“All the various styles are organically connected to one another. I’m an additive person—the entire storehouse of my knowledge informs everything I do. People are so obsessed with the surface that they can’t see the connections, but they are there.” ~ John Zorn
“Cute, cool, and creepy”, is how I have been described by some folks.
Usually, I am classified by my contemporaries as an outsider artist-musician.
Davin Brainard (time Stereo) and Warren DeFever (His Name Is Alive) observed that I do not intentionally TRY to be perceived as weird, that I just naturally AM….. making comparisons to Wesley Willis and Daniel Johnston. I guess that I will just go along with those descriptions.
Mixed-Media Paintings, Music, Videos, etc.;
Bass, Baritone, and other Guitars /
Electronic & Junkyard Percussion /
Keyboards & Toys /
Plunderphonics & Noise
I enjoy creating what I refer to as “Prog-Punk Noise-Rock”, a strange pastiche of many styles. I have collaborated with plenty of other artists.
I have always been obsessively into art and music; drawing, painting, playing with tape recorders and making noise. I built my first guitar from a badly beaten-up body & neck 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 that I found.
When I was a twelve year old 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 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 and made friends with other 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 and I played bass & guitar. Both of us were formerly band members in N2-Submission, featuring our ex-roommate The Impaler “Detroit’s Vampire Poet.” Our duo’s name changed a couple of times, before settling on the IOMN. Other musicians came and went during a period of 15 years, with she & I being the only constant members of the group. She 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 in some capacity, just not as a full-time band member.
I resurrected the IOMN as a recording project in late 2014, with collaborators from Michigan to Australia. We exchanged music back-and-forth online until enough songs were completed for the EP, “Stone Soup & Mulligan Stew”. The style of music we made is very freeform. A few collaborators from the IOMN have joined me in other projects. Some of them have experience in film & television and are going to be producing low-budget movies with me.
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 big obstacle. I would like to eventually have a live group again. At minimum, having a decent drummer to accompany me would be nice. I get uneasy being on stage alone. But, an ideal line-up would include:
- Myself on bass / vocals / tapes.
- An open-minded creative drummer. Someone who is comfortable playing with additional percussionists, drum machines, tapes, samples, noise, etc..
- Maybe two or more guitarists who could also contribute additional percussion, keyboards, samplers, vocals, or other instruments.
Maybe I will just go back to replacing musicians as I go along…. again. I thought about maybe booking a few shows alone. Whoever is willing to get onstage with me can join in. It is not the greatest idea. But, it is all that I can come up with for now.
Some of my current projects;
- Mike Damn Nobody is the moniker of my noise project, similar to Merzbow, Masonna, The Haters, Solmania, Hanatarash, C.C.C.C., MSBR, Incapacitants, Violent Onsen Geisha, Evil Moisture, etc.. Eventually, I might book gigs for this again. Recordings are available as “RecycleTapes”, as well as digital downloads.
- Theee Urban SpaceCat (Cassette-Zine) is a publication of my artwork, ramblings, stories, correspondences, miscellaneous found objects, music, commentary, and almost anything else packaged with a cassette tape (or compact disc) of my recordings… whatever they may be. I intend to publish an issue every three or four months (depending on available funds). It is intended as an outlet for all of my artistic endeavors combined into one package, modeled after letters that I have sent to pen-pals for decades.
- Island of Misfit Noise is a musician collective, of sorts. It is basically whoever wants to collaborate with me. No long-term commitments required.
- The Island of Misfit Noise (Movie) is an on-again-off-again film production. It is an extremely low-budget Sci-Fi Comedy (no budget?). We are working on it, one piece at a time, as resources become available.
- The Island of Misfit Noise (Comix) is a series of comics that I’m working on, at least until the movie gets made. I’m looking for zines seeking collaborations and sending out comic strips to interested parties. I might publish stand-alone comic books if people like it.
♛ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ Prog ☆ Punk 🐱 Noise ☆ Rock ☆ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ♛
Over time, I have received some frequently asked questions. So, I will just add this below, if anybody really wants to know:
Gear Geek Stuff:
I don’t have a rehearsal space, just a tiny 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 online. I also collect various cassette, micro-cassette, and reel-to-reel tape recorders.
I don’t have very high quality microphones;
- A modified telephone receiver, with an XLR jack installed
- an old abused Radio Shack mic
- another stolen from a karaoke machine
- and several cheaper models from 1970’s tape recorders scattered around
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 tape noises. Digital is good at getting a cleaner sound. I record the bulk of my material at home. Right now, I typically tape demos during the week and begin multi-tracking by the weekend. My original plan for recording was to lay basic tracks on the analogue recorder and bounce them to the digital recorder. Then, I’ll either take the tracks to someone else for mixing (maybe in a studio with a good engineer and higher quality facilities) or figure out how to do it myself.
