Alex Soria

Friends Recall the Brilliant Montreal Musician Too Few Heard

Miror cover by CHRIS BARRY  Up until his tragic passing at age 39 last December, Alex Soria was the impetus behind one of Montreal’s finest rock ‘n’ roll bands ever, the Nils. One of the first punk bands on the local scene, going all the way back to the ’70s, the Nils were responsible for creating some of the most criminally beautiful music to ever emerge from these parts. And though they never quite made it to the toppermost of the poppermost, like so many feel they deserved, Alex’s musical legacy continues to touch and influence countless musicians around the globe. The following is an all-too-brief accounting of his life and times, as told by his friends, associates and brother Carlos, now 42.

CARLOS SORIA In the late ’70s, I was playing in punk bands around town and I’d come home and show Alex songs. Eventually I bought an $80 guitar for him, showed him three chords, and a week later the guy’s playing solos. He was about 13 years old. You’d show him something and then he’d be playing it better than you. He was like that with a lot of things though. He was a killer hockey player, soccer player. As soon as I brought the Pistols and Clash records home, he took them to his little corner and turned their ideas into his own thing. We shared a bedroom in our house in St-Hubert, his bed and my bed faced each other and we’d just sit on our beds writing songs. They weren’t great tunes but, like, a week later he was coming back with better songs and really cool covers of songs he’d figured out. The rest of us had to work pretty hard at it but Alex, it’s like a light shone on the kid, he had a natural God-given talent. And it made no sense either, because just to get a word out of the guy took a week, but dude, when he came onstage and sang it was like, “Wow, how does that come out of that guy?”

BILL MOSER [Nils road manager ’87–’89] Alex and Carlos had this twin-like thing. They knew what the other was thinking. I mean, Alex never had to talk, he’d shoot a look to Carlos who would tell people what was going on based on what he’d just read in Alex’s look. I think he must have been so quiet because of the family issue. The mom ran off when they were kids and stuff.

CARLOS SORIA The very saddest day of both of our lives was on my 18th birthday when my mother took off. I think it had a lot to do with the sadness Alex carried with him.

JIMMY HYNES [friend/roadie] Carlos, Alex and I all went to Macdonald-Cartier on the South Shore together. I used to go over and listen to records in the brothers’ bedroom. Their dad was never around, which probably wasn’t a good thing. So they both kind of ran wild, dropped out of school. Well, maybe Alex finished high school, but no more than that. But they didn’t seem troubled. Man, we used to laugh our heads off together, watching Carlos ride this little girl bicycle up to Grande-Allée Blvd. to go to this bar to buy hash and come back with the stuff on this little bike. All we talked about then was music.

CARLOS SORIA In 1979, the Nils started playing out a bit as a four-piece. They did a song “Scratches and Needles” for this BYO compilation, Something to Believe In, and split up shortly afterwards. I convinced them to keep going, joined the band, and that’s when we did “Call of the Wild” for that Primitive Air Raid compilation and recorded the Paisley EP – around ’82 or ’83. What makes no sense is that everyone agreed the Nils had the best song on that BYO compilation but they never contacted us again. All they cared about was SNFU and Junior Gone Wild, and we were, like, “Hey dude, give us a chance, we’ve got killer songs, come on.” We’d gotten a lot of press, people were into the band and all that, but they didn’t care. I’ve always said if the Nils had John Kastner’s business skills we would have succeeded. But everyone looked at us as these crazy little kids, you know. Alex eating

JOHN KASTNER [Asexuals/Doughboys singer] As soon as the Asexuals left the suburbs around ’83, after our first single, we started playing Cargo downtown and the first band we met were the Nils. The Asexuals and the Nils were always close because we were kind of similar – punkish but with a lot of melody. Right away you could tell Alex had something more than everyone else. But there was always something going wrong for the Nils. They could never get out of their own way, those guys. There was always something fucking them over, be it money or people or… And it was frustrating to be around them. I tried to help the Nils in every way possible, but nothing ever panned out.

SEAN FRIESEN [Asexuals guitarist] Nobody played an SG like that little fucker, crushing his big nose into the mic and singing a great lyric while playing a great riff. Alex was very underrated in the guitar department.

MONTREAL’S NEXT BIG THING  cover_music_1.0

JOHN KASTNER If the Nils had been from the States, they probably would have been as big and influential as the Replacements were. But they were from Canada, and at that time, nobody was really able to shoot out from there. And worse, they were from Montreal. Montreal is a great city for talent but there’s not a lot of industry, at least there wasn’t then.

CARLOS SORIA We never had a proper manager. Nobody ever approached us for anything like that. The Asexuals, 39 Steps, all these bands had people working for them. We always thought, “Fuck, this isn’t fair,” but I guess we had a bad reputation. Around 1985, we became pretty good friends with Ivan from Men Without Hats, who took us to his bank to co-sign a $3,500 loan to record Sell Out Young. We wanted Ivan to produce it because of his pop sensibilities. We wanted to be on the radio, you know? Ultimately he brought in his brother Stefan, and together they were great. At the time we bitched about it, but in hindsight that was a pretty good record. And it helped us a lot. It was voted one of the top 50 records in Canada or something.

IVAN DOROSCHUK [musician/producer] I honestly don’t think Alex was capable of writing a bad song. But it was really hard for me to get anyone – even my own label – interested in them. They would’ve rather seen me produce something more like Men Without Hats, something they could bank on. The Nils were a hard sell. People never understood why I was involved with them, including my wife at the time, who didn’t understand what these four kids were doing in my living room every morning, eating all our food and drinking all our beer. But then they got that deal with Rock Hotel/Profile and Chris Spedding, which was a pretty big thing for them.

CHRIS SPEDDING [musician/producer] Alex never really said much making that record, he just stood there. Still waters run deep, you know. But as soon as the band started playing it was obvious he was the guy to concentrate on, to bring out. The Nils was a very good record, I was proud of the results. [Rock Hotel CEO] Chris Williamson hired me to do the job, not knowing what would happen. He gave me a small budget but as soon as the record started sounding really, really good, he decided to put his name on it as executive producer. I don’t think I ever got any royalties for it.

BILL MOSER Rock Hotel was run by Chris Williamson, a real dickhead. Profile had Run-DMC and were making lots of money. It was a happening label. The Rock Hotel division was actually designed to lose money. So they signed a bunch of rock acts like the Nils and the Cro-Mags. The Nils started out okay with Williamson. He bought them equipment and shit. But when the record came out, they just didn’t get behind it. He said, “I’ll have you opening up for these guys and those guys,” but nothing ever materialized.

CARLOS SORIA Everyone told us not to sign the Rock Hotel contract, going, “Wait, you’re going to get better offers.” But dude, we’d been working it for 10 years and this was the only offer we’d ever got. We’re supposed to turn it down? Our lawyer, this big respected character, told us to just sign it as is and send it back, saying, “Look, you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t.” So we signed it. We just wanted to make a good record. In the end I think it sold something like 50,000 copies.

JIMMY HYNES    1987/88 were great years for the band. There was a big vibe about them, they were hugely popular and we were able to get decent sums of money. They could pull $750 a night when only a year before they’d be lucky to get $200.

CARLOS SORIA So the record comes out, everybody’s going nuts, we’re listed in the Rolling Stone charts, it’s going great. Profile paid to get us in on this amazing U.S. tour with the Godfathers, who were happening back then. Those fucking Godfather guys never gave us a sound check the whole tour, but we were still blowing them away every night, and they knew it. After a few weeks, we’re playing Minneapolis with them. I remember Hüsker Dü, Soul Asylum, Paul Westerberg, all these guys were there that night. Anyway, the next leg of the tour was the West Coast, where we’d actually sold most of our records, and where the Godfathers had some killer gigs lined up. But that day Profile calls us up and says, “Sorry, you’re going home.” Just like that. We were devastated. We had to drive all the way back to Montreal, and let me tell you, that was the most silent trip anyone has ever been on. The beginning of the end, that day. Profile didn’t want to pay for us to tour anymore. If we could’ve finished that tour I know things would have turned out very different.

IVAN DOROSCHUK That was a hot tour, but again, they didn’t have a manager. And they were all nice guys too, you know, up against these cutthroats in the music business.

THINGS TURN TO SHIT

CARLOS SORIA     Fuckya! Everything turned to shit once we got home. When Rock Hotel went under, Profile wanted to keep us, but Williamson saw us as his guys and wouldn’t let us out of the deal. We got held up in legal shit for over a year. All these other companies wanted to sign us but without that fucking release form, we couldn’t do fuck all. Shortly afterwards, [Nils member] Chico and I had a little punch-up in the van coming back from some show and he left the band. I lost my girlfriend Tracy, the girl I should have married; Chico, who was one of my best friends, and my record contract all in one week. We tried to keep it going but it was over. The momentum had been killed and it never picked up again.

BILL MOSER We were doing a show in Montreal and Williamson shows up. And you know, the Nils actually sold a few records, but they never saw a dime. They were flat broke, but the brothers still had some Marshall gear the label had bought for them. Williamson arrives and decides to take their equipment back. So not only does he completely fuck them over, he reclaims their beloved Marshalls. Alex always took on these menial, shitty jobs, going way the fuck up to Montreal North for six bucks an hour and coming home depressed. He hated those fucking jobs. But there wasn’t one night when we were living together where we wouldn’t pick up the guitars, cop a six-pack and just start playing. I often had to coax him into it, but once he picked up the guitar he’d forget about shit and go for hours. Alex knew enough about the music business not to be delusional about becoming a rock star. He just wanted to make enough money so he didn’t have to go to the factory the next day. I can’t tell you how many times he told me, “Man, I just want to make another record.”But they couldn’t because of the legal problems, and that really depressed him. You know, he was fucked.

JIMMY HYNES Carlos and I lived together. One night in 1989 he went out for cigarettes and never came back. He was just freaking out in Montreal. Which left Alex, the world’s worst organizer, to take care of things.

CARLOS SORIA I was so down about the Nils that when I got an offer to play with Mike Conley from MIA in California, I just took it. As soon as I left, I began to get wind that Alex and his girlfriend Karen were using [heroin]. I wrote it off that they were just experimenting but when I returned a few years later I discovered they were full-fledged fucking on it. I started hanging out with them, and yeah, I fell into it too. I think it’s important people know the Nils never started messing with heroin until it was, like, very clear everything had gone very bad.

JIMMY HYNES Karen’s previous boyfriend had been that junkie guy [Dave Rosenberg] from the Chromosomes, and you know how he ended up. [dead]. She was this older woman who took care of Alex, and Alex always wanted a mommy. He loved to be mothered by women and women loved to mother him. Karen mothered him for 10 years or more. After they split up, things weren’t so easy for him anymore.

JOHN CAMPBELL [friend] Alex always had Karen to take care of him, but when Carlos got into dope it became more problematic. Alex felt a kind of responsibility there. At the same time, Carlos felt responsible for Alex, and I think in a way he got in to heroin to be closer to his brother.

BILL MOSER Alex, no matter what his situation, would never rip you off – I dunno if I can say the same about Carlos. Alex never hustled people. Drugs were not the primary focus of his life, music was. I had money, but he never asked me for a dime. He was very embarrassed about his drug problems. It’s kind of fucked people started seeing him as just this junkie guy.

TRYING TO COME BACK

CARLOS SORIA When I got back from L.A, we decided to make a Nils comeback with another lineup. We were using, but there were possibilities there. That was one of the best Nils lineups ever, with Alex McSween on drums. There was hope there, but at the same time you’re battling addiction, so people realize that and sure, they want to help you but they’re saying, “They’re not reliable, they can’t tour because of drugs.” Of course, even before we were on drugs they were telling us that. It was bullshit, gossip talk. We were reliable, we never missed one show. On the contrary, if we were told to show up somewhere at 3 p.m., we’d be there at noon.

