2022: AGAINST THE PRESS CYCLE, AGAINST THE RELEASE CYCLE, WE STAND UNCOMPROMISING IN THE SERVICE OF AUTHENTIC ENGAGEMENT WITH MEDIA
End of Year Exploration of the List Form as Interruption + some select cuts from my interview with Cleveland experimental rock pioneer David Thomas (Rocket From the Tombs, Pere Ubu) + 2023 prep ideas
Hello! Usually, I refuse to do these or make any contributions to them for other publications, but I’ve decided to have some fun. The best thing about this EOY list is that no one is paying me for it; as a result, it contains zero items I included to please someone else or because they expected me to and zero things exhausted salaried editors decided were important and asked me to write about, which I may or may not have actually cared about or found interesting, for a little side money. I have not listened to every album released in 2022 and I’m never going to, so I also haven’t included things just to be comprehensive or to prove that I paid attention to more new music than anyone else or meet particular quotas of representational politics, etc. (Everyone else has already attempted this, anyway.) There’s probably a lot of albums released this year which haven’t gripped me yet, but could have a big impact on me in the future, when I finally am able to receive them—something that says nothing about the value or importance of the music, and everything about what I most need to hear at any given moment.
I’m on the journey of listening. This is a list of things I found valuable this year, focused on things I felt were neglected by: the constant, depressing acceleration of the press cycle and its need to book content many months out; the focus on new media which serves capitalism more than meaningful engagement; the ridiculous idea that we have to make end of year ‘best of’ lists, though it is a deeply tired and largely harmful/useless form; the ridiculous idea that we are fundamentally limited by what has already happened and what exists now. Here it is: a rupture, an opening.
BEST NEW RELEASES
If you know me at all, you know that I think the best and most interesting way to understand and connect to music is through how it impacts our consciousness and soundtracks our lives as we live them and how we share our lives and connect with one another. For this reason, the best releases of 2022 were every seasonal mixtape I made to document that season of my life and share it with others , accompanied by a comprehensive write-up about its generation and its meanings.
Winter 2022//recorded syntax for Marc Masters
Spring 2022//the sputtering chariot of the vernal equinox for Dash Lewis
Summer 2022//thief of fire for Lindsey Loberg
Fall 2022//no autumn leaves for David Menestres —> if you only read/listen to one, make it this one…it’s my greatest work yet!
In addition to these four seasonal mixtapes, I also made thirty tapes for people through my new Mercury Retrograde Sanity Mixtape Series, where I put a day’s worth of emotions, vibes, and creative impulses into one-take tapes for people who request them. (It’s also become an important experimental territory in my seasonal mixtape craft and many of these tapes are now studies for those more focused tapes.) I am about to make sixteen more between next week and the middle of February. Please let me know if you want in the next round; I’m very committed to the journey of listening and sharing music directly with one another is an integral feature of its path.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Horse Lords, Comradely Objects (RVNG Intl.)
I believe the album of the year should be the album which we needed the most, and in 2022, I believe what we most needed was for someone to make chaos meditative. My personal favorite “best of” category each year is “Best Revolutionary Ambulance Music,” and this definitely takes that category. I went through an absolutely horrible period of rage and anxiety with my complex PTSD around the time this advance was sent my way in early August. All I listened to for weeks during business hours was this album on repeat, which absolutely enabled me to stay with—and occasionally transcend—constantly increasing uncertainty and despair. Horse Lords have been a favorite for years, but this is certainly their most potent and calculated work so far. It’s the new, instrumental leftist intellectual music of the now, and I’m looking forward to its continued development alongside the constantly unfurling catastrophe of contemporary life.
BEST NEW DJ SET
Admittedly, I spend most of my dance music listening time studying the same two ‘90s rave tapes I’ve been obsessed with for almost a decade or listening to the same two Carlos Souffront sets from many years ago like they are epic albums, but the recently released Kiernan Laveaux set from the Honcho Campout has been getting a lot of rotation in my world. It’s the Cleveland Goddess Shit no one ever warned you about, but that you desperately need. Witnessing Laveaux really come into her power is delightful to behold and to listen to.
AGAINST THE PRESS CYCLE
Albums released in the last quarter of 2022, which did not receive the amount of appreciation and attention I felt they deserved. It consists largely of more experimental releases, which it is generally harder to get coverage for outside of assigned columns devoted specifically to experimental music. I have not included any new releases or reissues I already published writing about. Find that here or in various editions of Tape Label Report.
