KURT WOLF of PUSSY GALORE – Song For Ewe

“SONG FOR EWE”
with KURT WOLF of
PUSSY GALORE
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“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day.

Today, is a man who slung and slayed the fourth guitar in a four axe assault on the senses that was legendary New York noise punk band Pussy Galore. And since I love this band so much and have kept in touch with all its members since interviewing them last year on the 25th anniversary of the “Dial M For Motherfucker” album (for The Quietus read it here), it seemed only fitting that for the 100th post on the newly resurrected and resurgent Velvet Sheep fanzine to welcome a wolf in sheep’s clothing to the “song for ewe” fold. It’s Kurt Wolf…!

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Kurt Wolf joined Pussy Galore after the “Right Now!” album when Neil Hagerty left to take up Royal Trux full time with his then girlfriend Jennifer Herrema. With his nervous spikiness he brought a new energy to the band, they toured Europe for the first time and they recorded the “Sugarshit Sharp EP”. In my article with the band on tQ Kurt described the experience of the first few gigs thus “I remember the first gig it was at little squat or something in Alphabet City. I resolved to play totally straight edge. All I heard up there was a dull roar. My guitar strings all broke. I froze like a statue. Lesson one: never play straight edge again. Lesson two: play louder with a big fucking amp, all treble to cut through the howling, shit storm, dirt-nado onstage. Just tune into that high pitched whine and annihilate your thoughts… We played our second Mean Fiddler show in London with the four guitar line up and the Brits were not too impressed shall we say…”
Hagerty played a curveball and rejoined the band shortly afterwards, but was incorporated back into the fold as a fourth guitarist, along with band lynchpins Jon Spencer, Julie Cafritz and the newly established Wolf. In the tQ article Wolf told me he was relieved that Hagerty had returned as it was difficult playing the role of his “stunt double”. They were two very different characters, both playing angular guitar but while Hagerty was obtuse, Wolf was acute. Perhaps less unpredictable but he still had his volatile moments. During the fractious recording sessions in London for “Dial M” he recounted how after an exhausting amount of retakes, he couldn’t take it any more and tossed the trusty guitar into the rusty metal of his iso booth. It was tricky competing for sonic space in the claustrophobic confines of the Pussy Galore unit. It was always taut and tight, but this time it was especially tense since Julie and Jon were at loggerheads and Jon had unexpectedly announced this as the last PG album which precipitated Julie leaving the band before mixing. The intensity was borne out in an album that is still one of my favourites ever – a cut & paste album in the hip hop style but with a sound that’s undeniably punk.
Wolf had added to this Stonesy wall of Neu-oise and even though it seemed like it would be the end to a brilliant but incandescent chapter of rock history, they continued when the band played on with an all-male line-up. They toured the US in a non air conditioned van in August. Four blokes living in each other’s armpits, imagine the funk! This tour included a gig at CBGBs recorded as a live record, and they went onto play one more album as a four piece (the other member of course the legendary Bob Bert formerly of Sonic Youth).
When I first got in touch with Kurt via e-mail, I loved his gonzoid turn of phrase, but even in the bits of sporadic communication we’ve shared I also feel a definite warmth.
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When I got Julie Cafritz to choose her “song for ewe” I loved her choice of Vivien Goldman “Launderette”, and I have an ace Bob Bert “song for ewe” on its way, but I knew I wanted Kurt to do this 100th post on the new VS site, since he got so excited about choosing a song, he done gone and chose three! So here’s the Kurt Wolf hat-trick – it’s over to “songs for ewe” galore from the man from Pussy Galore…
KURT WOLF CHOICE NUMBER 1:
The Walker Brothers – Deadlier Than The Male
Morbidly romantic and square. Locked in a parallel universe outside the hippy hegemony of their day.  Music for the hunter and the hunted…”

KURT WOLF CHOICE NUMBER 2:
“International Harvester – Sommarlaten (The Summer Song)
Concrete proof that the Nordic hippy was a very different breed from the bourgeois American prototype.  Etched in the bones of International Harvester, our children are coming to burn down your church.”

KURT WOLF CHOICE NUMBER 3:
“Sparks – Fletcher Honorama
‘Fletcher Honorama’ occupies a space somewhere between Captain Beefheart’s ‘Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles’ and the Butthole Surfers ‘Negro Observer’.  Floating in the either is the blue print for many hopelessly screwed up guitar players to come…”

THANKS SO MUCH TO KURT FOR THE WORDS AND THE PICTURES

Author: Nick Hutchings

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