Autolux will be playing live at Little Radio on december 31st, 2006.
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Actor director Vincent Gallo seems to know everyone on the New York's Lower East Side from ex-cons and street kids to effete gallery owners. Every five minutes during the interview, we'd be interrupted by someone he knew just walking down the street. Compulsively extroverted, Gallo resembles a distracted man on the edge. But, the high quality of his art belies this appearance; it shows a man willing to immerse himself in life with a deep level of concentration. All of this only leads to more contradictions, for someone so open, friendly and well connected, he is certainly not a man at peace with himself or his world. Two of his favorite filmmakers, Pasolini and Ozu, illustrate opposite sides of his nature; his internal balance between the turbulent, excessive world of Passolini and the eternal calm and the quest for simplification of Ozu.
His memorable and idiosyncratic film, Buffalo 66, was well received by critics all across the board. His band, Gallo, formed with actor Lucas Haas, Bunny, (Lucas starred as the child in Witness and more recently in Mars Attacks) has a on Sony/Workgroup that Gallo will recorded in a newly constructed studio in his Hollywood home. He also composed the soundtrack for the Buffallo 66 and stars in countless other Hollywood and indie films
I heard that you insist upon being on the cover for your print interviews?
Vincent Gallo: I feel I give a very engaging bold outspoken interview with thoughts I've reasoned out my whole life. So they are gifts to the world. But in giving these gifts to the world, I suffer consequence. I have people who don't like me. I have people who won't work with me. When it gets to the executives at Warner Brothers, all they know is that I'm a loose canon. When it gets to actors and directors I've personally mentioned, there is eliminated work opportunities. So all I ask for in return is a validation from the magazine that they at least support me as a person to put me on the cover. Without that, I'm just the quack the magazine uses inside the magazine to entertain a bunch of potheads who get off on reading someone who doesn't like pot. If I'm on the cover, it means we may not agree with what he is saying, but at least he's got a reasoned out point of view.
What's wrong with pot?
VG: One of the reasons I have such a negative reaction to pot is that most of the ways people take it. They smoke it. The side effect is that there are fumes. Since it is a narcotic, I find it quite rude that people smoke it publicly. The same fuckin' hippy cocksuckers who protest a plastics plant: it is okay that they dose me with this evil narcotic. The real problem I have with drugs is that it is incredibly mainstream behavior. All the drug addicts who think they are so interesting, they remind me of television. That's how prime-time they are. There is no aesthetic to taking drugs. There is no cultural movement that is attached to it except some of the dancing around ecstasy.
But there is an aesthetic to drugs. It changes your point of view?
VG: Psychedelics, heroin and alcohol awakened sensibilities years ago. Nobody whose art was influenced by drug encounters has created a sensibility or a language that has been important to the development of culture, or the evolution of mankind. This movie centers around a place kicker's missed field goal in the 1991 Super Bowl.
As a Buffalo native, how significant was that moment for you?
VG: Very. I've from a city that has never won anything. If Buffalo makes the field goal, then I can be from a city that is a champion; a city that deserves respect. That same way I knew I would not get into Cannes, the same way I know I will never win an Academy Award, the same way I know no one nice will love me. The Buffalo jinx.
Any comment from the fellow that missed the field goal, Scott Norwood, who appears in the film as Scott Wood? Did he open a strip bar in real life?
VG: No. He did not. I tried to get him involved. He was not interested. I would have written his character in any way he wanted it. He could have been a teacher at a nursery school. He had no sense of humor about his character.
Why is the Yes anthem "Heart of the Sunrise" playing in the strip bar? This is not a song associated with sexy grinding and cigars.
VG: I got into this music in the most abused period in my childhood. I was bottoming out in my relationship with my parents and my social relationships at school. I was getting caught doing criminal activities. I was getting ugly in the face. I was going through early adolescence. I was able to put those records on because I could relate to this band. Other than Chris Squire, the bass player of Yes and Richard Nixon, I've never really admired another man.
You've called yourself a right wing Republican in the past. Wouldn't you say your film does not endorse family values?
VG: The crises in my generation is that children are neglected and poorly nurtured. It is ordinary that children have more than one father or more than one sibling from another marriage, have drug addicted parents, parents obsessed with their careers. The consequences of that kind of parenting have revealed themselves in a very destructive way. People are self centered to the extreme. There isn't a lot of nurturing of children. My movie is about an abandoned girl and a boy who was misnurtured by his parents.
Christina Ricci was an inspired choice. She is not someone I would picture you working with.
VG: Not to sound too out of my mind, but I actually wrote a script just so that I could work with her one day. When I finished the script, I thought I made the character just a little too old, Since it's too romantic, I thought it wasn't going to work because I thought she was like 13. But then someone said she just turned 17. Close enough. She is so good in the film it's ridiculous.
Is the film autobiographical?
VG: The abusive points of the parents are certainly authentic, but there is a catharsis there and I found a lot of humor in those two characters. I don't see them as evil. I see them as slightly disappointing. Every parent does the best they can.
Is your mother a Bills fan in real life?
VG: My mother is more of a fan than the woman in the movie. Her life crescendos are up and down based on the seasons the Bills are having.
Was she being ironic when she wore a Bills sweatshirt to a recent New York showing of the film?
VG: After the movie, she realized she was a parody of herself. My mother surprisingly copped to everything and was sensitive to everything she had done. She was apologetic. It was the most beautiful time I've ever had with my mother. I had already forgiven her just by making the movie because she had become so funny. But I grew to really love her as a person who was able to cop to this stuff, and as the person who shared the memory of those events.
What did she think? Was she at all disturbed by it?
VG: I think she was most blown away in the scene where Ben Gazzara lip synchs to my father's voice singing "Fools Rush In." My father is a terrific singer who did nothing with his talent and my mother was most stricken by realizing other than her son putting him in a movie, he's never been identified or recognized for his incredible talent.
Will you have a showing for the Buffalo Bills?
VG: The NFL was completely uncooperative, completely fascist. I have no interest in having any kind of relationship with the NFL or the Buffalo Bills or Scott Norwood for the rest of my life. My 75 signed 8 by 10 football player autographs that I have are in a paper shredder in Buffalo -- that's how much they turned me off. I wouldn't go to a Bills game, an NFL game, if it was the last sporting event on the planet. It's very painful for the NFL to treat me the way they treated me. To have the attitude they had about filmmakers and art that they had in reference to their league, which is filled with controversy. How could they be so uptight? That's why soccer and basketball players are going to make football players look like dinosaurs in ten years. Why don't they keep their players off the coke line?
So you got your footage from the USFL?
VG: Well they're defunct. All you gotta do is pay them and they'll do what you want. It was hard to manufacture a logo and a team to make it fictitious. What was their problem? The film was an anti-gambling movie. It is a love story centered around football fans. In the last line of the film, he says, 'I love Scott Wood. I love the Bills.'
How upset were you about not being accepted to the Cannes Film Festival?
VG: I surrendered my passport after being rejected by those assholes at the Cannes Film Festival because they didn't have room for me after they let in Godzilla. For me, traveling to Europe is the equivalent of Charlton Heston's ship landing on the Planet of the Apes. I'm embarrassed that my mother and father are Italians and I'm madly in love with America.
Who first got you interested in the movies?
VG: By seeing my film, you would never know my influences. I got into acting because of people like Robby Benson and Andy Kaufman, not Pacino in the Godfather and De Niro in Taxi Driver. Death of Richie was the performance that made me want to be an actor. That is one of the reasons I used Ben Gazzara in my movie because he is in Death of Richie. I very much liked Danny Bonaduce in "The Partridge Family", Sylvester Stallone in Lords of Flatbush. They are the reasons I thought to myself, I'm going to be an actor no matter what. I saw the Lords of Flatbush in high school and I started a vicious violent gang called the lords, chains and knives. We had leather jackets with jean jacket vests on top of them. I painted, for everybody, "Lords" on the back of the jacket. To get into the group you had to take a marijuana pipe and while it was hot, brand a circle on your arm. It was a vicious burn and I didn't have to do it because I was president. We walked around bad ass! So 20 years later I'm walking down Lexington Ave. and I see this guy with a Yes t-shirt from a concert I went to, the "Close to the Edge" tour. And it's real small on him, real tight, cause he's a FAT ass. I'm thinking, that kid's cool man. He's got a Yes T-shirt. My favorite Band of All time! And I'm walking, ... we get to this light, and we're standing there. I looked at his arm and he's got this nasty burn mark. I look up and think, "Yo! Burke Hughes! That's Burke." That's impact. That is the kind of impact I can recall.
