Wednesday, May 05, 2021

British Columbia Cryptids - stories of giant salamanders, horned lizards, and other weirdness you find online at 3am

Awake at 3am - CPAP mask crapped out on me, and now I'm down a cryptozoology rabbithole. 

I remember my father reading a strange story to me from The Province when I was a boy, about a prospector exploring Pitt Lake and finding a "lost world" hidden in a valley. It made quite an impression on me, and for awhile, I would actually ask my father about it: "Was there anything more in the paper about the hidden valley with the giant horned lizards?" There never was, and after a few years, I stopped asking my Dad if he'd read updates on the story. 

At that point I had read Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, and - as a dinosaur-and-horror-movie obsessive and childhood Sasquatch enthusiast - I loved the idea that there might be something akin to it, a hidden valley with prehistoric creatures only a short drive from where I lived.

Later on in life, I used to spend a lot of time with some friends who lived on Pitt Lake, and the story, I'm sure, is one I mentioned to them. But it kind of disappeared from the forefront of my consciousness, since nothing was ever there to feed  it. It would surface from time to time, however, and I sat down some time ago online to see if the internet could help me track down the original story (and again, to see if there had been any follow-up). 

As close as I came was mention of horned lizards in an article about another really interesting BC cryptid, a rumoured, but un-proven species of giant salamander, from 6 to 12 feet in length - many times larger than the known-but-endangered Pacific giant salamander, which is only a foot long. (I might have seen one of these fellas as a kid - two neighbours, knowing about my love for reptiles and amphibians, showed me a really big salamander that they'd caught under a log while fishing in the lower Alouette - a place I also fished as a child; I remember it being almost a foot long, and like nothing I've seen before or since).   

Well, being kind of Peter-Stampfel-centric lately, I read something he posted on Facebook about hellbenders - a known, proven-species of Appalachian giant salamander. It reminded me of all the above, and sent me down a Google rabbithole, where I found another story related to this, which had only gone online after my last round of searching. 

But what about those mysterious horned lizards?

Good news! The story - not original article my Dad read to me in The Province, but one that captures some of the details - is recounted here, on the BC Prospectors' website, excerpting and altering a longer version of the story here, apparently by the same author. It talks about a "Mr. Scott, of Haney BC," informing the news media of a lost valley he'd discovered, that "had a tropical climate where extinct vegetation grew in abundance. Inhabiting the valley were 6 foot long meat eating horned-lizards, huge white frogs and a 150 year old man."

I don't remember the 150 year old man from the original story, but I do remember that some of the captured horned lizards were supposedly sent to a university for study. Warren Scott, whose name is mentioned in some articles about this lost valley, also pops up in some stories about the giant salamanders, it seems, and looks from this forum discussion to also have been a Sasquatch enthusiast.

It's kind of interesting that this Warren Scott fella connects some of these stories. Wonder if he's still around? There's mention in that forum discussion that he was interviewed on a show called Alden's Outdoors in 1977... if he was an adult then, he'd likely be in his 80's or 90's now... Hm. Barrie Alden seems to report from hospital occasionally on Youtube videos.... it's a pretty odd Youtube channel, but the most recent post is here, about cougars. I've posted a comment to see if he can do something on Warren Scott - if he can share his memories of interviewing him, say...

Anyhow, I'd rather be asleep - I have to work today - but... it's been an unusual couple of hours!

Monday, April 26, 2021

Addendum: vaccine recovery process

 Awakened at 3am by my wife's CPAP machine - her mask must have come off or something because it just sounded like rushing wind beside me. I told her, she adjusted it, but I didn't think I would be able to get back to sleep... here I am. I spent all of today in a giddy-but-weak condition, like that lightheaded, high-energy state you sometimes enter into when you've had a fever. Had a vague ache in my left armpit, as if from a swollen lymph node, and some tenderness at the site of the injection, but otherwise felt pretty good (giddy weak feeling aside). Fever is gone, headache is gone, chills are gone. Yay!

Still glad I arranged a day off work - broken sleep and weird psychological states do not make for sound tutoring choices. No traumatizing nightmares in which I doubted my own sanity, anyhow - just some leftover questions rattling around my head for Peter Stampfel. Like, whenceforth came the "swamp" in "Black Leather Swamp Nazi?" What story inspired "Diarrhea of a Madman," which seems to be built on fact - because it would just be weird to have a story about someone who "shoved poop-filled bags down his victim's pants" if it had no relationship to the truth...? 

Maybe he explains that in the liner notes to The Ordovician Era? He probably does. Most of his CDs come with great liner notes. He probably also explains what "Ordovician" means - I haven't looked it up yet.

Anyways, I guess I'll read The Stand for awhile. Oh, speaking of books: I had a fun score at a local Value Village today. Having chatted briefly with a fella with an awesome Igbo name at Save On Foods - I cannot recall exactly what it was but it reminded me of the "shadooby" in the Rolling Stones' "Shattered" - I was attuned to African literature when shopping, noticing a few Chinua Achebe's and such. Then I saw a Wole Soyinka title I'd never seen before, and - if Abebooks is any indication - quickly established that it was actually a fairly rare book, a translation of a novel written originally in Yoruba, The Forest of a Thousand Daemons. It's one of the first, maybe the first, novel written in an African novel, by D. O. Fagunwa, translated into English much later, and there's exactly one copy of what seems to be this edition - a paperback first, if Abe can be trusted here - on Abebooks, which has an asking price of $249 US. There are later editions that are much cheaper, and a library hardcover that maybe is not the true first? It's hard to tell. I guess I can do some research. I might flip it, if someone offers me something cool in trade. Or maybe I'll keep it?

Oh, and I found Rocket Norton's Lost in Space, which is always a good find. Nice to do a little thrifting - it's been awhile. Maybe I should read it? 

Oh, speaking of reading, if anyone read it, I fucked up when writing my previous post about the vaccine and in the initial edit said that the vaccine itself was worse than COVID, which is exactly the OPPOSITE of what I meant. Oops! No, no, no - I had relatively unpleasant side-effects compared to many of my friends (not as bad as one guy I know), but I'm still glad for it. I feel mostly okay! I was just so wonky the night I wrote that I picked a totally wrong word. Oops!

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Terrifying nightmare

I just had a very confusing, very traumatic dream - one which will make no sense to recount, but which - the notable part is - was VIVIDLY real. I had this while still feeling the effects of my COVID vaccination.

In the dream, I leave Maple Ridge, where I'm working, and drive to Chilliwack, where I hang out with Gerry Hannah. I don't really remember that part so clearly.

Then I drive back to Maple Ridge, buying bread and Chinese food to bring to my Mom, who is still alive, and still living in my childhood home at 216th and Dewdney Trunk. But I realize that I have forgotten something, and violated a travel ban to boot. I have to go back to Chilliwack for some reason, to take care of this thing I have forgotten. But... how can I do this? 

Somehow, I decide that the best thing to do is to start the car, then get out, and let the car go on its own. Which is what I do. 

The car drives off without me. In fact, it might be more than one car! I remember watching three or four cars drive off, unoccupied, heading up what looks like a real bypass in Maple Ridge.

I have second thoughts. How can I let the cars drive without me? I change my mind, and - I am not clear on this - either drive or run after the cars, trying to find them. Recall, I don't drive in real life, so I have no idea how my "dream" can have felt so vividly real. But I cannot FIND the cars - I get all the way to a ferry terminal, then decide to come back home. I remember walking down a row of cars, waiting to get on the ferry (which is way off in the other direction) - looking at the cars and the contents of the cars; no, they're not mine. 

Somewhere on the way back, I start to wonder if I am getting confused - if I made the trip to Chilliwack at all. Nowhere does my dreaming brain twig to the possibility - as it sometimes does - that I am dreaming. I call my Mom on my cellphone - I tell her that I think I might be delusional or something, as a side effect of the medication - and ask her if my car (I have never owned a car in reality) is still in the garage. I haven't lost her car, have I?

She takes a long time answering. I am, it seems, still carrying bread and Chinese food for her, but I no longer have a car with me. She tells me that the cars are still in the garage. Was I delusional the whole time?

I get the bright idea that I will call Gerry Hannah and ask him. His wife answers, and we talk briefly about movies, but I tell her that it is  urgent I talk to Gerry, who apparently is hanging out with Id Guinness, another musician I have interviewed. 

Gerry listens as I frantically ask him, Did you see me today? Was I in Chilliwack? Did you see me anywhere today? Abbotsford? Agassiz? 

I tell him I think I am delusional, because of a vaccine I am on. Actually, I think I tell him that I am delusional because I am on Valtrex - an anti-herpes med I took once (it's a long story - I thought I had caught herpes; I didn't). Gerry listens patiently to my fevered ranting, then must have hung up on me. 

I go to a Walmart, sit on a small chair in a cafeteria-area, and put the bags of bread and Chinese food in a basket while I try to sort out what is going on. I type into my cellphone, does Valtrex cause delusional thinking? But my cellphone will only bring up the Walmart home page. They have taken control of my cellphone. I can look up Valtrex on their search engine to see if I can buy it at the store, but that's it.

I remember that I've said I won't shop at Walmart anymore  (or at least not the Burnaby location). That's also a detail from reality.

That's when I realize that my stapled-shut paper bags of bread and Chinese food for my mother have been TAKEN FROM THE SHOPPING CART in front of me. 

I see a guy with a similarly wrinkled paper bag of groceries in his cart, and stop him - "Did you just take that from my cart?" 

