SIMON CHAINSAW : Eight times lucky
by SIMON CHAINSAW
Simon Chainsaw Solo? It was never meant to be that way. In the late 90’s the Sydney music scene sucked, nobody was playing rock’n’roll and if they did no-one cared. I couldn’t find any real rockers and was lacking inspiration and energy to battle the apathy, another casualty. I left Australia like so many others to look for the real Rock. Japan looked like a crazy scene spewing out bands like Guitar Wolf & Teengenerate, so I headed up there. There were some crazy cats that’s for sure… but the cost of living was outta control. In just a few short weeks I’d blown almost all my cash in karaoke booths (the cheapest way to drink) and train fares to Shinjuku. Even crashing on the floor in my buddy’s 6 mat apartment was not much help, he was in the ‘burbs for the cheap rent, I had to be on the last train home and that was just when things were warming up. I pulled a few allnighters but soon realized that over time wasn’t gonna be an option… I knew if I was gonna be a part of this scene I would need to cash up and move into the city. I organized a job as an English teacher! Boy was someone in for a shock. I’ll teach you to speak rock’n’roll! I told one kid he should spell his band GUTS with a Z and didn’t even charge him extra.
Down in Brazil Tronador Records was releasing a “Best Of” type retrospective of my old band VANILLA CHAINSAWS. So I was going down there to help sort it all out. Of course the fact that Carnaval was just around the corner had no bearing on it at all. So I blew Tokyo with every intention of returning.
But there were a few stops to make on the way… First to South Chicago where I got schooled by the old bluesmen who’d moved down from Maxwell St… New York, going back to CB’s after playing there 10 years earlier…. the Chelsea, the Village, Williamsburg … going over my old footsteps from when I was touring and hanging out in NYC got me hyped up again. Across to Los Angeles where I camped with some relations, and with a refound inspiration wrote incessantly for a few weeks. Then to San Diego where I hooked up with an old buddy Steve Gardner (a loner who kept the flame flying for all things punk when it actually WAS dead). We formed the CHAINSAW MEN and recorded ELECTRIC JUJU cd. That album got some great reviews but Goo Goo Dolls were just becoming the biggest thing in “rock” so who cared about our little DIY outfit anyway.
Then, and I can’t remember exactly how it happened but I ended up in Berlin with a ton of new songs, my old buddy Stephan Grujic (ex MOTTEK) on the controls and sharing the same studio as SONNY VINCENT. He had the day shift and me the night. We’d meet in passing, we shared a few stories and he showed me a thing or 2 and that bloomed into a great friendship. He was a great inspiration.
And THAT was when it all started pouring outta me… the BADASS ROADSHOW session flew into full swing, 20 days and close to 30 songs… recorded and mostly mixed.
When I finally got to São Paulo, Brazil I found all the tapes/photos for the disc hadn’t arrived… everything went AWOL in the postal system!! So I had to spend weeks locating copies of everything from ex-band members, ex-girlfriends, ex-record labels, ex-managers, and so on. It wasn’t easy… I had to swallow a lotta pride to get some of those tapes…and I still got the stomach ache. But what I found in those coupla weeks (turned months) in Sampa was a raging underground scene. It don’t get more urban than São Paulo… São Paulo is hard, it’s all bricks and concrete. 40 degrees heat with the sweat just dripping off the sidewalk….you trip there boy and you don’t get back up too easy. I soon fell into the Hangar 110 and El Rocha scene. Along the way I met the FORGOTTEN BOYS… one thing led to another and next thing is we are recording a long player called BASTA. It would become the defining moment in my sound, outlook and attitude. The benchmark I would always look back on…. Then I hung out on the beaches till my skin turned to leather.
So I head back to Berlin to mix BASTA, and then it all becomes a kind of blur….back and forth.. Berlin, Sao Paulo, Rio, Sydney.. recording, mixing, playing and jamming with all types you can imagine. I tour around Brazil with Marky Ramone, Exploited, Dead Kennedys and plenty of others. Along the way I find myself living in Porto Alegre (in the south of Brazil) being looked after by POA’s premier punk band TEQUILA BABY. They show me the ropes and shop me around! We tour around the state like a fire outta control. Every stage battered and bruised by the end. At that time I met the “human rock” JOEY GUZMAN and we form S.C.H.K. (SIMON CHAINSAW & THE HIPPY KILLERS), Joey would become my right hand man for the next few years as we sailed thru the turbulent waters of band member and management troubles, rip offs and shitty conditions. But we kept at it hard and built a good rep and even got rotation on MTV Brazil. We recorded the disc TOLD ME A LIE and mixed it with Stephan back in Johnny Rio’s studio in Berlin. I shot off to France to Lucas Trouble’s ‘KAISER STUDIOS’ a couple of times to record for the Pretty Princesses disc and my DOWN TO THE WIRE album…. And there was even a showcase or 2 at POPKOMM in Berlin thanks to Mutti! ... and no, I never got back to Japan... I guess they did just fine up there without me.
And that’s how it was for a few years... Shows, rock, travelling, recording, mixing, tours,... and it was all going fine until offers for shows started rolling in from Europe and other Latin American countries. But bigger investment was needed… time, money and sweat. I could carry the can for a while but sooner or later everyone was gonna have to lug their own asses! Then while SCHK was recording BE YOUR DRUG it was obvious that that extra just wasn’t possible… and SCHK imploded. I looked around for new guys but the vibe just weren’t there… once again it was just me, so I shut up shop.
I took a few months off, surveyed the scene and then with the help of Johnny Rio’s new studio in Rio de Janeiro, swung into action… I finished off FUCK THE NEIGHBOURS, BUZZ CUTS, GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD (Stephan mixed that one in Berlin too) and recorded my latest disc ALPHA NEGRA. Seemed I was on a roll, but not without its toll... Once again I was burned out by the unforgiving beast of RAWK. I took a couple of years off from the scene and worked a normal job… this was all I needed to realize I had to get back to rock! 9-5 is for punks…and I don’t mean the 70’s style. I got all the unreleased albums recorded in Johnny Rio’s Studios and worked on the JOHNNY RIO’S SONIC RANCHO SESSIONS 4 CD BOX SET! …an amazing collection mainly due to all the hard work by engineer STEPHAN GRUJIC (Johnny Rio gets the credit but he mostly just pointed his fingers and played some hot licks).
And when the dust settled on that 10 years 1999 – 2009 I found myself with 10 discs in the can and over 150 songs recorded, not to mention a whole gang of demos, acoustic stuff and unfinished multitracks… …. And that pretty much brings us up to date.
So the future? Well it’s just gonna be more of the same. TRUE, HONEST RAWK’N’ROLL. Where there’s a stage I’ll try and be on it, where there’s a Rock fan I’ll try to serve him, when I’m stopped at a red light I’ll have my windows down blasting out the RAWK. And in this ever shrinking world of music technology, MP3’s, downloads, uploads, hip hop, electronica, MyFace, SpaceBook, Twithead and all, I’ll be here just like business as usual, Gibson plugged into a Marshall, making the rock for those who still give a damn!
I already said it all anyway…..
“I don’t need the classic songs to give me a summer all year long,
I don’t need the latest hits that’s made for a 12 year old,
Just give me a rhythm with soul or don’t ya give me nothing at all
or you’ll see my life going outta control”.
(Never Listen to the Radio)
PLAY LOUD, GO DEAF FASTER
SIMON CHAINSAW NEW YEARS EVE 2009-10