JIMMY HYNES After 1995, there was nothing. That’s when Carlos became a mess, and if Carlos was a mess, not much got done. Other people had to organize things for Alex. If there was nobody to organize things, Alex would have stayed on his couch for the rest of his life. How many shows do you think Alex played in his life outside of Montreal without Carlos? The answer is five. Eventually Alex moved in with one of his friends from St-Hubert, Eric Kearns. He’d been doing nothing for three years and Eric just bugged him relentlessly to start playing music again. So much so that he found Alex a band, found him a guitar because Alex had sold his, bugged him to practice, and borrowed $2,000 to pay for the Chino EP, Mala Leche.

CARLOS SORIA By late ’96, Alex had split up with Karen, was pretty clean, and started Chino. By then we had both gotten ourselves together. Well, at least, we both weren’t dependent on it. He put together Chino without me. I knew his reasons. I’d been in Portage rehab clinic for six months anyway. I roadied for them and shit, but yeah, it stung. It was awkward for him as well.

BILL MOSER Carlos had done some pretty shitty [junkie-type] things which led to the demise of the Nils. Alex was cautious about letting him around again, but it was his brother, so he’d always let him back into his life.

CARLOS SORIA I’m not denying that when I was fucked up on heroin, I did some shitty things, but I wasn’t the only one. Alex was no angel either. It was just a really bad situation. You do things for money when you’re strung out that you regret, you know. It was a lot easier for Alex to just maintain than me. He had Karen looking out for him.

JIMMY HYNES Alex never should have let Carlos back in his bands but he always did. It was always the same thing. Alex would have something good going – which he should have kept going – and then he’d stop it to let his brother back in the band. He could never say no to Carlos. Like, Chino were doing pretty well, why didn’t they keep playing? Because Carlos had come around helping out as a roadie. And then he’d be in Alex’s ear saying, “I should be the bass player,” and before you knew it they would be the Nils again. You know, to a lot of people it was kind of a joke that 22 years later, they were still playing around, going, “Look out, the Nils are back!”

MARK DONATO [Chino/Nils guitarist] Chino never had any push. The typical story: no tour, poor distribution. You can’t push your record sitting in your apartment in St-Henri. Of course Alex was frustrated with his career, hearing all these nothing bands on the radio when he’s got all these wonderful songs in his head. But he never really vocalized his frustration. It was more ‘Los who was saying, “My brother should be up there, that should be my brother.” Not Alex.

WOODY WHELAN [Mag Wheel Records] I’d been a huge Nils fan back when I was growing up in Newfoundland. Alex’s lyrics always moved me; there was something about the way he wrote songs, the way he said things, that got to you instantly. I must have listened to that song “Scratches and Needles” nine times in a row when I first got it. I still can’t believe how good it is. When I reissued their Paisley EP and put together [Nils tribute album] Scratches and Needles, it was mostly a labour of love. I’d no idea if they’d sell or not. Same with their [“hits”] compilation, Green Fields and Daylight. I figured some people would be interested, but primarily I thought it important to get their stuff out. I’m sure they’d talked to other people about releasing their records but at that time they were pretty down, you know? People in Montreal were saying to me, “What, are you crazy? Don’t get involved with these guys, they’ll burn you, they’ll never go anywhere, don’t you know they have problems?” But I decided to just do it and see what happens. And funny, when it came back from the pressing plant, all these people who’d told me I was crazy to get involved with the Nils were thanking me for getting their CD out. They still sell, you know. I still get these strange letters from Nils fans, so happy these records are available.

CARLOS SORIA Alex could never understand why somebody would put up money for the old records when he could just give them a bunch of new songs. I’m not ragging on Woody, who I love and who did a lot for the band, but you can understand our frustration. Alex was always about new songs. He didn’t care about the old stuff. It was like, too little, too late.

WOODY WHELAN In 1998, Alex was back, straight, had Chino going, and was really happy and energetic. That’s the thing people are heartbroken about now. For that brief time we thought we had him back again, that things were finally going to go right for him. But you know, again, it didn’t work out and by 2001, they’d split up. Basically, they didn’t get their FACTOR grant to make their record. They were only looking to get eight grand and I know it kind of broke Alex’s heart. He felt bad his dreams weren’t coming true, and one thing kind of leads to another and they started getting in to other things again.

CARLOS SORIA He got more cynical as time went on. We both did. Especially after Chino went the same way as the Nils. A few years ago, we were working at the same place, Alex was my boss there, and he comes in one day feeling down and says to me, “You know, I’m getting tired of this shit. If this fuckin’ music doesn’t work, I don’t want to be moving boxes around my whole life.” I realize now he was saying, “If this is all there is, I don’t want any part of it,” but I didn’t see it as a red flag at the time. Maybe I should have. His cynicism was really beginning to show.

THE END

JOHN CAMPBELL The last year was very difficult for him. Alex liked stability, and he was starting to slip into drugs again. Maybe a month before he died, he went into detox and when he got out he sounded really good. For the first time, it seemed like he was really taking serious steps to combat his drug issues. He’d already signed up to go to Fosters, which is a serious rehab facility. But apparently he was feeling the pressure that his family had become aware of his addiction problems. His girlfriend Debbie had pretty much outed him. She loved him tremendously and it was killing her to watch him slide.

CARLOS SORIA I saw him two days before he died. We were jamming, drinking beers, smoking doob, he was starting a new job that Monday, thinking about playing again, everything was looking good. I knew he’d been having a hard time a few weeks earlier, feeling very down, but I really don’t think he was planning a suicide.

BILL MOSER The day he died, something snapped in him. It was probably like two hours of psychosis in his life and he just didn’t see any way out – just black. He and Carlos had some job packing kosher products or something, and they went into work one day to discover the place had been shut down. So they not only lose their jobs but they don’t get paid at the same time. I know things started spiralling from there. Alex was definitely not a violent guy, but I know that on the day he died he’d had a big fight with Debbie and one of their neighbours called 911 because of all the commotion. After he left their apartment, he went to some restaurant up the street and apparently spent a bit of time in the bathroom there, doing what, I can’t be sure. But when he comes out of the place, he sees the cops at his door and in a panic, takes off towards the tracks. He just freaked, I guess.

