chris '85

He Ain’t Heavy(He’s My Older Brother)

We have titles growing up in a household. There’s mom, dad, brother, sister, son, daughter, and even pet. I was a son and a brother in our home of four. Not only was I the brother but I was the younger brother. Yes, I have an older brother. We’re six years apart. I was born December 2nd, 1973, while he was born December 20, 1967.

My brother Chris with my mom, long before me.

My brother Chris with my mom, long before me.

Chris(as I liked to call him…and what he was named by our parents) and I, despite there being a six year difference between us got along really well. I think there was enough of an age difference that it wasn’t like I was always getting in his business or vying for the same friends or anything. I was a little tyke when he was nearing middle school, so I think that protective older brother thing kicked in. I was also sick a lot as a kid, so he saw me laying around quite a bit taking meds and generally feeling lousy. He just felt bad for me. I do remember being a runt and always knocking on his bedroom door and him letting me in. We’d sit in there and I’d watch him categorize and sift through his many collectible sports cards. When he was younger he collected stamps, but later moved onto sports cards. He had all kinds; baseball, basketball, and football. I loved going in his room and sitting on the floor and watching him go through them. I think my inclination for collecting and categorizing may have stemmed from those early days and watching Chris scrutinize over his cards(to this day he still has the cards in an extra bedroom in his home.) His true love back in his pre-teens and early teens was baseball. He played in Little League and him and my dad went to quite a few Cincinnati Reds games. I can still remember the Pete Rose poster on his wall and the “supposed” Johnny Bench autograph our Grandpa Dale got him.

Chris and I, summer of 1979.

Chris and I, summer of 1979.

While Chris honed his pitching skills on a homemade pitching contraption out in the backyard(it was a trash can hung up sideways with the opening facing out between two trees that my dad put up for him to pitch the ball into), I was indoors wheezing and sneezing, creating massive battles between the Rebel Forces and the Imperial troops on a makeshift Hoth or Death Star, usually located on the stairs that led down to the basement or under the kitchen table. I wasn’t the sporting type. I loved riding my bike, playing war in the pine forest where our house was located, or just sneaking around the woods and letting my overactive imagination get the better of me. But playing baseball wasn’t my thing. Chris and I would play miniature golf in the backyard on a makeshift single hole putt we made by raking up some pine needles, smoothing out the ground and digging a hole. My Grandpa “Hub” gave us a putter of his he no longer used and we’d share it( I still have the putter in my garage in case of some weird occasion I’ll need it.) We also enjoyed a good game of paper football on my brother’s desk in his bedroom, usually soundtracked by Judas Priest or Black Sabbath.

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Chris and I, fall of 1979.

Chris played baseball up till he was a sophomore in high school. Once he’d gotten to his junior year he said the hell with it and quit the team and got a part-time job. It’s funny, but at this point was when Chris and I began to really bond over the one constant in both of our lives: music. He told me recently that he remembered going somewhere in the family car with mom and dad when he was around 16-years old and Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” came on the radio. Hearing that song triggered all these memories of being a little kid and hearing that album spinning in the basement while my parents had people over playing pool, drinking, and partying. From that point on he seeked out Zeppelin, The Doors, Black Sabbath, and anything else that was old and loud. This was around the same time that as a 10-year old I’d discovered music myself. Ratt, Twisted Sister, Van Halen, Quiet Riot, and the like were finding their way into my ears. Besides the classics, my brother was also getting into heavy metal. He’d gotten into W.A.S.P., Dio, and Iron Maiden along with Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. Through him I was getting a musical lesson that involved the present and the past. I was still at that odd moment in growing up where I was really getting into music but still very much loving the thing my imagination allowed me to do with music and toys. Fantasy toys were replaced with more ultra-realistic GI Joe toys. Battles between GI Joe and Cobra were scored by Van Halen’s Women and Children First and Twisted Sister’s You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N Roll. I was in the fifth grade and still felt comfortable with playing with toys. It was this hyper-realized kind of playing. It was complicated, thought-out playing. I think my brother understood that and he kind of dug some of those toys I had. They weren’t kiddie toys. They were battleships and jets armed to the gills with machine guns and missles. What’s not to like about that?

