Saturday, May 18, 2024

Hey Joe, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - Hippie Love Turbo Radio Show - Code Word "Manzano Banana"

This episode of Hippie Love Turbo, on KUCR 88.3 FM kept it international and trippy with some gritty garage towards the beginning and way-out psych towards the end. If you missed the show while it aired, be sure to listen catch it on the KUCR archive ASAP, because it won't be up for long!

We began this episode with The Leaves' Too Many People, which has an unusual mix of ultra warbled guitar and bluesy harmonica. The doubled vocals occasionally slip from timing, adding another strange effect which makes the song feels ahead of its time while also staying grounded in the garage rock tradition. The Leaves were from San Fernando Valley and are known as the first band to release a version of Hey Joe, a song that was famously recorded by The Jimi Hendrix Experience that same year in 1966. Hey Joe has a muddled history with a few people claiming writing credits while others believe the song is public domain. According to various sources, the song existed well before The Leaves recorded their version but, at least in a commercial sense, The Leaves appear to be the first band to release the song rather than just perform it live or record it for personal use. For a more in-depth article about Hey Joe, check out this article by Mayer Nissim for Gold Radio UK.

As the show continued, you heard Butch Engle and The Styx perform Going Home, which, like all of their songs, was written or co-written by The Beau Brummels' Ron Elliott. According to Engle, Sly Stone, who produced The Beau Brummels, and Ron Elliott allowed The Styx to record an array of songs that were essentially leftovers of The Beau Brummels. Although The Styx only released two singles during their time as a band, they had recorded a few other tracks which were eventually compiled on No Matter What You Say: The Best of Butch Engle & the Styx

Towards the halfway point of the show, I played The Tempos' One Way Ticket and I spoke a little about how they were from LaSalle County, Illinois. Well, mostly I talked about how LaSalle County (Earlville to be particular) is also the birthplace of Gary K. Wolf, a writer whose most popular novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit? was adapted into the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The two works are fairly different from each other and out of the two I believe the film is the better, mostly due to the ending of the novel feeling tacked on or rushed. There also exists a novelization of the film by Martin Noble (most likely a pen name) titled Who Framed Roger Rabbit: A Novel. On the episode named Golden Berry I wrote about a similar situation with the movie Moonraker which also was based on a book and later had a novel adaptation of the film. There's something fascinating to me about the way adaptations of adaptations exist. It almost feels like a commercial long-form version of a campfire story which is told again and again by different people, changing slightly each time. 

And finally, towards the end of the show you heard Sugluk's Fall Away which I found
on the compilation Native North America, Vol. 1 which features songs from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation archives. Supposedly there's going to be a second volume featuring indigenous bands from the U.S. and Mexico but I haven't seen any updates since volume 1 was released in 2014. Hopefully it comes to fruition!

Alright folks, that's it for this episode's rundown! Thanks for reading the blog and be sure to listen over the air on KUCR 88.3FM on Saturdays at 9pm PST or listen to an archived version of the show here. You can also listen through KUCR.org, Radio Garden, or Tune-In

Check out this week's playlist below:

  

Saturday, February 10, 2024

150th Episode Special! - Hippie Love Turbo Radio Show

This episode of Hippie Love Turbo, on KUCR 88.3 FM, we looked back at some of my favorite songs from the last 150 episodes. Over the course of the show, I've played more than 3,000 unique songs and if you were to listen to every episode back to back it'd take over 6 days straight to finish them all. It's been a ton of fun listening and curating songs from the obscure and recently rediscovered to well-known hits and everything in between. Cheers to another 150 episodes and, as always, the playlist is at the bottom!

 

An old flyer from when I first started my show Deliberate Discord

Way back in 2010, when I was first getting settled as a transfer student at UCR, I contacted the station by hounding the staff during concerts at The Barn and by visiting their booth during "nooner" events at the Bell Tower. Eventually, I wore them down and became part of the staff which kick started my journey in radio. My show at the time was named Deliberate Dischord (because misspelling stuff is cool) and featured noisier music in the vein of punk, indie, and experimental artists. I continued my show for a few years before taking a break while figuring out life. Eventually the pandemic hit and I floated the idea of starting another show which is what became Hippie Love Turbo.

 

Left: My first day of training Right: Hanging out during my old nighttime slot

If I go even further back, I discovered my love for radio as a kid, after visiting a local country music station to pick up tickets my mother had won through a contest. I was amazed by the simplicity of the building. In my head I imagined a huge skyscraper lined with walls of TVs and a bustling staff of fashionable 20-somethings zooming around with CDs and tapes, listening booths, and high-tech computers. Instead, the station sat inside an unassuming strip mall office with a lobby that looked like my pediatrician's. After the veil was lifted, I began calling into radio stations, hamming up my little kid voice, knowing that some DJs would air recordings of my requests. Somewhere I still have tapes of me and my friends speaking in phony southern accents, asking the DJ to play Dwight Yoakam. 

 

An old schedule showing my 2 hour block. Found in The Highlander.

Flash forward to my high school days when I started consuming music through the internet as opposed to whatever I found in the discount bin at The Warehouse or Sam Goody. I mainly listened to web streams that I found through Real Player and Winamp. In particular I remember listening to a lot of KUCI, specifically a "goth" show that had a very patient DJ that tolerated my calls and AIM messages.

Towards the end of my senior year in high school, I started streaming my own internet radio show using Shoutcast and Winamp. My audience hardly ever reached more than 4 or 5 listeners at a given time. It was fun but took a lot of effort for little reward. I remember my most popular stream was a Smiths special that was inspired by one of my favorite teachers and I was psyched that 14 or 15 people were listening.

