Monday, August 31, 2009

Ebola - Imprecation ep

God bless the emotional time machine...

The real problem with immigration is not the fact that your qualifications are worth shit in your new country or that you can barely even open a bank account to deposit the wages from your demeaning new world job into.

No the real problem is that most of your record collection is stuck back in the mother land and everytime you think "fuck, i could really do with listening to Death Church/ A Light in the Darkness/ Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania" (it's a Macronympha record...) you realise they're 5,000 miles away.

Anyway, i found this yesterday and figured i'd share it. Kind of hard to believe i recorded this almost 13 years ago, i guess progression really is over rated.

I started Ebola with vocalist (first album only) Jonathan Shaw in the summer of 1995, we lived in Benwell, check this awesome photo of the street we lived on:

Need anything from the shop while i'm out?

Clearly we needed some escapism from our lives and Ebola was our ticket. I asked Micky and Karin from One By One to play guitar and second vocals (it was the 90s...) and Chris from my other band Sawn Off to play drums.

There's not much to be said really, the politics of Ebola were far more straight forward than anything i've been involved in in recent years and i was far less, uh, metaphysical in public then than i am now. Not that i'm one of those people that grows up and attempts to distance himself from his embarassing early forays into opinionated bullshit, i still stand by the necessity to say the things we said due to our time and space.

At the time there was a lot of backlash (and some of it with much merit if we're honest) against bands that were trying to say something about the state of the world. A common criticism i would hear was that punks would never change anything so what was the point. And it's true, on the whole punks will never change a fucking thing, hell, the only things they ever changed in Newcastle were my Crossed Out and Drop Dead records at parties when they wanted to listen to some useless awful dirgey bullshit like, hmm, how about Crass? But i digress.

Well, punk managed to change my life. As gay as that sounds it gave me the tools to travel regularly for free, open up my horizons significantly and ultimately led me to Canada, a move which after six years still isn't old for me.

Previous to this 7" we recorded an LP which i think has aged a little more poorly than Imprecation.

Nick Loaring replaced Jonathan Shaw on vocals between the first two records. After Imprecation came the horribly recorded split 7" with Servitude that took us far too long to write and marked the start of our inability to keep a drummer for very long. I left not long after the split 7" and the band managed another record before imploding under shakey line ups and too much physical distance to keep the impetus alive.

Micky and Karin recently moved to Belgium and have two children, Nick lives on a boat, Chris plays in the recently reformed Sawn Off and Jonathan tragically died of cancer three years ago. Jonathan was probably the most important person that's ever been in my life.

There was some kind of talk of a discography CD a number of years ago. Honestly, i can't say i was paying too much attention about it and i suspect none of us really feel that strongly about the need for an Ebola CD to exist. Having said that maybe five will turn up unannounced in my mailbox next week and i'll have to rapidly edit this blog entry...

RIP Lobster
A brick through a car dealership window as an act of love.

Monday, August 24, 2009


The third Windscale tape was just released by Actual Noise AKA 20 Buck Spin's non-Decibel Magazine friendly label.

Two tracks of simple synth noise and vocals and one more rigidly composed track that i listened to again last night for the first time in a good few months and was actually quite proud of.

Windscale deals with our disillusionment with the modern world and our sense of detachment from what we perceive as an inherently flawed dystopia and an age of vice.

The project was started two years ago as an ongoing collaboration between myself and Jim Fellahean from Cleveland.

Fellahean's Insignificant Scrap CD is a fine example of current US harsh noise that revels in decay and collapse. A great CD worthy of further investigation for any harsh noise fan.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

"She's coming down fast"

So it's the 40th anniversary of the Tate- LaBianca slayings, Lynette Fromme is about to be paroled and Bobby Beausoleil’s incredible soundtrack for Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising has finally been given a worthy reissue.

I don’t think Charles Manson is ‘cool’, but nor do I have a particularly adverse reaction to him either. I think the “Charlie is awesome” brigade (maybe they’re slightly less visible than they once were though?) and the “Manson is the most evil serial killer ever” people in the other corner basically display the same inability to process the information available and both sets turn to reactionary knee jerk responses.

