Saturday, May 25, 2013

FROM PULP MACHINE, Tuesday, April 26, 2011

THE OPTIMIST BOOK ONE: You Don’t Know Jack By Chuck Miller - Chapter Six 



You Don’t Know Jack

By Chuck Miller


Then there was the whole ghost thing. That stunk to high heaven. If the Centipede’s theory was correct, that I flushed him out of hiding so the “Moriarty” could have a crack at him, then I had been played in a most devious and bizarre fashion. Can a crime lord hire a ghost? Or forge one? It might have made sense, if it had made any sense.

I knew ghosts were real because I had encountered them before. The worst by far had been the spirit of Jack the Ripper.  In fact, it was one of the first cases Johnny and I worked after he took me on as his partner. It was a rough one. I may talk about it in greater detail later on, but only if I just cannot avoid it.

Anyhow, we thought we got rid of him, but he came back two more times before we teamed up with Doctor Unknown to cast him out of this plane of existence forever.

So, I could accept the ghost of Captain Mercury as a concept with no trouble. But even if I had seen a genuine ghost, it might not necessarily be who it said it was. There are some ghosts out there who are terrible liars and total assholes, and they’re liable to do anything, regardless of how shitty it is.

The Ripper, for example, had first gained reentry to our world by convincing a gullible spirit medium that he was actually Amelia Earhart. I swear to God. Spirits of the dead pretty much have to be deceptive because they can’t get back into our world without help from the living.

Most spirits don’t bother us, they find better things to do out in the fourth dimension or wherever they go.

But some, like the Ripper, figure they didn’t do enough damage when they were alive, and they want to come back for more.  If they went on ahead and ascended to a higher plane, they’d be just like everyone else there. But if they can manage to manifest back here on earth, they can be powerful, horrifying abominations, and lord their awfulness over the living so as to feel like big shots. Narcissism trumps cosmic good sense.

Not that I had ever made a special study of it. As a rule, Johnny and I didn’t mess with the supernatural stuff unless we just had to. I got all that info from Doc Unknown while we were working on evicting the Ripper.

I walked around pondering these things, then sat down on a bench and mulled them over for a while. I got all the way to musing about them before it dawned on me that since Doctor Unknown was an expert on ghosts, I should go talk to him.

Back in the day, he had an office in a converted brownstone downtown. The sorcery business is not very lucrative if you’re an honest and uncorrupted practitioner of white magic. You can do a real number on your karma if you use it to enrich yourself. So, it was as a certified public accountant that Doc Unknown had paid the bills. Accounting was, as he always said, his true passion. He had fallen ass-backward into the magic thing by being born the seventh son of a seventh son in a family of exceptionally powerful Druid mystics. That was on his father’s side. His mother was a mambo, or voodoo priestess, from New Orleans.

So, in spite of his best efforts, and an MBA from Harvard, Doc was unable to avoid going into the family business. Blood will tell, and the kind of blood he had just couldn’t shut up. The accounting was relegated to the status of day job.

“I could have been somebody,” I once heard him lament. “I could have won the Nobel Prize in economics, I just know it. I could have amounted to something!” (This, I should point out, was shortly after he had single-handedly prevented a coalition of demons and succubi, under the command of a 2000-year-old Black Witch, from flinging the earth into the heart of the sun, just for spite. Goddamn underachiever…)

I found the brownstone, right where it used to be. It looked a lot smaller than I remembered it. I went up the steps. There was a small plaque next to the door that said, simply, "Doctor Unknown." I pushed the doorbell button.

A young woman opened the door.

She was quite attractive, though if you took her various features one at a time, you'd never think they'd add up that well. Her head was very round, her hair dark and bobbed short. She wore glasses with black frames.

"Um," I said. "Do I have the wrong place? I'm looking for Doctor Unknown."

She looked over at the plaque. "This isn't the wrong place," she said, pointing at it. "If it was, that would not say 'Doctor Unknown.'"

I had to bow to this logic. I said, "Okay. So now can I see Doctor Unknown?"

She put her hands on her hips. "You've been doing that since I opened the door."


"I'm Doctor Unknown."


Turns out she was the original Doctor's daughter, Dana. I remembered her as a gawky little kid. I identified myself and she remembered me. We went inside and sat on some chairs. I asked about her father.