JOHN CAMPBELL He might have been high. Whatever the case, he clearly wasn’t in his right mind when he ran down to the train tracks. I dunno what he was thinking. Apparently he gave a half-salute to the conductor, as if to say, “Sorry,” before diving in front of that train.

JOHN KASTNER Alex Soria was more rock ‘n’ roll than anybody I’ve ever met. He had a bit of that Kurt thing to him. I can picture Alex wanting to go out in some weird way, where people would go, “Holy fuck, man!” I honestly think he’ll be remembered as one of the great rock ‘n’ roll guys to ever have come from Montreal. I really don’t think he’ll be forgotten.

BILL MOSER I’ve worked with a lot of people – John Cale, David Johansen, Lou Reed, all of these clowns – and talent-wise, this kid was right up there. I think if he’d been able to just play music, not have to do all these shitty little jobs, none of this would have happened.

CARLOS SORIA When he was with me, even if we weren’t angels, I made sure nothing ever happened to him. When I saw he was freaking out, I’d put him in my arms and wouldn’t let him move until he calmed down. And I worked that guy, I picked him up when he was drunk, sick, I fuckin’ wiped that kid like he was my own little baby, you know. Nothing ever happened to him when he was in my care. If I’d been there that night, no matter how stoned, I would have grabbed him and sat on him until he calmed down. And I know this probably sounds stupid, saying all this, but dude, that’s just how I feel. I dunno, to this day I still don’t understand. It’s almost like it’s not real, like he’s on a trip and is going to come back. A lot of people have come up to me and said, “I never thought it would be him, I always thought it would be you.” Thanks a lot, you know, have a nice fucking day. Nobody loved that guy more than me. Even my mom and sister say, “Carlos has not only lost his brother, he’s lost his best little buddy.” Honestly, everything I ever did was for him, not for me. I always figured that no matter what happened, I’d at least have a job carrying his guitar around. And he always used to say, “‘Los, no matter what happens, I’ll always be with you, man.” And it was the one thing in my life that I always knew was true.

Watch here the Alex Soria memorial concert with John Kastner, Chris Spedding, Ian Blurton, Mack Mackenzie, Idées Noires, Chris Page, Jerk Appeal, members of the Nils, Chino and Los Patos, and other special guests, at the Main Hall on Friday, March 11, 8:30 p.m., $10. Proceeds go towards the MIMI’s Alex Soria Fountains Award for most promising local songwriter, and to the Portage Program for drug dependencies.

Chris Barry just started a new blog called looselips.ca check it out!

Note from Publisher: If you want to know more about Alex Soria I would very strongly advise you to check out Johnny Campbell’s blog who was his closest friend.he made it easy for Alex fans to find all the posts concerning anything related to Alex and/or The Nils, Los Patos or Chino. Lots of very intersting stories on there and related links. Thank you very much Johnny for these precious memories you shared with us.

From the Margins/Blog Archives of Johnny Campbell/Archives of Old Posts since 2002

Here is just about everything you need to hear of the music Alex composed and sang with The Nils, Chino and ”Next of Kin” his unplugged post-mortem solo album. Give it a good try. It is most definitely worth it. Also post-mortem was an album released called ”The Title Is the Secret Song”. 

Also here is for you the legendary ”Green Fields In Daylight” to play on spotify:  

Also for you theMala Leche” album by Chino also on Spotify:          

I suggest you buy the vinyl ”It Must Be Something” (IMBS!). The very best album from The Nils to my taste. There in an insane second release of all The Nils albums on colored split vinyls here in Montreal. tdisc1

MC5 Documentary

Sixties Detroit Rock

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DETROIT, Michigan — With all the troublesome legal questions now firmly resolved, the highly regarded “MC5 – A True Testimonial” documentary film is finally poised for release.

Having screened to SRO crowds and widespread critical acclaim at international film festivals around the world, the much lauded MC5 documentary had been poised to make a major splash before it’s derailment in early 2004. The highly anticipated film had a full schedule of nationwide theatrical screenings in place, followed by a DVD release, before the curious decision was made to deny the requisite synchronization license for the MC5’s music publishing.

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That decision, initiated at the behest of Wayne Kramer, one of the two guitarists in the legendary but long-defunct band, ignited a firestorm of controversy. Kramer had long supported the film’s production, having once said “The filmmakers have done a fabulous job of telling the story of the MC5… the story is finally getting told and told right.”

Having successfully blocked the film’s release, the guitarist would later file suit in federal court in November 2005 over a purported “music producer” position and alleging a variety of copyright infringement, fraud and breach of contract claims against director David Thomas, producer Laurel Legler and Future/Now Films.

After hearing extensive testimony and reviewing the evidence presented during a week-long trial held October 2006 in Santa Ana, California, United States District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford dismissed all charges against the filmmakers, concluding there was “insufficient factual basis to establish any claim” against them.MC5austour

In a decision rendered March 31, 2007, Judge Guilford found “no terms specific enough to form an enforceable contract were ever agreed upon,” that neither Thomas or Legler “had made any actionable false representations” to Kramer, and that the dispute arose only after Future/Now Films “demonstrated that the film they were crafting could be successful” adding “The MC5 is historically significant and its music and story merit being heard today. The film had and still has the potential to spread the music and story of the MC5.”

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The families of the late Rob Tyner and Fred “Sonic” Smith have been fully supportive of the film’s release from the beginning; Patti Smith has been unequivocal, saying “They were a great band and they should be remembered. And they should be remembered together. This film is a very good opportunity to give them recognition.”

With authorizations from the surviving members now in place, Vincent Cox, attorney for Future/Now Films, has declared “the disputes are water under the bridge, and there’s no point in rehashing them.”

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One could argue that, had the film come out as scheduled, it would have boosted the MC5’s profile enough to propel the band into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; the band’s sole nomination came in 2002 when the “MC5 – A True Testimonial” festival tour was in full swing. Whether or not that time has now passed remains to be seen.

