Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Deeprest - '27' Video

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Cue & Ehh? With Acts Magdalena

Acts Magdalena - Download (Tracks From Soundlift)

When I first discovered Acts Magdalena on the Artists IUMA website I was absolutely taken back at the standard of music that I may have been missing out on. If I hadn't have stumbled across them through sheer aimless browsing, my ears would have been the lesser for it. Acts Magdalena, for me, stood as an example of the treasures available through good, old fashioned searching. Gone are the days for impulse buying an album due to it's cover. Gone are the days of scrolling through this month's/fortnight's magazines for inspiration and direction. Music listeners expect everything to be handed to them on a plate, whether that be a Blogger's plate, the newest 'trendy' shop's plate or the biggest temptation of all... the P2P's plate.

Acts Magdalena are my proof of continuing the search. There exists a huge range of amazing musicians just waiting to be discovered. 'Acts' are at the peak of that talent, it's only downhill from here on in...

The band itself, an etherkore duo featuring the unbelievable vocal talents of Christian (Xn), backed by the fretless and peerless musical tamperings of Rick, are worth watching, listening, bookmarking... Whatever it takes to push them forward, to push them up and to push them out. Spread the word.

My introduction to Acts Magdalena was totally accidental. I was making a personal compilation that featured each band that had a book of the Bible in it’s title, (i.e. GENESIS, EXODUS, NUMBERS and elton JOHN), for every book (Old & New Testament). It was an extremely weird collection, but your track stood out (Low). While all the other tracks are now long deleted yours is still getting played, but enough of my brown nosing. Have you ever had a weird music find, who was it and how did you find it?

Rick found this song and I loved it. It’s a song Chuck Berry sings about a man and his Donkey, its pretty cute the way he sings it too. “Him and the donkey take a sip o' da drink,” I think its about a Man and his Donkey getting drunk and dancing, water certainly wouldn’t have the described effect. Should a guy get his Donkey drunk, no, it’s just a cute song and you imagine them dancing down the road…. Whatever was in that jug it let them forget their troubles for a moment. It’s a cute quirky song. I go around sometimes singing “take a sip o’ da drink!”.

Surprisingly I have a Cue & Ehh?’ with the creator of ‘Magdalena’, Image Comics’ character, soon to be feature film (2007). She is the descendant of Mary Magdalene and offspring of a lineage of female warriors. Where did your name come from?

The Acts was inspired by the title of the book of the Bible, I thought a lot of cool art could come from the words “The Acts of…” love hate war kittens etc too. Magdalena was a boat; a boat that the past guitarist, an ex-boyfriend of mine says members of his family came to America on in the past. A boat that brought Jews out of WW2 Germany, the captain did not leave them broke when they arrived, unlike other captains and he would not ship them back to Germany. I also like that it tied in with Mary so I combined the two. Rick didn’t like the “The” in The Acts Magdalena so I removed it. So the lack of a “The” is Rick’s contribution. I think it was a wise choice. Dumping the other guy for Rick was also a wise choice...

Rick, I’m dying to say it myself and I read it a lot. People are obsessed with Christian’s vocals. Does it ever irritate you that people pick out that aspect of the band overall? When you are arranging the tracks do you focus on exploiting Christian’s voice. I often hear that the music becomes quite stark and minimal; as to not drown out the vocal or muddy it. Is there intent there or is Christian just a big channel hogger?

Really, I thought they were all grooving on the bass lines? The arrangements came about they way they did because there’s always been an idea in the band that what’s in the recording is playable live. As a studio guy I found this difficult at first, but Christian was adamant. The upside I found is that if you’re hearing two or three parts in your head, you have to figure out how to make it playable as one, which can lead to interesting things. In the mixes, I always wanted Christian’s vocal to be very clear, because there’s so much subtle detail in her performance. And, she despises reverb. Loathes it.

Christian, I’ve been so discouraged with the lack of strong female vocalists, I remember the Riot Grrl movement, people like L7, Babes in Toyland, Hole. Then the first ever-female metal growl vocals I heard were Kittie with ‘Charlotte’. With ‘New Metal’ there’s been a rise in bands like Evanescence and Within Temptation, basically bad metal with the Corrs singing over the top. What are your thoughts?

I think some women/girls don’t like to be “ugly”, don’t like to sound ugly (and lots of men want their girls - girly sounding), don’t like what some of these women look like and act like. Sadly some of the ones that do have power in their voices seem to think they have to look like and act like the worst macho stereotypes. I suppose to prove they aren’t girly and say, ‘Hey look at me I am tough’. Men who act like that macho type seem silly. Why do some women think they’d look any better? What does being a rude slob have to do with having a strong voice? Just be yourself and roar, don’t try to out-macho the males and don’t let being female keep you from out-roaring other people. You can be pretty and wear a gown and then out growl any man, beast, or force of nature- and still be cute, if that’s who you are *cue girly giggle*. Don’t change yourself, just change what people think is ugly, make that roar a thing of beauty. Maybe shred the lace on your gown and look like an ethereal ghost instead of Miss America, but that’s all I’d advise, otherwise just rock what you are.