Eventually I put the toys away and traded them in for a hefty cassette collection and a guitar. Chris bought a guitar as well and we began taking lessons together. Chris also had traded in sports for a job and partying. I can remember him telling me him and his other buddy Chris would get out of school during their senior year and they’d head to Chris’ house. They’d head to the basement, drop acid, and turn on Sesame Street with the volume down all the way and play Black Sabbath’s Paranoid as loud as they could play it. He also got busted for underage drinking with the same buddy at a local teen hangout called The Fun Center. It was an arcade where local guys and gals would get together and play the latest arcade games, get drunk, high, and get in fights. I can also remember one time when my brother was brought home by his best friend Brian and Brian’s girlfriend from a party. My mom met them in the driveway as Chris began vomiting in the front yard. Mom stood out there casually talking to Brian and his girlfriend, waiting for Chris to get it together enough to make it into the house(he was 21 by then, btw.)

The drug experimentation and underage drinking was never a problem. Just the usual stupid stuff people do. I never went through that experimentation. I did drink well before I was 21, but I never got trashed. And as far as getting high or taking acid it never happened for me. I was an uptight kid that played with his toys in his bedroom, and I was an uptight teenager that played his guitar in his bedroom. Getting stoned was never in my DNA. Have I gotten high? Yeah, a few times over the years. But it was never really my thing. I prefer the comforts of a hearty beer.

But enough of that. Back to my brother.

He found speed metal and shared it with me. I found grunge and shared it with him. Chris took me to my first concert. It was Joe Satriani in 1990 at the Embassy Theater in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He also took me to my second concert, which was AC/DC with Love/Hate at the Fort Wayne War Memorial Coliseum in November of 1991. We saw the Clash of the Titans tour in the summer of 1991, which consisted of Alice in Chains, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer. It was the scariest concert I’d ever been to. The first time I saw Jabberwocky, Eraserhead, Life of Brian, and The Evil Dead was with my older brother. I was the best man at his wedding(his best friend was on a US carrier somewhere in the South Pacific at the time of his wedding.)

In the late 90s my brother and his wife began building a house in the same neighborhood my wife and I lived(which was the same woods we grew up in and where my parents still live.) They were living with his in-laws during that time and Chris would come over on Friday nights, bring beer, and we’d play Need For Speed on the Playstation till 1am. He’d crash on the couch and leave early the next morning. We’d get together at his place or mine in the summer and drink lots of beer, listen to Bill Hicks albums, and talk about whatever came to mind.

Once my niece got older my brother and sister-in-law were usually taking her to soccer games, then volleyball games. My wife and I had kids of our own and those beer times were few and far between for my bro and me. I gotta admit that I miss those times, but I get it. He became the dad on the go and I was not. We’re homebodies. We like to be home, not driving all over the place. I think that’s just the way it goes sometimes.

This past Friday I get a call from Chris. My sister-in-law was at some sort of jewelry party and so my brother was home alone with the dog(my niece is now 20 and in college.) We talked about them going to see Primus in April, Metallica, Ronnie James Dio, and all the shitty hair metal bands he wasted his money on in the 80s. It was great. We talked for almost an hour. It made me realize just how much I miss those ridiculous conversations we used to have amid several beers on humid summer nights and frigid winter eves.

There was the discussion of us getting together some Friday evening for a beer. With my niece in college his weekends are a little more open. Whether it happens or not that remains to be seen. It’s just good to know we can jump back into our quasi stream-of-consciousness bizarro conversations, regardless of how long it’s been since we’ve spoke. That brotherly bond is one that isn’t easily broken.

At least between us it’s not.

Dad, Chris, and Honz, 1979.

Dad, Chris, and Honz, 1979.

Mom, Chris, and I mid-70s.

Mom, Chris, and I mid-70s.

Nineteen Years

jhubner73:

I don’t ever reblog a post of mine. Dont really see the point. But I wanted to repost this one. No one has forgotten Madelyn.

