I started playing bass guitar in the late 1980’s, around the same time as the funk punk / funk metal craze was beginning to gain popularity.
I wasn’t deliberately trying to imitate anybody in particular, although I did get compared to Les Claypool and Flea quite a bit.
I don’t slap nearly as much as they do, just a little bit… as an accent.
But, admittedly, funk music is part of my repertoire.
I grew up on bass players in the 1970’s like Rick James, Bootsy Collins, Larry Graham.
Hell, even the Bee Gees had some good songs.
Add to that funky punks like Mike Watt (Minutemen / Firehose), Rob Wright (NoMeansNo), Larry Boothroyd (Victims Family), and Jah Wobble (Public Image Ltd.), then it is no surprise that I sometimes got lumped in with guys like Flea & Claypool.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are okay, I guess.
They have always had a great rhythm section.
Without Flea, their band is nothing.
The RHCP’s songwriting, though, has always been kinda…. mehhhh.
Most of it kinda sucks.
A weird thing about them is that their best albums are usually released just after they have replaced yet another guitarist.
They use them up like batteries, sorta, and have to keep changing them to be any good.
Honestly, Anthony Keidis and Flea are the Beavis & Butthead of the group.
Keidis is an annoying asshole and Flea is an idiot, like his retarded friend.
Maybe their personalities suck the life out of guitar players.
I gotta respect Flea as a musician, though.
He did evolve over time, grew as a player, and was never half bad to begin with.
The dynamics of their guitars, created by original guitarist Hillel Slovak, has always been impressive too, no matter which replacement has copped his style.
The Island of Misfit Noise went through many permutations during its original 15-year run.
MarshaKat and myself were the the only constants of the group, a bassist and keyboardist who both played some guitar.
The name changed a few times before we finally settled on the IOMN.
Now, it is not as much of a real band as it is a recording project, with many contributors coming and going.
I still wish that I could have made it work somehow.
One element that I wanted very badly was having two drummers, who could play some interesting rhythms that would be impossible for a single percussionist.
I dug bands that had double-drumming lineups, like Grotus, the Melvins, the Butthole Surfers, the Boredoms, … Hell, even the Grateful Dead, the Doobie Brothers, the Allman Brothers, and James Brown’s backing band the JB’s all had two drummers.
Unfortunately, finding any drummers around the Detroit area who are into that sort of thing was nearly impossible.
We had it going like that a few times.
It was great while it lasted.
But, they always quit before we could accomplish very much together.
Finding even a single drummer was sometimes difficult because, as one guy put it, my ideas were “too big and weird.”
I guess projecting a bunch of surreal film footage on a wall behind the band is too ambitious for some.
I eventually built my homemade ShitKit drumset because it didn’t look like we were getting anywhere without a dedicated percussionist.
I preferred the clunkiness of hitting pieces of scrap metal over the sound of commercially-bought cymbals anyway.
But, I am a shitty drummer and I know it.
For awhile, we had one guy named John Pirog – who’s only job was breathing fire and smashing shit up, like old TVs and guitars.
It was pretty cool, while it lasted.
But, he left to go make independent horror movies instead.
I thought it would be cool to maybe have three guitarists, one playing a classic Gibson SG through a Marshall amp, one playing a modified Les Paul with a Line 6 Variax installed inside hooked up to a really good quality Line 6 guitar/amp/effects emulator rackmount, one playing a Roland-Ready Fender Stratocaster with a bunch of Roland guitar synths and emulators, etc.
Either we could have had guitarists double on keyboards & samplers or simply had a dedicated keyboardist.
Currently, I kind of make-do by making sound collages on tapes and playing them back on my Dictaphone machine.
Will the IOMN ever be a real band again?
It is always possible I guess.
Will it ever be what I have pictured in my head?
It will just be whatever I am able to scrape together at a given time.
So, I will have to get-by, doing what I can alone, recording lots of stuff and maybe performing what I can as a one-man-band.
The Grammy-nominated singer writes about the darker side of her creativity
I don’t like to give credit to anything that’s dark or twisted like bipolar disorder: it’s a dangerous disease, statistics show that 1 In 4 people die from it by taking their own lives. But my doctor tells me that it’s a double edge sword – it’s not a good thing that I have it but I can be thankful because it’s a big part of my creativity.
I have to take medication regularly and this has had an impact me in a good way, artistically speaking. Before I was on medication the mania was so bad that I couldn’t concentrate, so although I’d feel very creative I could never really finish a piece of work because my mind was moving so fast.
I had so much anger and judgement towards myself for my work not being up to the standard that I expected it to be, so I wouldn’t allow myself to complete anything. And usually when I would be able to complete something would be when I was in a depressive state.
Grammy-nominated artist Beth Hart
Now that I’m on medication I still get the mania and depression because the medication doesn’t cure it, but it makes it so much more manageable. I can complete all the work that I start and if I am struggling to complete it, it’s really my own psychological things that are getting in the way.
It’s very important for me to do things like talk therapy. That’s where you begin to see the walls that your illness has put up as a way to protect yourself… but of course those walls also keep us from getting to the truth of things. When I’m on tour, one of the lovely things about meeting journalists is that it’s kinda like its own therapy so I can still feel in a secure place.
