AND THE GENERAL BURDEN OF MAN
YOUR MONEY IS NO GOOD HERE .
SEASONS IN THE ABYSS.
Volume III A solo exhibition by AVANT CAR GUARD WHATIFTHEWORLD / GALLERY Opens 18:00 Thursday 26 March 2009 Exhibition runs 26 March - 25 April 2009
While our market gently weeps AVANT CAR GUARD at the Joburg Art Fair Booth no. 08 W H AT I F T H E WO R L D / G A L L E RY Sandton Convention Centre, 3-5 April 2009
W H AT I F T H E WO R L D / G A L L E R Y First Floor, 208 Albert Rd., Woodstock, Cape Town, South Africa t: +27 (21) 448 1438 . m: +27 84 414 4554 . e: firstname.lastname@example.org
AVANT CAR GUARD avantcarguard.com . www.avantcarguard.blogspot.com IMAGE SHOWN (DETAIL):
AVANT CAR GUARD waiting for Mandela to die and the nu rave party experience to hit Joburg Archival inkjet print on cotton stock : 900 x 700 mm : edition 15 : 2009
“A lot of the time I merely let out images or ideas that are randomly generated in my head. I don’t really know how it works, but I know that the moment that I start forcing ideas on myself I tend to miss my mark “ . How the hell are you doing? Pretty well thanks First of please tell us what you are busy with at the moment? I am currently working on an animated music video for Fonda, promotional material for Yesterday’s Pupil (electro pop extraordinaire), a solo exhibition and a lot of other random freelance work. Explain your work to us and what you do? I’m basically a visual...guy (for lack of a better word). I pretty much do what I am asked. I animate, direct, illustrate, design stuff. Give us bit of detail about your background and how you ended up where you are now? I started out doing more fine art orientated stuff after which I turned to the dark side and started studying visual communication. I am currently finishing my final year (part time) at the Open Window in Pretoria. What medium do you use mostly to produce your work, or is it a combination of a few? A combination of a lot of things. I try as far as possible to work with more than one medium at a time. It just makes it more exciting.
Your images are quite dark at times yet there is an element of fantasy intertwined within the subjects. Where does the ideas or thought process stem from? A lot of the time I merely let out images or ideas that are randomly generated in my head. I don’t really know how it works, but I know that the moment that I start forcing ideas on myself I tend to miss my mark. On the other hand I guess my work often comments on the state of agony that the world is in. I don’t indulge in it, but I don’t think people realize how broken they are. Describe your process of creating a new piece? I like driving and thinking. I find myself at my most creative when I am driving somewhere that has no relation to what I am doing. Thats normally where I get most of the ideas that I need. From there on out its execution which varies a lot, depending on what I am doing. When are you the most productive? Mostly In my studio at home. But I like to go to a coffee shop or other public places to work. Do you base your work on photo reference or is it from thought? I do google a lot of images when I am brainstorming. But that is just to get me going into a direction. I then sit and draw what comes to mind.
How long now have you been doing work for Revolution and how did it come about? Clayton saw my work on Myspace and contacted me. I worked on a couple of decks and shirts on and off for about a year or so. If you could invent something right now, what would it be? Something that would give me the confidence to do public speaking. Did you have any artistic education? Yes, I started going to art classes when I was pretty young and ended up in Pro Arte (art school). I did a year at TUT in fine arts after which I went to study at the Open Window. How would you explain your work to a stranger? I would just show him pictures and let him make up his own mind. Upcoming projects, shows? What can we expect from you in the near future? I am currently finishing work for a solo exhibition in June at Salon91 in Cape Town. The show is pretty much one big installation with sound work, sculpture, animation and drawings. Has art always been a big part of your life and were you into art as a kid? Not that big. I only started taking it really seriously around standard 7. Before that I was into sport. As we grow older our influences constantly change. Have your art influences changed, as you have grown older? Definitely yes. I am constantly thinking in different directions and discovering new possibilities.
Does the work reflect periods of your life, darker works in darker times and vice-versa? Kind of. What are your thoughts on the overall state of the world? I think we would be better off if we realized that love is the answer to almost everything. Do you ever follow politics in this country and do you vote? I donâ€™t follow it no, but I am planning on voting. I just need to Google some stuff first. What gets you up in the morning? God. What are you listening to right now? The sound of my hissing computer, some far off bird sounds and a lawn mower. What would you change if you could? My inability to be patient and loving a lot of the time. When is the last time you cried? This morning. What are you going to do after you have done this interview? Work on a menu for an organic deli. Is there life after deathâ€Ś? For freakin sure.
“Generally, image and text happen at pretty much the same time. I think words lay dormant and something triggers their reveal and sometimes they prompt a graphic representation but they usually work in tandem .” How the hell are you doing? I’m good, it’s January.. First off please tell us what you are busy with at the moment? I’ve been doing some inventory, working on a few new pieces and researching themes for future projects. Explain your work to us and what you do? I’m an artist. My media include painting, drawing, sculpture, animation and digital media. In a nutshell my work deals with social narratives. As a construct, I like to place a subject into a grander scheme and see how they react, a bit like a lab rat experiment. All individuals deal with their own private issues. On a more intimate note, what interests me is the idea that the human experience, the human condition, of experiencing things like joy, heartache, crisis, is a universal phenomenon that everyone encounters. My work explores these empathetic themes. I hope in the moment of viewing the spectator will experience something intimate and personal. I like to think art acts as a catalyst to bring human emotion to the fore and allow the viewer to linger with their feelings for a brief moment. You seem to make use of three solid mediums, painting, animation and sculpture in all your exhibitions. Have you ever thought of just sticking to one or do you feel that using all three is the only way for you to showcase your work? I like to work from different platforms, engage different
mediums; it’s just a personal preference. Although it is the story behind a piece that is most important, the material you use or the method you employ to tell that story has an impact on its reading. I enjoy seeing how my iconography translates and mutates on different platforms. You look at an animation differently to the way you look at a static sculpture. You have different contextual conditioning (neither better nor worse), that’s just the way it is. I like that about method. In the end, your individual language needs to find a voice and it should be able to be heard and recognised in whatever form you choose to express it. I don’t think it matters if you use one or several platforms. It’s not about the numbers, just about being comfortable with what you work with. Your sculptures have a very strong Asian influence especially from the vinyl toy collections that are so popular with collectors now. Are you a collector yourself? No, but I do keep track of work produced that interests me. I do have two pieces that were given to me as gifts (a Mori Chack plush and a Lau crazychildren bear). I love that Lau piece. It’s so rough and crudely produced, right down to the packaging. It’s so endearing because of that. The Asian issue is a tricky one for me. It’s a big topic, too big to tackle here. I am definitely aware of it but I wouldn’t say it’s an overriding influence. I do concede, there are visual similarities. There is a long history that supersedes the work we see produced today. Although I respect (and like) a lot of say, contemporary Japanese subculture (and the art and visual language that comes out of it), I don’t believe my work is a direct derivative thereof. As a com
FRANCHISE: sleep tight
Jackie the kid: on top of the world
Jackie the kid: dwarfed
FRANCHISE: poodle chef
FRANCHISE: ice hockey 1
Jackie the kid: TINA
Photograph: Reinhardt Hartzenberg
Photograph: Reinhardt Hartzenberg
plete language it is foreign to me. Parts of the language are obviously accessible and homogeneous, we get the cute for example and one is aware of the high/low art cross pollination or the consumerist undertones. What I mean is, I might not have absolute context of where it all originates. There’s an interesting comment in the forward of the publication that accompanied Murakami’s curated ‘Little Boy’ exhibition (showcasing Japanese visual language) where it is suggested that he locates ‘the birth of these new cultural forms in the trauma and generational aftershock of World War II and it’s atomic devastation.’ In other words, dealing with the horrors of the real, by employing fantastical means. Who would have guessed? All I’m saying is, I’m a big proponent of being a product of ones environment, and the art you make is bound to the time and place you find yourself in, in some or other way. The same is true of my work. Nevertheless, I appreciate that there are visual and formal parallels. Perhaps it also has to do with a bigger contemporary global trend where a new hybrid language is evolving? I think Braam Kruger actually said it best when he wrote in the Business Day article in 2005 that your sculptures have a startling immediacy and have more animation locked in them than any cartoon could ever have. Does the life in the sculptures ad to why you keep them cordoned off at exhibitions? I really like that comment Braam (1950 - 2008) made. Generally, I don’t cordon off sculptures. The show you’re referring to was the baby installation, where a group of ceramic baby sculptures were cordoned off from the viewer. You could see them but not get too close to them or touch them. I wanted to create a distance between the viewer and the babies, physically and psychologically. The ropes helped to perpetuate that inaccessibility. They reminded me of seals at a zoo. They’re not overtly dangerous, but you just can’t reach them. The walls that separate you form the seals are deceptive, because they coax and tease you into thinking you have access (because they’re so low) but you don’t. There’s usually a moat or something just beyond the low wall! So the exchange becomes cerebral. How long does it take to make one of your sculptures and how do you reproduce them? My sculptures start from a drawing, an unrefined sketch very often. I like to produce my master sculptures myself from which the moulds are made for final casting. Before I make the master to scale (which can be quite big) I make small maquettes just to feel out where I want to go with the final piece. At this stage, I’m still determining, feeling out the shapes and proportions of things, so it’s important that I’m hands on at this point. I’m trying to capture a spirit, a sense of my original drawing, not only translating a shape or form. I usually subcontract the mould making and the actual casting work out. The final pieces are then colour sprayed. Depending on the size of the work, the whole process can take up to a month
per sculpture (as it did with the menagerie cast), before it goes to the fibreglass stage. Where does the theme from the black and white sheep stem from in some of your later exhibitions? Even in what looks like old family photos it appears you are pointing at the good kid bad kid idea and that all families have a black sheep? ‘Tina’ in Jackie the Kid gives birth to a kid goat. In the Menagerie show, ‘Lamb’ is one of the sculptures (incidentally black). On that show a digital print entitled ‘Lamb Hold’ shows a figure holding a white lamb. For me the lambs symbolise something pure, something to be protected and something hopeful but fragile and naive too. Lamb to the slaughter comes to mind. There is no negative black sheep intention but it’s interesting that you pick up on such a theme. I love the idea that art affords us the opportunity to do just that, think what we want to think (as our individual experiences direct us to do), who knows, it might be what the artist intended, it might be way off track. In some of your earlier paintings some of the backgrounds that you painted and even the word play has a strong Jean-Michel Basquiat feel to it. Did his art have any influence in your work at that time? Not specifically. I do like his work though. I love the immediacy of it. I like the cobra artists or the German zeitgeist painters for the same reason. Basquiat did have an intuitive typographic sensibility. He used words as another compositional element and placed them just right so that it all worked together. ‘Glassnose’ is a perfect example; it’s one of my favourite Basquiat paintings. It’s so simple and yet so strong. Words and phrases do play a role in my work. It happens subliminally and is never over deliberated. There have been some mixed emotions regarding your work in the past. How do you deal with criticism, how much of it do you take seriously and what do you regard as being relevant to your work? I think it’s great if you hit a nerve, good or bad, but sometimes it ‘hurts’ a little, like when you hit your funny bone. One shouldn’t take it all too seriously. However, that is also part of the art making process, to relinquish control and put your work out there for comment. I do listen to constructive criticism and respect good writing (whether it’s approving of my work or not). It is an important part of the art machine. In the end though, I have my own path to follow. You can’t please everyone. A nice review does make you king for a day. I do on one hand see why Alex Sudheim compared some of the characters in your first “Jackie the Kid” show to the Radiohead videos at the time. For instance in the naïve style you chose to paint them did seem to give you that paranoid android feel and even some of the hand drawn
menagerie: photo shoot
menagerie: lamb hold
sweet gentle pigs
Photograph: John Hodgkiss.
Moby videos that were on air around about then… But then on the other hand the bulk of your work stands out as completely your own… I’m glad you say that. You’ll always have comparisons; it’s inevitable. I think he also said many of the characters ‘resemble a DNA splice between pokémon, South Park and Spirited Away’ – it could have been worse! Can one never use stripped down graphics and hand drawn elements ever again because someone has done it before you? There will be a lot of people in trouble if that was the case. I remember those groundbreaking Kid A animation teasers in fact, many done by Shynola (three years before Jackie The Kid mind you). What I find particularly interesting with the videos you mention (the Magnus Carlsson directed animation for ‘paranoid android’ and the Moby ‘‘Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?’ piece) is that they’re both saturated with melancholic overtones. I think ‘Jackie the kid’ has the same themes of sadness running through it. So as a comparison I’m happy with that. Does the broad style of mediums that you choose to use for all your work allow you to sell a lot more to different buyers with different income? Sure, different things cost different amounts for different reasons. When I produce a work however, I don’t make a conscious monetary correlation. There’s just a drive to realise the work. That said, different factors do come into the final price equation. So yes, prices do vary. Your comments that you add to some of your pieces are very sharp and very observing. Is it something that comes to you at the time the piece is being made or do you make a piece towards sentences and words you thought of before hand? You mean work that incorporates text or phrases? Generally, image and text happen at pretty much the same time. I think words lay dormant and something triggers their reveal and sometimes they prompt a graphic representation but they usually work in tandem. David Carson used a font that you created in one of his books, how did that come about and for what publication did he use it? That’s a long story. He had seen a previous website of mine and referenced some work and asked if I could do him a couple of ‘alphabets’. I worked on three and in the end he used two in his book ‘Trek’. In your 2007 show “Menagerie” you used a lot more photography in some of the pieces of caged animals, birds and old photos. What lead to the decision of this combination in your work? Thematically, the show takes as point of departure, the idea of a nuclear unit made up of Tiger, Tim, Budgie, Sugar and Lamb. Naturally the group comes with their own set of complications and closet stories reminiscent of Tennessee Williams’s play The Glass Menagerie. My
cast are placed within a setting. The photographic works function as silent props to aid the viewer to formulate some or other opinion. They’re not absolute indicators, but rather subtle visual cues that help to construct a story. When did you decide to start making art full time? It’s always been my thing. It’s like being a nun or something. Sure, one does divergent things along the way, for numerous reasons but that just makes the ride more interesting. After my studies I worked for a broadcast design and animation company to further explore my interest in experimental animation for a while. I like to think my experiences have all contributed to my current visual language. How much animation work do you still do or are you completely making a living off your art right now? Animation is just another tool I use to make art, so it is part of my mix. It will definitely feature in my work in the future. I did a google search for ‘what does making a living mean’? And the first entry was about Charlie Chaplin’s first feature film incidentally called ‘Making a living’ (before his ‘Little Tramp’ persona). I though that’s a nice entry, a reminder of a true pioneer, following his dream, making his living. When is your next show coming up? 2008 did not bind me to any solo shows, as was the case over the last four years. I also attended a residency for three months. It is good to have those explorative periods where you can muck about and explore new avenues autonomously. I am looking forward to my next show, dates to be confirmed so keep you eyes peeled. Do you ever follow politics in this country and do you vote? How can one not. Interesting times, not only in SA but globally too, not to mention the countries across our borders. What gets you up in the morning? My cat is often a culprit. What are you listening to right now? lastfm (at my computer), just played: Lali Puna, Kings of Convenience and Rufus. What would you change if you could? Age related body deformation. When is the last time you cried? I kicked my baby toe on the kitchen table this morning, I cried a little. What are you going to do after you have done this interview? Take a swim. Is there life after death? I haven’t been.
Takestock Productions is a complete service stills photo production company based in Cape Town, South Africa. We have extensive experience in the stock photo industry! Contact: Mia L. Bester +27 74 111 9511 email@example.com - Skype: takestock
Ctrl Alt Del Photographs: Joanne Olivier.
Photography: louis vorster
“ Although I didn’t exhibit in art galleries for a decade or so, I didn’t for a moment stop working with ideas and collecting thoughts. I now find I have years of collected material, images, experiences, stories, notes, texts and thoughts to translate ” . How the hell are you doing? I’m happier than what I can remember being before. If I look back two years and think of the changes I decided to make in my life, I’m pretty much where I hoped to be. I suspected it wouldn’t be an easy road, and it hasn’t been. The things important to me a while back were to live in a small town along the coast, to begin to make art with a view to someday being able to do only that, and to raise my son in the kind of environment I was raised in: sea and fynbos forest. First of please tell us what you are busy with at the moment? I’m working towards my second solo show, aiming for mid year. There are also a couple of group shows in various places. I’m steadily using the time I have to collect material to build the series. I’m drawing and painting whenever I can, and it’s only just beginning to get to a point where I want to include the pictures in a show. I’m working with audio too, the new body of work has a soundtrack. Explain your work to us and what you do? I’ve never stopped collecting things. If I like something, I find a way to keep it: I like found objects, photos, text, ideas, audio, words, conversations, music. Things I pick up, photos I take, objects I buy (sometimes when I buy them I don’t know what I’ll end up doing with them) Sooner or later, in some form, it all finds its way into what I’m making. Some work starts with an idea or a word, and I then find the images or objects to execute the thought. My first solo show began with a word. My process is seldom linear or logical, and I don’t know the outcome till I get there. I find it almost impossible to work on one piece at a time. I need to look at them, live with them, change them. I think often we understand what we’re doing only after we’ve done it.
