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Notes From the Underground

Selling Out (of Town):
Local bands should put the underground music railroad to good use

A FEW DAYS AGO, I RECEIVED a mysterious package in the mail from a Croatian in Panama who runs a record distro based in Rome. The package was full of records sent in good faith to be sold here on consignment. The punk music world is so vast and interwoven that I'm sometimes boggled by the insular tendencies of local bands. Of course, it's important for a band to establish itself at home, but it would be foolish to disregard the success stories over the years--local bands like Bl'ast, the Swingin' Utters and Good Riddance, who managed to get heard by the rest of the world.

Not that the contemporary music community hasn't made some waves as well. Slow Gherkin, who seem to have topped the charts recently in local sales of their CD, are playing frequently around Northern California and gaining quite a following, so I hear. Fury 66 have done several tours and have appeared on several punk compilations in the past few years.

Then there are a few local bands who scarcely show their faces in town, like Nuzzle, a tight emo-core group who plays regularly elsewhere and have nationwide distribution of their record.

By teaming up with better-known bands on split releases or compilations, more obscure acts are pushed into the ring of recognition and criticism whether they like it or not. In any case, these are effective ways to get the music heard outside the local realm.

Another is to simply participate in events that require a bit of a road trip. For instance, Ernst from SF band Half-Empty and the tiny label New Disorder came over the treacherous mountain passes just to sell a few records at the Nov. 23 Vet's Hall benefit and d.i.y fest, and ended up making some more lasting local connections. Some local rockers, like Riff Raff, are champs at merchandising and making sure their tapes are available to everyone, while others fall by the wayside.

Not every band revels in seeing its name emblazoned on the backpacks of teenagers, but it's good publicity, and has to be sort of flattering. Whether artists choose to remain completely underground or dream of appearing on the soundtrack to the next MTV's "Real World," they certainly shouldn't ignore the underground "network" (hate to use the lingo of the corporate demon, but it's appropriate) that exists worldwide.
Arwen Curry

Photo Op

We need up-to-date pictures of local bands to run in conjunction with upcoming shows. Live, sharp, black-and-whites are preferred, though promo shots work, too. Live photos need not include the whole band (i.e., don't send us wide shots where people's heads are the size of raisins, 'cuz we won't use 'em). Write band name, date and photographer's name on the back and send to 111 Union St., SC, 95060. Sorry, we can't return them (unless you beg).


Boys Life plays SC on Monday with A Minor Forest and local band Staple (check around for fliers). Coming soon: AFI, Jughead's Revenge, Guttermouth, Goodfellas.
Michael Mechanic

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From the December 5-11, 1996 issue of Metro Santa Cruz

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