welcome to the abyss

Category: Post-Punk

Guy Putting on Cruel World is Anti–LGBTQ

Everybody is losing their minds over this festival. It’s the culmination of all of the 80’s worshipping that has been going on for the last ten plus years in society. The fact that PiL and Morrissey are on the bill has scared some people off of it, but there is a HUGE issue going on behind the scene that is even more heinous. Philip Anschutz, the man putting this show on, has been donating money to anti-LGBTQ causes: Alliance Defending Freedom, the National Christian Foundation, and the Family Research Council.

The Washington Post broke this story about five years ago, and the Daily Beast three years ago also wrote about it. The Daily Beast story is damning and really dives deep into the issue. When confronted Anschutz claimed that he didn’t know about his money funding those groups and that he would end it. He stated that his company was diverse and that he is for equal rights. Then a year or two after that it was found out, through his tax filings, that he had indeed stopped donating to those three anti-LGBTQ groups. However, he was now donating his money to two other equally problemic groups Dare 2 Share Ministries and Young Life, a youth ministry. On top of that he has been donating millions to conservative and libertarian groups, including ones linked to the Koch family.

I am really disappointed that some groups that I love are playing this show. I won’t stop listening to them, but it makes me wonder whether they actually do care about LGBTQ rights or not. The same thing can be said for all of the people planning to go to this. I think it’s highly hypocritical to go to this while also supporting LGBTQ rights, because they are handing a wad of cash to a man who has been proven to not give a shit about LGBTQ folks. I’m going to give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to this because I know that not everybody has heard about it. However, if they learn about this and still go then I will be questioning who they really are.

The Reasons Why The 80’s Actually Kind Of Sucked

Within the last few years there has been a resurgence of interest in anything having to do with the 80’s. Everything from endless posts about mediocre 80’s ‘post-punk’ bands to people asking questions as to how to directly copy the look of ‘trad’ goths litter the internet. Then there are the truly special individuals who constantly talk about how cool the decade was and how they wish they could have lived back then. They should never wish that. You want to know why? Because for the most part the 80’s was a hellish landscape of conservative neo-liberal politics mixed in with a highly conformist society that punished those who were in any way different.

I was a teen in the 80’s and graduated high school in 1989, so I spent pretty much the entirety of my teen years in that decade. I was very politically aware during that time and paid attention to the world events going on around me. For example, I went on a trip with some classmates to Washington DC in late 87 that was called Close Up. Teens from all over the US go every year to learn about politics. You get to meet your representatives and talk about important issues with others. We got enough free time to wander about the area exploring and one day two friends and I were walking near the Capital Building when a motorcade appeared. During that week Soviet officials were there to draw up the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty along with officials from Reagan’s cabinet which included the Secretary Of State George Shultz. I hated, and still hate, Reagan with the burning heat of a thousand suns so I was obviously not a fan of anybody serving under him. The first limos going past us had Soviet flags attached to the front, rolled down windows and Soviet guys waving at us with smiles on their faces. Seriously, it was as cool as it sounds. We smiled and waved back of course. Then the limos infested with the lice off of Reagan’s head rolled by and not one of them rolled down their windows. However, it was easy to see through the tint that one of them contained Shultz. I started yelling to him that he sucked and gave him the finger with both hands. Yes, I told a high ranking US official to basically go fuck himself. My friends were panicking telling me to stop but I wouldn’t. To this day I am still proud that at the age of 16 I had the balls to do something like that.

Now that you have learned a little bit about me I will now tell you a little bit about what it was really like to live in the 80’s.

THE COLD WAR AND THE CONSTANT FEAR OF NUCLEAR ANNIHILATION

I don’t think that younger people right now quite realize just how close we came to all being killed in a nuclear war. This fear was largely due to the constant posturing of Reagan. He would call the USSR the evil empire and threaten them on a very regular basis. Frankly I was way more afraid of Reagan back then than I was of the USSR. To the credit of the USSR back then they didn’t give in to Reagan and start a war. I honestly think the professional war mongerers who stood behind Reagan wanted an all out war with the USSR because they would have made billions from that. Both empires fought a proxy war in Afghanistan when the USSR invaded the country while the US backed and trained the rebels. By the way one of those rebels was Osama Bin Laden.

