Distorted Pony

distorted_pony

It has been quite awhile since I said anything about other bands that I like. So, I guess that it is overdue for me to mention Distorted Pony. They are an industrial / noise rock group that began in 1986, then disbanded in 1993. I began listening to them in the early 1990’s, but frankly knew nothing about them except that I liked their music. I looked into their background many many years later, after they had long since broken up. Surprisingly, they are very similar to my ideal group to be in; two guitarists, a bassist, and a guy banging on oil drums & metal junk. They began with just two people, bass player Dora Jahr and guitarist David Uskovich, accompanied by a drum machine. Eventually, they were joined by London May on drums, Theodore Jackson on percussion, and Robert Hammer on guitar.

I was also unaware, for a long time, that London May had played in so many other well-known groups (Samhain, Dag Nasty, Circle Jerks) and is an actor.

They have briefly reunited a few times, since 2010, and began to perform reunion shows. But, I think that their current European tour will be for the last time. So, check them out, if you can.

Hardhead

never-give-up-cbfb

One of my biggest strengths (and weaknesses) is persistence. I have been told several times that I “don’t know when to quit.” That can be either a good thing or a bad thing, I guess, depending on the circumstances. I may have setbacks, which slow me down, change how I do things, or have to fight with my own brain, sometimes. But, I still keep trying.

A really cool drummer guy has unfriended me on FB and dropped out of our FB group. Admittedly, it is entirely my fault. I have been lost in my own headspace again, losing touch with everybody for too long. He feels like I have used and neglected him, which wasn’t my intention at all. I honestly get fixated on one thing or another and lose track of everything else. It happens to me all of the time. Does that make me a bad person or just a bad friend?

My social skills are shit and my behavior can sometimes be erratic.
So, I don’t think being in bands long-term are ever gonna work out for me.
It never does. But, the music scene is just about the only social life that I have, playing with other musicians, performing at gigs, etc. So, I guess doing short-term projects with other people is the only way I’m going to remain active in that community. I mean, I’m stubborn. I know this shit isn’t going to work out. But, I keep doing it anyway. Maybe admitting that, to myself, is the only way for me to move forward with anything.

 

Making Movies, For the Hell of It

horror

I don’t remember how long I have been interested in filmmaking. I’ve always loved movies, of every kind. You can combine every other artform together into it, if you are creative. I never had ambitions to be an actor, though. I fell into that by accident.

As a young child living in Detroit, I fantasized about becoming a stuntman. This could be because of the then-popularity of daredevil Evel Knievel, action films like Hooper (1978), and TV shows like The Fall Guy My favorite stuntman was the legendary Dar Robinson. His untimely death after shooting Lethal Weapon (1987) permanently put an end to that idea, for me. Though, I had become far more interested in playing music by then.

The size of a film’s budget or the skill of the actors involved were never really a big deal to me, if the script was still good. A bad actor in a great movie will still get by. But, a great actor in a bad movie is totally screwed (That philosophy can be applied to so many other things). Nonetheless, I still watch a lot of cheesy bad movies, seeking out their redeeming qualities.

I don’t remember how I got into underground independent films. It may have been through watching funky old horror, science fiction, and grindhouse movies on local UHF stations as a kid (before cable TV came along). The VHS revolution in the 1980’s also opened up a whole new universe of adventurous filmmakers, no longer restricted by studio gatekeepers. My mom would bring home all sorts of insane stuff she found at mom & pop video stores. Her taste in low-budget weird movies probably rubbed off on me a lot. I grew an increasing appreciation for DIY directors / producers making their visions a reality against all odds.

The Island of Misfit Noise has evolved from a 1990’s rock band into a 21st Century multimedia project, based around making videos and movies instead of performing live. I guess, in that way,  it shares some similarities to The Banana SplitsThe Archies, or Green Jellö. Not having a permanent band makes it an ideal vehicle to try new things out and bring in different collaborators. There is also less pressure figuring out how to do everything onstage, in front of an audience.

