Tuesday, May 19, 2009

No Ventilation on Mercury: Missing Quad Muth

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while. Discussions crop up about Quad Muth every so often, and when they do, it makes me wish I could see them play again. The band were an important part in my musical development - their music was weird, they made ample use of performance’s visual aspect, and they would move their audiences to respond and affirm what they the band were doing on the stage…or on the floor in front of the stage…or in the dingy basement…

            It was no small feat given the sadly oft-proven caricature of Midwesterners as staid, retiring folk, given to resenting anyone for sticking out, for daring to dress up and especially for committing the sin of not using any of the acceptable and expected tools everyone in their right minds should use if they’re to be in a band. Quad Muth were a poke in the eye and a rude fart in the general direction of this tragic mindset. To me they were inspirational.

            I first saw them by accident in the spring of 2003. I was a big Sicbay fan and this show was my chance to finally see them, as I was only nineteen at the time and couldn’t go to any ID shows. Having no idea what Quad Muth was save for the vague suspicion that they would be somewhat math rock, I was surprised when two figures stalked into the venue from out back. One had its face covered by this sickly gray mask whose flesh seemed frozen in mid-boil, with bits of rag barely containing the dark brown hair which spilled out from behind its head. The other was a short fellow with ooze the color of his alien-like counterpart smeared all over his otherwise business-friendly attire; he came in with a crutch. The duo commenced with this diseased churning of programmed and live electronics, almost subterranean in how the otherwise pristine digitally-rendered details were being obscured into a frothy muck. The young professional type alternated between incoherently mewling and howling into his echo-laden microphone, gyrating his upper body all the while to compensate for his lame leg that rendered him incapable of any other movement. At the conclusion of each song, the alien figure would raise both its arms into the air as if to indicate some kind of victory, and I immediately envisioned a scene where the young professional, on his way home from work earlier that day, was captured and possessed by the alien to do the otherworldly visitor’s bidding. The ooze seemed to indicate as much.

            At the sight of this unexpected bit of theater unfolding in front of us, my friend and I laughed for the entire set out of sheer joy. It was one of those beautiful moments when something wholly unexpected just seizes and refuses to let go. Sure I had listened to Suicide and loved the first record for how timeless it sounds, but until that afternoon I’d never actually seen anything like that attempted and then pulled off with such a tightly wrapped layer of visual and sonic mystique. That they were also from Minneapolis blew my mind.

            They went on add another member on “drums" (a collection of electronic pads and assorted percussion ephemera) and play shows with some of the better bands of the middle 00s: Mindflayer, Lightning Bolt, Deerhoof, Fat Worm of Error, Metalux, King Cobra, Quintron & Miss Pussycat. It made me happy to go to those shows and see them represent for all the music weirdos in the Twin Cities and elsewhere in Minnesota. Their touring out east to play No Fun Fest '05 was one of the reasons I went to the festival, and their under-the-radar local shows brought me many times to the dearly departed illegal venue known as the Church. They played one of their best shows there, on Halloween even. By this point the singer's outfit had evolved into this bizarre bodybuilder, muscles bulging out in all the wrong places. The extra percussion player added this additional frenzied clatter, and the programmed beat stuff was jacked up in the mix. Someone in an ant costume with a huge green head and a pair of crab pincers was dancing in front, and the singer walked over and began to commune/dance/hump it. Since everyone else was dressed up and there were no technical hang-ups (a constant bane for the band as it is for every other one) it was the perfect night to see them.

            When it got out that the band was about to end in the summer of ‘05, it seemed like more and more people had found out them and were starting to come out to their shows. It made for a bittersweet conclusion to what had been an intensely personal affair of mine with the band’s music and whole MO. I’d gone to just about every show I could of theirs, and it felt validating that more and more people were finding out about how awesome Quad Muth were, that the sheer experience of a performance, like the ones you can see on something like the Lightning Bolt DVD, could happen in our own backyard, perpetrated by one of us.


            Lucas the singer moved away to the Bay Area, James went on to play in Peace Creeps and then moved to Philly, and Markus continues to live in Minneapolis and play in the even more solidly danceable Skoal Kodiak

Wheels Of Love :: Tyvek's Kevin Boyer Drives Slow And Steady

Feeling excited about their debut LP and upcoming Montreal date (tomorrow night!It's gonna be MADNESSSSS!) I had a lil' chat with my bud Kevin Boyer , Tyvek frontman and all around sweetheart.


Chloe: Hi Kevin how are you today?

