In 2016, vocalist Christian Perez, who also leads the fractured Americana group Hark, suffered a stroke at the young age of 24 — hence the name Clot. Soon after, his father was involved in a car accident that left him with permanent brain damage. Dealing with these experiences opened up wholly new dimensions of music for Perez and bandmate Yasin Knapp (of math rock outfit Things Amazing, and atmospheric rockers Of The Vine) as a means of finding balance, context, and possibly resolution. Perez writes the lyrics and sings, while Knapp handles the musical arrangements, steeped in a hissing atmosphere of high-speed rhythms, and distortion. Drummer Cameron Austin (Apostle, Of The Vine) unleashes an avalanche of blast beats, pushing the music deeper into the maelstrom.
Bass player Parker Estopinal (of Kid Macho) and guitar player Daniel Weed (Holy Wound and Mannequin Grove) were recruited into Clot after these recordings were made.
Their latest single, “Casual Masochist,” expands upon these themes of real-time confrontation of grief, mortality, and emotional tumult. This time, songwriter and vocalist Perez channels feelings of utter contempt for organized religion and oppression — no matter what form it takes — into lyrics such as “Back up, you bastard. No gods, just masters. Skin stricken with pulsating blisters.”
“Casual Masochist” is a simple, powerful, death-afflicted dirge teeming with shades of grindcore touchstones (Full of Hell, Primitive Man, Old Man Gloom, and so on), but exists in a singularly miasmatic space. Press play below.
A new full-length album is in the works. Keep an ear out for a noiser, and more atmospheric approach with future offerings.
In the meantime, Clot plays Sabbath Brewing on Sun., June 12, with Iron Gag and Fox Wound. Catch them again on Thurs., June 30, When they play Eyedrum with For Your Health, askysoblack, and Royal Scam.
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Looking back over the 42+ years that have passed since he co-founded one of Los Angeles’ seminal and most formidable punk bands, T.S.O.L., vocalist Jack Grisham doesn’t miss a beat when insisting that he is not a good singer.
“I do it, but it’s very uncomfortable,” Grisham says in a matter-of-fact tone. “I sound like me, and I am what I am. But when I got into punk rock, I never actually thought about singing. You just kind of screamed it. Next thing I know, I’m still doing it, still making records. … I like a lot of soul and pop music, and I like melodic punk,” he adds. “When I’m listening to punk it’s Generation X or the Jam, things that a lot of people don’t even consider punk. … Those guys could sing!”
Despite his detached self-criticism, Grisham is an iconic vocalist of Southern California’s late ‘70s and early ‘80s punk, death rock, and hardcore scenes. T.S.O.L. forged its fiery and confrontational sound and image amid the epicenter of LA’s early ’80s punk scene, alongside Black Flag, Fear, Cheifs, and the Circle Jerks. Blasts of Marxist and anarchist political leanings punctuate the full-on contempt in Grisham’s unrestrained voice, and the blistering tones and melodies summoned by guitar player Ron Emory.
In the beginning, Grisham’s short-lived band Vicious Circle developed a reputation for stirring up an atmosphere primed for violent altercations with brutal, shotgun-style blasts of jagged punk songs bearing titles such as “I Want to Die,” “Love Of Hate,” and “Complete Kaos.”
But with the arrival of T.S.O.L.’s self-titled EP for Posh Boy in 1981, followed that same year by their debut album, Dance With Me (Frontier), lyrical poetry and haunted tones blended with a punk charge, giving rise to a proto-goth etherealism.
This year, a new documentary film, titled Ignore Heroeswill chronicle the group’s early days, its triumphs, stumbles, and resurrection. Grisham, who directed the film, says it’s not your typical rock doc, and feels more like “a fucked up Ted Talk,” featuring stand-up, live interviews with people who were either with the band, who paid the band, or who tried to kill the band. … And some animation.
“No famous rock guys, no one saying we influenced them,” Grisham says.
