Monday, 23 June 2008
We Jam Econo
One of my favourite stories about San Pedro's finest, the Minutemen, is when D Boon and Mike Watt played together for the first time. They had no concept of tuning; thinking it was a matter of preference as to whether you liked your strings loose or tight.
I love this band - they're one of my favourites of all time, and as i'm not going to sit here and tell you how great Radiohead are ... here are a few tidbits to show why this fucking awesome band deserve much more attention in Boris Johnson's London.
(Kudos to Hot Club for trying...and failing)
Before you read this, press play above
The Minutemen were formed in January 1980 by Mike Watt on Bass and D. Boon on guitar. The two friends had been jamming together for almost a decade and when punk rock came on to the scene it gave them the opportunity to go up and give starting a band a try. The first band they formed was the Reactionaries in late '78 which lasted through '79. The Reactionaries consisted of D. Boon on guitar, Mike Watt on bass, George Hurley on drums and Martin Tamburovich on vocals. When Watt and Boon formed the Minutemen, George Hurley had already joined another band called Hey Taxi! and Martin was out. They initially recruited drummer Frank Tonche for the few first shows, but punk rock scared the shit outta him so George Hurley was back for good. From the very beginning, the Minutemen had a very original non-traditional punk rock style fusing, rock, pop, jazz, funk, country and punk rock. They began playing in April of 1980 and became the first band to be a part of the SST family thanks to Greg Ginn of Black Flag. As a result the Minutemen released their debut 7" Paranoid Time in the summer of 1980. The record was unlike anything that had ever been done, the songs were so short, terse and volitile; from the very start the Minutemen were beginning to be recognized as a very revolutionary band. By 1981 the Minutemen were a part of the burgeoning underground hardcore scene that was being brought to attention by other southern California bands such as the Circle Jerks, Secret Hate, Saccharine Trust, the Descendents, Fear, X, Agent Orange; bay area bands like the Dead Kennedys and Flipper and other bands across the country such as the Bad Brains, Minor Threat, the Dicks, 7Seconds, the Meat Puppets, the Misfits and Husker Du. Cut at the end of '80 and released in '81 the Minutemen released their first 12" the 15-minute long EP The Punch Line. With this record the Minutemen had stretched out even more and were rapidly establishing their own style. In 1982 they released the even more intricite album LP What Makes a Man Start Fires?. The following year Minutemen went on a hectic tour with Black Flag that left them longing for American Soil. That year they also released an 8-song EP called Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat which was lead into an even more jazzy direction. Then news came out that Husker Du was going to be recording a double-LP and Minutemen wanted to match them by recording twice as many songs. As a result the masterpiece Double Nickels on the Dime was released in 1984. This album encompassed every incredible aspect of the Minutemen; 45 fucking songs! By this time the Minutemen had established a reputation as a very straightforward thinking working class band that put out records as much as they could and toured relentlessly. But sadly 1985 marked the end for the Minutemen; they released two more records that year, the EP Project: Mersh and their final album 3-Way Tie for last, which proved to people to never expect the same thing from this band, they had branched out so far and were now conquering 3-4-minute songs. They toured with REM and performed their last show on December 13, in Charlotte, NC. Sadly the saga of the Minutemen came to tragic end on December 22, 1985 when D. Boon was killed in a van accident. It marked the end of an incredible band, an amazing person and an era with so much unacknowledge significance.
In 2005 some bright spark was clever enough to release a fantastic docufilm called We Jam Econo. It's great despite D Boon occasionally rocking the 'fat ginge' look. Clip me.