DANIEL FRANCIS DOYLE: UNCONTROLLED

By Max Dropout

[audio:http://www.youbettershutupandlisten.com/mp3s/daniel_francis_doyle_-_head_up.mp3]

I had nothing better to do as a kid than drag through the bins in the front of the local record shop while friends tended to unsavory business in the store room. I would dwell on the sleeves, abuse the common turntable, and peruse the tape cases, while altogether ignoring some burgeoning new section dedicated to an alien format known as the “compact disc.” I would eavesdropped on the burnt up dropouts behind the counter lauding Redd Kross and bickering over obscure blues and jazz bullshit that I still don’t give a fuck about. I would go broke and then thieve. This is how I would spend my afternoons and evenings after work: trapping opinions that seeped into my vicinity; creeping through a poorly manicured garden of sonic delights; and spending what little money I scraped together from my several menial jobs about town. By the time I was about 13 I had dropped out of school and my face had become a fixture at this shop. I was more constant and reliable than most of the other tweaker clerks who’d come and gone over the years, and with diligence had soaked up every shred of information and advice they’d left in their wake. It wasn’t too long much longer before I found myself integrated into the scheme, officially.

While most would have balked at the small size of our shop, the sheer elitism oozing from that crop of talking heads behind the counter assured that we made the most of our space on the floor, which consisted primarily of punk, metal, blues, and jazz records, while an ample collection of rarities, collectors items, and picture discs blared behind our backs. Competing stores may have dwarfed us in terms of their rental space, but we didn’t give a fuck about blowing more money so we could house an overflowing pop section. When you couldn’t find the record you wanted at that megapower Salzer‘s, you came to us. While Salzer’s was a great store, the early symptoms of a sickness that would go on to ravage most decent shops in the none-too-distant future were evident: namely, they were pushing whoopie cushions, tit-shaped mugs, and other novelty items along with record titles. They were not primarily a record shop, but instead, an ENTERTAINMENT outlet.

But I digress. This is supposed to be about my friend Daniel. However, when I think about him, my mind drifts back to sitting behind the counter of that local record shop, blowing contact high out of my face with my floppy bangs as co-workers buzzed about the intensity and in-studio performance of the respective slab on the turntable. They’d argue and compare notes while littering the counter with sleeves. Intensity and soul was what it was about. If anything, that was the standard by which we governed the space on our floor. If it didn’t make you feel something or anything, we evicted it — it had to pull its weight. There are still a lot of stores like the one I worked at, and technology has only fortified the watermark of quality control, not to mention made many more titles available to the public. When I was a teenager, I was relegated merely to HEARING and READING about Australia’s Au Go Go records or the New Zealand-based Flying Nun label. Thanks to years of hyperbole, I had built up high anticipation and even reverence for a number of artists I’d never actually heard, though I was continually assured that when these records finally came into my hands, my mind would be thrown into some sort of ecstacy seizure. It was years before I would ever find a copy of the ScientistsHeading For a Trauma” LP — an effort, that, after having been exposed to their earliest power poppier stuff, shocked me with the robust psychedelic neurosis seeping from its shoddy seems. Salmon’s minimalist buzz-saw drone was overpowering and like nothing I had previously heard. It was not only fresh, but the recorded performances were potent and surprisingly well-recorded for their period. However, with the good also came the disappointing. One such band in particular was the Pop Group — a band that had been trumpeted as one of the most innovative, influential and intense bands to ever come out of the UK. Until maybe five years ago, this band, for me, was merely a foot note. This was one of those bands that, while listening to The Wipers; franticisms, someone would mention in attempt to one up the emotional volley between the warm and paranoid textures of Greg Sage’s sound. Without fail, the Pop Group would haunt most any musical discussion pertaining to music that contained any emotional intensity.

Years later, the Y LP sat tucked amid a forest of shit in my room. I was careful about approaching it too suddenly for fear of startling it. Records like this always take me a long time to get around to. It’s like losing your virginity. You really want the circumstances to be right. It’s a ritual that has been built up by all the other babbling sluts around you to the point that you expect something of great meaning to occur when you puncture the bubble. It WILL apparently be a meaningful and spiritual thing; stars will sing, you will psychically commune with your house pets, and you shall sweat blood like Jesus did before they hung his draft card-burning ass out to dry. Well, when I put that record on, none of that happened to me. There was no pivotal climax, No exorcism of tension. There I sat, in my arm chair, with veritable blue balls. This was some flat, overrated bullshit. What it is about white people and horns I have no idea. You can literally take the lamest recording ever, and if you put horns over it, Anglos will lose their shit. This was the record people had spent hours which cumulatively could reflect DAYS rambling about? This was the mighty flame thrower by which all my supposed affections would be torched and melted by? It was more like a sonic coozy. It didn’t do much more than keep my beer cold.

Anyway, all that much-ado about that Y record? All the hype they funnel in around records like this? And all the intensity you expect to just wash over your body and make you levitate the minute the first chord stabs at you? Well, when I first heard Daniel Francis Doyle, it lived up to the hype that all those people heap onto stuff like the Pop Group. All those empty charges of “aural assault” from dipshit collector nerds against all that obscure post punk crap you’ve wasted your money on over the last eight or so years may in fact be found on Dan Doyle’s debut, Who Are Your Customers?
Dan is an affable young guy with an infectious smile and generous nature, of average stature, bespectacled and well-groomed. To say he is unassuming in his appearance wouldn’t be a stretch; he is very far from imposing. I spent most of the winter months this past year avoiding his performances in spite of my fondness for this character, but finally, forced myself to go see what Jesse from Furniture Records was rolling his eyes ecstatically about whenever he cornered me about this LP he was putting out a one-man act from the part of Hell located beneath the surface of Berlin, or so he made him out to be.

As I approached the stage, the set up immediately piqued my curiosity. On either side of a full kit, were cabs, one of which Doyle was affixing a bass guitar to the face of with duct tape. On the ground were various triggers, including a loop station. Doyle looked up and acknowledged me with a nod and smiled past the microphone headset he was wearing. Outfitted in khaki’s, a white t shirt, and sneakers, he looked like he was about to settle in for some yard work rather than a performance, but this modesty only stoked my curiosity. And then he began…

Twenty minutes later, Doyle laid crumpled in a ball of sweat behind his drum kit, his lungs struggling to keep their host from abandoning them, and I stood looking down at his form in complete awe of what I’d just witnessed.

That night Doyle and I exchanged info for booking purposes, and I expressed interest in setting up an interview with him for a potential article. He obliged, and we both compared our schedules… “I’m up real late,” he said, with exuberance, “so, the later the better. It’s no problem.”

