Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Who Says It’s Greensboring, NC?: By Nancy “Suzy Q” Foster

Text by Nancy “Suzy Q” Foster / FFanzeen fanzine, 1981
Introduction © Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen blog, 2017
Images from the Internet

This article was originally printed in FFanzeen, issue #7, dated 1981. It was written by a woman of many names; back then she was Nancy Foster, or Nancy New Age, or Suzy Q. Today she goes by Nancy Neon.

Nancy grew up in Greensboro, NC. Even at a young age, she was a dedicated fan of music, and was an early member and President of the North Carolina Wayne Country Fan Club. When I met her in the late 1970s, she was running her own fanzine, New Age, before moving to New York City where we would oft meet up and attend shows at CBGB’s, and especially Max’s Kansas City. These days, Nancy calls Boston home, where she occasionally runs and books shows.
After a brief stint returning to NC in the early ‘80s, Nancy wanted to move back to New York, and I had the pleasure (not sarcasm) to drive down to Greensboro from Brooklyn, and spend a week there, before bringing her to the Rusty Apple. I had the opportunity to meet some of the people mentioned in this article, including Molly Polly Sexual, and others such as musician Lynn Blakey.

We often hung out at a now-gone club called Friday’s, where the bands ranged from amazing, to Talking Head wannabes. But the scene was actually quite vibrant, and these groups are the focus of this article. – RBF, 2017
Mike and Ron of Butchwax

My first memory of Butchwax was walking into Friday’s (the Max’s Kansas City of Greensboro) in September and hearing the real neat lead guitarist, Mike Dupree, singing Johnny Thunders’ “You Can’t Put Your Arm Around a Memory.” Instant love. If this can happen in Greensboring [sic], North Carolina, then there’s hope for the whole world, right?

Butchwax does rave-up versions of songs by the Dolls, Heartbreakers, Pistols, Cochran, Jayne County, the Angels, Shangri-Las, plus a whole set of great originals, like “Borderline, “ “Looking for an X,” and especially the pop masterpiece, “Innocence.”

In addition to Mike, who drums “Baby Talk,” “Chinese Rocks,” and the such at 78 rpm, and makes all the go-go dancers strip their gears, there’s Ritchie Clerk, a real bitch of a bass player who makes an art out of abusing the fans; Ron “Butch Modern” Taylor, a consummate rock’n’roll songwriter (thief?) and screamer who gets extra points for being the editor of the fab fanzine Modern World; and then there’s Mike Dupree, the lead player.

An extra added attraction/distraction is the gorgeous blonde rock'n’roll Jezebel, Polly Sexual, who distills her own absinthe, gets intoxicated on French symbolist literature, and dances with Arthur Rimbaud in the poppy fields. She sings lead vocals on “My Boyfriend’s Back,” “Jeepster,” etc., and does a lot of hip shaking and heartbreaking.

I’m counting the days until I can get rocked/racked by Butchwax-mania again. Till then, this interview, done December 20, 1980, after their set at Friday’s, will have to do.

Mike Dupree: The last interview we did, I answered every question with “I’m hungry!”

FFanzeen: Are you hungry now? Where do you like to eat after the show? IHOP?
Mike: I like to go to my friend’s house and eat spaghetti at three o’clock in the morning.
Ron: Is there a Dave’s Diner around?
Mike: We stopped at this place between Asheboro and Silver City called Dave’s Diner. It was fantastic! Are you recording this?

FFanzeen: Yes. When did the group first get together?
Mike: Late 1976. First, it was Ron and Nick (Nasty), this guy we worked with. Then I started playing with them, too. Then, we got a whole bunch of weird drummers who played boxes instead of drums – whatever we had available. Our first drummer was pretty good, but we couldn’t get along with him because he was an asshole.

FFanzeen: Are you all from North Carolina?
Mike: Ritchie was born in Alabama, but he’s from Atlanta.
Ron: Mike’s from Tarboro.
Mike: No, (Ron’s) from Little Washington, and I’m from Raleigh.

FFanzeen: Who are your musical influences as a guitar player? That’s obvious, though.
Mike: Johnny Thunders, Steve Jones, Eddie Cochran, and Chuck Berry.
Fan 1: You guys were fantastic. Please shake my hand?

FFanzeen: Love, peace, and soul! [laughter] This is a crazy question: Isn’t playing hardcore rock’n’roll in North Carolina like being a martyr?
Mike: Here’s a Butch Modern quote: “Nobody who was hardcore in rock’n’roll every made money. Period.”
Malcolm Rivera (Butchwax Manager): You’d better ask more questions or they’ll smash your tape recorder.

