Genre: Blues / Psychedelic / Punk
Location LOST ANGELES, California, US
Profile Views: 34336
Last Login: 8/19/2011
Member Since 5/16/2008
Record Label Steel Cage Records
Type of Label Indie
Bio.. While the Leaving Trains were hopelessly inspired by punk rock back in high school in the late ’70s, what makes the Los Angeles group somewhat unique - then and now - is the way they combine punk fury with morbidly romantic balladry, psychedelic expansiveness and ambitiously poetic, if sometimes cryptic imagery. The band's shifts from laconic punk rock into bluesy desert rambles and arty, tripped-out digressions have influenced a variety of better-known grunge, punk and garage rockers, and Leaving Trains songs have been covered by performers ranging from Mark Lanegan and Cobra Verde to the Purrs, Vanilla Trainwreck, the 440s, Snatch, and Rainy Day Saints. Ryan Adams has even cited them as an early inspiration. For all that, the Leaving Trains are sometimes better known for a series of censorship controversies, publicity stunts, confrontations with authority figures and the ancient love life of singer-guitarist Falling James, the band's one ongoing member... ..The Leaving Trains were formed out of sheer boredom and suburban desperation in West Los Angeles in the summer of 1980 by Falling James and guitarist Manfred Hofer after the breakup of their high school punk band, the Mongrels (1978-1979). The first Leaving Trains lineup included Manfred’s brother, Tom, on bass, the late Hilary Laddin (the Martyrs) on drums, and keyboardist Sylvia Juncosa, and their earliest songs were primitive attempts at Urinals/Wire-like minimalism, raw blues, Sex Pistols-inspired punk, and droning marches and abstract incantations that were somewhere between the dark flower-power rave-ups of the Seeds and the guttural, industrial soul clanging of early Siouxsie & the Banshees. The Trains wanted to be punk rock, but what came out what was often something much stranger... ..Back then, the Trains were mutational and situational, preferring to do the wrong thing at the wrong time for various nobly artistic or ephemerally drunken reasons. When performing in front of punk crowds, they would sometimes do all-slow songs. When opening for a pop band, they'd play only short, sped-up hardcore punk rants. On several occasions, they've performed sets consisting of just one extended, improvised, dynamically building song. The early Trains used to get Doors comparisons because of Sylvia Juncosa's florid, Ray Manzarek-style keyboard solos and Falling James' moody low-voiced crooning, excessive drinking and literary ambitions (James was influenced at the time by such writers as Raymond Chandler, Sylvia Plath, Lame Deer, Kate Braverman and Harlan Ellison). After Sylvia Juncosa left the Trains in the early '80s to became a cult star in Europe, James began playing guitar onstage, giving the Trains a more concise, two-guitar, Ramones-like attack... ..Over the past three decades, the Trains' lineups have included more than 50 different members, some of whom have come back and forth a few times. Although Falling James is the lead singer and main songwriter, other musicians, like Manfred Hofer and Melanie Vammen, have had a strong impact on the Trains’ sound. Several, including former drummer Dennis Carlin and guitarists Bobby Belltower and Sam Merrick, have occasionally sung lead vocals. When the aggressively hedonist naked bassist Chris “Whitey” Sims was in the band for a few (literally) riotous tours and recordings in the early ’90s, he sang about half of the songs, offending conservatives and liberals alike with such ditties as "Women Are Evil," "I'm OK" and “1-900-World.".. ..Other key members and slumming celebs who’ve played with the Leaving Trains include Raoul Endara (Smog Marines), Terry "Bag Dad" Graham (the Bags, Gun Club), Chris Cacavas (Green on Red), Gwynne Kahn (the Pandoras, Mad Monster Party), Jason Kahn (Universal Congress Of), Hunter Crowley (the Warlocks, the Hangmen), Mark Pritchard (Nikki Sudden, El Vez), noted sad-eyed-pigeon artist Aaron "Mo-Ron" Donovan, Lenny Montoya (the Hangmen, Piss Factory, the Larksmen), Miss Koko Puff (Sluts for Hire, Pointy