“Dad got into some really weird mathemagical stuff. Science and magic do not mix, I tried to tell him. Science has very strict laws. Magic has a lot of laws, but those laws do not obey any ultimate law. It’s like with city councils all over the country. They have their own local laws, and in most instances they are not obligated to conform to any strict federal standard. It’s all very arbitrary."

"I always thought magic and science were the same thing, on some level," I said.

"Well, they aren't," she replied with a dollop of vehemence. "Not at all. The best way I can explain it is to say that science is strictly cause-and-effect. Magic, on the other hand, is effect-without-cause.

“Mixing the two… It’s like formulating algebra problems where every factor is an unknown variable. No, worse than that. Every variable is a chicken or a checkerboard or a can of lima beans or something else random and unthinkable. You try imposing incompatible systems on one another and weird stuff starts to happen. They reject one another like an interspecies transplant, and when they rupture it is always messy. At best you drive yourself nuts, at worst you warp reality in small, localized areas.

“He never let go of the belief that magic was, at some level, as organized a system as math. He became obsessed with Zeno’s Paradox. You know, the one that says you can never actually reach a destination because you are constantly covering half of the remaining distance.

“I told him Zeno’s Paradox was actually more like a sort of Zen riddle, not a genuine mathematical construct, but nooooo, he wasn’t having that. He thought he could break it down by creating his own system of what he called “subnumerical numbers.” Somehow, he was going to use this to build a perpetual motion machine. But the numbers just flat refused to crunch, so he went and pilfered some junk from the Necronumericon-- a little-known companion volume to the Necronomicon-- and plugged that into his equations, and that was pretty much all she wrote.

“He turned all this crap into an algorithm, then tried to run it on his computer. Long story short, the thing got out and infected the entire Internet. Google started giving quantum search results—responding to all queries with an infinite number of possible matches, responding to an infinite number of queries each user might have asked. Hard drives everywhere did not merely crash, they literally ceased ever to have existed. All the data in the Defense Department’s operating system spontaneously rewrote itself into a virtual clone of Cthulhu, forcibly uploaded itself into every military computer system on earth, and took control of every nuclear arsenal in the world.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I felt obliged to say. “None whatsoever.”

“I know you don’t,” she snapped. “Nobody does. That’s why I never get a chance to vent. If you want me to help you with your ghost, you have to listen to me and pretend to be sympathetic. That’s my fee.”


“Okay. So, anyhow, the infection got into everything. The Internet itself shifted on its dimensional axis, so to speak, and tried to expand itself into 12 different fractal dimensions at once. The data stream became infinite, then tried to go beyond that. Bad news. The sheer etheric weight of the data, which increased exponentially to a factor of ten to the infinite power-- yes, I know that's impossible, but it happened-- caused everything to collapse in on itself and created a singularity—a black hole. In a fraction of a nanosecond it consumed the earth and began swallowing the rest of the solar system.”

She stopped for a moment and looked at me, daring me to say something. I did.

“Obviously,” I said, “I don’t need to point out to you that the earth is still here, and so, apparently, is the rest of the solar system.”

“That’s right. Remember what I said earlier, that this stuff could warp reality in a small area? Well, the area that got warped was our computer room. We were not quite in phase with the rest of the universe, so nothing happened to us. Dad and I wrote some code based on tachyon theory and fed it into our computer, which was still connected to an infinite number of identical computers in an infinite number of quantum realities. Long story short, our program, an inverted-algorithm tachyon virus, spread backward through time and infected AOL's billing database. Our internet access got cut off ten seconds before Dad ran that damn program of his.”

“So then all that other stuff ended up never having actually happened. The world getting destroyed and that.”

“Sort of.”

“And yet, you remember it.”

“I said ‘sort of.’ The other half of sort of is sort of not.”

“Okay. Believe it or not, I understand that. Sort of.  So, what happened to your dad then? He get sucked into some sidereal dimensional limbo or something?”

“In a way. He retired and moved to Florida. He drinks a lot.”

“I don’t blame him. I would too. Actually, I do, and my life isn’t nearly as Chinese interesting as that.”

“It’s all relative. Anyhow, I stick strictly to the occult in my practice. Which reminds me. You saw a ghost. Let’s have a look at that, shall we?”

I told her what had happened, what the ghost had said to me, what I had done, and how that turned out. She listened with her eyes closed and said nothing until I was finished.

“Wow,” she said, opening her eyes. “That’s pretty heavy. You’re hanging out with the Black Centipede now? He used to scare the crap out of me. Him and Dad were pretty good friends, I think. The Centipede claimed his grandfather invented the adding machine, so of course Dad was star-struck.

