Captured during their Dub Narcotic Studio session on St. Valentine’s Day, 2012, for their volume in the International Pop Underground series of 7″ 45 rpm phonograph records, Detective [IPU142]. engineered by Calvin Johnson and Eli Moore.
Getting lost in the Gospedelic Underground
By Lois Maffeo
One of the great paradoxes of history is that the stuff that people couldn’t take seriously enters the record as the stuff that mattered the most. Museums are filled with artifacts from ancient cultures that were probably only chamber pots and welcome mats. So what we think about art today, might not really mean anything on any given tomorrow.
That’s what great about Make Up. They eclipse opinion. Are they high art or pap? It doesn’t matter. You can argue about it until you are blue in the face, but you will never be able to determine whether or not Ian’s eccentricity, Michelle‘s sophisticated look, Steve‘s detached cool and James‘ chameleon-like compositions are the Real Thing. Because what is The Real Thing? NOBODY KNOWS!
Please, please listen to Save Yourself [KLP105] by Make Up. Their new mood is psychedelic, but not the stoned variety. Make Up‘s “gospedelia” takes a thread from the ‘gospel yeh-yeh” of their earlier K and Dischord releases and winds it around a mind-blowing groove. This isn’t acid music. It’s a new message from The Aspirin Kid. Ian Svenonius‘ polemical musings about geometry, child bearing and death, the psychedelic vibe go way beyond pastiche. His lyrics are, at the least, thought provoking and very possibly profound.
R U isosceles or R U tetrahedron? It doesn’t matter, I guess. As long as U R a Make Up fan.
Lois: What exactly is the rock & roll comintern?
Ian: Make Up is spearheading the movement, the rock and roll comintern. It’s basically a movement to re-direct the energy of rock and roll bands. Instead of pitting them against one another, we look towards unionizing them – to form a strong coalition against the controlling powers. Rock and roll bands are always pitted against one another. The Blur versus Oasis, Rolling Stones versus Beatles dialectic. What we want to do is re-direct the energy against the REAL enemies, the Mo Ostins and other people who always maintain power. They have this idea of early retirement as the central condition of rock and roll groups. All these commercially invented criterion. It doesn’t stop there.
Is there a party structure within the rock & roll comintern?
Of course there is a structure. There’s an information gulag. I’m a spokesperson. The rest of the band is all part of the politburo. We have gavels. We strike them strongly.
How do you feel about communism?
The crisis of capitalism in Russia is really evident to the Make Up. When they ripped down the wall we all knew. It was so predictable that Eastern Europe was just going to become a labor pool. First the czar -now this bullshit!
Do you have a stance on religion?
It serves a function the same way rock and roll does. It’s a gathering place. Political parties can be dismembered so easily by counter intelligence and espionage, but religion is always given an exemption due to its traditional status as a corroborator with the power structure. We’ve always used the church as a kind of fomenting factor as well as a spiritual one. Anyone who loves music is a spiritualist. We recognize the ability of music to speak to the people.
Is that why you have the gospel yah-yah?
A lot of great art forms are built from synthesis of old ones. People said we were crazy to synthesize gospel – that it was diametrically opposed. But we laughed.
You’ve been to Cuba so I assume you stand in solidarity with the Cuban people.
Yah, well not all of them, but definitely Castro. You might be aware that we did a concert to protest the embargo that featured a lot of stars: El Vez, Royal Trux and Blonde Redhead. Cuba is the only country that hasn’t buckled to the U.S. hegemony. It’s been creative. Castro is a Leo, number one, so I feel sympathetic to him astrologically. Cuba has a very independent international profile.
Russia has Cuba. Who does the Make Up stand in solidarity to?
All right thinking groups. The rock & roll comintern is sort of a union of all rock and roll groups against big business. They keep control over us by using the whims of entertainment and by propagating this idea of art. Like the Picasso paradigm and the Beatles paradigm that each artist will change with each album and that change is charted over several albums and then the artist is no longer relevant. We’re looking more toward a working model of The Ventures. They really remained unchanged for maybe, 50 records. What we mean is that all that art, whether it is Picasso or the Beatles, is a perfect example of creating commodity.
