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an interview with monster of rock — Timo..!
This Thursday, Spacehog fans fortunate enough to be at New York’s Rockwood Music Hall, will not only be amongst the first to hear live performances of tunes from the upcoming new album, but they will also be there for the debut of Spacehog’s new guitarist Timo Ellis. “Wait, what???,” you might be saying. That’s okay. Take a minute, I’ll wait.
Yessssss, you did read that correctly. There is a new album, As It Is On Earth, due out this May, and joining Royston, Jonny, and Rich, is The Netherlands’ Timo Ellis, who has stepped in on guitar and vocals for Antony, as Antony pursues fame and fortune in film on the west coast.
For those who may be wondering about this fresh face in the band, Timo was kind enough to allow me an interview.
Charlotte: Jonny Cragg once mentioned jamming with you and Sean Lennon back in the summer of 1994. Was this when you first met? What was your impression of the Spacehog guys at that time?
Timo: ..I just remember initially thinking that they were sweet and totally hilarious (and then not too much later that they were making a really great record!!)
C: On your website you list yourself as performer, producer, tv/film composer, arranger, drummer, guitarist, bassist, singer, songwriter, ukulele-r, programmer, visual artist, and graphic designer from New York City, and on your Facebook band page under genre you list that you do it all. Is it fair to ask if there is an instrument, a role in the music world, and/or a specific type of genre that you like best or is that too much like asking a parent which kid they like best?
T: I’m a drummer first but I’ve been playing guitar and bass for almost as long..in recent years I’ve done a lot more composing/ recording/ producing stuff as distinct from really becoming more virtuosic on any one instrument…+ “genre-wise” on a professional level it would probably help me if I really aesthetically refined/ simplified my “brand”, so to speak, but well, I don’t really feel like doing that, frankly!
C: Bands that you are currently in are The Netherlands, Miho Hatori, Cibo Matto, and of course Spacehog. How do you balance your time between various bands and any other projects that you may have in the works?
T: I work at least 12 hours a day, every day IE I don’t have a lot of “balance”. C’est la vie tho, ya know?
C: Thursday, February 16th, you play with both Spacehog and The Netherlands. Is that as exhausting as it sounds?
T: Not in the slightest! It’s gonna be wicked!!!
C: Is it true that you’ve released over 25 EP’s and Albums, including your first solo EP, The Enchanted Forest of Timo Ellis in 2001? What is it that inspires you?
T: I wouldn’t say I’m inspired really; obsessed is more like it
C: How long have you been working with Spacehog? You may be considered by fans to be “the new guy” but in eyeballing your accomplishments, your projects, and collaborations, some with names that have also been associated with other members of Spacehog, is “the new guy” an unfair or inaccurate assessment of your relationship with Spacehog?
T: I’ve only been playing with these guys this year..+ I am the “new guy” so I don’t mind being called that (+ doesn’t it connote being young, or “fresh” or something?)
C: After waiting over ten years, long time Spacehog fans finally got the news they wanted to hear last month, that the 4th album is to be released this spring. The website was revamped and a brand new Spacehog tune and video was premiered. Then holy moley, there was a bit of a shock, as fans realized that Antony Langdon was not in this line up. As Ant’s presence in the band has always been a strong one, there may be some fans who find the idea of someone, anyone, stepping in on guitar and vocals for him to be a bit disconcerting. Does knowing this affect you going on stage, particularly for the upcoming shows, where some fans may still not be aware of the change?
T: yeah…I’m not even caught up in any of that; hopefully people won’t be put off by it fer very long, if at all
C: You provide lead vocals in some of your other projects, will you share in the lead vocal duties with Roy for Spacehog? If so, would this be for some of the new songs, their old songs, or both?
T: yes, both! ..mad fun, it is!
C: The list of other musicians that you’ve collaborated with is quite extensive. So a fun question…. with no limits what so ever, even if a time machine were required, who or what band would you love to perform with?
T: Spacehog in 1996 (+ I was skinnier back then…)
C: What are your interests aside from music?
T: ..the arts!!! food, film, design, politics, history, philosophy…ya know, the humanities/ the usual left-wing stuff
Here’s sending huge amounts of gratitude to Timo for taking time out of his insanely busy schedule to answer my nosy questions! And for those reading this, quick, quick… turn up the volume and click the links below to hear and see the talented Mr. Ellis’s other projects…
an interview with Nick Ferreira…
Nick Ferreira and his lady Kerry recently opened up Amigos Shop in Providence, RI (in addition to Amigos Publishing). Amigos shop will sell Zines, Art, Books etc. I threw some questions at them about it all, so check that out.