That must have been inspirational.
VG: Somehow I get fixated on things. I have 15,000 albums and I probably listen to the same 15 over and over. But, knowing the other ones are there is vital to me. If someone took a record that I haven't listened to in 15 years out of my collection, and took it home to tape, I would be frantic...
You would get a rash
VG: Yeah, I'd be itchy until they brought it back. And if the record was say, Kalidescope's faintly Blowing album, which I paid $1,100 for, I would get out and pay $2,500 to put it back into my collection. Even though I probably wouldn't listen to it again for ten more years. But knowing that it's there helps me.
It makes life calm
VG: It calms me down, calms me down (Gallo repeats this like a mantra while he settles in to have his hair done for the photo shoot.)
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FIRST ALBUM IN 33 YEARS ON MARCH 20, 2007.
Reunion albums are one thing. A Stooges reunion album is something else entirely.
On March 20, 2007, the band that predated punk and helped make rock and roll dangerous will release their first studio album since 1973’s seminal Raw Power. The Weirdness will feature three of the four original bandmembers – singer Iggy Pop, guitarist Ron Asheton and drummer Scott Asheton -- along with ex-Minutemen and fIREHOSE bassist Mike Watt and original Stooges sax player, Steve Mackay.
The Stooges wrote over 30 songs for the record at a cottage in Florida early this year, then rehearsed in Ann Arbor, Michigan before they entered the Chicago studio of esteemed producer Steve Albini (Nirvana, Pixies) in early October. The album is being mastered in the UK at the legendary Abbey Road Studios. Tracks on the album include: "Trollin'," "Greedy Awful People," "Claustrophobia," "Mexican Guy," "I'm Fried," "ATM," "O Solo Mio," "She Took My Money" and "End Of Christianity."
Iggy decided to reform The Stooges in 2003 while he was working on his solo album Skull Ring. He called the Ashetons, who still had the same phone number he had last called them on 25 years ago. The brothers agreed to contribute to four songs on the disc and the reunion seeds were planted. Then on April 27, the full band (with Watt on bass) played its first show together in 30 years to a spellbound audience at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Coachella, California.
A triumphant reunion tour followed, and in 2005 The Stooges were nominated to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They didn’t win, but were recently nominated again for induction at the upcoming ceremony to be held in early 2007.
If any rock band deserved Hall of Fame kudos it’s The Stooges, one of the most influential, powerful and explosive outfits ever to plug in a guitar. Formed in Ann Arbor in 1967, the Stooges were a forceful poke in the eye of commercial rock. Volatile and incendiary, the band wrote grimy psychedelic blues songs that grooved, droned and stomped in equal measure. Onstage, Iggy was commanding and menacing, cutting himself with glass, smearing his body with peanut butter and baiting the crowd out of its complacency.
The group’s volcanic energy earned it a record deal in 1968 and a year later, the Stooges released their self-titled debut, which featured the proto-punk classics “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “No Fun” and “1969.” In 1970, they followed with the heavier, more confrontational Fun House, which many consider the band’s finest hour. Three years would pass between Fun House and Raw Power, a primal, powerful slab of gyrating clamor from a band on the verge of physical and psychological collapse.
By the end of 1973, the Stooges had broken up. In the decades that followed, Iggy established himself as a successful solo artist, releasing 15 studio albums between 1977 and 2003. Meanwhile, Scott Asheton played in Scot’s Pirates, Sonny Vincent’s Rat Race Choir and Rock Action and Ron Asheton rocked with Destroy All Monsters, the New Race, the Empty Set and Dark Carnival. In 1998, Ron joined forces with Watt and members of Mudhoney and Sonic Youth in the one-off supergroup Wylde Ratttz, an experience that paved the way for Watt to join The Stooges.
One of the most eagerly anticipated albums of 2007, The Weirdness is destined to be as inspiring, unpredictable and undeniable as the three records that preceded it over three decades ago. The release of the album will be followed by a full world tour that will clearly display the energy.
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As Beck's DJ for the past 4 years, DJ Swamp is already a heavy-hitter in the scratch/remix world. With Never is Now, Swamp steps behind the boards and up to the microphone to produce and rhyme. What has resulted is an album that reflects Swamp's love of the evil, sinister, and dementia. Swamp looks more like Rob Zombie and Evil Dead than The Chemical Brothers.
"Ring of Fire" smashes out of the gates with its creepy bass undertones, and pyrotechnical battle rhymes, all sounding like something straight from Hell Records. It's not completely Horror-core, though tracks like "Worship the Robots" utilize a fantastic electro bass line and computer generated vocals, reaffirming the notion that machines are indeed funky.
"Demons in the Suburbs" and "Swamp Cuts" find Swamp calling out fake DJs coast to coast, backing up his boasts with clever vocal snippets and sick scratch freak-outs on the breakdowns. Throughout the record, Swamp brings his level of turntablism to new heights, utilizing cuts of obscure vocal samples and tones to create guitar-like "leads" and textures around the many funky instrumental tracks.
I met him in New York City right before 9/11 to talk about his first album.
AL: Do you have a big shout for anyone?
DJ Swamp: Right now, you are listening to my man, Alexander. He's on the interview. 2001. In the offices of Girlie Action. Even though I haven't got any "girlie action" yet. I don't know. I thought that is what it was all about. It's all good. The night is young. I am just left coast hustling.
AL: Have you worked with the Dust Brothers and Sukia?
DJ Swamp: Yes. I did remixes for DJ Me DJ You. I worked in the studio with the Dust Brothers for six months. They showed me how to rock Pro Tools and mix fat beats. I was on tour with Sukia and Beck in 1997 for a year. I was kicking with them.
AL: What do you think of DJ culture? You seem to be hooking up with bands.
DJ Swamp: I'm down with everybody. If you look at the DJ scene: that is so diverse in itself. You have house DJs, club DJs, and radio DJs, turntablists, and then you have your studio DJs. There are so many kinds of DJs. They are very diverse. And the bands are so diverse. I am down with anyone. I do whatever it takes to make money.
AL: How did you hook up with Beck?
DJ Swamp: I grew up in Ohio. I won the DMC DJ battle in 1996. I was the US champion but I was still stuck in Ohio driving a street sweeper. I figured that I was not going to wait around for people to find me, so I started to make calls, trying to get with this and that. I got some offers. But with Beck, I lied and said I was a reporter. I got an interview with him. Through that I got a demo tape to him. He was impressed enough to ask me to go on tour with him. So I went from being a street sweeper to being on The Grammys within in a few months.
AL: You do a lot of scratching?
DJ Swamp: Turntablism. The tricks. More people know me from that world than playing with Beck.
AL: At what point did you start thinking about doing your own records?
DJ Swamp: I always wanted to do a record. I wanted to be in control of it. I didn't want to be in a situation where someone else was putting up the money. So they could tell me what to do. I didn't want to have the pressure of having someone else's money being invested. And possibly lost. So it came to a point where I had enough money and equipment. After I did the Midnight Vulture's tour, I had been on tour with Beck for four years. I felt it was time to do my own record. That's where we are right now.
AL: When did start doing this record?
DJ Swamp: It was sometime in fall 2000. I did all the vocals except "Worship the Robots." I wrote the rap and I typed it into the computer. There is a girl doing French vocals, which is a sample. That's it. It's all me. All the producing and vocals.
AL: There is a lot of boasting on this record.