Originally posted on jhubner73:

jason and maddyThe last twenty four hours I’ve thought a lot about friendships. You go through life and create many friendships. Some are tried and true, while others are great while they last but eventually fade. I have a very small handful of friends that I’ve known and loved since childhood. I would do anything for these guys. Really. We’ve all been through thick and thin. We’ve seen each other at our lowest points and have never judged, looked down upon, or abandoned each other. And this group of friends I have, we were never some group of Three Musketeers or anything. We all interacted with each other in some way or another, but I had a very unique relationship with each of them. When it was a group of us getting together, certain aspects of ourselves were toned down a bit so as not to make the other feel left out…

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Christmas Day, 2014

FullSizeRender (15)Well the unwrapping has been done. Gifts were torn open and kids guffawed at books, Legos, movies, and the like. The dog has sniffed his last bit of ribbons and sealed candy till next year at this time. The wife and I are tired. We got up at 5am so we could get the dough going for our traditional Christmas morning cinnamon rolls. We’re tired, but it’s worth it to devour a cinnamon roll the size of my hand. That and a good cup of coffee and I’m feeling the Christmas magic for sure.

I’m anxious to try my new pour-over coffee set, as well as see my wife wearing her new shoes(she picked them out last weekend.) I’m also looking forward to heading over to the folk’s house for Christmas dinner with the family. Ham, scalloped potatoes, laughs, more gifts for the kids, and maybe even a Christmas spirit or two in the form of a rum and coke with the Kraken.

I’m also looking forward those cinnamon rolls. Wait, I said that.

Anyways, I don’t want to take up too much of your time on this day for family and eggnog. Just wanted to say I hope you all have a great day celebrating whatever you’re celebrating, and enjoy those loved ones you celebrate with.

Cheers.

Watercolor of the wife and I that I gave her for Christmas. Painted by Shane Darin Page

Watercolor of the wife and I that I gave her for Christmas. Painted by Shane Darin Page

Three Years Here

FullSizeRender (3)So it was three years ago, on December 8th, 2011, that I put my toes in the waters of this blogging ocean. Before that point I’d often thought about starting a blog. The idea of having my own space out in this digital wilderness to spout off about, well, whatever, seemed like a great idea. I mostly just wanted to write about music that I love and occasionally my own music. But for the most part this would be my chance to live out those Lester Bang fantasies without any of the drugs and degradation.

After the usual procrastination I deal with when making a big decision I said the hell with it and began the journey known as jhubner73.com. Besides, you know, marrying my high school sweetheart and having some pretty cool kids with her, I feel this was probably one of the best things I ever could have done. I feel like since I started this blog I’ve become more focused. I feel as if I have an audience to my music-loving meanderings and my general existential rants about life and what have you. I never could have imagined how important this would become to me; and the folks I’ve come to know since starting this site. As cliche as this may sound, I feel like I’ve found my people out here. People that love and obsess over music like I do. Like-minded folks, both in art and in life in general. Though we can’t get together for a few stouts at the local pub and talk trash, we can all gather here every day and comment and chat about whatever is on our minds.

Going back to that first year it’s funny and a little painful to read some of the stuff I wrote. I was still attempting to find my blogular voice. I’ve become a much more disciplined writer in the three years since I’ve started this thing. Not only that, but I’ve moved from just music reviews and nonsensical elaborations on soup for New Year’s Eve and the value of Netflix when you’re sick, to band interviews and essays about my own life and anecdotal stories about my childhood. I’ve become a much better writer than I was when I started three years ago.

Sure, it’s just a blog. But for me it’s also a bit of my identity. It’s that internal voice that used to follow me around wherever I went. That voice I kept in my skull because I had nowhere to put it. Expounding on an album I was obsessing over; or relating a childhood memory to something my son told me when I picked him up from school; or some bizarre dream I had when I was seven years old that I never forgot. This is the place for that voice. It’s no put-on. It’s not me attempting to impress a group of strangers because I’m self-conscious. This is the guy that sits in his living room and makes his kids laugh hysterically at ridiculous jokes, or cracks his wife up at a restaurant on a date night. This is the guy that sits and talks on the phone for an hour with his mom because she needs to vent, or shares one too many beers with his best friend because he’s having a hard time. No put-ons here. Just me being honest and sharing things I deem worthy to share.

