The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, March 9, 1995 - 3
Better Nate Than Never
Laughing Hyenas struggle against the hard-time blues
By Matt Carison
Daily Arts Writer
The Laughing Hyenas embark on
their U.S. tour in a month and will not
be playing any local shows until after
they arrive back home in Ann Arbor a
few months from now - that's good;
it gives you and I a little time to
prepare. To say that a Hyenas show is
a dark experience would be an under-
statement. To say that a Hyenas show
is a dark, drug and booze hazy cloud
of all-encompassing gloom would be
After all, at the band's perfor-
mance last fall at Rick's, as the four-
piece ensemble trudged through their
overwhelmingly murky and glori-
ously harmonic power chord rants of
self-induced chill vibes, as the faith-
ful swayed to the possessed, guttural
screams of vocalist John Brannon -
a woman decided NOW would be a
grand fine time to take a little nod-off
nap and sleep peacefully on the floor
at my feet.
Yeah, that veers into the melodra-
matic a bit (and actually the pay-off
wasn't that great), but it sets the mood
in an unpretentious matter-of-fact
tone. The Laughing Hyenas sink into
your flesh with a melodramatic, yet
unpretentious, mode of formality --
it's awkward music performed by
awkward musicians for awkward
people. You can feel the sinking de-
spair that the band emits, eventually
feeling fairly low yourself.
"I like to separate it,". Brannon
said of his stage persona. "When I'm
on stage, I'm putting a lot into that.
But when I come off stage, it's a
different person. You can't live like
that. We try to reserve those feelings
for a show."
Playing about 50 shows in two
months across the nation, the Hyenas
are touting their latest and best album
on aisle 101
After hours of studying deriva-
tives hedging formulas or economic
order quantity problems, I sometimes
find myself wondering: "When would
I ever use this stuff?"
I'm sure this recurring question is
not specific to business students, but
those of all disciplines, except per-
haps communication majors.
Though it may be hard to pull
practical, everyday applications out
of abstract theories and concepts, it's
surprising how often material from
exam questions shows up on the great
exam of life. For example: I was in the
grocery store last week, stocking up
on bagels, pepperoni, cheese and pizza
sauce -pizza bagel work-in-progress
When I saw two liters of diet Coke
qn sale for $1.09, I quickly recog-
nized this as a promotion -one of the
four P's of marketing (product, price,
promotion and place). My astute ob-.
servation did not, however, alter the
price of the diet Coke (which, inci-
dentally, marketing students prefer
less than Wal-Mart's Sam's Choice
Diet Cola at an everyday low price, or
EDLP, of 72 cents per two-liter).
A I had to keep this insightful com-
inentary to myself during the grocery
excursion as I was shopping solo. My
friends, citing time constraints caused
by my need to traverse each aisle
thrice and spend several minutes de-
liberating over fish stick brands, have
stopped participating in this ritual.
Good accounting skills beget good
financing by withdrawing the right
amount of liquid assets from the auto-
h'iated teller machine, orClam-o-Matic.
Bad accounting skills beget overdraft
notices, which are undesirable.
Many shoppers use the unscien-
tific method of buying food they like
to eat without taking into account
more important economic variables.
I have figured in marginal costs
per unit, aggregate supply curves and
regression analysis to come up with
optimum consumption bundle of
macaroni and cheese and Ramen
noodles. Confused? Stay with me.
After filling my cart to an equilib-
rium grocery level based upon my
consumer preferences, I headed to the
checkout to complete my transaction
with the store.
I had an informative conversation
with the sales representative - we'll
call her Madge-who optically input
#y groceries' universal product code
symbols into the central inventory-
"Paper or plastic?" Madge asked.
"What is the marginal cost of
"They don't cost anything."
"Well, then what is the marginal
"Plastic it is. Do you have any
"Of course. What fool wouldn't
work to expand his production fron-
"Hey, waita minute. You have 11
items and you're in the express lane."
