AMERICAN MUSIC – October 26, 2003


List archive online at


TOUR DATES (*=New Dates)

Thursday 10/30/03 Spokane WA Spokane Center

Friday 10/31/03 Boise ID Big Easy Concert House

Saturday 11/01/03 Missoula MT Wilma Theater

Friday 11/07/03 Indiana PA Indiana University of Pennsylvania PRIVATE Show – Students ONLY

**Saturday 11/8/03 Pittsburgh PA CLUB LAGA



Pittsburgh Show Venue Changed

RE:Violent Femmes on UPN’s ROCK ME BABY!!!

RE:KROQ Inland Invasion

VF at the Catalyst


The Femmes show on Saturday 11/8 in Pittsburgh has been MOVED.

The show will now be held at CLUB LAGA (3609 Forbes Ave-4th Floor)

Tickets for the original Metropol location will be honored.

The online AM archive has been updated and the photo that Anje Vela submitted along with her email a few weeks ago is available to view.


RE: Violent Femmes on UPN’s ROCK ME BABY!!!


dudes what tha?????????




KROQ Inland Invasion


Except for the fact that I think they should have called it “KROQ British Invasion” the

gig in East, East LA a few weeks back was excellent!! The Femmes received the

warmest and most genuine welcome of the day and I left with the echoes of 65,000

(yes, I said 65,000!!!) voices singing along to their greatest hits in my head. Quite an

experience I must say! The guys cruised through a fun set and the crowd partied.

Brian was also sporting the only attire to get any special camera time during the day –

a pair of funky surf shorts with larger than life Jimi Hendrix fro’s! (nicebutt6 and

lindyk you know what that means!) The day was not just an 80’s love-in (although it

was VERY cool to be given license from KROQ to revel in still loving 80’s music) Hot

Hot Heat and Interpol repped the 00’s admirably. I still think Echo and the Bunnymen

suck and Marc Ormond is still sexy singin’ Tainted Love. Duran Duran weren’t quite

the performers I expected but then again it would kind of be hypocritical of me to

admit to liking them after all the shit I gave Mary Beth K. in high school for that

ignorant jean jacket she wore covered with D2 pins!!! :oP Fat Bob came through

BIG time in the end and The Cure’s set was absolutely exquisite! As Greg mentioned

last week with Gordon, to my surprise and enjoyment some of the who’s who in the

Rock world were seated amongst us – just like regular folk. Adrian (now I know

what’s under that kilt!) and Tony from No Doubt were just a row to the left of me

(Adrian drummed for Bow Wow Wow early in the day) and other sightings nearby

included Fred D, Dave Navarro & Kelly Osbourne.

It was a great party!

You can view pics of the extravaganza (including our boys onstage) at:

Scroll down and click on KROQ SHOTS on the bottom left




Mad Adders


They’ve been icons of the alternative sound for two decades and still deliver one

of the best rock shows you’ll ever see. So when the Violent Femmes say dance,

you best dance. ‘Add It Up’ is cool, ‘Kiss Off’ is cool, but ‘Blister in the Sun’ is kind

of a ball and chain–that song is overrated,” says Violent Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie.

He’s talking a bit of trash about one of the Femmes’ most famous and beloved songs.

“I can accept it though, it’s part of my Bodhisattva Vow–doing three minutes at a

concert date of a song that I don’t like just to make people happy. I think rock bands

should play their hits. It’s part of the implied deal between the band and the audience:

You love my music, therefore I will play it for you,” says Ritchie. Promising words from

a man whose band’s most famous and beloved album was recorded back in 1983.

They’ve put out nine more albums since then, but their first is the one that will ensure

their immortality. The entire album is totally acoustic, yet punker than most punk rock,

riding high on the strength of the band’s singular raw sound–Gordon Gano’s whiny,

anxious voice and lyrics, Victor De Lorenzo’s sparse drum kit (featuring brushes and

a homemade instrument made from a metal bushel basket on top of a tom tom that

they call a “tranceaphone”), and Brian Ritchie’s dominating acoustic bass lines.

