Posts Tagged ‘Funk’

Every once in a while I get the opportunity to mention that I was in a band in high school. This usually provokes mild interest because the immediate assumption is that Monster Zero was like that standard high school band that was doing covers of classic rock or Bob Marley or something similar that everyone heard once or twice during their secondary school career while drinking cheap beer out of red keg cups in someone’s backyard. But when I mention details like “we had a full horn section”, “seven to eight members rocking original ska and funk”, and “covered the likes of Fishbone, Bad Manners, The English Beat, and The Specials” — well, that’s usually when eyes go wide and I get full attention. Ska was perfect for Point Loma High School at the end of the 80’s as a decade: rambunctious, feel-good, jump around, hyperkinetic party music balanced out with a healthy dose of dirty, filthy, get-yo-hips-innit funk as a chaser.

MZ was truly a labor of love; we worked hard to cover covers as faithfully as we could and we poured our best efforts into writing originals that would rock a party. I can’t even recall how many hours were spent in the epic soundproof room built in Alex’s basement under the stern but approving eyes of George Kohrt trying to organize, focus, and practice while figuring out marketing, our next gig, and how on earth we might get paid a little bit for loading 1000 lbs of gear into multiple vehicles and showing up to play somewhere on the spur of the moment. What is amazing is that 20 years out, I STILL fuckin’ love these tracks and cherish the memories:

  • Early on we played a gig for some classmate’s birthday party at the Kona Kai Club; we had no lead singer so I had to sing while playing all of the horns and organ on my keyboard — this is the only time that I fronted the band vocally, and the trumpet solo on Ackee 1, 2, 3, is NOT easy to play
  • MZ played a gig at my (then) girlfriend Jamie Peterson’s house while her dad was away; somebody was so inspired that they climbed on to the roof and stage dived into the mosh pit — unlike Coolio he was caught and I don’t think the band missed a beat
  • Monster Zero had some influence in the subsequent phreshness that was Ed’s Cat [citation / link needed], The Unsteady when sister Sian White was fronting that shiznits, and just setting the bar high for PLHS talent in general

I even remember the early days of formulating Monster Zero — big love to Tyler Lusk (drums), Frank the PLHS TA (bass), and the lovely Adrianna (vocals). I have always regretted never being able to pull off Fishbone’s Lyin’ Ass Bitch when we didn’t have Ms Lazzarini as the centerpiece of the band. I have to acknowledge that even though I had a lot to do with convincing people to give this concept ska-funk revue a try, most of the critical effort came from three planets-are-aligning events:

  1. Imploring friend and Arkanoid-crusher (at Brown Bag Deli, no less) Chris McGee to take a shot at fronting the band with his incredible charisma and vocal chops — McGinty has gone on to his own spectacularity with outfits like 008 and Brass, Beats, and Bows
  2. Putting out an ad in the back of the Reader for horn players, from which we encountered the sax-rocking sexual tyrannosaurus known as John Roy — JR went on to continue keeping it real to this day on the San Diego music scene — and introduced us to Steve Pratchner, our trombonist
  3. Getting awesome volunteer support from fans, friends, and classmates; examples include Security by T. Charman and roadie / sound tech / speaker-schlepping-sherpa Chad Gautier

This goes along with my theme of Press Record; it amazes me that we — Galstefus, actually — spent the time to actually record what we were doing at that time, and that I can actually post these recordings 20 years later…and they still sound good and bring back all those memories. Every time a Monster Zero reunion is mentioned, we all get hordes of messages that people would fly in from other continents and bring their SO’s and / or their whole family including their children and requests for “Camel Jack” or “play Party at Ground Zero!” or “I will throw my panties on stage if you sing me Naked Ladies while looking deep into my eyes”. This sort of behavior can be chalked up to cheesy reminiscence of high school and the end of the eighties, but I put a win in the column of love: that’s why I have spent this Saturday rebuilding the Monster Zero tribute page out on my blog.

I’d be interested in hearing any tales that you have to tell about the rise and fall of Monster Zero in 1989-1990 if you have them. Even if you don’t, check out the page, download the tracks, and play them to your family, friends, and progeny so they subconsciously develop a love for ska and funk music, Godzilla movies, learning to play an instrument beyond Rock Band, and insuring that illicit backyard high school keg parties entertained by cover bands continues to be part of the fabric of growing up, wherever you are in the world.

Kmart Funk

Posted: September 10, 1993 in Poetry
Tags: , , , ,

I
I kick the lyrics straight from my heart to my mouth
to the mike to your ears to your drums and I’m out,
out fast like a villiain that just stole your TV.
after the show, if it’s gone, don’t blame me,
because when I rap, people don’t know waht hit ‘em.
there’s scientists wondering why I got rhythm.
I get in the scraps that you wouldn’t believe
with the belligerent dicks who’re proud of their weave.
they’re bigger and better than the guy with the eye-wear.
you’re girl’s loving me, you know why? I got real hair.
you’ll try to act tough and make your hands into fists
but she wants to get busy and she’s blowing a kiss.
by that time I know you’ve had it…
but I’m a lover, not a fighter, so I don’t start static.
I’m a gentleman, I’ll come and apologize
and I’ll try to keep my eyes off those out-of-line thighs.
she’s pulling up her skirt just to try and impress me.
she looks me up and down like she’s trying to undress me.
you’re gonna be mad when you know that you’ve lost it,
so play Michael Jackson – keep that shit in the closet.
the freaks in the streets want to go and get loaded;
I’m so fat with good time rhymes that I’m bloated.
I don’t have the patience to deal with a chump
because I got to get busy to the Kmart funk.

chorus
it’s the Kmart funk I said the Kmart funk
chech it the Kmart funk yes the Kmart funk
well its the Kmart funk yeah the Kmart funk –
catch a likkle riddim in your cranium, punk!

yes the Kmart funk to the Kmart funk
check it the Kmart funk it’s the Kmart funk
the Kmart funk into the Kmart funk
it’s soundin’ even better when I smoke a da skunk, BO !!!!

