I’m back home tonight, but my two-day sojourn to Corvallis reinforced in me how much the late ‘70s and early ‘80s have such a pull for me. I stayed in the University Inn, which was blocks away from both venues this weekend. The building, the restaurant connected to it, and a lot of other stuff in that area were all from the late ‘70s, aesthetically.
This was particularly pronounced inside my room, which couldn’t be bothered to have modern locks or furniture, and was so late ‘70s that I felt absolutely comforted by the funky carpet and half-broken fixtures. I wasn’t in the room much, and it was only a place to sleep and eat, but there was some part of me that felt 100% comfortable there, and a part of me wanted to keep that room as some sort of office, or secret apartment.
This morning, as I was packing, I started to notice the few things that didn’t fit. It’s not that I was looking for problems, but as I was making sure I didn’t leave anything behind, it became clear that the side tables were new, the tub wasn’t vintage, and neither were those towels or that coffeemaker. It was certainly easier to leave the room behind when it was no longer perfect.
Still, it highlighted (yet again) how I have such a nostalgia for that era, and how nit-picky I often can be.
I made this video, one of the few music videos I’ve tried to make for my music. I think it quite fits the vibe of my material, and it is very relaxing to me. I made this specifically for the What Is Noise? Fest Day 2; the Whiteside Theatre was projecting videos on their big screen throughout the entire fest, and this was shown around 5:45 PM. It was without sound, which was sort of fun to see as I was running around filming stuff. If you wanted to see and hear the full video, here it is, available to the public for the first time. (This is almost 50 minutes, for time-management purposes.)
It’s such an interesting feeling to be on the eve of something very exciting, not the least of which is the release of my first vinyl. Moments ago I finished assembling the final bits for the covers, the records were delivered this afternoon, and tomorrow you can purchase this fine item at the “What Is Noise?” Fest in Corvallis.
In a way, this is almost anti-climactic. I have a month of touring ahead of me, I have two more releases coming out in August, and there’s so much more work to do this year that I don’t really get to spend a lot of time enjoying this accomplishment. And that’s a good thing; I still have 20 more ‘zines to assemble before tomorrow, and more to pack, etc. There’s always more to do.
But: as a person who was practically raised by records, to be making and releasing my own is incredibly exciting. My mom collected records. I’ve been collecting since High School. In every band the idea of releasing a record was a goal, but almost unachievable. Now, I have a pile of them in my hands, that I made, and I have to say I’m sort of astonished to hear my sounds on a record.
I sort of went overboard with this item. The audio on this record is not available in any other form, and was never aired before. This mono recording is unique to this release only. I mixed and mastered the audio myself.
The packaging was all designed by me. I mocked up the covers and designed the labels and other materials. I wrote the essay in the zine, and and hand cut and stapled all the covers and materials. The zine is something near and dear to my heart, and tangentially relates to the music, too. (Max Headroom is always relevant, yes?)
There are two collages on the inside covers unique to each copy of this release. You can see an assortment of those collages here. The material I used to make the collages has been stuff I’ve been collecting since the early ‘90’s, and includes stuff from magazines and whatnot that I’ve chopped up and tossed into my collage box ever since. I’m excited to finally use some of this stuff.
The Download code does not include the music in the record. Instead, it includes over two hours of other music from live performances, radio broadcasts, and elsewhere. I’ve tackled some of these ideas in the past, but never in exactly the same way. Those past attempts are provided, almost in an archeological form, so you can see the evolution of these concepts.
There’s also a very nice full color sticker in each package. It’s the one you may have seen before.
All in all, I’m really excited to put this in the hands of interested folks. Hopefully there’s enough interest to make a second run on this one… or, even, a second record.
But for now, I’m gonna take a few moments to reflect on this accomplishment. While I know in my head I should feel like this is something huge, in my heart I sort of feel like there should be confetti and clowns and a party.
I first began my career in 1993 making ‘zines. A tradition I continue to this day. All of our ‘zines are hand folded and stapled by me. ‘Zines are between $5 and $2. You can order some (not quite all) of my old ‘zines at wtbc.bandcamp.com/merch, but while I’m out and about, you can pick up:
“Naked Trees Point to the North Star.”
