* I like stories about mummies, especially ones from unknown civilizations
* All about Quaaludes
* If you’re not sick of reading about Greece, this is pretty good : Greece And The Curse Of Leisure
* Aurora Monster Scenes – the most controversial toys of a generation
* Dieter Moebius has died
* Where did the words ‘hip’ and ‘hipster’ actually come from?
* All about Wilko Johnson
* How is the recovery from Hurricane Katrina going in New Orleans, you ask?
* “The right to enjoy a cold one with lunch is such a fundamental part of the German experience that it is written into many job contracts. On my first day of work at a TV station in Berlin, I was surprised to find my colleagues sunning themselves with pilsners outside the office cafeteria shortly before noon. Throughout the city, beer gardens double as playgrounds so parents can let their offspring run loose, although perhaps it’s the other way around.” Looking for an IPA in beer-soaked Berlin
* All about Blue Öyster Cult
* The evolution of profanity
“The only window in my room (number 107) gave out on a gloomy, fetid air shaft, from which a revolting odor arose. I turned on the light. The walls, the bed, the table, and the floor were black. Black with cockroaches. I have encountered throughout the world all imaginable types of insects, and have even developed indifference toward the fact, even come to accept, that we live among countless millions of flies, roaches, and ticks, among ever-replenished swarms of wasps, spiders, earwigs, and scarabs, amid billows of gadflies and mosquitoes, clouds of voracious locusts. But this time I was stunned; not so much by the number of cockroaches – although that, too, was shocking – but by their dimensions, by the size of each one of these creatures. These were roach giants, as big as small turtles, dark, gleaming, covered in bristles, and mustached. What made them grow so large? What did they feed on? Their monstrous proportions paralyzed me. For years now I had been swatting flies and mosquitoes, fleas and spiders, with impunity; now, however, I was facing something of an entirely different order. How should I deal with such colossi? What should I do with them? What stance should I adopt toward them? Kill them? With what? How? My hands shook at the very prospect. I felt that I wouldn’t know how, that I wouldn’t even have the courage to try. More – because of the cockroaches’ extraordinary dimensions, I felt certain that if I leaned over them and listened, I would hear them emitting some sound. After all, many other creatures their size communicate in a variety of ways. They squeal, croak, purr, grunt – so why not a cockroach? A normal one is too small for us to be able to hear it, but these giants? Surely they will make noises! But the room remained absolutely quiet: they were all silent – closed, voiceless, mysterious.”
“I noticed, however, that when I leaned over them, straining my ears, they rapidly retreated and huddled together. Their reaction was identical whenever I repeated the gesture. Clearly, the cockroaches were revulsed by a human being, recoiled with disgust, regarded me as an exceptionally unpleasant, repugnant creature.”
“I could embellish upon this scene and describe how, infuriated by my presence, they advanced on me, attacked, crawled over me; how I became hysterical, started to tremble, fell into shock. But this would not be true. In reality, if I didn’t come near them, they behaved indifferently, moved about sluggishly and sleepily. Sometimes they pattered from one place to another. Sometimes they crawled out of a crack, or else slid into one again. Other than that – nothing.”
“I knew that a difficult and sleepless night awaited me (also because the room was inhumanly airless and hot), so I reached into my bag for some notes about Liberia.”
As I said in yesterday’s post (see below, I Go To See A Band), I did some interviews for the liner notes for the forthcoming White Zombie vinyl box set, and I was asked afterwards to elaborate on a few points. Here are some memories from the making of the La Sexorcisto album. Like the other piece, this isn’t a proper story, but a series of things I wrote down as they occurred to me.
