Lavender Flu is here to annihilate, wait, that came out wrong, I mean to heroically exist peacefully and therefore live at the highest state of consciousness, ceaselessly inventing and causing no harm. Simply illustrating the joy and beauty and pain and puzzle of life collaterally improving whoever’s not too busy to listen. We’ve heard enough music made by people who just want to, these leash-less freaks have to. Like food or books or life, maybe music isn’t always supposed to be easy to digest, sometimes it’s supposed to make you smarter. Home recording is the final frontier of music and the term ‘lo-fi’ is class warfare. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell you digital recording equipment or has sponsored SweetWater advertising on their page…
A SIGNPOST TO A NEW SPACE.
- This is an interview with Chris Gunn and Scott Simmons from the Lavender Flu. Some other people also contributed. Part of it was written in 2016 when the Lavender Flu’s first album (Heavy Air) came out and part of it was written in 2020 when their fifth album (Tomorrow Cleaners) came out. We start off with Scott and Chris talking about the songs…
"Through a Mouth of Wings" -
Chris (2020): Hot dogs are burnin’ if you want one…
"Child’s Song" -
Chris (2020): The Ooloi Nikanj covering the Murray McLaughlin song in the style of Tom Rush. When my brother and I visit our Mom she inevitably forces us to sit and play the Tom Rush version of "Child’s Song" and starts crying which makes me choke up and the cycle repeats.
"Wrong Womb Pt. 1" -
"La Bas" -
“What twisted people we are. How simple we seem, or at least pretend to be in front of others, and how twisted we are deep down. How paltry we are and how spectacularly we contort ourselves before our own eyes, and the eyes of others...And all for what? To hide what? To make people believe what?” - Roberto Bolaño
"Atrial Flutter" -
Chris (2016/2020):Heavy Air began to solidify in 2009 with a trip to Lagunitas, California to buy a Tascam 244 four track from a guy who lived in the woods out there. I was living in San Francisco and I didn’t have a car so my friend gave me a ride. He showed up still wasted from the night before and drank a six pack while he drove. This memory is a fitting representation of what making that album was like; you are trying to move forward but a constantly drunk person is taking you there so forward and there become blurred and questionable. An atrial flutter is an abnormal heart rhythm. This song is the isolated keyboard tracks from the last song on Heavy Air. Those tracks were run in reverse through delay and reverb. At some point in the 6 years it took to make that record my good friend Adam Stonehouse came over and played the original keyboard part. He was one of many friends that helped me through that time. Adam showed me the benefits of home recording and he was a huge inspiration in my desire to make an album that I recorded myself. "Atrial Flutter" is the central musical theme in reverse. The friend that drove me out to Lagunitas passed away recently. He was a good person and I will always remember the times we shared as unique and filled with kindness. After we got the 4 track we stopped at Stinson Beach and I remember him kneeling in the fog telling me stories and trying to get me to drink beers with him. It was one time in my life that I really did not want a beer and it was very easy to refuse.
"R.I.P. in the SKY" -
“All that you touch You Change. All that you Change Changes you. The only lasting truth Is Change. God Is Change.” -Octavia Butler
"Coke Sunday" -
(From a review of Heavy Air by someone with username CW553): " 'Experimental' This is not experimental music. This is noise for the sake of noise. Many of the "songs" have little structure; something that is fine, but they don't go anywhere. A good chunk of the songs are just noises, none of which contributes to a compelling atmosphere. Even then, the album still manages to be kind of dull.The actual tracks on this record (i.e. the ones that try to be songs) are unmemorable, bland, and marred by some rather poor singing. There are some interesting bits here and there, and some of the tracks would actually be close to good if the singing was better, but as is, this is a rather weak album. I'd suggest not bothering."
"Reflection Waste" -
Scott (2020): Proto NORM WAVE from the future - starring Bruce Russell as My Man Jeeves.
"Slow Through the Ruins Sail" -
Chris (2020):Tomorrow Cleaners is a record started in 2010 and finished in 2020. It is a collaboration between two very different versions of the same people. This idea of musical “jamming” with the self across time is central to defining it. Most of the music was recorded by us back in 2010 but the songs were mixed and most of the lyrics were written and sung in 2020. In this way, it is old and new music. Each version of ourselves added qualities, learned and forgotten, that the other could not. Tomorrow Cleaners is not an album documenting a sound we used to have. It is a sound made by communication across time and it is very much a lost second record as well as thoroughly our fifth record and a perfect depiction of where our music is right now and has always been. We had originally planned these songs to come out as our second record but I had to take a ten year break from recording and mixing because the idea of it completely overwhelmed me after the process that went into Heavy Air.
"Mow The Glass" -
Scott (2020): When we wrote this song, we knew we had to make an album first, to get the word out - about this song that was on deck. We wanted to get as much advance notice out there as we could. The fact that the song was written after the album was recorded is irrelevant. In some way, we knew what was coming and knowing what we now know - we did the right thing.
"Leaking Past" -
“My face is tired, talk to my ass.” - Seymour Glass
"Telepathic Axe" -
HOW TO PLAY GUITAR
by David Fair
“I taught myself to play guitar. It’s incredibly easy when you understand the science of it. The skinny strings play the high sounds, and the fat strings play the low sounds. If you put your finger on the string farther out by the tuning end it makes a lower sound. If you want to play fast move your hand fast and if you want to play slower move your hand slower. That’s all there is to it. You can learn the names of notes and how to make chords that other people use, but that’s pretty limiting. Even if you took a few years and learned all the chords you’d still have a limited number of options. If you ignore the chords your options are infinite and you can master guitar playing in one day.
Traditionally, guitars have a fat string on the top and they get skinnier and skinnier as they go down. But the thing to remember is it’s your guitar and you can put whatever you want on it. I like to put six different sized strings on it because that gives the most variety, but my brother used to put all of the same thickness on so he wouldn’t have so much to worry about. Whatever string he hit had to be the right one because they were all the same.
