Thursday, April 30, 2009

Double Dares , In-Jokes & Cultural Dissipation :: An Interview with Dead Wife

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Dead Wife are a young and exciting punk band from Montreal. They've only been playing together for a few months but already have a record in the works and are quickly becoming the toast of our city with their catchy and dirty riffage.

Dead Wife are Ashly (bass) , Lisa (guitar) , Rebecca (vox) and Walter (drums)

Chloe : How did Dead Wife come to be?

Rebecca : Basically Dead Wife was an idea Walter and I had been kicking around for a little while last year but it had never evolved past he and I jamming together in our basement. He would be pounding out on drums while I was playing weird things on keys and occasionally screaming on a mic. We eventually decided we needed someone on guitar to help us find new direction and Lisa was one of the first people we thought of. We jammed once soon after and it was alright. One Sunday night last December we were sitting around Shaun's kitchen table and Ashly was there too. Shaun was telling us about his new band Ultrathin and how they had booked their own debut show at the Friendship Cove for the following Saturday. I asked if we could play too if we had a song ready. It was more as a joke than anything because we had only jammed once. Shaun's a good friend and he was all for it but I don't think he actually thought we would pull it off. Ashly piped in saying that she played bass and she would like to play with us sometime. So we set something up for that Tuesday and managed to write a song. By Thursday night we had two more and we played all three of them that Saturday night at the Cove.
We felt a lot of support from our friends who were there that night so we decided we needed to keep going and braved the cold of our unheated basement all winter and kept booking shows.

Lisa : Ditto what Rebecca wrote. I think that DW was almost the result of a self-imposed dare... We're all just the right combination of craftiness and hard-headedness, and we're all punxx, which helped. Jamming and writing a few songs, then playing a show a few days later was something we just all wanted to do. Then we realized it was really fun making music together and decided to keep going. D*W*S*Y*H*F, you know?

We practice outta tiny amps, Becky sings through a Radio shack mic. We also lack wheels (1/2 of us lack motor vehicle skills).

Chloe: You guys are quickly becoming one of the most talked about bands in Montreal's underground , and had a triumphant first outta town show in Toronto. Any plans to hit the road and dominate other cities?

Rebecca : I think playing live from the get-go is important in the way we're evolving as a band because we had to get over insecurities almost immediately but at the same time it can be horribly overwhelming. That's why I don't know if I would like to call our first show in Toronto "triumphant". I mean I am proud of us for being able to play another city only months after we started but I think because we've come pretty far in a very short amount of time we have high expectations for ourselves and we're aware when we don't meet them. Some of Dead Wife may not agree with that but it's how I feel about it. I'm happy we're going back in June; I don't want to say it's to 'redeem' ourselves...but...I think we've come a certain distance since that show. In any case we're excited to be playing there again.

Ashly: I'm really hoping we can manage to plan a few dates for the summer, since we're all starving students and stuff, this is pretty much the only time we can think about getting a few gigs in other cities. I kinda made it my personal #1 priority for the summer to play more shows and write a bunch more songs. But first, we really gotta think about gear and wheels. It's awesome being poor.

Walter : We're going back to Toronto in June to play the opening for the Jesjit's hot zine Free Drawings. We get to play with our pals Gay Beast and are very excited.

We want to play T.O again, because, like Becky said (in so many words) we partied too hard on our friends front porch and then stumbled in the show in a fashionable mess and played a set that I only sort of remember happening. We're going to T.O this time with clear minds and spirits- but will probably have a beer or two to loosen up anyways.

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Chloe : What are the plans for the Dead Wife record?

Lisa: I really hope to be able to put together a nice little package with the songs we've recorded... Like, not just a bunch of songs pressed onto vinyl or burned on a CD, but a RECORD - a record of a time, and a place, and the people implicated. We wanna get our friends involved, but its kinda secret for now.... not sure if we're going to go the DIY route, put out on my label ( Psychic Handshake ), or maybe someone else's?

Walter : The last set be played was recorded and we haven't even heard it yet! But a Live Cassette seems like it would be fun. We would want to release it on Campaign for Infinity, our pal Bwagg's stellar tape label.

Chloe: How was working with Graham Van Pelt?

Lisa : Working with GVP was a breeze! None of us knew him at all before, but I felt very at ease with him. He's a pro.

Ashly: Yeah, working with Graham was a pretty awesome experience. He's an all around good dude, and he enjoyed the booze and chips we got him.

Walter: G.V.P is a gentleman. He had lots of great ideas in the studio and had the quiet self-assurance of a man who knows what the Deal is. We gave him some whiskey, a bag of ruffles and a bar of dark chocolate in exchange for his time and effort.We luv u G.V.P
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Chloe: Does gender inform your aesthetic or inner band dynamics?

