Glen Stilphen Discusses ‘Drop The Needle’ Boston Punk Compilation [Vinyl Creep]
For fans of punk rock, classic hardcore and just fun, raw rock and roll, ‘Drop the Needle: Boston Punk Anthology‘ will prove to be a required compilation for your collection. Featuring never-before-released tracks from bands like Smegma and the Nunz, Gang Green, Mallethead, Scratch and Celebrity Death Certificate, ‘Drop the Needle’ is a historical account of the Boston punk scene of the ’80s. Glen Stilphen is the man behind the comp and recently caught up with Noisecreep to talk all things Boston punk rock.
“I was in several bands with my brother, Chuck, over the course of the ’80s and ’90s. Basically, when you’re in bands, you end up with odds and ends when it comes to recordings,” Stilphen explains about the creation of ‘Drop the Needle.’ “The recordings never end up anywhere for whatever reason. Then, you move on to something else and sort of forget about it. After not playing in a band for a little while, I started listening to those recordings. All of a sudden, it just snowballed.”
It was about a year ago that Stilphen discovered the tracks that would be the foundation of ‘Drop the Needle,’ recordings from Smegma and the Nunz. “We hadn’t heard these songs in 30 years. Me and my brother always asked, ‘What happened to Smegma and the Nunz?’ For whatever reason, the band never put out any recorded material and nobody ever signed them,” Stilphen says about the hardcore legends. Fortunately, Stilphen didn’t just sit on these recordings, but instead was inspired to create this anthology of rock and roll.
Why are Smegma and the Nunz the focus of ‘Drop the Needle?’ Fans don’t need to look much further than the dedication of the album. “This album sums up, to some level, my musical career with my brother, but at the same time we dedicate it to Alec [Steere],” says Stilphen. “I always had a little place in my heart for Smegma and the Nunz. I thought they were the greatest band ever when I was a kid, but after hearing the tapes after 30 years, it kind of confirmed for me that this stuff was actually pretty good. We really liked Alec as a person, and thought he especially deserved recognition and justice for the good stuff that he did. We are really happy that this stuff has finally made it onto a release.”
As important as Smegma and the Nunz were, ‘Drop the Needle’ features other acts as well. Stilphen describes one song that stood out to him: “The Mallethead song ['Mother Sunshine'] is the one that did it for me. This kid was a friend of a friend of a friend and he produced the live recording of that song from WBCN in 1989. Overall, the band wasn’t successful in my eyes back then. What came from them were just a few songs. Listening back to it now, though, it is a lot better than I thought it was at the time. I was overly critical of the band, but after waiting some time and listening back to it, it was a different experience for sure.”
Stilphen’s endeavor with this album has been — and continues to be — a labor of love. “I’m a real estate appraiser, and that pays my bills,” he tells Noisecreep. “But, I was able to slowly start a record company on the side.” Being an independent release, things don’t always move as fast. While ‘Drop the Needle’ is available right now in digital and CD form from Stilphen’s record company, Trev Records, the vinyl release is on its way.
“We’re waiting a little bit longer to put the vinyl out, but obviously the title sort of locks us into it,” Stilphen says, laughing. “Actually, it will have more info on Alec. We asked one of his sisters to write a little thing about him, so there will be an extra page about him exclusive to the vinyl.”
While details aren’t set in stone yet, the vinyl release of ‘Drop the Needle’ will be pressed on 180-gram, and fans should definitely keep their eyes out for limited colored editions. Originally planned for a Dec. 1 release, Stilphen says realistically the vinyl should drop around Jan. 1, just in time to welcome the new year.
“The punk rock that was going on back then was really an answer to the excessive self-indulgent rock and roll that was going on in the ’70s,” Stilphen reminisces. “You were forced into listening to only a few radio stations, not like today where you can listen to whatever you want. I think that was part of it. People were looking for something different. I don’t think you can recreate that exact scenario.”
Fortunately, you don’t have to rely on anyone recreating that scenario. ’Drop the Needle’ is a flawless look back at what the music scene was like in Boston in the ’80s.
Glen Stilphen’s Vinyl Breakdown
Current Favorite Vinyl: White Dynomite – ‘White Dynomite’
All-Time Favorite Vinyl: The Beatles – ‘The Beatles’