Nuno Olivera: How did Amigos Publishing & Shop come to be?
Nick Ferreira: Originally, Kerry and I started Amigos Publishing as a side project when we were living in LA. We just thought it’d be cool to publish stuff that our creative friends made. We never really had any big goals for it and since we both work or go to school or whatever, it was just a fun side project, and continues to be except as a legit business which is interesting and weird at the same time. And as for the shop, it’s something that I’ve wanted to do since I graduated high school probably. Well, some sort of art space that is. Then the first time I went to Printed Matter in New York at its old location pretty much solidified my ideas and real interest for art books and art objects offered in an affordable manner. Also, while living in LA my girlfriend and partner, Kerry, interned at Ooga Booga. Between attending events there and just experiencing the real positive vibe that Wendy, Max, and crew put off, I really saw how important and helpful a place like that can be to an area. A good way to look at it is your local bike shop. The vibe I got from Ooga Booga was always welcoming, similar to the two bike shops I’ve frequented most over the years, Dick Maul’s and Circuit BMX.
NO: What is the goal with the shop, and what will be available there?
NF: The goal for the shop is to offer a large selection of independent publications, books, media, and art objects. We’re not really going to pigeonhole what are goals are too much in the beginning because I like the idea of things sort of coming together naturally and learning from previous things. But we do hope to offer a good amount in the form of release parties, movie screenings, and small openings that use our tiny space wisely. I’m looking forward to working with local and non local artists and, like the zines we publish, our friends who make and are about interesting things. Right now our inventory is pretty small but we will have books and zines published by us, Amigos, Swill Children from Brooklyn, The Kingsboro Press, Hamburger Eyes, Elk, Mothersnews, Teenage Teardrops, etc. We also have a bunch of stuff from various artists.
NO: How did the name “Amigos” come about?
NF: It came about because it seemed like the simplest and best looking name we could think of. We’re about our friends but, friends doesn’t look as good as Amigos. I hate naming things.
NO: For those who are not familiar, give us a little insight into the Zine scene. Even though it’s pretty niche, it is definitely a popular creative outlet.
NF: Well, I’m no expert but there’s a lot of cool stuff going on with zines, and art zines in general. Way more than your sort of stereotypical peace punk, vegan recipe zine. If you have been to the N.Y. Art Book Fair that Printed Matter has been putting on for a few years now, this year especially, the whole third floor of MOMA’s P.S. 1 was taken over by some real awesome and interesting zines. It was so overwhelming. Publishers like Swill Children are doing real cool things in a sort of “zine” format. Their new Peter Sutherland book Worked, is great. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that there’s a whole bunch of things going on with art books and zines right now.
NO: You have been doing Holeshot for a minute, what is it about Zines that gets you stoked?
NF: Just knowing how getting zines in the mail used to make me feel sort of keeps me going and psyched. I also just really like creating this space that is exactly how I want it to look. My knowledge of web based things is limited so I can’t manipulate it as well as I can with print. My interest in zines and art books has also sort of led me to the only normal job I can see myself actually doing, which is a Librarian. It’s super niche and competitive but eventually, and hopefully, someday I’ll be able to work with artists’ books as a special collection. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll be happy to work a reference desk or be a Young Adult librarian.
NO: What are some of your favorite zines?
NF: Elk Zines and Books are consistently awesome. They are like the analog version of a site like Them Thangs but with contributors, images culled from archives, old skate zine covers, and just a whole bunch of ephemera. He also publishes books with artists and writers. It’s pretty awesome and I highly suggest checking it out when you get a chance. Some other cool zines I’ve grabbed recently were a No Age/Brian Roettinger collabo zine. The layout is dialed, its printed on a RISO machine and has letters that one of the band members wrote to Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth and in turn a letter Lee Ranaldo wrote back. Also, this series of Fanzines Oliver Payne makes Safe Crackers are sweet. The newest one was a fanzine devoted to arcade tokens and a 12 inch LP was released with it that featured field recordings of arcade games remixed. Prashant Gopal’s Locals Only, which is part of his series called Yo Sick, is one of my favorite newer BMX zines. My all time favorite BMX zine though is Skunk Zine. So raw and basically sums up what BMX means to me even to this day. It was made by some Skunk Bros affiliates in the late 90′s and blew my 13 year old mind.