In the meantime, T.S.O.L. (True Sounds of Liberty) is in the van, traveling across the country, powering through a career-spanning setlist touching on everything from 1982’s “Weathered Statues” 7-inch, to songs from their latest album, 2017’s The Trigger Complex.
“Before the pandemic cut our legs out from underneath us, we were playing 90 shows a year — a lot of shows,” Grisham says. “Now, we’re like those guys who play pro ball for 20 years, they make every game, and never have a problem till they slow down. Now, it’s like every injury, every fall we’ve ever taken is catching up,” he laughs.
Grisham, now 60 years old, says it was drummer and vocalist Grant Hart of Minneapolis’ avant-garde punk trio Hüsker Dü who inspired him to delve deeper into writing lyrics.
“I still have the rhyming book that Grant gave me,” Grisham says. “I’m not that much of an aware kind of guy, I just go around doing whatever, without paying attention to much of anything. Grant was the one who asked me, ‘Have you ever looked at this book?’ It’s just a little thesaurus-type of thing that’s filled with rhyming words — probably something that he got in high school.”
Couching Hart’s knack for crafting gut-wrenching melodies around simple, powerful punk charges reveals previously hidden layers of depth within T.S.O.L.’s litany of classic numbers.
T.S.O.L. emerged at the dawn of the 1980s, in Huntington Beach. Grisham, along with guitarist Ron Emory, bass player Mike Roche, and drummer and former Vicious Circle cohort Todd Barnes bridged SoCal punk with the emerging hardcore scene by way of dark imagery, and a full-throttle guitar assault in songs such as “Superficial Love,” “Abolish Government,” “Sounds Of Laughter,” “Wash Away,” and “Code Blue.”
The latter number, which appears on 1981’s Dance with Me, is a necrophiliac love song blasting lyrics that feel tailor-made for scaring concerned parents in the Reagan era into sending their disaffected teens straight to the nearest psychiatrist — “And I don’t even care how she died. But I like it better if she smells of formaldehyde!”
“We always did whatever we wanted to do,” Grisham says. “There were times when I haven’t seen Ron or Mike in over a year, and I won’t see them until I walk onto the stage at the show and say ‘what do you want to play?’ … We’ll do that,” Grisham says. “T.S.O.L. was in Penelope Spheeris’ film Suburbia, and we played two songs — “Wash Away” and Darker My Love.” “‘Darker My Love’ wasn’t even recorded yet,” Grisham adds. “I said we wrote this one last week, let’s do it!”
While lyrics in other songs such as “President Reagan can shove it!” from “Superficial Love” place T.S.O.L’s mystique firmly in the 1980s, having songs such as “Sounds Of Laughter,” featured in the recent HBO documentary, Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall Off, helps bolster ongoing interest in the group with younger listeners.
“There’s always something like the Tony Hawk documentary happening for us, and there is a huge age gap with the people who come see us,” Grisham says. “We see little kids in the audience all the way up to somebody’s grandfather hanging out, and it’s because we’ve been playing for such a long time. If you were 30 years old when T.S.O.L. started in 1980, you’re 72 now,” he laughs. “If you were 40 years old back then, you are 82 now!”
On stage, it’s the physicality of performing their songs that propels each one forward. “Fuck You Tough Guy” from 2003’ Divided We Stand, is one song that Grisham says is among their most exhilarating numbers to perform.
“To move to those sounds … I play that song like I’m a fan and not a creator,” he says. “The bass starts moving, and I feel like I’m a kid listening to this band play, and I’m just dancing along to the music.”
Since 1999, original T.S.O.L.’s members Grisham, Emory, and Roche have remained in place, restoring order after a long stint beginning in 1983, during which Grisham left the band, and vocalist Joe Wood took lead the group. Eventually, the Wood-led T.S.O.L. saw a total turnover leaving none of the band’s original personnel in the group, as they adopted a prosaic blues-rock and hair metal plod. Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler famously sported a T.S.O.L. T-shirt in the 1988 video for “Sweet Child O Mine,” raising their profile with MTV viewers.
