I'm like cool-got any songs? He's like 'Don't worry about. You'd be better if you don't know anything and just go in and play.' Top notch band and to just go in sight unseen with some great songs by Greg and Jack and to rip out this rock-n-roll record....That's what it's all about. That punk rock, that's rock-n-roll. That's the blues, No bullshit, Just play it and don't worry.”
     Also in the band was Jeff Meier, who's CV includes Rocket 455 and the Detroit Cobras and again bandmates with Beavers in the Shanks backing up Detroit RnB legend Nathaniel Mayer  both live and on Mayer's 2005 raucous soul album for the Fat Possum label “I Just Want To Be Held”.
    Meier describes those times as “a real drunk-fest. Band, audience, stage crew, doorman... everyone.”
    When asked what Beavers brought to the table in a city rich with its own heritage and style he says,  “He always brings a rock-n-roll attitude and a deceptive simplicity to every group he's in. Some of the stuff he plays seems easy, but you try playing it! There's a hillbilly sensibility, too. Not your typical suburban wanna be redneck... he's the real deal.”
   Daniel Kroha of 90's the Motor City garage soul punk legends the Gories echo's such sentiments as well “That crazy ol' polecat!? “ he grins “He's got the fire and brimstone of a Baptist preacher.”
    Sometimes though, the combination of Detroit and the Polecat with his fire and brimstone would get out of hand. It wouldn't be uncommon for people to have to step back when he decided it was time to get sideways. “He's a train comin’ round the bend, or maybe just a trainwreck.” says Meier “But don't worry, he can take it just as well as he dishes it out. If he messes with you, give it back to him. He likes it.”
   “How many times did he test your patience” I ask.
   “Almost every time I've hung out with him! Seriously, Dale's a rockin’ cat...One that comes to mind is the time he fell down the stairs at Jacoby's in downtown Detroit. He ended up landing on top me and my wife, Gwen. Of course, it was right in front of the editor of one of the Detroit weeklies, so it made the gossip column. He did everything he could to keep his wife from getting a hold of a copy.”
   Pennsylvania based, cigar box guitar builder and musician Christian Beshore, who comes to Michigan on a fairly regular to play solo gigs and to collaborate with Beavers in a band known as the Girls From Hateville, has been a friend of Beavers for several years now. He's had his fair share of wondering “what the hell did I get myself into” moments with him as well.
    “Tested my patience?” he repeats back to me when I ask him the question.
    “Every moment I am around him, or even on the phone with him. The craziest time I ever had with Dale I
won't repeat for you to print.”
     Well, how about one I can print then?
     “The first time he ever really tested me was when we were playing the Detroit Chopper Show and we were out drinking. He insisted we find some bar. We drove around for about an hour in one block, circling the bar...when we left it took the gps on my phone to get us home.”
    The thing is though is no matter how much Beavers does to drive people on the brink of pulling their hair out and leaving him stranded somewhere is his honest to goodness southern “charm." The guy knows how to make an impression. Beshore remembers the first time he met him.
    “He was eating a hoagie, sitting in a La-Z-Boy and watching some cable TV crap. my impression was that he was not that cool. That changed about a minute later when that crazy fool opened his mouth. His “Hey, y'all” voice could not be doubted.”
   Being inspired and crazy comes with a price and Beaver's bill came due in 2010 when his wife filed for divorce. Having two young children he knew he just couldn't pull up roots.
    “New Orleans, Memphis, Detroit, New York. They were cool but I grew up in a small town in Arkansas. My dad did outboard motor mechanics and we were complete river rats y'know. Telephoning catfish, Illegal deer hunting...from boats! You name it. The thought of wanting to live on a small town on the water would always come back to me. Y'know, being a carpenter and having fishing boat type of trip, right?”
    After several gigs over a period of few month in Port Huron, the thought of it being that kind of town kept gnawing at his thoughts. “I wanted to get out of Detroit. I just wanted to get away from all that shit. I took to this place.”
    At first the small but insular underground music in Port Huron took him as a curiosity. Here was this hillbilly who had toured the world and played with some of the most revered unsung legends of Rock-n-Roll and the Blues and for some reason wanted to live in small town away isolated from any big music scene. There wasn't much to offer outside of a house party here and a dive bar gig there and it's not exactly the highest focus of places-especially for someone who had been awarded best Blues Artist in Detroit as he was voted in “Real Detroit” magazine in 2009.
    I mean, here's 6 and a half foot cat that talks like boisterous Foghorn Leghorn standing on a stage with a well used vintage hollow body guitar, playing through a Fender tube amp that looks like it seen many a day in the back of a pick up truck in sweltering and sweating in the southern sun, wailing though a mic akin to the ones guys like Elvis sang through back in the 50's with his rhythm accompaniment  being his right foot coming down and a homemade wooden stompin' box. He's out playing blues festivals and what not all over the country. What would motivate him to move in a podunk like Port Huron, Michigan?
    Maybe they weren't suspicious of him as they were perplexed perhaps.
    As time went on and people got to know him better he became accepted as one of the town's newly adopted sons. As Benny Browsowski, singer of Blue Water Area based greaser punk band Smackmadam put it, “Dale doesn't really fit in the local scene which is a good part of his appeal. Instead of suburban white boys forcing themselves to play music they like but don't feel-he's an instant elder statesman of the blues. Playing music he feels.”
    When talking about their differences in drink of choice, Benny says, “Dale's preference for bourbon over moonshine shows he's more of a gentlemen than a roughneck. It by no means implies he’s not willing to get down and dirty.”
    In the summer of 2010, Beavers signed a lease for a place and now his ID carries a 48060 zipcode. “This is my home now. Ya'll is cool people. You needed some trouble. I'm finding it for you.”

