I have received many questions over the years (especially from potential collaborators) about my equipment, influences, personal stuff, etc. So, I will add this below, if anybody really wants to know:
Gear Geek Stuff:
I don’t have a rehearsal space, just a tiny apartment that serves as my home studio/office (aka The Spacejunk UFO). Recording here has an unpolished lo-fi production sound, as a by-product of makeshift equipment used.
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. Mostly, it is used for sampling and drum machine programming. Two old broken boomboxes serve as studio monitors. I also collect various types of tape recorders (cassette, micro-cassette, reel-to-reel, 8-track, etc).
I prefer recording electrical instruments directly, via preamps or cabinet emulators, and mic-ing up an ambient “room sound” for acoustic tracks. Analog tape is good for getting 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. My original plan was to lay basic tracks on tape, bounce them to digital for overdubs, then take the tracks to someone else for mixing & mastering (maybe at a higher quality studio with a good engineer) or figure out how to do it myself.
I don’t have very high quality microphones;
- A modified telephone receiver, with an XLR jack installed
- an old abused Radio Shack mic from the 1980’s
- another stolen from a karaoke machine
- two USB microphones, from Guitar Hero, I think
- several consumer-grade tape recorder mics from the 1960’s-1970’s
My bass / guitar setup has evolved over time into an unusual hybrid 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)
Miscellaneous samples and noise collages are prepared on cassette tapes and played back with a pair of foot-controlled Dictaphone machines fed directly into the mixer.
I have two basses;
- 1987 Guild Pilot with Kahler tremolo. I use recycled copper/nylon picks, for more attack and articulation.
- Jay Turser copy of a Höfner’ 500/1 violin “Beatle Bass”, like Paul McCartney’s. I use this shorter-scale bass mainly for cleaner finger-playing techniques.
I have two guitars;
- Line 6 Variax, to achieve a wide variety of tones.
- Ibanez RX60, with a Seymour Duncan Humbucker I installed at the bridge. I regularly use it for alternate tuning, usually tuned-down like a baritone.
Two other guitars are currently on loan;
- BC Rich Masterpiece
- Ovation 12-string Acoustic
I prefer Ground Roundwound strings, for their smooth feel – yet bright tone. Stainless steel armored instrument cables are also very durable and minimize ground noise.
I built a homemade drum kit, affectionately referred to as The ShitKit. It is a hodgepodge of crappy drum parts acquired from thrift stores with a collection of scrap metal junk added, for a clunkier sound.
I have a Korg M3 music workstation synthesizer, as well as a bunch of cheaper keyboards and electronics to mess around with. I don’t understand how to use everything it is capable of. I need to continue reading the manual.
My collection of effect pedals and rackmounted gear varies. I have sold things when I needed money really bad. I have fried others beyond salvage. Sometimes, I can replace these. Sometimes, I can’t.
My attempts at custom-building circuit-bent & experimental instruments have yielded mixed results. I can get some interesting sounds out of them, if the darn things don’t self-destruct first.
I also have ideas for some custom basses & guitars that I would like to get professionally made. Adding other instruments to my arsenal would be fantastic.
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 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, created solely for recordings.
Lyrics are kind of an afterthought for me. I’ll write down any ideas I get and go back to them later if I am working on something. But, music comes first. Lyrics might be personal or political. They may be strange and surreal. Overall, it is “the little world”, “the big world”, and the creative use of language. Generally, the more abstract the music is, the more abstract the lyrics are as well. I like leaving things a little open to interpretation rather than always being explicit.
