Behind The Entrance Music (By Gunther 8544)

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Several weeks before the premiere of the highly anticipated "Hardcore Norfolk" movie,

the film's brain trust asked me to create a mix of volatile punk rock that would properly usher patrons into their seats and set the mood for the sights and sounds yet to come on the big screen. As one who'll make a compilation for any occasion (I currently have six or seven themed collection ideas stored in the mental reserves), I eagerly agreed to undertake the task. Not wanting any overlap with the movie's official soundtrack, I was instructed by "The Big Three" to select decidedly non-local artists for the pre-show sound blasts. Reaching into Yoo-hoo boxes that serve as music holders in their reincarnation, I grabbed handfuls of CDs from the following labeled sections in my stash: "Stars 'N' Stripes Punk," "Boot Parties From The UK" and "Punk Not From The Two Obvious Places." Right from the jump, I made the decision to alternate American and UK bands in the track order, with brief gaps for those from other lands. Also, I benched great-but-obvious artists (Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Clash, etc.) in favor of giving lesser-knowns (Starjets, PVC, Death, etc.) a chance to shine. 

There was no debate on what would be Entrance Music's first cut: "Up Front" from Portland, OR, greats the Wipers. Heavy on chant, repetition, verve and righteous riffing from lead blade Greg Sage, it was an appropriate anthem for first-in-line ticket holders. (My, ahem, up-front balcony seat had excellent sight lines, thank you very much!) Another no-brainer: "Movies" by Austin, TX, heroes the Big Boys. Sometimes described as "a southwest Gang Of Four,"Biscuit Turner and the bunch herked 'n' jerked on EM's fifth track. That was my dual nod to the film's creators and the venue screening it (Naro Expanded Cinema). The final "Duh!": Hüsker Dü's "Target." Many of you dudes and dudettes know how I feel about the works of Mould, Hart and Norton. An ode to us Puritans who still "listen to the same fuckin' records every single day." Front to back, the 32-song mix took a shade over six hours to put together (including cover art). At 10:30 p.m., I had nothing; at 4:35 a.m., I had the first Entrance Music disc in my clutches. 

On July 28, 2011, (three weeks before the movie's debut), the Filth City (The Dirty Archives Of Norfolk, VA) exhibit was unveiled at Colley Cantina. Rather than waiting until the 20th to present the comp, I made 25 advance copies to pass along amongst the HC ORF faithful in attendance. Minutes after darkening the door, Entrance Music made its in-public Tidewater debut on CC's house stereo. Sure, the likes of Purple Hearts' "Frustration" (heavy Who/Jam-type Mod action) and The Kids' "The City Is Dead" (one of the best things outta Belgium—waffles and brew included) rang true, but one strategically placed red herring really pulled the fire alarm for me. You might've guessed that track #12 by The Socials ("U Dance U Die") was from Essex, England circa 1978 or an unused side from Dangerhouse Records. Nice try, but the song was recorded in the late 1990s in the Greater Cincinnati area. Since "U Dance U Die" has an "old" feel to it, I promised my longtime friend and Socials bassist (his wife Julie handles vocals and guitar) a place on Entrance Music. Congrats for being the lone "modern" band represented, man! The Larchmont Trash killed it on CC's "stage," and the mix made it thru 2.5 rotations on the juke. I'd call that a satisfactory debut, for sure.

At least 50 Entrance Music comps were handed out at the Naro, Colley Cantina (Jobber Joe hosted a killer after-movie party) and 37th & Zen on August 20, 2011 (the greatest day of the year and most others). The mixes I surrendered on that landmark date might as well have been business cards. Countless times, I explained the "method to my madness" M.O. with the fluidity of a sales pitch. I wish I'd been able to "sell" the Naro on the idea of turning the volume up while Entrance Music was in the player, but since the comp had been my "golden ticket" for early entry and a peek in the projection room, my restraint reaped rewards.

Three songs were loosely dedicated to friends in the midst of mustering the "madness." For having seen the band in the early 1980s, 999's twitchy "Inside Out" went out to the "Queen Bee" (Debra Cunningham Persons). The Undertones' "Mars Bars" (an Irish Ramones?) found a home in the bag of "Little Beth" (Beth Austin), because of the candy I'd given to her at shows and such. Lastly, the Dogmatics' "Drinking By The Pool" (in the tradition of other Boston bruisers like DMZ and The Real Kids) crawled into Eric Thornton's backyard in search of a cold one and chlorine. Sorry for missing the cookout (NOT BBQ!) this past Labor Day, E. Maybe I'll make a mix for next year's gathering.

It's time for Entrance Music to exit. If you didn't get a copy, check the mixed CD box (if it's still around) at Elliot's Fair Grounds. I placed 20 discs in there about a month ago. Perhaps a few of 'em remain. Otherwise, contact me on the Facecrack.

Gunther 8544

Give me 20 days to write something for Hardcore Norfolk, and I'll piss away 19 of 'em.  Which is why my career caps on the site hover around 30 instead of 300.  Nonetheless, I am occasionally inspired by talented folks who call the Tidewater area home.  Believe it or not, glowing marks have been awarded to individuals unbeknownst to me.  My mathematician side would like to construct an NCAA March Madness-like bracket representing the 64 greatest bands in our region's history.  Perhaps Debra, Paul and I will assemble in a conference room somewhere in Suffolk and bring the draw sheet to life.