Zip Caplan, lead guitarist and leader of legendary garage psychedelic monsters The Litter, is an affable guy who shows up at just about every Minnesota Record Show. He grew up in St Paul like me, so I recently posed a question to him that I’ve always wanted answered: there are lots of great sixties bands from Minnesota, but which of them were from St Paul specifically? For the price of a lunchtime hot dog, Zip wrote down a list of bands in pen for me, off the top of his head. Thanx Zip for satisfying my curiosity. (ed. note: One of the guys in The Deacons added Sir Lawrence and The Crescents to the list.)
The Rhythm Kings
Tim & The Galaxies
Keith Zeller and The Starliners
Digging further into the Austin, Minnesota music scene (see the Draghounds post previous to this), I present the Third Eye, who were the most out-there-experimental of the gaggle of groups that headed to Minneapolis from Southern Minnesota in the late 80s (Draghounds, Gear Daddies, etc). A friend who grew up in the Austin, MN scene is considering his own blog about the music of this time and place, I’m crossing my fingers he will do it. I’m still looking for the first Third Eye tape, but this one shows the band losing some of their garage-pop sensibilities & turning into something somewhat more, ahem, “sinister”. The Third Eye released two 7″ singles, of which the first was a three-song 7″ culled from this five-song tape, I’ve included the other two tracks for you here. The lineup on this cassette included Jason Sack pre-Beyond Zebra on bass & original drummer Mike Swank. The Third Eye eventually changed their name to The Green Machine, who released another 7″ single & two CDs. Sean Miland & Dave Krejci continue to make mind-bending experimental psychedelia- hats off to ‘em! Thanks to guitarist-singer Sean Miland for giving me the go-ahead to put there here for you to listen to.
Three Car Garage exemplify that wasted ‘70s bored cruising-round-with-an-empty-gas-tank feeling via song better than any band I can think of. A great but unheralded group of four from the same Southeast corner of the metro area that I am from, 3CG released five records, and surprisingly only one was issued in the USA. They had the sense to know that a band should go to the “right” studio to craft their sound & songs. 3CG enlisted two well-known studios: Smart Studio in Madison, Wisconsin & Noise New York out east. Kramer, owner of Noise New York, went on to release one of their 7” singles and a four-song CD on his own label KoKoPop. Three Car Garage’s songs were quite catchy and sophisticated; they’ve been stuck in my head for weeks since I stumbled upon a couple of their cassettes. While listening I hear similarities to contemporaries such as Urge Overkill (a band that had some parallels with 3CG), The Hellacopters, and Soul Asylum. They also echoed past greats like Blue Oyster Cult, Kiss, & BTO. It’s tough to nail down a genre that 3CG fit into, their sound pre-dated Stoner Rock, and there is some similarity to bands that came along a few years later. I can also hear Grunge, straight-up Alternative Rock, Retro Psych-Garage and Power Pop. Whatever you want to call it, Here’s to 3CG, give ‘em some listening time.
Eric “Buck” Nelson- guitar & vocals
Carl Namyst- guitar & vocals
Pete Maye- bass & vocals
Ron Bronner- drums
“How Does it Feel” b/w “Say Goodbye” 7” single 1991 Prospective Records (USA) PRS-566 from the Smart Studios recordings
“Cold Feeling” b/w “Dreams/Death on the Stage” 7” single 1992 Repulsion Records (Germany) RE-012 from the Smart Studios recordings
“Cheap Champagne” on The Cowboy Teashow Compilator Volume 2 10” EP Rocket Sound Records (USA) RS-1005 from the Smart Studios recordings
Kings of Wig 10-song CD 1993 Repulsion Records (Germany) RE-014-2 from the Noise New York recordings includes “Slow”, “Love Kills”, “Rotten Soul”, “You Don’t Feel”, “Next to You”. “The King of Wig”, “Sad Vacation”, “Savage Man”, “Headed for The 200”, “T.V.B.C.”