Webb Crawford, Joiners (Tripticks Tapes)
Webb Crawford is an improviser, woodworker, and instrument builder. I’m not really a guitar person? As a singer and drummer, I’m very focused on rhythms and vocals; this has made it unlikely for me to get into solo guitar albums until recently. I think I’m finally getting more into guitars, though. Joiners may be my favorite solo guitar album I have heard so far. It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever heard. The title comes from the art of joining different pieces of wood to build instruments, but it functions doubly to describe the way Crawford ‘joins’ different genres in their playing, combining free, improvised approaches with Piedmont-style fingerpicking and more percussive, noisy stuff…which is probably why I dig it so much!
Burning Plastic Blues Band, Peculiar Refractions in the Fullness of Time (unifactor)
Burning Plastic Blues Band is a new direction for Cleveland’s Noah Depew, whose name can usually be located on noise flyers with a parenthetical description like “miserable shit from Cleveland.” When I went to see him play at a noise show on the very rowdy far west side of Chicago on Mexican Independence Day, he warned me outside the venue that it wasn’t going to be as “pretty.” To the extent that Horse Lords helped me survive my work in the daytime in August, this tape soothed my nights…many of which were spent listening to this max vol in the bath tub with a mask over my eyes. This whole tape feels like a guided meditation, down to the titles like “Compulsion,” “Acceptance,” and “Avenue of Peace.” My favorite part is when it sounds like a police siren is drowning at the end of “Splinter Cycle,” which appears on my fall mixtape.
Matt Christensen & P.M. Tummala, Yellow Works (Monastral)
Matt Christensen is the principal voice and guitar player of Zelienople, who is also a very prolific solo artist—something you can read more about below. P.M. Tummala runs the budding Monastral imprint with Mike Weis, who I wrote a Lifetime Achievement on this year, but he also makes his own gorgeous solo work. Considering that I also wrote a feature on Rocio Zavala and highlighted an album Allen Moore contributes to more than once in discussing other Chicago musical happenings, it just ended up being “too much” coverage for a small, emerging label, I guess. So, I wanted to draw your attention to this one here. It’s gorgeous and exploratory and will imbue all moving around the world with an air of beauty and curiosity and patience. I never get bored of it, but it doesn’t arrest me and make me stay longer than is really serving me, either. It’s generous, perhaps, but undemanding. Give it a whirl if you’d like.
Tamarisk, Plays a Word For Sun (Waveform Alphabet)
Tamarisk is a new collaboration of three extraordinarily skillful musicians and courageous improvisers: Christina Carter (Charalambides), Andrew Weathers, and David Menestres. This is the first release on Menestres’ new imprint, Waveform Alphabet. Give it a follow; they’re doing fascinating things and there is more from Tamarisk on the other side of the holidays. This is a longform piece which requires attention and focus: I recommend headphones and also imagining it in the live, unplanned context in which it was recorded. That’s all I can say about it right now, because I’m still listening and gathering.
AGAINST THE RELEASE CYCLE
Albums not released in 2022, which nonetheless made a big impression, helped me survive, or assisted me in making meaning from experience.
Helium, The Dirt of Luck (Matador)
Yeah, I’m still catching up with Mary Timony, okay? She started revolutionizing music and clarifying herself as an important sonic oracle of sorts when I was literally in preschool, so give my little baby ass a break. Since she’s never been willing to be a personality—the way that Kathleen Hanna and Carrie Brownstein have been willing to be personalities—it’s taken a lot more work and research and engagement to get to her rich and rewarding oeuvre—something which is really a shame. But it’s the fact that Mary Timony has always kind of done her own thing, been ahead of the curve, and not been interested in bullshit that makes me love her and her music so much. Dirt of Luck is the first Helium album. I’ve been getting into them super out of order. I listened to this so much in the summer into early fall, which is the perfect time to listen to this album. I bought a used copy on Discogs, which came with the originally issued pink balloon which reads: Dirt of Luck.
