When I asked Rick Wilder what we could look forward to at the concert on Sunday night at Whiskey Richards by The Mau Maus, the L.A. punk rock band for which he is the frontman, he declared, “Punk rock insurrection meets nuclear horror show circus.”
And you know what? He was right!
The Mau Maus were a force of shock and awe back in the late 1970s, with wild performances at the Hollywood punk rock club The Masque and elsewhere around Los Angeles, and sometimes beyond. With various lineup changes but always Wilder at the helm, they somehow survived (as individuals and as a band) into the 1980s, ultimately recording a collection of songs in 1983 with ex-Doors guitarist Robby Krieger in the producer’s chair.
However, these tracks went unreleased until a little more than a month ago when the album Scorched Earth Policies: Then and Now came out, an instant classic that also includes new recordings by Wilder and the blazing band/“chaos machine” currently on tour: Michael Livingston on guitar, Scott “Chopper” Franklin on bass guitar, and Paul “Black” Mars on drums. (All except Livingston also played on the 1983 recordings.)
The Mau Maus’ music is old-school punk rock at its finest, with loud guitar, fast rhythms, snarling singing and song titles that would make your mother blush. And, as on the new album, they delivered the sound and fury of old-school punk rock in concert, to the delight of the small but enthusiastic and oft-moshing crowd at Whiskey Richards.
If there is justice in the musical universe, the recent album release and live performances will raise The Mau Maus’ 21st-century profile, bringing them into the punk rock pantheon where they belong, alongside the Sex Pistols, The Ramones, the Dead Kennedys, X, the Buzzcocks, etc.
Dead or Alive
Sex & The Single Sniper
Never Talk to Strangers
Joyride (To the End of the World)
Sex Girls in Uniform
Rectum of Nefertiti
All Fall Down
— Noozhawk contributing writer Jeff Moehlis is a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.