 

Nowadays, my main goal with Hippie Love Turbo is to provide the same feeling of discovery I had during my youth. Nothing beats finding a DJ or radio station that has its own story that has existed long before you became aware of it. 

Eventually, I would like to expand my blog to cover more of the local history of garage and psych music in Riverside so if you happen to have been around the rock scene in the IE during the '60s, feel free to contact me! A lot of our local music history isn't well documented online so I suggest you go out and bug your family for those old photos, recordings, and newspaper clippings.

Anywho, that's it for this episode's rundown! Thanks for reading the blog and be sure to listen over the air on KUCR 88.3FM on Saturdays at 9pm PST or listen to an archived version of the show here. You can also listen through KUCR.org, Radio Garden, or Tune-In

Check out this week's playlist below:

  


Saturday, February 3, 2024

Exploring White Sands and Soviet Surf - Hippie Love Turbo Radio Show - Code Word "Chinese Artichoke"

This episode of Hippie Love Turbo, on KUCR 88.3 FM, started with a solid block of surf tunes to get us out of our rainy weather funk. A lot of the songs you heard on this episode are rare and therefore not on Spotify but don't fret, you can hear them by following the links at the bottom of this post. Of course, you can listen to this week's episode again on the KUCR Archive, but beware, each archived show is only online for a few weeks before they're taken down. If you haven't had your KUCR fix after that, be sure to check out KUCR's YouTube page which recently added some videos of their trip to NAMM. Anywho, let's dive into some of the topics I covered during this week's episode!

First, I want to talk about White Sands' Vampire Drug Party which was one of the few modern songs I've ever played and, get this, the band is from New Mexico. I didn't know you could hang ten in Albuquerque! The song features some lovely spring reverb drip and follows the band's previous release Live Dirt & Reverb which contains covers of songs originally performed by Satans' Pilgrims, Link Wray, and The Astronauts. I was turned onto the band by DJ tina bold from Audio Hijinx and she tells me that their guitarist and producer Chris V. is a long-time listener of KUCR, which is always appreciated. 

Afterwards, you heard a couple songs from a compilation of Soviet surf rock with the complex name SurfBeat Behind The Iron Curtain Part 2 - Planetary Pebbles Vol.3. The other volumes of Surfbeat feature tunes that I'm sure will find their way into future episodes because they are fascinating glimpses into a world of surf that I was totally unaware of. If you want more information on the groups featured on the compilations you'll have to dive into the Russian web because, if you thought a lot of American garage bands were obscure, try learning about rock groups from Soviet satellite states! 

An excerpt from one of Olympic's long form music videos
 

While I didn't really find any information about the group Singing Guitars, who you heard after White Sands, I was able to gather some history on Olympic, who played the track Mary, Mary. It turns out the band was (and still is?) fairly popular and continues to perform to this day, although it appears that there are no longer any founding members in the group besides Petr Janda, who may not have been an original member. According to various, and confusing Google translated sources, the band was from Prague, Czechoslovakia and formed from the ashes of another band named Karkulka. The group really switched things up in the '70s and made a few prog-rock albums before dabbling in some heavy metal-ish tunes during the late '80s. A few of their releases were in English and remind me of Alice Cooper during his "Blackout Era", some select Pink Floyd songs such as Comfortably Numb, with a sprinkling of Blue Oyster Cult. Try listening to Kraj, odkud odletěli ptáci and tell me it doesn't sound like a lost demo from Fire of Unknown Origin. It's unusual stuff but I find myself listening to more and more of it. Help.

When I was talking about Olympic, I mentioned another band that was at one time named Olympic Hopefuls before they were legally forced to change their name due to the word Olympic being trademarked by the United States Olympic Committee. I hadn't really thought of the band in a while, but I remember having a few tracks floating around on CD-Rs that I'm sure I got from the now (and very sadly) defunct website Epitonic. If you are feeling nostalgic for that early 2000s indie sound, I suggest listening to their debut album The Fuses Refuse to Burn which reminds me of The Shins or Grandaddy although it might sound a little saccharine to modern audiences. Who knows, maybe I'll make a playlist of songs I found during that era of music where I'd scrap music from MP3.com, MySpace, Epitonic, and various blogs. 

And finally, I closed the episode with Carole King's version of Crying in The Rain which she co-wrote with Howard Greenfield for The Everly Brothers. I think King's version highlights how The Everly Brothers' vocal performances enhance the song and build upon its solid pop structure. During the show I talked about how the song has been covered by many different artists but the versions by Danzig and a-Ha stand out for their unique twists on the song. Whether or not that's a good thing is up to you!

Well folks, that's it for this episode's rundown! Thanks for reading the blog and be sure to listen over the air on KUCR 88.3FM on Saturdays at 9pm PST or listen to an archived version of the show here. You can also listen through KUCR.org, Radio Garden, or Tune-In

Check out this week's playlist below:

  

Monday, January 15, 2024

Seeking Pleasure With The Vandals - Hippie Love Turbo Radio Show - Code Word "Mashua"

This episode of Hippie Love Turbo, on KUCR 88.3 FM, featured a lot of songs that weren't on Spotify making the playlist links (found down below) more comprehensive than they normally are. I've noticed a few compilations have been pulled from Spotify but there's always been a sort of, ebb and flow, with artist's appearing and then disappearing from the service. Anywho, that's just how streaming services go, especially when you have albums made up of music with dubious copyright claims or flat-out unknown composers. Let's not get into that long-winded subject, however, and instead focus on some of the things I talked about during the episode!

