Regarding rollins by jonathan dick
You start at point number one. The success you hope to see is the one you make for yourself. Hard work. Determination. Absolute drive. You mention the name Henry Rollins, and a whole litany of terms might come flying at you, but at the end of the day Henry Rollins is you or me. He’s a guy who’s basically kicked his own ass enough times to make himself successful. Whatever myths or preconceived notions you may have concerning him should be left at your last footstep, because for Henry Rollins the experience of life is one whose context is purely determined by your commitment to make it work. There’s little fanfare to be made regarding my emailed conversation with Henry. It’s simply one guy talking to another at various points in their lives. Regarding everything from the music scene to the definition of art itself, I recently posed some questions to Henry, who is about to embark on his Capitalism tour in all 50 states ending in D.C. on the night of the election, and he offered up his insight: J: Henry, your life and who you are has followed a long line of simply doing things your own way and, oftentimes, on your own. Starting from your days with State of Alert all the way to now, what’s your take on the sudden fascination with the DIY movement? Does it seem a bit odd that people are suddenly taking up a cause for which you’ve been a staunch advocate for years as if it were something new? H: I am not aware of anything sudden but now that you mention it, I am aware of there being more and more band operated labels and outlets becoming more interesting. I think this is due in part to the technology making things more possible and a huge turning away from the major and large independent labels by bands. The bigger labels are seen by some as the ones that sign American Idol winners, and they want no part of it. I can’t say I blame them and I think this is a great thing that so many artists are getting off the cotton farm and doing their own thing. I think all this DIY stuff is new to many people because they are just getting out there into the world and making their way. I think this is all for the better. Some of these labels got too big and started wagging the dog too much. The music dictates the industry, not the other way around. Thankfully, many of the smaller labels really love the music. It’s easy to tell. They make the vinyl great quality, go nuts on the sleeves and colored editions. They make it fun and they put a lot into the mastering, vinyl thickness, etc. A label like Southern Lord, that’s what they’re all about. J: As a writer and performance artist along with the many other hats you wear, how do you see the concept of “art” and its evolution since you first took the trade into your own hands? Along with that, at what age did you realize this multi-faceted approach you have towards music and art, or was it something you felt changed along with you as you grew older? H: I admire artists. Raymond Pettibon and Francis Bacon, those are artists. I am not, not remotely. I am an opportunist. I am no one from nowhere. I come from the minimum wage working world and take work wherever I can get it. I do a lot of different stuff because I really like eating every day. I don’t consider myself an artist. I am an Americanist. I am seeking to survive and prevail in the America. This is one of the most powerful motivators for me. I figured out that I was going to need plans B, C, D, E, etc. in the summer of 1984. I was twenty-three and realized that my type had been targeted for eradication. So, I started making plans to do other things besides the music. Work on the writing more, get more talking shows, etc. One thing led to another. I am still in that mindset. I never, ever take it easy. J: Of the myriad of projects you’ve been involved with throughout the years and are involved in currently, which do you think has shaped your conceptualization of art the most? Alternately, which project, if any do you see as a kind of failure or misstep that’s shaped you into the success you’ve become?
H: Perhaps the single most influential thing that has determined several other actions was my five years in Black Flag. From those times, I learned hard work and all the things not to do when putting a band together and getting it down the road. When I started my band, things were run much differently and the results were much different from amount of shows played, countries toured in and records sold. I made very sure my band was going to eclipse Black Flag on all those fronts and all those expectations were met and exceeded. I have made many mistakes. One of them was not to break up the Weight era line up of the Rollins Band after the 1994 tour was over. Another was not cutting a manager loose about ten years earlier than I did. I will never have a manager again. All the other failures, well they were not failures as much as me just not being all that good at any of this and having to wrestle with that and deal with that frustration. It did often lead to some improvement though, so it wasn’t all bad. It is difficult at times to see your own limitations and realize that they are what they are and that things won’t be going as you would have hoped. J: While the music industry has basically been brought to its knees thanks, in large part, to the Internet, the underground music scene seems to be thriving. Why do you think that is? H: Because one went for American Idol and Nickelback and the other went for High On Fire. I think there are a lot of people who really don’t care about the mainstream of anything. Not of film, music, writing, you name it. There are a lot of people who just want out of all that. Now there are more avenues for them to explore. I think there were always a lot of those people, they just didn’t have access to an alternative. J: Many bands and musicians today are emulating that signature sound you helped pioneer in the 80s. What current bands are you digging at the moment, Henry? H: I bet no one is emulating me. Why would anyone shoot that low? Perhaps some musicians are moved by Greg Ginn’s playing and songwriting but not by anything I did. I am listening to a lot of: My Cat Is An Alien, Kemialliset Ystävät, Urabe Masayoshi, Uton, Enfer Boreal, Tomutonttu, Keiji Haino, Neokarma Jooklo Duo. It’s some pretty extreme stuff but I am enjoying it a lot. I listen to a lot of different music but this is what I have been checking out for the last several weeks. The new Dinosaur Jr. and Deerhoof albums are great as well as the new High On Fire and Snail albums. J: Pop culture seems to dictate so much of what American society does, how it reacts, how it functions at even the basest level. As an artist and advocate for so many charitable causes, how do you feel about this American obsession with the utterly menial? H: I think we Americans are not served very well by our government or our media. We are consumer driven and materialistic. Certainly, we are not the only country like that but we are very much into our stuff, we value our stuff and we often judge ourselves by size of house, bank account, etc. I think being this way perhaps cuts some of us off from seeing a bigger picture. Watch a few hours of CNN and then watch an hour of Al Jazeera and you will see why many Americans are the way they are. When the crap hits the fan, they won’t know where it came from, why it came or what to do. J: What literature are you currently reading, Henry? What inspired you, from a literary standpoint, when you were growing up? Do you see that as a kind of catalyst for the music and art you created and create? H: I am reading two books on Abraham Lincoln, Team Of Rivals and Lincoln Reconsidered, as well as a very interesting book about the man who started DHL. It’s by James Scurlock and it’s called King Larry. I am trying to read a book called America’s Constitution: A Biography by Akhil Reed Amar. It’s an amazing read but it’s tough going for me. I am trying to stick with it though. I was greatly inspired by Henry Miller and Hubert Selby Jr., the latter was a good friend to me and very generous with his time. I have always been far more inspired by writers than musicians. I can get my head around music but can’t figure out how Fitzgerald could write Tender Is The Night or Bulgakov could write Master and Margarita. It is still the writing that takes most of my time. It is the one thing I would like to be good at. I am greatly confined by my mediocre level of talent but I am pushing myself to get better. It was an absolute pleasure to have Henry take a moment of his time to talk with Steel for Brains. I think it’s safe to say that the insight here is that there’s no plateau for success, and there’s certainly no stopping point. Satisfaction means you’re sloping downward, and for Henry Rollins you can’t stop. Metal and punk have come a long way. I’d like to think that people like Henry Rollins as well as the regular guy who buys a t-shirt for his favorite band at some dive in Tupelo are a small part of that journey. Feel free to visit Henry’s website above and see his charitable givings as well as his current projects. Thanks again, Henry. Support good metal. Support good music.