Rebecca: Well I know we've been refuting the 'chick band' label. It's like why do we have to be set apart from a scene because most of us in the band are girls? That just seems too old school. We don't need anyone to pat us on the head or tell us how it is, you know?. I mean we need help and advice sometimes because we're new at this stuff and not because we're girls.
As for an inner band dynamic I'm not sure its gender that really matters. Then again, I've never been a guy in an all guy band. I must say though, we look fantastic in dresses. As far as music goes, we come from a variety of backgrounds so there's always this push and pull over a dichotomy in styles but I think we've been able to use that to our advantage. I know my vocals sound girlie but I like to imagine them as an entity other than myself that isn't subject to the same things as I am. At the same time I like to feel like they have this power over a room that only girls seem to possess. Lol.

Lisa:Heh heh, are you asking if the girls gang up on Walter? It's a pretty level playing field, I think.

As far as musically... I really don't think that our music translates any kind of political agenda... it's inspired by the internet, TV gossip shows, in-jokes....

If someone were to ask me if there should be more girls and more queers stepping up and starting bands, I would say YEAH. I do think that bands made up of girls and/or queers aren't given the same credibility just due to the labels associated with their inherent identities... but that's not why I joined a band. I wanted to play punk songs.

Walter: Girls and queers have been an integral part of punk music since the get-go, so I don't think it's anything mind-blowing that three girls and a homo "totally started a band omg". If Dead Wife are a girl band then I guess The Ramones are a boy band right?

Conversely, we're not afraid of showing our love for Versace, Star Magazine and a bunch of other stuff punks are supposed to hate. We're living in 2009 where basically anything can be inspiring. I mean, cultural dissipation anyone?

Chloe: What are the short term goals you all have for the band?

Walter: We wanna write new stuff, which kind of just happens in the first hour of band practice without really speaking to each other or saying anything. We just kind of plug in and see what happens.

Chloe: What inspires you?

Lisa: I'm inspired a lot by the bummers in my life. There are a few songs I brought to the table that hit the scrap bin, because they were too moody. lolz. We also come up with lots of our stuff spontaneously, on the spot.

Walter: One of my biggest inspirations in fashion and music is the endless appropriation of genres and styles oozing into one another. Having to negotiate an identity in this undefined space is what makes it interesting to be in a punk band, where your ability to define yourself is intrinsically rooted in what you love.

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Dead Wife play live!
Montreal May 20th @ Friendship Cove w/ Tyvek , Black Feelings , Grand Trine
Toronto June 11th @ The Pound w/ Gay Beast and Brides (Free Drawings launch party)
Montreal June 17 at Sala w/ Mika Miko , Demon's Claws , The Coathangers

Non-Human Places : Metalux Interview by DNML

Went to the record store today and drooled over the 19 dollar KK Rampage / Metalux split.  I'm too broke to buy it (that's what I'm telling myself), but it made me want to share this interview that I did with one of my favorite "bands" Metalux.  If you don't know already, Metalux is a duo comprised of Jenny Graf and M.V. Carbon.  Currently, J. Graf is busy in Baltimore with her other band Harrius (who blew my puny mind when I saw them live), and makes films, and does a billion other things such as "the guitars project" (It would take too long to explain, so just go to and check it all out.)  Carbon is in NYC doing strange and beautiful solo stuff every day and taking time out to play with experimental heavies like Tony Conrad, Carlos Giffoni, and Richard Hoffman of Sightings among many others.  Oh and Metalux is recording a new record coming out.  If you find out when, let me know.

Note: I did this interview about a year ago for a zine called Wet Noise, that my pal Jail did.  The zine was about queer and non-male noise arts, so that's why I'm asking creepy questions about gender, and some of the info is slightly out of date. 

D: How did Metalux begin?

JG: Metalux already existed on a box, and maybe in a box.  It was pre-fabricated, but nobody knows about that.  Carbon and Bridgette (the first two members of Metalux) saw it while looking at a stopped frame of a film Carbon shot in Chicago.  There it was; a box, with the word Metalux.  It was lurking around in the industrial zones where all the strong weeds grow.  Bridgette played a hand-made instrument with a motorized unit that played a wire.  Carbon played cello, I started playing with them half a year later-drums with contact mics running through some pedals.

D:  What are you scheming as of late?

We are recording a new record that will be out sometime soon.  We also have some video projects in mind.  And we want to spend more time in the woods.

MVC:  Jenny is working on finishing up a movie called Proud Flesh.  We just got back from an amazing tour in the U.K.  Metalux is planning on touring again in the near future but we are still figuring that out right now.  I've been busy in NYC collaborating with Tony Conrad
on various projects and we have been recording a lot of material which we plan on sorting out this summer.  I have also been working with Luke Calzonetti (of Child Abuse ) on a project called Bad Faces.  I'm working with Carlos Giffoni on a project called Jackal Blade, and I have another project called Violent Raid which has a record out on Shinkyo.  I've been spending a lot of time painting, and as Jenny said we are trying to spend more time in the woods whenever possible.  I'm hoping to shed a couple of layers of city skin by the end of summer.

D:  Describe some elements of your collaboration process.  What process/techniques work for you? ...and how does collaboration change when you work with others (Weise, or Twig....etc.).

JG:  We don't have a fixed process of collaborating, although it feels very familiar.  It has mutated over the years since we started.