After weeks of playing phone tag and a few false starts, I got home one night after work at about 2:30am, and heard the familiar voice on my machine. He’d been up all night stamping records for his upcoming west coast tour with the Tuxedo Killers, and said he’d perhaps be interested in getting the interview out of the way since he’d be leaving for an extended period in the next few days.

I called Dan back to confirm and he arrived about thirty minutes later. Shortly before he’d gotten to my house I’d been watching the Clint Eastwood film Play Misty For Me on television and spacing out. I dropped the volume as we settled into our spots… Dan is momentarily fixated on the screen over his shoulder as I set up my tape recorder…

Dan asks, intrigued by the commotion on the screen, “what’s this?”

Oh, this is Play Misty For Me. It’s a Clint Eastwood movie… he plays a radio DJ, and this woman, Evelyn keeps calling him up regularly, flirtatiously asking him to play “Misty.” One night, he meets her “randomly” at a bar, and ends up sleeping with her. That sparks all out insanity… this woman turns out to be totally psychotic, and she latches onto him. He tries to break it off, and she just becomes irrate. In one part of the movie, she goes over to discuss why he doesn’t want to be with her anymore, and she decided to go into the bathroom and slash her wrists.
Woah!

It’s just basically about this woman’s infatuation with him, which engulfs his life.
Sounds great.

Really strange early seventies’ movie. Anyway, let’s get down to business. I have some questions mixed in here with mine from Jesse Hodges, your co-conspirator in two of the projects you’re in now.
As far as Tuxedo Killers

And of course, When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth. Also part of the brain trust behind Furniture Records, who put out your LP, Who Are Your Customers? Alright, first question… (laugh) where do you get your hair cut?
Oh man (smiles). Barrett Walton. He’s also the guy who engineered Who Are Your Customers? I go to his studio and he gives me haircuts. I give him twelve dollars every time. Does that mean Jesse doesn’t like my haircut?

Doubt it. You have some pro hair. Alright, this is a good one: how do you respond to those who label your stuff solely as that of a crazy man?
(laughter)
I guess I can understand how they might get that impression, but it’s a broad assumption. I’m not, you know… crazy.

I’m gonna expound on this: in the Chronicle, they have these writers who make some pretty shitty analogies. Really lame prose that makes you go, “what the fuck does that mean?” There was one description in there, where someone said this particular band sounded like “a devil shined with WD40″ or some shit that makes you go, “FUCK! DIE!”… Similarly, they described your record as sounding like a man running through the forest with a chainsaw.
(laughter)
A machete.

Yeah… or as Jesse had put it, they make your record sound like you’ve unleashed you inner Jason Vorhees.
Well, I totally appreciate that anyone gives a crap enough to write about my record, and would give it three stars. But I wish they would have concentrated on the music a little more rather than trying to build it up as some crazy guy’s expression of his own dementia. Maybe they just ran out of things to write about. The first line is, “he’s probably figured out how to channel the voices in his head…” Whatever, ya know. I’m not schizophrenic.

Good segue. The next question is, How DO YOU deal with all the voices in your head?
(Laughter)
Wow… I don’t have to deal with them because there are no voices in my head. I mean, except for my own internal dialog…? Is that what that means? I dunno.

I don’t know how fictitious a lot of the themes and situations in your songs are…
NONE of it’s fictitious (laughs).

None? Well, your record came for me at a very pivotal time. A song like “Head Up”… I’m going through a very strange break up right now. I relate to it because the girl I was seeing related to me quite specifically through a lot of my writing. When she started to drift away I was trying to drag her back through a lot of what I was doing. Trying to intensify and become a BETTER writer, and so a lot of the lyrics are a very plane parallel that I related to on a very obvious and literal level. What IS “Head Up” about?
I’m making fun of myself actually. When the relationship I was in that was so important to me WAS cut off, I was writing all these songs… song-writer type songs, trying to be clever with the lyrics and express all these feelings I was having about the situation… And after I looked back on all those songs, I thought “this is ridiculous. I’m trying to be so clever, trying to express my emotions, but really all I wanna do is yell.”
All the lyrics basically just amount to, “hey, come back please.”
All I’m trying to say amounts to trying to get her back. So, “I’ll write a pretty song to bring my love back to me” is kind of sarcastic. It’s a parody of those other songs.

… But also more direct and effective. It does sound pretty sardonic though. How did she react to it?
We never talked about it. She’s seen it live, she’s heard the record. But she never sat down with me and said “eeeehhh.” We’re really good friends now… and it’s still (contemplative smile)… It probably freaked her out. If listened to that and I were her I’d probably be really freaked out.

Of all the songs on the record, it probably comes off as the most neurotic and psychotic, just for the sheer intensity of it — it was a female who reviewed your record, right?
Yeah.

I think from a female perspective, stuff like that is a little more intimidating. She focused on that particular song I think. It’s completely relatable on my behalf, though. It’s more tragic than terrifying for me.
For a while actually I was starting to feel pathetic about longing for this girl for so long, and I tried to change the meaning of the song. My best friend, who I was in a band with for seven years, had the love of his life die, and a lot of the songs we would play were about her, so I tried to relate “Head Up” to her. “Bring her back. Back her to life.”
But then I thought, “you know what? I’m pathetic. It’s not about that. It’s about this girl who broke up with me.” (Laugh)

How do you feel about the song? There are performances were, like this last Friday, people popped for it. When they heard you start it up, they went nuts. People are connecting with that song obviously. You don’t see that very often, not in local audiences. When you started that song, which was an encore, I didn’t think you were gonna play it… last few times you hadn’t played it. But when you started, they cheered.
I don’t play it a lot… the ending is so over the top, I can’t deal with the audience. I don’t wanna say some pretentious performer bullshit, but I can’t really do it when there’s an audience there. Especially when it’s for a small crowd, or a lot of friends. And then another reason I haven’t played it a lot is because people will start yelling, “Hey! Hey! Hey!” right before I do the ending, and it totally kills it for me. They’ll yell, “Hey, come back to me” … thinking it’ll encourage me to do it.

People know the breaks by heart, though. That’s wild. Gotta be encouraging.
Considering the fact that the end of the song is just me doing sparse things on drums and screaming, it IS surprising.

First time I saw you do it, you looked like you were about to die. It was a very physically involved performance (laugh). But I love it. Anyway, next question. Explain “Who Are Your Customers” as a title.
The title doesn’t have anything to do with the lyrics. I’m kind of ashamed of this, but the whole album is about being clinically depressed about this girl. I love how Shellac has all these amazing, fictitious lyrics about some guy whose wife cheated on him with John F Kennedy and how he hopes he dies… I wish I could do something like that, but I end up writing about my feelings and emotions. But anyway that’s what the whole album is all about. But the title has nothing to do with that. I work at a restaurant, and this regular costumer who comes in, this science guy at UT, saw me play at the Ritz back in October. He doesn’t listen to any music like that and he was totally perplexed when I saw him the next day. We were talking about it, and he was like, trying to ask me who goes to see that kind of stuff. And he says, as if he thinks of it as me being a business, “WHO are your customers?”… “Who ARE your customers?”… “Who are your CUSTOMERS?”
And I thought that would be a really great album title. It was awesome how it came out: who are the customers? who buys your product? It has nothing to do with the lyrics or anything. As for the cover, I just thought it would be amazing to have a bunch of woodland creatures that are out of proportion with each other, upside-down and side-ways, and I had my brother do it and it worked out great.

