YGR news letter
- Created on Saturday, 26 February 2011 22:01
Thanks again for participating in www.younggodrecords.com, the discussion board and the discussion list. To you-all at the list: I Am Watching. Sorry I donÂ’t participate more often Â– IÂ’m just barely able to keep on top of things time-wise, as it is. I do enjoy your varied trains of thought (especially when it veers away from Angels/Swans etc) and I appreciate the recent general civility of tone. Again, one of the best rewards of having the website, as well as meeting people after the shows etc (as rare as they are, I admit) has been to discover what a damn high quality bunch of people (Ok, maybe youÂ’re misanthropes and sex-fiends on the side, but I applaud that too) you are. Sometimes the level of discourse is a little intimidating for an inveterate anti-intellectual like me, but against my will, I often learn somethingÂ… So thanks really very much for your continued interest in my work and YGR. ItÂ’s very encouragingÂ… traffic at the website is increasing all the time, and that too is encouraging. We really have very few other ways of reaching people Â– weÂ’re not exactly high profile in medialand, so itÂ’s good to know we can continue our efforts completely outside that sphere of things.
ANSWER TO A QUESTION RE WORDS TO FEEL HAPPINESS - it goes like this: Â“IÂ’m truly sorry, for what I never did, and though itÂ’s useless to say: I wish you happinessÂ…Â”Â…I strenuously disagree with the Â“uselessÂ” part, by the way.
San Francisco was really gratifying. As usual, I was a complete mess of frayed nerve endings and corrosive bile in my guts before the show, but somehow managed to relax and fall into the performance. Dana and Larry did an excellent job of fleshing out the songs, and from what I hear it sounded good out front Â– full and loud, as it should be, even when Â“acousticÂ”. I remain in awe at LarryÂ’s ability to perform about 10 unrelated tasks at the same time. He played electronic vibes, organ, snare, cymbals, sometimes all at once. For the upcoming angels tour weÂ’ll add a kick drum to that list. I have fond memories of the Great Annihilator tour, where he played vibes with one hand (delicate, soft) and a mounted kick drum ( pounding hell) with the other, as well as assorted other instruments. Phil Puleo managed a similar feat on the final Swans tour, by the way, playing a hammer dulcimer with one hand (tiny and light) and killing various other percussion instruments with the other, simultaneously.
PLEASE NOTE: THE TONIC SHOW IS CANCELED. Just didnÂ’t work out in schedule, but I will play there again at some point soon, as it remains in my opinion the best small scale venue in NYCÂ…
I am playing with LOW at Bowery Ballroom October 29 and 30. This is me solo, acoustic, no one else on stage. Please come and throw flowers and cups of thick, smelly liquid at me. I guess you could say LOW are my favorite Â“rock relatedÂ” band right now. I just heard a track yesterday from their album with dirty three, and was floored, as usual.
IÂ’ve also spoken to someone from Godspeed, and it seems I might play with them solo/acoustic too, three shows at the end of this month, but that is NOT CONFIRMED. WeÂ’ll post it at the site and send out brief newsletter when/if certain.
Recent/current reading: The Professor and the Madman, by Simon Winchester (interesting tale of Â“madmanÂ” who contributed to Oxford English Dictionary), Paul Bowles By His Friends (reminiscences by various associates), 3 Novels by Agota Kristof Â– The Notebook, The Proof, The Third Lie (someone mentioned looking for this: itÂ’s on Grove Press), a manuscript of the novel Junky Love by Phil Schoenfelt ( an expatriate who lives in Prague, I met him on tour, and he turns out to be a really good writer. This is a tale of what the title suggests Â– addiction/obsession/loveÂ…should be published soon, and IÂ’ll mention it on discussion board when it comes out), and most importantly: A crucial Book, Drink As Much As You Want And Live Longer (!).
I am going through the heaps of demos etc IÂ’ve received since my absence on the west coast, and sorry if I havenÂ’t gotten back to any of you that mightÂ’ve sent them. My desk is a mountain of unpaid bills, unanswered correspondence, incomprehensible scribbled notes to myself. Today I attack this mess.
By The Way, IÂ’m working on putting together a live video from the angels of light show at bowery ballroom (was the last show of tour, so was very strong). If any of you are going to be interested in this, please register your interest at Â“special projects exclusive to this siteÂ” on homepage. That will help me figure out how many to makeÂ…
I just completed an interview for Adverse Effect Magazine, from England. I include it below in unedited form, with the kind permission of Richard Johnson, editor. If youÂ’re interested in finding out more about this magazine go to: www.adverse-effect.com.