FFanzeen: I’m gonna leave!
Fan 2: I could sell that tape recorder and replace some of the money I spent on drugs.

FFanzeen: A pal of mine said if he lived in Greensboring [sic], he’d have to become a sex pervert or junkie. Are you sex perverts and/or junkies?
Mike: I’m not a junkie…yet.

FFanzeen: An apprentice junkie. How hard is it to get smack in North Carolina [the crowd begins yelling and cursing about the lack of previously mentioned brain damage]?
Mike: It’s hard to get good stuff.
Fan 3: You know, I’m in love with Johnny Thunders.
Fan 4: He can’t fuck anymore. Who wants him?
Ron: I hear Little Washington is the place to get it.

FFanzeen: What, drugs or Johnny Thunders? What do you think about when you’re onstage?
Mike: Usually the little girls in the audience.
Ron: Yeah, the girls with the long legs!

FFanzeen: Describe your ideal girl.
Mike: Between 16 and 40. Between 5- and 6-foot tall. Between 90 and 130 pounds. She has to have either blonde, red, brown or black hair…

FFanzeen: Tell me your idea of a dream date.
Ron: Amanda Lear [artist/singer-songwriter/actress/model from France – RBF, 2017]
Mike: I don’t think I can answer that.
Ron: Brenda Lee at 15.

FFanzeen: What’s your favorite disease?
Ron: Anorexia nervosa; herpes simplex.

FFanzeen: Has the audience ever become violent other than tonight? [People were getting thrown across the dance floor – NF, 1981.]
Mike: You should’ve seen ‘em in Charlotte. Two guys kept being thrown onstage. One got thrown into Ron and almost knocked Ron into the drums. One guy was standing up front with his fingers up his nose, (then) holding his finger up to me.

FFanzeen: When and why did you start doing your fanzine, Modern World?
Ron: Right out of boredom. The first issue was supposed to come out in October of 1978, but never came out until June of 1979.

FFanzeen: That’s the story of publishing fanzines. I’ve been doing it over five years, so I know. How much money have you lost so far? [laughter]
Ron: About 3- or 400 dollars.
Mike: Most of them were given away instead of bought.

FFanzeen: Is your manager trying to book you in New York City?
Ron: We’re not sure that he’s doing anything.
Mike: Richmond, then D.C., then maybe New York City after that.

FFanzeen: Where’s the farthest you’ve traveled to do a show?
Mike: Charlotte
Fan 6: Y’all made 160? They had a redneck band that played here and made 700!

FFanzeen: Which was the first record that got you interesting in rock’n’roll?
Ron: Meet the Beatles. I listened to my parent’s C&W records, like Hank Snow’s Movin’ On. The first record I remember getting excited about was “Baby Sit and Boogie,” by Buzz Clifford. [laughter]

FFanzeen: What’s your fave song to perform?
Ron: One of our own, but it varies as to which one.

FFanzeen: I love “Innocence.” That should be a single.
Ron: When it goes well.
Mike: “Chatterbox” is the most fun for me to play.

FFanzeen: Have you done any recording? Any plans for a single?
Ron: We’ve had plans for a single before we completed the group!

FFanzeen: Who do you think is the best dresser in rock’n’roll?
Mike: Wendy Williams.
Ron: Eno.

FFanzeen: What kind of groupie do you attract?
Mike: Do we attract girl fans? I thought we attracted guys!
Ron: When we get one, we’ll let you know.

FFanzeen: How would you describe your following?
Ron: Nonexistent.
Mike: Small.

FFanzeen: Who do you think is better – Th’Cigaretz or Butchwax?
Ron: We are.
Mike: Even Flipside said that. I doubt Mouth of the Rat would agree with that. They said Th’Cigaretz are North Carolina’s answer to God.
Ron: We’re North Carolina’s answer to Satan.

FFanzeen: If you could invite anyone in the whole wide world to dinner, who would it be?
Fan 5: Iggy Pop!
Ron: The Shangri-Las
Mike: I’m still trying to think of the girl I’d most like to have for dinner.
Ron: The girl with the longest legs.

FFanzeen: What three things would you take to a desert island?
Mike: Heroin, coke, and pot.

FFanzeen: No girl? Just drugs?
Mike: Well, you said things. Are girls things?

FFanzeen: Yeah!
Mike: Three girls, then.

FFanzeen: The Shangri-Las.
Ron: The three girls with the longest legs and the biggest tits.