There was no deciding moment, no one thing in particular. There were a few contributing factors. I began working in television and really loved it. Although my art sold reasonably well, the financial side was terrifying. One thing lead to another, and I found myself exploring many other things: graphic design, flash animation, branding…always central to everything I’ve done is the idea…the thought that triggers it off. I still do freelance work for clients and I still love it. I’ve been very lucky to have some great projects. Some of the people I worked with over past years have contributed to my art in that they are great thinkers, disinterested in the norm, and got me thinking. Do you find that it is harder to get back into the art world now after being away for so long then when you first started? I’m not sure yet. Possibly. I’m very lucky to have the support of Trent Read, and to have work in his gallery. So far, I’m very happy with how things are going. It’s a different time now, I’m also older now, and I will know in time what the response is.
I listen to a lot of music, and when I like a song, I always wonder how it would look. Songs inspire me more than most things. (I’m trying to spend less time making mix CD’s)
You worked for a long time in Multimedia and television as a director and producer, did you see it as an extension of your art at the time? The intention is different. I think that’s what defines art. I began working in television, loved it, loved collecting and arranging people’s stories, the research process and the editing, going to great lengths to find something that missing shot or bit of found sound, so there are some similar processes in broadcast television and art. I’ve never had a huge desire to make video art. I don’t understand why not, since I’ve had over a decade of gathering skills. Not too long ago I put together a sequence of over 700 stills I’d taken. I love the piece. I wrote some lyrics for that too. The concept was ‘pretty ugly’. The 10 minute sequence was edited to music and shown behind a band on stage. I’d like to do another. I gather enough stills to make one per month!
You seem to have disappeared from the art world after 96, was there a reason for the departure and what lead to the decision to distance your self from it?
Although I didn’t exhibit in art galleries for a decade or so, I didn’t for a moment stop working with ideas and collecting thoughts. I now find I have years of collected material, images, experiences, stories, notes, texts and thoughts to translate.
1995: 834 5223
Your latest work “FOREVER” went up at the KNYSNA FINE ART gallery recently in a group show for the opening. It is made from a series of collected notes and objects as well as a limited edition of 10 artists’ books. What is the basic idea behind it and what lead to the decision of show casing relationships in that way? Nostalgia is a powerful weapon. ‘Forever’ is an ongoing series of works. I’m still busy collecting material from people for the project. It’s similar to making a documentary for me, collecting a specific topic, in this case, relationships, and compiling the various stories to create a bigger picture. I love the different types of paper, how they look and feel, the mood in the handwriting. They’re put together a lot like everything I put together, simple, clean and dirty. Music is a huge source of inspiration, as I’ve mentioned. It’s amazing to me, constantly, that most songs made are about relationships. Relationships, obviously, are universal…all the emotions…so similar, time and time again, from person to person. I’ve been given some boxes of notes and love letters collected throughout a lifetime. Reading through such personal material is incredible: secrets, intimacies, fuckups, desires, heartaches. Before your decision to relocate to the Garden route, you got shot through the arm at close range in front of your gate where you lived in JHB. How did this event influence your life and the way you look at the human race? This was the event that set in motion all the recent major changes. After being released from hospital, I went back to the same house, saw it all differently, and there was very little I wanted to keep. So I ended a difficult relationship, relocated to the place I’d wanted to move to since the birth of my son, and began making art again. And I learned about fear, how to grow strong. Next to the birth of my son, this is the single most powerful experience of my life. Does your art in any way help you to deal with certain events in your life? I went to see a therapist when I went through tough times personally. I go into the kitchen and cook when my head becomes overcrowded. But I do think that whatever happens in our lives is translated sometime and somehow in our art, even if subconsciously, and that we can’t separate life and art. I remember reading a piece I liked: ‘Everything we ever do ends up being a portrait of our own face’. I’d rather see art this way than ‘helping to deal with events’ Is “FOREVER” an extension of the piece you did in 92 for the ICA (Institute for contemporary arts) where you collected a bunch of notes from male clients while you were waitressing and exhibited them on a canvas? It looks similar, and I guess the content is even similar, I didn’t realise that until ‘Forever’ was being made. A lot of my work has been made from collecting everyday things. You never studied art yet your first gallery show was at the F.I.G. gallery (owned by Robert Weinek and Wayne Barker) in down town JHB also in 92. What lead to your first exhibition without an art educated back ground? I wanted to do it. A strong, driving desire. Of galleries oper-
ating, I liked F.I.G most at the time, so asked them if they’d show my work. I tend to follow my heart in life, and have been labelled both brave and stupid for it. That night I met Trent read and Kendall Geers, two people who’d play a big role in my work. Did your early travelling in Europe in 1990 ignite your interest in art much or what made you decide to become a full time artist at that time? I always drew and painted as a child, and wrote ideas down for as far back as I remember. Seeing the galleries in Europe in the early 90’s definitely encouraged me to get my work out there. You have made quite a few artist books over the years, one being “Antibody” that was bought for the permanent exhibition at the Johannesburg art gallery in 93. What made you pick this medium or was it purely a decision that allowed you to sell much more work from one concept? I’ve done four books; I seem to bring one out with each body of work. I love sequential pieces, so a book makes sense to me. Sales have never been certain, and certainly never been a reason for making artists’ books. The books just evolve naturally; they seem to be a necessary part of my process. I’m making a new one now. The piece you made “PERFECT” in 94 consisting of a row of lipsticks on a shelf was irreparably damaged and even referred to as being satanic… how on earth do you think such a connection was made and did you ever find out who destroyed it? Writer Pat Califia once said ‘The uninitiated will always sneer’ Your most well known or most controversial piece seems to be “834 5223” which you made in 95 for the Africus Johannesburg Biennale, Museum Africa. A poster of your self in semi bondage was placed on walls of clubs and streets all over town, your name and a phone number was printed on it while a white table with a phone and answering machine recorded the messages in the exhibition space. Why do you think it got so much attention at the time and what is your favourite message that was left on the answering machine? It got attention because it was a good concept, provocative and well executed. It was such an interesting research project for me. My message left on the machine said ’Hi, you’ve reached Belinda; you’ve reached my machine, leave your message’. That piece lives on. After the biennale I got hours of messages transferred to DAT, and made an edit of about half an hour of messages. (We edited surnames and phone numbers out.) I’ve not listened to them since, until today doing this interview for you. What a weird, weird, weird feeling, quite incredible. I don’t know if I felt relieved or was dying to hear more when the B side ended. And then there’s the beautiful answering machine/ cassette tape audio quality. Long live analogue and lo fi. I have a whole lot of edited tapes not yet sold, and want to include them in a show some day soon. Musician, Somerfaan, is going to work with that audio with me. I’d say it’s a remix. Good for a comeback that’s not a comeback.
erase your mistakes
1998: Belinda blignaut featured in the photo comic “koertz kotze en die vrouekolonie”
One of my personal favourites is a piece of yours called “ERASE YOUR MISTAKES” which consisted of a grinder mounted above the title, and a sensor that set the grinder off. What was this alarming interaction with the viewer meant to make them aware of from your point of view? I don’t prescribe how work should be perceived or what effect it should have on a viewer. I can talk endlessly about my inspirations, and may even have reasons that I’m aware of sometimes, but my work has never been intended to make anyone aware of anything. Each person must perceive life and art as they do. In one of your documentaries you made called “In The Duty of the Ancestors” you filmed and took part in a Sangoma initiation ceremony. What was the back ground to this documentary and what made you decide to actually take part in the ceremony your self? It was just a 12 minute insert, nothing in-depth. I neither filmed nor directed, other than in brief research and post prod. The version I was invited to take part in was for the BBC, made by another director. The invitation to participate was partly initiated by the Sangomas, who were interested in having a white girl take part. I saw it as an opportunity to experience ritual on an intense level, and witness the African spiritual world from a very private space. At the time, I was working very much with boundaries, survival, endurance and change. What influences you most when you make art and how do you go about choosing topics for your creations? Life. Do you have any regrets moving away from the art scene when you did? Imagine living life with regrets? With trying to predict unknown things? What is next on the agenda for Belinda Blignaut? Combining sourced/ found objects, paint and audio. And showing as much work as possible.
Do you ever follow politics in this country and do you vote? Social issues move me. Yes, I vote, most of the time. What gets you up in the morning? It’s more often that something gets me up in the night. Ideas. When I dont make them, they wake me up. What are you listening to right now? A compilation including Jesus and Mary Chain, Love and Rockets, Liars, Breeders, Throbbing Gristle, Pussy Galore, Free Kitten, Swans, Slint, Ministry, Mission of Burma. These are the sounds I want for my work this week. It changes all the time. What would you change if you could? Poverty When is the last time you cried? My little boy woke up a few days ago and the first thing he said was ‘I love you mom’ What are you going to do after you have done this interview? Walk down an overgrown path a moment from my home and swim in the sea Is there life after death…? No one ever really dies.
Photography: mark reitz
“ Shit man, everybody has some sort of explanation for why there are so many bands from Bellville. To be honest, I don’t actually know. Maybe it’s because we’re angry or rebelling against the above average suburban life we’ve had up until now ” . How the hell are you guys doing? Rudi: Fucking tired. We’ve been getting down and dirty with some new shit and it’s been taking up all of our time. Why in God’s name is my surname fucking Vermeulen at the top of this interview?
Rudi: It actually only picked up very late. For some reason no one wanted to play the songs on radio until we brought out the music video. If all goes well, and we don’t die, then the album should be launched at Oppikoppi Easter.
Andre: Pretty well. Stress and excitement is a funny combo.
Andre: Well the Dave sessions were some what of a business card for us. I feel it served us pretty well. It was the best we could do at the time in terms of getting a semi decent recording out so that people could just check what we are about.
First of please tell us what you are busy with at the moment? Rudi: Our first full-length album and we also just show a new music video over the weekend
Andre: Well now that im done with Varsity and wat not, im pretty much doing music full time. Song writing, and performing I guess…
Where was the first recording done, and does the name of the EP relate to the legendary John Peel sessions from England in the early 80’s? Rudi: It was done with this geezer called Richard Harriman at his studios in Goodwood. Place was called Rockitdog. Uhm, no it wasn’t actually. We were rehearsing in a home studio in a garage with my ex boss – and his name is Dave. He told us all these old stories from when he used to play drums in this band at Sun City in the 80’s and about these old bands that the government used to ban from going into towns cause they killed pigs on stage (yes, in this country). He helped us out a lot and gave us the space for free. It was also where we wrote all those first tracks and thought it fitting to call it that.
Now the Dave Sessions EP has been out for a while now, how has that been doing for you and when can we expect a full length album from you guys?
Andre: We recorded the Dave Sessions at Rocketdog studios here in Cape Town. The Dave that the album refers to is one of Rudi’s ex-bosses. Basically he has been playing drums for ever and allowed us to jam for free in his garage studio. So
Andre: Busy writing songs for, and recording the new album. Explain your work to us and what you do? Rudi: You mean music wise? We just like to make music that we feel is cool and that comes somewhere from inside of us. I just quit my job as a copywriter to make this band work so let’s see what happens.
we only thought it fitting to name it after the man that allowed us to develop in his garage. One of your latest tracks “Quite Over stared” is featured on the new Bellville Rock City compilation. What is it about Bellville that has allowed so many relevant bands to originate from there, what is in the water around there or should I say whiskey? Rudi: Shit man, everybody has some sort of explanation for why there are so many bands from Bellville. To be honest, I don’t actually know. Maybe it’s because we’re angry or rebelling against the above average suburban life we’ve had up until now. Maybe it’s just a big statement we’re trying to question by trying to find alternative ways to make a living and impact on the world instead of becoming lawyers or doctors. I think these feelings people start having (of apathy and arrogance and the like) is pretty infectious. Someone say something about Manchester? I think the next place people should look out for is Pretoria. They got the same thing going on there. Andre: Im not from Bellville so I wouldn’t really know. But what ever it is, im glad to be apart of it. You will be playing some gigs in JHB and Pretoria soon, who will you be playing with and how do you think you will be received up there? Rudi: We’re playing with a host of bands including KIDOFDOOM, Isochronous, Fire Through the Window and Wrestlerish. We hope it goes ok. We’ve been getting some radio play up there as of late for the new song and The Swing made it pretty high up some of the charts. So let’s see what happens when we get on stage. Andre: Well we have played there before and it was a great experience and this time we hoping people know us a bit better and have been keeping track of what we are doing down here. There has been some hype surrounding it which is never a bad sign. The band has been playing extensively in CT, when can we expect more gigs around the country or maybe even a nationwide tour…? We’ll be on a pretty big tour for the album launch up north and then back in CT. Then hopefully when Rupert (drummer – he studies photography) has some holiday go play other spots like Bloemfontein and PE and Durbs. Andre: Well after the album launch on the 24th of April we will be doing a tour around the country in May. So yeah, I think we all excited bout that. Are you signed to any label as of yet, what is the deal with Rhythm they seem to promote and scoop up most of the talented bands from that side of the country? Rudi: The new album is coming out on Rhythm. They are based in Bellville and Albert (owner) has a tight ear to the ground. He is always checking out new bands and how hard they are working. He is also not afraid to take a chance on something that might be a tad off centre. Cause we just got told by 5fm that we’re ‘too Indie’ and most record labels won’t even look at you twice if you don’t get radio play on that station.
Andre: Yeah, Rhythm has helped us out a lot and now we are signed to the label. They are a great label in my opinion and seem to be extremely involved in what ever projects they take on which is nice Which other bands do you enjoy watching live who would you like to play with around the country? Rudi: Wow, there are loads. I personally like watching KIDOFDOOM; VCK is always a good performance… There are loads more. We’re also pretty open to who we play with. Can’t really think of anyone off the top of my head though. Andre: I really enjoyed watching Isochronus when they were down here in cape town and we are gonna be playing with them soon at Mercury. Another one I really enjoyed live was Tidal Waves. They good fun and fuck-off talented. Now from what I have noticed in CT most of the bands and their fans seems to wear some sort of uniform and hairstyle… do you think that that needs to change or do you think it is slowly evolving into a new trend or style that will be authentically be South African? Rudi: Fuck that shit. I haven’t seen anyone dressing like us (or at least I don’t think I have) but there is a lot of that kind of behaviour going down. It has become a tad generic with the skinny jeans vibe but that I think is just a progression we picked up from Camden (or some other place people perceive as being cool). Hopefully somewhere down the line we can evolve our own vibe and maybe someone in Sweden picks up on it and it becomes bigger than China. Andre: Ive never really understood fashion or trends, but it is an interesting thing to watch as it evolves or changes. But I do feel that we as South Africans are slowly but surely moving into our own style in all senses of the word. But its gonna take some time I heard its easier to get into skinny jeans if you shave your legs… do think that guys with fat bums and skinny legs should just not wear them at all? Rudi: It might actually be… Not too clued up with what can and can’t be done with shaved legs though. I totally think they shouldn’t even try. It’s like over weight girls wearing stuff that shows their stomachs. It, and as unfortunate as it might be, just doesn’t work. Andre: Um, for sure there are a few body types that just don’t suit them. You had a really fresh approach to your video “The Swing” how is it doing and how did it do with the MK awards? Rudi: It’s been doing really well. It pretty much put us on the national map if you want to call it that. It also got picked up by MTV Base now and they trying to push it to MTV for the rest of Europe. We’re still waiting on the MK Awards stuff but it has already helped a shit load just being nominated. Andre: Well the MK awards are yet to be announced but we were really happy with the video and how it did. Who was behind the concept for the video and how long did it take to film? Rudi: It was kind of a team effort between us and Bryan Little and the rest of the guys at Fly On The Wall. The budget we
Photography: mark reitz
Photography: mark reitz
Photography: mark reitz
got from Levi’s was pretty tight (in film terms) so we had to make it work with a good idea. We had so much rain on the day of the shoot it ended up only being like 4 hours worth of actual shooting. There were things we planned but couldn’t happen because of the rain interference. It came out alright though. Andre: Well Brain form Fly on the Wall was responsible for the concept and we had one rainy day to shoot it which ended up in only bout 4 hours of shooting time. It seemed like the old man in the band (Rudi) had trouble keeping up with the revolving camera… do you think that the fact that he is always photographed with a cigarette in his mouth has anything to do with it? Rudi: I’m camera shy. Andre: Haha. I always take the piss out of Rudi. But in those two fields im all out of wit. Give us a breakdown of the members, what they do and where they are from? Rudi: Well, we kind of lost a member. Wouter (keys), who is from Paarl, has a pretty serious family business that he is working for and playing in a band just wasn’t really a viable option. So he has left us know and we’re going to replace him with a sampler. Then Reg Nel (bass) and Rupert Nel (drums) are brothers from Bellville. They went to school with me and that’s where I met them. Andre just kind of floated into our lives – met him when we were both on tour together with Fokofpolisiekar. I was roadie for them and he was taking a holiday with the guys who were selling the merchandise. I read online that you are firmly set in the belief that a bottle of red wine can solve anything and that making music is the most fun you can have. Now the bottle of red wine goes without saying… but making music is not always fun,
when is not fun? Rudi: That thing is outdated. There is a new one on the way. Andre: I think song writing can get extremely frustrating sometimes. After a while u are pretty creatively drained and nothing seems to be working. Irritation seems to take its place then. Now I have heard so many people compare your music to this and that, how do you feel about the comparisons and do you actually want to sound like another band besides yourself. Where would you say the roots lie of the Ashtray Electric sound? Rudi: I think most people completely miss the plot sometimes. We’re not set on sounding like any one in particular either. Sure, there are bands out there we love to listen to and that we adore but there is no plan of becoming the South African Editors or whatever. The roots of our sound are pretty diverse. I mean, Rupert never listened to anything else than Metallica when he was a teenager. And Andre hates the music that I was into when I was his age. So it’s a bit of a group dynamic I guess. Andre: Of course one would like to have no comparisons, but unfortunately you can’t escape it and will always be influenced by others as you were growing up. I think we have strong ties to the likes of Interpol, Editor and Placebo. How would you compare the JHB and the CT music scene, what would you say are the key differences or similarities? Rudi: They like metal and screamo type stuff more than we do. Further than that I have no real knowledge about the JHB scene. Andre: People. Cape Town is actually a town while JHB is a city. I think here it’s the same people the whole time which can makes things feel saturated where as in JHB I feel the fact that there are more people there, it tends to relax things down and leaves some breathing space. If that made any sense
Photography: mark reitz
The dave sessions ep.
