Decibel Geek Podcast

It's no secret to fans of the Decibel Geek Podcast that we, especially Aaron Camaro, have a great affinity for Ugly Kid Joe.

Born out of suburbia (ie. Isla Vista, CA) in 1990, Ugly Kid Joe showed up in the middle of a power shift in the rock world with a sound that didn't fit into the glam rock style that was on its way out nor with the dirge-like sound emanating from the grunge underbelly of Seattle that would soon take over the world. 

Named on the spot as a spoof of California hair-farmers Pretty Boy Floyd, Whitfield Crane and best friend Klaus Eichstadt formed the initial lineup of the band and released the breakthrough EP, 'As Ugly As They Wanna Be.' The album broke through to mass audiences with the success of the track 'Everything About You' and would go on to become the first EP to be certified multi-platinum by the RIAA. In this long-form discussion, Whit Crane shares the stories of how the band was formed, what the musical climate was like at the time, and his opinion of Pretty Boy Floyd.

Ugly Kid Joe would climb the rock ladder in 1992 with the follow-up album 'America's Least Wanted' which featured the considered-by-WalMart-offensive cover depicting Lady Liberty giving the finger. Featuring a guest vocal from Judas Priest's Rob Halford on the track 'God Damn Devil,' the album solidified Ugly Kid Joe in the public consciousness with the release of their cover of Harry Chapin's 'Cat's in the Cradle' and, to a lesser degree, the opening track 'Neighbor.'

A long period of touring the globe would ensue throughout the following years including opening slots for Ozzy Osbourne and Def Leppard as well as headliner status of their own. Along with lots of touring, Ugly Kid Joe was on a non-stop treadmill of appearances, interviews, award shows, and other assorted promotional activities (also LOTS of partying with such legends as Eddie Van Halen and Lemmy). Crane reflects on how crazy the lifestyle was and what memories remain with him to this day.

1995 saw the release of 'Menace to Sobriety' which featured the lineup of Crane, Eichstadt, guitarist Dave Fortner, bassist Cordell Crockett, and drummer Shannon Larkin. Featuring a tighter, heavier sound, the album received rave reviews.

After disappointing sales for the 1996 release 'Motel California,' Ugly Kid Joe disbanded the following year. The members went on to other projects and bands with Larkin becoming the drummer in Godsmack and Crane doing a stint with Life of Agony as well as work with Medication and reuniting with Larkin for Another Animal. In this conversation, Crane reveals the emotions and motivations behind these projects and reflects on what he takes away from those experiences.

After 15 years apart, the 1995 lineup of Ugly Kid Joe have released their new EP, 'Stairway to Hell.' Featuring a bold production from guitarist/production genius Dave Fortner, the album has all that one would expect from Ugly Kid Joe and more. We get Whit's thoughts on our impressions of the album and if he agrees or not. Aaron also gives a heartfelt testimonial to Whit on behalf of all Ugly Kid Joe fans before we wrap things up with a special preview of the upcoming single from 'Stairway to Hell.' We thank Whitfield Crane for giving us his time, attention, and reflections on a career that has rocked and shows no sign of stopping. 

Direct download: Episode_48_-_Whitfield_Crane.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 9:59pm EDT

After a week of reflecting on January - July of 1987, we round things off this week by discussing August - December and try to shoehorn in as many tunes and memories as we can.


August saw the release of two of the year's landmark albums in Michael Jackson's 'Bad' and Def Leppard's Hysteria. 


MJ had not released an album since 1983's historic 'Thriller' release and the world's ears were ready for a followup. 'Bad', released on August 31st went on to produce five number one singles in the USA; a record which has not been broken.


Def Leppard's slickly-produced 'Hysteria' album had smash hit after smash hit and would go on to sell over 20 million units.


Other notable releases from August of 1987 included albums by Metallica, Twisted Sister, and Aerosmith.


September spawned album releases by rock legends such as Pink Floyd, Motorhead, Rush, The Ramones, and KISS. While not all of these releases would go on to be big sellers, some amazing songs were overlooked by the general public. 


The big news story of Ocotober of 1987 was the rescue of Baby Jessica. After falling down a well in Midland, Texas two days prior, emergency crews are able to save the young child in front of a national television audience.


Motley Crue attempted to release 'You're All I Need' as a single from the Girls, Girls, Girls album on October 19th but were shunned by MTV and radio due to the graphic nature of the lyrics. We take a listen to hear what the uproar was about.


Notable releases of October 1987 included albums by Alice Cooper, MSG, Sepultura, and the multi-million selling 'Faith' album from George Michael after his split with Wham! (blech).