read the full interview at steelforbrains.com! 3
this issue is brought to you by a lost summer.
Single of the
“Stay” is the Miscreant Single of the Week! This track is the first single off Dumb Talk’s self-titled album that is now available from Miscreant Records. You can get this bad boy in coke bottle clear or baby blue vinyl on Dumb Talk’s Bandcamp! 4
campus calling by cassandra baim
Easing back into the year I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I had the best summer in my entire 21 years. Nothing particularly exciting happened. I didn’t travel, I didn’t have some killer internship, and I didn’t even have a summer fling. I lived with my parents, worked a shitty job, and discovered that it is indeed possible for a 21-year-old to wake up at 5:30 every morning. What I also had was time. This was the first summer where I had a tangible future to think about—on any given day I did not know where I would be a year from then. The likelihood of me coming back to Chicago post-graduation seemed slim, so I decided to live it up while I could. I took advantage of the small opportunities thrown my way. Nice days brought bike rides along the lake where I sang to myself, not caring who was around me. Beautiful nights took me to street festivals where I saw The Antlers and The Drums under the stars, surrounded by Chicago’s finest hipsters and yuppies. The Pitchfork Music Festival and Lollapalooza made me appreciate the camaraderie of music fandom in the mid-west. As the season wound to a close, I couldn’t imagine leaving my urban paradise for the campus bubble, where I would be faced with a significant lack of leisure time, and a real need to think about my post-grad future. Upon arriving in Syracuse, I had about four or five days to ease back into the college routine, which included “family dinner” with my lovely housemates, copious amounts of alcohol, and a camping trip in the Adirondack Mountains. Every day felt like a Sunday—trying to enjoy myself in the moment while waiting for the obligations and anxieties of the semester to begin. The transition is never easy, and every year I have to find a new way to cope with the travel, the new routines, and the homesickness. Unsurprisingly, music tends to offer the most amount of comfort. During the first two weeks or so, I rely on old favorites of mine that comforted me during my most anxiety-riddled days in high school alongside bands whose live shows provided the soundtrack to some of my best summer memories. These are the 10 songs that kept the doldrums, the anxiety, and the generalized feelings of rage and frustration: “Born Alone” – Wilco “Eyeoneye” – Andrew Bird “To Just Grow Away” – The Tallest Man on Earth “In The Aeroplane Over the Sea” – Neutral Milk Hotel “To Go Home” – M. Ward “Summer Skin” – Death Cab for Cutie “Summersong” – The Decemberists “Postcards from Italy” – Beirut “First Day of My Life” – Bright Eyes “The Future, Part 1” - Voxtrot 5
by matt boswell Pitchfork has become a great resource for up-and-coming indie and underground bands trying to receive lots of exposure, as well as musical connoisseurs looking to extend their palette. However, if you know me, you know that I hate Pitchfork and their general elitist mindsets, but that’s beyond the point. There are many excellent up-and-coming bands, most noticeably in the punk rock genre, which will never receive any exposure through Pitchfork. Joyce Manor by Joyce Manor For Fans Of: The Weakerthans, Algernon Cadwallader, Wavves Joyce Manor hailing from Torrance, California create the kind of bouncy punk rock that would fit in nicely on any Pitchfork kid’s Wavves playlist. While they aren’t necessarily a “surf rock” band, this album definitely has a “windows down on a warm day” feel to it. The lyrics from Barry Johnson are extremely self-loathing without ever being overdone or stale, and the backing vocals of Matt Ebert really make one think of The Weakerthans. This album is still one of my most played since 2010, and for good reason. Give it a try. Besides, despite being 10 tracks long it still clocks in under 20 minutes so if you hate it, it’ll be over soon. Start With: “Derailed” Shed by Title Fight FFO: Small Brown Bike, Hot Water Music, Polar Bear Club Title Fight from Kingston, Pennsylvania are on the forefront of this punk rock 90’s revivalist movement bringing back sounds such as Small Brown Bike, Hot Water Music, and even HUM. Title Fight is one of those bands that are excellent on record, but unbelievable in a live setting. The energy on Shed is apparent, but it’s nowhere near the level of energy and excitement portrayed by Title Fight in a live setting. Regardless, this was my top album from 2011 for good reason, give it a listen if you’re into fast punk rock with 90’s alternative/emo influence. Of the five bands on this list, Title Fight may be the most recognizable after just playing the whole Vans Warped tour as well as having a Daytrotter Session put out earlier this year. Start With: “You Can’t Say Kingston Doesn’t Love You”
Separation by Balance & Composure FFO: Nirvana, Brand New, Make Do And Mend Doylestown, Pennsylvania’s Balance & Composure share that same 90’s revival feel as Title Fight, but they embrace more of an alternative and almost grunge influence on their music as opposed to fast punk rock. This is a dark album that will take you all over the emotional spectrum, but it’s pretty lacking of positive or happy songs. Regardless, every song is wonderfully crafted from a musical standpoint, with plenty of tempo changes and dynamic builds that make each song unique and interesting. Catch B&C on tour with Circa Survive this fall Start With: “Quake” The Lack Long After by Pianos Become The Teeth FFO: The Saddest Landscape, Circle Takes The Square, Touché Amoré Pianos Become The Teeth from Baltimore, Maryland released one of the saddest albums I’ve ever encountered with their 2011 release of The Lack Long After. This album is much more difficult to jump into as opposed to the others, as “screamo” music can quickly turn away the casual listener. However, if you give it a shot you will experience an incredibly personal and powerful collection of songs. The music isn’t nearly as chaotic as other bands in the genre, and the vocals are much more melodic (while still on the screamed side). Most of this record is about the vocalist watching his father suffer from Multiple-Sclerosis and eventually losing him to it. It’s very well performed from all aspects, and the first time listening to it I had preordered it and fallen in love just two tracks in. Start With: “I’ll Get By” More Songs by Grown Ups FFO: Cap’n Jazz, My Heart To Joy, Snowing Smoke weed, sit in the sun, get drunk and hang out with your friends, and get dumped by a girl. This is how you can best enjoy More Songs by Chicago’s Grown Ups. However, as a lame straightedge kid like myself, I still get maximum enjoyment from this record. The Kinsella worship, emo-revival that really started to come up about over the past 4-5 years has been done better by Grown Ups than any other band in the genre. This record is fun, relatable, and ridiculously catchy. Unfortunately, Grown Ups has broken up. But More Songs will always live on. Start With: “Weed Science”
