Archive for September, 2008

Hugely biased gig review

September 29, 2008

While it would clearly be better for someone else to review the gig, no one seems to be rushing to do so.  I can only ascribe the negligence to some kind of global internet failure and not to apathy.

Where to begin?  I was a little disappointed in the turn-out, having been fairly confident that we would get somewhere around 150.  In the end, it was 120.  Ah, well, it’s a start.  And this gig truly was out start, as I’ve written elsewhere, inasmuch as we were the only band playing and it was not only Ira’s first gig with us, but her first gig ever.  More on that later.

Des (O’Brien’s manager, who was really positive and helpful on the night) was a little but scared when he saw the gear we had brought.  Two 200-watt guitar amps, a 300-watt bass amp and a full P.A. system.  He was under the impression that it might be a bit loud.  I reassured him that it wouldn’t be and was unknowingly lying through my teeth.  It was bloody loud!

Everyone changed into the gig togs, some showing considerably more imagination than others.  Mick wore his patriotic Leeds 6 shirt and his way-over-the-top (in a good way) leopard skin drape, as well as the ubiquitous leather porkpie hat.  Ira went glam-o-rama, in zebra skin pants, high heels and pink halter top (she is a show-off.)  Dave and I were the fashion zeroes, both of us wearing stuff like we wear daily.  Losers.

Started off with a roaring version of “Sonic Reducer.”  I thought it sounded really tight and was feeling pretty good about things.  Maksim the Sound Guy, though, was still working out the levels, meaning that my mike couldn’t be heard.  However, any of you who have ever heard me sing will know that this was no great loss.  Mick remembered all the words and Ira was well into her rock star posing, which later reached the true heights of hair-metal.

“The KKK Took My Baby Away” got a good round of applause when we played it for a sound check, and repeated its success when we played it for real.  It’s a great tune and – let’s face it – it’s hard to fuck up.  And we didn’t.

“White Riot” rocked too.  We only recently added it to the set and I’m glad we did.

“Bodies” was possibly the highlight of the night.  The beginning sounded meaty and I love playing this one.  By this time, Ira’s rather attractive friends were dancing away right in front of us.  Despite this raw display of female Ukrainian pulchritude, Mick and managed to stay “on message” and keep our minds on chords and lyrics, but it wasn’t easy.

I’m far too lazy to describe every song, so here’s a rough round-up:   Teenage Kicks, Human Fly, Blitzkrieg Bop, Brand New Cadillac, Peter Gunn and Rockaway Beach all turned out well (though I think our inclusion of Peter Gunn had a few people scratching their heads.)

I Fought the Law, Pretty Vacant, Mamma Mia and Sound of Silence were slightly ropey, with some muffed lyrics and a couple of other flubs, but nothing disastrous.  Some people I spoke to later really liked the idea of us doing Mamma Mia and Sound of Silence, though, so far from a total debacle.

Despite the fact that I unaccountably blew a riff in Baby Elephant Walk, it went over really well!  It’s such a weird song to play that I love it.  I vote for Eine Kleine Nachtmusik to be added!

Things were put back in complete order with Anarchy in the U.K., God Save the Queen (no protests from any monarchists present) and Sheena Is A Punk Rocker.  By this time, Mick and Ira were in full flow, with Mick having shed both drape and hat and looking imperious in his muscle shirt.  If he could now develop muscles, we’d be away.  Ira, meanwhile, was off on Planet Poison, doing Nigel Tuffnel-esque leanbacks and nearly somersaults in her quest to win the 1st International Rock Posing Competition.  With her high heel up on the monitor, I had a brief mental glimpse of Gene Simmons, but Ira’s a lot nicer to look at.

I was beginning to fear total hearing loss by this time.  It felt as though my head was imploding anytime I got to close to the P.A. columns, which sent me scurrying back to my place, only to realise that my monitor was also blasting at brain damage level.  Such are the dangers of rock ‘n’ roll.

I Wanna Be Your Dog always brings out the best in Mick and this time was no exception.  He nailed it and I could see some serious pogo-ing going on in the audience, despite my averting my eyes from the aforementioned front-row babes.

We ended with a raucous version of Louie Louie.  Is there anyone who doesn’t love that song?  I didn’t think so.

We trooped off very tired, cognizant of mistakes made and in need of improvement, but overall pretty damned happy. 

And, we found out that we’ve been asked to support Asleep in the Park and @Traktor at Bochka on October 5th, which pleases me no end.

See ya.


Gig ad from What’s On, Kiev (Kyiv)

September 24, 2008

From What’s On Kiev

Old-School Ex-Pat Punkers Taking the Stage at O’Brien’s
The C-Men in concert, O’Brien’s Pub (17a Mikhailivska), 27 September at 21:30
Billing themselves as Kyiv’s oldest punk band (in terms of the members’ ages), the C-Men will take the stage at ex-pat bastion O’Brien’s to play classic punk, including songs by the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Iggy Pop and more (they’ll also throw in pop classics by the likes of ABBA, because why not?). The ex-pat-heavy band includes members from outfits like the Death Valley Screamers, Speeding Lisa and the Ukrainians. Put on your black jeans and your high-top Chuck Taylors and go pogo your brains out.
For more information call 279-1584.

From the Kyiv Post:

The C-Men

The C-Men Courtesy photo
The C-Men is Kyiv’s new punk rock band comprised of Mick Lake (Death Valley Screamers), Blair Sheridan  and Irina Nalivaiko – both of Speeding Lisa and Dave Lee (formerly, The Ukrainians). Ukraine has a lot of great bands, but none of them seem to be playing classic punk, so The C-Men have decided to try and correct this mistake. At their upcoming gig, musicians will play The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, Iggy Pop, as well as a bunch of pop classics such as ABBA in punk arrangements.

Pre-gig angst

September 24, 2008

Just three days and one rehearsal left before The C-Men hit the “stage” (there isn’t one) at O’Brien’s.

I’m naturally nervous, as this is really our first gig together.  When we played for Sean’s birthday out at Skolmo, Ira was still ill, so it wasn’t the “real C-Men line-up” (but, again, thanks go out to Euan for filling in so superbly on bass.)  Also, 8 bands played that night, whereas it’s us and only us on Saturday.  Lastly, the Skolmo gig was marked by the “samogon incident.”  Brrr…

It’s bound to be a fairly crazy day.  Aside from the nerves, I’m got to deal with a list of things to do to make as certain as possible that everything goes as it should.  Apart from cleaning strings, adjusting necks, checking/changing batteries, etc., I’ve got to see to it that the rented gear gets to O’Brien’s and gets set up on-time and properly.  By the way, anyone who would like to help me out in the latter is GUARANTEED free admission and a free beer or two from me.  Then, we’ve got to learn the ins and outs of the gear and do at least a cursory sound check, possibly over strenuous objections from football-watching drinkers.

I only hope I’ll have time to have my traditional pre-gig massage and a shower before we go on.

Today, we’ll have our last rehearsal, then all will be in the hands of the gods.

With that in mind, I raise the following prayers:

To Jammus, the god of Kyiv Traffic: please let us get equipment to the pub on time and without too much hassle.

To Apathetus, god of “Music Lovers”: lead thy people to the pub to support us.

To Mnemnos, god of Memory:  let not thy sons and daughter forget their parts and fuck everything up.

To Boozus, god of Alcohol:  get thee behind me!


Gig promo poster

September 22, 2008

Soaked through, but looking forward…

September 19, 2008
Love Mick's face.

Love Mick

Had a C-Men photo session yesterday.  One of Ira’s friends is a semi-professional photographer named Zhanna, who was kind enough to give up nearly 5 hours of her time to take shots of some of the least professional models she’s ever likely to meet.

Among the natural obstacles (driving, cold rain and overall misery of the day,) Zhanna had to deal with Mick’s gurning, Ira’s insane hair, Blair’s idiocy and trying to get Dave to show up on film.

