Dog Faced Hermans

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Dog Faced Hermans
Origin Edinburgh, Scotland
Genres Post-punk, anarcho-punk, avant-punk,[1] noise rock, experimental rock
Years active 1986–1995
Labels Demon Radge, Calculus Records, Vinyl Drip, Konkurrel, Alternative Tentacles
Associated acts The Ex
Rhythm Activism
Two Pin Din
Volunteer Slavery
Website http://dogfacedhermans.bandcamp.com/
Members Marion Coutts
Andy Moor
Colin McLean
Wilf Plum
Gert-Jan

Dog Faced Hermans were a four-piece post-punk band that formed in Scotland in the mid 1980s and remained active through the mid 1990s. They emerged from the UK anarcho-punk scene with a guitar/bass/drums line-up, but also incorporated trumpet and other instruments not commonly found in punk music at that time. Their composition style incorporated many genres of music outside of rock, including folk, jazz, ambient and noise music with often unorthodox instrumentation.[2]

History[edit]

1980s[edit]

Dog Faced Hermans formed in Edinburgh, Scotland out of the female-fronted funk-punk sextet Volunteer Slavery, named after an album by Rahsaan Roland Kirk.[3][4] Londoner Andy Moor, who was studying anthopology in Edinburgh, first met Colin McLean at a benefit for the Scottish Campaign to Remove the Atomic Menace, and the two shared a love of James Brown, free jazz, reggae, and African music.[5] Wilf plum had been moonlighting with local noise bands Finitribe and Stretchheads,[6] and Marion Coutts took time off from her studies at Edinburgh College of Art to play trumpet.

They band got their new name from a scene in a Frankenstein movie, "where a woman dreams that her husband, whose name is Herman, gets turned into a dog."[7] When the group started, they played primarily improvised music, "like bashing oil drums and hitting the guitars without actually playing very many tunes," according to drummer Wilf Plum.[7] The group's longer improvisations were condensed into shorter arranged songs that maintained their experimental qualities. The Hermans' line-up stayed constant throughout their tenure, with Marion Coutts fronting the band on vocals, trumpet and percussion, Andy Moor on guitar, Colin Mclean on bass, and Wilf Plum on drums. Within their first three years as a band, the Hermans recorded and released a few singles and two albums on their own Demon Radge Records and on journalist Everett True’s label, Calculus.[1] These early records demonstrated the breadth of the band's influences, including British and Scottish post-punk, American no wave, and various styles of folk music, exemplified in their renditions of the Italian partisan song "Bella Ciao" and the blues standard "John Henry".[4]

While in the UK, the Dog Faced Hermans made numerous appearances on the BBC, recording three songs for The John Peel Show in 1987 and appearing on the TV programme FSD in 1988.[7]

1990s[edit]

The group found affinity in Dutch anarchist group The Ex, whom they'd been introduced to through members of Chumbawamba.[5] The Ex and Dog Faced Hermans toured Europe, the United States, and Canada together and released the single "Stonestamper's Song" under the name Ex Faced Hermans, a split live cassette, and began a longstanding collaboration with the free jazz ensemble Instant Composers Pool. The Dog Faced Hermans also served as the backing band for Kudish musician Brader with whom The Ex had also collaborated.[2] By 1990 the Dog Faced Hermans relocated to Amsterdam taking on The Ex's sound engineer Gert Jan as a member of the group, and in 1991 Andy Moor joined The Ex, and for some years played guitar for both bands.[5]

The Hermans struck up a deal with the Dutch label Konkurrent for the release of 1991's Mental Blocks for All Ages and 1993's Hum of Life, which featured covers of songs by free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman and American no wave group 8 Eyed Spy.[2] Part of the lead track, "Jan 9", is lifted from the Rumanian folk tune "Rumelaj".[8] An American fan of the group, Geoffery Treistadt from Minneapolis band Jonestown, released the Hermans' records simultaneously in North America on his tiny Project A Bomb label. Seeking wider distribution, the Hermans approached former Dead Kennedys singer Jello Biafra who released the Hermans' final studio and live albums on his Alternative Tentacles label before the group disbanded in 1995..[1] About the break-up, Andy Morr later said, "As a four-piece band, we had said what we had to say."[9] The Hermans gave their final three concerts in San Francisco in October of 1995, having played nearly 450 gigs in their decade as a band.[10]

Post-Hermans[edit]

Wilf Plum went to drum for the Canadian ensemble Rhythm Activism and the projects Two Pin Din and Orchestre Tout Puissant Marcel Duchamp. Andy Moor continues to play with The Ex as a permanent member, as well as numerous other projects. Colin McLean also toured with The Ex as the band's live sound engineer and played bass for their collaboration with Ethiopian saxophonist Getatchew Mekuria. Marion Coutts returned to the UK, dedicating herself to making and teaching visual art and writing books, with a few brief sojourns into playing and recording music.[2] Sound engineer Gert Jan toured with The Ex for many years, as well as the bands Red Monkey and Zea.

Members[edit]

  • Marion Coutts: vocals, trumpet, bells
  • Colin Mclean: bass, guitar, steel drum
  • Wilf Plum: drums, scrap metal, foghorn
  • Andy Moor: guitar, viola, "hippo tube"
  • Gert-Jan: live sound

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

  • Humans Fly (12" EP, 1988, Calculus, UK)
  • Everyday Timebomb (LP, 1989, Vinyl Drip, UK)
  • Mental Blocks For All Ages (LP/CD, 1991, Konkurrel Records/Project A Bomb)
  • Humans Fly / Everyday Timebomb (CD, 1991, Konkurrel Records)
  • Hum of Life (LP/CD, 1993, Konkurrel Records/Project A Bomb)
  • Those Deep Buds (LP/CD, 1994, Konkurrel Records/Alternative Tentacles)

Live albums[edit]

  • Live Action & Increasing (Tape, 1988, Demon Radge, UK)
  • Live at the "Ancienne Chocolaterie" (Tape, 1991, Demon Radge)
  • Bump and Swing (CD, 1994, Konkurrel Records/Alternative Tentacles)

Singles[edit]

  • "Unbend" (7", 1987, Demon Radge, UK)
  • "Bella Ciao"/"Miss O'Grady" (7", 1988, Calculus, UK)
  • "Too Much For The Red Ticker"/"Timebomb"(7", Konkurrent Records 1989)
  • "Peace Warriors" (7", 1993, Compulsive, UK) split single with Jonestown

With The Ex[edit]

  • "Lied der Steinklopfer" ("Stonestamper's Song") (7", 1990) released under the name Ex Faced Hermans
  • Treat (split live cassette, 1990)
  • Bimhuis 29/06/91 (2×7", part of The Ex's 6 series of singles released throughout 1991)

Compilation appearances[edit]

  • "Balloon Girl" on Fridge Freezer 7” EP with the Turncoats, Sperm Wails & Membranes. (Ridiculous, Sharon! Records - SHAZ 001 - 1987)
  • "Shat On By Angels" on Censorship Sucks LP (DDT Records - 1987)
  • "How Much Vegetation Have You Got?" and "Miss O'Grady" on Menschen Fliegen LP (Constrictor Records CON! 00007 - 1988)
  • "Yellow Girls" on Take 5 Shelter benefit LP (Shelter 4 - 1988)
  • "Zig Zag Wanderer" on Fast ’N Bulbous Captain Beefheart covers LP (Imaginary Records ILLUSION 002 - 1988)
  • "How Much Vegetation Have You Got?" on Gosh! CD (Constrictor, 1988)
  • "John Henry" on Diamonds and Porcupines LP (Beat All The Tambourines TAMBEAT 3 - 1989)
  • "Cactus" on A Pox upon the Poll Tax LP (Peasants Revolt Records, 1989)
  • "Canzone Guiseppe Penelli" on Radio Mondain Den Haag De Sessies #1 cassette (Trespassers W Records TW1010 - 1991)
  • "Draw the Curtain" on Es Gibt ein Leben vor dem Tod LP (1992)
  • "New Year" on The Dignity Of Human Being Is Vulnerable LP/CD (Konkeuurent/AWA, 1993)
  • "Wings" and "Body Strategic" on Let's Make the Weiner Kid Sing 2xCD (various labels, 1993)
  • "Viva" on King Konk: A Royal Compilation LP/CD (Konjurrel, 1994)
  • "Fortune" on Attack of the Tentacles CD (Alternative Tentacles, 1995)
  • "Blessed Are The Follies" on Upsalapalooza CD (WFMU, 1995)
  • "Blessed Are The Follies" on Mordam Records Sampler #3 CD (Mordam Records, 1995)
  • "Calley" on Sperminator CD (AWA, 1996)
  • "The Women And Girls Go Dancing" on Up to D.A.T. CD (Mad's Collectif, 1997)
  • "Incineration" on Commercially Unfriendsly CD (Gott Discs, 1005)
  • "Balloon Girl" on Death to Trad Rock CD (Cherry Red, 2009)
  • "Catbrain Walk" on C87 3xCD box set (Cherry Red, 2016)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Strong, Martin C.: "The Great Alternative & Indie Discography", 1999, Canongate, ISBN 0-86241-913-1
  2. ^ a b c d Wolk, Douglas (1998). "Dog Faced Hermans". Trouser Press. Retrieved 3 December 2016. 
  3. ^ "Wilf Plum interview". 
  4. ^ a b Robb, John (12 February 2011). "Remembering the Dog Faced Hermans – wild, discordant death to trad rock heroes". Louder Than War. Retrieved 3 December 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c Barr, Susan (20 August 2015). "The return of Holland's punk pioneers". The Herald. Herald Scotland. Retrieved 5 December 2016. 
  6. ^ Plum, Wilf. "Discography". Plum World Headquarters. Retrieved 5 December 2016. 
  7. ^ a b c "Dog Faced Hermans" (Television). BBC. FSD. 25 May 1988. 
  8. ^ Dog Faced Herman (1993). Hum of Life. Minneapolis/Amsterdam: Project A Bomb/Konkurrel. p. Back cover. 
  9. ^ Wolk, Douglas (August 2009). "Dog Faced Hermans". SPIN. 
  10. ^ Plum, Wilf. "Dog Faced Hermans List of Gigs". Plum Headquarters. Retrieved 5 December 2016. 

External links[edit]