Pussy Galore – Sounds: Six Ways To Skin a Cat (PRESS, UK)

26 November 1988 Sounds
VIEW:
NOTES:
Pussy Galore article/interview from Sounds magazine by John Robb / Photo by Greg Freeman.

The article refers to “this band called Sub Pop” it must be a typing / transcription error from the time as this is a reference to Tad.

ARTICLE TEXT:
“Six Ways to Skin A Cat

Pussy Galore are back and the noise freaks are out in force to greet them. John Robb grills head Pussy Jon Spencer about their new album ‘Sugarshit Sharp’ and their novel approach to the cover version. Greg Freeman shines a light.

Currently scouring this seedy land are Pussy Galore – one of the greatest garbage-kicking, one-hoofed rock ‘n’ roll bands on the planet.

Pussy Galore are one of the few genuinely twisted brawls of guitar noise, blasting their amps at full volume. Not since the Asheton brothers split Iggy’s original Stooges and went back to reform school to stroke off to their collection of Nazi regalia (sic) have a band been so primed to kill.

Yet, to the noise freak, Pussy Galore are top exponents of teen sleaze beat, not musical lepers.

The band are now in their third year of grunging out. In 1985 they burst out of the more conservative environs of Washington DC to relocate in New York City, and their music perfectly mirrors the Big Apple’s pulse of dirt, smog and sleaze.

Their UK tour, earlier this year, had the freaks out in shambolic force, sleeping bags at the ready.

And out this month, to consolidate on their high velocity impact, is a six-track mini-album, ‘Sugarshit Sharp’.

Their fascination with cover versions, which first reared its ugly, pointed head last year with their full length cover of the Stone’s ‘Exile On Main St’ double, continues. Crawling and growling across the first side is a novel interpretation of Einsturzende Neubaten’s ‘Yu-Gung’.

“I like Yu-Gung’ a lot,” says frontman Jon Spencer. “I don’t really look upon this as a cover version, as we wrote in most of the track ourselves. All the melody and guitars are ours.

“The original is a really sparse dance track, a watershed of sorts for Neubaten, as they were going for a big dance mix. We’ve just turned the whole thing into a Detroit guitar rave-up by throwing in a lot of really stupid stuff.”

The man is a blast, his adopted New York drawl wrestling carefully with answers before spitting out a bruising salvo of words.

A dictatorial spirit in the band, Spencer is a man with a definite vision and Pussy Galore mush out on this record in better form than ever before.

Beefed up from the back by drummer Bob Bert’s assembly line clank, the experienced ex-Sonic Youth sticksman applies the cane of discipline to the unruly guitar kids out front.

This is very much a six-string outfit – there’s no bass to clog up the sound. And now four guitars entwine violently, as former guitar player Neil Haggerty, back from fronting his own outfit, has joined them for this tour.

“We’ve got Neil back into the band after an 18-month absence. Neil plays guitar very differently from Kurt – Kurt has a real sharp-edged, almost heavy metal sound, whereas Neil has a lot more spacey, noodling technique. The contrast sounds great.”

His splintered, narky guitar acrobatics should do justice to the already malevolent carnage of the Pussy sound. The record boasts a clarity that was missing in the crowded jumble of their last vinyl outing, ‘Right Now!’.

“The record is really a showcase for Kurt’s guitar. It exemplifies his contribution ro the band. His style is a lot heavier and harder. We got ‘Sugarshit’ produced by Wharton Tiers, who has done a lot of work with Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth and Phantom Tollbooth.

“Steve Albini, who produced the last album, only produced one track this time, although he engineered all the stuff here.”

Pussy Galore recently returned from a triumphant outing to Japan, a minor miracle of an achievement for the avowed noise terrorists. Getting your boney rock ass into Japan is a tricky business and Pussy Galore are the first of the current US loft noise brigade to sling their guitars around in the land of the rising yen.

“Playing Japan was kinda strange, the place is some sort of rock joke. Although we felt privileged to be there, it still seemed strange. The promoter was the editor of this fanzine, Augebilk, which we’ve recorded a track for. We gave him our cover of Devo’s ‘Penetration Of The Centrefold’.”

This Devo cover is possibly the best of Pussy Galore’s late ’88 sound, featuring a powerful, well-defined riff.

“In Japan we played about three shows, two of which were in Tokyo. the audience went absolutely nuts. I didn’t experience any culture shock, but the whole idea of playing in Japan was, like I said, fairly ludicrous.

“When we came back we did some dates on the West coast with this band called Sub Pop, who were really neat. Their singer, Tad, is a 300 pound butcher from a place called Bowsie. The band were sorta cross between Killdozer and Black Sabbath – excellent.”

Apart from the hypnotic Neubaten cover, the best two tracks on ‘Sugarshit Sharp’ are ‘Brick’ and ‘Renegade’. It’s here that Pussy Galore’s beat really takes off with niggly riffs that chew their way into your subconscious. Spencer’s primal, guttural yelp rests easy with his Jumpin’ Jack Jagger overtones.

This album is the first release in their history on which the band have not littered their titles with filthy language (previous classics include ‘Pretty F*** Look’ and ‘C*** Tease’).

Just what are you singing about, Jon? “The words aren’t that important, but I tried harder with the lyrics this time. The words are no great deal, they’re just part of the whole. On this album they are mainly about band stuff. It was a really difficult period for us, getting this record together. Before, things were a lot easier. After we got back from Europe things were more uptight within the band and the words kinda reflect this. Anyhow, who’s interested in all that shit?”.

yes indeed – who cares? While we’re all running scared from a country that has just voted in a schmuck-filled, pantie-hosed toady, plenty of America’s own residents are forgetting all about it and gradually freaking out to crazier and crazier sounds.

‘Sugarshit’ is sharp and Pussy Galore are really cooking. Time to get the sleeping bags out again and follow that tour.”

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