What was the New Brunswick Music Scene like in the 90’s?

What was the New Brunswick Music Scene like in the 90’s?

New Brunswick Music Scene

Photo: 223 Livingstone Ave – home to BGT, Aviso’Hara & a few basement shows

PART 1: Before todays bustling New Brunswick, NJ basement scene, Screaming Females and Don Giovanni Records there were 6 clubs to play a gig at that were not sequestered or are hard to find in the 1990’s. The times o’ plenty. We had The Melody, The Roxy, Plum St. Pub, Budapest, Bowl-o-drome and the still standing Court Tavern. This might seem like ancient history. For every club there were about a 100 bands that frequented the clubs in rotation. Some of them made broader strokes playing gigs down the shore, Hoboken, Philly, NYC and beyond. If you told somebody you were playing Brooklyn they looked at you strangely because there were really no places to play there. Although a gig at a old mustard factory comes to mind but still blurry. Bands that played basements like Louis St stayed there for the most part unless they were a hardcore outfit of which case we know of the success stories there ranging from lifetime to deadguy then those pesky and annoying emo bands. Now the scene has changed to an extreme 180 degrees in 2014. The balance of “official” live venues that served alcohol slowly have long been eaten up by Johnson and Johnson and UMDNJ to a eradication of mass proportions. New Brunswick is down to one place that we know of. Yea you probably know a guy who blathered this to you. In turn underground places started to have a insulated affect on the scene. It’s totally foreign to us suburban outsider now but we know it exists. we hope it does. Maybe not as publicly as it once did but we feel the force. What is amazing to see is that the caliber of bands has not changed. There’s kooky bands, to downright terrible ones too. They just happen to do things differently with a tremendous output from just one label (that we know of). Plus that whole internet placebo effect. (We will get into this later.)

The point of this pointed post series is to shed some light on the swath of bands we enjoyed watching, much thanks to a couple long threads on the FB’s led by queen-scene bee Amy Saville from Prosolar Mechanics and Jim Testa from the ever present Jersey Beat. Gigs were happening all the time. Actually, when we started doing the zine thing back then; we always wanted to have a local point of view and bring to our readers new bands they have not heard of yet from inside or outside of the scene. All in an effort to make things less insular –you know hippie-dippy punk. Not just for our knowledge but for all. Not much has changed as far as our special purpose in life. You can read our about section if you want. Hopefully we can go as deep with a lot of bands and include friends (jim/amy, etc) doing the writing to give you a different perspective. I’m sure we seem like aliens because in the era where anybody can have their first debut “EP” release in a matter of one weekend is deeply confounding and troubling. There were a lot more hoops to cross to get people to check out your music, record it, etc. Again, we can dive into this trouble in a later post but for let us drag you to the water.

Steve Albini's old studio basement

BGT recording in Steve Albini’s old studio basement, Chicago. Turning knobs.

So lets kick this off with BubbleGum Thunder. Here’s a video of a song that was recorded by Steve Albini at his home studio in Chicago. Plus a bunch of tracks that were never released “officially” on any LP or CD. Here is a posthumous video premier. The band had released three 7″ singles before it’s demise. The best official release was Coward b/w Cheater 7″ on Model Rocket Records. Trust me the irony of posting mp3s of the tunes Steve recorded is not lost on me. He mixed the tracks identified below. They were never mastered properly but herein are the best of tracks from my point of view that the band did. What was great about this band is the chord progressions were bit complex but the playing was ballsy. Joseph the guitar player/singer used lots of open chord tunings to make his life simple and stupid. The results were a very unique sound you rarely hear in my humble opinion in bands today. There was songwriting at work.

RIYL: Cows, Hum, Unsane, Helmet

BubbleGum Thunder New Brunswick Music Scene bands
01. Bedwetter MP3(basement recording)
02. Cheater MP3(Albini)
03. Coward MP3 (Albini)
04. Ghost Town MP3 (Albini)
05. Sad Man MP3 (Albini)
06. Safe from Me MP3 (Albini)
07. Acid Gravy MP3 (Albini)
08. Swallowed MP3 – Basement recording. Probably one of meanest sounding bass parts I’ve ever played. This is nasty and will rip you up like the little music whore you are. Wait for it at the :46 second mark to feel what I am talking about. You might want to amp up this up in iTunes a little for playback.

If you never had to pay Mark your entry fee to see a band at The Court Tavern. You really are part of the new generation of bands.
“If you ain’t playing. You are paying.”

Shellac of North America to Rock Brooklyn USA

Shellac of North America to Rock Brooklyn USA

Back in the day I played bass in this little loud indie rock band from New Brunswick, NJ called Bubblegum Thunder. Above is photo of Albini’s basement where we recorded a record and a 7″ to acetate Ampex 24 track tape. I remember looking at the plans for a interface schematic for Electrical Audio with Bob Weston and thinking these guys are total fucking geeks. Catch Shellac live At Bell House in Brooklyn, Tues Sept 7th which is freaking sold out. Somebody please get me on the guest list for crying out loud. Thank you!

Shellac Digital downloads even though Steve hates them:
Prayer to God from 1,000 Hurts
The Admiral from At Action Park
Disgrace Terraform
Holiday in Sun (Sec Pistols Cover) w/ David Yow Halloween @ The Lounge Ax

All of which I nerdly own on vinyl. Always funny when the blank CD with no artwork would roll-out of packaging and I’m like WTF? I’d think if the record had a baby it would at least be a flexi-disc.

BGT @ The Lounge Ax (note: the ween t-shirt)

From the Bubblegum Thunder Cock Monkey LP: (unmastered/unreleased from cassette – lol)
Ghost Town
Acid Gravy
Safe from Me

Brett & Sandor

Support Artists on last.fm just by listening!

Support Artists on last.fm just by listening!

The time has come where every small town garage band can get paid directly by advertising depending on songs played directly on last.fm by their Artist Royalty program! (Not download)I didn’t believe it at first when announced this past January but only time will tell when the first reports come in this October. This is a huge leap for music fans supporting their favorite artists. Caveat is you don’t belong to a online collection company that has the online rights and you must own world wide distribution. I’m no lawyer but I think US $10.00 @ .005 a play is 200,000 plays? That is a lot of ad revenue or page views! So start listening to stuff online as much you like.

Start playing and get some Free music by:
The smooth indie rock sounds of The Slow Wire
The almighty noise rock anthems by Aviso’Hara | Own it on Emusic
The old-skool classic jersey alt-punk-rock of Psychic Fair
Albini produced and tweaked indie rock of Bubblegum Thunder
Brought to you by your fine friends from Headphone Music Recordings.

Here is the payment terms fine print:

>for the free radio service, 10% of the Share of Last.fm’s Net Revenue from the free radio service.

for the personalised premium radio service, the greater of 10% of the Share of Last.fm’s Net Revenue from the personalised radio service or US $0.0005 for each complete transmission on the personalised radio service of a track which forms part of Your Content transmitted on the Last.fm service.

>for the free on-demand service, 30% of the Share of Last.fm’s Net Revenue from the free on-demand service.

>for the premium on-demand service, the greater of 30% of the Share of Last.fm’s Net Revenue from the premium on-demand service or US $0.005 for each complete transmission on the prepaid or subscription on-demand service of a track which forms part of Your Content transmitted on the Last.fm service.