Another Shot of Hate Vaccine: Wet Paint

Everyone has their own idea of what “punk rock” means, and no one definition fully corresponds with another. Here’s a guy who thinks of punk as a social revolution, first flowering with Crass or some such, and perfected at ABC No Rio or somewhere on Gilman Street. Over here, we have a teenage mallrat that deigns to call skate-sponsored poseurs with jackass haircuts by that same term. Over here, we have someone whose definition comes closest to mine, as a catchall term for the exposed viscera of snot-caked, anxiety-riddled, uncouth youth, or as I once put it in a review many years ago, “the musical equivalent of a pile of twitching nerves”.

It’s safe to assume that never the twain shall meet, and that’s fine. The term is basically meaningless, and thus anyone who cares enough to have an opinion will forever use punk as a container into which one puts their own hopes and dreams, however idealistic and/or ill-advised. I personally don’t think any of us are wrong. To wit: when I interviewed no less a “punk icon” than Ian MacKaye during a moment of punk doubt on my part, he said that “punk rock is just a euphemism for human beings”. Wise man, that guy.

In my version of punk (which is dependent on neither era nor sound, but was nonetheless best realized roughly between the dawn of the Sexual Revolution and the final throes of Vietnam/post-hippie burnout), the recurrent theme is a certain immersion in, or at least acknowledgment of, ennui and hopelessness. There’s a hurt, nihilistic, eternally teenage black hole which sucks in the work of the Stooges, Chocolate Watchband, Figures Of Light, Sonics, Electric Eels, Church Mice, Memphis Goons, and the early Destroy All Monsters, among scores of others, fueled by myriad antagonists (bullies/sex/school/work/existential torment/collegiate jackasses/anxiety/the draft/what have you) from which said outcast freaks need cathartic release, or at least an outlet through which to grouse. This eternal sound of piss and shaking defies intellectualization (despite the best efforts of dorks like myself) and full-on commodification, though it also isn’t on enough of a high horse to turn down a fat check offered in exchange for an aged cup of hot jizz masquerading as “music” (remember when the Cramps’ sublime “New Kind Of Kick” was in a soda/jeans/something commercial in the late ’90s, and it still sounded better than anything on the radio despite the blatant sellout?).

This kind of punk is satisfying to its adherents, I think, because those of the certain temperament (read: cynical, bullied through school, guarded, given to anxiety/depression) that makes this sound and attitude initially attractive will suffer echoes of their youth-born hard feelings toward square society, however childish/churlish, sporadically (if not consistently!) throughout their entire life. To hear these sort of petulant sentiments voiced in a fashion that echoes the respondents’ own kneejerk response can actually be a balm for the soul, a reminder that your absurd-but-painful condition is hardly unique, and probably not really that bad. Counter-intuitive as it sounds, there’s a sort of kinship in misanthropy.

That is why this apparently unissued 45 by Detroit area (I think?) anonymous garage dwellers Wet Paint is such an exciting find. Granted, any lost chip off of the endless ‘60s garage rock and roll mosaic is an exciting discovery if it doesn’t suck, and sometimes even if it does, but this one exemplifies the aesthetic/feeling outlined above, and sounds really cool in doing so.

It photographs better than it looks in real life. It’s a pretty f’ed copy.

Both sides here slay, defiant of decades of visibly/audibly poor care taken with the vinyl, but “Die With My TV On” is the obvious winner, at least in terms of moroseness. The love/hate relationship with the ol’ idiot box is perennial punk subject matter: my own first high school band, Retrograde Lobotomy (I know, I know), only recorded one song entitled “Our Nation’s Other Opiate”, in which I alternately mocked and conceded doleful submission to the wiles of TV (particularly the show Boy Meets World). It’s a pretty shitty song (sorry ex-bandmates, but hey, I wrote it), but it’s about as punk as they come. “Die With My TV On” is a secret prototype for this oft-rewritten plaint, and nearly matches The Stooges’ own ventures into same. NEARLY.

I know nothing about Wet Paint. I suspect nobody really does, save any surviving band members (who, if they’re reading this, should contact me ASAP: queries AT fmdust DOT com). I can’t decide if this makes it better or worse, but if somebody had some info, I know I’d take it. As I insinuated earlier, this copy is pretty decimated… it’s got what looks like mildew on the label, so I’ve been keeping it in a separate ghetto from the rest of my records, to keep them safe. I can’t imagine anything more appropriate for such a bile-spewing gnar-platter… my other records need to be protected from it!

Up to now, I’ve kept this record as my little secret. Punks like me like having our secrets, because we HATE feeling like our chunks of hope have gotten into the hands of the halfwit palookas who made us seek solace in the first place (ie. Raw Power, though I never had much of a connection with that slab in the first place… but I digress), affording those cheesedick assholes the opportunity to make these crucial hate vaccines into video game soundtracks or whatever. Given that, I’m taking a devil of chance by sharing this in a public forum, but luckily, I’m not a teenager anymore and can (probably) take it.

Download mp3s here.

Dustin Krcatovich is a cartoonist, writer, designer, founder of FM DUST, and a collector of certain curios and ephemera (with a focus on 20th century "junk culture"). His writing and illustration work appears frequently in The Quietus, Tiny Mix Tapes, and Esquire's Culture Blog. He is also a former editor and contributor to Secret Zen Garden,Saagara's illustrated mindfulness/wellness blog for young people. He currently resides in Portland, OR.