Does the Make p have a mafia?
The Make Up is not averse to physical force, but we’re really happy that rock and roll has become peaceful and urbane.
How do you get people to dance?
We pay them. You have to convince the punks that really they’ve got nothing to lose. Dancing? I don’t know. I’m going to start crying.
This interview took place on September 28, 1998.
Weighing in on the Make Up’s hair mystique
by Lois Maffeo
Here at K we are unable to fathom the rumors that keep filtering in from Washington, D.C. that Make Up‘s Ian Svenonius has grown a beard. Fashion polemicist that he is, we know Ian wouldn’t take a display of whiskers lightly. But we’re still reeling from Michelle‘s decision to let her gravity-defying hairdo go slack. Post the bulletin board to let us know where you stand on these crucial issues. But in the meantime, check out Calvin‘s true life run-in with Michelle Mae and her hot rollers! Yikes!
Q: Hey Calvin, where do you stand on Michelle‘s new pageboy haircut?
A: All I know is that Dub Narcotic Sound System played down in California with the Make Up last year and in Santa Cruz I have this friend who lives up in the hills, in a cabin in the woods without any electricity. She only has solar energy. She invited us to stay and I said, “Great! Is it okay for both Dub Narcotic and the Make Up to stay?” And she said, “Sure, but the electricity is pretty limited and I don’t know if you’d all want to stay.”
So I said, “Yah, it’ll be great.” After the show we went up there and slept and the next day we got up. I noticed Michelle walking around with her hot roller set in one hand and the cord in the other, wandering around the house looking for a place to plug it in. She said, “Calvin, I’ve looked everywhere, but I can’t seem to find any outlets here. I’m trying to plug in my curlers and I can’t find an outlet.” Well, I thought there must be an outlet somewhere. So we finally found one in the kitchen and we plugged it in and about 25 minutes later Michelle was like, “Hey, this thing isn’t getting hot.” And my friend said, “Calvin, didn’t you tell her that the electricity is really limited here? It won’t handle any hair dryers or anything.” So Michelle kinda freaked out that she couldn’t curl her hair or dry it or anything. And they had to drive to L.A. and there wasn’t any time to stop along the way. But that night in LA she looked fantastic! I said, “You should keep your hair like that. It’s a good look.” And she did for about three days. So I don’t know if that was the beginning of it or not, but I may have had some small part.
In honor of St. Valentine’s Daythe K Mail Order Dept. has gathered together ten top-flight K albums forming a CD Safari that celebrates love in all its guises. Receive all ten CDs for $15.00; that’s a sweet bouquet straight from the heart.
CD Safari: St. Valentine’s Day Bouquet!, in detail:
This collection of Rondelles hott punk rockin’ popover favorites has got it’s share of love songs (“T.V. Zombie”, “Safety in Numbers”, “He’s Got Heart”!!!) but really it’s the feel good freedom rock from the generation beyond. The best listening to accompany St. Valentine’s Day shenanigans - play this while roller skating with your heart’s desire and s/he’s sure to be yours!
What could be more touching than “Love Song of the Fly” from the collaboration between Mirah and Spectratone International, Share this Place: Stories and Observations [KLP181]? A suite of 12 pieces, each focusing on the life and times of a different insect. “Love Song of the Fly” depicts the plight of a fly who is searching for love and understanding. We defy you not to shed a tear when you hear this humble plea.
Four songs about the Red Hott lifestyle straight from ’90s Olympia, which is to say St. Valentine’s Day Wonderland! Recorded at Dub Narcotic Studio with Calvin Johnson.
The best songwriter at K for songs of the heart, hands down. This Lois album includes her classics “Shy Town”, “Charles Atlas”, “Transatlantic Telephone Call” and of course, “February 15”! Dang.
