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B A L L P E E N ( ! ) B U L L E T I N S
updated: March 28th, 2006

Salütes Sound Seekers ( ! )
SKiN GRAFT's Ace Reporter, "Jazzy" Joe Romita here with another staggering summary of the frankly phenomenal feats fathered at the famed fount of flabbergast... the forever favored, far-from faddish, far-flung frontiersmen of the fashionable Fort SKiN GRAFT!!!! Face front, frenzied ones!!!!


vv Full Color / Double-Sided shirt for all seasons!

vv in Chicago April 7th and 8th & there's a poster too!
vv Release party on April 8th!
HOLY SMOKES & SG Review Roundup
vv Hella yeah, pinback you ears - we have a title!
vv Unholy matrimony in the works!

Hail there, Hi there friends, Jazzy Joe is back in the News Desk saddle again! There's no time to waste, so let's hopalong cassidys!

ITEM! Ask The Answer Man Dept: While taking a gander at this month's bulging fan mail sack, a few questions came up again and again. Topping the charts was this query: "Has (Yowie / Ruins) found a new (guitarist / bass player) yet?, and right behind that one is "When are you guys gonna make some new T-shirts?" While the answer to question one remains "not yet", your Jazzy one has some good news for you's on Q2!:

To coincide with the Skin Graft Art Show (details in the item following), Skin Graft is pleased to present it's wondrous new T-shirt, featuring the one and only GUMBALLHEAD THE CAT in flat-out fabulous, fun-tastic, full color! Yes, the new Gumballhead T-shirt is sure to scratch it's way to the top of your wardrobe, gleefully whizzing all over the lesser shirts in your closet. These spiffy Fruit Of The Loom's are printed with not ONE, not TWO, not THREE, not FOUR, not SIX, but FIVE colors of ink on the front, rendering the bad, bad pussycat, cigarette a'blazing, standing beside the battlin' Skin Graft X-17 jet. The arms outstretched version of Skin Graft logo graces the back, so coming or going, you will be cool as a cucumber. Now, as your Jazzy Joe brought up last time (when speaking of the screen-printed AIDS Wolf LP's) the bright-eyed of you out there probably realize that as the colors of ink go up, so do the costs - so these grand garments ain't cheap to manufacture. If there's one thing that the Jazzy One's learned during his tenure at SGRex dot com, it's that Skin Graft enthusiasts come in all shapes and sizes, and nothing sucks harder than having a bunch of Youth Large sized shirts in stock with a gaggle of XL pals wishing they could squeeze into them. So in an attempt to nip this in the bud, we are offering the shirt for preorder now, that way we're sure to print to your size right off the bat! But that's not all! Also on the apparel tip, the classy Skin Graft one inch Logo Buttons are finally back in stock after a long winter hiatus, so get 'em while they're hot!

To order, swing by the "everything else" section of the Skin Graft paypal shop, select your size and click your money our way. Non-paypal's are invited to send checks and money orders to the P.O. Box. The Gumballhead Shirts discounted pre-order price will expire very shortly and the tee's will be ready to roll out the second week of April because...

ITEM! As your Jazzy one mentioned above, Skin Graft is going all high falutin' and putting on an Art Show! Best part of all is, it's so high falutin' a third party scribed a press release, so Jazzy can just sit back while you read on!

For immediate release:
SKiN GRAFT: Nine Lives
of Records, Comics and Gumballhead the Cat

In 1986, teenagers Mark Fischer and Rob Syers founded Skin Graft Comix in the suburbs of St. Charles, Missouri. Individually and in collaboration, the two drew hardcore punk inspired comics, reproduced on xerox machines and sold at punk-rock shows. Rob and Mark moved to Chicago to attend the School of the Art Institute in the 90's, where they continued to draw comics and studied animation, printmaking and painting. While attending school, Mark formed Skin Graft Records by packaging a comic book sleeve with a 7" vinyl record by the band, Dazzling Killmen. The label would come to spearhead a contemporary No Wave scene (then dubbed "Now Wave", with tongue planted firmly in cheek) that continues to this day. By championing bands such as U.S. Maple, The Flying Luttenbachers and Lake Of Dracula in the United States; and Melt-Banana, Space Streakings and Ruins in Japan, a new era of challenging, anarchistic rock, rejecting the conventions of popular alternative music, was ushered in. The label's cover art and packaging would become increasingly elaborate and stylistically unique - from metal-sleeved LP's to Chinese throwing star shaped CD's, to screen-printed, rubber-jacketed albums (with a temporary tattoo decal tossed in for good measure).

