Razorcake Podcast #50: With Russ Van Cleave

Apr 10, 2009

Razorcake Podcast #50: With Russ Van Cleave

I decided to do a thematic sort of set here and play some songs that I associate with some good times and new discoveries made during FEST over the years. For those who don’t know, FEST is, as it might sound, a music fest that has taken place in Gainesville, FL annually over the past seven years. Living just a couple hours south here in Tampa, I’ve had the good fortune to be able to attend all of ‘em so far. I really believe that some of the best music recorded in the past few years has been represented at FEST and I put this podcast here together in an attempt to illustrate that point. I know a lot of these bands are probably familiar to most Razorcake readers and I gotta say right up front that it was impossible for me to play everything I wanted to share. There are some glaring omissions, I know, and for that I apologize. In fact, whittling this down to just over an hour was quite a task. But, hopefully, that just furthers my case a little bit.


Toys That Kill - "They Tied Up All The Lace" from Shanked! (Recess)
The Ergs! – “Pray For Rain” from dorkrockcorkrod (Don Giovani)
Ninja Gun – “Darwin Was A Baptist” from Restless Rubes (Suburban Home)
Ringers – “Dial Tones” from the Ringers / Ampere split 7” (No Idea)
Pretty Boy Thorson & The Falling Angels – “28 Years” from Ain’t It Funny… (ADD)
David Dondero – “Mighty Mississippi” from Simple Love (Team Love)
Tiltwheel – “Skyway” from We’ll Inherit The Earth…A Tribute To The Replacements (1-2-3-4 Go! Records)
Sexy – “Unocount” from Por Vida (Plan-It-X South)
Jack Palance Band – “Heaven” from Get This Shit Under Way (ADD)
Dear Landlord – “Crashing” from Dear Landlord / Off With Their Heads split 7” (No Idea)
Madison Bloodbath – “Oh The Places You’ll Stay” from Getting’ Loose With… (ADD)
The Figgs – “Miss Velvet” from Miss Velvet (Matt Label)
Hot New Mexicans – “Or Else I’ll Pout” from It’s Called Leaning Back (Salinas)
Super Chinchilla Rescue Mission – “Georgia Ave.” Bottledirt / Super Chinchilla Rescue Mission split 7” (Snuffy Smiles)
Billy Reese Peters - “What’s Up Ding Dong?” from Grabass Charlestons / Billy Reese Peters split (No Idea)
Vena Cava – “3/4 Part II” from Weapons Of Mass Communication (ADD)
Dillinger Four – “Gainesville” from C I V I L W A R (Fat Wreck)
Drunken Boat - “Keep On Keep On Keep On” from Drunken Boat (Salinas)
Bent Outta Shape – “Rudes + Cheaps” from Stray Dog Town (Recess)

TOYS THAT KILL: San Pedro, CA’s TTK are one of the highlights of FEST every year for me and this song from their most recent full-length seemed like a great way to kick things off.

THE ERGS!: These guys have, unfortunately, played their last shows, but, when I first saw them at FEST a few years ago, I was completely blown away and made it point to catch them as often as I could. If you find the quick transition between this song and TTK irritating, I apologize, but most of the tracks on dorkrockorckrod run together and I had to set that up in advance to make it sound all cool and DJ-ey.

NINJA GUN: A few years back, a band I play in had to cancel our FEST appearance at the last minute because our guitar player got stabbed. This funny Valdosta, GA band who called themselves Ninja Gun, took our place and ended up becoming one of my favorite bands from the southeast – not to mention a bunch of rad fellas to boot. And that was easily the best (and probably the only) good thing to ever come out of one of my friends being stabbed. Ninja Gun’s album, Restless Rubes, was definitely one of my favorite records of 2008.

RINGERS: I just recently started to get into Ringers, but this song from the split 7” with Ampere has definitely helped out.

PRETTY BOY THORSON AND THE FALLING ANGELS: One day, Dave from ADD records came over and brought a CD of his “new favorite band” and I’ve looked forward to PBT and the F’N’As visits to FL for FEST and otherwise ever since. He eventually put out a re-issue of the record this song was taken from and has kept up good with subsequent Pretty Boy Thorson and the Falling Angels releases.

