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Stinking Lizaveta

all photos on this page by Danny Gorchow

Stinking Lizaveta
Room710, Sat, Oct25, 2003

Touring as a way of life, from Philly-cheese-steak-land, it’s Stinking Lizaveta, an instrumental trinity and live music experience of biblical contortions. Three amazing musicians with no cheese about them, these "progenitors of doom jazz" take the concept of "band" and expand it to a stretch between alternative family and alternative reality. First time I saw them was in a scuzzy punk-rock-hell-hole near San Francisco, out in the East Bay boonies. They disintegrated my radical meter. Their extreme uniqueness is something from the Big Bang that was flung far off in the universe and evolved under its own laws of physics.

The brothers Papadopoulos - Yanni on guitar and Alexi on bass - are electrons that spark and buzz around their nucleus, Cheshire Augusta (drummer), a warrior goddess sent to smite our puny earthling hides. Claw marks sunk deep in my anticipation of their tour stop in Austin.
Well, as he proves daily, God hates me. With the extra hour of bar time on clocks-back night, it was well into the smoke-saturated morning when Stinking Lizaveta got on stage. So I cut out after a couple songs, but only after seeing that the crowd was "getting it". I took the image home, seized the pillow, and prayed for warm weather. I had proposed to the band an interview the next day at Doggy Springs, knowing that they bring their dogs on tour, and knowing how dogs and van-touring rockers love water.

God sent a cold front. I figured they would blow me off, but lo and behold, four attempts to contact me! They left their cell number on the machine, which I spastically erased trying to rewind it. As I self-flagellated with a thorny stick, Yanni called again. We got cut off (more beatings). He called back and we figured out a meeting place. I was spazzing out so badly that I locked my keys in my room and had to bash the doorknob off with a hammer.

They waited in the rain by the Godzilla on Guadalupe. I ate a slice while they looked for Alexi who had disappeared. We all went to the café across the street. Yanni got a big fancy coffee with fluffy stuff in it. Alexi got a tea. I got a Red Stripe. Cheshire is a superior female specimen; I was so flustered facing the power she exudes, I forget what she got.

We talked about their road adventures and long-term loyalty. The three have been touring together for close to a decade, independent and low-budget, staying in friends’ houses, campsites and rest stops, letting the dogs run around between shows. The crazy stuff happened in the first three years, says Alexi, but they continue their transcontinental rock-race undaunted.

R&R: You guys are booked solid this time. How has the tour been going?
What are your best cities?
SL: The Austin show was slamming! Denver, Albuquerque and Minneapolis were good. Oklahoma City was bad. Pittsburgh PA rocks. New York sucks ass. Well, the New York show was OK but there’s no local scene, no community.
R&R: Not like Austin (shit-eating grin).
SL: It’s not like anywhere else. In Austin there’s music coming out of every other door.
R&R: You still tour in a van, with your dogs. How have things changed? I mean, you’re getting older. How much longer can you go on, moving your own gear?
Alexi: No longer. We quit.
Yanni: If we get any older we might have teen appeal. I have to lose more hair. No, over the years not much has changed. The same bands are still big. Slayer, Metallica. There’s still pop punk and garage, but who cares. I don’t care about anything retro.
Cheshire: Yeah, retro is stupid.
Alexi: One kind of retro is the same as any other kind.
Cheshire: What is it that YOU have to say? Every person is an individual. Why would I want to pretend to be someone else?
Alexi: We’re more influenced by our own experiences - by our peers - than anything big that’s been done.
R&R: Who are your peers? What other bands have you seen or played with that we should recognize on your level, as unknown/un-huge but extraordinary?
SL: Hidden Hand from Maryland, Keel Haul from Cleveland, Meat Jack from Baltimore. Boxcar Satan from San Antonio is cool, and there was Goodwill from Detroit (defunct?). They influence us but we don’t even recognize it, it’s unconscious.
Cheshire: I totally feel like I’m in the center of everything right now.
Yanni: I just wanna rock.
Cheshire: The most exciting thing we’re doing now is playing with belly dancers. We’ll meet them in New Orleans for a Halloween show.
R&R: Cheshire, you’re a total ass-kick drummer, with a really distinctive style. How long have you been drumming?
Cheshire: I started playing drums when I was 24 (a late start, yes). I started on piano as a kid. I wanted to be able to accompany myself in Gilbert & Sullivan musicals.
R&R: Alexi, what kind of bass is that thing you have that looks like a medieval catapult?
Alexi: it’s a Morelli, early 70’s upright electric, actually standard but it’s been altered; the sound is due to the pickups (active Alembic). Yanni bought it for me for $150, but replacing it would cost thousands.
R&R: You guys are intellectually advanced for a bunch of punk rockers.
Yanni: Yeah... Chess Rock.
R&R: What are your songs about? Do you have a crowd-rocker?
Cheshire: Yeah, "LBJ" - (what’s it about?) – it’s about Lyndon Baines Johnson.
R&R: Thanks for clearing that up. If there are no lyrics, how can the songs be about something? Is it just a mood?
Yanni: We have a song called "I Renounce the Government." But if it wasn’t called that, it would be called "Attack of the Foo-Foos" or something.
Cheshire: I get rhythmic inspiration from sports - running, at different speeds.
R&R: Cheshire, do you consider yourself an alternative role model for young girls?
Cheshire: I consider myself a religious leader. No, of course I consider myself a role model, when all that’s out there for them is this horrible Britney Spears shit-crap.
R&R: Well, you have the day off. What are you doing later?
SL: Going to an art show and a movie at the Alamo - a Warhol fest is playing.
Yanni: That could be dreadful.
Cheshire: Oh, that could be awesome!
Yanni: We’re all gonna hang out at separate places?
Cheshire: …and all be so happy not to smell each other’s butt holes. This paper is fun!
R&R: Yep, Wendy rocks. And Larry, and everyone, shit, I love it.
SL: Hey, we picked up a hitchhiker who also knew Wendy. He says Wendy rocks too! He was coming from jail.
R&R: Imagine that. So you’ll be back for SXSW. Cool. Where are you playing?
SL: Hopefully Woody will book us at Room 710.

