Hair Police – Mercurial Rites

illustration by Chris O’Neal

Bands in underground music seem to come and go quicker than ever, with fickle audiences shifting interests as attention spans shrink and browsers constantly refresh. What’s touted as extreme and exciting one month is often forgotten in the greater timespan as years and decades roll on. From their earliest days Hair Police has always been an anomaly, a strange mishmash of personalities and musical styles. Drummer Trevor Tremaine would be playing manic free energy drumming with a sparkle boa around his shoulders and white plastic sunglasses blocking his gaze while front-man Mike Connelly, shrieked in bouts of boundless hysterics and ripped at his shredded, detuned guitar. Dressed in black, a menacing coil that explodes on impact, his presence causing audience members to shake their fists in celebration. Robert Beatty, off to the side would be twisting bizarre frequencies like something out of the BBC radio phonic workshop, the whole while his cord wrapped around his throat like a noose. Watching them play became something to behold.

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by STEVE LOWENTHAL on 2/22/2013 in Features, Interviews | Tags: , , , , , ,

David Lynch interview

by MV Carbon
originally published, issue #8, 2008

illustration by Chris O’Neal

David Lynch has, so far, left us with an amazing and mind altering chunk of cinematic works. He doesn’t give out a lot of information when asked about the meaning or symbolism in his films. Although they are loaded with significance, he won’t let verbal descriptions smother the cinematic essence that lingers on and creeps back long after his films have been absorbed. He leaves it up to us to interpret them or to just experience them.

His newest film, Inland Empire, uses high def video to create a painterly murk that lurks. The colors bleed and so do the characters. The film’s soundtrack, which was created by Mr. Lynch, shakes the theater and is grafted to the image in a manner that conjures chills. He treats us with 3 hours of violence, decaying beauty, dual existence, carnival, and the darkest back staircases, back stages, and mysterious dwelling spaces you could ever wish for. The film sews itself through itself until something’s got to give… and it does.

Mr. Lynch has been honored with the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement award, at the Venice film festival, where Inland Empire was screened.

He’s recently finished a book titled Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, which is available at the end of December.

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by Swingset Magazine on 1/31/2013 in Features, Interviews

Dan Melchior interview

illustration by Chris O’Neal

Dan Melchior is an anomaly in the modern music world, even for the underground. As one of the world’s last truly great songwriters, Melchior’s voice grows stronger than ever over a string of recent releases by his “band” Das Menace. His music can’t be neatly partitioned into a narrow genre although one can detect elements of blues, vintage R&B, British psych pop and more recently even brazen experimentalism. His latest solo album, The Backward Path is a journey into the depths of existential dread, mortality and humanity as the record documents aspects of his wife Letha’s ongoing battle with cancer and their lives in the struggle. As their bills pile to the ceiling, unable to work, they have had to rely on the music community for help. As an artist that truly speaks about the world around him in the most honest of ways, The Backward Path is an experience that no other record this year can offer. The best albums are not an escape but a confrontation.

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by STEVE LOWENTHAL on 10/23/2012 in Features, Interviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mike Watt vs. Raymond Pettibon

Intro by Max Maslansky
originally published, issue #6, 2005

No Title ( I Was Just) 2004. Ink on paper 30'' x 22.25 ''

When swingset decided to approach Raymond Pettibon for an interview, it was agreed that it’s better to hear old friends yuk it up than two strangers grope in the dark for commonality. Enter Mike Watt. He’s known Pettibon since the early ‘80s, the salad days of L.A.’s punk scene. While Watt was spreading the overpowering gospel with the Minutemen, Pettibon was drawing cover art and posters for his brother Greg Ginn’s band, Black Flag. Watt and Pettibon have since gone on to new creative frontiers, but they still live where the scene started: the beach. The two got together for a conversation about art, politics, history, and everything under the California sun. Raymond Pettibon lives and works in Hermosa Beach, California. He recently had a solo show at the David Zwirner Gallery in New York and is slated for a retrospective at the Whitney Museum in late 2005. Mike Watt lives and works in San Pedro, California. His new solo album is fashioned as a “rock opera” entitled The Secondman’s Middle Stand, and is out now. Our recordings were a little spotty, but please bear with us as we join this conversation already in progress… continue reading "Mike Watt vs. Raymond Pettibon"

by Swingset Magazine on 6/28/2012 in Features, Interviews | Tags: ,


by Maria Raha  |  Photos By Tod Seelie
originally published, issue #7, 2005


Explosions of blistering stop-and-start static are knotted with agonizing, far-off, distorted vocals. Blankets of brutal honesty distill the human experience down to its barest, most intense—though not always angry—moments. Regardless of layers of chaos, the aesthetics of Prurient and Dominick Fernow’s label, Hospital Productions, are tightly wound, but always fluid. There’s no room for leaks, no loose ends, no squeaky springs; however, Prurient is hardly an assembly line of albums rehashing one consistent idea.

