Finally made it over to the Nuart to see The Velvet Underground: A Todd Haynes Documentary. It’s even better than you may expect. The segments with Jonathan Richman alone are worth the price of admission. His insights make them human, and his love for this band is infectious.
I first learned of Male Patterns a few years ago when I was assigned their split EP with Scuzz at Razorcake. Had no idea what to expect, and then when I listened to their side of the split I had no idea why they weren’t getting a lot of coverage or rabid fan declaration on the social media platforms. A year or so later I listened to their LP and was even more blown away. They’re definitely worthy of your fandom when it comes to music of the short, fast and loud variety. They crank out abrasive blasts of hardcore punk with a certain heaviness that gives them a sonic edge over many.
They have a split with Executors that has just come out on Shock to the System that you need to check out.
Below is a short interview with Brendan conducted by Matt Average
Who’s who? What other bands were you in in prior to Male Patterns?
I’m Brendan. I yell into the microphone and I was in Neutron Rats. Mike “Moaky” Moak plays guitar and is still playing in Postage and After the Fall. Dan plays drums and was in Boston’s No Sir I Won’t and Libyans while KC who plays Bass used to play in Cancer from Albany.
Who’s idea was it to start the band?
Moaky got together with Dan and started playing around. They recruited Jamie, our original bass player, who later moved to Detroit and now plays in Immaculate Conception. Moaky asked if I wanted to sing and I went to his basement and they played the songs that they had written already and I thought they were great. I knew Moaky and Jamie before from shows in the Albany scene and we had worked together at a screen printing company. I had never met Dan before because he had been living in Boston, but he was in a slew of great bands and he and I connected quickly.
What is the name referencing? Anything in particular?
When I asked if they had a name yet, Moak said, “Male Patterns, ‘cause we’re old dudes.” We were all in our late 20’s when the band started in December 2013 and he thought it was funny. I took the name more about being a certain age in punk and the routines of human beings but I think I’m probably stretching it with all of that. No one was thinking too hard about the name. Unfortunately, when we first started, a couple of people here and there have been offended by the name and misinterpreted it as some kind of macho chauvinist thing and we couldn’t be further away from that. We didn’t get that at all.
Musically, when I listen to you guys I hear bands like Econochrist, and some of the heavier Boston bands of the past. Am I out of my mind thinking this?
Not at all. I’ve never heard us compared to Econochrist but I’ll take that. We definitely take a lot from old school hardcore punk. Negative Approach, some Poison Idea, SSD, but also from bands like Cut the Shit, Born Against, The Zucchini Brothers, and The Chemical Brothers. Especially the last two.
Yeah, I can hear The Zucchini Brothers in your sound. What albums of theirs do you recommend for the uninitiated?
Great question. All of them.
Is there an “Albany sound”?
I think when people think about Albany they think about its past punk and hardcore scene with bands like Monster X and Devoid of Faith. Nowadays Albany has a very diverse scene of music that’s all over the spectrum. Albany has bands that play hardcore punk, rock n roll, power pop and post punk dark wave type stuff. Today’s Albany sound is a great mix bag.
What is “Help Ourselves” about?
Alcohol and drugs are big in the music scene and they’re prevalent in punk too. By no means are we saying that you can’t have some fun but it’s also a serious issue that often gets overlooked because no one wants to stop the party. I’ve been to too many wakes and funerals for friends and I know I’m not alone. Punk is liberating and awesome but it can also be really self destructive. We can’t change anything unless we change ourselves first and too often we’re our own enemies. I go into that more on the new record in the song “Self Abuse”. It’s a song that I think unfortunately too many people will be able to relate to.
Despite everything being shut down for the moment, are you still working on new songs? If so, how?
Our guitarist has written some new riffs, he records them with his phone and sends them to us. We’re hoping at some point we can get in the same room again and play em out and put them together. Since we have no idea when we’ll be able to play shows again because of Covid, we’re mainly just trying to do what we can to get the word out on the new record. We’re just trying to do what we can with what we can control. It’s a weird time.
Can you tell us about the new record? When will it be out? Who released it? How much have you progressed sonically since the LP?
The new record came out August 1st. It’s a split that was put out by Shock to the System Records with our friends Executors from Beachwood, New Jersey. We have three tracks on it, and they have two. I’d say our new songs are a continuation of the LP. Lyrically we continue to cover more social issues than big politics or things like that. Similar style and straight forward structure. I think my vocals might be a little bit rougher on this recording because I have no idea how to control how I sound. I’ll go ahead and say that if you liked the LP you’ll love this split. If you hated the LP you’ll love this split even more.
What’s your favorite movie, and why?
