I wrote a longer post about this on Boing Boing but I’m excited to show off the sekrit project I’ve been working on for the past month or so. I designed the new Die Antwoord album which will be released next month. Super fun project with super creative and inspiring people. Woot!
Last week my old friend Scott Beibin IM’d me asking my thoughts on Sissy Bounce. My reply was pretty immediate:
“What the hell is Sissy Bounce?”
After he got over the shock of realizing he knew about something before I did he went on to tell me one of the most interesting stories about an actual underground music scene. I say actual because I’ve known Scott for close to 20 years since we met through the early 90’s hardcore and straight edge scenes across the US. We both booked bands, ran labels, and generally tried to foster the scene. At that point underground meant something. It was actual sub-mainstream. Today it’s largely a marketing term and the notion of having to hunt to dig up information about a band or a style of music is completely gone. Information that used to require hours of driving and good words put in by the right people to get ahold of can now be googled in seconds. That’s not good or bad, it just is. So when Scott started telling me about a completely unknown sub-fork of the already crazily obscure New Orleans Bounce scene I dropped everything I was doing and started hitting him up for info. (more…)
This morning Xeni and I had breakfast with Ninja from Die Antwoord and talked about what a crazy month it’s been for them since being catapulted from relative obscurity to international super stardom basically because of one blog post. I took some photos and will be posting more soon too.
I mentioned this last night, but as a performance device I hate the encore. I completely and totally hate it. Is there anything more contrived and conceited that pretending the show is over, walking off stage and standing behind the curtains while you wait for the audience to cheer enough that your ego is sufficiently stroked so you go back out and play a few more songs?
Let me just say that some of my favorite bands in the world do encores and most of the shows I’ve been to in the last 10 years have been capped with encores so that isn’t a comment on any particular band but rather the whole stupid concept. Oh sure at one point in time they might have made sense – there was actually a time when an encore was not so common. Bands and performers would make a set list and perform it and then the show would be over. On the *rare* occurance that the performance was so overwhelming and the audience was so moved they would cheer so much that the band would have no choice but to come back out and pull out something extra but now it’s expected. Bands include the encore on their set lists and audiences just play right into it.
I know I’m in the minority on this one but for crying out loud what is the fucking point of all this? If you are a band and you want to play a show which includes 12 songs, play those songs and then go home happy that people liked your stuff enough to pay to see it and stay through all the songs you played. Don’t tease the audience and dangle extra songs only if they applaud enough. It’s a superlame rockstar move that sadly is completely commonplace now. Puke.
Don’t get me started on standing ovations either.
If a few random sources are to be believed then it’s official Thorns of Life’s debut album Legislators and Prophets will be released on June 30th by Desoto Records. Desoto of course is run by J Robbins from Jawbox who recorded the Thorns album, and even more rumors have him actually playing base in the band now. There is no confirmation about any of this on the Desoto Records site, the bands MySpace or Twitter so who knows. The album songlist that has been circulating is as follows:
1. The Black Arts
3. My First Time
4. Ribbon Head
6. Anti-Song for Barthelme
7. Not a Track Bike
8. Mont Blanc
9. I Hate New York
10. Oh Deathly Death
12. Vivid Green
13. Building Al Qaeda in Washington
14. Tuning Out
If you haven’t grabbed the live set from Gilman yet then you are on crack because it rules. One thing that that is blowing my mind right now is that “Gemini” is listed on this track list, which Jawbreaker fans will recall was one of the super bad ass Dear You era songs that existed only in live recording format. I’ve been dying for a recorded version of it for years and if Thorns is doing that, whoah….
One of my favorite people, Mike Watt, just sent that photo of he and D Boon out as a reminder of his birthday. I’m putting on Double Nickles on the Dime right now. You should too.
I met Glen E Friedman in ’97 while working on ‘The Omega Sessions‘ record. The fact that I was designing a Bad Brains record was pretty much a dream come true all by itself, but I knew the only option for a cover photo was something that Glen shot. His book Fuck You Heroes had come out a few years earlier and I’d been blown away to learn that all these photos that had inspired me so much growing up were all taken by the same person.
I talked Victory into it, and set out to find a contact for him the best way I could think of – I called Dischord. I expected them to take a message and maybe pass it on, instead they gave me his home phone number. I called and left a very timid message. Days later, at around 4 in the morning Glen called me back and I answered. “What are you doing awake at this time of day?” He asked. “Working” which is a pretty accurate reply anytime I’m asked that question. “Really? Well I was calling to tell you I wasn’t interested in working with that label because I asked around and people didn’t have good things to say, but if you are awake and working at this time of day I must have gotten bad info -let’s talk” And we did, repeatedly. Almost 12 years later I’ve worked with him countless times since then (including the opening exhibitions of both the Chicago and Los Angeles versions of sixspace) and I’m very proud and happy to call him one of my closest friends. Some people don’t like Glen because they say he’s too honest, this is one of my favorite things about him. I always know exactly where I stand and know that no matter what I ask him the answer will be exactly what he’s thinking. It’s a rare quality, but something I admire and aspire to.
