New album out now! "I KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE TO WANT TO DANCE" (JAN. 2007 ACCRETIONS) The much anticipated 10 song LP recorded at Sonic Youth's Echo Canyon Studio in Manhattan by Aaron Mullan (Sonic Youth, Tall Firs) and mixed by Chris Fudurich (Nada Surf, Jimmy Eat World)!
New album out now! "NOW WE HAVE SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE" (2006 WESTERN TREAD)The hot new split LP featuring 5 songs each from LESS PAIN FOREVER and PEACHCAKE!
Less Pain Forever is a musical tribute to Lush Budget Presents the Les Payne Product featuring original members James Karnes and Christopher Pomerenke. While James manipulates a double guitar/bass device whilst vocalizing like an angel, Christopher spearheads a drums/keyboards contraption whilst singing from the heart. The duo harmonizes like hyperventilating choir boys in a mano-a-mano duel to the death between two one-man bands.
The music lives in the same dense and sparse state of life and death duality as the desert furnace from whence it was forged. Throw in musical telepathy between the two and you have a mix that is quirky, discordant, structurally complex and, strangest of all, full of pop hooks worthy of arena rock anthems.
Less Pain Forever began its incarnation as music's first and only rock tribute band to itself in the summer of 2001 by embarking on an "endless tour.” The duo ditched their worldly possessions and deserted their beloved desert compound to traverse the country in a 35 foot black motor home. Their dazzling live stage shows have wowed audiences and quickly amassed a cult-like following across the United States and Europe.
From the Troubador in Los Angeles to the Mercury Lounge in New York City (and nearly every Wal-Mart in between) Less Pain Forever have shared the stage with Jimmy Eat World, Modest Mouse, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Mates of State, Xiu Xiu, Deerhoof, Frank Black, Ween and countless others. The band has been labeled everything from musical arsonists to rock ‘n roll saviors to the founding fathers of Phenomeock.
Over the last year LESS PAIN FOREVER have fallen back into the loving fold of the desert bosom they have called home and decided to ally themselves with fellow Arizonan duo Peachcake. A split LP featuring 5 songs from each band titled "Now We Have Something To Celebrate" was released on September 12, 2006 by musical impresarios Charlie Levy (Stateside Presents) and Jim Adkins (Jimmy Eat World) on their Western Tread label.
Most recently, the band has joined forces with film and music documentarian Ryan Page, (Moog, Frontier Life) who corralled their demon-addled forces into Sonic Youth's Echo Canyon Studio, where Sonic Youth engineer Aaron Mullan delicately dedicated to tape and digitized the full front of their legendary live performances into a 10 song album, "I Know What It’s Like To Want To Dance", released January 27, 2007 on Accretions. Rave reviews can be found clicking the press button above and streaming audio selections can be found by clicking audio. Also be sure to view the bands live performance in a Wal-Mart parking lot by clicking on video!
FOR MORE INFORMATION
James Karnes manipulates a double guitar/bass device whilst vocalizing like an angel.
Christopher Pomerenke spearheads a drums/keyboards contraption whilst singing from the heart.
"I KNOW WHAT ITS LIKE TO WANT TO DANCE"
10 song full length released on Accretion records(Jan. '07)
"NOW WE HAVE SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE"
10 song Less Pain Forever/Peachake split released by Western Tread(Sep. '06)
"LUSH BUDGET PRESENTS THE LES PAYNE PRODUCT" 6-song e.p. released on Aviator Records.
Review of "I KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE TO WANT TO DANCE": Not For Those Into S&M
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NOT FOR THOSE INTO S&M by Stephen Seigel, Tucson Weekly Why the hell isn't the Phoenix-area duo Le...NOT FOR THOSE INTO S&M
by Stephen Seigel, Tucson Weekly
Why the hell isn't the Phoenix-area duo Less Pain
Forever already famous? That's the question I asked
upon first seeing them perform about seven years ago,
when they went under the unwieldy but hilarious
moniker Lush Budget Presents the Les Payne Product
(Les Payne being a real-life Arizona resident whose
greatest claim to fame was gracing a calendar put out
by the Phoenix New Times). It's a question I continue
to ask every time I see them perform.
They've taken a rather unpredictable route in the
years since their formation, the most bizarre being
the purchase of an RV, which they utilized as not only
a touring vehicle, but also as a place to call home.
They've had a few scrapes with being discovered, such
as a weekly residency at a highly regarded club in New
York City; they've also broken up at least once along
the way. With the upcoming release of an album
recorded by some industry bigwigs, 2007 may bring fame
for these boys yet.
I Know What It's Like to Want to Dance was recorded at
Sonic Youth's Echo Canyon studio in Manhattan, with
that band's engineer, Aaron Mullan, behind the boards;
it was mixed by Christopher Fudurich (Nada Surf, Jimmy
Eat World); and it was executive produced by Ryan
Page, a Los Angeles-based film and music producer
who's best known for his work on a documentary about
synthesizer pioneer Bob Moog. The album will be
released on Accretions Records in January (though
copies will be for sale at this week's show).
Anyone who's seen Less Pain Forever perform live will
tell you they're unlike anything else out there.
Singer/guitarist James Karnes stands to the left on
the stage, playing a souped-up bass/guitar combo,
while Christopher Pomerenke sits at the center of the
stage, simultaneously playing drums and keyboards
while singing. They usually wear goofy costumes, and
it's hard to take your eyes off of them. Which might
be enough for some acts. And which makes it all the
more remarkable that, as the new album testifies, the
music is just as fantastic.