School of Rock with Jack Black. I can watch that movie anytime. The music in it, the message, it’s good for everyone.
If they made of Male Patterns movie, what type of movie would it be, and what would it be about?
The Male Patterns movie would be terrible. No one is reading this right now thinking that our origins would make a good movie. There’s nothing special about how we got together, just how we do the things we do now. No one is a complete mess or falling apart either so that’s not movie material. You know what I mean? I mean, our drummer is his town’s historian. Male Patterns would go great in a movie where we played ourselves in it. Like playing a show then showing up later. Like Cannibal Corpse in Ace Ventura or Billy Idol in The Wedding Singer. We’d be playing somewhere the main character would go and then we’d help the main character get their love or save them from the bad guy somehow. Maybe after the show they go to some diner where we’re eating and right as the bad guy is about to clobber or draw his gun on the main character, our drummer Dan hits him with his snare drum. Why did he bring his snare drum into the diner? That’s for the people at Hollywood to decide but after he’d be like “Check please!” or maybe he’d say “This guy’s paying!” and then the main character could get on and win the day or whatever. It could be an action movie or romantic comedy or drama. We could do whatever.
What are you doing to stay sane in this moment of time?
My wife and I just built a pirate bar in our garage that we’re really proud of, so we’ve been spending a lot of nights in there. It’s a tribute to the golden age of piracy.
First thing you plan to do when we’re able to get back out in the world again?
Set up a release show for this record. Invite people over to my pirate bar for drinks and play more shows. That’s three things. Haha!
Listen to Male Patterns here.
To get their new EP, as well as LP, and more music from Albany (and elsewhere) go here.
Director: William Lustig
Starring: Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Abigail Clayton, Kelly Piper, Tom Savini
Maniac is the gold standard of slashers. I’ll go as far to say that Maniac is better than the original Halloween (Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the original Halloween, it’s a personal long time favorite. In my top three, to be somewhat exact), and easily the first two Friday the 13th movies, or, really, any of the Friday the 13th movies, to be honest. Friday the 13th may have had more imaginative kills, but with Maniac there’s more of a story here, and there’s more of a character as opposed to a faceless killer with minimal backstory. It’s a movie you can watch over the the years and not grow bored with. Characters aren’t essentially marched in front of the camera and killed off. Something else that elevates Maniac above all the others, and what makes it the most disturbing is that this killer could actually exist. He’s not some super villain endowed with insane powers of bouncing back to life from every attempt on his life.
Joe Spinell’s performance is excellent. He’s absolutely believable as the tortured Frank Zito who lives a sad and mundane life vacillating between cold ruthless murderer to an emotionally destroyed soul who spends most of his time in isolation. He’s not someone who stands out. You would pass by him on the street without a second thought. He’s a Norman Bates type, but fully aware of what he’s doing. After some kills we see him reading about it in the morning paper, or watching the news, and you can see hints of shame and remorse in his reactions.
As the story progresses we learn he was physically and emotionally abused by his mother who died while he was still young, which did his head in for good. He sees her in the women he kills, which is confirmed when he murders Rita, as he keeps asking, “Why did you leave me? I was scared. Now we are together again, and I will never let you go. I’m just going to keep you so you won’t go away ever again.”
The kills in this movie are brutal, and Tom Savini’s effects are in top form. A woman sees herself ran through with a sword as she looks into a mirror. One woman is forced to agonize in terror before she’s finally snuffed out, and that one shot gun blast scene still stuns to this very day. Even the most jaded, and most modern of audiences will be visually shushed into silence.
Maniac isn’t the sort of movie one would, could, or should love, but I do. It’s sleazy, violent, and grim as hell, but it lures you into the the filth and it’s hard to resist. Even the soundtrack by Jay Chattaway with it’s downer mood anchors you down solid into the muck. There’s nothing pretty about this film and you should see it. (MA)
Nate Wilson: NW Devon Cahill: DC Matt Average: MA
COMBAT SHOCK (Director’s Cut)
Director: Buddy Giovannazzo
Starring: Ricky Giovannazzo (Franki Dunlan), Veronica Stork (Cathy Dunlan)
Music: Ricky Giovannazzo
Transfer Quality: Very Good
If this were edited down to 45 minutes I could imagine it receiving some polite (albeit uncomfortable) applause from director Buddy Giovannazzo’s classmates at his community college’s video art class final crit, but as a 91 minute feature it’s a truly insufferable slog. I honestly don’t understand the cult following this film has. Sure, the final scene is brutal, but if you make it that far you’re likely to be left rolling your eyes (as I was) after the amateurish drudgery you’ve been subjected to up until that point. It’s as though Giovannazzo was trying to mainstream David Lynch’s Eraserhead by giving it more characters, dialogue, and a backstory and then filming the whole thing in color. Imagine Henry Spencer but as a Vietnam vet. Oh, brother…
The film opens with our lead, Frankie Dunlan (Ricky Giovannazzo) experiencing a
flashback to his time in Vietnam and his vague recollections of a massacre of some kind that he was involved it. Flash to the present as he wakes up in his filthy apartment and his life of squalor with his wife Cathy (Veronica Stork) and their deformed baby (a la Eraserhead), whose incessant wails seem to be produced by the same synthesizer that’s responsible for the hideous soundtrack. This grotesque being is apparently the product of Frankie’s exposure to chemicals in the ‘Nam. So, he’s got no job, no money, and no food… just a filthy apartment in the worst slum of Staten Island. Frankie’s day consists of wandering around the wasteland (sometimes seemingly in real time) looking for a job and occasionally running into gangs, druggies, and prostitutes who are each trying to squeeze him for money he doesn’t have, all while he blathers on to himself about his predicament. These scenes are interspersed with flashbacks to his time in Vietnam as he tries to piece together what happened there that led him to the horror show that is his life.
