A lot of people still don't know, so what is your take on the Kinghorse split?
Like Mark said in your interview with him, our band isn't officially broken up, I think that's more or less for psychic reasons for everybody because it sounds a lot better. I guess I instigated the fact that we weren't going to play anymore, just like I did the first time. Kinghorse never really had the money or the inclination to get real management, and because we didn't have management it was impossible for us to go into any negotiations with any kind of record companies. I simply wasn't going to do the same thing again. I know we're the best band of that type that's ever existed...probably pretty close.
There just wasn't any kind of communication between us and the record companies. The real problem lies in the fact that we are socially from a different crowd than the kind of people that listen to the ÂHorse and the kind of people that were fans. Wherever we sold records, which was pretty much everywhere. I mean we're punk rocker people. We're from the punk thing here in Louisville which is not in anyway metal at all. Socially we didn't live metal guy lives. I was raised in the scene hanging around bands like the Endtables and the Babylon Dance Band, hanging around all these art fuck people. They were musically aggressive, but they were still art people. A lot of them went to Louisville School of Art and everybody had different types of interests, its not the kinds of things a metal guy would do. We didn't ever want to hang around metal people or do the things metal guys did or any of that crap..
Well, I don't know what they'd fucking do... I'd just know that I didn't want anything to do with it. You know, like watch cartoons and smoke pot all the time, whatever metal guys do... I don't know. I just know I didn't want to be associated with anything like that, ever. I was in two bands that were unbelievably heavy just by accident. I have no idea why that is, don't ask me... it was the will of God. I wanted to be in the Circle Jerks and I ended up being in Maurice which was so out of control and over the top... it's fucking retarded. If I can find it, I've got a tape of Maurice's first show which sounds like the Circle Jerks or something. You know, like generic, stupid punk rock. I was perfectly happy doing that, that's kind of what I was into and it drifted into this "thing" and I got drug into this world that I didn't want anything to do with.
But here's where things got fucked up, we (Kinghorse) found ourselves in places and with people who we would never be with, ever, and situations where we would never want to be. Now when you're with Bacayu and Brownstein who were at the time... I can't explain to you how annoying they were. They were like the Marx brothers. They were so annoying. I mean, poor Mark, the stuff he had to deal with is unbelievable. We went off more than you would ever understand. We went off. Everyplace we would go we would meet someone who's supposed to do us some kind of favor and we would just annoy the fucking shit out of them. We annoyed the shit out of the record company, we annoyed the shit out of all the radio programs we got on and got thrown off the air. We just acted like idiots because everyone we were around was like "Yeah, dude! Testament!" or whatever; where at home we listen to Swans or something. In my case it was like Hank Williams or twenties jazz, which was all I cared about for most of the time I was in Kinghorse. This whole time we were around people who were like "Yeah man, you're bad! You're band is bad!" You know and it was just like "eeooeww" (the sound you would make after putting your hand in dog shit. -ed.) "What am I doing here with you?"
So anyway it started happening again. We realized that all the labels who all these people we grew up with were on weren't going to touch our band because we would bring in "bad culture" (meaning what they perceived as low brow culture. ed.) into wherever they were at and they couldn't deal with that. We were friends with a lot of people on all these labels, you know the people I'm talking about, and they all had this reputation of being kind of Euro-centric tight-ass white people that do tight-ass white people music. I dig those people, they are my friends, but you send tapes to their record companies and they think, "God man, we've known these people for years, but if we get them we know what comes with them." You know, its like "Dudes going off man, wreckin' shit, fuckin' causin' riots, throwin' stuff, ooh fuckin' yeah! Wreckin' the Toy Tiger!" ,,, you know, that's what comes with it. I can't say that I blame them (the labels).