He is surprisingly patient with me and shows me that he did not. I explain back to him that I might be delusional. I have a feeling of terror spreading in me: did I actually HAVE groceries? I didn't go to Chilliwack. I didn't set cars to drive without me. Maybe I didn't have groceries at all?

I feel horror at the thought that I have completely lost my mind, cannot trust it, then wake up in a panic and realize I had been dreaming. 

Was the dream itself - the most vivid and harrowing I've had in years - a side-effect of being vaccinated? Jeez. I don't know... but I'm so glad to be back in Burnaby, with my wife making breakfast. It smells great. Holy shit, what a night!

I slept for eleven hours. I still feel a bit achey. Whatta vaccine this is!

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Peter Stampfel, John Wright, and my vaccination

As I hinted in my previous post, I have a John Wright interview to transcribe (Nomeansno, the Hanson Brothers). I don't know if you have an idea what's involved in my weird little hobby, but trust me - it's a lot of work - listening back to three hours of conversation, selecting the parts that are relevant, organizing them, selecting photos, etc. I spent an insane amount of time on this gigantic Peter Stampfel piece I've just put up. This is an amazing history lesson for anyone who cares about popular music - not just the Holy Modal Rounders and the Fugs, but musical history, and Peter is plenty pleased with it - this is the uncropped version of a photo that's used in the piece (I'm out of other photos). 

Alas, despite a fast-encroaching deadline, I may not get to John Wright today - it's going to depend on how I feel. Y'see, I just received my first shot of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, and I have a full spectrum of the expected side-effects: aches, mild nausea, fatigue, and worst of them all, the shivers.

I hate the shivers. I just got out of bed at 4AM - first to pee, put socks on (ccccold f-f-feet). My wife was awakened by my shufflings, as I did this, and took my temperature, which was 37.4 - I gather that's more-or-less normal, though I suspect it may be on the way up.

My hands are also feeling pretty cold on the keyboard. Anyhow, no transcription for now. I dunno if I'm gonna meet my target or not, but I'm going to bundle up on the couch and continue with my first-ever read of the unexpurgated version of Stephen King's The Stand. He really is a fine novelist, sometimes, and though I haven't read everything he's done, I would be surprised if this isn't his best book. 

I am not 100% trusting of vaccines, note - I don't entirely demonize the anti-vax movement, and think there are some sincere people associated with it - but fuckit - the side effects of the shot I got are way better than COVID-19 [Note: I actually wrote the wrong word in there when doing this last night - "worse" instead of "better." Oops. My mind wasn't working so well, I guess]. I would have rather have had Pfizer or Moderna (which Erika got), but this was what I was offered.

Real easy, too. I registered online then, that same day, called the pharmacy closest to me, Inwell - just a small place by Metrotown - to ask if they were giving the vaccine. They are, and could fit me in this week. 

Good luck out there! (PS - check out Jeffrey Lewis' new vid, "I Wanna Be Vaccinated," to the tune of a certain Ramones song, here - it's great!)

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Bison at the Rickshaw - featuring THE RETURN OF "WENDIGO PART 1!" (And a Blue Öyster Cult interview snippet)

Bison L to R - Eugene, James, Evan, Dan

Preamble: When I interviewed Eric Bloom of Blue Öyster Cult last year, I asked him a question that had been on my mind for awhile. Y'see, I've heard a few artists complain about songs that they've played vastly too many times, until there was no life left in them, and I've seen encores where people have, to all appearances, fulfilled contractual obligations by trotting out their best known songs for an encore, while practically rolling their eyes at the tedium of it (Lou Reed dampened an otherwise amazing concert the night I saw him in Tokyo on the Ecstasy tour by doing a perfunctory, sped up, lets-get-this-shit-over-with run through of "Perfect Day," "Sweet Jane," "Dirty Blvd," and "Walk on the Wild Side." Personally, I'd LOVED the whole rest of the concert, which bypassed any such obvious moves, so we could hear Lou jam with Mike Rathke on songs of Ecstasy, which were clearly ALIVE and fresh and fun to play for both men; that was not the case for any of the songs in the encore. I don't care if they're his "hits" - if I coulda replaced that whole bored encore with a 20-minute jam of "Possum Day," I would have, and had a better night for it). 

Now don't get me wrong - I loved the last Blue Öyster Cult concert I saw; I'm not bored of their big three hits; and the band gave no signs that they were, either, unlike Mr. Reed. But if you consider that they've played "Don't Fear the Reaper" at pretty much every concert they've performed since 1976 (unless there was a power outage or something totally unforseen, Bloom told me), you gotta wonder: Wouldn't it be more fun for them to trade out "Don't Fear the Reaper" for, say, "Flaming Telepaths" or "I Love the Night," or "Lips in the Hills" or some similar deep dive into their catalogue, just for a change? I want them to be having fun too! My question to Eric: is it a challenge to keep "Don't Fear the Reaper" fresh for themselves, after all these years?

Bloom's response: "No, not at all. That song is always fresh, everybody likes it, it puts a smile on everybody’s face and everybody’s happy. If we can do that, and everybody feels good about it, we’re fine with it... I hear stories about certain bands – I won’t mention names, I don’t want to cast any shade on’em – that don’t want to play the stuff that everybody wants to hear; they won’t do it, or they change the arrangement. I went to see somebody, it was a British 60’s invasion person, at a great club setting, and I had a great seat. Couldn’t wait to see this act. And they played most of the hits, but they had re-arranged everything. And I said to myself, 'Why the hell would they mess with hits? These songs are not supposed to go that way! Play them the way they were a hit! Why’dja change it?' It just annoyed the hell out of me. The whole audience wants to sing along with what they remember!"

Which is fair enough - I'm glad for the band that they feel that way - and if that's what they feel, may they never stop playing that song. I mean, "Don't Fear the Reaper" is one of those few songs in the world that it is very difficult to burn out on. Certainly I've never gotten tired of it, so it may be a testament to that song's magic that it still feels good for them to play it. 

But as a listener I DO get burned out on some songs now and then. The thing about retiring something for awhile is that it can bring life BACK to a song that you've burned out on. It certainly feels that way for me as a music fan - I mean, since COVID struck, I've discovered, happily, that I can listen to Pink Floyd's The Wall (or Dark Side of the Moon) and Led Zeppelin IV again, after a decades-long personal moratorium on playing any of those albums in full. Imagine my delight to discover that instead of rolling my eyes and clutching my ears for "Stairway to Heaven," I could feel it again, after three decades of being sick of it? 

(The second-to-last time I saw Bison, in 2018; photo by me!)

End preamble. I, for one, am totally stoked to hear that my favourite-ever Vancouver metal band, Bison, will perform their retired crowd-pleaser, "Wendigo Pt. 1," as part of this weekend's livestreaming event. It's an amazing song that I have only had the privilege of hearing half a dozen times or so, and that I've been secretly hoping they might bring back any of the last five times I've seen'em... but I'm gonna shut up and let Bison's James Farwell tell you about it. I sent him an email asking about what old or new songs they were going to break out for this weekend's concert streaming event, what lineup of the band we'd be seeing, and so forth. What follows is 100% Farwell:
The current line up is Dan And - gits and vox / James Farwell - vox and gits / Evan Joel - Bass / Eugene Parkomenko - drums

We have a plan to play songs from our entire catalogue - including a very special song we are exhuming for this stream - "Wendigo Pt. 1." We retired this song about 8 years ago, determined we had played the life out of it. Due to the excitement of performing after more than a year, we thought it would be appropriate to dust off this favourite for the occasion. It also gave us an opportunity to have our friend  Emily Bach playing the violin for the opening instrumental of the song. We also Invited Terence O'Shea, who recorded violin for our song "Tantrum," to perform that song with us.
We felt so grateful to be performing and documenting this night, I thought it important to acknowledge how honoured we are to be making our music and doing our good work in this part of the world. I've invited Cease Wyss, a local indigenous artist, to perform a land acknowledgement and a drum song welcoming us, and supporting us in our music being made on the unceded, ancestral, traditional homelands of the Səl̓ílwətaʔ, Xʷməθkwəy̓əm, & Sḵwx̱wú7mesh peoples in Vancouver, and the shíshálh, Kwikwetlem, q̓íc̓əy̓, Kwantlen, Qayqayt, Tsawwassen, Semiahmoo, and Sto:lo Nations of the Lower Mainland.
James is stoked to see Mo and the Rickshaw staff again "after all the time away," he adds. "They are indeed the most welcoming and professional crew around. Long live The Rickshaw Theatre! And long live LIVE MUSIC!" 

For more information about the Bison streaming event this weekend, see here! (Maybe if we move the couch, I can get my wife and cat to mosh with me?).  

RIP Jim Steinman

It is no surprise to me that Jim Steinman proves a divisive figure among my friends on social media. I think it all has to do with how old you were when you discovered Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell

I was about 12. I got the album at a long-since-closed record store in Maple Ridge. At that time, for me it was actually a pretty heavy album - not as heavy as the cover suggested, but still; I mean, besides my parent's Charley Pride cassette and other country classics, I was, by my own choosing, mostly listening to Simon & Garfunkel (their Greatest Hits was my first record-of-my-very-own) and Billy Joel. In fact, I saw Billy Joel on the Glass Houses tour with my Mom, and knew every song he played; that tour was in 1980, so it's possible I was even younger than 12 at this time, by which I had all his solo albums except Cold Spring Harbor. Out in the suburbs in 1980, I had not even heard of heavy metal or punk, or figured out where the "real" record stores were; a year later I would be neck-deep in the Who, the Kinks, and the Blue Oyster Cult, and at age 14, two years later - in 1982 - I would be listening to DOA, Nomeansno, the Cramps, the Subhumans and the Dead Kennedys, and making trips into Vancouver to go to Hot Wax (I was there a couple of times) or Collector's RPM or D&G Collector's Records, or whatever it was called, across from the Kootenay Loop. I was a fast study, I guess, but when you're in that 10-to-12-year-old age range, you don't know anything about anything - it's all new, and your idea of "good" has less to do with what's actually good and more to do with what you have-or-have-not heard previously.