We were all soaked through and did a fair amount of whining, but are looking forward to see the fruits of our ridiculous labours.

Wheels within wheels

September 15, 2008

The fallout from the Russo-Georgian war continues to settle.

The initial claim from many media outlets and pundits in the West was to the effect that the war was unmistakably kicked off by Russia.  Then, we began to hear strains of uncertainty, i.e. maybe Saakashvili was the one who actually started things off.  Notably, a couple of U.S. political commentators began back-tracking by saying something along the lines of “well, it doesn’t really matter who started things…” a sure sign that they thought that Georgia was less than squeaky clean.

However, by far the most outstanding piece of jiggery-pokery has to come from Ethan S. Burger, who writes:

I have heard from a several individuals who work on Russian affairs full-time that Russia had “its people” within Georgian President Mekhail Saakashvilli’s inner circle and the Georgian military who encouraged the Georgian President to assert control over South Ossetia, thus providing Russia a pretext for invading Georgia. I do not know whether such allegations are true or not, but I find them interesting. I find it unfortunate that the U.S. Department of State did not have VERY senior people as well as White House officials dispel any misconceptions that the Georgian President had with respect to U.S. support.

So, there you have it folks:  Georgia started the war, but only because there were Russian spies whispering in Saakasvili’s ear.  If this is going to be the new narrative, I reply with a resounding feh.


Having read this, I have to wonder if the Georgian government also thinks that convincing people that Russia attacked first (despite the tapes alledgedly proving this,) is going to be harder than they had hoped.

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 18 Sep.’08 / 20:18  

Although a question ‘who started war’ is not appropriate at all, the probe is anyway needed to reveal flaws in the actions of the state agencies in the time of combat operations this August, a parliamentary minority leader, MP Giorgi Targamadze, said on September 18.

Speaking at a parliamentary session on September 18, in response to the President Saakashvili’s annual state of the nation address two days ago, MP Targamadze, who is the leader of Christian-Democratic Party, said he welcomed the President’s readiness to cooperate in investigating the August events. He, however, said a setting up of a parliamentary investigative commission was needed and not simply of a group of rapporteurs in the parliament as proposed by the President.

“Who has launched this war? We do not ask this question,” MP Giorgi Targamadze said. “The war was launched by the Russian Federation 20 years ago… But many mistakes have been done by the Georgian authorities, including underestimation of the Russia’s factor.”

“We have questions, which will be asked during the work of this commission, including, among others, towards the intelligence service [chaired by ex-foreign minister, Gela Bezhuashvili], whether this agency knew or not that the Russian armed forces were preparing the attack.”

“We also wonder how the customs department and the border police acted at that time; as far as we know not all of them acted in good faith,” Targamadze said. The Border Police is chaired by Badri Bitsadze, a husband of ex-parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze.

He also criticized the decision the government made years ago to abolish a state reserves agency. MP Giorgi Targamadze said in this context that the authorities had no stockpiles of the most urgent staff to prove internally displaced person in early days of the conflict because of that decision. In these remarks MP Targamadze was apparently attacking Kakha Bendukidze, a former state minister for coordinating economic reforms and now chief of the government’s administration.

A lawmaker from the ruling party, Giorgi Gabashvili, who spoke on behalf of the parliamentary majority, reiterated that the government was ready to answer to all the questions.

He said that the fact how state agencies acted during hostilities would become a matter of special investigation. “Just openness makes us different from our enemies,” he added.

The perils of absinthe

September 15, 2008

Rehearsal again last night, as we try to get the set in shape for what is really our Kyiv debut.  Though things are really starting to come together and we’re adding songs to the set at a pretty good pace, there’s still some work to do before we get to the level where we’re confident that people will be blown away and will never want to see another band in their lives…EVER.

Before rehearsal, I tripped along to Bochka to meet an old friend of mine from the Montreal Wanderers Rugby Club.  Aaron’s been living and working in NYC for a while now, but he still appreciates a good beer and was (suitably) impressed with Chernihivske Svitle – a lovely beer (and if Chernihivske would like to sponsor us, we’d be only too happy to drink ourselves into alcoholism for the cause.) 

