Interview by Dan Warburton
photo by Manfred Rahs
Weasel Walter was, in his own words, "born 1972 in some stupid, conservative Midwestern town, showed signs of weirdness at a young age and was attracted to music and visual art, particularly in the form of Marvel comics." At the age of 11 he heard and identified with punk rock, changed his name to Weasel and began learning guitar, eventually playing a home-made bass guitar in a hardcore band. He discovered the music of James Chance and Lydia Lunch ("two iconoclasts I heavily identified with") and took up the drums at 15. He discovered free jazz and Xenakis through records obtained at the local public library, began recording bizarre solo music on cassette 4-track at the age of 16 and moved to Chicago in 1990 "to play music (and attend college in my spare time)." He worked as a sound engineer at the now defunct Chicago performance space Southend Musicworks, and met, amongst others, Peter Brötzmann, Evan Parker, Marilyn Crispell and Barry Guy. He played bass guitar in Anthony Braxton's Workshop Orchestra and later that year met Hal Russell and formed the first line-up of the Flying Luttenbachers. Weasel is to the Luttenbachers what Mark E. Smith is to The Fall – it's his baby and still kicking ass 14 years and as many albums later. The interview was pieced together from email exchanges during the autumn of 2006.
What was the stupid, conservative Midwestern town?
Rockford, Illinois. Cheap Trick hails (mostly) from there. It was also home to a company called Sunstrand that built parts for various US space shuttles. It's a wasteland. Total Dullsville. Fortunately I grew up in a hardcore / punk milieu and there were three great record stores that sold strange used records and good old "cut-outs" for a few bucks. Back then you couldn't give away No Wave or free jazz. I would save my pathetic teenage allowance and minimum-wage money from my part-time library job to buy the weirdest vinyl I could find.
You're well known as an authority on No Wave. How did that come about?
I bought a Contortions album as a cut-out in my local record store when I was 14 and I identified with the concept, music and image of what they were doing. Coming out of punk in the mid 80s, the trajectory from that to No Wave made a lot of sense to me. It was weirder and more extreme, more based on strong personalities. So I bought a lot of the ROIR cassette releases and kept my eyes peeled for used copies of key records. The crossover between the No Wave and jazz scenes helped spark my interest in free jazz, so I'm certainly grateful to it for that. Since 1986 or so, I've just stockpiled footage and info on the subject. I consider it a quaint hobby. I don't really care about being recognized as some kind of authority. My brain isn't the steel trap it used to be and I'm too busy trying to live my own life and career, so I don't have much time anymore to obsess about somebody else's.
Was there any music in the family?
Zero. My immediate family was and remains free of any artistic pretence. I don't know what the hell happened to me. The old platitude about "a curse and a blessing" comes to mind. They don't discourage what I do, but it definitely took them a long, long time to come to terms with it. They figure if I've been doing it this long, I must know what I'm doing. They're only about 10 percent right, but don't tell them that. I see my musical activity as a constructive by-product of being neurotic.
Why did you choose the name "Weasel"?
For the alliteration with my last name. It seemed cool at the time. I was 11. Things seem cool when you're 11. Sometimes detractors resort to using my name against me, as if my personality somehow reflects the stereotypical characteristics of the animal. They really need to be more imaginative in their insults.
Can you remember any early musical experiences that really made an impression?
The first music
I strongly identified with was Kiss. I viewed them as god-like superheroes.
I made my first, totally incomprehensible attempts to write down music
on a plastic Kiss guitar (I knew there was a way, but figured out how
to do it a little later on).
