Vinnie of Blogged & Quartered – Interview…

Well Dude, thanx for agreeing to do an interview and for even remembering me or my humble (hahaha) blog. A virtual honor, really. So, what does a fella know about Stormy (Vincent) and the legendary Blogged and Quartered site, I asked myself. Well, why not ask the fellow music lover behind it all. Had been checking out the blogroll at the Relics and lamenting all the comatose and dead sites. Are the days of the music blog over? Hell fuckin’ no, there’s still B&Q. Well sir, let’s get this started, how the hell are you Man?

So, who is this Stormy character, what’s life like outside the blog?
I’m 48. I grew up in NJ and was into music at a very early age. My dad owned a biker bar called The Purple Onion in the ’70s and i would bum change off the bikers to play the jukebox. It was usually the same 2 songs (back then it was 2 songs for a quarter). Hand of Doom by Black Sabbath and Taxi by Harry Chapin. From there i got into metal, especially the first 2 Maiden albums and early Priest, and finally i got into hardcore/punk after a friend in high school made me a tape of DRI’s “Dealing With It” on one side and Suicidal Tendencies s/t on the other. I think COC’s “Technocracy” was on there as well (still my all-time favorite crossover recording). From there is was listening to WFMU every Thursday like a religion, massive tape trading, writing to bands, starting many demo-only bands (i played drums), doing a zine called Off-Cycle, going to shows, buying records etc. This went on all through the late ’80s through the late ’90s. It all seems like a million years ago though. Now i live in Florida with my wife and 2 kids. I haven’t been to a show in a good 7 or 8 years. I think the last show was a Naked Raygun reunion in NJ. I just remember getting really drunk (for the last time actually).
Vin And Daughter

EDIT: This may end up being more of a dialog, rather than an interview as Vinnie and I continued to communicate as I had more questions based on his answers.  No more drinking?  Is there a story you would care to share about that?  A tall glass of water and a wide cup of coffee to ya!  

As far as me not drinking. There’s no real reason. I partied (pretty hard) since 7th grade. Drinking, smoking pot, hallucinogens… whatever was in front of me really. That type of addictive behavior went on for like 30 years, until i had my kids. Now i have more than myself to think about, as cliche as that sounds. Now the only thing i take is Xanax to relax. And i LOVE coffee. I drink like 3 cups a day minimum.

…Sorry y’all no copies of his Off-Cycle zine in his possession…
Unfortunately i don’t have any scans of my old zine. I don’t even have a copy of the actual zine myself, which sucks. There were 2 issues. One had interviews with Apartment 213 and Abnormal Behavior, the other had interviews with Nasum (right before the singer died in the tsunami) and some other bands i can’t remember. I had a top 10 fave HC records section which had contributions by lots of HC band people. It’s fuzzy, but i remember Chris Dodge was one, and Mike Bullshit (GO!/SFA). I thought it was wild that Mike BS (who is gay) had Bad Brains s/t in his top 10 considering GO! has a song with the lyrics “Eat shit dreadlocked motherfucker”, about HR’s homophobia.


Anyway, the zine had a small run of maybe 100 each issue, and was given out free by Timojhen of Vacuum Records with orders. It was called Off-Cycle because i worked at a Printing company in NJ, and would work on the zine at work during our off’-cycle, which was usually about 4 days a month where there was absolutely nothing to do. I used the company’s computers and printers, so it cost me nothing to make, which is why i gave them away for nothing. I’d love to get my hands on those 2 zines. Shit, i forget 90% of what i wrote in them, just that there were lots of record and movie reviews, and lots of my own artwork. The whole thing was very graphics-heavy.

…I stand corrected…low and behold Vinnie did find an old copy of the zine!
Off-Cycle: Angry Mini-Zine
Hey man, here are the scans from the Off Cycle zine i promised. This is from the first issue from ’98. I scanned the cover, plus 8 pages. A 3 page interview with Apartment 213, a 3 page interview Abnormal Behavior, a one-page comic i did for the zine called “Bad TV”, a page of old HC faves, and a 2-page spread of movies. It would have taken too much time to scan the entire zine, although i may do it in the future. Use however much of it you like obviously. The stuffed file of jpegs is here

…Vinnie’s got music for ya too…
Unfortunately, i don’t have mp3s of my first band (S.M.O. from 1987-1990), which was crossover hardcore. My fave band i was ever in. We did 3 demos and played with lots of great bands from the time, plus played parks and barbecues, house parties etc. Really fun times.

Bloated
This was the band i was in after S.M.O. It started in the mid ’90s and ended in a few years. It was hardcore/punk with male/female vocals. The last song we recorded (not in a studio unfortunately) was My Anger, and that’s the direction we were heading in right before we broke up. It’s in the collection i posted, although the quality isn’t so hot). We were going in the way of early ’80s deathrock i think. To my ears anyway.
This is everything we recorded. A studio demo and rehearsal space demo.:

Gargantuana
This was me and my 2 roommates making noise in the late ’90s. We were heavily influenced by Sabbath and Rorschach. Would have been great if we knew how to play as well as those bands. We did a studio demo and a basement demo. It’s all here:

Spaul
This project started in ’98. We did a demo in ’99 and then a bunch of studio sessions over the ext 2 years. We had a track on that Short, Fast, Loud comp on Slap a Ham. The only track i ever played drums on that ended up on an official release. Looking back i wish we would have picked a different song. We played powerviolence mixed with ’80s hardcore. We played with shitloads of bands, my fave being a show with Discordance Axis. We played what was billed “metal night” at some bar once with Mortician and Burnt By the Sun. Horrible response, but i got to meet Danny Lilker that night, and Daryl from CxAx, so it turned out pretty cool. Here’s the discography:

…that Spaul cover is incredible!
It’s by one of my fave artists, Richard Corben.

I was also in Abnormal Behavior, but didn’t play drums on their CD, which is posted in the NJ post on the blog. I joined after. They were killer.
My friend, and old guitar player Mark, is in the process of ripping all the S.M.O. stuff to mp3s. He’s a busy dude so it may take a while. We recorded a ton of music in the late ’80s. I’ll eventually post that stuff on the blog.

How do you feel about the fact that B&Q will be ten years old in February…I hope you’re planning some kind of celebratory post?
Damn, is it 10 years already? It feels great that people have been so appreciative of the blog. I’ve met so many people, and gotten so many rare recordings from bands because of B&Q. I think a lot of the music would have never surfaced if it hadn’t been for the blog, stuff like the Radio to Saturn unreleased LP and ABC No Rio comp. I’ve heard that some records were pressed, old recordings unearthed, and some bands reformed because of the blog. If that’s actually true, then i feel like all the time i’ve put into it is more than worth it. Even if it’s not true (which seems more likely), the response has been so overwhelming that it keeps me going. As far as an anniversary post goes. If i can think of something worthwhile, then for sure.

Why B&Q pal, what the hell compelled you to start a fucking project like that and did you think you’d still be doing it as of your last post in May (I’m hungry for more)?
It all started when i used to post on the old Relapse board. I was constantly putting together HC anthologies and posting them on the board. Just a hobby i wanted to share. Someone there (i think it was a cat named Noah) suggested i start a music blog. So i gave it a shot. I had a few collections i put together (NYC Mayhem, Dirge, the old SFA demos with Mike Bullshit…), rare and great stuff that a thought needed to be heard. It just snowballed from there. As far as my last post being on May… i’m a slacker. That and kinda a perfectionist. Especially lately. I need all the music to sound as good as possible, even if it means re-doing it 10 times, same with the covers and the writing. So, sorry for the wait. I’m working on a few things right now, aside from having an archive of hundreds of finished recordings i never got around to posting yet. I can promise my next post will be up soon. All i’ll say is it’s called “’80s Hardcore Grab-bag” and will be pretty lengthy.