Tuning the guitar is kind of a ridiculous notion. If you have to wind the tuning pegs to just a certain place, that implies that every other place would be wrong. But that’s absurd. How could it be wrong? It’s your guitar and you’re the one playing it. It’s completely up to you to decide how it should sound. In fact I don’t tune by the sound at all. I wind the strings until they’re all about the same tightness. I highly recommend electric guitars for a couple of reasons. First of all they don’t depend on body resonating for the sound so it doesn’t matter if you paint them. As also, if you put all the knobs on your amplifier on 10 you can get a much higher reaction to effort ratio with an electric guitar than you can with an acoustic. Just a tiny tap on the strings can rattle your windows, and when you slam the strings, with your amp on 10, you can strip the paint off the walls.
The first guitar I bought was a Silvertone. Later I bought a Fender Telecaster, but it really doesn’t matter what kind you buy as long as the tuning pegs are on the end of the neck where they belong. A few years back someone came out with a guitar that tunes at the other end. I’ve never tried one. I guess they sound alright but they look ridiculous and I imagine you’d feel pretty foolish holding one. That would affect your playing. The idea isn’t to feel foolish. The idea is to put a pick in one hand and a guitar in the other and with a tiny movement rule the world.”
"Reflection Waste" -
Chris and Scott (2020): A while back we found ourselves opening two consecutive shows for the Scientists in L.A.The big question was - will it be SWAMP or POP? Unfortunately for us it was nothing but SWAMP for three hours and two days. A ray of hope was the momentary presence of mouth harp. Sadly it was played by Wee Kimmy Salmon; a man who did not welcome our presence in the dressing room (a room whose only interest for us were the Tecates in the ice chest). However, the dressing room did hold an unexpected treasure; BJORN. This gorgeous man not only played bass for the Scientists, he was also their only charming member. Right before the Scientists started playing we were talking to beautiful BJORN when Wee Kimmy Salmon got jealous of all the attention BJORN was getting. Tiny Kim stormed over and asked BJORN if he had his bass amp warmed up to play. The look BJORN shot Lil Kim could have killed a kangaroo. A look of total disregard and disgust; as if the words had been but a mildly unpleasant breeze wafting up from down under. BJORN completely ignored poor Small Kim and continued to laugh and bask in our starstruck fawning until BJORN was good and ready to hit the stage. Lil Kim scurried off into a dark shameful corner of his precious green room. We won both nights anyways with our secret weapon, Terry Riley, who gr
aciously flew down to play the shows with us. See photographic evidence below..
"Part Time Post Post Post Post Punks" -
Scott (2020): Been trying to get this hummingbird oasis going. There is a pair that shows up in the late morning and they always make this move where they fly up high above this Juniper tree and then at the same time they both dive bomb down and head over to this Strawberry Tree to chill for a bit.
"A Raga Called Erik" -
“Words are energy and cast spells. That’s why it’s called SPELLING.” - Bruce Lee
"Feel the Ground" -
"Beer Gardens" -
Scott (2020):Heavy Air was a recording project. There was no plan when those recordings were made to perform live. It was a really open process of Chris inviting friends over to listen and try out different things on the basic tracks. There were so many tapes, I finally was like "we gotta make rough mixes of the main contenders and I will go through and sort it thematically and help you map it out." I quickly realized there were four LPs worth of material in just the stuff we did rough mixes of. We sorted it into Heavy Air, Tomorrow Cleaners and another unfinished album. Making Heavy Air a single LP didn’t make any sense. It might have made it easier to get into initially but it would’ve lost the vibe of what it is. If someone only likes the pop songs, they can just make their own version of the album in iTunes or on a mixtape or whatever. But the album is a reflection of certain experiences and various states of mind. It's not an easy listen and it's not trying to win you over. It's also not trying to be really difficult or keep things at an intellectual distance. It's openly dealing with heavy shit and it unfolds very slowly. People have said that it's too long or too slow or too challenging but i don't see it that way at all. I hear hooks and magic in every track on the album. To me, it IS a pop album.
"Between the Trees" -
“When common objects in this way become charged with the suggestion of horror, they stimulate the imagination far more than things of unusual appearance; and these bushes, crowding huddled about us, assumed for me in the darkness a bizarre grotesquerie of appearance that lent to them somehow the aspect of purposeful and living creatures. Their very ordinariness, I felt, masked what was malignant and hostile to us.”
"Ignorance Restored" -
1. Point Reyes with Robbie and Natalie
3. Hot Pot City
5. Cape Falcon
6. Imperial Arms
7. Washougal River
8. Goose Hollow
9. The Whale’s Nook
10. Point Lobos
"Follow the Flowers" -
“The secret story is the one we'll never know, although we're living it from day to day, thinking we're alive, thinking we've got it all under control and the stuff we overlook doesn't matter.” ― Roberto Bolaño
"Know Fear" -
Chris (2016): I am a huge fan of siblings that have made music together. Just look at the genius of The Shaggs, The Cheater Slicks, The Kinks, the Fairs and the Meat Puppets! I can guarantee that there is something to that connection because playing guitar with my brother, Luc, is beyond explanation. There is a communication there that only siblings can have. Sometimes I get nervous and tell poor Luc what to do but usually no words are necessary and songs write themselves. Also, whenever I tell Luc what to do I am wrong and my suggestion backfires. "Know Fear" started as an instrumental recorded with my brother in Manzanita on the Oregon Coast. You can hear his original acoustic guitar recording at the very end of “He Hides From the Mirrors” on side C of Heavy Air. My brother and I writing music together is at the heart of that record. Many of the songs began with recordings of him and I singing and playing acoustic guitars and then layers and layers of other sounds and instruments were added on top. There is no trace of that original instrumental on the final version of "Know Fear". I added a dub inspired baseline, Link Wray inspired rhythm guitar, Eno freakout guitar solo, and Ben Spencer somehow managed to overdub a great waltz drum beat that I managed to mix to a point of virtual inaudibility. Once again, sorry Ben. I did at least six final mixes of this song which is insane considering the cost of analogue tape these days and the minute differences between those mixes.