It’s actually a great cover. Most local bands have fucking HORRIBLE covers. Shit that PAINS me to look at. But this is one of the best records to come out of this city in a long time, from packaging to content. You and the Crack Pipes have put out two of the best albums from Austin in a long time.
Wow, thank you.

Alright I have an Early Lines question here… I’m gonna modify it a bit. Your current rig… the whole mess you have on stage.
It takes a long time to set up.

Not really. You’re fucking fast actually.
Good! Good!

How did the rig evolve though?
This actually has to do with Early Lines. We put out an EP a year ago and we were gonna go on tour for it. But then one of the guys in the band, as far as touring went, was a little back and forth. Chris and I would kind of worry, “man, what if he backs out of the tour.”
He had some pretty serious personal problems going on. And I was thinking to myself, “I have all these dates booked for two weeks, and they’re really good shows. I’m not gonna let this go to waste.”
I said to Chris, “if this guy backs out of the tour, im just gonna go on the road with amps and drums, and I’m just gonna play drums to feedback and yell, and that’s what im gonna do.” But the tour happened with the Early Lines anyway, so I didn’t have to do that. And eventually the Early Lines did break up… for a bunch of reasons. And I decided, “I’m going to try that out… this yelling and feedback thing.” so the original rig was just the guitar… no guitar loops at all. Just the guitar duct taped to an amplifier and me playing drums, blasting it off and on. I put out the first three songs on my own… just CD-R’s and a little paper case. It was called “Daniel Francis Doyle Sings the Blues in E.” I played my first show at the Parlor doing that and I played four songs and people really liked it. I was kind of surprised. And so I thought, “No I gotta do more of this. I gotta do guitar loops…”

A commotion on the television tramples over Daniel’s words, distracting him from the conversation. He trails off, turning toward the screen, and clearly enunciates a, “woah!”
Jessica Walters as Evelyn is pursuing Eastwood’s maid with a gleaming butcher’s blade, attempting to silence her piercing squelch in a most cruel and inefficient method. Blood rallies round the metal at the helm of the queen psycho bitch, who lashes at her victim in an unbridled psychotic fit. Her teeth gnashed together clearly as her lips pull back into some strangely gleeful cheer. Her chin held high, she is proud and justified. What a fucking loon.

Yeah. Don’t mess with the wrong girl… Shit happens, though. With a cleaver. Anyway, you were saying?
So I added the guitar loops and I got the pedal, and all the songs on Who Are Your Customers I wrote in a two-month time span. It took a while to get used to it with the cannibal device.

The tape cuts off, and Daniel prattles on for a bit about the loop station and film before I notice and interrupt him. I insert side B, and hit record again.

We’re gonna have to repeat shit. I hate this. This all feels so contrived now… I wanna recapture that moment, we just lost, but it just seems forced. It sucks. I guess the next question pertains to films being an influence on your style of music or your lyrics.
How do they impact what you do?
I love film. I am a big movie fan. But films really don’t have any direct influence on my lyrics or my music itself. However, there is one song in particular on the album. It’s called “She Breathes,” and it�s kind of a joke. It’s based on old monster movie previews you’d see, where the monster is coming toward the village. And people are running away and the titles jump out at the audience… “IT LIVES! IT WALKS! IT DESTROYS!”
And the girl I was hung up over for song long, she left town for a while and I felt I was getting over her. Then she came back and I realized I wasn’t over her at all. She was back in my life. I felt like I was in one of those trailers, and she was invading my village. The lyrics are, ‘she eats, she walks, she breathes… I seen it! I seen it!… I seen it” is supposed to be the villager who’s seen “it” going back to the village to report that the monster’s coming.

But you are a film fan.
I love films… They just don’t come out in the music.

I was interested to hear you say you liked Cassavetes
For my money, Husbands is the best movie ever. It appeals to me so much.

My favorite movie ever is Face in the Crowd. You ever see that?
No!
It’s about this straw chewin’ back roads traveler, who just oozes this raw, animal charisma, who finds himself on this weird local radio show. The gimmick of the show, which is called A Face In The Crowd, is that they spotlight ordinary, every day slobs… only this guy isn’t so ordinary. And the woman who does it sort of exploits his natural charm and parlays it into a succesful national television show. By the end of the film, he’s advising presidential candidates on how to win people over. Most people who see it think the main character is kind of evil, but really he’s a reflection of the ambitions of those around him, and even their jealousy and feelings of self-frustration toward what he possesses. All the supporting characters are kind of dispicable, and as a result, so is he. But anyway, you were saying about dialog earlier when we got cut off…
Right, right… seventies films, I am in love with the slow paced dialog you find in films of that period. Like the Exorcist. The dialog is just really compelling and so rich.

I think a lot of that has to do with novels being a prevalent source of basis for a lot of seventies screen plays. Now, they’ve dumbed the format down to where just about any chimpanzee can write one. Have you ever see the Ninth Configuration?
Nope!
You need to see that! It’s really dialog-driven drama about a psychologist who’s hauled up in some archaic castle with these lunatics who’ve been driven insane by their government jobs. One of em is an austronaut, and another is some military intelligent guy who’s adapting Shakespeare for dogs. It’s written and directed by William Peter Blatty, who wrote the Exorcist. He also wrote, adapted, and directed Exorcist III, which is one of my favorite movies ever.
I LOVE Exorcist III — LOVE that movie. And it’s kind of a crappy movie, but I love Exorcist II as well.
Exorcist II is kind of a gorgeous mistake.
The scenes with the girl being analyzed, and the scenes in africa are so amazing…
Gritty as hell. Did you see the fourth one?
Uhm, no… I don’t know if I can.
I’ve seen both versions and both are horrible.
Even the Schrader version?
The Schrader version despite what any snob will tell you is worse. Harlin’s is a little more entertaining because the ending is so blatantly Jew-hating. Schrader’s is just boring. It’s not even entertaining on accident, like Harlin’s. Ever see hardcore?
No.
George C Scott plays this dutch country fundamental Christian whos daughter is abducted when she goes to LA… and Peter Boyle plays this sleeze ball detective who helps track her down
NICE!

