Located somewhat equidistant from the neon dirge of Seattle and the coastal logging town of Aberdeen, Washington - the hometown of one Kurt Cobain - lies the verdent, arty metropolis of Olympia. The city itself sits at the end of the Budd Inlet, one of the last stops on the many tenticled Puget Sound, a locality which has over the years proved to be a fertile breeding ground for noisy, unabashed and rebellious strains of rock and roll.
Olympia has been the launchpad for a number of well known bands and labels, notably Beat Happening's iconic originator of twee, Calvin Johnson, who grew a steady following of fans for his K Records venture. And Tobi Vail of Bikini Kill, a woman of formidable musical knowledge and prowess who is reverred from scene to scene for her unshakable comittment to music and art in general.
There are more than just a handful of bands playing out of Olympia right now that deserve attention. The sheer volume of interesting sounds ranging from unspoilt hardcore aggression through to politically fueled straight punk rock, scorching noise punk and impressive grunge revival is staggering. Sometime in the near future we will be writing an indepth article about every Olympia band we can unearth, but for the purposes of brevity I will be writing about just one band this time round. Weird TV.
The bio for Weird TV on last.fm reads ‘Punkest band in Olympia,’ which should be taken with a snow shovel sized pinch of salt because quite frankly the concoction of Bikini Kill bite and clamour fermented with drips and drabs of Wipers influence makes for something slightly more noise obsessed than clear-cut punk obsessed. It has been said that all Pacific Northwest / Washington state bands can have their sound traced back to either Wipers, Melvins, Hendrix, Beat Happening, The Beatles or Nirvana. This band ignore the rancour of Melvins, the quaint delights of Beat Happening, the precision of Hendrix and the accessibility of The Beatles to form a femme led contortion of messy rock and roll.
Their five track demo comes complete with a hastily scribbled cover that any fan of the artwork for Beat Happening's 1988 effort 'Jamboree' will be moist over. Alas, one should never judge a record by it's cover. The inner operations of Weird TV's first release are frantic and their sound is played with an apparent seriousness which can only have been instilled within their grain by Vail and Hanna's throttling of chords with Bikini Kill. The recording is basic, but the four-track-in-the-basement approach actually serves to clarify their sound as the dirty riff laden, groove riding, Stooges flavoured punk rock that it is. If the two minutes and fifty five seconds of third track 'Sex' had been recorded on anything other than a rusty Tascam then the opening screams wouldn't have sounded half as unnerving. Just as some ambience peddling musicians obsessed with minimal compression might want to record their craft within the hull of the salvaged Mary Rose or deep inside the bowels of The Cave Without A Name, Weird TV's tone, likewise it seems, benefits from certain characteristics of production.
Both 'Canalla' and 'Sufrir' fry a mixture of scrap-heap 90's punk chops with impassioned deliveries and cues taken from the likes of Nirvana and Bratmobile. The first few bars of 'Sufrir' had me double checking whether I'd unknowingly played Bikini Kill's 'I Like Fucking' instead. However, the comparisons should not be allowed to overcrowd what this demo offers. The juice thats been knotted into every second of this sixteen minute display of feral disobedience is remarkable. I guess there isn't a whole host of revolutionary ideas to get excited about, but perhaps the way by which the cuts of late 80's / early 90's Grrrl style have been allowed to recongeal in the 21st Century is to some extent an indication that sounds and noises can become nascent all over again decades later. As if by some divine natural cycle the spirit never quite died and the body managed to refresh itself.