Kevin : Today I feel sick, but a lot better than yesterday. I don't think it's swine flu, but all of the symptoms are present and it's starting to worry me. Couggh, haaakckckk, blaaaeegh. I'm just going to keep gargling.

In Paris , April 09.

Chloe: You guys recently went to Europe for the first time, how did that go?

Kevin : Europe was extremely fun. There were no major disasters. The beer was ten times better. I got drunk a lot more touring over there. It felt like a vacation, and I rarely felt hung over the next day (Europe has higher purity standards for beer and alcohol!). In general, people were hospitable, very friendly, we always got fed and had a place to stay. The hospitality seemed to be an almost required thing for them, like they had an obligation to take care of us. Which is fine, I'm not complaining.... you don't really feel that vibe in the states. Here no one cares if you've had dinner before you play. You're lucky to get a drink ticket in most American bars. And of course in some places we did meet people who were extremely kind and were just excited about the music and feeling that kind of universal kinship that comes from sharing the insanity of music. 

Being in a different country almost every night was nuts.... not knowing how the audiences would react or if people would show up at all. One way Europe is so different is that you drive like 100 km down the road, and you're in a different nation and suddenly the way the people interact with you and how they take part in the concert are just completely different from the night before. It always varied, and people often times seemed at odds with their neighbors. History weighs down on people there, much more so than here, like, "oh you guys played in Slovenia last night? that must've sucked! not so good, right?" No, it was a blast actually, but whatever... It's easy for me to forget that it wasn't too long ago that all of these countries were throwing bombs at each other. Maybe that's why people in North America seem a lot more laid back. People forget the past here. We just move and forget.

Playing every night with our french friends Cheveu was a treat. Playing with a familiar band every night lent some added perspective to the whole thing, watching how audiences in other countries reacted to them was great. Nothing made sense to me. Playing in places like Zagreb, Croatia or Benesov, Czech Republic was awesome. When we started Tyvek, the goal was to try to maybe learn ten songs well enough so that we all started and finished playing at the same time, and here we were in these extremely foreign places. It just didn't make sense, and I really felt free.
Another thing that added to the strangeness was that we were touring with a different line up, Matt and myself with our friend Ted enlisted to play keyboard. The other 3 Tyvek members all had to bail on the tour in the month/week before we left, so inviting Ted along was our last attempt to salvage the whole thing. Luckily, he could do it and was down to venture to another continent to play a prominent musical role in a band he'd only jammed with on two prior occasions, and hey he didn't fuck up too bad. The first night in middle of nowhere Switzerland was a hilarious debacle, and we all had our doubts, but we started to find some good jams and after a couple more shows the songs took on a new life with no bass, one guitar, drums, casio and vocals. I never imagined the songs being played like that, but the challenge certainly kept things interesting and definitely kept me on my toes.

In , April 09.

Chloe :  How did yous end up hooking up with Cheveu??

Kevin: We met Cheveu when we played together at a bar in Hamtramck Michigan called "The Locker Room." It was my first and only time at this bar... that was fall 2006. We played a couple of other shows with them (Green Gay, Wisconsin and then a show again in Detroit). We were fans of their music and so we made plans to tour the west coast together... that was may 2007. We had a great time... it's great to play with a band that you really like to listen to and watch almost every night, and personally we all got along splendidly. It's nice to tour with people you can just chillax with and get out the boom box and enjoy some Bar B Q and tunes. 

Chloe : Yes! I only like playing with bands you can chillax with! It’s what it’s all about!I wanna ask you about line-up. When I saw you guys in Austin it was as 3 piece , with Shelley on bass. But Heath told me he played some shows on the west coast a bit before that.So, who is in Tyvek right now? What line-up can we expect for your upcoming shows?

In Pittsburgh , January 07.

Kevin : Right now Tyvek is Matt, Shelley and me. Larry, Heath, and Damon are still a part of Tyvek in different way. It's been a transition. Larry's job is more serious and he can't get the time off to tour as much as we'd like. He's a great bass player and the coolest guy I know, and he has been very supportive. Larry and I have been friends since I was age 13, and he lives right down the road from me. Damon and Heath live in other states, and that makes things difficult for obvious reasons. The five us were rarely able to just play together in a casual laid back way. Heath and Damon are great musicians and friends, and I often miss what they added to the songs. Now, the band is back in a forming, embryonic state, and as new things emerge and become more defined I'm sure we will start adding more players to the mix here and there, which is what we've always done. Still, Tyvek sounds like Tyvek whether it's 8 people or 3 people.