First off, you heard The Vandals perform their song The Joker. The group is from Hollywood, FL and is best known for their song I Saw Her In A Mustang which features lyrics that can make even modern audiences blush or at least tilt their heads. According to the liner notes of their 2021 compilation (written by The Vandals keyboardist Augie Bucci) the band's record label pushed the group to rewrite the lyrics to I Saw Her In A Mustang insisting that the risqué lyrics would kill any prospects of radio play. The band stuck to their guns and refused to rewrite the lyrics and unfortunately the label was correct and the single received no airplay and abysmal sales figures. However, the controversial song added to the band's mystique and helped fuel their popularity among their frat party peers, ensuring them frequent shows to decently sized crowds in South Florida. We can only speculate how popular the group could have been without the controversy surrounding I Saw Her In A Mustang but I'll let you be the judge by asking you to listen to what Bucci considers the band's best song, Mystery

The Pleasure Seekers as seen on an Oregon Television program in 1968

After The Vandals, you heard a cult classic by The Pleasure Seekers named What A Way To Die, which stands out from the rest of their musical output due to its hard edge and subject matter. Surprisingly, the band's co-founders, sisters Suzi Quatro and Patti Quatro, were only 15 and 17 when they recorded their first single which was written by Dave Leone, who was the founder of a popular Detroit nightclub known as The Hideout who was also the manager of Bob Seger and Ted Nugent. Plenty of articles have been written about the group but the best articles I found were written by Margaret Moser for The Austin Chronicle and a short bio on the Quatro sister's official website. After The Pleasure Seekers dissolved, the Quatro sisters formed a heavier rock band named Cradle, who produced songs more along the lines of Deep Purple and have often been compared to the American band Fanny. Suzi continues to play music to this day, has had a very successful solo career in the UK, and at one time had a reoccurring role on Happy Days as Leather Tuscadero. Another Quatro sister, Pleasure Seekers' keyboardist Arlene Quatro, is also known for being the mother of Sherilyn Fenn.

And finally, I'll quickly wrap up with a quick list of the three other artists I talked about on the show:

You heard The Briks' song Keep Down and I mentioned that the group was from Denton, TX but originally formed as The Embers in Lubbock, TX, which, as you may know, is famously the birth place of Buddy Holly. You can read more about the band on Garage Hangover.

Next up, I played The Parking Meter by Leo and The Prophets. What stood out to me about the band was their original name JC and The Boys, where the JC stood for Jesus Christ and The Boys referred to his disciples. Supposedly the band considered the name somewhat risky but no one ever questioned it. You can read an interview with The Prophets' rhythm guitarist Dan Hickman on the blog 1966: Texas Music in the Sixties.

We ended the show with Connie Converse's song Father Neptune and I briefly mentioned that Converse recorded her songs for a small audience of peers although she aspired to a career in the music business. Partially because of her lack of success Converse vanished into obscurity after leaving her family letters that explained how she was going to start a new life in New York. A fraction of Converse's recordings was compiled in 2009 and they have a folksy and somber quality when paired with her unusual story makes for an unusual listening experience. For some more in depth reading check out these articles by both NPR and The New York Times.

That's all for this episode's rundown! Thanks for reading the blog and be sure to listen over the air on KUCR 88.3FM on Saturdays at 9pm PST or listen to an archived version of the show here. You can also listen through KUCR.org, Radio Garden, or Tune-In

Check out this week's playlist below:

  

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Christmas Radio Special #2 - 50s-70s Rock n Roll Novelty Songs

Hello holiday heads! This episode of Hippie Love Turbo, on KUCR 88.3 FM, featured a bunch of rockin' Christmas tunes from around the world. While I might not be jolly old Saint Nick, I can still deliver some good tunes for your last-minute wrapping. As always, the show will stay up on the KUCR archives for a few weeks, so if you missed the show and want to listen on your own time, make sure to listen while you can. If you just want to hear the music, check out the playlist down below, but if you want a summary of what I talked about during the show... keep reading. Be sure to also check out last year's Christmas playlist, and if you are feeling crafty, feel free to print out a foldable box I created that's based off of an unusual robotic Santa toy from days gone by.

The Boys Next Door as seen in Teen Tempo

Towards the beginning of the show, you heard The Boys Next Door, a group from Indianapolis, perform their song The Wildest Christmas. The group was fairly popular in their local scene and also appeared as The Four Wheels on two singles, Central High Playmate, and Sneaky Little Sleeper. According to a blog named 60's Indiana Band Szene, the group's name change was without the groups knowledge and eventually it was changed back to The Boys Next Door. The label Sundazed Music compiled the band's complete discography back in 1999 in a self-titled release which appears to be out of print and proves to be difficult to find online. While researching the band I found an article that appeared in a magazine named Teen Tempo which covers a concert that the band put on from the rooftop of a newly opened department store named Dorothy's Woman's Apparel Shop. It's wild seeing a photo of band members standing on a pallet that's being hoisted up towards the roof via forklift. 

Rankin/Bass TV special inspired flyer paired with one of the show's misfit toys

Next up you heard The Galaxies cover of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and I mentioned that the character Rudolph was created by Robert L. May for a book that was sold at Montgomery Ward. However, the character was popularized by the song which came about a decade later and was penned by May's brother-in-law Johnny Marks. If you are interested in the history of the song, there is a great piece that aired on NPR's Here and Now where they interviewed May's daughter Barbara May Lewis and discussed how Montgomery Ward gave May the rights to the story without realizing how big it would eventually become. For a first-hand account, you can also check out this interview with Marks that was conducted by Ian Whitcomb in 1972.

