The last time I went to a legitimate venue with ticket prices over $5 I think I saw Bill Calahan or maybe Marnie Stern and I can’t remember because it was almost a year ago and Bill Calahan sucked. I go to shows all the time, but there’s something about this town in particular where the professional venues just aren’t that fun to go to; they’re all a bit too bright and have more tables than standing room or the soundboard is put smack dab in front of the stage or they’d prefer to be on the Food Network than in Rolling Stone or something. The problem with this, and sort of with everything, is that I sometimes realize that I’m not seeing the best bands around when I go to DIY shows, and if I can be honest, I’m not even seeing half-decent ones most of the time. I’m somewhat embarassed or saddened to admit it, but houseshows are dragging me down, watching the next wave of young punks figure out how obnoxious they should be in public bores the fuck out of me, and I only ever go to these shows because I’m playing them or to get drunk with people I know. There is, however, one band left in the entire touring underground diy whateverthefuck scene that I fucking LOVE and anticipate and last night I got to see them at a bar, one that has been on the food network. They are The Body.
Whenever The Body comes to town, I find myself in that fun position of trying to describe in words what should really just be experienced and like everybody else I have to use the words ‘doom’ or ‘sludge’ or ‘metal’ and then try and convince anyone who has aversions to that sort of thing that it’s MORE THAN THAT! The Body is fucking metal, yea, but to really get into what they are you have to know what these doom bands are doing and realize that The Body is not doing the same thing as the rest of them. To start: Doom or sludge stuff took over what kids think of when they think metal. I’m not sure how recently, but I’m thinking like 5 or 6 years ago all the art kids started liking metal and suddenly everyone was familiar with Sleep and talked about Electric Wizard whenever they could and the metal scene melded with every other underground thing just like that; there was a sudden ‘pop’ and then kids in neon yellow jeans weren’t scared to talk to dudes with dreads and face tats anymore. The self-exclusionary element of the metal scene moved further into black and death metal and then pitchfork or whoever chased those genres down too and now we’re all just happily allowed to like shit and fat dudes with long hair are either our friends or they don’t go out anymore.
DOOM though - The trick to a good doom band is that they’re harnessing low frequency sound, which is really hard to do. Playing guitar through bass amps takes more than plugging it in, finding a place to practice is just insane, and what you see ends up happening often is that you buy these giant amps and de-tune your guitar and hit a huuuuuuge long chord and realize that’s pretty much all you can do before it just washes out, and that, oh shit, having giant amps did not make you sound metal. If you try to do a chugga chugga sounding slayer riff or something it loses it’s attack and washes out the sound and just kind of sucks. So what characterizes doom metal’s sound to me is that to have an amazing sounding powerful low fuckin chord, you have to be restrained and not go into autopilot and bang the guitar the whole time. It’s like that ‘make every stroke count’ thing, and if it’s done well, the strokes will have their, um, desired effect.
So I think this is all true until I see The Body and my way of understanding sound is thrown out the window, and it happens every time I see them. Chip (the guitar player / screamer) bashes the shit out of chords and the pulse of LOW is insaaaaane. Lee (the drummer) carries on a kinda normal drum beat a lot of the time and then suddenly hits the band’s ‘on’ button and everything goes to hell in the right way. Your body is taken over a la Sunn O))) but there’s something more to it than the ‘spiritual’ side of things people talk about when they see Sunn O))). What it is is that this band, while having that spiritual takeover effect, is still fucking metal and the energy is fucking metal and the songs manage to be fucking metal and the crowd of fresh-faced punks or recently turned-on-to-it hip kids all suddenly become fucking metal and lose their minds and it’s suddenly okay to be at the bar that’s been on the Food Network and we’re suddenly happy that we sat through hours of local opening acts that will never be this fucking metal.
By the time The Body went on the crowd had thinned out a bit and the bartenders went deaf and I was instantly drunk anyway. When they were over I gushed all over the drummer and asked if I could do an interview with them and then realized I wouldn’t know what to say because this band just needs to be experienced by anyone even slightly curious about what music can do to a room. Seeing them play at this normal bar and not a basement backed up so many of my feelings toward good music and houseshows. The Body is a band that is not cheapened in the slightest by playing on a stage and making money doing it. They get written up in Pitchfork and they should. I’m greedily hoping that they become this beacon of ‘selling-out’ so that all of these new punks can see that success doesn’t have to harm bands and they can be comfortable taking $5 from people who go to houseshows so the touring act doesn’t have to suffer. The Body has to be one of the hardest working bands around. If I’ve seen them this often in Kansas City, they have to be on the road all the time. Plus dragging around more than one SVT810 cab is rough. I could never even get mine up the stairs…
God damn the fucking body rules. I can’t think of anything else to say. Go see them.