Being a musician myself I became aware of the immaturity of the alternative metal scene, this caused me to give up the genre and find the music that old beardy men love, such as electronica and folk. Do you ever look at the fans in the genre and think ‘Let’s dig out the banjo and do some Patsy Cline covers?’

We are spoiled. I like who likes us because we don’t have some major label to instruct people that we are good. You have to figure out if you like us or not on your own. We don’t appear on award shows and rub shoulders with celebs, so there is no reason to suck up to us because we can’t get anyone into any star studded parties, or get you roles in movies or rides on groupie filled buses… so what use are we? If they have found us and liked us it’s because they connect to our music. If they were all we have to ever meet that would be very nice.

I get tired of what’s “out there” and I love folk too, and I love quirky stuff… I don’t have any bands to point to but I like lots of bits and pieces here and there that are not anywhere in the realm of rock and it’s genre variants. I even like stuff I don’t like- Sarah Brightman is an example. I don’t like most of her song choices but I love her voice and can actually listen to show tunes as long as its her voice singing them. I seriously just hear the voice.

Christian has stated that she wishes she had been born in 1900. I often think that I wish I were born in a less luxurious time. I believe that it’s the suffering and hardships that make the person. What historical event would you liked to have suffered through?

So many it’s really freezing my brain up to try and choose. I wish I could be a time travel detective, go back to times in history that have become misty from legend making and see what really happened, what were certain people like in person to have remained in our minds through time, and return with the facts. I read that some folks like Arthur are a combination of several people. (In no meaningful order) Eve, Egeria, Job, Cleopatra, Boudica, Caligula, Arthur and Merlin, The Pied Piper, Anne Bonny, Sappho, and of course the big man himself JC and his babe Miss Maggy... problem is you would probably die finding out what was up with some of them. Some not so known it would be amazing to see like: The Trung Sisters or rulers like Hatshepsut... ladies from the past that weren’t just servants to some family life. I also think I could have had a great time in The Lost Generation era 1920’s Paris.

You have a large collection of dolls and toys. I have a fake Coke can that pops open and unleashes a randy, glowing eyes monkey who sings a bad euro-pop song begging the listener to ‘cum’. What weird toys do you have?

I’d like to see that... Rick brought a gorgeous oak artist doll home for me from Paris, it looks like the child that Jack Skellington and Sally would have had. She isn’t really a toy, but she is a doll, so I guess she is a kind of toy. I have a doll that Ugly Shyla made. Classic features, but with no eyes and skin color from the grave, she is gorgeous. I have a ton of Bratz dolls, they aren’t weird themselves but probably that I have so many... that might be thought of as weird by folks I wouldn’t like, so the opinion wouldn’t matter.

There’s nothing like a block of Dairy Milk Chocolate between two Salt & Vinegar Potato Crisps. There’s no better sandwich. What’s your food of choice?

Crackers and hummus, Envirokidz Crispy Rice Bars (they are all good), and Ravioli at Frank.

Who’s your least favourite President?

Just one? Okay besides the popular ones to hate I have one that bothers me. Thomas Jefferson, if he had been honest about his relationship it might have helped stop a lot of stuff that happened later in history. A man of his influence living and making babies with Sally Hemings (which has been substantiated via DNA enough for me to so far as agree it’s truth)- it might have helped a lot of hatred to dissipate. He may have found that a lot of other people may have come forward with similar families and it would have been nasty for awhile, but the stigma would have been forced to change, nothing ever changes easily, but it would have altered a lot of things, maybe stopped some later horrors in history in the US.

Rick, most famous artists/musicians are uneducated and usually an outsider. Do you think there is hope to learning art and music in college, or are we just selling false hopes to our youth?

I don’t know that I agree with that statement. When I was a kid, many of the artists I listened to had art school backgrounds: Talking Heads, Laurie Anderson, Brian Eno. There’s even a passage in Eno’s diary where he quotes Bono saying that while all U2’s peers had been to art school, they went to Brian for a similar experience. You also have to remember that many “pop” artists in every medium come from elite backgrounds and education, but of course that’s not “cool,” so by the time you hear of them an entire story’s been concocted to romanticize their “tragic” upbringing. I can’t speak to studying things like painting and sculpture in school, but if you’re studying music in college, you’re probably looking to enter either the jazz or classical world, both of which require very serious schooling.