dumb talk an interview by the miscreant
Dumb Talk have been making big moves. They just put out their first full-length record and they have a bunch of cool shows in the works. Here they discuss recording in a studio, getting a vinyl pressed, and coming up with an album name. Their record is now available on blue and coke bottle clear vinyl. The Miscreant: It’s been almost a year since you guys got together as Dumb Talk. Are you guys about where you expected to be as a band? Will: We didn’t really have any expectations when we started. So whatever could’ve happened would’ve been fine. I’m more than satisfied with where we are now, it seems pretty cool. Even cooler that like, people give a shit about the music I’m making and are paying money for a record of ours. I never really thought about that happening. So no, this isn’t where I expected to be a year ago. But it’s rad. Harry: Yes and no. It’s been a crazy year and we’ve really changed a lot as a band, from how we work together and play shows to our sound and writing process. It’s still a lot of fun. And this is still only the beginning. The Miscreant How did Liam joining the band come about? Liam, are they nice to you? Will: The new stuff I was writing/recording had more than one guitar part. So pretty much if we wanted to 8
play these songs live, we would need another guitar player. We’ve been friends with Liam for like a year now. He rips so like, obviously I was gonna ask him. So mid recording we asked him to do it. I don’t think he played with us until after the recording was done. I wanna say his first show with us was at Bard. Whenever we get drunk, I try to fight him. He fucks me up every time. Also, him and Ian like made out the first night they partied together, so it seemed right. Ian: Well the first time I partied with Liam we came to a conclusion that if we did so much as a peck on the cheek it would lead straight to anal. Liam: These guys came along during a dark time in my life and pulled me out of a pretty unavoidably shitty path of self-destruction whether they know it or not and I love them for that. If it weren’t for them, I probably would’ve wrapped my car around a tree drunk off my ass the day before Thanksgiving or something along those lines so we’re good. They’re my dudes. The Miscreant So, the debut full length is upon us! Talk a little about that. What can we expect with this record? Will: I guess you can expect better songs in general. Or maybe they suck and I just think they’re better. I don’t know. The song writing process was the same. They all start with me getting high, recording a shitty minute long demo with really poor drumming, then sending it to Ian and Harry. We pretty much just spent more time on these songs. I tried to step up my game with the guitar playing, I don’t know if it worked. And like, we were in a real studio. So we got to do some cool shit. Harry: It’s a good amount of the stuff that we’ve been playing live for a while, and some newer ones we’ve only played once or twice. In a few days we’re playing two of the songs live for the first time. It’s definitely different from Love Sea. More danceable and fun but still punk. The Miscreant What were some of the album names you thought about before settling on just having it self-titled? Ian: Welcome To The Space Jam was seriously my first choice. Calling All Rastas was another option. 9
Will: Meet The Babes was there. We’re just not cool enough to use any of those. Harry: The Perfect Kiss. The Miscreant You had some room to work with on the vinyl sleeve. Any stories behind the album artwork? Ian: I was going through old slides at my Grammie’s house after my Grampie had died. We were just going through his old things. I came across a couple slides of my Dad and I noticed how much I looked like him. Nothing really too meaningful, just interesting. The Miscreant What do you think the advantages are with using vinyl for this release? Harry: Those who follow and are involved with the punk/indie/garage/d.i.y. scenes know that vinyl and cassettes are a big part of it all. it’s just too cool to me, because I’m a big vinyl collector. i think those within the scene will dig it. Will: I think it’ll look really good that we have an album out on vinyl. Like, more professional I guess. It’ll probably sound cooler too. Ian: To have something tangible to hand to people whether people respond to it positively or not I’ll be proud/happy to have accomplished something in music. The Miscreant What was it like record your first album in a studio? Will: Really weird at first. I was so fucking nervous when we started. I thought not having “lofi” recordings was gonna be the death of me. But it turned out to be okay, I think. The process was strange. We would go to the studio like every other Friday, and start at about 6ish. After like 3 hours we would take a break and go get dinner. The building closed at 2:00 a.m. but sometimes a security guard wouldn’t roll through. So some nights we stayed in there way later. It got weird. Ian: Personally, I was really excited to get into a professional studio. There are too many “chill-wave” fucking annoying bands out there that mask their shitty writing and performance with shitty recording quality (not saying it applies to all lo-fi bands). I saw it as an opportunity to “show ‘em what we’re made of.” 10
Harry: Cool. But Patrick was a real piece of work. Just kidding. It was really awesome. The Miscreant You guys rerecorded a couple songs from the Love Sea EP when you were in the studio. What did you guys do differently with those songs? Will: We didn’t change them too much. I wouldn’t wanna do that. Those songs captured the feelings and vibe of that time, so it would be weird to fuck with that. We did “Tasteless Lunch” in the studio and ended up not putting it on the album. We’ll probably release it at some point. Then we recorded “Minor Detail” and “Dream Team” in Patrick’s room as soon as summer started, and released them with the single from the album. The only big change is that we added an intro to “Minor Detail.” The Miscreant Talk a bit about the record release show! What, who, where, when? Will: So stoked. September 7th at SUNY Purchase with The Babies, LVL UP, and The Hiya Dunes. My friend David, who does the booking there, tossed us on that show. It just happened to line up with the record release. It worked out pretty well. I have such a crush on Cassie Ramone, so I’ll be pretty nervous. The Miscreant You all have a fall tour coming up. Where are you guys tour highlights we should know about?