Oct 3, 2012

Wednesday Photo by Dale: People's Temple and the Eroders at the Roche in Port Huron 9/29/12

     Lansing, Michigan's People's Temple were at the end of their US tour. It was suppose to end in Chicago but I had been wanted the band consisting of two set of brothers to come to rock the city I live in, Port Huron, Michigan, for a couple years now. Every time we thought we had a night would work something on either my end or there's always ended putting the kibosh on it. Finally the stars aligned and, DAMN, what a doozy of a show. Being on the road playing every night for a few makes meant the band were tight as all get out. They played for they're sometimes punky, occasionally folky, usually garage psychedelic garage rock-n-roll sounds around an hour and a half and played every song in their canon (and then some...the crowd made them play "Louie, Louie". They said they didn't really know how to play it but we didn't care.)





     Opening the show were the Eroders, featuring Josh and Blake of the excellent modish/punkish band Instant Party, out of Detroit. Playing quick blasts of teenage thrash and caveboy trash inflected punk rock they got the evening off on the right foot.




Find out more about People's Temple here. Check out more info on the Eroders at this spot.     

Sep 12, 2012

CRAZY SPIRIT s/t LP

     With the phrase "Hardcore" being used to on reality based TV show all over cable to describing Hip-Hop artists who are hawking a clothing line available at K-Mart people sometimes forget it was used to describe the nastier side of skin flicks and the most pissed off forms of American punk rock.
     This is probably for the best.
     Porn many times more extreme can be found with a click or two of a mouse. Hardcore punk, which was once the sound of bored and disenchanted kids screaming in defiance of all the bullshit around them, somewhere took a hard turn and became a bunch of shaved headed goatee sporting fat ass tough guys armed with palm mutes and a Dimebag Darrell instruction video. Recklessness replaced with uniform syncopation like a bunch of humorless asshole gym class leaders if they formed a band in the locker room.
     Hailing from New York City Crazy Spirit play HARDCORE (but not NYHC as that all seem to have degenerated into the meathead music I was bitching about above) the way it should sound.
     The singer gurgles, grunts and brays like he eats fiberglass insulation for lunch then wraps a bare electrical chord around his neck while spewing almost unintelligible words.  The guitars splatter feedback and going off the rails power chords blur the lines between simple blind drunk rage and absolute criminally insane behavior. Mucho distorted bass rumbles as if it's an avalanche of mud and bowling balls barreling down a mountain while the drummer sounds like he was kicked out of a martial marching band for worshiping the altar of Animal from the Muppets. Whether it's taking your basic Germs thrash (which seems to be the jumping off point most of this band leaps off) on tunes like "Little Boots" and "I'm Dead" or sounding like hicks gone hardcore channeling murder blues made by serial killers on tracks like "Troll" and "I Become A Man"-Crazy Spirit are reclaiming the noise back for the misfits, malcontents and rejects.
TOXICSTATERECORDS@GMAIL.COM  

Sep 11, 2012

A Smashin' Transistors "classic interview" with People's Temple





     What to do when you're two sets of brothers living in a two traffic light town located in the middle of Michigan to stave off boredom? Well, in some cases they would most likely torture small animals, shoot at road signs, knock some girl from their church their made to go to up and develop a meth habit. In the People's Temple case though-they went a completely different route by digging in to their parents record collection then digging deeper and forming a rock-n-roll band.
    One part the Byrds Fifth Dimension, one part Spacemen 3's The Perfect Prescription and lots of other parts consisting of the Rolling Stones, The 13th Floor Elevators and even some 80's UK raincoat rock to name a just a few the band, after recording a handful of 7inch EP's on several different labels, released their debut album Sons Of Stone on the Hozac label this spring. Guitar player/singer Alex gives Smashin' Transistors a little bit of the lowdown. (

-Interview with by Dale (Editors note: This interview originally appeared at the old Smashin' Transistors site in early 2011)

Favorite ever member of the Rolling Stones?

Alex : Keith Richards

Yeah, that's always a given it seems. What about Mick Taylor though?

A: Mick was cool. That's about it. He never really did anything to put himself in the spot light. He's truly second underrated Rolling Stone following Brian Jones.

