Music

Boss Hog Band

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I first met Cristina Martinez when she was working at a Haagen-Dazs ice cream parlor in Washington, DC. She was 13 years old. Her co-worker, an agitated young “Georgetown Punk” now known to the world as Henry Rollins, was busy smashing a radio behind the counter, so Cristina stepped up to help me. She was giggling uncontrollably, and was wearing a PIL badge. I asked her if she wanted to sing for my band. “No thanks,” she said, “I’m going to be a star.” Sure enough, fifteen years later, Cristina and her fellow band members in Boss Hog hobnob with rock and roll luminaries PJ Harvey, Beck and The Beastie Boys as they celebrate the release of their new album on Geffen’s DGC label.

While still a hyperactive teenager living with her grandmother in the Anacostia district of Washington, DC, Cristina met her future beau Jon Spencer through the punk rock grapevine: they were introduced by two mohawked twins named Liz and Lil from the band Type-O’s. Jon was singing and playing guitar for a brand new noise combo called Pussy Galore. Within three months of Pussy Galore’s formation, the group had already played every rock club in D.C. and felt that it was a “dead end” and a “loser town.” Pussy Galore decided to relocate to New York City on the advice of old friend H.R., singer for the Bad Brains. (as if on cue, on the very day they left Washington, a reviewer for the local Unicorn press referred to them as “the worst band I have ever seen.”)

Shortly after moving to New York, Cristina officially joined Pussy Galore on a dare from singer/guitarist Julie Cafritz. “[Julie] basically said I wouldn’t have the guts to get up on stage, and actually I didn’t, but at that point I couldn’t back down or there was going to be a fight,” recalls Cristina. The band quickly established a reputation for wildly uneven live performances. In the words of then-Misfit Glenn Danzig, “When they were great, they were great but man, when that band sucked…they fuckin’ sucked..” Over the course of several years, the band released several EPs and albums, including “Pussy Gold 5000,” “Right Now,” and the notorious “Exile on Main Street” cassette, now considered an underground collector’s item worth over $500.

At the same time, a German factory worker named Jens Jurgensen was busy building fully functional mechanical arms in the basement of his West Berlin squat. One day, a friend brought over a bootleg tape with Throbbing Gristle on one side and Pussy Galore on the other. Jens was impressed enough by the sound on the tape that when Pussy Galore toured Europe the following winter, he brought one of his mechanical arms to their Berlin show and shook Jon Spencer’s hand with it. He told Jon that he planned to be in New York next fall to attend the Pratt Institute of Design, and the two agreed to “integrate processes,” as Jens puts it. However, Jen’s stint at Pratt was short-lived: within two months he was kicked out for vandalism, which he maintains was a simple failure of the administration to comprehend “a series of conceptual acts.” Three days later he joined The Swans as the third bass player.

Meanwhile Pussy Galore broke up over a heated dispute regarding a sum of money ($5,000), the circumstances surrounding which remain unclear. Jon Spencer started moonlighting in seven different bands, including The Gibson Brothers, Live Skull, and Born to Lose. Cristina and Jon put together Boss Hog on the spur of the moment to fill a last minute cancellation at CBGB. (The band’s name, “Boss Hog,” came from a biker magazine, not from the “Dukes of Hazzard” TV show, as is usually assumed.) To their surprise, the band became an instant sensation, thanks perhaps in part to Cristina’s decision to perform her first show as lead singer entirely in the nude.

Boss Hog saw a number of musical personnel come and go on the way to its current rock-solid incarnation. Their first release, a 1989 casette-only EP called “Drinkin’, Letchin’, and Lyin'” and 1990’s “Cold Hands” CD, featured the “All-Star” lineup of Kurt Wolf, Pete Shore, Charlie Ondras and Jerry Teal. But tempers began to flare, and in the wake of numerous “All-Star” fistfights, Jon and Cristina scrapped the whole band, replacing them with Jens on bass and an unnamed drummer. In Cristina’s opinion, a major benefit of Jen’s “buzzsaw overdrive” sound was that it eliminated the need for an extra guitar player, leaving “one less ego and one less person to pay.”