"Those That Bend"-
Scott (2016): This is a cool example for me of how much the songs would change over the course of recording and mixing. Chris would typically give me one or two tracks to play along with and I would be unaware of the rest of the song. By the time this song was done, I didn't remember playing on it and it had morphed into this beautiful pop song.
Scott (2020): Best smile in the NBA: Mo Harkless or Carmelo Anthony?
"Infrathin" / "Through A Mouth Of Wings" / "White Lightning Sunday Morning Breakfast" / "Dream Cleaner" / "Toward Acid" / "I Was The Sun" / "So Clear" -
“Alchemy was mental transformation. It was never about transforming substances. Those were all allegories. The lead and the gold is the lead of the primitive nature into the gold of the enlightened man. It was always about that.” - Augustus Owsley Stanley III
"Follow the Flowers" -
"Vacuum Creature" -
see painting below (The Floor 4706th by Leonora Carrington)
"Marching Lung" -
(From a review of Heavy Air by someone with username Guitarbeard): “The same amount of energy used to make this long tracklist of brief, barely songs could have been reallocated in making a shorter one with at least a few decent full length tunes, but that's clearly not the state of mind this whole project was recorded in. I feel just about as bored as the musicians sound making this, and its never a good sign when it feels like an hour's passed and you're not even 1/3rd of the way through.”
"Slow Through The Ruin's Sail" -
Scott (2020): The original cosmic biker rock. We were joking around about that concept when we were working on this one. We half seriously talked about building an album around this with the Venom cover and some other tunes. It didn't happen. But Chris mentioned it to Mitch, Mitch mentioned this in the one sheet for Barbarian Dust and next thing we know, Revolver declares Barbarian Dust: "Cosmic Biker Rock". Fake News!
"New New Tabor Boogie" -
Scott (2020): Shit, I just realized this was supposed to be called "All New Tabor Boogie". Born in a desert...
"A Bard’s Tail" -
“a broken tape machine”
a broken tape machine
in need of repair
unplug and replug
play flute furiously at broken tape machine
again enjoy healthy machine
"Boca Ciega" -
Chris (2020): Finding unique ways to express the colors and emotions of sounds is the aspect of guitar that I am most interested in. I don’t know scales and I despise practicing them so I rely heavily on song structure, equipment and amplification to help me translate my ideas. I play a Gibson SG with P90 pickups through a Music Man 410 and a Fender Quad Reverb (sometimes a Twin when it’s working). I use a Morley pedal to switch between the amps to create immediately different tones and volumes based on whatever other pedals I am using. The Music Man has a killer natural fuzz tone and the quad is just clean and loud as fuck. You can also use the Morley pedal to turn both amps on at once to create big volume jumps. This is a great amp setup to use to piss off soundpeople and just generally fuck up any attempts at professional sound. It can help to create wonderful accidents or just complete chaos. My guitar goes out of tune and my equipment breaks down or cuts out all the time and I love it when that happens. It makes shows interesting. If you are in the audience and you are annoyed that our show wasn’t professional enough then you are at the show for fundamentally wrong reasons. When I watch a band and their equipment starts to fuck up I immediately like them more. Any attempts at professionality in music have been futile and worthless for me, so why try. The freedom of not having to sell yourself to the audience is a nice place to be. We are all in our 40s (except for Luc), balding, and growing extra chins by the second. No one cares anymore. What a glorious place to be!!!! See photo below for reference:
"Mow the Glass" -
“I had similar thoughts about Lavandar Flu (sic) after downloading the record and listening to it for a few days. So many songs on it and it still sounds like not having any ambition when it comes to songwriting or creativity in general. Time-wasting bullshit. It also sounds like painting words on a canvas with some greebo into saving plants from depression. Totally unproductive nonsense.”
- Terminal Boredom Post by someone with the username: “Krautrock is Dead”
From the Online Urban Dictionary - “A greebo is a person who listens to rock/punk/metal music and doesn't follow fashion trends. They don't usually class themselves as being a greebo but are assigned that title by trendies/rudes. Some of them may look quite threatening but generally they are all around nice people and they resist starting fights or arguments with people who do follow trends. However, if you were to ask one if they had anything against trendies or rude boys their answer would seldom be 'no'. Almost all Greebos have some kind of disliking towards trendies mainly because they make their lives hell. Abuse is hurled at them when they walk down the street and they frequently get the crap beaten out of them for absolutely no reason other than the fact that they are different. Greebos also seem to be fairly intelligent people if not in one way, they are bound to be intelligent in another, this may contribute to why greebos rarely start fights with trendies and rudes, because they are intelligent enough to know that it won't solve anything. Greebos are alternative people who just want to be treated fairly.”
"Reverse Lives" -
“The Dead Shall Live. The living die. And music shall untune the sky.” - John Dryden
"Through A Mouth Of Wings" -
Scott (2020): We started mixing Tomorrow Cleaners after Heavy Air came out but in no time the equipment started breaking down. Then we got sidetracked by being a live band and all the material we were writing together. Five years later we got the equipment working just long enough to finish Tomorrow Cleaners. Hopefully it won't take another five years to get to that fourth LP of the original recordings.
"The Lawn" -
Chris (2016): I have been drawn to sad music since I was a kid. In elementary school I spent a lot of time by the window waiting for my Mom to come home; worried sick that she had been killed in a car accident. The few CDs my parents owned when I was little were Alexander O’Neill, Enya, Lionel Ritchie, the Good Morning Vietnam Soundtrack, and the greatest hits of Leonard Cohen. One of my favorite activities in 5th grade was crying while listening to “Famous Blue Raincoat” over and over and over again. I would huddle in front of the CD player and think about how my best friend from elementary school and I had drifted apart and weren’t really friends anymore. It felt good to do this and I looked forward to it.
