Damn! I wish that this coronavirus pandemic were just an elaborate prank. That would have been awesome. Self-isolation hasn’t changed my life one iota. It does mean that some friends are now unemployed, bored, with nothing to do. So, they want to collaborate with me, again, playing rock and noise. At least that motivates me to get more stuff done. So, I’m actually a little happier with that aspect of this. The empty streets and parking lots are a bit of apocalyptic fantasy fulfillment for me, too, without the zombies or vampires.
I am spending some time taking stock of the progress in my various projects. It helps me to re-evaluate and refine my workflow, from time to time. The changing landscape caused by COVID-19 is a pretty good reason to plan out a new approach to everything, right now. Many venues, comic book shops, book stores, art galleries, etc. are not going to make it through the effects of this pandemic. The economy, and everything it touches, are going to be drastically transformed. The old models of doing everyday activities, of making and performing our art, are not going back to business-as-usual. The next couple of months are going to be VERY interesting.
People are stuck at home, with nothing to do. So, I hope to produce more completed work to post online. That is where the audience is going to be, for awhile. Maybe when this plague blows over we will be out playing house parties or something, until regular venues can make a comeback.
Anyway, I will share some music from my collection with you. This is Local H and Britney Spears, each doing Toxic. I have been in a Britney Spears mood lately. Dunno why.
This was originally intended for a compilation. But, I missed the deadline. So, I reworked it into something different, a bit longer, for an upcoming issue of “Theee Urban SpaceCat” #3 cassette-zine. I’m working on more material that I can perform live. But, this plunderphonics style track is still pretty good and I didn’t want to waste it.
Time still flies when you aren’t having any fun. I am absolutely certain that time speeds up as you age. That is why old people wear clothes that are out of style. It was still in fashion just a minute ago, for them.
I was planning to include a vlog today, since vlogging is meant to be half of these posts. But, honestly, I don’t have anything worth videotaping right now. I also don’t have any new paintings to show.
2019 is speeding by, just like the past few years have. WTF is wrong with me? Besides the usual shit? Things actually are going pretty okay right now. I had a few rough months between December and February. That mess is finally settled, notwithstanding my growing piles of debt.
I have a list of folks waiting for Theee Urban SpaceCat cassette-zine. I have been digging through stacks of demo tapes and gigabytes of incomplete data trying to finish it. I have enough material already done for a complete issue or two… or three. But, I have spread it out over several zines. I didn’t like the way it was when I compiled it all together. So, I am filling each issue, finishing each song, one-at-a-time. A friend suggested that I do this to get myself focused, instead of hopping all over the place like I usually do. Get one thing done. Then, move on to the next thing. This approach seems to be pushing the process along, I suppose. Creating the equivalent of two double albums every few months is kinda hard when doing it all alone and you keep shooting yourself in the foot. Everything is absurdly late getting it out.
I asked around about getting my mixes mastered. But, I cannot afford to do it, not entire albums anyway. I might have one or two singles mastered for radio… maybe. The rest will just have to be a raw mix.
I am waiting for the government to process some of my tax shit, so I can finish setting up the business side of things. They’re still catching up from the Trumptard shutdown a few weeks ago. It has delayed everything. I’m never happy dealing with that sort of stuff. But, I anxiously want to get it done and out of the way.
Here is a Daniel Johnston song from my record collection for you. I get the same feeling myself sometimes. I am always starting my life over again… and again… and again… and again….
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.
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.
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 Splits, The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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, , 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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I know that I need to put myself out there more if I want to accomplish my goals. My natural inclination is avoid everybody, though.
Procrastination is another big problem of mine. I “rack disiprine.”
I try REALLY hard to do better. But, I’m my own worst enemy. I self-sabotage everything.
I have put myself on a regular schedule, of sorts, to take care of everyday things, so I don’t have to think about it much. I make myself a daily to-do list. Otherwise, I don’t think I’d get anything done. But, it isn’t foolproof. I still get sidetracked with something else a lot. I tend to fixate on something, to the exclusion of everything else, and lose track of time.
I was thinking about the creative process, the thinking process. If I document it, publicly, maybe this will help to keep me motivated, creative and honest. When I write to friends or collaborate with other people I seem to get more stuff done. It helps, I guess. I might be less likely to throw everything away before I’m finished.
I’m blogging for my Patreon-supporters (the Superduper Secret SpaceCat Blog) almost every week-ish . I share things to keep it interesting.