DJ Swamp: I don't make up the rules. I am just a musician. I will just walk along with what is going on. If others are doing it, I do it too. There's a lot of ego in everything. It's not that bad. If you listen, it is just mainly DJ bullshit, which is rare. You don't hear DJs rapping about how dope they are. Or how other DJs suck. So it's real original in its own way. Rappers do that all the time; "Other rappers suck and I'm the best." Whatever. Let me jump in there and do it too. I have been rapping forever. I never thought I was any good. It's just that everyone sucks right now. So fuck it. I ain't the worst.
AL: What about getting the robot voice to work?
DJ Swamp: Man, I never even knew if I was able to do it. It was the first time I heard anyone do it. Where you type in the entire rap. Then you have to chop every single syllable and beat on Pro Tools. It took me a year but it was worth it. I like how it came out. I was sure someone was going to beat me to it. Luckily, I have the record out.
AL: I think Radiohead used the same computer voice on OK Computer.
DJ Swamp: That is so easy. Just type the shit in and say it. I made it rap. I used the same voice because I knew people would know the voice because both Radiohead and Beck used it. There are twenty voices you can use. People know that the "Fred" voice is in Simple Text. But I am going to make the motherfucker rap. That is what is hard to do. "Fred" is a legend now. He has a career ahead of him. If I called him, then I would have to pay him. I don't even know if "Fred" exist. It might be all computer generated from day one. If it is a sample, Word is not big enough file to carry that big a sample.
AL: How much playing did you do on Midnight Vultures and what was that like?
DJ Swamp: I did a lot of playing on Midnight Vultures but it didn't get used. Midnight Vultures was basically two albums. Beck probably did 30 or 40 songs. Most of the ones that I was on ended up not being on Midnight Vulture. I thought that stuff was better. They might be still used at some point. They are more hip hop based. I think that Beck thought that there was already some hip hop that was better than the stuff he was doing. He discredited himself. But I thought his stuff was dope. He wanted to go a different route.
AL: Did you have some wild ideas that you finally got to on your own record?
DJ Swamp: I met this girl in Paris, France who was a breakdancer. I am a huge fan of breakdancing. I used to it when I was younger. There was a breakdancing contest when I was on tour with Beck. I met this girl who was gorgeous. She's actually on this other DJ videotape that I put out. She had the coolest voice. She hardly spoke any English. I wrote down some ill dark poetry and had her translate it and record it right into the laptop. Just like that. When I get more money you will see some crazy stuff with my recording techniques and me. I'll climb on top of a volcano and record it into a laptop and it will sound like it was in a studio. We'll have videotape footage of it.
AL: What about the beats?
DJ Swamp: I just start banging on shit. Making noise. It sounds like bullshit. But sometimes you just luck out and you just grab those things and save them. Then you take all the good pieces and you have a song. Ring that bell. Smash those lights. I don't know how to play keyboards. I just bang on them and luck out. Chop it up. As far as lines and the rhymes, I have my palm pilot. I just throw one liners into there. You just come across stuff if you are smart enough to write them down. Put them on a computer and cut and paste. There's nothing to it. I wouldn't be able to do it before this stuff came out because I was too lazy. I'm always doing stuff. Did you see the video?
AL: Not yet?
DJ Swamp: We just finished it. We shot it on digital film. I edited it. I just figured out that I was pretty good at editing. I would have never known how to edit video. But because I already knew Pro Tools. It's similar. Same concept. Check out this video. It's like some low budget Spinal Tap shit.
(Watches "Ring of Fire" video)
AL: You look Goth. It looks like Cradle of Filth doing a hip hop song.
DJ Swamp: I am stealing hiphop moves from everyone. It would be even stupider if I tried to dress like some New York rapper. So fuck it.
AL: Snoop Doggy Dog wears black clothes.
DJ Swamp: I'd give more credit to him than to Cradle of Filth. (Laughter) We have another video almost done for "Worship The Robots."
AL: Are we supposed to laugh because you are having a laugh and not taking yourself so seriously?
DJ Swamp: I guess. It's meant to be brutally harsh. When you throw the turntables in it, it makes it wacky. There's no way you can be serious. We rented the limo for one hour. I called my friend Wicked. I said, "Bring you boys over." They did all the breakdancing. The skateboarder is my friend, Pablo Diaz. He's a professional skater. In this video for "Worship The Robots" I am the DJ and the guy with the cans. Most of the time I am filming and directing. I don't think that they will show any videos with fire on MTV. Ever since Beavis and Butthead. I know Beck had some fire in "Loser." They had him take it out.
AL: Do you get searched at airports because of the way you look?
DJ Swamp: All the time. It doesn't matter how much I straighten up. I don't try. You do this every time, just go ahead. When I am with Beck, people know who he is, so they let us pass through. It's cool. It's Beck. Let him go. Can you sign an autograph for me? Sure. Whatever. It's not like that for me when I am by myself. Japan is stricter. Sometimes they want to make an example of a rock star. People like Paul McCartney may be arrogant when he goes in there. It might be the wrong day to show up. Someone is having a bad day. I have been to Japan seven times and nothing has happened to me. I was never in any trouble. At the same time I was not aware of the consequences. It's all under the table now.
AL: Do you have anything to say to younger people who want to get involved in music?
DJ Swamp: Be original. Just look around at other people and look what they are doing, and just don't do it.
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TOP RECORDS of 2006
By alexander laurence
1. The Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
2. Joanna Newsom - Ys
3. Ali Farke Toure – Savane
4. CSS _ Cansei De Ser Sexy
5. TV on The Radio – Return To Cookie Mountain
6. Be Your Own Pet – Be Your Own Pet
7. Burial – Burial
8. Dirty Pretty Things – Waterloo To Anywhere
9. Teddybears – Soft Machine
10. Wolfmother – Wolfmother
11. Art Brut – Bang Bang Rock and Roll
12. Hot Chip – The Warning
13. Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
14. The Knife – Silent Shout
15. Darker My Love – Darker My Love
16. The Editors – The Back Room
17. Cat Power – The Greatest
18. Secret Machines – Ten Silver Drops
19. The Rapture – Pieces of People We Love
20. Primal Scream – Riot City Blues
21. Silversun Pickups – Carnavas
22. Sparklehorse – Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain
23. The Black Angels - Passover
24. Gliss – Love The Virgins
25. Kasabian – Empire
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announces his March tour dates
Mancunian melody maestro promises to deliver more of his musical gems to
audiences and enthusiasts alike across the USA for March 2007.
Northern songsmith Damon Gough also commonly known as Badly Drawn Boy has
continuously crafted modern classics one after the other since his critically acclaimed
debut in 2000 “The Hour of the Bewilderbeast”. Having been compared to fellow
songwriters such as Lennon, Bacharach and even Springsteen as of late; particularly
with his most recent fifth studio album “Born in the UK”, reaffirming Gough’s musical
ability and spectrum as a true testament to his staying power as talent past, present
welcome because it restores some focus and direction to the one thing
Gough has never lacked: heart.”
- Los Angeles Times
Damon's notoriously encapsulating live shows are an enjoyable and equally inspiring
rollercoaster entailing peaks of blissful intimacy contrasted with loud and proud rock
and roll music; equipped to get anyone up on their feet. His interaction with the
audience and dry English wit is equally as entertaining, spontaneous and admirable
as his musical creations.
“This is Gough's most succinct album to date--fluid, eloquent and timeless.”
- Paste Magazine
Whether you are more of a “Bewilderbeast...” fan or a “Born...” fan – to catch him
live early 2007 is an absolute must!
with piano-driven balladry.”
- Under the Radar.