Ritchie, for one, was amused by the infamous epithet given to the band by my dad

when three out of his four kids were playing the shit out of their debut album. “The

Kitchen Utensils Band,” he called them–and to this day, he stands by what he calls

his “on-the-mark” description of them. The Femmes (Milwaukee slang for “wimps,”

or ad-libbed BS–the world may never know) developed their sound playing acoustic

in the streets, because, according to lead singer Gano, “we couldn’t get any place

to play inside. Our peers would often cross the street and pretend they didn’t know

us because they thought it was just embarrassing, what we were doing.” But when

Chrissie Hynde and James Honeyman-Scott of the Pretenders caught them busking

outside of a theater where the Pretenders were about to perform, they were more

amused than embarrassed, and decided to invite the Femmes to open the show.

Eventually, the band caught the attention of Slash Records in Los Angeles, who

also released landmark albums by Los Lobos, X, the BoDeans and L7 as well as

the soundtrack to the 1981 documentary The Decline of Western Civilization. The

recently revitalized label was the only one to offer the Femmes a deal, to the tune

of a whopping advance of zero dollars. Their self-titled debut eventually went

platinum, despite the fact that they never even broke into the top 200 on the

Billboard charts. At the time, the Femmes felt like they were out on their own with

the music they were making. “The only other person who had been doing kinda

the same thing was Jonathan Richman, but we thought we were much more

aggressive and serious than he was,” says Ritchie. “Don’t get me wrong–I love

him, I think he’s the most entertaining musician on the planet! But he doesn’t rock

as hard as we do, that’s all.” Their follow-up album, 1985’s Hallowed Ground, was

a whole different story. Because in addition to all the teen-angst material that

showed up on their debut record, Gano, a devout Baptist, had also written a good

deal of religious songs that would later become their sophomore release. After

people realized that it wasn’t actually a joke, the album cost the band a huge chunk

of their fan base. Though he doesn’t share Gano’s religious beliefs, Ritchie remains

unapologetic for Hallowed Ground, which he still considers one of the Femmes’ best

studio albums. “I’m an atheist and Victor’s an atheist,” says Ritchie, “so neither one

of us can relate to Christianity. But Gordon’s beliefs are Christian, and we had written

some of those songs together. I thought of it as a practical joke on the audience. I

thought it was funny, kinda snotty to do it. You can get up there and sing a song like

“Kill Your Parents,” but to get up there in a punk venue and sing some gospel music

was really weird. I thought it just broadened our musical scope a bit.”

The Femmes have maintained a healthy fan base and a stylistically consistent sound

over the years, veering somewhat erratically within the folk/punk confines of their

invented genre, and even adding a heavy dose of poppy electric guitar on their 2000

release, Freak Magnet. A temporary breakup in the late ’80s spawned solo projects

from all members, but it wasn’t until the 1993 release of the Femmes compilation Add It

Up that drummer De Lorenzo called it quits for a solid nine years, citing creative

differences for his departure. De Lorenzo is back with the band, who will be performing

on Sept. 19 at the Catalyst. Once again, they’ll share the stage with Santa Cruz

resident, VF alumnus and sitar/tabla player extraordinaire Ashwin Batish, who Ritchie

met at a new-music festival in Germany. They hit it off while playing together in a

superstar improv group, and now the Femmes invite him to play with them whenever

they come through town. “The fun part is when Brian Ritchie jumps up and does

his Chuck Berry imitation,” jokes Batish from his music store on Mission Street. “Brian

invited me to a show up in Santa Clara when we first played. We just like to play

together. I play a lot of variety on the sitar, so for me, I just do it for fun. Brian’s a

great bass player; it’s natural that we go and just jam together. As long as it’s in

the right key, I’ll play it. I also like to bring my tablas nowadays–the Indian tradition

is to basically do your homework and have fun, so that’s what I try to do.” Anyone

who’s followed Ritchie’s solo career knows that he’s an accomplished multi-

instrumentalist, even achieving the rank of Jun Shihan (teaching master) of the

Japanese shakuhachi flute, which he once played for a sunrise concert at

Machu Picchu. “We all have big ears,” Ritchie says. Which is all fine and

dandy and believable, but what’s the deal with the Ritchie song they

consistently do live, “Dance, Motherfucker, Dance!”? “I’ve got a few other

songs, but Gordon’s just a very paranoid guy, he doesn’t want to share the

spotlight. We just let him sing most of the stuff to make him feel

good,” says Ritchie. “I usually use ‘Dance, Motherfucker, Dance!’ to bail us

out, if the audience seems to be losing energy. It gets it going. That song

shouldn’t be taken seriously. It’s like throwing a bucket of water on

somebody–I just want to get a reaction.”

From the September 17-24, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

Mike Conner



violentfemmeslist or violentfemmeslist