(from a facebook post)
MAY TOUR DATES - Denver and Kansas City Dates soon!
05-07 Boise, ID- The Red Room
05-08 Salt Lake City, UT- The Salt Haus
05-11 Iowa City, IA- Gabe’s Iowa City
05-12 Lincoln, NE- The Bourbon
05-13 Dubuque, IA- Eronel
05-14 Chicago, IL- The Empty Bottle
05-15 Cleveland, OH- Now That’s Class
05-16 Camphill, PA- GRINDlab Indoor Skatepark
05-17 Philadelphia, PA- Heaven’s Gate
I called the last ‘Being A Musician Is Easy’ Final Days. Those were the wrong choice of words. Day 23:
Yesterday I woke up in a warm bed and intended to stay in Denver in a warm house full of amazing warm people who cooked me an amazing warm breakfast and kept warming my heart by treating me like a celebrity and saying ‘IS THAT PHIL DIAMOND? OH MY GOD!’ An hour later I was in a car with a southern dude named Robin and his dog named Nuala driving around town looking for I-70. Robin had contacted me from a rideshare posting I’d put up on craigslist and had no faith in whatsoever and made a point to joke constantly about how he forgot to bring his rusty machetes. I asked him if he was a smoker. He said no. I asked if I could smoke out of his car window. He asked if I could hold it til stops. I said, ‘Oh yea, sure, of course I can.’
I spent the next few hours losing my mind and hoping we’d just get hit by a car so I’d have a chance to smoke while we waited for the ambulance, or at least just break down somewhere along the highway, which eventually we did.
Somewhere around Hays, Kansas, we end up shivering on the shoulder of 70 on what turns out to be the coldest May 2nd the state has seen in over 100 years. I know this because a series of gas station attendants made a point of telling us, ‘not since 1905,’ and following with ‘that was a good year.’ Generations of Kansas gas station attendants have passed along these tales, and now fearing frostbite for the enth time of this month, along the side of the most boring section of interstate in the country, this information belongs to me. I mentally prepare to work at the BP in Salina if we ever get that far.
Robin changes the tire. Despite his love of Phish and a terrible Pandora station that he seems to think of as a ‘stoner rock’ channel, one which endlessly burps out songs by The Disturbed and other Nu-Metal wonders, Robin is a ‘real man’ - the kind I’ve never hung out with for any extended periods of time. He converses with giant men about the correct size of windshield wipers and the giant men talk back to him with fondness and when the two depart he ‘appreciates the heck out of all the help.’ I’ve used the same turns of phrase for years, the ‘y’alls’ that I’ve picked up working at pawnshops in the south, the pleasantly gruff voice, the ‘appreciate its’ and so on and to this day giant men can see through it all to my inner fag, so It’s interesting to see the flip side of the thing. Robin’s a cool guy. He knows about cars. He’s helping me out. He lets me eat his apples.
Somewhere around 240 miles away from Kansas City the rear differential of the car shits itself dealing with the donut and we break down again. We stop dozens of times to put more air in the tires and for Robin to get under the car with a light and look around for musicians-don’t-know-what. Our final point of breakdown is on the Kansas Turnpike between Topeka and Lawrence. A mere hour from home if we’d force it, Robin decides to call AAA and have the thing towed to where he’s going. We sit in the tollway’s ‘oasis’ for two hours waiting for our tow guy. My skinhead muppet look and Robin’s down to earth nice-guy-but-maybe-UFC-fighter style make us quite the pair. State troopers bite into their dunkin donuts and consider us. If anything, we look like the kind of couple who could only have found ourselves united by our love of Meth. But, Robin being the standup real man that he is, the cops tell us what to do to get out of our mess. Cops are cool to real men.
