By Benjamin Leatherman
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Troy Farah
By Roger Calamaio
By Mark Deming
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Brian Palmer
"It's all a little adulterated," he says. "It seems like everybody jumps on what's popular. A year and a half ago, there was nothing but a bunch of hippies walking up and down Mill Avenue. Now everyone's wearing dog collars and has their hair pulled back, which is wonderful. But I want to say, 'Hey dude, do you know where this stuff comes from? Do you know what it's really about?'"
To that end, Jackson's decided to give history lessons to the growing legions of Johnny Rotten-come-latelys. Jackson's classroom is Buzz Clips, a locally produced cable-TV show that runs videos of old-time punk acts. Jackson hosts the show. As such, he comes off as a kind of Casey Kasem of punk. It's a well-produced program by cable-access standards. Jackson, looking like he means business, introduces each video with a short, no-nonsense bio of the bands and a brief explanation of why they're so cool. He then gives way to clips from the usual suspects--the Clash, Blondie, the Buzzcocks--along with underrated acts like the Stranglers, the Undertones and Jackson's personal fave, Chelsea. Occasionally, a clunker will slip through (Toy Dolls come nauseatingly to mind), and the punk tension is sometimes broken by a brief, inexplicable but quite noticeable transition shot of local exotic dancers posing poolside. But the focus of the show is the videos, most of which are from Jackson's personal collection.
"It's been on for a couple of months and we haven't had one negative reaction yet," Jackson says of the half-hour broadcast, which airs Friday mornings at 1:30. "We got 26 phone calls the last time it was on. And that's even though it's on so late at night."
Jackson co-produces Buzz Clips with Peter Tessensohn, a longtime local presence who once played in town with the increasingly legendary X-Streams back in the early Eighties. Tessensohn knows his way around TV control rooms. He also knows about recording studios; he's got a financial interest in the locally popular ABC Studios, through which he and Jackson are trying to build up Skintone Records, a fledgling local label concentrating on new sounds of old punk.
Tessensohn and Jackson have big plans for Skintone. And Jackson's talking about trying to syndicate Buzz Clips nationally. Jackson figures the audience is there for both projects, what with punk's recent resurgence.
That revived interest in the more adventurous sounds of the Seventies is also helping push the Beat Angels, another of Jackson's endeavors. The Angels, led by prancing, energetic front man Brian Smith, play a mix of trash, punk and glam that's more poppy and showy than Glass Heroes' fare. Jackson became a Beat Angel not long after the original lineup began playing out.
"I met 'em at the Mason Jar," Jackson says of the Angels. "I'd seen 'em at Heroes shows many times, and they looked like the kids I knew back East. They approached me because they were looking for a guitarist who had the 'glory rock' sound, as I call it."
Jackson's input with the Angels is obvious. You can hear it when he lets loose with an "oi, oi, oi" background vocal chant, and it's especially evident every time his "glory rock" guitar chords punctuate a chorus.
"At first they wanted me to turn the distortion off," Jackson says with a smile. "It didn't match and mix. But we kept playing, and I started putting different Chelsea licks in there and it came around."
The Beat Angels' sound has come around enough to merit a couple of showcase gigs in L.A., including one two weeks ago at the Coconut Teaser. And the Glass Heroes are on a roll, too. They're getting worldwide attention by way of a European compilation, High Voltage: Punk and Oi!, that features the Heroes along with retro-punk bands from Sweden, Switzerland, Germany and Spain. The CD came out three months ago, and Jackson says the response has been tremendous.
"It's just amazing what that compilation's done for us," he says. "The mail's just pouring in from all over Europe. We've got labels calling from over there, fanzines calling. I wish a lot of bands in town could get on a European compilation. Especially one with worldwide distribution, which is so important."
Jackson also wishes more local bands had the chance to tour as extensively as Jackson did in Shock Therapy's heyday.
"It changes you," he says. "It makes you aware that there's so much more out there. So many people to reach. I miss being on the road. I'm not very good at sitting in one spot and doing what I'm doing right now. I'm not made for this. I get fat and lazy."
Jackson thinks the local music "scene" is in danger of putting on similar flab. He figures things are relatively healthy for now. He notes that it's cheap for struggling bands to live here, and he also points out that there's live music in local clubs every night of the week. "That's unheard of in a lot of places in the U.S.," he says. "The venues here are less than adequate at times, but it's still a place where you can play live."