About Me

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Detroit, Michigan, United States
I'm a punk rock guru from Detroit. Part skinhead, part crusty, part metalhead, part hardcore kid, part party kid, 100% punk rocker.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Tharsis They- Ominous Silence review

Tharsis They- Ominous Silence review
When I heard the vocals for this, I was taken back to an earlier age, specifically when I was 16, and people liked high-pitched screaming metalcore with tight-clothed band members that were graduates of the emo scene; such is the sound of this band, but not quite.  Instead, this band is if the frontman of one of these aforementioned bands told the rest of his fellow members, “We’re listening to more Black Flag, keeping the metalcore sound and vocals, and writing more insightful lyrics, because this whiny-little-bitch-hate-myself and unnecessarily-vague-metaphors bullshit isn’t doing it for me anymore!”  The likelihood of someone actually saying that is literally next to nothing, but would succinctly describe Tharsis They’s record “Ominous Silence”.  The vocals are still metalcore screechy noise (but make up for it with some really good lyrics), guitars are heavy, mixing modern hardcore and metal in a carefully balanced way, and bass & drums are furiously fast, drums crackling all over the place, akin to an all-encompassing rain storm with brutally loud thunder.  In fact, this whole album is best compared to a furious thunderstorm- there are those who hate it, but it has greater purpose; it is long but often audibly satisfying; it is loud, dark, occasionally ugly, but powerful nonetheless.  Lispers beware, and hardcore, metal, and noise music fans take heed:  Tharsis They is here, and whether or not they wear tight pants, they will blast your fucking ears and blow your fucking mind, if you’re willing to pay attention.
-Aunty Social

Interview with Hillary Tamm about nudism

Interview with Hillary Tamm
1.      When did you begin to look at clothing as an abstract concept, as opposed to taking it for granted, as most of society does?  Did you have an experience that opened your eyes to this, or was it a natural progression from deconstructing social propaganda?
Honestly, it probably started with sleeping naked. It was a matter of “Gosh this is way more comfortable when it’s hot out!” and it didn’t even occur to me that my body was something I could use as a… tool (in the least objectifying manner, I suppose) against societal standards or as a political/anti-political statement until sort of recently.

2.      Why did you decide to forego clothing?  Why do you think other people do?
The decision to reject clothing wasn’t really a deliberate one, I just do what seems right for me. I guess I’ve always been a bit of a social retard in that sense; the concepts of “right” and “wrong” don’t occur to me the same way they occur to others, so I struggle sometimes with comprehension when something I view as harmless is intensely heralded as “wrong.”

3.      Is there a comfort factor in one’s decision to shed clothing, be it someone else’s or your own?
While nudism happens for a lot of reasons, often it boils down to a “fuck you guys,” whether people mean for it to or not. A bit of research causes me to believe a very large portion of “nudists” are actually in their 50’s and 60’s, which I think is pretty awesome given that’s considered to be the “conservative” age. But that’s what I mean, these people probably aren’t your hardcore political activists (though perhaps they once were, or still are), fighting the power and sticking it to the man. They’re the people who have reached a certain point in their lives where walking around naked seems more appealing, so… “fuck you guys.”

4.      What do you think keeps society at large from letting go of their layers, so to speak?
There are many comfort issues that surround nudism, both in terms of the nudist him/her/zirself, and those surrounding. More than comfort, though loosely related, I think it’s also a judgment issue. I’m sure there are many people who keep themselves as clothed as possible in order to hide those bits with which they feel uncomfortable, and to keep them from the harsh opinions of others.

