Falling James Lives
May 17, 2009 8:59 PM   Subscribe

In 1980 you begin one of the great unsung pre-grunge punk bands of all time; you dress in drag, run for president, and appear on Jerry Springer; The Bangles write a song about you in 1984; you get married to Courtney Love in 1989 (pre-Kurt) and produce Hole's first record; in 1987 your band releases a sloppy seminal masterpiece with a memorable title, and the label (SST) has a display contest for stores; you write for the LA Weekly; you're Falling James Moreland of the Leaving Trains, legend of the L.A. underground music scene.
posted by ornate insect (20 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I like his presidential platform. 2 work days and 5 day weekends. He comes across very smart on Springer. Interesting guy. Thanks for posting.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:09 PM on May 17, 2009

You're puzzled for a moment by the syntax, but soon come to appreciate the irony of this clever application of second person, present tense.

It is pitch black.
posted by rokusan at 9:16 PM on May 17, 2009

You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. Harsh realm.
posted by Kinbote at 9:21 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

Harsh realm.

Kinbote, I think you might appreciate this site. Or, at the very least, its title.
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:08 PM on May 17, 2009

Favorited for telling me the backstory of this great Bangles song.
posted by escabeche at 10:11 PM on May 17, 2009

I was hoping I would hear anecdotes from some Leaving Trains fans. I got their first few records when they came out in the late 1980s and they still sound good.

Imagine the Gun Club (who were part of the same scene a the Leaving Trains) meets the Ramones playing the Replacements covering Exile-era Stones and you'll have some idea. Fwiw, I think the Leaving Trains and the Wipers had a big influence on Nirvana.
posted by ornate insect at 10:17 PM on May 17, 2009

Fwiw, I think the Leaving Trains and the Wipers had a big influence on Nirvana.

I don't know about the Trains, but Cobain was vocal about his appreciation for the Wipers. Nirvana covered their songs in concert fairly regularly.
posted by Rangeboy at 10:33 PM on May 17, 2009

Falling James in the Tahoe mud
Stick around to tell us all the tale
Well he fell in love with a Gun Street girl
And now he's dancing in the Birmingham jail
Dancing in the Birmingham jail...

posted by scody at 11:03 PM on May 17, 2009

good catch scody:

1986 was the year that the New York Times' influential music critic Robert Palmer named KILL TUNES as one of his Top 10 releases, and around the time when Tom Waits declared in the British music press that the Pogues and the Leaving Trains were his two favorite new bands. Waits even namedropped Falling James in the first line of the shaggy-dog yarn "Gun Street Girl," from his "Rain Dogs" album, so James jokingly responded by singing "waiting for Tom Waits to finish the sequel" during "How Can I Explode?" on the Trains' next album, FUCK.
posted by ornate insect at 11:08 PM on May 17, 2009

Whatever mental image sloppy seminal masterpiece is supposed to evoke in me is not one I care to dwell upon.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:17 PM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

I did?

Man, I don't remember any of that.
posted by Flunkie at 4:48 AM on May 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wow I completely forgot about the Leaving Trains. They were one of those bands that were used as a metric of 'indie' awesomeness when 'indie' meant something.
posted by spicynuts at 5:40 AM on May 18, 2009

You are likely to be eaten by a grue...
posted by Naberius at 6:12 AM on May 18, 2009

Leaving Trains were one of the greatest rock bands ever. And Melanie Vammen, damn, she was the toughest bitch to ever mangle a guitar. Best show at the Lizard and Snake period.
posted by 3.2.3 at 8:59 AM on May 18, 2009

I've been giving them a listen. I really wish I'd heard them more in the relevant time frame, when the pioneering nature of their work was something I could experience more viscerally. I apologize for my earlier smartass remark, your post didn't deserve it.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:28 PM on May 18, 2009

I apologize for my earlier smartass remark, your post didn't deserve it.

No apologies necessary; I thought it was funny.

when the pioneering nature of their work

I don't want to give the impression that they were more pioneering than they were; in some ways they were not a "pioneering" band at all; I think what's more important (to me anyway) is that they were a good and unfortunately mostly forgotten rock band that bridged a number of influences. They sound like a missing link between the Ramones and the Guns and Roses.

Each of the great '80s SST bands--Black Flag, Minutemen, Meat Puppets, Husker Du, Saccharine Trust, Leaving Trains--had a distinct sound.

In a way, the Leaving Trains were the most conventional of all of these. But the LT song-writing was strong in my opinion, and they shared with the Gun Club (and the Cramps) a particular way of re-invigorating blues-based rock. On FUCK they cover an Iggy Pop tune ("The Horse Song") from his record Zombie Birdhouse, and that's a great, overlooked Iggy record that sort of matches the style of LT. Falling James also worked with the band Green on Red from Tucson. That desert thing is in their sound too somewhere.

posted by ornate insect at 1:56 PM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oops. the Guns and Roses. No "the" necessary.
posted by ornate insect at 1:59 PM on May 18, 2009

Fun post - thanks. The Springer show was pretty funny.
posted by dog food sugar at 5:37 AM on May 19, 2009

I saw Leaving Trains play in the early 90s -- [checks impossibly nerdy database] -- yeah, I saw them in 1991 and 1995; I guess two different versions of the band per the FPP links. I think my young brain was insufficently developed to fully get them; I do recall though that all the very very cool people in town thought they were The Shit.

And I really liked that first Hole album, though it seems like nobody else did.

slut kiss girl
won't you promise her smack
is she pretty on the inside
is she pretty FROM THE BACK

[guitar squeals and roars]

Oh and the first album by The Muffs (with Melanie Vammen on second guitar) is one of the most perfect things ever.

So I guess all that make me a wuss.
posted by intermod at 8:36 PM on May 19, 2009

I mean, I know it's all just bar chords, but damn it sure is fun.
posted by intermod at 8:42 PM on May 19, 2009

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