Â….thatÂ’s it for now, best wishes as always, and adios, mg
ADVERSE EFFECT INTERVIEW Â– UNEDITED:
1/ Of all your post-Swans concerns, I believe Angels Of Light bear the most similarities (in terms of emotional scope). Do you see AOL in this way, however (i.e., a kind of 'continuation')?
I really donÂ’t draw any distinctions. I just keep working, and one idea leads to another. I did want to keep Angels focused on the song, though, and thought it best to keep the sonic/soundtrack-like ideas separated from it (ie The Body Lovers). With Angels, itÂ’s important to me that I can perform the material with just myself and an acoustic guitar effectively, because thatÂ’s the core of the thing.
2/ Musically, however, AOL are generally more pared-down and there's greater emphasis on the voice/words, similar in spirit to early blues, country & folk music. Traces of these same forms also arise throughout AOL's work as well. Would you say that your work is forming part of a tradition that began with such music?
Well I donÂ’t know what IÂ’m doing most of the time actually. I think it would be pompous for me to align myself with any tradition. IÂ’ve just found that I have an ability, in my hamfisted way, to make something happen with an acoustic guitar and my voice, and itÂ’s simple and basic and is entirely dependent on the performance and the moment. After all the years of working in expensive studios, and maybe getting a little drunk on what technology can do from time to time, I just want to do something irreducible, and accept the risks associated with that.
3/ The interest in both diversity & trying different ideas out still appears prevalent, too. Given that you have developed the Body Lovers/Haters, who are devoted to sometimes ravaged textural/atmospheric pieces, have you set parameters for AOL's own music?
See above. IÂ’ve sort of lost interest for the time being in the Â“sonicÂ” side of things. Maybe IÂ’ll pick up on it again at some point though.
4/ Does this (notion) present more of a challenge, or inhibit your recordings in any way?
Well yes it inhibits the recording, in a good way. Limitations are a good thing, I think.
5/ When writing, what comes first, the words or the music?
These days the music comes first. I sit down with the guitar and start playing, fiddling about, until I find something I like. Then struggle to find words, which is increasingly difficult. When the words do come, theyÂ’re usually just injected into my head from some alien source, it seems. If I try too hard, nothing happens. Of course, after having written so many songs now over the years, thereÂ’s always the problem of trying not to repeat oneself. Often times too I find myself self consciously aware of an audience, which is really a bad thing.
6/ You're a very prolific artist as well. How have you managed to remain so motivated and, indeed, how has this changed over the years?
I donÂ’t really have any problem with motivation. Every aspect of my life is geared towards the final goal of making music, and has been for about 20 years now. If IÂ’m not doing that, I feel atrophy setting in rather quickly, and panic ensues. Maybe itÂ’s a Calvinist American work ethic, I donÂ’t know.
7/ There is a diverse selection of musicians on the AOL albums as well. How do these collaborations materialise? I mean, do you simply approach people whose work you have appreciated over the years, do they on the other hand approach you for much the same reason, or is it all purely founded on friendship (which in itself entails a degree of likemindedness/mutual respect)? Is musical ability important to you?
I only work with people I like personally. I had some terrible experiences with swans along the way, in my desperation to keep the thing going, where I worked with people from time to time whoÂ’s motives I knew to be less than pure, I suppose. It gave me a permanent sense of the creeps. So now I just work with friends, but of course they have to be good musicians, though not necessarily in a technical sense.
8/ Obviously, AOL is your ship, but are the collaborators allowed much freedom for their own ideas within it?
Yes, the arrangements for the last album (How I Loved You) were entirely a collaboration, subject to my approval in the end. But on this album things just flowed naturally, almost no need for any intervention on my part, except maybe in infusing the thing with dynamics, duration of parts, building on sections etc.
9/ You have also now set up YGR for your own work. Will it remain there exclusively (beyond the realm of possible film soundtrack work you may commission...which is made clear on the website)? What prompted this decision?
YGR is not just for my work any more. WeÂ’ve released music by several other people now, and intend to do so into the future. The initial need to start YGR was just survival, really, after years of work and seeing almost nothing for it financially.
10/ Any film soundtrack offers yet, then?
A few, but nothing concrete right now.
11/ Whose work do you most admire in this field, anyway (both filmmaker and film music composer)?
Obviously Morricone is great, always. Bernard Hermann, too. I also like the Popol Vuh contributions to the Herzog films, and KubrickÂ’s use of Ligeti in 2001 space oddesy and The Shining was greatÂ…He also used some ligeti in Eyes Wide Shut, I believeÂ… These days, unfortunately, most major films have either complete schlock as soundtracks, or entail a collection of pop songs, usually those songs associated with the same corporation that released the film.
12/ Besides the control it brings, are you enjoying all the other aspects to operating your own label? You have released work by a few other groups now, too. Are they simply unsigned groups whose work you feel should be made available?