Mr Pienaar, how does a man from Wellington with a 6 handicap in Golf a Double Major B.Sc. in Chemistry and Bio-Chemistry end up as a front man for a band, are you capable of making “weapons of mass destruction”…? Andre: Ha ha. Well they never found the weapons of mass destruction, so know one really knows wat they are. So i would say yes. Ha ha. No, probably not anything too serious but im sure i could have some fun in a school chemistry class.
and Hellacopters – By the Grace of God the entire morning.
I see that one of your middle names is Montgomery… where does that stem from and do people sometimes call you “Monty” for short? Andre: Well basically my father is strongly Afrikaans and I have two older sisters which got no middle names so the moment a son was born I got slapped with all the family names. Montgomery is my Oumas maiden name. People have tried to make the “Monty” thing stick but it hasn’t really ever worked… What is next on the agenda for Ashtray Electric? Rudi: To make this album we’re busy with a good one. Andre: Just to Launch the Album and promote it across country. Nothing too fancy Do you ever follow politics in this country and do you vote? Rudi: I do a bit. I like checking out what kak Julius Malema causes. He is a bit of a nutter. Also loved Helen Zille’s Botox idea. Yes, this year we’re all voting. Andre: Rarely What gets you up in the morning? Rudi: Coffee. Andre: The Stupid February sun. I hate summer! What are you listening to right now? Rudi: I’ve been between Ian Brown – The Greatest
Andre: Cricket commentators What would you change if you could? Rudi: Maybe everything, maybe nothing. It’s a hard one this… Andre: My talent of procrastination When is the last time you cried? Rudi: Last year when my girlfriend decided to ditch me for a game ranger. Andre: Um, probably bout two weeks ago What are you going to do after you have done this interview? Rudi: Going to smoke a cigarette. Andre: Try write some tunes and then go chill with Greg and B at the African Attachment Is there life after death…? Rudi: Are you a doos? Andre: I seriously doubt it
Photography: louis vorster
WIHAN VAN ZYL
how to make your own snake skin belt
Well you will need a hand, you cant expect to go and try on your own, you might loose a ear or something... but yes those fuckers are very strong and you need lotta guts a mutherfucker knife and you should be okay, I guess you should jump on his back and stab in throat ” . How the hell are you doing? Except for my brain tumour, I guess my left nut is okay tanks. First of please tell us what you are busy with at the moment? Roek ‘n entjie, en se hos. (building my first double story house in Hartenbos). Explain your work to us and what you do? Im into steelframe construction, houses and shit. Where did you find that snake and how did you kill it? I found the little fuck beneath the poter loo.. the fucker, wanted to wrestle my snake, and ended up loosing bad!! What kind of snake was it? Puffadder What was the most difficult part of skinning of the fucker? Well, there was blood and shit all over, so I guess the most difficult part was to see what the fuck you are actually doing. How would you apply the skin to the leather when you make the belt? Well, I have to hand knit some detail onto the skin, then sow it onto I leather belt, I got from me gran.. muhu huhhahah…
How would you go about killing a crocodile, is there a lot of wrestling involved? Well you will need a hand, you cant expect to go and try on your own, you might loose a ear or something... but yes those fuckers are very strong, you need lotta guts a mutherfucker knife and you should be okay, I guess you should jump on his back and stab him in the throat. Would you eat the rest of the crocodile, I believe the meat is not that bad? Why waist a decent meal like that, croc spitbraai is best. Sheep is for pussies.. Did you eat the snake? I tried some of the tail part, the rest was bit bloody from the skinning… Would you consider making a belt from a baboon’s tail? I would, with the fur, fuck yeah, and some teeth and hand detailing. Does a Snake belt help with your libido? Well, umm.. I guess a real man makes the belt, not other way around.. What gets you up in the morning? My alarm, and some hot sex.
Did you make a shooter out of snake blood, poison and Cane to inherit the power of the snake afterwards like the old school hunters? I think after a bottle of Cape to Rio snake blood aint shit, for venom, I had some all over me, and I still believe that cane is more lethal.
What are you listening to right now? How did you know I wasn’t watching 7de laan? Im listening to I wanna be your dog at the moment. On shuffle..
Rumour has it that you are going to make crocodile head shoes if you can find two heads from two young crocs for your foot size? See, now that is the difficult part, George crocodile farm is closed, I sneaked in there a couple of times, just to go wrestle them strong fuckers.. now,
When is the last time you cried? Umm.. oo doo stress. Holley… I don’t really cry.
I have to try and find a way into Outdshoorn Croc farm, which is electrified and barb wired. I will find my way in there you fucks!! I need my boots fo sho..
Is there life after death…? I sure as hell hope so, I don’t wanna rot in this filthy spatted, pissed, shitted on earth of ours. Do you?
What would you change if you could? That there would I would change the song playing now, fuck knows what it is, but to lazy to stand up, tired as shit.
What are you going to do after you have done this interview? Drink some more beer, put some oldschool shit on the player, work on belt and go to bed.
1. ok first of all, I ain’t no animal cruelty fucker but I don’t give no shit for some killing fucker on the loose, that was my first thought about this demon fuck who may wonder around and bite some innocent child. So I did my cause for the survival of the human race.
2. Anyway, so I found this fucker under a porter loo. Who in gods name lives under a porter loo? that was the first sign of weakness I saw in this devil. So I thought. I had one “graaf” (shovel) in my right hand and 26 workers running for their lives so to cut cost af lost labour and the chance fatal attact, I just had to do it….
3. Then a thought jumped into my mind. What a beautifull belt this fat fuck would make….muhuhahahaha.. down you go biaaaattcchchhhhhh! I fear no evil.
4. I decided not to cut its head off at first. To my dissapointment it was a puff adder, the laziest snake around...
5. But in my drunken state and with a snake in my 2nd story flat i was not about to take any chances so I gave it one last one stab through the head, “die motherfucker!” It was a night of lonesome horror and a tragic ending for my poor friend.
6. Cut through and tare the skin from the neck down.
7. Take venom glands with your hands and rip them off as you watch the poisen seep into the newspaper. Cut the off the tale so that the skin can easily slip ooff the end of the body.
8. This is just a picture of a lust full idiot wanting to braai a puff adder on his electrical braaier..
9. Skinned.. a stench of a rat eating slimy shit fills the room. Donâ€™t mess with me you fuck, I eat cunts like you... (maybe in the next issue)
10. Split the skin in half so you have two equal lenghts.
11. Every layer must be properly salted to avoid stink and rot. Leave for 2 days, till properly dried..
11. Shake and remove salt from skin. Next step is to sow it to a old leather belt, there you go.. congratulations!!! You are the proud owner of your very own Puff adder belt !!! Now fuck off and leave me alone. Good night x
Photography: wihan van zyl
Mark Mothersbaugh Interview Written by Andreas Trolf // Interview & Photos: Andreas Trolf
; So much of the world is petty and nondescript and repulsive people are angry and garish, frightened and obsessed with triviality. But then sometimes, rarely, things happen and events push us to be better than we were before. Some of us can look at the world and see what’s wrong and what’s right. Or even just see the essential absurdity and arbitrariness of all of it. And what do you do when you can no longer ignore the absurdity? You point it out. You make fun of it. And maybe things will be slightly less absurd and ugly than they were before . A few weeks ago Toad, Justin and I drove to Los Angeles to meet Mark Mothersbaugh. I was gut-sick with fanning out for every minute of the trip. Even when we stopped to skate a pool in Gilroy I was thinking about what to say. I wondered, would he want to talk about Devo with me? Could I look him in the face knowing he’d donned a child’s mask and become Booji Boy? I wanted to ask him about Devo’s role in Human Highway, the movie Neil Young made, but I would forget to ask. What about his soundtrack work for about a million commercials, TV shows, and films (notably those of Wes Anderson)? He’d probably be so over discussing that stuff. I bet people just come up to him all day and are like, “Dude, Devo! Righteous! I love that whip it song!” But the real fans must be even worse. I keep imagining that I’ll come across like that Chris Farley character who, whenever he meets someone famous, goes, “Oh man, remember that one time when you were in that movie and you did that thing? That was awesome!”
Shit, I don’t want to be one of those hackneyed sycophant writers that gushes exorbitant praise on anyone they happen to be writing about. But neither do I want to let an opportunity like this get away without satisfying my curiosity a bit. Besides, after having listened to Devo for the better part of my life, I feel like Mark Mothersbaugh kind of owes me something. And isn’t that what all of us want from our heroes of stage and screen and keyboard at the end of the day? A little recognition of all the hours we’ve spent obsessing over their work. Is that too much to ask? Maybe a lock of hair, too. But I don’t want to sound weird or anything. I did leave my energy dome back in San Francisco, which was no easy feat. We got to the Scion Installation gallery late in the afternoon after getting seriously lost in the maze of Southern California industrial backwaters. The gallery sits inconspicuously on a residential street in Culver City, itself another in the list of inconspicuous Los Angeles sub-divisions, and is tended by Evan
Cerasoli of the Lab 101 gallery just up the road. Mothersbaugh was there setting up for a show of his rugs, entitled Rugs During Wartime and Peacetime. Yeah, Mark Mothersbaugh (of Devo) makes rugs. He also tells awesome stories that go around and around, convoluted as snakes, that pull back this quirky curtain and give you a glimpse of what it was like to be there in the moment making weird history. I started by telling him that I was gonna pester him about Devo. I let him know in advance what I cared about. Somehow, though, he got me excited about art. Bummer. Mark Mothersbaugh: I’m excited about this now, because this is brand new. It all goes back to Devo (laughter), no I’m kidding. But it actually does, in a way, because the one thing that everyone in the band has determined is that everything we’ve been doing since we started Devo has been permutations on the same theme. So, you know, it’s all kind of Devo; it’s all Devo. But this show is, for me, it’s kind of exciting because... I only in the last year decided I was going to show these rugs. I’ve been making them since about 2002, so like about five years, and I made one or two rugs about 12 years ago. I made an entry way rug for my recording studio, and I like them and you walk across them every morning and you go, “Ah, there’s the logo!” and then you go up the stairs and I’ve always thought they were nice. And about five or six years ago I was doing gallery shows and I just kind of was like, “Ok, paper and canvas... “ and was just kind of thinking about mediums to work in, and I decided that I needed some rugs at my house because I put in a wood floor in my house and so I needed a rug to go over the top of it because it was too noisy once I went from having this funky carpet down and I ripped it up and I put this bamboo stuff down, which was kind of inexpensive at the time, and then it became really noisy so I put a couple of rugs down. And I used my own design and they’re functional, but it’s just nice to see something—I went shopping for rugs and couldn’t find anything I liked—so I put some artwork down, and it was kind of nice to walk into a room and instead of looking at a wall for artwork, you were looking down at the floor and interacting with it when you stood on top of if. My daughter learned how to walk on one of my first carpets that I made—it’s in the show and, we tried cleaning it the best we could, but there’s even puke stains and baby food stains on... (Mark’s phone rings, he’s got a Devo ringtone. He’s maybe the only person in the world I could imagine getting away with using his own music as a ringtone)... (into telephone) Hi! (I leave out the one-sided phone call.) Ah marriage! It’s a beautiful idea, in theory. What’s great, I realize, is that Mark is still an awkward nerd at heart. Nothing he does will betray this image that I’ve been carrying around for years and years. I like the idea of it being just part of the room as opposed to something being specially framed, and kind of not as connected. Once I saw my rug there with a baby stroller on top of it and toys strewn on it, it made me happy. I liked my art interacting with real life, and so I got excited about it and started doing a lot of rugs. A year ago, my wife, who’s also in the entertainment business—she’s an agent for film composers—I was saying, “You know, I’m getting tired of the film business,” and we were talking about doing something else and so we became partners with somebody in a house wares company. And I’d already been doing these rugs and so it seemed like a natural thing that we would do. And so, probably, we’re going to make them for sale besides just doing gallery shows. So it’s kind of an exciting show for me because it’s going into territory I’m not familiar with.