I’m not ashamed to admit it, folks; I love this space called jhubner73.com. Thanks for coming by and making it more than just an online journal for my ravings. If you come by and read regularly or semi-regularly…or even once a month, thanks. I never imagined I’d be a part of a community. I just wanted some place to scream into the abyss. I wanted somewhere to direct my overzealous spittle and spite. The fact that folks from all over the world stop in and drop me a line, indulge my thoughts and opinions, and even engage me and add their own two cents, well that’s just the icing on the cake.

It’s been three years now since I moved into this place. I like it here. I think I’ll stay a while longer. You are welcome anytime. I’ll always have some beers in the fridge and some pretzels in the pantry. But feel free to bring some snacks as well. Sharing is caring.

This is the very first thing I posted on here. It’s rough, but it was a start. It was also the first music review I wrote and submitted to a local publication. It was turned down. So I wrote this for my blog a couple days after I started it. I submitted it to the same publication and it was accepted. So began my career as a published music journalist(hack.) Enjoy…and don’t judge me. Please?

 

The Night Terrors :: Pavor Nocturnus

night terrorsPavor Nocturnus is Australia’s The Night Terrors indulging their dark, occult side with brooding, lustful glee. They’ve flirted with that side of their sound on their previous records Back To Zero and Spiral Vortex, but never to this degree. On those previous records there were hints of horror, but those albums settled more in the sci-fi and space realm; they felt like progressive records scoring some lost, epic fantasy film with heavy synths and theremin. They were otherworldly and intense. But this time around galaxies and wormholes have been set aside for the macabre. Pavor Nocturnus is a dark, brooding, and intense musical journey.

The Night Terrors recorded this album thanks to the Melbourne Town Hall and their request for the band to compose a piece of music on the Town Hall’s pipe organ. This is not just some run-of-the-mill pipe organ. This is the southern hemisphere’s largest pipe organ. Standing three stories tall, this is a gothic monolith. The band had just released their album Spiral Vortex and were going to go on a tour in support of that album, but felt that this was too great of an opportunity to pass up. So they recorded the album in the middle of the night on a Friday the 13th(nice, huh?) The album’s title refers more to the fact that they recorded the record late at night, more than wanting to be spooky. But yes, Pavor Nocturnus is “The Night Terrors” in Latin.

As far as the music goes, the album is split up into two movements. Movement One is side A and consists of “Pavor Nocturnus”, “Megafauna”, “Asleep With The Bats”, and “Kuceli Woke Up In The Graveyard”. Movement Two on side B consists of “Blue Black”, “Gravissima”, “Delta Waves”, and “Spectrophilia”. Each side does feel like four distinct tracks, yet they flow effortlessly like a true piece of gothic music. Where Miles Brown’s theremin would often act as a detached voice singing a melody on previous albums, this time around it feels almost operatic. It’s sound haunting like a ghost within the walls of some long forgotten castle. The pipe organ, while a heavy hitter in the overall sound of the record, never feels overused or pushed up in the mix. It definitely acts as the foundation of the record. It gives the band a solid starting point to build these great songs. Movement One’s “Pavor Nocturnus”, while not having any sort of guitar, comes on like a doom metal heavy hitter with the pipe organ filling every nook and cranny with gothic massiveness. With the synth stabs and Brown’s theremin playing overhead, and some great drumming to keep the track moving, it’s a great way to introduce the album. “Megafauna” is as progressive as it is macabre. It’s as if Goblin came from space and not some crumbling estate in the Italian countryside to create music. It sounds like it should be the theme of Phantom of the Opera: A Space Opera. There’s a great mix of intense and subtle, with “Kuceli Woke Up In The Graveyard” ending the side on a more quieter note. Movement Two opens with the rather mournful “Blue Black”, reminiscent of Walter Rizzatti’s work on the House By The Cemetery score, and “Gravissima” continues that vibe quite wonderfully. “Delta Waves” is mournful and epic, while the closer “Spetrophilia” puts the southern hemisphere’s largest pipe organ front and center while the theremin moves along wonderfully with it.

