IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #9.2
The semi-tough J Church / Honey Bear Records Newsletter
Spring '01 - Boy Howdy!
DID YOU FUCK UP?
Ah, the tour is over. What a fucking blast! One month on the road with
Propagandhi, Avail and Fabulous Disaster and the end feels weirdly pre-mature
(although I'm happy to see my bed). Had a fantastic time hanging out with
and seeing all the bands night after night. I've got to admit that Propagandhi
have sort of rekindled my interest in hardcore… I forgot how brilliant
they were live… I watched them every night. Swear to God…
Hope you were there and didn't fuck up…
Okay, we added a Cringer song to the set for this tour and we probably
won't play it again. I really wanted to do something as sort of a little
tribute to Jerry from Gaunt and I didn't think we could really get away
with covering Rich Kids. …And people had been yelling
for Cringer songs for so long, I thought this might be nice. Turns out,
of the few people at the gigs that were there specifically to see us,
most of them didn't know what the song was. But I was still happy to make
the gesture. The song was Petrograd and we probably won't
be doing it anymore…
I know that a lot of people think it was really weird that we did this
tour and I've learned that there isn't much cross pollinating between
J Church and Avail supporters. I've heard complaints on both sides and
it's really too bad because we really like Avail a lot. Yeah, we're sort
of worlds apart musically. But I really like a lot of their music and
I thought they were really great people (road crew included). I really
don't see what the big deal is. I sort of long for the old days when all
different types of bands could play together and it was no big deal. I
remember once Cringer played with Chumbawamba AND Neurosis. Once J Church
played with Money Mark AND the Red Aunts. What's wrong with that? Even
better, remember when the Minutemen would tour with Black Flag and the
Meat Puppets? What about the Descendents with Suicidal Tendencies? SNFU
with Die Kreuzen? Chill out. It's cool.
On a practical level, I really don't know if this tour exposed J Church
to a wider audience. Gigs that big are really impersonal and it's really
hard to meet people. You walk in the crowd and your suddenly surrounded
by an endless sea of people. I'm not a rock star. But I'm really claustrophobic.
So, I don't know. Some nights, we were definitely just playing the 25%
or less of the crowd who knew who we were. Some nights we went down great.
Others, you could hear a pin drop between songs. I don't know if the tour
We also went out of our way to do interviews, radio shows and even a
little TV on this tour. We finally got around to playing on WFMU where
we brought out a few new things including a cover of the Subhumans' People
Are Scared which will probably wind up on a new single on Snuffy
Smile. We also did some weird TV show in San Francisco. I don't know what
it was called. All I was told was that 6 million people saw it. Did you
see it? Did anyone tape it? I'd love to get a copy. We did Jane,
Vanessa And I and Yellow, Blue And Green. I
don't know how we wind up doing these things. But it was cool.
So, now I'm back at home and there are a million things for me to do.
I'm just now catching up with all the mail and mail-order, so I beg for
WHAT IS NEXT?
Okay, we're detoxing from the tour right now and I really don't know
what is on the horizon. Do we record or hit the road again? I don't really
One thing I do know is that Adam and his wife, Lydia, are expecting
a second child. So that sort of limits what he can do, obviously. But
it's fucking great. Their daughter, Mimi, wants a brother and Mom and
Dad are doing what they can to accommodate! More power to them and if
you are at all cool, you'll send them a card of congratulations to: Adam
and Lydia c/o Lost Weekend Video 1034 Valencia St San
Francisco, CA 94110.
But that leaves us without a touring drummer for a little while. If
we do go out on the road again, we will need someone to fill in with us.
Historically, that's been Andee (A Minor Forest, TicWar, PEE, etc.) and
that's been really great. Aside from the fact that he's one of my best
friends in the world, he's a brilliant drummer. Certainly one of the best
around. But he's got his own thing going on, so we can never assume that
he'll have the time to fill in with us. I mean, his label alone takes
up half of his life (check out www.tumult.net)
and he may be moving into a treehouse in Portland (I can't even begin
to explain this…). So, who knows? We would like to do that Citizen
Fish tour. But, as you can see, it's all up in the air at the moment…
As for recording, I've got more than enough songs for the next record.
