So, Faith No More’s comeback album Sol Invictus just debuted at #14 on the Billboard 200 – a hell of an accomplishment for a rock band these days, even if it isn’t quite enough for “album of the year” status (then again, FNM already has an Album of the Year). With the band set to play Madison Square Garden in August, I remembered that sometime around 1998-99, I interviewed frontman Mike Patton for a zine I was trying to put together for the old Knitting Factory, back when it was in Tribeca. The zine didn’t end up happening, so the conversation was never published, but I recently dug up the tape and gave it a listen.
B + B Q + A
Once upon a time there were things called subcultures, that managed to thrive despite promotion through “social channels” or sponsorships from energy drinks. Since 1980, 156 Rivington Street has been a subculture enclave for activists, artists, counter culturists, and assorted noisemakers, providing a non-profit space to exchange ideas and physically interact. It’s not secret that the hardcore punk scene was once a magnet for such individuals, so when the storied matinee shows at CBGB became too violent in the late-’80s, punk turned off the Bowery to Rivington Street to ABC No Rio.
In a matter of a few years, Jon Fine, formerly of the band Bitch Magnet, went from an indie rock lifer cavorting from Williamsburg warehouse party to coke-soaked dive bar and barely making enough to make rock bottom rent on his train-side apartment to contributing on air to CNBC and writing columns for BusinessWeek. Clearly, those were different days– that same Williamsburg apartment would cost a small fortune to rent now and Fine suffers from permanent hearing loss, though he’s happily married and is the author of a new book Your Band Sucks. Fine’s memoir traces his rise to indie fame as the guitar player for Bitch Magnet to ultimately, what he calls, “the failed revolution.”
You probably remember Awkwafina best from “NYC Bitche$” in which the pint-sized Queens-native (no, she’s not from Flushing) raps, “Bitches be in Bushwick, they all live in Bushwick, they all love Bushwick, but I say fuck that shit,” and wreaks havoc on iPad-wielding bros by the Bedford stop. Her video wasn’t exactly a reaction to Catey Shaw’s notoriously tone-deaf North Brooklyn bubble video, “Brooklyn Girls” (“NYC Bitche$” was actually released before Shaw’s much-maligned video bombed) but it certainly stands as the opposition. But Awkwafina is seeking to further solidify her New York City street cred with a new project.
A couple weeks back I was lucky enough to have lunch with Lydia Lunch, a legendary figure in the New York no wave scene and the hurricane-like force behind Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, queen of spoken word, and now a multi-faceted visual artist who remains inextricably tied to the downtown scene of the late 1970s and ’80s despite having left New York City in the dust a long time ago. Understandably, Lunch’s feelings about the city have changed somewhat over the years. “I hate fuckin’ New York,” she told me. “It’s dirty and you’re paying five times too much for every fuckin’ thing. I don’t understand how it can be so expensive and still suck in so many ways. The quality of the food, the subways– I’d rather walk. Rats, disgusting.”
I hate to say it, but I can sort of imagine Natasha Vaynblat, when she was Ms. Vaynblat, coming off at first as the teacher who could be walked all over. She’s nice, cute, and says things like “oh my gosh” with complete sincerity, but her unassuming nature belies her comic demeanor. During her four years as a teacher (she left the job in 2013, for comedy), Natasha loved to prank her students. In “United Federation of Teachers,” her first one-woman show at UCB Chelsea, the audience gets to see both her victories over troublemakers and her hilarious miscalculations, all of which remind me of the myriad reasons why I’ll never willingly put myself in charge of children. B+B spoke with her over the phone about her experiences and her new show.
John Eatherly has been doing the music thing for a while, having dropped out of high school at 17 to pursue music. “I’ve played in a lot of different bands over the years,” he explained. But Public Access TV seems to be his most focused effort to date. The band has just dropped their first proper release in the United States, Public Access EP on Terrible Records, and Eatherly’s not just songwriting, he’s also spotlighted as the lead vocals and guitars. The fact that Public Access TV really sees Eatherly coming into his own probably has something to do with the fact that he’s supremely close with all the other band members. In fact, three of four members (all except for the drummer) lived together in an East Village apartment. New York’s always been somewhat tough, Eatherly admits, but when their apartment burned down in the East Village fire last month, he realized things could always be harder.
If you haven’t heard of comedian Sue Smith yet, you likely will soon, because Time Out New York named her one of the 10 funniest women in NYC in 2014 and she’s coming out with an EP, Slutty Pretzel, on May 7 on The Experiment Comedy Network. Or maybe you met her in McCarren Park one recent Saturday when — as a member of UCB1, the Upright Citizens Brigade “news” team — she asked you to stick something up your vagina to save the world. We called her up to learn more.
The Tribeca Film Festival is here and one of the more exciting feature films on view is Jackrabbit, a throwback dystopian sci-fi film that follows the lives of people who cordoned themselves off from the rest of the world after “The Reset,” an event that sounds to us a little bit like the Y2K that never was. But not everything about this post-apocalyptic society is unfamiliar– one major issue is the constant surveillance of citizens of the annexed nation. The only technology available is outmoded stuff, web 1.0 and before. To help set the mood for the spooky, tense atmosphere of the film, Will Berman (of MGMT) was recruited to compose the soundtrack which is ruled by minimal electronic vibes and ambient noise.
Stacy Wakefield’s new book The Sunshine Crust Baking Factory, being published by Akashic in May, weaves together her experiences as a squatter in New York City back in the late ’90s. Though it’s a fictional account and the main character Sid, who makes her home in squats in Williamsburg and the Lower East Side, is based on a number of people, the book still offers a window into the waning years of what was once a vibrant squat scene.
We spoke with Wakefield, 43, about the book and what the squatting life was like before it all but disappeared.
Being fanboys of the Brooklyn boy band Bottoms, we caught up with them at their Secret Project Robot home base in Bushwick just before they take off on their European tour. But don’t freak, you still have a chance to catch Jake Dibeler, Simon Leahy, and Michael Prommasit at the Butt magazine party this weekend (appropriately titled Club Butt). For the uninitiated, Bottoms are a gay electro-punk band known for their wild, confrontational draggy shows. Steeped in punk and DIY as well as performance art, these ladies really know how to shake up a static room.
Danielle De Jesus is surprisingly level-headed when talking about how gentrification has affected her family and her community. The 27-year-old artist was born and raised in Bushwick and has seen the neighborhood change dramatically over the past several years. Her photographs, part of a one-day-only exhibition, “Made in Bushwick,” happening at the Living Gallery this Thursday evening, capture a neighborhood most newcomers might never have seen and the stark contrast between old and new.