John Andrew Fredrick has spent the last three decades as the sole constant in one of music’s most perfect and unheralded rock outfits, the black watch. Using the Beatles as a tracing template, Fredrick has applied a kitchen-sink approach to the album at hand since his 1988 debut, St. Valentine, the opening volley in a catalog that would ultimately encompass 15 albums and five EPs, all of which inspired varying levels of critical halleleujahs and a deafening chorus of crickets at the nation’s cash registers. Fredrick will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week. Read our band new feature with him.
Here they are, the bands I love to hate. I’m a hater: Sue me, children. I am in love with the music I am in love with; and a perhaps unfortunate, most-likely-amusing byproduct of that is that I hate as fervently as I love. Goes for books and movies, too. Here you go: Galaxie 500, the BJM, the Decemberists, Sun Kil Moon’s Benji (the other, early stuff, as with the Red House Painters, is beautiful, but he just went off to solipsism land with this one—unlistenable!), Father John Misty, Frank Ocean or any other mainstream “artist” that people tout as “cutting edge,” Mumford And Sons (wait—how can they be cool? they’re not. I’m drunk or something), the Doors, Big Star (gimme Badfinger any day!), Medicine (since they reformed, that is—give Brad Laner’s wonderful solo albums a listen instead!). It’s my prerogative, I reckon, to ventilate unpopular views, just as it’s yours, dear readers, to repudiate them, if you wish. Go to, then. Go to. I just kinda miss the times (uh, that would be the ’80s—cue the song by Killing Joke) when slagging someone off as a-OK, as opposed to the now, when everyone’s nice and therefore deeply repressed and ready to explode/implode. My detestation of The Brian Jonestown Massacre cometh from longtimey ago when the frontedman (not sic, by the by—as in “it’s all a front”) sidled up to me at a party in 1996 and, having heard I was acquainted with a guy, via my dear friend The Jazz Butcher, who had been in a seminal, seminal guitar band of the very-fuzzed-out-variety, said: “You know, so-and-so from the So-and-So’s offered to blow me.” That did it. That and the fact that they (the BJM) write songs that scream “I-never-went-to-university-so-I-think-I-am-the-smartest-person-in-any-given-room.” In fact, I have started a Foundation (www.SendAntonNewcombeToCollege.com) where you can contribute money to lessen a pop star’s ego a touch and put him in touch with the fact that he needs to a) be quiet for 20 minutes; b) get off social media for 30; and c) read a book. Just one book. Please, Anton. Read one of mine, in fact. There’s a character in The King Of Good Intentions II that you might, in a very narcissistic way, really, really like! He’s a PA on a movie set in the latter half of the novel; and you’ll very much think he’s super groovy.
Oh, yeah: Ty Seagull or however you spell it, “Kurt Vile” or something—they’re parodic as well. Worthless bands. Worthless as Oasis. I love that after having delivered all these encomiums to George Harrison, George Harrison remarked that Oasis were rubbish. Oh for the days when someone like Ian McCulloch said of Gene Loves Jezebel and why they were on the tour: “Us and New Order wanted to do some gigs together and we thought we’d take some hairdressers along.” Brilliant.
I don’t think bands should reunite. Perhaps I’m wrong. I’m sure I am, in fact. Whatever. Never mind. I did get an invite to see MBV, my favorite band save the Beatles, at the comeback gig they did at the Santa Monica Civic. I saw them play to 11 people at the Club Lingerie in Hollywood in 1988. I was writing for a bi-weekly rag that, foolishly, was trying to compete with the mighty Weekly, the LA Weekly, mind you. Someone’d sent me a cassette of Isn’t Anything and, in the obsessive-compulsive way that all of us songwriterly types conduct our existences, the thing stayed in my player by my bedside for months and months. But I don’t think I’d walk across the street—do you get me?—nowadays to see them. It’s not cantankerous nostalgia, nor incipient tinnitus, really. It’s just a sort of fierce anti-sentimentality. I suppose it’s OK for the kids like my kid who love Slowdive and Ride and Lush and Dinosaur Jr. and never got to see them. But in a way, they’re still not getting to see them—know what I mean? It can’t possibly be the same. That’s why there’s all this sort of ersatz bravado about the tours and “We’re really excited to do this” on account of that’s nerves talking; and moreover, cashing in, as it were, is so so not de riguer for indie-rock purists. No one wants to be accused of that—though doubtless so many of those bads didn’t make two pennies and have had to go back to reality after the heyday of their careers and all. The one exception, for me, is Swervedriver. For heaven’s sake, I Wasn’t Born To Lose You is masterly. I love that record. Every song good–like a Beatles album… but I’m not going to see them if they come to the Echoplex! Hahaha. Even if we support them, as we did a few years ago. I’ll be in the pub next door, not talking about music. I can’t stand music talk and gossip and palaver and chitchat about who just added a third keyboard player! Keyboard players! And their waistcoats (they have to have a waistcoat) and haircuts! Help! Oh, I forgot Warpaint! Who sound like they’ve never even heard—let alone written—a melody. Nice women, sure can play, but couldn’t write their way out of a (used) coffee filter. I love to hate Warpaint. Just an awful band. I find them fascinating, though. I’m at every L.A. show, I swear, swooning with misery. P.S. Never seen them. Never will. Never mind. It’s so funny how nobody in interviews asks you who your influences aren’t. Nobody wants to … throw shade, is that the vogue term? … on anyone. Why not?! It’s such fun.