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‘Martin’ Spokane’s Best Worst Band Of 1997 - And That’s A Compliment

With a band name as clever and zany as Martin Vs. His Big Ass, who would have thought the actual band would be any good?

Well, not exactly good. Yet it is.

Let me explain.

Martin Vs. His Big Ass, by name alone, lured me to show up at Ichabod’s North early last Friday. The band was opening for Boycott and the Distributors. I must admit, I expected the band to be awful. But in a bad way.

No, Martin Vs. His Big Ass, which dawned Spokane Transit Authority mechanics jumpsuits, was awful in a good way. They sucked and that’s why they were brilliant.

Throughout their 40-minute display, the band did a hatchet job on various songs such as Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun” and Camper Van Beethoven’s rendering of “Pictures of Match Stick Men.”

At one point Martin band members - guitarist-vocalist Kevin Mileson, bassist-vocalist Derrick King and drummer-vocalist Martin Faulk - switched instruments. King took a seat behind the drums and Faulk picked up the a saxophone.

In this configuration, the band made an utter mess of the Surfaris’ “Pipeline,” a song that’s punctuated by ripping drum solos. So what did Martin Vs. His Big Ass do? They enlisted the one guy in the band (King) who can’t play drums to shred on the skins.

King definitely didn’t gain any worshippers with his lousy technique. But he sure stirred up some laughter.

For the grand finale, Martin Vs. His Big Ass enlisted part-time vocalist Sir Naked Blade to bring their set to a climactic finish with an obscure cover - the Mummies’ “You Must Fight to Live on the Planet of the Apes.”

As you can see by the title, the song was a perfect fit for the band’s off-kilter jests.

Don’t get me wrong, the members of Martin Vs. His Big Ass (whose name was inspired by Faulk’s portly hind quarters) aren’t striving to be virtuosos. They’re just having fun while simultaneously laughing at themselves.

I can be a real sucker for gimmicks - good ones, though. But this band, whose only schtick is gimmickry, actually makes watching live rock in this town fun again. What a novel idea - having fun at a rock show.

That’s why they get my vote as Spokane’s best worst band of 1997. And that’s not a slight. I’m glad they exist. Do yourself a favor, scoot your butt to the band’s next show. Stay tuned to Nightwatch for details.

Cocked and loaded

L.A. Guns, the veteran pop-metal unit from Los Angeles, is shelling audiences with a new-and-improved sound.

The band, which plays Outback Jack’s on Wednesday, has stepped up its aural fire-power adding an arsenal of bruising riffs to the mix.

No longer is the foursome a purveyor of doltish whimp-rock as indicated on its sonically punishing sixth album “American Hardcore.”

With a new sound comes two new members - vocalist Chris Van Dahl and bassist Johnny Crypt - as well as a slightly new name.

From now on, the band won’t be referred to as L.A. Guns but as The L.A. Guns. Whoopee.

Of course, at the core of The are co-founders guitarist Tracii Guns and drummer Steve Riley. When the two first formed the band, Guns was known for his role in Guns ‘n’ Roses and Riley had played in W.A.S.P. According to Gun, if anything, their association with their previous bands inhibited The L.A. Guns.

“We’ve always felt like the forgotten cousin,” Guns says in the band’s press materials. “When I was in Gun ‘n’ Roses and Steve was in W.A.S.P., we were used to being the talked-about favorite sons. Then we put our band together and everyone acts as if we’re just a bunch of alsorans. The truth is, we’ve maintained our level of success all along, while a lot of those other L.A. bands haven’t.”

The L.A. Guns originated in the late ‘80s. The band garnered a hit on their second album “Cocked and Loaded” with the power ballad “The Ballad of Jane.” On the strength of that song alone, the band’s sophomore album struck platinum.

They haven’t come close to equaling that pinnacle.

Today, the band records for CMC International - the last refuge for many of the ‘80s and early ‘90s rockers. In recent years, the label has issued releases by Slaughter and Dee Snider’s band Widowmaker.

Opening bands were not made available at press time. Showtime’s at 9:30 p.m. The cover is $6.

Other shows this week

Seattle’s Shoveljerk returns to its old stomping grounds to play the Northern corner tonight. Local rock band Flourish opens. The cover is $4. Bring your ID.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo