Today’s Blog

Music For The People

I haven’t posted much on my website blog in awhile. I have kept myself fairly occupied most of the time, despite outward appearances.

I’ve finally closed the door on The Island of Misfit Noise, as a recording group for good. It is still the title of a no-budget movie and comic book. But, for the purposes of collaborating with other musicians, it has outlived it’s usefulness. I will think of something else if I need it. I’m currently working on a new album with some friends and am keeping an eye out for available musicians to perform live with again.

My disability pay has not come yet. I’m annoyed. A mistake has been made by the Social Security Administration. I updated my account information with them over a month ago. But, they deposited this month’s payment into an account that is no longer active. I called their office and the bank. Hopefully, it will be straightened out soon. I need supplies to work on a few projects and it is holding me up. I have a lot of stuff to catch up on;

  • This week’s mail is ready to go out as soon as I get some postage.
  • My homemade drum kit (aka The ShitKit) is coming along really well. I need to get some parts from a hardware store to put it together.
  • I’m working on a short film to submit to a film festival next month. I need a few items for building props, sets, puppets, etc.
  • I have some incomplete paintings that require art supplies.
  • Someone is offering a free drafting table on Craigslist. I’m out of gas, though. Hopefully, it will still be there when I can refuel again.
  • I need funds to send my zines to the printers, if I am to have them ready in time for upcoming events.
  • I have VHS tapes that need to be transferred to my computer for editing. But, the VCR needs cleaning badly and I can’t find any tape head cleaners anywhere. I gotta get replacements.
  • Of course, there is also the matter of monthly bills and mundane household things; rent, phone, internet, debts, medications, food, dish soap, cat litter, paper towels, toilet paper, car insurance & license plate renewal, etc.

I recently sent out an email to those on my mailing list with a few details of upcoming events and a plea for financial support. I doubt that anybody will take me up on it. But, it never hurts to ask.

I’m writing a new horror story to be made into another low-budget movie, after “The Island of Misfit Noise” film is finished. It is a little more ambitious. It will actually require a REAL budget and not be made piecemeal like the IOMN.

Another project that I will undertake, a little bit later, is a compilation LP.  It will be funded collectively by the contributing artists. Everyone submits a song or two and their share of the budget to produce it. After the vinyl is pressed, everyone gets their percentage of the finished product, to sell at gigs. It is an old method of doing things, that I have participated in before. Another share of the records will be sent out for promotion, through radio and press.

But, before I embark on these and other projects, I need to finish up a couple of things and sort out my financial situation. I have enrolled in a debt consolidation program. So far, my credit cards seem to be under control. But, I have yet to get my payday loan debts arranged. I don’t believe that I can do that this month, because I have to buy a car insurance policy to renew my license plates. We will see how that comes along. Anyway, that is what I’m doing lately.

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Is There a Mike Nobody Sound, or Visual Style? Maybe.

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When I am jamming with other people, they motivate me and kinda help focus what I am doing.

So, I am always bouncing ideas back-and-forth with them, trying to see where their talents and interests are.

If half of the group is into a specific style of music, that gives me a vague reference to work from.

I know what will work and what won’t.
My improvisational skills are kinda crappy, I admit, though.

Ironically, I need people to get out of my way and let me work alone when I am writing original music.

Cutting & pasting jam sessions into songs kinda works.

If I have no one to work with at all, I am kind of at a loss.

The music can go in all sorts of different directions.

So, finding my own “sound” can be difficult sometimes.

I am trying to shape what I do into a cohesive sound of my own, without tying my hands too much.

I would like to maintain the freedom to play whatever that I want.

Near as I can figure it, I guess that I kinda sound a little like Beck with a weird bass setup and tapes, maybe.

My working process, and limited resources, probably have more to do with any style that I may have than anything else.

I don’t have a drummer.

So, for percussion I must rely on drum machines, keyboard sounds, and whatever found objects that I can bang on.

I do not have other band members.

So, I rely on recordings of myself on guitars, noises, and assorted samples, to fill out the sound.

Compositionally, I like the cut & paste approach of artists like Magma, Cardiacs, Omoide Hatoba, Boredoms, Melvins, Ruins, Mr. Bungle, Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention, John Zorn, Carl Stalling, etc. and “mixtape style” of the Butthole Surfers, Ween, Faith No More, David Bowie, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, etc.

I like a mixture of Hi-Fi and Lo-Fi in recordings = Mid-Fi!

But, I prefer a specific squashed compression sound found on early Primus, Ween, and Butthole Surfers records.

I was able to ask guitarist / producer Paul Leary once about how he achieved that sound for the Butthole Surfers.

He said it was due to cheap tape recorders, and only having one microphone.

So, I think they recorded directly from their preamps a lot.

I know that Primus did.

That works great for me, since I only have shitty cheap microphones anyway.

Vocally, I have a kinda nasally high-pitched voice that I never liked.

Kind of a bit like Neil Young, Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips), Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Curt & Chris Kirkwood (Meat Puppets), Marc Bolan (T. Rex), etc.

Although, I try to give it a little bit of a Tom Waits-like growl on the lower end.

I guess that I compensate for my voice with cheap microphones and whatever vocal effects that are available, trying to bury it.

Visually, of course, everything is very cheap by necessity.

I like papier-mâché and cardboard props and sets.

Puppets and miniatures can be very useful, too.

Green screen, data-bending, and other cheap effects.

My mixed-media paintings and artwork kinda have a cheapniz aesthetic, too, I suppose.

I use stuff from thrift stores, hardware stores, dollar stores, and found materials a lot.

I tend to visualize the exterior world, the “real” world, in black & white colors.

A cold, decaying, dying, world.

The interior world, the world of the mind and imagination, by contrast is warmer and more colorful.

It is vast and endless.

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I will probably post more about my gear setup & playing techniques later.

Spring Has Sprung

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I was watching some YouTube videos lately.

I got very annoyed.

Other bands are doing stuff that I wanna do.

But, they keep beating me to it.

I hate when that shit happens.

Maybe it is just that everything has already been done to death and we keep repeating and reinterpreting what came before us.

I dunno.

I know that, financially, I am gonna be screwed for the foreseeable future.

I am robbing Peter to pay Paul for as long as I have to.

I seriously doubt that I will break even before summer begins.

I keep putting off working on and publishing the zine until I can get ahead a little.

But, that doesn’t look like it is going to happen very soon.

I may do a cheaper version, than what I had in mind, until it begins to pay for itself.

Just a thought.

I will probably raid my boxes of old tapes that I have in storage and dig around for some incomplete material to finish.

I have a lot of it, going back nearly forty years.

Since I have been tinkering with the analogue multi-track machine, maybe I will include some fresher stuff with it, too.

I dunno.

A guitarist whom I have not played with in years contacted me and is eager to jam again.

So, maybe he can give me a morale boost and help me get my shit done.

Maybe.

I am always willing to jam with other people if they are interested.

I need to find somewhere that I can paint and make loud noises too.

Maybe somebody can help me with that.

The Island of Misfit Noise Movie and Comix

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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.

Tatsuya Yoshida, John Cage, and Boxes of Tapes

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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.

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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.

Mike Damn Nobody Returns!

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I think that, until I get some songs completed, I will accept new offers for gigs… performing improvised noise as Mike Damn Nobody again.

If I can get a new ShitKit started on, I will use it for percussion while I add other noises.

Max Grean (Uncle Ghoulie) said that he would help me to acquire an old gas tank from someone in Clarkston.

If I can get that, it will help me a lot.

I may do something akin to Black Pus (drums + vocals + noise), but perhaps more chaotic.

Comparative Anatomy

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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.

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