IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #10.4
The "Official" J Church and Honey Bear Records newsletter:
June 2002 Come to Ogre Battle
UPCOMING J CHURCH RELATED EVENTS
I just did some sort of a "performance" the other night. For
whatever reason, I've been fussing around with some instrumental tracks
and synching them up to various little projects. I had an idea a while
back of putting out a series of alternative movie soundtracks where I
would come up with an albums worth of music for some film I was into.
I had talked to a few other bands about the project and it just never
really materialized. Somewhat related to that, I've made some of these
instrumentals in relation to films my friend Greta Snider made. No reason,
really. She didn't ask me to do it or anything. Just a little creative
project that I started for fun and then got really into. Anyway, I "performed"
this thing (mostly with a video projector and DAT player) at Emo's here
in Austin simultaneously breaking the Rise's guitar amp that they were
kind enough to let me borrow (hey, The Rise are cool guys. Check `em out
on tour). Don't know if I'm gonna do it again as it involves sorting out
a video projector and this and that. But some people seemed to like it
and I think it could turn into something interesting if I keep working
Also, I'll be doing another "singles" club of sorts (shit,
I'm really going crazy with the ironic quotation marks this time. I'll
stop.) through the J Church website (www.j-church.com). The site will
feature one new and totally unreleased song as a free MP3 each month for
a year. It should start sorta soon depending on when I get the mixes done
and all. You should contact Graham who runs the site for more details.
Haven't got it all figured out yet. But I do know that it will include
a bunch of cover songs including our version of Peg by
Steely Dan and Heart Love by Albert Ayler.
MORE NEWS ON PALESTINE CD
Okay, here is the projected track listing. I guess it doesn't really
matter as all of the songs are unreleased and chances are you've never
At The Crossroads Of Hell
Star Of The Show
State Of Things
Jazz Butcher On A Work Night
Not Proud Of The USA
Dora And Lili
The Legend Of Rita
So, the working title is still Palestine. Granted,
the title may be more provocative than meaningful. I like it. I have to
admit, after following a bit of what has been going on with the Refuseniks
I'm a bit tempted to rename the record Yesh Gvul (There
Is A Limit!). Check out some of the testimony of Israeli refuseniks especially
"An Open Letter To Jewish Americans". Very, very moving. I'm
kind of thinking of making this record a benefit for the cause.
(If you're like me, you'll probably want to select the English language
DREAMS OF HAWAII
And yet another of my self-serving postings from the Hawaii Punk site.
It's a private site for former members of the early `80s Hawaii punk scene,
so you can't actually go there. But here's the last thing I wrote for
WHY I LOVE PUNK GIRLS
This stroll down memory lane has ultimately been an intellectual self-flagellating
affair of psychic mind games of the past and historical allegories of
hyperbolic relevance. So what better way to continue my soul crippling
humiliation than a few stories of my puppy love crushes from back "in
I've come to learn that all the archetypes often talked about in punk
rock society (and within other underground / counter cultures) are only
partially true. Whether role playing via Foucault or not, Madonna / Whore
or Slave / Master or whatever never really had impact on someone like
me who knew what he wanted (sort of) but had no idea as to how to get
it. At 16, I would have been happy with Madonna or Whore or Slave or Master
or any combination of the above. For all the talk about punk rock sex,
it wasn't until I left Hawaii that I realized that there was a hell of
a lot less of it going on than I assumed.
Not that I didn't think about it all the time. I loved punk rock girls.
I don't know what was so appealing. Maybe it WAS the whole "rich
white girl gone bad" motif. So I wanted a punk rock girl friend.
I found myself hanging out with a number of different girls (socially)
just trying to figure out what was in their heads. There were so many
cultural barriers to analyze and critique, I couldn't believe what a sheltered
life I had been living up at Kamehameha with the drama club girls and
quill and scroll sweethearts. Figuring out punk rock girls was much more
complex than I had realized. Jeez, in my desire to be Dionysian, I became
completely Apollonian! Story of my life…
I guess I should also mention that all of these crushes were mostly
from afar. In high school, I really only went out with girls from Kamehameha.
That's where I went to school and the dorm scene was enough debauchery
for me. It's only expected considering the punk scene was a bit distant
to me. Since I didn't go to Kaiser or wherever and didn't live on THAT
side of the island, I wasn't really part of the social scene until way
after Scarred For Life split up. My only other sexual experiences at the
time were related to my volunteer work with the Hawaii Performing Arts
Company. But even I'm not ready for that kind of self-analysis.
So, where do we start? At the beginning I guess.
I'll be the first to admit that my attraction to Liz and Gretchen was
probably in some sick way Oedipal. Even though we were about the same
age, they seemed so much more mature than me (back then a couple of years
was a huge difference. Now we are all old fucks and it doesn't really
matter as we're all essentially in the "30 to 100" age group…)
and I was as fascinated by them as I was attracted.
