3M EN MI GP HH TI SS iwni t h
Jay Reatard A p h e x Tw i n Tr i c k y Pedal Porn LindstrĂ¸m Melvins High Places Growing Of Montreal Flaming Lips Harvey Milk Marnie Stern
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From the Editor Even though some major labels courted him with “Dude, you’re the next Kurt Cobain” compliments earlier this year, I didn’t quite get Jay Reatard when I first saw him perform this past March at South by Southwest.Yeah, his Ramones-style approach—smash, bash and shout; call out song title; repeat—was refreshing, but Reatard’s manner of tearing through a set wasn’t particularly a revelation. It was an adrenaline shot that left me wondering what the hell just happened. Fast-forward to the June release of Reatard’s In the Red compilation, a stack of singles that reveal actual restraint amid picture-perfect pop tunes and exhilarating vignettes of ultraviolence. Reatard’s second singles comp in less than a year, Matador Singles ’08, follows suit with more of the same randomness, as if Reatard is meticulously documenting his creative growth one 7-inch at a time. Given the way his “sordid past”—drinking, drugging and no-show gigs—has been played up in the press, we sent our wildest writer, comrade J. Bennett, on a plane to Memphis in hopes of ripping Jay Reatard’s true story straight from the source. What he found out is much more revealing and disturbing than anything involving jilted promoters or fans that decided to play PunchOut!! with a guy who doesn’t have the patience for that kind of shit. As you’ll notice, our lengthy cover story is part of a new section called LP. Starting with this issue, we’re running one standard feature alongside unique experiments such as our bravely stomached Melvins tour-food diary and our Pedal Porn still-life photography—an interactive look at the guitar pedals Kevin Shields used on the My Bloody Valentine reunion tour. Aside from LP and our returning From the Stacks selections, we’ve also added an EP section of quick reads:You’ll learn Spinto Band’s favorite recipes, geek out about sci-fi with Marnie Stern and reminisce about Mogwai’s all-time greatest “fuck yeah” moments. In other news, self-titled’s staff has started working 14-hour days. That way we can crank
out more and more innovative issues in the coming year. As much as we love unleashing exclusive studio reports and interviews on our daily site, we’re determined to blow your mind with the potential of this whole digi-mag medium. (Read: The audio embedded in this issue is only the beginning.) Until next issue, stay warm,
Andrew Parks, Editor-in-Chief / Publisher
VIVIAN GIRLS | The Yard, Brooklyn, 7.12.08 / Photo by Emily Elsen
NATIVE KOREAN MUSIC | Union Pool, Brooklyn, 7.21.08 / Photo by Andrew Parks
SEBASTIAN TELLIER | Tribeca Grand, New York City, 8.1.08 / Photo by Travis Huggett
H arvey Milk p.24
F a int on
A p h ex Twin p.22
The self-titled Interview p.28
G ro w ing p.27
l ami n g Li ps p.20
ic hna p.16
arnie Stern p.14
O f Montrea l
S pi n t o B an d
HE BLINDED M E W ITH SC I EN CE
Marnie Stern shares her sci-fi fascination and explains how it applies to songwriting. I’ve always been attracted to the pure imaginative nature of sci-fi movies. Star Wars was the first movie I ever saw. I remember even really liking Inner Space as a kid. I wouldn’t categorize it as sci-fi, but it’s fun nevertheless. I guess the possibilities that science fiction presents to the world excite me, and I’ve always attached those kinds of possibilities to writing songs. It is easy to get caught up in structure and sometimes hard to let your mind go to that otherworldly realm where creativity catches fire. I even call it “being stuck in the Matrix” when I am too focused on accepted structures while writing songs. For a long time I was stuck on trying to do something new and different. And what I didn’t realize is that the only way to get to that new place is to take things from the past and the present. That can slowly turn into reinvention. photo by shawn brackbill 14
Ripley is the greatest heroine I can think of. Not only is she the baddest ass of them all, but she is also seen in this movie as a mother to Newt. In turn, she goes up against the big bad mama alien at the end, and they throw down. Da bomb!!! Terminator The idea of returning somewhere to correct a wrong always makes for a good movie in my book. The Matrix This one gets those ideas of open-ended possibilities really churning.
I watch this often. It’s dark, but the tone is surreal and lovely at the same time.
This is going to sound crazy, but I like Independence Day simply for the reason that it just keeps going and going and going.
Spinto Band JULIE’S JAMBOREE
1 zucchini, sliced into thin pieces 1 summer squash, also sliced 1 pint cherry tomatoes ½ onion, finely chopped 1 garlic clove (or 3, which is what I prefer) 1 tablespoon oregano leaves (OK, this is not that important) ¼ cup olive oil freshly grated parmesan cheese Boil pasta noodles. Combine all vegetables in a large bowl, and add the olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Dump oil onto baking sheet. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until squash is soft and caramelized. Once noodles are done cooking, mix everything together and add some parmesan cheese. WAA-LAA! – Jeffrey Hobson, drums
THE RUSSIAN HOLIDAY a twist on the White Russian 1 part vodka 1 part Kahlua, or coffee liquer of your choice 1 part eggnog (vanilla or golden preferred) Mix, strain and enjoy with friends and family by the fireplace. – Sam Hughes, keyboards/ backing vocals
BAP-ROOM BEET BRUSCHETTA
until the liquid has evaporated a bunch—maybe 5 minutes. Stir in salt. Remove from heat. Peel the beets that were roasting in the oven. It is best to let them cool down first. Cut those beets into 1-inch pieces. Blend up beets and goat cheese in a food processor and puree until silky smooth. Now that everything is prepared, you just need to spread the puree onto the bread and top with the sautéed greens. Congratulate yourself on what a great appetizer you have made and hope your guests appreciate both the taste and appearance of such a vivid dish. Apply for Bravo's Top Chef show and hope for the best. – Jon Eaton, guitar
1 bunch of beets (with the greens still attached) 1 sliced baguette, sliced into bruschetta-sized pieces, approx ½-inch thick 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 6 cloves garlic, minced 1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar 2 tablespoon water ¼ teaspon salt 4 ounces creamy goat cheese ¼ teaspoon fresh peppers My good buddy Jeff made this the other night for a party. It goes well with beer and jokes about Texas. Preheat your oven to 400. Cut the greens off the beets. Then set them aside for later use. Roast the beets in the oven (covered in tin foil) until tender—about 45 minutes to an hour. Turn the oven down a bit, to about 350. Toast your baguette slices in the oven, about 5 minutes on each side. Don’t burn them; that is a typical mistake in our kitchen. Thinly slice the beet green stems, and finely chop the leaves. Now you want to sauté a bunch of the ingredients. Add to a sauce pan on medium heat (in the following order): 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, beet stems, another tablespoon of olive oil and garlic. Stir. Add beet leaves, vinegar and water. Cook all that up proper
Filling 2 eight-ounce packages cream cheese ¾ cup sugar 2 cups mashed pumpkin 1 teaspoon cinnamon ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg ¼ teaspoon ground ginger pinch of salt 2 eggs whipped cream (or other topping of your choice) Gingersnap Crust 1¼ cups gingersnap cookie crumbs 3 tablespoons sugar 1½ tablespoons melted butter 15
For the filling, preheat oven to 350. Combine cream cheese and sugar. Beat with electric mixer until smooth. Blend in pumpkin, spices and salt. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Set mixture aside. For the crust, mix gingersnap crumbs, sugar and butter, and pat gently into a 9- to 10-inch pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Pour batter into pan, and bake for 50 minutes. Loosen rim, and cool completely. Chill and garnish with topping. Dust lightly with nutmeg, or if you’re feeling kind of crazy, some additional gingersnap crumbs. – Thomas Hughes, lead vocals/bass
YOUNG NICK KRILL’S SHOO-FLY BREAKFAST
¾ cup high-protein/high-fiber cereal ¾ cup low-fat small-curd cottage cheese ¼ cup raw cashew pieces ¼ cup raw almonds ¼ cup dried fruit or one sliced piece of fresh fruit 1 tablespoon dark molasses Scoop cottage cheese into a large bowl, and mix in molasses until it is evenly distributed. Next, mix in the nuts, and add the fruit on top. This recipe serves one hungry young Nick Krill or maybe two less hungry people. Some variations: Instead of molasses, substitute maple syrup for Young Nick Krill’s ShooCanadian Breakfast, or honey for Young Nick Krill’s Shoo-Bear Breakfast. Instead of cottage cheese, substitute plain yogurt for Young Nick Krill’s Greek Shoo-Fly Breakfast. – Nick Krill, lead vocals/guitar Photo by Travis Huggett
EMEMBER CA S S E T T E S ? Although he’s just now celebrating the release of his long-overdue solo debut, Adrian Michna started leaving his genre-jumping stamp on New York and Miami more than a decade ago with a series of side projects, his Egg Foo Young alias and the dearly missed Secret Frequency Crew. Producing music under his surname, Michna handcrafted Magic Monday (Ghostly) from live instrumentation and freshly baked samples. The following commentary follows just five of the countless tapes that sparked Michna’s everevolving career. Click on the cassette covers to listen for yourself. Photos by Travis Huggett
Formed in 1993, this was my first band. [Our guitarist] was way into Nation of Ulysses and loved that they had a trumpet, so that’s one of the reasons I was brought in. The songs jumped from fast hardcore punk to slow dream-rock, like Porno for Pyros. The album was recorded on a 4-track with two Radio Shack PZM room mics. Once we had a master copy, we hand-duped a buttload of copies using dual cassette decks and then color-copied, cut and folded all the art. In our notes we thanked “everyone who got into us.” Then we broke up.
Started a new band in 1995: the Fabulous Six Youth Movement. We wore costumes at shows and brought dancers onstage. We recorded an EP, The White Tape, at a metal mullet-head studio in Matawan, New Jersey. The recording sounded like hiss and cotton balls, but it looked cool pressed to a solid white-shell cassette. All copies of The White Tape vanished, but in 1996 we added another member, built more costumes, borrowed projectors and smoke machines, added a mannequin to the lineup and decided to throw the party to end all parties—and record it all.
