A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Junkyard

You could say wrong time, wrong place hurt Junkyard. Being from Australia, I am always into bands that can take the AC/DC style of rock n roll and spruce it up with their own twists without sounding too much of a copycat. Junkyard was such band that did it really well with their debut album released in 1989.

Guitarist Chris Gates came up with the name Junkyard. One name that was floated around was ‘Crack’ however they decided against that when the actual drug named crack became mainstream news.

They came from a hardcore punk scene into a scene that was splintering into a few different genres/groups.

One group was the bands that wanted to be like Motley Crue and Poison.

The other group was bands that wanted to be like Bon Jovi and Journey.

Then you had another group that didn’t mind if they merged and criss crossed between genres. Underrated bands like “Junkyard”, “Raging Slab”, “Dangerous Toys” and “Circus Of Power”.

This time the genre mash-up revolves around the following ingredients;

Bad Company/Free Classic Rock – CHECK

AC/DC Hard Rock – CHECK

Punk Rock – CHECK

Punk Rock Attitude – CHECK

Aerosmith Hard Rock – CHECK

ZZ Top Blues Boogie Rock – CHECK

Southern/Country Rock – CHECK

Guns N Roses Current Flavour Influence – CHECK

A lot of people believe that the Guns N Roses comparison is the reason why Geffen Records became interested. To put it into context, Guns N Roses didn’t really take over the world until 1988 and by then, Junkyard already had a record deal in place with Geffen records.

One other point to note is that the media always emphasised the fact that Junkyard got signed nine months after forming. However, the origins of the band and the respective musicians go back even further.

All of the band members were paying their dues way before Junkyard started. Guitarists Chris Gates and Brian Baker have been at it since 1980 beginning with punk bands “Minor Threat” and “The Big Boys”. Bass player Todd Muscat and drummer Patrick Mazingo had been at it since 1983 with the band “Decry”.

So they get together and form a new band in 1987. Labels started to become interested. Virgin came knocking first based on an 8 track demo the band did. However during a gig with Jane’s Addiction and Green River, they got approached by Geffen. The A&R rep at that time also knew about the members previous punk bands and a deal was made.

The excellent Tom Werman was on hand to produce the debut album that came out in 1989. The engineer was Duane Baron who was also no slouch in the producer chair either.

While others complain about Werman’s work ethic or input, the Junkyard team had nothing but praise. However, another candidate that was considered was Matt Wallace, who did the initial demos that Geffen financed before they gave the go ahead for the full album to be recorded. Matt Wallace was a more eclectic producer, being involved with artists like “The Replacements”, “John Hiatt” and “Faith No More”.

“Blooze”

It is the album opener and it kicks it off in style.

“Simple Man”

“Throwing pennies into the wishing well”

Chris Gates wrote it before the band even got together. I love that lyric line. So simple but effective.

“Shot In The Dark”

Not the Ozzy version. This one is more raucous and sleazy. I think the term they used in the Eighties was “Snotty”.

“Hollywood”

Looks like Zakk Wylde was listening to Junkyard as the intro and feel of the song could have inspired Ozzy’s “I Don’t Wanna Change The World”. Chris Gates tells that story that the idea for the riff came from a “Cheech & Chong” movie however after the song was finished he went back to see if he could find the scene where Tommy Chong played the riff and he couldn’t find it.

Credit insane French Canadian video director Jean Pellerin for the cool “Hollywood” clip that MTV picked up and put into rotation.

“Life Sentence”

Musically it reminds me of Motorhead’s “Ace Of Spades”.

“Texas”

“More uptempo driven re-write of “La Grange” from ZZ Top.

“Hands Off”

It continues with the Southern Rock/Gospel Rock style feel. But the lyrics. Man they take the cake for some of the most funniest shit ever committed to music.

The darker “Sixes, Sevens & Nines” came next and by 1992 the band was dropped from Geffen. That is how quickly fortunes changed in the era of record label control. The band knew what was up. The writing was on the wall. All of their contemporaries were getting dropped.

This is what drummer Patrick Muzingo said in an interview with SleazeRoxx.

“We decided it’s about time for us to face reality and get real jobs. Sure, we were bummed and still wanted to be a band but we also were extremely responsible adults and, from the get go, knew we weren’t gonna become millionaires doing this. We all got REAL jobs and went our separate ways. Some of us continued on with new bands for a few years, others got careers. There was no drama when we spilt up. No BS.”

If you are a musician and have dreams of making millions, then I will give you a second to digest the above comments because that is reality. Even the musicians today that complain that the past was better are misleading people. Junkyard had a major label contract and when it all ended they had to go get real jobs.

They wrote and recorded material for a third album with the working title “103,000 People Can’t Be Wrong” (which was a reference to the first week sales of album number 2) but the record never got made for various reasons.

The band wanted to produce it themselves so Geffen gave them an ultimatum.

Record it with a real producer, however they will give no marketing support or touring support.

Or they would release the band from their deal and allow the band to shop the record to other labels.

But no other label would come forth to support them as all of the labels had moved on to find the next Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden or Alice In Chains.

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One thought on “Junkyard

  1. Rick Spring says:

    Excellent article on a greatly underappreciated group of musicians. Their music has held up over time and will always be a representation if no frills balls to the wall rock n roll from that era. Their legacy is set with those of us in the know. Thanks again
    Rick/Slidell ,La

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