Kind of demystifying the fine arts market? Making it more accessible? You know, it’s like what happened was we needed some plates for our house. And I was looking around at plates and they all sucked. Plates, if you think about it, they’re not that interesting most of the time. And I saw some plates in Wired magazine or something, like “Here’s a few things you should buy,” and so I was looking, I said, “Oh, plates! I need those!” And they were Rorschach prints; this woman had done Rorschach prints on plates, and that’s kind of like what I do with my photographs. I don’t know if you know that, but I do gallery shows with photography too, I could show you some of that, which doesn’t really have anything to do with this show that much, but it was kind of similar, the Rorschach things, and so we bought some plates from her and then we looked at other stuff she did and we liked it. Then we got in a conversation with her, and she had a company she’d started and it had won some prizes for design, but she needed partners. She was swamped filling out orders and things, and we were just trying to start to get in the business so we thought, “Well, we’ve got something to offer each other.” So we became partners with a company called Wallteria Living. It’s kind of interesting. We’ll see what happens. Hopefully, Devo hat-shaped toilet bowls; things like that. I’m not sure what’s going to happen next but you can only hope... Right here, seriously at this moment, I kind of cringed. He’d lost me already. Was his humor this dry? Was he being funny re: the Devo toilet? Was this a kind of meta-irony? Ask yourself that before deciding if any of my questions came off as critical. Do you feel that this sort of consumerbased art conflicts at all with the critique of consumer culture that you were doing with Devo? Not at all. In fact, we used to get criticized back in the early days of Devo because, to us, what we were about, back before it was very cool to be into merchandise, we thought of our album cover as a place where we could do the inner-liner sleeves... as a matter of fact, if you look at any of the old Devo records, our inner-liner sleeves were always a merchandise page. We thought of it like the back page of a comic book where you’d see all the things you could order. Smith-Johnson novelties, stink bombs, baking powder-propelled rockets and X-Ray specks and all that kind of stuff. I loved that page of a comic book every time and I always looked at that stuff and sometimes would order it, and the Devo albums, we wanted them to be like a Cracker Jack box where you’d have a prize in there. I remember in 1978 when we put out our first album, and somehow our manager also managed Neil Young, and I remember Neil Young going, “You guys, I don’t know what you’re doing bringing merchandise into rock ‘n roll—that’s so uncool!” “Of course now, all these years later, he sells a ton of t-shirts and DVDs and things. But at the time he thought it was kind of sacrilegious, and we’re like, “You don’t understand! This is all fun! Rock ‘n Roll is better than that!” It’s like, everything that turned you on when you were a kid, you should still be able to be part of it. So for us, we thought the merchandise just had to be smart instead of stupid. So we tried to do smart merchandise, and I’m still trying to do smart merchandise. That’s what that is. At least we did cool things. We did the red energy dome, which was useful besides being an icon—it was a useful icon. You probably know this very well, but your orgone energy goes out the top of your head (At this point I realized he was being 100% sincere and I truly had to bite my lip a bit to keep from giggling. But still, I was in awe of the guy.) and it dissipates out the top, but if you wear an energy dome it recycles that energy. It comes back down and showers back down on you and, among other things, you remain manly, shall we say, for maybe another 150 years of your life, probably. I think that’s a safe prediction to say that energy domes—if you wore them
constantly, night and day—which I don’t do, but there are people out there who do, not too many of them but there are some. We get e-mails from them, so we know they’re out there, those people will probably live about an extra 150 years because of all that orgone energy that they’re saving and not wasting away. // Setting up Mark’s show Rugs During Wartime and Reacetime which ran Nov - Dec 2007 @Scion Gallery in Culver City, CA. You’ve always been involved with art, and it’s obvious to see the total aesthetics of the music and art are so inextricably linked, but how do you see the art world these days? Everything seems to be coming to a head in terms of conspicuous consumption and scores of billionaire art collectors, so how do you see your visual art fitting into that? I don’t care about the billionaire buyers, that’s more of the cocaine days I think. And some of those artists I like their stuff; I love Jeff Koontz, I think his stuff’s great. All the Michael Jackson and Bubbles and his stuff with Cicciolina, you know... so I mean, I can’t say that I hate the artwork but as far as what I try to do with my artwork, it’s totally the antithesis. About seven years ago when I started being really aggressive about doing gallery shows again, because I hadn’t done them since the 80s, I went to Juxtapoz Magazine. First off, Robert Williams was a friend of mine when we were younger and we did gallery shows together, but I just really liked the magazine. I liked its interest in street art, in comic book art, in graffiti art, and skate art, and youth-oriented art. And it was kind of like, “Fuck the money people! We’re here to talk about what’s really important in the art world,” and although Juxtapoz doesn’t cover the whole art world—they only cover one kind of thing—it was a doorway for me. Instead of looking in the back of Art Forum and not finding anything interesting in the way of galleries there to contact, people that would have seen my stuff and would say, “What is that? My lawyers and bankers and dentists and investment marketing analysts aren’t going to want to invest in that kind of stuff, they want abstract art, impressionistic art.” So we didn’t have anything. And there were all these galleries in the back of Juxtapoz; that was the good thing about Juxtapoz. Whatever limitations it has, being overly obsessive about dice and Bettie Page and some of the stuff where you’re just sort of like, “Okay, we’ve seen this issue for five years now! We’ve seen the same shit already!” But they had all these galleries advertising. For $20, a little gallery in Wisconsin, a couple guys who just got out of school and they were still excited about art, you know, they’re like, “We know we’re going to get trumped by the real world, but before that happens we’re going to take the last bit of money we’ve got and open a gallery in some shit section of Minneapolis or Cincinnati or something, and we’re going to do a gallery for the art that we like.” And they would show graffiti artists and they would show comic book artists and Kid Robot-style toy artists and things like that. And I’d call them up and it would be symbiotic; we were good for each other. They’d say they like my artwork and for me it was a chance to be around people that were still excited about the art world. I was going to be showing at galleries where people were thinking of art as something exciting and important and not just as a business investment. I did my first show a couple of months after 9/11 and I’d been thinking about it and I’m going to name my show Homefront Invasions, and what I meant by that was that I wanted my artwork to go into people’s houses around the world and I wanted to go into their living rooms and hang across from their television set so they’d be sitting there eating popcorn or smoking a doobie, or whatever they did at night when they got home, and there’d be a piece of art that they could look at. Or in their bedrooms,
wherever it was going to go. And the people I wanted it to go to were young people that are still excited about art and feel like I felt in 1975 when I was first doing Devo and we’d stay up all night just trying to get one thing right on a little shitty tape recorder. The quality was going to be terrible anyhow, but it was so important for us to record Mongoloid or something that we would stay up all night working on it. We weren’t getting paid, we were just excited about art. And so I started showing at these galleries and I met a lot of really great people, and so I priced the stuff—I thought, we’ll I’m not going to do original paintings because I’d have to sell them for so much, so what I started doing was taking images that I’d painted or drawn and I would make prints; I’d scan them and put them into the computer and I would add things to them, and then I would make a limited edition of three prints. I’d keep one for myself and I would sell two of them and I priced them as cheap as I could. And then I went one step better, I was kind of worried because I know that the last time I bought a piece of art at a gallery and they framed it for me—and I remember buying a piece of art that was like $700 but the frame cost me $850 for like a piece this big—so I thought we’re going to defuse that right away; we’re going to make it so cheap, I bought frames out in the Valley and I had them frame things up—like 300 pieces of art at once—so that I could get them super cheap and people could come into the gallery and they could buy a piece of art for somewhere between $100 and $1,000 tops. But you know, a lot of $300 and $400 price range pieces. So like some guy that was at school, or just out of school, could go, “Let’s see... I could either buy a keg for a party this weekend or I could buy my first piece of art.” And so a lot of people told me that the first piece of art they bought in the past eight years was one of my prints, and I made them cheap for that reason. To me, when you talk about the high-end of the art world, about who Damien Hirst is and his diamond-encrusted skull—and I love the idea that he couldn’t sell it and he panicked and he bought it himself for some mysterious amount of money with some investors, so who knows what they really paid for it? Probably nothing. But I love the idea that it went so far that even the pigs of the world choked on it. Like the joke had backfired? That’s what happened. I thought that was great. But that’s something else. I guess that’s an art in its own way, and that is related to the old world of art. So I think a gallery, like Scion for instance, or Pulp in New York City, or any of the hundred galleries around the country that are small and are just a couple of guys that have a place about a fourth the size of this or smaller and they don’t even know if they’re going to be able to pay rent for the rest of the year. They’re just hanging on and a couple of sales would be all it would take. I’m good for them because those are the kind of galleries that don’t get any respect in their hometown; the people there go, “You’re not a real gallery. You’re just a bunch of kids on skateboards.” They can get the local newspaper to write an article that says, “Mark Mothersbaugh from Devo, and he wrote the music for Rugrats and Wes Anderson,” so then they’re a little more legit. So it actually worked out really good for both of us with a lot of these galleries. I kind of helped them and they helped me. And for me it’s just great; I like the joy of being around the people in Raleigh, North Carolina or Orlando, Florida that still really give a shit about art and still are really turned on by it. Do you feel that’s a conscious use of your fame in another medium in order for these galleries to attract media attention when they’re not otherwise getting attention? Is it manipulative? Is it manipulative? Yes. And it’s consciously manipulative and it’s done specifically for the purpose to get people who are stu
pid and lazy and don’t want to get away from their desks for a little, dumpy gallery because they’re like, “These people don’t deserve recognition.” I think it’s a legitimate way to get people into a gallery. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. And you know what’s going to happen? They’re going have this old guy—Mark Mothersbaugh, you know, from Devo—one month and they’ll get some reporters down, but the next month what’s going to happen is they’re going to have more kids from Detroit or whatever city they’re in, and the newspaper this time will go, “Oh yeah, they already had a show where they couldn’t fit everybody in; they had to turn people away last month. So let’s go see what’s going on there.” And you know what? A lot of those people that come down for a show to see Mark Mothersbaugh, they’ll come down the next week and they’ll see what the local guys are doing. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Definitely not. Do you see any type of conscious continuation of the themes you guys touched on in Devo in your artwork and in the film work you’ve done? Oh yeah. You know what? There’s different kinds of artists and I think there’s a large contingency of artists in the world that make their big statement, whatever it is, when they’re young. When they’re young angry men. And people that still stay in touch with that, they do permutations on a theme. That’s what I think. And I think that Jerry and Bob and Bob and I are still Devo, whether we want to be or not. I think everything we do, it’s still through that filter. We’re still about the same things we were about then. Devo was really angry and upset with stupidity, and we were anti-stupidity and we would point it out everywhere we saw it. Especially when it was in places of power, like our government or in social and cultural arenas. We were pro-information. We are four kids finding out about what was really going on in the world—what was going on in their world—and encouraging them to make decisions based on information rather than just mindlessly saying, “Oh well, I saw a poster and my Dad said I should join the army and fight for George Bush.” Maybe you should think about that and think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, and have a lot of information—more than just, “Oh, there’s a boogeyman over there who’s got nuclear bombs and he’s about to attack the United States!” You know, whatever lies George Bush used so that he could line the pockets of his cronies. He’s the biggest thief we’ve ever had in the United States; he is the president that has stolen more from the American people than any other president. It’s kind of amazing what he’s managed to do in the name of freaking people out; scaring people into believing that there was a boogeyman that wants to come over and kill all of us. And he’s made it even worse. He’s created all sorts of boogeymen that all want to come get us. America’s never been as hated as it is now. If you go around the world, more people hate us now than they ever did. He’s squandered the world’s goodwill in five years. He squandered your money. You’re a lot younger than I am, and you’ll be paying for the bombs and the ships that went over there to blow people up and just explode in the sky, you know, you’ll be paying for that for decades to come. Which, if anything, points out the continued relevance of Jocko-Homo and the pamphlets that inspired that, which came out in the 1920s and you guys discovered them 40 or 50 years later. It just continues to be relevant, both as a cultural touchstone or even a parody... Yeah. Well, when we first started saying, “We don’t think we’re watching evolution take place, we’re watching de-evolution.”
Back in the 70s, people would get really upset and go, “You guys are assholes! You really have a bad attitude about the world! You guys are fucked up!” Now when you say to people the world’s devolving and things are falling apart, they just turn their ball cap and take a hit off a joint and go, “Woohoo! We’re going down!” and they know it. They know we’re going down. But there’s even new scientific theories of de-evolution being advanced these days. For instance, there was a report on the BBC a few weeks ago suggesting that humans are devolving actually, and that humans are going to split in the next 10,000 years into two sub-species... Oh, wait a minute! I don’t think that’s a real story! It might be a parody. The writer kind of likened it to H.G. Wells and the Eloi and the Morlocks... I think that had to be a fake story (laughter). Like with the food we’re eating and all the computer assistance that we get, we’re forgetting how to do things for ourselves and we’re just going to devolve and lose all sorts of abilities. Go back and look for the source (laughter); I think that’s got to be a fake story. I read it and I couldn’t (laughter)... it’s kind of... it’s the English version of something comparable to The Onion. I don’t know where I read it. It was like the London Financial Times or something. I read it somewhere and it was a pretty good story. Can I ask you something that... No! I mean yes... It might be a bit critical. Hearing Devo songs in advertisements... Yes. How and why? Yes. Specifically the Target commercial where they seem to completely miss the point of “Beautiful World” and then the Swiffer ad... Yeah, the Swiffer one. That was the one, for me... but you’ve got to understand that... here’s my feeling about that—I grew up during the time of the hippies and so the one thing I took away from the hippies, and also Jerry and I were protesters, I joined Students for a Democratic Society—communist youth—we were idealistic. We thought ending the war in Vietnam and Cambodia was important and we thought communists had ideas. I know better about communists now. But one thing we learned is that rebellion is obsolete. The punks should have learned from the hippies. Rebellion is obsolete. The hippies just became commodified by big business; they just got sucked in and became hip capitalists. And the same thing happened with the punks—they just turned into a fashion statement and became irrelevant. The only true way of change in this country, especially because now technology has just allowed Big Brother to become stronger than he ever was, I mean they can pinpoint any conversation they want, anywhere in the world they can just zoom in from outer space. They can come down and they can drop a bomb on the four of us here right now if it had some purpose for them. I know that sounds paranoid, but the truth is carrying this thing around (indicates cell phone) is like taking your own Lo-Jack for the government with you. You trade off freedom for the freedom of not having a cable on your phone. But... where were we going? What did we start off talking about? The ad songs? Yeah. Okay. So our feeling in