The liner notes for La Sexorcisto say that it was recorded during May 1991, which, okay. It is very, very difficult to remember much about that time period, besides the actual work of recording the album, but it seems to me like it was pretty warm — in the photograph of us in the control room with Iggy Pop, we’re wearing Summer clothes. (the photo is in Sean’s book)
I have a print of that picture, and it’s the only one I have from the making of the record. There are others, but I don’t remember anyone taking many photos, and carrying a camera wasn’t something a lot of people did at that time. Film cost money, developing cost money, and your point n’ shoot snapshots almost always looked like shit when you got them back from Walgreens. I don’t think any of us were in the habit of writing things down, either, which makes it difficult to think about. I do have a scrapbook somewhere, with Iggy Pop’s cab receipt in it. He walked in, said, “hi, I’m Jim”, and asked about getting reimbursed for his taxi ride uptown, and we all looked at each other, and I thought, “I’ll buy Iggy’s receipt from him, that’ll be a cool thing to have”.
I should go looking for that scrapbook. It got wet during Hurricane Katrina, and is probably still moldy.
(A note about Iggy Pop coming to the studio to do his voiceover on Black Sunshine : I’d had, previously, the chance to meet people from bands I was a fan of, but Iggy was the first genuine rock star I ever met, and I cannot emphasize enough what a positive experience it was. He knocked out his part on the track pretty quick [I remember that when he got in the booth, he said, “Okay, I want to hear mainly myself in the cans, no reverb, LOUD”], and then hung out for a couple of hours, telling us stories and bullshitting about the state of music. He was very, very friendly, and kindly answered all our questions about his life and work. )
Anyway, I don’t know. La Sexorcisto, recorded in May / June, maybe?
We recorded at a place called 321, which was at 321 W.44th street. It had been the Record Plant from 1968 to 1987, a very, very famous studio. When I was exploring some of the empty rooms, I found a box full of invoices from the late 70s, billing for session time for Cheap Trick, Bruce Springsteen, Kiss, and Blondie. I have no idea why I didn’t swipe one as a souvenir.
I didn’t learn until much later that Jimi Hendrix recorded Electric Ladyland there. So, I moved to NYC when I was 20 years old, and I played on the stage the Ramones and countless others played on, and then I recorded where Jimi Hendrix and countless others recorded. So I need a new childhood dream, I guess.
I don’t know what, exactly, was going on there, business-wise, but it felt like they had started renovating and run out of money — there was drywall stacked up everywhere, holes in the walls, wires dangling. The live room was a massive, two floors tall, unfinished space. It’s very unusual, in New York City, to see a space like that, high up in a building. The scene was very different from what you might imagine a legendary recording studio to be like. The lounge didn’t have much in it besides a stained couch and a battered boombox.
I’m guessing that we were getting a bargain rate, recording there.
Hardly anyone worked at 321. I remember that there was a reception area in the front, which occasionally had one person in it, and there was a guy or two (techs, maybe – I don’t think there was a house engineer) who came through once in a while. I asked a guy if there might be a guitar stand laying around, and he laughed in my face.
I do remember that the room we mixed in was pyramid-shaped, and we were told that John Lennon had built it as his personal studio. I don’t know if that’s true, but he did record Imagine and Double Fantasy there, and he was recording there on the day he was killed.
The thing that was really unusual about making the record was how little supervision there was. Geffen Records was an L.A. company, and, as far as I know, the only representative of the company was Michael Alago, the A&R guy who signed us. Alago had signed Metallica to Elektra, and it seemed like, on the basis of that, he pretty much had carte blanche to do whatever he wanted. I don’t remember meeting or dealing with anyone else from the label until after that Summer, when we moved to Los Angeles – the reaction of a lot of the Californian Geffen staff being “who the fuck is this band, and what the fuck are we supposed to do with them?” That whole thing, waiting in purgatory for La Sexorcisto to come out, is another story.
Alago came by the studio a couple of times, but largely let us get on with it. It was just us, and Andy Wallace, and his assistant David Carpenter.
