IT'S A LIVING… BUT IT'S NOT A LIFE #12.3
J Church / Honey Bear Records Newsletter
Snowing in Texas - One year older…

 

BIRTHDAY

I'm turning 37 this Sunday. It's like my late 20's. I swear I just wanna be distinguished and 40 already…

 

ANARCHO SHIRTS

Looks like I'm gonna finally get started with that shirt company I alluded to ages ago. I'd talked with people from Zounds, the Mob and Flux of Pink Indians about starting a legit company in the states to sell good quality shirts. I'm thinking I'll have that organized right around when the Ex video finally comes out.

 

BEAUTIFUL FRENZY

Speaking of which, I've finally got those tapes in production. Again, I'm new at promoting a video, so any help would be great. If you don't remember, it's the great documentary about the Ex from Holland, one of my favorite bands of all time. To learn more about them, check out www.theex.nl

 

J CHURCH SHOWS

Looks like we may not be doing SXSW after all. It's just as well. That thing is such a mess. We are still playing on February 28th at Emo's with Strike Anywhere. It should be quite a trip. We'll be trying out a couple of new things too.

 

J CHURCH ALBUM

Our album is officially coming out on No Idea this March. It's called Society Is A Carnivorous Flower. We will be touring the states to support it. With any luck, we'll be going to Europe as well. I'll let you know more as I hear it myself.

 

J CHURCH LIVE ALBUMS

That first live album didn't last long. I'm now taking orders for the second J Church live LP. Live at Gilman St. and also limited to 20 copies. It's $15 ppd. from me (Pay Pal me at honeybearrecords@hotmail.com).

 

TOUR DIARY PART 2

AUGUST 1st ­ VANCOUVER, BC (The Underwear Farm)
Crossing the border is always an anxious affair with me. I remember being detained and having major hassles from the man on the Monsula tour almost resulting in our arrest. With J Church it's often easier as we often have a nice looking rental van and my artificially charming personality. This time it was a bonus as we were touring with a baby and hit the jackpot getting a dowdy middle-aged Cannuck at immigration.

Seven bands tonight and the door to the hall has a big warning poster about SARS. Sweet. It's all a blur as the heat descends, exhaustion becomes pronounced and a big plate of hot vegetarian somosas start beating me into submission.

I really did enjoy Subtract To Zero as that kind of noisefuck often comes across great live. Especially if you're just worn down enough (be it from inner or outer forces) to let the fuzz carry you out of the stinky little club. A little Thrones-y meets hemp clothes if you know what I mean. Dug the brutal hardcore of fellow recyclers Living Under Lies though I think it was their bass player that said he got into J Church because his mom was a fan. I am 100 years old.

AUGUST 2nd ­ BOISE, ID (JD's)
Yeah, well, it looks a lot closer on the map. Fuck us, were we late for this show. We got there so late, most of the crowd had split and The Rah Bras and Hella had already played and were packing up. Oh well, played to the stragglers, got paid, and was reminded by a show in Canada a few years ago where we took the stage about an hour after Elevator to Hell got done.

AUGUST 3rd and 4th ­ DRIVE
Idaho, Montana, North Dakota. They're all just words to you. To me, they're miles of home made mad libs, inappropriate camera use and a surprisingly limited amount of sex stories for such a big group of guys. I never thought I could acclimate to daylong drives. But I have.

AUGUST 5th ­ FARGO, ND (VFW Hall)
Got to our buddy Chris's house a day early and he let us hang out. Everyone crammed in the house and watched a two-hour long Girls Gone Wild infomercial (that's what happens after a two day long drive) thinking that if they watched long enough they might see a nipple. Jug and I decided to crash in the van, as it wasn't as disgustingly hot as the house only to find that mosquitoes do know how to get in through van windows.

The show was what it was. You get up. You play. People clap. You pack up. You leave. Nice people. Nice hall. Really nice posters.

Later that night, Jug and I drank some beer and watched the Aurora Borealis. Two hours later, Jug had a nocturnal emission while sleeping in the van much to my chagrin. I swear it's all true. Is there really any reason why I would make that up?

AUGUST 6th ­ MINNEAPOLIS, MN (Triple Rock)
No shit, this is one of the nicest venues I've ever been to in my life. This is what happens when bands get their shit together and start a cool club. Great room. Great stage. Great sound. Alright! Shit! I get it already! It's a cool place.