Built to Spill, Ultimate Alternative Wavers (C/Z Records)
I do this thing with albums when I love them: I just listen to them over and over again, forever. For whatever reason—possibly because I never really was into music journalism or having an encyclopedic knowledge of music—it just didn’t occur to me that if I loved one album by a band, that I should immediately find other albums they had made to love, too. For this reason, I’ve still listened to the same Halo Benders album exclusively, since I was a teenager. I also spent most of the last two decades of summers listening to the album Perfect From Now On by Built Spill, which I thought was their best, because I tried to listen to other albums by them and gave up because they didn’t hit me as perfectly or as powerfully—until I went all the way to the beginning, something I absolutely never would have done if Tracy Wilson (Dahlia Seed) hadn’t told me that this one Dahlia Seed song was them trying to be Treepeople, which inadvertently brought Treepeople to my attention. I had never listened to them. Guilt, Regret, and Embarassment became a major jammer last summer, and I started dipping into Ultimate Alternative Wavers by becoming obsessed with “Built Too Long, Parts 1, 2, and 3” and listening to it on a loop for a day or two when nothing else would do. Then, this summer, it replaced Perfect From Now On’s usual role in my seasonal vibe. It’s my new favorite. Like the Helium record, it’s a work of specifically youthful genius. I think these kind of albums have a really special energy that has resonated a lot for me this year. It’s the birth of Built to Spill as a concept and as the ultimate summer music. It’s the new-old best. It doesn’t age.
The Entire Zapp Discography
My life has been unrelentingly stressful, uncertain, and exhausting recently, and if I didn’t start most days with a little weed and some Zapp, I have no idea how I would maintain, speaking honestly. They bring me so much joy every day. I feel like plenty of people have heard the big hits like “More Bounce to the Ounce” or “Computer Love,” but have you heard their cover of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine?” I’ve been listening to their greatest hits on YouTube so much, that the algorithm has begun to perceive me as a middle-aged Black person. My current favorite is “In the Mix.” I just bought near mint copies of Zapp I-III on Discogs as an end of the year gift to myself, because this music is eternally transcendent and I need it in my life every day and without commercials.
Feelies, Crazy Rhythms (Stiff)
I never got into the Feelies. It’s not intentional or personal—it happens all the time. There just was never an opening? My friend, Aoife, gave me a used Feelies tape when I took her out for her birthday in the late spring, but these old tapes on indie labels have not aged well—it was unlistenable. But then, Anton Fier’s death was announced basically the same day my Lifetime Achievement article on David Thomas was finally published. I had been working on it for months, kind of laying out the basic structure for the book I intend to write on how Northeast Ohio modernized rock music. Anton Fier was an important person to talk to for this book, but he also wanted to be the one who didn’t write a book from the whole Downtown NYC scene he became part of. In any case, his death is what finally got me really into this album, and now “Forces at Work” is the theme song of my book research. In his obituary in the New York Times, they mentioned the Feelies were looking for someone who could drum like Moe Tucker and Fier was the only person who auditioned who had any idea who she was. I’ll never be surprised that in a gaggle of musicians living in NYC and NJ, it was the Clevelander who had paid the most attention to the Velvet Underground; Cleveland always loved them more than their actual hometown. Beyond that, Anton Fier was a definitive head, who bought and sold more albums in the cutting edge Cleveland record shops of the ‘70s than anyone—something that made a large impact on music culture at a crucial time. May he rest in power and rage in peace.
The Entire Tripod Jimmie Discography and Unreleased Tom Herman Solo Album from 1979
A big revelation this year has been what an incredible songwriter and guitarist Tom Herman (Pere Ubu, Tripod Jimmie) is. I feel like he didn’t get to shine enough in Ubu, which is probably why he left after New Picnic Time (1979) and made this incredible solo album, which has still never been released, despite being one of the most remarkable albums I have ever heard, because the world is an extremely senseless, cruel, and unjust place. The word is that Exit Stencil, who have done some regional reissues for other great Northeast Ohio bands like 15-60-75 (The Numbers Band), are going to FINALLY ISSUE IT AT ALL, FOR THE FIRST TIME, but what’s the deal? What are they waiting for? Tom Herman is 73 and everyone I have gotten to listen to this record is astounded by it. Everyone needs to listen to the absolute monster disco noise guitar solo in “Love is a Shadow” immediately.