I hadn't heard much. I thought Bat Out of Hell, purchased at that vulnerable age, was pretty great, actually. I didn't know show tunes from shinola, had no concept of "campiness" or "kitsch," and I didn't understand all the sexual references in the lyrics (they creeped me out a little, actually - what, his swollen Levis are bursting apart? WHY? Is this some sort of fat joke, or - how big is his thing, anyhow? I would try to visualize it, and shudder; now, I just chuckle). But that album - especially the epic opening track - was as hard a rock as I'd heard at that point, and though I didn't care about the music half as much as I did the Richard Corben cover art - I followed Corben from Warren Magazines like Creepy and Eerie - I not only WANTED to like it, based on that cover, but I DID like it. (The Corben cover art was a stroke of genius - as I recall, it was what first got my attention. Corben also died fairly recently, note). I mean, if you want to understand the inner life of a 12 year old, just study the album cover above and these two book covers below, all by Corben. 

I'm guessing that my lasting fondness for the album has everything to do with this history. If I'd been an older kid when I first heard it, I might have snubbed it. I mean, there was a time in my teens when, hoping to sculpt an identity or declare tribal affiliation or something, I purged pretty much every album in my collection that wasn't punk (or Neil Young, the BOC, or Motorhead - I kept some of that!). Meat Loaf did not survive that purge; and if I'd first discovered him at that time, when I was about 15, I probably would have howled my derision. When Gerry Hannah quips on Facebook that "the only thing I like about Meat Loaf were his sexy man-boobs in Fight Club and they weren't even real," I mean, that could have been me, if I'd "discovered" Meat Loaf a little bit later in my life. 

But once Bat Out of Hell is in your system, it has, um, effects. You see, Jim Steinman, the songwriter behind every song on that album, has a pretty powerful "signature" as a musician, which you can hear in all of his songs: high camp, kitschy, adolescently-angsty rock'n'roll showtunes, the lot of them, from Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "Holding Out for a Hero," from Air Supply's "Making Love Out of Nothing at All" to Fire Inc.'s "Tonight Is What It Means to Be Young" on the Streets of Fire soundtrack, there's a definite way with language and phrasing, a definite identity. I mean, they all sorta become one song, to me. And I bought and heard a Meat Loaf album that Steinman had nothing to do with - the one with actual meatloaf on the cover - and thought it was godawful, so I knew that it was the songwriter, not the singer, that was the person I liked (which also caused me to pause and reflect a bit). Then the next Meat Loaf album came out, with cover art by Bernie Wrightson, who was sort of a distant number two-or-three-after-Corben in terms of my favourite comic book artists, and then Bad For Good, with a Corben cover again! 

And the thing here is that by 1981, I must have developed some sense of "taste," because I could tell that Bad for Good was, in fact, pretty bad. It occurred to me, I think, at that time, that the title may even have been referring to this, acknowledging this "badness," though I don't think it came to me until a few years later that Steinman may well have been gay, and deliberately indulging a taste for campiness, pushing it to its utmost, in fact. That's my favourite reading of Steinman - that he was gay, and that all of this should be read as high camp; which may not be the case, but if the cover art doesn't make you think maybe I'm onto something, take a look at the rock video - which I only discovered yesterday, when reading that Jim Steinman died. It's almost as funny as that parody video of "Total Eclipse of the Heart." RuPaul's Drag Race contestants could do wicked lip-synchs of any of Steinman's songs. It's a perfect fit. (If the filmic ambitions that Steinman mentions in the interview linked at the bottom are any clue, it seems like there might be a bit of a Peter Pan going on here, with Wendy being menaced by the Lost Boys or something).  

I know nothing of the real Jim Steinman - there are no public statements that I can find about him being gay, just a conspicuous lack of mention of any relationships at all - but the Jim Steinman I imagine in my inner life loved that parody video almost as much as the real thing. Whatever his orientation, I hope he had a hell of a sense of humour about himself. Don't tell me if that it ain't so, okay? If he was taking all this seriously... if he was describing himself in his bio (using a quote, but still) as "the Richard Wagner of rock" with a straight face - then I don't want to know about it. 

To my friends who are horrified by the mention of Steinman or Meat Loaf, then: I don't blame you. No, this is not cool music for an ostensible punk, even a 53-year-old-one, to admit to liking. It is not good rock, and it is not good taste, and it is probably flat-out not good, in any "objective" sense of the word (though it may be good musical theatre). Even if I'm not entirely alone in my fondness for this music (Billy Hopeless also posted some Meat Loaf in honour of Steinman's passing, and I like him more for it), I don't expect anyone to agree with me about any of this - may I never attempt to convince someone that the songs of Jim Steinman are actually worth their time, if they feel otherwise. Maybe you gotta be 12 years old and living in Maple Ridge when you read that line about how "nothing ever grows in this rotten old hole, and everything is stunted and lost" for the hook to sink - I dunno. But I'm thinking I'm going to make a "Jim Steinman's greatest hits" playlist for myself for me and Erika to listen to (she gets it, too). 

It can't all be punk rock, folks. 

Rest in peace, Jim Steinman. 

PS: A friend (thanks, Elliot) points out Steinman's website - it's quite something. Amazing that a website this current - still talking about tour 2021 dates for Bat Out of Hell: The Musical - can look this vintage. There is a wealth of material on it for a Steinman fan, much of it odd and excessive - like this 1981 interview, for example, describing Steinman as "the Loaf behind the Meat." What? (No author is credited, and it sure feels like a self-interview, but...).

Friday, April 16, 2021

My immense backlog, and lots to do otherwise

 Jeezus, talk about a backlog!

I revere Peter Stampfel (member of the Holy Modal Rounders and the first lineup of the Fugs, and Jeffrey Lewis collaborator). He put out a giant 5CD box set covering one song for every year of the 20th century, and OF COURSE I had to interview him about it. We talked for an hour and half. Still transcribing it - gonna buckle down this weekend, no matter how good the weather is. Peter is, like, 82 or something, so everyone else has to wait, because I would be crushed if something happened to him  before he got to see the finished interview go up, and he's already been waiting weeks (the album came out in February, I think, so it's past due!).  

The second thing is more complicated. The whole story would make a great, fun blogpiece but so far the Germans are the people who are getting it, once it is written. Y'see, I made a possibly-slightly-irresponsible trip (I mean, *I* think it was safe, but numbers have started to peak again...) to visit this guy:

...during which I got to fulfill a long-time rock'n'roll dream of mine, as seen in the pic below (it was actually way better than I ever dreamed; I thought that because he knows his beer so well, he'd make stuff that only an elitist beersnob would fancy - "the Emperor's New Beer," y'know, which is what I kinda felt about a Czech Pilsner he recommended to me in a past interview, but holy heck, his lager is YUMMY):

...and that story suddenly takes a front seat to everything but Peter, because it's for a magazine with a deadline, which looms large this week, and fuck me, it was a three hour long conversation! Aaargh! 

Oh, and I also became an uncle, which was the pretext for the above trip. News there, too, of a more personal variety. See the quilt my wife made the new baby? It's AMAZING:

I mean, "stay home, don't travel," fine, but what were we gonna do, stay home for a baby bein' born? The first new baby born to the Laxes since Erika, and the first time ever that I've become an uncle? Heck no. We didn't travel for Christmas, and Erika hadn't seen her family for six months. But while Christmas comes once a year, a baby is born only ONCE, and the trip to family allowed us to visit a couple of friends, too (and lose one, it seems, but that's not a story that really bears telling) so... well, sorry, folks, we travelled a bit this spring. 

Speaking of which, there's also a potential blogpiece to be had about our walk with the Hanhams through Ross Bay Cemetery... Bob ain't the only one who gets to photograph Kevin: 

...or my visiting my buddy Mark, a painter who lives on the island, who has resumed painting after a long hiatus (those are his Klaus Kinski and Frida Kahlo paintings, and William S. Burroughs and Yukio Mishima peeking over his shoulder - they were awesome to see again (Mark, too): 

...but who knows if I'll be writing anything on any of that anytime soon, because all of this gets added to a backlog that includes a Kirk Brandon piece that I gotta do more interviewing on (because it was too awkward trying to talk to him before Theatre of Hate played the Rickshaw), plus a Black Halos piece that I guess the time has come to finish, plus a Stephen Nikleva interview, a Rob Nesbitt/ SuiteSixteen interview, and interviews I haven't even DONE yet, but would like to, like something on the Willie Dunn anthology and the new Salt Spring Underground album and the new Paul Pigat album and the new EddyD & the SexBombs album and... shit, I dunno. There's lots of stuff out there I like, but I'm married, working full time, and trying to survive COVID, and SOMEONE has to clean the kitty litter (my wife works looong hours so that sorta thing tends to fall to me).

So sorry, gang - there's LOTS MORE TO COME, eventually, assuming COVID doesn't sweep me away. Meantime, the English-language version of my Paul Leary interview will be appearing soon in Big Takeover, and the one on the Blue Oyster Cult is already on the shelves, if you've missed it. 

Have a good spring, and stay safe! See you when I can.   

