Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fuzz Orchestra Interview- This one got lost in my archives and somehow was never published until now. It was taken during Fuzz Orchestra's first US tour.

VP: Fuzz Orchestra has a sound all it's own. Was this premeditated or did you develop your style as a result of individuality and practice?

FO: We developed our style through practice.

We have been playing together for 10 years in other band before Fuzz Orchestra. It was composed by us 3 and another guitarist, the band was called Bron Y Aur and it was based on rock improvisation. That's to say that we know each other, musically and personally, quite well.

The sound came out when Fiè switched from bass to mixer, I (Luca) left my Rat distortion pedal for an HBE UFO Fuzz and Marco put his tom toms away.

VP: Do you still incorporate the improvisations with Fuzz Orchestra or are you now writing more song structure?

FO: Our compositions often come out from improvisation, so it's still a great part of our way of creating music.

VP: Your embarking on a US tour at the time of this interview. Is there a difference between touring in the US vs. touring in Europe? How is the crowd here reacting to your explosive live performance?

FO: We haven't found any great difference...the crowd reacted very well,
they seemed to enjoyed our mixture of hard rock and Italian influences.
Our tour has just finished yesterday in NY and we're very happy about it.
We had a great response from the crowd and we've found a great hospitality that maybe was the best thing about touring the USA.

VP: Do you feel that there is a growing audience for experimental and improvisational music? Are people becoming more open minded to bands that have basic skeletal song structure vs. the traditional band that plays the same music the same way night after night?

FO: Mmmmm...I would like this to be true, but I think that it only happens that sometimes some bands become a fashion thing (like Sunn O)), to mention one, or Lightning Bolt) and their audience grows a lot.
The rest of the underground scene, for what I can see in Italy and out of it, remains confined to the same number of persons, more or less.

VP: What is in store for the future of Fuzz Orchestra?

FO: We should make a small UK tour in may/june, then we'll think
about our 3rd record. I'd love to tour Japan, we'll see if it's possible.

Fuzz Orchestra bandcamp


                                             Interview with Michel Kristof

Please explain the theory behing the MKF Approach to music. Is there structure within your improvisation or do you base the improvs purely on the moment?

My solo work as "MKF’s Approach" stems from an atmosphere that comes to my mind, and develops according to this mood and the story it inspires me to tell.

The execution and choice of instruments is then staged (with a particular attention to details) as to render, as faithfully as possible, the feeling of the song. Here, tape manipulations have their most important part.

I use the guitar mainly. I occasionally add sitar and esraj I have electrified; cymbals, tablas, bells, beads, even an electric counter .....


Or the hazards of a poor quality guitar!


The idea is not necessarily to provide nice and orderly landscapes: the sounds and stories heard rather follow the intentional or unintentional curves of playing the instruments. There are even pieces where success lies in the fact that the listener does not listen to the whole song!


Or a megalomaniac vision sounds of the universe!


In short, no preconceived plan: a sense of playing whose successes and accidents determine what is expressed.
Two words about my practice.

Few years of studying Indian music with my master Chunilal Pandey in Varanasi (sitar) gave me a frame and sense of the mood; and the electric guitar to get the big sound.


Then 21 years of total non-musical practice, "just" listening to the free jazz of 1960s and 70s, the electric guitars of Jimi Hendrix, Japanese noise, baroque music and contemporary European music ... all sounds that have slowly worked their ways in my Uncounscious.

In 2011 I returned to sitar at the urge of Sonny Simmons to help him shape his obsession of the East. And a return to my beloved guitar!

Hoping that the life of a salaryman does not prevent me to continue this process of expression in the near future…

How does your project Other Matter compare to the MKF Approach?

As in MKF, staging the music and telling stories are the word, rather than instrumental prowess or anything else. Sound in "Other Matter" is more sophisticated than MKF. The "tape manipulation" is carried out by Julien and his complicated softwares and methods!

Of course there is an interaction in the early moment of recording, before the sound gets heavily modified. “Other Matter”, before being a group, is a friendship we have carried on for 13 years: our mutual playing has been nurtured by listening to the same music, attending the same gigs, and the facts of life: separations, moving furniture together, etc. Life!

This is friendship realized in sound. And this is more excitement and fun than devising his own music in a corner: you have a sense of playing.


Although from the resulting dark music it doesn’t necessarily always show, OM is kind of fun to do. No pressure, no issues: it gives us complete freedom. That said, most people have noticed – and the titles and pictures that go with the music underline it – that OM has a rather somber, nihilistic approach.