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 scrap metal and junk, for a clunkier sound. Unfortunately, it was mistakenly hauled away by scrappers from a friend’s garage. I am rebuilding another, but have nowhere to practice.
I have some cheap keyboards and electronic drum pads. I will collect 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, when I can. I would like to build custom instruments for myself. I will have to get by with what I have, though, until I can afford them. Adding other instruments to my arsenal would be fantastic; maybe a Rickenbacker 4001 bass, a Fender Bass VI, or a Fender Baritone Guitar. Drooling over catalogs is an old pastime of mine.
My bass and guitar techniques are more similar than most other musicians, I think. The gear setup has evolved over time into an unusual hybrid bass & guitar rig, splitting the instrument signal three ways, combined with various effects into a “sonic sandwich”;
- one through a bass amp (SWR)
- one through a lead guitar amp (Marshall)
- one direct to mixer (Line 6 POD)
Vocals are divided between common vocal microphones and a modified telephone receiver. Never satisfied with the natural sound of my voice, I have employed lots of different effects in an attempt to mask it.
Miscellaneous samples and noise collages are prepared on cassette tape and played back with a pair of foot-controlled Dictaphone machines fed directly into the mixer.
I have two basses;
- a 1987 Guild Pilot with tremolo bar. I use recycled copper/nylon picks for more attack and articulation.
- a Jay Turser knock-off of the Hofner “Beatle Bass” played by Paul McCartney. This shorter-scale bass is intended for my clean finger-playing.
I have three guitars;
- a Line 6 Variax guitar, to achieve a wide variety of tones.
- an Ibanez RX-Series guitar with a Seymour Duncan Humbucker installed at the bridge. I keep it tuned down to “Drop-A” like a baritone because I’m too broke to buy a real one.
- an unknown acoustic guitar.
Experiments in circuit-bending and modified instrument building have yielded mixed results. But, I can get some interesting sounds out of them, if the darn things don’t self-destruct first.
My songwriting style is a mix of eclectic influences 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.
Any references that I could make to my “sound” 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 (Parliament-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
- Weird Paul Petroskey
- Wesley Willis
- Wildman Fischer
- Yamatsuka Eye (Boredoms, Hanatarash, UFO or Die)
- Zach Hill (Hella)
- Zen Guerrilla
- ZZ Top
- etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.
I always needed to be collaborating with somebody, whether an individual or a group. It gave me motivation. I used to bounce ideas off of other bandmates to get a feel for their capabilities and preferences, to find which direction that we were going in. I depended a lot on their input to filter my ideas through. I was always looking for feedback, trying to be as democratic as possible. But, this approach usually slowed us down, frustrating everyone. In hindsight, it was a mistake, like driving a car with the parking brake on.
My lifelong struggling with mental illness sometimes gets in the way as well. Clinical depression and social anxiety are a bad combination. Medications help to keep the highs and lows manageable. But, they aren’t a cure.
My attempts at drumming have been pitiful. My foot coordination is terrible. I ended up positioning the bass drum sideways and playing it timpani-style like Moe Tucker (Velvet Underground). My vocals tend to be on the high and nasally side. I sometimes give it a little growl on the low end. My guitar/bass playing skills are pretty good, not virtuoso… but still, pretty good. I think that I’m a better bassist than a guitarist and a better composer than a musician. I usually visualize music as sounds, in waves, shapes and colors… like a rainbow oscilloscope. I’m trying to re-learn writing sheet music. On paper, though, it always seemed too rigid to me… like piano music.
Sometimes, I’ll be jamming out some riffs to tape and later pick out the best ones to work with. Sometimes I use the Captain Beefheart / Jello Biafra method of singing everything acapella, banging on stuff, and making a lot of noises to tape, interpreting it later. On rare occasions, I’ve had entire songs pop into my head while I scramble to get it recorded before I forget.
“Thinking too much can ruin a good time” – D. Boon (Minutemen)
When I am drawing and making music, I probably do my best when my brain is turned off, just sonic finger-painting. Everything that I am doing is sort of revealed to me as I am doing it. So, I don’t really know what it is until I am finished. Conscious messages don’t work very well for me.
I would like to put out more material on a regular basis, like a daily drawing, a monthly video or blog. Something like that. I want to record a new song each week, around 50 songs per year (give or take a few). Can I stick to that goal? I dunno. For now, it seems to be happening in small bursts. Stressing-out about stuff like money, transportation, food, housing, living conditions, or other distractions mess-up my mojo too easily.
Sometimes I’m a little envious of someone like Andy Warhol, who could just constantly crank stuff out every day. That’s why his studio was called “The Factory.” I don’t really operate like that. It comes out when it wants to, not when I want to. I mean, I feel better when I’m working on something. But, I feel like shit just trying to get started. I’ve added meditation into my daily routine again, or at least I am attempting to remember to do it. I’m working on improving better methods to stay focused and avoid distractions.
