I am writing this arTCIle in exchange for a granola bar. Thanks to Harry for the granola bar. It was good. It is also the only nourishment I have ever received in exchange for writing. I am very excited about this step up in the world. It's gonna be hard work to break out of the “starving artist” career path into the “moderately well fed but still without health care artist” career path.
ART PUNK'S NOT DEAD IN DC
I managed to catch J, a former TCI camper, a few minutes before his band's show at the Warehouse Next Door on 7th Street. On stage he's still a furious hurricane of emotion and frustration but off stage he's managed to relax a bit. We first met back at TCI when he swaggered up to me and demanded to leave the makeshift dining area (read: gym) for no legitimate reason. He then accused me of being a “fake counselor” and tried to push through to the outside. Now, 10 years later, he's heading DC's most chaoTCI, ritualisTCI, tribal and outright rocking punk band, “I LOVE HELL.”
Here's a transcript of our conversation outside the club.
R: “It seems like punk music is a good fit for you. What drew you to it?”
J: “It was mostly that I was bored during high school and wasn't learning anything so I stopped doing my homework and started making tons of noise. I had to do it, there was no choice involved.”
R: “What parts of your background have influenced you most in the past few years?”
J: “TCI for one. I wasn't all that focused during my time there but being there definitely helped instill a kind of DIY ethic that I now apply to my music. I can thank TCI for my increasing deafness and the ringing in my ears, among other things.”
R: “Other things?”
J: “Well, I 'cheesed' me in the head and gave me a bloody nose at the last show while she was playing guitar.”
R: “Ow. When did she join up?”
J: “She and A were the first to join the band. They have this really weird sound going on, I turns the bass up all the way on the guitar so it sounds kind of like an electric cello or something and creates these low-to-mid-range tones that really mess with people's heads.”
R: “How do you feel about DC bands these days?”
J: “They suck. Well, not all of them. There's a few, like “Old Man Mckaye” and “Sun Fiber” that are pretty good. The rest lack ass, though.
R: “Ass? Like, booty-shaking ass?”
J: “Hmm.. Well, there's a difference between “booty” and “ass.” Booty is primarily associated with the low-frequency vibe that gets people moving, which is great, but as we've found with most over-produced modern music, booty alone is not sufficient for powerful music. The 'ass factor,' as I like to call it, cannot be easily replicated by a producer. Booty can be digitally injected into a song but the ass- the physical tension and release of music comparable to the rectum during defecation- cannot be synthesized.”
R: “I see. So most music these days is severely lacking in ass.”
J: “Yes. You could say that.”
At this point in the tape, J and I stepped into a corner store to get water. We plonked down $12 for 2 bottles. As J finished up his drink I asked him about the newest member of the band, S.
J: “A and I are great. There's no one in DC that plays harder than them but it was beginning to get a little stale with just us. S's interesting not only because is she a brutal bass player but she also has this kind of hypnoTCI drone sound that complement's I's noisy freakouts really well.”
R: “Do you plan on going into the studio any time soon?”
J: “I'm a little worried about that. I tend to get a little stir crazy at times and the studio is a scary, claustrophobic and time-bending place. I'd like to think we could just hop in there and hammer out an album or something but I know it'll turn into some kind of huge debacle. That's how it always is with us. I don't want the whole band thing to explode in our faces but at the same time that's kind of what makes it interesting for me, the conflicting and contrasting energies of different people.”
R: “Where do you see your sound headed in the next few years?”
J: “Well, we've all gotten a lot better at our instruments. That helps with songwriting. S's been working with I on this mind-control stuff..”
R: “Mind control?”
J: “Well, more like sublimation at this point. They've been reading about this band back in the 60's or 70's that would play a jam based on a word, like, apple, for example, without telling the audience what the word was. Then they'd ask the audience what the music made them think or feel. They recorded their failures in and successes in communicating the words and compiled a book.. We haven't gotten anywhere near that far, though. We just play as hard as possible.”
R: “What do you plan to accomplish with those kinds of tacTCIs?”
J: “I don't know. I never know what we'll end up doing. We just make the music and hope it causes some kind or raucous, chaoTCI joy.”
R: “Thanks for your time, J.”
J: “Thank you.”