Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Oui Oui Twins

Alissa Feinberg, the lost Twin

Punk wasn't an easy choice back in 1980. I had already laughed it off several times before, after buying the first Ramones album and having a laugh or two over Beat On the Brat With A Baseball Bat and I Don't Wanna Go Down In The Basement.

It might seem foolish now, but at the time, punk didn't seem so much a musical thing as a fashion statement. The idea that music didn't need to be played well was so totally alien to everything music had been throughout the 1970s that it was almost impossible to grasp; and the consequences were completely unforeseen. Nobody knew that punk would spread like crabgrass and cover the land, choking out every last vestige of proficiency in music, leaving us with the souless studio drones and rap musicians to rule the airwaves while thousands of new bands fought for our attention just beneath the horizon of profitability; we all thought that music would continue on as before, with those who played far better than average wanking away on their ever-more difficult and ornate variations of blues, funk and country while the rest of us strived diligently to imitate our betters.

As we all now know, punk did not go anywhere, but just got bigger and bigger. I remember, with visceral clarity, in the dying days of Jambox, sitting on a fire escape behind where West End Wax would once be, reading an article on the Sex Pistols, chuckling at the effrontery of Johnny Rotten claiming that sex was just sixty seconds of sweat and noise, among other nonsense calculated to challenge our seventies preconceptions of right and wrong, and thinking the man was onto something big here.

So when Rommie Martinez and Alissa Feinberg came to invite me to join their new punk band the Oui Oui Twins, I said yes on the spot. They were both beautiful young girls, just barely sixteen, and I liked the idea of a punk band fronted by two underaged young girls just on the face of it. Back in the barbarous days of the late seventies, the whole idea of even pretending that teenaged girls were incapable of agency in choosing whether or not to have sex with anyone of any age was considered so prudish and quaint that we all found it quite laughable.

When I heard the lyrics that the girls had written I was pretty convinced that we could put together a credible punk act. We practiced a few times at the apartment where I was living with George Crider and his roommate Bob, once inviting Brett Rosenberg over for a little light necking and music playing. Alissa and Rommie were already jealous over Brett, who was a big-eyed, big dicked little guy who played a mean lead guitar and was famous for wearing revealing satin pants on stage in his last band, Surgery.

Soon the rest of Surgery, minus whoever played bass and Howard, the lead singer - a legendary performer who was known to grope and sexually assault girls while singing - was lined up to form the new band. Alex Mutrux would play guitar, like me, and Kevin Brueseke would play drums. Kevin was a well-known drummer in the punk scene in Saint Louis. He was, in fact, one of the first St. Louis punk drummers I had ever seen myself, though I didn't realize it at the time. I had seen him playing with the Camaros at a legendary show at some house on Forest Park Boulevard maybe a year or so earlier, along with Bob Reuter and the Dinosaurs and the mighty mighty Retros. That show was the very first St. Louis Punk show I and many other people had ever seen, though I'm not sure if it pre-dated the Cool Jerks in Nik Moon's basement sometime in the late seventies also.

Soon after we started this band, Mort Hill and I were working on opening the very first punk club in St. Louis, the Club OP-P on Olive, in a worthless old building my dad had bought. In this building, in the same room where many of the top punk bands of this time were to play, we started practicing, and one day we made a down and dirty recording on a cheap Jap boombox I had laying around just for shits and grins. And this is how, after all these many decades, we can hear the faintest echos of the majesty of the Oui Oui Twins.

Of course, the blinding poreless engorged youthfulness of the Twins themselves can never be recaptured. Their tiny brunette bodies, tight and hot, can only be dimly glimpsed even by those who still cherish the memories of those long-gone days. So try to listen with indulgence and compassion to these crude practices, while understanding that the Oui Oui Twins never really got much better technically, they were always nothing less than the rawest wildest yawp of sex-crazed punk abandon ever seen on a St. Louis stage.

On the tracks here I'm pretty sure that the lineup is Alissa and Rommie on vocals, Kevin on drums, Alex and me on guitars, and my brother Augustino on bass.

The Oui-Oui Twins at their second and last gig at Club OP-P New Year's Eve 1981.

First, try the Oui Oui version of Dot-Pop, which was called I've Got Class!

Next, the hit single that never was, I'm Electric.

Last, if you wish, a song that was pretty lame, Last Night.

And if you remember them at all, I will share with you my deep regret that no recorded version of their insane rap/dirge My Brain Is On The Floor survives, and is probably lost forever.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Thom Sleet/Bill Morris Change

While taking a much needed-break from my video editing job I had another session with Thom Sleet and Bill Morris. Here is an excerpt from the best of what we did. Don't know if I could ever do it again, but I'll always try.

We started this session by sketching diagrams of what we would play, to give us some kind of direction. I also decided I would play melodically if I wanted, since that's just me. Listening to this back, right afterwards, I felt it was stone cold fever in jam.

