The PeeChees – Vinyl Played to Death

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Remember life before the internet? For music lovers the web turned the world inside out. Where did you go to check out new music before you bought it? In fact I know I’m part of a huge minority that still does go and buy the physical product. I’m being dramatic, this wasn’t quite pre-internet days and I could get online at university by visiting the computer room in my building. Yes, there was one room with about eight computers in it for a department of about 300 students. Dial-up. Searches took forever. Searching for the PeeChees didn’t result in many hits and if I wanted to actually listen online I’d probably still be waiting. Still though, I wanted information on who these people making this incredible racket were and if I remember correctly the Kill Rockstars website was the only place I could find anything.

Back in the olden days I’d often just take a chance on a record. Do the Math, the first album by the PeeChees (or the PeeChee All-Season Sensations to give them their Sunday name) was one such record. I’d seen it on the shelves of Glasgow’s Missing record store a few times . I liked the band name although I had know idea what a Peechee was. The cover appealed to me, simple,  a real cut and paste look even though it was printed with a nice glossy finish. I particularly liked the monochrome faces. Molly Drums Vocals. Carlos Guitar. Rop Bass. Christopher Vocals. No messing about, it looks like a band that will get straight to the point. I also knew the record label and would’ve been happy to take a chance on anything on Kill Rock Stars.

The PeeChees formed in California in 1994 when Chris Applegren and Molly Neuman, who co-owned Lookout Records, got together with Carlos Canedo and Rop Vasquez. All four had played in various bands previously, the best known of which was highly influential Riot Grrrl band Bratmobile who Molly played with (Incidently, the first Bratmobile album, Pottymouth, is being reissued on pink vinyl right about now on Kill Rock Stars).

 

First spin of the unknown record. What on earth have I bought? The album kicks off with a muffled, distorted, chewed up riff and even messier vocal. I love it now but my first reaction was that it’s almost unlistenable.  However, a few seconds later and the first song kicks in properly. It’s still a chewed up racket but it’s no longer muffled and it comes screaming out of the speakers. The guitar sound is as raw as  I’ve ever heard, like you’re in the studio with your head taped to the amp and you can’t get away. The bass and drums pound unceremoniously while the guitar tries to keep up. Then there’s the vocals, coarse as sandpaper, sneering, spitting and snapping over the music. I’m hooked after a minute and there’s still a whole album to go. This sounds perfect. This is what I always thought punk rock should sound like.

Do the Math is one of my all time favourite records. It’s a relentless blast of energy. Songs like Pepper,  I Could Have Loved You and Slick’s Living It Up are stand outs but there isn’t a weak song on there.  I would imagine the vocals may be an acquired taste for some but hey, it’s a punk record, it’s not meant to be soothing.

These days it’s easy to know everything about a band by clicking a button or two. In 1996 it wasn’t quite that simple. One of the most exciting things about finding a new band was finding out what else they’d been up to. I couldn’t find anything else in Glasgow but got lucky by finding three 7″ singles on a record shopping spree in London. These were the Cup of Glory 7″ on Kill Rock Stars, The Scented Gum EP on Lookout records and Radio Disappears on G.I.Productions.

The Radio Disappears single was particularly special. This was a split 7″ with garage punk band The Drags where each band covers one song of the others. The PeeChees cover of Well Worth Talkin’ About is one of their finest moments. The bass and drums intro is backed by the screaming feedback of a guitar that sounds desperate to explode into action which it soon does. The vocals are frantic and it’s perfectly topped off with Molly’s “Hey Hey” backing. Also well worth a listen is The Drags cover of the PeeChees Slick’s Living it Up, a great rocky cover and a bit more accessible than most of this bands other recordings.

These singles did nothing to diminish my appetite for this band and I wanted more. Shortly after that I got lucky when a friend gave me the Love Moods 7″ on Rugger Bugger Records, a single I must have played thousands of times. I’m amazed it still plays at all. This single featured two songs, New Moscow Woman and Quadruple Heart Bypass. In my humble opinion New Moscow Woman is one of the best punk rock blasts ever recorded. There’s an almost false start with vocals only before the band crashes in and tears through one minute and twenty seconds of high energy racket. The vocals sound desperate and bitter all the way through right to the cruel ending “you don’t impress me, you don’t astound me, you don’t arouse me, you’re just around me”.  The band come to a clattering halt and it’s over almost as soon as it’s begun. Breathless from beginning to end.

 

A second album called Games People Play was released in 1997 and to say I was disappointed was an understatement. I grew to like it more over time but never felt it came close to living up to the debut album. The songs were fine (New Moscow Woman was one of them but re-recorded from the aforementioned version) but the production really lacked the punch of the first album and it left the record feeling short of energy. A real shame.

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Thankfully there was better to come in the form of another couple of singles. Sing Like Me was a 7″ picture disc released on Damaged Goods in 1997 and  Dallas was released the following year as part of the Sub Pop monthly singles club.  A compilation album called Life was released jointly between Damaged Goods and Kill Rock Stars in 1998 which collected all the various material recorded and released as singles across various labels over the short few years the band was active. By this time the Peechees were no more.

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I was lucky enough to see the PeeChees when they played Glasgow’s 13th Note basement in May 1998, not too long before they broke up. I don’t remember the gig in as vivid detail as I’d like. It was deafeningly loud, the music was even faster than you could imagine, you couldn’t make out a word that was being said or sung and I think half of my view was a pillar, the other half being Molly drumming and a bass player I never knew (someone from Comet Gain I think, possibly Rop had had visa problems and couldn’t tour). I loved every second of it. I’d like to tell you more and show you the photos but nobody had a camera phone in those days, nobody even had a phone at all. I also had a PeeChees t-shirt that I wore until there were only threads left. My friends band were touring the states and playing with the PeeChees somewhere in California. I was eternally jealous but made them promise to bring me back a souvenir. They came through, as all good friends do.

 

So it was all fairly short lived for this band. There’s the odd video clip of live performances on YouTube that sound pretty awful but do occasionally capture the energy and spirit of the band in action. The best bit is having the records to treasure and there’s a split single with a band called Long Hind Legs that I’ve yet to track down, I’ll need to get that sorted. All in all it probably only amounts to an hour or so of music. Thirty or so songs but good enough to keep me listening right up into 2014 and undoubtably we’ll beyond that.

  •  Cup of Glory – 7″ single on Kill Rock Stars 1994
  • Spend Some Time With – Split 7″ with Long Hind Legs on Skinnie Girl Records 1995
  • Scented Gum – 7″ single on Lookout! Records
  • Radio Disappears – Split 7″ with The Drags on G.I.Productions 1996
  • Do The Math – Album on Kill Rock Stars 1996
  • Love Moods – 7″ Single on Rugger Bugger Records 1997
  • Antarticists – 7″ single on Roxy 1997
  • Games People Play – Album on Kill Rock Stars 1997
  • Dallas / If You Don’t Know – 7″ on coloured vinyl – Sub Pop Singles Club Nov 1997
  • The PeeChee All Season Sensations – 7″ Picture Disc on Damaged Goods 1998
  • Life – Compilation Album on Damaged Goods (Vinyl) and Kill Rock Stars (CD) 1998

 

 

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