ANDREW WK INTERVIEWS JENNIFER HERREMA
1. Let’s talk about fluffy cats. And let’s talk about how cats will drink with their paws. And let’s talk a bit about how certain cats will tuck their paws underneath their chests when they sit and lay. Haaaa…Yeah I used to talk to you extensively about Rudi, JoJo, Leon, and Sammi (my cats) Rudi would only drink with her paws by lifting the water to her mouth…They all sat in a row with their paws tucked up underneath them and looked like ducklings floating on the water…if you tie a string around their torsos they cant walk…it’s hilarious…they take a few steps and fall over sideways. I obviously love cats and somehow keenly identify with their behavior.
2. I get a really inspiring feeling of possibility from you and your music. Thank you always for doing what you do. Love, Andrew W.K. Thanks! yeah I too def feel the endless possibilities
3. Does 2020 seem a long way away? Yes
4. Are you in touch with Neil Hagerty? Yes…He’s written me a few songs for Black Bananas…the lines are open.
5. Do you consider yourself masculine? Whenever I play people your music, they think your voice is a man’s. I think that’s awesome. No I don’t consider myself masculine…I suppose I could def be considered androgynous as my voice and the way I present myself are very sexually unmanipulative…which is actually super sexy I’ve been told :P
9. Jennifer, I remember years ago you were talking about how you disliked the idea of “women in rock”, or “girls who rock” because it separated women from the idea of being a pure “rocker” and qualified them as “female rockers”. Do you still feel that way? Yes except my dislike of the qualified “titles” is not necessarily about any “pure rocker” status…it’s just that short sighted marketing that separates something that is inherently pure (rock'n roll) into demographics using gender signifiers. It’s like calling Keith Richards a session musician (although he has played music during many “sessions”) you would not roll in qualifying him as “The great session musician Keith Richards” just as you shouldn't write “the great female rocker Mavis Staples” (although she is a female and she rocks)…Purity needs no qualification i find it patronizing as well as presumptuous to be segregated…Lots of females thrive in the segregated environment…it offers them a way in on the margins where that shit belongs :P I been talking that shit since I was 16…I see that new chicks are taken that as a rad pose lately.
5. Do you think of your voice as a lead instrument, or as an accompanying instrument? Definitely both…we played some shows with Sleigh Bells last year and we have a song called “RTX Go-Go” there are sections of the song where i sing but no real words ..it’s just made up at the time…it was fkn hilarious the way people at the show reacted to that song!! They thought i was retarded or wasted…it was amazing…they could not just hear the vocal sounds as an instrument…rock n roll has a looooong way to go…or maybe just some of the audiences but prob both :P
1. My mom would make her own bananas turn black by putting them in the refrigerator. She liked them that way for making banana bread. Have you ever tried that? Yesssss and frozen bananas on top of my head for a hangover too!! Bananas rule! I think it would be cool to have banana prison hooch solidified into a solid perfume edible scent.
What about people taking your style and ideas and using them as their own? I think I’ve inspired a lot of awesome people but I’ve also inspired a lot of asshole poseurs too.
Brian Butler’s interests and practices with the occult, with its often hidden meanings, function as the underlying narrative of his work. The occult is that which is hidden: the supernatural, mystical, and magical. Butler, who has communed and consulted with occultists and magicians from Europe to South America, believes that magick is conducive to and complements all manner of creativity, helping practitioners access different parts of the mind as well as spiritual realms. As a musician, he has recorded and/or performed with artists such as VON LMO, Rozz Williams (Christian Death) and Technicolor Skull, an occult art performance collaboration with Kenneth Anger, whom Butler also works with on numerous film and exhibition projects
His films include Night of Pan (featuring Kenneth Anger and Vincent Gallo) and Union of Opposites. Butler recently collaborated with James Franco on a video that depicts a strange animalistic ritual and features Kenneth Anger as dark priest along with Butler himself as the Deacon. His next project is a feature film entitled King Death
Question: Much of your practice involves metaphysical or occult themes, would you say that you are in an altered state of consciousness when you’re composing or performing? Brian Butler: I’m always in that state when I’m creating because that’s the only state to be in when you’re doing art—otherwise if you have an everyday consciousness and you play in that mode your music won’t go very deep, it won’t reach very far and it won’t contain a lot of mystery and that’s not very interesting to me.
Question: Do you have a certain technique of going into that state? How does it happen? Brian Butler: I practiced ritual magick for a long time and I used to meditate for hours but very quickly I came to a point where I can just flick on a switch and it just comes and if I touch an instrument and I start playing —that state of mind is there almost immediately—it’s like a tap of running water, you just have to plug yourself in and there it is. When it comes down to going into that artistic world, the last place you want to be is totally earthbound. I want to be removed from that and that’s what I hope comes across in the performance.