Name your moment with the Stones, and this coming from a huge Stones fan, where you thought "Man, this is some superlame shit".

A: Honestly I really haven't had a moment like that with the Stones. They are the greatest rock & roll group ever.

C'mon! Not even Dirty Work or Mick Jagger's solo albums?

A: Well, some of the solo Mick Jagger stuff is gay.

Are there any track you skip over on Exile On Mainstreet?
  
A: No that is one of my favorites along with Aftermath.

Not even "I Just Want To See His Face" ?

A: Well, yes. I have at least once.

What's it like being in a band of siblings? Are there a lot of fighting like brothers?

A: It has its positives and negatives, yes lots of fistfights, screaming, arguing and so on, BUT there is a psychic dynamic that we have when we play.

What's the biggest blowup you've guys have had while playing in front of a group of people?

A: On time early on. It was like are 3rd or 4th show and we were playing terrible. I think we stopped midset and knocked a bunch of shit over and started yelling at each other. After a few minutes we continued and finished the rest of are set. Then we knocked a bunch of ceiling tiles out on are last song too.

If Lou Reed and Wayne Kramer got in a fist fight who do you think would win?

A: Ha !! Thats easy Detroit always wins in brawls so Wayne Kramer.

Lou's till got some hair though. Wayne had cool hair one time though. How important is cool hair for rock-n-rolling?

A: Lou's hair is defiantly cooler. Its cool if you have nice hair. If not that sucks.

Listening to what band makes you feel like you're on drugs even though you are not?

A: Spaceman 3

When I say cheese what do you think of?

A: Richard

What song do you thing Richard Cheese would do the People's Temple justice?

A: Jim Jones

Is it safe to assume that you guys chose the band name of the teachings of the Reverend Jim Jones then? Or is it in tribute to Jay Reatard's old digs in Memphis?

A: Its a throwback for Brian Jonestown Massacre, so I guess more Jim Jones.

Speaking of the Brian Jonestown Massacre what kind of notes did you take from the movie DIG?

A:We took a lot of things. Their guitars and amps were the main thing.

What other rock docs have you found inspirational?

A:The Stones doc. about the Altamont Speedway gig .

Growing up in a county where the largest population is the town of Owosso with 15,000 or so did you ever think going there was a trip to "the big city"?

A: No, Lansing was always the big city. But funny you ask that-we actually played are first show in a battle of the bands in Owosso and it sucked!

What sucked about it?

A: Owosso is a shithole of a town and filled with hard-corers and Screamo wannabees. We played with like 6 other hardcore/screamo fags and they all hated us.

It's like that over in my part of the state too. How did you guys end up playing the type of music you do?

A: My parents grew up in the 70's so he listened to the Stones, Kinks, and others. I just dug deeper into the 60's cause that's what interested me and the sound appealed to me more so then new music when I was growing up.

Speaking of your area-Shiwasee county and all that-what's your take on Durand, Michigan? Does everyone there quote Rush Limbaugh on a regular basis or does it just seem like that?

A: HA ! Durand is even shittier than Owosso. I had a girlfriend once who had relatives that lived in Durand and they were all a bunch of weirdo conservatives.

Living out in the sticks where was the place you went to party that the "cops don't know about" even though most likely the cops partied there decades before?

A: Never had a spot like that. Were not that far in the sticks, man. Lansing is like 15-20 min. away and i always had friends who lived in Lansing and on campus. I work at a restaurant in East Lansing, so I started partying with MSU students when I was like 17. It was awesome ! Just imagine the scene from Animal House when they throw the toga party and that what you get in Lansing, especially when you party on campus!

Did you ever try to lift cassingles from the mall "record store" when you were young?

A: Nope. I think cassingles were a bit before my time. I did get caught shoplifting in the mall once though?

What went down?

A: It was during my adolescent juvenile skater days and I was Lifting a shirt or something at this Sporting good store and the manager turned the corner, not just a employee but the manager of the whole store, and basically scared the shit out of me and my friends and let us go.

What topping should NEVER go on pizza.

A: Anchovies

What's the most messed up thing that has happened to you involving fire?

A: Man ...I almost burnt my house down. I have lit myself on fire before. I have almost burnt my car to the ground the list goes on!

What effects pedals would the People's Temple endorse?

A: Any Wah pedal, the Ibenaz Tube Screamer or any of the Boss pedals.

What type of cash would they have to dole out to you to get your endorsement?

A: We would take any money, man.

Now that you have released one of the most bad ass album of 2011-Which one of you is now to most likely do a solo album of Yoko Ono covers and what special guest musicians would they want to play on it.

A: It would be George and he would sing and play all the instruments himself.

Who in the band is most likely to pull a Brian Wilson?

A: William

Who do you have on your wish list for a producer of one of your future records?

A: Anton Newcombe

When it comes to playing rock-n-roll which ranks higher in it's fringe benefits-The chicks or the free party favors?

A: As of right now I wish I could say the chicks, but party favors for sure!