It comes down to three things: the student, the school and the teacher. If the student is convinced that his future is set because he’s registered for classes, or that he’s oh-so-special and destined for stardom then yeah, he’s probably fucked. If he’s prepared to work extremely hard, is flexible in his thinking and expectations, and understands the value of the social experience at school as well as the educational one, then something worthwhile should come of it. The result may be exactly what the student hoped for, more likely it will be a variant of that that the student wouldn’t have anticipated. Maybe the student completes a semester and says, “Whoa, this isn’t for me after all” and moves on to something else. That’s still a valuable experience. As for schools, some are brilliant and some suck. Like anything else you might spend a lot of money on, do your research. It’s not hard to do these days. Teachers are another mixed lot. One of my instructors at IAR, Doug Rice, took me out on the first professional audio jobs I ever worked. To be an 18 year old kid tooling around the East Village, loading gear into clubs, setting up bands and assisting him as he mixed was an invaluable experience, but I got that gig because I repeatedly expressed an interest in working and proved in class that I’d be a help, not a hindrance. Years later, he provided an essential reference for an important job. I’ve seen other teachers who had no business being in the classroom, but again, students have to be active. Every one of my students at NYU fills out an evaluation form, and if they weren’t consistently positive, I wouldn’t still be there. On the first day of Pro Tools class, I stress the difference between the person who says, “I know Pro Tools” because he can record something, maybe do an edit; add a plug-in, and someone who’s deeply knowledgeable and professional. It’s my intention that they develop into the latter, and I kick their asses for 10 sessions. The ones that spend hours in the lab each week working with what I’ve taught them are headed in that direction, and if they stay with it, they’ll most likely get there.

My favourite TV show at the minute has to be South Park. The show is absolute genius, it can do no wrong. Series 9 has been staggering, it’s attacks on Chef, Scientology and Gingers. Series 10 looks like it’s going to top it, with it’s ‘Family Guy’ satire. What do you like to zombify to?

I love Project Runway, Top Chef, I like Kendra in that Girls Next Door show, she seems like a fun person, Blow Out, I like medical shows about life saving surgeries, hero pet shows, travel to wild places and crazy locations and the crazy people that live there, documentaries on historical events, documentaries about Lost Generation people, things many people would call depressing but I have a need to know stuff... I liked the Osbournes, still not sure why, but I did.

If you have to some up yourself as an internal body part, what would it be and why?

Well when you close your eyes its internal... that glass pane of the window to your soul, the Cornea. I will complain about my feet and other bits and pieces but I am 100% happy with my eyes. I love to collect visual images, literally going places just because I heard the ceiling tiles were funky and cool or the space was spooky and totally forget whatever the event was that was going on just to check out fun shaped doorways and creepy creaking stairs and pretty courtyards, nice art- then I have the best dreams too, all decorated with this stuff and enhanced into Alice In Wonderland level landscapery (yes I just made that word up). I can also see well in the dark and I can see tiny tiny details in things and over long distances and I have never worn glasses/contacts or had any improvement operations, my eyesight rocks. So when I die whoever gets my corneas will be very very happy. So in a sense I may live on a while longer one day in this body part even when all the rest is ash. So one day “I” may actually “be” this body part. Cornea Merry, nice to meet ya.

I saw a kid in town (Glasgow, United Kingdom) with a T-shirt on stating he hearted Bush. I can only presume that this is George Bush and not the bad 90’s Nirvana afterbirth. Kids will wear anything to get attention, usually in rebellious ignorance. What’s the most stupid T-shirt you’ve ever seen?

One truly stupid one with King Tut’s head printed on each boob that said, “Don’t touch my Tuts”. My father actually wanted me to get that one as a teen girl, and I have no real idea why - the point of a shirt like that is to draw attention to the “Tuts” and he was something akin to Carrie’s mom then, if you know what I mean.

I’m currently in agony with my teeth thinking they can all fit into my small mouth. I mean, I thought evolution was hooked up and in the know? Why can’t it elongate my arms to increase my reach so I don’t have to move from the sofa? What body morphication would you enjoy via evolution?

Tweak my lungs so they could process oxygen in the water too and be a mermaid (with legs though thank you). I want some of those Wolverine claws... People would be ever so much more peaceful if they thought sneaking up on someone might get their face slashed off. If we all had the claws we’d all behave... maybe. Oh and flying would be nice. We have big oceans and lots of sky, it would be nice to be able to have fun in them without planes and boats wrapped around us.

I’m so sick to death of reading boring Q&As that make the most interesting of people sound boring. Apart from this one, what is the worst question you’ve ever been asked?

Personally I have been lucky to be interviewed by cool people. Like I mentioned before the people who like us are great because we have nothing they could gain by being friendly other than music and email every now and then. If people contact us they are more than likely very cool people.

Christian, you are pretty open about suffering from Epidermolysis Bullosa (A blistering skin condition), I am aware what the condition is, and that it’s pretty rare. Has this condition ever brought on any weird imaginative ideas or nightmares? I know my friend who had a phobia of paper cuts had dreams of a paper thin man sliding under his locked door to get him. Have you had any anxieties of sandpaper men or pumice people?

Actually no, because sandpaper and pumice are “my friends”. One of the sick jokes of EB is the surface skin thickens on the feet very fast and then rubs the hard skin on the layers underneath to cause blisters and burns deep inside your foot because every layer of skin is affected where general people’s skin its only the top layer so its different. So people who mean well and don’t know better tell you to walk a lot and get callouses. They are the worst things you could have so I rub my feet with pumice stone and try to keep my feet callous free. I do have nightmares about walking and never getting to my destination which is what it feels like at a job or errands in the summer and you get blisters and can barely walk its like you will never get home since you can no longer walk and you can only sit there and feel like crying. Then you get up and limp slowly home and its really painful and yeah, lots of fun. Even more fun... telling a cab driver to drive you one block... Yeah, I’ve done that before.

