Thursday, August 18, 2011

Interview with The White Trash Debutantes, The Phantom Ratio, Death On The Radio at The Redwood

Saturday, July 16th, White Trash Debutantes made a rare and much anticipated appearance at The Redwood Bar & Grill in downtown L.A. Supporting bands included: The Singing Knives, all the way out from Portland Oregon; L.A.'s own Death On The Radio and San Diego based power trio, The Phantom Ratio.

The show kicked off with psychedelic garage rock band The Singing Knives. While they were among the youngest to take stage, they seemed to bring some of the oldest style sound to the bill. No, this reviewer is not an ageist in real life, just making editorial conversation as they say. I caught influences of both The Band and The 13th Floor Elevators in songs such as, "Woke Up This Morning" and "Sweetheart I'm A Stranger." Worth checking out for psych-rock enthusiasts.

Next up was Death On The Radio, a self described tribal-horror-punk five piece ensemble. And yes, they really do require all those hyphens to adequately prepare the listener for their unique sound. Death On The Radio bring a solid mix of stage theatrics, dark wave and tribal drumming. The latter is due in large part to the fact that they have two drummers: Kevin Kutters, also of The Del Rottens, plays a full kit and Neili-A-Go-Go who plays African style hand drum. Neili actually traveled around the world studying African drumming and dance. Guitarist Mike Murder, formerly of The Black Heart Blisters and Evil is still in Friends You Can Kill plays in fast paced metal style and is likewise responsible for a chunk of DOTR's darkness. One wouldn't know by listening to them, but they've only been playing together for a little over a month.

This was the second time I've seen them play and was happily re-impressed with how tight they are, how well they interact on the stage and how cheerfully they explore dark themes. Bass player, Evil Powers formerly of Friends You Can Kill is a remarkable presence/musical machine. He strikes a statuesque stance on stage so one literally gets to see and hear him holding it all down. Visuals play an important role in DOTR's presentation and I can definitely see them developing their performance art angle further in time, which I look forward too. Highlights of DOTR's set were, "One Last Cigar," "Dead Again," "Bloody Fingers," "Elizabeth Bathory," (the 16th century Hungarian countess who was rumored to have bathed in the blood of virgins to maintain her youthful appearance. Oh, bourgeois excess!) and a phenomenal cover of The Talking Head's "Psycho Killer." Mary Powers aka, Bloody Mary has sung with Christian Death and a 14 piece hip-hop group called Candyman 187 & The Havenotz among others. She interjects gymnastics coupled with what I can only describe as silent film star mannerisms into her performance and is rather fond of running all about the room, an aspect that the crowd clearly enjoyed. Mary's vocal capacity is comparable to a combination of Pat Benatar and Kathleen Hanna. Her voice is a remarkably powerful instrument. I had a chance to ask Mary a couple of quick questions (I recently did an in depth interview with Mary Powers for the July issue of Punk Globe) after the show:

A.I.M.- Thanks again for another fun show. What might you have to say about Death On The Radio for those who haven't heard/seen what you do?

Mary Powers- We want only bring the best to our loyal and sexy fans. We've made our way to the street like some new designer drug. Once you get a little taste, you're supposed to want more. (laughs) But seriously, Mike, Neili and I were doing acoustic punk as The Modern End for a few months. We recently got Evil on bass and Kevin on traditional drums. Death On The Radio kinda just happened. Like when the student is ready, the teacher appears. We just came together.

A.I.M.- What was it like to share stage space with the White Trash Debutantes?

Mary Powers- Sharing the stage with the legendary Ginger Coyote and WTD was like eating the best piece of halloween candy ever! I was so thrilled and honored to be able to sing "Fuck Off" the band. Ginger Coyote and Chelsea Rose are dolls! Also, The Phantom Ratio were killer, we definitely look forward to seeing more of them and I enjoyed The Singing Knives.

It's refreshing to see bands that are so supportive of one another, this was a running theme throughout the evening with all sorts of love and appreciation freely flowing all over the place. DOTR have been playing a good deal in the past month, popping up on show bills throughout Southern California. I look forward to seeing more of them.

