It's A Living… But It's Not A Life #12.9
The J Church / Honey Bear communiqué
Hot Town - Al-Jazeera Live!
The record is out. I haven't actually seen it myself. But I guess it's
out! You can get it at any fine record shop or order it from No
Idea Records. I love it. I hope you do to. If you saw us on any of
our last three tours, you'll know most of the songs. Let me know what
you think. I don't give a shit about reviews, really. I do like hearing
from people that actually take the time to follow what J Church does.
I really appreciate it.
We're done recording the new stuff. We're still not sure who we're gonna
do singles and stuff with. We'll see…
Liberty and I almost missed seeing Fahrenheit 9/11 on
Friday. We were about to leave when lightening hit our apartment building
setting the roof on fire. Yes, fire AGAIN! But this time the fire department
got here early enough to contain the fire to the roof and we were mostly
inconvenienced by having to stand out in the rain for a few hours watching
the flames. What is it about me and fire?
In the interest of full disclosure, it was Liberty's birthday and we
had both been eagerly awaiting a little bit of intelligent sanity to reach
us here in Texas. Despite the auspicious beginning to our day (and despite
the utilities still being shut off at our apartment) we went to see your
film at Barton Square Creek (yeah, that's what it's called... It's Austin
but it's still Texas) and we got their a couple of hours early to be safe.
At the time it was playing in two theaters. We bought the tickets and
wandered around for a little while and came back when they started letting
people in. By then it had expanded to four theaters. Good ol' Ann Richards
was at our showing. I thought she was a lot taller. By the time we came
out (oh, and it was one of the best movies I've seen in ages) there was
a crazy mob scene with the movie showing in something like seven theaters.
I'm 37 and I go to a LOT of movies. I haven't seen a mob scene like that
since opening day of Empire Strikes Back. It was really
The next day (today) we went by the Dobie, a much smaller multi-plex
where the film was way, way sold out. But we were going to see Control
Room (reviewed below). It ended up being a pretty good crowd
for that movie (also well-worth seeing) largely due to people not being
able to get tickets to Fahrenheit! Maybe trickle down
really does work...
Incidentally, I really loved the movie.
OLD MRR INTERVIEWS
As some of you may know, I recently put out a book through Café
Press documenting all of the lyrics I've written for J Church and Cilantro
in the `90s. It's hardly essential. I just wanted to test out what their
books look like. They look pretty good and if for some reason you do want
that book, you can get it at www.cafeshops.com/honeybear.
It's nice looking actually.
So now I'm thinking it might be nice to catalog all of the different
interviews I've done for Maximum Rock N Roll over the
years. The problem is, I lost all of my old issues in the fire. All of
my copies of old interviews are mostly gone. I'm looking for people that
have copies of the old issues from '89 to about '94. I don't need the
actual copies, but if you could photocopy or even scan the interviews
I did, I'd be very appreciative. I did so many; I don't even remember
all of what I did. I know the first was an interview with Bazooka Joe
from Myrtle Beach. I do have a few of those issues that I've borrowed.
But any help would be greatly appreciated.
Here's part of a funny old one with the Offspring:
Q What inspires you to write your lyrics? It seems like you have
two types. There are the socio-political lyrics. Then there are the, well,
horror lyrics that are good too.
Brian Over a matter of time you have these weird ideas and you make
a song. When it comes to making a record, you're just lumping all these
things together and it just kind of ended up that way.
Kevin Beheaded was meant to be comical. Almost
kind of silly. But I don't think the music helps it. The music is kind
of dark and kind of serious.
Brian We knew, unfortunately, that people were gonna take the things
seriously, the things we said on the album. Like Kill The President.
Kevin When we said, Kill The President we don't
want anyone to go out with a gun and kill the guy. I don't like him. I
don't want to say anything too incriminating. the song is more about democracy.
Brian Oh, that's good. Tell thousands of readers you don't like
the president when you're already singing a song called Kill The
Kevin It's just a shock line.
Brian The Dead Kennedy's did a lot of that. They didn't necessarily
mean that line "I kill children." The idea is to get you to
look a little deeper into what the songs are saying.
Q Still, some of your lyrics certainly have a… not just horror,
but a fantasy side to them. Telling a story and not just telling you something.
What influences that? Beheaded was written by your old
drummer, wasn't it?
Kevin Yeah, he wrote it with Brian. He was a lunatic. He was really
crazy in a good way. I loved his insanity. He was really funny. He would
get these ideas and it would be like, "Yeah, yeah! Wrap the head
in a burlap sack!" He would get into that. It was funny.
Q Are you folks comfortable with Brian doing a lot of this? Would
you say he's the spokesperson for the band?
Brian Well, they still have veto power. Andy they use it.
Q It seems like Brian is the president. Ron is the senate. Greg
is the house.
Kevin And I'm the janitor. (laughter)
Q It doesn't seem like you want to write things. Or you just feel
very self-conscious about it.
Kevin Well, you know how it is. It's frustrating. You have an idea
and you just can't get it out. You know you can do it. But then when you
go to try and do it… I guess I'm wimping out when I don't keep trying
to do it. I'd like to write and I get frustrated and just throw it away.
