Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to email@example.com.
During the summer, we taught a creative writing class. It was a pleasant enough experience, mostly because the class we taught was an enrichment course, meaning it was made up of kids that wanted to be there. A separate year we taught the CEP class. That was a totally different experience. Whereas the other summer classes all alternate with one another every hour, the CEP kids are quarantined to one single class for the entire day. It was basically us and a room full of ill-tempered gang members; we were like Sylvester Stallone in Lock Up. It was fun, but not in the traditional sense - more like fun in the "I hope I don't get stabbed at work today" sense. But we digress. In the creative writing class there was this kid named Frog, who was a bit of a puzzle. He was always just a little bit different than everyone else. When we went on a field trip to Moody Gardens the second-to-last week of the summer program, Frog refused to set foot in the swimming pool. Instead he sunbathed on a beach chair near the water with his pants and shoes on. That's just the kind of shit Frog did. But nobody could ever satisfactorily label him obtuse because he was just eccentric enough that he might have actually been a genius. That's right about how we feel with regards to the Noise genre of music. Sometimes it seems like it's little more than people sitting around banging spoons or whatever, and other times it feels like some profound, profound music. In an effort to unravel this, we linked up with SPIKE from DOGGEBI, Houston's noisy savant duo. (The other member is the super-talented Michelle Yom.) After the jump, read about Asia, child molestation as music and the proper way to determine if a noise group is amazing or awful. Rocks Off: We feel like there is a lot to talk about here, but none of it really has anything to do with anything, and that may have something to do with everything. Sorry if that comes off as a circular or confounding statement, but we've been listening to "The Drone of the Dream Itself" and now we can't stop talking like that. Also, we might want to move to Asia now. Does any of this make sense? SPIKE: Well, from the perspective of this noiz being a conversation... this makes sense. All this is an intricately woven discussion between the two instruments and their performers. As an influence on your pattern of speech... neat. But there are a lot of bits and pieces of data and streams of consciousness going on that may have woven itself into the listeners neural net.
RO: Tell us a bit about the whole noise genre. We're fairly green when it comes to that. What makes a good noise band? Is there such a thing? Or is that like asking 'What makes a good case of child molestation?"? S: The noiz genre is a very tricky beast. It really resides in the ear of the beholder. One person who likes the powernoiz of Whitehouse, Merzbow [and] Defektro may not like the noiz of COH, Aube and some of the later Coil material. There is an intent and I personally feel there is "good weird" and "bad weird." These artists and other artists in the genre have a direction or decisive factor that is their intent toward the audience. For me, it's whether or not the artist can convey that intent to the audience and if the audience can appreciate the intent. I would say that's the main factor which makes them something worth experiencing.
RO: Why is it that you spell your name with all capitals? Are you trying to challenge B L A C K I E for the "Most Inconvenient Name To Type" title? If so, we're afraid he's got you beat at the moment. Perhaps you could insert a hyphen or two. Or maybe add a few numbers, like "5P7K3"? Maybe throw an excited emoticon in there, like "SPI--:0--KE." Maybe tell people that have to change the font for each letter? Any of these sound appealing? S: Hmmm... it's just something that came about as a designation. I guess it's derived from my life always being so noizy. It's an upfront stance of what and who I am: Always noizy and plenty loud [laughs]. At least my name isn't "Einsturzende Neuabauten." It really came about from Berke Breathed's cartoon; a character by the name of BILL the Cat. I liked the fact that he was designated as to his purpose.
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RO: The main question we want to ask is this: Why? Like, what brings this kind of music out? It's probably not because you want to be great big stars - we think you both know that the odds against that are even more unlikely than a conventional musician making it big. So this whole situation is all very interesting to us. Or, at least maybe it's more pure. We're not sure. But we're definitely curious, so we assume so is everybody else.
S: I met an old jazz musician in St. Louis who said that during the '40s and '50s, the idea of making a recording never occurred to them. They just played to play, not for fame or profit. They just had to, that's all; speaking through their instrument and conversing on a higher plane. At a certain level of performance, you are actually having a conversation. Watch two guitar players sometime, even old blues guys, and one of them will play a lick and the other answers and smiles and they just told each other that they are both Buddy Guy afficionados. Look at it this way: A writer writes. A painter paints. A musician plays music. I couldn't not play noiz. It is a part of who I am. It's an evolution of such a vast repertoire of music. The two of us have an extremely diverse well of music, both studied and influence-driven, that it allows us to draw from so many places. What occurs is a dialog between two studied musicians that is dynamically driven by the moment. A conversation in real time that's everything from a screaming match to a sleepy stream of consciousness. So, the question is still "Why?". Hmmm...Because we can?... Well... OK... I think that's a bit of a hard question. It is what it is and what happens to occur. It is an extremely unhinged expression of the Id. And just what is it that drives the Id? Stay up to date on your noise - or, rather, "noiz" - news at www.myspace.com/doggebi.