In the book "SAMPLER, Contemporary Music Graphics" (1999), Adrian Shaughnessy wrote: "Certainly the most interesting trend (in album design) is Skin Graft's anti-design stance. Energetically avoiding the conventions of graphic design with great relish, their sleeves hark back to the amateurism and psychedelia of punk, but with the crucial difference that their choice of imagery is informed with intelligence and wit. Besides permanently holding two fingers up at the record industry, these sleeves cock a snook at fashionable American graphic design. Their inspiration comes from the vernacular of daily life: comic books, TV cartoons and the folk art of modern commercialism."

On cover art for the band Mount Shasta, Rob would paint the character that was to become Skin Graft's most popular cartoon character. Gumballhead The Cat first appeared engaged in self-mutilation with a shot of whisky and a razor blade at his side. The image would become an underground icon and Rob would continue chronicling Gumballhead's adventures in small run mini comics for years to come. Meanwhile, Mark would bring together the label's entire roster to produce the festival Oops (!) indoors, a massive annual collaboration that would combine surreal live theater and experimental music to bring the label's comic aesthetic to life. Wholly interactive and making use of the entire club, attendees could expect to find a Glenn Danzig impersonator host, inspirational messages from a Straight-Edge Santa Claus, between-band skits involving a door-to-door detergent sales-monster and his swami confidant, and the occasional Gorilla on a toilet behind a bathroom stall. The label's roster continued to evolve, but always remained on the outermost fringe, as acts like Arab On Radar, Quintron and Cheer-Accident joined the fold.

In the year 2000, Fischer moved to Vienna, Austria. He continued to manage the record label from abroad (for a time with the assistance of MP Shows head, Brian Peterson) until his return to the United States in 2004. Fischer currently resides in St. Louis, but a return to Europe appears imminent. Syers too, returned to St. Louis for a time, but now lives in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago. Skin Graft Records continues to release smartly-packaged music by acts such as Made In Mexico, Aids Wolf, Yowie and Koenjihyakkei to both critical acclaim and disdain, depending on the reviewer's temperament. The label's aesthetic remains wholly unique in the music industry, immediately apparent upon a visit to it's website, populated by an unusual cast of characters, such as the hard-selling news reporter "Jazzy" Joe Romita and press magnet Charlie Nite.

In the spring of 2005, Rob and Mark resumed their comic collaborations by creating the definitive Gumballhead The Cat series, which is now playing, in full color, in the Chicago Reader, the city's long-standing alternative newsweekly. The two have forged a unique method of collaborating long distance, applying email attachments and instant messaging to their traditional tools of pen, ink and caffeine. Of Gumballhead, the Comics Journal wrote: "The comics describe a zany world of hot rods, beer and smokes, rock and roll and guns. The stories mix humor, action and a touch of EC-style horror. They revel in pop iconography and arch dialogue. They are smart- filled with witty plot twists and some of the most incredible drawings of explosions and broken glass you'll ever be privy to".

SKiN GRAFT: 9 Lives of Records, Comics and Gumballhead the Cat is a retrospective art show of the first 20 years of Skin Graft Records and Comics. On display are examples of Syers and Fischer's early high school zines, artwork from the Skin Graft records and a multitude of behind the scenes notes, correspondence and scribbles. Original drawings and large format color prints from the first 50 episodes of the current Gumballhead series will be on display, as well as video footage compiled from Skin Graft's Oops (!) theater shows, band performances and scenes from a never-completed stop motion animation film starring Skin Graft comic characters Serious Brown and Hot Satan.

The show is two-nights only, Friday April 7th and Saturday, April 8th from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. at South Union Arts at 1352 S. Union in Chicago. Mark and Rob will be at the show to answer questions, unveil a new Gumballhead T-shirt and sell Skin Graft wares. The show is open to all ages.