Three Car Garage four-song CD 1993 KoKoPop Records (pressed in England) KOKOCD-16 from the Noise New York recordings includes “You Don’t Feel”, “Slow”, “Love Kills”, “The King of Wig”,“Rotten Soul”
“Slow” b/w “Love Kills” red vinyl 7” single 1994 KoKoPop Records (pressed in England) KOKO-16 from the Noise New York recordings
Track 1 (final tape)
Spinnin’ Records With You (final tape)
An oral history of Three Car Garage
Buck: Somehow, while in college, I ended up with a guitar. A guy I knew was strapped for cash big time, and he had to sell his guitar. We drove to a pawn shop, and they would only give him a hundred bucks, so I think I gave him $150 for it. During the summer at home during college, we somehow got our hands on a bass, and Pete played it a bit. Pete was the songwriter for 3CG. We moved out by the University of Minnesota, by the Ronald McDonald House. We were going to play a party, our then-drummer was like “Hey-sorry, you guys suck, I can’t play with you” the day of the show. We were making some noise in an attic. To get up there you had to climb up through a pop-up door in a closet ceiling. All of a sudden this head pops up. It was Ronnie Bronner, and he said “Hey! Drum set!” He jumped up there and got behind the drums and kicked it. He heard us rocking out and found us. Then Carl showed up, Carl and I had known each other forever, since kindergarten in Woodbury.
Carl: I’d play with these guys in the summer during college, then the college thing wore off and the band thing turned into a full-time party. Summer of ’85. The Replacements made everybody want to be in a rock band, so by ‘85 we had guitars.
Carl: I just found the tape we recorded at 3M Studios. Some if it is pretty good, some is pretty terrible. Ron got someone at KFAI to play it on the air.
Buck: We were going to record with Butch Vig at Smart Studios in Madison, but he had to go to record a Tad album for Sub Pop. So we recorded there with Doug Olson, and he was great. We were there for a weekend with our camper trailer parked next to the studio. That was THE big demo tape, and everything got pressed onto vinyl eventually.
Buck: Noise New York- we met our road manager Fred through someone who worked at the Frank-Nic liquor store in South Minneapolis. Fred did sound for Urge Overkill when they went around the country opening for Nirvana on the Bleach tour. We met Nash Kato & Urge Overkill through Fred. Nash would hang out at our place when he’d come back to Minneapolis to visit his family. Urge had recorded their demo with Kramer at Noise New York, which got them their Geffen deal.
Carl: That tape included “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” (Neil Diamond cover), which was also on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. Kramer played the toy piano on that.
Buck: Fred called Kramer & he said “Yeah, come on out.” So we bought a ticket for Nash Kato (“A Ticket to New York”). He was into getting a free ticket to New York, because he had people to hang out with there.
Buck: We went to Urge Overkill’s place, an old bank building in Chicago, & recorded there. We set up in the vault in the basement. At that session we did a Runaways cover.
Repulsion Records label:
Buck: Carl and our road manager friend Fred went to Germany and meet Marc Richter, owner of Repulsion Records.
Carl: We went to France in a BMW, it was a party. We went to a bunch of castles and to every bar around Marc’s house with his friends. They were all really good foosball players, we thought we (3CG) were good cuz we had a foosball table in our living room, but these guys were toying with me, they were so good.
Carl: By the time the Kings of Wig CD got back here (for sale in Minnesota record stores), it was $24. It was from Germany, at an import price.
Carl- Billy Ruane just passed away, everyone loved him in Boston. He wasn’t in a band, but people loved him like they love Bill Batson here. We saw a picture of Billy on a flyer at the Middle East Club & thought that’d be a good photo for the cover of the Kings of Wig CD. Billy was well-to-do, and his dad was always trying to put him away. He just helped out bands he liked in Boston. We hung out with Martin at the Middle East, they always had those great sandwiches. & they gave us a place to stay. Once we called the Middle East the day of the show, just to let ‘em know we’re coming, and they had Dumpster Juice scheduled. Martin said “I’m wearing my 3CG t-shirt right now- so you’re headlining”.
Buck and Carl- We played Gabes Oasis in Iowa City, where we opened for House of Large Sizes, that show was sold out. We played Madison, The Metro in Chicago, Providence- Club Babyhead. CBGBs in New York- the cops in New York wouldn’t let us hang out with the homeless people cuz I had a van. We played a warehouse party in Baltimore, that place ended when someone fell down an elevator shaft & died. We once saw the Ramones for free at Hammerjacks in Baltimore, a club under the freeway ramps by some parking lots. We were sitting in the side bar of the club, and the mosh pit would just flow through the doors in by us, so we just jumped up & made our way into the show. The Electric Banana in Pittsburgh…the club owner Johnny Banana pulled a gun on us back in the office. We told him since he couldn’t pay us, we’d camp out in front of the club. He checked on us a couple of times throughout the night, riding up in his Town Car. Someone at a band house in Youngstown heard we were at The Electric Bananan, and they asked :”did Johnnny pull his pistol on you too?”