Saturday, March 06, 2021

No Neck Blues Band redux: my 2006 (or 2007?) interview with Dave Nuss

One of my earliest major interviews was with Dave Nuss of the No Neck Blues Band, in late 2006/ early 2007. I was barely getting published by magazines or newspapers at that point; it ran in the underground zine Bixobal. My lack of experience with "professional" writing (later something I would be sort of schooled in by the Straight) may have appealed to the band, who also didn't really do many interviews. I haven't read this piece in fourteen years - probably very few people have - and times sure have changed, but there is, in fact, a relatively new release by the No Neck Blues Band being put out by the record label associated with that magazine, Ri Be Xibalba - see here (or also here, for a previous 10"). 

Since this is an interesting conversation, not in print anywhere at present - with the permission of the Bixobal publisher and Dave Nuss, I'm posting it on my blog. I have no photos of the Vancouver show, or photo credits for the images used (provided by the band at the time of the interview and miraculously saved on my computer). Thanks to Vancouver New Music for permission to reprint the flyer from their Vancouver show, which is where this started, and thanks to Dave Nuss and Eric Lanzillotta for supporting this republishing. It has been mildly edited for errata and such. 

No Neck, No Bullshit

An interview with Dave Nuss of the No Neck Blues Band

By Allan MacInnis

No Neck Blues Band played a single Vancouver gig to a sparse crowd in November 2006. They weren’t that unusual to look at, if you don’t count the giant walking mattress that staggered around the peripheries of the stage, fell off, and made its way into the audience, eventually to disgorge a bandmember. Really, though – their music – trippy, multifaceted, and strange, at times building up into something resembling an intense Krautrock jam, at others creating utter (subtle) chaos for the listener’s mind to assemble into whatever order it liked – was best appreciated with ones eyes closed, anyhow. It’s the shifting coloured map of interior space the sound provokes that merits contemplation, not the mattress, even if it walks.

Now that Ri Be Xibalba have issued a recording of the Vancouver concert on vinyl [note - this has not been done, but portions of the full-length linked above may me drawn from parts of the Vancouver show], it seemed an opportune time to present a lengthy (rare) interview I did with Dave Nuss, in early 2007.

Allan: I know No Neck tend not to give interviews. Have you had many articles about you published in papers like The Wire or Signal to Noise before?

Dave: No, no. Those guys usually stay away from us, for some reason. I mean, they usually do reviews, but somewhere in the past, there was some place where we went one way and they went another way. We had some difficulties with the Wire around the time we did the Revenant album. They wanted to do a feature story about us, but that was at a time when we were very much not doing interviews, and we said, “We’d be happy to do something for your magazine, but it has to be sorta on our terms,” y’know? Issuing more of a statement. And we didn’t want to have photos, and – you know the Wire, they’re kinda a little tabloidy. They’re really big on personality stuff, I always feel, and at that time, we were very much into anonymity.  

Allan: I see.

Dave: So let’s see what it turns into, but... You’re talking with me, and I don’t want to tell you so much about where I grew up and what makes me tick as a person. We can definitely talk about the band, and keep it more general about that kinda stuff. Or maybe about upcoming plans or something. We try to keep No Neck Blues Band as an entity unto itself, and not my name, or Keith’s name, or anybody else’s name. We try to keep it as general as we can.

Allan: You seem to be the contact person – is there a reason for that?

Dave: I guess nobody else wants to be, and as with any kind of undertaking, everyone goes into the role that they’re comfortable being in, y’know? From the beginning – the band was already going when I first met these guys, back in 1993, and it was Keith and Jason and Pat, and this other guy named Dave, who left the band when I joined it. I saw them play a show, and they were real underground guys – like, they didn’t talk to anybody. They all grew up in Brooklyn, and they had their Brooklyn scene, but – I’d moved to New York thinking, “Oh, I want to be involved in the music scene!” I was much more outgoing and more social in those regards, so just naturally, when I joined the band, I went into that role.

Allan: Right.

Dave: But I also never wanted to be the kind of guy – like in a jazz sense, I never wanted to be the kind of guy who’s putting my name out there, like, “the Dave Nuss Group.” I never responded to that so much. But I ended up, because of personality stuff just [adopting a spokesperson’s role], and some of the other guys are a bit more introverted or whatever, so it’s not really in their nature so much.

Allan: Is that the reason why the band prefers to keep a low profile? Is it because of introversion, or because – like, it doesn’t sound like you’re that fond of the current state of music writing.

Dave: No, no, no – I don’t want to give that impression at all. I think the low profile probably just has to do with the music itself. It’s just not a pop kind of music, so part of our sense is that there’s just no reason to run around ramming this down people’s throats, with a kind of promotional attack... It’s not (laughs) – we’re never going to sell that many more than maybe a couple thousand CDs, and we don’t really have aspirations to do that, because it’s not really appropriate... So the low profile comes maybe as much from that. It’s not so much a deliberate statement, or that we have a problem with these certain things. I think it’s just not, um, appropriate for what the project is about. Does that make sense?

Allan: It does, but... I’ve read some of the band’s stuff online, and this thing that was in the Intonomancy CD case. “Hell exists on earth? Yes. We won’t play in it. That’s us.”

Dave: Oh yeah! (laughs).

Allan (laughs): Which I think is brilliant. I mean, you guys seem to have put yourself in a certain position in regard the marketplace, where there are certain forms of success that you’ve decided you definitely don’t want anything to do with.

Dave: Like what? Like Britney Spears? I’m trying to think of someone in our scene that got more popular. You mean like Animal Collective or something like that?

Allan: Or, well – John Zorn, without doing a whole lot of press, seems to have managed to become sort of a celebrity in his own way.

Dave: I think that goes back more again to the jazz question, where you get your name out, you write lots of insane music, you appropriate lots of people’s styles, and you regurgitate it out your own thought process... and then you make a name for yourself. Thurston does that, O’Rourke does that. They use other people’s things, like David Bowie or something. I kind of think of all these guys in the same way, all these personalities. O’Rourke is a perfect example, because he’s such a musical genius. He could hear any kind of music and play it, or reproduce it. So there was a certain period where he was into this AMM stuff, then he was into his Fahey stuff, then he was into something else, and he could do it all perfectly! And you see these shows, and you think, “Wow, this guy’s really great.” I think guys like O’Rourke or Zorn or Thurston, those guys, they use other people’s stuff, and they’re always feeding off other people’s scenes, but they make it their own, they have their own thing...  And so, by the time that whole process happens with No Neck Blues Band, it comes out as No Neck Blues Band. It doesn’t come out as Dave Nuss. It doesn’t come out as somebody else, you know? It’s like – that’s the entity that we want to take the foot forward into the public eye.

Allan: Okay, I think I get it.

Dave: So therefore - because it’s a collective, it’s not the project of a single person – it stays a bit looser, and less defined, and sometimes maybe more difficult to pin down. Although I think we have a very defined aesthetic, and I think it’s quite recognizable. It is comparable to the Zorn thing – No Neck Blues Band has a sound, John Zorn has a sound. But he made it into, like, an empire. And I think that we know him because he had a certain intention to be that way. It has not been our intention – not because we’re against cats like Zorn, it’s just not what we do.

Allan: Yeah.

Dave: It’s a bit more esoteric. And I think because of that, we wanted it to be a little bit more shadowy. Or it just is much more shadowy.

Allan: I like how with the CD packaging there’s very little there to respond to, other than the music.

Dave: We usually try to get a singular iconic graphic. Like, Intonomancy has that diamond, Qvaris has the eggplant... little things like that, one image you latch onto. And yeah, of course, I think what you’re saying is right. It’s about the music. With John Zorn, you’ve got his music, which spans a gamut of about a zillion kinds of things – and then you have his personality, you have his biography, and you have his image –

Allan: It’s almost a brand recognition thing.

Dave:  Yeah. Like, when Sonic Youth did Washing Machine, I remember reading interviews around that time, and that was what Thurston talked about a lot. He was like, “It seems like our band name has become sort of a brand name, a reference point that you put down,” and he was making a comment about that. I don’t think that that’s ever happened with us, or will happen with us. As much as there are some other bands that we have an associated sound with, I don’t think it’s really going to happen that way.

Allan: How successful are the CDs – you sell a couple of thousand?

Dave: Yeah, it depends. Like, the Revenant or the 5 Rue Christine stuff, those sold maybe three to five thousand, or something like that, and then if we put something out ourselves, its more like a thousand to two thousand. And then the records, we usually keep them limited to around a thousand or so.

Allan: Who does the art? It all seems like it’s comin’ from one guy...

Dave: Keith does all the art. The music is all selected and chosen and obviously played collectively, but then we leave it to him to sort of conceive it. Just because in the beginning, he naturally took on that role. And we all like his aesthetic, and feel it represents pretty well what we do. Jeff Ryan (aka John Fell Ryan), who split off earlier to make Excepter, used to be involved with Keith, and they used to collaborate on some of the earlier stuff, but that’s already been six or seven years...

Allan: In terms of money –

Dave (chuckling): We don’t make any.

Allan: You guys have to support yourselves with other things.

Dave: Yeah, yeah, we all work.

Allan: And you have jobs where it’s flexible enough that you can take time off to tour.

Dave: Yeah, sure. In New York, it’s pretty common to land these kind of jobs. And it’s a bit of a stress – a couple of us have kids, different things come in – but we have not really ever thought of the band as something that’s going to put food on the table. But now when we tour, we actually do come home with money sometimes, and we usually just put that back into our rehearsal space, paying the rent up there for a few months, depending on how much we have. But basically we’re not thinking of it that way.

Allan: You guys just got back from the Netherlands. Is the European reception way different?