Hmmm - a conflict. It was the
perfect opportunity to put my organi-
zational behavior skills to work: Don't
deck 'em, REC 'em (Restate, Empa-
I hize, Confirm).
Irestated Madge's concern. "What
you're saying is that I have 11 items
and you're only supposed to allow 10
into the express aisle."
Then I empathized. "I understand
how it can make you upset that I'm
buying one extra item." I did not, nec-
essarily, agree with Madge's position.
Finally, I moved to confirm. "So
is it correct that my bringing an extra
Rem into your lane has upset you?" I
asked. Madge confirmed this.
But, to my surprise, Madge
launched a counter-attack using the
of lodging a complaint.
to date, "Hard Times," which is sure
to garner further misconceptions about
the band's sound and feel. See here,
it's like this: Any band from the De-
troit area that manages to provide
damn good music for more than 20
,people is slapped with "The Next
Stooges" blue ribbon.
"The Stooges and MC5 compari-
sons are lame," said guitarist Larissa
Strickland. "I think that's a ridiculous
yoke around my neck. It has abso-
lutely nothing to do with us."
The Stooges, MC5 and the Laugh-
ing Hyenas may all contain that seed
of empowerment, that precious abil-
ity to stir their audience to riot or take
naps, depending on what kick the
listener is on at that particular mo-
True, the sounds aren't compa-
rable. Excluding the MC5's blues-
metal stampede, the Laughing Hy-
enas power-chord dirges of the psy-
choses that life presents to us all re-
main extremely disjointed from Ron
Asheton's psychedelic twists and
Iggy's self-nihilism in the Stooges.
Brannon's lyrics may be just as nihil-
istic, but the direction of anger is
usually pointed in a different direc-
tion -sometimes women, sometimes
intoxicants, but often some unseen
f e wrecking his life in new and un-
"Hard Times" unveils a fully-re-
alized Laughing Hyenas. The music
and lyrics may sound and feel like the
blues (aided by a cover of Johnny
Cash's "Home of the Blues"), but the
methods through which the feeling is
sustained is accomplished by feeling,
not technical prowess. The passion
and despair that blues embeds into
your soul, then remains untainted by
the pressure to do everything right.
"No one ever told me what to do,"
Strickland said of the advantages of
being a self-taught guitarist. "I've
never had a teacher come in and say,
'No, that's not what you do.' I look at
(the music) as what I hear in my head
and what I think sounds good to me.
So, I look at it in a totally naive way,
and I think that helps the songwriting."
Recovering from the band's pub-
licized drug troubles, which have
stirred rumors of break-ups, the group
is ready to put their past behind them
and go on the road. (In fact, on "Hard
Times," we get a shinier, happierJohn
Brannon as he sings "Well you just
can't wait to get things straight, you
gotta give more than you take / Yeah
I've had enough down in the dumps,
gotta dig out of your slump," on
"We're trying to put everything
that's happened behind us," Brannon
said, "and hopefully (gain) a better
attitude towards things. We just want
to get out there and play, with nothing
standing between us. We do 50 shows
in two months. I'm sure it'll kill us,
but we've done it before. Larissa's
not dead, and we're all ready to go."
-NATURAL HIGH WEAR
215 S. State St.
Next to State Theatre
Open 7 Days A Week
Here's a chipper pack of Laughing Hyenas. Just like the Smurfs.
March 11, 1995 6:30 pm.
Michigan Union Ballroom
The University of Michigan
Tickets at door
Unique Thai Cuisine
Exotic Handcraft Exhibition
Thai Classical Dances and Musi
Thai Classical Music
Panya Roongruang, visiting
professor from Kent State
University, and 16 Thai ensemble
members discuss Thai classical
music and give opportunity for
participants to try their own hand
at playing the instruments.
Workshop takes place at:
Wolverine Room, Michigan Union
c Sunday, March 12th, 1995
9:00 -11:00 AM
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