Funny little story about this one . . . Mrs. Pope and I went to dinner one fateful Friday night at the Stone Brewery, located a hop, skip, and jump from our residence, and this disc (Mortadella) from Wasting June was stacked in the gift shop. Seeing a CD is pretty much a sure fired way to get me asking questions, so naturally, I asked dude-at-the-register what the CD was all about. He told me that it was a band that featured one of the wait staff, and it was kinda’ metal, kinda’ cool. That wasn’t a lot to go off of. When someone says “kinda’ metal,” that could mean a lot of different things. Was it thrash metal? Was it extreme metal? Was it pop metal? Was it metal at all? So, like a good adventurer, I grabbed my Indiana Jones hat, bull whip, and leather jacket, reached deep into my ever so deep pockets, and withdrew a crumpled ten dollar bill. I figured, at worst, this was my contribution to supporting the arts.
As I made my way up I-5, Mortadella began its second spin, and I found it a worthy travel companion. Wasting June are a poppy, punky, rock outfit that incorporate a bunch of sounds, both modern and retro. I hear a great deal of Police influence, especially in the first track”Pretty Little Poison Vial of Death.” It’s up beat tempo was good for the no man’s stretch through Camp Pendleton and the pass through San Onofre. By the time the second full spin came and went, I had decided that this disc will take up permanent residence with the rest of my children. Check them out for yourselves. Their MySpace page (www.myspace.com/wastingjune) has five of the seven tracks to listen to. Oh . . . and they are so far from being metal that it’s silly. I may have to go back to the gift shop with a pile of metal CD’s and show dude-at-the-register what metal is so that he can never confuse patrons again.
Once the pleasantries were over, we grabbed a quick bite at a fairly pricey coffee bistro, and made our way deeper into the heart of Hollywood. Earlier in the day, I had written down a couple of addresses for record stores, and having a fairly good navigation system taking up residence in my skull, I was able to get us from point A to point B with relative ease. As made our way eastward on Melrose, Racer and I found ourselves in awe of our surroundings. Sure, we’d been to Hollywood before, but it had been some time, and unless one lives that life day in and day out . . . well, it just becomes a mind fuck once it’s revisited.
We found the first store nestled in with a bunch of other store fronts, and it was the littered pile of fliers for rock concerts that told us that we had found the right place. That and the big sign that said Headline Records. Now . . . this is one of the coolest record stores that I’ve happened upon in many years. As we walked in, we were assailed with a wave of heat, almost as if the store had been closed up so that there was no cross ventilation. Lack of cross ventilation wasn’t really the factor here, it was just bloody hot! The ceiling was covered with t-shirts from all the bands that you’d expect to see in any self respecting record store that specializes in punk rock and underground sounds. Posters in the windows, CD’s neatly organized from one dark side to the dingy other, vinyl 12” and 7” records filled up the other vacancies. We were blown away by the shear amount of material before us. But, what really made Headline Records special was the amount of punk rock knowledge and stunning personality of John and Ken. We didn’t get a chance to pick John’s brain too much, but Ken pulled names and dates out of seemingly nowhere to answer our questions. Ken is a punk rock super computer . . . and a hell of a nice guy, at that. Racer walked out with some Stiff Little Fingers (the band, not the appendages) and Dead Kennedy’s, while I finally satisfied the need to have Suicidal’s first album on CD. When you’re in the L.A. area, stop in and say hi to the guys . . . Headline Records, 7706 Melrose Ave. http://www.headlinerecords.com/
The journey home was a hodge podge of samplings from various items that Racer randomly picked out of plastic shopping bags. Bands we heard for the first leg of the journey included Brain Police (UK), A.J. Croce, Priestess, and the holy-crap-what-is-this- Dub Trio. These guys actually blew me away and I can’t wait for Racer to give that one a few more spins. The second leg of the midnight run was supposed to be a metal freak-out, just so that we could keep our eyes open (there’s just something unsafe about driving with one’s eyes closed.) What we found as we shot through the darkened freeways of Orange County was that Byzantine was the most phenomenal metal band that graced God’s green earth. I had picked up their first album, The Fundamental Component, and we marveled at the technical musicianship from start to finish. At one point, we replayed the intro to one of the songs three times just to get a better grasp of the time signature. We still have no idea what time the tune was in, and all we can really do is sit back and smile about it. Eventually, and I’m not sure how this happened, Racer fell asleep through the heavy metal barrage and awoke immediately as the last note spilled from the speakers.
We pulled into the homestead, exhausted, and found Mrs. Pope waiting patiently for us. She ensured that our beds were made all nice and neat, and tucked us in with a gentle pat on the heads. That night, err . . . morning, we slept with dreams of CD’s clicking in our heads and the intros to 60 reviews racing through our vocabulary. All was right with the world. - Pope JTE