There’s this scene where theyre walkin down the street, and theyre walking up to this theater, and boyle goes ever see a stag film? And scott is kind of innocent. Gullible. So he takes him inside, and boyle hits the projector, and it’s his daughter getting double teamed by two guys. And it’s great… he goes to LA to find his daughter.
Brutal!
Yeah, the best part is him in this hotel room holding casting calls to find the guys he saw in the film, and it’s George C in this HORRIBLE black mustache, repeatedly asking these studs, “LEMME SEE YOUR CACK!”
That’s awesome! I also need to see this, too. This looks crazy.

Back on track, though. How do you relate to the idea of a scene… is there one, and are you a part of it?
I don’t feel like I’m part of any scene. Scenes can be kind of unhealthy at times. This sounds possibly snobby, but there are really bad bands that get supported just because they are local.

I agree with you, 100%.
I’m gonna sound like a jackass, but I think thats unhealthy

People aren’t as critical toward their friends, even if their friends are making awful music.
Yeah, on the flipside, there are bands that I love that I might not necessarily like all if I didn’t know the person, because I know where they’re coming from. I know they’re sincere.

You asshole! (laughter) But I do think the bands you feel kinship toward are bands youve been assimilated into almost, no?
In a weird yeah, yeah (laugh), like When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth, I like that band obviously, but I feel what I do or represent is completely different. I’m not really accustomed to being in a drunken, rowdy band. That’s the first time I’ve ever done anything like that. It’s good, a new experience. What I do and what I did in the Early Lines is kind of a focused, sober, spilling of complaints. That’s the kind of music I make; I complain a lot. I’ve never really dealt with having a good time before. I’ve never been all about feeling good before the show or getting some drinks in me before I play. I don’t drink before MY shows.

Never?
Never. I just don’t do it. I wanna be totally focused. I don’t feel like I need the drink.

Thats funny I could swear I’ve seen you smashed on stage.
Lemme make that clear: I DO drink before Dinos shows. I DON’T drink before MY shows.
Cause, I was gonna say, one of those Dinos shows at Beerland, you were playing “Banafana”…
“Bananafana”… and I tackled Mike. (laughs) And then there was the time when I was on that riser at Flamingo Cantina, and Brandon’s kit was below mine, and I DUMPED my kit on top of his. That’s actually stuff I might do totally sober too, though. But before my sets, I can’t have any sort of buzz. I have focusing issues; coordination issues. When I drink it’s to escape, and when I play music I wanna experience it, totally. (pause) I feel kind of pretentious saying that.

You’re worried about that a lot. You shouldn’t be worried about it. That’s how you BECOME pretentious, I think. How do you feel about playing in other bands? Are they a distraction from what you wanna do with Dan Doyle?
I really love helping people out in all sorts of ways. Like covering my co-workers shifts if they need it, and helping friends move if they need it, and I see playing in Tuxedo Killers and When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth as being indicative of that personality trait of mine. I like those bands and that’s why I’m playing drums FOR them. I feel good helping them out. But the idea of being A PART of other bands, I’m not really that idea. (laughs)
Thats so bizarre. So, you’re a very charitable individual.
Well, I totally enjoying being in these bands. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy it! I have become a better drummer by playing along with Brandon Crowe in Dinosaurs. He’s great. I love the experience and just the opportunity to get better. But the IDEA of playing in anyone else’s bands is something I don’t like. I’m just drumming for the bands.

Do you consider what you do to be “self-help” music. If so, are there any methods of self help youd recommend.
For me, it’s self help music. At times when I was really down, the only thing that made me feel good was going to practice by myself and just making up these songs. The adrenaline I get from playing and especially from CREATING this songs has been the best medication ever. Music is my ultimate escape. Even though the lyrics are just me complaining, the actual musical element makes me feel really good.

Is there any particular time you relate to? In terms of music?
I think the eighties was the best period for music ever. From 1980 to 1989 there was so much progression in music it’s ridiculous, from American hardcore to late eighties indie rock, and the solid connection between the two genres, it’s beautiful. I’m in love with early eighties American hardcore.

What bands do you mean when you say hardcore?
Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Black Flag… the thing I love about those bands is that it went way past hardcore. Like the Minutemen are probably my favorite band of all time.

Big black? A lot of so-called hardcore bands are really drawing from bands like Big Black and Jesus Lizard right now. A lot of mid-American hardcore, like stuff out of Ohio and even off the East coast.
Big Black is an anomoly. I don’t think people really get that band at all. I’m sure people take something away an impression of that bamd, but I don’t think they really get it. But back to American ahrdcore, just the progression of it is amazing, and there’s also that cut off point, where probably any band that called themselves hardcore after ’82 or ’83 kind of sucked. Black Flag were past it. Minutemen were past it. And Ian McKaye went on to do all that other stuff. Hardcore became some stupid blue print, something people kind of followed. It was a set pattern. It’s like the equivalent of some blues band going through the motions at some shitty bar.

How do you feel about the heroin problem in plano during the 1990s?
It was horrible, (laughs hard) it was pretty crappy. A lot of people died. (laughs) I laugh as I say that. It was a big problem in the late ’90s and it got a lot of attention because it wasn’t just the rocker dropouts anymore, it was the football players doing it and dying, as well as the rocker dropouts. But the fact that the ace football players were getting into it, everyone was like, “oh my god, this is horrible problem.”
Plano was a big deal with the Early Lines. We were really proud that we were from Plano because it was a SHITTY town. And I hate bands who cling to the next biggest town. We’re not from Dallas. We’re from Plano. We’re hardly ever even in Dallas.

Math: Are you a very mathematically inclined person?
I suck at math. I suck at math so bad that I was in the Math of Money program in highschool, which is a course that means, “oh, you’re a senior and you still haven’t learned geometry. We’re going to put you in this class so you can graduate and balance your check book.”

Or work a cash register. (laughter) Your shit verges on math rockish at times. It’s almost like your silences are very well calculated, invisible equasations.
So, okay the record, Who Are Your Customers? is about your emotional experience with a certain young lady. Are you over this now? Are there still songs about this left over? Or have you progressed onto other subjects in terms of your writing?
All the songs on the album are about me desperately trying to get this girl back. It’s a really desperate album. And now, the songs I am writing have to do with that, but it’s from a different point of you. And another thing, which is kind of embarrassing, I only have one new song that I play that isn’t on the album. I’ve been working on these other two songs for two months. I try them live every once in a while and always flub them. I’m running into some rhythm problems with the loops and I’m feeling limited by the amount of time on my loop station.