I was part of a generation that was given the impression a) that you could achieve anything you wanted if you worked hard enough and a) that being a musician was really easy and fun. Plus you get to be in cool videos. Ooops. Neither of these really panned out for most people of my generation, methinks. Cold, hard reality prevailed unfortunately. Needless to say, I felt I could define myself within music and it seemed a like an all-encompassing form with infinite potential. I remember that when I was about eight years old (and my hearing was still decent) I would be mesmerized by the quality of treble itself, listening to whatever crap was on the FM radio over cheap headphones on my parents' stereo and only hearing the raw frequency information. Around the age of 11 I acquired an acoustic guitar and since my grandmother worked at some cut-rate electronics warehouse, I was able to slap a really cheap pick-up on it. I quickly discovered feedback and would perform cacophonous extended free improvisations on guitar to amuse myself. Most of my pivotal musical discoveries have been solitary ones, an exception being in 1993 when Kevin Drumm played me Legion by Deicide.
You seem to have tried your hand at a number of instruments.
I began taking guitar lessons when I was 11, moving to bass guitar soon after, inspired by how cool John Taylor from Duran Duran looked in the "Planet Earth" video. I was disappointed when my teacher insisted I learn to play with a pick instead of the de rigueur MTV hack finger style, but now I'm glad I did. I pretended to play drums on cardboard boxes, so the first time I touched an actual drumset at 15, I knew what to do. I started learning clarinet and bass clarinet by the book around 1988. I don't practice anymore but I was very serious about it in college. I'm also a fairly inept C-melody saxophonist and an absolutely abysmal pianist and trombonist. I gave up contrabass in the late 80s because it's too big, too quiet and all the orchestral parts written for it suck. But most of whatever skill I might possess comes from the school of hard knocks, the university of eternally-delayed gratification and studying the works of the masters. I've accomplished what I've accomplished through sheer determination and force of will as well as with the encouragement of numerous people I've met along the way.
How did the Flying Luttenbachers come about, and where does the name come from?
I bought a
used copy of Hal Russell and Mars Williams' Eftsoons [Nessa,
1981] when I was in high school and I really liked the first track on
it a lot. When I saw Hal was on the faculty at Columbia College I figured
that had be the place for me to go. Chicago seemed better than Rockford
and I definitely wanted some kind of "in" to the free jazz scene.
I did sound at Southend Musicworks during 91 and 92 and met Hal when he
played there with the NRG Ensemble. By late 91 I signed up for private
lessons with him. I brought my C-melody saxophone and we played a duet,
clicking immediately. We used to jam together, Hal on soprano sax and
myself on the crappy practice room drum kit. Then he called me to fill
in on bass for Noel Kupersmith in the NRG 3 to play some weird private
party for a free jazz fan. We played Albert Ayler covers in the guy's
basement before having dinner with his utterly horrified family.
Hal suggested we make our own group, trading instruments at will. My friend Chad Organ invited himself into the fold on tenor saxophone and we took the name The Flying Luttenbachers, which is a sophomoric take on Hal's little-known family name. Chad and I would trek to his neck of the woods in South Chicago on the city bus each weekend and Hal would pick us up in his little car at the Taco Bell parking lot and drive us to his house. We'd jam in the attic for hours. Every minute of it was recorded.
Where are those tapes now?
Maybe Mars Williams has them, I'm not sure. I don't think I'll ever hear any of them again, but I'm not holding my breath. We had a lot of good times, but that was a lifetime ago and it's just a slice of history to me now.
You also played bass guitar in an Anthony Braxton Workshop Orchestra. When was that? Which pieces did you play?
I suppose it was about May 92. We played Compositions 93, 135, 100, 91, 142, 163 and 63. I had mixed feelings about the experience. It was the first time I'd worked with hack musicians who had zero enthusiasm for the project at hand. I was completely shocked. For me, it was an honor to be in the same room as a legend! A feeling not shared by many of the others: for some reason the Jazz Institute of Chicago, who were sponsoring the workshop, had invited musicians from the University of Illinois at Chicago and most of them out to be arrogant jerks who just wanted the paycheck and couldn't care less about the music or challenge. There were plenty of others in Chicago that would have died to have been involved, but as usual, politics rained on the parade. There were a few legit people there – Ken Vandermark, Ameen Muhammad, Ryan Schultz, Damon Short, Martin Alexander – but most of the musicians were either visibly contemptuous or downright confused. I don't remember the music being very well played. There was a lot of negative attitude flying around and I'm surprised that it happened at all. Naturally the incompetent idiot from Columbia College who recorded the event messed the tape up, so there's no document. Some positive things came out of the mess though. I made contact with Ken Vandermark. We clearly had some mutual interests so we made a point of taking each other's numbers down. After Hal Russell ditched the Luttenbachers in June 92, I called Ken and asked him to play on our first record, the 546 Seconds of Noise 7".