We finish things off with a discussion of the albums released in November and December including offerings from Black Sabbath, Anthrax, and two albums by Overkill. Also in this discussion we reflect on bands that were established in 1987 as well as those that called it quits before playing things out with a dreamy track from Dokken's 'Back for the Attack' album.


Direct download: Episode_47_-_1987_Year_in_Review_Par.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 5:59pm EDT

1987 was a special time in the adolescence of a young Aaron Camaro and Chris Czynszak; being aged 13 and 11 respectively. This was an interesting time in American pop culture with tv shows like The Cosby Show and Cheers leading in the ratings while edgier upstart FOX Network was providing more reality-based programming that would go on to dominate the next decade.

Popular movies in 1987 included Three Men and a BabyLethal WeaponRoboCop, and Wall Street; which included one of the enduring quotes of the decade in "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good."

We discuss all of that and spin some of our favorite music from January through July of 1987 in part 1 of this 2 part special. The "hair band" movement was in full force in 1987 as bands such as Def Leppard, Motley Crue, and Bon Jovi were ruling the charts and filling arenas. But a glimpse of a grittier future in rock was given with Guns N Roses landmark debut album, Appetite for Destruction. Taking the world by storm with a no-frills, attitude-filled song list, AFD ran counter to the image-based culture that was on top at the time; relying more on substance and swagger and becoming one of the premier live shows in all of music.

We also touch on how hindsight is definitely 20/20 when it comes to looking back on songs/albums that were revered in those early days of puberty and how are outlook on them has either changed or stayed the same. Some things definitely have held up over the years while others certainly sound more like they are fixtures in this Cold War-era that we are remembering.

There's lots of discussion, good tunes, and LOTS more music ahead in part 2. We hope you enjoy our trip back to 1987. 

Direct download: Episode_46_-_1987_Year_in_Review_Par.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 3:41pm EDT

When we think back to those angst filled teenage years in the early 90's when we couldn't find a fake i.d. and we still had a curfew, some of our best memories are of spending Saturday nights hanging out at a friends house, eating day old pizza and watching the Headbangers Ball on MTV.

While the show started back in 1985 with an ever-rotating host, the show came into our collective consciousness during the transition from Adam Curry to this week's guest, Riki Rachtman.

While Curry did an admirable job hosting the Ball, the show took on a more adventurous and fun direction when Rachtman took the reins in 1990. 

Riki Rachtman's profile in rock history goes back further, though, to his days as owner of The Cathouse; a famed L.A. nightspot that was frequented by rock stars of all sorts and the women that adored them. Rachtman's first on-camera appearance took place in 1988's Penelope Spheeris-directed The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years. In the movie, Rachtman is interviewed on location at the aforementioned Cathouse along with co-owner/roommate Taime Downe of Faster Pussycat

Rachtman's friendship with Guns N Roses frontman Axl Rose led to an audition at MTV as Curry was on his way out as host of Headbangers Ball. His hosting duties would last for five years (1990-1995) until Headbangers Ball was abruptly canceled with no more than a phone call to Rachtman breaking the news.

In the ensuing years since Headbangers Ball, Riki Racthman has stayed active in the entertainment industry; contributing his hosting talents to such outfits as World Championship Wrestling, Los Angeles radio station KLSX, several VH1 productions, and his NASCAR-themed racing show called Racing Rocks and is heard on over 120 stations across America.

Riki was gracious enough to take some time to talk to Chris this week about the crazy days of The Cathouse, the story that led to getting the Headbangers Ball hosting gig, his memories of hosting the Ball and traveling the world, his response to critics that have accused him of pushing an agenda while on MTV, and his take on where the network (and music in general) is at today.

Riki also gives us details about his current 3-country/11 state trek from Mexico through America through Canada and to Sturgis on motorcycles with his long-time friend Taime Downe. As of the date of this episode's recording, Riki and co. were in Washington state and you can track their progress in real-time by clicking this link or you can receive his updates on his Twitter page.

We thank Riki Rachtman for taking the time to talk to us. We hope this episode brings back as many memories for you as it did for us.

Direct download: Episode_45_-_Riki_Rachtman.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 10:27pm EDT

Now that KISSMAS in July is over, the Decibel Geek Podcast returns with a bunch of variety this week all in the name of threesomes! Before we get to the music, a couple of announcements. 

As we announced last week, you can stream the Decibel Geek podcast ever Friday night through Maximum Threshold Radio at 7:00p.m. EST. We're proud to be a part of this great internet radio station and highly recommend you check them out for some great rock and metal as well as the Maximum Threshold Radio Show that is streamed live every Saturday night. You never know, Chris or Aaron just might be in the chat room during their show. 

