Category Archives: MUSIC

Insects Interview by Brother Grether

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Three mulit-talented, multi faceted, producers of culture combine together to form one dynamic force. The Insects launched  back in 2007 with “Free the Hard Way” a disk printed and released for free. They attacked mainstream consumer culture with tracks like “No Rules”, “Devils are Scared,” and “Silence is Gold” and pay tribute to everyday people and grassroots activism through tracks like “The People” and the title track, “Free the Hard Way.” Since then they have toured the states and Europe numerous times, released a more experimental double album, “Gone” and are about to release another, “Black Rose.”

Insects_carbis

Insects Live. photo by J.Carbis

so why insects? where did the name come from?

B: i was recording all this shit at jonas’ house and we were on the back patio…and we were sitting out there smoking and all these insects were crawling all over are legs and shit…we were trying to come up with a name and i was just like how bout the insects…? and then i was just thinking about how they were here first and they’re gonna be here after and then about how they work together…and how from up above we all look like insects…

how is it different from your solo music or drunken immortals?

B: the last solo album i did was drifter and that was like 7 yers ago…and then things change…instead of me getting all the credit as brad b, we wanted to do something that highlights jonas too cause he does all the beats and production and plays a major role in the music and we wanted to do a group name rather than just me.

Whats up with 1090 Records?

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insects_gone

J: Well on the business side of thing MATTX and myself have been giving all our attention to building relationships with agents and agencies as well as business people that sponsor creatively driven companies like ours specially since we have or first tour as a company on the horizon almost our whole roster will be touring on the way to SXSW music convention in Austin TX. On the creative side we have so many things in the works right now like we just released The Insects new EP entitled “WILD RIDE” which has remixes from the first single off the up coming “BLACK ROSE” full length studio album and a full live recording done in Switzerland on our 4th European tour. Myself and Brad b have been putting major work in on the new Insects record I have been mixing and mastering Very G’s album called “Saint & Sinner”  produced by Saint Louis and just got the ball back rolling on recording the MURS album “Yumiko – The Curse of The Merch Girl” which is a sound track to a full color graphic novel. 1090 will be releasing a box set of 7” vinyl with the album and a complete audio book version. On top of all that we have been throwing as many events as we can with out burning out our audience to fund all these projects and it has been going okay thus far.

How did you link up with MURS?

J: One day I was going to lunch by my self at cafe Istanbul, I had just parked the car when my cell phone rang, I didn’t recognize the # but I new it was from Cali so I answered it and this dude with kind of a deep sleepy kind of voice was like whats up this is Murs. I looked back at the phone in half disbelief and said “whats up dude” he proceeded to tell me how his then girlfriend lived in PHX and didn’t have Internet access so he had been spending afternoons at a coffee shop down the street called Conspire. He said he was looking around the spot and saw a CD cover done by a comic book artist named Jim Mahfood it was volume 1 of my instrumental series called “M.C. FOOD”. He bought it and gave it a listen and liked the beats so he called the # on the back of the album. He asked me if any of the beats were available and i said “know but I got stacks so I could hook him up with whatever he needed” which was a bold face lie. I asked him if he was in town and he said he would be here in 4 days and wanted to come by the studio so i said cool and hung up shovelled some food in my mouth and ran my ass to the record store and dug for about 4 hours. When he came through we hit it off famously and he proceeded to tell me about the “Merch Girl” project and I proceed to tell him that I wanted to go on the road with him. he already had a DJ for the past 7 yrs. at the time but as luck would have it his DJ got an offer to do some movie stuff on location and had to quit a few months later. since that day we have played over 200 shows together and are halfway done with recording our album which we are very proud of and it is all because of Joey G and Jim Mahfood.

how long have you guys been making music?

Insects Wild Ride EP

Insects Wild Ride EP

B: when i was 16 i met jonas and i had always been into hiphop and classic rock. just had always been a huge fan of music. jonas was killing the drums when he was 16. in jonas moms basement…this is like 8th grade and he had a bass there and i just picked it up and started playing. i would also just write raps in a journal and then kinda just built from there.

what inspires you to do music?

B: too be honest its kind of a trip. it just comes to me. i just constantly think about lines in my head, but thats just me. sometimes i dont even know what im saying it just pops in my head and ill listen to it after and be like damn thats what i was saying. and then just listening to beats. i’m inspired by music. i just try to be more rhythmic and creative in my life.

why did you come and live in phoenix?

B: i came here in 97. I came out here cause my boy Steve Evans moved out here and a few other friends… and my girl was going to asu. i ended up going to the conservatory or recordingh arts and then doing an internship for a year in la for a year. with Jim Wert and it was cool because his best from was a AandR from interscope.
and its cool how we all hooked up over at Sub Society…thats how i met mike (cause) and so many other cool people. looking back its a trip how we got from that point to this…

So you guys have toured europe 5 times what are some of the venues like?