How did the music change with Vandermark in the band?
There was more emphasis on writing primitive structures – the best I could do at the time – to create moods or direction for the improvisations. I always felt like the Vandermark / Chad Organ trio was totally butting heads a lot of the time in terms of direction, but we soldiered through primarily because there weren't a hell of a lot of other people to play with in our age group at the time. We added Jeb Bishop on bass guitar in 93 because I thought it would lend harmonic glue to the works. When Ken started to miss a few gigs here and there, we added Dylan Posa on guitar. I didn't feel the band could really function with only Chad in the frontline, and Dylan brought in a new solo voice as well as a lot of ideas about timbre and a good orchestral element. After Ken quit for good in spring 94, the four remaining members worked on trying to maximize the possibilities of the compositions we had. It seemed like it was coming to a natural close, so after our first East Coast tour, I decided I wanted to do the band on my own until I could find suitable people.
Your work as a soundman at Southend brought you into contact with a lot of visiting musicians, including Peter Brötzmann, Evan Parker, Marilyn Crispell and Barry Guy. What do you recall of those encounters?
I was seen
as the token teenage kid who was into free jazz. I suppose that somebody
like me coming along was more novel back then. Now everybody seems to
know everything. But I definitely knew my shit and free jazz wasn't really
too popular in Chicago at that point, so I was easily accepted. You have
to remember that the wide influence of the Vandermark / Corbett / Wire
cabal didn't really kick in until at least 96 or so, so back then all
you had were some dregs of AACM activity on the South Side, sparsely attended
concerts by NRG Ensemble, Michael Zerang's Liof Munimula and a few other
things. Southend, which was run by Leo Krumpholz, had the balls to book
the Europeans back when nobody gave a crap. It was a bit of necessary
martyrdom, taken completely for granted by the relatively thriving Chicago
scene these days. When I met Vandermark, he was doing solo saxophone concerts
in coffee shops for three people. We all were! There were a few other
places presenting new music, like Lower Links, the Velvet Lounge and slightly
later on, Hot House, but much less frequently than now.
I knew Brötzmann from records. I bought the first Last Exit album when it came out and I related to it very much musically. I grew up listening to a lot of the classic AACM related recordings from the 60s and 70s. Those were easy to get. As a teen I cut my teeth on the 60s black free jazz corpus as well as reading the NMDS catalog cover-to-cover. It was easy to pay a few bucks for Impulse!, Arista/Freedom or BYG vinyl. You couldn't give that stuff away in the mid 80s. But people like Parker, Crispell and the London Jazz Composers Orchestra were certainly new discoveries for me. Watching the LJCO break down into subsets and play for an entire evening under informal conditions was mindblowing. I remember Evan Parker just utterly annihilating the Southend Musicworks stage with a 20-minute circular breathing soprano saxophone solo. It was totally momentous. I have a ton of crystallized moments from my late teens. It was a time of incredible discovery. Not a lot of 19 year old kids got to do that.
You mentioned your discovery of death metal in 1993 was a major turning point. How so?
Until then I believed in a sort of "punk vs. metal" dichotomy, and I'd been on the punk side of the tracks. I used to believe that all metal boiled down to Spandex-wearing idiots singing about their crotches over numbingly stupid, lethargic power chords. Boy, was I wrong. Mr. Drumm played me the second Deicide album Legion and all of a sudden I was handed keys to a kingdom that I found incredibly appealing. Extreme death metal was so violent, staccato, atonal and alien I just couldn't resist. I dove in head first. That was what I spent most of the 90s listening to. The early 90s black metal bands resonated very well with me at the time as well: Darkthrone, Immortal, Mayhem, Marduk.. they're all long past their prime now but their key, early works are still highly influential on me. When I was younger I was more interested in being oppositional to most establishments, so I also related to the blasphemous / Satanic / anti-religious tone of most of the stuff. Back then, nobody in Chicago cared about this kind of music, so it was incredibly cheap for me to stockpile.