But we really need to sort out the timing. We've got a lot of other records
that will probably be coming out first. First of all, there is a new singles
collection coming out on Honey Bear Records. It will be our fourth. Secondly,
I'm trying to work it out so that the new issue of my fanzine, Some Hope
And Some Despair, comes with a CD made up of real weird shit that the
band has recorded. Lots of experimental stuff as well as some covers and
typical J Church stuff. It will be some pretty weird stuff, so assuming
that it does ever see the light of day, it'll probably be of limited pressing.
Finally, Broken Rekids will be doing a series of 4 CDs reissuing all the
out of print J Church stuff including a lot of things that only came out
in other countries. So, our calender is full of stuff although all the
re-issues and weird stuff will probably leave us pretty anxious to get
the new album out. Too much of anything drives me crazy.
WHAT ABOUT THE LABEL?
Yeah, things are gonna get busy for the label as well. First of all,
now that I'm at home, I'm finally getting it together to start the singles
club up. If you didn't hear about it the first time around, here's how
You send me $45 ($55 in Europe) and you gain membership to the Honey
Bear Records Singles Club. The plan is to release 6 singles in limited
editions of 100 copies each. Needless to say, with such a small pressing,
these records will not be sold in stores. Now, the price seems kind of
high. But when you make so few copies, the costs go through the roof.
And the new postage rates are no help. Now, I'm still working on trying
to find deals to lower my costs. If I can lower the costs enough (and
I can't promise that this will happen) then I'll add a 7th single to the
As it stands, the records coming out will be from the bands J Church,
Cringer, Cilantro, Tami (from Japan), Semiautomatic (ex-Rice, Peechees)
and Princessed. That's a pretty good bunch of records and I think you'll
be stoked if you join. As far as payment, you can follow the instructions
below just like with the rest of my mail-order.
In addition to the singles club and the J Church stuff, I will hopefully
also be releasing CD collections by the Cravats and Flowers In The Dustbin.
These bands were two of my favorites from the old anarcho days and I'm
really excited by these releases. Most of the Cravats stuff came out on
Small Wonders though a lot of the best stuff was on Crass / Corpus Christi.
Flowers In The Dustbin also released some pretty amazing stuff on All
The Madmen. But I sort of think that their best moment was a single on
Mortarhate. So, hopefully, that will be in the cards.
LIVE CDR TYPE THINGS
Okay, some of you have already seen these things floating around. There
are a bunch of J Church "live" CDRs now available. Let me explain:
I've been a fan of Bluurg Records for a long time. Since I was in school,
I followed the Subhumans and the label and I always thought that it was
cool that in addition to the distributed records that you could find in
stores, there was a whole mess of other things you could order directly
from Dick on cassette. To this day, he has cassette releases available.
I think it's great.
I also know that I never really listen to tapes anymore. But since I
wanted to get something going like Bluurg, I've started to make available
entire J Church live recordings (along with printed covers of my design)
on CDR. If I wind up having the time, I'll also make available some of
the weird J Church demo tapes and home recordings. Obviously, this is
die-hards only and none of this stuff will be available through distributors
to stores. But to keep it all organized, I will give them all catalog
numbers and titles. I just got the first one done and as soon as I can
get the covers and everything ready, you can expect a dozen or so more
in the next couple of months…
IN THE J CHURCH LISTENING ROOM
THE ANNIVERSARY Designing A Nervous Breakdown
Despite having a record cover so crap, I can't believe no one somewhere
along the lines didn't stop them, this is one hell of a pop record. Taking
a lot of tired old formulas that make up most of what is thought of as
punk (or pop punk) today, The Anniversary inject a healthy dose of college
rock sensibilities to, if not in anyway re-invent, the genre to carve
their own little spot in the punk world.
There's enough of that straight ahead rocking that we've familiarized
ourselves with via bands like Weezer and the Get Up Kids to appeal to
the extreme youth of America. But there are a lot of curve balls to draw
in a jaded old fuck like myself. The occasional Dinosaur Jr like lilt
or the Treepeople / Built To Spill ratio of whine to rasp all work to
the bands benefit. That and the occasional Beatles-esque 7th chord make
this record a head above the rest. There's nothing new under the sun,
but this is a great Springtime record for young America.
