NOSTALGIA DEPARTMENT: REMEMBER "POLITICAL CORRECTNESS"? INTERVIEW WITH ÁLEX DE LA IGLESIA, DIRECTOR OF ACCION MUTANTE AKA MUTANT ACTION (1993)! SUICIDE PART TWO: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ALAN VEGA; "TOO STOOPID TO BE STOOPID!" SUICIDE PART ONE!
All contents © 2000-2002, Rick Trembles
UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION STRICTLY FORBIDDEN
September 26, 2002
NOSTALGIA DEPARTMENT: REMEMBER "POLITICAL CORRECTNESS"? (pictured right: Louise Burns has no patience for "shortsightedness & conservatism")
Oppressively bourgeois, stultifying, infuriating "political correctness" in the media is far from a thing of the past (just watch Oprah for the current cartoon version). But 15 years ago I felt firsthand from a local weekly I was drawing cartoons for how so-called "alternative" media could similarly succumb, when my comix were suddenly targeted as "sexist, mysoginistic, reactionary & anti-women." However, staff (& sensibilities) eventually flip-flopped over the years & the very same paper that demonized me way back when, resurrected my strip in '98, providing me with a healthy run ever since. Motion Picture Purgatory actually originated in the mid-eighties at The Montreal Mirror back when agenda-driven dweebs were running the show. I got kicked out after a few years working for them for free when I was deemed too offensive for their supposed target readers' sensibilities. Present-day sales manager at Radio CKUT, Louise Burns (pictured above), came to my defense trying to make public the shenanigans they were hoping to keep secret 'til the problem went away (me). The following letter to trade paper Cinema Canada illustrates her plea. At the time, she was singing for The American Devices & producer at East of the Acropolis Films:
Dear Cinema Canada editors...
A novel form of film criticism appeared on a regular basis in The Montreal Mirror entitled, "MOTION PICTURE PURGATORY." In this piece, author Rick Trembles would illustrate his response to a film (usually of the horror or B-genre) in comic-strip form. The format was original, the content humorous, & the intensity of style appropriately complimented the type of film he was responding to. The strip was of interest regardless of whether or not you had seen the film. It was one of the few articles in the paper which had personality & an innovative approach differing from conventional forms of journalism. The Montreal Mirror considers itself to be an alternative entertainment-focused paper. "MOTION PICTURE PURGATORY" was potentially a column which could have been syndicated to other papers across the country (& into the States), enhancing The Mirror's profile and promoting a local talent. The strip had a regular following despite the fact that The Mirror chose to bury it in the classified section & reduced its size so that it was a test of determination, dedication & bifocal capacity to read. Interest was also expanding due to an audio version which could be heard regularly on the newly licensed CKUT Radio McGill. In spite of this, The Mirror has decided to cease publication of the strip. Although most readers are unaware of the controversy surrounding Rick's strip (some people believe the size of it is an intentional gimmick & baffle over how he can cram so much detail into such a small space), it seems the editors of The Mirror have been divided in their opinion. The only reason The Mirror has given for its decision is that the strip is too underground for its publication. This from a paper which had a picture of William Burroughs on the cover. Clearly it is a case of the insecurity of a few who will support material "underground" in nature only after it has achieved substantial fame & notoriety elsewhere (preferably the U.S.). Why is it that Canadians refuse to promote their own? The most upsetting aspect of their decision is that it reeks of censorship. The Mirror never gave Rick any specific reasons as to why there was any controversy over publishing his column. They refused to set guidelines, such as allowing no obscene language or vulgar drawings of the human anatomy. Perhaps they are aware of the ambiguous & arbitrary nature of such decisions. They themselves published an article on censorship which spoke of the same. However, simply snuffing out "Motion Picture Purgatory" is in fact a form of censorship. I wrote a letter of complaint to The Mirror which also went unpublished. The best artistic works often are morally ambiguous, pushing sensibilities into an emotional response to react & question. "Motion Picture Purgatory" was satirically vulgar. It filled a gap in Canadian cinema criticism by dealing with films (horror, cult, B-films, independent films. . . ) which are given little attention to in conventional papers & it came from someone who, although often critical of the end result, was genuinely enthusiastic about the use of special effects & less pretentious approaches to film subjects. This obsession that editors, producers, and/or bureaucrats have with addressing what they believe to be good business sense or a commercial awareness is hopelessly fearful of artistry & works against nurturing Canadian talent. "Motion Picture Purgatory" was labored by Rick Trembles without pay for a publication that is also available for free. It was unique & charged with personality & talent & thanks to The Mirror's shortsightedness & conservatism, we will probably never see it again. Canadians are not the curators of their culture they are the exterminators!