White Trash Debutantes took hold of the stage next and the excitement throughout the room was palpable. One of the most enjoyable aspects of going to shows is that particular of the shared experience when everyone in the room is awaiting the same band. The WTDs are one of my favorite bands and not only had I not seen them play in years. I was fortunate to have been able to see them play more times than I can count while living in San Francisco, but this was the first time I'd ever seen them play L.A. Their reception was fabulous. Every song they played turned into a sing a long. But then, this much was expected. I've never seen a WTD show go off otherwise. The WTDs are independent artists to the core. The Debs have been playing since the late 1980s and have definitely earned the reverence they are treated with. Frontwoman, Ginger Coyote is a punk rock icon. She's been an influential part of both the East and West coast punk communities since the inception, supporting local bands and live music initially with a periodical she started in the late 1970s called Punk Globe. Over the years she has managed to take a hand distributed xerox and glue stick fanzine to glossy cover magazine form to it's present incarnation as an online magazine with worldwide a readership. Ms. Coyote hasn't lost track of her D.I.Y. ethos, remaining an ardent supporter of the punk rock scene/new bands and independent music in general.

The White Trash Debutantes are: Ginger Coyote on lead vocals, Pauli Gray on guitars, Chelsea Rose on vocals, Amy Talaska on vocals, Karla "Khaos" McLeod on vocals, Mike McLeod on guitars, Aaron on bass and Eric "Stickbag" Borst on drums. They ripped through classics: "Punk Rock Republikkkan," "Crack Of The Whip," "Rudolph," "Superstar," "Dildos Are A Girl's Best Friend," delivering their patent combination of camp-punk peppered with liberal politics. Special guest Josie Cotton ( joined the Debs for an uptempo version of her classic, "Johnny Are You Queer." Completely Amazing.

They played for nearly an hour, finishing off their set with, "Hey Nick...You Did OK," "Susan Lucci," "Whipping Boy," a fabulous cover of "Time Warp," joined by a Captain Jack street performer who wouldn't take off his clothes because he had a girlfriend. Towards the end of the song, Ginger Coyote thanked him and remarked, "Next time take off your clothes!" The WTDs finished up with a cover of L7's "Shitlist" which Ginger Coyote dedicated "To everyone who hates Bernie Sanders" and an epic cover of Jayne County's "Fuck Off" wherein they were joined by Mary Powers. Ginger Coyote and The White Trash Debutantes were nothing short of phenomenal, par usual. I had a chance to shoot Ginger Coyote a few questions after the show:

A.I.M.- How did the White Trash Debutantes form?

Ginger Coyote- A group of us were getting bored of reading about Debutante Balls for wealthy young women being introduced to society. There had to be an alternative, thus The White Trash Debutantes. We've played a couple White Trash Debutantes Balls as well...proving that you can be a normal size and not have a whole lot of money to have fun. Society in general places way to much emphasis one being wealthy and thin. It's not normal or healthy. It is about time the middle class has a chance to shine.

A.I.M.- I would describe White Trash Debutantes' shows as campy, fun and politically conscious without beating people over the head with political rhetoric. Would you say this is true?

Ginger Coyote- I feel that comedy is the best platform to be political. Case in point, Tina Fey aping Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live. Tina and who ever else was writing the sketches really didn't have to elaborate because Sarah Palin actually says verbatim the majority of the material that was used. Having Palin come on the show was good. She was likely thinking that she was being clever and hip, while all along she was actually putting her foot further up her ass. Having McCain come on with Ms. Fey as Palin was hilarious. He was blatantly making fun of Palin and her lack of knowledge. I sincerely believe that America owes so much to Tina Fey and Saturday Night Live for making most of America wake up and realize what an idiot this person really is. Kathy Griffin also does a great job. Her cohort, Levi Johnson tries his best and he's a sport so I have to give him kudos. Kathy Griffin continually calls out the entire Palin family. On her show, Life On The D- List, she continually supports Human Rights. She has marched on Washington DC in support of GLBT, Women's Rights and is against the Oil War in the Middle East. Lisa Lampanelli taking on that right wing church in Kansas was wonderful. It makes one proud to be a Liberal. I hope Saturday Night Live has someone who can do Michelle Bachman. She is a total nut job. I love Bill Maher, he's so spot on. Rosie O Donnell is God! She's funny, talented and so right on with her politics. I love that Roseanne Barr is running for President. Legalize Weed and pardon Student Loans! Jeanine Garofalo and Al Franken were so refreshing with Air America. I absolutely worship Keith Olbermann and Joy Behar! Joy and Whoopi make The View worth watching. There are so many ways to incorporate comedy and politics. Bands like The Dicks, MDC, The Dead Kennedys, L7, Tribe 8, Cheetah Chrome, Jayne County, Rancid, DOA, Nirvana, The Breeders, Storm Large, Hole, The Ramones and the White Trash Debutantes are great examples of that.

