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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Mortal Micronotz


Kansas isn't really known for producing too many punk bands that break out beyond their local scene, but one band of note was The Mortal Micronotz who managed to release 4 LPs and one 7 inch. Their earlier incarnation featured Dean Lubensky on vocals and they cranked out some great nerdy (garage like?) punk. I've never heard the releases with Jay Hauptli fronting the band so I really can't comment but I've read that the band had a rougher sound during this period preferred by some and not by others. I'll leave the David Lee Roth/Sammy Hagar debate to fans of The Micronotz (we ALL know who wins the Van Halen one). I don't have any pressing info but 1984's Live Recording Of The Video Soundtrack 7" seems to float around the least so here it is-
I'm Too Good
So Fine
It's Alive
Cleo
Dean's Lead
All of their recordings were collected on 2 CDs @1995 but I'm pretty sure they are out of print, if you know any different let me know.

24 Comments:

At 12:02 AM, Blogger rss2pdf said...

all the guys in micronotz were real nice, too.

i saw 'em at some basement in denver and they ruled.

 
At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Jason said...

I grew up in Lawrence & am pretty grateful to have had the Micronotz around in both incarnations (between them & the Embarrassment we had it pretty damn good in Kansas for a spell). The Micronotz sound really exemplifies a certain "Midwest Punk" feel to me (with '60's - '70's American Punk & Proto-Punk bypassing Hardcore in terms of influence for them by a long shot), but some of that might be my circumstances at play there; I was a kid, they were one of my favorite bands, I bought the original albums that they did covers off of, etc. The Dean years probably edge out the Jay era as my favorite, but they wrote a lot of great songs during both periods (that I think were never captured in the studio really, though this release comes somewhat close). "Cleo" & "Dean's Lead" from this single were among the few songs that made the transition when the singer switchover happened (the latter being reworked as "Polyester Slave" on "The Beast That Devoured Itself" LP (jacket design by Randy Biscuit Turner!). The Jay stuff didn't really sound rougher -- just his voice did (he often got described as "gruff" or "growly"), by the end they were compared more regularly to bands like the Replacements or Hüsker Dü rather than the Iggy/ Dead Boys references they got more towards their start (though I think at least some of that was due more to the production on their later releases than the songwriting).

I don't know who in the band is still making music these days, but here's a little "where they are now" as far as my limited knowledge allows:

Drummer Steve Eddy has a roofing company in Lenexa, guitarist John Harper was a sous chef for a spell (don't know if he still is or not -- but he was a really cool guitarist), original singer Dean Lubensky does (some very good) art direction & design in NYC, "second era vocalist" Jay Hauptli still lives & works in Lawrence (maybe still playing music? He had a few bands later.) and bassist David Dale killed himself back in 1993.

I know that Grand Theft Audio was gearing up to release a fairly comprehensive overview of their whole career, but I don't know where that project is at right now.

 
At 11:28 AM, Blogger malfeitor said...

Great info, Jason. Thanks for sharing it. Since Fresh Sounds did the retrospective CDs in the mid nineties it seems odd that GTA would be doing a comp or do you think they are just going to retool the previous releases?

 
At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Jason said...

Well it was sorta my impression that Fresh Sounds was going to be licensing the recordings to GTA, along w/ some new stuff (rarities, maybe a video or two, cleaned up mastering, good liners -- the usual GTA deluxe treatment), but I don't know the real ins & outs of how that stuff was going to work. I DO know that at one time at least the idea was that the GTA discs would pretty much cover the whole range of releases that the band had made (maybe even the songs from the Fresh Sounds From Middle American tape?) & then some, so to that end I went through a range of live recordings I'd taped as a kid looking to find highlights for possible inclusion (mostly oddball things like some covers they did of Alice Cooper, MC5, & Beatles tunes for example) but I don't think any of that was slated to make the final cut last I knew (which was a couple of years ago).