My doctor said when I’m feeling good, it’s not healthy; it’s mania but could be early stage mania which is hypo-mania, you feel very elated and have many ideas.What’s dangerous about that is that when you have the type of bipolar I have (Bipolar 1 Rapid Cycling), the early bouts of my mania feel fantastic and then very quickly it stumbles to be very spiralled out; paranoia, fear, even hallucinations at times.
Now I’ll go into what is called “spinning thoughts” that I cannot turn off in my head. until I go to the piano. Then I’m really able to be creative. Although I take the medication which has made a huge impact on my life in a positive way, still, honestly, when I’m a bit sick is when I’m at my most creative.
I didn’t think of my songwriting or music when I received the diagnosis of bipolar, what I thought of was “thank God”, there is an answer to why I have felt the way I have felt for so many years, since childhood.
I was so incredibly ashamed of myself, all growing up and through my 20s I thought I was a bad seed.
Once I heard this bipolar diagnosis it helped me to see that a big part of the illness is having self-hatred and self-doubt, which is why suicide rates for bipolar are so high, so this brought me great comfort.
When I’m in the mindset of either depression or mania, which is what really funnels my creativity, I will complete a song that day.
So I tend to become very obsessive and not leave the piano until I do – however when I come across pieces that I’m working on and I see that I’m struggling to find the lyric… that may take a year to write.
But no change or shift in mood takes me away from that once I start on it. If I’m feeling balanced I will probably leave it alone for a few weeks, and then once I go back I will shift back on the piano, and I will become very vigilant on figuring out that piece.
Beth Hart is playing an intimate sold out show at the Union Chapel on 14 December
For more information on bipolar disorder you can visitMind.org.uk
[Editor’s note: Anxiety and depression affect everyone differently — but dealing with both is extremely common. Nearly one-half of people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety and depression are deeply personal, and although this list represents only one experience, we hope you find some solace in knowing others might be going through what you are.]
Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed
1. It’s freaking out at the idea of getting anything less than a stellar score on a test, but not having the energy to study.
2. It’s having to stay in bed because you don’t have the will to move, but unraveling at the thought of what will happen if you miss school or work.
3. It’s feeling more tired the less you move, but your heart racing at the thought of taking the first step.
4. It’s getting more tightly wound the more mess piles up, but only staring at it and thinking, I’ll clean tomorrow.
5. It’s making six million to-do lists just to untangle your thoughts, but knowing you’ll never actually cross anything off.
Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed
6. It’s believing that every canceled plan will end your friendships, but not having it in you to follow through.
7. It’s feeling hopelessly low that you’re still goddamn single, but canceling every first date because the thought of going through with it gives you heart palpitations.
8. It’s fearing every day that your partner will get fed up and leave, but your anxiety whispering in your ear that they deserve better and should.
9. It’s ignoring texts and turning down invitations, and it’s aching when the texts and invitations stop.
10. It’s the constant fear of winding up alone, but accidentally isolating yourself because you sometimes just need to hide from it all.
Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed
11. It’s wanting nothing more than to crawl home and sleep at 2 p.m., but your skittering, panicked pulse keeping you awake at 2 a.m.
12. It’s alternating between feeling paralyzed in the present and scared shitless about the future.
13. It’s not enjoying the good days because you’re too gripped by the anxiety that the next low is around the corner.
14. It’s sleeping too much or not at all.
15. It’s needing a break from your racing thoughts, but not being able to climb out of the pit of yourself.
Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed
16. It’s needing to do everything, but wanting to do nothing at all.
17. It’s coping mechanisms and escapism, because when you’re not trying to hide from one part of your brain, you’re hiding from the other.
18. It’s wondering if the things that are making your heart feel heavy are things your anxious mind just made up.
19. It’s sitting awake at 3 a.m. worrying about a future you’re not even sure you want to have.
20. It’s feeling too much and nothing at all at the same time, which means feeling like you can never win.
But you can. And you will. You’re not alone.
To learn more about depression and anxiety, check out the resources at the National Institute of Mental Health here and here.
If you are dealing with thoughts of suicide, you can speak to someone immediately here or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which you can reach at 1-800-273-8255.
If you want to speak with someone anonymously, go here for additional help.
Life is funny sometimes. It lands some odd coincidences in my lap a lot, it seems.
I had never listened to The Clone Defects, although they have been around the Detroit scene for a number of years. I did not know that guitarist / vocalist Timmy Vulgar was also in a bunch of other local groups. He has been around the block as much as I have (and then some). I also did not know that he & I had met before, when he was in his first band The Epileptix. I still have their debut 7″ EP that I purchased from him. We talked about the band Chrome and guitarist Helios Creed a little bit. That is all that I remember from our encounter.
Anyway, I got an invitation on Facebook to see his most recent band Timmy’s Organism play at the UFO Factory next month. I did a little research, and dang! This is my kinda guy. Mostly, he plays a kind of psychedelic punk and employs the style of low budget freakishness that I am known for. If he ever needs a bassist, or wants to collaborate, I think I am up for it… if he is.
