O H N N Y A N D T H E B I G P R A I R I E F I R E
Produced at TITICACAMAN Studios (1979-2012)
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$10 (US dollars) Includes shipping & handling
To hear samples and BUY go to CD Baby The Assholes or iTunes
37 tracks in all. Buy directly from the artist by clicking the link above and your physical copy comes with paper flag and match to boot!
"Imagine finding a box of childhood things in the attic, all dusty and forlorn. Then discovering that, despite your intention to sift through everything expecting to find nothing which shouldn't be thrown out, every item is a rediscovered treasure, and all you have to throw out is the years between their sentence to 'The Box' and their liberation to a second life. That's what this feels like - in more ways than one....."
Antony Burnham (Metamorphic Journeyman)
Curtis Glatter (San Diego New Music Newsletter)
"Like watching a car wreck it is fascinating and hypnotic. The songs have that free spirited punk feel, lofi garage, and the surrounding material has been selected combined edited and inserted with the sure hand of a skilled musico-artistic adult."
Jeremy Keens (Ampersand Etcetera)
"Having enjoyed sound artist Marcelo Radulovich's Accretions label CD's, hearing this much earlier work from his teenage years as a budding artist was an interesting listening experience. Based in Fresno, California, The Assholes were a quartet of Radulovich, Joel Smith, Christopher Stephens and Christian Sondergard. The CD consists of the music and sounds The Assholes recorded between 1979 and 1982 on low grade analog cassette recorders, but "sprinkled on top", as Marcelo's web site says, are samples of more recent recordings made on DAT. The result is a hodgepodge collage of samples and riotous music of all manner of styles. When The Assholes get down to playing we hear wild gloms of punk/thrash/free-improv mania. The promo sheet states that the band was inspired by stoner rock, British punk and California hardcore, though I have to believe that The Residents and/or Faust made their way to these guys turntables at some point.
This is raw stuff indeed. But there are lots of good ideas that are fleshed out and mangled quite nicely, especially when you consider that it was recorded over 20 years ago by a bunch of teenagers flexing their creative muscles. And even amidst the most chaotic moments there is some damn fine guitar work. These guys did an impressive job in the cut n splice room, blending and morphing the various music, samples and live bits together to create a listening experience that is an aural roller coaster ride that deliberately hurtles from the track and crashes into the ferris wheel. (Though it may be that much of the splicing and dicing of tapes was part of the work done more recently.)
The Assholes blaze through a parade of music and themes... screaming punk rock, experimental
free-improv, sound art collages, loads of crazed and efx'd voice samples, spacey ambient and
experimental electronic bits, and oodles of fun. (I won't even try to describe it but I love
the bunny rabbits song too much not to mention it.) Overall, a fun listen for sound art fans
that fondly recall their days of punk and general musical anarchy. I also got a kick out of
reading that The Assholes only played one public performance, opening for Black Flag. They were
supposed to play a second gig opening for Flipper but had to cancel because the show was in San
Francisco and none of the members was yet old enough to drive."
Fresno isn't known for much and what it is known for isn't good. In 1979,
when the Assholes formed as 15-year olds, the city was constantly being
touted as one of America's most violent with a per-capita murder rate almost
as high as Detroit or New York. Culturally, the place was already dead. This
was the backwater that served as a backdrop to the Assholes' sound.
Inspired first by stoner rock, British punk and California hardcore, the Assholes got it in their heads that what was missing from music was "true anarchy." Why didn't people just pick up anything handy and start playing? Why was it that one person was limited to one instrument? Why did guitars always have to be tuned the same way? Why couldn't all of the many and varied strains of music be united into a single glorious mess? Technically incompetent, hopelessly adolescent, completely honest - that was the Assholes.
The band's one and only public performance, at an old ballroom across the street from the city zoo, was as opening act for Black Flag. Greg Ginn and Co. made it through the night without a hitch. The Assholes, having failed to make friends with the crowd, were escorted off the stage. ("Eat my fuck" was one of the memorable phrases that came up after the audience was invited to participate in the melee.) A later performance in San Francisco, with Flipper, was canceled because none of the Assholes was yet old enough to drive.
Johnny and the Big Prairie Fire is a swirl of sounds assembled from the original Assholes' cassette archive, their two live performances (the second was given in 2001 at a restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico) and several recent collaborations. Included also is "Thrash," a response to the faster-louder ethic of the day, which, at 0.674 seconds, is surely the shortest pop song ever recorded. The whole hodgepodge is, more or less, unique, but not always easy listening.
Thank you for your kind attention.
E M B E R P R O F I L E S :
Joel Smith (Everett E. Harton)
Christopher Stephens (Measlee Beef)