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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Record Reviews

The DNA Vibrator Record Reviews, Criticism, And Life Affirming Stories Inspired By The CD's, "The Shape Of Things To Have Come And Gone," "The Result Of Continuous Exposure To Radiation," and "The Akkademiks....ROCK!"

"DNA's website kicks the collective ass of Carbondale! If DNA's blog was a
shoe, it would be the steel toed boot that kicks every reader's ass every
time he or she reads it. DNA's music kicks ass! If DNA's music were music,
it would be the music that kicks every listener's ass every time he or she
listens to it! KICK ASS!"----Anonymous Blog Reader

"I heard about the cd from my kick ass uncle who made the cd!"---Paid Endorser/Family Member

"Well Done! Again, well done! Songs that speak of truths that all know and never speak."----Sis

"I just wish we would have had The DNA Vibrators new disc in '03. Then who knows what would have happened in Iraq."---Dubya

This scan is from the Carbondale Nightlife, March 1 2007 issue. Below is the text of the article. DNA wishes to state at the beginning, it doesn't know WHO this guy, Roger Pugh is, to whom the writer refers an embarrassingly 50 times or so. One might get the impression that Pugh is the tool of the DNA Vibrator if one wanted. Choose to make that assumption if you wish.

ROGER PUGH: An Eminently Responsible (and still cool) DNA Vibrator

by Chris Wissmann

If it's possible to remain cool in one's forties, local musician Roger Pugh is reasonably sure it's not desirable. With his trademark wry wit, Pugh asks his children in "Hey Kids," the lead off cut on the new DNA Vibrator's CD, The Shape of Things to Have Come and Gone, "Could you imagine if your dad was still cool, how creepy that would be?/Hanging out with seventeen-year-olds, buying clothes at Hot Topic, even though he's forty?"

This writer has known Pugh since 1987, and can't imagine him lingering at a place as lame as a mall, even back in his youth, especially at a faux-alternative corporate chain store like Hot Topic. No, he was too busy playing in a band, recording independent releases, building his own instruments, doing sound for other groups, writing comic books that immortalized his exploits. You know: being cool.

A more recent example of Pugh's cool: The DNA Vibrators' disc shows that Pugh is as musically on the edge as ever, and while lyrically he often extols the virtues of family and maturity, he does so with an unflinching candor and dry humor that have always marked his work. He's not gone soft, even after forty---and to paraphrase the refrain of "Hey Kids," even after the bills and the family and the upkeep on the home, after the car and the school and the payment on the student loan.

Musically, Pugh, once an important and prolific fixture in Carbondale's scene, has been fairly quiet for about a decade. One of the area's best heavy-music and funk bassists and songwriters, he first burst onto the music scene playing bass and singing in the folk-funk band the Nightsoil Coolies. When that beloved group folded in the 1990's, Pugh went on to a pair of far louder bands, Monster Truck and Crank, which predated and anticipated current, not-quite-metal-but-still-heavy-genres like groove-core. And before the digital revolution, Pugh, along with Coolies'(and later Blue Meanies) drummer Tony Aimone and Crank guitarist (and SIU music-school instructor) Dave Stoecker issued two twisted collections of absurdist heavy funk under the nom-de-cassette the DNA Vibrators.

The Shape of Things to Have Come and Gone, Pugh tells Nightlife, came after the recent death of his mother. During a drive home from work (he's employed at SIU with Project Achieve), a tribute to his mother, "One More time," pretty much emerged from him fully written. "Everything else fell like an avalanche out of me," he says.

Rather quickly, Pugh not only wrote much of The Shape of Things---it contains a pair of covers and a few older songs---but about another fifteen songs as well.

The DNA Vibrators played a reunion show for the 2004 Celebrate the Strip festival, and Pugh says their set sparked in the band a realization that hey, they could still play, and that maybe they should do so more often.

Pugh's new songs were deep in the DNA Vibrators' style, so he called Stoecker, whom Pugh says played guitar solos and "all the really hard stuff." Aimone wasn't available, so Pugh sequenced drum tracks in the style in which Aimone plays, insisting that Aimone is very much a part of the spirit of the recording.