Badly Drawn Boy
Mar 03 Philadelphia PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
Mar 05 Somerville MA @ Somerville Theatre
Mar 06 Washington DC @ 9.30 Club
Mar 07 New York NY @ Webster Hall
Mar 09 Detroit MI @ Majestic Theatre
Mar 10 Chicago IL @ Metro
Mar 11 Minneapolis MN @ Fine Line Music Cafe
Mar 13 Nashville TN @ Exit/In
Mar 14 Atlanta GA @ The Loft
Mar 16 Austin TX @ Stubbs Bar-B-Q (outdoors-SXSW)
Mar 18 Boulder CO @ Fox Theatre
Mar 19 Salt Lake City UT @ Urban Lounge
Mar 21 San Diego CA @ House of Blues
Mar 22 Los Angeles CA @ El Rey Theatre
Mar 23 San Francisco CA @ Great American Music Hall
Mar 25 Portland OR @ Aladdin Theatre
Mar 26 Seattle WA @ Neumo's
Mar 27 Vancouver BC @ Richards on Richards
Born in the UK
Out now on Astralwerks
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It started like this:
Sparklehorse - Don't Take My Sunshine Away
Ian Dury - Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick
Kasabian - Empire
Soft Cell - Meet Murder My Angel
Siouxsie and The Banshees - Hong Kong Garden
The Fall - Totally Wired
Autolux - Blanket
Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
Monsters Are Waiting - Ha Ha
set w/ AJ Sutterfield
Suede - Metal Mickey
The Others - Stan Bowles
Pulp - Common People
Razorlight - (some shit song)
Graham Coxon - Freaking Out
The Departure - All Mapped Out
Fiery Furnaces - Single Again
Client - In It For The Money
The Beach Boys - Sloop John B
The 22-20s - Shoot Your Gun
Dirty Pretty Things - Gin & Milk
Morrissey - Irish Blood English Heart
Suede - So Young
Charlatans - Try Again Today
Yeti - (some ska tune)
I came back:
The Young Knives - She's Attracted To
Primal Scream - Country Girl
The Streets - Prangin Out
The Rapture - Get Myself Into It
The Psychedelic Furs - Run and Run
Lily Allen - Smile
The Good, The Bad, and The Queen - Herculean
The Long Blondes - Weekend Without Makeup
(AJ and Fred split as I get into it.)
The Knife - Like A Pen
Placebo - Because I Want You
The Tears - Refugees
Blowfly - Should I Fuck This Big Fat Ho?
Arcade Fire - Rebellion Lies
The Raveonettes - Love In A Trashcan
BRMC - Stop
The Subways - Rock & Roll Queen
Kim Wilde - Kids In America
CSS - Alala
Death From Above - Romantic Rights
Adult. - Glue Your Eyes Together
Echo and The Bunnymen - The Cutter
The Boomtown Rats - She's So Modern
The Prentenders - Precious
Ultravox - Slow Motion
Jesus and Mary Chain - Just Like Honey
The Horrors - Sheena Is A Parasite
The Kooks - Ooh La
TV on The Radio - Wolf Like Me
The Arctic Monkeys - When The Sun Goes Down
Calla - It Dawned On Me
Dirty Pretty Things - Bang Bang You're Dead
Charlotte Gainsbourg - The Songs That We Sing
Brian Jonestown Massacre - Go To Hell
The Beatles - Drive My Car / The Word
Magazine - A Song FromUnder The Floorboards
Ian Dury - Wake Up and Make Love To Me
Wolfmother - Woman
The Cribs - Martell
The Magic Numbers - Crazy In Love
The Futureheads - Skip To The End
Modest Mouse - Float On
Editors - Blood
Maximo Park - Apply Some Pressure
Art Brut - Good Weekend
The Kills - The Good Ones
The Klaxons - The Bouncer
The Walkmen - Many Rivers To Cross
The Duke Spirit - Lion RIP
The Blood Brothers - Spit ShineYour Black Clouds
Babyshambles - Fuck Forever ( with Beatles "Because")
The Rogers Sisters - Emotion Control
BRMC - White Palms
The Fondas - Make You Mine
The Beatles - Blackbird / Yesterday
The Black Angels - The First Vietnamese War
TV on The Radio - Modern Romance
Nine Black Alps - Shot Down
The Libertines - Can't Stand Me Now
The Vines - Highly Evolved
The Morning After Girls - Hi-Skies
The Arctic Monkeys - Leave Before The :Lights Come On
The Beatles - Strawberry Fields Forever
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This will be the last infinite beat dj night. Next year if it goes on it will be called something else, and probably at another venue. I will be giving out 100+ free CDs. Great Northern are playing at Pershing Sqaure at 7pm. The Downtown artwalk happens at 6-9pm. I will be the afterparty for all this Xmas excitement......
(all this will take place on)
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 14th, 10pm to CLOSE
The downtown LA bar with personality.....
To be located WHERE?
107 west 4th street
COME down for music, drinks, free cds and books. There will be special performances by secret bands. This will be the LAST Infinite Beat for a while. If you don't come this time you will have missed out on the new experiment. It's been a great year. Four nights at Broadway Bar, and four at Bar 107, and a few things at Safari Sams thrown in. It's been a fun year.
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Independent London Publishing
An interview with the publishers
James Williamson, Laurence Raine, and writer Jack Sargeant
by Alexander Laurence
Creation books has been an exciting publisher of film books and extreme
fiction over the past ten years. I first met James and Laurence a while ago when
they came to stay in New York City. Since I have seen them a few times both here
and in London. I was first turned on to Creation when I read a book they did
by Pierre Guyotat. I was always interested in Guyotat's work but could find
little of it translated, even though the critic Michel Foucault has written
often about it. Later I found out about the Rapid Eye books which covered much of
the music scene and underground movements in film and art. Later I started
reading their books about John Waters, The Hammer Films, and the New York
Underground film tradition. I soon found out that Creation Books had published more
great books about snuff films, cannibalism, horror films, pornography, as well
as books by Dali, Aragon, and Artaud. I soon became friends with James
Williamson, the man behind Creation Books. I met the other employees Laurence Raine
and Miranda Filbee. I also met Jack Sargeant who had written Deathtripping, one
of my all-time favorite books. We were able to talk about what it's like
running an underground press in London. They had recently done a book of
photographs about The Sex Pistols, and their most recent book is Raw Power: Iggy and
The Stooges 1972 that was the great photographs by Mick Rock. Whether it's film,
music, erotica, or art, Creation Books was the place to discover something
intense and new.
AL: I'm here at the Grammercy Park Hotel with the guys from Creation Books.
Creation Books has a few other imprints.
James: This is it. Velvet Publications is the erotic imprint. We're on our
own. We're not associated with any other publisher.
AL: You started out publishing fiction?
James: Um, yeah. Fiction and a bit of poetry, which was suicide because it
didn't sell. So we quit doing that shit. We done every sort of book now.
AL: The first Creation book I saw was the Pierre Guyotat book. You don't see
a lot of his work translated and published.
James: Right. It's an amazing book. We did that in 1994. We started Creation
Books in 1989. There wasn't much of a plan, just a drunken idea. We fucked
about for a year or two. We did a few books by Henry Rollins that sold okay. They
were European editions of American books. We built it up from that.
AL: I think that Rollins published all these people who branched rock music
and literature. Were you influenced by what he did with 2.13.61?
James: That's boring. Didn't want to do that. We did a Lydia Lunch book. But
her book is autobiographical, and has nothing to do with music. It is about
sex and drugs.
AL: How did you start the business? Where you all present at the beginning?
James: I started a company with Alan McGee of Creation Records. He was a
friend of mine. Laurence Raine joined more recently. But I've known Laurence for
years. I've had other people working for me for years. They were all idiots and
I had to get rid of them basically. (laughter). I look for people who have
common sense. Also someone who takes a lot of drugs and drinks. You have to find
areas to work in as a publisher and don't cross over.
AL: Who drinks more?
Laurence: James does. I do all the bookkeeping and James all the creative
stuff. I do all the stuff he doesn't.
James: I'm usually down in the pub. That's where you'll find me.
AL: How would an author or an agent pitch a book idea to you?
James. It would be a waste of time really. We are booked up until the year
2000 with projects. There's not a lot of hope. How it works really is that I get
ideas for projects and get people to write them.
AL: What are some of your personal favorite books that you have published
over the years?
