By Way of Introductions…

I’m Ian Graham, I make noises and play guitar in Lenorable.

I’ll be writing things here, and posting photos, and other things you do on blogs.

Today I’ll introduce you to my band and leave it at that.

Subject to Change: Interview with Alec MacKaye of The Faith

Like many, my introduction to The Faith was the legendary split with Void. Of course everyone today seems to talk about how amazing Void’s side is (and it is), but a few years ago I found myself playing The Faith side just as much. Songs like “You’re X’d” and “Face to Face” not only stand up with the best of DC Hardcore, but with Hardcore as a whole. When revisiting The Faith’s catalog one tends to forget how intense Alec MacKaye’s vocals were, which is what really set them apart from any of their HarDCore contemporaries. Instead of  just the normal brash screaming and pushing everything all in one verse, Alec had a way of making these minute blast songs almost melodic without compromising or losing any intensity.

This past week Dischord re-issued Subject to Change on vinyl (re mastered and with demos), we’ll have that review up tomorrow, for now here is an interview I did with Alec MacKaye of The Faith last week. We not only do we talk about the re-issue, but what the early shows were like, recording the demos, and how the Faith/Void split came to be.

Faith – Aware 

When The Faith started did you view The Faith picking up where the Untouchables left off?

No- if anything, Faith was S.O.A. continuing. When Henry left to join Black Flag, he suggested that I start playing with Michael and Ivor. But when we started playing together, we knew we were going to be different than our previous bands. Ivor had only done one show with S.O.A. Michael had some songs that hadn’t gotten sorted out, so those, along a couple of S.O.A. songs with new lyrics were what we started with. But really, we started pretty fresh. People learn and change quickly at that age. I knew Chris Bald from Wilson High School and brought him in to see if it could work and something gelled, as they say.

How did the idea of finally issuing the demos come about?

Ian came up with it. He was thinking of ways to get some of the old stuff remastered and back out and when it came to Faith/Void split, well it was hard to figure how to pull that apart. He hit on the idea of getting the demos out instead…

What are some of the things you remember most about recording that first demo?

Mostly the anxiety of being in the studio. We didn’t know how much time would really need to mix after getting the tracks down… We were really happy to be at Don’s though. It was when he had his studio in his basement. The vocals booth was in the laundry room, the control room was next to the furnace, the instruments were set up in his daughter’s play room, with dolls and a chest full of dress up clothes… Don was and is a masterful, calm and inspiring person.

The Faith added a second guitarist for Subject to Change, how did that change the dynamic in terms of song writing? Was song writing easier?

Well the dynamic changed – and the joy increased. It was so cool having Eddie in the band and it helped the sound stay solid on stage, as well as added a lot of depth and strength. Guitar parts that were hard to pull off live, were suddenly attainable for both Eddie and Michael. Song writing changed, too. Eddie brought a lot to the band. For me, the other impact was having watch out for yet another guitar swinging for my head. Eddie nailed me good at a 930 show and still have a scar on the top of my head from it.

Faith – In the Black 

Subject to Change seems really focused, I’ve always enjoyed a song like Unititled which was just a well executed hardcore song, followed by the almost stooges-ish Subject to Change. Was in purposely done to make Subject to change almost more melodic than the Void split?

We weren’t purposely trying to be different from ourselves – we are just growing and changing. Read the title of the record again! We also spent a bit more time mixing Subject To Change. As much as we liked doing the split, we thought we could do better almost as soon as it was out.

Your vocals were always what I thought were the most interesting about The Faith, they weren’t the typical “hardcore” vocals, and it seems bands like Die Kreuzen would borrow from them almost. They seemed melodic in a sense, would you say this is what helped push the songs in different directions on Subject to Change?

Thanks for that. I actually don’t know what to say to say about my voice. I was just doing the best I could with what I had to work with. I would say that by the time we recorded Subject To Change, we had played and rehearsed a lot more – we had grown into the songs as well as gotten more in tune with each other. More confident even in allowing “mistakes” to occur (as opposed to when we were younger and trying to nail things tight). And we had Eddie in the mix which was huge for us.

In the American Hardcore book it said you sang so hard you would hyperventilate. Is this true? That must have freaked people out.

I suppose its true — but I don’t recall anyone freaking out. I always finished our sets as far as I know.

Keep in mind, the shows were often wild all over. Some of the shows were unbearably hot, too. Imagine an overcrowded church basement with all the windows and doors shut to keep the noise from bringing the cops… I remember watching a kid go into a full seizure in front of me on the steps at the Wilson Center. He just stiffened up and planked, face firs,t hand at his sides, onto the steps. I never did that.

Why did The Faith break up? Was it odd to have an EP come out and not be in that band anymore?

