Mining a sixties garage territory somewhere between Jad Fair’s atonal art damage and Flipper’s molasses music, Wisconsin’s Hollywood Autopsy have produced an album of deliberately bad, artsily, anti-arty, aharmonic, and droning low-fi. You’re supposed to hate this record the same way one loves/hates the Shaggs or the work of bad taste artist Mykel Board.
–A. ‘Enthal, OP, Seattle, 1983
PiL meets the Shaggs, Cramps, and Butthole Surfers on a bad ’60s acid trip, stumble over Flipper’s corpse, and rise (barely) above the basement. Enter the ghost of the 13th Floor Elevators, and you have it. These guys prove that Sky Saxon is dead!
-Tim Yohannan, Maximum Rock and Roll #12, San Francisco, March 1984
The Hollywood Autopsy LP was recorded in Danny Colleran’s basement in the spring of 1983 on used 1/4 inch reel-to-reel tapes. Butch Vig and Hollywood Autopsy mixed it down at Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin in July 1983 (see photos below). Smart had just opened in January 1983 and was known to work with local bands for 15 bucks an hour. Rite Records in Cinncinnati, Ohio pressed 300 copies of the LP and it hit the streets in late August 1983. We made the LP jackets by gluing photocopied band photos and other collage elements to the plain white sleeves the record plant offered. The band name was handwritten or spray painted on the front. Photocopied lyric sheets were enclosed and the package sealed with red cellophane. Copies made their way into the world and it was eventually reviewed by Op and Maximum Rock n Roll where it came to the attention of Jandeck, Jello Biafra, and Jad Fair eventually charting at #42 on an obscure Dutch radio show.
We were all college students at University of Wisconsin Madison when we worked on the Hollywood Autopsy project playing shows semi-regularly while producing a zine titled Catholic Guilt. Our personnel included Cyndee Baudhuin on Mosrite bass, sax, and backup vocals, Julie “Julia” Lindemann on drums, Johnie “pukeface” Shimon on lead “fuzzball” Monkees Gretsch guitar and vocals, and Bob Wasserman on bass, Fender Mustang, 12-string Mosrite, and slide guitars, Farfisa, and vocals. Gunnar and Peder Hedman played additional guitars on some tracks on the LP. While a certain amount of recreation was enjoyed, we considered Hollywood Autopsy serious art. Our personal histories were profoundly immersed in 1960s and 70s pop and counterculture from psychedelia to new wave. We venerated a particular sensibility of half-broken, homemade, proto-punk, thrift store, trash worship. We all had other things to do after the LP came out, so the project ended and we went out separate ways. We left artifacts behind, which we more fully realize when various memorabilia pops up online.
Hollywood Autopsy reunited after 20 years for one performance at the Orpheum Stage Door, Madison, on March 6, 2004. Opening for our Milwaukee idols Plasticland, Bob played his Farfisa while Julie played her black Rickenbacker and Johnie his Vox 12-string. Cyndee sent well-wishes from Seattle and offered to play washboard. Artist and writer Chrisanne “Elsa Klink” Robertson of Milwaukee joined us on stage wearing a traditional German folk costume along with artist Matt “Fink” Robertson who played the stumpf fiddle and drums on a dissonant rendition of the Beer Barrel Polka. A film about dreams was projected on the wall above us. Prior to the 2004 reunion, they played at Jimmy von Milwaukee’s Leo Feldman Galleries in Milwaukee as part of a holiday performance art showcase featuring Goldie dancing the “Nutcracker” staged at the Hotel Wisconsin in about 1990.
HEAR interview with Brock Kappers/Little Big Chief Records about Hollywood Autopsy LP reissue on Free Form Freakout Foxy 8.1.2014 podcast. LBC sold out of the LP as of 9.6.2014
HEAR Hideous Plastic Flowers LIVE recorded Halloween 1982 in Madison
VIEW Standing Naked in the Carnival, a video produced by Yeller Skeltin for “Capital Reaction” WYOU cable access TV show. Taped at Merlyn’s, State Street, Madison, during a sound check before a X and the Replacements show
VIEW “madison, 1982or3” 8 mm film shot starring Julie walking the streets of Madison with “repercussions of the preceding” instrumental soundtrack from the Hollywood Autopsy LP
VIEW the “lost finding gone” instrumental jam (with live and basement jam footage on Kodachrome) from the Hollywood Autopsy LP
LISTEN TO THE HOLLYWOOD AUTOPSY LP
MP3s are from the DAT transfer made from original 1/4-inch reel-to-reel tapes at Smart Studios, Madison, Wisconsin, by Bob Wasserman and Steve Marker in about 1996. Notes transcribed from archived materials.