Chloe : What's your songwriting process?

Kevin : The process is always different for each song, never the same way twice for me... sometimes I have something definite in mind musically or lyrically, like certain chord changes or words. Sometimes both. Sometimes we will just repeat a chord or a rhythm or a word or two and try changing them gradually, listening back to recordings, keeping what sounded cool, forgetting about the parts that didn't work. I find volume and rhythm to be the most inspiring things... everything comes after that, hearing loud drums and just playing guitar loud. Repeating the same things over and over along with the music, going through the day's events in my head, phrases, things that people said coming back to me. repeating them. Sometimes I'll be walking around and tunes and words will just start to play in my head. I think, "cool!" then I get home and try to play guitar along with the tune. Sometimes it sounds great, sometimes I forget about it the next day. I just try to keep an open mind and I think that songs can come from anywhere. Sometimes a song is written in a half hour sometimes it's years before an idea gets fully realized. One thing is for sure, I feel like I can't not do it and that I'll always be making music one way or another.

Chloe : One of the first things that drew me to your band was the fact that the lyrics are about pretty everyday , mundane stuff.You sing about cars, appliances , the urban landscape – Is your subject matter influenced by living in Detroit?

Kevin : The subject matter is definitely influenced by Detroit, but then I don't know if there's much stuff in the lyrics that couldn't be found anywhere in any city or in any case in someone's dream of being in a city. We get lots of precipitation here as I bet you do in Montreal as well. Winter is long: freezing cold, damp, tons of snow, constant cloud cover. In fall the trees are very colorful, lots of sun and crisp air, rain. Spring is damp and cold but light gets longer and warm air eventually pushes in. Summer is insane hot and extremely humid and long with lots of thunder storms, etc.. Our sound is influenced by Detroit.... Detroit's always playing on my imagination/nerves and it allows us to expand in whatever way we can into a space that's already charged with its own volatile atmospheric disturbances, independent, harassed, blamed, Detroit is the most dead on vision of the future I don't know what it is, it's certainly a headache, but it feels like nowhere anyone should live. Ha ha. But it's honest. Everyone knows they'd be better off somewhere else. Right now the national media keeps saying, "oh the government is bailing out Detroit..." What bailout? Detroit hasn't gotten any help from anybody for as long as I can remember, and helping out the failing car industry is a much different thing than helping out the city. Detroit's been bailing out America for the last 100 years, and this is our thanks, we get to be the canary in the coal mine. Detroit has always been at the forefront of any social/cultural advances in America and this is how we'll be punished, they're just going to try to hold us under water until we drown.


Chloe : How do you drive?

Kevin : I drive very carefully and slowly. I used to be a fast driver and when I was a teenager I was into drag racing and stuff, but now it's slow and steady. The world is a dangerous place and human beings are fragile: wheels of love! 


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S/T out now on Siltbreeze

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Death Sentence : PANDA! Wreak Havoc Amongst The Townsfolk

DS:P! in Kyoto

A few months ago I got into a discussion with a young music nerd who claimed to only listen to 21st century music. I smiled and nodded and kinda pulled away slowly , unsure if he meant music that was created in the 21st century or , more radically , music that did way with the tropes of the 20th.

Death Sentence: PANDA! would probably please him in either regard as they formed in 2004 and make multi-textured avant-pop with very un-rockist instrumentation (look mom , no guitars!), and some rather unorthodox influences creeping in and out of the mixture. Their music is lovely , weird, playful and haunted. Sometimes just a bit violent.

These guys are one of my personal favorites in the current bumper crop of awesome bands and were good sports with my barrage of inane questions.

Death Sentence : PANDA! are::::
Chris Dixon - Drums / Percussion
Kim West - Flute / Vocals
Paul Costuros - Clarinet

Chloe: You guys have pretty unusual instrumentation , did you go into this with a specific intent?

Chris: Prior and concurrent to the formation of Death Sentence: PANDA!, Paul has
led an improv/ "mock" free jazz group called Murder Murder with whom Chris has played with many, many times. (Mrdr Mrdr is a revolving cast sort of operation involving multiple drummers, horns, electronics). DS:P! kind of came out of that group with the idea of writing actual songs but using that kind of instrumentation. I think Paul started using the clarinet because that the only functionally playable instrument he had at the time. Kim was still in Crack: We Are Rock and had played flute on couple of recordings by them. To us it just made sense: flute, clarinet, drums and Kim's vocals.

In Kobe

Chloe: How much , if any improv makes it on a DS:P! album or live performance?

