Associated Entries: Athletic Automaton
Providence, RI based AOR were formed in the mid 90s and their first show was being an opening act for Marylin Manson in a local club. They were chased by angry audience members after the show, but despite this they went on to have a fairly lengthy career, with most of their records released by Skin Graft and Three One G labels. They even got some post-humous treatment in the form of “Sunshine And Shady People” DVD, which came out on Three One G in 2008. They are also seen as a strong influence on such bands as Locust and Lightning Bolt.
According to Perfect Sound Forever website, band’s beginning were rather unusual – they did not know each other, didn’t know how to play instruments and had no music experience whatsoever. Members of the band met while applying for the same job at a submarine manufacturing company in Connecticut. None of them got the job and following a discussion at the bar, AOR was born.
Initially, the band consisted of Eric Paul, Jeff Schneider, Stephen Mattos, Andrea Fisset and Craig Kureck. However, band members opted not to use their real names and used monikers instead – Paul became Mr. PTSD / Mr. Pottymouth, Schneider became Mr. Clinical Depression, Mattos became Mr. OCD, while Fisset didn’t get a nickname.
Musically, they were compared with (inspired by) bands like Contortions, Six Fingers Satellite, Butthole Surfers, US Maple, Sonic Youth, Captain Beefheart and early Public Image Limited, with their sound based on distorted bass grooves and twin attack of guitars.
Their first album was 1997 “Queen Hygiene ||”, which came out on Providence label Herrepin Records. The album later was reissued, both separately and along with the band’s out-of-print record “Rough Day At The Orifice”. In their review of the album All Music Guide stated that “Queen Hygiene is still (relatively) more “traditional,” in a rock sense” than the subsequent Rough Day, with Fiset’s fuzz-bass adding a melodic and rhythmic foundation that is missing on that album”.
“Rough Day At The Orifice” came out on Boston-based label OpPoPop and according to PSF, had “Some good tracks but ultimately suffered from not having as many good ideas on it as Queen Hygiene II.” Popmatters website noted that”Rough Day…” Rough Day at the Orifice “sounds nothing short of a constant air raid siren. While AOR persistence is noteworthy, it’s too bad it comes with a lack of imagination.” Andrea Fisset left the band after they recorded “Rough Day”, leaving them without bass player, but the band decided to march on, nonetheless.
In 1999, they signed with Skin Graft at the insistence of Weasel Walter (Flying Luttenbachers) and the label eventually released “Soak The Saddle”, their third full-length. The album was described by AMG as being “experimental art punk with a large set of balls that have been kicked an uncountable number of times”, and they pointed out that “it’s messy and discordant, but falls into discernible lines of rock just enough to make some overactive scissor-style punk rock.”
Their final record also came out on Skin Graft – 2001 “Yahweh Or The Highway” was described by AMG “as the sonic equivalent of an orgasm between flesh and metal.” and they noted that “The band takes listeners for a psychotic ride in their circus car where other passengers are live-action versions of John Wayne Gacy’s clown paintings . This is not for the faint of heart or bowel.” In 2002, they recorded a split with fellow Swedish band Kid Commando.
After the band demise, three new bands were created – Athlethic Automaton (which includes Steve Mattos), Made In Mexico (which includes Jeff Schneider) and Chinese Stars (which includes Eric Paul and Craig Kureck). All of them also released their records on Skin Graft and AA and MiM also recorded a split with one another in 2004.
Queen Hygiene || (Herrepin, 1997)
Rough Day At The Orifice (OpPoPop, 1998)
Soak The Saddle LP / CD (Skin Graft, 2000)
Arab On Radar / Locust Split 7″ (Gold Standard Laboratories, 2000)
Yahweh Or The Highway LP / CD (Skin Graft, 2001)
Arab On Radar / Kid Commando Split 7″ (iDEAL Recordings, 2002)
Queen Hygiene || / Rough Day At The Orifice CD (Three One G, 2003)
The Stolen Singles CD (Three One G, 2003)
Photo credits: Shawn Brackbill
Videos: My Mind Is a Muffler (Live)