**** ISSUE # 7 ****
+Classic Cars #1
+Grace Ambrose/Thrilling Living Records interview
+Classic Cars #2
+Britt Brown/Not Not Fun Records interview
+Classic Cars #3
+Classic Cars #4
+Matt Anderson/Gravity Records interview
+Classic Cars #5
Hi subscribed friend! Welcome to issue # seven of THE ENTHUSIAST email newsletter. In this issue I focused on three record labels which I found to be run by cool, interesting and inspiring human beings. I think all 3 interviews were really compelling and informative, it makes me want to buy some records and support the scene, and dig some art! Also we have some writing and thinking by yours truly, Wormhole, web radical and medium thinker #1. Enjoy this issue and if you have any other degenerates who'd like to subscribe tell them to mailto: email@example.com and we'll get into the nitty gritty in private.
As always, letters are welcome and will be responded to in the next issue, should there be one
I just met a new human named Maya since we last checked in with The Enthusiast. Right now she's a little baby human, but with a BIG personality. She has a enthralling laugh, a lethal fart and a need to dance. She has the most free dance style that I've ever seen and it's truly inspiring. She is down to wiggle to any style of music too, from Yellow Magic Orchestra to Paco de Lucia, Mars, Matthew Dear, Ant Banks, Fela, Autechre and Defeated Sanity and Erase Errata... Phil Yost, others it doesn't matter, etc.. a truly open minded human. She has no job, no teeth and no shame which makes her my true hero. I'm truly honored to know her! She is excepting new friends too but doesn't mess with the internet too tuff so please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time to meet up offline! No racists, transphobes, homophobes, sexists or babyphobes need apply (unlike gilman these rules actually apply)
//CLASSIC CAR #1 - Dodge Caravan 1993//
//Grace Ambrose/Thrilling Living Records interview//
Grace Ambrose is a modern day insane person, in that I mean she does 80 things at once and all of them are perfect and rad, which is an insane task, most people can't even do ONE good thing. There were many topics I would like to discuss with her but today I chose to delve into her record label Thrilling Living, who are on the cutting edge of important culture in 2017, as you will see in our talk here:
The Enthusiast] was the Good Throb the first record you were involved in releasing? what made you want to release it?
Grace Ambrose] Yes. I started a label with my friend Nathan called Sabermetric, which became defunct after I moved to California. It's good cause that means it has a perfect track record! My best friend Bryony plays guitar in Good Throb and I think she is a genius and I wanted the world to know more than they already did. Bryony had been in a bunch of bands but none of them had released an LP or toured in America (not that those two things are markers of success!!).
I lived in London for a year, which is when I met Bryony. Good Throb is legitimately one of my favorite bands of all time. They represent everything I love about great punk music: hooks, wit, anger, intelligence, idiosyncratic musicianship as pure brilliance. When she came to visit me in Philadelphia in the summer of 2013 I begged her to let me do the record. For a variety of reasons, I kind of thought it was never going to happen but on New Year's Day 2014 I woke up to a basically finished modern classic in my inbox, recorded in a hungover post NYE daze in her garage on Lilford Road in Camberwell (RIP Lilford Road, long live Lilford Road).
The most interesting thing about punk to me is that it is a subculture that allows your friends to be your heroes and your heroes to become your friends. Then the idea of heroes is erased altogether! I wanted to release the record because I have a deep respect and fondness for everyone in that band and because I think it's important for us to encourage and support each other's cultural production.
tE] after "Fuck Off" did you think you'd continue releasing music?
GA] The same week that the Good Throb LP came out I accepted a job being one of the coordinators of Maximum Rocknroll. This meant moving across the country and reconfiguring the role that punk played in my life. Now instead of being something that I did in my free time / as my social life, it became my job, which took a while to get used to. It can be exhausting - going to gigs and having people want to talk to me about the mag when I'm just trying to ~chill~, feeling like I need to be up on everything happening everywhere instead of just what I like - but it is also amazing to be able to have such a singular focus and feel like you are making really good work as a result. In response, my free time switched to a lot more un-punk related things. Doing mail order and putting out records didn't sound fun to me anymore.
Now that I've been out here for almost two years, I'm feeling reenergized by the prospect of putting out records. I have less disposable income than I did when I lived in a cheap city like Philadelphia, but I'm exposed to more amazing things. I realize that I had it pretty easy with the Good Throb record - two pressings that sold out in under a month - and I'm still not quite sure how I'm going to pay for the projects I have coming up, but I'll make it work!
tE] What was it about the band In School that made you want to get back in the biz? Had you heard the tracks prior to asking to release something?
