The Geeks



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Argumentum Ad Populum 06 Apr 2005 12:45 pm
AAP 112
Relapses, Geeks and Zombis. Oh fuck yes. Sullen, I sit slumped filling my ears up with the Geeks' Ayler-propelled whirlpool of punk horns honking in my head and a voice shouting occasionally. Beneath in the basement two guys are putting up drywall, the sounds of their drills vibrating through the floorboards. The landlord is finally finishing what he started downstairs two years ago not because he should have done it for us but because he's unloading the house I rent so he can buy an apartment building and play slumlord. His sprint to more wealth is our out on the street dragging our bags to somewhere else where another fuck can hold our lives in their claws. Maybe I shouldn't be listening to the Geeks' 1979 self-released album "It's Not About Notes Anymore". It's just feeding my gloom, folding in anxiety to make it heavier and more overbearing. I guess I could obsess over other joys like the bloody snot I blew out of my nose a few hours ago or how in hell I'm going to pay the motherfucking Multnomah County income tax so goddamn kids can get an important education in being a Portland yuppie piece of shit. Yeah, yeah, yeah, "get off my property" and all that ad infinitum. I'm just not really amused by anything because I'm tired of everything beyond my control always going terribly wrong. As Mark Chambers of the Geeks sings on "Barbecue," "Jog gobble sniff snort." My sentiments exactly.

The Geeks
“Dreamland In Machineland” 7” (S-S)
Every so often a record catches me off guard and goes straight for the jugular. Although few and far between, the gems of which I speak remain glued to my turntable for days, bumping all of the other records on my pile waiting patiently for a spin. What ensues is nothing short of chaos, as I frantically search for everything band-related to appease my senses. The Geeks’ “Dreamland In Machineland” 7” is one of those records that fits the preceding description nicely. After taking up residency alongside countless first-wave punk bands in the annals of punk obscurity, The Geeks get another opportunity to shine with the release of this two-song 7” of unreleased material originally recorded in 1979. The Geeks were likely the antithesis of what many people considered “punk” in the late 70s, with roots dating back to the early 60s, a penchant for covering jazz legends, and rehearsals characterized by extended, improvisational jam sessions. Clearly, not much has changed in 20+ years since The Geeks still aren’t poised to earn punk points with purists. While arguably more “punk” in spirit than in execution (depending on how far-reaching your definition of punk is), The Geeks assimilated diverse musical influences and made great noise that was challenging, explosive, and best of all, original. Both tracks here are genius in their own warped way. “Dreamland In Machineland,” with its tribal-like rhythms and eerie, otherworldly aura, is a head trip with mesmerizing sung/spoken vocals; the flipside, “Hey Wreck,” earns my top spot honors and plods along at a Flipper-esque pace, accented by slap bass, saxophone squeals, and repeated yelps of “Hey you, hey wreck!” The Geeks’ ride is full of bumps, twists, and turns--not for the squeamish or faint of heart--but it’s a ride from which I walked away with a huge smile in anticipation of future escapades. If you don’t buy one of the 300 copies pressed, somebody else will be there to take your spot. So saddle up.
 --Mario Solis (4/20/03)

Geeks, The - “Too Fat Pig / Visiting Day At San Quentin ” - [S-S Records]
Definitely a product of the time it was recorded, 1979-80. Squakward improv music behind two different vocalists. On the A-side, if you play it mistakenly at 33 rpm, it comes across even eerier, but the then 15-year old vocalist Lydia Kindheart gets morphed into a 37-year old whispery dude named Ralph. Better to stick to 45 rpm. Poor pigs, always a symbol for gluttony or the worst in man, if not in fact “The Man.” On the flip side, it’s “Visiting Day at San Quentin” we’re not in Oz anymore. No locked groove for the lockdown, again kind of a sonic sprawl with the Mark Chambers lyrics working to get all five fingers into a fist. Ultimately a nice snapshot into folks making music for themselves. -Thurston Hunger

Scott Soriano has deep knowledge & love for the obscure, so if he tells me The Geeks have been around for ____number of yrs, I'll play along. Why not? Who's it harm? That I never heard of'em till now is meaningless. Shit like that happens all the time. They got a unique 'n creepy sound that's so there, you can almost smell the stench of stale cigarette smoke 'n rotting pleather waft off this 7" as it spins it's sordid tales. The lounge vibe on here is as alive as a hair-nest full've syphilis spirochetes primed for action. Hell, I feel like I need to pack a switchblade just to walk in the room! The a-side, sung by a 15 yr old would-be chanteuse sorta resembles a poem cooed from the lips of Squeaky Fromme backed by a sloe gin fizzed 'Coral Rock' ensemble. The flip is indeed seething w/anger & intensity but it's foggy notions of revolution & revenge warmed the coddles of my heart in remembrance of Smiley Winters "That" Nigger Music' lp & hey, if the timelines had been wiggled just right, perhaps The Geeks coulda had a Touche matrix number. This kinda pugnacity just ain't around anymore so the fact that these tracks are from 79-80 make's sense (I guess). I sure would like to hear the rest. And while your at it, how about trackin down The Ragged Bags & Fiberglass Gorilla Limbs? Them's both got heavy archives that could use a barrel of ears too. But in a pinch, just more of The Geeks'd be swell, thanks.


