clawing, pounding. Thick, black rimmed spectacles, fine pompadour, and
sharp suit. What you see on-stage: Buddy Holly’s bigger, tougher, crazier
doppelganger. The fearsome visage, the demented baritone that pummels your
ears with frightening tales of solid ghosts, black bubbles, and sexy rivers...
take away all that, for just a moment. Off-stage, Mr. Magas is even-tempered,
well mannered, and a nice guy all around. Like Clark Kent, sorta. Nothing
like the formidable image he presents when rocking out.
BUT: when rock boredom rears its ugly, yawning head to exhale its foul, sleep-inducing breath upon the face of the earth, you can be assured that Marlon Magas, like Superman, or maybe more like Bizzaro Superman;
will BE there.
RJ: Well.. I was going to ask how your 4th of July was, but it’s already well past the 4th.. oh well. It’s still relevant! Kinda. Well, no. Weren’t you practicing with Lake of Dracula on the 4th last year, or maybe that was in ‘97.. having your facts straight ain’t cool. Anyway, how was your 4th of July?
MM: In order to escape the oppressive heat
and humidity, I found refuge in a urine scented, air-conditioned, two-dollar
movie theater, and saw a dumb movie called ENTRAPMENT--a heist movie starring
Sean Connery. It was kind of a ripoff of a GREAT heist movie called GRAND
RJ: Tell us ALL about this new PLAST-XCORPION..
spare no details, great or small.
MM: PLAST-XCORPION started out as a band called
PLASTIC SCORPION. I wanted to replicate
RJ: What is “E Tanta Paura”? Because you said,
a while back, that Plast-X contributed a cover of
MM: E TANTA PAURA is an Italian giallo; the
title translates to "TOO MUCH FEAR."
RJ: Tell us about your new solo stuff.
MM: Since the idea of Plastic Scorpion was
to replicate dance music, why not go whole hog and use the medium to its
fullest potential. I picked up a Roland Groovebox and I've been fucking
I'm hoping to have a techno label in full
swing, soon. I want the ability to send it off to the pressing plant
without having it sit around--that's one of the reasons that techno labels
are so cool--you don't have to come up with a whole LPs worth of material,
and wait for the artwork to come back from the printer, etc, etc...you
just send it out and that's it.
RJ: What’s this about a new COUCH album?? What
about some shows, will Couch ever
MM: Mr. Velocity Hopkins and I both really
want to do a COUCH album. Unfortunately, the geographical distance makes
it difficult. COUCH is pretty open-ended, in a lot of ways, so you never
can tell what'll happen. We played a show in the summer of '98, in Ypsilanti,
Michigan. (sans SUITS) My roots are with Michigan, Bulb and Couch. Everything
I do, musically, is an extension of that consciousness, no matter how far
I may deviate from the template, geographically or otherwise.
RJ: Any plans to reunite the “Many Moods Of Marlon
MM: They were a great bunch of players, but
that was then, and this is now.
RJ: Is Chicago still a cesspool for germy emos,
snooze “rockers” and pompous twits in general? Because if I remember right,
there were certain factions trying to call what you were doing in Lake
of Dracula “neo” no wave, or something.. Not to mention the forgettable
“black wave,” and ever-popular (still-thriving) post rock.. I don’t get
that. How can anything be “post” rock, that’s awfully presumptuous, don’t
you think? I mean, there’s still Rock, with a big “R,” and it’s out there.
MM: Yeah, Chicago is full of colorless and humorless sheep, who seem to equate a lack of passion with some sort of elevated social status.
"Whew! Almost got caught getting excited there for a minute!"
On the other end of the spectrum, donning
a Hawaiian shirt and ill-fitting wig does not equal liberation for me.
Regarding no wave or now wave: subgenres are created for the press, in
order to sell records. In regard to being called No Wave or Now Wave, I've
gone with the flow in order to do just that. That's fine. I'm not going
to gripe about expressing my individuality as an artist. They're only names
that other people give it, and it really doesn't matter much to me. Inside,
I may rebel against being slotted, but I think that you have to have a
little respect for the people who are buying and selling your records.
If you don't like being called cowpunk, make a record that doesn't sound
RJ: Does (did?) now wave, or whatever’s left of
it, serve as a sort of disinfectant for all this arty
MM: I suppose for some people it does, and
that's fine. Speaking for myself, I feel closely aligned with things from
all over. Rock music seemed to crash and burn forever, the night Harry
Pussy exploded on stage. Y'know, I think there's a closed-mindedness, even
in the so-called Now Wave scene. When High Rise played, and they were certainly
one of the more electrifying bands to come through in a while, I didn't
see any Now Wavers up front, rocking. Only me and Sam from Blast Off video.
Or when a great movie plays in town? Where are the cool guys then? I don't
think liberation comes soley from playing totally unlistenable music. It
certainly CAN, but it needn't be limited to that.
RJ: Has The Reader pretty much ousted you guys
from its cool club? I don’t read it, myself, but from what I gather from
various sources, the editors have all but blacklisted the Chicago No Wave.
I guess it doesn’t really matter, but still.. care to speculate?
MM: If the Reader doesn't do a good job of
promoting things, start the No Wave Farmer's Almanac. It certainly is an
ego-booster to see your name in print, and it makes your Aunt Millie proud,
but really, who the fuck cares? A lot of things are learned about through
word-of-mouth anyway. If you need more than that, there ARE ways. Weasel
has a no wave website with a bulletin board. Post shit on it. Get the URL.
I like to find things through exploring.