I’m a huge record collector and music fan. I love attempts at all genres and styles – constantly finding inspiration from albums that are just all over the map … and I’m all about that. I’m all about diversity. I’ve played with musicians from many genres. Everything in my output is interconnected. It just comes out mixed-together, filtered through whatever resources available. It’s a bit like combining Frank Zappa’s Freak Out List and the Nurse with Wound list into one mutation! Some notable influences include;
- Alice Donut
- Amon Düül
- Anton Webern
- Arnold Schönberg
- The B-52’s
- Bad Brains
- Bad Religion
- Béla Bartók
- Bebe and Louis Barron
- Jared Warren (KARP, Big Business, Melvins)
- Big City Orchestra
- Bipolar Gentlemen + Toxic Water
- Nick Blinko (Rudimentary Peni)
- Bootsy Collins (Parliament-Funkadelic)
- The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
- Bran Flakes
- William S. Burroughs
- Robert Smith (The Cure)
- Brian May (Queen)
- Brian Wilson (Beach Boys)
- Buzz Osbourne (Melvins)
- Captain Beefheart (The Magic Band)
- Carl Stalling
- Billy Childish (Thee Headcoats, Thee Mighty Caesars, Thee Milkshakes)
- Chris Squire (Yes)
- Chuck Mosley (Faith No More, Bad Brains)
- Cliff Burton (Metallica)
- Ornette Coleman
- “Colonel Tom” Parker
- Colonel Sanders
- .John Coltrane
- Comets on Fire
- Comparative Anatomy
- Cop Shoot Cop
- Lux Interior & Poison Ivy Rorschach (The Cramps)
- Crash Worship
- D.R.I. (Dirty Rotten Imbeciles)
- Daft Punk
- Dale Flattum (Steel Pole Bath Tub, Tumor Circus, Milk Cult)
- Daniel Johnston
- David Bowie
- David Grohl (Scream, Nirvana, Foo Fighters)
- Dead Milkmen
- Deja Voodoo
- 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, Alternative Tentacles Records)
- Ed Hall
- Einstürzende Neubauten
- Edgard Varèse
- The Electrifying Mojo (Charles Johnson)
- Evolution Control Committee
- Fat Mike (NOFX)
- Wayne Coyne (The Flaming Lips)
- Flying Saucer Attack
- Frank Zappa (Mothers of Invention)
- Fred Frith (Henry Cow, Art Bears, Massacre)
- The Frogs
- Geddy Lee (Rush)
- Geezer Butler & Toni Iommi (Black Sabbath)
- Gene Simmons & Ace Frehley (KISS)
- Crispin Glover
- Berry Gordy (Motown Records, The Last Dragon)
- Greg Ginn & Kira Roessler (Black Flag)
- The GTO’s
- Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill, Julie Ruin, Riot grrrl zine)
- Happy Flowers
- Harry Partch
- Hazil Adkins
- Helios Creed (Chrome)
- Hide (Ultra Bidé)
- Ian Mackaye (Minor Theat, Fugazi)
- Iggy Pop & The Stooges
- Invented Thing Quartet
- Jaco Pastorius (Weather Report)
- Jad Fair (1/2 Japanese, Strobe Talbot)
- James Joyce
- Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead)
- Duane Denison & David Wm. Sims (Scratch Acid, The Jesus Lizard)
- Jimi Hendrix
- Jojo Hiroshige (Hijokaidan, Alchemy Records)
- Joe Meek
- Joey Agresta (Joey Pizza Slice, Son of Salami, Salami Junior)
- Joey Shithead Keithley (D.O.A.)
- John Bonham & Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
- John Cage
- John Entwistle (The Who)
- John Oswald (Plunderphonics)
- John S. Hall & Bradford Reed (King Missile)
- John Zorn (Naked City, Painkiller)
- Juan Garcia Esquivel
- Calvin Johnson (Beat Happening, K Records, Dub Narcotic Sound System)
- Karlheinz Stockhausen
- Ken Butler
- Kevin Rutmanis (The Cows, Melvins, Hepa/Titus)
- Kramer (New York Gong, Shimmy Disc Records, Bongwater)
- Larry Graham (Sly & the Family Stone, Graham Central Station)
- Larry Mondello Band
- Kevin Strickland & Larissa Strickland (Laughing Hyenas)
- Lemmy Kilmister (Motörhead, Hawkwind)
- Legendary Stardust Cowboy
- Les Claypool (Primus, Sausage, Oysterhead)
- Lightning Bolt + Black Pus
- Lisa “Suckdog” Carver
- The Locust
- The Los Angeles Free Music Society
- Christian Vander (Magma)
- Malcolm McLaren (Sex Pistols, New York Dolls)
- Malcolm Young & Angus Young (AC/DC)
- Marc Bolan (T. Rex)
- Mark Sandman (Morphine)
- Jason Martin (Brown Cuts Neighbors, Power Animal System)
- Christian Marclay
- Marilyn Manson
- Masahiko Ohno (Solmania)