Will: It’s all over the place. We’re all going to school this semester so it’s hard to like, get around. We’ll basically just travel somewhere every Friday night. To summarize, we’re playing a lot of college shows this fall with some v cool bands. We’ve been talking about doing some real touring over winter break. The Miscreant What else is coming up for Dumb Talk? Will: A lot of shows. I don’t know if I can say this yet, I don’t see why not. We’re releasing cassette of Love Sea, and a bunch of other songs I recorded in my room. We’re shooting to record again after winter break and maybe do a 7”, that would be cool. Yeah, that’s it I think. The Miscreant And, lastly, of course, what does being a miscreant mean to you? Ian: Climbing the corporate produce ladder at Stop and Shop 11
BACK 2 SKEWL SONGS by tori cote
Everybody is heading back 2 skewl. School is cool because it gives you something to do, makes drinking on Thursday/Friday/Saturday more reasonable, lets you see your lil chickens that you didn’t get to see all summer, and is good for a lot of other reasons like getting an education and bullshit. Personally, I love the atmosphere surrounding the first few weeks of school. So everybody strap in for a few good weeks before everything becomes real again/ the weather sucks/ you start hating everybody as per usual. 1. Summer Skin // Death Cab For Cutie You are allowed to cry for a few seconds because summer is over which means you can’t watch Netflix all day. Say bye to your summer flings because now it’s time for fall cuties. 2. Belispeak // Purity Ring Even though partying and friends is like really ~*important*~ , so is school. Purity Ring’s album Shrines is great for chilling and … studying. Buckle down and open your books guys! 3. Down in the Valley // The Head and the Heart I feel like every time I start class I question myself / what I’m doing with my life. Maybe you’re on the right track and you just got a little spooked, or maybe you need some adjustments. The future is scary guys. 4. Inni Mer Syngur Vitleysingur // Sigur Ros I can’t be the only person who associates certain seasons with certain bands. I love Sigur Ros and this is one of my absolute favorite songs to listen to in the fall. It makes you feel like you’re in a cute little music video if you walk to class while listening to it. Especially when foliage is involved. 5. Some Nights // Fun. I think this is on the brink of being a summer song, so it’s probably best to listen to this for the first week of school. While I still think that the Format kicks Funs. butt, this song is cute. 6. Shook Down // Yuck This is a good song to drive around Syracuse/ wherever you are. Yuck reminds me of friends and smiles, so it’s naturally a great song for the start of school. 7. The Great Salt Lake // Band of Horses I saw this album at the record store the other day, and it reminded me of how Band of Horses is just SUCH a fall band. I used to listen to this band every night before I went to sleep sophomore year of high school. It might be a little old, but it’s really a classic. There is a lot of other beginning of school music out there waiting to be listened to, but these are 12
going local by caitlin lytle
“Going local” is a term most often used to describe the trending of health nuts everywhere who are all of a sudden concerned with the food produced outside of the immediate community, a frenzy most often spurred after the viewing of a very graphic docu film on the food industry; but, in a society today where everyone is so concerned on going local with what they put in their mouths, why shouldn’t they be just as concerned with what is streaming into their ears. Music has such mentally stimulating qualities it should be just as a concern as all our other forms of consumption-- yet I still hear “Call Me Maybe” at least four times a day on the radio. Now don’t get me wrong I still love my junk food just as much as my mainstream Taylor Swift (even if she did get pop) on occasion—but I want to call the “Local” audience to now not only apply the sense of community to food but also music. Like local ¬¬food, local music has a simpler organic feature that really makes it different than anything else on the market. In terms of local this month I’ve really taken to a group that calls themselves The Wild Maps. With a description as romanticized as “Born to commemorate the centennial of the sinking of the Titanic, The Wild Maps tell stories of sea breeze heartache and landlocked ambition,” it is hard not to enjoy this quirky trio and their plethora of instruments as they sing about Monsters and Highways and everything in between on their first album, Trouble You Invite. Emerging from the LA area where everything is too fake to be real and being a ‘starving artist’ is as common as a cold, Wild Maps stands out with a sound that knows its homemade with a dash of experimentalism but has enough character to be spread around. With homegrown bands like this its not about the success of the sound but the happiness it brings to its listeners. With a blue grass/ pop/ country/ folk genre mash up it is guaranteed nothing else will sound just like this lowkey group I cannot help but sing to in the kitchen. As for the next organic pick, another genre twist occurs when Mr. Snoeman mixes punk and folk. An unlikely pair, the two sounds build unique songs that keep Soundcloud running all day long. The misfit pair that makeup Mr. Snoeman make their music to be real with talking and some cherished mess ups here and there bringing out the fact that musicians are real people too and when you better connect with the musician you better connect with the music. Mr. Snoeman plays around in Orange County not far from Los Angeles, but far enough away the music scene is basically non existent other than kids jamming in basements, so the fact they have at least gotten as far as “repeat” on a lot of locals’ Sound Clouds is a step. These kids aren’t looking to impress, just make some cool jams for their friends to show up to hear—and in a world today where actual human contact is slipping away their presence really has the ability to bring others together, a characteristic even present in their recordings that more and more musicians are beginning to lack. Homegrown music doesn’t just make listeners feel good like those veggies at your farmer’s market, they call upon an emotional presence a lot of today’s music is beginning to lack. My top song choices from my local listens: “The Hills are Talking” - The Wild Maps “Chapel with Caitlin” - Mr. Snoeman
