My name is James Greene, Jr. (please, call me James) and I’m a freelance writer. My work has appeared in such publications as Crawdaddy!, Orlando Weekly, New York Press, No Recess!, and Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader. I also wrote the liner notes to Gluecifer’s best of / rarities disc Kings Of Rock (currently out of print).
My first book, This Music Leaves Stains: The Complete Story Of The Misfits, was published in 2013. Please to be consulting the TMLS F.A.Q. for pertinent details. According to the Austin Chronicle I “pull no punches” as I “accurately and respectfully” relate the tale of these New Jersey punks. Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster told me he “really liked” This Music Leaves Stains.
In 2017, I had a second book published. It’s called Brave Punk World: The International Rock Underground From Alerta Roja to Z-Off and it’s all about the development of punk rock around the globe. Learn more here. “I loved this book,” said online rock critic Mark Prindle in a Facebook post. The guy who mows my mom’s lawn hasn’t read it yet but tells me it’s on his list.
Personals: I was born and raised in the southwest corner of Connecticut, the Nutmeg State. Oh, what a state of nutmeg in which we lived and breathed. Brooklyn, Albany, and Florida have also been home. I’m married but I’ve never owned land. I’ve also never had my tonsils out.
I have a BA in organizational communication from the University of Central Florida. Yes, the college where they shot “Superboy.” Somehow Disney still reigns as Orlando’s most popular tourist destination.
You can hear the sound of my voice on Yaxzon Jackson, the podcast wherein I discuss Michael Jackson with Rollie Hatch.
That’s all for now. Thanks for visiting.
Joel Robinson demonstrates his BGC-19 kit, not utilized by anyone listed.
The Drumming Hall of Fame: as far as we know, no such place exists, not even within the angular confines of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Maybe that’s a good thing. The Rock Hall’s stirred up enough controversy as it is with their general inductees. Look, I have nothing against Red Hot Chili Peppers. They’re fun. However, if you put a gun to my greasy noggin and pose the question “funk crossover?” Faith No More will come up first.
But I digress. If there was a Drum HOF and they were looking to honor the best players from the past twenty-five years, the following fifteen people would get my vote, first ballot. Assuming I could participate in such an election process. I’m not really a part of drum writing’s sacred cabal.
Drumming in Primus seems like a thankless task, but Alexander’s handled it with aplomb. He has no problem letting the other instruments breathe without sacrificing his own unique flair. A true craftsman’s touch.
Matt takes the scenic route to the benefit of many a Soundgarden recording. Even their weakest stuff is interesting thanks to his little flourishes. He’s also been in Pearl Jam now for god knows how long; that surely speaks to something considering PJ’s previous drumming turnover rate.
The Chamb (as no one calls him) strikes such a nice balance between the fanciful and the forceful. He also managed to navigate the Corgan minefield for an impressive stretch. Seems like a mensch outside the drug abuse and the Dutch Schutlz haircut.
Slogging away in the Melvins, Dale has developed his own cult, and for good reason. He maps out those throbbing rhythms like a conquering hun.
Pretty versatile in his session work (Guns n’ Roses, Sting, Ween, Perfect Circle, DEVO), equally versatile on his home court with pop punk clowns the Vandals. Loose, limber, electric, Josh has helped keep the Vandals a joy far beyond their sell-by date.
Shades of Bonham, right? Can you think of an album Dave’s tapped on that isn’t classic? Even the first Tenacious D is held in esteem because of Grohl. The only drummer on this list your grandchildren’s grandchildren will know in absolute terms.
Like Primus, Slipknot would be unlistenable without the right person steering the rhythmic ship. Joey’s a busy drummer but never lets his rolls get away from him. Extra props for commercializing so many death metal moves.
There’s a reason Megadeth fans are constantly up D. Mustaine’s ass to reform the Rust In Peace lineup. Menza brings that clean, precise heavy metal fury. Extra props for his dedication to UFO culture.
ANDERS MØLLER (A.K.A. GLUEROS BAGFIRE)
A hard call only because I have so much reverence for the Danny Young era of Gluecifer, that glorious span of time when they were the greatest hard rock band America was ignoring. The white hot early stuff with Anders is what got me there, though. A great melding of punk speed and classic rock cues.
CHARLES MONTGOMERY (A.K.A. CHUCK BISCUITS)
Has anyone ever played with so much reckless abandon yet remained so precise and powerful? Has any other drummer for Danzig been able to so precisely match that singer’s strength and swagger? Doesn’t seem like coincidence that Danzig’s career began wobbling once Chuck departed.