James: I like the Guyotat book. That's pretty amazing. I like the Lydia Lunch
book. And I like the Rapid Eye books we did. Simon Dwyer was a friend of
mine. We used to go drinking in Brighton. Simon did the first one and then I took
over and did number two and number three. That worked out pretty good. Some of
the film books are good like Jack Sargeant's book and Killing For Culture.
AL: How did you meet Jack Stevenson who wrote much of the John Waters and
Kuchar Brothers book you did?
James: He used to contribute to Rapid Eye. We used to correspond for years.
He had this magazine called Pandemonium. That's where all his articles from
John Waters came from. It made sense to reprint them at some point.
AL: What influence has other publishers had on you?
James: None. The reason I started Creation Books was I didn't see anyone
publishing the kind of books I wanted to buy.
Jack: The biggest influence of other publishing houses is like dogshit, isn't
it? If you see dogshit, you don't step into it. You see the mistakes of the
other publishing houses, and you don't do the same ones.
James: Creation Books comes from Punk Rock basically.
AL: Much of American publishing is centered in New York, then there's smaller
publishers, academic presses, non-profit presses, and independent presses.
The perception of British publishing is that it is all centralized, Oxbridge
influenced, and there's not much independent publishers at all. What is your
perception of British publishing?
James: Most of it is owned by a small number of people who all know each
other. It's very parasitical and it's very hard to break into. It's impossible and
it's a miracle we did what we did. Especially in England. America seems more
interested in what we do. I don't know of many independent presses in England.
There are a few who have copied us but they fell away. A few publishers like
Codex only come out with one book a year. They are people who come out with
books occasionally. Our sales in England are pretty shit. It's just impossible
to get the books in shops.
Jack: To get a book into a shop, you are relying on someone's personal taste.
You know that the bookbuyer has a budget, and he's more likely to get a few
of the new Stephen King book, rather than Killing For Culture or Peter Sotos.
Their budget for underground presses are very small. Maybe they can take one
book. And that's only if they are educated and clued into what's going on. It's
easier to get the books in shop in bigger cities, but smaller towns and
Scotland where it's difficult.
Laurence: Also if the people who are representing your books are into them,
it's doubling hard to place them anywhere.
AL: Creation Books has an impressive backlist that those other publishers
don't have. It's probably only rivaled by Feral House and ReSearch Books as a
publisher who is doing interesting and weird books about current culture.
James: You have to take a big financial risk to get that backlist. You have
to pay the price at the end of the day. We are trying to continue to do the
same sort of books, just better. We're taking a little break. But in the future
we might do something different. Who knows? America is where we sell the most
books so we might think of relocating here at some point.
AL: What sort of print runs do you do?
James: We keep the print runs very low because it's cheaper to sell out and
then reprint. We don't have the money to do big print runs up front. Books like
Killing For Culture we've reprinted several times. The next two years is
mostly non-fiction and film studies. Cinema studies and subcultural journals. Jack
has a new book called Suture.
AL: How is Velvet Publications different from Black Lace or Masquerade Books?
Jack: I don't think the Velvet imprint is erotic because most erotic is so
boring and tame. Velvet does books like stuff from the turn of the century, or
stuff from the 1920s like Irene's Cunt by Louis Aragon, or harsh modern stuff
by Peter Sotos or Matthew Stokoe, stuff that most people wouldn't touch. It's
going out on a limb and you can't compare it to Black Lace. That's what
Creation Books is all about. Nobody would publish Guyotat, or James Havoc, or Lydia
Lunch. Those books are better and more intense than anything around. It's
keeping with the Punk Rock aesthetic.
AL: Do you ideas about promoting a book? In the past, places like Olympia
Press benefited by having a book seized and they had a court case....
James: You need a budget. It's ideal to have a court case and get all that
free publicity. It goes against what they want which is to have the book banned.
But the attention gets readers and sells a million.
Jack: That is the one space where underground publishers are good: there is a
verbal network between Feral House and Amok and Creation where people know
each other and they know about the books. If there's any unity it's that verbal
unity. They can meet up in a bar and talk about what each of them are doing.
They can talk to their friends and promote the books. Lydia Lunch does a lot of
readings. Jack Stevenson does screenings of films, and I do screenings. So
that's the only way you can do it without a budget.
AL: As sort of a final question: what is your favorite film of all time?
James: Texas Chainsaw Massacre is my favorite.
Laurence: Performance, probably.
AL: Have you seen Peeping Tom?
Laurence: It was just on BBC TV recently.
Jack: I like The Red Shoes, by the guy who did Peeping Tom.
James: I like Japanese films.
AL: What do your parents think about your books like Deathtripping and Suture?
Jack: The love them. They do. I wouldn't encourage them to read Peter Sotos
but they know what I like.
Creation Website: www.creationbooks.com
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The two remixes are:
"The Clock" remixed by Surgeon
"Analyse" remixed by Various.
Thom intimated that these could be just the first tracks to be remixed from the album although no further details were available on any future remixes at this stage.
Thom's full blog reads:
"For anyone who has heard The Eraser, there are some remixes coming.
I got excited. I've been listening through. I mean. There's some freaky shit.
They may start appearing soon. Gradually. Briefly. Just a taste. And then gone.
On www.theeraser.net. First there is Surgeon's Rmx of The Clock.
This was the one that made me think, we got to start getting these out
I was chuffed he wanted to do it as think he is a MASTER.
He has turned it into something really hard. And disco.
Well what i call disco anyhow.
It made me very proud.
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by Alexander Laurence
I spent most of an afternoon recently with the Manchester band Alfie. I had an agreeable conversation with Lee Gorton and Ian Smith (of Alfie) by the pool at some hotel at Highland and Franklin. It was hot day in Hollywood. Ian and I walked down Highland to look for a used clothing shop. We ran into the drummer, Sean, at a bar on the way.
We soon found a thrift shop on Highland between Sunset and Santa Monica. Everything was a dollar. Ian bought some stuff for his girlfriend and an ELO disc. Sean bought a wool hat, a Beach Boys record, and a few others by the Beatles. They were cheap. He said that it was hard to find any vinyl in England. He had bought a few Stevie Wonder records in San Francisco. We came back down Hollywood Boulevard in search of bargains and Ozzy Osbourne's star.
This Manchester, England-based outfit established themselves as one of the UK's most intriguing new bands with three vinyl-only releases in 2000 on Damon Gough (aka Badly Drawn Boy) and Andy Votel's Twisted Nerve Records. After signing to the label in late 1999, Lee Gorton (vocals), Ian Smith (guitar/keyboards), Matt McGeever (cello), Sam Morris (bass), and Sean Kelly (drums) were recruited by Gough to tour as his support act and backing band. The Alfie EP was released in February 2000, and was followed by two further vinyl-only releases, the "Bookends" EP in August and the "Montevideo" EP in November. These two EPs were released as the CD "If you happy with you need do nothing" in Early 2001.
By this time, Alfie were being described as leading lights of the New Acoustic Movement, a genre dreamed up by the New Musical Express to describe the resurgence of a semi-acoustic sensibility on the UK independent music scene. This year saw the release of their first proper album, "A word in your ear." They had never been to the United States. They played four cities on their recent tour in July. They have recent sign to Parlophone and seem ready to make a big splash worldwide in the next year.
AL: Are you friends with Elbow?
Ian: Yeah. They practice a few rooms up from us in this complex in Manchester. Doves we see a lot of as well. There is this other band called I Am Kloot. They came out in Manchester about the same time as us and Elbow.
AL: You were on Twisted Nerve. Are there many bands on that label?
Ian: We did two records with them. There are many bands on it now. When we first started there were only four or five of us. There are about ten bands now. Twisted Nerve started off as its own thing. When Badly Drawn Boy released his first two EPs there was so much interest in him. Twisted Nerve went through the roof. XL Recordings bought into Twisted Nerve a little bit. And then XL is own by Beggars Banquet. There's a hierarchy. When you try to get something done, there are all the labels to deal with. Argh!
AL: How did you get involved with Badly Drawn Boy?