Louise Burns, February 29, 1988
September 19, 2002
INTERVIEW WITH ÁLEX DE LA IGLESIA, DIRECTOR OF ACCION MUTANTE AKA MUTANT ACTION (1993)!
Back in '93, I was originally planning to make a print fanzine called SNUB covering comix, bands, & film. We managed to corner Spanish director Álex de la Iglesia to talk about his new cult sci-fi black comedy at the Montreal premiere. The interview never saw "print" until now.
SNUB: Could you talk about the big statement you made yesterday about "ugliness"? (during the introduction to his premiere)...
ÁLEX: Oh, yes... (laughter), thank you...
SNUB: This whole prescribed beauty that we've been sold...
ÁLEX: Yes, I think that's the basic script of the movie. That's why I made the movie... because I hate handsome, elegant people. Designer people, the fashion industry... It's an oppressive way of life. People think, oh, I'm so fat and my head looks awful, meanwhile all the beautiful people are like Egyptians for the streets. It's fucking shit, I hate this. I think beauty is... authenticity. I agree that I'M ugly, so I'm great with these kinds of things. It's important to be realistic and funny. I think everybody and everything in life is absolute, there's no logic in the events of your life.
SNUB: From cosmetics to philosophy...
ÁLEX: In my movie, it's the logic of the absolute. I think the only way to shoot life is to laugh. I think this is the basis of the movie... Try to conform my words into a logical discourse! (laughter).
SNUB: Absolutely... Could you talk about some of your influences? ACCION MUTANTE has a very CLOCKWORK ORANGE opening... An homage, maybe?
ÁLEX: I don't think it's a reference to CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Everybody loves CLOCKWORK ORANGE. The characters seem that way, they try to imitate the way of CLOCKWORK ORANGE. It's not an influence, it's reference to understand the movie better... like ALIEN, and the spaceship "Nostromo", etc... I think it's good for understanding the characters. It's like movies INSIDE my movies. It starts off like a gangster picture. I love Italian neorealist movies... You know De Sica, MIRACLE IN MILAN, Rossellini, Monicelli, Marco Ferreri. In Spain a very big director in the 40's and 50's was Berlanga. They worked in a very absolute and funny comedic way with old men. All the characters were old men, trying to rob banks and stuff like that. Very funny... poor people trying to make big things, that's the basis of neorealism. Very black comedies. My movie's not a sci-fi movie or a fantastique movie, it's a black comedy. Everything else is just an excuse to make mad costumes or mad make-ups or mad sets.
SNUB: What attracts you to anti-heroes?
ÁLEX: I hate normal people heroes. It's impossible to be a hero. To save people you must kill other people. Bad people in movies have children too. I met John Woo in Helsinki a week ago, (He loves ACCION MUTANTE) and I told him I thought it was funny how his hero must kill 200 Honk Kong people to save one child! I love that. The only thing I hate is moralistic movies that tell you what's good and what's bad. I think everybody is bad in life, nobody is innocent.
SNUB: There's a little bit of both in everybody... There was something said about how we're all born evil, and if we get a chance, we get good.