“However, about your ghost… While you were talking, I put myself into a mild trance. I’m not half bad at reading auras, if I do say so myself. Yours has picked up some interesting traces. You have definitely been in contact with something  unusual, and probably otherworldly.

“It is a spirit or a presence of some kind. It knows you and wants to talk to you. That’s kind of odd, since you say it already did, but I could be picking up some old signals there. I get a blurry picture of what appears to be a man in a cape, so that fits. But it feels like this whatever-it-is has been around you a lot recently. A brief contact like the one you describe would not leave such a deep impression.”

That was unsettling. “Do you think he’s following me?”

She shrugged. “Could be, I guess, but since it seems to have accomplished its purpose during your first encounter, I can’t understand why. You did in fact accomplish the mission it gave you. You found the Black Centipede. You say he’s innocent, and I will accept that, provisionally. And if that’s the case, this ‘ghost’ was either mistaken or lying. It still wants something.  There’s a… I dunno… A word or something. A name, maybe.”

She closed her eyes again. I glanced around the room, thinking I might see something, which I did not. “Is it here now?” I asked.

She shook her head. “It is not. But it is such a powerful presence, it has left profound traces on you. Nothing harmful, I don’t think. I’m not reading any curse or possession vibes. Very strange. I feel a sense of frustration, a… Hmmm… Seems like a question of identity. Something is lost.  I think this entity wants to reclaim something. A position or a title… A rank! I am getting a strong impression of a rank.”

“Is it Captain Mercury? Captain is a rank.”

“If I knew that, I certainly would have told you, wouldn’t I? I can’t tell. As I say, the sense of personal identity is shaky.”

I sat there for a few moments, mentally reviewing everything she had said, trying to come up with something that might fit. And finding nothing.  These things could apply to Johnny, maybe, if I stretched a couple of points, and allowed for the fact that I didn’t know shit about what a ghost might think or feel or do. I realized that there was no way I could eliminate anything, since the parameters of the thing could not be accurately established. “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth,” as Sherlock Holmes’ favorite axiom had it. But I was in a place where nothing was impossible and everything was improbable.

Then I had a thought that went through me like a dose of liquid nitrogen.

“Jesus, you don’t think it could be the Ripper, do you?”

She shook her head emphatically. “Oh hell no. If that abomination were anywhere near this plane of existence, his stench would be unbearable to me. Nope, Jack is still safely nestled in Fractal Dimension Ten to the Negative One Millionth Power. Which is just as bad as it sounds. You simply cannot get out of there.”

“Ten to the… Dana, that’s impossible. There is no such number.”

“I know. That’s why you can’t get out of it.”

Well, that was some kind of logic. But I was mollified enough that I didn’t bother to mention how many times I had seen people get out of things you simply could not get out of, including death.

Doctor Unknown Junior was staring into space, her fingers drumming on the table. “What we need to do,” she said, “is go to the place where Captain Mercury died.” Her eyes moved to catch mine. “You may have issues with that, but I think it needs to be done. If you want to figure out what’s going on here, we need to cover all the bases we can.”

I gave her a sour look. “Dana, I’m a big boy. I can take it, you know. Shit, it didn’t… It was a long time ago, and… Well, it happened, and I’m still here, right? If we’ve gotta do it, okay, that’s what it is. I mean, damn, you don’t have to…”

“I wasn’t impugning your manhood. I’m just saying I know it could be difficult.”

“It isn’t difficult. It’s just a thing. What’s difficult? No difficult. I don’t see where you get difficult. I can’t…”

“Whatever!” she said, throwing up her hands. “You have nerves of steel and ice water in your veins. I am in awe of you, I swear to God. The machismo rolls off of you in waves. In fact, I think I’m…”


She went silent and shot me a goofy little grin. Then she shrugged. “It won’t help anything for us to argue. It just bugs me that you seem to have such a stick up your ass. You didn’t used to be that way.”

“Uh-huh. Do you not know any people who used to be a particular way but aren’t that way any more?”

“Touché. And I sincerely apologize for expressing a view at odds with your own self-image. I know how aggravating that can be, especially since I am so obviously right.”

“If you’re waiting for me to argue some more, you’re doomed to disappointment. If that’s another part of your fee, we can just waive it and I’ll pay you in cash, which I will soon have quite a bit of.”

