klitz

My 51st show and my fact-checking is still riddled with errors, my show’s full of modulation mix-ups and my on-mic “persona” is about as pleasing to the ear as a friggin’ sack of cats. At least the music totally smokes. Notwithstanding my error on Brian Eno’s first album - it’s called “Here Come The Warm Jets”, no der! - and the fact that some songs are mixed too low and some voices too high (that’s why Thomas Edison invented the volume knob for you), I’m excited to share with you some of the finest in raw, sub-underground rock and roll music from the past five decades.

There’s new archival stuff from The Klitz (turn it up) and The Bangs nee The Bangles; there’s new 2014 songs from Pampers, White Fence, Men Oh Pause, Coneheads, Germ House and Parkay Quarts; and a bunch of library stuff from many corners of our world: The Birthday Party, Bill Direen & The Bilders, Razar, The Coolies, Long Blondes, Modern Lovers and so on and so forth. Take a look at the playlist and I think you’ll wanna give it a go.

Download Dynamite Hemorrhage Radio #51.
Stream or download Dynamite Hemorrhage Radio #51 on Soundcloud here.
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Playlist:

THE KLITZ - Hard Up
BILL DIREEN & THE BILDERS - Alien
THE COOLIES - Salute
CHAPTER 24 - You Said
2x4s - Another Day
LONG BLONDES - Separated By Motorways
PARKAY QUARTS - Psycho Structures
WHITE FENCE - Anger! Who Keeps You Under
GERM HOUSE - A Matter of Call
THE BANGS - Outside Chance
THE PRETTY THINGS - Midnight To Six Man
MODERN LOVERS - Old World 
MEN OH PAUSE - Sapphire and Steel
THE FALL - Middle Mass
BRIAN ENO - Blank Frank
THE BIRTHDAY PARTY - Jennifer’s Veil
THE POP GROUP - 3:38
THE EXPRESSIONS - Return To Innocence
THE CONEHEADS - 1982
RED CROSS - Tatum O'Tot and the Fried Vegetables
RAZAR - Task Force (Undercover Cops)
PAMPERS - Suicide

Some past shows:
Dynamite Hemorrhage #50    (playlist) 
Dynamite Hemorrhage #49    (playlist) 
Dynamite Hemorrhage #48    (playlist) 
Dynamite Hemorrhage #47    (playlist) 
Dynamite Hemorrhage #46    (playlist) 
Dynamite Hemorrhage #45    (playlist) 
Dynamite Hemorrhage #44    (playlist) 
Dynamite Hemorrhage #43    (playlist) 
Dynamite Hemorrhage #42    (playlist) 
Dynamite Hemorrhage #41    (playlist) 
Dynamite Hemorrhage #40    (playlist)

This is my friend Rob. He is very brave because he likes & comments on every single one of his statuses. & he has friends. they just never like anything of his. and its kind of weird. and funny at the same time. 

OMFG GUYS! HE DID IT AGAIN! LOOK! LOOK!

all these feels.

Gail Elise Clifton (The Klitz) Interview, Part Two

The Klitz in 1978. Photo by Alex Chilton, courtesy of Gail Elise Clifton.

Ryan: When did Amy Gassner join The Klitz?

Elise: Amy joined in June of ‘78, only about three weeks before we recorded at Sounds of Memphis (with Domingo “Sam” Zamudio, AKA Sam The Sham).

Ryan: Had she played bass before?

Elise: No, but she was a guitarist.

Ryan: Did Alex set up the Sounds of Memphis recording session with Sam The Sham?

Elise: Alex had Irvin Salky set that up. Salky happened to be Fury Lewis and Phineas Newborn’s manager. Good old, Irv. We still live on the same street. I see him every now and then. He would be proud  to hear that I’m doing this interview.

Ryan: What do you recall about the Sounds of Memphis session?

Elise: It started at 10AM. Irvin really squeezed us into the studio. He said he got us in solely on the basis of our name. (laughs) Whoever he called at the studio heard the name Klitz and said, “Great name! When can you get them down here?” We rolled out of bed for that session. We had about three hours to record. We did about six songs, including two different takes of “Hook or Crook." 

