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“Noise-Rock Hero” Plays Homecoming Bay Area Shows – CBS SF Bay Area

Noise-Rock Hero Plays Homecoming Bay Area Shows – CBS SF Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Former East Bay resident and noted purveyor of noise rock Conan Neutron brings his current tour backed by his Secret Friends to the Bay Area for a pair of homecoming shows this weekend in SF and Oakland.

A longtime Oakland resident, Neutron was the principle creative force behind the East Bay noise-punk outfit Replicator with bassist Ben Adrian (who later played in Cartographer) and drummer Chris Bolig during the 2000s. Echoing the lurching, dissonant sounds of such influential ’90s acts as the Jesus Lizard, Melvins and SF’s own Steel Pole Bathtub, the group built up a small but loyal fan base over the course of several albums and U.S. tours.

The group dissolved amicably in 2008, with Neutron initially working with Bolig in the still noisy but somewhat more traditional rock group Mount Vicious. Neutron would then spend a number of years touring and recording with anthemic post-punk band Victory and Associates, as well as co-founding and organizing PRF BBQ West, a series of multi-day festivals in Oakland that hosted an eclectic group of noisy, heavy bands from the Bay Area and abroad for several years running.

conan neutron Noise Rock Hero Plays Homecoming Bay Area Shows

A few years ago, he began a new loose-limbed partnership with Melvins drummer Dale Crover and bassist Tony Ash (of Louisville, KY’s Trophy Wives) under the moniker Conan Neutron and the Secret Friends. Though their first effort The Enemy of Everyone in 2015 was more of a traditional power trio (with co-producer Toshi Kasai adding percussion and vocals and Oxbow singer Eugene Robinson providing vocals on the song “Fight Math”), their savage follow-up The Art of Murder drew on collaborators from a variety of bands including Crover’s partner in the Melvins, Buzz Osborne. Neutron also launched his punk-focused Nope Radio podcast Protonic Reversal featuring interviews with such renowned musicians as Black Flag/OFF! singer Keith Morris and Eagles of Death Metal/earthlings? guitarist Dave Catching.

Neutron has since left relocated to Milwaukee (he helped with the first PRF BBQ there last summer), but this week he returns to the Bay Area with the touring line-up of the Secret Friends featuring Ash on bass, his former Replicator/Mount Vicious partner Bolig on drums and Erica Strout (of Motherf–ker fame) on guitar. Instead of a traditional album, Neutron and company recently launched their Proton and Electrons split single series. The even dozen limited edition 7-inch singles set to be released over the next year will feature a new Conan Neutron and the Secret Friends song on one side and a tune by a band that has collaborated with Neutron and friends on the flip.

For the show at the Hemlock Tavern Friday, Neutron and the Secret Friends will be joined by like-minded SF band Quivers (who are the band featured on the just released second Proton and Electrons single) and experimental prog/punk project Lords of Sealand. On Saturday, the group plays the newly opened Elbo Room Jack London with an opening set from SF instrumental quartet Roland and a headlining performance by one-man noise wrecking crew Reptoid.

Conan Neutron and the Secret Friends

Friday, March 23, 8:30 p.m. $8
Hemlock Tavern

Saturday, March 24, 9 p.m. $7
Elbo Room Jack London…

“Weird music by weirdos, for weirdos” – Feature Interview w/Conan Neutron – Milwaukee Record

Weird music by weirdos, for weirdos: Chatting with Milwaukee-via-Oakland musician Conan Neutron

Despite the decentralizing power of technology, there still exists the un-killable notion of musicians leaving whatever flyover states they grew up in and “making it” on one of the coasts. Conan Neutron has it all wrong: Last June, the Oakland, California punk musician packed up after 22 years in the Bay Area and moved to the Midwestern climes of Milwaukee, taking the spirit of his band (if not all the members), Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends, with him. A revolving super group of sorts (the current recording lineup features Melvins’ drummer Dale Crover, and former Coliseum and Trophy Wives member Tony Ash), Neutron and company are no strangers to Milwaukee, with the singer-songwriter’s former band, Victory And Associates, once a part of Milwaukee’s Latest Flame Records. But now, as much as any group with members spread throughout the country can be (other Secret Friends call Athens and San Francisco home), Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends are officially a Milwaukee band.

This Friday at Club Garibaldi, the group will celebrate the release of their first “Protons and Electrons” split seven-inch, backed with a track from Trophy Wives. Eleven more seven-inches will be released over as many months, eventually adding up to a full album. Before the tour-kickoff show (which will also feature sets from Body Futures and Guerilla Ghost), Milwaukee Record spoke to Neutron about his music (“Weird music by weirdos, for weirdos,” he says), moving to the middle of the country, and doing other “stupid” stuff.

