“All the various styles are organically connected to one another. I’m an additive person—the entire storehouse of my knowledge informs everything I do. People are so obsessed with the surface that they can’t see the connections, but they are there.” ~ John Zorn
“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) observed that I do not intentionally TRY to be perceived as weird, that I just naturally AM….. making comparisons to Wesley Willis and Daniel Johnston. I guess that I will just go along with those descriptions.
- Music, Videos, Art, and Noise /
- Voice, Tapes, and Reed Trumpet /
- Bass, Baritone, and other Guitars /
- Custom-Made Instruments /
- Plunderphonics, Electronics and Junkyard 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 bought 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; Bionics, Edible Audio, 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 (classically trained) and I played bass & guitar (mostly self-taught). Both of us were former members of N2-Submission, the backing band for our then-roommate 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. Some of them have experience in film & television and are producing low-budget movies with me.
After years of trial-and-error, I have come to the conclusion that I simply lack the necessary social skills to keep a stable group together. I tried for ages to put a band together. But, I could never manage it for very long. I am focusing primarily on composition and recording, for the time being. I will return to live performance when I am certain that the project won’t immediately disintegrate. Assembling the right line-up and keeping it intact is a big obstacle. I would like to eventually have a live group again. At minimum, I would prefer having a decent drummer accompany me. I get uneasy being on stage alone. But, an ideal line-up would include:
- Myself on bass, vocals, and tapes.
- A creative drummer. Someone who is comfortable playing with additional percussionists, drum machines, noise, or other unusual stuff.
- Maybe two guitarists who could also contribute more percussion, keyboards, samplers, vocals, or whatever.
Maybe I will just go back to replacing musicians as I go along…. again. I’m currently preparing a one-man-band type thing that I can perform by myself with just a bass and my crazy setup. I’ll make it work, somehow.
Some of my current projects;
- 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 or compact disc of my recordings… whatever they may be. I wish to publish an issue every three or four months (depending on available funds). It is intended as 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. I might book some shows for this again. Recordings are available as “RecycleTapes”, as well as digital downloads.
- MykNobody is an alternate spelling sometimes used when I’m painting or making other art, just because I can.
♛ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ Prog ☆ Punk 🐱 Noise ☆ Rock ☆ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ♛
Over time, I have received some frequently asked questions. 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 studio / office.
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. 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 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. I make demos during the week and begin multi-tracking by the weekend. My original plan was to lay basic tracks on tape, bounce them to digital, then either take the tracks to someone else for mixing (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 cheap tape recorders from the 1970’s
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 scrap metal junk added, for a clunkier sound. I also have some cheap keyboards and electronics. But, I would like to make improvements to my setup as I go along. There are some models of foot drum kits that look interesting. I also have ideas for custom basses / guitars that I would like to get built. Adding other instruments to my arsenal would be fantastic.
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 tape 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 RX-Series, with a Seymour Duncan Humbucker I installed at the bridge. I regularly use it for alternate tuning, usually tuned-down like a baritone.
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.
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.
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, recorded solely for album releases.
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. I like leaving things a little open to interpretation rather than always being explicit.
I’ve played with hundreds of musicians from many different genres. My output is unified by a “conceptual continuity”, everything is interconnected, it just comes out mixed-together and filtered through whatever I have to work with. Sorta like combining Frank Zappa’s Freak Out List and the Nurse with Wound list into one mutation! Some notable influences include;
- Alice Donut
- Andy Warhol
- Anton Webern
- Arnold Schönberg
- Bad Brains
- Bad Religion
- Bebe and Louis Barron
- Jared Warren (KARP, Big Business, Melvins)
- 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
- Chris Squire (Yes)
- Chuck Mosley (Faith No More, Bad Brains)
- Cliff Burton (Metallica)
- Comets on Fire
- Comparative Anatomy
- Cop Shoot Cop
- Lux Interior & Poison Ivy Rorschach (The Cramps)
- Crash Worship
- Robert Crumb
- Daft Punk
- Dale Flattum (Steel Pole Bath Tub, Tumor Circus, Milk Cult)
- Daniel Johnston
- David Bowie
- David Grohl (Scream, Nirvana, Foo Fighters)
- Dennis Dunaway (Alice Cooper)
- Destroy All Monsters
- Gerald Casale (Devo)
- Bob Log III (Doo Rag)
- Doug Henderson (Krackhouse, Spongehead)
- Marcel Duchamp
- Dust Brothers (Beastie Boys, Beck)