If you listened to I Know What It's Like without
knowing how it was created, you would be won over by
the songs, which combine the quirky pop of early XTC,
the complex changes of Frank Zappa and the humor of
They Might Be Giants. But on the new album, the humor
serves as a vehicle to express some heavier topics
than the duo usually tackles. The first song, "Throw
Your Babies," for example, opens with a whimsical a
cappella chant that could come from an age-old nursery
rhyme, but turns into a parable of sorts about the
perils of becoming a teenage mom. And it still manages
to be a hella fun tune.
Do yourself a favor and go see the Bloat Holiday Show,
headlined by Less Pain Forever and including
performances by Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout
and The Bloat Orchestra, on Friday, Dec. 29, at Club
Congress, 311 E. Congress St. The festivities begin at
9 p.m. and will only set you back five bucks. I'll be
the one in the corner muttering, "See, I told you so."
Call 622-8848 for further details.
Review of "I KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE TO WANT TO DANCE": LESS PAIN FOREVER has its brains and eats them too!
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Less Pain Forever Has Its Brains And Eats Them Too. by Niki D'Andrea. Music Editor Phoenix New Times...Less Pain Forever Has Its Brains And Eats Them Too. by Niki D'Andrea. Music Editor Phoenix New Times.
The babies were wearing scuba gear, and levitating above all the houses in the neighborhood.
And when Christopher Pomerenke woke up, he wrote a song about the surreal scene from his subconscious, called "Throw Your Babies." The tune serves as the leadoff track for I Know What It's Like to Want to Dance (Accretions), the latest sonic offering from intellectual oddballs Less Pain Forever.
"I drink so much that my dreams are just gone now," says Pomerenke, who serves as one-half of Less Pain Forever (his bandmate, James Karnes, lives in Pennsylvania). "But back in the day, when I was sober, I was a 'rent boy' — I used to have sex with men just to pay the rent and stuff. And I used to have crazy dreams, and I had this dream that all these moms were throwing their babies up, and one of them got stuck behind the moon."
"Throw Your Babies" is filled with poppy dance beats, quirky synthesizers, and cadence-be-damned vocals, but Pomerenke points out that there's a depth to what seems inane.
"Basically, all the moms were kind of releasing their child for possible greatness. It's the idea of single moms and their struggles, and [how] they all have hopes that their children will be miracle babies," he says. "We like to write songs that deal with surreal things, but are anchored in something kind of normal and kinda boring."
To hear Pomerenke use the words "normal" and "boring" in even an indirect reference to Less Pain Forever is ironic, because the band's story is as gutter-fabulous as that of any early '80s L.A. metal band, and their music is as indefinable as a hypothetical jam session between Frank Zappa, Ween, and Beck on better drugs.
The roots of LPF started in 1991 at the Arizona Biltmore, where Pomerenke and Karnes were both busboys.
The two went to a house party one night and jammed together, and that was it. They started playing around town as Lush Budget Presents the Les Payne Product, a moniker inspired both by the former mayor of Nothing, Arizona (named Les Payne), and the idea that what they were doing was "a combination of art and commerce."
After forming Lush Budget Presents the Les Payne Product, Pomerenke and Karnes rented a condemned house across the street from the Rhythm Room on Indian School Road.
"It didn't have windows, cooling, or heating," Pomerenke says. "It didn't have a water heater. We had to use buckets from the sink to pour water in the toilet; that's the only way it would work. We lived there for, like, five years. Less Pain got born and raised there in that weird little ghetto."
Sometime in the late '90s, Pomerenke and Karnes decided they were going to quit making music, get an RV, and just travel. But they re-formed in 2001 as a tribute band — to itself.
"We felt like we'd reached the pinnacle of genius, and maybe we should take it to the next level, which would be quitting," Pomerenke says. "So we quit, but then we thought, 'Not enough people have heard of us yet, so we can't quit. So let's be a tribute band to ourselves,' so basically we can preach our own word without sounding arrogant."
After re-forming as Less Pain Forever — named after both something everyone would like to have and their former Les Payne incarnation — the duo shared the stage with acts like Modest Mouse, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Deerhoof, Frank Black, and Ween, and toured Europe in 2000 and 2002.
But Pomerenke and Karnes had pretty much hung up their party hats again by the time local producer and filmmaker Ryan Page (Moog, Frontier Life) approached them with an offer they couldn't refuse. Page said he could get the band into Echo Canyon, Sonic Youth's Manhattan studios, if they'd record an album with Sonic Youth's engineer, Aaron Mullen. LPF said yes, and rushed off to record I Know What It's Like to Want to Dance in four days.
"Sonic Youth's studio is this really awesome loft that's right near where the trade centers were at on Murray Street, and we used all of their [Sonic Youth's] equipment," Pomerenke says. "It was a real honor. Super awesome."
The album itself is "super awesome" as well, deceptively swollen with sounds that could resemble the output of an army. But Pomerenke and Karnes play all of the instruments themselves — even live, when Karnes sings and plays a double guitar/bass contraption and Pomerenke sings and plays a homemade drums/keyboard hybrid. The sounds range from the whimsical, digitized country punk swagger of "Illuminati Stormhorse" to the fuzzy, funky pop boogie of "Absolut & Redbulls" to the lolling, melancholy indie rock ballad "Seems Like a Good Kid," which describes a "weirdo" kid in a torn tee shirt that reads "Kill 'Em All" and asks the question, "What if all the fuckers finally fucked off and left you alone?"