Devo is that subversion is the only way to really change anything. If you want to learn something from the Vietnam era, look at who the winners were. And that was the Viet Cong. They had the least amount of resources and they made the maximal usage of them. They had the most to lose. Yeah, they had the most to lose, but they won. They won. It was guerrilla techniques and subversion, and that’s how you change things in this culture. And when I first started doing commercials I sued to put subliminal messages in them all, and then it became too easy but every now and then I think I’m going to do a gallery show because I have about 50 commercials that I put subliminal messages in every single one of them. You mean like the BMW one? Yeah. It just got to be too easy, and I only got caught once really. Which one was that? It never came out because I had to take it out. The film editor for Red Car, the editing house in Hollywood, they told me they were going to tell Daley and Associates. They said, “You know, you put something in there that isn’t part of their message so you should... “ and it was just something one of those things from the B.F. Shattuck pamphlet on de-evolution, the JockoHomo pamphlet, it was just one of the absurdist rules about laying an egg, or give birth to one, and so shall your species survive. But I put things in like “question authority,” and “candy is bad for you,” or “don’t trust your parents all the time.” Stuff like that, and it was amazing because people would sit there and go, “Yeah! Yeah!” and there would be like a Keds commercial for Keds tennis shoes and you go (hums a jaunty tune!) and you’d hear “something is stupid.” And Bob Casale and me would get really embarrassed, and even if I knew nobody could hear it and nobody was paying attention to it my ears would turn red. And he said, “You always give it away! You always turn bright red right when the subliminal message... “ But people would sit there tapping their pens on the table, these guys from the ad agency, and they’d be going, “Yeah Keds!” And I even forget what the theme was for Keds because I’ve done so many hundreds of commercials now. But so that’s how the Devo commercials came about. We decided to go ahead and let them [the songs] go into things. We though the thing that could happen is that people would become more aware of Devo. The fact that somebody uses Devo in a commercial, in the first place, to me is ironic and it means that they just thought of Devo as a kick-ass dance band or something. They never really considered what we were talking about. So we had a record company that worked hard to keep it that way. They didn’t understand us, and they didn’t like it when we told them what we were about. So they would put out press releases saying, “Those quirky, whacky... “ They used the word “quirky” all the time to make it sound like anything we had to say was either nonsense or unimportant. But we just did what we did. And as far as commercials, I thought “Beautiful World” was used ironically in a really great way. I wouldn’t have given Target that much credit to use it ironically. Yeah. That’s the thing, I don’t think they even know what they did. And they’re oblivious to it because they’re just these people that are selling tons of shit so they don’t even pay attention. So that was fine with me. There are other things that we did that I think fall under more subversive categories... we did something last year with Disney called Devo 2.0. I wanted to ask you about that. When we first started Devo, we didn’t think of ourselves as the
musicians in the band. Jerry, my brothers, and I, we wanted to make films. This was before Mtv. We had seen laser disks. In 1974 we saw a picture on Popular Science magazine and we were like, “Laser Disks! They’re going to kill rock n’ roll—that’s what we want to do! We want to be part of that!” They were the same size and shape as a vinyl LP, but they had pictures along with the music. And so we wanted to make a product for that, so we started, on all of our songs, making a film to go with it and we just kept preaching about sound and vision and music television was going to come along and it was going to change everything. We were naïve enough to not realize that when Mtv came along it was going to be this sinister Big Brother, the sinister left arm of record companies, and it would just allow record companies to last another 20 years longer than they should have. And they just made stupid videos. Most of them were awful and moronic and had nothing to do with what we thought we were doing when we were making films. But the Devo 2.0 thing, what I liked about it is that we got these little kids to sing our songs—we played all the instruments but the little kids sang and made a little band together—and now there’s four and five and six-year old kids that are listening to Devo songs and they’re reciting the lyrics. Just in my own house, I have a three and a six-year old, and they’ll sit in the car and they’ll go, “Devo, Daddy!” That record. The youngest girl, I adopted her two years ago, so she’s been to a lot of Devo shows. She even, one night when my wife wasn’t paying attention, she ran out on stage and was like, “Daddy!!!” So she knows that Dad’s in Devo and she’s been to a lot of Devo shows. The older daughter, I just adopted her about five months ago, and so she only spoke Chinese when I first met her. She now speaks English pretty great, great enough that she’s now in Kindergarten. About a month ago we played at Newport Beach and she came to that show and she’s never been to a concert in her life—she’s six years old and she was destined to be in a factory, working for Nike, gluing labels on skateboarders’ tennis shoes, and then we plucked her out of there somehow—and so she’s sitting in an audience at a concert and she’s like, “Why is Dad up there... with a yellow suit on and a red hat?” She was totally confused. She still doesn’t get what Devo is, I’m sure. The older one doesn’t really get it. The little daughter, she kind of understands that Daddy was in Brazil last weekend—he was Devo last weekend. “Daddy, you were Devo!” The older one, she’s still kind of confused about it, but they sing the songs and they know all the words and they watch this 12-year old girl, who’s probably going to be another horrible Lindsay Lohan in about three years, but right now she’s this cute little girl who’s singing Devo songs. And my daughters, they just do the same moves and they have all the Devo lyrics embedded in their heads now. I think that’s the most subversive thing we’ve even done and I was kind of impressed at how well it worked. But didn’t you have to change some of the lyrics? Oh yeah. But to me, what that means is that when kids that learn with the lyrics slightly changed on about three of the songs, they’re going to someday hear the Devo version and they’re going to be singing along and go, “What’s that??” and then they’re going to listen to it again and then they’re going to go, “That’s a clue. There’s something there.” And they’re going to want to know why somebody made a change and what’s important about it. To me, I think it’ll be like when I was a kid and I bought the single “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones and I listened to it over and over on a 45, that’s what the technology was in those days. So I’m listening and this woman comes over from my Mom’s church and I’m just sitting on the floor, minding my own business, I’m in 7th or 8th grade, and I’m listening to the Rolling Stones, and this woman comes up to my Mom and goes, “Mary,
“Fuck the money people! We’re here to talk about what’s really important in the art world,” why do you let your boy listen to that music? It’s dirty!” And believe me, I listened to that song a thousand times after that. I mean, what’s dirty? How do I get it? What is it? I was even more excited about the song and it made me more into it, to the point where I became so into “Satisfaction” that it’s the very first song on the very first album we ever put out. That’s how much it meant to me for something like that to happen. Like some cop giving me a clue that you shouldn’t know about that! That’s a secret! That kids aren’t supposed to know about. So I think Devo 2.0 is a good thing, and I say praise subversion as a way to change things in this country. And maybe Swiffer is so horrible—I almost want to just put the Swiffer video on in front of us when we come out on stage because it’s so hideous! That woman dancing with the fucking Swiffer! And the Swiffer is an awful product anyhow. I bought one just to try it out and I put it on my floor and whatever the stuff was on my floor, it discolored the shit out of the paint on my floor. I was like, “This isn’t safe for anybody! This is a horrible product.” So that’s the one I’ve really disliked of all the commercials that we’ve ever had our stuff used for. But it was definitely a hideous combination of capitalism, consumerism, and de-evolution all in one 30-second spot! Since you brought up the Rolling Stones cover, I know you guys worked with Brian Eno on that record. How was it working with him on that? Was there a lot of his influence? Well, probably not as much as he would have liked. And the way in which he was influential was that he paid for the album. We didn’t have a record deal and I, in an article, had said that he was my first choice as a producer. I said I wanted it to be either Brian Eno or David Bowie, and both of them came to see us in New York and they both said, “We want to produce you!” So Brian Eno said, “Look, it’s going to cost $50,000 to fly to German and record an album. I know we’ll get a record deal, why don’t I just pay for a record and so why don’t I just pay for the record and we won’t have to wait until next year to do this?” And so he flew us over to Neuenkirchen, to Connie Plank’s studio, the place where he did his Music for Airports and where he
produced a bunch of other people. And that’s how it happened. He was a really great guy, but the odd thing about it was that he kept wanting to play on the record and so when we were done—and we’d been playing the songs, by that point, for two or three years and we must have been a pain in the ass because we were so maniacally positive of what we were doing, and we were really strong in our vision and what we wanted the songs to sound like—and so he would play a synth part, and we’d kind of pretend, “Oh, that’s nice, Brian!” But then when it came to the mixes, I remember I was always going, “Just a little lower on the Brian Eno track... and it’s gone.” I know he was a little disappointed that we only used his synth part on two different tracks, but about five years ago I was transferring the 24 track master—because it was falling apart, the tape’s oxidizing and the magnetic shit was just dropping off—so we were transferring it to digital and in the process I was going through Brian Eno’s handwritten notes, they were all very beautiful and meticulous, and I realized he played synthesizer on every one of our songs and we only used it on two of our songs. I wanted to call him up and say, “Brian, remember like 25 years ago... when you made all these synth parts? What did you think the album should sound like? If I sent it to you, would you remix it?” And I never did, but that’s one of the things I have a desire to do is to let him mix the album the way he wanted it. He probably doesn’t even care anymore. He’s probably like, “All right, those little smart-ass idiots—I’ll just let them do whatever they want to do and I’ll get out of here.” Him and David Bowie came over to Germany with us, and I’m grateful, I’ll always be grateful to them for helping us do our first record. Following the commercial success of “Whip It,” what do you see as the pitfalls of having a hit song? Is the record label constantly on your back to repeat that success? Yeah, we were in the record industry in a different time. We saw the tail end of the good days before it got really dark. We were actually at Warner Brothers at a time when they had bands
were just art bands; bands that didn’t really make money for them, but as long as you didn’t lose too much they didn’t care. We were always in the black from our first album on. We never made as much money as Prince or Madonna or something but they just thought, “Okay, we’ll sign them because David Bowie said we should sign them. We’ve already got Captain Beefheart and we got Frank Zappa, and neither of those guys make very much money but that’s fine. We got some art bands and Devo’s one of them.” In those days a big label like Warner would have a few of those bands, so nobody paid attention to us. They let us do what we want. We stayed in the black, we never went into the red and lost money for the record company, but after “Whip It” was a hit it was like a double-edged sword because all of a sudden they were like, “Wait a minute. We don’t pay these guys very much money and they bring in a profit. Now they’ve brought in a gigantic profit. We just made $20 million off of them, so let’s go see what they’re doing at their studio.” So they came over when we were recording the next album and they were like, “Hey, do whatever you guys want to do, just do another “Whip It.” And we said, “We’ll play you what we’re doing,” and we’d play them songs off the third album and they were getting nervous. Then we were at Record Plant and I remember we’d been reading in one of those trash magazine by the super market check out, and there were articles at the time about John Hinckley, the guy that stalked Jodie Foster and then tried to shoot President Reagan to prove his love for Jodie Foster. And they started printing all these poems he’d been writing—these love poems—and they were great; they were totally Devo. One of them was, “I pledge allegiance for your love and the thought that you’re all that matters.” It was this great poem that he’d written and we called him, we were like, “Where’s he at?” and they go, “He’s in the Maryland-Bethesda Mental Hospital because he was found guilty of trying to kill President Reagan.” So we called the hospital from, not Record Plant, it was Cherokee Records, which just now closed down finally last week, and there was a closing party last week for Cherokee Records, but we called and got through to John Hinckley, and we’re talking to him, and we were like, “We’re big fans of your poetry,” and he goes, “Oh yeah? I’m a fan of you guys. I got your first album.” (laughter) We’re like, “Oh, that’s great. We want to know, what would you think if we put music to one of your poems, one of your love poems for Jodie Foster?” And he goes, “Why that’d be wonderful. Send it to me, I want to hear it.” So we sent him a song, and he goes, “Okay, I like that!” so we signed him up. He’s one of the only people signed to Devo publishing other than the five members of my band; him and my Dad are the only other two people that are signed to our company. And we immediately started getting phone calls from the FBI. Of course then they called Warner Brothers records and they called our manager, and they’re like, “What are you thinking? What are you doing writing that song? Do you know how many death threats he gets every day? Everybody’s going to hate Devo!” But it was this love song, and I just wanted to be able to play this love song on the radio and people would go, “What a beautiful song!” and then [we’d] go, “Oh yeah, John Hinckley, Jr. wrote the lyrics, the guy that shot Reagan.” So we ended up putting the song on the record, but it wasn’t good enough to be the hit song on the record but the lyrics—it was probably more the music’s fault rather than the lyrics—because his lyrics were excellent. And wrote a different final verse and a different chorus, but we used his verses, his verses were great, but we kind of lost touch because the record company had such a fucking hissy fit over it that it wasn’t worth it. It was kind of a one time art project, anyhow.
Is there any truth to the rumors that a Devo movie is coming out? I’ve heard about The Beginning Was the End. Actually, we’re toying with the idea of doing a film and as it happens it could be really funny because it would be based on— what’s the Kurosawa film where the couple are going through the woods and the thief stops them, and he either rapes the woman or doesn’t rape her, depending. They tell the story then, because the husband gets killed, they tell the story through an observer, the thief, rapist, and the woman; they all tell a different story, so you see the story come back three times. Three different people’s point of view, and it’s always totally different each time. So we’re doing it—we worked with a writer who interviewed all five of the Devo guys. We let each person tell their version of the early Devo days from the time we started up until we get a record deal. We want to end up writing it so it’s five different stories. It could be funny if it happens. We’re working on an album right now, so if that comes out any good we’ll put it out next year. So we’ll see... that could be bullshit. How many bands have you heard do a new album where you went, “God, I wish I didn’t have to hear that. I just want to remember them how they were.” So if we do this, we’re going to find people that we think are objective enough that they’d be honest. If they say, “You know what? Don’t do it,” then we won’t do it. We did something that was important to us at one time, and it’s complicated being in a band; it’s not that easy. Have you ever been in a band? You know what I’m talking about. Depending on how many people there are, it’s like a marriage if you had a marriage with four or five people. It’s more complicated than two people. We’ll see what happens. Sometimes people do an album again, like Kraftwerk, but Kraftwerk you knew it would have to work because they only did one thing and what they did was very close to every other [Kraftwerk] album—kind of like what AC/DC did for heavy metal and the Ramones did for punk, but I don’t know if we could do that. But we’re going to see if we can be Devo again. We play better now than we used to play, so maybe it could happen. Rad. Thanks, Mark. Best of luck with the album and also with the show. Thanks. I’m kind of excited about it because it’s a different, weird medium. It’s kind of a new place for me to go. I hope I’m not making a mistake. I’m kind of excited about it. // Andreas with Mark Mothersbaugh But here’s the thing, the thing that made this interview good— the thing that made sitting down with this man and just talking, good: I left feeling as though I had just as many questions unanswered as I did upon arriving. Who cares about easy answers and having things pedantically explained to you? Isn’t it much more important for you to decide for yourself? I could sit here and have after-the-fact misgivings about letting Mark off the hook so easily for selling Devo songs to Swiffer; I could sit in front of my computer and type a litany of reproaches and smugly have the last word. But I don’t care to. I’d rather just let the essential questions hover out there and have a life of their own. Who cares about answers when the questions are so much more interesting? And so it goes. Many thanks to Evan Cerasoli and Scion. But especially Mark Mothersbaugh. Not only for taking the time to do this, but for Devo. It’s okay for me to fan out now, right? The interview is over and I can go home and not have to be objective anymore. Sometimes the words just get stuck in my throat. -Andreas Trolf
AFFICHE CONCERT:Layout 1
THE YOUNG GODS
KNOCK ON WOOD TOUR
Hypothetical Scenario 1
another day to regret
by Douglas Gimberg
“Thus is revealed the great importance of the gaze: it is through the gaze, the malevolent, but seemingly benign, gaze that our behaviour is policed; it is because of the overbearing presence of the gaze and the association of the gaze with the police, with the state, with an Other, that we are constantly constructing in our minds the justifications for our actions.” I am reading an account/transcription/representation of some lectures given by Michel Foucault at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro in May 1973, from the Essential Works of Foucault 1954 – 1984 volume 3. Edited by James Faubion, published in 1994. In these lectures, titled Truth and Juridicial Forms, Foucault describes the course of the qualification of Knowledge in the west from ancient Greece, through the Middle Ages and until now. I will cite a few examples from his text for elucidation:
judgement [sentence] of the sort that would come into practice at the end of the twelfth century and beginning of the thirteenth. Judgement consisted in a declaration by a third party that, a certain person having told the truth is judged to be right , another having told a lie is judged to be wrong, consequently judgement did not exist in feudal law; the separation of truth and untruth between individuals played no role in it – there existed only victory or defeat…
The first evidence we have of the search for truth in Greek judicial procedure dates back to the Iliad. It appears in the dispute between Antilochus and Menelaus during the games organized to mark the death of Patroclus. Among these games there is a chariot race that is run, as usual, in an outand-back circuit, going around a post that has to be passed as closely as possible. The games’ organizers have placed a man there to make sure the rules of the race are followed; Homer, without naming him personally, says this man is a witness, history, one who is there to see.
