Metz | pissed jeans The Bug Boyd Rice John Cale
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are the d that here.â€?
Editor-in-Chief / Publisher Andrew Parks, Pop Mart Media email@example.com Art Director / Deputy Editor Aaron Richter (M.R.S.) firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Editor Arye Dworken email@example.com Consulting Photo Editor Jennifer Edmondson Staff Photographer Caroline Mort Contributing Writers Cassie Marketos, Michael Tedder, Jonathan Valania, Simon Vozick-Levinson Contributing Photographers Michael Flores, Jimmy Fontaine, Jesse Jacobs, Meredith Jenks, Jonathan Hanson, Richmond Lam, Trent McMinn, Mathew Scott, Ross de Péloubet Thompson, Bobby Whigham Advertising, Submissions & Other Inquiries Andrew Parks / self-titled 685 Metropolitan Ave. #1 Brooklyn, NY 11211 firstname.lastname@example.org
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METZ cover photography Meredith jenks
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350 WORDS OR LESS From the Editor: This issue started with a simple idea: celebrating the controlled chaos of bands like METZ and Pissed Jeans, who’d just played a pair of whambam sets at CMJ. But then we got to thinking: Why base an issue around the obvious—groups that inflict stab wounds with their rhythm sections and swing their guitars like guillotines? After all, the word heavy is a relative term, as applicable to a bloodthirsty rock ’n’ roll band as it is to bloodletting lyrics, mood-destabilizing minor chords and suffocated samples. And that’s how we ended up approaching the issue before you—tracking a survey of artists who sound and/or feel like a slap to the face. The clearest example of this contrast is the exclusive artwork placed throughout the magazine. Faced with the abject brutality of Iceage’s new album and the solemn songwriting of Grouper’s two recent releases, we asked each to turn in an original illustration that captures a concept of “heaviness.” Our features balance the wrecking crews of METZ and Pissed Jeans—who, it turns out, are not as batshit as you’d think—with a look at The Bug’s cacophonous record collection, a lengthy talk with controversial noise-industrial icon Boyd Rice and a career-crawling interview with John Cale. In other words, don’t expect a thorough survey of extreme music. That’s Decibel’s job. What you will find, however, is an endless procession ST—008
of fresh takes on the music we love. But you longtime readers knew that already, right? Speaking of, we recently launched The Merch Table, an online marketplace to support our favorite artists even more. Look for competitively priced editors’ pick vinyl as well as carefully curated clothing, art and other odd exclusives we can’t quite reveal just yet. See you in the stacks.
Andrew Parks, Editor-in-Chief / Publisher
The top five heaviest sets I’ve ever seen 1. Swans @ Brooklyn Masonic Temple, 10.8.12 2. Boris + Sunn O))) @ Avalon, 5.30.06 3. Whitehouse @ Northsix, 3.3.06 4. Nine Inch Nails @ HSBC Arena, 4.29.00 5. Jay Reatard @ Glasslands, 3.25.08 — tap HERE TO SUBSCRIBE to my “See the Leaves” Spotify playlist
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Autre Ne Veut photography Jesse Jacobs
Autre Ne Veut | Youth Lagoon FIDLAR | Wax Idols Doldrums
RECORDING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
autre ne veut
Photography jesse jacobs
Arthur Ashin explains what really inspired his new album, Anxiety. 1. David Cronenberg
Since 2005, I’ve basically been trying to make music that sounds like a cross between [Cronenberg films] eXistenZ and Dead Ringers: gooey and unexpected, yet borrowing heavily from popular trope. This is a man who took the schlock-horror paradigm and made wonderfully affecting masterpieces. I kind of wish that he’d get back to it, though I haven’t seen Cosmopolis yet.
Making music, for me, is like a logic game. Will Shortz has been editing the New York Times puzzles for the bulk of my life, but I only got into them within the past five years or so. Honestly, I’m not very good at them, but there’s something so fascinatingly human and culturally relevant about the logic that he imparts to pretty much everything he touches. Music at its best, for me, is certainly corporeal and messy, but I think it’s an implicit internal logic that helps to communicate to a wider audience.
3. Mix engineers
For my first record, I had the opportunity to work with Chris Coady, who introduced me to the power of the mix. He took my embarrassingly amateur home recordings and made the bass bump and the vocals cut, and really is the only reason that the music is at all palpable. I knew that there was something there, but he found it, and I’m forever grateful. I’ve since worked
with Al Carlson on this latest release. He has a completely different approach, but it’s equally essential. I truly hope that this blurb helps people understand the value of a talented and creative mixer. Or maybe I should just keep the secret.
4. Constant curation
I make a lot of music. I’m perpetually recording melodic ideas on my phone in public, throwing together quick sketches of song structures, demoing things out. Unfortunately, most of my ideas are boring. For me, creating anything requires a perpetual willingness to throw things away. That’s especially hard with ideas that you really like, but at the end of the day, making a cohesive record requires doing what’s best for the song or album and killing a few of your babies in the process.
5. Obsessively competitive attitude
I’m always comparing myself to my friends and family and wanting to be better than them at everything. Obviously, when you have talented friends, it makes it pretty tough, and this doesn’t always lead to a positive psychological space, but it really fuels me to get off my ass and work for everything. This is especially important for me because I’m naturally really lazy. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve let myself simply be happy for [my friends] and their accomplishments. There’s still a big part of me that just wants to win, but I usually try to keep it to card games and horse. — read other installments of Recording under the influence with M83, perfume genius, how to dress well and more. ST—015
ROLL THE TAPE Interview Andrew Parks Photography aaron richter
youth lagoon STâ€”016
A quick, random chat with Trevor Powers. self-titled: Hey, man, what’s up? I was just watching Walking Dead, so I was in the zone. Then the phone rang, and I was like, “Eek!” I’m not interrupting the finale, am I? No, dude! Just season two. I’m a sucker for zombie movies—anything violent and weird. Have you always been into horror movies ? That’s kinda my thing. I have three brothers, and we grew up watching old, shitty horror movies. When I turned 10, my dad let me watch The Omen, and then I got into The Exorcist. There will still be nights where, if I have nothing to do, I’ll go to Red Box and find some random horror movie. I imagine you live in a place that’s sort of secluded, where nobody would hear you scream. Yeah, it’s outside of downtown [Boise]. A lot of the time, it’s just me here, so it can be kinda creepy at night. Did you travel a lot with your family growing up? I went on road trips with friends, but besides that, I never really traveled that much. I actually always wanted to hop on a train and take off. I
was hoping to do that, and then music started happening. If it weren’t for music, I’d probably hitchhike and go places. Would you have dropped out of school even if it weren’t for music? For sure. The whole reason I was going to university was just because I wasn’t sure what else I should be doing. I’ve been writing songs since I was young, but I didn’t know where to go with it. How would you describe your writing process? With the new record [Wondrous Bughouse, out in March via Fat Possum], I would sit down at a piano and just kind of let feelings come out of me, and then pick up a guitar and transfer some stuff into that—just layer and layer and layer. Nothing’s ever purposefully concepts. It’s kind of just whatever I’m dwelling on. My subconscious just starts to come out. You seem like somebody who can’t turn their brain off, for better or worse. What are some of the things you’ve obsessed over in the past year? I think the scariest and most interesting place it always takes me is the future. It’s one of my biggest fears, something I obsess over so much. And you know, I want so badly to be able to really just grasp the present, but because of the way society is, it’s so hard to do. Society is, like, driven for future thinking—even the stupid things, like paying bills. It’s always just, “Think of the future; think of the future.” And before you know it, today is gone; the next day is gone. Your mind is always one step ahead. How hopeful are you for the future? You create music, but if you didn’t, would you be worried about getting a job and things like that? I’ve always enjoyed writing, and when I was going to Boise State, that was what I was studying: English. There are only certain types of jobs where I could really make money with an English major, and a lot of those jobs, I wasn’t interested in, so I just kept pressing forward so I was working toward something. I would always much rather be moving in any direction—whether it’s right or wrong—than just standing still. — Tap Here to Read the rest of our youth lagoon interview. ST—017
Words MICHAEL TEDDER Photography caroline mort
One of LA’s brattiest bands learns the virtues of good beer. ST—018
Dogfish Head IPA
Within the first minute of their self-titled debut, the boy hooligans in FIDLAR make two things abundantly clear: They like cheap beer, and they don’t give a damn if this offends your delicate sensibilities. (In the band’s “Cheap Beer” music video, a bloodthirsty biker backhands Heineken drinkers and lobs grenades at a couple who prefers Chimay over Pabst.) When your band name is an acronym for “Fuck It Dog Life’s a Risk,” subtlety is apparently besides the point. “In LA you get those super-snobby hipsters who only drink microbrew crap beer, and they talk about it all the fucking time,” explains bassist Brandon Schwartzel. “That’s where it came from: We’d be drinking King Cobras because we were broke and wanted to get drunk, and it’d be like, ‘I can’t believe you drink that.’ ” “It takes $2 to feel like a million bucks,” adds guitarist-singer Zac Carper. The members of FIDLAR (which also includes drummer Max Kuehn and guitarist Elvis Kuehn) all met “through partying together,” explains Carper. “A lot of it was just getting fucking wasted. Instead of going to a party on Friday night, we’d go to a studio, invite our friends over and...” “Get weird,” adds Schwartzel. Fortunately, FIDLAR proved to be as adept at playing slightly polished yet scruffed garage rock as they are at beer consumption. Carper, as it turns out, was working at a recording studio when the band started and has looked to balance the reckless energy of a basement show with a touch of hooky gleam. “We wanted to figure out how to do a split between that,” he says. “We wanted to be able to understand what we’re singing about and hear what’s going on.” For most of the past year, FIDLAR has toured with bands like JEFF the Brotherhood and the Hives, and we thought they deserved a drink—a good one—so self-titled sprang for a couple rounds at the New York bar DBA. In exchange for our generosity, the boys agreed to give their expert opinions on their beverages in the style of Beer Advocate, measuring the key categories of Appearance, Smell, Taste and Mouthfeel on a scale of 1 to 10. “We have nothing against nice beer,” admits Schwartzel. “I like drinking.”
(Reviewed by Schwartzel) Appearance: 5 Smell: 4 Taste: 8 Mouthfeel: 6 Final Thoughts: “It makes me want to fight everyone I see.”
O’Hara’s Organic Cider
(Reviewed by Carper) Appearance: 9 Smell: 5 Taste: 10 Mouthfeel: 9 Final Thoughts: “It reminds me of Europe. We just went there in August, and it was fun times. Brings back memories. ”
Stoudt’s Scarlet Lady
(Reviewed by Elvis Kuehn) Appearance: 8 Smell: 6 Taste: 7 Mouthfeel: 8 Final Thoughts: “It’s pretty nice because it’s not too heavy. I like it because it’s in between a Budweiser and an IPA.”
Southampton Burdon House Publick IPA
(Reviewed by Schwartzel) Appearance: 7 Smell: 7 Taste: 5 Mouthfeel: 6 Final Thoughts: “This makes me want to drink the beer I had before.”
DBA’s Hot Cider with Rum
(Reviewed by Max Kuehn) Appearance: 10 Smell: 10 Taste: 8 Mouthfeel: 7 Final Thoughts: “I usually don’t go for the hot drink, let alone apples—a sweet kind of cider—but it’s nice. It’s nice to not drink beer all the time.”
Photography Mathew Scott
wax idols STâ€”020
Hether Fortune on Daniel Ash. The first Daniel Ash–related song I recall hearing was “So Alive” by Love & Rockets. I remember jamming to it in the car with my mom when I was pretty young. Everybody has heard that song, right? It was their “hit.” Ash’s discography covers such a broad spectrum of sound while always retaining a very specific thing that is immediately identifiable. His music, attitude and style have influenced me so heavily that I ought to write him a personal letter of thanks. For now, I have taken this opportunity to demonstrate why everyone should have a serious listen.
Start With This Bauhaus, Mask (4AD, 1981) Ash was the true visionary behind Bauhaus. He started the band. He “discovered” Peter Murphy. He set the template stylistically and creatively. Bauhaus’ second LP, Mask, is astounding. It makes me horny. I listen to it on headphones and obsess over every lush, bizarre layer. Ash’s contributions to tracks like “The Passion of Lovers” and “Kick in the Eye” melt my mind. Pure class. Pure sex. If Bowie and Bolan were to dance and fuck in a graveyard all night, Bauhaus would be a fitting soundtrack. — LIsten to this: “The Passion of Lovers”
Now Get These Tones on Tail, Pop (Beggars Banquet, 1984) Ash started Tones on Tail as a side project right before the actual death of Bauhaus. This is intelligent, hook-laden dance music for the twisted and the damned, filled with dark humor. It’s almost as if he was suiting up for post band-breakup battle and saying, “If you weren’t aware of my genius before, here you go.” — LIsten to this: “Christian Says” Love & Rockets, Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven (Beggars Banquet, 1985) Ash started Love & Rockets with David J and Kevin Haskins after Bauhaus broke up. This is Ash fucking the world with his artistic vision once and for all. Every time feels like the first time. Lose your virginity—now. — Listen to this: “Haunted (When The Minutes Drag)”
For Serious Fans Only Daniel Ash, Foolish Thing Desire (Beggars Banquet, 1992) Foolish Thing Desire is dripping with raw attitude and sex, and still there is something delicate and vulnerable about this record. Dig, if you will, a picture: He is crooning alone on the floor in the corner of a dark room with his 12-string guitar and a damaged, broken heart. Swoon. Then all of the sudden he is leaning against the gimp cage in an underground sex club, chain smoking and watching the bodies writhe around him. He is soundtracking their grotesque movements with his hands and with his lips. I’m sweating. — Listen to this: “Foolish Thing Desire” Wax Idols will release its latest record, Discipline & Desire, on March 26 via Slumberland. ST—021
Photography richmond lam
doldrums Doldrums’ debut, Lesser Evil, arrives Feb. 26 via Arbutus.
We asked Liz Harris of Grouper for a visual interpretation of heaviness. She sent “Repeating Patterns 2,” courtesy of Portland, Oregon’s Nationale art gallery. Two new Grouper albums—The Man Who Died in His Boat and a reissue of her classic Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill—are available now via Kranky.
up next: John Cale | Boyd Rice Pissed Jeans | METZ The Bug | VietNam ST—025
Interview cassie marketos Photography Jimmy fontaine
The iconic Welsh musician talks the beauty of drone and why live music sounds so much better in the dark. STâ€”027
The local grammar school had a lot of instruments given to it. When I came to look for something, all of them were gone except for the viola. I dunno if I liked it. I think I liked the fact that it was different. It seemed like I was ready for a crusade, so I decided to just go with it. In those days, if you were a viola player, you didn’t have much to work with. They always had great violin concertos to practice or aim for, but violists didn’t. The viola is really sort of melancholy, so amplifying it and getting it out from that corner that it was in was a really good way of doing it. You never know where inspiration’s going to come from. I look for books, or I go to the gym, or I read. I just do different things. I call up somebody I haven’t heard from in a long time. You put two completely alien things together—that works for music. Put two different styles together, and you get a third one. The rules are whatever situation you’re in at the moment. So if you want to change that, which is generally my tendency, try to find different ways of nudging it. You don’t have to throw a [hammer] in the works. You can do it gently. Just change the speed a song is in. There are all sorts of ways of doing it.
I had to trim the 15 verses down to ones I identified with because a lot of them are pretty religious and I don’t have much credibility talking about religion. I was a fan of La Monte Young because his pieces were really far out. They were very advanced— compositions that were instructions for people to do certain things, but they were about something totally different. The point of the piece is something else entirely from being a musical performance. It’s a theatrical performance. And screaming in front of a plant until it died was my contribution to that genre of performing. I was late to the party. I had to cover a lot of ground really quickly. The best way of doing that was to write a bunch of songs. To go from the avant garde to pop music... Well, it’s a bit of a step. From my point of view, I just wanted to write songs that extended what I knew about classical music. But certainly [my debut solo album] Vintage Violence didn’t do that. By the time I started writing songs, I was 23, and if it wasn’t for the Beatles explosion, I wouldn’t
It took a long time to sit through a performance with Leonard Cohen. He was always very stately with it. I took [my cover of “Hallelujah”] at the speed I could make sense of the words because really that’s what makes it in the end. Can you grab people’s attention and hold it?
of a was to that
I was trying to form a jazz band in Wales as a teenager and got nowhere. All of a sudden I had this opportunity in New York to try anything. So it was pretty easy. I mean, everybody was excited about what the Beatles were doing, and after a year and a half of working with drones, it’s great to have a melody to latch onto. As soon as Dylan launched into “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” the Beatles paid attention, and their looks changed. So, you know, we jumped on the bandwagon and said, “Hey! We can write lyrics, too!” And we’re going to write about things that you’re not really familiar with. I thought we made a mark! That first [Velvet Underground] album had a lot of ideas in it. The second one, a little fewer. But we put a marker down. John Cage’s point was that you could try as much as you wanted to have perfect conditions to listening to music, but you’re never going to find it because there’s always noise going on.