Love songs direct from Hopelessly Romantic Central: “Love will Come Back Again”, “Can We kiss?”, “Lies Goodbye” and Calvin's duet with Mirah, “Ode to St. Valentine”, worth the price of this CD Safari all by itself.
No one writes about love, it’s hazards and eventual rewards better than Ms. Amelia Fletcher. If you followed her adventures through Talulah Gosh and Heavenly, you’ll want to check in with her Marine Research incarnation. Hearts aflutter. Included are two songs from the Marine Research BBC session recorded for John Peel.
Falling in love in Paris, France -what could be more romantic? The soothing vocal sounds of Ms. Pam Berry (Black Tambourine, Belmondo) explores and travels through all the true loves and lovers, the world over. Wistful listening, year round.
Classic Crabs, and that means love in the summertime, down at the lake, tumbling away, end of the world, I surrender!
The name of this album says it all: My Religion Is Love, and you can bet that theme runs all through this Olympia song-singer’s K debut album. “Word of Mouth”, the anthemic “love Faeries” and the inspirational “Love, Love and Love”. Super-charged love hymns from deep in the heart.
Talkin’ love here: sweet, forbidden, unrequited, rollin’ and tumblin’ - just look at that face! Gene Defcon has definitely launched 1000 voyages of the Love Boat. Over 20 songs, and then you’ll be begging for more (they always do).
Here is a special collection of compact discs from the Olympia Underground music scene being offered by the K Mail Order Dept. It could be thought of as Lois: the K Years! It features all six of Lois' K releases, plus her collaboration with Dub Narcotic Sound System, “Ship to Shore” / “Rougher” [KLP060]. It’s a crashpop overload, gotta get it!
This CD Safari sale include:
All seven CDs for $15.00. Ai yi yi.
In the late twentieth century Olympia had a burgeoning local music scene that erupted in the final decade (known colloquially as “the ’90s”) into a thriving underground music community that was richly expressive, creative, provocative. Here is a collection of ten compact discs released by as many combos/artists who splashed through and delighted Downtown Olympia in that so-long-ago time.
This special sale items includes:
All ten compact discs for $15.00!
ANACORTES UNKNOWN #2 IS THIS WEEKEND! Karl Blau is also performing!
Here’s a poster!
We hate to be redundant, but if you are planning on attending our event and have yet to buy a pass, do it now. All the money goes to a good cause and we’ll need a definitive head count for the dinner. Don’t leave us hangin’ till the last minute!
(The Business, at 402 Commercial Ave. in Anacortes also sells passes if you want to buy one in person. Pass pick-up will take place at the Unknown on the day of the event.)
Lois plays "Rougher" at the Chickfactor 20th Reunion Show -(4/10/2012).
I can’t speak for everyone around here (since everyone else is on tour!), but a bunch of us at K like Jarvis Cocker. So can you imagine how exciting it was for us to get an email from Lois telling us that he played Mount Eerie and our pals, Earth, on his weekly radio show last Sunday? SO EXCITING! You can listen to it here while it’s up for the next couple of days, and if you’re lucky enough to be in Europe, you have the opportunity to see both bands before they wrap up their European tour together with Ô Paon on the 6th!
What a dream - nobody brings the ruckus like Dub Narcotic Sound System, and no one can sing it like Lois. When you put the two together… you get “Ship to Shore”, one catchy-ass, hearty-heart jam.
This magic moment is from 1996 - and by golly, we’re still swooning for this song fifteen years later. Go listen and you’ll know what we’re talking about.Played 449 times.
Please help spread the word on this very important benefit that will be taking place at Northern in Olympia on April 15th.
All proceeds go to support 7ep (http://www.7ep.net/) and victims of the March 11th earthquake in Northern Japan.
D+: Karl Blau, Bret Lunsford (Beat Happening), and Phil Elverum strum gently together. Anacortes supergroup.
LOIS: classy old-school Olympia songstress, first performance in years
CALVIN JOHNSON: K ringleader, rabblerouser
THE MAXINES: rock n roll is back to being cool again.
$5 or more, donations gladly accepted. ALL AGES, 9pm.