princess of WHAT? by rachel gordon
The other day, my pal TJ posted an article on his Facebook that made me want to vomit and die. The title alone, “Taylor Swift, Princess of Punk?” is enough to make your typical good samaritan consider injuring a few children. In addition to “what the fuck, NPR?!”, my initial thought after reading the article was simple and obvious: Taylor Swift is not punk. I know you know that, but I’m very upset about this so let me vent. Ann Powers, the author of this blasphemous shred of toilet paper, uses Swift’s new hit song “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” as the foundation for her really fucking silly argument that Taylor Swift is a punk rocker. First, there’s this: ““We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” creates a mood of uplift — even joy — around emotions that are, in life, not pretty. The latest in the young post-country star’s growing portfolio of breakup songs isn’t earnest like “Dear John” or wistful like “Back To December” — nor is it explosive, like the revenge wails of Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert.” In other words, its not identical to her other unoriginal, gushy songs about boys, nor is it as as hardcore as Carrie Underwood, therefore it is the punk breakthrough of the century! If Kathleen Hanna were dead, she’d be turning in her grave, but thankfully she’s not so she should find Powers and Swift and punch them in the head. Powers then goes on to say that its shit like this that brings punk (specifically riot grrrl) into the pop mainstream. The issue with this is that mainstream punk is not a thing. Punk cannot be brought into the mainstream unless it is heavily censored, diluted and stripped of its identity, turning it into something totally soulless and artificial, and what do you know, thats exactly the case with Ms. Swift! Powers focuses on a huge part of Swift’s music that steers her clear of the punk genre, and that is her Swedish producer, Martin, who co-writes Swift’s songs. Maybe I’m delusional, but isn’t embracing everything DIY one of the defining aspects of riot grrrl? There are ways for top artists to bring DIY into their music, but they need to take that into their own hands and not let their producers call the shots. One example of this is Kate Nash, who started her own record label, Have 10p Records, as well as an after school club in the UK called “Kate Nash Rock N Roll For Girls After School Music Club”. Awesome, right? She acknowledged the huge gender gap in the music industry and took it upon herself (no producers, no 14
companies, herself) to create a program that teaches girls how to write songs and encourages them to have confidence. Anyway, I don’t want to take too much time away from Princess Taylor so lets get back to what her deal is. This Martin guy also worked with Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne, and Powers even says that Swift’s new song is “obviously modeled on Lavigne’s perky smirk”. So basically, Martin has succeeded in creating clones of what the mainstream is willing to accept as their version of punk music. As long as he’s around, future generations don’t have to worry about not having their very own trendy rebellious rocker chick, fully equipped with that quirky attitude that we all love so much! Excuse me as I go cringe in a corner at how creepy and horrible and true that is. In the music industry, weird old white guys picking up young ladies and transforming them into what society wants girls to be like is nothing new. Its hard to face the reality that most of those 60s girl groups that we love so much served as puppets for their male producers. For example, The Crystals is one girl group from that era whose members served as toys for their producer and manager, Phil Spector. From putting them on his own record label without their consent to bringing other singers into the group when he was fed up with the original lineup, it’s clear that most mainstream, top of the charts girl groups are the product of male executives. This is exactly the kind of male-created, faux feminism that artists like Lavigne and Swift are representing, and its incredibly sad. A few years ago, it was Avril, but now Taylor Swift is the symbol of this false female empowerment thing. Whining about boys is not all us girls are capable of! Its particularly amazing to me that Taylor Swift’s music is being associated with punk at a time like this; a time when a band called Pussy Riot, a Russian riot grrrl band has just been jailed for, to put it simply, being punk as fuck. These three women, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, are an example of what young girls and women should be paying close attention to, and being inspired by. Yes, they went to jail, but what they did was most admirable, and that is standing up against an oppressive force (in their case, the church) and speaking up for what they felt was right, regardless of the looming thought of potential consequences. More importantly than being thought of as a symbol for riot grrrl today, they are real life women who are victims of a corrupt government, something that most people in this country who have vaginas should be able to relate to. (Akin and Ryan’s comments are material for another article.) Unfortunately, what girls in our society are most likely to draw their inspiration from are songs on the radio that are sung by other girls who stress the importance of having a boyfriend and looking hot through their pre-programmed, shitty lyrics. Taylor Swift represents how oppression of women in the music industry is alive and well, cleverly disguised by a pretty face and an upbeat, spunky attitude. Luckily for guys like Martin and Spector, the mainstream audience has been thoroughly numbed by catchy tunes and cutesy lyrics, leaving them incapable of being satisfied with an incredibly tame, embarrassing excuse for punk, as well as incapable of being about to pick up on patterns of fake empowerment. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go scribble the names of my crushes in my diary and wonder how much black eyeliner I need to apply before I can be crowned the next princess of punk. 15
MOUNT EERIE with
@ BADLANDS 1007 East Fayette St.
