By Anne Frank 2000 & Max Dropout
Imagery by Nicole Bonneau & Keegan
I do remember signing my name on a sheet of paper, and being folded into a shrieking wheelchair, after which I was transported down five flights stairs in some ugly modern building that was, strangely, bereft of elevator. My journey home was a sedative-stained blur. All I know is that I woke up swollen and bleeding all over myself with electrodes still attached to my tits. What could have possibly happened that morning? I was more concerned with opening my bottle of Vicodin than I was with the truth. I popped some pills and sat on the edge of my bed, contemplating whether or not I should cram more gauze into my dripping orifice of a mouth. My room was beginning to look more like the waiting room of a crooked Tijuana surgeon than that of a teenage girl, with pills bottles, Autumn-hued blood smatterings, and bandages strewn poetically throughout the room. It was the first time in my life that I’ve cried, screamed, and bled simultaneously. I oozed with an unfathomable hatred. During a Vicodin-fueled rage, I violently ripped all the electrodes off my breasts and slammed them against my bedroom door. I suppose I was trying to communicate some kind of rudimentary cry for help. They are still there to this day. The only productivity that I could muster under the trauma of bleeding gum holes and constant muscle pain was mindlessly alphabetizing my record collection and sewing random articles of clothing together in the fashion of a hybrid trailer-trash/taxidermy artist. Sometimes it seems as if my own pitiful brand of self-entertainment will ultimately lead to premature psychosis. I’m just a total sissy when pain is involved.
During this past week I came to realize that finding exceptional music is a lot like excavating forgotten edible treasures from under a soggy bed of blood and stitches. It’s near impossible to do, unless you have copious amounts of free time and the incentive to get your hands dirty. Before hearing Tunnel of Love’s Rock ‘n Roll ‘n Bitches, I was sort of on a garage rock hiatus. Every other so called “primitive rock n’ roll” group with caveman promises quickly stagnated into the same mind-numbingly forgettable claptrap after the first few sloppy riffs. The new seemed so horribly dull and not worth the inevitable ten-hour wait that comes with having dial-up, so I reverted back to listening to the same old albums on repeat. Music should be impressive, and Tunnel of Love proves this concept in the fullest degree. When I first put on Tunnel of Love, the needle began to forcefully graft itself into the grooves of my new record. It remained embedded upon the sound, unable to be moved by human hands. At first I was a little worried about the permanent damage this new camaraderie could cause, but then I wholey understood that it was just meant to be. For the next few days, I listened to Tunnel of Love almost exclusively. I went through the same brand of selectiveness after hearing Guitar Wolf’s “Jet Generation” because I wanted to absorb as much awesomeness as possible into my arid skull before every member of the band dropped dead from alcohol poisoning. It’s like when you eat a really good chilidog, and you absolutely refuse to invite any flavors into your mouth for several hours, so as to preserve the hallowed spicy tang mingling on your taste buds.
No matter how many times “American Girls” or “Down in Hell” penetrates my speakers with such violating and raw tenacity, it always feels like the first time. With catchy fuzz-laden hooks and stomping guitars, there is a subconscious response that is fired through eager neurons with the same excited frenzy. This rouses the muscles and unbolts the ears to the decree of dance. Tunnel of Love doesn’t timidly request that you swing your hips; they aggressively command that you get off your lazy, flacid ass and shake it like it’s the last days of man. And you will get up and dance, because Tunnel of Love won’t take no for an answer. In fact, sometimes I half expect them to break my bedroom door down, with the same possessed expressions and matching attire they sport on the cover of their self titled album, and dance around me in a ring of imaginary fire. To me, Tunnel of Love has the kind of viscious rock n’ roll sound designed to tear off faces and rattle walls in the amusement of rowdy, yet jaded teenagers. It’s like a cooler version of that earth-shattering religious experience I never had. Growing up in the Texas suburbs has always given me many challenges, such as inevitable church visits. Until I was about 15, my parents crammed me into leather dress shoes and plunked me down in a pew, expecting me to absorb universal truth and morality until it leaked from my eyeballs. Instead, I spent these long hours daydreaming that church would be a lot more interesting if Indiana Jones busted through the stained glass window and melted everyone’s face off. During the forty-seven million hour sermons that I had to succumb to, I would often find my betraying hands scribbling dirty messages onto prayer cards and subconsciously peeling paint from the wall. I knew that this behavior was considered indecent, but I didn’t feel the desire to worship any god that didn’t find hilarity in the words “Kingdom come”.