LIVE- we work together best without a lot of parameters.  Although we have also played from scores and a lot of people seem to like that especially when it means they can recognize a song from a recording.  We just toured with a large group throughout the UK:  Yellow Swans , Evan Parker ,C.Spencer Yeh, John Wiese, Paul Hession, John Edwards, Lee Stokoe (Culver) and we all played together for two 50-minute sets for 7 nights.  I think that experience made me learn more about my own interests and abilities as well as those of Carbon's.  People bring out different things in each other just as in conversation.  Have you ever listened in on a conversation a very close friend is having with someone?  I am usually surprised at what that friend is saying.  I think it is important to eavesdrop on friends once in awhile just to affirm that you don't know as much as you think you do about him/her.

UNLIVE- We sometimes pass things back and forth for editing or mastering/mixing.  Sometimes we record something and do nothing, but much of the time we like to create a splice somewhere.  Sometimes I feel like I am a weaver, weaving strands of sound together.  I enjoy the mixing and mastering process very much with Metalux.  One thing that is great with us is that we don't argue about how to approach something.  We are both willing to let go of an idea or to try something that doesn't feel "right" right away. 

I think we both enjoyed working with Twig and we might kidnap him again sometime.  He taught me a lot about how to keep robbers away from the touring car.  He showed me how to put a very dirty sock on top of a bowl or some other food container on the dashboard.  Robbers can't break into a car that has that in the window.  We wrote some really great song structures using Instant Music (TM), a commodore 64 program.  Twig played the songs by moving the cursor along with a joy stick, which is an interesting gesture to see on stage.

D:  Would you describe any elements of your music/selves as gendered in any particular way?

MVC:  I like to think the music comes from a non-human place.  When I perform I definitely don't feel human.  I like to feel like I'm coming from an unearthly place.  A lot of our songs are about environments, sensations, or abstract descriptions.  Things that don't possess gender in the English language.

JG:  Here are certain kinds of gestures, actions or sounds that if performed in front of people (most people, it seems) it is like wearing a gender neutral the white sheet that most ghosts used to wear.  When a performer wears this ghost tarp, it is difficult for the listeners and players to enter into the sound/performance in a definite way.  Gender has so much to do with how people identify with every experience.  When I make music I think of myself as a creature.  Carbon and I are highly sensitized to each other.  We can feel each other subtly shift modes without looking or talking (and even in the silence before and between playing)  and because we do that we are able to symbiotically perform that way.  Again, this is why I call myself a creature when I make music in Metalux.  I don't think there is such a thing as gender neutral, but it is fun to pretend that it exists.  I think there are just so many different ways of being that it is impossible to categorize.  Gender is in the eye of the beholder anyway, but if one wants to call oneself more male or more female, or a creature, on should feel free.

I feel lucky to work with Carbon because she and I don't pin things down and kill them in order to gain understanding.  In fact,,one thing that I think is at the root of our approach is that for the first 6 months of practice, Bridgette Wilson (the first Metalux bassist), Carbon and I didn't talk about the music at all.  We would meet at Bridgette's loft, drink coffee or something and then play for 3 hours or so.  Then we would just disperse.  It all just seemed like an illusion of a practice.  Having just moved from NYC to Chicago, I thought maybe it was some weird Midwestern thing not to talk about what we played.  And I do think that is partly it.  Chicago wasn't fixated on defining itself in the same way NYC and East Coast places was, so people weren't spending tons of time analyzing things verbally.  Most of my epiphanyt moments watching people perform (or act) happen when people stop being people and also stop playing their assigned gender roles.  What is interesting is when they become vessels for something else, for a thought.  I find that more sexually/spiritually stimulating anyway.

Some people who influenced me in this way are:  Aileen Wuornos, Tina Turner (the first female pop icon I related to), Linda Montano (the first artist I related to), Prince (my first concert), Ohm Kalsoum (the Egyptian singer), Augusta Graf (my grandmother) and also various people I have known personally. 

D:  What color is your house?

JG: Inside? Coral (between orange and pink)

MVC:  I live at West Nile, a large warehouse space below the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn.  The walls are stacked high with white cinder blocks.  The ceiling is vaulted corrugated metal, which does wonders for acoustics.  Our kitchen is a stage and we frequently host performances.

D:  Who have you been into lately?

JG:  I live in The greatest City in America! At least that's what the bus stop benches say in Baltimore.  There are people doing things here that I don't think are happening anywhere else, and if they are, great!.  More important, is the context in which things happen.  I am totally down with the style of happenings here.  In backyards, in alleys, in basements, in bedrooms, and very little middle man ning.  A lot of collaborative living, filming, working as well.  I will tell you mostly about Baltimore stuff happening since it is less likely that it gets out into the mainliner veins of the media industry.

D: names?

