American punk bassist Steve Soto, RIP


This music video from the USA says about itself:

Adolescents: Amoeba. Live at the house of blues

16 December 2014

Ripped from Adolescents’ live performance at House of Blues.

Adolescents are:

Tony Cadena: Vocals
Frank Agnew: Guitar
Casey Royer: Drums
Steve Soto: Bass
Rikk Agnew & Steve Roberts: Guitar

By Josh Varlin in the USA:

Punk bassist Steve Soto dead at 54

10 July 2018

Steve Soto, bassist for Agent Orange and Adolescents, passed away June 27. According to his musical collaborators and the Orange County, California coroner’s office, he died in his sleep of natural causes at the age of 54.

During his four-decade musical career, Soto was the bassist and sometime vocalist for several punk bands, including Agent Orange, Adolescents, Legal Weapon, Joyride, Manic Hispanic, 22 Jacks and Punk Rock Karaoke. He also fronted his own band, Steve Soto and the Twisted Hearts.

Soto was born August 23, 1963, and grew up in Southern California. He grew up listening to the Beatles and Johnny Cash, whose famed live album At San Quentin (1969) he termed “the first punk rock record that I ever listened to.” In the late 1970s he began listening to punk bands like the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the Clash and the Damned, who were responding to the more ornate music of the bands that preceded them by stripping their music down and speeding it up.

This musical stripping down was also a social reflex, a reaction to the decline of industry and the increasingly straitened circumstances for wide layers of the working class population. Under these conditions, to a certain stratum of musicians and music listeners, the overblown, orchestral sounds of the mid-1970s now seemed inappropriate and even offensive.

When Soto, whose father’s family emigrated from Mexico, was in high school, he co-founded Agent Orange, which combined surf rock and punk with an especially nihilistic bent. Soto left the band before they released their first album, but the version of “Bloodstains” on which he played bass is included in the 30th anniversary edition of Living in Darkness (originally 1981).

“Bloodstains” exemplifies many of the qualities of Soto’s bands and punk rock more generally: lyrics expressing alienation … fast-paced music, menacing bass and distorted guitar. On it, Mike Palm, who wrote the song when he was 15, sings, “Well, I know they know the way I think / I know they always will / But someday I’m gonna change my mind / Sometimes I’d rather kill.” Despair and nihilism, genuine and exaggerated, were prominent in the music of the Southern California hardcore scene of the early 1980s, which included bands like Black Flag, the Circle Jerks, Fear and the Germs.

Soto is best known for his work with Adolescents, a seminal hardcore punk band of which he was the only constant member. In between numerous break-ups and reunions, Adolescents released eight records, with their ninth record, Cropduster, just released July 7. They had just finished a tour of the eastern US and were preparing for a European tour at the time of Soto’s death.

After some personnel changes, Adolescents coalesced into a lineup consisting of Soto on bass, Tony Cadena as lead vocalist, Casey Royer on drums and brothers Rikk and Frank Agnew on guitar. Their debut record, the eponymous Adolescents (1981), was a formative album in the emerging hardcore punk subgenre. Soto was only 16 at the time.

Adolescents is a blistering album, with 13 songs clocking in under half an hour. Like hardcore as a whole, the album expresses the dissatisfaction and restlessness of a layer of working-class and middle-class youth, which only deepened after the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

However, this generally expressed itself in confused and antisocial ways. Hardcore Punk fans (as distinct from the earlier punks of 1975-80 in Los Angeles) often fought each other, as well as hippies and gays. (They in turn were frequently brutalized by the Los Angeles and other local police forces.) Adolescents protested against this, stopping their shows if fights got beyond the consensual activities of the mosh pit and criticizing senseless violence in their lyrics: “It’s like Clockwork Orange, a bit of twenty on one / Breaking heads, well that don’t sound like much fun” (“Rip It Up”).

This music video is called Adolescents – Rip It Up.

Another reflection of this alienation was self-destructive behavior, including the widespread use of drugs and alcohol. (Soto struggled with alcoholism for years.) One of Adolescents’ best known and most musically ambitious songs, “Kids of the Black Hole,” deals with this.

