By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Point 3: The music industry tries to replicate its success by doing the same thing over and over; this may be a sane way to run a business, but it doesn't really apply to the highfalutin, self-transforming, diaphanously transfiguring "realm of creativity." Thus we have the recurring spectacle not only of record companies but of individual musicians crouching like animals for the next trend - contriving new personalities for each new style. It's a startling process, ultimately alienating, but it can pay off big time when the time comes, though it halts the good vibes of any forward-seeming "movement." In fact, the turn-around time between authentic "inspiration" and its soulless repetition has reached a kind of terminal velocity. Our solution: Become stereotypes before the fact. "A scream for attention and a cry for help," as Music Connection put it, rating Nature with a mere 6 out of 10 stars. Music for the sociopathic man about town, indelibly self-referential, petulantly inexplicable, in fact completely incomprehensible. We were ready for Nebraska.
November 1, Lubbock, TX --
Upon arrival, we are taken to our quarters, the second floor of Stubb's Barbecue, and shown a press release for the show: "On Nov. 2, the Depot Warehouse will be the location for an awareness campaign and fund-raiser against the growing problem of gang violence. The event is sponsored by the H.O.P.E. Organization. Its primary function is to educate and make the public aware of Lubbock's rapidly growing problem concerning gang violence . . ."
This was a benefit for the creation of youth detention centers where kids could be taken to be picked up by parents in lieu of the administrative hassle of taking them to jail; the final page of the document listed the bands that would perform, including Mike Pritchard's Cathouse Blues, Ground Zero, Uncle Nasty, F.O.A.D. and, finally, "Zoo Entertainment Recording Artist 'Nature'" . . .
May 5, Norfolk, VA --
Norfolk, VA: We play at a seafood restaurant. The venue is the Bait Shack, situated in a mall, with a marquee proclaiming our performance and the price of crab legs. A clutch of vampires makes its way to the show, alerted somehow to "industrial night" here. They keep their distance from the guys at the pool tables but are unable to avoid the presence of the tropical decor, or the "seafood basket" . . .
May 7, Springfield, VA --
We play in a mouse trap. Club consists of gray cardboard set up like a laboratory maze, dimly lit, with writing scrawled on the walls; a woman named Pam brings us Chinese food; the first act is a guy beating on a kettle drum. Later, the club fills with vampires - we watch them watching us, crows against the wall, inscrutable . . .
November 10, Chicago --
One way to obviate guilt is to attempt to sneak "subversive" messages into the mainstream. I tried this one or two times; it didn't work too well. Once, giving a radio interview from the hotel, the DJ was getting ready to play our song, an electronicized version of the theme from You Only Live Twice, and he said, "Is there anything you'd like to say to introduce this song?"
"PEOPLE OF CHICAGO," I intoned, "THIS SONG HAS A SPECIAL MESSAGE FOR EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU . . ."
A long pause.
". . . Yes?"
But I couldn't think of anything . . .
March 14, Placerville, CA --
A lovely town seemingly run by children . . . talking to some kids in the parking lot, couldn't have been more than 14 years old, when the drummer from the band we were touring with, who fancied themselves Reservoir Dogs space-rockers, stumbled out of the van, took a few steps and vomited into his hands . . .
Getting sick on the road is always interesting, injuries are rampant. And there you are, getting out the Yellow Pages, begging a ride, ending up in a "sports medicine" facility, being treated by someone named Thor. In fact, being on the road can be harder than you might imagine - a brief period of focused activity followed by 20-hour drives, forced upright in a van (only the lucky or previously lucrative get The Bus). You start to understand the physical necessity underlying the myth of The Smashed Hotel Room: You generate a great deal of energy in a brief period of time, then it's back to the Motel 6 with nothing to do. This building, progressive energy is the best thing about being on the road, but it's not something that's easy to turn off. It begins happening automatically whether you're onstage or not.
Suddenly our record label was being sucked into the void. Rumors of divestiture from its ultrapowerful "parent" company came true as our protective, octopuslike home base began vanishing beneath us - and there we were, adrift in an increasingly insensible tour, taking wild zigzags across the country, with random stops in remote areas, sometimes for three or four days . . .
It lends a unique vision to the country. If you'd like to know what the nation's looking like these days, here's your answer: It's looking just like L.A.
What It All Means
If the injunction has been to "go forth and multiply," it is long since accomplished - the scenes of the world have been filled. Now, instead of forward momentum, we experience a commingling, an endless cross-referencing of previously existing inventions. Thus the flowering of tribute and cover bands, a nostalgia for images of a commonly held experience, when trends came in sequence, "meaningfully," rather than all at the same time. With every trend that ever was now back in circulation, how can one of them hope to attain significance over another? For those awaiting a unified music scene in the tradition of recent decades, be prepared to wait for a while.