Our tow-truck guy is willing to give me a ride to my destination before dropping off the car. He’s gotta be drunk. It’s 2 in the morning and he claims to have just woken up. Somehow I bond with this guy. Maybe it’s just dark but he doesn’t seem to notice my hidden inner not-real-man-ness. He belches out stories of fighting his ex in court for his kid in Houston, how he had to move there for six years just to get this son away from this lady, how the kid had been beaten senseless at two years old when he finally picked him up; he talks about Houston’s shitty people, the rich ladies in Suburbans, the poor people stealing shit from everyone, an awkward moment where he says ’ There’s mexicans everywhere’ and then follows in the silence with ‘not that I’m much of a racist’ and then more silence. He smokes cigarettes in the truck and lets me do so too, so fuck it, I’m on this guy’s team now.
And by the end of the day I am rooting around in the dirt for a hidden key and finally hanging with a dear friend and things have somehow worked out. I consider the freedom in not having a job, how the major benefit I’ve always considered is that you have these extra six to eight hours of your day to do ‘me time’ with, but how in reality I delete whole days from my life just moving from one bit of ground to another, only finally knocking off anything that could be considered a to-do list item at 2AM after 600 miles of obstacles. I like living this way, somehow, but what exactly appeals about it is harder to pin down when I think about how most people can wake up, drink their coffee, look at their clocks and say ‘ok, start doing all that shit you have to do.’ Is it a thrilling way of living? Fuck no. It’s retrospect in action - every bit of what I do is creating a good story while being not even remotely enjoyable in the present. Maybe it’s building character, maybe it’s just an incessant waste of time. Henry Rollins constantly talks about standing in lines at airports and how every extra two minutes someone spends going through the metal detector wearing a belt is murdering him, in very small increments. ‘BAM!’ he yells; two minutes of his life gone because the person doesn’t know that metal detectors are there to detect metal, which is often found on belts. So today I’ve murdered 15 hours of my life to go from the snow covered ground in Denver to the mud covered ground of Kansas City. And in a sense, Robin murdered 4 hours of my life wanting to get us towed for the last hour of the drive. And then, I murdered Robin for some amount of time making us stop to smoke cigarettes, which murder me an itty bitty bit at a time all day long. This is of course only true if you trust Henry Rollins.
So I’m here in Kansas City for the next 12 days. I’ll be recording the next Scammers album with my insanely talented and insanely generous engineer and hanging out with a very select few friends while mostly starving to death and wishing I could afford a pack of smokes, after which I will be hitting the road again for another tour in which I hope to see you all. Love Being A Musician Is Easy.
I’m waking up in Phoenix with a new tattoo on my middle finger. It says ‘Dad’. Two of my tourmates are asleep nearby. One will wake up to find ‘Dad’ on her ankle, the other - ‘D’ on her pinky. The last tourmate is asleep in a hotel somewhere. She will wake up to internet access and a shower.
Yesterday and today are my days off of the tour. We are here because of a women’s music festival called Fox Vag. It takes place at a large sports bar called Yucca Tap Room, a spot brimming with every kind of strange Arizonan, from the ones you’d expect at shows to guys walking around in Red Hot Chili Peppers shirts conspicuously pointing their iphone cameras at performer’s breasts . Night Nurses played last night and had the second headlining spot on the fest. I was surprised. For this whole tour, I’ve watched these kids play to 10-20 people who barely care, who may have heard that the drummer was in another band they saw once. I’ve watched as their amps have failed, their lead singer’s voice lost to the longest tour cold I’ve ever seen, and mostly, just as I think about myself, I’ve wondered why they tour, why they try so hard at this when the response is usually apathy and whispery shit talk. I’ve thought all of these things for this whole shitshow of a tour… and then I saw them play for a huge crowd that knew they were coming and had been waiting, and I was floored. I know that last night was their only good show of this tour, that they may as well have just driven down for the festival and gone back to Denver, but maybe what we’re doing is what all the annoying old men talk about - paying dues. Dues were returned to Night Nurses last night and I got to see them as the rockstars they are.
Here on the opposite side of the night is little old Scammers, finding extra drink tickets and leaning against cars, wondering if he can meet anybody in these foreign towns if they haven’t seen him do the only thing he does. If these tattooed and made-up music fans saw a set, would he still be hiding in the rental listening to that one Chris Isaak song on repeat? Would the drinks be paid for, would the smiles be invitations? Little old Scammers gets too drunk and goes for a jog in the empty parking lots of this desert city’s empty night. He makes it far enough away from the festival crowd to place himself where he is; he is nineteen again, he is without direction, looking for meaning in the dim green distance over the streetlamp-cast asphalt, lovesick for who knows who, breathing heavily. The only difference between his nineteen year old acid confused past self and his current twenty-six year old self is that at nineteen he was Phil and at twenty-six he is Scammers. At nineteen there was future, at twenty-six there is past and future. There is evidence that Scammers has existed. There are thousands of copies of albums littered across the many punk houses of the states and even the countries, there are scattered reviews, there are pictures in newspapers in landfills or used to windex the outside of coffeeshops. There on the other side of that is Phil, a tanline of a wedding ring slowly fading into the rest of a sunburned hand, friends no longer in touch, positions at service industry jobs replaced, regulars joking with new baristas. Phil exists less every day. Scammers hides in the rental car.
