In a typically tight-lipped understatement, Harry Pussy frontman Bill Orcutt describes his group's most recent tour as "uneventful." Nevertheless, Miami's supreme noise ensemble experienced several firsts during the monthlong trek through clubland, which had them logging about 10,000 miles in a cramped van along with Siltbreeze labelmates Un, a Philadelphia trio. Among the firsts: It was the band's first time performing along the West Coast (they hit the major cities in California, Washington, and Oregon), their first venture into Canada, and the longest time the group has spent on the road.
"I guess it went really well," says Orcutt, reluctantly. "People liked us, and we got paid what we were supposed to get paid. Sometimes we even got paid a little bit more. Those are all firsts. And we're actually starting to get compliments from sound men, which is another new development. When we first started, we would invariably piss off the sound man before we even played a note. I would try to tell them things, which was a big mistake. I thought they would want my opinion, but they don't want to hear anything from you. Now I don't try to tell them anything any more."
The recent roadwork was done to generate interest in Harry Pussy's pair of recently released albums for Siltbreeze: Ride a Dove, a patchwork barrage of scraping guitars and screaming vocals with a charmingly pornographic cover; and What Was Music?, an outstanding compilation from the band's eponymous out-of-print 1993 debut album and the long-unavailable singles and EPs that preceded and followed it (including "Black Ghost," a cover of an old song by bluesman Lightnin' Hopkins that was packaged as a one-sided, limited-run single and sold on the last tour). Ride a Dove is a rough ride, a paint-peeling blast that rivals the work of any Japanese noisemonger. What Was Music?, however, is simply amazing: When heard in its entirety, the disc documents the band's sonic evolution, from the almost meditative rumblings of the early EPs and the manic roar of "Youth Problem" and "Fuckology" to the intricate clang-and-drone of "The White Improviser" and "Zero for Conduct." Call it noise if you want, but the best of the later stuff more than backs up Orcutt's assertion that Harry Pussy is getting better.
"There was something I was trying to do for a long time that we've finally gotten to do," explains Orcutt, who is currently working on a solo album for the Audible Hiss label of New York, to be released sometime this fall. "When we first started, we learned how to make this really big sound, and now we've finally learned how to organize that big sound into songs."
After an abortive trial run last spring, Raw Power has returned to the cable-access airwaves with a mix of noisy, extremist rock videos you probably won't be seeing anytime soon on MTV or VH1. The show, which runs every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 11:00 p.m., began airing in early July on three cable outlets: TCI North (Channel 32); Dynamic Cablevision (Channel 15); and Cable-TAP (Channel 36). It's sponsored by Rock Out Censorship, a national nonprofit group that promotes freedom of rock and roll speech.
Alex B., the show's host, originally intended for Raw Power to be a slick, lavish fanzine devoted to what he calls "real hardcore stuff -- death-metal, industrial, punk, noise." Lacking sufficient funds to produce such a 'zine, the twentysomething entrepreneur opted instead to take advantage of the free time available on cable access, which pumps Raw Power into about 400,000 households in Dade County. "I just thought there are all these really cool bands out there that aren't getting any exposure anywhere," Alex says. "They never get played on the radio. MTV doesn't touch real industrial music, and they'd never play something like Gorefest. They'll only play bands like nine inch nails, who are so big they can't afford to ignore them. That bothered me, so I thought I should do something about it."
So far, the half-hour show has filled that programming gap with clips by household death-metal names such as Leather Strip ("No Rest for the Wicked"), Six Feet Under ("Lycanthrope"), Cannibal Corpse ("Devour the Vermin"), and Dismember ("Casket Garden"). Alex has also featured old-school punk and metal artists including Motsrhead, Dead Kennedys, Fear, and Slayer, and is hoping soon to add some Japanese noise artists (such as Merzbow and Masonna) to the roster.
Alex says that while it is logistically impossible to have bands perform live in the studio, he is interested in broadcasting clips by local artists who fall within the Raw Power format. If you want to send him something, address it to Raw Power, P.O. Box 398834, Miami Beach, FL 33239.
Local guy Nil Lara has been added to the lineup for the H.O.R.D.E. tour date in West Palm Beach on September 1 at the Coral Sky Amphitheatre. He has already performed nine times in the neo-hippie caravan, including stops in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Hartford. Lara has been touring almost nonstop since last February in support of his very fine self-titled debut album on Metro Blue.
Other acts on the H.O.R.D.E. bill include Lenny Kravitz, Rusted Root, Taj Mahal, Son Volt, and Blues Traveler (the band that created the festival a few years back).
-- By John Floyd
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