Mudboy is a madman. But that's okay. In fact, it's more than okay. It's this circuit-bent psychosis that allows him to produce some of the most out-there tones and bones. Mudboy's had past releases on Last Visible Dog (he was part of the massive "Invisible Pyramid" box) and recently, the Eagle Rock royalty, Not Not Fun, released his latest LP, done up in ridiculous and magical laser cut sleeves (it's like nothing you've ever seen). Now, Mudboy's taking his show on the road and heading out west for a month of shows. If you're in the area, don't miss ths travelling sideshow analog circus.
I have always been interested in "sound" per se. I did an audio "zine" in the mid ‘90s on cassette called "Free Matter for the Blind." This had interviews and weird things which I would later learn are called "field recordings" or "phonography." Many years later I started the zine up again on CD-R with material from my friends and now I have a pretty fucked up catalog of stuff, "Strange Sounds for Strange People." I’m more and more interested in developing this idea of a dark cinema. It comes from the idea that narrative sound stories, like radio plays, never developed the intense vocabulary of story-telling that regular movies have. Marking the passage of time, or changing point of view- or just knowing you left one place and went to another... that's all established through codes in movies –you learn them when you go to film school—but there is nothing like that sound narrative. Recording and listening to all this weird stuff, like answering machine messages and static-y television and riding around town with your bicycle dragging a mic behind it made me realize that there is a secret semiotics of sound, and of music. It’s just hard to articulate because it’s really nothing like the way people normally talk about sound or music.
When I became a musician, whatever that means, I came to it with this very Cagean idea really deeply ingrained, which is just to say that all sounds can be musical, and there is music in all sounds, if you listen long enough. Shit, I spend like 20 minutes every morning just listening to the fan in my bedroom. If I play keyboard-like things as my main instrument, it’s probably because they are the easiest thing to just sit down and make consistent, repeatable sounds at without much training, and they tend to be the easiest things to take apart and put back together.
Well, when I started playing it was really for the playing of it, not the music of it. I didn't have any training really, so I couldn't really play songs or anything. I would just sort of practice different poly-rhythms really slowly. Five stuff on one hand and three stuff on the other or something like that. Because I wasn't really concerned with the relationships of notes per se –or different keys to each other—it was a kind of meditation experience. I would play until I fell asleep usually at the keyboard. Over time I think that I became much more interested –sort of in parallel with the dark cinema stuff—with music as a way to affect the mind: how do you create different mind experiences with sound? That is still what I am concerned with: what is music really and how does it work; what’s really going on you know?
Anyway because I was playing these big electronic organs, and at the time I didn't understand I was going to have to take a chainsaw to them if I was ever going to leave the house, I couldn't really play shows for a few years. So I just worked on stuff in isolation. Luckily there was a cassette recorder built into the first organ I played, which made recording easy. The first thing I "released" was Mudboy “Volume I”, basically a one-off birthday cassette I sent to a friend visiting Poland. After that I did a few tracks for some of Brinkman's Mishmashmush comps, but the first real release was Mudboy Volume II: Resnik Loves Me, Or, Further Adventures in Space, Time, Math, and Other Inconsistencies: Experimental Organ Music for Furniture which is like 72 minutes long. Every song is twice as long as it probably should be; it’s a real sort of Raymond Scott, Soothing Sounds For Baby experience. I'd like to re-release it one day. Which would be cool because I only made like 150 copies. You can listen to some of it online on Free Matter for the Blind
I stole a jacket from a prop house in a revenge act for throwing out a pair of stilts. (Long story.) It said Mudboy on it, so I would wear that at shows. But you know as the story goes, you don't pick a name, a name picks you.
I grew up in New Mexico near the Pueblos, and we had these Kachina dolls growing up. These dolls are little versions of the many Gods that would come and visit the pueblo at different times of the year when they would do various celebrations. And there is this one character called the Mudman, and though he is kind of a clown he is also the scariest looking. His proper name is "Koyemsi." Later I learned more about him. I don't remember ever seeing him live (during the dances, people dress up as the different characters to play out parts) but anyway it’s interesting because on the eve of festivities, the Mudheads come down early to freak out the children at their houses. But during the ceremonies the Mudheads play different types of people, from the leader to buffoon. Sometimes they do games with the boys and girls in the audience, or at other times they may dance with, or against, the dance ritual, or they may go off and just play the drums. It’s a pretty interesting figure to think about –like this sort of terrifying comic relief—because you know these dances they do, they can go on for days and days. Also if you have ever spent anytime around really wise people they tend to have this bizarre humor to them; all the really good Buddhist stuff is also really funny. And in a weird way the most scary things are close to being funny too.... It’s hard to explain, but you know there is a fine line that has to do with who holds power and who is capable of surprise.
There is definitely a lot of music that inspires me for sure. I’m starting to listen to weird dub music a lot.... But the truth is, I’m not really coming at what I do from that point of view, or of music being the inspiration for making music. In fact, sometimes the more I like something the more I am careful to NOT make anything like that!
I guess that I am coming more to music from an artist’s or scientist’s point of view. I mean, what I am really turned on by these days is making my own sauerkraut and booze.... I guess what keeps me rooted is this idea that there was a time when being an artist, or a performer, or a scientist or a priest or a doctor...that these roles weren't so clearly defined as being different, and that as you look farther into our collective past, that these roles slowly become one role. If anything, I am inspired by the potential for that.