have got to them. That middle year in New York in ’64—when the Beatles were around— was really inspirational. When you’re working on such rarified things as the drone and an intonation system, and outside in the big wide world you’ve got these really attractive melodies and songs going on... I mean, it’s like you can’t ignore it— especially if you sort of missed out on it in your teenage years. ST—030
I have my little studio. I wrap myself in whatever sounds are in there, and I come out with a song. I think it’s fascinating that you can troll for more stuff. There’s so much of it out there—not just stuff in your own language but stuff in other people’s languages. I don’t write songs on the piano or on the guitar anymore. I write them in the studio using the studio as a hands-on way to do it—real noises, stuff like that. I tend to start things more with a
late to the party. “I was I had
a lot of
really quickly.” groove than anything else. You find something attractive that you make that’s a rhythmic base, and then you layer it. Somewhere along the line an idea will pop up in your head of a phrase that will work, and from that phrase, you extrapolate the subject matter you’re going to sing about. You let people finish off what you start, or you finish off what someone else has started. It’s a process of suggestibility. “Can we try this over here?” Bouncing ideas off of each other. The recordings are like listening to something through gauze. The older they get, the more fuzzy they sound to you. And if you’re working in a digital medium now, you have a lot of clarity. You also have a lot more control, but...those records don’t seem to have the bite that they used to. You can move faster through the process these days. If you want to finish the song, you can really work on it, and if you’re not satisfied or you’re not sure about something, you can change your mind, fix it in about 30 minutes, and have it back up in a different format. It’s much more malleable and functional. The studio was being torn up [when we recorded The Velvet Underground and Nico]. There were no floorboards. We had to be really careful how we
walked across it; we just put the mics anywhere they’d stand up. The new material excites me. When we made [2012’s] Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood [available via Double Six], we thought carefully about how far we could go dressing up the song and how far we could go with that in live performance. We were trying to think about it in the simplest terms possible because, you know, the exciting thing about live performances is hearing what you had on a record in a more dynamic and forceful way. Live performances are it. When you’re up on a stage, you’re not listening to what you’re playing. You’re listening to the audience. That’s what I’m always aware of; that’s why I like live performance more than just sitting in a studio writing. Audiences are different everywhere. They’re a lot of fun, and they’re there for you. I like seeing what kind of reaction we get. That’s showbiz. We drove club owners crazy. Asking them to turn all the lights off—the exit signs and the toilet signs—and start the concert in the dark. They’d say, “You can’t do that! It’s a fire hazard.” And we’d say [dryly], “The song is three minutes and 40 seconds; can you last that long?” And they’d turn the lights off, and it was great, ya know? Start the concert in the dark. Because these were punk clubs and you were standing on the stage, it was right on top of the audience. So you’d get people breathing and whispering and talking, just a little bit away from you. You were in the dark, and that’s it. I’m just trying to figure out the simplest way to get things done. I used to switch it up so much—take familiar material and twist it—that people got used to that. I used to warn them that those kinds of things would happen a lot, until they finally changed their expectations for me. It paid off in the end. Now people expect strange things. So I’m happy to give it to ’em. // — Tap Here to read our entire interview with Cale. ST—031
THE self-titled INTERVIEW
BOYD RICE Interview Andrew parks Photography AARON RICHTER
h e av y
self-titled: What it was like growing up in California? Idyllic. I would travel the world, and every time the plane descended in San Diego, I would see the palm trees and think, “Why would I ever want to leave this place? It’s fantastic.” But I moved to San Francisco once I started doing music.... It was very apocalyptic, very violent.
Was your music a by-product of your environment? No, I started out doing really noisy stuff when I was still living in Lemon Grove, a very pleasant San Diego suburb.
hroughout his nearly 40-year career, Boyd Rice has been called a misanthropic nihilist, a card-carrying Satanist and even a Wolfsangel-wrapped fascist. As one of the highest ranking officials in Anton LaVey’s original Church of Satan, he can’t possibly avoid accusations of Satanism, but the rest, well... “My job is putting stuff out there, and if people understand it, great,” says Rice, as we chat at the apartment of his longtime friend and collaborator Bryin Dall (Hirsute Pursuit, Thee Majesty). “If they don’t, I can’t be bothered. It’s their problem, not mine.” But even when you think you understand Rice’s dark-ambient diatribes and his influential noise-industrial project NON—records whose ripples can be felt from Wolf Eyes to Cold Cave— odds are you’re only half right. Take the first time we saw Rice live. From the videos casting his set in shadows and soot to the music itself’s militaristic melodies, the act didn’t feel like a concert; it felt like performance art. And yet, Rice insists with a smile, “If I was going for a performance-art piece, I would have taken off my clothes and smeared something disgusting on my body. That’s performance art.” So just who is Boyd Rice? A button-pushing prankster? A life-long provocateur? The devil in disguise? We’re about to find out.
That contrast sort of recalls a love of popular culture—tiki bars, girl groups—that you have, which doesn’t seem to be reflected in your actual music. Or maybe you’d argue otherwise. When those early Phil Spector records came out, Ronnie Spector’s mom actually said, “This is just noise. It’s not a song.” I think even my noisiest stuff has a pop sensibility to it. That’s my roots. What made you want to make this kind of music? You’ve got to remember that when I started doing this, it was the height of the disco era. You’d turn on the radio and hear, “That’s the way / Uh huh, uh huh / I like it.” And you didn’t like it? I like it now, but I hated it then. This was before punk rock, so when I was in this suburb making noise music, nobody was doing that. It was impossible even to find records by John Cage. What was one of your earliest noise experiments? As a teenager, I had a whole bunch of tape decks and figured out a way to record things at a massive level, where everything comes out grisly. Since not many people were making that kind of music, did you have a grasp of what you were going for? I knew exactly what I wanted to make—absolute noise music. Did your parents worry about you once they heard your music? Or did they simply think you were an artistic kid? They wouldn’t have interpreted it as having an artistic kid; they would have said I was a handful. ST—033
Was noise a nice release for you then? Not really. [Laughs] I don’t know if it calmed me down.... If you’re in a suburb, there’s only a certain amount of trouble you can get into. Whereas when you’re in Barcelona and someone says, “Hey, take off your clothes, and get on the stage and dance naked!” you do it.
So this wasn’t about pissing off your parents? You had a genuine interest in it? Definitely. Later generations weren’t getting the books, though; they were getting heavy-metal albums. That was something that’d piss off Mom and Dad. Whereas with my generation, they were freaked out, but they were also supportive.
That happened to you? Yeah, probably 15 years ago. When you’re seen as an artist, you can get away with murder. It’s expected of you. You’re supposed to...
Would you describe your parents as strict? My father could be a little strict. He was this selfabsorbed guy who was sort of never there.
Act like an asshole? Yeah. When you act like that and get affirmation for it, what could be better? You don’t seem like much of an asshole, though. In person, I’m not an asshole. [Laughs] I don’t even think I’m an asshole in what I do. I’ve said a few things that have pissed people off, but if you don’t piss somebody off, what are you doing? When were you first introduced to Satanism? When I was 13, there was this show called Dark Shadows.... It made a complete psychic impression on me; it led to me going to the library and reading every book I could find about black magic, voodoo, vampirism, werewolves. Since you were still a kid, did it feel real? It seemed very real. Of course, I tried to replicate [the dark magic] at home, and it never seemed to work like it did on Dark Shadows. Did your parents ever catch you doing that? They never did. They didn’t know you had a fascination with it? Oh, yeah, they did. My father hated it.... It’s hard for people to remember now, but there was this weird occult revival around that time. There was a magazine called Man, Myth & Magic; there were giant billboards; there was even a club where you could buy six books about occult subject matter for a penny if you promised to buy a certain amount within the year. Some of them were fairly serious. I remember one had a chapter on the Process Church. Nineteen sixty-nine was wild. ST—034
He worked a lot then? No, he never worked. My mother worked. He had a back injury, and he mostly hung out with Hells Angels and hot-rodders. He’d rather be with those people than his family, so he’d show up and try to be this strict disciplinarian, but he could never pull it off. He wasn’t in the Angels, though? He would have been a biker if he didn’t have the back problem. Being around a subculture like that must have been eye-opening. It was fabulous. Back then, bikers looked like the
“If you don’t piss somebody
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What were they like? They were very friendly to me, but these guys did some horrible, horrible stuff. As a kid, it was bizarre trying to reconcile the fact that I knew these guys who were very sweet and funny, and yet they did these brutal things it was jarring to even hear about. Your dad stayed away from that side of it then? Well, my dad was in AA, so he wouldn’t be there when things got really wild. If people were guzzling whiskey or tequila, he would leave. How did he meet those guys in the first place? He knew a lot of outlaw bikers who were unaffiliated. The Angels actually had a clubhouse next to my favorite uncle’s house. So we’d go see Uncle Ellsworth, and my dad would say, “I’m going down to the clubhouse. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” But he’d be there for hours; they’d always have to send me down. So 14-year-old you had to knock on the door? Younger than that; I was probably 12. You weren’t scared of them? No, because I knew those guys, and my dad was the kind of guy everybody liked, a cross between Tony Curtis and Elvis Presley. What was your mom like? Very straightlaced. The opposite then? Yeah. I got the best of each of their genes—he was the complete wild man, and she was... She kept you grounded. Maybe. How did they end up together?
She moved to DC to work in the state department, and then she met my father, who I guess was one of those guys you don’t let go of. Fun, you know? Did you idolize him? I always said, “I don’t want to be like this guy.” But at the same time, when everyone’s parents came to school, I was never ashamed of my parents. I thought they looked bitchin’.
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guys you’d see in Roger Corman movies—young and muscular, with strange little beards and long hair. I remember they had this funeral in Lemon Grove for a biker named Baby Huey, and there were hundreds of Hells Angels riding their choppers down Main Street. That was mindblowing, especially since my father was friends with these people.