Milwaukee Record: So let’s get the big question out of the way: Why move from California to Wisconsin? What are your ties to Milwaukee?

Conan Neutron: Basically, they’re all from touring. My old band, whenever we’d come through town, we would always play Milwaukee and have a great time. Some of my closest friends are from touring, a large portion of which live in Milwaukee. The IfIHadAHiFi guys being some of them.

We didn’t leave the Bay Area because we disliked it, it was pretty much a matter of being priced out. It was a choice between having a life where you can really lay into the things you really want to do, or fight as hard as you can just to stay above water. Moving to a place with a lower cost of living makes it easier to do that kind of thing. Especially for me, with my main creative pursuit being Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends, we’re all spread out anyway, so it didn’t make a lot of sense to stay in Oakland, especially with everything skyrocketing. So we narrowed it down to a bunch of different cities, and Milwaukee was definitely attractive because we had an existing base of friends. There’s a lot in common between Oakland and Milwaukee—there are a lot of differences as well—but that’s how we ended up heading east from the Wild West. [laughs]

MR: What are some of those differences and similarities between the two cities?

CN: The Bay Area is very concerned with technology, with apps, and with things along those lines. That’s where all the energy is focused, whereas actual art…The Bay Area is world-renowned, for good reason, for being a hotbed of different types of art, whether its visual, comics, music, etc. But the focus in the past decade has changed toward tech, and there’s so much going on at any given moment in time, that there’s almost too much of everything. Which, by the nature of availability, kind of devalues the experience. Not necessarily devaluing playing for the sake of playing, but it makes it a different kind of thing.

This isn’t a new thing. I think most bands, or most bands that tour, will say, “People didn’t really get into us until we got bigger around the country.” That’s a pretty common refrain, and it’s that way for a reason. Outside validation. There’s a record label named World Famous in San Francisco. And that’s totally a thing. [laughs] It happens in a lot of areas, where a local band is very well known. But the World Famous in San Francisco attitude is hilarious because it’s so true, because people don’t even go to Oakland for shows, or go to Berkeley for shows. That’s kind of against my mindset.

I’m a communitarian at heart. I got into punk rock to give back a little bit, to give back to something that’s given to me in so many ways. I don’t consider it a musical genre as much as a lifestyle ethos. I don’t mean liberty spikes and bullet belts, but critical thinking, looking out for a community, etc. It increasingly became known to me that I could do a lot more good out here than I could back in the Bay Area, and provide a better life for ourselves while doing it, and have more resources to actually do those things. More resources to tour, more resources to put out records.

MR: You mentioned in an email that people are always confused when you tell them you moved here from California.

CN: [laughs] People are always looking for a specific reason. “Oh, I moved out here for a job,” or, “I moved out here because of a long-distance relationship.” But nobody ever asks that in California. Nobody ever asks, “Why did you move here from Wisconsin?” There’s always the soft tyranny of diminished expectations that comes from being a working-class, Midwestern city. But it’s like, what are you talking about? There are plenty of reasons to live here! It’s great!

MR: How does a band that’s spread across the country function as a recording unit versus a touring unit?

CN: There are two distinctly different things. By nature of my name being on the marquee, so to speak, this is more my thing than any band I’ve ever been in. As a recording thing, it started out with me writing a bunch of songs. I was inspired …

Protons and Electrons: Atom 1 – Litany of Grievances / Trophy Wives – Tomorrowland

Hello! This is “A Litany of Grievances” the new single from Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends (Me: guitar/Vocals, Tony Ash: Bass, Dale Crover: Drums). This is Atom 1, the first volume of a 12 volume series called “Protons and Electrons”. Each Protons and Electrons volume features a great band on the B-side that either plays in Secret Friends, Records with Secret Friends or has some heavy relevance to how Neutron Friends came to be. In this case the other band is TROPHY WIVES, their first release in quite some time. Trophy Wives features the low end majesty of Mr. Tony Ash. Tony and I were label mates with previous bands and toured on multiple occasions. If I am the brain of the Secret Friends, he is absolutely the heart. It would probably exist without him, but I wouldn’t want it too. As per always the incredible Toshi Kasai is in the producer’s chair on this one, engineering and mixing as well, and in this case Cristy Joy provided some excellent background vocals.

The B-Side song: Trophy Wives – “Tomorrowland” was always a favorite of mine live, and it’s a pleasure to have it associated with this series. It’s an ass kicker.
Bob Weston of Chicago Mastering Company mastered and cut the lacquer.

This 7” is available for immediate purchase at $8 each, each one comes in a limited edition hand screened jacket by Christopher Williams of Plastic Flame Press, shipping later in March.
You can also purchase a digital version through bandcamp or through any of the usual ways one does that (as of later this week).