Because I was young, stupid and undiscerning, I wasn't able to fall
for one but not the other. I know that almost sounds complimentary, as
I couldn't like one and not the other. But it equally indicates my inability
to find deeper meaning in any social relationship and its unrequited logical
extent. But this is all sentimentality anyway, so I'll write it as I remember
Liz reminded me of my cousins in a weird way (I told you there was something
sick and vaguely Oedipal about this). Uh, this is a huge stereotype and
one that I'm desperately trying to destroy. But A LOT of Asian girls are
pretty reserved. It's true. It's a cultural stigma. It's often true of
the guys as well. But once you get to know them pretty well (or if they
are close family) they can be really rambunctious and funny. Hanging out
with Liz always seemed like hanging out with my cousins. She was so fucking
funny all the time and I can't really explain how her sense of humor was
often very culturally specific. I don't necessarily mean in content. But
there was a way that I could joke around with her and Barry that was a
little different. I really can't explain it without going back and writing
out a complete dialog and I'm no playwright.
Gretchen was a bit more arty and I really dig that kind of thing. I
remember she was working on some huge Sisters Of Mercy batik in her living
room with an overhead projector and everything. She would talk about things
having to do with art and philosophy that I really didn't understand.
Sometimes she would be talking about people that I'd never heard of (and
really wished I had). Other times she ventured off on an explanatory tangent
in that alluring, can't-quite-place-it, vague accent of hers. I know that
sounds either pretentious or hippy-dippy. But that really wasn't the case.
I don't think I really romanticize that sort of thing. She was just a
genuinely interesting and creative person who at that time was much more
self-aware than I even am now.
Hey, they were smart interesting girls who were foxy. As a straight
guy, you could either be intimidated by them or you could worship them.
I was flattered that people as interesting as them would even talk to
me much less not make fun of me constantly (I guess that was Morgan's
job). I remember when they got back from England (which was a real milestone
in itself) they were talking about this great new band on Crass called
KUKL. That was enough for me to buy the record and start writing the band.
That's how I got to be pen pals (albeit briefly) with Gunnar and Bjork.
Those KUKL records are still ahead of their time and surely that says
a lot about Liz and Gretchen.
There's something indefinably appealing about the goth chick look. Especially
in Hawaii where everything is bright and loud and colorful, the negation
of it all will always be sexy in an alienated way. Mix that with their
smarts and their mixed drinks and they were the girls I dreamed of ever
since seeing Julie Christie in Billy Liar. They were
the bohemians I'd been reading so much about. They made me want to do
something more interesting than be in a hardcore band.
It's true that it deeply affected "my music" (ha ha ha). At
first I just wanted to fit in. I had zero creative urges. I didn't have
an idea about what I was or what I wanted to express. I just wanted to
be in a band that was exactly like Minor Threat or Crass (there's still
some truth in that). But knowing how totally uninteresting that must have
been to Liz and Gretchen made me really take a long hard look at myself
(not like that, you pervert) and assess what I was trying to do. How could
I be even vaguely as interesting to these girls as they were to me?
Well, that's one that I never solved. When you're young and a guy and
a guitar player it's hard not to want to just play something loud and
fast. Took me years to find any sort of subtlety in my playing. It took
years of reeducation via The Band, Harvest, This Mortal
Coil, the Velvet Underground and side two of Exile On Main Street
before I learned anything about timbre or dynamics (fuck you, those records
are all related).
But years later, I'm still in the same pattern as far as finding someone
like Liz or Gretchen and letting that be some sort of beacon to do more
than I would otherwise; to try a little harder. Yeah, it's me being eager
to please. But I'm usually a good enough judge of character that it all
works out in the end.
IN THE J CHURCH LISTENING ROOM
An offshoot of Ausin's Attack Formation, Ben Webster has put his two
cents in the post-rock, E music, nu new wave, kitty. While clearly in
the vein if not direction of much of the mid-`90s Chicago scene, the post-Slint,
electronic minstrels, A-Formatikontact benefits from a much more organic
approach steeped in a tradition of DIY recording. In other words, its
punk because it's got hiss all the fuck over it. Do you know what I mean?
Hiss is a fucking beautiful thing. It's what makes something as academic
and distant as Xenakis seem like the Nation Of Ulysses or Crime. There
are many factors you could research out and use to justify the genealogical
connections between the music. But the main point is in your face. It's
the hiss motherfucker.
A-Formatik's whistles and snaps are a noise field of light almost precious
in its construction and certainly subtle in its performance. The recurring
rhythms including those from the bass are both mesmerizing and propulsive.
It could be said that the low fidelity of the recording muddles up the
sounds layered on the foundation. But the chaos is what maintains the
unease that is the band's strength.
DILLINGER FOUR - Situationist Comedy LP
Jeez, this may be the punk album of the year. I can't stop listening
to this record. Got a big parcel of nice gifts from Fat including the
NOFX singles collection and the new No Use For A Name and while they are
all very nice and more than enjoyable it's the Minneapolitans that I can't
stop listening to.