Eventually, chatty Hollis Queens was recruited to replace the drummer, who converted to Buddhism. Hollis was selling quartz crystals in a magic shop near N.Y.U. when she met the members of Boss Hog at a flea market. Although she had never played the drums before, an ex-boyfriend in the N.Y. hardcore band Cro-Mags had given her a set for her birthday (complete with a large blood spot on the bass drum); but more importantly, she displayed an unusually positive attitude that the group felt might be an asset. After a few practices, Hollis was in. At this point, says Jon, Boss Hog finally began to feel “more like a band and less like an indie rock supergroup.”

In 1993, Boss Hog hit a turning point with the release of their “Girl+” CD. Not only was the CD critically acclaimed, the band felt that it had begun to distance itself from the endless parade of “AmRep-type” bands then in vogue. In forging their on style, the band drew from such diverse sources of inspiration as 80s-style “negatron punk” (Flipper, the Birthday Party). cool 70’s R&B (J.J. Walker All-Stars), Devo and A.P.E. In addition, Boss Hog began to shift away from its earlier, in-your-face “sexploitation” aesthetic towards a smoother, more “glamorous” approach. Thanks in part to a mini-tour in support of “Girl+”, the CD sold many, many copies.

Boss Hog’s first release on Geffen’s DGC label, produced and mixed with the enigmatic Steve Fisk, represents another massive step forward for the band. Boss Hog cavorts through a dizzying range of musical and lyrical styles. While still based in the “classic” catatonic-sex-zombie-gone-bad Boss Hog style, the new album mixes in punk rock anthemics, soulful croonings, funky “boing-boing” numbers and a neo-Gothic fear piece (“Texas”). Songs about love and relationships are peppered with handfuls of angst and anomie–and an episode of cat vomiting. Boss Hog is curently planning a fall tour, possibly to be co-billed with either the Ohio Necros, Blind Melon or Yoko Ono.I first met Cristina Martinez when she was working at a Haagen-Dazs ice cream parlor in Washington, DC. She was 13 years old. Her co-worker, an agitated young “Georgetown Punk” now known to the world as Henry Rollins, was busy smashing a radio behind the counter, so Cristina stepped up to help me. She was giggling uncontrollably, and was wearing a PIL badge. I asked her if she wanted to sing for my band. “No thanks,” she said, “I’m going to be a star.” Sure enough, fifteen years later, Cristina and her fellow band members in Boss Hog hobnob with rock and roll luminaries PJ Harvey, Beck and The Beastie Boys as they celebrate the release of their new album on Geffen’s DGC label.

While still a hyperactive teenager living with her grandmother in the Anacostia district of Washington, DC, Cristina met her future beau Jon Spencer through the punk rock grapevine: they were introduced by two mohawked twins named Liz and Lil from the band Type-O’s. Jon was singing and playing guitar for a brand new noise combo called Pussy Galore. Within three months of Pussy Galore’s formation, the group had already played every rock club in D.C. and felt that it was a “dead end” and a “loser town.” Pussy Galore decided to relocate to New York City on the advice of old friend H.R., singer for the Bad Brains. (as if on cue, on the very day they left Washington, a reviewer for the local Unicorn press referred to them as “the worst band I have ever seen.”)

Shortly after moving to New York, Cristina officially joined Pussy Galore on a dare from singer/guitarist Julie Cafritz. “[Julie] basically said I wouldn’t have the guts to get up on stage, and actually I didn’t, but at that point I couldn’t back down or there was going to be a fight,” recalls Cristina. The band quickly established a reputation for wildly uneven live performances. In the words of then-Misfit Glenn Danzig, “When they were great, they were great but man, when that band sucked…they fuckin’ sucked..” Over the course of several years, the band released several EPs and albums, including “Pussy Gold 5000,” “Right Now,” and the notorious “Exile on Main Street” cassette, now considered an underground collector’s item worth over $500.

