# Antagonist - World In Decline
# The Burial - The Winepress
# Filter - The Trouble With Angels
# Iron Maiden - The Final Frontier
# King Of Asgard - Fi'mbulvintr
# Knights Of The Abyss - The Culling Of Wolves
# The Last Felony - Too Many Humans
# Miss May I - Monument
# Orbs - Asleep Next To Science
# Return To Earth - Automata
# Slayer - Live Intrusion (DVD) (Reissue)
# Slayer - Still Reigning (DVD) (Reissue)
# Slayer - War At The Warfield (DVD) (Reissue)
As you can see much of these will suck. About 90% of them i am sure. The Maiden will probably be a nostalgia trip that doesn't quite make it. I loved Maiden until 1986, sometime in the beginning of January they stopped being good Im sure. If one can pinpoint. I like The Last Felony and more Slayer reissues?
August 15, 2010
Sleep have expanded their upcoming “Marijuanaut’s Return” reunion tour plans with a number of shows. The updated schedule now runs as follows:
September 03rd Monticello, NY – All Tomorrow’s Parties
September 04th Los Angeles, CA – FYE Fest
September 05th Englewood, CO – Gothic Theatre
September 06th New York, NY – Brooklyn Masonic Temple (feat. Doomriders, Unearthly Trance)
September 07th Philadelphia, PA – Starlight Ballroom (feat. A Storm Of Light)
September 08th New York, NY – Brooklyn Masonic Temple (feat. A Storm Of Light, Lichens)
September 09th Chicago, IL – Logan Square Auditorium (feat. Lichens)
September 10th Austin, TX – Mohawk (feat. Sub Oslo)
September 11th Portland, OR – Roseland Theater (feat. Scott Kelly, YOB)
September 12th San Francisco, CA – Regency Ballroom (Feat. Thrones)
September 13th San Francisco, CA – Regency Ballroom
The shows will find the band performing their seminal album “Holy Mountain” in its entirety along with selections from “Dopesmoker” and more.
Quiet Riot ended due to the tragic and untimely loss of frontman Kevin DuBrow in 2007, but since then drummer Frankie Banali found himself going through the band's extensive media archives. Most of it has never been seen. The footage is from the band's private reels of full concerts (shot from the side of the stage), interviews, backstage mayhem and even vacations. There's enough footage to make a couple hundred documentary films, but Banali only wants to make one. He's reaching out to fans to help make this happen, too.
"I had people come up to me that wanted to back the project," Banali told Noisecreep, describing the original people interested as representing corporate entities and record labels. "I opted not to do that because there were too many strings attached. They all wanted a documentary made the way they wanted it, because they felt they were funding it."
Banali opted to work with independent director Regina Russell, who recommended to use the website Kickstarter to help get support from the fans. A lot of rare and exclusive gifts go to those who pledge to shrink the funding problem. One fan is already going to have a one-on-one drum clinic with Banali.
"I'm still cataloging all the material, but I want the fans to be proactive and I want to know they want it. Because if they don't, I'll throw a party with 200 of my closest friends at the house and just play reel after reel after reel.
"Viewing all this material has been therapeutic in a way," Banali admitted, his tone and thoughts going to his friend. "Kevin and I knew each other for 28 years and played together for the better part of 27. Watching it has run the gamut of emotions, from hysterical laughing or amazed that something was even caught on film. It's has also been incredibly sad, because I've come to the realization that the only way I can see my friend Kevin now is in [film]. I can't see him or call him or have lunch together."
To those that have and will donate to the project, Banali has been uploading private videos to say thanks. The most recent unearthed clip was of Banali and DuBrow interviewing complete strangers while in a hotel bathroom.
One fan wondered if there was footage of a sole 1986 encore where Quiet Riot covered a Beatles song. Banali soon put it on the site. "I want the fans to feel as good about this as I do."
August 14, 2010
Think of an elephant on propofol, now combine that with some fast grind sludgy punk and overall shitty attitude, and you'll come up with The Jacket. At a time in the mid 90's when there seemed to be a new genre brewing called power violence, Black Army Jacket seemed to be ahead of the game dropping numerous splits and surely leaving their mark. The Jacket is a highly regarded weaponized force that took a hiatus some years ago. I caught up with Carlos Ramirez and had a chat after some pizza and Cormega demos.
I think it's fantastic Black Army Jacket are doing some shows in 2010. It's been awhile since you guys have plugged in and played together. Why now?
Thank you! We’ve been wanting to do some reunion show stuff for the past couple of years, but logistically speaking, it was really a pain in the ass. I live in Los Angeles, Dave in Virginia, and the other 2 guys live in Queens and Long Island. Not to mention Dave’s constant touring with Municipal Waste. It’s not the easiest situation to try and practice and play shows.
So when we realized that the 4 of us could actually make it happen in late August and early September of this year, we jumped at the chance. We’ll be playing on August 19th as part of the Best Friends Day Festival in Richmond, VA. There are some cool acts playing including Negative Approach, Andrew WK, Off With Their Heads, Government Warning, and a lot of other ones. Dave’s also playing with Municipal Waste, and that is always a fantastic live show.
That’s a good question. When Black Army Jacket started, I had only read the term powerviolence in some zine. I wasn’t even sure what it exactly meant. I came more from the metal and hardcore side of things. Once I started hanging more with Andrew from BAJ, he turned me on to bands like No Comment and Man is the Bastard. We came from the East Coast and I don’t remember the scene being that great for powerviolence labeled bands back then. Sure, you had places like Stalag 13 in Philadelphia and ABC No Rio in NYC, but it wasn’t like there was a great local scene of bands or anything.
Once we first started touring the West Coast, realized how popular the sound was. There were so many groups playing the kind of style we were playing. Naturally, the shows were better attended and there was more of a sense of community. That hurts for me to admit since I am such a proud New Yorker. But it’s the truth.
I would say bands like Infest, Napalm Death, SOB, Assuck, and No Comment, had a big impact on the kind of stuff we were writing. Andrew had a great way with riffs, and having Witte on drums for most of our span as a band helped. His blast beats are fucking nuts! My only gripe with Black Army Jacket was our graphics. I don’t think we had that much cool merch and our record covers weren’t that hot. The coolest thing we had was the official logo and flag, which Andrew did from some stencil he had. We’ll have some new merch for the reunion shows that will make up for all that. You gotta see this shit!
You guys toured a bunch when you were still active. What stands out in your mind? We can discuss the Iranian midgets later.
Wow! I don’t remember the Iranian midgets, but that could have been all the malt liquor I was downing on tour. We had some great times on tour. Being part of the Fiesta Grande at Gilman was fresh. We got to play with Slight Slappers and the vatos in Excruciating Terror, plus some other sick bands. I also remember Lino from Hemlock/Villains/Iaborher was at that show for some reason.
I’ve said it before, but my favorite Black Army Jacket show was 1998’s Milwaukee Metalfest. The folks at Relapse Records were nice enough to have us play their stage. I had gone there with my friends Rob, Omer, and Rick, back in 1992. So to go back as a performer 6 years later, was an honor for me. To make it even better, my pals Rob and Omer flew in with us for the festival. I remember Mercyful Fate played that year and I was on 2 hits of ecstasy… it was incredible.
When is your split with Suicide Silence dropping?
Right after our split 10” with Kool G. Rap hits stores.
What’s next for the Jacket?
Just these 2 shows for now. I would love to do a couple of West Coast shows at some point, but I am not holding my breath. Dave’s so busy with Municipal Waste and all of the other projects he plays in. Andrew has 2 kids that keep him busy. Plus there’s that other issue of geography. That said, if they want to do something again, I would be down.
Thanks for the pizza, if you guys get on that Kool G Rap / Half a Mil Tour let me know ..
August 4, 2010
I talked to WITTR during their European tour in January-February 2009, which is promoting the limited-edition picture disc EP Malevolent Grain, released by Conspiracy Records, and the first release to feature the band’s new guitarist Will Lindsay (formerly of doom metal band Middian), who was previously WITTR’s live bass player. WITTR have recently finished recording their third album, Black Cascade, which will be released by Southern Lord during the spring of 2009, prior to an extensive US tour.
Heathen Harvest: Perhaps we should begin by talking about your new album, Black Cascade. When’s that coming out?
Aaron Weaver: Let’s see. I think that it’ll be out around April the 1st, something like that.
HH: Was there any question of not releasing the album through Southern Lord? What’s your relationship with the label like?
AW: We definitely planned on releasing this record through Southern Lord. I believe we’re contractually bound to release the record through Southern Lord, in fact, which is always kind of funny, to have that kind of legal business element combined with the music, it’s always a really tough balance to strike. No, I’ve been really happy about working with them. I think that Greg Anderson who runs that label has a lot of integrity, and he’s really paid his dues in the underground over the years. He grew up around Seattle, and he comes from a kind of punk background, and has then moved on to something else, which is similar to where we’ve come from. I feel really good about it. I think we’ll do this record, and then if we have another record in us that will also be done through Southern Lord, I think.