Scene from the UK film Threads.

Nuclear war was such a possibility at the time that two powerful tv films were made about it happening. Threads in the UK and The Day After in the US. Since I was living in the US at the time I saw The Day After when it was first aired in 1983 when I was in the 7th grade. It freaked my friends and I out so much that we went to our vice principal and asked about whether the school had a nuclear fallout shelter. Think about that for a second. Imagine being a young teen and having that kind of fear hanging over your head on a constant basis. It sucked. A few years ago I finally saw Threads and it shows the reality of a nuclear war; people being burned alive and the unsanitized reality of what would happen after a nuclear conflagration. If I had seen it back in the 80’s I would have had full blown nightmares.

IF YOU WERE IN ANY WAY ‘DIFFERENT’ YOU GOT CONSTANTLY SHIT ON AND CONFORMITY WAS A WAY OF LIFE

I always see younger people in online goth communities say that they wished that they could have experienced an ‘alternative’ subculture back in the 80’s. With confidence I can say that the vast majority of them wouldn’t have been emotionally equipped to have handled all of the shit that they would have gotten from others. It wasn’t just the ‘normal’ people that you had to deal with back then, you also had to deal with intense pressure within the alternative community to fit in by liking the same bands and behaving the same way. Woe onto you if you actually acted happy or liked a band that wasn’t considered cool. People think that ‘gatekeeping’ is bad now? They have no idea.

Jello even wrote a song about the pervasive conformity.

There was a huge amount of pressure back then by society to fit in. Reagan constantly preached about how America was better in the good old days, which were actually not good for anybody who wasn’t wealthy and white. If you didn’t go along with his not so hidden racist agenda you were seen as unpatriotic and a traitor. I am not exaggerating. You had to hate the USSR, be scared of black people, and look just like everybody else. If you didn’t have a perm, didn’t dress in the trendiest clothes and didn’t listen to the latest pop bands you didn’t fit in so you were considered fair game to tease and even physically attack. Luckily I was never physically attacked but I know that lots of people were. Far more violence happened back then than now. However, I had things yelled at me on a constant basis, for doing such things as simply walking down a street. In high school I was even told by a teacher that I wouldn’t have as many problems if I just dressed like everybody else.

IT WAS DIFFICULT AS HELL FINDING OUT ABOUT BANDS AND SHOWS

There was no functioning internet back in the 80’s. There were some bulletin board type communities but computers were expensive as hell so most people did not have them. There were thee ways of finding out about bands back then. You could be one of those lucky people that lived near a radio station that actually played alternative and punk music. These were usually college radio stations, but sometimes pop stations would play less popular music in the the middle of the night. There was a pop station in my area that did this. So much so that by the very late 80’s they became an ‘alternative’ station. However, by that time they played more radio friendly bands than experimental ones. However, I did learn about some bands by listening to them. Another way to learn about bands was by getting mix tapes from your friends. In early 86 I got one from a guy, who then ghosted me. There was no track listing written down so it took me literally years to figure some of them out. However, I had another person introduce me to Joy Division by handing me a tape with Unknown Pleasures on one side and Closer on the other. The last way to find out about music was by cold buying it. You would see somebody cool wearing a mysterious band shirt and you kept a log of those band names in the back of your head. I actually cold bought November Coming Fire by Samhain using this method, and more times than not I had really good luck.

You probably wouldn’t know who this band was back then if you had been around.

On top of all of this there was a code of silence that the uber goober type people would pull when you would ask them about what bands they liked. Seriously. There was some sort of strange code that some weirdos lived by that made it very uncool to share musical knowledge with anybody. It was as if they were going to be killed by an evil cabal if they dared to utter the sacred names of bands. These were the same types who would try to dictate how you behaved in clubs.