As the show continued, you heard Mae West's Merry Christmas Baby from the album Wild Christmas which followed in the footsteps of her previous surprise hit album Way Out West. During this time, West was around 72 and, although they were fairly outdated at the time, the album features Christmas themed alterations of West's famous catchphrases. Unlike Way Out West, Wild Christmas was released through the small record label Dagonet Records rather than the major label Tower Records. As a throwback to her previous album, Wild Christmas includes a cover of The Beatles track From Me To You with some holiday lines added to the song's intro. 

Of course, we ended the show with a novelty country song by Charlie Stewart named Santa Claus Ain't a Hippie. Stewart was a very opinionated individual and his songs reflected his visions of what he felt was taboo at the time. Of course, nowadays it all comes off very hokey with songs about Stewart's disapproval of unions, Johnny Cash, and Fidel Castro but the songs are strange snapshots of their time.

And a ho ho ho folks! That's about it for this episode's rundown. Thanks for reading the blog and be sure to listen over the air on KUCR 88.3FM on Saturdays at 9pm PST or listen to an archived version of the show here. You can also listen through KUCR.org, Radio Garden, or Tune-In

Check out this week's playlist below:

  

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Tasmanian Devils and Stardust - Hippie Love Turbo Radio Show - Code Word "Taro"

This episode of Hippie Love Turbo, on KUCR 88.3 FM, leaned more towards the psych side which is probably going to be the theme for the next few episodes. Like many people, I sometimes find myself gravitating towards certain musical genres for a given period of time before I get sick of it. Lately I've been checking out a lot of late 60s and early 70s fuzzed out stuff rather so these next few episodes will definitely be reflecting that.

Anywho, towards the beginning of the show you heard the buzzy little tune Baby by a band from West Palm Beach, Florida named The Tasmanians. The original release is fairly rare but you can find the track on a bunch of different compilations, some better than others. The version you heard came from Sixties Archives Vol. 4 Florida & New Mexico Punk and if you are ever interested in getting some compilations for your collection, you can't go wrong with the Sixties Archives!

As is the case with a lot of psych and garage bands, one of the best sources for information on the group is on Garage Hangover. However, on the show I focused more on the strange dog sized marsupial which shares a similar namesake with the band, the Tasmanian Devil. The Tasmanian Devil's breeding behavior is what initially caught my attention due to the fact that they often give birth to 20-30 pups with only around 40% surviving to maturity. They have relatively short lifespans with the oldest known Tasmanian Devil being Coolah, who was born and raised in the Children's Zoo in Fort Wayne, IN and died at age seven

Tasmanian Devils remind me of Master Splinter

Currently, the animals are facing extinction due to a fatal disease (Devil Facial Tumour Disease) which causes facial tumors and is one of the very few known forms of cancer which spreads in a contagious fashion. Conservation efforts are being led by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania and if you would like to learn more about these unusual creatures and possibly donate to their causes, head on over to their official website.

Towards the halfway point of the show, you heard The Stardusters play their cover of Ray Charles' What'd I Say. The group was made up of young teens from the sparsely populated Willisville and Cutler area of Illinois and according to a local newspaper article, the band was known for performing 3 times a week. The recording is a little rough around the edges which contributes to its charm with vocals provided by a young woman named Miss Darla Dean. There are a few other groups that share the Stardusters name including a latin rock band from the greater Houston area whose most popular single is Forever and a vocal group from the 1930s that was known for their appearances on The Vitalis Show, featuring George Jessel and his Celebrated Guests

While listening to The Stardusters I was reminded of a film I watched way back in 2007, and had long since forgotten, named Stardust. What I remember most about the film is its unusual tone which was a mix between campiness and self-seriousness with the unusual casting choices of Robert De Niro as a pirate with a secret love for dressing in women's clothing and Michelle Pfeiffer in the role of an ugly witch. The movie is based off a 1999 novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman who is probably best known for his comic book series Sandman which was later made into a critically acclaimed series on Netflix. While I can't say I'd really recommend Stardust because, frankly because I can't remember too much about it, but I would highly recommend Sandman for anyone that's slightly interested in Gaiman's work.

And finally, towards the end of the show I played a song by Maximus named A Better Mind and I mentioned that the group was headed by Jack Ross, who was an active session musician in Nashville. Ross was also married to a country music singer named Jeris Ross who gained some success with her version of the Gary Paxton song Pictures On Paper which features some unusual lyrics such as:

So what if he flirts a little with the girls where he works, as long as he's true to you, you better give that man a little slack.

Funny enough, there's another version of the song by Ronnie Dove which seems more sympathetic to the woman's perspective. On air I compared Pictures On Paper to Tammy Wynette's Stand By Your Man which caused some controversy during its debut for containing lyrics which feminists felt were misogynistic. 

If you happen to like vintage country western music my buddy Jed McDaniel has a show on Spotify named When Cringin' Leads to Cryin' which highlights music from the early days of country until around the 1970s. We used to talk a lot about old country records so I can attest for his taste. Back in the day Jed used to host a show on KUCR named Cryin' Time, so he's got a history with our humble station.

