Tonight in Seattle:  

Interviews

'Tis the season for celebrated mythology: The Secret History of Rock 'N' Roll

Christopher Knowles is the author of the recently published book The Secret History of Rock 'N' Roll, which ties the rock-era music scene back to mystery cults formed "since the Stone Age." Christmastime is a festive season when we party hard, glory vicariously in exciting fables, and when some of us even shove our mystified beliefs in others' faces in the broader culture. So chatting with the award-winning writer of this elucidating tome on tropes behind our rock idols seemed like a great way to chop up myth, music, and magic just at the right moment in 2010.

Knowles has been a writer and editor for some time, and his Our Gods Wear Spandex: The Secret History of Comic Book Heroes is also an excellent analysis of how ancient archetypes become cheap everyday thrills. But it was his tenaciously intense engagement with a certain UK punk-into-pop band in Clash City Showdown: The Music, Meaning, and Legacy of The Clash that got me into his work. I admire his passion and fierce intelligence at dissecting culture we enjoy and use to transcend our lives habitually. Below is our chat with Mr. Knowles about all these things.

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Imaginary interview: Matt Bishop and Loryn Kezer

[Keys to Africa]

This Sunday night at the Sunset, our favorite septet's frontman Matt Bishop will be headlining a benefit show with Carrie Biell -- and you have simply got to be there. It'll be the best ten dollars you'll spend, like, ever. Because the proceeds from the night will be going to send local humanitarianismist (and the show's opener) Loryn Kezer to Africa, where she's heading to do volunteer work in rural areas of Tanzania. Locals doing good + sweet indie-pop playing a role in helping to heal world? We were so impressed by the whole effort that we just had to know more -- so we sat the two of them down last week to talk about it.

Imaginary Victoria: So, who hatched this plan? Tell me how everything came about.

Loryn Kezer: I hatched it, with great encouragement from friends. Apparently, when one is planning a self-funded humanitarian mission, it's ridiculous not to do some fundraising. But I'm terrible at out-and-out asking for help -- so I figured I'd try to provide a little entertainment in exchange for people's dollars. Carrie and Matt are both incredible musicians and really good friends of mine who generously agreed to play the show pro bono.

IV: And when's the trip?  How much are you trying to raise?

LK: The end of March -- less than five months away! I've been pinching pennies for a year, so I'm prepared to pay my way and cover my ass while I'm in Africa. But beyond that, I'd like to be able to purchase what medical and educational supplies are needed at the places I'll be working. Bascially, I'm hoping to raise any amount of money I can. An extra fifty, hundred, five hundred bucks can (and will) go a long way.

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Imaginary Interview: Chris Morris, Director of Four Lions

{Four Lions opens in Seattle on Friday, November 5th at The Varsity}

This past week I had the fortune to have an opportunity to sit down with Chris Morris, the director and co-writer of Four Lions, which makes effective comedy out of one of the most unlikely of topics - a homegrown British terrorist cell.

After some warming up discussing the media’s irrational glee in over-hyping minor meteorological events from rain in San Francisco to the thought of snow in Seattle, we jumped into discussing the film. Ranging from Spinal Tap references and how to live your dream of being a penguin through virtual reality, to spousal support of would-be terrorists and back again to the art of swallowing unusual objects - a fair amount of ground was covered that afternoon....

I loved the film.  I just had a hoot - in fact I think I annoyed some of the other press people by laughing a bit too hard.

CM: At least you weren’t laughing during United 93, like I was.

*laughing* I haven’t seen it. Though I guess I have to watch it now - now that you say that!

CM: Yeah, uh, it’s worth watching.

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Teen Feed: an imaginary interview with Megan Gibbard

[Ben Gibbard / by Victoria VanBruinisse]

Odds are, if you're here at Three Imaginary Girls poking around, you've heard of Ben Gibbard. And if you're in the greater Seattle area, you've definitely heard about the sold-out show coming up this Wednesday at the Crocodile. (And if you're like us, you might be acting half your age and figuring out just how early you have to get to the venue to secure a spot up front.) But what you may not be as familiar with is the beneficiary of the night, Teen Feed -- so, we thought we'd sit right down with their Executive Director and find out all about it for you.

Imaginary Victoria: So, let's have a little background on the who-what-and-where...

Megan Gibbard: Of course.  Teen Feed is a 7-night-a-week meal program for homeless youth ages 13 – 25.  Every single night, from 7-8pm, we serve up to 70 youth a healthy and safe meal – it very well may be the first time that day they’ve been safe.  Teen Feed is more than just this meal, however. Present at every Teen Feed meal are our Case Managers (we call them Support Coordinators) to build relationships with youth, share a meal, and help with resources and encouragement.  Our Street Talk Outreach Program (STOP) meets youth directly on the streets, in their environment, before they're even ready to ask for help.

