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The fifth and final installation of Summer Scum took place at Trans-Pecos July 9th and 10th, yielding over 50 15 minute sets from some of the world’s best noise artists. Summer Scum was curated and organized by Justin Lakes (Shredded Nerve) and Christopher Hansell (Ligature/ Warthog).
While I usually try to keep my photo updates seasonal, general chaos and disorganization prevented me from doing so this past fall… and winter… and spring… I am still in the midst of organizing negatives and reviewing work from the past six months but here is some in no particular order.
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DePace :I think we are the best we have ever sounded, frankly.
Yow: The only time I saw Flipper before I joined was in 1982, and I never really saw em again until I was a part of us.
So, one of my favorite bands of all time is Throbbing Gristle
Yow: Yeah, I saw that Lisa Suckdog shirt, her mortal enemy is Genesis.
Well, I heard a rumor that you guys played the last ever Throbbing Gristle show, and I was wondering how that went down?
DePace: We did. It was 1980 in San Francisco. It was their last show until a reunion many, many years later. It was super loud. Around 2006, 7, 8 we played a show up in Portland Oregon and whatever configuration of their band that is was at that time marched into our show carrying a gigantic crucifix. It was bizarre.
Do you feel any affinity to weird, freaky electronic music like Throbbing Gristle?
DePace: Sure. I like anything that is good.
Are there any electronic based bands that you are particularily down with?
DePace: Well, it ain’t got that swing if it’s played by a thing. And that is just the codger in me. Early stuff like Kraftwerk or Tangerine Dream or ambient stuff I thoroughly enjoy. I have not heard any newer electronic stuff that really does it for me.
It’s so weird to me that you would be more into ambient stuff as opposed to hard hitting, fucked up stuff!
DePace: Nah, nah. I listen to Jazz, Psychedelic rock, David Allen Coe, Miles Davis.
Yow: Sleeping is just about my favorite thing. I never get to do it, at all, but I like it when I do. Cooking.
DePace: Have you head of a band called Barbed Wire Dolls?
DePace: There are this punk band from Greece and they moved to LA about ten years ago. But they are so punk, even in their lifestyle. They are like nomads, always playing, always touring, constantly making records, for like ten years straight. They have played 45 countries and 600 or 700 shows. They are pretty amazing. I appreciate that, as far as bands go. That is sort of how it should be done.
Do you think less people are doing it right?
DePace: Yeah, I get bored easier. I have seen so many bands and so many shows.
What about playing them though?
DePace: Shows are still exciting to play, as long as it is a great venue, a great crowd, great energy. I’ve been bored at shows… Usually it is when the staff doesn’t care and the audience doesn’t care. But that doesn’t happen very often. I have to say that over the thirty plus years that I have been playing shows there have been very few bad shows.
What was the worst show?
Yow: The worst one for me was not when I was playing with Flipper, but when I was with Jesus Lizard. We played in Boise, Idaho at a place called the Zoo. It was an all ages show, fairly big room for the youngsters and a room in the back where the minors were not allowed in. I guess most of the audience was back there, but we couldn’t see them. There were three people in the room: a drunk Eskimo and two drunk frat dudes who would not stop heckling us. I don’t care. Usually I laugh at hecklers and am down for a challenge but it was humiliating. It was the only time I ever turned to the guys and said ‘why are we here? We don’t have the finish this’. I mean we have played shows before to two people or eight people but those three dumb-asses…
How did crowds compare with Scratch Acid?
Yow: In the old days, with Scratch Acid, people were more complacent. People seemed to give a shit about the Jesus Lizard. But we are not here to talk about that
[I spill my beer]
DePace: It’s okay. Nice beer smell. I have smelled worse, I am ready.
Alright, since I already spilled a beer on you, can I just go for the real dickhead question? So besides being pretty irritated by his music, Moby was a thorn in my side as an annoying costumer at a Vegan spot that I used to work at. I need you to confirm that he is lying about being a singer for Flipper.
DePace: No, he did! He sort of made it out to be like he was the Flipper singer for a while, but it was one night! He got up on stage with us for one night and sang. It was in his hometown in Connecticut. He just jumped on stage and sang with us. He knew all the words, he was a big fan. I think the singer at that time was passed out or high or arrested or something. For years he had it in his bio that he was one of the original singers of flipper. For years! This girl I know who ran a club in Germany called me and said ‘Moby is coming through, and we got his press kit and it says he was the original singer in Flipper, what is that all about’. I read it and thought, well, he embellished a little bit. But that’s okay, I like him.
Yow: Well a couple of years ago for Halloween I sang with Shellac as The Sex Pistols, so I was actually the original singer of The Sex Pistols.
Check out my weak stage dive at 20:50
The following is an interview conducted by Tamara Santibañez.for her newest zine, Ugly Dirty Nasty Noisy Vol. II. UDNN Vol. II is a series of thirteen interviews conducted with artists whose work deals with the human body.
