While April 1, 1988 technically marks the official date that Bruce Pavitt and his SUB POP records co-founder, Jonathan Poneman quit their day jobs and opened their business office for the first time, the roots of Seattle‘s groundbreaking indie label can actually be traced back as far as 9 years earlier to the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wa. After moving to the Northwest from the Chicago area in 1979, Pavitt started a radio show called “Subterranean Pop” on the college radio station KAOS-FM. On air, he would primarily showcase material by artists on independent labels and, within a year, Pavitt was producing a zine that shared both the title and focus of his radio program. In 1981, it was through that zine–eventually shortened to “SUB POP“–that Bruce began releasing cassette compilations of various independent acts from around the country, fascinated by the concept that each individual region had it’s own unique voice that was often going unrecognized and that, by showcasing these different scenes collectively, they would increase their exposure, not only between each other, but in general. Read the rest of this entry →
I recently had the opportunity to interview the legendary Jennifer Herrema while her band, RTX was performing at The Funhouse in Seattle. Aside from her talents as rock vocalist/song-smith/frontwoman, Herrema is also an accomplished writer/journalist (VICE, Dazed & Confused, Raygun), visual artist, producer (Palace Brothers, the Kills, etc), and fashion icon [she was one of the original "heroin chic" poster girls photographed by Steven Meisel for Calvin Klein in the mid-nineties]. Jennifer was also one half of Royal Trux, the highly influential rock group formed with her ex, Neil Michael Hagerty (Howling Hex) in the late 80s. After 13 years of playing together, the band split up in 2001.
A few years later, Herrema resurfaced -sans Hagerty- and a new band known as RTX (“Rad Times Xpress”) was born. Still fronted by Herrema, the new incarnation features members Nadav Eisenman, Kurt Midness, Brian Mckinley, and Jaimo Welch. The Seattle show was part of a two-week West Coast tour with newcomers Heavy Cream (Nashville, TN). RTX‘s long-awaited full-length “RAD TIMES IV” is due out in January 2012 on Drag City Records.
Just before dusk, I waited for RTX in front of the empty venue. The long, gray monorail loomed overhead, sliding itself inside the metallic EMP glob that represents what “rock ‘n’ roll” might have looked like. As the sun set behind the strange scene, RTX‘s van pulled up and I was taken aboard. “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins was playing on the radio.
“How’d you know it was me you were meeting with?” I asked the woman in front of me, recognizing Jennifer from photos that I had seen. “Well, Brian seemed to know you,” she replied. “He doesn’t usually talk to people otherwise.“ I had met Brian two days previous while night swimming with friends on Lake Washington. Kurt and Brian had come into my bar the next day and downed some tequilas, as well. Seattle is a small place in that way.
The van drove to the back alley, where the gear is loaded onto the stage. We walked down the street to a spot with remaining daylight and I took a few photos of the band. Afterward, Jennifer found a new Miata roadster for us to lean on while we talked. She lit her cigarette, balancing a plastic cup of white wine on her knee while I set up the recorder… Read the rest of this entry →
Tom Jenkinson (aka: SQUAREPUSHER) is the type of rare artist that I can’t imagine doing anything else except for working at his craft. What I mean by that isn’t that I couldn’t see him having any other occupation because he is destined to give birth to some of the best electronic music ever and that it is his calling… blah, blah, blah, etc, etc. What I mean is that I can’t imagine him doing ANYTHING else, as in going to the grocery store or playing boardgames at a dinner party with lifelong chums in his living room. His sonic creations are so elaborate, complex, and multi-dimensional that they often splinter into so many directions at once that the listener’s mind has no other option but to do the same. Separate corridors and paths open and close; platforms lift, raise and disintegrate. No one else is better at actually providing depth, layering, and a visual element to their music; seemingly creating something tangible and solid from simple audio. No one is better at making music that has the potential to physically give me an anxiety attack either, which is why my girlfriend hates it so much when I want to play it. Over the last decade and a half, the Englishman has twisted and mutated sound into so many varying directions that his only limitation appears to be his own imagination. His proficiency is ridiculous and his delivery suggests an obsession with perfection. This is why I have difficulty imagining him in any other element than in one of methodical experimentation, constant restructuring, and focus. I imagine that even when he’s making a sandwich, his mind is off trying to work out some ridiculous algorithm and, after he puts the bread away and the cheese back in the crisper, he immediately returns to his dungeon, eating with one hand and tweaking knobs with the other. He’s always appeared to me as some sort of crazy reclusive electro-alchemist, hibernating simultaneously in a futuristic lab and in a Medieval basement. Both hermitic and hermetic, residing in a hybrid yurt/hovercraft. As evidenced by the promotional image/album cover (above), Jenkinson’s latest project, SHOBALEADER ONE, is doing very little to dispel such outlandish suppositions of this character as a futuristic cyber-jazz druid. Read the rest of this entry →
Early last month, multi-Oscar-nominated actor, Edward Norton was invited to the Northwest as part of the 2010 Seattle International Film Festival. Beginning on June 3rd, with American History X, and ending on the 5th, with Spike Lee‘s 25th Hour, SIFF helped to celebrate the actor’s illustrious career by screening some of his most successful work. Norton was on hand to provide short personal introductions to each of the films, but the most substantial portion of the tribute took place on June 4th at the Egyptian Theatre and included the festival honoring him with their trademark Golden Space Needle award. The festivities at the Egyptian also featured a live interview with the actor and a screening of his latest project, Leaves of Grass. I was there for the events and, for an artist who’s managed to build a career off of his ability to shift characters effortlessly, often within the same role, I can safely say that Norton only exposed one of his faces that night. Read the rest of this entry →
Neckties are, arguably, one of the most pointless and unnecessary garments ever created. Thin strips of fabric tucked under a collar, don’t exactly provide a shield from the elements and, if anything, they create a potential hazard with their risk of strangulation. Think about all of the countless folks out there suffering from Pnigerophobia (fear of choking), who are discriminated against and turned away from fine dining establishments, simply due to their inability to adhere to rigid dress codes. You won’t catch Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad experimenting with any sort of neck-wear, because he’s aware of the tremendous likelihood of someone creeping up and trying to choke a mother fucker out. Ties are played out as Father’s Day gifts and are usually given in some novelty form that, no matter how entertaining, Pops couldn’t take to the “office” anyway. The aesthetic value placed on the necktie over the years is ridiculous and, beyond that visual stimulus, they are pretty much worthless. At least scarves have insulating properties. The production of the silk tie adds the element of touch into the equation, but fondling and adjusting your tie consistently gives off too much a sexual deviant vibe. With so many risks, it would be nice if the classic necktie could be less one-dimensional and updated for our space-age lifestyles.
What if there was a product out there that could retain that striking appeal, which would allow you to influence others, and combines it with the interactivity of a light-up magnetic backgammon tie? What if you could keep riding that debonair steez with the added benefit of stimulating your auditory canal? Now what if I told you that this technology actually exists?! What would you be willing to pay to get your hands on this modern day miracle? 4-hundred-thousand dollars? A crate of Klondike bars? The remaining balance on your EBT card? Drown a neighbor’s kid in a plastic pool? Take a hot rail of bathtub crank, blow the smoke in a raccoon’s face, and try to force-service it manually? Burn down a Hollywood video? Tase a cop? Break into a Rite Aid pharmacy in a luchador mask and hoop a stolen prescription of someone’s Estrogen? Sit through a Kenny Chesney concert… sober? Well, these miracle future ties do exist and are currently available for a bargain price (less than 100 American dollars!) Read the rest of this entry →