Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

VP: Immediately upon listening to you as a lyricist over the years, I’m reminded of the “beat” poets stream-of-consciousness writings. Does this style apply to your work, or does it all depend on the project?

TS: I was always much more attuned to the works of Breton, Artaud, Joans, Celine, and Pound, to name but five, than the writers lumped into the Beat bin. (Burroughs, however, was a profound early influence.) On occasion, a complete lyric will come to me in a dream. ("This Home and Fear," for example.) Other times, a title or fragment appears. But "stream-of-consciousness"? Never. Writing is for me a process steeped in rigor.

VP: That would explain your particular style of writing and word choices. In an age where the Dr Seuss school of rhyme dominates, your lyrics really stand out and challenge. Do you feel as a vocalist/writer that some times people aren't really trying?

TS: These days, I endeavor to resist the urge to critique others' efforts, at least in public forum. (I'm not always successful.) Am I rarely impressed? A fair question. (The answer, sadly, is yes.)

VP: Your no novice by any means, and have such a huge catalog of releases with many different artists. What keeps you interested in music?

TS: What keeps anyone interested in something (or someone) they love? Pleasure, intellectual curiosity, mystery, beauty, annoyance, pain, the acknowledgment of the absurdity of it all... If we're lucky, our passions engage and invigorate, in infinite degrees of ardor, until we die. I love having been born into this conundrum, and I've always felt extraordinarily lucky to have been blessed with the curse.

VP: What projects are you currently working on that you’d like to share with our readers?

I vacillate between wanting the world to hang on my every movement, and preventing anyone save for a super-dedicated few to know anything whatsoever of my efforts. The former urge is of course not just rooted in egomania, and the latter is more a bulwark than neurotic dogma.

I'd rather not mention Karl Schmidt Verlag, except to say that if people want to know more, they are invited to discover it for themselves.

As for the larger label releases and tours, there are two To Live and Shave in L.A. box sets forthcoming (this is the twentieth anniversary and final year of the group; one of the boxes is a five-disc retrospective, and the other is a three-disc remix compilation), two TLASILA live albums recorded during the 2008 European tour, a new duo album with Kevin Drumm, new recordings from Rope Cosmetology, another book, more collaborations, a trio tour, a live aktion in May from Three Resurrected Drunkards, a solo vocal tour of Europe in the autumn, etc. Always busy.

VP: The demise of TLASILA is on the horizon and another collaboration album with Sightings is forth coming as well talk of a “solo vocal” tour in Europe. It seams like a new era for ex-patriot Tom Smith. Do you plan to retire gracefully someday or will there be someone to sample and process your dying breath?

TS: TLASILA has to die so that everyone can catch up with it. (My central assertion shall thus be irrevocably proven.)

The logical successor and thematic extension of TLASILA is Rope Cosmetology. Ohne was the poison that felled the Pope, the clarion that roused me from the corporeal to the trans-temporal.

Sightings and I are very excited about recording a second collaborative album. The lads have very sharp knives up their corrugated sleeves. And I love singing stacked harmonies with the guys. (Richard and Jon also sing well.)

What is a solo vocal tour? No accouterments. No microphones. No amplification. At least half the dates will be performed in this manner.

I'm a proud expat. Once you've been disconnected from America, you never think of living there again. No place is perfect, but...

My father was singing on his death bed. I have his genes.

Not knowing is everything. There's so much I do not know. It's the sexiest place in the world to be...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Stephen Moses of Alice Donut Interview

VP: How did you first become aware that you wanted to be a musician?

SM: I grew up in a musical family. Mostly brass. My father plays trombone, brother and uncle play trumpet. Dave Taylor (bass trombone extraordinaire) is my second cousin. Those that didn't play music made/make visual art. My father's dad played tuba, mother's dad played violin. Jazz on my father's side, classical on my mom's.

I sucked in school being somewhat dyslexic so basically, I had no choice.

I always played trombone but when I was 11 I told my folks I wanted to play drums, so they got me a guitar (not wanting to deal with the noise) but eventually they gave in and I got my first set when I was 14.

VP: So you where exposed to a lot of different music and art from and early age. Do you feel that it was natural for you to take musical experimentation as a given or where you interested in a more rooted approach?

SM: As a kid I started taking regular ol Trombone lessons, at the time I liked big band jazz, Blood Sweat and Tears & Chicago (the band) but soon after I was rocking out on drums with records & headphones (self taught).

I was also plagued with problems with my teeth: first losing the front 2 on a trampoline when I was around 11 (after years of getting them "straightened out") then when I was 18 and going to Berklee for trombone, I had my then newly capped teeth punched out by a passing stranger which also cut deep into my bottom lip. This severely fucked my trombone playing. Luckily I had the drums to maintain some semblance of sanity.

VP: Quite possibly the most bizarre reason for switching instruments I’ve ever heard! It seams to have worked out well in the end! So did you stay at Berklee or did you venture out on your own?

SM: I always wanted to play drums (and trombone) but the punch in the mouth helped seal the deal and I put the bone down for a few years.

I went to Berklee for 3 semesters and just kinda hung out there for the 4th, not enrolled in school. At that point my musical interests had little to do with what was going on there.

I had my drums set up in a rented space in an indoor garage near Berklee and I was jamming with my friend Peter Borno who introduced me to a lot of cool music. We played together for many years in NYC.

VP: How did you meet the members of Alice Donut?

SM: An ad in the Village Voice: "Rock band seeks drummer. We have gigs." Sounded good to me so I went. They liked me, I liked them. They had a band called The Seabeasts. I was in "Giant Metal Insects" but the gigs were too few. After my second audition I lit a bone when we were packing up. This may have helped them with their decision... The name Alice Donut came later.

VP: Your still with them to this day. Most bands don’t last two years, what’s the reason behind the longevity?

I guess it's cause we love what we're doing and care about each other. There are no big ego trips or drug issues to get in the way. We're like a family together and it's been that way from the start. We're supportive of each other and know our individual strengths and weaknesses and understand that we all have both.

VP: What bands are you into right now? What is keeping your interest in music alive?

SM: Sleepytime Gorilla Museum completely blows my mind. I listen to them all the time and continue to hear new stuff [in the music] that knocks me out.

I also listen to a lot of 60's + jazz... Miles, Trane etc.

My interest in music is still alive because I still haven't gotten it where I want it. I'm still reaching for it.

VP: I guess that’s always the goal, isn’t it. Trane himself always claimed to be searching for something. What’s in the future for you now?

SM: Alice Donut continues to write new stuff. Michael and Dave (the guitars) and I get together every week to play and write, while Tom and Sissi (singer and bass player) who live in N.C. do the same and mail ideas back 'n forth. That's how we wrote and recorded the last album Ten Glorious Animals.

I have a trio called Lambic Jones playing gigs around N.Y. (Percy Jones on bass)

There’s one or two groups I play with once in a while and I'm working on my solo thing DRUMBONE. I do some gigs here and there and I've got a bunch of stuff "in the can" but it seems to be taking WAY longer than I'd hoped to finish the CD. Oh well.