Kitty, Fangs on Fur), Melanie Vammen (the Pandoras, the Muffs, Pointy Kitty), Eric Stringer (the Up & Out, plus a Led Zep cover band that plays once a year), Jimmy Green (Penetration Moon, the Gears), Allen Clark II (Hot Damn!, Fearless Leader, AC3, Lazy Cowgirls) and the Maddog, Karla Duplantier (the Controllers, Legal Weapon, Banana Squashhead)... ..The Leaving Trains' first recording, "Virginia City" (an ode to a tumbleweed cemetery in Nevada), appeared on the KEATS RIDES A HARLEY compilation (Happy Squid Records) in 1981 alongside the Human Hands, the Earwigs, Toxic Shock and debut recordings by the Gun Club, Meat Puppets and 100 Flowers. The Trains came to wider attention with the 1984 release of the alternately jangly and idealistically punk rock first full-length album, WELL DOWN BLUE HIGHWAY, co-produced by the band with brooding Rain Parade/future Mazzy Star guru David Roback. At the time, there weren't a whole lot of groups like the Leaving Trains, mashing together terse one-minute hardcore bursts ("You Can't See"), melodic power-pop ("She Knows the Rain"), sinister pre-grunge heavy rock ("Always Between Wars"), glittery psychedelia ("Creeping Coastline of Lights") and epic desolate-highway slide-guitar rambles ("Going Down to Town"). The album's trippier interludes and the band's friendships with the Last, Green on Red, the Three O'Clock, the Bangles, Rain Parade and the Pandoras linked them to Los Angeles' briefly magical '60s-revival scene the Paisley Underground... ..Conversely, the Leaving Trains went off in a more overtly punk rock direction on their second album, KILL TUNES, the first of many releases on SST Records during the next ten years. Now the band had Marshall amps, and the songs were shorter and louder -- recorded with more punch by producer Eric Westfall (Giant Sand). Apart from a couple of the Trains' by-now trademark ballads ("Kinette," "Warning Track"), most of the kill tunes (including a remake of the Saints' "Private Affair") were straight-up punk rock blasts with a more direct social defiance ("Black," "10 Generations"). Some surprisingly positive press led to the Trains' chaotic but ultimately successful first North American tour in 1986, with the New York Times' influential Robert Palmer selecting KILL TUNES as one of his Top 10 albums of the year. Even with ever-evolving lineups, the Leaving Trains began touring regularly, with many wild adventures across North America and Europe, getting as far east as Budapest and Dresden when the Berlin Wall was still up... ..It was around this time when Tom Waits declared in the British press that the Pogues and the Leaving Trains were his two favorite new bands. Waits even namedropped Falling James in the first line of the shaggy-dog yarn "Gun Street Girl" from his RAIN DOGS album, so James jokingly responded by singing, "Waiting for Tom Waits to finish the sequel," during "How Can I Explode" on the Trains' next album, FUCK (1987). With a new guitarist, Sam Merrick (the Bobbi Brat Band), and production from Last keyboardist Vitus Matare, FUCK had more of a garage-punk feel. It was widely banned from American shops and college radio because of its title. FUCK was followed by an even more elemental, short-&-sweet-&-fast pop-punk disc, TRANSPORTATIONAL D. VICES (1989), which was lit up with wondrously stellar production by Earle Mankey (the Quick, the Runaways, the Dickies, Concrete Blonde)... ..The Trains changed styles dramatically on the experimental, contrastingly slow and doomy album of love songs SLEEPING UNDERWATER SURVIVORS (1990, produced again by Mankey and recorded during Falling James' two-year marriage to a pre-fame Courtney Love) and DROWNED & DRAGGED (an EP that was originally intended as part of a double album with SLEEPING UNDERWATER but which wasn't released until 1995). James produced Hole's debut EP, and he spent some of his "buckets full of time" in the late '80s wandering from Nevada to Arizona with Howe Gelb, singing vocals on several Giant Sand albums. James was an occasional onstage guest at Green on Red concerts and was involved in various short-lived projects with Electric Third Rail singer George Gatsiopoulous, punk-rock bank