Whoa. More archival recordings at the turn of a tumultuous decade (’79 into ’80) by Sacramento’s the Geeks (another 7”, long out of print, was issued by S-S some time ago). They lived in Marin County, CA and gravitated to SF over time, growing out of a teenage garage group in 1965 through the years, embracing jazz, art, and weirdness with eight arms apiece, finally disbanding in 1983. Hearing this sort of thing now, where there’s little challenge left in music without the requisite irony to help cathode zombies “Too Fat Pig” has the distinction of being in line with box set-era Destroy All Monsters and, by proxy, about 15 years ahead of Sonic Youth ca. Experimental Jet Set. A 15-yer-old girl whispers the lyrics, strangling death, consumerist abuse, and the oft-mentioned “Twinkie Defense” (thanks for reminding me, Karl Ikola; we’ll be using this one later, too) into a milky, unsettled death ballad. Reeds flutter around the sides as the band and girl saunter around the tale-as-spiral of greed and death. “Visiting Day at San Quentin” recounts how the band lived near the gates of the prison, and would watch families line up outside to visit their incarcerated. A martial thump drags along through more lounge-like burble as a narrator recounts the stress and agony of waiting in line to be cleared to talk to someone that people more or less feel obligated to see at some point, and the slow, hot resentment is barely contained in the song’s three-minute runtime. No jokes here. Seriously different music that just cleaned my head out. I will return. 500 copies, buy two and give one to a friend.

Album Review
Katie P.
Reviewed 2003-07-16
The Geeks "Dreamland In Machineland" - Two songs recorded back in 1982 by the local art-punk-noise kids (well they were kids back then) The Geeks. From what I can tell this 7" has not been released until now and it's pretty damn good. Very rough and gritty recording (sounds very DIY). Both songs are very noisy with little melody to them at all. It's filled with noodling guitars, sqawnking saxophone, heavy bass, hard pounding drums, and yelled vocals. If you want some really raw noise-punk look no further.
My Picks: B
Katie P. 7/16/03

A) Fades into an all out freakout on sax, bass, drums, guitar, and vocals. Very gritty and rough recording. Vocals are mostly yelled. At moments it seems to have a melody, but it usually falls back into chaos. Ends abruptly with "Hey, I'm talkin' to you."

B) Fades in with guitars noodling around and noisy sax. Bass is in there too and then vocals come in (mostly spoken). This one is more cohesive and kind of grooves a little. Cool low plodding drums. Fades out.


I'd like to echo Filthy Rich’s statement regarding The Lids single…I dig.  The new F-Hole “Gives A Fuck” single has been getting a few spins too.  As good as those two are, The Geeks “Dreamland In Machineland” b/w “Hey Wreck” 45 hasn’t really given me much chance at spinning other 45s.  It’s another one of the S-S Records excavations, this time diving deep into Marin County, CA (!!!) for some incredibly out there free-jazzy Contortions mud and screech.  Amazing how it went unheard for so long…too good.


The Geeks were a band that existed in the Northern California area from the late 60s to the early 80s. If you believe everything liner notes tell you (and I suppose you should) they turned onto Free Jazz in their early teens and started to play out and record under the influence of the Punk Rock shot heard around the world in the late 70s. They put out an LP and a 7" in their time of existence, but the S-S label has just put out a 45 of totally unheard stuff of theirs from '82 that's pretty dang interesting. The one track has a snakey maraca-shakin' groove behind it while guitars and brass toot and false-start around its edges. It sounds like a NNCK jam twenty years before the fact. The other track, 'Hey Wreck,' is a belligerent bass- heavy sax-squealing number with vocalist Mark Chambers bellowing like a burgerless Marlon Brando. This would probably make Dave Morton giggle his ass off, but it makes me wanna/hafta crap my pants. Oops! Pooped 'em! Anyone willing to part with copies of their 'It's Not About Notes Anymore' LP or 'Poland' 7", get in touch.


