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21 September 2012

Billy Corgan on the Community Function

May I grab a moment of your increasingly internet-fractured attention span and focus you on this interview between T. Cole Rachel and the Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan on, ahem, the “state of the Alternative Community” — communities being something I care about a great deal.

Here it is thanks to Stereogum. (Thanks Stereogum!)

Here is an excerpt I particularly like, and bold-face on the parts I really really like:

“Once I entered the world of honesty, circa 1992, there was sort of no going back. It’s a nice fantasy to think if someone got me some media training, I would have avoided a lot of these controversies that are really meaningless and continue to be meaningless. Secondarily, I think there’s something to be said for being principled. Like I think of Lou Reed as being principled. I think of Neil Young as being principled. There are those actors in the world for whom the principles they live their life by, in the long run, mean something. And I think that the principles that I live my life by do mean something and will look better in hindsight. Because when I was at South By Southwest … first of all, in alternative rock music, generally speaking, there have been very few bands in the past 10 years that have made OK Computer-level records. I guess you could say Arcade Fire made one, but there’s been a real scarcity in great, A-level work that crosses over into the mainstream. That’s very interesting, because I don’t think it’s a lack of talent. And if anything, you could say that technology should afford the ability to make ideal records even more easily than we used to be able to make when we had to do it all on tape. Secondarily, the main alternative voice for at least seven years now, and you could argue possibly longer, has been Pitchfork. And they have not produced the level of movement commensurate to their power. So what does that say to me? That system doesn’t work. Now it might work for the kids down in Wicker Park or Echo Park. It might work for the guy with the handlebar mustache. But it doesn’t work overall in the way that the Stooges work, the way that the Velvet Underground worked, or the Cure worked, or Depeche Mode, or pick your fucking any band that made it across the divide from being underground to being iconic. Read more »

Posted by Alec Hanley Bemis  

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26 November 2010

Take it Sleazy

On Wednesday night, Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson died. Here’s a nice balanced obit.

I’m not writing as a particular fan of his work. (He was most definitely a Dionysian but after a brief fling with industrial music in high school, I’ve mostly been on the side of Apollo.) I do offer much respect though, both for his body of work and as a lifer in pop (sub)cultures. (More on lifers from yesterday’s blog.)

Christopherson was a co-founder of Throbbing Gristle, partner of the amazing graphic design studio Hipgnosis, and a video director for artists as likely as Sepultura and Nine Inch Nails — and as unlikely as Yes.

Naw, you say? But no, totally, he made this video for YES:

That he was able to bring his own vision to projects like this, projects that were quite unlike his own output, is the greatest testament to his gift as a creator. His collaborators recognized this. Listen below to one of the first recordings of Christopherson’s Coil project. The title of the song “How to Destroy Angels” has recently been adopted by NIN’s Trent Reznor for a new musical project he started with his wife Mariqueen Maandig.

While some of the obituaries that have come out in the wake of his death seem to be masking the occasional sleaziness of his life, I like how his own site, Threshold House aka is considerably less circumspect. Ergo this message serves as the current homepage:

I’ll close with a song by one of his more well known post-TG groups, Psychic TV. Therein, I can hear the bits of Sleazy’s cultural output that I do take as an inspiration. While he will be remembered as an icon of industrial music, a culture primarily understood for its darkness, its transgression, its harshness, the real wonder of his output is that he could effortlessly display how, within darkness, there was often a certain light.

UPDATED NOVEMBER 29, 2010: I’d be remiss in remembering Sleazy if I did not point you toward this collection of tributes collated by my friend Brandon over at Stereogum. Best of all, the piece included this quasi-Buddhist quote from the man himself (via The Quietus).

“We are all only temporary curators of our present bodies, which will all decay, sooner or later. In a hundred years or so ALL the humans currently alive will have died. I take great comfort in knowing, with certainty, that thing that makes us special, able to enrich our own lives and those of others, will not cease when our bodies do, but will be just starting and new (and hopefully even better) adventure… If we don’t get to meet in this Life, maybe in the next you can buy me a beer!”

Call me a hippie for taking great pleasure in that quote. Go ahead. Try it.

Posted by Alec Hanley Bemis  

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