To say that this is a massive undertaking is an understatement of the highest order. It has been a grueling and involved process that is now just beginning to pay off with the actual release. Take all of the hassles of one release and multiply it by a dozen, and then involve other bands as well… yeah… let’s go ahead and say I have some tales. Yet, this is the way we wanted to present this material to you, as singles… months by months as part of this series.
What you will see is a digital single every month, followed by a physical single of the same song the next one.

If you wish you can purchase a “Friends of the Neutron” subscription and guarantee yourself a copy of each one as well as copies of the entire back catalog digitally, a custom t-shirt and another fun surprise. Either way, this is here for you to listen to now, and that makes us very happy. Spread the word!

Conversion.

hi everybody, long time no talk?
(in this format anyway)
Alright so in celebration of Bandcamp’s day of action for Trans Rights, we’d like to present you with “Conversion” a NeutronFriends song sung by our friend Ashley Altadonna from The Glacial Speed Conan Neutron-Guitar, Tony Ash-Bass, Dale Crover-Drums, Sean Kirkpatrick of Nervous Curtains-Piano, Moog, Synth.

A powerful song sung about the horrifying “conversion therapy” process.

This was released in conjunction with bandcamps day of action for trans rights, 100% of the proceeds for this song go to the Transgender Law Center, a nonprofit organization that works tirelessly to change law, policy, and culture for the more equitable. Please enjoy, consider purchasing a copy and remember to support equal rights for all.

(Oh yeah, there are a couple of other tunes on there as well, and you can buy the whole Secret Friends digital discography for under $6 this weekend. Also going to the Transgender Law Center

Also, a bunch of new Secret Friends stuff coming up soon. )…

Shiny Grey Monotone Interview with Conan

Conan answered some questions from Shiny Grey Monotone.

Here it is: Secret Friends are discussed, as well as Replicator, Mount Vicious, Victory and Associates all with candor and honesty.
Dale Crover, David Yow, Industrial guest appearances Radio NOPE and damn near everything else.

Also includes a weighty “awesome band” list is that would be a worthy homework assignment for any discerning rocker. I can already think of at least a half dozen bands I forgot to include. Damn!

Here it is.

conan neutron.
you may recognize the name.
and even if you don’t you’ll still find yourself saying “that’s a pretty kick-ass name. why couldn’t my parents name me conan neutron. i hate my parents!” and then running into your room and slamming the door behind you and then cranking up the stereo. and this is the point where’d you’d forgotten that you hadn’t taken out that BEST OF ABBA cd and now everyone knows your dirty little secret.

moving on.

and before all of this begins i need to clear something up: conan is in no way shape or form related to jimmy. don’t bring it up.  the last time that happened it wasn’t so nice. you may have heard about it on the news.

also: never mention that pointer sisters song either. just don’t.

moving on.

some of you may have heard of some bands with names like:
replicator
mount vicious
victory and associates

you may have even seen them around here on SGM island.
and if you haven’t you’ve just been voted off.

nowadays he’s fronting/playing guitar in a band with some of his secret friends.
and no i’m not going to tell you who they are.
that’s his job.

Q: seeing as how you and your secret friends league have just been brought up…tell us all about that.

A: Sure, this is like my weirdo rock version of the Avengers, or something. Every player is a superstar totally capable of badass acts of heroism and power on their own, but coming together for a greater purpose. I suppose that would make me Captain America. I guess Tony Ash is Iron Man and Dale Crover is the Hulk? Wait, no Thor. Toshi Kasai is… uh… Nick Fury?
Wait… this is dumb.
Another way to look at it, is this is my version of the the Bad Seeds or something. The players sometimes change and cycle in, but the basic core remains the same and the songs come from me originally before being twisted, contorted and shaped into whatever dark forces come together at the end. It’s my version of rock ‘n roll. And that includes a world where Melvins, Bon Scott era AC/DC, DEVO, Unwound, The Jesus Lizard and Thin Lizzy all should be lauded equally. You get me? It’s rock, but with the no bullshit or excuses attitude that can only come from people that live and breathe punk rock/noise rock or whatever the hell you want to call it.
From my standpoint, it’s a little bit of every band I’ve ever been in, and a little bit something entirely different, I’m writing the kind of music I’d like to hear and trying to use all of the lessons I’ve learned over the years to make that a really cool thing. I’m surrounded by great and brilliant people and one of the best rhythm sections a guitarist could hope for. Pretty cool.

Q: dale crover. does he still like to stand around the water cooler and wait for folks to walk by so he can tell some of his grunge stories?

