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VOL. 6 NO. 2 • FALL + WINTER 2011 • ISSUE 105

INSIDE SELECT COPIES

FREE FLEXI 45 BY THE NOCTURNES! SEE PAGE 41

RAS_G THUNDERCAT FLAMIN GROOVIES R. STEVIE MOORE BRUTAL TRUTH CORRIDOR PORTISHEAD TAV FALCO MOAB AND MORE


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THE FLYTRAPS Janet Housden

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MOAB Ron Garmon

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TAV FALCO Gabe Hart

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THE NOCTURNES Matt Dupree

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BRUTAL TRUTH Adam Beck

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JONWAYNE Lainna Fader

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DJ SHADOW Lainna Fader

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R. STEVIE MOORE Chris Ziegler

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CORRIDOR Dan Collins and Daiana Feuer

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THUNDERCAT Chris Ziegler

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UV POP Howe Strange

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RAS_G Chris Ziegler

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IGGY AZALEA Rebecca Haithcoat

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JACUZZI BOYS Jason Gelt

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PORTISHEAD Kristina Benson

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ZOLA JESUS Daiana Feuer

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FLAMIN GROOVIES Dan Collins and Chris Ziegler

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DEVON WILLIAMS Chris Ziegler

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BRYAN FERRY Oliver Hall IGGY AZALEA by FUNAKI


EDITOR AND PUBLISHER — Chris Ziegler — chris@larecord.com MANAGING EDITOR — Nikki Bazar — nikkib@larecord.com ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER — Kristina Benson — kristina@larecord.com EXECUTIVE EDITOR — Daiana Feuer — daiana@larecord.com NEW MUSIC EDITOR — Dan Collins — danc@larecord.com ARTS EDITOR — Drew Denny — drew@larecord.com COMICS EDITOR — Tom Child — tom@larecord.com FILM EDITOR — Lainna Fader — lainna@larecord.com DESIGNER — Sarah Bennett — sarah@larecord.com EVENTS PRODUCTION — Shannon Cornett with Michael Morin — shannon@larecord.com WEB DESIGNER — Se Reed — se@larecord.com CALENDAR EDITOR — Shane Carpenter — shane@larecord.com INTERN — Trast Knapmiller — intern@larecord.com

ADVERTISING For more information about advertising with L.A. RECORD, please contact us at advertise@larecord.com or call (562) 735-3528. ALBUMS, FILMS, BOOKS, ZINES AND OTHER THINGS FOR REVIEW L.A. RECORD strongly encourages vinyl submissions for review and accepts all physical and digital formats! We also invite submissions by local authors and filmmakers. We review any genre and kind of music and especially try to support local L.A.-area musicians. If you can send digital music, send direct to Dan Collins at danc@larecord.com. For film, contact Lainna Fader at lainna@larecord.com. For zines, contact Sarah Bennett at sarah@larecord.com. For books, contact Nikki Bazar at nikkib@larecord.com. Send physical copies to:

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R. STEVIE MOORE Interview by Chris Ziegler Photography by Aaron Giesel R. Stevie Moore has been home-taping pretty much since audio tape became available, and after an uncompromising and idiosyncratic discography that feels like hundreds of distinct geniuses at work together, he has become the undisputed king of the righteous outsiders. Now R. Stevie says he’s past the DIY thing and into the NPR thing, where documentarians and record labels and websites and magazines are fighting to talk to the guy who never gave up the good fight. Pay the man already! Things are just exploding through the roof lately. It’s all a blur! There’s so many different ones—every day I wake up there’s a new stunning development with a label or something on vinyl. My most exciting thing is L.A.-related: my recordings with Ariel Pink and Jason Faulkner. A dream come true! We’ve only done three songs so far, but they’re huge mega-smash-hit productions thanks to Faulkner. We’re getting all these labels in competition—bidding wars! Is this your first bidding war? We shouldn’t even say that. I’m exaggerating. We could help you generate one! OK—you got my approval. I’ve never been so busy in my life. I’m working so hard and I hate to work, but it’s like a locomotive— nonstop. I can’t step back and enjoy the ride cuz there’s so much work to do. And that’s the major story! Forget the DIY thing, the quality of the music and the diversity—it’s starting to become an NPR-style story of this old guy who’s just getting started! From DIY to NPR? It’s good to be armed with quality content— it’s not just the style. And I do have to deal with the age issue and today’s youth-driven market … ha ha. What long-delayed R. Stevie dreams will come true? Will you do an arena tour and guest host with Terry Gross? There’s so many miniature dreams. There’s no favorite. It’s all about raising awareness— let’s face it! I’m trying my best to promotepromote-promote and be in people’s faces till they bleed! There’s so much desperation because we’re racing the clock at this stage in my life. That’s some brutal candor. That’s me! I’ve really had to become somewhat of a personality. Not just the music and the DIY. I’ve having to entertain with my passion and conviction! I can’t stand mediocrity and I can’t understand why the arts have settled so much over the decades. Everything is accepted. There’s nobody doing anything original or even making an effort to twist and turn and try to be distinctive. The tunnel vision, too—the music thing is always so compartmentalized. Since I was a little boy, my life was a mixtape! I wanted to hear every extreme back to back. You said once that ‘to be a versatile artist is to commit suicide.’ Is that what happens when you’re not sellable? I guess—the way the internet has taken over the world, I don’t think I have anything 6

to worry about to get into the commercial mainstream. I mean, I hate the commercial mainstream! Let’s face it—that’s the ultimate peak! Seeking acceptance means fame and fortune and all the other crap that goes with it. I’m sick of struggling and I’m so egotistical and into my viewpoint here that I feel I have to battle to get anywhere. It’s not as much suicide as it used to be when you had to worry about record labels and hit singles. I’m just floating on my overall resume and philosophy. I still have a teenage head and I’m approaching 60 years old. … But I gotta be proud of my punk arrogance as well! I’ve been beaten up my whole life, just psychologically—it’s a tough thing! The whole underdog thing. I love it and it keeps me going but I’m also sick of having to knock on doors and compete with generation of generation of new kids, and this year that’s all changing! Everywhere I go I’m treated like royalty! It’s a funny joke, but I gotta admit to it—being this professor, this old philosopher from another planet that used to do home recording before their parents were born! What happened? Has the world come crawling back to you? I enjoy going through my rants but that’s not really what I wanna do. I’m a musician and composer. I don’t wanna give speeches on what went wrong with civilization. What did go wrong in civilization? Madonna. Madonna. Madonna. Madonna. Madonna. ... She’s just the ultimate poster boy for style over content. She was the expert manipulator, so she put herself to the very top. It’s the public I should blame, not her! That’s when it just became a dancefloor sensation, and there’s no songwriting or ability to play an instrument—not that that’s the end all, and if you can do it in a studio with a DJ mixmaster, go for it! There’s nothing wrong with that. I love all music, but that just cemented the teen-pop thing forever. I loved when Nevermind hit cuz that blew the roof off of it, although not for long. Though I am enjoying this twenty-year anniversary. Boy, did I love Cobain! I guess I loved him so much—like other people—that it killed him for me to love him so much. He just wasn’t prepared for all that. To become a spokesman and all that. You said you’ve been a slave to music since 1955. What records drew you off the simple path and forever prevented you from becoming an investment banker? I hate dealing with the preponderance of people having ‘favorites’ or ‘firsts.’ I can’t re-

member! ‘Who’s your favorite?’ I like them all! This isn’t a sporting event with number one, number two and so on. ‘We wanna know the record that was most important to your career.’ Well, I have no idea what that is! It’s all of the above, always. The obvious influences are there—Beatles, Beach Boys, Zappa, Captain Beefheart. Are those the ‘idea people’ you say rock ‘n’ roll needs more of? Ideas? Conceptually or musically or … I’ll take any ideas. It’s all about being creative. Sometimes it seems like we’ve ‘run out of ideas’ as a race of humans, but that can’t be true. People get dragged into nostalgia, or try to put two or three things together and make that new, and that’s better than not creating at all, and yet … I don’t know. When I hear a record, I want surprise. There’s gotta be a lot of listeners out there that have never heard this kind of stuff as much as I have, so they don’t need surprises. But I’m just desperate for surprises. Very impatient with mediocrity. Are ideas finite? Sometimes things come fast, sometimes things come slow. I don’t worry about it being finite. I don’t deal with writer’s block as seriously as I used to. I don’t worry about it. I’m tooting my own horn here, but by this time of my career, I’ve developed an almost automatic King Midas touch! When I do pick up an acoustic guitar, I might not come out with a complete brilliant masterpiece— that’s my main problem, I’m not able to complete things. … But I love my little unfinished shards. They’re all unique. It’s like classical music. You can come up with an impressive unique riff or chord progression and even if it’s incomplete, at least it’s there. There’s no mediocrity. I can’t believe I have this gift of not ever settling. That’s why I get so impatient with a lot of mediocre recording artists over the decades. Who was this Uncle Harry who got you started? He helped you make that very first record. He had great ears and he was of the perfect generation—he was ten years older than me. When I was 15, he was 25 and he knew all about the New York music industry and he was in a great progressive acid rock band from Boston. Ford Theatre, named after John Wilkes Booth. They had two albums on ABC Records, and just kinda imploded—they started to build a following, but the label didn’t supply the merchandise in the cities they were playing and blah-blah-blah. It’s great stuff,

though—seek it out! He was the exception to the rule because I was stuck in Nashville in this middle-class family upbringing because my father was making all this money doing these amazing Nashville hit record sessions, but we didn’t have any kind of relationship hardly at all. I was just a normal growing-upin-the-60s school kid, but just blown away by all the music that was happening in that amazing decade. And Uncle Harry was the only one besides myself that shared that, and he was always supportive, and once I started sending him reel-to-reel tapes, he was blown away. … The home recording thing, it used to be such a dilemma. ‘These are fantastic tapes but they sound terrible! There’s nothing I can do with them. I know somebody who’d be great to plug something with, but we’d have to go into a studio.’ And I hardly ever did. I couldn’t afford to, I didn’t know how to coordinate it—ironic, since I’m in the middle of Nashville, Tennessee. I just did the best I could do with what I had, which was tape recorders. What did people around you think when you showed up one day with 100 copies of your own LP? That was really rare back then. Friends dug ’em! My only friends were my musical friends. They never did what I did, as far as the creation of songwriting and playing all the instruments. Otherwise, nobody heard about Phonography! It’s only in retrospect now that people have gone back to it and said something about it now. The big break came cuz—and again this was Uncle Harry who knew Ira Robbins, the head of Trouser Press, who reviewed it in 1977. And the rest is history! We never went deep into advertising budgets or promotion—there was just no money. Did you sneak them into the stacks at the Sam Goody you worked at? I did that! Sam Goody even carried the HP catalog for a time. So are uncaring ex-mallrats in New Jersey sitting on rare original pressings of Phonography at this very moment? I’m sure! What do you want most and how can we help you get it? Acknowledgement. Parentheses—bank deposits. R. STEVIE MOORE’S ADVANCED LP IS OUT NOW ON 2000 RECORDS. VISIT R. STEVIE MOORE AT RSTEVIEMOORE.COM. INTERVIEW


CORRIDOR

Interview by Dan Collins and Daiana Feuer Photography by Grace Oh

Every rainbow owes its existence to a rain cloud, and that dark space between the two is filled by Corridor’s music. As Corridor, Michael Quinn has just released his second album, Real Late, with Manimal Vinyl. It’s heavy, intense stuff that wields a fine metal edge to reveal something beautiful. We went into Quinn’s house and sat him on the couch between L.A. RECORD’s Dan Collins and Daiana Feuer to simulate the kind of claustrophobic intimacy that brings human nature bubbling to the surface. DF: When you go to a strip bar do you put the money in a woman’s underwear or do you just watch? I just throw it onstage. DC: Is that disrespectful? People have different terms for what’s respectful strip club etiquette. I don’t really want to touch anyone unless it’s extremely necessary. Maybe it’s disrespectful to throw money at someone’s feet, but I also don’t feel comfortable just sticking money in a stranger’s underwear. DF: Which one is more disrespectful? It’s a question for the ages and I’m definitely not the right person to try to answer. If I could, I would steam it flat and gently place it down on a little pillow but I don’t have that kind of time. DC: Which of your songs would be best for someone to strip to? I guess it depends if you’re doing some kind of intense power dance or if you’re trying to do some graceful pole-sliding. DF: Which one do you like better? I find pole-sliding impressive. ‘C.I.T.M.’ on my new record is a kind of piano industrial ballad. That would be a good one to get down with but also be very graceful with. DC: The first Corridor record was very clean but it had lot of ferocious technical activity. Is that different on the new record, Real Late? As far as ferocious technical approach, it’s definitely been pulled back a bit. The first record was more my own self-discovery of what I was capable of doing. It turned into what it turned into and was released. As the virgin release for Corridor—I mean, this is the only project that I’ve written, sang and played everything for. My history as a musician until this was as a drummer for ten years. I never did anything outside of that. I wanted to write a record where I played all the instruments I could play to the best of my ability. I wasn’t trying to be grandiose or over-the-top, but I wanted to make something with every ounce of my being. I’m not showing off or being pompous. DF: When did you learn all these instruments? I’ve been playing guitar as long as I’ve been drumming, sixteen years. Cello has only been five or six years. I’m not classically trained. DF: I imagined you playing in a school band. Not at all. I bought that off a roommate who was moving and taught myself. INTERVIEW

DC: Do you listen to classical cello music? Some I do. I’m not authority on it. I have a lot of friends who are so I don’t even bother trying to assume I know anything. DF: You have a lot of friends that are authorities on cello music? Let’s put it this way: I have more than four, which is a lot. I’ve played with people who are classically trained. I honestly feel like I’m insulting them. I can see in their eyes, them judging my technique. It’s definitely their problem. But I respect where they’re coming from. It is an art form. But some of my favorite musicians aren’t schooled but just made sense of the instrument and made it what they want it to be. DC: Isn’t that what rock ‘n’ roll is at its best, a bastardization? Absolutely. I just happen to make music with classical elements so I get lumped in with the genre. It’s cello, but it’s not ‘classical.’ It’s ‘avantgarde.’ DF: What was the first song you learned to play? I got a guitar in seventh grade and I would learn everything from Minor Threat to all the songs on Ride the Lightning on guitar and same with drums. It all stemmed off this adolescent shit. I grew up in a rural city, a kind of shitty area in Massachusetts called Brockton. It’s an old industrial city that got everything taken away from it and it just became sort of like Detroit, though not as bad. The businesses were gone, there was a lot of poverty and crime. It wasn’t the greatest place to grow up. It wasn’t in touch with ‘the now.’ It was very suburban. The music I could access was very technical, intense stuff—very hard and fast. I didn’t grow up listening to the Beatles or Rolling Stones. It wasn’t in my house. My brother and sister liked 80s hair bands. Everything I heard had a face-melting solo, from any room in the house. So that’s what I came to know as music. It wasn’t until later in life I realized this represented only a small percentage of music. But it’s how I learned to play, and the records I heard as a kid turned into what I do now. Once you push yourself that hard, it’s hard to regress. I try to hold back. DF: You hold back the impulse to shred. I don’t sit around in my room anymore trying to melt people’s faces off. But I’m interested in time and space in music. The space that is in music to be filled. When I’m writing, I listen to all the empty space where things can

go and I think, ‘Well, if I have the possibility to put something there rather than not, I will try to do that tastefully.’ Or un-tastefully sometimes. DC: You’ve managed to make an extreme form of music that is not reliant upon the way metal went—where it’s all demon voices and fast and loud as possible. I come from that format of music. There’s so many kinds of heavy music in the Northeast that weren’t metal or hardcore. Lightning Bolt is a good example. I grew up hearing that band. They’re heavy technically and crazy but they’re not really metal. They don’t sound like Slayer. I grew up in an artistic time with heavy music. There weren’t really boundaries. You could still be heavy and crazy and mosh and trash the place. The music I make now comes from that. I was molded a certain way to begin with. I would like to pretend to fight that stuff but I don’t have the ability to fake it. The honest truth about my music is that this is what comes out of me without any premeditation or boundary. But, of course, the music is definitely orchestrated. I have to compile and do it piece by piece. DF: You created this music entirely yourself in order to play it by yourself. Why are you now playing it live with a band? There was a sort of romanticism to starting Corridor as the anti-band. It was like flying a space ship—one false move and the whole thing collapses and crashes. I learned to do it from playing awful shows. It wasn’t even trialand-error. I was just learning from error, and then eventually it got good. But after six years of it, I feel like I’ve hit the ceiling with that. I’ve conquered that aspect of this project. DC: One of your new songs is called ‘Rebuilding My Internal World.’ Is this album more personal? It’s definitely more introspective. I wanted to make the album more accessible and to do that, I had to focus more internally on what I thought accessible meant. These songs are actually influenced by experience. The first one was more for everyone and this one is more for me. There’s a paradox, I know. I wasn’t up there shaking my ass, just a guy sitting onstage. It was bare bones: ‘I’m here for you to listen to, not to be entertained by.’ Now that I’m trying to entertain people by giving them something they can relate to, I have to reverse everything. I have to dig into a place that’s more personal, like a diary.

DC: Isn’t it weird that the personal is more universal? If someone in a dark place, darker than I’ve ever been, gets a moment of relief from listening to my record … There are plenty of records that I listen to because they relate to how I’m feeling when I don’t want to feel better. If don’t want to get out of the dark place, I just want that misery loves company feeling. DF: Why do you feel this way? Why does your dark side come out in music? The easiest answer is that I have to go out in the world and be an approachable person and I have to do the things I have to do for basic functioning in life. The one time I can be at ease and feel how I want to feel without judgment is when I create music. When I sit down to write music, I’m not trying to get people on a dance floor. It’s not happy or sad but it’s this tonality. It’s not to bring anyone down. I know the both of you, and we’re sitting in my house, and we’re fucking around a little bit, but to truly answer your questions I have to step outside of myself. This isn’t an artist rant but it’s more like an alter ego. This [points to himself] is all the performance and this [points to CD] is all that’s real. This is my attempt to exist the way I would like to exist. I would rather exist on record than in real life. DC: I do feel that your music is very real but the ability to be purely on record is an illusion. It is an illusion but it’s no more an illusion than reality, I’d say. We’re all an illusion. I don’t think anyone’s really real unless they’re alone. I’m not trying to sound spiritual or melodramatic. I’m really not. I’m really boring and normal. DF: I don’t think you have enough shirts and shoes to be normal. But you do like to watch News Radio, which is very normal. DC: You’re getting all dark on us but I feel you’re moving in very human directions. I can only look at myself in the mirror and think I’m normal. But I’m sure most people think I’m somewhat different. I’m not saying I’m not human. I’m as human as you or her. Music can be taken too seriously and literally. I take it too seriously and I take myself too seriously. But I have to find a balance between being serious with what I do and not being arrogant about it. I love what I do. CORRIDOR’S REAL LATE IS OUT NOW ON MANIMAL. VISIT CORRIDOR AT MYSPACE.COM/EASTCORRIDOR. 9


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UV POP Interview by Howe Strange Illustration by Luke McGarry

John White has been UV POP since the 80s, and he’s gone from being a gaunt youth hunched over a guitar with only backing tapes behind him to being in a full band that has his wife as a member, but he’s never stopped. The first two LPs go for over $100 on Discogs, but John doesn’t see any of that—he’s just a humble boy from the small mining town of Doncaster who repairs guitars, eats weird stuff and plays what he wants how he wants to studio audiences in his kitchen. Sacred Bones just reissued the first UV POP 7” from 1982, and will be reissuing the first LP, No Songs Tomorrow, early next year. Tell me about your first foray into music—the I Scream Brothers. John White: We were a three-piece working from Sheffield. I’m from Doncaster—which is fifteen miles away—an industrial mining town on the outskirts of Sheffield. … The I Scream Brothers were guys I’d met just from being in local music scene. We got together to make some tracks and we did a recording for the Pax record label from Sheffield—an anti-war track and something else for them. They were really a punk record label, but they put out our first single, ‘Tree Growing Wrong’/‘Avoid the Surgery.’ We went in different directions very early. We broke up after about nine months. I was going in an experimental direction, where they wanted to make sort of pop music. What bands were influencing you toward the experimental direction? JW: Bands like early Human League, Cabaret Voltaire, and the German bands—the Krautrock bands. The Sheffield scene: Clock DVA, and friends of mine called In the Nursery. They were experimenting with marching drums and industrial rhythms and film music. Did you feel like part of that ‘Sheffield scene’? JW: Definitely. I was playing in Sheffield in the early 80s. The bands around that were playing at the time were In the Nursery, and Pulp, who went on to do great things in the U.K. pop scene, you know. And lots of small experimental bands. I was heavily influenced by Cabaret Voltaire, and they produced the first UV POP single, which is the one coming out on Sacred Bones. I went in to their studio and they put plenty of input into the single. They encouraged me to do what I wanted to do but they didn’t try to mold what we were doing. They said, ‘What do you want to do?’ and they recorded it, and they made it sound exciting. They wanted people to be themINTERVIEW

selves in their studio. They weren’t a commercial studio. They didn’t do it for money, they were encouraging people who wanted to be creative. … While we were there they were showing films constantly while we were recording. They were showing things like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. What about Texas Chainsaw Massacre can you hear in that single? JW: Me screaming, probably. And then you started work on your first LP, No Songs Tomorrow? JW: Yes. I bought some equipment with the money I made out of the first single, and decided to record it in my own home. I bought a 4-track tape recorder because I heard that the Beatles had done their album on 4-track, so I thought, ‘Well, anybody can do that then.’ So I put my gear up in the kitchen and recorded it in the house on my own. I played all the instruments. It was just the way to be. You could do what you liked, spend as much time as you liked doing it, and you weren’t paying somebody else to do it. I didn’t have a lot of money at the time, so No Songs Tomorrow was a very homegrown product. There seems like two very different angles on that record: the experimental, abrasive sound and the more songwriting-ish stuff. JW: At the time, I was definitely torn between two sides. I enjoyed listening to the post-punk/pop music of the day—bands like the Psychedelic Furs and the Cure. And then on the other side, I was listening to Cabaret Voltaire, SPK, Einstürzende Neubauten, DAF—people like that. I like all kinds of music so I wanted to be involved in everything, really. I didn’t really know what direction I was going to follow in the end. I was trying to be creative and not have any boundaries. If I wake up today and want to write a jangly pop song, that’s fine. And if at 12 o’clock at night I wanted to start mak-

ing noise with a drum kit in my cellar and scream into a microphone, I didn’t feel like I had to be restricted to one kind of style. I was making it for myself; I wasn’t making it for an audience. … When the thing was finished, I split it into two halves and put the jangly pop stuff on the A-side and the more experimental, industrial-sounding stuff on the B-side. It sounded better being presented in that way, that’s all. I would have happily just put it in any order, but people do like to categorize things. It’s better to have something that you can put a label on sometimes. I read that you wrote ‘No Songs Tomorrow’ after killing a bird? JW: When I was a teenager, I used to go out with a bunch of lads, we were into motorbikes and, you know, hanging around. A few of them had air rifles and we’d go out and just shoot at targets—tin cans and things, and one day a couple of us were shooting at pigeons and I shot a bird in a tree. I wasn’t very good at shooting, but I hit this bird and there was a big thwack and this thing just fell off its perch and fell on the floor. I was really upset, you know. I couldn’t believe I’d done it afterwards. So safe to say you’re not a hunter now? JW: If I was hungry I might kill a rabbit or a chicken, but I don’t go around shooting defenseless sparrows off of people’s garden fences anymore. Are you a vegetarian? I was a vegetarian in the 80s, but I didn’t sit with it very long … I got over it meself. I’ll eat anything. I went to China last year and I was eating chickens’ feet and fishes’ eyeballs. I will eat absolutely anything. As long as it’s got a label that says ‘some kind of food’ on it, I will try it. Christ, I can even eat olives. If you can eat olives, I think you can eat anything. What’s the most disgusting thing you’ve ever eaten?

JW: Probably a plateful of tripe—raw tripe. In England, it’s a bit of a Northern working-class thing. It’s sort of dying out these days. Vinegar and pepper, and you just eat it raw. It’s foul. In those early days, were you playing a lot of gigs around town? JW: I was playing in Europe—Manchester, London, Sheffield—probably playing two or three times a week. I was making my own backing tapes. I was playing a drum machine and a bass guitar and a keyboard into a tape recorder and then using that as a backing track, and playing guitar and singing live. … I played with Hula, In the Nursery, Culture Club, Nico … Did you hang out with Boy George? JW: Yes! Not in a sexual way. We did have a bit of a natter in the day. He was a really lovely guy—quite a big guy—and he looked after me at the club, helped me with the soundcheck. He was a really nice guy—a genuine sort of bloke. … [Culture Club] weren’t really famous at the time. Although they were number one in the charts the week that I’d played with them, prior to that they were virtually unknown in the U.K. They almost came out of nowhere. Was fame something you were after, or something you could take or leave? JW: Something I could take or leave, really. All I wanted to do was be creative and please myself. I’m quite selfish in that way. I make music for myself—that’s what I’ve always done and I still do to this day. I’m not saying I’m not interested in an audience, but I make things to make me happy. What’s the most interesting interaction you’ve ever had with an audience member? JW: I played at Bath University one day, and somebody pulled me off the stage. I’m quite keen on photography so I was showing slides on the back of the stage and the audience was shouting at me, telling me that I was being self-indulgent and conceited and I got really 13


annoyed with them. I mean, I’m at a fucking art college and you’re calling me self-indulgent? And this guy got a hold of me hand while I was singing at the front and pulled me down to the floor and we were wrestling on the floor. … Just students having a go. Which is what you want. If you don’t provoke any reaction at all, you’re not leaving an impression, are you? If people don’t respond to you in any way whatsoever then you’re not doing anything positive, are you? An aggressive reaction—I like that! What was the recording process like for your second full-length, Bendy Baby Man? JW: Bendy Baby Man was recorded in my daughter’s bedroom while she was at school. We programmed the drums with a computer, and then we played our instruments over the top. … We had neighbors on both sides, so we couldn’t use a drum kit—we had to use a drum machine. I demoed all the songs previously, so people were playing the parts that I’d written. It was just an extension of No Songs Tomorrow really. It didn’t go down as well as the first album. … It did get quite a negative response, that album. I think, at the time, the songs weren’t given the production they needed. We play some of those songs now, and they’re really strong songs, but when I recorded them in the house, it probably didn’t bring out their full potential. … My first album got really positive reviews everywhere, and the second album basically bombed, if you like. Many a mickle makes a muckle, as they say. … The album was done on a very low budget. It cost less than 200 pounds to make. And the album reviewers, they were comparing it to the Cure album and the Psychedelic Furs album, and the Talking Heads album, that were probably costing half a million pounds. We were spending peanuts. What is a bendy baby man? JW: The song was about a friend of mine who was having an affair with a woman called Wendy. I wanted to write a song about his affair without blowing his cover, or anybody else’s. So I called his girlfriend Bendy Baby Man, and then we wrote a song around it called ‘Turkey Bones.’ … He was a businessman, and people who knew him regarded him as a bit of a turkey, a bit of a no-hoper. A turkey is like a loser. What is that first song about—‘Music to Yeah To’? JW: I think of it as one of UV POP’s ‘hits.’ It’s about dreaming, and me being in charge of things. It’s about me being in control of my band, and it’s about things you see in your dreams. Combined imagery. The thing about turning black is about—you know those dreams you have where you become somebody else, and you become, say, Afro-Caribbean, and you’re seeing things from the other side where people are treating you a totally different way because you look differently, even though you’re the same person? That’s part of the song, and the other one is I was having a bit of dissent in my band at the time and the ‘captain’ part of the song is me trying to assert my authority. … That was Mark Smith, Rob Jeffrey, Neil Bonsall and Colin Vale. It was probably the first full band. 14

Tony Nicholson (bass): A band is not a democracy, it’s like a benign dictatorship. … If you have a democracy, a band tends to not really work that well. … I think you have to agree—you know, somebody has an idea and everyone’s kind of like, ‘Yeah, that’s a good idea.’ And then, within the realms of them agreeing with the idea—you know, you can make suggestions, but ultimately one person has to make a decision whether it goes or not. So John is like the Margaret Thatcher of the band? JW: Adolf Hitler. TN: I think you missed out on the benign dictatorship part. Who’s a worse model? JW: I don’t think Margaret Thatcher exterminated six million—that would have to be the worse one. But I would say she’s a close second. On their website, Sacred Bones sort of touts you as a political band. Does that fit? JW: There was a definite period in the 80s and 90s when there was a lot of political unrest in the U.K., and we wrote about the government at the time. Songs like ‘Ghost Bloody Country’ was about Margaret Thatcher’s government in the 80s, and how she sort of wore the working-class down and fought the trade unions with the army and the police. And we wrote an anti-war song called ‘Just a Game.’ I wouldn’t say we were heavily political, but we have had our political elements, because you write about what you know about. If I wake up and I’m seeing the news and the miners are being beaten with clubs by the police, then I’m going to write something about it. What’s the sexiest UV POP song? JW: I don’t think we do sexy. Maybe ‘Do What You Like.’ That’s quite sexy. Or ‘Anyone For Me.’ You can work that one out, I’m sure. Looking out the window, fancying your neighbors, the women in the street. That song was me looking out the window and eyeing up the local females. Bringing all sorts of political elements into the song as well. So checking out girls and making it political? TN: Looking at girls and singing about power stations. JW: Huge chimneys, there you go. So what was going on in the 90s? UV POP suddenly got quiet … JW: What happened in the 90s was I became a family man, and I took a little bit of time out to bring up my children. I worked in a power station, I was a lorry driver, I worked in a music shop. I build guitars and I’m a guitar repairer now—that’s what I do for a living. I’ve had proper jobs all my life, really. What did you do at the power station? JW: I was the bloke in charge of operating the boiler and the turbine. Did you ever have the temptation to just pull some switch and have the whole thing malfunction, so that your local people could have some peace and quiet away from technology? JW: No, I’ve never been inclined to wreck the public services or utilities that we have come to rely on. The world leaders, governments and capitalists are more than capable

of doing that without any help from me. Technology has put fantastic creative tools into the hands of ordinary people—I can do things at home now with music and film that would have cost tens or possibly hundreds of thousands of pounds—but at school we were told that technology would free the working classes from manual labor and the 48-hour week and we would have more leisure time and money to spend— now we have 10 percent unemployment, first-time buyer’s housing that no one can afford, and banks that won’t even lend mortgages to people who are in employment. Do the banks really have our money? You can still have a guy with, say, a £100 million yacht alongside someone with no food, running water or sanitation. Doesn’t really make a lot of sense does it? So much for progress. What’s the smallest number of people you’ve ever played to? JW: Seven people. I drove 350 miles to Exeter on the south coast of the U.K., and there were seven people there. And there were bands on from Exeter at the same time and there was nobody there to see them at all. So we didn’t do bad, really. … I’ve done soundchecks in my house for people who wanted to see the band, but couldn’t make a show for some reason or another. If you came here now and said, ‘Play me a concert,’ I would play you a concert. … The podcasts we do, we always have a studio audience in my kitchen. We get between 15 and 30 people in there. It’s quite a small kitchen so it makes for a good show. Have you ever been to Los Angeles? JW: I’ve been to Houston. So your impression of the States is based on Houston? JW: Where’s Hollywood? Is that in Los Angeles? I don’t know. It’s just a place where people live. I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other about Los Angeles. Sounds like a nice place to live. What would someone come to Doncaster for? JW: I’ve never lived anywhere else. We live where we were born. It’s a mining area— heavy industry. Sheffield steel is made just up the road. What would be the best UV POP song to have to listen to over and over again if you were trapped in a mine? JW: I think most people would rather be trapped in a mine than be forced to listen to one of UV POP’s songs over and over again. How do you deal with fans who still want to see you on stage by yourself with some backing tracks and a guitar? JW: The release coming out on Sacred Bones is 30 years old, and the upcoming podcast we are going to recreate that sound with synthesizers, drum machines, saxophones. But these days we go out as a band and people generally accept what we do as entertaining. We still play some of the old songs, but they’ve been developed over the years into a band format, and people are happy to listen to that. The songs are good. It’s not a question about the songs, it’s the way we deliver

them now. … We always go down well wherever we go, so we don’t even think about it these days. The people who want the old stuff, the people who were into the band in the 80s—the dark wave/industrial scene—they’re still fans, it’s just, I wouldn’t say they are locked in the past, but they enjoy what they liked when they were teenagers, and cling on to that. We’ve sort of moved on as performers, because I’m not 20 anymore. I can’t behave like a 20-year-old, it’s just a ridiculous concept to me to be trying to recreate what I did 30 years ago. What is it you think you ‘outgrew’? JW: At the age of 21, I was married with a son. We tried to find some common ground for a five-year period, but we didn’t even know about love. My wife left me. I was 25 and had just started playing guitar. Our break-up gave me something to write about for the first time in my life. I’d been in a couple of bands, but was never confident or pushy enough to contribute to the songwriting. Eventually I started to record my own ideas and then decided to have a go as a solo act. I was terrible at first, but I was developing as a person. Gaining confidence in my own ability and starting to make important decisions for myself. So the decision to become a solo artist wasn’t optional, there was nothing else on the table. I did improve, then people wanted to come on board so I let them. I was being accepted and I felt good about it. I went on a solo tour in Holland in the early 80s, had a great time and went down really well at every show. It was a little bit lonely but I think it was a big part of my cure. … These days I’m happy, confident and not bothered at all about what anyone thinks of me. What’s the most ‘science fiction’ experience you’ve ever had? JW: I regularly see people in my bedroom, say if I wake up in the early hours or the lucid period as you’re dropping off. I can sit up and they don’t go away—your stereotypical ghost-like figures, kneeling, praying, standing around in groups … I don’t believe in ghosts and I’m an atheist as well, fortunately, so I’m not scared as such. I imagine that people who do actually believe in ghosts must be having the same hallucinations—if that’s what they are. … Wait a minute though, what if they are visitors from the future? Do you watch ghost shows on TV? JW: I don’t watch TV ever. I watch films. I like quirky, left-field stuff, you know. Things that you don’t necessarily have to know what it’s going off about. … Also, anything with Paddy Considine in it. Given a Venn diagram containing Boy George, Paddy Considine and John White, what would be the label of the area where all the circles intersect? JW: The male rape scene where everyone ends up stabbed to death? THE REISSUE OF UV POP’S “JUST A GAME” B/W “NO SONGS TOMORROW” IS OUT NOW ON SACRED BONES. VISIT UV POP AT UVPOP. CO.UK. INTERVIEW


Ig A

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Iggy Azalea

Interview by Rebecca Haithcoat Photography by Funaki

In her videos for ‘Pu$$y’ and ‘Two Times,’ Iggy Azalea is intimidating. The 21-year-old Australian rapper, who grew up in a tiny town but moved to the U.S. by herself when she was 16, is glamazon tall with Snow White skin and baby-blond hair slicked back into a ponytail that hangs halfway down her back. Of course, she’s also suggestively licking ice cream and superimposing cartoon cats on her crotch. But in person, she’s self-deprecating and giddily girlish, peppering her animated storytelling with dramatic voices. Her debut mixtape, Ignorant Art (a nod to Basquiat), was released the last week of September, and she has just one request: Will people please stop comparing her to Kreayshawn? How many ice creams did you go through for the ‘Pu$$y’ video? Oh my god—eight. It was a lemon sorbet—disgusting. After the first take, I asked if I could have a different ice cream and of course they said no cuz of continuity. I wasn’t even swallowing it by the end of it, just spitting it out. I was just listening to ‘Drop That Shit’ from the mixtape. Have you been to any strip clubs in L.A.? Oh yeah. We call it ‘Ming Lee’s Asian Fantasy.’ We went to Déjà Vu at 4 AM, and it seemed like they really didn’t care to be strippers. Someone got thrown, like, four dollars. It was so bad it was funny. In the South, we go to strip clubs a LOT—we go to eat chicken wings; it’s nothing weird. They were very skinny here, and gave us fruit punch. One girl texted for half her set and got, like, two dollars. They didn’t know any moves! And their underpants were from Target. If you’re a stripper, I expect you to have a costume made out of Lycra. She was in her period panties! Why the name Iggy Azalea? It was my dog’s name when I was a kid, and he was badass. He used to go around and get in fights with all the other dogs. I used to try to rap with my real name [Amethyst], but it just doesn’t rhyme; it has too many letters. My grandpa was telling me there is this science behind the perfect stage name. It has to have a certain number of syllables. Have you ever battle rapped? Yep. And I lost. I didn’t start wanting to be a battle rapper, but I come from a town where’s there’s nowhere to record so if you wanted to be a rapper, you had to catch a bus to go to battle raps or open mics, and it would always be both. So you would do both because you want to be up there as much as you could. I’d be the only girl, and I would definitely lose and get booed EVERY single time. I was so bad! Once a guy said to me, ‘You have a vagina and you’re on your period.’ After I choked, I was like, ‘Well, I NEVAH!’ And I didn’t know what to say, I lost and I got booed heaps. I was crap. I was 14. So what did you do instead? They let me perform at the school dance. I got booed at that, too. I lost my voice, and everybody was like, ‘Your show was OK, but your mic cut out halfway through.’ No, I lost my voice cuz I was practicing so hard! I did like seven songs, which was probably too many now that I think about it, but I was like, ‘This is my concert.’ Someone filmed it, and when I watched it, people were talking: ‘She fucking sucks.’ I muted it, and dubbed my songs over it so it looked like everybody loved me, and put it on MySpace. I started going to competitions. There’d be a lot of festivals where a little local group would perform, and I’d do a song. They’d 17


“The Illuminati helped wherever they could.”

have little awards. I never would win, but I’d think, ‘Why didn’t I win best costume? I had the best costume! I can’t even win best costume?’ Like what? So this is when the Pussycat Dolls were popular, and they had those jackets with the words on the top. And I wanted words on my clothes. I remember cutting out stencils and spray painting it onto my jacket and my jeans. I did it on my mom’s path, and I didn’t put enough newspaper down so I spray painted her path gold. She was realllly pissed. She was like, ‘I got these tiles imported from Indonesia!’ And no best costume! And I didn’t even win best costume. I was certain! One, my grandma sewed these clothes for me. They were an original design. Two, they had gold words! How could I lose? And I had a grill! Why did you feel isolated in high school? Nobody where I lived liked hip-hop. I already didn’t have friends cuz I would get teased for wearing weird shit and making my own outfits and thinking that was some next-level shit. Or I would do dress-ups. In elementary school, I would get my friends or my little sister to paint our faces and walk through town past all the adults and say, ‘Yeah, Rebecca’s birthday party is gonna be so fun.’ I know they were all like, ‘This bitch. She does this every month. What dress-up party is she going to? There are 2,000 people in this town!’ People thought I was weird cuz of that, but I just had too much time on my hands. So how did you fund coming to America when you were 16? I worked, I saved, the Illuminati helped wherever they could. No, I’ve been working since I was 13, and I never spent my money cuz we lived in a town where there was nothing to spend your money on. I worked a cleaning job, and my mom suggested I register my own business. You can work as a contractor and get paid whatever you wanna get paid. I dropped out of high school six months before I came, so I had saved up about $4,000. I told my mom I was going on holiday. And she said no. INTERVIEW

Yeah, so I told her my friend from Sydney’s family lived in Miami—which is true— and we were going to stay with them. But my friend wasn’t really going with me. My mom found out I’d dropped out of school, and that I was really sad and had no friends, so she said I could go. But you know how when you’re about to do something really big, and before you do it you start thinking, ‘What the fuck am I doing?’ I had the ticket, though, so I went. My mom’s godmother is American and lives in L.A., and she came to LAX to help me switch terminals. I was scared! I didn’t know if they would even let me in. I made my step dad, who works for Qantas Airlines, get the forms and help me fill them out before I left. I made someone escort me off the plane like a fucking kid to go through customs. What did you do once you got through customs? I got to Miami, and I did see my friend’s family. I was just happy to be here. I always wanted to come to America, even before I wanted to rap. It was my dream when I was a kid: I would move to America, have a convertible, lots of dogs, and a long leopard skin coat—cuz I used to wear leopard skin EVERYthing, velvet leopard skin cuz of Scary Spice; I would have my grandma make me outfits. I would have lots of dogs on one leash, wear my leopard skin coat, and walk them. And my name would be Jane or Quinn, off of Daria, because I hated my name. When I first saw a car with rims in Miami—an Escalade spraypainted to look like the ocean, with coral—I thought it was fucking cool. We were at the gas station, and I just freaked out. The guy was so embarrassed. There was this theater that had an arcade in it and it was done up like a pyramid. I thought it was fuckin’ crazy! Everybody was like, ‘Uh, it’s a cinema.’ But I thought it was insane. I didn’t even see the beach in Miami till I moved away and came back, and I lived there a year. We would sit on the porch with a bunch of Jamaicans and rap for each other. My boyfriend didn’t want me to hang out with them. They ended up robbing my apartment and my boyfriend broke up with me. I moved from Miami after that. To Atlanta?