Her eyebrows shot up. “Now you’re just insulting me. Were I a lesser woman, I’d take umbrage at that and probably send you on your way unfulfilled. However, it’s obvious that you are not exactly at the top of your game, and you’re probably letting the booze do the lion’s share of your talking. I’m helping you because you’re a friend, or used to be. Your money is of no consequence to me. Jack, I’m not only a Twelfth Level Magus, I am wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice. I don’t do this kind of thing for a living. I do it because it needs to be done.”

I was pissed. I wasn’t sure at whom. I didn’t want to argue. I never really wanted to argue with anyone, but I almost always did, and I didn’t like it. It seemed like people were always forcing me to show parts of myself I didn’t want them to see. I had the whole thing set up. This is who I am, this is what you are permitted to perceive, and nothing else. I really need you to believe my truth, because what you see is what I am. Dana was getting too close, too familiar, and that is something I wanted to avoid. Also, I thought it was rude, her calling me out like that about nothing.

“Okay, you’re right, I’m sorry,” I said, with all the heartfelt insincerity I could muster.

“No you’re not. But at least you’re willing to pretend you are. That’s a start. Let’s go.”

FROM PULP MACHINETuesday, April 26, 2011

Sunday, October 21, 2012

LUX interview from GRAVYZINE

 LUX INTERIOR, the ultra slithery frontman of the legendary CRAMPS engages Sal of Electric Frankenstein in this sinful interview........