ÁLEX: Innocent people don't exist, only silly people.
SNUB: Can you moralize anything anymore? When you're writing or directing films, can you at all take any position that allows you to moralize and say this is the way it should be?
ÁLEX: The good people are the authentic, real people who admit they're bad, because they're honest. I think the crew of terrorists in my movie are honest, silly, violent, and bad. The problems come when the leader of the terrorists becomes dishonest, then they destroy themselves.
SNUB: Something to do with choice...
ÁLEX: All this is shit, though... I'm only trying to make a funny film.
SNUB: A tractor with a family of perverts pulls up to a tree where a two-headed mutant is hanging from his dead twin brother's broken neck... Where does imagery like that come from?
ÁLEX: It's a mixture of great ideas... a bit of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. I think we're all a little like the perverted desert family. Everybody looks at porno magazines and porno movies. I think we'd all like to catch the girl, then hit and mutilate her, but we can't because we have very big troubles in mind, but these people have no troubles in mind.
SNUB: Do you get these characters and slowly it comes about, or do you see this "moment." For instance when the two-headed mutant walks around with a gun in his hand while his brother's head has an axe in it, do you SEE those images while you're writing or is it a slow process you get on the set, and then it works?
ÁLEX: Good question... I draw comics, so I storyboard my whole movies first. When I get together with someone else to write a script, I think in terms of imagery. I hate "literary" scripts. I think the best thing is to imagine images and work with those. The only way to make movies, with my little experience, I think, is to try to put IMAGES on paper.
SNUB: Another shot I admired was when the general was silhouetted in the distance... I could see you had a sense of illustration...
ÁLEX: Thank you. In this movie I worked with my own crew. It was very difficult to convince the producers, but it's the only way to work with these kinds of images. I put a very big person in the first plane, then the next one... like Himmler. We tell the operator, "We'd like to try this", O.K.? We talk about lens, split focus, the actors complain because they can't move. It was a battle not to lose the focus, but it was the only way. Working with a crew you trust is the only way. If you can't get it, you can't work with these kinds of images. The image was like Rommel, no?
SNUB: How about the ending, with the news crew during the confrontation? The whole culmination of having everyone come in to the bar, big drama built up. The way you dealt with it, was you broke all this drama by bringing the news crew in to interview each character back and forth as it happened. Did that come up on the set or during writing?
ÁLEX: It was storyboarded. When the news crew comes up to the Rommel character... I built the set with the story in mind, (and even chose the lens) a year before it was shot. We figured what the size of the walls would be with a maquette in proportion with the size of the lens. We moved little GI JOES around this maquette to represent the characters. This preplanning made the actual shooting go by very fast... But during the same shooting, you can come up with very good ideas. Like during the wedding sequence I added another camera move.
SNUB: In Latin American countries, and in Spain, there seems to be a real move towards horror and gore films... In South America, Central America, foreign horror films are really strong, could you tell us why?
ÁLEX: In Spain, mine is the only sci-fi movie. It's a moderate success, because they're not so big on black comedies. They like movies on civil war, or movies based on a very "quality look", and then suddenly: Mutant terrorists! The reaction was very drastic. One group of people said; "Alex, you can't make anymore movies, because you're a sick person, please leave the cinema profession." Those are the critics. Then people on the street come up to me and say, "I've seen the movie 4 times, I dress like the characters, I play the soundtrack on my walkman all the time." It's great.
SNUB: All the critics are like that with you?
ÁLEX: No, one part of the critics say I hate you, one part say, it's the best movie. I think that's a good thing.
SNUB: When people love AND hate you, that's the best place to be. How did you get that flying saucer wheelchair to transport the legless terrorist around?
ÁLEX: That's a very problematic question. We worked 2 years on post-production. The production company didn't believe in us... they said, O.K., the Americans can pull off stuff like this, but not you. We had to build a crane with wires, (draws a picture). When I worked on preproduction, it was hard to convince the producers that it was possible to pull off. The spaceships too...