Anyway, while the conditions of my introduction to these storm troopers of soul lends to general delusion, the reality of their degenerate pop remained bolted firmly in place as the psychedelic swerve of painkiller overload dissipated in the weeks that followed. As I regained full faculty of my motor skills and comprehension, I began to further investigate this band to little avail. At my behest, Max Dropout managed to pry a few answers from the enigmatic trio’s drummer, Makoto Sato. I was at first worried that what his questions might yield would only pop the bubble of their mystique, but they were just the right amount of quiet. See for yourselves…
You guys claim both Boston and Brookline as your home base. Brookline, from what I know of it seems kind of like a weird town to hail from — it’s seemingly dedicated to historical monuments. I think Michael Dukakis is even from Brookline. Did you guys all grow up there? Was Tunnel of Love functioning in Brookline? Do they actually have a scene there, or what?
There was a time when we all lived in the same house in Brookline. Anthony and I were across the hall from each other and Andy was downstairs. Andy and Anthony grew up together in Brookline, they’re brothers. I grew up all over the place. There’s no scene in Brookline.
Boston’s churned out everything from kick ass hardcore to garage rock revival. What’s going on in Boston these days? What should we know about that’s happening there?
There’s a lot happening in Boston: Ho-Ag, Devil Music, Konks, Black Clouds, Turpentine Brothers, UV Protection, Karlheinz. There’s good bands doing all kinds of stuff… art/noise rock, garage, straight noise.
Does Boston treat you well? Where do you guys fit in?
Boston press has been good to us, and we have some loyal fans, but we’re not a big band in Boston. I’m not sure where we fit in. We’ve been playing art/noise rock shows for years, mostly thanks to Deb Eximious, who gave us gigs when no one else would look twice at us. But over the past couple years we’ve been playing more garage-type shows, and those folks have been really open and receptive to us. I don’t really feel like we fit in anywhere though. We just kind of hang out around the edges.
You guys have been around over seven years, I think, which is a while. And I’m just now starting to see people recognising you. You guys managed to remain elusive for a while. These records are fucking brutal and they beat the crap out of a lot of other bands who are attempting to do things that are remotely similar. How does a band that’s on top of the game manage to NOT get noticed by the majority of so-called garage punk fans for so long?
That’s a great question. I don’t really know. It’s not like we try to stay unnoticed. It just seems to come naturally to us.
What do you identify yourselves as, in terms of your sound? What are you, and where do you fit in? Is there anyone you share a comradery with?
We’re noisy rock. Cartoony. I don’t know that we fit in anywhere. I feel a kinship with any band that makes me piss myself. The first time I heard Guitar Wolf I thought they were our brother band.
Tell me a little bit about each of member of the band.
I don’t know about the other guys, but I’m not comfortable talking about my member.
Have you guys been in any other bands, or ARE you in any other bands right now?
Andy and I have done some other stuff. We’ve done some dual guitar super-noise feedback sorta psych rock. We’ve done some noise rap. Some straight backbeat garage. Nothing’s going on right now, though.
Whose pussies are on your album covers incidentally? Is it just some shitty porn you ripped off, or did someone donate the vaginas?
I’m not at liberty to disclose that kind of information.
What’s the story behind the costumes? Why did you choose those outfits? Are they based on anything in particular? The imagery is pretty fucking iconic. Are you trying to look like anyone in particular?
We’re not trying to look like anyone in particular. I guess you could say it’s the Hannah-Barbera version of glam.
On the “Grapevine” video, it states that it’s from the Tunnel Of Love Movie. Is this an actual film that’s available? If so, tell us some stuff about it.
The movie is not done. The dude making it, Jeff Starr, is a friend of ours. He’s been compiling footage for a while. It’s sort of an ongoing project. It’s possible that eventually it’ll come out.
Piero, at Profet, who put out Ghetto Child, speaks incredibly highly of you. He says you destroy every band they put in front of you. How did you get hooked up with Piero, and what do you think of his opinion?
We met Piero when we played a show with his band the Fatals. It was us, the Fatals, and the Tampoffs. It was a good show. Piero’s a smart dude who’s got great taste music — he knows his shit.
I hear you guys like to set up in obscure places when you play shows, which I’m a big fucking fan of. Can you give us a story that basically epitomizes a Tunnel Of Love show? What was a definitive show experience for you guys?
I don’t know if there’s one definitive show. They’re all usually messy, noisy, and sloppy; a lot of feedback. Sometime the drums or amps get kicked over. There’s dry humping, climbing on stacks of amps and chairs. You know, it’s a rock show. People have dumped beer and ketchup all over us. We made someone barf once because Andy’s cape smelled so bad.
What does Tunnel of Love dig? In general and in the musical sense. It seems like such a cliche question to ask, but you guys are kind of mysterious. I’m curious as to what you grew up listening to.
Oh, you know; all kinds of shit.