Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Jason LaFarge

VP: When did you first get into recording and what was your first set up? Did you start lo-fi with the old cassette decks or was it better gear?

JLF: Well, my fascination for recording definitely came from my dad, who always had the best home audio gear. And as he would upgrade his stereo components, he would hand the old ones down to me. We're talking old McIntosh tube amps and his old Tandberg and Teac reel to reels (which I still have).

He mostly used it to record broadcasts off of FM radio, or to make backups of rare recordings on LP (always classical or jazz). He was never much into live recording, but his love of fine audio gear definitely had an effect on me. I remember trying to get more punch out of LP recordings I had by running them kind of hot to a high-bias cassette with Dolby on and then playing them back with it off.

Later, when I was in high school and started playing in rock bands (mid-'80s), dad bought me a Tascam Porta05 for Christmas. A somewhat shitty 4-track cassette recorder, but it put me in the frame of mind for multi-track recording. I used that recorder for years, off and on until I "upgraded" to a black-faced ADAT and then a 20-bit ADAT set up. Although I’d worked with 2" tape and DAW systems at other studio set-ups, I didn't upgrade to my Otari MTR-90 and ProTools rig until I relocated Seizures Palace to Brooklyn.

VP: So recording was a passion for you young. What prompted you to open your own studio?

JLF: Seizures Palace had existed as the project studio for Pineal Ventana (in a rehearsal space at Black Box and then later in the basement of Danette and Mitch's house in East Atlanta). We had recorded 2 records with Martin Bisi in the late '90s and I became friends with him during that stretch. After Pineal Ventana's demise (in 2001), Victory Girls was formed and Seizures Palace continued in Danette's basement.

Just prior to a planned vacation in NYC, I got an e-mail from Bisi stating that he never got a copy of the last PV album we had recorded with him. So during our vacation, we came out to visit Martin and gave him a copy of Axes to Ice.

It was then that he brought up the idea of another studio moving in to the space to keep overhead costs down (there had been several live-in tenants in the non-studio parts of the space for years, but NYC was cracking down on people living in industrial-zoned areas, so Bisi was looking for a business to move in). I didn't give much thought to it at the time, but when I got back to Atlanta, I went back to my retail job at Tower Records (at the beginning of the holiday season) and realized I hated it (as I had been there for 10 years -far too long).

Then, Victory Girls had a show at the Earl and just prior to going on; I found out that Danette was pregnant. Immediately I knew there was no way I could keep a studio running in the basement with a baby upstairs. During the entire show, I was consumed with thoughts of relocating to Brooklyn and running a full-time professional studio. I e-mailed Martin that night for details. That was the end of November 2001. We moved to Brooklyn on March 1st, 2002.

VP: Now you’re situated in one of the underground's most historic recording studios. Can you give a brief history of the studio prior to your arrival?

JLF: The studio is located in an old Civil War-era munitions warehouse (later a tin can factory) on the Gowanus Canal. In 1979 a very young Martin Bisi and some cohorts from high school (Fred Maher, Nicky Skopelitis) took over the space as a living space/rehearsal space. Maher and Skopelitis had an older friend who played bass (Bill Laswell) and he soon moved in. This was the beginning of Material. As I understand it, Martin was their road manager/sound guy in those days. At some point early on, Martin inherited some money and purchased the board still used at BC Studio - an old MCI board from Sigma Sound in Philadelphia (used on the old Philly Sound stuff like O'Jays, Spinners and Stylistics, as well as Bowie's Young Americans). He had spent all of his inheritance on this board and a 1-inch 16-track machine and had no money left over for cabling/mics/outboard gear, and caught all kinds of shit from the Material guys for not spending his money more wisely. Luckily, Brian Eno had heard Material and decided he wanted to work with them.

He came out and saw the space and what he had to work with, and realized that despite the nice gear, it was an incomplete studio. He ended up giving Martin a large sum of money to finish the studio and the first time Bisi ever hit record on a tape machine, it was for Eno's On Land record. He was 19.