Ryan: What’s the story with The Klitz and "Hook or Crook”? Was that an Alex Chilton solo song he adapted for you, or was it written specifically for The Klitz?

Elise: Alex rewrote the words to “Hook or Crook” with us in mind. He picked that song for us to record and perform. Alex would choose cover songs for us. He loved our originals, like “Delta Strut”, but he would coach us on songs. On Like Flies on Sherbert, Alex’s version of “Hook or Crook” doesn’t have the lines: “I get by on my looks/I don’t think…I only finally think/And that’s because I’m a rich bitch.” He wrote those lyrics for The Klitz. I could be wrong, but I don’t recall hearing those lines on Like Flies on Sherbert.     

Ryan: Jim Dickinson is such a legendary figure in Memphis music. He helped build a mystique around The Klitz with that incredible Captain Memphis Meets The Klitz TV special. We spoke earlier and you mentioned Jim taking over for Alex as The Klitz’s mentor.

Elise: That’s true. But I’d like to talk about something sort of spooky that happened before Jim got involved with The Klitz in 1979. In late December 1978, we had a session at BR Toad. Alex was producing. That’s where we cut “Wild Thing ” “Land of 1,000 Dances,” “As Tears Go By,” and “Klitz Anthem"—the latter written by Mary Lindsay Dickinson. Jim knew we were being produced by Alex and said to us, "I have a song called 'Klitz Anthem’ my wife has written for you.” Jim was not on board producing at this time. I don’t recall the exact date of the session; maybe Barry Shankman, who engineered, can remember. But it was the same week Chris Bell died. Looking back on it, Chris’ death was shocking. We were so wrapped up in being in The Klitz and working with Alex Chilton, I don’t think Chris’ death even registered with us. I wish I had said something to Alex about it: “I’m really sorry your friend Chris died.” I regret not doing that.

            Having said that—1979 rolls along and Jim Dickinson gets us in Rolling Stone magazine. We were in there twice. I believe Alex had set Jim up as our producer. Alex had moved on to play with Tav in The Panther Burns. We played a big show around that time: The Klitz, The Panther Burns, Mudboy, Teenie Hodges and Hi Rhythm…

Ryan: That’s an amazing lineup.   

Elise: That show was a turning point for The Klitz.

Ryan: Jim Dickinson is a really interesting figure. He’d previously played on records with some of Atlantic’s biggest stars like Aretha Franklin, and yet he fully embraced punk rock and championed The Klitz. What was working with Dickinson like?

Elise: Jim was affected by punk rock too. In Captain Memphis Meets The Klitz he says, “Rock 'n’ roll is fully two generations oldnow. And if your mama likes it, it ain’t rock 'n’ roll.” I think he really liked The Sex Pistols. He mentions them in Captain Memphis Meets The Klitz.

Ryan: Dickinson could’ve kept working with big artists—sticking solely with better paying work. Yet he chose to work with The Klitz.   

Elise: Jim was just true to his heart. It was great working with him. He wanted us to get as high as possible! (laughs) Jim always said, “If you can hang onto the session till three in the morning, something magical will happen. It always does.” I believe that’s true. On one session, we were spiked with acid. Lesa was playing “Twist and Shout” on guitar and I was singing the lyrics to a Scruffs original called “Teenage Girls” over it. Jim loved it. He thought it was great! We were so confused. Once that happy accident happened, we ended up doing a live medley of the two songs. They use the same chords.    

Ryan: The Klitz were filmed at The Orpheum for Captain Memphis Meets The Klitz. Is the footage from the TV show the same concert Andy Schwartz caught and reviewed for The New York Rocker (September 1979 issue)?

Elise: That footage was shot at The Orpheum. Andy came down to Memphis for that New York Rocker piece.

Ryan: Dickinson must have set The Orpheum show up.

