Usually, I am classified by my contemporaries as an outsider artist and musician. Davin Brainard (time Stereo) and Warren DeFever (His Name Is Alive) observed that I do not intentionally TRY to be weird, that I just naturally AM….. making comparisons to Wesley Willis and Daniel Johnston. “Cute, cool, and creepy”, is how my nieces describe me. I guess that I will just go along with those assessments.
Bass, Baritone, and other Guitars /
Electronic & Junkyard Percussion /
Sound Collage & Production /
Keyboards & Toys /
Plunderphonics & Noise /
Songwriting & Composition /
Words & Vocals /
Mixed-Media Paintings & Other Art
I enjoy creating what I refer to as Prog-Punk Noise-Rock, a pastiche of almost everything that I listen to from a wide range of genres. I have collaborated with many other artists and utilize an unusual hybrid bass + guitar rig.
I have always been deeply into art and music; drawing, painting, playing with tape recorders and making noise. I built my first guitar from a badly beaten-up body that I found in someone’s trash. A friend’s dad gave me the electrical guts from an unknown 1950’s guitar. Additional parts were purchased from a music store and improvised from pieces of junk.
When I was a kid, back in the 1980’s, I was just a runt of the Detroit hardcore punk / heavy metal scene . Lacking enough money to buy any really good equipment, I purchased a cheap microphone at a pawn shop and passed myself off as a vocalist. I sang in whatever groups that I could find, to gain experience and learn whatever that I could. Mostly, it was shitty cover bands, playing in basements, getting yelled at by uninvited drunks that we suck. Eventually, I improved my bass & guitar skills, playing in many short-lived groups that went nowhere.
I wrote for The Jam Rag, a widely-read local music paper, while still a teenager, making friends with other musicians and artists along the way. During the 1990’s I was a cameraman, roadie, and occasional collaborator with Princess Dragon-Mom, Mog Stunt Team, His Name Is Alive, etc.. I also performed in a few experimental noise groups; Bionics, Edible Audio, Fresh Farm Raised Catfish, etc.
The Island of Misfit Noise began in the summer of 1998 with only Mystic MarshaKat and myself. She played keyboards & guitar. I played bass & guitar. Our duo’s name changed a couple of times, before settling on the IOMN. We had both been members of N2-Submission, featuring The Impaler “Detroit’s Vampire Poet”. Other musicians came and went during a period of 15 years, with the both of us being the only constants of the group. She finally also left in early 2013.
MarshaKat and I remain friends. She is an experienced professional photographer and business manager, among many other skills that she possesses. She will probably continue to assist me in some capacity, just not as a full-time band member.
I resurrected the IOMN as a “virtual band” recording project in late 2014, with collaborators from Michigan to Australia. Exchanging music back-and-forth online until we had completed enough songs for the EP, “Stone Soup & Mulligan Stew”. The style of music we made is very freeform. Depending on the contributions put into it, it can range from pop-sounding and accessible to extremely noisy and irritating. A few members from the IOMN have joined me in other projects. Some of them have experience in film & television and are working toward producing a low-budget science fiction movie with me, appropriately titled The Island of Misfit Noise.
After years of trial-and-error, I have come to the conclusion that I simply lack the necessary social skills to keep a stable group together. I tried for ages to put an ideal band together. But, I could never manage it, not for very long. I am focusing on composition and recording, for the time being. I will return to live performance again when I am certain that the project won’t immediately disintegrate. Assembling the right line-up and keeping it intact is a huge obstacle. I would like to eventually have a live group again:
- Myself on bass / vocals / tapes.
- An open-minded creative drummer, who could easily switch between different styles. Someone who is comfortable playing with additional percussionists, drum machines, tapes, samples, noise, etc..
- Two or three guitarists who also contribute additional percussion, keyboards, samplers, or other instruments.
Maybe I will just go back to replacing musicians as I go along…. again. I thought about possibly booking a few shows, playing 1/2 a set alone. Then, whoever is willing to get onstage with me, whoever shows up, can join in as part of the band. It is not the greatest idea. But, it is the best that I can come up with right now.
Some of my current projects;
- Mike Damn Nobody is the moniker of my harsh noise project, similar to artists such as Merzbow, Masonna, Solmania, Hanatarash, C.C.C.C., MSBR, Incapacitants, Evil Moisture, The Haters, etc.. I might book some gigs for this again, eventually. Recordings are available digitally and also as “RecycleTapes”.
- Thee Urban SpaceCat (Cassette-Zine) is an upcoming publication of art, music, commentary, found objects, and almost anything else packaged with a cassette tape or compact disc. I intend to publish an issue every three or four months (depending on my finances). It is intended as an outlet for all of my artistic endeavors in one package, modeled after the letters that I have sent to pen-pals for decades.
- The Island of Misfit Noise comics, movies, and all manner of media
♛ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ♛
I have received some frequently asked questions from collaborators. So, I will just add this here… if anybody really wants to know:
Gear Geek Stuff:
I don’t have anywhere to jam, just an apartment.