After leaving T.S.O.L., Grisham released a synth-driven six-song EP under the name Cathedral of Tears, and later fronted the sophomoric hard rock band Tender Fury. Later, he rebounded with the more pop punk-oriented sound of his band the Joykiller, and he explored blue-eyed soul and alt. rock with the short-lived group the Manic Low.
In his 2011 memoir, titled An American Demon, Grisham offers a brutal, true-life account of the depravity and extreme violence that surrounded the group’s defining years — much of it at his own hands. “When the book was finished, I really didn’t want to publish it, because it is so brutal,” Grisham says. “It is an absolutely true book, and I’m glad it’s out there.”
Keyboard player Greg Kuehn joined T.S.O.L. and added opulent piano flourishes to the songs on 1982’s Beneath the Shadows LP.
Drummer Todd Barnes died in 1999 after suffering a brain aneurysm related to excessive drug abuse.
All of the original members of T.S.O.L. have battled substance-abuse issues over the years, but post reformation, they have all cleaned up and remain sober.
The group’s current drummer Antonio Val Hernandez joined T.S.O.L. in 2017. As the story goes, he was a mail delivery carrier in bass player Mike Roche’s neighborhood. He was a fan of T.S.O.L., and one day looked in the window and saw a T.S.O.L. photograph. He realized that he was delivering mail to the same Mike Roche. Soon, they became friends, and after some convincing, he became T.S.O.L.’s new drummer.
With post-production work on Ignore Heroes wrapping up soon, and T.S.O.L. playing shows across the country, Grisham is also staying busy with a new book.
Maturity may be a bad word when mentioned in the same breath as punk rock, but for Grisham, if anything has changed over the years, he says he’s more aware of how his words and actions are perceived, and how they affect others.
“It’s kind of trippy, man, but I’m just more aware these days — I’m less willing to be hurtful to people, inflict damage.”
Still, T.S.O.L’s extremely catchy punk melodies still rage today with just as much urgency as the day they were penned.
Composer, percussionist, and longtime Atlanta sound sculptor Klimchak is bringing everything, including the kitchen sink, to the McDonough Tunnel on the Southside BeltLine on Sunday, May 15.
The performance, titled LeBeato Lounge: Water Wonderland, is part of the Art on the Atlanta BeltLine series, and will feature three water and percussion-based works performed live: “Waterphonics” and “Bowled Over,” both accompanied by GSU associate professor of percussion and founder of the new music ensemble Bent FrequencyStuart Gerber. A third piece, titled “When You Whistle, It’s Not Work,” will also be performed solely by Klimchak.
It will be an evening of deep listening and engaging rhythms, as both Klimchak and Gerber explore the vast and mysterious sonic qualities of the former train tunnel by way of various homemade percussion instruments, bows, electronic manipulations, bowls filled with various levels of water, and a working sink on a cart for a wet and wild journey into sound.
… And if you are a truly old school Atlanta music head, you’ll remember the tunnel from the freak-folk and noise shows that Matthew Proctor (Hubcap City, Pony Bones) organized there in the early aughts — when the BeltLine was a looming reality, the tunnel had train tracks running through it, and it was a fairly secluded location.
Victory Hands play the “Braden” 7-inch release party at Sabbath Brewing in EAV on Sunday, May 15. MTN ISL, Skin Jobs, and Scratch Offs also perform.
This show will mark Scratch Offs’ debut performance, so get there early.
… And if you don’t already know, Victory Hands releases are all named after journalists who were blacklisted by former President Richard M. Nixon leading up to his impeachment. Hence the titles of their previously released singles, “Bishop,”“Bernstein,” and “Anderson.”
What might the last few decades of Atlanta’s underground music scene look like if beer sales weren’t a factor in determining who gets booked to play a show? If the cover charge at the door was simply a donation of whatever you wanted to give? And, most importantly, performers showed up specifically to play something new that they’ve been kicking around, all for an audience that’s hungry for adventurous music — the wilder and the more challenging the better?