Chris: Not much, perhaps none. Every note is deliberate. Each nuance is analyzed for efficiency and impact.

Kim: We tend to record early in the process so a lot of improv does happen
as far as my lyrics and nuances within the song. Structurally it is pretty set.

Paul: It's pretty much all improv.

Chloe:Is genre pastiche something you are  actively engaging in?

Chris: Are you asking if we are purposefully weaving a tapestry of varied influences? A quilt of sound based on ideals passed on from times and lands far and near?
No, we are not.

Kim : I guess I wasn't purposefully thinking of creating a hodge-podge of different
sounds, but just something different sounding as far as how the instrument are
being used. I didn't want flute to sound too "flute-y". I don't think Paul wants his
clarinet to sound too "klezmer-y". etc.

Paul: Not intentional or premeditated at all. I think it's hard not too sound like we are mixing genres and style because of our instrumentation and all of our varied influences which really does run pretty wide. We are pretty much all record nerds, dj's and collectors in some way shape or form.

Chloe: So , who has the biggest record collection in the band?

Kim: Chris and Paul will have to duke it out for that title.

Chris : I think it's Paul. I've lost count of how many records I have....

Paul: Last time i was over Chris you had 13 LPs and 6 45's and this weekend i brought my collection up to 15 LPs (with the recent addition of Rappin Rodney ) and, count them, 9 45's!!!

Chris : Ha!I went to the record store and now have 25 LP's, six of which are dance music 12"s,8 45's and 276 cassettes!!!!!!!!

Chloe: The Bay Area has a long standing tradition of  art and  music that is often playful and quirky.  Is your geography an influence   , stylistically or spiritually??
Do you feel it is a nurturing environment for more leftfield artists?

Chris: While the Bay Area, and San Francisco in particular, is a wonderful place to live, this concrete jungle with it's breath-taking views offers nigh a breast to suckle upon, delivering the sweet nectar of creativity. NO! It is a town of drunkards, of namby-pambies and of degenerates with one thing on their minds. Bawdiness and carousing. Entertainment is number one and those on the inside are cast outside. Therefore, so called left-field artists are not nurtured by the city but, in fact, activated into rebellion by the city. The true "quirkiness" of this area's music scene, or perhaps any location's music scene is a result of seeing what's out there, being completely dissatisfied with it and reacting totally against it.
The idea that you do not go to your audience but your audience comes to you is a cold hard truth. For real entertainment value, however, there most likely a Troggs or
David Bowie cover band playing on any given night.

Kim: Wow, I think Chris really took that one by the balls. I love this place, its home.
But like any place, it has its peaks and valleys. There has always been a great community of musicians and artists here and I emphasize community because although San Francisco seems like a big city sometimes its a real small place. There's an intimacy here that you may not get in NYC or LA and it very well may be geographic!

Paul: Living here certainly raises the bar and the wealth of so many advanced creative and talented musicians artists and performers really does keep one on their toes.  So much has already been seen heard and done before that I truly do get bored of regular rock bands or a run of the mill noise band that aren't bringing anything new to the table.  It certainly is challenging which I love and is one of the top reasons why I live here.

In Austin

Chloe: Would DS:P! ever take to the streets  and  have a parade?

Chris: I don't think we would ever take the time to organize and coordinate such an endeavor. But if we were invited, we would definitely say yes. I, personally, am not so into huge crowds but I do enjoy parades. Who else is playing?

Kim: That's funny you ask that because I was kind of daydreaming with a friend who does video and film work and she wanted to do a video for us involving a parade. The parade would take place in Chinatown, SF and it would be all children dressed up in different fruit and dessert costumes. We still might do it.
Paul: I like balloons.

Chloe : You can have anyone you like play the parade , you just have to show up , ride your float and play.

Chris : Burmese should play at this parade, they really bring people together. What time do we have to be there? Is the
parade on a Sunday?

Kim: Hmmm. Burmese would probably scare the children but they get my vote too. I also like Bronze and Work (ex 16 16 Bitch Pile Up's Sarah Bernat's project).
Paul: I like balloons.

Chloe : Sunday's kinda short notice for me.. Burmese are scary! Awesome but very scary. My band played with them once and I couldn’t even make eye contact because their set felt like being shot in the face over and over (a good thing!). Would this be a bad vibes parade?

Chris: No bad vibes whatsoever. Burmese is honestly one of the most uplifting bands
I've ever seen. DS:P! toured with them and they melted our faces off. They have
from time to time scared the crap out of me too.