Find out more about People's Temple here.

People's Temple will be playing the Roche Bar in Port Huron on September 29th. Go here for more info.

Aug 19, 2012

Mount Carmel "Real Women" LP

     One theory is that this Ohio trio discovered their dad's record collection AND weed stash on the same day. Being at the guitar player and bassist are brothers that is believable.
     Another more convoluted, but more awesome theory is that they frozen in blocks of bongwater ice since 1972 strict instructions for be thawed out later when boogie based blues rock, after being flogged endlessly by fakers, old farts and dinks who will engage in conversations about "the blues" with you as long as it's only about Clapton and SRV (because, well, everything else was just a lead up to their "innovations and greatness"), needed good swift kick in the ass and proper resuscitation.
     The problem was though the directions of when to defrost them were written down wrong and the band stayed in their icy tomb for much too long and the aforementioned fakers, old farts and dinks seem to think they have won decimating any thick and greasy mashed potato and gravy comfort food groove (thank you Mr. Rick Hall for initially making that observation) thought they won the battle.
     You know the types. The ones that will tell you that "Guys like Robert Johnson and Son House were cool but they played out of tune" and "Sure, the James Gang were ok but it's the triple guitar attack in 'Hotel California' where Joe Walsh really shined."
     It's also likely that those types are the ones responsible for when someone mentions "blues rock" to pals who's taste they respect and they will turn up their nose, give you a sideways glance and want to change the subject to something a bit more obscure.
     Mount Carmel are here to here to bring the music back to the partiers, the weirdoes, the stoners and those who like to sway their hips. Back the types that know it's about having fun-not being told or asked they are from the guy on the mic, not worrying about stage lights and hoping they are people with the 8 grand they have tied up into their guitar, amp and pedals (because we all know the first thing people think of when they they think "Blues Rock" as an effect rack of digital effects, right? How else can you get that authentic sound"?) on stage more than the music itself.
     Pare the songs down to their bare essentials. Trim the fat such as the drum solos and the "We are just more than blues-check out this acoustic part my guitar teacher taught me when I told him when I wanted to learn some classical piece" fruity frills. Keep the songs straight, greasy, to the point and NONE of them over the 5 minute mark.
     From the backyard filled with the smells of burgers cooking on a charcoal fire and MaryJane smoke of the opener "Swaggs", the Bad Company if their bar rock didn't get them signed to Led Zep's label and the "C'mon maybe I know you wanna get get naked cuz you like the way I smell all sweaty" vibe of "Lullaby" Mount Carmel should be blasting out of every restored Monte' Carlo, Cutlass and Riviera, stuffing their pants with 20 dollar bills and having the Black Crowes get those pot leaf embroidered leather pants alternated and bowing to them on stage as the hand them over the crown.
http://www.siltbreeze.com/mtcarmel.htm
     

Aug 13, 2012

Short's Pontius Road Pilsner

     With it being as sweltering, nasty, sticky hot as it has been this Michigan summer the idea of a beer filled with sticky hops or just a general thickness have not been on the top of my sipping list.
     Wanting something a bit light and refresh BUT with flavor after the tastebuds have been attuned to many complexities has lead to a lot of trial, error and disappointments. I knew there was a pilsner out there that would hit the spot though so I kept searching.
      The look of this matched the bright, sunshiny days we've had around here with it's clear, bubbly golden color. It's head small and gone within seconds.
     The aroma is was faint but refreshing with notes of just mowed lawn and lemon slices. Earthy and fizzy. Yep, Smells like a summer day. So far so good.
     The flavor is reminiscent of your standard classic old guy pilsner but a bit more crispness and much more less carbonated corn syrup characteristics. The pilsner malts really stand out in a fresh baked wheat bread kind of way in the front. That's followed by a light but noticeable hop that brings out a white pepper and some bitters in toward the end. That lingers a bit on the finish but doesn't stick around too much to wear out it's welcome on a 97°F day.
     To say that this is the one of the most amazing pilsners I have ever tried with be stretching it a way bit but it is pretty good and worked well with what I was looking for after a day at work then going home to do work in the yard.
http://www.shortsbrewing.com/ 

Aug 3, 2012

The BILL BONDSMEN "Smashin' Transistors Classic Interview"


     I remember a time when a band was considered HARDCORE it meant something way different than what it does now. It didn't mean a billion palm mutes then a mosh part, it didn't mean Warped or Ozfest tours, inventive facial hair and faux leather fashion endorsements.
    Detroit's Bill Bondsmen take me back to a simpler time (High School) when it was called Hardcore PUNK.  Pumped with anger, packed with contempt and sloshing in beer they do the full on rage with a dark sense of humor thing the way I remember it. Here's band's mouth piece Tony "Gabby" 4TG and I yakking for a while about a bunch of shit.
-interview by Dale

 
Okay-Both of us grew up in greater southeastern Michigan so we were raised on Bill Bonds logic but we have an international audience here...So before we go any farther could you explain to the fine readers who Bill Bonds is.

