On the road, Filthy Jim lives its version of the high life.

Filthy Rich 

On the road, Filthy Jim lives its version of the high life.

Drinking hard, playing hard, touring even harder -- the members of Filthy Jim don't like doing things the easy way. Taking brief respite from a year-long tour during which it has afflicted thirty states and more than a hundred cities, the group will play a few local dates before packing up the Chevy and the U-Haul trailer and heading out again, this time Seattle-bound. Its diligent efforts fit its music -- grimy cock-rock for the working class -- but although Filthy Jim might empathize with other road hogs, it offers no pity in its assessment of the groups it's encountered during its travels.

"It's hard to imagine how many bad bands are out there until you go on tour," guitarist/vocalist Seth Cole says. "It's sad. Ninety-nine percent of them are fucking terrible. We really wish we could hook up with more good bands. It totally makes the difference."

Filthy Jim has managed to share bills with a few underground greats, including Murder City Devils, Royal Trux and The White Stripes. Fans of these groups probably saw a lot of their musical heroes in Filthy Jim's sweaty, drunken delivery, its imposing volume and its unabashed sloppiness. Cole and Filthy Jim's other guitarist/vocalist, Steve Hammond, put their guitars through hell and unleash backwoods fury when they open their mouths, while drummer Paul Brooks' and bassist Troy Richardson's rhythm section slaps brave onlookers into submission. It's old-fashioned rock for rock's sake, done not for the crafting of a profound artistic statement, but because playing shows is preferable to working a nine-to-five job, and because Filthy Jim's members don't seem to know how to do anything else.

And touring the nation is a pretty sweet gig, all things considered. Sure, Filthy Jim endured the tuneless caterwauling of countless craptacular bands, but it could take immediate solace in the type of tawdry spectacles that Behind the Music episodes are made of. "The best was watching two cute girls make out together for CDs," Cole says, recalling the post-gig show at a South Bend, Indiana, house party rife with seedy pleasure. "Basically, the merch guy was a horn-dog. Right after the show, he got them to make out, but wouldn't give them the CDs after he said he would. After they kissed, he tried to get them to feel each other up but they wouldn't do it, so he never gave them the CDs. It was pretty funny. Everyone was drunk and laughing hysterically, including the girls."

Keeping that liquor-fueled, potentially triple-X escapade in mind, it's no surprise that Filthy Jim titled its debut full-length (if a record that zooms through twelve songs in 26 minutes deserves to be called a full-length) Whiskey and Porn. "It's mostly drunken ramblings," Cole admits. "My favorite is 'Sleeper,' which is about a trucker and drug use."

It's an appropriate choice of subjects, because truck driving and/or indulging in narcotics would be more than suitably accompanied by the music this disc provides. Whiskey and Porn should become a jukebox staple at sleazy nudie bars everywhere, although patrons getting $20-a-tune lap dances might feel a little ripped off by Filthy Jim's insistence on brevity. However, Filthy Jim would rather not settle for appearing on record at these establishments. "We would really love to play a show at The Outhouse," Cole says. "Yeah, we know it's a strip club now. Duh, that's why we want to play there."

The band has been on the road for so long that it's odd to imagine there are stages yet to be Jim Filthied (an especially crass euphemism, considering the band's name is slang for a condom that has already served its purpose). Venues remaining on the group's checklist include The Bayou in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; The Continental Room in New York City; the legendary Whiskey-a-Go-Go in Los Angeles; and Breakroom in Seattle. But to hit all these venues, Filthy Jim might have to upgrade its transportation; when the group was returning home from its last trip, the Chevy blew out a tire just fifty miles from Kansas City, which was especially disappointing because the group had opted for that vehicle soon after its previous van bit the dust.

It seems the Chevy might be going the way of Filthy Jim's old, punkier sound (preserved for posterity on its 1998 seven-inch), which it ditched in favor of a fuller garage-rock attack when Hammond joined the group. "You can do a lot more with that extra guitar and vocals," Cole explains. "Steve's vocals really pushed us over."

Filthy Jim's story is complicated, with plenty of turnover in its music and membership since Cole and Brooks founded the group in 1997. But Cole says the group's hard-living history can be summarized in four words: "Whiskey. Down the hatch."

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