Willis Earl Beal is doing a movie in Memphis with award-winning filmmakers Tim Sutton (PAVILION) and John Baker (DRAGONSLAYER) that’s funded by the Venice Biennale. It will premiere later this summer at the Venice Film Festival…and will include the acting prowess of our guest editor Jennifer Herrema!!
Daniel: Andrea, what were your parents going to name you originally?
Andrea: My dad wanted to name me “Luka” Lukic. And my mom wanted to name me Sarah, but my dad had never heard of that name before and was scared I would get called “Sarma” which in Serbian means cabbage roll. Brody, Did someone influence you to become a musician, or did you have that innate ability early on in your life?
Brody: I was supposed to be Lowell but he said he felt like he was chocking on his tongue. So they changed it.
My parents were a pretty big influence on me. They bought me a Fisher-Price record player and lent me their Boston records. I would be down in the basement playing air guitar with a tennis racket. Daniel, would you like a glass of water?
Daniel: I hate water. I only drink Coca-Cola. I’ve really been trying to force myself to drink water recently but it usually has to be carbonated.
Andrea: Do you perform any rituals? Daily chores that have any symbolic value or just a routine you repeat?
Daniel: My daily rituals are nothing that weird. I take at least one bath every day at home, I prefer it to showering. I also try and work out every day but it usually just ends up with me dancing in my room or trying on outfits. Brody, if you could live in the Body of either me or Andrea for one day, who would you choose and why?
Brody: I guess either one I’d pick I’d be into guys, so I guess I’d take Andrea. Then I would flirt with you so bad that once the day is over and I’m back into my real body you guys will be all awkward cause old Andrea wouldn’t know why you suddenly have a big crush on her. Hey Andrea, can I get my movies back?
Andrea: Yes, I packed them into a box when I moved and the box is now in under my desk collecting dust. sorry.
Daniel: Andrea you still have my Cults book too. Why are you so bad at returning things you borrow?
Andrea: I am really bad at borrowing other people’s stuff. But I also tend to lend things out and forget where and let the world keep them.
Brody: I’m the same way. i have really got to return some borrowed movies to people that I’m not even sure are still alive. Daniel, what’s the craziest thing you’ve seen from the 21st floor?
Daniel: They used to film porn on the roof of the building across from me. It’s owned by Sylvester Stallone.
Andrea: If you could inherit anything from anyone what would it be?
Brody: Mechanic skills from Neil Young. Real magic from David Copperfield.
Daniel: Julia Roberts’ smile and professionalism.
If you haven’t noticed the music industry has been floundering for years. Perhaps harder to see is the fact that Orange County California, though often overlooked because of its proximity to Los Angeles, is ripe with tons of excitable young people. Enter Burger Records, who have put Fullerton, CA (home to Fender guitars) back on the map through their tireless efforts booking shows, releasing music and running a class act record store. Executive types can no longer scoff at the buzz created by the folks at Burger, whose reputation grew from a ton of great releases on the cassette format. With over 450 releases to date, Burger Record’s enterprise has grown to include proper distribution, vinyl releases, two sold out Burgerama festivals, countless shows around the world, a web series and book publication. By following their ears and their hearts, Burger Records have not only created a niche within which they can follow their dreams, they are also steadily becoming heroes, champions and trend setters of music globally. When it’s all said and done, these guys are music freaks…a presence needed as much in Orange County as in the entire industry.
I first started rapping with Black Moth Super Rainbow and Tobacco master song tweaker Tom Fec to see if he wanted to do a split single with Black Bananas. As it turns out, our music is a good pairing vibe-wise, so we hooked it up. Truth be told, I’ve been enjoying his music for years. Currently occupying his time running a D.I.Y. record label and store for his music (Rad Cult), touring with Black Moth Super Rainbow and recording a new full length as Tobacco; Tom also came through with an email interview capable of making me see something to like in a 90s band I had always detested.
What are some of the things outside of music that influence your sound? TF: The visual part of it is just as important as the music for me, so it all works together. I grew up on Garbage Pail Kids and the Toxic Avenger and shit like that, so you can probably hear it and see it in everything I do.
I love the name of your prank phone call project, Sbarro Hottopic. Do you enjoy the mall? TF: You know, that name was supposed to be making fun of something, and I don’t even remember exactly anymore what I’m making fun of. It just makes sense somehow and I’ve gotta retrace my steps to figure it out again. I did used to love the mall, though.
I think your music sounds very contemporary and unlike most other music past or present, yet your music is often described as retro-minded. What do you think is the basis of this perspective? TF: I guess it’s because I’ve always used old synths, but I’m hardly even using anything old anymore. I’m trying to use some of those old methods of making sound in new ways, so I’d hope people don’t hear it as retro, because that’s just corny. Sometimes (most of the time) people just need to be able to relate something to something else they already know, and the analog synths make people go, “Oh! 70s!”