Pavor Nocturnus is a stellar, gothic piece of music that doesn’t require a love of the macabre and all the things that go bump in the night. But if you’re like me, it definitely enhances the experience. The Night Terrors have created yet another beautiful and haunting record that should be standard listening on Halloween, or beyond.

9.2 out of 10

As an added bonus, if you were in Melbourne, Australia on Halloween you could have seen The Night Terrors perform Pavor Nocturnus live at the Melbourne Town Hall. A sight and sound to behold, I’m sure.

 

 

Hold On Hope: Fort Wayne Celebrates The Music of Guided By Voices

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by E.A. Poorman

So way back at the beginning of September Fort Wayne was all buzzing about the then just-released news that Guided By Voices was going to be donning the stage at C2G Music Hall. After years and years of heavy GBV fans in the Fort thinking there wouldn’t be a snowball’s chance in Hell the Ohio indie rock Godfathers would ever play the River City, our good friend and vinyl pusherman Morrison Agen of Neat Neat Neat Records had done the impossible. Well, it turns out it wasn’t all that impossible at all. He just asked Bob Pollard what it would take to get Guided By Voices to the Fort to play a show. That was pretty much it, really.

Not more than two weeks after the date had been set, days had been taken off of work, and dreams had been made the news broke that Guided By Voices were no more. All existing concert dates were cancelled. Hopes and dreams dashed. Then Morrison had an idea: instead of Guided By Voices performing their own songs, some of Fort Wayne’s best and brightest would perform them instead and they’d slap “tribute show” on the marquee instead. Lemons into lemonade.

Before this music crisis was averted, I wondered how Morrison got Bob Pollard’s phone number in the first place. “Bob’s been in my store a couple times”, said Morrison as we discussed the show over the phone. “Actually, the first time he came up I was on vacation, and he told me that, He drove all the way up to come see me and I wasn’t here.”

A year later Morrison said Pollard returned to Neat Neat Neat Records in search of Beatles records and he said he played it a little too cool when the GBV mastermind arrived. “So when he came in I recognized him immediately”, said Agen, “and then proceeded to promptly play it a little too cool. Like not talk to him at all and just absolutely give him his space and not even say a word, even though I’m pretty sure he knew who I was since I have a section in my store that says ‘Bob Pollard and Associated Projects.”

Back in the spring of 2014 Bob Pollard returned once again to Morrison’s shop and they got to spend a few hours just talking music. Agen said that since then him and Pollard have corresponded both by phone and email. Agen has even talked to Pollard’s wife. He has a real rapport with Pollard. On the day before Record Store Day when Bob visited the NNN Records Morrison brought up the idea of GBV playing Fort Wayne. “One of the conversations we had before Record Store Day was what’s it gonna take to bring GBV to town?” Morrison said. “He(Bob Pollard) said ‘you know I don’t think we’ve ever played Fort Wayne’.” After some prices were thrown around and logistics were discussed Morrison received a call a few months later. “So six months later I get an email from his(Bob Pollard’s) manager. We made it happen and signed the deal and started marketing, selling tickets, and all that other stuff. And then a week after we started selling tickets Bob decided that Guided By Voices was no more.”

At this point most folks would just curl up into a ball and cry themselves to sleep for about a week and then move on. Maybe occasionally look to the past and tear up thinking about what could’ve been. But you don’t know Morrison Agen. Morrison was driving around that afternoon the news broke of Guided By Voices’ demise running errands when he got a phone call about the show getting cancelled.”So later that day I was outside my apartment trying not to freak out a little bit. I live next door to Jon Ross and I saw him walking out to his car when I said ‘Hey come here for a minute,’ and told him about everything when the idea popped into my head to just say f**k it, let’s just have a party and just do a tribute show. Jon was like ‘Yes. Absolutely.'”