Can you point us towards any albums in particular?
I'd say the most influential ones on me would be Mayhem's De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Immortal's Battles In The North, Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger , and Gorguts' Obscura. And Legion.
Where does metal stand now, in your opinion, as a genre, or multiplicity of genres?
Metal is doing just fine. I've heard so much of it that it takes something really weird or extreme or different to set me on my ear. The bar is pretty high for quality. Being excellent really isn't enough to stand out. Lately I've really liked avant black metal band Deathspell Omega, brutal death metal bands like Brodequin, Pustulated and Foetopsy and pretty much anything with J. Read on drums. Good composition helps if I want to listen to it more than once. I don't really care about slow stoner metal at all. Speed is definitely the thing. I'm sort of offended that The Wire is pretending they care about metal now. They're typically late in the game and as clueless as babies. The sort of sheep that buy everything the magazine lists in its pages have created a new collector checklist of bands that I'm not very interested in. I like the real thing and The Wire seems to deal for the most part in the watered-down, safe, nth degree versions of metal. They wouldn't touch an authentic band like Brodequin with a stick. In the new issue Phil Freeman had the nerve to compare me (and say that I'm "not as good") as two metal drummers in a live review. Firstly, that's totally arguable and secondly, it's totally irrelevant. The Luttenbachers are not a "metal band", I'm not trying to "be a metal drummer" and the comparison is about as intelligent as saying "Sunny Murray is a good free jazz drummer, but he can't play funk like Bernard Purdie!" That's the kind of bullshit mentality I've always been up against. I don't fit in a box, try as critics might to put me in one.
How did your discovery of metal impact on your work with the Luttenbachers?
I wanted to do something more sonically brutal, pushing the No Wave element a lot further. I was also interested in creating a more over-the-top theatrical approach, so after a bunch of solo shows with guitar, saxophone and Walkman, I put the trio together that recorded Revenge and Gods of Chaos. After a while, that combination of people maxed out its possibilities, and I moved back towards improvised music. I had the quandary of trying to successfully integrate structure and improvisation and found it difficult to find musicians who did both equally well. I need musicians that are as in touch with discipline as they are with abandon. In 1998, after a short period of messing around with a rotating cast of musicians, I settled on a trio with Michael Colligan on reeds and Kurt Johnson on contrabass. We worked on codifying our approach in order to achieve a group sound; I believe that the best document of this would be the double LP Trauma – which I hope to reissue soon on CD with bonus tracks. Fred Lonberg-Holm joined the band in 2000 after jamming with us from time to time. By the end I felt a little frustrated with the group because free improvisation really wasn't expressing the entire range of what I had in mind for the Luttenbachers project, so we went our separate ways by the end of 2000 after a European tour.
Lonberg-Holm also appears on your Grob album with Jim O'Rourke, Tribute to Masayuki Takayanagi. How did that album come about?
The idea came from Jim [photo, right, with Lee Ranaldo, left] who blew me away by playing me "Mass Projection" from Inspiration and Power 14 Free Jazz Festival 1 in 1996. That single track was definitely the hardest shit Takayanagi ever did. I told Jim I wanted to play stuff like that but nobody else seemed to want to and he said he would do it. Through the years Kevin Drumm and I would get together from time to time to play extreme, noisy, fast extended improvisations for fun, but not many other Chicago people seemed remotely interested in that modus operandi. We did a concert, which I happened to record, and then nothing again until 2000 when Grob said they were interested in releasing the tape with extra stuff. Jim, Fred Lonberg-Holm and I did another session in my living room and we filled the CD out.
How come it got such a withering review from Alan Cummings in The Wire?
