IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #10.1
J Church / Honey Bear Records monthly report
Spring 2002 - No ka oe!

 

SINGLES CLUB

Well, got the test pressings in finally for the first two singles in the club. The live Hard Skin stuff sounds huge: great versions of four of their hits. I think you will all be pleased. Enjoy it now as Fat Bob has split the band.

The J Church 5 song EP is pretty cool too. A couple of the songs are covers one being All The Wars by Anthrax (seemed appropriate nowadays) and Sacrifice by Rudimentary Peni (when isn't that appropriate?). Listening back, it's a surprisingly punk sounding record.

So, there's still plenty of time to join and get both of those singles as well as a bunch more. I didn't advertise the singles club much outside of a few handouts and through this mail list. So if you still want to join, send $45 to: Lance Hahn ­ c/o Honey Bear Records, 1071 Clayton Lane #506, Austin,TX 78723.

 

NEW STUFF

We'll be on an upcoming comp for Arm The Cyclist out of Houston of all acoustic songs. Our track is called Worth Killing For. Just tryin' to get the whole Manson Girl thing out of my system with this track about Leslie Van Houten. I'm working it out. You can find out more about the comp at armthecyclists@aol.com or at 5038 Jefferson / Houston, TX 77023.

We will also be on a new comp from Failed Experiment up in Chicago called 1157 Wheeler Avenue: A Memorial to Amadou Diallo. It's a compilation all about the pigs and police brutality. Uh, we don't really have any songs blatantly about police brutality or anything (and that could be a problem) but we are contributing a song that's been titled Off The Pigs: Nobuyoshi Araki And William Vollman As Personified Arguments Against The Vice Squad. Yes, that's the whole title. You can interpret that how you will. I really just wanted to work the phrase "Tokyo Lucky Hole" into a pop song. You can find out more about this comp at info@failedexperimentrecords.com or 5420 S. Bishop St. / Chicago, IL 60609.

Josh Ligairi in Utah is doing a 30 second song comp sort of like the ones Very Small and later Fat Wreck did. We're contributing a track called Ghost In Your House. It's sort of a snide look at a guy who has nightmares about the children he murdered in Vietnam. Good times. The comp is called Quantity Before Quality. You can find out more about this comp at kinetic_rec@hotmail.com or 390 N. 2329 W / Provo, UT 84601.

Another song from ages back called Mission Dolores will be on an all acoustic comp coming out that Joey Mullinix is putting out. The working title of the comp is Love Songs For The Proletariat. But who knows if that will be the end result. You can find out more from joeycadre@hotmail.com or 6 Springfield / Jackson, TN 38305.

Of course, I've mentioned before that Not Proud Of The USA is coming out on the next Law Of Inertia comp. You can find out more about it at www.lawofinertia.com.

 

AFTER SXSW

Yeah, yeah. It was all I could expect and even less. But I did get to hang out with Radio 4 (albeit too briefly) and for fleeting moments saw the folks from Weakerthans, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists and finally met Atom of his Package fame.

One event did make the whole damned thing worthwhile: Icarus Line. Okay, I otherwise pretty much couldn't give two shits about that band. It ain't my cup of tea as it were. I'm not super into this new jack hardcore with bands looking like they work at a pizza parlor.

And yet, from the most unlikely place came the revolution. They wound up playing at some sorta showcase at the Hard Rock Café of all places. Towards the end of their set (or what pretty much became the end of their set) the guitarist (who I guess is a little prone to this sort of behavior) grabbed a microphone stand and made a dash for the glass case. He smashed it out and grabbed Stevie Ray Vaughn's guitar. He quickly ran back to his rig and tried to plug it in before being descended upon by Hard Rock security. He chucked the holy emblem at them and made a dash out the door. In a city like Austin where he's the patron saint of half assed, white dude, sorta blues, not really rock, bullshit that was a bold move.

I can't wait to see the photos of broken glass, the Stevie Ray Vaughn plaque, and an empty guitar stand…

 

DREAMS OF HAWAII

I just got added to an e-group of nothing but old Hawaii punk rockers. Everyone on the list is from the old hardcore scene of the early `80s. It's funny and weird at the same time. On the one hand, I'm overwhelmed by waves of sentimentality and nostalgia for those days. On the other hand, it kind of freaks me out to be communicating on a friendly level with people I used to be scared of and thought were gonna kick my ass for being a poseur.