I had a busy week or two, making a bunch of horror movie themed paintings for a show at the Phoenix Cafe’ and putting together a short movie for the Planet 9 Film Festival. Now that it’s over I’m catching up on neglected housework and van repairs.
Moving on to the next thing or so;
Working on issues #1-3 of“Theee Urban SpaceCat” cassette-zine. It has been held up for a ridiculous length of time already. It was always my intent to publish new issues every three or four months. But, I never have any money to do so. I’m considering just posting MP3/PDF versions online until I can get enough cash together. I have a growing backlog of material to do something with or discard.
Building new custom instruments, ShitKit 2.0 and miscellaneous noise machines. Everything was taking up space and had to be moved. My grandmother needs her garage back.
“The Island of Misfit Noise” movie might make a little more progress. The recent experience of making and showing a short film has been educational.
Recording new music for collaboration albums: David Liebe Hart (“Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!”) and The Residents!
Of course, I will continue to collaborate on other things as well. I may have found a new drummer!
I doubt if I will perform alone again for awhile. Had a bad experience a few weeks ago. Was offered another gig in two months. But, I’ll pass, just stick to recording for the time being.
Recently, I showed my art and submitted a last-minute entry into the Planet 9 Film Fest, I Dream of SpaceCat. The festival is appearing in Detroit, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The Detroit date did not go as planned. Well, the event got relocated three times and was scheduled as a matinee. A few of the bar regulars and the filmmakers themselves showed up. But, I think that was about it. Oh well. Maybe it will get played in the other cities. I dunno.
If you were unable to see this short video in the full context of the festival, maybe you would like to see it here. I doubt that I will ever commercially release it, as-is. Maybe elements will resurface in other projects, someday. It’s possible. Admittedly, it’s not a cinema masterpiece by any measure. But, all things considered, for what it is it turned out pretty good, I think.
I saw these two perform at the Gold Dollar twenty years ago, today.
I could not find a single bit of information about them beyond their discography.
But, anyway, here is a link to their Discog page. Enjoy!
I was going through my hard drive, looking at designs for new guitars and custom instruments. I didn’t know if anybody would care about this sort of thing, except other musicians… maybe. Of course, lacking any money, I build these things as opportunities come along. I can probably work on the cheaper ones for awhile.
I always liked the customized design of Jimmy Page’s Les Paul Guitars, with push-pull knobs enabling coil-tapping and phase-shifting. But, I like baritone guitars a lot, too. The first draft at my version went something like this:
I kept making further refinements. Although Les Pauls have a nice tone, the original construction needs work. The headstocks are notorious for breaking easily. So, I changed it to a Zachary Guitars “samurai sword” style headstock. Also, I prefer guitar bodies with an offset waist, for comfort. So, I would keep the maple top mahogany body, just shape it more comfortably like a Fender Jazzmaster or Jaguar.
I played around with different pickup configurations, different woods, a graphite reinforced neck, etc.. I gave a Fender Bass VI style body a try.
Then, I moved on to basses. I want to combine a Fender Jazz, Precision, and Rickenbacker style tones together. Maybe a Gibson Thunderbird. Maybe not. But, I know it would not sound like any of them if I tried to do that. A close approximation would be nice, though.
It is possible that the only way around this is to build a different one for each specific tone. But, I thought about including Line 6 Variax Bass wiring hooked to a piezo pickup for variety. Not sure if it would work.
This is all out of my price range, for now. I considered having the body made, then adding parts as I go along. The neck is the most expensive piece. I don’t know to what degree solid graphite necks can be customized. Having a comfortable neck is very important. I think a “Soft V” contour is the right shape for me. But, I’m not sure. If a pro shop could work out details like that with me it would be extremely helpful.
Making experimental “noise machines” is a lot easier for me to put together on a low budget. The most common that I like making are basically stringed instruments built from scrap wood and junk.
Anything that makes a sound is fair game, though.
One thing that I thought about getting, for a long time, is a DJ rack case & table. It could store all sorts of effects, make room to operate small devices, and give me something to stand behind. But, they aren’t cheap. This is at the very bottom of my wishlist.
So, there it is. That is just some of the things I’ve been working on, for a long time. I’ll probably build the noise machines sooner than the rest. It would great if I could scrape together enough money to do the basses / guitars, though. I’ll just continue doing what I’m doing until then.
This is my tribute to Andy Warhol, on the 35th anniversary of his scene in the movie “66 Scenes From America” by danish filmmaker Jorgen Leth. The movie was shot in 1982 and has a total duration of 39 minutes. It consists of a series of shots (or moving postcards) that outline daily life across the USA in the 1980’s.