B: man they do things alot differently out there. we only played a few bars most of the venues were squats ran by anarchist / activists. One of my favorite spots was in Zurich Switzerland. they had their shit together. so they were squatting this building, stealing power from power chords plugged into the lampost from the street through the window. they had a screenprint shop in there, a room with a bunch of computers, a dope ass kitchen set up. these cats were freegans so they went and found food people threw away, and cooked us these dope meals. last time we were there they let griffin do a mural in the spot. sick shit.

are you for or against the apocalypse? you know it being 2012 and all…

B: i’m for it because…maybe what all that means is that things are gonna change in a positive way. i like to think that way.

i was bugging out on famine the other day, researching it for this calendar project and was in tears about it…

B: yeah, its fucked up how much money we spend on wars and whatever we spend money on when shit like that is happening…

so you’re still silkcreening by day…how long do you plan on doing that?

B: I would love to just live off of music, but i would still be doing something like this…ideally its just more of our own shit….

what do think about file sharing?

B: im down with it cause thats just the way it is now…as far as people not getting paid or consider it stealing…what are you gonna do, cry about…? if your musics out there, people are sharing it…you go on tour and make money selling it and merch and such…
for instance…if we didnt do “free the hard Way” we woulnd be known nearly as much.  i feel like sharing and giing shit away for free has done nothing but help us.

you got a god concept?

B: no, not really. i just feel people get so caught up in that shit that it just bothers me.

how do you feel about politics and the political climate?

B: these politicians are such a joke to me. i cant stand their smart ass faces when they smile and argue with each other. all of the trillions of dollars spent on war every year when we are so far fucked in debt, all these young men and women coming home with their legs blown off and shit? all for what? i dont mean that to disrespect the people that go risk their lives. i just dont think its right. it trips me out to think about everything in this world happening at the same time. its all fucked up. the immigration laws, the racial profiling, the sheriff and his goons, the religious freaks, paying taxes and shit. i did my taxes lat year, and i ended up owing the state and federal. i was sick to my stomach. were out here living paycheck to paycheck, pay sales tax on everything we buy, and still owe in the end? fuck that.

How do you feel about getting two albums in New Times 100  Arizona albums?

B: It felt good to be recognized. we’ve been out here doing it for a minute. it felt good especially since the new times barely ever gave us props, and they just love to stir up drama in the hip hop community. motherfuckers. yeah but it felt good so peace to whoever wrote that article. speaking of Drifter we had that Drifter show at the tempe tavern a couple weeks back. it was so dope. it brought back alot of memories… going back and re learning those songs. thanx to everyone that came out to the show and made it so live.

what can we expect from the future?

J: The future shows no sign of slowing probably the exact opposite. Hopefully I’ll start being able to pay some of these people that help me on a daily basis to juggle my work load. My plan is to continue to push the people around me as hard as I can even if sometimes the hate me for it and support and help them to create their art and dreams and sustain their lives through it because that is my dream and it always has been.

B: were dropping a new album called black rose on 10 90 records, im really exited about it. then we will tour the us and europe. we also have a new mix tape in the works. you can check out some new cuts at reverbnation.com/theinsects. im also gonna be on scarab from living legends new album which I’m super hyped about. we’re hitting the road in a couple weeks for sxsw. we made a little tour around it with the homie Mouse, and Afro Classics. were gonna hit Santa Fe , Albuquerque, a few in Texas and then back in Phx. also. drunken immortals are working on a new ep. much more shit to come this year. so keep an eye out for us.

Travis James Interview by Jay Funk

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His name is typically accompanied by a curious smile or a partially resisted scowl, his antics and convictions are challenged and critiqued liberally outside of his presence. He seems omnipresent on fb, celebrating ironic graphic memes, small crimes, and black blocs, quickly retorting on threads, playfully taunting friends and arguing semantics. He organizes underground folk punk shows in unusual spaces, as well as band projects, and plays on his own as Travis James. His lyrics are well organized incendiary pieces with catchy, encouraged, sing-a-longs. He has recently released a new album “Not Sorry” that’s available with lyrics as well as explanations to the content. He has also organized urban capture the flags and is now doing Inconsiderate Audio, an Anti-Social Anarchist Radio Show. Since we both share phoenix underground clearance, I snuck out of my routine and tracked him down at his cave.

So why are you so contentious?

Ah, oh geez… A lot of the time with the available information and society its been difficult for me to distinguish between where my contention begins and the naturally occurring aspects of contention in general end… I refuse a lot of the time to distinguish favorably for sources of contention for particular things, and that alone seems to be contentious with the world at large or people in general.

Travis James Album Cover

Travis James Not Sorry

Are you saying that you hate everybody equally?