Anyway, I made a couple of recollections into go nowhere stories. I thought you might be interested in what I wrote… I wouldn't blame you if you weren't...

 

KELLY AND STACY HAHN

I met Kelly who would later wind up in the Fallout around 1980 or '81. It's laughable now, but I was so totally desperate to meet other punks back then, I would put on my little costume and walk around Waikiki, Ala Moana and other malls just hoping someone would come up to me and say anything. Of course, 99% of the time I was approached by haole pedophiles which strangely seems a lot creepier today then it did when I was 14... Anyway, that's basically how I met Kelly. He was in the same boat and we would share issues of Flipside and talk about how we had been playing the first Saccharine Trust record at the wrong speed for a month before we noticed it was a 45. We just thought it was 'heavy, man'.

Needless to say, we had to start a band. We both had very, very, very, very rudimentary guitar skills (I still do) and no amplifiers. But we thought we were badass and thought we were already in a band and spent most of our time thinking up names and logos and stuff.

In the same way that I met Kelly, I soon met Stacy Hahn.

I have to stop for a moment to say that this story is so vague and convoluted; I really hope I'm not embarrassing either of them. This is supposed to be MY embarrassing memory. I mean, they probably don't even remember this at all... I should also mention now that this story has no punch line and really doesn't go anywhere...

Anyway, I see this cute punk girl and decide I need to talk to her. No ulterior motives. I just wanted to meet anyone punk. It became quickly obvious to me that she needed to be in the band. So I asked her if she wanted to be in a punk band. She said "yeah" and we exchanged numbers and we set up a meeting.

The day we met was one of my most embarrassing memories of all time. I mean, nothing happened. Her Dad dropped her off at the McDonald's near Kahala Mall. Me and Kelly went there. We all got like Fillet O Fish sandwiches or something and just sat there. Nobody said anything! We just sat there. We ate our food. Then we got up and went our separate ways. Our band lasted for the length of time it took to consume a Happy Meal!

I just thought this story was worth mentioning for a few reasons. First of all, most of the bands I get credited to having been in back in Hawaii were barely more serious than this one.

Having said that, that event is as big a memory to me as any number of events that happened to me in so-called "real bands". I don't remember playing with Metallica and Bush at the Reading Festival. But I remember feeling totally humiliated and not being able to taste my Fillet O Fish back in the early '80s!

... And then of course I became a vegan communist whatever...

 

WHY I'M AFRAID OF PUNK GIRLS

The '80s were a really weird time for me. The world seemed like such a shitty place and Hawaii didn't even seem to be good enough to count as part of the world. Keep in mind, I was a punk rock kid living in Nanakuli* and going to Kamehameha*. The "moke/ass-kicking"** ratio was much more accute in my world. Especially when I showed up for ROTC (it used to be required at Kamehameha) with a mohawk. So, in that world, I considered myself to be a brave motherfucker. I could take a beating from a moke and it was cool. They only hassled me for so long before they realized they'd rather copy my homework...

But in the punk rock world where I should have felt most comfortable, I felt totally terrified. I don't wanna get into the race thing because I certainly haven't gotten it all figured out. But I will say that I was pretty fucking nervous about hanging out with a bunch of white kids. On the extremely rare trip I'd make to 3Ds, I'd be much more nervous there than on the 51 bus from Waianae. I know that sounds stupid seeing as I'm mostly Asian and there were plenty of Asians in the, uh, "scene". But that just isn't how I related to it...

Of course, I was also a total poseur. I liked punk rock because as a kid I was obsessed with Creem magazine and Song Hits and Hit Parader and eventually Trouser Press. Then I started to dress like a punk and act like one and I was a total failure. So that was just one more reason to be terrified: the fear of being "found out".

Anyway, through playing in Scarred For Life and then Cringer and then a billion other bands, I found my niche and social group and it was cool. The threat of violence seemed like an illusion.

I eventually started helping out the Krolls and Francis and some other folks doing shows at the Manoa Y. There were always hassles and I was all peace-punky and indignant about it all. Then one day the fear all came back...