The Blue Tape
By 1997 the Fabsix’s new compositions started turning into magnum opuses. We were seven members strong and influenced by the Orb, Parliament/Funkadelic, Burning Spear, Wu-Tang, The Swirlies and Stereolab. We headed to Tarquin Studios in Connecticut to record three songs, each about 10 minutes long. Once the live stuff was recorded, we added synths, drum machines, scratches and VHS samples. We pressed it to cassette and called it The Blue Tape.
Summer of 1997 I got a job as a camp counselor to replace my broken turntables with some Technics 1200s. I found a used pair. They were pretty beat up but still worth the $300 each. I then spent the rest of ’97–’98 in my bedroom scratching, juggling and recording a mixtape with the 4-track. I wanted to combine some 4-track trickery with party blends—kind of like Coldcut, but use hot shit like a Photek remix of Dr. Octagon.
Around 2007 I got really turned off by the amount of “Internet mixtapes” begging to be downloaded for free. Most people who know me know that I am far from a hater, but MySpace was becoming a cesspool for chumps. In addition, if your mix is free, it probably sucks. Gig wise, 2007 was pretty good for me, so I decided to cap the year off with a mixtape of all the tunes I had been playing out. It touched on freestyle, Baltimore, house, techno, electro, bass and some musical numbers, like this unreleased XXXChange remix of Thom Yorke.
GANG GANG DANCE SAINT DYMPHNA O U T
N O W
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S O C I A L
R E G I S T R Y
I N T H E C I TY
Oslo By Lindstrøm I’ve wanted to move to a big city like New York or London since my early 20s, but recently I’ve started to think that Oslo, Norway, is the best city in the world. I grew up in Stavanger, a small city on the west coast of Norway, and moved to Oslo to study when I was around 22. It was exciting for a few years, and then boring for a few years. But after I got to know the world by traveling and performing, I realized that Oslo is the perfect place to live—safe and comfortable. Not really much happening around here. Which suits me perfect, actually. It feels nice to be outside of the world somehow.
Summer is the best season obviously. It lasts from early May until early September. One of my favorite places in the summer is Ulsrudvannet (1), where the water gets warmer than anywhere else. When the blueberries are ready for picking, I usually go a bit outside of the city. Fifteen minutes by train is Nordmarka (2) to the north and Østmarka to the east. These are also good spots for cross-country skiing in the winter or just hiking in the spring or autumn when I’m not searching for second-hand vinyl in markets or at Bjørn Ringstrøms Antikvariat (3), Oslo’s best record store. This is where I find all my vinyl for relatively low prices. Recently, I’ve been very happy to find that food here is getting better, too! In Grünerløkka there’s an excellent bakery called Godt Brød (4) where you’ll get the best bread in the city. And the best coffee I’ve ever tasted is available at Tim Wendelboe's coffeehouse (5) in the same area. This is about all I need from the city where I live, and Oslo has it all! photo by kim kiorthøy
Lindstrøm’s first official full-length, Where You Go I Go Too, is out now on Smalltown Supersound.
LIB S E RV I C E
Flaming L ips
The Flaming Lipsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; long-awaited film debut, Christmas on Mars, comes out on DVD November 11.
A phex Twin Photo: Travis Huggett
Dapose (guitar): Aphex Twin programs machines that make me feel weird...
London for the first time ever with one rehearsal day, so that night we saw Aphex Twin and his Rephlex buddy DMX Krew. When Aphex Twin took the stage, well, he didn’t really take it—he set up where a monitor engineer might stand. But I thought that was genius because he wanted people to dance and listen and not pay attention to him. When he played “Taking Control” and the sample came in saying, “I’m in total control,” I thought to myself, “Indeed you are!”
Start here: Drukqs (Warp, 2001)
Dapose: Drukqs is a masterpiece—from blast-off kung-fu acid-head beats to John Cageprepared piano genius to black underwater-soundscape madness. I loved this record when it came out, but it is a lot to love: two discs of very challenging music. The more I heard it, the more I loved it. Aphex Twin draws from the past, yet his great intellect paints a picture of what the future will be like—dark, warped, very fast and tremendously interesting.
Jacob Thiele (keys): Most people will tell you that Aphex Twin’s must-have albums are the [two volumes of] Selected Ambient Works. While I think we all agree that they are sure to be remembered for years to come, I don't think they are indicative of who Richard D. James really is, and what he's capable of. When Drukqs came I out, I heard it as a real statement, a manifesto that said, “I rule. You have never heard music like this, you have no idea how to make music this good. You don’t even know how I made this music. Now let me blow your mind!” This album has some of the most intense drum programming ever recorded, as well as some beautiful and haunting ambient pieces. We had the good fortune of arriving in
Joel Peterson (bass): It’s long. I really like the prepared piano stuff—it’s beautiful. LISTEN AND LEARN: “Mt. Saint Michel Mix/St. Michaels Mount”
Thiele: I love the acid synths and the breaks are just so badass. I know these titles generally seem meaningless, but I love this song because my parents always used to threaten to send me to Mount Michael’s boy school and this song to me is my response: Fuck that noise! Dapose: I had to go to that school Jacob is referring to, and it sucked. This song helps me deal with the pain. It'll tear your head off, then play around with your blood. Fat bass lines that fade into noise. Some weird cup breakdown. Blazing fast acid riffs. All quality sounds.
Then listen to this: Richard D. James (Warp, 1996)
Thiele: This is actually the first Aphex Twin record I bought. I got it on CD, which included the Girl/Boy EP. I was immediately attracted to
the synthetic and/or sampled strings and the contrast of something so organic with the drill-’n’-bass beats. I didn’t know what to think of it at first, so I put it on my shelf and didn’t listen to it for a couple of years. When “Windowlicker” came out and fucked my shit up, I pulled out Richard D. James again and it didn't leave my CD player for weeks. I was obsessed. Dapose: The first thing that struck me as very odd when introduced to Aphex Twin were his melodies. I was really trying to pay attention to these clicks and glitchy snares because I had never herd anything like it. I love that Richard D. James has a great ability to incorporate damaged elements into every part of his music. Every sound sounds like a broken toy, broken glass or broken drum. Clark Baechle (drums): Wouldn’t it be funny to have cryogenically frozen some great jazz drummer like Buddy Rich and then brought him to life in 1996 and played him this record and said, “Listen to how good drummers are now”? LISTEN AND LEARN: “Fingerbib” Dapose: This is a beautiful, timeless track. All the overlaying pads, delicate synth hooks and minimal drum beats form this massive cloud that, to me, is so British in feel. I don’t know why, but there is a sadness in his music that I feel when I’m there. This track is a bit of something real on an otherwise very glitchy, dark, fucked-up record.
And finally: Chosen Lord (Rephlex, 2006)
The Top 5 “Fuck Yeah!” Moments of Mogwai’s Decade-Plus Career
Thiele: This is actually a compilation from a bunch of 12-inches that our boy did under the name AFX. Basically, we have a bunch of acid jams, heavy on the vintage synths and drum machines. For many, this was a return to greatness for Aphex Twin, nostalgically bringing to mind some of his work in the ’90s, but for me, it's even better than that!
1. “Travel Is Dangerous,” Mr. Beast (2006) time of lift off … 0:57
In a less-is-more move, Mogwai sends this jam straight into the stratosphere before the first minute is even over. 2. “Ratts of the Capital,” Happy Songs For Happy People (2003)
Dapose: I really love the way he adds the vocal element to this album. Sounds to me like he uses this MIDI talking vocal box made by Flame. It helps engage the listener in a very alien-sounding record. I think the tracks are beautiful, but his melodies can really bum me out. He is always great at superdepressing, out-of-tune melodies but making you feel like you're supposed to be smiling. He's so evil! I love it.
time of lift off … 4:22
Already seared beyond recognition, it snarls and hisses at your speakers, uncoiling itself like a satisfied snake. 3. “Stereodee,” 4 Satin EP (1997) time of lift off … 5:06
This 13-minute nightmare spends half of its time sounding like a live Wolf Eyes remix of Mogwai, featuring nothing but feedback, off-kilter drums and effects-laden riffs. 4. “Batcat,” The Hawk Is Howling (2008) time of lift off … 0:20
Once the drums start to sputter and kick in, this track speeds right into what’s made Mogwai so vital for so long: unfiltered noise-cadet music you can’t help but hold on to for dear life.
LISTEN AND LEARN: “Fenix Funk 5” Dapose: The intro to this song lets you know how much you suck at programming and how much he rules. Then he tears it up with some cool vocal riffing that you couldn't do any better. This song goes from one little adventure to the next in traditional AFX analog restraint. Lots of noise, hi-hats and snares with bent melodies. Good to dance or write articles to.
5. “Sine Wave,” Rock Action (2001) time of lift off … 2:42
Demonic vocoder vocals get louder and louder as fuzz tones and clattering, synthetic beats threaten to consume us all.