Do you think most people struggle to like music that isn’t easily described for them? TF: Yeah!! and that goes right along with how people need to overanalyze everything they hear and watch and feel now. Like how you watch a horror movie from 20 years ago and it’s just some crazy fucker hunting people for no reason and that’s why it’s scary. And in the new movies, you have to see what damaged them psychologically to better understand them, and then it’s all just ruined. So it’s almost like people just need everything to be explained and understood or you just write it off. Maybe that’s just because people are becoming more sophisticated, but I still like music to enter from the balls.
Do you have an oversimplified description for what you do? TF: I’ve always thought what I do is just primal, because I never learned music or sequencing or anything. Just record and go and don’t stop until I hit something.
What contemporary music are you stoked about now? TF: I’ve been loving the Dâm-Funk album for a few years now. Your album kicked me into gear last year and actually got me to finish “Cobra Juicy” the way I did. I just found this band called Knife Ritual that’s like exactly what I wanna hear right now.
Is there anything that has surprised you or something your fans might be surprised that you like? TF: I’ve been learning harmonies by listening to all the ‘90s Bad Religion albums. I don’t know how, but they’re pretty fucking cool.
Have there been times writing or performing your own music that you have even surprised yourself? TF: All the time. That’s mostly the stuff that gets released. When something clicks, I never know how I did it.
Do you like stuff that others consider bad? TF: Yeah. I pretty much hate all the popular indie stuff, so probably am listening to a lot of stuff people around me consider bad. Bad Religion, I never stopped loving STP, and a bunch of smaller bands I’d feel bad about putting in that category in public.
Do you think it is harder today for musician’s intentions to remain a mystery? TF: It’s easy if you’re committed to it, but I’m sure it’s way harder than it would have been even 10 years ago. We did it because we wanted to be left the fuck alone and that does make people dig harder on the internet, but if you really wanna be left alone, you can figure out how.
Do you think too much mystery these days means that no one will bother to listen? TF: No, I don’t know if anyone really cares either way anymore. I’ve heard about a ton of people doing it recently, so it might even be trendy now.
What key elements or conditions are needed before you can make music as Tobacco? TF: Not much…just time. I’m pretty on the fly.
You come from a family of artists…did you always know you would be an artist? Pretty much. My mom tells a story about me as a child being asked by a friend of hers if I was going to be an artist when I grew up. I responded indignantly “I am an artist.”
Like you mentioned, most of my family are artists. My grandfather, Barnaby Conrad II, who just passed away was a bullfighter, author, painter, pianist, bar owner. His son, my uncle, Barnaby III is a painter and author. BC III’s wife runs a Manhattan gallery that showcases current Chinese artists. My mother is a painter and possibly my favorite artist. Her sister, Kendall Conrad, designs fancy leather goods and owns a few stores in California where you can buy a $3,500 crocodile iPad case. I like to make fun of her bags but they’re real nice. My mother’s mother was an architect. My dad’s dad was a Jewish cattleman. My dad is a former street performing mind reader who once opened for the Knack at the Whiskey right when Get the Knack came out. My parents met at a party my dad was performing at and later ran a nightclub on W. 27th street called The Dive in the early eighties. My sister is an artist and animator living out in LA and doing rad shit. My brother’s in ROTC but he’s a really funny guy who used to do stand up that was kinda like Stephen Wright.
I always kinda related to the Addams Family movies and always was terrified of having to enter the adult world and had no idea how I would be able to fit in and wake up on time for stuff. In a lot of ways I never did. I still can’t drive and I like and do the same things I’ve always done.
I went to a school near where I lived from when I was eight until I was seventeen called Silvermine and took a lot of figure drawing classes. Then I went to SVA for five years. I had some great teachers especially Gary Panter, Joo Chung and a few others but the most important part of learning to draw is just drawing from life every day for hours and hours and being self-critical. Lots of people I went to school with left school with less ability than friends of mine who only draw when I ask them to.
3. Your life is immersed in music and you draw constantly…does music inspire your work directly or indirectly or both and how? Your sense of hearing is stronger than your sense of sight, which is why music is more effecting than visual art. Your mind doesn’t need to process it as much. The sense of smell is the strongest sense so it’s weird that the biggest aroma based art form is scratch n’ sniff stickers.
All visual artists want to make pieces that feel like music. When I was younger I would have to wait until I was in love with somebody or mad at somebody to do something intense. A big part of being able to do what I do as a job is being able to turn it on and off. I put on songs that make me feel intensely and I just have them play on loop for hours and draw. My first solo show was called Gut Feeling and it was based around the Devo song. I listened to Gut Feeling on repeat for about a week.
Also I like to draw to the rhythm of the music I’m listening to.
4.What were you thinking about when u were drawing the black bananas/tobacco 7” artwork for the Volcom singles club…? I was listening to “Hey Rockin’” on repeat which is probably my favorite Black Bananas track. Plus you’re fun to draw and I just got into the textures of everything. I really liked trying to make your hair seem long and straight and your fur collar feel furry and the texture of the leather coat and the lumpy pattern on the seams of the jeans. The BBs side was pretty much planned out.