HH: Who wrote the songs for Black Cascade? Did Will Lindsay have much influence?
AW: Well, Will just joined the band. Our other guitar player just had a baby, and I don’t think he likes touring very much, and so he departed. Will had been playing bass for us, just as our touring bass player, but he’s a really old friend. Nathan and I have known Will for about 12 years or so. He’s from Eugene, Oregon, where he put on a lot of shows. He’s from a really deep underground kind of background. It’s been great having him in the band, and yeah, he contributed. A lot of the record was already written by the time he joined, but he definitely contributed a certain amount. He gave his own energy and vibe to it. You can’t play guitar on a record and not leave some sort of imprint. As far as songwriting goes, me and Nathan and Will split it up to some degree. I play drums, but I’ll play a bit of guitar too and come up with themes and ideas.
HH: Are there any guest musicians or vocalists, like Jessika Kenney on Two Hunters, for instance?
AW: The plan was that Jamie Myers, who did all of the backing vocals on Diadem Of 12 Stars, flew out and laid some stuff down, but none of it made it onto the record. You know, you always have a pretty strong idea of what the record is going to sound like when you go to record, but then when you really get deep into it, it kind of becomes its own thing, and takes on a life and an energy of its own, And we all decided, I think Jamie suggested it, she said, ‘You know, I don’t think these parts are really working, I think this record is too bleak and aggressive-sounding,’ and it just didn’t fit. We didn’t want to force something on there. I’m trying to think if anyone else actually played on the record. Randal Dunn, who recorded it, every now and then would do a little synthesiser, but for the most part it was me and Nathan and Will. Will played all of the bass guitar.
HH: Do you think your music changed has much since Two Hunters, or is it recognisably the same band?
HH: Yeah, what can you tell me about the way the album was recorded? It sounds like Randall Dunn had a lot of input, as far as using retro recording technology goes.
AW: Yes, that’s very true. He’s a real analogue purist, and we recorded Black Cascade in quite a fancy studio on a 1973 Neve console with a two-inch tape machine. I think using that kind of equipment also dovetails with the idea of doing something that’s really powerful and with a lot of authority to it. It has that sort of rock’n’roll kind of energy. I have mixed feelings about that kind of rock’n’roll, I can go either way with Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath or that kind of thing, but there is a certain undeniable kind of legitimacy and power to that kind of music, and I think using that kind of equipment brings that kind of energy to it. Once we had the basic tracks done at this fancy studio, we went to Randall’s house, where he has a home studio, and we did all the overdubs and vocals and synthesiser, all the layered psychedelic elements. And Randall always contributes ideas, I think he really understands where we’re coming from. He’s lived in the northwest for a long time, and I think he really understands the attitude that we’re trying to manifest. So he’s a really good partner, not just in terms of the technical side of things, but also in terms of the more spiritual side.
HH: WITTR are obviously well known for environmental awareness and your interest in ecological issues, and I want to talk a lot more about that later, but I was wondering how your respect for nature influences your sound. Does that mean that you strive for a ‘natural’ sound, or is it not that simple an equation?
AW: Definitely not. Someone wrote somewhere that we recorded Two Hunters in a completely analogue format because we think that’s somehow a more natural process. I couldn’t disagree more! I think that recording on any sort of format, whether analogue or digital, is a very unnatural sort of act. As soon as you capture a moment in time, it’s no longer natural or organic or immediate or unmediated. It’s become something else entirely. It’s become a very modern thing. And that’s a contradiction to our philosophy, of course, but I’m fine with that contradiction. Life is all about making compromises and trying to do things that feel right at the time. There are a lot of people that would say that it’s wrong to record something. A legitimate case can be made that it damages the spirit in some way. But for our band – you know, we’re a rock band, in most ways, and we work within the rock idiom. We’ve chose a certain set of tools and a certain way of doing things. So I feel fine about that, but I definitely do not think that recording on tape as opposed to digital lends any more spiritual legitimacy to the music.
HH: What about formats? You’ve just done a couple of vinyl releases – is that your preferred format, or are you not really interested in that?
AW: As far as CD versus vinyl?
HH: And versus mp3, for instance. Surely purely digital releases would be more environmentally friendly?
AW: Our music’s available in all of those formats, and it’s not really something I think about too much. I’ve never really thought about how people are going to listen to the music, necessarily. I’m not a vinyl fetishist at all, and I don’t even own a CD player. I had a record player for a long time, but it’s kind of dusty and long-forgotten now, and the needle’s broken. I tend to listen to stuff on digital format. I download things off the internet, I rarely buy things. But also, most of the music I listen to comes from a pretty immediate circle of friends and musicians who aren’t interested in anything commercial at all. Almost everything I’ve listened to recently that’s newer music is something that would be released on a CD-R, for instance.
HH: Is there an overarching theme or concept to Black Cascade, as there was for Two Hunters?
AW: Yeah, there is. In many ways, it’s a personal record. I think that usually our music and the themes behind it are working on a more mythic level, and are about something bigger than oneself, but Nathan wrote all the lyrics for Black Cascade. There are four songs. The first song is called ‘Wanderer Above The Sea Of Fog’, after the famous Romantic painting by Caspar David Friedrich, the second is called ‘Amonic Trance’, as in Amon the deity, the third is ‘Ex Cathedra’, and the last song is ‘Crystal Ammunition’. Each song corresponds to a different card in the Tarot deck and represents a different archetype, but the lyrics, even though they’re pretty obscure and esoteric, are more about our personal experiences in the world, just trying to make a life, and find a path that feels right and brings wholeness.
HH: Does the word ‘Cascade’ refer to the Cascade Mountains?
AW: Partially. Black Cascade has a lot of different meanings, but we can’t help but reference the Cascade Mountains, which are so important to us. We have a pretty intense art scheme for this record, and we went to the Cascades and spent a couple of days camping and taking photographs, which is the best way for us to create images, because none of us can paint.
HH: Are you worried about people getting the album confused with Black Parade by My Chemical Romance?
AW: [laughs] I never heard My Chemical Romance, and I didn’t know they had an album called Black Parade. I think and I hope that the two albums will not be confused!
HH: Moving on to your current tour, how’s it been going? Have you been visiting any new territories?
AW: We have indeed. Europe is always really interesting, mostly because of the hospitality you receive, which is so different from what it’s like to tour in the United States. It started off a bit rough. Travelling is always an unnatural kind of act, and flying on a plane especially so, and so we were karmically punished by the universe.
HH: Oh yes, you lost all your guitars, didn’t you?
AW: The flight for Seattle to Chicago was delayed, due to weather or something, so we missed our flight from Chicago to Amsterdam, and we had to beg and plead in order for them to put us on a flight that would get us to our first show in time. And so we got to our first show, which was at Groningen in Holland, but our bags didn’t make it. None of our clothing, our personal items, guitars, cymbals, everything that we checked in, eight bags, were all gone. So that was a stressful way to begin the tour. That’s one of my issues with touring, that so much of it is about the kind of technical, mundane side of things. So you’re worried about getting to soundcheck on time or whatever. Oftentimes, that kind of stuff has the potential to affect the energy that you put into the performance. I think on this tour, that hasn’t been a problem, but it has in the past, especially in the States, where you’re often playing in a bar or something like that, and the aesthetic of the place isn’t so conducive to the things we want to manifest.
HH: Where do WITTR have a big following?
AW: In the States or in Europe?
HH: Around Europe – where do you get the most attention?
AW: Honestly, I think all the shows have been fantastic. If a hundred people will come to see us in any random place in Europe, that seems to me to be an amazing response, and it makes us feel really good. Our biggest show so far was in London, of course, because that’s a big city, and in general I’m really surprised by the kind of diversity of the audience, especially in the smaller towns, where it’s an all black metal crowd, it’s 100% European black metal audience, which is a little bit different in the cites, where you might have some of the kind of people who’d go to a Sunn O))) concert or something like that. But I’m always pleased that we’re so readily accepted by the European black metal community or scene.
HH: Is it difficult fitting touring, recording and the other demands of being in a band around your farming work? Do you, for instance, have to adjust your touring schedule to fit in with the agricultural calendar?
AW: Yeah, for sure. To clarify, Nathan doesn’t have anything to do with the actual farming side of things. We live in this compound or commune together, but he’s more of an artist, and he is completely nocturnal when we’re at home. I think we kind of balance each other in that way. My girlfriend is the actual farmer in the family, though I work with her a lot, and I do the man’s work, I suppose you’d say. I’m in the middle of building a barn right now. There’s so much more to farming than just sowing seeds and collecting the harvest in the fall. It’s more of a homesteading lifestyle that we’re creating. And it is difficult to be gone for such a long period of time. But right now, it’s the late winter and there’s not a whole lot going on at home. This is the time when you should be thinking about music and being with one’s friends around the fire, maybe. We’ll be home by the springtime, when the ground thaws and there’ll be some work to be done. I’ll be working on some projects outside. But yes, it’s a challenge.
HH: Do you and Nathan ever get sick of the sight of each other?! I mean, I have a brother, but I wouldn’t share a pair of shoes with him, let alone a band and a farm!
