Stop the Madness!

Hi Julio Diaz,

I was interested to read your description of “In Your Dreams” [by the Hotknives, from the Ska United compilation, reviewed in the November 1998 issue – ed.] as doing our best Madness impression. Inevitably, a band will always have influences, and I would agree that Madness have been one of the many bands to influence us since the band started in ‘82. I would, however disagree with your remark, because our best Madness impressions have been “So Blind,” from Home, and “Bedsit Land,” from our previous album, The Way Things Are. We’ve just finished recording a new album with a better, more aggressive, live feel. Hopefully we will have managed to keep Suggs well and truly in the cupboard for this one.


Julio Diaz replies: Well, I think it’s pretty clear from your tone, but just in case, let me say that any comparison to Madness was definitely meant to be a positive thing. They’ve been one of my favorite bands since around 1983, when “Our House” finally came out in the States. I really liked your song on Ska United, and considered the comparison to be high praise. Your tone seems to say that you took it in the spirit in which it was intended, which is great. As to your other songs, Ska United was my first exposure to the Hotknives, so I have to plead ignorance, although your description certainly intrigues me! I’d love to review your new album when it’s out, please keep me in mind!

It’s for you, Julio.

Howdy Julio Diaz,

I’m suffering a bout of insomnia, so I’ve been reading the press pages at the [Amazing] Crowns’ Web site. I’ve read about all of them, and I have to say your article/interview [from the August 1998 issue – ed.] is BY FAR the best. So many of the other interviews resulted in the same material, same responses, blah blah blah. They were helping put me to sleep, however. But then I started reading your interview – pepped me right up again. You can tell you have a personal relationship with the band. A comfort level definitely came through. How old are those guys? I was going through the same musical journey – hardcore to punkabilly (starting with X – I’m surprised I never hear the Crowns mention them as an influence. They were clearly in the forefront of punkabilly) Anyway, I’m 32 – I figure they have to be about the same. Not too many old schoolers still hitting the shows. Thanks for a great interview. Truly a pleasure to read. Happy New Year!

–Lisa Solis

Julio Diaz replies: Lisa, thank you so much for your kind letter about the Crowns interview. It really made my day! I’m particularly proud of that interview; I believe it’s one of the best I’ve written. I’m proud to consider the band friends, especially Jason. I actually left a lot out of that article, because if I’d transcribed the whole thing, it’d have been twice as long. I tried to leave in the bits that would be of more broad interest, rather than us shooting the shit about various mutual friends. The one thing that never has come up, though, is age! I’ve imagined that they’re all around my age (I’m 27), but based on the bands Jason remembers going to see when he was a kid, now that I sit and think about it, he may be a bit older. I’ve never really thought to ask, though, and it’s a damned good question! As far as X goes, the Crowns have never mentioned them to me, but they certainly came up during the same era of bands the Crowns talk about. I’m in agreement with you – X were definitely at the forefront of punkabilly. I can’t imagine that the Crowns wouldn’t have a lot of respect for X, I guess they just don’t leap to mind. Something else I’ll have to remember to ask!

Let someone else have a crack!

Dear James Mann,

I wanted to thank you ever so much for the wonderful review of Bootlegs by them pesky Roast Pockets in Ink Nineteen [Ghost Rockets, Winter 1998 issue –ed.]. Glad you enjoyed the disc, and it’s always nice when some intelligent soul out there “gets it,” if you knowwaddimeen, maaan.

Two things:

First, you might like to know “New Whitehouse Blues” is an update of an old fiddle tune written in the early part of this century, “McKinley’s Gone,” aka “Whitehouse Blues,” about the 1901 assassination of president William McKinley. The song has been performed ever since on wax cylinder, 78 rpm, up to and including Flatt & Scruggs, and the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe. The contemporary bluegrass band, IIIrd Tyme Out, opens their 1998 Pinecastle Records live CD with a version of the original done at warp 11, Mr. Sulu.

The lyrics are similar (“look here you rascal, see what you’ve done/you shot my husband with an Ivor-Johnson gun/Carry you back to Washington”), we just updated ‘em to 1963, switched a few things around, and **voila** a new copyright is born! I think this is called “the folk process”; 85 years ago it would be called out and out theft…OR a whole new religion based around my amazing clairvoyancy. Imagine…the fame…the money…the power…Gibson girls at my Beck & crawl with them big fat turn-of-the-century bustle asses…uh…er…*ahem*…

But I digress.

Second, & much less interesting, but maybe more importantly, you misspelled our web address. The word “hudsonet” only has one “n” in it, as opposed to “hudonnet.” No big deal; the snail address was correct, and they can still contact us there…and no doubt a good ol’ fashioned Web search will pull it up anyway. I hope…

Once again, bless your pea pickin’ heart for the kind words. It really means a lot to me, and this will occupy an honored place in our presskit. Hell, we didn’t even have to write it ourselves!

Happy new year to you, good sir,


Admiral Rocket

(and a member of the famed Alphabet City Opry!)

We apologize for the error, but thank you for the backstory on and praise of James’ review!

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