Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends – Neutron/Crover/Ash Releases Protons and Electrons: Atom 11 – The Vig / Cartographer – Turnip, The Cloth Clown

Protons and Electrons: Atom 11 – The Vig / Cartographer – Turnip, The Cloth Clown

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Protons and Electrons Atom 11 is now up for listening and pre-order: It’s Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends (Conan Neutron, Tony Ash, Dale Crover) with The Vig, and Cartographer with Turnip, The Cloth Clown.

I believe this is the first Cartographer release in 8 years. So there you go!

Cartographer is very closely tied to the NeutronFriends mythos, by nature of Conan being bandmates with Ben and Chris in Replicator, and with Chris and Andre in Mount Vicious. Without Replicator (and to a lesser extant Mount Vicious), there would be no Conan Neutron & the Secret Friends in any capacity.

Cartographer is burly, aggressive and uncompromising noise rock. While the band members don’t take anything too seriously, the music is serious as a heart attack. Pummeling drums, jagged guitar and bass that evokes pure sleaze and menace make a fully formed package of Noiserock(TM) delivery. I believe their song is about a birthday clown that wants to have sex with a young Ben Adrian’s mom.

The Neutron Friends tune is an homage to a classic gambling term. The Vig (short for vigorish) is interest principal amount owed on a debt or loan, always at a usurious rate, with the idea being that the borrower never ends up paying down the principal and is indebted to the lender by just just covering the interest. The conceit of the song is applying those principles to psychic costs, but it probably works as a more dead on interpretation too.

The EarthQuaker Devices Bit Commander, features prominently in the “proggy” chorus bit. While, I think the guitar sound in the verses are just straight into a cranked Bassman.

Anyway, vinyl ships in September but you can listen to the tunes on bandcamp now.

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Protons and Electrons: Atom 10 – Amargosa State of Mind / Maple Stave – Thunderkiss ’85Protons and Electrons: Atom 10 – Amargosa State of Mind / Maple Stave – Thunderkiss ’85

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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.”

LUNG x CONAN NEUTRON & THE SECRET FRIENDS – Adult PromLUNG x CONAN NEUTRON & THE SECRET FRIENDS – Adult Prom

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LUNG x CONAN NEUTRON & THE SECRET FRIENDS: cello-grunge powerhouse joins forces with Melvins-affiliated rockers on electrifying new split LP; West Coast tour announced

Learning Curve Records announces the October 6th release of Adult Prom, the new split LP by Lung and Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends.

Pre-order the album, here: 

https://learningcurverecords.bandcamp.com/album/adult-prom

Stream new Lung track, “Fucked Up Darling,” here: 

https://learningcurverecords.bandcamp.com/album/adult-prom

Stream new Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends track, “Wild Antics,” here: 

https://learningcurverecords.bandcamp.com/album/adult-prom

Adult Prom is an example of the magic that can happen when an unlikely pair of bands, bonded more by spirit than by sound, choose to join forces and make a thing together. Like a mouthful of sugar and salt, the contrast between the two reveals the power of each. 

Where Lung brings sheer intensity, executed with dark, neoclassical flair, Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends revel in an exuberant, noisy reimagining of classic rock. Despite the divergent energies, these bands are united by friendship and mutual respect and they give themselves, one hundred percent, to this project. On Adult Prom, not only do the two share space on a slab of vinyl; each also covers one song by the other, reinterpreting it in its own singular style, and members lend their talents to other tracks as guest vocalists and musicians.

Explaining how the collab came to be, Conan Neutron states, simply: “We are fans of each other’s music and enjoy each other’s company and it just seemed like a cool thing to do.”

From Cincinnati, Ohio, Lung consists of Kate Wakefield, a classically trained opera singer and cellist, and drummer Daisy Caplan, formerly of Foxy Shazam. Fierce, ethereal, and heavy as hell, Lung rocks with the intensity of early grunge, layered with sinister undertones. “Tony Iommi teaching a Nirvana class at Juilliard,” reads one review from Cincinnati paper CityBeat.

“PJ Harvey is absolutely brilliant,” states Wakefield. “I also am a huge fan of Tori Amos, Hole, Cibo Matto. I also love dramatic classical composers like Prokofiev, Sibelius and Barber – who are all pretty metal, in a way. Daisy has also introduced me to tons of bands that have influenced our style since we started playing, like Minutemen, Smart Went Crazy, and Death From Above. Our sound is intentionally genre-bending, but the consistent thread is that everything we do has an intensity to it. We mean every word and every note we play, and people can feel that.”


People can feel that, indeed, as Wakefield runs her cello through distortion pedals and big amps, and Caplan pounds out earthquaking beats on cartoonishly bell-shaped, vintage North drums. A relentless touring machine, the duo has played over 700 shows across North America and Europe, on bills with Brainiac, Screaming Females, Fucked Up, and so many more.