Was either of them religious? Not really. So you didn’t grow up having a belief system pushed on you? They always had me study with these weird religious freaks near where we lived. They thought it would be good for me, you know? I rarely went to church on Sunday, but when I did and they said, “Everybody bow your heads and close your eyes,” I’d look around and think, “Do these people really believe this? They believe that a guy was swallowed by a whale?” Give me a fucking break, you know? You come from a time where a lot of artists, from Joy Division to Throbbing Gristle, were using fascist imagery. Was it simply to be provocative? Some people’s use of it was really simplistic because we grew up in a generation where [fascism] was the big enemy. The Hells Angels thought swastikas represented rock ’n’ roll, the antithesis of the peace-and-love generation. But the peace-and-love generation was into it, too. Growing up in the mid-’60s, my cousins were all surfers. And surfers were going through their parents’ garages and finding the iron crosses, or wearing the Nazi helmets. That was something we just grew up with. Maybe some of the people in the industrial scene found a deeper meaning, but I think that’s not so much the case. What was it like for you then? I grew up at a time where the most popular show was this World War II series Combat. For whatever reason, I was always attracted to the Germans. When I was in nursery school, they would draw military insignias that we could pin on our clothes, and I would always be in charge ST—039
of the Germans, and my other friends would get the American stuff. My dad spent some time in Germany, so I’d ask him, “How did these guys lose when they had better uniforms and better symbols, when their shoes were always shined and they’re always shaved?” Meanwhile, the Americans kinda looked like I do now [points at stubble]. You were attracted to the aesthetics of it all? Yeah, well, it’s an archetype. I don’t want to obsess about this stuff, but I grew up in an era where there was a strong contingent in San Diego of the Nazi party. So I’d drive to my friend’s house after school and there was, I swear to god, this guy in a complete Nazi uniform mowing his lawn. I said, “What the fuck is this?” ST—040
And my friend was like, “Oh yeah, he’s in the American Nazi party. You’ll see him shopping in his uniform at the supermarket later.” Which brings me back to how your show feels like performance art. It’s almost like you’re staging a mock rally, especially with your song “Total War.” I was trying to tap into that archetype. It’s funny; this [evangelist] Bob Larson would go on lecture tours and play “Total War.” He had me on his show a couple times, so I’d go to his office and these women would say, “We love that song of yours; it’s a real toe-tapper.” When bands like Throbbing Gristle started making “industrial” music, did you feel a connection to what they were doing?
What was so attractive about serial killers? From an early age, I always assumed I was going to grow up to be a criminal. I had this idea of “I don’t want to have a job; I don’t want to be married; I don’t want to have the life everyone else has.” I felt that way even as a child, walking toward elementary school. I just thought, “I’d rather rob banks than punch a time clock.” Thankfully, this art-music thing took off. Did you pursue art before you did any music? Yeah. I started doing art once I dropped out of high school. I was reading books about early 20th-century art movements and odd figures from the ’60s. So I did a bunch of that, but the art world was transitioning. Everybody was like, “If you had come to us five years ago, we would have given you a show, but right now we’re only doing performance art and video installations.” What kind of work were you doing? Paintings and experimental photography. People weren’t into hanging things on the wall; they were into somebody sitting in the middle of an empty room with a dead goose in their lap. It makes sense now that you’d cringe at being called “performance art.” [Laughs] It hasn’t changed either. I did a December talk at the Massachusetts Institute of
Art, and there were a lot of performance artists there. I said, “The problem with performance art is if we stepped outside this building and there was a guy in the gutter shoving a Barbie doll up his ass, it’d be a visceral experience. But if we walk into this building and there’s a guy shoving a Barbie doll up his ass who calls it performance art, then you’re wondering what the intellectual subtext is.”
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I was in contact with those people before punk rock even happened because they were part of the art world. I was corresponding with Genesis [P-Orridge]. And I was in touch with Richard H. Kirk of Cabaret Voltaire, and Z’ev... It was very weird. The first time I went to London in the late ’70s, I met Throbbing Gristle and was kind of shocked to find out they were doing something similar to what I was doing. Everybody thought they were degenerates and perverts.... I remember I spent the night with Monte Cazazza in San Francisco once, and people thought he was a serial killer simply because he was interested in them. People thought the same thing the first time I spent the night at Gen’s house. They said, “Aren’t you afraid he’s going to murder you?” Not everyone who’s interested in mass murderers are murderers themselves, you know?
Did the art world inspire your shift toward music? There was a network of clubs opening up where I could do noise and have a real audience get it. The art audience was too concerned about getting the subtext of something that was, more often than not, utterly meaningless [laughs].
There was a 10-year gap between your new NON record, Back to Mono, and your previous one. What were you doing during that break? I wanted to do an entire album where I’d sample these four singers from Catholic choirs and create this operatic thing. But then one of the girls’ parents looked me up online and said, “I don’t want you to have anything to do with this guy. He’s the leader of a sex cult.” Within a few weeks, none of them were able to work with me anymore. Back to Mono formed organically when I was hanging out with [Cold Cave frontman] Wes [Eisold] in Philadelphia. He recorded a couple things with me. And then Bryin [Dall] recorded a couple things with me. The last thing I did [Children of the Black Sun] was pretty orchestral and classical, so I wanted to do something totally different. People still send me tons of noise music, and the stuff they’re sending me now sounds just like the stuff they’d send me in 1981, except they’re using more sophisticated technology. So I thought it’d be fun to do that again. And it was. Do you feel a need to remind people of the pioneering work you’ve done in this genre? It’s credit where credit is due. When people thought punk rock was ground-breaking, I thought bullshit. // — Tap here to read the rest of our conversation with Boyd Rice. ST—041
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see me, feel me, touch me
fast, cheap and out of control
with Phillyâ€™s pissed jeans.
Words jonathan valania | Photography Bobby Whigham
et’s start with the name. The band was originally called Unrequited Hardon—until that was deemed too highbrow. Butthole Surfers and Anal Cunt were already taken, so naturally, the guys went with Pissed Jeans. Then there are the song titles: “Ashamed of My Cum,” “Caught Licking Leather” and, perhaps the sickest yet, “Loubs,” short for Christian Louboutin, the red-soled fuck-me stilettos. At Saks Fifth Avenue, the brand’s Mary Janes will set you back $1,075. Obscene, right? You couldn’t make a porno that dirty—not without coprophilic dwarves and large farm animals. Then there’s their sound: janitorial, syphilitic, shitastic, thrashadelic, pig-fucking, cervixscraping, stop-start scree punctuated with the ST—044
shrieks of what sound like a man exfoliating his urethra with a rat tail file while disemboweling himself with a rusty pick-axe, sans anesthesia. It’s like the music people on bath salts put on to pump themselves for a night of public nudity, face-eating and, if all goes according to plan, kicking out the back window of a police car. And yet, contrary to what millions and millions of Americans think, the guys in Pissed Jeans are neither angry nor incontinent. They are actually nice, well-adjusted guys, with wives and children and respectable jobs they’ve held for years. “I feel like we’ve grown to be more tender individuals in the past couple years,” says frontman Matt Korvette. “We’re just not as rebellious against life, you know? I’m wearing my sleeping clothes right now, just chilling out a bit. I have to do the garbage in a little while. I’ll probably go to bed after this.” It’s 7:30 at night when Korvette says this. Iggy Pop he ain’t. Not that he’s trying to be; Korvette has a day job as a claims adjustor for an insurance company. Guitarist Bradley Fry works in accounts receivable, with 15 employees beneath him. (Says Fry, “My boss was just like, ‘I’m not going to Google you; I don’t even want to know.’ ”) Both drummer Sean McGuinness and bassist Randall Huth have slightly more rock ’n’ roll jobs—tending bar at respectable hipster watering holes. In the past year, all four have become fathers. “It’s a lot more awesome than I thought it would be,” says Huth of becoming a dad. “It’s surprising how patient you can be.” “It’s an exciting time right now for the Jeans, you know, for us as people,” says McGuinness. “We all have kids; we all have houses. I know Randy was having some frustration writing lyrics [for his freak-folk side project, Randall of Nazareth] because he felt that there was nothing dark to write about. He’s like, ‘I just got no pain left, man.’ ” Though three of the four members of Pissed Jeans live in Philadelphia, the band started in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, a sleepy Rockwellian town perched on the buckle of Pennsyltucky’s cement belt, where a lattice of biblical coincidence is lain over the local geography. There’s Nazareth, and the next town over is called Bethlehem, which is a stone’s throw
you; I to
was just going to
away from Emmaus. Korvette, Huth and Fry came to know one another in Nazareth’s closeknit skater scene. “I met Matt at the screen-print shop,” says Fry. “I thought he was the biggest jerk in the world. Turns out he wasn’t. “ Around this time (our heroes aged 12 to 13), Fry’s taste flipped from Morbid Angel and Deicide (“the heaviest stuff I could find in the Columbia House catalog,” he says) to hardcore punk, thanks to a local video-store clerk who made him a mixtape of early ’80s bands like Agnostic Front, Reagan Youth and Sheer Terror. Avid record collectors to this day, Korvette and Fry began buying as many obscure hardcore singles as they could—Drunks With Guns. Stickmen With Rayguns, Capitalist Casualties, The Abused and Crossed Out. A few years and go-nowhere thrash bands later—around 2003, to be specific—Pissed Jeans was born. They honed their craft at an old warehouse called Jeff the Pigeon (named after a dead pigeon that was found in the building) in nearby Allentown, where like-minded bands Pearls and Brass and Air Conditioning rehearsed and threw ragers. By this point, the Jeans had discovered Flipper and Fang, narcotized punks that slowed down the tempos and upped the low-end scuzz. “We tried slowing it down, just riding single chords,” says Fry. “What we were doing wasn’t all that innovative then, but for our scene it was.”