Savatage were in the other studio, mixing their Streets rock-opera album. I don’t think the guys from the band were around much – I certainly don’t remember having any conversations with them. The producer needed a drum roll on one of the tracks, their drummer wasn’t there, and, this being well before the time when you could easily mimic such a thing digitally, they paid Ivan $50 to do it. As I recall, he was delighted about this.
I remember also peeking at their guitar gear, fancy rolling flight cases containing shock-mounted amps and signal processors, rack gear with numerous blinking LEDs. I didn’t know much about this stuff yet, but I was definitely dreaming about it. My very fondest wish at that time was for a big, flashy rack full of gear, and a fancy heavy metal guitar (the one I recorded the album with was made in Japan and cost $350) and a guitar tech to take care of it all. (If you want to read more about that guitar, and other gear used on the album, that’s here)
As it was, we each received a few hundred dollars to cover studio costs. I bought strings, picks, and new wah wah, and a Boss OC-2 octave pedal (I had seen Circus Of Power using this pedal, to great effect), and I paid a few weeks rent on my boarding-house room in Brooklyn with the rest of the money. I couldn’t work during the making of the album, so I was utterly, completely broke the entire time. Eating one meal a day, if that. I drank a lot of coffee, which helped with the hunger. There was a bakery product called a Well-Bread Loaf Blondie, which New Yorkers may remember, that I lived on. Exclusively, some days.
Nobody told me I could rent nice gear or anything like that. The tubes in my Marshall head (which were the same ones that came with the head when I bought it new, and had been in it for every show I’d played with the band) flamed out during the making of the album – I literally did not know that tubes wear out, I don’t think any of us did. When I got the amp back, it sounded quite different.
Here’s a question I get asked all the time : was there a specific moment when you said to yourself, “I’ve made it!” — I do have an answer for that, but it’s not what people expect. New York City is a hard place. It’s not nice to be poor, but it’s especially difficult in a city that’s filled with rich people and locked doors. In NYC, excerpt for the parks and the sidewalks and wherever it is that you sleep, There’s no space where you can actually BE, unless you have a key, or power, or you’re spending money.
I couldn’t afford to eat in restaurants – except for, of course, slices of pizza, and sometimes, the very cheap Ukrainian diners on the Lower East Side (another thing people who lived in New York at that time might remember is the Leshko’s breakfast special).
I couldn’t afford to see bands, although The Limelight was free on, I think, Tuesday nights, and we could get into some of the metal clubs for free. We could always get into the Cat Club, which is where the poodle-haired glam metal bands played. I saw, as a result, a huge number of those bands. I was, for the most part, excluded from doing anything else. I went to Tower Records to read magazines. I used to go to the library a lot, to kill time. There wasn’t really anything to do besides practice guitar all day, which I did, frequently.
Back to the question : New York is made of buildings, and when you’re used to being down on the street, shut out, it is a very powerful thing psychologically to be able to get up off the street and into one of those buildings. I remember, first, being in an office, signing the Geffen contract, thinking the whole time about having walked in through the lobby as a client, not through the back as a bike messenger or servant. Then, at the studio, one whole wall of the room where I cut guitar overdubs was glass (I can’t remember what floor the place was on, but it was up there), and there was a deck, and we could go up on the roof, which I did every chance I got, to look out over the city.
In retrospect, getting signed (which was something everyone we knew wanted) and being in a studio, up in the sky, with a famous music-industry-veteran producer (actually, I should say semi-famous — the very next job Andy Wallace did was to mix Nirvana’s Nevermind, which is what made him FAMOUS) who was treating me very well and taking my ideas seriously .. was, for me, a much bigger leap from the year and a half leading up to that time than anything, platinum records, playing arenas, whatever, that happened after.
Even today, it would probably not be a wise move to take the subway from Times Square to Brooklyn at 3 in the morning, but in pre-Giuliani New York it was downright suicidal. And unavoidable, for me. I worked very long days when I was recording guitar tracks, like noon to 2am (listen to the record; it has quite a bit of guitar on it), and I liked being in the studio so much that I would hang out all day when somebody else was tracking.