GA] Like Good Throb, In School is a band made up of four people who I deeply respect and admire and call my friends. On the application to be MRR coordinator you have to write about people in punk who you respect and I wrote about In School, without thinking about the fact that their drummer (and former MRR coordinator) Golnar would almost certainly be on the other end reading it. Two times that I've seen them rank as two of my favorite shows ever: in the basement of Slow Club in Philadelphia with Distract and at some bar in New York with Hysterics (GOAT). Like Good Throb, they also represent everything that is compelling about punk to me: viciously angry, devastatingly smart, sick pit parts, resilient in the face of fuckers in punk's clothing. They have all been super supportive of my projects and I thought it was important that their new songs seen the light of day even though they are no longer a super active band.
I hadn't heard the songs before I offered to put the record out. I know that if I had hated them (impossible!) they would have understood me declining to release the record, though. A big part of releasing music for me is supporting women in doing what they wanna do / ~realizing their vision~, and so far, I haven't heard the tracks for any band I've asked before offering to do a record. I trust the people that I am asking to make something that is representative of their creative genius and potential. In the case of In School, their new record was, to me, a big step up from their previous material, so I’m particularly proud to have released what I think is their definitive document.
tE] beyond the In School 7", what do you have lined up for release? you just released a 7" by Lemonade, tell us about this group please
GA] So far the future discography of Thrilling Living includes a bunch of debut records: an EP from Warm Bodies from KCMO (unruly punk, like Greg Ginn caught in a midwestern tornado with vox by a certified Girl Genius); an EP from the Bay's premier queer freak group SBSM (hardcore was an adjective before it was a noun!); an LP from gSp (pronounced GIRLSPERM, this supergroup of Tobi Vail, Layla Gibbon, and the world's #1 shredder Marissa Magic sounds like Y-Pants playing Flipper songs, or vice-versa); an EP from Scrap Brain (a London, UK group formed at the First Timers festival last year who play perfect primitive sludgy hardcore); an EP from Olympia’s Xylitol (split with Total Negativity, featuring one of thee most distinctive and amazing vocalists I’ve ever heard), and an LP from Mexico City's Anti-Sex (split released with the inimitable Cintas Pepe and Philly's World Gone Mad, I am also bringing the band for a west coast tour this summer). I'm also in the talks to do several reissues and working on a book project, but I'm not at liberty to discuss right now!
Lemonade is my current favorite USHC group. Trippy but not hippie, precise but still punk, with a vicious Chicana frontwoman who sings about her relationships to history, identity, shitty men, and mental health. The record is sold out for me now but I'm thinking about doing a small repress soon. A great live band who hopefully will make their way out to these parts soon!
tE] do you have any labels you find inspiring when thinking about running your own label? what makes a label cool to you?
GA] I'm interested in labels that have a cohesive identity without having a signature sound. I don't like labels that do X-style hardcore. I'm interested in labels where you might hear something and thing "This sounds like a ____ record" but you can't quite pin down why. Where there's a feeling. Design is also crucial — if we're going to make these things into physical objects, we have to spend some time considering their physicality. Those things said, it will not come as a surprise to anyone that Crass Records is my favorite label of all time. There are certainly labels that I hope to emulate in certain ways, but none that I would cite as direct inspirations.
A current label inspiration is Cintas Pepe, based out of Mexico City and run by my friends Yecatl and Kuble. They make beautiful, angry records and are incredibly important documentarians of the punk that is being made in Mexico and Central America. Their label will be considered legendary in fifteen years! They also run a publishing house. I encourage everyone reading this to support their every endeavor. They are two of the kindest and most generous punks I know, with a zero-tolerance policy for cool guy bullshit.
tE] what's your favorite Crass Records release and what makes it so special to you?
GA] Penis Envy is not the first Crass record that I heard but it is the first punk record I listened to that had an explicitly feminist framework. They are a band that would go on to change my life, and a band that I still learn something from every time I examine their music or art. They are the total package: tunes, look, politics. No other band matches them. Dial House! Poetry! Collage! Freaky ass tape music! Constant shape shifting! Being an actual fucking pain in the government's ass! The greatest punk logo of all time! The best inside of a poster sleeve is the Crass / Poison Girls split single. Boo-Hooray is selling unfolded copies of that single's cover, but Gee would NOT want me to pay $100 for them. Or maybe she set the price. I don't know. I don't listen to Crass the band that often anymore, though, to be honest, though every time I put them on I am reminded of their greatness. Now I'd be more likely to listen to "Farce,” or the Honey Bane single, or Zounds, but Crass the band are the heart of Crass Records! There will never be another group like them. One of the great injustices of MRR is that all our Crass poster sleeves are taped shut. They’re almost as important as the music contained in the grooves, and certainly a crucial part of the experience.
