Page 8--The Michigan Daily- Wednesday, October 10, 1990
share their gift
by Kim Yaaed
Technically speaking, as guitarist
Larissa Strickland wrote in my note-
book, the Laughing Hyenas equal
,"New Orleans Dixieland, St. Louis
Miles Davis Jazz, Chicago Blues,
Motor City born, NYC taught, At-
lantic City gamblers, Pistons,
Stooges, Billie Holliday and Aus-
The Laughing Hyenas, deemed so
by vocalist John Brannon, has been
on the music circuit since 1985.
,New York City, Berlin and Vienna
rank as the band's favorite cities to
play. Recently, they toured Europe
"exclusively," performing 21 shows
in 22 days.
The Hyenas have not returned to
Berlin since the Wall has been torn
down. They did, however, receive a
"fan mail" letter from Switzerland
that blamed them for the Wall's
demise. They had played there a
sport time before it was decided that
th, Wall would be destroyed.
Larissa is the lone female in the
>Hyenas' line-up. Bassist Kevin
-trickland - Larissa's brother,
drummer Jim Kimball and vocalist
Brannon are the other members. But,
acoording to Larissa, the only differ-
ence between them is that "I piss sit-
The feelings coming from the
band's songs are group emotions.
Playing, writing and performing is
their form of release; their songs are
"frighteningly and intensely autobi-
ographical." Larissa described the
band as "spontaneous combustion."
Laughing Hyenas' latest release,
Life of Crime , is named after a tune
by L.A. band The Weirdos. The al-
bum cover work was done by Bill
Widener, a huge Hyenas fan. Because
he was so dedicated to them, they de-
cided to ask him to do the cover. The
cover itself is symoblic of the
Laughing Hyenas. There's a heart on
it with four arrows piercing it, one
for each of them, and the other sym-
bols describe them as well. As
Larissa put it, "We're gamblers, card
players, musicians and pool sharks."
There are a lot of Laughing Hye-
nas groupies as well. "Who anyone
goes home with is who anyone goes
home with... personally, I'm just
usually left with my guitar," Larissa
said. People follow the Hyenas from
city to city, even in Europe. "They
understand our music sometimes
more than we do." Larissa said.
Continued from page 7
Life of Crime
Touch and Go
Okay, here we go again. Another
g-band claiming that they got their
decadence from my hometown De-
troit and their rock roots from Ann
Arbor. You'll never hear this carnage
pumping from the back of a low
rider on Woodward avenue. Actually,
the Hyenas are barren. They are
harsh. They are squalid. They do a
remarkable job of creating the noize
that accompanies shaved-head degen-
erates headed to Detroit's Shelter and
urban malcontents sworn to destroy
the city's middle class as well.
The Laughing Hyenas have a
very effective tone, sort of like the
AIDS-infected edge of a rusty,'
scummy razor blade. While many
bands try to be noisy - Band of Su-
sans, Volcano Suns and various Sub
Pop bands for example; the Hyenas
simply are noisy.
Forget Lynyrd Skynyrd and
Jimmy "In My Time Of Dying"
Page's six-guitar salutes. Guitarist
Larissa Strickland dumps rock's in-
fernal tower of power standards and'
testosterone obsessions of feedback'
masturbation all at once - basi-
cally, she's a one-woman show.
Strickland puts away the overblown'
cravings of kool metal chicks long-'
ing for hairy motherfuckers named:@
Biff through malevolent riffs that'd
do Page proud.
The screamer, John Brannon,.
impresses me with his steadfast re-,
fusal to ever drop below the aural:
range of chainsaws buzzing through'
solid rock. His lyrics are mostly in-
comprehensible, and that's just fine.#
With chaotic jam sessions like:
"Kick" and search-and-destroy work-
outs like "Wild Heart," the Laughing:
Hyenas produce a rather visceral,+
touching frenzy. Life of Crime is ul-
timately a good, if unexceptional,
-Forrest Green III
Wow, man. I was really trippin' out and I had this vision of the Laughing Hyenas standing outside a barn lookin'
really sinister, almost evil. I'm never touchin' that shit again.
The Hyenas manage to keep their
material fresh by changing the set
each night just a little. They play
each song differently, depending
upon the audience, the atmosphere
and the environment. "You can't
play it the same way twice," said
Larissa. "It's definitely better live;
we are a live band... The studio is a
captured feeling... a testament of
what happened that day at that time."
Larissa has developed a metaphor
for the Laughing Hyenas' relation-
ship with their audience. "We are
brains and brawn, broken guitar
strings, feedback, screaming vocals,
booming bass and a monster drum-
mer." The audience is "sweaty, im-
mediate and part of them; they reach
out to us and we give it back."
As it stands, the Hyenas are not
planning on making music a career,
so to speak. "If you make it a career,
you're prostituting your music," ex-
plained Larissa. As she sees it, their
future can go one of four ways: "We
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can get really popular, end up dead,
in jail or teachers and scholars...
We're not Rhodes Scholars; we're
In actuality, the band sees them-
selves as heading for some time off.
Not yet, though. They will be the
support band for Sonic Youth's Goo
Tour from Texas to California. Al-
though they are excited about play-
ing with this talented band again and
to large audiences, Larissa said,
"We've played to one person and
we've played to three thousand, and
it doesn't make any difference what-
soever; the output is still the same.
We don't judge our audience. It's
important for a musician not to tell
the audience what to do and how to
The Laughing Hyenas' music is
"spirit, agression, sex, guilt, confu-
sion, sadness and pain," in that or-
der. In Larissa's words, "It's a gift;
it's not something that you keep for
yourself. ,It's a gift for whoever
wants to open it."
LAUGHING HYENEAS, DUST
DEVILS and UNREST play the
Heidelberg tonight. Cover: $6.
James sings "Mouthwash
See RECORDS, page'
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