Like any other cold-blooded, lizard-brained American Hero, when I first got an email about reviewing the new album from Des Moines most decorated children’s choir, Quick Piss, I said yes immediately without giving it a second thought.
At the time I was chilling down by the library on a breezy afternoon on my first day off of work since 80/35 but, again because I’m a fucking patriot, I dropped what I was doing and drove home immediately and cranked that shit loud and proud for all my esteemed Waveland Park neighbors as if it was just second nature.
But as soon as the speakers started blaring I found myself totally disoriented, and not in the way that I usually get disoriented when I’m jammin’ out to these kiddos. I couldn’t figure it out and I was starting to worry that it meant that the album wasn’t “good” but then, by the awful and miraculous grace of God, “666 UPSIDE DOWN CRUCIFIX” came on and it all sort of clicked. I figured it out. The reason I was so disoriented was that the album I was listening to actually sounded like music.
One of the maddeningly difficult aspects about writing about music, for me at least, is that I don’t know anything about music. I don’t know shit about bass lines and key changes and time signatures and I sure as fuck can’t keep a beat. I know the difference between a drum and a guitar, but aside from that I am clueless.
Trying to fake my way across that vast chasm of knowledge has been easier that I thought it would be but it’s forced me to adopt a writing style that lends itself to narcissistically self-absorbed introspection and uselessly obscure digressions (see above, below).
This navel-gazing is something I’ve been trying to get away from recently, and that is why trying to put my listening experience of the Quick Piss album into words seemed so challenging at first. It would probably have been more honest for me to pen some manifesto about how this album speaks to the historic dichotomy between the earnestly campy pop parody that was disco and the incoherently transgressive pop protest that was punk and how that dichotomy is still maddeningly relevant to our daily lives here in the era of Donald Trump and Hamilton.
Alternatively, it might have been more therapeutic for me to regurgitate some candid confessions about the inherent joy of alcohol abuse and the easy comfort of dispassionate reclusiveness and the ennobling struggle of boundless optimism and figure out a way to shoehorn my love of messy, DIY music into an exploration of those topics.
Those rabbit holes would have been fun for me to dive into but now that I’m unquestionably in my mid-20’s, I’m capable of acknowledging that it likely wouldn’t have been very much fun for you, the reader. And that’s why when I set out to listen to ROCK ‘N’ ROLL IMPOTENCE, I wanted to get away from those lazy, instinctive responses and try to write something real.
Which brings me back to the source of the disorientation. This Quick Piss album represented for me a challenge in that I was totally unprepared to integrate the fact that they played songs and made music into my mind’s image of what their band was and did.
They existed in my mind solely as theme, metaphor, landmark, and sacrament. They were chaos and catharsis, nothing more. A totem of sorts that speaks to my love of this city and it’s music and the freedom those things gave me to let go of some of the things that had been haunting me. But not musicians, not people who would ever go and record an album. That had never really occurred to me.
The summer after my only friend, Scott, moved away from Des Moines was rough stuff for me, emotionally-wise, and as such, the day that the 80/35 line-up came out that spring was a big deal. We called each other and dished and gossiped and plotted and schemed and that afternoon stands out as a shining beacon of happiness in an otherwise bleak-ass couple of months. One of the first things he said to me was “whatever the fuck Quick Piss is, we’re seeing them.” Of course we did, and that experience, that “whatever that was,” became a watershed moment for me..
Seeing those little tykes rip shit up right in the middle of Tenth Street at fucking noon on the Fourth of July clarified and solidified my love of this fair Moines we call Des while at the same time sparking a flame (the flame here representing my interest in and affection for music made by my neighbors) that would be fanned by other bands that weekend and on weekends and weekdays to come and eventually that flame would grow and grow and consume many of my other concerns until I reached the point where, if I had been stopped by some stranger walking down the street and they had asked me for my opinion on the Des Moines music scene, I would have had no other choice than to respond “it’s lit.”
Nothing that weekend, obviously, could possibly compare to Quick Piss’s LEGENDARY farewell show last year when one (or more, not really sure, doesn’t really matter) of their angel-faced choristers bid our fair city adieu so that they could attend college or something.
That show, and in particular their closing set, and even more especially their final for-lack-of-a-better-word-“song”. That show, tho. And like, the other ones before and after that one too also. But that show, tho. Man. That was a show. Whatever the fuck happened on the stage was so vital and unnecessary and life-affirming that I don’t think I’ll ever remember any of the details about that night clearly enough to put into words.
For all of these reasons and more it is with great dismay that I must admit that I can’t simply sit here and write you a couple of comfortable-ass paragraphs about why these chords on this song remind me of Minor Threat while those other chords on that other song remind me of “Spanish Bombs.”
I can’t spin you some harebrained polemic about how living and breathing in America in 2016 is an inherently satirical act anymore than I can wax nostalgic about the time in my life when I was still drunk enough most of the time to think that writing prose like this was clever. I refuse to regale you with charming anecdotes about all the dark moments of impotent rage and strategic self-pity in my life that make this album so relatable and infuriating and I don’t think it’d be very wise to rant to you about why I’m voting for Hillary or how I wish I hadn’t quit drinking.
I’m not going to talk about how Quick Piss seems both obvious and miraculous in this bleakly funny moment in our national history nor will I share with you any of my (many, many) reasons why I think this album would be better titled The Timmy Timmy Timmy Turner Diaries.
I’m not going to do any of that bullshit. I can’t, I won’t, I shain’t. It just wouldn’t be worthy of a force of nature like Quick Piss. It just wouldn’t do justice to the sharknado of righteous, youthful indignation and convincingly rehearsed apathy that is this Piss we all lovingly call Quick.
They deserve more than a recitation of their accomplishments or a consideration of their lyrics. They deserve a statue, some kind of monument maybe. It could be the centerpiece of a fountain or maybe just in the corner of a park somewhere. It wouldn’t have to be big or gawdy, that doesn’t really seem like it’s their vibe. No, it could be small. Small and kinda unassuming, but once you notice it and really start paying attention it should offend your deepest and most reverently observed values. It should be shocking and profane and just filthy.
I’m not sure what it would look like, maybe something grotesque maybe something more Lynchian. I don’t know, I’m just spit-balling here. But know that if it ever happens I’ll save you a seat right next to me so that we can throw cigarette butts at it all day long.
Quick Piss will celebrate the release of their debut album, ROCK ‘N’ ROLL IMPOTENCE, with a double-header of shows at the Vaudeville Mews on September 2. More information available here.