Getting dumped always hurts, but it can't come at a worse time than the holidays. Bakamono knew trouble was brewing right around Thanksgiving, when its label, Basura!, expressed misgivings about its just-finished second album. “They had told us they wanted another record,” says frontman Eiso Kawamoto. “So we recorded and paid for it ourselves, then suddenly Melanie, the head of Basura!, called us and said, 'Sorry you guys, you know I love you and the guys at Priority love you, but the president of Priority hates you, so you're fired.' ” Before that, Kawamoto says, Melanie had asked the Japanoise-flavored thrash band to write a three-minute pop single “that she could sell.” Bakamono has a strong local following, but apparently its debut, The Cry of the Turkish Fig Peddler, wasn't exactly flying off the shelves. “It's pretty basic,” says Amy Bloebaum, a publicist at Priority Records, which distributes Basura!, “the people at Priority just felt they weren't selling enough records, and couldn't see them doing so in the future.” Kawamoto says that his band has no idea how many copies they actually sold because the label has ignored repeated requests for statements. “We never received a single one,” Kawamoto says. “Anyway, we play noise; we're not the kind of band that's going to go mainstream and sell a ton of records. I mean, what kind of music did they think we played when they signed us? At least we don't owe them money like other bands do.” Bakamono hopes to place its record with another label. Meanwhile, Bloebaum says Priority is pushing another San Francisco group — Timco — who release Gentleman Jim in late February.
As a musician friend always says, one of the best parts of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle is that you never really need to know what day of the week it is. Keeping that in mind, photographer Paul Bergmann made sure to provide plenty of other information in his second annual calendar of San Francisco Underground Bands; that is, contact numbers for the pinups of the month (including Red Meat, Polkacide, New E-Z Devils, Mudwimmin, Trance Mission, U.S. Saucer, Idiot Flesh, and others), the birthdays and signs of most of their members, and important dates in local music history (Johnny Cash performs at San Quentin, 1/1/60; first Polka Healing at the Mabuhay, 2/8/85). Featuring a full-color shot of Frenchy in a Ford Fairlane on the cover (they play a losing game of strip poker inside), the calendar is available at local music stores and Leather Tongue Video, or directly from Bergmann at 616 Via Alamo, San Lorenzo, CA 94580.
By Sia Michel