AW: We get along pretty well. I think oftentimes in families, siblings go in very different directions and end up wanting very different things, but we’ve always really been on the same page in terms of what we value and what we want our lives to be like. We’re willing to work as a team for the time being. Certainly, this is not a permanent arrangement. We actually just managed to swindle a bank into lending us the money to buy another piece of land…
HH: Oh, you’re the only guys to get a loan out of a bank in the western world this year!
AW: Actually, it seems like they’re quite desperate to lend money, because they have all this money lying about to lend to someone, so why not to an unemployed metal musician? So in addition to our farm, which is called Calliope, we have another compound with a couple of houses on it and a barn and amazing infrastructure – mature orchard, berries – that’s nested right into a thousand-acre nature preserve, and it’s a five-minute bike ride away from Calliope. It was an amazing stroke of luck. There was a bit of magic involved in the procuring of this piece of land. So in the future, we will each have a separate domain.
HH: Are you planning to involve more people and build a community?
AW: Ownership-wise, we toyed with the idea of a more radical economic situation, but that sort of thing is too complicated, and I’ve seen it fail too many times. We’re very interested in looking back in history, and the hippies did it all, man, they tried everything. And I have a lot of friends who are older hippies, they’re 50 or 60 years old, and I took their advice. When I was 25 and first toying with the idea of buying land with friends and having a communal kind of living situation and trying to make it a long-term thing, their advice was, ‘Shit changes. You’re 25 years old, your friends are 25 years old, people are going to want to do other things and have families and so on, so keep it simple.’
And it’s worked out so well – in each one of our houses, we have perhaps ten friends that live there, so it really is a kind of community unto itself, and I’m really pleased with the way it’s worked out.
HH: So you have these agrarian, communal ideals, but obviously being in a band involves having to engage with the modern world in terms of using technology to produce, record and manufacture music, taking flights to go on tour, maintaining a website and so forth. How do you reconcile this?
AW: It’s just a matter of drawing a line. Everything you do is a compromise of sorts, and I’ve got so many friends who have driven themselves mad by being so ridden with guilt, who are unable to make any decisions at all. There comes a point where either you decide that you need to be an ascetic hermit, and go live by yourself in the woods, which I think is a totally reasonable choice to make, and purists have always made that choice over the years, when they decide that they can’t deal with society on whatever level, and I go back and forth as to whether or not the compromises that we make, especially as a band, are something that I feel good about. But all in all, just talking to people, all over the United States and now in Europe, who seem to really resonate with our music, and it’s meaningful to them, and it’s some sort of positive thing in their lives, that to me is enough reason to put aside any discomfort about commercializing our music to the degree that we do, or taking that international flight, which is hard to justify sometimes. So for the time being, I’m OK with the compromises that we make. We’ll see how long we keep it up.
HH: I’d like to explore some of the philosophy underlying WITTR. What was it that drew you to black metal as a way of expressing ecological awareness? What did you perceive in black metal that made you think it was capable of carrying this kind of message?
AW: That’s such an interesting and important question, because a lot of people, I guess, don’t make the same connections that we do. They see black metal as something Satanic or nihilistic and beyond that, maybe just about drinking with your friends and having this fuck-all kind of time. It’s kind of like punk – I think a band like Watain is no different from GG Allin, for instance. But I’ve always seen something different in it. We come out – me and Nathan and Will too – we all come out of a very specific sort of culture and community on the west coast, which was really kind of a punk scene. And I hesitate to say that, because in Europe, punk means something so different.
The squatter punks here, they’re drawn into that kind of culture, and they’re galvanised around political issues, so their reason for existing is to fuck the pigs, or to get into fights with skinheads or whoever, so it’s a left-wing political thing. But the community we come from is concerned with different issues. It’s not about politics so much as it’s about environmental issues on the surface, but I think there’s also a much deeper analysis that goes on. I think it’s a culture that really questions the most basic tenets of civilisation. So it’s something that’s rooted in anarcho-primitivism, and it’s a more spiritual culture, I think. You know, I talked to crusty punks in Germany, and to them, any idea of spirituality is a right-wing idea. They’re so intensely dogmatic about it. So coming from this culture, why are we drawn to black metal?
Well, I think black metal really is the most important music of our time right now. It really does speak to something so deep and so true and so pressing that you cannot help but be entranced by it. And to me, the reason black metal is important is that it’s an uncompromising call to destroy the modern world. And not just by burning down a church, or by smashing a window or whatever, but to destroy it in a spiritual apocalypse. So it has more to do with destroying the worldview of modernity, destroying the way that it makes you think and the way it makes you perceive the world, and the way that it affects your spiritual being. Black metal expresses in such a clear way to me this ancient, primal, transcendent spirit that I think is lurking just below the surface of all human beings, a kind of spiritual undercurrent to our world and our universe, and I think that modern people are deaf to that.
I think that’s why black metal has become such a worldwide phenomenon, because people crave that connection to that kind of transcendent energy, and I think maybe in the 60s or 70s, people might have touched that through whatever they were into back then, through psychedelic rock music, or through living in communes and the back-to-the-land movement, but man, the hippies failed, you know? And I think there’s this desperate call coming from the universe, or coming from the collective unconscious of humanity, if you will, and black metal is a manifestation of that. So that’s the connection we make between black metal and our ecological concerns, and the questions we have about civilization. It feels like a perfectly natural and necessary connection to make.
HH: The thing is, when you start talking about the callings of the ancient primordial spirit, it’s quite a short step from there to some right-wing ideologies, isn’t it? I know that you’re from Olympia, Washington, which, a few years back at least, had a reputation as a stronghold of political correctness and strident left-wing activism. Did you encounter a lot of resistance to the idea of using black metal to promote progressive environmental themes, given that BM is more often associated with reactionary, right-wing attitudes?
AW: Definitely not. No way. In Europe, absolutely – we’ve gotten into big trouble. We’ve had shows cancelled, we’ve had protests, which just blows my mind. I have a lot to say about this, so I’ll try to say it all in order. You know, back home, every crusty punk wears a Burzum patch, and there’s just no conflict in that, there’s no thinking twice about it.
AW: Yes, it does, because in Europe, the history is still so fresh, and it’s still such an issue, that it’s on everyone’s minds all the time, the echoes of World War II and the spectre of some sort of new fascist right-wing movement. But because we’re Americans, six or seven thousand miles away, and we live in this very kind of almost hermetically sealed community, we’re able to look beyond the obvious and surface political viewpoints of Varg Vikernes or whoever. What we’re more interested is this underlying sort of spirit, which I don’t think the actual musician has much to do with. I think that those [Norwegian] black metal bands were just fucked-up kids on speed. They were the same kind of people who, given different circumstances, would have been into GG Allin, if they’d lived in New York in the 80s. The thing that we’re interested in is some sort of ephemeral spirit that I think they were unknowing or unwitting conduits for. I think that all really great bands, especially bands with members who are 17 or 18 years old, they’re following the orders of the universe. And because in America, we’re so far removed from World War II, culturally and historically, we’re able to see that much more easily than Europeans are. So that’s the first thing I’ll say.
The second thing is that WITTR was protested in Germany as a neo-Nazi band. We had shows cancelled, crusty punks were angry, it was quite a big deal, and it came as an absolutely insane shock to me, because I think we’re the only band who works within this genre who are explicitly, not exactly a left-wing band, because I don’t think we have any political agenda at all, but you know, in interviews, I must have said 50 times that I hate the idea of racism, I hate the idea of a fascist, totalitarian, militaristic state, I hate the right wing. I just do not like the right wing. I have absolutely nothing to do with it philosophically or spiritually, and that goes for the American right wing, and what I perceive to be the right wing in Europe, and the right wing throughout history. I don’t have much interest in the left wing either, but it was just insane to be branded as a fascist band. Do you know why this happened, did you hear the story?
HH: No, please tell me about it.
AW: So what happened was I did an interview for a German magazine, and the interviewer asked, ‘Well, if there’s a political spectrum, and on one side you have Drudkh, which is a radical conservative, nationalist kind of band, and they have skinheads at their shows, this sort of thing, and on the other hand, you have a left-wing squatter punk band, where do you fall in that spectrum?’ And I said, well, we’re not a political band, but we definitely come more from a punk kind of background, and we’re not interested in right-wing kind of stuff at all, I’m against racism, I’m against totalitarianism, the whole litany of things that you say in interviews so that you don’t have crusty punks trying to kick your head in or whatever. Because people are so stupid, and they take things out of context, so I’ve got in the habit of making this list, so that it’s just as clear as day to these left-wing nutjobs. But, I said, and here’s where you get into trouble, especially in Germany, the right wing has co-opted a lot of really important and good things – like heathen spirituality, and in Europe I know that radical environmentalism has a right-wing tinge to it sometimes. And I said that’s totally unfair and uncalled-for and there’s no reason why this need to be the case. And so someone takes that sentence ‘The right wing has co-opted some good ideas’, takes out the word ‘co-opted’, put it out on the internet, and creates a huge sort of frenzy about the whole thing. This is totally ridiculous, and it made me lose a huge amount of respect for Germans in general, really, because no-one was willing to say ‘Listen, this is ridiculous’, because they would be the next one in line.