SNUB: Convincing producers is the most difficult thing in the world.
ÁLEX: "I am NOT crazy, I CAN do this movie". I built the crane, I built the "U.F.O.," I put the actor in it with my own hands. I sculpted some of the monster cat. I shot one minute of the mutant flying around, I sat the producer down and showed him the results, and THEN he gave me the go-ahead. But the first time I worked with the flying mutant, the whole thing fell on the floor. I thought I had killed the actor. I put him in an ambulance and took him to the hospital. He was unconscious for a week. I was at his bedside. It was very hard. At this point I thought I would never work in film again, and I will be sent to jail. But that's the only way to do it... Afterwards the same actor resumed his role, but we wrote a helmet into his costume design! The special effects crew says to me,"Security distance is one meter," but I needed to get nearer, so I got nearer, and then... BANG! He falls down. "Good shot, no?"...All his legs burned...
SNUB: Well look at John Woo, he must have the occasional accident.
ÁLEX: He must, but John Woo is the master. Always very well planned. He says BULLET IN THE HEAD is his best movie. I haven't seen it.
SNUB: What did you use for sperm, when the pervert family ejaculates in their pants, and it goes down their legs?
ÁLEX: "Sanex"... It's a hand lotion.
SNUB: Do you actually publish your comics?
ÁLEX: They used to be published in newspapers, but now I"m too busy writing movies. I had a character that was just a ball of hair and teeth, sort of like in GOONIES, but funnier, and they went around killing each other. It was called "THE THING OF THE RIVER," published in a local paper.
SNUB: Any chance we'll be seeing ACCION MUTANTE action figures?
ÁLEX: I'd love to but so far we only have tee-shirts.
Interview by Anthony Sec, Oct. 9, 1993
September 12, 2002
SUICIDE PART TWO: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ALAN VEGA; "TOO STOOPID TO BE STOOPID!" (pictured right; Vega, circa '77 from Suicide's self-titled debut LP. Click on the image to hear excerpt from interview)
After local electro band Unireverse anesthetized us (for the blow to the noggin we were about to receive from Suicide) w/delightful extended jams of Donna Summers' "I Feel Love" & a Spaceman 3 tune accompanied by silhouetted girls miming & shadow-dancing through a backlit sheet, me & my date grabbed a spot against the front of Casa Popolo's Sala Rosa stage to wait for the fireworks to begin. Suddenly without warning, Martin Rev's harsh, hypnotic beats & minimal preprogrammed melodies blasted the DJ's tunes off the PA & in a matter of seconds the stage curtains flung open. Singer Alan Vega kept fumbling/adjusting his mic stand, dropping it, flailing it about 'til it fell into the audience. We thought we were gonna get the base of the stand in our face at one point, with him angrily, indiscriminately thrusting it outward. But further into the set, still anticipating potential physical assault, I froze as Vega kneeled over, caressed my hair & gently ran his broken microphone down my date's chest. He also kissed a bunch of girls gyrating in front of him.
As I found out later, audience reaction was mixed, people generally expressing embarrassment for what came across as an unintelligible drunken mess. Chloe Lum maintains that Vega "rolling around & flubbing lyrics" wasn't part of the act, that he was "drunk as a skunk" 'cause when she noticed him going backstage all the time she scooted over where she could see what he was doing &Vega was drinking full glasses of straight vodka from a 60 oz bottle & eating corn-chips & carrots w/dip, asking his wife what song he was supposed to do. She'd reply; "oh baby, come on, you know this one," & sing him the lyrics to refresh his memory. People I knew dismissed Vega, likening him to a fucked up, wasted, clueless present-day Ozzy Osbourne, but Suicide's songs aren't metal anthems, they're blank slates on top of which Vega likes to seize the moment, no matter how ugly that moment is, whatever kind of moment he might happen to be mired in. We were forewarned, via various interviews he'd done for local weeklies, that Suicide's shows, as he explains it, are never the same thing twice, they have an improv aspect to them. So Vega was drunk. So what. He successfully turned his drunkenness into a concept. Maybe a concept whose thesis'll be abruptly forgotten with the-morning-after's massive hangover, but for the time being here it is, in your face & "fuck you, motherfucker," as he repeatedly put it live, speed-mumbling automatist, spontaneous ramblings into the mic, howling at the moon.
