Quote: I grew up in the 80s listening to Pussy Galore, Big Black and Sonic Youth and their ilk (the sst bands, the T&G bands, etc.). It seemed like all those bands were fellow travelers, there was a legitimate scene. It seemed like, post-Nirvana, a scene of that sort was no longer possible and a sort or "are you with us or are you with them?" mentality sprung up. You and SY had some public bad blood, as did many of the underground bands that comprised that American underground 80s network. As a participant in this small historical moment (now long dead), what happened?
You have summarized events pretty nicely. What happened was the overt polarization of the underground into two camps, those who thought they could follow in the footsteps of Sonic Youth and (more importantly) Nirvana, and breach the barricades of popular culture, and those who thought such aspirations were not just unlikely but ill-advised. Such mainstream gamesmanship was unprofitable, and by removing bands and resources from the underground was destructive to the underground culture, which had been flourishing, and usually led to the demise of the bands who took their shot.
An era of competitiveness ensued, with bands, clubs and labels trying hard to get noticed by the big players in the conventional old-school music business, and a veneer of professionalism interceded between people who had previously dealt with each other as real people.
The whole thing creeped me out and destroyed a lot of bands. That there were bands in the scene urging other bands on in this rat race seemed almost treasonous.
That said, I have always gotten along with Sonic Youth, and I consider them friends despite our differences in the culture wars, and they have been specifically kind to me and my bands over the years.
Quote: 1.Whats your opinion on this statement that Bob Dylan made last year:
"I don't know anybody who's made a record that sounds decent in the past 20 years, really," ... "You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them. There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like ... static."
Given that Bob probably isn't combing the mom-and-pop stores for independent releases, I can't really fault his observation. And it's a nice turn of phrase.
Quote: 2.Who do you think your going to vote for in the upcoming presidential election?
Anything the Democrats run out there, I'll vote for it. Broken piece of elk antler, chalkboard eraser, whatever.
Quote: did you ever work with Sonic Youth in any capacity?
In 1982 or so, they couldn't get a gig in Chicago, so I booked them as an independent promoter, and did a couple more gigs for them in the next couple of years. They regularly crashed at my place when in Chicago during the early 80s. My bands have played shows with them over the years, but that's about it. I've never recorded them.
Quote: 2. Over/under on when CarlosChadha kills himself for being stupid enough to take that $100 bet?
It's a hundred bucks. If it gets annoying, he might just call it quits and pay off -- it's the equivalent of 1.25 BB in his usual game. Not suicide-worthy.
Ha! My favorite prop! I think I could take a couple dozen at least. You kill a couple in front of their friends and they'll run away crying like little kids. Because they're little kids. Five-year-olds run away crying over nothing all the time anyway. I don't think anybody willing to kill a couple of five-year-olds to prove a point would have anything to fear.
Quote: How is it working with Neurosis? How much work is it recording their often complex song arrangements? Listening to what's going on on most of their records one would assume it's a very time consuming process.
Not particularly. Neurosis are pretty meticulous in having their act together before they come into the studio, and Noah (their keyboard/electronics guy) has a studio where they work on pre-production demos in detail.
Quote: 3. Can you recommend music in a similar vein to Neurosis? (excluding the obvious candidates such as Isis, Sparowes, Sum, Cult of Luna, etc.)
You may already be familiar with them, but obvious suggestions would be Harvey Milk, Melvins, Pelican, Zeni Geva, Oxbow, Mono, Om, Sunn0))) and Dazzling Killmen. You might also enjoy the power electronics/noise music like Whitehouse, Japanese noise guitarist Keiji Haino, and early material from Swans and Killing Joke.
Quote: 4. Do you listen to a lot of metal? If you are, what kind of metal are you generally listening to?
My standard answer for this is that I listen to the sort of metal that appeals to non-metal guys like me. The bands mentioned above, Motorhead, High on Fire, and the occasional black metal classic from Burzum, Immortal and the like.
I once read the tour diary you wrote during Big Black, and one thing that kinda stuck with me and made me smile was something you said about the Wipers. Something along the lines of Greg Sage's sound being so simple and yet so mindblowing-ly effective, it made you think twice about any kind of bells and whistles approach. With that example of just brilliance and raw power, and the other extreme of brilliance but with the bells and whistles added of say Sonic Youth, who have gone through their share of effects pedals and other crazy complications to their sound so to speak... this is a longwinded way of asking, but are there any other bands that go for that more complicated approach (without sounding like Sonic Youth), using various pedals or loopers or whatever tech in an effective way (as a live band) that you've been wow'ed by, rather than thought 'what the gay are you doing here'?
Also, due to some other thing you said in regards to some awful NY band I forget the name of, I bought the My Dad Is Dead album 'The Taller You Are..The Shorter You Get'. I have to thank you for that, because I spent a good year listening to it and find something new to love about it almost every time I put it on.
You produced some interesting prose for Forced Exposure magazine back in the 80s, and your literate answers here betray some kinda writerly (or writer-like) attention to detail on a sentence by sentence basis (over and above (it seems to me) mere utilitarian conveyance of info).
So: Did this precision grow out of writing about recording? Did the need for precision in technical writing become a "style"? And: Do you have any literary ambitions (even compiling a collection of old stuff for publication)?
Quote: ...are there any other bands that go for that more complicated approach (without sounding like Sonic Youth), using various pedals or loopers or whatever tech in an effective way (as a live band) that you've been wow'ed by, rather than thought 'what the gay are you doing here'?
It takes a diligent approach to turn your sound over to a bunch of pedals and not have it sound retarded. You basically have to rebuild your playing vocabulary around the effects. Very few bands can pull this off, but Chrome, Head of David and the Kiwi band High Dependency Unit (HDU) come to mind immediately. All great.