On Saturday, Rob and Mark will also appear at the Handlebar at 3 p.m. (2311 W. North Avenue) to tap the first keg of the 2006 batch of Gumballhead Beer, the award-winning summer wheat brew masterminded by the local Three Floyds Brewery.

SKiN GRAFT: 9 Lives of Records, Comics and Gumballhead the Cat is sponsored by The Chicago Reader, Three Floyds Brewery, Candid Development Webhosting, and MP Shows.

Jazzy again. Can you make that press release just a little longer please? My linguini's not finished yet. Oh well... Yes, this fiasco promises to be a dream come true for the tried and true Skin Graft fanatic - and a fun night out for just about anyone else. Never before as so much junk been lugged out of the Skin Graft basement and tacked to a wall as "art". And perhaps most amazingly, the camera shysters of Skin Graft themselves, Mark and Rob, will be making their first public appearance since the glory days of the Chicago Comicon's way, way back. Non-SG musical acts will also be performing at the space. The first night is particularly appropriate with thee exceptional talent of ex-Cheer-Accident, ex-Flying Luttenbacher, ex-Brise-Glace, ex-tra-ordinary Dylan Posa on-hand to entertain, as well as Lark (none other than ex-Skin Graft intern Theo Katsaounis of the band Locks!). Both are sure to deliver the goods. Out-of-towners, don't bitch, get out your hitchhiking thumb and come on by! Cheap hotels are near the airport. The official show poster is a doozy, a full 11" x 17'' beaut on heavy stock and in full color. And best of all it's available, mailed FLAT, signed by both Rob and Mark, to our magnificent mailorder-ers. Hang it in your bedroom to ward off mean-spirited vampires and ward in potential lovers. How to order? Well, it's back to the paypal shop or back to the post-office, You know the drill!

In case you missed it amidst the claptrap of that windbag press release, spring is springing and that means it's time for another season of Gumballhead Beer from Three Floyds Brewery. Rob and Mark will be at the uncorking ceremonies at the Handlebar on April 8th at 3 p.m., so bring your id, some spare change and your beer gut! Gumballhead Beer is so smooth and tasty, its beloved by beer connoisseurs and winos alike. Check these out these ratings at Beer Advocate Dot Com to see why somebody said "In bottles and on draft, nothing satisfies the beer gland quite like Gumballhead". Anyway... with SO much Gumballhead excitement a'brewing, it seems only appropriate that we top off your glass with a brand spanking new sample strip from the Chicago Reader's weekly comic series! Here's the scoop: After foiling an assassination attempt at the Midwestminister cat show, Gumballhead accidentally claimed the World Wide Fishing Federation's championship belt (long story). Disguised as the trash-talking Fishing Creep, our hero goes up against former heavyweight champ Big Gil Grayson. and winds up in way, way over his head - 30 feet below the lake! Click HERE to give it a read (all of three panels) or visit Gummy's official website HERE.

ITEM! Holy Smokes! Just wait til you hear it! (Confused? See the previous update - editor). It's a way's off yet (the artwork has yet to be figured out), but Jazzy has got the tentative title for you: "Talk To Your Kids About Gangs". The CDR copy passed down from upstairs has 16 tracks and there's not a bum in the bunch! We're keeping a lid on it til we get closer to that inevitable release date, so hang in there, homebuddies. And the reviews just keep popping up on our newly minted releases, of special note (because they're accompanied by lush color pics not available at SG.com), look for Made In Mexico and AIDS Wolf in Alternative Press's 100 bands watch issue. Seems Koenjihyakkei's latest has been heralded as a revelation by darn near everyone, save Grant Purdam at Skyscraper Magazine who says "You can always tell when the critics are too shocked to know what to do because they automatically assume the product in question is genius. But as always, allow Skyscraper to deliver the true dirt: "Angherr Shisspa" is quite interesting and even superior at times, but is much too aimless to be considered anything more than a random experiment". In the same issue, writer John Vogel goes on and on about how upon hearing "Zodiac Zoo", he was certain that Made In Mexico must be a Load Records band... Skin Graft received an unusually high number of emails about these reviews (neither of which were really negative, truth told) - listener Jim Green cut to the chase writing: "Koenjihyakkei aimless?... (expletives deleted) ...Yoshida is the most focused composer on the planet!' Folks, we appreciate the kind words, but send your gripes to the magazines, we just send the promos out. But please keep in mind that most zine writers are relatively young - and many don't yet have an ear as finely tuned as you and your pal Jazzy here. So be nice. That said, nothing got more comments than Melissa Maerz's review of AIDS Wolf "The Lovvers LP" for Spin Magazine: "If you can get past the fact that this Canadian noise-skronk quartet's debut begins with a single Psycho screech played 70 times, that the singer's fork-in-your-eyeball wail never conveys anything but mortal ennui, that their "songs" mostly consist of one guitar-fuzz amp burp extend up the pitch scale, that they're called AIDS Wolf, well, then we have a bridge to sell you -- because, by the end of this disc, you'll want one to jump off of".