A certain other band member joined me at Bochka.  We all had a couple of beers and I got ready to go, but this unnamed member (“member,” so as not to say “dick” ) insisted upon a parting shot of absinthe.  As I am afraid of anything that green and vile-smelling, I declined and had my boring old screwdriver.  Those finished, we headed off.

Suffice to say that I now know why absinthe was banned for so long in some European countries.  My colleague soon found even switching his amp on to be a task of Augean stable proportions.

Perhaps not the best time for our friends from Australian band Asleep in the Park (got to their page and listen to the excellent music) to drop in on our rehearsal since – in addition to extreme drunkenness – we were suffering from the “weren’t you supposed to play that part – no, YOU were” disease.)  Ah well, live and learn and it was nice to see them again.

Asleep in the Park is doing at least 10 dates around Ukraine over the next 3 weeks, so I hope that some of the Kyiv-based among you will go check them out, as they’re well worth it.

About The C-Men (possibly the world’s greatest band. I SAID “possibly”)

September 12, 2008

Vasyl of UAMUZIK wrote a very nice piece about us here, but I thought I’d give a little more background.

The idea of forming a band to cover punk classics came to me sometime last winter.  I’ve seen a lot of great bands here, but never heard anyone doing the good ol’ Pistols, Clash, etc.  When I was playing in Speeding Lisa, there was more or less a moratorium on punk stuff, so I was itching to find an opportunity to play them.

After getting to know Mick from Death Valley Screamers pretty well, I asked him what he thought about it.  He was very enthusiastic, but also very drunk, so I made sure to call him the next day to rope him in, which I did.  He said he wanted to be the frontman, to which I agreed with the greatest pleasure!

Ira had been playing with Speeding Lisa, so when that fell apart, she (a punk lover, too) was quite happy to take a chance on something new.  So, we had two guitars and a bass in the picture and now began the daunting drummer search.

Drummers are always hard to find.  It takes a long time to be a good one, in my opinion.  Plus, the gear’s really expensive, so drummers tend to be few and far between.  I was expecting a torturous search…

But, lo!  Who, it turns out, is a drummer?  None other than Dave Lee, intrepid radio show host, graphic gizmo artist and funnyman!  I hadn’t had any idea up until then, but Dave had played with an English band called, somewhat prophetically, The Ukrainians (which had grown out of The Wedding Present.)  Dave has an encyclodpaedic knowledge of music and favours punk.

So that was it – all the parts were in place.

And now, we’ll see how well the machine works, when we play our first real gig.


Be there!

Anyway, you can check out our main wesbite HERE, or see us on Facebook and MySpace.

The C-Men’s MySpace Page

September 12, 2008

Is here, for anyone who cares.

May I gush, in a rather Ed Grimley-ish way?

The C-Men MySpace site now been befriended by two of my all-time favourite bands, D.O.A. and Propagandhi. 

For those of you not in the know, D.O.A. is legendary in Canada.  They’re now in their 30th year (though the line-up has changed, with only the founder and demi-god Joey “Shithead” Keithley being constant.)  I first heard them way back in high school, in my friend Tim Nearing’s basement.  He put on “War on 45“…and that was it: I was hooked.  I still am.  “I’m RIght, You’re Wrong,” “I Hate You” or “I Am Canadian” still put a smile on my face and a riff in my head every time I hear them.  Read more about them here and here.

Further living proof of Canada’s musical pedigree is Propagandhi a “progressive thrash” band from Winnipeg.  I think I have everything they’ve ever done.  I first heard of them while reading a review of their album (I think it was “LessTalk, More Rock”) on a great site know as Ruthless Reviews.  The guys at Ruthless have never let me down in their reviews of movies, thought I, so this album that they’re praising to the skies must be good.  I bought it and it was more than good:  it changed my life, in a way.  Alas, I’ve never seen them live, so please Propagandhi, find a way to come within a few hundred miles of Ukraine on your next European trip.