I noticed your last album was dedicated to Goulardi…He just past away, right?
Lux: Yup.
Out here Zacherly is pretty much THE Horror Host. Can you explain to our readers the difference between the two, I don’t think most people are too familiar with the horror hosts and that whole phenomenon.
Lux: They were different people, Zacharly and Goulardi. To say they were just Horror Hosts, they were much more than that, they were somewhere between a horror host and Hitler. Goulardi, he was just way out of control, always causing trouble, always in trouble but he was so powerful that he could get away with it. Kind of like Elvis Presley shaking his hips on television, he was so powerful he could get away with it, everyone was upset about it but they couldn’t do anything about it because it was bringing in too much money. When Goulardi was on TV in the 60’s crime just plummeted because no one was out, they were all watching Goulardi. He was just a totally rebellious character. A good model for young people and was one of the forerunners of what later became youth counterculture type thing.
They had a lot of audiences based on television more than let’s say the movies themselves.
Lux: Yeah,oh yeah. The movies were, of course those movies were great and everything and that’s part of it, but the part where they played music it was like a party, just the chance to go nuts, the music like Goulardi played "Poppa Ooh Mao Mao" by the Revingtons, wild great rock’n’roll records that he played during the time that he was on. He would blow up things. He was just a role model.
Have you seen any tapes of Zacharly’s show that he had in the 60’s with the house and the Standells and the Young Lions, they always used to play. I used to live near there when I was little.
Lux: Yeah, I’ve never seen Zacharly, I’ve seen the video tape of Zacherly introducing trailers and stuff which is great. I never saw his show but I’m always a big fan of Zacherly in the monster magazines. He was just an amazing. I think that Goulardi and Zacherly were probably really the best ones. I’ve always loved Goulardi and as a matter of fact we often play his hit single.
Our band did "Coolest little monster" with Zacherly on the B side of one of our singles. He got a new record deal so he redid that song. He originally was going to sing it with us but he couldn’t do it because of his contract, he was still signing by contract so he let us take from the original record the intro and the middle so on our record it’s him doing the intro….We see him all the time. Have you ever gone to the Chiller Theatre conventions.
Lux: No, We’ve always been too busy. I really would have loved to go to the Chiller conventions. It sounds great. I’ve seen photos of him there and he looks great.
We used to help around the convention with, Kevin Clement is the guy. If you ever want to be a guest just let me know, we can set it up.
Lux: Oh we’ll probably do that sometime, it’s just a bad timing thing. That’s ‘cause we’re always doing something right at that time so far.
I don’t know if you collect. Obviously by what you’re interested in musically you can see that you’re interested in obscure records and horror toys, I’m sure. Have you ever on tour found really good finds in any thrift shops?
Lux: Oh, all the time. We’re always out looking for stuff. It’s great because we go to a lot of weird places, we’ll stop on the bus, in-between here and there we’ll find amazing things. Fairly often, you know, the farther away you get from the 60s the harder it is to find things. Somebody just gave us two albums by the Jaguars in Montreal, amazing instrumental albums. Fans give us stuff sometimes and that’s really great. Right before we left we found a box with a bunch of jelly jars on top of it in a junk store and I piled all this stuff and looked in this box and something just made me want to see what’s in that box and I found just a stack of amazing 78s of all 50s, the real wild, obscure, crazy rock’n’roll stuff. Like Blues, R’n’B stuff, that was the latest thing that we found. But we find stuff all the time.
One thing I want to know about. Your lyrics are interesting and definitely entertaining, not exactly what draws your inspiration but what books or movies you particularly find that you can pull from that inspires them.
Lux: Well, all of them. Mainly horror movies and exploitation movies and a lot of stuff comes from those press books from those old movies. Lines out of old movies, comic books that we collect, all the old horror comics of the 50s, probably about the only comics that we collect are obscure horror comics, the real sick ones from the 50s. Some stuff comes from there but mainly just old records, old rockabilly records and that stuff, singles mainly, 45s.
50s comics have the greatest cover, those colors.
Lux: Oh yeah.
And the artists. It seems as though the artist who didn’t know how to draw made the coolest monsters.
Lux: Yeah, real archaic looking.
Our record covers, we try to make each one look like an old, crazy comic book covers. Have you got a hold some old, obscure horror film lately on tape that might be real interesting. I’m sure you got stacks.
Lux: Well the ones that I really like a lot are that I think will become more popular. At one time no one ever knew who Betty Page was and we really loved Betty Page and I can’t believe that now she’s as well known as Marilyn Monroe or somebody. I think that the next thing that might become popular are these West German horror movies from the early 60s. They’re just packed with cool stuff. They have all these weird camera angles, they go take a drink and it’ll show them looking at the bottom of the glass. And some girl stripping on the other side of a nightclub. They all take place in nightclubs or stripclubs. Just weird camera angles. Some of them look like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari where some of the angles are so weird and stuff. And they all have sexy girls in them and really weird stories. Titles like "The Head", "Phantom of Soho", "In on the River", just a lot of them early 60s West German horror movies. Klaus Kenski’s in some of them, Edgar Wallace. If you want to get one just to see what I’m talking about, "Phantom of Soho’s a good one".