Who’s the guy behind the blog (do you go by Vincent, Vince or should I just call you Stormy)? What makes you tick?
Most people call me Vinnie or Vin. Stormy was my avatar name on the message boards i posted (and still post) on. It came from an old Adult Swim cartoon called Sealab. What makes me tick? Well, i’m really into old movies. ’70s cinema may be the only thing i obsess over more than music. I’m mostly into gritty stuff like French Connection (my favorite movie), Taxi Driver, The Seven Ups, Sorcerer, Serpico, Chinatown, Hardcore, The Conversation, Network etc, plus all the blaxploitation, kung-fu and biker films of that era. Lately me and the old lady have been watching a lot of ’40s and ’50s movies. We just watched Ace in the Hole for the third time, and it never gets old. I collect old movies, posters, books about cinema etc. Outside of that, i’m all about my kids.

There’s a thousand good ways to describe B&Q, extremely thorough, for example, how would you describe and/or define it?
I guess i would describe it as a sort of hardcore restoration archive with a personal element. A resource that people can always come to for info and rare music long after i’m gone. That’s my ideal dream of it anyway.

So much time and energy, and love, put into every post, it’s mind boggling, any particular one that stands out to you, or perhaps the one that is your crowning achievement?
That’s a really tough question. I love the Hated collections. Such an amazing band. Same with the Funeral Oration demos. I love the way those came out, and that first demo is one of my favorite demos of all time. I also really like the way the Assfactor 4 and Merel anthologies came out. It’s great that the unreleased Jerry’s Kids EP is one there. Stuff like that needs to be heard. I had a lot of help from Freddy Alva, who supplied me with rare stuff by Collapse, Absolution, Show of Force, Life’s Blood and of course the Fuck Rock comp. Meeting Freddy, Daryl from Citizens Arrest and Mike BS from GO!/SFA at ABC No Rio was a real highlight for me. These are people i really respected. Crowning achievements would be the Radio To Saturn LP and Birdchest EP, i guess because the bands chose B&Q to share this stuff with the world. It’s a huge compliment. Also, over the years i’ve honed my Photoshop skills and really love making covers. My crowning achievement there would be the Deathrock California comp.

It’s got to feel good to get such a healthy response to your posts, any particular responses that stood out to you?
So many. It’s a great feeling when a band member posts that he’s happy to see his stuff online, or that he thinks i did a good job cleaning the music or writing my thoughts on the band. Shit so many… members of Assuck, Crumbsuckers, Hogan’s Heroes, Youth Korps, Spazz, Agents of Satan, Infest, Crowd of Isolated, Assfactor 4… it goes on and on. It’s amazing. That combined with all the positive feedback has what kept me going for so long. And i have no intentions of stopping anytime soon.

What about the artists that you have posted, what kinds of responses have you gotten from them? I’m sure it varies from right on, thanx for the support, to, take my shit down. One post that I remember that you took down was the Mental Abuse one (I posted the Message from America: Hardcore Has Come of Age comp on youtube and it was promptly taken down…btw, fave song on said comp was Seizure’s “Living in the Streets”), there must be a story behind that? Other’s that stand out?
Guess i kinda answered this one in the last question. Really all the bands have supportive of what i do, and actually Dave Jones is the single person who wanted his stuff removed in the 9 plus years i’ve been doing this. It’s odd to me because there are bands OK with me posting there stuff even though it’s either still in print, or available on bandcamps. All i can think is that it’s good publicity for their band since the blog has such a decent following. But all Dave’s bands are long out of print with no plans or reissues, so i have no idea why he doesn’t want people hearing Mental Abuse and Outgroup. Shit, i’d be flattered if some blog cared enough to post some old band i was in over 30 years ago. But whatever. I removed those links. Well… fortunately i have something on my blog called Easter Eggs. A kinda loophole. Anyway, besides him, everyone’s been everyone’s been awesome.

The music you’ve posted over the years has been very eclectic to say the least, so much so that I couldn’t stuff you into some kind of niche, like metal head, punk or new waver, but I’m sure there’s a story behind the evolution of your tastes? Where are your roots, do you have any allegiances?
I’m just a lover of (what i consider) good music. I grew up on classic rock, which i still love, and it just kind of grew and branched out from there. I’m a big fan of ’70s funk stuff like Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, Marvin Gaye etc. Some hip hop like Public Enemy, Tribe Called Quest, Cannibal Ox, Disposable Heroes, Wu Tang, MF Doom etc. I love all kinds of metal – death metal, NWOBHM, black metal, thrash etc. Some jazz (fave is Albert Ayler), ’70s disco, ’80s New Wave and goth… fuck, even noise/gorenoise. No allegiances.


Are you embarrassed by any musical tastes you’ve had? Is there anything you just can’t listen to?
Absolutely not embarrassed by anything i’ve ever liked. Even as a little kid. I’ll listen to Abba followed by KISS with zero embarrassment.

How about the music in your life, outside the blog…do you play instruments, go to gigs, collect records?
I’ve played the drums since the mid ’80s, and was in at least half a dozen hardcore bands between 1987 and 2007. All demo bands. The last band i was in was a powerviolence band called Spaul. We put out some demos and had a track on a Slap A Ham comp. I don’t go to gigs anymore, although my 12 year old daughter is a huge fan of that band Merchandise, so i plan on taking her to see them, since they reside here in Florida. No more record collecting. In fact, i’ve been selling my collection off.

She’s a huge Smiths fan as well. My 7 year old son’s favorite album (swear to god) is Naked Raygun “Jettison”. He sings along to it in the back seat of my car all the time. I love that i was able to turn my kids on to good music, and that it actually clicked with them.

Who puts on a good live show…who couldn’t play live to save their lives? Bands you wish you had seen?
So many good live shows i wouldn’t know where to begin. Standout would probably be Jawbreaker on the Bivouac tour. Only time the hair on my arms actually stood on end during a show. I saw Discordance Axis a bunch of times and they always killed it. Bad Brains on the Quickness tour with Leeway opening was unreal. Slayer in the early ’90s was unreal… Maiden and Priest in the ’80s. Absolute worst band i’ve seen live was Mortician. The drummer was Awful. The band i was in at the time (Spaul) played the show. The two band i regret never seeing would be Swans and Lambchop. I also regret not having gone to the final CBGB shows. As far as “dream shows”, that would be Bad Brains in ’82 and Rudimentary Peni in ’82/’83.

I don’t think you’re as stuck in the past as I am, or are you? Who’s hot in 2018? Who from the past is hot in 2018 (hahaah)?
2018 has been a bit of a dry spell. I really like the No Problem “Let God Sort Em Out” LP and the new Vile Gash LP. As far as the past few years goes, anything put out by Coke Bust, Fractured, Despise You, Burnout, Concussive, Repos, Bellicose Minds, Spectres, Arctic Flowers… Uranium Club is great if you’re into DEVO. As far as metal goes, i really dig Syphilitic Vaginas (the best), Grave Upheval and Sect Pig.