JG:  Have you ever heard any of Blaster Al Ackerman's stories on cd or vinyl?  You can hear tracks on Ehse .  Ehse is a Baltimore label and everything on there is capable of blowing your mind (depending on the way the wind is blowing).  I like Leprachaun Catering and Trockenesis and Little Howling Wolf for a start.  Twig, Caleb and Chiara Giovando just started a label called enleseries.  A person can custom order sides of a record from a catalog of about 20 different artists.  The records are hand-cut using a lathe so each one sounds slightly different.  You can hear the grooves which is really lovely and creates nuanced variety in each disc.  Metalux has a track on there but there are so many great musicians that you may or my not know of who have tracks there.  I like the Beastmaster and the Hans Grusel tracks a lot. 

There are people making films here too.  Catherine Pancake just finished Black Diamonds, a film about strip mining in W. Virginia.  It is a very powerful documentary  that she dedicated very many years putting together.  She has traveled a bit with it and included the W. Virginia women activists as speakers.  But I have very much respect for Dan Conrad who has invented many different instruments since the 70's.  He has these incredible light boxes that shift shape and color, one of which he plays as a color instrument.  I played with him several times and it is an amazing experience. is his website and he just finished a dvd documentation of the lightboxes.  He happens to be Tony Conrad's brother too.

MVC:  When I see live music, I am really interested in the approach.  I feel like there are so many connotations that can come along with particular instruments and I like to see people who are successful at diminishing stereotypes.  Sometimes I feel like the approach for the audience needs to change too.  I am surprised that after all these years the tradition for watching a band is to stand or sit facing them.  Some of my favorite performances that I've seen in the last year have been Keiji Heino w/ Thurston Moore, Audrey Chen, Zeena Parkins , Phil Niblock , Spencer Yeh, Little Howling Wolf, Radio Shock , Imaginary People, Fashi Mello, Sightings, No Neck Blues Band, Z's, Exceptor, IdM Theftable, Carlos Giffoni, Susie Ibarra , and Robert Ashley's Concrete.  This week I have been listening to stuff by Nam June Paik, AMM, Subotnik, Ariel Pink, Grace Jones, Television, Yoko Ono, and Christian Marclay.

hope you like it.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

OvO Interview

OvO is one of the most interesting bands playing in this day and age. The combination of heavy riffage, bombastic drumming and vocals that could either crush concrete or lull a baby to sleep makes for an interesting blend of sound. I first saw OvO live in Providence, RI (my home) years back when they were supporting Miastenia their first album on Load Records . For the most part I check out every Load release because it is a great label and owner/operator Ben McOsker has knowledge for miles of interesting and unique music (laypeople will catch up to this label in the future). OvO was such a pleasant surprise: 2 people, woman and man, she (Stephania Pedretti) plays guitar, fiddle and her own hair and he (Bruno Dorella) plays percussion, usually a floor tom, one cymbal and snare. The sound is huge! When performing live, the band donned garb that appeared influenced by Carnival or perhaps something more… evil? Rhythmic and noisy the band played music that was on such a level above most else that many were standing in awe with their jaws on the floor. Without having heard their music before, people instinctively broke out into a frenzy of dance.

On wax, the band has many amazing past releases. The newest contribution to Music is titled “Crocevia,” and it is a magnum opus. Diverse sounds emanate from this record, noise, doom, hardcore, no-wave and Hawaiian strumming all can be heard. Long dirges with repetition meet other songs with short Lydia Lunch ’79 style vocalizations and guitar work. Again I am left in a state of sincere admiration of this band and their work. I encourage all to check out this new record (another release on Load Records), and do not miss this band live when they do come to your area.

The following is an interview with Bruno Dorella of OvO (Stephania is currently on tour with her solo project ?Alos) -

1. I am not sure exactly what part of Italy you both are from? Milan? If so, do you have any comments about the music scene in Milan (past or present)?

We're from Milan, but we're currently living in Berlin, Germany. There's always been a good scene in Milan, since the 70's. My favourite one to mention is Wretched, the wildest Italian punk band ever. Today the experimental rock scene includes bands like Uncode Duello (and all the one where Xabier Iriondo is involved), Fuzz Orchestra, Ronin... Even the two Italian twins of Blonde Redhead are from Milan. Berlin is more about electronic music. If you wanna be on the techno- breakcore- dubstep map you gotta live here a couple years at least. There's a good noise scene, small but good. A lot of great musicians from all over the world just come to live here, cause it's cheap and creative. But not many of them are German, and the experimental rock scene is really small. Beside OvO I mention Monno, MoHa! and UglY Iglu, but most of them aren't German.

2. What is it like to live in a country where it is a respectable trade to be in a band? Or is this not the case in Italy?

This is too complicated. It'd need a long, boring sociological excursus.
We should define "respectable trade", and try to understand why the most successful bands come from the US, where it's apparently an unrespected trade... don't know, I really think it's too boring...

3. Your new album "Crocevia" is very good. This word means "Crossroads" in English, is this album title related to anything spiritual? I know this concept is used in many old Blues songs - Robert Johnson and all that...