No, Houston. This producer saw my music on MySpace and said if I were ever in Houston to hit him up and I could have some of his beats. So after all that in Miami, I didn’t know where to go cuz nobody wanted to work with me. I decided to go to Houston for the weekend and work with that guy. I went and never left. I only stayed for eight months cuz Hurricane Ike came and ruined my apartment. Everybody there was gonna go to Atlanta cuz they said it was where the music industry was moving. This whole time, did you have other jobs? Yeah, we [she and her assistant, Shawna] have a hair business. It’s online. I’ve always had long hair; mine’s not a wig. I’m a foreign investor. She earns and I invest. We went to Thailand together. It’s not as glamorous as it looks. You’ll go through alleys, and a lot of the hair will have lice in it, or be gray. You have a veneer of having seen it all, but in person you’re just so ebullient. It’s sorta like I had to be like that. Everybody tells you no! No, no, no, no, no, no, NO so much. It makes you … not tough like you have a knife in your pocket, but just more like a man. People always said I just should model. And they hadn’t even heard my music! Mind you, it was shit at the time, but fuck, give me a chance. You have more in common with older female rappers—or maybe Nicki Minaj at the beginning of her career. Yeah, now she wants to be a Harajuku Barbie. My videos weren’t always sexual, and people would say it was going to take me, like, six years longer because of that. Fuck off, if I’m going to do it, I’ll do it how I want to do it. That’s why I did the ‘Two Times’ video like that [with cats on her crotch]—I was mocking it. If I want to be sexual, I’ll be it in my own way and be funny. I’m not doing it in a man’s version of what women’s sexuality is allowed to be, which I personally think is bullshit and most of the time demeaning. I’m not going to rap in a video with lingerie on and my ass out for WorldStarHipHop. People will think I’m a prostitute and that I want to be a video vixen. And you’ve been working seriously since you were 17. That’s why it drives me crazy when people say, ‘She just put out her video in February

and it just blew up!’ No, it didn’t: I had to move countries, be here in this country for like six years with everybody telling me to fuck off, and put out a video that nobody gave a fuck about, and then Perez Hilton puts it on his site and everybody cares. But it wasn’t a fluke or overnight. My career didn’t start a year ago. I had to fight to prove that I’m good enough for a long time. So you’re prepared for all the inevitable hate. It sucks—no one wants to be hated. But I’m used to it. I’m sure I’ll get booed many more times in life but I’ll also get love letters, too. Do you feel like these are your last days of peace and quiet? I get really paranoid about it. Nothing is guaranteed. People say I just have to ride the wave now, but I don’t really know. I haven’t made it, I still have to put out content and be consistent. I don’t have a record deal or a visa. Hip-hop is competitive. I only hear Nicki and Kreayshawn on the radio— they’re the only ones with videos and projects out. It’s like hip-hop is the husband, and there can only be one wife. Everybody else is like, ‘Get the fuck off my man!’ Being a girl, you feel that you wanna be the only one. But you don’t want to be number one by default. I wanna be the best, but I don’t wanna drag anybody through the mud. There used to be a lot more women. There did. But never—and I know you don’t want to be classified as such—many white female rappers. Even if there was a brilliant white female rapper ten years ago, I’m sure they wouldn’t have put it out because they didn’t think it was profitable. So one happened to fluke it, and the media’s like, ‘Ahhhh! That’s profitable!’ People say, ‘Oh, you wanna be like Kreayshawn.’ I’ve had this dream since I was 13. A lot of people have the same dream. A lot of people wanna be the president, a lot of people wanna work at McDonald’s and make chicken nuggets. There aren’t that many occupations! I wanted to be a rapper and so did she; that doesn’t mean we want to be each other. IGGY AZALEA’S IGNORANT ART IS AVAILABLE NOW. VISIT IGGY AZALEA AT IGGYAZALEA.COM. 19


PORTISHEAD Interview by Kristina Benson Illustration by Alice Rutherford Portishead should have been a classic film but instead manifested as a band, and their strange and dreamy sound echoes even decades after they first emerged. Their debut full-length bent minds with its hip-hop beats, reverbed guitar lines, and haunting vocals, and it kept fans devoted to them through the decade between their second and most recent albums. Guitarist Adrian Utley speaks now about his secret friend Banksy and why he doesn’t trust in the government at all. So you were signed before you even played a show? Adrian Utley (guitar): Yeah, we made a record before we played a show. So many bands play half-empty clubs for years, hoping for a break—you didn’t have to go through any of that. I can tell you, ‘No we didn’t,’ but I did, my whole life. And Beth [Gibbons] did some of that. Geoff [Barrow] didn’t because he was really young when we started it and he didn’t really play instruments. Although when he was at school he was in a band that played ‘Final Countdown’ and all kinds of terrible covers like that, when he was in school, you know. So no, he didn’t do that but I’d done a lot of that and I used to get paid to play with people to play to nobody, to have showcases for record labels. I’ve seen all of that. But luckily we didn’t ever want to play live, it was always a studio project, and we were never going to do that. When the record started to be successful, there were discussions that we had to play live. I remember saying to Geoff, ‘I don’t know how we’re going to do that.’ What was it about that time that allowed a chance for your music to be so popular? I think that time was an important time for change, and making music in new way. I was excited by hearing Massive Attack, and Smith & Mighty stuff, and before that, Public Enemy. That’s why Geoff and I got together, listening to hip-hop, really. I had given up my whole life of sort of session playing and everything to start a studio— saved all my money and got it together and did that, and eventually me and Geoff started working together. It was a magical time in a lot of ways. I felt the spirit of newness, a new world, a new life ahead. I decided I didn’t really want to play with the people I’d been playing with before, even though I needed to make money. I’ve never done anything but make music in my life. I’ve always managed to survive, and play with some of my heroes as well. But I kind of didn’t want to do that anymore. There was a really cool feeling around Bristol at that time, and I was very pleased to be working with a new person, and we had a very likeminded approach to things. When you guys were making your record, you would make a guitar line and then you’d press a copy of the record with the guitar line—so you’d actually be sampling yourselves? INTERVIEW

That’s what we did. We were fascinated by the sound—well, people had been sampling from records through the late 80s—Public Enemy, all the hip-hop bands we knew, were sampling from vinyl. So we made tracks, and made it like an album of our own sample, and sampled them from the vinyl after we’d jumped about on it on the floor and rubbed it around in the carpet. Honestly. And then we’d get it on the record deck and Geoff would cut up on one beat of it for ages, just so that part was worn. Sometimes you get to a sample and you hear a certain snare in the beat and it sounds duller than the other ones because someone had been cutting up and destroyed the vinyl, so we got really deep into the technique of making the music sound like it did. It came from not having other facilities to do—we just worked it out, had to do it ourselves. In a 1997 interview with Spin, Geoff said, ‘The industry is a monster. It’s a nasty beast.’ How would things have been different if you’d been in charge instead of the label? Yeah, well, it was a bad time then. I remember that we were all feeling a bit shitty about the whole deal, the whole world around. From the very early days—it’s usually down to money, or down to control, that kind of thing. And we’ve never taken a lot of money from a record company so we’ve never been in debt to them that much, or at all. Not that it was an Us and Them situation, it’s not. We’re not signed at the moment. It was probably just a bad day when Geoff said that, but I always think that about the record industry. You said that after you did the second album, it was like the doors were closed— you’d hit this Lara Croft moment where none of the doors would open, and you couldn’t find the key to open it. There was definitely that feeling going on. We did other things. We had money trickling in to keep us going through that. We aren’t ostentatious and I think it was a creative decision. We didn’t want to work on Portishead at that time so we worked on other things. We would make money from the other things we did and that was cool. And then we got an advance to make our next record and Geoff and I worked around 2002 or something, 2003. At that time I was working with Beth—I produced a lot of tracks for her solo album and had gone on tour with her—so I was really busy all the time, Geoff was busy, he took a big time-out and went to Australia and hung out on the beach for a while, and I carried on

working and doing things I wanted to do. I did some work with Sparklehorse, and that was a good time for me in a way, but it was not a good time for Portishead. But it wasn’t a big drama. That’s another thing about press: ‘They split up and they hate each other and Geoff attacked Adrian on the plane and tried to kill him with a knife!’ No one ever said that. We finished touring for a year and a half, a really long stint, our whole lives were fucked, the keys didn’t fit the doors of life anymore when we got back, and Geoff and I mixed our live album, and went out to the countryside. After everyone had gone home, we straight filled up the car with alcohol, went to a studio out in the country, got fucked for about three weeks, mixed the live record, and walked away from there thinking we would not do anything with each other for a long while. In the 90s you could put out a record and just sort of let it marinate for a couple years. But now, everything is old the second it comes out. It just doesn’t seem sustainable. Yes, and a lot of bands don’t sustain it, and don’t survive it. And some bands—some of my favorite bands—who have had albums I don’t really like, you can tell they weren’t really inspired when they did it. There’s a sense that they did it because that’s what they do—even older bands, real favorites of mine. And then they make a killer album. I suppose there’s something to be said for that, but I don’t think that’s anything we’d want to do. We just want it to be something we can really stand behind. Ikey Owens told me, ‘I don’t believe in inspiration, I believe in ritual.’ I like to have inspiration and do less, I think. Just recently I’ve been running from one slippery rock to another, jumping from one slippery rock to another one. And surviving through it. All ways are valid, but with Portishead we wait for inspiration. Ritual is a good way, but I don’t think we could ever do that. I’m excited by stuff I listen to at the moment and there are periods of my life where I couldn’t give a fuck about what I’m listening to, it’s a deluge of nonsense. Now it’s a good space—I feel inspired and ready to do a record when we come off tour in January. How did you figure out you were friends with Banksy? Given that he doesn’t tell people who he is. Did you come home to find a stencil on your wall—‘Bob! Did you do that?’

I remember about twelve years ago cycling through an area of Bristol and seeing a stencil—it was one of those ones of a clown with a gun, on a signpost—and I stopped on my bike and thought, ‘Who’s Banksy, this is amazing!’ And I knew this arty couple who moved to Bristol who were really fucking weird and they tried to get art happenings happening and stuff, and they introduced me to Banksy when I was going to see Polly Jean Harvey play. I said, ‘Do you want to come to the Polly Harvey gig?’ And we went to the gig together. He has world mystique but he’s been to my house at parties and stuff. You said in a recent interview that there is a negative feeling in England now most of the time. But when I think of England, I’m like, ‘Well, even if I don’t have a job, I don’t have to take out loans to pay for school and there’s free health care.’ I think a lot of people feel disgruntled. That’s what those riots were about in some ways. We don’t trust in the government at all, no one does. There’s a lot of shit going on as always, same as in your country as well. I know we have health care, but we’ve always had health care. If we didn’t have it we’d be more aware of it. But we’ve had it all our lives, and I think of course it’s a brilliant thing, and there’s good stuff here—good free education. But I watched TV this morning, and it was just horrific the stuff that was going on, the politics all over the world. Endless nastiness and shit around the world. And all the phone hacking stuff in England. They’re finding more and more stuff, really bad stuff. We found that journalists had been finding private phone numbers of people whose children had been murdered. They’d gotten exdirectory numbers. I don’t really understand how that can happen. There’s a lot of negativity and shittiness. But you’ve got that in your country as well. Yeah, well don’t get too complacent about that health care. We’ve had Social Security since the New Deal, and I’m not so sure it won’t be privatized by ten years from now. Something that has existed my whole life, that I counted on existing when I’m old, that I pay into—it’s on the table now, and who knows what will happen. Really? That’s fucked up. VISIT PORTISHEAD AT PORTISHEAD. CO.UK. 21


ZOLA JESUS Interview by Daiana Feuer Photo Illustration by Daiana Feuer and Chris Sanchez

The first time Zola Jesus performed in Los Angeles, it was just Nika Rosa and some backing tracks. She crawled across the floor between people’s legs and though she was as small and delicate as a cat, she filled the room with her voice like a big shadow or a ghost. Finding a welcoming audience here, Rosa moved to Los Angeles and wrote her second album, Conatus, dyed her hair and introduced color into her wardrobe. We met up at LACMA to discuss these things. So you came to LACMA because you moved in nearby, what would you do? Sometimes I would go to the exhibition; sometimes I would just walk around to all the nooks. It helps to look at someone else’s work because it made me feel better about everything I was going through. It removed me. Gave me some perspective. Did anything infiltrate this project? Nothing completely direct, but I was really obsessed with winter when I made this record. ... I would watch a lot of documentaries of Inuits and look at pictures of ice. I read this book called Ice by Anna Kavan, which for me felt like everything that I was going through. It was the perfect compliment to the music I was making at the time. There were a lot of feelings of isolation. Sometimes I take solace in watching movies and reading books—isolation comes from that. Is isolation is important for an artist? For me it is. I can’t say this without directly quoting Schopenhauer, but ‘a man is truly himself so long as he is alone.’ When you’re alone you’re free from influence or other people’s decisions and expectations, and you can live freely within your own universe. Probably if you weren’t entertained by that universe you wouldn’t find anything worth relating about it. I’ve always felt like being around other people or having the impulse to be around other people is a weakness. If you’re not comfortable being alone then you’re not comfortable with yourself or who you are. It’s always been important to me that I was most comfortable being alone. I think that proves to myself that I have a strong sense of myself and what I want. Does this music replicate the sounds of your interior world? The interesting thing about this is that music helps me communicate what is going on in my head. It helps delineate ideas that I have trouble putting in words. It always takes a fight to get it out. I don’t know how to turn something in my head into something you can hear and express to other people. Absolutely this record is so insular and intimate and introspective, everything ‘in,’ everything personal. I could see that because it made me want to move around weirdly in my room in a way that is uninhibited. You saying that made me instinctively terrified. ‘Oh my god, you’ve heard the record!’ Yeah, I have. I heard it twice. I still can’t come to terms with the fact other people will hear this record. I turn myself in22

side out and we pressed it to vinyl and now people are going to hear it and I’m like, ‘Wait, no, I didn’t … let me change it!’ Why would you want to change it? Because it’s so raw. It feels so vulnerable. I feel stripped. I feel a little naked. But that’s important. It means I’m getting to a place in what I’m doing that it’s a deep cut. I don’t want to make a record that’s easy to listen to or feels effortless. I want it to feel like I went through the process. Do you listen to hip-hop? I do. I listen to everything. You have some cool beats on this record. Do you like ‘Shivers?’ I hate hi-hats and cymbals. They sound too weak. But I tried to take things I didn’t like and make myself more comfortable with these things that I once avoided. ‘Shivers’ has hi-hats and cymbals and crazy bass like a sound system. That song taught me a lot about the importance of certain drums and why I avoided them. And why I shouldn’t. A lot of songs on the album were about exploring things that made me uncomfortable as a songwriter. ... Everything for me is out of context. I can’t be like, ‘I’m going to make this kind of song.’ There is always this thread of what is intrinsic to me, to my own personal style. That’s always going to be there. Do you know what that is? Whatever is on that record. I like extremely specific things. That’s why it took me so long to not wear black. I only feel like I’m a human being when I wear black. And I’m forcing myself to not wear black because I feel like that’s too extreme. So you’ve moved on to gray. Yes! Slowly making my way through the spectrum of color. It’s just like weird obsessive-compulsive things that being unmedicated OCD you kind of work through on your own. Did you start wearing a different color before or after you made the record? I think it was a little bit after. But it was right towards the end of it that I felt this record seemed ‘white’—cold but not in a dark way, finding warmth in the cold. That feels very white to me. I think you talked about warmth in the cold to me before. Yeah, I get into that. I like dualities a lot. For everything in the world there is two extremes and then there is the middle of these. Everything that I do, everything that I am, is about those two extremes and finding a middle ground. I’m drawn to very extreme things, but to be a functioning person in society you have

to find a middle ground. You can’t function on the fringes. Even though that’s where I feel more comfortable. What are some examples of extremes? Music. I’m only drawn to things that are extreme in one way or another. Things that are just palatable I can’t understand. It needs to be clearly black or white. When I do something, I overcorrect. There’s no subtlety in anything I take in or anything I put out, so this record was about trying to find subtlety, because it’s important. It’s a quality that I would like to learn, to be subtle. Subtle in how I think and make things. I always think subtlety is oppressive in a way. When you try to do things quietly, it’s because you’re being oppressed. And I’m always afraid of being oppressed. It’s strange, I can’t really explain it. You just walk down the street and you’re like, ‘Hey, don’t oppress me!’ Pretty much. It’s nothing to with politics or feminism. I think it’s important when you exist in the world to know what you’re capable of and to know what you want to do, you can do and cannot be stopped. People set boundaries based on society, social norms, what people tell them, what they tell themselves. I’m sorry to sound like an episode of Oprah. Oh Oprah, I’m going to cry now! But you are right, people say, ‘I can’t do this, I’m not allowed.’ People don’t want to think about that anymore. They grow older and tired and give up the fight. People think it’s an adolescent struggle but the thing about adolescence is that—I mean, I hated being a teenager and I still hate being the age I am now—but the thing I value is the naiveté, the feeling they can do whatever they want. If people in their forties felt that way a lot more could get done. Do you want to be an old or a young person? Ha! I don’t know. I would like to have time. I feel like I’m constantly running out of time. But I would like to be in a place where I can have more perspective. How do you feel about the computer as a musical instrument? I like it. I used to be ashamed that I used the computer, but I’m embracing it. You can do things that are beyond what we understand as instruments of sound. You have the entire spectrum of sound. I refuse to work with a guitar because the guitar has been abused. We understand what we can do with them and people have done everything within their power. Computers can give you anything and you can sculpt the sound.

How do you choose when there’s a million potential drums? I like things that are indiscernible. I like synth pads, things that can weave in and out of each other, I like layering sounds. I don’t like very defined sounds like ‘This is a glockenspiel, this is a guitar, this is a harmonium.’ Actually, I really like the harmonium. It’s a really thick sound. You can’t really tell where it’s going. You don’t like words? I do like words. I appreciate people that can explain things in words, but I have a hard time with it. Do you make up words? On ‘Ixode’ I’m not using any words. They could be words in some language but it’s just syllables and consonants. But ‘Ixode’ is the scientific word for ‘tick,’ which is something you get a lot in Wisconsin. I like the way the ‘oh’ sounds. That’s why I use words like ‘throw’ a lot, ‘no’ a lot, ‘road,’ ‘home ...’ ‘Road’ is the worst word you can use. It’s like saying ‘teardrops on a windowsill’ or something. Have you had any good California encounters since coming to the big city? I like the resources here, that’s good. But my life hasn’t changed. I’m not a social person. I don’t go out. It’s nice to have a grocery store near me. Did you have one in Wisconsin? We did, but it was a drive so I would wind up not eating for a while. I didn’t have a car. Now it’s nice—I can get up, get some food, I can eat now. I learned when I moved away from home that your environment, everyone is the same. Your environment doesn’t affect you after a while when you realize what your priorities are. But your environment is what gives you the things to do something with. I know, but I like being able to live in a way where you live like a minimalist. Everything you want you can provide for yourself. I can’t provide for myself without going to the grocery store living in West Hollywood. But as long as your basic needs are met, I don’t need anything beyond that. What do you need? Food, a place to shower, a place to sleep, and a little bit of love. And a house. What about a computer? A computer is great, but I could always just sing. ZOLA JESUS’ CONATUS IS OUT NOW ON SACRED BONES. VISIT ZOLA JESUS AT ZOLAJESUS.COM. INTERVIEW


THE FLAMIN GROOVIES Interview by Dan Collins and Chris Ziegler Illustration by Steven Fiche If you pulled the Flamin Groovies out of the history of American rock ‘n’ roll, the whole thing would collapse in on itself. Like the MC5, the Stooges, Big Star and the Velvet Underground, their not-heard-often-enough albums activated every teenage head they touched. As Groovies fan club president and Norton Records cofounder Miriam Linna says, if someone didn’t have a Groovies record in their stash ... you just couldn’t trust ‘em. Punk, power-pop, real-deal rock ‘n’ roll—they did it all and they did it right on albums and singles and labels that just couldn’t give ‘em the support they deserved. The Groovies—with co-founders Cyril Jordan and Roy Loney back together after decades of possibly acrimonious but possibly not separation—played their first California shows in 27 years this month, and guitarist-singer Jordan spoke to us from a house with a box of their first self-released 10” sitting in the basement. I had a tape of your greatest hits and you had a quote explaining your Beatles obsession, and you basically say you had the guitars, you had the songs, you had the boots, you even had their exact pairs of pants— that you were ‘so fucking close!’ Was it frustrating to get right up to the edge but never break through? I was just thinking the other day—we were kids, but we must have been out of our minds! Our competition was Led Zeppelin, the Stones, the Beatles … when you try and be a contender—and you’re becoming one— there’s still always that anxiety. Like Keith Richards said: ‘Are we gonna stop eating eggs every day or what?’ Is it true there’s a guy in France buried with a copy of your Sneakers 10”? Not only is he buried with the 10” on his chest, but his belt buckle was custom made out of silver with Gene Vincent’s face and name—embossed in bas relief. Bruno—he was a young kid, I think 17, and he became legendary in his own time. He passed away a very long time ago. I think he OD’d. We did our anti-morphine song with ‘Slow Death.’ Which was banned by the BBC? These idiots banned it because the word ‘morphine’ was used! Instead of seeing it was an ANTI-drug song. Snobs—they’re amazing people. They can’t see the forest for the trees. It really messed with [our label] UA. Didn’t they have Hawkwind who got banned for ‘Urban Guerilla’ at the same time? But Hawkwind had a big hit with ‘Silver Machine’ so they brought in the gravy. I used to drop acid with their lead singer. Me and him and the rest of the Groovies, we went down on acid to J. Geils’ debut show in London in ’72. We were snowballin’! We went to get tickets but they were sold out. So we go to the alleyway on the side of the Lyceum—where Mozart played!—and there’s all these bums sitting on couches, and I see the stage door … and we’ve all got leather jackets with studs and motorcycle shades … so I start pounding on the door and the doorman opens up like, ‘Here! Wot’s all this?’ ‘Hey man! We’re J. Geils! We’re late!’ So he lets us in and closes the INTERVIEW

door—‘That’s it! Nobody else is getting in!’ So then the real J. Geils shows up and they can’t get in! Meanwhile, the Hawkwind guy gave acid to some hippie chick and she was flipping out to the point an ambulance was coming, and the only reason J. Geils got into his own show was because when the ambulance came, the doors opened again! They were real pissed. Flamin Groovies were like the Little Rascals of rock. Complete pranksters! Didn’t you get the phrase ‘Teenage Head’ from some time you were on acid with Kim Fowley at a folk fest? That’s true! I dropped two tabs that were 1500 mg each. He was getting a contact high off me! He had me in hysterics! Every time some little chippie would walk by, he’d immediately come on to her. ‘We’re available … we’re looking for teenage head!’ I laughed so hard that when I woke up the next morning, my mouth was wide open and stuck that way for an hour. We even said it to Linda Ronstadt! Let me tell you, she was not pleased! Did you have bands you were friends with in San Francisco? We were young—Jefferson Airplane, the Dead, Quicksilver, the Charlatans all had like ten years on us. I’m in high school when the Groovies formed. As a matter of fact, I just saw footage of us playing a party for the Democratic Convention in ’68. We were the Democratic Party’s rock band in ’68. If they had live music, that was us! I smoked pot with Ted Kennedy— Were you 18? 19. So there weren’t multiple felonies. I’m really depressed I didn’t think of encasing it in lucite. The Kennedy roach! Lemme tell you, Rock Hudson was a big fan of the Groovies. He used to come see us. He was one of the biggest guys I ever met—I came up to his elbow. And Ted Kennedy was as big as Rock—a huge guy! All these little people were dancing around him. We finished our set and I go outside and light a joint, and Herb Caen—I guess he coined the term ‘beatnik’—he’s out there, and he’s like, ‘Where you from?’ ‘We’re from San Francisco! We’re the

only band from San Francisco out of all these hippie bands!’ I give him the joint and he takes a big hit, and then Ted comes out and it’s the three of us in the street, and a cop car drives by … I look over like, ‘Man, I can’t wait to see what’s gonna happen next!’ Herb takes a big hit and passes the joint to Ted without looking at him, and Ted takes the joint and takes a HUGE hit! Like he sucks it down to a quarter of an inch. I’m like, ‘Ah, better roll another one!’ And then a week later Bobby gets killed. The sound between the Roy era of the band and the Chris Wilson era changes so much—it’s like a totally different band. I agree—the first period was the Stones version. That really climaxed with Teenage Head. Rodney Bingenheimer told me Mick was listening to Teenage Head that summer. Every time he’d go over, he’d hear it! There are songs the Stones made then that sound like they’re imitating you! I know! We were doing that to each other. That was something I was very proud of back then, but nobody knew but us and the Stones! … I met the Stones a couple times in ’65—I was backstage and got thrown out! With Rodney! We’d crash the backstage at the Cow Palace from ’62 to about ’66 or ’67. Did anyone recognize you later? ‘Hey, it’s that kid from the Cow Palace! Who got kicked out!’ Years later, my friend Don Ciccone—a big Groovies fan, who’s gonna play bass with me and Roy—said he met this old gay guy that used to do sound at the Cow Palace and he was showing him photos, and he freaked out when he saw me! ‘There’s that kid that used to sneak into the Cow Palace! He was real cute—I kinda had a crush on him. I told everybody to leave that kid alone!’ And I was walking around thinking I was hot shit because no one threw me out! I was hanging out with Roy Orbison, the Righteous Brothers—Jackie DeShannon kissed me on the cheek! This one Beach Boys and Byrds show … everyone was doing soundcheck, and it was empty except

for the bands. Me and Dennis Wilson are talking and all of a sudden the Byrds come on stage—Crosby has the green suede cape he has on the second album—and they play ‘Turn Turn Turn!’ It hadn’t come out yet! Nobody had heard it! I’m gaping, Dennis is gaping—holy shit! When Shake Some Action came out, everyone thought we were Beatles fanatics—yeah, but we were also Byrds fanatics! Kim Fowley fanatics! We loved everybody. Our influences were everybody hip. It just took us a while to get around to a Byrds sound. We were too busy ripping off Dr. Ross and all these rhythm & blues guys. Like Ike Turner—man, when that movie came out with him and Tina … the Ike Turner I knew was not that guy! I snorted coke with Ike. I couldn’t believe it! I’m hanging with Ike Turner … just going with it! I never seen him yell at nobody! He did get real coked out, and you can lose your character when you’re too drugged out … but I still find it extremely hard to believe that he was that far over the edge. You know that book about Phil Spector—Wall of Pain? They said Phil invited us up to his mansion and we all went up there in velvet coats or some bullshit, and knocked on the door and got the bum’s rush—none of this happened! So I’m thinking now that the other weird shit in there about Phil … maybe that didn’t happen either! My memory is crystal clear, guys! I was bragging once to my mom how my memory is amazing, and she’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah—bullshit.’ ‘Oh yeah? I remember the color of the tile in the operating room when I was born. Aqua green.’ And she turned white. What was it like being born? I remember a lot of wind. Coming from complete quiet and stillness and warmth into a blast of air and wind—and I opened my eyes and there’s these aqua green walls! That’s what I remember! Me and my mom were really close—all of us from that generation were like that. Probably the same with the British of that generation. Close to their parents. And they also went to art school. Did you go to art school? 25


The school of hard knocks! My art teacher in high school gave me As and at the end of the term, somebody stole all my artwork! Right before I was kicked out of high school. The technical reason was because I was a senior and I was 19. I flunked tenth grade when my mom and dad got divorced. The next year, I met Roy, George and Tim who were already out of high school and in state college. They had cars. They also had pot. Is that all you really need to rock ‘n’ roll? I started smoking pot that weekend! They told me about it Friday, I was stoned til Sunday night and I woke up Monday morning like, ‘I can’t go to school!’ So I cut school. The phone rings at noon and it’s my girlfriend and she says my best friend Rodney was shot to death at Tick Tock’s Drive-In—some black guys drove in and started shooting! And I would

All the cool stuff? OK—get your crash helmets! I’m a first-generation American. My parents were Dutch colonists in Indonesia and they’d been in Japanese concentration camps during the war. My dad knew the end was coming because he saw a P-38 fly overhead and knew the Allies had landed. Two weeks later, they’re released and he goes to find my mom in the other camp. He takes the coat of a dead communist with a big red patch on it and goes to the other camp and somehow gets my mom out. They hide in a garage for four months because the Indonesian revolution is going on and all the Chinese pawnbrokers are getting their heads cut off. They were invited to visit America because my dad was a runner for the Marines. So they come to San Francisco. My mom had been told she couldn’t have babies and all of a sudden she has to go

got the sleaziest kind of people … where you get a pension for life and a job you can’t be fired from, you’re gonna get the freeloaders! It doesn’t say, ‘WE’RE LOOKING FOR SOMEONE WHO KNOWS WHAT THE FUCK THEY’RE DOING!’ We were looking for a black guy and now we got him, and now I guess we can get a woman … everybody oughta just wrap cellophane around their heads and call themselves suckers! I wanna start the anti-voting league! I want voters held up on charges—they’re the ones who brought these assholes in! People are in the streets, kicked out of their houses … it’s nuts! My friend read an interview with Ry Cooder in MOJO and he’s more outraged than I am! ‘These bankers in this country oughta be taken out and shot.’ I’d go further— What’s further than ‘taken out and shot’?

Rambo is popular … this guy takes on everybody and beats the living shit out of them! It’s Batman all over again! The guy who helps us get rid of the morons! Cuz guess what, man? We don’t get rid of ’em no more! We elect them into office! How did you get out of being drafted? Iggy told me he put peanut butter in the crack of his butt, stuck his index finger in, put it in his mouth and did the ‘pop!’ thing—and that was it! He was outta there! I just dropped acid and showed up twelve hours late at the induction center. You were supposed to be at the UC hospital at 5 AM and they were gonna drive everyone to the induction center. And bring a toothbrush and a suitcase because you were going to bootcamp! So instead of being there at 5 AM, I dropped acid at midnight. And I popped my cherry that night!

“I’ve been snorting cocaine since 1968!” have been standing next to him. You might say pot saved my life. I started getting into pot because it made me interested in everything. So I got all As and they threw me out of high school. And because they threw me out of high school, I met Jimi Hendrix. I’m walking down Masonic across the Panhandle, which is part of Golden Gate Park, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience is setting up! Mitch Mitchell comes up—‘Hey, man, you from around here? We came in from England—yeah, yeah, we’re lookin’ for drugs!’ So I cop drugs for ’em, and that’s how I started my friendship with Jimi Hendrix. Were you doing lots of drugs when you did Shake Some Action? Does that explain why the sound changed so much? We were doing lots of drugs when we did Supersnazz, when we did Teenage Head, when we did Shake Some Action—on and on! We’re still on drugs! I’ve been snorting cocaine since 1968! Michael Clarke from the Byrds turned me on to coke at the Whisky. He poured this powder on top of the toilet seat—‘You want some of this?’ ‘I don’t do heroin.’ ‘This ain’t heroin—it’s cocaine! You play guitar? You’re gonna like this!’ I take this big line … go on and play and I’ve never been the same since! When we were hanging with Phil Spector … I was friends with one of Phil’s engineers and I took ’em back to the hotel one night and tore a four-foot mirror off the wall and threw it on the bed and proceeded to make like threeand-a-half-foot lines of coke. I pulled out a straw three feet long! From where? From the inside of my three-quarters-length coat! The next day at Gold Star, that engineer was pretty toasty. I said, ‘Hey, man, you OK?’ ‘You guys snorted more coke than John Lennon and Harry Nilsson the month they were here—and they almost died! We called ambulances!’ Did you ever hang out with Warren Zevon? I never did—I’m sure we would have liked each other. He was a kindred spirit. That culture back then, all of us were into the same stuff—whether Frankenstein or Elvis Presley. What stuff, exactly? INTERVIEW

to the doctor because she’s pregnant! So I’m born an American citizen and they get to stay! My mom having lived in Java, she’d cook up an Indonesian rice table. I wouldn’t eat it! I wanted cheeseburgers, man! Hot dogs, chili, pizza, Coca-Cola, milkshakes—get that other shit out! I’m in California, the place where metal flake was invented! And electric guitars! Sunglasses! Levi’s! Hot rods—we used to go see Big Daddy Roth at the Oakland Arena, sitting on a stool painting when he was a nobody. I’m a true American 50s to 60s culture vulture. I still am. That’s the connection a lot of people from my generation have—the same gods. If that’s what you wanna call ’em. I was reading Starlog, and I saw Freddy Krueger without makeup and was like, ‘Get out of here! What’s Robert doing on the cover of Starlog?’ He was a street person—a big Flamin Groovies fan. I’d let him in to all the gigs. We became friends back then. This happened to me over and over. Juliette Binoche, she was my girlfriend in London—the worst year of my life—she was like 19 before she became famous. I took Rosanna Arquette out when she was really young. Years later, I’m watching TV and smokin’ a joint like, ‘Get out of here!’ I’m telling you—everybody made it but me! You made it! But I didn’t get any money! I’m working as an usher at the Orpheum! I went from $20,000 a year in royalties to $800. This kid at the movie theater has a future phone and is like, ‘Hey man—this is your band! You got 18,000 hits!’ And I’m like, ‘What? Where’s the fucking money, man?’ You learn to live with everything, bud—the whole point is, yeah, things get hard. There’s too much bullshit today. … The whole country is a joke now! Let’s get back to logic and common sense and not treat each other like open season! They get to say in the National Enquirer, ‘WHERE’S OBAMA’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE?’ It’s outrageous. I don’t care if it’s a woman or man or black person or gay person—I want the person who can do the job and help us and represent us! If you can’t help us, you’re not representing us! Ever since I was 10—1958!—I have never believed that the vote wasn’t cheated. I don’t vote! If you wanna design a system where you

I’d tell Ry we’d feed them to 100-foot crocodiles nude, and then, when the crocs take a big dump, we’re gonna encase that in lucite and put it in a fucking museum and put a photo of the guy it used to be … so the newcoming kids are in the museum and looking at the pile of shit encased in lucite and this photo and thinking, ‘Holy shit! This guy turned into a piece of shit! How? He raped people? He murdered? He embezzled! OK— I’ll never do those things again!’ We went to the moon and we can’t fucking fix this? I defy the people in the government to hire me for three million dollars a second. I’ll figure all this out in about a minute! The reason why it’s possible for these chickenshit wimps that push us around is because the law of assault in this country forbids anybody to beat the shit out of anybody! I don’t care if they’re coming at you with a hatchet! Let me tell you what a chipmunk looks like—you know how cute they are? Walt Disney made us fall in love with all the varmints. If I painted this chipmunk, he’d still be real little except he’d have fourinch talons and a snout with vampire teeth … and then have horns on his head! This creature would be an abomination! Which is exactly what these humans on the stock exchange have evolved into—abominations! One of the great secrets of human life on this planet … it’s never talked about how a baby can be born and look at the world and figure it out wrong, and then it evolves into that wrongness. Now these chipmunks have gotten the help of a bunch of rich idiots … the point is we can’t stop them because the law says if you punch anyone in the face, you go to jail! But it also says if you steal money, you go to jail! So what is going on? It’s called ‘We can’t and they can!’ End of story! That’s the state of America right now and it ain’t good! If I had children, I’d start the fucking revolution! I had this flash last night … I rolled up this heavy joint of purple and halfway through I was like, ‘Holy shit! What if there’s a massive underground now that nobody knows about? A lot of people in every state getting ready to shut it down?’ I haven’t felt like this since the Beatles hit—this wonderful feeling! The idea alone … that’d be great! The reason I think

Just in case? No—part of the trip! I was over at our manager’s house and his wife’s 15-year-old sister was visiting, and we were left in the living room on acid, you know … BOOM! Might as well light a match and start a fire. No way that’s not gonna get going. So I show up the next day on Owsley acid—White Lighting! With my manager, I go to the desk sergeant who is like, ‘Who the fuck are you? You shoulda been here at 6 AM!’ ‘Well, give him a break— he’s not too bright.’ The guy tells me to follow the brown line to room 220 but there are all these colored lines on the floor and I couldn’t tell what colors anything was, so I followed what appeared to be a purple line that went out the front door! They take me back in and all the other guys who showed up late are the retards—the morons. I’m in this room with all these idiots doing my test and there’s a big NO SMOKING sign in red on the wall and I’m freaking out—I just check boxes and turn the page. I get one right out of a hundred and they start yelling, ‘This guy’s in high school! I don’t believe this!’ My manager is like, ‘Hey! He’s not too bright—be cool!’ I’m looking at the NO SMOKING sign and it starts dripping blood and the room fills with blood so I run out screaming. ‘Hey, kid—it’s go to jail or go back in.’ So then I’m back and I’m in a T-shirt and skivvies, and the doctors are filling out my forms and I hear them talking: ‘He’s wandering around the room, staring at a blank wall, doesn’t respond when spoken to …’ At the eye test, I’m just staring into the machine—like God’s in there! They put me in this little room in my underwear and I’m like, ‘Holy shit! I got to do something! I claw my palms til they’re bloody and wipe the blood on my face, and then leave the room and go up a staircase to the next floor with 400 women typing in one room. Everybody starts fucking screaming! The doctors tell me, ‘Don’t worry, we’re not gonna send you to Vietnam.’ They gave me a 4-F and told me, ‘If Mars invades, we still wouldn’t need you.’ I told that guy, ‘Well, that’s when I’ll be there!’ VISIT THE FLAMIN GROOVIES AT NORTONRECORDS.COM. 27

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DEVON WILLIAMS Interview by Chris Ziegler Photography by Gari Askew

We at L.A. RECORD have known Devon Williams a long time, which is why we no longer fear him. When he’s talking, he’s uncompromisingly hilarious and when he’s writing songs, he’s making sure every tiniest detail is working hard to mess up your heart. His new album Euphoria is waiting patiently for you to come around. Your first record was Carefree and the new one is Euphoria, but there’s a part of your personality your album titles have yet to address—when will you commit to vinyl the sarcastic shit-talker true Devon Williams fans know and love? You’re gonna get the most serious answer from me—that’s the only thing I don’t wanna do: have it be funny! I hate funny music videos, I hate clever lyrics … I don’t listen to music to laugh. When I was younger, Adam Sandler on Saturday Night Live was funny except when he was like, ‘Now I’m gonna play guitar! Because I’m a guitar player!’ Laughter is just a way for people to deal with reality, right? Those are my two ways. When I write music, that’s how I deal with my feelings and process them. And if I meet people I don’t like or I have trouble making small talk, it’ll just turn to bullshit and at least I’ll have fun with it. People may think I’m really silly, but I think I’m just really honest. They think I’m laughing and making a fool out of myself, but I’m really trying to tell them something about themselves. You said one of the reasons you love Cleaners From Venus is that every song is its own universe—does that come from this same drive to be honest? Those are the great bands that can do that. Music is a labor of love, and if someone is putting love into it, it’s impossible to be too critical. ‘Maybe this doesn’t work, but … ’ But Cleaners—he just created music without stopping or thinking or anything and that’s what people should strive to do. To create. After he finished his body of work, it’s taken forever for him to get credit, but it’s a body of work that will be celebrated for a long time. That’s real songs! You’ve been playing music for a long time, and been playing music with other people, too—what is the first big bad decision you feel every musician has to get past? The first mistake is why people make music. I don’t understand when bands are like, ‘Oh, I started playing because it looks cool!’ Or to get girls or drugs. It’s bullshit! But bands do start for that reason. When I started playing guitar, I … just played guitar. I learned songs that I liked, and one day without noticing I was writing songs that weren’t very good. You just keep playing. And it becomes your own thing. That’s the goal for anyone—it becomes a whole unique thing that is amazing. You told me that half the people who go to shows in L.A. don’t even like music. Why? INTERVIEW

I don’t like going to shows anymore. I like writing music, playing shows, watching a movie or listening to records. The kind of music that strikes me is not the kind of bare bones garage shit that is going on right now. Sometimes I’m really blown away by a band that enjoys playing quietly or when a guitar can be pretty, but I don’t know if people like to stand around and watch a band like that unless it’s totally enthralling. There’s not a lot of personality. Strong frontman personalities. I’m guilty too— You should definitely be more like G.G. Allin. It’s true! People would enjoy that. I appreciate the music I play, but it’s not a live sound. We just play live because you have to do it to play the game. It’d be good to see a band like the Replacements. There’s not enough destructive bands, and if there are, they’re like paying homage to another band. Would you be happy if you ended up like someone from your own record collection? Like the Cleaners From Venus or the GoBetweens or something? Loved by a very limited-edition of people? I couldn’t really be happy. I like songs first. I create music because I’m inspired by songs, and I’m not always in love with the same song. I’d be sad to experience only one kind of love for the rest of my life. That’s why on this record and Carefree, there are songs that are more guitar-driven and songs that me and Steve [Gregoropoulos] worked on. Some owe more to orchestral pop. Those are the two worlds I love. I could never choose. What part of yourself do you save for your record? If your music is a self-portrait, what does that Devon Williams look like? I’ve always written from the same place, which is how I’m feeling—as general as that is. People are put off by someone wanting to talk about their feelings. I understand! Some people don’t wanna hear a song about me and my girlfriend breaking up, but I do. And that’s what I wanna do—or not what I wanna do, but what I’m feeling. I never trained myself. I can only write about trying to find some sort of understanding, and it just evolved and there’s no way out of it. My favorite songwriter is Clifford T. Ward. He’ll sing about having a day off from traveling and he’s walking around the graveyard and he misses his girlfriend but he feels stupid because some people are dead. That’s a song! So deep in someone’s head … that’s where I want music to take me. I wanna hear someone say something that touches me.

