Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Voice Of Man Who Took Wheelchair - Metallica Party Live, 1998

Vinny: Napalm Hearts was easily the worst band I have ever played in... sure was fun, though!

Joe: Worst?! You crazy. I've been in much worse bands than Napalm Hearts. I think maybe all of my bands have been worse than Napalm Hearts. I still think that Voice of Man Who Took Wheelchair is a much better name, though. That's the name of the band I was playing in.

Chris: After the anticlimactic flameout of The Hick-Ups I wanted my next band (whatever it was) to be called "Napalm Hearts," from the Iggy and the Stooges song "Search and Destroy" : "I'm a streetwalkin’ cheetah with a heart full of napalm... I'm the runaway son of a nuclear A-Bomb... I am the world's forgotten boy, the one who searches and destroys." Pretty exciting, thankfully I never got it tattooed on my forehead like they do these days- there have been at least two other lousy bands since then who took their names from those lines. Regardless, by the time we played this, our only show, we were definitely called VOICE OF MAN WHO TOOK WHEELCHAIR.

Joe: We were in the Canary House, watching TV with the sound down (because we're so fuckin' cool). Some sort of news interview show was on. On the screen pops up stock video of a tape recorder rolling and the caption, "Voice of Man who Took Wheelchair." We didn't bother to turn the sound up, because, again, we're so fuckin' cool. So I have no idea what the show was about. We decided to name the band after it. Then, later, someone decided -- incorrectly -- that Napalm Hearts was a better name. I have no further information.

Chris: Joe is right and describes the image on the screen perfectly. It was either on the consistently entertaining South Bend local evening news (I still have hours of VHS recordings) or CrimeStoppers (“It works!”), I cannot remember which.

But before TV gifted us I had told someone we were going to be called the Napalm Hearts. They made a flyer for a show with that name on it, not knowing that in the meantime we had come up with the best band name of all time. The inscrutability of this flyer is itself of note-- the party was called a "Metallica Fete" for no apparent reason, particularly since the photo used was of Joan Jett(?!?!). This was before text messaging or the telephone, so information travelled very slowly.

Ultimately it is really best if we only call it VOICE OF MAN WHO TOOK WHEELCHAIR. The Napalm Hearts existed only in the bent, unhipped mind of the person who made that flyer.

(...and thus ends discussion of the most interesting aspect of this band).

Joe: Well, listening to the recording the title of the blog post must be either "That's fuckin' right goddammit!" or "All right, ladies and fuckers!"

Chris: Yeah I am listening to this again. What a band! The power... the fury! As I make sure to say at the beginning, this was the first band in which I ever played guitar. I think I wrote a couple songs on the guitar, had Joe solo over the whole thing and told Vinny to play as fast as possible. Joe had some folky things he written already and I tried to find things to play over that. Sometimes when we were sitting around the house watching TV with the sound turned off Vinny and I used to play The Poorly Rendered Folk Blues, so it was very convenient, if cognitively inconsistent, to perform these things as one band.

OK... the songs:

"I Don't Wanna Fuckin Talk to You" - Too bad we started with the best song. We should have played this one again at the end. Oh my god, is that Allison Wolfe from Bratmobile on guest vocals?!? No, it is Kristi from The Go-Lightly's. Hey that sounds pretty good.... to poop on!!

The name of the second song is "Lo! This... is a Bullfight!" Another non-sequiter from television. Joe thought this was a hilarious name for a song and I had some music so you can send us each a Grammy thank you very much.

"Locket Rocket" - this is our attempt to play "Locket Love" by the Ramones, but we couldn’t do it, so we made up our own song with some of the parts. A few months later I really perfected this song by mixing it with a Prince tune in another band in San Francisco that never played live, so this is a real treat for you completists.

Joe: None of this explains why I played that lame fingerstyle thing in the middle of our god damn rock show! God damn! Why didn't someone talk me down? Or (I gasp at the implications) did someone put me up to it?!?

SBP90s: I was wondering about that, it seemed like an odd interlude given the context. Maybe the other guys just needed refills from the keg.

Chris: Indeed, after a Ramones ripoff, I can’t think of a better time to throw in a long instrumental called "Hegel's Aesthetic." Hey brother, that was your bag, who were we to bum your trip? You were just doing your thing, maaaaaaan.

Actually, it was a bit insensitive you didn't notice how miffed Vinny was he didn't get to show the contents of his bag (15 minute hand drum solo).

It reminds me of the movie A Mighty Wind. At the end when the Folksmen are filling air time while the producers try to find Eugene Levy's MIA character, they display their tendency to take themselves way too seriously by following the ridiculously corny and upbeat audience participation song "Barnyard Symphony" with a dirge "The Skeletons of Quinto." Harry Shearer's character indulges in a drawn out introduction contextualizing what they are about to play: "In the Late 1930s of the last century, Spain was wracked by civil war blah blah blah" and everyone in the audience is looking at him like "Play another one where we can make a MOOOO sound like a cow!!"

In any case the dialogue throughout this recording is funny. When we cut him off Joe kind of mumbles "That was the first third of Hegel's Aesthetic...”

Joe: Its full name is "Hegel's Aesthetic in G." Because it is in G. Which still doesn't explain who thought it was a good idea to play it.

Chris: We needed material!

"Wild Thing" - So I thought this was the end of college, big party, one-off band, we should play dance songs! Once this groove was established we thought it would be funny to get someone in the audience to sing “Wild Thing” by the Troggs, you know like the classic party anthem type thing. Except once we had someone up there we would play it like Trio or the Shaggs, just rip anything that could have been groovy right out of the song. The problem is no one volunteered. I mean, who doesn’t know the words to “Wild Thing??” (Answer: a room full of Notre Dame students). So someone volunteered John Huston (whose band The Transoms came up next) who was the perfect victim for this poorly executed prank.

John Huston: Dude, I still have nightmares about that. It was clearly a joke, but I for the life of me had no idea what that joke was. I was game to play along, but wouldn't have known how. I felt like I had water in my brain. And you wouldn't give me any clues. You just kept yelling at/about me into the microphone. Is that the song where you wrapped four of your guitar strings with a dollar bill? Then asked me to strum it? It's fucking David Lynchian.

Chris: Listening to it now... "John, you have to take your shirt off if you're going to do this."

"Our Satan is Better Than Your Satan" - Pretty sure Joe made up that name on the spot. I think this was supposed to be like a Jon Spencer Blues Explosion type of dance tune thing. At the end someone says "What was that?" and we say "It's fucking rock, girl!" Well alright.

"Hoedown" - An itty bitty titty ditty Joe wrote with me hitting the strings of my guitar with a metal coat hanger to make that irritating syncopated sound you hear. Incidentally, that guitar (a collectible 1976 Ibanez Hummingbird “Lawsuit” Les Paul copy) was purchased from a Mishawaka pawn shop with 100% credit from useless CD singles stolen from WVFI. Later I was pissed when I realized I had ruined the finish by hitting it with that coat hanger. It was later stolen from the back of a car in San Francisco's colorful Tenderloin district. I could go on?

Well, I wish we had more songs, it sounds like that was fun. People seemed into it. I do remember Vinny was totally embarrassed, he truly thought this was going to ruin his reputation as a musician. He closes this recording sadly, reluctantly, confusedly talking to no one in particular: "Thanks for being open minded and shit man, that's badass..."

Well put.

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