For the Tobacco side I didn’t really know what it was going to look like until it was done. I started drawing a cat’s face and then started adding the weird geometric and psychedelic patterns and shapes on it’s face and curling the letters around it’s eyes like hair or possibly make up.
I like both your music and Tobacco a lot and I think that the songs you guys made for this 7” is some of your best so I knew I couldn’t just phone it in.
Growing up I was really into comics and I really liked Mike Allred, Sam Kieth, Dan Clowes, R Crumb, Winsor McKay and the EC artists. Once I got into high school my favorite artist was Egon Schiele and I was really into the angular figures in German expressionism.
Nowadays my favorite artist is probably my mother, Cayetana Conrad. Check out her stuff here. http://www.taniconrad.com
“THE VIOLATORS” ROB LASKO, JESSE TRBOVITCH, JELLO MAN (PAUL VILE)
Jennifer, here’s the Jello Man interview (AKA, Paul Vile):
Jello Man is Kurt’s brother. Before being Kurt’s sometime keyboardist, he was Kurt’s most-of-the-time guitar tech. Before that, he was involved in the business of Jello shots. Here, he talks about these things.
ROB ASKS JELLO MAN Q’S:
Should I refer to you as Jello Man? Jello Man: Yeah. You mean for the interview? Or in general?
Well, both. Either. I saw you have the card that says Jello Man, I thought maybe that’s how I should address you. Jello Man: You can say Jello Man.
So I’ve noticed you’ve been playing keyboards with the Kurt Vile band. Is playing keyboards something you’ve done before, with any of your brothers? Or anyone? Jello Man: Yeah. I play with my brother Sam’s band. I’ve always played keyboards, but never took lessons till recently.
Is this the first time you’ve played with Kurt? Jello Man: yeah.
I’ve toured with you before, when you were Kurt’s guitar tech. One thing I noticed when you were doing that job, you were hitting on girls quite a lot while you were tuning guitars, during a show, while you were working. Jello Man: Yeah. It happens.
Are you worried that playing on stage will interfere with that? Because you’ll be busier during the concerts? Jello Man: (Long laugh) Thats a funny way to put it. But it will probably enable me more to hit on girls. Maybe not.
But maybe not DURING the show…? Jello Man: yeah, well during the show I don’t really care. thats not the biggest thing on my mind. If I’m playing with a band, I’m like, way more zoned and stoked about it. With Kurt, I was nervous at first, um, tuning guitars. But I started getting’ like a little less nervous with it. Thats when I started slacking, I guess, that’s when I started doing a couple things at once, you know. but...
Slacking is one way of looking at it. multitasking might be another. Jello Man: yeah but sometimes… maybe (now I’ll be) putting more time in to not socializing at all during that time period. cos that might distract me or something. um I think an example might be like the Flaming Lips (tour, when you opened for them)
I do remember you losing the only set of van keys when you were dressed in the catfish suit, and you not looking for them, even though it was immediately apparent what had happened. Anyway, so what do you prefer then? Do you look at becoming the keyboard player as a promotion or a demotion? Jello Man: promotion. Are u recording this?
Yeah. Jello Man: you shoulda told me that, thats illegal.
Oh well I erased everything you just said. I’ll only record from here on out. You’re on speaker phone now! Jello Man: Who’s there?
Just me. Jello Man: ask your wife if she wants a jello shot.
Jello shot???? Excuse me? Jello Man: Uh, I got her a (Jello Man) shirt.
Um... Jello Man: You know, there’s history with the jello shots. When Kurt let me go on tour with you guys… I still thought I wanted to bring Jello shots. I remember spilling Jello shot sludge on your guitar case, and you getting all pissed off.
Oh yeah I remember that…right at the very beginning of the first tour we did together. Jello Man: that was like the first experience I had realizing that these things merging might be weird a little bit, but I somehow figured out how to do it on some occasions. It was kinda funny a bit, having Jello shots around you guys.
Anything else going on that you’re excited about right now? Jello Man: check out jellomanphilly.com I’m making a music video soon. You know Tom Scharpling? He was shooting Kurts video the other day.
You were there? How was that? Jello Man: that was uh, interesting. somewhat humiliating for us. Kurts the king and we’re carrying his throne. All these extras showed up… I was holding the flag, said KV on it, it was ridiculous.Like I was saying Tom Scharpling directing, he likes the whole Jello Man thing too, he as saying, he heard about it, he said, “Well Paul, looks like you’re my new favorite Vile.” you should put that, Tom Scharpling said Jello. Man is his new favorite Vile.
Ok, Jello Man Vile. Jello Man: maybe you shouldn’t put that. Kurt might get upset.
Have you considered making that your legal name? Like how Axl Rose did? Jello Man: No, its a whole big gimmick. I don’t really think like a superhero, but its funny… I have all these crazy ideas for jello shots. Like I’m going to make squirrels, like squirrels, you don’t have to put this in but I’m gonna tell you...