Initially, Pugh hoped to make The Shape of Things a double CD, but he decided to hold off on the unrecorded material and release what he and Stoecker had already finished. The whole project, from the writing of "One More Time," to the release of The Shape of Things, took about six months. The recording, mixing, and mastering all took place at Pugh's home using his Mac.

Pugh is obviously quite comfortable at home---about half of the CD's songs are about family. "I Wish I Would Have Listened To Him More" pays tribute to Pugh's late father, while the tender "Remember" is a sort of less-isolationist "In My Room," where the sanctuary isn't solitude but his wife Lara and their children.

Pugh, in fact, wrote and recorded the basic tracks for the latter about ten years ago for his son's baby shower. "There's nothing harder than to sing a song like that to your wife and a roomful of your best friends [when they're] crying," he beams. Pugh cleaned up the original recording and added some new harmonies for the version on The Shape of Things.

Pugh sounds especially proud of "Less Than One Percent," which was inspired when he saw an Arabic man and his son walk across campus, and wondered how it would feel to live in a potentially hostile post September 11 America.

Meanwhile, true to its title, the CD does offer some foreshadowing---Pugh is working on and educational project, similar in nature to Schoolhouse Rock but aimed at college students and in the heavy-groove musical style of the DNA Vibrators. The Shape of Things' "Plate Tectonic King," about the trials, tribulations, discoveries, and missteps of geologist Alfred Wegener, is an example of what that project will include, according to Pugh. It rhymes, it rocks, it's memorable, and educational...and, well, cool.

The Shape of Things will soon be available in local record stores, and online through CDBaby! and iTunes. CDBaby! will also distribute the disc on demand to record stores nationwide. Pugh is also hoping to support the CD with some live shows that include Aimone.

And Pugh is also publishing online. His website, at Twin Rockets Are A Go, Baby!, features a combination of memoirs and hilarious but important advice to young musicians, as well as downloadable music, archived photos, and other local music esoterica.

But family remains the core of Pugh's life, even in music. To different extents all three of Pugh's kids are playing guitar or keyboard. With Pugh on bass, all he needs now for a family band is a drummer.

That, he agrees---with his usual sense of humor---is all he needs: "I'm okay with not having drums in the house right now, " he laughs.

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What follows is an article in the June 21st, 2007 issue of the Carbondale Nightlife.

The DNA Vibrators:

Shaking Humanity at the Deepest Level

by David Brown

Not long into a conversation with Roger Pugh it becomes apparent that he has a potentially intimidating knowledge of music. It is also apparent that-- unless the listener has the mental stature of a newborn puppy-- it is impossible to be intimidated by him. Topics of conversation range from the genius of Devo's philosophy to previous Nightlife articles. This information may seem irrelevant until one checks out Pugh's credentials: He was a member of prominent Carbondale bands like the Nightsoil Coolies, Monster Truck, and Crank, and he had the opportunity to record in New York City with indie-noise mad scientist Kramer (a name present-day indie kids may remember being dropped in The Devil and Daniel Johnston). For a great musician with a mountain of indie cred to be so approachable and unpretentious is a breath of fresh air.

For those who experienced these bands, they represent memorable moments in Carbondale's rock 'n' roll back catalogue. For newcomers, those names may as well be spelled in Arabic. However, newcomers can easily enjoy Pugh's current project, the DNA Vibrators, and their new CD The Shape of Things to Have Come and Gone. The band's name may raise eyebrows because of the (ahem) connotations attached to it. But, according to Pugh, the moniker has more to do with the roots of human nature than sex toys. Much like Devo's notion that man can and will eventually be deconstructed, the DNA Vibrators' goal is to musically shake humanity at the deepest level, "and that, of course, would be the DNA," says Pugh.

This philosophy comes out in the DNA Vibrators' live show via Pugh's bass playing alter-ego, the DNA Vibrator. Dave Stoecker, a classically trained guitarist who studied under SIU's Joseph Breznikar, becomes the Hand of God Attachment. Tony Aimone-- call him AfroDJYak-- rounds out the trio on drums. Some may know him as a former member of the Blue Meanies and the current drummer of Chicago noise makers Nonagon. Aimone, who Pugh often refers to as Mr. Kamikaze, will bring Nonagon south to play at the Vibrators' CD release party Saturday, July 23 at the Hangar 9 with Triple Whip.

