Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Just discovered this hilarious raw footage of Faith No More leaving the Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie and strolling through the city of Poughkeepsie in search of something to eat. I wonder if they stopped by the sorely-missed Record City in the downtown area and saw that bootleg record I picked up from there about a year after this was filmed. Damn, why didn't I go to this show??

Monday, December 22, 2008


The IRT kicks off its year-end listing festivities with our five favorite soundtracks of this most crucial election year. 2008 may have been void of anything as outwardly amazing as '07, which saw such beautiful chemistry of sonics and celluloid as the masterful Dylan hawking of the I'm Not There soundtrack and that amazing imaginary Jungle Julia playlist that comprised the OST for Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. But that is not to say there wasn't some tasty collections that helped keep the dying art of the motion picture soundtrack still relevant for at least one more year before the world-eating Golobulous that is iTunes kills that off right after its done feasting on the tattered bones of our nation's independent record store circuit. Here is the cream of this year's crop, at least in our humble opine.

1. THE WACKNESS Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Jive)

Next to The Dark Knight and Ironman, this classic coming-of-age tale about a teenage drug dealer, the psychologist he trades weed for couch time with and his daughter who said dealer falls in love with was one of the finest cinematic moments of the Summer of '08. And what made it even better was that it was set against the backdrop of New York City during the summer of 1994, which, as many of us thirtysomethings know, was the penultimate year for hip-hop, as this amazing flashback of a soundtrack testifies. Hearing these songs all together again, from Biggie and Method Man's "The What" to Craig Mack's "Flava In Ya Ear" to Nas' "The World Is Yours" to Raekwon's "Heaven and Hell" to even R. Kelly's "Bump N' Grind", brought me back to the days when me and my crew were drinking 40s and smoking El's in the undeveloped cul-de-sacs of our little hometown. Good times, good times. However, as good as the official Wackness soundtrack may be, it hardly holds a candle to the absolutely bananas promotional mixtape handed out at special screenings of the film and was made available as a free download, which, of course, you can cop right here:

Copy and paste link to download SIDE 1 of The Wackness Movie Mix:

Copy and paste link to dowload SIDE 2 of The Wackness Movie Mix:

1. The Notorious B.I.G. “Party And Bullshit”
2. Boogie Down Productions “Duck Down”
3. Brand Nubian “Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down”
4. GZA & Method Man “Shadowboxin’”
5. Gangstarr “Take It Personal”
6. Diamond D “Fuck What U Heard”
7. Intro “Love Thang”
8. Mobb Deep “Give Up The Goods”
9. Redman “Can’t Wait”
10. Faith Evans “You Used Love Me (Remix)
11. UMCs “One To Grow On”
12. Eric B. & Rakim “Know The Ledge”
13. Ultramagnetic MCs “Raise It Up”
14. Keith Murray “The Most Beautifulest Thing In This World”
15. Mary J. Blige & Smif-N-Wessun “I Love You (Remix)”
16. Group Home “Suspended In Time (Remix)”

1. Onyx “Throw Your Gunz In The Air”
2. Black Moon “I Gotcha Open (Remix)”
3. Ol Dirty Bastard “Brooklyn Zoo (Remix)”
4. EPMD “Headbanger”
5. Das EFX “They Want EFX (Remix”
6. Nas “Represent”
7. Total & Keith Murray “Can’t You See (Remix)”
8. Main Source “Fakin’ The Funk”
9. Fu Schnickens “La Schmoove”
10. Nice & Smooth “Old To The New”
11. Wu-Tang Clan “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nothin’ To F’ Wit”
12. Chef Raekwon “Glaciers Of Ice”
13. A Tribe Called Quest “Electric Relaxation”
14. Method Man “Bring The Pain (Remix)”
15. Pete Rock & CL Smooth “Good Life”
16. Jeru The Damaja “D. Original”
17. Lords Of The Underground “Chief Rocka (Remix)”
18. Jodecei & Raekwon and Ghostface Killah “Freekin’ U (Remix)”
19. Run DMC, Pete Rock & CL Smooth “Down With The King”

And best of all, this soundtrack, for many of us who have grown up in or around New York City, is a fond reminder of the days that used to be, back when gentrification was just another hard-ass vocabulary word we had to memorize for English class.