5.      Is there a tie between nudism and any kind of left-wing political activity (not necessarily radical)?  If so, what is it?
Here’s a mouthful for you, and bear with me:  Society as a whole is mainly held back by two things: religious influence and simply put, “self esteem.” I say religious influence because even those who are not religious are still privy to the structures and socially enforced dogma that are the consequence of living in our religion-based culture. Religion speaks more negatively of sex than it does of our bodies themselves, but we have inextricably, albeit incorrectly, linked the human body- unclothed, untouched, in its simplest form- with sex. As a result, we are taught from a very young age (through media, the social interactions we witness, and even inadvertently through things as simple as the separation of genders in health class) that our bodies are indecent, dirty things. Not to be explored, on our own or with others- and certainly not before marriage. Granted it has gotten much better since my parents were my age, but there are still remnants of those thought processes and teachings subliminally reinforced daily. I think of when I was little and I had to cover my eyes when Rose was naked in Titanic. Not even sexually engaged, simply naked. It was an action so ingrained in me that even when I wasn’t with my parents, I was still compelled to cover my eyes in similar circumstances. I was not raised religiously, but it is impossible to deny the implications religion has on our society and how we behave on a day-to-day basis.
As for the “self-esteem” issue, I know that as a woman- and I am biased here, so I apologize- I am continuously bombarded with things that tell me how I’m “supposed” to look. Television ads, billboards, online banners, movies, even the people who know and love us subtly influence how others view us, and more importantly how we view ourselves. As with the on-going debate on whether art reflects life or life reflects art, it is difficult to say if media reflects society, or vice versa- if it can even be simplified to one or the other. What I do know is that media portrays a sense of “normalcy” that people attach themselves to- whether it’s actually normal or simply fiction based entertainment. Because we are so driven by our physical appearances, and because media is so prevalent in our lives today, it has a greater impact than ever before. So when we accept that rhetoric, our perception changes and we begin to formulate an image of what we’re supposed to look like, who we’re supposed to be: flawless creatures at an unattainable level of perfection that cannot even be met by those on whom we base our comparisons. Needless to say we all fall short. Even I- despite having just dissected the construct that motivates us- am victim. When I prepare myself for the day, I often stop and ask why I feel the need to look cute for the people on the ten minute bus ride to work. When I make the realization that I don’t, I throw on basketball shorts and a (likely dirty) tank top. It’s that realization that allows me to both dress without care for how I look, or simply not be dressed. There is a lack of understanding about the difference between thinking of oneself as having met the ideal, and knowing that the ideal is absurdly out of reach and coming to terms with the reality that is one’s body. There is an incredible number of women whom I consider humiliatingly more attractive than myself, yet they continue to hide behind things like make up and flattering clothing when I have long shed these things. I have crossed a bridge when most don’t realize there is even a river. My ability to be naked doesn’t make me more beautiful to others or myself, it simply means I am aware of who and what I am- which is something that my various states of dress and undress will never change.
In terms of politics, it is an easy generalization to make that most nudists are likely to identify with modern left-wing policies and beliefs, as they tend to be more lenient in regards to sexuality and all things related. Personally, I don’t identify with much of anything political and find it all to be a rather unsavory meal as a whole.

6.      Is there a reason that Europe is considerably more tolerant of nudist practices (France even has nude beaches!) than the United States?
Europe seems to have a more liberal base in their societies and governments. As mentioned before, liberal stances tend to lean more towards acceptance of things pertaining to the body. This stands true with regards to the acceptance of nudism. While the US has its share of nudist resorts and laws that allow things like toplessness, there is a self-perpetuating stigma around such things that assigns lewd and perverse connotations to the participation in and acceptance of them. While we set the example of democratic rule, as other nations followed suit, we went down different sides of the societal fork in the road and ended up with two very different social structures- which is fine for some, depending which freedoms you value more.

7.      What are some of the ground rules (if any) for practicing nudists to apply (i.e. the given everyone understands, don’t stare)?
I would imagine that nudist ground rules are essentially the same as non-nudist ground rules. If it seems rude, it probably is, so it’s important to understand and observe personal boundaries whether a person is clothed or not. There are also rules that people don’t always follow in “clothed” life that are important when unclothed. For example, if you find yourself around someone you find sexually appealing, that’s fine- there are attractive people everywhere- but do not assume the combination of attractiveness and nakedness is an invitation of any kind.  However, it’s also important to recognize that there are creeps everywhere you go, and that just because everyone else around is naked doesn’t automatically mean you’re safe.

8.      Have you found strength in numbers of strength from within when it comes to practicing and sticking to nudist practices?
Personally, I’m intrinsically motivated, but there are plenty of people who find strength in numbers. It’s a lot easier to embrace something out of your comfort zone when you have people agreeing with and supporting you.

9.      I’ve always wondered this since seeing that one Seinfeld episode:  Is naked crouching bad/ unattractive?  Why or why not?
A hilarious but legitimate inquiry, I’d say that it depends entirely on the person and the crouch. Consider how uncomfortable it makes the average person just to see someone partially undressed. Now consider a person crouching in a manner that reveals certain parts of the body that one is not necessarily interested in seeing. On the flip side, if it’s a person the viewer finds highly attractive, then it’s unlikely to be thought of as a negative thing.