Then, Herman joined forces with Lake Erie Bass Monster, Lenny Bove, in Tripod Jimmie, who are definitely one of my favorite bands of all time now. I’m in the Tripod Jimmie season of my life. Herman has said that during this project, he was thinking a lot about what music would sound like if you gave aliens all of the information about r&b, but didn’t let them actually hear any. ‘Interpretive alien r&b’ is my new favorite genre. They moved to LA in the early eighties when they began and I have to imagine it was either to get out of the professional dead-end for truly creative musicians in Cleveland or to be closer to the other most forward-thinking band of the early eighties: the Minutemen. Herman said he will talk to me for my book, so if you stay tuned, I will try to unshroud this mystery. In the meantime, please give lots of attention to Long Walk Off a Short Pier and A Warning to All Strangers.
Nathan McLaughlin, Stoner Lake in G (Full Spectrum)
This album was released just after my profile of Full Spectrum last year, so I didn’t get to include it! The label sent me a thank you note for my work on the article with a copy of this tape, which is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen and heard. This is a rare longform zoner that I have returned to again and again since its release. One of my goals for 2022 was to listen to this while floating on water under a delightful influence of THC, and I’m not going to let any failed romances get in the way of this dream in the new year. This one always increases my ability to pay more attention to and appreciate the world around me when I am listening, so it seems like something everyone would greatly benefit from turning on and up.
Rachel Langlais, Dothe (unjenesaisquoi)
Rachel Langlais is a French piano tuner who applies John Cage-style prepared piano techniques to two upright pianos on this endeavor, which she released last year. It’s experimental minimalism, thematically influenced by concepts from Ursula K. LeGuin novels. I wrote this haiku review of this album, which still feels like the best summation of why I keep coming back to it:
drive me so far, wide, with might--
Bowery Electric, Beat (kranky)
I had never heard this album until I read Bruce Adams’ new book about co-founding kranky and the “reinvention of indie music” and interviewed him about it for this article. I probably listened to this album on a loop for the better part of two weeks. My friend was surprised I like this, since I don’t like a lot of things that fall into the “shoegaze” zone, but I think this falls in enough other zones I dig, that it’s not a deterrent for me (like my Swirlies). I love the really rhythmic side of the kranky catalog…another favorite being Jessamine. I dropped this at exactly the right time when Detroit Rave Legend Sarah Vidosh and I were driving back to Chicago at dawn from a night of dancing, laughing, and talking in Madison, Wisconsin. We were both too tired to be very talkative, but eventually Sarah brought the whole excursion full circle, referencing the “techno rock” shirt she had given me many years ago that I wore out that night into morning with her.
“This….is….TECHNO….ROCK!” -Sarah Vidosh, OG Techno Rocker
BEST MUSIC SUBSCRIPTION
Matt Christensen’s Bandcamp community subscription costs $12/year currently. In exchange, you get access to all of the music he has ever made (???), which is an incredible amount, because he is extremely prolific. Just this year, he released 28 new solo albums. I once told Matt if I do a Lifetime Achievement article on him, he has to pick out what he thinks his greatest work is, because there’s absolutely no way I will ever get through all of it at this rate. In any case, he regularly releases beautiful albums I love, most recently October 2022 and The Spent Sky. Music is obviously a kind of therapy for Matt and the music he makes is certainly a kind of therapy for me, as well. It comes highly recommended.
BEST NEW BOOK
Hilary Plum, Hole Studies (Fonograf Editions)
Hilary Plum teaches fiction, nonfiction, editing, and publishing at Cleveland State University. I discovered this book through Sara Jaffe, my new favorite book recommendations provider, and somehow I just knew that despite my ongoing struggle to focus on reading at all ever in my 30s, that I would devour this in a single day—which I did. (Something I’m very grateful for, since the book I am trying to write very much requires me to read lots of other books.) I’ve also gone on to buy many copies for the people I care about who I feel will appreciate it for the Solstice and to convince many others it is very worthy of their time and attention.
What I love about this book is how endlessly generative it is; the whole idea of “hole studies” is the opening, the moment of rupture, the creation of new forms. I’m driven to share it with anyone I’ve ever been passionate about thinking and writing with. I don’t know if I’ve encountered someone really integrating form so thoroughly with content since I discovered Carole Maso’s Break Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing, and Moments of Desire through Anne Frances Wysocki’s class on Animated Writing when I was in college. (It remains in my top two favorite books about writing, alongside Coming to Writing and Other Essays by Hélène Cixous.) I wrote to Anne (who is retired now) and told her to read this book and to read Plum’s latest article in the Cleveland Review of Books, featuring an animated (!!!) squiggle which reads “all the failures of form leave us even more desperate for form.” I just found out today that I am going to be reviewing this formally for Cleveland Review of Books, who just launched a print edition this week, so please look forward to a more extended dive into why I love this book so much in the #1 publication I wanted to do some writing for in 2023 very soon. The Cleveland Renaissance is lit, fam.