robber Shane Williams, the poet Kate Braverman, Trash Can School's Jack Gould, and the late karaoke cowboy Slim the Drifter... ..In the early ‘90s, the Leaving Trains changed directions yet again when James collaborated with the prolific, profane and usually naked New Orleans bassist Whitey Sims on the controversial LOSER ILLUSION, PART ZERO e.p. and THE LUMP IN MY FOREHEAD album. Old Trains fans were either delighted or bitterly alienated by the way the group's earlier introspective persona had morphed into a two-headed, caustic and rudely satirical worldview in such songs as "Bleach in the Fishtank," "Bob Hope," "Kids Wanna Know," "Rock & Roll Murder" and "You Don't Need a Doctor." Some felt betrayed that Falling James (a lifelong transvestite) was now dressing in drag full-time, even offstage. Meanwhile, James' ongoing, quixotic and oxymoronic anarchist campaigns for U.S. president started getting a surprising amount of mainstream media attention... ..Whitey's onstage nudity and jock-baiting, James' non-ironic feminine makeup and dresses, and even the lyrics of certain songs instigated onstage riots, arrests, pulled plugs and daily police harassment for several years until, inevitably, everyone cracked. Guitarist Aaron "Mo-Ron" Donovan moved to Mexico to study art and lived in North Carolina before eventually heading back to Los Angeles. Chris Sims escaped to San Francisco, where he edited one issue of the sacred-cow slaughterhouse BEHAVE and fronted the pyromaniacal country-rock band the Southern Restoration Society before dropping completely out of sight... ..Falling James returned the Leaving Trains to its more traditional mix of punk rock love songs and garage-y psychedelia on THE BIG JINX, whose 1994 release was delayed by the tragic death of bassist-producer Chaz Ramirez (Eddie & the Subtitles) in a warehouse accident. That was followed by another garage-punk CD, 1996's SMOKE FOLLOWS BEAUTY (the Trains' first album with former Muffs guitarist Melanie Vammen), and a 1997 greatest-hits collection, FAVORITE MOOD SWINGS (the Trains' final release on SST Records)... ..A simpatico new label, Steel Cage Records (www.steelcagerecords.com), released the Trains' most recent CD of studio recordings, EMOTIONAL LEGS, which included an hour of new songs and covers of overlooked gems by Cheap Trick, Eddie & the Subtitles and Black Sabbath. One of the original songs -- "Dumb as a Crayon," a power-ballad homage to actress Busy Philipps -- was later featured on the FREAKS AND GEEKS soundtrack CD. EMOTIONAL LEGS was followed by the Leaving Trains' first-ever live CD, AMPLIFIED PILLOWS, issued by Steel Cage in 2004. PILLOWS spotlights a 2002 radio broadcast with the Melanie Vammen/Dennis Carlin lineup, along with extensive liner notes and bonus tracks from shows in the late '80s... ..In the past decade, the Leaving Trains have performed at the first Las Vegas Shakedown in Las Vegas in 2000, gone on North American tours with the Humpers and Honeyburst, and backed up Australian singer Rob Younger (Radio Birdman, the New Christs) on a California tour in 2003. Members of the Trains have participated in such spinoff projects as the Space Okies, the Helpful Nuns, EMA 3, Pointy Kitty, Fangs on Fur and Sluts for Hire... ..Falling James is currently working on new songs for the Trains’ next studio album. A former pool cleaner, library clerk, dog walker and news reporter, James writes for L.A. Weekly (www.laweekly.com) and Carbon 14 magazine (www.C14.com) and has written for Flipside, Fiz, L.A. Reader, Glue, Contrast, and Dispatch Detroit... ..For more information, photos, lyrics, tour diaries and silly dress-up games, please stumble in to the Leaving Trains’ main website, where we try a lot harder... ..www.theleavingtrains.com
MembersFalling James - vocals, guitar.. ..Wolfie - keyboards, percussion
Influenceskittens and rainbows but mostly kittens, lost causes, lost languages, lost worlds, lost trains of thought, half-remembered dreams, misunderstood overheard conversations, cloudy collusions, vague hunches, sudden impulses, love songs about war, war songs about love, bossy songs about anarchy, angry songs about wanting to be soft and sweet.