Being in the Faith was a bit like harnessing fireworks. After a while we just got so we didn’t want to do that anymore. I know we were proud of the way Subject To Change turned out and really wanted it released. It was worrisome, because in general, it didn’t make sense to put out a record if the band was no longer around to do shows and sell records– especially if there were other bands to put out. I am glad Subject To Change was pressed then, and I am really happy to see it getting re-released now! It looks so cool with a red sleeve and still sounds great!

Who’s idea was it to do the split with Void? Was it always meant to be a split? 

Pretty sure that was Ian’s idea, too. I think it was just that neither band had enough material recorded to warrant a whole album, back then we always tried to fit as much music as mechanically possible onto albums. Void and Faith were definitely into each other’s bands but our approaches to music were so different that there there isn’t much point in comparing the two sides… though people always do. Its like comparing red vs. blue; The two things have their particular jobs to do. They are never close enough to compare, only to contrast and to compliment– and that’s the whole idea. I suppose it could be interesting to attempt to verbalize the ways that blue is different from red …

Looking back ’79-’83 do you feel that hardcore and especially the harDCore scene is romanticized at all? Do you enjoy or read the books and movies that have been made on hardcore in recent years? Do you feel there are some bands these books and movies have glossed over that they should have included?

— I wouldn’t say the scene is romanticized too much, in general. Some people do have astonishing, sometimes curious recollections, but I think that is bound to happen. And that can be fun to hear. As long as there are other voices to bring some balance (and discerning people to look for them and listen to them) some modicum of truth will be settled on.

I always read books about punk history and I always assume that some portion of it is bullshit. Anyone trying to contain a bunch of complicated, incongrous information and assemble a readable/watchable narrative for a book or an article or a movie is bound to cut out things that impede flow, eat up minutes, or interfere with the set-up of who is good and/or bad in the story and what was important, etc.

Trenchmouth were an amazing band to see. I wish they had made it into a studio! All there is is some cool rehearsal tapes on Scott Wingo’s web page. I would like people to listen to the two Limp Records samplers to hear the music that came just before hardcore, to get a sense of some of what we were listening to.  

Subject to Change (Plus first demo) is out now on Dischord Records. Buy it here

An Open FUCK YOU to American Apparel

I never felt great about supporting you American Apparel. Let’s face it, you’ve had a storied history with a creepy founder who sexually harassed  women employees and trouble with allowing unionization in your so-called textile worker friendly business. But, I’m not going to lie. I loved your clothes. They were soft, and cut nice and had great colors. I own over 30 shirts produced by your brand. I’ve bought three “Legalize Gay” shirts. I touted you guys to friends, and got others hooked. It was the kind of word of mouth promotion that corporations love; free, personal endorsements. I moved product and converted others because, despite some questionable practices, I was happy to spend good money on quality clothing that was also made in the United States.

from her website http://www.fattyd.com (NSFW)

But you’ve slipped some bullshit by me. In 2010, adult film star and beautiful goddess April Flores (note, this link is NSFW) approached your company about a line of clothing for bigger ladies. You wonderfully blew her off stating, in paraphrase, that your company wasn’t interested in catering to that market. Honestly, if I had known that then, I would have walked on it. I was probably too busy watching Flores reclaim the definition of beauty and disrupting the hetero-normative, male centric, white, straight sexual paradigm with fury, vengeance and beauty. The fact that you couldn’t get on board with such an amazing artist, activist and feminist is appalling, especially since you have never shied away from the adult industry before. After all, your adds mimic softcore pornography and you embraced Sasha Grey at the height of her adult film career to sell socks. I admire the shit out of Sasha Grey, too. And I thought that was a bold move on your part, to sell sex with such an articulate, challenging actress. The dynamic was awesome and powerful. But I wonder what she thinks of you snubbing Flores because she doesn’t fit in to your companies ideal of what beauty is. And just so we are clear, American Apparel, April Flores is stunning. She has a charm, personality and playfulness about her being that makes the pale, pasty, kids you normally depict looking starved and fucked up even more pathetic.

It seems the backlash you all received for this triggered change. I was very, very happy about this. You decided to introduce plus sizes for women into your catalog, creating cuts for more body types. This is was actually awesome news. A company, that is fashionable and functional, finally embracing the broad spectrum of what beauty is. And then, you kinda mis-stepped.  And honestly, when I heard about your campaign to find the next American Apparel model to sell your plus sizes, I gave you another pass. You utilized poor language in looking for “the next BIG thing”. It was insensitive word play. That should be pretty obvious by now. But you know what, not the worst thing you could have done. Language is tricky and word play can get you in trouble sometimes. It was dumb, clearly it was dumb.