I was mesmerized. Redundant or not, I thought it was perfect. SUICIDE is reality. Redundancy is reality. It was sick. It was tragic. It was like a horror movie. It was a historic event. It probably helped that I was inches away from them, taking in every subtle, chaotic nuance motivating Vega from one side of the stage to the next. He hollered how beautiful Montreal was & how lucky we are not to worry about being obliterated to smithereens every 24 hours, followed by incoherent Bush-bashing. His interview days ago with local free weekly ICI came to mind, in which he explained how he couldn't foretell what's in store for his musical outfit because he almost bit the dust living just 2 blocks away from The World Trade Center when it came tumbling down last year. On a couple of occasions during the show & in my interview (below) I wondered if Vega's current turmoil comes from being permanently frazzled/damaged by 9/11, this being the 1st year anniversary of that most suicidal event (perpetrators and ensuing victims jumping from windows), being commemorated 2 blocks from "Suicide's" house as I write this.
Keyboardist Martin Rev provided counterbalance to all the confused chaos that was Vega by obsessive-compulsively, dementedly zeroing in on his poor, shriveling, wobbly rig, grimacing at & mocking the machinery like a mad scientist. He'd gesticulate exaggeratedly twisted mangled fingers, pointing & shaking his fist & sticking his tongue out at the keys before violently hammering, pounding & kung-fuing choppy, vinyl-scratch/fuzz-guitar hybrid blurts over hypnotic preprogrammed riffs. Following these temper tantrums, he'd slap a smug smirk on his face & strut in a circle, self-satisfied, pausing for the occasional victorious hug from Vega, both of them wholly & hilariously unapologetic for the disarray. Barely recognizable "classics" whizzed by like, Cheree, Ghost Rider, & a creepy, panicked, speedcore rendition of Frankie Teardrop, Vega speaking in tongues opposite to the original recording of 25 years ago where the uncommon clarity of annunciation inspired calculated claustrophobia & despair rather than today's trigger-happy jitters, snuffed out at the blink of an eye. Rev grabbed the mic at the very end ranting against what sounded like stupid people spending all their dough to be like the U.S. or something, some kind of anti-consumerist rant with a smidgen of macarena-like Spice Girls samples built in (I could be wrong). A lot of their riffs always had an exotic, funky (& simultaneously zombie deadpan) dance flavor. Could this be 'cause the first beat-boxes always had a limited range (ending up defining their style)? I remember buying a primitive (expensive at the time) beat-box in 1980 that just had a half dozen metronome-like beats; a few variations on "rock" but also "salsa," "swing," "waltz," "polka," etc... When I first heard Suicide records I was surprised to hear them use those kinds of beats other than "rock." It made them sound even more mutated & perverse. Like you can almost hear the castanets & maracas in them. Oh, & the all-important staccato handclaps that sound like a fist to the face.
I originally asked a guy I know who'd read FROM THE VELVETS TO THE VOIDOIDS, a book chronicling NYC's pre-punk bands detailing Suicide's early days (which I can't find anywhere in Montreal, damn it), thinking he'd have good background info on them to pull out if need be. But he backed out at the last minute, so after having lugged my tape recorder around all night I decided to wing it myself. Unfortunately, the last book I read that happened to include Suicide was (the excellent) BUBBLEGUM MUSIC: FROM THE BANANA SPLITS TO BRITNEY SPEARS where Vega & Rev are mentioned as having once been managed by former Buddah Records publicist Marty Thau (of Yummy Yummy, Chewy Chewy, & Goody Goody Gumdrops fame, among others).