O N T H E JO B
gg is closed for business on this sweltering June afternoon, but Stephen Tanner is dutifully at his post, braising duck legs and prepping sides in the Williamsburg eatery’s tiny kitchen. Back here, even three employees make for a tight fit, but since the restaurant received favorable write-ups in the New York Times and New York magazine (which dubbed Egg’s morning menu “the best breakfast, period”), there hasn’t been a free moment to waste. By his own estimate, Tanner has been working in restaurants for the past 22 years. “When I was fourteen my dad put me on punishment for bad grades, so I couldn’t leave the house on weekends,” recalls the 36-year-old Albany, Georgia, native. “Every Friday night we’d get Chinese takeout from this one place in town. One night he came home with the food and told me, ‘You’re not gonna sit on your ass anymore. From now on, you’re going to work as a busboy at the House of China.’ I was supposed to be in trouble, but instead I was eating free food and drinking Budweisers with Chinese people.” As he moved up the line as a cook in ’90s, he also started the band Harvey Milk, a mercilessly heavy rock trio based in Athens, Georgia, with guitarist Creston Spiers and drummer Paul Trudeau. It’s still uncertain what a band that used to employ an anvil and sledgehammer as percussion instruments has to do with the slain, openly gay city supervisor of San Francisco, but the leavening mix of crushing brutality and heartfelt sentiment—think Leonard Cohen as realized by Swans—gave way to a series of
Stephen Tanner is enjoying a second shot at what he loves best: cookin’ and rockin’.
recordings that broke loose into southern-fried boogie rock by the time the group’s third album, 1998’s The Pleaser, surfaced. Soon after, Harvey Milk went on hiatus, and Tanner decamped to Portland, Oregon, and then to Brooklyn, where he’s lived ever since. After six and a half years working in the kitchens of Diner and Marlow & Sons, Tanner decided to strike out on his own. In 2006 he opened the southern eatery Pies-n-Thighs in the shadows of the Williamsburg Bridge. Receiving kudos from the Times, Edible Brooklyn and even Bloomberg magazine, the restaurant’s quick rise to fame mirrored that of Egg.
make jokes and listen to comedy albums. We want to make Harvey Milk whoopee cushions with Creston’s face on them.” Back in the kitchen, the excitement’s turned to the whole pig that’s come in from a local farm. “This’ll provide two shoulders for pulled pork and country ham, about fourteen chops and two loins,” Tanner claims. “Plus, we’ll make head cheese and bacon and use all the fat for our biscuits.” Rotating three daily seasonal menus that focus on southern cooking with organic ingredients, the restaurant now has a farm that Weld purchased upstate on which he’ll try his hand at growing fruits and vegetables as well as raising livestock, all of which will end up on his customers’ plates. “Most people who I know who play music do it because they want to blow people’s minds,” Tanner reflects. “I think the mentality behind people who cook for a living is pretty similar: Make something good, and do it over and over again.” DOUG MOSUROCK / PHOTOS By tom winchester
“MAKE SOMETHING GOOD, AND DO IT OVER AND
Best One-Two-Punch Opening of Fall 2008:
OVER AGAIN.” “I always wanted to have my own place,” reflects Tanner. “So I saved my money, spent it all getting the place ready, and it went through the roof. But I fucking hated it. It never fucking stops, and it’s one hassle after another. Someone will rip you off. Something breaks. The Health Department of New York is insane. It’s amazing that any of these places are able to stay open.” In 2007, Tanner sold his share of the business; soon after, city inspectors forced Pies-n-Thighs to close, though its new owner is preparing to reopen in a nearby location. “I don’t think I’d ever try to open another restaurant in this town,” Tanner says. “But it’s a pretty noble thing to do, if you’re honest about it.” That search for honesty led Tanner back to the kitchen. At Egg, which is owned and run by George Weld, Tanner oversees the restaurant’s lunch and dinner menus. “I could have gotten a job where I’d have made a lot more money, but you can’t really put a price on working for somebody that you actually respect,” Tanner says of Weld. One could draw parallels to the reactivation of Harvey Milk, in that honesty and persistence can pay off. The band has parlayed an eight-year absence into a series of reissues, a limited-edition live DVD and a return to the studio. Working with heavy/indie label Hydra Head, the band reunited with Pleaser-era drummer Kyle Hughes and landed underground metal legend Joe Preston (Thrones, Melvins, High on Fire) on second guitar. The group’s latest, Life...the Best Game in Town, is its most diverse and uncompromising effort to date. “Kyle always says that stopping was the best thing we ever did, career wise,” remarks Tanner. “At our shows in March, heading down to SXSW, people were driving from all over the country to see us, and there’s all these really young kids in the crowd. Even little towns like Denton, Texas, had all these psychotic Harvey Milk fans showing up. “A lot of bands stop touring because they don’t like it or they’re fighting,” he continues. “We’re all good friends. All we like to do is eat fast food,
Parts & Labor, Receivers (Jagjaguwar) There’s something incredibly triumphant about the curtain-raising cuts on Parts & Labor’s third Jagjaguwar LP. For starters, “Satellites” turns seven potentially draining minutes into a digestible slice of noise pop—a static-laced epic that’s about persevering through “the rain and the snow” despite the fact that there’s “nothing more to know here.” And nipping right at its heels is the much more compact “Nowheres Nigh,” which one of selftitled’s friends referred to as “what the Killers should be writing.” That’s a bit of a stretch, of course. It’s not exactly dance-rock done right; more like a sign of life after the departure of P&L drummer Christopher Weingarten. And yeah, that life’s poppier than the group's ever been. Color us thrilled.
EP FR EE A S S O C I ATIO N
Of Mont real But first, a sampling of lyrical excerpts from Of Montreal’s ninth album, Skeletal Lamping (Polyvinyl): “I’m a motherfucking headline, and bitch, you don’t even know it.” (“Wicked Wisdom”) “We can do it softcore if you want, but you should know that I go both ways.” (“For Our Elegant Caste”) “I’m so sick of suckin’ the dick of this cruel, cruel city.” (“St. Exquisite’s Confessions”) In other words: just a few reasons why Of Montreal’s latest is possibly the band’s best and certain to be its most polarizing. Other reasons include guitar freak-outs, straight-up soul songs, beats galore and multi-movement opuses that make the Fiery Furnaces seem modest. What the hell is Kevin Barnes thinking? self-titled pressed the bandleader to explain a few of Skeletal Lamping’s most provocative tracks. Now it all makes sense. Actually, not at all. Austin L. Ray “ W IC K E D W I SDOM” “A knife in the water and perhaps one to the throat of modern-day unicorn poachers. Unicorn soy meat on the counter and on the breath. The political strain can be felt. I have noticed a variety of insects. White girls do have plenty of ideas. Just ask Le Tigre. Yoko Ono wrote me a postcard once. I guess she’s not really white, though. She probably looks it, in some lights. Tom Waits is probably not a racist. Gender rolls are being served at the Holiday Inn Express, and the business class is losing their shit, like, for real. There is no real reason to pick on Phaidon Press. No one has a problem with them, save one or two temps.”
“FOR OUR ELEGA N T C AS TE” “The girls like the pink wombs, and the boys like the gray ones. No martial plan has been adopted or enforced. The uniforms have been purchased and the iron-ons have been considered. When it comes to over-self-medicating, Dr. Ohm is asleep on the couch again. Frightened, cornered Gemini tactics and attempts to crack the party code. That’s what I had to offer my first psychiatric evaluation. ‘Don’t you realize that the stars have moved and you are not the astrological sign that has been assigned to you?’ But this must not be true! Anyways...there were dreams of teeth eroding, and I just wanted to ask about the significance of a reptilian presence.”
“ G A LLE RY P IE C E ” “Manely hair was on the sign I passed often in my teenage years. It may still be erect. God only knows, and the people of Palm Beach Gardens. I went there once to see about getting a trim. The sign had a proud lion in black and white. He might have been roaring. He might have been transgender. God only knows with lions, you know? Anyways, I also remember an incident that occurred outside of the Burger King on the same street. This girl we knew worked there, and she had this really fucked-up boyfriend. Once he picked a fight with a customer who was ordering something at the drive-through. The boyfriend was out of control. He’s probably a meth head now and a catholic priest. To be queered out in a place like that is unfortunate. Luckily, mine came at the hands of the Swedes.” 26
“ S T. E X Q U I S I T E ’ S C O N FE S S I O N S ” “My mother had a copy of the Confessions of St. Augustine in our bathroom when I was in high school. I never read it, but I liked the title. I liked the sinister quality of it. What sort of confessions could this saint have to make? If I were a saint, I decided, I would want to be known as St. Exquisite. I love the word exquisite because it is so dramatic and ridiculous. It can only be used to describe something that cannot truly be exquisite. For example, a large gold- and diamondencrusted pinky ring or a $500,000 wedding cake or something like that. I love when it is used in softcore porn movie titles like Exquisite Rendezvous. That should be a movie if it isn’t already. Will you make it?”
EP D I S C O
Growi ng Although we’ve always dug the shimmering dronescapes of Growing, self-titled sometimes has a difficult time telling their records apart. Maybe it’s because the duo’s stuck to an instrumental template for nearly a decade; either that, or it’s because bassist Kevin Doria and guitarist Joe Denardo have whittled their sprawling shards of riffs and EFX down to a distinct “Growing sound” throughout the course of countless LPs, EPs, splits, cassettes and limited live albums. Whatever the case, we asked Doria to give us a guide to most of his back catalog, including the recently released All the Way. PHOTO: Shawn Brackbill Dry Dr unk On Woman 7” (Megablade/Nail In the Coffin, 2002) We were a really young band when we made this recording. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but I definitely feel we’ve developed a lot since then. We recorded it at home, so we didn’t really have the luxury of “quality signal processing.” T h e S ky ’s Run I nto T h e S e a (Kranky, 2003) For some reason, people find this to be our most accessible release. Which is weird because the songs and the record are so long. When we were recording it, we didn’t know Kranky was going to release it. In fact, I didn’t know what Kranky was until after they said they wanted to release it. Once that happened, they sent us some of their older releases, and it was exciting. I’m still pretty naive when it comes to these things. Business has never been my forte. I was just really excited that somebody wanted to release the record we made.
The S oul of th e R ai n bow a nd the Harmon y of Li g h t
C ol or Wh e e l
Lat er a l
(2006, Troubleman Unlimited)
We definitely pulled some crazy techniques on this one. I always try to approach the studio as an opportunity to fuck with our sound. I get really motivated and will work for 14 to 20 hours straight, then sleep for a minute, wake up and start over. It’s the most exciting part of the process for me.
EP (Social Registry, 2008)
We definitely made a choice about shortening the songs here. I’m glad we did. It ends up making the songs a lot more active, which I’m enjoying. We’ve been playing together for almost 10 years, so to keep doing the same thing would be really difficult and extremely boring for us.
Vi si on Sw i m
A l l th e Wa y
(2007, Troubleman Unlimited)
LP (Social Registry, 2008)
Soul of the Rainbow was recorded while I still lived in Olympia. [Drummer] Eryn [Ross] quit Growing partly because we were leaving town and because Joe and I work together so closely. We aren’t always the easiest people to communicate with when it comes to the creative process. I didn’t know a whole lot about Brooklyn before I came here [in 2004]. The only bands I really knew about were Orthrelm and Black Dice. Everything else was still pretty new to me. I don’t really think about scene stuff so much, but that’s why I miss out on things—I tend to sleep through class most of the time.