Thus far, I hadn’t given the plot of our film much thought beyond the original premise that I gave TomCat Z. and John Pirog. I had assumed that we could just continue to add material until we had enough for a complete film. It is possible that we may still follow that method to some degree. It may be a financial necessity. But, it also occurred to me that having a few characters that we could build stories around wouldn’t be a bad idea, either. I mentioned the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and all those 1990’s bands who styled themselves as superheroes for examples.
One of my big influences on The Island of Misfit Noise movie is Japanese Tokusatsu (特撮) shows like Ultraman, Giant Robot, and the Godzilla / Mothra franchises.
Oh yes, there will be giant fighting robots and monsters. There will be.
If this is a group of heroes getting into constant trouble, I could sorta model them after characters from Doctor Who, Star Trek, Lost In Space,Josie And The Pussycats, and Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, always arriving somewhere new and finding some shit to get into. If they are musicians, there will be four of them, like The Monkees or The Beatles. Each has their own character archetype, skills and abilities, like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or The Marx Brothers. When they get into deep shit beyond their capabilities, the giant robot comes to save them. Also, the robot is a fill-in drummer, because he keeps excellent time and doesn’t get tired. They are constantly losing and replacing drummers, like Spinal Tap.
Other big influences of mine is, of course, cheap B-movies and television programs. Sid & Marty Krofft‘s 1970’s Saturday morning children’s shows comes to mind as an excellent example. I even called the IOMN movie “H.R. Pufnstuf on crack”, once or twice.
So, there will be lots of green screen, cheap sets, cheap costumes, cheap, cheap, cheap. It is very likely that almost everything you see is gonna be made of cardboard, tinfoil, and papier-mâché if it isn’t something found or outright stolen.
Before we get started putting together any props or shit, I may publish the IOMN comics in my zine, Thee Urban SpaceCat. At the very least, it will give me an opportunity to work out some things that will eventually wind up in the movie. The Walking Dead TV series began as a comic. Hell, most of the movies out lately are based on comic books. They must be doing something right. It is also fitting, because the zine began as a concept for a comic book and I will probably be publishing through a printer that specializes in comic books. So, there is that too.
I do not know where all of my old tapes are. Here are a few. Despite my reputation as a pack rat, I do discard and lose a lot of important things. There is still a lot here to dig through, some dating back to the 1970’s. There are more recent ones laying around from making memos to myself, quick jams, meeting up to jam with various musicians, etc.
I learned to read music in elementary school. I forgot how, though, after years of just jamming with bands who couldn’t read. Also, transcribed music never felt like an accurate representation of “music”, to me. I always visualized music in waves, shapes, and colors, like a rainbow oscilloscope!
John Cage wrote music kind of like that. I preferred how he wrote down music. It just made more sense to me than traditional transcribed music.
Tatsuya Yoshida seems to have been influenced by Cage a lot. He even wrote a tribute song, composed in John Cage’s style. Of course Tatsuya Yoshida’s biggest influence would seem to be Christian Vander and Magma. His group, Ruins, borrows Magma‘s compositional style almost completely, adapting it to fit a drum & bass duo.
Tatsuya Yoshida From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tatsuya Yoshida (吉田達也 Yoshida Tatsuya?) (born in Kitakami, Iwate is a Japanese musician; drummer and composer who is the only consistent member of the renowned progressive rock duo Ruins, as well as Koenji Hyakkei. He is also a member of the progressive rock trios Korekyojinn and Daimonji. Outside of his own groups, Yoshida is renowned for his tenure as drummer in the indie progressive group YBO2, a band also featuring guitarist KK Null, whom he also joins in the current line up of Zeni Geva and he has played drums in a late edition of Samla Mammas Manna. He has been cited as “[the] indisputable master drummer of the Japanese underground”.
Along with his participation in bands, he has also released several solo recordings.
I like the “cut & paste” style of composing. It offers a lot of freedom. I mean, it is nice when a complete song just hits you all at once. But, that seldom happens when playing in a group. I would be lucky if I found a really good drummer that I found a good groove with. Maybe composing alone will help me write more easily. I have plenty of raw material that I can draw from.
Comparative Anatomy are another group that I have liked for many years. Their 2010 CD Mammalian is really good. I have been waiting ever since for a follow-up album, which never seems to come.
They are an experimental drum & bass band from Charlottesville, Virginia. Known for their elaborate costumes, absurd humor, simple but diverse textures and unique sound, the band has become known in the experimental and noise rock scenes for their outlandish performances. Their early work has been referred to by reviewers as a “patchwork, cut-up style” similar to bands like Mr. Bungle, but recently they have created their own unique sound with robotic sounding bass lines, frenzied loops of animal samples, and beat-focused drums. To date, they are the only band to consistently use animals for vocals, recording their sounds in a variety of settings and programming them to the music, often altering the sounds and layering them in their more recent work.