2. HALLAM FOE Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Domino)
Officially released in the US this year under the title Mister Foe, this charming Scottish indie about the young title character (Jamie Bell from the excellent Billy Elliott) and how he copes with the sudden death of his beloved mother is set to the sounds of the Domino Records catalog. Usually when a record label pads a soundtrack with their label roster, it usually puts your fast forward button on some major overtime. However, this is Domino we're talking about here, a label brimming with so many brilliant artists, including Juana Molina, Scotland's own new wave heroes Orange Juice, Psapp, Sons and Daughters, the vastly underrated Woodbine, James Yorkston and Hood among them, all of whom are present and accounted for on this set. Hell, even Franz Ferdinand, regardless of where you stand with them, turn out a decent low-key gem of a tune written exclusively for this soundtrack. Domino is one of the finest labels in modern music, and this Hallam Foe soundtrack gives you sixteen reasons why you need to take that as pure truth.

3. JON BRION Synecdoche, NY Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Lakeshore)
Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut about a haggard theater director from Schenectady, New York (get it?), who aspires to re-imagine his life from inside of a warehouse in Manhattan might not have wowed the critics as his screenwriting work on such films as Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind had (though Roger Ebert was totally 'bout it 'bout it in his review in the Chicago Sun-Times). But whether or not you can follow this thoughtful, challenging film, anyone who is a fan of Jon Brion's film scores can appreciate the truth that these lovely, Philip Glass-like compositions he has produced for Synecdoche belong right up there with the music of I Heart Huckabees and his mix of the last Fiona Apple record that rank up there as some of his best work to date.

4. SHAWN LEE Under The Sun: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Ubiquity)
The ever-prolific Lee, standard bearer in classic Ubiquity funk, helms this massive, two-disc soundtrack to Cyrus Sutton's outstanding documentary on Aussie surfers, recruiting such under-the-radar Australian groups Band Of Frequencies, Low Pressure Sound System and Afro Dizzi Act. Together, this disparate cross-section of talents combine a heady, stony brew of surf, psychedelia, Afro-beat and soul music as tidal as the ocean waves it pays homage to.

5. CADILLAC RECORDS Original Motion Picture Soundtrack(Columbia)

The inclusion of such contemporary filler as Solange, Mary Mary and Nas was a little unnecessary on the single disc version of this fascinating biopic chroncling the evolution of influential blues imprint Chess Records (though the Raphael Saadiq track fits right in with the times), especially when they had such great material from the film's stars--Beyonce, Mos Def and Jeffery Wright, who so brilliantly portrayed Etta James, Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters respectively--to spare. Nevertheless, the chance to hear young "B" absolutely kill Etta's wedding song standard "At Last", Mos Def tear through Berry's "Nadine" and the surprisingly fine-voiced Wright take Muddy's "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man" to task is worth cherry picking this soundtrack on iTunes. Why they didn't get the gruff-voiced Mississippi MC David Banner to play Howlin' Wolf, on the other hand, is beyond me. He would have killed "I'm Sittin' On Top Of The World", right?

Thursday, December 18, 2008


IRT's favorite 21st century West Coast psych band Wooden Shjips has released their sold-out holiday single as a free download on their website,
All money from sales of the cassingle went to the SF Food Bank.

States the band on their website: "If you enjoy these songs and have the means, please consider making a donation to your local food bank."

Now that, friends, is true Christmas spirit.

To download their versions of "O Tannenbaum" and "Auld Lang Syne", cut and paste this link to a new browser:

Merry Christmas movie house!

Wooden Shjips
"Dance, California" (Holy Mountain)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


As someone who is a huge fan of both Darren Aronofsky and the pre-millennium days of professional wrestling, I am very much looking forward to the release of The Wrestler. I never lost faith in Mickey Rourke. It's funny how all these critics who have talked shit about both wrestling and Mickey are now eating heaping piles of crow., and to the tune of Bruce Springsteen in classic Tom Joad mode. Chow down, mofos!


Just had to share this with you fine folks. Just when you think Andy Samberg is the wackest thing on SNL, he breaks out a nugget like this. Pure gold! Definitely my vote for SNL skit of the year. Sorry, Tina.

Monday, December 15, 2008





Album extras found across the four editions of Ten include:

Remaster of original Ten album + remix by producer Brendan O’Brien
DVD of previously unreleased 1992 Pearl Jam MTV Unplugged performance with 5.1 surround sound audio remix
LP of the band’s 1992 “Drop in the Park” concert
Replica of Pearl Jam three-song demo cassette with Eddie Vedder’s original vocal dubs
Recreation of Eddie Vedder composition notebook
Never before seen memorabilia
Bonus tracks and more.