Elise: He did. We’d actually played a show at the Orpheum once before. That’s where a lot of the Captain Memphis Meets The Klitz footage came from. We played the Orpheum’s lobby that first night. When we opened up for The Cramps—the show Andy saw and reviewed in the New York Rocker—that was the second time we played The Orpheum. On that night we played the main stage. I actually still have an article from The Commercial Appeal (August 2, 1979) that reviewed The Orpheum show with The Cramps. They quote Cordell Jackson in it. I’ll read you her part: “Three rows up, however, a fifty-six-year-old woman sitting alone seemed to know more about punkabilly than most people in the crowd. She says punkabilly is the highest, purest form of rock music to come along since the '50s. 'I think they’re in the groove,’ Cordell Jackson said. 'This is what you call 'letting it all hang out.’ They’ve taken free liberties with music.’”

Ryan: That’s Cordell talking about The Klitz?

Elise: Right. 

Ryan: Andy Schwartz gave the Klitz and The Panther Burns a harsh review in the New York Rocker. Of course, there’s also that infamous Panther Burns appearance in '79 on Marge Thrasher’s TV show where she absolutely loses it. It’s surprising that Andy Schwartz, who was very hip—New York Rocker was a great magazine—came down harshly on the Memphis punk scene.  

Elise: They just didn’t get it. 

Ryan: And yet here’s Cordell Jackson getting it. I think time has proven her correct.

Elise: I think so too.

Ryan: The New York Rocker article corresponded with The Cramps recording Songs The Lord Taught Us in Memphis, right?

Elise: It did. The Cramps recorded in Memphis twice. The first time they came through (for Gravest Hits) I was still living in East Memphis. The second time they visited, to record Songs The Lord Taught Us, was what brought Andy down to Memphis for The New York Rocker article. I put Bryan Gregory up and I got a place for Lux one night. I don’t know much about those Cramps sessions. They were off working with Alex. I was totally involved with The Klitz, recording with whomever was available, having fun.

Ryan: The Klitz went to New York not long after The Orpheum show. I heard Miles Copeland (or I.R.S. Records) arranged it.     

Elise: Right. Apparently he was in town for The Orpheum show. A lot of people were in town. The same week as The Orpheum show, we played The Well and Ric Ocasek was there. Miles was there too and he took us out to breakfast after the show. We went to the Arcade in Downtown. We had our usual beer with scrambled eggs. It was 3AM and they were serving breakfast. I’m pretty sure The Cramps were there too. Miles was at our booth; Lesa jumped up on the table with her combat boots and stared at him, eye-to-eye. Miles could tell that we were the real thing. The Klitz arrived in New York on August 20, 1979. Miles had us open up for The Cramps at Irving Plaza. I remember there was a matinee and an evening show. Miles bought me and Lesa airplane tickets. Amy and Marcia didn’t want to fly. They rode up to New York with Tav and Bernard Patrick. It was great. Miles paid for us to stay at the Iroquois Hotel which is where James Dean stayed at. I loved every moment of being in New York.

Ryan: That trip to New York must have been a highpoint for The Klitz.

Elise: It was. The Scruffs were there too. They were staying in New York and put me and Lesa up for three more weeks because we wanted to hang out. We ended up getting another show at CBGBs. Zeph Paulson from The Scruffs played drums for us. That was the show Jon Tiven always talks about. He was there. We stuck around New York and got a little buzz going.

Ryan: Did I.R.S. or Barbarian Records ever mention releasing anything by The Klitz? I know Barbarian did go on to release a limited-run Lesa Aldridge 7" EP soon after The Klitz broke up.

Elise: The Lesa Aldridge EP was recorded before The Klitz formed. Lesa actually recorded that material around the time of Sister Lovers (AKA, Big Star’s Third). I didn’t meet Jim Blake (head of Barbarian Records) until '79. I was in the East Memphis crowd in '76 and '77. I hung out with The Scruffs and Tommy Hoehn—the East Memphis power-pop people. The Midtown scene, with all of its accompanying debauchery, was something I embraced when I moved to Midtown and joined The Klitz.

Ryan: It seemed that people recorded tons of material, usually under a controlled substance, in Memphis in the late '70s, with no real intention of getting it released.