Ian: We were in Manchester and we all got pretty friendly. We just all kept in touch and gave him tapes. He and Andy Votel came down to a gig at the Star and Gas that we played one night. We had only played a few shows before that. Andy Votel does a lot of graphic design. He did the artwork on our records. Andy does all sorts of stuff. He's doing a film now. He wants to make films and videos.
AL: What is Chorlton like?
Ian: It's nice. It's the more bohemian part of Manchester. It's more relaxed and expensive. It's much nicer than Burnage. I grew up there. I did the whole "Mad-chester" thing. I went to Spike Island. I was a big fan of The Stone Roses. That background was all in me when I was starting me own stuff. That was coming through again I think. I loved the first Stone Roses album.
AL: Some bands aren't really coming from a place because they have so many records and too many influences. Did you build from the ground up?
Ian: At first it was just me and Lee. I had a load of stuff that I wanted to do on guitar songwise. We started with me and Lee and a few tunes then we got other people involved, and it shaped itself really. Now that we know what we can do we can go okay we can go this into direction with this song. We can pick and choose the destiny of where each song goes and that's good.
AL: Does someone in the band have classical training. You have all these intricate Nick Drake-like guitar pickings.
Ian: Yeah. I don't think anyone in the band has had guitar lessons. Matt and Sam have classical backgrounds. Matt plays cello and has been classically trained. Sam plays French Horn. They play keyboards as well because you have to go through that first. Ben plays trumpet. They are all classically trained in a university.
AL: Do you like Prog Rock?
Ian: Well, me and Matt do. We are big fans.
AL: People are really aware of sounds today. A song like "Cloudy Lemonade" has this ringing sound at the beginning that is unique. Do you practice in the studio a lot and come up with sounds and then fit them into songs?
Ian: Yeah. We just like to fuck things up a bit. We like to try ideas. "Cloudy Lemonade" is one of the oldest songs we have. It's been around for years and years. On this tour we played songs off all our albums and then a few new ones. When we are in the practice room and the songs are going well and they are easy to do and they sound good each time, we can perpetuate that. We haven't been here so maybe people who come to the shows want to hear something off the first album.
AL: Apparently there are people here that know every song. At the show last night people seemed as if they had following the band for years.
Ian: Wow. That's amazing. That's a big surprise for me. It's been like that everywhere we've been. There have been more than a handful of people who are really into everything we did. They have canceled everything else they are doing that night and they come to the show.
(Lee Gorton joins the conversation)
AL: Many people who like Alfie or Doves who are in their twenties are probably the ones most likely to download songs on the internet. So these bands are popular and well known, but they don't sell records like Eminem.
Lee: Music is always forced into people's faces. It's not easy to find out about quality underground bands. It took me years to find out who Jim O'Rourke or Sam Prekop were. The Flaming Lips even. People have to dig a little deeper and mine that shaft. We have a lot of activity on our website compared to record sales. We have a massive fanbase on the internet. It's valid for us. There was one girl in New Jersey. She had all these bootlegs of gigs that were acoustic sets that we had done in universities in Manchester years ago. She said "Yeah, I have that version of Check The Weight." I said that I don't even remember doing that. The internet is relevant and good because people could get into you at a level that you wouldn't think was possible. We expected that a couple people would know something about us. Last night was like doing a gig back home because people were cheering for the songs that they like. I couldn't believe it.
AL: Who writes the songs?
Lee: Everyone does now. It used to be me and Ian. We got a flat together. We had some guitars and we wrote some stuff. Once the five of us were in place we knew everyone was important as unit. We said to them "If we ever get a publishing deal, even though we're doing the writing, it's going five ways. We're a band." We don't want to have a rupture in the middle that can divide bands. Once we said that, Matt who came in as a cello player, turned out to be a finger picking folky kid. He said that he had all these songs. And we said brilliant. He writes loads and so does Sam. We all write at home and get as far as you can with it. Then we take it to everyone else. If you get stuck bring it to the rest and try to figure out where it goes. It's flattering to be a songwriter in this band because a song once everyone has had their input it sounds like fuck all what you wrote. Everyone is trying to make things sounds like nothing else. It's great.
AL: Do you write all the lyrics?
Lee: I write about half.
Ian: Sometimes I'll write songs that have no words. So Lee will finish it off.
AL: In your songs you are aware of a voice but it's like a musical instrument. Are your songs personal, narratives, or just abstract thoughts?
Lee: Yeah. Some of them have a point but generally it's just about a vibe coming through. None of are doing this because we are great singers. None of us are great poets really. That wasn't the point of the band. We wanted to be in a band and it was a job that had to be done. Some of them are like a story. You can get on a train of thought and go that way. Some of them are just whatever is going through your head at the time. We are just trying to catch the vibe of the music. The music always comes first. You start singing along and a few words come out and you're like "Yeah, yeah yeah, that makes sense." Then you can start seeing what the song is about.
AL: How is the recording process different from the live performance? I was talking with the drummer Sean and he said that he was listening to the mini disc while playing live.
Lee: It's like a click track really. Only for a couple of songs. Then there's a backing track. When you are in the studio now everyone is so involved in production side of things. When you try to play those things live you don't have enough hands to hit the drums. We don't have five horn players, so you just put that stuff on the backing track. It's a cheap way of doing things.
AL: You have recently signed to Parlophone. Is there an expectation to be more commercial?
Lee: Not at all. You expect that and worry about that when you sign to a label. For a big label, Parlophone has a good reputation for not dropping bands even they don't do well. They tend to stick by them. They have Coldplay, Blur, Radiohead, and Supergrass. Some of those Blur records didn't do much. Most labels would drop a band if one record didn't do as well as the previous one.
Ian: They'll put more money into it. They'll give us posters and put us on radio more. They'll push us more. We have a pretty organic sound. The more chances you have at doing a record the chances are you are going to get better. If that's what you really want to do, you should be given the chance to do it.
AL: Do you have enough songs written for the new album?
Lee: Yeah. There are all still sketches. We have a Macintosh computer in the practice room now. Instead of going into the studio trying to put ideas down, we can build on those initial sketches. It's all new stuff. We have come out with all the songs we have played for the past three years. It's a clean slate now. We are proud of our first two albums but they were done on a budget that was tiny. We had a month in the studio and we could only do ten songs in that time. This time we are going to write thirty songs and pick twelve that go on the album. Do you know what I mean? We want to have freedom to experiment and do load of tunes. We can decide out of the batch what is going to be the album. We have more freedom on a big label than we did on a little indie label where you are supposed to get freedom from.
AL: Why did you do the EPs first then?
Lee; It was just out of necessity really. There was no money to make an album. We would play shows and have something to hand out or sell or whatever. That was always how I found out about bands.
Ian: EPs are nice little collectable things. You feel like you have something special and you were there first. We only produced a thousand copies of these. That is relevant. Kids find that out they will stick right by you.
AL: Are you going to do a big tour of America next year with Elbow or Doves?
Lee: That would be great. We know Elbow really well. We haven't seen Doves because they are traveling a lot. Elbow has done about five or six tours. We have grown up together as bands. We have supported each other at birthday parties. I have loads of respect for those bands.
Ian: It's a nice close scene. To get to know people like that who are talented like that in your hometown is great.
AL: If there is any conception over here of Alfie it's as if they are a band that just puts on the clothes that they wear everyday and they play music. There's nothing about fashion or pretension. It's like an English equivalent of The Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, or Sparklehorse, or Grandaddy, or even Elliot Smith. It's about the music. It's not about what model their dating that month.
Lee: Good company. That was the point. It's very flattering to hear you talk about us in the same company as those other bands. We are just a fresh sounding band that is at ease with itself. We are just trying to do something a little bit different on our own path. All those bands you mention are exactly that. If we are in their gangs, it's all right with me.
AL: Where did the name Alfie come from?
Lee: It was just plucked out of the air. It's help us because we are always one of the first bands alphabetically.
Ian: When we played All Tomorrow's Parties, the one curated by Mogwai, there was a list of all these bands, and since we were first, it looked like we were headlining.
AL: Any advice for young people who want to do music?
Lee: Just try. Don't doubt yourself. Get over yourself.