10.  Is there any network of nudists, local or regional?  If so, do you have any sort of information on them?
What I know is not so much a network as much as a handful of parks and clubs that are clothing optional. Some qualify as family friendly, others are clearly adult in nature due to sexual themes, but most of them have the same kinds of rules. Drinking (when legal) is often allowed in moderation and cameras are prohibited. Interestingly, most of the rules are standard of any park or campground, pertaining to general safety and courteous behavior, like “quiet hours.” A list of clothing optional places in Michigan (and elsewhere) can be found here: http://www.nudist-resorts.org/full-list-resorts-clubs.htm#Michigan

11.  Is there anything additional you wish to add regarding nudism or anything else you would like to say?
Nudism is a difficult concept to practice, not only due to personal reasons, but due to external factors as well. As a young girl who spends a fair amount of time in public, I am subject to being harassed and hit on, as well as any other number of seemingly innocuous interactions that may make me feel unsafe in my surroundings even when I am fully clothed and covered. It is understandable that those who may otherwise be interested in nudism shy away from it because they fear they might not be safe. It is that fear that makes nudism such an important idea to embrace. By making the body so forbidden, we also make it an object of mystery and allure. Unfortunately, there is an alarming number of people who opt out of using self-control when presented with something they find tantalizing, and the social norm is to blame the victim involved. For far too long the solution has been to cover up the parts of ourselves that could cause offense or “instigate” assault, instead of teaching people proper respect for others and correcting their harmful behaviors. There was a time when a flash of ankle was considered obscene, and now such a thought seems ludicrous even though all we’ve done is change which body parts we’re supposed to cover. Nudism goes beyond just being “more comfortable.” It’s the beginning of a change in the social structure that not only perpetuates the sexism that generates sexual and other kinds of abuse, but dictates the insecurities and motivations of men, women and everyone else in between or outside the binary who are obsessed from the length of their toenails to the split ends in their hair. Nudism literally eradicates a barrier that, once removed, forces people to really see each other and inevitably conclude that… my god! There really are more important things than what our bodies look like and what we do to or with them.