This week's Geek of the Week is David Haltom! David left an awesome comment on our facebook fan page that mentioned Aaron Camaro's laugh that gave us a good chuckle. Aaron is now in therapy and we thank David for his contribution. Now, onto today's show!

three·some (thrsm)
1. A group of three persons or things.
2. An activity involving three people.
Consisting of or performed by three.

Get your mind out the gutter folks! Did you really think we were going to spend an hour talking about old Ginger Lynn and Ron Jeremy films? We teased you with all sorts of things involving the number 3 over past week and today we discuss our favorite threesomes; as in rock power trios.

A rock trio is about as bare-bones as you can get (as long as you aren't counting folk singers and 2-man hipster garage rock). No keyboard players (unless one of the three is one), no backup singers, and no extra percussionists (we're looking at you, Slipknot). The onus is purely on the three individuals to hash things out and make the magic happen. While there are plenty of fantastic four and five piece bands the existence of the power trio makes one sit up and take notice as there is an honesty and ingrained camaraderie that takes place between the members.

A group that helped define the term "power trio" was certainly the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Hendrix, one of the most influential guitarists in rock history, was perfectly complimented by the solid bass playing of Noel Redding and the ferocious drumming of Mitch Mitchell. Aaron's choice of song is immediately recognizable but that does nothing to short-change its impact to this very day.

Chris recently watched the rockumentary, Lemmy; centered around one Mr. Kilmister. Still running on the high of viewing this great film, Chris' pick of Motorhead is a natural for this list. Bare-bones, kick-ass rock is featured from Lemmy and co. with a track from the No Remorse compilation that is very reptilian in nature.

It's hard to believe that ZZ Top has been around since 1969 and are still kicking ass to this day. With their new EP 'Texicali' the band, thankfully, have ditched the synthesizers that propelled them to the top of the mainstream charts in the 80's in favor of the boogiefied (is that a word?) approach that build their hardcore fanbase throughout the 1970's. Aaron spins a track on this short appetizer to their full album due in the very near future.

We couldn't do a show on Rock's greatest trios without including a great group from Canada......The Tea Party! Don't worry, that other awesome trio will be played later in the show. The Tea Party (no affiliation with the political group), rose to prominence in Canada from the 90's through 2005 and are recently reunited. Sporting a sound that could be described as the Doors meets Zeppelin with a side of Ravi Shankar, Chris was very surprised when he stumbled upon this group while researching for this episode and gives you a taste of what this little-known (outside of Canada) band sounds like.

Formed in Cleveland, Ohio in 1966, the James Gang never achieved the breakthrough success that singer/guitarist Joe Walsh would later enjoy with The Eagles and his solo career but this was a very important band for the late 1960's and early 1970's that need to be heard and appreciated. Aaron's funky pick of a song from 1970's James Gang Rides Again is a riff that is just as awesome today as when it was released.

Chris' next pick of Rush is mandatory in order to keep Canadian listeners from making a trip to Nashville with pitchforks in hand. Aside from that, Rush is a great band and Chris' pick of a track off of their brand new Clockwork Angels album is quite possibly the heaviest song that Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart have ever produced. 

Sublime was one of those bands that was pretty much over by the time they had a chance to enjoy the fruits of their labor. With the untimely death of singer Bradley Nowell, the band has since gone on to perform with a different singer but has failed to capture the ska/rock/punk mix they were able to conjure with Nowell. Aaron's song choice for this episode is a shining example of what could have been.

No list of greatest rock trios would be complete without a mention of Cream. One of the very first supergroups, Cream consisted of Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, and Eric Clapton. Bruce's experimental jazz-like bass lines and Baker's heavy-handed drumming were perfect compliments to Clapton's blues-based noisefests that were produced from the earliest days of the wah-wah pedal and Chris' song choice is a stunning reminder of how prolific this band was.

Possibly the most underrated rock trio ever, King's X has plowed ahead through 30+ years of trials, tribulations, and tons of great music. It's truly criminal that this band has not received the mainstream support that it so richly deserves. The soulful playing and singing of bassist Dug Pinnick, the soaring solos and harmony parts of guitarist Ty Tabor, and the swinging, powerful drumming of Jerry Gaskill fuels this Texas-born trios amazing balance of heavy meets melodic rock. Chris' song choice from 1994's Dogman album showcases the tightness and tenacity that is King's X.

Known as the band that killed glam, Nirvana exploded onto the world's stage with their 1991 album Nevermind and went on to become one of the most influential bands of the modern era. Aaron decided to go back further and showcase a track from the band's pre-success era album Bleach and you'll also hear the story behind the song.

We close things out with a track from three guys from New York City that has a license to ill. While the Beastie Boys have never been known as hard rock or heavy metal, there's no denying that this track from the Ill Communication album will certainly get you pumped for a night out (or an ambush).

Direct download: Episode_44_-_Threesomes.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 4:47pm EDT