Wanted to see your favourite band play a show? Good luck! Most of the time the only way you would find out about shows was at club nights, but if you were under 18, and sometimes 21, you weren’t allowed in them. I actually went to one that let you in of you were 17 or older and another that was all ages so I was lucky when it came to that. However, that didn’t mean you would find out about all of the shows because venues were usually total shit at advertising shows unless they were some of the better known ones that also hosted metal shows. There were some ‘alternative’ weekly papers where I lived so I would find out about some of them that way, but there were two times that I accidentally saw bands because I thought it was going to be a regular club night. I saw Meat Beat Manifesto and The Call that way which looking back on it was pretty darn cool.

Well, that’s it for today. I realise that I have probably broken some hearts and crushed some dreams but the amount of misinformation about the 80’s really needs to be balanced out with a reality check. I don’t look back at that decade with rose coloured glasses, even though I lived through those years. It could be fun, but it was also really difficult. If I had the ability to go back in time to those years I wouldn’t.

Albums That Shaped Me: U2 – The Unforgettable Fire (1984)

The album that lead me down a cool weird path.

Before I begin I would like to state for the record that I know that Bono is an immense egomaniac and that the band hasn’t made a really good album since the 80’s. I only like their music up to and including this album so I am not one of those modern delusional U2 fans who think they can do no wrong.

I’m pretty sure I bought the cassette of this album in late 1985. It was before Joshua Tree was released and before I transferred high schools so it kind of had to have been that specific year. None of the friends that I had at that first high school liked them so I kind of got into them on my own. I remember hearing New Year’s Day on the radio a few years before and seeing that video on MTV as a young teen. By the time the song Pride, which is on this album, came out they were already on my radar and I decided to take the plunge and buy one of their albums. Thank you mom for giving me the money to buy this!

I can in no way overstate how important this album is to me, because it lead me into liking other bands. I remember reading somewhere about members of The Virgin Prunes growing up with the members of U2. So, I bought one of their albums and instantly got hooked. That in turn made me more open towards other ‘weirdo’ bands like Specimen. Also, I got into a lot of Irish post-punk bands, such as Blue In Heaven, that all had connections with one another or with U2.

So musically what makes this album so darn special? The entire album has a very haunting quality to it. There were hints of this on some of their earlier albums, such as New Year’s Day on War, but they went full force into it on this one. I think the pinnacle of this style on the album is the song The Unforgettable Fire. It’s my all time favourite U2 song and it still gives me major goosebumps.

I know that it’s really ‘in’ to hate all of U2’s work these days, which I think is a shame. Their first five albums are post-punk perfection. If it wasn’t for this album I wouldn’t be the mildly dramatic weirdo that I am today. It made me evolve my musical tastes and widen my horizons.

Goth Music Is Undead And Here Is A List Of Newer Bands To Prove It Part 2

I Ya Toyah, a one woman force of nature.

A while back I listed some of the newer goth type bands that I found to be interesting. There are so many good bands coming out with excellent music right now that this second list really needed to be made. This time I am also including electronic/industrial bands. They may not be strictly goth but they are definitely goth adjacent. These bands are not in any particular order. All links will take you to the relevant Bandcamp page. Bandcamp Friday is on March the 5th, a day in which 100% of the sale of music and merchandise goes to the bands.

Jay Draper And The Subterraneans This is a hybrid band that contains elements of goth rock, darkwave and post-punk. I love the the soaring vocals, they are very distinctive.

The Last Of Us They play very heavy traditional goth rock, but with a feel of urgency. Keyboards are artfully added for atmosphere. Reminds me of Fields Of The Nephilim crossed with early Danzig because their music has a slightly sinister feel to it.

Corlyx Post-punk meets darkwave. This is a hybrid band that makes some very danceable tunes.

Stoneburner Steven Archer’s solo project that is at once industrial and electronic with other bits tossed together to make for some very interesting sounding music.