Enter Nancy Upton. This awesome, 24-year-old Texas lady wasn’t to psyched on your ad campaign and talent search. So she decided to make a statement, entering the contest, posting in provocative(and often very beautiful) shots that included food. Not healthy food that we should all indulge in, but the kind of fat, gross, high calorie, low healthy nonsense us American’s shovel down with rapidity. Upton wanted to make a statement and she did. She also won your contest. Which honestly isn’t a surprise. I voted for her myself, because I felt like she created the kind of open and honest dialog this country needs when it talks about health, and body image, especially where women are concerned, and beauty. I also thought utilizing your platform, in contrast with your linguistic blunders was totally appropriate.

Up to this point, you and I were still cool American Apparel. It seemed like you were gonna take your lick with grace. I realized that obviously, Upton wouldn’t be your model and I didn’t even expect you to open a positive dialog with her about the project, your future ad campaigns or any of these issues. That wouldn’t have bothered me either. Upton’s activism was enough in my opinion to at least create some kind of public discourse. I wish the story of Flores had flourished a year ago like this one, because as much as I admire Upton, I think additional factors made the Flores debacle less succulent for blogs and press outside of queer porn bloggers and the adult industry. People didn’t want to touch it because it’s hard for the public to believe that a woman of Flores’s stature could be a porn star. Oh and also, porn is still taboo in this fucked up culture.

So why did your creative director Iris Alonzo have to write that open letter to Nancy Upton? I realize since then that you have reached out to Nancy and are making a modest, if less than humble attempt, to meet with her and continue this discussion. But seriously, I just can’t take the bullshit in this letter from you. It’s more corporate double speak trying so hard to evade responsibility for being stupid. And you’re not even fucking BP or Coca Cola or one of the other millions of shitty, unethical, violent, corrupt companies that exist. You aren’t perfect as an organization and a participant in capitalism, but you are so much better than this letter. So much better. You could have humbly taken the shot, recognized your mistakes, reached out to Upton and the public and your loyal customers and maybe even increased the dialog. You had an opportunity to make the real changes in the industry this letter states you desire to do, and instead you acted like an insulted politician and lashed out. And that was it for me.

Whatever becomes of this campaign, this debacle with Upton and the rest of your company no longer concerns me. I can no longer, in good conscience continue buying your products, recommending your company or associating myself with you any further. I’m not happy about this at all, either. But if you refuse to take corporate responsibility and be humbled by negative reactions from the public when they have a fucking point, then you are no better than your competitors and the other mongrels that are only concerned about profit margins. I will not use your products in my personal life, for any band or creative project or extol the softness and warm feeling I once received from putting on an American Apparel shirt nearly every day of my life. It’s over between us American Apparel.

Sincerely,

Erik Gamlem

Please Note: The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author alone. They do not necessarily represent the views of  the other writers or staff here at Error Vizion. This opinion piece was written by Erik Gamlem without prior consultation with the other members of Error Vizion. If you have some hate you want to rock, direct it at him. He’s a big boy, both literally and figuratively, he can take it.

2011 CC Halloween Shirt

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Halloween is by far my favorite holiday.  This has been a real big year for the label (the only year, but that’s ok).  I wanted to celebrate this evil, tooth decaying holiday and rep my hood a little at the same time. 

Ringspun cotton-limited to 32 pieces-sizes youth large through extra large.

These damned garments will be in my hands October 7 th.  Get in touch. 

Ian over and out.

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DC pours the shit out of Philly

Latte art.

Latte art is one of the things that differentiates specialty or “third wave” coffee from other coffee and coffee shops.  I covered the May TNT (Thursday Night Throwdown) which was held at BIG BEAR CAFE. Art was poured free hand. Brains became dizzy from beer and cocktails.  Floors were danced upon (see one, Mr. Pat Henning). Hometown pride isn’t enough anymore.  Which is the exact reason why Josh from Chinatown Coffee took it upon himself to  go to Philedelphia last thursday for their Thursday Night Throwdown, held at Town Hall Coffee.  To try his portafiltering hand at battle!!  We’ll get to the winner in a minute…

So, I’m at work a couple weeks ago and I was visited by none other than Christy Baugh, Jewdith Mandel and Brian Duggan. They never need a reason to show their beautiful faces in my shop but Christy was holding a video camera in her hand so naturally I asked her what she was up to.  She told me that her and her coffee associates were going around making a video for Philly.  “What about Philly and why?” I asked.  They said there was a latte art competition going down between Philly and DC … how exciting!  “Then what’s the video for…. ” I asked. To which Christy explained “It’s going to be a video of people from DC talking smack on Philly”

So let me get this straight Christy Baugh .. you want to record me, talking a bunch of shit on Philadelphia.

The city of “Brotherly Love”?  The home of the famous “Philly Cheesesteak”? The city where great sports teams like The Phillies, Eagles and Flyers reside? Um, yeah let’s fucking do this!

A week passes.

I’m at work and Alex Bean hands me a disc.  This disc has the following video on it.



