INTERVIEW: Lucid Nation
(Brain Floss Records)
By: Jeb Branin
A lot of extreme music freaks felt like LUCID NATION had jumped ship with the more controlled sound of their latest CD "American Stonehenge." I, however, found it to be a really interesting sound development for a band whose emotional investment has always been the key to their music anyway. An interview seemed in order.
IMWT: The new album is much less chaotic than the debut. Tell me about that. You're not all grown up are you? :-)
Haha, I think it's because of Erin's musical influence on the cd that you say that, and she was only 16 when she started drumming for us a couple years ago. Debbie was in her twenties, but she liked ripping loose with chaos. Now we have a new third member, Tia Sprocket formerly of Sexpod, so I'm sure our sound will transform again.
IMWT: Tell me about your zine projects. Does everyone in the band do zines?
I can't speak for Tia but everyone so far has done a zine. I just finished "Light and Shadow" which was sort of a tour diary combined with catharsis in the aftermath of a violent crime. Ronnie has started work on "Words That Jumped Ronnie #2" which is like his sketch pad of psychology of sexuality, social criticism, poetry and scribbles. I just got involved with a zine that the original America Online Riot Grrrl list from 1994 is doing, a sort of "where are they now" post-Riot Grrrl collection. My label Brain Floss Records is planning a zine compilation book, hopefully next year.
IMWT: Is humankind evolving into a more peaceful species or are we doomed to be petty and violent?
What do I look like, Nostradamus??! Well, I figure we're only a few hundred generations past knuckle dragging, if we can survive the challenges of religious fundamentalism, extreme economic inequality (we've got tvs and computers and toss half eaten burgers while millions starve to death in the Third World), if we can figure out ways to undo the catastrophic ecological destruction we've set in motion, yeah, I think we'll evolve into some sort of a Star Trek future. I think of this planet as a prison/kindergarten, all us little Hitlers get sent here from all over to work out our compulsions.
IMWT: Your lyrics explore a lot of personal issues. Do you see those as "political statements" as well?
In our rape culture an individualized female is a political statement.
IMWT: What do you do to counterbalance anger in your lives?
Expressing myself in music, writing zines, making art like my autopsy stamp mandalas really helps me deal with anger. So does sex. So does circuit training. My cat Jett who likes to play fetch with almonds and my koi fish are really soothing. Ronnie likes to chill by working on my 69 GTO Judge with his aviation mechanic friend Vince Zine (his real last name!). Tia deals with her anger by pounding very hard on drums, Tommy Lee tosses in his sleep knowing she's out there somewhere, haha.
IMWT: How has the new CD been received in comparison to the debut?
Our punk noise fans don't like American Stonehenge as much as The Stillness of Over, except for Ronnie's Food Not Bomb's anthem "Privilege." But indie/emo kids like American Stonehenge much more. We've definitely experienced an increase in respect.
IMWT: Are you planning another national tour for this album? We're going to record our third cd next month and release it in spring, we'll do a national tour behind that one.
IMWT: What is the best and worst thing about touring?
I LOVE touring. Um, the worst thing about it is you cannot get food for whole vast stretches of states. You can only get iceberg lettuce, meat, and beer for hundreds of miles, forsaken places where Minute Maid is served as fresh orange juice and vegetables come in cans. And like I said in "Light and Shadow" western Kansas IS the true ass of the nation. The best things about touring are the adventures, the discoveries, the new places, the places that turn out to be not at all how you imagined them, the people you've known only online who now have faces and voices, the unexpected attractions, its like you're REALLY living, really experiencing, I would like to tour for about three years non stop! I highly recommend it to anyone.
IMWT: How did LUCID NATION and FREE VERSE end up becoming partners in crime?