MM: Easy listening as kitsch is annoying to
me, but there are some pretty cool things that fall under the guise of
"Easy". A lot of the Italian film soundtracks get packaged as "Easy". The
Easy Tempo series is generally pretty good. There's a great store in town
called Dusty Groove, that sells lots of great "Easy" and they have a website:
RJ: Now wave or just whatever you guys have been
doing for the last decade or so, I don’t even know if it’s right to call
it “now” or anything at all... anyway, it’s GOOD. The aesthetic,
and the music, to be sure. And, better still, hipster revivalists won’t
touch this shit with a 10 foot pole! Or will they??
MM: Who knows? I'm beginning to think that
every artist who ever recorded anything will eventually have their own
RJ: Do you foresee any big resurgence of good
music coming from any particular areas?
MM: Wolf Eyes, from Michigan, are my favorite
thing out of the midwest. I think there's probably some other great things
hiding in the midwest; I just don't know what they are yet. Electronic
music, is pretty interesting to me right now. There are so many people
doing it, there must be some good ones, just plinking away in their bedrooms.
RJ: What techno have you been listening to?
MM: There's so much good electronic music
out there. My favorite stuff lately, has been Mike Ink (Wolfgang Voigt)
and his various aliases and labels (Profan, Kreisel, Freiland, Studio 1,
etc.). Thomas Brinkmann is extremely great. His Studio 1 variations changed
the way I think about music, much in the way that "Trout Mask Replica"
did, all those years ago. There's a TON of good stuff in the field, and
a ton of crap, too. Forced
Exposure carries a lot of this stuff.
RJ: How about rap?
MM: I like rap, too. I guess my favorite rap
comes out of the "mid-school", the late 80's, early 90's. I like Kool G.
Rap, Black Moon, Erik B. & Rakim, and tons of other stuff. There's
some good new stuff, too--it's just more few and far between. The new Prince
Paul album is good. Great music, or "raw music", as John Fahey puts it,
can come from many, many "genres". George Jones, Ferlin Husky and Judas
Priest's "Rocka Rolla" all generate a good amount of heat.
RJ: Do you see any genres right now that are ripe
for the corporate picking? Basically, the next big thing to get exploited
and eventually forgotten about. As opposed to the next LITTLE thing, which
will be sadly underrated/underdeveloped, and eventually forgotten about
as well. I’m thinking emo is going to really take off one of these
MM: I think emo is already kind of big, isn't
it? At least as a kid thing? I don't really know, but I see tons of emo
kids. I'm not always the best gague for what's popular. I'll see a Matchbox
20 poster and figure that it's just some band that nobody's ever heard
of--it's just the record company trying the saturation technique, but then
I find out they're fucking HUGE and everybody knows who they are except
me. So I never really know, because I don't watch MTV or listen to the
radio. I just pass the newsstand and see the covers of Rolling Stone, Spin,
Vibe, etc. Once in a while, I'll actually open it to look at pictures of
RJ: When in Chicago, where does a person go to
find the quality trash?
MM: Blast Off Video is a great place to go
for all kinds of crazy shit. Hard Boiled specializes in Hong Kong stuff,
but they have other cool stuff, too. House Of Monsters has a lot of great
Euro fanzines, videos, and other stuff. There's a Japanese video store
in Arlington Heights. Devon Avenue is the Indian section of town--in addition
to having excellent restaurants, there's a video store on every block;
my favorite is Atlantic video. I also mail order stuff from European Trash
Cinema and Trash Palace. Both have websites. It's my dream to one day own
a store and stock all my favorite music, movies, books and magazines, and
host occasional live gigs. Y'know, have a pot of coffee for preferred customers--kind
of a Mayberry Barbershop for modern lovers.
RJ: On the subject of exploitation type stuff..
Il Gatto Nove Code (“Cat O’Nine Tails,”) I mistakenly purchased it thinking
it was the soundtrack to “Cat In The Brain”, by Lucio Fulci.. it had similar
covers, and I was in a hurry when I got it so it was an impulse purchase,
I guess. It’s still good, though. It’s all Ennio Morricone composed.. which
reminds me; which of his works would you recommend, maybe as a primer for
those who are just now picking up on this stuff?
MM: Holy shit, there's so much of it. Morricone
is the maestro. It's hard to pick favorites.
RJ: Are you still showing movies?
MM: I ran a series of "contemporary" Japanese
genre films at Odum, but the setup and cost proved unwieldy. I also showed
other films in the basement of the Mystery Spot, but again, the setup was
kind of a headache. I'd like to find a place to show giallo and crime films,
but it would have to be a place that has a decent video projector, and
I can just plug the tape in and press play.
RJ: If you’ll oblige me in a bit of compare and
contrast, since I've seemingly run out of relevent quetions...
MM: I haven't heard TALKER, yet, but I'm looking
forward to it. Y'know, when Bridgette and I were on our honeymoon, we kept
hearing "Livin' La Vida Loca", and it IS kind of catchy and energetic.
I like the flash and the cleanliness of it. It's not like I'm gonna go
buy it or anything, but if you have to hear music blaring out of cars,
TVs, restaurants and so forth, you could do worse than Ricky Martin. The
guy just seems to take bigger and bigger gulps of air--he gives off the
illusion that he's radiating life and gusto, and I like that. I saw him
on Oprah, and the guy really knows how to work the crowd. He knows exactly
how to look at the camera, and totally milk EVERY millisecond of air time.
Now, compare Ricky Martin's energy, charisma, enthusiasm, positivity and
physical fitness to sitting on a broken milk crate in a mildewy basement
with a bunch of unwashed chainsmokers sporting infected eyebrow rings,
while some drips with asymmetrical haircuts attempt to "punish" you with
some wimpy feedback and underdeveloped songs. Which sounds more appealing
to you? Plus, if you go to a Ricky Martin concert, won't you be surrounded
by thousands of attractive teenage girls?
- all contents copyright 1999, Richard Jaspering and Pie Records.