So, in the early years of the studio, it was called OAO Studio and was a collaborative studio between Laswell and Bisi. During this period, they were involved in recording some of the early New York hip-hop albums and part of the seminal Future Shock by Herbie Hancock (including the famous scratching on Rockit). At some point there was a falling out between the two, and Laswell moved out, starting his own studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Martin renamed the studio BC Studio and ended up recording countless classic records there (Sonic Youth, Swans, Naked City, Cop Shoot Cop, Boredoms, Alice Donut, the list goes on and on and on...).

Despite their earlier falling out, Bisi and Laswell continued to occasionally collaborate there on studio projects including records by Iggy Pop, The Ramones and White Zombie. They no longer work togetherin the studio, but last year they did a show with John Zorn. Martin is now in semi-retirement, mostly working on his own musical output.

Check out www.martinbisi.com for details of what he is up to...

VP: Your building quite a reputation yourself, working with Michael Gira's Angels of Light, Khanate,

and Akron/Family. Who else have you been working with recently and how have these experiences shaped your vision of sound to recorded medium?

JLF: In the last couple of years I've had some very diverse music come through the doors. Some of my favorites have been Chicha Libre, Bad Girlfriend, and OvO . As far as shaping my vision of sound to recorded medium, I'm not sure exactly what you mean. I guess something like Chicha Libre presents a challenge for me in that they use instruments I'm not used to recording.

Getting the best sound out of an acoustic instrument is almost always more difficult thanmicing an amp.

VP: I mean your approach to production and the over all sound of a recording. Production value can "date" a record some what, like the over reverbered sound of the '80's, with no bass frequency at all. Some engineers like Steve Albini have a sound you can hear if you know his work. Do you have a particular approach recording or is it just the room sound that makes it distinct?

JLF: In general, my philosophy is to capture the sound of the artist. I'm not trying to put my "Signature sound" all over the recording. For example, the room certainly has a distinct sound for drums, but not all bands require a big drum sound with lots of ambient room mics mixed in. Some bands require a nice tight drum sound. You can pull that off in that room because the room sound doesn't get in the close mics. Sometimes bands need that "dated" sound. There have been more than a couple of records I've done that were soaked in reverb because that's what the music called for. I'm just trying to dowhat's best for the music.

VP: Besides recording at Seizure's Palace, your working with Andrew Barker in the Doom Band Hallux. What's the philosophy of the project and are you working on an album?

JLF: Well, Andrew first approached me after the Blue Prostitutes show that he curated at Union Pool and asked me if was interested in playing in a drop-C slow metal band. Apparently he has always wanted to play guitar in a metal band (he is mostly known for his jazz drumming). I was intrigued and we got together with another fellow-Atlantan, Hans Chew on drums. It kind of clicked from the get-go. After a couple of rehearsals, we brought in Jake Klotz to do vocals. One of the things I really like about this project is the diverse backgrounds of the musicians in the band. Andrew is a free-jazz drummer, Hans is a great honky tonk piano player (he has a solo record coming out soon - www.hanschew.com), Jake is a guitarist/vocalist in La Lus, and I've played in a few odd bands myself. I think I'm the only one who has played metal in a band before (Deity 5000) but it was nothing like this. I don't know that there is necessarily a philosophy to Hallux other than "low and slow." We have a record almost completed that we are very happy with. We are currently mulling over our options as far as getting it out. We will certainly press it to vinyl. I'm sure we'll be posting a release date in the near future on www.myspace.com/halluxmusic.

VP: Anything else you'd like to ad?

JLF: In this day and age, if you are not making music for yourself (primarily), then you are in it for the wrong reasons. That's it. Enjoy what you do and you will always have a certain level of accomplishment...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Elliot Levin

For a really brief but informative Bio for Elliot Levin, please check out Eugene Chadbourne's Post From

VP: I've seen you perform several times through out the years, usually just jumping up on stage and diving right into the groups performing.
Is improv your primary mode of playing music?