How do you feel about old bands (some, only partially) reuniting? I personally like to see these old timers (I’m an old timer too, so no insult intended), and for God’s sake it’s good to finally have them make a buck. With that said, I saw Joan Jett play a couple years ago and she put on a fantastic set, but I would have much rather seen her 35 years ago. Thoughts?
I don’t know. It depends. I agree that it’s great to see them make a buck. I’m glad Jawbreaker are finally getting paid being that they were broke back when they were on top of their game. That said, i wouldn’t go see them. Now it seems like every band (especially in NY) are reuniting. Even bands like Altercation who only put out one demo. It’s crazy. I would have loved to see Infest in 1989 or whatever, but i wouldn’t want to see them now. That’s just me though. Only reunion i saw was Crumbsuckers, and they were so fucking tight, if you closed your eyes, you’d swear they were playing the LP over the speakers.

So are you really just some old retired guy, why the move from New Jersey to Florida?
Haha. Yeah, i just sit around eating hard candies and yelling at kids to get off my lawn. Actually i moved here because my dad (who passed away a couple years back) offered to help me out financially to get a house in Florida so i could be near him and other family. I decided it was perfect because i didn’t want to raise my kids in NJ. So here i am, in the land of Assuck and oranges.

do you still have ferrets?
No more ferrets unfortunately. In my dad’s backyard in NJ, he had rabbits, ferrets, dogs, cats and a rooster named Henry who would wake us up every morning. I really miss all those animals.

what do you do for a living?
Right now i work from home, doing some freelance computer work, plus selling records. I’ll soon be selling off DVDs, comics and books as well. I’ve accumulated so much stuff over the past 40 years it’s crazy. I’m a bit of a pack-rat. When my dad passed away he left me a nice Inheritance, so i’ve been kinda living off that since i moved to Florida. When i lived in Jersey, i worked over 20 years for a publishing company, then a few years at the Daily News, so i’ve always been in the publishing / print industry.

Religion, politics…do we even want to get into that?
I’d rather not. I’ve argued about religion especially back in the ’90s in my zine where i went into detail about being beaten with rulers in Catholic School. I used to get hate mail from Christians and i’d always respond. I had some nice back and forth dialogues. Now i really don’t care. Whatever makes people happy and content is fine by me.

Love the addition of the “Easter eggs” in the posts although looking for them reminds me that I need to go to the eye doctor and get a new prescription for glasses. Just how many gigs have you got squirled away (I lost years worth of shit because my hard drive crashed a couple of years ago)?
I got real lucky on the storage front. After mediafire deleted all my files and i closed up shop, i was contacted by a fan of the blog who runs a storage space called Firstpress. He offered to store all my files for free, and showed me how to post to the site myself. I forget the guy’s name offhand, but i owe him everything. Guy was a life saver.

Any plans for a next post? You’re not one to post frequently, it’s quality rather than quantity, you do what I call, Super Sabado Gigante Mega Armageddon Death post…all or fucking nothing man. What does it take to do a post like that?
Haha. Yeah, it takes a lot to do those mega-posts. Months really. Cleaning up and compiling all the music, then making the covers, then building the page, doing all the research and writing, and adding the links and hidden links. It gets crazy. Thank god the next one is almost ready.

What would you say to someone starting their own (music) blog?
I see so many music blogs that are just downloads. Like the album cover and the link and that’s it. Maybe a one or two word description. I’d say if you’re going to do a blog, put your own experience with the music in the post. If you love music enough to start a music blog, then you must have something to say about the music. Also, try and get obscure with it. Try and post stuff other blogs don’t have. If you’re starting a blog to share your Bad Religion and Ramones CDs, then i don’t see the point.

Justin, i want to thank you for this interview. It was really fun. I haven’t done one of these since the early ’90s for my old bands. Answering these questions felt like a trip back in time. Take care
Vin

Thanx Vinnie an honor and a privilege getting to know you! Now people, you must go to Blogged and Quartered… and get educated on how a music lover shows his love and as Vinnie said, he is liquidating his physical music collection, so go check out the The Blogged and Quartered Record Store…if you tell him Mustard sent you he might give you a deal, actually he will give you a sweet deal, I got a hell of a lot for a 100 bucks…but still tell him Mustard sent ya…haahahaha!

Jim Shank interview…

jimI first met Jim Shank at Humboldt State University in 1987, we were both in the Redwood/Sunset dorms, if I’m not mistaken. He was the guitarist, music writer and pretty much the only one who could play his instrument really well in our band, WD-40. My memory is kind of hazy, but I’m fairly sure the band ended when Jim broke his arm skating. After that Jim and I mostly ran in different circles, although music and skating would allow us to cross paths occasionally. After college we went our separate ways and it wasn’t until several years ago, through the tragedy/comedy that is Facebook, that we reconnected. I had asked him to do an interview quite a while back, but we both forgot about it. Recently I asked him again and he agreed to do it. As far as I know Jim is a very different person than he was in college, but there are some constants, I think, that would include him being one of the kindest people I have ever known and of course music. I have already interviewed two of the three guitarists I have played with so this will make a trifecta, the final puzzle piece.

Howdy Jim and thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. So, do you remember things differently about the circumstances of how we met and what was going on with you at that time?
Let’s see, I was in Redwood on the top floor. You guys were on the ground floor, right? Jason Bakutis was a mutual friend. I kind of knew you, Sang, Gage and the other guys from just hanging out. Not sure how I got recruited into WD-40. That was a couple years after the dorms, right?
Why Humboldt State?
I don’t know. I kind of had hippie leanings and thought it would be a cool school to go to. Plus it was far from the city and parents, etc.
Jim ShankYou’re an old LA head aren’t you, born and raised, like me, what was it like growing up in the LA area?I lived in Torrance (South Bay LA) since I was in 6th grade. So basically middle school and high school. Before that I’ve lived in Oceanside, CA (North SD Co.) and also eastern Oregon during my grade school years. LA was pretty different. Living in the “beach cities” people were a lot more fashion conscious that what I was used to (like OP shorts, Lightning Bolt shirts and Vans shoes). I did get exposed to the “new” music that was going on at the time. Oingo Boingo played at my high school gym dance while I was still in 7th grade. My neighbor got me a ticket. I remember there was a punk rock guy there that had a home made t-shirt that said “Oingo Boingo Sucks!” on it. After that, a friend in my Boy Scout troop had a couple punk records that I borrowed. It was Dead Kennedy’s “Fresh Fruit” and Black Flag “Jealous Again”. Still my 2 favorite punk records probably. I was also listening to Rodney on the ROQ on Sunday nights (after listening to Dr. Demento on KMET).


Husband, Father, skateboarder, surfer and musician, where do you find time for it all? How would you describe yourself?

I am a just a family guy that tries to still have fun hobbies. I don’t really do all that stuff that much except for the music part. I surf maybe 2 or 3 times a month depending on the surf. But I play the banjo every day (or mandolin or guitar). I practice with one band or another once or twice a week and maybe gig twice a month as well. Usually Saturday daytime gigs.

You are a fellow music lovjim2er and you’ve never let genre hold you back, I’m curious about what was your earliest exposure to music and how did that affect you?
My earliest exposure to music is probably from my sister who is 7 years older. I still remember listening to 45’s on the small record player. I remember “Ballroom Blitz” by Sweet and “Rockin Robin” by the Jackson 5. Later around 4th grade I got into the band KISS along with other friends who were into them. That lasted into 5th grade.

Are there genres that you find distasteful or others that maybe you’ve grown to appreciate?
Hmmm. I can appreciate a lot of different genres of music even if I’m not really into it. I probably like “rap” music least of all but I do appreciate some of it. I guess I don’t really like much modern commercial music whether it’s rock, pop or country. I like authentic music. I have come to appreciate old country music a lot more. Especially from the early years (40’s and 50’s). I even have come to appreciate early Bing Crosby stuff.