NO: What can we expect from Amigos Publishing & the shop in the future?
NF: More titles published by Amigos and a constantly growing inventory. Right now we’re in the very early process of working with a few friends on a Black Sabbath inspired sound/print book. We also plan on having monthly events and rotating art installations, for this month we have an installation by Providence based artist Rachel Fae Coleman. April is set up for a surf themed month to sort of help usher summer in. We’ll be showing Point Break on April 20th and having some surf inspired art and books featured.
NO: Thanks, and good luck with the shop! Anything you would like to add before we wrap this up?
NF: Thanks for caring! If anyone reading this comes through Providence we’re located at 200 Allens Ave. Studio 7F (Second Floor), Providence RI 02903. There’s a bunch of sick spots by if that helps! You can also check us out on the web at www.amigospublishing.com.
AMIGOS SHOP will host a screening of
SATURDAY, JAN 28 @ 7pm
200 Allens Ave. Studio 7F, Providence 401.439.9532
the exuberant art of the cursed…
Born in Libya in 1934, Mario Schifano moved to Rome as a young child and lived there until his death in 1998. Artist, provocateur, filmmaker and rock musician, Schifano epitomized “la dolce vita.”
Early in his career he worked as a restorer, which led to his making his own paintings, which he began exhibiting in 1959; by 1961 he had signed a contract with Ileana Sonnabend and had shown collectively with Twombly and Rauschenberg.
As part of the historic 1962 “The New Realists” show at New York’s Sidney Janis Gallery, Schifano exhibited with fellow Romans Tano Festa and Mimmo Rotella, along with Warhol, Lichtenstein, Oldenburg, Dine and Segal. In 1964, his work was presented at the Venice Biennale.
This artistic exchange between both sides of the Atlantic fomented what is now known as the “Scuola Romana,” which has been shown by critics and artists alike to have been a prescient movement of its own, independent from American art.
Rome’s eclectic energy and august antiquity were the perfect background for this creative revolution. A vital presence in the Roman art scene, Schifano’s longtime drug habit brought police persecution and numerous arrests, a circumstance that led the artist to refer to his career as “maldoto,” or cursed.
Schifano and his contemporaries, Franco Angeli and Tano Festa, are still little known to American audiences. Andrea Franchetti, art collector, Tuscan winemaker and close friend of the artist, remembers, “Schifano was a very prolific and exuberant artist who did a lot for everyone. At the time the work was made, it was a consolation and a stimulus to see.” This is still true.
“UMANO NON UMANO” 1972 directed by Mario Schifano
Ian MacKaye’s take on the night Belushi got FEAR on network television…
Nardwuar: When Fear played on “Saturday Night Live” Ian (1981), did you go down to “Saturday Night Live” and check it out in New York with Rollins and the gang?
Ian MacKaye: Rollins was not there. I’ll tell you the story if you’d like to hear the story about that. At eight in the morning, some point in October, I got a call. I was driving a newspaper truck for The Washington Post at the time, so eight in the morning was brutal. It was (Dick Ebersol)’s office, (Dick Ebersol) being the producer of “Saturday Night Live,” and I get this woman, “(Dick Ebersol)’s office, please hold.” I was completely delirious. (Dick Ebersol) gets on the phone, “Hi, Ian, it’s (Dick Ebersol) of ‘Saturday Night Live,’ I’m calling you because I got your number from John Belushi. He says that you might be able to get some dancers up here ‘cause we want to have Fear on the show.” I was completely baffled by this. “Pardon me?” “Hold on a second.” John Belushi gets on the phone and he says, “This is John Belushi. I’m a big fan of Fear’s. I made a deal with ‘Saturday Night Live’ that I would make a cameo appearance on the show if they’d let Fear play. I got your number from Penelope Spheeris, who did ‘Decline of Western Civilization’ and she said that you guys, Washington DC punk rock kids, know how to dance. I want to get you guys to come up to the show.” It was worked out that we could all arrive at the Rockefeller Center where “Saturday Night Live” was being filmed. The password to get in was “Ian MacKaye.” We went up the day before. The Misfits played with The Necros at the Ukrainian hall, I think, so all of the Detroit people were there, like Tesco Vee and Cory Rusk from the Necros and all the Touch and Go people and a bunch of DC people – 15 to 20 of us came up from DC. Henry was gone. He was living in LA at this point. So we went to the show. During the dress rehearsal, a camera got knocked over. We were dancing and they were very angry with us and said that they were going to not let us do it then Belushi really put his foot down and insisted on it. So, during the actual set itself, they let us come out again. If you watch the show – have you seen it?
