Monday, April 13, 2009

Attack of the Huntsville Comps pt. I: Incest is Best

Various Artists - Incest is Best [¡Nation of Kids! 1995]

When in the business of excavating the remains of an extinct punk scene, some of your best nuggets come in the form of the old compilation disc. Typically, these are the work of several bands pooling their hard-earned cash together to put out a singular record, or perhaps a label with more groups on its roster than funds in its account. I'm guessing ¡Nation of Kids¡' Incest is Best comp was a little of both.

¡Nation of Kids¡ was a record label, zine, and music collective run by no one in particular in the early to late '90s. In fact, from what I can tell, Huntsville's The Crypt Kickers were still using the imprint in the early 2000's. What we have here is a healthy sampling that represents mid-90's Huntsville fairly well. The tracklisting is as follows:

Shitboy from Outerspace - "Dead World"
The Jawas - "Pointless"
Themack - "Fight Song"
Property - "Zone"
Puddle - "Astro Chicken"
The Peeps - "Punk Rock God"

The title, Incest is Best references, I assume, either or both the fact we all lived in Alabama and/or the fact that almost all these bands share at least one member. Contrary to popular belief, incest isn't as widespread in the South as one is taught to believe. However, incest among bands in a tightly knit music community is still pretty commonplace.

Bands like Shitboy (old school influenced punk fronted by Jason "Shithead" Burke -- later of The Pins, Paperbox, and now Xpia) and Puddle (another Joey Tampon surf ensemble), had more or less stopped playing by the time this comp made it out. The Peeps* -- HSV's compulsory ska/punk band -- were by far the most popular epresented here with Themack by far the least popular. As misfits within a larger circle of alleged misfits, Themack's glorious lack of conventional cool made the Fonzie hipsters recoil in horror (I mean, really, who the fuck had a computer in 1995, anyway? ) Property may have been Huntsville's longest running outfit (with the exception of Random Conflict) counteracting with pluck and spirit what they lacked in the way of technical proficiency.

So here you have it. Those of you who were there will surely experience at least a small flood of nostalgia. Those who weren't may at least enjoy the long lost spirit of DIY and find a good jam in the process.

* The Peeps track cuts off a little early. As the last track on the B-Side, it runs a little longer than any amount of 7" vinyl will allow.


Jack said...

A completely apt summary of what Themack were to the Huntsville scene! Seriously.

Some other trivia you might appreciate:

With 6 bands planned to be on the compilation, at 33/3 RPM, roughly 6 minutes per side, we assumed we should at least be getting 2 minutes of time. We had two very short songs that we decided to merge into one recording, which still found us under that limit.

We recorded "Train Station / Themack Fight Song" in the original location of Smokin' Studios, in a downtown Huntsville basement office (in what I believe was the old Huntsville Times building). Though I'm sure we did a few takes, the two tracks were recorded as one "long" take, then we did vocal overdubs.

When we received our test pressing for the vinyl, we discovered that the powers-that-be(?) at NOK had decided to crop "Train Station" off the beginning, leaving only the 30-second "Themack Fight Song" on the finished record. Of course they'd never bothered to run this by us. That's the reason the song fades in at the beginning.

The comp was funded with money that was made from a six-band show ("Lotsapunklosers") at the Jaycees' Fairgrounds(?) in September of '94, and the comp. didn't come out until sometime in the spring. Part of the delay was that the folks at the label had spent the money on something else in the meantime. All the bands ended up having to chip in extra money to make up the difference.

Looking back now I have warm nostalgia for Nation of Kids, but at the time we weren't very impressed, for sure.

Jack said...

As an aside, it looks like you've listed the date wrong. The comp. was released in early '95.

Jack said...

Upon listening to the comp just now, I realize that the "humor" of the Themack tune is completely lost without the lyrics and just sounds like angry thrash. It was really supposed be almost parodic. For your readers' pleasure, here you are:

"Themack Fight Song"

We've come to fight
Fuck you, you die
We'll make you cry
When we fuckin' spit in your eye

We break into your house
Every single day
We're kickin' ass
All across the USA
We've got to destroy you
There is no other way
In our eyes

We're cool, you're not
Go smoke some pot
You are big shots
And we're gonna beat you up a lot

I love you, you love me
We're a happy family
We're all punks now, can't you see

Seth Graves said...

oh snap. yeah. i totally meant to list this as '95 (i mean, i did pose the question as to who exactly would own one of those fancy ass personal computers in or around that year).

so thanks for that. i actually still accidentally sign documents, job applications, and whatever else anything between 1997 - 1999 just out of pure momentarl lapse of reason. regardless, your comments help make this blog all the more informative. so thank you for that.

Seth Graves said...

also, i remember my 17 year old self feeling only slightly alienated upon hearing this as i did, in fact, smoke pot.

Seth Graves said...

oh. and. i've always wondered about that fade in. i attribute it to the Jawas taking up a whopping 2.5 minutes on that side. which, in punk rock time, is like "Stairway to Heaven" or something