This music video is called Adolescents – Kids of the Black Hole.

At its best, Adolescents expressed youthful discontent in a musically innovative way. Soto’s co-written lyrics on tracks such as “Who Is Who” and “Democracy”, as well as his relentless bass playing, were part of this, along with the interplay of the Agnew brothers’ guitar playing.

Adolescents was one of the first Southern California hardcore albums sold widely out of the region, selling over 10,000 copies. However, the band broke up shortly after the record’s release, before they even toured outside of California.

While they reformed and broke up again multiple times over the years, Adolescents’ later material doesn’t reach the heights of their self-titled debut, although some songs dealt more directly with political matters, especially opposition to war, including “Babylon by Bomb”, “Brats in Battalions” and “Wars Aren’t Won, Wars Are Fought.”

Also noteworthy is the song “A Dish Best Served Cold”, from their 2014 album La Vendetta. Soto explained in an interview that the song was about the police murder of Kelly Thomas, a young homeless man with schizophrenia who was beaten to death by Fullerton, California police in 2011. “We were coming out to peaceful protests in front of the police department”, Soto said. After the police officers who killed Thomas were acquitted, band members continued their involvement with the issue, including working with Thomas’ father on changing laws protecting police from legal accountability.

This music video is called Adolescents – A Dish Best Served Cold.

Soto’s other projects were more lighthearted. He was active in Manic Hispanic, a supergroup of Hispanic punks who cover punk songs while changing the lyrics to discuss Chicano life, including dealing with immigration authorities. Soto also toured with Punk Rock Karaoke, which features audience members as lead vocalists.

… Adolescents put out anti-war songs during the Obama years, something relatively rare in the punk genre.

In the weeks before Soto’s death, Adolescents’ Twitter account retweeted articles on the separation of immigrant children from their parents and posted statements opposed to war, police violence, the bombing of Syria and the Israeli oppression of Palestinians.

Soto’s impact on music is indicated by the reaction to his death, with the Offspring, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, the Vandals, Suicidal Tendencies and Frank Turner lamenting his passing in social media statements.

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Psychords, Sex Pissed Dolls, women punk rockers


This music video from England says about itself:

Psychords performing [their song] I Wanna Live Like Joey Ramone, Live! on the Arena Stage at Rebellion Festival in the Winter Gardens, Blackpool. Friday 4th August 2017.

This blog blogged earlier about (mostly) female punk rock musicians, inspired by, or tribute bands to, the Ramones; often called the Ramonas or similar names.

Another band like that are the Psychords, three women from Italy featured in the video above.

This music video from England says about itself:

SEX PISSED DOLLS (drummer ANNA KEY) BLITZKRIEG BOP, WELLOFEST 16 JULY 2016

The Sex Pissed Dolls formed at the end of 2014 with Nancy Doll (vocals), Kitty Vacant (guitar), Connie Rotter (guitar), Jilly Idol (bass) and Anna Key (drums) playing the punk songs that they all love. In 2015 they took on the massive 50 plus date “Never Needed Bollocks” tour playing venues all over the country and receiving fantastic reviews. 2015 also saw the rising of “The Dolls Barmy Army”, an ever-growing legion of fans who loyally follow the girls from gig to gig.

In 2016 the girls stomp off on their “Daughters of Anarchy” tour which included the opening set at The Isle of Wight Festival. The Dolls have very quickly become one of the must see live bands of the moment. Now writing and performing original material and planning to release their debut album later this year it’s going to be an exciting Rock and Rollercoaster 2016.

That video was a Ramones song. They also cover Sex Pistols songs; the Sex Pistols from whom they derived their name.

This music video from England says about itself:

The Sex Pissed Dolls performing God Save The Queen Live! at Wolverhampton’s Robin 2 in Bilston. Saturday 5th September 2015.

Ramones, Ramonas, Ramonettes, female tribute bands


This music video series is It’s Alive: The Rainbow Theatre Full Concert in London, England in 1977, by the Ramones from the USA.

The Ramones were very influential on the rise of punk rock in the late 1970s. They inspired bands like the Dead Kennedys, the Dead Boys, Green Day and many others in the USA; the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Slits etc. in Britain.