Nothing imaginative has arisen related to EB and its condition except violent fantasies - I hate it and want it to die if it were something I could kill I would happily murder it.

If I was to be a monster I think I’d be a Werewolf. I could piss and poo all over the place without a care and lick my own crotch. Sniffing someone’s ass is also a hell of a lot easier than dating, dinners and trying to keep up an interesting conversation. What monster would you be and why?

I only read the book once, an Anne Rice book on a mummy (mummies are monsters right?) and he never had to sleep, he could wander around day and night and looked just fine thank you - now if that’s a monster, then that’s the monster life for me. I don’t like to sleep except for fun and to dream but I hate being and feeling tired. So being a mummy sounds like fun. I am not enough of a “people person” to be a Vampire. Maybe the Moth Man for a scarier, icky, more obvious; “don’t have to show ID at the Monster’s Club” type. Fly, scare and creep people out, eat a lot of wheat and corn I think, don’t have to mingle for your meals and touch people’s dirty necks and get a blood mustache. Just be scary when I want, that would be a nice arrangement.

What’s the band currently up to, any plugs?

We are not on any label so we have no deadlines to produce products to repay label advances we do what we want when we want and right now I am working on my art. Visual art is as important to me as music and it seems like each one wants its time to dominate my mind so now, for now, art has its hold on me. Drawing, dolls, multi-media performance - funny that I peek at your headlines below and see the one about Santa. I love looking for the grain of truth behind the legends and then making up my own histories for some of them. I created a handmade graphic novel of the history of Santa and other hardworking fairy tale folk and what happened to them. There seemed to be a time in history where the magic stopped being real and became a story - this book is about that turning point. I want to have a holiday performance of it and Rick will do the music. I am also doing a series of dolls and a series of drawings. AM is on hiatus for the moment.

Weird & Freaky Question:

What crazy newspaper headline would upset you more; ‘God Raped Me’, ‘Ten Days ‘Til Doomsday’, ‘One Day ‘Til Doomsday’, ‘Doomsday Cancelled’, ‘You Fucking Sicken Me’, ‘No News Today’, ‘Who Reads This Shit?’, ‘Roswell Aliens Demand Welfare’, ‘Nasdaq Plummets’, ‘Shit Won’t Flush’, ‘Hey Kids! Santa Is Fake’, ‘If You Notice This Notice You Will Notice That This Notice Was Not Worth Noticing’ or ‘Nurse Guilty Of Too Murders’ (Spot the typo)?

Strange how when I saw this I thought at first it said “Too Many Murders” and I thought… too many? What number would have been just enough? But then, oh, I see ‘too’, ‘two’... ooooh, where is my head huh?

‘God Raped Me’

I would say before looking at the article. If the plaintiff is a pre-historic monkey, the resulting child’s name was “Link”. Right? I would tell her to demand lots of child support and don’t let him deadbeat out by saying, “air and gravity are your child support honey”.

Ha hah hah ha…

Doomsday was yesterday and no one seemed to notice. Is it bad that none of them would be particularly upsetting and more likely to inspire comments like “well its about time” and “duh old news” and “what else is new…” ?

Encore Magdalena:

Acts Magdalena Portal
Christians Art

Christian would like you to visit:


Sunday, May 21, 2006

Art & It's Process

This is a rather nice little art site in which you can view the art and it's creation.


Speaking of Tongue In Cheek...

Yogi The Pug is a mutation. Ill bred and suffering. I blame Crufts.

Eurovision 2006

Well, anyone who missed it last night will be surely kicking themselves... hopefully, in the face. It has been the best Eurovision in years. Although I love the fact that Lordi (A Finlandish Gwar) won the event, I can't help but feel sad for LT United (the Lithuanian entry). Not only did they get booed and hissed by a lot of the audience at the event, they also felt the blow through poor voting and rejection from neighbouring countries. 'We Are The Winners' was my personal favourite, with the Latvian accapella guys (Cosmos) with their D.I.Y. robot coming in second.

Unfortunately... without the robot.

I do understand the tongue in cheek voting that placed Lordi first, though I still feel that the tongue was not as firmly shoved in the cheek as it could have been. Lordi was an easy vote.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Lily Allen - LDN Video

I always hate it when artists break. They are my little thing, and then all of a sudden everyone's an expert. You can usually tell it's going to blow when it hits Flux Blog and tell that it's happening when it's aired on Stereogum.

It's a nice thing for the artist to finally get worthwhile recognition. I'm really not one to jump on the band wagon though. I like to move away and look for something else.

Here's Lily Allen's Vid, I love it...

... I don't like it anymore. Next...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Here Comes The Smog

Well, in Glasgow, I've been experiencing the unbearable heat. I am praying for rain and wind. What better way to bring on the rain than with 'Smog'. Bill has brought so much troubled happiness to my life I can't explain it... (Update - Looks like it may be working).