Dead Cool They don’t have a lot of music out yet, but what they have put out so far I really enjoy! A post-punk and darkwave hybrid band.

Rosegarden Funeral Party This is a post-punk band with some darkwave thrown in, surrounded by one of the most distinctive female voices out of all of the modern genre bands. The lyrics sound very personal in nature and give the music a deeper meaning.

S Y Z Y G Y X Mainly an electronic and darkwave band. Very driving beats and interesting vocals.

I Ya Toyah This is a one woman band that is fiercely industrial and electronic. Beautiful vocals paired with an urgency and great lyrics.

The Long Losts Very spooky sounding deathrock mixed with some touches of metal. The lyrics are very haunting!

Abu Nein Darkwave and electronic music with a flourish of post punk. Nice vocals and driving beat.

Music Review: David Long & Shane O’Neill – Moll and Zeis

I don’t normally do music reviews, mainly because it’s kind of daunting since there is so much good music being made right now. However, I have decided that I could make it less difficult if I only review albums that I really connect with on a deeper level.

For those of you who don’t know who these two musicians are here is a rundown. They have been friends since childhood and were briefly in a band called Amuse before they set out on their own paths. David Long used to be in the Irish 80’s post-punk band Into Paradise, and Shane O’Neill used to be in the Irish 80’s post-punk band Blue In Heaven. They have collaborated before on the album Supernaught. I can honestly say that Shane is one of the most down to earth musicians I have ever had contact with, and I think its cool as hell that the both of them are still actively making music instead of only relying on their past output. Moving forward instead of living in the past.

When I first listened to this it struck me as sounding ‘dreamy’. Meaning that the guitar, bass and keyboards moved here and there in the songs in a smooth motion instead of in jagged breaks. It instantly reminds me of the more rhythmic albums by Lycia which can only be a good thing. The guitar in the songs tends to have some reverb while the bass is more straight forward and linear. It’s a nice contrast that really works well and it helps bring everything together. Musically this album fits into an indie box, but not strictly as there are definitely some touches of post-punk and even a little bit of ethereal goth thrown in for good measure.

The lyrics on this album are gorgeous. I’ve always been attracted to bands whose lyrics are on a level playing field with their instrumentation, and this album is a good example of that. My favourite lines have to be from the song Far From Home.

You said I was strong, and I would never break
It’s not that easy, it’s not a choice that you make
That day when the trucks arrived, I knew I had to leave
Never saw what life could be and it brought me to my knees
Makes me scared for what’s coming
Makes me scared for what’s coming
now

I burnt your name on my skin to remind me
Walk the roads far from home far behind me
Do you still remember me?
I’m not sure if i remember you
I have got, nothing that I need

Moll & Zeis is available right now on Bandcamp. As an added bonus the lyrics are also on there, which I wish more bands would do.

The Cool Sci-Fi Themed Videos Of A Flock Of Seagulls

Anybody who knows me on social media knows that I really love A Flock Of Seagulls. I couldn’t buy their music when it originally came out because I was poor so I have been righting that wrong over the last few years by collecting their vinyl. With all of that said I really feel that A Flock Of Seagulls were way ahead of their time, both stylistically and musically. Especially with their obvious song and video homages to the sci-fi genre.

Their video featured above, (It’s Not Me)Talking, is perhaps one of the most original music videos to come out of the 80’s. A group of scientists detect a UFO coming in to land so they call the military. When the ship lands Mike Score, the singer of the band, comes out of the spaceship resplendent in his silver jumpsuit and coiffed hair. It’s like watching a very cool 1950’s black and white sci-fi film, which happens to be one of my favourite genres. On top of all of this the song is very cool, and doesn’t actually sound dated compared to a lot of the bands from around the same time.