Nonetheless, as USDC Judge Guilford noted in his decision, director David Thomas and producer Laurel Legler were “first-time filmmakers who spent eight years of their lives trying to create a documentary film that would be historically truthful, a documentary that would celebrate the talent and creativity of the MC5 band, a documentary that would say something about the 60’s, and would say something about the present. They succeeded, and the film merits wide distribution for the enjoyment and edification of the masses.”

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In other words… “KICK OUT THE JAMS, MOTHERFUCKERS!!!”

Electrik Emotions

Jimi Hendrix by Moebius 1966

I can’t explain myself like ”this” or ”that” sometimes, ’cause, you know, it just doesn’t come out like that. -Jimi Hendrix

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A few images of Jimi Hendrix done in France by the creator of Silver Surfer, the famous French artist Jean Giraud a.k.a Moebius, imagining Hendrix in a infinite imaginary world that never cease to glorify an epic vision… A cosmic infinite magical universe. All this in 1966 at a time Hendrix was virtually unkown… Few people know that Hendrix first major gig was in France when Chas Chandler, ex Animals and now Hendrix manager got the freshly put together band ”The Jimi Hendrix Experience” to headline for Johnny Hallyday. So it was the 13th of October 1966 in Evreux, France that Hendrix played his first major gig. The show in Nancy on the 14th of October 1966 is immortalised on film by Swiss director Claude Goretta in which you can see the 2 rockers blowing smoke rings in a restaurant. This was the birth of a myth only witnessed and rendered by two wise visionaries who inmmediately sensed the brilliant talent of a rising star guitarist that would soon become a legend. Of course Jimi came back to play the Olympia in 1967 and when he returned once more in 1968, he was not a stranger anymore… 

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Emotions Electriques is a book published in 1998 by French journalist  Jean-Noël Coghe who followed Hendrix while he was in France in 1966 and 1967 illustrated by Moebius who was inpsired by the pictures taken by the Coghe. Both the artist and the journalist had forseen the glory of starry eyed, timeless guitar player JIMI HENDRIX.  

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ÉDITEUR : CASTOR ASTRAL        ISBN : 9782859203863

AUTEUR : MOEBUS/ COGHE, JEAN-NOËL

The Dark Angels of Altamont

Gothic Requiem for the Flower Power

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Click on pic for complete documentary about the events that took place at Altamont in 1969.
gimme sheler
Click film about Altamont 

     I thought it would be interesting to gather some bands that, for a short while during the late 60’s had a look that was some sort of mix between romanticism and what is nowadays called ”goth” with a slight psychedelic touch. I thought some of you might not exactly know what I am talking about…So… An image being worth a thousand words, here are images of some well-known bands that already had the looks of  that style that have become so trendy lately and could very well demonstrate precisely what I am trying to explain.  I wanted to do this for a while now because it is a short and unfortunately rather unexplored period, I thought it looked so cool and mysterious that I was immediately drawn to it the first time I looked at that picture on the Deep Purple album that has that Hieronymus Bosch (see picture further below) painting on the cover that illustrates a hellscape and portrays the torments of damnation in a manner I have never could even have fathomed before; Large explosions in the background throw light through a city gate and spill forth onto the water in the midground, their fiery reflection turning the water below into blood. The light illuminates a road filled with fleeing figures, while hordes of tormentors prepare to burn a neighbouring village. A short distance away, a rabbit carries an impaled and bleeding corpse, while a group of victims above are thrown into a burning lantern. The foreground is populated by a variety of distressed or tortured figures. Some are shown vomiting or excreting, others are crucified by harp and lute, in an allegory of music, thus sharpening the contrast between pleasure and torture. A choir sings from a score inscribed on a pair of buttocks, part of a tryptic that has been described as the “Musicians’ Hell”.  Being quite young (something like 7 or 9) the painting and the picture in the back also had a  lasting effect on me and reflected on something I had never experienced before, the painting was downright scary and the guys from this band called Deep Purple that I had never heard before were looking so detached and relaxed, I already had that fascination with Dracula at the time so I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. I just felt there was something there and I wanted to delve into those medieval Dark Princes. Later on I recognize it was my first experience with the ”Gothic look” and I immediately recognize it when it came back to the surface much later on and I was surprised no one ever mentioned that it was already there during the end of the roaring sixties…Yes it has been indeed revived later on but to me it always lacked the wild romantic, psychedelic-romantic touch of the 60s and its unleashed and uncanny feeling, probably related to the fact that so many things went totally out of control during the end of that decade… Some words automatically comes to mind…JFK (the first victim? 22/11/1963) … Charles Manson…Viet-Nam…Black Panthers…Martin Luther King… The death of the 4 most significant Rock USA Icons within 2 years to the day!!! Brian Jones from the Stones was the first to depart on July the 3rd,1969, Jimi Hendrix on September 18, 1970, Janis Joplin on October 4, 1970 and finally Jim Morrison, also on July the 3rd, 1971 was the last one to leave this world, like I said, 2 years to the day after Brian Jones. One could say in French (since Jim died in France) that ”le jour ‘‘J” definitely is July the 3rd because it started with Jones (or JFK in 1963???) and ended in July with Jim, taking Jimi and Janis in between for their Last Journey.  Maybe I’m just sensing the sheer terror and the unfathomable deception that took place on December the 6th 1969 ”all across the USA”…ALTAMONT!  Everyone seeing and feeling that even The Stones on which some had built high hopes for future generations were fragile, could, and had in fact been shattered...(I think I’m shattered!) Is it possible some of those artists/ musicians/ songwriters/ poets who were just about to become prophets for generations of fans to come who felt it coming and  what they felt was a genuine urge to mourn. Knowing what we do now, we must admit that they were very much right to do so…  Here is my tribute to all of those who felt all what was about to become the death of the dream of all those kids from the 60s (Talking ’bout my Generation) and which became the HELL that we live in today. Maybe some of you think Hell is too strong of a word but if you really take a look back and see what those kids wanted the world to be and compare it to what it’s become now, I would really think HELL is the right word. Don’t you think??? 