This system of judicial practices disappeared at the end of the twelfth century and in the course of the thirteenth. During the entire second half of the Middle Ages, one would witness the transformation of those old practices and the invention of new forms of judicial practice and procedure – forms that were absolutely essential for the history of Europe and for the history of the whole world, inasmuch as Europe violently imposed it’s dominion on the entire surface of the earth. What was invented in this reformulation of law was something that involved not so much the contents knowledge as its forms and conditions of possibility. What was invented in law during this period was a particular way of knowing, a condition of possibility of knowledge whose destiny was to be crucial in the Western world. That mode of knowledge was the inquiry, which appeared for the first time in Greece and which, after the fall of the Roman Empire, remained hidden for several centuries. However, the inquiry that reappeared in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was of a somewhat different type than the one we saw exemplified in Oedipus… Fourth: there is one more discovery still, a last invention just as diabolical as that of the prosecutor and the infraction. The state, or rather, the sovereign (since we cannot speak of a state existing during that period), was not only the injured party but also the one that demanded the compensation. When an individual lost a trial, he was declared guilty and still owed a compensation to his victim. But the compensation was absolutely not that of ancient feudal law or ancient Germanic law: it was no longer a matter of buying back one’s peace by settling accounts with one’s adversary. The guilty party was required not just to compensate to the offence he had committed against another individual but also to compensate for the offence he had committed against the sovereign, the state, the law. In this way there appeared, along with the mechanism fines, the great mechanism of confiscations. These confiscations of property were one of the chief means for the great emerging monarchies to enrich and enlarge their holdings…
The race unfolds and the men in the lead at the turn are Antilochus and Menelaus. An infringement occurs and, when Antilochus arrives first, Menelaus lodges a protest and says to the judge, or to a jury who must award the prize, that Antilochus committed a foul. Protest, dispute – how is the truth to be established? Curiously, in this text by Homer the parties involved do not call upon the person who saw, the famous witness who was near the turning post and who should attest to what happened. He’s not called to testify, not asked a single question. There is only a dispute between the adversaries Menelaus and Antilochus. It develops in the following way: After Menelaus’ accusation “You committed a foul,” and Antilochus’ defence “I didn’t commit any foul,” Menelaus delivers a challenge: “Come, lay your right hand on your horse’s forehead, grasp your whip with your left hand and swear by Zeus that you didn’t commit any foul.” At that moment Antilochus, faced with this challenge, which is a test, declines to swear an oath and thereby acknowledges that he committed a foul… In the system of the feudal judicial test, it was a matter not of truth-seeking but a kind of game with a binary structure. The individual accepted the test or declined it. If he declined, if he didn’t want to try the test, he would lose the case in advance. If the test took place he would win or be defeated: there was no other possibility. The binary form is the first characteristic of the test. The second characteristic is that the test always ended with a victory or a defeat. There was always someone who won and someone who lost, the stronger and the weaker, a favourable outcome or an unfavourable outcome. There was never anything like a
So there was an inquiry practice in the Church of the early Middle Ages, in the Merovingian and Carolingian Church. That method was called visitatio; it consisted in the visit the
bishop was officially required to make in travelling through his diocese, and it was later adopted by the great monastic orders. On arriving at an appointed place, the bishop would first initiate the inquisito generalis, the general inquisition, by questioning all those who should know – the notables, the elders, the most learned, the most virtuous – about what had happened in his absence, especially if there had been transgressions, crimes, and so on. If this inquiry met with an affirmative response, the bishop would pass a second stage, the inquisitio specialis, the special inquisition, which consisted in trying to find out who had done what, in determining who was really the author and what was the nature of the act. There is a third and last point: the offender’s confession could interrupt the inquisition at any stage, in it’s general or special form. The person who had committed the crime could present himself and declare publicly: “yes, a crime was committed. It consisted in this. I am its author.” This spiritual, essentially religious form of the ecclesiastical inquisition continued to exist down through the Middle Ages, acquiring administrative and economic functions. When the Church came to be Europe’s only coherent economicopolitical body, in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries, the ecclesiastical inquisition was at the same time a spiritual inquiry concerning sins, transgressions, and crimes committed, and an administrative inquiry concerning the way in which the Church’s assets were managing and the profits gathered, accumulated, distributed, and so on. This religious and administrative model of the inquiry subsisted up to the twelfth century, when the state that was forming – or, rather, the person of the sovereign that was emerging as the source of all power – appropriated judicial procedures. Those judicial procedures could no longer function according to the system of the test. In what way, then, was the prosecutor to establish whether someone was guilty or not? This model – spiritual and administrative, religious and political – this method for managing, overseeing, and controlling souls was found in the Church: the inquiry understood as a gaze focussed as much on possessions and riches as on hearts, acts, and intentions. It was this model that was taken up and adapted for the judicial procedure. The king’s prosecutor would do the same thing that the visiting ecclesiastics did in the parishes, dioceses, and communities. He would seek to establish through the inquisito, through the inquiry, whether there had been a crime, what crime it was, and who had committed it… People are still impressed by the fact that it was necessary to await the twelfth century to arrive finally at a rational system of truth-establishment, with the inquiry procedure. I don’t believe, however, that the latter was simply the result of a kind of progress of rationality. The inquiry was not arrived at by rationalizing judicial procedures. The use of that procedure in the judicial domain was made not only possible but necessary by a whole political transformation, a new political structure. In medieval Europe, the inquiry was primarily a governmental process, an administrative technique, a management method – in other words, it was a particular way of exercising power… Prison was not part of the theoretical plan for penal reform in the nineteenth century. It appeared at the beginning of the nineteenth century, as a defacto institution, almost without theoretical justification. Not only was imprisonment- a penalty whose use became general in the nineteenth century – not called for in the eighteenth century program, but penal legislation was to undergo a tremendous shift of emphasis in relation to the tenets of the preceding theory. Indeed, from the start of the nineteenth century and increasingly rapidly throughout the
century, the direction of penal legislation was to veer away from what one might call the principle of social utility; it was no longer focused on what was socially useful, but, rather, targeted the individual. As an example, we can cite the great reforms of penal legislation in France and other European countries between 1825 and 1850-60, involving the definition of what we call mitigating circumstances, enabling the strict application of the law, as it was found in the Code, to be modified by the judge or jury’s stipulation, depending on the individual being tried. Moreover, the penal regime that developed in the nineteenth century aimed less and less to define in an abstract and general way what was harmful to society, to remove individuals harmful to society or prevent them from reoffending. In the nineteenth century, penal justice aimed, in an increasingly insistent way, not so much at the general defence of society as the control and psychological and moral reform of the attitudes and behaviour of individuals… For Beccaria, the great penal principle was that there should be no punishment without an explicit law and an explicit behaviour violating that law… The last major point that penal theory questioned more forcefully than Beccaria had was that, to ensure the control of individuals – which was no longer a penal reaction to what they had done but, rather, a control of their future behaviour while this was still taking form – the penal institution could no longer be completely in the hands of an autonomous power, the judiciary. We thus come to question the great separation made (or at least formulated) by Montesquieu between judicial, executive, and legislative powers. The control of individuals, this sort of punitive penal control of individuals at the level of their potentialities, could not be performed by the judiciary itself; it was to be done by a series of authorities other than the judiciary, such as the police and a whole network of institutions of surveillance and correction – the police for surveillance, the psychological, psychiatric, criminological, medical, and pedagogical institutions for correction… this whole network of nonjudicial power was designed to fulfil one of the functions that the justice system assumed at this time: no longer punishing individuals’ infractions, but correcting their potentialities… With panopticism, something altogether different would come into being; there would no longer be inquiry, but supervision [surveillance] and examination. It was no longer a matter of reconstituting an event, but something – or, rather, someone – who needed total, uninterrupted supervision. A constant supervision of individuals by someone who exercised power over them – schoolteacher, foreman, physician, psychiatrist, prison warden – and who, so long as he exercised power, had the possibility of both supervising and constituting a knowledge concerning those he supervised… …[T]here was one who in a sense foresaw and presented a kind of diagram of this society of supervision [surveillance], of this great social orthopedics – I’m thinking of Jeremy Bentham. I hope historians of philosophy will forgive me for saying this, but I believe that Bentham is more important for our society than Kant or Hegel. All our societies should pay homage to him. It was he who programmed, defined, and described in the most exact manner the forms of power in which we live, and who presented a marvellous and celebrate little model of this society of generalised orthopedics – the famous Panopticon, a form of architecture that makes possible a mind-over-mind-type of power; a sort of institution that serves equally well, it would seem, for schools, hospitals, prisons, reformatories, poorhouses, and factories. The Panopticon is a ring shaped building in the middle of which there is a yard with a tower at the centre. The ring is divided into little cells that face interior and exterior alike. In each of these little
cells there is, depending on the purpose of the institution, a child learning to write, a worker at work, a prisoner correcting himself, a madman living his madness. In the central tower there is an observer. Since each cell faces both the inside and the outside, the observers gaze can traverse the whole cell; there is no dimly lit space, so everything the individual does is exposed to the gaze of the observer who watches through shuttered windows or spy holes in such a way as to be able to see everything without anyone being able to see him… We live in a society where panopticism reigns…
institutionalised in one of these apparatus of the state we pay to be there, at the school, the hospital, the asylum.
…This examination was the basis of the power, the form of knowledge-power, that was to give rise not, as in the case of the inquiry, to the great sciences of observation, but to what we call the “human sciences” – psychiatry, psychology, sociology.”
It is in light this, Our predicament, that I would like to propose another potential justification (to you, the police) for Christian Nerf and my escape to Robben Island on the 9th of May 2008.
Thus is revealed the great importance of the gaze: it is through the gaze, the malevolent, but seemingly benign, gaze that our behaviour is policed; it is because of the overbearing presence of the gaze and the association of the gaze with the police, with the state, with an Other, that we are constantly constructing in our minds the justifications for our actions. It is not for our benefit, or understanding, that this justification occurs but to in order to be able to explain our actions to some Other, an observer. The ultimate goal of the police state is that its population will police themselves, and because of the new definitions that emerged for, or conditions of, policeable acts this does already happen to a great degree. The institutions of the State already exist as threatening entities as opposed to acting entities, they represent themselves, they exist as potentialities. It is only relatively occasionally that the institutions actually have to do something, such as when some transgression occurs that cannot be ignored, that causes the institutions themselves to fall under the Eye: become the subject of the gaze. Those occasions (when the state apparatus actually have to act) reveal the failure of the state, they exist in their represented form [in the form that correlates with their threatening, projected, image] only when they have failed to perform their task, that of controlling behaviour. Society currently seems to operate according to the will of the state in such a way: instead of the institutions physically policing the populace the policing of behaviour now actually occurs on the level of the individual and between the individual and his/her family, friends, and community. We are policed by our neighbours. It is no longer the gaze of a specific Other [the Police, god] that we perform for, it is the gaze itself: the gaze that might exist at any time and therefore exists, in our mind, all the time. The Police hold the most extreme representation of the gaze (besides of course for god: our delusion of god is that of the entity that can and does “see” all and at all times, even the contents of our mind, hence, too, the internal dialogue of justification). The joy one gets, the sense of pride, when one can tell an Officer of the law that you witnessed the crime; exactly what it was that happened; how you saw so and so do this or that, comes from momentarily moving higher up the tower, you become closer, through your collaboration, to this more extreme, powerful, version of you, and further away from being the criminal that you apparently are. You subject! The consequence of the introduction of the police, the priest, the foreman, the teacher, the worker of the state, is that it establishes the binary of state and subject, of the police and those that are not the police: of police and the [potential] criminal. So already the subject is an oppressed subject, there is no facility for a third entity, that of the innocent (the One that does not warrant the constant gaze), within the State/Subject form. What is of course ironic, but not to be mistaken for humorous, is that we subjects pay to be in this position, we fund the apparatus that imposes it’s will on us, we pay taxes even before we commit an infraction, we pay additional fines when we are convicted of one, when we are
What we have here is a predicament: basically the only way to increase ones “freedom” in and from the eyes of the state is to climb higher up the tower that currently watches down on you, because the logic follows that the higher one is in the tower, the Panopticon, the fewer there are above us imposing their judgements. If we believe in the existence of god then we will never actually be able to get to the top of the tower, but without that particular delusion we might imagine that we are able to.
Robben Island occupies an interesting position, it has had many functions during the history of the occupation of Africa by Europeans. Apart, perhaps, from being a school (although many of the political prisoners held captive there during Apartheid did refer to it as “the university”) the island has been the site of each of the panoptic apparatus of the state: it has been an asylum for the insane and a hospital for the diseased, a prison and a place to which to exile offenders of the state. As such Robben Island perhaps exemplifies the State, is perhaps a perfect representation of the Panopticon in action. Also it had to inherently embody the failure of the State: being the representative of all the institutions necessitated by the failure of the gaze, the failure to control behaviour, the institution as no longer a symbolic entity but one where it actually had to perform the penalty threatened by the [police] State. As such it was a symbol of itself. We might have previously claimed that our escape was merely an attempt to go overseas, to emigrate. We might have claimed that we were trying to perform a simple inversion of the phenomenon of prisoners trying to escape their prison: that we were the free, escaping to prison, displaying our humility through this sacrifice. We might have claimed that because of the place we chose to escape to that we were affirming the State’s new notion that Robben Island, as World Heritage Site, is an icon of Freedom; an emblem of the triumph of the state over oppression. Essentially that there, because the state had done the right thing and transformed itself, we could be free! We might have tried to convince people that we were escaping to freedom. The proposal I would like to make is that this gesture, of escaping to Robben Island, instead of having the function of demonstrating that we can all escape, was in fact an exercise in our siding with the enemy, with the State, to become collaborators of the State, even to become the State. We managed to get to this site that was the place that exemplified all the atrocities of the State’s dominion over its subjects, and perhaps it was not an act challenging the power of the state but acknowledging it, condoning it. Perhaps this gesture was an attempt to go directly to the top of Jeremy Bentham’s tower, to become free not by escaping from a malevolent and oppressive force but escaping in order to become the one – as though, by presenting ourselves to the most powerful symbol of the State in the manner that we had (through the gruesome physical test, like that of having your right hand bound to your left leg and thrown into water to be accepted naturally into the water and drown if one was innocent, and to survive and then be punished if one was guilty; this, the feudal test) we were proven to be stronger than our opponent. While this test, that of building our boat and rowing to Robben Island, did not determine whether we were right or not, it determined our victory, it qualified us. Perhaps through beating our opponent in the test we displaced him, leaving his position for us to fill: allowing us to immediately ascend in the ranks to the very pinnacle, and become the gaze, become the greater oppressor. Maybe we escaped our status as subjects; maybe we were freed by transcending the existing representation of ourselves, maybe we transformed ourselves into the Other.
Chris kreef - kreef hotel
Photography: louis vorster
We’ve been going for nearly 6 years now. It all started when I made a new year’s resolution that I would get all my friends to go to Oppikoppi (they always say they’re going, but don’t get there). So I spent 6 months collecting tents from people and forcing them to buy their tickets ” . How the hell are you doing? All good, busy. Still unsure if the question to the meaning of life was put correctly to get to an answer of 42..? First of please tell us what you are busy with at the moment? 2 Quotes for birthday parties, 1 Rock ‘n Roll wedding, Mighty Men conference, Splashy Fen, Oppikoppi Easter, Thabazimbi Expo. Staff training, renovating our house, potty training my dog “Jagie”, managing the Franschhoek Oesfees for my friend Carel. And all of this in my office in Tulbagh running at a temperature of 31 Celsius at 11am. Explain your work to us and what you do? We set up our “point five stars” Tent Hotel at places where many people get together and need to sleep over. We launch this from our 2 warehouse depots in Tulbagh and in Pretoria with staff from Tulbagh, Harare, Northam, Pretoria etc. We also manage events for Oppikoppi in the Cape and then we manage small events in the Boland like birthdays, weddings, funerals and parties in general. We do things differently, like at the weddings we do we refuse to book flowers – we book bands! We convince the clients to change from expensive meals to bring & braai’s in true “Souf Efrican” style. First of all I think you should explain to our readers why you are dressed as a demonic hell man with a giant plastic lizard and painted black nails in the intro shot? I’ve been planning to launch my career as an actor for a long time. You will know that it took Al Pacino many years and many other rolls before he landed a roll as Satan. In my case, I landed my 1st roll in a movie last year December – as Satan. It was a short movie made by Tertius Kapp and Stephanus Rabie and Beer Adriaanse. They’re hoping to have the movie shown on MK later this year. I’m available to consider other offers, so let your people contact my people if you have offers…
How long has the Kreef hotel concept been going for now and where does its origins stem from? We’ve been going for nearly 6 years now. It all started when I made a new year’s resolution that I would get all my friends to go to Oppikoppi (they always say they’re going, but don’t get there). So I spent 6 months collecting tents from people and forcing them to buy their tickets. This was the year when Oppikoppi was held at Fountains in Pretoria. So I took some leave, went in early, met Carel on site and got permission to reserve a nice spot at the festival site. I pitched the tents, organised a load of wood (or was it weed..?), put together a lineup with my comments of what to miss and what to see and waited for my friend to arrive. The next year I started receiving phone calls 2 months before Oppikoppi with people wanting to book a space in my camp. I put together the whole thing from money people paid in and the 1st Kreef Hotel happened with 43 guests. Problem was that the pieces of paper with all my planning and names of paid guests were blown into the air at Oppikoppi. So I used a method of looking in people’s eyes to see if they were honest – before I gave them a bed. I had met Tania just before that and when she saw the mayhem due to my poor organising, she jumped in and saved the show. Since then she’s been doing it fulltime and took it from a joke to a business that feels more and more like real work everyday. I resigned my big corporate job as national liquor buyer for Pick ‘n Pay in 2007 and joined Tania full time. Now from the porters to the red carpets and the warm showers how much does your setup change from festival to festival? We try and keep the basics the same if possible. The things our guests enjoy are the comforts we organise for them, like cell phone charging, porters, hot showers, clean toilets and muddafukka breakfasts. We’ve tried to reduce the service to get the price down, but decided to not do that. Once people
have seen what they get, they just don’t do the festival without us again. So the business grows bigger and bigger each year. Plastic makes Perspex. What is the standard hotel package and what are the extras? Check it out www.kreefhotel.co.za You drink, we think. You arrive with your blanket and we do the rest. We provide showers (come clean), toilets (a ply within), Porters (rest your case), cell phone charging, breakfast, pitched tents and mattresses, fireplace, support groups, crèche facility, relationship counselling, massage and message service, babelas treatment (Jägermeister), key hiding, condoms etc. We have also now launched the “Caviar Option” – available for Splashy Fen. Super comfortable canvas tent, stretchers, bedside table and tent light with room service. And we also fetch you from the bar in our red wheelbarrows if you experience RVS (Ronde Voetjies Sindroom) for a large fee. What sort of menu can be expected during a festival? One moer of a buffet breakfast every morning. And self catering facilities for other meals if you don’t like festival fast foods. With Jägermeister. We also have a SMS service where you can order coffee to your tent. Now you are well known all around the country and at many festivals as Chris Kreef, who gave you that name and do you live up to it? I got the name from my priest, Piet Botha many years ago when I managed a restaurant/motel in Vredenburg on the West Coast. The custom was to get bands to play there, and then get all my diver friends to bring Kreef in the morning in time for when the band wakes up at around 11am. Breakfast was 5 Kreef each, with just a pot of mayo in the middle. Piet decided on the name Chris Kreef, which later became the name of the point five star tents Hotel that Tania managed from a joke to a real business. Is there a huge difference between the rockers from the 80’s and the new fresh young chickens you deal with now days… who would you say really gave or is giving South African rock a run for its money? The Rockers from the 80’s were hard-core drinkers who didn’t give a shit about how they looked or where they woke up. The young Okes today spend hours manipulating their hair so that it looks like they don’t care where they woke up. Generally. There are always exceptions, so generalising is the mother of all fuckups. How do you keep yourself busy when you are not preparing or busy at a festival? My wife Tania (1) and kids, Eloise (21), Vicky (18), Luc (8) and Karla (4). And riding my kawa kdx200 2-stroke in the mountains of Tulbagh where we live. And I play a mean game of pool. I collect music. We make good wine (4 vintages already). Research the effects of Jägermeister on the human body. My favourite pastime is watching people. Out of all the festivals which ones do you enjoy the most and how much do the festival goer’s attitudes change in different parts of the country? I enjoy Oppikoppi Easter and Up the Creek the most personally. Nice and small and intimate. But the big festivals like Oppikoppi August, Splashy Fen and Rocking the Daisies are just
as nice – but usually we’re too busy to see much of the show. If there was a drinking Olympics held between local festivals judged by overall alcohol consumption who do think would take the gold? Oppikoppi no doubt Should marijuana be legalised in this country, what are your thoughts on that? What? It’s not legal? I think township stoppe, parkie-dagga and any other low quality zol should be illegal ‘cos it makes clever people want to watch TV. TV should also be illegal, or is it already? Do you ever follow politics in this country and do you vote? I’ve decided to start a political party called the S.A.A.M. party. My opening speech to potential constituents would go something along the lines of “I am here today to tell you that I will be lying to you. Just like politicians do to get your vote. The fact is that all politicians lie, but here at the S.A.A.M. party at least you know that I’m lying and I know that you know that I’m lying. So, you know that when I tell you I will fix your roads - I’m lying. When I tell you I will reduce crime – I’m lying. When I tell you that I will pay teachers, nurses and cops more – I’m lying! So, let’s all become part of the system and vote for someone that does not lie when he tells you he is lying. Wat stem ons? Ons stem SAAM!” What gets you up in the morning? My Blackberry What are you listening to right now? Gramadoelas song called “Met jou aan my sy” - The 2nd best love song ever written (by Les Javan) What would you change if you could? Here When is the last time you cried? In January when my tjommie Alex died. Before that, about 20 years back. What are you going to do after you have done this interview? Nothing, I’m drained... Is there life after death…? The question is really, is there life before death? Live every day dude, every day...