Smog - Mother Of The World

Smog - Rock Bottom Riser

Smog - Morality

Smog - Truth Serum

Smog - I Break Horses

Friday, May 05, 2006

Cue & Ehh? With Malachy Coney

Mal Coney is the best thing that Northern Ireland has to offer in the way of something to be proud of. Sure, there have been other things: Ash (sigh), knee capping, some fraction of Snow Patrol (yawn), sponsored terrorism, the highest percentage of unemployed scroungers in Europe, Frank Carson and Marching over quick sand in the name of tradition. Though none of the aforementioned fills us with pride.

Mal is a very ‘behind the scenes’ entity. Hard working and brimming with ideas, he grafts away producing words and pictures that although are submersed and surrounded in obstructions and borders, hold no boundaries when it comes to reader empathy.

Creator of ‘Magdalena’ from ‘The Darkness’ who is getting her own film treatment, ‘Holy Cross’, ‘Dandy Lion’ and ‘Major Power & Spunky’ as well as contributing to Pat Mills’ ‘Third World War’ and Warren Publishing’s ‘Vampirella’, Coney is no amateur. His work has enabled him to conquer America and hand it back again. Currently working on ‘Ouija Board, Ouija Board’ for ‘Fortnight’ and expanding his self-publishing project ‘Good Craic Comics’, I pried him away from his work to shed some light on his writing…

My experience of you has shown that you have always been attached to comics in whatever form, (I’m not talking Super Glue… he he), why did the sequential art form draw you in?

Simply because when it works for me I think it is beautiful. Comics tap right into a very primal part of the human brain.
It does so in such an unpretentious fashion that it is often judged wrongly to be sub-literate, juvenile and artistically worthless. There may well be some merit to this line of thought but anyone who truly feels this way can kiss my perfectly formed Irish arse. Life is too damn short and too damn hard. Read or look at something else if yer soul is bursting with shallow critique.

My first ‘drawn in’ read was Sienkiewicz’s ‘New Mutants – Shadow Bear’ series from Marvel Comics, I was totally lost in that saga, I had felt that I was there, enrapt in the story, I was lost until I came out the other side. Brought back to reality by Marvel’s awful letters pages and full back page advertisements. Which was your first?

I think it might have been a British comic called Topper with a talking bear as the cover star. I remember being enthralled by a funny wee cave man called Little Ug or something like that. He carried a club and was best mates with a dinosaur that walked on its hind legs. It was probably the most accurate portrayal of prehistoric times attempted in any media form until the BBC used state of the art computer generated effects to create Walking With Dinosaurs.

I have recently experienced the same sense of envelopment with Burn’s ‘Black Hole’. Are there any recent publications that have impressed and entertained you?

Seven Soldiers Of Victory, the crossover where none of the main characters meet. It’s such a wide broad canvas Morrisson and the various artists he is working with are using. The whole thing is an embarrassment of riches. I was on a bus heading home after work reading an issue of Frankenstein when these spides at the back of the bus started calling me a fucking retard. They were spot on. I am a bit retarded, emotionally. Fallout of childhood trauma but wasn’t it cruel of these complete strangers to point this out on a bus load of other complete strangers. I never mocked their shit jewellery and sports casuals so why mock my reading habits. Morrisson is just about the best writer to come out of Scotland. I say this despite the fact he shat from a great height on the first story I ever had published in a British comic.

Comics have fallen from grace, destroyed by poor film adaptations, laziness and a lack of originality. I lost the love. Do you think there is any hope?

Course there is David. Calm down. A good comic cannot be ruined by a poor film adaptation. The comic exists whither a film version exists or not. They are completely different mediums. I mean the magnificent ‘How Soon Is Now’ by the Smiths is not suddenly a shit song because it is used as the theme to Charmed.

I recently saw McKean’s ‘Mirror Mask’. I found it beautiful but Channel 4 artsy and similar to a poor BBC Children’s Drama. Have you any thoughts on it? Have you any thoughts on the recent leeching from comics to film?

I think Dave McKean's artwork is much more interesting when he doesn’t try to make it move. You know, I do not really enjoy talking like this about art. It always sounds to me like Miss Jean Brodie at her hysterical prime. He’s an incredibly gifted artist whose work draws me in the same way I think you described in a very sweet fashion with your Bill Sienkiewicz shadow bear analogy. Actually you pretty much nailed it. I have a Mister Punch print by him in my living room which I swear even my dog Sasha stares at. She, like me, may not know a lot about art but she knows what she likes…
…bloody red meat hanging off the bone.

Working in and loving the comic field myself I have witnessed how hard it is to break into, especially growing up in Northern Ireland. How the hell did you manage to escape from the shackles and live the dream?

Oh, I live in a dream that has nothing to do with my love of comics. I am literally so emotionally retarded I doubt I would know if I ever hit the big time. Anyone who regulates their lives in this way is really only internally preparing themselves for a guest spot on the Oprah Winfrey show. One of the comics I was involved with sold over three hundred thousand copies and it was a shallow empty sterile mess that signified nothing. I recently wrote, drew and published an anthology comic book called Good Craic Comics that when it passed the five hundred sales mark, made me believe I had actually done something right…actually I am not comfortable where this is going. The past is dead. I want to live in the now.