notes: recorded live on 2-track with Bob on 12-string, Johnie on fuzz guitar and vocals with Echoplex added on mix, Gunnar on guitar feedback, Peder on guitar, Cyndee on bass, and Julie on drums.
notes: recorded live with dubbed drum track and a guitar interlude recorded in stairwell with added Echoplex vocals.
notes: recorded live on 2-track with organ.
notes: recorded live at Alfredo Cabellero’s studio on Halloween 1982.
notes: recorded live on 2-track with Bob on organ and overdubbed bass.
notes: recorded live in the basement with 2-track played through 6-channel mixer with reverb on voice and mic placed at end of room.
notes: recorded on 2-track.
RECORDING AT SMART STUDIOS – JULY 1983
We recorded most of the Hollywood Autopsy LP ourselves on a reel-to-reel but needed some vocal, guitar, and percussion tracks recorded in a studio situation. Butch Vig and Hollywood Autopsy recorded some tracks then mixed down the material at Smart Studios in Madison, Wisconsin in July 1983. Smart had just opened in January 1983 and was known to work with local bands. We ran into Butch Vig in August 2014 to give him the LP reissue and were impressed that he remembered more about our session at Smart Studios than we did even signing a few refrains.
HOLLYWOOD AUTOPSY PERFORMANCES
IN MADISON, WISCONSIN 1981-1983
We welcome any information on our past performances. We pieced the following list of performances together from newspaper clippings, notes, and flyers in our archive. Hollywood Autopsy started out as the *Stim-U-Lies with Bart Trickle on Bass. In Spring 1982, Cyndee Baudhuin took over on bass and we adopted the name Hollywood Autopsy.
November – Bunky’s with Comicosmics * – FIRST SHOW
March 8 – Merlyn’s with The Gun Club, Comicosmics, and P.S.I. *
March 19 – Merlyn’s with Fear and Hüsker Dü *
April – Merlyn’s with the Effigies *
July 31 – Merlyn’s with X and The Replacements
August 10 – Merlyn’s with The Gun Club
Summer – Memorial Union Battle of the Bands – Pat mAcdonald judge
October 30 – Merlyn’s with The Replacements and Hüsker Dü
October 31 – Alfredo Cabellero’s Studio with Los Monos
November 30 – Merlyn’s with The Gun Club
December 3 – Wil-Mar Center with Suburban Mutilation and No
March 26 – Nikos (Milwaukee) with Killdozer and No
April 22 – Wil-Mar Center with Isolated Sniffers, Paupers Grave, Ray Ray & Amazement Co., Big Noise From Madison
May 19 – Club De Wash with Ray Ray & Amazement Co., and The Replacements
June 18 – Nottingham Co-op with The Appliances-SFB
June 22 – Library Mall (funded by Madison Mall Grant/NEA)
July 23 – Frances Street Park (funded by Madison Mall Grant/NEA) – LAST SHOW
ONLINE BLURBS DESCRIBING THE AUGUST 2014
HOLLYWOOD AUTOPSY LP REISSUE
Uncool Wisconsin college students who are clearly products of listening to Half Japanese & Happy Flowers at their local alternative station, but have no idea how to record or perform (or even “record” or “perform”) on musical instruments. They make some trebly guitar scribbles, manage a Sky Saxon cover, and got future bigwig Butch Vig to make a DAT tape. Just about everyone who worked at a college radio station in the 80s/90s heyday was in one of these bands, but you can also hear how much fun they’re having. Tracklisting: Lost Finding Gone, Flowers, Love Removal Finality, Turn the Pages, Reflective Reformation, Standing Naked in the Carnival, Mr Farmer, Liquid Lunch, Frankie, Repercussions of the Preceding, Trivia, Live.
