July 7, 2015

Night has fallen. We sit in the grass, surrounded on three sides by mausoleum walls. Our backs exposed, open to the others, open to Pulaski, the buses and cars. No visible stars, just the lights of airplanes and the lights of the city diffused and reflected in the sky.

We are done with the goth of the evening. The amazing metal drone dirge feedback wall is over. Now we sit and watch weirdo cosmic gnosis. Wobegon finger picking with light percussion. Americana breaches atomic motes.

The two sit on stools and Daniel Higgs spiels of the universe and cosmos. With Gestures and lurches. Baffling and funny. Charming. This mellow night in July. Cool. Too cold for the five dollar beers. The grass against my calves. I sit on my canvas bag. My hands touch the blades of grass.

My friend is hunched over. Wrapped in sweatshirt, hood up. He draws with pen in his small notebook. A four legged animal that erupts in shapes of energy, swirls of form that overtake the remaining white space. This will be his offering. His gift to Daniel Higgs.

He pauses, sets pen and paper down. Leaves his bag and walks through the seated bodies. Weaving through blankets and lawn chairs. He stops to the left of the stage and kneels down. Motionless for minutes passing. His face briefly illuminated by the light of his phone. A quick picture. A moment. Another pause. Then he returns.

I am happy. And I am aware of being happy. Earlier in the evening, just after dinner, I began to feel the first pangs of panic creeping in. Guilt. Thoughts of not being at home with my family. Initial thoughts of what if. What if. What if I have a panic attack while out with my friend. But the fear isn’t there. I feel it in my stomach. The nervous energy floating above my wrists. But the fear isn’t there. I acknowledge my feelings. My body. Breathing. Listening to the music my friend is playing for me in the car. By the time we arrive, my panic body has diminished.

And I am in enjoyment. This damp grass. This cool night air. These airplane landing patterns. This twee cosmology music. Sung alone by Fumie Ishii, this beautiful penultimate song before saying goodnight.


interviews with dylan posa and weasel walter

Note – I am slowly going through and cleaning up my folders on our hard drive. I just came across a bunch of old interviews I did with people while I was a journalism student at Columbia College Chicago. These two are from when I was working on the college magazine for two semesters. A friend and I did a piece about working musicians who still had day jobs. There were others that she interviewed, Dylan and Weasel were the ones I interviewed. It was done in the fall of 2000, I think. If you happen to be Dylan Posa or Weasel Walter and you want this taken down, just let me know. I’m putting it here for posterity and nerdy archival reasons.

Dylan Posa – Cheer Accident – Reckless Records

One of the things that helps about working a retail job is the tremendous amount of freedom you have in terms of leaves of absence and so forth. It’s also the lack of real responsibility, as sometimes you really need to not think about anything else. Also, Reckless happens to have a really generous policy on employee purchases, so musicians being music freaks that they are can amass a huge collection of stuff. I happen to also like working, because I don’t really manage my time very well and it imposes a schedule on me. I can’t really face a whole week with nothing set, so it’s nice to know that I have to sandwich song-writing sessions in between day shifts.

What shit jobs have you had in the past. how does yr current one stack up? Which was the best? Most accommodating one for yr rock n roll lifestyle? Any horror stories?

The current situation is by far the best and most accommodating. I think the worst was Blockbuster Video – lots of supervision and very few perks. I think we got free rentals (but only a certain amount a week). We had to be clean-shaven (there was a razor and shaving cream in the bathroom), you couldn’t wear gym shoes, there was a monitor up in the manager’s office where he or she could monitor the cashier’s every step. We were expected to stop thieves ourselves. I’ve never had a temp job, but I imagine those would be even worse. That’s probably better for musicians who are skilled in computer stuff, because they can drop a job in a minute and still pick up something else at any time.

What do you feel it takes to survive as an independent musician in general and in Chicago?

Well, that’s tough for me to say because I happen to like the position I’m in. The record label doesn’t pay my way so I don’t feel beholden in any way to alter what it is that I do for them. So many bands get burned this way, I’m still surprised that bands don’t just do it themselves nowadays. I think in terms of survival, Chicago breeds a sort of incestuous cross-pollination where everybody plays in everybody else’s side-project. That seems to work here.