Live shows are a rare occurrence for the band, however. The Vibrators became more of a studio project because of various changes in location among band members. "That wasn't the plan originally," says Pugh. "It just ended up that way."

Stage names and supposed mission statements aside, when the DNA Vibrators take the stage it is more about having fun than demanding attention. "Maybe when I was younger I would have had that kind of mindset, that people had to pay attention to my 'art,'" Pugh tells Nightlife. "It's all about having fun for me now."

That said, the DNA Vibrators' art is worth attention. The sound is heavy but melodic. Pugh's bass chops are great-- think Les Claypool. Digging a bit deeper, the band sounds quite a bit like Kramer's late-1980s post-punk project BALL (and a lot less like Devo than readers would think after reading this article). Like BALL, or maybe Sonic Youth, the vocals are often half spoken, making room for the instrumentation. The lyrics are equally as silly (like Zappa, not Herman's Hermits) as they are serious, and that's a tough combination balance. More than anything, the music sounds like fun, and that seems to be what the band is interested in the most.

For more about the DNA Vibrators, including MP3s, blogs, and a more substantial Nightlife article about The Shape of Things to Have Come and Gone, check out
Twin Rockets Are A Go, Baby!

MP3s of former Roger Pugh projects like the Nightsoil Coolies can be found at
The Carbondale Rocks mp3 Graveyard.

What follows next is an early review of "The Result Of Continuous Exposure To Radiation" from the Carbondale Nightlife, October 11th-17th, 2007.



After months of relative silence, in one week, DNA gets the featured article in the local entertainment rag, the Carbondale Nightlife, for the Akkademiks' record, and gets a front page picture in the Carbondale Times, a local newspaper, for DNA participation in the "Rock Out For Rosie" benefit.

Here is the picture of the Carbondale Times' article, August, 2008:

And here is the text of the article.

Rosie Benefit Exceeds Expectations

(picture) Roger Pugh and the DNA Vibrators perform during “Rock Out For Rosie” on August 9 at Hangar 9.

Brandon Weisenberger, editor

Life has been a bit surreal the past few weeks for Kendra Kennedy-Gordon and her family.

After her 4-year old daughter, Rosie, suffered severe facial wounds in a dog attack earlier this summer, their world was turned upside down.

The Gordons spent a month in a St. Louis children’s hospital while more than a dozen doctors cared for the injured girl. Then back at their Murphysboro home, the family entered what Kennedy-Gordon called “relative isolation” as the aided Rosie’s recovery.

But, little known to the Gordons, an entire community followed Rosie’s story throughout the summer and reached out to help. Over the weekend, the Murphysboro family finally came face to face with those who cared.

Hangar 9 was the site of the all-day “Rock Out For Rosie” benefit concert that attracted hundreds of people on August 9. City officials, business leaders, old friends of the Gordons and scores of others flocked to the bar for the event. Organizers said the attendance exceeded expectations.

Hunan Chinese Restaurant served a buffet and seven local music acts performed. Many businesses and individuals provided money or materials for the event (a full list of contributors is on page 4 [DNA’s note----DNA will not copy the full list of contributors, but it included almost 130 different contributors---amazing, huh?])

All proceeds from the door and from the dozens of items that were raffled and auctioned off went to “Reach Out To Rosie,” a trust fund set up at First Southern Bank.

“I don’t think we could have expected this much support,” said Kennedy-Gordon, a longtime employee of Thomas Publishing, publisher of the Carbondale Times.

She said she and her husband, tom, were sure that close friends and family would lend a hand after Rosie’s attack, but were surprised by and are forever thankful for everyone who helped out.

Supporters and donors ranged from complete strangers to old high school friends whom Kennedy-Gordon said she hadn’t talked to since 1986.

“I still don’t think I’ve come to grips with the enormity of the situation,” she said.

A big source of comfort, Kennedy-Gordon said, came from comments left at Reach Out To Rosie, which offers a forum for well-wishers. Entries continue to flood in to the site, which also features a blog that the family uses to provide updates.

As for Rosie, doctors have laid out a 10 year plan of reconstructive surgeries and therapy. Surgeons used flesh, a tendon and an artery from one of Rosie’s arms to form a new chin, and one of the next steps is forming a bottom lip. Speech therapy sessions are also underway.