THE GEEKS “Dreamland In Machineland / Hey Wreck” 45…I was introduced to the guy that put this out when I sorta knocked his band in my then-‘zine in 1998 and he wrote me a long, eloquent, well-argued letter in his defense. We traded tapes (remember those?) in the aftermath. It’s kind of fun to bust his chops from time to time, but in reviewing this one there’s no malice intended – it’s just a difference in taste, shall we say. THE GEEKS were apparently a Marin County, California act in the 1970s and early 80s with a high regard for out jazz like Ayler, Sun Ra etc. & who brought it into the era by combining it with a FLIPPER-esque noise do-whatever-the-fuck-you-want vibe & who played San Francisco’s punk clubs back in the day. There’s a lost LP “It’s Not About Notes Anymore", a 45 (“Poland / The Spark"), and now these 1982 recordings. To me it sounds like the lame early 80s Subterranean Records bands toiling in Flipper’s shadow (Wilma, Sluglords), not part of a “pre-punk movement” that includes the Electric Eels, Rocket From The Tombs, MX-80 Sound etc. (hey, I didn’t say it, but the liner notes do). No wait, I know what it sounds like – Zoogz Rift! These guys could have been plopping out jazz/rock jam bullshit on SST if they’d only waited a few years!



JAMES GOSS & THE GEEKS - The Geeks were a bunch of high schoolers from San Quentin, CA who formed in 72 (1962) inspired by Zappa, Beefheart & free jazz. In '78 they put out a record called "Its Not About Notes" that reflects their influences. Brett Harmon, the black drummer (one of the Geeks' two drummers) apparently played a lot of other instruments and after the Geeks wound up touring with a lot of reggae bands - like the Mighty Diamonds, Mutabaruka, etc. - during the '80s. Now he is staffer for Congresswoman Barabara Lee, the only congressperson to vote against the US intervention in Afganistan. (The other drummer Radley Hirsh is a sound engineer who put in the sound system at legendary punk venue Gilman and did sound there for years) A couple years after their debut the Geeks did a 7" called "Poland" b/w "the Spark" with their (Black) friend, poet James Goss. It sounds like some cross between Sheer Smegma and Archie Shepp with intelligent political lyrics (non-preachy, dept). The band mixed the 7" in the studio of disco diva Sylvester's collaborator James "Tip" Wirrick. Radley recalls walking around San Francisco with Tip who would point to houses and say "That's 'You Make me Feel Real.' There's 'Living Proof.' That's 'Sell My Soul.'" Tip was pointing out real estate he had bought with money made from Sylvester records and he had named them after the records! Former Geeks went on to
Polkacide. Jim Goss is now a prison shrink.


The Geeks "Dreamland" 7" (S-S Records)
From BlankGeneration.com (April 2003)...
Lastly, one of my all-time favorite record labels, S-S Records, sent me this GEEKS “Dreamland” 7”. Records back in 1982, this no wave massacre resembles sounds like the CONTORTIONS and, well, the CONTROTIONS. If you are a JAMES CHANCE freak (and just bought that breathtaking 4XCD box-type-set on Tiger Style Records) you NEED this 45! It is art-punk with a violent warps of free jazz and muddled beats. ++ You also get a nice little biography of the GEEKS, cool and informative. There’re only 300 copies and they go quite quick, so get on it. BUY! BUY! BUY! CONSUME! CONSUME! CONSUME! (Joe Domino)

From Maximumrockandroll (April 2003)...
     "I’m gonna switch things up this month and start with the “Old Shit”. Why???  Because I simply can’t wait to dish the goods on THE GEEKS!  The Geeks were a band from Marin County, CA who played and recorded in various incarnations from 1962 to 1982.  In their entire career, they released only a 45 and a LP, both of which were recorded in the late 70s/early 80s punk era.  However, The Geeks’ sound is far from typical of that period:  this is some wildly inventive and experimental stuff, incorporating elements of jazz, rock and a fierce punk/DIY attitude.  While their self-released original records remain hard to come by, S-S Records has just released the “Dreamland In Machineland” b/w “Hey Wreck” 45.  Yup, you guessed it:  2 unreleased Geeks tunes from 1982!  I’m happy to report that you obscure singles hounds have a new slab actually worth hunting down!  Seriously, it’s crazy that shit this great has gone unheard for this long.  “Hey Wreck” is a tune in the vein of the finest No New York CONTORTIONS contributions, while “Dreamland In Machineland” rumbles along with an incredibly warped (and a tad snotty) sound.  This record is definitely not for everyone, but the geek in me flipped for it (sorry, couldn’t resist)." (Mitch Cardwell)