I have two multi-track machines;
- one cassette (Tascam 488 MKII 8-track Portastudio)
- one digital (Roland VS-1688 Digital Audio Workstation)
On my computer, I use whatever freeware programs that are available. I also collect various cassette, microcassette, and reel-to-reel tape recorders.
I don’t have very high quality microphones;
- an old abused Radio Shack mic
- another stolen from a karaoke machine
- and several cheaper models scattered around
- I also have a modified telephone receiver, with an XLR jack installed.
I prefer recording electrical instruments directly through preamps or Line 6 PODs and mic-ing up a “room sound” for acoustic tracks. Analogue tape is good to get a saturated compression sound, well-suited to percussion instruments or creating other tape noises. Digital is good at getting a cleaner sound. I’m recording the bulk of my material at home with whatever tools that are available to me, then adding overdubs and finishing the final mixing somewhere with a good engineer and higher quality facilities.
I used to have a homemade drum kit, affectionately referred to as my “ShitKit”. It was a hodgepodge of cheap drums acquired from the Salvation Army for $50 dollars. Instead of cymbals, I added pieces of scrap metal and junk, for a clunkier sound. Unfortunately, it was mistakenly hauled away by scrappers from a friend’s garage. I am trying to rebuild another, gradually, but have nowhere to practice.
I have some cheap keyboards and electronic drum pads. I am collecting different models of drum machines and samplers as I go along. If I had the money, I would like to invest in a proper drum kit of my own someday. I prefer acrylic drums, for their tonal consistency and durability. Zickos invented them and are the best, IMHO. I am also impressed by the Korg Wavedrum Global Edition, Roland SPD-30 Octapad, and Roland TD-12 V-Drums.
I am always making improvements to my setup. I would like to build custom instruments for myself, eventually. I will have to get by with what I have, until I can afford it. I would love to add other instruments to my arsenal; maybe a Rickenbacker 4001 bass, a Fender Bass VI, or a Fender Baritone Guitar.
I play the bass and guitar more alike each other than most players do, I think. My rig has evolved over time into something unusual, combining bass & guitar together. I split the instrument signal three ways, with various effects, into a “sonic sandwich”;
- one through a bass amp (SWR)
- one through a lead guitar amp (Marshall)
- one direct to PA (Line 6 POD)
Vocals are divided between ordinary vocal microphones and a modified telephone receiver through various effects.
Miscellaneous samples and noise collages are prepared on cassette tapes, then replayed with a pair of foot-controlled Dictaphone machines, fed directly into the PA.
I have two basses;
- a 1987 Guild Pilot with tremolo bar
- a Jay Turser “Beatle Bass” knock-off
The shorter-scale viola style bass is intended for playing cleanly, three-fingerstyle. Typically, I use recycled copper/nylon picks with the Guild Pilot, for more attack and articulation.
I have a Line 6 Variax guitar, to acheive a wide variety of tones.
I also have an Ibanez RX-Series guitar with a Seymour Duncan Humbucker installed at the bridge. I usually keep it tuned down to “Drop-A”, like a baritone, because I’m too broke to buy a real one.
An unknown acoustic guitar sits in the case most of the time.
Past experiments in circuit-bending and modified instrument building have yielded mixed results.
My songwriting style is a far-reaching mixture of wildly diverse sounds juxtaposed together. I like combining a bit of everything, when I can.
Sometimes it is harmonious.
Sometimes it is schizophrenic.
Sometimes it is simple and accessible.
Sometimes it is noisy and irritating
It can be almost anything, depending on the song. I am now writing within three basic categories;
- Solo. Material that I can play alone without additional players.
- Band. Material that requires other musicians to perform live.
- Album. Material that is very difficult or impossible to be played live at all, recorded solely for album releases.
If there were references that I could make to my “sound”, it would be a pretty damn long list. Some notable influences include;
- Alice Donut
- Bad Brains
- Bad Religion
- Jared Warren (KARP, Big Business, Melvins)
- Bootsy Collins (Funkadelic)
- Bran Flakes
- Robert Smith (The Cure)
- Brian May (Queen)
- Buzz Osbourne (Melvins)
- Captain Beefheart (The Magic Band)
- Carl Stalling
- Chris Squire (Yes)
- Chuck Mosley (Faith No More, Bad Brains)
- Cliff Burton (Metallica)
- Comets on Fire
- Comparative Anatomy
- Cop Shoot Cop
- Crash Worship
- Daft Punk
- Dale Flattum (Steel Pole Bath Tub, Tumor Circus, Milk Cult)
- Daniel Johnston
- David Bowie
- David Grohl (Scream, Nirvana, Foo Fighters)
- Dennis Dunaway (Alice Cooper)
- Destroy All Monsters
- Gerald Casale (Devo)
- Bob Log III (Doo Rag)
- Doug Henderson (Krackhouse, Spongehead)
- Dust Brothers (Beastie Boys, Beck)
- East Bay Ray & Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys)
- Einstürzende Neubauten
- Evolution Control Committee
- Fat Mike (NOFX)
- Wayne Coyne (The Flaming Lips)
- Frank Zappa (Mothers of Invention)
- Geddy Lee (Rush)
- Geezer Butler & Toni Iommi (Black Sabbath)
- Gene Simmons & Ace Frehley (KISS)
- Greg Ginn & Kira Roessler (Black Flag)
- Hazil Adkins
- Helios Creed (Chrome)
- Hide (Ultra Bidé)
- Holy Fuck
- Ian Mackaye (Minor Theat, Fugazi)
- Ichirou Agata (Melt-Banana)
- Iggy Pop & The Stooges
- Jaco Pastorius (Weather Report)
- Jad Fair (1/2 Japanese, Strobe Talbot)
- Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead)
- Duane Denison & David Wm. Sims (The Jesus Lizard)
- Jimi Hendrix
- Joey Shithead Keithley (D.O.A.)