Chloe :I don't see bad vibes and uplifting as mutually exclusive !

Kim: No bad vibes. But I like being scared from time to time.

Paul: Vibes, starring Cyndi Lauper .

Chloe : What kind of float would you see yourselves performing on?

Chris : Float should actually float, held a loft by constant propulsion from airjets on the underside of the frame. The stage should made from bamboo, not because of the association with the name but because it is very durable and hard, yet cheap and easy to work with. It also resonates quite nicely. The float should be adorned with orchids and exotic birds who will not be tethered yet not fly away as they understand that their presence is necessary. OR, a big white cake that says "Eat Me" on it. Then we come crashing through in a modified 62 Lincoln Continental and wreak havoc amongst the townsfolk.

Kim: A Cupcake or Popsicle or a Strawberry. Something along those lines. It would be nice if you can eat parts of the float.

Paul: Probably a giant paper mâché head of Eric Landmark .

In Paris

Chloe: What do your parents think about your band(s)?

Chris: My mom says that I should stick with playing guitar and what a great guitar player I am and she remembers when I was in 8th grade and my first band played "Message in a Bottle" for the talent show and how that was really good.

My dad says "so wait, is this punk? What is this? It's definitely weird..that's what you wanted to do right?"

Kim: My dad likes it. He actually sang a song once with us. I think it was "Animals Hate You". He's glad I'm still using the flute he bought for me years ago. He actually came on our Euro tour with us for a few days where we introduced him to Men's Recovery Project . Now he's a fan. He drove some of us crazy after a while. He has a lot of energy. My mom thinks that Chris is too loud when I'm singing and we need more "peaks and valleys" which is a huge step from not liking any of my other musical projects.
Paul: Both my parents are incredibly supportive and I think my Mom has seen us.   This band is perhaps the most easy to listen to compared to some of my previous bands that she has seen.  "As long as your having fun" is a common quote from her.

Chloe: What do you enjoy least, large crowds or tiny crowds?

Chris: If it's a show, tiny crowds. If it's the grocery store it would be large crowds. It depends on the overall mood.
Remember, it's not the size of the boat, it's the motion of the ocean.

Kim: I agree with Chris. One of my favorite shows was in Chicago and there were only a handful of folks there. But people were so down. Jail was there from Coughs and I ended up handing her my sax. She ran around the room playing it with us. There is a certain spontaneaity that happens when you play to smaller groups of people.
Paul : Yeah depends.  For show I like small/medium room with a big rowdy crowd.  For a dance party I like big crowds and small crowds.  Grocery store or record store, unexistent crowd.  

Chloe: I'm interested in your crowded grocery store comment , 'cause I get very upset in crowded supermarkets myself and they often makes me really sweaty and nervous, I'm wondering if your supermarket issues are similar to mine.

Chris: Supermarkets can be problematic as they offer 2 sides of the same coin. Everyone is there for the same general reason, everyone is in an accelerated state of mind: Mob Mentality. 2, everyone is in it for themselves; what they want and they want it now. This leads to an almost mercenary mentality. So while you have people moving in a generally similar direction towards a common goal, you also have a very individualistic, "out of my way motherfucker, I'm shopping" approach. Observing this, not only does it appear as utter chaos but also impractical.

 Kim: I try to avoid shopping at supermarkets at peak time. I mostly enjoy open air markets and luckily SF has three of them within the city. You don't get the same kind of mob mentality. People are taking their time a little more. Also , depending on what kind of farmer's market, there is more variety of shoppers (race and class).

Chloe: Do you get panic attacks in supermarkets?

Chris: No panic attacks but I must avoid the detergent isle. It stinks.

Kim: No panic attacks but I do get angry sometimes especially when someone's being selfish. Most of time these people don't realize it. If I try to keep that in mind, it will prevent me from getting too pissed off.

Chloe: Do you suffer from social anxiety?

Chris: No, yes, no.

Kim: No only real anxiety I feel while in public is the fear of some parking lots. Its true. I get claustrophobic in parking lots.
Paul: I don't have many fears, one is driving on freeways, two is balloons.

Chloe: I've read interviews with you guys where you explain your name as  someone being sentenced to death  by  panda. Now , I've seen Planet Earth  and the narrator tells me that pandas are totally lethargic animals that are so weak from their bamboo diet , they can  barely  move. So how would these lazy beasts kill?

Chris: They roll over on your ass and squash the shit out you.

Chloe: Are you interested in violence as an aesthetic? As a prank?