I remember as a kid visiting Talisman (Belfast Comic Shop) seeing you with your big sticky up Martin Gore/Eraserhead Hair. You were always an interesting and nice guy, a far cry from the usual patronising ‘Simpsons’ model of a comic book seller. How did you keep sane? Have you any interesting Comic Shop anecdotes?

That’s a very kind thing to say. I was so happy in that old store. That was my golden age when everything was new to me. We opened that wee store at the height of the troubles. We were a splash of colour when people desperately needed it. We survived bombs, intimidation and murder. That shop floor was a stage for eccentricity, that up to that point, had remained firmly and safely behind closed doors and drawn curtains. There’s a couple of Tolkien sized volumes waiting to be written about that time. ‘The Fellowship of the Wrong’. Perhaps it would be better if someone other than me wrote it…

When I visit comic shops now I struggle to find the comics. It’s all Mcfarlane Toys, badly produced T-shirts and Goth influenced novelties. What is your most shameful purchase of merchandised crap?

If you are struggling to find good comics you are shopping in the wrong places. I have never made a shameful purchase in my life. From a certain point of view any purchase that is not needed simply to keep you alive and well could be construed as shameful. That’s a quote from the Jedi Book Of Commerce.

He he he... What’s been your own favourite work?

Whatever I’ve just finished normally. Yep, I am that easily pleased. I like to look forward. It’s painful to look back, although I do have a soft spot for Holy Cross #3. I wrote it. Paul Holden drew it. Fantagraphics published it. We were worlds apart but together I thought we made a good comic.

Your stories are usually full of kinky ‘sexcapades’, are you venting some sexual frustrations?

Hell no… Sex is class and its not celebrated enough in comics. In my life I have had financial frustrations, spiritual frustrations, political frustrations. But even the worst sex ever was not frustrating. And you have to understand that because I was brought up a strict catholic I will suffer for all eternity for having even thought that. My characters Major Power and Spunky made the homophobes angry. My character Catholic Lad made fellow Irish Catholics angry. A brother and sister comic collecting duo from Dublin hated me for separate reasons. He hated my gay superheroes and she hated my Vatican charged do-gooder, but they both loved Holy Cross.

What are you up to at the minute? Rumour has it that you’re working with Mills again, is there any truth in it?

Laying Good Craic Comics second issue to bed. Then I want to continue on with a story I have already started writing called ‘The Grave Digger's Son’. Don’t know where the Mills rumour came from, probably the Internet, so much for the information super-highway, it’s more like flies graveyard of Boobie Babble.

I read somewhere that the title ‘Ouija Board, Ouija Board’ is connected to you in some way? Considering my current obsession with the occult could you let us in on it?

‘Oujia Board, Oujia Board’ is a comic strip I do for the Northern Irish politics, culture and arts review magazine Fortnight. It’s a first to try something like that in that particular mag and I was grateful to the board of directors to give me the chance. Some of the people working on Fortnight were just so good and smart, I felt like a kid again sneaking a peek into the teacher’s tea room. Getting into a magazine with someone like the poet Benjamin Zephaniah, who I think is just a magic human being, gave me such a thrill. Imagine yourself in a pop magazine sandwiched between Morrissey and the Gorillaz. You would think you had arrived at the court of Kubla Khan...
...Please tell me you would.

Weird & Freaky Question:

The world has suffered a terrible blast of interstellar radiation and had morphed people’s body parts around. They are functioning in all kinds of different manners. If, given the choice, you had to pick an infliction, which would you prefer. A tight heart shaped rectum where your mouth once was, so farting and excreting can be viewed by others, or teeth, tongue and palate between your ass cheeks so as when you eat, you have to squat over a bowl. Ruling out the chance of ever visiting Paul Rankin’s Café ever again.

Catering is a difficult career choice. I don’t want to knock somebody else who works so hard and being a celebrity chef seems like such hard work despite the horrific events caused by interstellar radiation. I worked as a waiter for a few very different people and it was terrible. I had no choice though, after our house was burnt down and my family was scattered to the four winds. I worked in a hotel owned by some real heavies and ended up afraid to leave. One of them really liked me, (cause I didn’t swear?... go figure.) I remember he would insist that I acted as waiter to this very scary guy who had nicknamed me ‘lightning’ ‘cause I was so slow. Oh how everyone laughed…

And frankly this bizarre question reveals you have never been to the city of Los Angeles somewhere in America. Having a bum hole in yer face would probably be a mark of distinction there. Forget Bling, it’s shite. American for ”LOOK WHAT I’VE GOT AND YOU DON’T.”

The randomness of radiation mutation would lend the proper air of uniqueness that seems so essential to the modern world. Or the world we find ourselves sharing at the moment.

The Twist: Of course you can’t have one without the other, so by choosing one you automatically get the other. What would you despise more, wiping shit off your face with toilet roll or sticking a toothbrush up your ass to brush your teeth?