Free Verse sent us a cassette, it totally sucked sound wise so we asked for the cd master which they were trusting enough to send. They were exactly what we were looking for, a band of girls who grew up in hardcore, who smash barriers between styles, and who blatantly address the rape culture. In a world where rock and rap are only able to arouse controversy among Christian fundamentalists, Free Verse is pissing off people everywhere, old school types across the board: male, female, metal, punk, are going out of their way to dismiss Free Verse, the band is like a litmus test for sexism. See, it took forty years for black males to take the form of rock they had invented and use it to sincerely express their plight and rage, forty fucking years! Despite glimpses (Bikini Kill, Sleater Kinney, Seven Year Bitch, etc) I think the great mother lode tidal wave of girl rage and art hasn't happened yet, and I think Free Verse are going to be a major catalyst. When we explained our philosophy to them, a label by artist's for artists, with a very slow release schedule to maximize support for the bands we already have, our commitment to using new technology and our commitment to however long it takes, and our goal of accomplishing what labels like Death Row accomplished, beating major labels at their own game, Free Verse said we were just what they were looking for.
IMWT: Your first CD had a very DIY feel to it and the new one is very slick? Was that an intentional thing? Does it have anything to do with reflecting the music?
Slick!? haha. it cost $3000, it was recorded in a freezing loft in Little Tokyo. Our beloved Big Scary Tree studios, same place and engineer and gear as the "The Stillness of Over". Rollins recorded Mother Superior there. Most of the tracks are first takes. But I know what you mean, and these are the reasons I've told myself: 1. Jeb at Big Scary Tree got some vintage Neve gear, and learned some tricks from Rollins that helped him get better fidelity. Plus Jeb let us use old Vox and Fender amps, and old Les Pauls and Strats he's got 2 we switched to a new mastering guy, a computer genius at Almazon studios, he assistant engineered Nirvana Nevermind and he made the recording sound lush and almost 3 D. 3. Erin wasn't into noise as much as Debbie was. Erin brought a sort of Celtic thing to the band, mellower interludes, and stark vocal harmonies. If you look at my songs and Ronnie's they don't stray that far from our styles on "Stillness."
IMWT: Who are the most under and over rated bands/artists you know of?
Under rated? Free Verse, if they were boys they'd be famous, I think the Sex Pistols are under rated, everybody talks about them but their lessons go unlearned, Bikini Kill was an evolutionary leap too many missed, Fugazi should be bigger than Pearl Jam, for their music and their incredible pioneering DIY independence and support for their scene. Over rated? Damn, you name it. To me all that Celine Dion Alanis Morrissette Jewel nonsense is Lawrence Welk. If great grandma likes it, you shouldn't. Unless great grandma is very very cool. I like music that's aggressive, lyrics that cut through the bullshit, the rest is movie soundtracks, so I guess I think the whole Billboard Top 200 pretty much is over rated. Oh yah and all those classics radio bands, over rated because by constant repetition they've become obstruction, pollution, gunk from the past choking the present.
IMWT: Have you ever had trouble with people not being sensitive to the personal things you share in your music and zines?
Yeah I've been shunned and slandered and ridiculed, but I make music and art because I need to, I really don't give a shit about reactions, though yes I'm inspired when someone says they love my songs. Like recently a friend wrote that he got busted in Texas for trying to score and wound up in jail for six months. His section was mostly Crips and Bloods, they would spend hours repeating their favorite raps, would always hassle him to join in, finally one day he rapped out the lyrics to my song "Dad". They took him all over the place to perform it for their friends, and when he was released a big group of them rapped it to him as he left. Or a favorite zine writer of mine who said my band helped her overcome her fear and now her band will play their first gig opening for Free Verse and us in Seattle. One letter like that wipes out the rudeness of stupid people.
IMWT: Do you see yourselves as courageous for exposing so much of your personal life in your music and zines? I for one could never see myself opening up like you do in my zine!
Courageous. No, but it was scary. The zines and songs that have changed my life were very personal expressions of things people aren't supposed to talk about and I want my art to be flaming high octane fuck with your head you come out different, so...
IMWT: Which is a more personal expression, a zine or a CD or a live performance?
Zines because you can go into so much more detail. Live performance, even with stream of consciousness which we enjoy, is a kind of ritual. It's very fun and powerful but not as personal. A CD is like a manipulated photograph.
IMWT: What is the funniest thing you have seen lately?
Ken Starr and the Republican Fixation (great band name) on the Clinton Lewinsky blow job scandal. Watching stuffy anchors and politicians endlessly talking about oral sex and lying about illicit love, haha, it's so Springer!
IMWT: Give your label a push.
IMWT: Any last words?
Have you flossed your brain today?