Those Fresh Sounds/ Garfunkle/ Mow Down Music (there were a lot of names attached to the CDs) comps of all the main recordings got SUPER limited distribution too, so if there IS a market for their music these days it's probably not really been "saturated" or whatever. Unless you were really actively looking for them or living in Lawrence in the mid 90's & shopping at Love Garden (& maybe a couple other music stores) I can't imagine they would have even presented themselves as options to buy, but maybe I'm wrong.

You know actually after posting that info stuff I listened to a bunch of songs from each "era" of singer & I guess I can't really say that I have a favorite. Mostly it's probably that Punk Rock (or whatever) seemed a lot more fresh & new to me when I first heard the Dean tunes (I was 11 or 12 years old), so it's maybe fair to assume that that period has just got more nostalgia/ blah blah blah wrapped up in it for me.

On a kinda related note I'm going to be playing a Weird Lovemakers (a reasonably crummy band I was in during the 90's) "reunion" show tonight down in Mexico for a pal's wedding so we'll see if this "nostalgia" things works both ways & we're forgiven for how bad we're going to suck. Oh -- and even more related; I stole my little lead in the middle of the Weird Lovemakers song "Gotta Gotta Get Some" from the into to the Micronotz tune "Feels Like" off their "Smash!" EP. Shhh. No one knows this.

Okay man, thanks for the post & now I'd better buy some guitar strings.

 
At 8:34 AM, Blogger Eric said...

What great info. I have the first LP and like it fine, never had any luck tracking down other releases by these guys. Thanks for posting this.

And Jason, "reasonably crummy"? No way, the Weird Lovemakers were the bees knees

 
At 3:54 AM, Anonymous Neal said...

i'm not sure if those two cds are still available, but i picked one of them up a year or two ago at a cool record store in lawrence. forgot the name.

 
At 7:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting this being talked about here. Takes me back to the days. Wow. I always thought that the Embarrasment was the more accomplished of the two bands but that probably is just a matter of taste.
I was in Columbia in those days and first learned about the Lawrence, Kansas City scene from Frank Smart of Get Smart. What a great guy! What a cool band! So Broadcast was there and around, (I think I met one of the band members) and there was Joey Stomp and possible the very first "punk" I met from the BIG city. My memory only serves me well enough to remember the name of his band Choke. I think it was Johnny but can't remember his moniker (oh now I know... Sick....classic Johnnny Sick! Ha! What a hoot!)
Boy the days of shows at the VFW with the likes of Whipping Boy, Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks, Husker Du... o my lordy...Then there was the SPK show at the Off the Wall Hall which was actually recorded and released.
I did see the micronotz a couple of times (and interviewed them for our Fanzine Misery) and the funny thing was in some ways they were treated like the Beastie Boys were treated in New York in their early days (when BB released Cookie Pus on Rat Cage records) not a lot of respect because they were younger. I'm sorry to here about Dale because he was a really nice guy. Sad. It reminds of Pepe from the Loco Gringos from down in Dallas, TX. Another talented musician only he OD'ed.
When you say Mexico, is that Mexico, Missouri?
I need to get my crap together and dust off and organize my old records. A friend share this blog because he's one of the Doomsday Massacre guys and thought it was interesting to share.

Well, thanks for the inspiration!

Bob

 
At 11:06 PM, Blogger ShaneFlipside said...

Haven't read all the comments yet, but know I can't resist making one. The Micronotz have always been special to me.It is the 2nd singer's line-up I consider utterly essential - but the early stuff was great punk. Let's just say that with Jay sounded more adult. But the biggest deal is how they got to come in and play at Leavenworth Federal Pen when I was there in 85. I helped set up the show by bringing the recreation specialist at the prison together with the local (Lawrence is about 40 miles away) DJ's. They were great live, but the crowd quickly dwindled because back then no one in prison had grown up on punk music - the whites there liked either county or so-called classic rock. At any rate, the'Notz had the trait of having whole start to finish LPs with not one weak cut. I actually think they pulled it off twice back to back with the Jay LP's (40 Fingers and The Beast That Devoured Itself). Jay's gruff voice happens to be the perfect one for punk/punk and roll - so that was sure no problem. They delivered, and I'm honored to have seen them live. Tragically, one of the members, Dave the bassist, committed suicide - and locals said one thing he was depressed about was the bands fate (no success to speak of - maybe it was just coincidence - but right around the time Dave hung himself a band from Lawrence was getting a big push from a major label to be the next Pearl Jam). Anyone who can find the double CD with all their stuff should get it - anyone who has it and wants to share - do so!

