music

We Are KMFDM

We Are KMFDM: Kunst

Not many bands last 30 years. Not many continue to crank out new material, either.

But KMFDM has marched on through many iterations, founders coming and going, and new lineups that freshen up the sound.

We Are KMFDM: Better Than the Best

I’ve been a fan since the Nihil era – KMFDM’s glory days. The golden age when each new album, from Angst to Symbols, did better than the one before it.

And like a lot of people, it was “Juke Joint Jezebel” that turned me on to the band. I should say – it turned me on to a world of music I didn’t know before.

Danceable. Techno beats. Shredding, heavy-metal style guitars. Backup singers. Self references. Self mockery.

And so much fun.

We Are KMFDM: Steve

The current lineup is a talented group. I do enjoy the twin-guitar gallop of Steve (above) and Jules. Andy’s live drums add a new dimension that makes many live KMFDM songs better.

We Are KMFDM: Kaptain K

We Are KMFDM: Magic Stick

My buddy Don and I saw KMFDM at the Magic Stick, a smaller venue than usual, along Detroit’s Woodward Ave. It’s actually the perfect place to see the band: small, intimate, and easy to get to.

A lot of the new stuff is so-so, but Sascha always throws in plenty of the classic stuff. “Light,” “DIY,” “Anarchy” – these are the songs we came to scream. Some of the new stuff, like “Kunst,” sounds great live, too. But I think the majority of KMFDM fans prefer the classics.

We Are KMFDM: Sascha

Who knows how much longer KMFDM will be around. Forty more years? Fifty?

Into light and the future.”

See the rest of the set.


Spock’s Beard

Sure, prog rock was kind of dorky back in the early 2000s (or 1970s, or…). But no one had more fun on stage than Spock’s Beard back in the day.

Skip to 0:55:00 for the best version of “Waste Away” I’ve seen. So fun.

I saw them live, opening up for Dream Theater, at the Phoenix Plaza in Pontiac, MI, the summer of 2000. And from there, I went on to buy V and it changed my life.


Smashing Pumpkins, ‘Rocket’

If I could pick any song that said, “This is why I want to play guitar,” then “Rocket” would be it.

The original version was magic to a 14-year-old me. Still is. And it’s so gratifying to hear Billy say that this song is the Plutonic ideal of Pumpkins material. Especially when all the weirdness hit the Pumkins, and I looked back on Siamese Dream with longing, thinking, “If only they could do that again.”

Reissue? Purchased.


Simple

GE Radio

The other day my dad was talking about his cellphone, and how it liked it so much because it was simple. Flip open, find the number you want, dial and talk, and then to hang up you simply close the clam shell.

Smartphones? They’re beyond him. Why do you need all that fancy stuff when you just want to make a phone call?

I almost chalked our conversation up to one of those aren’t-parents-cute moments, but then I thought, gosh, I recently felt the exact same way.

All I wanted was a radio. Nothing fancy, no media-playing capabilities. Just something that turns on, plays a radio station, and that’s it. And I wanted it to be portable enough to carry around the house with me: in the garage, in the kitchen, or in the kitchen window so I can hear it in the backyard.

At a local rummage sale, I found exactly what I was looking for. But to find it, I had to buy something that’s probably close to the same age as me. It’s the above General Electric desktop radio, model 7-4115B. Faux wood grain, black and metal finish, and two knobs – one for volume, and one for tuning. Then there’s a little switch that you flip to go from AM to FM.

It’s gorgeous, and it’s perfect, and it only cost me $1 at the rummage sale (some yahoo at Etsy has one for $18). That little radio was exactly what I was looking for, and it works like a charm. Plus, it’s stylish in a retro kind of way. That little radio fits perfectly with my kitchen. It’s sturdy enough, and if I drop and break it, I’m only out $1. But it’s the kind of thing where I can see having it for years and years. The thing has survived this long, after all – but maybe the reason it’s lasted so long is because it’s so simple.

When I’m doing repetitive tasks, I need something in the background to listen to. Put the radio on, and I’m up for anything. But if it’s not on, it’s easy to get distracted. Turning my brain off means having music, and so this new GE radio is going to be perfect.

Sometimes, fancy is great. Having the Internet on my phone is wonderfully handy, and goodness knows I get plenty of use out of my iPhone.

But then simple can be all you need just when you need it. My dad just wants a phone to make calls. I just want a little radio to carry around the house with me. Easy. Simple. Perfect.