Heads and Bodies played tonight and they're a really odd little band. I mean that in a good way. There's always been this weird little strain of DIY punk that makes the twin cities so special. Dogfight, Jonestown, you know, Heads and Bodies fit in with those other drastically underrated bands. Bunch of cute boys giving it their angst-riddled all with a cute girl blasting away on a clarinet. It's cool.

Crashed at their place and partied next door is some sort of makeshift game room that kind of looked like a barn or something. Had a good time and finally got to hear Against Me for the first time. I didn't really get it. But everyone seems to love `em so I'll give them another chance when I've got more time.

AUGUST 7th ­ CHICAGO, IL (Fireside Bowl)
The Fireside Bowl is perfect to me. It always happens at that point in the tour where I need a pick-me-up. It's the bar. It just feels like I'm at home. The tour is halfway done and I'm delirious. I need that beer at the bar while the sun is just starting to set.

So I've come to expect good things from this place. Next time, my expectations will even be higher as everything was going right tonight. I got to hang out with Liberty's brother Adam, I got to see Carolyn and Robert who drove over with Janelle who's tour imploded. Shit, I was so happy to see all those people. All folks I care a great deal about and hadn't seen in a while. I especially miss touring with Carolyn. Hanging out with her was one of the best parts of the tour with Avail and Propagandhi.

Tonight Calvary also played who I'd been interested in seeing for some time. I don't think they all live in the same city, so it was cool that they got it together to play this show. I like Calvary and this is where life gets confusing for me and I really, really don't want to get into this discussion… But are they really what you would call "emo"? I keep hearing people call them that and that's not what I would expect from a band related to Current and Charles Bronson. When you say "emo" do you mean screaming hardcore or indie rock type stuff? I just don't get it.

AUGUST 8th ­ COLUMBUS, OH (The Legion)
This house party was sort of ass. Probably the worst show of the tour. Probably one of our worst shows on the road ever. But it was fun hanging out with the nice people that lived in the house and getting some pizza. Whatever happened to Sudsy Malone's?

AUGUST 9th ­ PITTSBURTH, PA (Mr. Roboto)
I'm really glad that J Church is starting to get out of that weird little cloistered world we had been trapped in. I know that we probably aren't their cup of tea. But it was cool hanging out with people from Caustic Christ. I'm a big fan of Aus Rotten and not a lot of people know that.

Mr. Roboto is a storefront converted into a small venue. It's great. I wish every city had something like this. As soon as we arrive, some kid hands me a list with 30 song titles on it, all J Church songs he wants to hear. By now, people that come to see us are used to hear me saying "we don't know that one anymore". And I thought we went out of our way to learn some interesting old ones for this tour like Hate So Real. The older punkers here appreciated our Wire cover more than in most other places.

Got to see our man Ronndon. He and his special lady friend came out with us after the show for some Indian food along with some cats from Caustic Christ and Intense Youth.

AUGUST 10th ­ PHILADELPHIA, PA (Calvary Church)
Ran into Blake on the street today while getting a slice. That was a little weird. I felt like I should have been more prepared. I mean, I really don't remember the last time I saw the guy. It was certainly before Jawbreaker split. At some point, J Church and Jawbreaker stopped playing together for reasons too complicated and personal to go into. But when Blake moved back east I really just totally lost touch with him.

I love Philadelphia. I think it's my favorite city on the East Coast. I think I love it more than New York. I really do. I got to hang out with Liberty who was back home visiting the folks for the summer. Hadn't seen her in almost two months and that's more than breaking point for me.

The Calvary Church is a great old place in the neighborhood where a lot of our friends live including Mike from Kill The Man who set up this show. They're some of the funniest people I know and it's a real shame they split. True If Destroyed played this show with us like they did in Pittsburgh. They're sort of a political post-punk type thing, which I know is the vaguest, lamest thing I can say. I hope they're still out there doing stuff. I haven't really heard from 99% of the bands we played with since getting back to Austin.

