Meet Philly's most hated band.
But the press did somehow find it, and Nevermind scored stellar reviews.
The Yale Herald gushed that Clockcleaner "seem intent on offending every demographic out there" after quoting the record's first line: "I saw your girlfriend leaving the abortion clinic the other day/ With another man." Two of the album's song titles are "Gentle Swastika" and "Missing Dick."
Dusted magazine fitted Clockcleaner with "Next Big Thing" status. Decibel sang Nevermind's praises. And Maximumrocknroll, still around after all these years, put them on the cover.
After Nevermind's beaming press, the search for a new bassist began.
They found Karen Horner, a longtime Philly bassist (formerly of Ready Set). Horner has big eyes and an infectious laugh, and is the only person in the history of music who's ever looked cool playing a six-string bass. She'd actually played a show with an earlier incarnation of Clockcleaner in a basement with another band.
"I just remember it was one of the first times I actually liked a band we played with because, you know, most bands you share a bill with usually suck."
She was the perfect fit.
Richmond, Va., is a city filled with anarchist punks who haven't showered in ages and have the dreads to prove it. There are also a lot of clean-cut college kids who pop their Polo collar. People drink until they go blind here.
Stay in Richmond long enough (an hour or more), and you're bound to run across something odd.
The odd something tonight happens to be the crowd that's gathered at a spot called Nara Sushi for a Clockcleaner performance. The band has never played Richmond before, and both crowd and Clockcleaner don't know what to expect.
A generous spread of sushi has been laid out for the band, and despite the suggestion that it might just be a clever ploy for the restaurant to get rid of all its on-the-verge-of-rotting fish, the musicians woof it down.
"If I puke while performing tonight because of this California roll, it'll just add to the show," says Sharkey, always the man with a plan.
Nara has a nice wooden deck. As it starts to fill, Clockcleaner get a good sense of who's making it out to the show tonight: i.e., Richmond's finest freaks.
After overhearing a couple conversations Charles starts to get an odd look about him. He wonders if Clockcleaner's bad-boy (and -girl) rep has followed them to the commonwealth's capitol.
"Sometimes we get some goon in the audience who's just there because he heard we start fights or pick on people or something," Richie almost whispers. "They've never heard the music but just think we're assholes, so they come to the show just to, I don't know, out-asshole us."
Charles insists he isn't complaining. On the contrary, if the person attempting to out-asshole the assholes does it well, it makes for a better show.
"I appreciate a good heckle," he says. And then, after assessing the patio once more, a sigh. "I just don't think, based on some of the conversations I've overheard tonight, that anyone here is going to offer much of a challenge."
Some of those conversations, in short, go as follows:
Talking Teen Wolf and penises with Man Man and Clockcleaner. Also, Hannah Montana.
Dinner with Luke Palladino