Punk rock refuses to die. I'm not complaining. Wait 'till the white trash starts blaring the first Dead Boys elpee a la "Stairway to Heaven" and then I'll whine.
Until then, nope. Testosterone is every young man's Gawd given right, dammit, and anyone who argues this point can go straight away and play with their pansy little selves. Testosterone is alive and well, and sprouting around in the very same city which houses the country's largest campus (Ohio State) and the world's smallest college radio station (WOSR). This comes up only to show just how amazing it is that this overgrown cowtown, seemingly with little regard for punk and all who sail on her, could hold two bands with the immense yowl and kick that Gaunt and the New Bomb Turks have.
I mean, come on, what else has Ohio come up with? Nine Inch Nails?? (Oof). Okay, yeah, the Dead Boys. And you could certainly do worse than Pere Ubu and Scrawl, not to mention the RC Mob. But DBs aside, who really seems interested in beating the holy living Hell out of yer ears? Gaunt, that's who. Rising from the ashes of a band called Black Juju, guitarist/vocalist Jerry Wick and bassist Eric Barth got together with drummer Jeff Regensburger (who, by the way, didn't know how to play drums), looked at each other's emancipated state, and settled on a band name. Recording a single for local cheesedick singles label Datapanik before they had even played out, they left the gate running, playing their first gig (opening for Beat Happening in Iowa City) despite the fact they had no bass. Jerry and Jeff, five songs. Woo woo, punk rock.
Back home, the threesome added Jim Weber on another guitar, mostly for his torrential crunch, but partly because singer Jerry often dropped/threw/kicked/burned/hammered/broke/otherwise lost control of his guitar whilst in the throes of grungoid passion. Jim's on the cover of the first Gaunt thing, he's just not actually on it. Live, he gave the group just what it needed: screech, enough to augment that emitting from the singer's throat.
Then came the Fielder's Choice EP, which featured, among other things, a love song to local kiddie hero Suzi, and the song "Pollution", which, no, was not directly stolen from the Dead Boys' "Sonic Reducer" (play the thing and you'll see what I mean). It kicked much ass, especially on the East Coast, more of which I'll be getting to later.
After Fielder's Choice, then came their crowning glory (to me, at least), the single Jim Motherfucker. Play it really fuckin' loud with the bass cranked and you'll have a vague idea of what the band sounds like live. Almost. The single sold out almost immediately 1, and, with "Pollution" ranting the way it was, the band soon discovered that it had nothing in print a few short weeks after getting the test pressing back on Jim. Yow. Incidentally, Jim not only had the coolest promotional concept ever (Jim Motherfucker beer. Yes, it exists. Mmm...beer), it marked the birth of another Columbus label, Anyway 2, which shared pressing credit with the already slightly famous Datapanik.
So, on the strength of all this shit, they get invited to open for the illustrious Lisa Suckdog at CBGBs, where they played really well despite a lack of a soundcheck.
"Hi, we're a shitty punk rock band fom Ohio. Eat a lot of corn. Fuck a lot of pigs.." mumbles Jim from the strangely elevated stage just before ripping into "Pollution". Rock n' Roll meets Niagra Falls. Matt Dillon, for some reason, shows up (must have been doing homework. Obviously wasn't paying attention). The band gets their picture taken with Lisa, Jeff forges a fifteen minute relationship with Lisa cohort Darcy, and the whole crew finds a hero in co-cohort Costas. Buys a shirt with a naked rendering of the man (which an aged couple in Podunk finds most interesting when Eric walks into a Burger King wearing it right after the church group or something lets out).
Back home, Jim leaves the band to focus his attention on his other group, the band which shared the first Datapanik single with Gaunt, the New Bomb Turks. Los Turks also include one Eric Davidson on vox, Mett Reber, late of the band Oatybontai, on bass, and Bill Randt on drums 3, who has previously been in a group called the Bloody Pussy America Task Force (don't ask). Mixing 50s Eddie Cochranisms with the sound of a collapsing cement truck, the band was pinned "Saintsesque" (refering to the early stuff, not the "hi I'm very large and Van Morrison now" stuff) by someone from Superchunk when they opened for them. Their first single, the one they shared with Gaunt, won them admiration abroad where, for a little while, it stayed. Things picked up considerably when the band contributed three deadly tracks to the Datapanik compilation CD Bumped for Karaoke, especially "Sucker Punch" 4, which bears the honor of flooring me, Datapanik label head Craig Regala, and Boy Scout Love Triangle leader John Stickley simultaneously. That's harder than you might think. If you've heard the thing, you know what I mean.
So, "Sucker Punch". Take the Damned's "New Rose" and run it through a meat grinder backwards just after giving it a good three or four hundred hits of speed and you'll come close. On stage, the band sounds like a train wreck, the speed of which depends on just how much beer Bill has had. Davidson flops around like a lounge lizard from Hell, spewing "Oi!" when the mood strikes, parodying bad rock star moves so well some of the less bright audience members think he's serious.
Some take it a bit too seriously. At a Rolling Stones tribute, Eric offers "Fuck you, all you classic rock motherfuckers" to the thousand-plus crowd. Some people have no sense of humor. Punk rock, woo woo, to quote Bill's perpetually erect roommate Pat.
So, back to the music. The CD tracks snag the attention of Germany's Crypt records, who commission a full length LP which is so good it makes my balls crawl up into my body cavity. Testosterone, man. They also find time to do another Datapanik single, which features covers of the Nervous Eaters' "Just Head" and Radio Birdman's "Do the Pop". Again, testosterone. The inside label catches heat from local feminists for showing a caracature of a woman with breasts larger than her cartoon head, missing the irony of the whole 50s kitch package. Testosterone. Woo woo.