How hard is it to balance yr passion with yr need to survive?

Not very hard for me, as it turns out. I work pretty slowly anyway, so I like to have something to do. Of course, this could all be justification until my amphetamine addiction becomes affordable.

I think I asked this already but what are yr five favorite songs relating to or that help get you through a shift at work?

Ex-French T-Shirt – Shudder To Think
Now That’s The Barclords – Urge Overkill
Freddy’s Dead – Curtis Mayfield
The Sidewinder – Lee Morgan
Daddy Needs a New Throne – Camberwell Now

Weasel Walter – Flying Luttenbachers – Unemployed at the moment

What kind, and how many shit jobs, have you had in the past while working in music. Were they awful? Good? Beneficial for your music schedule? Traumatizing? Which one was the best?

At this point I see any occupation that doesn’t directly further my creative goals as a waste of my time unless if it pays a substantial amount. I am not independently wealthy and I’ve done what I’ve had to to survive and devote my life to making things. I’ve worked as a record store clerk, a bike messenger, a telemarketer, and other crappy jobs like that in the past 10 years. Those last two jobs were so terrible I wanted to kill someone. Creating music and the various processes that surround it soaks up the majority of my time, although it does not pay well.

How long did it take until you could live off of yr music? How did you feel after you realized you could?

I haven’t had a job in more than 2 years, but I’m going to have to get one soon to level off my growing debt. I have been extremely thankful for the time I had and I didn’t squander it. It’s great to wake up every morning and concentrate on what I want to do. Unfortunately, what I do isn’t at all in style, so the income is extremely sketchy. I’ll probably try computer temping. It’s not worth my time to work at some dumb job for less than 20 bucks an hour at this point… my time is extremely valuable to me and I’d rather starve than have it wasted!

What do you think it takes to survive as a musician in general and as a musician in Chicago? Do you feel you have it?

I am not the average musician. I have focused on creating the kind of art that is has proven to be largely unpopular and uncommercial. I think the thing that it takes to be a well-paid musician anywhere is the ability to conform to the musical roles that fit the demands of what is desired by the paying public. I refuse to do this. I am not interested in
compromising my aesthetics for acceptance. I have the ability to survive as a human being, but I am not making a good living off of my music. I accept this as reality. I do not recommend trying to be a professional musician unless if you’re absolutely sure what you want to do and you are ready to accept the consequences for making that choice. This society has no respect for culture, so most people doing experimental or truly creative music will have to be prepared to starve.

How difficult is it (was it) to balance yr passion for music with your need to survive?

Very difficult. So-called “Musicians” are a dime a dozen – close to worthless, really. The market is saturated with mediocrity and much of this is rewarded because most American consumers are mediocre people and that’s what they relate to. The music business is a conspiracy run by a wealthy and powerful minority who call the shots on what the majority have options to digest. This way they can control it to their advantage. It’s very difficult to fight this.

Is signing to a ‘major’ label an issue for you?

No. My attitude and creative goals do not meet the requirements of pleasing rich guys in suits and making them lots of money. I want to destroy them. That’s why Napster is so important — it takes money out of these parasite’s pockets (much less than would come out of the artist’s pockets). This is why you hear so many industry weasels complaining.

Being on a so-called major label sure doesn’t mean you make any real money per se. These labels are set up to make lots of profit for the suits and hardly any for the artists. A lot of the money is advances that have to be paid back and often can’t be, putting the artist in a position of debt and impasse. You’d be surprised how many “big” artists don’t really have a pot to piss in. Don’t kid yourself about the music business. It’s who you know, half the time.

radio loways april 2015

01. I’maman – Jobriath
02. Rattled Call – Grass Widow
03. Innocent and Vain – Nico
04. United – Throbbing Gristle
05. Escupir 3 – Qeei
06. Treefort – Henry’s Dress
07. Itching Around – Shana Cleveland
08. I’maman – Jobriath

How did I not know who Jobriath was for all these years? I only just learned about him when my partner and I went to see Todd Haynes talk at the MCA as part of their David Bowie show. And we were both like, who is this Jobriath of which he speaks? And lo and behold, Jobriath is this massive gaping hole in my knowledge of glam rock and some of the references and inspirations in Hayne’s Velvet Goldmine Go read about Jobriath, if he’s new to you. This I’maman song is fucking massive!