A 100 Page short fiction collection, featuring stories written by Austin in the early 2000’s. Now available for $5
The most recent publication – Does It Make A Sound? – is the third in a new series of ‘zines launched in 2013. The first two contain fiction, reviews, and other tid-bits, too. $5 apiece.
This mini-‘zine was originally submitted as a piece for an art show in 2009. It contains 100 ideas for then-un-made art pieces. You can now enjoy them for $2.
“Today I Learned Everything There Is To Learn.”
This photo Mini-‘Zine features my first attempts at photography in the mid-to-late 2000’s. $2.
Corvallis Friends: I’m looking for a room to stay in for two nights next weekend, Friday & Saturday. It will be me and my gear for the show that weekend (no more than standard luggage). I will probably be gone most of the time, and will largely need the room to sleep and recover from the show.
I used to say that Keanu’s mistake was that he didn’t keep making “Bill & Ted’s” movies like it was a James Bond franchise, one every year or so.
Now I like to think that there is a universe where this happened, and the announcement that was just made was the two stars finally retiring from the roles, as two young upstarts are cast to take over the series.
Strangely, in that Universe, there was only one Fast & Furious movie, too. But it is considered a cinematic masterpiece due to the heritage of Goddard’s previous film output, and not so much because it is his best film.
Steve Wynn used to say that all good music contains at least three of the four following qualities:
Funny, Scary, Sexy & “Sounding like it is ready to fall apart at any moment but still somehow holds together.”
His thinking was that if you only have one or two of those qualities, your music is hollow and lacking, and that to have all four was truly transcendant, but three was the right level of challenge that was hard enough, but not too hard considering how much good music there was.
(Citation: “Rolling Stone’s Alt-Rock-A-Rama” by Scott Schinder, in the essay, “Steve Wynn’s System for Rating Classic Records,” from 1996.)
I first read this over 20 years ago and it has really stuck with me, and when I think about all the music I love, I think it does meet the Steve Wynn stress test.
Most music misses one of the first three, depending on genre. My own music fails to be sexy in any context in spite of my own desires, but I do try to emphasize humor and scary themes when possible to make up for this weakness. (Humor and fear are two sides of the same coin.) But I always embody “almost falling apart.” I think that’s my constant state of mind.
I find most modern music humorless. Which is fine, and there are exceptions, obviously, but there is certainly a strain seriousness that has taken hold in music, an idea that the more serious we become, the more pure our art becomes. Often, it follows that this music sounds too perfect, is not really that scary, etc. Once you start ignoring the wealth of human experience in favor of some artificial aesthetic, you start to loose what makes music compelling.
I probably achieve two of these qualities with my best stuff. Maybe once or twice I hit three out of four. But I never hit all four. I think even the most well-intentioned artists have trouble with this balancing act, but my favorite artists usually try – and fail – to do so.
How do you teach someone this equation? More and more of life seems to misunderstand it, and a lot of people seem to want to drain all four of these qualities from all our interactions. I mean, I don’t want everything in life to be scary and sexy and funny at the same time, but to have none of these qualities? That seems wild.
I’m gonna keep trying to make good stuff. Maybe I’ll even start succeeding. If anything, I think this rubric really helps when thinking about what makes good stuff good. And I would also warn against the humorlessness that is creeping into our art. I’m not the funniest person, but I’ll keep trying to be for the sake of aesthetics rather than shape something that tries to ignore them.
Here’s my other Portland gig is an early show on a Sunday night is more your speed. I will be playing different sets at every show on the tour, but you can guarantee both sets in PDX will be completely different. Really looking forward to playing with Moth Hunter again.
While not exactly a secret, I can’t sit on this any longer: The first Mini-Mutations vinyl record will be for sale to people while on tour! All of the usual wares will also be available in the Merchanbox, but three new additions will be for sale while out on the Spring tour.
First, a limited edition hand-made lathe-cut vinyl record, “The Fictional Quality of Money EP” contains four Mini-Mutations studio recordings. Unavailable digitally, and packed with other goodies unique to this release. These will be available first come, first served, so please, come to the show and pick up this unique item!