Hugh’s meter was offensively good, the best in ’90s punk. Don’t Back Down is still the top Queers album thanks to his presence. What a crime cancer took him from us in ’99. Desperately wanted to hear his next moves.
His Mudhoney band mates jokingly call him “Tippy Tap” due to some perceived lack of power, but that light n’ limber touch works wonders when the guitars are vomiting up ’60s fuzz. Motherfucker can jam, too.
AHMIR THOMPSON (A.K.A. QUESTLOVE)
Dumbledorish in his musical knowledge, which of course informs his fantastic percussion. Superb control. Obliterating the stereotype that all drummers are one dimensional drooling clowns.
Always impressive to hear the inventive turns and accents this Sleater-Kinney stalwart utilizes. Seems to be much Bill Ward in her playing.
The Rocket From The Crypter who can shift tempo on half a rusty dime. So exuberant, such a party when he’s thumping away.
So who would you vote for?
Below you will find the cream of my bloggin’ crop from Twenty-twelve, a.k.a. the year everyone had a Mayan calendar joke.
Unsolicited X: The Unheard Music Review
Dinner With Fake Dog Owner/Real Drummer Danny Young
Geriatric Chicken Man Claims To Have Elvis On Elbow
Jimmy Castor: 1947-2012
Shit A Seventeenth Century English Fop Says
A Big Fat Stupid Love Letter To “Late Night With David Letterman”
Twenty-Five Other Essential Punk Albums
Another Letter Of Note
I Didn’t Want To Know Slash’s Shoe Size Anyway
Basic Cable Reality Show Ideas
A.J. Confessore: 1969-2012
Potential Plot Lines For The New “ALF” Movie
The Giant Sentient Leeches Have Silenced Canibus
Holy Federico Fellini! It’s A Burt Ward Film Primer!
Did Osama bin Laden Have The Bodyguard On VHS Or DVD?
Choose Your Own Adventure (Waterskiing Squirrel Edition)
Don’t Read This While Eating
Corporate Hippie Ghost Logos Still Suck
Disney Pays $4 Billion For More Ewok Guitar Solos
Unsolicited Thoughts On Serious Puppet Scandal 2012
Slayer’s Reign In Blood Totally Synchs Up With Star Wars
“So how are you?” I ask Danny as we take our seats at Manhattan’s Great Jones Cafe, home of the Rotten Apple’s best pulled pork sandwich.
“How do you think I am?” he says with a smirk.
My dinner companion could be making reference to several aspects of his vastly interesting life, but in this moment we both know exactly why he’s radiating. Twenty-four hours prior, Danny (who, with his thick glasses and sandy blonde hair, bears passing resemblance to Peter Billingsly) was one of the chosen few allowed inside Cafe Wha? to witness Van Halen’s exclusive 2012 tour launch performance. Fans and journalists came from all corners of the Northeast to see the ultimate ’80s party rock band play their first club gig in decades, but Danny Young was the only VH disciple to fly in from the exotic land of Norway.
“One guy in line outside said, ‘Oh, I rode the subway here.’ Another guy said, ‘I flew here from Philly.’ Yeah, okay,” Danny tells me in a playfully dismissive tone. “They couldn’t believe how far I had come. They called me ‘Norway’ for the rest of the night. ‘Hey, what did Norway think of that?'”
Certainly the most dyed-in-the-wool Van Halen fan I currently know, a connection at Universal Records London got Danny on the über-exclusive guest list. I didn’t ask, but I’m fairly certain this connection was forged somehow through the eight years Danny spent drumming for Gluecifer. Gluecifer gets my vote for best hard rock band happening in the late nineties/early aughts—on Norwegian shores or any other. They never gained much traction here in the States, but neither did the majority of their Scandinavian contemporaries (Turbonegro, the Hellacopters, et al). America at that time was preoccupied with less testicular outfits such as Jimmy Eat World and Sum 41. It is as it was, the Pope might say.
This Cafe Wha? deal was the first time Danny had ever seen his favorite band in the world, and he was was right up front, stage right, close enough to taste Diamond Dave’s sweat. By all accounts, it was an amazing show. Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie VH’s twenty-something son who has controversially replaced original bassist Michael Anthony in the reunited Halen lineup, “held it down” and “gave it his all.” Dave Lee Roth’s vocals were low in the mix from where Danny stood but still sounded great. The only letdown was Alex Van Halen’s abnormally small drum kit.
“It was about one-fifth the size of what he normally plays with,” Danny says, making appropriate hand gestures to articulate just how tiny these drums were. “He had to play the beginning of ‘Dance The Night Away’ on the pipes above him. Dave walked over with the mic and stuck it over him.”
