Showing posts with label Destroy All Monsters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Destroy All Monsters. Show all posts

1.27.2015

DESTROY ALL MONSTERS:SHINDIG! MAGAZINE ARTICLE IN ISSUE #45

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Shindig! Magazine Issue #45
submitted by Jon 'Mojo' Mills

“Motherfucker it’s comin’ out of your pay”

The genre breaking band DESTROY ALL MONSTERS featured a cast of Detroit deities including Mike Davis (The MC5) and Ron Asheton (The Stooges). COLIN BRYCE talks with them about art, noise and trees

The genre breaking band DESTROY ALL MONSTERS featured a cast of Detroit deities including Mike Davis (The MC5) and Ron Asheton (The Stooges). COLIN BRYCE talks with them about art, noise and trees

The Destroy All Monsters story began as an art project in around 1974 with the meeting of University Of Michigan (based in Ann Arbor) art students Mike Kelley, Jim Shaw, Carey Loren and front-person (most commonly known as) Niagara. Their love, respect and interest for all things trash, outside, artistic, unconventional, free, unfettered and noisy brought them together and paved the way for sonic excursions and sound treatments that should most probably be described as un-easy listening, or even – as a fitting tribute to their hero Godzilla – monstrous; unless of course you have an ear for that sort of thing. An artistic and musical mix up of Sun Ra (a Detroit area favourite), The Velvet Underground, Beefheart, comic books, Beardsley, Man Ray, countless B-movies (gangster, monster, exploitation) and a healthy distrust and distaste for authority and the mainstream and you’ll very nearly have a half-cup of the kool aid the Monsters were drinking.

After a close encounter at a one of their (very few) performances you may have found yourself in love with the bands mixture of cheap organs, effects, feedback, moaning, saxophone, violin, clanging, bashing, squealing, squalling and their interpretations of classics like ‘Nature Boy’ or even Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’. Alternately you may have wished you skipped dropping that second hit of purple micro-dot.

“The art collaboration was a group of us that jammed in a basement for about a year,” explains Niagara. “No one ever heard or saw us, except at a college art show. The earlier stuff was quirky and funny, in an anti-music way. We invented noise music, so they say.”

Hiawatha Bailey is a long-standing face on the Ann Arbor/Detroit scene, a close friend of the band who worked as road crew/sound man for Destroy All Monsters. As a performer in his own right he also shared many bills as a member of The Cult Heroes. He recalls seeing an early DAM show at the college: “It was kind of ’50s beatnik and way out in a way.”

It is after the departure of founder members Shaw and Kelley that Larry and Ben Miller joined the Monsters and helped to set off a newer, jazzier and refined approach to the art sonics of the earlier incarnation. But it was once former Stooges and MC5 members Ron Asheton and (a freshly released from prison) Mike Davis joined the gang that all bets were off and Destroy All Monsters became a more fully-fledged rock band with Niagara front and centre sipping on her (now legendary) can of Tab, her wild mane streaked and piled atop her head, and dressed in some of the finest mini-skirts, heels and leopard print brassieres the budget of an aspiring artist will allow.

“Mike (Davis/MC5) and I were in together at Lexington,” recalls Hiawatha. “After I was released I ended up staying at a friend’s place at Whitmore Lake on about 100 acres... Mike came up there for New Year after being at his father’s place in Detroit... I had set up some space to play... More people ended up coming over and Ron told me about Niagara.” It was up at this property that the new high-energy version of Destroy All Monsters first began to get it together.

It is without doubt that the signing on of Ron Asheton and Mike Davis and their contributions musically brought Destroy All Monsters out of the artistic shadows and onto the much larger world stage. The increasing profile of all things “punk rock” and the influence of Asheton’s and Davis’s former bands on the new “punk” groups – even though their previous bands had only been broken up a few years at that point – allowed Destroy All Monsters to get their mugs in magazines like Creem, Rock Scene, Bomp and others. Asheton’s knack for a crafty, hypnotic riff and his experience working with one-of-a-kind front persons clearly also helped broaden Niagara’s often monochromatic vocal styling’s and appeal.

You could say that Ron and Mike brought a bit more “chrome” in general to the Destroy All Monsters camp (pun intended). As interesting as some of the ideas of the early DAM incarnation were they were still a group of young artists exploring and learning how to apply their chosen aesthetics. Nothing wrong of course with artistic experimentation and it certainly works for Destroy All Monsters on the early tracks like ‘From Edgar Cayce’ or ‘Silver Noise Kill Kill’.