Teen Feed works with the community to offer basic needs, build strong relationships, and ally with homeless youth as they met their future off the streets. We achieve our mission through three main initiatives: meals, outreach, and case management. It is difficult to go to school when you’re hungry. It is difficult to succeed at work when you aren’t sure where your next meal will come from. So, the food always comes first at Teen Feed – then, we get down to the business of working alongside youth as they find that path from the streets.

I recently spoke with a woman who was homeless on the Ave in the early 1990’s at the age of 13.  She said that she had a moment, a watershed, when she realized that she needed to get off the streets and start pursuing college.  Teen Feed was right there to help her when she needed it.  Teen Feed is important because all people need to be fed – and every youth on the streets needs safe adults right there with they’re ready to ask for help.

This same woman spoke in front of 150 Teen Feed volunteers recently and said:

“I look at my husband, and he’s a lot like his parents.  I look at my children, and they’re a lot like him and I. I look at myself, and I’m a lot like all of you.”

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Latest comment by: imaginary liz: "I'm all teary now! It's beautiful to know that there's a Teen Feed for youth in Seattle, and wonderful to know that team music community is stepping up to help. Sign me up!"

Portrait of an Artist: Scott McCaughey of the Young Fresh Fellows, the Minus 5, R.E.M., the Baseball Project, and more

{Art by D. Crane, The Young Fresh Fellows play July 23rd at the Tractor}

I was too young/too uncool to listen to the Young Fresh Fellows, but I got way into the Minus Five after seeing them play with the Posies at the Mural Amphitheater, when I was in high school. “The Lonesome Death of Buck McCoy” was my first Minus Five CD purchase, from Tower Records by the Space Needle. Since then I have been a constant fan. Their style of mixing playful lyrics with real emotion behind them, has influenced me to write songs. To that I say….thank you Mr. McCaughey. I moved to Chicago in 2002, to teach middle school on the south side of the city as part of Teach for America. It was a rough go, but “Down With Wilco” was one of the few things (pizza, Wrigley Field, and Thai food….oh did I mention burritos?) got me through. I am on my third copy of that album, now on reissue LP.

D. Crane: Down With Wilco is a special record for me. I remember where I was when I heard “The Days of Wine and Booze” for the first time. I still buy it/recommend it to my friends. It is up there with the White album on my favorite albums of all time list. Do you have any special albums like that? Albums that you give to friends? Albums that you think are severely underrated/are as good as Beatles albums?

Scott McCaughey: Yes, I have albums like that. Whenever I'm asked, I go blank though. I try to turn people on to the Bill Fay CD of his first two albums, which coincidentally, Jeff Tweedy turned me onto the night before we went into the studio to start Down With Wilco. I also pass on copies of the first two McGuinness Flint albums -- I stockpile them (at next to nothing, as no one wants them) and then pass them on to those I think might be susceptible to their charms. (John Wesley Harding took the bait and fell hard.) Nazz Nazz by the Nazz; Armchair Boogie by Michael Hurley; Wish You Were Here by Badfinger. Everyone knows Straight Up but WYWH is also a masterpiece! In The Air by the Handsome Family.  It's tricky because you have to find stuff that people haven't heard.  And in the end, no matter how great, nothing's as good as the Beatles.  But all three Big Star albums come close.

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Latest comment by: Bookie LeBeat: "What?! No drummer in the "new band"? Methinks Tad deserves the nod not least for his contributions to the Fellows. Give the drummer some!"

Imaginary Interview: Steel Tigers Of Death {CHBP at Neumos on Sunday, July 25... Wa-Cha!}

Steel Tigers of Death

Seattle's own Steel Tigers Of Death punk-metal antics are endearing and inclusive where other band's attempts to merge visual comedy with musical chaos can be sloppy and shrill. They're set to open the set at Neumos on Sunday, July 25, hitting the stage (and probably splashing everywhere) around 2:15 PM.

I sent some questions to one of the guys, who gave them to two other of the guys (El Tigre and Bradley Of, for the record). That's how they roll, as some other guy once said about, um, guys and rolling. All together. Like that.

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Latest comment by: Terry of Denver: ""As far a preparation, there are four different approaches in the band. Yoga, Smoking, Drinking, Masturbating. I'll leave you to connect them to the appropriate band member." - that is way, way too easy. Shake -n- bake boyz. C'mon back to Denver."