Do you worry that inspiration is finite? And one day you’ll just be out of songs? I think that’s a fear for anyone—for anyone that enjoys creative anything. Obviously, I’m not concerned with things that have been done before—I’m concerned with creating something more. … Everything changes— you don’t have to be ready for it as long as you acknowledge that. The worst is that Metallica movie. ‘We gotta recreate Master of Puppets.’ It’s so fucking pathetic! They are forever a joke because of that. They cling too tight to what they thought they were—and then this shit with Lou Reed? Nobody wants to hear that! As a music lover, I get bummed that the Replacements—to me—have three great albums sandwiched between two OK albums. I wish there was one more great one. But it’s not gonna happen. You just have to appreciate what’s there. You have a tactically interesting perspective on this—kind of like you shouldn’t prepare for something as much as be ready for anything. It’s funny. There’s like a hipster music machine, and I am very clearly not part of that. Things like making videos, doing singles, blah blah blah … I am really in good faith trying to be a part of it, but I think it’s so phony in a way. I feel if this album just goes quietly into the night, I’d be OK with that. I’m already working on another record. My philosophy— it’s not like, ‘I’m done with my great masterpiece! I want the whole world to enjoy it now!’ I’d end up crazy because it’s not up to me. If I cared, that would be a problem—you can’t really care. ‘Resilient’ is a word for what we do. We’re just guys—kinda goofy, kinda fumbling, but we don’t know when to shut up or stop playing and that’s why I love playing with Wayne [Faler, guitar] and Bill [Gray, bass] and Marty [Sataman, keyboards] so much. Is that the Big Star method? ‘Record it and they will come and reissue it years later.’ If it’s a good 45, people will hear it. It’s like everything is so self-important—everyone is an entrepreneur and a business man and that’s the worst. ‘I run my band like a business!’ So bad! Even my closest friends argue with me. ‘Well, what if you wanna play music and make money?’ Well, I don’t care. I don’t wanna make money playing music. It’d be nice to do, but when I’m sitting at home on EDD, it’s not like I’m gonna spend all the time writing a great song. Great songs have their moments. Sitting around all day making music—that’s some crazy privileged upper-class shit. Why

would I wanna be like Eddie Van Halen? I wanna be a working-class musician. I wanna live in the world. I’m afraid you’re gonna write ‘I wanna be a working-class musician!’ I’m not saying I’m Billy Bragg—I like having a job I pay my bills with and I like playing music. I like having a dual thing. People I work with are surprised I play music. I’m 30! I’m not proud to be in a band playing shit bars sometimes— there’s nothing to be proud of. My pride about music is over. I just can’t not do it. You told me before that ‘People should make themselves available in service to the larger community and even their immediate community.’ Mike Watt and now Thundercat have talked about that, too. What is this idea of the musician in service about? I’ve been playing a long time, and I get emails sometimes like, ‘Dude, I’m really into “Elevator.” What a cool song! I listened to it a million times!’ In a way, it’s like—‘I can’t hear you, I’m in my own head!’ But then … I love music too! How can that not be great to be a part of someone’s life? That’s the service that speaks to me. But you don’t dwell on it. You just put it out there. That’s why I wanted to write, to really go for it—to make it as best as you can because you hope it will become part of this canon of great songs someday. I never see myself like, ‘I wanna be like the Rolling Stones!’ I don’t wanna be in a position of power. You don’t have to have power to lead people. I don’t need strength, I don’t need power—I’m self-sustaining. I’m doing the world a favor by not going to shows—they don’t want me at Spaceland. I’m annoying! I’ll bother the bartenders and I’ll yell at the bands! That’s also why I love having Bill in the band. He’s so outspoken and opinionated and he loves if people wanna fight him because he will fight them and he will win! You finally got your Sundance Kid! We’re gonna have a fucking music cleansing! We’re gonna get a gang of us and go to shows like, ‘No! You need to not play guitar! Your really cool Silver Lake sound is great, but you should take your Silver Lake sound and go work at the gas station, and let some of those people not have those jobs!’ I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings … but … You’re just passionate? I wanna say there are some really good L.A. bands now. Just put ‘Editor’s Note: Devon wanted me to stress this.’ DEVON WILLIAMS’ EUPHORIA IS OUT NOW ON SLUMBERLAND. 29


BRYAN FERRY Interview by Oliver Hall Illustration by Darren Ragle

Is he from the future or the past? Bryan Ferry’s career as a recording artist began nearly 40 years ago, with the release of Roxy Music’s first album in 1972. Even with the proliferation of countless rock subgenres in the intervening years, Roxy Music’s combination of nostalgia and science fiction still seems to point a way forward to pop music that does not yet exist. The year after Roxy’s debut, in addition to two more classic albums of new Ferry songs with Roxy Music, the singer released his first solo LP, These Foolish Things—a collection of covers gorgeously but radically arranged. Roxy Music hasn’t made a new album since 1982’s Avalon, but Ferry’s distinguished solo career now covers four decades. Among the legion of contributors to Ferry’s latest album, Olympia (his thirteenth), are Roxy Music co-founders Brian Eno, Andy Mackay and Phil Manzanera. Ferry answered my questions by email from the road. You were in the hospital earlier this year. How are you feeling? I am feeling fine. We have been touring all over Europe this summer playing lots of shows in some very interesting places. All is going really well. Who is in your touring band? It’s quite a big band, with some familiar faces and some new ones. On this U.S. tour I will have Paul Thompson on drums, Oliver Thompson and Chris Spedding on guitars, Jorja Chalmers on saxophone, Colin Good on piano and Jerry Meehan on bass. We also have four singers and two dancers. But perhaps the star of the show is the big projection screen at the back of the stage which shows films and collages we have made in my studio in London—pictorial images that enhance the mood of each song. In my last interview for L.A. RECORD, Mayo Thompson of the Red Krayola told me about an opera he’s been working on—about Victorine Meurent, the model for Manet’s ‘Olympia.’ You’ve cast Kate Moss as Olympia on the cover of the new album. What does the Manet painting suggest to you? How is it connected to these songs? The title Olympia was originally inspired by the Olympia district in West London where my studio is located, and where we made the album. After I had fixed on this title many other associations came to mind. Manet’s painting seemed to tie in perfectly with the mood of the album and was a source of inspiration for the artwork. We looked for a face to be our modern take on ‘Olympia’ and we thought Kate Moss was the ideal choice. Not only is she one of the most beautiful faces of our age, she also is possessed of a mysterious rock ‘n’ roll sensibility, which ties in with the Manet original. 30

In 2006, it was widely reported that you had entered the studio with original Roxy Music members Phil Manzanera, Andy Mackay and Brian Eno, all of whom appear on Olympia. Did anything from those sessions make it onto Olympia? I was well down the line with several of the tracks from Olympia when at various times Andy Mackay, Phil Manzanera and Brian Eno came to contribute. Although generally these contributions were small, I was very pleased to have them involved in any way in the project. Most of the work on the album was done by my core team of Oliver Thompson, Andy Newmark, Tara Ferry, Marcus Miller and Nile Rodgers. Many others of course made appearances on the record, some more significant than others. How, where and when was Olympia recorded? Olympia was recorded over a long period of time, almost ten years. It was mostly recorded in my studio in West London. Some of the tracks were recorded elsewhere—‘Heartache by Numbers’ was invented in Brooklyn, New York, with the Scissor Sisters. Groove Armada did their contribution in their own studio in London. Both Marcus Miller and Flea did some overdubs in Santa Monica. Dave Stewart worked with me on some of the songs in the early stages in Covent Garden and the south of France. Everything else was done in London. Your arrangements often bring out dimensions of songs that I would not have suspected were there. Before I heard your version on These Foolish Things, I never would have imagined that ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ could be so much fun. How do you approach other people’s songs?

Other people’s songs sometimes hit me in different ways. Sometimes it’s a song I’ve heard for many years and always fancied doing it. If it is meant to happen it tends to happen, and sometimes you forget about a song you really liked and then it suddenly reappears on the radio or something. Then you go, ‘Yes I could do this.’ How do you pass the time on tour? On a tour like this—in central Europe— there are so many great things to see in each city. Galleries, museums, churches, and especially wonderful restaurants. Good food on tour can be great for group morale. I also try to stay on top of all the projects I am involved in, and have to call my studio everyday for updates. Lately we have been organizing exhibitions of Olympia artwork in Antwerp, Paris, Moscow and Los Angeles. The L.A. show will be a few days after our concert at the Greek Theatre, so our trip there will be doubly exciting for me. Tours are always quite busy, so whenever I do have free time I like to read, currently about Lucian Freud. I also have a penchant for American college football, and try to see it on TV on rare occasions. Where did you learn about glamour? Classic Hollywood films and musicals were a source of inspiration to me. All of Fred Astaire, all of Gene Kelly. Cary Grant in Hitchcock. Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly. Numerous jazz musicians— Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, etc … Even the Rat Pack amused me. What do you remember about Roxy’s meeting with Salvador Dalí? It was suitably bizarre. We went to take tea with him in his grand suite in the Hotel Meurice in Paris, escorted by the glamorous Amanda Lear, who had appeared on my

second Roxy Music album cover. On a later date I had dinner with the great man, who was surrounded by six glamorous blondes. It was a heady start … As a fan of your music and King Crimson’s, it is hard for me to resist imagining what it would have sounded like if you had joined that band in the early 70s. Can you remember what songs you tried with the band? I remember trying, appropriately enough, ‘21st Century Schizoid Man.’ Why do you think the music business is in such bad shape? You tell me. It is a sad state of events. No record stores for me is the main problem. Whom do you envy? The diner sitting next to me. What was your first encounter with rock ‘n’ roll? Did you like it instantly? I was in the front row for the first rock ‘n’ roll tour of Europe, which was Bill Haley and his Comets. I was 11 years old, and it was a moment. You’re an admirer of Marcel Duchamp’s art. Have you ever seen his ‘Étant donnés’? For me, something about it has a strange resonance with your work. Perhaps this is because I spent too many hours staring at Roxy Music album covers as an adolescent. Yes, I have. And all of his work is of great interest to me. How much he has influenced me I cannot tell. What do you plan to work on next? Who knows? BRYAN FERRY’S ART SHOW, OLYMPIA, OPENS OCT. 20 AT THE MICHAEL KOHN GALLERY, 8071 BEVERLY BLVD., L.A. KOHNGALLERY. COM. VISIT BRYAN FERRY AT BRYANFERRY.COM. INTERVIEW


THE FLYTRAPS Interview by Janet Housden Photography by Lauren Everett

This interview took place in Laura’s backyard in Highland Park or Glassell Park, or maybe some other park. The backyard features a large cabana/palapa thing with a hot tub and a collection of disturbing statuary. More on that below. Other subjects covered included the perils of surfing, Satanism, and the band’s one epic California hot tub party. There was a lot of laughing and yelling and talking all at once. The members are spread out all over SoCal—Laura is originally from Kansas and now lives in L.A., Beth lives in San Pedro, Marz and Kristin are in San Clemente. I was tragically unaware of your existence until yesterday, so I haven’t really done my homework. Just feel free to talk any shit you want—lies, slander, it’s all good. How long have you been together? Kristin (bass/vocals): Probably almost a year? Marz (rhythm guitar/vocals): I play rhythm guitar and I’m the lead singer. I’ve been in bands since I was 12, but it’s my second semiserious band. And my favorite. K: This is probably my most listenable band. I play bass, I sing sometimes ... I was in a really shitty punk band before. We’ve all been in shitty punk bands. The older you get, the more you fear Google. What were some of the bands that you’ve been in? M: Mine was Marz and the Mess. K: Mine was Dehumanized. The trashy, surfy garage rock thing has been around for a long time, but somehow never gets old. What is it about it? Laura (drums): The songs are usually short, it’s fun to listen to ... M: We’re not showing off. It might help that we do live in California and people do surf. I think a lot of people in surf bands didn’t really surf. M: The Beach Boys didn’t even surf! One of them drowned! How fucking ironic is that?! It’s even more ironic than that—the one that drowned was the only one that surfed! So explain these creepy mannequins. L: We moved in here almost two months ago, and when we came to look at this house it was the backyard that really sold me. It was just ... I feel like we walked into somebody else’s dream. The landlord asked me if I wanted her to take all the statues away and I was like, ‘Please leave them.’ There’s a giant John Wayne in the corner, but my two favorite statues are the hot dog that’s pouring ketchup on itself, and this thing of french fries that’s eating itself, like, with crazy bug eyes. And I like to look directly into the woman right here, the butler woman’s eyes. She has the creepiest eyes I’ve ever seen in my life. Those are pretty demented—so there’s a butler and a maid and half of a slaughtered pig hanging upside down? M: If you turn it around you can see its guts. And there’s also a giant palm tree lamp and a Marilyn Monroe. L: And there’s a little Elvis ... K: His guitar is backwards. Dyslexic Elvis! L: Everything you see, it came with the house. The first time we had a party here, we had a hot tub party, and there was a boom box alINTERVIEW

ready out here, and we turned the radio on and it immediately started playing the Eagles. It was perfect! We didn’t even change the station all night. What kind of people owned this house? M: People with John Wayne statues who liked to party! L: How could you live here and not party? Look at this place! We had that one party and then the landlord emptied the hot tub the next day and told us we couldn’t use it anymore. ... It was kind of a bummer, but we’re just gonna refill it. Let the dog swim in it. Landlord revenge is an art. You have to be subtle and make it look like an accident. L: She sold us on the hot tub, like, ‘This place has a hot tub! Don’t forget about the hot tub!’ Then we use it once ... Apparently there was a cigarette butt in it. Like one cigarette butt. She told us that it broke the hot tub. At least you got to have one California hot tub party. L: That party was pretty epic. Being an all-girl band, do you ever get, like, douchebag promoters going, ‘We’re gonna have all-girl night!’ and they try to lump you in with a bunch of bands you have nothing in common with? Everyone: Oh yeah. K: We got asked to play at a lesbian club at Que Sera once. M: Everyone assumes we’re like, feminists. That’s cool, but they just come at us like ‘Sooooo ... what do you think about feminist rights?’ Just because we’re all girls. Yeah—I still see bands, mostly lame ones, trying to pull the whole ‘we’re blazing new trails for women in rock ‘n’ roll’ routine. They’ve been saying that for 40 years! K: Yeah, I hate it. It’s been fucking done. M: I can’t stand it. Then why did you want to be all girls? L: It just sort of happened like that. K: We just wanna play music. It’s not that I’m uncomfortable around guys, but you can’t really have the same connection. K: We can just go to practice and not give a fuck about anything. We do have that feminine bonding or whatever. Back in the day, we used to have these guys called GBGs—Girl Band Geeks— and they were just like the creepiest dudes that would follow female musicians around. K: That shit still happens! M: It’s flattering, but we definitely know where you’re coming from with this question.

The hardcore GBGs were kind of scary. Some of them, you just knew they had severed ears in their refrigerator at home. K: Like locks of our hair! I would like to think that they’re just into the music, but in the back of my mind I think they, you know ... M: Last night was a perfect example. K: We played on a Marine base! Camp Pendleton, last night. M: I’ve never heard so many cheesy pick-up lines in a row. That’s more like a normal dude thing. I’m thinking of those weird guys who say, ‘I only like bands with girls in them,’ and they show up and take lots of pictures. Anyway—do you have serious ambitions for the band? K: We wanna travel—all over everywhere. That’d be fucking sick, if we could afford it. I just wanna have a good time. M: More than anything else, I just wanna fucking travel. Everywhere. I’ve heard rumors that they treat American bands nicer in Europe than they do here. K: I don’t know, my friend’s band just toured over there, and this one vegan blogger or some shit spread all these rumors that they were, like, racist. And the singer’s Mexican! They just went to Europe a few weeks ago and they had all this shit happen—like their drivers dropped out ... it was fucked up. Just from like one person misinterpreting something. M: I moved here from Belgium six years ago. My grandpa’s husband is some big producer guy in Europe. K: What the fuck? Hook us up! M: I hate to bring up the whole girl thing, but honestly the fact that we’re all girls, they would eat it up over there. Because the talent in Europe, it’s such a lower standard. [Laughs] I’m just talking about Belgium. Belgium is just Eurotrash pop, that kind of thing. But they really like American bands. They really like American culture. And I can say this cuz I moved from there. If you guys were all trapped somewhere, and it was just the members of your band, and you’re trapped on a ship lost at sea or in a fallout shelter or something, and you have a kitchen, and you have condiments, and all the things you usually find in a kitchen, but you have no food—who in the band would you kill and eat first, and how would you prepare them? Everyone except Marz: Marz! M: I don’t have any meat on my bones! K: Roast her up on a fucking rotisserie. M: No one would miss me.

K: Well, you’d be the most delicious. You have the lean muscle. L: And she’s from Belgium. M: I’d taste like waffles and beer. OK, so me. What would be your ultimate gig? K: We want to play with the Mummies. M: Mummies, for sure. I just saw them in S.F.—I’ve been waiting to see them for years and years. Russell Quan is the God of Rock ‘n’ Roll. K: He was so fucking sick. He was like reading off a grocery store coupon list, like, ‘You can pick up a head of lettuce for 99 cents,’ while the rest of his band were putting on their mummy costumes. I saw them once, and near the end of the set the Farfisa player just opened the door and threw his Farfisa into the street. I was like, ‘This is the best band ever!’ K: They still had tons of energy—the singer was picking up his keyboard over his head and acting like he was going to throw it at me. When I went to google you guys, the first thing that came up was this pop band of Thai ladyboys called Venus Flytrap. Who’d win in a fistfight—you or the ladyboys? K: I fight dirty. M: I’m 5’10’ and I surf, and Kristin is just a nutcase. Laura’s a nutcase, and Beth is quiet— but it’s the quiet ones you’ve gotta watch out for, so honestly, like, watch out. You have a picture of Anton LaVey on your MySpace page. Are you guys all evil and shit? Or do you just like his fashion sense? K: Anton LaVey is fuckin’ rad. He just didn’t give a fuck about offending anyone. He just did what he wanted to do and that was his whole philosophy. Beth (lead guitar): Didn’t he plagiarize? I just heard that he stole all his material from somewhere else. He’s into Satan! You’re allowed to do that stuff when you’re into Satan. K: His whole philosophy was like do what you want. Don’t hurt anyone else but do what you want. He stole that one for sure. M: ‘Good artists copy, great artists steal.’ K: My mom saw it on MySpace and was like, ‘You need to delete that right now!’ I wanted to appease her, like, ‘OK Mom, we’ll take some of the Satanist stuff off our internet page,’ and MySpace would not let me do it! MySpace supports Satanism. You heard it from me. CONTACT THE FLYTRAPS AT THEFLYTRAPS666@GMAIL.COM. 33


MOAB Interview by Ron Garmon Photography by Julie Patterson

Ab Ovo, power trio Moab’s debut full-length, is proof the musical zeitgeist will spontaneously generate doom rock if society first supplies enough doom. Veteran L.A. guitarist Andrew Giacumakis founded Moab with drummer Erik Herzog out of a determination to meet the zephyr-like nature of L.A. indie with something a trifle louder and more cathartic than mere twee. This is hair-raising music, with lots of bubbly subtleties submerged underneath the album’s pitiless metallic force. The whole pigiron mass displays a considerable knack for postrock melody along with a cinematic sense of space and how to chop it up for effect. Here, the guitarist reminds us that, while the underground has many chambers, there is very little chamber music being played there. How did this project get started? Andrew Giacumakis (vocals/guitar): The drummer and I were in a coupla bands together for the last ten years or so and decided we wanted to do something heavy around 2008 or so. I’m a recording engineer, so we just made a project of minimal recording, not really trying to be a band. Then we got Casey Barclay on bass and we were a real band from there. We began gigging around L.A. in I think 2009, maybe? We played Mountain Bar, Three of Clubs, that whole scene. Sometimes warehouses, that whole underground scene. What are times like for heavy music here in buzz-band-obsessed L.A.? It’s totally underground, or at least that’s my experience of it. I think it always will be, but what I’m finding is there’s a large core of fans that likes both and that’s kind of where I come from. What kind of progression is Ab Ovo from your previous recorded work in other outfits? In the other bands I was in, I wasn’t really the songwriter, just the guitarist or bassist or drummer. I’ve always been a riff-writer, ever since I was a little kid, I just never knew what to do with it. As soon as I got into a heavy band, I started documenting it. Why did you switch over from indie to heavy music? I was in indie bands because that was the popular thing going at the time and I didn’t know anybody who played heavy music until I met the drummer, Erik. All those arty people didn’t appreciate that stuff. At some point, we just needed to get that aggression out and exorcise the demons—something which has no place in the preciousness of indie rock. This is way more like a piece of sound design than your typical metal album, with lots of arty flourishes. Thanks. I’ve dabbled in sound design and it has always been an interest of mine. INTERVIEW

How much attention do you pay to the overall arc of the record? This is quite the cohesive slab of moody twisted thought. Like a classic rock album. That’s very intentional. I view albums as a listening experience and think it should be as cinematic as I can make it, which I’m gonna get into further on other albums. The Beatles, Zeppelin, Rush and a lot of the prog bands made these carefully crafted listening experiences, and we kinda wanted to achieve that. Who did you work for as an engineer? I do post-production. Mixing and/or editing. That’s obvious. You guys built a studio. When and where? In Simi Valley. We built it about ten years ago out of half of a warehouse and a construction buddy helped us. It gives us a lot of control—we record the guitars inside the practice room, but the drums are done out in the warehouse to get that nice roomy sound. What next? We’re kinda writing the next record and all of us have jobs and two of us have kids and families and mortgages, so we can’t hit the road like maniacs, so we’re still up in the air on hitting the road and how long. We have a booking agent and the earliest we’ll be hitting the road is early 2012. We’re writing a new record, since the one that’s coming out now is about a year old. One song, ‘Dimensioner,’ is about two years old. We finished the record on our own, determined the track sequence, mastered it and shopped it as a finished product. We’ve been done with it for a long time but when we got onto Kemado, people began paying attention to it. I have to keep reminding myself people are just hearing it for the first time. We’re writing like crazy, but there’s no telling when the next record will come out. How’s gigging coming along?

Right now we’re working with a booking agent and trying to get the whole South by Southwest thing worked out, so I think we’re gonna play that. Before that, I think we’re gonna play in L.A. a coupla times. What’s the weirdest thing you ever saw at a show? A guy was so drunk that he started doing push-ups right in front of the stage we were playing. That was kinda weird. That’s being moved. Who are your guitar heroes? My guitar heroes would have to be Jimmy Page and … um … who else after that? Jimmy Page? I love his playing so much, I’ll just go with Jimmy Page. How does being an engineer yourself figure into making a DIY record? A hell of a lot of decisions about what a song sounds like on the recording as opposed to how it sounds in the room. It plays a big factor, I think, the ability to go back and jigger something that’s not right as opposed to thinking about paying someone else more money because you wanna fix something that’s not right. That’s always been sort of an issue working with other engineers in different bands when recording. It always seems there’s some sort of sacrifice that’s made because of time or money and when you’re doing it yourself on your own dime, that’s really not an issue. You get to get it right. Why the name ‘Moab,’ which is a reference to a now-dead Biblical kingdom? That comes from my childhood, actually. I grew up in Israel—Jerusalem—from when I was 6 to 12 years old. My dad was a Biblical historian and we always had these ancient maps around our house and I was always smitten with that word. When I picked the name, I had no idea it was a place in Utah! It was what is now modern-day Jordan. I grew up with maps with that word all over it and I just like it.

How would you classify the band’s music? You know, that record gets reviewed a lot as ‘ultra-Sabbathian’ and all that stuff, but I don’t think we are that way. I think the record is a kind of moment in time when that’s how we were writing. We’re writing a new record now, and it’s not gonna be Sabbathian. I don’t know how to really classify it. If you go by that record, you’d have to say ‘Black Sabbathian with California desert rock influences.’ Your voice gets compared to Ozzy Osbourne’s … Yeah. All the time. The riffs are Sabbathian, that’s intentional, but the fact that I come out sounding like that isn’t. When I sing high and loud, that’s just what it sounds like. You could wind up sounding like Billy Joel and fucking the whole thing massively. Right. What’s the typical subject matter of one of your songs? Mostly I’m complaining or talking about either religion or science. I’m sorta agnostic and see a lot of people doing things in the name of religion or science and I kinda question them both. I try to keep the lyrics pretty ambiguous. I know what I mean by what I say, but I try to keep it mysterious to figure out. That’s why I don’t print lyrics. For me personally, as a fan of rock ‘n roll, I always liked tryin’ to figure out what they were saying or not knowing what they were saying and I liked that mysterious element of rock when I was a kid and I think that’s missing today. There’s not a lotta mystery left in bands, and I want to bring that back. MOAB WITH HUNTRESS AND IDES OF GEMINI ON FRI., NOV. 11, AT THE VIPER ROOM, 8852 W. SUNSET BLVD., WEST HOLLYWOOD. 9 PM / $12-$15 / 21+. VIPERROOM.COM. MOAB’S AB OVO IS OUT NOW ON KEMADO. VISIT MOAB AT MYSPACE. COM/MOABINTHESKY. 37


TAV FALCO Interview by Gabriel Hart Illustration by champoyhate

Singer/songwriter/historian/preservationist/deconstructionist/filmmaker/photographer/provocateur/ lover/actor/rebel/tango dancer/best hair in the world/expatriate American original Tav Falco is truly all of these things. In 1978 he ended his infamous performance at the Orpheum in Memphis by chainsawing a guitar in half—some sparks hitting Alex Chilton, which led to the two of them igniting the Unapproachable Panther Burns, an “art-damage” poly-rhythmed rockabilly freakshow with a manifesto to “stir the dark waters of the unconscious” through the reinterpreting of some of the best blemishes of early American music. Thirty-three years later, we see the release of Conjurations: Seance For Deranged Lovers, which happens to be Tav’s first album of all original material and, according to him, the band’s “mission statement.” He also just finished a book, “Mondo Memphis,” a roman noir historical study of the storied town. I listened intently to the man for 45 minutes out of our two-hour long interview before I could ask a question, and I didn’t want him to stop. He almost didn’t. When did Conjurations get released? It came out last year, in July, in Europe. It came out on Stag-O-Lee Records, part of Glitterhouse Records. It’s gotten around pretty good in Europe. We worked for quite a while toward getting a release in the U.S.A. We were turned down by every independent label in the United States—in North America. Rejected, tossed out, thrown in the trash and ignored. So finally we broke through with Cosmodelic Records. We went to Revenant Records, Rhino Records, we went to everybody, you know, for domestic release. Rounder, Matador, all of them. They all thought they had their Panther Burns in someone else, but they’ll never get it. They’ll never get it. It’s one of the things, really, that drove me away from the States. You know, like Robert Mitchum said, ‘In the United States, if I’m an actor and I happen to be out of work, I’m a bum. If I’m an actor in Europe and I’m out of work, I’m an artist.’ … So, we brought out this record [Panther Phobia] on In the Red, and Larry Hardy wanted a certain kind of record from Panther Burns, and I had come back from Europe to test the U.S.A. once more—it was a big mistake, of course, but anyway, I came back for a couple of years and I was surrounded by a group of people who could only make this kind of record, period. And Larry wanted this kind of record, so he came up to me after a show in Memphis and put $6000 in my pocket and asked for this record. So I thought, ‘Why not?’ I can do this kind of record like falling off a log. So I did it, and I stand behind it, but it was only one side of Panther Burns, and Larry didn’t want the whole banana. You know, a lot of people aren’t ready for the whole banana. They think they are, but they’re not. We wanted to do something different, we wanted to experiment. They have an idea of what Panther Burns is, but they’re not really willing to consult with the group and look at what is really possible. So I did that record, 38

and I talked to Larry later about the Conjurations album. I sent him the demo—the first demo I ever made for a record, which was also a mistake, I should never make a demo, I’ll never make another one—so that demo was turned down. Larry said, ‘Oh, it’s too lounge. I’ll buy the record when it comes out, it’s just my audience isn’t gonna buy it.’ I said, ‘OK.’ So it took about nine years to get this record released without compromise. I knew I had something when everyone turned it down. I knew then that, artistically, for Panther Burns, it was going to be an important record and it turns out, it is an album of all original songs, and it is the manifestation of the vision of Panther Burns. It is a career statement. Thirty years later—actually, going into the 33rd year of Panther Burns. So you have something of a culmination of our thinking, of our vision. Even though the lineup has changed over time, even though we have reinvented ourselves, but always within the identity and within the context of the original Panther Burns. We haven’t changed the Orphic vision of Panther Burns. It is still our job, our mission, to stir up the dark waters of the unconscious, and that’s what we do. We’re the last steam engine train left on the track that don’t do nothing but run and blow. That’s the way it was from the beginning and that’s the way it always will be, although we have evolved. As any art form—like jazz, or even rock ‘n’ roll, we have embraced other art forms, like tango, like samba, rumba, uh … jazz, standards— we’ve played and drawn from a number of genres. I could have stayed in Memphis. I could have been a rocker in Memphis all this time, and been that, and maybe I could have done alright. And maybe I’d have a larger audience. Maybe people would understand us better. But for me, it’s not what I want to do. Alex Chilton used to criticize me. He said, ‘You know, this is entertainment, Tav. You’re trying to make it into something else. You’re

an entertainer.’ Well, that’s part of it for sure, but for me, I started the band out of frustration. I came to Memphis from Arkansas to be a filmmaker and a photographer, and I did that. But there came a point, a very frustrating point, where I felt like I couldn’t go any further in Memphis and I began to feel very antiestablishment there. I was always considered trash from Arkansas in that town anyway. How were you perceived in Memphis? I started from the underground in Memphis. And when I go back, on November 12, it’ll still be the Panther Burns from the underground. I’m gonna make a little appearance at Goner Records, but those people even turned down the Conjurations record. They laughed at it. You see how particular our vision is. The garage scene can be very close-minded. They like what they like, but it’s like Charlie Feathers told me once. He said, ‘Tav, if you’re not doing something different, you’re not doing anything at all.’ You can’t create art or a band out of a vacuum. It’s never going to be totally original, uninfluenced by anything. But you can constellate your own vision out of what is given you in your environment, and to what you are drawn—spiritually, artistically, musically, and otherwise. With that, you can create something original. And I think there is an original gradient in Panther Burns, and that’s what we cultivate. And if it’s out of style or out of trend, we’ll live through that, we’ll survive it. … You know, we tend to polarize an audience, but invariably there are those in that audience who are elated and who are moved to emotion and to dance, and there are others who greet us with howls of contempt. I’ve tried to turn other people on to you before, and half are like, ‘This is one of the most compelling things I’ve ever heard,’ and the other half say, ‘What the hell is going on?’ But I think the latter is one of the biggest compliments.

The thing is, now I can sing, whereas in the beginning I didn’t sing so well, But when you work with Alex Chilton long enough, you’re around someone who’s an incredible singer—one of the best of his generation, one of the best guitar players of his time. So I learned from good people, the best in Memphis, and that’s something you live with and you grow with, and it stays with you. It’s not something I would ever deny or turn my back on simply because there’s no place for me in that cutthroat town, or places like L.A. or New York. I mean, yeah, I could survive in New York and I’m able to make money there—there are people who understand me in New York, but it’s the job of the artist to make himself understood. We have an audience in Europe, we have an audience in the United States. I’m not complaining, I’m grateful that there are people there who embrace the Panther Burns and who are looking forward to the music we record and to our shows and to us coming back and performing there. But I have trepidation about the States. I feel that Memphis is a place that kills artists. I’ve seen them murdered. I’ve seen it in New Orleans. It’s a very violent scene. I’ve seen it in L.A. L.A. is a hard scene, you know. It can be. If you don’t have money. If you don’t have insulation. If you don’t have a cozy little pad in Hollywood Hills, uh, it can be kind of edgy. There are wonderful people in Los Angeles—I have quite a number of good friends there. I’d like to spend more time there, but I get a little nervous because I don’t know what’s going to happen next in the sense that I’m trying to bring something out from the interior. I’m not trying to do something that’s totally commercial and I feel like I’m in a commercial environment, for the most part. Beyond geography, what kind of world do the Panther Burns try to conjure? INTERVIEW


The Panther Burns evoke the Orphic vision— it’s not a mystical vision—it is the vision of Orpheus, it’s the vision of music, it’s the vision of going down into the underground, into the underworld, into the unconscious. That is our domain. That is our realm. It’s not the mystical heavens, it’s a different kind of poetry. It’s the poetry of not the shiny side of the moon, but the darker side. Luciferian? Not really. Because Lucifer called himself the Prince of Light. We’re not Satanic. It’s a poetic vision. It’s a vision of music, it’s a vision of the interior—an expressionistic vision. … The symbolist poets—Rimbaud, Baudelaire—they were under the spell of the Orphic vision. They weren’t mystics— it was something different. And this is the realm in which we work. Is there a reason you chose American roots music initially to express this? This is what I was surrounded with in Memphis—was blues music, was early rock ‘n’ roll music, was Karl Heinz Stockhausen, was Eric Dolphy, was John Coltrane, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf—these are all people I saw come to Memphis, except Stockhausen, of course. I saw Dizzy Gillespie and some other jazz people. John Fahey … An artist draws from what’s around him, and this was the environment. To me, John Fahey was the epitome of the American guitarist, a visionary. Also a product of the Orphic vision, in my view. … You listen to Fahey and it’s totally original, totally Orphic, totally transcendent, totally poetic. I don’t know anyone like him. That’s why I took this up because that was what was around me. … I started playing rock ‘n’ roll because it was an extreme form of Dionysian ritual and celebration. It was freeing and liberating and erotic, sexual, abandoned, political—all of these things. I felt there was something I could do within this medium, but mainly it was a nonintellectual-type release. I was playing blues, strictly, and filming blues people. And when I met Alex, I did this happening at the Orpheum Theatre with Mud Boy and the Neutrons—I was a dancer in his band … It’s all in my book, Mondo Memphis. Is that where you chainsawed the guitar? Yeah, I chainsawed the guitar playing ‘The Bourgeois Blues’ by Leadbelly. [Alex] was in the audience that night, among those who became rather hysterical during this happening, where I did destroy the guitar. I did meet him about a month or so later at a soiree at my house in Memphis, on the wrong side of the tracks. He knew rock ‘n’ roll, and I knew something of rudimentary blues, so, I don’t know, there was just some sort of kindred spirit there when we met, and Alex urged me to start a band, and he said he would play guitar in it for a while. Should we talk about Mondo Memphis? Yeah, sure. That book turned out to be a massive undertaking. Had I known it was going to be that much involvement, over three years, I’m not sure I would have signed a contract on it. It came through a journalist who had interviewed me on a long piece on noise music. He wanted me to answer a number of questions, so 40

I spent a week answering those questions, and turned in almost twenty pages. We started corresponding a lot. His name is Erik Morse. … He worked for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, still writes for them, writes for Frieze … Anyway, Erik got this overture from Creation Books, which had started with Creation Records in the U.K. So, we got this deal to do a book on Memphis. Erik has volume 2, I’ve got volume 1. Erik has turned out to write a fictive account—a shorter piece. Mine is rather lengthy, maybe too long. It’s kind of a historio-fictive account up to the period in Memphis in which I was living. So the book starts before the Civil War and it goes through each epoch and ends in the 90s, with Panther Burns and with Tav Falco. Tav Falco enters the book rather late— the last two chapters out of thirteen deal with Tav Falco and what happened around him. The book is in first person, but not in the name of Tav Falco. It’s Eugene Baffle, which is the alter ego of Tav Falco. Eugene Baffle is the one who came out on stage at the Orpheum Theatre and destroyed the guitar, with Mud Boy and the Neutrons. Eugene Baffle met Tav Falco some months after that event. How do the two personalities differ? Well, Eugene Baffle was a little more reticent, and a little more introspective. He’s an observer, he’s someone who deals more with experiential knowledge. When they met— they looked a lot alike. They had similar interests in a lot of areas. Falco was more of a hipster and he was more of a—well, is, he’s still out there, playing and touring around in godforsaken places—more of a performer, an instigator of happenings, anti-environment actions, publicity stunts, jokes, double entendre. Baffle was more of a sincere type individual, not so complicated. Basically a kind of a litmus, kind of observer, more of a follower. … Baffle had more of a political consciousness than Tav Falco, and more of a social conscience, whereas Falco is more of a rock ‘n’ roller. Not that he didn’t have sensitivity, because he was an interpreter. That’s what Falco is. That’s what Jerry Lee Lewis told me he did once. He said, ‘You know, I interpret songs. That’s it. I’m an interpreter.’ Jerry Lee didn’t write songs. But on this last album, Falco ended up writing some songs, and I think he did a surprising job with it. Eugene Baffle lives in Paris and he runs with Gypsies. He lives a very carefree, although frugal, existence. You described Tav Falco as a ‘hipster.’ Unfortunately, that word is used as more of a slur today. In the outlook of Tav Falco, we’re talking about people who he would idolize—a hipster is like Chet Baker, or like Allen Ginsberg, who he knew personally. Or someone like William S. Burroughs, who dressed in a canary yellow suit and hung out in the Orient and Tangiers and smoked opium and had hallucinations. These were elegant people on one side, and on the other side these were people who would travel on the road, like Jack Kerouac. I don’t know how in touch people still are with that in the States, with that movement in the 50s

and 60s. When I came to do that show for Arthur magazine at the Palace Theatre, I saw a lot of bearded and sandaled hipsterlooking-type people. I saw people looking like a lot of the hippies I knew in San Francisco when I was out there. It’s an ethos to embrace; it’s an ideology. Timothy Leary, you know, and that group of writers and experimentalists in his cabal. They were interesting people. They made a lot of interesting experiments, there was a revolution. On the one hand, we sacrificed a lot in that revolution. We gained a lot and we sacrificed a lot. We sacrificed a certain social fabric. We sacrificed a certain sense of style. We sacrificed social dancing. That went out the window. The embrace in dancing was gone with psychedelia. It’s interesting because psychedelia identified itself with communalism and togetherness. The form, and the embrace, and certain formalistic and ritualistic attributes. But, I suppose those had to be sacrificed to some degree for there to be an all-encompassing revolution like we did have. … Now, people who survived the revolution—they’re going back and they’re retrieving that which was important to retrieve; that which was lost and discarded they’re bringing back, and they’re preserving that and celebrating it once again. Do you see that as a form of nostalgia? Nostalgia is a diversion—it’s a form of entertainment. I’m saying when people go back to celebrate certain forms and rituals and social practices and dances and certain kinds of art or music, there’s nostalgic revival on the one hand and then there’s going back and reinventing genres that were shut out. To use dance as an example. Social dancing is being rediscovered again—not in a revivalist or nostalgic way, there’s a gradient of nostalgia there, but it’s become part of the fabric of day-to-day life. People are going out and dancing Cuban dances—the habanera— again, because they feel it. They want to do it. It’s more than just sheer nostalgia that’s drawing them back. Do you ever see a revolution happening again in America? I think there is a threshold where you can push people too far. What it would take would be a kind of class revolution. It would take some real starvation, some real deprivation in the United States before there would be any kind of serious response to political and cultural organizing. … It would have to be like the 1930s or like the 1960s in the sense that we have a mandatory draft and a huge military conflict. … All the great hopes we had for the Obama administration, and I still hope, if he’s re-elected—and of course I will vote for him—hopefully he will be more of himself in the second term. But we do have these huge military engagements today that are destroying our country, destroying our credibility in the world, undermining our creative and moral fiber in the United States. Really undermining the American ideal. America once had a noble vision and I don’t think it has it anymore. Most people in the States seem to me totally concerned

with materialistic well-being. They go and they pray on Sundays, and they give lip service to these Christian ideals, and they go out during the week, and they’re hypocrites and they don’t even realize that. All through the bible belt and in California too, our politicians prey off these people and their thinking and their mentality. … I can’t live over there right now. Do you feel like living over here affects your integrity? I just feel like I would be destroyed. I think, artistically, I would be reduced on a certain level that I’m able to pursue in Europe. Hey, Europe’s had its dark chapters. It has a culture here of art and music and theater. We have that, to an extent, in the United States, but here it’s the fabric of everyday existence. It’s open to everybody. I don’t have to be rich to lead the kind of life here that I would have to have a lot of money in the United States. I would have to work two jobs in the States to survive, and I’d be caught up in materialistic things. Here, I can live la boheme vie—a bohemian life—without degradation. The argument we use here in L.A. is that the anxiety and the oppression—when you feel like your artistry is being pushed in a corner—it makes you work harder and good things come out of that. Do you think that’s a delusion or do you find any merit in that? It can produce some very vital responses, and can generate a lot of thoughtful work. This is how I started—I’m a product of those kinds of forces and pressures, but I must say that my best work, I think, has come out since I’ve been in this environment, in Europe. I’m not on the rock ‘n’ roll scene here; I don’t hang out with rock ‘n’ roll people. I hang out with dancers and theater people and artists and filmmakers. Not that I don’t like rock ‘n’ roll people, but I’m in a city that’s not a rock ‘n’ roll city, for one thing. So I have the distance, culturally, to look at my own culture in the United States—I’m able to look into the culture as an outsider, and then I have the distance to come into my environment in which I live, and be able to get in touch with myself without distraction, and to learn more about what I’m thinking and who I am and who the people around me are and how I really want to cultivate what I’m doing. I didn’t have this kind of perception when I was living in the States. It was always these other pressures involved just to stay alive, just to survive, to scratch out an existence as an artist. And it takes a lot of time to do that. TAV FALCO AND THE PANTHER BURNS WITH KEN STRINGFELLOW AND JAIL WEDDINGS ON THURS., NOV. 10, AT THE ECHO, 1822 SUNSET BLVD., ECHO PARK. 8:30 PM / $12 / 18+. ATTHEECHO.COM. TAV FALCO READS FROM HIS BOOK, MONDO MEMPHIS, ON THURS., NOV. 10, AT STORIES, 1716 W. SUNSET BLVD., ECHO PARK. 7:30 PM / FREE / ALL AGES. STORIESLA.COM. VISIT TAV FALCO AND THE PANTHER BURNS AT MYSPACE.COM/PANTHERBURNS. INTERVIEW


THE NOCTURNES Interview by Matt Dupree Photography by Kevin Bautista

The Nocturnes write wistful and expansive, ahem, nocturnes with a silky melancholy that would make Nathaniel Hawthorne blush. They have a new album out named after the suicide forest in Japan and if you were extra-lucky, you got the free flexi they (and we) glued into 500 issues of this very issue! (Check page 41 to see if you got oneâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;or to see how to get one!) Guitarist/vocalist Emma Ruth Rundle (also of Red Sparowes) and bassist Paris Patt took us to the Santa Monica cemetery to sit on the grave-bench of a Mrs. Teller and discuss anime.


“I’m not gonna lie to you, I watch a lot of anime.” Why are we in the cemetery? Emma Ruth Rundle (guitar/vocals): Because it’s hugely cliché. Also it’s the only place I could think of that’s not a horrible café or a dive bar. I thought about McCabe’s, where we both work, but they’re having a concert. Paris Patt (bass/vocals): It would’ve been hectic. It would’ve been cool, but we would have been disturbed. I don’t know, the cemetery seems vaguely appropriate. It does! Especially since the album title, Aokigahara—the Japanese suicide forest— is a place of death. PP: We wanted to lure you in. We actually bought a plot, and we’re going to bury you alive. ERR: You asked for some place appropriate. I figured it was a good ice-breaker. Either you’d come up with something cool, or you’d just say, ‘Fuck it. Let’s go to Starbucks.’ And then we’d be at boring-ass Starbucks and there’d be no personal boundaries or pretense. ERR: Yeah, and there’s that thing when you’re out a Starbucks and there’s like a dude that’s got a script out and he’s blatantly reading his script or doing something industry-related— it’s a very douchey move. PP: Don’t be afraid of our mysterious boundaries. We’ll bare all. ERR: Definitely a humor choice. PP: We’re not incredibly serious, but at the same time we have vague respects for the spiritual world, and dead people. Except for Mrs. Teller. PP: ‘Who are those kids in the cemetery sittin’ on my bench?!’ It’s interesting that you used death as a thematic element that’s not an American concept of death. It seems like the Japanese interpretation of death is more of a natural ceasefire on life. ERR: Yeah, just like the Shinto—I’m not gonna lie to you, I watch a lot of anime. That’s what I do in my spare time. Very obsessed with, like, Japanese fantasy, and feudal-era Japanese ideas of spirituality … as expressed through cartoons now. One of the things I found fascinating was that it wasn’t just a place for suicide, but sometimes they would take their grandparents out to the forest— PP: To die. ERR: So it’s sort of a sacred place. PP: It’s almost like the haven that elves go to in Lord of the Rings at the end of their lives. ERR: I’m not going to Lord of the Rings with you! PP: I kind of like that the theme of death through the album isn’t meant to be depressing or weird or scary. It’s just, maybe … calling notice to it. INTERVIEW

ERR: And not all the songs are that way. The title of the album is the title track, and that’s really where the concept lies. That’s what the foundation for the whole vibe of the album is. The lyrics are written as a letter to that place, to the forest. For instance, the song ‘Cradle’ is kind of a compilation of traditional songs that are all about the idea of dying. PP: It’s also kind of the absence, like, ‘Who will rock the cradle?’ Someone not being there to take care of you. ERR: Which is a huge theme for me, and was. The last song too, that was about my grandmother. Yeah … she be dead. Other than that we didn’t really talk about themes. Except for ‘The Road,’ which we decided would sort of reference the book—that apocalyptic landscape. And then it just turned into a weird love song, which was definitely a Paris and Emma moment. It was Julian’s [Rifkin, guitarist] song, and then we rearranged it. PP: And I guess that’s what I was originally saying. It was cool and weird and awesome and bizarre that we all collaborated so easily— because a lot of those songs it was like Julian’s song and we took it over. Or the other way around. Not so much from Julian, because he wasn’t forceful in that way, and me and Emma have been there with our own bands. So we were like the fiery director-types, and he was a cooling touch. ERR: And that’s how it is on tour, too. Paris and I are at each other’s throats. PP: We’re fuckin’ crazy. And Julian’s just this very nice, dapper, handsome man who doesn’t get angry. But I’d say conceptually we didn’t bring much in … we didn’t have much intention. It was just that we had a span of time that we had to get it done. ERR: The basic lyrics and songs were there. When we did ‘Aokigahara,’ that was a Paris song and then it changed. I wrote the melody and lyrics and stuff. Everything was just briefly touched upon. There was never any discussion like, ‘Hey, did you just write this weird thing about killing yourself?’ PP: We weren’t ruminating on it. It wasn’t a Beach Boys thing. Because we had that window of time, we couldn’t dwell on it. A lot of the guitar work was all one take. ‘Aokigahara’ was one take. I went in there one night drunk. ERR: You were out of your mind. Marty Rifkin [producer, father of guitarist Julian] was like, ‘This is gonna be this band in my studio?’ PP: I hadn’t really met Marty before, so that was an interesting first impression. Showing up drunk, recording the whole song, and I think doing well, but still. I feel bad about it … So I’d say, conceptually, we brought booze. Beer-gaze is what it is.