Interview with Nicktape of Coke Bust

Coke Bust interview
1.      When did the band begin to take form?  How did you come up with the name of the band?  Did you take a Mrs. Doubtfire- like approach to the name?  What bands inspired you to play that sound that you do?
The band started in 2006 when my friend, Parsons, and I wanted to sound a band that sounded like SUICIDAL TENDENCIES. That didn't work out, but the addition of Chris on drums really sped things up. All of us (except Chris at that time) loved youth crew. He was more into grindcore, fastcore, whatever. The mixing of preferences made a somewhat unique blend I think.
The band name is stupid. Our friend jokingly suggested it and we were too dumb to think of a better one. There is no meaning behind it. Youth of Today, Heresy, Ripcord were the three main influences.
2.      Who is in the band?  Where are you guys from, and how does that play into the day-to-day aspects of the band?  Have you guys been in bands before this?  What were they, if any?
We are all from DC. The band right now is me (nicktape), Chris (drums -also in SICK FIX / MAGRUDERGRIND / DOC). James - Guitar, Jubert – Bass (also in MISLED YOUTH). I also play in SECTARIAN VIOLENCE. I was in the following bands: NO MINION (guitar), RATIONS (bass), BAIL OUT! (vocals), and GRIPTAPE (vocals).
3.      Where do you get your lyrical inspiration?  Where do you guys stand, politically and philosophically?  Why did you become (and remain) straight edge?
Lyrics come from whatever I'm feeling at the moment. Every once in a while something will come to mind and I'll feel strongly about it… whether it's personal, political, social, whatever... I'll write it down. When it comes time to write lyrics I just use that stuff. There's no real contrived motivation behind the lyrics. I keep it natural. I think that's the best way to go.  Politically we are more or less the same I guess. Anti war, pro legalization, pro choice, anti imperialist, etc. We probably disagree on some economic issues but socially we are all 100% on the same page. Fuck drugs. They ruin people's lives.
4.      What are some of the better bands you've gotten to play with?  Where have you toured to and from?  Do you have any upcoming plans for tour or a new record?  Can you discuss any of those possible details?
We have played with too many great bands to keep track of and name! We have toured all over the united states from Portland to Miami to Vermont to LA. Done a few shows in Canada. We've played all over the UK and Europe. We have a split with Vaccine coming out and we're doing an INSANE European tour this summer :)
5.      What are some of your hobbies outside of the band?  Are there any stories behind them you'd like to tell (I noticed you, Nick, are a Redskins fan)?
I fucking love the redskins! I love to work out, cook food, and do healthy stuff. I collect stamps. I love to travel (touring counts and doesn't count at the same time, ya know?). I run my own business, too. Between my bands and my work there isn't a lot of time left though, to be honest. I'm OK with that. I like what I do. Stories... hmm... I don't know. I went to Puerto Rico with a few friends last summer and we went kayaking in a bio luminescent bay. THAT was awesome. In the fall I love to cook awesome food with my dad and watch the Redskins lose :/
6.      What is the D.C. scene like?  Where are some places to play on the regular?  Who else do you like to play with at home?  Are you as popular (so to speak) at home as you are elsewhere?
DC is cool right now! Lots of younger kids. We have a few consistent venues. Everything is more or less all ages which is AWESOME. Good DC bands: SICK FIX, MISLED YOUTH, MINDSET, DOC, etc etc. There are lots! We aren't popular, but any show we play in DC at this point will have between 50-100 kids. SO that's nice. We definitely draw bigger crowds in other
certain cities though. Some cities don't care about us at all though... and that's cool too haha.
7.      What are some differences between the punk scenes in the U.S. and Europe?  Do you think one could take inspiration from the other and better their respective scenes?  If so, how?
In the US things seem a lot less serious than in Europe. That can be good and bad, but it's mostly bad. Gigs are much more like clockwork in Europe. PA is never a question. Food is always at the gig. In my 9 weeks of touring experience in Europe I've never been with a band that was paid poorly. All the shows had much more consistent attendance and there was never a question about having a place to stay. Bands are taken care of better, for sure. I think we could learn a lot from their organization and dedication. You see a lot more older punks in Europe too. It's a great place.
8.      What are your feelings on vinyl and cassettes?  Are they just a dying format or a viable source for music that will resurge if and when digital formats fall?
I think in punk vinyl is alive and well. I have mixed feelings on cassettes. Some people are into them. Some aren't. We make them because people want them. I personally like vinyl the best. Digital formats will never fall. I'd be willing to bet that for every physical coke bust record, there are 10 digital versions on hard drives haha. Think about all those kids in Southeast Asia! For the record I 100% do not care about people downloading our music. Go buck wild. If you bootleg it I'll be pissed, but share away. We do this because it is fun. If you like us and want to support us, paying for the digital download is a nice way of saying, "awesome" and thanking the label for putting it out.
9.      What's the importance of the DIY network to current bands?  Do you have any problem playing a bar?  Is connection to DIY related to passion for one's band?
DIY is definitely important. It's the only way I know when it comes to handling band business. So in that sense it's tough to really speak on. I've been involved with DIY hardcore since I was 14. I have mixed feelings on bars. I definitely wouldn't want to ONLY play bars, that's for sure.
10.  Why do you feel many bands stick to the East or West coasts when touring?  Is there a way to change this prevailing mentality?  Why not/ how so?
I think that more and more bands are choosing to do short weekend tours over huge national tours. This is, in my opinion, for a few reasons. More and more people are doing like... 5 bands at once. Lots of side projects. This means that people have to spread their time very thin. People are less dedicated to their bands and the overall quality suffers. People don't take their bands as seriously. Bands split up as fast as they come. It bugs me. All I can say for you in Detroit is to keep doing your thing. Start bands, do rad shows, get kids involved and CREATE your own scene. Don't rely on LA, Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco to come to you. Go to them and show them what you are about.
11.  Is there anything we didn't cover that you would like to include or say to your fans and/or my readers?
Just want to send out my love to everyone who has ever helped us out as a band. Thanks so much.
11.5. What inspired you to respond to e-mails so quickly?
I link up all my email accounts... band, personal, business, etc. I sit behind a computer 10 hours a day between working, band stuff, and dicking around. I always like fast responses, so I try to give them :)
Thanks David!

