“ When Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico, one of his first orders to his men was to burn the ships they arrived on. Cortez was committed to his mission and did not want to allow himself or his men the option of going back to Spain. By removing this option, Cortez and his men were forced to focus on how they could make the mission successful. “
I know that this quote sounds like something I found in a self-help book, but it’s a concept which I had never heard of before, that a friend told me about the other day. I am not going to search how many bands are using this for a name. Burn the fucking ships, indeed.
This cover stopped me in my tracks. I looked the title up, and it’s a crazy spin on the conventional plague/ horror story, and maybe I’ll read it when it comes out. I always feel like the really cool designers are working on book covers, not album covers, which makes sense because ( some ) people are still buying books, so there’s still some work-for-pay designing them. I believe that the little corner-niche bookshop will be with us for a while, but I don’t think the big box bookstores will be around very long — and that’s too bad, because I like walking around in those places and gazing, unfocused, until some title or other catches my eye. I miss the mega-CD stores, the Virgins and the Towers, where I used to do the same thing. Those days are long-gone, as is the time when you’d know who designed the cover of the record you were listening to : Barney Bubbles, with his fantastic pun-within-a-pun die-cut LP sleeves, or Hipgnosis, who did all the Pink Floyd covers ( and imagine Peter ” Sleazy ” Christopherson, working on the cover of Animals by day, and by night, playing in .. Throbbing Gristle ) or 4AD’s 23 Envelope.
Out on the interstate, when I see a Barnes & Noble ( Borders is closed, and in the south we have a place called Books-A-Million, but that one’s a Christian outfit, so, kind of creepy to me. I will drink their shitty coffee, though ), I always stop. I can’t really help it. It gets bland out there, where the malls and corn fields are, and, spotting a B&N, I’m like, ” Oooh, culture! “. Invariably, in these stores, which not only encourage you to browse, but to loaf in big chairs and read books and magazines for free, I come across those who I think of as my people : a couple of ratty skate-kids looking at books about guitars, an old guy in a beret in the coin-collecting section, an unconventionally beautiful girl who has no idea of the kind of stir she’s going to cause when she moves to the city, out of here, at last. When these places shut down, where will the people go?
Alan Moore : brilliant writer, thinker, psychedelic shaman, anarchist, fashion plate. I love Alan Moore, and I enjoy reading interviews with him, not just because he’s an entertaining guy, but because I always learn something.
“ With politics at the moment seemingly determined to keep ploughing on their same destructive course because they can’t think of anything other to do, when we’re facing the possibility of an economic apocalypse, of potentially an environmental apocalypse, we don’t necessarily have an infinite amount of time. I think that since our leaders are not going to address any of these problems then we really have no choice than to attempt to wrest the steering wheel from them. If they’re aiming at the precipice with the accelerator pedal flat to the floor, then we don’t have any other choices left. Do it now, in this generation, because we don’t how many more there’s going to be. ” – Alan Moore
I was going through some stuff the other day and I found this can, dated August 2005, which might be the only souvenir I have of Hurricane Katrina. Even though I carried a camera with me the whole time I was evacuated, everything was so crazy that it didn’t occur to me to take any pictures. There are a couple of shots from when we snuck back into the city in early September, but they don’t bear any resemblance to what things actually looked like, and they certainly don’t convey the utter surreality of the situation. We were driving around, got stopped a couple of times by the National Guard ( who were actually pretty nice ), and we heard that Molly’s was open, so we went to take a look. There was no power, but they were getting ice from the military and they had cold beer. There was us, a couple of helicopter pilots, and a couple of doctors in scrubs. I took a photo, which looks like some people in a bar.
Cel phones didn’t have cameras in them yet, let alone video, so there isn’t the flood ( zing! ) of images that there would have been if the storm had hit a few years later. I guess a lot of the technology that’s ubiquitous now was starting to appear around that time, but to us, the evacuation is a very clear dividing line between the old and the new : voice service was down, but we discovered that we could text, something most people hadn’t tried before. Social networking, too, was just a curiosity until it became the only way for much of the New Orleans diaspora to find each other. We stopped at libraries to go on MySpace, or we used wi-fi for the first time. “ Where’s Louie? Oh man, he was on his girlfriend’s roof in Mississippi and they got choppered out – I think he’s in Memphis. The wind picked up a church and dropped it on his car! ” ” Did you see Splinter’s van on the news? Across from that fire on Camp and St.Andrew that they kept showing for days? ” ” Yeah. Guess who I heard started the fire? ”
Now that everybody has a movie-camera-GPS-Twitter-feed-etc-etc device on them at all times, if the shit was really going to hit the fan in Hurricane Irene, I thought, things were going to be really different.
