Okay, press for 40 BANDS 80 MINUTES! is beginning to roll out. I have probably terminally fucked my financial situation, but one of the benefits of being unemployed is that I can work on promoting the movie and all the bands 12 hours a day.
You’re worth it!
L.A. underground bands are the best in the world, in my opinion. Please read the article below. Or better yet, follow the link and see a nice photo (taken from Halloween 2005).
~ By NATALIE NICHOLS ~
THE PEOPLE’S NOISE~ By NATALIE NICHOLS ~Ever browsed the club listings of your friendly neighborhood weekly and wondered about all those bands? How do they dream up their wacky names? And what the hell do they sound like? Watching the new documentary 40 Bands 80 Minutes is a bit like cruising the listings, with audio: It offers two-minute bits by a wild array of L.A. underground acts.
Director Sean Carnage captured it all on one night – Monday, March 6, 2006 – at East Hollywood performance space Il Corral. A longtime aficionado of experimental, noise, and just plain weird bands, he’s been hosting Mondays there since August 2005. The film – which premieres on November 19 and comes out on DVD two days later – features acts like Abe Vigoda, Veer Right Young Pastor, Creekbird, Toxic Loincloth, Bipolar Bear, and Christ With Braces, among numerous others. Perhaps most amazing, Carnage and his crew stayed right on schedule, rolling digital video cameras at 6:30p.m. and wrapping up at 1:24 a.m.
“The movie is like a hologram, a reflection of all the different rock scenes I’ve been a part of over the years,” says Carnage, 35, who moved here from Cleveland in 2002 and almost immediately connected with L.A.’s avant-noise community after seeing free-jazz/improv guitarist Nels Cline. Our conversation reveals two surprising things: Carnage is a true believer in average people baring their souls through musical expression, and he grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania, same as me.
He’s proud that 40B 80M showcases a variety of styles – noise, punk, jazz, folk, and hip-hop – but if you aren’t at least willing to tolerate, ahem, often dissonant abstract sounds, you may not dig it. Otherwise, it’s bizarrely enjoyable to watch these youthful performers. They evoke ancient art-damaged styles like No Wave, free jazz, and noisecore, joining (unwittingly or not) a continuum incorporating such groups as the Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, and Japan’s Boredoms. (And the Shaggs and Chicks on Speed, too.) A few have what most people think of as songs – including Erebus Nyx & Styx’s “13th Shovel” and a hilarious medley by new-wave-ish Faux for Real – but the uninitiated ear may strain to discern coherent melodies or even consistent beats. Never mind; that’s not the point.
As the chaotic parade – Bacon Tears Up Business (one-man funky electro), I Heart Lung (featuring guitarist Chris Schlarb, whose Sounds Are Active company is putting out the DVD), Slutty Knuckles (literally thrashing punk), on and on – rolls by, it reminds me of something … an attic far, far away, where college students make an unholy-yet-cleansing din on found instruments. A young man yowls, and suddenly the noise becomes the garage-rock classic “Louie Louie” – twisted nearly beyond recognition. These people, my friends, called this endeavor the Electric Ferrets. Years later, it was a real group (long story); back in the early ’80s, however, it wasn’t a band at all but a living entity of the moment. Ferret music was art, entertainment, rebellion, and don’t forget fun. It was a kind of happening – exhilarating to scary, but always cathartic. I could say I was more spectator than participant, but in truth no one merely watched the Ferrets.
Not unlike Carnage’s film. It’s Ferret music, outta the attic and into the crowd. Audience roils into band and vice versa, as the space overflows with bodies in motion. It’s anarchic, but friendly: As frenzied as the feedback and vocalizing get, the prevailing mood is giddy abandon, not growling anger.
Throwing off the bonds of convention is liberating indeed – if somewhat daunting to do in public. “These bands were really brave,” says Carnage, whose day jobs have included stints with porn companies and reality TV. In fact, colleagues from a defunct gay TV network contributed the professional video and sound work. “I couldn’t believe it when watching the footage – all these bands turned in some of their best performances that night.” (The DVD extras offer even more in the short 10 Bands 20 Minutes.)
Now unemployed, but busy promoting his movie, he hopes to continue celebrating underground music. “It’s a quintessential American art form,” asserts Carnage, who estimates the Il Corral scene at between 200 and 400 people. “There’s no other movement like it, where people are just regular Joes, bonding together communally to make art.” He even envisions a weekly TV show. (Reality television, indeed.) But for now he’s happy with his contribution to boundary-pushing. “I am pleased to be bringing all the maniacs together,” Carnage says. “Music just has gotten too normal.”
40 Bands 80 Minutes premieres Sun., Nov. 19, at the Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice, at 6 p.m. & 8 p.m. (310) 306-1854. Free, but ticket required (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org). Info: 40bands80minutes.com.
40 BANDS / 80 MINUTES! is now online for the very first time in remastered form!