There is an entire section of this country that is collectively known as “The Midwest”. Now, to be totally honest I don’t exactly know where those lines are drawn (Wisconsin?). However, being from Ohio I do understand that I identify as being a Midwesterner, but somehow still don’t fully 'get it'. Just about an hour away from where I grew up is a city that is completely different from what I consider “The Midwest”, it’s a place called Detroit.
When I was a teenager, growing up in Toledo, OH, Detroit was the only place close that big name acts would come to play. I could jump in the car and in less than an hour be in line to see bands like The Stooges, Daniel Johnston, The Killers, yes – Blink-182 several hundred times. I was always so impressed with Detroit. It was the only image I had of a "city” – and it just so happens to be the birthplace of some of the best musical artists in the country. Every genre is represented from The White Stripes, Eminem, MC5, Stevie Wonder, Sufjan Stevens, and The Temptations!
Musically it seems like Detroit is untouchable, yet financially – not so much. In the past couple of years Detroit has seen the almost complete loss of the auto industry, their housing market crashing, the murder rate skyrocketing and the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history. You know you’re in trouble when your city’s loudest political voice is Ted Nugent. He’s articulate, right?
But it's not all Bad News Bears in the Motor City.
On this episode of Tell Me Something I Want To Hear we are going to take a small peek at some of the music that makes Detroit so special – while at the same time completely ignoring all the financial, political and social issue that plague that city. Mostly because those are topics for smart guys, and we are not smart guys.
We have a 4-track show for you all in celebration of Detroit and the music that makes it so – Detroit-y? Here’s our track list for today:
- Track One: Soul Man
- Track Two: Mission of Miller
- Track Three: TMS Listening Party - Suicide Machines
- Track Four: FAM-I-LY! FAM-I-LY! (Love & Faygo)
TRACK ONE: SOUL MAN
(05:33) We can’t even begin to talk about Detroit music without mentioning Motown. Motown is quintessential rock and roll, and it is quintessential Detroit. While researching for this episode I was blown away by all the musical acts that were actually on Motown records at one point. It's kind of shocking - #BruceWillis
No doubt about it, Motown was the original hit factory. The sounds of Motown are ingrained in our cultural identity, were the soundtrack to the 60s and 70s, hell, they’re the soundtracks of lives, and ACTUAL soundtracks both stage and screen.
In the early to mid 60s things couldn’t get much better for Berry Gordy, the head of Motown and the song writing teams of the Detroit record label. The former boxer-turned-record-label-exec was starting to bring in some money - some real money, hit after hit - in a way that was unheard of for musicians at that point. Their money gave them power and it all started with this song – about… money.
TRACK TWO: MISSION OF MILLER
(14:35) If you talk with any musician that grew up in the 60s there is one televised moment that they can point to that changed their life. It's the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. I didn’t grow up in the 60s, and I don’t think my generation, or at least the "culture" that I identify with, had a televised moment like that. My defining musical moments were made on the floors of friends basements or alone listening to mix cds. Today’s generation probably has theirs on tumblr, or some shit.
One such musical moment came to me in the summer of 7th grade - when a friends older brother played us a song. It’s “Secrets” by Mission of Burma. We sat on the floor of my friends brothers room and listened as the song built, and built, and developed into a frenzy. The song implanted something in me, and later that summer my friend and I would go on to pick up albums by Fugazi, Bad Brains, Sonic Youth and Black Flag. Before then my only image of punk rock was Tre Cool.
I was lucky enough to sit down and talk with Mission of Burma’s Roger Miller about his early days growing up in Ann Arbor, MI, Detroit in the 60s, psychedelic music, the very early days of punk and the musical moments that changed his life. Hint: It’s the Beatles.
TRACK THREE: LISTENING PARTY - SUICIDE MACHINES
(49:03) Every once in awhile it's nice to just let things breathe. The Listening Party portion of the show (and part of our TMS Blog) is meant to let things breathe. We pick one song tell a little story and play the song. It's not brain surgery.
In my younger and more impressionable years I liked a lot of shit music. Well, that's not all together true. In my younger and more impressionable years I liked a lot of music that every body else thought was shit music. That still doesn't sound right. Ok, last try: In my younger and more impressionable years I liked and owned several albums by The Suicide Machines.
TRACK FOUR: FAM-I-LY! FAM-I-LY!
(54:49) We've talked a lot about punk rock today for some reason, that was never our intention. There is just something about post-1960's Detroit that makes its musical residents want to rebel and to scream and punch and say "Fuck Wine Coolers". The Insane Clown Posse said it, and they're millionaires.
ICP, belong to a genre of music called Horrocore, a subgenre of hip-hop that features these dark lyrics and combines elements of horror. The content is off-putting and can get a bit graphic and crude. They rap about hatchets and murder and the regional soda company Faygo. They have even created a mythology behind their music, what they call the Dark Carnival. From what I understand The Dark Carnival is a lot like the idea of heaven - but with drugs. Oh, and for listeners who are unfamiliar, the two members of ICP, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, complete their Dark Carnival images by painting their faces in clown makeup. Honestly, it's kind of silly - but as silly as this all is it kind of works for them.
To end the show our very own Nick Orsini brings out the human side of the Juggalo culture. He has written a poem about love. Please enjoy, Love & Faygo.
"The rain fell on Cave-in-Rock and washed my facepaint off
A world opened a purple sky with two-liter Faygo drops
as fat as the greedy stomachs when enough is not enough
We spent a caffeinated night rapping into my karaoke machine
while my parents were asleep
These are the friends who became my family
The rain fell on my high school where I ate lunch in the bathroom
until I put that record on...then it was all cigarettes and Riddle Box
Psychopathic and the hatchet, The Great Milenko and aggression
Now I'm online dating...fixing up this truck
about to drive five states to find out about true love" -Nick Orsini
Thanks to the Executive Producer Jeremy Allen, My beautiful bride Keri Wise, Nick Orsini, Adam Dohm, Roger Miller and a big thank you to Detroit. You have had a rough time buddy. But if there's one thing America loves more than guns it's a comeback story - Detroit you will have an epic comeback story.