Tight Bros. Network promoter Randy Castello christened the Kirkwood Ballers Club at Lenny’s Bar on Memorial Drive (now the site of the live-work-play condo building dubbed The Leonard) in March of 2004. But the idea was initially hatched in the late ‘90s, while hosting late-night parties in the basement at KBC co-founder Unisa Asokan’s house on Martha Ave. in Kirkwood.
“We had a sign in the door that said “Kirkwood Ballers,” Castello says. “Playing music was always the center of attention and the reason for getting together there.”
Castello even recalls one late-night gathering during Kirkwood Ballers Club’s early years in which composer and indie rock/avant-garde luminary David Grubbs (Squirrel Bait, Bastro, and Gastr del Sol) came back to stay at their house after performing at Eyedrum with cellist Nikos Veliotis earlier that evening.
“It was late at night, he was on the road, and we started playing right beneath his room, it had to be so loud,” Castello says. “It got to a point where he came downstairs — he was so cool about it — and said, ‘guys, can we just keep it down.’”
From the beginning, Kirkwood Ballers Club’s mission has always been to, “provide an open forum for experimental musicians and performance artists who’ve found it difficult to get shows elsewhere around town,” Castello says. “I also wanted to create an idea incubator that would allow others to perform and experiment with each other musically, and to create and nurture new creative ensembles.”
In its various incarnations, Kirkwood Ballers Club has created an environment where generations of avant-garde musical energy and talent has flourished throughout periods of existence and inactivity.
During its early years at Lenny’s, a parade of local punk, hip-hop, jazz, and indie rock musicians would sign up to perform including everyone from garage punks and avant-garde musicians Cole Alexander of the Black Lips and Bradford Cox of Deerhunter to Grammy-winning saxophone player Kebbi Williams of Tedeschi Trucks Band. All utilized the format to create music in-the-moment that expanded upon their typical repertoires.
“The Kirkwood Ballers Club was always a place of pure freedom,” says Kebbi Williams, who often showed up with large ensembles of musicians who lit up the room with an explosive freeform skroking jazz set.
Years later, Williams facilitates a similarly-minded Sunday evening jazz jam at Gallery 992 in West End, building upon the energy he tapped into while performing during KBC nights.
“I learned from Kirkwood Ballers Club at Lenny’s and from the scene at Eyedrum how to be free,” Williams goes on to say. “I saw some of the most original and provocative things at the Kirkwood Ballers Club, and it totally affected my life as an artist.”
Kirkwood Ballers Club has also drawn the attention of nationally touring acts who happened to be in town for the night. King Khan’s first Atlanta show was a KBC night.
“I remember introducing myself to Arish [King Khan] and he sprayed me in the face with Silly String,” Castello says. “It caught me off guard, and I didn’t know what to say, but it turned out to be a great night!”
Over the years, KBC changed locations, setting up at other now defunct venues along the way, including 11:11 Teahouse, The Highland Ballroom, and The Big House. It even settled in for a late-night incarnation at The Star Bar in Little Five Points for a stint.
Oftentimes other promoters including Matt McCalvin, Waylon Pouncy, and Matt Greenia stepped in to keep it going.
Brad Hoss of Hoss Records and Ryan Rasheed of LebLaze and Prefuse 73 launched a New York version of KBC at Brooklyn venue Zebulon Concert Cafe in 2011.In Atlanta, mashup artist Greg Gillis, aka Girl Talk, songwriter Jana Hunter, and even John Dwyer of psych-punk outfit Osees have also made KBC appearances.
In 2021, the rebirth of Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery at its current location brought with it a wholly new iteration of the Kirkwood Ballers Club. Sun Christopher hosts the monthly event as Castello settles into his evolving role as Eyedrum’s Facility Manager.
In the modern era, KBC’s spirit has been embraced by a wholly new generation of musicians, signing up for a 15-minute time slot, all under the evening’s long standing tagline: “Bring an instrument, record, beat, turntable, laptop, prepared piece, song, film score, voice, bag of blood, agenda, youth rebellion …”
Castello adds that, in the past, he never used the term “open mic” in relation to KBC. “I was worried that it would bring out a lot of singer-songwriters playing cover songs, which has happened from time to time.”