Moments after watching it Josh Croston walks through the door. He saw what we were watching and went,”oh yeah I won that; it was great” He told me that he took the bus up the day of the competition, showed them the video, competed, had a great time, saw some friends and then came back. To which I replied, “So let me get this straight, you took a $17 bus to Philly, signed up for a latte competition, showed a room full of Philly baristas a video .. of me and fellow DC baristas and residents explaining what a TERRIBLE place Philidelphia is … you then won the latte art competition, got on a bus and came back home?”. HAHAH amazing.  Eat it Philly.

See you October 20th at Big Bear for the DCxPhilly TNT.  Y’all gonna be bleeding cheez whiz.

Ian M W Thompson

Rediscover Friday

We are at another Friday, this week it’s been all about Jazz for me. I used to spend a lot of my time in my late teens early 20s trying to find every BYG/ESP/Impulse etc record I could afford. Needless to say that’s partly why I was broke most of the time. What’s really interesting is that when I first started listening Jazz I decided (stupidly) to not give Bop/Hard Bop a chance. I thought to my ears it just sounded like “Grampa Jazz”, a few years ago it finally just hit me, maybe it was the early 60s Blue Note records I tried to collect, who knows.

Sonny Red – Nadia

Sonny Red did a killer one off LP with Blue Note. Hard Bop is one of those things that took me time to really enjoy, not sure why. Roy Brooks is on fire here, no crazy fills, just keeping the beat along until he goes into this crazy solo which for me, makes the song brilliant.

Art Brooks – side 1

It looks like Night Caller by Art Brooks is a private press LP. It really does sound like a lost ESP release or something. What makes this LP stand out is its almost “drone” atmosphere to it.  Not really quite sure  much else about this record though

Sunny Murray – Black Art

Sunny’s Time Now was one of the first LP’s I had listened to after being obsessed with Albert Ayler for the longest time. This record is in my top ten Jazz LPs of all time if I had to make one. What made this interesting was going from the almost spiritual political leanings of say Sun Ra or Ayler to this. Here Murray goes for the throat instead of sugar coating anything.

Duke Pearson – Sudel

Another Hard Bop record. This I believe came out in 1966, it’s pretty well executed Hard Bop stuff. The impressive thing about this song specifically is Joe Henderson’s playing. His solo is spot on and doesn’t seem too agressive with the notes.

Ornette Coleman – Doughnuts

Ornette isn’t playing to agressive here, but that’s what I love about this cut. Also David Izenzon  really pushes this song to be great. Just completely adding certain notes and a vibe to this version that is just awesome to hear.

Monday Power Pop Mix

It’s another Monday morning and my Ravens lost, so I need a good pick me up. First band that always comes to my mind  when thinking of Power Pop is the terribly underrated Superdrag. It’s a shame that they might only be known for their Buzz Bin hit “Sucked Out” cause as their debut LP, Regretfully Yours proved, Superdrag was a mix between My Bloody Valentine, Husker Du, and The Beach Boys. Later albums dove into more straight ahead heavy Power Pop as well as some weird Psych experiments as well.

Spiltsville, from Baltimore, also never got their due. I’m not sure if there was ever a place for them in Charm City, which sucks because their songs are extremely well written. I saw these guys I think when I was 14 or something at a local showcase at Merriwether. Of course every other band sucked but these guys. I picked up Repeater, partly because I found out they were on the same label as Shonen Knife or something. A few years later they did a tribute LP of sorts in the style of The Beach Boys Pet Sounds and The Beatles Revolver, which pretty much worked, though it was a little cheese ball at times.

The Shivvers from Milwaukee were a band from 1979-82 and should have probably been the biggest band in the world. Though I guess like the press release for the collection CD they put out a few years back said, if they were from NYC they would have been huge.  Love the vocals, which to me is what makes them special beyond the solid and catchy song writing. It’s a bit of the pretenders, it is a bit of the Raspberries, but it all rules.

The Riff Doctors with “Turn Me On” add a little bit of twang to your Power Pop or whatever. Here is a killer demo from this band, not sure if they did anything more than this. I guess North Carolina didn’t have much of a Power Pop scene.

I love Charlotte Hatherley, pretty much every LP she’s done has been Power Pop bliss. She used to play guitar for Ash, thought it seems she wanted to venture out on her own a bit, and with the LPs she’s recorded i’m glad she did. She does a good job at combining XTC, Chicago, Guided By Voices, and even Marnie Stern. “Kim Wilde” is from her first LP which is much more straight forward Power Pop than her last two LPs. You can hear a bit of the Ash influence in this one.

Jellyfish were one of those bands where their ambitions might have gotten the best of them, or at least when their last LP, Splitmilk, came out in 1993. Listening to “Joining A Fan Club” they seem to verge on channeling Queen or something. I’m not gonna complain though, as it’s something like that which separates them from the more normal Power Pop bands listed above.