Tag Archives: post-traumatic folk

Travis James Interview by Jay Funk

travisjamesfeaturedpic

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.

travis in bus

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?