Dave: Oh, yeah. I mean, you notice we don’t tour in America. I mean, we tried one time a year ago – it was exactly a year ago, I guess. Before that it had been five years. In general, though, we can go from town to town all around Europe. Last year, we did a six week tour all around Europe, from May til June. People just come out, they’re interested, they respond. It’s always a wide variety of people – old, young, different races, men, women... There’s a community there that seems to be in place, ready to embrace the kind of thing that we do. America? Not at all. I mean, we can head to Chicago, we can go to San Francisco, Vancouver was cool, Montreal and Toronto... And then everything else, we pretty much can’t play. It’s not feasible economically. Because these cities don’t really have subsidized things, the way they do in Europe, it’s just not feasible to move seven people around and make that worth our while. I mean – as much as we aren’t in this band to make money, we also don’t go into projects which will deliberately lose money!

Allan (laughs): Right.

Dave: We’re not that stupid.

Allan: What about Japan – you have a Japanese member. How did that come about?

Dave: Michiko? Okay. So, on our first, Letters from the Earth, there’s this guy playing on it called Shiraishi Tamio. He’s a saxophonist, he’s from Japan; he played a lot with Keiji Haino – I think he was in the first incarnation of Fushitsusha. He came from that scene, but he was living in New York, working this regular job. He used to come around to some of our early shows, and he used to ask, “Can I play before you guys?” I remember the first time he came and did this, it was like, “Well, who is this guy?” And he said, “I only have to play for like, fifteen seconds,” y’know (laughs). And we’d be like, “What?” And he’d get up there and he’d just blow the highest note possible on the saxophone, and then he’d be like (adopts a formal tone) “Thank you very much.” And that would be it, and it was completely devastating and bizarre. That kind of eccentricity is the kind of thing we really respond to.

Allan: (laughing).

Dave: So anyway, he eventually was doing shows with us, and you can hear him on the second CD, blowing that one note that he blows. And his girlfriend is this woman named Michiko, and so he was doing stuff with us and eventually she started coming around. And she’s a trained Butoh dancer from Japan, and she started coming around with the idea that, “Sometimes I’m gonna do weird performance while you guys play,” and we had some really, really intense shows with her early on, where she was more in that kind of role, as the Butoh dancer who was doing stuff with No Neck. And y’know, Butoh, you can do anything. It’s not like you walk out and do some kind of interpretive dance; she was doing really weird shit with the audience and with props and all kinds of stuff, and making everything very challenging, and really took things to the next level. We were always really excited about her, but then as the years went along, she kind of got a saxophone of her own and she kinda started throwing pots and pans around. Before you know it, she’s more like a musical member. And she still does some performance oriented things, and we’re always happy when she does, but many times she participates just as a vocalist or as a fellow musician.

Allan: She seemed to have a more – I don’t know how to put it – a more musical approach; watching her play, when she was on saxophone, it sounded more like she could have come from a jazz background.

Dave: Yeah, she’s classical, she’s a classically trained pianist. When she sings, and, I don’t know about the sax, but when she does piano especially, where the rest of us often work with textures and really simple rhythms and stuff, she often comes in and plays a melody or something. It’s just a different element to factor in.

Allan: It worked beautifully –

Dave: It’s interesting, that Vancouver set. What I’ve been doing over my Christmas break is going through all the recordings that we made out there, number one of that show. Number two, we stayed an extra couple of days at the Sun City Girls’ studio, and recorded on their ethnic instrument collection. I’ve been going through that stuff – we’re making an album for that guy, Eric Lanzillotta in Seattle, and man, that show in Vancouver was good. I just listened to it last night with Keith, and we were really happy with the way that show came out. I think we’re probably going to use it and make a whole record just out of that show, because there was something special about it: the sound was really clear. What happens with our band sometimes is that, if someone is coming in with a certain kind of energy, it makes shit go completely haywire, and it becomes quite chaotic. And that’s really great, and that’s part of it, but that show somehow, there was a certain kind of carefulness. Not tentativeness, but a care, I guess, is the way I would say it, that we heard in that music, that allowed all this amazing stuff to happen. It was quite a quiet show. It wasn’t like blown out noise at all, and the clarity of it and everything was just really lovely to us. The recording off the board also came out super, super good, so – yeah, you’ll be hearing that again, probably on vinyl.

Allan: I thought it was an amazing experience, myself. I’d eaten a pot cookie before I came out, and that always changes things, but it was an incredibly organic experience to me, it was one of the shows where I was struggling: as interesting as you guys are to watch, I was trying like hell to keep my eyes closed, which seems to be the appropriate way to listen to that sort of music. 

Dave: That show was not about some crazy performance, but it was more about making this music which embodies all the sort of things that we value. A lot of times when we’re playing a show, and the music isn’t getting there, somebody does something wacky from a performance standpoint, but I don’t think it was as much about that. I think you’re right – it was about closing your eyes and checking that out. Because now just to listen back to it without any visual element, it’s really complete. It’s all there.

Allan: Although, you know, there was the walking mattress.

Dave: Oh, the walking mattress! (laughs). I forgot. Okay. Well – he wasn’t miked.

Allan (laughter): It created quite a conflict in me: I just want to close my eyes and listen, but there’s a mattress walking around!

Dave: Thanks for reminding me about that. I totally forgot about that. The mattress eventually sat down at the drums, right?

Allan: It sat down on the floor. I don’t remember which member it was.

Dave: It was Matt.

Allan: Of course. Matt the Mattress!

Dave (laughs): Exactly.

Allan (chuckling): Okay, well... I’m curious about critical reception. One of our local critics, Alex Varty, was there, and what he has to say is just so fucking different from what you’ve said, what I’ve said, what – like, everyone who I talked to really got off on the show and we all seemed to feel the same way, but Varty, who writes for the Georgia Straight, was just really really harsh. Like, I can read you some of it, but I don’t want to hurt your feelings.

Dave: Yeah, please! I love to hear bad reviews! What was the nature of his critique?

Allan: Okay. I’ll go through it quickly here (thanks to Alex Varty for permission to quote):

Let’s get right to the point: in its Vancouver debut, in front of an undersized crowd in the capacious Arts Club Theatre, the No Neck Blues Band stunk out the joint.

Dave: Wow! Holy smokes!

Allan (giggles): Yeah, I know! (continues reading):

It’s unclear whether the members of this near-legendary New York City collective are normally this unfocused or whether they were merely dismayed by the poor turnout, but in any case they delivered little of the visionary noisemaking on which their reputation has been built.
Dave: Whoa!

Allan: It’s so strange, because I mean, he knows your music, and he didn’t enjoy the show. It’s like – what weren’t you on that night, Alex? (Note: Alex wasn’t on anything. We chatted later, and he agrees that that might have had something to do with our very different perceptions of the night. Anyhow, his review continues):
Consider yourself lucky you weren’t there.

Dave: Heh-heh-heh.

Allan (quoting still):

Now, I should explain that I’m not entirely opposed to studied incompetence as an aesthetic principle. The current vogue for performers who can’t really play their instruments is a perfectly valid and understandable reaction to an overabundance of machine-tooled sexpots and clinical virtuosos...
Dave: Hmm.

Allan (quoting):
—but what No Neck peers such as Wolf Eyes or the Nihilist Spasm Band lack in technical command, they supplant with collective intensity.
Both intensity and any sense of communal purpose were lacking from the No Neck Blues Band’s set, however. The evening’s high point was a long drone-rock rave-up that sounded like a clumsy imitation of what German avant-rockers Can were doing circa 1974;

Dave: Right, right.

Allan (Varty):
...the rest of the time, the performers wandered in solipsistic circles, blind and deaf to each other’s input.
Dave: Interesting.

Allan (finishing off):
It is possible, I suppose, that their disconnected twanging, banging, and clattering is intended as an extended metaphor for urban alienation, but that’s a stretch.

Allan: So, that’s the meat of it.

Dave: Is that online?

Allan: Yeah, I can send that to you.

Dave: Yeah, please do – I’d love to send that around to the band. It’s really not often enough that people step out and say that we’re complete bullshit, so it’s really nice when someone does that, because – you know, it’s more helpful to hear something like that. I’m really stimulated to hear what this guy has to say. It’s interesting to hear that impression.

Allan: Going back to Intonomancy, there’s something here in the notes about bullshit, too. “What is that sound? Intonomancy. Intonomancy? Bullshit! – And maybe that’s true, and that’s what we said, but listen here – what is this? This is a piece of sound. Listen to what we’re going to tell you now.” 

Dave (laughing): It’s also funny, this bullshit thing, because when we played a show in Haarlem, in Holland, just a couple of weeks ago. It was in this little classical music recording studio – a very intimate space. It was a sold out show, meaning like 70 people, I think, was the capacity; it was a very small room. Interesting set, you know – maybe not as good as Vancouver, but maybe along those same lines, and as soon as the last note rang out, someone from the audience just yelled, “BULLSHIT!” (Laughs). And we were like, whoa, that’s a pretty strong response! That never happens, you know? So we stopped the music, and we just said – because it was so small and intimate – “So, the person who said that, let’s turn the second half of tonight into a discussion. We’d like to know why that person thinks this is bullshit.” And we weren’t being confrontational at all. We’re curious about it, y’know? We were really trying to be like, “We’re not trying to start a fight, but this is really interesting.” But the person didn’t step forward and say, “I said it.” So now it’s nice to have to have this writer coming out...

Allan: Yeah, Alex steps right up.