With C2G Music Hall having an opening on October 25th, the venue was already set for the Guided By Voices tribute show. Now all that was left was who was going to be playing? Here’s how Morrison put it, “We can get the best and brightest of Fort Wayne together and have them learn a bunch of Guided By Voices songs and we’ll just make a party of it.” That party will open with Morrison and his daughter Addison performing Guided By Voices’ “Hold On Hope”. Exterminate All Rational Thought will be hitting the stage next with Morrison helping out on vocal duties as they hit the later-era GBV material. Streetlamps For Spotlights will be up next performing songs off of Univeral Truths And Cycles, Mag Earwig, and Do The Collapse. Then supergroup Hardcore UFOs, which consists of Derek Mauger, Zach Smith, Morrison Agen, and Ryan Holquist, will be hitting the stage running through tracks from Alien Lanes and Bee Thousand. And finally, closing out the night will be Thunderhawk performing songs from Isolation Drills. As an added bonus you can snag the brand new album by Thunderhawk exclusively at this show. So get on that.

So here’s what you need to know: C2G Music Hall, October 25th, $10 at the door, and this show is all ages, folks. Come out, bring the kids, get your GBV on with Fort Wayne’s best and brightest. Oh, and don’t worry dad. You can still have a beer as there will be beer and wine available. And the rumor is that possibly Bob Pollard might actually be at this show, watching his influence and inspiration take the form of Fort Wayne bands lovingly covering his songs. But like I said, it’s just a rumor. For $10, I think it’s worth it. Do you want to be the guy at the office Monday morning that wasn’t there to see Bob Pollard drinking a Miller Lite in the crowd at C2G? While Thunderhawk is playing “The Brides Have Hit Glass”? I didn’t think so.

I thought I would end this with a few of the folks performing sharing with us what their favorite Guided By Voices albums are and why:

Morrison Agen: “You know, I don’t know if I have a favorite album but I have favorite songs that when I put on that album they make me go crazy. “Everywhere With Helicopters” is a brilliant, brilliant song. I think “Game Of Pricks” is a really, really amazing song. I think “Surgical Focus” is an amazing love song. “Game Of Pricks” is an amazing break up,’f**k you song.”

Derek Mauger: “Its a tie; Alien Lanes and Bee Thousand. And I’m super lucky those are the two albums our group is doing. Every song on those records are ear worms. GBV doesn’t waste time on verses. The songs on them are all anthemic hooks.”

Josh Hall: “If you ask any musician or hardcore music fan, they all have an album that saved them. I don’t mean that in any literal sense. They have an album that left a permanent mark. An album that consumed a year of your life. It changed the way you walked, talked, dressed; it changed the way you heard other bands. You remember what shitty beer you drank and how cheap it was, how bad your apartment smelled, that friend you used to have, that girl you thought you’d still be with today. For me that album is Isolation Drills, which is what we’ll be playing songs from.

To actually answer your question. 1- Isolation Drills is probably the closest to how GBV sounds live. It’s a straight up rock album; just two guitars, bass, drums and vocals. There’s very few overdubs/effects and zero guitar solos despite having one of the best rock guitarists at the time. Isolation Drills is my favorite album but definitely not their best. Most of the hardcore fans love the lo fi stuff. There’s an irreplaceable charm about a school teacher trying to make an arena rock album on a 4 track in his basement on the weekends, and actually succeeding.

2- it’s the only GBV album where Bob reveals anything about himself and his life. Most of the time he’s singing about robots and spaceships. I love that stuff too and I’m sure there’s all kinds of coded messages in there. I’ve been to more GBV shows than I can count on my fingers and toes and the crowd would always light up when they played something off isolation drills. Hopefully we can get out there and not butcher it too bad.”

Zach Smith: “Live From Austin, TX (Austin City Limits). It perfectly encapsulates what I love about the band. It is brilliant yet sloppy, high energy yet clearly beer-fueled, and acts as a best-of compilation that also updates some of the setlist’s more primitively recorded origins.”