We had a bit of a falling out with Troubleman around this time. They didn’t like the way we worked, and we didn’t like they way they worked. It was unfortunate because everybody started out as friends, and it didn’t end in a good way. I’m still bummed out about how that went down, but that’s life. We went with Social Registry [after this album] because those guys really give a shit about everything they put out. It’s a healthy relationship instead of a dysfunctional one. “On Anon” was the best Growing song we had done up to that point. I also really liked “Morning Drive.” That was when we started to get a handle on more rhythmic things, which bothered a lot of people.
His R eturn
(2005, Troubleman Unlimited)
Joe sang the vocals on [“Freedom Towards Death”]. I don’t really like fucking with vocals because it’s really hard to do live when we play at smaller places. I wouldn’t be surprised if they started to come back in the future, though. We just haven’t found a way we really like to do them yet.
We’ve been compared to Black Dice a lot. It’s fair in that neither of us make standard rock songs, but that’s about it. I’m not sure why people lean on comparisons so hard to write their story, but they do. I think it’s damaging to all the artists involved and anyone trying to listen to the record because once you have a hard association with something, you can’t really draw your own conclusions. Anyway, I think this is our best record. As far as what comes next, I don’t know. We don’t really have a set of goals other than to just keep writing music the best we can and hopefully in ways we haven’t before.
Interviews by Arye Dworken & A.D. Amorosi / Photos by Lloyd Bishop
s you might imagine given Tricky’s track record (including crucial trip-hop touchstones PreMillenium Tension and Maxinquaye) and family history (his father left before he was born, and his mother committed suicide when he was a toddler), the artist is, well, tricky. So much so that the following self-titled interview pieces together a pair of interviews with the legend: one conducted in the early summer months, as a laidback Tricky spent time in London, and one filed in the middle of a rare (and by the sound of his swift answers, quite stressful) US tour behind his new return-to-form record, Knowle West Boy (Domino). As squirrelly as Tricky can be in person, he offers rare insights into an enduring icon of pitch-dark pop music and the Bristol sound that gave birth to Massive Attack (one of his first rapping gigs) and Portishead.
self-titled: We haven’t heard much from you since 2003. What have you been up to? I’m always traveling. When I’m in one place for too long, I stop noticing things. My favorite place to go is Japan. I don’t recognize it at all. I feel, when I’m there, that I could be on Mars in the distant future. Do you consider yourself press shy? Sometimes I feel like I have nothing to say. And with the press, you always have to have something to say. I had to have some adventures to have things to talk about. The music industry is a press game—keeping your profile up—and I didn’t have so much to say about [2001’s] Blowback and [2003’s] Vulnerable. That was a reflective time of my life. Now I’m doing loads of press because I have so much to do. Some people do construction work; this is my job. It’s nice that people are interested in what I have to say. If you’re working a 9-to-5, no one’s asking you your opinion. You’re wearing a mask on the cover of Knowle West Boy. Are you tired of being photographed? No. I was on Sunset Boulevard, and I saw that mask. I love acting. I love pantomime. Music is a great opportunity to be other people. Sometimes I become my mother. Sometimes I become my grandmother. Sometimes I want to be a woman. Sometimes I want to be a rapper. Sometimes I want to be Kate Bush.
The S/T Interview 29
Knowle West Boy is very autobiographical. Why follow that path now? This is the first page of the second chapter. I feel like this is my first album again. Sometimes you need to go backwards to go forward. The album title references the area of Bristol in which you grew up. How does Knowle West compare to parts of the United States? It’s quite like Boston, the Irish areas. It’s filled with generation after generation of families. It’s a ghetto but in a good way. My grandmother’s white, and my mother’s half white and half black. I grew up with my grandmother. So I knew that life. Have you seen the area change? There are a lot of areas in Britain that are still hardcore. There is no culture. No proper music. No education. One of the big problems in England is that no one really cares about the youth. When I was a kid, there used to be youth clubs. The first time I got turntables, it was in the youth clubs. There’s nothing like that now. You have to only hang out on the streets. You had a difficult upbringing. How did those struggles influence you as a musician? If my mother didn’t commit suicide, if my father was there, I wouldn’t sound the same. I would be a totally different person. I accept that I was a problem child. I thought I was going crazy because I didn’t understand what I was. Now everything makes sense. I know who I am. I finally understand my personality. A girl complains to me about not loving because I’m numb. And now I understand why I’m numb. Since my mother killed herself, and since my dad left me, I know [that] I’m numb. I wouldn’t change it for the world. Nothing would be different if you could change the past? I would love to have met my mother. I would have loved to see what she was like. Not really knowing her affects everything I do—my relationships, my friends, my lovers. What is your reaction to your own voice when you hear it on recordings? I wish I could sing. I have tried to sing, but I haven’t tried enough.
So your grandmother raised you? Yeah. She never spoke about my mother. I think she missed her too much. When I was three or four, she was smoking a cigarette and saying things like, “You look like your mom.” It was almost like I was my mom’s ghost. I know from my aunt that she wrote poetry as well. Everyone in my family was devastated by her loss, even up until today.
You were diagnosed with a odd health condition. Can you talk about it? I have this disorder called Candida. It takes the good bacteria and causes depression. I got help only when I felt so horrible that I wanted to hurt somebody...and understood that there was a risk of going to jail. Now I know I have it, so I know how to deal with it.
Is your grandmother still alive? She’s still kicking. The women in my family, they live. Unless when they don’t.
How do you deal with a condition like this on tour? Eating correct. Training. Exercising. If I eat McDonald’s, then I feel sick. Now, I crave asparagus with soy sauce. Although, I’m not a vegetarian.
What kind of music were you introduced to as a child? Billie Holiday was the first music I ever heard from my grandmother. I grew up also with my auntie who was white and had white kids. They would listen to Funkadelic one minute, Marc Bolan the other minute, David Bowie.
One of Knowle West Boy’s standouts is a song called “Coalition.” It’s uncharacteristically political. It’s 2008, and we’re still fucking moving backwards. The stuff we do, it’s kind of ridiculous. It makes me exhausted. We’re so devious as people, so devious.
When did you start making music? When I listened to the Specials and wished I was in that band. But I wrote lyrics first, not music. I heard vocals and lyrics. 30
TIP P I N G P O I N T
t's a few hours before Mary Pearson and Rob Barber—collectively known as High Places—are set to perform at The Yard, and they can’t find their microphone. It has a small, stump-shaped pick-up area that keeps Pearson’s soft voice from being eclipsed by feedback, and they hope it’s at their nearby apartment. If not, it’s probably in Philadelphia, where the duo played two nights prior. “You’re seeing me unravel right now,” says Barber, laughing. Two years ago, Pearson, 24, and Barber, 34, were each solo acts. They met when Pearson opened for a mutual friend’s band and quickly evolved into High Places (which refers to points you climb, not smoke, to reach). When Pearson’s sparse vocals converge with Barber’s upbeat sonic layers, the result is a musical cobweb, an assortment of sounds that meld into an airy, finely spun whole. Not ones for standard instrumentation, High Places use coins, plastic bags and mixing bowls. “I’ve been known to drive employees of Midwestern Salvation Army stores up the wall,” Barber says, “I’m tapping on everything, looking for good tones.” Live, the two embellish and sample those delicate noises, then blast them over big speakers. The music (Barber’s territory) usually comes before the lyrics (written by Pearson). Although they count Joni Mitchell, Santogold and Antony and the Johnsons as influences, they don’t limit their inspiration to music.
High Places’ self-titled debut (Thrill Jockey) features “Gold Coin,” a song inspired by light installation artist James Turrell. Previously on display at the Museum of Modern Art annex P.S.1, Turrell’s exhibit “Meeting” involved viewing the sky through a hole cut in the ceiling, which just might be the aesthetic equivalent of High Places’ music. Theirs is a dreamy, almost surreal sound—the lyrical delicacy and musical subtlety of Beach House and Animal Collective mixed with playful distortion that, on songs such as the bubbly track “Vision’s the First...,” makes you wonder if they’re playing underwater. Need a soundtrack to sunny days spent daydreaming on the grass? High Places are it. Pearson and Barber fit the roles of daydreamers. They are wide-eyed, polite and thoughtful. And today, they’re anxious. High Places are sharing the bill at The Yard with Oneida, Abe Vigoda and Ponytail, among others, and they aren’t sure if the all-day show is running on time. “I’m nervous,” Barber says. “Are you?” Pearson asks. “Yes,” he says softly. But when they set off to retrieve their mic, it feels like they’re going where they belong: outside, to make music under the clouds. COURTNEY BALESTIER / PHOTO BY lloyd bishop
T I P P I N G P OIN T
ilo Bonacci wanted as many people as possible in his band. Dozens of musicians would be preferable, and no musical possibility could go unexplored. But when the Ra Ra Riot guitarist asked Rebecca Zeller to join, the classically trained violinist agreed with two caveats. “I told him, ‘Yeah, I’m interested, and I might be awful the first two practices, but I promise I’ll get the hang of it,’ ” recalls Zeller, sitting with her bandmates in her Brooklyn apartment. “ ‘And I won’t sleep in a van.’ ” That second stipulation didn’t last long, though the troupe recently upgraded to two hotel rooms on tour—which is useful when you have six band members. In 2006, Ra Ra Riot began as a gaggle of Syracuse students (areas of study: physics, painting, etc.) that smashed together bits of Radiohead, Kate Bush and contemporary classical music. This past August the group released its lively full-length debut, The Rhumb Line (Barsuk), to acclaim from the likes of the New York Times and Rolling Stone. But the journey has been far from riotous. The group’s original singer, Shaw Flick—who, Zeller says, had a predilection for knee socks, micro shorts and jumping on the audience— quit once the band graduated from the house-party circuit. And shortly after signing with V2 Records in Europe, Ra Ra Riot watched as Universal bought the label, leaving the group in a since-resolved state of corporate limbo.