It's related to something spiritual and practical at the same time. Me and Stefania have been a couple for 11 years, and we basically split during the recording. We did it in peace, we're still friends and we still do OvO and take care of each other. Musically with this album we say goodbye to improvised and avant-garde music to become a rock band, even if weird. In Italian Crocevia means something stronger than Crossroads... it's a Milestone too. It's something you don't come back from, or an important decision that will influence your whole life. Last but not least, the words Croce (cross) and Via (road) remind of Christ's Via Crucis, so this album is also a concept about Crosses (Ostkreuz means Western Cross in German and it's a very special place in Berlin, Croce del Sud means Southern Cross in Italian, and so on...).

4. Stefania has a very unique and amazing vocal style ranging from operatic singing to her trademark growl; it makes the music very evil sounding but also beautiful. How was this style developed?

She's a natural born phenomenon. Her voice sounds like a trained opera singer mixed with the wildest male growler linked to a chain of weird pedal effects... but it's all natural and she does it without any training. Some singing teachers saw her and said that her body technique and her use of her stomach and throat would usually need years of study...

5. The one song on Crocevia titled "Tiki 2020". This one sounds No-Wave in a really great way. Do you both enjoy listening to No New York or other No Wave albums? Or was the inspiration elsewhere?

You're right. We love No New York and the no wave scene. I chose to play a minimal drum set instead of a regular one after I discovered that record. The energy in that album is unique. Tiki 2020 started as one of our many "OvO goes Rockabilly" songs ( Tiki 2010 is another one), but Stefania's guitar riff and voice gave it definitely a no wave taste. We were worried it would sound like contemporary arty farty San Francisco-NewYork newnowave, which we really don't like, but I hope we avoided it somehow.

6. How was the recording experience for this album, you did it in Brooklyn, NY correct?

It was great. We worked with Jason La Farge at Seizures Palace Studio in Brooklyn, the same where Martin Bisi recorded Sonic Youth, Naked City, Unsane, Alice Donut, Zeni Geva, Lydia Lunch, Cop Shoot Cop, Swans and tons of other great bands in the 90's.
Jason was really patient and easy, the rooms sound great, we didn't have to add a lot after the pure recording. The magic of the place did the rest.
You sit on a chair? It's where the drum set of Bad Moon Rising was.
You cook some tea? The drum set of Torture Garden was there. There's a hole in the wall? It was Brian Eno throwing a chair during a frustration moment in the recording of Material. John Zorn apparently recorded some sax tracks in the bathroom... you can't even take a shit without feeling all the inspiration of that place!

7. What are you listening to lately? What kind of music would be on your normal playlist?

I listen to everything, really. From grindcore to chamber music, from free jazz to breakcore, from soul to avantgarde, from african music to all the Load stuff... but lately I'm listening to a lot of electronic music, I name Murcof, Fennesz, Venetian Snares, but there's a lot of good stuff out there. Recently I listened to the whole collection of Load records, what a great label. And then as usual a lot of heavy metal, especially the stuff on Relapse, and the band that never leaves me alone, Neurosis. Stefania is more into classical music, but when she listens to rock it must really really heavy...

8. Last, is there anything you would like to let people know about OvO or your new record?

We would like everyone to know that this is our best record. It really is. There have been some problems with the distribution, the release dates, the promotion, and because of these things many people don't even know it's out. So spread the word and see you in September for our US tour.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tobias Rochman's NEW BAND FEATURE NO. 2 - NÜ SENSAE (Vancouver, British Columbia)

NÜ SENSAE are among Vancouver, British Columbia's cream of the crop in terms of what's happening in the DIY underground scene. I was first introduced to them through their contribution to the "East Vs. West" cassette put out by Divorce Records a few years ago. The two-piece pioneer "Voodoo Punk" which (regurgitating myspace profile influences a bit here) sounds kind of like The GERMS + L7 stripped down to just distorted bass and drums. It's usually pretty catchy and then sometimes they go feral and start losing it. Which all adds up to tons of exciting fun. I was pleased to be able to speak to both members.


* Nu Sensae split cassette with N.213 - Thankless Records
* Nu Sensae track on "I ate your arms" Thankless Compilation
* Nu Sensae "East vs. West" split cassette with Mutators, Shearing Pinx, Modern Creatures, Hamborghinni, Be Bad and Attack Mode - Divorce Records
* Nu Sensae track on "I ate your legs" - Thankless Compilation
* 3 Nu Sensae tracks on Emergency Room compilation - Nominal Records/Grotesque Modern
* Nu Sensae Self Titled 12" Album - Isolated Now Waves


* "Three Dreams" 7inch - Critiscum Int.
* Nu Sensae track on Hockey Dad Records Compilation
* Nu Sensae "Live in Portland" cassette - Oms-b
(Photo by Nic)


It seemed like the Vancouver underground scene had expanded really fast and was riding high last year. But when I was visiting a few weeks ago I was told most of the illegal venues (like The Emergency Room etc) had been shut down and other staples like Pub 340 had "changed format" and now the city is trying to also trying to shut down another pillar The Cobalt due to the 2010 Olympics & new condo dwelling neighbours? What's the score as you see it?