HH: They take their culture wars very, very seriously in Germany.
AW: And at the same time I understand. I mean, the Holocaust and World War II is a huge issue to deal with as a people, and they’re clearly trying to work it out, and I don’t think they’re doing a very good job, because of the fact that they can’t even discuss it, and the fact that there’s just no room for having a conversation. That’s just not going to work. You can’t just sweep things under the rug like that.
HH: Do you perceive your core audience to be within the black metal scene, however much you feel separate from most BM bands, or are you attracting fans from other areas – people who are maybe not at all into black metal in general, but who approve of your ideology, for instance?
AW: There’s certainly more diversity in the audience than I think there would be at a show that’s more explicitly part of the black metal scene. We don’t necessarily call ourselves a black metal band. I think that black metal’s very much a European thing, and at this point it’s become very, very dogmatic. When we play with European BM bands, it’s very obvious that it’s a scene. There’s cool people in the scene, and this band is popular, and it’s all about friends, and hanging out, and it’s really no different than any other kind of punk scene or metal scene. And then those bands seem to be only interested in each other’s bands and going to each other’s shows. So yeah, I do think that WITTR does attract a wider kind of audience. I can’t necessarily say who those people are, but just to kind of look at people and stereotype them, I could say, oh, that person is clearly not a black metal kind of person, on a superficial level. I don’t know, though – we’re new to Europe, and you don’t really get the opportunity to talk that much to people in depth, which is sad for me. So I don’t really know who our fans are, and I don’t necessarily understand what their motivations are.
HH: Do you think your music is always going to have its roots in black metal, or could you imagine say, doing an acoustic folk album like Drudkh did?
AW: Yeah, we’ve talked about this as a band, and I think that if we ever wanted to do something that was radically different, we’d do it under a different name, or as a different band. I think this band has a very specific sound that we’re interested in, and a very specific sort of spirit, and we’ll continue to explore the same kind of ideas and the same sort of sounds that are used to convey those ideas for at least another record, I think we have that much in us, and after that, we’ll see. But no, I’m not interested in radically changing our sound. I’d rather do that as a different group.
HH: I was wondering if there was a specifically heathen or pagan aspect to WITTR? We’ve talked about spirit a lot, and you mentioned Tarot cards, but are you pagans?
AW: That’s a very interesting question, and again one I think that has a lot to do with the fact of where we come from, because we’re Americans. No, I don’t consider our stuff as heathen or pagan, because I think that is, especially in Europe, a very specific thing. As I understand it, heathenism is an attempt to re-create or reawaken a very specific heathen tradition, re-creating rituals as best as one can from the ancient epics that have survived, going to the places that were holy to one’s heathen ancestors, and for Americans that’s not possible. And also, I don’t know if that’s something that we should be trying to do. Here’s my thing about heathenism. My belief is that any sort of local tradition, any local holy place or holy symbol, is a local manifestation of a transcendent idea. So for me, the Thor’s hammer is not important, but it’s the idea that’s maybe lurking behind it. I think that the Thor’s hammer is a European manifestation, but I think that the thing it represents is not only available to Europeans. Nathan has a Thor’s hammer tattoo on his arm, so I think he’s maybe more interested in heathenism than I am.
I do believe that every place has its own kind of spirit, and every culture has its own spirit, but part of me thinks that there’s no reason that one can’t evolve. I’m not interested in the idea of trying to reclaim something from the past, and again, this is because I’m an American, and we don’t have a past, necessarily. It feels much more honest and natural to me to seek transcendence in the natural world, in a more unmediated kind of way. It’s never been important to me to have ancient symbols involved in that spiritual practice. To me, it’s enough to go into the woods with the intention of communicating with some higher power, and it will communicate with you. There’s no need to do some kind of Wiccan ritual, with this incantation and this cauldron and this dagger, or whatever. I think that it’s accessible to all people.
HH: What about the Cascadian music scene in general? There seem to be quite a lot of bands from that area who share your forest-focused concerns and outlook, for example Fauna, Ruhr Hunter, Blood Of The Black Owl, A Minority Of One, In Gowan Ring, and Waldteufel. What is it about Cascadia which has inspired you and these other bands?
AW: I think all of those people come out of, or at least are influenced by that Cascadian underground culture which questions modern civilisation, and when you begin to question civilisation, you say, well, what do we replace it with? And that creates a conversation among peers that I think has come to the conclusion that there needs to be some sort of reawakening of an ancient spirit, a pagan spirit, a heathen spirit, however you want to put it, and I think that’s the philosophical stew that all these groups are emerging out of. I think that’s one thing.
Another thing is that there’s a strong contrarian culture in the northwest. A lot of those back-to-the-land hippies that I mentioned earlier set up a lot of institutions, whether they’re communes, or a magic shop, or a heathen group, or just being an older person in town who has really interesting ideas, and who’s been through it all before. I think that can’t help but start to create a culture that has a synergistic effect. And then more and more people move there who are interested in these sort of things, and talk to other people, and meet this older person who moved there in 1971 and became interested in heathenism, and has these stories to tell and wisdom to share. It just becomes a centre, you know? So that’s the second thing.
A third thing is that really is a very special spirit to Cascadia that is undeniable. I guess that every place has a spiritual reality to it, and has a mirror of the physical realm in the otherworld, which is right behind the veil, which is just right here, beyond where we’re sitting, and the energy in Cascadia really resonates with the energy that’s in black metal, perhaps just because the flora and fauna is the same [as northern Europe], or because the weather is the same. So I think all these people – In Gowan Ring, Waldteufel, ourselves, Fauna – are drawn to these northern European metal or folk music cultures to express our own culture.
HH: Do you have much contact with other Cascadian bands? Do you feel part of a specific Cascadian scene?
AW: Well, I suppose so. There is a pretty tight-knit community, and I think our band is included in that. Certainly, we are as people. We’re very good friends with Fauna. One of the members of Fauna lives at our farm, and I’ve performed with them over the years, playing drums. We’ve always worked together, manifesting different rituals and different sorts of events. Nathan, for the last five or six years, has run a music space in Olympia, which is one of the places where these Cascadian artists perform. So we do work together. We and Fauna work together especially closely. We know Chet [Scott] from Ruhr Hunter really well, of course. I don’t know Markus Wolff [Waldteufel] that well. He lives in Portland, and I’ve only met him a few times. But there are a few yearly events that are becoming local rituals, which are kind of the heart and souls of these Cascadian artists that you listed. There’s a festival called the Autonomous Mutant Festival, which takes place somewhere in Cascadia every summer, usually around the summer solstice, and that’s the kind of thing that began as more of a rave culture thing. A lot of Oakland crews began this tradition, but at the same time, it’s influenced by that kind of Earth First tree-sitting protest culture as well. I think that over the past six or seven years, it’s really become a place of the emerging black metal-influenced culture, so it’s five or six hundred people who are all on the same page, who are all interested in the same kind of things, who are all coming from this Earth First, punk background, but who have moved beyond that kind of simplistic worldview, and are now into exploring all these other things, through music and ritual. So that’s a very important event. And then in Olympia, for the last four years, the two members of Fauna and one of their partners have been holding a winter solstice ritual that all of the bands you mentioned would play at. But it’s not a concert, it’s a ritual and a community gathering. It’s wrong to perceive those musicians as rock bands, you know, they’re definitely trying to get at something deeper.
I think that WITTR is different from Fauna, though, in a lot of ways, but mostly because we said to ourselves, well, we want this music to be accessible on a larger level. We think it’s valuable enough to want to share this with a greater community.
HH: You play the music industry game a lot more than they do.
AW: Absolutely. They recently released their music on a record label, Aurora Borealis, which really surprised me, because we’ve fought over the years. We’re really good friends, but we also disagree, as all good friends do, and they would say, well, it’s wrong to go on tour, it would be wrong to release your record on Southern Lord, because you’re compromising your spirit too much, you’re making this music accessible to people who don’t understand it, and who don’t want to seriously take part in the culture. And I disagree with that. I think that what Fauna are doing is amazing, and I’m glad that they’re doing it in the way that they do, but at the same time, they give an amazing, soul-wrenching, transformative performance, and there’s like five people there. And so, who are you touching? How are you transforming the world when only five people are aware of what you’re doing? So that’s exactly what I was saying earlier, when we first started the interview, that one has to make that compromise.
HH: How do you think what’s going on in Cascadia at the moment relates to earlier scenes associated with the area, like for instance the Seattle grunge scene of the late 80s and early 90s and the K Records, Kill Rock Stars and Riot Grrrl stuff that followed in its wake?
AW: Well, that’s Olympia.
HH: Well, the Seattle scene and Olympia.
AW: As a resident, I would make a very clear and stark distinction between the Olympia and Seattle scenes.
HH: Tell me.