Comparative Anatomy started as an experiment in 2009 between the two main members, Sir Puffers Rabbinald the Third and Ron Chickenbaby. At this time, the band name was not yet chosen. The original line-up went through several guitars and one real drummer, all of who were eventually eliminated. After deciding to work alone, the group took a different route, eliminated guitars altogether and moved away from the quirky, death metal sound where they started as well as completely scrapping vocals. Their musical direction began to take an experimental, drum & dual-bass approach utilizing special tunings, a drum machine, and various samples from a variety of sources. They’re known for its odd humor, which relies heavily on absurdist and quasi-dadaist dialogs with the crowd and symbolism focusing totally on animals.
During live performances, Comparative Anatomy is known for wearing costumes, which were at first simple designs made with dismembered, stuffed animals, but eventually became elaborate and full-body pieces hand-made by the two main members featuring everything from top hats to black metal guantlets. In addition, their live act involves a set of films and animations created by the band that follow the music and are projected behind them on a giant screen.
Another cool thing about them that I like very much is that they tour in a refurbished ambulance, playing their music over the PA system as they approach their performances.
If you ever wonder what a Mike Nobody solo performance looks like, without a real band onstage, this probably isn’t far from it… minus the costumes.
In the 1990’s, there were a number of bands who styled themselves as cartoonish action heroes, complete with a theatrical image and fictional backstory (GWAR, Supernova, The Aquabats, The Cocktails, The Amino Acids, Man or Astroman?).
I am not sure if this is the legacy of KISS or The Monkees.
The nice thing about these groups is that they are fun, for starters, and make additional income for the artist through merchandising. I wrote about merchandising before. Yes, there is a dark side to avoid. But, there is also potential to have a lot of fun with it. Comic book culture thrives on it. Go to any comic-con and check out the mountains of stuff available for almost any property. I cannot help that the inner geek in me likes collecting things. I blame Star Trek and record collecting for getting me started on that.
Mog Stunt Team were one of these groups, and were also close friends of mine.
I liked their music and whole schtick. But, I always felt like they put most of their energy into an image and not their music. I believed that I could write better songs, for sure. Bassist / vocalist Kenny Mugwump must have sensed this on some level, because he often asked for my opinion about stuff and wanted my input. I regret that I never asked to join their group. But, I was a bit intimidated. These were old pros with management, years of experience in a number of bands, touring, getting signed to labels, etc. I was just this weird kid who hung around a lot and helped when they needed a favor.
I kinda forgot about these sort of groups for awhile, then realized that The Aquabats were still kicking, and had their own TV show for two seasons! Christ, how did I miss THAT? I did a little research and discovered that the lead Aquabat, Christian Jacobs, was a former 1980’s child actor. He tried making a go of The Aquabats band for a couple of years in the 1990’s, unsuccessfully. In 1998 they made a failed Aquabats TV pilot with Bobcat Goldthwait. In 1999, he tried pitching Yo Gabba Gabba! to the networks instead. After belatedly appearing on the internet for a few years, it was a big success. Afterward, he was asked what his next project would be. So, he simply dusted off his VHS recording of The Aquabats! Super Show! and tried that again 15 years after it was originally made. Ta-Dah!
Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to make The Island of Misfit Noise sort of like these groups. The IOMN movie certainly shares some of the same influences. I don’t want to wear costumes onstage or anything like that. But, I think that I could create different characters that we could make toys out of and stuff like that. Sorta like The Archies or Josie and The Pussycats. That could be fun.
As a kid growing up in the 1970’s-1980’s, I knew even then that most of the cartoons on TV were just half-hour commercials for toys. It was a little annoying, sometimes. I mean, c’mon, they made a TV show about a talking Rubik’s Cube! Really?! The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were one of these shows. Literally, the show was only made so they could make toys. But, damn if it wasn’t still a good show! I think the fact that they had already developed it as a successful comic book for a few years gave them the chance to flesh out the characters more.
Anyway, I still look forward to writing songs with anyone who wants to add them into this. Not sure what will come of it. But, we will see.
As those pseudonyms may suggest, the group took a cavalier attitude to their craft, producing a series of unclassifiable songs which have confused critics in and outside of Japan’s borders – the band themselves dubbed it ‘Cyber-punk-techno-core’. They had unusual instrumentation. No drums, for one thing. But, they also featured a gasoline-powered guitar and flamethrower trombone.
In 1994, musician and music engineer Steve Albini flew to Japan in order to record the band’s second album 7-Toku. Shortly after the album’s release Screaming Stomach, who had grown tired of the band’s cacophonous sound, left the band. This resulted in a collaboration with Mount Shasta of Chicago, forming the supergroup Shakuhachi Surprise:
Jason Benson – drums, percussion
Carl Brueggen – guitar
Captain Insect – bass guitar, vocals, horns
John Forbes – vocals, guitar, harmonica
Kame Bazooka – alto saxophone, vocals
Karate Condor – turntables, guitar, horns
Jenny White – guitar, bass guitar, vocals
I actually like this collaboration even more than Space Streakings itself. The addition of a real drummer smoothed out the jagged edges of the stiff-sounding drum machines. Space Streakings Sighted Over Mount Shasta is the sole album recorded by Mount Shasta and Space Streakings together, released on October 1, 1996 through Skin Graft Records. It is a shame that they didn’t make any more.