Into the Woods (2017; USA; can be seen on Broadway): this is a play about a group of people who are about to go on a walk in the woods. The songs are all really great and focused on each persons trials and tibulations getting their backpacks packed for their big hike. One guy sings a zippy number about how juiced he is on the kind of trail mix he bought, another song is a sweet duet between a couple about who will carry the heavy water bottle, the first woman sings a verse about how she doesn't mind carrying it but then her partner says that no, she'll carry it because she knows how tired her GF is from work as a watercooler bottle delivery person and is just being nice and that she deserves a break to enjoy nature. It's probably the emotional climax of the play and honestly worth admission on it's own. ****
Hamilton (2017, The Bronx NYC): this is a historical fiction play about a tumultous time in this countries herstory, when two of our eldest statesmen committed hari kari against one another in one of the bloodiest revenge stories in our nations time. It is told from the point of view of museum owner/Bboy whose museum is failing who is also watching "The Get Down" on Netflix all day because the attendance at his museum is so low and he's basically squandered his sizeable inheratince thinking that the public would be clamoring for a museum about a grizzly double murder, and he's so broke he has to eat spoonfuls of raw peanut butter with no milk even for lunch. It is actually a really sad story, honestly I left at intermission and went home to watch episodes of The Bernie Mac Show to cheer up. I don't even care how it ends honestly. ****
//CLASSIC CAR #2 - Buick Regal 1996//
In this piece, I'd like to discuss an innovation in citrus fruits: the SUMO CITRUS. I know alot of people are ANTI GMO in their foods, but you gotta try this mutant orange thing someone invented, it's seriously MESSED UP how good these things are. First off: hate peeling oranges? You dont have to wrry yr pretty little head about this problem anymore because these suckers peels just fall right off basically. Then what you're left with inside is a monster of flavor! These are basically a mix between Navel oranges, tangerines, mandarins and those Little Cutie orange people lose their minds over. Well hip yourself to THE SUMO baby! Did I mention there's NO SEEDS to be found anywhere inside one of these? It's basically a perfect fruit, it makes me feel like I Am losing my mind. They only are available for maybe a month or two out of the year because I think it's more of a side gig for the scientists who invent them, more of a passion project it seems? But WHEEEWWWoooo when they are available you'll be putting in orders for maybe a whole pallet just for your household. You could throw block parties even, the whole neighborhood would love you for these treats. They are really good. Available now at Berkeley Bowl West for $2.59/lb
//Britt Brown/Not Not Fun Records interview//
There was a portion of my life where instead of going out on friday or saturday nights in particular, I would stay home, fire up the laptop and read two things: old aQuarius Records record reviews, and Not Not Fun Records email updates. These things I find deeply satisfying poetically and fired my mind up to think about music in ways that were different from the standard music writing style of "let me describe this probably boring music as a combination of other musics that will catch the readers eye while also making me look knowledgable about tons of music and how they intersect". These writings were more focused on world building, a place of imaginative thought and colors and concepts, illiterations and compound run-on sentences filled with psychedelic hyperbole that made me actually feel feelings instead of feeling cool for knowing a reference point/obscure band. aQuarius is now out of business, which honestly I don't care about because despite liking their writing style I found them to be huge jerks in person so good riddance, but Not Not Fun are not jerks and are still going strong in this new decade! I spoke with Britt, who shares the label with his partner Amanda, about his origins in music, freedom culture and writing below:
the Enthusiast] where did you grow up? was music a part of your early/formative environment?
Britt Brown] The suburbs of North Dallas. As dumb as it sounds I actually didn’t care about music until I was about 12, when I heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit" on KDGE, “The Edge.” Before that I preferred video games and reading and running around with plastic weapons. My friends who liked music back then were into Guns N Roses and Michael Jackson and The Beatles, all of which I found boring and still do.
tE] was there anything happening in Dallas that caught your attention after you got into music?
BB] The only local bands me and my friends knew of of as pre-internet idiots were mediocre street punk and various alt-rock dregs, so we mainly preferred to scour used CD stores for anything that seemed deranged or bizarre or offensive: Boredoms, Butthole Surfers, Fear, Legendary Pink Dots, Germs, Nurse With Wound, anything on SST or Crass Records, etc. Occasionally we'd find out about some Quincy Punx or Blanks 77 show in a living room in a random ratty part of town but the mosh pit would always be wilder than the actual music.
tE] how were Quincy Punx as a live group?
BB] They shredded. I remember it being hard to discern breaks between songs because everything was feeding back so violently and everyone was screaming so much. The pit was rough – smelled like armpits and indoor chain-smoking.
tE] what were some of your favorite video game soundtracks?