BlackSabbathgoth 70

BlackSabbathgoth 71
Black Sabbath 1971
Deep Purple Goth
Deep Purple
Deep Purple 1968

Pink Floyd (Syd Barrett era)

Pink Floyd (Syd Barrett era)
Pink Floyd (Syd Barrett era) 1967
Rolling Stones
Rolling Stones 1967
The Who
The Who 1968
Mick Jagger and John Lennon
Mick Jagger and John Lennon 1967 by David Magnus. ”All You Need is Love” (Is it Really?)
Keith Richard
Keith Richard 1968
Sharon Tate And Roman Polanski’S Wedding. 1968
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Davie Bowie
David Bowie 1968
OK now you have fun finding who's who...
Hendrix, Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett and lots of friends…1967
And of course, The Velvet Underground in their very unique way.
The Velvet Underground in their very unique way. Here with Andy Warhol in 1965.

Lou Reed
Lou Reed
Lou Reed 1971-72
Nico-à-la-croix_modifié-2
Nico, obviously a major influence
Nico
Brian Jones
Nico and Brian Jones at Monterey Pop Festival,1968
8_13_John_Cale_at_Session-10
John Cale from The Velvet Underground, 1966
Arthur BrownTHE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN 1968
ron-ashton800Ron Asheton (From The Stooges) in the Nazi suit he wore at Iggy’s wedding to Wendy Weissberg in 1968!  (Pic taken by Jenny Lens, MFA in 1976)
60s Model Penelope Tree
60s Model Penelope Tree
Jim Morrison from The Doors Jim Morrison, The Doors 1969
jimi-hendrix-jacket
Hendrixgoth
JanisJanis Joplin 1967
The Beatles- Last Photo Session, 1969
The Beatles- Last Photo Session, 1969

Bosh

The Stones at Altamont
THE STONES AT ALTAMONT BY LOIS STAVSKY (CLICK ON PIC FOR MORE DETAILS BY LESTER BANGS)

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Charles Bukowski

Born Into This

Born Into This, a film documenting the author’s life, was released in 2003. It features contributions from Sean Penn, Tom Waits, Harry Dean Stanton and Bono (U2’s song “Dirty Day” was dedicated to Bukowski when released in 1993).

Henry Charles Bukowski was an American poet, novelist and short story writer. His writing was influenced by the social, cultural and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles. It is marked by an emphasis on the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women and the drudgery of work. Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over sixty books. In 1986 Time called Bukowski a “laureate of American lowlife”. Regarding Bukowski’s enduring popular appeal, Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker wrote, “the secret of Bukowski’s appeal. . . [is that] he combines the confessional poet’s promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero.”

Bukowski died of leukemia on March 9, 1994, in San Pedro, California, aged 73, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp. The funeral rites, orchestrated by his widow, were conducted by Buddhist monks. An account of the proceedings can be found in Gerald Locklin’s book Charles Bukowski: A Sure Bet. His gravestone reads: “Don’t Try”, a phrase which Bukowski uses in one of his poems, advising aspiring writers and poets about inspiration and creativity. Bukowski explained the phrase in a 1963 letter to John William Corrington: “Somebody at one of these places […] asked me: ‘What do you do? How do you write, create?’ You don’t, I told them. You don’t try. That’s very important: ‘not’ to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It’s like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks you make a pet out of it.”

Bukowski published extensively in small literary magazines and with small presses beginning in the early 1940s and continuing on through the early 1990s. These poems and stories were later republished by Black Sparrow Press (now HarperCollins/ECCO) as collected volumes of his work. In the 1980s he collaborated with illustrator Robert Crumb on a series of comic books, with Bukowski supplying the writing and Crumb providing the artwork.

Bukowski often spoke of Los Angeles as his favorite subject. In a 1974 interview he said, “You live in a town all your life, and you get to know every bitch on the street corner and half of them you have already messed around with. You’ve got the layout of the whole land. You have a picture of where you are…. Since I was raised in L.A., I’ve always had the geographical and spiritual feeling of being here. I’ve had time to learn this city. I can’t see any other place than L.A.”

One critic has described Bukowski’s fiction as a “detailed depiction of a certain taboo male fantasy: the uninhibited bachelor, slobby, anti-social, and utterly free”, an image he tried to live up to with sometimes riotous public poetry readings and boorish party behaviour. Since his death in 1994 Bukowski has been the subject of a number of critical articles and books about both his life and writings. His work has received relatively little attention from academic critics. ECCO continues to release new collections of his poetry, culled from the thousands of works published in small literary magazines. According to ECCO, the 2007 release The People Look Like Flowers At Last will be his final posthumous release as now all his once-unpublished work has been published.

abukowskigrave

Chris Labrooy

Tales of Auto Elasticity

Chris Labrooy’s has exhibited at the design museum in London and been featured in various publications, exploring CGI as a creative medium in itself which he could subvert and twist familiar everyday things into new typographic and sculptural form at the intersection between typography, architecture, product design and visual art. 

JuxtapozChrisLaBrooy02

JuxtapozChrisLaBrooy03 JuxtapozChrisLaBrooy04 JuxtapozChrisLaBrooy05 JuxtapozChrisLaBrooy06 JuxtapozChrisLaBrooy01 JuxtapozChrisLaBrooy12 JuxtapozChrisLaBrooy11 JuxtapozChrisLaBrooy10 JuxtapozChrisLaBrooy09 JuxtapozChrisLaBrooy00 JuxtapozChrisLaBrooy08

For more check JUXTAPOZ!

 

FAN XIAOYAN’S FLESH AND STEEL

Steel Dreams Are Made of These..

fan-xiaoyan5

It’s the arrival of a new era, a new kind of human being, a new power, a new sen­sa­tion… a sur­re­al­is­tic vir­tual world in which men and women are equally physically adapted in terms of strength and abilities.  Fan Xiaoyan‘s series of sculptures flesh and metal are combined with an acute severity, exploring the mechanics of penetration with unsettling force. Cyborgs are a metaphor for the technological advancement of the human race and Xiaoyan uses cruder machinery such as saw blades, engine rotors and piping to convey a more primal, sexual robot humanoid.

