Tony Atherton and Bazooka are no longer on the same wavelength personally, but they continue to follow similar routes musically.
Atherton’s new band, Mojack, is, like Bazooka, an all-instrumental ensemble that records for SST Records. And like Bazooka, it has an Orange County gig this week, headlining Friday at Club 369.
Atherton says he had returned to Huntington Beach about six months ago after nearly two years in San Francisco when guitarist-SST label boss Greg Ginn invited him to resume playing in Mojack, an intermittent recording project Atherton had contributed to.
“Merchandising Murder,” released about a year ago, found Atherton playing more sparsely than he had in Bazooka, leaving room for Ginn’s guitar, which straddles the gulf between garage rock and the noisy avant-garde. (Ginn is a guest player on Bazooka’s new album.) Onstage, Atherton and Ginn perform as a duo against dense electronic, programmed percussion and tape loops.
Mojack recorded its second album last week, Atherton says. “This new stuff has more swing to it; it’s much swampier. There’s a lot of interplay between Greg and myself.”
Since December 1994, there hasn’t been any interplay between Atherton and his longtime friend and former partner, Bazooka’s Vince Meghrouni.
“You could say Tony and I communicate strictly by rumor,” Meghrouni said. “What Tony said when he left [Bazooka] was, ‘I don’t like the way we relate to each other.’ ”
Two brief encounters since were chilly, Meghrouni said. “It really is too bad. I’ve been good friends with that guy for 15 years, and it’s a lousy way to relate to somebody you’ve known that long. We should talk. It’s kind of ridiculous.”
“That’s nice,” Atherton said when told of Meghrouni’s hopes for a reconciliation. “I appreciate that. I certainly agree, and I’ll try to be warmer in the future.”
When not with Mojack, Atherton has been heating up his sax and clarinet with the Blues Monsters, a six-member, Whittier-based band that includes a vocalist and horns.
Atherton is skeptical that revivals of surf-rock and space-age-bachelor-pad music will do much to expand the audience for Mojack’s instrumental style.
“It always seems like instrumental music has an uphill battle,” Atherton said. “It’s great when it gets attention. Hopefully [those revivalist forms] will get people to listen to more challenging, improvisationally based things. We’re willing to wear Hawaiian shirts for the surf crowd.”
* Mojack, Zebra Head, Sling Shot and MoBigsley play Friday at Club 369, 1641 N. Placentia Ave., Fullerton. 8 p.m. $6. (714) 572-1816.