Well folks, that's about it for this episode's rundown! Thanks for reading the blog and be sure to listen over the air on KUCR 88.3FM on Saturdays at 9pm PST or listen to an archived version of the show here. You can also listen through KUCR.org, Radio Garden, or Tune-In

Check out this week's playlist below:

  

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Calling It Quits! Deap Vally Kicks Off Their Final Tour - Deap Vally Interview - Hippie Love Turbo Radio Show

For the past 12 years the Southern California rock n roll duo Deap Vally has been performing fuzzy and hypnotic music for audiences around the world. Over that time, they’ve released 3 full length albums, several singles and EPs, and opened for artists such as: Marilyn Manson, Wolfmother, Blondie, and Garbage. Now Deap Vally kicks off their final tour as they also self-release their latest album SISTRIONIX 2.0, a re-recorded version of their first full length album which is currently out of print.

On November 2nd, the group stopped by KUCR to promote their previously unreleased cover of The Rolling Stones’ Ventilator Blues and newly re-recorded Baby I Call Hell. Below you will find my full interview with the band followed by a playlist of the songs which aired during the episode. The playlist includes recordings by L.A. Witch and Death Valley Girls who will both accompany Deap Vally on their Live for the Last Time Farewell Tour

 

If you'd like to catch the band during their final tour, the shows closest to Riverside will take place on November 11th at The Casbah in San Diego, November 12th at The Observatory in Santa Ana, and March 9th at the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles.  


Thanks for reading the blog and be sure to listen over the air on KUCR 88.3FM on Saturdays at 9pm PST or listen to an archived version of the show here. You can also listen through KUCR.org, Radio Garden, or Tune-In

 

  


Saturday, October 28, 2023

Halloween Radio Special 4! - 50s-70s Rock and Roll, Rockabilly, and Novelty Songs

This episode of Hippie Love Turbo, on KUCR 88.3 FM, featured spooky, creepy, and macabre songs from around the world. That must mean it was... the 4th annual Halloween Special! If your musical sweet tooth is craving more horrifying tunes, you can check out the last few Halloween playlists here, here, and here. If you missed the episode as it originally aired, you can catch it on the KUCR Archive, however, it'll only be online for a few weeks so listen while you can!

This year's flyer was based on the poster for Child's Play 2

Towards the beginning of the show you heard the Danish group Rocking Ghosts play a fun surf track named Ghost Walk. During the show I mentioned that one of the band's singles featured a cover with the band in regalia that looked similar to those worn by the KKK. In reality, the band was probably just donning ghostly imagery based on the hooded penitents as seen during the Spanish holiday Semena Santa or flagellants who often mutilate their own bodies as a form of penance. There's not many things creepier than whipping yourself to please god. Yikes.

Next up, you heard Los Crazy Birds play their creepy tune La Bruja. The band was headed by Luis Vivi Hernandez who was known for his work with Los Luises, Los Crazy Boys, and Los Electronicos. According to the website Ven a mi mundo, Hernandez is considered by many to be the Mexican Elvis. Does that mean he also liked peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwiches? Also, I'd also like to point out that during this time Elvis wasn't well received in Mexico due to rumors of him making racist statements about Mexicans which was later revealed to be untrue.

As an aside, if you are interested in brujas (witches) in Mexican cinema, there's a great guest lecture by Valeria Villegas Lindval about witches in gothic horror through a feminist lens.

Finally, towards the end of the show I spoke about an unusual album by Robbie Robison named Robbie The Werewolf At The Waleback. The album is a live recording of an acoustic performance at the Wale Back in Santa Monica, CA where Robison adopted the persona of a hippie werewolf. The album is rude and crude with an eerie twist. Robbie The Werewolf sings about doing drugs, getting sick, and other unusual topics in front of a captivated audience that appears to be inebriated. You can't help but imagine yourself sitting in the crowd wondering how you ended up in a dingy dive bar on a Wednesday night. Robison later went on to perform with The Brain Train (who you may have heard on the episode named Kiwi and Oca) and Clear Light, which was a re-branding of The Brain Train after signing to Elektra. Interestingly enough, Robison's wife Barbara also provided vocals for the psych band The Peanut Butter Conspiracy. 

The album was recorded by Reice Hamel who was known for developing recording techniques that resulted in amazing live recordings of various jazz musicians. Hamel was also known for his mobile recording studios which at one point took the shape of a customized Type 2 Volkswagen

That it for this episode's terrifying rundown! Stay safe this Halloween and please remember to brush and floss! Thanks for reading the blog and be sure to listen over the air on KUCR 88.3FM on Saturdays at 9pm PST or listen to an archived version of the show here. You can also listen through KUCR.org, Radio Garden, or Tune-In

You can check out this week's playlist below:

  

Monday, October 23, 2023

Zine Making Templates, Zine Making Advice, and How We Made Our First Comic Zine "Soup Rocks!"

For the past month, some friends and I have been secretly working on a comic/zine project named Soup Rocks which we brought with us to the Packing House Zine Fest in Claremont, CA. Soup Rocks is about a man that discovers rocks in a can of soup and his journey to find out how they got in there and more importantly, why. The comic features illustrations by Danni.Artspace with backgrounds and shading by yours truly

Photo by Danni.Artspace

During the process of making the zine, I learned a few things which I would like to pass on to anyone that would also like to make a zine, whether it’s a comic or not. While Soup Rocks isn’t the first time I’ve dabbled with zine making, it is the first time I have done so in a completely digital space at the typical half page scale. Usually, in the past, when I’ve worked on zines it has been in the more traditional cut and paste style, which is a pretty awesome way of making art, however, it’s not what I’ll be covering today. Maybe some other day.