Interview with Protestant

Interview with Protestant
1.      Who's in the band, and what do they do?  How did you come up with the name?  Are you anti-Catholicism?
Brian - drums / vocals; Chris - guitar / vocals; Cory - vocals / guitar; Jesse - bass / vocals.
We needed a simple, one word name.  We like Rorschach. Protestants built (ruined) this country.  Whatever that implies, no, we don’t, though it’s one of the sillier versions of western religion/ Christianity.
2.      You've put out CDs, cassettes, and vinyl records.  What's your preferred medium and why?
Yep- vinyl.  Though we all probably listen to music digitally the most, we all grew up on records, and buy them first and foremost.  Vinyl is by far the best physical format, hands down.  Artwork, tactile experience involved, etc.
3.      What's Milwaukee (and Wisconsin as a whole) like, scene-wise? Community-wise?  Is Wisconsin as plagued with cheese and Scott Walker as the media makes it seem?
It’s pretty active for how few people we have; I mean, Milwaukee has 600,000 people or less and there are countless bands, and in the summer, like a show every day.
The 'scenes' are pretty split up to some extent, but overall, everyone seems to find people to play to.  The other big(ish) cities do their own thing for the most part, but Appleton and Madison have their slew of bands/ shows and such as well and people make the rounds, especially in the summer.
Plagued by cheese?  I like cheese! (The vegans in my band don’t).  Are we a mostly rural/ suburban republican state?  Yes.  The difference in a few miles ideologically once you leave the cities is pretty insane.  Scott Walker is a weasel.  So much of the state only cares about how high their taxes are while kids in Milwaukee can barely read and have nothing to eat.  People who support him and the rest of his union busting cronies the nation over are garbage, pure and simple.
4.      What are some of your influences?  You play a newer style of hardcore that's a lot darker and moodier than most punk; was this deliberate or a result of unplanned evolution?
Hmm- we like stuff from all over the place, to be honest.  We all agree on a basic genre of hardcore/ punk, I suppose, though again we probably each hate the other guys’ favorite band.
Nothing is deliberate per se.  We just write what we do, I guess.  If it’s 'too Pennywise' it gets tossed, but you'll find weird melodies beneath the stuff we do if you listen close.
5.      How often do touring acts hit Milwaukee?  Have you opened for anyone notable?  If you did, do you have any special stories about your encounter(s), good or bad?  If so, please divulge them.
All the time; I mean, some big tours and some awesome bands alike skip us, but we (see above) have shows all the time here.  Bands from everywhere play here, as the multitude of bands from here have connections the country/ world over, since many tour or have.
 Hmm… notable?  You’d have to be more precise, but I guess TRAGEDY, MODERN LIFE IS WAR, THOU, WITCHCRAFT are notable.  We’ve played a lot of shows over the years, and we've liked most of the bands we've met/played with, I guess.  There have been assholes, sure, but mostly due to the fact that they were playing with us, a hardcore punk band, and we had nothing in common with them.  Then again, lots of punks are shitheads too.  AMAROK from California are the nicest people on earth. There ya go.
6.      What is it like running a label (Halo of Flies)?  Does it aid in promoting your music, or is it more of a drag on the band than it is a benefit?  What's your favorite record that you've pressed, and why?
It’s insanely time consuming and non-stop. I work on the label about 35hrs a week; still, it’s fun and I love it.
Yes, of course. I’m already talking to people about bands/ records all the time, so promoting Protestant comes with the territory, as it does any band/any release. Though of course, I do all the same stuff for the band as well, so it’s hard to separate them sometimes, as far as telling people to get stoked on it.  A drag?  Not sure what you mean, but I think the label benefits the band for the most part.
God, I have no idea. I really like a lot of them, even after a few years.  Recent stuff has been especially rewarding, but I don’t have a hands down favorite.
7.      How is the Midwest different from the rest of the United States, from your observations and experiences, in punk and in regular life?  Why should a touring group play around here?
It’s better.  More open minded to some degree, a bit more lost and desperate.  I like certain pockets of the coasts I have seen, but I like it here.  Look, America is a vacant wasteland for the most part.  Gas stations and bullshit as far as the eye can see.  At least here we have a little space and actual seasons.
Why?  Kids are usually into shit; they’re less jaded, or so it seems.
8.      What local bands are your favorites?  Have you played with any of them?  What are a few places to play in the greater Milwaukee area for bands in need of a place to play in Wisconsin?
NORTHLESS, GET RAD, ENABLER, HOLY SHIT!, NO BRAINER, MOON CURSE, IRON CAGES, CALL ME LIGHTNING, the list really goes on.  Yes, we've played with all of them.
Houses: (Ground Zero, the Paper Trail, etc), the Borg Ward, Quarters (21+), the CCC, etc.
9.      How do you feel Protestant fits into this Milwaukee scene?
Well, I guess we fit in; we play somewhat rarely here, maybe every month or two.  But we are friends with most everyone to some degree.  On the other hand, we are all older and make fewer shows than we used to due to jobs, houses, etc.  We’re kinda grumpy old men to some here, I would imagine.
10.  Anything you wish to add?
We have records and shit. www.protestantmilwaukee.com.  We have a split 6" coming out in like 2 weeks (with SUFFERING MIND from Poland), and plan on touring this fall.  New LP out in 2013, I guess.
10.5.     Come to Detroit/ MI soon!  You'd be most welcome!
Ok, maybe in October. ;)