Very unfortunately, now all four original members of the Ramones are dead.

But their songs survive. Many bands play cover versions of them.

Eg, there were/are at least two [UPDATE: at least five] female Ramones tribute bands; or were/are they tribute bands? And were/are they all female all of the time?

This March 2016 music video from Britain says about itself:

The RamonasRamona [originally by the Ramones] (live)

The Ramonas are an all female tribute to the iconic New York punk rock band Ramones.

Originally conceived back in 2004 with multiple different lineups, The Ramonas have evolved into a fully fledged, razor-sharp live band in their own right!

Touring, Touring is never boring and these girls are guaranteed to play high energy, full throttle one hour shows that’ll leave you buzzing for more of that 1976 spirit.

These four lovable cretins rarely even stop for a quick sip of water and a hello.. It’s 1234 and they’re onto the next hit, and the great thing is that they do it all in their own unique way.. wherever they play, from the UK to Europe to the USA!

Some say playing the Ramones tunes is easy, but capturing the vibe and essence of such a well-loved band mixed with the required speed, stamina and endurance is no mean feat..

Cloey, Pee Pee, Margy and Rohnny are definitely here to stay! Gabba Gabba HEY!!!

Vocals –Cloey Ramona (Lisa Breyer)
Guitar – Rohnny Ramona (Zoe Waugh)
Bass – Pee Pee Ramona (Victoria Smith)
Drums – Margy Ramona (Kate Wilkinson)

Ramonas loga

This is the Ramonas logo. Inspired by the Ramones logo (which is a parody of the United States presidential seal). Like in the Ramones logo, the eagle holds a baseball bat.

This 2017 music video from England is called The Ramonas live at Rebellion Festival 2017. Playing Ramones songs Blitzkrieg Bop and Pinhead.

This 2017 music video recorded in Germany is called The Ramonas – Pinhead live in Mannheim. Another Ramones song.

The Ramonas write some of the songs themselves now; like the ones on this album.

Some of their lyrics comment on social or political issues:

Nothing shocks us anymore. The rich get rich, the poor stay poor. Money holds the power. Look down from their tower.

From 1987-1994, in the Netherlands there was another all women band with almost the same name: Ramona’s. Just a bit different name, as the Dutch plural requires an ‘ before the s.

The band’s members:

Jolan – background vocals, bass
Sammy – drums (1991-1994)
Mirjam – guitar (1991-1994)
Marguerite Melchers – guitaar, vocals
Mo – background vocals, drums (1987-1991)

When the band started they played cover versions of Iggy Pop, The Clash, X-Ray Spex, and Nancy Sinatra (strangely enough not of The Ramones). They wrote songs themselves later.

Ramona's

This is a 1994 Ramona’s photo.

This music video from the USA says about itself:

Ramonas-Betty’s Dead

Bio By She Rox, All Female Bands: The Ramonas who hail from San Francisco, California, are the original “Ramonas” not to be confused with the all female U.K Ramones cover band or the Australian all female cover band; both are named The Ramonas. San Francisco Ramonas was not a cover band of the Ramones, all though the Ramones influence may seem evident in style. The band performed original songs. The Ramonas were at the forefront of the underground punk rock movement that was beginning in the late 1980’s early 1990’s when hair metal dominated the music industry. The Ramonas were one of the very few all female bands at this time that rivaled their male counterparts like early Green Day, and Dinosaur Jr and although they only released one full length album in 1990, “Out Of The Basement”, they helped pave the way for bands like The Lunachicks and L7. Suzee-Guitar, Kitze-Vocals, Shelly-Drums, Patty-Bass.

San Francisco Ramonas logo

I did not find anything about the Australian Ramonas. I did find something about Australian tribute band The Ramonettes; including guitarist Suzy Ramone (to which she changed her name in 1979; three years after buying her first Ramones record).

This 28 April 2014 video is called Ramonettes Live in Montpellier: Suzy is a Headbanger & Let’s Dance. Australian Ramones tribute.

This is a 2013 Ramonettes video.

The Ramonettes started in 2001.

