Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat

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Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat
EP by Minutemen
Released Nov. 1983
Recorded January 3, 30 and May 23, 1983
Genre Post-punk, hardcore punk
Length 15:30
Label SST
Producer Ethan James, Spot
Minutemen chronology
What Makes a Man Start Fires?
(1983)
Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat
(1983)
The Politics of Time
(1984)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars link

Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat is the sixth overall release (fourth extended play, or EP, release and their first 12-inch EP) from American hardcore punk band Minutemen.

History of the EP[edit]

The EP was recorded rather cheaply even by Minutemen standards; the cost was $50. Most of the songs were cut live to two-track tape at Total Access Studio in Redondo Beach, CA, rather than utilize multi-track recording tape, with longtime SST Records staff producer Spot behind the mixing board. Spot had suggested the live-to-two-track approach after Minutemen queried about the possibility of recording a new EP on four-channel multi-track tape, rather than the 16-track recordings the band had done in the past. This meant that most of the songs on Buzz or Howl... were recorded without any overdubs. The exceptions were the first three tracks on the EP, which were the first recordings Minutemen had done with producer/engineer Ethan James, who would go on to work with them on their seminal double album Double Nickels on the Dime later in 1984.

The sessions cost a total of $50, which covered the live-to-two-track sessions with Spot at Total Access. The Radio Tokyo sessions with Ethan James were done for free, in return for allowing a Minutemen track to appear on the compilation The Radio Tokyo Tapes.

The front cover of the album was initially intended to incorporate a color photograph from National Geographic that SST had permission to use; unfortunately, doing the color separation for the front cover proved to be cost-prohibitive for SST at the time. Instead, a black-and-white ink drawing of D. Boon and Mike Watt having an argument while various items fly around in the background, drawn by Saccharine Trust guitarist Joe Baiza, was used.

The back cover of the album features a Raymond Pettibon drawing of a sleepwalking man with the caption, "A Happy Person"; a reproduction of a letter to Watt from Richard Meltzer apologizing for missing a Minutemen concert that he was invited to; and, amongst the pictures of the band, a headshot of D. Boon that, years later, would become a popular sticker with the caption, "Punk is whatever we make it to be."

Song history[edit]

Members of Black Flag were direct inspiration for three of the songs on Buzz or Howl...'. "Cut" was written by Mike Watt in admiration of Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn's playing style; Henry Rollins provided the title for the improvised instrumental "Dreams Are Free, Motherfucker!" (which was actually a segment of a warm-up jam done with trumpet player Crane at the beginning of the January 30th session); and original Black Flag bassist Chuck Dukowski wrote some of the lyrics to "Little Man With A Gun In His Hand" and gave them to D. Boon at the end of both bands' 1982 European tour.

"I Felt Like A Gringo" is an autobiographical song written by Watt about a day trip Minutemen took in Mexico on the 4th July, 1982. There was an election that day for President of Mexico, which was referenced in the lyric "Who won I said "The election?" (the winner in question was Miguel de la Madrid).The same trip would also inspire the D. Boon composition "Corona" on Double Nickels....

"The Toe Jam" is another improvised cut, recorded the same day as "Dreams Are Free, Motherfucker", only with another band friend, Dirk Vandenburg (who would also do photography on several Minutemen covers, including Double Nickels...) playing drums, while drummer George Hurley attempted to play Crane's trumpet, Crane did some scat-singing, and another friend ad-libbed a poem about wanting to wear a wedding ring on her second toe (hence the name of the song).

According to the liner notes of the live compilation album Ballot Result, Mike Watt believed "Little Man With A Gun In His Hand" may be about, or have been inspired by, Black Flag's longtime roadie and lead singer and founder of The Nig-Heist, Steve "Mugger" Corbin. However, Dukowski stated in an interview for the 33⅓ book series' volume on Double Nickels... (written by Michael T. Fournier) that the song actually stems from existentialist ideas he had at the time.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
  1. "Self-Referenced" – 1:23 (Watt)
  2. "Cut" – 2:02 (Watt)
  3. "Dream Told by Moto" – 1:45 (Watt)
  4. "Dreams Are Free, Motherfucker!" – 1:09 (Boon/Watt/Hurley/Crane)
  5. "The Toe Jam" – 0:40 (Cooper/Vandenberg/Crane/Hurley/Boon/Watt)
Side two
  1. "I Felt Like a Gringo" – 1:57 (Watt)
  2. "The Product" – 2:44 (Boon)
  3. "Little Man With a Gun in His Hand" – 3:10 (Dukowski/Boon)

Musical personnel[edit]

  • D. Boon - guitar, vocals
  • Mike Watt - bass, vocals (lead vocals on "Cut")
  • George Hurley - drums, backing vocals ("The Toe Jam"), trumpet ("The Toe Jam"), recorder ("The Product")
  • Crane - trumpet ("The Product"), recorder ("Dreams Are Free..."), backing vocals ("Toe Jam" and "The Product")
  • Dirk Vandenberg - drums ("The Toe Jam")
  • Mary Cooper - vocals ("The Toe Jam")