The art and liner notes started to take a very cynical, sardonic approach. I was extremely wary of "tributes". I still am: in my opinion most of them are the work of people trying somehow to align themselves with something greater than what they themselves are capable of. Putting "tribute" in the title was intended as a piss-take on this mentality. The music was indeed catalyzed by one single track of Takayanagi's music, but in no way did we seriously intend to simulate or pay homage to it. I thought that if I made the cover art as gratuitous and puerile as possible it would disconnect the "tribute" from the work itself. The CD artwork and title were total red herrings. Mission accomplished: Alan Cummings totally fell for them hook, line and sinker, surprise surprise. He was totally offended by it and I'm glad. When I read the review I was in Austria with a free jazz Luttenbachers line-up and I fell on the floor laughing my ass off. The fact that he was so blinded by disgust that he couldn't even see the slightest musical link between what Takayanagi did with his Mass Projection concept and what we did on the album was hilarious to me. I certainly didn't lose a minute of sleep over it.
In contrast there was very little press reaction to Eruption, which you recorded three years for the same label [with Kevin Drumm replacing Jim O'Rourke].
No. Once again,
the song titles were a very pointed comment aimed at sheep-like avant-garde
music fans and various lame musicians I've encountered in my career. Eruption
was a one-off: the band never performed live, except at the recording
session. I don't see it ever happening again because everybody has moved
on. But if you have any interest in extreme, fast, violent, endurance
improvisation, you should check out both albums. They stand up to the
best and I'm very proud of them.
What's happened to Grob?
They won't answer my emails. I want to BUY copies of these records to have them and these bums won't even write me back. Honestly, I thought they were friends, but it seems, in the grand tradition of many independent labels, that they're incompetent shysters, and they owe me a big apology because they've blown all trust out of the water. They won't give any information on sales, repressings, how to get more copies, nothing. I've been trying to get hold of them for years now and they refuse to talk to me. If you're reading this guys, you can still get yourselves off the hook, but I'm pretty pissed. Send copies and you will be forgiven. This is a big part of the reason I don't deal with outside labels anymore. What's the fucking point? It was never my intention to devote my life to music in order to create cash benefits (however small) for unscrupulous, amateur businessmen.
When did you move out of Chicago?
Late January 2003. My final day in the Windy City consisted of ten straight hours of carrying all of my possessions down three storeys by myself and loading them into a ludicrously oversized rental truck. When I drove away I was laughing my ass off, despite the extreme physical fatigue. I felt like sandbags had been lifted from my psyche. I never looked back. I left Chicago because Chicago was sucking me dry and had been for years. I don't like the weather, I don't like the people, I don't like the politics, I don't like the economy, I don't like the music scene. I had a really great time there between 1990 and 1997. Honest. Things weren't easy, but they sure were fun and a lot of formative work got done. From about 1997 on, the activity I was interested in dried up and was superseded by a lot of jive bullshit I found to be aesthetically heinous. I spent a lot of time being bitter and feeling like I was struggling against politics, apathy and other people's horrible music. In my 20s I defined myself very strongly in terms of what I didn't like. This was a very reactionary attitude. Now I'm only concerned with what I do like. That's a positive transformation. I've left a lot of baggage behind. I'm very happy here in Oakland and I'm doing better than ever. I believe that in the past four years I've grown immeasurably as an artist and human being as a result of my new surroundings. I'm not nearly as much of an asshole as I used to be.
Why did you choose to settle in the Bay Area?