A.I.M.- The Redwood show was so much fun. Were yo having fun up there?

Ginger Coyote- I had a great time it reminded me of a bar in San Francisco called The Blue Lamp on Geary Street. It was a small intimate club that would let you get wild. We played a couple great shows with The Insaints at The Blue Lamp. The late great Marian Anderson ripped that place apart. The PA at The Redwood was so-so. It was hard to hear on stage with just the two front monitors, but when you're having fun you don't let the sound get in your way. Also, the stellar support bands made the show even more fun! Brad Davidson and Phantom ratio were amazing. So tight for a three piece. Mary and Lee Powers with Death On The Radio were the best. They kicked some major booty. After seeing and hearing Mary Powers perform one stops and wonders just who is Adam Lambert anyway? Mary Powers was robbed!

A.I.M- How did you meet Josie Cotton?

Ginger Coyote- My dear friend Kathy Peck the former bass player for the San Francisco band The Contractions and the founder of H.E. A. R. (Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers) had been best pals with Josie in High School. They were Satan's Cheerleaders together. I also knew her ex husband Geza X. Gezahad produced many of the early Dead Kennedy's material. So Geza spent a lot of time in San Francisco. Josie and I met I believe at The Knitting Factory. We hit it off immediately and she asked me to be in her video "Maneaters Get Off The Road." It was a take off of the movie "She Devils On Motor Bikes" by HerschellGordon Lewis. It was a long day but alot of fun. We have worked on other projects together as well as being partners in fun and punk rawk. Josie also writes for Punk Globe the online magazine that I edit. We've become very good friends. I've also become very good pals with the gay rap band Elephant who is signed to Josie's label Scruffy Cat Records.

A.I.M- Can you tell us about how/why you started Punk Globe?

Ginger Coyote- I started it in print in 1978 while still in diapers. I was an infant hardly walking. I felt there was only one other 'zine in SF at the time. That was Search and Destroy and it was way too serious and elitist. It did not give a lot of bands support. People were complaining so I decided why not stat a magazine. Not only did I support the bands but I also talked about the people who came to the shows. All My Children was on forefront then so of course I had to include the soaps. Dorothy Lyman, who was the original Opal Gardner supported Punk Globe and spoke about it in other Magazines and on TV interviews after she won an Emmy Award. We had a bit of down time when I was touring with the band. About 7 years ago I started Punk Globe up again as an online magazine. Here is the address It covers everything from Soap Operas to Motorhead. I also show my immense admiration and respect for Bernie Sanders.

A.I.M.- I heard a rumor that your infamous dildo was kidnapped some time back. Can you tell the story?

Ginger Coyote- We played a show in San Francisco and Pauli Gray' s Dildo was lost at The Great American Music Hall. We searched in vain for that Dildo. This one was a double headed one. After nearly a month of looking we find out that a male friend of Pauli's had it at his apartment. Then last summer we played with the UK Subs in Marin County and MY dildo was missing. Naturally, I thought that perhaps Charlie Harper or Jaime Oliver the ultra hot drummer may have snatched it to remember me with. By the way, we got along great with them and had so much fun playing with them. But back to the kidnapping...We did post an Amber alert and out of the blue I get a message on My Space from a gal who bartends at the club in Marin County. She had my Dildo. She seemed so excited when we spoke on the phone. She said she was going to send it to me immediately. I even offered to send her shipping charges. Well, I never heard from her again. She never picked up her Cell. It is like she dropped off the face of the earth like Amelia Earhart. It was a big whoop with everyone was posting about it on Facebookand My Space. The UK Subs were also helping me get it back by making posts. Someone made a "Have You Seen Me" with a Dildo on a milk carton.