END OF PART 2

 

IN THE J CHURCH LISTENING ROOM

LA FRACTION - Aussi Long Sera Le Chemin CD

To paraphrase one of my favorite television show, Home Movies, you always judge a book by its cover… that's what the cover is for. So, yeah, I've blown off this record cover because of the lame cover art. Hey, it's a cartoon of a skeleton lighting up a spliff for a hippie. It's got one of those fake warnings on the cover too: "Not for the mentally mature". But I was really blown away by these Frenchie-mcFrench Fries when I saw them live and decided to check it out.

Before I knew what they sounded like I was sort of expecting something far crustier. Don't they somehow have a sort of bullet-belt and back-patch sort of following? Wrong, wrong, wrong. They may adhere ideologically to parts of that scene (if you're reading this there's a better than likely chance that you do to) but not musically. This is the classic mid-`80s French punk in the vein of Les Thugs and the criminally underrated Les Sheriff. The sound is melodic, quick-tempo, and has a stomp that people associate with those aforementioned bands.

Lyrically, I don't know. It's that quintessential punk voice that can so easily be misinterpreted as anarchic freedom or existential longing. "However long it takes and whatever they say, my spirit will go free." Could be Emma Goldman or it could be Thoreau. Either way, it's the kind of thing that seems necessary to this kind of music.
(Fraction Productions)

KYRIAKIDES, YANNIS - A ConSPIracy Cantata CD

Yannis Kyriakides composer of mixed media collage and combine that makes him sort of futuristic and dated at the same time. This is never so obvious in these interpretations of his compositions by Ayelet Harpaz, Stephie Buttrich and Marion von Tilzer. On the first track, a conSPIracy cantata, they use recordings from Spy Stations, which I assume they culled from the Conet Project like everyone else (hey, we've used it twice!) alongside the ancient Oracle of Delphi. I hope the intention wasn't something as trite as the sacred and profane. What's intriguing about it is the contrasting technological sounds of the short-wave alongside the acoustic piano and vocal performances.

The second segment, hYDArotizon, for me is the most beautiful. Audio signals being sent inside a piano vibrate the strings to create harmonics and hums that are far more random than any improvisation. It's a beautiful pea soup of metallic sheen and the sound of rusting. It's ghostly like an aurora borealis feedback.

Considering much of Kyriakides's composition relies on visuals (video and performance) I wonder if there was more to accompany these pieces especially the final segment, tetTIX with it's mixture of insect noise and vocal a la SPK/Graeme Revell.
(Unsounds)

MOOR, ANDY AND KAFFE MATTHEWS - Locks CD

British electronic artist Kaffe Matthews is unlike anyone else in her field. Maybe it's her choice of source material, but her aural conversions are particularly aggressive resulting in a confidence that is often lacking with other artists in the genre. This isn't some delicate little sound installation that feels like it's made of toothpicks. It's a wall of sound that uses force rather than seduction as it's main device.

Along with Andy Moor of the Ex, she converts his unique Lindsay-esque guitar style into an even further developed sound. At times like a tsunami and other times like kettle drums from space, at times it's reminiscent of Matmos at their most aggro.

Having done several improvised performances together, this record is the distillation of ideas developed psychically through a deepening knowledge of each others creative processes. You know how there are all these beautiful surfing movies coming out lately like Step Into Liquid that are marred by stupid voice-overs and horrendous soundtracks? Next time, I'm gonna go see one of those flicks and listen to this on my discman while the movie plays.
(Unsounds)

MOOR LEHN BUTCHER - Thermal CD

John Butcher is pretty much accepted at this point as the most important free / experimental sax player in Europe… Possibly the world. Since the early `80s he's fused an economic style with experiments in tone, sound, breathing technique, etc. His collaborations are many and varied with this being one of the most way out.

Andy Moor we all know and love from The Ex. His guitar playing is a mix of Arto Lindsay in his Lounge Lizards days with anxiety of Gang of Four. Thomas Lehn has been composing and performing experimental music since the early `80s in Germany where is synth work has been decades ahead of the new wave of electronic experimentalism.

This collaboration sometimes sounds like three fighters surrounded and battling to the death. They're not really challenging each other. But they're all operating on this higher level that isn't in any way limited by the group scene, but is more focused. I almost wanna say that it's a more macho version of Mephista. Maybe macho isn't really the best word. But there is something very strangely rock-n-roll about this. I can't put my finger on it. But it really makes you wanna pick up a guitar or some noisemaker.
(Unsounds)

 

Back to Article Index