You guys did a Kickstarter drive for the band. What did you think of it? ERR: It’s great. I had a problem with the idea at first. I did one for my solo record. It felt like asking for money. My mindset was changed though after that first experiment. It’s a much more practical way for you to interact directly with your listeners. And people who want your music or want other things from you as an artist can get those things directly. You don’t have to go through a middle person, and it’s a much more personal connection to your listener base and actual human beings. And you can come up with things that are different from the usual merch. ERR: Most of this Kickstarter for us was artwork. Watercolor paintings and things. It’s a creative way for small bands to get funded and connect with a community. PP: I think the nice thing about it is, for instance, playing a show—your friends might come, fans might come, and the question is always ‘Where does the money go?’ You have the promoter, you have the club. I’ve played so many shows where we bring a lot of people and we see no money. There’s some bullshit excuse. And the thing I like about Kickstarter is that it’s obvious where the money’s going and what you’re getting. There’s a certain point when you’re playing locally in L.A. that your friends stop coming. Even fans will only come once in a blue moon because they’re paying eight bucks at the Silverlake Lounge to see you play and it sounds like shit and they can only get a CD that they already have. So it’s nice that you can offer, like, a painting. Emma, you do a lot of art outside of music, especially the cover art for the albums. When you decide to do it, do you just find an old baby picture and work your way out from there? ERR: Haha! No, the baby finds its way into the picture. The creepy baby just ends up in there. And that’s not the theme of all of my work—it just somehow ended up being in the artwork for both albums. I like that style. It’s something I’ve just been on the side doing, the photo collage stuff. What happened between the last record and this one? Because they sound nothing alike. ERR: Nothing alike. Other than a couple of years passing, we didn’t have Daniel [Yasmin] in the band anymore. Collaborating with Paris and Julian, definitely, that’s what changed things. And it wasn’t drum-driven at all. All the songs were written without drums, and the other record wasn’t like that at all. The other record was all about the … the … PP: The duo dynamic. ERR: Yeah. Which is weird, because the songs themselves as demos sounded a lot like this

record, Aokigahara. They were much slower and reverby, and then you get in and we would play together—everything came out faster, and was just vastly different. … And it was all done without drums. We never practiced with a drummer, or played with a drummer, and the drums were the last thing to be added to the record. That makes sense, because the drums are less important in that big sound. PP: At one point we were contemplating whether we should even put drums on this album … like, period. And we played the demos for some people and they would say, ‘I don’t think you should put drums on this.’ We were very close to not putting any drums, but I’m glad we did and I’m glad we worked with Dave [Collins, drummer]. It was funny, because the way I usually record is drums first, then bass—a very typical way. So it was nice to write the songs, and let the songs breathe and take up all that space and then kinda fit the drums in. ERR: And it was Marty’s idea. Marty wanted to do that. Wanted that formula. It was an experiment. So we ended up with that textural stuff. And you can’t really be like, ‘Ehh, listen up old man—I don’t know how Springsteen does it …’ What was the music that made you think, ‘We should do that’? What was the music that changed your direction? ERR: Cocteau Twins. PP: Definitely Cocteau Twins. Mark Kozelek, and all that fingerstyle kind of stuff—Sun Kil Moon and Red House Painters. ERR: That’s a big thing for us, and for everyone who’s coming out of McCabe’s right now. That’s our home music. … And this is us as a band—as a group of people with everyone bringing their own sound and letting them complement each other. Focusing on textural guitar stuff, and much slower. PP: When you’re younger, you see music and have this aggrandized vision of it. You grow up learning about not only famous people but also very talented people. And it’s weird to realize that, on a whole, it’s not important to be that individual that stands above a huge scene, like Kurt Cobain or something like that. It’s actually kind of fun and cool to just be a part of history and do your own thing, while all these other people are doing theirs. The older I get, the more I realize that it’s actually fine to be at home recording demos instead of answering emails and planning shows. It’s cool to just write songs and make music. THE NOCTURNES’ SELF-RELEASED AOKIGAHARA IS AVAILABLE NOW. VISIT THE NOCTURNES AT FACEBOOK.COM/THENOCTURNES. 43


BRUTAL TRUTH Interview by Adam Beck Illustration by Marissa Paternoster

Started in 1990 by bassist Danny Lilker of Anthrax, Nuclear Assault and SOD fame, grindcore legends Brutal Truth are a hurricane of weed smoke, blast beats and skull-crushing riffs. Records like Extreme Conditions Demand Extreme Responses, Need to Control, and Sounds of the Animal Kingdom established the band as among the very best in the genre. A sudden break-up saw the band step away at the peak of their powers and left everyone wondering, but after the better part of decade, Brutal Truth was resurrected for the eyehategod tribute record following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Recently reformed, the band has found a new popularity among fans of extreme music and even released a new record, Evolution Through Revolution. We spoke with Lilker and drummer Rich Hoak about the fundamentals of grindcore: weed, puke and yoga. We seem to live in an age of nostalgia, with every band getting back together with the original lineup and playing their seminal record—even some that put out new records that end up sounding like shit. How is it that Brutal Truth can come back after the better part of a decade and put out two really solid and refreshing records? Danny Lilker (bass): I guess that really depends on their motivations. Maybe those bands are just lazy and rest on their laurels, and not really put a lot of effort into the shit that they can play. I’m still playing in Nuclear Assault and we’ve intentionally decided not to do a new record because we think that our old thrash stuff is what people want to hear. We did a new record back in 2005 and the outcome wasn’t as good. Going back to Brutal Truth and the quality of our new records compared to other bands who have reformed … we just didn’t want to suck. We don’t think when we write music—we just write music! We fucking get high and turn into robots—I don’t know what to tell you. How would you say End Time stacks up against some of Brutal Truth’s back catalog? Would you want to compare it to the earlier material like Extreme Conditions? Or Need to Control, which I’ve read isn’t your favorite? The problem I had with Need To Control is how it came out production-wise. I like the music on it, I think it just sounds a little too dull—there’s not much high-end and brightness on it. Grindcore should be kind of sparINTERVIEW

kling, you know? With the new stuff, now that we have Eric [Burke, guitar] writing in the band we’ve entered a whole new era. We did go back and write some stuff like Extreme Conditions with evil death metal riffing, but we did it at the speed of Sounds of the Animal Kingdom. In one way it’s brand new and a totally different Brutal Truth, and in another way it’s a mixture of all the old stuff smashed together. Are you at the point now with End Time that you were right before you broke up— playing so tight you don’t even look at each other? We always had a natural chemistry, but when we started back up again we had Eric so we had to build up a whole new thing with him. Eric is an amazing guitar player so it didn’t take too long to get that whole cohesive thing going again. As long has you have good monitors and you can hear what is going on onstage, that helps a lot. Some people might think that’s cheating and say, ‘Hey man, be punk rock—just play it loud.’ But when you are playing that chaotically and you want to do it correctly, you have to hear what’s going on, and you can’t do it in a vacuum. You famously said in a previous interview that ‘we rip off bands and affectionately make it our own.’ Who did you affectionately rip off on End Time? It didn’t really happen this time—the last time it happened was when we recorded Evolution Through Revolution. Toward the end of recording I was running out of riffs and I was

driving around high, listening to classic rock and I would hear a riff from Jimi Hendrix or Yes or Rush and I thought to myself, ‘If I just grinded that riff up, it would be killer.’ It didn’t really happen on End Time because for some reason the creativity just kept rolling through to the end, but on the song ‘Get a Therapist … Spare the World’ on Evolution Through Revolution the main riff—not the crust riff at the beginning, but the part after that—is actually from the song ‘Roundabout’ by Yes. It’s from this part they had in the middle. I’m not sure anyone could peg that, but go ahead and try. Is weed an essential part of Brutal Truth? We do like to smoke weed in Brutal Truth … it helps us do what we do. It actually makes us play faster, which I don’t think people understand—because we think we are playing too slow. We might not write the crazy shit we write if we weren’t high when we wrote it. If someone was brand new to Brutal Truth, where should they start and what should they expect? What I try to tell people who have not experienced extreme music is to remember there is a macro outside the micro. Meaning that if you hear a really fast beat that you might find puzzling at first—like 1-2-3-4 really fast!— if you sub-divide that and still tap your foot slowly, you’ll understand what we’re doing. We’re not just playing a bunch of noise. What I’m trying to say is get ready for something that you haven’t heard. What we are doing is

valid and if you take a big fucking hit of weed you might understand what we are doing. A good place to start is the new one, End Time, because that’s the one I’m most proud of at the moment. There’s no good Brutal Truth record to start a grindcore or metal novice out on. Either way they are just going to go what the fuck is that? ... It’s built on a certain meter, and if you sub-divide that meter you can hear the quarter notes instead of the 64th notes. Every band I know that goes to Japan comes back with a story—what’s your best Japan story? The first time Brutal Truth went to Japan in 1993, while on tour with SOD, we played a small show at a club in Tokyo and everyone went fucking nuts. Our singer, Kevin [Sharp], puked in a plastic bag onstage … and people were fighting for the bag of puke.

What’s it like writing the second record since your return? Did you feel less pressure with End Time than you did for Evolution Through Revolution? Rich Hoak (drums): I have to say it was a lot different. As much as we say we’re totally grinding, we knew with Evolution that we have to not suck. We felt that as we were writing music that there was somebody watching over us. That was the awesome thing about End Time, we did our thing and proved that we didn’t suck on our reunion. With End 45


“It’s because we are true fucking grinders that grind from the heart, and we live only to sleep, smoke and grind. That and most other bands that suck are posers.” Time, we didn’t have all the online commentators looking over our shoulders—it was a little bit more free. And when I say free, I mean mentally and spiritually. We are all senior citizens so we write albums—when we sit down to write songs, we write them for a record. When we recorded End Time we completely busted our nut and recorded everything we had, improvised some songs, and even wrote some tunes the night before we went in the smear, and that all goes down at once—it’s a snapshot so there was nothing left. There are bonus tracks on a different release, but there is nothing hidden in the vaults. We put it out and left it hanging there, and we wouldn’t take it back any day! My favorite tracks with Brutal Truth are always the shortest ones. ‘Branded’ was my favorite track on Evolution Through Revolution and ‘Trash’ is my favorite song on End Time. It starts with a four-count bass intro and then the band goes ‘bbbbbbbllllllllaaaaaaaBBBBB!’ I also dig the incredibly slow songs so I can just sit there and beat on the drums and not have to do a whole lot. I heard that you masterminded the song ‘Control Room,’ which is 15 minutes long. I’ve always been into making loud crazy noise, and over the last ten years or so I’ve had this transformational, spiritual and harsh solo project called Peacemaker. I’ve always tried to tie in Peacemaker into my other bands—Total Fucking Destruction and Brutal Truth— whenever I can. Brutal Truth has always been a rugged four-way thing, and it’s hard to describe how the division of labor is actually made, but one of the things I love to do in addition to playing drums is to make harsh crazy noise. So during recording I brought in a bunch of tracks that I had been working on—I told the guys, ‘I’ve got this great idea for a song—what can we do with it?’ So Doug [the engineer] and I were able to transfer about twelve or fifteen of these 16-minute tracks onto the computer so we could make a rough mix. I played drums over the top of that in sort of an ebb and flow with the electronics of the mix. Some of the other guys added things like feedback, screaming and farting into the microphone, too. We then sent the whole thing over to Jason Fuller, who did the final mix. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can make a ‘Control Room’ remix to throw some extra stuff in there. I’d also like to do an extended version that’s about 20 or 46

22 minutes on a split album. I’m really into that wash of sound thing and that’s why I call Peacemaker transformational harsh noise. The songs are 25 to 35 minutes long so you can sit down at the end of the day and listen to it with your headphones, and then certain frequencies align your brain waves and put you into a state of relaxation. Peace is the victory, you know. Aren’t you a big yoga guy? I sort of dropped out of the fitness-yoga lifestyle, but yoga is a practice that you live and I learned a lot from the years I was into it. As far as my drumming, it helped me to sit up straight and build my core strength to keep me up. Through yoga I learned to breathe through my drumming, which also helps me when I do vocals for T.F.D. I used to do an extreme style of yoga called Bikram Style Hot Yoga, which feels like running 50 miles in 5 minutes. Unfortunately, I just don’t have the time to do it anymore but I know how to do the stretches and hold my body so it’s something I still apply all the time. To me yoga and drumming aren’t that different—both are an exercise of mind over body. In both things, I can smoke up, kick back, relax and let my muscle memory do its thing. Is Bikram Style the one where they lock you in a room and turn the heat up to 110? Yeah! It’s like the McDonald’s of fascist corporate yoga. ‘.58 Caliber’ is an almost spoken word piece about a Civil War bullet, not a typical grind song. Where did that come from? That was an improvisational song that I wrote with the drum riffs and wanted to put a bunch of noise on it. When I was recording all of the other drum tracks, Doug and I didn’t know what were going to do with it, so we had Eric and Danny lay down the guitar parts. Finally we had Kevin lay down some vocals. I told Doug to lock him in a room and not let him out until he did vocals on every track that I recorded. Doug is one of those crazy genius types and is really into collecting letters and manuscripts from the 1800s. He is also into collecting Roman and Greek coins that are 2,000 years old and really crazy stuff. In fact, what Kevin is reading on that track is a letter from Doug’s collection written by an army scientist in the Civil War—it discusses the merits of the .58 caliber bullet and its uses.

The eyehategod tribute record after Hurricane Katrina is what brought you guys back from the dead. If a hurricane wiped out the Brutal Truth base camp, what bands would you want on your tribute record? I’d have to go with bands that would sell a lot of CDs in Walmart. AC/DC, Journey, Blue Oyster Cult, Charlie Daniels Band, KISS, Ozzy Osbourne—with or without Black Sabbath, Lady Gaga, Elton John, and maybe a few others. If it’s going to be a Brutal Truth tribute, let’s have some people on there that are going to sell some CDs and make some serious scratch! Were you the one behind the Minutemen cover on the last record? Yeah—I’m a huge Minutemen fan. I saw them play with Hüsker Dü in south Philadelphia back in 1984 and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. Wow, I’m VERY jealous—what’s your favorite memory from that show? Being in the mosh pit and being piled on by people. Minutemen weren’t a usual band— people all agreed that they were killer, but they didn’t sound like your usual hardcore band. We live in an era in which every band is getting back together, playing shows and in some cases even recording new albums. Why is it that most of these albums seem to suck, but Brutal Truth continues to release new music that is both relevant and refreshing to the genre? I think it’s because we are true fucking grinders that grind from the heart, and we live only to sleep, smoke and grind. That and most other bands that suck are posers. That’s one of the things that was hanging over us when we recorded Evolution Through Revolution— there is nothing I hate more than a bunch of fat old bald dudes up on stage playing a song from 30 years ago. Like watching Iron Butterfly at some casino back in 2008. Brutal Truth has never been a planned-out band. We don’t make a schedule. We get together to smoke weed, drink beer and play music, and see what happens. Were you involved with the artwork/theme for End Time? Orion Landen did the album artwork for End Time. He pulled the ideas from Kevin’s lyrics and themes. I’ve done a couple of T-shirts but Sounds was the only cover I did. I do, however, want to officially take credit for the weed scratch ‘n’ sniff card that comes in the deluxe edition of

End Time! I was the one who tracked down the company that made those and told Relapse that they must include it! Were you part of the testing process to confirm how realistic it smells? There was no testing process that went on. The company that made those will make a scratch ‘n’ sniff for anything! They make ones that smell like oranges, bananas, apples, poop, mold, dead people, zombies—you name it. The company also did advise us to make a scratch ‘n’ sniff card as opposed to just a weed-scented product. Otherwise we would have problems with the mail orders! Does weed help you play faster? Is it essential to the band when playing live? It’s part of the whole thing, but Brutal Truth can play whether we smoke or not. Playing the type of music that we do people might think that we have to do pounds and pounds of cocaine, but it’s actually quite the opposite. To be able to play drums as fast as I do, I have to breathe deep and relax. Kicking back is the only way my body can do its thing. Danny mentioned an incident on tour in Japan involving Kevin and a bag of puke. Have you seen anything even worse? I’ve seen Kevin vomit a lot so I don’t think I want to talk about that—I might throw up myself. Don’t get me wrong—all that stuff is funny, but for the most part touring is a good experience. People are usually just hanging out, partying, grinding, and I’d much rather hear those stories than the stories of people dying while on tour. I can’t help but bring the Minutemen up again here—you always hate to hear about those kinds of things happening to bands on the road. Those kinds of things change history! Imagine if D Boon or Cliff Burton hadn’t died! Imagine what kind of a difference those guys would have made in their bands if they were still around. I’ve always said someone should make a movie where stoners figure out a way to travel back in time to save Cliff from dying. It could be called This Wouldn’t Happen If Cliff Were Here. Yeah—Cliff would have beaten the fuck out of Lars sooner or later. He’d punch him out over and over until he went back to Sweden. BRUTAL TRUTH’S END TIME IS OUT NOW ON RELAPSE. INTERVIEW


JONWAYNE Interview by Lainna Fader Photography by Andy J. Scott JonWayne initially came up as a rapper but now he makes blunted beats on Earth when he should be making them somewhere on Neptune or at least in a castle underwater. In a little over a year, the 21-year old La Habra-based producer put out Wayniac, Doodles, Remixes Are Things, Bowser, Thanks Bro, I Don’t Care and now, he releases The Death of Andrew on Alpha Pup. He speaks here about his high school days as a footballplaying-poetry writing theater geek, recording beats in his bathroom with an 8-track set up on a trashcan, and the first time he played Low End Theory. You’ve said you’re a theater nerd. What’s the first production you were part of? When I was 17 we did this thing called the Young Artists Workshop. It was pretty much like taking fifteen kids and putting them into a warehouse for two weeks and we had to create and direct a play, produce this entire thing in a Broadway-style theater in front of people. It was ridiculous. I’d never actually done anything like it before. It was summer, and I had just quit football. My parents wanted me to do something, so they said to either get a job, or do something theater-style. You went from football to theater to rapping and making beats? Yeah, those changes were pretty drastic. I definitely had people that had a problem with it, but essentially, you just gotta do what you gotta do. You really can’t give a shit at the end. Do what you gotta do. How did playing football prepare you for making your music? It’s totally different. It has nothing to do with sports. When I was a freshman, I started writing poetry—because I liked a girl who liked poetry. I used to write a lot. I started getting into theater and poetry at the same time, and I was falling out of love with sports because I was getting the energy and expression I needed from those in a way that was much more effective for me. So by the end of my sophomore year, I decided I didn’t want to do sports anymore. All the coaches knew me since I was a seventh or eighth grader. So quitting that was pretty difficult. When I quit that, I got more into theater, and then I did that Young Artists Workshop, which got me into doing spoken word. Through that workshop, I met this dude Avi and some of his people from West Covina. He was in charge of music production, and he’d bring his workstation every day and make beats and these dudes would rap. I was experiencing that nonstop for two weeks in a concentrated area and I’d always thought about doing it before, but they encouraged me, because they liked what I was doing with the poetry. That’s what got me into rapping. What was the poem you wrote for that girl like? It wasn’t a single poem. I was doing it in secret because I didn’t really understand. The poems that they make you read in eighth grade— none of it’s applicable to your life. So I didn’t really get it until I started writing it myself. I INTERVIEW

never really got a date with the girl but I kind of fell out of lust with her and fell in love with words and it was kind of a weird turn because I didn’t expect it at all. It started out being some kind of con but I actually started getting into it. What was the first beat you ever made and the first rap you ever wrote like? I remember I was actually in Hawaii, and I wrote a really long one—like a five-page-long one. I had ‘Pet Monster Shotglass’ by Lotus, and that was the first thing I wrote to. The first time ever I think was in Canada. I had my iPod with me, which was kind of my saving grace because it was a twenty-hour drive. We finally get there, and I go on my dad’s laptop to charge my iPod and I hit the wrong button and all of it deletes. It was an emergency situation to go to the mall and get music. I bought Beat Konducta 1-2 because I recognized Madlib’s name from MadVillain. I didn’t know what to expect. That was the first instrumental album I got it and it just blew my mind. I also had a book—Saul William’s Dead Emcee Scrolls, and I realized, ‘Oh, this is rap.’ I basically spent my free time up there in seclusion with this book reciting some shit over these beats. So that was the inspiration to put this stuff into action. What’d your parents think about all this? When I dropped out of college, it probably worried them a lot. But by the time I had dropped out it was kind of like, ‘Who are we kidding?’ It wasn’t on some, ‘You’re quitting college? But I thought you were going to be a professor!’ kind of shit. It was like, ‘Jon, you should probably quit.’ I had a job for a while, working for my dad for about nine months, doing sandblasting every day. That was ridiculous. I worked at E.B. Games when I dropped out. I was actually working at E.B. Games the first time I ever played Low End Theory. Kutmah was the first guy to put me on. Cuz the first time I went to a Low End Theory was for a Dibiase show, and I was working with him in a rap group—we were making music together in 2008, and he had a show there. I went, and I had a bunch of CDs and I passed them all out. I gave one to Kutmah before knowing who he was. Dibiase was like, ‘You need to give him something.’ So I did, and he was like, ‘Well, let me give you something too,’ and he gave me the ‘Sacred Geometry’ mix. He told me to listen to it only when I was on acid.

Does the world gives you what you need, when you need it? If you don’t bullshit. I think there are a lot of people who end up in positions like that and they want to take advantage of it but they don’t really know what they’re doing when the time comes. They don’t know what they want. People don’t know what they want til they have it. And I try not to ask for too much. I just try to ask for what I need to keep moving. In a little over a year, you put out Wayniac; Doodles; Remixes Are Things; Bowser; Thanks, Bro; I Don’t Care and now The Death of Andrew. How do you stay productive? I’d rather feel productive than feel like a piece of crap. It’s easy to do that when you don’t have a job. If you’re hungry about being successful and doing these things, you just keep working. That’s why I make so much music— I’m so impatient. I just wanna get there already, so I work. I just don’t stop. I eat, I sleep, and I work. I’ve been learning to slow down recently though. Why did you decide to try to slow down? Well, my work started to suffer a bit. I just had one mode. I’d start with something and keep going until I was ready to do something else completely. I was just kind of beating it to death. This way, I can work, go back and forth, and so I’m not really forcing myself to work. I have this thing about being a perfectionist. I feel like people have cornered me—or people don’t care to learn more—calling me just an 8-bit artist. Even though over the past few months I’ve been straight-up saying there really isn’t anything 8-bit on the album. All the Bowser reviews call it an 8-bit album, when it really isn’t. I just think people don’t know their shit. My stuff sounds a lot like 70s or 80s synth explorations. I’m really influenced by the Moog albums that came out in the 60s, and Yellow Magic Orchestra. They killed it. I’m super into them. A lot of early synth forays, with the jazz and funk stuff. So this next thing—The Death of Andrew is only twenty minutes long, but I like to think of it as more of an album—it has a lot of the same elements as Bowser, the same melodic sensibilities. You’ve said people criticize you for making simple beats, but said it’s all about restraint—‘something Dilla had.’ How did you learn restraint?

I’ll tell you this: I do fully fleshed-out songs. Say it’s six minutes long. I say, ‘OK, how do I take it down to five?’ Then four minutes. Then three. I also strip things down. ‘How’s it sound if I take this piece away? What about that?’ It’s cool—it’s an ego-building thing to have all these things that sort of work together. Most of my music is post-production. I’ll have everything done and I’ll tinker with it. I almost never have finished songs that have all the elements I wrote for it. There’s always alternate progressions and stems. I like to keep things simple, but at the same time saying something interesting. I just don’t think people get it sometimes. And it’s not their fault. They have a different ear for something, and I can respect that too. There are a lot of beats I don’t like cuz there’s just too much going on. I just can’t listen to it. I can’t find the core. I think the peak of that was like 2009 and 2010. All these beats with all this shit going down. I’m all for atmospherics, and I’m all for added effects, but it kind of turns into this big effects sandwich and I don’t like that. Imagine going into the song and looking around and not being able to find anything, there’s all this shit—the eye of the storm. You got couches flying around and shit. I can’t really settle into it. You’ve said that ‘the human soul doesn’t like being talked at.’ How’d you learn that? I learned that in high school. That’s something I’ve always thought. That has to do with the whole conscious movement—conscious hiphop. I always found that to be mad boring. I never liked it. It was kinda like, ‘Hey, you’re saying something, but what’re you saying?’ Conscious hip-hop is diplomatic. That can apply to anyone and therefore is weak. When I was in high school, a lot of that was coming out: Common, Mos Def, they’re all talented people, but a lot of their content never really reached to me cuz it just reminded me that they don’t know what they’re talking about. ‘Those corporations, dude!’ and ‘Legalize cocaine!’ There’s more to it than that. If you’re gonna say something, pick something and say it. Tell people what you think. Not why they should think that way, but give them something to think about. JONWAYNE’S THE DEATH OF ANDREW IS AVAILABLE NOW FROM ALPHA PUP. VISIT JONWAYNE AT TWITTER.COM/JWAYNIAC. 51


DJ SHADOW Interview by Lainna Fader Illustration by Walt! Gorecki

Fifteen years ago, DJ Shadow released Endtroducing…, securing his legacy as a pioneer of instrumental hiphop and inspiring a generation of beatmakers. With his latest, The Less You Know, The Better, released last month on Verve, the legendary turntablist returns to his roots after experimenting on his confrontational and polarizing 2006 album, The Outsider. He speaks here about recalibrating people’s expectations and performing in the Shadowsphere. You’ve said you have the collector gene in your blood—who else in your family is a collector and what do they collect? One common thread I’ve noticed among collectors is that many come from lower middleclass backgrounds, where they were often denied ‘frivolous’ purchases, for obvious reasons. I suppose that was the case with me. I grew up collecting baseball cards first, because they were cheap and plentiful. From there I moved into comic books, and then sold them all to buy—new—rap records around ’85-’86. How do you think growing up when and where you did influenced you? A positive component of the gravitational pull of the tech sector in the 70s and 80s was the influx of highly educated dreamers. In some ways, they helped prolong the utopian ideal that California has always represented. Growing up in a small university town—Davis—there were ideas and experiments happening constantly. I met Francois Mitterrand when I was in sixth grade. He came to our ‘experimental’ neighborhood to evaluate our solar program. The press trampled our flowerbed. I’ve also gained a lot of respect for Davis since reading the book Our Band Could Be Your Life. There are several examples of bands who gained a following there before anywhere else. I guess the sons and daughters of dreamers had a lot going on upstairs. You talk a lot about your hip-hop background, but the samples you use show that you’ve got an incredible range of musical knowledge—who first taught you that you should embrace all music? The very first rap record I ever bought was a Sugar Hill Records compilation that contained ‘The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel.’ Right there, on that one cut, is the basis for everything I do. Buy it and listen for yourself. No one told Flash he couldn’t mix disco with Queen and children’s records. This is a lineage that goes back to the mid-late 70s. How is the new record ‘a return to form’? How does it fit into the DJ Shadow discography? 52

If it is a return to form, it’s in that I’m back to the sample discipline primarily, and almost exclusively. On the last record, I dabbled into other ways of making beats. And that’s not to say I won’t return to that as well—I may return to that at some point—but on this record, I really wanted to zoom in on taking samples and trying to change my mindset as opposed to ‘more more more’ and ‘faster faster faster’— all the ways you can fool yourself into thinking that you’re doing something interesting as a producer. More cuts. More samples. Throw the whole kitchen sink in there. On this one, I kinda wanted to let the samples breathe a little bit. Thematically, I wasn’t trying to provoke as much as I was on The Outsider. The Outsider was a record I felt I had to do, and I felt I had to do it to clear the slate, and allow myself to start over and start fresh. What mindset were you in when you went into and came out of making the record? Going in, I pretty vividly remember—I was poking at collecting a bunch of samples on and off while I was doing other work for the first half of ’09, and then when I finally got into the workspace that I set up, which was away from home and away from everything, within about a day and half of sitting down by myself, with just my records and my gear, I was pretty amazed at how quickly I was able to get back to that level of concentration that I hadn’t really had the luxury of giving myself in quite some time. I felt really thankful for that. I suppose that the overarching feeling during that first session was gratitude at what The Outsider had allowed and had achieved in terms of recalibrating people’s expectations. And I realize that’s a pretty generous way of putting it. I know a lot of people had a lot of problems with that record, but for me, that record was a gift because it allowed me to work on this one. I allowed myself more time with this album to sequence since the first album. In the very end, I think I found a sequence that really worked for me, and I was really concerned with it prior to that moment. You’ve said, ‘The more music that you make and the longer you’re doing it for, the more you realize how seductive it is to sort of

slip back into old habits or slip back into a mode that feels nostalgic or familiar.’ How do you keep yourself from making the same kind of music every time given the success of Endtroducing...? My recipe is continuing to listen to other kinds of music. I grew up on hip-hop— primarily 80s hip-hop, because that’s when I was growing up—and I continue listening to 80s hip-hop, the stuff that I didn’t hear at the time, that I’m discovering now because it’s still so rare. But since then, I’ve taken in a number of musical hybrids, whether it’s dance music or rock music or whatever. And also, I’ve allowed myself to explore other styles of old music. That’s one of the reasons I’m not so prolific—I don’t want to put out a record that says the same thing as the last one, that carries the same message or emotion or theme. I like to give myself a lot of time to study what other people are doing and learn new things, and whether it’s contemporary music or older music, that’s what I spent most of my time doing when I’m not making my own music. You’ve described yourself as a ‘long-term artist’—what does that mean? I sometimes use the term ‘artist’ or ‘musician’ because it’s the easiest term available to describe what I do to other people. But I don’t consider myself a grand artist in the pretentious sense. I don’t consider myself to be a gnat on an elephant compared to most of the people I respect and admire who make music. As far as how long I do it for, I do love listening to other people’s music and attempting to make my own. Whether or not it’s relevant to other people determines to what extent I share with people what I do. I can continue to tinker around in my lab after I return from my day job, and whether or not that music sees the light of day really depends on other people’s enthusiasm. Posdnuos from De La Soul said the key to their longevity is a determination to be part of the game—what’s the key to yours? Probably a desire to contribute. I’ve always tried to put out music that I feel is unique in the landscape and for that reason, often what I put out seems out of step to people, or doesn’t

feel contemporary, or like what it’s supposed to. Sometimes when you have ‘DJ’ in your name, people assume that you make club music—or dance music—and I’ve never ever done that. I can barely even make proper hiphop. I think sometimes that confuses people. The term ‘DJ’ is pretty loaded, and in 2011, it’s probably as relevant as—well, I’m trying to think of a really cliché metal name, but you know what I mean. Nowadays if you make electronic music, your name is supposed to be two syllables and sound sort of like a shortened text with an ampersand or an A with a circle around it and all that stuff. I totally realize that—I totally realize that there isn’t much about me that says 2011, other than the fact that I’m still here and I’m still contributing and I’m still passionate about what I do. A lot of DJs now incorporate video into their sets these days, but you took the performance aspect of a show much further with your Shadowsphere. Did you feel pressured to add something more to your concerts to make it more of a show? When you play the European festival circuit, often the rock bands get the main stage, especially in the late 90s. And I was given the opportunity to show what I do on a large stage, with a large audience, and I just felt it was my duty to make an entertaining show. I didn’t grow up wanting to be a celebrity DJ. I don’t take my shirt off or stage dive. I came up in an era when being a DJ was sort of a solitary pursuit—something you didn’t do to get famous. But I felt it my obligation to put together a show that would be just as entertaining as any band that was going to grace that stage that day. I started doing that in 2002 and continued all the way up to now. The concept is the same—basically to not yet let being a DJ stand in the way of playing next to any performer out there. I feel pretty confident that I can follow most acts, or precede most acts, and be respected, or at least tolerated. DJ SHADOW’S THE LESS YOU KNOW, THE BETTER IS AVAILABLE NOW FROM VERVE. VISIT DJ SHADOW AT DJSHADOW.COM. INTERVIEW


THUNDERCAT Interview by Chris Ziegler Photography by Theo Jemison Styling by Erika Krumple

Mike Watt somehow knew that Thundercat was coming. When he said people thought the Minutemen were Martians from planet Jazz, well … that is pretty much exactly what we get with Thundercat’s The Golden Age of Apocalypse, made by a kid who played bass for Stanley Clarke and Suicidal Tendencies both. Thundercat speaks now about the sublime and the ridiculous, but not in that order. You recently posted a photo of a really colossal dick someone drew on a backstage wall at a show you played. As someone who has spent much of their adult life as a touring musician, what is it that makes people draw dicks on backstage walls? I think it’s a code of silence—when you don’t see one, something tells you instinctively to draw one on the wall. The secret society of penis drawers—that’s exactly what it is. How many dicks have you drawn? A few hundred. Different sizes, different shaped penises, people’s faces shaped like penises—all kinds of stuff. Do you get any kind of special hotel discounts once you’ve done like 500? Oh—The Dick-Drawer’s Membership Club? Yeah, you get a membership card, a box of condoms and a vintage Playboy. On Pitchfork, you reminded Flying Lotus that although PBS’ Bob Ross is a completely delightful, positive guy on camera, he may well be hiding a terrifying dark side off camera. Since you are also a delightful, positive guy … what terrifying dark side are you concealing from the world? I try not to have one at all. But everybody’s had their point where they had all they can stand and they can’t have any more. There’s always that. Other than that, I just try and … you know, be cool. I’ll say it like this—as a kid, I wasn’t evil, but … I would hide things a lot. I’d have dual things going on. My parents would think I was at the studio, but I was really hanging out with my girlfriend. ‘Yeah, I’m at the studio—but I’m really Downtown, drunk, hanging out at the Standard!’ Did you ever get busted when your parents were like, ‘So, son—you’ve sure been at the studio a lot! Can we check out those demos?’ The sad part is I actually was working. I’d be doing this, and all this debauchery would be going on, but it’d go hand in hand. I’d come home and play my parents something new, and they’d have no clue that I was wil’in out. That I was butt naked on the street with a sword the other day! What? In the past. I used to be kinda crazy when I was younger. Take fireworks and shoot ’em into oncoming traffic. Run around naked. Naked on the street with a sword? I couldn’t even pull off two-thirds of that. It’s not something I planned out. I have tons and tons of random moments in life that oc54

cur, like, ‘How did that happen?’ I don’t know, but it happened! Did you develop your mind-boggling mastery of your instrument simply because you had to fit music into the tiny amount of non-debaucherous time available to you? No, no—growing up I spent a lot of time just being very exposed to different things. Exposing yourself to different things? Yeah, exposing myself to different people—all kinds of stuff! As a child, I was very much into my visual my art. They kinda went hand in hand. They had different emotional pulls on me. Playing bass—around the age of 10 is when I got really serious, from my dad playing me Jaco Pastorius’ ‘Portrait of Tracy.’ It blew my socks off. I couldn’t believe it was possible to be that beautiful on an instrument, so I took to my instrument even more. It developed naturally, but also there was part of me that wanted to get better—I’m still like that. How did it affect you as a musician to have a parent who’d already done it? Things were not very far off because I had an example to understand—‘This is how the business works, this is how these kind of people work, this is where you wanna be, this is where you don’t wanna be …’ I had all that at my fingertips. That’s part of what gave me an advantage in functioning properly in different scenarios and situations. It wasn’t new to me. When I started traveling, I just felt like it was part of what I was supposed to do. What sort of hard-way things do you think you got to skip? I was reared in a very Christian home, so it was more perspective. It wasn’t ‘DON’T DO THINGS.’ My parents were very open to me being who I wanted to be. They didn’t try to stop me. They just wanted to make sure I had these moral values before I left their house. They drilled it very deep into me, but at the same time I got an opportunity to be in the world—to be myself. They encouraged me to dress how I wanted to. My mom used to have purple hair! For the last ten years! Well, maybe last four or five years. She has a mohawk now! Didn’t your mom name the record? You’re the second person in two issues to have a record named after the Apocalypse. Why is the Apocalypse on people’s minds? Spiritually speaking, you can feel it in the air. Everything is just so weird. It’s almost like … something bigger than you moving faster than you. And then the different things biblically that are talked about going on that we’re seeing

happening in front of us—wars and rumors of wars, people rising against each other, all that stuff that’s been talked about before. It’s not saying … we’ve been in the last days a long time. Just because they did a movie called 2012 and everyone’s paying attention to 2012—this has been going on for some time. Supposedly every generation thinks it’s going to see the world end. Maybe I’m falling for that too. But it is a weird time. Absolutely. We been experiencing the end age for a long time, and it has nothing to do with this generation. We never know the generation it is who’s gonna see it. But somebody’s gonna see it, even if it’s our grandkids’ grandkids. We’re seeing pieces of it. People can feel it in the air, you’re starting to see things come to the front. Creatively, artistically—that’s why it gets described by so many people in music. That’s how you feel! It’s not to be taken advantage or publicized like, ‘OH NO! THE END OF THE WORLD! OH NOOOOOO! THE MAYANS PREDICTED IT!’ It’s not one of those things. You can feel it in your spirit. And that’s all you got a lot of the time—your spirit. Calling the album The Golden Age of Apocalypse, it’s like a very … it’s a precursor. It means, ‘Watch what’s going on around you.’ What is your role as a creative person in these times? A lot of the time, I just wanna be used by God. That’s just what I really want out of what I do. Whatever that entails. I try my hardest to listen to God and what he’s trying to say to me, or if he’s trying to say something to me—if there’s nothing to be said. It’s imperative that you pay attention and try and see where God wants you. It could be as small as … like when God told you to go left and you went right. And you know it was God talking to you! A lot of people try and downplay, like, ‘Wasn’t that just you talking to yourself?’ But the truth is—you can take it or leave it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. He’s there. It’s just that time you should play closer attention, and try and figure out where you’re supposed to be. A lot of times when we talk to people, we talk about how complete examination and knowledge of self can be a pathway to powerful art. But this is the opposite. It’s about total humility, about losing the ego to become a vessel. Yes—absolutely. The more you can be selfless, the closer you can get to Him—where God wants you. You stop holding on to things that block you from trying to get further and get

into different places. I try not to be blocked by anything! One thing that can be a block is money—it seems so funny, but it’s true. Yes, I laughed painfully. Your ability to feel comfortable in your own skin can sometimes be connected to the fact that you don’t know where your next check is coming from so you can’t think properly—I’m not saying that’s me, but there’s so many different places insecurity can come from that can hinder you from doing what you’re supposed to do. The key word in a lot of it is just having faith. Other than that, it does not make a lot of sense. There’s always the opportunity to not make sense of something—you can find a reason why not to do something, but sometimes it’s better for you to put yourself in the line of fire and figure out where you fit in. That’s how I treated everybody’s music I’ve ever worked on. I wanna be used and utilized by a person to convey what they wanna convey. Mike Watt told me the same thing—the bassist is there to serve the song. I know Mike Watt! Absolutely. Stanley Clarke said that to me: ‘Your job—you’re a servant.’ He was trying to explain the difference between being a servant and being the artist. I was so used to being a person who put myself in other scenarios. He was trying to get in my head like, ‘Look, you’re always gonna have a mentality in your head that allows you to be a servant. But that’s part of bigger picture of being an artist. You got to know when to pull it out and when not to because it can be easily taken advantage of.’ I was like, ‘Huh.’ I never necessarily looked at it like that but the truth is yeah, everything I’ve done musically … you’re finding where you go. You’ve played with so many kinds of visionary people—is there anything that you can connect between them? Is there something they’ve done that could help other people make breakthroughs in their own work? You just gotta be where you’re supposed to be. It sounds corny, but that’s all we got. One of my favorite sayings is, ‘It’s not supposed to be fair.’ You wish it was and you want it to be, but it’s just not supposed to be fair. Anybody that’s a hard worker is gonna see the result of what they put their hands to on whatever level it is, but you can’t define a person’s success in that they’re rich or everybody can see them doing what they’re doing. You gotta look at a little more than that and see where their head is and what their point was and what they were trying to get to and what they consider success. INTERVIEW


“I was butt-naked on the street with a sword the other day!” It’s the funniest thing on this planet when you see like a Michael Jackson. Let’s go with a dude that tall. Michael Jackson was a star since he was a kid. The truth is, it wouldn’t matter. You can try to follow the same formula, which the record companies used to do, and try and put a group together to find the one Michael Jackson and focus on him and try and make him into a star. Yes, you can definitely monetarily try to recreate that. But the truth is you can’t mistake the funk, and Michael Jackson was the funk. He didn’t need to be a formula that was created. This dude had four brothers that were killin’, and their dad beat ’em into shape. It was in his nature to be a star. You can’t really plan it—you just have to make your work something you’re proud of. Because you could win the lottery the next day or get hit by a bus. As funny as it is, that’s the truth. And here’s another thing. When it comes to how girls perceive guys that are musicians or stars—the girl gets with you— This could be a whole other interview! But the same scenario, where the girl gets with you cuz you’re rich and famous and then she leaves you. Is that really a successful situation? Or is it actually successful when you have a person who is genuinely loving and it has nothing to do with the money and the situation surrounding you? What do you consider success? ‘You know, man, I found that one girl I’m supposed to be with, and I could lose all my limbs, or I could have golden limbs dipped in platinum with lasers shooting out of the fingers, and she wouldn’t care.’ Those limbs just kept getting better. Gold limbs? Platinum? Lasers? Garlands and wreaths hanging from them—all kinds of cool stuff, man! Is there a 6-year-old Stephen somewhere deep inside you who is so proud you still sport Thundercat outfits? I’m definitely like, ‘Hell yeah, I’m free enough in my own skin to dress the way I wanna!’ I love the association cuz the truth is it’s all love and it’s a beautiful thing, but people always tell me I look like Will.I.Am or like—‘Look, it’s Kanye!’ I’m gonna take the compliment, but that’s just people’s way of trying to associate what they see because they only see greatness like them. So if you see me like Will.I.Am, I don’t look at it as a dis or a downplay—I feel like I have the potential to be that great, too! I’m happy to do stuff like that. People are like, ‘You’re just trying to be different.’ But for me, it’s about connecting to what I’ve always been. I could show you a picture of me when I was 5 and I dressed the same way. I’d have a voicechanging helmet and some boots and a cape and glasses and a toy guitar with Lion-O hanging out of my pocket. Not to say I don’t grow, but certain things are the fabric of who you 56

are. And the aesthetic is something I’ve held on to, and I’m proud to be able to be my own person in front of everybody. Mike Watt says the Minutemen really confused people—that people thought they were Martians from planet Jazz. Do you think you’ve finally delivered the Martian jazz record planet Earth has been craving? I don’t know if I put out the ultimate Martian jazz album, but I’d hope it definitely made some waves and changed the way people write and see and do music. A lot of the times people see music and see stuff that takes you a little bit out, and then they’re like, ‘Ah, this stuff is too difficult—this is not something people wanna hear.’ But there’s gotta be something there! It happened before. Jazz mixed with hip-hop and punk is nothing new! It’s not something I’m gonna take credit for. It’s definitely my take— my understanding. I’d hope I make an album that worthy of the title—‘This is the Martian album I’ve been waiting for for so long.’ The album is so fluid—the songs feel like they could flow in any direction. I definitely have to give it up to Flying Lotus for his ability to hear things. I’m the kind of guy who’s scatterbrained naturally. I remember I’d be playing this stuff, but I never heard any sort of flow—I was just creating music. Lotus rearranged everything and put it in this order, and I was like, ‘Whoa!’ It all made sense. We’re very in sync with stuff like that. Where’s the overlap? What matters most to you both about music? Other than the basics which everybody would know … you have to have a certain amount of understanding to be able to go further, and not just be playing somebody else’s song or playing a bass line like, ‘Is this good enough?’ We hit points where we were just flowing. I remember when we were recording ‘MmmHmm,’ we were in the middle of doing stuff and that started coming out and he just started recording. Even with ‘Dance of the Pseudo Nymph,’ when we did that, I literally remember dancing around his living room, playing bass and dancing with the Indian headdress on. … And the funniest thing about ‘Dance of the Pseudo Nymph’—if you ever sit me and Lotus down, we will argue to this day where the ‘one’ is in that song. That’s how in sync we were! Neither of us could tell we were on a different ‘one.’ We were still in sync—but in two different places! When it came out, he was like, ‘No, this is where I was.’ ‘Well, this is where I was!’ We went through seven minutes of a song— we were just creating! In all honesty, that’s the fun part of the music to me—the unknown. There’s always a chance to know what you’re doing—‘Oh, OK, we’re gonna retake this part and you’re gonna slow down and …’ There’s always that. Let’s just go wherever we’re going. It’s the freedom in the music.