Shindig! Magazine Issue #45
Jon 'Mojo' Mills

8.17.2014

DESTROY ALL MONSTERS ROB KING!!

Rob King photo Dan Sultana

Back in the day....Destroy All Monsters Drummer Rob King's father Richard opened King's Keyboard House in Ann Arbor. Rob started working at the store, cleaning. He started taking piano lessons at age 5 from a private teacher, and by age 12 had discovered the drums. "I liked the way they sounded."


In 1977, Rob joined the band Destroy All Monsters (DAM). Included in the line up was former MC5 bassist Mike Davis, former Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton, and Performer/Artist Niagara Detroit.

They toured England in the late 1970s, played often in New York City, and cut records that were mildly successful. His favorite venue was the Lyceum in England , where DAM boasted an audience of about 4,000 people. He also loved playing at the CBGB in New York, though he prefers the term "new wave" over "punk." DAM played shows with bands such as the Ramones, and other drummers love the way Rob plays...


Rob is working in the Metro Detroit area and he would like to be busy teaching drumming, doing session work and tuning pianos too....He is an absolute genius....by all means we recommend him on all levels! CALL ROB KING 734 478 5568

Here is Rob drumming with Ron Cooke's Dead City Prophets


3.30.2014

THE ASHETON HOUSE WRITTEN BY NIAGARA DETROIT

Scotty and Niagara in Dark Carnival at the Blind Pig 1990 (photo courtesy of Niagara)

THE ASHETON HOUSE

If you ever had the nerve to be within Scott Asheton's force field, you'd have been stunned by his pale, BLUE eyes. He had a deceptively calm demeanor. Dangerous? Yes. You'd find yourself behaving very carefully. This was mid-70's, Ann Arbor.



Scott played drums with Sonic Rendezvous (Fred Smith-MC5, Scott Morgan-Rationals), at Second Chance, a ballroom/bar. Seeing him only made me (and FEW others at that time) miss The Stooges, since their disintegration years before. The last time I saw them: When Metallic K.O was recorded in Detroit.


Scott was a rock solid drummer. His friends called him "Rock.” His tattoo said "Rock Action". 
People even now are intimidated by the memory of him, though he passed away in March 2014. Some wrote me: "He scared the BEJESUS out of me." But his friends adored him. He was a liked guy. No one could stay mad at him.


We met in that club's dressing room. The Ramones also played that night. I wrote for a Parisian mag- “A Letter from Detroit" sort of thing. 

That summer of 1977, Ron Asheton returned from L.A. Finished with his interim, now defunct band, New Order (with Dennis Thompson-MC5). In the next few weeks, he became lead guitar for my band, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. DAM had been, up till then, a basement Art/Noise unit. DAM with Ron Asheton promised to be eccentric & somewhat dazzling to an expectant local music landscape.


Scott's painting  From the Funhouse show CPop 2004 (photo courtesy of Niagara)

Ron brought me to live at the Asheton House. Mrs. Asheton's house. Ann Asheton. "Ann My Ann's" house. Scott lived there too. The brothers were older than I was...one of Ron's relations took to calling him, "Humbert Humbert". 

At this point Scotty was not consistently looking for fights. He'd just put a friendly stranglehold around various necks.

Once, at a bar, he flattened a patron for getting a little sloppy with me. It may have been his sense of loyalty. It may have been his sense of recreation.

 Ron had a saying: "The bigger the front, the bigger the back", meaning whatever persona you're selling on the outside, it will be the opposite of what's on the inside.

Your regular barroom guy (and also persons with any sense) would keep at a safe distance from Scotty.

At all events, whenever children were in Scott's vicinity, they were drawn to him like a magnet. It was axiomatic. They recognized his child's heart. 

Ann Asheton was the head of meal planning for the entire Ann Arbor school system.

Our schedules barely overlapped. Then she'd return in the evening and plan dinner- though none of us ever ate together. She was capable of running a strict household...except that she had given birth to two Stooges so she had seen it all.

 One time there was no bread on the table. Scott questioned, " NO Buns? No Buns, my babe, No Buns."

When I first started living at the House, Scott would call out, ''Niagara! Look out the window! What's that? It's a witch! What's she saying? You're gonna die!"
("Looking out the window and a witch flew by
 Whipping her broomstick, she said, “You're Gonna Die, You're Gonna die You’re Gonna Die, You're Gonna Die"- my lyrics to DAM's first single: Bored b/w You're Gonna Die)

Very funny.

