If you read this blog — oh wait, you do read this blog! — chances are, you’ve never heard of Gringo Star. If you have, likely it’s only because you’ve seen their name painted on pallets, which are infrequently set up around town to promote their rock shows. It’s interesting guerrilla marketing. They’re a persistent Atlanta rock band.
And they obviously take themselves seriously. In fact, it’s plausible to assume that Gringo Star’s sense of self-importance may outshine its brainpower. We know this because last month, members of Gringo Star reportedly took it upon themselves to systematically swipe stacks of a local magazine called Stomp and Stammer and throw them into dumpsters. Why? They’d gotten a bad review.
Odds are that you, a reader of this blog, have seen Stomp and Stammer but never read it. Our advice: Pick up a free copy next time you grab a copy of Creative Loafing. (The two magazines often appear in stacks alongside each other in coffee houses, bars, independent record stores and lunch joints like Eats.) Of the two, Stomp and Stammer is leaner and much more fun.
Jeff Clark is the editor / publisher / lead writer / ad sales guy / nearly one-man-band behind the monthly rag. Briefly a 99X DJ, Clark founded his little magazine a decade or so ago, and managed to make it thrive– in spite of the antics of bands he’s pissed off.
Think it’s rough walking into a nest of freshly-bereaved, angry rednecks and asking for an interview about their recently-murdered kinfolk? Ask Clark how many times he’s been threatened or sucker-punched in music clubs by drunk hipsters whose rock ‘n’ roll careers have been unhelpfully trashed in the pages of Stomp and Stammer. Clark is an honest and merciless reviewer, with an emphasis on local music. From the January issue:
“A soggy turd of spazzy tempos, shrill instrumentation, painful singing and zero imagination, the Drownouts’ five-song EP Paper Trails is an example of the depths some guys will dive to these days just to try and score a little pussy. At least, I hope that’s their excuse.”
We don’t recall what he wrote about Gringo Star. We suspect members of the Drownouts have Mr. Clark on their radar.
Hopefully, they’ll react with measured maturity and respect for a free press. Or, in the manner of another Atlanta band called Attractive Eighties Women, also trashed in the pages of Stomp and Stammer. Rather than assault him or steal his magazines, they wrote a song about Clark. The refrain: “Jeff Clark is a shithead. He’s a goddamned son of a bitch…” We watched them perform it at the Star Bar this month. It was catchy.
Yet Clark’s magazine is unquestionably Georgia’s single-biggest institutional booster of current local music. It’s almost always well-written. Its articles are objective yet mostly upbeat, lavishing praise on music, bars, movies and other stuff he and his contributors like. And it may be the only rock magazine in the world with a weird albeit lightly-applied right-wing political bent. Don’t hold it against them.
How many local TV reporters can say they’ve had a song written about them? (OK, we know of one, but it’s way obscure…) Stomp and Stammer is a cool, local, underground jewel. Among Atlanta reporters, the real rock star is a print guy they’ll never see at a police news conference or a city council meeting. And he’s his own boss.