Sounds LikeLove, Arthur Lee, Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, Kate Bush, Ramones, the Quick, Richard Pryor, Shocking Blue, Jimi Hendrix, Mick Taylor, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Anna Karina, Sly & the Family Stone, Johnny Thunders, New York Dolls, Sex Pistols, Celibate Rifles, the Saints, New Christs, Radio Birdman, Victims, Tijuana No!, Ceci Bastida, Manu Chao, Mano Negra, Raymond Chandler, the Alley Cats, Dickies, Runaways, Germs, the Cheifs, the Avengers (the S.F. punk band, the Marvel comic-book superheroes, and the '60s British television series), F-Word, Rik L. Rik, X, Go-Go's, Plugz, Gears, Controllers, Skulls, Weirdos, the Bags, 45 Grave, Gun Club, Urinals, 100 Flowers, the Last, S Squad, Hector & the Clockwatchers, Earwigs, Rhino 39, Middle Class, Suburban Lawns, Twisted Roots, the Brat, Stains, Channel 3, Adolescents, the Crowd, Agent Orange, Eddie & the Subtitles, Dick Dale, Red Scare, Jan Kerouac, Wonder Woman, Bill Hicks, Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, Katarina Witt, the Pandoras, Johnny Cash, Bettie Page, Jean Seberg, Geek Love, Freaks & Geeks, Ohio Players, Bangles, Beatles, Rutles, Kinks, Animals, John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the Clean, Mission of Burma, Tex & the Horseheads, Texacala Jones & the TJ Hookers, the Phillip Blues, Weatherbell, 3 Hole Punch, Annette Zilinskas, Link Wray, the Hangmen, the Joneses, Chris Cacavas, Penelope Houston, Green on Red, Naked Prey, Giant Sand, Consumers, Angela Davis, D.O.A., the Beautys, Parliament-Funkadelic, Short Dogs Grow, the Replacements, Stanislaw Lem, Howlin' Wolf, Lame Deer, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, X Ray Spex, Buzzcocks, Stranglers, Vice Squad, Wire, Slits, Eater, Mekons, the Clash, Crass, Siouxsie Sioux, Public Image, Gang of Four, the Fall, Bauhaus, Lydia Lunch, Television, Natalie Wood, Isley Brothers, Saccharine Trust, Jack Brewer Band, Cuban Rebel Girls, the Queen Haters, Denise Biellmann, Jean-Luc Godard, Koko Taylor, Top Jimmy & the Rhythm Pigs, Sheiks of Shake, Patty Hearst, James Brown, Clifton Chenier, Harlan Ellison, Hunter S. Thompson, George Carlin, the Pretenders, Toots & the Maytals, Nellie McKay, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Stooges, Doors, Seeds, Question Mark & the Mysterians, Temptations, Miracles, Supremes, the Four Tops, Martha & the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Little Eva, Marina Klimova & Sergei Ponomarenko, Choking Susan, Nikki Corvette, the Come Ons, White Stripes, Detroit Cobras, Cobra Verde, Public Enemy, Suzanne Vega, Velvet Underground, Reverb Motherfuckers, Patti Smith, Otis Redding, the Bar-Kays, Michelle Kwan, Gogol Bordello, Steve Englehart-era Dr. Strange, Opal, Hazard County Girls, Sylvia Plath, the Things!, Lollipop Shoppe, Dead Moon, Neil Young, Backbiter, AC/DC, the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Turbonegro, Girlschool, Motorhead, Wendy O. Williams & the Plasmatics, Betty Blowtorch, the Short Fuses, Bimbo Toolshed, early Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, the Move, the Who, Screaming Lord Sutch, Holy Sisters of the Gaga Dada, Jeff Dahl, Lazy, Project K, Get Smart, Dusty Springfield, Jackie DeShannon, Carole King, Terry Gilliam, the Breeders, Les Breastfeeders, Swingin' Neckbreakers, the Neckbones, the Preacher's Kids, Queen, Janeane Garofalo, Vanilla Trainwreck, Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter, Ringling Sisters, Pleasant Gehman, Kamikaze Poets on Ice, Surya Bonaly, the Dagons, the Dragons, the Zeros, Alejandro Escovedo, M.E.X., Mad Juana, Neko Case, Kingsizemaybe, Eddie Cochran, Rezillos, Wanda Jackson, Little Porkchop, the Spinners, the O'Jays, Cynics, Honeyburst, Emma Peel, Piss Factory, Nina Hagen, Ex-Girl, Screamers, Human Hands, Wall of Voodoo, Pagans, Devo, Kraftwerk, Black Sabbath, Concrete Blonde, Dream 6, Popdefect, Cyd Charisse, Wild Stares, W.A.C.O., Buddy Guy, Real McKenzies, Anjelika Klimova & Oleg Ovsiannikov, Fiona Apple, Tom Waits, the Dresden Dolls, Imperial Butt Wizards, Caltransvestites, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Black Death, L7, Finland Station, Bow Wow Wow, Trouble Funk, Linda Ronstadt, Billie Holliday, Supersnazz, Jonathan Raban, the B-52's, the Ettes, the Health Club, Natalie Merchant, Mary Crow Dog, the Luv'd Ones, Snatch (the '70s NYC duo with Judy Nylon & Patti Palladin and also the '90s band from Atlanta), the Hookers ('90s Atlanta), OutKast, Gnarls Barkley, SCTV, Roald Dahl, Leon Russell, Subsonics, Demolition Doll Rods, the Sirens, the Cramps, the Kills, Hot Damn!, the Love Me Nots, Chicken Hawks, Gore Gore Girls, Hell on Heels, Brigitte Bardot and Linda Blair and other animal lovers, the Prisoner, the Duke Spirit, Leadbelly, Cat Power, Brute Force.
6 Songs | Sep 21, 2008