- Hal McGee (Dog As Master, Cause And Effect cassette label, Haltapes)
- Curt Kirkwood & Cris Kirkwood (Meat Puppets)
- Ichirou Agata (Melt-Banana)
- Masami Akita (Merzbow)
- Gary Modlinski (Junkie Munky, The Mod)
- Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, Tomahawk)
- Mike Watt (Minutemen, fIREHOSE)
- Bill T. Miller (Orgy of Noise, Out of Band Experience, Kings of Feedback)
- The Monkees
- Monty Python
- Muddy Waters
- My Bloody Valentine
- Nihilist Spasm Band
- No-Neck Blues Band
- Ohio Express
- Omoide Hatoba
- Pain Teens
- Harry Partch
- Kembra Pfahler (Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black)
- Pat Smear (Germs, Nirvana, Foo Fighters)
- Paul Leary (Butthole Surfers, Melvins)
- Bruce Pavitt (Sub Pop)
- Phil Spector
- Public Enemy
- Pussy Galore
- Quintron and Miss Pussycat
- John Spencer Blues Explosion
- R. Stevie Moore
- The Ramones
- Raymond Scott
- The Residents
- Robert Fripp (King Crimson, Fripp & Eno)
- Rob Wright & John Wright (NoMeansNo, Hanson Brothers)
- Roky Erikson (13th Floor Elevators)
- Rahsaan Roland Kirk
- Root Boy Slim & The Sex Change Band
- Corey Rusk (Necros, Touch and Go Records)
- Greg Sage (Wipers)
- Arnold Schoenberg
- Scott Lucas (Local H)
- Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh)
- The Shaggs
- Shannon Selberg (The Cows, Heroine Sheiks)
- Shonen Knife
- Six Finger Satellite
- Skeleton Key
- Sonic Youth
- Kim Thayil (Soundgarden)
- The Space Lady (Susan Dietrich Schneider)
- Space Streakings
- Stan Lee & Leonard Graves Phillips (The Dickies)
- Stanley Clarke (Return to Forever, Animal Logic)
- Russ Stedman (Teenage Slots, Minor 2049er)
- Steve Albini (Big Black, Rapeman, Shellac)
- Sun City Girls
- Sun Ra & His Arkestra
- Syd Barrett & Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)
- Tall Dwarfs / Toy Love
- The Tape-beatles
- Tatsuya Yoshida (Ruins, Zeni Geva)
- Hound Dog Taylor
- They Might Be Giants
- Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy, The Greedies)
- Throbbing Gristle
- Tom Morello & Tim Commerford (Rage Against The Machine)
- Tom Waits
- Tragic Mulatto
- Trans Am
- Velvet Underground
- Victims Family
- Voice Crack
- Violent Onsen Geisha
- Von LMO
- Wall Of Voodoo
- Andy Warhol
- Ween + Moistboyz + Z-Rock Hawaii
- ‘Weird Paul’ Petroskey
- Wendy O. Williams (Plasmatics)
- Wesley Willis
- White Mice
- Wild Man Fischer
- Iannis Xenakis
- Jay T. Yamamoto
- Yamatsuka Eye (Boredoms, Hanatarash, UFO or Die)
- Zach Hill (Hella)
- Zen Guerrilla
- K.K. Null (Nux Organization, Zeni Geva, Absolut Null Punkt)
- Zev Asher (Nimrod, Roughage, Flying Testicle, Bustmonster)
- Zoogz Rift
- ZZ Top
- etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.,..
I will play almost any instrument available to me. I might not be good at it. But, I’ll play it anyway. My attempts at drumming have been pitiful. My foot coordination is terrible. I finally ended up positioning the bass drum sideways, playing it timpani-style.
My vocal type is in the Low Tenor / High Baritone range, kinda high and nasally. But, I give it a little growl on the low end. Sometimes, I will incorporate wordless vocalization, mouth sounds, crooning, screeching, gurgling, whispering, screams, babbling, and electronic effects. It gives it more variety and masks my natural voice a little bit, which I’ve never liked very much.
My guitar / bass playing skills are, pretty good, not virtuoso… but still, pretty good. Both are pretty similar. My techniques aren’t meant for showing off, just to be used as an accent. I believe that I’m a better bassist than a guitarist and a better composer than a musician.
I used to tape our band’s jam sessions in their entirety, take that material home, then edit it into a foundation for songs. I’m not such a great improviser when multiple people are in the room, unless it is chaotic noise. I prefer composing alone, instead. It is probably better if I record things by myself, give it to others, let them pick out what they like, add their parts to it, and vice-versa.
