The Pimps | Part I: A CD review of 2010’s F*ck This Sh*t, We’re Outta Here by The Pimps… disguised as a letter to the Rockford Register Star and other pathetic media outlets for dropping the ball for so long.
By Andrew Whorehall
Dear People of Rockford & to the few, powerfully, negligent, local media outlets— specifically the Rockford Register Star, The Pimps, should be cited as much as Cheap Trick- if not more.
I’m not implying you’ve ignored them for not recording a hit cover song like The Flame or an original like Surrender. I am assuming they’re too non-tradtionally smart, volatile and explosive for your cultural, musical tastes. With all the worries you have at the RRStar for censorship, stories from the wire, writers with no names, those large colorful digital pictures- it’s no wonder when ‘Freedom of Speech’ is doubted now a days. See The NYTimes for many examples but I won’t look too far, I stay local and read between the lines. Your hard edits are very visible to these eyes. Could you be any more obvious?
I ask that you honor & respect The Pimps for poetically naming their new record as it is named. For that alone, local honor is past due.
The record’s title, F*ck This Sh*t, We’re Outta here, is demographically poignant too. Add Rockford, IL to the end of their title line and you have one of the more successful city taglines forming one, classy, bumper sticker with a matching T-Shirt. Said record of said title above is a gun-shot-blasted-love-letter-like-loaded-bullet written & made in our once great, industrial city. Filled with American goodies and menacing spirits; capitalism, weapons, partying, defeat,’FTSWOH’ is one of the midwest’s finest, punk, American recordings to come out of Rockford, IL- ever. It’s a loud, proud, middle finger to the establishment from an economic wasteland that doubles as ground zero for dead end dreams and empty, once colorful, balloons— this is the Rockford, IL you should be reporting with urgency and explosiveness.
Face it RRStar. Your articles are cupcakes generally filled with air. Cupcakes are best eaten, not read. That’s this writer’s opinion, not Sock Monkey Sound’s, leave them out of it. Fortunately they believe in Freedom Of Speech too as long as no one gets hurt. Generally that seems like a pretty easy social rule to follow. I know I’m not alone. Get to know the people who do think for themselves, the people that are closer to the ground than the moon. The truth is down here in the river filth and the industrial aftermath. Have you read your own Classified Jobs section?
A serious question disguised as a joke was just posed to me by two people on separate occasions, neither the med student or the professional knows each other. The question turned joke was, Did THE ONION buy the RRstar out?
Where is this going?
Please don’t change a thing, just do what you can, to talk about the bands you ignore once in awhile. It helps the artists and the community know a bit more about a proud, defeated hometown that has wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy too much talent drowning here. You’re not helping as much as you could be, RRStar.
Why does this concern The Pimps? This is their most cohesive album to date and possibly their last. Either way, people ‘not’ from Rockford, IL, should know more about this band too. This is where you have failed dear city and media of mine for years already by not assisting in a little PR when you had your chance. WZOK, your mallhair is wearing and sounding a bit too thin. WXRX, eat a d*ck sandwich for sucking so hard for so long. RRStar, change your name to, ‘The Onion Jr.’
To all the media outlets in and around Rockford, IL, you’re no different than the major label that cut The Pimps from their budget in 99, trying to blindly leave them behind. Well, no thanks to you, Rockford, IL, they’ve managed to run a decent hardworking, punk operation anyway for 16 years. Another job well done. This is for Sock Monkey Sound and for The Pimps. I salute you. To the city of Rockford and to the RRStar plus other regional media outlets, iFinger you, wholeheartedly.
PS: Let me state a point that may have gone missing above (as this letter may be a bit passive, fueled by years of ‘dead air’ readings of the RRStar, and just maybe a little misdirected); one of the best kept rock n’ roll secrets is Rockford, IL’s punk scene. How is it that such a fertile ground for amazing musical talent keeps to itself without the industry (what remains of it) blowing its cover? Easy. Musicians, bands, songwriters from the midwest have a great knack for shooting themselves in the foot. Whether it’s done ironically or because it’s our Gah Damn a’Merican right to do it, we’ve some how managed to do it better than most scenes. It’s a pride thing, I guess. All of this great music has been boiling over for a long time. Call it a typical midwestern burden to bear but I’m calling it a joke that’s ran out of laughs. This self-deprecating attitude is for math rockers and progressive jazz musicians high on country folk abnormalities. 1) God knows math is not the people of Rockford’s specialty and 2) progressive-jazz-country-folk is for as*holes. You’re welcome.
Unlike other successful, touring, midwestern bands who were ashamed to call Rockford, IL, their home young in their careers in the 70s and 80s (um, Cheap Trick/Chicago, IL), The Pimps, embraced their roots from the get go often citing Loves Park and Machesney Park as their home-base before settling on the always marketable city name, Rockford, IL. It actually worked for them somehow. Signing a major label deal in 1999 saw the re-release of their self-made debut record, To a Cool Person, Stay that Way. A punk-funk rock record that was made in Loves Park, IL, at the old Noise Chamber Studios in 1996 and 1997. The band has been together since 1994 but their roots as friends go much deeper together. Tony (Bass) & Stu (Vocal/Guitar) have been best friends since they left their mothers respectable wombs. It starts there. The Pimps are a family of brothers as much as they are a band of musicians.