My mementos of the storm are inside me. I know what MREs taste like ( better than you’d expect, and the tiny bottles of Tabasco are nice ), I know how to use a chainsaw, how to clean a gun, how power and sewer hookups work. My things aren’t as important to me as they used to be. I know how easily and thoroughly law and order can break down, and I know what it’s like when nobody’s in charge. That’s actual, real anarchy, and it’s not nice. I really liked New Orleans before Katrina, and I truly loved it for a while afterwards, when it was a wild west town where nothing worked and there wasn’t really much going on, but where we celebrated wildly as friends trickled back. We were in this together, now. Nobody visited for years, and people were convinced that the city was totally destroyed, or that gunmen were roaming the streets, and I liked that. Our own planet, poles apart from yours. Ragged, dark. Less rules. It’s different now, six years later. It’s a little more like a place in America, and I love it a little less.
Q : ” I bet you’d find commercial success a little unsettling. ”
Tom Waits : ” Ok, I’m mistrustful of large groups of people enjoying anything together. You try to be careful that you don’t wind up in one of those darkly ironic situations where you’ve become the very thing you despise. What you want is a faucet and a sink for your popularity. Otherwise you don’t get a drink for six years or the whole living room fills up with water. there’s very little in between. ” ( Photo from Nonclickable )
I don’t usually do stuff like this here, but, you know. Desperate times. Here.
The other night, my friend Rami had me laughing uncontrollably with his dead-on Dr. John impersonation, and he told me that NPR just aired a great 1986 interview, which I went and found for you. Doctor .. Mother .. Fucking .. JOHN. Unbelievable. Anyone familiar with 1950s-1960s New Orleans will tell you that the crazy stories here are not embellished, and while Dr. John is a mystical character portrayed by the great musician Mac Rebennack, his accent is 100% true old school NOLA – I know people down here who talk just like him. Also, you can go here and download Dr. John’s amazing, psychedelic first album.
Dr. John : NPR Interview
Rome was the West’s largest city, but after the fall of the Empire, “Its population declined from more than a million [some estimates say much more, maybe a few million] in 210 AD to a mere 35,000 during the Early Middle Ages, reducing the sprawling city to groups of inhabited buildings interspersed among large areas of ruins and vegetation.” As recently as 1848, the population was as little as 150,000, before rising back to its current level of 2.7 million.
Córdoba is estimated to have had around half a million or a million inhabitants at its height in the 11th century, before dropping to 20,000 in the 18th century. According to Wikipedia, the population didn’t start rising from that level till the 20th century ( even today it’s only a few hundred thousand ).
I remember reading an account of an English person visiting Jerusalem around the turn of the 20th century and finding the city nearly deserted. An American estimate from the late 19th century put the population at around 15,000, down from the low hundreds of thousands at its ancient peak.
Is there a city in the world like this now? Not a shabby boomtown with missing shingles and broken windows, deserted as quickly as it was built, but a city that was built to last, out of stone and bricks or concrete and steel, whose population has dwindled by orders. A city that existed for hundreds of years with a huge population, even millions, that has only a few tens of thousands of inhabitants.
People point to Detroit as a city in the middle of collapse, but Detroit’s peak population was around double its current level, and it had boomed to that level in a few decades. A huge shift, but not a multiple-orders-of-magnitude collapse, and without the infrastructure to support ten ghost citizens for everyone real one left behind. It is difficult to believe and perhaps tasteless to mention, but about two-thirds of Hiroshima’s citizens survived its nuclear attack.
If New York experienced a drop like Rome’s, there would only be about 145,000 people left in the city, shuffling over the viney bridges ( it currently takes 69,000 people to run the MTA, so train and bus service would be considerably reduced ). Williamsburg & Greenpoint ( Brooklyn CB1 ) had a population of 168,000 in the 2000 Census, and that’s gotta be way higher now. Or, think of it this way: Co-op City is about 55,000 people, Stuytown & Peter Cooper is 25,000.