Things change. They always do. Interviews like this only serve to create the illusion of permanence and nailing things down. It’s all just a cultural placebo. I hope you are ready for yer medicine…

Fan Mal:

Wiki Coney
Interview for Creative NI
More Ouija Board, Ouija Board Artwork

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Cue & Ehh? With Scar Stuff's Jason Willis

It's a very rare thing to accidentally stumble across greatness. So when I tripped over Scar Stuff on Blogger you can imagine how amazingly lucky I felt. Scar Stuff is looked after by Jason Willis; Blogger, Musician, Designer, Art Director... phew.

There are already a few respectable album posting blogs, though none as close to my heart as this blog. Regularly updated with amazing finds from the Horror/ Halloween genre, you are sure to find many keepsakes. I was able to catch up with Jason and find out what makes him tick…

Download Various Spooks 'Ghoul-Arama', A Scar Stuff Compilation (192k Zip)

The first thing is the question that everyone wants to ask you: Where the hell do you find all your blogging material? Have you found a secret haunted house with an attic or basement fool of goodies?

Sadly what you're really getting here is a glimpse into the packrat brain I've formed after years of misfiring neurons & the ill-considered neural nets constructed as a result. I've just collected this crap for as long as I can remember (I have records dating back to when I was 4 years old that I'm still lugging around) and I guess my tastes just haven't evolved enough to where I've realized I could jettison them. Aiding all of this was a solid decade & a half of record store jobs and my general obsessive personality; If I have 1 of something it's a safe bet that I have at least 10 other variations on the theme lurking about somewhere.

This is a boring question, but I'm interested in the answer... Maybe I'll ask it muddled up to spice it up:

Waht si yuor Fvaourtie fnid?

I guess usually it involves re-connecting with some artefact I either had or coveted at a formative stage in life -- something I only saw in the pages of a magazine or had & lost over the years; these are the most satisfying. Along those lines getting that damn Johnson Smith Novelty Company "Horror Record" single again was pretty cool, and finally being able to hear the Harvey Records singles (thanks to a guy on a "Richie Rich" yahoo group) was a pretty swell recent score too. For Punk Rock/ New Wave stuff it's a similar story -- I searched for an album by a band from Texas called "The Nelsons" (they'd won an early 80's MTV contest called "Basement Tapes" with a novelty New Wave song called "I Don't Mind") for years before finding it, and once I finally got it probably wasn't going to matter how the rest of the thing sounded since the whole package so perfectly represented the moment in time that created it. There's probably a way for me to work in the D.P.'s "If You Know What I Mean" LP in here too (ex-Depressions, Barn Records, 1978) cause that was a fighter to find again, but I can't figure the segue out. Suffice to say that usually the more marginal the artist (& to a degree, the genre) the more I'm going to flip my lid to hear it, and obviously the "market value" is pretty meaningless to me; I'm not trying to score a copy of the Tapeworm 7" or anything.

'Scar Stuff' is quite a funny name, but perfect for your blog. What I hate about the actual latex though is that when you use it, it's impossible to get off your fingers. Then for two months after Halloween you are struggling with the simplest task with sticky fingertips. Why 'Scar Stuff' over 'Fake Blood', 'Foam Fangs' or 'Plastic Claws'?

It was actually completely spur of the moment, but right after I thought of it I knew it was perfect for me. Here in the states "Scar Stuf" was made by this cheapo company called "Imagineering", and you could find their stuff at dime stores around Halloween. It was basically a low-budget peripheral product with crummy (but almost unwittingly cool) packaging -- pretty much everything I look for in MOST art forms (not to mention that most of the records I'm posting HAVE left some kinda scars on me). And yeah, that
stuff was a fucking mess to use.

What's been the best Halloween costume you've ever been dressed in?

In 1976 (which was second grade for me) I dressed up in a homemade Creature From The Black Lagoon getup that my mom helped me make. The costume was composed of a thin ¾” rubber mask ordered from a comic book and my previous year's Sears-bought "Planet of the Apes" costume turned inside out, dyed green and accented by darker green cheesecloth that was supposed to resemble seaweed. All by itself the costume was pretty damn cool, but the *best* part was that it got me a role in an educational film called "Halloween Safety" (made by Coronet/ Centron films, for whom director Herk "Carnival of Souls" Harvey did most of his work). Some scout looking for kids to stick in this thing came to my grade school & picked me out as we paraded around in our outfits, and I've been trying to find a copy of the damn movie ever since (there's a revised version out there that came out in 1985 as well, but I'm pretty sure I'll have been excised from that one since my "part" was totally minimal.) Heh, and about 4 or 5 years later I dressed up as a "Punk Rocker" & on some level that's a costume I'm probably still wearing at least a little bit.

You must spend a lot of time ripping the tracks, researching them and then blogging them. Do you ever have moments where you feel like you can't be bothered anymore? What keeps you blogging?