In 2005, Pissed Jeans released a shredding collection of song-length seizures, Shallow, on a small New Jersey label called Parts Unknown. That record got airplay on Jersey’s indispensable WFMU, to which, 2,000 miles away, Matt Kotowicz was listening online. Kotowicz (who, in 2010, was killed in a car accident) worked as an A&R at Sub Pop and liked what he heard. He got in touch with the group, and talk turned from a simple 7-inch to an actual album. In 2007, Pissed Jeans released, Hope for Men, named after a catchphrase from a body-wash commercial, and followed, in 2009, with King of Jeans. Both albums were well-received, but the band toured sparingly, yet still managed to rise above its punk-as-fuck bretheren by combining instrumental firepower with Korvette’s willingness to pick up his own rock and show everyone the worms wiggling underneath. Take Pissed Jeans’ latest album, Honeys: Lead single “Bathroom Laughter” opens with a circular bass riff, as a swarm of guitars and drums descends with the subtlety of a serial killer while Korvette barks like he’s receiving an exorcism and the devil is not amused. “Chain Worker,” the next song, sounds like what someone who’s been hit by a bus hears as they lie dying beneath the back tires. On “Romanticize,” Korvette shrieks, “Take all my thoughts and twist them in your head until I look like a sweet and thoughtful man,” while ST—047
the band brings the hammer down. “I love the idea of shocking someone without swearing, showing them Face of Death videos, or jumping in the audience and punching their faces,” Korvette says. “Just let the power of words shake you up a little bit. It’s much easier to just pour a beer on the audience if you want to bother them. Anyone can do that. So I dwell on myself, my condition as a privileged white guy and the things that trouble me and the things that I want to improve. And it’s kind of nice, when there’s something that bothers me, to be able to scream about it in a song.” His bandmates agree. “Who doesn’t wish they had an outlet for their everyday insecurities?” says McGuinness. “Being in the Jeans is a safe and comfortable environment to lay our male insecurities out and look at them. I mean, how lucky am I to be in a band with dudes who can get that deep—and at the same time, shake it off with a chuckle and a smirk?” It’s getting late, and the band needs to go to bed, but before we leave them, Korvette has two things you should know: First, he listens to techno—all the time. “I listen to it at home; I listen to it in the car,” says Korvette, whose own micro indie label, White Denim, has released music by Mi Ami and M Ax Noi Mach, as well as crooner Daughn Gibson. “I’m pretty obsessed. I feel like there are more new weird things happening with that than there are with guitars.” Equally baffling considering his punk-rock stage persona is Korvette’s passion for fashion. Of the Jeans song “Vain in Costume,” he says, “It’s about how the clothes you wear really affect your own mind state, make you feel better or worse about yourself, or how dependent you are on your outward look. “I’m hooked on following certain areas of fashion,” he continues. “I’ve always been into clothes, and when I get into stuff, I just get deeper and deeper into it.” Then again, he could be just yanking our chain. The last time we saw him perform he was wearing a white, shapeless Slap-a-Ham Records T-shirt. He is too sexy for that shirt by at least half. It looked to be a large, and he clearly could pull off a medium. Fit is everything. Fit is style. // ST—048
“Just let the power of words
LOUDER THAN BOMBS Lugging amps and Busting eardrums with Toronto’s METZ. ST—050
h e av y Words Simon Vozick-Levinson Photography MEREDITH JENKS STâ€”037
A few seconds later, Slorach lurches wildly toward the crowd and bashes out the brute-force riffs of “Knife in the Water,” one of many frenzied highlights from the band’s self-titled debut. Menzies pounds away in a whirlwind of ruthless rhythms, while to their right, Edkins is shaking all over, jabbing violently at his guitar and screaming like a bloody maniac: “FALL DOWN! FALL DOWN! FALL DOOOOOOOWN!” The next 30 minutes blur, bleed and rush by—a three-car pileup of thunder-clapped choruses, masochistic melodies and heated hooks, from the raw-power paranoia of “Rats” (sample lyric: “You’ve been hearing a sound / Crawling around in your mind / You’ve been hearing a sound / They’ve been crawling around again”) to the allbets-are-off denouement of “Wet Blanket,” the banger that often ends METZ shows with a flurry of feedback and barely suppressed back flips. Like nearly everything they do, it’s noisy, exhilarating and a little scary.
he narrow, fluorescent-lit aisles of Generation Records in Manhattan’s West Village are lined with punk-rock kids, but only a few have noticed that the band they came to see is standing right behind them. While fans chat excitedly over an opening act’s minor racket, METZ stand in the back by a selection of T-shirts. “It’s kind of quiet,” says Chris Slorach, the Toronto trio’s amiable bassist. Then he grins: “We’ll be louder.” METZ don’t travel with a roadie, so when the openers finish, self-titled helps Slorach, singerguitarist Alex Edkins and drummer Hayden Menzies lug their gear to the tiny stage in the used-vinyl section. “Stand back,” Slorach warns, guiding us to a spot behind an amp stack. “I don’t want to hit you in the face with my bass neck.”
Maybe it’s an early stage of tinnitus plaguing our clobbered ear canals after standing near the band’s amps for far too long, but it’s much quieter the following afternoon in METZ’s dressing room. Menzies, the thoroughly inked former proprietor of a Toronto tattoo shop, is quick to offer us a can of Brooklyn Lager. Meanwhile, Slorach, the band’s de facto manager, chats genially with a rep from Converse, which is sponsoring tonight’s free show at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg, and Edkins sits nearby, smirking. “They’re taking a really long sound check,” he observes dryly, as the psychedelic garage jams of King Tuff, the evening’s headliners, echo up from the stage downstairs. “That’s good...for them. I’m sooo happy for them right now.” The 31-year-old frontman grew up in a rural suburb of Ottawa with his parents, an engineer-
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“I don’t want to hit you in the
could barely play.” They spent their early 20s gigging around Ottawa. In 2007, Edkins followed a girlfriend (now his fiancée) to Toronto, where he intended to get more serious about music. Menzies made the 200-mile move, too, but their bassist at the time stayed behind. In stepped Slorach, an experienced local concert booker and tour promoter whom they met through mutual friends. “I was at Hayden’s house, hanging out, having a drink in his backyard,” recalls Slorach, whose résumé also included a long-past stint in an emo crew called Moneen. “He was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t know what we’re going to do.’ I was like, ‘Well, I play bass.’ ” The three musicians started getting together for beer and practice at a space that they quickly learned was largely occupied by metal bands. “Like, shredders,” Slorach recalls. “Guys who had their drums on risers this high inside their little tiny practice space, tying bandanas around their mic stands. One day we got a note pinned to our door that said, ‘You guys are the worst band that practices here.’ ”
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consultant and a schoolteacher. By 14, he was tuning in to CKCU-FM, a nearby college radio station, to soak up punk and hardcore sounds from a show called “Shouting to Be Heard.” “That was the first time I heard all kinds of wicked stuff—Fugazi and all that,” he notes, later over dinner at a nearby ramen joint. From the radio, Edkins learned where to find all-ages shows and made the hour-plus journey into the capital city as often as he could to see local heroes like the slowcore act Kepler (whose drummer now plays with Arcade Fire). “It was finally finding the place where you feel at home,” he says of Ottawa’s thriving punk scene in the ’90s. “I kind of got hooked.” Edkins started playing community centers with his own bands, moving downtown as soon as he was old enough. He became friends with Menzies, another young Ottawan, and they formed an embryonic version of METZ. “I thought he was a good drummer, and he heard me shred that Eddie Van Halen solo—‘Eruption,’ the entire thing,” Edkins says with a straight face, before breaking into laughter. Obviously, he’s just messing with us. “No, oh, god, no,” he admits. “I
“They were into how
it was — just loud and
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“It was like, ‘Technically? Yes,’ ” Edkins says. “At the same time,” Menzies adds, “judging by the caliber of those bands, if we’d had a note saying, ‘Dude, you guys rip!’ that might have bummed me out more.” METZ’s early shows and demos were admittedly rough. “We were all over the place,” says Edkins. “Seven-minute songs with, like, eight different movements, messing with samplers and synths. It was just way too complicated, and we weren’t enjoying it.” After about a year of playing together, the guys stripped down their sound to its raw, beating heart—furious bursts of noise performed as aggressively as they could. “More people were coming to the shows,” Edkins says. “They were into how physical it was—just loud and exciting.” METZ spent the next few years sharpening their live attack, waiting until late 2011 to start cutting an album. In the meantime, Slorach had parlayed his industry experience into a day job in the tour-planning department of Arts & Crafts Productions, as well as helping manage Constantines, one of the indie house’s top acts. That relationship led him to Sub Pop A&R exec Chris Jacobs, who signed METZ in early 2012 after hearing their completed LP. Back at the Music Hall, we’re watching Edkins
stare intently at a pad of paper. He’s agonizing over the set list for their 82nd and final gig of 2012. They’ll have 35 minutes onstage—plenty of time to play their album comfortably—but he’s worried that the song order has gotten too predictable from night to night. “There is the argument that no one but us will notice,” Menzies offers tentatively. Edkins frowns, unconvinced, but he eventually concedes the point after a few more minutes of scribbling down song titles and crossing them out. “We’ll switch it up in the new year,” he says. They’re expected onstage in half an hour. Slorach starts pacing around the small dressing room, clenching and unclenching his fists. “I still get nervous before shows,” the bassist admits. He spins around and mock-punches Menzies in the arm, breaking the tension. Edkins is still sitting in the corner, strumming disconnected chords on an unplugged electric guitar, all his focus inward. Just before 10 pm, he looks up abruptly. “We’re on,” he says, attaching an elastic band to his glasses so they’ll stay on his head during the show. A few hours later, after working themselves halfway to a rage stroke onstage, the sweaty trio collapse back into their dressing room. “That was a good one,” Edkins says, smiling crookedly. Even with earplugs in, our heads are ringing. // ST—057
THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES
THE BUG Photography Trent McMinn
hether he’s delivering spectral trails of dub in King Midas Sound or pushing the breaking point of the sturdiest speakers in town as the Bug, Kevin Martin has long been a sterling example of how, with nothing but a sampler and a sequencer, you can be heavier than a Satan-cosigned metal band. (And that’s not even counting his many former projects with Justin Broadrick, including GOD, Ice and Techno Animal.) A new Bug album, Angels & Devils, is on the way later this year (as well as an EP, Filthy, out this spring via Ninja Tune), so we caught up with Martin to talk about his first love: records.