The influence of Alex Van Halen on Danny’s own style is discernable—both have rock solid meter and a knack for smartly complimenting whatever the guitars are doing—but there are, of course, other percussionists the man counts as heroes. John Bohnam. Joey Kramer. Peter Criss (the early stuff, before he became “a pussy wrist”). Ginger Baker. A clear pattern is emerging.
“I’ve always been a classic rock guy. The other guys in Gluecifer, they were all into punk—I never listened to that stuff, aside from the Ramones, who weren’t really a punk band, and Motörhead.”
This is reflected in Danny’s current band, Smoke Mohawk, which he started a couple years back with Gluecifer guitarist Raldo Useless. Classic rock is the only applicable genre term you could apply to the etherel take on Grand Funk they present on their debut album, The Dogs Are Turning Red. The distilled rage and chest-thumping bravado that was Gluecifer’s calling card is all but absent. I wonder if Danny’s aversion to punk or outward love of Van Halen caused any friction in his former band.
“No, but it was something I always joked about with Jon [Average, Gluecifer bassist]. He hated being called a musician. He didn’t want to think of himself that way. Total punk. So I’d tease him, ‘Oh, you’re a big time musician, you know,’ and he’d get so mad.”
Our conversation turns to the individual personalities of Gluecifer. As a fan, I’m captivated to hear this stuff. Some of it’s funny, some of it’s really disheartening. I learn that one member locked himself in his Manhattan hotel room for the entire the weekend of the band’s final show here in 2005, emerging only to take the stage. Danny still seems perplexed by this behavior.
“Maybe he was sad that the band was breaking up,” I suggest.
“Huh,” Danny responds, an expression on his face as if a cloud has lifted. “I never even considered that. I was sad too—on the cab ride to the airport afterwards, I remember feeling sentimental while I was texting with the other guys—but I had other things going on in my life. I was going to school in Los Angeles, I had just joined a band in Germany…yeah, maybe he was sad about the breakup.”
A flurry of fanboy questions shoot forth from my mouth.
“What of Gluecifer’s canon are you most proud of?”
“Yeah, your records.”
“Oh, Automatic Thrill, by far. That was our best and hardest record. I would have liked to see what we could have done after that. But when two guys in the band don’t want to go forward…”
“Is there anything you guys recorded that you’d go back and change?”
“I never thought about that…I guess maybe make some [material] more commercial, but that’s what we were trying to do anyway. So, I don’t know.”
“What’s the first thing you recorded with Gluecifer?”
“A seven inch called ‘Lard Ass Hagen.'”
“Fuck yeah, that’s a great song.”
“The guys weren’t too happy with how those songs sounded. That, ‘Mano A Mano’—we recorded those two seven inches together. I thought it sounded good, but they didn’t like it so much. I can’t remember if ‘Lard Ass’…was that actually the flip side to ‘Mano A Mano?'”
“No, ‘Mano A Mano’ was its own a-side with something else on the flip side.”
“Ah, okay. Yes.”
“Was that your real life dog in the ‘Losing End’ video?”
Danny laughs hard at this question, tilting his head back. Turns out the German Shepard who fetched his drum stick in the otherwise “serious” video was a hired hand. This makes me just as sad as the hotel story. I wanted to believe Danny Young owned that dog.
Around this time, Danny’s phone rings. It’s a member of Monster Magnet. They’re planning a meetup tomorrow before Danny flies back to Oslo. As they chat, I flip through my phone’s contact list. I have a member of GWAR’s number, but only because I interviewed him for a project some time last year. He’s not going to call me up ever and suggest we drive out to Red Bank, New Jersey to get funky.
“Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met?” I ask Danny, the last question of the night I get off before everything becomes “off the record.”
“Dolly Parton. Her European tour manager cut her teeth managing Gluecifer. Dolly was playing somewhere, and I went. I love ‘Jolene,’ but I’m not some superfan…I went backstage anyway. We were introduced, and the manager said, ‘Danny’s a musician.’ [ADOPTS EERILY ACCURATE EFFEMINATE SOUTHERN VOICE] ‘Oh, d’ya play guh-tar and sing?’ [REGULAR VOICE] ‘No, I’m a drummer.’ [DOLLY IMPRESSION] ‘Oh, you could play with us!’ Haha, can you imagine that?”
