Thursday, May 22, 2014

Square Zeros #20: Seth Applebaum and Greg Hanson (The Mad Doctors, The Fucktons, Long Kill, King Pizza, Ghostload, Coyote Gospel, Southern Fried Funk, Zitronenmelisse)

Seth and Greg killing it at Human Head Records. 
It's a balmy night in April and the power chords are blaring out the front door of Human Head Records in Bushwick. Inside, the shop is packed with people and it feels more like the dead of summer. Long strands of toilet paper are everywhere — draped over the shelves, tangled around limbs, balled up on the floor, and hanging like tentacles from the ceiling fan. There's a box of latex gloves floating around and people are blowing them up and batting them around the room like beach balls. The hardwood is slick with cheap beer. The band is a power trio playing fast, scuzzy, loud-as-hell garage punk with a voodoo tinge. The singer's howling like Gerry Roslie. The bassist keeps getting knocked out of tune by the shakers in the front row. The drummer is nearly naked.

Welcome to a Mad Doctors show.

Seth Applebaum is the band's guitarist and vocalist. Greg Hanson is their sweating, flailing, shirtless drummer. Josh Park pounds the four-string (although we couldn't get him in for this segment — next time).

Seth and Greg are two of Brooklyn's unsung heroes of rock n roll. They live together in Bed-Stuy, where Greg runs the King Pizza Records label, working with a cast of high-energy garage, psych, surf, and stoner outfits. Seth operates a lo-fi, tape-only recording studio called Ghostload Sound out of their apartment, which is still far enough off the beaten path for them to host their raucous breed of bands without complaints from the neighbors. 

The guys have been busy. The two of them are just launching new drum and guitar project called the Fucktons, which is kinda like The Mad Doctors on suburban-grade crank. King Pizza just released a 16-song compilation featuring Greasy Hearts, The Mystery Lights, Sun Voyager, and a bunch of other great bands. The Mad Doctors are waiting on test presses for their first full-length LP. Greg is booking at Don Pedro. Ghostload is recording some gnarly locals. 

On top of that, they've got some killer shows on the horizon. The Fucktons are making their first stage appearance ever TONIGHT, May 22, at Don Pedro with Greasy Hearts and ¡Vamanos!, another King Pizza group. In June, King Pizza is putting on an incredible three-day show series featuring more than 20 bands. It's called Pizza Fest and it's taking place the weekend of June 20-21 at Don Pedro and the Mystery Spaghetti Hut (a private address you'll have to hit up King Pizza to confirm). Three-day passes are a dirt cheap $13. Seriously, you won't want to miss this.

Seth and Greg have been making music for a long time. Greg's early work unfortunately isn't documented well enough to play here, but Seth has a cool and unusual recording history he was able to share with Square Zeros.

Seth, now a beast on the six-string, played rhythm guitar in high school in a band called Coyote Gospel. They've got a Detroit proto-punk sound, although Seth says Guns N' Roses was a big influence (we hear more Ron Asheton than Slash). The song's called "Pill." Those cymbals? High hats without clutches affixed to sheet music stands with balled up tape. In the attic. With stolen cigarettes. Splitting warm stolen beers. Yes.

The second track he brought us is a number from a group that played at the same time as Coyote Gospel. It's surprisingly more polished. A trained keys player, Seth rocked a real Hammond B3 in "Blow My Blues Away," a relatively successful southern blues rock project that took the stage at New Jersey's Starland Ballroom on occasion and opened for Derek Trucks and Mountain.

Seth's third track skews in a totally different direction. For his senior project in high school, Seth assembled an afrobeat band and scored a handful of songs, complete with horns, congas, claves and all. The result is a genuinely accomplished and remarkably true to form interpretation of the Fela Kuti, Mighty Imperials, and other afrobeat songs that had bitten him at the time. The band is called Zitronenmelisse, a word Seth borrowed from a Ricola wrapper that roughly translated means "lemon bomb."

Thanks to Seth and Greg for coming on the show! Now, GET YOUR ASSES TO THE FUCKTONS SHOW TONIGHT!


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