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Weaponized Cyborg Working Tank Women from Fan Xiaoyan
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Weaponized Cyborg Working Tank Women from Fan Xiaoyan
Cyborg Working Women from Fan Xiaoyan
Weaponized Cyborg Working Women from Fan Xiaoyan
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Weaponized Cyborg Women from Fan Xiaoyan

Weaponized Cyborg-Women from Fan Xiaoyan

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Cyborg Nannies from Fan Xiaoyan
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Steel Naked
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Tirelessly
She, who reads blindly, shouldn't have read,2010,Stainless steel and brass
She, who reads blindly, shouldn’t have read,2010,Stainless steel and brass
T he Winding Earthly
The Winding Earthly

Maison Blanche/CoquillageMaison Blanche/Coquillage

Juxtapoz /The Sculptures of Fan Xiaoyan

Fan-Xiaoyan-Double-Protection-Beijing-2015
Double Protection by Fan Xiaoyan

William S. Burroughs and Kurt Cobain: A Dossier

The Priest They Called Him

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Cobain greatly admired Burroughs, instigating their collaboration on The “Priest” They Called Him and visiting the Beat legend at his home in Lawrence, Kansas. And while Burroughs does not seem to have been especially impressed with the music of Nirvana, he was greatly saddened by Cobain’s suicide. Here is the story.

At Timberland Library [high school senior Kurt Cobain] discovered S.E. Hinton and William Burroughs, whose work would have an increasing influence on Cobain’s life. He read Burgess admiringly and J.D. Salinger without complaint. Cobain hated Scott Fitzgerald, whose critical resurgence was in decline, neither liked nor understood Faulkner and couldn’t talk about Hemingway without losing his temper. – Christopher Sandford, Kurt Cobain

Allen [Ginsberg] wasn’t always a good judge of talent. The Kerouac School rejected Kurt Cobain’s application, but they accepted mine. Go figure. Life isn’t just unfair, it’s weird. – Sam Kashner, author of When I Was Cool: My Life at the Kerouac School, in a Powells.com interview

When the tour hit Rotterdam on the first of September [1991], it was almost with a nostalgic wistfulness that Kurt approached the last show. He was wearing the same T-shirt he’d had on two weeks earlier — it was a bootlegged Sonic Youth t-shirt — which had gone unwashed, as had his jeans, the only pair of pants he owned. His luggage consisted of a tiny bag containing only a copy of William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, which he had found in a London bookstall. – Charles R. Cross, Heavier than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain

Kurt’s got a literary bent, and jokes that he likes “anything that starts with a B. I think I like Burroughs best, and I’m into Bukowski and Beckett.” He’s a fan of William Burroughs’ dense style, and admires the “cut-up” writing technique he pioneered in the ’40s, calling it revolutionary. – Katherine Turman, Smells Like… Nirvana

In the autumn of 1992 Burroughs and Cobain collaborated on The “Priest” They Called Him. (Listen to an excerpt.)

Cobain himself was an acknowledged fan of Burroughs’ oeuvre and first met with his hero in culture-space on a recording entitled The “Priest” They Called Him. This EP is constructed from a reading by Burroughs (recorded at his home in Lawrence, Kansas on 25 September 1992) overdubbed with Cobain’s guitar accompaniment (recorded in November 1992, at Laundry Room Studios in Seattle). Cobain later faxed Burroughs asking if he would play a crucifixion victim in a video for Nirvana’s forthcoming “Heart-Shaped Box” single. Burroughs declined but a meeting between the two was arranged and took place at Burroughs’ home in October 1993. – New Dawn Magazine

“Narcotics have been systematically scapegoated and demonized. The idea that anyone can use drugs and escape a horrible fate is an anathema to these idiots. I predict in the near future right-wingers will use drug hysteria as a pretext to set up an international police apparatus. I’m an old man and I may not live to see a solution to the drug problem.”

Interviewer: How did you get on with William Burroughs when you recorded together recently?

Cobain: That was a long distance recording session. [Laughs] We didn’t actually meet.

Interviewer: Did he show a genuine awareness of your music?

Cobain: No, we’ve written to one another and we were supposed to talk the other day on the phone, but I fell asleep — they couldn’t wake me up. I don’t know if he respects my music or anything; maybe he’s been through my lyrics and seen some kind of influence from him or something, I don’t know. I hope he likes my lyrics, but I can’t expect someone from a completely different generation to like rock’n’roll — I don’t think he’s ever claimed to be a rock’n’roll lover, y’know. But he’s taught me a lot of things through his books and interviews that I’m really grateful for. I remember him saying in an interview, “These new rock’n’roll kids should just throw away their guitars and listen to something with real soul, like Leadbelly.” I’d never heard about Leadbelly before so I bought a couple of records, and now he turns out to be my absolute favorite of all time in music. I absolutely love it more than any rock’n’roll I ever heard.

Interviewer: The song you’ve recorded together makes references to shooting up, and Burroughs’ own history of drug-taking is no secret. Were you worried that this collaboration might throw the spotlight on press rumours that you’ve had considerable experience with hard drugs yourself?

Cobain: I don’t think it’s any secret any more, it’s been reported so much for so long. I really don’t care what anyone thinks about my past drug use — I mean, I’m definitely not trying to glorify it in some way. Maybe when I was a kid, when I was reading some of his books, I may have got the wrong impression. I might have thought at that time that it might be kind of cool to do drugs. I can’t put the blame on that influence but it’s a mixture of rock’n’roll in general — you know, the Keith Richards thing and Iggy Pop and all these other people who did drugs. I just thought it was one of those things that you do to relieve the pain, but… As I expected before I started heroin, I knew at the beginning that it would become just as boring as marijuana does. All drugs, after a few months, it’s just as boring as breathing air. I’ve always lied about it because I never wanted to influence anybody, I didn’t want anyone to consider the thought of doing drugs because it’s really stupid. – Martin Clarke, Kurt Cobain: The Cobain Dossier

I’ve collaborated with one of my only Idols William Burroughs and I couldn’t feel cooler”. – Kurt Cobain, Journals