At the same time, a German factory worker named Jens Jurgensen was busy building fully functional mechanical arms in the basement of his West Berlin squat. One day, a friend brought over a bootleg tape with Throbbing Gristle on one side and Pussy Galore on the other. Jens was impressed enough by the sound on the tape that when Pussy Galore toured Europe the following winter, he brought one of his mechanical arms to their Berlin show and shook Jon Spencer’s hand with it. He told Jon that he planned to be in New York next fall to attend the Pratt Institute of Design, and the two agreed to “integrate processes,” as Jens puts it. However, Jen’s stint at Pratt was short-lived: within two months he was kicked out for vandalism, which he maintains was a simple failure of the administration to comprehend “a series of conceptual acts.” Three days later he joined The Swans as the third bass player.

Meanwhile Pussy Galore broke up over a heated dispute regarding a sum of money ($5,000), the circumstances surrounding which remain unclear. Jon Spencer started moonlighting in seven different bands, including The Gibson Brothers, Live Skull, and Born to Lose. Cristina and Jon put together Boss Hog on the spur of the moment to fill a last minute cancellation at CBGB. (The band’s name, “Boss Hog,” came from a biker magazine, not from the “Dukes of Hazzard” TV show, as is usually assumed.) To their surprise, the band became an instant sensation, thanks perhaps in part to Cristina’s decision to perform her first show as lead singer entirely in the nude.

Boss Hog saw a number of musical personnel come and go on the way to its current rock-solid incarnation. Their first release, a 1989 casette-only EP called “Drinkin’, Letchin’, and Lyin'” and 1990’s “Cold Hands” CD, featured the “All-Star” lineup of Kurt Wolf, Pete Shore, Charlie Ondras and Jerry Teal. But tempers began to flare, and in the wake of numerous “All-Star” fistfights, Jon and Cristina scrapped the whole band, replacing them with Jens on bass and an unnamed drummer. In Cristina’s opinion, a major benefit of Jen’s “buzzsaw overdrive” sound was that it eliminated the need for an extra guitar player, leaving “one less ego and one less person to pay.”

Eventually, chatty Hollis Queens was recruited to replace the drummer, who converted to Buddhism. Hollis was selling quartz crystals in a magic shop near N.Y.U. when she met the members of Boss Hog at a flea market. Although she had never played the drums before, an ex-boyfriend in the N.Y. hardcore band Cro-Mags had given her a set for her birthday (complete with a large blood spot on the bass drum); but more importantly, she displayed an unusually positive attitude that the group felt might be an asset. After a few practices, Hollis was in. At this point, says Jon, Boss Hog finally began to feel “more like a band and less like an indie rock supergroup.”

In 1993, Boss Hog hit a turning point with the release of their “Girl+” CD. Not only was the CD critically acclaimed, the band felt that it had begun to distance itself from the endless parade of “AmRep-type” bands then in vogue. In forging their on style, the band drew from such diverse sources of inspiration as 80s-style “negatron punk” (Flipper, the Birthday Party). cool 70’s R&B (J.J. Walker All-Stars), Devo and A.P.E. In addition, Boss Hog began to shift away from its earlier, in-your-face “sexploitation” aesthetic towards a smoother, more “glamorous” approach. Thanks in part to a mini-tour in support of “Girl+”, the CD sold many, many copies.

Boss Hog’s first release on Geffen’s DGC label, produced and mixed with the enigmatic Steve Fisk, represents another massive step forward for the band. Boss Hog cavorts through a dizzying range of musical and lyrical styles. While still based in the “classic” catatonic-sex-zombie-gone-bad Boss Hog style, the new album mixes in punk rock anthemics, soulful croonings, funky “boing-boing” numbers and a neo-Gothic fear piece (“Texas”). Songs about love and relationships are peppered with handfuls of angst and anomie–and an episode of cat vomiting. Boss Hog is curently planning a fall tour, possibly to be co-billed with either the Ohio Necros, Blind Melon or Yoko Ono.