Following the release of a self-titled debut EP, the band’s then-drummer, John Pike, went missing after a Rhode Island performance. His dead body was later recovered on the coast of Fairhaven, Massachusetts. “We all felt it was important to continue,” says Zeller calmly, as if she’s accustomed to speaking about the tragedy. “I always think that John wouldn’t have wanted us to break up, and I think it helped preserve his memory a bit.” The Rhumb Line mixes surging new-wave energy with dramatic, everbuilding crescendos. Before his death in 2006, Pike submitted a song that eventually became the album’s opener, “Ghost Under Rocks.” “It was tough for me, personally, to write lyrics and trying to think of what his vision was,” says singer Wes Miles, who helped complete Pike’s contribution. The group labored with the elegiac “Ghost” for months before changing the arrangement to a minor key. “We were all struggling with it because it hadn’t completely clicked yet, and suddenly, it came together within an hour,” Bonacci says. “We added a bridge and laid it out that afternoon.” The resulting song illuminates The Rhumb Line as a tribute to Pike’s talent. “I definitely think about him every day,” Zeller says, “but it’s turned into a positive remembrance of the times we had together, as opposed to focusing on the sad parts.” MICHAEL TEDDER
TIP P I N G P O I N T
emember the carefree, coke-quaffing era of Ronald Reagan and Family Ties? What about the way it simply delayed the inevitable—a downward spiral of economic despair? Regardless of if you do, we’re there again, on the precipice between prosperity and end-of-days rhetoric about inconvenient truths and economic bailouts that may or may not be able to stop the bleeding. In other words, it’s high time for a cold-wave revival, dredging up the dread and icy synth lines of French acts such as KaS Product, Mathematiques Modernes and The (Hypothetical) Prophets. Ask the members of Poni Hoax about their potential role in such a welcome movement—as championed by such recent comps as So Young But So Cold and BIPPP— and they’ll bounce the following answers off one another: “I was born in 1970,” says vocalist Nicolas Ker. “By the end of that decade, I was only listening to the Ramones and Black Sabbath.” “Well, I was born in 1975,” adds keyboardist/composer Laurent Bardainne. “I didn’t know [cold-wave] bands until two years ago. They’re close to us, though, maybe because there’s no real blues/rock-’n’-roll background in France.” Oddly enough, the only band Poni Hoax's five members can agree on is the Doors. In fact, Bardainne describes Ker as “the neighborhood’s local Jim Morrison. Not only for his voice, if you know what I mean.” Oh, we know what you mean...about his voice. Caught somewhere between a standardized croon and a subterranean bellow, it feels like the Lizard King dressed in skinny black jeans, a sleek button-up and swatches of mascara. All
without a trace of irony, as if Ker the interviewee—a sarcastic bastard in the best way, if you must know—was heavily medicated and struck with a perpetual case of melancholy. “I don’t give a damn,” says Ker when we suggest that Poni Hoax is a pleasant break from Paris’s leading export: Ed Banger-esque electro. “I only listen to the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Primal Scream nowadays.” Something tells us he’s not kidding. As close as “You’re Gonna Miss My Love” comes to a frenzied take on Franz Ferdinand, most of Poni Hoax’s second full-length, Images of Sigrid (Tigersushi), splices timeless cold-wave touches with traces of vintage soundtrack music. Rather than sounding like a pastiche of the past, it resembles a lost ’79 LP, reissued and remastered for Carlos D. types. “Our influences come more from songs than bands,” explains Bardainne. “You like the bridge of this Prince song, the drum beat of that Daft Punk song and a Robert Palmer melody, and you try to mix it all. “[Ennio] Morricone, John Barry, John Carpenter and all the music of ‘La Nouvelle Vague’ [period] in cinema had a fresh and funny futurist approach to synth [compositions], with a big sense of melody and drama.” Poni Hoax has already started applying this approach to yet another album tentatively titled Darkness/Happiness, which Ker says is about “the gorgeous side of war.” Or not. As Bardainne puts it, “French people always try to be serious and dark when they do music, even when it’s ridiculous.” ANDREW PARKS / PHOTO BY SARAH MAXWELL 34
l Jay Reatard
A Place to
AV E o f M U T I L AT I O N
A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS frontman Oliver Ackermann shares his Kevin Shields-endorsed guitar pedals. Photos by Jonathon Kambouris 36
Shields’s order is the latest in a stream of direct DBA deals with such major artists as Nine Inch Nails, U2, Wilco, Spoon and TV on the Radio. And considering the rumored bidding war over A Place to Bury Strangers (we hear a certain major label is interested), it seems like only a matter of time before Ackermann moves from his two-man gig with a team of interns to a full-fledged operation funded by Marshall or Fender. Good thing Ackermann is too busy touring and working on his band’s second album to think much about it. That said, self-titled managed to steal an afternoon at Death by Audio to examine the guitar pedals that My Bloody Valentine brought on tour. Click on a pedal to hear what it sounds like.
f you’re like us and still reeling from My Bloody Valentine’s whirlwind of a reunion tour, you’re probably wondering one simple thing: How the hell did they do that? And by that, we mean the act of turning mid-sized venues into amusement park rides—sensory assaults on par with something you’d see at Universal Studios. A logical answer would be Kevin Shields’s battle-ready arsenal of cranked amps and chain-linked effects, created by a complete set of Death By Audio pedals. “I guess I’m over the thrill now, but yeah, it’s insane,” says Oliver Ackermann, founder of Death by Audio’s guitar pedal line and frontman of Brooklyn trio A Place to Bury Strangers. “Thinking about it, my brain is just mush.” Ackermann started DBA with Matt Conboy seven years ago. The company’s modest headquarters are in south Williamsburg at an art-collective building that shares a studio, a venue, a rehearsal space and more. 37
“Never explain. Your friends do not need it, and your enemies will not believe you anyway.”
— Elbert Hubbard, American philosopher, illustrator and soap salesman, 1896
here’s a rock band on the video screen, three dudes playing fast and loose in white T-shirts. Camera bulbs flash while people in the audience bob their heads and point fingers in the air. A guy in a baseball cap climbs onstage and staggers briefly in the direction of the drum kit. The bandleader grabs the interloper and attempts to steer him back into the crowd. The interloper’s shirt rips as he’s pushed offstage, and the bandleader loses his grip. The bandleader grabs him again. The shirt rips again. Finally, the bandleader spins the dude around and decks him—right in the squash, by the looks of it. The contact sequence is repeated six times in rapid succession, like a boxing highlight reel edited for maximum comedic effect. When the footage picks up again, the band members are packing up their gear. Large factions of the audience are booing. Others are clapping. Everyone seems to be yelling. Someone shouts, “You shouldn’t get paid then, pussies!” The bandleader is wearing a yellow jacket now. He directs a stream of indecipherable profanities at someone near the front of the stage. Then he walks off. The next day, the bandleader posts about the incident on his blog: “Last night’s show in Toronto got completely fucked up....We don’t need people getting so wild that they jump onstage and smash our gear—but that’s exactly what happened....People were throwing beer bottles at us, someone jumped onstage and smashed my pedals, another guy took a full pitcher of beer and dumped it all over the rest of my pedals and then threw it right at my Flying V, breaking the pickup and the input electronics. After three songs all our gear was smashed and unusable. Even when shit gets that crazy at [a] Circle Jerks show, there’s at least some security, but when I asked [the promoter] about it before the show he told me, ‘I thought you guys were a garage band.’ ” Another time, in Dallas, the bandleader shows up drunk to his own gig. There’s an altercation. OK, two altercations: one with the opening band and one with the promoter. The bandleader kicks the opening band off his show because he’s just read in an Austin weekly that the group decided not to use the tracks he produced for them. The argument with the promoter is a little more convoluted. It starts because underage fans are being denied entry—even though it’s an all-ages show—and ends with the bandleader leaving the venue (without playing), eating acid and watching The Shining in his hotel room. The promoter posts his version of the events on his blog, Parade of Flesh. Brooklyn Vegan reposts his entry. Idolator makes fun of the comments on Brooklyn Vegan. Then Pitchfork contacts the bandleader to write a response. He wisely declines, but the story lives on in teenagepunk-rock-shit-head-Interhole-warrior infamy because the thing about the Interhole is that it never fucking ends. Welcome to Jay Reatard’s Wild America, a place where the bandleader's every move is viewed through the twin microscopes of YouTube and the blogosphere, where everybody has a self-righteous opinion and where
SAY WHAT Y O U WI L L A BO U T G ARAG E-PUN K P H E N O M
J AY R EATARD . H E’ S HEAR D I T A L L BE F O R E . By J. Bennett Photos: J. Bennett cover/opposite Stepen Schuster
everybody wants a piece of the action—whatever the action might be. Type Reatard’s name into a YouTube search, and the first clip that comes up is the scene described in this story’s first paragraph, otherwise known as “Jay Reatard punching kid at the Silver Dollar.” The second clip that comes up is entitled “Jay Reatard—Kicks a dude in the face in Vegas!” Head over to the blogosphere and a torrential shit-storm of misspelled words and grammatically challenged accusations rolls down the screen like virtual punk-rock vomit: tales of hissy fits, walkouts, freakouts, punch-outs, pissing matches, lysergic hysteria, underage MySpace skanks, confrontation, obliteration, elimination. A foul-smelling, never-ending Niagara of he said/she said/Jay said/the promoter said back-and-forth and on and on—allegations, exaggerations and misrepresentations smeared across the digital walls of the punk-rock-blog basement like one gigantic Dirty Sanchez. “I feel like sometimes I can’t do anything anymore without somebody knowing something or going on Brooklyn Vegan and posting some shit,” Reatard says. “[That site] is like the TMZ of the blogosphere. If that’s a world, they’re probably the lamest planet in that universe. They’ll run any piece of garbage they can in order to get people to come to their Web site to see adverts for American Apparel.” Not that Reatard claims to be an angel, either: “I take full responsibility for everything I’ve ever done,” he says. “I’m not sorry for any of it. There are exaggerated versions of stories on the Internet, but a wise man once said, ‘Don’t apologize for anything.’ It’s just what happens. I don’t control the Internet. I’ve seen days when I wanted to kill it, but I can’t control it.”