Other than the long docket of upcoming operations, Rosie is full of spirit and hasn’t let the accident slow her down.

“She is just as wild and rambunctious as she was before the accident,” Kennedy-Gordon said.

Along with attracting the support of a community, Rosie’s incident spurred the city council to revisit its dog ordinance. Discussion has included muzzling requirements and allowing the city attorney to pursue charges against owners of dogs that are deemed “vicious” and attack a human.

At four years old, Rosie isn’t quite aware of all that has gone on in her name, but Kennedy-Gordon said her daughter knows that people are doing good things for her family.

She said, “Rosie keeps saying, ‘I love this town.’”


Then, in the back to school issue of the Carbondale Nightlife, this, if DNA may say so humbly and sheepishly, wonderfully articulate and glowing article gave some terrific coverage to The Akkademiks. Here is a picture of the article, followed by the text of the article. Again, this fellow Roger Pugh is mentioned all over the place. DNA thinks this punk must be some kind of sycophantic loser, to glom on to DNA's well-deserved press. If DNA sees this know it all in a dark alley, he's gonna wait until the coast is clear, and then hope a lot that something really bad will happen to him.

And here is the text of the article.

Vibrators and Rocks

The Music of Roger Pugh

(pictured: Roger Pugh----whoever the hell that is)

By T.J. Jones

Roger Pugh has been a part of the Carbondale music scene since the late 1980’s. Aside from being a part of a slew of bands including CRANK, the Nightsoil Coolies, and Monster Truck, Pugh’s new-wave influenced DNA Vibrators have quietly been making some of the charmingly odd psych-pop music around.

Most recently, Pugh’s band has released a side-project album entitled “The Akkademiks….ROCK!” The album is a fun romp that not only aims high at entertaining but is also useful to educate listeners about geology. With titles like “Sweet Geology,” “Rock Cycle,” and “Plate Tectonic King,” the Akkademiks muse Schoolhouse Rock-like charm and catchiness to make an album that, like Pugh’s work with the DNA Vibrators, is both humorous and seriously good. Students taking geology classes at SIU should consider buying the disc as a study aid.

Pugh also just released “Libertini,” a set of recently unearthed live tracks by his first band, the beloved Nightsoil Coolies.

Nightlife recently caught up with Pugh, right before he performed at the Rock Out For Rosie benefit concert at the hangar 9 on Saturday, August 9.

NL: What can you tell us about your side project, the Akkademiks?

Pugh: The Akkademiks was born from that same burst of creativity that restarted the DNA Vibrators. In my real job at the Achieve Program at SIU, I work to provide academic support for students with learning disabilities. I thought that creating a Schoolhouse Rock series of albums for college level courses was a great idea, because music engages memory in different ways than visual/reading/textual sources do. Because I have tutored the introductory geology course at the university for many years, I felt comfortable enough with the curriculum to start with that class. I also thought that if I could write an album of songs about that, then I could write an album of songs for about any topic. So, while I had fun and personal creative release in the DNA Vibrators, I used my experience with those records to craft the Akkademiks record “The Akkademiks….ROCK!”

In October of 2007, I released the record to little local fanfare, but through my distributor have enjoyed some success with it. And yes, we will perform some songs off of the Akkademiks record for the show on August 9. We will also debut some new material which will be on an upcoming DNA [Vibrators] record.

NL: There seems to be a great amount of humor in your work, whether it be with the DNA Vibrators or the Akkademiks. Why is that? Is music meant to be funny? Do other artists and performers take themselves too seriously? Take a song like “Climate Change,” from “The Akkademiks….ROCK!” It’s a very serious subject, yet the song, like the rest of the CD, is quite fun to listen to. Why is that?

Pugh: When I played in CRANK, we were angry, we were misunderstood, we were like every other heavy alternative band. I’m not trying to diminish what we did or what others do, but it’s easy to be angry in a rock and roll song. Rock and roll was created by artists to sing songs about sex and drugs and other wonderful behavior from the socially maladjusted. But rock music isn’t just about shouting until you’re hoarse, throwing up the devil horns and blasting out tri-tones all night long. [ahhh, those were the days]

It is also about being silly, about enjoying yourself, about love, about loss. Music is meant to be about interpreting your world, and interpreting yourself to the world. Even though a lot of my songs are kind of goofy, I’m really serious about what I do. I want you to dig the groove I’m putting down, I want you to move your feet, but I also would like you to listen to the lyric and maybe smile once in awhile. We have to be able to laugh at ourselves, or at least smirk snidely at each other out of the corners of our mouths.