Pomerenke adores that line, but he didn't write the song. Karnes did; it's about one of his neighbors. "His neighbor is maybe in his 40s, and he lives with his parents. Right away, I think that's great. I love that," Pomerenke says.
"So he lives with his folks, and they have a shed in the back. When he's not at work or asleep, the parents make him stay in the shed, because he's loco. He just goes back there and screams obscenities and yells at himself and guzzles beer. And if you can listen to his dialogue with himself, it's all about football and high school stories. He's just obsessed with high school, and he's in his 40s. He can't snap out of whatever shit he went through as a high schooler. So James wrote the song from that guy's perspective."
Another one of Karnes' cool missives comes in the psychedelic-sounding "Close Encounters," when he proclaims, "All I had was a Grand Canyon state of mind."
Pomerenke muses on the metaphor. "The Grand Canyon can happen to you. It's an amazing amount of erosion over an amazing amount of time, and that can happen to you, too, if you're not careful," he says.
"And James wrote all those lyrics at a time when we were kind of saying goodbye to Arizona, when we were gonna get an RV and just travel or whatever."
After their CD release party on New Year's Eve, Less Pain Forever will be kind of saying goodbye to Arizona again, as they are set to embark on a tour of Japan.
"I think it'll go well," Pomerenke says, "because I've heard a lot that Japanese people like this kitschy pop music that has this air of disposability, like, 'Oh, you can just wad it up and throw it away — isn't it adorable?'"
Maybe it'll be easier for the genre-hopping duo to get on bills with more bands that fit LPF's eclectic jive there, too?
Pomerenke laughs. "We're never gonna fit with anybody, but we'll spread our thing anyway."
Daysleeper: Less Pain Forever gear up for eventual world domination
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Less Pain Forever gear up for eventual world domination 2006-07-05 jb Less Pain Forever is one of...Less Pain Forever gear up for eventual world domination
Less Pain Forever is one of the best local bands I’ve ever seen. So good in fact that I was sure they would transcend the local market and find success on a larger scale. They had a lot of momentum in the early 2000s and were musical progenitors in numerous ways.
First of all, they are essentially a guitar and drums duo, and they were doing it before almost anyone else in the indie/alternative arena. Singer/guitarist James Karnes has a specially rigged setup that allows him to play bass and lead guitar parts at the same time, and Christopher Pomerenke plays keyboards while drumming and singing. And, they wear matching outfits and cop glasses, and have a scary musical psychic bond.
Before I go any further, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve known these guys for some time and we were really tight for a number of years. When they were first coming up and getting a local buzz I elected not to write about them because of my friendship with them, as well as my perhaps not totally objective love of the music they produced.
But times change, people move away and friendships change. I still consider the boys to be my friends but I don’t see much of them these days. I feel OK writing about them here and in this way since this is technically a blog and should have some personal content.
In my original draft there was a small flashback section about the origins of the band and their eventual rise as a premier local band. When they opened for touring bands they would very often stun them. When they opened for Starlight Mints, Alan Vest went and woke up his sleeping bandmates so they could watch the Les Payne Product do what they do.
I am not going to go into the many, many name changes or highlights of shows in Arizona, but it was clear that they were at the top of their game and needed to play outside of the state.
When they loaded up their black RV in 2001 and gave up permanent residences in Phoenix, it seemed like it was going to happen for the boys. My feeling at the time was that if it didn’t they would join the unfortunate ranks of brilliant bands that influenced other musicians but failed to find a wide audience.
They toured the country and played some pretty high profile clubs in New York, LA and many other places, and audiences were receptive.
Things were going well and Les Payne was sleeping in the black RV in Wal-Mart parking lots and living the dream, if your dream is to live in a black RV and sleep in Wal-Mart parking lots. They were getting great responses from crowds and fellow musicians alike, but for whatever reason their touring didn’t generate a music deal.
I honestly think this had something to do with the recorded stuff they were selling at shows and sending to labels and well placed music folk. While they had some good recordings, their creative home recordings came at the time right before decent software and recording equipment was within the grasp of normal people.
I truly feel that if they had even a three-song, professionally-recorded product to shop around that accurately represented their live sound they would be well known today. I also think in my more conspiratorial moments that when Less Pain was seen by music people in metropolitan cities they inspired or at least had something to do with the duo trend in indie rock, as well as matching or complimentary outfits a la the White Stripes.
OK, I didn’t mean to give you a huge history lesson about Less Pain Forever but it was somewhat necessary to bring you to the present, five years after their U.S. tour. Karnes lives in New Hope, Penn., and Pomerenke lives, apparently depending on the position of Orion, either on various couches in downtown Phoenix, Apache Junction or Mexico.
This obviously makes touring and writing music difficult, and the band was playing very seldom and things didn’t seem like forever for Less Pain. That is until recently when they actually finished a full-length album with Sonic Youth’s producer in Sonic Youth’s studio. And they are coming to Arizona to do a small tour of Arizona and California in early July, as well as recording a split album with Peachcake. This album, featuring five songs by Peachcake and five songs by Less Pain Forever will be released in conjunction with a U.S. tour with Peachcake that should also coincide with the release of the full length. This is scheduled to get under way in September.