AW: At the same time, there were two different things going on. There was the Seattle scene, which was Alice In Chains, Sub Pop Records, and that sort of thing. Olympia had K Records and Kill Rock Stars. And they had two very, very different worldviews. Nirvana kind of bridged the gap.
HH: Yeah, because Kurt Cobain was really into K Records and lived in Olympia, but went to Seattle.
AW: And I think was kind of cast out of Olympia for that reason. The Olympia and Seattle scenes really had nothing in common. I grew up in Olympia, and grew up in that scene in many ways, although always from the outside, because Nathan and I were always metalheads first and foremost. But I never went to shows in Seattle, and I was never interested in bands from Seattle, I was only interested in bands from Olympia. I guess I’ve always had a really strong native pride. But I think that growing up in that punk scene really affected us a lot. You described it earlier as a kind of left-wing scene, and I guess that’s true when you think about it, but to me the politics take such a backseat to the idea of putting aside mainstream culture and mainstream society and just forgetting about it, just trying to create your own world and your own community with your own value system. That’s what’s really, really important. To have your own economy – for the most part, I don’t take part in the mainstream economy. Everything that I really have to purchase can come from our own farm, or from friends, or from people who can make clothing. It’s just growing and growing, that sort of autonomous economy and culture. And even though Riot Grrrl or whatever isn’t necessarily my cup of tea, those people who were deeply involved in that kind of feminist politics perhaps ten years ago are now interested in farming or whatever. I think that political fervour of one’s youth kind of washes away, and it becomes more about creating an autonomous local culture and not having to deal with the insanity that is going on in the rest of the world.
HH: Is WITTR the ultimate expression of your ideas, or is it a vehicle that serves to relay your message for now? Do you envisage a time when WITTR is gone and you’re doing other things – writing books, say?
AW: Well, I’d never write a book, because I can barely speak, or read, for that matter!
HH: What I’m really wondering about it whether the message is more important than the medium, or not.
AW: Yeah, I think so, for sure. I understand what you mean. WITTR is an expression of what we want, what we want the universe to give to us. You know, when you go to a village that survived the wars and you look at it and you see how it fits together so perfectly, and it’s an expression of this coherent culture that’s beautiful and harmonious and I think expresses the transcendent in some way. Do you know the architect Christopher Alexander?
HH: Finally, do you have any advice for WITTR fans who are interested in changing their lifestyles to live more sustainably? It’s not possible for everyone to have a smallholding in Washington, but what can everybody do?
AW: I absolutely cannot comment on that at all. I’m really wary of the idea that some people perceive us as sitting on some sort of high horse, saying, well you should get it together, move out of the city and have a small homestead, and have a beautiful wife that makes cheese, and has artisan apple trees or whatever. That’s just not an option for people, and so everyone has to find their own path. I’m blessed and lucky, and it has everything to do with where we live, in America, which has everything to do with committing genocide against the native people, which has given us the space to spread out and do our own thing, maaan. And I’m deeply conflicted about that. I’m conflicted about everything in my life. So no, I would be totally unwilling to suggest anything to anyone.
HH: Are you optimistic that President Obama will take environmental issues more seriously than George Bush ever did?
AW: No, not really. It’s an interesting question, because someone asked me in Germany, ‘Well, how can you not be interested in politics? You’re interested in ancient forests not being cut down, and that’s a political issue, isn’t it? Someone passes a law that says the government can sell these trees to a big logging company and they get cut down. It’s cause and effect, right?’ And I said, no, it’s not cause and effect. The political issue is nothing but an echo of a greater spiritual war that’s going on, and who the president is, I’m just not interested, really. I voted for Obama, I’m not afraid to admit that. I vote every year, especially on local issues, but no, I don’t think it’s some sort of great hopeful thing, I don’t think the world is going to change. I don’t know how hopeful I am about the world. I feel a looming sense of apocalypse, and we’ll see what happens.
HH: But then you’re involved in all these constructive projects. Why aren’t you just nihilistic?
AW: Because I think that just because one is going to fail doesn’t mean that one ought not to do it. I’m very interested in being an honourable and ethical person, and I think that honour is a transcendent idea. That’s something that I’m really interested in about heathenism, that sort of ancient, transcendent ethical code. I’m disgusted by nihilism. I think it’s a cowardly and lazy way to wreck one’s life. And also, I think that one can be a nihilist, believe that life has no intrinsic meaning, and yet still be devoted to creating beauty in the world. I have a lot more I could say about that, but I think I’ll just leave it at that.
This is your lucky day because, Paul Stanley of KISS answers fans questions.
"I'm not sure that when Kiss plays its last show, I'll be playing." - Paul Stanley
The following was conducted using fan-submitted questions at Washburn.com.
Some of the highlights are included below:
Fans Questions = Q:
Paul Stanley = A:
Q: What ever happened to that awesome Rhinestone Flying V that you used on the Rock and Roll Over Tour?
A: I still have that guitar and its brand spanking new grandson is onstage with me every night on the Sonic Boom Over Europe tour.
Q: We've never seen you play a Fender. Do you have any specific likes/dislikes about them?
A: I have a couple of terrific Stratocasters and although I love playing them, they are not part of what I do or the school that I come from, but in the right hands, they are understandably one of the true icons of rock 'n roll.
Q: Do you ever sell and/or intend to sell some of the guitars in your personal collection?
A: I have in the past sold quite a few of my guitars and the ones that I have retained are ones that are connected to me both sonically and emotionally and have a much deeper personal value to me.
Q: Do you have any tips on how I can improve my singing technique?
A: It's always important to support your voice from your torso and diaphragm and keep it out of your throat. Too many aspiring singers shred their throats thinking you can squeeze notes out of it. You can't. The more you can incorporate your head tone, supporting it with your diaphragm and chest, the more you'll avoid wrecking your throat!
Q: Do you do anything special to keep the wear and tear on your guitars to a minimum?
A: Nothing. Like women and many other things in life, a lot of things look better from a distance than up close. My guitars take a beating on tour.
Q: What advice would you give to your son Evan about playing guitar and making music?
A: My son is a phenomenal guitar player and my only advice to him early on was to dig as deeply into the roots of what he loves and discover where it all started, rather than being consumed with copying the current guitar hero per se. I made that point to him by reminding him that Jimi Hendrix didn't start by playing Purple Haze.
Q: For the Sonic Boom Over Europe tour, will you play some medleys like you did in 2001 in Australia???
A: There are no medleys in the current show, but I think that this is by far our best show and set list to date.
Q: When will KISS be coming to my town?
A: Keep checking the Kiss website. We will be announcing US shows probably within the next few weeks. We are in the midst of our European Sonic Boom Over Europe Tour and have decided that we're having too much fun to stop.
Q: My question concerns the BEST BALLAD KISS ever recorded. Why was �Nothing Can Keep Me From You� not released as a single? It is much better than Aerosmith's �I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing�. I feel you were robbed of a #1 single.
A: I believe it actually was, and sometimes the resistance we've met at radio has made airplay impossible, but ultimately, you all listen to what you choose.
Q: There has been some KISS tablature published throughout the years. Does KISS give the companies the exact tablature?
A: As close as some of them may be, there are obvious subtleties that are missing. The challenge, whenever playing someone else's music is to find the nuances. When you do, you unlock "that door".
Q: What is your songwriting process?
A: With writing, I tend to come up with a musical idea first and then build on that both lyrically and musically. My lyrics tend to come from stream of consciousness and organically what sings over chord changes or a riff and then it's just a matter of filling in the blanks.
Q: What do you think about bootlegs?
A: I think that any time someone steals what isn't theirs; it's criminal and should be dealt with accordingly. Nobody has the right to sell what isn't theirs. Nobody has the right to decide how much your work is worth, what you deserve or what you should get. The whole notion of bootlegs and file sharing is as criminal and ridiculous as me calling stealing your car, sharing transportation. You can't sell what you don't own.
Q: Is it true, that there one day will be an official "KISS The NEXT Generation???
A: The band has never been stronger, had better reviews, bigger turnouts, or had more fun. There is no end in sight and we are proud of where we've been, thrilled with where we are and excited by where we're going.
Q: If KISS were to play their last show, would Ace and Peter play?
A: I'm not sure that when Kiss plays its last show, I'll be playing.
Q: If Eric Carr were still alive, what would be the chances of him still being in the band?
A: That's too hypothetical a question. His loss was a tragedy and it's pointless to hypothesize.
Q: What do you think of Anomaly? And is the reality show with Ace a go?
A: Honestly, I've never heard the whole album. For me, the most important thing is that Ace is alive and hopefully doing what he loves. As far as a reality show, I have no idea what you're talking about.
Q: Is it true that Eddie Van Halen wanted to join KISS and that Eddie Van Halen wrote the guitar solo for Love Gun?
A: I have no knowledge of that being so. No, Van Halen was not a known band at that time, so that would be impossible. The solo was actually based on a solo from a song called "We Ain't Got Nothin� Yet" by the Blues Magoos.
Q: Do you have material for future new album?
A: Yes. We had such a great time making Sonic Boom and it was so easy, effortless and the results were so terrific that there doesn't seem to be much doubt that we will do another.