For Julien and myself, returning to music playing was a conscious decision, and before we even realized we could actually play, has been an act of utter frustration at our lives as salarymen in a civilization that is seemingly going nowhere. While MKF rather tells personal, intimate stories from my trips and cultural encounters, OM deals with the global lack of meaning many people seem to experience as the XXIth Century goes onward. “Space is not the place anymore” did we write somewhere: this is a bitter comment on Sun Ra’s optimisim (not that we don’t like Sun Ra, who had voluntarily decided FOR optimism in the face of global decay). The universe is not home of the gods anymore; we were free to deal with it at last; and we did utter shit with it. Hence our fascination for the dreary, toxic aspects of astrophysics, emptiness, coldness of galaxies. Hence the chaos in our music.

We improvise everything. Nothing is written beforehand. We play without warning, doing our best to surprise each other. The mixing and mastering, afterwards, become a long process to make the obvious appear, to express hidden intentions.


How does your thoery's on music apply to your work with jazz legend Sonny Simmons?

This is reall Sonny Simmons who gave Julien and me the greenlight to be “artists”, whatever that means, as he often insists that Coltrane’s final statement was rightfully titled “EXPRESSION”. Hitherto we produced many of his albums (and www.sonnysimmons.org www.improvising-bengs.com). Working with such a Master puts you in a position, like it or not, of a disciple. It stirred our will to go back to it. Years of desires buried under layers of routine, low self-esteem due to poor working opportunities in tie and grey suit, for bosses trying to get you to believe that you are a mere number or an initial on the corner of an official paper – MKF!

Sonny, a godfather of free jazz, has a vision that goes beyond the labels: since 2011 we have organized wild free jams with poet Bruno Grégoire, Julien, Thomas Bellier of Blaak Heat Shujaa, piling hours of material that he will eventually organize in a symphonic way: a large work that will encompass free music, rock, eastern music, comprising saxophone, English horn, percussion, poetry, sitar, doom guitars…


I also recorded live with him in Paris, our first meeting as the group Moksha Samnyasin with Thomas Bellier (Blaak Heat Shuja, Ehécatl ) on bass, Sébastien Bismuth (Abrahma) on drums and myself on sitar. The live piece is currently treated by Julien for publication. It’s a very raw act that somehow pays tribute to Arthur Doyle’s Electro-Acoustic Ensemble.


We did a proper studio session of this group, produced by Thomas Bellier – the album is ready and we are looking for an adventurous label!

Meeting with Sonny Simmons is instinctive and complete ! No compromises, no false pretenses, straight to the point! You forget everything you know and do not know, and your life and ass are on the line. His motto is “Serious as bone cancer”, sound is his life, and beware if music is not your goal when you meet him.

"MKF's Approach" and "Other Matter" would not exist without the support of Jay Reeve and Vinnie Paternostro, whose label "MUteantsoundsnetlabel" have highlighted most of our recordings first.

Thank you to Jay for trusting us and have initiated our beautiful relationship and Vinnie for asking us to give us all under their watchful eye!

links to listen our works:

http://muteantsoundsnetlabel.bandcamp.com/ : Note that a new album of Other Matter  is on the road to publication!



http://www.sevenmoonsmusic.com/#!michel-kristof-20012013/c1a20 : a track published by Seven Moons for the release of the magazine!

http://www.improvising-beings.com/ : two albums on cd:

1 . Other Matter : "Birthplace of the massive stars"
2. MKF's Approach : "Truc concret et rouge"

 http://www.mahorka.org/ : An album of Other Matter will be released by the label "Mahorka" soon and then a tribute to Pink Floyd.

written by Michel Kristof with the eternal complicity of Julien Palomo


A series of collaborations between Michel Kristof, Julien Palomo, Jay Reeve, and Vinnie Paternostro will be available on MuteAnt Sounds over the course of 2013.

Sikhara Interview

VP: Sikhara has been known for playing some “unusual” places. Please give me an example of some of these unknowns.