Unlike the common ghost town, these cities were home to generations of people after their decay for whom their condition was normal. And they had monuments, temples, libraries, all the stuff seats of empires build. We still have economic town-emptying, along with environmental disaster ( Centralia, Chernobyl ), and war, but I can’t think of an example today of a place today where life is similar to how it must have been in these cities, but, I mean, it’s gotta happen again, right? – Jeb
Until now, I haven’t ever thought about why I enjoy collecting Christmas records. Most of them are pretty lame, so they’re easy to get, at thrift stores ( did every single member of the WWII generation listen to nothing but Mantovani, Sing Along With Mitch and Al Hirt? Jesus. ) or when the vinyl shops put out a box or two of them around the holidays .. I guess that’s part of it, but here‘s a collection of yule-time tunes ( mostly from my old records, and a few from other places ) which I really, genuinely like, for a number of different reasons.
J.’S VINYL XMAS CARD
01. The Beach Boys : Merry Christmas, Baby
02. Ed Harcourt : In The Bleak Midwinter
03. Lead Belly : Christmas is-A-Coming
04. Akim & Teddy Vann : Santa Clause Is A Black Man
05. Merle Haggard : If We Make It Through December
06. Rotary Connection : Silent Night Chant
07. Claudine Longet : Snow
08. Butterbeans & Susie : Papa Ain’t No Santa Claus ( And Mama Ain’t No Christmas Tree )
09. Jimmy McGriff : The Christmas Song
10. The Handsome Family : So Much Wine
11. Lord Beginner : Christmas Morning The Rum Had Me Yawning
12. The Moog Machine : Little Town Of Bethlehem
13. Little Cindy : Happy Birthday Jesus ( A Child’s Prayer )
14. Lou Rawls : The Little Drummer Boy
15. Kelly Pace, Aaron Brown, Joe Green, Paul Hayes, & Matthew Johnson : Holy Babe
16. Paul Revere & The Raiders : Rain, Sleet, Snow
17. Lou Rawls : Good Time Christmas
18. Leroy Carr : Christmas In Jail – Ain’t That A Pain
19. Rotary Connection : Santa’s Little Helpers
20. The Beach Boys : Auld Lang Syne
21. Lightnin’ Hopkins : Happy New Year
In the mid-90s, I was approached by Guitar World magazine to write a monthly column. I was taken by the idea insofar as I wondered if I could pull it off, but columns in guitar mags are about how to play stuff on the guitar ..which I am, evidence to the contrary, not very interested in. A crazy new sound? Awesome, you’ve got my attention. A dangerous band with matching guitars and a singer who’s pacing like a caged animal? Okay, yeah. Music I’d be absolutely incapable of making? Sure, let’s go. Learning to play other peoples’ solos note-for-note or teaching people mine? Not so much. While I might admire the skill of a speed-shredding virtuoso player, it is in passing and in the same way that I’d admire someone with an aptitude for long-distance running, or mimicry, or speed-typing.
What I decided to do was write nothing about how to play guitar. Back then, you could take lessons or buy Mel Bay books ( or do what I did, which is to spend hours and hours listening to records and trying to keep up ) but there was no practical guide for what to do once you’d figured a few things out and were ready to go jam with other people. Unless there was someone to teach you how to be in a band, you learned everything the hard way – doing it, gaining experience, and making lots of mistakes. Those were very different times : I wrote most of the pieces out longhand on a tour bus and faxed them in from a truck stop or a gig or wherever, and I never really knew if anyone was reading the thing at all — but I’ve been hearing from people who got a lot out of the column, and many of them have been asking if there’s any way to read it again ( to which I’ve been like, ‘I don’t know, eBay?’ ) – and now there is. All 21 columns are transcribed here.
by Thor Harris
1. Don’t Complain. Bitching, moaning, whining is tour cancer. If something is wrong, fix it or shut the fuck up you fucking dick. Goddamn.
2. If you fart, claim it.
3. Don’t Lose shit. Everybody loses shit. Don’t fucking do it. Asshole.
4. Don’t fuck anyone in the band. There are tons of people to fuck who are not in the band. Dumbass.
5. If you feel like shit all the time, drink less beer at the gig. You will play better & feel better. What are you, a child? Some have the endurance for self abuse. Most don’t.