Scrap everything. I could stick with it more and if I'm ever gonna do
it that's what I'm going to have to do.
Q How important are the lyrics to the band? There are a lot of bands
that feel music can only affect so many people, so the attitude or whatever
is more important. The music is more important.
Brian I think the music is more important. That's (lyrics) not the
first thing that comes across. They just want to hear the music. If they
like it, maybe they'll get into it.
Q How does the music come together? Does one person bring in the
Kevin That would be Brian. (laughter)
Brian Everyone kinds chips in and forms it together once we get
it into practice.
Q Do you think everyone has a lot of input as far as how the songs
Kevin I think so. I think that's true for any band. Brian will show
us what he has in mind for a song and we pretty much stick with that most
of the time. But we add our own things. We'll speed it up or slow it down.
We all come together on it. It's majority rule. If we don't like it, we
don't play it. We vote on what songs we're going to play. How we're going
to do them.
Brian Yeah, like A Thousand Days. They made me
change A Thousand Days. They thought it was stupid.
Greg It was! (laughter)
Brian Yeah, it was…
Q What happened with your first 7"? Did you do it yourself?
I see it floating around every so often…
Brian It's over five years now. So we just did it ourselves. We
had no idea on how to do it. We didn't do a very good job of getting it
Kevin We ended up giving them all away. Sending them to radio stations.
Brian We had a tough time getting it to distributors. Nobody wanted
7"s back then. We still had some 45s up until about six months ago.
We just couldn't get rid of them.
Q How many did you do?
Brian A thousand. (laughter)
IN THE J CHURCH VIEWING ROOM
CONTROL ROOM (directed by Jehane Noujaim)
For me, Al-Jazeera means one thing: proof. When I think of how skewed
and yellow video journalism is, I remember that millions and millions
of people in the world are getting their news from Al-Jazeera. That's
my proof that there is hope for the world. That they are willing to challenge
and question everything from Arab leaders to the United States to the
nature of unbiased news coverage… Since their start in 1996, they've
been slammed in the Arab world for being too pro-American and by the US
for being pro-Al Qaeda. As most good lefties know, that usually means
you're doing something right. I have much respect for Al-Jazeera and was
excited to know that a documentary was being made about them and their
take on the War with Iraq.
The film Control Room is further proof. With time-tested
verité technique, we see what it is like to run Al-Jazeera and
what kinds of people make up the staff from the translators to the journalists.
The film travels back and forth between the stations headquarters in Qatar
and CentCom which is the main press briefing room set up by the US military
in Iraq. It's a breath of fresh air to see an entire network of people
who are smart and committed to the idea of debate and communication. I
don't think you could find that at any of the major news networks in the
States. Their operations, anecdotes and analysis are worthy of a documentary
But there are specific moments in the film that are especially profound
and upsetting even to a long-time commie like myself. First and foremost,
there is the death of an Al-Jazeera journalist. Before the troops entered
Baghdad, the US committed air strikes on civilian targets including the
building housing Al-Jazeera. In the attack, one of their correspondents
is killed along with three other journalists. There is footage of the
journalist facing him head-on right up until seconds before the attack.
That along with a plea for justice from the journalist's wife and a completely
absurd justification for the attack from the US is both infuriating and
The second most important moment in the film is the so-called liberation
of Baghdad. As a result of the attack on Al-Jazeera, their remaining correspondents
were forced to return home to Qatar where the network is based. Now recognized
as a target of the US military, Iraqis were naturally hesitant to house
anyone representing the station. In the end, only the ridiculous foreign
press was there to cover the troops coming into the town square and the
people toppling over the statue of Saddam Hussein. What's most illuminating
is the analysis from the Al-Jazeera journalists as they watch the events
unfold. Senior Producer Samir Khader talks about how he's from Iraq. He's
lived in Iraq. The people that toppled the statue were not Iraqi. They
didn't look Iraqi and they didn't have Iraqi accents. Another journalist
wonders why there are only a dozen people celebrating. Where were the
village people? Where were the women from the area? How is it that one
of them just happened to have the old Iraqi flag in his pocket? Had he
"just kept it there for the past ten years?" Producer Deema
Khatib wonders where the troops were. Where was the army? It becomes very
obvious, as people have been muttering for some time now that it was all
a faked, staged event for Western "news" cameras.
Finally there is the case of Lt. Josh Rushing. Throughout the film,
he is the American representative that has debates and discussions with
the many Arab journalists. Despite having to take the absurd position
of defending US aggression, he is intelligent and empathetic. At one point
he becomes self-analytical and candid talking about how he had seen images
of dead Iraqi casualties one day and it didn't affect him. The next day,
he was footage of American casualties and it made him sick. At that point
he really had to face himself and while still in the process at least
recognize how much he hates war. That story doesn't end there. With the
release of the film, the Pentagon ordered Rushing not to comment on the
film. Offended by this gesture, he is now seeking to leave the Marines.
Control Room is a movie about the War with Iraq. But
that's not the half of it. It's a movie that will hopefully widen the
debate about television and what is objective journalism in this country.
It's also another stone catapulted through the wall of Arab stereotypes.
It's also an intelligent and engaging film that is as challenging as it
Back to Article Index