Wishing (I Had A Photograph Of You) is a video that either takes place on a space station or spaceship. Mike Score walks around singing during much of it, looking very lonely and pensive. Of course he does, because if you were thousands of miles away from your significant other you would feel the same way. There is a scene in which he tries to create the image of a woman on a computer and a real photo pops out of the printer. So, you also get the added bonus of seeing a technology that has actually been realized. Neat!

In my opinion I Ran is one of their more ‘simple’ sci-fi themed videos. You’ve got lots of mirrors, reflective material and two women who look like they are dressed in literal black garbage bags walking around with their arms outstretched as if they are going to attack Mike Score. They are also wearing some very dramatic eye makeup which is done, I guess, to make them appear otherworldly. This was during a time in which dramatic makeup was seen as ‘other’ and not as common as it is these days. All of this actually makes sense when you realise that the song itself is about trying to run away from an alien invasion.

This video is the most simple out of the bunch. The title alone, Space Age Love Song, evokes a sort of wistful thinking as to falling in love in a sci-fi themed future. They are just performing on a stage with fog, lights, and what looks like an actual space rocket in the background. It’s one of their better songs, so the lyrics and music really set the tone for the video.

This one is definitely the strangest of the bunch. You have the band in a spaceship playing their instruments while dressed in silver clothes, as two spacemen bring a woman to some sort of tilted table that she proceeds to go to sleep on. Then there are clips of a small monkey making evil looking faces, who in the end is being held by this green alien figure that looks like one of those Easter Island statues. I’m not sure what I am supposed to think after watching this. Are space monkeys evil? Do green space aliens come from Easter Island? Are bands required to wear silver coloured costumes when they go into space? Yes, it’s a bit strange but I feel that is what makes it cool. It gives you the latitude to interpret it as you please.

John Lydon Is A Trump Supporting Moron So I Have Deleted All Of His Music From My Life

The idiot in question.

If you haven’t heard by now John Lydon, of The Sex Pistols and PiL, has openly announced that he is voting for Trump. Before this I had thought that he wore that one Trump shirt months ago to really piss people off. However he has fully doubled down on his support for the racist pig. This being the case I have decided to cut all ties with him.

You’ve got to understand that boycotting his music really pains me a lot because both the Sex Pistols and PiL were among the first weirdo bands that I listened to in the 1980’s. I literally deleted all of his associated music off of my computer yesterday and I got very close to tears because ultimately I feel betrayed by Lydon. The man who made the song World Destruction with Afrika Bambaataa is not the same man who is supporting an openly racist conman.

From what I have read, and understood, one of the reasons why he is supporting Trump is because he identifies with him in terms of being accused of being a racist. Apparently, after a Sex Pistols appearance in 2008 at a festival, some racist words were said backstage by the Pistols road-crew towards the singer of the band Bloc Party. This was witnessed by and confirmed by other members of several bands. On top of that Lydon also said nasty things to the guy. I had no clue about any of this until a few days ago and it totally blows my mind that Lydon refutes all of this and has the nerve to say that he doesn’t support racism even though he is willing to support Trump who is openly racist.

Lydon is actually still claiming that he is working class even though he owns two homes in the US and one in the UK. Sorry John, but working class people can’t even afford to buy one home these days let alone three in two different countries. I think he has gotten to the point in his life that he is just regurgitating the crap that he said over thirty years ago that doesn’t apply to him at all these days. Yes, his wife Nora is slowly dying from Alzheimers and that’s sad, BUT that doesn’t give him an excuse to act like a damn moron and go against things that he used to fight for.

He also claims that people shouldn’t get stuck in a set of beliefs forever. So, he is justifying his support for a racist prick by saying that it’s good for people to change their minds. Guess what John? It is never good to change your mind about the act of racism because in doing so you yourself become a racist. Racism is bad and is never something that should be condoned or excused. Don’t want to be called a racist prick? Then don’t support one. The really bad part about all of this is that his (step)grandchilden are of mixed race. I wonder how they feel about him supporting Trump?

Lydon is now dead to me and I will never listen to his music again. Fuck you Johnny!