(Heroes And Villains, PMB 361, 2118 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403)
ROLAND KIRK Domino CD
I'm not gonna pretend to be some sort of jazz expert or historian. But
I am a great fan of Rahsaan Roland Kirk's work and I do know that a lot
of people consider his time on Mercury records his most creative and adventurous.
Domino was Kirk's second record for the label after a
the groundbreaking We Free Kings (at the time a statement
about civil rights and not free jazz) and a stint playing for Mingus (well
represented on the amazing Oh Yeah on Atlantic).
No longer thought of as a hack or a gimmick artist, this record is incredibly
confident and is crucial in understanding the artist's realm. With one
foot in the avante garde and another foot in formalism, this record both
let's Kirk run free with his boundary free scales along with his ability
to offer strict arrangements as emphasized by a great rhythm section switching
between Herbie Hancock, Andrew Hill and Wynton Kelly on piano.
This re-release includes an additional 15 tracks of out takes and different
versions. I guess I'm not enough of a scholar to really appreciate this
stuff (four versions of Termini's Corner?). But there
are still some interests to a laymen like myself including the alternative
version of the title track and an odd little meditation called Where
Monk And Mingus Live. To bad there aren't any tracks from Kirk's
performance at that years Newport Jazz Festival where Kirk first debuted
a lot of this material including the classic A Stritch In Time
(what exactly is a stritch? Is it for real or just another one of Kirk's
(Verve master Edition)
MUSEE MECANIQUE The Zelinksy Collection CD
If you're not familiar with the Musee Mecanique, you should start by
knowing that it's one of the great attractions of the Bay Area that is
completely genuine and, while it doesn't completely sum up the city, it's
a significant emblem of San Francisco's quirkiness and uniqueness.
Daniel Galland Zelinsky, who is the museum's founder, is a collector
and an eccentric. The museum is a permanent display of antique machines
from penny arcades that go back, some over a hundred years. Zelinsky collects
and restores these machines and at the Musee Mecanique, they are available
for the public, not only to see, but play just as they were enjoyed when
they were the cutting edge of arcade technology.
One thing that will always stay with you when visiting is the music. The
odd, just vaguely out of tune music pumped through the hundred year old
machinery is a key to the museums ability to take you out of the Bay Area
for a moment and put you in another world.
Some people think that the music is a little creepy. In a way, I guess
it is. But I also think that it's really beautiful. These are all analog
sounds that you can't find in any contemporary music. The vague distortion
of the imperfect sound systems and the fact that time and non-exact time
creates a slight tuning problem all add to the mystique. This CD documents
a lot of that music. With any luck, like the cover suggests, this will
be the first of many.
(1090 Point Lobos, San Francisco, CA 94121)
THAI ELEPHANT ORCHESTRA CD
So, does this count as outsider art?
Yeah, I guess the title really says it all. This is a CD recording of
six elephants (and that's not some code name for anything. We're talking
trunks and tusks.) playing music over their own design and direction.
This is not some circus trick. There's no fucking ring leader whipping
the elephants making them play Oh When The Saints…
or some bullshit. This is really a bunch of elephants left to their own
devices with a bunch of instruments to improvise.
Okay, here's a little background info. Dave Soldier and Richard Lair
are scientists and zoologists who work and have been working with elephants
in Thailand for some time. As most people know, there are a lot of miseries
in that field. First of all, the elephant population has been reduced
from 100,000 back at the last turn of the century to little over 2,000
today. The surviving elephants are still being forced to do dangerous
labor for companies working in Thailand and others are put at risk through
irresponsible tourist organizations.
To put a bit of a spin on the situation, the two doctors decided to
bring their mutual love of music into their day work. Working in a traditional
Thai musical scale, they had built several musical instruments specially
designed for the elephant's anatomy.
So, this recording, which is quite fantastic, represents the improvised
and dare I say "free" music created by elephants on slit drums,
marimbas, Thai renats, diddley bow, gongs, harmonicas and some sort of
keyboard. Uh, the elephants are pretty good and it really freaks me out
how, uh, rhythmic they are. I mean, if this thing hadn't been written
up in the New York Times, I would almost think it was a hoax. But I guess
it's for real and therefore, pretty fucking impressive. But I have to
admit; it's almost worth it just to see the photos of the elephants smiling
and playing music.
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