BEST GENEROUS INTERVIEW WITH A NOTORIOUSLY “DIFFICULT” ROCK LEGEND
The coolest and most nerve-wrecking thing I did in 2022 was interview David Thomas for this Lifetime Achievement article, which was also the jumping off point for the book I am writing about how Northeast Ohio modernized rock music in the late ‘60s and ‘70s. Rather than share the full text of the interview, which is long and riddled with Zoom connectivity issues that resulted in a loss of flow, I’ve opted to share some choice bits as evidence that I interviewed David Thomas and (!!!) he actually enjoyed it and the article on his life’s work I crafted from it.
EMD: Okay, so people think of, I guess, Cleveland and Akron as kind of like…uneducated factory towns, but in the ‘70s and ‘80s, they produced a lot of the most pioneering art–
DT interrupts: And so, okay, listen, Cleveland… Cleveland and Akron are in no way linked, by the way. Akron is..is like… it's like Lower Slobbovia, you know? Akron is, you know… everybody's got somebody to look down on. We got Akron to look down on, you know, in the early ‘70s. You know, back when I was doing music journalism, Cleveland was the most important rock and roll market in the country. You have no idea of the decadent rock and roll parties that were going on, the massive amounts of money that [were] spilling around in Cleveland, you know, in the rock and roll promotional realm of things. You know, Cleveland is where David Bowie broke; it's where Marc Bolan broke; it's where, you know, Roxy Music broke; it's, you know, it's just everything, you know…if you could break in, if you were gonna break in America, you broke in Cleveland. And if you broke in Cleveland, America was next. You know? Cleveland is the most educated—musically educated—city in the damn country. The music stores, specialized in everything, everything…every single record that was released in the world was released—was sold— in the Cleveland record stores.
All of the main Cleveland musicians worked for greater or lesser amounts in record stores—Anton Fier, who later became Herbie Hancock’s drummer for a while, was the greatest record store manager ever. His return rate was in the high 90s, which is an astonishing figure. You know, if you were into Soft Machine, or Amon Duul [II], or any obscure act from Peru, Germany, you know, wherever…your record was stocked in Cleveland. That was the nature of the town. That all sort of disappeared later, you know, as the nature of the media changed… by the end of the ‘70s, that was pretty much beginning to dissipate. But we…we had access to everything in the world. And we knew everything in the world. We heard everything in the world.
EMD: Yeah. Were you listening to krautrock and other rock music that was using synthesizers?
DT: No, no, I wasn't ever particularly fascinated with krautrock. You know, I was aware of synthesizer music from Beaver & Krause and Silver Apples and well, I mean… I knew Terry Riley. I don't remember how much Terry Riley was really into synthesizer music, but it was–it was very related, I mean, the concept of it was very clear, you know. So, it wasn't particularly krautrock. I was aware of various people doing things with it.
EMD: Yeah. Okay. Um, so, in the Ubu scrapbook I have, you referred to Johnny Dromette as a “junk conceptualist.” I'm very interested in how prevalent garbage and garbage collection, junk collection, is as a theme in music from that region.
DT: We understood the media, all the children growing up in Cleveland understood media far more, far more thoroughly than most other people in the country and including most people in the media, you know, and we were fascinated by junk TV, you know, those are the early days of UHF, the UHF channels are coming online at that point. And they had to fill these channels with something, you know, so they'd put on anything, you know, and we were fascinated with used car commercials and [Big Edston Chevy?] and on and on and on, you know.
Johnny built a life-size–well, they built a large scale version of the Hollywood Squares Tic-Tac-Toe grid in our living room. We would get up in the morning and drink two pots of coffee before we even, you know, before we even went through the day, started on the day…and then we would just drink coffee all day long and talk, and we had access to all sorts of weird little publications that were coming out. And we just went, you know, we absorbed it all and were fascinated with the crap, you know, because in the crap, there are secret messages, you know, we found…we found secret messages and that you could disguise the truth, disguise reality, disguise aspects of reality and translate them, you know, with this junk media.