After a brief tour of the United States, Space Streakings disbanded.
Here is another group that I like very much. I have been listening to these guys for years and years. Touring with them would be pretty awesome if the opportunity ever came up.
Japanese experimental punk trio Ultra Bidé was formed in 1978 by Hide Fujiwara (bass / guitar / vocals) and released their first song in 1980 on the five-band compilation Dokkiri Record. It’s sort of the No New York of Japan’s south-central Kansai region (which contains Osaka and Kyoto), and Ultra Bide’s contribution, the dissonant “1979!,” bolsters its babbling vocals and thwacking bass with thunderclaps of guitar. After the band’s debut full-length, 1984’s The Original Ultra Bide, it took them 11 years to put out another, at which point they dropped three between 1995 and 2003—and 2013’s DNA vs. DNA-c (Alternative Tentacles) is their first since then. These guys can still make a whole lot of noise (“Phase Is Massive Power Attack Weapon” consists mostly of reverberating guitar feedback), but they’re also great at cleaner, more melodic tunes built from blunt guitar jabs and driving, nimble bass lines.
For many years, they were a standard power trio of guitar, drums, and bass. But, in recent years, they have eschewed the guitar for a two-bassist lineup. It is a really bad-ass sound. Their last album was recorded entirely at home, then mixed & mastered in professional studios. Definitely my way of doing things!
Actor / singer Meatloaf was interviewed once about his music career. He corrected the interviewer, though. He said that he was an actor, who happened to play the role of a musician.
I think that is the best way to sum up David Bowie. He is a shapeshifter. Each album is a new role to play. He changes his costume and persona. He becomes a new character each time.
I don’t think I could do that. Maybe its a stubborn streak of honesty. I am just always myself. Some friends I used to have would tell me how they “grew out” of certain kinds of music. I don’t really grow out of anything. I just keep expanding my vocabulary. I kinda look at my musical tastes like the Borg, assimilating everything in sight.
So, maybe I have more in common with Locutus of Borg than David Bowie. I dunno.
Besides artists from the outsider music genre (Wesley Willis, Daniel Johnston), I have also been compared to a few other people. It didn’t always annoy me. Some comparisons were flattering, I thought. But, this is kind of how I came to be known as Mike Nobody.
Honestly, I do not know where anyone got this from. Is there a physical resemblance? I dunno. Maybe a little. I guess there are worse things than being a Goonie, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, or one of the Frog brothers from “Lost Boys.”
I didn’t mind this one very much. Kenny Mugwump ( bassist / vocalist for groups like Princess Dragon-Mom, Mog Stunt Team, Loudhouse) made this observation a few times. I don’t know why. Maybe, like Thurston Moore, I know a lot about music history and collect a lot of it.
A few pen-pals made a comparison between me and Beck, a couple of times. This is quite funny to me. I began using Mike Nobody as an ironic commentary on the whole Grunge / Loser thing. When asked what my musical style is, I used to jokingly tell people that it was just “Beck, with a bass.”
At the peak of Nirvanamania, I do not think hardly a day went by when someone didn’t tell me, “Oh, my GAWD, you are just like Kurt Cobain!” AAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGHHHHH! This annoyed me to no fucking end! I was followed and constantly harassed by a Cobain-obsessed stalker for months and months. I ended up fucking her, just to make her go away! I eventually had to move TWICE to lose her. I know that I should feel bad for saying this. But, it was kind of a relief when he died. That is about when those comparisons stopped happening.
On the upside of this, it landed me a role in a biopic about him, a few years after his death. The movie began as an independent film, then got bought by HBO (who increased our budget by a LOT). But, it seemed like the script was being rewritten every week. The story that they were going with became more fictionalized and ridiculous each time (Kurt Cobain becomes a zombie?). I got fed up with it and quit. Production fell apart shortly thereafter. However, the project started up again when they brought in Gus Van Sant to direct. The finished movie became “Last Days”. It stunk. My only regret is that, if I had stayed in the movie, I could have met Kim Gordon (bassist / vocalist from Sonic Youth). She had a role in it too.
No one ever called me by my given name, not even as a child. I later discovered that my surname is a lie (I never liked it anyway). So, I only felt like my middle name, Michael, was my real name. What eventually made me settle on using the pseudonym Mike Nobody was the recommendation from Rob Wright (bassist / vocalist from NoMeansNo) to keep it, after I sent him a letter with that as my name. Hey, it was good advice. So, it has been my pen & stage name ever since.
Separating an artist from their work can sometimes be difficult. It stirs mixed emotions and makes us question ourselves. It makes us see our heroes as the flawed human beings that they really are.
In 2015, Bill Cosby has been revealed (by his own words, under oath) to be a serial rapist. Does that mean I can’t enjoy his work anymore?
The comedy albums that he recorded, that I grew up with, are still classic. I still love them. I still like Fat Albert, The Cosby Show, and some other work that he did in film and television. But, I won’t be giving him any of my money anymore.
The Bad Brains are one of the greatest hardcore punk bands of all time. Being one of the few all-black groups in that scene certainly made them trailblazers as well. But, they are (at least they were, back in the 1980’s) extremely homophobic.