With roots in Oakland, California, transplanted to Milwaukee, Conan Neutron is a wildly prolific musician, podcaster, and impresario. As a co-founder and curator of Caterwaul Festival, and as the founder and host of the Protonic Reversal podcast, Neutron is a self-built pillar of what he has termed “independent-minded, iconoclastic, noisy music.” With Caterwaul, he has helped create an annual fest that has quickly become a major new axis for this “noisy music” scene, putting the likes of Flipper and Chat Pile on one stage and serving to strengthen a community of diverse, yet connected, bands and fans. With Protonic Reversal, he has chatted for hours with an absolutely legendary list of artists – members of The Stooges, Devo, The Birthday Party, Black Flag, and Fugazi, to name but a few – amassing a huge library of conversations that exists as a resource for the world to enjoy.

As a band leader, Neutron wields the same creative fire and the same knack for putting exceptional people under one roof. His rhythm section, The Secret Friends, consists of none other than Melvins drum-slayer Dale Crover and bassist Tony Ash, formerly of Coliseum. (When Neutron takes the show on the road, he and Ash are joined by a revolving cast of live players – “a bench deeper than a baseball team,” in Neutron’s words.)

Contrary to what one might expect from these guys, the sound hits like a burlier version of power pop – more Cheap Trick than AmRep. Honed over four full-length albums and shows with Big Business, Torche, and more, the songwriting and execution are world-class. Crover’s iconic drumming lays the foundation for rich tones, sweet hooks, and Neutron’s croon.

Given the underground cred of Neutron and his gang, their choice to rock unabashedly might come across like a subversive act. Neutron puts it like this: “What we do is BIG WEIRD ROCK MUSIC. I have to throw the WEIRD in, because when people think of rock music they tend to think of slavish imitators of bygone eras or a specific kind of very safe consonant guitar music for middle managers and wraparound shade dads.”

One press release from the recent past calls it: “small scale arena rock for smart alecks and malcontents.”

Lung’s tracks on Adult Prom were recorded and mixed by John Hoffman at The Lodge in Dayton, KY; Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends’ trackswere engineered and mixed by Toshi Kasai. The album was mastered by Shellac’s Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering Service.

Adult Prom’s album artwork, created by Aaron Cross, comprises paintings of the two bands’ vans – two 2006 Ford Econolines, coincidentally. On October 6th, the day of the LP’s release, Lung and Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends will get in said vans and kick off a West Coast tour together. (See those dates, along with Lung’s other upcoming touring, below.)


Adult Prom tracklist:

1) Lung – Fucked Up Darling
2) Lung – Kingpin
3) Lung – Cash Machine (Two Ton Boa cover)
4) Lung – The Impossible Task (Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends cover)
5) Lung – Pastor
6) Lung – Anyone Else (feat. Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends)
7) Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends – Wild Antics
8) Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends – Crybullies
9) Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends – Fridging (feat. Kate Wakefield of Lung)
10) Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends – I’m Nervous (Lung cover)
11) Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends – Criminal Hypnosis
12) Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends – We Were Wolves

Lung w/ Screaming Females:

Aug 16 – Morgantown, WV @ 123 Pleasant St
Aug 17 – Cincinnati, OH @ Legends
Aug 18 – Chattanooga, TN @ Songbirds
Aug 19 – Asheville, NC @ Static Age Records
Aug 20 – Washington, DC @ Songbyrd

Lung:
Sep 1 – Michigan City, IN @ Oktoberfest
Sep 2 – Indianapolis, IN @ Romanus Fest
Sep 7 – Knoxville, TN @ Pilot Light
Sep 8 – Athens, GA @ Flicker Theatre

Lung w/ Djunah:
Sep 9 – Savannah, GA @ It Takes Two fest
Sep 10 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
Sep 11 – Asheville, NC @ Grey Eagle

Lung w/ Thelma and the Sleaze:
Sep 19 – Newport, KY @ Southgate House Revival
Sep 20 – Louisville, KY @ Whirling Tiger
Sep 21 – Athens, OH @ Union
Sep 22 – Cincinnati OH @ Fountain Square
Sep 23 – Lafayette, IN @ North End Pub
Sep 24 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle

Lung:
Sep 26 – St. Louis, MO @ CBGB
Sep 28 – Denton, TX @ Rubber Gloves
Sep 29 – Austin, TX @ The Electric Church
Sep 30 – San Angelo, TX @ The Deadhorse
Oct 1 – El Paso TX @ Mona
Oct 2 – Bisbee, AZ @ The Quarry

Lung w/ Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends:

Oct 6 – Tempe, AZ @ Time Out Lounge
Oct 7 – Los Angeles, CA @ Redwood Bar and Grill
Oct 8 – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
Oct 9 – Sacramento, CA @ Old Ironsides
Oct 10 – Reno, NV @ The Loving Cup
Oct 11 – Eugene, OR @ Sam Bond’s Garage
Oct 12 – Portland, OR @ High Water Mark
Oct 13 – Bellingham, WA @ Make Shift Art Space
Oct 14 – Seattle, WA @ Southgate Roller Rink

Lung:

Oct 20 – Logansport, IN @ The Record Farm
Oct 21 – Dayton, OH @ Dayton Music Fest


Photo of Lung, by Rachelle Caplan
Photo of Conan Neutron, by Abbey Garside

Protons and Electrons: Atom 6 – Petulant Messiah / Rally – HVACProtons and Electrons: Atom 6 – Petulant Messiah / Rally – HVAC

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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.