BB] The one that used to be haunt me out the most was Shadowgate, on NES. The music sounds pretty bit-crushed and repetitive now but playing that late at night in my room would creep me, just hopelessly dying in all these traps in a satanic castle. The thin delirious electronic themes add to the stress and claustrophobia of navigating lonely 8-bit dungeons, trying to trick sphinxes and kill hellhounds or whatever the riddles were. That game was a thematic inspiration for Robedoor on multiple levels, for sure.
tE] how did you end up in Los Angeles? what was happening there that caught your ear when you arrived?
BB] I moved here for school because I didn't want to stay in Texas and my experiences in New York were depressing. I loved LA immediately but my early years were mainly spent dealing with school, reading, doing drugs, and chasing bohemianism. The radio station on campus would host occasional shows but at best they’d have the Make-Up and at worst it'd be Milemarker or some angular screamo thing. It wasn't until I graduated and was making minimum wage with a lot of free time that I discovered The Smell and noise shows and realized there were tons of interesting local people, many younger than me, who were organizing wild shows of freaky, primitive music, running bedroom record labels, and generally being active instead of passive about their interests. It was fully inspiring and basically changed my life.
tE] who were some of those early groups and labels around The Smell that you found inspiring in LA? do you remember the thing that prompted you to consider doing a label?
BB] The initial wave of LA underground shit that blew my mind was Foot Village, Rainbow Blanket (Jeff Witscher's thrash / noise duo with his brother Greg), Silver Daggers, Abe Vigoda, and Mika Miko, plus the Riverside contingent of Child Pornography and Quem Quaeritis. In 2003-2004 all of them were in such prime form, gnarly and dynamic and unpolished and unpretentious. I couldn't believe there were so many uniquely shredding and friendly local bands, in a metroplex with such a glossy and hostile reputation. Label-wise Deathbomb Arc was definitely the most influential on Amanda and me, in terms of its inclusive spirit and operational creativity. Brian Miller was - and still is - one of the most committed and enthusiastic D.I.Y. lifers I've ever met. He's one of the most driven people I know, but without any of the negative competitive hangups that make the music biz such a historic drag.
tE] I've always found your descriptions of music really appealing to my imagination, honestly sometimes even more appealing than SOME of the music itself once I've checked it out. I know you also have a writing gig for The Wire magazine, how did you get into writing? Is it what you studied in school? Do you do any non-music related writing, or is music the inspiration?
BB] I studied English, which was all reading & writing papers, which I didn't hate as much as most other homework. Even as a braindead kid I loved reading, whether comic books or Choose Your Own Adventures or medieval knights & wizards stuff or survival stories, etc. My first job after college was writing for a Hollywood celeb mag, interviewing Jessica Biel or Venice distressed denim companies or whatever was deemed glam and trendy. One day the music editor called me in and said he owed Sub Pop a favor and was like "Will you cover this band for me? They're pretty unlistenable." It was Wolf Eyes, who I already knew through Bull Tongue and buying random experimental CDs at Amoeba – he couldnt believe I was actually a fan. Trying to describe strange sounds or atmospheres is a challenge I enjoy. I listen to the music over & over & over & over, usually on headphones, until I'm brainwashed by it, and cant imagine anything else. I've been writing the NNF descriptions so long I dont have any perspective on the process. Maybe once a year someone will email and say they dig a phrase but in general I assume people dont even read them. Most music fans seem happy with a Bandcamp hashtag, they dont care what the label says. Which is perfectly fine. But for me personally I consider it a responsibility, both to the artist and to listeners: how special could this music be if the agency presenting it cant write a couple convincing sentences expressing its power or mystery or uniqueness?
tE] You just released a tape by a group named MAGNETIZER, is this your favorite release you've done and why?
BB] MAGNETIZER is/are INCREDIBLE. Electronic garbage funk noise glory. I dont have fave label releases because my devotion is too vast but I always hold a special shine for fellow obscurist Californians.
//CLASSIC CAR #3 - 1994 Chevrolet Corsica//
//MAGNETIZER "Reality" cassette ad//
I make music with some keyboards and computers by the name MAGNETIZER, we just had a new cassette tape released by Los Angeles freak funk label Not Not Fun, the album is called "Reality" and it's pretty raging I think! There are moments to zone your mind to, moments you can groove with and dance even, some boom bap, some acid and a pretty long live dub song that I made the week I started drinking coffee, how could you not want to hear something like that? Anyway, it's available online in many digital formats and also in the hard world as a cassette tape which you can hear and purchase here: http://magnetizer.bandcamp.com. The cover art turned out freaky as hell, designed by Britt Brown who is interviewed in this issue coincidentally. It looks like duck tape crumpled up maybe with some weird spectral design, and a picture of my rehearsal studio on the inside. I'm honored to be released by any label, not the least of which would be Not Not Fun, they put out legitimate classic albums by Abe Vigoda and 2 by f***ing SWANOX for pete's sake.