And lastly, speaking of AIDS Wolf, no sooner was the band back on Canadian soil following their wild and wooly tour of Europe, than their buddies Athletic Automaton dropped in for a little recording! This promises to be something special gang - watch this space!

Friends, Valentines Day came and went, and so did Jazzy, but rest assured he F'ing loves you. Talk at you next time!



updated: February 15th, 2006


AIDS WOLF vinyl LP & Euro Tour
vv For Lovvers Only...
MADE IN MEXICO 12" split
vv Each band's debut now on vinyl
V >SG's winter triple play

vv Welcome to the 90's

V >Fella's of Hella, Pinback & The Advantage

Greetings Graft-O-Philes! Another New Year is a'dawning in this, the third Golden Age of SKiN GRAFT Records Over Mid-America. Now, in the year previous, your omnipotent anchor was accused of being a bit too haughty - a tad too supercilious - a trifle too overbearing in his reports of the happenings here at the outhouse of ideas. Yes, accusations flew that Jazzy Joe was drunk with power, his magnificence shining too bright for the more sensitive readers of his wondrous writings. Those naysayers will be relieved to read that your Jazzy One is still hung over from the glory of the previous year and has every intention of getting through this news update lickety-split. Nevertheless, future generations shall surely recognize the wonders your magnificent maestro shall impart on this go-round as nothing short of monumental, - and to pull the reveal sans hyperbole is an injustice that Jazzy Joe simply will not allow. So, with alka seltzer at my side, let the dilly-dallying cease - ! Grab hold of your partner - eyes ahead - and - cue astonishment!

ITEM! AIDS Wolf's full length debut is upon us! SG's press magnet Charlie Nite has enlisted vivacious Vikki Warner for a seriously sultry solicitation this time out, so lets all join together and give it a read:

Freedom Summer is not a fleeting season.

It is a state of being, and it doesn't end when the weather gets cold. Freedom Summer is being on the road. It's being part of nature, snuggling with wild animals and howling naked, in the woods. It's the AIDS Wolf way of life: live pure, live hard, play music accordingly. It's not entirely voluntary.

The four members of AIDS Wolf, part band, part life-force warriors, are a harmoniously grating blare. They aim to play tight, but they're not always structured. They transform pure chaos into something you can convulse to, an indoctrination to their Freedom. The sound is agitated, driving, and filled with twitchy energy. AIDS Wolf have released a split 7-inch with The Fugue, and make improvisational music released "cassette-only", on a very limited basis. They have written a million songs.

AIDS Wolf's first full-length album, The Lovvers LP, has arrived. Presented by Skin Graft Records in a deluxe vinyl edition, wrapped in a fold-out 25" x 25" DOUBLE-SIDED four-color silk-screened poster sleeve. Printed by Canada's critically acclaimed screen-printing outfit Seripop, "The Lovvers LP" is filled to the brim with mind-liberating graphic nourishment, the centerpiece of which is a revealing band centerfold.

AIDS Wolf records with Arlen Thompson of Wolf Parade at the 100-Sided Die, an art and music creation mecca they helped to build in their home city of Montreal. They are citizens of the world - and they tour it - stopping their Ford Econoline van frequently to gather wild berries and roll around in the grass.

