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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
We're certain that a bunch of people are going to hate, deride, make smarmy remarks about and/or disregard this week's pick for Artist of the Week. And that's totally cool. Everything ain't for everybody, except maybe cheese in a can. That shit is delicious. And we suppose the criticism isn't without its merits. To say that Wall With One Side's music is a little nonlinear or a little chaotic is like saying that R. Kelly's facial hair is just a little icky-looking. The man - yes, it's one guy performing under a band's name - skirts all around the edges of noisy static. He blasts away on homemade instruments and the like. And his shows are periodically accompanied by projection shows of more apparent nonsense. But something about it is interesting, and that can not be ignored. Also, we've noticed a clear pattern that whenever people are parts of acts like this, they are almost always very intelligent, very crazy or very a-holeish. Whichever, they usually make for good interviews. So we tagged up with Wall With One Side to cut it up about a few things, namely what the hell is going on, Isaac Asimov and the greatest obscure live show in history. Rocks Off: Okay, first question: What the hell?
Wall With One Side: I prefer the German idiom "Was zum Teufel?" or the Australian phrase "WTF, mate?" Assuming this is some line of inquiry as to the nature and mission of Wall With One Side, I'll paraphrase my own press on the subject: Wall With One Side is the outlet for my percusso-centric self to approach music through the prisms of timbre, texture and harmony rather than rhythm. It is also an exercise in just how much I can accomplish as a one-man endeavor, both in performance and all the other duties making music for public consumption entails. RO: Second question: We think, hands down, you have the best song titles in the city. "Asimov Proposes a Toast," "The Sinking of the Lusitania," "Walsingham Second Eve Edit." Those are just great. How do you come up with something like "Asimov Proposes a Toast"?
WWOS: Thanks for the kind words. Being a literary dork, I take a lot of delight in classical allusion, verbal irony and unrepentant puns. "Asimov Proposes a Toast" resulted from the collision of sci-fi author Isaac Asimov, who wrote a commentary on the Bible from a secular perspective, which I found kind of funny, with the satirical essay "Screwtape Proposes A Toast" from the author C.S. Lewis. So on one level, it is a swipe at the fallout from the mid-20th century period when people were taking the secularization narrative (the notion that science and technology would inevitably supplant all forms of religious belief) as [clears throat] gospel, an article of faith I think is being disproven in every place except Europe and North America. But it also sounds like a one-sentence synopsis of some story that you then have to fill in with your own story. The listener/reader gets to collaborate with me on what exactly is represented in the piece, which I think sounds a bit like something happening out around Alpha Centauri, so there's another connection to Asimov. I think that makes for a more enjoyable listening experience.
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RO: Word has it that you've built some of your own instruments. Give us some examples of those. Like, what do you call them? What are they made of? We once built our own instrument. We called it a littlesisteriolin. It was basically just us punching our little sister in the shoulder until she cried. Do you have anything like that? WWOS: I built an instrument called The Continental Shelf from refuse gathered while working in the receiving department at the Alabama Theater Bookstop. I built contact mics that I taped onto a discarded metal shelf, which I then stood up on two big cardboard cylinders and ran through a Line 6 digital amplifier. It had the proper feedback setting to generate some pitches. I played it with two electric hair-clippers and sometimes with forks. I also have worked with an old busted stereo my friend gave me that his brother had taken apart and then put back together. He broke the CD player in the process but somehow managed to cross wires in such a way that the graphic EQ changed the pitches that came out of the stereo when I had a cable plugged into the microphone input and the headphone jack at the same time since the headphone jack was a little loose, allowing me to make stereo field switches as well. I have also used yet another cast-off stereo for sound sources. This one is special because it has a turntable but no needle, just an empty stylus. I found that I could run records under it in all manner of ways to get a variety of textures. It is especially interesting when I let it just run on top of an LP - I use a Bach Lutheran Mass LP and a Slim Thug 12" for this project; thought you'd enjoy the latter - producing a ghostly iteration of three or more grooves at once. I work mostly with laptop software these days, but that kind of exploration and playfulness fits in with my whole approach to doing this project. Yeah, it's funny to play things the wrong way, but why not? There might be some hidden avenue.
RO: How about for your next show, during the part where you play "Look Out Fer Thet Ther Wheth'r Vane" you play a whole bunch of pictures of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson on your projection screen? Then, at the very end, you show one of Master P with the word "Hamburger" written underneath him? That shit would be ill, sir. We're almost certain Ramon Medina will write that you're a genius if you do that. WWOS: I made that song by blowing really hard onto the internal mic in a PC while recording it into the cheapo Sound Recorder program, then increasing the volume about 15 times. So I can't really "play" it live, unless I was DJing a noise set, which would be stupid on my part. I had children with names like Jolene, Jebediah and Ebuzekial in mind for that piece. Mary-Kate and Ashley can't hang. As for Ramon Medina, he was actually at my first show at the old Super Happy Fun Land. I played a contact microphone on a Thomas Kinkaide popcorn tin through that Line 6. I wore shotgun headphones the whole time, with my back to the audience out of shyness. When I finished the set and looked back, nearly everyone had gone outside. It actually sounded good with the building as a filter, so I was told. When I saw Ramon several months later at the KTRU Outdoor Show, he said "Yeah, I felt bad for you at first when everyone was leaving, but then I thought 'Wait, this guy is wearing shotgun headphones!' so I didn't feel bad for you after that." I hated him for about a year until I realized he was just that way. See Wall With One Side at the rooftop of Khon's Tuesday, March 16 with Many Mansions and Great Hopes (both visiting from Boston) and local legend J.D. Emmanuel. See more of WWOS on his MySpace page.