I’ll quickly make my case as to why this is a shit movie:
Exhibit A: the interminably dragged-out scenes of Frankie wandering through the
wasteland of 1980s NYC that just fall flat. I mean they go on and on and on and on.
Yeah, we get it, it’s a wasteland.
Exhibit B: the multitude of tangents in the storyline that confuse more than they reveal and, in some cases, don’t even jibe with one another. I still don’t get what the whole thing with his father was all about and that goes on for like twenty minutes!
Exhibit C: the excruciating and unimaginative dollar store take on a Tangerine Dream soundtrack. Seriously, it’s as though Giovannazzo purposefully made a score out of the least interesting noises his synth could produce. I’ll give him credit that the music for the closing credits was good, but then again my elation over the film ending may have clouded my judgement.
Exhibit D: Frankie’s painfully incessant superficial and self-indulgent existentialist
yammering. I mean by the 30 minute mark, I had pretty much stopped caring about what happened to Frankie.
Anyway, I had to scratch my head when reading some reviews where the critics engage with this film as though it were a valid examination of the Vietnam experience and the pain and disorientation of coming back after the war. I mean, that’s gotta be a joke, right?!?
The only interesting thing in this movie is the final scene, which, if taken out of the
context of the mind-numbing 75-minutes that precede it, is so good that it would actually make you want to watch the rest. My advice to you is, don’t do it. (DC)
NW: Nate Wilson DC: Devon Cahill HR: Heath Row MA: Matt Average
PINOCCHIO – self-titled 7” EP
I’m turning 50 at the end of this month, and I’m jaded, cynical, and grumpy for the most part, but that’s how life plays out. Despite all that, every now and then I hear or see something that makes me believe that things aren’t all that shitty. Things like this Pinocchio EP. Sure, the cover is pretty bland, and easy to overlook, but get past that and you will be far more than pleasantly surprised. When I listen to this record it makes me think we’re on the cusp of some great era in punk. Maybe we’re in the midst of it already, I don’t know. What I do know for sure is this is one of the fucking best punk records I’ve heard in years, possibly the past couple decades (not like there’s any real stiff competition, but let’s not split hairs in my excitement). Listening to this EP gives me the same rejuvenating rush I felt when I latched on to punk in 1981. A new world rife with possibility, and everything sounded fresh and great. It makes me want to be involved, instead of standing at the back or on the sidelines. I listen to this and wonder what their live shows are like, and I would love to had been there when they were writing and recording these songs. Every song on here is inspired. Pinocchio inhabit a sound somewhere between punk and post-punk, but they’re not nailing their feet to the floor to stay in one place. It’s in doing so that gives them life and keeps them from being a reenactment band. The woman who sings has a great voice, and never delves into histrionics. Her focus aids in the sonic impact with the rest of the band. Imagine the Slits and the Delta 5 without the reggae influence crossed with early American hardcore. “My Time Vol.1” reminds me of the Talking Heads with its walking beat, minimal instrumentation and lyrics. They wrap it up in the second volume on the second side by cranking up the energy before reverting back and turning tables with the close “Your Time.”
The “Light Speed” trilogy brings the faster tempos into the fold and tilt towards mania at times. “Behind You”, which sits in between volumes two and three, floors every single time. The tempo is at a boil, a catchy as hell beat, and the vocals are in fine form. “Trick Plane” is godhead with the tribal percussion, confrontational attitude, and it’s brevity leaving you wanting more. (MA)
Justin Dratson: JD Nate Wilson: NW Matt Average: MA