by Jimmy Eberle
The other night an associate and I were having a discussion regarding our distaste for crust-punk forefathers Amebix and other d-beat bands from the '80s and '90s -- "music that sounds like two castles crashing into one another," as we dubbed it. In the midst of this conversation, the band Christ On a Crutch came up. A search to find the song "Fish People" accidentally conjured an article posted last week on Screamer Magazine's site, indicating that the band's San Francisco-based label, New Red Archives, was just bought by LA's Cleopatra Records.
What does this have to do with St. Louis? Well, a release by local skate-punk pioneer Ultraman is among the first wave of reissues Cleopatra is shipping out from the NRA catalog! Along with Anti-Flag and the aforementioned Christ On a Crutch, Ultraman's Constant Weight of Zero and a bonus EP will be available, featuring live videos and songs from one of the Ultraman side bands, Krissy Fit.
"This is news to me, to say the least," says vocalist Tim Jamison, when I approached him with questions. "I knew Nicky [from NRA] had changed distributors a few times over the last few years. But I was unaware of this change."
After I showed him the Screamer article, he added, "They're not exactly accurate about it being our 'final' release. But I stopped being surprised by info being a little off years ago."
If you aren't aware of Ultraman's almost-30-year legacy in the St. Louis punk scene, here's a quick history lesson: Following two self-released EPs in 1988, Ultraman got signed to New Red Archives (also home to Reagan Youth, Kraut, Crucial Youth, Samiam, No Use For a Name), and began touring the US. The late-'80s and early-'90s saw the release of the albums Freezing Inside and Non Existence followed by more extensive international touring with UK Subs, Samiam and local beer-metal/food-core legends Whoppers Taste Good. Ultraman broke up around 1991, but it still played one-off reunion shows in the Midwest until officially reforming in 1999. Many a show was played at well-remembered but now extinct venues like Mississippi Nights, the Galaxy and the Creepy Crawl, to name a few. This was one of the first St. Louis hardcore/punk bands to actually make it out the city and get people all over the planet to hear its underground, All/Descendents-esque skate-video classics.
Says Jamison, "It looks like they are only reissuing Weight of Zero and not the first two, which is kind of weird. Unless I read that wrong. We also have a new ten-inch out on several French labels. It's a split with a band called Dot Dash. The drummer was in a band we played with in Lyon [France] with Samiam in 1990." You can find that here.
Bob Fancher, owner of local venue Fubar and guitarist for Ultraman, wanted to let everyone know that the band is in the middle of writing another record right now as well. "I think it'll be our best one yet, but I'm biased," he says. "We'll probably start recording in May or June later this year."