6. Remember the soundman’s name. He will do a better job.
7. Eat oranges. Cures constipation & prevents colds.
8. Masturbate. Duh. Where & when? Be creative. You’re an artist right?
9. If YOU can’t carry your suitcase 3 blocks, it’s too goddamn big.
10. Respect public space in the van. Don’t clutter, you Fuck.
11. If you borrow something, return it. Not Fucked Up.
12. Do not let the promoter dick you or talk you out of the guarantee. If there were not enough people there, it’s their fault.
13. Driver picks the music.
14. One navigator only (usually sitting shotgun). Everyone else shut the fuck up.
15. Soundcheck is for checking sounds. Shut the fuck up while everyone else is checking.
16. Don’t wander off. Let someone know where you are.
17. Clean up after yourself. What are you, a goddamn toddler?
18. Touring makes everyone bi-polar. Ride the waves as best you can and remember, moods pass, so don’t make any snap decisions or declarations when you are drunk or insane.
19. Fast food is Poison.
20. The guestlist is for friends, family & people you might want to fuck. Everyone else can pay. They have day jobs.
21. Don’t evaluate your whole life while you’re sitting in a janitor closet waiting to go on. You think you’re above having shitty days at work? Shut up & do your goddamn job.
This list was written under the influence of lots of esspresso & anti-depressants while on tour w/ such greats as Shearwater, Swans, Smog, Lisa Germano, Angels of Light, Bill Callahan & many more. I hope this list will help you get along w/ your co-workers whatever your job is. Contributions to the list by Jordan Geiger, Kimberly Burke, Brian Orloff, Brian Phillips Celebrity Gang Bang, Kevin Schneider, Jonathan Meiburg, Michael Gira and some other folks.
Thanks for not being an asshole, Thor Harris
( click-click for full size-size ) It’s been interesting that fully half of the email I’ve been getting is about the records I’ve been producing and my various curatorial pursuits, which is not really what I was expecting, but gratifying .. and, yes, the other half is all about that White Zombie guitar sound. The volume of this mail is becoming difficult to handle, so I’m going to try and spell most of it out here, and we’ll leave it at that. Let’s begin, shall we?
Above is a photo taken of my on-stage rig by my guitar tech ( the mighty Michael Kaye ) – this would be from around the middle of the Astro-Creep : 2000 slog, which I can tell by the guitar lineup here : left to right, we’ve got my custom shop black Iceman ( in the ” straight C# ” tuning, i.e., low to high, C#, F#, B, E, G#, C# – we started using this tuning for some of the between-album stuff, like Feed The Gods and our cover of Black Sabbath’s Children Of The Grave, and then for a bunch of the Astro-Creep tracks ), then my black factory-made-in-Japan neck-through Iceman ( in the ” Drop C# ” tuning, low to high, C#, G#, C#, F#, A#, D# ), which is the guitar I used to record the rhythm tracks for More Human Than Human, Creature Of The Wheel, and etc. and my main guitar for playing those tunes live– next is a factory bolt-on Iceman in drop C# tuning, which was a spare. I honestly don’t remember if I ever broke a string and actually played this one.
Next is my blue Robin Machete ( in the ” half-step down ” tuning, low to high, D#, G#, C#, F#, A#, D# ) – we recorded the La Sexorcisto LP in the standard EADGBE tuning ( entirely with the cheap but solid Charvel 6 [ often referred to by fans as the '666 guitar' ] that you see on the cover of that album ) – we were, as far as I can remember, dimly aware of tuning down at that point but hadn’t messed with it yet – then, sometime during the long, long ( long ) tour for that album, we started tuning down half a step ( it’s amazing what that relatively minor change does to expand the width and breadth of a band’s sound ) and we recorded the ” tuned-up ” tracks on Astro-Creep ( Electric Head, Part 2, Etc. ) in that tuning as well, all of which were done with the same blue Machete. Next to that is the Astro-Surf guitar, custom made for me by Schecter — as per my instructions, a modern twin-humbucker copy of the iconic 1960s Teisco Spectrum 5 with a fantastic ” holo-flake ” finish .. you’ll notice that in the following years Schecter followed my lead and made the Teisco headstock standard on most of their guitars. Finally, after that, we have the custom shop prototype of my signature model ( the ICJ100WZ, or ” star ” ) Ibanez Iceman in straight C# tuning. The guitars for the recording of tracks in this tuning on Astro-Creep were pretty much evenly split between the two custom shop Icemans on view here — later, when the first factory-made signature model showed up, I retired the black one. Ibanez really did do a fantastic job with the production version – there is virtually no difference with the prototype.