During the summer of 1982 they became involved in the Rock Against Reagan Tour, during which time they fell out with the band MDC when Rastafarian singer H.R. learned that Big Boys‘ singer, Randy Turner, was gay. H.R. and MDC‘s Dave Dictor had an intense confrontation. Upon Bad Brains‘ departure from the bill, they refused to return a loan owed to Big Boys and instead left a note that reportedly read, “burn in hell bloodclot faggot.” The incident resulted in the MDC song “Pay to Come Along.”
“First let me say I hated that whole incident. MDC adored the Bad Brains 1980-1982. After a gig where we really hit it off together in Oakland, we dropped everything in our lives to go across country on a mini tour with them on 2 days notice. Ended up playing 2 shows with them. One in Houston and the infamous one in Austin where we dropped off the tour. There in Austin they freaked out in the middle of the show about Gary Floyd’s and Randy Biscuit’s out gayness and refused to sing using the same microphone as them. The Bad Brains seemed to always have these much younger people in the scene around them. And it seemed no would call them on their bullshit. We were about the same age as them and a bit more politically sophisticated then the typical people in the DC and NY scene.
I only felt mistreated in that they came into a show that MDC and others had set up and hurled a lot of insults and anger towards our friends. Insults like “All gay people are blood clot faggots and they should be put to death.” It wasn’t like they expressed that they didn’t like gay people and disapprove of their lifestyle. It was wishing death for the singers of two of our favorite bands in our original punk rock home town. It was sad to see it all go down and didn’t feel good at all. It was confusing that we could adore and agree with people about many political topics including human rights, yet disagree about homosexuality. With HR-Joseph we have never resolved anything, but with Darryl and Dr Know (the bassist and guitarist), we all expressed regrets on the topic years later.”
P.M.A. (Positive Mental Attitude) my ass!
Politically conservative rock & roll musicians are an oddity. Rock & roll, by definition, is anti-authoritarian and anti-conservative. Ted Nugent, Lee Ving, and Johnny Ramone never seemed to understand that.
I don’t understand how Alice Cooper, Dave Mustaine, or Ozzy Osbourne can go on about Christianity and keep a straight face.
Some artist’s work can also be questionable (or just plain vile). But, I may appreciate certain aspects of it, regardless.
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead has long been criticized for his collection of Nazi paraphernalia. But, no serious person believes that he holds any sympathies for them or their ideology.
Lemmy From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Lemmy collects German military regalia, and has an Iron Cross encrusted on his bass, which has led to accusations of Nazi sympathies. He has stated that he collects this memorabilia for aesthetic values only, and considers himself an anarchist or libertarian, and that he is “anti-communism, fascism, any extreme,” saying that “government causes more problems than it solves”.
Jeff Hanneman, the late founder of the thrash metal band Slayer, befriended Lemmy due to their shared fondness for collecting Nazi memorabilia. According to Keith Emerson’s autobiography, two of Lemmy’s Hitlerjugend knives were given to Emerson by Lemmy during his time as a roadie for The Nice. Emerson used these knives many times as keyholders when playing the Hammond organ during concerts with The Nice and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, often before destroying them.
Some stuff that I like, I know is just totally horrible and in bad taste. It doesn’t make me a bad person, though.
Overall, if you don’t want to support someone because they offend you, then don’t. Save your money. Give it to someone more worthy. Meanwhile, enjoy whatever art & music that you enjoy. If other people don’t like that, fuck ’em.
One band that I was in played at a party once. The host was mixing our soundcheck and the guitarist complained about the bass being loud. We were at the same volume. “Feel the bass! Feel the bass! God of thunder-r-r!” I said in my best Gene Simmons impression. Lower frequencies only “sound” louder, because of the increased air pressure. Know your physics.
My first bass (in the late 1980’s) was a 1970’s Gibson Ripper. The kind that Gene Simmons played on “KISS Alive!” Someone had modified it, adding a precision bass pickup in the middle. It had a solid set-neck maple body and sounded really good. It was only $100 dollars. They currently sell for thousands of dollars (no thanks to Nirvana and Green Day!). I had been playing guitar for a few years. But, I equally wanted to play both. Lacking much money, I tried to maximize the interchangeability between them. I purchased a 1960’s Guild Thunderbass amplifier head on a brand new crate 4×12, useful for both basses and guitars. I later also bought a 1970’s Rickenbacker 4001 bass. I got a good deal on it, just a few hundred dollars. I had to liquidate most of my possessions a couple of years ago, to avoid homelessness, and they were sadly sacrificed with some other gear that I miss.
I began playing bass around the time that the funk metal craze happened (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Faith No More, Primus). I liked those bands. But, I can’t really say that I tried to emulate them. I wanted to find my own voice, instead. My playing style got compared to Les Claypool a lot, even though I never slapped as well or as often as him. Maybe it was just because I played a lot of notes or something, instead of just playing the root note of the rhythm guitar. Maybe it was the only popular frame of reference people had. Anyway, I always looked to other players for little tricks or techniques. Most players use just their middle and index fingers. What I picked-up from Claypool was using ring-middle-index instead, making triplets and odd-meter rhythms easier to play.