directly next to Spark Contemporary Art Space
Tuesday September 11, 2012
8:00 PM $8 at the door
A MISCREANT’S goes to college by quinn donnell
The next time you’re starting your freshman year of college, bring a toothbrush, develop enough cardiovascular endurance to walk from class to class, and listen to lots of music. And when I say listen to lots of music, I mean the music coming from the house across the street that makes you say, “Is this song about what I think it’s about?” I mean the country song playing in the dorm room next door that had to have been written through an exercise that involved scribbling down the very first thing that popped into the writer’s head. And I mean every recommendation that a friend or acquaintance gives you to listen to later. Although an appropriate dental hygiene and an ability to make it to Probability and Statistics without having a heart attack may seem paramount to the success of your first semester of college, it’s just as important to experience different types of music and use those experiences to make relationships with the people around you. I used to think that a person was defined by the type of music they listened to. To a certain extent, this may be true, but college has compelled me to realize that the type of music people listen to isn’t as important as their passion for the music. If someone is willing to stand for hours, waiting for a Flo Rida concert, we have something in common. That common trait isn’t going to be the fact that I would stand there for hours with this person. But I do understand what it’s like to let the anticipation for a show take precedence over everything else. Chances are that this Flo Rida show will create the same sense of enjoyment for this person that I would take away from an Arcade Fire show, or a Black Keys show, and that’s awesome. So here’s my piece of advice, miscreants: recognize the impact that music has on others, and relate that to the impact that music has on you. If you find yourself in a situation with music that is unfamiliar or different, realize that the person introducing you to this music probably understands the connection that you have with your favorite musicians. It’s rare that a connection as strong as that can be understood by a complete stranger, but that’s what music does. So even if you’re not starting your freshman year of college, just listen to lots of music.
photo by tori cote
Trash - don’t take my life away A Surprisingly Non-Obituary for the C.C. in light of its Anniversary by david faes Sarongs had broken up that late April or May, Lindsey Leonard had left for L.A., Marina Zarya had unofficially retired from “the scene,” Jeanette Wall was in New York just beginning what would become The Miscreant, Becky Frass had declined the opportunity to run Spark, Ethan Rose was still playing with The Summer Switch, O, Morning had faded out, Castle Rockmore was long gone. It wasn’t about what was going on in Syracuse but what was not going on in Syracuse - at which point I’d like to give special mention to the things that WERE going on in Syracuse - The Practice Space, Badlands and Rojimusic. That March there was a lot of talk about this division within the Syracuse music scene between the University Culture and the Community Culture and it seemed like everyone was trying to build a bridge between the gap. It’s a divide that had been created by what I believe was a lot of Bush era propagandist bull shit with its roots in the corportization of America (welcome to 1968 right?) which resulted in the closure of record shops, punk venues which were replaced with businesses created to drain the pockets of rich New Englander parents while their kids were away at the highly priced summer camp that Syracuse University has become. By 2008 or 2009 the visibility of the culture of our city had been completely lost to the university save for what VPA Grad Students were doing at Spark... My friend Becky Frass, my unnamed boyfriend at the time and I decided we were going to try and fix that and planned to eventually book shows at our house and start a zine about video games, comics, sex, local art and music. So we joined as many student orgs as we could including WERW where we met a lot of other people also looking to close that divide. Marina who was the general manager of the station let Jeanette, Becky and I run shows out of her basement as part of WERW’s local outreach program, these were the first shows that were run out of the C.C. basement. The row of purple lights that are hanging up around the stage area are ones me and Becky hung up for a show Jeanette put on with Soft Landing that Sarah Aument opened. It was also used as a space for readings and performance art at open mic nights that Renee Reizman (former President of the Obscure Cinema Society) and Marina ran together. It’s no surprise that Becky, Chris, Ethan, Marc and I suggested to keep the house a music/art based house after Marina and her roommates moved out and the best way of doing that we all decided was to move in, of course! My break-up with one of mine and Becky’s best friends had a huge toll on Becky and my friendship as did her discontent with Syracuse. Our zine GLIB never got to see the light of day and Becky after becoming a prominent figure in the Syracuse art scene moved out to Chicago to pursue bigger goals. We just hung out the other day in Lake View and she’s doing awesome! I would sit on the C.C. porch in orange haze, chugging out of a handle of Barton’s rum I would share with my newfound best buddy Ray McAndrew. The two of us were inseparable ever since connecting over our shared enthusiasm for Sarongs. I had talked to Ethan and Chris about starting up a music collective. As part of the shows we could book out of the house but the idea was first pursued materially by Ray and I. We spent most nights together drunkenly wandering around town, singing and dancing to of Montreal, Young Girls, The New York Dolls and YACHT and throwing frivolous underwear and drag themed parties. And I remember once we were probably in our underwear, probably with make up on singing “Trash” by the New York Dolls. “Don’t pick it up, don’t take my life away!” The first show we had in the basement was with his band The Bedtimes and mine the Good Intentions. Ray and I were the ONLY people in both bands, but there was still a ridiculous amount of people because it was our close friend Lauren’s birthday and there was also a costume competition - the person who came best dressed as Georgie Fruit won three free shots! After that first, we worked to fill out our bands and put on more legitimate shows dedicating ourselves to this idea of the Clarendon Collective that Ethan, Chris, Marc and I had promised each other we would start. Trash was a centric idea. Lindsey Leonard’s events were focused on the absurdities of life. There were mounted buffalo heads and mannequins with strange masks and disco balls. It was about choice of consumption - collecting and consuming rarely, carefully.