Don’t be shy now, what is relatively the worst band, in retrospect, you have ever been a fan of? What made you see the light?
I don’t know. I guess I could say KISS but even they have some good songs that I still can appreciate. Thinking back to all the music that I’ve liked or been into, I can still enjoy some of it. Even if for only short periods of time.

At what point did you make the transition from listener of music to wanting to play an instrument? What made you pick up a guitar (or was that even the first instrument you played)? What was your first band experience like?
Well I’d have to say I wanted to play guitar because of Ace Frehley of KISS. I took my first lessons when I was still into KISS. I kept taking some basic lessons even after I wasn’t into them anymore. But then punk rock made me want to play guitar more. Playing punk guitar is hard because you have to be fast and really on time. My first band experience was just playing with a friend who played drums probably in 7th grade. I think we played “I’m Not a Loser” by the Descendants and maybe some Bad Religion song.

Did you have anyone you looked up to, or who sort of showed you the ropes in life or music?
There have been people I’ve looked up to growing up. Peter Loggins was an older punk rock skater who was really cool and respected us younger skate punks.

Are there any particular bands that have had a lasting impact or have shaped you as a musician today and why would that be?
The Grateful Dead had a big impact on me because they really showed me how fun improvisational music was and also gave me a love for bluegrass music.

How about that first time you hit the stage yourself in front of an audience, what was that like?
Must have been at a high school party. Pretty exciting. People dancing and yelling and having a good time. It was fun being able to get people on their feet and see them enjoying our music. Kind of a rush.

You’ve probably been in a lot of bands, can you possible name them all? Or how about just the memorable ones?
None of my high school bands had names. In college, I played in a Grateful Dead band (no name) but I also played in WD-40 (with you). That was a lot of fun opening for those bigger name punk bands that came through town like the Vandals, DOA and MDC. I also played in an instrumental surf music band called “11 at 17”. We played a Surfrider Foundation benefit and maybe one bar gig.

What instruments do you play, how was the transition from guitarist to banjo player?
I played guitar since about 5th grade. Acoustic and electric but mainly electric. I started playing banjo around 1997 after I got married. I was really hard because of what you have to do with the right hand. Its a constant 3 finger roll that has to be “in time”. The left hand is similar to guitar so I had a head start there. The mandolin is a lot more like guitar but different chords and scales. But the technique is very similar. Closer to guitar than playing the banjo. Those are the main instruments that I play; guitar, banjo and mandolin.

If I’m not mistaken, you are playing in two bands right now, one sort of a Grateful Dead jam band and the other Moonshine Cadillac, a bluegrass affair. Give me the lowdown?
I was playing with an electric band that did a lot of Jerry Garcia Band songs. We were called the Rum Runners and we played regularly since 2010. We haven’t played much since last fall though. I just grew tired of playing bars late at night and moving heavy equipment around. I’ve also started a bluegrass band called Moonshine Cadillac in which I play banjo and sing harmony. We’ve been practicing for maybe 3 years now (with different member changes) but we’ve only been gigging for about a year. We’ve come a long way as far as improvements in how we sound. I used to be a bit embarrassed but now I”m starting to be happy with our sound. We still need work though. I also sometimes fill in with another bluegrass band on mandolin.

Do you have any records/CDs for sale and where can a guy get those?
No. We haven’t gotten that far yet. No plans on making any recordings yet. We are more concentrating on our live performance and building a local audience.

jim3You seem to be pretty busy with Moonshine Cadillac, any future projects in the works? Any upcoming shows?
We play about once a month at a coffee house. We played a backyard party about a week ago and also a mini bluegrass show out in the Valley a few weeks ago. They’ve all been fun gigs.

What new stuff spins on your turntable these days?
You mean the iPod? I pretty much only listen to music in my car going to and from work (which is like 45 minutes each way). It’s pretty much all bluegrass these days. From the old classic stuff like the Stanley Brothers, Flatt & Scruggs, and Bill Monroe to more modern stuff like Dan Tyminski, the Boxcars and the Lonesome River Band.

jim4Any additional words of wisdom? Anything to the young musician? Or perhaps to the world and humanity in general?
I would say to a young musician that you should play the music that you enjoy and that challenges you to be a better musician. The people you play with make a big difference too. Try to play with people who are better than you if you can. And in a band context, “it’s not all about you”. The overall sound of the band is more important than the individual members.

Thanx again Mr. Shank!
Thanks Justin!

 

 

Ed Cole interview (part 1)

Ed
In my self imposed isolation (something I am content with), I find that I have good friends all over this (great?) nation of ours. I haven’t seen any of my old friends in almost ten years, some much longer than that, so I do daydream at times about what it would be like to have some of them as close neighbors. Ed Cole, musician, band mate and longtime friend, would be one of those ones that would nice to have living down the road. We could visit and discuss family life, talk shit about the status quo, ponder over music past and present, and I would be able to see him do his art live. He is the second guitarist that I have played with, that I have also asked to do an interview (I now have plans to interview the third). Ed is one of the finest human beings I know (I wish the world was filled with more Eds) and just an amazing musician. My burnt out brain has left me with just scattered memories, but what I do remember is that we had a blast creating together. Here’s Ed…

Garden WeaselDamn Ed, I was thinking about it and we’ve known each other a long time. We haven’t hung out in forever, your Son Cosmo was newborn last time I saw you, but through the web we’ve managed to stay in touch. I think our meeting had something to do with KHSU and you being a DJ (Dead Ed) up there, but do you remember the circumstances of how we met and what was going on with you at that time?

A: I first remember seeing you onstage with WD40 at Tsunami’s opening for MDC in 1990. I first met you at KHSU in the engineer booth, I think Cathy M introduced us. I remember your fish tattoo looking very fresh.

Husband, Father of some youngens, long time organic produce warehouseman (what’s your official title?) and musician, where do you find time for it all?

A: My official title is Purchasing Inventory Maintenance and I review quality and “select lots” for specific customers at Organically Grown Company in Portland. It’s actually a really fun job. I don’t find time for it all, I feel like I barely get anything done except for work, sleep, raise kids, eat food, spend time with my wife Tina and then sometimes if I’m motivated I go downstairs into the basement studio and work on recording my music. I wish there were more hours in the day.

Ed1You are a fellow music lover and you’ve never let genre hold you back, I’m curious about what was your earliest exposure to music and how did that affect you?

A: My earliest music memories are the Beatles, they were huge with my older brothers. “Yellow Submarine” was my first favorite song, followed by “Rhinestone Cowboy” by Glenn Campbell and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” by John Denver. When I had the opportunity, I would play those 8 tracks over and over again. I really liked FM radio hits when I was 8,9,10, I loved whatever shitty classic rock was big at the time. I first wanted to be in a band after being exposed to AC/DC, Van Halen and Ozzy. I picked up guitar at age 13 when I traded a BMX bike for a shitty electric guitar that I plugged into my stereo. That was 1984.

Are there genres that you find distasteful or others that maybe you’ve grown to appreciate?

A: I savor the moment anytime music disturbs me enough to almost offend me. I was recently exposed to large doses of Ke$ha, Brittney Spears and Katy Perry; part of me wanted to barf but I still find some musical value in that very crass, commercial crap. Of the three, I like Katy Perry the best. I so far can’t get into techno or club type music. I have lots of friends who are into it but it’s for sure not for me. Modern country is pretty revolting, it’s pretty much the worst. I’m pretty sick of 1980s music about now, I heard enough Duran Duran the first time around, it makes me puke when I hear it at a restaurant now. Bleccchhhh!!

