March 16, 2000

Tom Petty once said, "Rock can't die -- its design is flawless. All other pop music needs to be informed by it. It's based on a dream that can't die." NT answers with "it's just an opinion" and finds itself in the position of being the rock establishment that rock itself will change. Jon Landau slammed Jimi Hendrix in his first review in Rolling Stone; he didn't get it.

I still maintain the first review was mean-spirited. Hayden's Ferry has released more than 20 records, six of which have charted nationally. We have distribution in the U.S. and Europe and get radio airplay all over the world. We have been in the Valley for more than five years and have been passionate advocates for local music. So, when New Times finally decides to review a band's record and chooses the one it can slam hard, that taken in perspective with its years of silence is what feels negative and personal over here.

As one friend e-mailed me to say, "Same as it ever was..."

Just don't die now! After the m-f-ing death threats, if you do, they'll surely come looking to me as the kingpin. Somehow, Stuie the Bull just doesn't have that ring of terror.

Stu Baker, president
Hayden's Ferry Records

Thank you for your articles about the Surf Ballistics. In my opinion, there has never been enough negative press about the local music scene. I now live in Brooklyn, but I spent the past 12 years playing with bands in Tempe (two of the earliest tapes sent to New Times and received harsh reviews -- deservedly).

Ever since the demise of the Sun Club and the rapid sterilization of Mill Avenue, there's been a dearth of good local bands. I'm not saying the talent out there was ever spectacular, and I'm not denying my involvement in a little noise pollution, but let's face it, there's a problem when your magazine still has to write articles on Dead Hot Workshop, the Pistoleros, Satellite or the Beat Angels. Where are all the new, good bands? Even the brightest newer bands like Sonic Thrills, Vox Poppers and Sugar High are composed of aging Valley veterans.

So I felt a sense of vindication from your article. I've played on too many bills with the Surf Ballistics, and a hundred other crap factories like them. Whether it's a metal/rap hybrid or saccharine Hootie-inspired frat rock, I implore you to strap on a bulletproof vest and continue to batter some egos.

Jimmy Daggs
Brooklyn, New York

One of my major complaints with the now-defunct link magazine was that it was so dedicated to only saying good things about local bands. Because of this, its reviews meant jack shit to A&R reps and industry people. The magazine lost its credibility. Bands like the Surf Ballistics should appreciate it when people give honest feedback on their music. It should be viewed as constructive criticism! If my band's singer sucks, I want him to know it so that he'll work on it. I even go so far as to ask people to criticize our music -- but I phrase it like, "What do we need to focus on while we're practicing?" so they don't feel like total assholes. (Maybe the Surf Ballistics egos had been inflated by friends who didn't have the balls to be honest.)

So thank you for your honesty. I know that when you're doing a review of our band down the line, it will be sincere -- not sugar-coated.

By the way, Surf Ballistics deserve every word of criticism that you gave them.

Name withheld by request

Enjoyed Bob Mehr's humor about dishing out criticism. I used to live in Tempe until a year ago and I was involved in the local music scene as a fan as well as a band manager and booking agent. Mehr is a funny man! Reading his remarks about Robin Wilson, Steve Larson, Stephen Ashbrook and Roger Clyne gave me a good chuckle because I know all of them and I have to say the remarks were right on. Very witty. One of the few things I do miss about Tempe is the local music scene and all its characters. And, yes, Steve Larson can be scary!

His message to the Surf Ballistics was also right on, and more local bands need to be told that. Keep it up.

Cerise Wilson
via Internet

Parent Trap

This mom has always known that Buck Ellis is the best time-keep in the city ("Shout It Out," Brian Smith, March 2). His racket-hatchet big noise started at age 13 -- probably as a response to too much James Taylor in the home. Thanks to Brian Smith for spotlighting our local musicians who practice and perform based solely on their passion for the music.

Lindsay Ellis

Lock and Load

Read your well-written piece on the concealed-carry weapons course ("Hollow Points," David Holthouse, March 2). As an instructor, it is very rare that I find someone who cannot handle a gun well. The usual cause for it is that they have chosen the wrong defensive tool for the job. If that is the case, I take the student to the range and have them rent guns until they find the right one.

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