Tokyo Damage Report

MIGHTY SPHINCTER

 

These dudes were the most real band EVER. One guy institutionalized with manic depression, another dude dead from AIDS, a third dude dead from – what? Car crash? Heart attack? Legends abound. They were from Arizona, but honestly these guys SHOULD have been from Texas. They had that Texas vibe of coming out of the middle of nowhere with a sound that was horrifying and unique and gay in a way that gay dudes had never been before.
 
They played this really unique mix of punk and deathrock that mixed all the best (the aggression of punk, the over-the-top, theatrical nuttiness of goth) with NONE of the bad parts (the conformity of punk / the whiney britishness and sniveling pretention of goth). The shit was actually frightening, complex, frenzied, and so reverbed as to be incomprehensible.
 
I think the famous Jello blurb went like, “They sound like Venom played backwards through a wind-tunnel.”
 
I had the pleasure of seeing these guys live at Gilman St. back in the ’80s. The drums were SO BUGGED. I don’t mean the drum-playing, I mean the physical instruments of drums. Each drum was composed of a  made of see-through plastic tube which curved outwards like a pair of bell-bottom jeans: Put it anothe way — all the toms, the kick, EVERYTHING looked like it had been made from tuba parts with a drum head on one end. WTF? I have never seen anything like it before or since. The same could be said about their performance: they closed with a cover of HELTER SKELTER that was so deranged I had no idea it was even a cover. It was about 3 times as corrupted as this studio version:
 

 
I already had their LP, THE NEW MANSON FAMILY , and I talked with the bassist about it after the show. He was this totally mild-mannered old queen with a Freddy Mercury moustache and his whole face painted green.
 
Also, they left behind some of the best band-graffitti ever done. I did not take a photo at the time, but the image is burned into my mind so bad that after all these years I can remember it like yesterday:
 
 
 
That should of been up there with Black Flag and Dead Kennedys’ logos in terms of wall- and blue-jean-ubiquity.
 
 
THE NEW MANSON FAMILY has rad song-writing and titles like CONSTRICTIONS IN E MINOR and ARGYLE SOCKS.
 
The imagery of that album mixed dead-serious hatred for humanity with  horror-movie-obsessed-nerd stuff (a la the Misfits) PLUS a huge helping of John Waters-ish campy kitchy objects.  I guess the contradictory nature of the band come from the guitarist’s well-documented battle with bipolar disorder.
 
But the production of the album is ruined by insane heedless amounts of reverb. It is unlistenable.
 
The first 2 EPs – GHOST WALKING and WALTZ IN HELL are the shit, though. The dudes were hella campy and out, but compared to them 90% of hardcore bands are gay and that’s the truth. These guys didn’t approach song-writing like “OK how can we win points with the goth community? How about a song dealing with vampires?” They approached song-writing like, “How can we actually make people so afraid they’ll shit?”
 
 
 
In particular, the drumming on the song Chinatown . . .that is THE MOST PSYCHO, FRENZIED DRUMMING EVER RECORDED. That shit makes Max Roach look like the Phil Collins.
 

 

 fan page with biographies and interviews here.

 


 

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3 Comments so far

  1. Tzench October 18th, 2009 12:01 pm

    I’ve never heard about this band before, but it is awesome, awe inspiring and the pure awe.

  2. ido October 27th, 2009 11:11 am

    Right the fuck on. This is an amazing band. Really awesome that you got to see them back in their heyday. Have been listening to them a lot lately.

  3. Arthur December 5th, 2013 10:38 pm

    Greetings from Phoenix. All those wild stories were part of the bands constant misinformation attack, but here is a true real wacko story = Ron “Reckless” Grotjan was driving while on a combo of methadone, xanax, and clonopin at 9:30am July 13th 2009, killing an old woman. Guess he didn’t notice the stop light. Sentenced to 6 years for manslaughter, 2 more for endangerment. Here’s his recent denied appeal report. His wife has been telling everyone Ron had a “stroke” while driving. That make any sense? No. http://statecasefiles.justia.com/documents/arizona/court-of-appeals-division-one-unpublished/1-ca-cr-12-0447.pdf?ts=1379005278

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