"RIP in the Sky" -
(see painting below: 7 AM Sunday Morning by Kerry James Marshall)
"Between The Trees" -
Scott (2016): Originally one of the most tranced out songs of the batch: super minimal and repetitive. Transformed in the mix into acid.
"Fingers Like Wounds" -
Scott (2016): Chris originally started mixing Heavy Air with Justin Higgins but after only a small chunk of songs were done, he realized this was gonna take a really long time. We decided to buy the equipment and try to mix the rest of it ourselves. This was the first song we did. Halfway through we were conscious of this Hendrix thing going on with the live panning. I'm super proud of this and the CHRZA was born!
"Lay in the Sun" -
“Tomorrow is no place at all.” Townes Van Zandt
"Variations On A Theme Park" -
Scott (2016): When Patti Smith, as a young lady, looked in the mirror, did she see Jim Morrison or Ray Manzarek looking back at her? Was it really Ray? I don’t argue.
"Floor Lord" -
Chris (2020): We want to thank everyone who supported us by buying Tomorrow Cleaners. I know that the vinyl cost a lot for a single record but the main reason was our decision to cut the lacquer directly from the tapes. This process cost an extra $1800 for mastering alone and the final bill caught us a bit by surprise. Tomorrow Cleaners is, however, a completely analogue record. It was not converted to digital before the vinyl which gives it an expensively unique sound. If you look carefully at the runoff groove there is a AAA engraved there that makes this mastering process official. All of the music on Tomorrow Cleaners was recorded to Tascam 38 and 48 eight tracks or Tascam 246 four track and mixed down through a Soundworkshop 1280 mixing board to the MCI JH 110 two track. The sounds were recorded on half inch or quarter inch tape. This process requires hours and hours of rewind and set up time and having to wait for equipment to work again. We spent thousands of dollars we will never see again. I love working like this. You can hear all sorts of mistakes and edits and points where other songs were erased over and enter the song again. This style of recording is like an invisible member of the Lavender Flu. It offers all sorts of ideas disguised as mistakes and new directions disguised as accidentally erased tapes. I also have to say that by no means are we tape only purists. We have put out digitally recorded albums and even an album recorded direct to cell phone. We try not to limit ourselves in any way.
"The Lawn" -
Scott (2016): One of the deepest songs on the album and it kinda reminds of a tripped out Leonard Cohen. Was very tricky nailing the mix for this one…
"Winter Crawls" -
“Of course I didn’t read William James and sit down and say, Now I’ll write a story about that “lost soul.” It seldom works that simply. I sat down and started a story, just because I felt like it, with nothing but the word “Omelas” in mind. It came from a road sign: Salem (Oregon) backwards. Don’t you read road signs backwards? POTS. WOLS nerdlihc. Ocsicnarf Nas …. Salem equals schelomo equals salaam equals Peace. Melas. O melas. Omelas. Homme helas. Where do you get your ideas from Mrs. LeGuin? From forgetting Dostoyevsky and reading road signs backwards, naturally. Where else?” -Ursula K. Leguin.
"In League With Satan" -
Chakra Mike (2020): I recently decided to finally read Maldoror. I immediately felt like I was hanging out with a teenager who was trying to shock me by talking about how cool Charles Manson was. I really don’t care if you bought super hard into the “romance” of self destruction and stuck drugs up your butt. Nihilism is boring.
"Lay In The Sun" -
Scott (2016): If you live through an Oregon winter, you grow to really appreciate the sun. Nothing beats those first warm days of spring, soaking up the rays and future skin cancer. The first few things Chris had me play on were pretty out there. I was approaching things in a more experimental way. I didn't realize there would be all these amazing songs. It was perfect that one of those songs was this Godz cover. I like how it morphed into this minimalist, heavy, sunchasing mantra.
"Through a Mouth of Wings" -
“Suggested or stimulated by reflections in mirrors and in water and by twins, the idea of the Double is common to many countries. It is likely that sentences such as A friend is another self by Pythagorous or the Platonic Know thyself were inspired by it. In Germany this double is called Doppelganger, which means “double walker.” In Scotland there is the fetch, which comes to fetch a man to bring him to his death; there is also the Scottish word wraith for an apparition thought to be seen by a person in his exact image just before death. To meet oneself is, therefore, ominous. The tragic ballad “Ticonderoga” by Robert Louis Stevenson tells of a legend on this theme. There is also the strange picture by Rossetti (“How they met themselves”) in which two lovers come upon themselves in the dusky gloom of a woods. We may also cite examples for Hawthorne (Howe’s Masquerade”) Dostoyevsky, Alfred de Musset, James (“The Jolly Corner”), Kleist, Chesterton (“The Mirror of Madmen”) and Hearn (Some Chinese Ghosts).
The ancient Egyptians believed that the Double, the ka, was a man’s exact counterpart, having his same walk and his same dress. Not only men, but gods and beasts, stones and trees, chairs and knives had their ka, which was invisible except to certain priests who could see the Doubles of the gods and were granted by them a knowledge of things past and things to come.
To the Jews the appearance of one’s Double was not an omen of imminent death. On the contrary, it was proof of having attained prophetic powers. This is how it is explained by Gershom Scholem. A legend recorded in Talmud tells the story of a man who, in search of God, met himself.
In the story “William Wilson” by Poe, the Double is the hero’s conscience. He kills it and dies. In a similar way, Dorian Gray in Wilde’s novel stabs his portrait and meets his death. In Yeat’s poems the Double is our other side, our opposite, the one who complements us, the one we are not nor will ever become.
Plutarch writes that the Greeks gave the name other self to a king’s ambassador.”
-Jorge Luis Borges, from The Book of Imaginary Beings.
"Barbarian Dust" -
Scott (2020): In the 80s, Venom played in Sacramento. During the day, they had nothing to do, so they hung out in a park with our friend Rod (who was still in high school) and played frisbee. I love picturing Cronos and crew strolling on the lawn, in the warm California sun, kicking around a hackey sack with some teen punks.