I'm sure all over the world there's a guy like him in each town. He used to read the news here on TV but he now does ads on TV for furniture. He challenged the equally crazy ex mayor of Detroit, Coleman A. Young, to a boxing match on TV. If you wanna see him check out "Escape From The Planet Of The Apes" where he plays a newscaster.

What about Detroit's current mayor Kwame Kilpatrick? Does he think he's Puff Daddy or some shit?

Well, since I didn't get an invite to the mansion I'll say asshole. He's kind of an unfunny Coleman Young. He's about as ghetto as Coleman but I don't think Bill Bonds will challenge him to a boxing match any time soon. I'm waiting for him to answer a question at a press conference with "Yo mama!"

When did hardcore get all fucked up and take a turn for the worse?

Ahh there's 100 reasons for that. Part of it is that a lot of hardcore bands seem to only listen to hardcore which makes them really derivitive. Like why listen to a band who sound like whatever band sounded like Youth Of Today who sounded like SS Decontrol and DYS when you could just listen to SSD and DYS? This really applies to any genre. Not only that but when metal came in around 86 it opened the floodgates for the jocks you see that act like the people that kicked people like us' asses in high school. I actually ran into a dude who beat me up in high school for being a "punk rock fag" at a bar a few years back and he was suddenly my old friend. Fuck that! Like Cider said "You're not a part of us! You never fucking were!"

 
How do you react when some moron says that they are "totally into hardcore-y'know like Korn and Hatebreed"?

Well, I'm tempted to go on a loooonng rant. I guess if they're dumb enough to like that crap they kind of already said it all didn't they? Personally I'm trying to bring back "hardcore punk" to differentiate between that crap and what bands I like do. Personally, i'd rather talk about the article I read in the van about the guy from Korn that found god cuz now you can say that "god gets Head". HAHAHAHAHA.

Do you ever wanna walk up to those type of kids and rip their piercing out of there faces and when their crying in pain you can say "What the fuck dude. I thought you were all tough and street and shit."?

Well, I don't really see those kids anymore. I'd rather take some of the gangsta hawdcaw kids and drop em off in a non rebuilt part of Detroit and watch them piss themselves. I'd also like to ask some of these kids who all look the same if they genuinely feel they're any different than the 100 kids just like em. I guess I miss the days where you couldn't go to Hot Topic to buy a wardrobe so we all did stupid shit like draw on our pants or screen your own shirts etc. Back when you spiked your own belt.

What's your opinion on songs that have classical guitar type intros ?

Well, Poison Idea had a lot of neo classical moments ("Plastic Bomb") but those were mostly with pianos. I suppose if done right. The intro to "No God" by the Germs sounds pretty classical but I doubt Pat Smear actually played that. Hmmm... I'll take "Sucks" for 100 Alex?

How heavily were you into Metallica in your younger days. They had classical guitar intros. When did you realize they sucked?

Well, I make it no secret that as a kid (like early grade school) I was really into NWOBHM/thrash metal stuff until about 5th grade when I finally heard punk rock. I used to be waaaaaay into Metallica amongst other thrash bands because they were cooler, back then, than most of the stuff you could find at a record store for the most part. I realized they sucked when I heard "And Justice For All" back in 1988. It was so slow and long and boring that it had no exciting aspects. I recall buying it thinking it had to be cool because Pushead did art for it. Boy, was I wrong. I hadn't felt so let down since I first heard "Join The Army" by Suicidal Tendencies...

What do you consider good metal?

I actually listen to a lot of old metal still to this day. Stuff like Venom, Celtic Frost/Hellhammer, etc still get listened to quite a bit. I still dig it because it's essentially punk if you can get past the solos. I wouldn't call Motorhead metal but I guess some people do. I listen to them all the time. I also like a lot of Japanese stuff that's pretty metal like Assault...

Ron Reagan inspired a shit load of bands in the 80's with their rage...Do you think Bush Jr is making the same mark?

Not that I'm aware of. We have a tune kind of about him but not as much. The real difference is that back when Ronnie was prez there was less access to information so when he was caught in some shit it was a big surprise. Now, we're so skeptical and have access to everything the bastard does that I think we're just lulled into being too relaxed about it because it's no shock. "Oh! He lied again... What's on channel 62?" or "Oh! He mispronounced another word..." 
I honestly think we kind of deserve him. After all, is he any dumber, ill mannered, or ill informed than 75% of the people you run into on a daily basis? I honestly don't think so.Today alone I had to listen to some guy at a bar tell me that the Middle Eastern people just want to be left alone but that Kwame is a"nigger" and if we had a white Republican in the mayor's office blah blah blah. A co worker told me that "if you don't believe in Jesus i've got some work to do" and then tried to sell me on evangelical Christianity (ie the words of the bible literally translated to their suiting. These are the fuckers to be scared of... Reagan and both Bush's believe in the same thing. Anyone who has actually read the bible... Look at what's happening in the Middle East, specifically Israel. These whackos are trying to make "Revelations" happen today... Remember Reagan saying that the Anti Christ was here today? Bush has said similar things about Sadaam and the Palestinians... I could go on and on on this topic...). 
Regardless, everyone is insane around us and most of us with two brain cells to rub together are asleep at the wheel because, much like watching your best friend get killed, we're all desensitized and numb...Besides, the focus has changed in punk rock... It's no longer a baby. No more thoughts of "this could change the world". It's more like "this could change me" or "there's nothing I can do so let's just party!" The only people still clinging to the idea of "Anarchy In (insert region)" are nothing but dogmatic bible thumpers with too much time on their hands...