Well don’t’ say anything you don’t want in print! Jello Man: well maybe I shouldn’t then… ha, well never mind.
ROB ASKS JESSE Q’S:
Well What were you up to before I interrupted Tonight that
10:03 So why mess with this one
10:04 PM This project is.... just something to keep me sane. I enjoy it working on electronics... my moment of Zen
10:05 PM What were you up to??
10:06 PM He’s head of the DPW back home
10:09 PM So as you know, this is Jennifer’s article. I met her a while ago when she and the other Black Bananas (then RTX) produced the band I was in at the time. That was a great time, so I was pretty bummed I missed out on the tour you worked with them. So, what exactly did I miss out on?
10:20 We were on a West Coast tour with Thurston Moore and Kurt and Jenifer had been talking about going to the RTX/Black Bananas studio to record—anything or any time. Jennifer hung out at one of the shows, and we made concrete plans to go down to her studio. I don’t know who conceived the particular project, but it wound up being the Rolling Stones cover that Volcom put out on a 7”.
10:21 PM We arrived, got set up, and just laid down the rhythm stuff live, then Kurt and Jen sang through a PA System to what had been recorded and it was crankin’! Brian really had things ready and was pretty key to capturing the vibe.
10:22 PM ! 10:23 PM
10:24 PM Mostly just hung out as long as we could, having a few beers talking, relaxing...It was a nice respite between touring. It was cool to do something constructive to break up the monotony that creeps in..
10:26 PM Ha! (to the journalist) You’ve mentioned Spirit of 76 was an “important” album to you—care to elaborate? And thank you for giving me a copy of it!
10:29 PM Spirit of ‘76 is one of my favorite records. I had been listening to their eraly stuff and loved Dr. Sardonicus in particular. David Briggs recorded that one, as well as Thank You by Royal Trux. (That probably spawned the conversation). ‘76 is much different... quirky, unfiltered...stoned and beautiful. It sounds like a record that person makes for himself when nobody’s looking. It’s not completely self indulgent, though. I have to make Brian that pedal!
ROB LAAKSO INTERVIEW: I ASK ROB Q’S
Q:What’s up with the parade today? Rob: I was just talking to Kurt’s younger brother Paul, who was in it. He said it was “humiliating” to be carrying Kurt on a throne. However, Paul claims the director told him he’s his “new favorite Vile” now. He didn’t mention why that is.
Q: Tell me about the artist who painted ur record artwork/mural...a friend of urs...how did y’all end up working Rob: I’d seen his work before, but only just met him at our last NY show. We seemed to share similar tastes in pizza and beer.
Q: Any new pedals or gear being used during upcoming live shows? Rob: I just bought a fix-me-up bass head online for the tour. Maybe not the best idea! Turns out the tech who worked on it before didn’t install the power cable correctly, meaning in the worst case scenario it could still kill whoever was playing it. (This is how the Yardbirds’ singer died). I’ve been fixing it in my spare time—looks like I’ll get done.
Q: First time u heard TUSK and initial thoughts, etc... The first time I heard the song Tusk was on the classic rock station while I was driving. It was weird enough they were playing something that broke from their familiar playlist of Aerosmith, Boston, All Right Now, etc. But that first shouted part was extra surprising to hear while driving!
JESSE ANSWERS: I ASK JESSE Q’S
1) Parade is for a video that Tom Sharpling is making for the song “******”. In the video, Kurt is indie rock royalty, paraded around by throngs of fans, all the while demonstrating his everyman/working class hero nature. This contraction is often humorous... like eating a hoagie on a jewel encrusted platter made of solid gold.
2) Steve Powers, aka ESPO painted the mural that used on the album cover. He’s from Philly, but lives and works in New York... Learned of his work through MegaWords magazine and books like SOTM (stuck on the map, which Steve published, I believe). Through mutual friends like Michah Danges, Dan Murphy, and our manager, Rennie, the collaboration got underway. Steve is a big fan of music and we have similar tastes, so it made sense...
3) KV loves Flannery O’Conner, but has been a Brett Easton Ellis tear as of late. Before that, he was reading a lot of Burroughs (especially enjoyed the Yage Letters). He also reads rock’n’roll biographies and histories incessantly. Jesse just picked up Richard Hell’s autobiography and is stoked about it, and considers Raymond Carver to be a favorite.
4) Fav Cities to play? New York, Chicago, LA... the Earl in Atlanta. We got to play in Italy, finally, and that was cool...Our favorite spot in Europe is probably Vera (in Gronigen). Australia, might have been the best tour of last year, especially in Melbourne.
5) KV uses some weird/cool gear from Mountain King Electronics: a prototype of a noise generator/synth machine; it makes insane sounds and basically plays itself, and a Heavy Machine pedal for solos... (http://www.mountainkingelectronics.net/). Jesse rebuilt his TrboVibe (univibe clone) so it won’t continually break down on the road; helps with his Randy California/Spirit of ‘76 obsession.