I met Shepard Fairey around the same time – I fancied myself a hotshot designer with my fingers on the pulse of the cool art world and so naturally I had a subscription to Juxtapoz. While flipping through those early issues I found ads that Shepard was running for prints he was screening and selling. $15 for a print in a run of 100 seemed kind of expensive to me, but I always thought the Andre The Giant Has A Posse thing was amusing and as the Creative Director at Victory I was pulling in a cool $22K a year so I could afford to splurge on a few things I thought were worth supporting. I ordered a few prints every other month or so and would include a note and eventually Shepard and I started writing back and forth without the pretext of an order. When sixspace opened, Shepard mentioned he’d never been to Chicago which seemed like the perfect excuse to invite him out for an exhibition.
Shepard’s show “The Medium Is The Message” opened on the heals of Glen’s and we spent a lot of time talking about how, both of us being skaters who liked punk AND hip hop, Glen’s work was like the perfect storm of awesome. The week before his show opened he came to Chicago and slept on my couch and was attacked by my cat. We spent the nights driving around in borrowed cars listening to NWA and Bad Brains while putting up posters and flyers for the show. Many years later when I was laid off from Playboy.com he hired me at BLK/MRKT to do the web end of several campaigns and helped me get back on my feet here in LA. Like Glen, over the years Shepard has become one of my dear friends and someone I know I can always turn to for anything. Also like Glen, Shepard has his critics but having known him for all this time and seen him work I can say without any hesitation that he’s the most driven and hard working artist I’ve ever met in my life. And I think I know a lot of driven and hardworking artists. The guy has a work ethic unmatched by anyone I’ve ever met, and like Glen I’m inspired by what he does and try to pull little lessons from his approach into my own life all time.
Hopefully I don’t even need to explain how important Bad Brains are, if you are reading this you should be well aware already. Of course both Glen and Shepard know this and that’s why this collaboration between those two is about as close to perfect as it gets for me. Shepard and Glen worked together and picked out several of Glen’s photos that Shepard then based illustrations on creating the Bad Brains image to end all Bad Brains images. And then, through some kind of miracle or witchcraft got the entire original band to sign each and every one of them. Having worked with the band back on that record, I can’t even begin to describe to you how big of a feat that must have been. I actually can’t imagine a single piece of art hitting more magic spots for me than this – friends who I have unlimited respect for and a band that would easily be my trapped on a desert island soundtrack. I’m so happy to see this materialize.
The print goes on sale this Thursday, March 26th – if you want one I highly suggest grabbing it as soon as it’s released. It might be your only chance, and it will definitely be worth it. And always keep the PMA.
“Music’s only work to them. It’s not to me. So I say hats off to bands that change. Good luck, go your own way. Why play for us if your heart’s not in it? Cause what might seem dumb to you is pounding in my heart.”
– New Direction, Gorilla Biscuits
I don’t remember when I first heard about Fucked Up, a newer yet somewhat mysterious hardcore band from Toronto, but I do remember thinking I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of them sooner. I know it was an article about them that spent a lot of time talking about their live show and before I ever heard a single song they played I knew it was something I had to see. The truth is I felt like it was something I’d seen before and needed to see again.
I’ve talked before about how when I left Victory Records in 1998 I was completely burnt out and jaded about the music industry. I’d closed down my own label a few years earlier but it had been a while since going to shows was anything more than business to me. That itself was soul crushing because music has always meant so much to me and the shows I grew up attending, every single one of them, shaped me in ways and meant more to me than I could ever explain to anyone. Except maybe the people who were there but those are the ones who already knew it. So even though I’ve recently gotten over my aversion to going to shows I definitely feel more like a spectator rather than a participant, and often I look at the audience and sometimes the band and can’t help but think they are just reenacting something or trying to relive something that ended a long time ago.
When I read about fucked up, something about them sounded more authentic. Something sounded like they were doing it for the right reasons, and that was enough of a motivator to get me to go see them. Last week at Gilman during a Thorns of Life show Blake Schwarzenbach mentioned something about making punk scary again. This is kind of amusing because as highly as I think of pretty much everything he’s ever touched musically I’d never consider any of it scary. Fuck, I grew up in Tampa for crying out loud. So when I heard Fucked Up were coming to LA I got tickets right away. If punk could be scary again, I felt like these would be the guys to do that. Tonight was that show and it was so much better than I could have hoped.
I’ll skip yammering on about the songs – go listen to them and either you’ll love them or not. But what I will say is it was the most authentic hardcore punk show I’ve seen since the time I saw Assuck & Rorshach play in Jason Dooley’s garage in Gainesville. There’s something about the perfect combination of being convinced that at any moment you are going to suffer serious bodily injury and yet being unable to push any direction except closer to the band because they’ve trapped you in the gravitational field of awesome they are generating simply by doing their thing. This doesn’t happen when a band sets up and plays a few songs they think you might like, it happens only when every inch of their being is getting stuffed into every song for the sake of that alone, and if anyone likes it that’s just a bonus. I screamed along to every song, even the ones I didn’t know and for the first time in a long time felt bad for not knowing the songs being played as well as some of the folks around me. Often literally climbing over my head for the chance to sing along.
Maybe I’ve been too jaded. In fact I know I have. I’ve taken the “I’m an old dude now and nothing will ever be as important as it was when I was a kid” position more often then I want to admit but as I said in a text message as I was walking out of the club tonight, Fucked Up just restored my faith in punk rock. It’s true. Every jaded thought I’ve ever had was wiped out halfway through their first song. This wasn’t just a good show, it was everything I remember being important in punk that I stopped seeing long ago. I feel like I’m gushing at this point, but seriously this show was inspiring because finally I felt like I was a part of something again, not just watching from the sidelines.