Jorgen Leth did not know Warhol, but he was a bit obsessed with him so he definitely wanted to have him in his movie. Friends told Leth that he “should forget about it” and that he could never even approach Warhol.
Anyways – Leth was stubborn so when he came to New York for his movie he simply went to the “factory”, the building Warhol had rented to work at and despite all other claims simply managed to get to Warhol’s studio inside where he met Andy Warhol while he was currently working.
Leth just told Warhol about his movie and the idea of having Andy being one of the 66 scenes along with the highly “symbolic” burger. Warhol immediately liked the idea and agreed to the scene. Andy liked the scene as he said because it was such a real scene, something he would like to do.
So Andy Warhol agreed to come for filming a few days later.
Jorgen leth was a bit afraid that Warhol would not come. He had invited him to a photo studio in new York at 14th street/5th avenue that belonged to a friend of him.
Leth had his assistant buy some burgers and directly advised him to buy some in halfway neutral packaging as Leth was afraid that Warhol might reject some brands (Warhol always had an obsession with some of his favorite brands).
So Andy Warhol finally did arrive at the studio, of course along with his bodyguards, and when he saw the selection of burgers the assistant had brought he asked “Where is the McDonald’s?” and Leth – slightly in panic – was immediately like “I thought you would maybe not like to identify… “ and Warhol answered “no that is the most beautiful”. Leth offered to let his assistant quickly run to McDonald’s but Warhol refused like “No, never mind, I will take the Burger King.”
Directing the video was pretty simple. Leth said to him: “You simply have to eat this hamburger. And then after you finished, you have to eat it, after you finish you should just tell the camera, to the camera, my name is Andy Warhol, I have just eaten a hamburger. “
Leth was worried during the taking as he forgot to give Warhol a glass of water and the bottle of ketchup was brand new, so it was hard to get it out. But being a real Warhol there was only one take, one try, so Warhol pulled it through in just one take, roughly 5 minutes.
So, why a whopper from burger king?
A quote from Andy Warhol:
“What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it. “
On Friday, purchasing music through Bandcamp will be donating money to the Transgender Law Center, a nonprofit organization that works tirelessly to change law, policy, and culture for the more equitable.
Learn more here and explore the Mike Nobody Bandcamp page.
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, 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, 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 available resources probably have more to do with any real style that I may have than anything else. I don’t have a drummer. So, for percussion I must rely on drum machines 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 sampling, to fill out the sound. I dabble quite a bit in plunderphonics.
Compositionally, I like the free jazz “cut & paste” approach of artists like John Zorn, Carl Stalling, Magma, Cardiacs, Omoide Hatoba, Boredoms, Melvins, Ruins, Mr. Bungle, The Mothers of Invention, 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. It’s kind of a bit like Neil Young, Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips), Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Curt & Chris Kirkwood (Meat Puppets), etc. I try to give it a little bit of a Tom Waits-like growl on the lower end. I also 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, garage sales, 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.
I will probably post more about my gear setup & playing techniques later.
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.
“Cute, cool, and creepy”, is how I have been described by some folks.
Usually, I am classified by my contemporaries as an outsider artist-musician.
Davin Brainard (time Stereo) and Warren DeFever (His Name Is Alive) shared their observation about me that I don’t intentionally TRY to be perceived as weird, I just naturally AM, making comparisons to Wesley Willis and Daniel Johnston. I guess that I will just go along with those descriptions.
Outsider Artist / Musician;
Music, Art, and Zines
Videos, Movies, and Multi-Media
Voice, Tapes, and Noise
Bass, Baritone, and other Guitars
Keyboards, Computers, and Custom Instruments
Plunderphonics, Electronics and Junk Percussion
I enjoy creating what I refer to as “Prog-Punk Noise-Rock”, a strange pastiche of styles tied together. I have collaborated with plenty of other artists over the years with wide degrees of proficiency in many genres.
I have been obsessively into art and music my whole life; drawing, painting, playing with tape recorders and making noise. I built my first guitar from a badly beaten-up body & neck that I found in someone’s trash. A friend’s dad gave me the electrical guts from an unknown 1950’s guitar. Additional parts were improvised from pieces of found junk and purchased from a music store.