SEATTLE – Ten, the debut album that sold 12 million copies and introduced the world to Pearl Jam in 1991, will be reissued in four (4) new and expanded editions. Pre-orders of the Super Deluxe Edition begin today, December 10, 2008, through the band’s Ten Club at, with all four editions available at retail on March 24, 2009. The reissue of Ten serves as the launch of a planned two-year catalogue re-release campaign leading up to the band’s 20th anniversary in 2011.

Each Ten package will include two versions of the album: the remastered version of the original album PLUS an accompanying remixed version done by the band’s long-time producer, Brendan O’Brien (Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC, Audioslave). Details on specific extras for each of the four packages are attached.

“The band loved the original mix of Ten, but were also interested in what it would sound like if I were to deconstruct and remix it,” says producer Brendan O’Brien. “The original Ten sound is what millions of people bought, dug and loved, so I was initially hesitant to mess around with that. After years of persistent nudging from the band, I was able to wrap my head around the idea of offering it as a companion piece to the original – giving a fresh take on it, a more direct sound.”


Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament, who served as the art director for the original Ten packaging, reprised his role for the reissues collaborating with designer, Andy Fischer, of Cameron Crowe’s Vinyl Films (Into the Wild soundtrack LP, Vanilla Sky soundtrack LP, Harold and Maude anniversary edition soundtrack LP).

"The goal was to assemble the ultimate fan-piece,” explains Fischer. “Something Pearl Jam lovers could pore over as they experience an indelible record all over again, in an entirely new way."

“The original concept was about really being together as a group and entering into the world of music as a true band...a sort of all-for-one deal,” says Jeff Ament. “There were some elements of the original Ten artwork that didn't turn out the way we had hoped, due to time constraints. With this reissue, we’ve been able to take our time and invest resources into making the design the way we had originally intended.”


In the process of digging through his archives for this project, Ament came across an old cassette marked “Momma-Son” – the fabled original Pearl Jam demo tape featuring the first recorded versions of “Alive,” “Once” and “Footsteps.” Ament and guitarists Stone Gossard and Mike McCready had recorded instrumental tracks of these songs to help solicit a singer for their newly formed band. Mutual friend - and then Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer - Jack Irons suggested they send the tape down to San Diego surfer and little-known singer Eddie Vedder.

Completely inspired by what he heard from these musicians that he then only knew by name, Vedder quickly wrote lyrics, put these vocals to the music tracks and shipped the tape back to Seattle . Upon hearing how Vedder had transformed the songs, Ament, Gossard and McCready asked him to come up to Seattle so they could meet and have an official “tryout” together. Shortly thereafter, Pearl Jam was born. (A replica of the “Momma-Son” cassette will be included in the Super Deluxe Edition of Ten.)

Jeff Ament describes the experience of re-visiting that tape with singer Eddie Vedder:

“I think the first time that Ed or I had opened any of those boxes was a few weeks ago. I knew that the original ‘Momma-Son’ cassette was somewhere, but I hadn’t listened to it in 17, 18, 19 years. It was cool to sit down and play it for the first time with Ed and see his reaction. And to find that 90% of it stayed exactly the same as what ended up on the record. A lot of elements were identical. There was some energy flying around at that point even from 1,300 miles away from Seattle to San Diego .”


Pearl Jam released Ten on August 27, 1991. The album reached #2 on the Billboard 200 chart, sold over 12 million copies and became one of the cultural touchstones of the 1990s. Songs such as “Alive,” “Black,” “Even Flow” and “Jeremy” became staples of rock radio, and still make frequent appearances on the band’s ever-changing concert setlists. The album was produced by Rick Parasher. Pearl Jam’s 1991 lineup was Jeff Ament (bass), Stone Gossard (guitar), Dave Krusen (drums), Mike McCready (guitar) and Eddie Vedder (vocals).