Andrea: Vancouver is getting more and more prudish. It seems like every time something gets banned people just comply and act like those rights they had prior never even existed. .

Daniel: It is a bit of a bummer but I don't think it's anything really serious. Venues always come and go, especially in a city like Vancouver which is totally unsupportive of the arts in general. This venue scarcity happens every few years here, and I think it can be kind of constructive. It builds up tons of resentment and gets people creating more illegal venues. Vancouver has produced some amazing bands in the past few years that are now getting a lot of recognition all around the world. And certain venues are definitely associated with that success but definitely not attributed to it. So I don't think these shut-downs will have any affect on the music. We have all worked really hard at building a decent music scene here and I think the venues have the least to do with it.

I remember there was a big Exlcaim! article heralding the new Vancouver "Weird Punk" scene where a musician who didn't want to be named was quoted as saying “stick to covering Factor grant bands.” What contribution (positive or negative) did this type of media attention make - if any?

Daniel: I can't speak for any of the other bands or people involved but I personally never had any issues with that article. It has only given us positive attention.

Andrea: I can't relate to that attitude.

Of course playing outside of Vancouver seems to be no problem as you have a MASSIVE tour planned from May-August. Are their any places you are excited to visit? Any bands you're excited to play with?

Daniel: This is our third time going to the States but we have never been further than Los Angeles. So I am super excited to see the rest of the country.
We mapped out our tour so that we have to spend two days in Death Valley. I'm stoked on that. We love touring.

Andrea: I'm excited for new places and new people.

(Photo by Mish)

Do you think the 1% of kids that are using the Internet to become extremely well informed could potentially make art that is more potent or unique based on it's circumstances? Now that you can hear anything you want and see any band play live through uploaded and streamed video bootlegs, do you think taste is more developed and inspiration more abundant? Do the smart get smarter and the dumb get dumber? Or does it close the gap if only slightly? (or something else completely?)

Andrea: I like accessibility, I feel like I deserve everything the Internet has made free. I don't know what the consequences will be..

Daniel: I'm a bit on the fence about it. I mean it's great for bands because the new generation of music junkies have a crazy resource to find out about "10th wave feminist Japanese psycho-ska bands" or whatever. Myspace, music blogs and online radio shows have spawned Nu Sensae fans in countries we've never been to and will probably never play in, so it's awesome for that. But something about it is a little detached for my liking although I'm not at all opposed to its possibilities. Either way I think that more than 99% of people using the Internet are jerking off in their bedrooms.

Does the recent introduction of online Social networking affect show/event attendance?

Daniel: I think it helps with getting the word our for sure. But if your band sucks it's probably still gonna be empty.

How did you guys manage to get a 1sided 12" out in an edition of 200 and still be able to sell them for $10?

Daniel: Well we paid for the record from show money that we had saved up. So we never had to put any of our personal money into the record so everything we made back was profit. We wanted people to be able to afford it and I think 10 dollars for an LP is pretty decent.

We actually are about to repress the LP because it sold out.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


I wrote this whole Big Thing about the entire current state of Music, all its evils and its greatnesses and indie culture and bullshit, and now I’ve just decided to leave it in my notebook and off of Blog Stratosphere. Why? Because nothing’s changed. Major labels still suck, whether they’re scrambling to stay alive or not, people will always rip off the music they love instead of buying it, and there will always be steady streams of completely amazing and shitty, shitty music coming out to be discovered, now or later.
So I took a note from Badfinger and decided to go “Straight Up.” (No Rundgren reference intended.)
These are a bunch of new-ish albums (and one EP) I’ve been feeling a lot these days, and the feelings that go with them:

Emeralds “What Happened” (No Fun)

This U.S. trio lay it on super thick with the cosmic blankets, tucking in evocations of early solo Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream’s “Atem” and “Zeit” to deepest sleep beneath your subconscious activity. Here, what you live is what you dream worth living. The inherent heights compiled on this CD-only-and-fucking-worth-it album effortlessly obliterate the robotic coldness of the crystalline synthesizer and achingly ambient guitar get-up into more gaseous and much warmer realms of sub-space than most can pull off with all the Daddy-money their basement lifestyles can afford.
Balls deep under almost-ambient psychedelia’s clitoris, motions unravel a little more lucidly, but these “free” session heads stay focused and leveled enough to gel well all the fucking time. Magic music for mystic swimmers, oceans wide in scope... Stoned, but not too alone.

Total Abuse “s/t” (Deranged)

A debut that makes sure you’re not getting back up after it ferociously knocks you down. These guys rushed out of some desolate sewer somewhere in the U.S. and suddenly make punk rock, noise rock, hell—ALL aggressive music, new and old—Total Abuse make it DANGEROUS and EXCITING again. Would you invite this band into your living room to play a show to your friends? If you said Yes, you’re probably masochistic, or wasted as fuck, or you’ve just never heard this record. This record will destroy you. It could’ve come out in 1981 and already been cherished as your favourite album since you were a teenager, but hearing it a few months after it came out, it somehow feels REFRESHING. If only just to know it all hasn’t been done to death. So fucking real, so fucking raw, and so fucking bursting with it.
May punk rock never die... This is a real next-leveler of a debut LP, coming hard after 7-song 7” tore hardcore’s bones out of the throats of its dead heroes. Fucking scary shit, man, I’m telling you… Just dig that limited edition screen-printed “breast milk” cover. These guys are here to fucking play, and they mean bad business, because life isn’t all fucking cherries, brunches and frappucinos, you spoiled western world bitches. Taste the dirt of reality and RESPECT it.