I have no idea how to do film distribution or anything technical. It is all learn-as-I-go. I have no budget or crew. I use whatever stuff I can get for free. Does it look like cheap crap? Probably. Will anybody ever see it? Maybe. Maybe not. But, it will get done and be out there for those who are curious. It may take awhile to finish without access to those things, though.

My short video “I Dream of SpaceCat” was a good learning experience, not just in producing content. But, also in presentation to an audience. I hope to do more.

Do-Over Again

Foolish Mortal Mouth

I posted a blog yesterday, immediately regretted it, then promptly went back and deleted everything. It was just too negative (more than I usually am). I know that I can be a downer, sometimes. You don’t need to be reminded of that. But, I did want to leave a few updates for this overdue blog.

I spent a couple of days trying to shoot a vlog. But, the webcam is broken. I kept fiddling with it and looking for a software solution. It has got to be the hardware, though. Everything else is fine.

The transmission on my van is going out and the wheels wobble. I don’t know why, yet. Yesterday, I aired up a flat tire, drove my decrepit van to the post office, got the mail, changed the cat’s litterbox, fed her a can of food, busted a guitar string, wrote some letters, etc. Mostly, I’ve been sleeping a lot. I think I missed taking my meds three or four times this week, including today (and I really feel it). I hate when I do that.

Tom Zarzecki, of Death Cat, is planning another film festival later this year. I think I will pass on that this time. I wasn’t very happy with how my previous contribution turned out and the festival itself last year was kind of a bust. Practically no one but the filmmakers themselves showed up. It was an insightful experience, though. Now I’m more aware about some mistakes to avoid when I’m performing live.

My homemade drum kit (aka The ShitKit) has a problem. The bass drum pedal is totally broken. I was building a wooden base for the kit when I noticed that pieces of the kick pedal were missing. Shit. I don’t have any money to replace it. Maybe someone would accept a trade? They could possibly repair it if they have the parts.

My friend Max Grean is putting together a Glam-Core group (whatever that means). Not exactly sure where he is going with that. He asked me to contribute to it. So, I guess that I am the keyboardist. I have one decent quality keyboard (on loan from my ex). The rest that I own are cheap crap. We will see what happens.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a mixed-media painting that I finished a few months ago. It will probably end up as a zine cover, at some point, eventually. Just to have SOME consistency here, I will continue to show you my paintings & artwork in each blog, w/ a song from my record collection included. Maybe that will help me, somehow, to remain in a better mental state.

Choose Your Destiny (or It Will Be Chosen For You)

pickle rick ratfight bigger
Pickle Rick is BADASSSSSS!

Making mistakes are inevitable. You learn what you can from them and try not to make the same ones twice. But, as I’ve been told, I “never know when to quit.” I guess there are upsides and downsides to that. I’m persistent.

I’ve always hated the business side of art & music. There are some aspects that I don’t mind doing myself. But, most of it I’ve always left for someone else to handle (booking shows, collecting the door, etc.). I’m just really bad at it. But, as a club owner once told comedian / performance artist Andy Kaufman, “This is show-business. Show… Business! Show…Business! Without the business, there’s no show.” It took a very long time to beat that into my head. But, I still relied too much on others to get things done.

I’ve always known how important it is to have backup gear; strings, cords, cables, picks, etc. But, I never considered having a backup for other contingencies. A friend would set up a show for me and I’d prepare to get by at that one show. If something went wrong, though, I’d be fucked. I’ve been stood up by bandmates at booked gigs. I’ve had important pieces of equipment fail. If something CAN go wrong, it usually does.

I was, recently, reading a blog explaining the pros and cons of touring alone vs touring with a band. It got me thinking about how I can better prepare myself. I should ALWAYS have a backup plan ready for when shit goes wrong, “Always have a plan A, B, C, and D.” If an offer comes along and I don’t have a backup plan for it, then I probably shouldn’t accept it. I’m not ready. The best way to avoid this from happening is to DIY all of the work, as much as possible. If I’m bad at it, then I’ll learn how to get better. I’ve always been bad with cars, but eventually I had to learn shit or it didn’t get done…period.

