C & D reason together about some new records [Arthur No. 26/Sept 2007]

Originally published in Arthur No. 26/September 2007

C & D: Two guys “reason” together about some new records.

D: Christ on a crutch, it’s hot in here.
C: [winces] Uh yeah, I guess I forgot to mention the “air conditioner, lack of” situation we’ve got going over here.
D: It is going to be difficult for me to do my work in these conditions.
C: [guffaws] You call listening to records “working”? Ha! That ain’t workin’! You get your money for nothin’ and your chicks for free.
D: Where have I heard this before. What money? And I don’t see any chicks around here.
C: I regret that my hosting skills are not what they once were.
D: Yes your place is not only a sweat lodge—it’s sexist. I cannot work in these circumstances.
C: You can do it if you put a beer into it.
D: Okay. Beer me.
C: Of course! [Heads to the kitchen, ceremonially] Come! Let us drink beer and reason together.

ALAN VEGA
Station
(Blast First/Mute)
C [returns from kitchen with a sixer of St. Pauli’s, starts CD at medium blast]: So for some reason I thought it was a good idea to kick things off with the darkest, most negative thing possible. Alan Vega from New York City electro-rock-minimalist legends Suicide, talking about the condition of this nation. Analysis: dark. Prognosis: bleak to terminal.
D: [listening to “Freedom’s Smashed”] Turn it up! This is the ’80s back with a vengeance! [listening to lyrics: “Smashing down freedom / Smashing our freedoms / Wah! / Smashing our freedom / Freedom’s running scared/ Freedom’s running out of time/Freedom’s gone!”] Shit! I’m flipping out here. I could live inside this sound.
C: The rhythm is really amazing, it’s like John Henry hitting a punching bag—and Alan Vega is the ringside coach talking to himself about how they’re gonna lose, the fix is in.
D: Yeah baby! Freedom’s going down. It’s terminal idiocy, nobody’s paying attention. But Suicide always knew what was going down in the negative times.
C: The vocals really are astonishing in their range, very actorly. Repeated phrases in different intonations, suggesting different moods, different meanings—shock, resignation, despair, hope; and then there are all those Goblin-esque shrieks and gurgles in the background.
D: This is America at its most violent, self-flagellating. [Repeating lines from “Station Station”] “There was a TIME/ When you could dream /Now—NOW / It has become a crime/ to dream! / It has become a CRIME/ to dream.” Talking about the dream losers. Doing a deeper analysis of American society. Sometimes there’s something at work in the culture that normal journalism can’t decipher. And right now is not normalcy, my friend. One thing’s for sure: this won’t be giving comfort to the neighbors.
C: Hey, Springsteen has been doing [Suicide song] “Dream Baby Dream” live lately.
D: [pause] Little Steven was pretty good, but I always thought Alan Vega and Martin Rev should have had characters on The Sopranos.
C: Especially with those world’s biggest sunglasses that Alan Vega always wears.
D: It’s his signature. They belong in Cleveland in that Rock N Roll museum.
C: Yes, right next to all the other sunglasses of rock ‘n’ roll: Stevie Wonder, Bootsy Collins, Ray Charles, Velvet Underground, Elton John, Sly Stone, Yoko Ono, Roy Orbison. Only, Alan Vega’s would be behind cracked glass with bars in front and you’d hear someone yelling at the television in back.
D: [in Alan Vega voice] “Freedom’s smashed!”