Has this at all specifically become about her, then?
It definitely BECAME a coping device, but it’s not about her. That whole thing just happened to coincide with the inception of this project and perhaps motivated me to delve into it very deeply. It influenced me, yes, but anything else going on in my life at the time would have, too. But, I’m not obsessed with something in particular anymore. I’m starting to think more about cool riffs, and thinking, “oh this works out really well musically.” I’m trying to think of creative guitar parts and I think it might be hurting the intensity that people were drawn to, since I’m not just yelling over really simple stuff. So, yeah pretty much I’m gonna go down hill. (laughs)

What was I was getting at was the major appeal of what you do is that everyone’s been where you’ve been. I mean, this record has become MY breakup record. There’s a great deal to be said for the emotional intensity of this effort.
Thats a disturbing breakup record. (pause) Even though this guy is a big influence on me, I don’t wanna be a Lou Barlow type character, where it’s like, “Oh yeah that’s THAT guy who’s always SINGIN’ OR YELLIN’ about SOME GIRL.”
But, this project is not about her specifically. It just so happened that this is what I was thinking about at the time. But then I had this friend tell me once that all true great songwriters write all their songs about one person their whole life. (laughter)
You’re currently in a very specific category. Youre a one-man band. And there’s a lot of that coming out of Chicago right now, with these shit heads doing similar things to what you’re doing now. Drum machines, and loops and crap like that. You have guys either doing the uber blues or that.
I probably shouldn’t go on record as saying this since I live in Austin, but I am totally sick of that: the uber-bluesy one-man band thing; the stomp box thing. Obviously, I’m one-man, and I’m making music that sounds like a band. And so I guess I’m a one man band, but I don’t feel a connection with that tradition. During SXSW, I played with a one-man band. He played keyboard and drum machine, and he was like, “awesome, youre a one man band, too. Us OMB’s gotta stick together!”
I have no allegiance to that at all. The reason Im doing a one-man band is because starting a band is an important thing to me and I wanna do it again, but I want it to be a really organic process.. I don’t wanna be like, “looking for a bassist that kicks ass!” you know?
“Lookin for a drummer who fuckin hits those skins!” (laughter)
I wanna meet someone I am really blown away by in terms of personality and music taste. And if they’re kind of good at instruments, good. I want it be this organic thing. When I did the DFD stuff, I was like, “I need to make music RIGHT. NOW.” It was a very immediate thing that needed to be fulfilled, and I didn’t want to slap some band together out of necessity. I am adding on an extension to what I do though, and the name, some people say it’s pretentious , but it’s supposed to be funny; a joke. Calling myself Daniel Francis Doyle is a joke by the way. I’m not trying to have a serious name brand. I wanted it to sound like some songwriter who takes himself too seriously.
That’s actually why I didn’t go see you at first! (Daniel laughs hard) “Daniel Francis Doyle – ONE MAN BAND” … and I was just, “oh god, not another one.”
That’s why I did it. It sounds like some really whimpy name, and then when you see me, I’m just up there screaming and making noise. But now I have this extension, and it’s called “Daniel Francis Doyle with Amanda jo Wolfson on Bass and Vocals.” I do the guitar loops and drums, and she plays bass and yells. We debut at a house party last night, and I loved that. I’ve been friends with her for a few years, and I’m blown away by this person as a friend. I wanted to be around with this person, so I taught her some bass lines, and she’s struggling with it! It’s awesome. I love working with her. I work with her at the restaurant and I would hear her shout out table numbers for the kitchen, and I was like, “man thats a great shout.” you just gotta do that in front of a mic. So she just belts it out and her face is turning red. Almost sounds like Lydia Lunch, but the beauty of it is that she doesn’t know who Lydia is. She doesnt know who Teenage Jesus and the Jerks are. And it’s great. I just tell her, “well just do this”, and I’m just thinking, “man she doesn’t know how great this is.” I never smile when I play, but when I play with her I’m just looking at her, smiling. She puts me in a good mood, and she’s just belting it out and her face is beat red. So in that respect, that’s kind of like a normal band. I’m real excited about that right now. Just something new to do to kind of deal with the fact that I’ve hit a brick wall with writing my own stuff with my own stuff. I mean, I’ve been working on two songs for two months. I wrote the entire LP in two months, and now it’s been over two months and I can’t complete these two songs. So, I think I’m gonna retire and just start a band. (laughs)

Well, it’s good to see youre not a maniac. When I first saw you, you were so meek and such a sweet person. It threw me when I saw what you did.
Well some people say I am crazy but then they say, “but thats what I like about you!”
What’s so crazy about you?
Just the fact that I get up in front of people and do what I do maybe? And at work especially I get really riled up about things. People will say, “you seem unbalanced”, “you let relationships effect you so much”, “but that’s what I love about you!”
Well one of the things I love about you, and it’s something I’ve been writing about a lot lately has to be how you demonstrate your emotions on stage. One of the things we’re discouraged from doing frequently is expressing how we really feel, particularly when it comes to anger. And people discourage you from doing anything other than smiling these days because it makes them uncomfortable. I can see how what you do could make some people nervous, and it’s good to see that. Indifference has become the new black, and I just don’t think that’s any way to live. There will be plenty of time for indifference when you’re dead and in the ground. Right now I think is the time to react with all of your heart. I respect that about you.
A lot of people are like that. I’m getting some flack for that. My friend Joey were drunk one night and yelling out lyrics to My War, and the next day we were talking about my music coming off as too melodramatic and me being uncomfortable about coming off some melodramatic guy who takes himself way too seriously. He was saying some of the lyrics to My War were ridiculous and over the top. And he asked if I felt they were too melodramatic, and I said, “no I love those lyrics.” And he said, “so long as you’re sincere about it, it’s not gonna come off as affected.”
So long as you’re not wearing a cape and people in black nail polish aren’t coming to your shows I think you’re okay.
On the last flier for Beerland that I did, I put “come see…” with the different headings for all the different artists, and I put for myself, “come see… the feedback and complaining of Daniel Francis Doyle.” I feel like I’m complaining the whole time. “Goddamnit! this and that, and blah blah and fuck that.”

Well, I think you have something to be upset about, and that’s okay. It’s okay to feel something other than the “safe emotions.” You use the word pretentious when you talk about what you’re trying to avoid, and I think a lot of people strive to be relevant, and I think a lot of people present an image of themselves as who they want to be. Not who they really are, and when you’re on stage you’re pretty naked. Warts and all, you know?
Well, the definition of pretentiousness is claiming to be something that you’re not.

And you definitely don’t do that. You’re pretty vulnerable on stage, I think that’s emotional. I think it’s a very strong and difficult thing to sit up there and do what you do. I think that’s an emotional thing. It evokes something in me because I realize what you’re doing and how hard that must be. You might as well be on a pillary wheel like the hunchback, letting villagers chuck tomatoes at you or something.
Another thing about my one-man band thing, is I talk too much between songs now because I have that microphone in front of my mouth with the headset. So any thought I have or mumble, is amplified through the PA, so I end up talking to the audience the whole time. “Oh, gettin’ up now”, “oh shit, lemme start that over.” I think it might even add to it, I dunno. But yeah. I’ve run out of things to talk about.