Ian: Sort your brain out.
AL: Do some E?
Lee: No. Just make sure that you are doing something while you're at it. You have to have faith in yourself and create chances or get a few breaks.
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Barney Rosset Interview
by Alexander Laurence
AL: We were just talking about the Stan Gontarski article which talked about
the acquisition of the Che Guevara diaries. You sent Joe Liss down there. Then
you went to rescue him and went there with a false passport? That wasn't true?
BR: I don't think so. No way! I have never done that in my life. I didn't
really read the article.
AL: He mentioned that you used the name Roger Tansey and checked into a hotel.
BR: That's my grandfather's name. I don't think that's possible. How could I
do that? You need a passport with your own name. Sounds better that way.
AL: I wanted to ask you some questions about publishing in the 1950s. There
was this guy Ralph Ginzburg who published erotic books. Did you know him?
BR: I didn't know him. I was aware of him, sure. All that stuff about
Blueballs, Pennsylvania. I think that we had some correspondence but I think that we
were on two different wave lengths. He's as different as Larry Flynt is to me. It
doesn't make us any better than the other. I don't know what Ginzburg's motivations were.
He made very beautiful magazines. I have copies of Eros. It was
very art driven. I was into the printed word.
AL: Were you very interested in mail order?
BR: No. That's what got Ginzburg in trouble. The Evergreen book club was like
any other. You got a subscription to the magazine and then you became a
member of a book club. It's not an original idea. It was our way to do two things
at once and it worked. We were able to get subscriptions and sell books.
AL: You started out republishing forgotten classics?
BR: I didn't start out that way. I bought and took over Grove when they had
published three books including Aphra Behn and Herman Melville. I continued
that for a short time with Henry James and several books. I brought in new
things. Samuel Beckett came in fairly early on. And Ionesco.
AL: Was it your original idea to bring out the Victorian books right then?
BR: No. The Victorian books didn't come till many years later. After Lady
Chatterley's Lover which came out in 1957. My Secret Life....
AL: Harriet Marwood, Governess....
BR: That was neo-Victorian. That was done by John Glasco who also did this
Aubrey Beardsley book, Under The Hill. We can pinpoint all these books. Stan is
the one who can do it.
AL: Well, if I understand you, early on you were committed to literature, in
publishing Beckett, Ionesco, and Genet...
BR: I always was.
AL: You were always interested in radical politics. Then there were the books
that were not so much literary....
BR: No. That's not true. We found a treasure trove of Victorian books that
must have belonged to some collector, I don't know. He died. I bought all these
Victorian novels at a bookstore, one place, and that included A Man With A
Maid, Suburban Souls, which I think is the best Victorian novel, and nine or ten
more books that were unpublished in modern times. These were Victorian
underground books. Later, much later, that lead to Maurice Girodias. We were very
different but there are some similarities. We followed our own tastes. He had
Terry Southern and J. P. Donlevey and so on. The books were often published
under the guise of being erotic. When I read Maurice's books, and I love them, but
erotic to me they weren't. The reverse was true of he to my books.
AL: Do you think that Girodias saw himself as being a pornographer?
BR: I don't think so. No way. He made fun of himself.
AL: Didn't Girodias get Alexander Trocchi to write some pornography?
BR: He thought Trocchi was a very good writer as I did. He was a very good
writer. Maurice made fun of himself. He called them his "DB's", his dirty books.
If Terry Southern was a writer of DB's, I don't know....
AL: Was that a marketing concept?
BR: It was a concept of himself. His father, Kahane, published Henry Miller
when he did Obelisk Press. Maurice took that over. It went bankrupt during
World War II. That's when Maurice changed his name from Kahane to Girodias. It's
his mother's name. Maurice was a very crazy pure soul in his own way. If you
wanted to call him a pornographer, he would enjoy it. He had a very peculiar
taste. Very satirical. Very little sex.
AL: Girodias had many legal battles as you did.
BR: I never had any legal battles with him. Most of his legal battles were
with other publishers, like Pauvert, about The Ginger Man and Story of O. Mine
were strictly about first amendments rights concerning Lady Chatterley's Lover
and Tropic of Cancer. I was more like Pauvert as a publisher.
AL: Did you have much influence of what John Calder was publishing?
BR: I don't understand. John Calder and I both published Beckett. That was
our closest tie. I don't know anything else we both published.
AL: Maybe some of the French writers like Alain Robbe-Grillet.
BR: I doubt John was doing any erotic books or political books. He was more
interested in the opera.
AL: I was reading this recent book, What Wild Ecstasy, which mentioned that Hugh
Hefner was thinking about acquiring Grove Press in the early 1970s. Do you
know anything about that?
BR: I don't know if he ever thought of it. It occurred to me, once. In one of
my periodic moments of depression, I went to Chicago, which is my hometown. I
met Spectorsky, who was then the editor of Playboy. I got there one
afternoon. Hugh Hefner was asleep. So I never did see him. When I had gone to this
nightclub, Chez Paris, and found that he had turned it into his accounting office,
that ended it. We never even discussed it. I have never met him to this day.
AL: What I know is that his advisors were telling him that buying Grove Press
was a good idea. I think this is probably documented in a few sources. Hefner
had a lot of financial problems in the 1970s.
BR: I never heard that and he never approached me. I tried to approach him,
indirectly. I saw Spectorsky who I liked very much. He died right after that.
AL: What was the extent of your relationship with James Laughlin? You wrote
many letters to him about publishing Henry Miller, since Laughlin was Miller's
original American publisher. Were you influenced by Laughlin?
BR: I respected him. I never met him. Laughlin had subsidized Henry Miller
for years. Henry felt that he didn't get paid enough but I thought that it was
pretty good that he got a monthly stipend from a publisher. We never did that.
But Laughlin refused to publish Tropic of Cancer. I read Tropic of Cancer when
I was a freshman at Swarthmore. I thought it was fantastic. Finally years
went by, and Laughlin told me to do it, and I felt morally bound to Laughlin.
Henry finally said OK. Henry did really want it published. He was not after
money. He said that he didn't want to be attacked by the American Legion which was
probably also true. He didn't want to be a renegade. He also enjoyed the
AL: What about the spectacular story that Gilbert Sorrentino told as an
editor for Grove Press in the late 1960s about the production of the book My Secret
BR: It's crazy. That story of Sorrentino's. I love the Sorrentino article,
but I look as it as Rashomon. It has no relationship to reality, none. When Dick
Seaver or Fred Jordan read that article they just think "What the hell is
this? I hardly knew Gil." There were no meetings at Grove like he talks about. I
loved the story. I read it and think "Boy, would it have been like this!" Dick
Seaver reads it and foams at the mouth. (laughter) That thing about My Secret
Life: that took us months and months of incredibly hard work. We couldn't get
from The British Museum. We knew it existed. They wouldn't let us look at it.
The Kinsey Institute had it. They wouldn't let us have it. We got it from a
famous publisher in Hamburg. He had negatives of all the pages. We got all of
that and spent months correcting all of that, not changing it or expurgating
it, just cleaning up the spelling so you could read it. Sorrentino acts like we
did it in a week. It's unbelievable. What happened was another fly-by-night
publisher in California got the original text from The Kinsey Institute which
infuriated us. We went out there and started a lawsuit against it and said that
our book was coming out and that we owned the copyright which was nonsense.
Our text were different because we had corrected the spelling. We went to court
and the judge asked "Why isn't it in copyright?" to the defendant, who said
"It's not in copyright because it's obscene." The judge said "Are you sure,
because if you're right you have to go to jail." He gave this guy a week. We said
it was ours because we had set the type. What we had gained was two months.
Ours came out, then his came out and went under the water. We tricked him. This
took a long time. I think that Gil Sorrentino was talking about how there was
a last minute frenzy, at the very end, when we saw that we were competing. We
were after that book for years.
AL: I think that Sorrentino was talking about you on the original tape that
you had brought over twelve volumes of My Secret Life and gave it to the staff
to work on at breakneck speed. Then there's the whole story about Sorrentino
trying to make copies of it at a Kinko's.