"Telepathic Axe" -
Chris (2020): We lost many potential fans opening those two fateful shows for the Scientists but we gained one very powerful fan. Charlie Sexton. After our set we sat in exile and silence out on the back patio of Zebulon when a very coked up man came bounding over. I thought he was a Billy Idol impersonator. He exclaimed enthusiastically how much he loved our music. My heart surged. At least one person liked it and it was this cool Billy Idol looking guy!! I told Scott about the interaction later and my heart surged even higher when he told me the guy was actually Bob Dylan’s lead guitarist, CHARLIE SEXTON. So fuck off Lil Kimmy Salmon. Charlie Sexton likes us more than you and that is really all that matters.
"So Clear" -
Scott (2016): Terrence Malick's Tree Of Life came out when a lot of this was being recorded and has a pretty heavy presence (in my mind at least). So much of the time I was listening to rough mixes in Chris' room and felt that vibe. The non-linear flow between different mental states and past, present and future is really Malick-like, which I think is close to what it actually feels like to be alive. A never ending flow of emotions and thoughts and images and dreams, where a sharp negative feeling will assault you in the middle of feeling on top of the world, and make you feel like you are submerged underwater, only to come out of that in a whole different space.
"You Are the Prey" -
“Keep listening to metal, god help any who grow up and wanna listen to fuckin Lavender Flu or some shit" - Terminal Boredom forum post from someone with username: MRAD
"Nothing was Breathing" -
(See poem by Silvina Ocampo below - Dedicated to MRAD- )
In Every Direction
We go leaving ourselves in every direction,
in beds, in rooms, in fields, in seas, in cities,
and each one of those fragments
that has ceased to be us, continues being
as always us, making us
jealous and hostile.
“What will it do that I would like to do?”
we think. “Who will it see that I would like to see?”
We often receive chance news
of that creature . . .
We enter its dreams
when it dreams of us,
like those whom we love most;
we knock at its doors
with burning hands,
we think it will return in the illusion of belonging to us
mistaken as before
but it will keep being treacherous and unreachable.
As with our rivals we would kill it. We will only be able
to glimpse it in photographs. It must survive us.
"Like A Summer Thursday" -
Scott (2016): In early 2010, I was on tour playing with Spencer Clark. We had an extra day off in SF, so I went over to Chris' place to drink Calimochas and hang out with friends. Later that night we went out for a smoke and he asked me if I'd play bass on some recordings he was working on. He said he was starting to play music again and wanted to make this 7" with these fractured versions of tunes by Townes and Fahey and he wanted me to play bass. I've always thought it was cool that Heavy Air is the end point of that same vision, it just morphed from a 7" into a double LP.
"Assorted Promenades" -
" "The hand of God" was a phrase used by the Argentine footballer Diego Maradona to describe a goal that he scored during the Argentina v England quarter finals match of the 1986 FIFA World Cup. The goal took place on 22 June 1986, at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. Under association football rules, Maradona should have received a yellow card for using his hand and the goal disallowed. However, as the referees did not have a clear view of the play and video assistant referee technology did not yet exist, the goal stood and Argentina led 1–0. The game ended with a 2–1 win for the Argentines, thanks to a second goal scored by Maradona, known as the "Goal of the Century". After the match, Diego Maradona stated that the goal was scored "a little with his head, and a little with the hand of God." " (from Wikipedia)
"Marching Lung" -
“They are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it.”
- James Baldwin
"False Promises From Future Selves" -
Chris (2020): I was sitting at Starbucks in my usual spot daydreaming out the window and sipping the reliably incredible coffee when all of a sudden the hair stood up on the back of my neck. I could feel a sinister presence lurking behind me. I turned around cautiously and saw an oddly familiar human blatantly staring back at me with cold beady eyes. It was Phil Lesh. He was waiting for his coffee and it looked like he had recognized me as well. I gave him the knowing musician to musician head nod, only my nod wasn’t returned. I turned back around and realized Phil was gazing through me, out the window, at two fans waiting outside with Grateful Dead records for him to sign. He was terrified and trying to find a way to avoid signing the records. I tried to capture a picture of the situation but my flip phone camera was poor quality to say the least. Phil got his coffee and slithered out the door. That new liver of his is doing an amazing job! I looked it up and sure enough Phil and Friends were playing in Portland that night. Phil made it to his tour van with his Starbucks and avoided any autograph signing as they peeled out towards more high stakes musical adventures.
Phil and Charlie Sexton at it again!!!
"Atrial Flutter" -
Scott (2016): Close the loop.
"He Hides From The Mirrors" -
Scott (2020): Why is it fairly common to play a show where you get stuck with a soundman looking like some dude that would be standing next to Abe Lincoln while he was giving the Gettysburg Address and he’s got a fucking Rollie Fingers mustache? I know, I know: Portland...