I heard of a lot of these. The French and Spanish are easy to come by nowadays, and Italian ones, of course.
Lux: Yeah, you got to find a good rental place that gets good Sinister cinema stuff. The Something Weird Video stuff.
Yeah, those are always at the convention. They’re easy to get. Something Weird come out here all the time, they have a big huge table.
Lux: Yeah we’re real good friends with Mike Rainey!
Yeah, Mike’s real nice. We talk to him a bunch of times and we try and get clips from Kiss me Quick and other ones that have Frankenstein, those nudie cutie ones with Monsters and nudies in them. Those are pretty cool. We use some of those stills for our record covers.
Another question I wanted to ask. Your stage clothing, do you get them tailored or are they something you find in thrift shops.
Lux: Oh, half and half. If we find something that’s cool and sometimes we get things made. Works both ways.
Ivy’s outfit in NYC, everyone’s asking where she got it.  
Lux: The one that she just wore. That was given to us by Margaret, the guitar player of the Doll Rods. She wasn’t wearing that when the tour started and she pulled it out and said, "Hey, look at this She-Elvis outfit" and Ivy said "Ooh yeah" and she put that on and she looked good in it.
Lately, as far as listening, has anything been on the record player for awhile? I guess being on tour is kinda hard.
Lux: Oh all kinds of stuff. We listen to stuff all the time. We bring a CD player, 2 big boxes of cassettes and stuff, compilations I’ve made out of singles. That stuff we always take with us. Just a lot of Rockabilly stuff is kinda what we are listening to, it’s really our favorite thing. We did that interview in Incredibly Strange music talking about Bachelor Pad Music, that’s what they’re calling that these days, we listen to that sometimes, that’s sometimes a fun thing to listen to but our real passion is Rockabilly and 60s.
There seems to be lots of Rockabilly coming out. I mean I remember the first time in the 70s Rockabilly resurgence but now there’s so many, even more things coming out of the vaults. It’s like a time machine, people cranking them out.
Lux: There seems to be a lot of bands that seems to treat it too reverently. You know, they sing about boppin’ in the soda shop and all this kinda stuff and that ain’t what rockabilly is supposed to be about. It’s really supposed to be about sex. And I like Reverend Horton Heat, they do something new with it, and there are a few other bands that do. I wish that somebody would take Rockabilly a step further, and Psychobilly that’s not sexual enough, it’s too fast and not sexual enough most of the time. It’s kind of like Rockabilly mixed with punk. It seems it’s not as sexy as it should be.
Yeah it doesn’t really seem to be concerned with that. It seems to be concerned with the hair-do’s and basically how fast they can play. It’s not tribal enough or sensuous.
Lux: Yeah, I mean if Elvis was concerned about what came 30 years before him, he’d be doing the Charleston. It makes no sense.
It didn’t seem like they want to be rule breakers, like Elvis was more into breaking the rules, so was Jerry Lee Lewis and all the original people.
Lux: Yeah and I think that’s what Rock’n’Roll is really all about whether it’s R’n’B, Rockabilly, whatever it is. I think the Stooges were a great band. They did something brand new when they started, they were about breaking rules and every once in a while something like that happens. But I don’t see much happening since punk rock hit the 70s, you know the Sex Pistols and the Clash and the American bands like the Ramones, when that happened and when we started out, I think that was culture changing and people are still copying that, fashion is copying that and since than Grunge was just a copy of early 70s progressive rock. The thing that punk rock rebelled against – and retro - that’s just disco for the fifth time over again. I’d like to see a bunch of 16 year old kids do something exciting and new with R’n’R. That’d be great.
Yeah it seems like just now, maybe since MTV has stopped being a big focal point for people the young kids I’ve noticed in our audience, the people under 20 seem to be into rock’n’roll again.
Lux: Uh Huh, I noticed that too. Our audiences are mostly very young, kids under 20. They get the point right away. They understand.
Yeah, because they do it by feeling
Lux: It’s all the ones that are 30 years old or something that are trying to make some kind of big philosophy to understand what it is.
It seems like these young kids when I talk to them, they’re rebeling against the generation before them which was Hardcore and Rap and what they’re working on is music that has melody and lyrics that you can remember. That’s what’s good about The Cramps because always their songs were memorable.
Lux: Yeah that’s a good thing and besides that teenagers are always going to be into sex, so if anything good happens that’s probably the age group where it’s going to come from.
Your record covers went through different themes, an S&M clothes faze for awhile but now it seem slike you’re going towards more eclectic, right?
Lux: Well I don’t know, we haven’t had very many record covers so they were just some picture we took at the time. We have always been kind of interested in the same thing so I have no idea what our next record cover would be.
I was over at Epitaph when they were putting your record cover together – the new one – and then told me you guys are going to be coming out through them. Has it made any difference to you being on Epitaph? Sometimes labels are a little controversial with some people.
Lux: Well, that’s OK with me. They sell to the right stores, they sell vinyl and they sell CDs to the stores where a lot of people would go buy a Cramps record and that’s that’s good and they know what they are doing in regards to a lot of things. I just like the people there. The record company we were with before that was a label distributed by Warner Bros. And that was a real horrifying experience. Warner Bros. Was the only real major label that we dealt with so it’s really refreshing to be with Epitaph who are actual real people.
