I feel as if some sort of innocence was lost when cable switched over to a digital format. Television is just too damn sterile and predictable these days. Gone are the days of local television personalities and odd shows at even odder hours. I feel bad for anyone who missed out on those wonderful years. Technology is developing at a rapid pace but not so long ago we saw some rather shoddy things on late night television. Mark Norton is almost like a relic of the past. His commercials started airing around 2003 and at first I thought maybe someone laced my pot with PCP because this stuff is almost unbelievable. All of my widest fantasies were coming to fruition during the span of his thirty second commercials. Mark Norton comes from a long line of unintentional weirdos from Ohio. I don’t know if his commercials still air but in case you were never privileged enough to catch the madness, here is a collection of some of his finer moments.
After posting about Kill The Hippies, the Kent inspiration has been flowing. I have a love/hate relationship with that place but will always treasure my fond memories of yesteryear. Getting carried out of the Zephyr while on crutches for calling the door guy a “fat piece of shit, cocksucker, failure at life” after he called my ID fake, knowing that it wasn’t. Putting on a show hosted by Toby Radloff of American Splendor and Killer Nerd fame. Living in the “Yellow House” and hosting house shows where anything could and did happen. Hell, I even went to class sometimes. Like many little hidden pockets of America, Kent has always been home to some great and interesting musicians. Everyone knows Devo, but here are some people you may not have heard before that have origins in Kent. Continue reading KENT, OHIO HAD SOME MUSICIANS YOU HAVE PROBABLY NEVER HEARD BUT SHOULD→
May 4th, 1970 is a day that will forever dwell in the depths of our collective American psyche. Tragedy struck the nation as innocent blood was shed on the grounds of Kent State University. During a Vietnam War protest, four students ended up callously murdered, while nine other young adults were injured by the trigger of Ohio National Guardsmen. Kids killing kids for no apparent reason as lives were forever altered. It was not a pretty day for the sleepy college town of Kent, Ohio. Public opinion was swaying as the tides turned in an already unpopular war. A dark shadow was cast over the Presidency of Richard Milhous Nixon. Continue reading KILL THE HIPPIES IN KENT,OHIO.→
During my sophomore year at Kent State University, I decided it would be a good time to start a terrible grindcore band. Well, we didn’t exactly set out to be terrible, it just sort of happened naturally. I was on dual vocals with Edward Stockenhauser who went on to front Brain Handle. Ryan Loewenstein was on guitar and a homeless dude simply known as Pig Man banged on the drums like a cannibalistic neanderthal.
I managed to book a pretty solid house show with Eat Shit and Die (my band), Don Austin, Kill The Hippies and Upstab which featured Chris Erba of H100s infamy. A guy named “Crazy Don” placed a bag on his head and then set it on fire during our opening set. Meanwhile, outside some drunk teenage punks were being being loud and obnoxious. One thing lead to another and I come upstairs to see Chris Erba of Upstab punching one of these cartoony teen punks out with some mean hooks, splattering blood everywhere. I think Chris had just got a job at a bank so the band fled without playing. I don’t blame them. An arrest was avoided. With Upstab long gone, the mohawked kid came stumbling back around, armed with a led pipe. We were informed that he had Hepatitis C as he dripped a trail blood. I managed to avoid the confrontation but was bummed out that we didn’t get to play with Upstab.
A few weeks later Eat Shit and Die was booked to play a hardcore fest in Youngstown. The bill was stacked. We were to play alongside Upstab, Career Suicide, Caustic Christ, My Revenge and some really good bands. I got a call that morning from Pig Man. He informed us that he was quitting the band. Me and Ed were pretty much embroiled in a nonsensical yet bitter feud at that point anyways. Loewenstein was probably the only person of sound mind in a band that was no more.
The moral of the story is that we never got to play with the short-lived Cleveland maniacs known as Upstab. They came, they saw, and they bloodied some buffoons. Here’s to the memory of Upstab.
IL: I started writing short stories as a child in elementary school. I was always in love with words. I used to have to read the dictionary and learn a word a week. I started to watch Rap City and Yo! MTV Raps and then it was over.
MG: When did you start linking up with the likes of Aesop Rock and Slug?
IL: I met Slug, Eyedea and all of the Rhymesayers through Dose One of Anticon. We both went to the University of Cincinnati and he knew all of those guys. At that time people would trade tapes and it was the early days of the underground hip hop boom of the late 90’s/early 2000’s. At that time Rhymesayers was the crew Headshots and they were the first crew that I ever knew that was touring. We met when Atmosphere was in Cinci for a show in ‘98. Actually Weightless and Rhymesayers started the same year. We were all of like minds and whenever they came to Columbus we would open for them and the rest is history.
With Aesop Rock, again Dose One hipped me to his music around ‘98 but we didn’t actually meet until 2000 when Weightless did the Unforseenshadows and Up To Speed re-issues on CD. They were only available on tape before that. Atoms Family and Aesop Rock came down from New York and opened for us. Atoms Family at that time consisted of Vast, Vordul (Cannibal Ox pre-Cold Vein), Cryptic One, Alaska, Wind N Breeze and Kazim. This was also Aesop Rock right before Float came out. Aesop and Wind N Breeze actually did my backups on the song “Verbage” at the release party. It was a memorable show that is still considered a staple in Columbus Hip Hop History.
MG: At what point did you know that you could have a viable career making independent hip hop?
