Noisy Australian Punk Band Plays Rare SF Show

By Dave Pehling

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — An unsung Australian noise-punk outfit that has enjoyed a renaissance over the past decade, Sydney-based trio feedtime has been making its unique, blues-tinged racket off and on since the late 1970s.

feedtime 2 Noisy Australian Punk Band Plays Rare SF Show

feedtime

Guitarist Rick Johnson and bass player Allen Larkin met in secondary school when they were children, but decided to form a band as a guitar/bass duo late in 1979. They eventually enlisted a string of drummers, finally settling on Tom Sturm in 1982. While it would be three years before feedtime would put out its debut, the trio’s self-titled 1985 effort highlighted the band’s raw, primitive approach centered around Johnson’s hypnotic slide-guitar riffs and gruff, growled vocals.

The band released it’s sophomore album Shovel the following year through indie-punk label Rough Trade in the U.S. and began building up a fan base — particularly in the Pacific Northwest — with the band’s driving, echo-heavy sound. The band continued to record through the end of the decade — issuing the covers collection Cooper-S featuring songs by the Rolling Stones, Lee Hazlewood, the Ramones and the Stooges and the more melodic Suction in 1989 — but split suddenly before the launch of a planned first U.S. tour after Johnson suffered a nervous breakdown.

The band’s legend grew during the subsequent years as fans shared copies of the early albums and a new generation of noise-rock bands started citing feedtime as an influence. Johnson and Larkin would reconvene in 1995 with Larkin’s younger brother John on drums, recording their fifth album Billy for release in the U.S. by noted noise-rock imprint Amphetamine Reptile Records. The trio toured for a couple of years, but would end up on hiatus again until the classic line-up reunited in 2011 for a pair of shows in their hometown and a special appearance at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco as part of the 10 anniversary for Bay Area punk label S.S. Records.

The band returned to the States for a full U.S. tour the next year to promote Seattle’s Sub Pop Records reissuing feedtime’s first four records in a box set. The band has remained active, releasing a single in 2015 before tracking their first new album in two decades. That recording, entitled Gas, was released by In The Red Records earlier this year to wide acclaim.

For this show at the Hemlock Tavern, feedtime will be joined by avowed disciples and local noise-punk favorites Musk. Built around guitarist Chris Owens’ corrosive six-string squall and singer Rob Fletcher’s unhinged delivery, Musk came together with the aim of injecting some real hostility into modern garage punk.

Early demos featuring Fletcher’s demented howling and hyper-distorted guitar abuse from Owens led to the band’s debut album coming out on Holy Mountain Records in 2014. A solid approximation of what the Jesus Lizard might have sounded like if iconic instrumental great Link Wray took over on guitar, the band’s menacing self-titled effort produced by regular John Dwyer studio collaborator Chris Woodhouse earned a slew of rave reviews, as did their chaotic live performances at clubs on both coasts.

While it took some time for the band to get together a follow-up, last year the even more caustic sequel entitled Musk 2: The Second Skumming finally surfaced on 12XU records. Introducing elements of downtown NYC jazz skronk reminiscent of John Zorn’s Naked City, the band produced an even more baleful cacophony balanced against the woozy, Neil Young and Crazy Horse-style lament “Weathervane.” Equally noisy self-described “dystopian space punk” band FNU Clone opens the show.

feedtime with Musk
Saturday, Feb. 3, 9 p.m. $15
Hemlock Tavern

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