Elise: People would record anything at that time in Memphis. And the odds of that material coming out were next to zero. I have to thank Marcia for recording “Delta Strut,” “Macabre Lullaby” and “Cocaine"—those songs we recorded with Alex up in the attic. She realized how cool it was at the time. I was just caught up in the moment, but she knew something special was happening.

Ryan: You spent time in New York in the late '70s, when the original punk scene was still really vibrant. What were some of the differences you noticed between New York’s punk scene and the vibrant, yet underrated, scene in Memphis?

Elise: To me, there was a lot of perfection in those Ramones records. There was always something off-kilter about the recordings we were making in Memphis. I’m not sure if it had to do with a lack of practicing or just a general indifference to perfection that the Memphis bands had. We’d just roll the tape and see what happened. Like you said, we weren’t thinking these recordings would ever be released. An album that meant a lot to the Memphis punk scene was Johnny Burnette and the Rock 'n’ Roll Trio’s Self-titled album. Alex, Tav and I loved that record. We thought Johnny Burnette and the Rock 'n’ Roll Trio were the original punks. When we started The Klitz, we used to all listen to that record over and over and over again. When you listen to the live tracks at The Well, our punkabilly roots come out. The Rock 'n’ Roll trio couldn’t get signed in Memphis. Sam Phillips turned them down and they had to go to New York to get a record deal. One of Tav’s greatest songs is his cover of "Train Kept A-Rollin.’” Paul Burilson (of the Rock 'n’ Roll Trio) was still hanging around Memphis in the '70s and '80s. My ex-husband RJ had him over a few times and they’d mess around with amps. I didn’t know it was the Paul Burilson until RJ told me later. I was so mad! Here I was, doing housewife stuff, and you had Paul Burilson at my house and didn’t tell me.

Ryan: Did The Klitz ever play with Charlie Feathers? 

Elise: I don’t think so. I did go to a lot of shows The Panther Burns did with Charlie though.

Ryan: What happened when you got back from New York?

Elise: When we came back from New York, Lesa and Amy had a falling out. I wasn’t there the night it happened. Some say Amy quit, others say she was fired. We ended up getting a show in New York after Amy left. Lorne Michaels, the producer of Saturday Night Live, threw a party in New York. He flew us up to play his party. We went right back to New York.  

Ryan: SNL had a history with punk rock. John Belushi loved Fear and Black Flag.

Elise: Yeah. It was a party for a movie that Lorne produced called Mondo Video. We played a party after the premiere of the film at a strip club called the Tango Palace. They say Andy Warhol was there. I even heard John Lennon was there. Marcia, being the smart business-like member of the band, actually went to the premiere of Mondo Video. She sat next to Jill Clayburgh at the premiere. Jill was a big actress at the time. So what did Lesa and I do while the premiere was going on? We sat at the hotel bar and slammed about six glasses of Stolichnaya Vodka each, on the rocks. What were we thinking? We made it to seven songs before they pulled the plug on us. I remember tripping and falling over guitar cables. Thinking back on it, who fires their bass player before a show like that? I can’t believe we did that to Amy before this big show. The Mondo Video party happened at the end of '79. After that we had another article in Rolling Stone magazine. They did a show review and said we were the low point of the evening, clearing the room of a quarter of the audience.

Ryan: What did The Klitz do in '80?

Elise: We played a lot of shows at The Well. We did do a couple of shows with a lady named Sarah Fulcher who toured with The Grateful Dead as a singer before she joined us. Sarah was working at the local health food store Marcia worked at. That’s how Sarah joined up. We played a show with Jim (Dickinson), who was going under the name “Captain Memphis,” at Poets with Sarah on bass. We have a tape of it still, although only four songs have survived. We played a few more shows with just the three of us: me, Lesa and Marcia. We played The Downtowner—a great hotel. I think that was our last show. Either there or The Well. And then Lesa left for New Jersey. And that was it for The Klitz. Lesa left in late '80.

Ryan: What did you do after The Klitz?

Elise: After The Klitz, I had a band called Gail And The Joy Boys. Alex played bass! He did two shows with me. I loved it. Jim Duckworth was in the band too. We had started writing songs together. Jim (Duckworth) had just finished reading Lolita. There’s a character called Mr. Joy Boy in the book and Jim (Duckworth) wanted to name the band after him. Tommy Hull was on drums.