Mine and Rays parties were about the by products of consumption. It was about half empty beer bottles, shattered glass, pinata guts strewn about the basement, porch and attic left unattended for months until we decided it was time for a big “classy to trashy fast” affair. It was about using trashed pizza boxes as a medium to build off of. I think recently he even had a piece like that shown at Mouth’s Cradle’s goodbye Syracuse show. But it was about half empty beer bottles rolling around a molded carpet in the attic. And out of the rolling rock bottles and PBR cans I could smell ghosts. And these ghosts would conjure from within the squirrel infested walls projections before me. I was even sleeping in the filth for a while on an old extra mattress we keep up there. The mice and rats and squirrels would run around scavenging for food but could find nothing but trash. Once Kat - our ad girl and loyal friend - suggested we clean the mess up and decorate the attic with beautifully adorned shawls and curtains or even bed sheets and I remember adamantly refusing. “People like the trash” I said fondly looking at a snare stand turned lamp - with a shade and all. Nick Valauri, Head Engineer of WERW often complains about how dirty we leave the PA we always rent from the station for all of our shows, but always endearingly, with a friendly reminder to clean it up that’s often only slightly ignored by us - something I’ve paid a fair sum of 15 or so dollars for out of my own pocket on a few occasions. Recently while speaking with Lindsay Crudele of Boston based rock’n’roll band Thick Shakes, she recalled most vividly Ethan, Lauren and I literally rolling around in trash in our attic. That night Ethan and I both had poorly applied - more like smeared on - eyeliner, something that’s now a regular thing we do for shows. In another corner of the attic there were three paper bags of what used to be cheeseburgers that we had ordered from Dorians. And don’t get me started on Dorians. The amount of shit around my house from Dorians is beyond religious, especially in and around my bed. There was also a table covered with “BEER/PIZZA FUND” labeled boxes, and imported Italian wines and champaign from New Years and other celebratory nights in which Ray and I played our favorite Bowie, Lou Reed and original songs, sweating profusely nearly naked for our best friends. Our trashiness was a spectacle, often featured in friends’ and bands’ photos, and a true mark of the house, the collective and of Syracuse. It’s been a couple days now since we received a less than cordial e-mail from one of the landlords that runs the limited liabilities company that rents out slum houses hidden behind slabs of white plastic along streets in the Westcott and University neighborhoods. After a few months of carefully watching us and not so lawfully entering our house without our permission, he’s wrongly accused the house of materially breaching the lease - but either way - if he believes he’s right, according to the lease, he has the right to evict us. He is going to do a walk through of the house on Saturday and if he finds any misplaced trash or anything wrong or damaged, or even if he doesn’t he can still kick us out. It’s hard to not take this personally, due to my strange affection for the insurmountable amount of trash I surround myself and my life with. My music is trash, my friends are trash, I am trash and I trash myself. Trash is my life. It’s made me think. It’s been nearly one year since Ray and I had the first “official C.C.... show,” with Only Child, the Good Intentions and The Bedtimes. Since then between Ethan, Ray and I we’ve put on over 20 shows with bands from all over the U.S. Tom Charles, Mirrah Stoller and I have started a zine as part of the collective called Bande a part which we’re looking to print out once a month. All of the individuals in the acts associated with the collective have grown as musicians and artists tremendously and have been able to pursue their projects while also reaching out to others’ and giving them a helping hand. And now with the help of all the friends we’ve made we’re running a C.C. associated house in Brooklyn (Hel) and Boston (name TBA). I am glad to say that the collective has grown far beyond the small basement at the original C.C. house. And there is going to be for a time at least, though it might be for ever, that we can no longer have shows at that original trashy basement due to our legal obligation to our lease agreement. But I’ve realized, being of something is just as important as being in it. The Collective’s integrity as an entity formed from trash for trash is never going to fade, and although we won’t be in that beloved green basement, or our moldy rugged attic they will never not be part of the collective. So here’s to trash, and here’s to sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, being freaky, being queer, and being fucked up. Here’s to the losers, to the punks, to the outliers. Here’s to the musicians and the artists who believe in themselves but not in the world. Here’s to the first amazing year of many to come for all those who are a part - in every small way from doing sound, to playing a show, to putting out tapes, to putting out zines, to putting up fliers etc. etc. - of The Clarendon Collective. Thank you all!
by nolan conaway 20
the latest from don’t stop please by andrew mcclain Playing music in Central Arkansas is rough. People do it a lot, and “the scene” is totally existent – I don’t want to downplay that. There are shows and places to play all over the place. However, there are a lot of bitter old townies lurking around because it’s not necessarily a nurturing place. Not really a classic springboard to a national audience. This is the town that, in 2003 gave America the gift of Evanescence, y’all...that’s about it. Everyone who plays music in Central Arkansas has one thing in common these days, though: they all talk mad shit about Don’t Stop Please. Why’s that, you ask? Good question, everyone. I’ll try to unpack this... First of all, maybe “talking mad shit” is a little bit of a comic overstatement – my journalistic conscience is suggesting that I avoid saying incendiary things that I can’t back up with facts – but it’s true that a certain amount of success tends to attract some bitter naysaying, right? I hear whispers of it, that’s all I’m saying. These six musicians are very talented. They write very good songs. They play very good shows. However, many a Little Rock band has been in their shoes, I’m sure of it. The pratfalls of the music industry prove to be too difficult for many a bar band – it seems that too many of them must have been at work when the A&R guys from Columbia Records dropped by their house, so they’re still hanging around, filled with townie bitterness about the fact that the Lucky Break they were entitled to was never dropped in their lap. The five guys and one girl in Don’t Stop Please have a different approach. Though they look like a crowd of kids you just caught smoking in a van after school and before jazz band, they’re the hardest-working musicians I’ve ever encountered. They have the drive and motivations to drag their asses all around Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas playing shows, and the hard work shows in their music and live show, but not on their faces. They relish every moment onstage. That’s what inspires bitterness. The band just released an EP, “Crowded Car.” The release show attracted a bigger crowd than Titus Andronicus or Blitzen Trapper did in Little Rock (whatever...). The EP is music for music’s sake, with little or no concession made in the name of coolness. It’s a mess of sax, upright bass, horns, cello, nasty blues guitar and funky organ sounds, stitched together tight with pop songwriting that’s as much Neil Young as it is Stevie Wonder. They make this work with an almost galling transparency. They have no time for putting on airs – they’re too busy booking shows.