- John Bonham & Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
- John Oswald (Plunderphonics)
- John S. Hall & Bradford Reed (King Missile)
- John Zorn (Naked City, Painkiller)
- Juan Garcia Esquivel
- Kevin Rutmanis (The Cows, Melvins, Hepa/Titus)
- Larry Graham (Sly & the Family Stone, Graham Central Station)
- Kevin Strickland & Larissa Strickland (Laughing Hyenas)
- Lemmy Kilmister (Motörhead)
- Les Claypool (Primus)
- Lightning Bolt
- Black Pus
- Malcolm Young & Angus Young (AC/DC)
- Marc Bolan (T. Rex)
- Mark Sandman (Morphine)
- Masahiko Ohno (Solmania)
- Curt Kirkwood & Cris Kirkwood (Meat Puppets)
- Masami Akita (Merzbow)
- Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, Tomahawk)
- Mike Watt (Minutemen, fIREHOSE)
- Omoide Hatoba
- Pat Smear (Germs, Nirvana, Foo Fighters)
- Paul Leary (Butthole Surfers, Melvins)
- Pussy Galore
- R. Stevie Moore
- Raymond Scott
- The Residents
- Rob Wright & John Wright (NoMeansNo)
- Roky Erikson (13th Floor Elevators)
- Root Boy Slim & The Sex Change Band
- Scott Lucas (Local H)
- The Shaggs
- Shannon Selberg (The Cows, Heroine Sheiks)
- Shonen Knife
- Six Finger Satellite
- Skeleton Key
- Sonic Youth
- Kim Thayil (Soundgarden)
- Space Streakings
- Stan Lee & Leonard Graves Phillips (The Dickies)
- Stanley Clarke
- Steve Albini (Big Black, Rapeman, Shellac)
- Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd)
- Tatsuya Yoshida (Ruins)
- They Might Be Giants
- Thin Lizzy
- Throbbing Gristle
- Tom Morello & Tim Commerford (Rage Against The Machine)
- Tom Waits
- Tragic Mulatto
- Victims Family
- Violent Onsen Geisha
- Wesley Willis
- Wildman Fischer
- Yamatsuka Eye (Boredoms, Hanatarash, UFO or Die)
- Zach Hill (Hella)
- Zen Guerrilla
- ZZ Top
, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.
In the past, I bounced my ideas off of other bandmates to get a feel for what their capabilities and preferences were. I depended very much on their input to filter my ideas through, to find the direction that we were going in. It helped to motivate me. I was constantly trying to get feedback and be as democratic as possible. But, this approach also greatly slowed us down, frustrating everyone. In hindsight, it was kinda like driving a car with the parking brake always on.
I have been diagnosed with severe depression, social anxiety disorder, and have obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Left by myself, I don’t accomplish very much. Paradoxically, I am more prolific when others get out of my way and let me work alone. It is a Catch-22 that I have been unable to escape. I am changing my methodology, being more decisive and writing more independently. It is taking time for me to adjust to this.
My skills are pretty good, not virtuosic… but still pretty good. I think that I am a better bassist than a guitarist. Most musicians that I have worked with never used sheet music and I am out of practice. Although, I would like to get back into the habit again. I don’t believe that I am very good at improvisation, though I have done it when required. If I have to make up something quickly, on the fly, I am more comfortable making simple rhythms and random noises.
I tried for years and years to arrange dual drummers together, Grateful Dead style. It was great while it lasted. We had a Miles Davis “Bitches Brew” kinda jam happening a few times. But, most drummers are simply not into that, apparently. Maybe if the guitarists were to double on extra percussion, part-time, then the main drummer would still be interested. I have been told that drummers often prefer to be guitarists, that this is a common thing. I suppose that makes some sense. But, I really prefer someone who enjoys drumming. Someone who spends time improving their skills, y’know?
I tried to take up drumming. But, my foot coordination was terrible and I ended up positioning the bass drum sideways, timpani-style, playing it like Moe Tucker (Velvet Underground). If I am just recording all of the instruments by myself, I am unsure if I could accomplish everything that I want to.
My vocals tend to be on the high and nasally side. I sometimes give it a little growl on the low end, with effects added.
There are not many groups that I believe I would fit into if I didn’t begin from scratch. I never had any delusions about “making it big”. I am content if I make enough money to cover expenses, have a good dinner, and pay a few bills. I have two Facebook groups to exchange music and talk (one public, one private).
If you want to check out upcoming events, or items available, add yourself to my mailing list.