Imaginary Interview: Johnette Napolitano from Concrete Blonde

I’ve already declared my adoration for Concrete Blonde, and recommended you come see the show with me tonight (Thursday, June 24) at The Showbox – and now I get to present something super-awesome: I asked Johnette Napolitano a few questions via email about Bloodletting and this 20-years-later tour, and she responded with some great answers:

What was the inspiration to move from your previous punk rock vibe to a more gothic feel for Bloodletting?
Being other places in the world, and I'd never been anywhere but California, and Tennessee was the first place I lived other than LA, really. That was our third record and we'd toured a lot by then and I'd spent a lot of time - and I still do - in New Orleans and the South, and I love it down there and it's moody, for sure. Fucks with my hair something awful, but well worth it.

Do you think it’s awesome or hilarious that "Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)" became a Goth club standard in the 90s?
Awesome, hilarious, horrible, scary, weird, surreal, beautiful, a pain in the ass and very, very lucrative.

What was the catalyst for re-releasing this album and how does it feel to be touring with it again?
20 years seems to have gone by. A perfect storm, really. I lost my Dad and am still very much dealing with that, and he would have said, do it! He was very proud of the band. Never quite came out and told me so, but he didn't have to. I played for him the last time I saw him, he'd bought a guitar for himself. Only he and I would know what that gesture meant…I see a future for myself that I like, and I'm very lucky, we're very lucky, to still have an audience that would actually show up. That never ceases to amaze me. We'll have a great time and I'll come off and write and paint and work on opening a Flamenco place in New Orleans and we'll just play where we want to play, when we want. It's a good place to be.

Any chance we’ll see a new Concrete Blonde album emerge from this reunion (a girl can hope!)?
I'm hoping that we're not killing each other by week two. We won't though, everybody seems to be working in the same direction and after the last year basically a month of playing and sleeping on a bus while somebody else gets me there sounds good. I'm looking forward to it; I know we all are. I'll let the music take over and see where it goes.

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Imaginary Interview: Bass Ackwards

Linas Phillips & Davie-Blue in Bass Ackwards

Photo Credit: Victoria Holt

Another favorite of mine at SIFF this year was the charming road trip movie Bass Ackwards. I grabbed some time with Director Linas Phillips and his co-star, co-writer and friend Davie-Blue to talk about the experience of making this film.

While Linas is a self-described brat and I was never sure what was true and what was said in fun, the interview was fantastic and I can’t wait to see what these two do next.

I thought Bass Ackwards was great, and the thing that really made it great (in my opinion) is that Linas’s character was so loveable that you want him to be okay. You’re really rooting for him to make it.

Linas: He doesn’t seem annoying? Because he’s not getting his shit together?

No. I feel like everybody’s been lost like that at some point…

L: Everyone’s been annoying? Annoying doesn’t exclude empathy, maybe.

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Deep SIFF: Beautiful Darling: The Life and Times of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar

{Beautiful Darling screens at the Seattle International Film Festival at 6:15 at SIFF Cinema.}

"People who I interviewed said she was the most genuine person they had ever met" director James Rasin told me in an interview about Candy Darling, the transgendered actress who died in 1974 and is the subject of his engrossing documentary Beautiful Darling: The Life and Times of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar. He added he "I thought was weird because she's a person who is a complete construct, everything is intentionally, layer upon layer, an artifice but becomes someone so completely genuine."

That is one of the central themes and ironies that runs through Rasin's fascinating film, which played at the Seattle International Film Festival this year. Candy Darling was one of the Warhol superstars featured in the Lou Reed song "Walk on the Wild Side" (Reed's band, The Velvet Underground, also had a song about her called "Candy Says") where Reed sings in the second verse "Candy came from out on the Island, in the backroom she was everybody's darling; she never lost a head, even when she was giving head". While not exactly the most positive description one could hope for, Rasin's documentary is far more kind and thorough.

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Deep SIFF: Meet Monica Velour

"Basically, I told her I want to blow Samantha Jones into tiny little pieces" Keith Bearden, the writer and director of the often very funny new film Meet Monica Velour told me in an interview. By "her", he was, of course, referring to Kim Catrall, who plays Samantha Jones in the now much-maligned "Sex and the City" franchise and who plays the title character in his debut film that recently played at the Seattle International Film Festival.
 
Monica Velour is a has-been porn star, who may have been remembered for Saturday Night Beaver or Hooked on Hookers, although chances are, she's not remembered at all. She's living in a trailer park in Indiana somewhere and her life is a mess. Sadly, there are few skills that porn stars can take that will help them re-enter the job field and Monica wants to escape the live she has while regaining her former fame. It's like Sunset Boulevard, if, instead of Norma Desmond saying "I'm still big, it's the pictures that got small," she starred in a gangbang.

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Latest comment by: Anonymous: "Writer/Director's new project is up on Kickstarter. Low budget sci-fi! Check it out! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1313089408/god-hates-kansas-a-feature-film-by-keith-bearden?ref=live"