MAGIK MARKERS
Boss
(Ecstatic Peace/Universal)
D: More ominosity.
C [handing D another beer]: This is the new Magik Markers album, and it’s much more straightahead than you’d expect from their reputation as improv poet noise-stars. These are recognizable drums-guitar-vocal duo songs with relatively melodic chant-singing by Elisa Ambrogio and surprisingly in-the-pocket drumming by brother Pete Nolan. There’s even a pretty good stab [“Empty Bottles”] at a piano ballad.
D: “Body Rot” and “Taste” remind me of the lest-we-forget great dark mystical ’80s Californian band Opal—
C: Respect to Kendra Smith.
D: —and that band the Kills who made one really good album and then….
C: Yeah there’s a similarity—in a driving, on-the-edge-of-something-intense, and she has a similar voice to the Kills singer V.V., but this seems more committed to um, murder, or something. “Last of the Lemach Line” has that good ol’ grimy looming-catastrophe-in-a-dying-factory-city sound… like Godspeed!, or Kim’s Sonic Youth jams. Patti Smith in her freer, less barroom moments. This is not beer music. [looks at band photograph on CD] But you could drink bottles of whiskey to it on a hot Saturday afternoon, which is apparently what they did when they were made it!
D: [in own world] Hmm… What did happen to the Kills?
C: Being confused with The Killers would probably be enough to cause any band to do themselves in. But my best guess is they were killed by a drum machine WITH NO SOUL.
D: That never would’ve happened if they’d used Suicide’s drum machine. Early ’70s SoHo soul, baby! [looks at empty beer bottle, bellows in Jim Morrison voice:] Beer me madly/Beer me one more time today!
C: Life: enjoy it while it lasts!

BLUES CONTROL
Blues Control
(Holy Mountain/Revolver)
D: [looking at CD spine] “Blues Control”?
C: I know, sounds like a pimple commercial. “Son, we know you’ve been having a hard time lately. Maybe you should think about using…BLUES CONTROL (TM)? It wipes away those hard-to-kill blues in a matter of minutes. “Control your blues today with Blues Control.”
D: I think my current blues control is a beer with a German girl on it. [pauses, thinks] They are hard at work on something, but I’m not sure who’s at the controls.
C: It’s a di-sexual instro duo on guitars and keys, with a drum machine. Lea Cho and Russ Waterhouse. Seems like they have two major modes: brute force monstrosity trudge in the cloudsmashing style of the mighty Blue Cheer…
D: And impressionist, introspective space and electronic plant music on that subtle plane visited by Eric Satie and Popul Vuh, with the subaquatic melodica of Sir Augustus Pablo…
C: [chuckles] That’s a team-up to be reckoned with.
D: These other songs are some pretty heavy duty stuff! It’s music you hear when you dig a hole deep enough to listen to what’s going on inside the earth. Troglobite rock, baby. And I am a troglophile!
C: [carrying on] If they put this out on vinyl, and I think that they did, it should be on coated 540 gram for the needle’s sake.
D: It should be on shellac. [finishing another beer] Analog all over your face! Ya heard?
C: Maybe I should put something else on before things get any more out of control…

CELEBRATION
The Modern Tribe
(4AD/Beggars Group)
C: …
D: Well, here’s our first obvious album-of-the-year contender.
C [listening to “Pressure” and “Pony”] The singer’s totally going for it. It’s like Johnette Napolitano … fronting a shit-hot psychedelic-funk-dance band on an electro-church run to the dub castles of Jamaica. And yes, I just made that up.
D: The singer is not holding back. Fuck me…two times!
C: [ignoring C’s outburst] Like a more passionate, more organic and more, dare I say ‘soulful’ LCD Soundsystem, fronted by a belter of a singer, who is a woman. [rhetorically:] How badly do we need this?
D: Women are DEFINITELY where it’s at right now.
C: [quizzical] And maybe always…? But yeah, so awesome. Produced by Dave Sitek from TV on the Radio, and those guys sing on it too but you can tell that. Reminds me of Moonshake, or Laika, only more muscular, funkier.
D: There is a certain Eurythmics-soul quality apparent here. [pauses] But she may actually be undermixed. Underrepresented. I want to hear the words.
C [listening to “Hands Off My Gold”]: You were right at the top, this is the album to beat, there’s hit after hit here.
D: [self-righteously] But of course, music is not a competition!
C: [smug] Oh yeah, of course not.
D: …
C: …
D: So, interested in a friendly wager?