Angela, Weirdo Records, Cambridge, MA 02139 usa
Officially licensed edition of 500 copies reissue of this lost art punk gem from Wisconsin: coming out of an early 80s hardcore obsessed scene Hollywood Autopsy come over like “Hurricane Fighter Plane”-era Red Krayola play King Uszniewicz’s “Surfin’ School” after having their garage re-tooled by Pere Ubu. Imagine if the 70s void that birthed the whole post-Velvets Simply Saucer school and the goofball American hobbyist LAFMS cabal had somehow infected suburban hardcore with a freeform freakout agenda then cross-breed that with ultra-keen UK DIY optimism and glee-in-creation and you’re close to the kind of spiked suburbia these guys were coming out of. They also get into the kind of slow-spinning euphoric jangle pop minimalism of their Kiwi kin, marrying implied motorik rhythms and endless chorus/reverb guitars to downer mumbled vocals in a way that will have you scratching your head and thinking, what, Kiwi Animal? Josef K eviscerated by The Spies? The Clean play Department Store Santas? Public Image Ltd w/The Cowboy Song as the central touchstone? Right there, you get a feel for the range of this wild, profoundly out-of-time side that exists somewhere upwind of 70s wasteland sounds of classic no-counts like Victoria Vein, Debris et al while sounding approximately *something* like them. A great, puzzling, triumphantly out side of fully infected art punk excess, beautifully rendered, highly recommended!
Volcanic Tongue, Glasgow, Scotland
Even given the vantage point of several decades worth of antagonisms on conservative “Punk” eardrums, countless poorly-printed fanzines championing all manner of anti-social sound/performance and the Internet more or less rendering nothing, past or present, unbelievable, some records are still hard to wrap one’s ugly mug ‘round. Like this one right here, fr’instance! What is this strange, acerbic music and how did it come out of the early Eighties Wisconsin Hardcore Punk scene? Sure, there are plenty of near contemporary comparisons, regional bands lost to the mists of tyme who imbibed early Fall singles like they were manna (I’m lookin’ your way Art Phag, Easter Monkeys, Y Front), but it’s really a pretty strange document for the time and place, with allah the prime skiffle ‘n thump of God Bless The Red Crayola… as interpreted by The 49 Americans were they really, well, American, and adding a supersized dose of Flipper’s drone/dirge to the pot for good measure. “Hideous Plastic Flowers” sounds like Blight or Church Police covering Hasil Adkins. The instrumental “Reflective Reformation” wasted-ly approximates Country Joe’s first via the same route Andrew Klimek took to Van Vilet, and truthfully, these guys would have made much more sense rolling ‘round the CLE (or maybe Akron on a track like “Liquid Lunch”) gutters than from where they actually sprang, though a catalog # reading Thermidor or Subterranean wouldn’t be out of place either. God, that bass tone; what a ridiculous, glorious, throbbing wet fart, and finally providing an answer to the eternal question: “What if the Fuckin’ Flyin’ A-Heads recorded a whole album?” The de-railed Seeds cover opening Side B lends some credence to the notion that, as much as Hollywood Autopsy were an Art Punk concern (and one of considerable menace and aplomb) they also drank from the same trough of nocturnal Proto-Punk pessimism as Vertical Slit and the like. I don’t know how much further I can spew over this thing, I mean every track sounds better than the last, a tasteful and primitive blend of deconstructed Rockabilly, battered free Psychedelia and generally inimical art provocation that only increases in potency the more its contents sibilate about your paltry brain. Ostensibly a college project of University of Wisconsin Madison students who disbanded after a few shows, zines and cheap recording sessions with a future member of Garbage (!), and would go on to legit academic/art careers and work with such local legends as Killdozer and Tar Babies, one off reunions happen from time to time, but no recordings outside of this single, shimmering platter exist. First time reissue of any kind offered up here, and by far the most fiscally sound option, lest you’re keen on walking, biking, driving or flying over to Manitowoc, WI to hunt in crusty bins for an OG. And besides, we all know that’s not sustainable; do you really think the band that wrote “Standing Naked in the Carnival” would want such a thing? – Thomas DeAngelo/ April 2014