THE RECORD EVERYONE SHOULD OWN William Basinski, The Disintegration Loops (2062, 2002) I was immediately sucked into this record’s slowly evolving ambience. The balletic flow of its repetitive, circular loops and the reverb-drenched stillness created maximum atmospheric impact. It mirrors the transcendental ambience of records I love by Alice Coltrane and the Necks, and the eerie drones of Thomas Köner. This is music that encourages total immersion. (Coincidentally, it also echoes the work I had previously done with Justin Broadrick on disc two of Techno Animal’s Re-entry, where we tried to evoke lost spirits on tracks like “Cape Canaveral,” so it seemed familiar and haunting, but so, so beautiful.)
Prince Far I, Black Man Land (Virgin, 1990) I remember hearing “Foggy Road” from this record at my best friend’s sociology lecturer’s flat and thinking it was like a transmission from some alien planet. Possessing a voice so deep ’n’ low, Far I sounded like he was an ancient pharaoh delivering a sermon of inescapable doom. Beyond dread, his tone was fueled on prophecies of Armageddon and sounded so intense and uncompromising that I found the atmospheric pressure he conjured irresistible. Adding to the vocal resonance, the pounding bass lines and heavyweight drum patterns hit me like combination punches from Cassius Clay. It seemed like a fearsome antidote to the worst Bob Marley’s tracks, which were played endlessly at student parties.
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THE RECORD THAT MADE ME REALIZE THERE’S MORE TO REGGAE THAN MARLEY AND TOSH
THE RECORD PEOPLE MIGHT BE SURPRISED I OWN (AND LOVE) Vincent Gallo, When (Warp, 2001) I find it hard to understand why I like this album so much, but it is a deeply beautiful, extremely fragile selection that balances intimacy and loss with an audiophile’s ear for sonic precision and glacial melodies. I’m drawn to the work of artistic freaks, and Vincent fits the bill. Slow, melancholy and obsessively crafted, the minimalism and simplicity of a song like “Yes, I’m Lonely” is both deceptive and incredibly attractive. I didn’t want to like When, but I ended up loving it.
THE RECORD THAT FREAKED ME OUT THE FIRST TIME I HEARD IT African Head Charge, My Life in a Hole in the Ground (On-U Sound, 1981) The first time a friend played me this record, I had to run from his flat, as I had just taken a large hit from his bong and the chainsaw effects and head-shredding psychedelic layering proved too much for me. Adrian Sherwood’s masterpiece was inspired by Brian Eno and led dub into a sinister, urban voodoo zone, away from the genre’s pastoral Jamaican roots. Everything about this ST—059
album was disorientating—even years later, after I stopped smoking the herb!—and administered pure future shock with its studio wizardry.
THE RECORD I PLAYED TO PISS OFF MY PARENTS Discharge, Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing (Clay, 1982) I guess it’s a toss-up between this and Stations of the Crass—my passports to the post-punk universe of experimentation, deviance and craziness. As a kid, I would lie on the floor of my room and put the speakers from my stereo on either side of my ears and blast the title track at top volume to block out the sounds of my parents’ incessant fighting. I did it as an escape and in the hope that the volume would stop them from beating the shit out of each other. Funnily enough, I remember during a Godflesh/GOD UK tour, we were stranded in Newcastle for a couple of days, and this was the only record me and Justin liked that the flat owner possessed, so we mashed it constantly for 48 hours and pissed everyone else off in the process.
THE RECORD THAT REEKS OF DREAD AS MUCH AS KING MIDAS SOUND Public Image Ltd., Metal Box (Virgin, 1979) John Lydon’s negative vision of life seemed so full of impending doom and unresolved anger that it’s like getting sucked into an emotional black hole when you sit through this album in one sitting. With [King Midas Sound’s] Waiting for You, we attempted musically to mirror the feeling of a lover having been ghosted away—a heavy sense of emotional loss we share with Metal Box. But it feels like Lydon was railing against the world, not just an ex-lover. It still sounds fresh and terrifying today.
THE RECORD I WISH I’D WRITTEN Rhythm & Sound, With the Artists (Burial Mix, 2003) The way Mark Ernestus and Moritz von Oswald managed to channel Jamaica’s past through their Basic Channel(ed) techno filter felt like a major achievement. Their deeply analog sound, with its infinite dub-tech pulsations, contained the warmth of King Tubby’s finest productions, combined with the hypno-repetitions of the sweetest house music. And they always seemed to get the best from the singers they worked with, which for me, as a producer, is always a major challenge. Their spine-tingling collaboration with legendary reggae vocalist Cornel Campbell ranks as one of my favorite reggae tracks of all time.
THE RECORD THAT REDEFINED MY NOTION OF “HEAVINESS” Swans, Cop (K.422, 1984) I saw Swans play the ICA in London in 1986 and was deaf for a week afterward. I hadn’t heard anything by them prior to the show and was in no way prepared for the sonic abuse and psychological terror they inflicted upon me that night. After the show, I immediately wanted to find their new record—Greed at the time—only to find disappointment because I felt its studio layering and “musicality” didn’t match the sheer, stripped-down thuggery and whitelight intensity of their live show. Luckily, I soon found the brutality I craved on their previous album, Cop, with its lyrical nihilism and Stoogeson-Mogadons death-crawl riffing. [Frontman] Michael Gira managed to strip all the cheese away from heavy metal and rock while exploring a lyrical S&M aesthetic, which fed on brute violence and carnality, like a Lower East Side– dwelling misanthropist summoning the spirit of Marquis de Sade.
“We mashed it for 48 hours and pissed off everyone.” ST—060
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THE RECORD THAT’S PUNK AS FUCK WITHOUT ACTUALLY SOUNDING LIKE PUNK Wu-Tang Clan, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (Loud, 1993) I fell in love with this record when it first came out and became a bona fide Wu junky, fiending for all the subsequent RZA-produced solo albums dropped by ODB, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface, etc. I loved the way they bum-rushed the music industry with a blatant disregard for everyone in their path. They had their own Sid Vicious in ODB, Howard Devoto in the GZA and Genesis P-Orridge in the RZA—an extraordinary MC collection of mighty mavericks, misfits and madmen. It seemed like they were gleefully revolting against a bloated hip-hop structure, winning the game against all odds with an independent mind-set. I hadn’t been so utterly mind-fucked by an album since the first Public Enemy LP.
THE RECORD I RELY ON EVERY TIME LIFE GETS ROUGH A Tribe Called Quest, Low End Theory (Jive, 1991) “Beats that are hard, beats that are funky / They can get you hooked like a crack-head junkie.” I remember my ex-girlfriend laughing every time I played this record because she knew that whenever I couldn’t decide which disc to put on from my stupidly large collection, this would be the one I’d always reach for. I can’t even rationalize why that was the case, but there’s something so right about the album. From the incredible, honey-tongued flow of Q-Tip’s rapping—which has always seemed like pure, musical medication to me—to the irresistible swing of the perfectly crafted beats, this is the finest hip-hop, seducing me nonchalantly and narcotically. There is nothing revolutionary here, just complete, perfectly executed craftsmanship, with the added bonus of jazz legend Ron Carter plucking some of the most memorable, hip-shaking double bass lines you could ever hear. //
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always seemed like pure
vietnam Introduction ANDREW PARKS Text Michael Gerner Photography michael flores Watercolors Nathanael Maynard STâ€”066
hate explaining everything because it’s kinda like watching a movie before reading a book,” says VietNam frontman Michael Gerner. “And then, once you read the book, all you see is the actor, you know?” Oh, we know; that’s why we were happy to save the twohour talk we had with Gerner at a Brooklyn bar for our daily site as a separate interview— one that addresses everything from where Gerner’s been the past few years (working on porn sets and an End of Days documentary, for starters) to why he drove cross-country with nothing but a suitcase. As for what you’re about to read, well, it’s a special Free Association feature where Gerner reshapes the lyrics and carefully developed concepts of his new album, an A.merican D.ream, into an actual play— stage directions and all. Here’s the best way to experience it: Start by opening the exclusive “musical companion piece” Gerner cut for us under his D.A. guise (via the link below). Make sure it’s playing the first time you read through Gerner’s commentary; then sample the album itself, track-by-track, the second time around. We’re told it all makes sense in the end. — Tap here to play Gerner’s musical companion piece.
“A.D. pt. I” — One of those dreams where you’re spilling through space... And the doctor on board says, “heart rate varies widely and seems to be unpredictable...it’s even exceeding waking norms.” You stop. And then you’re asleep... Shuffling through time at a million miles per minute.