In Eyedrum’s new home at 515 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd., a wholly new set of faces has picked up the mantle, ranging from artists reading poetry, gorgeous minimalist piano compositions, blazing industrial beats, and free-form art-rock ensembles have filled out the roster.
Of the more recent staples of KBC’s monthly rounds Mikey and Hoff of the band Upchuck perform regularly with various new outfits. Another next generation fixture is noise artist Nathan Emerson, who performs sometimes solo, sometimes with an ensemble, under the name It’s About time.
It’s About Time’s sets have taken shape as screaming, squelching displays of noise, clanging metal percussion, and feedback, punctuated by blasts of fireworks, and Emerson writhing on the floor in a half-naked state. It’s a blend of real-time catharsis cut from abstract emotions — all set to the tune of old school industrial clatter and confrontation. It is the bleeding edge of the creative spirit that KBC has always nurtured, with precisely the type of DIY pyrotechnics that wouldn’t fly in most small club settings.
“When I first pulled up to Kirkwood Ballers Club I didn’t really know how my act would come across,” Emerson says. “I actually kinda intended to rile people up and maybe stir up the audience a little bit. Which of course did happen, but I think most folks kinda dug what I was doing. It’s so surprising to have a space where someone like myself can perform an explosive act, flogging myself and screaming bloody murder, and not even receive the slightest of heckles. There is simply not a more open and accepting space in Atlanta, in my opinion,” he adds. “Literally all sorts of people can perform whatever their hearts desire there. I’m eternally grateful to have gotten my career started there and continue to perform there whenever I can.”
For Castello, it’s this engagement with the community, and the love of music that keeps Kirkwood Ballers Club coming back.
“Getting something started, getting people to come and maybe they’ll want to start a band or a new project, or just to play music,” Castello says. “That’s what we do here, and that’s what we do it for.”
Brooklyn-based electronic and experimental artist Robert Pepper of Pas Musique returns this Sunday, May 8, for a set of drones, beats, and ambient majesty at Eyedrum. Since 1995, Pepper has led Pas Musique through various incarnations, all the while collaborating with the likes of Rapoon, Z’ev, Faust, Jim Tuite, and more. For this show, Pepper is performing a solo set.
This show also marks the debut performance of the Taylor / Burland guitar duo, featuring ambient-drone artist, noise music fixture, and producer Ryan Taylor, whose credits include working with Rat Mass, Blackfox, AkuYou, Sensitive Chaos, and Eldorado Omega. Scott Burland is the former theremin half of Duet For Theremin and Lap Steel. Together, they’ll explore the spacious, subtle ambiance of resonating steel strings.
.document features Elliott Brabant of Michael Cera Palin. Meaning of Everything is the guitar-based project of Mykel Alder June (formerly of Mice in Cars).
The third time’s a charm! Over the last two years, Ministry’s “Industrial Strength Tour” had been rescheduled twice due to COVID spikes. The show was billed as the 30th anniversary tour for 1989’s The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste, a landmark album that set the music world ablaze with its fusion of thrash guitars and industrial-grade synth and percussion.
Legions of imitators followed, but few lived up to the high standards set by Al Jourgensen and an evolving cast of collaborators who sprung mostly out of Chicago’s Wax Trax Records scene.
If you were hanging around record stores circa ‘88-’92, you know that Jourgensen’s influence was ubiquitous — Ministry was a dark horse rising alongside Sonic Youth, Fugazi, Nirvana, Pavement, et al. But despite many fans’ vocal disdain, each new record plunged the group’s contrapuntal rhythms and new wave leanings deeper into the dark side of metal.
Uncle Al had an angst-ridden, politically astute, and heavy as hell vision, and he’s stuck to it all the way through 2021’s Moral Hygiene. But on March 22 at the Tabernacle, Ministry opened a window into that circa ‘88 era, capturing the height of Jourgensen’s creative output when he was functioning at peak performance.
