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Little Seizures are a one-yearish-old band populated by roughly 80%, uh, wizened local punk veterans. Their howling and chutzpah heave out like a bunch of brats, though, and it’s especially evident on their brand-new 7″ “Pizza Punk,” which bounces around with Johnny Thunders-like riffs, Angry Samoans-like snot, and don’t-like-you-like moods. SOTC spoke to them about how they got together, the records they’d save in a fire, and their favorite places to party.
What thinning-out, 3:15 a.m. loft party in Bed-Stuy birthed Little Seizures, and when?
Tommy Perkins (singer): Well, there was a lineup before I joined that was playing under another name, but as for me, Bill asked me to audition a little over a year ago. We had run into each other at Don Pedro’s. I was mouthing off about wanting to be in a band, or going crazy singing along to someone playing that night—I don’t recall exactly. But the next show we saw each other at I was propositioned.
Bill Florio (bassist): We sat down together at the Lyric diner on Third Avenue in 2008 and decided to start a new band with the exact same people as The Shemps. This lasted a month or so, about the same amount of time it took to digest that meal. We then gained and lost people over the course of 30 odd months, which evoked a name change or two, and moved on to those Korean Delis along Eighth Avenue that let you drink beer in the front window. I think we decided we were Little Seizures in August 2011.
What previous bands did your members have to start and dissolve before Little Seizures got it right?
TP: A few years ago I sang in a band from Connecticut called Guilty Faces. We did a few tours and records, and then everybody went their separate ways. I’m in another band currently, Mutant Genes, also from New York.
David “Squeaky” Wilentz (guitar): The Shemps > The Heart Punchers > Little Seizures. The Shemps singer, Artie, offended everyone by taking off their glasses and putting them on his own face, sitting on their girlfriend’s laps and serenading them, getting naked, etc. His obnoxious persona kept them coming back for more. What a charmer. There was one time when he had his arm in a cast and said something funny about Williamsburg when we played a club there. After the set a few guys came up to him mad and threatening about it, all upset that he ‘dissed their hood.’ He was like, ‘So it’s the three of you against a guy with one arm?’ A few years later Artie quit the band and then said to us, ‘but if you guys want to do another band I’m in.’ So we decided to start over, changed the name to The Heart Punchers (as in the lethal maneuver of Ox Baker and other classic professional wrestlers), and kept only the new material we hadn’t played out yet. Then Artie moved to Chicago but wanted to still be in the band. He rarely came to practice while he lived in New York, so we said fuggedaboudit. We got Joe Dirty from Detroit to sing for a few months. Then he quit, I think because he wanted to go in a different musical direction, though he never made it explicit. Bill talked to Tommy at some show. Tommy had made a name for himself on the punk rock scene from singing in The Guilty Faces, and I suppose also for his own brand of obnoxiousness, albeit more low-key than Artie’s. He seemed gung ho and turned out to be a perfect fit. He’s one of the biggest music fanatics I know, and that’s saying something.
BF: I was in Bugout Society in the 1990s, The Shemps, Lost Locker Combo, and The Kung Fu Monkeys in the 2000s. I currently sing for the house band for the late-night public access television phenomenon The Chris Gethard Show.
There’s a fire at Little Seizures headquarters! Which 10 records do you grab on the way out?
1. Replacements, Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash
2. Thin Lizzy, Bad Reputation
3. Motorhead, No Sleep ’til Hammersmith
4. Angry Samoans, Back to Samoa
5. G.G. Allin, You’ll Never Tame Me
6. The Dickies, Dawn of the Dickies
7. Pagans, Shit Street
8. The Dictators, Bloodbrothers
9. Black Flag, 1982 Demos Bootleg
10. Redd Kross, Teen Babes From Monsanto
Squeaky: A box of ’60s soul 45s, Poison Idea’s Pick Your King EP, and Seicho Terauchi-Bushi by Takeshi Terauchi and The Bunnys. Those are all originals. A lot of my records are reissues or compilations. So when you think about it, those may peril, but you know the sounds will live on in some form or another.
BF: I think the answer to that one is “Which of my annoying novelty records do other members toss in?”
You debut single—out now on local imprint Go Ape!—sounds like you were all jumping around the room while making it. Anything remotely like that happen during the recording process?
BF: I seem to remember Tommy being repulsed by our suggestion of using a tambourine in the recording, but then grabbed one and whapped out all the extra percussion needed with a scary serious look on his face. I think I have this on video somewhere.
What did you eat while recording? I ask because I have been told by the Go Ape! brass that your band is to only be referred to as “pizza punk.”
TP: Well, I probably ate something that day, but in the studio I think I just had a considerable amount to drink. Then I went to a bar by the Port Authority where I was catching a bus to meet my girlfriend in Atlantic City. I think I went to that Two Bros. Pizza on 39th, maybe, and got a few of their $1 slices. That stuff isn’t terrible, either. I wish I’d ordered a meat lovers’ during the recording though.
