Archive for June, 2010

Transmission 6.29.2010

Posted in The Trip with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2010 by everythingwentblack

I’ve been meditating on La Gritona and Slaughter Shack, two old Boston bands that most people probably haven’t heard of. Both bands thoroughly blew my mind back in the day. I think I first witnessed Slaughter Shack back in ’89 or ’90 when I was finishing up college at Boston University. I remember seeing the bassist and singer hanging around New England Comics and this dude named Ken that I knew told me they were in a band called Slaughter Shack. I went to check them out felt like I had experienced something that was new and fresh to me at the time. You could say that they were a “Metal Band” but there was also this really depressing intensity that made me think of the early Swans. The focal point was the singer, this shirtless Axel Rose-looking guy, with a stentorian voice, going off. He was probably about 140 pounds but there was no doubt in my mind that he could kick my ass. I think they broke up in ’91 or ’92 with only a demo, split 7-in and a handful or compilation tracks to document their existence.

A few years later, La Gritona surfaced featuring the same shirtless madman on vocals, the drummer from Eye For an Eye and these two other dudes that I’d never seen before. The singer had cut off his hair and seemed more focused; his trip was more thought-out, developed. The band was tight as hell, sounding like the best of the Amrep catalog infused with Black Flag discordance and seriously dark, relentlessness that transcends punk, metal, hardcore…whatever.

Tortuga Records is releasing a La Gritona discography; hopefully it’ll be out this summer. Buy it!


Transmission 6.24.2010

Posted in The Trip, Tombs with tags , , , , , on June 24, 2010 by everythingwentblack

Part 2 of my interview with Aaron Turner was posted today on

Last night was the final Isis show up in Montreal. There’s a certain poignancy to that, because their first show was in Montreal at the Underworld. I remember working on their demo with them at Salad Days Studios up in Norwood, MA talking about the show. That was an interesting time for me; I had just started playing in Anodyne and was enjoying an incredible feeling of freedom because it seemed like a lot of the bands that I dug were starting to do really cool things.

It doesn’t seem that long ago until you count the years and look at photographs of yourself from back then and suddenly it feels like a lifetime has passed. That’s was life is: passing time hoping that the good times are more plentiful than the bad times.

Last night, I thought about those guys up in Canada, setting up their gear, sound checking and then playing their last set. When it was around 23:00, I wondered if they had played yet. I’ve never had a “Last Show” or “Farewell Tour” so I can’t imagine the feelings that those guys were having. It made me think about how Anodyne broke up; the three of us met at McCarren Park, decided to end the band and I watched Joel and Josh walk away.

Transmission 6182010

Posted in Uncategorized on June 18, 2010 by everythingwentblack

Part 1 of my interview with Aaron Turner is up.

Transmission 6.16.2010

Posted in The Trip, Tombs with tags , , , on June 16, 2010 by everythingwentblack


I finished the transcription of my interview with Aaron Turner last night at about 01:00.  I was up by 05:30 and out the door by 06:15.  I’m bone tired today; I haven’t had a proper day off since before the Isis tour.  When we wrapped up those dates we headed out for three days opening for the Eyehategod, Brutal Truth, Nachtmystium tour.  Looking back on it, I probably should have declined to do the dates; too many bands and we had to go on way too early.

I sent the edit of the interview off to Fred at BrooklynVegan; he seemed stoked and indicated that he’s going to be kind with the editing sabre. The original transcription was over 9000 words long.  I was able to edit it down to just over 7000 words and Fred will most likely be able to trim it down a bit more.  Listening to the audio of our conversations put me in a strange mood; even though it was only about two weeks ago, it felt like an eternity has passed since we spoke. Life is so different on the road than off the road and the conversations were captured during some brief periods of downtime during the tour so maybe that’s what I’m responding to.

Those guys will be in town in a few days and I’ll be going to their show in Brooklyn. It feels like an era is about to end in a literal way because Isis is breaking up but also in a more esoteric way.  They’ve been a band for almost 13 years and to me, I think they serve as a connection to the old world of the late-90’s, a period of time that was very important to me. It feels like the world is changing.

Transmission 6.09.2010

Posted in The Trip, Tombs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2010 by everythingwentblack

We’ve been back for a couple of days.  The plane arrived at JFK at around 00:30 on Monday morning  and Mike Wilson met us at the terminal, a few hours later I was on my way to work.  Whenever I’m away, even if it’s only for a week, I feel like everything went to Hell while I was gone.  I get that intense anxiety about coming back, but when I arrived at the office, nothing had happened.  The same people showed up at the same time, the coffee still sucked and everything was routine.  A few people welcomed me back, nobody asked what I had been up to.

