IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #10.2
J Church / Honey Bear Records Newsletter Spring 2002
Imagining the Sound
Only one new J Church thing to report at the moment. Our cover of Nick
Lowe's Mary Provost has once again turned up, this time
on a compilation CD called 3 Chord Rocket Science on
Records along with a lot of other cool bands. Let's see, Groovie Ghoulies…
Dirt Bike Annie… Odd Numbers… You get the picture. You can
get it for $6 post paid from me…
STORM THE TOWER ROCKIN' THE STATES
One of the upcoming summer releases for Honey Bear Records is the first
of two 7"s from a great Austin hardcore band called Storm The Tower.
I've mentioned it briefly before. But here is a little more detail. They
are a really great local band melodic in the DC sense. A lot of people
compare them to Rites Of Spring. I think they're more like the Faith.
Either way, you get the picture. Catchy, thoughtful hardcore with EST-like
exploding vocals… To support this first single, the boys are gonna
be on the road and you should really try to check `em out. They got a
jaded old fuck like me going to hardcore shows and house parties again
and THAT says a lot. Here are some dates:
Fri. 05/24 Fort Worth, TX - brian waits
Sat. 05/25 Memphis, TN - jonathan @ DIY Memphis
Sun. 05/26 Nashville, TN
Mon. 05/27 Asheville, NC - jason, email@example.com
Tue. 05/28 Greensboro, NC - @ ryan saulsbury's house
Wed. 05/29 Richmond, VA *
Thu. 05/30 DC/Baltimore - @ WMUC College Park, MD
Fri. 05/31 Philadelphia, PA
Sat. 06/01 NYC @ ABC No Rio
Sun. 06/02 Boston, MA - meredith, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mon. 06/03 Providence, RI - lee, email@example.com
Tue. 06/04 NJ *
Wed. 06/05 Reading, PA- @ Alexander T's house
Thu. 06/06 Pittsburgh, PA- @ Mr. Roboto Project
Fri. 06/07 Ann Arbor, MI- @ michael h topper's house
Sat. 06/08 Columbus, OH- @ legion of doom
Sun. 06/09 Minneapolis, MN w/ Amde Peterson's Army
Mon. 06/10 Chicago, IL
Tue. 06/11 Iowa City, IA (Ian?) *
Wed. 06/12 St. Louis, MO *
Thu. 06/13 Tulsa, OK
Fri. 06/14 Oklahoma City, OK
Sat. 06/15 Dallas, TX - @ Chris Bland's house
* - still lookin' fer somethin'
If you can help out with any of the shows either e-mail them directly
at firstname.lastname@example.org or e-mail me at email@example.com.
E-BAY AUCTION TIME
Okay, I'm broke as hell and need to pay for a lot of label stuff. Aside
from working crazy hours at the moment, I'm also going to be selling a
bunch of stuff on E-bay. Some of it will be Honey Bear Records stuff.
Some of it will be J Church or Cringer related stuff. Some of it will
just be collector stuff. To see the stuff that I'm auctioning off, type
in HONBR in the search area and they should all show up. I've already
got a few things up there. It'll be ongoing for a little while…
TID BIT #1
Rop from Semiautomatic sent me this.
I think it's funny.
TID BIT #2
Mike from Songs For Emma and Broken Rekids sent me this.
I think it's funny too.
MORE HAWAII STORIES
I'm in a bit of a rush to get this out. So here's another hopefully charming
story about my youth in Hawaii.
SCARRED FOR LIFE
I don't know if this story makes any sense. But here goes.
My tenure as guitarist for Scarred for Life was my first "real"
experience in a punk band. Heather (my sister) was hangin' with Ed Tarantino
at the time (who at the time was Straight Ed). He was over at our house
chillin' when I guess he heard me playing guitar in the next room. I was
practicing by playing along to a Ventures record. Ed thought, "Hey,
if he can play Walk Don't Run he can probably play Slayer's
Haunting The Chapel".
So I was recruited to play guitar. Previous to this, Rich (Ed's brother)
had been the guitarist and Mako was the singer. Little did I know they
hadn't told Mako about any of this and that he was being replaced as Rich
decided to rock the mic.