A: oh, constantly! He’s always like: “Man, this one time Tad and I pants-ed Krist Noviselic and he…” and we’re like: “OK! COOL DUDE, WE GET IT.”
No, in all seriousness Dale is one of the sweetest dudes in the world, and all of us have tour stories or crazy back in the day stories. It just so happens that some of his involve people that are incredibly, incredibly famous. It’s easy to forget because he’s such a nice fella.
Although he is always shouting: “ok boys, I really want you to GRUNGE OUT on this next one.”
Don’t know what all that is about.

Q: and seeing as how the secret friends are somewhat embedded into the melvins mythos…could there be a possible tour or collaboration of some sort?

A:Well, as far as collaboration. Buzz does backups on two of the songs on Art of the Murder, so that’s sort of already happened… it’s just under my banner so far fewer people paid attention. HAHAHAHA. That said, even with Dale playing drums for me it’s important to note that Melvins are one of my favorite bands of all time. It’s not lost on me, you know? There’s been talk. So far, that’s been it. That said, I think the two acts would compliment each other in interesting ways. Not just for the obvious shared member either.
Who knows? If it did, I would consider myself very lucky indeed to be even further involved in their world. They are the real deal as artists and humans and work harder than any band I can think of. I respect the hell out of their art , their fearlessness and their process, bands could learn a lot from how the Melvins work.

Q: now let’s travel back a bit. when i mention the name replicator what kind of feelings does it invoke? you were together for 8 years. what brought all of that to an end?

A: Great feelings! I loved that band and loved my time in it. We did everything exactly the way we wanted to do it and did a bunch of weird stuff that some people seemed to enjoy. It was completely on our terms and ended when it should have, cool. It meant something to some people, and I’m pretty sure we left the world a wee but better than how it was when that band came into being, or at least

Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends: The Art of Murder SW014

Hello, we’ve killed again… I MEAN… put out another record. This is another Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends album.
As per normal:
I play guitar and do vocals.
Tony Ash plays bass.
Dale Crover plays drums.

Toshi Kasai produces and engineers.

We like it, perhaps you will too.
The whole thing is a concept record about and around the world of Hannibal Lecter.
CDs ship immediately, vinyl in June of 2016, Spotify and all that pretty soon…
Easiest thing is to buy it through the band “bandcamp” site, it’ll be available other places soon enough.
ok? ok.

Notes:

This record was written and mostly arranged leisurely between November 7th, 2014 and March 7th 2015 by Conan Neutron. Tracks were given final arrangements and recorded at Sound of Sirens studio in Sun Valley, CA between May14th-18th, 2015 by Toshi Kasai. Mixing was done at Sound of Sirens between June 12th- July 28th. 2015 by Toshi Kasai.

Mastering was done at Chicago Mastering Company by Bob Weston: September 2015

Art and layout by Rick Froberg

This record was directly inspired by the Hannibal Lecter series of books by Thomas Harris. Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal and the fascinating interpersonal dynamics between the characters within. As well as some of the other associated material around the characters of said stories. Certain phrases are cited in the lyrical content and are done so with the utmost respect and admiration.

Thanks to Lindsey Neutron, Stephanie Vogt, Jordan Sobolew, Michael Marchant, Erica Strout, Lindsey Charles, Kevin Burkett and the Electrical Guitar Company and to all of the rest of the Friends of the Neutron out there. Secret, explicit or otherwise.

www.neutronfriends.com

All songs © Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Sharealike 3.0 unported (CC BY-NC-SA3.0)
creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
credits
released March 1, 2016

Engineering/Production: Toshi Kasai
Vocals/Guitar: Conan Neutron
Bass: Tony Ash
Drums: Dale Crover
Additional Synth/Organ and Strings: Conan Neutron
Additional Vocals on Avid Fan and Chair of Antlers: Buzz Osborne
Additional Vocals on Eat the Rude and Chair of Antlers: Tony Ash
Additional Harmony Vocals on Quid Pro Quo and The Doctor Will See You Now: Dana Poblete
Additional Percussion and Vocals: Toshi Kasai
Additional Percussion: Dale Crover

I Heart Noise – Premieres “Avid Fan” from the Art of Murder

It is true! Boston noisenik afficianados I Heart Noise are premiering a song off of “The Art of Murder”.

Their first premiere ever, EVER! What a premiere too, since this specific one also features Mr. Buzz Osborne on backup vocals.
What? Yes. Buzz.

The Art of Murder – Chesapeake Ripper


First song on the second record.

Engineering/Production: Toshi Kasai

Vocals/Guitar: Conan Neutron

Bass: Tony Ash

Drums: Dale Crover

“Organ”: Toshi Kasai…