SN: The strange thing about playing in “unusual” locales is they can be equally glorious and dubious.  One of our more well documented experiences; I had asked Kazuya Ishigami to find a temple we could record in near Osaka.  The Senkoji Temple where he chose was ideal.  Filled with 5th century old drums made by hand by Samuri.  When we arrived he asked to join us in the session.   That was actually the inspiration for my current film project in Taiwan.  Yet by contrast, we were asked to play in an abandoned tunnel underneath the city of Linz, Austria, and we arrived to find it was the place where homosexual prostitutes bring their johns to fuck and shoot up.  So the ground was littered with old condoms and syringes.   I was always obsessesed with visiting Turkey and at the first show in Istanbul in 2002, the venue turned out to be next door to the Taxim police station and was guarded with machine guns.  Kind of a good reconciling of the two: I had been visiting Zabrze, Poland frequently and heard tales from many people of their fathers/grandfathers contracting horrible diseases working in the mines and had asked to visit one.  They had called for me and told they don’t really offer tourism, but some time later they arranged for Sikhara to play in the tunnels of the mines. They showed me around before and I saw the temple to Mary, where they would pray each day, due to the frequent death of the workers. 

VP: Out of these experiences, what has shaped the sound of the band the most?

SN: The experience working on the "Temples of Taichung" video, having come in the same time that we have been incorporating a lot more "conventional" instruments, like bass and guitar, has had a big impact.  On one hand, we are stepping towards a more accessible sound, but the primitive, ritual element I can see becoming more cohesive.
  I attended a ceremony in November for the birthday of a god and the monks were performing this sort of dance while chanting, that was really in tune with my own style of body movements in concert.  Doing a project for so long, you need that occasional reminder what the origins of your whole concept is, and that affected me strongly. 
  It inspires me to take things in both directions at the same time.  

VP: The modern primitive, if you will. Is this an extension of a religious rite in itself? Do you feel that your music can give people that same experience as the shamanistic rituals once provided? 

SN: That is clearly the goal, to provide this feeling and experience, but I still consider myself a performer.  Our shows are heavily influenced by film and books; and I am trying to create a character.  I don't think this makes it any less valid, as the nature of the musical project is very entangled with my own existence.  Yet, I am trying to tell a story, and I certainly hope my own life to be considerably less violent and disembodied than the subject of my art. 

VP: What up coming projects are you involved in now?

One of my primary units has become my ongoing studio war with Jonathan Saldanha from Soopa, called United Scum Soundclash.  The new record has people from Barbez, Ovo, Steve Mackay, Love 666 (my heros) and more people than possible to count.  It is exploring music from the technological side, but ends up to sound more organic than many of my project.
  Now, I am just getting ready to start a tour that I organized and am playing on for Amps for Christ, who is Henry Barnes from Man is The Bastard.  MITB is one of my all time favorite and none of them have ever played in Europe.   I tried to book the tour to visit a variety of locations and incorporate some audiences that might not be prepared for what they are getting into
  Right now, the "Temples of Taiwan" project is my main concern.  I have been invading the Taiwanese temples, where they worship a combination of Buddhist and Taoist gods, with a heavy influence from Confucianism.   I put up a sketch of my work so far on our website, but I won't get around to the final results until this fall.  

VP: Is there any uncharted territory Sikhara plans to invade in the near future?

SN: Right now I am in Taiwan, so seeking out some new cities for the "Temples of Taiwan" DVD.  So many of the best spots seem to be hidden away.  Lots of the best opportunities for footage occur for small festival, where they make ritual performance.  They don't generally advertise these events, so you have to stumble into him.  Although when you visit 20 temples a day, you have plenty of opportunity to ask the Gods for help.   I just found a village in San Yi, which is only known because of their woodcarvings.  They had just skinned a massive drum with Tibetan buffalo hide.  The master monk of the temple took some time to show me around and let me play a 6-foot diameter gong that his teacher had designed.
  Next stop is Sun Moon Lake, sort of a mystical place of Taiwan.  The Thao, smallest of the aboriginal tribes are based there, so I am hoping to engage them in a little collaboration.

  It is certainly a shame that Sikhara will be off the road this spring, but I am very excited about the film and recording projects that will be coming together over the next months.
  Definitely encourage everyone to check out our website for updates.  There is a rough draft from the Taiwan film available and also recently posted, is a segment from the Hop Frog Kollectiv's most recent festival in the Mohave dessert.  www.sikhara.org

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bill Weedo of MENTAL DECAY!!!

Mental Decay are 30 year NJ Punk rock vets. These guys are still hashing it out and have just released a two disc set of older material thru Working Class Records. Bill Weedo, Mental Decay's frontman and only original member, took some time out from being his bad self to talk to me about his 30 year journey.

Mental Decay is celebrating it's 30th year as a band. Did you think the project would go this far
when you started it? 

Bill Weedo: Nope. We thought the hardcore movement would last forever.. When your in a band its like being married to so many personalties that eventually theres a boiling point. We've had so many different lineups so it just takes on a life of its own. This lineup is the BEST I've ever played with and known on a personal level. So we'll ride this as long as we're having fun playing.