What up with all the cracks you make about the Kinks?

I will go on record and say that I LOVE THE FUCKING KINKS! All the way up to "Destroyer" which is usually way past most people's cut off points. But! If I hear one more band buttfuck "You Really Got Me" or anything by The Sonics I will fucking puke! It's worse than when ska was big. You worked at a record store so you've had the misfortune of seeing the waves of generic clones for every good idea. If people would take more from the music and do something like The Maharajas from Sweden have done it would be way cooler than rehashed bullshit. Anyone can take any genre and mimic it perfectly but the best bands always add something to it or turn it inside out.


How much fast food and convenience store snacks can a body take?

Well, that's a good question. I can eat burgers like it's goin out of style and my dentist can attest to all the candy i've eaten thru the years. I would have to say that 3 rolls of Sweetarts plus a Jolt and two McDonalds double cheeseburgers is probably the max i've eaten in one day without puking. I don't really eat healthy so i'm probably the wrong guy to ask when too much is enough.

What's your ideal "Power Breakfast".

4 to 5 cigarettes, a diet Mountain Dew (can't handle regular pop unless it's fountain and then I still 50/50 it), and a Starbucks "Double Shot" on a weekday. Maybe a sausage, onion, and cheese omelette slathered in enough hot sauce to kill a cat. That usually puts me in shape to face the world. On a weekend, 1 diet Pepsi, 1 cold beer, 4 to 5 smokes, and whatever I can round up food wise. Usually chips or toast or something lame. Usually while listening to something decidedly "un punk". As of late that means The Faces...

Okay Tony, time for some word association...

-Japan

Musical heaven for me. I will go there soon enough. Too bad about thier porn though...

-Mexican Food

Zumba in Royal Oak.

-Cigarettes

I love you. Now if only my love wasn't killing me at $10 a day.

-Matt Coppens

All around good guy. Looking forward to playing with his crappy band Glorified Trash (Ladies, contain yourselves) in beautiful....(bonus part;) Grand Rapids : Shit hole. Makes Detroit seem stable. Nah, we've had bad luck but there's some cool stuff that goes on there.

-Henry Rollins

"He's not gay. He just does a lot of gay things like weightlifting and poetry." - the only good quote to come from Steven Blush.

-Ace Frehley

The only rock n roll part of KISS. Without him whadda ya got? A snake oil salesman, a sissy who sings nothing but love songs, and a coked out guido who thinks he's Otis Redding.

Vodka or Gin?

NEITHER! Last time I drank vodka I got thrown out of my own show and almost got arrested by the Brooklyn PD. Ended the night passed out in front of some bar. This is after my last vodka moments that ended in me passing out on New Years at 10 pm (smashed my head into the toilet) and the time I threw up at the bar and had to be carried out of the Magic Stick by bouncers and driven home by some girl from another state. Did it all on feeling.... ("You're going the wrong way!") Last time I drank gin I was 15 and I threw up on some christian's birthday cake and passed out on their lawn. I only drink beer now and that's about it.

Can you speculate how Bill Bonds would've handled a Bud Dwyer type situation?

Well, if he was covering it he probably would have just called Bud a pussy and offered to kick his ass despite him being dead. You are talking about the city of Detroit in human form after all. The man is hard as nails! He's our version of Bill Brasky.Speaking of Bill... If anyone has any footage of him, especially his post 9/11 "I'll kick your ass, Osama!" rant, send it this way! I'm also looking for the "groin terrorist" rant about AIDS.

Who's a greater American? Hugh Hefner or John Brannon?

Well, i've never hung around Hef but i'm thinking it's Hef. Isn't the American dream to do nothing yet get rich and have fun doing it? The man could literally glide across a floor of silicone tits any day he wants. He does hang out with some tools but those early Playboys up to the 70's had some style to em. Brannon can sing better but he doesn't have 4 or more hot girls that willingly act as a harem for him does he? The ultimate indicator is who would you rather be? I think we know the answer...