Do you think it was supposed to be a given that the Teenage Mutant ninja Turtles were blazing sticky green and kind buds down in their sewer all day long or were they just naturally so based or maybe their good vibes were as a side effect of their mutations? contact me on twitter @jaxonium for more discussion and your answers/opinions
//CLASSIC CAR #4 - Toyota Corolla 1997//
//MATT ANDERSON/Gravity Records interview//
Gravity Records is a hugely important force in this world, I remember getting the chills whenever I'd stumble upon one of their records at Amoeba or Rasputin Records in Berkeley in the 1990's, before you could just find the cheapest copy on discogs shipped to your doorstep. Most of the time I'd be grabbed by a mysterious cover not knowing anything about the group and then flip it over to see that it's a Gravity release. I credit this label mainly with branching my mind out from a life of only listening to music of men in anguish with guitars, because they definitely started with that but took the best of that scene and turned it sideways and then kept walking to records of synth drones like Physics or brain burners like Earthless, alien death metal like Crom-Tech etc and on and on. I feel honored that Matt agreed to speak with us and I find all of his answers to be a really illuminating look into one of the best record labels ever on Earth, in my opinion:
the Enthusiast] are you originally from San Diego? what was happening in San Diego punk when you became aware of it?
Matt Anderson] Yes, I was born in San Diego and grew up here. I became aware of punk from going to the Del Mar Skatepark as a kid but hadn't heard it; maybe here or there in the background. I think the first time I became interested in what it was all about was from seeing pro skater Gary Scott Davis's ( AKA G.S.D.) Devilock hair and Misfits shirts he would wear. I also became interested in punk from looking at Thrasher Magazine and seeing pictures of Caballero in a Misfits shirt and reading Pus-zone, which was Pushead's record review section in Thrasher. I got into the music when a friend in Seattle, where I lived for six months in Jr. High, made a tape for me of Black Flag and then later another friend gave me a tape of Minor Threat. He warned me that Minor Threat swore a lot in case I would get in trouble from my mom. One of the first records I bought was the Septic Death 12" which was the most extreme thing I had ever heard. I probably listened to that record over 200 times. A moment that also sticks out to me from my earliest introduction to hardcore was the time I heard the last line of the M.D.C. album when he says "and there's no god in heaven so get off your knees". I hadn't heard such a ferocious and unforgiving message up to that point and actually felt a sort of fear listening to it; like what kind of rabbit hole had I started to go down? I went to some of the violent shows that San Diego was known for at that point. But that scene was dying off fast and shortly thereafter I started hearing about local bands like Pitchfork, Funeral March and Amenity and going to shows at the Che Cafe on the UCSD campus. That is when music became a huge part of my life. My friends and I would go to house shows, which I always thought were the best. The first time I saw Funeral March was at a house show and I became a big fan of theirs and they were my favorite San Diego band for years. I was into video production in High School and asked them if I could make a video for them. In return the drummer had a pair of professional movie quality fangs made for me. I had to bite into a mold so they could be customized to my teeth. Another influential thing going on in San Diego at the time was Vinyl Communications records and the Chula Vista straight-edge scene with the great band Amenity who later spawned Forced Down, who I loved. Bob Barley and Del Mar Peacher would have house shows where bands like Soulside and Judge would play. These bands would play to hundreds of people in L.A. the night before, then to 30 or so people in a garage in San Diego the next night. The violent San Diego scene had driven people to hide away from the thugs and skinheads and do smaller intimate shows. This gave the hardcore scene at that time a close-knit meaningful feel to it.
tE] how long after you became aware of the house shows/DIY aspect of punk did you become active yourself?
MA] I was aware of house shows and practice space shows for a couple of years before I got involved putting them on. Once Heroin started we played mostly garage or house shows for quite awhile but I had nowhere to have one. Some of my best memories of being in bands are the garage shows that the Heroin bassist Ron would have at his parents house. Afterwards there would usually be a pool party in his backyard for anyone who stuck around. The Che Cafe had the feel of a house show and pretty much anyone could approach the Che to set one up there. Mike from Forced Down/Amenity used to do a lot of them there as well as other bands like Pitchfork, who would set one up to support a touring band. That's how I got involved with the Che; first by playing there and then by setting something up for touring bands that I knew. Heroin ended up playing there many times to help out touring bands that would usually play San Diego on an off night and needed somewhere to play.
tE] what's your favorite Misfits song?
MA] I would say that my current favorite song is Cough/Cool. But I have been into them for a long time and some other favorites are All Hell Breaks Loose, Hybrid Moments, Green Hell, Die Die My Darling, Death Comes Ripping, London Dungeon, Come Back, and Halloween.
tE] how did Heroin get together? was that your first band?