Garden Weasel – Look and Judge
Tulip – Wipe It Up

At what point did you make the transition from listener of music to wanting to play an instrument? What was your first band experience like?

A: before I could really play guitar I had a crappy acoustic guitar that I would tune to an ugly chord and just make up “rock riffs”. My friend Bear (Bar with an umlaut is how he spells it) had a home-made drum kit constructed of a plastic bucket, a tinker-toy can and the top head of a banjo, would would jam free of shame and then make overdubs of piano, clarinet and have the cello play a bassline, etc… We would just pile on tracks by holding one boombox near the other recorder and then playing along with our own tapes, eventually making a masterpiece mainly composed of tape hiss. A year or two later we had actual instruments and a 4 track, we spent many afternoons and evenings in his bedroom making up our own songs. Bar later went on to join the group Mr. Bungle. I learned everything I know about self-recorded songwriting from watching him work. Near the end of our collaborative high school years, Bar was playing every instrument and doing 4 part harmonies with the 4 track, really cool stuff.

Did you have anyone you looked up to, or who sort of showed you the ropes in life or music?

A: My brother Monty comes to mind immediately. He was always very musical, learning clarinet early on and expanding to many other instruments. I remember him banging away on piano when I was 5 or 6, really just thinking he was a god because he could play Scott Joplin ragtime piano as well as popular hits of the day like Styx or Supertramp. He also played guitar and taught me my first chords. He is a monster musician who is a woodwinds professor and lives and teaches in Macon, Georgia. My older brothers Mike and Darrow and my sister Neva all went to pains to expose me to what they felt was cool music, I think they all gave me the impression early on that music is very important.

Ed with Meat Puppets 1988First memorable show you went to see? Or feel free to list several.

A: A third-tier heavy metal band called Rail played in my town (Crescent City) in 1984. They sounded like most every other heavy metal band ever from the 1980s but it was cool to see a loud show . Van Halen 5150 was my first arena show in 1985, not very memorable but it was ok. The first show that really blew my mind was Meat Puppets with Mr. Bungle at HSU, this was probably 1988. They were the first underground band I really connected with because I sensed a similar kind of nerdy, classic-rock-hard-rock fandom with the Meat Puppets, and they were fucking weirdos, really did their own thing at the time, so I was happy to have a band that seemed like “mine.”

How about that first time you hit the stage yourself in front of an audience, what was that like?

A: After playing for 4 or 5 weeks I got up onstage with my brother’s (former) band Puffin, an R&B blues band and I played “Peter Gunne” out-of-tune but with sunglasses and feathered hair. I had a solo all worked out and still probably have a recording of it somewhere. Next was the Catholic school talent show at the Octoberfest in 1984. Bar and Ed did a kind of medley of Kinks and Quiet Riot songs that we knew. I played as often as possible during the first few years of high school with different bands at assemblies school events and what not. I was pretty comfortable on stage from the beginning, I always liked it.

HeadphonesYou’re like me, been collecting music for a long time, can you list some of your favorite bands, or maybe the influential ones, and what makes those bands so special to you?

A: Wow. I have so much music on my mind all the time. Where to even start? Lou Reed was huge to me because I also sing in a low register and he has probably above all others been my guiding artistic muse. Bob Mould, Paul Westerberg, David Bowie aer all top favorites for general listening. My late-night listening includes lots of mellow music like Devendra Banhart (only his early stuff), Cocteau Twins, Nick Drake, Robyn Hitchcock and Swans. I listen to lots of jazz, mostly at work. For Punk-era stuff, my initial favorites were Minor Threat, Black Flag, Agent Orange, Social Distortion, Fear, Devo – I still rock my exact same mix tape of all that shit in the car. Black Sabbath I’ve listened to so much that I almost can’t listen to it anymore but I think all that music is in my DNA. Rolling Stones, Hendrix, Stooges, the Who, the Doors – I guess I’ve gone classic rock, I’ll listen to any of that still. And Helios Creed and Chrome and Killdozer. And Thin LIzzy. I pretty much eat, breathe and shit music, I’m always curious if there is stuff I haven’t heard yet.

You’ve been in a hell of a lot of bands, can you possible name them all? Or how about just the memorable ones?  We talked the other day about all the bands you play in, two, and your solo project. Give me your take on those bands and what’s the deal with your solo project?

A: Sure I’ll try:

1. Bar and Ed/No Nik Muk No Tin Lik 1985-1990
2. Garden Weasel 1990-1992
3. Tulip 1994-1995
4. Billy Jack 1995-1996
5. the Naysayers 1996-2002
6. Velocirapture 2000 1999-2000
7. Activator 2001-2004
8. Ed Cole and the College Girls of Tora Bora 2002-2005 http://tinyurl.com/o9hslj6
9. White Hot Odyssey 2004-2005 http://tinyurl.com/pmxwtjt
10. The Underlings 2006-present
11. Thundering Asteroids 2014

The deal with my upcoming solo album is: I have 10 new songs that are all-acoustic. I’m very nearly done with the music-making part of it. There are about 6 different people on it, lots of odd (for me) instruments like banjo and cello and jaw harp. I plan to have it released by the end of summer.  (See the song/vid at the end of this interview…

Ever since I went to visit you that one time, I’ve loved Eugene and thought it would be a great place to live (like Frisco it’s got a shit ton of cafes). After being a long time Eugene Oregon resident, you made the big move to Portland, what the hell man? What’s so special about Portland? Are the scenes different?

A: Eugene is the ultimate hippy town, which is both good and bad. Lots of good, healthy food and good coffee, etc… The music scene in Eugene is actually pretty good for a small town and all the players are fairly close-knit. There is a great pub called Sam Bond’s that everybody knows about and at least 7 or so other places to play music at around town. The WOW hall is one of my favorite venues. I’ve seen Nomeansno there perhaps 12 times? It’s THE place for all ages punk shows for touring bands. Too much reggae and hippy jam music in Eugene but it’s a nice place that I’ll always come back too. There are some younger people with good taste who are hosting interesting bands, there’s a lot going on for such a small city.

Do you have any records/CDs for sale and where can a guy get those?

A: You can download my home recordings at my Bandcamp page. The Underlings have 2 CDs you can get through CD Baby
and we have a 7″ . You can order those by emailing us on Facebook.

The Underlings – Part Time Crime

The Underlings – Foreign Sausage

The Underlings – Vice Squad

Ed Cole – Cross 2 Bear

Ed Cole – Working Class Losers

Ed Cole – Underbelly Set

What new stuff spins on your turntable these days?
A:Today it was John Fahey, Return of Blind Joe Death. Earlier it was Guided By Voices ??? I forget which album and then Brian Eno, Before and After Science. I listen on headphones to spotify at work, I often play Dead Boys, Warren Zevon, Amanda Palmer (barf! I can’t believe I liked her, that was last year), Kurt Vile, Camper Van Beethoven, Pere Ubu, Judas Priest, I think I listened to all of that and more this week. I listened to Mylie Cyrus’ “Bangers” this week also, it wasn’t very good but I still like her.

As I said earlier, you seem to always have a lot of coles (pun intended) in the fire, any future projects in the works?

A: I’m working on an album in my head right now, a rock album that is going to be like Lou Reed meets Tom Petty with Television as the backing band.

Ed Cole Fucking RocksAny additional words of wisdom? Anything to the young musician? Or perhaps to the world and humanity in general?