For a moment, I do imagine the sneering blonde who pounded out “Lard Ass Hagen” holding a pair of brushes and lightly tapping out a beat behind our nation’s most buxom country treasure. It seems only slightly less ludicrous than flying eight hours from Norway on a Thursday to see the biggest heavy metal band of the Reagan Era perform in a shoebox-size tourist trap Bob Dylan made famous before anyone knew what a David Lee Roth was. Then I remember just moments ago I felt depression when I learned a dog in a music video wasn’t “real,” and life in general seems pretty funny on both sides of the coin.
For the benefit of all foodie completists reading this, yes, I had the pulled pork sandwich. Danny had the chiliburger. Both were deemed “fuckin’ great.”
Haven’t thrown one of these up in a while. In case you forgot, Cornuzine was a website I used to do. These interviews were the only redeeming part.
His parents gave him the name Fritjof Jacobsen, but in 1994 this jaunty Norwegian chap rechristened himself Biff Malibu (after the porn actor) and formed the flashy hard rock combo Gluecifer with a few of his pals. Biff’s light, saucy vocal delivery pleasantly punctuated the slew of excellent albums Gluecifer released during their eleven year run. In 2003, I got the chance to chat with the bescarfed front man, which was an experience beyond thrilling for this drooling fan boy. Continue reading to discover what the self-described “scheming dildo” has to say about Norwegian history, the Foo Fighters, and that lady from Sleepless In Seattle.
BIFF MALIBU SPEAKS OF ROCK, MEG RYAN
JAMES GREENE, JR: For a Norwegian singer, you have a pretty good handle on the English language. Explain this phenomenon, please.
BIFF MALIBU: Musicality I guess, or maybe more likely the fact that we Scandihoooligans are taught english in school from we are nine ’til we are 18.
JG2: Nine ’til you’re eighteen? What’s the reasoning behind that?
BM: Probably to prime us for an international career in rock and roll, or maybe the fact that Norway is such a small country that we need to know English because no one is willing to learn Norwegian.
JG2: No one wants to learn their native language?
BM: Oay, to be serious…Norway has a population of four million people. We speak Norwegian, a language very similar to Swedish and Danish. Norway has for hundreds of years had a strong bond with [the] U.K.—not strange, since we used to be a big shipping nation. Since our country is so small, I guess someone figured out many years ago that it was important to learn foreign language in order to do trade, etc. In the late 1800s, thousands of Norwegians emigrated to [the] U.S.A. I guess the bond with English and American people were strengthened during World War II.
JG2: I see.
BM: Since the war, all kids have been taught English in school. Today, I would say that almost everyone you’ll meet here has English as their second language, but don’t get me wrong—in our daily life we speak and write Norwegian. It’s just that here, and in the other Scandi countries for that matter, the proficiency in English language is very high, especially compared to the bigger euro countries like France or Germany.
JG2: Interesting. We don’t really have a second language here, generally speaking.
BM: For our part in Gluecifer, we have spent so much time abroad…that I guess our English has been maintained very well. I myself am also married to a girl who has an American dad, so I speak English a lot, and also read most books in that language.
JG2: Cool. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t your latest effort Basement Apes debut at #4 on the Billboard charts in Scandanavia? Has this success changed the mighty rock machine that is Gluecifer?
BM: We debuted at #2, actually, and stayed in the top forty for several weeks. It was very cool, as it enabled us to play more cities and to more people here in Norway. It hasn’t really changed the machine though, maybe just given it a little more financial lubrication. That was welcome, of course.
JG2: Didn’t you guys just open for the Foo Fighters? How was that?
BM: Foo Fighters were really nice guys. Thay gave us tons of booze and beer and real red carpet treatment. The show itself was okay—felt a little weird playing a sports arena—but I guess we can get used to that if we have to.
JG2: That’s cool. I touched Dave Grohl’s knee once. So, the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was last week. Is there any band you think the Hall needs to induct next year? Anyone you think they shouldn’t have inducted this year?
BM: I don’t care too much about this Hall of Fame thing. I’ve been to the museum in Cleveland, and although some of it was pretty cool, I think looking at Kurt Cobain’s sweater or Pete Townshend’s old socks is far away from rock. If you are talking in terms of underrated bands or artists, Roky Erickson is the first name that comes to my mind.
JG2: Good ol’ Roky. You once famously sang that you were sick of watching TV ’cause “they’re always showing Prong.” Do they really show a lot of Prong on TV where you live, or do you just not like Prong? Explain your lyric, please!
BM: When we wrote that song, someone had just dragged me to a Prong show. I disliked it strongly. But, to be honest, I think the main reason for using the word Prong was that I had to rhyme something with “schlong.”
JG2: Got it. When exactly was the year of Manly Living? 1978?