Special thanks to Dan Doyle for letting me write about him. Contact him here, be his friend, and buy his record.

ORDER OF THE SKULLENING

By Max Dropout

[audio:http://www.youbettershutupandlisten.com/mp3s/skullening_-_bugs_that_are_dead.mp3]

The fiasco of holiday lights emitted a seizure-inducing pattern of flashes; and by nauseating coincidence, all that blinking lined up in flawless tandem with the midi-Tejano arrangement pulsing from the PA located just over my shoulder. I fixated on this relationship for a few minutes, and it only made me want to haul tail back through the door I’d just staggered through. It was too late, though. A paralyzing venom distilled from alcohol and confusion had begun to drip into my kneecaps, and I collapsed against the padded bar behind me. And while the clownish terror around me gained in sickening momentum, I realized there were worse places for my body to abandon me. I clenched a five dollar bill in my hand, and waving it like a wand I summoned the fat senorita casting cheapo cervesa into the lashing tide of hipster haircuts and pearl snap shirts that lapped at her trench. She huffed, “Gracia’s, mijo” like only a real mama could and flashed gold capped teeth stained with blaring red lipstick as she handed me my change.

I nursed my lone star and sensation slowly seeped back into my lower extremities. I assumed a less vulnerable pose and continued to observe the glazed leathery man in the ten gallon hat, losing a battle to coordination. The little migrant man would drop a beat in his heat and fumble every other two step, and though I do not speak Spanish I could tell he had jumbled the words to whatever Mexi-pop jam he was struggling to keep up with via karaoke monitor; the merry brown mob he danced before would erupt with a bellowing laughter at every error, and it was all in infectiously good nature. The clamor only seemed to encourage even sloppier interpretation from the performer, whom, framed by that hazy web of Christmas lights, looked like some saint off the side of one those votive candles I regularly bought at Fiesta mart.

This joint had all the authentic atmosphere of a border town; I half expected Chuck Norris and Louis Gossett Jr. to walk in through the door at any moment and start tossing poor immigrants through windows, ala Firewalker. All the quaint, stereotypical detail oozing through the Red Scoot Inn induced a euphoric bewilderment all on its own, but systematic stream of waifish scenester rabble trailing in from the courtyard outside to pick the bar apart like ants breaking down carrion took it to a surreal level. Astral bodies were clashing, but instead of some end-all shattering collision, there seemed to be a peaceable merger between them. I was fully mobile now, so I grabbed another beer from the false batting eyelashes behind the bar and ventured out into the humidity with the exiting strand white kids.
Culture shock waited behind the swinging patio doors, poised like a beat-happy aluminum bat wielding thug, just waiting to pummel. In abrupt contrast, this crowd were all a head taller than the small, affable aboriginal folk inside, and a blaring rice paper pale… you could practically see their circulatory systems. They stood in geriatric poses, all hunched over and and weathered looking; they scrunched their faces up while choking back foreign swill, and with each little nip their faux-Euro intoned anecdotes swelled in volume. It was an art school graveyard, and these, the spectral waifs of failure wafted amongst each other in garish, dramatic fashion. I stung past the fish-eyed flirtations of the disaffected, swatting gaseous clouds of whore’s water from my nostrils and made way toward the stage in the corner of the yard. There I was greeted by my slight, obliterated friend, who’d drawn me from my home that evening with the urging that I check out this band who’d come down to play from San Antonio.

The prattling drunks flanked around had me second guessing my decision to drag myself out to this obscure corner of town until the four characters I’d been begged to come witness emerged from the crowd, assembling behind the set up in front of the stage. Immediately, my eye snags on the neon pink hoods fastened to their faces, all of which have been mutilated in a unique fashion to accommodate the specific member’s needs. The man who picks up the microphone has eye holes and a mouth piece cut from the clothe to scream through, while the others have merely forged openings through which to see. One member of the party sits perched behind an organ, with the hood merely draped over his skull, like a towel as he looms over the keys like a vulture. All were clad in black formal wear, and ornamented with blaring pink corsages. They looked like they’d crawled out of some old horror serial, as part of some collective of villainy bent on terror and world destruction; this brood looked more accustomed to lurking through gorilla infested mansions with rope-bound damsels slung over their shoulders than playing lame-ass ice cream socials like this.

A matter of seconds later, I learned that gloom can be overbearing, and even abrasive without being outright doomish as a mess of blast of keys assembled some strange, plodding melody. Its tone had same integrity as some old silent film print, replete with scratches and blemishes. Even with the more modern calamity of feedback, fuzzed out bass lines and staggering drum fills, this riot crossed the line between modern punk rock dive and the orchestral pit below the better number of Lon Chaney’s thousand faces with a veteran agility. And then came the odd tone from the man with the microphone, vibrating with anticipation. His pitch was difficult to actually suss out between the noise, which both embellished and canceled out certain tones. The show came to an abrupt start and the terrorists punctured the perfunctory gaze of the audience. It took little to provoke reaction in the drunken crowd who surged forward, forcing the organist to clamp his instrument down with his free hand. Pushing and shoving ensued as the hooded conductor gouged the audience with sputtering and hollering, which soon attracted a series of alien spectators toward the front. Several UT frat boys pushed their way toward the stage to flex their muscles and shove other kids around, in some sad attempt to provoke conflict; frontman, Leonard grabbed one of their burnt orange Long Horn ball caps, and tossed it toward the other end of the crowd. Seconds later, a skinny white fist swung the cap as someone else lit it a’flame. The fiery accessory was then flung back in the direction of the intruders who quickly disappeared to the back of the court yard, coddling each other.

More pushing, more shoving, more noise, noise, noise… all these components acted as that county fair goody contraption kneading and stretching out time like a hunk of laughy taffy. What was a mere 20 minutes seemed more like hour in amongst the blender of fists, foreheads, tits, and hips, and by the time the Skullening reached their shambolic climax, their hoods had been rended from them by the audience… my initial assessment that surely this was some concoction that had emerged from the part of hell located directly beneath Berlin was smashed to bits. They were quite human.

Closer to two years have passed, and the band have gone through a handful of changes, many of which emanated from the departure of their original organist, Dan, who was expelled after a brawl broke out on stage between he and frontman, Leonard. Ryan, one of the band’s founding members, resurfaced once again behind the keys, and with his classical training brought an entirely different pacing to the operation. Beyond the aesthetic changes, which include an new, less harmless imagery which flagrantly contradicts the Skullening moniker, the band have also gotten much speedier over the last year, while much of the gloomy atmosphere has been expelled from the general atmosphere of their performances and songs. Gone now is the confrontation and ominous bleating behind their horror show anthems, though they remain compelling nevertheless.