And we were—we had no—you know, people in New York who, you know, would always go on about some damn French poet, you know—Rimbaud or somebody, you know—and it’s just bologna, you know? We were rock and roll musicians, you know, we were —we—you know, our culture was an island in the modern world with modern technology and modern media. And we understood it, we understood the damn media. Remember, we came up with the concept of “datapanik”— and early, you know, in the mid-70s—that totally can contextualize the development of culture in the media for the next 50 years. We knew what the hell we were doing, but we didn't talk about it in highfalutin art terms. You know, that was…that was really bogus, you know, talking about art, you know, was bogus, you know, we just—we translated it into a language, you know, that…that these art swills in New York couldn't ever understand, you know, because it was just used car commercials [laughs]. We would—it was like a foreign language. It was our language.
EMD: Yeah. Do you think that the music that you were making, and that was coming out of Cleveland, is more connected to America than what was coming out of New York?
DT: Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s Midwestern, you know, it's based on what we were picking up, you know, and we picked up everything. And it's fundamentally Midwestern, and highly influenced by Detroit, you know, because CKLW who was the big, big station, back then, you know, at the end of the ‘60s, early ‘70s coming out of Detroit, you know, and out of Cleveland, WIXY 1260, and some other stations, but see: CKLW was, you know, that was the heartbeat. And so, you know, as FM radio is beginning to develop—because you have to remember, at the same time, in the early 70s, that UHF channels were coming online, FM radio was beginning to explode. And all of the college stations in Cleveland had really brilliant, local little stations, you know—Case Western Reserve’s 10 Watt, you know, teeny little island of broadcast bandwidth, you know, but they covered the city, and they had brilliant, brilliant student DJs who would play endless, endless, you know—endlessly inventive music—and that was the sound we were getting. That was what was happening. You know, we were…you know, we were tuned in, you know? We knew what was going on; we could see the history of rock music unfold; we could see it moving towards us, you know; and we could see that it was now our time to take it up and move it forward, it was very clear—very, very, very clear that our place in history, and our obligation in history was to…was, you know, you know… we were very disdainful of the hippies!!! The hippies were—in the alternative culture—was just a joke, was the stinkin’ joke, you know, and, and, and—and it was our turn, it was our turn. And, you know, we were the right people at the right place at the right time. And we did it.
EMD: Yeah, you've mentioned before that the, like, industrial noise of Cleveland pointed the way to sonic innovation?
DT: Well, no, I mean, you have to understand that–okay, so we had all– we absorbed all this musical culture. And we began to, you know, and we were particularly interested in the sound of things like the Vel—also, you gotta remember, at the end of the ‘60s, Cleveland was the second home of the Velvet Underground, the Velvet Underground was the house band at a club in Cleveland for about a year in 1967. I think they played there forty…thirty to forty… times in that year, ‘67-’68, every week, you know, and all of the people of the Cleveland underground—not you know, a lot of the—with the two leading, leading…well, Jamie Klimek (The Mirrors) and Peter Laughner, they would sneak in at the Velvets, you know, and they would make bootleg tapes, and [the tapes] would circulate around in town. “Sweet Jane,” which was, number one, written about Jane Scott, who is the Cleveland teen beat writer. You know, we knew!!! The bands in Cleveland were playing “Sweet Jane” in 1971 so much that it was like a cliché, before anybody else in the country had ever heard the damn song, you know. So, we were in this environment, where we appreciated noise, abstract sound. And so, it wasn't a very far stretch to appreciate the abstract sound that the city itself was generating in the industrial Flats, you know, so we would drive down there and hear the same sounds coming up out of the land and the environment, as we heard in the Velvet Underground, or Beaver and Krause, or… or the Silver Apples, you know, on and on and on. MC5 you know, Sun Ra, you know, it was all, you know, it's all familiar. And that's this—in that it was all familiar—because that's part of the city was making that sound.
[This is why my book proposal is called Sounds Coming Out of the Land: How Northeast Ohio Modernized Rock Music.]
EMD: Thank you for going over all of that.
DT: Yeah. I hope I never have to do that again. It's good you got that, because I ain't doing that again, you know?