When I was a twelve year old kid, back in the 1980’s, I was just a runt of the Detroit hardcore punk / heavy metal scene . Lacking enough money to buy any good equipment, I purchased a cheap microphone at a pawn shop, built a homemade mic stand, and passed myself off as a vocalist. I sang in whatever groups that I could find, gaining experience and learning whatever that I could. Mostly, it was shitty cover bands, playing in basements, getting yelled at by uninvited drunks that we suck. Eventually, I improved my bass & guitar skills, playing in many short-lived groups that went nowhere.
I was a writer / photographer for The Jam Rag, a widely-read local music paper, while still a teenager and made friends with other artists along the way. During the 1990’s I was a cameraman, roadie, and occasional collaborator with Princess Dragon-Mom, Mog Stunt Team, His Name Is Alive, etc.. I also performed in a few experimental noise groups; Edible Audio (with drummer Mick Stone of 500 ft of Pipe)and Bionics (with John Nevermind of Fresh Farm Raised Catfish), etc.
The Island of Misfit Noise began in the summer of 1998 with only Mystic MarshaKat and myself. She played keyboards & guitar. I played bass & guitar. Both of us were former members of N2-Submission, backing band for The Impaler “Detroit’s Vampire Poet.”Our duo’s name changed a couple of times, before settling on the IOMN. Other musicians came and went during a period of 15 years, with she & I being the only constant members of the group. She also left in early 2013. MarshaKat and I remain friends. She may continue to assist in some capacity, just not as a full-time band member.
I resurrected the IOMN as a recording project in late 2014, with collaborators from Michigan to Australia. We exchanged material back-and-forth until some music was completed. The style that we made is very freeform. A few collaborators from the IOMN have joined me in other projects.
Island of Misfit Noise is an ongoing multimedia project, begun in 1998 as a musical group, with a constantly rotating membership. It has since expanded into music videos, film-making, performance art, and comic books. I will continue to add material to this as I go along, with additional collaborators.
Theee Urban SpaceCat (Cassette-Zine) is a publication of my artwork, ramblings, stories, correspondences, miscellaneous found objects, music, commentary, and anything else packaged with a cassette tape of my recordings (compact disc optional)… whatever they may be. It is an outlet for all of my artistic endeavors, combined into one package, modeled after decades of correspondence with my friends.
Mike Damn Nobody is my experimental noise project; incorporating tape loops, circuit-bending, custom instruments, and anything else available. Recordings are available on RecycleTapes (cassettes handmade from re-purposed materials) and digital download formats.
Subscribe to this blog and I will show & tell you more about the past, present, and future. If you want to check out upcoming events or new stuff available, and get some freebies, add yourself onto the mailing list in the sidebar. There is also a Ko-Fi fundraising link there for anybody who wants to support my creative efforts.
by Ernesto on September 10, 2009 With both the Pirate Bay and OpenBitTorrent trackers down at the moment, many people are unable to download torrents unless they enable DHT. Luckily there are a few backup trackers that people can use, and thanks to Google’s free App Engine, everyone can setup a tracker of their own in a few minutes.
In their defense, operators of BitTorrent sites often argue that they do nothing more than Google does. They offer a search platform for people to find content on the web, specifically torrent files. To a certain extent they are right, Google can be used to find torrent files in several ways.
For example, the mother of all search engines has a special search command that allows you to find torrent files scattered across the Internet.
Google’s custom search also allows everyone to create their own torrent search engine, and Google’s App Engine enables users to start a free torrent search engine for free by using Google’s servers.
It is quite clear that there are several ways to find torrents through Google. However, just finding torrents is not enough. In order to download content through BitTorrent successfully, one also needs a working tracker in order to locate those all-important peers. Luckily Google can help here too.
By using Google’s App Engine, everyone can run a tracker without having to invest a single dime in hardware or bandwidth. The only problem is making the tracker compatible with the App Engine, but thanks to the newly released Atrack software it is a piece of cake to set one up.
The Atrack Bittorrent tracker is designed to run on Google App Engine and its main goals are a minimal memory use, speed, low bandwidth usage and efficient CPU use. On top of this the tracker wont store any data at all, making it as secure as possible for its users.
“Atrack also aims to respect your privacy: other than what is needed for the most basic tracking, Atrack gathers no information whatsoever. Beyond that no aggregate statistics are kept of anything, and nothing is stored permanently anywhere, not even hashes and ip/ports,” the Atrack team writes.
So now everyone can set up a standalone BitTorrent tracker at no cost aside from the the time it takes to set things up. The Atrack software is released into the public domain, and a test tracker is up and running on Google’s App Engine.