Even Flow


Why Go








Master/Slave (hidden track)


1. Legacy Edition (2-disc set in mini-LP style slipcase):

· Disc 1: original Ten tracklisting digitally remastered (original mix)

· Disc 2: original Ten tracklisting digitally remastered and remixed by Brendan O’Brien, plus six bonus tracks: “Brother,” “Just a Girl,” “State of Love and Trust,” “Breath and a Scream,” “2,000 Mile Blues” and “Evil Little Goat”

· Re-designed packaging

2. Deluxe Edition (2-disc set plus DVD specially designed hardbound package):

· Disc 1: original Ten tracklisting digitally remastered (original mix)

· Disc 2: original Ten tracklisting digitally remastered and remixed by Brendan O’Brien, plus six bonus tracks: “Brother,” “Just a Girl,” “State of Love and Trust,” “Breath and a Scream,” “2,000 Mile Blues” and “Evil Little Goat”

· DVD of Pearl Jam’s previously unreleased 1992 MTV Unplugged performance including never before seen bonus performance of “Oceans” with 5.1 surround sound audio remix

3. Vinyl Collection (2-LP set)

· LP 1: original Ten tracklisting remastered for vinyl

· LP 2: original Ten tracklisting remastered for vinyl and remixed by Brendan O’Brien

4. Super Deluxe Edition (2-disc set plus DVD, 4 LPs and replica cassette in linen-covered, slip-cased clamshell box):

· Disc 1: original Ten tracklisting digitally remastered (original mix)

· Disc 2: original Ten tracklisting digitally remastered and remixed by Brendan O’Brien, plus six bonus tracks: “Brother,” “Just a Girl,” “State of Love and Trust,” “Breath and a Scream,” “2,000 Mile Blues” and “Evil Little Goat”

· DVD of Pearl Jam’s previously unreleased 1992 MTV Unplugged performance including never before seen bonus performance of “Oceans” with 5.1 surround sound audio remix

· LP 1: original Ten tracklisting remastered for vinyl

· LP 2: original Ten tracklisting remastered for vinyl and remixed by Brendan O’Brien

· LP 3 & 4: Drop in the Park – Live at Magnuson Park in Seattle on September 20, 1992 (audio mixed by Brendan O’Brien)

· Cassette: replica of original “Momma-Son” Pearl Jam demo cassette featuring “Alive,” “Once” and “Footsteps”

· Package also includes an Eddie Vedder-style composition notebook filled with replica personal notes, images and mementos from the collections of Eddie Vedder and Jeff Ament, a vellum envelope with replicated era-specific ephemera from Pearl Jam’s early work and a two-sided print commemorating the Drop in the Park concert.

Young Pearl Jam performing "Alive" in concert:

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Evolution of Katy Mae

Interview by Michele Zipp

Katy Mae, now a four-piece still from Brooklyn, is a band that knows how to evolve. Sure they haven’t gone from being called the Southern Strokes to sounding like an arena rock band like Kings of Leon (though I do like their new sound), but Katy Mae has found a way to make music with twangy guitars and stomp-your-feet sounds without feeling stale or expected. It’s great songwriting from four guys (Phil Doucet, Mark Levy, Hans Gutknecht and Brad Hill) with musical backgrounds and tastes that range from Motorhead to Hank Williams. But most will label them alt-country.

Alt-country has never been comfortable with its name. It’s a genre that I don’t even think Ryan Adams likes to be lumped into. So what do we call it? It’s all still rock and roll to me. I talked with Phil, singer and guitarist of Katy Mae, to find out how they found their winning sound.

Michele Zipp: You added a fourth member. How has that changed the band?
Phil Doucet: I always though having an additional guitarist would expand our sound and open up a range of musicality that three people cannot do live. The fact that Hans can sing as well is a bonus because I have always been a fan of harmonies. Adding this new element has already altered our sound -- initially just in the fullness of the band, but also the way we approach new songs. It’s still something I'm getting used to, but in a good way. We’re all happy with the sound of the band.

MZ: What prompted you to want to record an EP?
PD: The origin of our new EP, You May Already Be A Winner (Maggadee), was mainly to be a demo to listen how we sounded as a four piece. After we did the initial tracks, we realized that it sounded better than we expected, so our label agreed to release it. I think it serves as a bridge between where we've been and where we're going. For me, the title track and "Falls Down" are strong indicators of what is possible with Hans in the band. The fantastic lead work he does on "Winner" and the harmonizing on "Falls Down" wouldn't have been possible before.