People are amazed that I wrote all this music when i was so young, but I didn’t have anything else to do other than eat fast food and think about killing myself.
Without venturing down the steep, slippery slope of separating fact from fiction in online forums, it’s safe to say that Reatard’s biggest problem is that he pays attention to any of this shit to begin with. “I get pissed at myself for feeling like I have to defend myself on any level,” he admits. “I’ve purposely set up a lifestyle where I don’t have to answer to anyone for what I do, and the fact that I feel like I waste even one second thinking, ‘Wow, man, this dude leaving YouTube comments doesn’t like me...’ It’s like, ‘Get a fucking life. I have one. You should try it.’ ” On the other hand, Reatard seems to thrive upon negativity. Talk shit, heap scorn, call names—he’ll just write another song. At age 28, he has 16 full-length albums under his belt and more 7-inches and compilation tracks than a pirated iTunes playlist. “It’s fuel for me, man, fuel for the 44
fire,” he explains. “At some point, you get used to people not liking you, and then it just becomes part of life. If you don’t like my music, that’s fine, but it’s like this modern Internet phenomenon that all of a sudden people want to [critique] your personality. Chuck Berry was a horrible human being, but so what? You don’t have to get personal. I never listen to a record and go, ‘I bet Dee Dee Ramone was a real asshole.’ I’m sure he was. Blogs have killed the mystery.” Which begs the question: Why does Reatard have one? “Initially, it was something I started doing when I realized I was going to be in this long process of finding a new label,” he says. “I figured I’d put up some new songs for free, just to entertain the few thousand people who might be interested. But the more I think about it, I’m not sure why I did it. It’s just another place on the Interweb for people to post hate notes.”
Visions, Destruction Unit, Nervous Patterns and the Final Solutions for Reatard to realize it was time to go solo. Even during those early years, Reatard’s reputation preceded him. “I was intimidated by him at first,” says In The Red founder Larry Hardy. “I had been told he could be a volatile character. The first time I saw the Lost Sounds, they were opening for the Dirtbombs, and I just thought they were amazing. Jay was very confrontational, but in a very funny way in that he was putting down the audience, which I’m a big fan of. But that sort of prevented me from going up and introducing myself. He seemed really unapproachable. So it wound up being funny when I ended up working with him and found out that he’s actually super nice.” Reatard’s career as a collaborator came to an end in 2005, when the other members of the Lost Sounds—including his then-girlfriend, Alicja Trout, currently of River City Tanlines—wanted to put him on antidepressants. “I guess I was hard to deal with on tour, and after years of putting up with me, as they said, they gave me an ultimatum,” Reatard says. “I did it because I didn’t wanna lose my band, but halfway through the tour, I started pretending I was taking them when I wasn’t anymore. The weird thing is, it was almost like they could tell. So I guess it was working.” Unsurprisingly, the medication wasn't exactly conducive to making music. “It was conducive to me giving over control of the band to whoever else wanted it," Reatard points out. "I didn’t give a shit anymore. I was taking these pills that took away any ambition I had to fight. And that band was a constant battle for seniority, like ‘Who’s the alpha rocker?’ ” “Jay and Alicja broke up while we were working on an album, and I kinda got stuck in the middle of a couple of blowups between them,” Hardy offers. “That wasn’t much fun, but usually it was just a matter of calming down one party or the other.” Reatard clearly doesn’t miss those days. “Music isn’t a group sport for me,” he says. “The Lost Sounds was a fun band musically, but it was a negative experience overall. It was unfortunate that we started out as friends and ended as mortal enemies, but I’d rather go back and listen to those records than have any of those people as friends. I’m cool with one person from that band, but if I had to sacrifice the rest of them to make music, it was worth it. It’s not good to be sitting in a van with a bunch of people you wanna kill.” His current touring band consists of bassist Stephen Pope and drummer Billy Hayes, both of whom were borrowed from fellow Memphis garage denizens the Boston Chinks. “I first started talking to Stephen at—his parents are gonna love this—a drug house that we always used to cross paths at,” Reatard says. “I think the initial idea of ‘Hey, why don’t you come jam with me?’ was one of those drug-induced, talking-too-much kind of situations. But then they came over, and we jammed. I didn’t tell them I already had a European tour set up.” Pope hadn’t played much bass before—he plays guitar in the Chinks— but he already had the essential chemistry with Hayes. “Stephen wasn’t so good at bass at first, but I wanted him in my band because he’s probably the raddest person I’ve ever met,” Reatard says. “And that was a lot more important to me than having [bass virtuoso] Jaco Pastorius in my band or whoever.” “I don’t know how shocked he was, but I had never even picked up a bass before,” Pope admits when we meet him later at his house in Mem-
R I V E R CITY RHIZO ME At the Lamplighter Lounge in Memphis, Tennessee, longtime bartender Miss Shirley enforces a no-cussing policy. You can order a beer here like they do in the movies—without specifying the brand—because Miss Shirley only serves two kinds: Pabst Blue Ribbon and PBR. Jay Lindsey, aka Jay Reatard, is a regular here. He exalts the virtues of the Lamplighter’s grease-caked cheeseburgers and swears he’s seen Miss Shirley throw people out for swearing. She’s a regular Memphis institution, it seems, in a city full of institutions such as Graceland, Beale Street, BBQ ribs, Sun Studio and Stax Records. Reatard has lived in or around Memphis for most of his life, excluding the few months he moved to Atlanta while writing and recording his first solo album, Blood Visions. Despite its reputation as a music city, Memphis suits Reatard because few people here seem to know who he is or what he does. “Around Memphis, half the time people don’t even know if I’m here or not,” he says. “I’ll walk into a bar and people will be like, ‘You’re home?’ I’ll have been home for a month. It’s cool, though. I can disappear here.” Moments later, a pitcher of Pabst arrives that neither of us ordered. Miss Shirley points to a man seated at the bar and tells us it’s on him. Reatard raises his glass in the man's direction. The man flashes a toothy grin, waves and then leans toward his buddy on the next barstool. “Do you know who that is right there?” the man asks. “He’s Memphis’s own version of punk fuckin’ rock!” Reatard pours himself a fresh beer. “This whole interview will be a series of contradictions,” he says, picking up right where he left off. “I’m always confident when I’m recording here that no one’s gonna care what I’m doing. And up until this point—the past year or so—it seemed like I was going to be successful in keeping no one caring. My worst nightmare was that if I signed with a label, I’d have to go to New York or LA to record and have some A&R guy sticking his head in.” As nightmares go, an all-expenses-paid trip to New York or LA isn’t exactly wake-up-sweating material. But Reatard is used to doing things his own way. He’s been recording and producing his own albums since he was 15. When LA’s In The Red Records released Blood Visions in 2006, the record quickly became the most lauded of his career and subsequently landed him a deal with renowned indie powerhouse Matador Records. It only took a decade-plus of slugging it out in low-rent garage-punk outfits like the Reatards, the Lost Sounds, the Angry Angles, the Bad Times, Terror 45
phis. “I learned the songs really fast, though, and we went to South by Southwest and then to Europe. But I still don’t really know how to play bass. I know how to play the songs we do, but I can’t improvise at all. Hopefully I’ll never have to jam.” Pope, who rocks an impressive Melvins-esque afro (Reatard refers to King Buzzo as Pope’s “long lost uncle”) and cruises Memphis in a purple Cadillac, has since taken on several additional roles in Reatard’s life, including tour manager, babysitter and driver. On their most recent US tour, Pope drove all 13,000 miles. “Yeah, I drive the whole time,” he confirms. “I keep Jay’s passport at my house. It’s fine by me. I know where the money is. And because I have to drive, I can’t drink too much, so I don’t feel like shit every day. And I get paid extra when we’re on tour.” The money isn’t just for the driving, though. It’s partly for playing good cop to Reatard’s drunk/angry/bad cop. “Jay’s reputation has worked to our advantage sometimes,” Pope explains. “When the whole Toronto thing happened, I was trying to figure out everything with the promoter. Jay was obviously already upset, but the promoter of the show really wanted to talk to him. I knew that was a bad idea, so I acted like even I was too scared to talk to Jay, like, ‘No, man—he’s too crazy. I don’t even wanna go near him, so you definitely shouldn’t.’” At 22 years old, Hayes and Pope are both younger than Reatard, which is likely a reason why the relationship works so well. “Billy’s kind of like me when I was a teenager,” Reatard says. “He spends a lot of time alone, and music is all he’s interested in. I dig that. A lot of people might say that’s lazy, but if you’re self-employed, you work when you wanna work, and that’s always been my goal. My dad never worked for anybody—he always worked for himself. If I don’t wanna wake up till noon, so what? That’s kind of the allure of it.” From Reatard’s perspective, Pope and Hayes constitute the best band he’s ever had. “We’ve played two hundred and fifty shows together in a year and a half, and we’ve only had one fistfight,” Reatard says. “We were in Serbia, and I was shit-faced at our bed-and-breakfast. They had this wall of empty Coca-Cola crates, and I made up some drunken game to see who could crawl up this fifteen-foot-tall pile of plastic crates. Billy used a chair to climb up and was teasing me, like, ‘I won! I won!’ And I was so wasted, I basically turned into a toddler and whaled on him over some stupid race at five in the morning. I felt so fucking terrible the next day. I was like, ‘Oh, my god, I just jeopardized the best drummer I’ve ever played with—and a friendship—over a childish game.’ Other than that, we get along pretty well, I think. But who knows? My perspective could be pretty fucked up after the Lost Sounds.”