Finally, I spoke with Shelly who booked the show and she managed to retrieve it and sent it back.

A.I.M.- Thanks so much for answering all my questions and for putting on such a great show. Do you have any other L.A. gigs planned?

Ginger Coyote- We will be playing a Halloween Show on October 28th at The Blue Star in downtown LA. It has pretty good sound. My Birthday is October 18thso we will party. It's either going to be an all ages show or an 18+ plus show. Duchess Desade is playing I know and maybe Mary Powers of American Idol and her band Death On The Radio will also play. Only Beer and Wine served, but I will have my Jack. Hope to see YOU all there and remember "My Vagina Is 8 Miles Wide. Absolutely Everyone Can Come Inside and If You Get Scared You Can Run and Hide, Because My Vagina Is 8 Miles Wide... "

Thanks again to Ginger Coyote for taking the time to answer my questions.

San Diego based post punk trio, The Phantom Ratio, with Brad Davidson on bass/vocals, Jimi Flynn on drums and Eric Stene on guitar closed up the show. Lead singer and bassist, Brad Davidson is something of a punk rock icon in his own right having played bass in Oregonian punk band The Wipers and later with The Jesus and Mary Chain. Eric Stene is a long time contributer to the San Diego music scene having played in numerous bands from the early 1980s to present, most noteworthy post hardcore band Night Soil Man. Drummer Jimi Flynn has also been a long time contributor in the San Diego punk/hardcore scene playing in Ministry Of Truth and Eminence. All told, a ridiculous amount of talent and experience The Phantom Ratio.

This was the first I'd seen them play and was stoked to hear elements of one of my favorite punk bands of all time, The Wipers present in their distorted, bass driven sound. Also present were elements of the San Diego post hardcore music that I grew up with. Post punk is an accurate descriptor for these cats who express the classic ambiguity and dark humor in the lyrical content of songs like, "Screw Your Face Up," "Secret Invention," "God Told Me Too," "The Growth," and "Path Of Least Resistance." The Phantom Ratio has a distinct, cohesive sound earmarked by their stellar sludge driven breakdowns that I definitely look forward to hearing more of. Ginger Coyote just completed a more in depth interview w/ Brad Davidson. After the show I was able to ask him a few quick questions:

A.I.M.- Can you tell us about The Phantom Ratio?

Brad Davidson- Okay, Here Goes...Phantom Ratio is on an inadvertent, and yet earnest, valiant mission, to specify, illuminate and clarify the realization of substance over form, in layman's terms what this means is that by using scientifically designed sorcery and everyday psycho-neurological transformation systems and arcane mondoficationtechniques, we bring about the opening of ones mind to the very certain likelihood of a widespread acceptance by all and sundry concerned, that by specific unassuming characters,in the realms of Rock-Religio-Ritual, Without Trinkets and bobules, the seemingly impossible is achieved! Without inordinate, ornate plastic flashery and hip, right-on cool-ness. And to drive home the point that if you can't find your way around your own home in the dark, you can never expect to to achieve a zero gravity space sex orgasm.

A.I.M.- Ha! OK, so you were also in The Wipers back in the day too. How did you get hooked up with them?

Brad Davidson- I was blessed really. It was mainly providence on the part of Greg Sage as it certainly wasn't my crappy bass playing at the time. Greg and I had our mutualacquaintances and we just started jamming one day/night/whatever.

A.I.M.- Thanks for an excellent show and for answering my questions. Did you have fun tonight?

Brad Davidson- Yes. The White Trash Debutantes were great and Ginger, who I met through Greg in Portland was a scream. Chelsea and Amy were really hot as well. I really dug their cover of "Shitlist." Bloody Mary Powers from Death On The Radio was really cool. I'd particularly like to thank Ginger Coyote again, without whom we wouldn't have been there.

Thanks again to Ginger Coyote, Brad Davidson, and Bloody Mary Powers for answering my Qs and all the bands who came out and made a memorable evening, well, memorable.

Written and photographed by De Fen

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