MZ: How was the new EP received?
PD: So far the reviews of the new EP have been very good. It’s always a ratio thing -- a few bad reviews, but more good ones. I try to keep reviews in check -- they are opinions, so what does it mean if someone raves about you or if someone kills you? What is worth more? Naturally, you want the reviews to be all good, so I am glad the majority has been very favorable. Those people seem to get what we're doing and that makes me happy to know that some folks want to hear music that's not wrapped up in a haircut.

MZ: Is there a song that you think takes the band in a new direction because of the new addition?
PD: The songs on the new EP were written before Hans joined the band, some are older than last years full length, The Sweetheart Deal, and some were written after. One problem with Katy Mae is that there is never a shortage of songs, and selecting the ones to record is often difficult. So what happens is the ones that we don't record have the option to survive rehearsals and live shows and possibly make the next cut. We are in the process of writing new songs for a full length, which I am very excited about. As usual I'm sure most will be brand new, but there may be some older tunes that we never recorded. We are in the process of demoing and rehearsing now.

MZ: What bands have you opened for in the past year?
PD: After a national tour last year, we continued on to do a showcase at SXSW and for the most part we've been pretty busy playing and practicing. We've had the good fortune of playing some great places and opening for some great bands -- Mother Hips, The Drams, The Bottle Rockets, Jesse Malin, Heartless Bastards, Back Door Slam, and a bunch of others, too.

MZ: You're a dad now. How has that changed your music?
PD: About six weeks after my daughter was born I was thrown into the busiest period of the band; a six week tour, then home, followed by another week on the road, so it is more difficult, but it hasn't slowed me down. As far as writing, the only thing that's changed is the frequency of my "sit down in front of the TV and just play guitar until something sounds good" time. I'm at home with my child during the day so I have sneak in moments of inspiration…before my daughter eats my guitar.

MZ: Stanley, the band you were in before Katy Mae, was kind of similar to At The Drive In and that all ended just before ATDI got big. Do you think Stanley would still be around today if all that didn't happen with Profile records?
PD: That band, Mark (the drummer) and I played in, ran it's course. Things happened with the label that didn't help matters, but I think it all happened for a reason. The first Katy Mae songs were actually recorded before the end of Stanley. There is a problem with the music world, people want to figure you out and keep you inside that box forever. Toward the end of Stanley, we were writing some different types of songs and you could just tell that most people wouldn't give it a chance. I am very proud of what we did with Stanley, and I got to see this country many times over because of the band, but I think what I'm writing now was inevitable. I know that I don't have a protractor and a demographic chart of popular musical styles, so I guess what I write is just inside me...for better or worse.

MZ: Are you going out on tour?
PD: We will be doing some short tours -- Southeast, Midwest, and hopefully down to SXSW again. Touring is a little harder than it used to be -- the climate of music is different. The ascendancy of the iTunes world makes it tougher for working bands trying to build a fan base, a real live one, to get venues to give you a shot. But I think playing live is still the best way to hear a band, so we keep plugging away.

MZ: What bands are you listening to right now?
PD: I always listen to a pretty wide range of music -- Midlake, Centro-matic, Black Mountain, Band of Horses, and Fleet Foxes are some good ones. Some older essentials -- Hank Williams, Buck Owens’ Greatest Hits Vol. 1 and 2, Sweetheart of the Rodeo by the Byrds, anything by the Beatles (remastered catalog coming soon) Rolling Stones (from Beggars Banquet to Exile...essential), remastered Creedence sound amazing, as does the Replacements catalog…I'm gonna stop or I'll never shut up.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


To download the whole hour-long video of one of the oddest personalities of the 1970s, click here:

Child actor Mason Reese does commercials for Dressel's frozen ice cream cake and Tasty Bread, displaying his unique wit and love for food. To watch the entire 60-minute version, cut and paste this onto a new browser:



Tuesday, December 9, 2008


A belated tribute to the late, great Mitch Mitchell in the form of this excellent ROIO recording of the Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Singer Bowl in Flushing Meadow Park in Queens, NY.

