The Shotdowns.) Jim and Greg Kot helped Screeching Weasel quite a bit in the early days. Greg Kot wrote an important article about us in the Tribune many years ago, (I can't seem to find that specific one online. But, Vapid, Panic, Ben and I had to drive downtown for a proper photo shoot, and the article has a classic picture of the band in leather jackets and Jeans but me, of course, in a colorful suit jacket and baggy pants with tucked in socks climbing bricks behind the rest of the band, looking more new wave than punk. Here are two other articles that he wrote, keeping our name in the papers: It's Harvest Time, and Cynics From The Suburbs. Jim Derogatis besides writing about us quite often in the Sun Times also wrote an equally influential yet severely past our prime article about us in Spin Magazine (Screeching Halt). Jim has always been attracted to the idea of "anti-hero" which is evident in his book Let It Blurt. I had always thought that Jim was infatuated with Ben as a punk anti-hero (an artistic crush), often letting other interesting things about the band fall to the wayside. But there is no denying the help he has given to me freely over the years, and quite honestly it has taken me a long time to realize that we have a mutual respect for our places in music and art. He even was kind enough to write about my other music pride and joy which I keep hoping some day will be appreciated on a grander scale, (We can all dream.) even though I don't think he ever really cared much for our music, Even In Blackouts. Punk Goes Acoustic. Here's a major tangent: I was thinking of my writing in Even In Blackouts the other day, which was later accompanied by the incomparable Gub Scot Conway. Our writing seemed to work so well together. We are both slightly warped. Our drummer and bassist, Bice and Phil Hill, often talked about how they had to take our strange musical structures and try to make sense of them in order to create a palpable backing rhythm section. I felt proud that Gub and I caused such wonderful headaches in such amazing musicians. Anyway the point I was going to make here is I still believe in the idea of An Album, and even the idea of a Concept Record. This can manifest in many different ways. The type I've been interested in is similar to the concept record that Ben Weasel was into with a record like Anthem For a New Tomorrow, it wasn't telling a linear story, it was a grouping of songs sharing attitude, themes, and images. I carried this into EVERY Even in Blackouts record. (Often this happens, in subtle ways on most records anyhow. Records in varying degrees chronicle what a band is going through during a particular time. They are little slices of history.) The step I feel I took farther, more consistently, is the title of a record had to be wholly original whereas Ben most often enjoyed capturing phrases from sub cultures and even the mainstream that struck his fancy, like My Brain Hurts, (Monty Python) Thank You Very Little (Chevy Chase in Caddyshack), Bark Like a Dog (Bill Murray in Caddyshack). (Some I assume are entirely original) My titles for neither better nor worse HAD to be completely fabricated and meticulously tied to the themes of the songs on the inside, even if unintelligible to the listener. For instance: Myths & Imaginary Magicians was playing on some references to Screeching Weasel's The Science of Myth, which was originally borrowed from Joseph Campbell. Myths are the standards we try to live up to, the morals that are embedded in our culture, they help us face a world that can be callous and chaotic, but the use of the word Myth has also come to mean, trying to live up to an unreachable conception of the self which has much more to do with personal identity than social norms. It's usage on Myths & Imaginary Magicians refers to friends of mine like Ben Foster, Steve Walker, Matt Nelson and Peter Flynn (A radio play I wrote about Peter Flynn), and even myself, we are all too hyper aware of the divide between social personae, caricatures of ourselves, and the less perfect, less awesome, less dramatic, flawed, reality of the actual self. This rocky balance between self loathing, self aggrandizing, and just being oneself is apparent in a goodly percentage of the tracks from that album. The last part of that album title: "Imaginary Magicians" - a magician that isn't a magician, that isn't there, so that even the tricks are twice removed from being real magic. That is the metaphor for types like myself. The reality is that "we" are not performing real magic, that we are mere humans, hiding behind illusions, twice removed. Our intents are often selfish or caught up in justifying ones capricious nature when we think we are being mysterious or intriguingly contradictory. (Because sadly this makes us interesting.) All the titles in the Even In Blackouts' catalog have a certain amount of complexity, and they most definitely painstakingly mirror the songs on each particular record. Like Heidegger in philosophy my goal is to cultivate my own language, my own points of reference, like music itself, to create my own individual path which ironically takes steps towards universality the more honest and truthful it becomes. I search for the write groupings of words to express the inexpressible moods and emotions that stir in all of us. That is my grand goal, and even though it might sound absurd, pompous, or just plain ridiculous, it is how I have always felt about creativity. I don't expect anybody to get that, but it has become an important element in my writing and creative pursuits.
Anyway back to Jim! He has written a blog post about the Jughead's Basement Podcast. And I think that is swell. (I could talk more about Jim, but really you should just go over to his web page, and see all the marvelous things this man has done for the upholding of everything rebellious and beautiful about music. Jim DeRogatis) And even though going off on the titles of records may have seemed a tangent, even to myself, it really wasn't. I mean to hold sacred those who still think in terms of a record as an art form. It was funny when I first started saying each of my podcasts is a piece of art, but truly I mean it. And to say such a thing isn't implying that it is great, (even though I think they are.) It just means they are constructed to be something wholly (and even holy) unto themselves, the structure matching its interior, making it it's own THING.