I later discovered country guitarist Danny Gatton’s fingerpicking style, including the thumb like a banjo player. I am still working on that.
But, I usually reserve fingerpicking for when I am playing with a dry signal, no distortion or effects.
I prefer using a pick, recycled copper-nylon 1mm, to get more attack and articulation.
I prefer ground wound strings (GHS Brite Flats are the most readily available), brighter than flatwounds, but smoother than roundwounds.
I also looked for ideas to set my rig up with, borrowing and improving upon the peculiarities of some favorite bands and musicians. I was trying to fuse my guitar and bass set-ups together. Partially, this was because I was too poor to dedicate equipment money to both individual instruments. But, also, because I was trying to be more independent, relying less on another guitarist or another bassist. This, of course changed my playing style a little, as they were both sounding more alike. I never liked playing big chords on guitar a whole lot, except as a punctuation or color. But, I also didn’t like playing too many single notes on the bass, adding more chords to it.
Funk and jazz players usually got a good groove going. Admittedly, so did some disco and new wave players. Punk and metal players had the energy and heaviness. Progressive rock players had sophisticated compositions which were challenging. Blues, folk, and country players had soul. I try my best to integrate everything together.
I like to build-up a foundational base on something, a skeletal framework (like the rhythm section), and decorate it like a Christmas tree.
I am not a very good improviser, I admit.
If I have to come up with something on-the-fly I am more comfortable just playing a simple rhythm (or random noises) with a good drummer. Jam sessions aren’t always productive with me. But, I always try remembering to record everything when practicing. I can take that material back later, cut-and-pasting what we have got into a song. I call this “making Jam-Paste.” It is a slow-w-w-w-ass process though.
I work better alone. But, paradoxically, I often need someone around for motivation or I get depressed and nothing happens. I am trying to write more independently. But, it is taking me a long time to get used to it.
Noise is what punk rock wishes that it could be, but never will.
I believe that the use of noise to make music will continue and increase until we reach a music produced through the aid of electrical instruments which will make available for musical purposes any and all sounds that can be heard.
Noise music From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Noise music is a category of music that is characterized by the expressive use of noise within a musical context. This type of music tends to challenge the distinction that is made in conventional musical practices between musical and non-musical sound. Noise music includes a wide range of musical styles and sound-based creative practices that feature noise as a primary aspect. It can feature acoustically or electronically generated noise, and both traditional and unconventional musical instruments. It may incorporate live machine sounds, non-musical vocal techniques, physically manipulated audio media, processed sound recordings, field recording, computer-generated noise, stochastic process, and other randomly produced electronic signals such as distortion, feedback, static, hiss and hum. There may also be emphasis on high volume levels and lengthy, continuous pieces. More generally noise music may contain aspects such as improvisation, extended technique, cacophony and indeterminacy, and in many instances conventional use of melody, harmony, rhythm and pulse is dispensed with.
The Futurist art movement was important for the development of the noise aesthetic, as was the Dada art movement (a prime example being the Antisymphony concert performed on April 30, 1919 in Berlin), and later the Surrealist and Fluxus art movements, specifically the Fluxus artists Joe Jones, Yasunao Tone, George Brecht, Robert Watts, Wolf Vostell, Dieter Roth, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Walter De Maria’s Ocean Music, Milan Knížák’s Broken Music Composition, early LaMonte Young and Takehisa Kosugi.
Contemporary noise music is often associated with extreme volume and distortion. In the avant rock domain examples include Jimi Hendrix’s use of feedback,Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, and Sonic Youth. Other examples of music that contain noise-based features include works by Iannis Xenakis, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Helmut Lachenmann, Cornelius Cardew, Theatre of Eternal Music, Glenn Branca, Rhys Chatham, Ryoji Ikeda, Survival Research Laboratories, Whitehouse, Brighter Death Now, Merzbow, Cabaret Voltaire, Psychic TV, Blackhouse, Jean Tinguely’s recordings of his sound sculpture (specifically Bascule VII), the music of Hermann Nitsch’s Orgien Mysterien Theater, and La Monte Young’s bowed gong works from the late 1960s. Genres such as industrial, industrial techno, lo-fi music, black metal, sludge metal, and glitch music employ noise-based materials.
Pop music (a term that originally derives from an abbreviation of “popular”) is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form in the Western world during the 1950s and 1960s, deriving from rock and roll. The terms “popular music” and “pop music” are often used interchangeably, although the former describes of music that is popular (and can include any style).
As a genre, pop music is extremely eclectic, often borrowing elements from other styles such as urban, dance, rock, Latin, and country; nonetheless, there are core elements that define pop music. Such elements include generally short to medium-length songs written in a basic format (often the verse-chorus structure) as well as the common employment of repeated choruses, melodic tunes, and hooks.
Art and commerce have always had a shaky relationship.
During the renaissance, artists were supported by wealthy benefactors, kings and merchants. Now, art is just another commodity on the market. Artists have to sell themselves to be supported. Every dollar has strings attached, though.