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by Swingset Magazine on 6/20/2012 in Features, Interviews | Tags: , , , , , , ,


click to enlarge

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by Swingset Magazine on 6/1/2012 in Interviews | Tags: , ,

Tor Lundvall interview

The music of Tor Lundvall is a post-modern midnight dream, a universe that exists unto itself. As an artist, Lundvall remains an enigma, having released albums for the last twenty years and never once performed live or been pictured on his records. He remains a blank figure even as his music reveals a richly profound artistic viewpoint. The effect of his music is akin to deja vu’, its seldom clear where sounds originate or end, a calling from somewhere distantly familiar transformed. As the years passed and the releases continued, the questions piled up. Dais Records has just done the world a great service by reissuing three seminal Lundvall albums Ice, The Mist, and Under the Shadow of Trees and combined them with one new album, Turning, for a complete seasonally themed box of ghostly minimal compositions, appropriately titled The Season’s Unfold. Each album, framed by Lundvall’s dramatic paintings as artwork, throws the participant completely into this shadowy abyss. With a discography and reputation approaching Jandek/Muslimgauze proportions, the release of this special CD box set has prompted the curtain to be peeled back. For those unfamiliar with Lundvall’s deeply hypnotic textual music, this collection is a necessary antidote to rote genre-ism and conformity found in most modern music. The Season’s Unfold is a haunting example of one of today’s most mysterious composers and a perfect introduction to the mist-soaked, minimalism of Tor Lundvall. There is truly nothing else like it. Swingset was able to coax this reclusive artist into answering a few questions via fiber-optic lines.

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by STEVE LOWENTHAL on 2/24/2011 in Features, Interviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Salvation interview

A few years after their debut album Of Unforgiving Wind was released, I caught Salvation play at the Cake Shop in New York City. Within moments, singer Matt Adis launched into the crowd like a bullet, only to emerge moments later covered in blood and broken glass, screaming like a vicious animal. The performance continued unabated.  After their set Adis was peeled off the hood of a car outside the venue and taken to the hospital. Rumor has it he was cut so many times, that it was difficult for the doctors to find the actual lacerations through all the blood. The band’s reputation for confrontation and sheer hubris is both impressive and frightening. Among the most violently anti-social in a new breed of nihilistic hardcore punk music, Salvation are so vehemently destructive and alienating that their music rings with true outsider authenticity. They claim part of no scene, their music strictly focused on internal issues rather than the political or social. Hardcore as a form is so rigid, that what separates the wheat from the chaff is in a band’s ability to convince the audience of the authenticity of its ferocious desires. This comes across in abundance on the band’s new album Morality Interactions, released on the iconic Youth Attack label. The fact that Adis and crew have survived the wreckage of their performances to deliver the aggressive existentialism of a follow up album is somewhat of a miracle in itself. That the record surpasses all expectations in fury and intensity, speaks volumes. We caught up with Adis, who also has a new book of drawings released on the Heartworm Press imprint, on the eve of the new albums release. Those seeking a view into this distressed existence should seek both out.

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by STEVE LOWENTHAL on 1/17/2011 in Features, Interviews | Tags: , , , , , ,

Mount Carmel interview

Mount CarmelThe dudes who make up Columbus, Ohios’ Mount Carmel are fellas of few words; or at least that’s what I can gather from this scantily worded e-mail message I got back after requesting an interview. I stare and stare at it wondering what the fuck I’m gonna make out of these five hundred or so words they gave back as a response. I check some notes I took drunkenly one night while listening to their debut LP on the Siltbreeze label and it’s just incoherent drivel. I’m really at a loss here. I guess it’s up to me – the writer –to actually do my job and buck up to convey this bands’ power and let their greatness be known to you, the lowly reader. The things I do for little to no money….really…

The real difficulty here is that I have nothing to say. And there really isn’t much to say in all honesty. Well, I guess I can say that when I laid the Mount Carmel album on the table a few weeks ago and let ‘er rip, I just stood there staring at the disc in disbelief while it span around and around in wonderful monotony. It wasn’t until the fifth or sixth spin that I actually gave a shit who these guys were and how the hell they made this record. Prior to that, I was too wrapped in just enjoying it to even care.

Mount Carmel is comprised of brothers Pat and Matt Reed on bass and guitar with seventeen year old drummer Kevin Skubak and they’ve been playing for about a year. The record they just dropped is nothing short of a gemstone for a simple reason; it’s real and honest with no intentions to join any clubs. Sonically it’s awesome because it sounds like Terry Reid fronting a band on Holyground (That ones for all you collector types who need that sorta validation) It’s a testament to the notion of a sound that will be timeless as long as the people behind it fucking believe in it. And yeah…I think that’s about it.

On with the interview…

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by TONY RETTMAN on 6/21/2010 in Interviews | Tags: ,

Dry-Rot interview

Dry-Rot are a band that has intrigued me for quite some time. I first got in touch with them back in 2007 when their vocalist Drew Wardlaw sent an e-mail thanking me for playing their first self released 7” on WFMU. We traded off e-mails back and forth. Interviews were started, but were left to the wayside here and there. We finally nailed one down three years later with their guitarist Jordan Darby chiming in as well. Their first full length ‘Philistine’ has just been released on the Parts Unknown label and is a serious early contender for record of 2010…and that’s not just some easy rock writer lip flapping. It’s a challenging and disorienting listen that can reference Void, The Minutemen and This Heat as easily as I can scarf down a roasted chicken. For you industry types, check them out at SXSW. For people like me who like to stay home and pet the cat, just rock the record and feel cleansed. Interview done via electronic mail January 2010…

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by TONY RETTMAN on 3/9/2010 in Interviews | Tags: , , , , , , , ,