Manson related iconography can be found to some degree in most Blockade releases, several of our songs and a number of our shirt images (and Susan Atkins in the Survivalist banner at the top of this page). I’ve brought up Manson in a two band interviews in the last few years and rather than repeat myself I’ll just republish my answers again:

What's this obsession you have with Ulrike Meinhof? You have herpicture on your webspace and one of your songs' is named after herbrain. How do you feel about RAF and militant struggle in general?

The song "Ulrike Meinhof's Brain" is about how after her death in 1976 herbrain went missing after her body was unofficially exhumed. In 2002Magdeburg University admitted they had been studying her brain to see if theremoval of a tumour in childhood had caused abnormal brain development andleft to the development of her terrorist activities.

One of the more interesting things about the RAF is when you compare theGerman government's treatment of Nazi war criminal's post WWII with thetreatment of RAF members.

Most Nazis tried in Germany by German courts weregranted amnesty during the 1950s whereas surviving RAF members received muchlonger sentences and many of them are still behind bars to this day. Now, I wouldn't be ascrass as to suggest that the German government is favourable to the Naziparty but it is telling that crimes committed in the name of the State(though a State since overturned) are dealt with less harshly than crimescommitted against the State.

Militant struggles in general are of broad interest to me, just as militantposturing in general is of broad interest to me. My interest is in the pointwhen militancy leaves the realm of ideas and manifests into action, whether I can agree on a moral level or not. Some examples would be SozialistischesPatientenkollektiv, Shining Path, Khmer Rouge, various Volkish groups,Black September, The Angry Brigade, Aum Shinrikyo / Aleph and many many more.

I guess a classic demonstration of my interest would be The Manson Family; from a heavily institutionalised ex-convict picking up the dregs of thehippy movement (already long in decline when Manson arrived on the scene) tobutchering families and hiding out in Death Valley trying to find a hole inthe Earth that would lead them to an underground kingdom.

My interest is not in death and murder per se but in the process that people go through to makethat decision that terror and violence are the only options for them to engage in.

I'd also like to make it clear that I only have a passing prurient interest in most serial killers. It's the ideological aspect of violence that I’minterested in, not random slaughter.

-It’s More Than Music, 2007

Should radical groupations such as "the family", "aum shinrikyo", and others who strive for their goal even though they are swimming against the current be considered heroes of our time? I'm not emphasizing the shock effect of their actions, but the driving force and the extreme willpower. Defying the modern society in a very explicit way is something that is worthy of respect in my book.

These people aren’t heroes. Bombing a subway with nerve gas, I’m sorry but I’m just not really into that. It stems back to my yes/ no on the death penalty; who the hell has the right to decide that complete strangers need to be put to death for a cause?

Personally I’m not into idolising transgressive actions simply because they’re transgressive. If you get into that game you might as well put up shrines to all the paedophiles, shit eaters and dog fuckers that are out there because they’re also following their desires and goals to the extreme.

If someone wants to nail their dick to a plank of wood because they think they’re bringing back some ancient shamanistic practice that mankind lost a long time ago, go for it, just don’t expect me to care. I hate self proclaimed transgressive cultural terrorist idiots.

So that’s where I stand on supporting people who undertake these activities because of their inner force.

However, this is not simply an open and shut thought in my mind. Sure, I don’t consider these people heroes by any stretch of the imagination but they do fulfil a massively valuable function over and above merely being viewed as society’s pariahs.

I’m an unapologetic misanthropist; people generally make my skin crawl. In groups they’re stupid and obnoxious and many people deserve all the misery they get. Conversely however I’m still an idealist; I want to live in a better world, mostly for me, but sure, might as well make everyone else happy whilst you’re at it. I’m also not really into blatant injustices and people fucking other people over. I shouldn’t care, but for some reason I do. My politics can be boiled down to the radical notion (sarcasm fully intended) that people should basically leave each other the hell alone.