This is all kind of remarkable if you consider all the stuff these guys have been through and feels to me like a legitimate return to contention. Now with not one, but two well made products and touring with a band that draws huge crowds of the same kind of people that dig Less Pain, I can see the stars aligning for the boys.
If you can’t get enough of the Less Pain history stuff I will write another story when the big tour happens, but for now let me get out of the way and bring you Himes Karnesbertensteinhovitz, better known as Hijk, or James Karnes, and his rambling, humorous interview responses.
Aznightbuzz: What’s been going on with Less Pain Forever in the last few years?
Hijk: According to our Web site, LPF is totally whipping the donkey’s ass. That of course is yet another pop culture reference that we will take as our own without actually naming where we took the reference from. Those who know, know. LPF have been trying to strategically position themselves globally to better serve their fellow humans in regards to their phenomerock needs.
I, Hijk, have personally made an effort to relocate half the band to the Eastern seaboard so that, should the need arise, the band would be able to serve the greater good with a simple plane ticket for one member. Unfortunately, the recent actions of the powers that be have made us, like so many others, return to thinking globally but acting locally.
AZNB: What are some new developments in the last six months?
Hijk: In the last six months, many surprising events have unfolded within the LPF camp. 1. Hijk recently graduated the International College of Whistling with a 33rd degree Dracula Whistle, giving him omnipotent powers within the Darker Quarters of Perfection.
And Christopher Pomerenke has renounced his long term affiliation with the Dirty Pool Confederation of Phoenix, giving his personage upstanding moral status once again within the community. Also, we just recorded a new album or whatever. And we are doing some other split EP music thing, too. And we just can’t wait to play some funky fresh old time new school rock-rap and roll and stuff or whatever.
AZNB: You guys are on opposite ends of the country and at one point were living in two countries, how has this affected the band?
Hijk: It generally is better because I don’t have to look at the face of my enemy daily and wonder, “How long before he murders me in my sleep? How long before he steals the essence of my creative soul for his own gain?”
On the other hand, it’s hard to find a more loyal friend – giving, kind, and totally willing to pretend that he doesn’t intend to murder me in my sleep.
AZNB: How often do you and Christopher get together?
Hijk: Mr. Pomerenke and I meet up 17 to 20 times an hour on the Internet, through e-Harmony’s Match.com, both looking for that special someone to complete our lives (solo projects). Obviously, it is a complete sham. But the coincidental factors keep us hopeful, if not positive, that there is someone out there for us.
AZNB: You are going to be in Arizona in early July for a small tour here and in California. Tell us about it and where you guys are playing.
Hijk: This tour is going to be out of control! Colorstore is completely out of their minds! The Minibosses will be the death of us! Treasure Mammal has absolutely zero dining etiquette! We should be ostracized from every major social scene from Texas to New Mexico by the end of it. Although that would be weird, because we’re only going from Arizona to California.
AZNB: You mentioned a new album – what is it called, where was it recorded and when will it be released?
Hijk: The album is called I Know What It’s Like To Dance. It was recorded in Manhattan at Sonic Youth’s Echo Canyon Studio by their engineer Aaron Mullan. It will be released Jan. 1, 2007 on Accretions Records. I believe that from pre-release sales it has already gone triple turquoise, which is unheard of for an album in the Southwest.
AZNB: You may have covered this in the above answer, but was the bulk of the full length album recorded in Sonic Youth’s studio? And is it true that a person who has worked with Britney Spears mixed it?
Hijk: Well, of course, the mix-master, Chris Fudurich has worked with Brit-dog, as well as a slew of others including Jimmy Eat World and our own beloved Reuben’s Accomplice(-dog).
AZNB: Along with a full length there is a split album with Peachcake in the works. How did this come about and what will it be like? Are these new songs and when were they recorded?
Hijk: Dude, I am so glad you “axed” me about this! Yes! We are totally working on some new tracks right in the heart of Pa-hoe-nix, 6-0-2 represent! Wahalla’s Tony Robinson is hooking us up with the super nasty techno-digitization. I think it is dope. Christopher believes it to be fly and fresh. Either way, it is coming out on Western Tread, with our super-duo-group Yin-Yang Twins, Peachcake.
AZNB: Speaking of Peachcake, there is a tour in the works with them. When and where is this going to happen? How were you hooked up with them in the first place?
Hijk: The where and the when and the hoopty of how we met can’t be gone into here, but the tour will be gi-normous! Coast to coast to continent to planet to deisphere to beyond! Reaching all forms of humanoid life forms and stuff.
AZNB: Why did it take so long to finish the album?
Hijk: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
AZNB: Is Less Pain Forever still hell bent on world domination?
Hijk: Hell? Yes. Bent? A little, to be sure. World domination? The world keeps getting smaller every day. Who needs to dominate a world the size of a parking lot when you live in a 35-foot motor home?
LESS PAIN FOREVER, COLORSTORE, MINIBOSSES, TREASURE MAMMAL
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Wednesday, July 12, 2006 Club Congress LESS PAIN FOREVER!!!, Colorstore, Minibosses, Treasure Mamm...Wednesday, July 12, 2006
LESS PAIN FOREVER!!!, Colorstore, Minibosses, Treasure Mammal
This is THE best that Phoenix has to offer. If you don’t have a sense of humor, don’t go to this show. Or, if you don’t, you may pick one up here by accident.
