These days it’s pretty easy to record music. Sinking a couple hundred bucks into your laptop will get you a nice enough digital studio to create reasonable demos and depending on what kind of music style you are going for, sometimes you can put something together that could very well rival what is being played on mainstream. If you go back a couple decades ago, it wasn’t that easy. There were assortments of Do-It-Yourself 4track recorders and a few nicer ones that could make CDs, but where things got real was in how a band or artist would actually use it. There was no auto-tune, compression effects, digital layers, limiters, or any kind of computerized wizardry to hide behind. Even ‘punching’ an over-dub or a sour note was so much of a chore it wasn’t even worth the trouble. However, there was something magical about hitting that record button and giving it your all. If you missed a note, you either start over or let rock n roll do it’s thing. Not only did this lo-fi recording technique challenge you to be ‘on’ once you hit the record button, but in many ways, it created this special kind of urgency where a lot of bands actually excelled because of it. It might not have always been pretty or radio friendly, but it was documented in all of it’s lo-fi glory.
Sometime back in the 1990s, Connecticut native Jaime Paul Lamb trekked across the country, listening to garage bands, playing in them, and most importantly, recording them, all the way to Las Vegas. Thankfully, he had his trusty Yamaha MT50 in hand because for decades, the projects he had his hands in, have been largely unheard. The very few that have seen some sort of release, were so small that it would be next to impossible to track down and listen to. Recently Lamb got in touch with Slovenly Recordings and Black Gladiator to compile all of these songs into one package for the fist time ever. The result is We’re Loud: 90s Cassette Punk Unknowns, 33 tracks from different 19 bands, delivering some of the nastiest, dirtiest, filthiest garage rock that has ever been brought together for a collection in the history of music. From unsettling lyrics of Mega & The Nyrds, the uncontrolled fuzzy guitars of The Drop Outs, to the power pop goodness of The Van Buren Wheels, this collection covers all of the discord beauty that could only come from unpolished, self-recorded, self-released garage bands in America.
I had the opportunity to talk with Jaime Paul Lamb ahead of the release of the collection to talk about how it all came together and why it’s important to defy the laws of conformity in the music business.
Aaron: How did you get into garage rock/ punk? Can you name a particular band or song that just clicked with you?
Jaime: I always liked Question Mark & the Mysterians, the Amboy Dukes, the Count V and all that great 60’s garage punk that they would sometimes play on the radio when I was a kid but I didn’t recognize it as being “punk” until several years later. I guess the first stuff that registered with me as being punk was maybe Black Flag or Agnostic Front or 76% Uncertain and that sort of stuff. You got to remember that this was the mid-80’s we’re talking about, not the late 70’s. I was born in 1971, so I did my teen years from ’84-’90. Plus, I grew up in the NYC metro area, so there was a lot of hardcore and what they called “crossover” going on at that time. Punk no longer meant safety pins and pogo-ing
Aaron: When you were a kid, what did you listen to?
Jaime: When I was very young, I liked a lot of 70’s Lite Rock like Ambrosia and Bread and shit like that. When I was in my early teens, I liked hardcore and thrash because it was fast and aggressive and my body was changing and I felt very anxious and awkward.
Aaron: What are you listening to these days?
Jaime: Oh man, I like all kinds of stuff. I really dig the stuff that Sublime Frequencies puts out. I’ve been a pretty big Free Jazz fan for many years now. I like avant garde classical music. But I still break out some 60’s punk now and then, like Pebbles or Back From The Grave or something. Just today I was listening to a 60’s Dutchbeat compilation in the car – the Outsiders, Q65 and stuff.
Aaron: .’We’re Loud’ is full of stuff that most people didn’t get a chance to hear because most of it is so obscure, how did this release come about? Was it something that you brought to the label, or did they approach you?
Jaime: I approached Bazooka Joe from Slovenly and Black Gladiator Records. What happened was, I was going through all my old tapes and I was planning on digitizing all that shit before it just got lost in time. Then I figured if I was going to go through all that trouble to perserve that music, I might as well see if anybody wants to do something with it. Nobody ever gave a shit when we were recording all that stuff, so I didn’t really expect much interest but I knew Joe was involved with those labels so I sent him a few mp3’s and a message in an email not knowing what to expect. Turns out he liked it.
Aaron: So you traveled across the United States, playing in bands, with bands, recording them, or whatever, did you ever think of releasing this stuff on a compilation while you were recording them? what was the idea then and now?
Jaime: Back then it was just about documenting the material. I don’t know if I we had any plans of releasing the stuff legitimately. I’m sure if we were going to do that, we would have wanted to record in a legitimate studio – not somebody’s bedroom or living room like we did. Once the KBD comps came out, I think I did fantasize about somebody finding an old cassette or a single and comping it, but I never seriously entertained the idea. I am, however, unbelievably stoked that Tim Warren from Crypt Records mastered all my cassettes for vinyl. He put out the BFTG and Garage Punk Unknowns comps and those were very, very important to me and my friends when we were young and had all our punk groups. In fact, had you told me that Tim Warren was going to master my stuff for vinyl 20 years later, I would have said you were high.
Aaron: What would be your favorite on the compilation?
Jaime: I like “Sheez A Jyrk” by the Drop Outs and “I’m A Sissy” by the Barf Bags. I don’t know – I’m obviously very familiar with the back story to a lot of this music, so I’m not sure how much it has to do with the sound of the tune or the memories associated with it.
Aaron: What’s your opinion on the state of Punk Rock as a genre, is it dead?
Jaime: Of course not. I like a lot of newer punk bands. I like Vanilla Poppers, Rik and the Pigs, Blue Bloods, and a bunch of shitty sounding, trashed out music. I can’t take it for more than, like, 5 or 10 minutes though and I can’t tell you how disinterested I am in seeing any of that music played live. But, yeah, punk – I don’t know. No, then again: PUNK – RIP – 1965-67.
Aaron: Are there any mainstream you bands out there that you enjoy?
Jaime: I like the Growlers okay. And I like the Whitest Boy Alive and Little Dragon. Are they mainstream? Do you mean old or new? I like Judas Priest more now than I did in the 80’s, that’s for damn sure. I put on one of those records a few weeks ago – it may have been Rocka-Rolla or British Steel or one of those – and I was blown away at how great it was.
Aaron: What is the worst song you have ever heard?
Jaime: I don’t know, probably something by the Clash. I like Huey Lewis and the News better than I like the Clash.
Aaron: What do you hope that someone takes with them from this release? like what’s the mission statement?
Jaime: I hope they think, “Wow, what a cool and interesting time capsule. That must have been super fun and exciting and wild and dangerous and unbelievably PUNK!”
I’d like to personally thank Jaime Paul Lamb for taking the time to chat with us here at 50thirdand3rd.com. If you like your garage sleazy, greasy, gritty and beautiful, please do yourself a favor and pick up We’re Loud: 90s Cassette Punk Unknowns when you can because if that’s your thing, you will not be disappointed!
You can stream We’re Loud: 90s Cassette Punk Unknowns right now on Soundcloud
It’s available to purchase on CD and vinyl at Slovenly Recordings/ Black Gladiator