Anyway, we practiced in some old office space downtown that was hooked
up through the Tarantinos through some group that their family was involved
with. I'm still not really sure what Subud is, but they all seemed nice
enough and I think I met Patricia Arquette at one of their functions (totally
Rich had given me a tape of just him playing all the guitar parts and
I had learned the songs from that. Practice was pretty smooth. Back then,
the Krolls were in a band called Nok Mub* with Kerry, Scarred For Life's
drummer and Rosetta (yet another Tarantino and one of my first punk rock
crushes). As a lover of all things Kroll let me say that they really haven't
changed much at all since 1984. I do remember them being a little nervous
about the Tarantino's new interest in Exodus, Voivod and Celtic Frost.
The night we met, Jon said something to the effect of, "please don't
make them into a metal band." Like I could!!!
Our first gig was at a health food restaurant and was a benefit for
some RCP related thing. The only other musical act was a weird pre-Don
("Don Patrol"? "Don's Early Light"?) version of Devil
Dog with Dave Carr drumming. I sort of somehow knew Dave from something
and was so relieved to see him. I think I remember him being the only
person smiling and laughing. I didn't know what I was doing. My lack of
comprehension of reality I think was manifested in the fact that I believe
I was wearing a chamois headband at the time. I could be wrong. I hope
Devil Dog went down great. We were berated for our sexism. We used to
cover SOA's Girl Problems but we really had no excuse
for Girl Problems Part 2 or Cleavage Chicks
for that matter. I mean, yeah, that was bad. But we never had a song like
All The Fags by the Efekt (who I loved. Shit, I loved
all of the Hawaii bands.). I almost wanna say that Byron from the RCP
and the Fallout maybe was the guitarist in Devil Dog at the time and Wendell
was the bassist. Am I totally wrong? Was I not the only person wearing
The climax of my time in the band was the gig my sister and Ed set up
at Kojak's. Sure did feel like we were getting away with something. Robert
Scott's band, I think they were called Bad Posture, used to play there
a couple times a week and we would go hang with them. Was Arnie in that
band too? Somehow it was decided that this lizard-luring lounge would
be a great place for a hardcore gig.
I don't wanna go into too much detail about the rest of the gig as I'm
sure someone else can do a better job. Here are my recollections...
Before the show, Ed had put on a Slayer tape in the club's sound system.
I remember David Moffat coming up to us saying "this music is the
future" and thinking that was mystical and funny.
For some reason I was wearing combat boots which I had never worn before
or since. I think I might have been wearing a headband again as that was
now part of my "stage persona". Oh, and I was out of tune for
every fucking song because I changed all of my strings right before we
I remember before we started playing, the punks helped each other clear
away the tables and chairs. It was so polite and so funny looking. "Let
us now please adjourn to the dance floor for the slam dancing..."
Anyway, I think we played once more and I split the band. I thought
I was gonna do something different and groundbreaking with Raoul from
Devil Dog and Tommy from the Fallout. Looking back, I was probably just
being too serious about one of Raoul's drunken rants and Tommy was just
too nice to tell me to fuck off when I told him I wanted to start a band
that mixed Gang Of Four with Iron Maiden.
Needless to say, within a month I knew I had made a mistake. But I was
too proud to go back. So I started Cringer with Ed instead.
"Why do you care about what we do?
We don't only play for you.
Wasted talent, that's us.
But all you do is bitch and cuss."
* - They were fans of the Colorado punk band, Bum Kon. So they decided
to name their band Bum Kon backwards. Oddly enough, Bum Kon's singer was
none other than Revolver's El Bobo.