Less Pain Forever play crunchy, call-and-response, dancable rock that's sort of like a heavy They Might Be Giants with the Pixies' Frank Black egging on the two Johns. Orrr...like a polished Pork Torta produced by Mates of State. And the better Presidents of United States of America songs. Admit it, you still sing along to "Peaches" when they play it on 90's Flashback.
Although they sound great on CD, they're a must-see live. Fucking hilarious. On the final day of last year's Club Congress 20th, I had full-on strep throat with a fever of 102 degrees and waited around several hours for them to finally go on. It was well worth it.
Colorstore will appeal to fans of the lighter, more upbeat Radiohead and Rogue Wave songs, with an emphasis on the electric piano (Fender Rhodes). El Ten Eleven fans will also appreciate. Though they don't sound anything like her, Colorstore often backs up Lonna Kelley, learning new songs on a moment's notice. Just in case you were eyeing one of her male band mates at a recent Kelley show.
The Minibosses shred metal versions of old-school Nintendo games. I shit you not. I wrote a review of their show for Crimewave magazine, detailing their feverish following. Kids would actually bring joysticks and plastic guns to their shows. I'll try to dig it up for ya'all.
Treasure Mammal perform noise-dance-punk with lots of distorted vocals and video game sound effects. Will appeal to fans of The Rapture or those who like slower Blood Brothers songs. Check out their website, they've got a bunch of songs streaming. (Proper link now!)
Less Pain Forever at the Club Congress 20th Anniversary last year.
Yes, that's right, LPF's drummer also sings and plays keyboards at the same time. What else does your drummer do? Light another smoke?
Less Pain Forever: take as needed
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Take as needed By Serene Dominic Article Published Sep 1, 2005 Hurts so good:One stan...
Take as needed
By Serene Dominic
Article Published Sep 1, 2005
Hurts so good:One stands, one sits! Both sing, rock and overextend themselves! It's a simple winning concept that every minimalist duo without a bass player has employed to great personal gain, but few have excelled with greater zeal for multi-tasking and whimsy like James Karnes and Chris Pomerenke. The decision to give it another go has been bolstered by friend Ryan Page (Moog, Frontier Life) executive-producing the first-ever Less Pain Forever full-length album, recorded with Sonic Youth engineer Aaron Mullan. With 10 years of material to choose from, dating back to their days as Lush Budget Presents the Les Payne Product, the results could be as all-over-the-map as the band itself. But if there was ever a time for what Karnes calls "Phenomerrock," it's now.
Payne-less: The artists formerly known as Les Payne Product...
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by Serene Dominic Dynamic duo Less Pain Forever are packing up the RV and heading out of the Val...by Serene Dominic
Dynamic duo Less Pain Forever are packing up the RV and heading out of the Valley for good.Some say that it really isn't happening, that Less Pain Forever (a.k.a. Lush Budget Presents the Les Payne Product) isn't really leaving Arizona, that all this talk about the duo living, recording and touring for perpetuity in a 1983 Chevrolet Southwind RV is just the latest in a series of stunts devised to dupe the more gullible members of the local press. Some even think their "final" Valley show this weekend carries no more finality than the countless other "farewell" gigs local bands announce in June so they don't have to sweat a slow club scene during the mind-searing summer months.
Jeez, the Sand Rubies don't have these sort of credibility problems and they've split and regrouped more times than your average amoeba.
But then again, how can you trust two guys who'd form a Wings tribute band and then refuse to learn all of Linda's keyboard parts? And what other group has arranged to have its members kidnapped during a show or traded singers with someone else during a battle of the bands? And who else has initiated more lugubrious name changes than Prince and Cat Stevens combined?
The answer will be apparent in the coming months, when local music fans find there are no more Less Pain or Les Payne shows -- and it's too bad. For as much as group leaders Chris Pomerenke and James Karnes have bewildered and alienated some folks with their antics, they've delighted the rest of us who've tired of seeing bands play the same set lists so people can have the same conversations over them.
If some Valley idiots came away from a Les Payne show feeling cheated, I suggest they don't deserve a band this good.
As a writer who has been duped by these charlatans on numerous occasions (and unwittingly taken part in a stunt or two), I realize everything I write about Less Pain Forever is naturally suspect. But trust me. These guys are really, really leaving. I have seen the "For Lease" sign outside the compound they've called home for the past six years. I've touched the hem of their RV awning and have drunk one of last beers from the refrigerator inside.
Sitting inside the Southwind reminiscing with Pomerenke and Karnes, you realize what an amazing vehicle the Les Payne RV is. Everything inside of it either folds out into a bed or a spice rack. And the duo will need every inch of space they can get to allow room for a public address system and all their computer and recording equipment. In paring down their possessions, Pomerenke and Karnes are parting ways with their beloved 30-inch TV, countless mannequin heads and five 30-gallon trash bags worth of thrift store stage clothes. Pomerenke swears they will only wear silk pajamas from now on.
"We're gonna stroll out of this mini-castle like two Hefs, sipping champagne. No more beer, either. This is the last time you'll see beer in here," he grimaces, pointing to a couple of Coors Light cans.
With only two shows booked as part of their endless tour, the band's impending odyssey starts to sound as unlikely as an Elvis movie plot -- two drifter musicians travel the country in search of places to play and some nice people to help along the way.