Yeah, I remember that you guys were having a lot of problems with IRS records. It’s hard to find a label to really care about what you’re doing and back you up. But with the Cramps all the fans I know of, myself included, were real concerned that you find someone who would really help you and back you up in a positive way.
Lux: Yeah, it really is because everybody sees something different in the cramps and there’s been times in the past where the record label would say, "Oh, you’re a freak show!", "You’re weirdos!" "We really got to push that freaky thing!", and that’s a part of it. Yeah, it’s a freak show to some guy in a polo shirt but who cares about them. It’s much better to have a record company who says we know who you are, we know who your fans are and this should be something sincere to everybody involved and honest and that’s the best thing to do.
Distribution is really important and things like that and they probably have a good distribution network.
Lux: Yeah they do.
I’ve seen you over the past dozen years and how the shows have changed live, sometimes it’s more elaborate. Like one time I saw you play at "Privates" in NYC and you had the spiders coming out and cobwebs all over the stage and everything. Is there a difference between how you set up the shows year by year, is it planned out how you wanna do it.
Lux: It’s not too planned out. I think some of it is just what we’re into at the moment. We try to have as few rules as possible and we try to leave it open to being unpredictable. So we don’t like having a lot of props around too much but sometimes we’ll we’ll do something because we think it’s fun or somebody gives us something, just like that outfit that Ivy wore. We didn’t plan it out and draw it on drawing boards…
Well I don’t mean it being planned out on paper but as far as wanting to express a certain thing during a certain period.
Lux: Yeah, it’s kinda just what we’re interested in at the time. It’s always different too, sometimes we have no time and we just have to throw something together and other times we have more time to plan something. It’s always different, it seems like we’re always busy. It’s hard when you are in a Rock’n’Roll band, as you know, it’s hard to just keep it above water.
Just the mail drives you crazy, when you get stacks of letters it gets to be very difficult, and you start to worry about the things people write you about. Do you get to play smaller clubs anymore?
Lux: Oh yeah, we play small clubs. It’s really fun. We just played in Montreal in a club that holds 650 people. It’s like two floors and the floor’s just like 10 feet from the stage, the bottom floor is right at the edge of the stage, and it goes all around the stage so I mean nobody was farther away than 20 or 30 feet. And there’s like 650 people crammed in there and that was just chaos. It’s like when you see in movies in the peevles?, it’s like the minute you step on stage, like cshhhhhhhhh. You could hardly hear the music it was just the shrieking going on. That was a ball. Like that showshow we did in NY, the first row of people was like 10 feet from the stage, or at least it seemed like it with all those lights shining, I couldn’t even see the audience half the time..And that’s fun too but the more intimate it is the more fun it is, the more unusual.
The lighting was great though, there in NYC, it was really dramatic.
Lux: Yeah, we only use red and white lights, we try to keep it as simple as possible and you can do a lot of things with that. We don’t have lights that look like disneyland, the color of the rainbow just going off for no reason.
Oh yeah it drives you crazy. You’re trying to play and lights turn green, purple, orange. And you can’t see the fretboard. And the strobe lights too, you do it tastefully, you don’t have it running through every song. When it does come on, everybody really savors those moments, it gets pretty cool. When you’ve been playing, basically the original days when I saw you at the CBGB’s theatre way back on the Bowery, did you ever think that you would still be playing from then till now?
Lux: Well, we didn’t give it that much thought I don’t think. I still can’t imagine not doing the Cramps at this point I still can’t imagine not doing it so I don’t even know what’s going to happen. We’ll just do what seems like the right thing to do. Back then I really don’t think we thought how long are we going to do this. The first time we played CBGB’s, the first time we auditioned I think we were thinking that we’d go out and nobody would like us that much and we’d only play once.
Yeah everybody thinks that the first time. The guitar that Ivy got when she played Human Fly, that Dan Electro was that a vintage one.
Lux: That is completely made, made out of a piece of wood. That was made by a guy in Washington DC, Steve Metts. He makes guitars for people, he makes guitars for ZZ Top, and when we were playing in Washingoton DC he called up Ivy in the hotel room and said, "Hey I made you a guitar I want to give it to you.", and she said "Oh, OK." It’s pretty amazing when you see it close up it has mother of pearl inlay in the fretboard, It has the Cramps logo and on both sides it has those trucker but flap girls. It’s really beautiful.
Yeah you could see it’s got a purple shine from where I was in the audience. I thought it was a Dan Electro the way it was shaped.
Lux: Well it’s a copy of a long horn, the same size and everything but it was completely made from scratch.
What do you think of, I noticed Guitar Wolf opened for you, that whole resurgence in Japan of that whole wild rock’n’roll.
Lux: Well I like a lot of those bands, of course we got Guitar Wolf, we sought them out to get them on the bill and it was difficult. It was difficult communicating with people in Japan most of the time. But I really like the 5678’s, they’re really one of our favorite bands. Have you ever heard their stuff?
Yeah I met them a few times, they’ve played down in NY.
Lux: Yeah and there’s some other bands from over there that are really good. The Cedrics? Yeah there’s a pretty crazy scene over there.
Have you been to any countries besides the usual ones.You've played in Japan and England and all that but have you played even further east? Asian countries at all like Thailand?