Especially for the Akkademiks’ record, I needed to craft good songs first, and then write lyrics that served the educational purpose, and then, if I could hook a little humor into the mix, why not?

NL: What can someone expect to discover when they hear “The Akkademiks….ROCK!”? Do you think people interested or studying geology will find it more interesting or fun than someone who is just looking to hear some good music?

Pugh: Well, I had the chance to try some different instrumentation and some different musical styles with the Akkademiks. In fact, part of the experiment was to try to make each song come from a different branch of the rock and roll tree. Most of the record doesn’t stray too far from the boundaries of alternative rock, but I did stretch my wings when I could. There’s a funk horn section and three-part Pips-style harmony on the song, “Poppa’s earthquake” and a nasty distorted bass line and solo on the song, “Rock Cycle, “ for example.

I hope people hear some good music, and if they know me, some things that they might not have expected me to do. I hope that the educational purpose is achieved as well. That’s not so strange, when you think about it----all music is instructional, in some way, whether it’s teaching a social more, or how to break it. This record was just a little more obvious and direct in its message and its audience. If you’re taking Geology 111 this fall, buy the record, and learn some stuff about rocks.

NL: You have a slew of music out there. Exactly how many CD’s/albums have your released and how can people who are interested find them?

Pugh: “The Shape Of Things To Have Come And Gone,” “The Result Of Continuous Exposure To Radiation,” and “The Akkademiks….ROCK!” are all available for sale as physical product or digital download at CDBaby.com, on iTunes, and dozens of others of the most popular music download sites----Napster, Rhapsody, Snocap, et cetera. If you look for my stuff on iTunes, search for either the DNA Vibrators or for the Akkademiks. You can link to these records, and listen to songs from previous bands in which I played (most of the old stuff is free to download) from my website, Twin Rockets Are A go, Baby!", or go to the ubiquitous My Space.

The wonderful folks over at the Carbondale Nightlife published a review and announcement for DNA's new baby, From Obscurity To Global Domination In Three Easy Steps and DNA didn't even have to pay anybody, or wear kneepads like he did the last time! Thanks, Nightlife staff! Especially the little people, no really, the little-people, like Rosie Gordon. DNa hopes she likes her song, and was honored to try to write a little ray of sunshine.

It's hard to read this suck ass scan DNA did, but it goes something like this: Hey everybody, this fucker is still pretty good, even though he's been around an awful long time. How many records did he release last year, seven? What the fuck, doesn't he have a real job or a family? At least he doesn't take himself too seriously. Go to his website! They say some other really nice stuff, too, but DNA will make a better scan so you can read it yourself.

Did you know that if you apply the Bible code to the liner notes of the album, by skipping equidistant letters in repeating sequence, that the words chili-whip, dirty sanchez, and Cleveland Steamer all cross each other in the same matrix that includes an anagram for either Satan or maybe Santa, God, or maybe dog, and hell or possibly hello. And if you knew that, how did you know, because DNA just made it up? The chance of you knowing exactly what DNA was lying about before he made it up are so astronomical as to be, well, astronomical. That's like greater than the chance that life spontaneously erupted on this planet a few billion years ago....oh wait, that happened, so the chance of it happening was actually exactly 100%. The chance of you already knowing DNA's lie before he said it is a lot lower than 100%, it's more like the percentage chance that an intelligent designer is hard at work on life even as we speak. If the truth of intelligent design is so undeniable to some folks, he challenges any of them to explain why almost every species that has ever lived is now extinct? Surely an intelligent design would be correct from the beginning, instead of expressing itself across generations and species over time that appear to change over time in response to their environments.....ah, there's a more precise way to say that, a selection that is more natural than the word choices DNA has made....but DNA digresses. What he meant to say was the review was good, and there are no hidden messages in the liner notes. Really.





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