Hello. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted something here. I’ve been reorganizing and reassessing my music mess somewhat. I’m trying out the idea of San Kazakgascar being a more fluid group of collaborators, and less of a constant 4-piece band. I’m proud of the music that the original Brewer/Takushi/Hain/Woo line-up made for several years, but am curious about what else lurks behind the magic curtain.
Other recent mischief includes a duo recording with nuclear drummer Jon Bafus. Expect a little EP from that in the near future. Swimming in Bengal recently recorded with an ensemble of guest players and it sounds wonderful. We are in the early stages of going through the improvisations and picking out the best plunges.
Back to Kazakgascar. We are playing on a stacked bill on March 22 at Gold Lion Arts at 7:30 pm. More details at Facebook. For this show, we have myself, Rachel Freund on clarinet, Joss Lucio on percussion, and the mighty anchor Greg Hain on bass. I’ve played countless show with guitarist/oud player Derek Monypeny. He is always challenging himself with new directions and is touring/collaborating with Iranian-American percussionist Sahba Sizdahkhani. I’m looking forward to hearing their stuff. Back from Brooklyn are Sunwatchers, who played a great set here last year. They just released a new album called Illegal Moves on Trouble in Mind Records which combine elements of art punk, prog, avant jazz, psych, and probably other things I can’t necessarily get my head around. I threw out a few questions to sax player Jeff Tobias to get a better understanding.
1. When Sunwatchers came together was there an agreed upon vision for the band or was it more, “Let’s see what happens?”
When Sunwatchers began to perform live, three of us – myself, Jim, and Jason – had already been playing music together in various incarnations for about ten years, primarily in an Athens, Georgia-based band called Dark Meat. The initial iterations and collaborations that we began to put under the Sunwatchers banner had more in common with the harsh drone music of La Monte Young and Phill Niblock than the energy playing / group sounds that we’ve been doing for the past few years. In other words, it was plenty organic and based not on carefully sussed-out negotiations but rather a long-gestating mutual understanding between friends.
2. What non-musical influences contribute to the band’s sound?
This is a great question, because it acknowledges that music can be a response to every sort of stimuli, not just a laundry list of “influences.” The first thing that leaps to mind is our country’s (and our world’s) ongoing social/political climate. We can’t help but feel bitterly furious as we watch our friends and strangers alike suffer under the yoke of neoliberal capitalism’s uncaring and cruel machinations. While we hope that our music delivers cathartic and celebratory moments for our audience, speaking personally, every time I pick up my instrument to play Sunwatchers music, I feel it’s an opportunity to respond to what I perceive as an ongoing war against humanity. Beyond that – I’d say we’re mostly influenced by regional fast food chains (Cook Out in particular) and the short films of “Weird” Al Yankovic.
3. How did the collaboration album with Eugene Chadbourne come about?
Jim McHugh, our guitarist, made his bones running a DIY storefront venue in Greensboro, North Carolina called the Onion Cellar. Eugene had put down roots there, and their meeting was inevitable. Jim will be the first to admit that Eugene’s been a big influence on his guitar playing, and he booked Doc for some gigs at the Onion Cellar way back in the day. They maintained contact over the years, and a few years ago began a correspondence about this collaboration. Doc Chad’s restless spirit is hugely inspiring, and we’re fortunate to stand in the shadow of his several decades of trailblazing noise-making. Hopefully “3 Characters” is the first of several bonkers slabs that we can create together.
4. What other living musicians would Sunwatchers love to collaborate with if given the chance? (reach for the sky)
To name a few: Aerosmith, Omar Souleyman, Ann Peebles, Boredoms, Evan Parker, Peter Brotzmann, NoMeansNo, Susie Ibarra, Archie Shepp, Nils Lofgren, John Cale, Arnold Dreyblatt, Yoko Ono, Earth, Dirty Three, Carla Bley, William Parker, This Is Not This Heat, Joshua Abrams’ Natural Information Society, Ken Vandermark, Billy Joel, Biz Markie, Yasunao Tone, Roscoe Mitchell, Tony Malaby, Billy Gibbons, Paul Dresher, Carl Stone, Amps for Christ, Laurie Spiegel, Television, Cooper-Moore… Aerosmith again
I can be knee-jerk to loathe when a band is “NPR/Pitchfork approved”, but in this case I share these hearty endorsements of their new album: NPR Review
; Pitchfork Review