FAUST
Faust IV
(Caroline/Virgin/Capitol)
D [listening to the opening track “Krautrock”]: Well, this is pretty clearly the source of Spacemen 3’s “Revolution,” even down to where the drums come in And there’s that Can-Hawkwind motorik rhythm. It must be… FAUST! What is this, 1973?
C: Yes and yes and yes again—sir, you are the sweepstakes winner!
D: Thank you veddy much, ladies and gentlemen. [pauses] Whoops, I mean no ladies and one gentleman.
C: Yeah well, if there were ladies here, I’m sure you’d be to busy checking your blackberry instead of actually talking to a live female human being.
D: [snorts] Silence in the lower ranks!
C: …
D: Ahem.
C: …
D: So, I never listened to Faust, they were always a big question mark for me.
C: Me too.
D: They might have been one of the most radical, political bands in Germany. Then again it was a very political time in Germany. And it’s not anymore. There’s no nail bombs anymore, just police teargas…
C: The bass sound on “Jennifer” is amazing is insane, timeless. It’s Syd Barrett inside deeply abstract bass sound, that’s essentially, basically electronic. The mix is so daring. What else sounded like this, ever?
D: This [“Just a Second (Starts Like That”)] is what we’re talking about. That certain pulse that only the Germans and Hawkwind could do.
C: Yeah, and, um, remember this band called Creedence Clearwater Revival? “Suzie Q”…
D: —is pretty much the template for everything. Highest praise to John Fogerty, one of the last surviving Great Americans of the Golden Age. You better recognize! [four minutes into “Giggy Smile”]: But—did Creedence ever dare to get this far out…into giddiness? And electronics?
C: The La Dusseldorf guys were pretty goofy. But, yeah this kind of multi-genre hopping —folk, motorik, drone, psychedelic pop—in such good spirits, so fearlessly, so without a care. Zappa? Mutantes? Amazing that there was some kind of audience for this, enough for them all to make careers. What a time that was… [drifts off]
D: By the way, I have an addendum to make. No one had cooler sunglasses than Om Khalthoum. Egyptian Moderne will always be the number one fashion look.
C: ???
D [mysteriously]: Those who know, know…

WHITE RAINBOW
Prism of Eternal Now
(Marriage vinyl/Kranky cd)
D [jaw agape]: I feel like I’m listening to the soundtrack to the truly great cosmic film Ralph Bakshi was never allowed to make.
C: [also gone] Wow…with super guitars and tablas and some seriously Steve Reich maneuvers on the vocals…
D: [at end of seven-minute first track] This is what Strawberry Jam wishes it could sound like.
C: And it’s all one guy. Remember? He did that “vibrational healing chamber” at ArthurBall a year and a half ago.
D: [one minute into third track] Serious pedal-oriented vibrations on this one. This will take a long time to investigate properly.
C: It’s like half Fripp/Eno “Swastika Girls,” half Terry Riley “Poppy Nogood.” Multi-tracked guitars riff away over a bed of raw synthesizer grooves. Incredible!
D: Massive!
C: I think we may have just left the beer portion of the evening.
D: Which can mean only one thing: Bring on the papalolo!

DEVENDRA BANHART
Old Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon
(XL/Beggars Banquet)
D: Ah, not this guy again. Every single record of his, we have to review. Why?
C: Well, those at the controls of this operation like to keep tabs. See how things grow. See how the organism evolves.
D: [takes a tug on the pipe] This is Devendra’s White Album. Or the truest Tropicalia tribute album.
C: He took a longer time to make this record, really took the opportunity to stretch out and go for it with his band. The whole thing is a sprawling beauty, but there’s two kinds of songs, basically: some party goofs – reggae, doo-wop, Doorsish epics, Crazy Horse workouts—and gorgeous quiet slow-goers. A band, a talent, in full-bloom.
D: Plus Vashti Bunyan and Linda Perhacs on here? It can’t be true!
C: And yet it is. Another album-of-the-year-contender.
[E barges in through door out of nowhere]: Agh! This slow breakup shit is killing me! [grabs beer, sits down on couch]. You know you’re in trouble when you’ve been staring at a pulsing Apple logo for three days straight! Agh! It’s slow torture, everything I’m doing right now. [chills out] Hey, what is this?
C: The new Devendra.
E: The do-what now?
D: The new Devendra!
E: [listening to “Seahorse”] This is actually pretty good. I thought I didn’t like this dude, Mr. Defreaky McWeirdbeard, but…
C: It’s those canyon vibes. Chill out…

