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Beat Street
By Todd S. Inoue

Check Your Head:
Tomatohead Records debuts with comp

SUNNYVALE-BASED Tomatohead Records began in February of this year, and the company already has its first project out, Bay Area Ska, an ambitious compilation of five local ska bands: Monkey, Slow Gherkin, Flat Planet, Blindspot and the Adjustments (formerly the Janitors Against Apartheid). An accompanying Tomatohead tour is currently hitting small towns before heading into bigger venues like the Edge in November. According to the label's founder, Chuck Phelps, Tomatohead is a way for Phelps to get back into music since the demise of his old band, Skankin' Pickle, whose members are currently mired in a messy legal squabble over royalties. "When Skankin' Pickle and Dill Records fell apart for me, I was left with a dilemma," Phelps says. "Without them, what to do? I still loved music. So I figured, Why not give [an indie label] a try?"

Phelps offers his artists a 50/50 split of all profits ("That seems the fairest way. Bands are into it," he explains) plus the benefit of the experience of someone who has witnessed the music industry from the back of a van. He has one band, Blindspot, signed; interested groups can ring up Tomatohead at 408/720-8813.

At the upcoming Bay Area Ska record release shows, Phelps wants to rekindle the upbeat atmosphere of old Skankin' Pickle shows. "It's fun to be back at it," Phelps says. "There's so many killer bands right now. When you're a brand-new company, it's tough. I got turned down left and right except for the compilation. But things are looking good."

Brad's Ad: Fold on the dotted line and learn what Wild 94.9 thinks about Brad Kava.

Radio Rumble

As if getting reamed by Howard Stern weren't enough, Mercury News music writer Brad Kava recently suffered further indignity from Wild 94.9. An ad depicting morning-show hosts Elvis and J.V. surrounded by a pair of hands and the innocuous title "Fun Radio is Back Bringing You a Mad-kap Cup of Morning Java," ran in last week's Life section. When folded in half, then in half again, the ad reads "Fuck Brad Kava" and the hands are transformed into an upraised middle finger.

Kava, who accused the morning show, the Doghouse, of aping the technique of former Wild 107 radio personality Mancow Mueller, chalks up the prank to another case of stealing material--the tactic was once used by an L.A. radio station against Stern. "My first reaction was that it was very funny," Kava says. "And if they thought it up, I would have been impressed--wow, how creative and original--but it's just like them to borrow someone else's idea."

Rachel Mata, assistant producer for Wild 94.9's morning show, denied the station's involvement and believes it was an inside job. "We're as surprised as anybody," Mata tells me. "We don't read Brad that much. We've heard that he wasn't too fond of our show." Kava isn't biting. "They say as long as they spell your name right, it's good press," Kava figures. "They paid more for that ad than what I made this week. They can take an ad out every day if they want."

Everybody's Smoking Cheeba

Congratulations to Palo Alto teen sensations and the latest band on Lookout!, the Donnas. Their full-length album will be released this coming January. You can see the group in San Francisco at the Bottom of the Hill on Thursday (Oct. 16), opening for the Hi-Fives and the Smugglers. ... Mocket, Northwest punk-pop stalwart on K. Records, performs at Stanford's White Plaza at noon on Thursday (Oct. 23). ... Suicidal Tendencies and Riff Raff are booked at the Usual on Oct. 25.

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From the Oct. 16-22, 1997 issue of Metro.

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