BM: Every year since we started Gluecifer in ’94 has been a year of manly living.
JG2: How did “Leather Chair” end up in Kate & Leopold?
BM: Beats me. We just got noticed in an e-mail and received a check. Haven’t seen the movie. Is it any good?
JG2: Oh, I have no idea.
BM: Meg Ryan spell a little too much like Xanax for my taste.
JG2: Did you just say Meg Ryan spell a little too much like Xanax? I don’t…
BM: Haven’t you seen that perpetual blissful look on her face?
BM: It has to be pharmaceuticals!
– Cornuzine.com, 3/19/03
My complimentary copy of Kings Of Rock, the Gluecifer best of/rarities collection, finally arrived the other day. It was delivered by Odin himself, who took the form of my perpetually hungover Mexican landlord. I thanked the powerful Norse God by promising a blót in his honor, but he just rolled his eyes and walked away, muttering.
One of my goals when I decided to get into this writing thing for real was to someday pen the liner notes for some really awesome band’s greatest hits CD. That I achieved this goal so early in my career is sort of mind-boggling. I mean, this kind of thing is usually reserved for established “names,” right? Who am I? I’m not David Fricke or Kurt Loder or anybody. I’m the complete yutz who couldn’t even get a book about Star Wars published.*
I feared Kings Of Rock would completely fall through somehow, like the CD would get canceled or the members of Gluecifer wouldn’t like what I wrote and go with another scribe. I’d be the Pete Best of Norwegian rock band liner notes. That sad fact would drive me to become the hopeless alcoholic I always knew I could be. I’d die penniless, alone, and reeking of the cheapest liquors on the market. They’d toss my body into the East River and call it an art installation. It would be a sickening end to a sad life.
But lo, Kings Of Rock came to pass. There’s what I wrote four or five months ago, splashed across a few small glossy pages with a handful of photos for accent. They (Gluecifer & Epic/Sony) did an awesome job putting this set together. The black and gold color scheme is classy as hell. Truly regal.
The song selection? Ace. The twenty tunes on the first disc are without question the best twenty in the Gluecifer catalog. Not a damn clunker among them. The rarities disc is unfortunately a little bit shorter and omits a few true lost classics (no “Lard Ass Hagen?” WTF!!), but goddamn if the boys didn’t pull out some incredible shit I didn’t even know existed. “Plastic Hand” makes me want to wrestle an alligator while skydiving over Fort Knox with no parachute and a vial of nitroglycerin in my pocket. It’s just…that…good.
I’m flattered, honored, and extremely proud to be involved with Gluecifer’s Kings Of Rock. This is going to be the big brag until I get a book published or film some talking head crap for a goofy basic cable retrospective show. It sucks that this CD won’t be available outside Norway until the middle of Summer, but that should give you all the more reason to finally book that trip to Oslo you’ve been thinking about taking for some time now.
No? Oh, alright. I’ll just remind you when Kings Of Rock finally does land on the shores of all the countries not currently governed by Jens Stoltenberg. If you can’t wait that long, if you absolutely must have the Gluecifer greatest hits CD as soon as possible and you don’t have three grand to drop on a plane ticket, learn Norwegian and order it here.
Endless thanks to the guys in Gluecifer—Poon, Biff, Stu, Raldo, & Danny—for asking/allowing me to do this. You’ve saved me from decades of self-loathing and a Peppermint Schnapps-related death.
* I shall expand upon that hilarious and heartbreaking story another time.
The good news: Kings Of Rock, the two-disc Gluecifer best of/rarities collection that has absolutely nothing to do with Run-D.M.C. and features liner notes penned by yours truly, was officially released last week.
The bad news: It’s only available in Norway right now. The rest of the world has to wait two whole months before access to this seemingly final Glue product is granted. Sure, you could try ordering it here, but unless you’re fluent in Norwegian, you’re going to have a tough time working out the finer details (and I’m really not sure if they even accept currency other than “Krs”). At least you can peep the track listing.
Don’t feel bad, two other people in America who like Gluecifer. I haven’t even received my promo copy yet, and I wrote the goddamn liner notes! I mean, what the hell! I didn’t spend ten agonizing minutes cobbling that text together so Sony/BMG could drag their feet sending me my free copy! Jesus H. Lebowski! I’m an American! I have rights!
But I kid the massive corporate machine that’s simultaneously distributing excellent rock n’ roll and providing me with some much needed exposure. As soon as I get my complimentary Kings Of Rock, I’ll letcha know what I think of it (I’ll be honest—if something about it sucks, I’ll say so!).