Scott Jennings is quiet, brooding in a contemplative way, and of the sort of physical stature that might prevent you from approaching him in any other sort of manner than delicate. Behind the facade of the hulking thinker is an affable, awkward guy with a caustic sense of self appraisal that can make you sad to observe if you’re fond of him. He is the bizarro maestro behind Skullening itself. While most consider the functionality of a drummer within the creative ranks of a band to be real “second unit” kind of stuff, Scott is Skullening’s principle songwriter. As comfortable as he may be with his percussive duties, it seems his role may have been determined merely by circumstance. He’s just one of those guys who can do a little bit of everything to some degree of effectiveness and with little effort achieves more than most people who might be entirely dedicated to their respective field.

Scott took some time to answer some questions while struggling with Summer plans for the band. Whether or not they’ll pop up in your town remains up in the air at the moment. Regardless, they’re worth seeking out if they pop up in your neck of the woods.

Your name, sound, and even imagery have always been pretty evocative. Where did the name itself come from? What does it mean?
The name means absolutely nothing at all. We went through a bunch of names in the earliest days of the band, from Blonde Ambition to the Coffin Bangers, as well as a bunch of different names that never even made it to a live performance like Cunt Rockula and Grotesques. The name Skullening was actually a song title for over a year. At the time, we were going by Blonde Ambition, and we just didn’t wanna call ourselves that anymore, so we were like yea, “Skullening seems to confuse people… lets use it!” Plus, it’s not any sort of reference. We coined it. If you search the name, the only stuff that comes up is about us.

Your early lineup had guitar, which you ditched for just the bass and organ. And strangely enough, the guitar stuff I heard was way more sludgy, whereas now, you guys have a really light, frenetic sound. What inspired the shift from guitar to organ?
Well, Dan’s guitar playing lent itself to that doomish sludgy sound cause of his playing style. The organ was floating around from the beginning. There were certain songs that Dan would play organ on that we never did live, but we would practice them. He had a bunch of Electric pianos and stuff, and eventually we realize that using the organ really set off the songs and made us sound different from anything else going on.

The fact that you have no guitar kind of throws people off though. A lot of people kind of react negatively at first, which is funny because you’re playing a style of music that got famous for defying convention. Any drawbacks to the lack of guitar in terms of either the art itself or just people’s attitudes?
Not at all, if they don’t understand it, we don’t care. The organ ends up sounding a lot like a guitar in certain ways because of the distortion we throw on it. It’s not like it handicaps or confines us. And when I think of reasons people probably don’t like the band, the organ is on the bottom of my list, actually.

Well if organ is on the bottom of the list for reasons people hate your band, then what are the reasons at the top?
Well, the cover story about us in the Austin Chronicle got us as much negative attention as it did positive, especially within our peer group. It was great to have that coverage, but at the same time everyone was watching our every move for the next few months afterword. We’d have one sloppy show and everyone would be like, “what’s all the fuss about?” I don’t regret it at all, but people get petty and jealous over stupid stuff like that.

Yeah, trust me, you weren’t the only one who got shit for that. People STILL whine about that article. These assholes get pissed off when you’re not backing their horse.
That’s stupid. But back to the organ for a second, I guess it’s not really a traditional punk instrument. And the distortion and volume of it isn’t really garagey either. It falls somewhere in between both of those genres. We get a smattering of people from both of those crowds, but it also alienates the traditionalist type fans who are into generic, by?numbers stuff. I guess the way we present that element of the band is kind of confusing to them, but it makes people have to really listen and make a decision about what’s going on.

The organ tone is fantastic, and stylistically, it’s like something oozing out of an old silent film theater. What influenced the style? I can’t compare it to any other punk band’s keys ? It’s really archaic sounding.
In the first line up, that could be explained by the fact that Dan was obsessed with anything from the ’20s, including silent films and theater actually. He was more into music and art from that era than anything punk rock. Ryan on the other hand is very talented and also into tons of older types of music, so he was able to take some of what we started with and make it his own.

So, is Dan’s departure why the Spookiness kind of left? Did he take the ghosts with him?
Well, it wasn’t like Dan was the total instigator of all that. We all shared similar interests and I wouldn’t even say Dan cared about that element of the band particularly. I can’t speak for him; I won’t even try.

Now, when I first saw you guys, you had those hoods and the black formal wear, which really went along with your sound. Was it the look that came first, or the sound? And how did one influence the other?
The sound came first, we played like less than five shows without uniforms, but the songs were the same. We just decided one day that we wanted to dress like a gang, and for over a year we were wearing all black and had matching armbands, which freaked out more people than the hoods ever did. We would show up at some of our first shows in uniform and keep them on all night, where as now we usually just change before we play. The main reason we kept doing it is because the first time we tried it, we were playing this shitty dive bar in San Antonio that isn’t even there anymore and it was like we started playing and we had the uniforms on and a switch flipped. We had a lot more energy and confidence, it was like we were acting as one being. From then on it was never a question of if we should wear them or not.

Your new stuff is definitely a lot less brooding. It has a more chaotic, modern sound… like Nintendo on meth. Even your imagery is a lot more artsy and fun these days. Why did you diverge from the melancholy stuff, and the overt menace of the hoods? You guys used to make people nervous. I miss that.
It has to do with a few conscious decisions we made after Dan left the band. We seriously considered changing the name, but it was the worst possible time to do that because of the sudden surge of interest in us (Chronicle article and playing more in Austin or whatever). Basically, we felt the “scariness” was kinda played out. I mean our fucking name was Skullening, and coming from San Antonio, which is like the metal capitol of Texas, it’s easy to get dismissed really quickly just because of our name. So we decided to make it more lighthearted, more cartoony, but keep the name so it just disoriented people in a way. We stopped wearing black all the time after Dan left; for our first show with Ryan we switched to all white… it was kinda like a rebirth. The horror stuff and imagery just seemed kinda dumb, and the new uniforms still keep us somewhat of a mystery, but its not so confrontational. It’s funnier to have tough songs and attitude but wear stuff that gets us called fags.

How do you classify what you do, if at all?
Its always been really important for us to be just a good, loud rock band. We don’t really want to be stuck in any genre. Of course there are certain bands we like that we would prefer to be associated with, like people with open minds who are offended by cliche punk rock, and who get what we are doing. But it’s fun to be liked by classic style garage bands and hardcore kids and artsy kids doing the whole keyboard revival thing.

