The Anarchist Song Book

Noise musician BLACKIE searches for total freedom in music.

After the front room has emptied, after it's almost totally noiseless, B L A C K I E lifts his head slightly. He doesn't look to see if anyone is around, he just notices the silence.

He removes his glasses in the least dramatic way possible and sets them down on the floor in between the speakers.

He pulls his shirt off up over his head and sets it on top of the glasses.

The French media interviewed B L A C K I E in Paris in June, during his first trip to Europe.
Photo courtesy of Matt Sonzala
The French media interviewed B L A C K I E in Paris in June, during his first trip to Europe.

Then he kneels down and clicks on his music. And gets loud.

In 2003, B L A C K I E, then known as Michael LaCour, was an average, awkward 16-year-old. He was attending La Porte High School in La Porte doing what awkward 16-year-olds do (skateboarding, hanging out, blah). Toward the end of his sophomore year, though, things changed. He was always a promising student in school, born of a family of smart people. And that year, he got accepted into an esteemed early college admissions program (same as his older sister had).

The plan seemed simple enough, though not necessarily easy: He was to move to Denton, Texas, to finish out his last two years of high school while simultaneously completing his first two years of college at the University of North Texas. He was to live in a dorm on campus with other brainy kids his age who had been accepted into the same program, learning all sorts of life lessons about preparedness and planning. By the end of it, he was to have a strong idea of where his life was headed.

The execution, however, was less than prime.

"I didn't like it," says LaCour. "I knew I didn't like it when I got there. I couldn't find anyone to really hang out with. I wanted to be home. All the kids I hung out with there ended up being kicked out or left. All the kids that stayed were, like, real uptight."

The classes weren't too hard for him. It was the environment that felt wrong. It was too rigid, too structured. LaCour was beginning to develop his own ideals and thoughts, and for the first real time in his life, he felt what he thought it meant to be creatively oppressed.

"It was really tense," remembers LaCour. "If you got in trouble there, they just kicked you out. That was it. Some kids got caught smoking weed and got kicked out the last week of our first year. They didn't get any credit for anything. One of 'em tried to jump out of his window and kill himself. Another kid, when we got to finals, he just started running. Like, he literally tried to run out of Denton. It was super-stressful."

LaCour had seen enough. He didn't return the following year, instead opting to finish high school in La Porte. After he graduated, he left home to attend the University of Texas, a school located in arguably the most liberal and artistically expressive city in the southern United States. When he got there, it felt like the exact same thing. Halfway through his second semester, he simply stopped showing up to class.

"It just always sucked to me," says LaCour. "I felt like, 'I can't meet anybody cool; nothing here is inspiring me.'"

Multiplying his grievances with college's stiffness was a developing trauma of greater and greater worry at home.

In the '90s, LaCour's father had been diagnosed with brain cancer. Around the time LaCour left for Austin, doctors ran out of new medicines for his father to try. His condition worsened quickly and he began to wither away. LaCour came back mad and scared and sad.

"I was watching him decay right in front of me," says LaCour.

When his father passed, LaCour was rocked. He attempted to kill himself.

"The thing with that is," says LaCour, "when people try to kill themselves, they're just looking for something. It's like being an alcoholic or drug addict. They're looking for something. I was just looking for something."

He found music.

By chance, LaCour met up in Austin with a kid he'd known from La Porte. In addition to having the same regional heritage, the other kid, J.T. Jerkins, had lost his father as well. They formed a band, J.T. on the drums and LaCour as the front man (they actually courted another kid whose dad had died as well, but that particular threesome never came to fruition). Things were appropriately dark.

"Back then it was real aggressive," says LaCour of the music. "It was super-personal. Super-depressed, angry isolation shit. We didn't care. We were just trying to make the heaviest sound we could."

Even B L A C K I E's earliest music is tinged with the antiestablishmentarianism that he's feted for now, but back then things were less about that and more about releasing the rage he had in his bones.

They performed guerrilla shows, renting a generator and showing up in skate parks and parking lots and just playing as deafeningly and forcefully as they could. They experienced success locally, but when LaCour mentioned that he wanted to fully pursue music, J.T. hedged.

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Dug the article.I have seen B L A C K I E play a few times, first at Avant Garden in 2008.  I was trying to figure out what the fuck he was doing, blasting a beat machine through the PA and screaming at 10-15 kids.  When I last saw him play as the opener for Aesop Rock at Fitzgeralds, it finally clicked.  I cannot think of any other time I have seen local fans so rabidly dedicated to a local musician, and most musicians can only aspire to performing with that kind of all out commitment and energy.I'm glad this guy is in the scene, he has my fullest respect, and I see nothing but good things in his future if he stays on his current path. @b_l_a_c_k_i_e


One of the best artists I know of, local or otherwise. Perfect summation of what he does. Pure awesomeness.


Great write-up.

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