Corrosion Of Conformity opened the show while the sun was setting over Downtown Atlanta. Along the walk from the MARTA stop at State Farm Arena where Justin Bieber was performing, there was a shift in atmosphere. The banter of passersby, mostly teenaged girls dressed in bright hues of pink and yellow, faded into more world-weary and black-clad men and women migrating toward the thunderous roar of C.O.C.’s “Bottom Feeder (El que come abajo)” and “Paranoid Opioid” echoing off of nearby buildings and across Centennial Olympic Park.
Inside, the group tore through a set of middle-period C.O.C. crowd-pleasers, including “Vote With A Bullet,” “Wiseblood,” and “Clean My Wounds.” On stage, the group embodies the kind of wise intensity and earnest demeanor that only a band weaned in the original era of Southern punk and hardcore knows.
Melvins were massive on stage. No banter. No nonsense, aside from bass player Steven McDonald’s rock god maneuvers. He tests the limits of what’s acceptable, but why fight it? His on-stage swerving and reaching for the heavens adds excitement to the Melvins slow roar, and he backs it all up with a monster sound that’s tailor-made to boost singer and guitar player Buzz Osborne and drummer Dale Crover’s surly dirges.
The Melvins are masters of evoking an ecstatic-molasses state — they create an ambiance that summons feelings that fall somewhere between confrontation and meditation. Their set was bookend by “The Kicking Machine” from Nude With Boots and “The Bit” Stag. In between, they drew out their trademark crawling, teeth-gnashing atmosphere with “Civilized Worm” from (A) Senile Animal along with “Hooch” and “Honey Bucket” from Houdini. They even tucked a cover of Redd Kross’ “Charlie” from the Born Innocent LP in there as well.
In terms of sheer power, Melvins delivered a demonic show that was a solid counterpart to Ministry’s on-stage spectacle.
Jourgensen took the stage with his bandmates — guitar players Cesar Soto and Monte Pittman, bass player Paul D’Amour, drummer Roy Mayorga, and keyboard player John Bechdel — to a glowing backdrop of “Ministry Stands With Ukraine.”
The show began with a parade of hits. “Breathe,” “The Missing,” “Deity,” and “Stigmata” — a set list pulled pretty much straight out of In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up, the live VHS tape that so many of us wore out in high school. They even brought the chain link fence back to the stage.
From there, it was the dream-come-true setlist that so many of Ministry’s fans have always demanded. First came “Supernaut,” the Black Sabbath cover that Jourgensen delivered circa 1990 under the name 1,000 Homo DJs. Then came not one, but two Pailhead songs — “Don’t Stand In Line” and “Man Should Surrender” — from Trait, an EP on which he collaborated with Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat and Fugazi.
Jourgensen has surrounded himself with a coterie of top-notch players. Guitarist Monte Pittman has played in Madonna’s band for ages, and even taught her how to play guitar. The rest of the group’s collective resume covers everything from Killing Joke to Prong. They delivered seamless renditions “N.W.O.,” “Just One Fix,” “So What,” and “Thieves,” and, if anything, funked them up at an only slightly perceptible level.
Ministry’s long career is marked by extreme highs, and devastating missteps. Tales of Jourgensen’s drug-fueled debauchery and near-death experiences have not been exaggerated (just read his autobiography). Along the way, he’s released a few truly unlistenable records. Rare is the artist who can bounce back from that. Jourgensen has defied expectations in the years leading up to Moral Hygiene.
He closed the set with three numbers from the new record — “Alert Level” followed by a cover of Iggy Pop’s “Search and Destroy,” and “Good Trouble,” an ode to civil rights activist Rep. John Lewis. In the middle of the song he led the audience through a chant of “we want our country back,” which seemed to mirror a sense of getting Ministry back on track.
Revisionism aside, stepping back into the worlds created by Ministry’s The Land of Rape and Honey, The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste, the songs of Pailhead, and so on, even if just for one night, was a refreshing and empowering reminder of just how truly brilliant Jourgensen can be. — Chad Radford