music was the only way to get that, so I started forcing myself to write a song every day. Even if no one cares, I could say I did it. I still get pissed off if I go to sleep at night and I haven’t recorded or written a song.” This self-discipline explains why Reatard’s Matador deal launched with six 7-inch singles, pressed throughout the past year. “The way I’m working with Matador, it’s kind of slowed down,” he explains. “I’m still working on a song every day, but I’ve learned not to put the pressure on myself to be that hyper-creative. I’ve learned to relax and realize that it’s not the end of the world if I can’t write a song for a week. Everybody says, ‘Oh, it must be so much pressure being on a bigger label,’ but man, I put more pressure on myself when no one was looking than Matador could ever put on me.” All this self-demand is the result of considerably less-than-auspicious circumstances. Reatard moved out of his house at 15 and dropped out of high school. At 16 he lied on an application to land a job at a stained-glass window factory. His parents moved away when he was 17. One day, his employer figured out his real age and fired him on the spot. From that point on, Reatard lived off of music by playing in six to eight bands at a time. “If I played once a month with each of them and made fifty or a hundred bucks each time, I’d get by,” he recalls. “I was a ‘dollar-menunaire,’ man. I was definitely a scumbag, but it worked out.” When we suggest he didn’t miss much by ditching high school, Reatard quickly ticks off a list of youthful pleasantries that far too many of us take for granted. “Only the finer things in life—like friends, girlfriends, being able to do fun things on the weekends. This was before the Internet, so there weren’t a whole lot of options for meeting people. That was crucial. People are amazed that I wrote all this music when I was so young, but I didn’t have anything else to do other than eat fast food and think about killing myself.” He may put slightly less pressure on himself these days, but Reatard is just as regimented as ever. He gets up around 10:30 each morning and lets his dog, Cola—a German shepherd mix—outside. Then he walks to the corner store to get an energy drink. (He’s not a coffee-drinker: “It just makes me too nervous, man. But a nice can of Pimp Juice doesn’t.”) He tries to buy a different brand every day because he thinks he might be developing a tolerance to them. He avoids Red Bull because he associates it with the taste with alcohol, and he doesn’t booze in the middle of the day—at least not on a workday. Then he’ll talk on the phone for an hour or so, making necessary business calls. By noon he’s hunkered down and recording until five or six, at which point he’ll grab a bite at his favorite Vietnamese restaurant before returning home to listen obsessively to everything he’s recorded that day. “Then I’ll try to go to sleep after all the caffeine I’ve consumed. Wake up. Repeat. It’s like that movie Groundhog Day. Sometimes I feel like Bill Murray.” Reatard generally doesn’t like to take drugs while making music, but this morning he popped some Adderall to enhance his recording mojo. “I went to eat at this restaurant the other day,” he says, “and when the waiter brought back my credit card, he’d charged me for, like, half of the stuff we ate and put a bunch of Adderalls in that little leather receipt-holder. I didn’t really know the guy, but we have a mutual friend in another city.” Adderall apparently helps Reatard focus. “I just chew ’em up like Flintstones vitamins,” he explains. “Snorting it’s useless. You just end up with orange boogers.”
P OR T R A IT OF THE ARTIST AS A Y OU N G MAN CHEW ING ADDERALL With a back catalog that rivals musicians three times his age, it’s understandable that Reatard’s name is almost always printed with the word “prolific” in the immediate vicinity. At one point, he was writing a song a day. “I think Memphis has some great musicians, but it’s filled with some of the most un-ambitious people I’ve ever seen,” he says. “They just sit around and complain about why things aren’t happening for them. I want to be the opposite of that. I don’t wanna be poor anymore. I don’t wanna wake up and not have stability. At some point, it flipped in my head that 46
FA K I N G I T “The image is one thing, and the human being is another. It’s very hard to live up to an image.” — Elvis Presley, at a June 1972 press conference As it turns out, Blood Visions was a concept record Reatard wrote about stalking and killing his ex-girlfriend. “Only a few people caught onto that,” he says, “It’s about this stalker guy. I put myself into this exaggerated, sensationalized character where I just took my own personality and multiplied it by ten. Some dude wrote his senior thesis about it and posted it online. It was like sixteen pages, where he breaks down every song. I think he was the only person who got it. It was wicked, man—it’s like he was on acid or something. He got everything right.” [Ed. note: A week after this interview, neither Reatard nor self-titled could find the thesis online.] Reatard’s forthcoming Matador full-length, which is tentatively set for a mid-’09 release, won’t be quite as morbid. “I’m doing what everybody does when they get old and boring,” he says with a laugh. “I’m getting introspective. It’s more about me than other people. I think I’m getting to that age where I’m not venting so much about things around me. I’m starting to figure out how I fit in. I feel like I’m part of a bigger picture.” That said, his recording regiment remains as stringent as ever. “My idea is to have 16 songs, with multiple versions of each to choose from,” he explains. “With any of the pop songs I’m writing now, they could be presented infinite amounts of ways, like whether I want them to be punk songs or more like the acoustic stuff I do sometimes.” Given his aversion to collaborations these days, it’s perhaps surprising that Reatard's letting Matador help decide what will make the final album. “If this thing doesn’t do so well, I want them to play a role in it, so I can blame them, too,” he says, implying he’s only half joking. “So from the demos to the completed versions, there’s a list of people I’ll send stuff to—close friends, people at Matador....Occasionally I’ll play a tune for my dad because he knows nothing about music and has the honesty of a small child. I mean, he likes Dwight Yoakam, you know? Sometimes people who are the most removed from what you’re doing can have the best perspective.” Expectations for Reatard’s album are high among label folks who’ve worked with him in the past. “[Blood Visions] was a jaw-dropper,” says Hardy. “Since then, everything he’s cranked out has been even more accessible and going in directions I didn’t expect. I can see big things happening. He’s got the talent to back it up: He’s a remarkable guitar player, he’s got a good voice, he’s got a knack for producing, and his songwriting is incredible. He can do it all, and that’s rare.” Matador founder Chris Lombardi recalls seeing Reatard for the first time at New York City’s Cake Shop and being blown away. He followed the artist to a Texas music festival. “At that time, Jay was being approached by numerous majors,” Lombardi says. “One of the guys he talked to said something like, ‘Kurt Cobain killed hair metal; you’re gonna kill emo.’ ” But Lombardi prefers pragmatism to hyperbole. “He could write radio singles until he’s blue in the face, but I don’t think he needs to stop being Jay,” Lombardi says. “We’re not expecting the next album to be some massive departure, but maybe it will be. There’s no pressure from us.” Reatard tells us that the working title of his next full-length is Faking It.
I don’t control the Internet. I’ve seen days when I wanted to kill it, but I can’t control it.
raccoon for eating my oatmeal. But I grew up in the country, so life’s pretty disposable out there. I grew up in a farming community. Now it seems kind of inhumane, but at the time, where I grew up, animals weren’t the most important thing.
When we ask the odds of that becoming the actual title, he says he simply doesn’t know, then explains its origin in a bring-it-all-back-home kind of way that most journalists live for. “A lot of people think that I’m contrived, that I’m playing a character,” he offers. “I’ve read things where people say they thought I paid that kid in Toronto to punch him so there’d be a media blitz or something.” But that’s a little too tidy.
Were you into hunting? I’d go hunting with my dad, but I could never bring myself to shoot a deer, so I missed a few times, on purpose. My dad wasn’t so happy, but I’m not gonna kill Bambi, dude. But if my dad kills him, I’ll eat him. Have you ever considered revenge the motivating factor behind the music you make? I never even thought of that until you mentioned it last night, but it was pretty apparent when you brought it up. Almost every song I’ve written in the last three years seems pretty spiteful and based in revenge. The constant theme is the underdog creep who prevails in the end. It sounds so petty, I guess, but I’m actually not that kind of person in my daily life.
We’ve played two hundred and fifty shows together in a year and a half, and we’ve only had one fistfight.
That’s how you express it, though—through your songs? Yeah, I guess so. The last Matador single [“Trapped Here”] has a mantra that repeats the line, “To watch them choke, it makes me breathe.” I’m still pretty immature. I’ve got that teen angst, but it keeps me young somewhat—at least my attitude. You know, there’s a saying that if you gave a baby a button that would destroy the world and you could explain to them what the button would do, they’d push it immediately. That was my idea when I started a punk band. I wasn’t worried about small goals like putting out a seven-inch. I wanted to destroy everything. Now I just write about that instead of trying to physically do it.
R E V E NG E , REATARD STYL E “It is therefore a precept of the law of nature, that in revenge we look not backwards, but forward. — Thomas Hobbes, De Cive, 1641 Believe it or not, Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk is on the turntable at Jay Reatard's house. Above the sofa hangs a framed poster for the 1981 Canadian horror movie The Pit. The plot, according to IMDb.com, is as follows: “Twelveyear-old Jamie Benjamin (Sammy Snyder) is a misunderstood lad. His classmates pick on him, his neighbors think he’s weird, and his parents ignore him. But now Jamie has a secret weapon: Deep in the woods he has discovered a deep pit full of man-eating creatures he calls Trogs...and it isn’t long before he gets an idea for getting revenge and feeding the Trogs in the process!” The Pit is one of Reatard’s favorite movies, which might be one of the most telling details we’ve uncovered about him so far. Blood Visions was, after all, a revenge record. But in hindsight, it was merely a culmination, the apex of a psychological and behavioral pattern that started years ago. When Reatard was 13, for instance, he shot a raccoon with a bow and arrow. “Archery was my big deal,” he says. “I was terrible at it, but something was breaking into our pantry and eating all the dry goods. We lived on the outskirts of Memphis at the time, out near this state park. It was a little bit more rural. My dad was like, ‘Kid, I’ll give you fifty dollars if you can kill whatever it is.’ So I stood outside with my bow and arrow all night until I saw the fucking raccoon go in. I had a friend of mine scare it out, and it ran right up a tree. So I aimed and shot it. I kept pumping arrows into it—I think I shot it eight or nine times. It finally fell out of the tree, and I was pissed because when it fell, it broke about fifty dollars worth of arrows. So I cut its fuckin’ head off, boiled the skin off and saved it as a trophy.”
How would you physically do it in the past? I got really into smashing disco balls for a while. Every time we’d be on tour in Europe, the show would end and a disco ball would drop down and the place would turn into a techno dance club. So I thought, “What would bum these dudes out more than if somebody smashed all their fancy lights?” So I smashed one every night on our European tour. I ended up spending over two thousand dollars on disco balls. The last one I broke was actually in the states, at the Empty Bottle in Chicago, and they made me buy it. It’s in my house. I told the guy, “If I’m buying it, I’m taking it.” It cost me a hundred and fifty bucks. After that, I refused to play the Empty Bottle. But recently, the guy said if we played there, he’d give me the one-fifty back on top of whatever we make. So sometimes being stubborn works out. But I don’t know what the void is in my personality that makes me get satisfaction out of stuff like that. Is revenge the motivating factor for what you’re working on now? It’s probably revenge on myself, for wasting time. I feel like I spent so much time in my youth worrying about trivial bullshit. I wasted so much energy and time on things that didn’t matter. Like what? Like trying to get back at people.