The Routine: 
We'd sleep till late afternoon, and then went to our respective band practices. After practice, if there was a party, we'd inevitably meet up.

 During daylight hours, Scotty was often non-communicative, grouchy. But we were so busy, and life moved forward. But at night, refueled with necessary libations, he was charming. He was himself. If you found him at a party, you ALWAYS knew where to find him. He was static. He was anti-mingle.



Other times, we'd head for some club. Every current and upcoming Punk band traveled through Joe's Star Bar. When they became more famous, they'd play at the aforementioned, The Chance. We played the same circuit locally. The bands would want to meet us.

They would especially like to tell Ron that his guitar playing was their Holy Grail. It was said by EVERY band's guitarist. The braver ones were also excited to meet Scott.

 If we didn't go on to an after hours party, Ron & I would come home and continue cocktails. Scott would arrive a bit later. 

Ron would rock in the den (he was a rocking chair addict) which was open to the kitchen. Scott would begin gathering his one real meal...after hours of torturing the drums.

For kicks, Ron quietly would pursue the hobby of writing down everything Scott consumed. The lists cracked Ronny up, being so vast and varied, Scotty's appetite being creatively inspired by marihuana. He'd sometime stand in the kitchen, push out his stomach, pat it and muse: "...Yeah...I think I'm going to get me that jumpsuit."!

Ron and Scott were masters at turning nothing into a good time. Deep down they had the wounds of being kicked around. Ron really knew how to tell a story. Scott was more the one-liner type.

Though they remembered the good times in The Stooges, they could never forget the painful ones. Ron could transform anything depressing into an irony or a funny joke. They both had practice at that.

Scott was even younger than Ron when they lost their father. He was an aviator in WWII who gave young Ron piloting lessons. The young Scott became a loner type, a rebel.

They seemed so different, almost opposite.

   Scotty's Busted Drum Head (trashed after only 3 practices) (photo courtesy of Niagara)

But their humor was interwoven. There was shorthand there, key words and verbal signals that were unexpected and unique only to them...and hilarious. 

If we weren't practicing, recording or touring...the nights were ours. Ron and I would hang out in the den. The TV was on the one late night channel: "Cinema Sixty-Two".

The station had a rotation of three movies. The announcer had a lisp, so it was: "THINEMA THIXTY-TWO". Scott was up in his room watching the same thing. He'd come down at every commercial to convey some one-liner spoofing the film, or whatever. We'd never know what to expect.



Sometimes Scott would bring down a "priceless gem" - like show and tell - to entertain me. (His room was always locked, as soon as he went in or out). He had nothing really. But he'd make something of nothing. Once it was their high school year book (photos of Ron, none of Scott) with scrawling to Scott from lovesick girls. When I lived there, one woman wrote Scotty a letter or poem everyday. He'd leave these on the kitchen table, opened...and then, unopened.

Eventually Scott would tell me of a special movie that was going to be on. Something he liked, that he thought I would like. Tennessee Williams, Brando, a quirky, bittersweet love story. Really unexpected. 
Ron liked war movies and could answer every question on those egghead game shows. (Of course, both loved The 3 Stooges. Ron had EVERY one of them memorized by heart. Though you already knew that he was the one who christened "The Stooges").



Once there was a siege at the Asheton House. I don't know how it started. Scotty got his nudie mags and cut out ONLY ASSES and taped them up wherever Ron and I would unexpectedly stumble across them…on our bedroom door...the lampshades! Anywhere where it would be in our faces! It went on for a week-at least. Whenever we thought it was over, we'd open the fridge and... ASS!

Meanwhile, just the rumor of a band called DESTROY ALL MONSTERS with Ron Asheton playing guitar had everyone buzzing. Our first show sealed the deal. We became press darlings.
We traveled, played wild gigs, toured England. Ron and I soon moved out of the Asheton House.

In the mid-80's to mid-90's, I moved from Ann Arbor to front Detroit's DARK CARNIVAL. Ron joined soon after. Scott became the drummer. We practiced from where this is being written. On the wall hangs a Remo hard core drumhead...which Scott had busted through in no time. It's signed: "Tell 'em how I feel, Scott Asheton".



I can never go back to those days. But sometimes, they come back to me.
 Last night I dreamed that I was standing in front of the Asheton House. 
And light was shining from its windows

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