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Mighty Sphincter On Alice Cooper, Phoenix's Punk Past, and The Future

Mighty Sphincter On Alice Cooper, Phoenix's Punk Past, and The Future

2012 is looking to be a comeback year for infamous Phoenix-born "deathrock" combo The Mighty Sphincter.

The mythic band -- part of the same Placebo Records scene that birthed JFA, International Language, and many, many more -- has always been lead by songwriter Doug Clark, and he says that this year should see a flurry of Sphincter activity, courtesy of mostly-hardcore label A839 and Germany label Cathedral Records, including a new record and a couple reissues.

Fans looking to hear a taste of the new material needn't wait long: Doug Clark is scheduled to perform an acoustic set tonight at Rips Ales and Cocktails.

Read on for our discussion about Alice Cooper, the early Phoenix punk scene, and the future of Mighty Sphincter.

Up on the Sun: Long story short, or long story long, however you'd like to tell it, why don't you tell me what Mighty Sphincter has been up to the past couple of years?

Doug Clark: In the last two years we got picked up by A389 Records, and have released a 7 inch single called "Resurrection" and on the flip-side of that is an acoustic remake of a song called "Inferno of Joy," and the lead singer of Integrity sings on that. He's been a longtime fan of Mighty Spchincter. We just released a German import DVD of some of our historic videos, and it comes with a 15 page booklet. That's on Cathedral Music.

The video features classic performances from Phoenix, right?

Yeah, yeah, there's live cuts from the original band with Ron Reckless singing at Knights of Pythias, a night that we played with 45 Grave. Then there's a Halloween show with the Kingdom of Heaven lineup. That was the night we played with Flotsam and Jetsam. That was Jason's last show before he joined Metallica. And there's some cool stuff from a pretty historic place: The Patio.

How about new material?

I just finished a full length acoustic album, and that's what I'm going to be performing Friday night at Rip's. The rest of the band, we have a new drummer and bass player, lives in Salem, Oregon. Right now I'm in town finishing up the acoustic album and getting ready to head back to Salem to finish up our first full length 12-inch vinyl since the '80s. In April A389 is re releasing our last two CDs on vinyl, Rest in Peace New Orleans, which came out in 2006, and Holy Unholy, which came out in 1999. It's a double album. Almost 70 minutes of music.

 

That's a lot of stuff coming up for the band.

We've had a lot of offers to play Europe. So when I get back to Salem we'll be rehearsing a lot and playing out at the end of the summer and getting ready for Europe. Our biggest following is in Germany, and we have a lot of fans in the Netherlands and France.

People seem interested in the old-school Phoenix scene in those places?

The first two punk bands in Arizona were The Exterminators and The Consumers. My brother was the lead singer of The Exterminators, and Don Bolles from 45 Grave, The Germs, Pansy Space People, was the drummer.

So there's reissues of that stuff by Cathedral Music, as well. I'm gathering up all these early recordings to be later re-released by those guys. Some of it is being released for the first time ever.

Then of course there's The New Manson Family record, which states "Produced By Alice Cooper."

Over the years, there's been so much controversy on that topic. I have to say, it was a brilliant marketing plan by Tony Victor, the head of Placebo Records. Every strategy he came up with for getting attention to Mighty Sphincter worked perfectly.

Did Cooper every actually hear it?

I grew up in the same neighborhood as Alice Cooper. I have always been right on the outskirts of his...I have a friend that had a photograph of me autographed by Alice. He sat down with him and said, "I love that band. I cant' really come out and say it, but tell Doug I said hi." He loved Mighty Sphincter.

You seemed to like rock 'n' roll, too, at a time when punk sort of shunned that thing. There was a romantic rock element to what you did.

You know, honestly, I first started doing punk rock in '76. It was shocking to Phoenix, Arizona. They thought we would start riots, and we would play in biker bars. The people that liked us said, "Wow, you guys should be on The Gong Show or stuff like that. We just shocked people and started fights.

But by the time punk rock had caught on in Phoenix, I had already moved on to playing fusion metal...we just loved stirring stuff up. We attacked the punk scene. We dressed up like ghoulish bag ladies and we played faster than the hardcore metal bands. We played with GBH or something like that, or Subhumans, and they would just be freaked out, because we'd be out there dressed up like scary women playing faster and harder than they were.

The Mighty Sphincter is scheduled to perform tonight at Rips Ales and Cocktails.

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Rips Ales & Cocktails

3045 N. 16th St.
Phoenix, AZ 85016

602-266-0015

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