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For nearly two years, DJ Filthy Rotten Wes has funneled seemingly disparate forms of rock & roll through an enlightened aesthetic sense on his Trash-o-matic Garbage A Go-Go radio show on KUCI-FM 88.9.
For the purposes of this column, is it best to refer to you as DJ Filthy Rotten Wes?
[Laughs.] I think that's a horrible name every time I hear it, and that's why I love it. I guess I don't have a problem with that. My real name is Wesley Tanenbaum.
Has your show always been called the Trash-o-matic Garbage A Go-Go?
It has. I thought I would have grown out of that name by now, but it fits. When I was putting together the show, I had certain things in mind, like Mad Magazine and "Big Daddy" Roth characters—the whole juvenile delinquent feeling. So I feel that the name is sort of juvenile.
Do you have trouble getting into "radio DJ speak" mode?
I think that the personality develops over time. You may have an idea of what you want to do, but most likely it will sound horrible over the air. Right now I still kind of feel like I'm being kind of schmaltzy and goofy when I try to do a radio personality. It's hard to sound intelligent, especially if you start doing shows from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m.
Name some of your favorite local bands.
I grew up listening to the Stitches and going to Underdog Records, owned by Mike the singer. The Crowd . . . there's really a legacy of punk music here in Orange County that some people might not be aware of. I like Hostage Records, Disaster Records and Vinyl Dog Records. You've got the US Bombs, Smogtown. We've got lots of rockabilly and psychobilly bands here. Split 7 Records is an example of good music from Orange County and LA.
What was your vision when you started your show?
One of the ways I felt I could get a show was to offer something unique. And as the station plays really a spectrum of underground music, I was lucky that the things I like were underrepresented there. So I put together all the music I thought would go well together. It's a lengthy explanation. I have a theory about it, though. I call it the "raw, wild and outrageous music" on the show, but in essence it's mainly passionate musicians with lots of energy. It's all very human in the way that it's not perfect. And humans aren't perfect. I love the humans in music. Basically when someone's passion for playing music overwhelms their ability to do so flawlessly, that's what I love, and all the music I play is representative of that.
Give me some examples.
My specialty, I guess you could say, is one-man bands. One-man bands pretty much exemplify everything that I like about music. They are passionate, so much so that they get carried away and skip a beat or hit the wrong note. And these are people that love music so much they can't even wait to get a band to play with them. They just do it all on their own. I started out listening to Lightning Beat Man, who is a Mexican wrestler/Elvis-impersonating psycho from Switzerland. From him I learned about more like Bloodshot Bill in Canada. My theme song for my radio show is actually from a one-man band from France called Thee Mysterious Asthmatic Avenger. They're all pretty wild personalities, I guess.
Aside from one-man bands, what do you like to play?
This is a long list, so I actually went to the trouble of writing it down because I'd probably repeat some if I didn't do that—sleazy rockabilly, sleazy rock & roll, some spooky surf and drag, jet rock, monster music from as far back as the '60s, classic garage and cowpunk, and those one-man bands. While it might not sound like it, they are all tied together in their energy and spirit. I try to encourage listeners to maybe break away from the genres that they stick with.