Where did Nico come from? For real?

My note for this Throbbing Gristle song is, if you are a soccer/football team with united in their name, and you’re not using this song as a song to support your team, you have failed.

There is a certain type of electronic weirdo pop music that appeals to me and Escupir by Qeei fits the bill. Qeei is the electronic weirdo pop project of Tatiana Heuman, drummer for the weirdo lurch rock group Ricarda Cometa. She is based in Buenos Aires.

Henry’s Dress was fabulous and Treefort is their masterpiece. The greatest use of this riff, ever.

I love La Luz and apparently I love this song by Shana Cleveland of La Luz. There’s an official version of it on her recently officially re-released solo album that features a full band. But it doesn’t hold a candle to this one. This is perfection. I don’t say that lightly. Acoustic drone.

And to end everything with a mellow and earlier version of I’maman. Less rockish, but still fucking massive.


radio loways march 2015

01. Tina this is Mathew Stone – Prolapse
02. Casa Abandonada – Julieta Venegas
03. Untitled Duet – Albert Ayler
04. Asheed – Luke Vibert
05. Untitled – LuthPi
06. Easily Persuaded – Martha and the Vandellas
07. Matt-Alec – Melvins
08. A Little God in My Hands (To Be Kind) – Swans
09. Wake Up Dolores – Los Lobos

I have increasingly less to say about these Radio Loways things, for better or for worse. It’s harder to take the time or find the time to come up with some decent notes for this. I’d be a horrible dj.

Anyways, I kind of stumbled across Prolapse at some point and I don’t even remember when. Recently-ish. In the past few years. I kind of love them. I like that this one is an argument set to music.

I listened to Julieta Venegas a lot when I was in Guadalajara studying Spanish. Her album had just come out and she was all over the place. I really like , but I think bueninvento is even better. It has a little more edge to it. She’s a good one to listen to when you’re learning Spanish, cuz her lyrics are easy to sing along to.

This Untitled Duet totally surprised me cuz it sounds nothing like Albert Ayler. For one thing the guitar sounds like Sunn O))) or Earth or something. When it first came on, I thought it was some Arrington De Dionyso project or something until I saw what it was. Pretty awesome.

My note for Luke Vibert is that I love acid. Also, I saw him dj at an Aphex Twin show at the Vic I think. Many years ago. He was set up in a box seat off of stage left. I could see him a little bit in the dark.

Matt-Alec is the first song by the Melvins that I liked, there was some old footage of them doing this song on a cable access show on youtube like ten years ago that did it. Baby Melvins.

I like the idea of Los Lobos more than I like most of their music. But I checked out Kiko from the library when I was like 14 and both Kiko and Wake Up Dolores still haunt me in their way. They would be an awesome 7″.

Now that I finished writing that. That’s not too bad.


radio loways february 2015

01. Nainanainana – La Merelu
02. Unyileding Conditioning – Fishbone
03. Flutter – John Lurie
04. My Legendary Girlfriend – Pulp
05. Pants Vs. Dress – Lizzo
06. Hotel Suicide  – Erase Errata
07. Unexpected Delight – Flying Lotus
08. Wall – John Cale
09. Salton City – Hot Snakes
10. Mortes – Monarch!
11. Tickly Flanks – µ-ziq
12. Phill 2 – KTL

I got nothing to say  about these. Actually, I probably do. But I ran out of time and now February is almost over and I’d rather not get behind. So, here’s the music. Wait here’s some quick notes. My old roommate and I would watch Fishing with John before going to bed and we’d end up just zoning out on the title menu once it was over and Flutter would be on a loop and it was nighttime perfection. John Cale is so amazing at drones, I wish his entire career was that. I love Hot Snakes’ guitar tone and drum thunder. Now, listen.