John Coltrane supposedly once said something like, ‘The more I know, the more I know I don’t know.’ One of those times when people asked him why he never stopped practicing. I would never compare myself to Coltrane, but that’s super-freakin’-awesome. That’s the truth. You could know everything and still know nothing. So is this what you want from music? As many of those moments as possible? Heck yeah, man! I always wanna connect like that—have my heart in what I’m playing. As I get older … I think the word is ‘jaded.’ I always ask myself how to keep that zealousness about being a young artist. You can lose that. We just get old. I always say to myself, ‘I never wanna get old.’ When it comes to the music, I always wanna be in search of these moments where it’s … beautiful. You were joking in another interview about hosing down crowds with DMT to help them break through—does that mean DMT is just a shortcut to get to the same place your music is going? I just want people to break out of their stuff. I remember one time I saw my older brother taking a drum solo—he’s the most amazing drummer hands down in the world right now—and he starts taking a solo, and I see this guy jump out of his chair and start dancing. But not dancing—he was almost like a Deadhead. He was twirling—he was gone! Some people were making fun of it, like, ‘Look at this crazy guy!’ But they didn’t see what was going on—this guy was completely connecting to God through this music right now! He’s gone somewhere! And also just knowing it’s possible to be that connected. … Yeah, I wanna see people come out of their selves a little bit. Especially in L.A.—I definitely wanna see people go to a higher level. So have you ever done DMT? No—just watched a video on it one time. You’re into gore movies—what’s your sentimental gore favorite? Faces of Death! The first time when I got to watch Faces of Death— Were you under 18 so it was illegal? Oh, hell yeah. It was on the internet. I was with my cousin and we used to go get on the internet just to download crazy clips like that. It was so trippy. We’d watch some clip of a guy’s head being bit off by an alligator, then go eat Yoshinoya and write music. You talked before about how you get frustrated with anime directors who deliver one masterpiece and then disappear— you seem obviously concerned with longevity. What is it you need to give people in the future so they aren’t like, ‘Man, Thundercat—there was so much more he could have done!’

I see the music as part of a bigger picture with me of course. I’m not just a musician—I’m an artist. I’m ready to start on my second album. I just wanna make sure people always know where to find me. Naturally I wanna be huge and all the crazy Hollywood dreams— A bass-shaped pool? Thundercat-shaped pool! Red in the hot-tub for the eye—hell yeah! Check this out. The rest of the pool is actually hot—like where the cat is. And the eye is actually cold as hell, but it’s red so it looks like it’s hot! You got me all excited—I sound like an idiot! You once threw your bass into a crowd of 60,000 people—that’s got to be like throwing your child into a crowd of 60,000 people. What happened? Did you ever get it back? No, I gave it away, man. This was one of Rage Against the Machine’s final concerts. It was Suicidal, Mars Volta and Rage Against the Machine, and we were on right before Rage Against the Machine. You think Europe has hardcore fans? South America … I don’t even wanna call it hardcore. It’s demonically possessed! Blackened hardcore metal fans! They’re insane! The emotion was so flying while we were playing—they were so excited because apparently Suicidal hadn’t been there in twenty years. You could feel the energy—it was so inspiring. It wasn’t that I didn’t love my bass, but what happened was … right at the end of the set, we were going off and I took my bass off and threw it in the audience! And the promoter told me no one had done that ever—they don’t really have instruments like that over there because it was kind of a higherend instrument, and they don’t get those down there. I was so happy about that moment, I said, ‘I hope I blessed somebody.’ It felt like that to me—let’s go somewhere else, let’s take this further! The funny thing was it was like throwing a dead cow into shark-infested waters. When Rage Against the Machine went up on stage, people were like lighting stuff on fire. They couldn’t go on for an hour. It was like, ‘Oh, look—the Apocalypse is coming! Let me put on this bow tie and play the ‘Bon Voyage’ song like on the Titanic!’ When Rage started playing … they started the intro and couldn’t come on for twenty minutes. People were ripping chairs out of the stadium! But it felt like it was all in love. People weren’t trying to hurt each other. They were just so excited. It was intense! I felt happy to be part of that moment. I threw my bass out because that’s how I felt. ‘Take it—it belongs to you.’ THUNDERCAT’S THE GOLDEN AGE OF APOCALYPSE IS OUT NOW ON BRAINFEEDER. VISIT THUNDERCAT AT THUNDERCATTHEAMAZING. TUMBLR.COM. INTERVIEW


RAS G Interview by Chris Ziegler Photography by Theo Jemison

Ras_G isn’t from this world—he’s just passing through, making music that connects to the cosmic righteousness of Lee “Scratch” Perry, Sun Ra and Dilla. His newest album—the double 10” Spacebase is the Place, named after the part of the world where you’ll most often find him—contains the crushing bass-is-actually-the-place songs any Ras_G fan has been seeking on vinyl for years, and July’s Down 2 Earth is a beat tape built on the rhythm of a city bus, with gentle starts and stops that break up the (dirty / beautiful / same thing anyway) scenery. L.A. RECORD welcomes this true citizen of the universe as he settles in for another day at his Spacebase. Did you see a UFO last night? Mmmhmm. I was walking down the street headed to Low End Theory. A big big big blue light went over everything that I saw. I’ll tell you exactly—I was walking by the park, and some cat passed me and said, ‘What up’ and I said, ‘What up,’ and then instantly … a big blue flash! Huge! Like … woooosh! I turned and looked back and the cat just kept walking. I didn’t see nobody, no cars, no helicopters, nothing—like it never happened. Is that just another night in L.A. for you? I’m in the world, man—everything is happening in the world. I’m just watching. What is the Spacebase? Besides the cradle of all things Ras_G? It’s the base of everything that I do. It’s where I live at—it’s the root of my creations. We moved it twice. If I had to move it all in one thing now, it’d be like … one U-Haul full. Do you ever emerge from the Spacebase and forget what year it is? What planet you are on? Come out blinded by the sunlight? All the time. It’s bright and I put on my shades. I look at people and I just … I’m usually quiet in the world, unless it’s somebody I know. I’m pretty much just a camera recording the world. I don’t know if you check my tweets, but I always put ‘in the world’ because I’m in the world. I don’t drive—I don’t know how to drive—so I’m with the people. I’m walking, I’m on the bus, the train … I hear all kinda things and I see all kinda things. Wild stuff. INTERVIEW

What kind of connections can you make without being in a car? Conversation—cats see you on the bus with records or books or certain things, and certain energies just attract. Beyond all this earthly matter and so forth. It builds conversation. I see all kinds of people on the bus—I just saw Self Jupiter from Freestyle Fellowship on the bus! The one I frequent the most is the 40 bus. Goes through L.A. all the way to the South Bay and all the way uptown, to Union Station. All the way down Broadway, and makes the right on to Martin Luther King Boulevard and a left on Crenshaw—Crenshaw to Inglewood, South Bay, Torrance. What’s the best record to listen to when you ride the entire 40 route? Usually the best record to listen to is not a record—it’s the people! I listen to all my music at Spacebase. Spacebase is nothing but music. I’m always listening to records and I’m always making music. Constantly music. So when I go out into the world, I wanna hear the music of the world. I listen to the people. I listen to the sounds. I listen to what’s what, you know? There’s so much going on. People’s iPods, people’s phones—I listen to the people, man! That’s what I listen to. I listen to my iPod certain times, but I don’t even turn that shit on very much because I listen to the streets and to the people. What do the people want? What do you hear them say? They need creativity. That’s what they need to see. I’m just embodying taking all that and recreating everything I feel. I don’t know what

they wanna hear. As someone who’s going out on the planet, I’m just recreating what I feel when I go out on the planet. When I step outside these doors, it’s just like … whoa. I’ll give you a perfect analogy. You ever seen the movie Altered States? Crazy 80s movie. This crazy-ass doctor Dr. Jessup is shooting up crazy drugs and being in this crazy-ass tank and shit, and this fool is doing these drugs. He has this flashback where he goes into the bathroom … he comes out and opens the door and it’s like … oh shit. All he sees is fire and all kinda shit going on. That’s how it is for me when I step outside Spacebase! Like … wow. I’m in the world. When you look at the world, it’s in flames? Not particularly in flames—but wow. Oh shit! It’s extreme. It’s not bad. It’s a lot of good things, a lot of bad things—it’s everything. That’s why I embrace it. There’s a lot of worlds within this world. More worlds than you could even hardly grasp. We small on this planet. We’re like fleas to people light years away. Like Sun Ra say—‘We’re in another world.’ What do you mean by other worlds? It’s different minds. Every mind is a planet. Another way of thinking, another way of being. Certain things are parallel, but everyone has their own world and way of being on this planet. When you and Sacred interviewed each other, he explained how Dilla would rework songs that were already all around us and change them to be right in front of people—using music to alter the way we look at the world around us.

Yeah—recreate it. Using records and samples and so forth. It really stems from Bambaataa. Afrika Bambaataa. We pay a lot of homage to that cat. Basically like Secondhand Sureshots— it’s being able to pull up any record. Any record—any sound on this planet!—and hearing that frequency within that record, you can recreate that record for certain people. For that certain frequency because you can hear it within that. The record or the song could be total trash, you know? But you hearing certain parts—what they call ‘breaks’ in things? There’s breaks in every music. All sounds, all frequencies. That’s the connection—that recreation of that music is a re-connection with the people, with all music and all things they never knew existed. What is that frequency? Different cultures are brought up on different melodies. Certain things catch over to certain people. As long as you’re utilizing all these different frequencies—which can be limited. You gotta be unlimited dealing with all these different frequencies and different worlds, but you still gotta maintain your own self within going to all these other planets and other worlds and dealing with all these frequencies. But like I say—if you touch on it and recreate it and make it all one thing, that’s the proper equation ... for me! What do you want to do to people with those waves of bass? I’m trying to move you. It’s the heartbeat. The bass is the movement—that’s your life. It’s the life sound. I’m bringing life to music. 59


Am I right when I recognize songs from Spacebase from the set you did at dublab on 4/20 this year when Flying Lotus’ Cosmogramma came out? Yeah—a lot of them tunes have been done a long time. I been wanting to get it out for maybe two years, but dealing with earthly matters and earthly people … I actually had to save my project. I didn’t want it to get bootlegged, so I never linked anybody to it or gave ’em the tracks, even though I play them all out live. Didn’t you get bootlegged once already? Yeah—I was gonna do an EP, and the artist who was supposed to do the cover … I gave him like a rough copy one-track mix, and he bootlegged it! I still have them, but they ain’t came out. I always say—digital music is cool, but you don’t have the record till you have the record. You know—you think you have it, but you don’t have nothing. It hasn’t made a physical state yet, but the project also hasn’t been aborted. I like digital music, but it gets to a point where it’s just another thing in my iTunes with a million other things. A record is marking time as a physical piece. It’s a certificate of your creational work. I can lose the ZIP disk, I can lose the beat—anything can happen! But as long as I have it marked in this certificate of music, I’m pretty much done—I made it. You started out with just a drum machine but flipped records and sold incense to get an MPC sampler. Why did you know you needed more than just a drum machine? The whole Bambaataa thing. Records and loops and listening to all these different sounds. I just wanna hear ’em on loop! When you hear ’em on loop, it’s kinda hypnotic. You start hearing more than you think you actually heard previously. It kinda draws deeper. It’s kind of a spiritual thing, some might say. Not a supernatural thing but a spiritual thing. You lose touch with your physical being. You return to your higher self—your higher sense of being—through these things. That frequency can be found in different records, different worlds. The first time I really got an understanding of it … I was with my mom in the car and this DJ on this old soul station was playing a lot of soul—Slave, Parliament, Funkadelic—but he was playing joints that everybody was sampling. N.W.A., Ice Cube, E.P.M.D., X-Clan—all these things. So I’m like, ‘Yo … what’s that?’ It made me think about that. Then I went to this club in L.A. called Brown Rice and BBQ, thrown by the Soul Children. DJ Sacred was part of that crew—that collective. They’d throw these parties in the hood at these random spots and they’d just play like … breaks. So-called breaks. And I’d never been to a place like that or heard shit like that, and I’d seen them playing all these records so it made me wanna go look at my people’s records. ‘What’s in these records?’ I’d just start listening to these records at my grandma’s house and I heard some shit. ‘I know that, I know that …’ It just clicked. When you were flipping records, what was the best find you ever had on the street? My biggest find when I was young … I had a friend on my street, 81st and Vermont. My friend through elementary and high school. 60

We’d hang out on this block. One of these cats grew up in these apartments and his dad left all these records on the side of their apartment. I don’t know how—it’d been rained on and all kinds of stuff, and some of them were gone … but man, I got like five crates of amazing stuff. A lot of CTI shit, Impulse! shit … it had a little tarp over it, but it was amazing how these records got through! And made it through all this shit. He was like, ‘I got some records for sale,’ and he didn’t have no money so I went over there and it blew my brain at that age. I didn’t have a sampler or something, but I knew dope records. ‘I’ll take all these for $40!’ He was going crazy like, ‘I got $40!’ And I was going crazy like, ‘I got Gary Bartz! “Celestial Blues!” I’m trippin’! Shout out to Calvin—I still see him. Chuck D has talked about how Public Enemy would sample not always for music, but for history, too—like making sure the voice and energy of Rufus Thomas was connected to theirs. All that goes into that. That’s what I’m saying. When you’re looking at these records and checking their histories, certain things just draw you to it. If that’s what you about and that’s your energy, that’s what you gonna pick up. I’m the same way. I see … I’m look-

of now—as opposed to buying every new tool, you can just master one tool and create whole new worlds with that tool. What will you do when you master something like that? I don’t wanna be like master of none of these things. They’re just canvases. I just put thought and feeling into them. How I hear things in my mind. That’s all that I do. On the song ‘Silly Earthlings,’ you have that sample: ‘Everything I do is always brand new—I walk a real road, I’m a real person inside. I don’t put on no airs. I say what I think.’ Is that the Ras_G philosophy? Ah man—that’s Charles Manson. As crazy as he is, he has his points. He’s a nut—but it makes a lot of sense, certain things he talks about. I’m not a Manson dude. But everybody got something to say. On Spacebase, you have songs for Flying Lotus and Dilla. You also have a song for your friend General Black—you even have early songs for Dwight Trible. What makes you want to give a song to someone? Most of these people I pick when I do these kinda things, they kinda make a mark. Not in terms of the world—well, in the world, but sometimes personal. Like my friend General

putting out books! He droppin new books, new poetry—it’s endlessness! That’s why he’s my favorite. Of everything. As far as music and art and all these different things. He’s done it all. He’s an old man but playing with young dudes and killing it! How did you find out who Sun Ra was in the first place? I kinda didn’t know who he was, but reading certain books and seeing certain things … it’s like a call. Like I see ankhs, I see wings—this looks familiar. It don’t look foreign to me. I got The Wind Speaks and that shit blew my brain. I’m still buying $200 Saturn records right now. It’s like getting ancient scrolls! Direct from the man himself. He’s touching these records, the band—their hands were on ’em. That’s personal, man. So certain things in the Spacebase were touched by Sun Ra himself. When I got Disco 3000, I bought it in Japan. Homie went in back of the store and came out with Disco 3000—the OG! I was like, ‘AUUUUuuuuuugh!’ What’s killer is that’s my favorite one. He’s playing with a drum machine on that one. That’s my favorite one and I had to have it so I dropped $300. Willy [Gaslamp Killer] couldn’t believe it. And that was it! Playing with a drum machine? That’s

“Every mind is a planet. Another way of thinking, another way of being.” ing at my randoms now. MUSIC FROM THE WESTERN CONGO. A Folkways Joint. I see it … I can’t hear it, but still—I bought it, and it’s one of the craziest records. It’s from like ’60. Like when they’d drive around in the sound truck taping people? Yeah, you know—stealing music. That’s pretty much what they were doing. Not giving these people any money. Talk about sampling—you’re recreating for them cats. I’m just in Spacebase. This is like me making a mark. This is my pyramid. My hallowed place. These are my marks, my pieces. My piece of life. This is what I bring to it. When Ghetto Sci Fi came out, you said people couldn’t believe you made the music you did with the tools you had. You can do all kinda things with nothing. That’s the whole thing. I come from a hiphop background—that music comes from nothingness. It’s an idea. Ideas come from nothing. The birth of a thought—thoughts are nothing till they become something you can see and share. Thoughts don’t matter till people see something they can believe in. That’s why I say hip-hop comes from nothing. Kids who don’t play instruments and only had records made music and a culture that changed the world. Even today. You turn nothingness into something. With the tools

Black. I didn’t know General Black that long in my life. But when he came through, he made a mark. As an artist—where I make music, he’d make a piece. Like—man, he just sat there and did that right there? A mindblowing thing. Or Steve from ‘Sketchbook’ days, when we were all just making beats. I wasn’t thinking about making live shit. I didn’t think anybody was really listening to shit that was going on. But he kinda broke out and showed that motherfuckers was really listening to the shit that was going on. … You salute these people. I think it’s an African thing. We salute our ancestors. You congratulate your brother. You don’t hate your brother. You big up your sister. There ain’t none of that hate shit. I’m all about that. It’s all connected—it’s all a oneness. You don’t know your roots, you don’t know where you’re going! Where are you going? I don’t know. That’s like asking a tree, ‘How long you gonna grow?’ He can’t even tell you. He can only be. He’s a life force. He’s a being. Giving off fruits, giving off oxygen. He’s just being. He’s busting through concrete—like a nothing-can-stop-it kind of thing. Sun Ra said that even though we get certificates for being born and dying, we don’t get anything to prove that we’re just being. Ra said a lot, man. He’s still flying. He’s still

before anybody was doing that shit. Arkestra playing with a drum machine. That’s what I try to recreate. That’s my biggest one—I recreate Disco 3000 with all my shit. That’s why I like that dude so much—he kinda reminds me of myself. I’m not trying to be Sun Ra! I’m not trying to be nobody. We kinda got a lot in common, that’s what it is. We got the same source of humor, thought and being. I don’t know many people like that. It’s my elder, I always say. Are you the source of that sample of Gaslamp Killer saying, ‘Los Angeles is in the motherfucking building?!’ Yes I am! I will take that quote! I did sample that, and you know, I always tell Willy—he has a real effective voice. Whatever he says, people listen. Instantly! They do exactly what he says, so I always thought that was an effective drop—I use it quite often. Where’s it come from? I know where it’s from, but guess what—I ain’t tellin’ you all! That’s what I said—you gotta find your own world! RAS_G’S SPACEBASE IS THE PLACE IS AVAILABLE NOW FROM POOBAH. RAS_G’S DOWN 2 EARTH IS AVAILABLE NOW FROM RAMP. VISIT RAS_G AT AFRIKANSPACEPROGRAM.COM. INTERVIEW


JACUZZI BOYS Interview by Jason Gelt Illustration by Walt! Gorecki

2011 is shaping up to be a sunshiny year for Miami’s Jacuzzi Boys. Hardly Art released the band’s eagerly anticipated sophomore platter, Glazin’, at the end of August to positive press and mainstream acclaim. And although their identity remains fiercely tied to the raw tropical vibe of their home state, guitarist/vocalist Gabriel Alcala, drummer Diego Monasterios, and bassist Danny Gonzalez are poised to spread their hooky melding of good-time pop, garage and punk to the world at large. Strapped in for the 500-mile drive from Miami to Tallahassee on the opening day of the band’s grueling 35-city U.S. tour, Gonzalez discusses Miami’s challenging music scene, the frustrations of being labeled as a garage act, and the recording process for their new album. What’s the story behind the cover art for Glazin’? I studied photography in college, and I’m a big fan of this guy Christian Patterson. He worked with William Eggleston, who’s one of my favorite photographers. I was always a fan of Patterson’s work, but never really thought about using it for anything. One day I was showing Gabriel a book of his, and Gabriel really liked that picture “Railroad Boots,” which has always been one of my favorites from that collection. When we were discussing album art, we liked the way Big Star’s Radio City cover looked, the way it was really simple and clean. And again, we wanted to do the opposite of the No Seasons cover, which was a super naïve, silly drawing. So we wanted to base the design off Radio City, and that picture was perfect for a variety of reasons. Eggleston shot the cover for Radio City, Patterson worked for Eggleston. Does Miami have a thriving music scene? It’s a weird place as far as the music scene goes. Miami’s not really a rock ‘n’ roll town, and not a ton of bands have come out of it and not a ton of bands tour through it. Geographically, the distance bands have to travel to get here limits the shows we get to see. There’s something cool about that, and there’s a certain isolation that makes Miami feel unique. It’s kind of a pain in the ass to make it all the way to Miami and make it all the way out without many options. I think it messes up bands from Miami as well, because when you tour, Atlanta is the first major city you’ll get to and it’s ten hours away. Whereas if you’re in that whole Northeast area, within a couple of hours you can get to Philly, you can get to New Jersey, New York, Baltimore, all those places. And that’s just not the case here. How do Jacuzzi Boys fit in? Now we have a pretty significant following, and the shows have been a lot of fun when we’ve played in town, but for a while it was like we were a novelty or something. People didn’t know what to make of it. It’s not like in other cities where there’s a strong local community that always goes out to shows. A lot of times a local band will have shows and there’ll be no one there. The club scene is way more prominent. People always seem like they want a dance party over a rock ‘n roll band. But that’s just the way it’s always been. Un62

like other big cities, there’s basically one place to play in town that feels comfortable for a band to play, that feels like a real bar that’s been around for a while. There’s other clubby places that will have a stage and offer bands to play but it’s not the right environment. What’s the one venue? Churchill’s Pub in Little Haiti. They’ve singlehandedly kept the South Florida music scene alive. A ton of places have come and gone and other places have tried to dress it all up and make it look nice. You buy a drink and it’s a price like a club on South Beach. But Churchill’s feels like a real bar. It’s a total dive that’s been around for years, no rules, anything goes, and any kind of band can play. It’s kind of like our CBGB. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Miami, but it’s unlike any other place in the country. It has its own vibe going on. There are spots that definitely don’t feel like America at all. It’s one of the few cities that you can buy drinks seven days a week at any time of day. Bars close at five in the morning and you can probably find an after-hours bar after that. We’re in this weird isolated swampland that’s somewhat of a lawless town. Our environment has a lot to do with our identity, not just songwriting. We’re very much a band from Miami. I just recently realized, when a band comes out of Detroit, they’re a band from Detroit, not Michigan. If a band comes out of Chicago, they’re a band from Chicago, not Illinois. When a band comes out of L.A., they’re an L.A. band, not a California band. But for some reason, we’re a Florida band. I think in general, people have such a weird idea of Florida, so it’s just kind of like, it’s all Florida. It’s just alligators and sunshine and retired people. Miami couldn’t be any different than any other place in Florida. It really has nothing to do with Florida except that we’re in the state. It’s kind of the way New Orleans is unique to Louisiana. Miami is very much its own little world inside of Florida. I love Florida, obviously, but I represent Miami before I represent Florida. What influences brought you together? The obvious influences, like garage and punk stuff. The Ramones, the New York Dolls and the Sonics. But I think as time has passed, although we definitely still dig that kind of stuff, it’s expanded. It’s not like we stay at home and listen to garage records all day, but

that was the initial interest and bonding element. It was what we were able to play. None of us are master players by any means, so it lent itself quite easily to that. You guys have diverse musical tastes, including a lot of classic 70s rock. Is it irritating when you get pigeonholed as a garage rock act? I don’t know. It seems weird complaining about it. If you need to classify our sound, I guess that’s what it’s gonna be. But I also don’t think it’s strictly garage rock. People have different definitions of what garage rock could be. For instance on the new record, I think maybe our approach to it had that in mind, but it doesn’t sound like the Sonics or Gonn or something like that. But it’s fine. If people want to call it that, that’s cool. I find it funny when people call it lo-fi, though, because this record sounds pretty damn good to me. It sounds the opposite of lo-fi. We’ve never tried to make a lo-fi record. Sometimes it was just the means that we had. But especially on the new record, when I read a review and they’re like, ‘Oh, super lo-fi,’ and I go, ‘Oh my god. Really?’ Even our first album, No Seasons—it doesn’t sound like a Steely Dan record, but it’s not lo-fi. I think people confuse a fuzz sound as meaning lo-fi, but that’s a fine distinction. What’s the band’s creative process? It happens in a variety of different ways. Sometimes Gabriel will come in with some guitar part. Sometimes I might have a guitar part. Maybe he’ll have close to a full song ready, sometimes I’ll have a bass part and we’ll play off that. Sometimes we have nothing and we’ll all just start playing together. It’s never really like someone brings complete, finished songs to the band like, ‘Everyone, learn your part.’ It’s not really like that. As a band with such strong ties to its home, what was it like to record Glazin’ at Keyclub Recording Co. in Michigan? We’ve always liked the idea of leaving town to record a record. No Seasons was recorded in Atlanta. We all stay together and just focus on that. We don’t have daily disturbances. The songs are all written in Florida, but it adds a new perspective, however subtle it may be. At Keyclub you live in the studio while you’re there. They have rooms upstairs. It’s like, ‘We’re all here, so let’s make this record together.’

How long was the recording process? It was just shy of two weeks. No Seasons was seven days exactly. We wanted a little more time, so we got twelve. It would be nice to have some more time. If we had an extra three days or whatever, I’m sure we would have taken advantage of it. But what we’re doing isn’t that crazy and difficult. We’re a live band essentially. We play the songs live in the studio. We do overdubs and stuff, but it’s not rocket science. You could drive yourself crazy if you had three months in the studio with unlimited options. You’d have like seventeen mixes of one song. You don’t know which one’s bad. At that point it’s like, ‘I don’t know.’ It’s cool to have some time restrictions. When you start nitpicking you lose the spirit of the song. Has your newfound high profile gotten you any kind of negative reaction from the garage rock community? There hasn’t been any full-blown negative reaction, but there has been like things you’d expect, like, ‘Oh, it’s not as raw, it’s too clean.’ But it’s fine. If we’d been trying to strictly cater to the garage rock community, then we’d be disappointed. But we’ve never really approached it like that. I hope the next record doesn’t sound like Glazin’ at all. I just wouldn’t want to make the same record over and over. If people were expecting No Seasons 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, they’re bound to be disappointed. But we’re all happy with it, so I guess that’s all you can ask for. What’s the story behind the song ‘Los Angeles’ on Glazin’? When we toured in 2008 with the Shrines it was our first time in L.A. for all three of us. We loved it. So when we first started talking about wanting to make the new record, we had the idea of going out to California to record, because we all loved California so much. But that didn’t end up happening. The Keyclub happened instead, so having California on our minds and the good time we had in L.A., it was like, ‘OK, we didn’t record there, but we’ll write a song about L.A.’ Maybe one day. Maybe the next day will be a California record. JACUZZI BOYS’ GLAZIN’ IS OUT NOW ON HARDLY ART. VISIT THE JACUZZI BOYS AT JACUZZIBOYS.COM. INTERVIEW


ALBUMS

EDITED BY DAN COLLINS

66 68 80

THE INTERPRETER: KONE Matt Dupree ALBUM REVIEWS THE INTERPRETER: FRANK ALPINE Howe Strange

FILM

EDITED BY LAINNA FADER

82

JANIE GEISER Lainna Fader

86

GEORGE KUCHAR Daiana Feuer

88 COMICS

EDITED BY TOM CHILD

BOOKS

EDITED BY NIKKI BAZAR

90 91

CENTRALESSNESS/CENTERNESSLESS/CENTERLESSNESS BY BEN HEYWOOD BOOK AND ZINE REVIEWS

ART

EDITED BY DREW DENNY

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LACE Drew Denny FRANK ALPINE by WARD ROBINSON


THE INTERPRETER

KONE

Curated by Matt Dupree Photography by Gari Askew

We asked longtime L.A. producer and promoter Kone to interpret some of the records that have been on his mind since the release of his long-awaited (by us and hopefully by you!) album The Tractatus on local mainstay Alpha Pup. He delivers here some of the records that turned a kid named Matthew into the man named Kone. Look for his new mix on larecord.com soon! “With the risk of proving how old I am, I graduated high school in 1996. It was a good year for hip-hop. There was Ghostface’s Ironman, De La Soul’s Stakes is High, Tribe had Beats, Rhymes & Life, and even though I’d heard some earlier OutKast, I remember almost falling out the car the first time I heard ‘Elevators.’ It was like my version of Dazed & Confused. There was the same amount of beer, weed and driving around aimlessly, but—since this was L.A.—there were beaches and rap music too. I always had one turntable through high school, but for some reason I was late in realizing how much good music was only being pressed to wax … in small numbers … and without any label support. But then I went to Fat Beats—when it was upstairs at X-Large—and spent all my money. Then I got a second turntable at a Goodwill, and it was on. Back then, kids weren’t as hip to the underground music game the way they are now. I mean, there was like one or two DJs at each high school. Nowadays they’re all producers and rappers. So this is a tribute to records that really showed me the DIY aspect of making music. These are all independent hip-hop 12”s from 1996. This is NOT a TOP ten list—just ten that were important to me. These records are all the stuff that I discovered at that time—that opened up the other side of the music, and made it seem like a completely reasonable life path.”

LATEEF “THE QUICKENING”/”THE WRECKONING”/”LATYRX” 12” (SOLESIDES, 1996) “I think this was an important record for the West Coast at the time, especially around the Bay. The tracks ‘The Quickening’ and ‘The Wreckoning’ were awesome, but no one had heard anything like ‘Latyrx’ before. Two MCs rhyming simultaneously in split stereo wasn’t a gimmick—it was an experience. You could easily tune in to either’s verse, or create your own out of the middle. Then each goes on to obliterate the verses, running off about eight million rhyme patterns no one had ever heard before. Plus, the early production from DJ Shadow was stripped down, raw and progressive at the time.”

D.I.T.C. “DAY ONE” 12” (D.I.T.C., 1997) “‘Day One’ is a classic. Diamond D flipped a beat so nice, they had to put it twice—on the B-side, they just put the same song again. This track has classic verses from the whole camp, but Lord Finesse, Diamond and Big L’s were always my favorites: ‘Son, I’m sick, and you can put that on my mama. Exclamation point, quotation, comma.’”

THE ARSONISTS “THE SESSION”/”HALLOWEEN” 12” (FONDLE ‘EM, 1996) “This was some real lunchroom-table-type hip-hop. The Session just made you feel good. You could let the instrumental play all day and never ever get tired of it. Just simple formula. Dope beat, dope lyrics.”

INDELIBLE MCS “FIRE IN WHICH YOU BURN”/”COLLUDE INTRUDE” 12” (RAWKUS, 1997) “Company Flow, the Juggaknots and J-Treds formed the Indelible MCs. Co Flow represented to me the East Coast equivalent of the beat experimentation that was happening on the West Coast. I was bumping the hell out of Dr. Octagon during that phase, and the stuff that El-P and company were doing was right on par—and just enough out there.”

INTERPRETER

DR. OCTAGON “3000”/”BEAR WITNESS” (MO WAX, 1996)

“The Octagon project pretty much blew everything out of the water at that time. We bumped that album hard. It was the perfect amount of amazing production and ridiculous raps. But looking back at that album from a modern beat perspective, Dan the Automator was just so ahead of his time. Plus the Q-Bert cuts?! I’ve included the Bear Witness remix on this mix—even if this came out this year, I’d be jockin’ it.”

EAST FLATBUSH PROJECT “TRIED BY 12” 12” (10/30 UPROAR, 1996)

“‘Tried by 12’ was like the grimiest backpack track ever. A sparse beat with a loop from Odetta Live in Japan, and those Al Green drums that you’d heard before, but sounded more raw than ever. Every line in the raps is quotable and everyone was dropping the instrumental. ‘Beef … starts with the shove and ends with the shovel.’”

MF DOOM “GREENBACKS”/”GO WITH THE FLOW” 12” (FONDLE ‘EM, 1997) “The important thing about this record is that it was his first as the newly named MF DOOM, following his hiatus after losing his brother and partner SubRoc, who together formed KMD with DOOM—then Zev Love X. After several years away he returned with a new persona—multiple, actually—and the rest is history. ‘As y’all see, who give a fuck who knows what is it. These styles will be flipped to the absolute exquisite.’”

THE NONCE “BUS STOPS”/”WHO FALLS APART” 12”(WILD WEST, 1996) “The Nonce is still sort of a mystery. Project Blowed affiliates famous for ‘I used to sellllll mixtapes … but now I’m an emceeeee.’ One of those groups that makes an impact with very few songs. This 12” is classic and the track ‘Who Falls Apart?’ was almost unintentionally foreshadowing a short run. Everything they did was pretty, though.”

NATURAL RESOURCE “NEGRO LEAGUE BASEBALL”/”THEY LIED” 12” (EKAPA RPM, 1996)

SIAH & YESHUA DAPO ED THE VISUALZ EP

“‘Negro League Baseball’ was an important independent record. It almost came along with a story about how hard these guys were fighting to get their music out to the people. It was comedic and incendiary. The record didn’t even say the name of the group on the label—just NR. It was perfect.”

“Another mystery. Never to be heard from again. Too bad—this record really stands up after all these years. Quality production and imaginative, clever rhymes. Sort of like Digable Planet’s second cousin that no one ever knew made music. I still like this record. That’s hip-hop.”

(FONDLE ‘EM, 1996)

67


THE BEACH BOYS The Smile Sessions Box Set - Capitol / EMI

JOE McGARRY

In 1966, in the wake of the critical acclaim from the masterpiece Pet Sounds, and coasting on the fame and fortune he’d earned for singlehandedly competing with the entire nation of England for two whole years, Brian Wilson boasted to the press that the next Beach Boys album would be better still—as evolved from Pet Sounds as Pet Sounds had been from its predecessor, the goofy Beach Boys Party! album. Finally on November 1, 2011, we’ll be getting the official, Capitol Records, Mikeand-Al-sanctioned confirmation that he was absolutely right. While Pet Sounds gets the accolades, consistently coming up number one in lists of the greatest albums of all time (Rolling Stone placed it as number 2, just below Sgt. Pepper), it’s now crystal clear that Pet Sounds was supposed to be just the wedge end of a growing block of masterful songwriting and recording genius—yes, the title “genius” is correct, despite what the elder Brian himself claims. Furthermore, it’s obvious from this box set (you can also get the gist of things in a two-CD or two-album set, though we know our readers will go for the version with all the trimmings) that the Smile sessions were NOT written, arranged and recorded by a drug-addled, paranoid recluse whose bad LSD trips had clouded his judgment—that would come later for Brian. Here, the only thing crazy is how intricate and beautiful the music is. Though we’ll never know the answer to the mystery of what might 68

have been, this collection gives us our best guess, while at the same time shattering any myths about what was assumed never could be. You, fair reader, probably know those myths and never believed them, though it’s hard to avoid romancing the Smile saga. To rehash a tale that’s been told to death (and which is covered far better in the box set’s liner notes), Smile missed its historical moment, big time. Planned to be released after the Beatles’ Revolver and to make good on the promise of the “Good Vibrations” single, Smile instead became unwound and frazzled, hemorrhaging songs and lyric writers and well-wishers as its completion date got pushed further and further into 1967. (Lyricist Van Dyke Parks famously amscrayed after one too many terse arguments with Mike Love, a major skeptic of Smile who likely hastened its destruction.) When Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band came out, an album made by Beach Boys fans that was nonetheless far more abrasive than what the Wilson brothers were working on, it basically beat them to the punch. And Brian effectively threw in the towel, scrapping all his hard work and instead gathering the Beach Boys together at his house to hastily bang out cheapo versions of the songs meant for Smile (the only true Smile session survivor being “Heroes and Villains”). Finally, in 2004, a newly refurbished Brian Wilson with a new wife, new band and new meds got his ass up on stage and took

Smile on tour, culminating it with his own version of Smile in CD and DVD format. But what about the other Beach Boys? The Brian of now was no match for the Brian of old, nor was his backing band able to surpass the original Wilson brothers’ harmonies. The original Beach Boys’ vocals, the harmonies that were supposed to guide us through Smile, the kind you can ONLY get from a group of siblings (think of the Bee Gees, or the Chapin Sisters, or the Jacksons) were still sitting in the vaults at Capitol. We fans could splice together our own Smiles from the demos available, but Brian had denied us access to the rest, going so far as to say that the original “Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow” was terrible and would NEVER be unearthed, and might even be destroyed. Thank GOD that’s not true, and thank GOD for this final mix, which sends the bootleggers running to the hills with crisp and clear recordings that provide plenty of surprises. The running order is largely the same as what Wilson gave us in 2004, but many of the details are different than what was presented then, including the song titles, which go by the names fashioned by Wilson and Van Dyke Parks at the time. And perhaps due to limitations in what the young BB’s had laid down on those Capitol sessions (there’s no cheating or re-dos, like Carl Wilson used on the 70s “Surf’s Up”), you’ll also hear some Parks lyrics that are different here than on the 2004 version. We’re missing some words, such as the megaphone bit on “Holidays,” or the “Maybe not one/maybe you too” lyrics that tied “Wonderful” to “Song for Children” on the 2004 Smile. Actually, that’s probably my biggest complaint about the “final” Smile, mild as it is: the slightly clumsier connection between songs. I’m sure this, too, was a limitation in resources­—it’s far too late to get the Wrecking Crew back together. But one of the many, many ways that Smile would have been ahead of its time

was the fact that it was more than a collection of songs—it was supposed to be a woven tapestry, where one song became the next. But a lack in connections is more than made up for by all the new revelations! Oh my God! In some places, it’s subtle, like in the extra minute of “ba de ba” meat slapping in “Vega-Tables,” or the ridiculously satiating bits of “Cool, Cool Water” that show up in the background of “Love to Say Dada.” Other songs, like “Child Is Father of the Man,” contain brand new vocal and instrumental arrangements that almost nobody has ever heard before. If you just put this on in the background while washing dishes, you might just break a plate at the beauty of the sudden piano break in the middle of “Holiday,” which makes the instrumentals from the Pet Sounds-era sound like immature stumbles by comparison. The other four discs of the box set prove how complex Brian’s arrangements had grown, even compared to similar session tracks from the Pet Sounds box. There, though the songs were heartfelt and wistful, many of the arrangements were still largely verse-chorus, the kind like “God Only Knows” that could be recreated in a live setting with minimal changes— just get a concertina player on stage with a banjoist and have one of the girlfriends shake a tambourine. We’re far, far further through the looking glass with Smile! So much is crammed into each song, yet they feel so light! And on some of these sessions, you see that Brian had been even further out there than on the more “finished” tracks, especially on the sessions recorded while the other Beach Boys were still deep into their English tour in 1966. Some versions of “Vega-Tables” have laughter all the way through them, like a madhouse. And one version of “Heroes and Villains” (track 22 on the first disc, if you want to check it out) is so psychedelic, you’ll drool—certainly this could have made “Tomorrow Never Knows” look like “Yesterday Already Did.” Of course, it wouldn’t be Smile without some humor.