"Transcendental Hangover" -
Chris (2016): some of the lyrics to this song are - “Between you and the abyss is what you want to know, the answer can be found beneath the wreckage in the snow”. I carved those words, years ago, out of some scratch vocal sounds I had mumbled over the music and I did not understand them until now. I like lyrics that can apply to any life situation and can predict the future and those moments when the meaning comes leaking down out of nowhere. It seems to happen a lot that my songs become messages from my subconscious to my conscious. The "you” in my songs is always me. For a while I thought these lyrics were about some alien spaceship or the ruins of a city that crashed in the snow but it just struck me that I am the wreckage in the snow. My life is that wreckage. Today it is snowing and I wandered through it thinking about how bad my life has become in many ways. The abyss is what surrounds you when you live in a fog of lies and self deceit. The answer is to realize where you are, that you are really only talking about yourself, and to take accountability for the life you are living. It takes work and horror to truly see yourself and you can’t change anything about yourself that you are denying. Transcendental hangover, a hangover so bad that you realize you can never drink again. The feeling after a five day bender where you were in a room alone for days destroying yourself. Or maybe the hangover from having transcended something. I hope that the lyrics to my music can mold themselves to other listener’s lives and I hope that their meaning can change as people’s lives change. Scott Simmons and I spent so much time on this song and it is one that I am most proud of. There are at least ten different tapes of sounds and music spliced and mixed into this thing. I would bounce tracks on my four track and do live mixing that way and then we eventually dumped all those tapes onto the 8 track. I sang over that long sound collage. Scott and I spent an entire day making the final mix. He controlled four of the faders and I controlled the other four. Scott spent so much time coming over and helping me make Heavy Air. I could never have made it without his friendship and dedication. I got to know Scott back in 2005 going into the record shop he used to own and just talking and bonding over music. Scott opened my mind to so much more music at a time when I really needed new sounds and influences and he is still always introducing me to some album I have never heard of. He has become an amazing collaborator and a deep friend for life. We can spend hours and days sitting and playing and developing songs. It is the songwriting partnership I have always dreamed of and I am so grateful to have found that with someone as kind and dedicated as Scott. We really live and breathe music and I know it can get annoying to people who spend lots of time with us and have to listen to us blab about McGuinn and Cros the Horse (aka the cowardly lion) again but music is our church and reason to keep going in this world. Also, Scott is an incredible and utterly unique bass guitar player. The melodies he plays on bass contribute so much to our sound and the direction that our songs take.
"Coke Sunday" -
“Oh, hi! Well I’ll tell ya, we’re gonna do a song right now, about a man who had a little bit too much...too soon and a little bit too fast, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? Well, you all better watch out, cuz you’re gonna wind up at: the merry-go-round.” - Vince Neil
"Assorted Promenades" -
"The Living Garment" -
Scott (2016): Around the time this album was starting to be worked on, there was talk for a minute of a band with Stonehouse, Chris, Spencer Clark and me. There was never even a practice but everybody ended up working on each other's projects a little bit. Stonehouse crushed it with this super dubbed out mix...
"I Was the Sun" -
Chris (2016):The Savage Detectives helped to shape the way Heavy Air was structured. I love how memories were depicted in that book; drifting in and out, nonlinear, hazy, and seen through multiple perspectives. If you have ever blacked out from drinking then you might know the feeling of lost and fractured memories. When you wake from a blackout you sometimes remember bits and pieces and occasionally another fragment of missing memory will surface. It’s very disturbing because you have no idea what you did, only shards of what happened. You don’t know who was in control of your body during that lost time period. Heavy Air sounds like that to me and that’s how we wanted it to sound. We chopped up songs, recorded song fragments, wrote songs that played out linearly, spliced songs together, and did everything possible to avoid the songwriting methods I had used before. Verse chorus verse chorus bridge chorus is certainly a tried and true pop formula but it certainly is exhaustingly boring. In this way, Heavy Air is very much indebted to the Guided By Voices formula for making records. Bee Thousand helped change the way I thought about songwriting and song structure. "I Was the Sun" is an unused song I wrote when I was in the Hunches. This recording is the introduction and the first verse played very slowly. The forwards and backwards guitar parts were one of the first things I recorded on the Tascam 244 in San Francisco. I just stopped playing the rest of the song because it felt boring. The final result feels like a slow floating memory to me. Like a jellyfish floating in MRAD’S Pabst. Justin Higgins had to play the drum part to a prerecorded tempo that was all over the place and I love how that contributes to the off kilter feel of the rhythm section; like swimming in the cold pacific ocean. The opening E-A-B chord progression in this song is the central musical theme of this record. It returns throughout.
"James Bay" -
Scott (2020): The first time Chris turned me on to "James Bay", we listened to it about 50 times in a row, huddled in front of his stereo, singing along in a trance, one of our hands reaching over to put the needle back at the beginning, over and over and over. Amazing song, amazing vibe. I've only heard two songs by Lloyd Cheechoo and they both rule.
"Just Like Anything" -
“It doesn’t bother me whether it's craft or whether it's art. That is a definition that people put on things and what I like is that the material is irrelevant. It’s just that wire happens to be material I use. And I think that is important. That you take an ordinary material like wire and you make it, you give it a new definition.” -Ruth Asawa
Sculptures by Ruth Asawa
"Two To A Horse" -
Scott (2020): I’ve regularly thought about visiting Hartford, CT. Peter and David Paul were born there.
"A Drift in Rooms" -
Chris (2020): I quit drinking four years ago. It was one of the best and hardest things I have ever done for myself and the people that care about me. AA meetings were not a good fit so I found a way to quit on my own. If you are struggling with addiction and want to stop I hope you know that others are with you and that it is possible to get out of that maze/trap. Everyone’s path through that mess is different so by no means am I saying that I know what it is like for you but I do know that I was able to quit and I have no more desire to drink. I am not making any sort of judgement on people that continue to drink or do drugs, if it works for you that’s great. All I know is it does not work for me. I don’t ever want to stop once I get going. My life is infinitely more enjoyable without alcohol. Quitting drinking certainly did not solve all my problems and in many ways things are harder without it but I would not have it any other way. Being drunk and hungover all the time does nothing for my creativity. I wasted so much time on alcohol. I am able to make so much more music now and for that I am eternally grateful. The myth that believable musicians have to be drinkers or addicts is extremely destructive to the progression and evolution of music. I can honestly say that I have more fun playing music without alcohol and that is an unexpected and cool place to be. The thought that drinking/drugs somehow makes a person more “real” or “hard” or “valid” is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard.
"Demons In The Dusk" -
Scott (2016): Starting at a pretty young age, I always had this feeling of excitement about going out on a Friday or Saturday night mixed with this fear of what could happen and, more importantly, WHO you would run into. So many demons out there.
