Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends – Atom 2 is available to listen to and purchase!
Secret Friends is Conan Neutron on guitar and vocals / Tony Ash on bass and Dale Crover of the Melvins on drums. Toshi Kasai engineers and produces. This song trends towards the poppy/hooky side of the band and is called “Hate Secretary”
Atom 2 of 12 in the Protons and Electrons split single series.
Side B is the excellent rock band Quivers from San Francisco, California
“Although nobody in Quivers has yet played in Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends, all members of Quivers have been playing together in some capacity before coming together in this Voltron like formation of excellent rock.
As one continues “in the game”, more and more people fall off or become a soft parody of what they once more. These rockers have doubled down and are doing some of their most interesting work. It’s a delight to have played with these fellas and their irresistible hooks in any permutation over the past 18 or so years, and I look forward to doing so for years to come!”
In any case, check it out. They don’t ship until the 1st… but the SF Secret Friends show will be the 7″ release show as both bands are playing. here it is:
Rally, a simple one word name, but a hell of a band. They are both catchy but have some skronk and grind. Michael from Rally has been a NeutronFriends sideman on the guitar numerous times, drummer Dan not only ran Conan and Tony’s old label… but he has sat in with NeutronFriends on drums as well. I’m pretty sure this is their first release, looking forward to many more!
Oh yeah, NeutronFriends side is about messianic figures that turn out to be total jerks. It happens. The badass leads at the end are all NeutronFriends live guitar player Erica Strout of Motherfucker.
Free to listen, $8 to pre-order vinyl, $2 to buy digital
Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends is, as always, Conan Neutron on Vocals and guitar, Tony Ash on bass and Dale Crover on drums. This time we are joined by Sean Kirkpatrick of the pAperchAse and Nervous Curtains on synth, piano, keys, etc, and Josh Hensley of the rutabega on harmony vocals.
It’s a lot more low key than a lot of our stuff and is directly written about the Amargosa Opera House and Hotel in Death Valley Junction California.
There is a stunning documentary on it called Amargosa.
Here’s what that link says:
“In the ghost town of Death Valley Junction stands the Amargosa Opera House, where for the past 33 years former New York dancer and artist Marta Becket has performed her own ballets in the theater she spent seven years handpainting with stunning murals.”
Yup. I (Conan) consider Marta Becket to be a personal inspiration and the Amargosa Opera House to be a paragon of DIY attitude and uncompromising vision. This song is meant to honor her achievements and memory, and to celebrate the idea that empty spaces are places to paint, what is possible.
If you’ve ever seen Lost Highway, it’s the hotel at the end.
It’s an incredible place in the middle of absolutely NOWHERE and Marta Becket was an American treasure.
On the other side is the incredible Maple Stave, Chris does time as second guitar for us quite a bit and does a LOT of our art. Evan has sat in as well, on guitar and drums. They are a hell of a band.
Let me just quote what Chris wrote about their song:
“The short version: the Maple Stave split with Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends is out today. We recorded it in November with the great Nick Petersen, and it was mastered by the great Bob Weston. It is the first Maple Stave recording since 2006 (I believe) to include bass guitar.
It is available for download here:
The long version:
Back in summer of 1998 things were weird for me. I had started listening to stuff like Polvo and June of 44, which skewed my songwriting, pushing it away from the more traditional likes of Sebadoh and Guided By Voices. It was also weird because I was about to start college, and I was scared to some degree. As far as a band went, I knew I’d start from scratch, and, with that, could do whatever.
On August 5th 1998, I went to the Lizard & Snake (long, long gone Chapel Hill cafe/club), probably on the suggestion of a friend. The show I went to see featured two bands I knew nothing about. They were Bicentennial Quarters (local opener; about 20 years gone as of this writing) and U.S. Maple. Like hearing “Enemy Insects,” “My Black Ass” or “Of Information & Belief” for the first time in my car, on Jefferson Road, not long before, these bands blew me away. (note: I first heard “My Black Ass” in a friend’s car in an Amoco parking lot in Boone, NC somewhere in 97/98) I didn’t understand what was happening, but knew it was good. It gave me a much greater understanding of how much you could play with song structure, and though I’d say that I likely lean more toward traditional styles when writing, it broadened my horizons enough to understand that pushing things further than I had been was absolutely ok to do.
I left that show and came up with the name Maple Stave as a nod of appreciation. I wrote it down in a notebook in case I ever needed it.
I moved to Boone, started college, but caught up with Bicentennial Quarters a couple months later at Carrboro Elementary, opening for Shellac. It was a big deal to see Shellac. A growing number of albums in my collection featured at least one of the band members’ names and I had a quickly growing appreciation for their work (which still carries on; I’ll still sometimes think how good something sounds only to find one of their names in the liner notes). I wasn’t in a good band, we had nothing that was worthy of recording or mastering, but I knew one day it would happen. Despite how angular and aggressive the music is, Shellac proved to be perfect gentlemen. After the show, I approached Bob and asked if he would work with my band. He said he would, told me he had a day rate and if he had to fly anywhere we’d have to cover expenses and gave me his phone number. That number remained on the wall of my apartments for years, in case I ever felt like I needed it.
So then, 2018 rolls around, 20 years down the line from all this, and Conan asks us to record something to be a part of his seven inch series. We go out and record with our buddy, Nick Petersen, send it off to Conan, feeling really good about what we’ve done (Nick is great guy, does great work, and always makes us feel at home). Conan sent the file off to be mastered, and, not long after, I got the file back. It was from Chicago Mastering, it was from Bob Weston, and it was one of the happiest moments I’ve had out of a quarter century of playing music.
I wasn’t in a happy spot toward the end of last year. I wrote an angry song, while trying to be diplomatic. Evan helped me a lot with whittling down and rephrasing, as per usual, all for the best. It’s about trying to be honest with yourself and someone else. And it has one of best titles we’ve probably ever slapped on a song.”…
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!
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.
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.
some of you may have heard of some bands with names like:
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