C & D interview Jimmy Joe Roche and Dan Deacon, review AC/DC, more [Arthur No. 27/Dec 2007]

C & D
Two guys who will remain pseudonymous reason together about new music “product”

Originally published in Arthur No. 27 (Dec 2007)

ultimatereality

DAN DEACON & JIMMY JOE ROCHE
Ultimate Reality dvd
(Carpark)
C: State-of-the-art psychedelic film with music composed by electro-dance party joker Dan Deacon and visuals by Jimmy Joe Roche, two guys from Baltimore’s Wham City operation. It’s constructed from clips from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career—Conan the Barbarian, Terminator, Total Recall, Kindergarten Cop, Predator, Junior—collaged and layered and doubled together into something altogether overwhelming at 35 minutes in length.
D: This is Arnold’s mind on drugs. Arnoldelic, baby!
C: Absolutely gorgeous, seriously funny, weirdly poignant and possibly seizure-inducing. This is a landmark work. It’s the first time someone has taken the stuff those Fort Thunder and PaperRad dudes were (or are) doing—bright color-saturated, warped psychedelia incorporating pop iconography—and thrust it forward into a new realm of…of…beauty, really. Watching this right now is for me like seeing “Wonder Showzen” for the first time, or Chris Morris’s “Blue Jam”: a breakthrough on many levels, by somebody pretty much out of nowhere.
D: [reading from Arthur Magazine office rolodex] Or Baltimore…
C: [mischievously] Hand me that. Let’s make a phone call. [Dials on red phone…] Hello? [In Howard Cosell voice] Yes, this is Arthur magazine. We are seated here drinking kratom-powered smoothies having just watched “Ultimate Reality,” and we had a few questions for the filmmakers. [turns speaker phone on] So, Jimmy, what exactly is Wham City and you guys must know the Fort Thunder guys, right?
JIMMY JOE ROCHE: Wham City—the space—was a dingy, insane warehouse, then another one. Me and Dan and Dina and Adam and some other kids lived together at SUNY Purchase, all graduated in 2004, and we had this sort of unfigured-out energy. We knew we wanted something, we had a vision undulating out of control, and those guys wanted to move to Baltimore, because it’s cheap as hell. It seemed like it was a potential void where someone could come in and do art, totally fresh.

Continue reading

GUERRILLA GIGGING: How the Libertines (and other bands) did it in London (Arthur, 2008)

Originally published in Arthur No. 28 (March 2008)


GUERRILLA WARFARE
Five years ago, London’s gig-goers experienced a cultural upheaval the effects of which are still being felt today. Paul Moody takes up the story.

It seems so long ago now. But just under five years ago, London’s nightlife found itself at the center of a seismic cultural explosion that still reverberates around the U.K indie-verse today. As with the psychedelic scene based around the UFO Club in Tottenham Court Road and the punk movement’s Soho HQs The Roxy and The Vortex, it involved a small group of movers’n’shakers taking control of the pop apparatus to create something new, exciting and—whisper it—revolutionary.

For a short while the fat cats of the British music business—a dismal alliance of promoters (tell me, have you ever seen a skinny one?), lazy managers and idea-free labels—were on the back foot, and oh, what pleasure it was to be alive to see it and be involved in it. In its place? A new form of night-time activity, where gigs could take place on a bus, a subway train or even, at one memorable soiree in Regents Park, up a tree, and the old ways—not least the capitalist chicanery of (yawn) advance credit card bookings—could go swing.

Ever since The Stone Roses had attempted to subvert the medium with their gig at Spike Island in 1990—deemed a failure by anyone who hadn’t actually been there—promoters in the U.K had ensured that any free expression amongst bands was brutally clamped down upon. At many venues—not least the once-prestigious The Rock Garden in Covent Garden—young bands were even forced to endure a “pay to play” policy which meant they had to cough up £50 before they could even get on a stage. Worse, it was an unspoken rule that if any band dared go beyond these preset boundaries, there would be hell to pay.

I’d had firsthand experience of it myself.

As a member of London art rock band Regular Fries, in the late ’90s, I’d found any means of creative expression conducted outside the studio frowned upon. Our determination to play gigs involving film projections, banks of TVs and an array of props brought despairing looks from our own management, so you can imagine what promoters made of it when we walked through the doors of venues clutching six-feet high “Fries” letters. The idea of playing gigs outside the established circuit—a well-trod path involving The Barfly, The Garage and The Astoria—was treated like heresy. Why couldn’t we just play by the rules like everyone else?

Promoters actively discouraged us from playing at venues no one else had with lame talk of “bad acoustics.” “Why do you think no one else plays there?” was an asinine excuse we’d regularly be subjected to.

This came to a head when, due to a fire, a headline gig at London University (ULU) was cancelled at the eleventh hour. Hastily, we printed up flyers to paste over the front of the building telling our fans to head to a nearby venue in Camden where another promoter—sensing a windfall—had hastily juggled his bill so we could play last.

Within minutes, our well-intentioned belief that “the show must go on” had all but turned into an international incident. The promoters at ULU threatened violence for advertising another chain of venues on their doorstep. Our own promoter blew a fuse at our temerity in organizing an alternative ourselves. And our manager even warned us darkly that if we played the gig, our agent would never book us a tour again. All because we wanted to play a gig at short notice.

It was in this climate that the concept of the “guerrilla gig”—which peaked in June 2004 with a “happening” at Buckingham Palace, headed by Pete Doherty—took root.

Continue reading