Shepherds “Loco Hills” (Not Not Fun)

Way motorik, slightly lo-fi off-shoot of psych-folkies Woods, Shepherds slide into krautrock’s full-band psych-side so gracefully, tunefully and timelessly, you can’t help but wanna fall under their steady, evolving, fluid trance. Far out but in focus… All around ballin’. Hope the hiatus these cats are on isn’t a permanent one, because their side of the Ignatz split 7” for Not Not Fun is as “good times” as this delightful, unpretentious album, and the more magic music there is out there, the more wonderful go the days and nights.

Dead C “Secret Earth” (Ba Da Bing)

What the good God fuck is going on here?! The Dead C went and slipped out their most straight up and accessible LP of unraveling rock since “Eusa Kills”—quite possibly the most accessible LP of their entire careers—and nary a soul gave more than a hearty chuff of enthusiasm. I can’t hardly relate what a golden boner I have for this magnificent, flowing touchstone of a refined rock album. It’s suspended in a zone reserved for the times when Crazy Horse staggers fucked thru desert fields, honey sliding outward into unknown landscapes, strange and driven, circa ’75, ’76… “Zuma” into “Stars n’ Bars” territory… Turned to noise… and bronzed.
No group has aged and refined so well as this in the post-noise climate. Their limited-edition tour-only live 12” (which plays from the middle outward!) is well worth seeking out, too, as is the more damaged and instrumental “Future Artists” 2xLP from ‘07, the song-less, exploratory nature of which perfectly compliments the more focused and tuneful state of “Secret Earth.” Another unheralded, poorly selling plate of musical wisdom from the finest noise-rock band this side of Hades. Feed your brain some real nourishment and wrap it around this album, please.

Sic Alps “U.S.EZ” (Siltbreeze)

Some great little off-the-cuff garage-pop fuzz tunes buried deep amid the ruinous feud waste of this dived-out, drug-addled, riff-raff jam-pack of an album. Sounds like these cats set out to stow away like it was “Exile on Main St.” or “Twin Infinitives” all over again, because they sure cooked out a spontaneous stove-top vein-melter of a record on some lost long weekend. Ex-Coachwhips dude leads this project, and apparently previous Sic Alps albums are a lot different than this shambles of nearly burnt-out, slagged-off genius, having featured the bassist from Erase Errata and the Hospitals main dude. I’ll hear that stuff eventually, but I’d rather keep my original daydream that Sic Alps is some band that appeared out of nowhere and is related to no one. “U.S.EZ” outshines a lot of other buzz plates dropping these days and comes off so fucking effortless. Abandon at its best. Feel the damage enfold you and marvel at its catchy, memorable head-fuck.

Blues Control “s/t” (Holy Mountain)

Amazing little unisex duo of a dude on guitar, wailing or riffing it out, and a chick on keys and machines holding it down with beats and synth swaths. Almost simply another lo-fi and drone unit, Blues Control instead opens up to more accessible manna of textures and broken melodies to escape drone’s monotonous, depressing trappings and venture into areas more akin with krautrock, ‘70s Eno, Bowie’s Berlin era, and other playful and wonderful worlds of music. Fun, interesting stuff that doesn’t take itself so seriously as to stifle creative flow into formulaic sterility, but takes itself seriously enough to not come off goofy or half-assed. My only complaint is that suburban doorbell that reoccurs throughout “Frankie’s Problem”—such an unpleasant sound, but I’m sure these young artists have their reasons. And we’re all Frankies anyway…
I like this self-titled sophomore for Holy Mountain even more than their epic and minimal debut “Puff,” and I don’t usually go that way in my taste. These two put on a great live show, too. And dig that fucking psych cover art! I got so tripped out about it, I had it for months before my girlfriend informed me it actually spells out “Blues Control” in its psych line-art… It’s music like this—and awesome girlfriends—that help you stay young at heart (and art).

XO4 “Cataracts” (Ecstatic Peace!)

This is such an ultimately creepy and psyched out record. Imagine if Pelt got downright eerie and even subtly malicious during their plugged-in phase, and you’re somewhere near the vicinity of this western Massachusetts trio between avant percussion cats Jake Meginsky and John Truscinski, and Vampire Belt / Shackamaxon guitar treater extraordinaire Bill Nace. Truly frightening improvs chock full of movement, expansion and willful intent—not your average aimless or overly intellectualized avant fair. Way out alien sounds, captured in the raw for a standout Ecstatic Peace! release. This album came out back in 2007, but I only picked it up a while ago and it’s one of the finest new-ish things occupying my turntable, so Blog sticklers save your verbal attacks and factoid checks, please.