Q: When can we expect the next studio record?
A: No idea, but I'm sure within the next year or two.
Q: Do you have any plans for releasing more live footage DVDs?
A: There is a Kissology 4 in the works.
Q: What are your future solo plans?
A: I currently have no solo plans; when KISS is firing on all cylinders, that's good enough for me.
August 2, 2010
Glen E. Friedman is a 31-year-old photographer with mussy, dark brown surfer hair and beach-weekend stubble on his chin. He wears a baggy blue t-shirt and loose khakis, black Jack Purcells. On his left wrist there is a silver band, bright against his tan, and on his right he wears a number of black rubber bracelets. Friedman follows a strict vegan diet and, perhaps as a result, his eyes are piercing; as dark and bright as polished onyx. See him on the street, you'd take the guy for the aging skateboarder he is. Hear him talk and it takes only a few syllables to dope out that he's lived in California for a good part of his life.
Friedman's first book, Fuck You Heroes, will be available in early September, in both New York and L.A.; distribution to the rest of the country starts in November. Fuck You Heroes compiles photographs Friedman took between 1976 and 1991, of skateboarders, hardcore punks and rappers. He's publishing the book himself, through a company called Burning Flags Press, because, as he says in his preface, most publishers he talked to didn't think that people interested in skating or hardcore even read books, "let alone come into bookstores."
It's odd how many of the photographs are familiar. Five minutes with the book and I'm counting the number of shots that were on my bedroom wall growing up. Skating pictures I cut out of magazines, mostly in Brooklyn, the summer after fifth grade, there was nothing cooler than the distant and unknowable West L.A. skate scene, but some punk bands as well, and the cover picture from the last Minor Threat EP, which I found, an empty sleeve, at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge one afternoon in high school and put on the wall above my bed. The more recent work, too, is familiar: Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, Ice-T, the Beastie Boys. They're all CD cover shots. They're on my shelves at home.
First picture in the book: Jay Adams, radical skate hero of my 11th summer, tanned nut-brown, with sun-streaked hair and a look of fierce determination. He's on a skateboard that's just barely inside the deep end of an empty pool in Brentwood, at the apex of a run that took him from the shallow end, down into the bowl and up onto vertical concrete, out onto the coping around the pool. The photograph, taken in October, 1976, captures him with his lips pursed, his arms out behind him for balance, his body folded down tight over the skinny wooden board, caught between turning left or right, seemingly miles above the ground and yet below the camera's eye.
Then Tony Alva, in a photo I cut out of one of the skateboard magazines that was on my bedroom wall for two years, in a trashed West Hollywood pool. It's 1977. Alva is crunched up at the lip of the bowl, vertical and moving fast, a bandanna wrapped tight on his head, holding back a mane of frizzy hair, with just his frontside rear wheel touching the coping. He is in the midst of a turn. There's a sneer on his lips and with his right hand wrapped around his bent knee for balance, he's flipping the bird to the camera. He's probably nine feet above the bottom of the pool.
Paging on, I find little Harley Flanagan from the Stimulators, banging on his drum set, shirtless, screaming, 12 years old, at Trax in 1980. Henry Rollins, a guy I always vaguely despised, a gaunt skinhead with just one tattoo, screaming into his mic after joining Black Flag, at a club in Costa Mesa in 1981. Ian MacKaye with Minor Threat, amid the crowd at CB's in 1982, a desperate bunch of punks slamming around him, MacKaye's mouth wide and contorted. A skeletal and manic Jello Biafra in the midst of a Dead Kennedys show, slamming down his mic stand at The Whiskey in 1981. Ice-T in acid-washed jeans and a polyester Adidas t-shirt, cut off at the arms, posing against a chain-link fence off Highway 101, Hollywood, 1986. Run-D.M.C. looking somehow both hard and middle class, under a Hollis Ave. street sign in Queens, 1985.
Hold up, now. Friedman is 31. In 1976, when he took that picture of Adams, he was 13 years old. I ask him about that. "I took photography as an elective in seventh grade," he tells me, laughing. "With a pocket Instamatic. The typing class was really crowded."
Born in North Carolina, but raised in the New York area, Friedman moved to L.A. when he was in third grade and his parents divorced; he spent his childhood in West L.A.: Brentwood, Westwood, Bel Air, Santa Monica, Venice. Among skaters, this area (Dog Town, the skateboard magazines I read as a kid called it) was the epicenter of the world. He got a skateboard, he says, even before his mom found a place to live.
Friedman went to Kenter Canyon public school and Paul Revere Junior High, both, he says, "huge skating schools," and, on the steep playground banks at Kenter where the area kids carved turns after school, got to know the scene. "I was, y'know, an about-average skater," he says. "But the above-average guys? In '75, '76, they were getting into magazines! That was cool, and I really did think, how can I get in there too?"
The photographs Friedman saw in SkateBoarder (at the time the nation's only, and therefore most popular, skateboarding magazine) weren't really capturing what he was seeing. "The photographers were all surfers (that was what was big then) and I really thought I could do better. I got a D in photography, but I was out there every day, with my friends; I figured, let me at least try."
Friedman shot with his Instamatic for a while, got ahold of a 35 mm, lost it, and then borrowed another. In the fall of 1976, Friedman found a new pool where no one had been before and corralled Adams, Alva and a few others into skating it so he could take pictures. Slide film. He'd heard that was important. A few days later, he showed the results to a few of the skaters, and to a freelance Skateboarder writer he met on the Kenter banks, C.R. Stecyk. Stecyk told him to call Warren Bolster, Skateboarder's editor, and then to send him the pictures.
Friedman's calling Skateboarder was a brave act for an eighth-grader; the magazine's niche market was in the process of widening into a chasm; two years later, Skateboarder would claim a national readership of one million. Plus, it was a long-distance call down to the magazine's offices in San Diego, and it struck Friedman as he dialed that this was, you know, kind of a big deal. He hoped that his mom wouldn't get angry about the cost of the call. He hoped Bolster didn't know how young he was. The editor took the call. Friedman made his pre-pubescent voice sound as low as he could, and started dropping the names of some of the established skaters who lived in his neighborhood: Alva, Adams, Paul Constantineau, Stacy Peralta. Friedman told Bolster that he'd been taking pictures of them, in local pools and on banks. Was he interested? Send down the slides, Bolster said, and a small bean of panic set in Friedman's stomach at the idea of trusting his photographs to the mail. "It was really important to me to know what was going to happen to them," he remembers.
Friedman is still like that; he doesn't like to lose track of anything. But back then, he says, photographs "were like autographs. I'd take a picture so that I know I was there, that I captured a moment. I collected those moments. "I told Bolster I really didn't want to lose them. That I had to know as soon as possible whether he wanted them or not." Yeah, yeah, Bolster said. Send them down.
A month or so later, a letter from the magazine came in the mail. Inside was a tear sheet from the forthcoming issue (a full-page photograph Friedman had taken) and a check for $40. "My name was on the picture," Friedman says, smiling. He pauses, then breaks out laughing. "It was complete insanity from there. Eighth grade. I was blown away."
Since then, through junior college and UCLA, a stint as manager of Suicidal Tendencies, as a columnist for Maximum Rock 'N' Roll, as the creator of a one-time-only punk photozine called My Rules, Friedman has made his living by taking photographs. Of skateboarders first, but then of punk rockers and hardcore artists and, more recently, of rappers^×over 100 album covers in all.
His subjects are all, Friedman says, fuck you heroes. People "who have shown us different ways of doing or looking at things."
It's more complicated than that, of course. In Friedman's images, bird-flipping skaters, snarling punks and posing-hard rappers alike, the overarching message appears to be more than, simply, fuck you. It is instead fuck you with a subtext: I reject you outright. Reject you and all of your stupid, petty beliefs and limitations; I am against you and that for which you stand, so high and mighty. In the shorthand form, the sub-language of the moving body: the finger. I don't even need to talk to you. Fuck you. Think for yourself.
That is Friedman's message, at any rate. The subjects and the skaters in particular) are generally a bit vaguer. "You could never find a more aggressive, arrogant, rowdy, perhaps ignorant bunch of people than my friends," Alva told Skateboarder at around the same time Friedman was getting his first photographs published. "That's just the way we are; that's the way we skateboard; that's the way we talk."
Being rowdy in the pursuit of excitement, Friedman feels, was a definite fuck you: to all the clean-cut Valley kids playing Little League on sculpted fields, to screwed-up moms and dads and stepdads and families, lame semi-suburban towns and, as, Friedman says, "all those dicks I went to school with who listened to Genesis, that bullshit." The Dog Town skaters were reckless, crazy, the antithesis of all that; they didn't care for authority, would skate anywhere, anytime, anything.
In '76 or '77, Friedman can't remember which, they emptied a pool on Rockingham Avenue in Brentwood (O.J. Simpson's house) and skated. Juice was away; construction was going on in the house. "When he came by," Friedman says, "he was actually cool about it." Whatever. It's probably unwise to ascribe much political significance to the skating pictures in Fuck You Heroes, except to say that the Dog Town skaters Friedman captured on film (whose rad-stoking-L.A. nonconformism sounds a lot like adolescent dickishness today) were idolized by kid skaters across the country.