Next, we have a new tour CD, “On-Air.” This disc contains live radio performances available for the first time on disc. The CD contains tracks not available digitally, and the digital version contains tracks not on the CD. Join Mini-Mutations on some new live adventures, “On-Air.”
And, of course, copies of the brand-new zine, “Does it Make A Sound?” will also be for purchase, offering you a chance to retreat into the written word when you want a break from everyday life.
I’m quite proud of these releases, and I think you’ll like them. But if you want one of these, you will need to act fast. Supplies are, absolutely, limited.
“I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump–I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough—until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad.” – My bullies from School, now ruling our country.
I’m trying to figure out how to Maximize my Manafort, so to speak. Less than eight years seems doable if there’s a library, and I have no record of any kind. I’m just trying to figure out how to get the most bang for my buck. Can I rent out my privilege for a good cause? What crime should I commit to make it all worth it?
Corvallis Friends: I’m coming into your town to help with some shows on March 29th and 30th, and I’m looking for a place that I could stay the night on the evening of the 29th. It would be me, my gear, and possibly my wife. I’m also hoping to rely on the kindness of strangers. What do ya’ll say? Can you help a noise guy out?
Friends: This Sunday Marla is unveiling her new DJ Persona at the Graveyard Bar for Service Industry Night. Servers, bartenders, dancers get discounts, and there will be Synth Pop & Industrial jams for you to dance the night away. This will prove to be the afterparty this world desperately needs, so come on down! This will be a lot of fun.
While the rule certainly applies to 9-Year Olds who are trying to negotiate for more TV time, in general, once someone starts arguing that they are “technically right,” you can almost guarantee they are not arguing in good faith.
Vinyl Record and Design Nerds: What are some of your favorite labels you see on Records? I’ve come to really love the simplicity of the “Dot” Records label design, which evokes an era, and you can be fairly certain when you see that design that you know the quality of the content within. What kind of design evokes simplicity and quality when you see it?
Aside from writing, radio, and working in a bookstore (jobs that I loved beyond anything else and only held briefly), I’ve never enjoyed any job I could actually get. I’ve never been lucky enough to have a job that was enjoyable or fun. Or, even, where I was treated well. I think of the shitholes I worked at with awful staff and employers, and I realize most of my life was spent around awful people.
More than anything, I wish I could do something that is enjoyable and where I don’t work with awful people. But instead I do things that I would already do anyway for fun, and I don’t get paid to do them. That’s not exactly fulfilling, or good for my income, it’s just passing the time while you are endlessly stressed out.
A couple of things I noticed in reflecting on my capitalism post:
1.) More people than I thought don’t seem to mind. I assumed that most people are like me: they live under it, but they would immediately have a few things to say about the teacher who wasn’t in the room for a few minutes (which is how I tend to see FB). Who has more power in ANY relationship than the almighty dollar? As a writer we analyze power dynamics, and I wrongly assumed that any kind of expression of disliking this power dynamic would be the “punch up” that would be easy to support in a situation that seems to need much, much more criticism and thought than it regularly gets. It is certainly food for thought to realize how off base that assumption was.
2.) There is a bit of a Young / Old and Weirdo / Not divide (with a couple exceptions) across the Anti / Pro capitalism story that seems far too predictable to my mind. I think more of you are bots than I originally realized, too, which I also need to reflect on.
“The inaccuracy of language is, in the end, its biggest boon. Because we can only speak in metaphor and analogy, and because all text implies a narrator, we have at our disposal a beautiful tool with which, vague and intricately structured stories can be drawn. It is a mistake to look for precision and 1 to 1 relationships, and a misunderstanding of what language is to value ‘what happened’ over ‘what does it mean.’ All utterances are metaphor, all texts are to be read against the grain, and it is an insult to meaning to assume it is anything more than an attempt to paint, even inelegantly, a picture in your mind.”