Rick Trembles: Did you ever play Hurrah's (NYC)?
Alan Vega: Yeah.
Trembles: Yeah I saw you there, you were promoting your second record.
Vega: I did a couple of shows there (falls off his chair)…
Trembles: You guys were really suave then, you guys were really like, uh, ultra-cool. Ultra slick & suave & tonight you were flinging yourself around all over the place. Is that a new concept or something?
Trembles: Flinging around all over the place?
Vega: No, I was always doing that, man.
Trembles: As opposed to being more suave?
Vega: Naw, whatever tonight was, it might be different tomorrow night, I don't know.
Vega: Oh yeah.
Trembles: It was excellent, I mean I'm not knockin' it. It completely blew me away. You guys have a bubble-gum influence?
Vega: Yeah, absolutely.
Trembles: Like, what are your favorite bubble-gum tunes?
Vega: I have no bubble-gum tunes. No bubble-gum tunes.
Trembles: Cheree was starting to sound like bubble-gum to me.
Vega: It was never bubble-gum.
Trembles: No? But Marty Thau or whatever, was he like a producer or something of yours?
Vega: He's an asshole.
Trembles: He's an asshole?
Vega: Asshole manager, man.
Trembles: He was involved in bubble-gum beforehand, right?
Vega: Yeah, exactly. But so what?
Trembles: Naw, I'm just wondering.
Vega: I'm not involved in that crap.
Trembles: Naw, but you guys, you got this uh, you got these simple basic tunes sometimes..
Trembles: About like real… real, uh…
Vega: Real people?
Trembles: Precious love songs. Yeah.
Vega: So what's wrong with that?
Trembles: Real catchy stuff...
Vega: Yeah I know, it's great.
Trembles: I'm not knockin' bubble-gum.
Vega: I wish the world would understand that, so a band called Suicide could make some bubble-gum crap, man.
Trembles: Well, yeah.
Vega: Lookit Weezer right now with that, that... stoopid crap. I'm not goin' that far, man.
Trembles: Well they're not basic enough. You guys really strip it down to the basics.
Vega: Yeah well, it's uh…
Trembles: They clutter it up with all kindsa irony & crap.
Vega: We're a blues band. We're a country & western band.
Trembles: You're doing it straight-faced.
Trembles: It's not this bullshit irony & all that stuff.
Vega: I'm too stupid to be ironic.
Trembles: I don't think that's the case…
Vega: Well, that's what I think.
Trembles: I think irony's a way to cover up stupidity. Irony's a defense mechanism.
Vega: OK, I'm stooopit! I'm covering up, is that what you wanna hear?
Trembles: No, that's not what I'm saying…
Vega: SAY IT!
Trembles: No, I'm saying the stuff that's trying to be too clever for words…
Vega: Actually, I'm too stoopid to be stoopid.
Trembles (to self): ...too stupid to be stupid…
Vega: Too stupid to be stupid to be ironic. ALL RIGHT, you wanna problem here? I'll give you the fuck you, man!
Trembles: I never called anybody stupid!
Vega: Well, fuck you, man. No… I'm pissed!
Trembles: I'm just saying you strip it down to the basics whereas other bands clutter it all up, you know… with bullshit cleverness?
Vega: They're all clever & stoopid & they clog yer arteries.
Trembles: It's clog-yer-arteries stupid.
Vega: And they get heart attacks & the real deals have a harder time to get really through. That's obvious. I'm not doing that shit.
Vega: When I called my band Suicide… (mumble, grumble)…not like Dead Kennedies & other bands…
Trembles: Naw, that's too obvious.
Vega: So it's like STOOPID, man.
Trembles: No it ain't.
Vega: It's like, fuck you if you can't take a fucken joke.