Room 710 staff observed Stinking Lizaveta in the backstage loft - not partying, but playing chess. "Chess Rock" it is, then. Look them up on ww.rockdetector.com for CDs and history.

-Beky Hayes

Attic Ted
CD Release for The Bastardized Country Carnival (Pecan Crazy Records)
Room 710, October 2, 2003

When vocalist/organist, Grady Roper, first described Attic Ted’s imminent second release, then titled The Screaming Mimis (now renamed The Bastardized Country Carnival), he said the result of their second effort would make their already endearingly bizarre first album sound like a “pop record.”

Which made me wonder… Not only does Bastardized have the same spooky distortion and eerily oscillating rhythm of the debut, but it’s actually more polished and refined than the first. While it may not be as suddenly unique and stylish as the first, it is just as inimitable, eccentric and even more adventurous. While “Oh No” and “Bob Less” possess the same trademark carnie-esque drive and macabre surrealism, “A Door” rolls with an almost pop sensibility. “Minor Quickie” and “Never Fall” tread on the fringes of rock ’n roll. “Years Ago,” an Alice Cooper cover and one of the last tracks to be included on the finished album, has a stripped-down musicality with staggered guitar and a disembodied chorus giving a markedly different feel from previous songs, representing a partial evolution from what seems to be the original concept of the band. It’s one of several songs that feature lyrics that are a little more lighthearted, with imagery that’s not as overtly dark as earlier endeavors, such as “Transformer’s,” ‘He was a sugar cube/until he went in the rain/he melted away/and now he walks with a cane.’

There was sadness in the first album that seems to have been replaced by a more blithe and almost silly ingredient. “Transformer,” along with “Attic Ted” and “Arachniphobia” [sic], are the strongest, most evolved tracks on the new album, standing upright as well-adapted little creatures, fusions of the Attic Ted of the last album, and elements of the band’s new direction.

The show, of course, rocked. Attic Ted played the new songs, but they also included crowd pleasers like “Trumpet” and “Sparrow Camaro,” as well as my personal favorite, the mournful and distraught “Leonard.” Bill Jeffery, the newest addition to the group, played a trumpet that was hard to hear when he wasn’t dancing by, but contributed well to the overall cosmorama that is Attic Ted. –Benjamin Reed

Oh! Beast/ Yeti 
Rm. 710, Mon. Oct. 27th

This show was such an Austin Monday nite special for me and 25 other people. Yeti is from Ft.Worth. They’re a trio, git-bass-drums. Their set was unique because a whole rack of keyboards was left unused due to a left behind pedal. Honestly, I would have never known and was only provoked by the thought of another layer of sound.
They played a 3-song set, lasting 20 minutes tops. “Enter Serpents” and “Strangled by Light” were the names of some of these. They were aggressive in a Power Violence way, reminding me of Man is the Bastard’s sparse, smashing rhythms. We’re talking slowed down progressions with accents of kick drum and cymbals that would work a punching bag over. There was some Ginn-styled git work flowing over this at times that combined to make the music come out both crazed and purposeful. More than once they busted into full synched riffs that made me feel as if I were in the court of the Crimson King.

Yeti pulled from all over the influences reminding me of the Ruins and then Neurosis’ Pain of Mind. The drummer operated a loop making machine that would ebb and flow cyclically, creating a never-ending atmosphere between the three long play songs in their set. These guys were really good, interesting, showing some real nice taste. No doubt they own a Dystopia record too. The three of them sang at various times which just enhanced the already fat dynamic happening. Sometimes growling, others full on soul bearing screams, the Yeti had the speed, the tightness, and the range to make it good.

I’d like to thank Oh! Beast for allowing me to write about Frank Zappa. There is a style FZ gets into when his band is in full swing, syncopated, virgin tight, playing the most complex maze of polyrythms, then they all stop, the band members all mumble something different on cue about the works of Stravinsky, smoking tube socks, or the mud shark, then they all pop right back into straight faced high-brow technical prowess. It’s an amazing juxtaposition of the humor and the skills. And that’s the cross streets that this Oh! Beast show review begins at. In between the pig-squeal burps of the Moog, the sliding bass throb, the rubber strat twang, and the kick-kick snare padlock beat, the triple falsetto vocal front is charmingly apt. I thought of Andy Gibb drugged up in the Cucumber Castle “with a spoon far up his nose”. At times the git played the vocal melody which is a great duet effect. Often the band switched instruments and held us at attention with the same mesmerizing thump of D.W.Sims.

Most important was that this was the “new” Oh!Beast material. All songs were totally cool. That’s it. They grabbed me, made me watch, were interesting throughout, each freaking note; so much that I was not tired when I got home but rather refreshed. I’m serious too.

They played a cover of “Please Listen to the Sirens” by Tubeway Army, a sneak peek at their musical Halloween costume. (Which was very authentic.) As far as alchemy is concerned these guys make damn good Fool’s gold. And there’s that intersection again. Just don’t eat the “Yellow Ice.”

-Kevin Stack


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