I tried for years and years to arrange dual drummers together. We managed to do it a few times, which was great while it lasted. Most drummers are apparently not into that, though. I have been told that they often want to be guitarists, instead. I suppose that kinda makes sense. But, I prefer performing with someone who enjoys their instrument, who really spends time improving their skills. Y’know?
(This is an update from an old post. But, I think that the information fits better here than it did in the original. So, I deleted it.)
Having a standard uniform of your own is useful. People like Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, and Steve Jobs wore clothing everyday that was nearly identical to all of the other clothes that they owned. It saved time finding something to wear, when their entire wardrobes were virtually the same. The Science Of Simplicity: Why Successful People Wear The Same Thing Every Day
My physical appearance doesn’t change very much, day-to-day, either. Nearly everything I own is secondhand, from yard sales, garage sales, Salvation Army, Goodwill, Value World, etc. I’ve always been a t-shirt and jeans guy. The preppy look just isn’t me. I have never had enough money for that kind of style anyway. If I can’t find an outfit for under $12, I probably won’t wear it.
My typical everyday outfit includes;
- Goatee & long hair (sometimes tied back). I’ve experimented with a lot of different hairstyles over the years; a “metal mohawk” (long hair with shaved sides), perm, dreads, dyes (shocking pink, bright red, black), etc. I might dye it again, especially If I begin to get grey hair. My 80 year old grandmother stopped dying her hair after forty years, and is now completely albino white. It looks odd.
- Black goes with everything. So, taking a page from Johnny Cash, I usually go with black jeans and button shirt. Sometimes, a bumflap covered in patches is added if I’m going to be outside very much. It covers your butt from wet surfaces if you sit down.
- I like to mix it up a little with various t-shirts.
- Converse Chuck Taylors have always been my go-to shoes. Cheap and comfortable.
- Belts made from recycled rubber with a Captain America shield belt buckle look neat and spiffy. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments, surprisingly. I just thought it was reminiscent of Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) or Jim Dandy (Black Oak Arkansas).
- Red glitter nail polish. I once found a color that I really liked, “Ruby Slippers”. But, I haven’t seen any more of it, anywhere.
- Paracord bracelets and mood rings (which keep getting lost) add a little more color. The paracord comes in handy, too.
- Sometimes, I wear a homemade necklace strung with miscellaneous items; a steel arrowhead with a hundred-plus year old Indian penny stuck onto it, a green jade buddha pendant, etc.
- Keychain + wallet + cell phone pouch. Admittedly, it is cumbersome. But, I will certainly forget them somewhere if they’re not attached onto my body. It never fails.
- I bring an Everyday Carry Bag wherever I go. If I’m on a short trip it may be left behind. It should have almost anything needed in an emergency. Although, mine could use some restocking. So does my Bug-Out-Bag.
I’ve been making small modifications to my so-called image (if I really have one).
As a teenager, I was never a big fan of the “guyliner” look. It seemed too… “emo”, to me. I mean, I’ve always had an affinity for androgyny and 70’s glam rock. I’ve worn nail polish for ages. But, facial makeup seemed a little too femmy for me. It kinda grew on me after awhile, though. It looked good on Lux Interior (The Cramps), comedian Eddie Izzard, and Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers). Johnny Depp’s character Captain Jack Sparrow, in The Pirates of The Caribbean films, may have been the tipping point for me. I did a little research on kohl makeup and discovered a few things that I had not realized before. Of course, both sexes have worn it for thousands of years in South Asia, India, the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and parts of West Africa. But, the prophet Mohammed actually recommended its use, in the Qur’an. I had also previously been unaware of its properties for reducing sun glare, slightly improving vision. This is why professional athletes wear eye black. BTW, the plastic stickers worn by football players have conclusively been proven to have no such effect at all. So, you’re doing it wrong guys. I’ll keep experimenting with it. But, if I can’t find something that looks right on me I may just forget about it.
I am working on improving my hairstyle a little too, while I’m at it. My hair is very fine. There is almost no body to it at all. I wanted to make the ends curl inward, like a bob or longer bowl cut. Examples might be similar to haircuts by The Ramones or Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Willy Wonka. It will still take me a couple of tries to get it right. But, so far, even my mistakes look better than it did before.
I wanna get my weight back under control again, too. If I don’t, putting stuff on my face or fixing my hair may be completely pointless. I used to alternate between fat and skinny phases every year (Robert Smith, of The Cure, has the same problem). But, as I get older, my metabolism seems to only be getting slower. I don’t eat very much. But, I’m not active enough. Maybe getting a bike would help.
There are not many groups that I believe I would fit into if I didn’t begin from scratch. I have 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 for exchanging music and chatting (one public, one private).
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