6) I honestly don’t know when KV heard Tusk for the first time... He loves it. I have actually not listened to the whole album (Jesse).
JESS HOLZWORTH Music Video Director and Collage Artist
1. How did you start directing music videos? Beck saw my collage artwork in Paris and sent me an email asking if i would be interested in making a video for him.
2. What other artists have you made videos for? Black Bananas, Rye Rye/ M.I.A, The Slits, Basement Jaxx, LadyHawke, Deap Vally
3. Do you have a Tumblr? Yes, it is called Dirty and Earthy, peek it: http://dirtyandearthy.tumblr.com/
4. What do you dig? Photography and Vegetables
Dan Koretzky is one of 2 Dan’s that founded, run, and own Drag City records and is the big biz backer behind FEATHERED FISH
1. When and how did you and Jennifer Herrema meet? Christmas, 1989, I was told to meet her at CBGB’s in New York. I met her, was intrigued and intimidated, and was later punched in the arm by a friend who felt I might have been cast under a spell of some sort. That’s, uh, crazy, right? Right? I’ve been asking myself that for over twenty years now...
2. You’ve been working with Herrema for a long time. How is working with her on a jewelry line different than working on a record? Other than the jewelry not sounding nearly as good as the records (even when rattled), there is little difference. In both cases (and Feathered Fish is much more than just jewelry, btw) Jennifer takes cultural detritus from the past 60 years and grinds it in her mill-mind until what comes out is something familiar yet never before really seen or heard in quite that way. The late great Stanley Kubrick was a fan, referring to Jennifer as “A Masterpiece of Modern Horror” and I can second that emotionless motion.
3. Who came up with the name of the company, Feathered Fish? What does it mean? It was a group decision between Jennifer, her co-conspirator Pamela Love, and myself. But it didn’t seem 100% right to any of us until Matthew Nelson created the amazing logo for it. Then we KNEW. Because we PAID for it. Money = Reality. And that might be your best clue as to what Feathered Fish means. Or I might just be fucking with your chain.
4. Can you tell us a little bit about the ring itself? Was it ever actually a real ring or just part of the illustration on Accelerator? There was a version of the ring Jennifer made during the late 90’s Royal Trux period, of which, anyone who was there might tell you, “you’ve never seen anything so real.” Pamela joined Jennifer in reimagining the ring in this post-Royal Trux world, which means from low-fi to no-fi. The girls literally went native. And the ring went from pewter to silver, which is a form of alchemy in case you don’t already know. A very classy form of alchemy.
5. Where can people buy the ring? You gonna get it in stores? We made very few of these and they are selling pretty well, so there are no immediate retail outlets planned for this. There’s no business like direct business, baby! Especially in this constricted day and age. However, once Feathered Fish gets its wings, there will be expanded distro for future projects fo sho. Right now this is where your money needs to go: www.feathered-fish.com.
Flaunt Mag Rock & Roll Issue
Animalistic Sub Pop rocker King Tuff spends a lot of time on the road. During long drives between cities you can often find him in the back of the van reading comics. “Cartoons are crazy goddammit! It blows my mind that they even exist!” he says, “I’m so happy that Earth people invented art and cartoons, and my favorite Earth-dwelling cartoonist is Wartella.” The feeling is mutual, says the New York City artist and animator, “I always listen to music when I draw. It gets me into the right state of mind! And nothing makes my brain zippier than King Tuff’s tunes.”
M. Wartella, whose work has appeared regularly in The Village Voice and on Cartoon Network’s MAD, as well as on cult-favorite late-night TV shows Wonder Showzen and Superjail!, has just released a giant 12”x12” coffee table retrospective of his work from Burger Records.
The two recently sat down for coffee and pie at West Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont, secluded behind lush Majesty Palms in the King’s favorite corner booth, to talk about Rock & Roll, Comix and Dream Magic.
KT: What is your definition of Rock & Roll? MW: Rock & Roll is a way of life. It’s not just about music. It’s about living on the edge of a knife and never looking back, giving one million percent of yourself, pushing your mind and body to the limit, then going back and doing it all over again. It’s that Never Say Die attitude. You either get it or you don’t.
KT: Oh bro, its so true! We played over 200 dates last year across three different continents. I thought I was going to die sometimes, but then I would say “Never Say Die!” and we made Rock Roll instead! MW: Exactly! You push yourself to the edge and beyond because you’re doing what you love. I’m the same way. I’ve animated nearly 300 hand-drawn shorts since 2010. That’s millions of individual drawings, all running at twenty-four frames per second. It’s like cutting 300 singles. Ya gotta be buzzing like a fly to pull that off. Luckily, I manage to keep myself highly caffeinated.
