by Justin F. Farrar
originally published, issue #7, 2005
…Spending nights (and early mornings) guzzling brews, smoking grass, beating off, snorting coke, talking music, and rattling the Greek neighbors’ faux-Swarovski chandeliers with high-decibel emissions of what we wasted fuckers lovingly referred to as “retard rock”: Puff Tube, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, Sad Sack, Happy Flowers, Lil Bunnies, Paraquat Earth Band, Sockeye, and San Francisco’s Icky Boyfriends.
Icky Boyfriends’ raw, brutal, barbed, bitter, and piercing lo-fi hard rock never really fit the retard rock label: it always felt more intelligent, poetic, desperate, and more severely human than the wonderfully twisted noise produced by the other freaks listed above. Listening to the Ickies’ I’m Not Fascinating LP was (and is), in a strange sense, as vital and psychically wrenching as listening to, say, Neil’s Time Fades Away or Television Personalities’ Painted Word, or even side four of the Jan and Dean Anthology Album.
As I scan these stark, black-and-white, forensic-like photographs of the Ickies from the early- to mid-90s, each damaged rocker dude looks like he might have died by 2005. (Fortunately, none of them did; they just seem a wee bit scarred.) The guy with the long, stringy metal-hair is Shea Bond; he played guitar or bass, but never guitar and bass. (That’s an important fact to remember for all you Beat Happening fans.) The stoned, sleepy-eyed fella is the drummer, Anthony Bedard. He once bled all over his kit and occasionally gnawed on a drumstick when smacking his hi-hat. The savage genius maintaining the massive, skyscraping ‘fro is vocalist Jonathan Swift. He was/is this genuinely brilliant, irate (and somewhat delicate) filthy-mattress outsider poet, even if that phrase now reeks of some urban slamfest nightmare. As the nosy rock journalist dredging up ancient history while constructing this, I felt like Swift possessed the capability to size me up and cut me down at any moment, because that’s what Jon Icky did to the entire fucking world. He would open his trap and sing, scream, wail, and growl scathing, insightful lyrics while his fellow Ickies laid down one cracked punk-jammer after another. Then again, that’s too mythical for these guys. As the Ickies once said, “Fuck that rock star crap.”
continue reading "Oral Damage: An “In Their Own Words” Case Study of Icky Boyfriends"