IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #10.6
J Church and Honey Bear Records Newsletter
Fall 2002 - Burning Down The House

 

A COUPLE OF MONTHS AFTER THE FIRE

Okay, this is the first "normal" e-mail since the big fire and I guess I should start with a bit of a recap and a brief inventory of where I'm at.

First off there is the huge problem of what was destroyed of the record label. About 97% of all the mail-order items were destroyed. That includes both titles that were my releases as well as the many other titles distributed by me, most of which were J Church. I've saved a few boxes. But just about everything record-wise that I was hoping to salvage has been drastically water-damaged. It's all too damaged to sell and at this point it's all getting moldy. Goddamn it's humid in Austin.

All in all, to the label there has been a few grand in losses. I don't make my living off of this (I work two jobs at a video store and a record store). But I do rely on the income from the mail-order to pay for things like making buttons and posters, taking out ads, indulging ourselves with 8mm and super 8mm films, recording songs for compilations, etc. Most importantly, it goes towards promoting the releases. Not too sure about what to do on that front at the moment. But I'm working double shifts!

It's also why we've been able to give so much stuff away. I trade large amounts of J Church records with distributors overseas just to get the word out. It costs a lot of money. But it's the only way to make our records and CDs available especially in Europe where I've had several huge trades with DIY distros. Of course, as anyone involved with this process will tell you, it's largely an altruistic enterprise. The mail-order made it financially possible.

So, losing the mail department (including my scales, envelopes, packing material, and a couple of computers) has been a huge loss. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to rebuild it all. But I think I'm going to start by expanding my t-shirt mail-order. Before the fire, I had wanted to expand the amount of J Church t-shirt designs I had available. I had also talked with members of Flux, the Mob and Zounds about making shirts legit for them in the states. If I can get the $$$ together, that may be where I focus my mail-order.

Secondly, I've lost all of the info (both covers and the music itself) for the live CDRs I had been selling through the website. I had just started making those for fun, to document everything for the two or three people I thought would be really into it. But it took off and I've sold over a 100 of each title. If anyone out there would be willing to spare their copies of the nine CDRs, I would really appreciate it. If you were even willing to loan me the covers and burn me copies of them, that would be great. I don't actually have a CD recorder at the moment (mine didn't survive).

Now for the personal stuff… As most of you know by now, I lost almost my entire record collection. Of my original five or six thousand records, I've got a little over a hundred left. Of those hundred, most of them are heavily damaged and they all have massive water damage to the covers. Some are covered in mold. But I'm in the process of fighting that with Windex. I don't know if it's working. My new apartment was stinking of "burnt" and now it stinks of mold. I would like to thank all the cool labels out there (Broken Rekids, Vagrant, Alternative Tentacles, Bluurg, G-7 Welcoming Committee, Dirtnap, Hawaiian Express, Turkey Baster, etc.) who have sent me a ton of records to help rebuild. Thanx to the guy in England that sent the box of anarcho punk records. That was out of the blue and really cool.

I talked a little about this before in the last newsletter (remember that delirious one I wrote while I was still stinking like burnt Maximum Rock N Rolls?). But I am gonna keep collecting records. I'm a nerd. I can't help it. I wish I could be one of those guys that has the epiphany after the fire and starts living more in touch with the Gaia and blah, blah, blah. But I am gonna track down all those singles by the Ex again if it's the last thing I do! Ditto for the Fall! Abba even!

Of course, I lost all of my clothes as well. I'm currently dressing tres Target chic for the most part thanx to the Red Cross. Marc who ran Goldenrod Records sent me a bunch of stuff from Emerica and Es and now I've got clothes that are much cooler than I am. I don't think I've ever had shoes this nice. I feel like such a poseur! Does this mean I have to learn how to skate again? Liberty looks a lot more natural in these clothes. But she does know how to skate. I am such a loser!

A lot of the aforementioned labels sent me some cool clothes too. I have to admit, I do really miss my Giants shirts and hoodies, etc. I love my Giants and they are going to the post and I think I may have to splurge and spend some $$$ at their site at least getting one shirt.

I also lost a ton of toys and a lot of original art as well as some pretty cool movie posters that I'd accumulated over the past decade or so. I dunno. At this point it seems frivolous to get into that and spend much time fretting over Hakaida dolls and posters from the Situationist exhibit in Barcelona in '97. Easy come, easy go. I'm kind of surprised at how little I care about losing all the possessions…

Sort of along the same lines as me losing a lot of records, I lost a lot of videos and books too. I can't even begin to guess about all of that stuff. Oh, and CDs don't survive heat as well as records. I was surprised to find while I was able to salvage 2% or my record collection, just about all of the discs oxidized away.

I've been really lucky with most of my electronics. Yeah, they all got destroyed. But we've had a lot of help. I've managed to get a lot of stereo stuff from Corey from the Rise and Kiley (you may remember him from Nuisance back in the day). My tuner is a little fucked, but it kind of works. The CD player is gone. The CD recorder is gone. I haven't had a chance to dust off the tape deck and see what is up with that.

Despite all of my hopes, the computers were all wasted. Fortunately, Kelly G (PEE, Cockpit, sang for us a few times) sent me her spare from CNET and we've been able to get at least our old hard drive working with that. Don't know what I'm gonna do about replacing the others. But there are a couple of other people out there who may have leads on spare computers lying around. Another great thing about the Dot Com implosion is the bounty of pretty decent computers just lying around. You just have to ask…

So, yeah, we lost a hell of a lot of stuff. To get the label running at close to 100% is financially impossible at this point. I'm working like crazy and am trying to get these next couple of records out successfully. Hopefully this time next year things will look better.

People had been asking about benefit shows and this that and the other. I was pretty hesitant. I still am as it seems weird to do a benefit without a real "cause" behind it. But at this point, I can't really say no to anything. Any benefits happening at this point would be great as I could throw everything back at the label.

Okay, people have been asking me for a list of things we need replaced. I don't want ANYONE buying us new stuff (even though I appreciate all the offers). But if you for some reason have any of this stuff in spare lying around… I'll start with the ridiculous "pie in the sky" stuff first…

Lost loads of guitar stuff including
Chords/Leads
Tuner
Volume Pedal
EQ
Rat (distortion)
Big Muff (distortion)
Electric Mistress (phase/flange)
Small Stone (chorus)
I also lost all my guitar cases and am going to try to salvage the guitars

Still looking for another fast computer for layout and sound editing
Scanner
Printer
CD Burner
CD player
VCR
VCR copy-protect override
Fax machine
DAT recorder
DAT tapes
Snow globes? Yes, snow globes

I guess the rest of the stuff isn't really practical to send. We need desks, shelves and furniture. Liberty is a little finicky about that stuff anyway. Here are a few personal things that I'm looking to replace.

If you have any photos of J Church or Cringer on the road, I could sure use them. If you have anything from my stint with Beck (I know there are a lot of boots floating around) I'd love that too. Also looking for live and demo recordings of J Church, Cringer or any band I've played with. Videos too.

I'm also trying to replace all four issues of my fanzine Some Hope And Some Despair.

 

LABEL BUSINESS, YES, INDEED

First of all, as many of you know, the entire pressings of the J Church All The Wars 7", Hard Skin live 7" and Storm the Tower 7" were totaled in the fire. I am in the process of repressing all of them with a bit of help from the kind folks at United Pressing who are giving me a bit of a discount. I'll let you know as soon as they arrive.

In the meantime, DFI and J Church Palestine will be the first two CDs I've released since Meaty Beaty Shitty Sounding.

It's hard to explain exactly what DFI is. DFI is Dave Didonato From Illinois. A lot of people think of him and DFI as being like the Fucking Champs. DFI definitely has certain elements of the new intellectual metal craze. But he is also just a really brilliant musician and arranger. On this disc there are elements of the Fucking Champs, Fantomas, Thrones and more. His songs are very witty which isn't surprising as he's a smart guy. He's cool and well worth checking out on tour and I'm gonna be playing music with him here in Austin. He'll be on tour soon to support the disc, so here is the partial schedule.

10/8 ­ Tuesday New Orleans - working on it
10/9 ­ Wednesday Atlanta - working on it
10/10 ­ Thursday Raleigh, NC - King's Barcade (424 S. McDowell Street)
10/11 ­ Friday Richmond, VA - house party?
10/12 ­ Saturday Richmond, VA - Holy Chow (307 North Laurel)
10/13 ­ Sunday NYC - nothing
10/14 ­ Monday NYC, NY - Right Bank (409 Kent Ave/Broadway. Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
10/15 - CT - live at my mom's house
10/16 - CT - encore presentation
10/17 ­ Thursday Washington DC - U-Turn (corner of 11th and U St NW)
10/18 ­ Friday Old City, TN - The Pilot Light (Central & Jackson, just outside ofKnoxville)
10/19 ­ Saturday Little Rock, AR ­ w/Garuda ­ address forthcoming

If you can help with any of the gigs, vegan snacks or even a clean place to crash (he'll be traveling with wife and newborn baby) get in touch at didonatofromillinois@yahoo.com.

As for the J Church CD, it is mostly made up of recordings from '97 that would have been for the follow-up to Drama Of Alienation. I had been writing songs in our down time between tours when the band sort of imploded on itself. We had toured for six months on Drama and everything just fell apart after a third trip to Japan. Before I could get the new band together to start work on another album, I was sidelined for another year with my heart condition (remember, that was the LAST time I almost died. FUCK!) and all this stuff fell to the wayside as I wrote a completely depressed set of songs that could only come from being nauseous and bed ridden and having lost 40 lbs.

By the time I was healthy again, those songs seemed really depressing and while recovering I didn't want to focus on a bunch of stuff written in the midst of depression and insanity. So more stuff got written and that became One Mississippi.

Basically, there are two albums worth of shelved though demo taped material. Palestine is the first half and may be the only one to reach release. It's a little sloppy and it's a little homemade (gotta love that DIY recording style…) and there are a couple of moments where it's a little borderline. But I think the songs are better than anything on Drama and hopefully people will be able to see their strengths through the four and eight track recordings.

So, I was going to hire a publicist for the DFI and J Church CDs but I obviously can't afford that at the moment. I'm gonna be doing all the publicity on my own again. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Also, with the fire and everything, this J Church record has obviously become a benefit / fundraiser for the record label. Everything I make will go back into next year's releases.

 

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