IL: Honestly I’ve never had a viable career with hip hop (laughs) but after we released Unforeseenshadows and the people started responding we knew we had something. Once we dropped Got Lyrics? I really started touring. Eyedea (RIP) actually took me on my first tour. We (Weightless) were the first crews out of Columbus that actually started touring regularly. To this day the fans have allowed me to continue to make music and make an impact on their lives and I am greatly appreciative of them for that.
MG: Columbus, Ohio was once a creative hub for hip hop. There was Blueprint, yourself, The Spitball crew with DJ PRZM, MHz crew with the likes of RJD2, Copywrite and the late Camu Tao plus more emcees than I could even count. At the same time Cincinnati had Scribble Jam, Lone Catalysts and even Dose One at some point. Where did all that creative energy come from and what was its collective pinnacle?
IL: Honestly, I have no clue (laughs). Ohio has always been a hotbed of musical talent from the great funk bands of the 60’s and 70’s to the talented rock bands and jazz musicians that we have produced. I think we are just in a place where we draw from everywhere and make our own interpretations of the world that people are drawn to. I think this goes for the Midwest in general.
MG: What would you say separates an Ohio emcee from those of other regions?
IL: I think it’s our perspective. It’s that same way with artist from all regions. Our perspectives come from our surroundings. I think that all regions have their time in musical influence. The East Coast had their time and the West had their time. The West Coast time was secretly ours because they stole the funk sound of our 70’s groups. I don’t think that we have a specific style or time because we pull from everywhere so our time has always been.
MG: Have you noticed a decline in the popularity of underground hip hop? If so, when did it start and how has it affected you personally?
IL: I don’t think that there has been a decline at all. I think the lines have been more blurred as to what underground hip hop is and what it is not. I think now “underground” is more of a style as opposed to a genre, because in all honesty Drake is or was an underground artist. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are underground artists along with countless others, but in the same vein so am I. Underground used to mean that you didn’t make as much money as a major label artist. It used to mean that you did not have the notoriety or the reach. Now the class system of underground and above ground artist has been turned on its ear. Much of that is due to the internet. Now I would describe underground as going outside of the box or coming with something from left field that no one else is doing.
MG: These days, rappers usually take one of two routes. Either they have a label doing promotion or an agent booking their tours. On the flip side, some have taken a road that is do-it-yourself for ethical reasons or out of sheer necessity. Which path would you suggest that independent artists use?
IL: I would say do what is best for you and the furthering of your career.
MG: Your lyrics are often deeply personal, poetic, and honest. Those factors can strike a cord in the listener. What is the best thing a fan has either said or done for you?
IL: Fans have done a lot from tattoos to paintings. Just knowing that I have touched people’s lives in some way is enough. When a fan tells me that I have helped them in some way or got them through a difficult situation in their lives that is the ultimate reward.
MG: What other mediums besides hip hop would you like to explore?
IL: I have a few books in the works right now. I would also love to get into producing because I do have a musical background and a good ear for samples. I really would like to have my hands in everything that I possibly can. You might even see me DJ sometime in the future, I don’t know, I don’t like to limit myself at all.
MG: You have been rather prolific when it comes to releases in the last few years. Do you have a favorite one?
IL: I love all of my music. All of it has it’s time. It depends on the day. My fans favorite is Celestial Clockwork though.
MG: What does the future hold for Illogic? Do you have any surprises up your sleeve?
IL: Lots of music, a few books as I mentioned and I would love to hit the road heavy this year. Other than that, just taking care of my family and loving life.
RUST BELT HAMMER CAN BE FOUND @RUSTBELTHAMMER OR ON FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/rustbelthammer
Radium Girls are from Pittsburgh,Pennsylvania and have been making sonic fat kid splashes lately within the Iron City. I always see them listed on great bills that make me yearn for a teleportation device. They recently played with Perfect Pussy and are on many other snazzy bills in their municipality. The music is very much indebted to the noise rock scenes of the mid 80s to early 90s but also has crusty overtones and grindcore blast-beats. Yinz better take heed, Pittsburgh punk is no joke.
Greetings from Austin, Texas, by way of Youngstown, Ohio. My name is Matt Greenfield and I am the man proudly holding this Rust Belt Hammer with a vengeance. I was listening to a Don Austin record called “Rust Belt Blues” which has the song on it, “I Fix Everything With a Hammer.” The combination of those two titles gave me this blog’s name. Don Austin are some bad Akron motherfuckers that will be forgotten by most. They will always hold a special place in my heart though. The Rust Belt has some mean, nasty people, Ohio especially. Sometimes these deranged folks decide to pick up instruments and do some serious ear damage.
Drug Problem is carrying on the tradition of scuzzy and mean Cleveland punk rock. They have members of Avon Ladies, Lucha Eternia, and Bad Noids. The songs are short and brutish. What’s not to like? Bring out your inner caveman and give these jams a try.
Stiv Bators was from my hometown of Youngstown, Ohio. When I first got into punk, I would get my hair cut by a guy who played and grew up with a pre-Rocket From The Tombs Stiv. He would tell me some pretty wild stories. Mr. Bators is somewhat of a Rust Belt folk hero. While digging around, these two great clips from Dead Boys surfaced. I especially love the old tour promo clip. Continue reading RIP STIV BATORS. RARE DEAD BOYS TELEVISION FOOTAGE.→