Trembles: Yeah, but it ain't a fucken joke.
Vega: The world has changed now. It's changed when you have these asshole Bush motherFUCKERS, these Arab motherfuckers… There's fifty families in the world that are controlling the oil flow & it's like; FUCK us!
Trembles: Well that makes me feel stupid.
Vega: And all of them passing laws, you know… Take a piss in the street & you're fucken busted for 20 years, you know? It's fucked up man. It's fucked up. I hate it. I'm sorry but…
Trembles: Everything's pretty apocalyptic sounding or looking these days but there's still room for like, stripped down sentiments.
Vega: It's NOT apocalyptic. It'd be wonderful if it WAS finally apocalyptic so we can all like, say: OK!
Trembles: You're talkin' suicidal here…
Vega: No, I'm not talkin' suicidal. Different kinds of suicide, you know?
Trembles: There's slow death & there's quick death.
Vega: Bush & those prickheads… They don't wanna see suicidal… It's the end of the world so they won't have anything anyway, you know what I mean? It's like Bush, he's fucken worried about his oil fields there, & Iraq & uh, (mumble, grumble)…
Trembles: You think there's a death wish in there?
Vega: No! Not at all, they don't want a death wish, they wanna get rid of the people that (mumble, grumble) …petroleum crap. It's not about countries anymore man, it's about FUCKEN families, stoopid families, 50 families that rule the world. No… I mean it, man.
Trembles: Um, it's real complicated. I gotta say... You know, a year ago I swore I'd do a lot of research on all this shit. I haven't done it.
Vega: Yeah, 'cause we're all getting' tired, man.
Trembles: It's too much work.
Vega: It's too much work. We're getting' tired. That's what they count on. They count on us like, we're too tired already. You know, I'm an old guy now, I went through the whole Vietnam... I went through the gas... I went through the fucken knocks on the head, you know? You know what I mean, man? I'm pissed!
Trembles: Well, what do you think's gonna happen with like, kids comin' outta this? What are they gonna make out of it?
Vega: I don't KNOW! I have no idea.
Trembles: They're not gonna just roll over & croak?
Vega: I don't know, I don't know, maybe they will, I don't KNOW! How do I know what those fuckers think?
Trembles: You think it's gonna like, uh, strengthen them or something?
Vega: I DON'T know!
Trembles: …or is it just gonna make 'em callused?
Vega: I don't KNOW!!!
Trembles: It's tough, eh?
Vega: It's the future, I don't know, I don't know. I'm sorry.
Trembles: Well, I'm not lookin' for any answers from you, I'm just wondering what your opinion is…
Vega: I'm SORRY. That's the thing, I don't KNOW! I don't KNOW! I'm not a futurist, man. I'm not.
Trembles: Well, it was pretty futuristic sounding though, I gotta say. 20 years ago… & when I saw it tonight, both times were futuristic sounding.
Vega: Thank you.
Trembles: As far as the music's concerned.
Vega (to his wife): Let's get outta here, did we get paid or what?
Vega: We did?
After all of Vega's belligerence, bile & hazardous flailing limbs spewing over what's in store for the future, a cute little kid, about 3 or 4 year old walked in, Dante, I think his name was. For some reason this stunned me speechless (I didn't know Vega had a kid).
Trembles: That's your son?
Kid: I wanna go home.
Vega: We're going home. Tomorrow we're flying back to our home. Thank god.
That sounded like as good a cue as any to end the interview so I got up & made room for a guy with crutches to get Vega's autograph & loomed by the doorway for a while. Then Vega got up, walked over to me & gave me & my date a big hug good-bye. "You really rocked out, man," I told him.