EL: Improvisation is spontaneous composition.
is the way we all learn to play I believe- at least at first. I was drawn into playing by the pleasure and the power derived from the consciousness which is opened and developed through this process of tuning in to this creative force- through the disciplines of practice, meditation, magic, and other devices of trance attainment.
Sometimes it's for a moment, sometimes for hours. I remember very clearly one of the first times I experienced this on a higher level when "jamming" with some close friends with whom I was undergoing shamanic rituals and training. There was a point where we clearly and openly found ourselves reading each other's minds...our souls! It was at the same time frightening, awe-inspiring, humbling, and joyful. There were many various lesser incidents leading up to this over the early years. It is a continual process to keep finding that space in different contexts with different individuals. But practicing and creating through "classical" forms has always been an interesting way for me to fine tune a pathway to this state.

There were several key "teachers" who led me to these paths, but ultimately the greatest lesson they all taught was that you can only learn it by yourself...but draw profoundly from "inspiration". I have worked with many ensembles, but mostly with a nucleus (though expanding) of people I have played with over a number of years. Although I enjoy the practice of performing with no specific rehearsals, the truth is we rehearse all our lives., and when we understand that, we are always practicing at any given time, whether through an instrument- or as Sun Ra said- "people are the instruments".

But using preconceived compositional vehicles is a good way for many of these collaborations to find "focus" and "intonation" among the players.
Within the context of a continuous ensemble, this can grow very complex and powerful; but there is always an excitement and beauty to the sound that occurs from new, unplanned, and even chance encounters with other artists.

VP: So within certain constructs, it's OK to start with a preconceived notion to develop the inspiration within an improvised piece of music to attain "Entrainment" or what the old jazz improvisers called "crossing the bridge"?

EL: I guess in any situation- with known or unknown musicians, there are some preconceived notions- whether verbalized or not. Totally spontaneous "unplanned" improvisation is something I have always enjoyed. I have noticed this is common with European free-improvisors...also with musicians who come from "classical European" educational backgrounds, and who have expanded or redirected their performance into the improvisational realm.

This is a beautiful form I think, but the most intense improvisational experiences I have had have been with musicians with whom I've worked many hours on predetermined structures- even if loose or more conceptual than standard "music staff/score" notation...and then using that as a focal point, finding ways to diverge and stretch into far-reaching tangents.

Cecil Taylor is one of the great masters of this form. I have spent many long hours (at least 4-6 hours a day, for periods sometimes of many weeks or months) practicing specific -though constantly changing- preconceived melodies and rhythms with his ensembles, preparing for a concert. But when we do get to the stage, the structures are so internalized, the performers are free to interpret them as literally- or not- as they both personally and collectively choose. It's a system of constant personal choice and aesthetic going through changes- which is the heart and soul of improvised music...to me. And certainly what I have come to know and love as "jazz".

VP: Cecil Taylor is known for his percussive playing style, odd time signatures, and his approach to the avant-garde. How has performing with him changed your approach to music?

EL: Meeting and playing and being friends with Cecil Taylor has changed- or helped direct- my music, and my life.

Cecil is a master musician- one of the world's greats of our time, He is also a great shaman, or teacher...mystic, guru...all terms I don't use often, but in his case they are valid. I met him in 1973- when I was just turning 20. I was also just starting to take music seriously, and considering it to be the major force in my life. This was after just going through my adolescence - in that incredible time of the 1960's when attaining higher consciousness became a major driving force in many of our lives- and for me has remained so to this day.

Cecil Taylor was a great affirmation in what I was doing, and where I was headed- certainly musically, but in many aspects of life as well. Even though I was very limited in my music training (1 year of music studies at a university, and maybe a couple more of private study- coming out of many years of listening and jamming), after just a few months of sitting in on his residency classes (and ensemble) at Glassboro (now Rowan) Univ., he invited me to be part of his Orchestra in NYC in 1974, which contained many of my musical idols, along with contemporaries, who have since become mainstays on the modern ("jazz:) music scene.

This alone was a great lesson, in that he could have chosen any number of musicians with greater knowledge experience and reputation, but knew that from me he would get an abundance of enthusiasm, dedication and energy that maybe wouldn't have been offered by a more "seasoned" musician. Even though probably most- if not all- of the musicians involved were ahead of me in terms of study and experience- when he asked me if I thought I was ready to hang with this group, I never hesitated for a second. I have always felt totally comfortable, and at home in the society and context of this part of the music world... I will clarify this and say- more at home there...because anywhere in the world among human beings, there is always some conflict and division. But to this day, I have found it is where I am at my best, and where I most want to be.