Jason Davis: “What a tough request! To pick a favorite album by GBV is like choosing your favorite Kurt Vonnegut book. To name your favorite song is like deciding on the perfect James Baldwin quote. Robert Pollard and GBV are prolific. Everyone knows this. Every album is littered with true pop gems, whether they be lo-fi, noise collage, folk, pump your fist in the air arena rock, new wave, heartfelt ballad, or drunken serenade. Favorite album? I would have to point to four records that define an era. Mag Earwig, Do the Collapse, Isolation Drills, and Universal Truths and Cycles. Are these the Hi-Fi years? Yes. They are also the years in which GBV had bigger budgets, recorded in nice studios, and enlisted outside help. Was it the Ric Ocasek or Rob Schnapf productions or the fact GBV had been working toward that big sound all along. It does not matter. “Bulldog Skin”, “Teenage FBI”, “Hold on Hope”, “Chasing Heather Crazy”, “Glad Girls”, “Everywhere is Helicopter”, and many more. Great songs, great sounds, great records!”

Ryan Holquist: “Do the Collapse. Ric Ocasek reigns in people who sometimes need it, and can usually do no wrong.”

And finally, although he’s not playing that night I had to ask Mark Hutchins because he’s the guy that made me listen to Alien Lanes and love it. Plus, if you’ve ever heard his New Pale Swimmers you’d realize what a true fan of GBV he really is. “Alien Lanes. Why? It was my first GBV album. I bought it when it came out, knowing these guys were from Dayton and becoming kind of a big deal (I had to choose between Alien Lanes or a Brainiac record. Go figure). The short songs and basement sensibility hooked me right away. I had just come out of a big, loud band and was doing a lot of 4-track recording… You can imagine what a find this was. Plus, some of this stuff sounded like uncovered bootlegs of the Beatles jamming with Pete Townshend and Sid Barrett. I didn’t see GBV live until 2000, but even the most rickety songs on Alien Lanes transcended their wobbly cassette recordings; you knew these songs were huge. The arena-ready sound came to pass, but it’s no accident that a bunch of Alien Lanes tunes showed up in GBV’s (and solo Pollard’s) sets for the last 20 years. ‘And then the time will come when you motor away’.”

The Kids Are All Right: Spirits and the Melchizedek Children

spirits

Photo by Chad Hess Photography

by E. A. Poorman

 

There’s a great, cavernous sound coming from down south. It’s based in Atlanta, GA, but bellows to the far reaches of the universe. Simple, acoustic songs that swell into mammoth psychedelic swirls that will consume you if you open your minds and hearts to the concept. Spirits and the Melchizedek Children are the source of this spiritual and musical wave. Jason Elliot began this journey on his own, writing songs alone on his acoustic. Soon enough though, he’d found fellow travelers and like-minded musicians to help him spread his lullabies to eternity.

Our local psych friends and freaks Heaven’s Gateway Drugs have invited Spirits and the Melchizedek Children to the Fort to play a show with them at the Brass Rail on October 6th. Spirits’ Jason Elliot was kind enough to answer a few questions from yours truly.

EAP: Tell me a little about the band. How did Spirits and the Melchizedek Children come about? Do you have a particular interest in the Book of Genesis?

Jason Elliot: “(laughs)I guess you can say that we had an interest in the Book Of Genesis, being a subjective take on the creation of life, but I feel like it goes beyond that. Spirits started as a solo project. Back then I would take extensive amounts of heavy psychedelics in my search for some kind of secret doorway into living life to its fullest. I was eager to find something to shine away all the lonely darkness that I had created for myself. That “secret doorway” was never found, but I developed some life saving tools to help me cope. Melchizedek was something or someone that I had always heard about, and the more I looked into the word, I found that it was quite endless. Melchizedek is talked about in all sorts of beliefs, religions, the occult, and  books. It’s always referred to as a “Holder of Keys, Keys to the Kingdom” whatever kingdom that might be? Who knows. It’s similar to the idea of Alchemy. There’s no magic stone or secret formula that will change coal into gold or silver. It’s you! You are that piece-of-shit coal that needs to be turned into gold or silver. You hold the keys to whatever you desire. You just have to find a way to use them properly. Or, I can give you the shorter answer… The word Melchizedek is mysterious. I wanted that enigmatic element to connect with the post-cryptic-quasi-cultist-mystique music we make.”