(interviewed, Sept. 7) © rick trembles 2002
September 5, 2002
SUICIDE PART ONE…
I can't believe legendary punk electro-duo SUICIDE are playing Montreal this weekend w/Unireverse opening up, (& hopefully Les Georges Leningrad, but word is, they had to cancel out). Get your tix at Casa Popolo quick. I heard it's their only North American date & then they're off to Europe. There's a rumor going around that keyboardist Martin Rev lives in Montreal now. Maybe that's why they're kicking their tour off from here. They've been around since the early seventies, same pre-punk milieu as the New York Dolls.
I first saw SUICIDE in the late 70's in NYC when they were promoting their 2nd self-titled LP, (the one with the bleeding woman's leg cut shaving in the shower). It blew me away. It was just the 2 of them in a small club. Rev wore shades & had this ugly, big, dark, square, homemade looking machine for a keyboard that went up to about his chest. They were deadpan as can be, but ultra-slick & funny. Singer Alan Vega kept doing cigarette tricks with his hand like some kind of casino hustler. Whenever he'd blurt out one of his patented yelps, Rev would look like he'd physically captured it into his keyboard & manipulate some knobs so that the yelp would reverberate & echo around the bar buried into the melody just like on their records. It was mesmerizing. At one point Vega came up behind Rev & gave him a big hug/stranglehold for such a long time Rev went mock-limp. Something real S&M-ish about it that was creepy/great.
A few years later I saw Vega's solo act at NYC's Max's Kansas City when he had a band. There was nobody there, but he was dressed like a Vegas Elvis pretending he was performing for thousands by never looking at anyone in the audience, just desperately focusing his eyes over our heads way beyond some imaginary horizon line. It was kind of sad because the show was obviously a flop, but uplifting in the way Vega was defiantly giving it his all. Creepy also. At one point Vega gave shit to a New Jersey punk brat girl that was front row center because she was disrespectfully yammering so loud you could hear it pick up into the mic. Max's was half greasy-spoon at the time so my elbows picked up salt, ketchup & slimy french-fry crumbs off the table while watching the show.
Vega practically sites Stooges-era Iggy as a saint due for canonization for miracles performed. Here's a couple juicy quotes by one of Iggydom's more enduring disciples all about his first impressions in an excellent epic 1979 NO MAGAZINE interview by Edit De Ak...
Vega: "...I MEAN, IGGY WAS ME, MAN… OR I WAS IGGY… OR IGGY WAS ME… you know what I mean? There was another person in the world who was into the same thing I was into & I knew it. IMMEDIATELY I KNEW I WASN'T INSANE ANYMORE, man. I was perfectly sane. Because there was another one & if there was another one, there was another one & there was another one & there was another one… & it was more than I could ever imagine, you know. And that was immediately, it was like; oh wow, I'm sane, man, there's another nut like me in this world…"
Vega: "…I mean, like, I was blown away. My life had changed at this point. I mean, like, everything I'd been into… My art, my music, my everything, man, my SELF, I was a new person… I mean I walked out of there & I said, look, I'm going to be honest with myself, man, I've got to follow this thing wherever it goes because I couldn't be true to myself if I stayed with what I was in or if I stayed the person I was…"
Vega: "…What Iggy was doing with his singing, his body, everything, IT WAS TOTAL, I MEAN, HE WAS JUST TRANSFORMED, he was in another time zone, it was another space zone, I mean, I don't know what it was… I mean, I walked out of there… I was completely… I mean, my life was changed, man. YOU WALK INTO A GIG AS SO-&-SO, you know what you know about yourself, & WALK OUT TOTALLY A BIG QUESTION MARK…"
Vega: "…I want to bring to the world what Iggy brought to me, man. If there are other little kids in the world who are walking around the way I was walking around, not knowing about themselves, thinking that they're the only one in the world, like they are, you know, a totally alone trip, wondering about themselves, thinking they're totally off the wall because none of their friends are feeling what they're feeling, none of their friends are doing what they're doing… I want to go out there & hope this kid comes to one of my gigs, you know, & says, "holy shit, another one just like me" & feel better about himself…"