VP: Please tell me about what your working on now and your ESP release.

EL: The ESP release came about through my old friend Michael Anderson- who is a drummer, and used to play with The Sun Ra Arkestra, when he lived in Phila. He came to my house one day and asked me to hear any recordings I had that I would like to release. This was difficult because I have 30 years of (at least to me) very interesting music on recordings, varying from cassettes, 1/4", 1/2", 1", 2"- reels, DATs, CDs, etc.

I played him quite a few, and one of the ones he took with him was NEW GHOST. This is a band that guitarist Rick Iannacone and I started with his 2 twin-brother cousins Steve & John Testa (bass & drums). They at the time lived together, and Rick and I shared a house for 15 years, so it was like a family band. We rehearsed for many, many months- recording jams, and constructing "songs" out of the playbacks, often adding my poetry as lyrics. It was a phenomenal experience.

I love the music , and we got to do a few tours in Europe, but mostly played in Phila/NY. But the cousins got married, moved away, it became difficult to travel. Thurston Moore, John Zorn, and others asked me for tapes- they all heard it and said it was incredible, but didn't know what to do with it(?!)...Bernard Stollman heard it, and immediately said he wanted to record it.

I had met Stollman when he came to record Cecil Taylor's ensemble at The Iridium ( I am on 2 of CT's FMP Releases - "Light of Corona" and "Almeda"). CT let him record us, but not release it (yet, anyway)...I found a lot of people didn't trust Stollman, but Mike Anderson insisted he pay me up front before I gave him the CD. It wasn't the greatest business deal in the world, but Bernard heard I was playing one night at The Stone- shortly after this- and he came over with a "wad of cash as a down-payment".
I wasn't getting rich, but it was equal to what any of the other independent "free jazz" labels have been offering. Plus, regardless of what people may think about the business, it was an honor for me to be on ESP- which produced many of the records I "grew up" listening to.

I also have a record out on PORTER Records- INTERPLAY- another band Rick and I have played with for many years- with 3 great percussionists: ED WATKINS, RON HOWERTON, AND KENO SPELLER. This was another live recording (as was NEW GHOST)...from TRITONE in PHILA. NEW GHOST was live UPSTAIRS AT NICK'S also in Phila. Both clubs were run by Rick D. (a punk/hard-core producer WHO ALSO LOVED FREE-JAZZ...HE PASSED AWAY LAST YEAR). Luke Mosling of PORTER sent me out to San Diego last year to record with drummer DAVID HURL'S band: ELLIOTT LEVIN MEETS SEESAW.

I have done several poetry CDs- one with guitarist/producer TIM MOTZER, and one for Paul Green's School of Rock label. I have done quite a bit of playing with MARSHALL ALLEN over the last few years- both live and in the Studio- usually with a band UB-313 (with keyboardist BRIAN MARSELLA,and drummer ED WATKINS). I play often with a great Gypsy/Balkan/jazz band called- The West Philadelphia Orchestra. We went to the Ollin Kan Festival this year in Mexico City. I went there earlier in the year to play with drummer GABRIEL LAUBER'S group.

I toured Europe several times this year- with bassist JAIR-ROHM PARKER WELLS, also various drummers- Klaus Kugel, Tony Bianco, Peter Uskylaa, and we recorded a CD with drummer ERIC SLICK(On AYLER Records). I also did tours with SIMONE WEISSENFELS a pianist from Leipzig.

I have 2 CDS out on drummer WEASEL WALTER's label- one with MARSHALL ALLEN, and bassist DAMON SMITH , the other with SCOTT LOONEY. We hope to record again next month with drummer MARC EDWARDS.

I play with ODEON POPE'S SAX CHOIR whenever they work over the last few years, and I am on his last CD LOCKED & LOADED Live at The Blue Note in NYC. Man...I guess a lot has been happening...but I certainly look forward to much more.