And let us not forget the Argentine Ramonas; founded in 2009. 4 female, 1 male, at least in this 2012 video showing one of their songs (not a Ramones song). At other times, 2 male, 2 female. Their Facebook page is here.

British singer Mark E Smith, RIP


This 1977 live music video is the song Hey fascist, by the Fall.

I saw the Fall in 1978 at my first London punk rock gig, at Acklam Hall. Brian James (ex-Damned guitarist) and his then band the Brains also played that night.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Mark E Smith dead: The Fall’s lead singer dies aged 60

Punk singer died was forced to cancel shows last year amid reports of ill health

Ilana Kaplan

The Fall’s lead singer Mark E Smith has died. He was 60.

The band’s manager and Smith’s partner, Pam Van Damned, made the announcement via The Fall Online.

“It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of Mark E. Smith,” she said in a statement.

“He passed this morning at home. A more detailed statement will follow in the next few days.

“In the meantime, Pam & Mark’s family request privacy at this sad time.”

It had been reported that Smith was ill for some time, which led to show cancellations in late 2017.

In October, he performed at a Wakefield concert in a wheelchair.

Tributes were led by Smith’s former wife and ex-band member, Brix Smith Start, who posted: “I’m taking the news in right now. I will put a statement out tomorrow. I hope you will all understand.

“Thank you for your lovely messages, they mean a lot. I love you, Brix”.

Born in 1957, Smith formed The Fall with Martin Bramah and Tony Friel aged just 19.

The band became a part of the 1970s punk movement and, while it went through several line-up changes, Smith was the founder and constant member of the band.

The Fall never quite found commercial success, but helmed a cult fan base care of their 32 studio albums.

Their most successful single was a cover version of the Kinks’ “Victoria”.

The band’s most recent record New Facts Emerge came out in 2017.

Smith previously worked with Elastica, Gorillaz and Inspiral Carpets.

The Fall’s Mark E Smith was the voice of the northern working-class culture that inspired him, says DAVID WILKINSON.

British disabled punk rocker Penny Pepper interviewed


This video from Britain says about itself:

Morning Stories | Penny Pepper On The Problem With ‘Sensible’ Shoes

24 August 2015

Penny Pepper, a disabled writer, talks about rebelling against the “what’s best” rhetoric when it comes to fashion.

By Felicity Collier in Britain:

‘The world was a liar and I had too much to say to listen to its prejudice’

Thursday 23rd November 2017

Self-confessed saucepot PENNY PEPPER talks to Felicity Collier about the life experiences informing her recently published memoir

JUST before she starts her reading in a Camden Town pub from her memoirs First in the World Somewhere, Penny Pepper is abuzz with anecdotes from her punk youth, be they striking up a rapport with Morrissey or performing gigs in front of Diane Abbott.

A writer and disabled-rights activist, she instigated change in the 1980s by firing off a letter to music magazine Jamming! calling for equal access to gig venues.

The reaction she stirred led to her meeting her first love, forming a band, and recognition that, if punk is about “breaking down barriers,” that must include disability rights.

Her memoirs follow Penny’s childhood and adolescence in the Chilterns where she was keen to escape her lot with an abusive stepfather and a home life she describes as “a prison, hell.”

She savoured times when there was enough money for batteries to power her radio so she could listen to John Peel (“an absolute saviour”) and, when she first heard The Smiths, she immediately bought “everything they had breathed on.”

Feeling represented by Morrissey’s outsider lyrics, Penny wrote to him “endlessly” and was rewarded with a vinyl copy of Barbarism Begins at Home.

Another pivotal moment was watching Siouxsie Sioux and the Sex Pistols on TV setting the tone for a new youth movement.

Rejecting “the designated life of the cripple,” and the restrictive attitudes from health professionals, she was determined not to live a life ruled by Still’s disease, the arthritic condition which affects her joints and requires her to use a wheelchair

Her dream of living an independent life in London was granted when Ken Livingstone, then Greater London Council leader, acted on a letter she wrote. “Letter writing was my escape, my way of fighting back in the world,” she tells me. “The power of my words took me somewhere.”

Cue letters to the Greenham Common women, membership of CND and Rock against Racism, all provoked by “hating Thatcher and everything she stood for.”