DAVID DONDERO: I was slow to get into Dave Dondero’s stuff. I heard his name for a couple years before I heard him, but now I consider him to be one of the best songwriters around and I sorta feel stupid for not being more on top of things.

TILTWHEEL: I think Tiltwheel has made it over from Escondido, CA every year for FEST. I remember the first time I heard Hair Brained Scheme Addicts years ago at a friend’s apartment in Gainesville and they’ve been one of my favorite bands ever since. It was hard to pick one song to play, and I know the ‘Mats cover is kind of a cop out. But, I will say that the ‘Mats tribute it was taken from is well worth multiple spins and that this will probably not be the last time you hear Tiltwheel on any podcasts I do.

SEXY: These guys broke my heart when they called it a day a few years back, but they put out a couple records for the ages. Por Vida is especially favored by myself and many other folks if you can track that one down. Fortunately, a couple of the guys formed a band called Future Virgins who have now put out two remarkable 7” records and some comp songs here and there. One of the fellas in Future Virgins also played in…

JACK PALANCE BAND: …this band…another lost but not forgotten band that kept me mostly sane and ferociously rockin’ for a few years. It was sad to see ‘em go, but from the ashes of JPB has risen Hidden Spots who is without a doubt one of my favorite bands making music these days. The Hidden Spots set at FEST last year was one for the books.

DEAR LANDLORD: Dear Landlord is another FEST alum that I’m just starting to get into, but I think this song from the OWTH split in a really amazing song.

MADISON BLOODBATH: These guys haven’t been around for too long, but if the debut full-length record they just put out is any indication of what’s to come then here’s to hoping they stick around for a good while.

THE FIGGS: The Figgs have been around forever and I think it’s a shame that they don’t get near the recognition they probably deserve. They’ve even backed up Graham Parker, and if that was all they’d done with their time, it would still be quite an accomplishment. But they’ve also managed to release several great full-length records and numerous one-off singles and 7”s – from one which this song here was taken. When they played FEST a couple years ago I remember looking around at the relatively small crowd watching them and noticed that just about every person watching them played in a band that was also playing FEST that year.

HOT NEW MEXICANS: Another band that, despite having released an absolutely incredible full length (not to mention a couple killer 7”s), has somehow managed to be largely overlooked by too many people. Get hip folks.

SUPER CHINCHILLA RESCUE MISSION: All the way back to the first FEST. How many livers have sustained irreparable damage since then? Probably at least a thousand times as many as there are letter’s in this band’s name. Unfortunately SCRM called it a day just when it looked like they were really starting to get some even better things going, but Seth Swaaley, the singer, has started playing and writing again.

BILLY REESE PETERS: BRP was the penultimate experience for many a self-indulgent FEST-goer for all the years they were together. They were the headlining soundtrack to the ultimate party show just about every year and probably hold some sort of attendance record for shirtless champagne-drinking men. Of course, the chances of witnessing a BRP performance and maintaining a level of sobriety compatible with the recall of information pretty much nulls anything I’d have to say about it. Funny thing is I don’t remember much about this band at all, but the records are still good.

VENA CAVA: Vena Cava has been playing this song forever and I’m glad they finally decided to record it. I’m not sure how many FESTs VC has played at this point, but fortunately it’s more than they’ve missed.

DILLINGER FOUR: If you are a regular Razorcake subscriber and are uncertain on who D4 is, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe you can’t actually read. This record was reviewed in the last issue at least a couple dozen times and the content and subtitle (A Thank You Card to Radon) for the song “Gainesville” seemed not out of place here.

DRUNKEN BOAT: I’ve enjoyed Drunken Boat recordings for a good while now, but this new record is really something else. Here’s to hoping I get to see ‘em again next year.

BENT OUTTA SHAPE: I remember the one time I got to see this band, one of the Razorcake writers and I were hanging out at my place the day before we were to head up to Gainesville for FEST. He made it very clear to me that Bent Outta Shape was one of the best bands he’d heard in awhile and that, under no circumstances, should I miss them. Nor was I to leave Gainesville without a copy of “Stray Dog Town”. I managed to follow all of this advice and have led a richer life for it. Jamie Ewing was the singer for Bent Outta Shape. He passed away recently at far too young an age. I didn’t know Jamie personally, but it’s hard for me to listen to this song and not feel the loss.