You recently released a two CD set of early material on Working Class Records. Tell us
about the albums and when the work was recorded. 

Bill Weedo: Our 1st release was on Buy Our Records in 1983 or 84. Then we just put out 4 singles with Headache Records from 1987 or 88 to 1992. The last one was on my label Trout Records titled "Elvis DeMilo" and that was in 94.

Mental Decay has gone thru some changes over the years. When do you feel you were most productive? 

Bill Weedo: Writing wise was definately the 90's. There was so much to draw off of and we were all in the zone. As far as performing live, it is without a doubt now!!! Its so much fun with Jack, Tommy, Greg, Mike and Jimmy. We all love the music and don't take anything for granted. Besides, we love being the old guys when we play with the younger crowds. They must look at us and wonder who brought their dads and then BANG, we fire up the Marshalls and Gibsons and school em.

Is there a strategy or method to your music? Where do you draw your lyrical ideas from? 

Bill Weedo: For me personally, I draw from my or someone elses life experiences and sometimes current events. I tend to write as a 3rd person looking at the situation from the outside. I write with irony I guess. Sometimes I'm in your face, but mostly I try to paint a picture mentally. I'll get a topic or theme and just roll it over and over in my head until I come up with a melody, or sometimes the melody comes 1st. The greatest part is Jack being able to interpret my gibberish melodies into music. 

Is there a favorite show or a memorable bill from your vast history that stands out? 

Bill Weedo: For me, I loved the CBGB & A7 shows with all the NY bands. Not too many Jersey bands were respected by them but I think we were. Agnostic Front, Crumbsuckers, Corrosion of Comformity, all great shows. But honestly, I really believe that the shows we're doing now mean more to me. Just the love and respect we got at the Stanhope House gave me chills onstage!! I'm proud to be able to still do this and having the new generation embrace us is a testiment to our music.

How are you celebrating this milestone? Most bands don't make 2 years let alone 30. 

Bill Weedo: Just playing as much as we can, reaching out to a new generation of kids.

How do you feel music rates in compared to when you first started? Do the bands work as hard in the
post internet world? 

Bill Weedo: Todays music sucks, honestly. The band names are horrible (not that Mental Decay is a great name). Its all watered down and rehashed with no true feeling and soul. I'd love to have a hit song if possible, but I write how I write and I won't compromise for success. Having said that, I also believe that the bands are good at what their playing. I see the bands now and about 50/50 work hard. Man you gotta play the dives and bust your ass in this business, and still the chances of success are slim. That's why you gotta write for yourself and what you believe in. I ain't a critic or anyone to pass judgement, its just my opinion. 

Is there any new Mental Decay songs in the works? Can we expect a new record in the future?

Bill Weedo: I'd love to get new material out. Sometimes life takes precedence over music. As soon as we have time, there will be some new material. The process of writing and rehearsing, then fine tuning a song can be time consuming. I don't believe I can write a song in 5-10 minutes anymore. This lineup deserves to put their stamp on vinyl/disc and I will do all I can to make that happen. Like I said earlier, this group of guys are the BEST I've ever played with, bar none.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ehnahre Interview

VP- Ehnahre plays some deeply disturbing music. Slow and deliberate. What is the concept behind it and

is it difficult to play at slower tempos?

Ryan - The idea behind Ehnahre was to make metal that really is truly dark and disgusting. I feel like a lot of metal bands who talk about "darkness" and "evil", are quite the opposite, playing power chords, and danceable beats. Dancing is not dark. Neither is consonance. We wanted to utilize extreme dissonance, serialism, improvisation, and a liberal usage of loose meter. Playing slow is hard, particularly when the meter is so lax, and we have to do everything by eye contact and visual cues. This also creates some difficult scenarios live, trying to watch the other guys, and do vocals at the same time.

VP- Where did the name Ehnahre come from and how does it tie into the band?

Ryan - The name Ehnahre is a sort of phonetic spelling of the letters N R. When we were in high school, we had a band named Negative Reasoning, which was taken from the title of an Eyehategod song (Non Conductive Negative Reasoning, off of the album Dopesick). Everyone called us N R for short, and now we took that, and just spelled it out. So now I guess it's just our little nod to Eyehategod.

VP - Tell me about your latest release.