- East Bay Ray & Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys, Alternative Tentacles Records)
- Einstürzende Neubauten
- Edgard Varèse
- Edward D. Wood Jr, (Plan 9 From Outer Space, Bride of the Monster)
- Max Ernst
- Evolution Control Committee
- Fat Mike (NOFX)
- Wayne Coyne (The Flaming Lips)
- Frank Zappa (Mothers of Invention)
- Fred Frith (Henry Cow, Art Bears, Massacre)
- Geddy Lee (Rush)
- Geezer Butler & Toni Iommi (Black Sabbath)
- Gene Simmons & Ace Frehley (KISS)
- Berry Gordy (Motown Records, The Last Dragon)
- Greg Ginn & Kira Roessler (Black Flag)
- Harry Partch
- Hazil Adkins
- Helios Creed (Chrome)
- Hide (Ultra Bidé)
- Ian Mackaye (Minor Theat, Fugazi)
- Ichirou Agata (Melt-Banana)
- Iggy Pop & The Stooges
- 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
- 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)
- Kevin Strickland & Larissa Strickland (Laughing Hyenas)
- Lemmy Kilmister (Motörhead, Hawkwind)
- Sid & Marty Krofft (HR Pufnstuf, Lidsville, The Bugaloos)
- Les Claypool (Primus, Sausage, Oysterhead)
- Lightning Bolt + Black Pus
- Lisa “Suckdog” Carver
- Christian Vander (Magma)
- Malcolm Young & Angus Young (AC/DC)
- Marc Bolan (T. Rex)
- Mark Sandman (Morphine)
- Jason Martin (Brown Cuts Neighbors, Power Animal System)
- Masahiko Ohno (Solmania)
- Curt Kirkwood & Cris Kirkwood (Meat Puppets)
- Masami Akita (Merzbow)
- Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas, Tomahawk)
- Mike Watt (Minutemen, fIREHOSE)
- Joel Hodgson (Mystery Science Theater 3000, The TV Wheel)
- Omoide Hatoba
- George Orwell
- Pat Smear (Germs, Nirvana, Foo Fighters)
- Paul Leary (Butthole Surfers, Melvins)
- Bruce Pavitt (Sub Pop)
- Phil Spector
- Pussy Galore
- 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)
- Salvador Dali
- 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)
- Space Streakings
- Stan Lee & Leonard Graves Phillips (The Dickies)
- Stanley Clarke
- Russ Stedman (Teenage Slots, Minor 2049er)
- Steve Albini (Big Black, Rapeman, Shellac)
- Sun Ra & His Arkestra
- Syd Barrett & Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)
- The Tape-beatles
- Tatsuya Yoshida (Ruins, Zeni Geva)
- They Might Be Giants
- Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy)
- Throbbing Gristle
- Tom Morello & Tim Commerford (Rage Against The Machine)
- Tom Waits
- Tragic Mulatto
- Trans Am
- Velvet Underground
- Victims Family
- Violent Onsen Geisha
- John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, Desperate Living)
- Weird Paul Petroskey
- Robert Williams
- Wesley Willis
- Wildman Fischer
- Winston Smith
- 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 tried for years and years to arrange having dual drummers play together. We managed to do it a few times, which was great while it lasted. Most drummers are not into that, though. I have been told that they want to be guitarists, instead. I prefer working with someone who enjoys learning the instrument that they are playing, who really spends time improving their skills. Y’know?
I always needed to be collaborating with somebody, whether an individual or a group. It gave me confidence and motivation. I would bounce ideas off of other bandmates, to get a feel for their capabilities and preferences, to find which direction that we were going in. I depended a lot on their input to filter my ideas through. I was always looking for feedback, trying to be as democratic as possible. But, this approach slowed us down, frustrating everyone. In hindsight, it was a mistake, like driving a car with the parking brake on.
My lifelong struggling with mental illness sometimes gets in the way as well. 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.
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 vocals tend to be on the high and nasally side. But, I give it a little growl on the low end. Adding effects makes for a little more variety and covers-up 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. I believe that I’m a better bassist than a guitarist and a better composer than a musician.
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 where I think it is appropriate. Sometimes, I’ll jam riffs onto demos and pick out the best ones later. Sometimes, I’ll sing everything a capella, bang on found 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, housing, and living conditions REALLY messes-up my mojo a lot, though.
“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” – Stephen King
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. Occasionally, I’ll read books on the subject. But, I don’t spend time trying to figure out what’s up with art. 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, or whatever. These are labels found in the art world. To me… art is 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.
In the past, my artwork was usually given to friends or destroyed and discarded. I started selling my art 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.
- Recycled rubber belts adorned with a Captain America shield buckle.
- Mix it up a little with different t-shirts.
- Red glitter nail polish adds some color.
Personal Rules of Conduct:
I seldom drink alcohol 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.
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; a fundamentalist creationist who thinks that the Flat Earth is 6,000 years old or 72 virgins await you in the afterlife because you won’t eat bacon, I would prefer not to hear about it.
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. Making a decent living as a self-employed full-time 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.
If you want to check out upcoming events or new stuff available add yourself onto the mailing list in the sidebar. There are also fundraising links there for anybody who wants to support my efforts.