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Digging the Undead: Reanimating The Corpsemen
By Edgar Zwacker, independent rock writer/impressario


I don’t have to tell you it’s goddamn impossible to discover anything new in the year of our anti-Lord, 2012. I’m not just talking about Columbus-style, “Oh what have we found here? A new world yet with red-skinned natives we won’t give credit to when it comes time to handing out the gold!” But mainly, music,, which is what I live for, write about, ponder over, and generally waste every last second succumbing to.

So when a friend of a friend of an acquaintance hands you a beat up, dirty, sticky cassette tape, allegedly found between the seat cushions of a 1978 Chevy Nova after somebody spilled their Dr. Pepper on it (conjecture, I’m not sure what kind of soda it was, maybe bong water, who knows), with a hand drawn logo on it that reads “The Corpsemen,” with four skulls, and says “You gotta listen to this, dude,” well, you do what any self-respecting rock critic does and jam it in your fritzed out Panasonic dual AM/FM CD/Cassette player before it gets fully dinosaured by the binary code of mp3dom -- and turn it way, way up.

It turns out this eponymously titled debut (and end, since The Corpsemen did not last past these 4 songs, at least none that I can find), is a pretty decent summary of what it was like to be a high school outsider in the late 70s. Which was before my time but not too different from my time or your time either, because let’s face it, if you half a medulla in your head this business of institutionalized learning that we call “high school” hasn’t changed since Henry Ford hit the switch, America went industrialized, and we needed to train a bunch of middle managers and factory workers to keep the Hostess cupcakes coming off the assembly lines.

The sound is classic trashy American garage rock, like most punk bands of that time. A swipe at the commoditization of rock and roll that spilled from the packaged “hippie culture” of the 60s to hack bands like Kansas and Journey and Styx of the 70s. And let’s not forget disco…oh, all right, let’s.

I get the feeling these guys listening to the Ramones and the Runaways by way of the Delfonics. They sound like they were their own best friends, or at least tolerated each other to record this cassette, because it’s a somewhat nihilistic noise bleed from the shadows of your local 7-11 – they don’t want girlfriends, cars, jobs – they just want to make “electric noise” and take your mom to the high school prom. Who doesn’t relate to that? From any so-called “music era?”

So I guess my question is, how did this band, the knowledge of which has been zero and zilch until the discovery of this sticky chemical- covered cassette, wind up being portrayed in the novel “AMERICAN GHOUL” by Walt Morton?

I mean, “AMERICAN GHOUL” is a novel, which last I checked, means “fiction”, which means the band “The Corpsemen” and the members of aforementioned band Sebastian Jones (singer/guitarist), Howard Pickman (bass), Dwayne Garcia (drums) and Gerald Spaznek (not sure what Gerald plays, thinks its some of the strange noises so I guess synthesizer) are not flesh and blood creatures who actually walked the earth but are characters of the imagination dreamt up by author Morton.

Listen, the world is so screwed up now with anonymous internet posts and CIA directors with fake gmail accounts for their mistresses, for all I know The Ramones didn’t exist either and punk rock was a figment of James Newell Osterberg Jr’s imagination.

To go one step farther over the cliff, what if Walt Morton is fictional character as well? Or this “novel” is actually an account of what really happened in 1978? What if there’s a ghoul sitting right next to you on the subway, right now? How could you tell? You couldn’t!

So screw fiction and nonfiction, truth and make believe, the buddhists are right in that we’re all just energy fields anyway, this concept of “personality” and “identity” are just cover-ups for the scientific fact that we’re bags of skin with a lot of atoms whizzing around. So long as this cassette is still (barely) operable, I’m going to transfer its contents to the obligatory 1’s and 0’s and get The Corpsemen music out there anyway. Maybe you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. Or think I did. If I exist. You get the picture…

Edgar Zwacker
39th and 8th (maybe)
NYC