I started moving into my new apartment.  Last night, I loaded in the mattress that I sleep on, the duffel bag that contains most of my clothes, coffee maker and some various odds and ends.  I sat in the empty apartment and enjoyed the silence. I’m paying a little bit more than I had originally anticipated on, but I suppose that I’m paying extra so I can be alone and not have to live with anyone and that is worth it to me.  It’s not that I don’t like people; there are really good people in my life at this point, but I like coming home to an empty room.  It felt as if a massive weight had been lifted off of me.

Rehearsal tomorrow night and then we ship out for the dates with Eyehategod on Friday.  It should be an interesting experience playing with that many bands. I’m looking forward to seeing Nachtmystium, this will be my first time checking them out.

That will be the last shows until August when we do the tour with Planks.  That’s all booked and the dates will be posted early next week. I’m looking forward to getting out on the road with those guys.  The tour is going to be another short run, about 12 days, but I’ll take that over not being on the road.

After that, the next big task is recording the new LP.  We’re shooting for October production and a February 2011 release date.  John Congleton is on board to helm the controls this time around.  He recorded the last Baroness album, “Blue” which we’re all fans of. I’m interested to hear what he does with us; we’re probably the most overtly “metal” band that he’s worked with.  The summer will be spent preparing for the session.  We have a lot of work ahead of us on that front.

Transmission 6.6.2010 Isis, Tombs, Jakob West Coast Tour Journal

Posted in Tombs with tags , , , , , on June 7, 2010 by everythingwentblack

5.29.2010            07:31     Baltimore / Washington International Airport

We’re waiting at the terminal to board our first of two flights that will get us to Portland. Gordon and Betsey let us crash with them at their hotel room after MDF.

The set went well, we played a little short, but I was anticipating more set up time with the backline gear.  I have to admit, the whole thing went off really well despite the sheer number of bands that played.  This was my first experience with Maryland Death Fest, so I didn’t know what to expect.

We got here at 06:00, checked in and made our way to the gate.  I secured some half-way-decent chow and coffee at one of those terminal restaurants.  There’s a group of Marines on our flight.  It makes me think of the kids that came to our shows in Europe.  They look uncomfortable and out of place in their brand new civilian clothes.  I can’t even begin to understand what’s going on in their heads.

The Communion opened the show, which carried kind of a heavy tone for me because Lee wasn’t on stage with them.  They sounded great even as a four piece.  I’m not sure what their status is, whether or not that was their last show or if they’re going to go on as a band.  I hope that they continue on in some form, even if they change the name.  It sounds trite expressing it this way, but I think Lee would want them to continue on.  They worked hard, overcame some lineup setbacks and forged themselves into a solid band, so I hope they continue.  Defeatist were awesome, it was good hanging with Josh and those guys for a while.  I miss the time we spent playing in a band, but I know that is in the past.  Sometimes, my memories are clouded and I remember things being a lot better than they really were.  Sometimes, I wish we could have kept the band together but I know that’s just my mind fucking with me.

Dave Witte was there to play the first and only Birds of Prey show.  As usual, it was a pleasure hanging with Dave.

We ship out soon.

5.30.2010            Portland, OR     09:57

I just woke up, yesterday was a long day.  We landed at PDX yesterday at about 12:30, a full 40 minutes ahead of schedule.  The flight was uneventful; I unsuccessfully attempted to fall asleep several times during the fight, so I started reading “Matterhorn” this novel about Vietnam War but that wasn’t quite engaging me.

We picked up our gear at the baggage claim and met up with Jimme, the guy who’s going to be driving us for the tour.  He seems cool; aside from driving, he’s a backline technician and has toured with Destruction, Dethklock and a bunch of other big bands, so he’s got a lot of experience and knows the drill with respect to being on the road.

We drove out to pick up the gear at this dude named Erik’s house.  Will Lindsay and Aaron from Wolves in the Throne Room were kind enough to let us use their gear for the tour.  Also, Isis made their cabinets available for everyone to use.  Without this kind of cooperation we wouldn’t have been able to do the tour.  I began to unclench, it seemed like everything was going smoothly.  I fell out during the drive out to Eugene.  It was more like a blackout where your body just shuts down for a while.  I woke up in the front seat and we were about 10 miles outside of Eugene.

