#2: Our hearts are filled with lube & glitter
Middle-Aged Queers; A. Swayze & the Ghosts; Rap Sabbath; hhhhhh; Shit Life
Hello subscribers! Here’s hoping you’re not at the beach or storming a state capitol building with your AR-15. At BNB HQ in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, we’re keeping a low profile and occasionally seeing the guy who played Matt Saracen on our walks. I always want to tell him that I’ve visited the home of the Dillon Panthers, so he can stare at me blankly and be like, “Cool. You know I’ve done other stuff, right?” (Answer: I’m vaguely aware of it, yes.)
Except for livestreams, live music doesn’t exist at the moment, and indispensable BNB resource Oh My Rockness is a ghost-town list of canceled/postponed shows, as if to say, “Here’s what you could be doing if life were normal.” For instance, tonight at the Echo, I could be seeing A. Swayze & the Ghosts, who are coincidentally in this month’s newsletter.
Let’s get on with it then.
Don’t let the “middle-aged” part fool you. These are “hella queer-ass Oakland punks in the prime of our lives,” per their Instagram bio. They offer a bounty of things to love: the title and cover of their full-length debut, Too Fag for Love, which would’ve gone over poorly with the Crüe boys back in the day; the words “GO FUCK YOURSELF” emblazoned beneath the Golden Girls on their T-shirts; songs with titles like “I Got the Gay Edge” and “Bike Cock”; the video for “Gary’s Making Biscuits,” which features Gary the cat doing that thing cats do with their paws. Quick, if you make a landscape video of your singing along to “Theme Song”—“We are the queers / The Middle-Aged Queers / We’re the fucking queers / Go fuck yourself”—and send it to the band by Sunday, you may make it into their “awesome ‘we are the world’ music video.” When else will you have a chance to sing, “Our hearts are filled with lube and glitter / Yours are filled with kitty litter”?
Frontman Andrew Swayze perfectly captured the process behind so many band names in an interview last year: “There’s not much to it, to be honest, just a stupid fucking stoned joke that turned into a band name.” Preach, Swayze, preach. His name isn’t Andrew Swayze, either. “It’s a stage name I picked for myself so I can jump into that mindset when I get up on stage. The ghosts: That’s just a bit of a joke we had years ago about this character ‘Andrew Swayze,’ who was a big Patrick Swayze fan.” (Unrelated but related: The movie Ghost turns 30 this year, and I still never want to hear “Unchained Melody” ever again.) According to “Andrew,” every interview he does begins with a question about their name, which is probably common among bands I’ve featured over the years. Heavy is the head that wears the Weird Name crown, dudes. The band hails from Hobart in Tasmania, Australia’s island state, which means they’re practically on the bottom of the world—cruises to Antarctica depart from Tasmania. So the lesson here is nowhere was safe from the scourge of Ghost.
“Soundcloud rap” tends to evoke artists like Lil Uzi Vert, Tekashi 6ix9ine, XXXTentacion, but what about Rap Sabbath? I mean, they’re on Soundcloud. The Chicago duo is exactly what its name implies: DJ Unite works the Sabbath samples, and MC Ready raps over them. It works, or at least far better than when Lil Wayne tried to rap over the “Iron Man” riff at the 2011 VMAs. Searching for that clip online led me to the YouTube page for officialfucklilwayne, described as “lil wayne sucks massive amount of cock. enjoy the overwhelming proof of his homosexuality and lack of talent.” This guy doth protest too much: The text intro for his video of Lil’ Wayne on the VMAs describes it as a “gay version” of the Sabbath song, then refers to him as “lil gayne” and asks why he needs “to use music that is 100x better than his gay stuff.” The best part? officialfucklilwayne recorded Lil Wayne’s performance during a VMA rebroadcast on… Logo. You can’t make this stuff up.
Some names I add to my list knowing there’s a slim chance I’ll be able to find anything about them. I used to classify these in the Year in Band Names as “impossible to google” or some variation of that sentiment. This lo-fi one-man band from LA fares well in Google results—as you can tell by my knowing those three data points—landing in the second spot, just under a predictably useless Urban Dictionary result. (Why does Google give that site so much juice?)
A project with such an inscrutable moniker usually guarantees similarly inscrutable music—something gauzy and at least shoegaze-adjacent. The odds of it having vocals are 50-50, and if there are vocals, there’s a 90% chance they’re buried in the mix. This kind of profile pic is exactly what I’d expect:
hhhhh has vocals, and while they aren’t buried in the mix, they are whisper-sung, which also tracks. As does the album title tropical depression—stylized lower case, naturally—with songs like “floating by, never close” and “died tryin.”
Not to be confused with Shitty Life, this Detroit grindcore outfit has been around since 2009. As regular readers of the Year in Band Names remember, grindcore bands can always be counted on to bring the laughs, often intentionally. For instance, Shit Life’s 2019 album, Reign in Bud, features songs like “Don’t Bring Piss to a Shit Fight,” “Thrashgrinding Fuckmachine,” “Fuck Corporate Weed,” and “Slow Grind (Take It Sleazy),” among 24 others. Bandcamp user nobass-dave raves: “This exactly the kind of diarhhea of the brain my parents tried to shield me from...well who’s sucking down a giant bag of feces pieces now mom?? Eat shit you cunt!!!” Nobass-dave didn’t comment on 2014’s Graveshitter, which features songs like “Fuckin’ Shitty Fuckhead” and “Shitty Fuckin’ Shithead” and only has 12 other songs, pfft. Yes, “More Hash, More Thrash” is among them.
A. Swayze & the Ghosts are legit good. Every time I assembled the Year in Band Names, I would create a sublist of bands to check out after the story was done. These guys would’ve made that list. +1 for the Tom Cruise dis in their tour postponement announcement.
I know lots of people are watching old live shows on YouTube and elsewhere during the pandemic. Back in the mid-’90s, my friend and I videotaped a bunch of shows for what we intended to be a video zine, but that never happened. Last year I digitized them and posted them on YouTube. So if you’re a fan of ’90s punk and post-hardcore, you’re in luck! There’s Jawbreaker, Jawbox, Superchunk, Face to Face, NOFX, Girls Against Boys, and some others. The one with the most views is Green Day, shot right after Dookie was released but before they became massive. “How’s the audio quality?” you ask. Not great!
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