Just discovered this incredible new band today, Spider Heart from San Francisco. They could best be described as a cross between early Wire, the Stooges, Jane’s Addiction, Black Sabbath, and the Nymphs. But even that description falls far short. There are few bands that can be described as true originals and Spider Heart is one of them. Lead singer May Black has been described as a cross between Iggy Pop and Janis Joplin and damn if that’s not an accurate assessment. Except I would also throw Inger Lorre, Courtney Love, and Darby Crash into that mix. This is authentically dangerous and thrilling music and if you like what you hear, do yourself a favor and check out their awesome EP “Dirt” available on iTunes and Google Play. And of course, you can also enjoy them on Dave’s Strange Radio!
Nowadays, most people know Bob Forrest as the counselor with the hat on numerous Dr. Drew Pinsky reality series (“Celebrity Rehab”). However, lesser known these days is that Forrest was also the leader of Thelonious Monster, one of the most highly-regarded alternative LA bands of the 1980s / 1990s. Along with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction, and Fishbone, Thelonious Monster was part of a vibrant and exciting Los Angeles music scene that didn’t involve hairspray and makeup.
Forrest and his band had several shots at the brass ring, including record deals with RCA and Capitol Records, but never broke through the way the Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction did, mainly due to Forrest’s excessive substance abuse. Forrest’s low points were extremely low, including washing a syringe in dish soap that an HIV-positive drug shooting buddy had just used because he did not have one at the time. Even Dr. Drew, who knew Forrest as a frequent guest on his nationally syndicated KROQ-FM talk show “Loveline” assumed Forrest was dead at one point.
But Forrest did manage to clean up. And after several humble years working as a dishwasher, started work in drug counseling, where he has had tremendous success helping addicts stay sober.
Forrest’s story is told in an excellent documentary called “Bob and the Monster.” The movie has been on the festival circuit since 2011, but is now reaching video with an added coda discussing events since 2011. “Monster” is not just a terrific time capsule of a great era in recent music history, but a compelling story about how anyone, no matter how low they’ve sunk, can turn their life around and make a tremendous difference in the lives of others. Featuring interviews with Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Courtney Love, Gibby Haynes, Keith Morris, and Steven Adler among many others.
Also highly recommended is Forrest’s autobiography “Running with Monsters” which has just been released as well.
One of the best concerts I ever saw was Jane’s Addiction in the fall of 1990 on their tour supporting “Ritual de lo Habitual.” The highlight of that concert (for me, at least) was their extended version of “Summertime Rolls” from their album “Nothing’s Shocking,” which seemed to last over 10 minutes. Because I had a free ticket and the typical dick-ish rock critic’s snobbery, I went in with a cynical attitude expecting the worst, but came out converted to the church of Perry Ferrell.