Wherever you skated in New York in the mid-70s, for instance, whether in the unfinished drainage bowls that now lie under Borough of Manhattan Community College on Chambers Street, or on the banks under the Brooklyn Bridge, on loft ramps in SoHo or a plywood quarter-pipe in Riverside Park, there was always one guy with a bandanna and a mop of curly hair, an Alva board, an Alva style, an Alva attitude. I wanted to be Jay Adams, Paul Constantineau. I have dark scars on my knees and elbows to prove it.
On a smaller scale, Friedman was able to achieve a similar success with his punk-rock photographs. He was a bi-coastal child, spent the school year with his mom in L.A. and summers with his father in New Jersey. In high school, things got difficult at home; he reversed the process and went to school near his dad's. He had, he says, many of the classic adolescent rebellion problems: fights with his parents, beefs with teachers, difficulty with peers."I was difficult," he admits. Then adds, with a smile, "Although I never did anything wrong."
The atmosphere of punk (of straight-edge hardcore, in particular: no drinking, no drugs, no peer pressure, no anti-positivism) was perfect for him. "All these bands I was listening to at the start of the 80s," he says, "were saying things that I could relate to, talking about ideals, and integrity, what's fucked up and what's good." As with skating, Friedman says, the photographs he took were, at first, "an afterthought. I went to shows to slam dance, get out some angst, enjoy the music, just like everyone else."
It seems almost disingenuous, the way he says it, if only because the photographs he did take are so seminal and exciting: early, out-of-control shots of the Germs, Black Flag, the Stimulators, Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat, D.O.A., Bad Brains, S.S. Decontrol.
Friedman promoted the bands he liked relentlessly, first in Skateboarder, which was struggling to diversify after the skateboard boom of the 70s began to wane, then in the mainstream press and, after that didn't work, in 1982's self-published My Rules.
Friedman points to a picture he took of MacKaye in 1982, on one knee before the mosh pit at a club in Torrance CA, singing with the crowd. "I thought straight-edge was just this really great idea and I wanted to capture and spread it to as many kids as possible. To my peers. I thought we could try to change the attitudes of everyone who just went to parties to drink and get high, who didn't think for themselves."
Who knows. But look again at Friedman's photograph of Minor Threat, for the cover of the Salad Days EP in 1983, the band seated calmly on the steps of Dischord House in Arlington VA, staring at the viewer in skate shoes and jeans. It was the perfect picture of American punk rock, we are middle class maniacs; we live in the suburban house next door. You could be like us. Fuck you.
Then there's rap. Friedman got all hooked in with the Beastie Boys when they came to L.A. to open for Madonna's Like a Virgin tour; he'd met them in 1981 when they were still a hardcore band. They had been skaters. "Rap," Friedman says, "seemed to me to be the next step for hardcore music, a natural progression. The Beasties knew that." Granted, he says, "a lot of the kids involved were coming from harsher living circumstances, from a different direction. But the message was the same, and I wanted to spread that around." Through the Beastie Boys, Friedman got work with Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons; he did a tour book for Run D.M.C., album covers for Ice-T and the Beasties, for Public Enemy.
The resulting photographs, most of them posed, seem to lack the energetic craziness of his live-action skating or punk work, but they somehow continue to project the sneering, outlaw disenfranchisement Friedman craves.
Part of that is the hustler image: black leather, gold, guns. Part of it is the sneer itself. Sometimes, though, Friedman admits, "I think I've projected my own idealism onto my subjects, given them integrity they never really had."
Integrity, or the appearance of it, is Friedman's touchstone. "It's what you feel in your heart if you^Òre honest," he says. It is what, he says, his photographs are all about. One example might be one of the first photographs he took of Ice-T, standing by the 101 freeway in Hollywood, in April '86. Right hand on his hip, Ice-T stares down at the camera with a pursed-lip look of disdain on his face, a mesh gimme-cap perched sideways on his head. It is a posed picture, yes, but if you look into the rapper's eyes, blank and intelligent, as empty and foreboding as the sunglasses he wears in many of the later shots. You can detect almost the same fluid anger that comes out of the skater shots from the mid-70s, and from the sweaty faces of the punks. The message hasn't changed: fuck you.
"These are people who I look up to," Friedman says. "Or have looked up to, and that millions of other kids have looked up to, or still look up to, and have good reason to," he says, standing now, loud. Friedman's eyes are blazing. His demeanor is not aggressive, nor is it defensive. He's neither malignant nor benign. He only wants to explain. Forcefully: "That's why I called them heroes. They're not heroes in the traditional sense, but they are people who are speaking out or acting out about the bullshit that's going on in the world today, and they're not just sitting back and taking it. The image reflects that. And that's what's important to me."
I wrote that article in August, 1994; it appeared in NYPress on Aug. 24, 1994 as a cover story. In the months and years that followed, Glen and I stayed in touch, and talked a great deal about his work. Recently, as Glen started to put together his second book, Fuck You Too, the music and skating photo scrapbook you're reading now, I made a few calls, both to his friends and to people who he's worked with as artists and in business. As it turned out, there wasn't much difference between the two groups.
"What's your reaction to Glen's work?" I wanted to know. "Is he as fuck-you as his photographs suggest?"
Russell Simmons, the rap mogul and president of Def Jam, who's hired Friedman for record covers countless times, started laughing. He didn't have much time, he said, but could sum up Friedman in a recent, typical scenario:"Fuck You Too? I just got a big deal, a huge deal, from Coke. To be their spokesman. And I ask my good friend Glen to take one photograph for me, for a Coke ad, for more money than he's ever seen, just one photograph. And he says, "Coke? Fuck that.""
Rick Rubin, Simmons' ex-partner, illustrious producer, head of American Recordings and southern wrestling impresario: "For the people who grew up in punk rock, he's by far my favorite photographer of that generation. Every time he picks up a camera, it seems, he takes good pictures. [And] he's talented far beyond what we see in his art, though his personality doesn't allow him to do some of the things he could do, like be the president of a record company; he values himself far too much to allow himself to start where he'd have to to do that."
It's an important point. Because in addition to being a consummate artist behind the camera, Friedman is above all else a gifted talent scout: he's been at the epicenter of three extraordinarily large youth culture movements in the United States (skating, punk and rap) and he was there at the start of all three. Not with those who faded away, but with those who determined the directions the movements would take; stars ascendent.
"He's definitely the O.G. of rap photography," Ice-T says. "His were the very first images of rap to cross America, and he captured them exactly, this white kid from where-in-the-fuck."
Craig Stecyk, the journalist Friedman met on the Kenter banks in the mid-70s who first encouraged him to send his work to Skateboarder, concurs."The amazing thing about Glen," he says, "is his propensity for repeatedly making once-in-a-lifetime e hook-ups. He gets into stuff early, gets into it deep; he works it thoroughly and he's out of it before other people are even hip to its existence."
"It's clear in his photographs," says Tony Alva, skateboarding demigod turned snowboard and skate-deck sales heavyweight. "Glen is always in the right place at the right time, with his finger on the pulse of the moment. It's his dharma, his gift. We were these little shithead skateboarders and Glen was there; he came up from underneath with the rest of us, doing what he loved. You look at those skating photographs he took, and then of the bands and later with hiphop, and you can see: it's timeless."
I wondered why. Ian MacKaye, who Friedman has known since the early days of the D.C. hardcore scene, provided the best answer.
"It's all in the eye," MacKaye says. "Glen believes in the intensity of life, and he's always looking for it, in skating first, and then punk and then hiphop. He has total contempt for the typical photographic process. And what he does is, he waits. I've done photo shoots with him where we'll be out for an hour and he'll take one shot. There's an intensity that he's looking for, that he obviously relates to. And he knows it'll come."
"He may talk a lot of shit," Ice-T adds, seriously, "but you cannot deny his experience."
That's true for rap, of course, and for punk and skating as well. The images in Fuck You Heroes, and in Fuck You Too, helped many of us define our understanding of youth-culture America; white and black, West Coast and East. They are images that will remain in our heads long after we've moved on: our collective memory. Believe it, Friedman might say, or fuck you too.
The Food and Drug Administration released draft regulations intended to limit antibiotic use in meat-producing animals to prevent outbreaks of drug-resistant viruses.
The medical community has been warning for years that we all take too many antibiotics. Because, the more we throw at these bugs we're trying to kill, he more quickly they evolve to beat those drugs.
Now, the battle against so-called "antibiotic resistance" is going down on the farm. Today, the Food and Drug Administration issued new guidelines designed to reduce the antibiotics fed to cows, pigs and chickens.
Jeff Horwich: Before we eat the vast majority of animals in this country, they've been eating antibiotics.
Jeff Bender directs the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety at the University of Minnesota.
Jeff Bender: We know that if we feed at these really low levels, somehow these animals don't get disease and they grow faster.
Faster -- and bigger, says Missouri farmer Richard Oswald.