A: Play because you want to, play because it feels good, make music freely and don’t worry about the consequences. Don’t get bogged down worrying about success, just keep making music because it’s just the best thing that humanity has come up with so far. Music will heal you or at least make your transition to death much more pleasant.

Thanx bud!

Ed is well represented on the net with a Bandcamp to get your listening on of his solo material, a Facebook where you can socialize and swap recipes, more listening at Reverbnation, you can get inside his head at Edhead 101, and you can take an epic journey in his Garden Weasel Diaries.

After a while here we’ll have part 2 of the interview with a ton of killer tunes. For now, wanted to finish this off with what I consider to the culmination of years writing and performing music. This here vid, I need to give anonymous kudos to the videographer who did a stunning job, is the kind of stuff that should be popular on the radio right now and really is testimony to the sophistication of Mr. Cole as an artist and composer, enjoy…

Jeff “The Leftoverking” Langdon – interview

rrr_still2Jeff “The Leftoverking” Langdon (not to be confused with the Canadian figure skater, Jeffrey Langdon), band mate and long time friend, I’ve always called him “Jefe”. He is well described by St. Francis of Assisi, “He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” For as long as I’ve known him he has been a laborer, craftsman, AND artist. House painter, guitar maker, silk screener, musician, painter, sculptor, photographer, blogger and probably one of the finest examples of a down to earth human being there ever could be.  Rhondapolooza had this to say, “One entirely crazy mofo who treads sure-footedly along his artistic path.  Often he zigs when I’m predicting he’ll zag, and that’s *exactly* what I love about his photography.”  I’m thinking we met sometime in ’87 or ’88, my memory’s hazy, but I know he was dating a wonderful woman, who to this day is his wife and mother of his children. She was a fellow student and dorm resident at Humboldt State University. Several years later, in the early 90’s he was the guitar player (principle song writer) for a band I sung in, Grout (man that band was killer, so ahead of it’s time and so much better when I left and Jeff took over vocal duties). The guy has been in a million bands (not just as guitar player and vocalist, more recently, drummer as well) and has a solo project that has been off and on again for some time now. A few of these bands I have shared here, The Hitch, The Fire Demons, Splinter Cell and the Leftoverking. Unlike most guys who have talent and creativity oozing out of their pores, you know, the self absorbed type, Jeff is the working man’s artist, so down to earth he may be like Tolkien and somewhere in Middle Earth.  As our mutual friend Sang put it, “s truly polymathic.”  I just have admired the guy for as long as I’ve known him, always been like “holy shit, you did that” and figured it was time to put him on the stand, or as I put it to him, “be like a seagull scavenging at a landfill.”  Jeff’s landfill is filled wit many treasures.

Grout – Big Truck
The Hitch – Tongue In Cheek
Fire Demons – This Job Sucks
Splinter Cell – EBT (Eureka Bicycle Tweakers)

Ya know thinking about it Jeff, we’ve known each other for 25+ years, but for the life of me, this burnt out brain has done away with the memories of our meeting.  Do you remember the circumstances of how we met and what was going on with you at that time?

J: when I first moved to Humboldt, I had connected with my high school friends who were already living there.  My buddy Sebastian Elrite was lifting weights with a group of dudes from HSU for fun, and told me about some guys who would jam during the weightlifting sessions who needed a guitar player.  So i showed up to the Flesh House (your house) and started playing with Sean Phillips, jon ?, and cain (who had been the bass player from the lookouts).  We were pretty horrible from what i remember, and loud.  After each practice we would go upstairs from the basement garage, and you would be there sitting on the couch, watching mash with the tv cranked up to full volume so you could hear it.  That’s how i remember meeting you.

EDIT:  Now that you mention it, you guys did a really loud, harsh cover of Nirvana’s “Negative Creep”.

You are a man who wears many hats, with your hands in all kinds of different pots, how would you describe yourself?

J: Jack of all trades, master of none!  I guess mainly I consider myself and artist, whatever form that art takes is up to what excites me at the moment.  At home am known as mainly a fartist.

You are a fellow music lover and you’ve never let genre hold you back, I’m curious about what was your earliest exposure to music and how did it evolve?

J:  I grew up in a house full of four teenage girls in the mid sixties so some of the first music I heard was definitely the Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, the monkeys, stones, and Cat Stevens.  Stuff like that.  My folks were older and listened to mainly show tunes.  My dad liked western music (Johnny cash, Marty Robbins, etc) but never listened to it much as my sisters and mom mainly ruled the radio and turntable.  I can relate to that now as I can’t really enjoy my records in my house either.  My two little girls are not really into black flag, or the butthole surfers…  ha ha.  Full circle.

Is there any music you don’t like?

J:  Top forty of any form does not really float my boat, but I have always been pretty open to different listening experiences.  So I guess I don’t really like top 40 pop, or country much.  I pretty much cringe when I hear that stuff.

I know you’ve probably seen your fair share of bands over the years, what was the first memorable show (or feel free to list several)?

Seeing the who and the clash at the Oakland Coliseum was a huge deal for me, but sitting so far away from the bands, there was a certain disconnection there.  I think seeing punk bands in small clubs up close and personal was pretty moving and influential to me.  Black flag, and Dead Kennedys were eye openers.  Or I should say ear openers.

Are there any particular bands that have had a lasting impact or have shaped you as a musician today and why would that be?

J: I have to say that I was majorly influenced by the Who as a youngster.  I remember seeing the footage of them smashing their instruments on the Smother’s Brothers show.  I think that was the first time I ever saw anger and negative emotion expressed in music, and it was pretty liberating.  I think that influence had carried over into the punk movement, and drove a lot of people of my generation to create heavily driven music.

What made you pick up a guitar (or was that even the first instrument you played)?  Can you remember the first time you played in front of a live audience?

J:  My folks and sisters say that I grabbed an acoustic guitar of my dad’s, and jumped up on the fireplace hearth and started rocking out when i was like three or four years old.  I think they were listening to Elvis at the time.  I took guitar lessons a few times as a kid, but it never really stuck.  My best friend from grade school and I took lessons from a nun.  When we were in junior high, we went to guitars unlimited in Menlo Park California and purchased used electric guitars together.  We ditched the nun, and found a guy named Rick Neil who would teach us rock and roll songs for a dollar a song.  Then we took off with it.  The most memorable time I can recall playing in front of an audience was in high school.  I played in a mod band called the Meek.   We got gigs at a bar in San Francisco called The Sound of Music on Turk Street.  It was quite a novelty to be underage, and get to play and be served in a bar.  That was a different time.  We played originals and covers of sixties R&B songs, and bands like the Jam, the Who, the Kinks, and Small Faces.  I remember playing The Sound of Music, and getting heckled quite a bit, but one night there we played the song Shout, and the crowd really got into it, and sang all the responses.  It made chills go up my spine, and I guess I will spend the rest of my life trying to re-create that moment.

The Leftoverking is your solo project of sorts, where you do all of everything (writing, instruments, recording) in creating your own tunes, a sort of studio one man band deluxe.  How did you come up with that name, what’s it all about, and have you been active in that project lately?

J:  I had written a song when I was playing in the Hitch called the Leftover King.   It was about eating leftovers.  Back then I never touched a computer, and was not involved with the internet.  After I graduated from HSU, I got a hand me down computer, and I started messing around with it making art, messing with music on it, and my first email address name I picked for myself was the Leftoverking.  I was leery of the web and wanted to be a little anonymous.  So that’s where that came from.  I have not been very active with writing and recording music at home these days.  The kids take up most of my energy around here.  I do on occasion record other bands still, usually at their practice spaces, but have not recorded any solo stuff for some time.