Even if their greatest adventure is yet to be written, what's gone before is certainly not chopped liver. For those of you who missed it, we offer the following recap of the best of Les Payne -- and some of the strangest shows ever to be staged in the Valley.
Trunk Federation CD release Party, January 1997, Hollywood Alley
Les Payne Product's first attempt to upstage the headliner included inviting a series of "special guests" onstage. Among those was a one-man band affectionately known as Fuckin' A.
Pomerenke: "He sat behind the drums, played guitar and sang a song about how he had 'rock 'n' roll in his veins.'"
After Fuckin' A's one-song set, Les Payne returned wearing bloodied butcher smocks and carrying congratulatory bouquets for their guest.
This show also marked the first and only appearance of "Sara, the Les Payne Dancer." Ripping off their smocks to reveal homemade Slayer tee shirts, the Payne boys and Sara devil-danced the night away to the strains of evil metal music, much to the chagrin of a perplexed crowd.
Phunk Junkeez CD release party, October 1998, Bash on Ash
The boys exorcised their megalomaniacal demons by hiring personal valets to hold up full-length mirrors so they could check their look onstage during the entire set. Bogus rappers J.T. Nasty and T.C. Classy (Jeff Bufano and Chris Corak from Reuben's Accomplice) also performed a song with the duo.
Pomerenke: "We were white rock-rappers seconds before it stopped being cool."
Mike Watt Show, Mason Jar, April 1998
The night the guys decided to become faith healers -- a transformation which actually brought the crowd to a hush. One unidentified man in a walker came away healed but another guy with a creepy gold-plated mask and a limp wasn't so lucky.
Karnes: "That was Chris Corak from Reuben's Accomplice. He tied the lower part of his leg up inside a really big pair of pants and had a prosthetic limb tied on. I reached out, pushed him backwards and, as he fell down, the limb just came out of his pants. It scared the audience half to death."
The Frankie Valli Show, December 1998, Nita's Hideaway
No sooner had Pomerenke stopped this gig -- because he was despondent about missing the Frankie Valli show being held at the Celebrity Theatre -- than did a man claiming to be Valli show up to sing "Can't Take My Eyes Off You." The man claiming to be the head Four Season -- he wore a black fright wig and a loud red suit -- was an obvious impostor. Plus, the real Frankie Valli would never have called the Celebrity Theatre "a spinning dump" or run sideways in circles on the floor and screamed like a beached Robert Plant.
Karnes: "We had two guest appearances that night. Elvis came on and sang 'In the Ghetto.' That was Jim Andreas of Trunk Federation making no attempt to actually look like the King except for a birthday boy crown and one of our white jumpsuits. He hated doing that. That was the show that made Trunk Federation give up shtick completely."
Night of 1,000 Props, February 1998, Hollywood Alley
Karnes: "The entire night was structured as a telethon to raise 1,000 props for charity. Everyone who played that night came on at the end of our set to bring up the last 30 remaining props needed for the night to be a success. We had 20 computer monitors, five prosthetic limbs and some wig heads. All the performers appearing that night came onstage to sing 'We Are the World' with us and someone threw a beer bottle at Psycho Gypsy's drummer. All I can remember is him going after the guy brandishing one of the prosthetic limbs."
The Impostor Show, March 1998, Hollywood Alley
A recurring character during Les Payne gigs was their archrival Decepto (played by Shane Caraway), who would continually crash their show and have his evil Girl-Bots beat on the band just long enough for him to sing a malevolent song, usually one filled with foul language and artichoke references. For this show he managed to knock Karnes offstage, steal his clothes and pose as the standing half of Les Payne. Only when Decepto's piercing Paul Lynde vocals received amplification was the ruse uncovered.
Trunk Federation's second CD release party, March 1998, Jackson Hole
In a New Times interview that week, Trunk Federation stated that they were through doing shtick in their live shows. Mildly irritated by this, the still shticky Les Payne began a fake feud with Trunk in the press that threatened to boil over into a genuine one several times leading up to the gig.
Karnes: "During that show we gave Trunk a double dose of shtick. Our set ended with us playing 'Homeward Bound,' which got 'Trunk-cated' by Decepto. He played their condescending road manager, telling us to 'swim away, little guppies.'"
The disgruntled duo took their grievances to the stage before making friendly again and singing David Bowie's "Fashion" with the Trunkers.
New Times Music Showcase, April 1998, Trails
Taking a page from David Letterman's book, the group used some cleverly edited taped footage to fool an unsuspecting showcase crowd.
Karnes: "The premise was we were trading singers, with me going to Reuben's Accomplice and Jeff Bufano joining Les Payne. Our showcases were at the same time and about a good 200 yards or more away. We had TV monitors set up that the crowd was watching. We shot all this video footage the day before of us running up and down Mill Avenue to the other venue, wearing the same clothes we'd wear for the show. All these shots of us running upstairs, shopping at the Gap, going to the movies and then arriving at the gig."
Pomerenke: "It was a fucking amazing idea. I just remember being onstage seeing all these blank faces just staring up and I remember saying, 'Okay, you're never gonna see this again.'"
Dust Devil movie shoot, January 1999, Boston's
Who else but Pomerenke and Karnes would've tried filming a movie during the course of a concert when the average movie shoot takes three hours just to get the best boy into position?