It’s been seventeen days since I flew to Denver, and at least a week of having no money at all, relying on the knowledge that I ate way too much while I lived in Kansas City anyway, that a couple dollar menu items a day are always achievable and are enough to keep from driving us off a cliff. I sell an average of 2 tapes a day and this pays for my cigarettes and cheeseburgers. If I sell 4 tapes I buy a six pack and wake up wondering why I only have two bucks in my pocket. I’ve slept in the softest beds and hardest floors on this tour and what I’m realizing is that this is the daily luck of the draw that keeps people doing what we’re doing. Everything is possible every day out here in stasis. The harder and more beautiful realization is that this tour isn’t actually coming to an end. Night Nurses will return to jobs and apartments (albeit constantly subject to change), boyfriends and girlfriends, soy lattes when they ask for them, showers and cellphones if they choose to get them. I on the other hand will not be returning from this tour. This is the tour I never come back from.
There’s no point in updating this every day. We aren’t looking for play by play analysis. We’re looking for why the team keeps losing. Here’s what’s happened so far: I flew into Denver 11 days ago. I played two shows there, hung out for a couple days, and kicked off the tour. We went to Boise where the show had cancelled and not told us. We went to Missoula and played two shows and an afterparty and it ruled and I sold almost $100 in merch on top of the door, which is crazy at DIY shows. We went to Portland and my wireless mic broke and the show sucked. Some guy said he was going to kick my ass while I was playing so I got crazy and tried to antagonize the situation. We went to Eureka and stayed with friends of friends who had a hot tub and made me awesome margheritas. We drove through the redwoods on 101 to Oakland, where we played at a house with 50 people on the porch and almost no one inside. We ended up playing with this girl who had stayed at our house once in KC and left shit and menstrual blood all over our toilet seat, which both my ex and I had to clean up. This girl is considered a cool person here. Yesterday I ran out of money but somehow sold three tapes or cds, so today I can either get coffee and cigarettes or food. The attitude in the car is hard to put a read on. One of us has been sick for the whole time we’ve been on the road and she hates every bit about this tour, as far as I can tell. The rest of us are trying not to make it worse, but it seems like everyone may be starting to crack a bit.
I’m trying to understand what to do with my future and how being a musician relates to it. Whenever I’m in these towns, these Portlands and Oaklands, the towns where young people flock to reinvent their images and personalities to be part of the most exclusively ‘chill’ scenes - when I’m in these places, I find myself conflicted as hell about what music is supposed to mean to anybody and what we’re supposed to do to deal with these fucks. Since we hit Portland I have been confronted with this one running gag; that music is a fashion accessory, and it’s easy to make. It’s earrings, it’s hair dye, it’s tattoos, it’s reverb. For some people music is something they are required to know about to have a fashionable lifestyle. This doesn’t seem to be as much of a thing at shows I play in the rest of the country, but unfortunately I’m stuck on this side of it for the next eight days playing for what I can only assume are groupies for more important bands than ours. The shitty part is that these kids do this lifestyle with such confidence that I’m tricked into thinking theirs is the only way to make it in the music world. I’m embarassed that I’m wearing any sort of clothes that look anything like what they’d wear; that I have shitty tattoos, that I painted my nails, that I’m wearing makeup to try and look like Bowie. I look like one of them, but without the breeding and bone structure. The shittiest part about it is I know there are great people and great musicians here, but somehow my relatively not-weird music is lumped into punk scene stuff and I never get to meet any of them.
That said, I know the DIY touring thing is cheating; it’s saying that you’re good enough to tour before anyone’s heard of you. It’s much more like being in the Blues Brothers and playing at redneck bars than it is ‘touring.’ Some of those shows turn out getting you some fans and friends and the ability to come back to that city whenever you want, some of them you end up dodging metaphorical (or real) beer bottles chucked at you by the same characters you run into everywhere out here. The best and worst moments happen on tour. The best and worst people are involved in this scene. The best and worst bands are doing it. The people running DIY shows are either amazingly good at it or insanely bad at it. While I’ve been feeding off of a lot of the negativity around me here, it’s really just fine. We’re not getting famous, but sometimes we play amazing shows for amazing people.