“Stucco Roofs” — And then you lie on your back— and the stars drift through vectors—myriad and random..... ST—065
from their origins in night—thrown through the sky and then abandoned—to slice through the darkness like shimmering phantoms.......and then drop to their destinies like dust from a cannon. ....... Everything goes black then everything goes bright And now the alarms cascade through reality and dreams—while white knuckles fingers clinch wet sheets so it seams Just to hold on to a dream life composure—as real life streams in.....from the heels of your palms to your eyelids. And then you breathe in. And your thoughts get distracted by that beam of sun shining through—so you pause..... Light a cigarette. Take a mental note. And then it’s through. Because you’re mind starts racing again and you don’t know what to do All you know is you’re awake for your mourning. And then the ghosts from yesteryears in black tights and glow in the dark bones whisper..... “They say ashes stick to stucco roofs—floodlights wash over the vanishing view— La-da-dee—chickity doo The sky is fallin’.” But time is up—the mood is set—and you gotta peak out your window into that blistering view.
The world is still turning and that craziness.... The doctor on board says “it’s psychosomatically just you.” Welcome to science fiction—and keep your head above water whatever you do—and is it just me or is the weather actin’ kinda funny? And then FDR comes on the radio Followed by a sea of misery, an hourly tv blitzkrieg.
“Kitchen Kongas” — Suddenly you’re outside—out of bed—out of work—out of money And you walk with them devils head high...... you walk with them devils but you don’t belong. You keep walking with your head held up high......you walk with them devils—and hopefully it won’t take long. Stage lights dim And the days are gettin’ dimmer as work is getting slimmer and desperation seems to simmer in the souls of a million lost souls.... that glimmer in a sea of anger—yesteryears doppelganger and you’re not the only one who doesn’t know where to go. And a choir of cherubs pipes in—in unison—“and one day we’ll get to the top of this mountain.” Curtains close.
“He says, ‘Good morning to all—glad you could wake up.’ ” ST—066
“Fight Water w/Fire” — Curtains open: Sitting in a banquet hall—pigheaded people in tuxedos and evening gowns feeding on a trough of polish stew all choreographed like a musical—the big band strikes up And you toddle through the glaze just to gloss over decay of your self serving parade of losers (ticker tape falling from above).....half-witted studded stars all smoking second-hand cigars— and the waiter walks up to deliver the check. At the adjoining table socialites and parasites— the walkin’ dead to be polite—to be precise—are walkin’ all over you.
A glamorous woman in a Romanian fur walks in through the entryway to the lobby—victorian print wallpaper with golden sconces lit up like Christmas trees—a foggy convex oval mirror on the wall beside her She turns and puts her makeup on like a starlet from a golden aged song and then transcends through the mirror and makes things much clearer to me. She says, “I hate beautiful people.” Smudging her eyes like burning church steeples and then walks across the ballroom like the scent of a timeless perfume..... Pan out And each diva on stage bows down to the queen in succession....
And three hula girls sway onto stage as the palm tree cut outs descend from the rafters singing—
And then Hischam slips in silent as smoke— fluttering his eyes—an inside joke. And then he disappears as quick as a thought and as loud as a jolt.
Ay-yi-yi-yiii-yah Fight water with fire
(the trap door closes)
Curtain calls and turn in bed....
Descending back into time The date: ST—067
And the cummerbund angels echo out So if the world should cave in—sky to my back—a pillow of winds And the sounds of winds pick up and dissipate sucking under the bottom of a comedy club bar door.
“No Use In Cryin’ ” — Your first moment of lucid dreaming for the night and you realize nothing so far has a clear cut ending...... and then you forget. But there’s no use in cryin’—there’s no use in fighting it all the same......
you adjust the balance knob in the back of the t.v.—it now turns into a nostalgic mary poppins musical with a parade of workers of all walks of life—plumbers, teachers, police officers, firemen, psychiatrists, trash men, etc. all walking with their tools of trade smiling, whistling and singing.....
And the world bleeds down to the ground. And as the streets quiet—the rats come creeping out in cat burglar suits talking as one......
“we are nothing bigger—than a serf or just a figure—in the eyes of corporations and their coup of demolition of the bones of human rights........ la-dee-da-da-da-high-ho-high-ho.”
“Flyin’ ” — Your vision fades up and then faces down from up above........and the cobwebs and dusty bones of a ’50s teenage tragedy song falls from the sky. 3 one-armed specters croon to the crowd below—. Oh baby—tonight I am flying—and I’ll be flying lost between the wonders and the whys And darling—I had to stop walking—all this walking in my head got me grounded to a ledge of no height. ST—068
“Well we’re them dirty little devils leaning on your clean white stoop—well we’re them dirty little devils—them ones them cops they like to shoot.....well you don’t look like the neighbors— ain’t that a god good enough excuse.” Spotlight helicopters flutter overhead and dissolve over the Hollywood hills.
And up on the hill they got mansions inside of mansions inside of mansions inside of mansions without a view...... the silhouette of the rats—hauling a giant chunk of cheese on their backs—and their voice trails off..... “well holy moly money—in a holy—holy moly times.”
“W.orld W.ar W.orries” — And the bells ring through brassy halls as the light fixtures fall and you hear that little whisper seep through the dirty walls....... Well it’s a shame, just to blame, all them tethers and them fangs that mince through the morning and drown in their refrain—and explodes through the shadows and darkens out all the days—and splits through the center and hollows out your name. And you can’t quite ignore it anymore.......
so it seems. Me-oh-my meandering mind I’ll check in time to time. And a congregation of all the characters throughout the night takes a bow and hums— “Still I feel like I’m suffering—world war worries.”
“I Promise.....Things Are Gonna Get Better” — And the sun sets like a half slice of a blood red orange over the electric ocean.....our hero in a makeshift raft floats over the horizon—his silhouette turns to a coma—then a period—and then completely disappears over the skyline. A lonesome shrew in flip-flops and a Bermuda triangle sarong plays the outré on a ukulele in the distance. He says, “Good morning to all—glad you could wake up.” //
your vision is like black cellophane that you slowly push through to the light. You strangle the face of fear but keep his carcass near and feast on your dreams the only thing left ST—071
Photography caroline mort
Parquet Courts’ top five poets actually worth reading 1. David Berman A great writer who came of age in Dallas, where I partly grew up. He knows that writing— poetry especially—is meant to be read aloud, and his voice reflects that. Most probably know him from his work in Silver Jews, but a lot of people overlook his poetry. He has a way of obsessing with the details of the mundane and banal that usually ST—070
get lost in the margins. A lot of his first collection, Actual Air, was written when Berman was in his late 20s, which is likely why it appeals to me so much currently. — Andrew Savage 2. Charles Bukowski For a lot of people, especially young men, Bukowski serves as a point of departure for the genre. He’s very digestible, and
he can be taken for face value. And really, all of the caveats about sexism can be chalked up to him being somewhat of a realist. I’d say he’s definitely macho because his writing is often hyperbolic and lends itself greatly to his being groomed as a fiction writer (Dostoyevsky and Hemingway being early influences on him). Bukowski’s saving graces are his honesty, self-deprecation and the way he handles describing conditions of regret and loneliness. The collection What Matters Most Is
Top five late-period David Bowie cuts that prove he never fell off 1. “I’m Afraid of Americans” 2. “Hallo Spaceboy” 3. “New Killer Star” 4. “The Hearts Filthy Lesson” 5. “Where Are We Now?” — Michael Tedder How Well You Walk Through the Fire is my favorite. — AS 3. Donald Barthelme Most people would not consider Barthelme a poet, but he’s just as much of one as Bukowski. (Calling Bukowski a poet is somewhat generous.) Many of his short stories fall in the middle of the poetry/fiction Venn diagram. The man can end a thought like no other, and his choice in phrasing often leaves me in awe. A truly brilliant writer—who, like Berman, also lived in Texas—Barthelme often gets eclipsed by his fellow postmodernists DeLillo, Pynchon and Wallace. Which is a shame because I believe he was likely an influence on all of them. — AS 4. John Giorno One of the last living NYC beat poets, he still reads every once in a while around the city, and it is a real treat. This dude
has been around, and will tell you about it in his poems. He developed the Dial-A-Poem series, where you could call a phone number and hear a poem by Ginsberg, Burroughs, Carroll, Cage, etc. — Austin Brown 5. Gregory Corso Ginsberg called him the poet’s poet. He was not of the beats; he was the beat. Corso believed, and preached, that being a poet was not just writing poems but living as a poet, and that was how he lived from the day he was born until he died. The story goes that he was the youngest person ever to go to prison in New York City, and was confined in the old cell of a mob boss, who left all of his books with a hole in the wall poked out to let light in for reading. That was where he studied classic Greek and Roman literature and became one educated street thug, and where he started writing poetry. — AB
Top five records that will probably top the 2013 Pazz & Jop poll 1. D’Angelo’s James River 2. Against Me!’s Transgender Dysphoria Blues 3. M.I.A.’s Matangi 4. Something by the Weeknd 5. David Bowie’s The Next Day — MT
Brian Chippendale of Black Pus on Black Dice’s Mr. Impossible (Ribbon Music, 2012) Sometimes it’s as if the Black Dice guys are trying to trip up one another, pulling the collective body in three directions with their pile of mangled electronics. Since 2004’s Creature Comforts, you never know which loop, tone, squeak, beat or bark will come to the forefront. But Mr. Impossible is a bold, simple statement, as if the boys have all landed at the same party. It’s crisp, it’s clean, it’s funky, and it rocks. They come with their own vocabulary of warbled and wild sounds, and this LP has the band wrapped in a good-times vibe—interesting coming from an act that can put on a pretty ugly face. Now you can throw Black Dice on after the Beastie Boys, and the party won’t miss a beat. ST—071
Five white-bread artists Frank Ocean should sample just to prove there is nothing he can do that will make him not look awesome 1. Steely Dan 2. Counting Crows 3. America 4. Sarah McLachlan 5. Jackson Browne James Buttery of Darkstar on Massive Attack’s Blue Lines (Virgin, 1991) I probably listen to Blue Lines at least once or twice every couple of years, but since completing our album, I’ve been listening to it regularly while traveling to and from London. “Lately” is my favorite track. The drums and bass get my head nodding from the first bar. The break is sampled from Lowrell’s “Mellow Mellow Right On,” which I also hold a soft spot for because an old tutor of mine used to drop it in some of his funk sets. Massive Attack beefed the drums up and added a bit of grit; then they got Shara Nelson to sing and added another break from an Isaac Hayes record called “Joy.” (I cut the same break up when I was much younger.) The loop and the vocal suit each other perfectly, but my favorite part is the string stab that comes ’round every four bars; it’s so effortless, it completely works. ST—072
A film Benoît Pioulard would have loved to score A Short Film About KillinG (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1988) i’ve always loved this film’s almost suffocating mise-en-scene, which conveys with prickly vividness the character’s moral bankruptcy. there’s also a brilliant ambiguity in the title, as there’s the initial senseless killing that is deemed unlawful, followed by the equally brutal and gut-wrenching execution of the young man who committed it. the original score is fittingly minimal, but with all that cinematic genius to chew on, i dream of the score i might have done for it—a slowly unfurling descent into hopelessness.