Jimi Hendrix - Queens 1968
Jimi Hendrix - Singer Bowl
Flushing Meadow Park Queens, New York August 23rd, 1968
Good Audience Recording
Includes Artwork

Jimi Hendrix - Guitar, Vocals
Noel Redding - Bass, Vocals
Mitch Mitchell - Drums

1. Tune Up
2. Are You Experienced
3. Fire
4. Red House
5. I Don't Live Today
6. Like A Rolling Stone
7. Foxey Lady
8. Purple Haze
9. Hey Joe
10. Wild Thing/Star Spangled Banner



Amy Phillips at might refuse to be my friend on Facebook, but she dropped this interesting little nugget confirming the much-talked-about reunion of the original lineup of Blur on the Pitchfork site:

After much dilly-dallying, Blur have FINALLY confirmed that they are indeed reuniting, for real this time, on their website at Damon Albarn, Alex James, Dave Rowntree, and, yes, Graham Coxon will take the stage for a concert at London's Hyde Park on July 3, 2009. This will be their first full-lineup performance since 2000.

In a video interview on their site (email/mobile info necessary), the band says the reunion rehearsals have been like "putting the A-Team back together" and "like riding a bike."

No other future plans have been announced yet, but we wouldn't be surprised if a Coachella set was in the cards...

Coffee and TV:

Friday, December 5, 2008


Reflections of timeless struggle, self-fulfilling prophecy, and age-old triumph, with flashes of modern affectation. A fluid and evolving seven-act performance; an epic tale of angst, hunger, tragedy, failure, and ultimately, hope. The dramatic opening of this musical / avant-theatre piece begins with the young voice of our seven year old narrator. She describes in 2 short lines what we are about to witness: seven perspectives of one king’s war with himself. Moon & Moon provides the framework of a journey through an eternal human battle, borrowing from religious heritage and a colorful quilt of belief that draws upon the root myth of our collective humanity. Our story re-creates an archetypal battle that is not only historical fiction, but our own contemporary fact which exemplifies our self-destructive nature. Through the journey of witnessing a different character’s perspective in each act, our king comes to the realisation that he is not only the walls which he has built, but the walls that have been destroyed by his own hand and command.

Contributions by members of An Albatross, Lewis & Clarke, Barkus Born and Stephonik Youth with guest appearances by Devendra Banhart, Gibby Haynes, and Bat For Lashes.

In regards to the new album, William Lemon presented 7 original blockprints along with the 7 corresponding audio tracks for each Act of Seven Acts of the Iron King. This special installation was part of the And Who Are You? Saatchi group show in NYC, and invited the viewer/listener to preview a track of the album while taking in the imagery of the corresponding print.

Inserted into each album is one of Lemon’s original block prints on scented card stock. We hand-brushed the oil from the Indian Jasmine flower to create an olfactory association with the album, live show, and the nature of the scent. Jasmine traditionally helps reduce anxiety and apathy, and is uplifting and stimulating in times of hopelessness and nervous exhaustion.


12/14 Brooklyn, NY Glasslands

Moon & Moon
VII Acts of an Iron King
(La Société Expéditionnaire)
Street Date: Nov. 11, 2008

Act I: Into The Dust
Act II:Hands Of A Man
Act III: We Are The Lights
Act IV: Come Down Like A Man
Act V: There Can Be Only One
Act VI: This Is Our Celebration
Act VII: Together Alone, We Jump We Rise

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I hate to say it, as I am not her greatest fan, but this Neko Case cover is serious.

I only hope the music is as good as the imagery.

BTW, I wonder if that's Garth Hudson's old jalopy she's riding...

Also, wasn't she supposed to pose for Playboy? What happened with that?

Middle Cyclone comes out March 9, 2009.

God she is hot!



Here's a review of the amazing One Day As A Lion EP, the new duo featuring Zack de la Rocha and former Mars Volta drummer Jon Theodore, that was turned into but never ran. Enjoy!

One Day As A Lion EP (Anti-Epitaph)

A few years back, a friend of mine played guitar in a Rage Against The Machine tribute band called People of the Sun.

They were based out of the Hudson Valley area of New York, but played all over the Northeast, building up a strong following on the tribute circuit, packing bars everywhere they went. And while they were a success, the whole experience, according to my friend, turned him off to Rage Against The Machine. The reason being were the crowds, which were not, in fact, the legions of revolution-minded nonconformists and punk rockers who made up a grand portion of Rage’s fanbase, but in fact the unintended demographic of their listeners: white, upper middle-class fraternity guys who you’d expect to see at a Hootie and the Blowfish concert rather than anything that had to do with Rage Against The Machine. According to my friend, seeing a bunch of white baseball caps floating above the audience and screaming “Fuck you! I won’t do what you tell me!” in unison freaked him out some, wondering if they even got the point of the songs. In retrospect, the experience of listening to their music was never the same again for him.

