Without giving much thought to it
one way or another, you may have noticed that the Beastie
Boys Ratcage Records releases begin with a catalog number
designation MOTR. If you were ever curious as to what the
"MOTR" meant, the answer is simple but rich in
history. Not just the history of Dave "Daze" Parsons,
but also the history of another time and place. As Daze
explained it, "When I was a scrawny little surfer in
high school my nickname was The Rat. I was living
in Boca Raton, Florida and it just so happens that in the
18th century the inlet at Boca Raton was a pirate cache.
The pirates used it because you could not see the inlet
from the water until you were right on it, which was far
too late for the merchant ships. Boca Raton literally in
English is "mouth of the rat." So MOTR or Mouth
of The Rat was an obvious choice for the name of my fanzine.
It described who and where at the same time and with the
flare of the black flag/anarchist pirate/past history of
To this day, print copies of Mouth
of The Rat still bring top dollar in online eBay auctions.
Yet, it is the Ratcage Records music releases and the actual
Ratcage Records store that many people think of when Parsons
name is mentioned. The very first Ratcage store was located
in basement under 171A Studios (the studio where Polly
Wog Stew was recorded) was numbered as Mouth of
The Rat #20 or as Parsons tells it "People would ask
when is the next issue coming out? Then I would
say you are standing in it. I think they just thought I
was being sarcastic though. The second store, located at
307 East 9th Street in New York, was Mouth of The Rat #22
and that is to say that the store was also an "issue"of
the fanzine. It said so down in the corner of the stores
front window. Its funny because not one person ever
remarked it. No one other than Cathy and me seemed to know
that when they were in the store they were 'actually' standing
inside of a fanzine."
Its ironic that one of the
most sought after vinyl records by Beastie Boys fans is
not even a Beastie Boys record. Instead, it is The Young
and the Useless Real Men Dont Floss record
that Parsons also put out on the Ratcage Records label.
"The Y&U ep is the second rarest record I was involved
with. There are less than 800 copies in the first and only
pressing. Daze was always really fond of the Young and the
Useless and especially their front man Dave
Scilken. "The Young and useless were actually potentially
hotter than the Beastie Boys. I was getting calls from all
over the US about bringing this young band out on tour.
Then (when Horovitz jumped
ship over to the Beastie Boys) all of a sudden they didn't
exist anymore. Look at the cover of their ep, they would
have been the biggest punk band from New York. They were
way ahead of the pack and couldn't even play yet!! So young!!
Everybody wanted to see them. Scilken had great ideas. He
was such a clever kid."
Although Parsons took an extended
hiatus from the music world, Daze is back and working harder
than ever on several MOTR projects. The first MOTR project
is the fascinating official website, which Daze has created
using the strict code. In the process of navigating through
Parsons website, you will get an opportunity to witness
and experience the neighborhood through photos taken during
the time when the Beastie Boys practically lived at the
Ratcage Records Store.
The second MOTR project revolves
around the release of new recordings. Daze has already put
together an album worth of new material powered by electric
ukulele. Scott Jarvis, who also worked on Polly Wog Stew,
appears on Dazes album as a session drummer. Jarvis
is an old friend of Parsons, from Raleigh, North Carolina,
who has also played drums in another band called Th' Cigaretz.
Tying this back to the Beastie Boys it is interesting to
note that Jerry Williams, proprietor of 171A Studios, was
the guitar player for Th' Cigaretz. Had he not been on the
road touring with the Bad Brains at the time, he would have
been the producer of Polly Wog Stew instead of Jarvis.
However since it had become obvious to Parsons that the
studio was closing before Jerry would make it back, Daze
convinced Scott to do the job. Had that bit of convincing
not happened the recording probably never would have come
out at all. One must realize that the Beastie Boys had already
broken up, so Daze knew that it was important to get them
into the studio while the Beastie material was still fresh
in their minds. To quote Parsons, "they were already
thinking about other things and not all of them musical.
They would have never dreamed of putting up money to go
into a studio somewhere and do it themselves. I certainly
had no money to buy expensive studio time, we were squatting
that store as it was."
The words which Parsons used to convince
the Beastie Boys to record were, "What, come on those
songs are great. You should make a record. I want to start
a record label, and Ill make it if you come into 171A
and record them. Ill put it out on Ratcage Records.
It will be good for the store and plus you will have something
cool to show your grandchildren someday." This was
just the beginning though. Once Parsons was able to convince
them to go into the studio and record, it still took some
maneuvering to make the album a reality or as Daze tells
it, "so I hooked it up with Scott, who had been left
in charge of the studio while Jerry Williams went on tour
with the Bad Brains. Jerry and Th Cigaretz had made
it into a studio with all the equipment they brought up
from North Carolina. It was primarily a rehearsal studio,
but it had a stage and great acoustics. At any rate, Scott
was there so I asked him if he would be willing to use the
studio and record the Beastie Boys. His response was a simple
yeah. At the time we figured if Jarvis couldnt
do all of it, Jerry Williams would eventually be back to
mix it. Scott proved to have a great sense of humor was
really easy to get along with... and there you go, they
all hit it off." The product of those sessions encouraged
the Beastie Boys to continue playing shows, and the rest