( click-click for full size-size ) On to the rig. On the left, there’s the rack gear – this seems like a giant, complex stack of stuff, but if you look closely, you can see that it’s actually not. Top-to-bottom, there’s a Furman power supply, a couple of different wireless units ( you can never be too careful ), Whirlwind Multi Selector, Mesa signal splitter ( a quality device, although these days, when I have to send a guitar signal to a bunch of amps, I use a Radial JD7 ) .. next, there’s a vintage MXR 31-band graphic EQ, then a drawer containing a couple of pedals, which I think at this point was just an Ibanez Tube Screamer and an old MXR Phase 90.
Okay, now I’m going to take a moment to answer a question I get asked constantly : how did I get that cool sound on Blur The Technicolor? Well, so, we know that in recording heavy, guitar-driven music, to create a truly big sound we generally want to double the guitar – that is, record two of the exact same rhythm guitar parts and pan them so that one’s all the way in the left speaker, the other all the way in the right. This is not easy, as the technique only works if those 2 guitar tracks are as exactly identical as humanly possible — but the paradoxical thing is that you can’t just take one guitar part and duplicate it on another track and try to shift it with a little delay or by a tiny increment of pitch. That sounds like what it is, which is one guitar with an effect on it. The key to doubling guitars is that they must be alike enough to fool the brain into perceiving the two parts as one big one, but with enough tiny, human differences to where the sound is perceived as stereo. That’s retarded, right? Well, yes, but it works. It’s very difficult. At one point during the recording of Astro-Creep, I was having a lot of trouble doubling a part and to encourage me, Terry Date – producer of Astro-Creep – told me about how recording the rhythm guitar parts for Pantera’s Walk ( which he also produced ) took something like three days, with Darryl growing so frustrated that he nearly put a fist through the wall .. but the results are pretty stellar. If You listen to walk, it sounds like one very large guitar.
Anyway, so, I wanted to use my MXR Phase 90 ( block logo, therefore manufactured sometime between 1977 and 1984 – I bought it for ten bucks from a kid in the building WZ lived in when we first moved to L.A. ), which I managed to set so that the rate and tone of the phase-sweep ( yes, I know the Phase 90 has only one knob, but there is an internal control as well ) accented the guitar riff in a cool way .. the trouble was, one guitar track wasn’t going to cut it, so the guitar needed to be doubled. There’s no way that two guitar tracks are going to sound like one when the two have a modulating effect such as phase, unless that effect can be in sync, and how would you do that? Terry’s assistant Ulrich Wild ( who is kind of a genius with things like this, which is one of the reasons he’s been able to go on to become a big-shot producer himself ) figured out that, while hitting the footswitch on the pedal started the phase at any random point in its sweep, physically plugging the guitar cord into the pedal’s input jack started the sweep from the exact same point every time — so what we had to do was, Terry operated the tape machine, ..
( oh, let me point something else out here : Astro-Creep is an analog album. There was no pro-tools yet, per se — a lot of the loops were running on a primitive DAW that was synced up to tape, but the album was recorded and mixed on three 24-track Studer machines chained together. People assume that the ‘human’ instruments were chopped, diced, fixed, edited in a computer, the way anyone can do today – this is not the case. The guitar, bass, and drums on the album are as they were played, by people, in real time, working very hard. An odd fact is that the previous LP, La Sexorcisto, is a actually a digital album – producer Andy Wallace had access to a Sony 48-track digital tape machine, which was a pretty big deal at that point [ 48 tracks! You'll notice that I got really overdub-happy on that album. Because I could. ] but fell out of favor soon afterward. )
.. and Ulrich sat on the floor with the Phase 90 in hand and plugged the guitar cord into the pedal right before the part started, at exactly the same time on both takes, so that the phase effect would be in time with itself. A team effort which took all day to get right, but it sure was worth it.