Some of the shows from the second incarnation of the band were more ridiculous than any of the shows from the first incarnation of the band. There were some shows with Jerry, like in Ohio, where I'm literally fighting the whole crowd. It was beyond anything like before, it was total fucking war. We did shows with a whole bunch of straightedge bands... that didn't work. We did shows with our Anglo-phile friends' bands... that didn't work. We were stuck in this never-never land where nothing ever gelled... we didn't fit in anywhere, we never would. You know its like Mark's a fucking garbage man who's probably one of the most artistically adept person I've ever known, but comes across like a fucking lumberjack or something. Then there's Brownstein who's hyper-intelligent but is stuck in sixth grade or something. He thinks, like, duct taping you legs together or drawing dots on you with a magic marker while you're asleep is funny. So it just doesn't gel, there was no place for us to go, there was no place for us to fit and I saw it happening again, so I just said, What's the point?"
Have you talked to Mark since...?
No. I haven't seen anybody. I've talked to Kevin and I tried to talk to Jerry, but it was almost impossible because its like he's not really here on earth with us anymore, he's become sort of like a plant... it's hard to describe. I've seen Bacayu around, but what the fuck are you going to talk to him about, you know?
How would you respond to accusations that bands like Erchint and OUT. were or are Kinghorse clones?
I think if they were clones they'd have a lot more lead guitar, wouldn't they? I don't think they are anything like our band.
When did you know that you didn't want to live like "normal" people?
Well, I wasn't raised in a normal fashion at all. My household was filled with very mythical type figures. My parents to me weren't even like people, they were like mythical figures. They did everything they could to make sure you believed this. Normal life was completely unacceptable for them. They were really heavily into outrageously super-dramatic stuff. Life was like a Wagner opera. I knew it was time to come in and go to bed because "the Ride of the Valkyrie's" would come on. It's hard for me to really describe. My mother was really just hyper-dramatic looking, she had this long crazy hair that she would dye blue-black. She looked like a witch. She had the uncanny ability to read your mind and she would fuck with you about it. I remember one time I was at the house and I had some girl there. I was peeling her panties off and the phone, which was right next to me, starts ringing and I'm like "Hello!?" and my mother says to me, "Whatever you're doing... Stop!" She did that kind of shit to me all the time! So I was like "okay, you've gotta go!" She knew what you were doing, you couldn't hide anything from her and she was real witchy and scary. I'm really terrified of them. Really, I am. That's probably the single most unifying thing about my life... my obsession with those two people. It's very strange because I've never been completely convinced that they're dead. I know that's hard to believe, but I simply cannot accept the fact that they're not around. My father died when I was six and that was pretty much the end of our family. We were all so co-dependent and completely immeshed in this crazy, tangled web that when he died, we were just shattered. It was like at night my father would come in the dark and recite Lewis Carrol's "The Walrus and the Carpenter" until we fell asleep or he would read Alan Ginsberg to you at breakfast. He instilled this obsession in me with oratory dramatics. Shakespeare was a big thing around our house. Anything that reeked of gallantry and heroism, my parents were obsessed with. That, combined with movies, really fucked my mind up.
During that time I watched a lot of old westerns and swashbuckling Errol Flynn(sp?) movies... these things fucked me up real bad. I would watch these films and my parents, to me, were a lot like these people. So anything that isn't dramatic or bigger than life I simply can't relate to. It's like your emotions have to overwhelm or your not feeling anything. It's as if you have to be on the verge of suicide or death or manic happiness at all times. I don't understand how to operate with normal people because of the super-drama I was raised in. When I got older and I was in school, I realized... "Ooh boy, these people are dull, dull, dull." Being in class was dull. I would start shit because I was raised to flank and attack, intellectually. In middle school, I couldn't believe how dull everyone was... that's when things started fucking up. It was the beginning of the end. About the same time I started to behave very strangely. My whole reputation is really based on a few isolated incidents that happened between the ages of 14 and 17 that were so out of control and ridiculous that it was like a tidal wave that has followed me to this day. I don't know if we were all crazy and did strange things or if we were just raised to think that this is how you're supposed to act... I don't know which is which.
