Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ammo's Catholicate

Today was my last day at The Old Job, for real and good this time. Not feeling particularly sentimental or poignant about that (though I'd be lying if I denied all sentiment). Don't want to reflect on the father out of rehab situation either.

So here's a meme that Samurai Frog did very well. I'll try to make mine half as entertaining.

1. Go to the Wikipedia home page and click random article. That is your band's name.
2. Click random article again; that is your album name.
3. Click random article 15 more times
[I'm only doing twelve; 15 seems bloated]; those are the tracks on your album.

Band name: Ammo. [Our label made us cut off the too-obvious "band" parenthetical.] I think we play no-frills punk. Not much stage patter between songs. We play the hell out of our material, maybe toss in a Ramones cover or an electrified blues, and say goodnight.

Album name: Catholicate. Apparently we have issues with organized religion.

1. "Richard Keane." We start political. Are we Australian? Perhaps not, but Ammo does not consider nationality to be a requirement for, or an obstacle against, concern for an issue. The world is our nation. I'm not sure what we have to say about this minor politico, but I think this song has a full-throated, sing-along chant of a chorus, a la Rancid's "Ruby Soho."
2. "David Butler (Nebraska)." Now we're picking on the first governor of Nebraska, who was impeached for misuse of funds. Are we heavy-handed? We have two songs in a row named after dead minor politicians. I think even I find us tiresome already. Look for our album in the bargain bins.
3. "Fontel Mines." A song about an American football player who, as of the album's release, has played exactly zero seasons professionally. Do we know this guy personally? What is our problem? Have we confused him with a geological mine somewhere? Why do we name all our songs after people? Are we the most pretentious and uptight band in the world? All signs point to yes. Let's say that this song is an attack on the cult of athletic celebrity in America.
4. "Red Republican Party." This more like it. Ammo is interested in the Irish question (and, as you can tell from our album title, Catholicism in general). This is a fast, sharp song very much in the style of Stiff Little Fingers' "Alternative Ulster." We decry British involvement in Ireland. When playing live, we often segue this song into a tradational Irish rebel song, like "A Nation One Again," "Rifles of the IRA," or "The One Road."
5. "Stayley Hall." I think we're from England. Perhaps our drummer wrote this song about an old building in his home town. I don't care for it, myself. There is no place in Ammo for sentimentality, I say, but the label execs said we had to have a ballad.
6. "Whitechapel Tube Station." Why do we name all our songs after people or places? We are lame. Anyway, this is an outraged, hard-driving anthem about a homeless couple who froze to death in the tube station one particularly cold London winter, and our denunciation of the all-too-fragile support system for England's underclasses.
7. "OBS." Is this a song about Outward Bound Singapore? Is it our tribute to Malaysian punk band One Buck Short? Are we referring to Organic Brain Syndrome? No one knows for sure, because we sing this one so fast and loud, no one can make out a syllable of the lyrics.
8. "Robert Dana." Here we go again with the frigging proper names. Ammo is a political band and clearly concerned with British politics and social justice first and foremost, but every now and then we like to cast an eye toward America. As a literate band whose influences include the Clash, Bob Dylan, and Tom Waits, we wrote this tribute to the Iowan poet. I wanted to call this song "Starting out for the Difficult World," after Dana's Pulitzer Prize-nominated collection, but the suits at the label wanted to dumb it down and make it clear who we were singing about.
9. "Veena Talwar Oldenburg." All right, seriously, this is getting ridiculous. At this point, it's like we're doing it to thumb our noses at people. What on earth we have to say about an unknown professor from The City University of New York, I haven't the foggiest. Will we be hearing from Ms. Oldenburg's lawyers? I sincerely hope so. Anyway, I do care about the horrible institution that is dowry murder, and Ms. Oldenberg is best known for her book on that, so I guess this song indicts that unfortunate part of Indian culture. This song will feature a sad, slow, Eastern intro with conch, lute, and flute, until it breaks into explosive punk fury.
10. "Rush Hawkins." I'm serious, we suck. What is wrong with us? Do we have mental problems? Do we truly believe that a song isn't right unless it's named after a person? Do we think that's the way to sell product? I'm not saying I'm objecting to a lightning-fast punk number, with crunchy Zep chords in the chorus, about a Union Civil War general specifically and, more largely, the horrors of all war. It's a terrific hook for a strong topic. I just think it ought to be called "Hawkins' Zouaves."
11. "Waikerie, South Australia." Our bassist, who is Australian (and who wrote "Richard Keane"), wrote and sings this tribute to the small town of his childhood. It's a pleasant throwback of a song, akin to the Clash's own nostalgic number, "Stay Free."
12. "Penselwood." The title brings to mind a Kinks-esque number about pastoral England, but this song isn't that. It's a raging epic of a song that has more in common with Iron Maiden than the Kinks, about medieval battle sites and the long shadow of old sins. Credited to Ammo as a group, because each instrument represents a different style of weapon; it's our symphony to the roots of the military-industrial complex.

Well, that was fun. This album sounds pretty garish, like the work of an even more egocentric and over-reaching Alarm. I'd much rather give Samurai Frog's opus a listen.

I do note that, based on both the results, the overwhelming majority of Wikipedia's article titles are people or places. If one were trying to make an album that sounded a bit less thematic (read: ludicrous), one might consider limiting people and place titles to, say, three.


SamuraiFrog said...

Raging no-frills punk sounds pretty good. I think I'll definitely download some tracks.

Michael5000 said...

That's a fun game. I'm a big fan of the "random article" button.