I’m in Oakland today. I’ve managed to eat a large meal, drink some coffee, and get a pack of cigarettes. It’s really nice outside, and I finally don’t have to wear my five layers of summer clothing I packed for this trip. I’m going to find Idaho Joe, hang out with one of the few cool people I met last night, and go see if I’m actually on the show we’re supposed to be playing today. I’ll undoubtedly have toured more and played more shows than anyone who will be there, but on this tour I am the extra, I am alone, I’m probably not considered worth a shit, and if anyone tells me I can’t play, there’s not much I can really do about it. I can leave, I can get away from the kids and go see the ocean. I can go to a coffeeshop and start booking the next ill-advised tour and make sure to avoid the westcoast. I can sit around all day and take it in, something I never got to do while working all the time. Tomorrow we can go to LA or we can stay here. The next day we can go to a suburb of LA and play there. The day after that we’ll be cutting our way back to the middle of the country where people might give a shit. Then in a couple of weeks I can decide where I want to live and immediately leave it for another month and a half of this and have the chance to change my mind again. Being a musician is easy.
The show goes well. We make $70 though there’s never more than 10 people in the room at a time. I sell something like 6 albums. I shave my beard off at that part of Blue Satin where it segues into A Whole New World and forget about it until later in the bar’s bathroom where I freak the fuck out looking at the real me. Apparently I’m a smirker. I feel as though I’ve had a much more amicable face for the last few years. This one is foreign and not to be trusted. The bar owner buys my drinks all night. He can’t be making a dime. I’m pretty sure he bought everyone’s drinks, playing or not. He’s a cool dude and let us smoke inside, which is just about the coolest thing in the world given my lack of ANY WINTER CLOTHING AGH.
Because of the free-ness of the drinks, I’m impossibly drunk by the time we get back to the house and go straight to sleep on the floor with my head on a pile of ac adapters and my feet on a behringer mixer. Over the last month I’d been operating on 4 or 5 hours a night (sometimes none) and I manage to sleep for 9 in two shifts; the first filled with dreams of horrible beardlessness, the second after Sara Century almost flying knees me rushing out of bed late to work, dreaming of a gigantic KC westside party in some sort of hotel with people we all know inquiring into my sex life and offering me a token that was supposed to serve as a ‘fuck me in the back of a car and then leave’ pass. In the dream this is explained to me, with a smile, as common practice in the westside. I have no idea where I got this one from.
I drink lots of coffee and have no breakfast. After a few hours of a slightly warmer morning sitting in the sun, we get on the bus and run around Denver. There’s a never ending amount of time to kill before shows if you don’t have to drive that day, and I should really just start reading books again to fill it, but instead I just sit around smoking cigarettes and being useless. The only way I can be productive is to unleash some sort of saved up energy onto the projects, so I let it build for a while. We visit a couple coffeeshops and Sara’s workplace, a video rental place with none too few similarities to the record store in High Fidelity. I don’t understand any references to movies ever. The only movies I know everything about are Aladdin and What About Bob and that’s it.
Tonight’s show promises to be better attended, though after a fair run of good turnouts in KC I’m relishing the intimate crowds of tour. The shows that are ruined by weather or mostly last minute and unpromoted can be the best sometimes. The ones with tons of people end in chipped teeth, bloody knees, and an overwhelming amount of quick praise that I can never correctly process as heartfelt or courteous.
My favorite part of tour shows is when people don’t know what to expect and didn’t care enough to look it up. They’re there for their friend’s bands or to get drunk. I do the same thing, but perhaps too cynically tend to guess what the band will sound like and be right. I’m pretty sure these people expect me to be sleepy and ambient, because so often that’s what the touring soloists turn out to be, and no one trusts hype anyway.