Squeaky: Tommy is obsessed with pizza. He came up with the band name. After our gig in New Haven, he took us to a classy pizza joint (with fancy craft beers and Yale kids) that was almost worth getting home at 4 in the morning for. During recording I seem to recall: pastrami on rye, potato chips, burgers, a hot dog… We tried to get Thai food too, but they were closed.
BF: I definitely had a Vietnamese sandwich at some point, which I highly recommend if you want things right on the first take.
Your label, Go Ape!, is a hairy arm of the Fancy fanzine empire run by the mysterious couple, Amy & Michael.
That mag’s clip parties—where extremely rare and bizarre vintage music and film clips blow your mind for two-plus hours—are always a hoot. Can I assume the band is a fan of them? And any good stories from one of those soirées? I know I personally spent one of them wearing a costume horse head for the better part of the evening, and once shook hands with a silver space alien…
TP: Well, I think the first time they saw us was a party of theirs we played at Bowery Electric. There was a big inflatable banana being thrown around, and I was wagging it around like a phallic extension for a while. Then later in the night my friend John grabbed what he thought were cream pies that Amy was handing out and pied me (and himself) in the face. It was shaving cream. Man, that stuff burns! Another show they attended, Amy was wearing a gorilla costume and dancing onstage with us. As for the clips, they’re a glimpse into a library of bizarre cinema you never knew you needed to see. Lots of exploitation gems.
Squeaky: They asked Little Seizures to play that clip party at Bowery Electric… and I think it was after that gig they offered to put out the 45. Through them we’ve also had a dancing gorilla on stage while we were playing once. Amy and Michael are awesome and those clip parts and videos are so much fun!
BF: I think we’re a fan of playing any parties! “Party” implies that people aren’t just going there because a friend’s band guilted them into coming. I’d much rather be part of an event that’s more than just dudes playing music and people standing there watching them. Dave the Spazz from WFMU used to have house parties a lot where everyone would get up and dance to his record collection—everyone. It’s something special when that sort of thing happens, and what Amy and Mike are able to do is something we feel really privileged to be a small part of.
So that’s how the hook-up with Go Ape! happened?
Squeaky: Yeah. I met Amy and Michael about 20 years ago when I was in a Von Lmo video they made. I was a dancer for The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, and it was through that association that I met them.
BF: The guy that made that Von Lmo video that Squeaky was in used to help me edit bar mitzvah videos in Scarsdale, and I had no clue he was into ’70’s art-rock stuff until I ran into him at a show 3 years later. It’s sort of weird how there are so many millions of people here, yet you find you always run into the same ones.
In the tune “Got Me Scared,” you say, “I’ve got a bad case of feeling outta place.” Tell me a recent situation where you felt totally out of place.
TP: So I suppose I made an omission when I was talking about bands leading up to this one. From the same time Little Seizures started with me singing until early this year, I had also been playing drums in an alternative-pop rock group, strictly for money. My friend John, the one who pied me and plays in my other band now, got me the gig because he was playing guitar. It was totally bizarre. We’d play to like nobody at all these L.E.S. and West Village clubs at like 7 on a Tuesday night; then I’d get paid for practices and shows, pretty much equal to what I made at my shit job! The dude liked to party, too, and financed a lot of wild evenings full of bad decisions. I even went in the studio and this guy who has Grammys for working with a big-time Top 40 band was there. They were all really nice, but it was too weird. I quit. Now they have a music video they self-financed. I don’t think I was quite the type of guy for that sort of thing, but it was an interesting experience I suppose.
And where do Little Seizures go to feel like they fit right in?
TP: Well, I feel most in my place at haunts like Second Chance, Don Pedro’s, or anywhere with cheap food, cheap drinks, and something worth listening to or watching. Also, bars that won’t ban you for sleeping there, like the two mentioned above.
Squeaky: Don Pedro’s is a good example of a place we’ve played a bunch and know everyone and get along really well. Basically any place where folks are cool, into real rock’n’roll and having a good time. And pizza, hamburgers, beer, whiskey, gin, etc., (and iced tea for Bill) helps too.
BF: I feel like my favorite shows are at people’s houses. There’s no stage or lighting, no real PA, and the band has to squeeze in with everyone watching and dancing around. I’ve seen some bands totally kill it in this atmosphere, and I find that I have a lot more fun when that happens than at any standard rock show where all odds are in your favor. It could also be the contrast of watching five bands that barely keep it together playing a house show, and when the one really good band comes on it seems like Motörhead just showed up. I feel like as I keep answering this question it makes me seem more like a jerk, so I’ll just leave it there.
The Little Seizures play the Fancy! Clip Party at The Grand Victory with Born Loose, The 10-Cent Fuck Flicks, And The Mess Around tonight.