Aug 1, 2012

BLACK TIME "Smashin' Transistors Classic Interview"


Feral! That's a good one word description when trying to explain England's BLACK TIME. Hissing! Clawing itself free and scratching out eyes. Like getting whacked upside the head with a garbage can by a gang of rats the size of a surly bouncer at a dingy bar who's jukebox is stacked with nothing but Link Wray, the Fall, Swell Maps and those who follow them like a cult and all the partons chain smoke and wear dark glasses
-interview by Dale

Band history to start...Isn't there a Hot Wires and/or an Action Time connection to the Black Time?

Lemmy Caution: Yeah, the Action Time was my youthful attempt at mod-punk/girl group stylings – I was listening to a lot of motown and English punk rock in the ATV/Subway Sect/Pop Rivets vein.. I didn’t really have the know-how at the time to get the right sound for the vision and most of the records are watered-down versions of what it was supposed to be. The Hotwires was my last attempt at a band in the romantic sense of the word and totally fucking wasted about 3 years of my life as a result.

What do you recommend for getting blood stains off a carpet?

Janie Too Bad: Red carpets.
Mister Stix: What do you wanna take it off the carpet for?
LC: Scrape it off with over-priced bootleg of obscure euro-punk.

Speaking of "collector" records-Did ya wonder what the hell Peter P.Trash was talking about when he
said he'd have artwork silkscreened onto the vinyl itself?

LC: I didn't have a clue what the fuck he was on about!  I thought maybe something was getting lost in the german/english translation - "I'm going to silkscreen the vinyl!!"
    "You mean the labels?"
    "No, the vinyl!!!"
    "Er, yeah OK mate..."
    The only thing I could imagine it was going to be like was one of those Def Leppard type picture discs. I was really bowled over with the results when I finally got the records in the post - even MORE beautiful than a Def Leppard picture disc - though obviously we're gonna have to work on the songs and Stix might have to lose an arm.

What's your take on all that collector type stuff? Do you have a bunch of stuff like that (completist/comic
book geek type stuff) or do you just buy one copy to rock out too?

LC: Well personally I'm a vinyl junkie 'cos CDs suck but not at the expense of just owning the music - I'll happily have a vinyl repress of something if it sounds decent rather than shell out £££s for the original.  Ultimately I just wanna be able to listen to the track on my fave format - I don't collect records in a completist/investment way 'cos it's not really entering into the spirit.  Records are meant to be loaned out/not returned/taken round people's house for parties/get beer split on them/frayed edges/those sexy circles you get on the sleeve when you've played it a thousand times etc...they're ultimately ephemeral objects of fun to dance, drink, fuck to etc..
    I know a lot of people were bummed about the price of the p trash 12 it was really expensive but then it cost Peter a shitload to make it - I don't think he's making loads of money out of putting out Black Time and Manikins records y'know?  I like the idea of Black Flag and Minor Threat keeping their back cat in stock for ever at a cheap price but there's nowhere that level of demand for our stuff... the fact is if we do a few hundred copies of a record almost everyone that really wants it will be able to get a copy. I think Peter's planning on doing a 'normal' press of 'new vague themes' at some point for all the non-c.scum as well.

What's the saddest song in the world?

MS: True by Spandau Ballet
JTB: The saddest song in the world is "Friends of Mine" by The Zombies. Actually even sadder than that is I Got Knocked Down (But I'll Get Up) by Joey Ramone. Now I feel awful, thanks a lot.
 LC: The theme tune to Sesame Street - they're singing about sunny days and happy days but with the kind of melancholy minor-key wistfulness that convinces you all the kids are the victims of horrible systematic abuse by their parents and teachers.

 
My 6 year old son, Nolan, makes me play the "Crawlin'" single at least once a day. He always says "This song is gonna freak out in a couple seconds." Is it okay to let him freak out when the part he is talking about starts? Can I hold you responsible for any subversion that may take place later?

MS: Blacktime accept no responsibility for kids freaking out and going retarded there's enough of us(why are we mutants?) in blacktime for starters.  I suggest for safety reasons you should get your kid into contemporary 80's jazz and teach him to gingerly tap his foot.

Do you blame that on society?

MS: Being Mutants? No I blame it on the blacktime gene pool.  Freaking out yea ADHD or whatever it is called is a crock of crap.
LC: Being English I blame it on the weather.

Bob Dylan-Genius or fool?

MS: Robert Zimmerman thats his name
JTB: Genius for pissing off hippie purists.
LC: Old people's music

What's your favorite song by the Fall.

MS: The cover of "Jerusalem" hands down for me
JTB: Totally Wired.  It's kind of an obvious choice but you can't deny how great this song is and it just makes you want to dance all over the place to show how totally wired you feel.  I'm usually more Totally Tired though, but that doesn't make such a great song.  Being from California I also relate sentimentally to anyone using the word totally repetitively. To-tal-ly.
LC: "Neighbourhood Of Infinity" - "Used to listen to Link Wray, used to play him every Saturday, god bless Saturday".  Fucking great.

Do you like the Brix era much? It's some of my favorite stuff by them but I've heard some call it their "sell out years".

LC: A lot of the Brix era is really good, especially the first few albums and singles of that phase.  Even something like "Dead Beat Descendent" which is from near the end of the Brix era - killer riff.