Dave: One important thing about our band is that it’s not that we’re non-virtuosic. Each one of us knows how to play our instruments really, really well, and we each have our own side bands, aside from No Neck, where we completely play our instruments in the way their supposed to be played. With No Neck, we have a different approach to it. I would say it’s not – we’re not being deliberately being non-virtuosic, we’re just playing the sound that has developed that seems to work in the context of that group. We’re not being deliberately anti-music or something.

Allan: Is that true, though? Because I remember you doing things like playing your cello upside-down...

Dave: Ohh! That’s a good point, so... One of my things I sometimes like to do is to create a situation wherein it is difficult to play an instrument in a normal fashion – like, put the drum sideways, or the cello upside-down. Yeah, so what’s that about? I guess maybe you just nailed me on that!

Allan: (laughs).

Dave: I’m not thinking of, “I’m going to do this so I can’t play like Yo Yo Ma,” or something – it’s just kind of more fun to do it that way.

Allan: It seems like you guys want to challenge notions of what music is. There’s stuff you really don’t want to do. Like, in anything I’ve heard, you tend to stay away from is singing, say, although there’s some on the Sticks and Stones CD...

Dave: Well, one of the things we do try to stay away from is frontman-ship, you know? And that was one of the issues we had with Jeff, who left for Excepter, because he naturally was this figure – do you know who I’m talking about? Jeff Ryan. He was in our band from ’94 to ’99, and he left and he made his own band called Excepter, which is a really good band. They’ve got a bunch of albums out, it’s worth looking up. But in our band, he wanted to be a frontperson. He used to take off his shirt and grab the mike and be like a lead singer – he wanted to be Robert Plant or something. And he was crazy, so I really liked what he did, because it was always really bizarre, but then when we went into the studio to do Sticks and Stones, he was kind of saying, “You guys lay down the backing track and I’ll go in and overdub my vocals on top,” and that was – suddenly we all realized that’s not what this band is about, you know?

Allan: Hm.

Dave: This band is about doing something as a collective in that moment, but it’s not about going back and revising and working on something, to create something else, other than what happened originally. So he was always stepping outside the collective a bit to be in that role of center of attention or frontperson, and that eventually was something that we said, it doesn’t really work for this band as much. And it’s great that we parted ways; he’s the only person that’s ever left the group, and it was a great thing for him, because he started his own band. He controls it, he gets to be that person that our band was resistant to allow him to be. And we’re really good friends and we play shows together and there’s no bad blood, because it was totally appropriate that he left. 

Allan: The singing on Sticks and Stones is actually his, though. 

Dave: Yeah, most of it. Like, there’s one little track – the last track, I think, is kind of like a little hidden track, and he’s lead-singing on that. Yeah, and there’s other stuff which is more wordless vocal, that we all do – chanting things and stuff. And Michiko often sings now, too, wordless chant-style vocals, and that stuff is cool because it’s all in the music. But I think if someone grabbed the mike and started doing a hip hop rap or heavy metal thing, putting words to it and stuff like that, it wouldn’t be appropriate.

Allan: I’m curious. Musically, you’re very dissimilar, but do you ever get looked at in light of the post-rock thing, with bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and such?

Dave: Not that I’ve read – what do you think?

Allan: I’m just wondering, because – for the longest time, what I saw them doing was totally not trusting popular music, not trusting the whole rockstar personality-centered egocentric bullshit that’s out there. I saw them play, and Efrim Menuck – who is sort of the frontperson now, for Thee Silver Mount Zion, his hair was like, hanging down in his face – you couldn’t see his face through the entire performance. And there were no vocals at all, nothing like that – they tried to keep a great deal of distance between themselves and that kind of thing. In some ways it makes sense to look at both you guys as a reaction to the marketplace and the state of music now.

Dave: I suppose so, yeah. It’s interesting that you say that. I don’t think I or any of us have a problem with the idea of that, of someone being a frontperson, of someone engaging with the audience, or singing, or becoming, like, a star. I just think we all just felt for what this thing was. It was not how the No Neck Blues Band developed. But now look at Jason on the side, he’s got his band called the Coach Fingers, and it’s Jason singing and playing his guitar, and he plays live and he’s like the frontman who sings all these country songs. And Dave, also from the band has a new group that’s the same thing, and I have a metal band on the side that has, like, two female lead singers – more traditional stuff. I don’t think we’re against it.

Allan: Oh.

Dave: It’s interesting about the Godspeed thing. We played a gig in Austria last year with Thee Silver Mount Zion. Maybe there might be some philosophical thing, but musically I don’t think there’s any relation (to No Neck).

Allan: No, no. And what they do now is radically different from Godspeed, because now they are singing and presenting themselves as people.

Dave: That’s what was funny – we played first, and then they played, and we had a friend who was backstage; it was, like, a common backstage area. And he was telling us later that, “Oh yeah, while you guys were playing, all the Silver Mount Zion people were in the back being like, ‘God, this band is such a bunch of bullshit!’ (laughs). ...To get back to the bullshit thing, saying it about us. ‘Cause we had a really whacked-out show that night, dragging instruments across the stage and throwing shit into the audience. Fake blood, and – it was a very theatrical show, and I think those guys were like, “We really can’t relate to what’s going on onstage right now.” And by the same token, when they played, too, we were like, “Well, this is kinda a nice friendly sound, but it’s not really speaking to us.”

Allan: Do you guys have any affinity for Dada, or art movements like that?

Dave: Absolutely, yeah! Now we’re talking – that’s much more of an essential influence, Dada and early Surrealist stuff. Yeah, for sure – that’s the kind of performance and art that I and a lot of the other guys look at and find a common sense of purpose in. There was a great Dada show here at the MOMA here, I don’t know if it travelled... I’m sure you’ve seen a bunch of that stuff.

Allan: Not as much as I should or would like to. But, uh – so – a couple more questions – I want to ask you about John Fahey, and then I want to talk about Krautrock a little bit. How did you get hooked up with Fahey?

Dave: The Fahey thing happened – let’s see, I gotta rewind the tapes a bit. He was around, let’s see – he started doing those shows again, when was that – in the late ‘90s, and he was hooked up with Thurston and O’Rourke and those kind of people, and we were all hanging out with those guys too at that time. Keith and a couple of other guys in the band – Jason – are huge Fahey fans, and Thurston was like, “Yeah, you guys should come – I’m gonna be driving with Fahey to do this show in Philadelphia,” or DC or somewhere, and me and Keith just like drove around with Fahey and Thurston doing stuff. Eventually it came to the point that he needed a place to stay in town, so he stayed at my apartment. I had kind of a big loft at that time, where our rehearsal studio is, so he stayed there. And we had this building in Harlem called the Hinthouse, and I was on the top floor. The place was filled with these amazing, beautiful women all the time, for some reason. We were close to the art community... Fahey fell in love with the place. He fell in love with Michiko, first of all. Then he fell in love with the woman downstairs, this photographer. And then he fell in love with somebody else. And so he was just in hog heaven in this place, and he would hang around while we rehearsed. He just sort of became part of the community. And then from that point, all that stuff, mixed with the common sense of musical purpose – when he was checking out what we were doing and how we were living, and what the whole scene was about, he just said, “This is what I’m into. We’re the same.” It was a great, great meeting. And then from that point, he said, of course, “You guys should do something for Revenant, and we should travel together.” So of course we did all that stuff.

Allan: Was there a conscious attempt with the Revenant recording to make something that had a connection to primitive folk music? With the singing on it, it sounds like more of a roots album – and I think a banjo pops up at one point –

Dave: That’s what’s funny. We said – we made that album with Jerry Yester, who’s a great producer. We went down to Arkansas to record there for three days in his little basement studios. Jerry made these interesting records in the ‘60’s – you might look him up. He played in the Lovin’ Spoonful, he produced Tim Buckley albums, had an album under his own name for the Straight label – Zappa’s label – so he’s an interesting figure. But we really went down there pretty blindly. We sent him some demos of our stuff, and he was kind of like, “I don’t know what the hell you guys are doing” (laughs). And we said, “Look, just trust us, we’ll come down – we don’t know what you’ve got, either, but we’ll see what happens.” And we showed up in his studio, and everything was there – banjos, dulcimers, a piano, a drum kit, which we had never used before in the band. Y’know, stuff like that, and it was like, “Whoa, let’s see what we can do with all this stuff!” It was very much unpremeditated. But it was the first time we’d been in the studio, so we could hear each other for the first time – which was kind of an exciting thing – and then second of all, there’s all these acoustic instruments. It really came about quite spontaneously and unpremeditated.

Allan: Huh.

Dave: But then what came out was this kind of weird, kind of folk, “American Primitive” thing, because we were not virtuosos on those instruments at all. We could only play them in very rudimentary ways.

Allan: It works perfectly for the Revenant record to sound that way.

Dave: I think so, yeah. If we were gonna do one, that’s the one we should do it for. And it’s interesting now, I’m mixing the one we recorded down at the Sun City Girls’ place on all their ethnic instruments, and I was thinking, “Whoa, this is kind of a mix between Sticks and Stones and the Embryonnck record.” It’s kind of got that feel because, again, we’re playing on a lot of acoustic instruments which are unfamiliar to us, so it’s quite primitive. But it’s not related to banjos and dulcimers so much as it is gamelans and other kind of things. So I think it’s going to end up being somewhat related to both of those records, but hopefully the next step beyond, because I think we’ve just gotten better at playing together since then.

Allan: In terms of premeditation, when you guys sit down to play, do you have themes or ideas that you’ve discussed? Just how improvised is what you do?