Contention is a useful moniker for identifying phenomenon that is relative at best…so it’s not that I “hate everything equally,” but that I acknowledge contention as largely attributable to bias rather than an objective source.

So it’s just your attitude?

Yes, or perspective. So I think society at large and people in it give themselves too much credit in how they identify contention.

So whats up with all the wordplay in your songs?

I turn a phrase until, in turn, the phrase is turning you.

Explain that.

I think it’s important to play with words in a way to challenge their definitions for people, but that still preserve and utilize their actual definitions. It illustrates something fundamental to how I think about things, the simultaneously fleeting yet distinguishable nature of phenomena in existence, in as much as it is communicable through language. I think its interesting using words literally in a way that people identify as “wordplay” when essentially by many definitions, words themselves are essentially a form of play.

U think this is funny, huh?

Yupp.

Travis singin with friends

Travis James and the Acrimonious Assembly of Arsonists

Travis James- Let’s Debt Free

So why kill the FBI?

The song is mostly emotionally driven, and expressing my personal experience of dealing with a Joint Terrorism Task Force FBI investigation for a number of years.

That the youtube video?

That video barely scratches the surface, and it’s surprising how many people I know approach me having taken it at face value, as if we suddenly all trust the mainstream media for substantive accounts. As for “killing the FBI,” two phrases come to mind when thinking about this song… Radicals often suggest we “kill the cop in our head,” but also proclaim “ideas are bulletproof.” So it seems to come down to that I would prefer to simply “kill the badge” or the idea of authority and power, but the pesky old cop-person is standing in the way.

So its not another 187 song?

Thats actually what it boils down to, yeah.

I’ve seen you speak and write about promoting violent confrontation with authorities, do you think there’s much success in that?

Inconsiderate Audio

Inconsiderate Audio

I think the mistake there is seeing a literal promotion as opposed to exhibiting a reaction to very real circumstances. Calling it promotion is a mistake, I’m trying to acknowledge and outline that violent confrontation with authority is at our door.

In what way?

The us represents %5 of the world’s population but about ¼ of the world’s prisoners, which is the highest prison population per capita in the world. Also, all samples of statistical data on police violence is overwhelmingly indicative of an epidemic of the systematic monopolization of violence. Police kill 5x as often as they are killed. The reason its seems promotional when I talk about it is that I’m attempting to be a part of war of ideas that sees police so favorably that most people don’t even know that police work doesn’t even make to top 10 list for dangerous occupations. That’s just police… let’s not forget about the role of the U.S. and the direct exploitation and violence necessary to facilitate first-world lifestyle.

Can there be Industrial society on a mass scale without a state?

Industrial society is destined for collapse with or without a state.

U got a n ideal number of residents?

No. I think the managerial attitude that would seek to solve those issue strategically is the same attitude from which these modern conditions arose. I see only a superficial difference in trying to save industrial society from its inevitable end and thinking that a human, humanity, or and the universe itself are salvageable in a similar way.

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Travis James and the Terror Bus on Tour

 
So, humanity is doomed, lets rejoice?

Yes, but I’d prefer to be clever. It’s difficult for others to see “doomed” with less negative connotations.

Were you raised christian? with any kind of religios upbringing?

I was very fortunate to be raised without any influence in any one direction or another.

So would you say you are anti-religious?

I’ve come to be so, yes.

What about jesus?

What about jesus.

Dead, not dead, crosses n shit, u know, christmas?

Myths.

So whats everybody waiting for?

Salvation.

How do we give them salvation?

Convince them that its impossible. Salvation lies in understanding that it is impossible. What’s left is a full embrace of the entirety of existence where the term “salvation” is essentially meaningless.

So why don’t you play in bars, and venues?

Sometimes I do, but think it reinforces dynamics of mainstream society that can and should be challenged or avoided. I see many similarities between artist and performer dynamics and the government and the governed. I’d like to see every moment more readily perceived as an “event,” and less political podiums and stages alike. Smash the state, smash the stage. As for bars, I prefer all-ages environments.

What the hell happened to Wizard Teeth? That shit was epic.

The actual ending is a boring story…Wizard Teeth was a 7 song saga intended to illustrate revolutionary social and political parallels by utilizing ficticious renditions of the bandmates’ immediate lives. King Morgan moved away from Austania to Flagstaff.

It’s too bad. That shit was fucking incredible. Was it all recorded?

No, there were 5 room recordings and they’re not good.

Not Sorry for anything, huh?

Not sorry for anything, but at the very most, infrequently apologetic.

Yeah, not as catchy. I was taught to throw everything away, too.

There s reason for that. The very human tendency to disregard things in general has only recently come to be facilitated in a way that contributes rapidly to our own large-scale end.