So In The Red is doing a CD version of "Blackout". What type of demands did you make to give Mr Hardy the honor the re-releasing it?

MS: Demands were eating an English breakfast every morning for a month explaining the offside rule in football to us and reciting who’s who in the football league
LC: Yeah Larry’s had to shell out for a triple heart bypass ‘cos of all the greasy food.  He’s doing OK I hear but he’s still got to do his major in cockney rhyming slang before we’ll let him do another record.

What should people expect with your second album?

MS: Blacktime football songs
LC: Sensitive acoustic ballads

Silk or Satin?

JTB: Silk nighties are the way to a girl's heart. Satin will also work.
LC: 10 Silk Cut behind the bike sheds.
MS: Nights in white satin sheets with silky chicks.

Ya ever slid off of a bed with satin sheets?

MS: No but once rolled over and hit my head on the wall.

When's the last time you were spotted outside wearing something that wasn't black?

LC: What do you mean go outside??!!!
 MS A few days ago a navy blue i love French girls t-shirt in French.
 JTB: I had to wear purple eyeliner at our last gig because the black one disappeared, a formal apology to the good people of Nottingham.

Nottingham? Did you run into Robin Hood?

JTB: No Robin Hood per se, however there was a drunken whimsical Robin Hood-esque character dancing like crazy during our set as the rest of the crowd quietly moved towards the back of the venue, and exited out the back door. But we're happy to please just one misguided drunkard a night because it's far more fans than we had before.
MS: Blacktime ran into a lot of feedback whilst lost and disillusion driving down Maid Marian way...no Shit.
LC: Yeah we got pulled over by the cops for unsteady driving in our fully load mini metro.  We were all bouncing along to Screamin' Jay Hawkins like in 'Stranger Than Paradise' and it must of caused some swerving.

When was the last time you got in trouble?

JTB: I tried to sneak into a Adobe Illustrator course and not pay for it, because I thought it was 120 pounds. I got caught and the man in charge escorted me out the class and demaned I paid up. I tried to escape but then he told me it was only 30 pounds and I felt really stupid. So uhhh, I am a bit of a rebel for higher learning!
LC: When we were on tour in France and Janie couldn't eat anything 'cos of a stomach ulcer, and I sat opposite during a delicious meal the promoter had cooked us and accidentally blurted out "ohmygod, this is the best meal I've ever had in my life!".  If looks could kill...  You always get really great food when you play in mainland Europe - it's like being on holiday.  I think the UK is more like what I've heard playing in the US is like - you play your set and then the promoter clips you round the ear and tells you to fuck off out of his venue.
MS: Drinking got into trouble with my liver

So, Black Time are kindred spirits with the Real Losers I hear...Ya ever had a barbeque together?

MS: We've got drunk on a boat together and discussed the importance of booger in revenge of the nerds
JTB: We have a picture with The Hand and a huge bowl of mushrooms, that kind of looks as if we were about to do some kind of barbeque. But we just were posing with some huge bowl of mushrooms for some reason.
LC: No BBQ yet, but when I first met the Real Losers they showed me their party trick, which was C-Shake dropping his trousers (sorry, that's 'pants' to you guys) and Hot Dog shoving a beer bottle up his arse (sorry, ass).  I was all downhill from there... The Real Losers are basically the greatest rocknroll band in the world right now - they just get better and better. I'm just some schmuck (hey, I'm picking up the lingo now) who works in an office and messes around with my little punk rock project when I'm not getting wasted, but the Real Losers are THEE real deal.

I'm just starting to get into french films. Can you give me a quick crash course in what I should check out?

LC: Any early Godard is good (he gets a bit more heavily into experimentation and Marxism as the 60s go on, so the later films can be quite hard work) but yeah check out A BOUT DE SOUFFLE aka BREATHLESS, ALPHAVILLE (which Bladerunner ripped quite a bit off), MASCULIN FEMININ or UNE FEMME EST UNE FEMME are all great and really watchable.  Haven't seen much Truffaut except SHOOT THE PIANIST and THE 400 BLOWS but they are both amazing.  I really like this guy Jean-Pierre Melville who isn't really part of the New Wave scene of 60s french film makers but he made loads of great moody existential crime movies like UN FLIC and La SAMOURAI - Tarantino was definitely taking notes.  There's some great films from the 40s and 50s as well like Jean Renoir's LA GRANDE ILLUSION (great dissection of war and the class divide) and 50s film noirs like LES DIABOLIQUES and RIFIFI.  I don't know that much about modern french cinema - a lot of it seems to be tastefully shot bourgeois melodrama which lives me a bit cold, but I like some of Claire Denis' stuff like BEAU TRAVAIL (anything with Denis Lavant is usually good actually) and the vampire film she did TROUBLE EVERY DAY.

Vincent Price or Christopher Lee?
LC: Christopher Lee for looking so suave and evil in 'Beat Girl'