Yeah, more based on dwindling time than lack of desire though. Like everyone I know, I've got a lot of junk going (I'm in a full time band, I've got a full time job, I do a ton of freelance design work for various record & video companies, etc), but I really do love sharing stuff with people, especially the type of Joe I'm largely catering to. I mean, this is at least *marginally* fringe stuff (either in terms of current cultural significance, initial market share, or the just the mental real estate people are likely to've allotted it over the years), so I suppose that to me that means that the more detail-oriented & informative I can make my posts, the better they'll be at shifting that weight at least a little. The weird truth is that the people who originally made this stuff (for whatever reasons be they pure artistic impulse, trying to make a quick buck by doing as little as possible, total exploitation -- whatever) have made the world a better place for me. I wanna give them their due! Hopefully I won't burn out on that.

Your blog is definitely in my top ten sites to visit. When I'm looking about your site, what sites are you frequenting?

Firstly I'll avoid the things I link to off of my site & just check my history on this one;

...and about a million more variations on these themes along with a bunch of graphic design sites that I hit for my job (I'm an art director working in a pleasingly low-brow medium).

I can imagine your collection. I'm sure it's one of the freakiest browsing experiences on the planet. Well above my old flat-mate Margaret's collection. She had an amazingly expensive stereo but owned only one CD, which was Celine Dion. It was used for all occasions. What would you play if you were romancing?

It's been a million things over the years but these days I'm cool with some bop/ post-bop 50's-60's trio/quartet Jazz (with most instrument line-ups being okay as long as it's a small group), or some early 70's King Tubby style dub mixes. Oh, and Opal "Happy Nightmare Baby" always works for me too.

I'm at a loss. I've worn War of the Worlds (Radio Play) thin, I've been listening to Stephen King's 'The Mist' in 3D, I've listened to all the Darker Projects stuff and the City of Dreams plays. I'm looking for a horror audio drama that can chill me. Even started making my own through my podcast 'Ouija' to fill the void. Have you any recommends for me?

I dunno about the scare factor, but old radio shows are where it's at for me. Actually when I was young I had a box set called "The Great Radio Horror Shows" which had an episode of Mystery House called "The Thirsty Death" which gave me nightmares, so I guess some of them might have a little creepiness mixed in there (but mostly they're souped up crime dramas). That episode is somewhere on here by the way:

I remember my first horror film. I was around 7-8 years old and my mate Dave, who was much older, rented 'Mausoleum', an awful horror flick about a sexy daughter possessed by the same demon that possessed her mother. It still scared the shit out of me. Do you remember your first time?

Hey, I love that flick! For the scares AND the breasts! The shit that scared me the most as a kid in the 70's had to be anything dealing with either demonic possession (when I was a kid I was quite honestly convinced that any given night at the outskirts of my small Kansas town, there were throngs of chanting Devil worshipers busily involved in some kind of human sacrifice), or dead ghost kids (those little Diane Arbus looking girls in Kubrick's version of "The Shining" certainly did a job on me). Hierarchically speaking, after that it was probably the walking dead (either the "Avenging Corpse" variety or your more Romero-inspired zombie stuff) that could deeply frighten me. Anyway my first major movie scare was probably the Exorcist, but random episodes of the Night Stalker & Night Gallery also did me in for sure.

Backtracking a little, and keeping in mind, all the Americans that believed War of the Worlds was real at the time of it's broadcast. Have you ever been frightened by an audio broadcast/production?

Oh! I guess I covered this -- yeah that Thirsty Death program for sure when I was very young, but also a number of stories on the records I've posted (mostly "The Hitchhiker" on "Famous Ghost Stories" by Wade Denning.)

Pumpkin carvers don't know how easy they have it. When I was a kid we used to carve turnips with a spoon. You would need to start in Easter to have it carved for Halloween. What vegetable would you not like to be forced to carve?

Hey, so you really did that? In a number of the Halloween history books I've read they talk about this being one of the likely rituals that provided the genesis for the traditional US Jack o' Lantern but I had no idea it was still going on. A turnip is pretty bad so I'll largely stick with tradition & say rutabaga. Mostly cause I do in fact LIKE to say "rutabaga".

Which joke item would you appreciate more: a poo made of chocolate or a bar of chocolate made of poo?

I think it's safe to say that my level of appreciation for either item would be about equal.

Weird & Freaky Question:

If Heaven and Hell brought in a new law that ruled that rather than someone outright going to hell for eternal damnation or heaven for eternal joy, that instead, each of their body parts would be judged individually and sent to the appropriate areas. My mouth for example, would definitely burn because of my bigoted, racist and filthy humour, but my eyelashes, with Matthew, Mark and Luke. Which of a few of your chosen body parts would go where and why?

It's a good bet that the body parts that've been doing my bidding (& doing it well) are going to be serving time for their efforts. Anything being given a free pass is just due to sloppy oversight on my part.

Further Make Up:

Scar Stuff
Oxide Flake - Jason's Other Blog
The Knockout Pills - Jason's Band
The Knockout Pills' Myspace - Features 4 Great Tracks

Sarah Silverman's Wish

Clippit from her forthcoming TV show. 'Nuff Said.