“SONG FOR EWE”
with WEASEL WALTER of
THE FLYING LUTTENBACHERS
“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest is a founder of a band that my old fanzine and early MTV contact Jefferson from Southern Records told me about in hushed tones when I went to a party at his flat in Peckham. The Skin Graft Records act The Flying Luttenbachers sounded so exotic in name alone, yet alone the frenzied “no wave” sonics. Once of Chicago, then the San Fran bay, and now New York playing both with the band Cellular Chaos but also the amazing Lydia Lunch Retrovirus along with my old mucker Pussy Galore’s Bob Bert, he’s also played with the likes of Evan Parker, Marshall Allen, Jim O’Rourke and VS favs US Maple and produced records by the likes of The Coachwhips and Glenn Branca. He’s a multi instrumentalist, writer, producer and true student of music, it’s the multiplex threat of talent that is the unmistakably monkiered Weasel Walter! Here’s an 96 vintage snapshot…
There’s no time to waste, as WW has a lot to deliberate, so without further ado, here’s his “song for ewe”…
“Part of who I am as a musician and a human has to do with the amount of seemingly disparate threads I can maintain simultaneously.
Today, over a Chipotle barbacoa burrito at 3pm – my belated first meal of the day – I pondered momentarily about how I am probably seen as a mere “rock musician” by some, despite the fact that I have operated more widely (and to even less acclaim) in the worlds of Free Jazz and improvised music.
I don’t care, but I will acknowledge it regardless. It doesn’t matter or change my reality, but I am not in a vacuum. During the past two nights, that exact duality became even more apparent, as I played to a full house as the bass player in the bombastic final iteration of Teenage Jesus and the Jerks on Friday, and to a near empty house in an acoustic, improvised duo with myself on drums and the trumpeter Jaimie Branch on Saturday.
I can run this gamut quite easily, as I run many others in this existence. So, I’m sitting here thinking, “What exactly should I write about for this piece?”
What song is so significant to me, so that I seem pithy, unexpected, iconoclastic, intelligent, worldly, retarded, impotent, moronic, irreverent . . . blah blah blah, ad nauseam. Well, recently I obsessed over Cardiac’s “Dirty Boy”, as I transcribed it for my rock band Cellular Chaos to cover in the future. But, no, I don’t want to write about that. I need a break from thinking about all those chords.
Should I write about The Fall’s morbid, hilarious, “An Older Lover, Etc.”, a song which makes me laugh out loud and I have been playing five times in a row in the car lately? Nah. I don’t really care about The Fall very much and I don’t want to make it seem like they have too much influence on me.
Frankly, it was the first time I heard the song in about 20 years and it just clicked with me for a few days. Should I post a live ’82 version of “Unchained” by Van Halen? I kind of care more about that than anything right now. Nope. Too pedestrian, it’ll make me seem like I’m trying too hard not to try too hard.
I know . . . I will talk about what CD I have in the car at the moment. My roommate just texted me saying it was on and she liked it. That would be Olivier Messiaen’s “Oiseaux Exotique” and some of his other great mid-period chamber stuff. I discovered Messiaen and a lot of the other great 20th Century Modernists in the late ’80s, at my public library, the gateway most likely being Lester Bangs’ talking about Xenakis, Ayler and Mars in the same think piece.
Yeah. That was it. So, like, even at my shittiest, I’m really influenced by so-called modern composers. It’s always going to be there, even if I’m taking a huge dump on the stage. About 10 years ago, I even transcribed Messiaen’s “L’Ascension” for The Flying Luttenbachers, did a solo cover of Varese’s “Hyperprism”, etc. I just hack away at this shit for fun. So, “Oiseaux Exotique” – haven’t heard it in a while, but I popped it in earlier today. Here’s an okay performance I just found on Youtube.
Of particular note, if you’re just going to glance by this thing – I know modern attention spans and I don’t see many of you giving a rat’s ass – sit through 5:50-9:36, at least. That section is a beautiful, complex hierarchy of clockwork intensity, driven by clacking percussion and short, varied phrases in the winds. It is fairly heterogeneous in terms of meter and tempo, but I’m not sweating that. As I get older and my intellect and ears expand, I can process the amount of intelligence crammed into a framework like this and I can savor it moment to moment. That’s what I care about. Organization. Hierarchy. Articulation. Whatever. Smell you later.”
WOWZERS, THANKS WEASEL WALTER. FANTASTIC STUFF. SOZ FOR THE DELAY. YOU RULE.