The group's motion-picture project, Dust Devil, was never completed and the scenes shot that night did not even include Les Payne.
Karnes: "Our characters in the movie were supposed to be too big to play a place like Boston's. So we filmed a bunch of other people singing instead. I'm sure some people didn't think there was any film in the cameras, and having never seen the footage, I can't even be sure."
Bluebird Show, August 2000, Emerald Lounge
Most people doubted the sincerity of Les Payne's purported "love" for the music of Wings. Mostly because the Lovely Linda, as portrayed by Pomerenke with 5 o' clock shadow, was a lot tougher than the late vegan activist appeared in real life. Witness her cover of "It's a Man's World" or her version of John Lennon's vitriolic anti-Paul rant "How Do You Sleep?"
New Times Music Showcase, May 2001, Mill Cue Club
Les Payne Product changes its name to Less Pain Forever and lets a cover band from Glendale do the set for them. The alternative plan was just as intriguing.
Pomerenke: "We were actually just going to show up with a videotape of our last show and take questions from the audience. Then we thought that New Times might not pay us for honoring the contract. That would've been so cool."
No Payne, No gain...
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No Payne, No Gain Arizona's Les Payne Product feels the burn. By John La Briola Article Publishe...No Payne, No Gain
Arizona's Les Payne Product feels the burn.
By John La Briola
Article Published Jul 6, 2000
DetailsThe mythical Phoenix flapped its wings so hard it finally burst into flames. Singing a melodious dirge, this ridiculously flighty creature ended up burning to death -- snap, crackle, pop -- before rising up from its ashes happy as a lark. Renewed. Triumphant. Like Jesus with feathers.
As tough an act as that might be to follow, Arizona's sweltering capital now boasts a pair of musical arsonists called Lush Budget Presents the Les Payne Product, whose modest bonfire approach to the indie-festooned school of songcraft might just outshine that majestic birdy -- or cremate the two hucksters in mid-beat. Either way, guitarist James Karnes and drummer/keyboardist Christopher Pomerenke harmonize like hyperventilating choirboys, and as the demon-addled force behind such energized chicanery, they more than ably compensate for their glaring lack of bandmates.
Such a sparse rhythmic configuration recalls rockabilly's Dex and Crow of Chapel Hill's Flat Duo Jets. But by parading playful meter changes and sing-song silliness, LBPTLPP actually has more in common with the earliest two-headed conceptions of Ween or They Might Be Giants. The music is entertaining, crazed and frenetic, and doesn't take itself the least bit seriously. It's also tight as a bull's sphincter and funny as a bowl haircut. Theatrics abound during live sets (including the occasional staged kidnapping, assault by mechanized Gobot or sudden bouncer-enforced removal of the band's nemesis, Decepto), and coordinated outfits are the rule rather than the exception. With a generous nod to Frank Zappa and any of the ear candy produced by the Knack, Les Payne (named after the reigning mayor of Nothing, Arizona) might remind folks of many things -- including half-familiar nursery rhymes, B-movie hooks or Perry Farrell's piercing shriek.
These qualities by no means paint the pranksters into a corner of novelty, mind you, because the skill behind their shtick is as seasoned as it is abundant. Consider an epic ditty from their self-titled debut on Aviator Records called "At the Rodeo (Fireball)" -- a song that's as much rip-snorter as it is lilting ballad, demonstrating an uncanny ability to juggle not only the technical side of tempo, rhythm and speedy scale maneuvers, but the listener's emotions and expectations as well. The amusing lyrics bounce like a rubber ball: "At the rodeo/Uh-oh/There is something in the air/No way/You can't/Pretend that you don't care about a bull named Fireball/It's the rodeo/Flowers in your best girl's hair." It's a big, colorful sound, all right, made all the more impressive by the band's Siamese-twinned lineup.
"Most songwriting teams are actually two guys, anyway, if you think about the good ones," Karnes notes before pointing out the more practical side of the band's arrangement. "There's less backbiting and arguing. The pay gets split two ways, and there's a lot more drink tickets at shows."
"More blow," Pomerenke adds.
"Smoke and mirrors. That's what I tell 'em when they ask where the other guy is," Karnes says.
"More blow," Pomerenke repeats.
"And we can keep the money in the family, so to speak," adds Karnes.
Sharing a house that doubles as a practice space in the middle of a Phoenix ghetto, the members of Les Payne maintain solid footing as certified grunts in the desert's music scene but sense a greater purpose for their seven-year efforts. "It's hard to play in the same town when the whole reason you started a band was to travel," Karnes notes. "I just want to be able to do it without having to sell butt door-to-door. And take it around the world as many times as people will have it. That's really why we got into this racket."
Without the benefit of a record company, booking agent, manager or any European contacts, the two actually have performed abroad -- something born more from a manic case of chutzpah than any overwhelming global response to their now-two-year-old CD. After coordinating a seven-week tour entirely through e-mail and a single Internet site, MP3.com, the sweet Valley duo headlined for a hastily assembled Danish thrash act called Crowded Orifice, yielding some 25 shows in Denmark, Sweden, Germany and the hash-huffing Netherlands. A small van shlepped three puny Yanks, four massive Danes -- "huge guys with stinky feet," Pomerenke notes -- and a trailer full of gear through freezing temperatures at the top speed of 45 mph; as they wound around the continent, the question posed most frequently to this curious collective was simple and direct: What is "orifice"? Oh, when glitz and glamour drop the hammer!