* * *

It is Saturday morning and I feel great, because I saw Crash Landon and the Kamikazes last night.

When I heard they were 14-16 year-old boys, I knew I would be there with bells on. There’s a soft spot in my heart for underage rock'n’rollers. Something about living on pinball and wet dreams really inspires ballsy, thrilling rock’n’roll that older guys who have numbed their brains with too much drugs and mediocre sex cannot muster.

The second they started blasting their hardcore, purist rock’n’roll, the dance floor was packed with bodies jerking in convulsions like they were rocked with tarantism. All of the songs were riotous – the Rolling Stones’ “Fortune Teller,” the Monkees’ “Let’s Dance On,” Syndicate of Sound’s “Little Girl,” rock’n’roll classics like “Money (That’s What I Want)” and “Poison Ivy” (which was really humpy, like a mating dance), plus great originals bursting with power.

It’s all teenage dance/romance/sex anthems. “Let’s Dance On” was a rave. Most people find the Monkees uncool, but you have to be really cool to know how cool the Monkees are. Crash Landon and the Kamikazes are ultra cool!

“Little Girl” was outrageous with the Byrds-like jangling, agitated guitar sounds. Plus, it’s a great breakup up ain’t hard to do song, which has special meaning for me, as I wiped my slate clean for 1981.

These guys are fabulous and it’s really inspiring to see kids with their hearts and heads in the right place – not into Billy Joel, Queen, etc. After their intense set, I went outside (despite the cold and walking pneumonia), and began to praise the group to the rhythm guitarist.

The first words out of his mouth were, “Do you like the New York Dolls?” Sigh! Only to be 10 years younger! I know I had found a kindred spirit. We talked about the Heartbreakers. His name is John and he really digs Johnny Thunders. Merde! He must be all of 13 or 14 years old! [NOTE: Cult musician John Dexter Romweber would go on to be the lead of the Flat Duo Jets, and have a documentary made about him called Dexter Romweber: Two-Headed Cow (reviewed by me HERE). This may be the first article published to ever mention any of his bands. Thank you, Nancy! – RBF, 2017] 

I told John that they would do great at Max’s Kansas City, where the kids would shove the tables aside and dance up a storm like that it did for the teenage group, Nastyfacts. Then I spent the rest of the night in a booth talking to the lead singer, who told me more about psychedelic music than I have ever heard from any of my contemporaries.

These guys are the best. They know and love their rock’n’roll and play it with incredible energy and enthusiasm. They are the hottest things in North Carolina, along with Butchwax and the Orphans. I hope they stay “crazy kids”/rock’n’roll teenagers forever!

* * *

The Orphans are proof in the flesh that what I said about one-horse towns is true: that it is great to live in Greensboro because it is so far behind the times that punk is still new and fun. I am not ready for punk to be passé. The Orphans are the only true punk band I have seen in North Carolina, except for the short-lived Leeches, whose members (except me) were only doing it as a joke on the easily shocked provincials.

Yet the Orphans mean it, man! The difference between the Orphans and Crash Landon and the Kamikazes is the difference between late ‘70s punk and ‘60s punk. The Kamikazes are more old school-type rock’n’roll. Whereas, the Orphans play with that ‘70s punk buzzsaw fervor and with teenage anguish in their lyrics.

At the Orphans’ gig, I danced straight through three sets, except for one song, during which I was goo-gaaing at the group’s sartorial finesse. At the end of the show, I was joshing with them, saying how another local writer, Also Aswell and I were going to give them the “Best Dressed Band” award.

The other guitarist is the wildest, having an affinity for chasing into the walls, despite dressing elegantly a la the Jam. The drummer adds that emphatic punch and inspires a lot of headbanging. The Orphans made my head spin from so much dancing and excitement. Mike’s guitar hits you right in the guts (and lower – oops!). So great it hurts: pleasure/pain.

They do covers of the Sex Pistols, the Jam, Clash, Generation X, Undertones, Ramones, Dead Boys, etc., but their originals, like “Boredom” and “TV” prove that they can write hardcore rock’n’roll, as well as introducing punk classics to the unenlightened yokels. “I Love You” is a beautiful heartthrob song with Mike singing in a gorgeous, Anglo-style pop voice. The Orphans are from Charlotte, about 85 miles away, and I have a feeling that I will be getting acquainted with Greyhound very soon.

1 comment:

  1. I used to go to the Milestone and Friday's when I was 16 and saw both these bands and more. Thanks