KT: Mmmmmmm... caffeine! Tell me about your relationship with coffee. MW: Coffee is my muse. I’m a total caf-fiend. I need an intravenous drip or something that just keeps me on the level at all times. We drink the stuff all day long at my animation studio in Brooklyn. I need to get Starbucks to open a little coffee stand right inside my shop so we can maximize the creative flow. How else are we gonna crank out all those drawings?
KT: Yeah, I drink coffee endlessly and I call it my special Black Juice. Tell me more about your studio. MW: Well, I just opened it up. We found a really cool space out in Williamsburg, total old-school New York vibes with a tin ceiling and all that. We call it the Dream Factory. John Holmstrom, the founder of PUNK magazine and the guy who drew all those classic Ramones album covers, he came by the shop one day and said it reminded him of the old Punk Dump, only cleaner! That blew my mind. It’s kinda my goal to build a magic club where we can escape and just draw all day long. I have a bunch of really cool artist friends helping me out now too, so we’re ready to take on the world, make more and more animation, melt a million minds. I think there may also be ghosts in there, but friendly ones.
KT: You gotta have a clubhouse, and it’s always better if they are haunted. All of my studios have had ghosts and they help me. Have you ever come in contact with the spirit world? MW: Oh yeah! Every single day! I think there’s magic all around us if we just open our eyes to it. You have to watch for the little synchronicities that life spits out. Those are the clues. Like Deja Vu and all that. Or like you sing about, “Say a little prayer to the moon. Wishing on the blue of the flame.” You have to believe in magic. You have to manifest it through rituals. Creative spirits are everywhere.
KT: I agree. Science is cool, but people forget that we are living on a floating sphere revolving with a bunch of other goddam spheres in a void around a giant fireball and that’s what I like to call Magic. Is there a certain time of day you are most creative? My favorite time is early morning/late night, “the blue hour”. MW: It can hit me at any time. When it strikes it’s pure energy straight from the cosmic consciousness. I think the harder part for me is pushing ahead when sometimes you’re not in the mood, or the feeling isn’t hitting. But that’s Rock & Roll. Never Say Die!
KT: What has it been like working with Burger Records? MW: Burger is more than just a record label or book publisher. They’re like a giant family of freaks. They’re some of the nicest, coolest cats I’ve ever met. It’s one huge party. I feel so lucky to have gotten involved with them. You know better than I do! You’ve been working with ‘em for years!
KT: They are living cartoons. I love love love the t-shirts you do for them. I want you to do one for me already, you freak. MW: Thanks! Well, you already wear a few of my shirt designs on stage. What a trip. I get a kick out of seeing you in that mysterious owl insignia shirt, which I created for Detroit’s Conspiracy of Owls. Great band. There are a lot of real magic symbols embedded in there. It’s not just some joke cartoon.
KT: When you make a cartoon, do you feel like you become friends with the character and the character is actually real? MW: Of course! I name all my characters even if I’m the only person who knows. It does make them more real. But drawing cartoons is just an optical illusion. It’s creating an image of something that doesn’t exist, and making people believe they see it. Animation takes it a step further by making the drawings move and come to life. The drawings aren’t really moving, it’s just a magic trick, but if you put all of your energy and love into the art, people get hypnotized into believing it’s real.
KT: What are your thoughts about the dream world? I think dreams are just as real as reality. MW: I totally agree. We could do a whole article just on dreams. I have a Dream Council who I meet with on the other side and who help me in the “real” world. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. As you’re falling asleep, you just invite all your heroes to a round table and hold a meeting. I call people like Ub Lwerks, Jim Henson and Andy Warhol. The thing is anyone can do it, but this is the stuff they’ll never teach in schools. It’s too powerful.
KT: I love that someone named their kid Ub! What do you know about the magic pyramid? MW: I know that all the old paintings on the tomb do the sand dance, don’tcha know? I got really lucky one time and stayed in a magical motel room with an ancient Egyptian theme, like hieroglyphics on all the walls and on the pillows and stuff. One afternoon, I put on some music and slipped into a trance, and the hieroglyphs came to life and started dancing to the rhythm. They were digging the tunes! I think the ancient Egyptians still watch over us today. I hope we please them.
KT: I know that my Grandpa King Tut is very proud of our work in this dimension. What does the future hold? MW: The future holds whatever we conceive. I see a cultural revolution just up ahead, another Golden Age! I see a million freaky souls all manifesting on Earth at this one point in time, each one creating amazing new art, music, and ideas. All working together, building into a giant tidal wave which will break through to the masses, pierce the membrane, open a billion kids’ minds and flood an avalanche of freak culture all across the Earth. Wow. I can totally see it! Can you?