This track has Thom Sleet on drums and such, Bill Morris on guitar, and me on the wah guitar.

Download "Knocking a Riff"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Coming Attractions: The Obvious

There are only a few Obvious songs to put up, in all. But this is a list of everything I'm planning on throwing up her over the next few months:

Surf's Up, Gang! - gotta do this soon, I guess. Everyone's seen the video, but there are stories to tell and photos to share.

Venturesque - the only perfect Obvious song, written by Alex Mutrux. I'm really proud of my guitar parts on this, though I realize the art of the rhythm guitar is lost on most people.

Back to Beat - my punk cry for beat legitimacy, prefaced by a quote from Howl.

Those were the first three songs we recorded, all of them pretty decent recordings. The next recording session was much more rushed.

Overgrown & Undersexed - some pop snide put down of an imaginary girl.

(I Lost My Club) Down On The Stroll - my post-punk song about the OP-P Club, the first punk club in St. Louis.

Dot-Pop - this one's done.

Lights, Camera, Action! - this one's done.

Jailbait - a regrettable subject that seemed funny at the time. There was a time, kids, when statutory rape was just a joke. The hook for this song was swiped so directly from Charlie Langrehr that he even had the temerity to bring it to my notice once, and I, of course, denied it furiously.

Then there are some live tracks Alex Mutrux coughed up in honor of my 50th birthday. If anyone even cares, they are a version of "Waitin' For My Man" with local legend Jim Saltsider on vocals, our off-key version of "Pleasant Valley Sunday", always a Tony Patti standard, and a truncated version of a song even I had forgotten we did that I guess is called the Celebrity Song.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


The Obvious was the best band I was ever in, just ask Alex Mutrux, even though it was never one of Alex's "favorite" bands or anything like that. Jim Saltsider himself gave us our entire supply of ultra hipster insiderness thanks to his dabbling's in White Pride and sundry other crimes.

But the Obvious, more than anything else, was what is indisputably known as a new wave band, though aspects of punk and post-punk nihilism were in evidence in every single recorded instance of the band.

And this is where we find Saltsider and Mutrux sitting inside the filthy trash container in front of my Mom's apartment where I was crashing right after the O-PP Club fell apart.

Look at Jim Saltsider grinning his evil elfin Kaya-Ungu-Mala smiles at the camera while fingering leftover crumbs of Sugar Smacks, while Mutrux thumbs through a magazine, seemingly unaware of his magnificent hipster past, instead rather annoyed but still game enough to crawl in there in the first place.

He wrote this song for the Oui Oui Twins, who had some lyrics that no one seemed to like that were something like "I've Got Class!" and if you check back here every so often I'll get around to posting it, since I have a very lousy cassette tape of a practice with this song.

I rewrote the lyrics and we sped it up quite a bit before we finally recorded it in the second of our two recording sessions. This version has Mutrux on guitar, me on guitar and vocals, Kevin Brueseke on drums, my brother Augustino on bass and Sally Barnes on Arp.
"Dots dig dada den drink soda pop!"
It was a typical boy teen delusion grown stale - the idea that somewhere there were dots, dots who somehow dug you, dots who doted on you, dots only signed to shine with the phosphorescence you provided. And that was supposed to be enough. And that was supposed to be the end of it. But it wasn't, and it hardly ever was any other way.

You got used to the dots, started to kind of expect them one way or the other. Dots, you'd tell yourself in moments of deepest introspection, these Dots are just plain daffy. One day these dots came to you in the form of a Oui-Oui Twin or two. And from then on out it was just the Obvious - with and without Chuck DeClue.

It was a big mystery to anyone as much as me, what I would say when we actually recorded the song. I tried to keep it on the one but must admit I Kerouaced it on up as much as a trained stream of consciousness boys can wain it. Can wing it. Wanna wang it, dol-gang it to death and damnation!

We'll start out with Feedback & Flashback,
The world's most engaging Dots.
They decided to use what they got to ooze
And they moved at the party to prove:

Dots pop Dot-Pop.

"Let's take a break here to clarify the vague terminology in this song: Dots are beauty personified, and pop is the ultimate explosion of love."

We tied up the Dots in cellophane-
We intertwined them between our strings-
Played chords on their epidermal kernel-
Pop Dots - have a little fling!

"When Dots drink each other's Dot-Pop, it's only a question of abnormal florals or oral morals."

Dots dig Dada den drink soda pop
You know you know nothing if you don't know you know what you know. But, anyway... You don't have to remind me what I don't know even if I did I might not anyway bein the way I am and all. I'm not saying I know, I'm just asking if you do, and if you do, then everything you do is inclusive in the limited plan of action and law allowable under precedents long-established and benign.

Download "Dot-Pop!"