"Before going to Europe, we'd never seen east of America past Denver," Karnes admits, and while the experience granted world-weariness to the desert bumpkins, it also isolated them to an extent from their Phoenix peers. "Lately our attitude has really rubbed people the wrong way. I think we came back from Europe and everybody thought, 'Oh, they think they're gonna be bigshots or something.'"
It's a funny reaction, considering Arizona is primarily known outside of itself for bad water, racist politicians, a chirpy state bird called the cactus wren, the lack of participation in daylight savings and the measly emergence of two national acts, namely the Gin Blossoms and the Meat Puppets. And though a few big labels have told the Paynes how implausible it would be to package -- let alone describe -- their sound to the national public, the two still keep their hyperactive shoulder to the wheel. Last year, under the management of Phoenician film producer Ryan Page -- semi-affectionately referred to as "Hollywood scum," "the golden-boy Antichrist" and "Crispin Glover's butt boy" -- both Karnes and Pomerenke found themselves collaborators in a "meandering documentary" about the powerful spell that fame casts over our society. With the working title American Royalty, this low-budget stream-of-consciousness effort is Page's followup as a fledgling producer for Glover's markedly bizarre 1999 indie What Is It?, an unconventional bit of mindfuck in its own right that found the spastic fringe icon exploiting a troupe of actors with Down's syndrome. Royalty, however, examines the cult of celebrity (special in its own way), from the biggest rock and movie stars to the obscure porn luminary or Internet peep-show artist, from budding child actors to the modeling world's latest flavor of the month. Les Payne handled many of the film's celebrity interviews in Los Angeles, and even got to lock horns with 90210's ex-prime-time hellcat Shannen Doherty. (They threw popcorn in her hair for "being rude" -- something even Howard Stern's hitman Stuttering John might consider excessive.) After many severe alterations, the documentary remains unfinished, and its producer now lives in San Diego. "[Page] boiled it down to a half-hour show for a PBS station out there," Karnes says. "If we want to work on that, I guess we'll have to move out there. Which is okay. We want to get out of Phoenix. It's too hot."
Whatever Les Payne ends up doing, it's bound to include making music. If past performance is any indicator of future returns, such a Product could include one or more of the band's several unmarketable obsessions: Hopi prophecies, Ecuadorian exorcisms, induced dementia, imaginary computer chips, sexual mojo, trips to the sun and freedom of speech, for openers. There's also a side project in the works called Lovers of Guts, as well as the pair's continuing schoolboy crush on the Freemasons.
"Those guys got their shit together," Karnes says. "They don't really need a lesser band's help, but if they wanted it, we'd be there for them." United in the common goal to serve mankind, members of the Most Worshipful Grand Illuminati of America have reportedly included everyone who signed the Declaration of Independence, all seven Ringling Brothers and the unlikeliest of religious bricklayers: Louis Armstrong, an orphan born on the Fourth of July. According to the fraternity's sacred tenets, it is not a secret organization, but one whose members have certain concealed methods of recognizing each other. (Something the evil Decepto could stand to learn.) It is a moral institution based upon time-honored truths like God, fatherhood and a good trowel. "I like the whole global-money-wealth-power-control-domination thing," Karnes says. "That's what sounds good to me. Not wearing the hoods as much."
Balancing a keen fashion sense with wicked jocularity, the members of Les Payne still take time to plumb the depths of their own spirituality; both Karnes and Pomerenke dabble in pious alter egos like Ramtha Kundalini and Veracocha Boogenhagen, respectively. But when such idealism fails to dulcify their bloated souls, there are always sunglasses and wigs. Combine that with punctuality and a work ethic, and you've got all the fixin's for a pretty swell band.
"I'm good at staying up all night," Karnes says matter-of-factly, yawning. "But I'm really terrible at waking up early. So if I ever want to get anything done in the morning, I usually have to stay up all night to make it on time."
But in a pyrotechnic rat race like rock and roll, it never hurts to have a back-up plan.
"Trust me," says Karnes, ever the happy prole, mustering the entrepreneurial spirit of a P.T. Barnum or John Paul Getty, "when I do sell butt door-to-door, I'm good at it. I put my heart into that, too. I don't hold back. I'm all about an honest butt for an honest buck."
Show of the week?
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Show of the Week?: A pair of hucksters who call themselves Lush Budget Presents the Les Payne Produc...Show of the Week?: A pair of hucksters who call themselves Lush Budget Presents the Les Payne Product sent their materials too late for inclusion in the calendar listings, but this odd band from the horrific city of Mesa, Ariz., merits a quick note. The duo's self-titled record is a wild ride through the indie-rock landscape in a Range Rover with tires made from jerky guitars, sarcastic-toned vocals, assured rhythms and weird lyrics. It's probably the only band I've heard that could elicit comparisons to Weezer, Superchunk, Jane's Addiction and Heavy Vegetable in one fell swoop. The pretty mess comes to Berbati's at 8 pm Wednesday, June 17.
Less Pain Forever can perform three different sets with equal precision and grace. The first set, a tidy 30 minute rock show. Or we can do the steady eddie, a one hour set, complete with exploding expensive/illegal monkey brains! Or the whopping; two hour set! Complete with exploding solar systems. Thats a clear upgrade.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.