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Daily Texan: Pork: The other white meat

10/01/1996- PORK Featuring: Bigfoot Chester, Hamick At: Hole in the Wall, 2538 Guadalupe St. Date: Friday Time: 10 p.m.

SUSAN SHEPARD Daily Texan Staff

"We are not the hardest working band by any means. We're not a band that practices all week, we've kept it a really casual, fun time for the three of us." Mary Hattman's words belie the somewhat convoluted path the band Pork has taken during their six years of existence. The bassist has seen Pork's bare-bones garage pop go from local curiosity to national buzz, culminating in an aborted major label deal last year. Along with guitarist Dana Smith and drummer Edith Casimir, Hattman can now enjoy the long overdue release of the group's second record Slop. "We were supposed to sign with Elektra and that went on for a while, sending contracts and looking at them, lawyers and all that stuff. Then we turned it down, and we didn't know how we were going to make a record. "I don't know how long it was before Craig [Stewart, of local label Emperor Jones] asked us to make a record. It was just a matter of thinking we were going to make a record with Elektra and having that all fall through, then starting all over again. We actually recorded this stuff over the summer and they're already putting it out. That's really fast for a label to get everything done." Strip, the group's debut, was released by No. 6, a label co-owned by Terry Tolkin, who coincidentally was employed by Elektra. According to the group's manager, Jeff Tartakov, the deal offered did not approach adequacy. "It wasn't what he said it was going to be. It was offered as a one-off type thing, and it ended up being this seven-record deal that would have been selling themselves into slavery for a shot at living in one-hit wonderland. It gave them no hope at all of quitting their jobs. By the time they paid a lawyer to do the contract, paid me a commission and recorded a record, there would have been absolutely nothing for the band." After discussions with Elektra ended, other majors approached the group, said Tartakov. "There were other majors we talked to and one that I thought was particulary sleazy because they said that they were going to make an offer but didn't. It left the band with a pretty sour taste towards major labels." Emperor Jones, an arm of Austin super-indie Trance, wound up offering to release a record for Pork. Aside from their admirable speed in releasing Slop, Hattman finds certain advantages to working with a home team. "It's really easy to find out what's going on. You don't have to call long distance. "I'm really happy with [Emperor Jones]. The first record was delayed many months -- they set a release date, moved it back. Set a date, moved it back. This time, they said it was coming out October 1 and it did." With business concerns behind them, the group continues by playing simple, basic rock 'n' roll, the sort that requires only a bare minimum of technique and the ability to write about sex, drinking and motor vehicles. However, Pork's image as three girls who could barely play and would throw back several rounds of Maker's Mark and Jaegermeister to get through a single set can't really stick after this record. The playing has improved, and the songs are more complex, while the production is far cleaner than that of all previous recordings. "We wanted it to sound better than the first one. So much time had gone by [since the previous album] that most of the songs are new. After writing songs for a while, you'll start writing things that are a little more sophisticated than when you first started writing songs. "That's something that we wouldn't really notice as much that someone else would. When we made the record we went through the songs really quickly -- it wasn't like we were worried we'd mess up. "I don't think we don't know how to play anymore. I wanna get better. If we're any better, I'm glad to hear that." The addition of horns to a few tracks added a new element to the record as well. Saxophone and trumpet are used on Trashman and Do You Think I'm Sexy?, although it's mainly the former that's audible. "We asked Bill Jeffery [of Stretford] to come in. I think it was Dana's idea that she thought it might be nice to have a sax on this one song, so we asked Walter [Daniels, of Big Foot Chester] to come in and then put him on two songs since he was there." With a sizeable audience outside of Austin, Pork has a solid base on which to capitalize. However, Hattman is anything but preoccupied with success. She seems surprised by the recognition they have received so far. "I think we've been lucky as far as good press goes. We've gotten press in a lot of places and at times nationally (Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke is perhaps the most well-known writer with a taste for the other white meat), which is a surprise. To have a record come out and have it reviewed in other cities is enough for me."

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