Richard Oswald: Antibiotic feeding does stimulate the appetite of the animal somewhat, so they tend to eat more than they would normally if they were just out on their own.
The FDA says all those antibiotics have contributed to drug-resistant strains of e.coli, salmonella and other deadly bacteria. So today the agency said fattening livestock for market is no longer a good enough reason to give antibiotics. New draft regulations say they must be medically necessary and overseen by a veterinarian.
It's a challenge to the large, factory farms that supply most of the nation's meat. The University of Minnesota's Jeff Bender says where animals are tightly packed, the diet of antibiotics keeps disease from spreading.
Bender: This is going to require some innovation by the industry to think about what does this mean for us. Does this mean less animals that we have in confined spaces?
Bender calls the FDA guidelines "an important step." Just down the hall, his colleague, veterinary epidemiologist Randy Singer, worries it may be a backward step.
Randy Singer: I am concerned if we pull antibiotics out of the feed of animals that we'll see an increase in the illness of these animals on the farms, and therefore we will need more antibiotics at higher doses.
Singer says that's what happened when the EU made the same move four years ago.
August 1, 2010
One of the murals at the Denver International Airport, painted by Leo Tanguma.
Face it: anyone who has flown ever since the 9/11 attacks know that airports are Beelzebub’s satanic stock yards, where passengers are treated like so much cattle. Communities can spend all of the millions of dollars they like in an effort to fill these massive spaces with soothing artwork and soaring terminal designs, packed with wall-to-wall retail shopping and fast food Valhallas. It doesn’t matter. Air travel has been made miserable, and airports are places to be avoided. But one airport in particular has attracted the attention of a wide range of conspiracists who see something sinister there, and it’s even worse than TSA cavity searches over forbidden shampoo bottles, corkscrews and nail clippers.
When Denver, Colorado outgrew its old Stapleton Airport, the city and county government decided to think and build big. They went 25 miles out of town and built a facility that takes up twice the landmass of Manhattan. The airport was designed with the future in mind, and is the largest airport in the U.S., the third largest in the world. As with any project of this size, there was much consideration given to the decoration and design of the terminal, and its unique roof line was made to represent the conical peaks of the Rocky Mountains. But it was the artwork inside that first attracted curious groups of the very, very nervous. And then more accusations started pouring in.
Here are some of the peculiarities noted by researchers:
• Evil words – Some conspiracists have pointed to words cut into the floor as Satanic or Masonic: Cochetopa, Sisnaajini and the baffling Dzit Dit Gaii. It turns out that these are actually Navajo terms for geographical sites in Colorado. The other creepy terms often pointed to as evil references, Braaksma and Villarreal, are actually the names of Carolyn Braaksma and Mark Villarreal, artists who worked on the airport sculptures and paintings.
• Creepy murals – We don’t know art, but we do know that a soldier wearing a gas mask, stabbing a dove with a scimitar and waving a gun over a river filled with women carrying dead babies is not really the sort of thing to uplift our spirits while dashing for a far gate on a short layover. Other bizarre images include a scene with caskets featuring a dead Navajo woman, a dead Jewish woman and a dead African-American woman. Artist Leo Tanguma wrote explanations of his personal, if odd, inspirations for the paintings, describing them as depicting scenes of violence and tragedy being overcome by peace and harmony.
Then of course, there's always the satanic blue horse sculpture with glowing red eyes that welcomes visitors.
• Masons and the New World Order – There is a dedication marker in the airport that is clearly inscribed with the square and compasses of the Freemasons, along with listing the involvement of the two Grand Lodges of Freemasonry in Colorado. All of this is mounted over a time capsule sealed during the dedication of the airport. Some claim that this is a futuristic “keypad” with some unknown purpose. Spookier to them is the notation of an organization called the New World Airport Commission.
The New World Airport Commission, says Denver Airport officials, was a group of local businesses that organized the opening ceremonies of the facility, and they chose the name because Denver was aiming to create a “new, world-class” city and airport. The Freemasons participated in laying the “capstone” (the last, finishing stone) of the airport project. This is by no means unusual. Masons have been laying cornerstones, capstones, and memorial markers for public buildings for almost 300 years. As symbolic heirs of the stonemasons’ guilds of the Middle Ages, modern Masons created a cornerstone ritual that has been used in public ceremonies that have included the U.S. Capitol Building, the Statue of Liberty, bridges, churches, university buildings, court houses, and the Tacoma Dome. Conspiracists think this is creepy. On the other hand, we don’t hear them grousing about the new wave of Feng Shui “space clearing” ceremonies popping up everywhere these days, consecrating everything from municipal buildings to nail salons.
BTW, the "control panel" is actually a braille inscription of the capstone text, so blind people can read it without crawling on their hands and knees.
• Masonic Great Hall - Another claim is that the large portion of the terminal is called the Great Hall, and is named after a room found in Freemason lodges. There may be Masonic buildings in the world with assembly rooms or dining areas referred to as Great Halls (London’s comes to mind), but it is by no means a common term in the overwhelming majority of Masonic buildings. It’s frankly a more common term in castles, from Chinon to Disneyland.
• Nazi Runways – Most modern airports wishing to utilize the most efficient runway designs are built these days with two parallel runways. Not so in Denver. Looked at from above, there’s no denying that the runways radiate like twisted spokes from the terminal building, and they do seem to resemble a swastika. Conspiracists claim this is either a fascist message to secretly show off the totalitarian power of the New World Order, or that it is an occult depiction of the old Germanic rune for power.
• Secret Underground Base – This is the most common charge against the Denver Airport, that it is built over the top of a massive, secret underground military base. The airport was budgeted to cost $1.7 billion, but came in closer to $5 billion when all the dust cleared. While it was built on a site chosen for its flat setting, millions of tons of earth were moved around the property, giving credence to the claim that something huge was being built underground. Bear in mind that the airport was over-designed, to be flexible for decades, to be easily expandable, and to use the very latest in technology – which created a nightmare of technical glitches throughout the first years of operation. Miles of tunnels were dug for underground trains between terminals, and for a troublesome subterranean baggage handling conveyor system that took years to get operating properly. In addition, there are other tunnels for a huge fuel pipeline system to pump jet fuel to gates instead of relying on tanker trucks. Part of the justification for all of this underground infrastructure is because Denver gets whacked with major snowfall for much of the winter, and the more that can be handled underground instead of dealing with snow, the more efficient it will be.
Conspiracists cry balderdash. They say there is a multi-level, subterranean base run by the New World Order, or the government, or both. One Alex Christopher claimed to have worked in the tunnels under the airport, and described what appeared to be vast holding areas for prisoners, strange nausea-inducing electromagnetic forces, and caverns big enough to drive trucks through, presumably filled with helpless political prisoners.
•There was already a well serviced Denver Airport, with no real need for another one. The new airport has no technological advancements over the first and less runways. This is very odd considering its size…53 square ,miles!
•The view of the airport from space is a.. Well take a look.
•There are massive cavernous concrete tunnels under the airport for ’storage’. Miles of ’storage’. For what? No airport needs anything like this amount of underground storage. Anywhere except here…
•Inside this airport, there are a plethora of MASONIC symbols on sculptures and artwork.
•The murals on the walls depict a story of mass genocide, followed by an Eden-like paradise! Odd for a family oriented airport really.
•Denver airport’s New World Airport Commission is mentioned on a large plaque, with the Masonic triangle sign of the set square and compass above it. There is no New Word Airport Commission!
•The very first mural shows a little girl carrying a Mayan tablet, surrounded by dead children, with trees and cities being destroyed behind it! Just a subtle hint at the infamous 2012 date here. There is a penguin in a protective box, depicting the preservation of some life.
•There is a floor inlay with Au Ag in the atrium of the airport, in front of the next wall mural depicting genocide, showing a military figure in a gas mask, carrying a gun and a sword. Au Ag is a deadly strain of hepatitis discovered by one of the sponsors of the airport! It’s full name is Australia antigen. End of the fucking day we will all find out the hard way.
•5 buildings were constructed initially and promptly buried. Apparently buildings are buried in Denver if they are ‘built wrong’.
•Ongoing work continues UNDER the airport, and staff are tight lipped about what they are up to. They are ‘not allowed; to answer!
•There is ongoing construction of large tunnels connecting the buildings together, resembling holding areas, with massive capacity. 88.5 square miles of underground space. What on earth could a minor airport store in that?
•A contractor claims that the tunnels have a non standard sprinkler system throughout, which were added to the concrete tunnel roofs.
What’s the use of a sprinkler system, in concrete tunnels 150 feet below the ground? What sort of fire do they want to put out down there? Maybe it has something to do with the Au Ag…
•The next mural is probably the most disturbing, given the shape of the airport itself. A German boy is surrounded by happy children, who are handing him their weapons or playing instruments, with the gas masked military figure lying dead at their feet.
•The last mural has a Jesus-like figure holding a plant, symbolizing rebirth. All the people are smiling and running towards him, and animals are playing.
•The barbed wire fences surrounding the airport face the inside of the airport, not out. Prisons keep people in.