But that's when I knew that I wasn't going to be able to live any kind of normal life. It seems like everyone else is preoccupied with keeping a cool head. They pride themselves on their ability to be detached and unknowable or whatever, but they're not under any kind of attack, which to me is the thing. If I'm fucking with you and you can just be "La-di-da", then it's a big deal. In everyday life, how hard is it to be icy and sure of yourself? Nothing's happening to you! But the second something happens to these people they fall apart, but not me. Oh no, the more out of control it is, the better. I mean if this neighborhood started to burn down I'd be the only person who knew what to do because I'd be like (starts clapping and hopping up and down in his chair), "Ooh... something's happening! Ooh, ooh, fire! Oh, we're gonna live in a box now! Fire good!"
Like, go get a bag of marshmallows?
Yeah! Something like that is exactly what I would do! I would immediately think, "What is the dumbest, most stupid thing I can do right now?" So this became an addiction worse than drugs or anything else you could imagine... the addiction to "what's the most annoying thing I can do right now?" When people meet you and know that you are bright, but you insist on doing the most insipid, egregious, stupid stuff... well... that's fun. The older you get, the stranger it looks whereas you can get away with it when you're 15.
Your first band, Maurice, toured with Samhain. How did that come about?
That Glenn guy was very nice to me, I was in his band's fan club. We asked to do it, he said okay, we did it, and it was... horrible. He's a very bitter person... an intensely unhappy person. The kind of music we were doing which was a cross between Slint and Black Sabbath... in 1985, people were not ready for it. So... it didn't work.
Is there a particular ritual or method you use when writing lyrics?
No. For some reason that seems to be the only thing that I can really do with no problem at all.
Anytime at all?
Anytime. If I have a musical format to work to. I think, probably, one out of ever five things I write is okay. I don't really think about it at all, I just do it. I don't form ideas, I usually just write the first line and the rest writes itself. I don't know how that happens. My first poems were published when I was about eight years old in these, like, Southern poetry journals. One of the reasons I got into poetry was because I wanted to write lyrics to songs. Ever since I was very young I would buy all these rock records, like top 40 radio music, until my brother brought home the Sex Pistols record and destroyed my life. All these words just soaked in my head and I remember sitting there listening to these records thinking, "Ooh, somebody is c-l-e-v-e-r... that's pretty good.. that's just innocuous!" It's just... lyrics are my thing, it's the only thing I can really do. Well, that and make a fool out of myself.
Is there a particular set of lyrics that you are most happy with?
That's a good question. As far as being as close to what I was thinking I was really pleased with "Descend" a lot. I was very unhappy when I wrote that. I remember the day I wrote it and the circumstances that I wrote it under. I was very depressed. Every six months or so I act very strangely and there is nothing I can do about it. That day I was resolved to the fact that it was going to keep happening. I was really unhappy with the fact that I did not act in a consistent way. So, yeah, that song was pretty on the mark at the time. I'm probably most happy with some of the stuff I've done for Driftin' Luke. Lyrically, I feel it's the best I've done by far.
Nate (Nathan from Red Sun) likes the lyrics to "Charge" a lot.
Yeah, that's another good one. I remember writing that on Lucy's (Sean's former girlfriend) mother's computer with a walkman on, playing the music. I remember writing three or four really bad lyrics to that. Now, Lucy never stuck her nose into my business, but I remember specifically showing her the things I was writing to it and she was just like, "Man, you've wrote this a million times." That's when I started wondering what the whole Kinghorse holy war-freak parade concept must look like to someone who isn't involved with it. That kind of developed into this whole thing about manliness and theway men behave and their desire to embrace defeat.
Did you grow up in PRP?
Actually, the neighborhood I grew up close to was Sylvania. I grew up with inbred people chasing their escaped chickens through the yard. We had this real suburban house, but once you got out of the yard things changed completely. You could walk through the woods behind my house and there were people back there that still didn't have running water. All these weird combinations of things like opera playing at my house, my dad doing the St. Crispens Day speech from Henry the V at the top of his lungs during breakfast and strange Sylvanians having pig rides on the weekends really fucked me up. Then there's the whole thing where my brother started bringing punk records home. It's like American culture beat me over the head with a tennis racquet.