II
TheKmart funk was this jam that I grooved
in my band Monster Zero way back in high school.
My man Chris McGee goes to UC Berkeley
he had lyrics so funky that they’d hurt me…
something real weird ‘bout some shoes and a sock
I don’t know what he would say but the house would cold rock
and the crowd would shout, they’d be happy to be there
singing [ho!] – Terminator X
but back to the definition of the Kmart funk
as I driveby dropkick with the bass in my trunk.
this is a track that’s down to earth, see,
not a highbrow store like Nordstrom’s or Macy’s.
the Kmart funk’s back to the basics style
that keeps me worthwhile, out of the crazy dogpile
of pop-rap fusion that entices the kids
to think rap is cheesy like a jar of Cheese Whiz™.
I try to stay clear of that hellhole…
you can tell I gots the Motts™ not a blue light special
ideas are rocking right out of my ears:
get on the floor and have no fear.
Tempest’s like a fortune on the wheels of steel
he drops the Gap band in to give the flavor-full feel,
a little Roger, Peter Piper, and some underground bump
mixes up in your ears for the Kmart funk.

(chorus)

III
some people get surprised when I turn on the faucet
I pour out a jam that’s a slam not a soft hit
and I’m never quite finished, always more to come
because the people in the place always step up and get dumb.
I gotta stay back, I’m like Felix the Cat:
I got a bag full of tricks and a four-track…
to kick something fresh you gotta feel the jam
like the words flowing out from the mike in my hand
I’m not starting some shit, but don’t step to me,
‘cause I can play you like a game of Monopoly™.
you say that you’re the best and you can do much better
but explain why your mom’s writing me love letters.
I didn’t mean to be rude and dis your face out loud,
but there she is doing the wop in the hole in the crowd.
just stand back and swim through the funk, G.
[feel the bass come down on me, yeah] – Jungle Brothers

IV
you’re probably gonna chuckle, ‘cause I’m talking ‘bout Kmart
but personal style can’t be bought, it’s an art form.
I think that the K is a great place to be;
there’s one on the corner in every great city.
that’s where I go to buy cheap underwear,
but don’t get me wrong – I don’t fucking work there.
Kmart is sort of like a circus tent…
you see I walk out with everything and I ain’t spent a cent.
I’m a low-grade gangster so I gotta give thanks
that I haven’t been caught or shot – there’s no banks
in the future of my criminal career…
maybe a ticket or two for playing this so you can hear it
whilyou’re partying on DP, cruising on the freeway,
staggering on State Street, ditching school on Friday,
hanging out drinking with your friends in the place.
now where you gonna get that eight dollar case?
Blatz is on sale, Milwaukee’s best, too;
all the best brands, get your hands on that quality brew.
they’ve got everything else in that goddamn store –
I wouldn’t be surprised if the manager’s drinking.
you gotta be tanked to be 25 and working
at the Kmart – it’s not a job, it’s lurking.
I bought a Venus flytrap in the Garden Department,
the biggest excitement was a kid trying to start shit.
he ripped off a pack of Bubble Yum™…
caught by security, they pulled out their guns.
nobody in the store seemed to pay much attention,
they were picking up the specials that I’ve already mentioned.
you still think that Kmart’s a waste of good room?
where else do you get your water balloons.
throw ‘em at a neighbor, throw ‘em at a cop.
(be caution on that last one, it’s no fun if you’re shot)
and if you live like me, by the university,
it’s always lots of fun to water bomb a sorority.
and wait ‘till the freshmen come to college…
then it’s time to kick them their knowledge…
water bomb launcher so the suckers’ll soar,
there’s a whole group of targets for your water balloon war.
now Wednesday night’ll never ever be a bore,
but you’ve got to give thanks to the neighborhood store.

(chorus)

V
I write rhymes…that’s what I do…and
[you don’t like how I’m living, well fuck you] – Ice Cube
I write stories ‘bout my life so you can get a taste
and like a spoonful of sugar, I frost it with bass.
it’s all in good fun to make you sing and dance,
this groove so soothes it makes you move your pants.
light a spliff take a whiff and pass that green;
get friendly with your neighbor ‘cause they got a lot of flavor don’t worry be happy like it’s IV Halloween.
I get busy getting dizzy…
I chill out at the Chart House™, yo fellows, Cheeze Whiz™ me.
hey ladies in the place, Cory White – he’s gonna kiss them,
checkered ska punks with the junk in our system.
I’m powered by the light that shines from my soul.
I got more freshness than your kitchen’s got mold.
straight from the bottle and I don’t give a damn
if it comes in a cup, 40 ounce or can.
I play this like an anthem from the back of my truck,
I play my rhymes loud and I don’t give a (bo!)
you think that I’m bluffing? you think that I’m bluffing?
you’re a day-old in the dumpster ‘cause I’m the stud-muffin.
any bitches talking shit about me and my crew?
pah! you gotta pay your man to stay with you.
I’ve covered all the bases and you know I got spunk;
you know you can’t touch it – it’s the Kmart funk.

(chorus)