Half Page Zine Template

For this project we used the standard 8.5 x 11-inch letter sized paper, folded in half, which I’ve seen called the “half zine” or “digest sized” format. For the most part, this is the most common and simplest format for zine making. Most online resources suggest using a quarter inch border around your pages and although that may seem large, especially when you consider the limited amount of space of a half sheet of paper, I found it to be a perfect margin. You’ll have enough room to trim any excess and your content won’t disappear towards the page folds. 

Unfolded Half Page Zine Template

At first, Danni and I followed a random template I found online, but as we got closer to printing the zine, I discovered that the template was slightly off and each page would either feature too heavy of a margin, would not line up when folded in half, or would be stretched in an unusual way when fit to page. Eventually, I created a new template using Gimp. Sure, you could figure out a more elegant way of setting up your page to feature margins, but the way in which Danni and I were bouncing around between various software, sending artwork back and forth via email, and scaling comic panels, following a simple template was easiest.

One of the most important things to consider while making your zine is your page count. In our case, we knew that we wanted 16 pages for the story, a full color cover and back, a page for advertising our upcoming visual novel and a page for advertising my radio show. When you create your zine you must keep in mind that your page count must be divisible by 4 or else you’ll have blank pages.

For economical and aesthetic reasons, most zines are black and white. If you want to add a splash of color, I suggest printing the cover in color while leaving the inside black and white. In the past, I have also added color by printing the cover on construction paper or colored printer paper. If you do print on colored paper, I suggest using a lighter or brighter paper because darker paper tend to make your photocopies more difficult to see. Because we only used double-sided color prints for our cover, back and inside covers, we made sure to place our visual novel ad on the back inside cover. This maximizes its importance and takes advantage of what little color our zine had.  

When you are formatting your page order (pagination) for printing, things can get a little confusing. While trying to format our comic’s pages, I followed the advice of others online and tried to use Scribus, an open-source desktop publishing software which helps you determine how to format and print your pages in the correct order. While setting up Scribus I felt like I was using a sledgehammer to drive a nail while building a birdhouse. In other words, because our zine only needed 6 sheets of paper, totaling 24 pages of content, using Scribus felt like overkill. Instead, I folded 6 sheets of blank paper in half, labeled each page with a pen and then unfolded the paper. Now I knew how to format each page for printing. Later, I found some word templates on Anatomic Air Press’ website which could also be helpful, even if you don’t print from Microsoft Word. You can just follow the page order. There’s also a handy picture on Aisling D’Art's website.

The printer we used could print double-sided pages, however, if your printer doesn’t, you can simply print out your pages, flip them over, and print the other side. Just keep your page’s orientation in mind. Sometimes, even if your printer can print double-sided, it’s faster to run a whole group of pages and flip them manually. Before running prints of your whole zine it’s worth taking the time to print a test run. Even if you think everything is perfect, you might’ve missed something and any mistakes can cost you time, money, or goof up your presentation. Might as well catch mistakes while stakes are low.

One thing that was somewhat unfortunate, is the printer we used couldn’t print edge to edge, or print with zero margins. That meant that our cover pages had a slight white border. Earlier I mentioned that you should use a quarter inch margin and, in our case, that margin came in handy as we trimmed off the white boarder from our cover. 

You should always try to trim your zine after you’ve folded and stapled it. Using a bone folder to crease your page folds helps minimize how much your paper will need to be trimmed. Trimming your zine makes it look more professional because aligning your pages perfectly while folding is more difficult than trimming them to a uniform size. If you don’t feel like trimming at all, try making a cover that doesn’t have an image extend to the edges, in a similar fashion to your inside pages.

Speaking of trimming, oh boy, was that the most annoying aspect of this project. I naively thought that finding a guillotine style paper cutter would be no problem. I tried hitting up local libraries but none were willing to let me use their cutters. A local copy shop said I could use their paper trimmer but it was in very poor condition and the cutter I had at home was dull and could hardly handle more than one paper at a time. Eventually I settled on clamping each zine under a straight edge and trimming everything with a razor. It was time consuming and didn’t look as good as I would like, but it was better than nothing. I read a random forum post that said cutting aluminum foil could help sharped the edge of your cutter and after trying it out, I’d say it did seem to work. Too bad I tried this technique after I cut out all the zines with a razor. Ugh.

Would I suggest you go out and buy a guillotine cutter just to make a zine or two? Probably not, unless I found one for a decent price on the used market. However, if you are planning on making a bunch of zines it’d probably be worth buying a decent one. In fact, even if you just plan on doing a lot of paper trimming in general, I feel like a guillotine paper cutter is one of the best ways to go.

My cheap long arm stapler and butter knife bone folder

For our project I bought a long arm stapler and I suggest you buy or borrow one as well. In the past they were prohibitively expensive and many of us resorted to folding our pages to reach the center or making a diy long arm stapler by hacking up a standard stapler. Neither option provided nice results. Currently there are plenty of cheap long arm staplers available through the typical online shops and although they aren’t perfect, they work a lot better than most hacks you could come up with.

Now I’d like to go over the creative process we used while making Soup Rocks. This isn’t necessarily the “right way” to go about making a comic but it was how we did it.

First, me and Danni brainstormed ideas and came up with a general plot. I created an outline of the events that occurred in the story and decided on a page count that I thought was obtainable with respect to our self-imposed deadline. Then I broke down the outline to the page count. For example, our protagonist shops for soup, buys a can, drives home, opens the can, and discovers rocks inside his soup as he begins cooking. I’ll admit, being that this was my first comic I was afraid that the pacing would be off, however, I felt that the aforementioned section of the plot could be summed up in two comic pages using 12 panels. I continued breaking down the plot to our page count and guessed what would feel like a good pace.