Chris O’Doherty aka Reg Mombassa
“ I like to think I am on the outside looking in but that is largely an illusion. All the stupidity, selfishness, greed and pompous arrogance I might observe in others are abundantly represented in my own personality and behaviour .” How the hell are you doing? Fine thanks. First of please tell us what you are busy with at the moment? I’m working on some charcoal drawings of gum trunks and also a station of the cross called Australian Jesus with telegraph pole (after Gibson) for a Stations of the Cross show by a number of artists. Explain your work to us and what you do? Paintings, drawings and prints ranging from suburban and rural landscapes through to more graphic work with popular culture, political and religious themes. You seem to have had quite a very unique life up until now, are their any defining moments that you think, if they did not happen you would not be where you are right now in your life? Yes – there are many chance encounters with people that lead to interesting opportunities. Coming to Australia with my parents at the age of 17 was probably a good move. Forming the rock band Mental as Anything while at art school led me down several paths I may not have otherwise ventured down. You got onboard the MAMBO clothing brand way at the beginning apparently with the fire breathing chickens running
along side a car that you did for one of your bands (Mental as anything) record covers. I cannot imaging the MAMBO brand without thinking of your art, what were their designs like back then before you joined? Mambo had been going for 2 years before I started working for them. Some of their early stuff was generic stuff lifted from tea cups or whatever, but Richard Allen (who did the farting dog) was already starting to do some interesting graphics for them. Did you at any stage think that your music was going to go further than your art? No. I have always done both concurrently, although sometimes music will dominate and at other times the art will dominate. Both pursuits are artistic expressions. Were you an established artist at that time already or was your art just a thing you did to promote your band? I’d already had a show at Watters Gallery in 1975, the band started in 1976. How did you end up doing the cover for the Public Image Limited album “Greatest hits so far”? Mambo made a suit of clothes for John Lydon when he was performing in Australia with PIL so he was aware of my work because of that and contacted me to do the album cover.
Were you an established artist at that time already or was your art just a thing you did to promote your band? I’d already had a show at Watters Gallery in 1975, the band started in 1976. How did you end up doing the cover for the Public Image Limited album “Greatest hits so far”? Mambo made a suit of clothes for John Lydon when he was performing in Australia with PIL so he was aware of my work because of that and contacted me to do the album cover. Are you in touch with John Lydon at all or did you ever go and have a few pints with him down at the pub? I’m not in regular contact with him but he invited me to the Sexpistols reunion concert in Sydney and we had a beer backstage after the show. When did you realise “Fuck people are actually taking my shit seriously…”? Probably around the late 90’s when students started studying my work at schools and universities. What sort of movement do you think your work stems from if you look back at it now, where do you think it would slot in? I couldn’t nominate a specific movement but I’ve been influenced by comics and graphic art as well as painters like Bosch and Brueghel, John Constable and the impressionists. I learnt to paint as a teenager by copying paintings by Monet, Sisley, Van Gogh and Cezanne. I also like folk/naive art and various tribal arts. I was interested in the Dada movement because of the humour and disrespect for mainstream society. As an art student I was impressed by Francis Bacon and did some paintings influenced by his work. Your work looks like it changed drastically at one point from the 70’s to the 80’s. Did you mainly paint the houses at the beginning or where do you feel a major shift happened with your topics? There was no drastic shift or change of style but working for Mambo led me to concentrate more on the graphic and ridiculous subject matter, but i had been doing that sort of stuff before I worked for them. Did working with MAMBO allow you to have an outlet for both the styles that you maybe wanted to follow? Working for Mambo was more an outlet for ridiculous graphic pictures than for landscapes or house paintings. I have noticed that dogs, Jesus, spacemen, chickens, cars, third eyes, houses, open landscapes and a few industrial smoking buildings pop up in a lot of your work. Is there some sort of connection between all of them for you? There is no specific connection; they are all part of the repertoire of favoured themes that are rotated through a series of landscapes or ‘theatre settings’. Are you familiar with any of the South African artist Norman Catherine’s work, personally I have always made some connection between the two of you as if your were mentally connected in some way…?
No. I was not familiar with it previously but I just had a look at his website and I liked his work very much. I can see the similarities of style and subject matter that you mentioned. One South African artist I am aware of and whose work is amazingly good is William Kentridge. I saw his survey show at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney a few years ago and was very impressed. Have you ever been to South Africa, I think you would notice a lot of similarities in the small towns that I can imagine Auckland must have been like in your child hood? No, I have never been there but I would imagine there are many similarities to New Zealand besides the accent! Would your art be able to exist without your music or visa versa? Hopefully they would, but that’s not something i would be happy with as I consider both art forms essential. You have done surfboard graphics did you ever do any skateboards at any time? Yes, Mambo did a couple with my designs on them. I also painted a board for an exhibition at the Spacejunk Gallery in France. Looking at your work made it clear that you have a very keen sense of observation and a very sharp sense of humour do you think that now more than ever we should actually sit back and have a laugh at all the things that we are surrounded with? Humans have always used humour to make sense of the world and to lessen the bewildering, unpleasant and stupid aspects of human life. There do seem to be many new problems assailing humans in recent years but there have always been plenty things to worry about. Living in Europe during the Second World War would have been extremely unrelaxing for instance. Your work caries a lot of nostalgia, do you get pissed sometimes when people only associate you with MAMBO and not as an independent artist? No, I don’t care about that. Some people prefer my landscapes and think the Mambo stuff is rubbish. Do you think once a human is capable of actually standing back and looking at the human race as if he is not a part of it, you can actually plan your moves a bit better than most? I like to think I am on the outside looking in but that is largely an illusion. All the stupidity, selfishness, greed and pompous arrogance I might observe in others are abundantly represented in my own personality and behaviour. You stated recently in an interview that you are more frightened about humans than anything else. Where do you think the trouble started with the human apes, what turned them into these irrational creatures that you refer to? Yes, I’m very afraid of humans. They are often extremely irrational and capable of hideous violence. They have many ridiculous fairy tale belief systems that they are fully prepared to die for and to kill others who would disagree with these beliefs. Apes can behave rather badly also, but fortunately they don’t
have any sophisticated tools to amplify their spite. Did some of the topics in whatever shape or form you brought out in your work help you sort out a lot of questions you might have had with the whole circus? Not really. Ranting and raving in a visual sense might be mildly therapeutic but the world is just as bewildering and unfathomable as it has always been. Has any sort of organisation ever spoken out against your work or tried to burn you at the stake so to speak because of your depictions of holy figures? There have been some complaining letters to newspapers, a Catholic group tried to boycott a surf shop in a country town over Australian Jesus. Three male Christians once threatened to firebomb a Mambo shop in Sydney if a banner of a slightly overweight, slightly gay looking; naked Australian Jesus was not taken down. Nothing happened fortunately. Largely my pictures are tolerated quite well and taken with a grain of salt. Some Christians and Christian groups have indicated that they like my work – so there you go. Do you think that music itself is slowly turning into a religion with different messiah’s and sub genre’s and could eventually lead to major wars? I do think some people pursue music (and sport) in a religious manner, but hopefully they are too busy with sex and drugs to want to kill one another. When they did the survey on your work not too long ago did you feel you have reached a certain goal as an artist, where does one with your accomplishments draw the line or will it just keep on evolving until you cannot lift your brush anymore? Even if i was a monkey I would still paint and draw and I still think something really good might be just around the corner so that spurs me on to keep trying for it. When the gigantic floating inflatable figures of your work floated past you after the Sydney Olympics and you looked up at the whole spectacle what went through your mind… it must have been quite a process to design those? Yes it was months of work preparing for the closing ceremony so it was strange and gratifying to finally see them come to life. It was also a little disappointing as some the best things could not be used because of heavy winds on the night. You do a bit of sculpture with your work as well, did you ever feel like only changing over to that medium? Not really. I haven’t done very much sculpture. I did some junk sculptures while a student which I quite enjoyed but it tends to look too much like a real job requiring physical activity. Have you ever thought of publishing a book of short stories or thoughts like the ones you publish on your web site, I find it very relevant is something like that maybe in the pipeline? I have considered it but there are no specific plans. I very
much enjoy writing poetry and short pieces of commentary etc. So perhaps an illustrated book of such things is a possibility in the future. What happens next for Reg Mombassa? I have just started recording with my brother Peter for a new Dog Trumpet album and am preparing for a one man show at Watters Gallery in June ’09. What would you change if you could? If I could I would programme humans to be less violent and to not talk so loudly. I don’t like shouting either. When is the last time you cried? Last November when my mother died. What are you going to do after you have done this interview? Have dinner, chicken and potatoes. Is there life after death…? I don’t know. If there is I hope it is reasonably tolerable. I don’t fancy being boiled in my own excrement for eternity. We’ll find out when we die.
This I (dis)believe Fervid belief is toxic for humans because humans are violent idiots. Holding a strong belief in some ridiculous idea inevitably leads to endless bloodshed. For example: I believe this land belongs to me and my descendants in perpetuity; I believe my religion is the only true religion; I believe my race is superior to your race; I believe my sexual preference is the only permissible sexual preference, and I believe in my haircut above all other haircuts. These are but a smattering of the unreasonable and unproveable assertions that inspire much of the hideous violence that afflicts the world. If we were to be granted a license to believe it should stipulate that we believe quietly. Proselytising would be limited to polite enthusiasm at best.
A Rant against Ranting by Reg Mombassa
And what about religion? It’s been a great and varied source of contentious beliefs to fight to the death for. I’ve read countless books about the various religions and their histories, about spiritualism, shamanism, UFO’s and folklore etc, but I’m no closer to believing in anything. Until I see some undoctored footage of the creator of the universe gong about its business I couldn’t swear on the bible that spiritual beings actually exist. But then again, where there’s smoke there must be fire: all those hairy monsters, spacemen, fairies and Virgin Mary’s must live somewhere. This world is a glittering jewel box of enormous beauty, teeming with a dazzling torrent of living creatures. Did God make it or did it make itself? We’ll all find out when we die. If you go out in the bush on a fine summer’s day you can sense the pulse of the world, you can feel the earth breathing, you can hear the cicadas singing their happy song, you can see the trees and the rocks sculpting the breeze, and then you can melt into the sky and experience in four dimensions the glowing theatre of light and shadow that plays across the vault of the heavens. Even the flintiest realist must detect some hint of the ineffable in such scenes of tranquil beauty. Even the distant drone of a motor-mower is God-like on such days. And what of the church? Sometimes it seems little better than a mind-control cult where the parishioners provide cash and sexual favours for a rapacious and horny priesthood. But in spite of it’s grubby history of crimes against humanity, the church (both Catholic and protestant), does give some comfort to people and offer some respite from a harsh and often incomprehensible world. Even quite conservative church officials will occasionally speak up for the bullied and the powerless (as in recent complaints about the heartless and cynical treatment of asylum seekers by the coalition government of Australia). Unfortunately the same conservative elements still insist on excluding women from the priesthood and persist in their spiteful and most un-Christian vilification of homosexuals. Lighten up! Get with the program! Its 2004 not 500 B.C. They must still be mistakenly worshipping Rex Mundi, the jealous and vindictive Bronze Age sky god of the Old Testament. According to the Gnostics and the Cathars, the real God is far higher than the demiurge, Rex Mundi, and is way beyond the understanding or entreaties of us dumb humans. Anyway, we’ve all got a church inside our heads – go to that one, it’s probably better for you in the long run. And what of politics? After religion, politics is an excellent contender for king of strife. Since 9-11 the right-wing conservative have been flexing their muscles and rattling their swords, using these unfortunate events as an excuse to roll back the democratic freedoms that they’ve always disliked anyway, despite all the pompous rhetoric about freedom and democracy. In some ways you can’t blame the American leadership for their smug and corporate arrogance. They’re accurately reflecting the values and behaviour of their founding fathers. George Washington, after all, was a conservative, slave-owning, land-grabbing patrician, who saw an opportunity to supplant the British so that he and his wealthy colleagues could have the freedom to rule over and exploit their fellow Americans as they saw fit. With the increasing polarization and friction between left and right in recent years it looks like the fracture lines in the world will be between liberals and conservatives rather than between East and West, or between Christians and Muslims. Or maybe it will come down to a battle between the rigid and aggressive right wing control freaks from either culture. It’s a shame all the reasonable people will be unable to avoid involvement in the gory squabbles of the hard liners. All of this ranting may sound rather gloomy and critical, but if you can separate a person from the lies, propaganda and ridiculous belief systems that they are force-fed from birth, humans are largely very decent people.
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THE YOUNG GODS
Photography: jean marmeisse
My definition of success is ... being happy to do the music you love to do without compromising, to have a good team of people. That’s success for me ” . Swiss electro-noise terrorists the Young Gods traced their origins back to 1982, when Geneva-based frontman Franz Treichler, increasingly bored with his then-current new wave band, began experimenting with a small sampler. Influenced as well by the visceral power of punk and the grand drama of classical music, he began creating abrasive guitar and drum loops, and with sampler Cesare Pizzi and percussionist Frank Bagnoud, founded the Young Gods in 1985; named in an honor of a Swans composition, the trio debuted a year later with “Envoyé!,” a brief, blistering single distilling their assaultive sound to its core. Produced by Swan Roli Mosimann, their self-titled debut LP followed in 1987, and was named Album of the Year by the British music weekly Melody Maker; by the time of the follow-up, 1989’s L’Eau Rouge, drummer Use Heistand had replaced Bagnoud, and with the release of 1991’s The Young Gods Play Kurt Weill, Pizzi was gone in favor of sampler Alain Monod. T.V. Sky followed in 1992, while 1995’s Only Heaven flirted with ambient textures; two years later, the Young Gods (minus Heistand and with new drummer Bernard Trontin) returned with Heaven Deconstruction. Biographyby Jason Ankeny The following Interview with THE YOUNG GODS was done by Stefan Jermann for the book TRUCE Diaries on Saturday, July 29, 2006 and is followed up by a review of their latest album KNOCK ON WOOD by Jean-Philippe Bernard, 2008.