The Turks live together (just like the Monkees). This is more important than you might think. For one, it helps the four young lads deal with many of the trials and tribulations of being a band from the midwest (i.e. midwesterners.) For another, it means they develop the ever-important psychic connection that all great bands need, no shit. See 'em, I dare you to disagree with me.
Gaunt and the Turks are friends (remember, Weber was in both bands at one point,) so they decide to do a one city American tour together, commissioning me, whom Mister Regala had bequeathed the Datapanik crown to, to get the guys there. The Philadelphia gig could have gone better, but who cares? Both bands survive, holding to the first rule of touring, and we spend all our money on records in New Yawk. We get to meet a lot of important record-type people (Matt knows everyone.) We get to see Jerry go into more conniption fits on stage. We get to clean Eric's butt prints off the window. We get to guess which one of us ate the tuna sandwich that Bill tells us he jerked off into. We meet Shields (from Shields and Yarnell.) No one gets laid. Well, Jerry does, but he already knew the girl. Doesn't count. Future trips pending.
So now what? Well, Gaunt has a ten incher on the way on the Thrill Jockey label, which will be called Whitey the Man 5. (This title won out over the slightly less snappy The Old Man With, Like, A Bunch Of Sticks On His Back, Kinda Hunched Over EP, and This Beam Of Light, Like, Refracting Through a Triangle, And Then It Comes Out Colors On The Other Side EP.) They also wanna do another Datapanik single (which makes me happy,) and Jerry is the guy who works with Anyway label head Bela Koe-Krompecher, so god knows there'll probably be a single there too. 6
Turkwise, well, they're gonna tour Europe to push the Crypt album (which, by the way, contains a cover of Wire's "Mr. Suit" that makes me weep. If you don't like it, you suck.) They're probably gonna do another Datapanik thing. 7 They're not gonna go away. 8 Neither is Gaunt. 9 Wake up, cheese. These bands are too good for dorks like you to let them slide away into obscurity, so it is your job, nay, your duty, to pounce, engulf, grab everything you can by these guys before your record geek grandkids curse you for not doing so. I'm warning you.
Started by one Craig Robert Regala to "give people a reason to talk to me", Datapanik stole its name from the first Pere Ubu EP (keeping it in the family) and took its first single from local dudes the Boys From Nowhere and Two Hour Trip. (Two Hour Trip would later splinter into Gaunt in the form of Eric Barth, and the Spurgeon brothers would later become, among other things, Big Red Sun and later, Greenhorn. Boys From Nowhere are still kicking.) 500 copies, way gone. 10 Two covers of Ohio originals Peter Laughner and Mike Rep and the Quotas. (Mike Rep: still going. Peter Laughner: not).
Next came the Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments fronted by ex-Great Plains throat Ron House, and Monster Truck Five, who weren't. This ten minute-plus collective grunt led into other singles by Pica Huss, Girly Machine (whose Dana Marshall would later go on to join Scrawl), Big Red Sun and Greenhorn. Everything that I have mentioned is completely gone. Hell, even I didn't have copies of most of this stuff for one Hell of a long time, and I'm running the label now, fer Chrissakes. Hence; don't bug me for 'em. Go to your local neighborhood collector slime.
Then, the Holy Grail. Well, okay, not the Holy Grail, but a CD called Bumped For Karaoke; Datapanik's Greatest Hits Volume Two. This title led to such questions as "Who's in this band Datapanik?" "What's Volume One?" "What the fuck is Karaoke?" (For your information, Karaoke is the Nineties' equivalent to roller disco. Gaunt and The Boy Scout Love Triangle got bumped for it one night). It's little things like this that make you realize that the underground is no smarter than the mainstream.
The CD spawns much attention, and even insires (sort of) a video called Jacked Outta 'tard School; Datapanik's Greatest Hits Volume Four, which isn't done yet. At last check, it was running sixteen hours long and Coppola was looking for more financial backing. No, asshole. I'll get done some day. 11
The CD, along with the Datapanik singles bands, feature other local heroes like V3, Blood Family, Stupid Fucking Hippie, the G-Spot Tornados, Appalachian Death Ride, the Boy Scout Love Triangle, and Shepard/Cicirella. It has the distinction of being the biggest bill Datapanik has ever had. It's got this really cool thing on it that Jeff Regensburger's son Jeffery Jr. did. 12 It's got Ron House's face staring at you from behind the typeface. What the hell else do you want?
Speaking of Ron, he had the brilliant idea to spend a whole shitload of cash in such a way that it would be physically impossible to get a cent back,...which he did, quite successfully. The Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments' You Can't Kill Stupid promo EP, free for the asking, 300 made, so gone it's a bad joke to even ask. Hoo boy, did it grab people's attention. Twenty minutes of rant that I really wish Ron would let me release commercially. 13 If you can't live without it, send me a blank and a buck and I'll dub it for ya. It was set up to promote a seven inch that so far has not been recorded yet. 14 The man has made himself a hero/role model/ martyr to thousands simply by being nice. What is this country coming to??
After that...well, I told you already. Not much else to say, except that I've got a whole lot of requests for free records to answer, it's 3:30 in the morning, and I've got to get up tomorrow and go to my job of teaching young girls how not to drive into things. Oh yeah, we're gonna do another Greenhorn single in conjunction with Anyway (who have just put out another Appalachian Death Ride seven), and we're also gonna do an Anyway thing with four Columbus bands called the Cowtown EP, and...whatever. That's about it for now. Have fun and don't get killed.
|Return to the Datapanik Records Discography Index.||Last Updated: 28 August 2006|