Post Script at press time:

For now we are doing a Sun. Jazz series at JC Dobbs in Phila. Tonight was INTERPLAY with Jamaaladeen Tacuma. Next Sun. I play with Calvin Weston & Waill which includes Yanni & Alexi Pappodopolous (from Stinking Lizaveta). The Sun. after is gypsy Balkan music with West Philadelphia Orchestra, and Nov. 1st is Robert Kenyatta's LA TUMBA (Afro-Caribbean jazz); then Nov 8th is Dan Peterson's BOTTOM FEEDERS where I have a chance to play baritone- which I rarely get to do, but love it. Also my Friend -poet John Sinclair will do a set with us. On Nov. 15th I believe I will be collaborating with bassist Warren Oree...and will see what happens after that. You can always check out my schedule, plus some of my music and poetry at: www.myspace.com/elliottlevin. Thanks. Elliott

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Leslie Keffer

Athens OH Native Leslie Keffer is a Noise Pop Icon, Tabloid Superstar, Multi-Instrumentalist, and Complete Enigma.

Live, she channels the spirits and bombard the senses with an arsenal of sonics.

She's collaborated with the likes of the Laundry Room Squelchers, Thurston Moore, Roger Stella, and Val Martino.

She's toured extensively throughout the US and Europe. Meet the woman herself.

VP: I've seen you play live several times over the last four years or

so and you've employed different instruments like guitar and

electronic gadgets. Where did your interest in sound sculpture

begin and are you trained in music theory at all?

LK: It begin probably in college when I was getting my degree in audio

production and music. They were always like "don't do this- don't do

that- don’t run it in the red EQ it like this or it will sound bad"

but I was like woah that sounds pretty cool I'm going to do

that...I had to take a lot of music theory in college and

instruments and choir and stuff like that. so I guess I sorta am.

VP: So once the rules where laid out for you, you knew exactly how to

break them. Do you find that you still apply theory to your

technique are do you play more stream of consciousness?

LK: Honestly, I have no idea. If I were to assume *oops* anyway, I would

say stream of consciousness. I'm aware of levels and tones harmony

etc, however since I used to play radios all the time I never knew

what was going to come in and the radios Obviously it would pick up

the craziest emotions and vibes from miles around. When I lived in

the woods it was frightening being home alone and playing that shit

at night! i would contact the ether. Seriously! One time my p.a.

speaker flew across the room and smashed a hole in the wall. I left

all the music going and got the fuck out of there. My cat wouldn't

even go in there! So its more other people stream of conscious

being channeled through me. That sounds pretentious, but I'm a


VP: Whoa..........

VP: So you have albums with titles like "Feels Like Frenching" and

"Whorny". You've got this super-charged sexed-up vibe going on. How

foes it feel to own the "noise boys"?

LK: Actually - its "Whoreny 4 U". i guess I do have that vibe going on

because I've been feeling pretty sexy lately. Playing with Val

Martino (Unicorn Hard-On) and the Laundry Room Squelchers really

brings out the

woman in me. For years i was just being one of the boys , I guess I

felt uncomfortable embracing being sexy; especially in this scene

with all those scummy boys. Plus, people start talking shit like

"Keffer get half naked cause she cant really play" or something to

that effect, but I don’t care anymore. I always feel like frenching, but I

don’t feel like I own the noise boys! I wish I did though; I'd make

them take me swimming and hiking and have them roast me a pig on

the weekends.

VP: So do you suppose you are a positive roll model for women or do you

not even care?

LK: I think I have the potential to be a positive role model for everyone.

VP: You run a tabloid blog called Noisebloid. Why don't you tell me a

little bit about that.