DANIEL A.I.U. HIGGS
Atomic Yggdrasil Tarot hardcover book with cd
(Thrill Jockey)
C: New album of extended instrumentals by Daniel Higgs, housed in a hardcover book of paintings and large type text.
D: [Reads from book] ”Our actions are God’s food.” Whoa. “Devils Establish Absolute Truth Here.” “Grief Obscures Delight.” I don’t understand any of this but it is clearly a major artistic statement.
C: The first letters from each word in those phrases forms another word. So—
E: Give me that. [Reads from book] These paintings are beautiful, like Miro on a serious hermetic trip. “TERROR: Tirelessly Extending Rays Reaching Our Reality.”
C: Maybe I’ve been unadventurous, but Daniel Higgs the spookiest performer I’ve ever seen who’s not named Diamanda Galas. With black candles and a fog machine, this could send you into that void for sure.
D: He is clearly on his own path into the big infinity void, telling it like it is.

The Source: The Untold Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wa 13 and the Source Family book with cd
by Isis Aquarius with Electricity Aquarius, foreword by Erik Davis
(Process Media)
C: This is the long-awaited group autobiography/history of the Source Family, an early-’70s cult in Los Angeles led by super-charismatic older dude who called himself Father Yod, or as he was known later, Ya Ho Wa. He had 100-plus followers, including 14 wives.
D [piping in]: And Sky Saxon from The Seeds!
C: [puts book’s accompanying CD on] They had a rock band that recorded studio albums and played daytime shows at schools. They had a big mansion, VW buses and Rolls-Royces, lived in Los Feliz. The whole thing was funded by the super-organic restaurant they ran on Sunset Boulevard that all the celebrities ate at.
E: Yeah, right. Give me that. [grabs book, reads caption of photo of Father in a pool surrounded by naked women] “Teaching water aerobics?” This guy… This is some weird fucking white pimp shit is what this is. What the heck is this, man? I guess in California, if you look like God, you are God.
C: He was a practicing Sikh and they don’t cut their hair. And he says on the CD that it’s hair that gives your body vitamin D, so the more of it you have…
E: Hey there’s some great breastfeeding shots in here.
C: It’s one of the cults that ended well.
E: What, they were the one cult that didn’t kill people or themselves?
C: He died after a serious hang gliding crash in Hawaii, he refused hospital treatment.
E: [reading] “His pain was so intense that YaHoWha wanted anything to relieve it, and he took what we had on hand to help him through it: Darvon, aspirin, champagne, Sacred Herb, Sacred Snow, and nitrous oxide.”
D: Well, that would do it.
C: And not long after that, they split up.
E: “Sacred Snow”?!? With capital S’s?!? [cackles] “The word of God cannot be copyrighted.” This is the most classic shit ever. I’ll take it. [Runs out the door, cackling] Hahahaha!

ANGELS OF LIGHT
We Are Him
(Young God/Revolver)
D: I know that voice. Swans!
C: Yeah, it’s Michael Gira’s new album. It’s got quite a sound—the Akron/Family dudes are all on here, but so are the old Gira hands like Bill Rieflin and Christoph Hahn. Layers of stuff, perfectly arranged: guitars, banjo, piano, flute, strings, accordion, melodica, hammer dulcimer.
D: [listening to “Promise of Water”] Still menacing and grand after all these years.
C: It’s…ceremonial, melodic, yearning. [“The Man We Left Behind”] is like a slow Johnny Cash waltz, just beautiful.
D: [Listening to “My Brother’s Man”] And he can still punish at will.
C: “Not Here/Not Now” throbs with life; and this (“Joseph’s Song”) has the most unexpected Gira move ever: it goes uptempo into a trombone-led jamboree.
D: A Giramboree!
C: [laughs] Like the Devendra album, this his opens up so much new territory. Unbelievable, wonderful to hear, especially coming from a veteran artist. Another album of the year contender that demands further examination…

WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM
Two Hunters
(Southern Lord)
D: [looks admiringly at black album cover with a single wolf’s skull on it in gold.] This is the best cover tonight! This is what awaits. [maniacally] As Brother Theodore, said: “Friends flee. Lovers leave. Worms wait.”
C: I might be headed back into the metal direction again. It makes the most sense when you loathe what’s around you and want to block it all out. And this is huge, majestic. Like Mogwai with a power drummer—
D [interrupting]: I think the drummer may have had some interaction with Sacred Snow.
C: —and a black metal wraith on vocals. This song is now in its ninth minute.
D: This is the one! This is heavy work in the dark metal machine. When he sings, no human entity can be identified.
C: This could be the end of the wolf bands.
D: They’ve killed them all and are roasting them on the barbecue. Where are they from? Sweden?
C: What does it say on the sleeve?
D: I can’t make out a single word. [Third track, with angelic female vocalist, starts] This has the stamp of truly obsessed.
C [reading “Artist Statement” from band’s website] “Our project is based in the forests of Olympia, Washington—
D: The land of the mighty Thrones!
C: “Our music is a reflection of the land in which we dwell; it draws its power from the long, dark winters, the perpetual mist… Our philosophies are anti-modern, romantic and anti-human, a musical expression of an emerging eco-black metal consciousness that has taken root here in the Pacific Northwest.”
D [dazzled]: “Eco black-metal”?
C: “We are unique in that we express a deeply underground ideology on a larger stage. Our Black Metal is highly local and personal—not beholden to the expectations and demands of any scene. Our music is rooted in the traditions of Black Metal, but we subvert the aesthetic and ideology to remain true to our personal manifestation. To us, Black Metal might be understood as the Death card in the Tarot or the number 13, which represents not an end to life, but the shedding of an old and outmoded way of being: death and rebirth, transformation and enlightenment. Our music is perhaps what happens after the initial, necessary, hateful burst; after the psychic explosion that is Black Metal wipes away that which came before: the sick and twisted “truths” of our modern condition. For in Black Metal, we see great truth, transcendence and power. Black Metal is the cleansing fire that frees us from the bondage of rationality, science, morality, religion, leaving us free to choose our own path.”
E: Well, there you go.
C: [musing] Does Daniel Higgs know these guys?
D: This band should curate the next Wagner Ring Cycle. They need it, the young edge, some new blood. And they have extreme people doing extreme Rings all the time, like Schlingzief is going to do the new one. He’s the biggest cultural star of Germany. He made Freakstar 3000.
C: Is he the Matthew Barney of Germany?
D: In a way, maybe. He’s a total anarchist.
C: “Thank you Cremaster, may I have another?”
D: You know that’s where all the old Nazis come out of hiding, at the annual Ring Cycle. It’s the biggest cultural event in Germany on this old-scale, old-school level. That’s where you see all of them together. [shivers] Everybody knows about it but it’s not talked about.
C: What can I say but: Send in the Wolves!

MARIEE SIOUX
Faces in the Rocks
(Grassroots)
D: What can I say? A beautiful voice of nature, singing about nature, in nature. Contentment and beauty. Forest-folk.
C: [listening to “Friendboats”] Gorgeous. She’s another one of these amazing folks from the Nevada City area in California. Terry Riley, Gary Snyder, Joanna Newsom, Noah Georgeson, Alela Diane, Dream Magazine… Something is going on up there.
D: Maybe it’s the same thing as what’s going on in the woods outside Olympia, only…
C: No two forests are alike. I am picturing her singing next to the Yuba River on a summer afternoon, everyone’s high on old-growth oxygen and riverside blueberries…
D: [Listening to “Flowers and Blood,” closes eyes] Ah. Please do not interrupt my serenity.