Lux: Yeah we haven't been to Thailand but we will probably do that soon.

North Vietnam is having bands come there now.

Lux: Oh Yeah? I didn't know that. I heard that China and Thailand are having bands in there now and we plan to do that but I hadn't heard Vietnam.

Yeah you can go in to North Vietnam through Sweden and get in there and somebody told me that 10,000 people will come to a show, even old villagers because there's nothing else.  But they've been buying American Punk records through the mail now.

Lux: That would be really great.

I got a letter once and I sold bunches of singles, not just of my band but all different ones to people of North Vietnam.  I talked to someone from North Vietnam and they're telling me all these Swedish bands come, and how other bands come through there now that it's a little bit more relaxed. It might be cool to go there.

Lux: If the Cramps played there they probably wouldn't forget it for a while!

Yeah I read that in Thailand when they show Laverne and Shirley, at the beginning they say "Please do not copy these women - they are escaped from a mental institution and are not like how nice normal American girls act." I wonder if you come out to North Vietnam everybody will start emulating a Cramps look.

Lux: That would be pretty funny.


Friday, October 22, 2010

KOGAR THE SWINGING APE presents Lux and Ivy's Favorites Volume Fifteen!

Here is Lux and Ivy's Favorites Volume Fifteen!

This volume is a mix of left over songs from that magical tape that came into my possession earlier this year and some other hold over songs that I've been waiting to throw on the series.

A HUGE thank you goes out to Haunted George for doing the cover for this volume. For those unfamiliar with his work, I highly recommend checking out his Myspace or Facebook pages (the URL's are part of the artwork when you download the volume). Be sure to check out his stuff. It's some of the more interesting/different music being produced today in a landscape filled with the usual garbagegarage (tm).


A few notes on the songs.

The intro/instrumental was reassembled from the original tape using the best sources I could find. You can read the whole story about "instrumental" on my blog. It shouldn't be too hard to find the track title if you really want to know. I kept it a mystery for the hell of it. The actual intro will be familiar with most everyone (i hope!). It was on the tape I was given and I had to laugh when I heard it. You could tell it was recorded using a cheap microphone that was more than likely held up to a television so it could be put on the tape.

Ruth Wallis - Ubangi. Wow, here is a song that i've looked for for years! In an old interview with the Cramps, Lux had attributed this song to someone named Ruth Fallen, and described the song in pretty good detail. I could never find this song anywhere. He called it YOU BANGI ME, I BANGI YOU (or something like that).

Then, as a result of that interview I gave to Dig It magazine, someone contacted me (thanks Colin!) suggesting that it was Ruth WALLIS! I tracked down the song, listened to it, and decided it HAD to be the song Lux was referring to. My guess is that the interviewer mis-heard Lux when he said the name of the artist. FALL-IN, WALL-IS, it could have been careless notes, or a bad transcription of a tape the interviewer had made.

Finding a good copy of the song was nearly impossible. It originally appeared on 78. I found a CD compilation of Wallis's songs with Ubangi on it. Great, right? A version taken from CD has to be good quality, right? Wouldn't you know it? The CD has a glitch on that particular song! Any mp3 rips of it sounded like shit. Besides the glitch it had an amazing amount of background noise.

After a while I found that it had been issued on a LP as well and through some further searching found a sealed copy for sale on ebay. This is the version on this compilation. And even then, it doesn't sound that great. I think it was mastered from the original 78 and not a master tape. The song even gets louder and softer, so I guess no one cared because it was for stag parties anyway!

Then I found a few more holdover songs from the original INCREDIBLY STRANGE MUSIC interview.

Red Hewitt and the Buccaneers - D.J. Blues; Lux never mentioned the artist, just talked about the song, and the lyric "music right out of the swirling all!" The first few seconds of this track remind me of a cramps song. So happy to have found this track. Red Hewitt was from New Zealand and released a few 45's on the Audion label (see scan on tracklisting).

Sheri Lee Douglas - Chime Bells; Never thought I'd find this one. Lux and Ivy swear this is KAY MARTIN singing, and I have to agree with them. It sounds exactly like her. The b-side of this 45 will be on the next LAIF volume.

Let's see, what else? There are a few more tracks from Forbidden City Dog Food as well as a bit from the Purple Knif Show. After listening to it again recently I heard a few seconds of something that never registered with me before. As the show ends, there is a few seconds of the deadly ones song, the mad drummer! It is such a great song, it HAD to be included on this volume.

Enjoy this volume, it might be awhile before the next one, but you never know!

My plans for remastered versions of the earlier volumes are still going according to plan. Volume 6 will be next, then volume's one, two, three and five.

Huge thanks go out to: Debbie D for doing a little sound voodoo on a bunch of the mp3's to make them sound better, Howie Pyro for the secret track, Bruce Milne, Colin Duff, Olaf Jens for helping me with a few songs, Steve Pallow, and Adam Fitch for his amazing graphics.

The first Black Centipede novel, Creeping Dawn, will be creeping your way in ...