There was a scuffle outside of the Y between a few girls. Most people were just standing around watching and laughing. One guy was actually taking pictures of the girl's underwear when their skirts rode up during the fight. So like some retard - canto - Billy Jack, I walk up there like I'm gonna be able to stop the fight by myself and immediately get decked in the face by Bronsi (who I don't know) and on the head by Lani (who I did). They weren't even trying to hit me, but my head was spinning for a little while. Nothing against those two, I was just a stupid person at a stupid place at a stupid time. But that event sure did spell it out clear for me: I'm afraid of punk girls because they can beat the shit out of me.

Hey, I'll admit it. I've got something of a male ego. I try to be the Emma Goldman type. But the ego is it's own. I can take some big moke hacking me across the face with his school binder. But getting taken down by a little, white, punkette from Aina Haina (or whereever) was pretty damned humiliating.

* - Nanakuli is an extremely poor neighborhood in Hawaii almost exclusively non-white. It's where the Nation of Hawaii movement was born. Kamehameha is a school set up by the last reigning monarch for kids of all economic backgrounds of Hawaiian descent.

** - "Moke" is Hawaii slang for a big, local thug who is angry a lot of the time. Not really a jock as a lot of them were just huge, 300lb shit-kickers. It's a little hard to explain. It's a concept somewhat unique to Hawaii. Mokes can also be Samoans or Tongans.

 

IN THE J CHURCH LISTENING ROOM

SUSIE IBARRA & ASSIF TSAHAR - Home Cookin' CD
SUSIE IBARRA TRIO - Songbird Suite CD

There are so many reasons to be a fan of Susie Ibarra. Not only is it nice to know that there is a younger generation of jazz players coming from a still adventurous position while being able to keep up with the more established names. But a female, Asian American drummer? Much props ­ there aren't too many role models in any category…

Susie Ibarra, for those of you too punk to know, is the explosive 30 something drummer who has spent a good part of the past decade playing with folks like William Parker, Matthew Shipp, David S. Ware and Zorn although she's has recently severed her ties with a lot of that scene citing the stifling amount of sexism.

The results have been largely breathtaking, as she now has had the freedom to pursue in every direction whether it's with `50s experimental tape artist Pauline Oliveros or contributing to a Yo La Tengo track. Releasing more and more music under her own name has been equally exciting.

Home Cookin' was the debut release for her and her husband's, multi-instrumentalist Assif Tsahar, independent label, Hopscotch. The recording was said to have been done in one day at the Knitting Factory. But it's hard to believe that it's a live recording. The sounds are crisp and full of dynamics.

Having said that, this record appears to be largely improvised and it's easy to imagine how captivating this could be in a live setting. Ibarra is known not only for her explosive drumming but also her use of different types of percussion much of it reflecting her Asian heritage. Tsahar is equally diverse in his use of violin, flute and an assortment of other instruments.

There are seventeen tracks in all meaning that there isn't much filler anywhere. Ideas are attacked and concisely investigated and then it's time to move on. This no frills approach is probably not simply a reflection of Ibarra's past in the Houston hardcore scene of the `80s. But her relationship to the alternative rock world certainly has broadened her definitions of what is exploration and what is meandering.

Her most recent release is the Songbird Suite with her current trio with a special guest performance from electronic artist Ikue Mori. Now, I haven't really given this laptop music much of a chance. I wasn't very moved after one listen to Labyrinth but now I'm thinking maybe I should go back and rediscover it. Either way, within the context of this composition, Mori's contribution is fluid and not at all obtuse like I imagined it would be.

In fact, this is the opposite end of the spectrum for Ibarra. The more structured composition of this record is a great example of how a three piece all working in the same mindset can sound like an orchestra. As expected, the percussion is the key here. With cues and hues determined by the rhythms and beats, Ibarra leads the group through orchestrated soundscapes at times bringing to mind Sun Ra.

While the production is almost too "shimmering" at times as compared to Home Cookin' and it's direct approach, it does help create the meditative mantra to juxtapose the angularity of the music. Definitely lookin' forward to her next records.
(Tzadik)

 

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