So, when you combine idealism, ideology and violence my interest is piqued. And it’s piqued because it’s symbolism I can put into my daily life. I’m not some retarded Manson worshipping fan boy, but give me an image of Leslie Van Houten or Lynette Fromme and I’ll turn them into my own personal avatars of revenge, my own guardian angels of fucking shit up.

We all need to pray to things and for things, whether it’s to Discharge, Jesus or whatever. Fuck, give me Abraxas; I’ll pray to Him when I need to. I’ll make Ulrike Meinhof my Saint of Justice. I’ll make Jim Jones a facet of my alter ego when I feel utter alienation from everyone around me: “If we can't live in peace then let’s die in peace. We are not committing suicide-it’s a revolutionary act”.

Lets give ourselves new rallying crys, new credos, new avatars because the old standards are almost completely irrelevant. “Throw out Christ, bring back Thor” as Boyd Rice said.

Fetishising (in the truest meaning of the word) death and pain and in my case people like Baader Meinhof, Aum Shinrikyo and the Symbioses Liberation Army is exactly the same as other people reading romantic novels, listening to love songs and buying kitten calendars. A million tired songs about death and violence has the same root as a million tired songs about love. The world is often a cold and unforgiving place; we make our peace with loneliness through idealised romance. We make our peace with death and our acceptance of the complete and utter entropy of the human race through idealised gore and violence. Barbara Cartland and Peter Sotos are the exact same things. Barry White and XXX Maniak are the exact same things.

On a different note, the violence of The Manson Family and of Baader Meinhof and their ilk is committed in the way it’s committed because of the belief that spectacular violence will bring about real change. This is a totally modern concept, one of the few we really have in this world. Guy DeBord was really on to something. The Spectacle is everything. Even in destroying The Spectacle we participate in defining The Spectacle.

And finally, let’s not forget that other than Charles Manson, most of The Family were actually children. Fucked up street kids on the whole and you know, if you’re going to be a weird drop out that hates your life you may as well kill movie starlets and low rent Hollywood drug dealers, point loaded guns at U.S. presidents and make some kind of a statement bar “spare some change” even if it is slightly garbled.

- Freak Power, interview conducted 2007, currently unpublished

Originally I had the idea to release a ten song Blockade 12” on the anniversary of the Tate, Frykowski, Folger etc killings. Each song would reference an aspect of the events and each song would also in turn reframe those situations into potentially new meanings and metaphors.

Obviously this didn’t happen. The ongoing destruction of my sanity caused by the Bastard Noise/ Blockade split (perhaps more on that at some future point) is probably largely to blame.

And big deal anyway, I don’t know that we need to do a whole record about it anyway. Pig Life on Primitive was essentially a clich├ęd ‘fuck society’ punk song written into a hex using the Manson Family and the SLA as servitors.

And besides, Death in June beat us to it by ten years with All Pigs Must Die.

As for Manson himself, well, he’s never getting out of jail and it’s probably for the best. We’re talking about a man who’s spent around 10% of his entire life outside the confines of institutions.

Watching Manson talk is mildly interesting to me. For the last seventeen years I’ve earned a living working with the severely mentally ill and I got my start working with people who were severely institutionalised. Manson pretty much hits most of the negative points you’d expect to see; flight of ideas, grandiose ideation, manipulative behavior, extreme narcissism, his audience defining his role and occasional flashes of humility and modesty. Whatever, I can walk out of my apartment and find these same character traits in any number of rummies at the dive bar at the top of the street or the helpless bastards shouting at pigeons at the bus stop.

The reason people still pay attention to Manson is because despite his delivery his content is often bang on and he’s clearly not stupid. It’ll give you a headache if you try and keep up with him but you’ll find some interesting stuff if you listen for a minute and can make the connections.

Of course it depends on your own perceptions of the world and if anything he quickly says before moving on to the next point hits your own reality models.

Anyway, if you’ve only ever read Ed Sanders hysterically bad book (oo-ee-oo) or Vincent Bugliosi’s cash grab of a book there’s a lot more to it (and sometimes a lot less) than either of those two tomes convey.

All The Way Alive.