LAist's February, 2008 interview with Arthur editor Jay Babcock

From LAist.com:

LAist Interview: Jay Babcock from Arthur Magazine
by Nikki Bazar

Whether it’s free bands by the river, obscure films at the Silent Movie Theatre or music festivals featuring great non-mainstream bands, Arthur magazine has improved L.A.’s sullied corporate reputation by organizing eclectic, margin-friendly events that embody the magazine’s mission to represent “transgenerational counterculture.” Case in point: Arthur’s Sunday Evenings series at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, which continues this weekend with eccentric songwriter Michael Hurley and next Sunday evening with psych-rock band Wooden Shjips. On Feb. 13, the magazine also presents a launch of Abby Banks’ new book Punk House at Family on Fairfax. The book features photos of punk houses from across the country ⎯ a few of which are reprinted in this month’s issue of Arthur. We asked Jay Babcock, guru of Arthur magazine, a few questions about the upcoming shows. Continue on to read more about the dire state of L.A.’s all-ages scene, the mysterious absence of our rock ‘n’ roll elders, and the fall and rise of Arthur magazine.

Q: Tell me about the bands you’ve chosen for this series.

Michael Hurley is a legendary folk nomad, one of America’s great weird individuals, who’s been around the block many times. His newest record is on Devendra Banhart’s record label. Alela Diane is another one of these amazing musicians coming out of Nevada City. The Rough Trade record shop in Europe said her album was the best of the year, and they had a point. Matteah Baim put out a really good record last year, a dark folk sound, ice-ghost sort of thing, headed toward Nico’s stuff. On the 17th is Wooden Shjips, a psychedelic raga band from San Francisco; Mariee Sioux from Nevada City; and Headdress ⎯ also wandering nomads who sound like an even darker, slightly more country Brightblack Morning Light. But with several of these artists, I’ve never seen ’em, so there’s a bit of mystery there for me just as there probably will be for most of the audience. Which is part of the fun.

Q: It’s good to see some decent bands on the Westside. How did you land on McCabe’s as the venue?

Jared Flamm at Everloving encouraged me to get in touch with Lincoln Myerson at McCabe’s, who’d told me a while back that McCabe’s and Arthur might be a good match. McCabe’s have been around for 50 years and haven’t used an outside booker/curator since the early mid-‘90s. Lincoln let us book whoever we wanted to do whatever they wanted musically ⎯ within reason, of course. So, the size of the venue dictates a lot of things, like how much money you can offer your talent, and we had to think about who we could afford to put in there and keep the door price low, and also who was available. Given those parameters, the goal was to put individual line-ups together who would form an interesting evening and also attract a mixed-generation audience. I really wanted to work with McCabe’s because it’s very simple ⎯ it’s about music, it’s not about alcohol sales. Also, it’s an all-ages venue. Ever since we did Arthur Ball at the Echoplex, which was 18 and over, I’ve been insistent that we only do all-ages shows, because I don’t think anyone should be excluded from good music. Also, I wanted a transgenerational group of artists. We call Arthur a “transgenerational counterculture magazine,” and we mean it. There is a coherent counterculture that runs from the beats to the hippies to the punks, forward. They have more in common with each other than they do with the mainstream culture. In any of our festivals we do, we try to include older artists as well as younger ones. It’s truly “all ages” onstage, and we’d like to see that more in the audience. There’s so many great artists that live here in Los Angeles ⎯ Tom Petty, Joni Mitchell, John Fogerty, Ray Manzarek, Dylan lives here sometimes ⎯ and you never, ever see them at shows. I assume they don’t participate in the local culture because they got burned one too many times with overhyped crap, or it’s just too much of a hassle to be out in public. Or maybe they just don’t have any interest and they’d rather roll one more at home and listen to Jim Ladd rhapsodize about the past rather than get out there and do something. But they should. ‘Think cosmically, act locally’ is a great credo, you know? You live here? Then BE here. A lot of cool stuff becomes possible when you mix the energy of the youth and the wisdom of the older folks: think of Allen Ginsberg’s continuing, lifelong interest in the best young artists ⎯ his advocacy for them ⎯ whether it was the blues guys or jazz players or the hippies or the punks, it was all the same to him. McCabe’s has such a great history, and is a venue a lot of those people have played at, and it’s so pure in its only interest being music (as opposed to alcohol sales) that I’m hoping some people older than 50 see what’s going on, something that may have more of a spiritual, political or aesthetic resonance with them than they may at first think.