I visualize music as abstract sounds, in waves, shapes and colors… like a rainbow oscilloscope. Tape editing / manipulation is often used as a compositional tool. Sheet music feels a little too rigid to me. I will sometimes score parts out on paper, like for percussion instruments. Sometimes, I’ll jam riffs onto demos and pick out the best ones later. Sometimes, I’ll sing everything a capella, bang on junk, make noises, and interpret 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 creating music & art, I probably do my best when my brain is turned off, just mental finger-painting, on “auto-pilot”. 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. Stressing-out about money, transportation, food, and living conditions REALLY messes-up my mojo a lot, though.
“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” – Stephen King
My drawings tend to be stream-of-consciousness, cartoonish and surreal. When I paint, it is often a mixed-media style utilizing whatever materials that are readily available; spray paint, acrylics, house paint, stencils, marker pens, found objects, and collage.
I have very little to no training at anything. I did well in high school drafting, wood shop, and art classes. That’s about it. Regretfully, I never attended an art school. I would have liked to. I am mostly self-taught, occasionally reading books on the subject. But, I don’t really spend a lot of time trying to figure out what’s up with art these days. I do not have much interest in current trends.
My work could be categorized as Abstract, Outsider, Pop Art, Art Brut, Raw Vision, Folk Art, etc.. These are labels found in the art world. To me… art is art… I’m an artist who is still looking for the right label only because everybody wants descriptions. They want you to EXPLAIN to them what it is that you do. People love folk and outsider art because it is spontaneous and devoid of most influences. Most people think that I’m pretty weird, anyway.
In the past, my paintings & drawings were usually given to friends or destroyed and discarded. I started selling them locally in the 1990’s. But, not really understanding how the professional art world works, I only sold items in person at music venues or record stores, wherever I happened to be. I’ve been reluctant to take it any further than that. But, there seems to be a growing interest in my stuff. So, I’m making it more available.
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 and brainpower finding something to wear, when their entire wardrobes were virtually the same.
My physical appearance doesn’t change very much, day-to-day, either. Nearly everything I own is secondhand; from yard sales, garage sales, estate sales and thrift stores. I’ve always been a t-shirt and jeans guy. If I can’t find an outfit for under $12, I probably won’t buy it.
Sometimes I’ll try out new things, making small modifications to my so-called image. None of this is permanent. But, my typical everyday outfit includes;
- Goatee & long hair.
- Black jeans with a black button shirt (black goes with everything).
- Converse Chuck Taylors, with boot laces, have always been my go-to shoes.
- Belts adorned with a Captain America shield buckle.
- Mix it up a little with different t-shirts.
- Red glitter nail polish and a mood ring adds some color and sparkle.
Personal / Rules of Conduct:
My lifelong struggling with mental illness sometimes gets in the way. Clinical depression, social anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive tendencies are a debilitating combination. Medications help to keep the highs and lows manageable. But, they aren’t a cure. Music & art is my other world that I live in.
I seldom drink alcohol (preferably alone, when I do) and I loathe beer. I don’t smoke tobacco or abuse any drugs. It doesn’t really matter to me if anybody else does, unless it gets in the way of working or becomes obnoxious. Marijuana and hallucinogens are more tolerated than harder drugs.
I have little patience for perpetual fuck-ups who will constantly flake out on me. A policy that I am now implementing is No collaborations without a deadline. I have been told that this was one of my mistakes when dealing with previous bandmates. I guess that I left everything too open-ended. People require deadlines to get them off of their ass, apparently. That might be true. Unless someone says something to me, I will probably work alone and take forever doing it. I am still interested in making music & art with other people. But, I think establishing a time frame for collaboration projects would make them go along faster.
I am an atheist. I don’t believe in whatever Hell you think I’m going to, let alone your invisible friends. You can believe whatever you want to believe. But, if you’re a religious zealot (i.e., fundamentalist creationists who think that the flat Earth is 6,000 years old or 72 virgins await them in the afterlife because they won’t eat bacon) I would prefer not to hear about it.
I am open to different ways of thinking – but aggressive sexism, racism, homophobia, or trans-phobia is not tolerated. I am LGBTQ-supportive and have friends from all sorts of different backgrounds. Bigots are not welcome. Go away.
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” or getting rich. Earning a decent living as a self-employed artist-musician would be great, if possible. I am content if I make enough money to cover expenses, have a good dinner, and pay a few bills.