Read a much more eloquent description of Propagandhi (plus great photos, interview, etc.) here.

There was a time in the late 80s-early 90s that I thought the best music in the world was coming out of Canada.  There were so many extraordinary bands playing.  Then, it seemed as though we were Celine Dion-ned into submission.  I’m cautiously optimistic that Canada’s going through another great musical renaissance.  And no – not because of Nickelback.

“Russia destroyed our coalition” – Yushchenko

September 5, 2008

Is he kidding?  It appears not.  Continuing the Ukrainian political tradition of slandering without any proof, Yushchenko claims that Russia has bought out Yulia Tymoshenko and used her to bring the Rada BYuT-NUNS coalition to ruin.

Really, you’d think he’d be grateful to Tymoshenko for there being a coalition at all!  NUNS, of which Yushchenko is the spiritual leader, won a paltry 72 seats in the Rada and should have been thankful for anything they got.  Instead, Yushchenko acted as if he had a strong majority in the Rada, throwing his tiny electoral weight around.

As usual, he apportions none of the blame for the political crisis to himself, which is nutty, considering his prolonged use of the Baloga troll to hurl accusations of incompetence, corruption and – yes – high treason at YuT and her government.

Simply amazing.

Ющенко обвиняет Москву в развале коалиции

05.09.2008 10:49___ http://www.ПРАВДА

Президент Украины Виктор Ющенко заявляет, что политический кризис в Украине инспирирован Москвой, но Киев не сойдет с пути интеграции с Евросоюзом и НАТО.

Об этом он сказал в интервью британскому деловому журналу “The Financial Times”, который в числе за 5 сентября вмещает материал с названием “Ющенко обвиняет Москву в развале коалиции”, сообщает “Би-Би-Си“.

В своем интервью для “Financial Times” глава украинского государства отметил, что собственно Россия помогла разжечь политический кризис в Украине.

На вопрос имеет ли он какие-то тому подтверждения, Ющенко ответил, что его бывшая соратница Юлия Тимошенко имела определенные переговоры с, как отметил украинский президент, “иностранными силами”.

Развал коалиции, как по Ющенко, – это не результат сугубо украинской деятельности.

Президент также добавил, что Украина осуществила необратимые шаги в направлении построения демократии и, по мнению украинского руководителя, именно “демократическое” решение нынешней проблемы будет найдено.

Ющенко назвал то, что происходит сейчас на верхушке украинской политики, – битвой за власть. И из этой битвы Украина, по его мнению, выйдет еще более сильной и закаленной. “Танков на улицах не будет”, – передает “Би-Би-Си”.

Вместе с тем, в интервью “FT” Ющенко подчеркнул, что, несмотря на коллапс прозападной коалиции, Украина таки будет прилагать усилия для продвижения к Европейскому Союзу и НАТО.

По мнению президента Украины, даже если и будет создана новая коалиция при участии пророссийских сил, поддержка европейской интеграции Украины и в дальнейшем будет оставаться мощной.

Политическая и бизнес-элита Украины, которая стоит за большинством политических сил страны, все больше высказывает поддержку членству в Евросоюзе и в меньшей мере в НАТО, передает “Би-Би-Си”.

Между тем, “Daily Times”, размещая комментарий обозревателя Кона Кохлина относительно попыток России и особенно ее премьера Владимира Путина выстроить новую российскую империю, отмечает, что ныне Москва “может утешиться тем, что присутствие ее войск в Грузии спровоцировала глубокое политическое разделение в Киеве, где украинская премьер Юлия Тимошенко получила обвинения от президента Ющенко в союзе с пророссийским лидером оппозиции Януковичем”.

Журнал подытоживает, что Москве не стоит всегда рассчитывать на военную потугу чтобы переделывать географические границы в свою пользу. “Иногда здесь достаточно умелой манипуляции местными политиками, как собственно сейчас и происходит в Украине”, – пересказывает “Би-Би-Си”.