I just follow my instincts, and respond to music in a visceral way. I have no preference, except that the music we release have an urgency and originality to it, and be independent of a specific genre. As far as running the label goes, I do almost everything myself (except the books Â– my eyes instantly fog over when confronted with numbers), so itÂ’s a huge amount of work. Dealing with the website now too has become another slab of time, but generally itÂ’s worth it.
13/ Any luck with the Screamers' reissue? [Only got a rough bootleg 7" myself, so I'm anticipating this!]
no, somebody else already did the screamers re-issue, as it turns out.
14/ I gather you must still be very passionate about music? Do you, therefore, go to many shows and/or buy as much music now as when you were first interested?
I still buy music, but mostly older music. A recent favorite is the Carter Family Complete Recordings box set. The most all out enjoyment IÂ’ve got from a show recently was a bluegrass festival I recently attended, with doc Watson, del Mccorey and others, I was reduced to a whooping, screaming fan. Also saw Neurosis at a recent festival we played that they put on, and responded similarly, despite the huge difference in style of music. I guess I just respond to raw, all out performance, which is why I think that electronic music is so terrible and empty live. The only people IÂ’ve ever seen pull it off live are Suicide (in the early days) and Pansonic, and Throbbing Gristle. Of course I never saw Kraftwerk live, but I hear they were amazing tooÂ…
15/ When did you first become interested?
I guess when I was about 8 years old, listening to The Righteous Brothers.
16/ Moving back to AOL, it doesn't appear that you have performed live a lot beyond the USA yet.Why's this?
Just an impossible financial situation at present.
17/ In this respect (or any other), do you miss Swans?
Absolutely not. I am tremendously happy that that era of my life is over and finished.
18/ What with all the reissues, there must still be a reasonable amount of interest in Swans, too. Are people discovering their work through what you are doing now, chiefly?
It works both ways. I feel very lucky to still have a career, such as it is.
19/ The advent of the internet must be a huge help as well? However, considering how much music is now generally available and the fact the tide of shit's likewise expanding, do you feel it's more difficult to try and break through, despite this? [And, no, I'm not insinuating that you're part of the problem, here!]
To me itÂ’s just a simple way to reach people that might be interested in the music we release, nothing more. IÂ’m certainly not infatuated with the technology of it.
20/ How's the YGR site doing, anyway? (Last time I looked, there seemed to be a lot of strange people on the messageboard!)
The website is growing very fast, way beyond our expectations. Ted Matson, who is webmaster, is basically one of those people thatÂ’s come into my life/work from time to time, and saved my ass. As I mentioned above, itÂ’s a lot of work, but in the end I donÂ’t mind. I enjoy being in contact with the people that appreciate the music, and often find that theyÂ’re really intelligent and have a great deal to offer.
21/ You are obviously an extremely busy person. How do you relax? [I can't imagine you cracking open beers & watching The Simpsons, for instance, but here's an opportunity to prove me wrong!]
I definitely Â“crack openÂ” the beer. Otherwise I read, watch movies, try to travel as much as possible, when thereÂ’s time. I used to say Â“IÂ’m only happy when IÂ’m leavingÂ”, but thatÂ’s changed a littleÂ…
22/ Your latest project is with Dan Matz. Please tell us something about this...
Dan and I worked together at his house over the course of two years. We each brought in basic ideas for songs and collaborated equally on their development. We used instruments that we could play ourselves (or sometimes not!), and just built things up slowly, when we had time. I listened to it last night for the first time in a while, and think itÂ’s quite good. But what the hell do I know?
23/ This matter concerning your being willing to sell one of your fingers for $250,000 over the 'net a year or so back seemed a rather drastic statement. Wouldn't it just be a whole lot easier to churn out some radio-friendly fodder, if that desperate for money? (And I believe you can do this while taking the piss and keeping your integrity/sanity intact - Bill Drummond's KLF efforts, for example)
Well I suppose the idea of selling my finger was a joke, though if someone had taken me up on the offer I probably would have done it. Who needs their right hand pinkie, anyway? As far as churning out a radio friendly song, that will have to come in another lifetime, IÂ’m afraid.
24/ It seems to me that a number of (creative) people who emerged from punk and its immediate shockwaves have learnt a lot from the previous generation's steady descent into stagnation &/or mistakes. Agree?
I canÂ’t really comment on that, too generalized.
25/ Finally, do you think you'll always be involved with music, now, and are you ever tempted to just run away from all of it and take up a job as a car mechanic or somesuch?
I think itÂ’s possible that at some point IÂ’ll decide to just write, and stop making music, but not for a while. I donÂ’t think I could ever work for someone else. The idea of someone else controlling my time is not acceptable.