Post-Teens trauma... Though Scott Ayers has been spending a lot of time holed up in his southwest Houston house since his band the Pain Teens broke up three years ago, it's not as if he's been sitting around gnawing on his toenails like a total recluse. The underground techno-clatter auteur actually has a lot to show for his life since '95. Not only has Ayers been playing a fairly regular string of live gigs with Truth Decay, a heavy rock guitar trio founded by himself and former Pain Teen Frank Garymartin, but his home studio, Anomie, has been ground zero for two of his other preoccupations: film scores and a solo project he's dubbed Walking Timebombs. A full-length Timebombs debut was just released on the San Francisco-based Charnel Music label (home to Crash Worship), as was a Truth Decay single. And now that Truth Decay has taken a short hiatus from the local scene, Ayers has even more leeway to fiddle around at Anomie -- perhaps even too much leeway.
"I tend to procrastinate and second-guess myself a lot," Ayers admits, pointing to his habit of letting fresh material pile up in heaps.
The eponymous debut CD Walking Timebombs is actually the first of two Timebombs releases already in the can; the second will be available in stores on the New York-based Relapse label in the next few months. As for the current CD, "it's loops; it's a lot of delays," says Ayers. "I come from a rock background, so I wanted to use guitars and real instruments instead of drum machines. To me, it's almost relaxing."
That's not a wholly inaccurate assessment. Walking Timebombs largely replaces the Pain Teens' numbingly off-putting grind with an organic -- even humane -- sound that borders on the hypnotic. Think of it as a mildly claustrophobic cross between new-school trip-hop and old-school industrial.
"I wanted to make something that wouldn't send people screaming out of the room, and that's kind of what the Pain Teens were -- real grating a lot of the time," Ayers says. "This is more listener friendly, I think."
In addition to his solo work, Ayers is anticipating the premiere of a pair of scores he recorded at Anomie for the short films Dwelling and White Bunnies, the latter a music video featuring (conveniently enough) Truth Decay. Both clips, which were directed by Tim Thomson, will be featured Sunday at the Museum of Fine Arts' showcase of local independent films.
Early spring also marks the re-release on Charnel of the Pain Teens' self-titled 1988 debut, an event that dates the thirtysomething Ayers more than he'd prefer. "I can't believe I'm still at it," he laughs. "I guess I'm unemployable outside of music by now."
And while his darkly seductive Pain Teens partner in crime, Bliss Blood, has long since forsaken Houston's electronic underworld for a more aboveground profile in New York City, Ayers continues to look back on his years in the group with a certain amount of reverence.
"We went pretty far, you know," he says. "I still get letters from all over the world."
Jerry radio... Ninety minutes of Grateful Dead music, all live, every week. Talk about an easy order to fill. And such is the premise of Dead Air, a program airing Friday nights from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. on KPFT/90.1 FM. On each show, Dead Air host Neal Wingenbach features a complete live set unavailable on any official Dead release, bookended by a few songs from other jam-oriented acts. While Wingenbach has always geared his rock program toward Deadheads, he only recently switched to this recording-friendly format, which allows fans to tape a full 90 minutes of music with only one interruption, which comes conveniently at the 45-minute mark.
Given the Dead's support of taping at their concerts over the years, finding enough bootlegs to accommodate the program ought to be a breeze.
"There's like 2,300 shows out there -- I myself have maybe 50 shows," says Wingenbach. "There are people in town who have rooms full of shows. One guy has like 600 shows on DAT; he has so many that he thinks we could play a show a week, and in five years, we might come to the end of it."
Something tells me Mr. Garcia would approve.
Etc.... Well, it's official. The scattered membership of Banana Blender Surprise will convene next month for a one-off gig backing rock legend Chuck Berry at Mardi Gras in Galveston. At press time, the parties involved had yet to sign off on the contract, but Banana Blender frontman David Beebe gives his assurance that the Valentine's Day performance is a done deal. This year, Beebe says, Berry's people opted to forego the standard cover-band route they'd taken when choosing backup units for Mardi Gras and go with the Bananas, who will be augmented by Pete "Wet Dawg" Gordon from Mojo Nixon's Toadliquors on keyboards. Further specifics on the show are pending, but, as Beebe puts it, "The only other detail you need is that it's going to kick some ass."
A bit farther afield but closer to Mardi Gras central, the Zydeco Dots recently set up shop temporarily in Crowley, Louisiana, where they laid down five tracks for an upcoming CD. The Houston quintet returns to Cajun country Friday to record the remainder of the disc live at Richard's in Opelousas. Sounds like a good excuse for a road trip.
-- Hobart Rowland
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