LK: I started noisebloid a few years ago because I noticed while touring

everyone talks about everyone else they know in the 'scene' and its

our common ground, a way to stay in touch. So I decided to exploit

that. Why shouldn't there be noise celebs? Our scandals and affairs

are just as interesting and true! THERE ARE SOME LIES AND *oops*

"fabrications" on there, but there is a little truth to every story if

not the entire truth!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stefania of OvO at Asbury Lanes NJ

Bruno Dorella of OvO Asbury Lanes NJ

Stefania Pedretti of OvO at Asbury Lanes


Ovo formed in 2000 to support the European tour of Cock ESP. Since then Bruno Dorella (performs with Ronin, Bachi de Pietra, as well as being the manager for Bar La Muerte Records) and Stefania Pedretti (Voclaist of Allun and solo performer ?Alos), already veterans of the Italian music underground, have toured extensively world wide- including Mexico, Turkey and Israel. The first recordings "Assassine" (2001) and "Vae Victis" (2002) where released by Bar La Muerte and boasted the contributions of guests and friends. After releasing splits with Rollerball and KK Null, Ovo definitively became a duo. The change was marked by the issue of the third album "Cicatrici" (2004)a co-production of Bar La Muerte and Ebria Records. In 2006, the work "Miastenia" was released onthe prominent American Noise label, Load Records.

The duo uses costumes to add a sense of dramatic irony to the music; taking on strange stage persona that confront and frighten the audience. This interview took place in 2007 at ZXZW (now Incubate) Fest in Tilburg. The original interview was for Bad Acid Magazine.

VP: Tell me a little bit about the instrumentation you use.

Stefania: I play guitar, but not with a traditional pick. I used children's toys before, but now I use a square. I modify the guitar to make a low sound, and I play voice. I don't sing in the traditional sense, I play my voice. Also, I play my hair. I got a contact mic from a friend and I wondered for a while what to do with it. I thought that my hair was like the string for a double bass. For fun I tried it with my band ?Alos and it worked. I use a violin bow and get different tones depending on if I use thinner locks of hair or thicker locks of hair.The thinner locks create a higher pitch while the thicker locks create lower tones.

Bruno: I play half a drum set and Bass sometimes.

VP: The music is very dramatic; almsot operatic.

Bruno: Yes it's dramatic like acting; but very ironic. I like the way Stefania approaches music. It's very instictual. She's not trained, Many things make me thnk the way she approaches music is very ancient. If you see paintings of Japanese or Indian female musicians, thsy use a pick similar to the square Stefania uses.
She didn't plan it out- she never had this specific idea to mimic the ancient times. She just approached the music that way. This applies to the costumes as well. I would be fine with just going on stage in just a t-shirt, but Stefania is like "No Way!". We use masks and costumes because when you go onstage you are a character or and actor. Your not yourself anymore. So the whole costume thing with OvO is related to her approach to music.

VP: Do you find the costumes help you bring on a persona, or is it more of an extension of yourself?

Stefania: Well, it's not like we have a double personality! It's only a side. I think when people see us with the masks and costumes on the stage, they expect us to be a certain way after the show. It's like the mask is used to keep a mystery, and sometimes they are surprised because when we take off the masks we smile! We are real people. They think we must be crazy people because of how we are on stage. If people see us for the first time, sometimes we frighten them.

VP: You defiantly put a projection forward that instills a sense like "Whoa! I need to stand back"!

Bruno (laughing): Well, maybe I'm too big! We like to have the people up front with us, but it happens all the time. We start playing and they just move back.

VP: What is the goal for OvO?
Bruno: Well, we are basically a touring band. we made 5 records but we've played almost all over the world except for Africa and South America. We tour extensively in Europe and in the States.

VP: Please tell me about your other projects.

Bruno: I play with Bachi de Pietra,who sing very gut wrenching lyrics. I play guitar in a band called Ronin, which some would say is music for a spaghetti western. It's inspired by Italian sound track music like the work of Angelo Badalamenti, Henri Mancini, and Ennio Morricone. It's the soundtrack for imaginary films of defeated heros.

VP: The Ronin project is both beautiful and inspiring. Please tell me about yor projects Stefania.

Stefania: I play in my solo band called ?Alos., which is more of a performance. It's one girl cooking music. I play music and use my voice while I cook vegan food. All five senses are used during the performance. Sight, obviously, taste and smell, (the dinner) hearing the music, and touch as well. I invite a handsome, well groomed man from the audience to share the meal I've prepared during the performance.