IN THE J CHURCH LISTENING ROOM
BILL DIXON - Odyssey 6 CD box set
As I finally sit down to write this review, it's almost four months in
2002, the dawn of which this collection of music came into my life. After
spending months saving up the cash to buy this box set (you think I'm
making any real money off of this? Guess again!) and before that doing
some research on Bill Dixon only then finding out that this limited, mail-order
only item even existed, my need to own Odyssey became
a red herring to the actual music (something a lot of record collectors
I wasn't sure how I exactly wanted to approach this review, as there
are so many levels on which to discuss and enjoy the music not to mention
the fact that it does completely span six discs. I'm leaving the background
discussion of Bill Dixon and his approach to a later article, as I was
fortunate enough to get an interview with him a month back. So, forgive
me if this verges too far into Lester Bangs and not far enough into Robert
Bill Dixon is like a National Treasure to me much like the Badlands,
Death Valley or Robert Rauschenberg. Only difference is he's not being
recognized for his artistry and integrity in the face of adversity. Suffice
it to say that I've been a fan for some years now although I did come
pretty late to his music. I was listening to most of his music decades
after they had been made available. So, my interest has always been organic
for the most part.
So, this six-disc collection of solo performances and spoken word dating
back to the beginning of the `70s is like a given for me. I love Dixon's
arrangements for small bands as well as orchestra. But his often-understated
performing style is served well in these solo recordings. On this collection
you are given a museum's worth of art, your own "permanent collection"
to ponder and thoroughly explore. That's exactly what I've been doing.
I've really been living with this music for the past few months. I listen
to it at home. I listen to it while I write (like right now). I listen
to it on the bus to and from work. It's the soundtrack to my life at the
moment. While I'm not suggesting that you have to do that to penetrate
this audio tome, the pay off is well worth the journey.
Odyssey as soundtrack to your life: détournement
was a tactic used by the Situationists in the `50s and `60s where by taking
an established piece of (usually) commercial art, altering the slogans
or dialog changes the intentions of the art and therefore turns the propaganda
in on itself. Its effectiveness is reason why it's still a popular technique
used widely today.
If you are, like me, of the disposition that most of society with it's
personal racial profiling, psychic fascism and other alienating means
is ultimately just a big piece of commercial art, then you may be looking
for ways to détourne your own life. As Odyssey
has become the soundtrack to my life, it has in effect altered the meanings
of my surroundings.
Talk about fighting alienation with alienated means; this music is like
a voice talking to you reminding you that there are others paths not plainly
seen. The aural cues and runes are mirrors with which to define in your
life what is creative and what is destructive. As a soundtrack, Odyssey
is kinetic deconstruction.
The incredible tones and sounds (some would call "skronk"
but I'm trying to avoid that word these days) Dixon gets on these recordings
are unlike anything you could hear in your noisy city-soundscape. You
can't help but be intrigued by the other-worldness of the sounds and the
vibrant textures painting a variety of emotional elements while filling
completely taking advantage of your aural palette in its solitude. His
own rich tones are often wetted with effects that enhance the elements
unique to this style of playing as well as its other-worldness.
Odyssey is the anti-Muzak: in audio versus visual experiments,
it's clear that people pick up on audio cues more deeply than visual cues.
That is why with streaming video, for example, if you don't have DSL or
Cable, the picture comes through in bits and pieces. The capability only
exists to send either the visual or audio signal clearly but usually not
both. The Internet chose to send the audio signal clearly and it surely
wasn't done on a whim.
If Baudelaire was right in calling work the salt that mummifies the
soul, than it was only because he died before an entire spectacle existed
to embalm us metaphysically. Muzak stuns reality in a miasma of simple
lines and points. It's the equivalent of giving a math scholar a million
basic addition problems to solve. The long-term affects are more serious
then you would think.
Listening to Odyssey is the counterpoint to that. The
reflective and occasionally angular arrangement of many of these pieces
is pretty consistently challenging. In some ways, it can be a good yardstick
in delineating art versus entertainment. Rather than be a lazy spectator,
the pieces encourage participation on an intellectual level. Even the
titles are evocative. Pictures and scenes are framed in your mind as provoked
by the music. In this way, it becomes and intensely personal experience.
Now, this is just one angle that I'm coming from. I've spent a lot of
time with this music as I was quickly drawn into it. To write a thorough
review of this box set would take pages and probably a lot more music
knowledge than I've got.
For me, this is great American art and just as much part of the art
tradition as the Beats, the Abstract Expressionists, post-modernism, etc.
Where Odyssey falls in order of importance within the
creator's repertoire is certainly subjective. But it's very possible for
me to think that this could be his "Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors,
(Bill Dixon, Inc Archive-Edition)
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