The members of Glittercore are Little Rock music scene mainstays, with several decades of local history and creative involvement among the three of them. Singer and guitarist Paul Bowling was a founding member of the seminal Little Rock punk band Trusty, bassist KV plays in hazynation and Nos Rebos, drummer Shayne Gray was in local favorites Techno-Squid Eats Parliament, and Bowling and Gray previously played together in The Dangerous Idiots. This is a partial accounting (Gray also cites bands ranging from Victory Garden, featuring Ben Nichols, to "a solo side project called Naked Lunchbox that I'd like to take off the back burner in the near future"), but space is limited.
Glittercore, their primary focus these days, is a kind of culmination of the variously successful, locally adored groups they've been a part of, as is their self-titled debut (available on iTunes and Bandcamp), a sincere and ambitious indie rock record made by the generation who first used the term. This Friday at Vino's, they'll celebrate the album release with Dead Anchors and The Muddlestuds, 9 p.m., $5. To mark the occasion, I asked Shayne and Paul about their admirable and strange careers, and about the new album.
Shayne, tell me about Techno-Squid Eats Parliament. People speak reverently about this band, but your Allmusic bio is kind of tragic. What happened?
Shayne: Sure, I've wanted to explain this for many years. I was the drummer of Techno-Squid Eats Parliament and the band was formed in 1992 with me, Clay Bell, Aaron Sarlo and Mark Pearrow. The band name came from Mark. He said it sounded like some ridiculous headline from one of his favorite British comedy magazines, Viz.
Billboard Magazine described us as "Anglo-smart power-pop with punk undertones." After three months together, we made it into the semifinals of Spectrum Weekly's Arkansas Showcase [which later became the Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase], judged by music industry legends Jody Stephens, Jim Dickinson, John Fry and Rick Clark. We placed second that evening, and, shortly after, signed to Ardent Records and recorded our eponymous album with Grammy winner John Hampton producing (Gin Blossoms, White Stripes, etc.). Philips Multimedia and Polygram re-released "Techno-Squid Eats Parliament," we toured the U.S. and Canada and were featured on MTV's "120 Minutes," as well as on MTV Canada. We played SXSW, Crossroads, NXNE and Amnesty International in Boston. The album was recorded at the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tenn. (our A&R Rep was Jody Stephens). In the early days I did most of the booking, management and promotion; Aaron and Clay were the primary singer-songwriters.
There were several "Spinal Tap"-type things that happened with Techno-Squid Eats Parliament. Ardent Records asked us to change our name so we would be more "marketable." We refused and because of this we were often misplaced in record stores under "Funkadelic" or "Techno." Distribution on the original album was not that great (much like with the story of Big Star). Distribution picked up after Ardent made our debut release into one of the world's first "Audio-Visual Compact Discs" using Macintosh products. The problem was Microsoft was just about to be the most used platform and really only very rich artists and/or IT geeks were using Macintosh at that time. This meant most of the population didn't even have access to a computer that could play the video and interactive portions of our disc.
We asked Ardent to print the CD to "look like a 45 RPM vinyl record" (yes, this was before Pearl Jam did it). We thought it would be clever to put a sound effect of a needle going on and off the record at the beginning and end of the CD. However, instead of making the CD look like a 45, Ardent just printed their old-school Ardent logo onto the disc. On the new Audio-Visual CD was placed a big "warning label" (that we were never told about) that read something like "Warning, this is an Audio-Visual Compact Disc. It's compatible only with Macintosh computers. It contains band and fan interviews, four music videos and links to the website. The music on this disc can also be played in your regular compact disc player. However, if you hear any hissing, buzzing or popping sounds at the beginning it could mean you're damaging and/or blowing up your speakers." Many people thought the sound effect of the needle on the record was their speakers blowing up, or so it was said. I guess we ended up being a tax write-off. By the end of 1995 I quit the band and started looking into going back to college for pre-reqs for nursing.
We became close as brothers traveling on the road for three-plus years. We were one of the few local bands that toured and we would fill up clubs — like Vino's — to max capacity. I'd like to think Ashtray Babyhead, American Princes and other later great Little Rock bands may have been influenced by us. We played and toured with such bands as The Farm, Cracker, Cheap Trick, The Connells, Eve's Plum, Gigolo Aunts, Babe The Blue Ox, All (formally The Descendants), Alex Chilton.
All members of [the band] still keep in touch. In fact, [we are] in process of recording (via the magic of the Internet) a whole new/all original album as sort of a "20 Year Reunion" and we may play a few reunion/CD release shows within the next year or two in Little Rock and Memphis.
You also played the lead role in the independent film "The Delta." How did you get involved in that film and what's the story there — did you think about trying acting after that?