[EMD and David Thomas are both laughing together]
EMD, laughing: It’s quite a discography! It’s a lot. This is the longest discography I've ever written about.
DT: So well, albums, you know—I mean, if you think about the number, you know, we've—I've—there's more than 30 damn albums and this, you know, easily, you know, I mean, it's just, whatever, this is Pere Ubu: it's not like any other band that there's ever been, or that there ever will be. And it's just a shame that we've never been successful. You know, but maybe…maybe that's why. You know, I always wanted to be Jon Bon Jovi, that was my ideal person to be. I would have loved to have been in– if only I had been thin. You know, I mean, I'm kind of handsome, but I've always been overweight, you know? If I’d have only been thin and been able to sing, you know, without having to conceptualize the singing and invent new ways to sing. You know, if I'd had a natural voice, I would have done anything to be Jon Bon Jovi, you know–
EMD interrupts: Do you mean because of your synesthesia? Is that what you mean?
DT: Excu–excuse me?
EMD: Do you mean because of your synesthesia? I was, uh, I was watching an interview you did with Cherry Red–
DT: Well, that also has never helped anything, yeah, I don't– you know, I'm basically tone deaf. You know, I don't– but I never realized that I was tone deaf until sometime […] in the mid-90s. You know, I realized that, “oh, wait a minute: I'm tone deaf!” So, but…you know, how was I supposed to know that? You know?
DT: Yeah, I'd always heard, you know, I always dealt with sound the way that I deal with it, you know? So, and nobody senses anything–how do I know what you see? You know, or what you smell, or what you taste? I mean, you know, there's that famous, famous episode in The Matrix where the guy says, “maybe it all tastes like chicken.” [laughing] How do we know what chicken tastes like? You know? So, yeah, that's just the nature of reality.
EMD [getting too comfortable and forgetting the cardinal rules of interviewing David Thomas]: All right. Well, unless you have any final thoughts that you want to make sure I get in there….
DT: Oh, I never volunteer information—ever.
EMD: Okay. All right. Well, thank you so much for your time, both of you. [His manager was assisting our interview.]
[EMD and DT talk over each other a bit]
DT: Alright, well, thank you. And like I said, I hope nobody ever asks me to go through that disc–
EMD: Have a great day.
DT: Well, they can ask, but you’re the only one who’s ever gotten it, so make use of it.
EMD: Thank you. I appreciate it.
BEST THINGS TO DO RIGHT NOW TO PREPARE FOR 2023:
An admittedly extremely biased and short list of the most immediate steps one can take towards having a great new year.
Buy tickets to one of the three Black Eyes reunion shows happening on the east coast Easter weekend. It’s extremely unlikely anything this exciting will ever happen again. If you have never heard them, do not delay. Before I was granted this rare opportunity to see them for my 36th birthday, not seeing them when I was 16 was my biggest regret.
Follow Constellation Tatsu wherever you follow things, so you get the notification when the new Strategy tape drops in January. It’s dope.
Scat Records are back in the Land! I saw the official business license from the Ohio Secretary of State on the internet. There is an incredible run of ‘80s Cleveland reissues up for pre-order from My Dad is Dead and Spike in Vain. There are also only a few remaining official Spike in Vain t-shirts. What better shirt to wear on Christmas Day than a shirt which can remind everyone where Jesus was born? (In a mobile home.) In addition to all of this music being worth your time and attention, sales will help them get resituated in the Land and prepare for the Cleveland Renaissance, so make it happen!
If you’re around Chicago, go the Norman W. Long Calumet in Dub solo exhibition at the Glass Curtain Gallery, running through February 17th. In particular, check out the Artist Talk on January 31st or the closing reception and catalog release party (containing an essay by me) on February 16th, where Allen Moore and Aquarius Aquarius will combine electronics with voice and movement in a performance for the occasion.
I’ll still love you in 2023. (And I’ll still make you tapes.)
Yours in music,
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Looking at that Hilary Plum--may order for the shop! Thank you (and Sarah J) for the rec! Will have to check out the Carole Maso. Always a delight to read/link to what's up in your world! Congrats on your forthcoming article for Cleveland Review of Books as well--!
Subscribed to Matt Christensen’s Bandcamp sight-unseen based on your write-up here. What an amazing treasure trove of music. Thank you for all the recommendations and brilliant writing this year.