Ryan - "Alpha/Omega" is a sort of concept EP. It was written based on two poems by W.B. Yeats. Side A, entitled "Leda and the Swan" is based on a Greek myth, which is often interpreted as a creation myth, the beginning of the world. Side B is called "The Second Coming" which is about the end of the world. We tried to utilize some of the imagery to text paint, and create a "vision" for these tumultuous events. We are now preparing to enter the studio to do our next full length, which will be entitled "Taming the Cannibals", and we are hoping to have it out by September/October 2010.

VP - What is a typical audience reaction to one of your performances? Do you find it more thrilling if they hate it?

Ryan - Typical reactions are confusion, people walking out of the room, and every once in a while, something in the music will pique peoples curiosity and they'll enjoy it. I guess atypically, compared to a lot of experimental musicians, I am quite troubled when people hate it, particularly if it's because they just don't understand it, don't care to try to understand it, or don't understand why we would make music like that.

VP – What plans are in the future?

Ryan -We have a new record being released in October on Crucial Blast so we're trying to finish that up right now. We're also hoping to do a lot of playing out this fall. We'll also be touring for about 3 weeks in October, and 11 days of that tour will be with PussyGutt, a drone/doom band from Boise. We'll be working on our next record after that, and hopefully going back to tour Europe in spring/summer 2011.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tom Smith

Tom Smith

VP: Immediately upon listening to you as a lyricist over the years, I’m reminded of the “beat” poets stream-of-consciousness writings. Does this style apply to your work, or does it all depend on the project?

TS: I was always much more attuned to the works of Breton, Artaud, Joans, Celine, and Pound, to name but five, than the writers lumped into the Beat bin. (Burroughs, however, was a profound early influence.) On occasion, a complete lyric will come to me in a dream. ("This Home and Fear," for example.) Other times, a title or fragment appears. But "stream-of-consciousness"? Never. Writing is for me a process steeped in rigor.

VP: That would explain your particular style of writing and word choices. In an age where the Dr Seuss school of rhyme dominates, your lyrics really stand out and challenge. Do you feel as a vocalist/writer that some times people aren't really trying?

TS: These days, I endeavor to resist the urge to critique others' efforts, at least in public forum. (I'm not always successful.) Am I rarely impressed? A fair question. (The answer, sadly, is yes.)

VP: Your no novice by any means, and have such a huge catalog of releases with many different artists. What keeps you interested in music?

TS: What keeps anyone interested in something (or someone) they love? Pleasure, intellectual curiosity, mystery, beauty, annoyance, pain, the acknowledgment of the absurdity of it all... If we're lucky, our passions engage and invigorate, in infinite degrees of ardor, until we die. I love having been born into this conundrum, and I've always felt extraordinarily lucky to have been blessed with the curse.

VP: What projects are you currently working on that you’d like to share with our readers?

I vacillate between wanting the world to hang on my every movement, and preventing anyone save for a super-dedicated few to know anything whatsoever of my efforts. The former urge is of course not just rooted in egomania, and the latter is more a bulwark than neurotic dogma.

I'd rather not mention Karl Schmidt Verlag, except to say that if people want to know more, they are invited to discover it for themselves.

As for the larger label releases and tours, there are two To Live and Shave in L.A. box sets forthcoming (this is the twentieth anniversary and final year of the group; one of the boxes is a five-disc retrospective, and the other is a three-disc remix compilation), two TLASILA live albums recorded during the 2008 European tour, a new duo album with Kevin Drumm, new recordings from Rope Cosmetology, another book, more collaborations, a trio tour, a live aktion in May from Three Resurrected Drunkards, a solo vocal tour of Europe in the autumn, etc. Always busy.

VP: The demise of TLASILA is on the horizon and another collaboration album with Sightings is forth coming as well talk of a “solo vocal” tour in Europe. It seams like a new era for ex-patriot Tom Smith. Do you plan to retire gracefully someday or will there be someone to sample and process your dying breath?

TS: TLASILA has to die so that everyone can catch up with it. (My central assertion shall thus be irrevocably proven.)

The logical successor and thematic extension of TLASILA is Rope Cosmetology. Ohne was the poison that felled the Pope, the clarion that roused me from the corporeal to the trans-temporal.

Sightings and I are very excited about recording a second collaborative album. The lads have very sharp knives up their corrugated sleeves. And I love singing stacked harmonies with the guys. (Richard and Jon also sing well.)

What is a solo vocal tour? No accouterments. No microphones. No amplification. At least half the dates will be performed in this manner.

I'm a proud expat. Once you've been disconnected from America, you never think of living there again. No place is perfect, but...

My father was singing on his death bed. I have his genes.

Not knowing is everything. There's so much I do not know. It's the sexiest place in the world to be...