During 2001 and 2002, much of the touring the "brutal prog" version of the Luttenbachers did was clearly a subconscious desire on my part to get away from Chicago and look for somewhere else to live. I kept coming out to the Bay Area and getting a warmer reception here than in any other place in the U.S. At the time there was a thriving noise rock scene, so there were a lot of great active bands and a lot of energy flying around. I found peers in bands like Total Shutdown, Burmese, Erase Errata, Deerhoof, The Lowdown, Curse of the Birthmark (who I later joined), Pink and Brown, Murder Murder, and others. I'm always attracted to pockets of creative energy and when I find them, I dive in headfirst, trying to contribute as much as I can. Things have died down a lot, as most "scenes" tend to peak and then recede, but at this point I'm better prepared to handle it. I came here to get my ass to work. The first thing I did when I arrived was play a big show as the one-man Luttenbachers headlining over Erase Errata (featuring myself as second drummer). I felt really welcome and it set a tone for the years to come. Immediately I set out to complete Systems Emerge From Complete Disorder, before joining the reincarnated XBXRX in March 2003.
How would you describe XBXRX's music?
It's hardcore by definition: fast, bracing, intense rock, but we don't do anything by the book. I'd describe it as cubist hardcore. The lyrics are oblique syntactically but very focused in intent. We deliver the goods. We explore harmony, dissonance and structure, but with minimalist blocks. I'm very proud of the album Sixth In Sixes and the new one coming out next spring Wars. When we play we go fucking ballistic. It's a really high energy assault and I love it. I feel like I'm in the goddamn MC5 up there, except nobody is on dope and our hair is a lot shorter.
How did you manage to keep the Luttenbachers going after you'd moved out of town?
After the European tour in 2000 I was questioning the value of improvisation in my life around that time and decided to concentrate more heavily on composition. The next group I put together had a very "prog" bent to it. The influence of Magma was particularly strong. We tried to take the aesthetic of the Revenge / noise-rock thing and tried to push the structure and complexity a lot further, with varying amounts of success. With hindsight I think we were biting off more than we could chew on a lot of levels, but that's life. During this time the band also tried to make a kind of push into a wider recognition and audience by touring our asses off – we did 150 shows. I left Chicago for Oakland in 2003 and did the solo record Systems Emerge, which I believe to be my compositional masterpiece so far. I put another trio together later that year which was able to make the bridge between mixtures of improvisation and composition more successfully, as reflected on The Void and Cataclysm albums. I'd like to do even more complex rock stuff as well as more free improvising with the band, but right now I'm a little exhausted because we haven't really garnered much recognition or attention, even in the underground experimental scene. You can only bash your head against the wall so hard before blood pours out. Dead guys don't make music. The rest of the winter will be spent playing heavy metal on tour with Lair Of The Minotaur. The Luttenbachers will begin our war on musical complacency anew next year.
Who did you hook up with in the Bay Area when you arrived?
and friends from the bands I named above. All of them offered me a new
beginning and I'm grateful to them. The encouragement was totally overwhelming.
They said: "Come, bring your energy here. Let's party!" There
was incredible potential in the Bay Area. I'm telling you man, Chicago
was fucking DRY for me at the end. It was really hard to get anybody to
do anything. It was so easy to leave. It was so easy to get shit going
here. Like a piece of cake. Upon arrival I moved into a cheap loft with
Jenny from Erase Errata, Stove and Vice from XBXRX and a nut named Jarrett
the Joke Man and set up shop. I met my soulmate shortly before I left
Chicago and once she came out to live with me six months later, things
were pretty much set in stone. I really like it here.
I finally began pursuing improvised music again in mid 2005 after contacting [bassist] Damon Smith about recommendations of who to play with. He was singularly instrumental in getting me back in the game. Since about 2001, I'd turned my back on the improvised music scene. There weren't many people I was interested in playing with. Thanks to my youthful rhetorical tirades, I'd managed to burn a lot of bridges in Chicago, so whether I wanted to or not, there wasn't much to do. Regardless, there was nothing happening I wanted to be a part of, so I turned to composition and focused on that. When I got a hold of Damon I told him I only wanted to work with strong musicians and I quickly found that there are plenty here. I find the musicians in the Bay Area to be a lot more copacetic than in Chicago. There's much less hype here.