‚The margin gives the page a definition’ Where did the whole Young Gods story take it’s roots? (Franz Treichler:) It all started in Geneva with me and Ce-
sare Pizzi who was my roommate at that time.We both had some kind of experience with playing in other bands. I wanted to continue playing music, but not necessarily forming a new band right away. Maybe I did get a bit tired of dealing with egos and the whole music business. It was right at the time where the first cheap samplers came out on the market. They were actually guitar pedals to loop a riff and then you play on top, but of course you couldn’t save anything on a memory card. Back then, you either had the very cheap stuff or the unaffordable fifty thousand Francs equipment, which only a few selected ones could afford. How did you start ‚creating’ this music ? It was like that: We had two demos on a four track cassette player at home and Cesare, he was heavily into computers, wasn’t interested in really making music anymore, but he liked the demos. So he told me that if I like, he’d help me play it live. We did one show together and then we got a drummer, Frank Bagnoud. So we basically started as a trio and it still is! The first show was in late 1985. Did you already at the beginning have that kind of ‚electronic’support or was it mostly regular instruments? No, it was small machines... small tape players with two keyboards and we had some kind of walkman with an answering machine that taped loops. So, we had like three basic sounds: Two keyboards and the looping pedal for the cassettes. So... in every song, we had to change the cassettes and assign the two sounds every time. We were basically changing the cassettes all the time... it was epic! We did about ten shows like that, mostly in Geneva. It must have been enormously stressful to change the cassettes all the time? Yes, very much so. Very soon later we had an Akai (SAMPLER), one of the first ones that came out with a floppy disc.
Then you were finally able to store the sounds... ? Yes! Store the sounds, map the keyboard with different sounds on different keys... That came pretty fast. After ten shows, we bought that Akai. But our very first single, we did with the ‚small machines’. And that’s how we started. Then we basically got picked up and played Rote Fabrik in Zürich for the first time and all over Switzerland. We started touring all over Europe and then played in England for about two months where we also had the single of the week with ‚Melody Maker’ You got the single of the week in England very much at the beginning? Yes, that was great... Did you already have a record label right at the beginning supporting you? We were signed to a sublabel of RecRec in Zürich at that time. So we did that single and we got some good press. Soon later, we released the second single ‚“Did You Miss Me“’ on a British label and our first full length record, back then still vinyl, was released on a label in Switzerland „Organik“. That record became the record of the year in the‚Melody Maker’and all of a sudden a whole lot of people started being interested in The Young Gods! During my research, I realized that The Young Gods have quite some popularity in the United States as well. When did you hit the States for the first time? That basically all happened in 1989. I remember that we did around 30 to 40 shows in the States that year. Ohh, it was great, you know – we had this motor home, like we were going on a holiday. You all slept in that motor home like a happy little family? The three of us slept in the motorhome and the rest in the hotel. We had a great time! And the tour was successful in the States? Yes, very much so. We did a lot of networking, especially with other musicians and bands. We met Ministry and six years later we were touring with them. We also met with Soundgarden and lots of other interesting people. Soundgarden actually came to see our show and we went to see theirs, unfortunately we never played on the same stage together. You know, at the beginning in the States - it was a bit weird, because we were only singing in French. People came to see us because they wanted to hear these different sounds. We were really able to build up a serious following, from 1985 until 1996, it was really intense. In what way, besides touring and being called ‚The Sonic Architects’...? Well, there were some changes. Frank, our drummer back then, had left the band..., actually he was kicked out of the band and Cesare just wanted to settle down. I had then worked with Use Hiestand, a drummer from Zürich. Alain, our keyboarder, joined The Young Gods in 1989. I am really interested to know what people must have been thinking when they heard your music for the first time. Was there a notion that you guys are just a bunch of crazy fools, creating some kind of weird noises? It really depended on the country. England really started liking it and at one point there was even a british journalist who came to
meet us at the ‚Buffet de la Gare’ (trainstation restaurant) in Fribourg!! The journalist told us that there is nothing comparable to The Young Gods in England. He was almost devastated. Great ‚continental’ music either came from England or from the States...(laughs) ... but it can’t be that a band making such big waves actually comes from Switzerland!..? Yes, that was pretty much new. The line journalists often used was:’from the land of chocolate, cucko clocks and Cabaret Voltaire, there is no other band sounding alike The Young Gods! There were other bands at that time like Coroner and Celtic Frost, but they were more in the metal sector. In think that Yello was certainly an influence to me, but not necessarily musically. I really enjoyed this ‚collage thing’ they were doing. You know like, taking from Dancefloor, from Mambo, from psychedelic sounds. But where did your motivation come from to experiment with such unusual compositions, having the sounds in the main focus, rather than the actual instruments? We always wanted to be very much a live band. The technical evolvements soon made it possible to perform that kind of music on stage. We were simply tired of the formula, bass, drum and guitar - we wanted more. You were actually able to create a new language musically. Of course, nowadays the sampling is all over the place and it has changed so much. Take Hip-Hop for instance, at the beginning there were just the turn tables, but then in the studio you had all the samplers... – not to mention R&B and Electronica. There was certainly a fascination, but we were probably the only ones to use only this as a main source. You had other people using samplers at that time, but never so radically. You know, it’s a communication thing: you create your own language. There is a strong power of suggestion in this music with mixing sounds and words. That was definitely our motivation. I had an older brother who introduced me to the ‚sixties music’ when I was around nine. It was all about that freedom thing, you know... It gave you a bit of distance to the somewhat conservative family life. It was an outlet to break out and create your own little world. Music was basically opening minds... Before The Young Gods, I was playing in several punk-rock bands, but the Sixties and late Seventies were clearly a big influence on me. Do you actually like it when people compare your voice to Jim Morrisson? Yes, why not (laughs). I mean - he had a pretty good voice! I mean, there was an influence, but I could mention Pink Floyd as much as the Doors or Einstürzende Neubauten. But what I liked about the Doors was the mixture of words and sounds, you know... At that time I was probably more fascinated by the words and poetry than by the sound of the Doors. How does it feel nowadays when you hear bands like Radiohead that certainly have some kind of influence from The Young Gods? I don’t know if we had any influence on Radiohead, but it is definitely one of my favourite bands at the moment. It’s because they are daring, they are not the chicken pushing for success to sell records. They really set an example and I hope more bands will have that kind of mentality. The music is way too formatted these days, Radiohead prooves that you don’t have to be like that and can still be successful. Ok, I understand that as a musician or an
Photography: jean marmeisse
artist you should do what motivates you most, but at the end of the day you also have to pay the rent...? Yes that is true, but I am also convinced that you can’t calculate this factor. I don’t think I would be the right person to say: ‚let’s do a commercial song and it’s gonna sell!’... That is just not working like that. In this business, you probably have thousands of potential hits out there, but no one will ever get to hear them, because there is so much marketing involved in the process of becoming commercial. Where do The Young Gods put their weight on? Is the music still that much in the foreground or do you use marketing instruments? We can’t count on marketing at all, because we are a complete ‚self product’. We first create the music and then we show it to potential labels. Then it is up to the label to take us on and promote us. I assume you prefer to keep total control over the music of The Young Gods? Yes, we want total control on everything that goes with the music. That is choosing the right producer, artworks, videos and so on. How is it working within the band – do all three members have the same say or is there somebody in the end who decides? Well, there’s somebody in the end who makes the interview (laughs)...! (Bernard Trontin:) We all have final words to speak, usually everybody is ok with what we are doing. What if there is a disagreement between you three, will Franz have the final say? If there is a case like that and Franz is trying to convince me, he will not smash it into my head and make it the only solution... (shouting and laughing). That’s not how we work, we really are finding solutions together. (Franz Treichler:) Come on Alain, join the interview! (Al Comet:) There is an interview going on, ohhh...? (big smile and joins our table) (Franz Treichler:) You know that famous ‚Madonna’ joke? No...? What’s the difference between a lead singer and a terrorist? What’s the difference? With a terrorist you can negotiate! (big laughter in the room). But seriously, when it comes to music, if one of us really doesn’t like a piece, we skip it. Because everybody has to be able to stand behind it and to perform it on stage. The way it works since Bernard joined the band is the following: everybody brings ideas and we jam together in order to get somewhere. I am probably the most difficult factor in the band, just because I have to sing... For instance, if Bernard comes up with a song, but I am not able to find the right approach to sing it, then I am not motivated to sing it, even though I might like the song. I feel like this band is very much functioning like a family, which in most bands is probably not the case. Most of the time you got one guy who decides and is somewhat of a boss or CEO and the others have to do
what the boss says, are you guys living proof of the cliché? Well, it’s not all that perfect, we also are having our harder times... Who gives you a hard time in the band (laughing) ? (Al Comet:) Me!! (mischievous smile) Do you consider yourself perfectionists? (Franz Treichler:) Yes and No, but it’s not what we are doing right now. Maybe a short few little things... (laughs). Which are? For example, Roli- our producer has been mixing songs for the whole week that we did a year and a half ago. We did basically like five songs back then. It was also a tough time, we were without a manager, but we somehow wanted to go on... From 2002 until 2005, we didn’t do that much. You know, the profile was a bit out of sight. We however still recorded those songs as a demo and it got our current manager Patrick very interested. We just had too many things going on in our heads and so it is a pleasure to work with an external producer, also to get things done! I have to admit that it was maybe a bit hard to work with an external producer, because we have our very own vision. Now it is an external vision, but we enjoy it very much. You kind of know what to expect, but you always get surprised as well, that’s what makes it so interesting. We have actually been working with Roli since the beginning. Back then he was a drummer for The Swans – a really dark, slow and loud band, at a time where everybody else was trying to play as fast as they could! Roli was producing for us from 1985 to 1995. After that we toured almost two years and we just needed a break and slow down after more than ten years of steady music making. A bit after, we got to know Bernard and we really wanted him to join the band! (Al Comet:) The first thing Bernard had to do was to build a brick wall! We gave him some gloves and we built a wall together. It was at this place called ‚ Artamis’, kind of a free space zone in Geneva... really funny. That’s the first thing we made him do (laughs). Did you guys live at ‚ Artamis’? (Franz Treichler:) No, but my studio is still there. We spent a lot of time there many years ago and the place was really happening. There was this part of the house dedicated to electronic music, it was called ‚The Database 59’. The basement of this place was a mess so we had to clean it up in order to play night and day. Yeah, so Bernard came really at the right time when we had to get this basement up to speed, - like: ,yeah Bernard, take another brick...’ (laughs). Then we did the album ‚Second Nature’ in 1997. We put it on the market independently through our former manager. How does it work when you are recording a record which you do on a very independent basis – do you get funding from the government or other sources? No – for the record actually not at all. We do it with the money from the concerts and tours and we have a co-producer (points at the manager). So you are trying to be on your own feet in order to completely control what you are doing? You know with a band of our age which is not like ‚the new surprising sensation’ - people (record labels) want to hear what we do in order to get signed. We really have to put our music
on their table and they will either say: ‚wow... - or fuck it!’ The best strategy is to remain independent as a band or a musician and to own your own music! We had problems with our former record label in Belgium, because they own all our music back to 1995! They have ‚life copyrights’ and they can do with it whatever they want. We certainly don’t want this anymore.We need to find ways to finance the record and then sell a license to a label that likes to release the record for a certain period of time. (Bernard Trontin:) It is very funny, before I joined The Young Gods, I was playing in other bands and composers would come to me and sing or play a melody like ..thra la la, la la (laughs) – when I joined The Young Gods it was like: ‚Hey listen to this sound, pfffffaaaaahhh (makes a noise like a construction truck). The thing is: we create a ‚Sound’, not a melody, yes, really. (Franz Treichler:) Well,... there is melody... (pensive, but assertive) For the new record to be released next year – do you have any expectations, I am sure that your manager Patrick does, but what are your expectations. Do you care about sales, whether people like it or not, if it is even gonna be played at the radio...? No, it’s not really a topic... (Al Comet:) We are gonna call the record ‚Platinum’ (joking, everybody laughing), or we could also call it ‚It’s about time’! (more laughter). (Bernard Trontin:) We want to turn back into a more rock oriented album with live songs as well. We also feel that we are closer back to rock... But we never talk about sales figures when it comes down to our music. (Franz Treichler:) Of course, if the record wouldn’t sell at all we’d get in the red figures and maybe rethink our concept. But there is a very good energy going on here and we feel very comfortable with Patrick (manager). Were you ever thinking of quitting the band? No, I never thought about stopping, not myself, I don’t know about the others.. (Al and Bernard shake their heads in unison: No, never). But it was more the question of how to manage a band right. All the administration, all the business and legal stuff – it’s good to know, but it takes too much time away from the music. Thanks to Patrick. But to get back to your question, there’s a great energy going on and we definitely have tons of projects. For the past twenty years, we have been able to do artistically what we’ve always wanted to do and that is a good sign of success. All the side effects, ups and downs, you know – it’s part of it and it’s exciting. That reminds me of one thing - when we get asked about the whole ‚underground’ or not ‚underground’ and all that kind of stuff... Jean-Luc Goddard, who also was kind of a avant-garde ‚collage’ artist, once said: ‚The margin gives the page a definition’!
“KNOCK ON WOOD” 2008 “Knock on Wood ” brings back delicious memories. Back in the ‘60s, Eddie Floyd reached the top of the charts with the same title, with his raw and charming brand of soul and R&B. Four decades later, The Young Gods’s new album has nothing to do with southern soul music, yet their “Knock on Wood ” has soul, and stands apart in the group’s exciting discography. At first glance, it seems odd to find these digital pioneers involved in an acoustic project. A year ago, they had just released their previous album, the electric and entrancing “Super Ready /Fragmenté ”, when an arty magazine based in Zurich asked them to keep a soundtrack journal of their travels (Truce Diaries ). Franz Treichler, Al Comet and Bernard Trontin used the opportunity to offer their fans several low-key concerts during which they revisited old songs (“Our House”, “Gasoline Man”, “Charlotte”), reframed new ones (“I’m the Drug”, “Everythere”), and covered a few classics (Richie Haven’s “Freedom”, Jimi Hendrix’s “If Six was Nine”, Suicide’s “Ghost Rider”, Radiohead’s “Everything in its Right Place”). The approach was psychedelic blues folk combined with electronic minimalism. Surprised and delighted to see the kings of sampling “playing real instruments” and warming the wood of their guitars, the audiences asked for more. Several shows later, the Gods started thinking about a live acoustic recording, but felt the whole concept could be up-graded. They asked Vincent Hänni, the guitar prodigy who accompanied them during the live gigs, to join them in a recording studio, and they got down to work the old-fashioned way, playing and recording acoustic instruments. The end result, published under the title “Knock on Wood ”, is an exciting and accessible work that demonstrates the wide range of sonic investigation undertaken by this extra-ordinary and atypical rock group. A DVD of the group playing live accompanies the CD. The album’s 11 tracks are arranged with vintage knowhow, and played with raw energy and humility. In an atmosphere of psychedelic celebration, Franz Treichler’s voice sounds warm, precise and strong, and his accomplices underscore the healing power of his chants. The exquisite quality of the sound recording reveals details that would otherwise be lost in a live performance. “Ghost Rider” sounds like a bona fide shamanic incantation. From “Our House” to “Skinflowers”, the music reveals the full extent of The Young Gods’ creativity and complicity. The harmonies have intoxicating power. On percussion, Bernard Trontin consistently delivers madness and novelty. With his enchanted sitar, Al Comet serves up pure hypnosis. And instrumentalist Vincent Hänni finds multiple ways of raising the stakes and transcending his colleagues’ exchanges. Like old vinyls that got played over and over again, “Knock on Wood” has the faculty of transporting listeners to another world. Don’t miss the opportunity. Released in 18.04.08 , Muve Recordings.
DANS KROEG ETES reebok south AFRICA Photography: Louis vorster
The second issue of
PANGRAM. is dedicated to
tony clifton the magazine would never have been finished without the inspiration of this: lounge singer, actor and ladies man
“PANGRAM. Published for weak humans.
Planning BLOOD.CULT.ART.MUSIC.VICE.CORRUPTION.LUST.DUST.MISTRUST.COUTURE .ANARCHY.FILTH.LOVE.HATE. GENIUS AND THE GENERAL BURDEN OF MAN. ISSUE TWO, *SEASONS IN THE ABYSS. Deadline: way over deadline
way over deadline
Theresa-Anne Mackintosh 14 yes/no sent done Reg Mombassa 10 yes/no sent done Belinda Blignaut 14 yes/no sent done Mark Mothersbaugh 10 yes/no sent done Midnight at the oasis 10 yes/no sent done Kreef hotel Chris Kreef 10 yes/no sent done Louis Minnaar 8 yes/no sent done Ashtray Electric 6 yes/no sent done Jane Wayne 6 yes/no sent done The Young Gods 6 yes/no sent done On funding ones own captivity Wihan van Zyl
Photographers: Louis Vorster Mark Reitz JoAnne Oliver JEAN MARMEISSE
(pan′gram′) noun A sentence containing all the letters of the alphabet; esp., such a sentence in which each letter is used only once.
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Is an online magazine containing general views of the restless public, their interests, ideas and social commentary from relevant subjects t...
Published on Mar 5, 2009
Is an online magazine containing general views of the restless public, their interests, ideas and social commentary from relevant subjects t...