BR: No way! Not only that, we paid royalties on it to a German publisher for
years. We did My Secret Life in various ways. There were three editions. We
sold a lot of copies. The huge one in hardcovers. Then we did a cut version.
Harry Braverman did a version that was 600 pages. It was a boring book. But it
was still a huge book. The interesting thing about My Secret Life is the index.
The index you can publish as a book all by itself. Marvelous.
AL: Has anyone actually read the book all the way through? Harry Braverman?
BR: We did in order to cut it down to a livable length. The one thing that
amused me is that great scholars think that this is an autobiography. I
guarantee my life that it ain't. It is done though from the period. It was done and I
can tell by the construction of it that it always gets a little more exciting
as the guy gets older, to keep your interest going. Somebody here at Columbia
wrote a big volume, a very scholarly book about My Secret Life. It's the
longest Victorian book. I'll give him credit for that. But in no way does it compare to
Suburban Souls, which is like a Proustian, pre-Proust.
AL: Of course when you have a trial or a legal battle that helps to bring
some attention to a book by a Burroughs or a Miller, but did you have strong
ideas about launching a book and promoting a book?
BR: Yeah. With Lady Chatterley and Tropic of Cancer for example we used every
means we could. We would take out full page ads in the New York Times saying
"Sex and Politics." It was right out there in front. We didn't conceal it.
That was our, and certainly my, two fields of interest. Not only that, I felt the
two inter-crossed very very strongly, politics and sexual expression, seemed
to go together. I remember that Hitler and Mussolini were not too much in
favor of sex in publishing. I felt the opposite. In this interview I did with
Feltrinelli in 1958, I go into this subject at great length, then, in 1958, about
that problem. Feltrinelli had just come from Italy with a fascist youth
background. He was a little bit squeamish about going along with me altogether. He
became a renegade. He became a guerrilla fighter. He died in an explosion.
First billionaire ever to do that.
AL: Maybe the only one? Since you mentioned an explosion and a bombing, I
wanted you to talk a little about when Grove Press was bombed. Stan Gontarski
mentions that in his article. Grove had published some Che Guevara books and had
put idealized posters around the city, and the result was some anti-Castro
Cubans bombed the offices of Grove Press. Can you remember that day and what was
going through your mind?
BR: I greatly admired Che Guevara. Did then and still do. He had gone to
Bolivia which I had thought was a Don Quixote failure. At the same time I had
admired him. Mao said "Fish need water in which to swim." And Che went to Bolivia
where there was no water and no fish so he couldn't swim. He couldn't even get
the Communist party on his side. That was his life. It was very interesting
what had actually happened in Bolivia, because we had heard all these reports
that made no sense. I contacted some Cubans here in New York, and they put me
in contact with some people in Bolivia. I sent my friend, Joe Liss, ahead of me
and Fred Jordan. Joe didn't know what he was doing. I think Stan took
credence in his letters and notes. Joe was as romantic as Che. Then I lost track of
him, then I thought that I have to go save my friend. Quite unnecessary I soon
discovered. When Fred and I got to Bolivia, we called him on the phone. We
said "Are you alright, Joe?" He said "I'm wonderful. I would like to see you once
again." I said "You will in five minutes." Because we were three blocks away.
We were not the only ones looking for the Guevara diaries, but we met two
wonderful journalists there. We published a book about Guevara. We brought those
two journalists, not particularly left wing, back here to New York. They
procured for us some of the pages of the diary. They actually broke into the
headquarters. They weren't the only ones. BBC was there and broke in the jail and
interviewed the French Writer. What's his name?
AL: Regis Debray?
BR: Regis Debray was in jail and BBC broke into the jail, interviewed him,
and left with the tape. Our friends did the same thing and took some pages of
the diary. We did not get the whole diary.
AL: Has the whole diary been published?
BR: Yes. That is a really weird story. It was taken from Bolivia and taken to
Cuba and given to Castro by a CIA person, not an American, a person from
Bolivia who was in high spot in government. He took it and then came back. He then
disappeared. We didn't get as much as we set out to get. We did get a good
hunk of material.
AL: But about the bombing in New York, how did that go?
BR: We had Che Guevara on the cover of the Evergreen review. It was done by
Paul Davis. The Cubans were caught incidentally. There were about eight or ten
of them. They were Cubans, anti-Castro. They called themselves Omega 7. They
were very angry about the failure of the Bay of Pigs. The CIA had hired them
all then fired them all. They had nothing to do so they went around doing
damage. They bombed us one night on 11th Street near University Place. They also
bombed some other people that same night. They were caught. Front page of the New
York Times. The judge let them off. He said that they were all good guys.
They were reserve officers on the American Air Force. We tried tracking them
down. We had their names and addresses. A foundation actually gave us money to
study them. They sent us an investigator who went to investigate them and found
out that the New York police had positioned a cop in their midst, as their
minister of justice, but he was afraid to talk because he was afraid for his
AL: Was the CIA involved with the bombing?
BR: I think it was a renegade person. You can say it was the CIA. There were
CIA people involved but they were ex-CIA. The CIA were not trying to stop
them, and when they were caught and arrested, and release for committing a crime
against us and the Canadian consulate and a Japanese airline, you could see
that they had protection. They didn't kill anyone. They also tried to bomb the
apartment of the guy who had told us where to go in Bolivia. He was a delegate
of the UN for Cuba. They got the wrong apartment. They must have been CIA. They
were the gang who couldn't shoot straight. They were very young, all in their
AL: Was the CIA following you and what did you find out?
BR: For many years. I spent two years getting information through the Freedom
of Information Act. I sued every head of the CIA from its inception through
Colby, when Colby was the head, for information about me. The General
Accounting of the United States government once complained in The New York Times how
they had spent seven million dollars defending themselves against me. All I
asked for was information about myself, and I got a lot, nothing derogatory. In
the beginning they accused me of being a spy for Japan in World War II. It's
unusual. At the same time I was an officer in the US Army. My whole life from the
age of twelve.
AL: You left Grove Press in 1985 and immediately started Blue Moon Books. How
has it been going?
BR: Blue Moon is not working too well. I started with John Oakes another
company, Foxrock, to publish a Samuel Beckett play, Eleutheria. Now I have taken
that company. Now I have started another company called United Publishers
Group. I'm doing three novels this fall, and this will be different. Not Foxrock.
I'm doing this with Gabriel Morgan, who's Ted Morgan's son.
AL: He did the Burroughs biography.
BR: Right. But Gabriel himself is an extreme talented editor and writer. We
are bringing out three novels under the name Rosset Morgan. Foxrock is now my
imprint. John wanted me to take it over.
AL: John Oakes has been doing Four Walls Eight Windows for ten years.
BR: Dan Simon, who was with John, now has his own company, called Seven
AL: What is Fred Jordan doing?
BR: He's running another company, Fromm International.
AL: Dick Seaver?
BR: Dick Seaver has a company called Arcade Books. It used to be owned by
Little, Brown. Dick brought it back from them. I did a book with Dick Seaver
called Pat Pong Sisters. I really like that book. I did the cover photographs
myself. I have been going over to Thailand a lot with Astrid. I love it. I have
been going over there since 1989.
AL: Kent Carroll still does Carroll & Graf?
BR: Yes he does.
AL: What about Don Allen?
BR: He's still alive in California. I have working on and trying to remember
things for my autobiography. One of the things is about Jack Kerouac and The
Subterraneans. It was a book that we got into a lawsuit over in Italy. Not me
but Feltrinelli. I remember going over there to be a witness in the trail. Don
Allen was very involved in The Subterraneans. Don Allen got the manuscript and
tried to change things and Kerouac got infuriated. Kerouac called us and told
us to put it back.
AL: What Grove books are you most proud of having published?
BR: Authors? Far over the rest is Samuel Beckett. To prove it to you, I have
only one superstition and that's about the number 33. Waiting For Godot was
number 33. One of my sons is named Beckett. There are many authors that I loved
dearly, but if I had to single out one, it's easy.
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