Leftoverking – Cape
It’s all about Splinter Cell music wise right now for you (or is it?), from what I’ve heard you guys have done some work on a new release, what’s the story there?

J:  We did record some songs this year at my house.  We had a window of like three days while my wife and kids were out of town.  So far one song has come out of that recording, and I think you already have it (Can The Baby Reach The Meth?)  turns out our guitar player was sick the whole time and was not really feeling it while we recorded.  It’s pretty evident in the recordings.  (ha ha)  So I think we are going to have to do it over again someday.  Plus we have a few new ones to add that we have been working on.

Did you have anyone you looked up to, or who sort of showed you the ropes in life or art?

J:  My Dad was pretty influential.  He was a painter.  I guess that’s what got me interested in art to begin with.  I remember as a family we would go to the beach with little squares of old paneling, and a bottle of Elmer’s glue, and make mosaics.  Always something creative going on.  Other than that, I have had many art teachers from high school through my college career that were inspirational to me.

When did you become serious about doing art, what medium was it and how did that lead up to where you are today?

J:  I was really into art in high school.  I had a great teacher who encouraged me.  I went on to junior college, and eventually SF state studying art the whole time, but I guess I had doubts  the whole time about the legitimacy of being able to make art for a living.  Those doubts are still with me today, as I make my living as a housepainter, and not a painter of pictures.  I am honored that you think I am an artist Justin, but i afraid the rest of the world does not share your sentiment.  (haha)  I did lots of cartooning when I went to Foothill College, and that was fun, but I also got into lots of trouble doing it.  Humor can be dangerous.  When I left there for SF State, I was into painting and got exposed to printmaking.  When I came to HSU I pretty  much stuck to printmaking, and in particular got really into stone lithography.  Pretty much no one does stone litho anymore.  Not even at HSU.  It’s gone, a lost art.  Maybe in New Mexico there a few still doing it.  I used a lot of solvent.  Not very eco friendly.  Those days are gone.  I always seem to be pushed into a new medium for one reason or another, and these days it’s photography.  In my whole college career I never touched a camera once.  I felt like it was a cheater’s way to create an image.  Now I see it differently.  So I have been having lots of fun playing with that.

As your art has grown, your taste in it must be ever changing too (or not).  Are there any artists that inspired you and that have stood the test of time, what made them so special?

I guess there are some artist’s who’s work I have always admired.  Maybe never to imitate, but just to look at and think, “wow, that’s cool”.  Van Gogh, Aguste Rodin, Cindy Sherman, Raymond Pettibon.  I don’t know, there are so many that I enjoy.   Here in Eureka there are so many talented folks who’s work I enjoy too.  One of my favorites is painter Jesse Wiedel.  His work has that same kind of messed up quality that Pettibone has, but in color, and even weirder, as it relates mostly to the Humboldt brand of natural freakiness that surrounds us.

There was a really killer documentary about the ever dynamic Humboldt music scene called Rural Rock and Roll, what was your part in that?

J:  I was the poster child for it.  The guy on the cover and the intro.  That was about the extent of my involvement.  It’s a cool documentary though, as it showcases the variety of great bands that are hiding out in a place like this.  It was made by Jensen Ruffe, a guy who went to HSU and played in bands here who now works for MTV.  I think he edits real world and shows like that.

What new stuff spins on your turntable?  Who’s hot in the Humboldt scene right now?  Who would you like to see on a dream bill at say the Alibi?

J:  Lately the newest stuff on the turntable is a 7″ from a band that played here called the Gap Dream.  Believe it or not I bought a cassette from them too!  A Burger Records artist.  Pretty cool stuff.  What is hot in Humboldt right now are dj’s.  They pack the houses these days, and sadly live bands can hardly draw a crowd.  I can’t explain it, but that’s how it is.  It’s a little frustrating that a guy playing his ipod plugged into a p.a. garners more interest and better pay than an actual performing musician or band.  It makes me wonder what the point of even playing is, other than I still have a good time doing it.  Dream bill at the Alibi?  Hmm.  Sometimes I think it would be cool to have all of the ex members of the Hitch play with their respective current bands, but that probably will never happen.  They only allow two bands on a bill at the bi.

Any advice you have for the young artist/musician that might be coming up into it all these days?

I guess I’d say, if you are serious about making a living at art or music, be serious.  Otherwise, you’ll never make it.  Oh, and maybe have a backup plan,  like being a janitor or something.

Any future projects in the works, where are you headed man?

Right now I am putting together a photography show of multiple exposures for the near future.  I have all my prints made, and need to hunker down and make some frames and mats next.  Uhh.

Any additional words of wisdom?

The Specials song keeps popping up on the ipod, “enjoy yourself.”  seems like good advice.

Thanx Bud!

Sean Hogan interview

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First ran across Sean Hogan at his essential, yet (for now?) defunct Damaging Noize blog, a virtual hotspot for some of the finest and sometimes rarest of extreme music (specializing in Japcore). He had the comments turned off on the blog, but provided his email, so like a fanboy I got in touch with him. I started seeing Sean’s comments at some of the other better music blogs and one such occasion he singlehandedly and unknowingly turned me on to a whole different kind of Hardcore music in the form of Bloody Fist Records. Then I just happened to pick up a 7″, I forget the band’s name, that had Sean’ artwork on the cover…this hentai styled chick. In talking to him I found out that he played music and inquired about that, which led to a hunt and eventual purchase of his band Cthuwulf split with Death Sentence, which I loved. Anyway, long story short, Sean is an interesting, multi-talented, renaissance type guy and I wanted to ask him a few questions, so we have this…

You’re an old LA head aren’t you, born and raised, like me, what was it like growing up in the LA area?
— In hindsight, fairly uneventful. For all the shit I pulled (and certainly talked) I somehow skated a lot of the consequences some of my close friends and other associates received. So here I still am, arguably unscathed (and thankful for that).

Kinbaku show by Naka Akira at Toubaku, Tokyo, JapanJade Hsu

How would you describe yourself, feel free to be as general or specific as you like?
— For all my terminal cynicism, I somehow still default to clowning, laughing, being sarcastic and gross. I live by an extremely simple mantra of “don’t trip on me and I won’t trip on you”.

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My first exposure to you was as a blogger, then as an artist, then as a musician, what came first, a love of art or a love of music and what events led up to that?
— Definitely art. I had high(ly misguided) aspirations to be the next Pushead. Ironically, all the guys who blatantly rip off his style the best these days completely deny any influence from him whatsoever…so maybe that’s a good thing I (mostly) gave up in that aspect. But yeah, music…it goes without saying you grow up on horror movies and comic books and doodling stupid shit constantly, you discover thrash/death metal and it makes you want to do album covers. It was as simple as that for me. My “talent” on the other hand is always up for debate, and I don’t feel I’m being self-deprecating or overly modest to say that. The day one stops questioning if they are an artist, is the day they cease to be an artist (or words to that effect).

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I’m sure you were a straight A student and a teacher’s pet, but did you study art all, to what degree are you self taught? What or who are some of your influences?
— I did every artsy type of class you could possibly do in high school (I was even on senior yearbook staff haha!), and the same in college (even going so far as to take a course where the entire semester focused on “ethics” in the design field). But considering how full of myself I was with my “talent” (I was sophomoric at best, yet failed to see this at the time), I consider my real classroom “in the field” so to speak. Real work experience, in the non-art facets of art, taught me that even when you are openly acknowledged as the pinnacle of your field, IT’S A FUCKING BITCH TO GET PAID! I learned so much in developing actual skill as well as the reality of surviving on art. So yeah, I really have to say I ended up being about 90% self taught, quite often (and I still do this) reverse-engineering techniques or effects I wished to achieve. Influences? Ultragore and existentialism (and anime 😉 ).

