Thursday, May 28, 2009

Update and Interview

So, things are happening!! There's the commission from the City of Olympia for the letterpress posters, I've been tapped to paint the Olympia Film Society's 26th Annual Film Festival poster, and I just found out yesterday that this downtown business association thingy is paying me $1000 to paint a bench!! Crazy. Right before I received the phone call about the bench commission, I was literally wandering around in the woods by myself having an existential dialogue about my place in the world.. feeling aimless/useless as an artist. Wondering if I should just go to Grad School and become a teacher. And then all of these projects fell in my lap! The Universe is indeed mysterious.

On top of all this great art news, I've been playing in a band called Western Hymn that is so inspiring to me.. I get to step back and play bass with two incredible musicians; I am learning how to work with a drummer, really figure out how to integrate the parts, for the first time. This kid Steve interviewed me for his metal (!) zine called Rot and Roll, about my old band, Bangs. Here you go!

1)you and maggie had bangs when you were in bangs. what are the advantages and disadvantages to having bangs? do you still keep your bangs cut?
The advantages to having bangs are two-fold: first, when grown to the appropriate length, they can be used a social defense-mechanism to avoid eye contact and hide one's shyness. secondly, if you have those premature wrinkles across your forehead from worrying and/or questioning your place in the world all the time, bangs can be a curtain of youth. yup, i still got bangs.

2)going through some youtube footage i noticed you dye your hair. how often do you dye your hair?
These are weird questions! Who cares? Ok, for anyone who actually cares.. I dye my hair on a whim when i feel like it. I usually do blonde, but then when it starts melting off from over-processing i go back to dark brown. i experimented with growing out my natural mousy-brown shade when i was 27 and it was BORING. so here i am back at blonde again. but let me explain that the name Bangs was never really about hairstyles.. it was a reference to many things, for me it was all about cacophonous noise, and for Maggie (I think) it had to do with her affinity for Lester Bangs.

3)do you still play in bands?
I took 4 years off to focus on visual art, but have recently started playing in a band called Western Hymn. I am super psyched about this band! I play bass, my friend Craig Extine (he was the guitar player/singer in the band The Old Haunts) sings and plays guitar, and our pal Kris Cunningham is the drummer extraordinaire. We're gearing up to do our first recording in the end of June.

4)besides birds and backgrounds, what do you like to paint?
Anything! Except people. I paint all kinds of animals.. tigers, raccoons, housecats, deer, foxes, penguins, owls. I paint on paper and on objects like tambourines. I paint on walls and on the floor, it's basically what I do all day long.

5)what mediums do you paint with and how long does it take to finish a picture?
I paint with acrylic on paper.. the size of the piece determines the length of time needed. For a bigger piece, like 27" x 36", it might take me two weeks.. I'm definitely not the kind of artist that can 'knock out' a painting in a few afternoons. I take lots of breaks to look at field guides and go on walks. I practice headstands while the paint dries.

6)how long have you painted and played guitar? how long after you started did you feel comfortable playing or painting?
I started playing guitar when I turned 17 (I'm 33 now); I received an awesome cheap pointy-headstock Yamaha electric guitar for my birthday! But I come from a musical family (my dad was a jazz drummer), so it's always been a part of my life.. before I played guitar I played violin for years. I would say I was fairly horrible at guitar for the first year, but also incredibly determined-- I practiced scales over and over in my room. I played in my first band at age 19, we were called Plastique, we were a two-piece that put out a couple of 7"'s on K Records. I was terrified at the first show (I've never been much of a ham or center-of-attention person), but after that I just let go and performing became incredibly transformational at best, and at the least, a good form of cathartic energy-burning. Visual art was always my first love (my mom's an artist and really creative), so I basically was on the path to becoming a cartoonist or painter when I got 'sidetracked' in high school by the punk music scene-- there were tons of great all-ages shows happening at that time. I didn't get back to art (aside from making flyers and tshirts, graphic design stuff) until I went back to school in my mid-20's and took a full-time painting course. I think I've always realized that you have to be willing to be REALLY bad at something for a while in order to get really good at it, so that's how I approached painting. Though I still get really nervous when I have art shows, way more so than when I play with a band. Because when I put up my pictures on a wall, you're really seeing what the inside of my head looks like, and that can make anyone feel a bit vulnerable.