Okay, back to the rack. Next, there’s the MXR Flanger/ Doubler. Notice that in the top photo, which is from later than the lower one, I’ve covered up both MXR rackmount units with black tape. I did this because people were always sniffing around, trying to figure out how I got my sound – and that’s, of course, ironic, because I 100% stole the Flanger/ Doubler idea from Darryl from Pantera. And he didn’t care at all, thought it was funny. Next, there’s a bunch of Rocktron stuff : Intellifex, Guitar Silencer noise gates, Rocktron-Bradshaw switching system. You can also see the foot controller for the switching system on top of the rack in both photos. The only pedal I had out on stage was my Dunlop 535Q wah ( although later I replaced that with a Dunlop remote wah ), and my guitar tech actually operated the pedals in the drawer, and the big stereo delays from the Intellifex, and channel switching, by hand with the foot controller. If you look at live footage from the period, you’ll see me stomping around a lot. Some of that was just stomping ( rarrrrrr !! ), but a lot of the time it was actually me signaling for a switch to be hit. Another backwards-ass thing I used to do is with the Tube Screamer – I did use it as my ” a little bit more ” boost pedal for solos, as is commonly done ( that’s the great thing about that pedal, is that it doesn’t actually sound like you’ve stepped on a pedal when you turn it on ), but I used a lot of controlled feedback in my playing, and I would set the Screamer to overpower the noise gates, which were necessary to make rhythm work sound tight through a massive-gain amp setup.
Let’s move on to the amps in the middle. Two Mesa-Boogie Triple Rectifiers, and two Randall Century 200s, each head feeding two Mesa standard Rectifier cabs, so that’s 4 stacks, two for each side of the stage, in stereo. Sean had an SVT 8X10 cab on each side of the drums as well — so we were, you know, loud, and we could hear everything wherever we were on stage. The idea behind this particular amp setup is that, yes, I was quite influenced by Darryl’s setup, feeding the Flanger/ Doubler into the Randalls, and I wanted to use aspects of that sound ( it’s a really weird sound, when you think about it ), but not have it sound exactly like Pantera — so I started running the Randalls through the Mesa cabs instead of the Randall Jaguar-loaded cabs ( which I liked a lot ), which resulted in a very different but cool sound, and I started running the more-normal-sounding Triple Recs alongside the Randalls, although set to ‘silicone diode’, not ‘tube’.
The setup in the studio for Astro-Creep was a little different. I wasn’t carrying a camera around at that point, and to my knowledge there aren’t any photos of what was going on, which is too bad. The setup for the album was the rack of gear you see in the photos and four half-stacks : A Randall Century 200 head through a Randall Jaguar cabinet, a Randall Century 200 head through a Mesa cabinet, a Mesa Triple Rec through a Mesa cabinet, and a Marshall Valvestate ( I was in love with that crazy transistor-metal sound that Tommy from Prong had ) through .. I don’t remember, either a Randall or a Mesa. These were all going at once, but each cab was miced with only a single Shure SM57, and then the four signals were summed in the console and sent to one track on tape. I was determined to achieve the sound I had in my head, and I was quite picky ( and a little bratty ) about the tones we were getting : there was quite a bit of moving the mics around, and I made Terry and Ulrich do quite a lot of radical EQing. I didn’t understand much about recording at this point, so I didn’t grasp that the general practice when recording most sound sources, especially electric guitars, is to use EQ as little as possible so as to leave room for EQing if it needs to be done during mixdown .. and that it’s a point of pride with recording engineers to attain a desired sound by selecting the proper microphones and positioning them correctly, which is a big deal, because when a mic is jammed right up in an amp’s speaker cone, moving it just half an inch can change the sound drastically.
Not that I would have given a fuck if I had understood any of that at the time. I was making a big-budget major label album, and I knew that this might be the one and only time in my life that a major corporation would pay for me to work at one of the best recording studios in the world, with the best engineers, and keep paying for it until it was done. My mantra was ” There is no reason for this to not be PERFECT “.
Later, when I dropped in at mix sessions for the Deftones’ Around The Fur album, Terry played me a track and said, ” Hear that? That guitar has NO EQ on it! ” .. and it did sound really good, and I just smiled and thought, ” Well, who cares? My record’s awesome! “. That’s a very good feeling.
P.S. I did not become interested in the Iceman because of Kiss, as is widely assumed. It was because of this guy right here :
.. And this other guy, seen here on the back cover of the first record I ever bought, might have had something to do with it too.