Dave: It’s all 100% improvised. That’s the main premise or thrust of the group since its inception, is that there will be no discussion. Very, very rarely, we’ve said “Okay, start with two drums.” Maybe once every two years, somebody says something like that. And everybody else looks at that person and says, “Why don’t you go fuck yourself? I’m gonna start however I wanna start!” (laughs). It just doesn’t really work. The personalities in the group don’t allow for someone to tell someone else what to do. You know, every band has a dynamic: there’s someone who writes the songs, and there’s someone else who’s really good at playing a lead solo, but is not the guy who writes the chords. Everybody has a different role, but not everybody can be a Bob Dylan or a big leader-figure, or it’d just be a pile up. No Neck is very close to that, because everyone is our own sort of leader and type of personality. It doesn’t ever go very well, for someone to try to dictate how things should go. So we never have, and that’s how we’ve figured out how to get along, is just show up and play. We don’t know how long we’re going to play for, we don’t know if we’re going to do a second set, we don’t know who’s gonna play what instrument – nothing. We didn’t know Matt’s gonna come out with a mattress on his head. It’s totally 100% improvised. If we had a rule, that’s it.

Allan: So there’s never an attempt to replicate anything?

Dave: No no no no no. Never. That was the one thing, also, in the studio, with Revenant, that was the only time that came up. First off in the studio, Jeff said, “Let me overdub some vocals,” and we were like, “no overdubs” – which we still have never done – and second of all, there’s that little kind of rock tune at the end, the last piece, and we played that just by accident, and I sort of said, “Gosh, if we tried to play that again, we could probably do it a lot better.” And everyone just said, “What the fuck are you talking about? We can’t try to replicate that again!” That was the last time that ever came up.

Allan: And the vocals on that aren’t overdubbed, he did that live?

Dave: He did that live, but – it’s kind of half-ridiculous, in a way! And that was the thing: are we gonna be this kind of band, that’s going to do this sort of stuff? If we are, we definitely know how to play a lot better than this. But it happened spontaneously in the moment that we just started doing that thing. The point of the band at that time was more a documentarian thing: we’ll just document it, and let it be that.

Allan: Okay.

Dave: And then eventually you have Keith and Jason and Dave breaking off to make that band called Suntanama. I don’t know if you know those records on Drag City.

Allan: I don’t know the solo side projects at all.

Dave: They had two records on Drag City that are much more like, rock-folk songs. From the Revenant thing, some people got really interested in doing that, but not to do it in No Neck: to make a different band that would do that.

Allan: What’s your metal band called?

Dave: It’s called Under Satan’s Sun. We’ve only been together for a year, we’re just starting to get out an do gigs. There’s another – Pat and Matt have a black metal band that’s called Malkuth, and they have a record that’s about to come out on Hospital. And then Dave’s band is called D. Charles Speer. So we all have these solo things going on the side...

Allan: Metal, huh?

Dave: I really love metal, Pat really loves metal, but it’s not really appropriate to start bringing out the bar chords in No Neck – it just doesn’t sound that good. Although hearing the Vancouver thing, it’s funny to hear back, because there’s a certain part where... Pat’s a singer in a black metal band, and you know what that singing is like, and there’s a part in that Vancouver set where he starts singing like that, but it’s not over a heavy metal guitar chord, it’s over a thumb piano and a cello. So it’s really weird, you know? So people bring that stuff into the band, but it stays non-idiomatic, because there’s not a backing band that’s in the same style. Jason is playing his folk stuff, and someone else is doing something else, so it gets to be a weird conglomeration. And I think that makes it something really entirely new, which is exciting for us.

Allan: So, Embroynnck (I pronounce it “EmbryoNeck.”) Or (I remember his pronunciation, and correct myself: “Embryonic.”). Sorry. How did that come about?

Dave: Yeah, it’s okay, it’s not really clear how to say it. It’s kind of like a play on “Embryonic,” the word, just spelled a little differently. Embryo has always been one of my favourite bands, personally, and a couple of the other guys in the group really liked them too. Some of us liked them for their music, some of us for the legacy of just who that band is, and what they represent over their 35-year plus history. Early in the 1990’s, when No Neck started doing vinyl, I started sending records to Christian Burchard, the main guy, and just kind of saying, “What’s going on? Here’s our calling card – what have you got?” Not expecting anything; they’re this totally untouchable thing. Amazingly, he wrote and started sending records back, just as if you would send a record to the Double Leopards or something. And that’s part of their thing, although they’re quite well-established, in some ways – historically, at least – there’s no kind of pretension; there’s always a will and an interest and a connection in what’s going on in the underground. And our early records are pretty fucking weird. They’re a lot of long-tone, like, drone shit and scuttling percussion – pretty esoteric stuff, and he was definitely writing back, being like, “this shit is great, what are you guys up to?” And so we just kept a communication over the years, and we talked sometimes about trying to get together, going to Europe... but this was before email or any of that kind of stuff. Everything just seemed such an impossible dream, you know? You remember the days before the internet?

Allan: (chuckles). Not well, to be honest with you. It changed things quite a bit. What time period are we talking about?

Dave: This is like, ’93, ’94, ’95. I think I’d just gotten an email account, and maybe he did too, so maybe we did that, but mostly we were writing letters and trading records and all that. But the idea of booking a tour in Europe was just, like, inconceivable. And they had also never been to America before, so it just seemed like our relationship was going to be by mail only. And then as time went on, we did a few tours, we got used to that – then we started talking about Europe as a possibility. We said to him, “Hey, can we do some stuff with you?” The first year we went to Europe, we couldn’t put it together, but the second year, we did, and toured together for a week over there, and then he booked a couple of days together in a studio in Nuremburg, and that’s where that album was recorded. Do you know their music?

Allan: To be honest with you, I always though of Embryo as one of the more obscure Krautrock bands. Like, they’re one of the ones a lot of people don’t seem to know.

Dave: Yeah, what I like about them is that they made some quote-unquote “mistakes.” They made kind of one interesting definitive record, in ’68 (Opal), that, you know, you could be, like, “Oh yeah, that’s as good as Ash Ra Tempel, that holds up against all the other ones.” But then they made all these really completely ridiculous albums where they’re writing strange pop songs. It sounds a little bit like Steely Dan or something... And then they did all these weird records where they travelled to Afghanistan, and India, and recorded with Indian drummers and Moroccan whoever, and they made this whole smattering of stuff like that, then they came back and made some jazz records. They’re all over the fuckin’ place! And again, I like that. I think that’s why they’re not referenced as much, because they’re just so hard to pin down. They’re so constantly creative, and so constantly seeking out new things – it’s about the lifestyle, for them, and the product is sort of an afterthought. It’s like something that kind of gets spit out of the machine, rather than being a deliberate attempt to portray a particular thing. It’s like, “Oh yeah – record! Here it is.” ...And so now, they tour all the time – they have this ambulance that they drive around in. They never stop, they’re just – from one city to the next, playing in front of three hundred people or playing in front of three people, it doesn’t matter. They’re just out there, and he just records his shows on cassette, puts them into his computer, and makes a CDR; makes a black and white Xerox cover and puts it in there and just sells CDRs out of the back of his van all the time. It’s just funny. It’s like some kind of strange entity, but I have a lot of respect for it, not because everything they’ve ever done is the best shit ever, but because the whole project is just so overwhelmingly ambitious and dedicated to this kind of esoteric and abstract music and exploration. That’s what I like about it. Christian is constantly inspired by stuff that he sees and hears, and constantly wanting to be a part of it, and constantly wanting to make more music and connect with more people. I’m just so inspired by that guy.

Allan: Yeah.

Dave: And so our record with them was just another blip on the radar screen for him. For me it was like, “Whoa, this is the most amazing thing that ever happened to me!”

Allan: It’s an amazing album, and it had an amazing affect on the way I listen to your music, because I didn’t hear a whole lot of Krautrock in it, when I first started listening to your music. But somehow listening to Embryonnck, it’s really upped the amount to which I’m conscious of Krautrock in your music.

Dave: Great.

Allan: It’s an amazing recording.

Dave: Well, what they did for us is, they brought in melody to what we do. The Krautrock stuff is great, because it’s psychedelic and freaked out, but there’s also this incredible sense of melody. That’s always what I feel about Ash Ra Tempel, and Can and everything – you can go back and sing those songs and you can really latch into it. Although they’re not constructed in a typical popsong format. Playing with Embryo really did that. We were there kind of scratching and scraping along and doing stuff that we usually do, and then there was Christian playing the vibraphone. No matter what you do to a vibraphone, it always sounds like a melodic instrument! Or there he was playing the dulcimer, and there’s this other guy playing the oud, and – it just brought in a certain thing. And they had these melodies that they’d rehearsed. They’re 100% improvised, too, but because they play all the time, there are these melodies they latch into, and when they’re in the van, Christian plays for them African music and whatever and says, “Let’s try to do this kind of melody tonight.” So that’s what they brought in, and I just think it makes that record more listenable than the average No Neck record.

Allan: And has it has an effect since, on Qvaris, like?

Dave: . To me it was interesting because we got into 16-channel recording, and so I really like Embryonnck because it had a really clear sound. But other than that, no. I think it was a particular moment in time, for us, that we did that, and Qvaris was more sort of back to our thing. And the Sun City Girls recording, some people will say this is another version of Embryonnck, but it doesn’t have those kind of ethnic melodies in it. Maybe the answer to that is probably no

Allan: Qvaris, what does it mean? Is it just a made up word?

Dave: Yeah, it’s just made-up.

Allan: Okay. How about playing on wharves and in odd public spaces – um, is that like, an apocryphal story, have you done that, do you still do that?

