Razorcake 136

Razorcake 136, featuring Mick Collins (Part 1), Shizu Saldamando, Vacation, Katie Thornton, and Terminal A

Sep 25, 2023

“The Gories just eliminated all of the crust from the intervening years and went back to the first sources and said, ‘Well, we’re gonna start here.’” –Mick Collins

Cover by Jason Willis
Photo by Mark Murrmann

Mick Collins interview by Todd Taylor

Punk rockers owe a lot to Mick Collins, if they know it or not. There are a handful of watershed artists, where close listening to their output opens up an ever-branching-out kaleidoscope of possibilities. I’ve been listening to Mick’s music for close to thirty years, and I’m still hearing new dimensions to his recorded output while snacking on the musical breadcrumbs from the massive buffet of songs his bands have covered. Similar in approach to The Cramps, Mick Collins is awash in the history of rock’n’roll, drinking deep from the original founts, and in turn sweating out originals that stand shoulder-to-shoulder to his far-flung inspirations.

Mick was born and raised in Detroit during a time where its music factories were as culturally significant and ubiquitous as its automotive assembly lines. Soul, rock’n’roll, funk, and disco spilled out of passing cars, filled the airwaves, littered the gutter. Young Mick also passed time underground in the basement, washing and playing his father’s massive record collection. It’s the difference between hearing whispers about certain artists versus sitting down and listening to vinyl records as closely as if they were family members sharing advice and stories for years before picking up an instrument.

In Mick Collins’s universe, Suicide shares the bill with Sun Ra; Wire and Willie Dixon are stereophonically combined into the same mix; Government Issue jumps around Stevie Wonder’s piano. In Mick’s hands, arbitrary and often limiting barriers that have been constructed and enforced by the music industry are ignored—almost ridiculed by how arbitrary they often are—by stripping music down to the essentials. It’s a true talent to distill down to an essence for an increase in power. Just listen to the less-is-more of “Thunderbird ESQ.”

In this two-part interview, we cover up and through Mick’s first well-known band, The Gories. They’re “garage punk”—as in punk recorded in a truck repair garage because they didn’t like the sound of the studio and forced the engineer to buy longer cables to record them... then came back drunk months later, late at night, and forced him to re-mix the entire record…

Stay tuned for part two, where we cover the just-as-persuasive Dirtbombs, furry fandom, conceptual art, and much, much more.

Shizu Saldamando interview by Martin Wong

I met Shizu Saldamando at the Tropico de Nopal Gallery in Echo Park in 2007. It was one of her first shows out of art school and I was blown away by her hyper realistic yet fantastic portraiture of her peers, drawn or painted from candid pictures she shot at backyard parties and goth shows, effortlessly influenced by growing up in San Francisco’s Mission District (punk rock, street art, sticker tags, and Teen Angels) with culturally and politically conscious Mexican and Japanese American parents (handkerchiefs, washi paper, and activism).

Fifteen years later, our families are friends who hang out in the front row of all-ages punk shows. Shizu’s art continues to blow me away––always evolving and showing at museums, colleges, a Metro station, the National Portrait Gallery, not to mention on the drum kit that Candace Hansen plays in the Alice Bag band. When I invited friends at Razorcake to attend the opening of her installation at Pasadena City College earlier this year, Todd’s immediate response was something like, “I can’t go, but wow. Can you interview her for the magazine?”

Vacation interview by Nighthawk

Cincinnati is known for WKRP in Cincinnati—a TV show about a radio station from the ’70s—Skyline Chili, and Vacation. That’s right; this band has been around for almost fifteen years in the Queen City. The band describes their sound as “grit pop,” a play on Britpop. I say they play pop music, with the character of common people. Vacation also uses the term “grout rock,” which is a play on Krautrock. Jerry pours concrete for his day job. These two categorical names may sound silly, but they’re perfect descriptions for what I’m hearing—regular people playing good music everyone can enjoy. They’re in the same file folder as Tenement and Future Virgins. Not bad companions to spend time with.

Vacation plays with a unique energy that holds your attention until the performance is through. They make me wanna dance to the storm front that’s welcomingly shoved in my face. I also wanna stare at each one of the members and just appreciate very talented musicians loving what they do. Afterward, I feel a high that leaves me in such a positive mindset.

Vacation’s a band of four great friends whose only focus while playing music is to give their all. The truly rewarding experience of being entertained by them is easily worth the cover. They’re the type of band where you feel like they’re playing just for you, even though that’s not possible. Or is it?