Perhaps my favorite parts of the whole collection are the goofy bits between musical tracks—like when Brian and friends pretend that he’s stuck in a microphone or piano, or when you hear Brian chiding his session players into slapping actual chains at just the right velocity. Actually, the goofiest part of all is the box set packaging! As though the music and all those sessions wasn’t enough, this gigantic … thing comes with a book, a bunch of photos (er, I mean “lithographs”), and the piece de resistance, a re-rendered Smile “shop” cover that lights up and is in 3-D! I guess these are the features that will make the box sex $140 instead of $80? As long as I get my vinyl singles, my vinyl albums, AND my CDs, I’ll accept the rest like a cigarette after sex. Too often, history has treated Smile like the fire that Brian Wilson’s bad behavior kicked over, causing the Beach Boys’ careers to burn out. So perhaps it’s in some ways fitting that this Smile is the first attempt in a long time to patch things up between the existing Beach Boys—instead of suing each other, as they’ve done so often in the past, Mike Love, Brian Wilson, and Al Jardine came together on this and actually agreed to release this box set. Maybe they knew it was too important to wait. Despite all the cynical business decisions Mike Love has used to keep the Beach Boys machine afloat through the years, it’s his gentle voice that makes so many of these songs great: and yes, the final song on here is his “Good Vibrations” with Mike Love vocals and lyrics, and not the original Tony Asher ones as sung by Brian in 2004. A collection of so many things—themes of Americana, minor key standards, English and Hawaiian languages, the four elements—this final Smile is also a collection that brings the past and present together and makes some sense out of them, somehow. Here’s to not making us wait another ten years—and here’s to the thousand times I’ll be listening to this album and smiling. —Dan Collins ALBUM REVIEWS


BROCK POTUCEK

MARISSA PATERNOSTER

BUFFALO KILLERS 3 Alive

Whenever the superiority of vinyl comes up in conversation, it’s always about the “warmth.” Bullshit. The best part is hearing it after a few years of heavy rotation. The sags, the distortion, the pops: all the little flaws make it your record. It’s impossible to recreate this in the studio before the fact, but Buffalo Killers do a pretty damn good job trying. The first track on 3 sinks into a slow groove, that sort of light syncopation fuzz

MARISSA PATERNOSTER

A.A. BONDY Believers Fat Possum

ALBUM REVIEWS

that comes from wedging albums into a shitty particle-board bookshelf. And that’s the whole aesthetic: the sound of a record you’ve had forever. Their love for the California rock sound is obvious (as well as their appreciation for another “Buffalo” band), but they’re not leashed to it. I like to think this is the music Poco would’ve done if they hadn’t had such an inferiority complex. And although the guitars love to dive into delicacy, they’re never too far from the big chorus rhythms or grodgey strums. My favorite on the album is “Spend My Last Breath,” a relaxing jaunt through layer upon layer of ringing guitars and bongo patter. Its slow meander belies a mesmerizing quality; suddenly the album is over and you don’t know where the last eight minutes went. And while the nostalgia and somnolence are not ends in themselves, they give the album a sort of supernatural sense of time-travel. As though they had always been there, but we’d just never noticed before. —Matt Dupree

When you’re a solo artist who was formerly in a band, or any artist for that matter, comparisons to your former work are inevitable. A.A. Bondy’s easy-breezy solo music has always been radically different from that of his hard rockin’ days in Verbena, and his latest effort takes the differences even further. Believers is Bondy’s third, matching the total number of Verbena releases, and it is achingly beautiful. Boiling down the folksy roots-rock of his previous solo releases, with Believers Bondy has created an introspective and sometimes sparse record, equal parts Americana and shoegaze. It’s

THE DUSTBOWL REVIVAL Holy Ghost Station self-released

The Dustbowl Revival is a tenplus-piece ensemble based out of Venice Beach. Country but cabaret, or perhaps even a little vaudevillian, they call themselves “hillbilly jazz,” a juxtaposition they pull off well by virtue of tasteful musical arrangements that include everything from harmonica, banjo and washboard to tuba, trumpet, trombone and clarinet. They even throw in a “kazoo for good luck.” The end result is equal parts Old Man Markley, The Devil Makes Three and Madonna’s I’m Breathless album, aka the Dick Tracy soundtrack: just throw in a little Sidney Bechet to cover the sassy horns that seem to speak with sharp interjection or drunken nonsense. Holy Ghost Station opens with an uptempo banjo pickin’ bluegrass toe-tapper about packing up easy to listen to, it moves enough to keep from being sleepy and has enough experimentation to briefly remind you of Radiohead or Wilco. Of course, a part of me really wants to listen to Verbena’s Into the Pink instead: now that’s the type of rock ‘n’ roll that makes teenagers drink alcohol and take their clothes off! But if you listen closely, all the same themes are there. Bondy’s pop sensibilities have definitely translated over from Verbena, as has his lyrical style, even if it’s being sung a bit slower. So maybe it’s not so much a change in style as it is a progression, an inevitability. It has definitely been worth the journey. —Joe Sebo

LISA STROUSS

your flatbed and moving to California after losing all your crops: it’s a tongue-in-cheek number that might not sit so well with real Dustbowl survivors! The remaining tracks take the listener on a tour of various musical styles from the first half of the 20th century: ragtime, barbershop quartet, Peggy Lee-style lounge, and whiskey-soaked rhythm and blues. There’s even a Flamenco guitar instrumental ironically (or accurately) titled “Western Passage.” Throughout the album, frontman Zach Lupetin’s storytelling lyrics will consistently amuse you. To be regaled by tales from the Dustbowl, pick up Holy Ghost Station. —Vanessa Gonzalez

BROCK POTUCEK

GWENDOLYN Bright Light Whispersquish

California singer-songwriter Gwendolyn knows exactly what she’s doing. You hear that voice—

AMANDA JO WILLIAMS Homeheart EP self-released

Amanda Jo Williams takes what some might call “freak folk” to whole new level with her new 5-track digital album [Hey, the guitarist is named 5-Track too! It’s a setup! –ed.], in chich she spews and chirps about being a cottontail bunny, bears eating her, and flying happily away alongside a Trader Joe’s balloon. Homeheart is open and approachable, with a childlike humility that makes you nostalgic for your own long-lost days of camping in the countryside, huddled up around a raging fire listening to unearthly tales and eating smores. Only Amanda Jo’s tales are lit up with more than just a flashlight in the face. These songs beam with the raw, otherworldly insight of a country music mystic who spits campfire stories through squeaky

clear as bell, child-like, with a skosh of Dolly Parton at the top end—and your defenses drop just a bit. It’s pretty damn pleasant to hear, and just when you think, “OK, I think I get,” she slurs a word or two and gives it all a little sexy edge. Very clever. It’s not Southern, but it’s casual and warm like the “Hi, honey,” you get from a truck stop waitress in Arkansas. That works on you for a while. Then you start to listen to what she’s singing about, and you’re pretty much done for. Gwendolyn is smart, but knows how to dole it out in sweet little clumps of lyrical fun. The music on Bright Light is sparse and well-played Americana. Producer Ethan Allen’s past collaborations include Patty Griffin, and there’s clearly some similarity here. The most “radio-friendly” tracks tend to be friendly adult contemporary in feel, but throughout Bright Light more traditional country makes a few strong appearances, such as on “Monster in My Heart” and “American Gothic,” fun knee-slappers that show Gwendolyn’s range and oldschool chops. Gwendolyn’s reputation has come to be one of pushing boundaries and celebrating a kind of “freak-folk” persona, but I (very pleasantly) found that to be quite muted on Bright Light. This beautiful recording is comfortable being simple. There’s a kind of confidence in saying, “This is it. What you see is what you get.” —Grant Langston chords—vocal and guitar both!—and creaking whispers. Her soul-capturing tone makes you forget your age—make you even forget to notice when she pulls you into her cosmic web of brilliant, eclectic simplicity and charming, surreal wonder. True to its title, Homeheart warms the heart with light and airy lyrics you won’t soon get out of your head, and much-loved Amanda Jo Williams live favorite “The Bear Eats Me” keeps the loveable, eerie energy of the album flowing all the way to “Heraseema Sara.” Williams “sings” sparingly and uses her baby voice lavishly, creating uncharted sounds and rhythms unknown to even the most attentive ears, while strumming away freely on what must be the most magnificent old beat-up guitar in the world. Her agreeably unhinged voice and enchanting style help burn a new fork in the road that freak folk trailblazers like Devendra Banhart paved. —Tuesday Phillips 69


JOE McGARRY

ART BLAKEY’S JAZZ MESSENGERS Ugetsu Concord

Recorded live at Birdland, New York City in June 1963, this was the great hard-bop drummer’s final recording with the Messengers at the fabled venue. It’s a Wayne Shorter album in all but name: the tenor saxophonist contributes three compositions, plus enough biting passages and sustained melodic runs to blow pinfeathers off even the Bird. Trombonist Curtis Fuller struts on “Time Off” and Cedar Walton at the keys wrote the magnificent eleven-minute title cut. Jazzbo writers marvel over how long it took their music’s mainstream to figure out Blakey’s drumming, but it’s worth noting that later rock musicians— Keith Moon, Ed Cassidy from Spirit, Can’s Jaki Liebezeit—didn’t hesitate to take aspects of the long-lived

bandleader’s cacophonous, hyperprecise playing for their own maximum R&B/minimum LSD purposes. In passages, this is as rousing a live set as the fabled 1953 Massey Hall summit of Bird, Diz, Mingus, Bud and Roach, or any of Sun Ra’s most memorable detonations. ­—Ron Garmon

SILAS HITE

THE NOCTURNES Aokigahara self-released

There’s a deeply atavistic, al-

most-primordial element to Aokigahara, reminiscent of Dead Can Dance minus their indulgent splashes in world music. This may come as a surprise to those familiar with The Nocturnes’ previous album, A Year Of Spring, which centered mainly around singer-guitarist Emma Ruth Rundle’s enigmatic and powerful vocals. This time around, only a few songs feature Emma’s vocals, with most of the vocals flitting back and forth between band members. The chorus vocals darting in and out, the Gregorian levels of reverb—it all makes for a highly psyched-out and hypnotic sound. But before you go playing it at your yoga studio, let’s talk about guitars. What becomes apparent on the second or third listen is how much of the work of the album is done by the guitars. With very little percussion, and a swirling soup of vocals, the definition of

the album comes from the guitars. Whether that be the plaintive plinks of “The Road” or the crashing waves of “Craving,” each song takes its thematic cue from the guitars. Aokigahara, which takes its name from a Japanese forest where people go to die, ultimately sounds a lot like a big forest of ghosts. It’s expansive and haunting, dark but peaceful. If you had to die inside an album, you couldn’t do much better than this. —Matt Dupree

ELSA HENDERSON

LEFTOVER CUTIES Places to Go self-released

On Leftover Cuties’ Places to Go, the band plays jazz-pop that could be described facilely under the umbrella descriptor of “old timey,” the kind of music that frequently features a

CHAMPOYHATE

MINUTEMEN / SACCHARINE TRUST

Split 7” Water Under The Bridge Isn’t this what we needed just now? Almost-lost-and-almostforgotten comp tracks from the Minutemen and Saccharine Trust, rescued off records with awesome Pettibon art and collected on to a split 7” which always should have been, also featuring awesome Pettibon art. Not gonna lie to you, as the guy at the record store loves to say to me—if you have a copy of Cracks in the Sidewalk, you could sort of go on living without this, if you could truly call it living. 70

STEVEN FICHE

Minutemen’s “9:30 May 2” and Trust’s “Hearts and Barbarians” first clawed their way into California on that LP, and they’re two of the strong ones here. “9:30” is Joy-Punchline era Minutemen: about 30 seconds, riffs snapping around like downed power lines, righteousness aplenty. (“What does America mean to you?” “America means everything to me!”) “Hearts” is Jack aflutter with sarcasm (“I would have laughed in my sleep if someone would have asked me, ‘What chance have we?’”) and Joe just bleeding guitar everywhere, and although it’s not quite “I Am Right” it must be from right around Paganicons time. But best surprise is Trust’s

“Disillusioned Fool,” which is a punk-az-fuk stormer that woulda been welcome on Paganicons— hostile, fast and rare, which is why we buy these kinda records! Plus their “A Christmas Cry” is wrecked free-improv noise-hell that puts a big greasy smear across the holiday culture. Ever look at a Christmas tree and hate it? Brewer is so damn disgusted on this one. Cower before the power of the glower. Other tracks: two Minute-strumentals, including a faithful Tyrannosaurus Rex “Prelude.” Cool enough but you should have gone to get this three sentences back. —Chris Ziegler

THE SPITS Kill the Kool In the Red

Despite the fact that you will have a hard time finding this record in any store for a reasonable price, unless In the Red reissues it somewhere down the line, this compilation is a great sampler of one of the best punk bands to inhabit the West Coast in the past twenty years. Like the Stitches, the Briefs, and Le Shok, the Spits have created their own interpretation of punk and opened the doors for hundreds of copiers and scenes of “Spits-like” bands. After hearing this compilation, it’s obvious why. The Spits combine the buzzsaw guitar attack of the Ramones with vocals that vary from robotic mon-

ukulele and/or a muted trumpet, squeezebox and brushed drums, occasionally borrowing some melodic flourishes from gypsy folk. The website name-checks Billie Holiday, the closest antecedent to lead singer Shirli McAllen’s vocal style. But while the instrumentation on Places to Go may hearken to an earlier age, the production and songwriting is unmistakably contemporary. The closest modern musical comparison might be Inara George’s recent collaboration with Van Dyke Parks, the music of the Living Sisters and especially the breezier moments of She & Him. Though the majority of the melodies stay pretty light, lyrically the album is mainly preoccupied with longing, regret and the bittersweet wistfulness of lost loves, and it is at these most melancholy moments that Leftover Cuties achieve their greatest emotional impact. The band’s dichotomy is best expressed in the final two songs. Penultimate tune, “Sunnyside,” could sell a thousand iPods with its jaunty bounce, tack piano and lyrics like, “No use feeling down/get rid of that frown,” only to be followed by closer, “I Miss You,” a song dripping so tangibly with the struggle of loss that it practically forces a reinterpretation of “Sunnyside” as ironic. Places to Go manages to be both a good lastdays-of-summer album and a good breakup album, no easy feat. —Tom Child

goloid to something akin to Black Sabbath. Throughout the album, on songs like “Rip Up the Streets,” “Chemtrails,” and “Get Our Kicks,” the Spits celebrate drugs and degeneracy in a way that is as catchy and fun as their buddies in the Black Lips do. One treat from this album is you get to hear great two obscure covers, by the Crap Detectors and Spasmodic Caress, which shows these guys must have great record collections. —Daniel Clodfelter

DAVE VAN PATTEN

THE TERRORISTS Shoot It Up self-released

ALBUM REVIEWS


On their first full-length album, Shoot It Up, L.A.’s Terrorists channel all the best elements of early era punk rock, reminiscent of the Stooges, Richard Hell, X and the Cramps. Bereft of meandering experimentation or tangential flourishes, nothing here distracts from the songs. They mix anger and disappointment with humor and a snotty, acerbic “fuck you” attitude, and then bury it all in garage fuzz and the metallic crunch of guitar strings. On “Palm Trees, Sun and Parking Lots,” singer Ernest O. Guevara warbles like Lux Interior about the simultaneous sense of freedom and abandonment afforded by a city indifferent to its inhabitants over the guitar’s three chord attack and fast, frenzied drumming. During the bubblegum-esque “30 Minute Love,” a song about a visit to a whorehouse, backing vocals croon “oooh oooh ooh” and Guevara cheerfully declares “(for the next 30 minutes) I’m your guy.” “Freedom Fighters” rails against the mercenary contractors hired to fight our wars in the Middle East with lyrics so distorted, you’ll only make out the track title and “burn in hell.” It’s the loudest and most high-energy track on the EP, with a hard-driving rhythm punctuated by quick breaks and a short bass solo adding to the intensity of the main riff. If you buy this album, the Terrorists win, but you’ll have some great rock ‘n’ roll. —Nick Collins

LISA STROUSS

WOUNDED LION IVXLCDM In The Red

Big boots to fill for Wounded Lion on this second LP but don’t worry—although one Wounded superfan told me he was surprised how much this sounds like a real band, I’ll assure you they will always be a very unreal band. Big news is the Intelligence’s Lars Finberg on drums, and how’s that work? They have a Strategic Air Command B-52 bomber taking off in their video for the very Dicks-ish No Trend-y song “Raincheck Vibrations,” another of the is-the-TV-watching-meback? Lion songs, and that is what new drummer Lars Finberg delivers: reliable projection of power. (He also really brings out the Wipers vibe on “Going Into the Unknown.”) Anyway: If you shop Lion why I shop Lion, you come for the values. That means you will be delighted at the “Sacajawea” to “Oh Jim” stretch, where the riffs explode out of the muck and the lyrics catch fire. Lion says it all with less syllables than the Ramones had chords, like “I Am Sad,” which is the best we-are-aband song since CCR’s “Travellin’ Band.” It’s not even “less is more”—it’s more like “all is nothing,” and the simpler-cruder these guys get, the more they grab you. “Relaxation Is My Specialty” is a bent masterpiece repurposing punko dogma from Black Flag, Johnny Rotten and what I assume is Sonny and Cher: “They say our hair’s too long, but they’re wrong! Our hair is just the right length for getting things done!” “Black Ops” just pounds right through you (“Black ops! White ops! I’m working for the ops!”) and “Oh Jim” is a saddo a la last LP’s “Crunchy Stars”—it’s like “Where Were You” trying to be “Pale Blue Eyes” except also by aliens trying one last time to warn Earth people of looming future catastrophe. A record for people who love records but wonder about everything else. —Chris Ziegler

ALBUM REVIEW SUBMISSIONS

L.A. RECORD invites all local musicians to send music for review­—anything from unreleased MP3s and demos to finished full albums. (We love vinyl!) Send digital to danc@larecord.com and physical to:

P.O. Box 21729 Long Beach, CA 90801 If you are in a band and would like to advertise your release in L.A. RECORD, email advertise@larecord.com

ALBUM REVIEWS

Van Dyke Parks Arrangements Volume 1 (Bananastan)

Pitchfork speared it admirably in referring to Van Dyke Parks as “the quintessential linernotes hero.” The presence of this legendary composer can be felt on records by the Beach Boys, the Byrds, and about half the acts that defined that marketably palpable thing known as the “Southern California sound.” This comp examines Parks’ early studio odyssey at Warners and Reprise, displaying coups at arrangement like a wall of jukebox heroism. The eventual emergence of Smile as a Whitman-esque masterpiece of sunny surrealism threw some of Brian Wilson’s radiance his way and such Vitamin D whimsy informs the mono mix of “Donovan’s Colours,” as well as his own “Come to the Sunshine” and “The Eagle and Me.” His arrangements included here for Sal Valentino, Arlo Guthrie and Bonnie Raitt provide a nuanced frame for each individual talent, with Raitt’s ballsiness, Valentino’s quick-change act and Guthrie’s essential goofiness each elegantly framed. The Mojo Men’s “Sit Down I Think I Love You” is a well-remembered psychedelic nugget and Parks makes Ry Cooder’s take on the Depression-era, “One Meat Ball” into a Busby Berkeley extravaganza. The finale is Parks’ brief synth daub, “Ice Capades (Moog music ‘67),” a charming little pendant for early electronic music buffs.

Jane & Jeff Hudson Flesh (Captured Tracks/Dark Entries)

The Hudsons were angular, geeky scene kids who played in a few punk bands like the Rentals on the louder fringes of Boston’s late 70s punk movement. They weathered the strum und drang of the scene’s collapse by producing one of the first DIY electronic albums of the post-punk era. There had been freelance eccentrics like Bruce Haack playing at electronic music for years before, but the Hudsons were obviously going for a recognizable—if bent— brand of dance pop instead of chamber music for mutants. Here is No Wave’s dark end of the street; a spaciously minimalist slab of 1983 night, recognizable to any who’d moved in its fabled blackness from “3 x 3,” the opener of an album monstrously expanded from the original ten tracks by addition of the 1981 “No Clubs” single and World Trade 12”. Fashioned at home out of 4-inch tape, washes of Moog, early drum machines, various guitar sounds, and no sense of commercial boundaries, this music had the suave pugnacity and cheerful resignation that were very much the going things back in the early Reagan 80s and still quite attractive in this more timid era. The pair had all the matter and as much original manner as Pet Shop Boys or Oingo Boingo before the dance floor was decisively ceded to DJs in the 90s. As usual, the Hudsons’ visionary aesthetic was all far too advanced for most of those who heard it, though they wound up opening for Siouxsie and the Banshees, Duran Duran and James Chance & the Contortions. For rockists, one of the great boons of discoveries like these is the accompanying deflationary kick in the ass they give dancepoids who think DJs invented this shit.

Nirvana Nevermind (Universal Music Group)

This one-CD “standard remaster” of the grunge godz’ breakthrough testament contains no surprises, which is in itself no surprise. The outtakes and other goodies are saved for the two and four disc versions, but this is one album where the punter feels like drawing the line at any glut of new material. If ever there was an album that didn’t need the impedimenta of extra tracks and another few thousand semi-scholarly words, it’s this one. It’s not that all rock sounded boring and stupid in 1991, but Nevermind was the first album that wasn’t to catch the mass-public fancy since at least Synchronicity, and the unstylish, ill-shaven Seattle boys had the decisive advantage of having no welcome to wear out, as the Police had. This album today sounds like it was made by people who’d heard thousands of them and decided to follow the plan of none. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” didn’t wind up being the “Hey Jude” of its generation and neither did “Lithium,” but “Come As You Are” is as durable a generational anthem as “If 6 Was 9”—a suitably mordant invite to another doomed youth cadre to do exactly what it was going to anyway.

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walt! gorecki

THE DUM DUM GIRLS Only In Dreams Subpop

The Dum Dum Girls’ Only in Dreams, their second full-length album, manages to marry a throwback to 1960s girl-group harmonies with a sound that imagines the Ramones at the beach. A collection of small departures from their 2010 release, I Will Be, allows the Dum Dum Girls to play with a more complete sound, one that relies less on distortion and focuses more on a range of other feisty talents. Of those talents, the most apparent is in lead singer Kristin Gundred, more commonly known as Dee Dee. Her smoky vocals show surprising depth and richness, able to label a guy as worthless with a snarky bite in “Just a Creep,” the song I’ve been playing ad nauseam, or lament the tragic and recent loss of her mother in the ballad “Coming Down,” where about halfway through the song she lets out a note that permits a comparison to none other than Grace Slick. While Dee Dee’s voice offers an edge, many of the songs retain an attitude reminiscent of pages from an adolescent girl’s journal, although perhaps those of a teenager edging closer to her twenties. The step toward more lyrical maturity only seems awkward when compared to the simplicity in the song structures. I can’t recall many instances when the drumbeats varied or the song structures

changed, but I imagine subsequent Dum Dum Girls albums will continue to show an evolved, more cohesive sound, step-by-step, as they’ve already begun to do. —Mara Beckman

THE LOVE ME NOTS

SILAS HITE

The Demon and the Devotee Atomic A Go Go

It’s fantastic to think that somewhere out by Phoenix, the sounds of a haunting organ laid over heavy guitar riffs are spilling out of a garage across the torrid heat of the Arizona desert into the vast night. In reality, this likely isn’t true, as the people behind this neo-60s, Dead Kennedysinspired music, the Love Me Nots, now play to much larger audiences than a few cacti and rock-dwelling reptiles. Band members Nicole Laurenne, Michael Johnny Walker, Sophie O and Jay Lien this year offer up their fourth release, The Demon and the Devotee. At its core, the al-

bum’s pointy-toed shoes toe the garage rock line, like on the track “The End of the Line,” which starts with Walker laying down some particularly stellar guitar work over a rhythmic intro, and the aptly named party tune “Let’s Get Wrecked.” On other tracks, however, the quartet creates a sound distinctly their own—and it’s all about Laurenne playing those amazing tones on the Farfisa organ. The opening of “Make Up Your Mind” is reminiscent of a horror movie soundtrack stuck on fast-forward, but escapes the trap of cheesiness to instead reveal one of the album’s most memorable songs. Again, on “Demons,” it is Laurenne’s organ that brings unexpected depth. The Love Me Nots have successfully put together an outstanding album that explores the exciting diversity within the garage rock genre, even if they don’t play there anymore. —Tim McLaughlin

WALT! GORECKI

SUN ARAW Ancient Romans Drag City

CHAMPOYHATE

WELCOME HOME WALKER

Duds! Taken By Surprise 72

If Ty Segall and Tim Presley’s White Fence are our era’s New York Dolls and Velvets, then Portland’s Welcome Home Walker could easily be our Brownsville

Station: comparatively clean but subversively hip Americana about girls, parties and, um … taking baths (see how clean this is?)—too raw to be the Georgia

Cameron Stallones, the Los Angeles-based beatmaker/sound wizard behind Sun Araw, isn’t afraid to get heavy. 2010’s On Patrol was a dizzyingly complex, room-filling psych-dub wonderland; with Ancient Romans, Stallones’ fifth full-length under the Sun Araw moniker, the textures to the music have evolved (simplified, even) but that bodynumbing heaviness remains as Stallones searches for new lenses through which to project his quasi-religious musical musings. Decidedly freeform in nature— most of Ancient Romans’ tracks clock in around ten minutes— there’s still a tangible sense of structure and deliberate arrangement in Stallones’ work. The freaky, blissed-out Joe Meek muzak of “Crown Shell” (one of the album’s more captivating tracks) builds upon layers of leads and loops before exploding into a calculated cacophony of sludgy psych-funk. As with previous Sun Araw releases, vocals on Ancient Romans rarely take precedence over Stallones’ arsenal of grounded rhythms, flittering guitars and droning synth lines. Instead, the chant-like vocals function as another instrument, perhaps something more human amidst the album’s otherworldly collection of alien tones and melodies. Occasionally, Ancient Romans dips into heady territory, with certain songs like sonic quicksand; you find yourself sinking so deep into the album, an hour passes and you find yourself struggling to remember where all that time went. It’s not a completely horrible thing for music of this nature to suffer from, yet the album’s more introspective qualities would certainly make for difficult L.A. driving music. Save this one for an evening on the couch. —Kat Bee

Satellites but too aw-shucks to be garage. Singer and guitarist Devin Clark’s voice (which stayed too far in the background during his stint in the far more Dolls-like Soda Pop Kids), had the kind of hoarse, adrenalinefueled Mark Arm delivery that announces itself as a party from the get-go, and that—combined with his raw guitar riffs—might obscure the fact that some of these lyrics are damned clever. Besides the aforementioned bath opus “Suds!” (which is exactly what it sounds like—perhaps the best rock song about bathing

STEVEN FICHE

TY SEGALL Goodbye Bread Drag City

Forget for a moment, say, Love, or Jonathan Richman, or the Cramps, the Pandoras, the Mummies, the White Stripes ... garage rock’s best evolution might be happening NOW. Our current garage era is like bop was to jazz, first with the Black Lips and Strange Boys, but now even better, with Tim Presley playing the Coltrane role and Ty Segall settling in as, I dunno, Thelonious Monk? Segall’s still a work in progress, but on his first for Drag City, the kid has finally found his self-confidence! Some of that is in the lyrics, like in the cohabitation blues of “Comfortable Home (A True Story),” based on getting a pricey couch because the girlfriend wants it. But really, he’s just getting better: more blistering guitar, a wider range on the vocals, and recording techniques that feel like solutions rather than questions. Don’t worry, it’s still more Like Flies on Sherbert than Big Star. Ty jumps into roles as diverse as “Dazed and Confused”-style Zep on “Where Your Head Goes,” falsetto wistfulness on the title track, “Goodbye Bread,” and even a garage/Bolan-y “Hey Jude” on “I Can’t Feel It.” And it’s still goofy at times (the last words of the album are “reading rainbow”) but that just adds to the joy in hearing something that sounds so effortless but which I suspect may become timeless—or at least a great link in a wonderful chain. —Dan Collins since “Splish Splash”), I can’t get enough of “It’s Not Enough,” a Costello-ey almost-ballad about women who “pull away like you never needed anything/but Choo Choo, you know you got all of your steam from me.” And perhaps my favorite is “Listen Up, Mac,” secret advice to a girl whose chemical consumption is making her too skeletal to be sexy: “Uh uh, String Bean, just keep your nose clean.” Diction isn’t exactly Clark’s goal with the vocals—luckily the awesome vinyl package comes with lyrics and hand-detailed chunks ALBUM REVIEWS


of other albums pasted on! Who knows, your copy might have Michael Jackson and the Ninja Turtles. —Dan Collins

STEVEN FICHE

SOME DAYS Some Days 7” EP Orange Records WALT! GORECKI

BLEACHED Carter 7” Art Fag Her appearance in Cold Cave was fun, but it’s bad-ass to have Jennifer Clavin back with her sister Jessie in a band that plays punk rock. While it’s hard not to miss Mika Miko, there’s just no percentage in dwelling on lost legends, so shut up and listen: what Bleached brings you, especially on this 7”, is amazing old-old-old school punk, something akin to what you probably played in a band at some point. The proper noun “Ramones” has been bandied about, which is easy journalism. Yet considering that I’m a man who spends all day flavoring up bands like wine on whether they’re more like the Meat Puppets or Peaches, I’m hard pressed to assign a specific bouquet here: Bleached have the “oohs” of the Ramones, sure, but a little more melody, something that sounds British via early Redd Kross, but less snarky, with more heart and soul and with a different kind of 60s appreciation than Joey and Johnny had. It’s classic, yet original, and this is my favorite of their new singles because it really sounds like they’ve found the pocket. The A-side, “Think of You,” is a simple ode to the love you don’t want to confess yet, brash and with bouncy bass, and it ends in beautiful surf guitar. The B-side, “You Take Time,” gets more Girls in the Garage and slow, but the chorus, “You take time to go nowhere,” is like your life’s story! This is good music for enjoying the present. —Dan Collins

ALBUM REVIEWS

Wrecked rock ‘n’ roll a la Sonny Vincent or Alex Chilton when he was into flies and sherbert from Tony Matarazzo, associate and member of Grand Elegance, FM Bats, Jail Weddings a while back, and more. This has that total New York City darkside vibe, where fuckedup-but-lovin’-it dudes would swap in and out of each other’s bands and end up half-laughing in the studio, cutting stuff like “Summertime Blues” (Chilton’s hiccup-y version, then) and “Happy When You Weep” (Some Days’ bleaked-out original, here.) I’m reminded of that part in the Lester Bangs essay where Richard Hell says a real emotion dies every time you laugh, and they finish the interview with a lot of desperate ha-ha-ha-ha. (Also spiritually applicable: Flipper’s “Ha Ha Ha.”) “Happy” is pretty fuckin’ brutal; that’s actually kind of a Some Days specialty here, just spillin’ out tales of hell and woe over some simple Thundersstyle rock ‘n’ riffs played casual and cheerful. Unexpected and great (and faithful!) dub cover of Vivien Goldman’s “Launderette” and then way-bummedout Jeffrey Lee/Nick Cave kinda feel on closer, “Some Days’ Nightmares,” which of course are “coming true.” Live, they got some fun few-chord smashers like “Wig Slap,” but this EP starts at “whoa” and slithers into “Good Lord, I am fucked.” (“Headspinner Blues”) Powerful vibe matched perfectly by the musicians, who sound like they all had a cigarette dangling from the mouth during each and every song, but not something for sweet little kids or the people these songs are about, who for all I know are already dead. —Chris Ziegler

JOSH CRAMPTON

JOHNNY O’DONNELL & SACRAMENTO Korean Debutante/ Masquerade EP White Noise

Johnny O’Donnell is batshit insane. In a world where a couple programmed drum machines or a few choice distorted chords are all you need to get you written up in magazines like this, O’Donnell has instead put together a collection of stops and starts and chord changes and instrumental jumps, paired them with story-rich lyrics, and basically reinvented the wheel—or perhaps the Antikythera Mechanism—by making music completely anathema to the current age, and having a whole lot more in common with dead tangents initially conceived by T-Bone Burnett, Steve Harley’s Cockney Rebel, Sparks, and Johnny’s mentor and early demo coordinator, Van Dyke Parks: I’m talking pedal steel, Flamenco breaks, tasteful sax, synthy strings, and lilting male vocals. It’s a LOT to take in, especially on this double EP packaged onto one LP, but if you invest the time, it’s worth it. After a couple spins, you’ll fall into the world O’Donnell has created, a richer one here than in his live set or even his old band, Holy Ghost Revival (well, maybe). “Korean Debutante” has a lonely Asian bustle that takes the alienation of “One Night in Bangkok” and makes it human. But “Masquerade” is the more charming, more Californian side, with tales of peyote-munching hikers and clairvoyants and hunting dangers and a Ziggy-esque “Gothic Singer.” Fuck man, they even cover a Danny Kaye song! This is class and sass, though I wonder what an augur would predict from the intestines in this body of work? —Dan Collins

It wasn’t that long ago that I was using this column to whine about the closing of L.A.’s “irreplaceable” underground venues. Echo Curio was forcibly closed last fall, and it was but one of the established enclaves that was shuttered around then. It’s amazing, though, to see how quickly things have rebounded. Sancho Gallery (less than a block away from the old Echo Curio) is enabling visual artists while hosting conceptual series like August’s L.A.’s Got Talent and the Agony and Ecstasy series in July. Catnap, a spot under the Spring Street bridge Downtown, has a cozy, friendly vibe that recalls Ports o’ Call Bedroom or the Women House. And Sean Carnage’s Monday nights are as strong as ever, as Pehrspace fortunately dodged a bullet and avoided the fate that befell so many of its peers last year. The state of affairs in autumn of 2011 is good. Home Room, a totally new spot created out of a defunct karaoke bar at 3121 Beverly Boulevard, is the newest blossom on the bush. Co-founder (and L.A. RECORD contributor) Walt! Gorecki felt “prodded” to start a new space after the closure of L’Keg, for which he served as art curator. According to his partner in the venture, Shaddy Zeineddine, the demise of L’keg was instructional: “If I’m going to invest so much into a space and possibly become an important element of the community, then I don’t want to be closed down because we lack the permits to have such a space.” Unlike their predecessors, Home Room’s founders went through all of the necessary paperwork to have the spot sanctioned with an official cafe entertainment license. To announce its intended permanence, Walt and Shaddy commissioned a giant mural from champoyhate and also hung a glowing sign featuring an apatosaurus in a Letterman sweater that will serve as Home Room’s official mascot. On opening night, September 23, the line around the block was enough to prove that the new venture is already becoming successful. As if to make everything official, Karen Centerfold even burst into the back room to demand an extra band be added to the bill. Home Room isn’t just Karen’s new playground. If all goes well, it will also be a space for community members to come and work on projects. After more than a year of road construction, the stretch of Beverly Boulevard where Home Room sits is full of “For Lease” signs. Before Walt and Shaddy moved into the space, neighborhood kids would break in to have juice fights. Now, Home Room is hosting less dangerous activities like the pre-Halloween spooky drawing, pumpkin carving, and crafts night. On October 16, the venue also held its first Sketched Out Sunday, hosted by Ghost Ghost Teeth. For these monthly events, Home Room will invite the public to join local artists as they create hand-drawn artwork. Every DIY space is a unique little snowflake and an angel dies in heaven every time that one of them closes, but it’s not the end of the world when that happens. If anything, Home Room is an example of how curators can learn from the past and create spaces that are better positioned for longevity. 73


DAVE VAN PATTEN

CORRIDOR Real Late Manimal

When I received the new CD by multi-instrumentalist Michael Quinn, AKA Corridor, I knew that I’d have to listen to it at least ten times before giving my true opinion. His music tends to improve with each listen. Corridor’s music is dense, in a good way, full of virtuosic instrumentation that is played deliberately dark. This is not lightweight pop. He’s the only cellist in rock ‘n’ roll whose performances are worthy of playing air cello to—truly an artist

whose music stands alone as its own genre. On his new CD, Real Late, rhythms are daringly maintained long past traditional comfort zones, often abruptly changing tone and direction on a dime. This music challenges the listener and dares them to be worthy of the rewards at the end of the voyage, like trusting a sailor to escort you through icebergs as he smokes his pipe and follows the stars. Quinn’s vocals are ultra-cool, and fade into the mix. I don’t pick up many of the lyrics, but with music this good supporting them, they must be about something awesome. Standout tracks include the cello-driven epic, “Rebuilding My Internal World” and the exotic, intricate, guitar-heavy “Roam Room.” Really, epic could apply to all of these songs. Each track is a soundtrack unto itself, and each clocks in between four and a half to eight minutes long. This is a CD that I will be listening to for years, and by the time December rolls along, this could be my favorite release of 2011. —Scott Schultz

While it’s a bummer to talk about the end of another awesome summer, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to look forward to this season! Something I’ve wanted to talk about is one of my favorite new shops in town: Permanent Records in Eagle Rock. This place not only has a slew of nicely priced Nugget comps, 7”s, and great shows with great bands, but it also doubles as a record label! The way I understand it, there is a sister shop in Chicago with the same name; however, the two shops put out records together under the two names—Trouble In Mind and Permanent Records. Sure this isn’t new, 74

SILAS HITE

DERDE VERDE Moon/Mirror self-released

Derde Verde’s second release, Moon/ Mirror, shows significant creative growth since 2009’s introductory Sleepy EP. Building on Sleepy’s solid indie-pop, the self-produced Moon/ Mirror (with mixing by Laurence Schwarz and mastering by Tom Brissette) tosses a number of new sonic tricks into the bag. Derde Verde now blends its experimental elements into reliably respectable subgenres (shoegaze, Can’s particular brand of krautrock) while still retaining enough of a pop foundation to be instantly engrossing, buoyed by excellent arrangements and impressive vocal harmonies. The album sounds expansive and lush and confident, and rewards a run or two through the headphones. Nearly every element sounds carefully crafted to sound precisely as the band intended. Standout track “Mirror,” over the course of its nine-and-a-half minutes, encapsulates the band’s great strengths and influences. Beginning very much

like it could have been a song from Caribou’s Andorra or early AIR, with tidal washes of unidentifiable sound underneath Jon Schwarz’s bass, Matthias Wagner’s drums and Dylan McKenzie’s vocals, the song hazily washes over you until about four minutes in, when McKenzie sings “How long, how long till I am born,” and the music erupts into a Yo La Tengo-esque wave of distorted fuzzy warmth. Listening to “Mirror” is like swimming in soft flannel. Moon/Mirror proves that Derde Verde may be the closest thing Los Angeles has to its own Radiohead right now. The album is a tremendous achievement and a standout in this year’s crop of indie rock. —Tom Child

STEVEN FICHE

DEVON WILLIAMS Euphoria Slumberland

When confronted with walls of giddily jingling bells and charmingly bright orchestral flourishes, I can’t help but melt. Euphoria, therefore,

but they’ve recently put out some great records that I’ve hunted down and thoroughly boogied down to and I shouldn’t be the only one! OC band the Cosmonauts recently had their Burger Records cassette reissued on vinyl through Permanent before touring the country. Furthermore, Trouble In Mind recently put out the new Night Beats and Mikal Cronin LPs. For the Night Beats, two of the dudes are originally from Texas, but it wasn’t until they relocated to Seattle, WA and picked up local Tarek Wegner on bass that they filled out their primal, freakout rawk as a trio. The vocals are sharp and cutting, the dirty guitars clean house, the bass thumps low end, and the beats are bombastic. These road warriors toured the country with the Black Lips, then with Wooden Shjips, then went to Europe with the Black Angels, all within the summer months! Their debut LP is a total barrage on the senses, a haze over the psyche, and feels like a Big Muff pedal turned up to 11. Another record that’s soooooo good is the Mikal Cronin LP. For those unfamiliar with the dude, he grew up in Laguna Beach playing with the Moonhearts before releasing some limited-press solo EPs, collaborations with Ty Segall, and some other good oddities. Mikal recently co-celebrated the release

is an excellent description of how I feel when I spin “Revelations,” the opening song on Devon Williams’ aptly titled new album. Shining, lush instrumentation has always been the most formidable tool in Williams’ toolbox, and Euphoria brings to the forefront his passion for the ornate. The songwriter voices frustrations on “Your Sympathy,” touches on nostalgia in “All My Living Goes to You,” and articulates regret on “Slight Pain.” Yet the shimmering, intricately composed music behind those sentiments imbue each song with a light charm. Even “Tired of Mulling,” which sounds for a while like it might drift to melancholy, gives way to expansive and romantic strings in its final minute. In front of these backdrops, Williams’ watery guitar arpeggios and increasingly confident tenor give voice to complex and developing melodies that classify as “growers,” simply because they’re too interesting to be appreciated completely upon first listen. The cumulative effect of all of this is a delightfully pleasant album. If it’s missing anything, it’s a clear and simple hit. Carefree had “Elevator,” but nothing on Euphoria is quite as accessible or direct. Thus, this new record probably won’t lift Williams to the forefront of today’s blogdriven indie machine, which is a shame because he’s more deserving than many of the people who are there. For those of us who are already fans, however, this is a nice addition to his canon. —Geoff Geis

of his new LP at the Smell with Pangea (whose debut LP also just came out but on The Smell’s OlFactory Records and Burger) and toured to Gonerfest and beyond with Ty. I once interviewed Mikal after Moonhearts played Spaceland with Nobunny and Cumstain and asked him what his top three desert island records were, to which he replied: anything from the Nerves, the Ramones self-titled, and after some thought, Static Age from the Misfits. If those namedrops are any indication of stuff you like, do yourself a favor and check out these new records from these killers. Lastly, I wanted to mention these really cool workshops that the Echo is putting on over the next few months. Calling itself Back To School, these daytime discussions are hosted by talent buyer for the Echo Liz Garo and an executive director of publishing at BMI. While the first few panels may already have occurred by the time this issue comes out, November 19th features a talk on effectively utilizing blogs, digital distribution, media and promotion. These events are free with RSVP, $5 otherwise, with free Two Boots pizza for early birds. These panels are invaluable for the musician eager to take a step forward; I highly recommend attending. That’s it for the column this time around … summer blues turn into winter grays and us passing the time with love and music throughout our days. ALBUM REVIEWS


APPARAT

SILAS HITE

The Devil’s Walk Mute Introspective electronica records have become a rare commodity. These days, most music listeners seem to prefer their beats served fried, flanged and stadium-sized, opting to embrace the more abrasive and dance-centric forms of electronic music while neglecting its ethereal iterations. Apparat’s The Devil’s Walk is a decidedly meditative affair that exists in a vacuum apart from today’s fist-pumping, neon-aviator-glasses-clad electronic music culture. This is music better suited for headphones than subwoofers. This is music that is more likely to make you want to cry than make you want to dance. Sonically, The Devil’s Walk hearkens back to the IDM records from the early 00s. Syncopated, staccato hi-hat clicks, muted male vocals and lush, warm synths accentuated by the occasional string sample constitute the bulk of the album’s musical palette. “Candil De La Calle,” with its synth swells and bouncy drum programming, demonstrates Apparat’s knack for crafting songs that are simultaneously cinematic and personal. The almost Reich-esque “A Bang in the Void” uses a xylophone arpeggio to hypnotic effect. “Ash/Black Veil” finds its rhythmic foundation in a looped strummed acoustic guitar figure and sounds like the missing single from Thom Yorke’s solo album. The Devil’s Walk is a refreshingly low-key offering of quiet yet rousing electronica. —Amorn Bholsangngam

The Tractatus begins, and my first thoughts are, “Why is my sixth grade science teacher talking during this guy’s album?” followed by “Wait. Real drums and a drum machine?” Kone, an L.A.-based producer who recently signed on with Alpha Pup, describes his music as “psychedelic gangster funk.” Sample heavy, with each song an ever-layering progression based around snippets of running male commentary about scientific philosophy (possibly by or about Ludwig Wittgenstein), The Tractatus is like a shopping cart of sounds, and each track throws a new aisle’s worth of magic into the basket. Like Kone’s love for layering within each song, the album itself grows as it progresses: we leave the ethereal opening tracks for a heavier taste of the gangster around track five, “Chunky Dust,” and by the time we reach songs like “The Rage” and “Destiny Manifest,” we’re hearing funkier world music sounds. Get your skip finger ready for “Filth to Fury,” which is like an airplane landing behind your eyes and exploding, and not in the good airplane-exploding way. But the final track on the album, “Life Has No End,” is a perfect way to touch down, taking us out in a sweet moment of joy, the kind you get from celebrating something that feels complex yet effortless. By the final note I was feeling pretty happy about the world around me. ­—Nikol Hasler

know anyone. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of Herren’s heavily sampled glitch-hop style, and love it when executed in his usual expert manner. But the new album is expansive and disjointed, a dizzying haze of clips, clacks and vocal cutups lacking any real structure or cohesion. There are some standouts: “The Only Valentine’s Day Failure” boasts a dynamic range of sound samples and a hypnotic beat that makes you want to immediately push the repeat button. “The Only Hand to Hold” featuring Shara Worden and “The Only Guitar to Die Alone” with Adron hold firm as cohesive units, and Faidherbe’s vocal lead on “The Only Lillies and Lilacs Pt. 2” is one of the most beautiful I’ve heard all year. But unfortunately, the bulk of the tracks are simply bland. “The Only Trial of 9000 Suns” buries the hauntingly beautiful vocals of Broadcast lead singer Trish Keenan, recorded before her sudden and tragic death last January, under a frustratingly unintelligible drone. This technique works a little better with Nico Turner’s track, “The Only Way to Find,” which leaves Turner’s haze of vocals as the star, not obscuring them with disordered clumps of instruments. Still, if you’re hoping for more beat-driven, danceable, hip-hop-heavy samplings from Prefuse 73, this isn’t it. —Linda Rapka

Their proto-digital sound sheens, crafted from giant stacks of synths, oscillators, rhythm machines and guitars, spawned both ambient and trance: it’s safe to say that without Cluster, chill rooms around the world would suck. But in 2010, HansJoachim Roedelius announced an end to his on-again, off-again partnership with fellow Cluster founder, Dieter Moebius, and at the young age of 76, Roedelius embarked on two partnerships with “veterans” half his age. Qluster, co-helmed by analog electronic sound explorer Onnen Bock, is the more electronic sounding of the two. Fragen, the first of a proposed Qluster trilogy of albums, mocks the idea of ambient music being serene—on most songs, the low-growling Korg dirges punctuated with far-off dripping plinks and string banks will chill you like the first time you played Doom and thought you heard zombies behind you. It’s hard to top intentionally overblown honks that sound like a crackly robotic duck, but in his second project with 90s krautrocker Stefan Schneider, Roedelius has an analog ace up his sleeve, pulling out a real piano and letting Schneider gently poke around it with synths and guitars. While a few of these songs’ guitar noodles belie Roedelius’ perverse love of soft jazz, when they stick to electronics, they shine—the repetitive, hypnotic bloops and bleeps of “Zug” could be this album section’s theme music! This gentle German makes me wonder why modern electronic artists can’t free themselves from beats and come back to composing and experimenting. —Dan Collins

JOE McGARRY

BROCK POTUCEK

QLUSTER LISA STROUSS

PREFUSE 73

The Only She Chapters Warp

KONE

TheTractatus Alpha Pup ALBUM REVIEWS

JOE McGARRY

The latest effort from Guillermo Scott Herren under his Prefuse 73 brand, experimental conceptual album The Only She Chapters, is like going to a party where you don’t

Fragen Bureau B

RODELIUS SCHNEIDER Stunden Bureau B

Cluster was easily the second most influential musical group to come out of Germany in the post-rock era.

