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Friday, 13 June 2014

STARING INTO HER EYES

KEVIN McGOVERN and the Prostitutes
By Angelo Ruggiero

Here's the original Prostitutes from Harrisburg, PA, now relocated in Long Beach, CA. 
In the Get Sick! GetSicker! post, I covered the band’s early original recordings. You got the most detailed and precise information about the Prostitutes. With this new article and interview, you are getting the real deal: the ultimate interview with Kevin Patrick McGovern, and his most extreme answers and thoughts on his exceptional life. 

"...I was insane and our guitar player totally destroyed his amp during the end of the set. Probably the drunkest and highest I (we) ever performed." 

After the separation of the Prostitutes' original line-up, Kevin was prepared for recording new songs he had written. He soon assembled a new band that featured guitarist Mike Williams, bassist Ryan Conner, and first drummer Jeff Peterson. This line-up of the Prostitutes recorded the tracks for a proposed E.P. including “Obscene”, “Living is Boring”, “Self Destructive Motherfucker”, “I’m Not Like You”, “No Sound”, “Nighttime Parasite”, and “FYF”. This songs remained unreleased until October of 2013, when they were issued on the online album 
The Unreleased LP.
During the Mid-West tour, the Prostitutes broke up, and Kevin stayed living in Ohio. Afterward, Kevin started the mind-blowing band the Inversions using the McKean brothers of Cleveland’s GC5 as backing band.  

"I moved in with the door girl the next day.  We got married a few months later but it was loose, unconventional, and based on a mutual love of frenzied self-destruction with good rock n roll always on the stereo."



Kevin and the Prostitutes came back in 2008 with their essential second album Kill Them Before They Eat. The 2008 incarnation of the band included drummer Noel Brown, bassist P Mo, guitarist/ keyboardist Issac James, and Kevin on vocals and guitar. 

Kill Them Before They Eat was recorded and mastered at Altered Thoughts Studio, in Long Beach, CA, in the Winter of 2008. The album has a more mature sound, but with the same magical talented touch of Kevin McGovern. The ten new tracks on the album are "The New Cure," "Fashion Bitch," "Lolita," "Wanna Go To Hell," "Whatever," "Hollywood Murder Scene," "Electrocution," "Living Is Boring," "Nightmare Parasite," and "Black Eyed And Cut." The CD version of this album was released in August 2008 on May Cause Dizziness Records, containing six bonus tracks (11-16) taken from the two Inversions E.P.s. 
A limited vinyl edition of the album was planned to be released on Sonic
Jett Records. The May Cause Dizziness/Erratic labels issued in 2009 the Let's Get Killed compilation album, which features the Prostitutes' track "Nightmare Parasite."

"...my intention was to show that I could write tighter and more sophisticated songs without the trappings of street-punk or hardcore."


In September 2009, the exciting 4-track E.P. Belle Ringer, came out on Finland's Hell's Tone Records, including the superb punk tunes "Psychward California," "Backstab," "Annihilate From The Start," and "Poison Me." All tracks are by Kevin McGovern, except "Poison Me" by McGovern/James. The line-up that recorded the Belle Ringer E.P. was comprised of Kevin on vocals and guitar, Bryan Rivas on drums, and 'Sexy Boy' Mike Damus on bass. This terrific E.P. was recorded at Anvil Studios, L.A., in February 2009. The front cover photo was shot by Luna. My copy is on orange vinyl from a limited edition of only 100 copies. The total pressing was 500 copies (100 Black, 100 Green, 100 Blue, 100 Orange, and 100 Red.)

Besides composing music, Kevin is currently the editor and main writer for the online magazine Fear & Loathing in Long Beach. Below is a crucial interview with Kevin Patrick McGovern, a true punk poet of our times.


ANGELO: Following the splitting up of the Prostitutes' original line-up, you went to record a 6-song E.P. in 2000. What's the story behind these recordings?