"Rake the Face" -
(see painting below: Burning the Darkness by Nicholas Roerich)
"Demons In The Dusk" -
Chris (2016): The sound of your feet will catch up with you. And the lies that you breathe will follow you. There are demons in the dusk. There are scenes you should never trust. How do you know what time it is?
"Distant Beings" -
(from a review of Heavy Air by someone with username rustyjames): “A lot of half-baked rambling. BRING BACK THE HUNCHES MOTHERFUCKERS.”
"So Clear" -
Chris (2016): Adam Stonehouse played keyboards on this song. When we worked on this recording we talked about making Gurdjieff brand toilet paper. Each sheet would come emblazoned with Gurdji’s great mustached face. What an honor it would be for an asshole to get wiped with the face of the great mystic charlatan himself. August Alston sang one of the vocal lines on ”So Clear” and a few other songs like “Infrathin”. The fact that he took the time to work on this with me meant a lot. The first time I met August was back in 2001 when he ran up a wall while playing a show at Billy Ray’s. We bonded over our hatred for cookie cutter garage cosplay bands and our love for garage music. He used to make me mix tapes with cool shit I hadn’t heard before and that really meant a lot to me.
"Transcendental Hangover" -
Scott (2016): Sometimes, a part of you feels like complete garbage but you had such a great time the night before that you also feel amazing - and some magical power smiles on you and creates a forcefield around the bad feelings
"Between The Trees" -
Chris (2020): At some point around 2010 I was driving to the coast and I stopped at a rest stop between Waldport and Corvallis. I decided to walk a bit into the woods and sit by the river that was flowing through that area. As I was sitting there I received a feeling that I have had maybe two or three times in my life. I was absolutely sure I was being watched and at the same time I was the thing watching myself. This shadow was creeping between the trees looking at the human sitting by the water as I was sitting staring at the shadow. The lyrics to this song wrote themselves almost instantly at this moment. We tried to approximate that feeling of two realities existing at once by splice editing four entirely different mixes of the recording. The melody that we wrote is a basic fingerpicking song my brother and I play together and I hope to record that someday. We sing it together and my Mom loves it so much she wants us to play it at her funeral.
"No One Remembers Your Name" -
Lions in the street and roaming
Dogs in heat, rabid, foaming
A beast caged in the heart of a city
The body of his mother
Rotting in the summer ground
He fled the town
He went down South and crossed the border
Left the chaos and disorder
Back there over his shoulder
One morning he awoke in a green hotel
With a strange creature groaning beside him
Sweat oozed from its shiny skin
Is everybody in?
Is everybody in?
Is everybody in?
The ceremony is about to begin
- A Poet
"Through a Mouth of Wings" -
INTERVIEW WITH LARS
Lars: Are you working? Chris: Yeah I work with people that experience different types of intellectual disabilities. It’s an amazing job. We have a music group named “Magic Luscious Spirit Sounds” and a film club named “Cowboys, Cowgirls, and Curly in Heaven,” and a fantastic anti-bro roleplay group. The character I roleplay as is a 7 foot walking orchid who is also an angsty teenager. I have also roleplayed as a 300 year old 3 foot barbarian gnome with a gorgeous beard who went by the name Mittn (pronounced ‘Mitten’). The most challenging part of this job was when I had to support someone taking community college improv acting and improv dance class. I never thought I would say it but I fucking loved both of those classes. The people I work with are the most creative, inspiring, courageous, and wonderful humans I have had the joy to be around. This job has changed how I see the world, how I think about reality, and what it means to be a part of a community. We have lots of artistic stuff planned and I am excited to keep collaboratively shaping inclusive spaces for people whose voices are so beautiful and who should be heard by everyone.
Lars: How do you relieve stress? Scott: We dug up a partially buried clawfoot tub in our backyard, put three burners under it and hooked them up to a propane tank. Hillbilly hot tub heaven! Chris: Watching movies and shows like Insecure, the Crip Camp documentary, Intelligent Lives, Watchmen (the HBO miniseries not the shitty movie), and of course “I Think you Should Leave.” Fantasizing about getting revenge on the outdoor trap shooting shotgun range that terrorizes my neighborhood with shotgun blasts three days a week. Walking on Powell Butte. Ocarina practice. Improv dance.
Lars: What are you listening to these days? Scott: As far as contemporary music goes, we're pretty into this group Griselda and some of the artists involved like Conway The Machine, WestsideGunn, Benny The Butcher, etc. Our pal Barry Walker put out a great record in late 2020. Mope Grooves put out a string of great records a couple of years ago. Looking forward to Michael O putting out a new record, whenever that is. Crazy Doberman is cool. Other than that mostly listening to older shit. As usual, changes all the time, way too many to list. Still love music, just always trying to avoid as much as possible the business and commodification of it/the scenes that surround it/the trends that ruin it. Chris: MIKE “Tears of Joy”, Sophie, Barry Walker Jr.’s killer album “Shoulda Zenith.” Lucas Gunn’s new solo instrumental guitar songs.
Lars: What is Stonehouse up to these days? What do you think of the Angel record? Can you talk about some of the recording influence he had on you? Scott: Stonehouse and I communicate solely through the virtual realm. We are both actively engaged in seeing the world through the eyes of Jusuf Nurkic, the center for the Portland Trailblazers. Chris: Adam is working on new music that I am definitely excited to hear. He is planning on having the record done by as early as 2050. I love the Angel album. I got to play on it a bit so I admit I am kind of biased but that record rules. Adam really showed me how much power there is in taking control of your own recordings. Making albums in studios is rigid, expensive and pretty inflexible. Adam showed me how home recording can open up so many creative doors and new ways to look at mixing, sounds, singing, song structure and on and on. I got to work with Adam recording lots of Hairdryer Peace and some of the Angel record and he helped out on some of the Heavy Air Lavender Flu songs. He has a really unique and unparalleled way of hearing and shaping sounds into new ideas and creations and that inspired me to seek new methods of my own. Adam helped me pick out recording equipment and learn about many aspects of sound design. I should also mention that Justin Higgins (Old Standard Sound) was also incredibly helpful in teaching me about recording and spending many many many hours helping me with this process. He is building a new studio in Eugene, Oregon that is going to be fucking killer.