A film score Pioulard wishes he’d written Days of Heaven (Terence Malick, 1979) a perfect marriage of music and images—morricone has an uncanny gift for this. malick is my favorite director, but i can’t imagine this film being the same without its score. the way it buttresses the characters’ shifts in motivation and mood is flawless. there’s a sea of tension amid fleeting moments of joy as an impossible love teeters on a precipice, constantly just inches from disaster.
Five out-of-context quotes from our recent interview with The Men 1. “It was pretty intense. A lot of wasps.” 2. “It’s hard to build a fire!” 3. “Flaming Horse, wasn’t that one of them?” 4. “Some guy was like, ‘I thought you were New York No Wave
“Relatable, I guess. In a cool way.”
the audience sweat with the characters. It’s always the hottest day of the summer, fire hydrants are open, and shirts are coming off. That is New York. 3. Manhattan “He adored New York City.” Every demographic has a voice in film, one that speaks above others for all of its good and bad stereotypes. I am so glad the neurotic Jew has such a strong little man to carry the flag. He turns out films like I aspire to turn out albums. Man’s prolific. I see my therapist twice a week. “This was his town.” 4. The French Connection I live near that underpass where the final car chase takes place. Have you ever thought about chasing a subway train under the pass in a taxi? Or on foot? It’s hard. This is when the subway was dangerous, too. Not ridden with Wi-Fi and churros. “Last time you were dead certain, you had a dead cop!”
Photography Ross de pÉloubet thompson
FaltyDL’s top five New York movies 1. Mean Streets Most of my friends in New York were not born here, or if they were, the ’70s were before their time. I wouldn’t want to run into these guys downtown, but knowing this may have existed? It’s pretty freaking sweet. I can’t really say if this is an accurate portrayal of NYC, but isn’t that what NYC is? A collage of movies and ideas drawn
together like folklore? Believe it, even if it never happened. 2. Summer of Sam “You dance so great tonight baby.... That’s because you are beautiful.” Okay, so Do the Right Thing is Spike Lee’s masterpiece on Brooklyn, but this movie needs more love. What I always love about Lee’s movies is his interpretation of heat. He makes
5. Serpico Frank Serpico. A good cop, he doesn’t take money. This friggin’ guy gets in a lot of trouble. I don’t think the cops are any better these days, to be honest. Stop and Frisk keeps restarting, stopping, etc. “If they would take all that energy and put it into good police work, we would have the city cleaned up in a month.” Fact! Honorable Mentions: The Warriors, Taxi Driver, Big, Cruising, Bad Lieutenant, The Landlord, Kids, The Godfather, Shaft, Wild Style, Shame, Midnight Cowboy, 25th Hour, American Psycho, Wall Street ST—073
Photography Jonathan Hanson
Drew Daniel of Matmos’ top five ways of listening to Matthew Herbert 1. Doctor Rockit, “Cameras and Rocks” When I was an undergraduate at Oxford, I found a Doctor Rockit 10-inch in a used-record store. I was startled by the slinky, soulful, funky music, with titles that implied the sources of these songs were everyday objects. My favorite was “Cameras and Rocks”—its kick and snare like a worryingly violent interaction between the winding snaps of a camera roll and the harsh smack of rocks clicking in time. 2. Wishmountain, “Radio” The star here is a white noise rush with a subtle “whooooooo” tone, like a radio not quite tuned to the proper station, ST—074
yet this weedy sound becomes incredibly catchy, a homely flatline, with all the presence of a monster guitar riff. 3. Herbert, “Leave Me Now” The bass kick is the deepest, richest stomp of any Herbert tune. I can recall a terrible DJ set where Martin and I kept playing the wrong tracks because of mislabeled CD-Rs. I put this on, and it gear-shifted the entire room. It’s about the fantasies of escape that haunt every loving relationship. 4. Radio Boy, “Gap” This project involved music made from the destruction of commodities from various
global brands. When Matthew played Mutek, we were sent to buy Gap underwear and make sure to get a large bag so he could rip it up onstage. When we asked for a large bag for such a tiny item, the cashier got suspicious. We said we needed it for a friend’s performance. She shot back, “As long as it doesn’t defame the Gap in any way.” We giggled, paid and left. 5. Wishmountain, “Nescafe” The effect of “Nescafe” is to feel one’s self shrink down to Lilliputian size, entering a can of instant coffee that has swollen to the size of a cathedral, and then a heaving, sweaty dance party erupts inside. The grinding impacts of amplified coffee grains click into place on top of an insistent handclap-like grid of smacking noises.
Steven Drodz of the Flaming Lips’ top five bummer records 1. R.E.M., Murmur (I.R.S., 1983) 2. Led Zeppelin, Presence (Swan Song, 1976) 3. Neil Young, Harvest (Reprise, 1972) 4. Miles Davis, Kind of Blue (Columbia, 1959) 5. The Smiths, “Asleep” (from The World Won’t Listen) Javelin’s Tom Van Buskirk on the Society of the SkyMall for your consideration: the skymall catalog—a gideon’s bible for the
airborne soul, a reliable point of focus to distract ourselves from morbid plane-crash fantasies and tv sitcoms we should probably be avoiding.
poet jack spicer once said that magazines function effectively as societies.
the society of the skymall is a paranoid, technology-obsessed, insanely
deluded but ultimately seductive culture. it beckons to us at our weakest moment, sequestered uncomfortably in a tube of germy air. we’re happy to entertain any idea for improving our lives, no matter how insane.
for general delusion concerning one’s own life, see any of the products
that try to convince you they’re the solution to your dissatisfaction: a magnetic mask that improves blood circulation, pseudo-meditation devices, etc. they surmise that, being on a plane, you might want to leave your body.
you might feel like killing yourself in your seat, but you’ll settle for dreaming of owning a device that would transport you to the astral plane.
the society of the skymall makes us want to participate in its insanity!
much like the horatio alger stories, skymall invites the manipulated to
become one of the manipulators. at this point, it owns your psyche. are we still talking about skymall?
Top five heaviest albums that have nothing to do with heavy metal 1. Diamanda Galás’ Plague Mass (Mute, 1991)
2. Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (Constellation, 2000)
3. Slint’s Spiderland (Touch & Go, 1991)
4. Swans’ Soundtracks for the Blind (Atavistic, 2006) 5. Joy Division’s Closer (Factory, 1980) —Albert Mudrian, Decibel magazine
Trevor Dunn of Tomahawk on Blondie’s Plastic Letters (Chrysalis, 1978) The most timeless and eclectic of Blondie’s oeuvre is Plastic Letters. Its sense of humor and poppy ’50s references pair well with its psychedelia, drama and confusion. The timing of this record in my pubescent life was like a perfect storm, pushing me to be more curious about the occult, paranormal mysteries and urban legends. With growls, a subtle lisp and her signature “oh-woah-ohoh,” Debbie Harry makes a distinct mark. This is a weird, diverse album, yet it’s full of catchiness and fingersnapping tempos. I listened to Plastic Letters constantly as a youth, absorbing its melodies and riddles but never thinking about why I liked them. Now I can use my jaded, academic verbosity to analyze the shit out of it, but it falters not. The songs stand true and maintain their original spell on me. ST—075
Iceage drummer Dan Kjær Nielsen created this sketch as a visual representation of “heaviness.” Iceage’s latest album, You’re Nothing, arrives Feb. 29 via Matador.