Courtney returns, so we head back downstairs and, after a little difficulty trying to get the tape deck to work, myself and Courtney sit cross-legged on the floor. An avalanche of records surrounds us; Sub Pop singles of the month, Kleenex, Opal, Mudhoney, even Suede is here, PJ Harvey’s “Rid Of Me” is on the turntable, and a few books are scattered on the carpet; John Steinbeck, Jean Paul Sartre, William Burroughs’ Queer. Kurt grabs a book by Leonard Cohen, looks at us bemusedly and retreats upstairs.” – Brian Willis, “Domicile on Cobain Street,” NME, 24 July 1993

What “Heart-Shaped Box” meant to Kurt is best surmised by the treatment he wrote for the song’s video. Kurt envisioned it starring William S. Burroughs, and he wrote Burroughs begging him to appear in the video. “I realize that stories in the press regarding my drug use may make you think that this request comes from a desire to parallel our lives,” he wrote. “Let me assure you, this is not the case.” But exactly what Kurt hoped to achieve by casting the writer was never clear. In his attempt to convince Burroughs to participate, he had offered to obscure the writer’s face, so that no one other than Kurt himself would know of his cameo. Burroughs declined the invitation.” – Charles R. Cross, Heavier than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain

Cobain visiting BurroughsThe journals sketch the evolution of the video’s symbol-laden, elliptically autobiographical narrative. At first, it was to star William Burroughs, whom Cobain evidently revered as a long-lived defier of convention (overlooking the fact that Burroughs survived only because he switched from heroin to marijuana early on) and for his aleatoric compositional technique, morbid mythology, and sardonic W.C. Fieldsian cynicism. Here was the first scene, expressing Cobain’s sense of himself as repository of Burroughs’ artistic spirit: “William and I sitting across from one another at a table (black and white) lots of Blinding Sun from the windows behind us holding hands staring into each other’s eyes. He gropes me from behind and falls dead on top of me. Medical footage of sperm flowing through penis. A ghost vapor comes out of his chest and groin area and enters me Body.”

Burroughs wouldn’t do the video, so Cobain used a generic old man on a cross and pecked at by crows. To him, birds also symbolized old men advocating death: “Me–old man,” he writes. “Have made my conclusion. But nobody will listen anymore. Birds [are] reincarnated old men with tourrets syndrome . . . their true mission. To scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth . . . screaming bloody murder all over the world in our ears but sadly we don’t speak bird.” Clearly, Cobain spoke bird. – Seattle Weekly

In October 1993 Cobain met in Burroughs in Lawrence, KS.

During this first week of the tour, Alex MacLeod drove Kurt to Lawrence, Kansas, to meet William S. Burroughs. The previous year Kurt had produced a single with Burroughs titled The “Priest” They Called Him, on T/K Records, but they’d accomplished the recording by sending tapes back and forth. “Meeting William was a real big deal for him,” MacLeod remembered. “It was something he never thought would happen.” They chatted for several hours, but Burroughs later claimed the subject of drugs didn’t come up. As Kurt drove away, Burroughs remarked to his assistant. “There’s something wrong with that boy; he frowns for no good reason.” – Charles R. Cross, Heavier than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain

Image of Kurt Cobain and William BurroughsBurroughs describes the meeting… “I waited and Kurt got out with another man. Cobain was very shy, very polite, and obviously enjoyed the fact that I wasn’t awestruck at meeting him. There was something about him, fragile and engagingly lost. He smoked cigarettes but didn’t drink. There were no drugs. I never showed him my gun collection.” The two exchanged presents — Burroughs gave him a painting, while Cobain gave him a Leadbelly biography that he had signed. Kurt and music video director Kevin Kerslake originally wanted Burroughs to appear in the video for “In Bloom.” – Carrie Borzillo, Nirvana: The Day-By-Day Chronicle

“I’ve been relieved of so much pressure in the last year and a half,” Cobain says with a discernible relief in his voice. “I’m still kind of mesmerized by it.” He ticks off the reasons for his content: “Pulling this record off. My family. My child. Meeting William Burroughs and doing a record with him. – Rolling Stone Interview, 25 October 1993

Cobain killed himself on 5 April 1994.

In Lawrence, meanwhile, William Burroughs sat poring over the lyric sheet of In Utero. There was surely poignancy in the sight of the eighty-year-old author, himself no stranger to tragedy, scouring Cobain’s songs for clues to his suicide. In the event he found only the “general despair” he had already noted during their one meeting. “The thing I remember about him is the deathly grey complexion of his cheeks. It wasn’t an act of will for Kurt to kill himself. As far as I was concerned, he was dead already.” Burroughs is one of those who feel Cobain “let down his family” and “demoralized the fans” by committing suicide.                                                                                                           –Christopher Sandford, Kurt Cobain

A group calling itself “Friends Understanding Kurt” faxed a press release to various news organizations, claiming a “string of suicides associated with the [dream] machine since the 1960s.” The press release stated after he obtained one of the devices, “Kurt immediately commenced a habitual, perhaps maniacal use of the Dream-machine, then took it with him to his and Courtney’s shared Seattle mansion where he stationed himself with the device in a room above the garage.” It stated the Dream Machine was found in the room where Cobain died, although police and medical examiner reports contradict that. Nevertheless, the claims were widely published. William S. Burroughs, who knew Cobain and had collaborated with him, dismissed such speculation as “nonsense…” The Cobain story was ultimately proved to be a hoax. – John Geiger, Chapel of Extreme Experience

An old diary of mine from my love affair (marriage) surfaced at Sanctuary today. I read it. I miss being loved by a husband very much… there were pictures of Kurt in there… pictures of Kurt walking with William Burroughs. I really miss him. – Courtney Love, Dirty Blonde: The Diaries of Courtney Love

A source that wishes to remain anonymous provided these pictures of a painted collage that Burroughs sent to Cobain for his 27th birthday, less than two short months before the singer’s death.

Painting by William Burroughs Painting by William Burroughs Painting by William Burroughs
Published by RealityStudio on 18 February 2007. You can download a Russian version of this dossier translated by Boyroid, who also provided a letter that Kurt Cobain sent to Burroughs asking him to appear in a Nirvana video.