There is a scene from “Man On The Moon” where Andy Kaufman (Jim Carrey) is fired from a club gig because of his stubborn refusal to conform. I couldn’t find a video clip online, unfortunately. But the exchange with the club owner goes like this:
Andy Kaufman: So, Mr. Besserman, same spot tomorrow?
Mr. Besserman: I don’t know, Andy. I think I have to let you go.
Andy Kaufman: You’re firing me? You don’t even pay me.
Mr. Besserman: I don’t want to be insulting, but your act is like amateur hour. Sing-alongs for six-year-olds……puppets that aren’t funny, playing records…?
Andy Kaufman: But it’s original. No one’s ever done it. I’m not like everyone else.
Mr. Besserman: Everybody else gets this place cooking.
Andy Kaufman: I thought it was cooking. There was a man really upset.
Mr. Besserman: He stormed out, and other people left during your act. I can’t sell booze to people who–
Andy Kaufman: It’s about booze. Not comedy, not art?
Mr. Besserman: I can’t sell booze when you’re singing “Pop Goes the Weasel.” I’m running a business. It’s show business. Show. Business. Show. Business. Without the business, there’s no show. And there’s no show for you.
My experience dealing with the “legitimate” side of the music business has not been very pleasant. Half the time, clubs will try to rip you off. I got the sense that they were really mafia fronts for drug smuggling or human trafficking. I overheard talk about some clubs blacklisting bands for playing at DIY shows.
When I tried to book shows myself, I mostly got rejections everywhere because I was too different from what they wanted, except pay-to-play venues. Fuck that. So, I played coffeehouses and parties when I could. Hell, I even played in parking lots, anywhere with electricity.
I would rather avoid the “business” side of music, if at all possible. I am very suspicious about people wanting you to sign a contract or join something. I know that it is often necessary. But, I prefer to do things DIY when possible.
Some artists have done pretty well by this work ethic; Big Black, Fugazi, Crass, NoMeansNo, etc.
Is compromise sometimes necessary? Maybe. But, it usually better not to be put into a situation that forces you to.
Redd Kross is an American alternative rock band from Hawthorne, California, who had their roots in 1978 in a band called The Tourists, which was begun by brothers Jeff and Steve McDonald while they were still in middle school. With the addition of friends Greg Hetson and John Stielow on drums, the band’s first gig was opening for Black Flag.
With deep connections to influential groups like Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Bad Religion, Off! (and even the White Stripes), Redd Kross are a band that I can relate to for a couple of reasons:
They began very young (11 and 15), performing in a hardcore punk scene full of adults.
They’ve had a thousand different drummers and lead guitarists.
They embrace campiness and 1970’s pop culture.
They are not afraid of change, trying new musical styles.
They wrote a song titled “Notes and Chords Mean Nothing To Me”.
They are punks with long hair, like moi.
They are still at it, decades later, with little or no recognition to show for it.
Overall, I dig their pop catchiness and the colorful retro presentation that they usually bring.
To me, rock & roll is like a musical Rosetta Stone.
It has co-opted everything in its path, blurring the distinction between genres and cultures.
There are fewer degrees of separation between musical artists than Hollywood actors and Kevin Bacon.
Because I like so much different music and want to play it ALL, I have always relied on other musicians to filter it, molding it into whatever style we were going to perform together.
Also, other musicians may be more skilled at performing different styles than I am.
Frank Zappa set such a high standard for people to join his band that he, himself, admitted that he couldn’t pass the audition.
I never had such a luxury.
I just had to work with whoever would work with me and try to make the most of their talents.
Writing music by myself, I have more freedom to work without having that filter.
But, the limits of the technology available is still a factor.
Having only one performer (me) is a factor.
The skills that I possess (or the lack thereof) is a factor.
So, will it really sound the way I want it to?
I don’t know.
All I can do at this point is continue to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.
Polystylism From Wikipedia:
Polystylism is the use of multiple styles or techniques in literature, art, film, or, especially, music, and is a postmodern characteristic.
Some prominent contemporary polystylist composers include Peter Maxwell Davies, Michael Colgrass, Lera Auerbach, Sofia Gubaidulina, George Rochberg, Alfred Schnittke, Django Bates, Alexander Zhurbin, Lev Zhurbin and John Zorn. However, Gubaidulina, among others, has rejected the term as not applicable to her work. Polystylist composers from earlier in the twentieth century include Charles Ives and Eric Satie. Among literary figures, James Joyce has been referred to as a polystylist.
Though perhaps not the original source of the term, the first important discussion of the subject is Alfred Schnittke’s essay “Polystylistic Tendencies in Modern Music (1971)”. The composers cited by Schnittke as those who make use of polystylism are Alban Berg, Luciano Berio, Pierre Boulez, Edison Denisov, Hans Werner Henze, Mauricio Kagel, Jan Klusák, György Ligeti, Carl Orff, Arvo Pärt, Krzysztof Penderecki, Henri Pousseur, Rodion Shchedrin, Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Slonimsky, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Igor Stravinsky, Boris Tishchenko, Anton Webern, and Bernd Alois Zimmermann.