Lars: Are you close with Sleeping Beauties and Eat Skull what are they doing? Scott: Rod works at a pressing plant in town and actually pressed two of the last three Flu records. I texted with him a little on New Years Eve/Day and he seems to be doing great. He has always threatened to do a fully electronic album and I look forward to hearing that in the future. Chris: I am blessed with texts from Rod sometimes and I also really hope he puts out that solo record!! I am very close with Hart from the Beauties even though I don’t get to see him enough. We got to work together in an A Confederacy of Dunces style job for a while and that was pretty incredible and produced some stories that are truly unbelievable. I think my favorite was the day that Hart discovered the secret to stinky sweaty socks was to wear aqua socks to work. Keep in mind this was a cold warehouse where we walked around for 12 hours a day on concrete floors pushing shopping carts filled with wine bottles. I miss Hart a lot and I love him so much. Before Covid we went to each other’s shows and played shows together when we could. His support of the Flu has always meant the world to me. At our last show he couldn’t get in so he curled up in a window outside knocking on the glass and heckling us the whole time. What a gorgeous human!! I know Hart is waiting to get the second Sleeping Beauties album back from the pressing plant and I am sure it will be incredible. I loved the first one he did.
Lars: Do you have a routine for working on music yourself? And with the band? Chris: My routine for home recording involves getting overwhelmed by thoughts about all the music we want to create and then avoiding the process completely because I don’t want to ruin the pristine idea of how it exists in my head before trying to make it tangible and then finally working on recording non stop for months at a time and forgetting to eat and bathe. When we practice as a band the routine involves warming up with our stage jumps, windmills, and leg kicks with our guitars and then practicing our synchronised band posturing. Jumping with a guitar gets harder and harder when you are in your 40’s so we make sure to stretch it out first. Ben works on emotional drummer facial expressions and overdramatic drum hits. Our stage show antics are a mixture of cold post post post post punk too-cool-for-you-unemotional-staring-at-the-audience mixed with a dash of Bob Weir’s jean-short leg hops and a dollop of David Lee Roth heroics completed with some Talbot/Young share-the-same-microphone-even-though-there-are-plenty-of-others-to-use mouth to mouth action. Once we have practiced how we will look and how we will prance around on stage then Scott will usually turn on his bass and slap out something that we “jam” with for a while. Depending on how this goes we may or may not go get lunch or actually practice some songs afterwards.
I would also like to take a moment here because it seems appropriate while writing about our “band practices” to give a shout out to Ben Spencer as a friend and a music collaborator. Ben and I have played music together for 21 years now (with a few breaks to deal with my nervous breakdowns) and he has been a truly wonderful person to work with. He is always willing to adapt and change and try new things and it has just been a real joy to continue our work together from the Hunches and into the Lavender Flu. Ben is another person I could not have made music without. He is also a fucking killer drummer who it has been really cool to watch grow stylistically over the years. I am lucky to have found people like Ben, Scott, and my brother that helped me learn how to make music collaboratively and move further away from being the controlling, individualistic, anxiety fueled, destructively perfectionistic, songwriter I was in my 20’s.
Lars: Do you like releasing music yourself? Scott: Aesthetically, it is the best. I've always loved when artists put out their own music like Sun Ra or Jandek. It is also an incredible pain in the ass. You've just gotta believe in what you're doing, not do it for money and hope enough people are into it that you don't lose a ton of money. Chris: I love releasing music ourselves as we have complete control of the product and it is not filtered through someone else’s timeframe and musical lens. I am eternally grateful for the time, money and energy Scott puts into releasing our records. He does a truly astounding amount of work with mainly profit losses and so so many trips to the post office. I feel completely free on the MEDS label and completely supported. It is inspiring to work with someone who truly believes in the music and is invested and enthusiastic about what we are doing. My greatest fear is to be just another band on a label that treats us like some sort of pity party or a charity case at the garage punk nursing home. People look pretty funny in their musical genre of choice costumes the older they get don’t they? Our goal is to continue to adapt and learn and grow and work as hard as possible to avoid becoming a parody of ourselves or just another boring band putting out the same boring record over and over again. The scariest movie I ever saw was Shine A Light. We want to work with our friends and the cool communities we have in front of us and not some bullshit idea of “making it” or whatever. We put out a couple of albums on In the Red and those seem to get categorized as our “rock” records but really they just sound that way because Larry was generous enough to help us pay for studio time so they became the albums representative of the full band live sound. The MEDS albums are currently all the home recorded stuff but that will change from here on out and I am super excited about all the albums we have planned to release in the near future.
Lars: What was it like for you in Portland this summer with the protests/Proud Boys/etc.? Scott: Was very surreal to talk to friends from out of town (in some cases not very far out of town) and see how they perceived it via the media. The protests were mostly pretty amazing with a handful of goons in the mix who made it seem like their actions represented everybody there. The riots and the danger was completely blown out of proportion. When this did happen, it was largely confined to 2 square blocks downtown and happened after dark. It was the cops who were a danger and a menace and that is why the protests will continue. The police are out of control here, like they are in places all over the country. As far as the Proud Boys and their ilk: their numbers are actually very small and most of the time they drive through protest zones in their $75k trucks spraying bear mace out the window.
Lars: Do you envision a post Covid-19 world? Scott: Looking forward to crossing that bridge. No idea what is on the other side. Hopefully something a lot better than what we left behind.
"Heavy Air" 2XLP (Meds - 2016 // CD version on Holy Mountain)
"Mow the Glass" LP/CD (In the Red - 2018 // cassette version on Meds)
"Admiration For A Dancer" LP (Meds - 2019)
"Barbarian Dust" LP (In the Red - 2020)
"Tomorrow Cleaners" LP (Meds - 2020)