(I was at some point, during writing this stuff down, going to go into exhaustive detail about how the album was recorded on a Sony PCM 3348 48-track digital machine, and then I remembered that absolutely nobody gives a shit about that — suffice to say that there were a lot of tracks, and I was able to do as many guitar overdubs as I wanted. Sometimes, Sean was in the control room with me, egging me on : “now do another part, a minor third above the one you just did!” We had a lot of fun with that) (I should mention also that Andy had been in bands and was a very musical person – you might say, “well, duh”, but many record producers approach the work in a way that’s more technical than artistic, and I have worked with studio people who have never played music –so, what I was going to say is that Andy knew the lingo, had some good guitar ideas, and helped us arrange some of the songs)
Again, I remember it as being hot. These rides home seem like Summer in my memory, and there was that out-of-control, dangerous feeling that Summer in the city brought, then.
A couple of nights I thought “Great, guitarist killed while recording debut album” — one night there was a gang of kids working their way towards me, fucking with people, trying to snatch purses, etc. — I stuck out like a sore thumb in any situation, at that time, but on a Brooklyn-bound train I REALLY stuck out. They were moving slowly, but they had their eyes on me the whole time. They were almost on top of me when I got to my stop, and I used an old New York trick — the doors opened, and I sat still, pretending like I wasn’t getting off, until the doors-closing chime sounded, at which point I dashed off the train and up the stairs. I heard a lot of shouting and door-banging behind me.
Another time, I think it was like a week later, I came up out of the station, and an old guy made like he had a gun in his pocket and told me to give him all my money. I was in a very good, very excited mood because I had laid down a lot of tracks that day and I had a cassette of some rough mixes with me. I threw a quarter at him, which hit him in his forehead, cheerfully told him to go fuck himself, and ran home.
The White Zombie vinyl box set is coming together; we’ve gotten test pressings back, they sound good, and we’ve seen some mock-ups of the cover. I can’t give you a release date or say much more about it, but a LOT of work is going into this thing, and I think it’s going to be exceptionally cool. The guy who’s writing the liner notes (they’re going to be extensive) asked me to go into more detail about a couple of things I mentioned during the interview I did, one of which was the time, before I was in the band, when I went to see White Zombie, tape recorded the gig, had no way to get home, and walked around New York City all night. I had to think about it for a while, and then I wrote this. It isn’t presented as a story, but as a series of facts that I wrote down as I remembered them.
The gig, at CBGB, was supposed to be with the Necros headlining, but Laughing Hyenas got switched in at the last minute. Saturday, March 26, 1988.
Dig Dat Hole became Cop Shoot Cop later. I don’t remember much about them, maybe that they had unusual percussion, or no guitar, or a sampler — I can’t remember a thing about Happy Flowers.
I’m pretty sure I caught all the groups, as I would have gotten to the gig early (I was starving for something cool to do, and I would have wanted to study the bands, pick up clues, look at guitars), but at that time, the most fashion-forward of the ex-hardcore kids were getting into some advanced hairstyles (laughing Hyenas featured another white guy with dreads, a rarity at that time), everything was trending towards metal or hard rock, and if a band didn’t have long hair and volume and ROCK, I wasn’t very interested.
White Zombie had a lot of hair, and flames on their guitars, so they fell exactly and perfectly into my zone of interest.
I had a Sony TCS tape recorder, slightly bigger than a Walkman, which had a stereo mic that you could remove and furtively clip to your shirt collar, and I recorded all of WZ’s set and most of Laughing Hyenas’. I don’t know what happened to that cassette, or to the late-80s NYC field recordings I used to make, which would be slightly interesting now. I did recently find a tape with some snippets of us in the van, talking, from my first WZ tour, Summer 1989.