Ovo's new album "Crocevia" (crossroads) is available now on Load Records. They toured the US with SubArachnoid Space Sept/Oct 2009.

Visit their page:



Get the new OvO album "Crocevia"

Monday, September 21, 2009

An Interview with Steve Mackay

VP: So What attracted you to be a musician?

SM: My Mom, Elle Vance, was a professional piano-bar-style entertainer. She knew how to play 2000 songs and could fake it if necessary. Mad Angus mackay, on my Dad's side; Queen Victoria's Bagpiper and much more we won't talk about now. Was it the plastic Emenee sax when I was 6? The Stan Getz and "Birth of Cool" records my Mom had? Was it late '50's pop radio with a tenor sax solo on every song? Was it my teacher, Warren Faulkner, or Ed Ryder who helped me learn to improvise? What about Choas, Inc, our High School Band?

I loved to play all kinds of music and it was inevitable. Going to Ann Arbor sealed the deal.

VP: So basically it was in your blood. Who where you playing with in Ann Arbor?

SM: When I first got there to go to College of Architecture and Design at U of Michigan in the fall of 1967, my father and step mother requested that I wait at least a semester before I got in a band, but it was about 5 days before I ended up in one!

Went to the local Head Shop and was informed Billy C. and the Sunshine was looking for another horn player. Ended up playing 5 nights a week playing blues at Clint's Club on the one-block strip that functioned as A Squared's nexus of the Black Community. When we played, it was cool for white folk to go there. It's where I met Commander Cody, who was doing the frat gigs with a weird circus of performers. Get back to the Dorm at 2 am and ready to deal with 6-8 as studio classes; somehow I managed. I was only 18. Billy C. and Company were a regular part of many shows at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit. Billy C. quit the band New Years Eve 1967 and led the formation of The Charging Rhinoceros of Soul. Otis Redding Songs and the like, even read charts!

Had a job (Iggy Pop's old job) at Discount Records by the campus, quit Charging Rhino, and hooked up with High School bud Marc Lampert to form Carnal Kitchen. Originally played Drums and Sax, but it was sort of like the Pied Piper; folks that wanted to improvise to a jazz/rock beat kept showing up. Nobody else seemed to be doing that, and we ended up playing in the Parks with the MC5, Parliment/Funkedelic, etc. on Acid -Drenched Sunday afternoon summers of '69.

Saw the early version of the Stooges and became friends with Jim, AKA Iggy. He was in the front row at CK's first high profile show. I was impressed! A few months later he asked me to come over to Stooge Manor. He already had the song "Funhouse" waiting for me. Did a few local gigs with them and was then informed by the crew that I was going to LA with them to record!

The rest is History, but by October, everything had gone to Smack Hell and I was gratefully fired.

Got my job back at the record store, but pals Carnal Kitchen said I had to learn a bunch of Charted Jazz Standards. Took a while, but I did! We broke up after local successes and then I fell in with the Mojo Boogie Band. Jim Tate and Bill Lyn. We had a regular gig Tuesday nights at Flick's Bar, where we jammed with Bob Seger (he wanted to sign us but we wouldn't fire our drummer). This all led to 5 years with them and eating a lot of flour chapatis with peanut butter until we finally became a regional force to be reckoned with.

Finally the break up of my relationship and disagreements about the direction the band should take led me to the Bay Area, where I knew the guys from Commander were. A wise choice as it turns out, as I ended up in Bill Kirchen's Moonlighters, playing Country and Western Swing. A unique gig for a sax man!. Soon there after we were back with Cody and more Carnal Kitchen in the Bay Area.

VP: So by this time in the early '70's, you've built up quite a resume; longer then most. Commander Cody took you to New Jersey where the band had a good size following. What albums did you do with Cody and how did this lead you to play with the Violent Femmes?

SM: Cody and I co-produced "Lose it Tonight" (1980?) on Line Records. It was released in Germany and Yellow Vinyl USA product of the same name on Peter Pan Records (a kid's label out of New Jersey).In 2000, Q Records(USA) put out "Commander Cody Live at Gilley's" on CD, where I sing 2 of my songs, "Going to Hell" and "Goin' to New Jersey" (from 1982?). CD of the first record also exists. I have a copy somewhere.....