EAP: Spirits’ sound is very distinct. It’s dark and cavernous, like if My Morning Jacket’s ‘It Still Moves’ was recorded by The Sisters of Mercy. What informs the sound of Spirits and the Melchizedek Children? Religion? Spirituality? Life? 

Jason Elliot: “Nice Comparison! We want to move the listener, to sooth the listener — we want to scare the listener. Life and it’s beautiful tragedies can be used as fuel for the fire. What is seen and not seen in our surroundings is our primary source of inspiration.” 

EAP: Musically where are you drawing inspiration from?

Jason Elliot: “Music that invites the listener to imagine, think and wander has always been a personal influence of mine. Anywhere from Tchaikovsky to Peter Green and God Speed you! Black Emperor to The Beatles.”

EAP: Spirits and the Melchizedek Children hail from Atlanta(Hail, Atlanta!) What’s the music scene like there? I can only imagine it’s quite diverse.

Jason Elliot: “It’s wonderful. There’s a bit of everything here. The city is large and so is the scene, but everyone manages to support and keep in touch with each other. It’s a diamond in the rough that the country should really take notice of.”

EAP: On October 6th you guys will be landing in the Fort for a show at the Brass Rail with Heaven’s Gateway Drugs. How did this show come about?

Jason Elliot: “We played with HGD last spring in Muncie, IN at BE HERE NOW. We all got along and have a similar taste in music, art and life in general. They helped us get a last minute show at O’s that same tour as we were passing through Fort Wayne. We ended up meeting Morrison Agen who owns Neat Neat Neat Records, and when we wanted to play Ft Wayne again I just made one call to Morrison and the show was booked with Heavens Gateway Drugs. We’re really looking forward to playing with them again. We love when we make new friends and things just work out when the next time you are passing though a town to play.”

EAP: Let’s talk a little about your excellent new long player, So Happy, It’s Sad. Where was the album recorded? Was it self-produced?

Jason Elliot: “We recorded So Happy, It’s Sad with Ben Price at Studilaroche in Decatur, GA. We had our songs written and ready to track, but once we got in the studio we quickly found that Ben was a lot more than just some engineer that sets up mics and hits record. The whole band had the mindset of wanting to make it a very spacious record, really capturing the overall theme of the record through depth and dynamics. Ben is now a vital part in what we do now for sure.”

EAP: Speaking of writing songs, what’s the writing process like in Spirits and the Melchizedek Children?

Jason Elliot: “Having a good communication through patience and our individual instruments is a very important part of our songwriting. Ryan, Bryan and Joe get it! I’ll always write the skeleton of the song, imagining what it needs and wants, then bring it to them to create the body with flesh and blood. It’s really quite magical every time we finish a song. Things evolve into greater things, but for the most part we communicate through feeling and a keen sense in how we feel a song should move.”

EAP: What’s the current top 5 road trip albums in the Spirits’ van?

Jason Elliot: “So many, but the top 5 as of late would have to be Dawn of Midi Dysnomia, Sunns Images du Fatur, Do Make Say Think, any album. We’ve done it once, but any more would be suicidal, but R. Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet series” (for those 4 hour DC traffic jams), Autolux Transit Transit, and Eric Satie. Really anything for those desert drives that are long and silent.”

Mark your calendars for October 6th. You need to be at the Brass Rail to see Spirits and the Melchizedek Children. They’ll be there with our pals Heaven’s Gateway Drugs. HGD will be playing songs from their new album so you’ll want to hear that. But really, Spirits’ are a band to see. Check their album out at http://satmc.bandcamp.com/album/so-happy-its-sad . Keep up with band at https://www.facebook.com/Spirits.and.the.Melchizedek.Children and at http://www.spiritsatl.com/.