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Consider the Arctopus... Beheld.

Wednesday June 29, 2005

Behold the ArctopusIt's said that there are only two kinds of music: good and bad. Traditionally, most of the latter was written by musicians attempting to create the former. The success rate has never been very good, but over hundreds of years of western music-making, an awful lot of good music has been made. So much, in fact, that it's become nearly impossible to make music that is both good and original. Many a lesser musical mind has contented itself, meanwhile, by making good, if unoriginal, music, but this wasn't enough for some people, who then, on reflection, made the speciously brilliant discovery that there is actually quite a lot of wide-open, unexplored musical territory in the less popular (if more populous) of the two fundamental musical genres. Creating original, good music may be a chore, but creating original bad music, as it happens, is quite easy!

I have seen many bad bands in my day, but if I were to make a list of the worst and where I saw them, I would surely discover that I saw the lion's share of them at The Khyber. This is not to say that I've never seen a good band at the Khyber. Quite the contrary. But I think I can safely say that I've never seen a good band at the Khyber that I didn't go there to see. Enduring the opening bands at this place is exruciating, and last night I saw a band that was probably in the bottom three of the worst bands I have ever seen. I think they were called Beyond the Trilobite, or something like that. The singer/keyboardist/second bassist is also in a band called Infidel/Castro (who, despite their great name, are also in my bottom three), and his sartorial sense leaves one with the impression that he must be a Thompson Twins admirer. I won't bother to describe the music - it would be pointless and I would fail to truly capture their sonic crappiness in words - so suffice it to say: they sucked. They sucked with a drum machine.

...Trilobite were followed by Time of Orchids, who were, at the very least, better than the band before them. In fact, some of their music was very interesting - it's noisy, angular, avant-garde rock that's sometimes interesting and sometimes... not. But any instrumental goodwill earned by this band is instantly squandered by absolutely wretched singing. It's just a dude yelling, with some minor inflections of pitch. This has never been an interesting approach, and it's enough, by the end of a set, to drive a man to murder. Christ!

I didn't actually see the next band at all. Genghis Tron is a fun name, but the band is not so fun. They would be alright if they had a drummer, and not a cheap drum machine from 1987. The music is spastic, semi-technical metal with usually screechy vocals. This describes a lot of music that I actually like, and maybe Genghis Tron would have made more of an impact on me if I hadn't been standing outside the venue talking to Ken Golden (who was suffering even more than I was from the late hour and the terrible tunes), but I got the sense that the band had more energy than talent, more ideas than abilities. Anyway, I always enjoy shooting the shit with Ken, and I thank god that he was there to distract me, somewhat, from the general unpleasantness on stage (had we only been so smart as to hop outside when Time of Orchids started!) It was pretty balmy outside, and we could still hear the band, but Genghis Tron's set passed quickly and without too much discomfort.

Genghis Tron had just finished when Rob showed up. What timing! I was still yakking with Ken outside when he arrived, but knowing that the band I had actually come to see was about to go on, I headed indoors to find a good spot by the stage where I could take a few pictures. Behold the Arctopus finally got going and dazzled, as always, with their incredibly complex instrumental metal. They played at least four of the five songs they've released on their two EPs, and two new songs, which sounded as good as everything else. Both Rob and I were sufficiently amused. I presume Ken was as well, but I had lost him before the show started. This is notable only insofar as there were enough people at the Khyber to lose someone. For a tuesday night show of decidedly unconventional music, the turnout was great. The Khyber is not a large place, but it was amply filled, and the crowd was enthusiastic and energetic, which makes any show better. Who knew that so many terrible bands could attract so many good spectators?

I had arranged to interview the band after the show for an article in Metal Maniacs. By the time the show ended, I have to say I was not so interested in the project anymore. It was late and I was sleepy. I had to wait 45 minutes or so for the place to clear out enough that Colin, who plays Warr touch guitar in the band, had sold all the merch he was going to sell and the noise had died down enough that I could record our conversation. I had assumed that I would just be talking to him, but when the time came for the interrogation, he grabbed his two bandmates, Mike (guitar) and Charlie (drums) and we went into the kitchen (which I never knew existed) and got down to business. Generally, I don't like doing in-person interviews. It puts me on guard, and it makes it harder for me to think of questions on-the-fly. I've done some good interviews in-person, but I would almost always have preferred to do them over the phone. But the Arctopus guys were great! It was one of the best interviews I've ever done, in fact. I'd ask a question and each one would take his turn to add his thoughts on the matter, without stepping on each other's answers, repeating material, or getting distracted. And all three of them spoke more or less equally, which is rarer than rare. The article for Maniacs is supposed to be a 1000 word piece which will ultimately use probably five or six quotes from our nearly 45 minute chat, but I will definitely transcribe the whole thing for my zine, Feast or Famine (which I hope to launch online this fall.) Maybe I'll post some of it here, in the meantime (assuming I get it transcribed as soon as I should.)

When I finally got home around 2:30 I was dead tired, but despite the crappy openers it was a very fun night. Follow the link to continue reading for some pictures.




More Mike

More Colin

Mike and Charlie

Yet More Colin

Posted by Matt at 10:46 AM | Comments (4)

With great fanfare, it begins!

Friday June 24, 2005

Though has been up since February, sporting the sad face of the default MovableType html templates, I think that now I can say that at last the site has (begun to) come into its own. Barely. I've removed all those old posts (that's right, all five of them) because they were really only there so I could see something while I was designing this thing. And while I know there was surely some way for me to prevent anyone from seeing the site while it gestated, I chose instead to do things, as always, in the laziest manner possible. You folks who are coming by here for the first time can take some miniscule comfort in knowing that at least this isn't exactly the very first design I crapped out. Not long ago, the colors and logo were even uglier, if you can imagine!

So here we are. Woo! Unfortunately (for me), most of the blogs I read on a regular basis are by designer friends and acquaintances whose attractive and eminently usable sites only mock my own sad attempts at color coordination and graphics design. Of course, I could have paid any one of them to make something nice for me, but who has that kind of cash? Those web designers, driving their fancy cars and living downtown in highrise penthouse suites - who can afford their exorbitant fees! No, I will make do on my own, plying my skills with a bootleg copy of Photoshop and relying on the twenty or so fonts that came pre-installed on my computer. Prepare to be dazzled!

Introductions aside, I don't really know what to do with this site. I'm loathe to turn it into an online diary, but that being the easiest thing to do, it just might happen. Insofar as I play guitar in a band, I suppose I could steer the site in the direction of self-worship, a place for my devoted fans to learn all about my gear and enviable technique (see for an example of this approach), but I somehow don't see that happening either. Time will tell, I suppose. In the meantime, I hope what few people show up at this address do find some amusement from time to time. It's certainly nice of you to visit.

Posted by Matt at 09:59 AM | Comments (6)

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