Next, I drew a series of squares and rectangles which represented the panels for the comic. In each square I described what I thought each image should look like with a generalized version of each speech bubble. After I finished drawing the rough panels I sent them over to Danni, who began sketching out the comic’s artwork. For drawing the comic’s panels, I used an open-source vector program named Inkscape. 

Danni then sent me her interpretations of my panel descriptions. She illustrated her images in Photoshop, but if you are looking for a free raster drawing program, I suggest using Krita which punches well above its weight.

From there, I copied the panels into Inkscape, used the “Trace Bitmap” function and cleaned up the vectors whenever necessary. The reason I converted Danni’s art from raster to a vector is because I like rescaling artwork without worrying about any loss in quality. It’s also easier to make a more consistent color palette and I’m more comfortable editing vector points than redrawing artwork in a raster program.

Next, I exported the vectorized panels into Gimp, where I used gradients and the “Newspaper” extension to create the shading effects. Because I knew we were going to print in black and white, I colored in each panel with grey hues, added dithering every now and then, and paid close attention to how light or dark certain objects were. The exported panels served as my guidelines for the shading and coloring and remained near the top of my layers in Gimp. 

I really liked the idea of using 3D/CGI backgrounds and props which could interact with Danni’s drawings in a cut and paste/collage/photocopied fashion. To achieve this effect, I looked at Danni’s illustrations and chose elements which could translate into 3D space. I then exported each panel as a reference to be used in the 3D modeling program Blender. In Blender I scaled the project’s camera to match the comic’s various panel sizes. I then modeled each element and exported my files from Blender, making sure I kept each background transparent. I then merged the 3D images with Danni’s artwork in Gimp. Most of the 3D images were stylized with dithering and the “Newspaper” effect. A similar technique is often used in manga; however, steps are typically taken to make the 3D images look like illustrations. In our case, I wanted to make sure our 3D renders look more like photocopied photographs.

Eventually, we settled on a more concrete script, plugged in some dialogue, and buttoned up our panel borders. There was a lot of back and forth between everyone but Danni and I understood our aesthetic/narrative goals and the pressure of meeting our deadline helped lead us to the finish line. 

Making the comic was a ton of fun and I’d love to make more comic zines in the future. Maybe next time we’ll print a proper comic in full color using some sort of print company but for now I like our Lo-Fi black and white approach. Perhaps, one day, we can make a long form compilation in a manga/graphic novel format. Who knows!

We plan on eventually selling some copies of the zine online and when we do, I’ll be sure to update this page. As for now, you can check out a demo of our visual novel, which is based around a story by Danni with music and backgrounds by me and programming by Justin!

Shout out to all the people at the Zine Fest who traded zines, comics, and art with us. It was fun and we hope to see you at other art/zine events in the future!

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Young and Old Monkey Men, Redbone, and Pete Mac, Jr.! - Hippie Love Turbo Radio Show - Code Word "Cloudberry"

Unlike most of my recent shows, this episode of Hippie Love Turbo, on KUCR 88.3 FM, featured a lot less psych music and a lot more garage rock with some moodier tunes towards the end. Check out this episode's breakdown below.

Monkey Men as seen in Thomas Landseer's Monkeyana or Men in Miniature
 

Towards the beginning of the night, you heard "I Believed You" by The Young Monkey Men which is one of my favorite garage rock band names because it's so silly and fitting for a group that was made up of kids in their early teens. For their age, the group was definitely punching above their weight and it's a shame we didn't get more music from them beyond their few singles. Because of their similar name, The Young Monkey Men have often been confused with another band named The Monkey Men who also happen to be from New Jersey. Unlike the younger monkeys, The Monkey Men had a wild streak and were known for riding motorcycles into venues and setting off diy pyrotechnics. 

The Satellite Lounge evolution via Google Maps
 

The Monkey Men were a house band at a famous venue in Cookstown, New Jersey known as The Satellite Lounge, which was destroyed in a fire back in 2013. There's an interesting article on Weird NJ which features some history on the venue, as well as, photos of the long-abandoned club just a year before it was burned down. You'll surely hear The Monkey Men's music on a future episode; however, I should note that although they performed live as The Monkey Men, they recorded under the name The Luv Bandits due to their label's fear that they might be sued by The Monkees.

After The Young Monkey Men, you heard a twangy instrumental track by Pat and The Wildcats named "Green Tomatoes." Were The Wildcats a real band or a purely studio ensemble? Who knows? But what we do know is that the song's writing credits include Pat and Lolly Vegas of Redbone fame. On the show I mentioned that Redbone is known for their most popular hit "Come and Get Your Love" which younger listeners might recognize from the amazing FX show Reservation Dogs. Older listeners probably just recognize the song from, well, being older. 

About halfway through the show, you heard another instrumental track by Calvin Cool and The Surf Knobs named "El Tecolote" which is one of the Spanish words for "owl." Calvin Cool was a pseudonym for the American jazz artist Shorty Rogers, who was an prominent figure in West Coast Jazz which is considered a subset of the wider genre Cool Jazz. The Surf Knobs have one LP under their name and a handful of singles which appear to be tracks pulled straight from the LP, most likely as a way of squeezing out as much money as they could from the recording session. Back in the day, singles, such as those made by The Surf Knobs, appeared in pharmacies and department stores as budget releases. 