Chris: Pranks are funny. Violence in a non-malicious way can be a mere amusement or a complete uplifting experience. The act of destroying something man made can be hilarious; violence as a method of control is bullshit.

In Prague

Chloe: Why do you hate Canada?

Chris: We hate Canada? Who told you that?

Chloe : I figured you might hate Canada  because y’all never seem to come here.. Maybe  it’s personal and you just hate me? Are you guys ever gonna play Montreal?

Chris: We don't "hate" anywhere or anyone...We haven't toured North America that much. It's hard work and we are babies who need to be led around by hand.
We ever got anywhere near Montreal, we would totally play there. 

Kim: No way! I love Canada. I grew up on the border. Detroit/Windsor. I was buddies with Ritchie Hawtin ! I grew up watching DeGrassi High! I've been to Quebec City - in the winter and survived!!! I used to party in Toronto! I used to party in London, Ontario! (Don't even ask me why) What do I need to do to prove that I'm a fan?
Paul: I can't fathom why this assumption was made.  Canada is responsible for about 1/3rd of all the happiness in my life by producing some of the funniest motherfuckers on the planet!  Strange Brew was one of the first VHS tapes we rented in 1984.  Back when video stores had like 46 videos to choose from.

Kim: It's true. We haven't really done a US tour let alone a full North American tour. But we are thinking this fall might be a good time and we WILL make it to Montreal.

Paul: Confetti is pretty good, but I do prefer balloons. I like them.

 Chloe: If you do make it here I’ll make you a white “eat me” cake, I make pretty god food . Will you be bribed by the promises of cake from someone you don’t even know?

Chris : Food is a very important factor in travel plans. We can be bribed by food for certain but in general, our tastes lay more on the side of savory than sweet.
Although, who can resist a delicious cookie now and again?

 Kim: That's one great thing about touring in Europe and Japan and one bad thing about touring the US. Unless we get a home cooked meal or lucky with some great BBQ place in the south, most food in the US (while traveling) is not that great. And we ARE food lovers. Pickling is my passion actually. I love anything pickled. Saurkraut, Kim Chee, Dill pickles. . . I always wanted to open up a shop called "Tickle my Pickle" and have pickles from all around the world.
Paul: Kim is really good at pickles.

Chloe: When you come to Montreal I swear to tickle your pickle.I make it all , kimchi , krauts of all kinds , sour dills I even make my own tempeth and stuff.

I actually just had salad that had sour turnips AND kale from my crock. And fall is the best time for pickle making (even though I throw caution to the wind and do it all year).

So screw the cake, we’ll do sour/salt , put it on fresh basked sourdough rolls and wash it down with homebrew kombucha.

What kind of pickles do you make ?

Do you have a prefrance over vinegar or fermented?

Kim- Wow, you're probably a lot better than me at pickling. My favorite to pickle is those Lebanese pickled turnips that come out real pink cause you have to put like one beet per 3 or 4 turnips. I LOVE those.I tried doing saurkraut- but it came out awful. I'm still learning.My kim chee is pretty good. I like putting scallions in there.

I don't have a preference i like both vinegar and fermented.

My grandma on my Taiwanese side pickles a lot - mostly black bean paste. ITs like the
Chinese version of Miso paste but a bit stronger. I'd like to think that's where I inherited the love for all things pickled. Oh have you had pickled mustard greens? So Good!

I would take pickles over cake any day!

Chloe: If you each had a super power and would it be and why would you use it for?

Chris: Mind control. I would make people take off their clothes in public for no good reason. Kind of a "level the playing field" tactic.

Kim: I would like to fly. Kind of predictable but its true. I would be even happier if I could be strong enough to carry some of my friends too while I flew. But if not then I could make a little basket to bring a little doggie friend with me.
Paul: Probably a robot that could shoot hot oil out of his orifices into peoples faces and onto other stuff I disapprove of like the city of Atlantis.

Chloe: Do you have a song stuck in your head right now ?

Chris: A song by The Dreams , I don't know the title. Earlier, while I was doing the dishes, I had Rape is War by Burmese in my head.

Kim: I had a Malaria! song stuck in my head I'm not sure what the title is and earlier I had the Sensational song stuck in my head called Freak Styler .

Paul: just a series of buzzes and mechanical failure sounds usually.  Which may explain some things.