I didn’t know anyone (at the gig, and, really, I barely knew anyone in New York), and I didn’t talk to anyone, and I certainly didn’t have a car, and I lived in far-off New Jersey, from where I commuted to the city every day by bus, into the Port Authority.
The last bus back to NJ ran, I can’t remember, not that late, like 10-10:30pm. The first bus the next morning ran not very early (even later than normal,I think, because the next morning was a Sunday), maybe 10:30am — so, what this meant was that I would have to spend the night in the city.
The Port Authority Bus Terminal (and 42nd St. in general) at that time was a nasty, dangerous place (you didn’t want to spend any more time there than you had to), so I had to figure out what to do all night. I lingered at CBGB as long as I could, then I went to the Kiev (restaurant, 2nd Ave. and 7th St.), which was open 24 hours and was where you could fill up on soup and huge slices of challah bread for very little money.
The people who ran Kiev were pretty good about letting you linger over coffee and a newspaper, which I did for a couple of hours, and then I started to wander aimlessly, listening to the recordings I had just made. I remember listening, also, to Zodiac Mindwarp and Gaye Bykers On Acid.
I bought AA batteries at all-night bodegas, and coffee. I walked as far downtown as Wall St., my first time seeing that area at night. I vividly remember how empty and spooky it was. In general, the city was very quiet and there were very few people on the street. I went as far uptown as Central Park. Another thing I remember clearly is sitting on a bench there and listening to White Zombie and looking at the trees in the darkness.
“Born in 1931, Galina Balashova studied architecture at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture and in 1957 took up a position with the Russian spaceship and space-station builder OKB-1. Initially concerned with constructing the earth based factories and employee accommodation, she took on responsibility in 1963 for the interiors of the Russian spacecraft including the Voskhod and Soyuz spaceships, the ill-fated Buran orbiter project and the Salyut and Mir space stations, Her interior design for the cockpit and living quarters of Mir were subsequently taken on by the International Space Station, ISS“.
“Largely based on Galina Balashova’s charmingly evocative and expressive watercolors, design for the Soviet Space Program promises to give rare prominence to an aspect of the global space race that is seldom given any attention, yet one which in future years will become something that is not just pertinent and relevant to astronauts and cosmonauts, but us all. If we should enter a future with commercial space travel, space station hotels and moon colonies, questions as to the importance of spaceship aesthetics will cease to be theoretical”.
“The Kappezu, especially in Aoyama Gakuin University students in 1963 (Toru Oyama only Nihon University students) is formed has been folk group. In “Goodbye two of our star-like” in 1967 from Polydor played a record debut. The same year in November, released a “skeleton tonight the night fog” 2nd single. This song, which had been prepared as the debut song of The Tigers denied to the manager side, The Ruby of GS has also been recorded. However shelved not become released. What reason or is not clear, but was a member of the same Polydor was released from The Kappezu. As can be seen at the record jacket, and dress the tights systemic skeleton, but his is the reputation in dressed that it was aimed at the odd and did not reach up to hit. The following year in May 1968, and disbanded after it has released the 3rd single “your horse Pokopoko”. After that, “Green Fields” and renamed and re-debut in “at the banks of the river Imujin” in September 1969. “
* Laibach will be the first foreign band to perform in North Korea
* Billy Zoom has cancer
* Fans of Blade Runner will enjoy this
* Turkey’s once-booming folk-rock industry has mostly vanished, but a few holdout producers are still cranking out the hits : Big In Karaman
* A fun guide to visiting Japan
* Hate Mail, Mr. Bingo’s ongoing project where he sends actual hate mail to paying customers through mail carriers
* “ Moving past the end of the 1960s optimism about social change and deep into the economically troubled Me Decade, we can get a good sense of what the inverse of The Stooges’ ‘No Fun’ sounds like, listening for the apotheosis of the fun ideology in action in popular music of the 1970s. ” Fun will find a way
* Ian Hunter : the truth about Mott The Hoople, the drugs, and the manager with a death wish