Ryan: Jim Duckworth is such a great guitarist. What a lineup.

Elise: Right. Duckworth and I wrote a lot of songs. On the Elise and the Tourists record I released later on, we did a version of “No Fun For Me.” That was a Joy Boys song originally.

Ryan: Gail and the Joy Boys was a short-lived group.

Elise: Yeah. After Duckworth left to join the Panther Burns, we broke up. I really like the songs I wrote from that period, with Duckworth and Tommy Hull. They’re still in my repertoire to this day. That was a great period for me. I also wrote a song called “Cherry Boys” with Jim Dickinson. Jim was kind of brokenhearted at that point. Lesa had left. Alex was gone with The Panther Burns. He came over to my house and we wrote that song. I sat on it for years until Greg Roberson recorded The Klitz album (Glad We’re Girls) that came out in 2007. It was great because Jim got to hear that song before he died. It took almost twenty-five years to finally recorded.

            After the Joy Boys broke up, I had a band called Gail Chanel and the Cosmetics. We played the Antennae Club and lasted about a year. After that, I decided to get a job. During that time I was still writing songs. I had one last band in '86 called Reet, Petite and Gone. We were named after an old jazz poster from Harlem that I liked. I got married in '87 and that was it for playing live for a long time.  

Ryan: You reformed the Klitz with Lesa and released Glad We’re Girls in 2007.

Elise: I did. I also recorded with Roland Janes in '94. So I did dabble back in music between '92 and '94. My ex-husband was producing Cold Blue Steel—a Texas roadhouse, boogie-type band. Jim Blake came to hear Cold Blue Steel one night at Huey’s in Memphis and said to me, “Gail, that’s your band. I want to release a single with you being backed by that band.” So RJ bought us the 24-track tape and we went down to Texas to record with Cold Blue Steel. Jim Blake tends to appear and disappear; the single never came out and I finally released the track later on….I got into art around that time. I went to art school….The Klitz did reform in 2005. The big reunion show wasn’t until 2007. I started going to Nashville to visit with Lesa in '05. Those first few reunion shows—we got a lot of help from Tommy Hoehn. He had real amps; we just had practice amps. He did our sound at the Hi-Tone reunion show in '07. It’s so sad Tommy passed on.

Ryan: The Elise and the Tourist tracks you recorded with Ross Johnson on drums and Roland Janes producing, correct?

Elise: Yes. We did those in 2011. The '94 tracks were released under my name “Elise.” When I went in to record with Roland in 2011, he didn’t remember the session we recorded in '94. Thankfully I still had a copy and got to play it for him before he passed.

Ryan: Recording with Roland Janes is heavy duty. He was a Memphis institution. What was that experience like?

Elise: He was heavy duty. He was Jerry Lee’s original guitar player. He was so sweet. He called me about a month after the session and told me he liked the song “Heart of a Vagabond.” He didn’t have to do that. Roland made you feel really comfortable and relaxed when you recorded. I loved working with him. I was so blessed to record with him, Ross (Johnson) and the rest of the guys in the Tourists.

Ryan: What are you up to now, Elise?

Elise: I want to release a single of some of the tracks I recorded with Adam Hill and Greg Roberson. I’m living the life of a full-time artist and musician right now. I practice my set every day. I’m want to play more shows. I’ve been playing acoustically a lot, commuting back and forth to New York pretty regularly. No one was really available to play. Lesa had moved to Mississippi and Ross is always in a ton of bands. So I started doing acoustic shows. I lucked out on a sweet deal on a '92 American Stratocaster last year and have gone back to electric. I play so much better on an electric.

Ryan: Electrics are much more forgiving.

Elise: They are. They also look better and sound cooler. I like my playing more on it. So I’m going back to electric and looking for a band at the moment. 

A recent photo of Gail Elise Clifton in front of the late Roland Janes’ car. Courtesy of Gail Elise Clifton. 

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I think I forgot to mention that I dabble in skateboarding ;)