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As far as I know, your art was by hand, on paper and whatnot and by necessity I’m sure, as computers where fairly primitive when you were young, but it wasn’t that long ago that you made a transition from that medium to almost exclusively digital art…how did that come to be? Are you using Photoshop, or are there other programs you could recommend?
— My first exposure to Photoshop was in my first semester of college in the fall of ’91. So, the technology was there early on…just no one was taking advantage of it (and with most “new” technologies, a lot of oldschool artists I met were afraid of it). Hell, when I earned my digital design degree, they still made us do thumbnail roughs and lettering by hand! Regardless, though my parents were kind enough to set me up with my own Mac and arsenal of what were once industry standard programs (QuarkXpress and Freehand, Photoshop is the only popular survivor these days), if I wasn’t doing some bullshit magazine layout for a grocery store, I was only using the technology for logos or gradient shading in black and white (and very BASIC layout for the covers, scanning and cleaning my own drawn art). I’m not sure what set it off, my going completely digital. Maybe I was (very slowly) becoming curious with what I could achieve with using my mouse instead of a pen and paper. I did get really sick of the mess of smeared pencil lead, eraser shavings, and ink accidents…let alone my frustration in what I saw was becoming lazier and sloppier work on my end. In the 90s, I was notorious for getting something like a 10″ record’s entire layout hand-drawn and shipped to Finland within 2 days. Now, I take literally months to finish a 12″ sized cover. If it’s a basic 7″ cover, maybe several weeks. I’d rather move at a snail’s pace to coax noticeable growth in my skill than to race ahead halfass just to get it over with. Program’s now? Just the current version of Photoshop’s creative suite (aka: the 1,100 dollar version…yes, IT’S WORTH IT). I really need to learn InDesign for standard text-heavy layouts. It’s bundled with Photoshop, and I’m assuming is analogous to Quark in regards to “desktop publishing”, but I’ve never seriously had to consider looking into it until recently (laying in LARGE amounts of text in Photoshop is difficult and mind-murderingly slow). Other programs I use are some of the Alien Skin Software and Topaz Studios plug-ins, though I still feel a compulsion to tweak them and experiment with multiple overlaid effects, or bits of edits I choose to remove. I still use a mouse exclusively after all these years. So yeah, I’d have to say Photoshop’s CS package is all you really need (it also comes bundled with Illustrator for fine vector graphics, which if done correctly can blow your mind!). Shed the tears and buy it!

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You’ve done a lot of art for various bands, covers and so forth, can you name drop a little bit and I’ve seen some pretty wicked shit, is there one that you are most proud?
— Fear Of God, Protes Bengt, Napalm Death, Nausea L.A., Bloody Phoenix, Cluster Bomb Unit, Katastrofialue, Deep 6 Records, Bruce Banner, Death Sentence Australia, Goblin/Hideous Mangleus, The Helpless, Disleksick (real nice guys), Agathocles. Tons of shit I can’t even remember until I stumble on it on Discogs (hey man, I was drunk the entire ’90s). Some of these bands have been clients multiple times, and have sought me of their own volition (weird). My favorites? Even though it ended up being an unintentional parody of Dark Passages, the Goblin CD discography as well as Nausea’s new LP. The cut-off for my “Phase One style” is around Nausea’s LP cover, which I had finished in it’s entirety two years ago. Beginning with what I’ve been doing recently for Excruciating Terror and Nailed Down is my “Phase Two”, which I am finding more pleasure and growth with (maybe at a snail’s pace, but worth it). My absolute favorite cover stylistically is the “grind-collage-to-end-all-grind-collages” that became the cover for the Agathocles/M.A.D. split LP (there’s an even deeper story to this, but I’m being lazy). As an “Artiste” it would have to be coming full circle from being a 17 year old fan of Nausea, to being their borderline in-house art guy 20+ years later. I achieved my “childhood dream” in that way, and yet I know I could still go so much farther.

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Don’t be shy now, what is the lamest band, in retrospect, you have ever been a fan of? What made you see the light?
— No guilty pleasures my friend. I bump G’N’R and Terrorizer in my car with equal aplomb. And if anybody out there can’t see the fucking BRILLIANCE of Ritual De Lo Habitual, they can just chuggle my tumescence.

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What was the first live act you ever saw and what was your favorite (feel free to list more than one, I know I couldn’t pick just one)…and why?
— I was a late bloomer, I didn’t go to my first show until I was nearly 17. I was always bigger on having money to pick up more records. My first time seeing an underground band playing live was some no-name thrash metal band at a house party. But then a month later I think it was either Kreator, Morgoth, The Accused, and Excel (yeah, crazy bill!), or the first Grindcrusher tour. Autopsy’s west coast tour for Severed Survival, and Nausea’s first LP release party are in there as well. This would all be in very early ’91, the same year I graduated high school. ’91 treated me VERY well throughout the entire year! I’m one of those fudds who never has strong opinions on shows, no matter how “godly” some of the bands I saw were.

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What happened that you went from being a fan of music, to being a musician?
— I heard songs in my head that I wanted to hear in real life, but that no one else was playing. Doing Cthuwulf, I wanted a band that sounded like a mixture of Gai, Mob 47, and early Ripcord, and shakiness aside, we got that. I probably shouldn’t have made 90% of my musical journeys public, but it was all one big crazy experiment to begin with. I still don’t feel I am proper musician and will never call myself such.

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Can you give up a discography of the shit you’ve released? What are some of your favorites? And if you could pick one tune that was your best/favorite composition, which would it be?
— Honestly, I would like Cthuwulf to be remembered for just two recordings: the session that became the split 7″ with Death Sentence, and our 2006 “Gaishu Issyoku” demo. On those two sessions we were at our tightest, or fastest, we got the best sound we could on the absolute worst amateur equipment, we had energy, excitement, the recordings had vibe, I was happy with my guitar tones…just everything clicked. I still really enjoy listening to those sessions a great deal, we felt like a “real” band then, like we were channeling the turn-of-the-80s noisecore we mutually loved (and I don’t mean the trendy kind of noise these years). There’s other tracks I like in everything else we recorded, but those specific two are the most important to me. There’s also a couple demos I did programming hXc-techno (Mach Baron, and Pyrotoxxxn), they still seem to entertain me, and it’d be cool if others got a smile (or nightmare) out of them as well.

Another thing we have in common is a past life of debauchery, what was that like and do you miss it? You recently celebrated 10 years of sobriety if I’m not mistaken, how’s that going for you?
— 11 years sober. My life was shit and nothing but drama when I drank. I don’t miss it. I’m still shocked a decade later that I’ve never spent a day in jail for the shit I pulled when I drank (almost arrested several times though), and just as with the very first question you started this interview with…I’m fucking THANKFUL. Pot on the other hand… *shifts eyes side to side.

What kinds of things do you have in the works…future plans?
— Starting Radiation Therapy school, I keep talking out my ass about starting up c-beat catastrophe SICK WITH FEAR with Lalo & Marco (and maybe lil’ Fivel too), finish another hXc-techno/experimental album, restart the blog, doing covers for Eu’s Arse and a new LP for Excruciating Terror. The future looks like a lot of fun!

Thanx Sean!