This came from a conversation I had with Twig Harper (Nautical Almanac) who is an old buddy (and also by the way the guy who convinced me to chop my organ in half- so to speak- to get it out the door.)... just talking about the stuff we were doing which was making instruments and playing home-taught music to a generalized crowd outside of, you know, "venues." And you know, that’s folk music in its most traditional sense. It’s a proud tradition.
Honestly, I was trying to come up with a new kind of musical attitude: "Doom Dub".
I wanted to make the most terrifying album I could. The whole thing is very carefully articulated. The full title is "Hungry Ghosts! These Songs are Doors." It’s designed that way, as if you were waking from a series of dreams, one inside the other. The album is –the LP anyway—like an hourglass. The first song, it’s like an introduction, the incantation, and from there you are pulled through one space to another till the side ends. Then silence –flip the record—and then you are awakened and pulled back "up." I had Peerless master each song separately so that they all sounded different too.
The Hungry Ghost is a Buddhist character. They aren't really that dangerous, mostly gross, and you don’t want to be like them. They are always needing things and are hungry, insatiable, but you have a duty to feed them periodically. Leave them little things to eat –not to exorcise them, understand—but to recognize them and accept their existence. Making this album has to do with that, with feeding something, something we need to feed periodically.
I worked closely with an artist in town named Jim Frain. He does paper cuts by hand as his work and I have always liked it. It also fit with the theme. And it rules. It’s something I wanted to do from the very beginning, so it’s cool it actually happened.
Imvated (became Bread and Animals) in Belgium wanted to do something with me, an LP, and I was pretty excited, but I was finishing the Hungry Ghosts stuff and wasn't sure I would have enough material. I heard Eva [Orphan Fairytale] play in Providence and was really excited about what she was doing. I rarely play out with anybody –I just don't think I am very good about it, or maybe the vocabulary I am using just doesn't make any sense to most people—I don't know, but when I heard Eva, I was like, “yes!” immediately. I felt like she would understand what I was working with. So I proposed that she do this B-side with me for the LP. It was crazy; we did it over the Internet! We never even had played together. We just tossed tracks back and forth and I mixed them down here.
But when I went to Europe that fall, we finally got to play together and it was pretty freaking amazing I think. There is a super recording we did at a radio station in Antwerp that Dennis Typhus has. He'll probably release it in like 2055 when we are old people.
USAisaMonster happened the other way: they were old friends first and Colin just got a tape-dubber. He needed something to make for the other side of a Kites collab, so we just fooled around and I edited it down. I don't think anyone expected it to be as good as it turned out. Then I went a little nuts on the cover art. (It glows in the dark, too, by the way.)
Producing and mixing the Orphan Fairytale/Mudboy collab really turned me on to how interesting that work can be. I think for example that a lot of my ideas about music can be applied without me needing to write every note... or any of them really. So I started this new project called MDMX or "Mudboy's MudMux." It’s going to a series of seven-inch’s that I produce for other bands. They are essentially somewhere between extreme remixes and aggressively produced music.
The first one is done. The A side is based on an Extreme Animals midi file I found on a Floppy disc from years ago. (I'm going on tour with the drummer David this fall; I hope he doesn't mind I replaced him with Animal drumming, ha).
The B-side is a recording I made of the accordion player from the punk gypsy band Dark Dark Dark. They both have been really heavily mudmuxed, time-stretched and generally extremely fucked with Of course the seven inch isn't ready yet but you should be able to get it from DNT Records pretty soon. I am silk-screening the covers with my friend Kevin Hooyman; they should be pretty good. The second seven inch, I don’t have a label for it yet but the plan is for USAisamonster on one side and Man Beard on the other. This one will really be sort of dub-themed.
I love that when you tour your life becomes very very simple. Sleep; eat; play music. It’s a great way to be. I have never toured on the West Coast –it wasn't until this year my instruments became small enough that I could get them on a plane—so I’m pretty psyched. Also, good travel mates: Lucky Dragons and David from Extreme Animals as “Fortress of Amplitude” are both friends.
The bummer is that I can’t post the dates yet on my site so go here
if you need to see where I'll be.
Shit okay- I have to get going, I am meeting a friend about doing a pipe organ and electronics tour. Anyone with a pipe organ write me! Thanks.
West Coast tour dates:
+++ALL DATES SEPTEMBER+++
7th-friday -CONFIRMED at the smell-LA
8th-saturday-CONFIRMED at echo curio- LA
9th-Sunday-CONFIRMED on the veggie bus parked at dolores park
in SF in the afternoon
11th-Tuesday-possible /davis AND/OR play on the radio
in davis at midnight
12th-Wednesday-CONFIRMED at rererato in portland w/ghosting
14th-Friday-CONFIRMED at dearborn on woodland in seattle
15th-Saturday-CONFIRMED at the artistery in portland
16th-Sunday-starving weirdos trying to set something up in arcata
17th-Monday- SF HOUSE ZONE KITCHENFUNTIMES
18th-Tuesday-almost confirmed in SLO at the yoga studio...
19th-Wednesday-CONFIRMED house show in las vegas<<
20th-Thursdau-CONFIRMED at trunkspace in phoenix
23-27 vacation ?????
28th-Friday -CONFIRMED--mudboy/ld's at high energy constructs (early show) and the smell (late show)
UP-TO-DATE shows HERE
-- Brad Rose (5 September, 2007)