I Love Early U2 And That’s Okay

No hideous Bono sunglasses or Edge beanies, so it must be early U2.

I have a confession to make. Back until about April of 1990 I was a huge U2 fan. It was around that time that I finally couldn’t take Bono’s bullshit any longer and I totally stopped listening to them. I felt so betrayed by their obvious ‘sell out’ tactics that it took me almost thirty years to listen to their older albums again.

When I talk about early U2 I’m talking about their work up to the Wide Awake In America EP which was released in 1985. So anything past that I just flat out refuse to listen to. When Joshua Tree and Rattle And Hum both came out I initially enjoyed them, but something about them didn’t sit right with me at the time. I think it had to do with two main things; trendies who previously would make fun of me all of a sudden liked them and Bono’s ego started to take over the music of the band.

I started getting heavily into U2 around late 85/early 86. It was such a long time ago that I quite honestly can’t remember the exact year. I remember liking New Year’s Day a whole lot when I would watch MTV as a young teen, so I always knew they existed before I started really getting them. One of the things that drew me to them was the fact that they were involved with Amnesty International and seemed to give a damn about social issues. By 1990 all of that was gone, and the band members starting cheating on the wives, dating supermodels and just basically behaved as if their shit didn’t stink. They became a stereotypical example of a band, instead of rising above that kind of shit like they used to.

I realise that bands sometimes majorly change their sound, but the jump that U2 did was a step too far for me. Rather than the original dark post punk sound that they had going on all of their early 80’s albums they basically became a pop band playing really boring music. I know I’m not the only one who felt this way at the time because there were even articles all about how they lost a lot of their original fan base by the time they made Rattle And Hum.

What’s funny is that all of this really pisses off all of the current U2 fans who enjoy their newer albums. The band basically has two separate groups of fans; people who were around in the 80’s who love only their earlier output, and those who heavily support their newer incarnation. I’ve noticed on a lot of U2 album lists that many of the newer fans will list October as the worst U2 album. It’s actually my favorite U2 album because it is very dark and has a genuine heavy post-punk vibe to it. Actually, I think their earlier work all the way to The Unforgettable Fire are solidly post-punk albums that sound a whole lot more original that all of the wannabe post-punk bands around right now.

Did I get a lot of shit for liking them? I did get some flack from the other weirdos in my area, but U2 were actually considered to be an ‘alternative’ band at the time and not mainstream. They were only considered mainstream once Joshua Tree came out. I think some of the songs off of that album are ‘okay’ but they felt very pallid compared to their earlier songs. I actually made a DIY U2 themed denim jacket in high school, and even drew my own U2 back patch. That was my first ever DIY project and I even had some people ask me in high school if I could make the same back patch for them to use. I appreciated that people asked me but I didn’t want anybody having the same design as I had so I turned them down.

During this time U2 were definitely not the only band I listened to. I was also into OMD, Specimen, The Dead Kennedys, The Sex Pistols, 7 Seconds, Love & Rockets, Public Image Limited, Jesus And Mary Chain, etc…. I even went to see The Cure n 87 wearing that denim jacket and nobody gave me shit for it. I think it was more acceptable back then to be into wildly different sounding bands than it is today. These days youngsters want to be put in boxes without any outside influences, which I think is a damn shame. I saw U2 perform live twice in 87, and I’m grateful that I at least got to see them play a lot of their older songs, something which they didn’t do much of after that.

About a year ago I found myself going onto YouTube and listening to early U2. It brought back so many memories that I bought all of their CDs up to The Unforgettable Fire. I didn’t feel anger any longer because I came to the realization that it is perfectly alright to like only one era of a band that has been around for decades. I still own all of their 80’s single 45’s because they are in one of my mom’s closets, and I have searched for and bought some of their rarer earlier vinyl such as the War picture disc. The funny thing is that they are cheaper now than they were in the 80’s.

Does U2 suck now? Of course they do, but I love their earlier albums. I think, in some way, this would piss Bono off and that makes me happy.

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