Explain how the San Antonio scene works. What are the shows and the kids like? Do you guys do well there? And also, who do you guys play with? Who are your contemporaries? Or anyone worth mentioning for that matter.
The San Antonio scene is extremely tricky, but can be fun if you do things for yourself. You can’t rely on clubs to do anything for you, and the ones in San Antonio are especially bad about money and creating good bills or giving bands chances that aren’t in the vein of whatever’s popular at the moment. Of course there was Tacoland, where we played our first show and many shows over the next few years up until about a month before Ram was killed. Tacoland was about the only place San Antonio had to offer as an alternative venue that was worth a shit. Ram was always fair to us and gave us chances when no one else would. Now, as far as venues go it’s fairly dead, there were about two spaces open for the last year that had shows that could be fun and were all ages, but both were plagued by noise complaints and general financial problems. There is a new record store there called 180 Grams that is having in-stores and the owner is really supportive of whats going on around town. He also tries to bring national acts down when he can. As far as bands, our main allies would be Animals of the Bible and the Spark, both of whom are great bands. AOTB has made a name for themselves really. Their new stuff is really great, taking rhythm to another level and trying out percussion stuff that not really any other bands are trying right now. The Spark have played out of town less, but their list of shows in San Antonio over the last eight or so years is impressive. They have played with tons of touring acts and they gave us our first chance when we were starting. We begged a lot of bands for shows who we admired, but the Spark were the only ones to come through for us. It also helps that they are the two nicest guys ever. Coincidentally, we share a practice space with both of these bands now.

Tell me about Dan’s departure and Ryan’s return. And why Ryan left to begin with.
The main reason Dan left is still a mystery. It was getting harder for us to play with him because of things he had going on in his life. I’m not going to go into scandalous detail. We just grew apart musically and socially. One of the hugest reasons was he wasn’t interested in touring and even playing out of town was difficult for us at that time. Ryan was in the band during the transition of guitar to organ, and was also the singer when the band existed in a skeletal form while we were in high school. He didn’t play with us on guitar for long because he was busy with school and other things, so it was the obvious choice to bring him back into the fold, really.

You were the primary writer of the band’s material for a long time, which is interesting considering that you’re also the band’s drummer. A few questions here:
? Why did you choose to play drums within the ranks of the band?
? Has your role as the main contributor at all lessened over the years? Is anyone else putting anything forward?
In high school drums interested me, but I didn’t know how to play. I never took lessons and I played bass mainly. We quickly figured out that most drummers are fucking retarded, so I just started banging around on this kit made of trashcans basically and taught myself how to play. It was mainly out of necessity.
As for the songs, for a while I had written most of the stuff, and we were just playing them cause we were kinda lazy and no one else was bringing stuff. Now, it’s completely different. Ryan is the main song writer, and I only have a couple in the set. Ryan writes tons of songs; he has so many we can’t even realistically play them all. It’s really nice to be able to pick and choose. We all contribute now though, so its become a lot more fun.

Technology has really changed things for bands, in terms of making it easier to be seen or heard, and also reaching a very broad audience with less effort than it used to take. As a result, we have way more bands out there, and a lot of them aren’t even very good. Just about anybody can make a record now. I think one of the pitfalls has also been that it makes bands lazy, or more complacent. What are your feelings on technology and its pitfalls for bands like yours?
In a sense, it IS great. You have something like myspace, where you have whole communities of very like-minded people gathering who might otherwise never meet, and it’s made it really easy to share information, too. It’s made it a lot easier to reach a specific kind of person; word-of-mouth is eighty to a hundred times faster now than it was maybe twenty years ago. I mean, I’m sure it does make people lazy, though. Lately, I see no point in fliering our town when I know the same set of friends are going to log onto their computer at least once a day. It’s definitely made it cheaper and easier to set up tours and promote out of town, but it’s probably hurt the whole DIY culture too, significantly. There’s way less zines and art being produced.

Yeah, definitely. Which is odd, because it’s easier than ever to lay something out. Anyway… in terms of success: it’s a pretty bleak probability that bands that make music as edgey or raw as yours will see a big pay day or the embrace of some major label deal. There was a chance say twenty or so years ago that when you turned on the radio you’d still hear SST shit in a city like LA. Years ago, you might find bands like yours on “left of the dial.” Today, you can’t even be reached via the dial, really. Clear channel has made that an improbability, and satellite radio isn’t all that accessible yet. Success in terms of mainstream definitions of what success is, is a pretty bleak prospect for a lot of bands like yours, and consequently, I think it’s made what I call punk music much darker, more edgey, and much more nihilistic. At the same time, the audience is kind of shrinking. What do you think of this, and what do you consider success for your band? And also, how do you see underground music on an international level changing within the next few years? For better or worse?
Knowing that we will probably never be popular outside of a cult realm lets us be really irresponsible, because popular opinion doesn’t touch us, and probably can’t stand us. We have no one to please but ourselves, though. I mean, I think there are a lot more chances being taken now by bands all over the world because there’s no fucking hope of achieving even a minor mainstream success. There’s always been a desire for an alternative… alternative isn’t very alternative anymore anyway. I like that we’re not dependent on an audience or a label. We have a lot more freedom to fuck up in our own special way, and some people, the people who are sick of all the conformist mall culture crap, will naturally love it for whatever reason, which may not even be genuine. It may just be that they dig it because it’s the antithesis of what they’re selling at Hot Topic. But who cares? We’re sticking it to them somehow at least. We’ll take what we can get and some people along the way are bound to just genuinely love what we do. Besides, even if crowds are smaller, I don’t think it’s going to ever be any less fun for some of us.

BACK TO THE PISS CAVE, WITH BLACK FLAG

By Melanie Rogers

[audio:http://www.youbettershutupandlisten.com/mp3s/black_flag_-_no_more.mp3]

It’s an every day thing. Gravity puts its invisible lead boot down on the top of my skull and grinds me down into the primordial gruel I seeped up from; and gradually, I will be comminuted to a similar pap, too. My existence is the hum drum pinnacle of tedium. My life has turned into a sort of perpetual yawn, with its jaws locked, aching, and engorged with the ruddy glow of hope that its very own hinges will snap fatefully. I wake up at 6:50 every day, and I see the gaping mouth hovering over the tangle of bed spread and leg muscle, like that giant motherfucking head from Zardoz. But my god doesn’t spew guns and dick jokes. Instead, from those lips curls a spiraling fog of mundanity. I ooze off my mattress, play with my turn table, and slather myself in dirty laundry. At around three, I return from class to my animal den, where I simmer in the stale stink of my own sleep and pity. Then the head rears again and tells me to go to work. I hunker into my jew oven on wheels, and grudgingly barrel toward minimum wage at the local supermarket. The second my finger punches in the necessary identification numbers, I become completely anesthetized. The only thing charging through my wits is the hiss and crackle of silence. My brain curls and sputters like a strip of pig skin on the surface of my second nature. Continue reading