Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chris Arnett interview: The Furies and Duvallstar to play Pussy Riot benefit Sept 7th

Arnett meets Duvall, photos by bev.davies, not to be reused without permission

The Furies' Chris Arnett has played gigs with Siobahn Duvall and Duvallstar a few times now, and thinks she's utterly great - but had no definite plans when we spoke for the Straight to repeat the show-stealing collaboration on "Sonic Reducer" a few years ago at Richards on Richards, when they play in the same lineup September 7th at the Pussy Riot benefit at Iron Road Studios. It was a lot of fun seeing them do that song together, and totally delightful to discover that bev had captured the moment. When Chris and I spoke on the phone, we also talked about Arnett's pursuit of a PhD in Anthropology, and, of course, the new Furies' material that he'll be showcasing at the gig. He described "Prince Vlad," mentioned in the Straight piece, as "a recycled Furies tune from - fuck! - 35 years ago, and we never played it live, but we’ve got some recordings of it with Jim Bescott playing. So I’ve re-vamped it, so it’s kinda a riff on Vlad, the vampire, sucking Russia dry, blah-blah… but yeah, just something to have fun with, and it’s just kind of a rockin’ crazy tune. It starts out with this Valykyrie kind of beginning and then fuckin’ kicks off - because I like hard rock and roll and punk, and I’m really lookin’ forward to doing it again." 

The rest of my conversation with Arnett ran as follows:

AM: Been a long time! Do I gather you’ve been busy with your studies...?
CA: Yeah! I went through all my comprehensive exams shit this spring, written and oral examinations, which is a big chore - so I got over that, and I’m at the dissertation stage, so I can focus on more interesting things, like music and writing this dissertation, which is going to be a book - on post-contact Salishan rock painting - rock art. From rock and roll to rock art, it’s something I’ve been interested in for years, and it’s one of the reasons I went back to school, to kind of put all this data together with some rigour attached to it.

AM: Are there letters I should be putting behind your name, at this point?

CA: No, no, not yet. I still got a ways to go.

AM: It’s a PhD you’re working on?

CA: At UBC - the Department of Anthropology. So that’s fun. 

AM: I think you told me when last we talked that the Furies were going to be doing some studio stuff.

CA: Yeah, I’ve been demoing lots of material. I’ve got about 30 songs, but I’ve honed it down to about an album’s worth. The show’s given us a good impetus to get it recorded and out. Hopefully this year - I wanted to have an album out this year, but John (Werner, Furies’ bassist) works long hours in the set industry and Taylor (Nelson Little, the drummer) is the same - they’re both working guys.

AM: What’s the new album?
CA: The working title is, End of the Baktun

AM: A "back tune?" Is that something you do on a guitar?

CA (laughs): No, no, it’s a totally esoteric reference to the Mayan calendar. This is what 2012 is about - it’s the end of a baktun, which is 144,000-day period.

AM: I see.
CA: Conjured up by the elites, right? I’ve got a new song called “2012” that we’ll debut at this show, and it’s sort of a comment on the ‘end of the world’ kinda bullshit.

AM: How do I spell baktun?

CA: B-A-K-T-U-N. Maybe put a line over the top of the U.

AM: A line over the U? Okay (not within my capacities). So I guess we say the new album will be out for sure by the end of 2012, if there's a reference to 2012 in the title!

CA: Oh yeah, I want to get it out, one way or another, whether it’s just online - but I want to have a vinyl thing out, with some crazy cover.

AM: Cool. Any other comments on Pussy Riot? (See the Straight link above for more on that)

CA: It’s just so brilliant and inspiring when three young women in the space of a small performance can call so much attention to huge issues.This is something as an anthropologist that I’m interested in.

AM: It's surely the most effective protest against Putin that’s ever happened!
CA: Yeah! And it’s non-violent, y’know? They’re not donning balaclavas and gunning people down - it’s something totally different, and it’s inspiring women there, because that’s a harsh regime - all these state regimes are harsh. They’re confrontational, they’re patriarchal, and women are oppressed. And it’s amazing, in Russia, that they fought a bloody revolution in which millions were killed to get rid of this bloody church, and it’s in there like a cancerous fuckin’ thing… You know what it reminds me of is the Pistols, right when they kinda hit the scene, before punk became commodified like it is today, back in the day. [Arnett refers in specific to the timing of the release of "God Save the Queen" and the mocking Thames performance that accompanied it, which you can read about here]: "Oh my God! The Queen’s Jubilee! This is outrageous!" I remember the furor, even in sleepy Kitsilano, amongst my hippie older friends: “this is shocking, they’ve really crossed the line!” But they set something in motion, and I just love it - and they had the good music to go with it, too!

Read my old interview with Arnett about the Furies' backstory here, and - check this out - read Ferdy Belland's "guest review" of the Richards show pictured above, here! See y'all at Iron Road on the 7th!

No comments: