The commercial rock ‘n’ roll landscape in the early 1990s was a dreary, unhappy collective that had zero interest in locating its own sense of humor. This doesn’t necessarily mean that quality music wasn’t being released, but with the recording industry’s “let’s kill the ’80s!” attitude, good time rock was being exterminated. Depending on where you stand on the subject, this new trend called “grunge” and/or “alternative” was either a breath of fresh air, or a harbinger of doom. It’s a topic that’s been revisited/reviewed in countless articles and a history lesson is no longer necessary. While the usual figureheads like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Temple Pilots, and others of their ilk were mugging it up on MTV, there was a sardonic gang of talented cretins taking the underground by an alcohol-drenched storm…
While mallrats were blowing their paychecks on flannel shirts at County Seat and the “Dirt” CD from Alice In Chains, an altogether different ‘tude had culminated unbeknownst to “Melrose Place” viewers circa 1992. Exciting releases from the likes of the Mummies, New Bomb Turks, Lazy Cowgirls, Nine Pound Hammer, and numerous others, had coalesced into a scene of a whole new breed of garage rock that was destroying the 1990s while also reinventing them. One such group that also had no patience for the downtuned dirges clogging up the rock radio airwaves were the Candy Snatchers.
Formed in ’92, this Virginia Beach quartet took theatrical nihilism to the extremes. Their raucous Detroit knuckle sandwich sound sped up the MC5’s modus operandi and combined it with their own unique spin that gained the respect of their peers. Live shows weren’t just mere gigs, but must-see events that merged Jimi Hendrix performance art with the anarchic approach of G.G. Allin (minus the feces bombs). The venomous mix of front man Larry May and guitarist Matthew Odietus were a refreshing, modern-day take that was reminiscent of Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, with the blood spurting insanity of early Iggy and the Stooges merged with a pro wrestling cage match. There are so many stories, not just from their home stomping grounds, but across the country. Just a sampling of these drunken feats were documented in Eric Davidson’s tome “We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988-2001”.
The Candy Snatchers took their demon-granted gifts to the recording studio to release a slew of singles: “Pinto Pony”, “Gold Digger” (’93); “Fuck My Family”, “Lolita” (’94); “Do Me A Favor and Die”, and “She Goes Down” (’95). In 1996, the Snatchers released their self-titled debut album on the now-defunct Safe House label, which saw the release of the video for their beer guzzling anthem “Why I Drink”. They followed this up roughly two years later with “Human Zoo!” on Go-Kart in 1998, then “Color Me Blood Red (Live and More…)” in 2000. In the intervening years, multiple singles were released with “Doin’ Time” being one of the final ones for the third volume of the “Drink, Fight, Fuck” compilation series from Zodiac Killer Records in 2008. Tragically that same year, the Snatchers were dealt a blow when Matthew Odietus succumbed to a drug overdose. A final recording, “Down At Delilah’s” was issued in 2010. Understandably, Larry May put the brakes on, and eventually formed a new band, Born Loose, some years later. A new incarnation of the Candy Snatchers are now together, featuring May, drummer Sergio Ponce, guitarist Johnny Yeagher, and Doug “Goose” Duncan on bass.
In between the release of their debut album and “Human Zoo” hitting the streets in ’98, the Candy Snatchers had begun recording sessions for what would have been their second full-length titled “Moronic Pleasures”. Larry May, Matthew Odietus, Sergio Ponce, and bassist Willy Johns made their first attempt in 1997 at Compactor Studio in Brooklyn, NY. Paul Johnson was brought on for engineering the 17 tracks that would fill the album, along with 2 that were to be released on a 7″. Apparently, Odietus wasn’t happy with the results, and rejected the final product. The second attempt was in the basement studio of one Andy Slob in Cincinnati, OH, while the guys were on tour. This time, the whole band was unhappy with what they heard, and rejected those sessions as well. Perhaps thinking that the third time was the charm, they made a final attempt, this time going back to New York’s Compactor Studio. With Dean Rispler at the engineering helm to re-record the songs, they instead recorded songs that would make it onto “Human Zoo”.
Seemingly, the recording sessions for “Moronic Pleasures” would be forgotten, had it not been for the intervention of another player in this saga, Jake Starr. Knowing damn well that these lost tracks were classics that needed to be heard, Starr made it a personal crusade to rescue this essential piece of Candy Snatchers history. After obtaining the master reels, and getting the mastering and mixing finished, Starr put together this lost album, and gave it a proper release. Here are 19 tracks of furious intensity that somewhat completes the missing chapter of the Snatchers story. This album is a testament, a time capsule, a reminder of how important the Candy Snatchers were, and still are. With Starr’s work paying off, supreme label Hound Gawd! Records (home of May’s Born Loose) officially unleashed “Moronic Pleasures” on May 17.
The track listing is pure Snatchers-flavored hedonism at its highest manic tide. From the opening track “No Time To Waste” to “You Want What”, it’s a high-energy demolition derby of aural overload. A perfect soundscape for shotgunning brews, this collection perfectly encapsulates what the Candy Snatchers do best. “Color Me Blood Red”, “Pissed Off, Ripped Off”, “Burn It To the Ground”, etc., refuses to let you take a breather, and it’s not supposed to. If you need to stop and catch your breath, then this album may not be for you. But for the lot of us that are on the same terrain as Larry May and his brood, this is one sweet ass album that we’ll gladly get a cavity from.
Pick up a copy of this lost gem on vinyl directly from the Hound Gawd! Records website.
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The band will be having an official album release party at the Carmel in Richmond, VA (1621 W. Broad St.) on June 28. Doors open at 9, with the Zodiac Panthers and Sick Bags also performing. Advance tickets are just $13, $15 day of the show.