Monday, October 13, 2008


In 1994 I learned about the low start-up & pressing costs associated with putting out 45rpm singles, then not entirely uncoincidently clogging up the bins at record stores worldwide, and being a man of limited vision - but with great imitative “follow-on” skills - I decided to start my own record label. WOMB Records is what I called it, after a derogatory but still somehow mildly comic term my insane, germ-phobic, liquid paper-huffing freshman dorm roommate had for the opposite gender. All I needed was a fantastic young band to document where I could get a jump on the competition, and thankfully that young band were good friends who lived in my town of San Francisco or across the bay in Oakland. MONOSHOCK granted Womb Records exclusive rights to their debut record, sealed over a beer (I don’t remember that actually happening, but I’m sure beer was involved somehow).

MONOSHOCK had recently reconstituted in the Bay Area after a few years in the rock and roll wilderness. They were a fantastic loud, fuzz-driven, psych-heavy “college band” circa 1988-89 in Isla Vista, CA, but in the subsequent four years had split off and lived in different locales, playing in various bands like LIQUOR BALL (Grady Runyan), EARLY MAN SITE (all of them, I think), and I forget who else. When they reformed in 1993, as great as they were before that, “in the eighties”, it was like a total 2.0 retransformation had occurred. I remember they played a party at Anthony Bedard’s house opening for Claw Hammer one Sunday afternoon, maybe their second or third gig back together, and they kicked off with a damaged sonic assault of an instrumental called “Nobody Recovery”, and my jaw hit the goddamn floor. For once, one of my friends’ bands was a real band, a band I needed to tell the world about. You know how that worked back in your twenties – you had all those "fun" bands your friends were in that you had to go see repeatedly because they were your pals, very few of whom you’d actually buy a record from or pay money to see if, say, they were from another locale. I was beside myself with how well these guys were playing & how many incredibly spaced-out & feedback-drenched monsters they were pumping out every couple of weeks around that time (1993).

So a little less than a year later, Monoshock’s “Primitive Zippo / Change That Riff / Nobody Recovery” EP became WOMB 001. The band were kind enough to let me pick the tracks to put on the record, so I picked what I thought were the three hottest from their demo at the time – and I worked closely with Rubin Fiberglass, the band’s drummer and occasional singer (lead duties on the verses of “Primitive Zippo” and all of “Change That Riff”), to choose the ridiculous bears-playing-hockey back cover and Gary Usher insert from his collection of saved images (the latter came from a high school yearbook someone found). The front cover is a painting of Fiberglass enjoying some healthy intake from a trusted friend, rendered directly from a photograph by Somis, CA renderer Craig Borrell. Lettering by Kelly Richardson. I’m reprinting all of the images – front and back cover, plus both sides of the insert, here.
The single came out in an edition of 1,000, which seemed like about 400 too many until Julian Cope went bonkers for the band a few years ago and COMETS ON FIRE started namechecking Monoshock as a major influence. I remember throwing a couple of them on eBay in the early oughts and getting zero bids; last year I plopped one of the remaining few up there and nailed $25 after a frenzied bidding war. I think the entire pressing cost $600, plus another $200 for materials – which, when you could wholesale them for $1.50 each or more, meant profit for sure if you kept your pressing at the right level. Anyway, as mentioned before, there were more than enough people putting out 45s at the time, and I figured that any truly great music would eventually get heard without me having to pay for it. WOMB only pressed one more record, and that was a co-release of the DEMOLITION DOLL RODS’ debut EP with Anthony Bedard’s PAST IT records, which we posted in mp3 form in its entirety here, and which Past It generated not one but two full represses of on their own.

MONOSHOCK went on to put out two more outstanding singles and one full-length platter called “Walk To the Fire”. Their entire remaining non-LP discography was cleaned up, remastered, and comped into a CD called “Runnin’ Backwards From The Ape-Like Superman”, which I wrote about on my old Agony Shorthand blog here. It sounds amazing, and it contains the debut EP we’re posting for you here, just cleaned up a bit. I’ll admit it sounds better on the CD, but it you like ‘em raw, here’s Monoshock’s debut EP from 1994, ripped straight from the original vinyl.

Play or Download MONOSHOCK – “Primitive Zippo” (A-side)
Play or Download MONOSHOCK – “Change That Riff” (B-side, Track 1)
Play or Download MONOSHOCK – “Nobody Recovery” (B-side, Track 2)

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