KEVIN: The original line-up was falling apart and we had two different bass players take over for some bigger shows we were doing in the Baltimore/D.C. area.  I was trying to have a relationship with two females at the same time, who happened to be best friends and developed bad addictions along with me.  I was holding back on contributing songs to that line-up because the band was beyond disjointed and I hated the new material they were writing.  I announced to the audience and to the band’s surprise, during a show we did with Nashville Pussy, that it was the last show we would ever play.  Corey Parks thought I was insane and our guitar player totally destroyed his amp during the end of the set.  Probably the drunkest and highest I (we) ever performed. This final show of the original line-up was video recorded and I have yet to locate it.

It was an anxiety inducing time for me and I started working erratically on new material outside of the band with a keyboard player named Danielle, and a drummer that was more rock oriented.  It was moodier and more garage-new wave type of music. The new project, which was supposed to be called The Modern Fuckers, never recorded anything and we were popping Vicodin like candy.  I had a breakdown of sorts at the end of 1998 and moved back home to regroup and clean up a little bit.  That was a rough time for me mentally.  I couldn’t get a grasp on what I wanted out of life or music.  I tried to keep substances to a minimum but I was drinking harder than ever before and working at the local mall. 


At a new year’s party for 1999, I had asked Jeff the original drummer if he wanted to reboot the band.  We brought in my friend Mike Williams on guitar and Ryan Conner on bass.   At this point I had the band starting to learn the songs I was writing outside of the band, which included “Give Me Head, Give me Death”, “I’m Not Like You”, “Red White Black and Blue”, “Living is Boring”, “Please Kill Me”, “Nighttime Parasite”, and “Lolita”.  Mike and Ryan had written music for “Obscene”, “No Sound”, “F.Y.F”, and “Self Destructive Motherfucker”. I added lyrics and melodies to their compositions with a few chord additions as well.  We brought in Tim McCoy again, but Tim stayed for about 2 months. The original session with McCoy included the tunes, “Head or Death” and “Please Kill Me” and have yet to see a digital release.  They were recorded at Sound For Sound Studios.  We started drinking at 9 am and the session went until 10 pm with us dragging Tim out to his car and me stoned out of my mind trying to mix down, we did get 6 tracks done.  We were trashed during the session and the best songs to come out of it were “Psycho”, “I’m Not like You”, and “Red White Black and Blue”.  



Pat Grindstaff (Pelado Records) noticed the playing was off quite a bit so we sobered up and went back into 213 studios to re-record a few months later.  The new 6 song EP was “Obscene”, “Living is Boring”, “SDMF”, “I’m Not Like you”, “No Sound”, “Nighttime Parasite”, and “FYF”.  Some from before, some left out, and some that were newer. It was set to come out on a split LP with the Dimestore Halos along with the CD release of our 25-song discography.  

We played 6 or 7 shows with the new song set list while including covers of “Cherry Bomb” and “You Keep Knocking’” as show closers.  Also during these shows, we were performing the rough drafts of “Lolita” and “They’re All Dead”.  I wanted to save these for a future recording date with a different approach.  Close to the summer of 99, I had stopped using long distance calling and PO Boxes.  It was easy to book a ton of shows with e-mails in that year, as many bands were still using the old methods.  I booked a mid-west tour and we made it two shows in before I broke up the band on stage.  I started making out with the door girl right in front of the stage after Mike threw his guitar at me during our 3-song set.  This would lead to my stay in Columbus, OH.  I moved in with the door girl the next day.  We got married a few months later but it was loose, unconventional, and based on a mutual love of frenzied self-destruction with good rock n roll always on the stereo.  We’re still friends but our parting of ways wasn’t very pretty, we were young and didn’t care too much about anything.  I had a ton of credit cards available to me when we first met and blew it all drinking and binging for about 6 months before cleaning up my act just enough to land a decent job and prepare the songs for the Inversions.  A friend of mine suggested I use the GC5 as a backing band.  They were on break from tour, talented musicians, and fast learners.  This would turn into the “Inversions”. 
   