U.S. Girls “Introducing…” (Siltbreeze)

Megan seems to have found the way to bleed pop music down to its very core, so that there’s only a distant, thudding beat, a wall of cacophonous sonic tape spill-over or ghostly guitar melodies, and a powerful, enchanting voice left to bare witness to the rubble that’s lying around. U.S. Girls is the real deal. There’s such attention to detail and structure and a concise sensibility at play beneath its rough and tumble immediate impressions—hers are the barest foundational ideas of pop and rock, and noise. Future music for heads of all making, this is challenging, stripped down primitivist prayer programs for those who’ve kept their wit, and their edge, intact.

Blank Dogs “The Fields” (Woodsist)

Yeah, everyone’s loving on Mike Sniper these days. What’s one more blog entry asserting this really worth? His one-man New Order on vodka and anti-depressants passion-pop jams sure caught the bug, and they’re spreading like crabs across the big balls of the internet, record labels, and ear buds.
The young dude’s double LP sophomore “Under and Under” drops this May on In The Red, but until then we’ve got this recent EP for the Woods crew, the “On Two Sides” LP and all those great 7”s to soak up. “The Fields” certainly shows Sniper venturing out of his insular creative shell to explore more band-oriented arrangements, most apparently on “Red World” and “Passing the Light,” where it sounds like a full band playing away and not altering the Blank Dogs sound one iota. One of the lovely Vivian Girls lent some help to this EP… Sniper’s deep into a gold sound, so let’s hope it ages well, because when he hits a killer chorus or bridge, it really hits you in the chest. Not all these songs are great—“The Other Way,” for instance, is a little lackluster and uninspired—but there’s no mistaking good sound and wicked sensibility—first side closer “Spinning” is my favourite track, reminding me why I like OMD and Cabaret Voltaire so much.

Black Dice “Repo” (Paw Tracks)
DOOM “Born Like This” (Lex)
Madlib “Beat Konducta Vol. 5 – 6” (Stones Throw)
various artists “XXperiments” (Die Stasi)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

JAMES FELLA / GILGONGO RECORDS - full / downloadable guest DJ set (on Arizona State's college station)

I was recently asked to be a guest DJ for an hour on the Arizona State University's college radio station (they were doing a week of guests who run label,s play in bands, etc), so I compiled a bunch of mostly noisy punk / garage / and the such - as well as a few upcoming releases from my label) and threw them down for an hour or so. Here is the set in it's entirety! (feel free to download)!

March is pretty insane, living in central Arizona. We get a million incredible bands coming through on their way from the west coast to SXSW. Regardless of what you think or don't think of the event, there is a pretty healthy "unofficial" festival that is auto-leeched and provides an interesting meeting point for like minded people, not just "music industry" people, because I don't think any of us on here would be too concerned with or stoked on that. Still though, it's weird, no one will say it's not.

Regardless, Texas traffic brought through Blank Dogs, Eat Skull, Naked on the Vague, These Are Powers, Wavves, Abe Vigoda, Thee Oh Sees, White Mice (or perhaps it was just when they were touring), and countless countless more. There's no point in trying to remember at the moment, and I don't want to go into details and highlights.

what I am ACTUALLY doing, is tossing out a mild excuse for my like of contribution for the past month. I'm very excited about this entitity, but on top of working a 60-80 hour a week job, running a label, playing shows often and seeing even more, the time just wasn't there in March.

So, hope you dig the radio set! Expect some "real words" soon!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Outsider Hardcore

While I am reluctant to use the word "outsider" for anything, with its elitist connotations and classist assumptions, I can't seem to think of a better word for the phenomena I want to talk about. That phenomena is when hardcore music is so strange that even an acid-dropout with no punk background like myself likes it. I'm not talking about stuff that is just merely aggressive and psyched out at the same time here, like Sightings or Sword Heaven or Lightning Bolt or Coughs or AIDS wolf (although their most recent show at the Smell could have almost passed for a straight up hardcore band). I'm talking about those instances when hardcore is the goal. Sometimes from people that are entrenched in hardcore scenes and just happen to do it in a really inovative way or when weirdos that don't nec know a lot about hardcore do their best hardcore impression. Am I being demeaning yet? I tend to talk that way about things I love. Forgive me. Anyway, I'm finding myself in yet another phase of listening to a lot of stuff like this I thought I would share some links. If anyone has a better way of circling words around these bands, please comment!

[noise kids from Providence that rocked straight and pure but with the most atrocious sounding gear available.]

Deep Jew
[LA's answer to Dynasty?]

[troo cincinanti hardcore with gabber influence and noise exposure]
on tour now:

Slicing Grandpa's ("Le Hardcore" 7" only)
[seattle oldschool weirdos that did a tribute to hardcore recently... i cant find any music to share from this though, just buy it!]

Apathetic Ronald McDonald
[young kids from la's true backyard hardcore scene that do ridonculous shit]