During my youth, we also had bargain/generic releases, however, they weren't nearly as cool as the surf rock instrumentals of the 60s but were rather nature field recordings, piano ballads, and various new age schlock produced by companies such as: Gentle Persuasion, Nature Quest, and Lifescapes. What I remember more than the actual releases themselves is the listening kiosks that would often accompany the CDs and tapes. It was always fun mashing the crinkly buttons to hear 30 second clips from each album. I'm sure the sales team at Target loved hearing us kids abruptly switch from the sounds of rain to pan flutes and then to piano covers of adult contemporary hits. 

And finally, I'll mention Japanese GS band The Mummies who played their song "Boogaloo - No.1." At least, I believe their name is The Mummies. Some websites also translated their name as The Mommies and The Mammys. Regardless, the group featured the vocals of Pete Mac, Jr., a singer and actor of both American and Japanese descent. Some of Pete Mac, Jr.'s work includes: acting in the 1972 film Escape where he also provided vocals for the theme, singing the theme for the 1973 drama Suikoden which was later released on the BBC as The Water Margin, and also singing the vocal version of the theme song for the anime Lupin The Third. As for the Lupin theme, Yuji Ohno, the theme's composer, has gone on record stating that the song was too difficult for anyone to sing along with and that he originally had no lyrics in mind when composing the song. Despite this, Ohno believes Mac, Jr. did an acceptable job at singing the theme.

And that's about it for this episode's rundown! Thanks for reading the blog and be sure to listen over the air on KUCR 88.3FM on Saturdays at 9pm PST or listen to an archived version of the show here. You can also listen through KUCR.org, Radio Garden, or Tune-In

You can check out this week's playlist below:

  

Sunday, September 24, 2023

David Lynch Inspired Lego Art and Tony Ronald Asks For Help! - Hippie Love Turbo Radio Show - Code Word "Goji Berry"

This episode of Hippie Love Turbo, on KUCR 88.3 FM, featured a lot of garage rock that was more on the poppy side, followed by some moodier psych tracks towards the end. Sometimes it's fun to rock out to a whirlwind of emotions!

We kicked off this episode with a fun little ditty by Debbie Williams and The Unwritten Law named "Love Seems So Hard To Find." The song's intro is reminiscent of The Doors' "The End" or maybe even The Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" before it quickly transitions into a thumping garage rock anthem. In addition to the dark introduction, you have a 14-year-old Debbie Williams singing lines such as: "Today, today he shot me down because I was tripping hard" with her country twang and higher pitched voice along with a somewhat intense fuzzed out guitar solo which adds to the song's uniqueness. The flip-side of the record, "Ask Me" is a little more straightforward, but highlights the strength of Williams' voice which makes me think of a younger and less gravely Wanda Jackson. 

From what I can find, it appears that Williams never recorded any other songs, which is a shame because I can only assume she would have gotten better with age. As for The Unwritten Law, they recorded at least one more single featuring the songs "This Whole World Is Blind" and "Actions Speak Louder." I'm somewhat surprised that The Unwritten Law didn't go on to record more, being that they seemed to have had the potential to write popular songs, but that's how things worked out for a lot of garage rock bands. You can find more info on the group from this article on Garage Hangover.

As the show went on you heard a Spanish and Dutch band known as Los Zooms perform their song "Give Me More." The band's international heritage comes from the fact that they were formed through singer/musician/producer Tony Ronald who was born in the Netherlands but settled in Spain. Ronald's musical career began after he formed a group known as Kroner's Duo with José Luis Bolívar. At the time, Spanish duo groups were gaining popularity due to the success of Dúo Dinámico, a pop group that frequently appeared in the Spanish charts. Unfortunately for Ronald and Bolívar, Kroner's Duo didn't find similar success. 

Tony Ronald's October 29th, 1971 appearance on Hits à gogo. Any info on that wild car?

However, Tony Ronald eventually stuck music gold with his international hit song "Help (Get me some Help)." Ronald recorded versions in Spanish and English while other artists recorded versions in French, Portuguese, Swedish, German, and Italian. The song is a fairly standard 70s pop song but for some reason it stood out to listeners around the world in ways that many of it's contemporaneous songs didn't.

Towards the halfway point of the show Paupers performed their song "Searching For Someone" and I talked a little bit about the history of their hometown Leavenworth, Kansas. Not only was Leavenworth the first city in Kansas, it also has a unique history as being a place that was initially established by members of the pro-slavery movement before quickly becoming an important part of abolitionism

Naomi Watts, as seen in this video.

Later on, you heard me talk about The Cutaways' hometown of Bellaire, Ohio but rather than delve into the town's past, I talked about the Bellaire Toy and Plastic Brick Museum which is supposedly one of the world's largest unofficial Lego sculpture museums. From the photographs and videos that I've seen, it appears that the museum is in a former school or government building and the exhibits range in scale and subject matter. Funny enough, if you watch Youtuber Daze with Jordan the Lion's video about his trip to the museum, you can spot a portrait of Naomi Watts based on her appearance in David Lynch's film Mulholland Drive. Now I desperately want to see some Lego artwork based on Blue Velvet, Lost Highway, or Eraserhead. Imagine that!

Anywho, that's everything from this episode! Thanks for reading the blog and be sure to listen over the air on KUCR 88.3FM on Saturdays at 9pm PST or listen to an archived version of the show here. You can also listen through KUCR.org, Radio Garden, or Tune-In

You can check out this week's playlist below:

  

Hey Joe, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - Hippie Love Turbo Radio Show - Code Word "Manzano Banana"

This episode of Hippie Love Turbo , on KUCR 88.3 FM kept it international and trippy with some gritty garage towards the beginning and way-...