N: Yes I have.
IM: If you watch it – during the show – before they go to commercial, they always go to this jack-o-lantern. This carved pumpkin. If you watched it during the song, you’ll see one of our guys, this guy named Bill MacKenzie, coming out holding the pumpkin above his head because he’s just getting ready to smash it. And that’s when they cut it off. They kicked us out and locked us out for two hours. We were locked in a room because they were so angry with us about the behavior. I didn’t think it was that big of deal.
N: They locked you in a room?
IM: Yeah, we were locked in a room. They said they were going to sue us and have us arrested for damages. There was so much hype about that. The New York Post reported half a million dollars worth of damages. It was nothing. It was a plastic clip that got broken. It was a very interesting experience and I realized how completely unnatural it is for a band to be on a television show – particularly a punk band – that kind of has a momentum to suddenly be expected to immediately jump into a song in that type of setting. It was very weird. Largely unpleasant. Made me realize that’s not something I’m interested in doing.
watch the show here — rough at first but smooths out after (2:00) Beef Baloney…
ART IN CINEMA part 2: Walther Ruttmann and the medium of the future…
by DR. WILLIAM MORITZ
The term “Absolute Film” was coined by analogy with the expression “Absolute Music,” referring to music like Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos which had no reference to a story, poetry, dance, ceremony or any other thing besides the essential elements – harmonies, rhythms, melodies, counterpoints, etc. – of music itself. Cinema even more than music seems dominated by documentary and fiction functions, both of which relied on film recording human activities which had their primary existence and meaning outside the film theatre. Absolute Film, by contrast, would present things which could be expressed uniquely with cinematic means. Other terms for this film genre sprouted everywhere: “Pure Cinema” (which was purely cinematic), “Integral Cinema” (Germaine Dulac’s phrase, using “Integral” in the French sense of “Wholly and completely”) and finally the two socio-political terms “Avant-Garde” and “Experimental,” the first of which unfortunately implies military scouts invading enemy territory and the second of which sadly implies the filmmaker groping for some unclear result.
The most unique thing that cinema could do is present a visual spectacle comparable to auditory music, with fluid, dynamic imagery rhythmically paced by editing, dissolving, superimposition, segmented screen, contrasts of positive and negative, color ambiance and other cinematic devices. Already in the 1910s, the Italian Futurists Arnaldo Ginna and Bruno Corra made at least nine films, painting directly on the filmstrip not only non-objective pieces (the gradual takeover of the all-green screen by a red star, playing with afterimage) but also taking a divisionist painting by Segantini (a girl lying in a field of flowers) and re-painting it on frame after frame of the film to allow the colored dots to vibrate even more brilliantly than on the canvas. Unfortunately these films are all lost, as is the German Hans Stoltenberg’s film painted directly on the filmstrip about the same time. Other artists made plans for abstract films that were never realized: Leopold Survage (Parisian-based friend of Picasso and Modigliani) painted several hundred sequential images, Colored Rhythm, in full color on paper, with the hope that they could be filmed, but he was unable to find an adequate color process before World War I put an end to his project. Likewise the Polish artist Mieczyslaw Szczuka drew numerous sequential images on scrolls of paper, and published two fascinating samples in 1924, just a couple of years before his death, but was apparently not able to get them filmed.
Walther Ruttmann was the first filmmaker to finish an Absolute Film and distribute it in public cinemas. A painter and musician by training, Ruttmann renounced his abstract oil painting in 1919, declaring film to be the art-medium of the future. He mastered the techniques of filmmaking, and prepared his first film Movie Opus I with single-framed painting on glass and animated cutouts. The film was colored by three methods – toning, hand-tinting, and tinting of whole strips – so there was no single negative, and each print had to be assembled scene by scene after the complex coloring had been done. An old college buddy Max Buttingcomposed a musical score for the finished film, and Ruttmann himself played the cello in the string quintet that performed live with each screening at several German cities in the Spring of 1921. Ruttmann made three more Opus films, but used simpler tinting and did not prepare special music so that the films could be more easily and widely screened.