KT: I’m always trying to pierce any membrane I can find! ;)
Crazy Band Is: Drums: Fat Tony Sax/Singing: Jtd Bass: Jezenia Guitar: Jazmo R. Guitar: Deana Uribe Singing: Sue Persmaurt
Crazy band was started because we like to rock. We hung out all the time and we were always rocking so we just kept rocking and were still rocking. Ey watz up bebes. I saw a old guy slowly Jay walking wearing a suit, a baseball hat and cortezes. Sometimes i wear a thong when the underwear just goes up my butt. Two things. First, Jezenia needs a G String. Second, she doesnt know how to put it on. Third, we know how to put it on. Take a screenshot it will last a little longr. Whats up you mutha fuckaz my huzband wets tha bed. Feel free to feel as free as you want with this. —Crazy Band
Since their inception two years ago Zig Zags have released three singles, played dozens of shows ranging from house parties to the Filmore West and collaborated with Iggy Pop on a cover of Betty Davis’ funk monster “If I’m in Luck I might just get picked up.” The latest release is a cassette tape titled “10-12” via the hard working and hard smoking dudes at Burger Records. Up next, a split with their brothers of riff, The Shrine. Zig Zags took a moment to drop the needle for the record.
How would you describe Zig Zags to your grandma?
Jed: I would say like Motorhead and Metallica and Ween... she would just stare...
Patrick: I’d say it’s somewhere between Elvis and Kenny Rogers, cuz pretty sure that’s the only music she’s heard of.
Bobby: Zig Zags sounds like the night my Uncle Mike got thrown into the pool by my drunk marine counsin Steven, just before the BBQ got tipped over and set fire to the deck, almost burning down the house, and just after my juvinile cousins were firing bottle rockets out of their mouths cuz they’re tards…that would bring her up to speed.
You guys always seem to rep LA hard at your shows, any plans on touring out East?
Jed: We dig LA, it seems a lot easier to get things done out here and all the kids from the suburbs that come to the shows always seem super stoked and they grew up here and we didn’t so I always try to yell something out for them. I love seeing all the “Wassup Rockers” styled out Hispanic kids. We played a backyard house party way out in East LA and a lot of the kids that were at that show still come see us and say hey which I’ve never had happen before.
Patrick: Recently some kid at a coffee shop asked me if i was in a band he saw at the viper room the night before. I took it as a compliment.
Bobby: I lived in NYC for six years and moved out here…I was looking for this city all along but didn’t know it. I like New York but excitement for shared creativity and culture is unparalled and so is the weather…LA has a colorful way of imbedding its mark into the creative spirit…especially in music.
What’s the next jam?
Bobby: We’re taking some time off from playing shows to record an album. We just played with Earthless which was a big deal for all of us cause they are rad! We been collecting recording equipment and are now getting ready to record a bunch of shit in our practice space. We also need to save cash so we can get a van to get on the road! Yeah so once we get a record, get some money and get a van…we’re burning rubber.
Jed: (singing Alice Cooper Beavis and Butthead style) “Can’t go on tour cause I ain’t got a van...”
All: “Lost in America, Lost in America!”
Lizzi has been singing for the NYC occult band Gang Gang Dance for over a decade now. With her little writing hiatus, she’s makin art and chillin.
Do you listen to any current pop music? Nah, I was thinking about this the other day. First, Rihanna shouldn’t do Ballads, it doesn’t work. I remember Jennifer and I in my kitchen talkin shop about singers, we think Kelly Rowland should get her due. She works hard. I find Big K.R.I.T soulful. I got jaded by seein live music at SXSW last year...Rick Ross kind of did a number on me in a very good way, but all in all this is not the stuff I go to when I’m spirit searching. Capital STEEZ, I mean he offed himself. That’s the kind of music that speaks to me. I mean I like Crash Worship and shit. The thing that made me want to be a singer was watching Genesis P-Orridge make-out with some random dude in the crowd. Music is ephemeral and expand beyond the realms of Consciousness. I like political music but I do not make Political music. I’m more interested in the delivery of a song, personally. When I’m in the studio, I just sing with Mama Africa.
Where do you get your lyrical inspiration from? Well, it varies. I mean I don’t understand why anyone would want to steal words or style from current music. I had to sue someone once cuz that pissed me off when that happenned to me. I guess a call and response would be cool like Jay Z did with Nas but most indie musicians doesn’t really know how to shout out and be cool like that. If I’d steal anything I’d steal it from Pasolini poems or some Apocapylse movie, even the bad ones make me write like crazy cuz my brain trails off to my imaginary utopias and cloudy landscapes.
What do you listen to around the house? Don Cherry, Rodriguez, Alicia Keys, Pharoah Saunders, Chakra Bells, Bird sounds, Miriam Makeba, Group Doueh, songs my current bandmates make and old bandmates, my old vocal takes/melodies...I record myself all the time singing. I like when it gets real gutteral, especially when I wake up in the morning.
What are your current plans in music? I’m just getting in shape and working on my mindset, where I want the next step to be with Gang Gang. I can promise that when we play again live it will be amazing. Until then, my only plan is to hang in the desert in Cali and lay in some waters til I can come up again for air.