There is so much in the music business and in American that is poisoned by classism. If you're a guy from the neighborhood that we're from (the South End) people want to keep you there. They (upper crust coolies) tend to want to keep you at arms reach if you don't act in some way that makes them feel like you are as high brow as they are. The second that they realize you're closer to the "farmer" side of the fence they don't want anything to do with you. I do it too though. Like I said before, a lot of the people that were interested in Kinghorse... I didn't want anything to do with them. Well, the same thing happened to me, a lot of the record companies thought we were crazy, redneck freaks. My problem was never being able to accept the fact that no matter what I did, I was going to come across as a Valley Station freak. It's like everytime I'd go to New York, I'd realize, "I'm talking like this." (in a hillbilly accent)
I can relate.
Yeah, it's depressing. With me it was always like, if I could learn to behave in a certain way I could somehow infiltrate those people and hang out with them or whatever. But what happens is everytime it's on the line, I have to strike a blow for Valley Station. I have to. I don't want to because I know I'm fucking my own life up, I just have to. I have to do or say something stupid and blow the whole thing. Every fucking time. It's just like when we (Driftin' Luke) that showcase for Touch n Go. I got fucked up out of my mind and was just an asshole. The crowd eats it up, but the record company guys are like getting nervous and shit. I mean, I read Dostoyevsky and I went to college, but I don't want you to know that. It's like Mark with the fishing hat. (everyone is laughing) He wouldn't take it off, man. It looked stupid. That fucking hat looked stupid. He played like a god that whole tour. I've only seen him do one bad show, the night he showed up tanked at the reunion. He always played perfectly, but he looked like the biggest huckle-berry idiot and he was doing it on purpose.
He just didn't care...
No. He did not give a flat fuck. Somehow he just knew... he would just always blow it. We'd ask him, "Man, shave your head again. It looks really cool and you're just scary when you shave your head." And he'd be like, "Fuck no man, no way." So he would grow his hair out and wear that fucking hat and I would realize I was the guy in the dumb rock uniform. I'd look at Mark and I'd think, "I just don't have the balls to be like that."
Where do you see the local music scene going?
Well, everyone that's over 25 has pretty much bailed. The bands are all really young and it's all dumber than ever. When it gets this bad though, it's only a matter of time before things explode again and then living here is the greatest thing in the world for a while. I went to the Sugar Doe for a Retsin acoustic set and you wouldn't believe how many kids were there. There are a million of those fuckers out there. Once these kidsare old enough to move into the bar scene, if they stay in the city, things will explode.
As far as I'm concerned, the all ages thing is dead. The kids don't recognize the good bands... like that OUT. record should be selling a lot, but it's not. It's the best record of it's kind that I've heard in ten years, at least. The kids don't know what's going on. They have the straight-edge thing. Right! See, I don't know anything about that. That shit is none of our affair. It's our responsibility to act like that's not even happening. Just look away. Anytime you see something like that, just refuse to acknowledge it. I see them around and the second they're twenty-one, I see them in bars hanging out and drinking beer. So if the kids that are 18 or 19 years old stay in town things will probably get big again, but it won't ever be like it was before.
When was the last time everything was "right"?
For a moment when we had the Slamdek thing getting out of hand it seemed like the city was going to be taken over by the music again, but it didn't happen. They wussed out. The people we're talking about aren't high energy people... they're not into starting trouble or taking chances. The last time I felt was acceptable was the Oblong Box, Endpoint, Kinghorse era. It was out of control. The early eighties was a lot of fun for me and 89-90 was way out. It was like Undermine, Erchint...During that time there were so many flyers up for shows it was almost retarded. That would be nice to have again, but I don't see it.
How did you get into writing your own songs?
I started to teach myself to play guitar after Kinghorse broke up the first time. I couldn't stop listening to the second Bob Dylan record. From that I learned some folk style guitar patterns. I had found some various Honky Tonk records at my parents house like Hank and Porter Wagner or George Jones and took them back to my apartment. I couldn't believe how demented these records were. When I went out and bought the Hank Williams box set, on the last record its just him by himself with his guitar and it blew my mind. I had the same reaction as when I first heard punk rock. I had always liked the band okay, but his solo stuff just literally blew me away. I became obsessed with it and got everything I could find he had done, like demos he made in his bedroom and that's how I learned to play guitar. I couldn't believe how much fun it was to just sit around all day and play all these Hank songs.