AIDS Wolf "The Lovvers LP" is up for order now. And as you may have gathered above, the vinyl edition is nothing less than a certified work of A-R-T. Each 25" x 25" poster sleeve has been individually printed with four colors on each side - A total of EIGHT passes per sleeve! With Seripop single-sided posters selling for an average of $25 a pop (with no record included!) these have been priced at the obscenely low price of $13 lucky US dollars postpaid to anywhere in the USA and Canada! In addition, we have a special deal on a lovepumped CD & LP set of "the Lovvers LP" for those who choose to keep their vinyl edition in a virginal state above their mantel - and desire a CD for the ease of digital playback. The paypal savvy may visit the SKiN GRAFT shop HERE - and snail mailers, are invited to send checks and money orders to the P.O. Box.

AND to coincide with the release of The Lovvers LP, AIDS Wolf are embarking on their first European tour, commencing on February 10th!!! For all the details, hop to the TOURS page!

ITEM! Last time, the Jazzy One spilled the beans on the arrival of another band at the distinguished Port Graft, the mighty ATHLETIC AUTOMATON. Since the word broke, reports have come in from parts all 'round of spontaneous celebratory calisthenics, lionizing the newest addition to SG's tag team of audio athletes. In sweet serendipity, we are delighted to offer the audio debut of ATHLETIC AUTOMATON and MADE IN MEXICO in the all new 12" armageddon vinyl edition!!! This new pressing sports a fashionable screenprinted cover design by none other than Mat Brinkman, illustrator extraordinaire of your favorite ARAB ON RADAR albums. The songs? ATHLETIC AUTOMATON delivers "Death On An Escalator" (with guest vocals by J Ryan of Six Finger Satellite) & "Sweatpants No Underwear", while MADE IN MEXICO contribute the debut recordings of "Infrared Eye", "Wounded Knees" & "International Zombie". And - YES - we are also offering the split on the venerable CD format, with completely different cover art! For details visit the EVERYTHING ELSE section of the SHOP!

And while on the topic of MADE IN MEXICO, the reviews are starting to pour in on SKiN GRAFT's triumphant new releases from MIM, KOENJIHYAKKEI and RUINS. After skimming the voluminous write-ups and polling tastemakers everywhere, it's unanimous- any critic who doesn't adore these releases is off his rocker! Jazzy has already waxed poetic on KOENJIHYAKKEI "Anggherr Shisspa", MADE IN MEXICO "Zodiac Zoo" and RUINS newly remastered "Pallaschtom" ad infinitum, so if you're playing catch up, no worries, details on each of these esteemed artists can be found in the previous updates, just keep readin'! Nuff Said!'!

ITEM! After a false start a couple of months back, the droopy dogs upstairs have finally scooted the SKiN GRAFT Records My Space page over to the music section proper - and they've thrown a few bells and whistles up to make it purr. In recent days, we've seen a small population explosion as pals from far and wide join the ranks of the Fraternal Order of Friends Of Ol' Skin Graft ( or F.O.O.F.O.O.S.G. for short). You, dear madams and sirs, are cordially invited to the SKiN GRAFT My Space page HERE. Visitors will also find links to pages managed by some of our dearest partners in rhyme: YOWIE, CHEER-ACCIDENT, GORGE TRIO, POINT LINE PLANE, MADE IN MEXICO, AIDS WOLF, ATHLETIC AUTOMATON, THE FLYING LUTTENBACHERS, QUINTRON, THE CHINESE STARS and even GUMBALLHEAD THE CAT all have their own My Space outposts! Why even JAZZY JOE himself is hard at work on his own page, but he cant seem to get the fershluggin' thing to work!

ITEM! All good things must come to an end, and while my mama always said I'd amount to no good, Jazzy too, is done for the day. Yes, yes, your omnipotent anecdotist hears your howls: "What else is in the mix for two-uh-oh-six, Jazzy"? Take a gander at the pic above for one of the answer's kemosabe. HELLA's Zach Hill is pitching a tent here at Camp SKiN GRAFT, aided and abetted by PINBACK's Rob Crowe and The ADVANTAGE's Carson McWhirter to name a two... Friends, none other than HOLY SMOKES are in the bullpen and take it from Jazzy, once you hear their stuff, your ears will never be the same!





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