A well-scripted situation occurred soon after signing with a major label. About the same time The Pimps were told to change the name of their follow up record the industry was changing, cutting budgets and cutting artists. More Songs About Drugs With Curse Words, was made by the same local team (Jimmy Johnson / Noise Chamber) in Rockford instead of agreeing to the label’s L.A. production request. 15 months into a contract, having been featured on the Mission: Impossible soundtrack and various TV song plugs, The Pimps decided they wouldn’t change their record title after one of their label’s parent company reps, Disney, got whiff of it and made a request— and so went The Pimps, another budget cut.
For the better, they worked themselves out of it in control of their career with nothing lost and everything to gain. They already established themselves as a great, touring band with subtle business sensibilities. The Pimps, to this day, actually still sell merch at every show and get from town to town in a van with equipment towing the rear. The way bands used to- or could simply afford to. They’ll tell you first hand, ‘it’s not glamourous, gas prices have gone up- blah blah’ but their van is so much smarter than your band’s f*cking van.
As the whole industry took a dump and blamed downloaders in the last decade, a band like The Pimps kept movin on to their own beat. They’ve self-released 9 full length records, they sell their own singles online, pay for their own merch production, pay for their records production- and they tour playing dives 150 nights a year or more. Many years ago, they (like this writer as well) figured out how to take care of themselves in an economically depressed city called, Rockford, IL. Some of their last decade’s releases are hit or miss. Great recorded live moments exploded with color on their alter-ego (Sons of Many Bitches) country punk band’s release, Outlaw Gold MotherF*cker and it’s companion EP, Apparently Uninterested in a Life of Creative Growth or Social Relevance. At the same time they released, Quickly Now Gentlemen, With a Lively Step.
Working, recording, teaching instrument lessons, touring and earning their right to be as lazy when they want to be while we sit at computers in a lame working environment between 8am to 7pm fulfilling someone’s leftover ideas & rules to follow about the American Dream and making money. What a farce. The Pimps, repeatedly, make me feel like a sucker everytime I tuck ina shirt and put on khakis. Why? Khakis are for church, funerals or even worse, weddings. Those recent recorded releases sit together as key discography door openers to what happened next in the studio for The Pimps.
F*ck This Sh*t, We’re Outta Here, or as I’ll type it for the rest of the article will be referred to as, FTSWOH. Not for censorship reasons; but for typing alone, early arthritis-enabling concerns are on the mind. This f*ckË†ng wrist is killin’ me between writing about music, playing music while designing for other musicians and clients who wear khakis. Let’s not forget the precious times I have with myself too; lighting a candle, body oil, me on me for hours on end trying to listen to SÃ¡de, slow deep breaths… dogs barking, lawn mowers buzzing. Nothing kills the mood more like white people in America making domestic noises while their mistrained dogs bark uncomfortably allllll day when you’re trying to get a little love on yourself in the daytime. Gals are cool too for these kinds of moments, but at some point it does become a financial investment that’s guaranteed to lose more than gain. Whatever, we’re all gonna lose, mother nature, she or cancer has the cards that read that one line I’ve ripped off from Bob Dylan in his f-you masterpiece of a song, Desolation Row. Over and over I recite that line. Anyway.
Let’s define a band? Men, once kids, who set out on a mission together as friends & musicians, making mistakes together and enjoying success together. Another simple us vs. them, old school, rock n’ roll rule… where did that rock n’ roll business sensibility go to? Did MTV, American Idol, destroy it? Seems like it, just blame downloaders. The Pimps are five great musicians tied together by some strange brotherly thing you only hear in guys that stay together for a very long time. It’s unheard of now-a-days. Watching them perform live is one of is one of the midwest’s great punk thrills. They work harder than any local politician, aldermen, etc., when they perform out their perfect, collective craft. They are truly one of Rockford, IL’s finest artist ensembles to watch live. They’ll have you questioning yourself; Is this punk? Is this country? Is this just rock n’ roll? Or is this comedy? Playing music for a living is hard work, it’s supposed to be funny too, yes. Otherwise, go put on your khakis and tuck in your Target shirt, paint on that perfect smile and die one day. Sounds like fun.
Stu, Tony, Todd, Hilly and Dave. Hell, throw road manager G.T.in there. G.T. is to The Pimps as Albert Grossman was to Dylan, calling the shots most of the time on when, where, how but mainly he’s their friend too. Albert wasn’t really Bob’s friend, he was a great, Jewish businessman with a monetary agenda that drove Dylan’s musical agenda. Add different times, different clothes obviously. To be able to call out the guys’ names like John, Paul, George & Ringo is unheard of now. Think about it. Ryan Adams dumped Whiskeytown— whoever they were (Cary Caitlin and Phil Whateversher) and the midwest’s own recent major signing, Cory Chisel, does as he wishes with or without the original Wandering Sons. It’s just how it is now a days. Labels can’t quite act like large greedy banks anymore.