For EmmA, forever ago by queen karen edith millar
‘What might have been lost, don’t bother me...’ The Wolves (Act I & II) - Bon Iver A few weeks ago, at the label I work for, we received some fan mail for one of our artists. It’s not an abnormal thing I guess - sometimes at least, people like to make other people feel that they’re worth something to them and it’s great; whether we like to admit it or not, we fall in love with strangers everyday. The individual in question had written to let us know how the albums of a particular artist we work with had guided her through dark times in her life - music enabled this woman to experience emotions which otherwise may have been suppressed. The return address scrawled on the back of the envelope listed a residential mental health facility somewhere in Michigan. I’d almost forgotten about this letter until very recently; the catalyst for the reemergence of its memory being when a neighbour jumped from the roof of the building opposite my own and I was inadvertently a part of the, very public, final moments of a life I had never before been involved in. It sounded like a car crash; for many of the witnesses, a hit and run. For the most part, my view of music lately has been taking it as somewhat of a commodity - who I can encourage to write about what’s being sold as the latest, hot thing people need to hear and which radio stations are worth the cost of the vinyl and stamps when it comes to sending out promotional copies of records. Despite caring about very little else more than I care about music, I had almost forgotten how to consume it as an officious bystander; misremembered the simple catharsis lyrics and melodies can provide when the allure of a promising career in a multi-million dollar industry isn’t in the back of my mind. Here comes the point where, those of you who know me personally, will not be surprised that I shall proceed to sing (in falsetto, obviously) the praises of Bon Iver’s initial libation to the world of music. ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’, although being penned about, let’s face it, a woman as foolish as she is blessed, can be taken empathetically by almost anyone. Yes, the concept Vernon deals with is the death of a romantic love; but in the past few days I have found myself equating his philosophies to the bigger picture of life as a whole. I first began listening to this record upon its release in 2008 (yes, I knew about him first) and, as a relatively sheltered and relatively average 18 year old, I took the music for its face, or aural value alone. I heard palatable melodies, lyrics
I could pretend to my friends I understood the metaphysical depth of and, as a whole, a style of music that wasn’t a world away from Sufjan Stevens’ ‘Seven Swans’ - my crowning: “I’m-sixteen-and-I’m-more-tortured-than-anyoneelse-will-ever-be-in-their-life” album. Then life, itself, happened. I think I fell in and out of love (maybe more than once) and I’m almost 23, living thousands of miles away, both physically and metaphorically, from the sleepy Northern Irish village I used to refer to as home. Over four years later, I find myself going back to the album that I admittedly never really understood properly until now. I have been unfortunate enough to know loss from a young age; death has been a frequent, unwelcome visitor to many of those closest to me and I learned to accept that people come and go long before a lot of my friends had lost their baby teeth. So back to you, Justin and Emma. Little is publicised about how the latter broke the heart of the former, yet Vernon’s lament to a long lost love has never rung more true to me than in the past few months; the boy who fell from the sky was not the first installment in a summer that turned into a series of unfortunate events which, oddly, has been one of the best of my life thus far. The loss I have experienced recently has not been related to relationships or the demise of those close to me; but more the loss of a notion that anything that does not concern me directly does not affect me. In an interview when the album came out, Vernon explained that he went to the wild because he was, and not in so many words, having a ‘quarter life crisis’ of sorts - he found that the solitude he was exposed to helped him “make peace with a lot of dark circles that had started to pool in different areas of [his] life.” I live in one of the most densely populated cities in the world - solitude is not a big thing for New Yorkers, save a precious few days upstate. And so, ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ has acted as my very own cabin in the woods - and I’m more thankful for its creation than ever. It has made me think differently, I am learning to take negative events in the most positive manner anyone can; whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you stranger - and, in a creative industry such as that of music, could I ask for anymore? Someone I met recently told me that ‘it’s good to be affected’ and he’s more than right. I saw death on a sunny street and I’ll gladly keep the scars to prove it. Hit. Run. But never forget. Playlist 8/30/12 “Flume” - Bon Iver “Lump Sum” - Bon Iver “Skinny Love” - Bon Iver “The Wolves (Act I & II)” - Bon Iver “Blindsided” - Bon Iver “Creature Fear” - Bon Iver “Team” - Bon Iver “For Emma” - Bon Iver “re: Stacks” - Bon Iver “Wisconsin” - Bon Iver Sometimes, I’m less melancholic - @karenmillar
WANT MORE MISCREANT? Dear Miscreants, And so summer ends as quickly as it began. This brings one John Cusack and Demi Moore movie to mind, but enough about Bobcat Goldthwait. As you can tell by the subject matter of several of this issue’s submissions, it’s back to school season! It’s as good of time as any to get those iPods out and download some new jams for the walk to class. It’s time to turn over a new page and start fresh. Undoubtedly, you now have a hefty list of bands to check out and create your own soundtrack to the new semester with! Speaking of next chapters and such, I’m super excited to have Dumb Talk on the cover of another issue! These dudes put out a kick ass record, and I’m so proud to be working with them. I’d like to thank them and everyone who worked on the record and the album art for being total miscreants. Also, thanks everyone who submitted to the band’s second cover issue! What awesomely talented people we’ve got working on the Miscreant and Miscreant Records -- I’ll never stop being impressed. On that note, it’s time to submit your work for issue 28 (speaking of, check out Magic Milk before next time)! Submissions are due September 18. Send your list of your favorite 80’s movie soundtracks, your q&a with your middle school sister’s band, your essay about the best mixtape a boy ever made you, whatever you have to say about the tunes you groove to. Email your work, as well as any questions you have about the Miscreant, to email@example.com. And don’t forget to check out the cool stuff featured in this issue! Look to miscreantrecords.com and the Miscreant Facebook for more info on the music you read about here and more! All my love, The Miscreant
Check out these releases from your fellow miscreants!
CWABS // burger burger
Friendless Bummer // Chlorine
Yung Life // Yung Life Chill Mega Chill Records
Featuring Dumb Talk!