I’m noticing that my outlook on music has finally started developing into what I imagine most people feel about it, which is I guess just that I finally started liking it. In the past I think I’ve looked at these certain albums or bands as ‘THE BEST’ and after listening to them enough times I’ve just stopped listening to music entirely for however many months until someone introduces me to another of THE BESTS that I can agree with. Suddenly I’m sitting here listening to a whole Tim Buckley album like a normal person, merely because it was linked on the youtube sidebar after I finished listening to the whole Nilsson Schmilsson. I don’t even know how much I care for it. I can’t tell. It’s just something with an effect on whatever my current spiritual situation is. It’s not comforting but it’s something like comforting. Which leads to this:
I’m treading the line between self-inflicted heartbreak and loneliness, all while doing what I ‘want to be doing,’ which seems to be sitting at houses without heat and shivering for the first twelve hours of a day before going to drink for four hours before playing music for thirty minutes in front of people. It’s weird that this is a way of living, really. It doesn’t ask that much. Some bands put out one album every few years. It seems that I can pay for all of my food and drinks on selling the copies of albums I get, so after a month of shows I’ll probably have to put out another one or get a job. Looking at that sentence after typing it, I’m a bit suspicious that I haven’t woken up from the shock that accompanies this new lifestyle. I’m probably totally screwed but I can’t really tell. Once we’re on the road I’ll know. Gas will bring me back to the reality of my situation. Gas brings tours back home.
The flight is only an hour long but to be up early enough to catch it I had to get fucked up drunk. I wake up at 5 to a thunder and lightning shitstorm in Matt Hill’s tiny bed, smoke a cigarette under my sleeping bag, and grab my last possessions in the world; dufflebag, backpack, and luggage case full of merch. Nick drives me to the airport. We listen to Harry Nilsson. I can’t live if living is without you. I spend half the flight in the lavatory because my seatmate is asleep with his head down in front of him and his tray out holding two drinks that seemed destined to spill on me as soon as his wife tells him to stop snoring. The bathroom is nice. I watch myself in the mirror and try to predict what I will look like without a beard. I think of how on my last day at work my boss made me get down on hands and knees and scrub the lint off the piano, saying something like ‘You’re gonna have to get used to this where you’re going.’ It’s 6:30AM. I’ve taken shits in the sky. I’ve drank my coffee. I woke up on time. Day’s work is done.
Denver’s airport turns out to be way the hell out of Denver. The first cab guy tells me $75. Another guy says he’s the cheapest ($50). The handful of bus drivers I approach tell me they don’t go to Denver. Sara Century tells me directions but I can’t wrap my head around them. I take a $50 cab ride. The cabby lectures me about the dangers of money, about unhappy people he encounters who choose the $75 guy over him just cuz he holds the door for them when they get out at their hotels. He tells me that we’re free people, that we can walk down the street and no one will try to take our things. He tells me that my job is to bring happiness with music. He confuses Delagen for Delaware and insists that we’re there. We aren’t. I make him drop me off at my tourmates’ house. A guy walks into the living room and freezes. I explain why I’m there but I can’t seem to word it well enough and it takes a few goes to explain that I’m visiting. A dog jumps up on me. Vocal cats are everywhere.
I didn’t bring a jacket. It’s spring. I didn’t bring long underwear. It’s spring. I didn’t bring a sweater. It’s spring. Denver is covered in snow. I will not get rid of my beard today. I freak out about frostbite. I can’t feel my toes. I haven’t felt them for an hour. I try cooking my socks on top of the stove. It doesn’t work. I try holding my feet above the burner but one of the cats that’s fucking with me seems destined to jump on it and it’s not working either. Half an hour of extreme chefing it and I still have frostbite. Toes are getting darker. I take a 30 minute shower and do leg lifts and try to remember which thing you’re not supposed to do when encountering this situation. I’m pretty sure it’s putting them in water but it does the trick. A guy I played with Iast time I was in town is in the kitchen. He lets me make breakfast. He is a hero.
I listen to the new [PHYSICS] album. I want to write a review of it but I don’t know what to say other than ‘robots’ or ‘the future’ or ‘I like it.’ I listen to a thing with vocals I want to review but I can’t understand what the guy’s saying. I write a song about suburban women in airports who think you want to fuck them. The hook goes: ‘I wouldn’t. Even more than you wouldn’t.’ It turns into a heartfelt lovesick Mountain Goats song. I’m going to have to do an acoustic album next. It’ll be by Phil Diamond instead of Scammers. I’m in two solo projects.
Tonight we’ll be playing at a bar, which is great. As a freshly divorced homeless guy, I no longer own a badass PA. Or anything really. The largest bag I have is the one with the merch. The complete $5 collection of me. Roughly $700 worth of me in it. Me as cop skeletons with guns from Denmark. Me in front of a van with me a thousand times in its splintered window. Me as t-shirts that look like the [PHYSICS] album sounds. Robots, the future, and I like it.