ANGELO: Please tell us about the other music projects you have been involved in, like your side band from 2007, Grown Up Wrong, and Cheap Dates. 
KEVIN: I was living in Providence, Rhode Island for a bit with my friend Jami Sleaze inside of a merch room that part of his house.  I had a lot of fun there and will always have a fondness for New England and the hospitality the punk community there provided.  We had a make shift Prostitutes for a month or so, it didn’t amount to much, but sounded pretty good.  The band was me, Jami, and two girls named Connie and Meg.   I was pretty much penniless, doing set design on an indie film and cleaning houses while was there.


I was unfocused but beginning to write for the “Kill Them” album.  I wasn’t crazy about doing old material.  My ex-wife had hit major financial trouble in a freezing cold mid-west winter so I took the Amtrak back to help her with rent, stay in the basement, and make sure her health was okay.  I took a warehouse job while doing telemarketing.  My plan was to get my head straight after excessive indulgence in New England and figure out a new a plan. I placed an ad in Craigslist as a singer looking to front a band that sounded like the Pagans. The Popkie brothers responded and Grown Up Wrong was born.  Within two months, we wrote 8 songs, did 5 shows and made a lot of live and rehearsal recordings.  I hope the recordings are still out there, some of it was really good Thunders style rock n roll.  We even did a Teengenerate cover in our group of songs. They changed their name to the Cheap Dates after I quit the band.  Within 2 weeks I was offered a one-way trip to California by a girl that was huge fan of the song “Twenty-Two”.  I was miserable in the mid-west so I took the flight, and never looked back.    I liked the people that I hung out with and do not have any ill will towards them.  It was just time for me to go and see something new.   Live for the moment, right? When it’s time to leave, it’s time to go…    





ANGELO: As a refreshed band, the Prostitutes came back to the studio in 2008 to record the Kill Them Before They Eat album. Do you consider this album was an outgrowth of the Prostitutes early sound. Did the band reach their most representative effort with these recordings?

KEVIN: It was definitely more in line with what I wished that original lineup sounded like. The members featured on the artwork actually were only in the live version of the band. I did all of the vocals and guitars and Isyck James played drums and bass. We recorded it on a soundstage in Orange County and did the guitars and vocals in my girlfriend’s walk-in closet. I think my intention was to show that I could write tighter and more sophisticated songs without the trappings of street-punk or hardcore. If anything, I wanted the record to sound like a cross between the Buzzcocks and Fang.  I’m pretty happy with it looking back.  It was a recollection of my life in the 2000s put to music and words. I wouldn’t change it, but probably wouldn’t write that kind of record in 2014 as so much has changed for me. I take better care of myself nowadays and don’t wallow in depression as much as I used to. It gets old and stagnant. I never wanted to turn into one of those artists that sound like a broken record. A goal of mine throughout my recordings was to use a different vocal style and vibe so each release sounded like a different chapter in a book or something like that. 
   





ANGELO: Did it finally get release the vinyl version of Kill Them Before They Eat on Sonic Jett Records?

KEVIN: No, it never happened.  Joel Jett really tried to make it a reality but the economy collapsed that year. I think for all of us involved, survival was much more important than getting a release out on vinyl.  It would be great if one day it did, I’m very cool with people downloading it for free from Bandcamp.  I do love vinyl, but doing a vinyl release is very expensive. May Cause Dizziness handled the CD release and also wanted to do the vinyl at the time but I promised Joel first, so that’s what really went down. That’s the way life goes sometimes.  The cover art that Sonic Jett had designed for the vinyl was different and the song order was changed.  I think Joel’s vision of the album would’ve been a much improved one over the version I originally wanted.    

ANGELO: In 2009, another radical production, the Belle Ringer EP, came out. Please describe us how this E.P. was achieved. Why did you decide to release it on Finland's Hell's Tone Records?

