My newest record is out, from my new band MEET YOUR DEATH.
Fronted by national treasure Walter Daniels, with founding member of The Strange Boys and OBN IIIs Matt Hammer on drums, Hapal Assi of the Wiccans and Video on bass, and me on guitar, this is my first record with a full band since 2003.
You can order the album directly from 12XU by itself, in a package with new albums by our 12XU labelmates Musk and Manhunt, or together with Dead Mall Blues, the acoustic Walter/Schooley LP released by 12XU in 2015. The record is also available in finer retailers nationwide as of today.
Though a record that sounds like this is anathema to all that the average contemporary music writer in 2016 stands for, a few brave souls have stepped up to praise the Meet Your Death LP:
“If you want this Meet Your Death record to be the second coming of Jack O’ Fire, the unstoppable combo that frontman Walter Daniels coalesced with Tim Kerr and a handful of stalwarts in the ‘90s, then it shall be. Certainly this new ensemble follows the same approach – all covers, which Kerr took into his follow-up project, the Lord High Fixers – and the essence of the project is almost entirely intact, Meet Your Death veers away from punk to meta-punk, a very saucy but extremely compelling rolling blackout of corrosive slide guitar (thanks be to John Schooley), an in-the-pocket rhythm section of drummer Matt Hammer and bassist Harpal Assi, and Daniels tearing down the pulpit up front with his distinctively charismatic voice and harmonica talents.” – Still Single
“Daniels hollers righteous vocal fury, while huffing the harmonica into submission. Hell, he destroys it. It’s really good to see Daniels take the lead again, he’s been missed. Schooley kicks his legend up a notch, as well, burning tires into molten globs of gassed out napalm, deep dirty and delta seared, Goddam, brothers and sisters! Shout hallelujah!” – Outhouse Moon
“A rock-solid lineup, and it’s no surprise that they sound like a total force when they come together” – Brooklyn Vegan
“Superb…and undoubtedly one of the BEST REASONS TO WRITE A FUCKIN’ RECORD REVIEW IN 2016.” – Fuckin’ Record Reviews
“The best rock and roll album of the year?” – Living to Listen
You can even stream the entire LP via Impose Magazine.
Despite warnings that “much of the media/biz will instantly be turned off by any references to bands they don’t know or the general tone of ‘this stuff is great, fuck you for not agreeing'”, having spent my formative years reading promo copy from Tim Warren at Crypt and Larry Hardy at In the Red, I don’t know any other way to do it. It is fitting that the cover art (by Rob Jones) came out like a garish stab to the eyeballs.
We couldn’t even get the local pennysaver to cover our record release show, so I’m pretty sure ain’t nobody inviting Meet Your Death to play any Tiny Desk Concerts. It will be word of mouth among those who actually like rock n’ roll that will mean the difference between selling a few copies, or unsold boxes becoming doorstops in Cosloy manor. Anything you can do to spread the word is appreciated.
With the obligatory sales pitch out of the way, you might ask why I’m in a band again after over a decade of recording and performing as a solo act. Well, I gots my reasons. More than you wanna know below!
After our 2015 acoustic LP Dead Mall Blues, I knew that I wanted to record Walter playing in a nastier context. Combining virtuoso harmonica and punk rock as Walter does is not common. Even having recorded and performed with artists like the Oblivians, James Williamson, and Eugene Chadbourne, the degree of worldwide Walter awareness is still far too low. He’s what they call a “musician’s musician.” I’m no Alan Lomax but one must do what one can, so I wanted to document Walter fronting an evil rock n’ roll combo.
Playing in a band with other people sounded like fun since I haven’t done it in over a decade. Playing just guitar, without singing and playing drums at the same time, feels like a goddamn vacation after being a one man band for so long. Harpal and Matt are killer musicians, and a blast to play with.
Though of course he’s written a few songs, himself, Walter harks back to a lost art in rock n’ roll in that he is primarily an interpreter rather than a songwriter. Did anybody care if Jerry Lee Lewis didn’t write the bulk of his own material? The thing about being a stylist is that you need to have a recognizable musical style to pull it off, which Walter has, but that’s a rarity today.
I had the opportunity to be A&R man for Walter and match him up with material that I thought he could kill with. Here was my chance to play Mitch Miller to Walter’s Sinatra! I think we assembled an interesting collection of tunes. I tried to avoid anything tired that had been covered a million times, though I suppose I took for granted that people listening to a rock n’ roll record (let alone reviewing it) in 2016 would be familiar with Bo Diddley. We set the bar high by attempting songs by bands like the Beasts and Scientists, but rose to the challenge.
Artists like Alex Chilton, the Cramps, the Gun Club, the Lyres, or Jack O’ Fire were masters at covering songs and putting their own personal stamp on them, though they received little appreciation from rock critic types for doing so. While there has been a glut of tribute bands in Austin lately, there is a big difference between doing faithful renditions of well-known songs because nobody wants to hear your original material, and making a song you didn’t write your own. An idiosyncratic version of a well-chosen song is often more interesting than a derivative “original” to me.
“There’s only four stylists, and that’s Jerry Lee Lewis, Hank Williams, Al Jolson, and Jimmie Rodgers. Rest of ’em are just imitators.”
– Jerry Lee Lewis.
(I say we add Walter Daniels to this list.)
There aren’t a lot of bands out there right now making the kind of rock n’ roll that I need (and virtually nobody writing about it in the music blogiverse). Since nobody else was doing it, I had to do it myself. I wanted to make the kind of record that I would want to hear my ownself, even if I wasn’t playing on it. With records like the Musk and Manhunt LPs now coming out at the same time as Meet Your Death, maybe something is in the air.
If you somehow managed to find this blog and bothered to read all the way to the bottom of this page, you should be ordering the record, already.