Recently, Jerome and Evan were kind enough to join me on the telephone to chat about the band backstory, touring, and Cincinnati’s pinball scene. Enjoy! 

Katie Thornton interview by Daryl

I was listening to Constant Insult’s album History in Shorthand, a band and an album that I immensely enjoy, when I asked myself, “Wait… who is this other person?” I knew Mike played bass or drums or something, and I recognized the male vocalist from Frozen Teens, but there was another vocalist, and I was curious what other bands she’d been in. It turned out that I wasn’t familiar with her previous projects but, fascinatingly enough, she was an independent journalist! And on top of that, her stories were these deep dives into issues of infrastructure, and lesser-known, oddball history pieces.

I love seeing people’s “other lives” outside of punk. It can be a wonky balance, but some people really make it work, and Katie makes it work! With the spirit of a fanzine contributor, she tackles these subjects to help make sense of the world around us, seamlessly publishing in mainstream media outlets while embarking on ramshackle DIY tours.

I understand her compulsion to downplay her recent accolades, but at the same time I’m jumping out of my seat in excitement. Not only because I’m happy for her to receive the recognition that she deserves, but because it’s always invigorating to watch someone effectively navigate the world using the skillsets they gained through punk. And I mean, what’s punker than a well-propagated, multi-part, information-packed audio production on the harmful influence of a conservative media conglomerate!? Nothin’.

Terminal A by Ryan Nichols

Pedro’s Dada Punks

 “Have sex with me!” an audience member yelled at Terminal A one of the first times I saw them play at the now-defunct Avalon Bar in Costa Mesa, Calif. In response, Colin said, “We don’t have sex. We’re from space.” That’s all it took for me to become a fan. Colin climbed all over the bar like an animal while Lee shredded on guitar in the corner like a robot. It felt like two shows were happening at once and it was difficult to decide who to focus on.

As a two-piece, that’s the perfect division—when things are split equally and flow seamlessly. The guys met at a party and connected over rock’n’roll and outsider music. When they made the conscious decision of what type of band they wanted to create, Lee quit his job as an auto mechanic to give it his full attention. Both of them carry a strong working class background, calculating their craft with whatever economic materials they can find.

I enjoyed being in their company and learning more about how they came to be as a band, their setup, their struggles with technology, and the music scene. Colin and Lee have been making music as Terminal A for more than ten years, building a bond that’s genuinely apparent and infectious. They make you want to hear and know more of their story while making you appreciate the artistic bonds they’ve found in others along the way. As intense as their live shows are, these boys couldn’t be nicer and more down-to-earth in person. They just completed a European tour and are in the works of doing a much anticipated full length. My hope is you’ve already heard them, seen them, and love them. If not, read and enjoy.

“Don’t hate the player, don’t hate the game—hate the motherfuckers who devised this shit to begin with.” –Donna Ramone (instagram)

“For my generation, the story of one’s exposure to punk is defined by their access to physical media, or rather, the lack of access.” –Jim Ruland (instagram)

“Harder. Softer. Yes. That. More. Enough. More. Yes… I came here to be loved, right?” –Lorde Destroyer 

“If you feel weird, then feel weird. It’s all right.’” –Sean Carswell (instagram)

“We should all know the deal on being a teenage boy: We were fucking idiots. We lit our farts and tried to make each other puke.” –Rev. Nørb (instagram)

Puro Pinche Poetry y Cuentos (Edited by Ever Velasquez (instagram) and RoQue Torres (instagram)
Dedicated to the memory of Soraya
“My dear friend Soraya I see you in the trees, in the bees, in the babies and the teens.”
–Sista Eyerie

“I hopped on my less-than-a-99 Cent Store version of Peter Criss’s ‘drum set’ and proceeded to make an awful racket.” –Designated Dale

Septuagenarians, octogenarians, and nonagenarians are serving in congress. “Dis’ is da’ best we can do?”  –Art Fuentes. (instagram)

“Chicken of the Sea! Nothing says Wisconsin more than a polka band on a boat.” –Rhythm Chicken (instagram)

“Neither of us, with four kids between us, could remember the last time our only responsibility was joy.” –Jennifer Whiteford (instagram)

And photos from the lovely and talented:

Chris Boarts Larson

Mari Tamura

Albert Licano

This issue is dedicated to the memories of August Golden, Alex Butler, Luis Saunders, Rick Froberg, John Kezdy, and Paul Reubens.

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