MA] Heroin got together originally with a different singer and I was on drums but that version of us only played one show. My first band was with Scott Bartoloni the guitar player of Heroin, we were named F.O.E.. We only played one show. That was like 10th-11th grade. I was more hardcore-ish and wanted it to be Foe like your enemy and Scott called it F.O.E. as in freedom of expression. We were not good but we did have a good drummer, Ron Avila, who later was in Antioch Arrow. A little later, Ron Johnson the bass player of Heroin, and I started Heroin with our friend Andy Jackson and Chad Jackson who later would start Swindle Skateboards and even later than that started Small Beatings Skateboards that is still around. Although I haven't talked to Chad for many years, we were good friends at the time. He was Heroin's original singer but quit when we started taking it serious at all. He had been sponsored by Blockhead Skateboards and was known for doing pre-Jackass like displays at Mike McGill's Skatepark. He would rub poop on himself and skate around. Inspired by GG Allin I'm sure. We got Scott in the band and then Aaron Montaigne-Jones who was only 14 at the time. They gave us much more musical skill and we really started trying to be good at that point. Scott had drifted out of hardcore and was in this band called Mind Melt that I was actually going to start singing for. He started playing with us though and we played garage shows and were unknown for a couple of years. If we had decided to do Mind Melt and stop playing in Heroin I can pretty much guarantee we wouldn't be doing this interview right now.
tE] was the Heroin 7" on Vinyl Communications the first recordings of the band? did you have the urge to step out from the drums and sing in the group or was the switch brought on only by Chad leaving?
MA] We did some demo type stuff, four tracks and eight tracks but the VC/ Downside 7" recording was our first studio recordings. I don’t think we ever recorded with Chad, he was in the band for 5 or so months. We played a party when we first began, like our first or second show and we did Louie Louie as a joke and I sang. I didn’t really care either way at the time but as Chad was fading out of the band and we knew Aaron from another band who played down the street from us and went to the same high school, it somehow transitioned into me singing once Chad left and we asked Aaron to be in Heroin. I think I did want to sing and didn’t like playing drums much at the time as well as Aaron being much better and faster than I that influenced the change but I can’t remember the exact sequence of events that cemented the change. I ended up going back to drums with Spacehorse but drums are such physical effort and sweating that I still haven’t truly enjoyed playing drums ever. It is kind of like there are fewer drummers than guitar and bass players, so if you can pull off drums you get pushed into it. That is what I have seen in hardcore bands at least.
tE] from my vantage point from when I became aware of Gravity Records in the mid-late 90's it seemed like such a fully formed, obviously impeccably curated yet still very mysterious to the point of feeling almost alien. (Hopefully that doesn't sound like an insult ha-ha!). what was the impetus to release the next Heroin record on your own label, and to continue releasing the music that you did?
MA] One thing that led me and Ron Johnson (the bass player of Heroin) to release the first Heroin 7" and start a record label was that I collected records in high school and loved 7" e.p’s. Hardcore music with its short songs let bands do full releases on a 7" which I thought was so cool growing up. When we started our band it was a dream to have a 7" of our own. That’s all I really wanted. It of course grew from there but it started with a fascination for the hardcore 7". I think the aesthetic of Gravity came from what started as Heroin’s art tastes for our own records and then solidified as we put out more bands and silkscreened, spray-painted, etc. the records; with the limitations of hand done graphics it made the art have a consistent look. We were into minimal stuff and I think this added to the mystery as there was not an overload of information about the bands. We did keep the hardcore tradition of having lyrics with every release except where the band declined. We didn’t make bands have a certain kind of art though. A lot of us had similar tastes and bands were mostly on board with the look we wanted to have so it happened pretty easily with just a bit of nudging at times towards the vision of what we thought the records should look like.
