The essence of Rock N’ Roll Etiquette is like a hard-light diamond fashioned out of engine exhaust, rusty switchblades, hair grease, Lux Interior’s blood, beer puddle detritus and the flakes off an ancient leather jacket. The album is a deluxe reissue from 2000, complete with ace Warholesque packaging, an extra track, 2 re-mixed songs and all remastered by guitarist/vocalist Seiji. And from my ears, it sounds like Seiji did to this album what the remixers did to those Stooges remasters: amped up the brutality and raw, pulpy sonic violence tenfold. All subtlety (if there ever was any, I should watch my words) has been forcibly removed. Strip it down!
R’N’R Etiquette sounds like it was recorded on a boombox positioned approximately two inches away from a stack of guitar amps. In other words, it’s perfect. Bass and drums and guitar and vocals stomp all over each other with steel-toed boots and sometimes just dissolve into pure sine waves of razor-sharp white noise. Like all the best music, it’s gritty and lo-fi, at times almost indecipherable sheets of fuzzbox and perfect passion. This is how it should be — direct, intimate, unmediated communication between the performer and the listener. Which is, of course, also the fearless aesthetic used in their live shows. Everyone’s a part of this high-wire act, audience members are called up on stage to drink or play guitar, or maybe half the band’s immersed in the crowd at any given moment. Because that’s the way it should be, man! The whole fucking thing with punk — no, with music in general, going back to the Carter family and backporch “you’re playing the mandolin tonight!” concerts — is that everyone can and should join in. Tear down the fucking walls, man.
And Guitar Wolf ain’t pastiche. Guitar Wolf kick your ass, pick you up and dust you off, then kick your fucking ass again! Their look is beautiful and immaculate. Guys, girls, we all fall in love with those pretty rough trade greaser boys. We’re all Sal Mineo to Guitar Wolf’s James Dean. Fer chrissakes, it’s embarrassing already. I’ll wear the windbreaker lovingly, fine. It ain’t pastiche at all, fuckers. Guitar Wolf look beautiful and sound rough and messy. This is not performance, this is about outsider art and expression and noise and joy and anger stripped down to their most base and vicious and yet insanely catchy fundamentals. This shit is for real and now. The true rock n’ roll etiquette is a bloody, fucking ugly, killer mess.
It is truly one of those “now I think it’s time for me to give this thing a fucking go” type of records. And we desperately need this type of record. Guitar Wolf create life-affirming punk of the highest order. This band and Venomous Concept are pretty much the only ones doing it right these days. I fucking challenge you to feel this alive at one of those joyless spectacles like Warped. And I do hope that they keep bashing away for a long, long time.