 
At 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, those were the days! You forgot String of Coincidence -- that was me and Joey Stomp (with Dave Slab and the Faze (lately departed sadly) on vocals... still playing for my part...lost touch with Joey and all...look for die Raumfaher (the spacemen) on cd baby soon for latest...
-- signed Les Ube (Broadcast guitar, slabs drummer, SOC guitar)

cheers all

 
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At 5:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to hear you mention Faze. I loved him sexy thing that he was. Great musician.

 
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At 7:56 PM, Anonymous stevie d said...

just a quick comment - doubt if this will ever get read two years after the previous post, but i currently play in two bands with some of the actors in these threads.

Cryin' Out Loud is a garage-tinted honky-tonk band, and Steve Eddy who played drums in the Micronotz is our drummer. Also in the band is Marc Koch of Get Smart!, who had singing and guitar duties there. Note that Get Smart!'s drummer was indeed Frank, but he was Frank Loose, not Frank Smart.

Steve Eddy of the 'Notz is also in a second band with me called Hyperopia (myspace.com/hyperopia), a quirky indie pop project with Lori Wray of the Von Bulows and pals with Todd Newman and the Jayhawks and the Pedaljets and others.

John Harper was a chef, but he just finished his law degree recently and joined a practice with his father. He got married to really tough gal Cheryl Frisbee and lives out in the country and participated in the Pedaljets reunion bit a few months ago in KC, and also in the surprise Micronotz mini-show at the Embarrassment reunion show at Liberty Hall (former Opera House) in Lawrence KS in August of 2006. Dean and Jay were there and both performed at the same time - confusing and kick-ass all at once. Jay lives and works in Lawrence, and Dean recently moved from NYC to Cali to work with his beautiful wife out there and they have a cute little kid.

 
At 9:53 PM, Anonymous harperchrist said...

John Harper piping up in response to Shane Flipside's comment: I was very close to David, and he never had any problem with the Micronotz breaking up. He did not kill himself because he missed being in the Micronotz. He killed himself for reasons that only he knows. I spoke with the man one day before he killed himself, and he seemed just fine. It was a shock to everyone, and nobody knows why he did it. Nobody but David will ever know. And, that is all there is to it. Accept it, and stop thinking about it. Move on.

 
At 7:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm backing John H on this, bigtime. I was a friend of David's, as well, and had spoken with him not long before his death. And, yes he was fine and the normal David that everyone loved.

As far as the story that David was bummed because of the success of another Lawrence, well, it's just crap. That myth was perpetuated, maybe even created by the band Paw, in a national metal magazine called Rip. In the article, one of the band members said that a local punk musician killed himself because Paw was getting so much attention. But, he was bragging, or, at least, the writer made it seem that way. It was a quote. Geez, I'm still pissed off about that to this day.
Rob Morrow

 
At 7:14 AM, Blogger mike said...

Mike Blur checking in here. Since this blog post might go on for eternity, I must put in my .02.

Of course, David killed himself on his own volition. He did leave several clues portending his death.

An emotionally fragile person such as Dave too stuff way too personally.

For example. He was afraid of turning 30. I'm 44 as I type this and love living life!

To Dave's friends that are reading this: I'm aware of his childhood issues. It may the root cause when it's all said and done.

Mike Blur

 
At 2:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it was true that he killed himself because he was afraid of turning 30 then he is probably better off dead.

 
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At 1:47 AM, Blogger neildynamite said...

I miss Dave. Eric McKee

 
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