As far as the actual music there were many varied styles within the umbrella of stuff that was within our tastes. I have been personal friends with the majority of the bands on Gravity. A lot of that came from the fact that Heroin would play at the Che Café a lot and we got to know people through that. I also booked shows there and became a contact for bands coming through San Diego. Also a lot of the early bands Gravity released had members from Heroin such as Antioch Arrow, Clikatat Ikatowi and Second Story Window so there was that inbreeding effect that happens in scenes. Hardcore in San Diego in the late eighties was dying due to the violent scene and large number of skinheads that we had here. There wasn’t much going on hardcore-wise aside from a strong straight-edge scene. Our group of friends were stuck in the middle of being young enough to be completely passionate about hardcore but also surrounded and into a post-hardcore more artistic scene with bands like Pitchfork. Our generation of stuff was a blending of bring post hardcore back into hardcore. Much of it went post hardcore again but all had a similar spirit. The Che Café scene was a way to get away from the violent old-school San Diego scene and was already a place that some hippie and alternative bands played. We brought small hardcore shows there along with some others before us like Amenity and Forced Down. We were part of the early nineties hardcore revival as I see it. In San Diego this was a small group of people so I did know many of them and as it grew and I started putting out more records I was right in the thick of that group of people. I also, mainly out of necessity from being on a limited budget, began to record the records. I followed the mantra of keeping punk records as cheap as possible and even have to this day. So keeping costs down was the only way to really make it possible to sell them at a low price. I had a studio that I ended up living in. I would record nearly all of the Gravity releases as well as many other bands. This gave me the opportunity to hear many things that were going on before they came out so I could ask bands to do a record, etc. This was a big link into staying in touch with what was going on. Having the studio also enabled me to offer bands who would have otherwise maybe not done a record with me to do something because I would offer to record them for free and use some songs on the Gravity release and they would have other songs from the session to use elsewhere. This was the case for Man is the Bastard. I think this all under one roof approach to the recording and art gave the label a consistent feel regardless of exact musical style because the records had a similar sonic and graphic quality; in combination with the kind of bands we put out this set Gravity apart as a sort of a phenomenon or sound.
tE] do you remember how you first became aware of Mohinder? their Gravity 7" in particular is a personal favorite in every regard and my show-going age started painfully soon after they stopped playing so even though I saw their post-Mohinder bands they remain a very deep mystery to me.
MA] I first heard Mohinder through a demo sent Gravity. I didn’t usually end up releasing stuff from demos because if I didn’t personally know the people I was hesitant. I didn’t release them for a year and we started writing each other. I heard their first two 7"s and decided to ask them to do a 7". That thing turned out to be an awesome record. Their sound is just pure and condensed. I remember them being so tight and flawless and getting basically every song right on the first take and them running through the vocals on one take too. That is something very few bands can do. The record took about as long as the actual 7" to record. The covers were fashion magazines that we cut into squares and printed in metallic ink on. To this day their cover is one of the best covers Gravity ever did. I wanted to do more stuff with them but they were gone with the wind shortly after that record.
tE] Do you have any notable memories from recording Bastard Noise 'Rogue Astronaut'?
MA] My memory of recording that was that we had to do it during business hours at the print-shop that I work at which made us cram into one little room to do it. I usually set up recordings when no one else is at the business on weekends so the band can set up in different areas. BN is different though and don’t have the regular set-up so it was possible. We recorded it with everyone in close quarters and did it over many sessions. They slept in my studio apartment when we did it over a couple of days. One morning I was watching football and Eric asked me what the fascination with the bobbling heads was. Eric is such a one of a kind and the way he will talk and his passion for music and other things is amazing. He is an absolute artist in my opinion. I love how in BN, unlike a lot of other noise bands, has vocals. I don’t know why more noise bands don’t do this because it adds a human level and works great; in BN at least. I have always felt honored to be associated with MITB/BN.
tE] I really enjoyed the first Gravity VHS (still need to watch the second VHS). Did video work come about similarly to recording bands/writing music or is that separate interest that you worked into Gravity world?
MA] Making videos was a long-lost love of mine. In high school I was big into the TV Production class and even had a show called Nearly Dead that we put on local public access tv. It was a Twilight Zone-ish short horror story show set to Misfits, Samhain, Slayer, etc. Later, I also used to video shows for years and had so many tapes I would love to see now of bands like Statue, Amenity, Chain of Strength, etc. Unfortunately, I had my camera and most of my tapes stolen out of my car. Even at the time I was more upset about losing the tapes; they likely made it to a dumpster somewhere.
The Gravity compilation videos were fun to make and the very low-fi look of them was intentional. They were mostly all shot on super 8 film and recorded live to 8 track then matched up when edited on the computer. Some of the videos turned out better than others. A couple I like are the Sea of Tombs one shot at Sea World or the Black Heart Procession one shot in their living room. I am proud of those releases but they largely fell through the cracks and I haven’t heard much comment about them from people. The second video comp is also on DVD and I put all of them on the Gravity YouTube channel. I should probably update the videos to higher quality though because I uploaded them a long time ago and YouTube lets you upload at higher res these days.
tE] Was there ever any releases that were planned that didn't pan out or any releases you wished you could've done? Anything you'd still like to do?
MA] A release that never panned out that I wish I could have done and what was going to be the first Gravity release was an Amenity flexi. I even have completed cover art for it done by the guitar player Tim Gonzales. It was supposed to be a recording from their last show but for some reason we never got the tape of it or it was accidentally not recorded. The singer Mike said there was a tape but it never materialized.
