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Wrong Is Right 

Pillow of Wrongness

Thursday, Jul 8 2004
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Photo by Tara Cook

The four quarrymen called Pillow of Wrongness do everything that makes for the most hellacious rock and pop: They drink, they sweat, they break strings, they charge around and bang into things. They’ve got the meatiest songbook in town. And they’re smart and congenial enough to do all that in their Pillow Fight events, where several compatible groups play five songs each and everybody stays all night whooping it up. PoW are the vanguard of the revamped Partyist Commune, founded in 2001 by Ace Frehley and Groucho Marx to combat boredom, dry tonsils and artistic egomania. It’s fun.

You need a serious guy like bassist Albert Kim to explain throwback ideas like fun and community. “What was cool about Sunset Boulevard in the ’80s,” he says, “was that you could go watch Motley Crue before they were big — members from other bands would be hanging out on a Tuesday night at Gazzarri’s and the Whisky.”

Crue? The Pillow dudes may not be similarly glammed, but they’re similarly clanned, and similarly damned when Tennessee-born Matt “Theasshole” (which he ain’t), a fully loaded Guns N’ Roses fanatic, starts yanking his guitar and shaking his hair around. “I can’t play unless I’m completely wasted,” he brags genteelly. “I jump around so much onstage that I just go headlong into the drums occasionally. Jack makes his own drums, so he can remake them.”

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Jack Mayer is indeed a drum manufacturer — fortunate not only because of the Matt factor but because he kicks with destructive boots of pure Led. Drumcraft is a great job: “You start makin’ ’em, and a couple of people like ’em, and the next thing you know — you’re in huge debt!”

The man who oversees the digging of this glorious pit is co-guitarist Russell Wiener, a tough nerd from Arizona. He’s got a cut-through-it-all voice, and a casual way of singing that begs you to think he doesn’t care, which is how you know he cares like a sonofabitch. And boyo, he can write songs. They come in many flavors on PoW’s demo compendium: helium pop (“Stuck in My Head”), slogging crash (“Falling Down”), trueblood rock (“Throw It Away”) — there’s even the hugest, dick-stickinest epic Pete Townshend never wrote, “Flood,” a tsunami of ambition that lifts this band into a whole other category.

Though listeners distracted by the grand melodies won’t notice, musicians will: Wiener is a rulebook burner when it comes to chord changes. Pillow of Wrongness (a phrase cadged from street-schizo musician Wesley Willis) says it, all right. “Russell makes me do things on guitar that I had no idea existed,” complains/rejoices Matt. “I love playin’ in this band!”

For now, Pillow’s recordings are basic — no enhancements needed with material this strong. “The studio is a fun instrument,” says Wiener, “and it’s your opportunity to do something that’s different from what you do live, but that’s for after we’re all going to weird yoga classes and maharishis, and doing acid and stuff.”

“We’re not there yet,” shuffles Matt. “We’re not cool enough for that.”

“The acid days and the Indian philosophies are coming,” says Wiener, “but so far we stick to the simple studio stuff . . .”

Matt hoists a brew: “. . . and the simple drugs!”

The kind you can get at the corner store? Sure, but Wiener pays his rent in one of the trashiest districts of Hollywood. “You can get anything on the corner around here,” says Kim.

“Lexington is the great dividing line between Hollywood and Trannytown,” explains Wiener. This must be the ghetto of Trannytown, if the street life is any indication.

Kim: “Yeah, it’s a little scary.”

Matt: “Some of ’em don’t even try. They just put a wig on, and they’re done.”

Mayer: “There were a couple I saw, they should definitely just shave.”

Motley Crue, 1982?

Pillow of Wrongness (www.pillowofwrongness.com) play Pillow Fight Club XVI at Lingerie with Orson, Shades of Day, Thrill Deluxe, They Died Laughing and Goomba on Friday, July 9; first 20 to write pillowofwrongness@hotmail.com get in free. They also play the International Pop Overthrow fest at Club Lingerie on Thursday, July 22.

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