She moved in with her partner-in-crime Tamsin — also disabled — and the pair studied, partied and made music together.

“We didn’t think we shouldn’t do what other people do in their twenties,” she says, recalling how at that time disabled people lived with their parents or in a care home. She was intent on avoiding “incarceration” and the sense that her destiny was set in stone was vehemently rejected when she decided to write.

But it took a long time for her to realise that she had “as much right as anyone else” to tell her story. As with writing, so it was with having a sexual identity as a disabled person. She published a pamphlet on the subject and wrote erotic fiction and her candid and vivid memoirs are excellent testament to her tackling ignorance and discrimination.

As a musician, record company executives “leered” over her breasts, she recalls, but took umbrage at her wheelchair. It was an awakening — being made to feel like she could not belong or be sexy because she used a wheelchair and had arthritis. “I decided the world was a liar and I had far too much to say to listen to its prejudice.”

Outrageously funny and brilliantly defiant, Penny is now in her fifties and she has an enduring identification with anarchism, defining it as mutual aid that involves people who are “programmed to help each other to survive rather than the survival of the fittest that capitalism thrives on.”

Yet she’s been a socialist all her life and has a lot of hope for Jeremy Corbyn. Penny encountered Corbyn in the summer while fundraising and he has supported her disability campaign group Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC).

“He’s definitely captured the imagination of people — he’s made politics fresh. You can’t undo the passion he’s stirred. For the many, not the few!” she chortles.

Penny and her partner were among the first to have a home help in their own flat. She refused to be placed in a care home in an impersonal system, instead demanding independence in her youth.

But there was a battle to have disabled access fitted to the front door when she was forced to move house and the couple encountered fierce opposition from neighbours.

These days, she works with DPAC in its campaigns against the government’s dismantling of social care, including the fight to preserve the Independent Living Fund that enables disabled people to live independently in their own homes, with visiting personal assistants.

But she is not, she says, “vulnerable” and it’s a word she hates. “It’s really abused. I’m no more vulnerable than anyone else, unless my social care is threatened.”

Of government cuts, she says: “We’re talking about basic equalities — being able to sleep and not in your own pee.” It’s a shocking testament to today’s government because, as she points out, Thatcher ignored disabled people, “but she gave us benefits.”

First in the World Somewhere is available from Unbound, unbound.com. Penny is appearing in Brighton tonight at New Writing South, 9 Jew Street. British Sign Language-interpreted.

Under the Tories, attempted suicides by disability benefit claimants have doubled – why won’t Theresa May scrap the work capability assessment? Here.

British Theresa May stabbed in back by her own Conservatives


This is a music video of British punk rock band The Damned playing their song Stab your back.

Talking of backstabbing – British Conservative politicians are doing that right now to their own Prime Minister Theresa May.

Today, the (pro-Conservative, Rupert Murdoch-owned) Sunday Times writes that Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May is facing pressure from her fellow Tory MPs, 40 of which it says have agreed to sign a letter of no confidence if she fails to settle the Brexit divorce bill. Eight more no confidence Conservative MPs would, according to party rules, make enough to force Ms May to have a new party leader election.

The Daily Telegraph (nicknamed ‘The Daily Torygraph’) headlines on its front page today: Harness Thatcher to beat Corbyn, Tories told. That would be a bit difficult, as Baroness Thatcher died in 2013. And she was cremated, not buried, so the Conservative party cannot even dig up a rotting corpse to ‘harness’.

The Daily Torygraph Telegraph does not say whether the Conservatives, in their desperation, might consider ‘harnessing’ their supporter, old Margaret Thatcher mate and serial child abuser Sir Jimmy Savile. Contrary to Thatcher, in Savile‘s case it would at least be possible to dig up a rotten corpse. Kind of fitting now with one Tory sex scandal after another.

BORIS JOHNSON finally said sorry yesterday as pressure mounted on him to resign after making a colossal blunder that could see a British mum spend an extra five years in an Iranian jail.

THE TORIES’ civil war over Brexit continued to rage yesterday after PM May received a letter from 30 Tory MPs. The letter urged her to get tough with the EU negotiators over a Brexit deal: here.