Your recent solo show, “How I Use My Body”, featured photographs of a number of women engaging in a range of actions from choking to vomiting to cutting. Can you elaborate on the show title? The word “use” feels powerful and intentional, versus “abuse” which would put the participants in conflict with their own bodies.
“Why I Use My Body” was a series that depicted all female models engaging in self-inflicted corporal punishment as a response to trauma. I wanted to explore how self-harming behaviors have shaped my relationship to my gender and to myself. The definition of abuse is misuse. I believe in the purposeful use of my body and I think that self-harming behaviors can provide pleasure and clarity for some, and I happen to be one of those people. Being in pain or being uncomfortable is often a vital step in healing, even in cognitive therapy. When I look back at the photographs I took for “Why I Use My Body” I see transcendence, not misery.
Your photos feel like discovered snapshots- like you stumbled across a cache of photos you weren’t meant to see when cleaning out your dead relative’s house. That look conjures up ideas of a different, private world. Is this an intentional storytelling or do you prefer your subjects to feel more contemporary and present?
Until very recently, I identified only as a writer and not as a photographer, even though I have been taking 35mm photography on a regular basis since I was eight years old. I only took pictures for myself for a very long time. Photography has always been an extension of my diary and of the storytelling of my own life. Any photo that I take that is premeditated is also directly autobiographical. I think all my photos have strong narrative, even when I am just taking a picture of kid I know at a punk show.
The private quality of your work can often make challenging subjects feel tender- giving violent or sexual subjects a sweet “secret life of girls” voyeuristic feel. Do you think this is largely because of using female subjects? Or because of the intimate nature of the acts themselves?
I could never achieve the photographs that I take with strangers. In the very least I could not work with a person unless I felt that I had a true connection to them. I’m always striving to capture intimate moments. I think my very best photographs are the ones that only I could have taken. I suppose that a voyeuristic feeling would be what I am aiming to achieve, in that sense.
I am closer to women in my life but I have very recently started photographing more men. Of course I make them wear makeup and piss on each other, but I am trying to do new things. I have been considering attempting a male counterpart to the female “Why I Use My Body” series.
There is definitely a punk feminist politic to using your body in a way that is disgusting and repellent as a female. Do you have a greater politic to staging scenes like this and asking women to do these things in a public way?
For sure. Apart from the childish joy that I get trying to just shock people and question conventionality, I am striving for a bit more. I think that documenting very truthful and private moments can be transgressive in the sense that capturing those moments can be very meaningful to people who feel alone in their experience. Giving vision and voice to feelings that are largely perceived as wrong and perverted gives the message to others on the outside that they are not alone.
I feel that this project has allowed me to be a documentarian of human experience and subculture that may not been clearly documented or defined quite yet. This was an important aspect to “Why I Use My Body”, as it was a direct response to womanhood and use of the body and performance. I believe that my whole life is a performance and I want to take control of my life and my body in a meaningful way. Because I consider myself an artist and because I consider my life a performance, I strive to live every moment of my life artfully and intentionally. In some way, these photos give purpose to events in my life that would otherwise be hidden and shameful. It is more a reclaiming of experience and a way for me to work out my own past so that I can move on. Because I asked models to perform in acts that they felt connected to, I hope that they felt the same way. When speaking to many of the models during and after the shoot, it was clear that they did.
How do your subjects endure throughout the process of staging these photos? Did some find it challenging? Empowering? How does it affect your perception of your own body to be able to control it in these ways?
I sent out a public call for models within my own social circles online but only responded to people that I knew very well personally. I sent out a manifesto for the series to each model who expressed interest along with a list of the photo shoots that I wanted to take place. Part of that manifesto asked that each model only respond to prompts that they personally related to. When models responded to the manifesto we had an open dialogue about their relation to the prompt and how we could make each prompt work for both of us.
Staging the photos did not feel strange. In many cases the photo shoots became an opportunity for me to get to know my friends in a different way and share a really special experience of opening up about parts of our pasts that would never come up in conversation usually. I went to each models home when I could, so I would loose a little control by being in their preferred environment and they could be comfortable, even if that meant I had no idea what I was walking into or how I would shoot a photograph. Some of the shoots were more challenging than others but overwhelmingly I was taken aback by my friends’ willingness to participate. I somehow found the right women who wanted to do what they were doing. Everyone seemed to be smiling afterwards. I believe it was a needed release for many of the woman involved.
My perception of my body has not changed much since the shoots apart from feeling less alone. I am working hard to try and take better care of myself and my body but it is really challenging for me. I’ve spent so many years doing bad things that at this point they all feel good. Or at least normal.
Why I Use My Body was originally displayed for two months at Mata Gallery in Los Angeles. UDNN is available here. Special thanks to Tamara for including me and allowing me to repost her interview, it was an honor and a pleasure to be included. You can view her splendid work here.