ZOLA JESUS Conatus Sacred Bones

If Zola’s voice were any more prominent in these songs’ mixes, she’d be wiping wax from your ears and escaping through your third eye. Often mixed a capella over light fuzz, like on the chilling ballad “Avalanche,” Zola makes space sound louder than reverb. She still mashes electro, goth and industrial better than any other current artist. And no matter what genre influences

any particular sound, they uniquely stand out as Zola songs: the death disco song “Seekir” has backward masking vocals buried in the mix that sound like Druid zombies, yet the layered backing vocals of “Lick the Palm of the Burning Handshake” sounds like a choir of angels singing in a glacial cave. The electro rhythms of “Avalanche” and “Vessel” could be the coolest one-two punch on mainstream alternative radio for the next year or in any of the last four decades. Factor in Zola’s intuitive reverb and distortions and industrial beats at just the right moment, and you have the perfect head trip. Sure, Conatus is cold and isolating, but when I’m feeling that way, I can’t think of a better artist to empathize with my mood. I don’t know many vocalists who could pull off the powerful performances that she gives here and not overwhelm the song. It’s a testament to her ability as a song arranger and performer, and her immense artistic confidence. Holy Zola! This Jew is for Jesus! —Scott Schultz

BROCK POTUCEK

MOBY Destroyed Mute

On his latest release, Moby revisits the techno-blues, and despite my preference for his more upbeat music, I find Destroyed easy to listen to. Much of it falls in line with the melancholic “Honey” from Play. It’s the same, yet different. This keyboardheavy album is laced with strings and soul and almost hinges a tiny bit on dream pop. “Be the One” repeats lyrics about love and actually gets into a rhythmic groove, however it merely tapers off and the dancing is left up to the mind. The next track goes back into the chill-zone. I am so relaxed … But does it do enough to keep a fan coming back? Just as I start to feel a little judgmental, I read that Moby actually wrote the entire album while traveling and not sleeping. Eureka! That explains why this release feels more like the “Sunrise” soundtrack to the day after dancing all night. I can’t help but wonder what the remixes will sound like, as well as the photo book released to go with the record. —Rita Kassak 75


TUNE SALAD BANNER WALT! GORECKI

ARRICA ROSE AND THE ...’S Let Alone Sea Poprock

It’s rare to come across a recording that has synced the three pillars of memorable modern popular music—song, style and persona. Arrica Rose and the ...’s’ new record, Let Alone Sea, is as close as I’ve heard in ages. It’s winning as a piece of song-craft. Melodies that soar and poetry that conveys real emotion. Songs you can sing and share, knowing the hooks will do their work. But this isn’t a mere singer-songwriter exercise: it’s the recordings that are the magic here. Rose and her producer, Dan Garcia, have built airy soundscapes with an eclectic blend of instrumentation that falls on the ear as an evolution in folk music. “When The Clouds Hang This Low” is a fine example. Violins and cello drift in and out of the fog. Arrica’s voice is a whisper. Harmonies ring in the background. It’s like being in an impressionist painting. Stirring stuff. Arrica brings power to the work as well with snippets of Patti Smith, Fiest, Catpower and Karen Carpenter. It is indie rock by strict definition, but she’s sanded off the edges and set the whole show in a 1970s Topanga Canyon dream. The music has a perspective, and while she nods to different styles (Americana, pop and indie rock) she’s always coming from her own place. Let Alone Sea isn’t flawless certainly, but the misses are minor. —Grant Langston

It’s hard to find any actual information about Benbenek, even though he has a blog. I mean, I know that he likes marshmallows and Seinfeld, but who is this guy? Black and White Television, which comes accompanied by a strange array of personal arts & crafts projects and pages from old books, isn’t the standard kind of CD. First of all, it has 32 tracks. Don’t most CDs have, like, ten on a CD? All of the vocals have a really muffled sound, and he’s accompanied by drums, acoustic guitar, tambourine in every single song, and keyboards. The lyrics, which are hard to understand in some tracks because they’re really distorted, are a random mixture that is both real and surreal: on “Paintings and Drawings,” he sings “Took a pencil from a drawer/ had it been a whole lot more than anything bigger or impressive/ took a page from a book/ it was blank because I looked and I scribbled words inside the margins.” Whaaaaaaat? But the keyboard and the music pull you along: the song feels like it’s a part of your day. I can’t really pinpoint a genre that Benbenek would fit. iTunes says it’s pop, but it’s not like any pop I’ve ever heard. The closest I can think of to describe what it sounds like is Ween, but even that’s only a little bit. It’s also a little bit like Frank Zappa, because it’s really out there, and you have to be a sort of out there person to get into it. —Trast Knapmiller

ericano salsa craze was still going like it had a diesel tailpipe when I left the Old Dominion and natives there rarely discard anything that can be refurbished, or even left in front of the house to picturesquely rot, like an Eames table or a ’57 pickup. These guys are unorthodox, even downright funky from the startling title track that opens the album. “Dina’s Mambo” is dramatic and brassy like the psychedelic-era Temptations, and “La Muralla” charmingly, emphatically meanders in the manner of some of War’s mid70s sides. “Carnaval” careens into a punk-polka cakewalk before sliding off into bop jazz runs and frantic percussion. “Verguenza” and “Majadero” are more traditional party music, putting one in mind of mid-century field recordings of street parties in Haiti, the kind that spell “instant party” to anyone with unstopped ears and uncreaked joints. The sunny “Caravana Del Vejigante” and the slowhand romantic “Lola’s Dilemma” are near-perfect mood pieces in themselves. The bonus track, “Dina’s Mambo,” is a prime slab of moody dance pop the likes of VHS or Beta seem unable to manufacture anymore and the whole album heralds yet another syncretic mutation in accordance with the laws of James Brownian motion. —Ron Garmon

BON IVER BIO RITMO CHAMPOYHATE

BENBENEK

Black and White Television Houseplant Studios 76

La Verdad Electric Cowbell

Though such news may confound the outside world, the fact of an “alternative salsa” band in Richmond isn’t completely unexpected to a Virginia expat. The first Norteam-

Bon Iver Jagjaguwar

Indie-crooner Justin Vernon, better known to the masses as Bon Iver, is back after a four year absence. His latest self-titled album picks up where For Emma, Forever Ago left off. Though he’s gone a long way from being the self-wallowing troubadour he once was, Vernon’s

the moody, chiming “Downtown high-rise loft” before impulsively doing a .38 Jackson Pollock on the wall with his brains. Some fat kid with a head full of the usual static stalks the ominous “High school library, gymnasium and cafeteria,” shooting teachers and classmates to bright red chunks. Finally, an old woman slits her wrists in the tub and gently dies in “Studio apartment bathroom,” the album leaking away with her blood. Track three, with its faux-Holst melodrama and crashing percussion, repays attention best and the David Axlerod-lite finale leaves enough borrowed icky sheen of ick to gag the judicious. In all, this series of grisly mediations is perhaps better rendered through prose. Killing made-up people with words is an art form at least as old as Catullus, while doing it with music alone is to invite audience response in the form of stale vegetables and broken chunks of pavement. —Ron Garmon

WALT! GORECKI

THE DONKEYS Born With Stripes Dead Oceans MARISSA PATERNOSTER

BRIAN M. CLARK

Songs from the empty places where people killed themselves Discriminate Audio

WALT! GORECKI

MARISSA PATERNOSTER

songs still sound similar to the earlier albums, and that isn’t a bad thing. This record is more electrified and complexly arranged than For Emma, but it retains the same hazy vibe: it’s the same Vernon, albeit not in a cabin. Bon Iver isn’t indie rock that scans as folk. The music here is more like dark/bright pop with an experimental edge that carefully combines arrangement and dynamics, and takes you to a place that feels so real, yet is imaginary at the same time. That’s probably why song titles about places such as the real “Calgary,” and mythical “Hinnom, TX” and “Michicant” are good examples of Bon Iver. These tunes are more about taking the listener to a feeling or a state of mind that takes them outside of themselves. Acclaimed musicians such as bass saxophonist Colin Stetson and pedal-steel guitarist Greg Leisz fill out the album and compliment Vernon’s brooding vocals, giving this record a more mature, natural vibe—the incredible grassroots success of For Emma has allowed for the singer to go places far removed from his bare-bones first record. Vernon’s growing confidence in his songwriting, composition and creativity help make this record a pleasure to listen to. —Daniel Kohn

This limited-edition LP (pressed on four one-sided discs and damn the petroleum), comes in a suitably bleak, this-room-for-rent sleeve, each bearing its own handwritten number. The four tracks therein are all tone poems; instrumentals designed to evoke moods leading up to and accompanying the setpiece butchery. Anyone expecting Mussorgsky will see frail, trembling hope brutally drowned and defenestrated early into track one. “Suburban bedroom” is a frail calliope built around a young girl gulping a bottle of pills for no colorable reason. A drunken businessman staggers fitfully around to

I’m pretty sure that the Donkeys love me, because they all sang so in “I Like The Way You Walk.” That’s right, all four of them love me with all of their hearts, and they sang it with the same intense sincerity that they put into each second of this surfer/indie 70s country-rock album. These guys are pure SoCal to the point that if you listen to their music with your eyes closed you can see tripped out palm trees and skateboards. If you’ve listened to their earlier albums, which were a great deal heavier in country sound, you’re in for a surprise at how much more rock ‘n’ roll they’re getting. Born With Stripes starts a bit weak, legs asleep, but by the third track, “Bloodhound,” you can tell that the pins and needles are being worked out, and by the time track four, “Born With Stripes,” opens with whammied-up guitar reverb, it’s time to flail your whole body and sing along. While “Valerie” is a huge downer for the first four minutes of its repetitive nearly ALBUM REVIEWS


seven-minute life, those last three minutes are psychedelic loveliness. The real gem of this album is “New Blue Stockings,” which reminds me immediately of the Zombies “She’s Not There,” but then becomes itself so easily that I can’t help but play it over and over. I may not love the Donkeys back with all my heart quite yet, but this new direction they’re taking has given me a serious case of the likes. —Nikol Hasler

DAVE VAN PATTEN

EXITMUSIC

From Silence Secretly Canadian

LISA STROUSS

ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER Last Summer Merge On an album celebrating summers past, Eleanor Friedberger makes us feel nostalgic for the end of this present summer. Released in July, Friedberger’s first album apart from her brother and Fiery Furnaces cohort, Matt Friedberger, is as good as anything her main band has done. Their 2005 B-sides collection was on constant play in my car that year—though I admit I haven’t been paying much attention to the Furnaces in recent years—and hearing Friedberger’s voice again brings back a personal nostalgia in its own right. Last Summer has a relaxed sound and laidback tempo that would make this a perfect slacker summer album if only I had heard it several months earlier. The first track, “My Mistakes,” weaves a bassy synth with choppy guitars and an electric chime and ends with a minute-long haunting saxophone solo. The next song, “Inn of the Seventh Ray,” continues the feel of summer slackerdom. In it, she sings of being promised a trip to Inn of the Seventh Ray, a ritzy Topanga Canyon restaurant, and “wiggling at Wombleton on York Boulevard,” the Highland Park record store that has every record I wish I had in my collection. On “Scenes from Bensonhurst,” she sings, “I lay in bed and dreamt I never said that,” a disturbing yet familiar refrain. The rest of the album kind of breezes by, and like summer, it is over before you know it. —Daniel Clodfelter ALBUM REVIEWS

From Silence is a lush-sounding collection by NYC via L.A. via NYC duo Exitmusic that strikes the perfect balance between beauty and sadness. The music is primarily the husband-wife duo of Devon on guitar and Aleksa on synthesizer and vocals. The synth sounds spacey and mellow, while the guitar is often jarring, yet the two sounds synch organically, and neither sound drowns out the other. Aleksa’s vocals are short and measured, with a touch of electric manipulation and they effortlessly blend into the songs. If I had to categorize it, I would describe it as melancholy ambient electronica. There are multiple references to the ocean on these four tracks, including the opening track titled “The Sea,” and the music has a lot in common with the ocean. The depth and space behind the music is similar to staring at islands and lighthouses toward the horizon, and the give and take of the sounds is very similar to the flows of the tide rolling into shore and just as suddenly retreating back into the big blue, taking everything in its path with it to Atlantis. The EP only has four songs, and not a dud among them: accessible and radio friendly, without sounding familiar or predictable. If only there were a few more songs! —Scott Schultz

STEVEN FICHE

FRANK ALPINE Frank Alpine Wierd

Rich T. Moreno, formerly of New Collapse, debuts his first solo record on NYC’s Wierd Records, also

home to Staccato Du Mal and Xeno & Oaklander. Recorded in Rich’s Los Angeles apartment on Casio and Yamaha keyboards and a Boss DR-110, this self-titled CD—with a cover art homage to the Residents’ The Third Reich ‘n Roll—joins the impassive, persistent synthiness of minimal bands like Absolute Body Control and Snowy Red with the artier, more complex weirdness of Cabaret Voltaire. It’s a distinctly moody record, not for sunny morning drives or Sunday barbecues, unless appropriately bleak—robotic and passionate; a fibrous strain of agitation contained by rhythmic order then gauzed in dark, economical lyrics. My favorites are “My Feelings,” “Night Sky,” and the killer opener, “No Exit,” which pull off the feat of being funereal and sort of peppily melodic at the same time—a la Vice Versa before they jumped ship and became ABC. Who knows if the next record won’t find Rich in a shiny gold lamé suit with fellow bandmate Quinn Brayton rockin’ it out behind him on sax? —Denise Tek

LISA STROUSS

THE ICARUS LINE WIldfire Cobraside

Where has the swagger gone in rock music? Once upon a time rock music had a wild, visceral spirit that made mothers want to lock up their daughters. Bands like the Stooges and the Cult made rock ‘n’ roll dangerous. It is this very attitude that can be found in the Icarus Line’s new album, Wildlife. Joe Cardamone and his bandmates have hearkened back to the days of yore and brought forth an album that delivers the goods. From the first gnarled guitar chords of “We Sick,” you know these boys mean business. The twin guitar attack of Jason DeCorse and James Striff on “Sin Man Sick Blues” embodies the very essence that rock music is supposed to be about. Cardamone’s vocal range further helps to diversify the feeling of the album without taking it too far from its core. The bombastic arena rock vocals of “Soul Slave” to the cool crooning of “Bad Bloods” exhibit Carda-

The sad thing about writing this column is that I have to sit back four times a year and remind myself that the jazz scene in Los Angeles is severely lacking in high-profile jazz bookings. Some venues try harder than others but few can actually offer a season’s worth of jazz programming and even fewer offer anything more than a rotating selection of artists that float by as frequently as leap years. As the LA Times’ Chris Barton eloquently goaded the LA Philharmonic last summer, regarding their staid jazz bookings, “There‘s terrific potential here to showcase the music as every bit the same vibrant, still-evolving organism as any other genre, to say nothing for the potential of drawing new fans.” Obviously, vibrant music is being created and performed in Los Angeles every day. The hard part is finding it. The ever-tasteful Kenny Burrell will be celebrating his 80th birthday at UCLA’s Royce Hall on November 12. Helping to celebrate will be Dee Dee Bridgewater, Lalo Schifrin and B.B. King. It’s hard to resist two of the most economic guitar legends of the last 60 years sharing a stage. Disney Hall, usually a venue for high-quality jazz legends, will be offering up the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on November 22. For those who dig the old-timey shit, these guys do it well and are celebrating their 50th year of actively preserving the roots of New Orleans jazz. Amid the one-off cabaret acts at Catalina’s in Hollywood, the most promising band of heavy-hitters booked looks to be pianist Kenny Werner’s all star band from December 9 through 11. With saxophonist David Sanchez, trumpeter Randy Brecker and drummer Antonio Sanchez, the band is poised to blow the roof off that club in a way that few other bands could and certainly no moonlighting television actor with delusions of artistry ever will. So where does one go for the remaining days of the year? One venue consistently booking the most adventurous bands in our fair city is the Blue Whale in Little Tokyo. The location, obviously chosen for its rent rather than its accessibility, features some of the most progressive bands willing to schlep their instruments up the stairs, whether they are members of the Los Angeles Jazz Collective or chain-smoking intellectuals from the farthest corners of Brooklyn. You also might spot more jazz-oriented Brainfeeders on stage, like Austin Peralta who performed there earlier this spring. (The food is happily very good, too!) You can never go wrong dropping into their darkly lit, metallic treehouse for an inexpensive night of boundary-pushing music that would make any jazzbo proud. (Got a gig I need to know about? Email me: cultofsoc@gmail.com)

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mone’s mastery of his craft. The album’s scorching guitars, masterful vocals and subtle but thoughtful musical nuisances do not operate alone, but rather combine to make one hell of a rock record. While a certain amount of swagger might be missing from rock music these days, that does not mean that it is gone completely. The Icarus Line has shown that it is most definitely alive and well, so mothers lock up your daughters. —Paul Rodarte

CHRISTINE HALE (NO OFFICIAL ART YET SO ENJOY A WILD 45 DRAWING!)

LUIS AND THE WILDFIRES “Who Likes Xmas Anyway?” b/w “I Know Your Kind” 7” Norton

IN FADES

SILAS HITE

Know Thy Elephant self-released Los Angeles’ In Fades employ tremoloed guitar riffs; shuffling, shifting rhythms; and psyched out vocals to create a sound that immediately sits well, comfortable in its familiar elements yet distinctive for the way its elements are uniquely combined. “Shipwrecked” starts with shoegazey textures before moving into surfrock guitars that launch the song forward while droning synths and deep intoning vocals keep things anchored underneath. Songs like that one and “Burning Mona Lisa,” with skipping pianos, sharp riffs and electro-gospel synths spiraling around a stoic indie pop song, sound born of jams yet whittle into definite songs that surprise throughout. In Fades covers a lot of territory throughout Know Thy Elephant’s thirteen tracks, from the Simon-and-Garfunkle-meetsMy-Bloody-Valentine of “Infinite Black Holes” to the skewed melodic indie bar rock of “Sirius” to the noir-guitar sea shanty of “Nethers,” which breaks out into a psychedelic soundbath partway through before re-emerging triumphantly—my favorite in particular. It’s clear from the nearly nine minutes of space-folk with banjo in “Broken Glass Sky” that In Fades has its share of ambition, and that ambition and passion are welcome in the face of increasingly niche and too-tidy bands. Were their sound further honed, who knows what these guys are capable of? —Billy Gil 78

It’s always tough to get through the holidays when all you got is Fear and the Sonics to lend your high-energy record collection any seasonal relevance, so thanks to Luis and the Wildfires for this 45 of immense practical use. A-side actually sounds much closer to “The Witch” than “Don’t Believe In Christmas”: a super-primitive riff that’d be much more appropriate for Halloween plus cavemanstomp drums and unhinged (even for him) screaming from Luis himself. (By the end, he’s up to Gary Floyd-ian levels of gargling hostility.) Great lyrics, too—it’s like a break-up song with an entire socioreligious concept! Bonus Xmas Greeting from Luis at the end lets you know it’s all too/for real. (Amazed this clip doesn’t end with police pounding on the hotel door.)B-side “I Know Your Kind” is a quick and nasty rocker (“No More Days” meets “That’s Love,” to do a Wildfires meets Wildfires reference) with a supernaturally catchy chorus and one of those ready-to-roll guitar solos that just kinda falls out of the sky. Two songs you’ll find a reason to play no matter what month it is. —Chris Ziegler

STEVEN FICHE

MR. FREE AND THE SATELLITE FREAKOUT Guru Gaga Bloat Records

Like so many of you, I first discovered Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout when Mr. Free got naked and attacked me—all with the noblest artistic intentions, of course. That was at an FYF Fest way back and they were doing some really proggy/ poppy stuff that probably was supposed to sound like Sparks cutting demos for GSL but which came out pretty Black Flag. (Crazy guitar, crazy bass, crazy drums and … crazy guy with not a lot of clothes on, and soon no clothes on!) You can’t really communicate “naked” through headphones, though, so what we get here is this prickly pulsating pile of everything ever. Track by track, you can hear parts of Sparks, Funkadelic, Hendrix, Shuggie Otis … oh wait, turns out that’s actually just the first track! I think? This is a protopunk band caught 40 years out of time and more determined for it— cultural isolation destroyed by their musical maximalism! You’ll happily recognize the effects of every realdeal freak since they invented the gatefold LP, cohered into high-speed high-energy high-tension rawk and/ or slow-mo brain-fry morlock pop. Eleven (I think?) songs here and it sounds like 30—sometimes all at once, but they got the technique, the perspective and the personality to make it work. People who don’t like this will gripe on the production (it’s got some fur on it, but if you’re reading L.A. RECORD, you’ll celebrate that) and shrink from the density. This is like intro-verse-interlude-element-punchline-solo-nopeACTUAL-solo-coda-chorus-astutereference-exhale-bang-finale! music, and then on side two we get really unpredictable. But if I told those people this was recorded in 1975, they’d call it visionary. And I think it is. Yes, I say this to a lot of naked guys, but Mr. Free—I think I love you. —Chris Ziegler

PIZZA!

WALT! GORECKI

We Come from the Swamp self-released After dumping Pizza!’s new album into my iTunes, I immediately had a lot of questions. Why does Katy Perry’s stupid perfect face plastered on One of the Boys show up as the

album artwork? How come the song titles aren’t making me gag? What the fuck is a Boatzart? And do Buttersaws really exist? After listening to We Come From the Swamp a couple times, I still don’t have the answers. But what I do know is this: Swamp is a catchy fucking album with some of the most straightforward pop songs I’ve ever heard from a band that claims to be making next-level weirdo pop. There are some killer hooks here, with clever, biting lyrics layered on to deep grooves, and although the themes are pretty dark, this could be the soundtrack to your next dance party. I returned to new wave jam “Buttersaw” about ten times—Geis is a master of turning scathing political commentary into irresistibly catchy pop songs, and on “Buttersaw,” he forces you to sing along with him as he unpacks the causes of the demise of our culture. Although I miss Big Whup a lot, maybe their breaking up was for the best; Pizza! seems to have benefited significantly from having the full attention of Geoff and Rand. —Lainna Fader

eight guys in floppy hats and overalls jumping around, and you get things like “New York to LA” or “How Can I,” which have a funky soul chorus going up and down the scale in unison—classic Fishbone, but really, it’s classic P-Funk, the freakier B-sides that Dr. Dre could never sample. Add some righteous solo singing, a few acoustic bluesy numbers, and only one token skaesque soul tune, and this album will probably get you laid—I really wish I’d had this at age 16. —Dan Collins

DAVE VAN PATTEN

(THEE ULTIMATE) BABY J

Looking For A Sign 7” EP Water Under the Bridge

BROCK POTUCEK

THE SOUL OF JOHN BLACK Good Thang Yellow Dog

I was a stuck-up prick when I was a kid, an idiot—and if you need proof, just check out the eight Fishbone cassettes I had in constant rotation in my car stereo at age 16. In the years since, I’ve been so ashamed that I was ever seduced by such a hokey combination of funk, punk, metal and third-wave ska, all varnished together with a slick sheen of early digital studio trickery. And yet, listening to Good Thang by the Soul of John Black, AKA John Bigham, the guitarist and keyboardist from classic-era Fishbone, I can almost forgive them for leading me astray. It wasn’t just their spazziness that I liked, it was that compared to other funk/rock bands, they had 1000% more soul. And on Good Thang, that same soul is front and center, the gimmicks banished. There’s still some residual Fishbone damage, but Good Thang is helping me get the context of that as well: subtract

Baby J, from the underrated Stoned at Heart—her electric band with the Underground Railroad to Candyland/Toys That Kill/porchcore dudes who found a killer sound somewhere between the Band and “Bastards of Young”—goes acoustic solo on this EP. Turns out the louder she gets, the better it sounds. “World Is Winning” reminds me of Miguel Mendez, another South Bay songwriter who was rightfully wrapped up with dios and who could do powerful crazy things with his own acoustic guitar. Frantic righteous guitar, lots of momentum, great sentiment (“What it really deserves is to burn …”) and great refrain (“Now look what has become of the world!”) and big dramatic drum hits that make me think of Minutemen promising that they’d curse more if they heard mortar shells. “Ghetto Street” is “World”’s little friend—comes out slashing with harmonica and doesn’t let up, and you can fill in the drums and the amps in your own head, and they’d sound good, too. Of the softer ones, go with “Dope Smoker Clothes”— you can hear the marine layer settle in as J sings about looking for roads where the cops don’t drive slow. The best parts on here have that comealong-fer-the-ride! joy that the Fugs had when they were honkin’ harmonicas and singing about dope and the world as they knew it, too. —Chris Ziegler ALBUM REVIEWS


many of the greats who preceded him. With introspective lyrics and graphic fantasies of rape and murder, while not being afraid to go over the line with no regret, the undeniable fact is the man has talent. Like it or not, Tyler is here to stay. —Daniel Kohn

LISA STROUSS

Quantic Y Su Conjunto Los Miticos Del Ritmo

he chose that song I don’t know, but I’m sure glad he did. It’s so dope! When debating with hardcore hiphop heads on who are the best producers in the game, you will most definitely hear the names Pete Rock and J Dilla. So of course, Quantic takes the Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth cult classic “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y)” and gives it a makeover that will convert the most die hard hip-hop lovers. If you can dig up a copy of this EP, grab it quick. — Ray Ricky Rivera

ALBUM REVIEWS

Ras_G & The Al k e b u l a n Space Program

Spacebase Is the Place Poo-Bah

Hip Hop En Cumbia EP Tru Thoughts Who would have thought a white dude from the U.K. would be pioneering traditional cumbia music in 2011? No one did! Will Holland aka QUANTIC has been producing and performing (mostly under the radar of the mainstream) for the past decade. Somewhere along the journey of DJ vinyl junkie-turnedperformer, Quantic was bit hard by the tropical music bug. So hard he packed his bags and relocated to Colombia—the origin of the cumbia craze dance rhythm and home to legendary accordion greats Andres Landero and Anibal Velasquez. Fast forward about ten years, ten releases, and collaborations with the likes of Alice Russell, DJ Greyboy, and Mr. Scruff, we arrive at Hip Hop En Cumbia. Quantic had the genius idea to take classic hip-hop songs and rework them as cumbias! And to make this project more awesome he released it as a limited-edition (1,000 pressings), green marble vinyl EP. The A-side has music and the B-side doubles as a Serato control record for all you digital-based DJs. The EP kicks off with the classic KRS-One song “Step Into a World,” with Quantic rocking the melody on accordion. He actually plays accordion, guitar and bass on all the tracks. Track two is most definitely the highlight on this record. Here, Quantic gets his gangsta on as he covers Dr Dre’s West Coast anthem “Nuthin But a ‘G’ Thang.” There’s a short 35-second interlude of OutKast’s “Miss Jackson” followed by Missy Elliott’s dance floor banger “Get Ur Freak On.” How and why

SILAS HITE

VAL HERRADOR

TYLER THE CREATOR Goblin XL

Unless you’ve lived in a shoebox for the past year and a half, you know Odd Future is one of the most hyped hip-hop troupes to come out of Los Angeles in recent memory. Led by Tyler the Creator, the group has received the praise of artists ranging from Jay-Z to Pharrell Williams. Tyler the Creator’s sophomore album, Goblin, is only going to build the buzz to a Wiz Khalifa-esque level—and though the haters may be aplenty, they can’t deny the man’s ability to rap. The standout track is “Yonkers,” where the rapper stakes his claim as the most vile artist since early Slim Shady. This isn’t a bad thing; but other tracks like “Goblin,” “Nightmare” and “Golden” portray a more introspective side to the artist, showcasing his lyrical talents far and above anything else on the album. Tyler’s production is entirely homemade, which is definitely a plus, and features assorted Odd Future members. With sounds ranging from punky keyboards to synths back to R&B, Goblin sonically has it all. Tyler the Creator doesn’t give a fuck what you think about him and that’s what he has in common with

Ras_G’s Spacebase Is the Place winds through the backwoods of your mind. Neurons snap like branches of a brittle tree, your brain eventually succumbing to the forest: the ancient funk of decomposing leaves, the brilliant columns of light passing through the canopy, the sounds of life gurgling up from the earth. Then suddenly, there’s “HollyHood/ Where Dem Trees” obliterating everything around you, trees torn apart, the woods set ablaze by the combustible hum of some craft hovering above. Ras_G is our Roland Kirk and Sun Ra, the beat scene’s seer not just from another plane but another planet. And Spacebase Is the Place is the record every El-Aylien has been waiting for, songs that have been blowing out sound systems for years but had yet to be encased in vinyl. “One 4 Steve EL” is an ode to Flying Lotus’ Los Angeles. It’s the city as seen from space, the skyline besieged by neon and sirens squealing down the freeway before the bomb drops. “Ancestrial Echoes” travels back to Ras_G’s ghetto scifi, music from a parallel universe of low-tech futurism. “Ascension From Nigga 2 Negus” captures the feelings that overcame Ras_G while watching Malcolm Little become Malcolm X. “Disco 4000” convulses with bass as Gaslamp Killer’s announcement that “Los Angeles is in this fucking building-ing-ing-ing” echoes across time. Spacebase is an essential document of Ras_G’s otherworldly vision, a record that will shame any so-called human who ever cared about Baths. Air horn! —Miles Clements

There’s a world of difference between a lead singer and a front man. A lead singer doesn’t require a whole lot of personality—he’s a unit in the band, part of the essential chemistry that includes bass, drums and guitar. A front man, on the other hand is—to quote the Stooges— “a street walkin’ cheetah with a heart full of napalm,” a personality that dominates the stage or a record with a smoky, sweaty mixture of sex appeal, rage, humor and fiery ego. The music world is teeming with lead singers, and to be sure, a many of them are damn talented. But front men—singers with the stage presence of the likes of GG Allin, Iggy Pop, Stiv Bators, Jay Reatard, or Darby Crash—are a rare breed. Which brings us to Orville Bateman Neeley III, the sneering, simmering Texan with a moniker so unbeatable that his new band, OBN III’s, takes its name from his initials. The credits on the band’s debut full-length, The One and Only, which was released in September by Tic Tac Totally Records, list him as “Front Man,” so there you have it. From top to bottom (the entire record is credited to Neeley), it’s his force of personality and stark world vision that dominate the album. Cultural intelligentsia types will take issue with the blunt, almost minimalist approach of songs like “If the Shit Fits” (a frustrated response to a clothes-horse girlfriend), and “First World Problems,” (a razor sharp takedown of dumb all-American “soft boys”). But what the songs lack in lyrical development, they more than make up for in a hard-rocking, raw, emotional feeling. The One and Only is as heavy as a tombstone and as tough as a Texas cactus. There are a few desert flowers growing around its base, though, which is what makes the record really shine. You’ll find hints of blues, a dash of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs’ Texas shuffle, and atmospheric Rik L. Rik-inspired vocals over a Black Sabbath beat in the jaw-dropping “New Dark Age.” We can only hope that Orville Bateman Neeley III and company will somehow find a way to spread their rock ‘n’ roll gospel over here in the South Land sometime soon. Someone who for sure is going to pay us a visit this December is Ottawa, Canada’s sprightly Peach Kelli Pop. Her music and stage presence are a million miles away from OBN III’s, but the beautiful thing about real rock ‘n’ roll is that there’s plenty of room for every conceivable style. Peach Kelli (Allie Hanlon, drummer for incredibly melodic pop-punkers White Wires, who rocked Blue Star in September with Portland’s Mean Jeans) is no front woman, but she more than makes up for it by being a huggable, attractive lead singer with a uniquely cotton-candy-flavored brand of bubblegum punk. Like other lo-fi ladies of today, Peach Kelli’s instrumental abilities are as basic as it gets, but unlike her sisters in arms (whose band names usually end with “Girls”) her songs are actually catchy and fun to listen to (and “beat off to,” if Vice is to be believed). Slide down Peach Kelli’s gooey peppermint rainbow when she plays VLHS Warehouse in Pomona on December 6, supported by Orange County’s capable Pangea and Underground Railroad to Candyland. 79


THE INTERPRETER

FRANK ALPINE Curated by Howe Strange Photography by Ward Robinson

FOLDING PINEAPPLE FOLDING PINEAPPLE CASSETTE (?, EARLY 90S)

BO HANSSON MUSIC INSPIRED BY LORD OF THE RINGS (CHARISMA, 1972)

“This is just incredible music in my opinion. I heard this cassette through a friend of mine in the early 90s. I asked him who it was and he told me it was a member of Solid Eye, an early 90s experimental art-rock band from L.A. My friend had an extra copy of this cassette and gave me one. What a score! This music is like nothing I’ve ever heard. Makes me feel like I’m watching some weird and twisted cabaret, maybe images from Forbidden Zone come to mind. All synth compositions—no vocals. Quirky, animated and repetitive, almost similar to the Residents in feel, but definitely its own thing. Has a warm 4-track sound to it. I’ve held on to this cassette like a small bar of gold since I got it. Mr. Pineapple, if you’re out there, please contact me. Would love to meet you. Thanks.”

“Incredible soundtrack music by this Swedish composer, no vocals. I probably wouldn’t have given this record a second look had I not heard it playing at Freakbeat Records. Despite the title, this is not what I would imagine to be ‘fairytale’ music at all. Wonderful and subtly stark organ melodies, eerie-distant guitar accompaniments, lite percussion with various other instruments. Lots of dynamics throughout this record; ebbs, flows and odd time-signatures. Almost comparable to the soundtrack of Fantastic Planet, but with much more diversity. A stand out feature of this LP is that it was entirely recorded on a portable 8-track! The cashier at Freakbeat sold me this record for 50 cents—half off the dollar bin price! I can never get tired of listening to it. One of my true favorites.”

TUXEDOMOON PINHEADS ON THE MOVE

NASH THE SLASH DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES

(CRAMBOY, 1987)

(CUTTHROAT, 1979)

“I knew nothing about T.M. when I discovered this double LP in 1990. I had a friend that wanted to trade me for some punk records. I flipped through his collection and he played me some stuff. When he put this Tuxedomoon record on, I was hypnotized by it instantly. What ‘kind’ of music is this? I didn’t care, I just wanted it. Dark, rich and interweaving synth melodies, repetitive basslines, eerie violin with delay, drum machines, tapes, and so on. This record has a great ‘lo-fi’ feel to it; real early 80s dark-artwave. Lyrics are usually bleak, stark and dripping with sarcasm. There’s no way to describe T.M. This record documents some of their earliest material (1977-1983), including singles, compilation tracks and obscurities. Will definitely take you to another world—it did for me and still does. One of my all-time favorite bands and LPs. Life-changing.”

“I mean, c’mon … really? Just the cover and title alone grab you—or at least for me they did. One of my all-time favorite records. I found it at an extinct record store in Reseda back in the mid-90s. I saw the cover, picked it up and soaked it in. Who was this Nash the Slash? I needed to know! Beautiful, dark and other-worldly synth compositions accompanied by violin, mandolin and delay in all the right spots. This music really transports you to another place. A masterpiece LP in my opinion. This was a huge influence on my own music when I first bought it … still is.”

MINIMAL MAN THE SHROUD OF (SUBTERRANEAN, 1981)

“Wow. I bought my copy of this epic-debut record at the old Epicenter in S.F. for $2.99. What can I say? Minimal Man (aka Patrick Miller) is ‘KING’ in my opinion. This record is stark, bleak and flat-out scary in moments; deranged-atonal synth melodies and fuzzed-out, repetitive basslines with Patrick’s psychotic chants and rants. This record is chock full of pops, squeaks and jolts of miscellaneous electronics and drum machines that sound like they’re playing themselves! Just a true masterpiece. I had the opportunity to hang out with Patrick at his house in L.A. in the early 2000s before he passed away. Despite some of the ‘dark’ material he produced, he was such an incredible and happy-golucky person—always smiling and giving compliments. In my opinion, he left behind a legacy with his art and music. I love all his LPs. Although they vary from record to record, the instrumentation is usually the same, with Patrick’s sorta ‘stream-of-consciousness’ rants and unique spirit throughout. I love Minimal Man, period. I am a fan for life.”

THE PASSAGE FOR ALL AND NONE (NIGHT & DAY, 1981) “How can I describe this music? I found this LP at some ‘off’ record store in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I picked it up out of curiosity and bought it for five bucks. When I got back to L.A., I listened to it and was indifferent. HOWEVER, this is one of those records that slowly grows on you because you can’t quite figure it out. This is ‘pop’ music that becomes noticeably more obscure the more you listen to it. Instrumentation is guitar, bass, synth, drums, etc. Strange song and chorus arrangements, with odd use of piano (mostly the lower bass notes), and weird time-signatures and changes. Vocals are hard to describe—sorta ‘peppy,’ but with a lot of sarcasm. This trio is from France. I’m not sure if anyone would like this record as much as I do. This is their second LP. Their first one, Pindrop, is equally as good, as well as their singles.” INTERPRETER

Rich T. Moreno, aka Frank Alpine, has been bending the hearts and minds of Los Angeles since the late 90s, with bands like the Boy Scouts of Annihilation and New Collapse. His new solo record, Frank Alpine, comes out in late October on Wierd Records.

VONO DINNER FUR 2 (SKY, 1982) “Oh man! Just the record cover alone is a classic! The back cover is even better! This is THEE ‘minimal’ of minimal synth and NOT dancy at all. Synth and drum machine parts are very mechanical and dissonant throughout. I love this record because there’s hardly a song that ‘grooves.’ The entire record stays on this weird and linear plane. Upon first listen, you walk away from it scratching your head like, ‘Huh?’ … trying to decide if you like it or what to make of it, but I love it. The best part is the singer. His voice projects over the music like a mad-deranged scientist. This duo is from Germany. The members are ‘Vo’ and ‘No.’ No other record like this one … seriously.”

