A TRIBUTE TO KILLDOZER – We Will Bury You
(2006 Crustacean/-ismist Recordings)
Killdozer’s influence on popular music over the past twenty years is both dramatic and virtually unknown. For those who don’t understand the premise of this argument, let me clarify. Killdozer was one of the first clients at Smart Studios in the early 80s. Butch Vig worked with them over the next several years, recording several intense and very different records, including the renowned and remarkable 12 Point Buck. As that record found its way around the country, creating a huge buzz in underground rock and punk scenes wherever it reared its hideous head, it made an indelible mark on the next wave of musical visionaries, including Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. Both of these bands found their way to Madison, to Smart Studios, and to Butch Vig. The influence of these two bands, if you hadn’t heard, has been overwhelming and quite revolutionary.
So it isn’t that far-fetched to connect Killdozer to the entire alternative and grunge movements. However, the homogenized, purified, sanitized sounds that helped push Pearl Jam to rock stardom has so little to do with the sonic assault of Killdozer as to make the entire damn story unravel. The brutal, intelligent, funny and inspired creativity that permeated the musical concoctions of this band are far too harsh and terrific to have ever allowed them to be rock stars. So it is only fitting that the bands that venerate this legendary local act are similarly inspired and similarly unlikely to connect with the masses as the masses are lame and just don’t get it.
Two indie labels conspired on this two-disc set: our own Crustacean Records and Minneapolis’ –ismist Recordings. The 28 tracks that stretch over this collection highlight much of the music that sparked a movement. However, as was true with the band, while most of the songs just kick ass on this tribute, a few just suck. It makes this a true tribute to both the band that kicked so much ass and the bands that discovered them in all their flawed and perfect glory.
Killdozer themselves offer a pair of tracks, one to open each disc: a cover of “Disco Inferno” and a Butch Vig remix of the “King of Sex” (which he originally recorded 23 years ago on Killdozer’s debut record). Wendy Buggati’s take on “A Man’s Got to be a Man to be Man” is excellent with fantastic production and sterling performances. Droids Attack’s version of “The Pig Was Cool” has one of the best guitar tones on this record and shows how much of Killdozer’s sense of style has become part of the Droids’ sound. From the Skintones’ “The Nobbies” to Powerwagon’s “Piledriver” to Season’s of Risk’s “Cotton Bolls,” the tracks are incredibly eclectic takes on some of the finest creations to ever created by Killdozer.
And then there’s Gorch Fock’s “Free Love in Amsterdam,” which is awful and grating, like the music the sleestaks would bang their lizard heads to if they only had necks. Then there’s Scrid’s “Porky’s Dad,” which is awful and grating on a totally different level, with poor production making it even harder to like. As this double-album set weaves between the dreadful and the divine, a defined picture of Killdozer comes into focus.
The last song on the disc, echo-static’s “Cannonball Run III: Revenge of the Dumbass,” is also arguably the best; the vocals are haunting, the tone fantastic and the production superb. But it also shows how far-reaching Killdozer’s influence really is. They are icons for a reason. Michael Gerald and his gang of miscreants were making these jarring, convulsive and hypnotic tunes when Michael Jackson and the Thompson Twins were tearing up popular music. Punk had already died the first of its many deaths, new-wave was making a synthesized mockery of rock ‘n’ roll, and hair metal was unleashing finger-tapping and make-up on an unsuspecting public.
And out of this musically sterile and tonally bland landscape, Killdozer arose with a pointed socialist political direction, a unique musical vision and a maniacal presence that inspired those who inspired the revolution. While the revolution may have been swatted down by the oppressive hand of nü-metal, boy bands and the increasing incorporation of the music industry, there was a moment when the disturbing and direct presence of Killdozer led the charge. And for that, we give tribute.