On May 3, 1925 the UFA Theatre on Kurfurstendamm in Berlin hosted an historic matinee screening, The Absolute Film, which included a live performance of three Color Sonatinas by Ludwig Hirschfeld-Mack of the Bauhaus, using a “color-organ” instrument he had constructed called the Reflectorial ColorPlay. Viking Eggeling’s Diagonal Symphony received its public premiere (Eggeling was unfortunately in the hospital, unable to attend). Walther Ruttmann screened his Opus 3 and Opus 4. (Hans Richter‘s 30-second Film is Rhythm had been listed on the program, but when Richter realized the scope and complexity of Ruttmann and Eggeling’s films, he withdrew his little test). Rene Clair’s film Intermission had been shot as an intermission feature for the Dada ballet No Performance Today designed by painter Francis Picabia with music by Eric Satie (both also appear in the film, along with Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp, and the lead dancers from the Swedish Ballet, who had given No Performance Today its premiere in Paris in the fall of 1924). Rene Clair used every sort of cinematic device to give Intermission a zany Surrealist improbable logic, and it certainly qualifies as absolutely a film – something that could only be done by cinematic means. Similarly the film Mechanical Ballet used imagery in non-realistic fashion as rhythmic and satirical collisions of ideas. It also passed through a number of different hands before it was finished, also in the fall of 1924.
Two Americans began it: Man Ray had produced the superb Return to Reason (a witty collage of all things “movie”) which screened at a Dada happening, “An Evening with the Bearded Heart”. Dudley Murphy, who had filmed about 10 “Visual Symphony” live-action shorts synchronized with music, as well as a comedy feature and an animation film, saw Man Ray’s film and proposed that they collaborate on a larger work. The title came from a Francis Picabia satirical artwork published in his magazine 391 while Picabia was living in New York in 1917 – in an issue which also contained artwork and a poem by his friend Man Ray. Dudley Murphy and Man Ray set out to gather footage in the streets of Paris, animated stocking-model legs to do the Charleston, made scenes of Murphy’s lovely wife Katherine posed in greeting-card banalities, and set up scenes in a studio room where they filmed Man Ray’s mistress Kiki (and various other things) through special beveled lenses that Murphy had developed, which gave an automatic “cubist” quality to the image. They also shot footage of kitchen goods and plunging machine parts which were meant for an ironic intercutting with pornographic footage. Then they ran out of money. The painter Fernand Leger offered to finance the completion, but Man Ray dropped out and asked that his name not be used on the film. It is unclear what if any of the footage Leger had a part in filming (the Charlie Chaplin puppet is a Leger sculpture, though he would not know how to animate it), but the editing was accomplished by Murphy, since Leger had no actual filmmaking skills.
The first surviving abstract film, Walther Ruttmann’s Light-Play Opus Nr. 1, was shot in 1919 and 1920, had a musical score composed for it and premiered in April 1921. It makes brilliant use of color. Ruttmann had been a painter and his last abstract canvases were characterized by many delicate nuances of painterly brushstrokes and fine gradations of unmixed colors. In moving to film, Ruttmann tried to capture some of the same variety and dynamics by using three coloring techniques: tinting, toning and hand-tinting, that is, coloring the emulsion so dark areas have a hue, dying the film strip so the light areas have another color, and adding touches of other colors to specific shapes by painting directly on each film frame. This meant that each individual scene had to be printed separately (from black-and-white negative pieces), and each projection print of the film had to be assembled from a hundred fragments. The surviving copy of Opus 1 was somewhat incomplete, but one can reconstruct the film quite accurately because Ruttmann drew color pictures in the musical score (with precise indications of repeats and changes of color) so that the musicians could synchronize exactly. Ruttmann limited the imagery to a confrontation between hard-edged geometric shapes and softer pliant forms, and allowed the colors not only to characterize certain figures, but also to establish mood, as in the long blue “nocturne” of the second movement. When Ruttmann followed this with subsequent abstract Opus films, he avoided the complex color effects of his first film. He gave general orange and green tints to scenes in Opus 2 and Opus 3, but the all hard-edged, optically-vibrating Opus 4 remained black-and-white for maximum contrast.
for more ART IN CINEMA see part 1…