I’m pretty sure Cop Shoot Cop is the best band New York City ever produced, based on the caustic metal-scraping Headkick Facsimile record from 1988, and then the slick gallery of nightmares Ask Questions Later from 1993. With two bassists thrashing under a dangerous tower of metal percussion, this big giant barbed middle finger of a band decorated their sound Lower East Side Chainsaw Massacre style with all the best elements of no wave, upscale “new music”, punk, and maybe even thrash metal. This was the angry, amped-up pinnacle of a scene that spawned Sonic Youth, Swans, Unsane, Prong, and Pussy Galore. Most importantly, they felt like a grief-stricken junk monster rising from the smoke, sweat, and grease of New York City. During the glowering days of 1988-1993, they orchestrated perfectly the reality of the crack epidemic, bums roasting pigeons in trash cans, blood-soaked heroin tissues tiling bar bathroom ceilings, random late-night shootings, nervousness all day, and burned out cars everywhere. And they transcended that with Ask Questions Later, when they became more like the Bad Seeds and less like the Birthday Party.
Hip enough to tap the vein, Strapping Young Lad did a bad metal cover of “Room 429” from Ask Questions Later, but the original is really a masterpiece of drug/torture/suicide narrative. Great lyrics, great rhythmic overkill, great band.
The man in the metal cage, C$C drummer Phil Puleo, runs a retrospective site which includes several dozen MP3s spanning the band’s career, including album and live tracks, demos, and a Peel Session. I saw them play several times in the early 1990s, and I used to see the guys around a lot, but I was too far on the periphery to even began to tell tales now on the turmoil they went through in those days. I remember their tour van was an out-of-commission special education “short bus” with a military camo paint job. That was pretty funny.