I realize that I have a really bad relationship with capitalism. I feel personally angry about living under this kind of world. I immediately resent / find myself angry with people who have wealth, I get stressed out when people are affected by loosing money, I panic thinking about having to depend on cash for everything. I feel so angry about the entire idea of money sometimes that I feel like I need to go for a walk or I will burst.
I don’t know why I feel like this. I can’t pinpoint a specific incident or experience that has led me here. I can think of plenty of times that money was the difference between a worse or better life than the life I have. I also realize millions of people have it 100 times worse, so why does it bother me so much? I look at homeless people and it drives me nuts. I think about financial inequities and I want to scream. What is it about this that wells up in me this animosity and anger?
I can not deny that I would have made hundreds of different decisions if I had more and/or less money. But I think I have a special frustration with the powerlessness that being too poor genuinely places on people, and how rarely people who aren’t poor don’t understand that powerlessness. I have nearly endless access to anything with cash. But I can think of hundreds of people who are genuinely powerless because of their low income, and that idea horrifies me.
I know I do my best to play along and try to make money like everyone else. And I pretend this doesn’t bother me. But it feels like some kind of failing on my part that I can’t make a living doing anything I’m good at, and the emphasis and value that the world places on what job you have only makes me feel worse.
Every public interaction seems to devolve to “work talk” sooner or later. Everyone wants to know how you make money, and every answer is scrutinized and judged once your profession is known. Why? Why is this so important? Why is my value so much more if I have a job that means something?
Why aren’t more people angry about money? It seems strange that we all just muddle through life and accept capitalism, in spite of all the lives it destroys. How can anyone accept it, stand it, live with it?
I’m assembling packages today for folks in Iowa, California, Texas, Montana and Oregon, and I would love to put one together for you. ‘Zines, CDs and tapes, Mail Art, as well as other bits and bobs. Postage is costly, so help keep this going if you can!
Slow morning here, so I’m enjoying my Speed Pigs / Vendetta / Major Hex bootlegs I made from shows I went to the last couple weeks. Shhhhh. Don’t tell them. Don’t want to get in trouble. (But I might let you hear them if you’re nice?)
Well, shit dawg, the show last night at the new Graveyard Bar was hella dope. The bar hit maximum capacity really early, and there was a line clear through to the end of Sadgasm’s set. I have a feeling that place will do alright for itself. The show was ridiculous. Speed Pigs are infusing Turbonegro and Nebula into a down-home garage punk that feels like it was made in a bathtub in a trailer park. (And that’s a good thing.) Vendetta (from PDX) were a tremendous minimalist three piece post-punk act that was relentlessly anti-Trump in a way that was completely satisfying. I wanted three albums of this band after the show, and had to settle for a t-shirt. And the sad boys of Sadgasm made Salem cry with joy over a cool new venue. Let’s see a ton of shows like this. A bar I can walk to is 100% something I can learn to live with.
With all the horrors of modern life constantly vying for our attention, there is a need in this world for something they can rally behind. A cause that is both meaningful and engages you in ways that you didn’t know you needed.
To that end we suggest that, perhaps, you want to put that energy into supporting one of the last DIY operations based out of Earth 2. “Does it Make A Sound?” is the newest installment of a series of ‘zines dating back to 1993, and will hopefully answer all remaining questions posed in the last two issues, while causing new and exciting questions to pop up that are, upon reflection, sort of the same ones, just posed differently. (Lost’s influence continues to rear its ugly head.)
This collection comes with a digital soundtrack of audio submissions and live radio recordings. A digital .pdf is also included, offering our cyber friends on The Inter-Web-A-Tron a chance to enjoy this assemblage, too.
The centerpiece of this issue is a short story by Lisa Ann Midori Hight, which was a thrill to receive as a submission and is a thrill to bring to you. But there is also a comic jam by Xeres (Robert Shepard), Elizabeth Rieman & Cornpuff, a recipe by Stella Star, and music by Jeremy Hight, Bob Bucko Jr, Paco Jones, Eric Hausmann Music, Blake DeGraw, Just Kitten (RIP), and so much more. Many of these recordings were made live on Mid-Valley Mutations, and are a great way to enjoy audio while you consume the visual treats in this publications.