Monday, September 19, 2011
The Old Days (kinda sucked)
That last post sucked. It didn’t even have much to do with the band it highlighted and I was going on and on about what’s punk and what’s metal. It reads like a bad/good letter to Maximum Rock and Roll. Maybe it’s a good time to clarify for myself and others why I started this blog as I’ve mostly been flying by the seat of my pants following the inspiration where it takes me over the last two years. Also I expect to be really busy in the next few months and so the amount of time I’ll have to write here will be limited. Expect sporadic posts through the end of the year.
I’ve called myself a film maker in the past. While that may be somewhat true I’m a communicator and film is just one medium I’m trying to use and understand. Without rehashing my track record of completed films I’ll admit it’s not all fucking genius. Considering I’ve never spent a dime of my own money making these films I’ll consider myself at least above average among the obscure, overly critical, stubborn, film producers out there. I’d be hard pressed to say I’m satisfied with my output, some films have been better than others, but I’m happy with my place in the world of film. I made it my plan through luck and design to produce as an outsider. As you might deduce I’ve long since given up any hope of having a legitimate career in film production.
I don’t feel pressured to do anything I don’t want to do. But I’ve also resigned myself to continue making films with zero budget. It’s this laisse faire attitude that keeps me neck deep in new projects. I tend to start a project, let it get some air, put it on the shelf, then return to it months or years later to find myself newly inspired.
I started this film over two years ago. It began innocently enough as a collection of stop motion experiments. It was only after shooting and piecing it together that I started to see a bigger place for this piece to exist in my heart. The visuals came first and from there I was instantly transported to my childhood. The images were like shadowy snapshots from memories I’d long forgotten. Specifically a walk home from Sandy Perri’s house after swallowing a powerful dose of LSD. That walk, by myself from Charleston and Lamb to my house on Linn and Washington was exhilarating. liberating, and intoxicating. The best trips happen when you’re alone.
I began to see this short film as an attempt to make a memory real from the ground up. As the picture took focus it was a natural development for me to include the music of my youth as the soundtrack to this psychedelic vomit. As luck would have it I also discovered the phenomenon of the regional or at least genre specific music blog at that time. It was a real kick to have access to music I’d only dreamed of hearing in the past. Hardcore punk, metal, hiphop, oldies, soul, you name it. A cycle of music that was endless and a sizeable amount of bands I’d never even known about. The frenetic nature of the piece and the obvious background noise to this acid trip so long ago made it apparent that hardcore would be the atmosphere of this teenage mind melt.
Ever cognizant of the litigious nature of intellectual property I also began to see this obscure hardcore world as a goldmine of limitless sampling possibilities. There is a bottomless pit of unknown go nowhere hardcore bands that put out one 7” or demotape and were never heard from again. I could sample the shit out of this underworld without fear of being sued! It was a perfect fit.
When I first feel in love with hip hop and it’s sample based nature I’ve wanted to see someone dive in and sample hardcore punk music in a new and unusual way. It’s too distracting for hiphop to touch it but it seems like someone with skill could make it happen. It’s too angular and overbearing for electronic musicians to find it of any use, and quite honestly it’s too one dimensional to mix it together in any conventional sense. It was while purusing the music blogosphere that I came to discover the work of composer John Oswald.
Noise and avant garde music has always been a mixed bag to me. Most of it is a suck fest.. But the album Plexure by Oswald proved to be inspiring in many ways. Instead of trying to use music to bring a cohesive element into the film I decided to make the film spin out into even more explosive confusion. Akin to what hardcore at it’s best will do to you after a few hits of LSD.
I began doing more research to unearth more hardcore bands with which I could create this new world. And here’s where I hit a snag. Turns out my knowledge of hardcore punk isn’t nearly as diverse as I’d thought. I was familiar with the two or three dozen bands that everyone seems to know but that bottomless pit of obscure hardcore that I now had access to was more daunting than I’d envisioned. It might be no surprise to you but hardcore is pretty fucking boring if that’s all you listen to for a few weeks. After a frustrating couple of days I reached a breaking point and realized I was going about this all wrong. I was too focused on not being sued. Why? I’m out here in the middle of nowhere and will never have expectations of making money off of my films. Why should I be worried about someone going after me for anything I’m doing. They have to discover that I exist first.
I make my films for me. Even if I was kept from screening or posting any of my films I’ll still know they exist and I’ll still care about them and want them to exist. So FUCK intellectual property. I’ll use anything I want. Breaking down that final wall towards this experiment helped me to complete the film. And if you hear your band on here and you want to sue me than you know where to reach me. Also you’re invited to kiss my ass.
In the process of finishing this film grand ideas began to swirl around in my fish tank head. I’ve always wanted to create a video installation. This wasn’t just a short film this had the potential to become that video installation. I got it into my head to make a series of 6 or 7 short films with similar content. Some would be fleshed out stories others would tread the path already laid out here in terms of experimentation and the mining of memories come to life. More of these memories could be unearthed, more could be learned from the lessons and lesions of the past. Hardcore punk would again be a major component.
It was here that I got to thinking about that loud obnoxious part of my life. There was no denying that the hardcore scene, as far as I knew about it in contemporary terms was silenced. Now I know that’s a generalization. There will probably always be hardcore bands through the end of time. But as a collective push in today’s culture hardcore as a style has evolved into a myriad of genre specific scenes. Any shred of unity still seems to manifest itself in unusual ways. New bands crop up that tend to ape the style, old bands get back together again hopefully not to drag their name in the mud but you can never tell until you’ve already paid the cover charge. And the history or lack of a history seemed unsettling.
There have been half hearted attempts to set the record straight. It’s almost always a farce. A shitty 90 minute documenraty does nothing to instill the real passion of those moments. Some great oral history books have risen to the surface, and in some cases I started seeing some decent blogs that put a measure of perspective on the fleeting fury. But where was the elusive Vegas blog? Who was gonna be there to pick up those pieces? Many of which were probably already buried in the landfill.
Why was there no regional blog making music available from the hardcore scene I was privy to? Where could I find that shit? Did it still exist? There were many stories yet untold. Who’s gonna tell those stories? What the fuck.
Thunder struck and within a few months I began the blog you’re reading here. It got to be fun and I continued it. I’ve incorporated my creative impulses into the creation of this blog and it helps inform my continued creative impulses with film production, music production (if you want to call it that) and writing. I don’t look at it as a rehashing of memories and I don’t see it as nostalgia. I think I’m still making waves in my own development and maybe I’ll always be that teenage kid trippin balls ready to blow up the fucking world? That would suit me fine.
More to the point this blog in some ways was an outgrowth of the tiny measure of guilt I felt to the nameless, and the famous hardcore bands whose music I used for the soundtrack of this film. I will make more films and I will hopefully finish and present that video installation sometime in the future.
The original name for this film was “The Old Days (kinda sucked).” It was a reference to hardcore, punk, and underground cultural innuendo. As great as hardcore was back then it’s also constantly new and evolving, or it should be, so any triumphs that we experienced back then should always pale in comparison to what we’re gonna do today. And tomorrow. I changed the name to “Shit You Hear At Parties.” I wish I’d stayed with the original name. Whatever…
I make no pretentions about being an authority on LVHC (Las Vegas Hardcore) nor do I think I know everything about punk, metal, or all the demonic spawn of said genres. I just like spending time thinking about the shit. I’ve hoped others would follow suit and maybe more stories, blogs, zines, or the like would materialize. Maybe they’ll come later but I have yet to see them at this point.
Ultimately some of the reasoning for this blog and this film is that it’s a way for me to give back to the kicking and screaming underground that’s continued to inspire me. Even in silence.