7)what else do you do artistically?
I maintain my painting habit by doing graphic design; I have a line of t-shirts on the great site that has done just well enough to pay my cheap rent.. hooray! So, there's that. I make flyers for local venues, I'm involved in a cooperative printmaking studio called Community Print here in Olympia; I do letterpressing and silkscreening for various projects. I take photos for my blogg, I play records at my friends' bar for fun, I try to stay busy with my hands everyday.

8)what musical equipment do you play on?
For guitar, I play an '85 Gibson SG through a Marshall JCM800 combo amp. I also am strongly in favor of old Music Man guitar heads! I played on a variety of Music Man gear in the early days. I think RAT pedals are the best simple distortion pedal, but I don't play through one anymore. I have a tuner and a distortion pedal called a 'HOT CAKE' that I bought in New Zealand from the guy that builds them, Paul Crowther himself, the original drummer from Split Enz.. he gave me a really nice deal.
Now that I'm playing bass, I'm borrowing a bunch of gear. I'm playing a Univox Hi-Flyer 3/4 scale bass through an Acoustic head (not sure of the model), and an old Fender 15" speaker cabinet. No effects, just a tuner and guitar cables. Sounds great!

9)what influenced bangs' music and lyrics?
That's a separate question for Maggie and I. We both grew up in Olympia and are steeped in the early 90's punk scene, but have fairly different influences. I loved Black Sabbath, she loved the Who. I loved the Stooges, she loved the Replacements. I think we found common ground in the Go-Go's and Cheap Trick.
Lyric-wise, I've always written songs to 'get something off of my chest' whether it's about an ended relationship, getting harassed on the street, or my own battles with anxiety and depression. I'm not very abstract, it's usually pretty literal.

10)why did bangs end?
For no other reason than that I decided to move to Los Angeles. It was a totally amicable break-up; I just needed a change of scenery after living in Olympia for 27 years. Our last show was amazing and bittersweet. I loved playing in Bangs!

11)what would you like to do if bangs were still around?
Well, touring Europe and Asia were always two things we really wanted to do that never happened. We were fortunate to get to tour the US a bunch of times w/ amazing bands, and also spend time overseas playing in England, Scotland, New Zealand and Australia. And I would hope we would still have the same drummer!

12)what songs do you miss playing?
I don't really think of old bands that way. I just miss playing with that group of friends.. not songs in particular. I guess if I had to name one, I'd pick our cover of 'Southern Girls' by Cheap Trick as I got to do some really fun things on guitar, and Maggie held down the vocals.

13)i saw you play with sleater kinney and the gossip in cleveland years ago. what were they like and what do you think of the music they've created over time?
Both groups are comprised of stellar people and musicians. Our shows with both bands, who were gracious enough to play with us on tour, were always a highlight. Sleater-Kinney's fans are the most supportive music freaks I've ever met! I actually sold merch for S-K after I moved to California, and had a great time touring with them as part of their 'crew'. With both of those bands, I can remember seeing their first shows in living rooms or basements of Olympia, and to see the places they've gone through an insane work/tour ethic and talent is unbelievable. Very inspiring to say the least!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Button Button

Hey pals!
It's been so long.. I've been a busy bee, hatching a hundred plans for the summer, 80% of which involve making art: letterpress, painting, music. It's gonna be a rad sunny time! I promise to update more often with new work and anecdotes and random pictures of dogs and seaweed. Until then, behold the latest creation from the Utter/ laboratories! The OFFICIAL 'I Heart Public Transportation' button!

Seen here on Buyoly's #1 top model, Vinnie C.!