KEVIN: Belle Ringer is based on the concept of staring into a pretty girl’s eyes while your ears are ringing from a super euphoric drug high.  I had flown to Phoenix courtesy of MCD Records during a horrendous time of fighting with the girl I lived with. The line-up from “Kill Them” in Long Beach had dissolved and I wanted to get away.  I stayed at Wes of Erratic! Radio’s house and wound up crashing in hotel room depressed out of my mind.  I got a flight back to Long Beach and wrote the tracks “Backstab” and “Psychward California” in my head while waiting for
the flight to arrive and during my reluctant trip back to the living hell I had just left.  Can you say hopeless suicidal romantic?  Most of my song themes revolve around relationships, euphoria, anger, and deep periods of depression. The concept of Belle Ringer is that beautiful beginnings have ugly endings. Mike Damus responded to an ad I placed after returning to LB. He was in Van Nuys and said he had a drummer. New Years of 2009 we played the songs and met for the first time in my apartment living room.  I told them I wanted to get a 7” out quickly and they agreed.  I
messaged Vesku of Hells Tone Records, he liked the band and said he would do a release.  I always wanted an overseas release.   “Annihilate from the Start” and “Poison Me” were songs that I didn’t have time to record for the “Kill Them Before They Eat” album. The EP was recorded in Huntington Park in an old factory near a meat packing plant.  Don Bolles of the Germs was living upstairs. We had a tiny room to record in called Anvil Studios.  The whole thing was done in two back-to-back days.  We could only use the studio from 9 am to 5 pm so we were limited.   Jeff Harris the engineer got a pretty decent raw sound that we liked.  I wanted it to sound like one of those old Killed By Death record productions.


  
ANGELO: What's your favourite era of the Prostitutes, including Mainliner and the Inversions?

KEVIN: I like them all in a different way.  Some days I’m very proud of them and other days I’m very critical of the sound of my voice and the mixes I used.  The Inversions is the one band I go back and listen to the most, as “They’re All Dead” is one song that came out exactly how I heard it in my head.  It also reflects my disillusionment with my years in music and the deaths of friends and difficulties that came with it.    

ANGELO: What's your main goal as editor and writer for your online magazine Fear & Loathing in Long Beach?
KEVIN: Writing is a true love of mine and I like to share my thoughts and opinions in hopes of connecting with others who feel the same.  We have between 10 to 20,000 readers per issue and I like to interview artists I admire and turn people on to music that I like. I’m always trying to grow it bigger but funds and time are limited. Mike Spent is a big contributor to the digital zine as well.  It’s a one man show as I do the editing, formatting, and design. 

 We’ve just added Wil Cohen as our zine photographer and he does some amazing photographic art.  It’s kind of my full time music thing nowadays and I’m always looking for ways to reach more people with it. I write for other sites too and it has given me more access to the world around me than my band years ever did.  I’m a different person nowadays or just a little more wise to the world. However, good music, interesting personalities, cool writing, and pretty girls are still rock n roll to me.  I’m just expressing myself in a different format and it has been an amazing experience so far. I didn’t set out with an agenda.  It’s similar to music for me. My gut feeling dictates where I’m going and what I’m doing next with it. I like to keep things loose in the sphere of ambition and expectation.      

ANGELO: I have been listening to some of your latest acoustic tracks. These really are rad punk rock songs! Do you have plans to release a new record soon?

KEVIN: Thank you. I’ve written a new EP and would like to get it recorded properly.  It’s a matter of finding a drummer and bass player that can jump in with a day or two of rehearsals, go into a studio and knock it out.  When it comes to music, I like to work fast and efficiently. I’d like to see where it goes and label interest never hurts. Otherwise, you lose your momentum and it turns into a stale affair. It’s not about money or “making a comeback”, I’m always writing music and think what I currently have penned would make for a good Prostitutes E.P. Writing is in my DNA whether someone digs it or not. I pursue my creative outlets incessantly because it’s all I really want to do.  I’m always excited to see what’s working its way around the corner next.  Whether it’s a nightmare or good news, it’s better than standing still. 

ANGELO: Thank you so much for the time, Kevin!




3 comments:

  1. excellent and in depth as always

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  2. Tremendous article! Kevin has such an amazing story to tell, and you did an incredible job of putting it all into words. This brings back so many memories of seeing the first two incarnations of The Prostitutes live - those shows were every bit as crazy as you might imagine!

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  3. Love The Prostitutes. Hope to hear more music form you Kev!

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