Isis and Jakob were at the venue loading in when we got there.  I was awesome seeing those guys again, the Jakob people seem like cool guys as well.  Our load-in was pretty easy, we only have merchandise, guitars, three amps and some miscellaneous other gear to bring in.  The venue, Wow Hall, was a community center with this DIY vibe to it, but I saw on their schedule that a lot of fairly big performers played there.  The stage sound was kind of weird, but it sounded good out in the room.  It took a while to get our gear dialed in; that’s always the case when you’re not using your own equipment.

It felt like the day was going on and on, but suddenly it was set time, suddenly, the night was here.  Time seemed be stretched due to the flights and time zone changes.  The set was good despite a couple of technical issues.  Tonight will be better, I’ve had more sleep and the unknowns will be minimized.

I’m listening to the Honeywell discography on my iPod.  I think it’s time to wrangle up some coffee and get into the day.

5.31.2010            Olympia, WA     09:11

We played at the Capitol Theater last night in Olympia. A lifetime ago when I played in a band called Otis, we played here but the show was in the backstage area.  It was our first tour and we were stoked to be on the road and playing on the West Coast.  I think about 8 or 9 people were at the show.  Hopefully tonight will be better. I was talking to the Isis guys and they also played in the backstage area on the Cave-In tour back in the late 90’s.

There’s something about towns like Olympia, those stoney college towns in the Northwest.  Maybe it’s the rain and the free-and-easy lifestyle, but it seems like everyone’s synapses are firing at a much slower rate; rain and lethargy. It seems negative around here, like there’s a lot of depressing drug use going on.  I’ve been approached by several people asking for money. After load-in I went out to eat with Harris, Jeff Caxide, Greg Moss and Jeff, the  guitarist from Jakob.  I don’t laugh like I laugh with Aaron Harris and Jeff Caxide, I miss having those guys in my day-to-day life. It makes me forget how brutally routine and depressing my life back in New York is, I feel like I never laugh when I’m there.  I’m thinking about how this is it and how even though we’re close friends, this perspective will change; we won’t be traveling together in a tour setting anymore.  I want to remember these moments.

The Jakob guys are cool.  They’re a good band and really outstanding guys.  I had a long discussion with Jeff  last night after we played about his reflections on the US and how totally obsessed with money the majority of Americans are.  He was blown away by the sheer number of homeless people that he encounters in the US.  Apparently, the New Zealand government takes care of it’s people, nobody is homeless.  I told him that’s not the case over here: the US government is a beast that grinds it’s citizens into meat to sustain it’s mission of greed.  You can feel it when you go to Europe as well that most of our countries problems stem from greed and the importance that is placed on money.  Maybe it’s because the US is comprised mainly of immigrants that were searching for a better life.  It’s hard to say I suppose.

I had more technical problems.  It was one of those nights.  It felt like I standing in front of a void last night.  There was a sea of blank, emotionless faces and darkness behind them.  It made me wonder why people even bothered to leave their homes.

Oscar, the old bassist from Wolves in the Throne Room let us crash at his place.  His band Christian Mistress opened the show.

5.31.2010            Vancouver, BC   20:13

I’m sitting backstage listening to the demo of “To Cross the Land”.  I’ve had some trouble with the intro and my delay setting so I want to make sure I have the tempo dialed into my head before we play tonight.

The drive up was pretty uneventful; we crossed the border at around 14:00 without any problems.  We had all of the paperwork in order so the whole thing took about 30 minutes.  I haven’t been to Vancouver in many years.  When we entered the city, it was clean and orderly with café’s and nice restaurants lining the streets.  Slowly the neighborhood changed and the buildings became more rundown.  Apparently the venue is in the “Heroin District” where all of the methadone clinics and needle exchange spots are located.  Brad Bison BC met up with us and we went out for sushi in a different area.  He works in this neighborhood so he gave us the lowdown.  Junkies can come here and pickup their works no questions asked.  It looked like a rough area, even in the daytime.  People roamed the streets like zombies; you can see the desperate misery in their eyes, no life, just an obsession to subsist.  I would choose death.

When we left the venue we walked past an old man smoking crack and this other dude getting his dick sucked by a woman behind a dumpster.  The woman sucking the dude’s cock had another woman working as lookout.  She informed us that we could have our cocks sucked for $5.00 each.

