Adventures in (and on the way to) Texas III: MP Johnson's 7th Column

Jul 26, 2006

            Adventures in (and on the way to) Texas III

            Our first stop was for gas somewhere deep in the bowels of Illinois. As we took the exit, I saw a sign for an old-school, hometown root beer stand. I dig that stuff, so after we filled my tank, we cruised around nowheresville until we found the place. Inside, I was awestruck by the atmosphere. Everyone seemed to know each other, but there was something wrong. It was like Cheers on downers. The dim lights and frowning faces were almost overwhelming. I ordered a float and we chatted with the awkwardly cheerful root beer bartender as he told us stories about stuff I couldn’t pay attention to. The encroaching depression destroyed my ability to listen. When all of our orders were filled, we made our way to the door, but we were cut off by a burly fella who rushed out. As he pushed through the exit, he shouted over his shoulder to the whole gang, “If you see Carl, tell him I’m going home to commit suicide.” I stopped short of laughing because it didn’t sound like a joke.

            Versus the Mirror: Home (Equal Vision Records)

            Another thing that is really depressing is music that sucks. The following sentence is part of a paragraph in the liner notes that describes the album’s theme, which is “Home”: “Some people loathe the notion, while others embrace the security in the warm way it dances through the air as their lips close like clockwork as it bids them adieu.” As if that nonsensical piece of shit wasn’t enough to make me take a weed whacker to my face, it’s topped off with a disc full of screaming, boring metalcore. You don’t ordinarily think of screaming like a maniac as being boring, but bands like these sure make it fit the bill. Thanks, fellas!

            Hour of the Wolf: Power of the Wolf (Limekiln Records)

            The cover of this disc is a yellow-eyed, demonic wolf with its jaws spread wide and dripping blood. Inside its mouth is death. His skull face is grinning as he cradles a fat, sleeping baby. Absolutely brilliant. That wolf is also the vocalist of this band. He barks and growls his way through a handful of basic hardcore tunes that tend to be painfully blood-free. He needs to dig in. He needs to sink his fangs into these tunes and rough them up until they are raw and bleeding and fucking angry messes. As it stands, these songs are the equivalent of nice guys in business casual combing their hair. They need to be limping, homeless, gore-soaked bums with so much hate in their eyes that they will burn your flesh and eat it cooked.     

            Adventures in (and on the way to) Texas IV

            In Oklahoma, we noticed an abundance of signs along the highway that warned “Do Not Drive Into Smoke.” These piqued our curiosity. What smoke? Where did it come from? Will we get to see any?

            In Tulsa, after we checked into our hotel, we walked next door to a 24-hour grocery store. I bought some onion rolls and walked outside to eat them while waiting for the rest of the crew to finish their shopping. As I ravenously gulped down the rolls, which turned out to be absolutely disgusting, the three mustache-wielding clerks who were working came out and stood about five feet away from me. They talked amongst themselves quietly, but gazed directly at me while they did it. Their mustache stares made the hair on my neck stand on end.

            Minutes later, to my relief, my friends exited with their snacks and we walked back to the hotel. As we did, they told me that one of the mustache dudes told them, with less than absolute certainty, that the signs might be because of brush fires they have once in a while. None of us were convinced.

            Since the signs seemed to be near several reservations, my politically incorrect guess was that they were to warn us against a roving cloud of ghost smoke. Waiting in the middle of the smoke was a Native American ghoul ready to slam a giant peace pipe into any automobile that dared encroach on his demonic cloud. The rest of the group disagreed.

            On our return trip, the question arose once again. As we were debating what these signs were really warning us against, a giant cloud of smoke appeared on the highway in front of us.

            “Holy shit,” we said in unison.

            I moved forward slowly, failing to heed the warning of the signs.

            Just off the road, surrounded by the flashing lights of cop cars and fire trucks, a house was burning to the ground.

            As we muddled through the smoke, we were pleased to finally have our answer.

            Blasé Debris: Creep Cool (Altercation Records)

            I’ve got a soft spot in my blood-pumper for horror punk. These guys are the epitome of current horror punk. Their singer’s voice is the musical equivalent of a zombie flailing his skinny, rotten arms as he chases a dog down a wet alley. Their attempts to imitate all eras of the Misfits and Danzig are very entertaining. On one track, you wonder if they aren’t playing an outtake from Famous Monsters. On another, you know that they had been jamming to Static Age all day. Then, you hear a song and groan, because these guys playing like Danzig circa 1-3 is like me getting into the ring with George Foreman. I’d get pounded down to a pile of flesh-colored mush that would be carried out in a bucket. I don’t know how to box and these guys don’t have the chops. That said; this is a damn fun disc.

            For more damn fun horror shit, you might want to pick up a copy of Black Petals #36. It features my “Story of a Board” and will be available through

            Your neighbors are monsters and there’s a good chance that they’re plotting to marinate you in demon ooze and cook you until your flesh melts in their mouths. It’s all true.