The same goes for me as well. The amount of young Republicans and rich, white frat boys who cite Rage as one of their favorite bands is astonishing, especially considering the group stands for everything they are not (well, with the exception of guitarist Tom Morello’s tendency to drive around in a gas-guzzling SUV, from what the gossip mongers say). So much, in fact, that when were slated to play outside the Republican National Convention recently (which never happened after police prohibited them from performing after the band failed to obtain a permit, resulting in frontman Zack De La Rocha singing two Rage songs from a bullhorn into the crowd outside the State Capitol in St. Paul, MN on Tuesday Sept. 2), some were led to believe they were actually going to play on the same stage that graced the spiteful rhetoric of Sarah Palin and Rudy Guliani, who seemed to have delivered their speeches with the same tone of aggression that Rage reserved for their most visceral compositions.

I can almost guarantee you that for Zack de la Rocha, the only instance that frat boys and the Republicans had appeared in his mind when he was penning the lyrics to their three albums’ worth of songs was the ways by which he can deliver the messages that will help bring their imperialistic ways down. Yet instead of being the anti-establishment anthem Zack intended back in 1991, “Killing In The Name” can be heard at Yankee Stadium alongside “Y.M.C.A.” and “Cotton-Eyed Joe” blasted over the PA speakers in order to get the fans dancing between innings. The first Rage Against The Machine album has most likely provided the soundtrack to countless date rapes in college dormitories and frat houses all over the country throughout the last two decades. Not to mention the score to countless numbers of hateful, violent attacks on those deemed inferior to the aggressor from dimwitted troglodytes who failed to recognize the band’s mosh pit manifestos as attacks against them, not their victims. And, of course, seeing their music help give birth to such alpha-dog posers like Limp Bizkit and Crazytown, who used Rage’s rap-rock hybrid as a springboard for their sorry excuses for the once-mighty fusion of sounds, was surely played into account as well.

Certainly these observances and rhetorical back-firings of band’s initial intentions to be a sort of MC5 or Clash for a new generation ran through De La Rocha’s mind over the last ten years, prompting him to split from Rage initially and impose himself in the exile of a variety of recording studios, where he would work with everyone from El-P to DJ Shadow to Roni Size to DJ Premier on a solo album that still has yet to see the light of day, not to mention a near double-LP’s worth of material he recorded with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails that also remains on the shelf as well. All while seeing his former bandmates hook up with former Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell to form Audioslave and release three albums of mediocre radio rock that made no bones about catering to the more pragmatic, horizontal dimension of Rage’s initial fanbase.

So when word got out that Rage Against The Machine reunited in 2007 to play a bunch of festivals, including Coachella and the New Orleans Voodoo Music Experience, and then tour that summer as part of the Rock The Bells Festival alongside the likes of the Wu-Tang Clan and Cypress Hill, fans were indeed in shock and awe to see the band bounce back from a near-decade long hiatus in such powerful form and continue to tour throughout 2008, playing Lollapalooza this summer in Chicago’s Grant Park and, of course, controversial stops outside both the 2008 Republican and Democratic National Conventions just recently. Regardless of how you feel about their population of fraternity-minded fans or the band members’ post-RATM activity (especially Morello’s dreadfully droll solo project, The Nightwatchman), there is no denying that hearing the raw power of a Rage Against The Machine show in these crucial times of political turmoil is most certainly welcoming to the ears of anyone who truly believes in their sonic manifesto. And the beauty of it all is, now that the hype has cleared away and the rap-metal genre has weeded out the meek of its lot, Rage stand along and appears stronger in its convictions than ever beforer. And regardless of if their classic tracks are played at keggers or sports arenas, they still don’t give a fuck, as they will convey their message by any means necessary no matter if you are educating yourself on their words or just dragging your knuckles along to their primal polyrhythms.

But perhaps even more so than seeing RATM grace the stage once again, it’s just great to have Zack back and the fiery passion he brings to the voice of national activism, pulling no punches during his spoken-word interludes between Rage classics like "Bulls on Parade" and "Bombtrack", regardless of who he offends in the process:

"A good friend of ours said that if the same laws were applied to U.S. presidents as were applied to the Nazis after World War II that every single one of them, every last rich white one of them from Truman on would have been hung to death and shot," he defiantly proclaimed at their first reunion show at Coachella, citing the writings of political philosopher Noam Chomsky. "And this current administration is no exception. They should be hung, and tried, and shot."