I started writing these songs of my own and thought, "I'll write Kinghorse lyrics to Hank Williams music." I didn't know that all these other people had stumbled onto the same thing at the same time. Take Will Oldham, it's like he's playing Neil Young songs, but it's someone way more fucked up and demonic than Neil writing the songs. He's using contemporary Americana folk forms, but he's saying things that a modern guy would say and think... just like Dylan did in the sixties. That's how I got into trouble with the ÂHorse because, like that song "In Native Soil" (an unreleased Kinghorse song) that you guys like so much... that's me writing a folk song to Kinghorse music. That didn't work, it made them (the Kinghorse guys) very angry. They were like, "This doesn't work with our band" and I was like, "wait a minute, if I'm writing the lyrics, it works." Kevin was totally incensed. It pissed me off more than it should have because, really, Kevin was right... it didn't belong with Kinghorse, I should have done something else on the side
Is that why he is so opposed to putting out that particular set of songs?
Yeah, he didn't like it.
Who else is in Driftin' Luke and what are their previous projects?
Corey Roder plays bass and he was in Enkindel, but he's very unhappy with that. Wink O'Bannon has been in more bands than you could imagine. That's the core members. I don't know how much longer Wink will be able to continue to play though because he has so many physical problems. Sometimes Dave Bird plays with us. (note: Dave Bird also played in Driftin' Luke's first incarnation, The Spurs, of which they have retained six songs. Dave currently plays guitar in OUT.) And there have been other times when Benny Clark and Joey Yates from the Loved have played with us, which was a disaster because they weren't ready for what I would do. The second that I'm on stage I become unbearably furious. I don't know why, I just always have. It was especially so in the ÂHorse days... I get up there and everybody's looking at me like, Okay, start something. We're waiting for you to tell us to tear this place apart, so you can get into trouble." So in Luke, I get up there and I realize there isn't going to be this big dramatic, crazy scene with the crowd. So I end up getting trashed or pissed or something that will make it memorable for me. You know, it's like, "Yeah, I sang good, we sounded great... YAWN... time to go home." That's no good, I want everybody to at least say, "Man, that guy was a dick." or something.
What are some of your creative outlets other than music?
Well, off and on I paint, but I can't do it at all, but I like to. I work out a lot with my friends. I don't fight in the SCA (MidevilSP? re-enactment) as much as I used to because I have injuries. I'm a demonic letter writer. I write like these ridiculous 20 page missives to people I know. I love to interview bands, that's a lot of fun because I make them really stupid. I liked writing my column for Hard Times and I think I'm going to do a different magazine and call it Culture War. I'll probably get into a lot of trouble for it, because I'm just gonna trash everything. I hate the modern world... I'm at war with it.
Like Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber)?
Well I like him, but anyone with any sense likes him and not because he blew people up, but because he's just like, "This sucks." A lot of people think the cultural landscape sucks. I would like to create this magazine that will show people on an individual basis how to completely re-create their own universe based on their own set of aesthetics. It needs to be okay for people to take matters into their own hands and change their surroundings, like wearing a big, stupid sombrero on the bus. It changes everything about where you are right then, you are being continually entertained because you know you look like a fool. Just get to the point where you can't discuss anything with anybody.
Who are other singers you admire?
I admire Cathy (Freakwater), Will Oldham, Robbie Fulks. There is a poet named William Lorraine Smith, he is a genius. I like Brett Ralph's poetry and his songs, too. I could tell you about a lot of people I don't like, such as the lesbian folk singer thing... I can't deal with that at all. Fiona Apple and Jewel just drive me crazy, I don't get it. The songs and material are just bad... no good at all. I'm not saying anything I do is any better than Jewel, it's probably just a macho, short-guy version of that stupid shit, so it's possible that it's just as big of a joke.