As the season turns, so does Decline Worldwide Productions. But never fear: The scrappy local multimedia company is far from offering a gentle outing centered on watching the leaves turn. Decline's latest live show serves up a bracing clash of local talent, for an evening of refreshing political incorrectness.
Headliners Luvsix have long been local faves, with their good-time, punk/bubblegum sound. Recently, a new guitarist joined the group, and some new songs have been added to the band's repertoire. (You can also catch Luvsix when they play a Halloween gala with Charlotte power-pop group Squat Wieler at Vincent's Ear.)
Meanwhile, here's a look at the other two, lesser-known bands on the roster.
He's a well-respected graphic designer, whose accounts have included Adidas, HBO and Comedy Central. But a decade ago, Bob Zimmerman's resume boasted a more dubious distinction:
"We played every stupid club in New York City, but we were the only band ever thrown out of CBGBs," the former punker recalls, a tinge of nostalgia in his voice.
"We pushed a guy in a wheelchair offstage," Zimmerman reports matter-of-factly. "A lot of people had never seen anything as obnoxious as that, and it put us into the limelight." The band in question, Choking Victim, also received another questionable honor that year: They were runners-up in Spin magazine's Worst Band category. But Zimmerman insists the band welcomed the honor.
"That was the whole idea," he explains. The band members, he says, never fancied themselves serious rockers. Case in point: the band's name -- taken from the ubiquitous restaurant posters instructing employees in the art of dislodging food from the throats of distressed diners -- chosen not for its kitsch potential, but as a practical maneuver.
"It was free advertising in every restaurant -- we didn't even have to put posters up," notes Zimmerman. Ironically, Choking Victim's eventual demise was due in part to run-ins with a rival band of the same name.
But for the Decline show, Choking Victim will be resurrected -- sort of. Zimmerman has assembled local musicans Milton Carter, Bob Rest, Jeremy Boger and Jody Hunt for a one-time un-reunion, true to its progenitor's spirit in that it will feature, in Zimmerman's words, "complete stupidity and a guaranteed good time."
Reviving the inflammatory spirit of his former band's performances, the designer plans to publicly skewer certain subjects that have irritated him for years, such as the continued touring of '70s dinosaurs a la Aerosmith.
"I mean, those weren't even considered cool bands when I was in high school," Zimmerman rails, his voice already cracking with indignation. "I just turned 40, and I love going out to live shows, but I would never want to see someone my age up onstage. It turns my stomach. Someone needs to tell these guys to go home!"
So how does he justify his own scheduled appearance at a popular Asheville nightclub?
"I need to get some things off my chest. This is one last thing that I have to do."
They've shed their prior name for the sterner label Insurrection, but luckily, the former Creeps have not added a soapbox to their lineup. If it's preaching you're after, you'll have to check out Asheville's more overtly political strain of punk bands, drummer Tommy Wilson suggests.
And despite the new militant title, Insurrection has retained its sense of humor -- as well as a don't-cage-me-in attitude.
"If we want to do a ska song, we'll do a ska song. We've actually been working on a slow song this summer. We don't have to have a New York hard-core sound," proclaims Wilson (though that doesn't stop him from touting Insurrection's status as Asheville's fastest-playing band). His bandmates include lead singer Shawn Ray; 16-year-old Justin Beyer on guitar; and, on bass, a guy who goes by the expressive one-name moniker, Bubba.
Ironically, it's precisely this attitude that may render the band more punk than some of their grimmer brethren; at any rate, it allows Insurrection the freedom to slip in a message where and when they feel like it. One song, for example, exposes the curious hypocrisy of trend-crazed vegans who wear leather, and band members are only too eager to back up their barbs with facts:
"Cows will explode if you don't take the milk out of them, but there are these vegans who won't [eat dairy products] but who will wear Birkenstocks made from a cow and from the cork of the rain forest," says Wilson. His lament then turns more general: "Big cities may have zones of PC-ness, but in Asheville, it's [everywhere]. You take UNCA, it's more like PCU."
"I live on red meat and beer," he reveals. His problem with Asheville, though, is less its New Age pretentions than its lack of support for local musicians.
"People piss and moan about there not being shows, but then when there is a show, nobody comes." Getting out-of-town exposure has been a similar struggle for Insurrection. A recent excursion to Nashville yielded hellacious traffic jams -- and a cancelled gig. Still, this is one band whose priorities are firmly in place.
"We drank a lot of beers, made new friends, and had fun anyway. We've always had decent shows," Bubba points out good-naturedly. "Even if only 10 people are there, everyone likes us."