Springing forth from the frigid climes of Minneapolis come witchy pop-makers Dust Buns. Led by Jess Buns, (Diva ‘93, Anonymous Choir) the trio’s first album, Cold Bruise, enters the world of dark pop music with a refreshing amount of duality; Cold Bruise reads as if the purpose of the music is to create a cold floor for which Jess to tread upon vocally, a firewalk on coals sort of deal, where every word can sway the moment from dark song to bright song and back again. This is the beauty of style which Dust Buns uniquely possesses; writing confusion into familiar forms and doing
so with poise. The best music is the hardest to categorize, and I find it very tricky with Dust Buns.
Lyrically honest and smart, the songs seem to focus on an exceptionally down-to-earth sentiment; understanding home in big Minneapolis houses crammed with roommates, finding pets in dumpsters, simply being Dust Buns (‘Hot Cross Buns’) and constant allusions to winter, which brings me back to the first point, these songs are fighting the seasons, while other bands ignore them for make-believe sunny skies.
Coming late January / early February on Cassette from our very own, CLOSET GOD. Preorders here: www.closetgod.bigcartel.com
I’ve been totally slacking on updating this, but here’s why:
CLASSIC GOD is turning into a record label. Full on.
5 Tapes / 1 LP coming in 2013.
In September, I had the weird pleasure of going on a short tour with what I consider one of the weirdest musicians in the world today, Idaho Joe Winslow. Our time together was heavily influenced by our mutual paranoia and characterized by the strange conclusions that come from that kind of thing. Joe preferred sleeping in the car to sleeping on couches. He would spend whole days soldering contact mics on his invented instruments. He would pull over with no warning to find us a spot to crash in abandoned state fairgrounds at 8AM and turn around when he realized the tents had been used to house livestock. He also had a broken ankle the whole time we were on tour and the limping countenance of a lumbering giant.
Joe is one of the few legitimate outsider artists in music. His songs are so far removed from any beaten path that he transcends ‘experimental musician’ and enters that realm that is insanely hard to describe in booking emails. The collection of bizarre far-eastern oscillators, arabic sampling casios, singing bowls and gongs that surround him do a good job of masking Joe’s intent in his aesthetic, but keep looking: Under the drones and unique vocal stylings are lyrics that come from real introspection of the very confusing parts of our minds; the places where we don’t understand why we’re here or how we relate to the world or what to do next, whether that be moving away from Oakland or considering the implications of how a certain kind of burrito will affect your day. Joe finds these little questions and turns them into important statements, and all the while you wonder where the hell this dude came from. One song’s only lyrics are:
‘See the light at the end of the tunnel. Your whole life at the end of the tunnel. Don’t go, heaven’s a booby trap.’
And that’s the dance song. Other classics include ‘Joe’s Dead’ and ‘Joe Phone Home’.
Idaho Joe Winslow has one album, Smoke Your Fear, which he has been handing out for 4 years now. When I crashed at his place in Oakland there was barely any floorspace thanks to boxes and boxes of the 500 more copies he had just ordered. On the road, he gave away his whole supply and never asked for money for them. Joe’s goal is not to conquer the world with music, but to have his songs heard by as many people as possible, and I really believe him when he says that. He’s got a real job as a railroad electrician in a rough part of California, and though he’s surrounded by lunatics at work, the dude is still huffing along, dropping off his records at college radio stations and playing the occasional show in the bay area.
You can find some songs from Smoke Your Fear here:
And theoretically order the LP from this place:
My friend Jess Buns from Minneapolis told me about a dream she had where this there was this annual Depeche Mode cover contest and this band Claps had won it the last three years in a row. This year she decided to enter and spent a lot of time learning all the songs from Violator but got too stoned and forgot all the lyrics. Claps made fun of her and won a sweet trophy. Buns insists that they would never do this in real life. I was there too because you cannot have a Depeche Mode dream without me.
I’ve heard of Claps a lot but I assumed it was in that internet way where you get invited to a billion events on facebook and eventually absorb the names of every band everywhere and assume they’re famous. Well maybe they are! Today they’re playing at the Minneapolis Institute of Art! I don’t think our local art museums would ever have a cool band play at them. If you live in Minneapolis, go see them, even though you probably already have.
Their album ‘Wreck’ is killer too. Check it out here: