Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – N

The Nails
How much did I love the song “88 Lines About 44 Women”? Well, my daughter’s middle name is Seattle and the first time I ever heard that name was in that song. “Seattle was another girl who left her mark upon the map”. The band was formed as The Ravers in Boulder, Colorado in the late seventies and at one time employed a crew member by the name of Eric Boucher. Eric would leave Boulder and head to San Francisco, change his name to Jello Biafra and form The Dead Kennedys.

The Ravers would change their name to The Nails by the end of the decade and move to New York where they quickly became favourites on the club circuit. After releasing an EP they signed to RCA and recorded the album “Mood Swings” which contained a freshly recorded version of “88 Lines About 44 Women”. The title says it all. A half-spoken new wave rant about 44 different women and their various quirks and fetishes spoken over a cheesy keyboard line with Roland-sounding drums. There is no real chorus and the title of the song are the very last words spoken. A new wave classic.

Nine Inch Nails in New York City
In March of 1990 I was doing marketing for MCA Records Canada. John Alexander who ran the A&R department would often run music by me for a second opinion. He came in one day with a package from TVT Records and asked if I knew anything about them. I had just seen the owner of the label Steve Gottlieb on a late night talk show talking about his compilation of Television’s Greatest Hits. The package was a wonderful collection of TV show themes from the fifties and sixties. Also in the package was “Pretty Hate Machine” the debut album from Nine Inch Nails. I knew the song “Down In It” and upon listening fell in love with the rest of the record. John asked if I would be able to go to New York on March 3rd to see the band perform at The New Ritz (which was the old Studio 54) along with The Jesus And Mary Chain. I asked if Sue would be able to make the trip with me and off we went. I spent the entire day with Steve Gottlieb and we got along famously. We were off to a good start. The show was set for 9 PM followed by an after party in the not yet cool Alphabet City section of New York. Someone tipped us off about a cool diner by the name of Trixies in Hell’s Kitchen. We grabbed a taxi at the hotel and gave him the address. He asked if we were serious about going to that area and then warned us not to walk the streets and make sure we had a cab come directly to the restaurant to pick us up. Nice way to scare a couple of tourists. It was at Trixies where we experienced our first ever order of sweet potato fries. They were glorious and never been topped (although Shanghai Cowgirl comes closes). Now things started to take a New York twist. During the meal we were serenaded by a rather robust transvestite by the name of Dora. She was fabulous and when she found out I was in the “industry” she joined us and sold us her cassette. Very interesting, Dora got us a cab and sent us on our way to The Ritz. When the cab pulled up there hundreds of people milling in front of the venue, police tape guarding the entrance and NYC’s finest hollering in to megaphones that the show was cancelled. WTF? Apparently The Beastie Boys had performed the night before at the venue and the Fire Marshall has to stop the show because of over crowding. Viewing the crowd for the Nine Inch Nails show they were looking at a repeat performance and they decided to nip this show in the bud. Great, now what? I had not brought my clunky cell phone with me as it was too big for carry on and I was afraid of what the charges would have been like in New York. We found a local bar and had a couple of Jack and cokes and decided we might as well head down to Alphabet City to see if the party was still on. If it wasn’t we could always head over to CBGB’s to see what was going on over there.  It was another long cab ride to another seedy part of town but we eventually found the party space and were more than happy that the event was happening. Steve introduced us to the band and Sue and Trent spent the next long while discussing all things architecture. Although we did not get to see the band it was a great night overall and we left with a good feeling. The next week Gottlieb confirmed the TVT distribution deal with MCA and the Nine Inch Nails were ours. A little talk about rock and a little Frank Lloyd Wright seemed to seal the deal.

Nick Lowe
In the late seventies I proudly sported my “Pure Pop For Now People” and “Basher is Boss” badges on my leather jacket as they were the perfect compliment to my “Jesus Of Cool” tie. Nick Lowe was like the eccentric step father of the UK punk scene. He could play, write and produce and that put him miles ahead of the young bands he would mentor. Every record collection should have a copy of “Pure Pop For Now People” or the U.K. equivalent “The Jesus Of Cool”. I remember Segarini and I standing on the Dundas subway platform one day humming the song “I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass” when a few feet behind us a man dropped a pane of glass. We abandoned whatever plans we had and high tailed it over to the original Hard Rock Café for a “what the hell just happened” drink. Speaking on the original Hard Rock Café, and because we are in the “N’s”, the original owner Nick Bitove’s two sons are in a great young band called Nightbox and well worth a few moments of your time. They were featured this season on the MuchMusic show “Discovered” and just wrapped up a cross Canada tour in support of  Lights. You can check them out at Great band and I am predicting big things for them in 2012.

This year Nick Lowe released his latest album “The Old Magic” and toured North America opening for Wilco. He played solo on acoustic guitar and mesmerised the rather musical Wilco fans. There is a song on that record called “House For Sale” which is one grabbed me on first listen and remains in my top 10 for the year. Nice to hear that The Basher is sill boss.

The New York Dolls
Given enough time I think I could write a book about The New York Dolls, and, was even quoted in the book “Trash! The Complete New York Dolls”. I  think I saw every show they played in Toronto (Victory Burlesque, Massey Hall, Queensbury Arms, The Phoenix, The Burlington Music Festival, Molson Canadian Amphitheatre). Darryl Fine and I travelled down to Cleveland to interview the band on their reunion tour and to shoot a photo session for the late great Gasoline Magazine. I wear a silver Dolls guitar pick around my neck and I have been both cool for liking the band in the early days and despised for dropping ‘Too Much Too Soon” on the turntable at high school parties back in the day. To see how the original reunion of The Dolls went down check out the DVD “The Return Of The New York Dolls – Live From Royal Festival Hall, 2004”. Essentially a live performance which was orchestrated by Morrissey for the “Meltdown Festival“, if you go the bonus materials there are some touching scenes with Arthur Kane which are taken from the DVD “New York Doll – One Man. Two Journeys”. If you don’t shed a tear watching that one you don’t have a rock’n’roll heart. When I say I’m in love,  you best believe I’m in love L.U.V. .

I have attended every NXNE since its inception 18 years ago. Last year I took on the responsibility of being the NXNE Film Festival Manager. It was a lot of fun (and hard work) and we screened 70 great films over the course of the week including “Color Me Obsessed”, a documentary about The Replacements, “Blooded But Unbowed”, a great retrospective of the early Vancouver punk scene and “Better Than Something – Jay Reatard”. We showed films and videos as short as two minutes and full length features running to hours. Submissions are open at and if you have a music-based film or video please have a look and possibly send it in. We already have some fantastic films lined-up for next years festival (June 11-17) but there is still lots of programming to be done.

Nuts And Bolts
No, not the famous Toronto new wave dance club that I used to DJ at, but more of a collection of  bits and pieces.

Our boys Amos The Transparent have dropped two new EP’s which are both available at iTunes and you can view their new video at Also, here is a free download link (not even asking for an email address) for their festive rendition of “OHolyNight!”

For those in the Ottawa area Amos will be playing their annual Christmas show at Greenfields with their pals, and recent Live 88 “Big Money Shot” champions The Love Machine, this Friday night.

If you are looking for some festive fun this holiday season our pals at the Bovine Sex Club are open on Christmas Eve and Christmas night and the best way to begin the year is the legendary Pajama Party at The Shanghai Cowgirl at noon on New Year’s Day with music by DJ Fathom. Every rock’n’roller worth their hangover stops by for a hair of the dog and a hearty meal. 538 Queen Street West in Toronto.

Thank you for everyone who had read one of this columns this year. It has been fun putting my memories to paper and I want to thank Bob Segarini for convincing me to do this (at 2:15 AM out in front of Cherry Colas). Thanks to Darryl Fine and his great staffs at The Shanghai Cowgirl and The Bovine for their support and a tip of the hat to Cherish and Glen at Cherry Colas for supporting Bob’s column. I encourage you to check in daily for great stories from Bob, Frank, Nadia, Jaimie and Geoff. A very talented cross section of writers. Thanks to WJ for being there for me.
Have a great holiday everyone and enjoy your families. I hope they support you like my family supports me. Let’s rock 2012!

A Reminder:
The First Annual Don’t Believe a Word I Say Reader’s Poll
To everyone who may be having a problem with copying and pasting the Poll from Monday’s column. Try this:1. Highlight the Poll 2. Right click on the Poll and choose ‘copy’. 3. Open a new word doc or email. 4. Right click and choose ‘Paste’, 5. Fill out the form and 6. Email either as a word.doc attachment, or as a straight email. The Poll is also available to copy and paste on my Facebook page Let me know if that works. If that doesn’t work, email me at, and I’ll mail the Poll directly to you to fill out. That might be the easiest way. Sorry for the inconvenience. We really are interested in hearing what you have to say. Also, your answers can include any music, movies, TV, etc, from any year, not just 2011.
Thank you,

We now have an email where all of us here at Don’t Believe A Word I Say can be contacted Please use it to ask questions, tell us what you would like to read about, links you would like to share, and, let’s hear what you have to say.

Cameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener,  The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.

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