Q: Arthur shut down for a spell in early 2007, then resurfaced with a redesign. Do you care to talk about what happened?

My partner for many years was looking to not be the publisher anymore and eventually, he didn’t want to own it either, so he wanted me to buy him out which I couldn’t afford to do. That’s when the magazine died. Then we made an arrangement that allowed me to gain 100 percent of the magazine. We’d already planned the transition to Mark Frohman and Molly Frances as the new art directors before the whole thing went down, so that’s just a coincidence. After I got full control of the magazine, we decided to go all color and go for it. We’re just continuing to do what we’ve been doing for five years. And there’s always new blood coming in. Next issue, [author] Erik Davis is going to start doing a column for us and there will be a lot of other surprises. So basically, I just took on more credit card debt and a lot of people loaned me money and we were able to go forward.

Q: What sort of things do you hope to do with the magazine that you just aren’t able to right now?

Well, it’d be nice for everyone to get paid what they deserve. We work from our homes in Atwater, we have tea at India Sweets & Spices or lunch at Tacos Villa Corona or Viet’s new noodle place, we sit by the river for inspiration and excitement … It’s not the toughest life. But as a business? We’re making a go of it, but we do want to be monthly and we want to have more pages. There’s so much good stuff to cover. The rest of the media is collapsing and there’s a lot of really good writers, photographers and cartoonists who deserve a wider audience and no one’s giving it to them for some reason. So the main pressure on us is to jam as much stuff into the magazine as possible without making it an aesthetic mess. If we had more pages, it could breathe a little bit more and we could cover a lot more of the good stuff that’s going on.

Q: And you obviously have a love for print.

The free magazine model is a really solid one, and it’s working, and it’s gonna work better in 2008 for us. Print is near-perfect. It’s portable, it doesn’t require batteries, you don’t have to squint, it’s a bigger window, you can do more design things than you can on a computer screen and it gets out there in front of people who aren’t looking for it necessarily. With the web, mostly what you get are people who are already looking for you. And of course, you can read a magazine by the river. Try looking at a website there.

Q: Is it your mission to book a lot of smaller acts that you don’t see as much in some of the bigger 21-and-over venues?

For a city this big, it’s absurd there aren’t more places where people of all ages can get together and hear something other than mainstream arena pop and rock with good quality sound in a comfortable setting. The only real venue in this city where people of all ages can gather together to hear music at a low price with good sound in a comfortable setting at a reasonable hour is Amoeba. You’re in a bad situation as a culture when you’re dependent on a store ⎯ a place of commerce ⎯ for the presentation of music to the public. We’ve written about this in Arthur in our all-ages series. You know, if you’re into music, bars are not the ideal venues. You don’t want to hear other people talking or the cash register ringing or bottles being dropped in a garbage pail. You don’t want to be hanging out with a bunch of amateur drunks. That has a place, but not all music is right for that. There just should be a greater range of venues. It’s also bad for the bands. You can’t build a career by getting one chance to intrigue the hipsters. And if we can help raise the profile of some of these artists by putting our brand name on it, then good. It’s very hard for artists to break in because everything is so calcified on radio and in venues.

Q: Arthur is developing a real presence in the L.A. music scene.

We’re working with people at a very local level who are in it for the right reasons ⎯ the folks at Family and at McCabe’s and The Cinefamily, it’s all labor of love stuff. We like labor of lovers, basically. Doesn’t really matter what it is they love. It’s the loving that is important. Those are our people, those are the people we want to hang out with in such grim times. We’re just trying to use whatever profile or heft we may have to hopefully help other people do what they love too.