If I’m setting up a show by myself, I can control the variables and take precautions. If bandmates flake out or cannot show up, I can still do it alone. If a piece of equipment fails, I can do something else instead. Whatever happens, I got this.

Part of this mindset is influenced by my “prepping hobby” or whatever you want to call it. I liked the TV show “Doomsday Preppers”, while it lasted. Sure, there were lots of nutcases on there with too much money to waste and not enough common sense. But, the general principle is a sound one, “Be prepared…for anything.” It got our grandparents through the Great Depression. The pioneers survived travelling across the wilderness because they prepared for it. Shit’s gonna happen, inevitably. What are you gonna do? Cry about it? No. If something needs to be done, get it done. No one else will do it. Think ahead, then you won’t have to worry as much.

I have repairs & replacements that need to be taken care of. But, I would like to set up a few mini-tours down the Midwest or The East Coast. Whether that is with a group or alone (or both) I’d like to somehow make that happen. If I can secure a decent-priced rental van and insurance with Roadside Assistance it would make a world of difference. Would it be a deal-breaker if I can’t? I’m not sure.

Another thing that has taken me a very long time to learn is, “If you can’t do it the way that you want to do it, find another way to do it. Then, do it anyway.” Being stubbornly perfectionist can really hold you back. I’ve had to learn that the hard way. I’ve had some great ideas which would have been fantastic to see materialize, “only if…” It’s always some details that prevented it from happening, when I could have done it in some other fashion and at least gotten SOMETHING done – instead of nothing.

This kinda goes back to my point of being more self-reliant. I’ve often needed someone around to break me out of my depression,  get me motivated, and to bounce ideas off of. If I had simply recorded & performed everything myself, all along, I could have accomplished so much more! I thought that I NEEDED other people to do things. But, I really only WANTED them. That is a big difference. It is a huge mistake to wait for anyone for anything, if you can avoid it. “Don’t wait around for help, because it isn’t coming.” Otherwise, you’ll be sitting there, forever, Waiting For Godot.

One of my favorite cartoons is “Rick & Morty.” I think that the best episode, so far, has been “Pickle Rick.” In this episode, the title character (transformed into a limbless pickle) is physically helpless, trapped down a sewer drain, but manages to save his own life through sheer ingenuity and persistence. Just like one of my other favorite TV characters, MacGyver. He could have simply despaired there at the bottom of the sewer, hopelessly crying to himself, until the rats and roaches ate his lifeless corpse. But, instead, he used his environment to escape and survive. I’m a little envious that I don’t have more positive moments like that myself. It is something to strive for, though.

pickle rick toilet
PICKLE RICK!!!

Happy Thanksgiving

I’ve been kinda busy lately, helping my aunt and ex-gf move. I was also not feeling well for a week or so. Then, my van broke down. I’m behind on my projects, including providing this month’s MP3 for Patrons. I’m doing my best to catch up.

I received a small batch of comics, recently, that I contributed to. It’s called Five O’Clock Shadow. This is issue #25. I’m including them with orders and donations on my Bandcamp page, while they last.

I am recording a bunch of exclusive music for my supporters on Patreon, as well as contributions to The Residents, David Liebe Hart (“Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!”), and some new collaborators who want to put a band or something together with me. Lots of stuff going on!

Issues of “Theee Urban SpaceCat” Cassette-Zine have been held back for an absurd amount of time, mostly for financial reasons. I’m always broke. Just to get them out there in some form, any form, I will be releasing the first couple of issues digitally (PDF & MP3). They may get printed physically at a later time. But, look on the bright side. At least you can download them instantly instead of waiting by your mailbox.

Another project that I’m working on is a series of paintings, each including a compact disc of unique material. I will show them for you on future videos. Plus, there is all of the other art that I’m making every day. So, perhaps good things are happening.

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My Routine, Paintings, Records, and Halloween

 

I’d love to get any feedback from you.

When I get stuff in the mail, it also gives me fodder for making zines and things.