Oh thank heaven for 7/11! For that’s the day, 7/11/2020, that I had the pleasure of interviewing Tim Bracy of The Mendoza Line, and Peter Marston of Shplang.
It’s an interesting pairing of artists, that kind of came together last minute. Both bands started during the heyday of the alternative rock era, around 1994-95. I got to speak with a founding member of each band. Each band is celebrating a re-release of some of their music. And in both conversations, the meaning behind the bands’ names is revealed (no spoilers here; you’ll want to listen to the show).
In the first hour, we got to meet Tim Bracy. The Mendoza Line ticked off a few sweet spots for me. They started in the mid-90s alternative era (check), in Athens, GA (check), have the same initials as me–“ML” (check), and a self-effacing band name (check). Seriously, it cannot be overstated how important being in Athens was to this band. A fully nurturing music community. The influences were everywhere. They had the opportunity to play on amazing bills, and record their first singles and albums.
One other sweet spot for me: Bar-None Records had their eyes on The Mendoza Line. Bar-None is one of the preeminent indie record labels in the country. If Bar-None wants you on their label, that means something. And that brings us to the re-release of “We’re All In This Alone”. This was their first offering on Bar-None, and the first record that they truly made their own. And it is pretty wonderful. It’s by turns mellow, shoegazey, and melodic, and rocking and drony–but still melodic. And there’s some devastating lyrics in there as well. Turns out this was sort of like the indie version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours”–so take that comparison and run with it. The band broke up in 2007, but amicably agreed to the 20th anniversary re-release of this wonderful record, which is gaining new audiences, including yours truly, in 2020. Check them out at https://www.mendozaline.com.
A little later in the show, we got to meet Peter Marston of L.A. fixture Shplang. I spent the first hour of the show saying “Shplang” as often as I could, because that band name is just a fun word to say out loud. But it was great to meet Peter, and he came highly recommended. Shplang is now part of the Big Stir Records label, which more or less contains two kinds of artists: 1) Bands I’ve liked for a long time. 2) Bands I’m about to like. Shplang fell into the latter category. But they’re no newcomers–they recently celebrated their 25th anniversary as part of the sprawling Los Angeles music scene.
Shplang, like The Mendoza Line, started in the mid-1990s–a very fertile time for music. But as Peter told me, as fondly as we look back upon those times, the L.A. music scene (and probably a lot of others) was somewhat disjointed. Hair metal factions, punk, and post-punk factions. Playing at clubs was brutal for up and coming bands–part of the crowd would leave after “their” band played–so very little cross-pollination occurred. Somehow, Shplang’s sound–which is, as has been said, “Beatles meet Zappa in a pop-psych Sumo match”–got accepted by the “power pop crowd”, and that turned out to be a very accepting scene. In this world, for the most part, musicians do indeed cheer on other bands, and fans stay for “the rest of the show”–and along the way, acquire new favorite bands. Once this quarantining is over, I’m hoping to see more of that again.
Fast forward 25 years to now, and Shplang has released a career retrospective, entitled “Los Grandes Excritos” (listen to the interview for the fun story behind that name too). It’s a heaping helping of why people like them–because their songs are so musically diverse, and their live shows are legendary. This album is a really, really good way to debut on Big Stir Records. More at https://bigstirrecords.com/shplang
Enjoy the show. It was a fun one.
Artist | Title | Album
The JAC | Persistent Man | Faux Pas
The Cleaning Ladys | Beer For Breakfast | Whaduya Want Fer Free?
The Brothers Steve | C’Mon Pappy | #1
Poplord | Save the Monkey | Poplord vs The Universe
Gail George | He’s an Exclamation! | Follow Your Bliss
Kat Jones | Those Expensive Eyes | La Rosa, La Calavera
Sitcom Neighbor | Out In The Country | White Lace And Promises The Songs Of Paul Williams
NRBQ | I Want You Bad | At Yankee Stadium
Tim Bracy interview
The Mendoza Line | Baby, I Know What You’re Thinking | We’re All In This Alone
The Mendoza Line | I Hope That You Remember To Forget | We’re All In This Alone
The Mendoza Line | Everything We Used To Be | We’re All In This Alone
The Mendoza Line | A Bigger City | We’re All In This Alone
Migrant Pickers | Rossetti | Beat This Town
Easy Love | 2. Alright | Wander Feeler
Bud Rogers | Hello | Bud & The Bullet
Marshall Holland | Waiting For That Peace & Love | Single release
Bill Lloyd | I’ll Take It From Here | Don’t Kill The Messenger
Lisa Mychols & SUPER 8 | Trip & Ellie’s Music Factory | LISA MYCHOLS & SUPER 8
Milltown Brothers, The | Something Cheap | Slinky
Sunshine Boys | Summertime Kids | Work and Love
Trip Wire | Had Enough | Once & Always
Felsen | Generals and Majors | Felsen Loves You
Sparklejet | Somewhere Along The Way | Phonovella – Unmixed
Natalie Cortez & The Ultraviolets | Ghost Of You | Twitch!
Rachel Taylor Brown | Up You | Run Tiny Human
Peter Marston interview
Shplang | I Don’t Know Love | Los Grandes Excritos (1994 To 2019)
Shplang | Spanish Galleons | Los Grandes Excritos (1994 To 2019)
Shplang | Delacroix | Los Grandes Excritos (1994 To 2019)
Sean O’Brien and His Dirty Hands | Kingdom Of Love (Soft Boys Cover) | My Colors Dark
Sex 66 | Numb | Grew Up Down
Krista D | Penny for your Thoughts | Look at me… I’m Krista D
Lannie Flowers | Just Go To Sleep | Home
Nolan Voide and His Own Bad Self | Mid Life Crisis | Single release
Chandler Travis Philharmonic | Going Back To Work Tomorrow | Waving Kissyhead, Vol 2 & 1
Chris Church | Dumb It Up | Backwards Compatible
Anton Barbeau | Haunted In Fenland | Kenny Vs. Thrust
liar, flower | baby teeth | geiger counter
Right Said Fred | Upon My Heart | Up
Heiskell | Just Can’t Say | Arriving
William Duke | Hotels And Meetings | Quatro
Echo and the Bunnymen | Stormy Weather | Siberia
Elk City | No Depth | Everybody’s Insecure
Byron Isaacs | Disappearing Man | Disappearing Man