Dave: We have this guy that has a lot of footage, and we made a DVD out of it, because it’s all that – it’s us playing outdoors and all that stuff. He needs to put it out! We love to do that. For whatever reason, we don’t seem like we do it as much anymore. It’s quite a lot of work – New York really changed, let’s start with it that way. New York in the 2000’s is very different from New York in the ’90’s. The ‘90’s is when things kind of started to change... The city really went into a lockdown when Giuliani became the mayor. And it was like, you couldn’t do anything without having a permit or some official statement saying, “You can do what you’re doing.” New York before that was very free – which is why there was more crime, but also you could just take your instruments into the middle of the park and play. Now if you do that, the SWAT team comes out and says like, “What’s going on around here,” and searches your pockets for pot and makes you disperse.

Allan: Ah.

Dave: As I’m saying that, it’s sounding a little bit like an excuse. I mean, I think, also, we found other outlets for our music. The way our band originally was, we tried, in the beginning to play in clubs a couple of times, and literally, the clubs would be like, “You can’t play here anymore,” you know? And so we had to think: where can we play? We want to present our music to people. We did some stuff in little theatre-type spaces, and then we said, lets try taking this out of doors. So between ’94 and 2000, we did these yearly things at this boat basin on the Hudson River, and we did stuff in this park in Chinatown. It became this fascination for us, to do this in public places.

Allan: Were these promoted gigs? 

Dave:  Kind of. Sometimes they weren’t, sometimes they were. We would let our friends know. And then other than that – we didn’t put it the papers, because you never quite knew what was going to happen. We couldn’t really promote that stuff, because it wasn’t quite official. There was one of these years where we did it in this boat basin, and there was a restaurant nearby and someone called the cops, so there were a few interruptions like that. We couldn’t exactly take out an ad in the Village Voice. And also, we didn’t ever charge admission, so there wasn’t a budget.

Allan: What about audience members screaming bullshit?

Dave (laughs): We didn’t have too much of that kind of stuff! It’s funny – in the outdoors, our music kind of drifts away, sometimes – like if you’ve heard some of these recordings, The Birth of Both Worlds, and there’s another one – Parallel Easters – they kind of document some of our outdoor experiences. Our first CD, Letters from the Earth, was recorded on a rooftop, and so was our second CD. The sound doesn’t fuck with you. Even if you hate it, it’s not directly confrontational. Whereas if you go see, like, a noise show now, often noise musicians assault you with a high treble or a low bass. Sometimes our music was like that, occasionally it still is, but when you’re outside, the frequencies don’t operate on the listener in that way. Sometimes people would just walk past and be like, “We don’t really know what that is.”

Allan: (laughs).

Dave: More often than not, we’d have curiosity seekers who would say, this is kind of interesting. I don’t think we got new fans from it or something, but I think people would say, this is interesting, that this is happening in a random public space. And even if someone’s playing a high pitched feedback, that sound is just going up to the clouds. It doesn’t really confront people like that.

Allan: The Taj Mahal Travellers, the Japanese band, were also famous for playing in odd public spaces.

Dave: Yeah, they got around. I saw some film about them recently...

Allan: Any other antecedents? I sometimes think of Don Cherry as a distant affinity, because he was very bohemian and primitivist and getting away from established structures...

Dave: Yeah, when he went to Scandinavia, I love all those records – the Gamelan stuff, and there’s one record called the Organic Music Society, and everyone in the band was like, “Oh my God, that’s the greatest record.” And in fact, it’s interesting, at the Sun City Girls place, they had a piano that Michiko played a lot, and I was saying, “This is a little bit Don Cherryish.” For sure. So more names like, antecedents?

Allan: Yeah!

Dave: Well, we toured with that Swedish Band, Trad Gras Och Stenar - do you know them?

Allan: No.

Dave: They have a site, I think it’s, like, or something like that. They’re an old Swedish band from the late ‘60’s into the ‘70’s that kind of still exist, kind of communal rock-style stuff, really great inspiring music. Fahey of course. In terms of New York, in the early period, we were influenced by some jazz things – Charles Gayle, and William Parker. Although we never got asked to interact with jazz festivals. They kind of ignored us. But we were very inspired by that kind of music. That’s such a staple in New York, the free jazz scene.

Allan: Do any of those guys seek you out or listen to your music?

Dave: Well, there were these two guys early on that we interacted with a lot, Daniel Carter and Sabeer Mateen. Both those guys – like, me and Matt used to live together with Sabeer, and we made some records with him and Daniel early on, free jazz-oriented stuff, when I was playing drums and Matt was playing acoustic bass. Some of the other guys were more into rock stuff, like, a band called Circle X, that was a weird New York rock outfit, kinda damaged rock stuff. And I really like that guy Rudolph Grey, who had this band, the Blue Humans. He was pretty interesting. And of course, the first No Neck concert I went to, when I wasn’t even in the band, they were playing with Borbetomagus.

Allan: Oh cool!

Dave: So those guys were on that scene too.

Allan: Okay. Two final questions: do you guys ever alter your consciousness before playing or when playing?

Dave: We – I think we only attempted to actually take acid and play music once. It was not necessarily successful. We played for hours and hours, but it ended up being kind of just throwing shit all over the place, not really very musical that much. Oh. There was one other time, too. Actually, there’s a 7 inch, that’s inside this one record we did called Ever Borneo, an LP – the green one – there’s one of two different seven inches in each record, and there’s one, I think we used the bandname Montana Morning, but anyway, we were on mushrooms when that was recorded. So not so much. Sometimes people smoke grass before, but we usually agree that even that doesn’t work. We try as much as we can to have a pretty strong awareness of what’s happening. Of course, in the earlier years, we were trying to experiment with that more, because you think, definitely the way to play great music is to get really fucked up and do it. But I think that things just kind of started sounding the same after awhile, and people wanted to be more active and aware. You know, people will have a few drinks or something, before...

Allan: This guy Alex Varty, who didn’t like what you did, who used the term “solipsistic” – “the players wandered in solipsistic circles” –

Dave: I like that, yeah.

Allan: It’s a good turn of phrase. But you guys do really listen to each other, right? Or in a backwards way, is he onto something – do you guys sometimes try not to listen to each other?

Dave: Well, the whole notion of trying doesn’t really come into effect so much. And it’s interesting in hearing that show – I was thinking a lot about that. He liked the part where the drum jam comes together, and often in our music, a repetitive rhythm is the kind of thing where we get united. But that’s also the kind of thing that puts you in chains, as a performer, you know what I mean, because you’re like, “Oh, I guess I gotta play along with that drumbeat now.” So I think it has a certain role, but what happens the rest of the time – when the music is more abstract and free, I think “solipsistic” would be a term that would be wholly inaccurate. We are listening to each other, but we’re creating, quite consciously, a different kind of vocabulary for music to use. So the interaction is not in a familiar way. We’re not playing in the same key, we’re not playing in the same scale, and generally we’re on the same dynamic. It’s more about – I actually don’t know, that’s why I struggle to define it, but it’s definitely not “Oh, I’m just going close my ears to what Matt’s playing.” I mean, it’s impossible to do that, it’s not there. I don’t think any of us exercise any kind of will, when we’re onstage, to do something with or against someone else. We’ve played together for so many years and so much, it’s like a natural way of being right now.

Allan: An organism.

Dave: So when I heard back the Vancouver recording, I was so happy, because we seemed completely linked up, but not because someone was playing something, and everyone else had to play along to it. It was completely linked up in terms of that weird No Neck thing, and I don’t know what it is, and I don’t think anyone will ever really quite describe it. But I think it’s our own particular way that we’ve figured out. That’s why I’m excited that he said “solipsistic,” because if it seems that way, I feel – oh good! He doesn’t understand it, I don’t understand it, it’s not the right term: but it’s moving in the direction that I like! It’s implying that we each get to maintain our own individuality as performers, as musicians, but at the same time, we’re together as a collective. It’s walking that tension, you know?

Allan: The Nihilist Spasm Band, of course – they can’t play anything, conventionally.

Dave (laughing): Yeah, we played with them once. I noticed that. I liked it, but yeah...

Allan: They made a statement that when you get rid of sort of notes or chords or keys, when you get rid of all that stuff, the only thing you’re left with is each other.

Dave: Ohh! Uh-huh. Interesting! Nicely said, yeah, nicely said.

Allan: Okay, well – last question. Why do you think some people do say, “Bullshit?” Where does that come from?

Dave: Well, I wish the guy would have said. That’s why I’m happy to hear what your writer said, because I’m as curious as anybody else. Sometimes I can understand saying “bullshit” if something is deliberately confrontational. I don’t often think that our music is confrontational. So they’re making a clear thing, saying, the art that you’re making is shit.

Allan: The emperor is naked.

Dave: One of the obvious things is that it’s not hanging together in a familiar way, so they might be just like, “Well, it’s unfamiliar, and I don’t get it, so therefore it’s not good.” Which is a valid reaction. It’s all I can really think of. It sounds like your guy said, “What they’re doing didn’t fit into the definition of a band,” ‘cause we’re on our own trip. Something else I’ve heard, reading our reviews, is that “These guys should edit themselves a bit more, it goes on too long, it’s a bit noodly,” or something. And I think sometimes that’s a fair critique. Because we play together, and it’s all improvised, not every moment is the magical moment it all hangs upon, and the earlier years, we were always putting out double CDs and double albums because we just loved it all. Looking back, maybe I would have edited some of that stuff a bit more. But it serves a certain function.

Allan: And noodly parts are unavoidable.

Dave: What’s interesting about that Vancouver set is that I didn’t hear any noodly parts. It was right on, the whole time. I’m going to listen to it again today – maybe I was crazy.