Through the Bronx Council on the Arts, I was offered an interview by WBLS host Bob Lee on Bronxnet’s “OPEN." Conversations ranged from discussing the meaning of my name, breaking down "Master Cleanse,” history on The Bronx & early Hip Hop, youth & activism, and much more!
If you’re braving the lines for Record Store Day this year, keep an eye out for this 7", which features Nels and drummer Bob Lee. The A side, a cover of Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl,” was recorded in New York in 1998, and the B side was recorded in Irvine, CA, in 1999.
Record Store Day is April 20 this year. The full list of special and RSD first releases is here.
For anybody out there who needed further proof of how ridiculously awesome Mike Watt is, here he is playing a wild, frenetic cover of Bikini Kill’s classic, “Rebel Girl,” with Nels Cline (Wilco, Geraldine Fibers) and Bob Lee (Claw Hammer, Backbiter). The trio, The Black Gang, was formed to help back Watt while he promoted his second album in the late 90’s and in their brief existence, they garnered a great deal of acclaim for their stunning live abilities. The band’s strength live is well exhibited on the above tune, and B-side of this Record Store Day 7", a cover of Humble Pie’s “30 Days In The Hole." In true Black Gang form the songs come through loud and hard with all of the intensity that their original authors intended. These recordings feature some tremendously top level playing from these guys and stand as a great testament to what they were able to create together in the moment. If you don’t already own the two Black Gang 7"s that exist, I highly recommend making it your business to track'em down. This stuff is too good to not have in your collection.
More information on Mike Watt and his current endeavors can be found over at his Hoot Page. Copies of the above 7” can be purchased over at ORG Music.
This is- as far as I know- the lone release by the touring band comprised of Mike Watt (bass, vocals), Bob Lee (drums), and Nels Cline (guitar). This particular lineup only did the final tour in support of Watt’s punk rock opera Contemplating the Engine Room, as guitar duties had previously been filled by Joe Baiza (Saccharine Trust, Universal Congress Of) and Stephen Hodges (Tom Waits) on drums. (Hodges left after the first tour, replaced by Bob Lee of Clawhammer, Backbiter.)
This is probably not a very rare find on the internet but it’s an extremely important record for me. I was playing a little guitar by the time these tours were going on but only considered myself a bass player- and a frustrated one at that. Seeing Nels Cline transformed me and caused me to change my priorities. And maybe that’s not a good thing….but it’s where I went and never looked back.
This is a song written by Cline, released on piss-bottle yellow vinyl on the Kill Rock Stars label. The b-side was Nels covering Captain Beefheart’s A Carrot Is as Close as a Rabbit Gets to a Diamond, plus a “tourspiel” by everybody involved in the “Puttin’ the Opera to Bed” tour.
As if you needed further proof that Mike Watt is the mystical sage of punk rock, here he is with The Black Gang with “This Is A Prayer”, the A-side to a seven inch of the same name. The Black Gang was made up of Watt, Nels Cline (currently of Wilco), and Bob Lee and although they’ve been known to make appearances around LA and tour sporadically, this is their only official release. If you ever stumble across this record in a seven inch bin as I did, I highly recommend snagging it. Watt, Cline, and Lee create a pretty wild fusion of rock and roll and jazz with this one that definitely warrants listening to.