Thirteen songs with not a dull moment, how rare is that in today's world
of high-tech, low art punk rock? Each tune is catchy as hell and is as
thoughtful as it is naïve. Rarely does a band utilize two very different
(sounding and stylistically) singers to such great effect. I think they
both sound great and it really varies up a record that could easily have
turned from pop genius to pop punk mundaneness. Faintly evocative sing-a-longs
sporadically arise helping the forward motion of the music rather than
bogging down with an Oi-like football chorus.
I've never heard of a studio called the Terrarium but now I wanna know.
This record is produced like a motherfucker. Each song is like a punch
in the face. Not like "I'm gonna kick your ass". More like "I'm
punching you now and we'll have a beer later Fight Club-style."
Okay all you cynics I'm a cynic too! Like there isn't enough poppy
hardcore as influenced by Snuff and/or NOFX in this world. I'm with you.
There is way too much of that shit. But Dillinger Four aren't out of nowhere.
They aren't some wannabes rehashing a style so closely that they might
as well be a cover band. No, this hits harder than almost anything else
on the Fat roster and if you're too far gone to even see the value in
that, well, I don't know what to say. If Albert Schweitzer couldn't figure
out that too much of anything was a bad thing, than how can the average
MATMOS - Drug Opera CD
Also known as Matmos Live, this is a cool little self-released
record by the boys who I guess now include Lesser as a full-time member.
I think it came out in conjunction with a tour of Japan or something like
that. It's mentioned in the Aquarius Records blurb but I don't know what
I did with that.
If you aren't familiar with Matmos, these loveable electronic nerds
are more than the guys who "did stuff" with Bjork. Historically,
their records are incredibly dense exercises in sound-scape possibility
and the violent urgency of a successfully improvisational performance.
Oddly enough, I've also learned over the years that despite the libertarian
approach to musical construction, they really get bent out of shape if
you don't play by the rules while bowling. Ah, heighten the contradiction!
Oh, and these guys are nerds. Once I went over to Jay's house thinking
there was a party or something. Turns out it was a "soldering"
party. He and a few friends were having a party soldering electronic bits
together to create new electronic thingies. I mean, I think that's pretty
cool. But I'm a fucking nerd!
Their records and performances (I saw them aurally destroy Aquarius
once at an in-store) challenge you with combines of organic and synthetic
noise and sound. So, it could be argued that a studio recording could
never really capture what they are trying to convey.
But I dig their two (is it just two) other albums. I think they are
quite beautiful and focused. I think it shows a limitation and smallness
in the field that they are continually compared to the self-indulgent
meanderings of Oval and Autechre and other pointless, uselesses.
So, this record is a collection of live performances mostly from college
radio which they in a small way pay tribute to as one of the last supported
art forms in the country. Too bad so many college radio DJ's think of
it as nothing but a resume entry for their future corporate music careers.
Sad, sad, sad…
Since this is live, there isn't nearly as much layering as on their
studio records out of necessity. But part of being a great improviser
is the ability to adapt to anything. People always say, "it's not
the guitar, it's the fingers." I guess you could substitute "guitar"
for "sound forge" or something. Either way this record meditates
in a few specific areas with at times bone rattling results.
Like all live records, this is something of a souvenir. Unlike most
live records, this isn't just buying time before the next album. It's
not static. It's effervescent.
V/A - Dynamite With A Laserbeam LP
Queen are like one of my five favorite bands of all time, so I was a
little wary of this tribute record. I mean, tributes suck for the most
part. I don't know why they are so intriguing (and they really are). But
it's always a totally unsatisfying affair.
I'm not sure why this comp is so enjoyable. Some of the versions don't
really have any resemblance to the original versions. I'll assume that
Bastard Noise had some deeper inspiration from Sheer Heart Attack in doing
their abstract version of Lily Of The Valley. It's cool! I dig it. And
some are almost a little too tongue in cheek, as you would expect. But
it's an almost entirely enjoyable record.
The Blood Brothers do a great Under Pressure and the
Oath do a great We Are The Champions in similar fashion.
The Locust are always great turning in the shortest song on the comp;
a version of Flash's Theme. Spacewurm also do a cool
little e-rock version of Vultan's Theme. Shit, I always
thought of The Game and Flash Gordon
as the end of the road for Queen. I may have to re-investigate.
Surprisingly, I think the best contribution might be from Weasel Walter
doing an excruciating version of Bohemian Rhapsody. Well,
I don't know who Weasel Walter is, so maybe it's not surprising that the
track is so good. Just waiting for the payoff.
There are some other cool moments (Melt Banana and the Convocation Of
as expected) and some odd moments (Upsilon Acrux does a version of Bicycle
Race that sounds just like All-O-Gistics. Seriously, just keep
saying things like "Thou shalt not commit laundry" while listening
to it…). This is a really fun comp and I very, very, very rarely
(and I'm sure you're the same) feel that way.
(Three One G PO Box 178262 San Diego, CA 92177)
Back to Article Index