The business of music is as suicidal as it’s ever been. The industry cares about the songwriter in most contractual cases, how does he look first, then, how does he sound? IS the band good looking too? IF not, haircuts? This is one of many selfish, liable contracted reasons why labels ruined their own sales in the 2000s, not downloaders. Labels used to be known as an artist’s bank. Now, where I come from? We all know artists can barely pay for a sandwich let alone the 1 million dollars they’re expected to owe back after distribution and touring slots opening for some sh*tty band like Seven Mary 3. It’s a self-made, self-imploding, a’Merican influenced, capitalist joke of a system set up to steal or fail at some point. Every artist gets cut at some point. Even the great ones. Think about every great label, their heyday, the great records, artists they released… seems like Sony or Time Warner owns everything and every contracted artist in some way, shape or form ends up owned by these 2 conglomerate media monsters… suckers or survivors?
Well, not The Pimps, for better or worse they don’t seem to care where they fit in.
The road alone has taken them to this; their 2010 release F*ck This Sh*t, We’re Outta Here, is a local gem of a production I’m proud to call my hometown’s own. Not just as an artistic statement but as a pro-Freedom of Speech, American statement. It’s an explosive, ‘go f*ck yourself and the establishment you represent,’ guitar rock, punk record with honest, lyrical sentiments dressed up in swear words. The record bursts with great production and tones courtesy of Mark Gustafson (Recording / Engineering), Ed Dulian (Mixing) and Justin Perkins (Mastering) bringing out the aggressive tight performances that have always been known for. They’ve never sounded this catchy either.
It’s a manipulative listening experience; smart pop-punk songs about capitalism, the music industry, working hard, partying hard, remaining relevant in a cruel world, accepting defeat, doubting victory, sharing the successes or pleasures we all seek, right and wrong. If Tom Waits’ hooked up with the Arctic Monkeys for a weekend binge, well, this is what happens when you get Tom going 130 miles an hour trapped in a Rockford, IL garage. I’m on to you Stu Johnson; excessively long song titles and an impressive record collection can’t fool everyone.
Influences run deep on FTSWOH, american desert blues and british garage rock trade rhythm and licks between A Good Mechanic is Hard to Find and These Are The Things, I Know, I Know. Don’t be ashamed to slam dance in your own kitchen. By the time you get to Now Michael, it’s just T.V. you’re ready for an ice cold beer and a foot stompin horse gallop through the house to the front door, lock it. Now, gals, guys, grab your man or woman or whatever you prefer— this record is it, the perfect accidental aphrodisiac. Wear a contraceptive, please. FTSWOH gets down and dirty right away, no time to waste, the sun is goin, goin, gone, get movin, try that one thing upside down. Smiles for everyone— including the neighbors and the friends stopping by your house you won’t hear knocking for minutes on end. This is a fun, explosive, intelligent rock record worthy of many repeated, satisfying listens.
Oh Those Bilderbergs & Their Kooky Culling Plan is one of the catchiest a’Merican folk-rock POP songs you’ll hear this year with the worst song title. Some glorious, fuzz guitar leads dance around Todd’s congo drums. Normally this is a recipe for pop song failure or an easy way to contract a musical disease called, Don Henley-itis , but the song is some sorta punk-folk-rock-blues a’Mmmmerican magic. ‘Bilderberg’s…‘ may be Stu’s finest documentation as a quick witted, lyricist with something more to say when the reverb is turned down and the crowd goes away;
If it’s their job to break our hearts,
they’re payed quite well.
Well, I’m not impressed I must remark.
If I had to guess how it all unraveled and came apart?
Well, It’s their job to break our hearts.
Dear Rockford Register Star and to other media outlets from this strange place and beyond, please open your ears to one, loud, manic, swan song of a punk-pop record made by one of the Midwest’s great, independent, American, veteran, punk acts. There’s 2 cover art versions, same songs, however; I prefer the one with the bearded American man eating the large dong sandwich on the cover.
Try to sit still and listen, you’ll possibly fail as you find yourself wondering when one song ends and the other begins. The rewards lay within pausing to replay and sing along with a laugh; I.M. ‘Merica or handclap your fists off with, Gun says,’Yes’. Again, to repeat myself, the tones, the guitars, the pace, Mark Gustafson (Recording / Engineering) and Ed Dulian (Mixing) should be proud of their tag team effort. FTSHOH breezes by so quick you’ll forget where your head is at by the time the last song hits— the title song. It’s a toast to Rockford, the Midwest, hardwork, broken dreams, accepting defeat and sharing successes while singing about it with your friends one last time, moving on and out. As 33 minutes end, ‘FTSWOH’ is an ultimate toast to themselves and to the hard work they’ve completed as a band of musicians, friends, brothers, family and to the cross roads they’re now at, personally and artistically.
[quote]F*ck this sh*t, we’re outta here. Or not.[/quote]
dD | AW