So your not down to go live on the plastic island?

It’s not really an island. If it was I would set up camp there, maybe throw a Wizard Teeth show.

Is “Calling You Out” is about police?

It’s about police in radical circles, and I don’t mean infiltrators. I mean people in the anarchist and radical scenes that have not killed the cops in their head. A lot of well intentioned radicals are less mindful of the similarities between how they want to change their immediate relationships and the very aspects of society that make them want to make change. I’m calling out the “call out” sub-culture.

Do you think art is pointless?

Obviously.

I feel like on your album, you say art and/or life is pointless, but that everything is pointless.

Lately, I bully the concept of “art” itself, which to me even gives it more credit than it deserves. But you’re correct, I don’t intend to admonish art in a particular way that legitimizes its role as something “special” any more than anything else. In most cases, I find myself having a vendetta against what is called “art” and the reverence for it. A woman was recently arrested for entering an art gallery and attempting to urinate an “expressionist” painting worth 3 million dollars. Apparently, “expressionist paintings” are worthy of protection and stupid amounts of money, but actual expressions, like that woman’s, are arrestable offenses.

So punk shows, house shows what role do they play in society?

The reason I involve myself in them is explicity for the aspects that have less of a role in society. Any roles that it might have for society in general, I feel, are the unfortunate aspects. I literally do mean society itself conceptually, and not just this particular society, to clarify.

Whats up with inconsiderate audio?

It’s an anti-social themed internet audio show with anarchist leanings. A friend of mine used the words “crippled by sensitivity” to describe some of the more unfortunate aspects of radical culture, and my intention with the show is to bring people’s contentions out and make a safe-space for fucked up people to hopefully experience some catharsis through expression.

What kind of education do you have?

High school drop out. I eventually got a GED in my early 20s to look better in court for my federal felony charges of depredation of government property. I recently took a couple of easy online college philosophy courses to first pay off the fines for those charges with the grants, and then later used grants to go on a national tour.

What happened with the tour? That bus is sick and you had a whole crew?

We ran into a few snags that reflect on what was mentioned in the “Calling You Out” song. Mostly it was a fucking rad time with 10 crazy kidz. We played in a Walmart parking lot out of the back of our bus and had a show in the bus, we were forcefully stopped by a citizen vigilante that thought we were terrorists because of the big red bomb painted on our bus…(full story online), we did workshops on Anarchist Against The Wall, violent retaliation in response to federal infiltration and not working with liberal groups or NGOs.

Yeah man, the berlin wall was fucked up.

Tear them all down, but we were definitely talking about the Israel/Palestine wall. Hell, I don’t even get a long with walls in general, as Conspire learned when those kidz waltzed through the window during my album release show.

Yeah, after we talked about it…

So what should we cling to when society starts unraveling?

Nothing.

You guys got a garden?

No.
You gonna live and die in phoenix?

How the fuck should I know? I don’t fucking know. I don’t have any plans.

Who’s doing it right?

I address that on my album in “Freedom & Futility.” I say, “What’s right doesn’t work, and what works isn’t right. So nothing works, and nothing’s right. That’s the way that it works, am I right?”

 

You feelin the Greece autonom

 

ous region, or

 

CrimethInc.?

I don’t find value a particular place or event for its specific qualities more than I find value in the specific successes or qualities of an individual or single occurrence. To illustrate, a black bloc that pushes out police and authority from an area is awesome, but no more than individual instances of authority being resisted in any case.

So everywhere, always, but nowhere specific?
Anywhere resistance happens, not a particular movement that does it.

You got any advice?
There’s a lot more people that should be told to fuck off, and that includes yourself.

You mean me?

Pretty sure I’ve told you to fuck off, and I was probably right.

Did you come up with urban capture the flag?
No.

But you helped develop it your hometown and here?

yes.

What did you get out of it?

In a way that people usually only speculate about, I saw collaboration between diverse age groups, classes, subcultures, and whatever, in a way that challenged conventional norms. I saw yuppies finding ways to climb buildings and rooftops, and goth kids running around with a team of jocks regardless of traffic to chase punks in the middle of the street at midnight. I’ve seen people of all kinds busting each other out of the figurative jail, and saying things they’d seldom say otherwise, like “we’ve got to bust them out of jail if we’re going to win!” Urban Capture The Flag has been one of my favorite projects because it encourages people to reinvent their relationships with their city, a

nd to challenge the streets being mere paths to and from work and school. In both cities I’ve facilitated Urban Capture The Flag in, people pick it up and keep it going if I start to back out. It’s amazing.

Whats next for mister travis james?

The project that I’m currently working on is doing as little as possible, and im really interested in seeing where it takes me and how people interpret it. So far, it’s some of my best work.

You’re fucking deluded, huh?

Isn’t everything?