Another record that was supposed to come out was a Crash Worship 7" that did end up coming out on Vinyl Communications. Crash Worship were an amazing phenomenon whose live shows were unlike anything ever seen. I was so happy when they agreed to do a 7" although it was an odd match for Gravity. I think Gravity always released a wide range of sounds but this was still a stretch. Their "In the Labyrinth of the Master" 7" had test pressings and a release date but when they gave me the art, I had a problem with it. Maybe I shouldn’t have cared but virtually all their previous records’ art had been great. This cover had a naked cartoon Satan kicking back on a pentagram with a 666 on it. I had never asked a band to re-do art before or since. Crash Worship were highly respected and didn’t like me telling them to change their art, they refused.
A band that I had wished to release but didn’t get the chance was Native Nod. When Heroin played a show at John Hiltz’ house in New Jersey I saw a member of the band there. I loved their first 7" and asked them if they would be into doing a record. They said thanks but they were happy with the label they were on.
This American Life (National Public Radio; PRI; available on iTunes)
This is a podcast about the regular folks, like you and me basically. The host and founder Ira Glass is like the Scorese of our time, with his unblinking lens or in this case microphone he doesn't shy away from the gritty and downright depressing parts of our human society. What I think is the major selling point (but it's free you might be thinking... true!) is that even though it is depressing to listen to, you realize that most of the time you aren't the person they're talking about so you can kinda just watch someone elses depressing life and feel better about your own life in a weird way if that makes sense. This is one of the greatest podcases in the world, It's basically the template for how our stories will be told in our future during Socialism and further into the future once we've fully liberated humanity into a classless, borderless Communist world.
The Best Show On WFMU (iTunes)
This is a call in radio show in the New Jersey area but don't let that fool you because you can listen whenever you want via the magic of the podcast format. I never listen live so maybe I'm missing some of the sizzle of the moment but it's fun to listen later like as a historial document. It's basically this guy Tom who is like your older grouchy cousin or maybe a young uncle who comes over for Passover and just makes fun of everyone. I'm not sure he likes anything really but he's not mean if that makes sense, he's just really good at making fun of people and things. Listen to this when you're feeling revved up and ready to rock but also when you've just kinda had it with everything and want a good laugh. Some of the callers are annoying as hell and not anyone I'd ever want to talk to on the phone but luckily Tom feels the same and has devised many clever ways of hanging up on them that are supremely satisfing. This is a great podcast, though it's long so buckle up and enjoy the ride!
Fresh Air with Terry Gross (NPR, available on iTunes)
I heard a rumor on some forums where it was asserted that Terry Gross doesn't like to be in the same room as her interviewee. I think that's why these interviews are so cold and impersonal? I just don't click with this style of interaction, but alot of people do. I think this is what most people are listening to in their earbuds at coffee shops, because they have a lot of guests that appeal to our generations interests like artists, musicians, thinkers, politicians and actors, scientists and comedians too, basically all the stuff current informed citizens want to hear from they got it here for you! Beware of their critics segments though, this guy David Bienculi mainly, that guy is an asshole.
Radiolab (availbe from PRI and itunes i think?)
I only listened to this a few times but people always recommend it to me. It's about science and the unknown/unexplained and is hosted by two people, one of which is young & hip and the other is his grandfather I think, who might be going senial? It's alittle embarassing to listen to to be honest because the younger guy is so much smarter than his grandfather so it's like cringe city listening to them talk together. Also the production on this thing is trippy as f**k, like an early Pink Floyd album or Arca or someone who zips and zooms sounds around your head. I kinda can't hang with this one to be perfectly honest but if you want to stay current with our generations interest this is a MUST listen.
//CLASSIC CAR #5 - Ford Mustang 5.0 1989//
//MAGNETIZER MONDAY live radio show advertisement//
Hey music buffs, on the first Monday of each month from 6pm-7pm (PST Pacific Standard Time, time on the west coast of the US), I do an hour long radio gig on Lower Grand Radio, this internet radio station run out of the basement of my friend Alex Shen's dads house. I bring some samplers or keyboards, and usually invite some guests to play with me for the hour. If you enjoy hearing music made LIVE like you are going out to a show on a friday night, but without having to leave your house, speak to a door person, wait for a bartender, find a spot to stand that isn't being blocked by some really tall person or a really smelly person, and the group isn't trying to impress with you with how LOUD they are, then this radio show is the answer to your prayers because you can kick back on the couch in your underwear for all I care (encouraged) and tune in to www.lowergrandradio.com at that time, it'll be streaming right to your comp. If you like hearing spontaneous musical innovation then this is the show for you. There's even a chat room.
Thanks for reading, and in these times of righteous anger and sorrow, Be Peaceful (to those deserving of peace) On Your Journey, and Smash The State. love, OG Wormhole