Hell, even the Democrats are not safe from de la Rocha's ire, as noted during his on-stage rant during the instrumental bridge for their song "Wake Up" at this year's Lollapalooza:

“[Democrats] were supposed to step up and be our voice in congress and they turned their backs on us. They turned their backs on the workers. They turned their backs on the soldiers. They got right behind Bush lock step and got this country into another sick war,” he announced that day in Grant Park, right in the backyard of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. “Now we know brother Obama. We know brother Obama. But I tell you what, if he comes to power come November and he doesn't start pulling troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, I know a lot of people who are gonna stand up and burn down every office of every Senator that doesn't do his job…there is a generation of young black and latino brothers and sisters that are gonna force everyone in this country to make a decision very soon about what side they're going to stand on. And they're a generation of kids who don't give a fuck about national politics. They care about bread. They care about water. They care about housing and they care about justice. And they ain't gonna fucking stand for any of that shit.”

And while the group itself has made no plans to return to the studio at press time, Rage fans were certainly in for a pleasant surprise in July of 2008, when Zack De La Rocha quietly released an EP of new material with his new two-man group with former Mars Volta drummer John Theodore under the moniker One Day As A Lion.

Named after the iconic 1970 black-and-white photograph by Chicano shutterbug George Rodriguez of a piece of graffiti reading “It’s better to live one day as a lion, than a thousand years as a lamb”, the duo’s debut EP is everything you would expect from Zack — radical poetics backed by dirty, colossal beats. And surprisingly, for a duo, de la Rocha and Theodore more than make up for a lack of guitarist and bassist, or even a DJ for that matter, in their sound. In fact, the lack of guitar heroics or any other unnecessary sonic pyrotechnics beyond the masterful drumming of Theodore (whose talent behind the kit is arguably far better than that of Rage drummer Brad Wilk’s), actually seems to come off as a freeing element for the music.

While Theodore supplies the beat, Zack takes cues from his time spent in the studio with Trent Reznor on the art of torturing a keyboard, hammering out fuzzed-out, guttural low-tone bass drones, dub-inspired echo blasts and electrified skronks and howls that cake the caustic rhythms with the urgency of an air raid siren.

Additionally, de la Rocha actually sings here, lending a melodic-yet-harsh toasting hybrid to tracks like “Ocean View” and “If You Fear Dying” on the choruses. It’s a little off-putting at first, considering the guy is certainly no singer. But the conviction by which he levies his attempts is purely respectable, like Woody Guthrie armed with a Molotov cocktail. Especially on “If You Fear Dying”, the EP’s strongest track that finds Zack leaving his heart in Venezuela while questioning why Americans “would ever let a few white Christians shape our tomorrow” and declaring himself a lyrical “roadside bomb” over an explosive ragga-inflected riddim on par with the most visceral Rage anthem.

Elsewhere, tracks like “Wild International” and “Last Letter” find de la Rocha flipping up his flow a bit with slight nods to the cadence and wordplay of such indie hip-hop heroes as El-P and Mos Def as he spits political rhetoric that warrants repeated listens, while “Ocean View” seems to make a call-to-arms nod to the plights of such victims of police violence as Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell with lines like, “The water main’s cut off/panic hit the manor of the mayor/who’s soft word hit the streets that the cops got off.” Meanwhile, “Wild International” calls it right out the gate, summing up the war in Iraq in one line: “They say that in war/The truth be the first casualty.”

The only disappointment about One Day As A Lion is that it clocks in at 20 minutes, leaving the listener hungry for more. But in its brief time frame and minimalistic means exists a roaring call to arms that blasts your skull louder than a thousand copies of Evil Empire played simultaneously. One thing is for sure, this outstanding EP will most certainly separate the true fans of Zack’s word from the ones who can’t hear past the rhythm. And if you ever hear one of these tracks blasting through the PA at your local baseball stadium, it means that shit got taken over by revolutionaries. This right here is the true definition of raging against the machine, something those frat boys and neo-cons who fake the funk in the mosh pit can never even begin to understand. –Ron Hart

YouTube video of One Day As A Lion’s “Wild International”