Some folks say, have always said: Lower your voice. Pull up your pants. Look respectable and you’ll get respect. Do those people not realize that our most eloquent, respectable leaders were all murdered in cold blood, all in their suits and ties? No, fuck what you think of our clothes or manner of speaking—we have a right to life.
Anonymous asked: I think people tend to forget that when The Beatles started out they had the same target demographic as many boybands today which is why they were dismissed by adults in much the same way boybands tend to be today. It was only once their rebranding happened when they got heavily into drug culture as a band once they’d already broken America, their music became more and more experimental, and they started speaking out as part of the hippie movement, which was very controversial at the time.
Agreed. And if they had broken up prior to releasing Rubber Soul, I think they’d be remembered more as a pop sensation than a major cultural phenomenon. They’d be remembered as a slightly more authentic version of The Monkees. I always liked a lot of the early Beatles material, but it wasn’t until i heard Revolver—particularly “Tomorrow Never Knows”—that I really realized how The Beatles pretty much laid down the foundation for everything that falls under the umbrella of both rock and pop music. They were gifted musicians, they weren’t afraid of experimenting with production, and they were the mouthpiece for change in a time of social upheaval. That’s a lot more crucial than just being a pretty face (and let’s be honest, there was a dearth of pretty faces in The Beatles).
And yes, this all grew out of what was essentially a pre-fab boy band. I’m still waiting for Justin Timberlake to start advocating psychedelics and to infiltrate the Western Hemisphere’s enemy’s youth psyche the way The Beatles did with the U.S.S.R.
kingsofsleep asked: Hey Brian! I always enjoy reading your take on things on here so I just wanted to drop you some random thanks for that... Thanks! Also, I was wondering if you had any copies of your book left over from tour? If so, I'd sure like to buy one please! If not, you can make it up to me by moving to upstate NY and bringing Keith Huckins out of retirement by starting a band with him OK? OK!
thanks for the kind words!
i have a few copies left of my novel at the Russian Circles merch store here. there are about 30 copies left out of the second printing, and i don’t think i’m going to do another edition anytime soon.
I think I spotted Keith at an Infest show here in Brooklyn earlier this summer. maybe that’s an indication that he’s dabbling in the music world again. I would love to hear him back in action.
Anonymous asked: Hey Brian, I'm a long time fan and fellow Bear. I was just wondering what it was like to grow up gay and play in Hardcore Punk bands? Was there any hostility? Did people in the scene treat you different after you came out?
I came out in stages. I officially told the guys in Botch at the start of our first full U.S. tour in the Spring of ‘97. Our drummer Tim’s response was “i’ve been telling girls you’re gay for awhile anyways.” So obviously they didn’t give a shit.
Back in that time period, I think we identified more with the progressive DIY end of the hardcore spectrum. We were more into the stuff that was happening on Ebullition, Gravity, Great American Steak Religion, etc. The more tough-guy stuff never really held any appeal to us. Consequently, when you had bands like Floorpunch making homophobic statements, it was hard to really give much of a shit because it felt like an entirely different scene. All this is to say, I really didn’t feel like there was any hostility or any change in the way I was treated after I came out.
BUT… there was a tour that These Arms Are Snakes were a part of where there were some issues with my orientation. Early on in TAAS’s time, we told our booking agent that we were down to tour with anybody. We didn’t feel like we really fit in anywhere, so we were open to playing in front of any audience. So we somehow wound up opening up for a big Christian post-hardcore band. This took some convincing from our agent, but we were told that the individual member’s faith didn’t really factor into the band’s agenda.
I won’t name names, mainly because i think the issue was more naivety than outright prejudice, but this band wound up being not only extremely evangelical, but extremely conservative. We’re talking pro-George W. Bush stickers on their gear. No one in the band would swear, not even a “damn” or “hell”, but they would drop the word “faggot” like it was nothing. I wore a shirt with the word “QUEER” on it every night of tour, just to try to make our position clear, but this band just didn’t seem to get it. Eventually, someone leaked the news to management that this band was using homophobic slurs around a gay dude on the tour, and the band’s tour manager pulled me aside to issue an apology on behalf of his employers. “We’re just rednecks. It’s just the way we talk. It doesn’t mean anything.” Nice gesture, dudes. But in all honesty, i wasn’t overly bothered by all the “faggot” talk because it was never used to refer to gay people. It was used synonymously with “asshole” or “jerk”, and while i still found it inappropriate, i didn’t take it personally. I was taking the Lord’s name in vain around them on a daily basis, so I felt like we were even.
The last few days of the tour, this band’s merch guy started training a replacement. The new guy was a bit of a wild card: liked to drink, liked to curse, liked irreverent humor. He wound up hanging out with us a lot. On the last night of tour, he confided to our roadie that when he joined up with the tour he’d been told to watch his language around us. “One of the guys in These Arms Are Snakes is gay, so don’t use the word ‘faggot’ around them. He’s cool and everything, but part of the reason we vote Republican is to keep people like him from getting married.” It’s third-hand information, and it wasn’t revealed until we’d already driven away from the last show, so there wasn’t really a way to confirm the statement or confront the situation. For that reason, I’ll let the band remain anonymous (though internet sleuths should have zero problem figuring out what Christian band TAAS toured with in ‘05).
So yeah, we changed our touring policy after that experience. And that’s pretty much the only homophobia i’ve had to deal with in the music world.
Anonymous asked: Hey, Brian! Huge fan of your work. What was the inspiration on the Russian Circles track "Burial" and what effects did you and Mike use to get that gnarly, dark tone?
"Burial" was one of the last tracks we wrote for Memorial. It happened pretty spontaneously. We were working on some other song off the record and hit a creative dead-end. I think we were all getting a little frustrated and/or burned out, and Mike whipped out this tremolo-picked death metal riff as a joke. Dave and I were both like, "wait, what was that? play that again." We’ve come to the point where we expect all of our songs to be these 6+ minute long opuses, and we got really excited on the idea of having a short, mean, full-on rager.
I used a Dwarfcraft Eau Claire Thunder for the distortion on the opening and closing riffs and a Fuzzrocious Rat Tail through a Tym Guitar Big Bottom for the more staccato attack on the chorus and the driving part on the bridge.
Mike changes up his pedalboard configuration all the time, so i’m not sure what his effects chain looked like for this song. He did an interview with Premier Guitar while we were recording this album, so you can see what his general set-up was around this time. Generally, he uses a variety of distortions so that he has different stages of volume and grit. Considering that “Burial” is pretty much full-distortion from the get-go, i’m assuming he has all the distortion running through the whole song. Here’s a pic of his board from the Premier Guitar feature.