Although I listen to a fair bit of old timey music, I don’t fuck with the actual, original 78s too often. People have been collecting these records since way before I was born and I feel like the odds of digging through stacks of corny foxtrots and waltzes and finding something I like are not good. Still, I have gotten hold of a couple of cool discs : here’s Joe Turner and Pete Johnson, from the Columbia Boogie Woogie set — check it out : this song is regarded as one of the most important precursors to rock n’ roll.
Joe Turner & Pete Johnson : Roll ‘em PeteWhen I was a kid, I was taught that the first rock n’ roll song would have been something like Bill Haley & The Comets’ Rock Around The Clock. This is, of course, ridiculous, and racist to boot – there are recordings of boogie woogie proto-rock going all the way back to the 1920s ( interested? Check Pine Top’s Boogie Woogie by Pine Top Smith [ 1928 ], or Hastings Street by Charlie Spand and Blind Blake [ 1929 ] ).
Where would I rather be this afternoon? Tapping my brown shoe foot on a 1938 sawdust-covered floor, watching these guys do this live. Miles-away dreams like that are a few inches closer in New Orleans, which is one of the reasons I live here.
You should really go here and listen to today’s NPR interview with Queen guitarist Brian May. I don’t have to tell you about Queen, but here’s what some random guys had to say:
.. of course, some people think that May is the personification of evil !
For the most part, I’ve given in to the practical, digital, globalized world. I don’t drive a cool old car made out of heavy American metal anymore, nor do I trawl eBay for the wonderful hand-stitched-in-the-U.S.A. Vans skateboard shoes of my youth. I believe that there’s something to be said for desire ( and the modern American’s lack of it, which I suspect is a factor in many things not seeming as exciting as they used to ), as in the anticipation of picking up contact sheets to see if you took any good pictures — but, really, doing most things the way we had to 10, 20 years ago would seem utterly time-consuming and difficult. My clunky collection of old SLR cameras and lenses will remain in a box, underneath some other shit. My Polaroid camera, however, is a little closer to my heart.
I bought my Polaroid Impulse at the giant Woolworth’s on 34th Street in New York City in 1990, and it was certainly ( drum roll ) an impulse buy. We in White Zombie had gotten a small ( exceedingly small, compared to other bands from the downtown metal scene ) check upon signing to Geffen Records and my share amounted to a new wah wah, a Boss Octave pedal ( the OC-2, which I had seen Ricky from Circus Of Power use to great effect ), a couple of guitar cords, and two weeks rent in advance. And eating, which was very nice. And the camera pictured above, which I could scarcely afford film for, but which seemed perfect for documenting my haphazard life. I carried the thing around for a couple of years as my only camera, and I continued to use it occasionally ( for fun, and because I love that no-depth-of-field, crazy-color look ) until Polaroid discontinued 600 film in 2007.
Now, throwing practicality to the wind, a company called The Impossible Project has started manufacturing instant film. It’s quite expensive ( the film comes in 8-packs, and works out to something like $2.75 a shot ), and it is totally unstable. The pics I took with the old Polaroid film, including those from the early 90s, look just as they did back then — and, since the Impulse doesn’t really work without flash, they all look pretty similar with regard to depth, focus, light etc. … the Impossible shots ( I used a film called Silver Shade, which is at their store ) are all different, and keep changing from day to day. Granted, they tell you up front that the prints will be sepia-toned and that heat and bright light will shift them tonally towards red, as well as having other, unpredictable effects – and I live in the deep south, and it is summer, so most of these were taken in 90º+ heat .. I guess the next time I’m in Winnipeg in January ( it could happen, right? ), I’ll take some more and see what develops.
The W.H.Stark house * Orange, TX.
Lil’ Doogie eating Vietnamese food * Harvey, LA.
Statue of a shriner holding a little girl with polio * Marzuq Shrine, Tallahassee, FL.
Minor Strachan * New Orleans, LA.
Rob Schwager * Weeki Wachee, FL. In addition to the comics, posters and hot rod art he cranks out, Rob does this really cool thing where he rivets together sheets of aircraft aluminum to create a piece of fuselage and paints WWII bomber nose art on it, either reproductions of original designs or totally new ones. If you want, he’ll even add bullet holes.
Skulls * Laredo, TX.
Drew Vonderhaar * New Orleans, LA.
Chopper Stepe, with Nikki * Orlando, FL.