James Goss & the Geeks
- Poland / The Spark  7" The Geeks, 1981 PS
 They also did a free jazz/punk LP called It's Not About Notes Anymore on
 Geek Records 1981. They self-released one LP as the Geeks called It's Not
 About Notes in 1979. It is pretty much free jazz but with a low fi punk sound -
 but still I would call it free jazz rather than punk. James Goss was a black poet
 friend of theirs who chants & sings his poetry over the top of something that sounds
 like a punk version of Archie Shepp circa 1974 or a rudimentary Butthole Surfers.
 That stuff I'd call punk, though more art punk than anything else. Their drummer
 went on to own a sound company in Frisco, Radley Hirsch. He put the sound system
 in at Gilman and ran it for years. He also did Epicenter's sound system. The
 guitarist Tim Wirrick is currently in Polkacide. I am releasing a 2 song 7"
 Hey Wreck / Dreamland on my label, SS Records. It was recorded at the same time
 Poland was and with James Goss, who is now a prison minister/shrink and a very
 nice guy.[Scott Soriano] Also check out Scott's great review  site.

 8/11/02
 James Goss & the Geeks  Poland b/w The Spark  7"
     (The Geeks, 1981)

 North of San Francisco, on the San Pablo Bay, the town San Quentin
 is known for one thing: The California State Prison at San Quentin.
 Johnny Cash wrote a great song about the place and recorded his
 second ÒprisonÓ album there. Charlie Manson called it home for a
 good portion of his life. And it is where CaliforniaÕs death row is
 located.
     Fortunately, San Quentin has something more than a prison to
 boast about. San Quentin is the birthplace of the Geeks. In 1962, a
 group of grade school friends high on jazz and rock'n roll got
 together and started a band. By 1966, they added horns. Loose and
 free form, anything goes was the rule, a guide many American
 non-hippie/pre-punk teens followed.
      From their house next to the prison, the Geeks skronked and
 skronked until one day a postcard came from Paris. Their buddy, Jim
 Goss, was in France, experiencing the birth of European punk rock.
 Goss urged his buddies to heed the DIY call and make a record. The
 band took his advise. In 1979, the Geeks released the album, ItÕs
 Not About Notes, about 40 minutes of clashing instruments, melding
 sound and high energy.
      A year later, Jim Goss came back to town and the Geeks
 recorded a few songs with him in the living room of their house
 next to the prison. The recordings are primitive. Done with two
 mikes on to a two track reel-to-reel, the Geeks ÒmixedÓ the session
 the old fashion way: They positioned the instruments so that the
 quietest were closest to the mikes. Two songs from that session
 were pressed on vinyl.
     The two songs - Poland and The Spark - are a tribute to what
 was great about punk rock of the late-1970s/early 1980s. They
 illustrate a time before people dictated what was ÒpunkÓ and what
 wasnÕt, an era before the music was divided into genre ghettos.
      Both songs are held together by a consistent, repetitive beat,
 a bass that bubbles and builds, and James GossÕs
 half-chanted/half-sung vocals. Sax and guitar twist through the
 music, often flaring up in free runs across the primitive backing.
 From time to time the songs break down to near chaos.
     The Geeks walk that thin line between jazz and rockÕn roll but
 not in the way hot shit jazz wankers interpreted rock. The Geeks
 remind me more of a low fi, early 70s Archie Shepp or a union of
 the 13th Floor Elevators, early Butthole Surfers, and a good mess
 of the ESP Records catalog. GossÕs lyrics are among the best that
 IÕve heard. Poetic, inventive and political - though not preachy.
 His concern is the revolutionary spirit of ordinary people,
 something the band speaks to as well in the freedom of its music.
     Record like Poland b/w The Spark are what make record
 scrounging worth it. I would gladly shift though 1000 more copies
 of JourneyÕs Escape or Sing-a-long with Mitch Miller for a gem like
 this. Idiosyncratic and full of life, this is the kind of record
 that cuts through the mediocre blah of shit suburban existence.

The Geeks  Hey Wreck! b/w Dreamland 7" (S-S) $4 *NEW*
The Geeks started as a pre-teen garage band in Marin County, CA in 1962 and
through time morphed into a free jazz art punk group. In the words of one of
their pals, "They played BeBop 10 years after it was dead and punk 10 years
before it started." They released on 7" and one LP in the late 70s/early 80s
and then disappeared. But they left the world a ton of unreleased recorded
stuff and that's what this is here. Two songs of there-are-no-rules "punk"
back when punk meant there are no rules. Think Archie Shepp meets Flipper
and you got a bit of an idea what I mean. 300 made.
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