Who are you playing / hanging with these days?
lead a quartet and a sextet focused on high energy free music. The quartet
is based on a rhythm section with myself on drums, Damon Smith and Randy
Hunt on basses and a revolving door of saxophonists which have included
Josh Allen, Aram Shelton and John Gruntfest. It was Damon who recommended
Josh Allen. Josh had toured about 10 years ago with the Cecil Taylor Unit
in Europe with a pretty heavy line-up featuring Sirone, Marco Eneidi,
guys like that. Marco was teaching him at the time and put him in the
mix. Josh recommended bass player Randy Hunt, a very talented musician
who'd played on a recent Joel Futterman record. That was the basic formation
until June 2006 when Josh was replaced by John Gruntfest. I only knew
of John from Henry Kaiser's first album, but Damon had played with him
at a thing with Eddie Gale and was impressed by how strong he was. John
is fucking great and it's a really pleasure to have him in the group.
He has a powerful, big alto sound, laser beam intonation and really takes
charge of setting the harmonic and melodic course of the music in a way
that I've been waiting to happen for a long time. We've had a lot of people
sub and sit in, but the quartet is built around the core of two basses,
drums and saxophone. The music is very high velocity in nature. The new
quartet record Revolt Music is out on December 13th.
The sextet is the full-bore version with Willie Winant also on drums [photo above, with Damon Smith and WW (right)], Henry Kaiser on guitar and Jon Raskin in the saxophone chair. I hope to do something with them next year. There's also a session of interpretations of late Ayler songs with Henry Kaiser, Mike Kenneally, Vinny Golia, Joe Morris, Damon and Aurora Josephson that should see the light of day next year. Aurora, who's a talented vocalist, also leads another ensemble I play in with Damon, Aram Shelton and Liz Albee. It's a very strange ensemble of characters; I suppose it's more Company-like than what people would normally expect from me. We'll be releasing a CD later this year.
Somehow I can't imagine you playing quietly..
been interested in different approaches, but in the past, I never got
to work with people that were interesting enough musically to warrant
my playing quiet! Back then, when people bored me, I tended to steamroll
right over them. There were a lot of "quiet snobs" in Chicago,
but being quiet is one thing and being fucking boring is another. I suppose
when I was younger I was less sensitive volume-wise, but I'm a lot better
now. I did a gig a few months ago with Kaiser and Bruce Anderson (from
MX80) on acoustic guitars and Kyle Bruckmann on oboe [photo below] which
was smashingly good and extremely low in volume. I can play with anybody
at this point and make it work on a drumset, and I'm proud of that. Damon
has included me on great gigs with guys like Joe Morris and Frank Gratkowski
and I'm indebted to him for this. I like sparring with Winant a lot too.
We get along very well. It might be nice to do a drum duo record. I'm
also going to start playing guitar in public again at an upcoming gig
with Damon, Willie and Mark E. Miller on drums. There are a lot of possibilities
and I'm glad to be back in the swing of things. You'll be hearing a lot
of free music from me in the future. I also intend to release CDs of archival
stuff, one coming early next year consisting of my teenage 4-track cassette
recordings and another featuring a big band project I did in 95 with Drumm,
Vandermark, Jeb Bishop, Jim Baker, Gene Coleman and others.
I'm not 20 years old anymore. I have learned to define myself in terms of what I want, not what I don't want. I'm pretty sick of the way a lot of institutions work, but when was it any different? It's never been too easy to do experimental music unless if you win the popularity lottery. That's just the way it is. Life isn't fair and success certainly ain't based on merit. I'm into refining and defining an aesthetic of my own. I'm into speed, velocity and violence in music. My music is underlined by my own frustration and it reflects my personality, I suppose. But I'm into articulation and intelligence as much as I am into primitive outpourings of chaos.
Go to: nowave.pair.com/weasel_walter/
Revolt Music is out on ugEXPLODE on December 13th. Thanks to
WW for assistance with photos. Headshot on homepage courtesy of Jim
Newberry (www.newberryphotography.com) Photo of Weasel and Kyle Bruckman
by Aurora Josephson. Other interviews with funky drummers at
PT: Harris Eisenstadt , Jason
Kahn and Sunny Murray