Chloe: What are your day jobs?
Chris: Systems analyst
Paul: Political analyst
Kim: Eye doctor


Puppy, Kitty or Both              2004
Tour 2004                             2004
Festival of Ghosts                 2005
Festival of Demons               2006
Dynamique Festival du Bete  2007

Puppy, Kitty or Both 10"        2005 Upset The Rhythm
split 7" w/ Silver Daggers       2005 Not Not Fun
Festival of Ghosts/               2007 Upset the Rhythm
R`out 4,002 12"
Split 7"                                  2008 Rock Is Hell
Insects Awaken LP                2009 Upset the Rhythm
Insects Awaken split 10"        2008 Bibimbap
w/ The Dreams

Texas Pt 1 & 2                      2005 Folding Cassettes

Insects Awaken                     2009 Upset the Rhythm
End Times comp                    2006 End Times
Rough Trade Shops               2006 V2
Counter Culture v. 5---
Jerk Off Records comp          2006 Jerk Off records (japan)
Insects Awaken                     2008 Central Plaza (Japan)
Age of Reason and                2008 Central Plaza (Japan)
Obliteration (early tracks comp)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Uphill Gardeners

In the mid 90's, when I started going to underground shows around LA, Uphill Gardeners was one of my favorites. The ultimate no-wave band, almost to the point of absurdity. The compositions sometimes seemed so counter-intuitive that (as question 2 below shows) I believed someone when they told me Uphill Gardeners were trying to mock the listener. Nevertheless, I still loved it and since everything was still so well put together it was still impressive and messmerizing.

Now, about a decade later, olFactory (the label run by The Smell) is putting out an album of all of Uphill Gardeners unreleased material. Don't miss out when this happens! Links below!

1. It has been about a decade since Uphill Gardeners was a band. What was your reaction going back and hearing these recordings now?

The absolute number one thing about hearing those songs again or for the first time ever(!) in some cases, was just how amazing an engineer Tom Grimley was. It sounds exactly like it did in the room when we were recording the songs. I wish he was still recording bands. Also, we were really fortunate to have Nigel as our drummer\keyboardist. His playing was so fucking good. I really enjoyed revisting those songs. I don't know how we even did some of things we did, especially Jarrett's parts, He could get so many different types of sounds from his guitars or synth. I could have used the Boss PS-3 a little less, i think.

2. I was once told that Uphill Gardeners was a total put-on. Fake-no-wave. Any truth to this?

Not true at all. A love of No Wave was probably the thing that Jarrett and i most connected on. In the 90's, those records were really hard to come by and each time he, Jim Smith, or i would get a new one, it was a big deal and we would trade tapes of that stuff. We were all also really into Aphex Twin, Wu Tang, and Krautrock. But no, not a put on at all. We were all very serious about our arrangements and music but without being academic serious chin stroker dudes about it.

3. What was playing in LA in the mid 90s like compared to now?

It's actually really similar to present day LA, their are a lot of cool all ages venues happening now like there were back then and also lots of really great, diverse bands doing shows together.

4. What other mid 90s LA acts do you think deserve renewed recognition?

Solid Eye, Slug, Polar Goldie Cats (before i was in the band, that's how Jarret and i met btw- at a Polar Goldie Cats show), Nels Cline Trio, Crib, and early Los Cincos.

5. What is everyone from Uphill Gardeners up to now? Please share any relevant links as well!

Jarrett went on to form Young People, Sound of the Soil, Skull Skull, and play in Liars. I think now he is concentrating on his solo compositions.

Nigel joined Godzik Pink after we broke up, and now does electronic music under the name Dougnut.

After we split, i joined Polar Goldie Cats and also the For Carnation. i play solo and with a bunch of other folks as well and record\produce bands.

Jarrett Silberman:



Nigel Lundemo:


Bobb Bruno:



UPHILL GARDENERS: http://www.myspace.com/theuphillgardeners

olFactory: http://www.thesmell.org/olfactory/

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Where There's Smoke There's Phycus