Got burnt out from touring. Quit touring and got a job pumping sludge at SF Sewer Plant, but hooked up with Snake Finger's "History of the Blues" as well as his "Men in Blue" and "Disc Jocks" as well as playing with Mitch Woods and the Rocket 88's(40's-50's jump boogie), and the wonderful Ibbilly Bibbily Experimental Pinhead Band.

Was actually making a living playing music in SF! It was during this time, Spring of '83, that I got a call from Gordon Gano of the Violent Femmes. He had gotten my number from a friend in Wisconsin. Went right to the sound check at the legendary I-Beam and it was love at first note!

Come November of '83, went to Europe with Snake Finger for a tour (recorded live shows for "History of the Blues" on Rough Trade, Deutschland), then stayed in Amsterdam for a few months, playing all over the Netherlands with the Rex Reason Blues Band, an old friend from U of Michigan days with a Dutch back up band. Also had them back me up as Steve Mackay's Carnal Kitchen for a few shows. Was in contact with the Violent Femmes. They wanted me to come to NYC to record on "Hollowed Ground", but that didn't work out. They got John Zorn instead, but when they came to Europe I did a few shows with them in Holland and Belgium. They got word that a backup musician had to cancel their up coming US tour, so they invited me along. A lucky break as I had worn out my welcome with my Dutch hosts!

Toured the States and Europe with them as a full-time member until December '84 when I burned out again and went back to SF. Ended up in a relationship with someone who didn't want me touring, and became an electrician for 15 years, but still would sit in with the Femmes when they came to town, and a few West Coast Tours with them as well. Also a few years playing NorCal with another version of Carnal Kitchen. In 1998 got in a much better and supportive relationship that continues to this day! Femmes kept using me on the West Coast and even took me to South Africa! What a trip.... Sorry the had to break up, but I understand.

VP: During that 15 year hiatus, you met Marlon and Grady from Liquorball and subsequently got hooked up with Temple of Bon Matin and the Radon Collective. This has led to collaborations with experimental musicians Zu from Italy to recording with Grails and Koonda Holaa; as well as bands in Turkey and across the US and Europe. How have these collabs effected you as an artist? Do you still see a common link between the underground of today and from the experimental days of the '60's and '70's?

SM: Absolutely! A lot like the stuff we where doing with the first Carnal Kitchen ("Death City" on Radon from '69). Noise with a beat and references to Jazz and Rock that those hippies (like us!) loved to trance and dance to in the park on Sundays and at those rallies to Free John Sinclair NOW! I feel we were an influence and delighted to see where it's going as well as so happy to be involved with all of this new generation. Must say that Iggy is a big fan of my album "Michigan and Arcturus", which includes many of the folks you mentioned in your question.

VP: It must feel ironic that the smallest part of your career was the few songs you played on"Funhouse", yet that's what your most noted for. Suddenly you guys have a huge audience. How does it feel to be working with them again after so long?

SM: For years I would mention "Funhouse" etc. in my homemade press releases, but it hardly mattered. It wasn't till the late '90's that younger folks started introducing themselves as fans. This also manifested itself with Ron and Scott (Ashton) as Jay Mascis went on tour with a Stooges tribute. I sat in with them, and (Mike) Watt in SF in 2001 (?). Pop got wind of all this and figured it was time to "Put the Band Back Together", something he had resisted for years. "Skull Ring" also gave it a further push.

He called me in 2003 about "Coachella", first time I had talked to him in 30 years, and at that time it was a one-off that led to all of this now. We are certainly older and hopefully wiser, but a lot of the good part and quirks of personality haven't changed. I feel closer then ever to them and also am delighted to have Watt as a close friend.

I treasure every show and flight and hotel because it won't last forever and it's great to have already gotten 5 years into and out of, this amazing trip. I feel pretty fucking fortunate to be in this position. There are a lot of folks with more talent than me who never get this far....

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Since this interview took place in 2008, Ron Ashton has past away. RIP.