Joshua Brown (left) and Sean McCabe, outside of 924 Gilman. Berkeley, CA. 1998. Photo: Travis Keller (IG)
Hey! I’m doing things a little differently this week, and premiering the Gut Feeling Podcast. This first episode is with Joshua Brown, a currently Victoria, B.C.-based musician who came up through Philadelphia’s early ‘90s straight edge hardcore scene, playing bass in Flagman, Crud is a Cult, and legendary gothic hardcore outfit Ink & Dagger along the way.
I’d met Josh a few years back at a friend’s book launch in Vancouver, and have been dying to ask him about the Dagger days ever since. He also recently started up an Instagram account for Crud is a Cult, where he’s been posting old photos and demo tape layouts, so it seemed like a perfect time to talk.
Throughout the conversation, Josh gets into the Crud days, how he wasn’t initially sold on Ink & Dagger’s vampire-themed punk, touring Europe alongside Refused in ‘98 (when both bands were expanding into electronica-infused hardcore), and awkwardly live-scoring a brawl during a bar show in Vancouver. His wife Leanne, who herself played in Vancouver hardcore group Dissent in the ’90s, also pops by.
There is so much more to cover around Ink & Dagger, and Josh and I ended up texting about more stories after the fact. Their final, self-titled LP from 2000, for instance, draws influence not so much from punk and hardcore, but rather from Irish dream pop outfit Rollerskate Skinny, the Beach Boys, and maybe even the Stone Temple Pilots. I’m going to add some of Josh’s thoughts on the record’s “Facedreamer,” written and recorded shortly before Sean McCabe’s tragic passing in the summer of 2000 at the age of 27.
We should get into that last song too—the last song we we released, and how Sean isn’t on it. The lyrics totally foreshadow his death. It’s really crazy.
I sang the whole song ‘cause he never showed up and we needed to finish it. We didn’t have lyrics, so I picked up a book of Charles Bukowski poems lying around on the studio, randomly opened a page to Facedreamer, and just put all the vocals together on the spot as we were recording it. I’m super proud of it, but the lyrics, man: “The best often die by their own hand….Sometimes we will only note their existence suddenly in vivid recall after they they’re gone....where have they gone to?”
Somewhat on the topic of vampires, I’ve been reviewing vintage Monster Party songs all month through my Instagram stories. Definitely some great bashes along the way, with a lot of camp twists on mummies, werewolves, and zombies having a ball. I made a Spotify playlist to go along with it, which you’ll find below.
I think the big surprise this year was the theme to 1967’s Spider Baby, sung by horror icon Lon Chaney Jr. There’s something especially sinister about the way he stutters and gulps his way through the track, warning us that pretty much any monster is fair game for Baby’s next snack. The grossest part about it is how he delivers this sort of inward belch on the word “tummy.” Just nasty. The original film theme isn’t streaming, but the Fantômas did a version that’s just slightly less discomforting.