Archive for December, 2009


The Birthday Party’s Rowland S. Howard (1959-2009)

Rowland S. Howard, guitarist for The Birthday Party and These Immortal Souls has succumbed to liver cancer at the age of 50.  Howard’s work with singer Nick Cave in The Birthday Party was Australia’s most vivid entry into the arty noise assault sweepstakes set off by punk rock.  His guitar style was like a  bludgeon of  textures and wild noise, bolted beneath the chaos to sure and taut rhythms.

A perfect orbital complement to the doomy yelps of Cave, Howard’s beautifully unstable, feedback-laden playing transformed what was a pop-punk contemporary of The Saints and Radio Birdman named The Boys Next Door into a world-class experimental / uncategorizable outfit called the Birthday Party.

I first heard BP’s “Release The Bats” at the age of 14 in 1981 on a mix cassette that also gave me my first exposure to Killing Joke and Gang of Four.  While all three groups effectively destroyed what guitars had been before, leaving a giant crater in my own aesthetic,  it was Howard’s musical brinksmansip that was the most extreme of the three.  It would take years for his approach to re-emerge in the form of US bands adopting the mantle such as Butthole Surfers, Scratch Acid, Cows, God Bullies and The Jesus Lizard.


April 1975 Kraftwerk Radio Interview From Chicago’s Triad Radio

Triad Radio, a Chicago underground music institution so ancient it predates myself, recorded a very rare interview with Kraftwerk’s Ralf Hutter and Florian Schneider way back in April 1975.  The interview cuts off abruptly, but is a must-listen for electronic music fans everywhere and everywhen.

The Triad Radio Interview with Ralf and Florian from Kraftwerk

For context and completeness, bracket the band’s history with an equally rare Ralf Hutter interview from 2009 at Pitchfork.


April 8th: Sirs Raises Volume, Funds For Goethe Elementary School

NOTE: This show’s date has been changed yet again to April 8th 2010.

I play a Telecaster and blurt things in a loud, noisy rock band with Mike Greenlees (ex-Tar) and Tony Jones (ex-Sixteen Tons).  We’re called Sirs.  Our first show has been lined up in Chicago on  April 8th, 2010.  It’s a benefit to raise funds for nearby Goethe Elementary School, whose financial woes are not limited to the problem of having run out of copies of Faust For Kids.  They’re a fine, deserving educational institution and badly need your dollars – and Sirs is willing to trade the rock for them. We want you there.  For further info the show, sign up for the Sirs email list right here:

Subscribe to the Sirs email list.

Confidential to Tar fans:  You might notice the name of the school and put two and two together


David Simon Lays It Down

In which the creator of The Wire singlehandedly validates Vice Magazine’s existence while expertly demonstrating the nuanced reality of social criticism in the late capitalist period:

It’s one thing to recognize capitalism for the powerful economic tool it is and to acknowledge that, for better or for worse, we’re stuck with it and, hey, thank God we have it. There’s not a lot else that can produce mass wealth with the dexterity that capitalism can. But to mistake it for a social framework is an incredible intellectual corruption and it’s one that the West has accepted as a given since 1980—since Reagan. Human beings—in this country in particular—are worth less and less. When capitalism triumphs unequivocally, labor is diminished. It’s a zero-sum game. People paid a much higher tax rate when Eisenhower was president, a much higher tax rate for the benefit of society, and all of us had more of a sense that we were included….I guess what I’m saying is that the overall theme was: We’ve given ourselves over to the Olympian god that is capitalism and now we’re reaping the whirlwind. This is the America that unencumbered capitalism has built. It’s the America that we deserve because we let it happen. We don’t deserve anything better. The Wire was trying to take the scales from people’s eyes and say, “This is what you’ve built. Take a look at it.” It’s an accurate portrayal of the problems inherent in American cities.


Dec 15th: Letters To Santa 24-Hour Benefit At Second City E.T.C.

The modern portrayal of Santa Claus frequently...

Little Haley is too polite to mention Santa's halitosis.

The blindingly popular, mom-pleasing Jeff Tweedy! The backwoods gentleman stomp of Robbie Fulks! The aching balladry of Nina Nastasia! The earnest perspiration of Horatio Sanz! Chicago, can you take 24 solid hours of world-class music and comedy entertainment? No. No you can’t. But you can show up and catch what you can, because it’s for needy kids and will run you a mere fifteen clams at the door. The 24-hour schedule and info:

The Second City is proud to announce the 8th annual event: “The Second City That Never Sleeps: Letters to Santa” – 24 consecutive hours of improvisation by Second City performers and alumni featuring a variety of special guest artists – a tradition that provides presents for needy children during the holiday season and this year wraps up a weekend of events around The Second City ‘s 50th Anniversary.

Doors will open at 5:45pm. The show will begin on Tuesday, December 15th in The Second City e.t.c. (1608 N. Wells St, 2nd Floor of Piper’s Alley) at 6:00pm and will conclude on Wednesday, December 16th at 6:00pm.

An ensemble of Chicago’s best known improvisers (along with alumni of The Second City) will take the stage for an entire 24-hour period. Improvisational games, scenes, songs, monologues and random acts of weirdness inspired by sleep deprivation will accompany performances by such artists as Robbie Fulks, Jeff Tweedy, UCB’s ASSSCAT, Bonnie Prince Billy, The Mountain Goats and The Blisters.

Listed below is the current performance schedule. For schedule updates, visit

Performance Schedule:

12/15/09 – 7:00pm

Jeff Tweedy

12/15/09 – 10:00pm

Robbie Fulks

12/16/09 – 12:00am

UCB’s Asssscat with Matt Walsh, Horatio Sanz and Chicago friends

12/16/09 – 3:00am

Flash-mob Marching Band

12/16/09 – 6:00am

Bonnie Prince Billy

12/16/09 – 7:30am


12/16/09 – 12:00p

Nina Nastasia

12/16/09 – 2:00pm

The Mountain Goats

12/16/09 – 4:30pm

The Blisters

Tickets for “The Second City That Never Sleeps: Letters to Santa” are $15.00 for the 24 hour period and can be purchased at the door. The event is open to all ages. Alcohol will be available to those 21 years and older from 6:00p-2:00a and from noon-6:00pm.

In addition to raffle prizes offered during the event, there will also be an auction to win a private performance with Jeff Tweedy.

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Behind The Greenscreen At Alex Cox’s Repo Chick

For a real eye-opening education on what’s going on with modern low-budget feature filmmaking technology, check out these collected clips from the set of Alex Cox‘s Repo Chick. The film, billed as “not a sequel to 1984’s Repo Man” was shot almost entirely on greenscreen, with backgrounds added later.  The film also features physical stop-motion animation, a real anachronism among all the software, RAID arrays and compositing.

Repo Chick Digital Image Technician Luis Flores walks us through the process:

Behind-the-scenes of the visual FX:

And a uh, well, a, uh..preview. A five-minute film preview.

Three thoughts:

1) God, I hope that perma-shakeycam isn’t in the final cut: I need dramamine.
2) Alex Cox can write better dialog than this!
3) All that digital compositing sure puts images on a screen, doesn’t it? Yep. Right on the screen is where it puts them.

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rob [at] warmowski [dot] com

@warmowski on twitter

Rob’s Bands

Rob Warmowski entry at Chicago Punk Database
1984-89: Defoliants
1991-94: Buzzmuscle
2001-05: San Andreas Fault
2008- : Sirs
2008- : Allende

Rob at Huffington Post

December 2009