Carl: in ‘95 we gave up on paying for a practice space…
Buck: …and so in Pete’s basement we built a sound-proofed practice space- a room within a room. Ron was the loudest drummer ever. so loud we had to put stuff in our ears. We had a totally sealed room within another room, the walls were like a foot thick, two ceilings, and then put a recording studio in it. We got a 1/2-inch reel-to-reel 8-track tape machine & mixing board. We worked a long time on the final tape, at least a year, on ten songs, the final recording, and then the band was done.
Buck: The band was done, it had to be ’95, the ten year plan. Christine (Buck’s wife) was driving around the Gyoto Monks for Rykodisc, and we played our last show Monk Fest in Detroit Lakes. While driving back we were talking about Carl’s trip to Germany, and it turns out Christine’s family is also from the same small town in Germany- Emmendingen. So I’ve been to Emmendingen myself a couple of times since, but we can’t find Mark Richter, he’s since moved off. I turn into a bottle of Roadhouse Beer whenever I go to Emmendingen.
Remember Cedarfest? It’s the one street fair everyone agrees had it all right (except parking). LOTS of bands played there, here is my documentation of one year. Here is photos I took of Spider John Koerner, The Magnolias, The Mighty Mofos, Uptighty, & Arcwelder.
I’ve seen the Batson brothers live in concert in one form or another more than any other band . Bill & Ernie are my bona-fide heroes.
King Kustom & The Cruisers is the name of the Batson’s 1970s outfit; they played mostly ’50s covers with a lotta Elvis & Conway thown in. KK&C played Christine & my wedding dance on November 4th, 1995 at the Grand Ballroom at The St Paul Hotel. Don Bailey made a good recording onto two cassettes- all three sets. A few songs from that fabled evening are presented here. Still kicking, you could have seen King Kustom last night at Dusty’s Bar in Minneapolis- they’re still “knockin’ ‘em dead” said Vandy via twitter. The photos enclosed are from our actual wedding album, how rad is that??!!??
The Hypstrz were started in the late 1970s by the Batsons and made one of Minnesota’s top five LPs of all-time (“Hypstrization” 1980 Voxx Records, reissued on wax a few years ago). Their self-titled 7″ EP from 1979 on Bogus Records was my portal into ’60s garage rock, thanks to the mail man at my parents’ house at the time. I had an early version of a boombox in 1980 and had taped Mike Reiter’s copy of the EP onto a cassette. As I was walking home from high school one day blaring the EP, the mail man came running up to me with an excited look & expression: “THAT SONG! THAT SONG was done a long time ago by a local band called THE LITTER! I explained to him that THIS version was done by a new local band called The Hypstrz; we proceeded to turn each other onto two unknown local bands from two different eras. Rick the mail man (thanks, wherever you are!) made me cassettes of The C.A. Quintet, The Litter, T.C. Atlantic, and a few local 1960s garage rock singles, with KDWB jingles thrown in between songs for local flavor. He changed my life, and so did The Hypstrz that day. The track here is a Hypstrz original from the “Burger Corpse” cassette from 1983, thanks to Lee Engele for giving the the go-ahead to post it.
The Mighty Mofos were started by The Batsons in the early 1980s. Many a night were spent by my friends and I at The 7th Street Entry & Uptown Bar watching The Mighty Mofos. They took much of the ’60s garage rock ethos that The Hypstrz had & super-charged it with The MC5 & a wider set of influences (’70s hard-core funk, The Dictators, Flamin’ Groovies, etc). I always likened it to Ernie’s amp turned up to 11- definitely the loudest local band I’ve ever heard, and that’s a good thing. The Mofos released one LP, one 12″ EP, one 7″ single, and one CD. I have a cassette of The Mighty Mofos live in concert, one side is from The 7th Street Entry and was broadcast on KFAI around 1984, the other side is live at The Rat nightclub in Boston, 1987.
Thank you to Bill Batson for giving me the green light to put these tracks up for you to hear.
King Kustom & The Cruisers “Bonie Maronie”
King Kustom & The Cruisers “Nervous Breakdown”
King Kustom & The Cruisers “Love Me”
King Kustom & The Cruisers “Lonely Blue Boy”
King Custom & The Cruisers bouquet toss & “Party Doll”
The Hypstrz “I Live In a City That Rocks”
The Mighty Mofos “I Need You (7th St Entry)”
The Mighty Mofos “Slow Death (7th St Entry)”
The Mighty Mofos “Astro Boy (The Rat club, Boston)”
GJG is certainly the best place to buy a ton of records. We have 470,000 of them, and have been selling 'em for 29 years. GJG is also a blog: I like lo-fi analog sound (cassettes and vinyl, please) and lo-rez/highly-pixelated/blurry photographs of (mainly) Minnesota music and its related ephemera.
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