DEUTSCH AMERIKANISCHE FREUNDSCHAFT DIE KLIENEN UND DIE BÖSEN (MUTE, 1980) “This record is fucked-up ... and in all the right ways! The second LP, from what later became just two members of the original lineup, Gabi & Robert Görl. This is serious, disjointed art damage with fucked-up vocals, synth, clashing guitar riffs and pummeling disco drum beats that barely hold it all together. Songs vary from quiet and disturbing to militant, bombastic and deranged. This record will leave its mark when you listen to it. Their later records are stripped down to heavy repetitive bass synth, dark German vocals and militant-disco drum beats. So good!”

THOMAS LEER & ROBERT RENTAL THE BRIDGE (INDUSTRIAL, 1979) “I fell in love with this record when I first heard it—I played it over and over again. The first track, ‘Attack Decay,’ really pulls you in. Dark, repetitive and driving synth with stabs of flanged-out guitar, quiet-minimal drum machine and vocals that are stark and distant … so good! The remaining songs on side one vary from cold and bleak to slightly dancy. Side two is completely ambient with no vocals at all. Has an apocalyptic soundtrack quality with a blend of synth and sounds ‘generated by refrigerators & other domestic appliances.’ This is a cold-synth classic, in my opinion. Released on Industrial Records and entirely recorded with a reel-to-reel 8-track that was borrowed from Throbbing Gristle.” 81


JANIE GEISER Interview by Lainna Fader Photography by Ward Robinson

Somewhere in between dreams and memory, Janie Geiser crafts intricate and enchanting—and often haunting— films with her own handmade puppets and once-loved but now forgotten objects. Geiser’s new series of experimental “Nervous” films—“Ghost Algebra” (2009), “Kindless Villain” (2010), “The Floor of the World” (2010) and “Ricky” (2011)—screened in October at REDCAT, and she speaks here about the first puppets she ever made, feeling electricity in her traveling nerves, and the logic of dreams. You first studied art in college—specifically painting and metalwork. How did you decide to work with film? You had to declare a major when you got to college, so I decided to be a French major. I took some advanced classes my first semester. I knew it wasn’t really the right thing for me, but it was a place to start. And then I finally took an art class, because you could do that at that point, in such a big school. They didn’t require a portfolio for me to get into this class so I took a class called ‘Art in the Dark’ taught by this abstract expressionist painter. I think he just wanted everyone to feel the excitement and the gesture of painting, so the class started out with him just flashing up slides, and we had to get the gesture of them. Or a model, and we’d have to get the movement of it. So it wasn’t at all about getting things right— it was all about process—and then we got to the part where we were learning about drawing and shading and things, but if we had started with that, it would’ve been too intimidating for me, because I didn’t really know how to draw. It was so exciting, like nothing else, so I was like, ‘OK, I will be an art major.’ I took different classes, but as an undergrad, I didn’t have to specialize too much, and I kind of gravitated towards the teachers that I liked the most. So there was this really great, dynamic guy who was teaching jewelry and metalwork, and I liked the students in the class, and the desk they gave us in the studio, and I found that I liked making things and using tools. I graduated in that—because I ended up having the most classes in that. But when I got out, I could not afford to do metalwork, so I started drawing and painting. In college, I had also come upon this woman doing a puppet show on campus, and I asked her FILM

to show me how she makes puppets. I had done some puppetry with some kids I was teaching for a summer job, and I got really excited about it. It just became an element of my visual artwork. I was looking for ways to make visual artwork move in time— eventually putting motors in things—and the first step towards film was actually puppet theater. It was kind of a parallel track— when I started getting interested in that, I was also getting interested in film, and mainly, at the time, animation, because it seemed kind of the same as puppetry. I sat in on a class at a college but it seemed like a lot of work, so I put it on the backburner for a few years. I got a Super8 camera and moved to New York, and just started taking continuing ed classes at SVA and Millenium Film Workshop, and learning how to do stuff. I started out shooting live, and shooting things to add to my puppet shows, like a little film section of the show, but not as a separate thing. Then I shot a more elaborate puppet thing that was all live, and I decided I can’t really do what I want to do, I have to figure out another approach. What was the first puppet you made like? The first puppet—beyond experiments—was actually from college. I was taking a fabric design class, and it was getting back to how fabric was made, like the weaving and things like that—and I’m not prone to that direction. For our final project it was kind of left open, and since we had been doing a lot of hand stitching, I decided to make a hand-stitched puppet. I made it by cutting out an arm, covering it completely in wool embroidery, and then the face, and the eyes, and it ended up kind of looking like a skinny Charles Laughton, which wasn’t my intention at all. I was just kind of doing it free form. It was kind of a magical character for me. I liked it. It showed

a certain kind of obsessiveness I have—every single bit of it was covered with stitching—so it had a kind of satisfying quality of obsession about it. What puppet have you made of that you’re most proud of? Well, there’s a couple. I did a show called ‘Night Behind the Windows’ and it was kind of inspired by—you know the writer Robert Walser?—I was reading a foreword to a book of his short stories and they talked about how he died. Do you know how he died? Well, he was in and out of different sanitariums and stuff like that. He was in one of those at the time. And he always loved to talk—he has a book called The Walk—and for some reason, one night, he went out on a walk in the snow, and they found his body lying face down in the snow, and there was no clear cause of death. So I thought that was the beginning of something, and devised a story around that, but I made it a woman who just falls in the forest and dies. A man comes upon her, and he’s trying to figure out what to do, but no one recognizes her, and the guy is trying to find out who she is. And you never know. And that’s what happens— nothing. But she’s a Bunraku-style puppet, and actually the guy too. They’re probably my favorite pair of puppets. Do you think inanimate objects have emotional lives? Oh, absolutely! Not that they have them themselves, but we project them onto them. A lot of puppeteers get into ‘It’s alive!’ and I think we’re bringing it to life through the person performing it and the collaboration with the audience. And it’s because we just bring many powerful associations to objects, and so using that inherent power, that’s already there—it’s kind of like a Ror-

schach test. You see an inkblot and project into it really emotional things and memories. I think it’s the same thing with objects, and that’s why I’m really into using found objects in my films. The first couple films I made were more kind of full films, like the puppet film, and then I made a couple of painted, cut-out films, which I like but started to think they’d all start looking alike if I kept working that way. From the beginning, I was putting objects into them as well, and I got really excited about what they can do, and now I’m always on the lookout for new characters. Jan Svankmajer said that having puppets when he was a kid was an amazing gift because he could use puppets to play out all life’s injustices—correcting them, taking revenge. What do you get out of it? I don’t know that I’m taking revenge, but I am for myself, trying to get closer to the meanings of things, and hopefully other people are able to find something in that. These ‘Nervous Films,’ they’re about the nervous energy and the world we live in now, how crazy everything is right now. Maybe it’s battling despair. If I’m really paying attention—which I do, unfortunately—to the politics and how things are going everywhere, I would be in despair. I have to have something to do to fight that. What about the world today are you most nervous about? A kind of ignorance—not stupidity, but willful ignorance, and a kind of meanness that’s out there, and a greed that’s out there. It’s exemplified in all the budget debates. People would sacrifice everyone who needs help, and they don’t need help because they’re not trying, but because everything in the system is failing them. …. You hear people saying things like, ‘50 percent of Americans don’t 83


“We all grow up under different terrors.” pay taxes.’ Well, what that really means is they actually don’t make enough money to pay taxes! It’s characterized as if they’re good for nothing, lazy people—50 percent of the people in America—and there are new ways that the corporate people are being described as the productive class, the job creators, and all these terms that ignore the greed that’s going on. And I feel despair for the planet. I have a 13-year-old son, and I can’t show him that despair. We talk about these things, and I wonder, what is his world going to be like if we keep heading in that direction? You’ve said elementary school shelter drills in the late 50s and early 60s caused you a lot of anxiety too—how does that factor into your work? I don’t think about it consciously, but I think we all grow up under different dangers. I was talking to someone who grew up in the 80s, and she told me she grew up with everyone around her dying of AIDS, since she was in New York City, where sex became dangerous for other reasons than just your emotional well-being. We all grow up under different terrors. She was saying the Cold War was at the height when she was a kid. It was for me, in different ways. I think we all grow up under horrors—kids today hear all this talk of terror alerts. It used to be fun to fly or travel. It’s scary enough to be up in a plane in the air. But now you have to worry about all kinds of other things. I loved your film ‘Ghost Algebra.’ Why did you want to go on a search for the original meaning of the word ‘algebra’? It really isn’t what started it, and I don’t even remember how I came up with that title. I think there is a term ‘ghost algebra,’ but it isn’t that—I just googled it after I came up with it—and it’s kind of cool because it’s all about finding meaning. I didn’t really go on a quest though. The press release says ‘Ghost Algebra’ suggests one of the original meanings of the word ‘algebra’ is the science of restoring what is missing, the reunion of broken parts. What was missing from your life when you made this film? I was actually having a strange health problem, where is sort of where the whole ‘Nervous’ films have come from. I haven’t really ever talked about this, but it’s been a couple years now. I just suddenly started feeling all the electricity in my nerves. It was … unnerving. All those nervous words suddenly 84

became real. It might’ve been caused by something getting pinched, because it did happen right after I had a massage, and I was having a massage because I was so tense. It could’ve been a vitamin deficiency. It could’ve been a combination of things, and they never figured it out. I went to all kinds of doctors, had an MRI, been to a neurologist, and what seemed to help the most was a combination of acupuncture and herbs. But my body was not a familiar vessel anymore. Was that a really uncomfortable feeling? It was horrible. But it’s invisible. I might be sitting here talking to you and feeling all these nerves. I never knew where all my nerves are, and I certainly don’t know where they all are now, but I could actually feel it traveling through my body and I didn’t know when it would stop. It would come and go—it wasn’t constant—but it was very scary. Maybe the massage was some catalyst for some underlying condition that needed some attention— the doctors never figured it out. They were telling me it could be MS, it could be a brain tumor, it could be all these things. Then I had terrible anxiety that added to the problem. So it was kind of like, I lost my sense of calm, because my body was not calm. Do you feel like you have it back now? Yeah. Maybe after a year—or even nine months—I started moving towards normal, and now I’m 99 percent normal. I occasionally have little twinges, but nothing like traveling nerves. The odd thing was I found several other friends who had similar things going on, just not to the same extent, so I guess it’s not as uncommon. A pinched nerve could cause it, not just severe medical issues. Would you have preferred to know what the specific problem was, or was not knowing more comfortable? Which would cause most anxiety for you? I think the not knowing. I never had physical anxiety in my life, and as it went longer, and nobody could tell me what to do to make it better, that’s when anxiety kicked in. So I made ‘Ghost Algebra’ at the height of not knowing. It’s not about me in that sense—though there are a lot of body parts in there—I was transmitting another kind of nervousness that we have about war. The woman is looking at this old World War I compound by the ocean where they’re hiding and she’s looking into it and seeing the history of sadness and war and killing and bodies. I’m not so interested in being completely autobiographical and

confessional because I don’t think my story is that important. I’m more interested in using things that are motivating to me and looking at them in a bigger picture way, but through a very small world. You don’t use much dialogue in your work, but you do use some found sounds—where do they come from? I found a lot of them in the Atwater Out of the Closet. For some reason, someone keeps dumping all these 78s there. I got one of those record players that can play those old records and record them to the computer, so the soundtracks to these have been very fun to make. For ‘Kindless Villain,’ you can hear part of John Barrymore doing Hamlet. You’ve said ‘Red Book’ started with you reading a book about a man who lost his memory after being shot in the head. How did you get from that point to a film about a woman who loses her memory? I tried to get the rights to the book to do a puppet show, and they wouldn’t give me the rights. But I couldn’t let the idea go. It kept ruminating. I decided to use it as a jumping point and placed it in a woman, which I think gave me more freedom. Are you worried about losing your memory? Oh, definitely. I have a terrible memory, and it worries me a bit. I have an odd memory. Maybe there’s some hypothalamus problem. If I watch a feature film, I remember it, but what I remember is what I feel watching it, not the moment-tomoment plot, unless I really work at it. It may just be how I do things. It may just be experiencing things, rather than remembering them. I spent a lot of time in my 20s trying to write down all my dreams. Now I don’t remember them as much because I stopped doing that, but I’d like to go back to it. I like having that source. If you do it, you may uncover things that aren’t actually scary, and maybe it would help you figure out why you’re having those dreams. I also love dream language. It’s so free in there. I do feel like with a lot of my work that phase in my life where I focused on that a lot taught me a language of almost montage, where you can put two things next to each other that don’t make sense in a plot kind of way but they resonate by being next to each other. You can make a turn that makes sense to you emotionally but isn’t logical in a plot way, or it only makes sense in dream logic. So

I think it really influenced a lot of my work, even though none of these dreams are recordings of dreams. There’s just a sense of structure that dreams have that I really embrace. Loss comes up a lot in your work—even in dream worlds, things rarely seem to come together, and when they do, there’s a sense of artificiality. What would be you most sad to lose? I already lost my dad, so that was a big one. Objects … family photographs. Other objects are all ephemeral. Things that attach to specific memories of my family are most important. What’s something you experienced as a kid that will always stick with you? When I was about four or five, I got some kind of bad fever. It was like 104. So my parents took me to the hospital, because they had actually lost their first child to some kind of virus. She got a fever and was dead in two days. So they were really sensitive to fever. I was there for a couple of days, and my dad picked me up. He wrapped me in a blanket and lifted me and carried me and I hadn’t been carried in a long time because there were always littler kids to carry. And I remember it was an amazing feeling. Nancy Andrews told me that she thinks life and death are always arbitrary: ‘We think we control such things, or someone controls such things, but it might all me dumb luck or no luck.’ What do you think? I think that’s pretty true. You can stop smoking maybe, but you might just get hit by a car too. There’s murder, there’s war, and those are not random, but maybe it’s random who survives and who doesn’t once you’re in it. I remember my dad my dad telling me about this scar he had. It was at the end of World War II, and a bullet just grazed him. That’s pretty random. That’s luck. Some kid gets shot in a drive-by—that’s terrible luck. Often they have nothing to do with it. They just were there at the wrong time. Drunk drivers. There’s some control with personal behaviors you have, but it’s usually the other person’s personal behavior that unduly effects you. We’re all going to die—it’s nothing profound to say that— but we push it. I found this book at the Last Bookstore downtown, and I haven’t read it yet, but it’s The Denial of Death. I do think we just live because we don’t want to think about the other option. VISIT JANIE GEISER AT JANIEGEISER. COM. FILM


GEORGE KUCHAR Interview by Daiana Feuer Illustration by Dave Van Patten This never-before-published interview took place during the hot summer of 2008, when Cinefamily hosted a George Kuchar film screening. Kuchar made twisted and bizarre movies—casting his mother and his students as perverts and miscreants from his imagination—and video diaries starring strange weather and people from real life. His legacy is awesome. A freaky man with a movie camera, his homemade effects were as dirty as his plot twists, peeling off a protective shell of reality to reveal the delicious slime underneath. Kuchar died September 6, 2011 of prostate cancer. I put together a couple of letters and I thought you could answer them. ‘Dear George, I can’t take a shower without thinking of your movies. How should we think about sex?’ Usually it was Psycho—people didn’t want to take a shower because of Psycho. As long as they don’t go in the shower with a drape on them, they’ll be OK. I believed in adding a little mystery to nudity at a time. I used to go to burlesque places now and then. The more they took off, the less respect the audience had for them. But if they teased a little, it piqued the interest. So how should we think about sex? Just take a shower every once in a while. People will appreciate you better, more. It’s a little more positive than the Psycho thing of getting a butcher knife in the shower. Do you like that kind of stuff? Oh yeah, I’m influenced by everything I see. I used to go to movies a lot. I still do now and then. It’s sort of a cheap vacation. Especially now with a senior rate. So therefore you get two hours and hopefully—with weather like this—it’s air-conditioned, and you sit there and it’s anonymous. It’s more fun to go to a movie where nobody knows you. Are you all taking separate vacations or are you on the same vacation? The only true vacation I had, I went to Oklahoma, which is cheap. You get a motel room for $175 a week. I make these weather diaries. I stayed three weeks and I made a weather diary. I even had a laptop editing thing where I could edit in the room. You don’t have to keep watching cable television all the time, I can edit. How many weather diaries have you made? I’ve been making them since the 80s, every year, there’s a lot of them. … Sometimes the weather wasn’t cooperating or I didn’t get enough footage or I decided to put in another thing, so some of them became hybrids. But lately they’ve been going back to where they’re stuck in one place. Why Oklahoma? They got interesting springtime weather there. In the change of seasons you get a lot of electrical storms, hail storms, twisters, stuff like that. And then there’s a very low population density. Since I’ve lived in New York and then San Francisco, you go out in the street and everybody’s there. There, you go out, there’s nobody walking. Maybe every once in a while 86

some Indians walk. There are Indians. But then regular people are in their cars. There isn’t even that much traffic. So if you go into a town nobody knows you, then nobody calls you on the telephone, it’s even more fun. Total isolation. Yeah, but then you got the television. See, I don’t have cable television. If I did, I’d feel I have to watch it all the time because I’m paying money. This way you go to a motel, you got the cable TV that gets you hooked up to your dosage. While you’re waiting for the weather to strike up, you’re watching TV? And you go out and enjoy the good weather too, work on a tan. What did you make this week? I made a diary of my trip to L.A. My brother and I got a show at the Arm & Hammer museum and then we got on the red carpet somehow of Hellboy 2 with Ron Perlman and everybody. I had my camera and I was the only one with a camera photographing the photographers, who were all lined up taking pictures of the celebrities. They were bewildered. What did you do next? An ex-student got married and had babies and invited me over for a BBQ, so I thought, ‘Here’s a good time, I’ll start a new picture.’ So they had a whole pig that was chopped up. You could see the face and everything. I don’t know if it had an apple in the mouth but it had cherries all around it. So I photographed that. ... I have to go to Portland and I’ll shoot my friend’s place in the country. And I’ll make a diary of people and places. Do you look at it as art or a documentary? I’ll let other people call it art. I try to make it because I love constructing things and making them as beautiful as possible. If other people consider it art, I’m very flattered. … They’re diaries but some of them are fake. There’s scenes where I insert myself but then there’s actual events, but then they’re structured as if you’re looking at a real movie —far shot, close up, there’s music coming in at a certain moment. It’s within the movie format rather than the cinema veritae, which sorta gets me nauseous if I see it on the big screen. Too much camera movement. I like framing things. It’s more capturing a picture of something. Yeah, capturing the essence of something and then filtering it through everything. Is that something that you have to pull out of people or they have it already?

No, it’s there as long as the camera ain’t too big. If you get a very big camera, they’re intimidated. And then it’s only me, there’s no crew. Therefore you hit the button and see what happens. I’m behind the camera, chat, ask a question, bring up a subject, and go from there. You’ve been in front of the camera a lot as well. Is the intention to capture yourself or to not have to give yourself instructions? In the old days, I used to do it because you couldn’t rely on other people—they would have the good parts and the bad parts and you’d have to cut away. The only way to cut away was to cut to a certain object that was under discussion or related to what we were discussing or else me answering or turning to another question. Also, I always wanted to be an actor and this was my chance on a screen. If nobody would ask me, ‘Do you wanna be in a picture?’ I’d put myself in a picture. Now you’re a necessary character in your own construction. If you wanted to take yourself out, you probably couldn’t. Yeah, I’m the guide, the narrator. I play the host. Everybody knows there’s a camera in the room. You might as well host it. Then you get people more comfortable. Another letter: ‘What’s the difference between the world we live in and the world of movies? Do you like people?’ Movies, you go, usually it’s a bit of escape. Although movies these days are looking more and more realistic. They’ve taken the artifice out of it. Sometimes if you want real life you just go out in the lobby or out the door, you know what I mean? Movies are louder now because they have that Dolby sound so you have to go with ear plugs. But if you live in the city then it’s the same thing. Especially in hot weather, then people have their windows open and you can hear their music coming out. Thank god they’re bringing 3-D back. They look more like cutouts or dolls on the screen. But it’s blending. The movies always seem more colorful. I like color. It removes you from what’s going on. It makes it seem like a construction. I like seeing that filtered through people’s artistic ideals, how they’re trying to interpret things. Do you like people? Some of them, they’re not bad. Animals, actually, I wouldn’t mind ending up where my animals went. My pets, you know what I mean,

when ya drop dead. I had a dog and I have cats now. Animals are fun too. Of course, people are interesting also, but who knows how long they’re going to last? Dinosaurs didn’t last that long. Actually they lasted a long time. Longer than us. I wonder what the next step will be? Jellyfish, I think. Ha! Let’s hope not the cockroach. They’re a lot smarter than shrimp, which are the cockroach of the sea. D’you see that Wall-E movie? You gotta see that because the mechanical garbage dumpster star has a cockroach friend, the only survivor of a nuclear war. I thought that was kinda interesting. This movie theater is going to show Xanadu and Labyrinth back to back. I haven’t seen either. Xanadu has rollerskates. Labyrinth has David Bowie. I like puppets. Is Miss Piggy in it? I missed the Mariah Carey picture. … I’m from the Bronx so I thought I should support that movie. ‘Bronx girl makes it big!’ starring Mariah Carey. Do you go back to New York often? It’s like going back to the elephant burial ground. ... Where you’re born or something. You always go back and get your bearings. Probably in California you can lose your bearings. It’s a very transient place. Maybe that’s the draw for creative people. If you want to change things. My brother lives with me now. Do you believe in twin-connectedness? When your brother stubs his toe, you feel it? Luckily, no, but that does happen now and then. ... They come sporadically and you don’t know when they’ll occur. What if you had to experience each other’s dirty thoughts? You have to keep your distance. Even if when you take a pet out and it doesn’t want to be near you, it wants to explore, it will always be pulling on the chain and feeling humiliated it has to be with his master out of the house. That’s what having a twin is like? Yeah, there has to be a separation. It’s like staying with your parents all the time. They don’t want to have to be with you all the time, you don’t want to be with them. It’s not healthy. Otherwise you start murdering one another. Family squabbles can turn ugly … Read the complete GEORGE KUCHAR interview on larecord.com soon. INTERVIEW


C O M I C S

RYAN QUINCY

CHRISTINE HALE

LISA MOUSE

ELANA PRITCHARD

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RON REGE

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RYAN QUINCY

LISA MOUSE

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MIKE JASORKA COMICS

CHAMPOYHATE 89


Centralessness/Centernessless/Centerlessness Prologue: The Reminder By Ben Heywood Illustration by Dan Kern Besides fronting the band Summer Darling as well as playing in a number of other bands, Ben Heywood is also working on a solo record and a novel. Summer Darling’s song “My Reminder” is based on this short story.

The young man stood and took a long look at the land, the difficulty of it. Knotted cherry trees lay to the east shrouding the two-lane highway; before that a concrete irrigation duct splitting two sides of caked dry earth, paths to fishing holes and forts made from splintered lumber and leftover produce crates. To the west behind the house of whose porch he occupied lay an infinity of weeds, golden in the heat and worthless. He peeled the sweat from his neck balling up in his fingertips a gnat or a fly and removed the soft cigarette pack from the breast pocket of his flannel shirt. He lit the Marlboro with a steel-plated lighter, although he mused it might have just lit itself in the mid-morning scorch. His throat opened arid against the invading smoke. After some minutes his moustache felt wet against his forefinger as he held the cigarette to his lips. In his other hand he absently flicked the stiff edge of a photograph with his thumb. There appeared a moment when he nearly tapped the crown of ash on the picture but seemed to think better of it. Instead he allowed the cigarette cinders to collect in the dairy dust of the gray boarded porch or sprinkle like dandrift on the black Tolex of his guitar case. The tractor plow hibernated in the fields to the north, rust entangling its limbs like kudzu or ant trails. He’d spent the night sitting in the shell cab with a bottle of Early Times and a tall boy, the picture right where he’d taped it some odd years prior, to the left of the steering mechanism next to his father’s makeshift cup holder. A curious thing is a forgotten memory rediscovered. His head pitched to the right as he waited for eyes blurred by alcohol and sky-gazing to focus. There was no reason it would have moved; still, it caught him off guard. The Polaroid picture. One edge curling apart from the clear tape. As he remained in the cab drinking he didn’t try to ignore it. He would occasionally look down at it in a sentry-like fashion, as if the photo were a dormant spider or a slumbering ghost. Later stumbling drunk through the house he felt like he was looking for something without a name. In the kitchen there were yellow Post-It notes littering the room like polka dots, with direct yet vague imperatives like “Paint” or “Scrub” written on them in neat block lettering. He bent at the waist to pick one off the sink plumbing and came back up too quickly. With the surge of blood sugaring his head he crashed unmanned marionette-like to the linoleum, still checkered egg yolk and sea foam. The room spun slowly until he closed his eyes and righted his body against cabinets nailed shut to keep out the prying hands of drifters. He looked about the room and had the feeling of gazing upon a lost lover, instantly familiar but wholly changed. The distant vacancy of it brought tears to his eyes, which he repelled with a snort and a stretch of his jaw. He took the picture from his front pocket and spent a drunk’s minute scratching the remaining vestiges of tape from its white frame. He closed his eyes again; he didn’t need them to know what the picture captured. Dizzying brightness. The teeth of a wide childsmile, sky so pale blue it’s nearly nothing, a thousand shards of sun skipping on the water. His mother held their hands, his brother James to the right, he to the left. Her left arm appeared pulled, nearly hyper-extended by his grasp. There was something just out of his reach on the rutted dock. His caramel apple had slipped off its tongue depressor and fallen victim to a yellow wasp. To her other side his brother, slightly smaller, fit underneath her right arm, using it as a canopy from the heat, smelling her linen and the lotion of her tan bare legs. Of the three James is the only one looking forward, his expression one of quizzical understanding. It’s a simple look, a philosopher’s envy. His father snapped the picture with a flash and a whir. The tears welled up again and for no other reason than the complete absence of anything else the young man began to sing the hymn his mother wrote. His voice strangled by phlegm sounded nothing like the canarysong of his mother’s. It sounded hollow and lonely. Suddenly self-conscious, he trailed off before the refrain. In the near silence he could hear the humming of engines on the highway beyond the orchard, the last few stragglers headed home to violent beds from the bars in town. It was a familiar sound. He slept. He put out the cigarette and placed the picture back in his jeans pocket. He had tried last night to make sense of it, to name the emotion the picture evoked, but he was foully soused and unable to stop the slow rotation of the world around him. But now, head full of ache and clarity, he defined the feeling as the memory of the bee sting he suffered during the moments the photograph developed and later the strawberry welt and the small chip of distrust impressed upon him. His mother remained a figure stenciled into the backdrop of his memory dead before he was eight while his brother he imagined perpetually sheltered, maybe holed up somewhere a few miles away in the town they grew up in.


33 1/3: MARQUEE MOON

1978

BRYAN WATERMAN

DANIEL JONES

(CONTINUUM) The Continuum 33 1/3 series has always straddled the line between a magazine article and a college dissertation. At over 200 pages, Bryan Waterman’s assessment of Television’s Marquee Moon pushes the limits of his theories beyond chapbook and into the realm of full-blown biography. Unfortunately, Waterman spends the first three quarters of the book establishing the environment in which Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell rose to prominence amongst the crusty Bowery lay-abouts, and dedicates only his closing chapters to the actual recording of the album, which had long shed the contributions of the original Voidoid—Mr. Hell—and an aborted session with Brian Eno. Television was the first punk band to play at New York’s fabled CBGB, but after only two records (not that many other bands got beyond that) fizzled out. Inexplicably, Waterman fails to interview many of the band members (all of which are living and stumbling across the East Village streets) in favor of magazine interviews dating back to Lester Bangs’ Robitussin-stained typewriter. Despite the best intentions of this book, it spends far too much time dwelling on the bohemian Downtown scene instead of confronting the potent songs and intricate guitar work that make Marquee Moon so great. The contributions of bassist Fred Smith and drummer Billy Ficca are almost completely disregarded, despite the fact that they laid the foundation for Verlaine and Richard Lloyd’s elaborate interplay. Although laudable for its intentions, a better book about Television awaits those who are truly interested in the origins of the punk movement beyond the bowl-cutted Ramones and platinum Blondie. —Sean O’Connell

(THREE O’CLOCK PRESS) Daniel Jones, Toronto’s punk-lit icon, is enjoying a posthumous resurgence. Coach House Press recently reissued his 1985 poetry collection, The Brave Never Write Poetry, and now Toronto-based Three O’Clock Press has reissued his novel 1978. Published in 1998, four years after Jones committed suicide, 1978 is a short, tensely written book about a group of teenagers squeezed into a dingy apartment, doing drugs and dribbling out their wannabe punk band, Cerebral Paisley. Stuck in

a lifestyle that fails at both halves of the word, Boy, Kid, Jacky and Soo revel in their own damage and, even if they weren’t characters, they wouldn’t be much more than characters. They listen to X-Ray Spex and the Dead Boys, and the depth of their conversation plunges not much further than calling each other “fucking lazy cunts” and telling each other to “suck your mother’s asshole.” No narrator proselytizing—he’s as gone as the rest of them. You won’t find much in the crusty-punk profundity of the conversation, but definitely some honest matter in the sad emptiness underneath. If your loveliest version of Hell is being eternally trapped in a smoke-drenched, roach-infested apartment with a bottle of pills and only a semi-conscious, vomitstained Stiv Bators for conversation, this book’s for YOU! —Howe Strange

THE L.A. RIVER

EMILY EDER, SASHA PORTIS & FIONN CONNOR With all-capital lettering and a tree-branch silhouette, this halflegal zine looked right at home wedged between Echo Park pseudo-poets in Stories’ “locals” section. But on the first spread of the spontaneously created L.A. River homage is a pair of dirty socks and three ripped out horoscopes as they would appear through the lens of a canon color copier. The astrological forcasts predict creativity, experimentalism and the start of changes, as if to explain the inspiration for the pages ahead. Made on June 10, 2011 (according to a brief paragraph on the back), the zine features doodles, journal scans, handwritten essays and grainy film photographs all culled from an excursion on June 9, when three friends spent all day by the Los Angeles River. A full-color center spread features a policestyle lineup of the usual River suspects: pieces of grass, part of a banana peel, a twig and a crumpled page of the Los Angeles Downtown News. Written anecdotes provide context for the scrapbook, from a brief history of the river’s place in L.A.’s development to a retelling of how the exploring the river once got the writer grounded in high school. Like a more tangible, L.A. version of Portland zinsters Nate Orton and James Yeary’s My Day series, here’s to wishing that this group of friends turns more of their stoner days exploring unknown parts of town into handmade reads. —Sarah Bennett

847, DO YOU HAVE YOUR RADIO OFF? BILL DANIEL

Bill Daniel is a vagrant documentarian who turns his video and still camera lenses on the often dirty, sad and unpleasant things he sees in his everyday life. In the last 30 years, he has lived everywhere from Austin to Portland to Shreveport and exhibited both his pictures and films in artistic outlets large (New York’s MOMA) and small (The Smell). An unpublished stash of Daniel’s photos, however, has finally found an outlet in zine form, with the help of the biannual photography magazine Hamburger Eyes and their series of monthly zines. This black-and-white photocopied half-page BOOKS

HOOLEYGAN

TERRY HOOLEY & RICHARD SULLIVAN (THE BLACK STAFF PRESS) The mid-70s were hard times in Belfast, Ireland. The civil war had escalated and bombs and riots were gutting the city. Curfews were enforced and many businesses and clubs were closing down. Most touring bands were too scared to stop by. The rise of punk in London was reaching Belfast via pirate radio, indie zines and one record-store-turned-record-label, Terri Hooley’s Good Vibrations. Hooleygan is the life story of Hooley’s upbringing—from growing up in a semi-political family to his adolescence in the 60s (protesting, starting underground zines and clubs, taking drugs, having sex parties, fighting with John Lennon, etc.)—that leads to his interest in punk and in starting a record store/label that fostered the careers of bands such as the Undertones, RUDI, the Outcasts and Protex, as well as Hooley’s own brief musical jaunt. Hooley speaks candidly about both his personal life and the record industry in a way that’s not over contemplative or funny but seemingly honest. At times, Hooleygan reads like a collection of famous stories told at the pub, and at other times Hooley seems to be reaching into his store of memories to satisfy fans of the record label. The book is interspersed with writings from band members and Hooley’s associates, as well as pictures, flyers, 7” covers, etc. Hooley ultimately comes off as a genuine music fan who did whatever he could for what he believed in—sometimes to a fault, but in a way that endears his character. For fans of the Good Vibrations label or punk rock in general, Hooleygan is very informative and somewhat inspiring. —Wayne Faler

is full to the bleeds with photos snapped between 1988 and 1994 while Daniel was a bike messenger in San Francisco and provides insight to the street art and bicycle scenes in the city at the time. The majority of the photos are of simple spraypainted social-commentary doodles and territory tags found on walls throughout the city, but some are larger, more intricate art pieces whose public placement required more time and skill. Other photos—such as one of a TV showing the Rodney King beating and another accusing Clinton of being a dirty politician—speak to the political climate of the time. Overall, a great account of 90s San Fran through the eyes of a bicycle-assisted flåneur that would never have been seen if it were not for Hamburger Eyes’ prolific zine series. —Sarah Bennett

YONIC SOUTH: ISSUES 2-4

VARIOUS

Kind of bummed that I missed out on the first issue of this Long Beach-based feminist zine, but I must not have been looking hard enough because as one of the few consistently monthly zines I’ve found, they’ve done a great job with exposure, placing new issues all over the city. This little half-pager is never thick (three sheets of paper, tops) but it’s always there—hanging out with the flyers at the coffee shop, on top of the weeklies at the music store—with a new photo of an inspiring woman somehow worked into the cover each month. The zine is also a true community effort with an open submission policy and weekly meetings at a local park that aim to create a multi-voice, all-female space for expression. So far there have been interviews with local roller derby girls, rants about contraceptives, notebook doodles and inspirational poetry. Sometimes, if original contributions are lacking, the editors will pull photographs, poems and song lyrics that relate to the issue’s theme (which has so far included motherhood and identity). With an approachable writing style and a solid academic background, Yonic South’s come-all-ye-females attitude symbolizes a refreshing resurgence of the zine as a forum to spark discussion of non-mainstream topics. And because it is still in its infancy, I have a feeling that the best content is yet to come. —Sarah Bennett 91


LACE Interview by Drew Denny Photography by Carrie Shreck Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions provides a safe space for radical thought, action and performance. Innovative even at in its inception, LACE was created in 1978 by a motley collective of artists who agreed on little outside of the democratic process by which they formed LACE and the importance of keeping their minds and doors open to their community as well as their contemporaries. A month into Los Angeles Goes Live—an exhibition and performance series that represents LACE’s contribution to Pacific Standard Time—current Executive Director Carol Stakenas speaks to Arts Editor Drew Denny. How has LACE changed the way art is made and exhibited in Los Angeles? Carol Stakenas (executive director): This is a big question. In the 70s when LACE was emerging out of the artists’ community, the opportunity for contemporary artists to show their work was extremely limited. Artists took matters into their own hands and created LACE and other spaces to present and share their work. Performance art and video were two forms that LACE and its artists really committed to in a way that shaped the Los Angeles art world. Describe a previous project that could only have been realized at LACE. The work that Dino Dinco has been doing as part of his curatorial residency at LACE comes to mind. He created a series entitled: 3 x 6 x 3, each event featured a circuit of three performance artists executing continuous live work for a rotating audience of six spectators. 3 x 6 x 3 # 3, the most recent and final installment, featured Samuel White in LACE’s rear gallery 92

riding a mechanical bull controlled by the audience with a 3-channel projection backdrop. Brian Getnick, Claire Cronin and Corey Fogel occupied the back hallway and serenaded each group. Then the audience went out the back door for Alejandra Beatriz Herrera Silva’s performance in the parking lot. Dino’s series gave the artists, the audiences and our staff an opportunity to explore the potential of our space. Also, I was impressed that Dino chose to engage artists and their practices in a way that resisted the pressure to attract/accommodate bigger audiences. Instead, he focused on the intensity of intimate experience, something that is often sacrificed. I’m pleased that LACE can support these types of explorations. How did LACE participate in the emergence of performance art? The artists that founded LACE embraced performance art and made space for it. Marc Pally and Joy Silverman, both visionary Executive Directors at LACE, made supporting performance artists a priority in the 70s and through

the 1980s. As part of this commitment, the organization worked with Highland Art Students to organize Public Spirit, the first citywide performance art festival in LA in 1980. Basically, if you were a performance artist at that time, you were part of Public Spirit. Liz Glynn’s project Spirit Resurrection will reinvent the festival in January 2012. So how does Los Angeles Goes Live further the evolution of performance art? Our strategy for involving practicing artists at all stages of the research, development and presentation of Los Angeles Goes Live is based on the belief that evolution comes through working with artists and trusting their instincts. Only as the artists participating in this project continue to work far beyond January 2012 will we see the impact of what we are doing together at this moment. How would you say Los Angeles Goes Live furthers the evolution of the documentation of and exhibition of performance art?

Los Angeles Goes Live brings together disparate elements from within the Southern California art scene in the 1970s and early 80s to celebrate the ways that performance art grew organically, and in varied directions. The exhibition offers multiple strategies for engaging with performance art—through ephemera, through garments and props, through recreations. We invite visitors to consider the possibilities and limits of each method through their own experience. How does the act of opening the art making process to the public sphere affect a city? It challenges everyone, including the artist, to consider where and how art is made and who is allowed to have a stake in the process. The experience can create ‘open eyes’ for participants to experience the city in a new way. For some, it also triggers curiosity to understand the nuance of the artist’s intentions to work in this way. That’s a wonderful bonus, but certainly not required to make the work impactful. ART

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Do you believe such programs­—or performative and participatory artworks in general­—risk the fetishization of interaction or community? There are risks and vulnerabilities that come with these creative practices. First and foremost, it is important for the artist, curator and organization to be aware of the reciprocal relationships in play. The ‘social contract’ that needs to be honored with a given community fundamentally changes when the project occurs outside of an institution. This particular issue is something we are actively dealing with right now for Three Weeks in January, a new work by Suzanne Lacy with scores of Los Angeles-based collaborators concerned with violence against women. Her project will recreate key aspects of Three Weeks in May (1977)—an art project exposing the true incidence of rape in Los Angeles—and will focus on where Los Angeles is now, thirty years into the anti-rape movement, and where we hope to be in the coming decades. The work requires extraordinary sensitivity to the people and communities we are engaging, to have authentic engagement and to build trust and respect. What is your stance on ‘re-performance’? The reinvention process can be life-changing. I learned this from Steve Roden when we worked together on a recreation of Allan Kaprow’s Eighteen Happenings in Six Parts.

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You can’t just channel the past. Instead, you have to recognize your role as an active agent in the creation of a new experience that craves connection with the past. The reinventions and recreations that excite me the most are ones that take the time to dig—into the performance, the artist, the participants, the time gone by—and end up grappling with the fact that all the complexity and meaning generated by the earlier moment is gone and irretrievable. After that loss is acknowledged, a void of possibility remains. This process is humbling, frustrating and exhilarating. I see this cycle occurring again and again with each Los Angeles Goes Live commission. What sites, outside of LACE, are included in Los Angeles Goes Live? Suzanne Lacy’s Three Weeks in January performance will be staged citywide—on high school and college campuses, downtown in alliance with the Department of Cultural Affairs and the LAPD and in other places yet to be determined. Glynn’s Spirit Resurrection will also be hosted at various partner sites along with LACE. Each artist can propose her/his own location. The Public Spirit festival in 1980 included performances that occurred on the bus, along Hollywood Boulevard at 3am, at Venice Beach and in private homes. Can’t wait to see what happens this time!

In the past year, I’ve written about performance art exhibitions, retrospectives, and festivals in LA, New York, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, and Lithuania. How do you like to explain the current resurgence of performance and participation based artworks around the world? My analysis on this is pretty much stating the obvious. The influencing factors that have supported the current resurgence include the pressure of the economic recession and the commensurate rise of war and social inequity. Like the artists in the 70s creating studio based work is not enough to support the ideas and actions that people want to do to respond to these issues. Also, there is an amazing group of emerging curators and scholars who are deeply exploring the 70s and championing the emergence of these forms. Finally, the timely proliferation of mobile digital networks and social media platforms are creating new avenues of sharing and participation. What drives you to engage new publics by creating and delivering programs to communities, businesses and bureaucracies? I work with artists whose ideas and projects cannot exist otherwise. What’s the most fun you’ve had at LACE? Everyday I get to work with artists that are making work that pushes my imagination. It’s a type of fun that will last a lifetime. With that

said, one specific and extremely fun experience involved a one-of-a-kind ‘sock dress’ designed by Lun*na Menoh. The dress is a form fitting knit cotton sheath with stuffed tube socks attached like fringe, including a long train of socks. She originally designed the piece as part of a performance she did at LACE to reinvent Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece. I was inspired and excited by her performance—she invited audience members to dress and undress her in different outfits, wigs and props while she sang “Walking on Thin Ice” eight times in a row. No one touched the dress during that event, but I was obsessed and asked permission to try it on and she let me keep it. It was the perfect outfit for LACE’s 30th anniversary notorious Valentines Day Party. Wearing it was a blast! What about LA has surprised you the most since you began working at LACE in 2005? Love of the desert. I grew up in Tallahassee Florida and, until coming to LA, was eastern seaboard-centric. The appeal of the desert landscape and its punishing dryness surprised me—was not expecting that! LOS ANGELES GOES LIVE EXHIBITION AND PERFORMANCE SERIES THROUGH SUN., JAN. 29 AT LACE, 6522 HOLLYWOOD BLVD., LOS ANGELES. EVENT SCHEDULE AVAILABLE AT WWW.WELCOMETOLACE.ORG. 93


CRIMEKILLZ “NEVER DIES” (HNR13) LIMITED-EDITION CASSETTE TAPE INCLUDES 13 UNRELEASED SONGS, REMIXES AND INSTRUMENTAL BEATS $10 POSTPAID TO HIT+RUN PO BOX 861917, LOS ANGELES, CA 90086 WWW.THEHITANDRUN.COM WWW.CRIMEKILLSKIDS.COM

PERFORMING LIVE AT LOW END THEORY WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12TH


LA RECORD ISSUE 105  

RAS G - THUNDERCAT - FLAMING GROOVIES THE SPITS - R. STEVIE MOORE - IGGY AZALEA - PORTISHEAD - DEVON WILLIAMS - THE FLYTRAPS - THE NOCTURNES...

LA RECORD ISSUE 105  

RAS G - THUNDERCAT - FLAMING GROOVIES THE SPITS - R. STEVIE MOORE - IGGY AZALEA - PORTISHEAD - DEVON WILLIAMS - THE FLYTRAPS - THE NOCTURNES...

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