Ain't never too late to bring a slightly outmoded 20th century concept into the 21st. So with great aplomb Damage has gifted us with a Phycus Myspace page. Only the nascent days of Canadian college radio and the tentacles of 80's mail art/cassette culture could have brought industrial music to Sidney, Nova Scotia, although you'd be hard pressed to find a place more reminiscent of Hull or Sheffield. In fact, from videos I've seen, you straight walk out the front door of Damage's childhood home you're more or less immediately ankle deep in the Sydney Tar Ponds and your chances of getting cancer skyrocket to a cool 3-1. A childhood listening to Nash the Slash helped as well, 'natch. So it all makes perfect sense that Phycus was birthed here. If you aren't chasing after deeply lost cassettes with names like Bring Me The Brain of Kurt Cobain ect, you may likely find a copy of X, a 3xlp retrospective that teems at the edges, some clunk 90's industrial in there you might chose to avoid (I don't), but mostly a killer range of qual ZGA-like Eastern Euro style noise, Laibach inspired symph-industrial and some lo-fi techno-pop with totally killer arrangements mostly by Damage himself, brewed in whatever bunker living sitch he found himself in; be it Sydney, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa or Montreal again, throughout the years '88-'99. List of contributors on this shit goes on forevs and the crew is mot: a to-remain-unnamed Thee Outernet contributing editor, a Governor Generals Art Award winner, a convict, a surrealist librarian, the big guy Corpusse Himself, a canadian noise legend, Anton Levay's daughter and so on...Total Zero might still have copies of X booting around. The mypsace page has some vids, one edited by Ontario art brat Jubal Brown, a bunch of killer jams (check out Destroy the Earth, a personal fav) and best of all vid of a live outdoor date from a Warehouse/abandoned industrial site gig in Toronto circa nine nine. Bonus from Damage, some words of wisdom to old koots hoping to revive since buried projects: Their will be no reunion tour, there is no new material.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Naomi Elizabeth interview

Youtube Clip (An Interview by Wolf75)

Jeff Schneider - I’m not really the brightest bulb in the chandelier, so it took me a while to understand what you are doing, and I am still not sure I really do. I can say that my gut reaction was something like when I first read Henry Miller, sexual, surreal, a persona is developed, free-spirited and dirty but at the same time very intelligent. What made you do it?

Naomi Elizabeth - I am motivated by boredom and frustration a lot of the time. My attention span is short, I feel like I've had time in life to process all the music I ever liked, enjoy it, and get bored of it. I'm trying to move on to anything that interests me in a new way. Which at this time happens to be smut (among other things).

J. S. - What is your stance on censorship? Do you think people should prevent lewd acts, like GRUNT for example (XXX rated misogynist noise artist), for the sake of the common good?

N. E. - My opinions about censorship don't exist, I'm not the boss of this civilization, I'm just an observer. I think it's hilarious though, that society is trying to run the media with certain standards, for example so little kids don't grow up to be monsters, but they are doing a pretty terrible job of it. It makes me laugh how much raunchy stuff is on tv. People swearing, naked ladies, etc.

J. S. - What do you think about the current music scene? American Idol to Mika Miko?

N. E. - I think it's all pretty boring!

J. S. - Naomi Elizabeth music sound is pretty straight forward. Have you had any desire to make more insane sounds or do you prefer smooth stuff?

N. E. - Insanity is a matter of perspective. I've listened to a lot of music that's too "weird" for 95%-99% of people, and to me it sounds normal. I can listen to a 20 minute song that sounds like a vague recording of a washing machine - without thinking, where is the rhythm, where is the melody? Also I think, upon close inspection, that the music on FM radio is sometimes way more fucked up and crazy than any bands, or noise projects, or sound experiments.

(photo by Elsbeth Villa)

J. S. - Has engaging this project changed you at all as a person?

N. E. - No, probably not.

J. S. - It seems like so many more young women are willing to show a little body these days. So there are “Cabarets” and some girls do “modeling” and not porn (see Isobel Wren), then there are some (like Sasha Grey) are totally doing the vilest extreme porn. Part of Sasha’s argument is that she is opposed to the (what she sees as) Puritanical paradigm most other women are still in when it comes to sex. I am not saying you are like this at all but what is up with that whole aspect of your project? The nudity and using sexuality?

N. E. - Honestly, it's a response to being desensitized to other, more subtle forms of human expression. I am not making a feminist statement.

J. S. - How would you like people to receive a Naomi Elizabeth show? Dancing?Observing? Moshing?

N. E. - Dancing is good, and I like it when people can hear the lyrics and sing along. That happens sometimes. I like awkward uptight audiences who just stand there too. That's fine.

Youtube Clip (Live at Echo Curio)

J. S. - What kind of stuff are you currently listening to?

N. E. - I'm really, really sick of music right now. I do listen to a little bit of stuff, but the topic kind of makes me sick!

J. S. - Last, do you think Music influences people’s behavior? Is there a piece of what your doing that is requesting that things change and can it be changed in such a way?

N. E. - Yes, I think the contents of your mind are largely determined by what music goes in there. I am not the boss of other people, but if anyone is benefited or changed by my ideas that's cool.