Shayne: Right after quitting Techno-Squid Eats Parliament I traveled with some friends to Memphis to see the Little Rock band Ho-Hum play Club 616. On the way back, we stopped at a local gay bar called "J-Wags" (imagine Deney Terrio's "Dance Fever" meets "The Dukes of Hazard") so I could pee. On the way out, the intoxicated door lady said, "Hey guy, there's a movie director in here from New York that wants you to be in his film!" I said, "Yeah, I bet he wants me to dress up in a pink bunny suit and rub some powder on his lips." I gave her a wrong number. Apparently, a friend gave them my girlfriend's number and there were three people to see me in Little Rock the very next day.
It ended up being a legitimate independent film written and directed by Ira Sachs. He's originally from Memphis and worked as a script supervisor in New York for Martin Scorsese, and he'd already made an interesting short film called "Lady." I tried out for the main role in the movie, called "The Delta," and a few weeks later I was in Memphis for the summer making the film with an entire film crew from New York.
I guess I was more open to playing a bisexual role in the film because I'd recently been impressed with River Phoenix in the film "My Own Private Idaho." With the money made from the film, I was able to start back college at UALR. I was in nursing school at UAMS by the time the film was featured at Sundance Film Festival in 1997. Sundance is in Park City, Utah, and my ex-bandmates were in San Francisco and Boston so I used it as an opportunity to get to visit with them again. I got to meet and hang out with Summer Phoenix, Parker Posey, Michael Stipe (of REM) and a few other cool people while at Sundance. A photographer for Rolling Stone took photos of me. I was interviewed on Latin HBO, Sundance Film Channel and several other things like that. I went to Los Angeles for a week and met with New Line Cinema and Bohemian Entertainment Agency. They seemed to think I could be "the next Tobey Maguire." I tried out for "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and "The Thin Red Line." Edward Norton got the part I tried out for in "The Thin Red Line" and then the part was dropped altogether.
"The Delta" ended up playing many film festivals worldwide. It's now on Netflix and was picked up for distribution by Strand Releasing out of San Francisco. It was recently added on at the permanent collection at the MoMA in New York. I think it's still available for rent at RAO Video in downtown Little Rock. New Line Cinema wanted me to move to L.A., and they were sure I'd be able to get into a movie soon but I had just gotten married at the time and was in nursing school. After being disheartened by the entertainment industry in general from the band fiasco I decided to stay home in Little Rock. I was asked to do several "gay films" after "The Delta," which I turned down all except for the part of Matthew Shepard in 2001 for a "made for MTV" movie called "The Matthew Shepard Story." I was contacted by some people from MTV to send in an audition tape. I did and was later told I was "too fit for the part." In 2010 I began acting again and played a role in the UCA short films "Tomahawk" by Eric White and "Tree" by Christy Ward (of "Slingblade" fame).
Paul, tell me a little about your history with Trusty. And why did you decide to stay in Little Rock when the band left for D.C.?
Paul: I was Trusty's original bass player during their formative years, 1989-92, which also coincided with a surge in the Little Rock music scene. In those three years we managed to record something like 30 songs and played many shows locally and maybe just as many in Memphis. We got quite a bit of attention and it was great fun. Trusty's first tour, on the other hand, was miserable for me, with many canceled dates, little to no turnout and very little money.
We limped along between shows eating peanut butter sandwiches and sleeping on the ground at free state park campgrounds. I guess I wasn't punk rock enough to endure much of that and when the guys started talking about relocating to D.C., I opted out and went to college. I'm really proud of my time with Trusty and feel very fortunate to have been involved in that little piece of Little Rock music history. Bobby [Matthews] and James [Brady] wrote some amazing tunes and Bircho and I fleshed them out. It was an excellent partnership and Trusty was a great band.
When and why did you guys decide to start a new project?
Shayne: In 2009, Aaron Sarlo, Paul and I returned to music, founding The Dangerous Idiots. We recorded "Dangerous Idiots" at Wolfman Studios in Little Rock in the fall of 2009/spring of 2010, and the record was released to critical acclaim in the British blogosphere and Arkansas press just after Bowling and I departed the band. Paul and I decided to do something a little different after making that album. We played with a few other musicians before we found "our sound" when KV started playing bass and singing with us at the end of 2012.
Paul: Shayne and I wanted to do something out of the ordinary so we thought we'd create a glam-punk band, dress up extravagantly and wear makeup at shows. The band was a four-piece originally with my dear friend Tim Anthony on bass and India Carter McFarlin on guitar and keys. The band played some covers and I had a lot of lyrical help from local writer Micah McConnell on the originals. Bass player extraordinaire Luke Tibbet filled in for Tim for a while and when Tim and India both moved on in November 2011 the direction of the band changed considerably. Bass player/singer KV came on board and the glam-feel of the shows, the cover tunes and many of the originals were replaced with a fuller guitar-driven sound topped with more emphasis on vocals and harmonies. The new CD reflects that, and it's my favorite Glittercore effort so far.
What's better and/or worse about the music scene here today than when you entered it?
Shayne: In the '90s there were fewer places to play. I do miss bands making and posting flyers like we used to do. Little Rock has always had a vibrant music and art scene and it is even better now, and seems to be growing by leaps and bounds and gaining much local needed support.