6.1.2010                              Seattle, WA         20:34

I’m hanging out in the band room at the venue.  I started the interviews with Aaron Turner earlier; we knocked out a good portion of it before he had to sound check.  We got some good conversation in.  I want this to be a solid effort out of respect for our friendship.  I owe it to him and the rest of the guys in Isis to try and capture these final moments of the band.  Over the years, these guys have helped me out immensely on a person level as well as with the various bands that I’ve played in.

Last night was a good night; aside from some technical problems, I felt like we played well.  It took a while to get the gear figured out but now I feel fairly set with everything.  I’m finally used to hearing my guitar coming through Will’s gear.  The crowd in Vancouver was really cool to us.  I understand that we’re playing to Isis fans and that what we do may not resonate with them so whenever I feel positive energy from the crowd, it means a lot to me.  I’ll take where I can get it I suppose.

We hung with the Bison guys last night; it was great seeing them again.  We crashed at the house were Brad and James live.  Dan and his lady hung out at the show, but due to work responsibilities in the morning, he couldn’t hang out late.  I spent a long time talking to James.  They’re another solid bunch of guys that work hard.


Isis is playing right now, they sounds great as usual.  Every night they’re consistently solid.  It’s starting to sink in that this is going to be the end of the road for them.  After this run of dates down the West Coast, there’s a short east Coast run with the Melvins and their final show, forever, is going to be in Montreal.  It’s been almost 13 years, a good run.  I remember when they formed back in 1997; they’ve always been this presence. Now it’s coming to an end.  On different occasions, I told Jeff and Harris that it means a lot to me that they thought to include us on this last journey.

The set went well; I felt like we played good.  The sound on stage was solid and I was able to really dig into the music and get deep.  I’m not sure if the sedate, Seattle crowd dug us or not.  It’s always hard to tell in this town because people are so reserved.  There was a small group of young men going off hard; I kept my eye on them because it seemed suspicious to me, like it was some kind of joke to them.  I don’t know.  It’s not a joke to me.  This is pretty much all I have in this life.

6.2.2010                              Seattle, WA         09:23

We stayed with Andrew’s friend Spider last night, in his loft out in this industrial area of Seattle.  He and his girlfriend have been living here for about a year and have spent the entire 12 month period building it out and renovating.  It’s an amazing place and the most interesting part is that almost all of the materials were found items in dumpsters.  They had very little building experience and learned how to do it all on their own.  I could tell he was proud of it by the way he emphasized that they weren’t carpenters.  Aside from the accomplishment of building the place out on their own, it’s a really comfortable.  Spider and his girlfriend are both artists so there is tons of artwork hanging up in a small gallery by the entrance.  He told us that the gallery is open to the public once a month for art walks.

It’s typical Northwest weather right now, dark and rainy.  People are starting to wake up.  I’d like to hit Portland earlier today so I can check out Powell Books, a place that has been on my radar for several years but I haven’t been able to go to.  The Portland runs have usually been very tight schedule-wise.  Also, I’d like to get deeper into the interviews with Aaron.

I don’t really know what to make of Seattle.  I used to enjoy coming here, but now it’s just another town on the schedule.  I ran into Dave and Ben Verellen last night.  Ben used to be in Harkonen and Dave was the singer in Botch.  I never really knew Dave that well back in the day, but he came up and introduced himself to me last night.  He seems like a good guy; his new band Narrows is pretty kickass.  Sean Albert, someone I’ve known for a good many years was also at the show.  He and Aaron Harris used to be in a band called Loga back at the dawn of time when I lived in Boston.  I met both of those guys when Otis played a show in Old Town, ME and we’ve been friends ever since.  Sean has been living in Seattle for the past several years, it’s actually been quite a while since I’ve seen him.

There’s only a few dates left on the tour.

Portland, OR     20:14

I’m hanging out in the green room.  The place we’re playing at is tripped out.  It looks like the inside of the Great Northern from Twin Peaks, there’s a lot of wood and red lights.  They run a tight ship here: when we loaded in, the stage manager was immediately on top of everything.  It felt like a European venue.  The venue is part of the Jupiter Hotel, which has this kind of “Rock ‘n’ Roll” vibe, offering a discount on the rooms if you’re in a band.  How cool is that?