Do you still have the skull? No, but that’s when I realized I was a weird kid. I was so angry at this 48
A LIVE HISTORY OF GLUTTONY
ME L V I N S
share a f o o d - c e n t r i c diary f r o m t h e Nude Wi t h Bo o t s t o u r.
Minneapolis, MN 8.2.08
back-alley cookout featuring Jared’s own creation: teriyaki ginger-glazed chicken. The roasted veggies were delicious—crisp and savory. The meal provided [drummer] Dale [Crover] with enough energy to play two sets that night, then destroy Jimmy Fallon in an arm-wrestling match. I probably should have gotten pics of that. — Coady
Here we are at Tom Hazelmyer’s fabulous new Grumpy’s location in Minneapolis. Who needs a breakfast buffet when you have a bloody Mary bar? All the nutrition you need to seize the day is right here. Pepperoni, mushrooms, green beans, peppers, olives, lemons, limes and a variety of hot sauces and spices. (Horseradish is the secret, people.) Minneapolis is also the first place I was given a beerback with my Mary. They call it a “snit” for some reason. Anyway, it’s like the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of alcoholic beverages. Delicious! — Coady Willis, drummer (also in Big Business)
came out of my butt the next day.) A friend took us to this place just around the corner from the venue in Brooklyn. We like to try the weird if it presents itself, such as the baby octopus found here. Tasty! — Tim Moss (member of Porn, along with Dale, Toshi, and Neurosis/Mr. Bungle producer Billy Anderson)
Cleveland, OH 8.6.08
This is why pizza in a cup never really caught on: It makes you cry. — Coady
Brooklyn, NY 8.13.08
Sushi is a favorite of ours on tour. If there is a sushi joint within walking distance of the venue that is where you will find us every time. That said, I like to stick to the major cities for the raw fish. (I will never eat sushi in Idaho again due to the steady stream of fluid that
Detroit, MI 8.5.08
[Bassist] Jared [Warren, also of Big Business] took our food budget for the day and went shopping for BBQ supplies. We had ourselves a little 50
Athens, GA 8.18.08
“WHAT’LL YA HAVE?” yells the counter help as soon as you walk through the door at the Varsity— “the World’s Largest Drive-In,” which we we first went to back in
Breaux Bridge, LA 8.20.08
1986. Hundreds of burgers come down a large conveyor belt. Nothing like greasy burgers for breakfast. Hey, they got bacon on them don’t they? That’s breakfast! I fucked up and didn’t order mine “glorified” so I had to get another. The chili dogs and onion rings are pretty good, too. Any place with complimentary hats pretty much rules! — Dale
Mobile, AL 8.19.08
We often find ourselves driving and hungry at the same time. In the past, we’ve had to settle for some shit truck-stop food, but with the invention of that thing called the Interwebz we can now go online in our van and find some grub nearby. Such was the case for this little BBQ joint we found while driving thru Mobile, Alabama, The Brick Pit (tagline: It’s Serious Bar-B-Que!). As you can see from the pics, it was a little sugar-shit-shack down
Mulate’s is the first place we ever had real Cajun cooking. On Sunday after church this place is hopping with live Cajun music and a full dance floor! The deep-fried alligator appetizer is mandatory. You come here with us, and you’re trying gator! I had the usual: the house specialty, Catfish Mulates. It’s grilled catfish topped with their own special crawfish étouffée, jambalaya, slaw and twice-baked potato loaded with cheese and bacon. I feel sorry for vegetarians who visit Louisiana—there’s not a vegetable in the whole state that’s not fried. They even deep-fry lettuce here! — Dale
some back road—a little hard to find, but well worth the adventure. Upon entering we felt right at home, as the walls were covered in graffiti from people from all over the world, just like every goddamn club we play in. They stated that they smoked their pork over 30 hours. Combine that with the vinegarbased BBQ sauce, white bread, beans and potato salad, and we found ourselves with packed colons as we left. — Moss
A truck stop, TX 8.21.08
As I mentioned before, sometimes we have to eat truck-stop food. This day we ate vitamins instead. You need a good supply of vitamins to bring The Rock every night. — Moss
Amarillo, TX 8.24.08
The general rule for us is if there’s a day off, we eat at a steak house! A few years back we booked shows around this place (The Big Texan) just so we could have
LaPlace, LA 8.20.08
We found Frisco Deli by accident a few years back. The owner looks like he just got off the shrimp boat. “California? How y’all know ’bout gumbo?” he asked us our first time here. This time a slack-jawed kid working there looked horrified when nine of us walked through the door. “Y’all eatin’ here???” “Why not?” I said. I had gumbo and a shrimp and crawfish po’ boy, fully dressed. The shrimp is so fresh here it tastes like lobster! Our roadie, Racist Rikki Fingers, ordered the house special Cuban sandwich. It looked tiny compared to our jumbo po’ boys. No complaints from Rikki though. Diagnoses? Delicious! — Dale
Thanksgiving here. It was one of the best Thanksgiving dinners ever! This place is known for the 72-ounce steak. It’s free if you can eat the steak, baked potato, shrimp cocktail, dinner salad and roll in one hour. Jared and [Melvins engineer/Big Business guitarist] Toshi [Kasai] decided that an occasional eating contest could be part of a balanced diet. The Meat Olympics were on! [The restaurant] put them on a stage and started the clock. My money was on Toshi. Toshi said that after a while he felt like he was eating a pair of jeans. With 10 minutes left to go, it wasn’t looking too good for either of them. Jared tried to hide his steak under a plate, then decided to wear it as a meat toupee on his freshly shaved bald-man haircut. By the end Toshi ate 40 ounces, and Jared ate 34. We tried the rattlesnake, which I thought was too bony. We also knocked back a few Texas margaritas garnished with jalapeno peppers and went to a shooting gallery. A good day off! — Dale
FROM the STACKS
rendsetting blogs can only tell you so much about the state of music these days, what with the way they change their damn mind on a daily basis. That’s why self-titled’s staff digs through piles of CDs every day—to sift the classics-in-waiting from that all-too-common realm of complete crap. Here are some standouts at the moment …
RIYL: Sepia-toned memories of skipping stones and actually feeling stoned; lake-effect snow and a warm carafe of coffee; watching yesterday pull away in your rearview mirror
1. Jonas Reinhardt Forthcoming Release: Jonas Reinhardt (Kranky) Vibe: A Tangerine Dream haunted by Zombi and the drunken droogs from A Clockwork Orange. RIYL: Moog-tastic madness; a planetarium program aimed at “the kids”; chill-out rooms from the late’90s (i.e., back when the Orb was playing Lollapalooza)
4. Duchess Says Recent Release: Anthologie des 3 Perchoirs (Alien8) Vibe: Everything we loved about fellow Montreal natives Les Georges Leningrad, only without the warped sense of humor and crap-tastic Flintstones costumes. RIYL: Spazzing the fuck out; the (male-backed) Le Tigre reunion that’ll never happen; Juan MacLean’s past life as Six Finger Satellite’s guitarist
3. All the Saints Recent Release: Fire on Corridor X (Touch & Go) Vibe: Standing in front of a massive Marshall stack while someone coos all Jim Reid-like (kinda) from a few feet away. RIYL: Golf ball-slinging hailstorms; a place to bury riffs and reference points; chain-linked guitar pedals
2. The Sight Below Recent Release: No Place For Us (Ghostly International) Vibe: Muffled minimal techno buried under a bed of nocturnal Eno emissions.
5. Mamiffer Recent Release: Hirror Enniffer (Hydra Head) Vibe: Ominously rumbling and triumphantly uplifting—this pianodriven instru-metal scratches both extremes. RIYL: Moving land mass with your mind; palatable darkness; wishing Godspeed You! Black Emperor would make another record
7. Fight Bite
6. Eddy Current Suppression Ring
Forthcoming Release: Emerald Eyes (self-released) Vibe: A heightened state of euphoria nuzzled with sexy whispers from the inside of David Lynch’s beautiful mind. RIYL: Julee Cruise performances at the Roadhouse; Casio presets; listening to “Just Like Honey” on repeat
Recent Release: Primary Colours (Goner) Vibe: Loaded, but louder. And Australian. RIYL: The garage-rock revival of the early ’00s; slurred speech; the idea Art Brut without all the jokes
10. Pretty & Nice
8. White Denim
7. Women Recent Release: Women (Jagjaguwar) Vibe: Four Canadian dudes spew messy guitar clatter and various brain-poking insanity. RIYL: How much Liars stole from This Heat; dumpster diving; No Age’s temper for ambient strains
unpredictable and, like the debut’s lead single (“Big Guns”) purports, cool-town rock. RIYL: Picking up the slack of CSS’s sophomore slump; a bastardized, Karen O-led Joy Division; Blondie having more fun
Recent Release: Explosion (self-released) Vibe: Is it hot in here, or is it just this sloppy, freaked-out garage rock trio? Sweat-tastic indeed. RIYL: Wearing white denim all year round because, dude, you can; watching Jon Spencer and Britt Daniel wrestle in mud; MC5 times 5
Recent Release: Get Young (Hardly Art) Vibe: The new New Pornographers craft hyperactive pop as made by Devo on XTC. RIYL: Thinking that a song longer than four minutes should be considered prog-rock
9. Holy Hail Forthcoming Release: Independent Pleasure Club (Kanine) Vibe: This inherently “New York” indie-tronica band is sexy, 53
Recent Release: The Way of All Flesh (Prosthetic) Vibe: Mortality-obsessed metal for Mastodon-loving environmentalists. RIYL: Alternative energy sources; stop-on-a-dime time changes; kick drums to the gullet