After load-in, I took a shower, shaved and crashed out for a while in the room.  We have some time before we play.

The ride down was uneventful. It rained the whole way.  I feel heavy today, like I’m carrying a weight.  I’m working through a lot of personal issues.  Maybe it’s because my birthday is coming up in a few days, but I’m getting introspective and the concept that I’ve somehow been living my life the wrong way is creeping into my brain.

I’m listening to the Triptykon record.

6.4.2010                              San Francisco, CA           17:57

Aaron and I finished the interview earlier on.  I think it turned out well; my one goal was to avoid the clichéd things that most interviews fall into.  Along the way, Aaron said some really nice things about me that won’t make it to the final transcription edit.  It would seem kind of self-congratulatory and crass to include that kind of thing in an interview with him.  Nonetheless, it was something that I took to heart.

Last night we were on our own in Chico.  Isis and Jakob had the night off, so Gordon reached out to these dudes in a band called The Makai and they organized a show at a place called Monstro’s Pizza.  It was a total D.I.Y., no-frills kind of thing, everyone was really cool and I think we played really well.  The Makai were killer, the kids were real nice and the pizza wasn’t half-bad for Cali.

I vaguely remember playing the set in Portland.  The place was packed, but I never know if we’re reaching the Isis fans.  I imagine that it’s similar to opening for Slayer, where kids just want to rock out to the headliner and aren’t interested in seeing anyone else.  I think we played well so that’s what I’m going with.  Matt Jacobsen and some of the other Relapse guys were there.  I haven’t spent a lot of time around him, but I was relieved that he liked our set.

The Doug Fir and Jupiter Hotel get the thumbs up from me.  The only stressful situation was the soundman that mixed us was one of those guys that want to make it about him instead of the band that he’s working with.  He took way to long to get us happening and it felt like an eternity, standing on the stage in front of a sold out crowd while he line checked us.  At the end of it, his voice came over our monitors declaring that he was awesome.  Other than that, the night went off rather well.

Tonight we’re at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.  It’s a beautiful theater with really cool people running the show.  I doubt that we would have a chance to play a place like this if it wasn’t for this tour.  It’s unnerving how cool everyone is at this establishment.

Tomorrow is the last day.  I feel like it’s just getting started and now it’s time to say goodbye.  I feel heavy thinking about the concept of no longer being able to see each other in the context of being on tour together.  There’s a lot of history between us all and it means a lot to me that they invited us along on this tour.

I always imagined that Isis would be around forever and turn into this kind of Grateful Dead thing where kids would follow them around and a whole subculture would develop from seeing them live and trading bootlegs of their shows.  They already have that kind of tripped-out, jammy vibe.

There’s a new pot of coffee brewing.  I’m on cup Number 2.

6.5.2010                              Modesto, CA      09:46

I’m sitting in the lobby café of the hotel we stayed at last night.  Apparently the breakfast is not complimentary.  After the show, we drove for about an hour of a half to chip away at today’s drive down to L.A.

I felt like we played well last night.  The American Music Hall is an amazing venue; you can’t go wrong if you play there or at Slim’s, the other venue that they operate. The front of house sound, monitors, management and in-house catering are totally on point.  It’s hard to tell if we’re reaching the Isis crowd; there were a lot of blank faces in the crowd when we played, nonetheless, it’s an honor to be out with these guys on this last run down the west coast.

We have a few hours on the road until we get to L.A. then we fly out tomorrow.

6.6.2010                              Los Angeles, CA                              10:34

I’m kicking back at Thompson’s pad in Silverlake.  I woke up about an hour ago and walked with Nick to Intelligencia Coffee to fuel up on some caffeine.  I dig L.A. but I can see it getting to me after a few days.  Like New York, there’s a “fabulous” element to it that wears me out.

We played at the Troubador last night to a sold out crowd of Isis fans.  I think we played well and the sound was great but for the most part, it was a sea of blank, disinterested faces.  I’ll take that over being home, but there were times when I would have liked to have put my foot through the face of some of them.  For example, the guy that was looking at his watch and talking to his friend; it would have been fun to smash his teeth out.

It was cool hanging out after the show; everyone was in good spirits, I’m going to miss being on the road with these guys.  I haven’t really worked with the concept of Isis, as a band, not existing anymore.  It feels like a door has closed on a really important era.  We’ll all stay in touch, but that chapter of touring together is over.  They are some of the best people I know.

Today is my birthday.